"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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2015 Medley #28

Reform, Read-aloud, New Orleans, Teacher Shortage, Privatization, Pushing Children, TFA, The Danger of Choice


Why Conservatives Should Not Support Our Current Education Reform

Something to think about when you listen to Republican candidates talk about public education policy...
Education reform does not really mean smaller government: it has resulted in an unprecedented expansion of the power and influence of the Federal Department of Education. Education reform has resulted in the Federal government interfering with local decision-making, using top-down edicts to drive what happens in districts, in schools, and in individual classrooms. No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, and the Common Core State Standards (which were heavily promoted, if not used as a bribe) were all examples of federal overreach...

...the free-market theory of education states that if only parents could choose schools for their children, we would quickly see "bad" schools close when parents took their children elsewhere, and we would soon be living in an educational utopia. First, a true free-market would not be government- funded...

...Public schools are often criticized as being full of teachers who are only there for the money, for an easy paycheck. Money is seen as being a bad motivator. Yet no one seems to question the money-making motivation of testing companies, charter schools, or for-profit private schools. The question becomes, is money the best motivation for education?


Study says reading aloud to children, more than talking, builds literacy

Reading aloud to children continues to prove its worth. Thank you Jim Trelease!
Reading aloud is the best way to help children develop word mastery and grammatical understanding, which form the basis for learning how to read, said Massaro, who studies language acquisition and literacy. He found that picture books are two to three times as likely as parent-child conversations to include a word that isn’t among the 5,000 most common English words.


The Myth of the New Orleans School Makeover

First we had George W. Bush's "Texas Miracle" which brought us No Child Left Behind and the statistically impossible goal of 100% proficiency by 2014.

Then Arne Duncan told us about the "New Orleans Miracle"...and gave thanks for the destruction caused by Katrina.

It turns out, however, that the "New Orleans Miracle" is no more successful than the "Texas Miracle."
...the New Orleans miracle is not all it seems. Louisiana state standards are among the lowest in the nation. The new research also says little about high school performance. And the average composite ACT score for the Recovery School District was just 16.4 in 2014, well below the minimum score required for admission to a four-year public university in Louisiana.

There is also growing evidence that the reforms have come at the expense of the city’s most disadvantaged children, who often disappear from school entirely and, thus, are no longer included in the data.
The author also responds to critics of this article. Read here.


Crisis hits Oklahoma classrooms with teacher shortage, quality concerns

The teacher shortage is finding its way across the country.
A host of other things made her life as a teacher more difficult, including bigger class sizes, rates of teacher turnover and student discipline problems, plus she feared repercussions for speaking out about those problems.

Tart said she and her colleagues would sometimes stay at school as late as 9 p.m., grading papers and finishing lesson plans. She would also take work home, some nights working past midnight.

Education reform caused teacher shortage

Robert Behning began his career in the Indiana House as a florist, but apparently, collecting donations from school "reform" proponents is adequate training in education because now, all of the sudden, with no additional schooling whatsoever, Behning has become an "educational consultant."

Behning, and State Senator and auctioneer, Dennis Kruse, have led their respective houses of the Indiana General Assembly, along with the Pence dominated State Board of Education, on a 5 year campaign to destroy public school teachers and public schools. With the Governor's blessing, the General Assembly and SBOE have overseen the loss of revenue to more and more testing, diversion of public funds for vouchers and charter schools, teacher evaluations based on test scores, the end of due process for teachers, lowering the qualifications for teaching, and severe reductions in collective bargaining rights. During the legislative sessions the battles for and against public schools are widely publicized and reported around the state.

Yet Behning and Kruse don't understand why there is a teacher shortage.
As chairmen of the Indiana House and Senate Education Committees, Rep. Robert Behning and Sen. Dennis Kruse have announced formation of a study committee to determine why there is a pending teacher shortage. They seem surprised. They shouldn’t be.

They and Gov. Mike Pence need to look into the mirror...


Pearson to become the gate-keeper for student teachers in Illinois.

There's no longer any pretense in the quest to privatize everything to do with public education. In the first of what will likely become a national trend, Pearson, the giant textbook, test prep, and test publisher will now be responsible for licensing teachers in Illinois.

Student teachers will be evaluated by Pearson's "edTPA" and, without regard for their supervising teachers' opinions, be granted, or not granted, certification.

Oh...and it will cost student teachers an extra $300 above the tuition (and the thousands of dollars of debt) to the teacher preparation institution they might be attending.

While high achieving nations reduce the cost for teacher candidates...and in many cases pay them during their internship...we are going in the opposite direction.
Starting this fall Pearson will be in the business of deciding who becomes a teacher in the state of Illinois.

The Illinois State Board of Education has adopted a rule that designates Pearson’s “edTPA” as the means by which student teachers will be evaluated and granted certification.

As the fall semester begins, all student teachers in the state will be required to pay an extra $300 (on top of the tuition they are already paying) and arrange for videotaping so that they can submit a lengthy narrative that covers the planning, execution and evaluation of a series of lessons with one of their classes as well as a ten-minute video of themselves carrying out their lesson with a class.

Student teachers are required to get parent permission for their children to be video-taped.

Pearson owns the video.

Once submitted to Pearson, an “evaluator” will apply rubrics and 2-3 hours of their time to decide whether or not the student teacher “passes” and can be licensed to teach by the State of Illinois.

That’s right—no longer will the evaluations of cooperating teachers, university field instructors and education professors determine the success of a student teacher.

Sounds like a nightmare?


Why pushing kids to learn too much too soon is counterproductive

In this and the following articles we see once again, that the United States ignores the lessons of research and the best practices which high achieving nations use. We ignore developmentally appropriate practices. We are going backwards with the training of teachers; We're pushing for less training instead of more. And we're steadily, surely, moving our schools back to a segregated, inequitable, and unequal system.
Given the nationwide push to teach children more and more complex concepts at earlier and earlier ages, you’d think that there surely must be an extensive scientific literature to support these efforts. Not only does no such data exist, but an emerging body of research indicates that attempts to accelerate intellectual development are in fact counterproductive.


The Teach For America Bait and Switch: From 'You’ll Be Making a Difference' to 'You’re Making Excuses'

How do we get the "great teachers" that "reformers" claim we need to make our schools great again, when we let our most vulnerable students go to classes taught by poorly trained novices?
TFA staff ignored the life circumstances of many of my students. I could not change the circumstances that led Jerome to bring a roach-infested notebook to school, or the fact that Peter’s mother told him to “get his lick back,” meaning that if someone hits him, he should hit back. Whenever I tried to bring up the lived realities of my students’ lives and the real challenges they faced, once again, I was told I was “making excuses.” Despite my having personal knowledge of my students and their families, my voice and ultimately my potential to use alternative methods and ideas for creating a more learner-centered, productive environment was repeatedly pushed aside, as it contradicted TFA talking points.


Opinion: National experiment in school choice, market solutions produces inequity

A look at Chile's educational system will give you a glimpse into our future...a two tiered system with well funded, high quality schools for the rich, and deteriorating, underfunded, crowded classrooms for the rest. Milton Friedman's legacy is tragic.
Imagine a country that was once committed to quality public education, but began to treat that public good like a market economy with the introduction of charter schools and voucher systems.

Imagine that after a few years, most students in this country attended private schools and there was public funding for most of such schools, which must compete for that funding by improving their results. Imagine the state fostered this competition by publishing school rankings, so parents were informed of the results obtained by each institution.

Imagine, finally, that school owners were allowed to charge extra fees to parents, thereby rendering education a quite profitable business.

But let’s stop imagining, because this country already exists.

After a series of policies implemented from the 1980s onward, Chilean governments have managed to develop one of the most deregulated, market-oriented educational schemes in the world.

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!





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