"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 Medley #6

Money, Privatization, Teacher Evaluations, Tenure, Teacher Expertise, Public Education Funding


"Anyone who denies that the "reform" movement isn't abetting a wholesale transfer of public monies and property to private concerns is either corrupt or willingly obtuse."

The above quote is from Education "Reform": The Endgame by Jersey Jazzman, a.k.a. Duke. It pinpoints the main goal of the privatization movement -- money. They're not in it for students. They're not interested in improving the nation's education process. They want money.

Big money...
The fine, reformy folks who love to claim that they don't have any skin in the game -- the ones who either implicitly or explicitly call out unions and teachers for acting out of self-interest -- seem to do awfully well for themselves. Why, there's Eva Moskowitz, brave crusader against the terrible teachers unions (according to the bible of the ruling class, the Wall Street Journal), pulling down nearly half-a-mil a year even as she decries the "bullying" UFT. There's Chris Cerf, off to greener pastures at Rupert Murdoch's Amplify after sending NJ's schools down the reformy path. And there's Joe Bruno, pulling down more than $400K for arranging financing for charter school construction. 
It gets worse...more money, union busting. Read the rest...includes a great clip of George Carlin telling the truth.


Dan Casey: Privatize teachers? It could happen

Are we going to be privatizing and/or outsourcing, teachers? Will we be hiring temporaries to fill slots...contracting with some teacher-supply corporation to teach the hard to teach students, to save money on salaries and benefits...

Think it can't happen?
So I asked him: When he started on the school board in 1995, did he ever imagine he’d be faced with the question of outsourcing nurses, cafeteria workers and bus drivers?

His answer was no. Yet here we are.


Florida Outrage! Junk Science Ratings Will be Released to Media

Once you allow legislators to dictate that teacher evaluations should be based on student test scores all manner of nutty things can happen...

Do we increase standardized testing to include every subject, every year -- art, music, health, for example? Or do we rate teachers based on test scores from students they never taught?
The following notice was sent to all teachers in Florida from the State Commissioner of Education, letting teachers know that their names and evaluations will be released to the media. Most teachers do not teach tested subjects and grades, so their ratings are based on the test scores of children they never taught. [emphasis added]


The Vergara Case and Other People’s Children: A Teacher’s View

It's all about so-called "tenure." "Tenure," for most K-12 educators, is simply another word for due-process. Due process is a fundamental principle in American justice. When an individual is faced with a loss of life, liberty or property, due process assures that he or she is "entitled to adequate notice, a hearing, and a neutral judge."

Due process, when it relates to public school educators means that, before a teacher is fired, proof of their incompetence, immorality, or other offense must be presented. This means that the burden of proof of a teacher being unfit for work is upon the administration. There are some things which can be done to insure that poor teachers are removed from the classroom -- something which everyone, even teachers unions, want -- for example...

1. Improve the quality of administrators. Incompetent administrators who don't know how to evaluate teachers, or who don't keep adequate records are the main reason that "bad" teachers remain in classrooms. If you can't show that a teacher is not doing his or her job, then why should we take away they're livelihood?

2. Improve evaluation procedures. Most testing experts agree that test scores aren't a valid measure of a teacher's quality. There are evaluation procedures which can be used...and have been used with great success...until "reformers" have decided that real evaluation doesn't fit their agenda. See

Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching by Linda Darling-Hammond

Helping Teachers Help Themselves and Peer Assistance and Review
Teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District is an exercise in futility these days. Watching this court case unfold with its Trojan Horse arguments about the best education for students is like hearing the 1% argue that what the financial system needs is less regulation so that the poor people of the country can be free to achieve their American Dream.

Their words are all about “liberty” and “justice” and “equality”, but it is obvious who reaps the benefits of those terms.


You think you know what teachers do. Right? Wrong.

Valerie Strauss published a guest post from teacher-turned-attorney Sarah Blaine explaining why teaching is so difficult...
I spent a little over a year earning a master of arts in teaching degree. Then I spent two years teaching English Language Arts in a rural public high school. And I learned that my 13 years as a public school student, my 4 years as a college student at a highly selective college, and even a great deal of my year as a masters degree student in the education school of a flagship public university hadn’t taught me how to manage a classroom, how to reach students, how to inspire a love of learning, how to teach. Eighteen years as a student (and a year of preschool before that), and I didn’t know shit about teaching. Only years of practicing my skills and honing my skills would have rendered me a true professional. An expert. Someone who knows about the business of inspiring children. Of reaching students. Of making a difference. Of teaching.
The article is making the rounds on social media and education blogs...and teachers can relate. We understand that the billionaires and policy makers who are orchestrating the direction of public education in America (towards privatization) have no clue what it's like to be in a classroom. The nation's "highest ranking educator," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, has never attended or taught in a public school. He's not an educator. People like Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, and the Walton Family are lobbying and buying the privatization of public education without knowing anything about it. Teachers understand this. Sarah Blaine gets it. People don't know education simply because they were students once...

Nationally, people like Duncan, Gates and the Waltons (and in Indiana, people like Behning, Pence, Long and Kruse), minimize and demonize teachers. They do so because they don't have the ability to teach. They do so because they don't have any education experience and don't have the credentials or the understanding to make educational policy. They do so because by minimizing the education and expertise of teachers they try to make their own ignorance and inexperience less obvious and justify what they do to public education.
...you [non-educators making education policy] did not design curricula, plan lessons, attend faculty meetings, assess papers, design rubrics, create exams, prepare report cards, and monitor attendance. You did not tutor students, review rough drafts, and create study questions. You did not assign homework. You did not write daily lesson objectives on the white board. You did not write poems of the week on the white board. You did not write homework on the white board. You did not learn to write legibly on the white board while simultaneously making sure that none of your students threw a chair out a window.
I agree completely...
  • While simultaneously decrying the overwhelming number of "bad" teachers some "reformers" tout the benefits of firing experienced teachers in order to replace them with 5 week trainees.
  • Other "reformers" blame the teachers unions, though high union membership is not correlated in any way with low student performance, whereas, poverty is. Those same "reformers" call poverty an "excuse."
  • President Obama, through Secretary Duncan, has encouraged privatization of schools, calling for closing "failing" schools -- otherwise known as schools attended by students with high levels of poverty. The current administration in Washington blames schools for not overcoming the effects of poverty...something it hasn't done either.
...all without the benefit of public education experience.

...all without understanding what it's like to teach in a public school.


Vic’s Statehouse Notes #174 – February 26, 2014

Governor Pence has clearly favored private schools over public schools in the competitive marketplace of schools which we now have in Indiana. When public schools are kept in a perpetual state of financial uncertainty and budget cutting, they have a hard time competing with private schools for parent selections, especially when parents are often looking for small class sizes when they choose a school...

The Governor’s plan to eliminate $1 billion in business property taxes to help businesses has threatened schools, cities, towns, libraries and county governments with the latest self-inflicted crisis of financial instability. For public schools, that translates into more difficulty in competing in the school choice marketplace...This is no time to give public schools another financial headache through a new round of funding cuts resulting from changes in the business property tax.

All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Musical Interlude: G.F. Handel - Feb 23, 1685

Today, Feb 23, is G. F. Handel's 381st birthday. He was born in Halle, Duchy of Magdeburg.

Most people know of George Frideric Handel because of his oratorio, The Messiah...and the Hallelujah Chorus. Handel was, however, a prolific composer in the early 18th century

The video below is a bit of his Royal Fireworks Music. This particular video features actual baroque instruments like natural trumpets, corni da caccia, and baroque oboes. Using period instruments means that you'll hear notes played a bit out of tune, especially by the brass since baroque brass instruments had no valves and could only play the notes in a harmonic series.

The Royal Fireworks was a commission by King George II. The online Britannica explains...
When England’s King George II commissioned Handel to write music celebrating the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), he specified that the piece should be played by a military band without stringed instruments. Handel complied with the king’s request, scoring the music for 9 trumpets, 9 horns, 24 oboes, 12 bassoons, 1 contrabassoon, 1 serpent, 6 kettledrums, and 2 side drums, but he later added strings for the first indoor performance.

Acknowledging the occasion for which the piece was composed, Handel attached descriptive titles to the two central movements: the third movement is called “La Paix” (“The Peace”) in honour of the treaty itself, and the fourth is called “La Réjouissance” (“The Rejoicing”) to commemorate the mood of elation that followed.


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

2014 Medley #5

Public Schools, Politicians, Tax Money for Religion, NEA, Poverty, Privatization


The Myth Behind Public School Failure

Read The Shock Doctrine.
Look closely—you’ll recognize the formula: Underfund schools. Overcrowd classrooms. Mandate standardized tests sold by private-sector firms that “prove” these schools are failures. Blame teachers and their unions for awful test scores. In the bargain, weaken those unions, the largest labor organizations remaining in the United States. Push nonunion, profit-oriented charter schools as a solution.

If a Hurricane Katrina or a Great Recession comes along, all the better. Opportunities for plunder increase as schools go deeper into crisis, whether genuine or ginned up.


I taught third grade (eight and nine year olds) for much of my career. The behavior of some of the politicians in Indiana is reminding me of my experiences on the playground with discipline...

Indiana Senate Republicans sanction Sen. Mike Delph over remarks

A state senator engages in childish behavior...arguing his position through sarcasm and shaming...
Delph took to Twitter to voice his frustrations. In a prolific, three-day war of words, Delph criticized his fellow Republicans, saying they had turned their back on the conservative base of the Indiana Republican Party.

Delph also lashed out at the media and the "self-absorbed Godless culture that is fast-tracking our nation to ruin."
Senate leader punishes Mike Delph over tweet

Then the same senator "broke the rules" about a discussion (about the same issue) in the party caucus and is being punished.
• Delph will lose his leadership position as the Senate’s assistant majority floor leader of communications.

• Delph will not retain his title as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

• He will lose his press secretary.
What happens to children when they misbehave? They're put in time-out.
• Delph will be given a new seat in the Senate chamber, along side Democrats — in the minority in the House — and across the aisle from Republican leadership. 


Indiana Vouchers Will Help Fix Church Steeples

Public money for private, religious schools -- the entanglement between church and state is becoming more common in Indiana.
  • Why in the world are we as taxpayers helping to fund and maintain private and parochial schools while public school districts are having difficulty maintaining their buildings, paying their staffs, running their buses?
  • Why do public schools have to float bond issues in order to have the funds to maintain the buildings owned by THE PUBLIC?
  • Why in the world are my tax dollars going to repair St. Jude's steeple when the vestry of my own church has turned to its own parishioners for a fund drive to repair its crumbling infrastructure?
  • Why in the world is Indiana funding religious education with no strings attached?
More evidence Indiana vouchers are about teaching religion
Parents are using Indiana school vouchers and tax-credit scholarships to provide their children with religious education at taxpayer expense. That’s the finding that jumps out from a recent survey of private school parents by three pro-voucher Indiana organizations.

The survey found that more than half of parents who used vouchers to transfer their kids to private schools did so in part because they didn’t like the fact that public schools don’t teach religion. And more than two-thirds chose their current school for its religious instruction or environment.
Tax money for religion...is that what the founders meant in the First Amendment? James Madison wrote,
The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.
Bills would expand state program that funds some students' private education with public money

In Arizona...

To spur the public to support the transfer of public funds to private schools pretend that you're doing it to help the poor, or to support our fighting men and women. Then...in subsequent years, increase the number of students who qualify, expanding the program to include not just the poor or children of military, but everyone...

Sound familiar, Indiana?
The House Committee on Education voted in favor of a bill sponsored by Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu, that would allow children of active military personnel and of those killed in action to bypass a waiting period to join the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account program.

A much larger expansion was approved in a different committee last week. That bill would expand eligibility to students who meet free or reduced lunch requirements and to those whose family income exceeds the free and reduced lunch requirements by 15 percent. That income threshold would then increase by 15 percent every year.

Texas Ed Board Candidates Want Religious Beliefs Promoted in Public Schools

In Texas...

Is this what we want for education in America?
We told you Monday that a religious-right group’s voter guide reveals that several Republican candidates in Texas State Board of Education elections this year think government shouldn’t be responsible for making sure all children get an education. The same candidates also support shifting tax dollars from public to private schools. So it might not be surprising to hear that their hostility to public education is matched by their disdain for science and separation of church and state.

According to answers in the voter guide, District 7 incumbent David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, and Fort Worth challengers Eric Mahroum and Lady Theresa Thombs in the District 11 Republican primary all support teaching “intelligent design”/creationism in public schools. They also want biology textbooks to teach creationist arguments about so-called “weaknesses” of evolution. District 11 incumbent Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, indicated that she opposes teaching both “intelligent design” and those discredited “weaknesses” arguments.

All of those candidates, including Hardy, say the Ten Commandments should be displayed in public school buildings, that marriage is a union of one man and one woman and that “no government has the authority to alter this definition.”) They also “strongly agree” that “the more people live by Judeo-Christian values, the less government is needed.”


NEA President: We Need a Course Correction on Common Core

The NEA was among the first to endorse President Obama for reelection, despite a dismal record on public education. Why? Did any one even think to withhold an endorsement and try to wrangle some benefits for public education out of the current administration? Instead, NEA bent over, licked the Democrat's boots, and let them continue to bludgeon America's public school students...not even a whisper of dissent from our union leadership.

Then, under the guise of "getting a seat at the table" NEA jumped onto the CCSS bandwagon....taking money from the Gates Foundation for example.

Now, when public opinion is finally (rightly) turning away from the Common Core NEA President Van Roekel "sees the light."
I am sure it won’t come as a surprise to hear that in far too many states, implementation has been completely botched. Seven of ten teachers believe that implementation of the standards is going poorly in their schools. Worse yet, teachers report that there has been little to no attempt to allow educators to share what’s needed to get CCSS implementation right. In fact, two thirds of all teachers report that they have not even been asked how to implement these new standards in their classrooms.

Imagine that: The very people expected to deliver universal access to high quality standards with high quality instruction have not had the opportunity to share their expertise and advice about how to make CCSS implementation work for all students, educators, and parents.

Consequently, NEA members have a right to feel frustrated, upset, and angry about the poor commitment to implementing the standards correctly.

So, where do we go from here?
Peter Greene at Curmudgucation thinks I'm being too hard. Maybe...

DVR Corrects Course
I am already reading the cries that it is too weak and too late, and there's absolutely no question that it's both. But at this point, there are only two options-- being too late, or staying too wrong. You can't fix Too Late. Absent a time machine, DVR can't undo his ongoing period of wrong-headed quackery. At this point the best we could get would be Too Late But Absolutely Right. Too Late But Slightly Less Wrong isn't perfect, but it's still better than Still Dead Wrong And Unwilling To Talk About It. Sometimes better is all you get.
With all due respect, Mr. Greene...there's a third option. NEA can replace DVR immediately, and start working towards supporting public education in America.

Van Roekel's not-pology for getting sucked in to the CCSS debacle isn't enough to earn my forgiveness. The CCSS are not "high quality standards." I'm not upset by the inability to correctly "implement" the standards. It's the standards themselves that are faulty. The standards were purchased by the Gates Foundation and sold to Pearson. They have never been field-tested. There is no way to adjust them. They are a failed attempt to wrest yet more money from public education using our students as raw materials.

It's time for some real leadership. Tell your NEA-RA representatives to speak out loudly at the NEA-RA in Denver this July. We need to stand up to the corporate education reform industry and the federal government attack on public education.


Our focus should be on protecting children from the impact of poverty

Stephen Krashen continues to be a persistent voice for sanity in public education.
Published in the Wall Street Journal, February 21.

Response to: "A progressive education" (Editorial, Feb. 14)

Your editorial sends the message that our public schools are failing. They aren't. When researchers control for the effects of poverty, American schools rank near the top of the world. Our overall scores are unspectacular because the child poverty rate in the U.S. is very high, 23%, second-highest among all economically advanced countries. Children of poverty suffer from hunger, malnutrition, inferior health care and lack of access to books. All of these have a powerful impact on school performance. The best teaching in the world won't help when children are hungry, ill and have little or nothing to read.
Our focus should be on protecting children from the impact of poverty.

Prof. Em. Stephen Krashen


Bill giving preference to grandkids of charter school founders heads to Senate

Nepotism in business is a time honored tradition so it comes as no surprise that when public education turns into a business, that nepotism becomes enshrined as part of the plan...
SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to allow the grandchildren of charter school founders to bypass enrollment lotteries sailed quickly through a Senate committee Thursday on its way to final passage.

HB36, sponsored by Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, passed the House last week in a 71-2 vote and was given a favorable recommendation by the Senate Education Committee Thursday. It will now go before the full Senate for consideration.

Lifferth said current law allows the children of charter school founders and board members to enroll in a charter school without participating in enrollment lotteries. He said his bill would extend that provision to the grandchildren of founders in response to the increasingly active role that grandparents take in the raising and education of their families.

U.S.: Second Highest Level of Child Poverty among "Rich" Nations


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2014 Medley #4

Privatization, Testing, Democrats,
TFA, Reading, Early Childhood Education


The 4 Most Profound Ways Privatization Perverts Education

One mistake we supporters of public education make is to give most "reformers" the benefit of the doubt...that they will listen to reason and do what's best for children. It seems to me, though, that the goal for many "reformers" is not improved education, it's the destruction of the public education system in America. Why? Choose a reason -- government anything is bad and the private sector is the only valid way to do anything, schools are hotbeds of secular humanism and teach evolution, teachers unions must be busted. Whatever the reason, public school advocates must understand that "reformers" will not listen to reason...they will not "come around" when they see that privatization is hurting public education...and they will not give up the economic hold they have established on the tax money funding public schools.

  1. Charter Schools Have Not Improved Education...
  2. The Profit Motive Perverts the Goals of Education...Our nation's impulsive experiment with privatization is causing our schools to look more like boardrooms than classrooms. Charter administrators make a lot more money than their public school counterparts, and their numbers are rapidly increasing. Teachers, on the other hand, are paid less, and they have fewer years of experience and a higher turnover rate. The patriotic-sounding "Teach for America" charges public school districts $3,000 to $5,000 per instructor per year. Teachers don't get that money, business owners do.
  3. Advanced Profit-Making: Higher Education...At the college level, for-profit schools eagerly clamor for low-income students and military veterans, who conveniently arrive with public money in the form of federal financial aid. For-profit colleges get up to 90 percent of their revenue from U.S. taxpayers. Less incentive remains for these schools after tuition is received, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the students enrolled in for-profit colleges in 2008-9 left without a degree or diploma.
  4. Lower-Performing Children Left Behind...The National Education Policy Center notes that "Charter schools...can shape their student enrollment in surprising ways," through practices that often exclude "students with special needs, those with low test scores, English learners, or students in poverty."


Lessons of welfare debacle apply in school voucher debate

Who will be responsible when privately run schools harm students? Caveat emptor?
The General Assembly continues to expand Indiana’s private-school voucher program, siphoning nearly $135 million away from public schools in just three years. When problems arise, they won’t be concentrated within one giant corporation, but failure by even a handful of voucher schools will result in harm to students. The case for negligence will be even tougher to prove.


Charters: Another point of view

Stephen Krashen is a constant voice trying to reason with anyone who will listen.
...evidence that Success schools devote an astonishing amount of time to test preparation and devote little or no time to subjects that are not tested, evidence that teachers, parents, students and staff were required to attend the pro-charter rally last fall, and evidence that suspension rates at Success schools are very high.

It should also be pointed out that research has shown that in general charter schools do not do as well as public schools, even though may [sic] are very selective in who they admit, and can expel "problem" students.

Résumé fibber now a principal at charter school

Why didn't the school board vet this man before he became a principal? Oh, wait...charter school...privately run...no public accountability. Once again -- caveat emptor.
Thomas had invented a doctorate and a master’s degree and claimed to have been a principal at a DC school where he had merely been a teacher.


Grant’s Grand Vision: Public Schools That Welcome All

Grant was not America's most successful president, however, he was ahead of his time calling for free public schools for everyone regardless of their faith or lack thereof.
Despite his faults, there was one area where Grant did shine: separation of church and state. During his tenure, the idea of public education for the masses began catching on in the United States. Schools were built, and states began passing the first mandatory attendance laws...

Grant had a better idea. He called for removing Protestant worship from public schools. He proposed making public schools legally non-sectarian and thus welcoming to all families. He also opposed any tax funding of religious schools.

Texas Education Board Candidates Say: Government Shouldn’t Be Responsible for Educating Kids!

Under the heading of "Coming soon to a state near you" candidates for the Texas State Board of Education claim that it is not the government's responsibility to educate children. This is, if they were honest about it, likely the belief of many "reformers." Their opinion is that public schools should not exist...that the state should have no interest in an educated citizenry.
At least three Republican candidates — including one incumbent — in this year’s Texas State Board of Education elections say they “strongly disagree” that “it is the government’s responsibility to be sure children are properly educated.” The same candidates also say they “strongly agree” that “free market competition for education dollars” would be better than a “government monopoly.” “Free market competition” is the core argument for advocates of private school vouchers, which take tax dollars from public schools to pay tuition for students admitted to private and religious schools...

In rejecting government responsibility for ensuring that all children get an education, all of those candidates and board members are at odds with great Americans like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as well as Article 7, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution...


Time to cast off the testing demons and do what's right

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette editorial page...one of the few voices for public education in an anti-public education state country.
One thing most citizens agree on is that no cost, high quality K - 12 education should be available for all children. The benefits seem quite clear for both the individuals, and our society as a whole...

An organization’s budget is clear statement of values. The State of Indiana needs to quit looking for scapegoats and sending public instruction funds to commercial vendors. It should instead, reinvest in its children at levels to get the job done properly. In other words, it should align its strategies towards the original goal, rather than the surrogate.


The American Public School Under Siege

Those of us who live in Indiana might be confused about the politics of public education. In Indiana it's the Republicans who seem bent upon the destruction and privatization of public education. I believe, however, that the only reason most Indiana Democrats are against the privatization of public schools is because the Republicans are for it. Nationally, the Democratic party is every bit as pro-corporate education reform industry as are the Republicans. President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are as bad for public schools as were Bush (II) and Spellings. No Child Left Behind was a bipartisan attack on public schools and so is Race to the Top. The corporate money funding the attack on public education is bipartisan. The Obama of the 2007 campaign (see the quote at the top of this page) is gone.
The audacity of the project is matched by the passive deference that it is accorded. There is no organized opposition -- in civil society or politics. Only a few outgunned elements fight a rearguard action against a juggernaut that includes Republicans and Democrats, reactionaries and liberals -- from Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York to the nativist Christian Right of the Bible Belt. All of this without the national "conversation" otherwise so dear to the hearts of the Obama people, without corroboration of its key premises, without serious review of its consequences, without focused media attention...

In 2010, Education Secretary Arne Duncan castigated public school teachers in Rhode Island for going on strike to protest arbitrary changes in working conditions and wages while encouraging authorities to fire them if necessary. He "applauded" the move to fire every teacher at Central Falls High School (as reported in the Providence Journal). This is from an administration that never asked anyone to resign from AIG, Bank of America, CITI, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Fannie Mae or Sally Mae.

Similarly, in 2012-2013, Obama lent the tacit backing of the White House to Rahm Emanuel's strategy for busting the Chicago teachers union and for a mass closing of public schools. The follow-on 'charter' program has been cited as rife with corruption. Secretary Duncan has been given free rein to use the powers of his department to cajole and pressure states into the unqualified promotion of charter schools -- whatever the record shows about their mediocre record...

Of all the institutions that made the United States into a coherent society, none made a greater contribution than our public schools. It was they that fashioned a loyal citizenry bound by a core of civic values and a collective identity -- regardless of creed, national origin, religion or political preference. It was they that molded a disparate population into a unified nation. That may not be the case in the future.

Spellings to Duncan: A seamless transition


12 Reasons To Resist TFA

I know that some of the students who join Teach for America have the best intentions (see #9 in this article), but that doesn't change the fact that they are unqualified. People who want to teach -- especially in schools filled with hard to educate children -- need to be well trained BEFORE they start. Education is not the place for on-the-job-training.

This is one of the best articles I've read exposing why TFA needs to be shut down.
1. Five Weeks.

Let's get the obvious out of the way first. Five weeks of training. My flightiest fifteen-year-old students have longer relationships. The gestation period of a guinea pig is longer. Phileas Fogg could not even get halfway around the world. And even the "five weeks" is overstating it, because as numerous TFA escapees have noted, a large chunk of that five weeks is not actual training, but simply being dumped in front of a faux class to flail away.

The go-to analogy here is "Would you hire a doctor/lawyer who had only five weeks of training," but we don't have to get that fancy. I wouldn't let a five-week plumber touch my pipes or a five-week mechanic touch my car. When I worked a summer as a catalog order phone sales rep, I was trained for two entire weeks, and closely supervised for another month. The only jobs where five weeks of training are adequate involve either "Do you want fries with that" or "Paper or plastic?"

...9. TFA Wastes the Good Intentions of Good People

Many, many TFAers join up for the very best of reasons with the very best of intentions. These are people who really want to help make the world a better place for children who face tough obstacles. Instead, they are made part of a program that sets them up for failure in the classroom and wastes all their good intentions on simply enriching TFA itself. Some of these people actually end up staying in teaching for good, and God bless those people. But how many more of those good people would still be teachers if they had actually gotten involved in, I don't know-- a teaching program.
...and another...

I am, I’m asking you to quit.
Can you think of any skilled professions in which it would be safe to employ individuals with only a handful of weeks of training? Would you want a nurse who had been hastily trained to be caring for your health and well being? Would you want a lawyer with such little experience to defend you? Would you want a poorly trained mechanic working on your car? Even if any of these people had been college-educated? So why do so many people think it is okay to entrust the education of our nation’s children to college graduates with so little training and experience? Do we believe fundamentally that teaching requires very little skill and commitment? I do not care where you received your degree, if you don’t have any real training in the realm of teaching, and no commitment to sticking around in order to become a good teacher, you simply do not belong in a classroom. It is not safe.


America’s “We” Problem

I've written before about how selfish we are as a people...here and here, for example.

The "I've got mine, go get your own" attitude is pervasive when it comes to public education. Robert Reich explains...
Perhaps it’s because, as inequality has widened and class divisions have hardened, America’s wealthy no longer have any idea how the other half lives.

Being rich in today’s America means not having to come across anyone who isn’t. Exclusive prep schools, elite colleges, private jets, gated communities, tony resorts, symphony halls and opera houses, and vacation homes in the Hamptons and other exclusive vacation sites all insulate them from the rabble.

America’s wealthy increasingly inhabit a different country from the one “they” inhabit, and America’s less fortunate seem as foreign as do the needy inhabitants of another country.


A Declaration of Independence from Corporatist/Behaviorist Education

You can't sign this. The author asked that it be publicized. He wrote (in the comments),
I hope that you’ll “sign” by sharing this via Facebook or other social media! More posts coming soon, so I hope you’ll “follow” the blog and offer your thoughts. Best wishes. David Sudmeier
So I've reproduced it in full...in lieu of my signature...
When, in the course of a teaching career, it becomes essential to break from excessively rational beliefs and schemes and to begin thinking openly and freely, disregarding the dictatorial influences of political hacks, the insidious prodding of education gurus and the bleating of complacent peers, it is necessary that the thinking educator admonish the world with the whys and wherefores of their intended independence from those scourges of productive learning, Corporations and their Behaviorist lackeys.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that education is best described as a journey, not a destination; that education is not a medicine or treatment to be inflicted upon learners; that a partnership between willing learner, skilled teacher, and supportive guardian forms the foundation of productive education; and that a democratic society sustains itself by practice of its ideals within the educational environment. Numerous corporations and anti-public education fronts—including, but not limited to, the Gates Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, ALEC, State Policy Network, Teach for America, Stand for Children, and Teach Plus— plot and contrive to dictate educational policy, conduct and beliefs. When unelected billionaires use their financial clout to promulgate a destructive vision for American education, it is the right—nay, the obligation—of every educator to break all the Windows® they can, chop down every Solution Tree that stands, consign their Common Core lesson plans to the reformatorium, and renew their commitment to student-centered instruction in order to preserve their claim to professional status, ensure their future happiness, and maintain their present sanity.

A glance at the attempts by corporatist forces to deform public education provides ample evidence that ideas and opinions formed in the business world are all too tempting to politicians who rely on corporate funds for re-election. Behold: political narrow-mindedness, focus on data rather than humanity, the tendency to blame those who teach for the ills of society, and an unwillingness to consider humane methods of instruction as acceptable alternatives to techniques of indoctrination serve as warnings to the nation’s teachers and learners that they, too, are doomed to a future of boredom and inner turmoil if they do not act against the domination of Corporations and their Behaviorist toadies in public education today.

When narrow-mindedness reaches that point where afflicted educators are shamed for considering alternatives to the shallow reasoning and attitudes taught them by the nefarious Dufour Duo, their uprising is most justified. So have I and my fellow educators suffered. We rise above this morass of ridiculous ideals today to present several of the offenses of the Corporatist/Behaviorist Cabal for consideration:

They assert a corporation’s right to legal status as individuals in order to exert unrestricted financial influence over public policy, while also enjoying exemptions from the obligations which citizens affected by those policies must endure.

They degrade democracy by excluding teaching professionals from the process of creating standards and imposing those standards without public debate.

They devalue the professionalism of teachers by demanding the surrender of all autonomy in favor of scripted lessons and prescriptive standards.

They claim without evidence that setting “standards” will transform education for the better.

They threaten the privacy of students and seek to transform public schools into another source of profit.

They demand unswerving loyalty and obedience from educators, rather than encouraging professional discourse and promoting respectful dialogue.

They vilify the professional associations of educators and encourage citizens to view teachers and other public servants as parasites on society.

They use non-profit fronts to conceal profit-seeking enterprises.

They alienate youth from their educations by placing undue emphasis on outcomes as opposed to personal investment in the process of learning.

They reduce the beauty and complexity of academic endeavor to atomistic standards as part of their crusade to deprive educators of professional discretion.

They strip seasoned professionals of dignity and destroy their morale.

We, therefore, educators of America, straightforwardly and without dissembling, appealing to the Master Instructor for the iGeneration, do, in the name—and assuming the authority— of public school teachers throughout this Land, brazenly publish and declare that we are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent of Corporate Influence; that we are absolved of allegiance to Arne Duncan and his ilk, and that all connection between educators and Bill Gates’ connivances is hereby dissolved, and that as Free and Independent Tutors, we have full power to offer learners a democratic environment, disregard the CCSS, ignore John Hattie’s latest work of fiction, and do all things that free-thinkers of the world might do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the dearly-departed Socrates, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives (such as they are after semester grading), our meager salaries and 403(b)s, and what little honor we have left after attending PLC conferences.


David Sudmeier



Setting Children Up to Hate Reading

Research doesn't matter...it's only how much money we can make. The bottom line is profit...not education.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes the critical factor as to how a student will learn to read “is not how aggressively,” the child is given instruction, but rather their “own enthusiasm for learning.” They also state that many early learning programs “interfere with the child’s natural enthusiasm” by imposing on children to “concentrate on tasks” when they aren’t ready.

Why are young children being made to learn at a faster rate? Why is there this mistaken notion that children’s brains have somehow evolved to a higher level where they are supposed to read earlier and earlier?

All of this emergency talk has filtered into America’s classrooms. That’s why kindergarten teachers now believe all children must learn how to read in kindergarten. Having worked for years with reading and language problems in middle and high school students, I can tell you these new reading requirements for young children are terribly worrisome—even dangerous.


The Raising of America - Are We Crazy About Our Kids?

This is 32 minutes long...but it is well worth the time investment (watch it during the next snow/fog day). Believe it or not successful early childhood development programs in some higher achieving countries are based on American research? Believe it.

(ht Kate)

All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Time to Teach and Learn


High achieving nations around the world have shown that less is more...less teaching time with students and more learning time for teachers results in higher learning for students.

10 Ways to Fix Education: #1 – Increase Planning Time
One thing that [high achieving nations of China and Finland] did have in common – as do most of the top schools in the PISA – is that they provide ample time for teachers to plan and prepare. And they’re compensated for it.

The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education released a report in August 2010 comparing how little time the United States has dedicated to teacher planning and preparation (3-5 hours per week) to how international educators average 15-25 hours per week to plan. In fact, the United States is put at a major disadvantage because more than 80% of our teacher time is spend educating and interacting with students, not on planning or development of curriculum.

...In Finland, the best way to learn about the stark contrast between the stressed American teacher and the relaxed one there is to read a blog titled Taught By Finland, in which Tim Walker, an American teacher comments on what he’s learning while teaching in the Scandinavian country. His posts are both insightful and reflective of the lack of prep time in America. For example, one post notes how colleagues insist he take a coffee break for 15 minutes instead of grading papers. In another entry, he struggles over the fact that he’ll see his students in class just 600 hours per year (in comparison to America’s 1,080). Finnish teachers receive about 40% of their time to plan. I know what you’re thinking – unbelievable.

Believe it. In educational systems across the world, teachers have more time to plan than their American counterparts. Period.
Tim Walker, who now teaches in Finland, wrote the following about his teaching in the U.S. I don't doubt that every American public school teacher will recognize the pattern...

Work-Life Balance in Finland: Americans on a Different Planet
At the time, Johanna’s friend and I shared several things in common. We were both first-year teachers at the first grade level and we were under 25 years old. But that’s really where our similarities ended.

My first graders’ 7-hour school day was nearly twice as long as her students’ school day. By the time she had left school, I hadn't even completed my last class. And I had a mountain of planning waiting for me as soon as I waved goodbye to my kids.

In my first year of teaching, I would typically spend about two hours planning before school and three hours planning afterschool. I had virtually no boundaries, spending these additional hours of work either at the classroom desk or the kitchen table at home. And even when I had the chance to enjoy a break during a lunch block, I'd often work through this time, zigzagging across my classroom with a peeled banana in one hand, nibbling on-the-go.

All told, I was putting in 12-hour days of work. It’s no wonder why I was bothered by the hours of Johanna’s friend in Finland. My workday was twice as long.

Given her lighter workload, I was arrogantly convinced that she was an inferior teacher. I believed that teachers proved their strength by the number of hours they devoted to the teaching profession. By my estimation, she didn't measure up.

By the end of my first year of teaching, I discovered that I was, by far, the weaker one. A dreadful lack of work-life balance had caught up to me. I was brimming over with stress and anxiety. And worst of all, the job of teaching was no longer joyful.
We spend so much more time with our students than in Finland, yet, on average, our achievement levels are lower. Why?

The short answer is that teachers who spend time in collaboration with colleagues, planning lessons, and increasing their own learning, are able to help students learn better. Teachers who work 11 hour days trying to keep up with planning, grading, and data collection, become overstressed, overworked, and less able to do what they were trained to do.

There are other factors, of course, including student SES, and cultural differences in the attitude towards education, but teacher quality is the most important in-school factor for learning. We don't give our teachers time to improve their quality of teaching because they're so busy trying to keep up with the huge class sizes and mountains of paperwork dumped on them.

Linda Darling-Hammond, in The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future, wrote...
Whereas teachers in high achieving nations spend 40 to 60% of their time preparing and learning to teach well, most U.S. teachers have no time to work with colleagues during the school day. They typically receive only about 3 to 5 hours weekly in which to plan by themselves, and they get a few "hit-and-run" workshops after school, with little opportunity to share knowledge or improve their practice. A far greater percentage of U.S. teachers' work time is spent teaching than in most countries -- about 80%, as compared to 60% on average for secondary teachers in the 31 OECD countries. U.S. teachers have more net teaching time -- nearly 1,100 hours per year -- than any other OECD country, far greater than the OECD average of 800 hours per year for primary schools and 660 hours per year for upper secondary schools.
She reports on high achieving nations...
Ongoing professional learning, embedded in 15 to 25 hours a week of planning and collaboration time at school, plus an additional 2 to 4 weeks of professional learning time annually to attend institutes and seminars, visit other schools and classrooms, conduct action research and lesson study, and participate in school retreats.

The OECD comparison between Finland and the U.S. is clear. More time for teachers pays off...

Teachers in the U.S. spend so much time trying to keep up with the workload that they don't have time to improve their skills, or share what they've learned with other teachers.


Winter 2014. Lots of snow all over the country. My local school district in northeast Indiana has cancelled school 12 times because of snow or bitterly cold temperatures.

What does this have to do with teaching and learning time?

Our teachers get about a half hour a week for colleague collaboration and about 5 hours a week for planning. Instead of adding more days to the school calendar, the school system will likely cancel collaboration time, and extend the school day reducing the amount of time for teachers to collaborate and reducing the amount of in-school planning time. Many teachers are in favor of this as an alternative to adding days to the calendar at the end of the year. The school systems are caught by the demand for student contact time...the requirement that, in order for a year to be "valid" students have to be in attendance for 180 days.

Other OECD nations, however have shown that to be unnecessary.

Obviously the Finnish system, or any other high achieving country's school system, can't easily be transplanted into the U.S. The Finns, for example, spent years improving teacher education and developing a national school system which was equitable. They provide broad safety nets for the few children who live in poverty (about 4% compared to the U.S. 23%). They don't waste resources testing every student every year. Unlike the U.S. they have a culture which understands that education is "paying it forward" to improve the future.

Meanwhile we're wasting our money on an obsessive reliance on tests and punishments, lowering standards for teachers, ignoring the massive number of students living in poverty, fighting each other over providing health care for our children, and privatizing the public school system which is one of the foundational institutions of our democracy.

Until the U.S. becomes serious about public education and the educational future of the nation, we're stuck with overworked teachers -- and students -- and making up snow days by extending already long school days.


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Random Quotes

Public Education

"When I was a boy on the Mississippi River there was a proposition in a township there to discontinue public schools because they were too expensive. An old farmer spoke up and said if they stopped building the schools they would not save anything, because every time a school was closed a jail had to be built." —- Mark Twain

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." -— Benjamin Franklin

"There is a place in America to take a stand: it is public education. It is the underpinning of our cultural and political system. It is the great common ground. Public education after all is the engine that moves us as a society toward a common destiny... It is in public education that the American dream begins to take shape." —- Tom Brokaw

Public schools must be understood as public not simply because they serve the public, but because they establish us as a public. -- Benjamin Barber, proessor of Civil Society, University of Maryland

"The current obsession with making our schools work like a business may be the worst of them [fads and ill-considered ideas in American Education], for it threatens to destroy public education. Who will stand up to the tycoons and politicians and tell them so?" —- Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System

"Our schools remain subject to a failed federal accountability system. We are packing children into crowded classrooms, ignoring the growing levels of child poverty (the U.S. now leads all advanced nations in infant mortality), and putting fear into the hearts of our nation's teachers. Who will want to teach? How does any of this improve schools or benefit children? Do you understand it? I don't." -- Diane Ravitch in A Moment of National Insanity

"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

Fully Fund Education: A country and city that can afford to take care of its affluent citizens can afford to take care of those on the other end of the income scale. There is no excuse for denying students the essential services they deserve. -- Chicago Teachers Union in The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve

If you look back in history, you will find that the core mission of public education in America was to create places of civic virtue for our chilren and for our society...it is crucial to remember tha the key role of public schools is to preserve democracy and, that as battered as we might be, our mission is central to the future of this country. -- Paul Houston, former executive diretor, American Association of School Administrators


"Let's see if I got this right... Because standardize testing was unsuccessful at adequately dumbing down public education, many states now plan to develop common core standards --that will inevitably be evaluated with a common core test-- so at least all states will be dumbed down the same? Epiphany" —- Robert A. Ferrell, www.robertferrell.net

"Don't label a school as failing one day and then throw your hands up and walk away from it the next. Don't tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of a year preparing him to fill out a few bubbles in a standardized test...You didn't devote your lives to testing. You devoted it to teaching, and teaching is what you should be allowed to do." -- Candidate Barack Obama, Summer 2007


"Contrary to any prognostications made by Secretary Arne Duncan and his corporate backers, The Race to the Top must be understood as nothing more than the abdication of the social responsibility of the state in assuring public education by stressing instead, individual freedom through privatized choice, 'free'-markets and personal responsibility in the ruthless and unequal capitalist marketplace of despair. It is being camouflaged as educational reform, when in fact it will serve to deform education and its stakeholders." —- Danny Weil, Dissident Voice, Jan. 6, 2010

"Corporate school privatizers feign disgust with teachers that cheat the standardized tests. But big business theft of public education is by far the greater sin. The real cheats are those that pushed high stakes testing under the false pretexts of reform, when the actual goal was union busting and privatization." —- Glen Ford, Black Agenda Radio, Sept. 14, 2011

"Can you remember another time when education reform has so ignored the realities of public education?" —- Valerie Strauss, Washington Post Answer Sheet, 12/31/10


Nearly half of all teachers leave the field within their first 5 years. Many find out the hard way that they aren't cut out for teaching...or that it's not as easy as they thought it would be. Many didn't realize that it's not a 6 hours a day, 9 months a year job, but one that takes hours and hours of preparation, thought and work. Many can't handle the emotional investment in the lives of children.

The old adage which states that "those who can't, teach" has it backwards. Teaching is doing...and it's those who can't who must move on to some other, less important line of work. -- Me in Teaching as a Luxury


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

2014 Medley #3

Public School Advantage, Schools Vs. Prisons, Duncan is Unqualified,
School Choice: Charters and Vouchers


'The Public School Advantage': the numbers add up: book review

I know I've mentioned this about 1,256,093 times, but public schools are not failing.
Focusing on mathematics because, far more than reading and language, it is learned in school, the Lubienskis demonstrate that when the different economic and social characteristics of the school population are accounted for, public school students gained almost a half-year more than their counterparts in Catholic schools. Although Catholic school teachers believe they have greater freedom in controlling the curriculum and setting pedagogical goals, they seem to hold onto outdated instructional methods. By contrast, public school instructors place more emphasis on geometry, measurement, statistic/probability, and algebra/patterns, the "non-number strands" that are consistent, positive predictors of achievement. And, the Lubienskis point out, burdensome paperwork and links between job security and performance on tests are not related to enhanced student achievement.


Fact Sheet: How Bad Is the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

How much money are we spending on public schools? How much of that goes to help students in the form of smaller class sizes, to address inequities, for wraparound services, public preschools, improving school facilities, involving parents, and keeping teachers skills current? How much of it goes to test prep, test administration, data management and paying for tests?
The school-to-prison pipeline: an epidemic that is plaguing schools across the nation. Far too often, students are suspended, expelled or even arrested for minor offenses that leave visits to the principal’s office a thing of the past. Statistics reflect that these policies disproportionately target students of color and those with a history of abuse, neglect, poverty or learning disabilities.

Students who are forced out of school for disruptive behavior are usually sent back to the origin of their angst and unhappiness—their home environments or their neighborhoods, which are filled with negative influence. Those who are forced out for smaller offenses become hardened, confused, embittered. Those who are unnecessarily forced out of school become stigmatized and fall behind in their studies; many eventually decide to drop out of school altogether, and many others commit crimes in their communities.

California drops to 49th in school spending in annual Ed Week report

In California for example, we can see where some of the problems lie. In 2010, California invested $8,482 per student. That, of course, is just an average.
California tumbled two more spots, to 49th in the nation in per-pupil spending, in Education Week’s latest annual Quality Counts report, released last week. The ranking, which includes Washington, D.C., and the 50 states, covers spending in 2010 and thus doesn’t include the impact of higher taxes that voters approved in passing Proposition 30 in November.

...California’s per-student spending of $8,482 was $3,342 – 28 percent – below the national average of $11,824...

...California also ranked low – tied for fifth-worst – in another Education Week measure, the percentage of state and local taxable resources spent on K-12 education. California, along with Oregon, Louisiana and Tennessee, spent 2.9 percent, compared with 4.4 percent nationally...

Court: California Prisoners Denied Showers, Forced To Lie In Their Own Feces

Now, if you can stomach this story, read about how much is spent per inmate in California prisons.
In addition to inhumane conditions, the Golden State’s prison system is an economic burden to the state. Each inmate costs California $45,000 per year, and in 2012, the state spent six times more on prisons than it did on college students.
California spends $8500 per year for a student and $45,000 a year for an inmate. Other states are similar. New Jersey is one of the highest spenders on students: $16,841 per student in school and their prison costs are still $44,734 per inmate, almost 3 times as much.

Is there a way to reduce the amount of money spent on our prisons and increase student achievement at the same time?

Why do we have 25% of the world's prisoners when we only have 5% of the world's population?

Am I the only one who thinks that this is an insane mixup of our priorities?


U.S. Senator To Surgeon General Nominee: Come Meet All The Lovely Indian Doctors In My Hometown

President Obama thought it was important to appoint a medical professional to the position of Surgeon General. Why doesn't he understand that it's equally important to have an education professional at the helm of the Department of Education?
Surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy, who has launched an HIV/AIDS youth education program and is president of Doctors for America, would become the youngest physician to hold the position if approved by the Senate. The Boston physician, 36, would also become the nation’s first Indian-American surgeon general. Murthy was born in England and moved to Florida at age three.


More articles about voucher, charter schools and the false choice of "choice."

Despite ALEC claims, vouchers are no choice for students
For ALEC, school choice is not really about improving student outcomes. It’s about directing public dollars to private outfits that aren’t subject to the same standards of accountability as a public school. Vouchers siphon off huge amounts of money from public schools to subsidize the private education of a small handful of students —leaving the vast majority of our children in public schools that have been depleted of critical funding. ALEC wants us to believe that funding a failed idea like vouchers—which studies show do not improve student performance—is better than investing in a quality public education for all students.

Vouchers schemes cost taxpayers millions of dollars. For example, the voucher program in Indiana this year is expected to cost $81 million—that’s $81 million less for students who attend public schools.

Republicans Propose New Privatization Scheme That Would Destroy Public Schools
There has been a concerted effort to transform America’s public education system to a taxpayer-funded private religious school scam, and last week many Americans missed a Republican proposal to destroy the public school system because they were awaiting President Obama’s State of the Union address. However, if they listened carefully to two of the Republican responses, they would have noticed the drumbeat to school privatization Republicans claimed is “all about the children.”

Indiana voucher students getting whiter, less poor
“The original premise was, give public schools a chance and see what you think,” David Dresslar of the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning told the Indianapolis Star. “Now, that premise has eroded to the point where private schools are an alternative to public schools.”

Some of those private schools are getting more than $1 million this year from vouchers – and, again, almost all of them are religious schools that teach religion as part of their curriculum.

Gov. Mitch Daniels and state Superintendent Tony Bennett sold the voucher program in 2011 as a way to improve educational opportunity. But it has become something very different: taxpayer support for middle-class kids getting a religious education — to the tune of $81 million.

What A-F Letter Grades Can Tell Us About Voucher Schools
...D or F rated private schools had, on average, twice as many voucher-recipient students as the A schools. And the private school with the most voucher students — Ambassador Christian Academy in Lake County — received an F from the state.

Voucher schools invite public scrutiny in accepting public dollars
What does school choice mean in Indiana? It means taxpayer-supported schools that can choose:
  • To refuse admission to students on the basis of religion, economic background, academic record and more.
  • Not to offer instruction to English language-learners or students with severe and profound disabilities.
  • To conduct school board meetings behind closed doors.
  • To teach creationism as science, in violation of federal law.
  • To fire teachers without cause.
Taxpayers spent more than $36 million last year on schools not required to provide many of the services public schools must offer.

Map: Publicly Funded Schools That Are Allowed to Teach Creationism.
If you live in any of these states, there’s a good chance your tax money is helping to convince some hapless students that evolution (the basis of all modern biological science, supported by everything we know about geology, genetics, paleontology, and other fields) is some sort of highly contested scientific hypothesis as credible as “God did it.”

Exempting Voucher Schools from ISTEP and Reporting Requirements
...if we’re going to be diverting a bunch of money from traditional schools to voucher schools, we need to have apples-to-apples comparisons to know whether we’re spending that money wisely. That means playing by the same rules. What data we do have from the last 20 years of vouchers in the country suggests that voucher schools don’t perform notably better than traditional schools and, often times, perform worse.

The hype and reality of ‘school choice’
It’s time to concentrate on improving the traditional schools which educate the overwhelming majority of students and stop concentrating on a movement that inherently cannot meet the needs of all American children.

Paul Thomas Rebuts Jay Greene: No Escape Route from Testing for Choice Schools
Thomas concludes:

“If standardized test data are harmful for determining educational quality, student achievement, and teacher impact, let’s end the inordinate weight of standardized testing, period. And let’s acknowledge that the past thirty years of high-stakes accountability has misrepresented the quality of public schools and likely inaccurately increased public support for school choice.

“If charter schools are a compelling option because they allow schools relief from burdensome bureaucracy, just relieve all public schools from that bureaucracy and then no need for the charter school shuffle.

“Neither of the above will be embraced, however, by school choice advocates because they are not seeking education reform; they are seeking a privatized education system.”

De Blasio says he won’t allow co-locations for charter schools
Just days after Mayor de Blasio’s Department of Education proposed slashing $210 million from a charter-school construction fund, he said he also won’t allow charters to share space in public-school buildings going forward.

All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!