"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, November 13, 2014

2014 Medley #24

On Teaching, Testing, Vouchers,
Privatization, The Daily Show


The process of deprofessionalizing public education continues. The number of teacher candidates at colleges and universities continues to decline. Secretary Arne Duncan is now getting ready to blame colleges of education for students' low test scores.

Why are college students choosing not to enter teacher training programs? Could it have anything to do with how teachers are portrayed in the media? Could it have anything to do with how Duncan and those like him blame teachers and their unions for everything?

Even the privatizers and "reformers" are going to need teachers for their children and grandchildren. "Reformers" constantly call for more "great teachers" in the classroom. Where will they come from?

School reform pushing potential teachers away from profession
Over the last decade, teacher salaries in constant dollars in Indiana have decreased by more than 10 percent. Outpaced only by North Carolina, which experienced teacher salary decreases of 14 percent, Indiana had the second largest decrease in the country.

...The only clear winners so far are the test companies making billions of dollars in profit from the standardized test accountability craze in an experiment never before tried anywhere in the world, especially not in countries that have attained the highest levels of achievement in international comparisons of student performance.

...In Indiana, enrollment in teacher education programs has decreased by more than 30 percent over the last decade, and the rate of decrease recently has accelerated. Indiana is not unique in experiencing a drop in teacher education enrollment fueled by disinvestment in public education and contentious public policies that discourage talented students from going into teaching as well as encourage experienced teachers to leave the field. It is happening nationwide.

...If Indiana continues down the "education reform" path, Hoosiers will soon face the same problems bigger states are already experiencing. The research is incontrovertible that regardless of the type of institution a student attends, the single most important school-based factor for improving student achievement is the quality of the classroom teachers and school leaders.

[Ball State University] Teachers College enrollment declines
“I think kids in schools nowadays they say, ‘Why would I be a teacher? This is not an exciting thing,’” Jacobson said. “There’s a lot of challenges to classroom management, to authority, so the respect is not there. And of course young people want to choose a profession that they feel is respected.”

He said the respect for teachers has diminished over time.

Across all races, teacher education losing students
Illinois teaching institutions aren’t the only ones losing students. According to a national survey by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the number of full-time undergraduates enrolled in education degree programs fell by 6 percent between 2006 and 2011 – even though overall enrollment at the 581 institutions surveyed grew by more than 7 percent during that time period.

... “Amongst people of color, becoming a teacher has zoomed down to [no] more than 8th place in their interest level,” says Dominic Belmonte, president and CEO of Golden Apple, a non-profit organization dedicated to recruiting and developing good teachers in Illinois. “There is a sense out there that teaching is a difficult task that has a limited payoff as far as salary, as far as prestige, as far as challenge. Trying to make teaching cool again with all of these obstacles is a tad difficult.”

Fewer NC college students aspire to teach
...since 2010, fewer young people seem to be interested in the teaching profession in North Carolina. Even as overall enrollment at UNC schools has grown, enrollment in teacher education programs has declined, according to figures provided by the UNC system.

..."I think people are saying I don't want that job because it has a reputation of being a job that doesn't pay well and doesn't pay well enough to be able to support you for just an average living," said Dawn Rookey, an Owen High School teacher. "I think also there's been a lot of low teacher morale over the past three years with a lot of the legislative changes that have impacted the profession."

Young people may not see enough incentives to go into education, she said.


NEA Survey: Nearly Half Of Teachers Consider Leaving Profession Due to Standardized Testing

Arne Duncan finally admits that there's too much testing. Since 2001 and the passage of No Child Left Behind, the U.S. public education system has been wasting billions of dollars on excessive testing. Everyone has known it. Candidate Barack Obama knew it when he spoke to teachers in 2007. President Obama knew it when he talked to HS students in 2011 and when he spoke to the Congress in 2014. But the money flowing into, around, and through the test creation industry is too much for a politician to ignore.

Teachers and their students are the "innocent bystanders" in this corporate feeding frenzy. The misuse and overuse of testing is excessive, inappropriate, and educational malpractice, but the voices crying out against it don't have the billions of dollars that the Gates, Broad or Walton Family Foundations have. Teachers don't have anything to match the economic volume of Pearson's corporate voice.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently conceded that too much standardized testing was “sucking the oxygen out of the room” and causing “undue stress.” Although the nation’s educators may have been encouraged by Duncan’s words, they have been calling for an end to the high stakes testing culture for more than a decade. “As experts in educational practice, we know that the current system of standardized tests does not provide educators or students with the feedback or accountability any of us need to promote the success and learning of students,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen GarcĂ­a.


True cost of school vouchers 

Dumping millions of dollars of state tax money into parochial education is just wrong. Public tax money should go to public schools. American's United for Separation of Church and State says, "Ninety percent of American children attend public schools. Our focus should be on fully funding and improving this system, not siphoning money into private systems."
With voucher numbers escalating, an accounting of their effectiveness and their effect on public schools should be required.

Figures released recently by Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, show the number of voucher students this fall increased more than 47 percent, from 19,809 to 29,146.

“If we continue to see this kind of explosive growth in vouchers over the next few years, how is that going to help make our public schools whole again?” asked Porter, ranking minority member on the House Ways and Means Committee. “If more funding is provided for education, how much will have to be siphoned off to pay for vouchers?”

...Parents of public school students know the increased funding claims are bogus. With new attention to public school funding, taxpayers statewide might finally have a say in where their dollars are directed. Those discussions should begin with a detailed report on voucher funding and accountability. What is the real cost to students and Indiana schools?


There's a Big Problem With Time's Teacher-Bashing Cover Story

I don't miss Michelle Rhee's pontifications about public education, her complaints about how terrible unions are, or how "bad teachers" are destroying the country. On the other hand, others have stepped up in her absence and have focused their educationally-inexperienced attention on teachers. It seems every legislator, retired news caster, frustrated basketball player, and corporate billionaire knows how to evaluate teachers. You do it by looking at their students' test scores. If students don't have test scores in the teacher's subject (music for example) you make something up.

Time magazine has glorified California's Vergara case through it's November 4 cover. It seems that the editors of Time, whose covers have bashed teachers for decades, also know all about evaluating teachers...

Except that they don't.
So the whole foundation of this approach to "fixing" American public schools could very well be bogus? If that's the argument–which, it should be stressed, is not new (Extra!, 4/11)–then why is this at the end of the piece? And why doesn't the cover advertise the fact that the millionaires "saving" public education could very well be relying on a highly flawed method of sorting out the "bad apples"?

When you're profiling millionaires who prefer "concrete facts" to "taking sides" in their drive to "repair" public schools, it seems like you might want to do more to emphasize what the facts are.


Pence at Lighthouse Christian Academy on Veterans Day (behind pay wall)

Indiana Governor Mike Pence doesn't even try to hide his preference for private education over public education.
“I find it very telling that Gov. Pence would come to our area and only choose to stop at the private religious school. It is in keeping with his policies that benefit private schools over public schools,” said Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, chairwoman of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education of Monroe County and South Central Indiana.

“Gov. Pence should have come to our MCCSC public schools and seen the magic that goes on in each of the buildings, regardless of his stigmatizing letter grade labels,” she said.

From her point of view, Pence’s choice emphasized his support of schools like Lighthouse Christian that accept students with school-of-choice scholarships or vouchers.

“Voucher schools get to choose which kids come through their doors or stay,” she said. “Public education is dedicated to all children.”


This is from a while ago, but still worth watching...


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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