"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

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Medley #10

Tenure, Privatization,
Unions and Teachers, ADHD


Kansas lawmakers pass school finance bill merging funding equity with education reforms
Urged on by conservative special interests such as Americans for Prosperity, Republican leaders pressed hard to eliminate due process rights for teachers.

They say the proposal is intended to ensure that school administrators are free from regulations that would keep them from firing substandard teachers.

“If you talk to administrators, they want this,” said Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican. “They want really good teachers to thrive. They don’t want to be in a position to protect those teachers who are under-performing.”

State law had required administrators to document conduct and provide a hearing for teachers they want to fire after three years on the job.

The bill means terminated teachers would no longer be able to request a hearing.
K-12 teachers in America know, however, that "tenure" is not a guarantee of a job for life. It's simply a guarantee of due process.

In a comment to another post about the Kansas legislature stripping teachers of due process someone wrote,
No Government employee, not one one [sic], deserves tenure. They are no better than the rest of us.
The commenter is right that government employees "are no better than the rest of us." However, he's wrong because he doesn't understand what tenure means in K-12 education. Everyone, even government employees, deserves due process.

More articles reminding anyone who will listen that tenure equals due process.

The myth of teacher tenure
It is a myth that teacher tenure provides a guarantee of lifetime employment. Tenure is no more than a legal commitment (set by the state and negotiated union contracts) to procedural due process, ensuring notice and providing a hearing for generally accepted reasons for termination, such as incompetency, insubordination, and immorality.
Five Myths About Tenure and FILO
2. Tenure Guarantees a Job for Life

A zombie argument that won't die no matter how many times it is shot in the head. Tenure guarantees due process. Tenure guarantees that districts can only fire teachers for some good reason. That is it.
Dear Bill Maher: Here's Why You're Wrong About Tenure
...tenure is not a guarantee of a job for life: it is simply a guarantee of due process. Let's make it easy, quick, and inexpensive to remove a bad teacher: everyone is for that. But let's make it fair. Tenure is nothing more than a guarantee that firing a teacher is just that. 


Privatizing Wisconsin schools is no answer

Reduce funding for public schools through tax cuts and budget cuts. Then, give away what's left to private corporate charters and private schools through vouchers. It's not about improving education. It's about changing public education to a national privatized education system.
Our recent ranking as the worst state for African-American students' reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress is an embarrassment, and these experiments haven't helped one bit.

For the past 20 years, we have been messing around with Milwaukee's school system through a series of charter and voucher schemes that have not been proven to have better outcomes than public schools. Despite it being part of their intended purpose, these schools have done nothing to close the achievement gap between African-American and white students.

Yet the Wisconsin Legislature continues to work to dismantle public education through a series of new laws to further expand charter and voucher schools statewide.

Charter Schools: The Promise and the Peril

The first mistake in this article is the claim that "A charter school is a public school..." It's not. It's a private school, run by private corporations (some for-profit, some not for-profit) taking public money.

The second mistake is the statement that, "A charter school is a public school governed by a nonprofit organization..." Some charters are, indeed, run by nonprofits, however that is by no means true in every case.
A charter school is a public school governed by a nonprofit organization under a contract—or charter—with a state or local government. This charter exempts the school from selected rules and regulations. In return for funding and autonomy, the charter school must meet the accountability standards as defined by its charter.

Emanuel avoids direct answer on charter school performance

Rahm Emanuel is looking out for the charter schools run by his buddies. He won't admit that they were brought in to privatize the Chicago Public School system, beat the union, and fill his friends' pockets. He won't admit that they don't do a better job than the Chicago Public schools did with the same students.
The number of privately-run charter schools in Chicago has grown — from none in 1996 to more than 130 today, with more set to open later this year. Charters and other privately run schools now serve nearly one of every seven Chicago public school students.

But, even as many parents have embraced the new schools, there’s little evidence in standardized test results that charters are performing better than traditional schools operated by the Chicago Public Schools system, an examination by the Chicago Sun-Times and the Medill Data Project at Northwestern University has found.

In fact, in 2013, CPS schools had a higher percentage of elementary students who exceeded the standards for state tests for reading and math than the schools that are privately run with Chicago taxpayer funds.

Charter-mania, high-stakes testing and teacher-bashing: Can Rhee’s approach be stopped?

The status quo "reform" agenda isn't working...and hasn't worked for the last 3 decades. It's time to end the testing insanity and go back to teaching and learning.
And so here we are in 2014, the year which 100 percent of kids were supposed to be proficient on the standards. And you know, we’ve got 90 percent of the schools in the country that are now declared quote, you know, “failing” – which some people thought was the goal of the law to begin with. But we really haven’t made strides on meeting a 21st century learning agenda, because we’ve driven all of the instruction around low-quality multiple-choice tests.

Education “reformers” resort to Fox News-style scaremongering

Read Shock Doctrine. It defines the process that the privatizers have been following perfectly.
  1. Wait for or create a disaster.
  2. Rush in with money for privatization.
...so-called education reformers have nothing to lose and everything to gain by spreading confusion. Their sound bites are their strongest weapons — but for that to remain so, they need to ensure that sustained, reality-based discussions never take hold, because their words ring hollow to the well-informed.


10 Myths and Facts about Teacher Unions

Part of the move towards privatization is based on union hate.
Myth 4: Unions only defend bad teachers

Fact: Unions defend the due process rights of all teachers equally. There are bad teachers, just like there are bad bankers and bad grocery store managers. A union, however, seeks to help all employees grow in their abilities and performances for the best interests of the employee and the employer.

Myth 10: Unions are ruining education

Fact: States, districts, and schools with a strong union culture have a strong component of collaboration. In fact, the states that perform the best in the U.S. are strong union states. The same can be said about most schools. Likewise, while the focus seems to continue to be on "defending the taxpayer," unions are often times the only organization left defending the best interests of students and teachers.

Teachers: A Call to Battle for Reluctant Warriors

Anthony Cody asks if teachers are ready to stand up...
But the truth leaks out. Reed Hastings reveals his aspiration to use the expansion of charter schools to sideline elected school boards across the country. Charter schools, sold on the basis that traditional schools are broken, rarely do better, and in many cases do worse than the schools they replace. Teach For America novices turn over at such high rates that they promote instability wherever they go. The destruction of due process feeds high turnover, as is already seen at many charter schools where it is absent or weak. And the instability and churn that is the hallmark of corporate reform is damaging to students and their communities.

Guest commentary: Teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions

The following is a perfect example of how the U.S., as a nation, doesn't care about its children.
It's interesting how so many people with limited or no classroom teaching are quick to weigh in on educational issues. From Bill Gates and Eli Broad to Michelle Rhee and now Tony Smith, these self-proclaimed education "reformers" are short on education experience and long on placing the blame for educational failures where it doesn't belong.

The recent opinion piece by Tony Smith, former superintendent of Oakland Unified School District is full of misleading and false statements that only serve to distract us from the real problems facing our schools.

Contrary to what Tony Smith and the plaintiffs in the Vergara v. California case contend, laws protecting teachers' rights don't punish children. When students in our poorest neighborhoods receive a substandard education, it's not because hordes of "bad teachers" are being protected at their expense.

Our students are punished by the chronic underfunding of schools, which denies them access to smaller class sizes, a balance of new and veteran teachers, a curriculum that includes both the arts and career training, and sufficient support services.


Confirmation of neurobiological origin of attention-deficit disorder

ADHD is a real, neurologically based condition.
The neurobiological origin of attention-deficit disorder (ADD), a syndrome whose causes are poorly understood, has just been confirmed by a study carried out on mice. Researchers have identified a cerebral structure, the superior colliculus, where hyperstimulation causes behavior modifications similar to those of some patients who suffer from ADD. Their work also shows noradrenaline accumulation in the affected area, shedding light on this chemical mediator having a role in attention disorders.
See the results of the study HERE.


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!


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