"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 20, 2015

2015 Medley #12

Limiting Teachers' Free Speech, Hillary Clinton, Poverty, Sagan, Teacher Crisis, Reading


Politicians tell educators, "Shut up! You have no freedom of speech."

In Indiana, teachers and other government employees are prohibited from using their work emails for political messaging (See Indiana Code 3-14-1-17), but free speech for educators in Arizona and New Mexico is limited even more. The amendment referred to below effectively prohibits Arizona teachers from saying anything about any legislation...
In the 2015 legislative session, the AZ House passed an amendment to Senate Bill 1172 that places a gag order on any school employee who publicly protests legislative action. The bill "prohibits an employee of a school district or charter school, acting on the district's or charter school's behalf, from distributing electronic materials to influence the outcome of an election or to advocate support for or opposition to pending or proposed legislation."
And the New Mexico Administrative Code prohibits school staff members from saying anything which disparages standardized tests! STAFF RESPONSIBILITY:
C. It shall be a prohibitive practice for anyone to:
(8) disparage or diminish the significance, importance or use of the standardized tests.


Am I Ready for Hillary?

Blogger Peter Greene (Curmudgucation) remembers how we were fooled into thinking that Democrats support public education...and how Andrew Cuomo and Barack Obama have proven that assumption completely wrong.

Is there any reason to expect Hillary Clinton to denounce the Gates/Broad plan for public education? Probably not, since the Gates Foundation is a major supporter of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and Eli Broad was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton in 2008 and probably will be again.

Is there any candidate or political party who will speak out against the privatization and corporatization of public education?
I have never been a single-issue voter, but my profession has never been so attacked, besieged and crushed under policymakers' boots. So I will not, not under any circumstances, vote for any candidate who gives me the slightest inkling that she (or he) is planning to give me four more years like the last fifteen. I don't care if you're promising me a pony and your opponent is threatening to send locusts to my home town-- if you aren't going to change the destructive, educationally abusive, mandatory malpractice policies of the previous two administrations, I will not vote for you, period, full stop.
See also: Hillary Clinton Feels Common Core Pain


What Can We Agree On, After Atlanta?

Those who claim "poverty isn't destiny" and "poverty is no excuse" are often those who have failed in their responsibility to reduce societal poverty. John Merrow calls out the hypocrisy of deflecting all the responsibility to teachers and schools.
To me, the biggest hypocrites are those who preach, “Poverty can never be offered as an excuse” (for poor student performance) but then do nothing to alleviate poverty and its attendant conditions. What they are saying, bottom line, is “It’s the teachers’ fault” when kids in poverty-ridden schools do poorly on tests or fail to graduate.

These preachers disguise their mendacity with words of praise for teachers, calling them ‘heroes whose brave work changes the lives of their fortunate students blah blah blah.’ Sounds great, but when it comes from those who discount all the other factors that affect outcomes, it’s hypocrisy. They’re setting up teachers and schools to be blamed.

How satisfying and convenient to have a simple, easy-to-grasp analysis. And how hypocritical.

Study links brain anatomy, academic achievement, and family income

Just in case there are any doubts...poverty matters.
"Just as you would expect, there's a real cost to not living in a supportive environment. We can see it not only in test scores, in educational attainment, but within the brains of these children," says MIT's John Gabrieli, the Grover M. Hermann Professor in Health Sciences and Technology, professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and one of the study's authors. "To me, it's a call to action. You want to boost the opportunities for those for whom it doesn't come easily in their environment."



Fewer education majors, and worries about where tomorrow’s teachers will come from

The current hatred that the media, policy makers, and pundits have for professional educators is going to backfire on Americans. The real teacher crisis isn't "bad teachers." It's the deprofessionalizing of the teaching profession by "reformers."

In Indiana, for example, rather than create an incentive for high achieving students to go into education using competitive wages, professional autonomy (i.e. self-direction, which legislators nationwide seem to be actively discouraging), and self-directed, meaningful professional development, we have lowered the standards for becoming a teacher.

Why would legislators, members of state boards of education, and even the most devout "reformers" want to lower the qualifications for teaching when "bad teachers" is one of the main rallying cries of GERM, the Global Education "Reform" Movement? Why are untrained teachers such as those now allowed by Indiana, or new recruits coming from Teach for America preferred when we know that training and experience matter for student achievement?

Perhaps it's because privately run schools such as charter schools don't pay teachers as much as public schools. Since those schools are receiving more and more taxpayer dollars they find themselves in a quandary; Follow the rules for public schools or lose the money. Legislatures, state boards of education, and governors, all of whom want to support school privatization, are lowering the requirements for teachers so private corporations can lower personnel costs and maximize profits.

Rather than increasing the quality of America's educators, we're diluting it. The "reformers" demonize teachers and by doing so chase good teachers out of the profession and disincentivize prospective teachers from seeking careers in education. We're doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing.
Nor have the full effects of the enrollment slowdown been realized. The real struggle is expected to crest in several years when school districts search for new teachers from a shrinking pool of qualified educators.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” says Alisa Chapman, a UNC system vice-president for academic and university programs who is closely tracking the enrollment declines in UNC system education programs. “It’s going to be more challenging for our public schools to find teachers that they need for their classrooms.”

American teachers, more demoralized than ever, are quitting in droves
...there is little evidence to show that any of this has worked, even by the reformers' criteria for success in testing and evaluation methods such as, “valued added measures” and standardized tests scores. In fact, years of these “disruptive innovations” have resulted in a situation today of poor job satisfaction for teachers....

...the turnover rate in the teaching profession is on the rise. The report for the Alliance for Excellent Education estimated that “over 1 million teachers move in and out of schools annually, and between 40 and 50 percent quit within five years.”


Don’t read because you should

If you want students to learn that reading is a rewarding experience then you ought to let them read whatever they want to read. P.Z. Myers, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota (Morris), writes about learning to enjoy reading by reading Edgar Rice Burroughs and comic books.

If you're only interested in students learning to read because they have to pass a test, then ignore this...
...beware the attitude that you should tell people what they should read: what you’re doing isn’t ennobling their mind, it’s teaching them that reading is a chore and an obligation, and that it isn’t fun at all...

My philosophy is always to encourage a passion — if you are devoted enough to start devouring books on any topic, eventually you’ll find enjoyable and educational stuff on your own. But the key step is to foster pleasure in reading anything.


The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

Stop the Testing Insanity!





No comments: