"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

Friday, May 2, 2014

2014 Medley #11

Teachers Under Attack
The Walton Family: Welfare Frauds and Destroyers of Public Education


Better preparing our nation’s educators

Arne Duncan spoke with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell last month. The interview was proof that the privatization of public education and the destruction of the teaching profession is a bipartisan effort. The liberal leaning MSNBC interviewer jumped right on the privatization bandwagon by blaming bad teachers for the nation's low scores on international tests. The four minute interview focused on how to make better teachers (defined as those who will raise student test scores) with not one word about how poverty affects education, what the administration is doing to improve the lives of the nearly 25% of American children who live in poverty, or how out-of-school factors account for a much larger effect on student achievement than do teachers.

Duncan, in his usual speed-talking style, rattled on about how we have to elevate the profession...and indicated just how deep is his ignorance about how teachers are educated by implying that teachers need clinical experience before they start teaching...like the medical model. Perhaps he doesn't know about teaching interns and student teaching.

This is the same person, btw, who touts Teach for America with its five weeks of summer training as extraordinary. At a Teach for America conference a few years ago Duncan said,
What Wendy Kopp did twenty years ago, and what you have done together is nothing short of extraordinary.
He then called on the crowd to join him in applause for all the "teachers" in the audience. I wonder how many of those folks knew that he also applauded when the teachers at Central Falls High School in Central Falls, Rhode Island were all fired?

This is the man who represents the nation's public schools. He has never taught in a public school...never even attended a public school. He has no idea what it means to be a teacher. During the interview he said,
I think so often about the medical model...and residencies...and making sure that doctors are prepared before they ever do an operation or do an exam. There's a seriousness of purpose there that doesn't exist on the education side and I think that's one of the things we can learn from that example.

...so many schools of education...lots of history of education, philosophy of education, psychology of education...not enough teaching 28 or 30 diverse children in a classroom. Again, that practical clinical experience is so important.
Yes, Arne, teachers who attend schools of education do have "practical clinical experience" before they get their degree and go out looking for a teaching job...much more than Teach for America temps.

Why Are Teachers So Quiet?

Why don't more teachers speak out about the insanity perpetrated by No Child Left Behind and continued by Duncan and his Race to the Top? Peter Greene, who writes Curmudgucation gives a few reasons.
...Teachers believe in rules. Teachers believe that when the Person In Charge says "Jump," you should jump (and not say "how high" because that's just being sassy). If our administrators or union chiefs tell us to follow these instructions, we follow just as obediently as we would expect our students to follow us. Teachers do not want to Get In Trouble.

Teachers are disproportionately conflict-averse. Everyone who's ever worked with a union knows this-- for every one teacher who will holler and fight and rant in a strategy meeting, there are ten who will quietly see you after the meeting to say that they understand why everyone is so upset, but couldn't we just be nicer about the whole business? These teachers are certain that any time somebody gets too angry, somebody is going to Get In Trouble.
More and more teachers are speaking out though. Those who are brave enough...and who are secure enough in their jobs...are working all across the country to counter the effects of privatization and the destruction of public education. There are over 3 million public school teachers in the U.S. and once they see they are not alone many of them will start to shout...

On the Hunt for "Bad Teachers"

Mark Naison, founder of the Badass Teachers Association (BATS) has this to say about bad teachers...
The percentage of "Bad Teachers" in our public schools is probably no higher than Bad Principals, Bad Superintendents, Bad Commissioners, Bad Politicians, and Bad Philanthropists. Yet people in every walk of life seem obsessed with getting rid of them. This isn't a well thought out policy position. it is more like a form of communal Magic, a ritual to rid ourselves of Demons, real and imagined. We have met the enemy and they are Teachers! WRONG! You have found a convenient scapegoat for the nation's failures- especially the profound inequalities embedded in our economic and political system, our vanishing liberties and the economic forces shrinking our middle class. And when the smoke has cleared and the witch hunt ends, you will find that among the victims will be the BEST TEACHERS who cannot stand seeing their entire profession maligned and their autonomy and creativity undermined while the schools are turned inside out and upside down and turned into Test Factories. [emphasis added]

A Doctor's Declaration of Independence: It's time to defy health-care mandates issued by bureaucrats not in the healing profession.

This doctor thinks that teachers (among other professionals) wouldn't put up with outside interference in their profession. he thinks that teachers would stand up and scream "bloody murder" when politicians intruded and interfered with public education...
I don't know about other physicians but I am tired—tired of the mandates, tired of outside interference, tired of anything that unnecessarily interferes with the way I practice medicine. No other profession would put up with this kind of scrutiny and coercion from outside forces. The legal profession would not. The labor unions would not. We as physicians continue to plod along and take care of our patients while those on the outside continue to intrude and interfere with the practice of medicine. [emphasis added]


How U.S. Taxpayers Subsidize the Nation’s Wealthiest Family

Walmart, the nation's largest employer and largest retailer is owned by the nation's wealthiest family. The Walton billions are apparently not enough to pay their employees a living wage, however, and Walmart relies on you and me to make up the difference. America's taxpayers give the Waltons $6.2 billion in subsidies to pay their workers.

Still think you're saving money by shopping at Walmart?
The Waltons are the wealthiest family in the United States and control a majority of shares in Walmart. Six members of the family are among the 85 wealthiest individuals in the world, a group whose wealth is greater than half of the world’s population. Walmart is also among the largest and most profitable companies on the planet, with $16 billion in profits last year alone.

Despite this extreme prosperity, the company refuses to pay decent wages to its employees, and many are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid. A previous study showed that a single Walmart can cost taxpayers anywhere from $904,542 to nearly $1.75 million per year, or about $5,815 per employee for these programs.

A Walmart Fortune, Spreading Charter Schools

Aside from giving the richest family in the nation money to pay their workers, tax-paying public school teachers are also helping the Waltons privatize public education and destroy the teaching profession. Their billions are going to support vouchers and charter schools and to support teacher temp services.

Still think you're saving money by shopping at Walmart?
WASHINGTON — DC Prep operates four charter schools here with 1,200 students in preschool through eighth grade. The schools, whose students are mostly poor and black, are among the highest performing in Washington. Last year, DC Prep’s flagship middle school earned the best test scores among local charter schools, far outperforming the average of the city’s traditional neighborhood schools as well.

Another, less trumpeted, distinction for DC Prep is the extent to which it — as well as many other charter schools in the city — relies on the Walton Family Foundation, a philanthropic group governed by the family that founded Walmart.

Since 2002, the charter network has received close to $1.2 million from Walton in direct grants. A Walton-funded nonprofit helped DC Prep find building space when it moved its first two schools from a chapel basement into former warehouses that now have large classrooms and wide, art-filled hallways.

One-third of DC Prep’s teachers are alumni of Teach for America, whose largest private donor is Walton. A Walton-funded advocacy group fights for more public funding and autonomy for charter schools in the city. Even the local board that regulates charter schools receives funding from the Walton Family Foundation.

Walton Family Foundation Puts $164 Million into Privatization Movement
Some of the biggest recipients of the Walton family’s largesse are Teach for America (nearly $20 million), which staffs non-union charters; KIPP charter schools ($8.8 million); the Charter Fund, Inc. ($14.5 million); The Children’s Scholarship Fund (which gives out school vouchers) $8.56 million; and the California Charter School Association, $5 million. Parent Revolution got almost $2 million, the Black Alliance for Educational Options got $1.3 million.


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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