"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, June 2, 2014

2014 Medley #14

Gates, Educators Speak Out,
Charters, Money, Public Schools


Join with Mark Naison, Leonie Haimson, Anthony Cody, Susan Ohanian and dozens of others. Go to this site and leave your name and information in the comments to sign this petition. It will be delivered on June 26.

We, the undersigned, demand the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation divest from corporate education reform.
Your imposition of corporate reform policies, which are measured using a single, narrow, biased yardstick, are successful in one area only: making a profit for you, test companies, publishers, and the privatizing corporate reformers. Your policies continue to use our children as guinea pigs in your corporate reform experiments and risk doing “irreparable harm to our schools and our students”.


The Q and A: John Kuhn

Thankfully, John Kuhn feels morally obligated to speak up about the damage that "school reform" has done to America's public schools.
There’s so much more to education than a single test score on a single subject, and trying to reduce quality education to something that is quantifiable, you have to leave out a lot of really important information...

Previously, I just kind of accepted whatever rolled down from Washington, D.C., and whatever rolled down from Austin. I kind of thought the role of a teacher and educator was just to live with dumb policies. And I don’t think that anymore. I think now that I have a moral obligation to speak up and say, “Hey, this policy is dumb. It doesn’t work, and this is what we’re seeing on the front lines.”
Like John Kuhn, teachers all over the country are speaking up -- demanding to be heard.

Heidi Nance: I Am Teacher, Hear Me Roar!
I have an amazing administration that allows me to do what is best for my students. The great Sir Ken Robinson gave an interview and in that interview he explained that for the children we teach, we are their educational system. The children know nothing of policy or politics; all they know is what we do in our classrooms. I took great solace in that, and I decided to make sure that I always did right by the children in my class...

The Toxic Culture of Education -- Joshua Katz
...because we have a toxic culture of education the teachers and the schools have accepted this accountability for all students...

We take the blame for a student who can't focus in class because she hasn't eaten since yesterday's lunch.

We take the blame for a student who's always in trouble in school because he doesn't know the difference between right and wrong.

We take the blame for a student who can't stay awake in class because she spends her nights on a different couch depending on which friend takes her in.
And some teachers are still afraid to let their voices be heard...

The Deafening Silence of Teachers
Teachers are terrified of voicing their opinions because many times it not only makes them a target but could possibly make them not get their contract renewed for the following year!


Five Ways Charter Schools Are Bad for Children and Other Living Things

This is an important article summarizing five ways that charters hurt public schools and students.
1. Failure to Improve Learning – Two consecutive reports from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), 2009 and 2013, have shown that public schools outperform charter schools...

2. Draconian Discipline Policies – Charter schools have notoriously high suspension rates. The driving philosophy behind many charter school discipline policies seems to be “shame the students into submission.”...

3. Draining Money from Public Schools – Charter schools proliferate in already financially strapped urban school districts. The effects can be devastating as it is in Philadelphia right now where the district is struggling to maintain financial viability in the face of the growing charter movement along with huge cuts in state aid...

4. Lax Oversight – Charter schools lack the oversight that is built into public schools. Public schools are run by publicly elected school boards answerable to the parents and community members...Charter schools are run by private boards who are not answerable to the community and hold private meetings...In this atmosphere corruption has been rampant. A recent report by Integrity in Education found $100 million in wasted public dollars through fraud and mismanagement in 14 states with charter schools...

5. Skimming Students – By definition public schools take on all comers. It is part of the responsibility of public schools to accept and educate students of widely varying backgrounds, languages, abilities and disabilities. Since charter schools are funded with public funds, most charter school laws call for charter schools to take on all students, too. Charter schools often accomplish this through a lottery system. But these under-regulated charters have many subtle and not so subtle ways to insure that they can shape their student population to make them look like they are doing better than public schools.

All hell breaks loose when Illinois charters are told to stop discriminating.

If charters couldn't pick and choose their students -- even when the law disallows it -- then they would be "no different than the public school system."
Republican Sen. David Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) spoke up. “One reason charter schools were set up in the first place was to give them that flexibility because a lot of things were not happening that needed to happen in the public school system.”

Flexibility to turn away students with Special Needs and non-English speakers.

Luechtefeld added, that if we take away the right of charters to turn away Special Needs students than charters would be “no different than the public school system and therefore … obsolete.”

Republican Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-North Aurora) used another favorite word of the charter vultures. He opposed HB 4527 because it would give parents “less choice” in their children’s education.

The choice to discriminate against children who speak another language at home. Children with autism. Children with Down Syndrome. Children in wheel chairs.

It would take away the right to make hateful choices.


Dale Hansen: Bad bills hamper teacher effectiveness

Myth: Public schools are failing and teachers are to blame.

Truth: Legislatures have defunded education and are trying to blame public schools for their own failure. Politicians are getting money from school privatizers and then are supporting private schools at the expense of public schools.

This is from Michigan, but I'm sure it will sound familiar.
Using the fallacy that our education system is broken and that public educators are squarely to blame, the Legislature has passed two bills that look to make teachers accountable for their student outcomes.

If the capitalist model is the basis for these changes, it is important to recognize that, in the private sector, when an individual is judged on the performance of others, that individual typically has the authority to remove any underperforming team members and chose a staff that they work well with.

Educators have no such option. They must teach and improve every student that walks through the door. Period.


Operation Discourage Bright People from Wanting to Teach

The goal of "reformers" seems to be the destruction of public education, the profession of teaching, and the corporatization of all schools. The reason for this is simple...as Rupert Murdoch said, "When it comes to K-12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed..."
...whose definition of "quality"? Arne Duncan and Bill Gates have no better grasp of the nuances of how children learn, and what constitutes meaningful evidence of deep understanding, than does your next-door neighbor -- which helps to explain why, when they talk about "quality" (or "achievement"), all they mean is higher standardized test scores. Unlike your neighbor, though, they have the power to compel schools -- whole states, even -- to enact practices that will cement that conflation into place...

While there's no official name for the dual strategy of micromanaging teachers and trying to root out the bad ones, it might as well be called 'Operation Discourage Bright People from Wanting to Teach'. After all, who would choose to focus on test preparation rather than helping kids to think and question? Who would agree to forego any real professional autonomy? Who would want to be treated like a pet, rewarded with financial doggie biscuits for toeing the line? And who, if he or she had other opportunities, would pick a career that featured a constant threat of public humiliation?

In fact, it does seem likely that more and more college students who become teachers will be those who lack other opportunities. The impact of this isn't difficult to predict. What's less obvious is the ironic fact that it's due, in large part, to what's known -- and uncritically celebrated in the popular press -- as "school reform.

Toward the Total Paralysis of an Unequal Society

The numbers here speak for themselves...
A Broken System of Compensation: The Combined Salaries of 350,000 Pre-School Teachers is Less Than That of Five Hedge Fund Managers

Pre-school teaching may be our nation's most important job. Numerous studies show that with pre-school, all children achieve more and earn more through adulthood, with the most disadvantaged benefiting the most.

Hedge fund managers, at the other extreme, are likely to bet on mortgages to fail or on food prices to rise.

It's a frightening commentary on our value system that the total income of over a third of a million pre-school teachers is less than the combined income of just five big-money speculators.


Quarter Million Served

The motivation to privatize our nation's public education system is not to benefit children, it's to make money.
I am always struck by the huge contrast between the Reformsters and the Resistance. On the Reformster side we find almost exclusively people who are making a buck from all this mess. We find glossy sites and paid consultant work and huge efforts (and expense) to push the carefully spun and crafted message out there. On the Resistance side, we find...well, we find a herd of cats. A big unpaid volunteer DIY widespread pay-your-own-expenses herd of cats. If Reformsters were working on the Resistance's collective budget, with the Resistance's expectation of monetary reward in their future, the battle would be over today, because they would have about three people left fighting for their cause.


On the Death of Childhood and the Destruction of Public Schools, by Gerald Bracey, 2003

The first Bush administration buried the information that our schools were not failing and our public school system was not broken. Click the link below to read about the suppressed Sandia Report.

When a large, federally funded report concluded that there was no crisis in American Education, the [George H. W.] Bush administration suppressed it.


Teachers: Children will remember who you are and how you made them feel, not how you drilled them to fill in bubbles on a test.


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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