Posted on May 20, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by David Kaib
Amidst all the debate about charter schools, one thing has often been left out. They are not delivering on what their advocates claimed they would do, as the New York Times reports:
A primary rationale for the creation of charter schools, which are publicly financed and privately run, was to develop test kitchens for practices that could be exported into the traditional schools. President Obama, in recently proclaiming “National Charter Schools Week,” said they “can provide effective approaches for the broader public education system.”
But two decades since the schools began to appear, educators from both systems concede that very little of what has worked for charter schools has found its way into regular classrooms. Testy political battles over space and money, including one that became glaringly public in New York State this spring, have inhibited attempts at collaboration. The sharing of school buildings, which in theory should foster communication, has more frequently led to conflict.
Filed under: The enemy, Uncategorized | Tagged: charter schools, Education | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 20, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Deborah Meier
Dear friends and readers,
I’m in the process of putting together a collection of my writings on democracy with my friend, editor and co-thinker, Andy Hrycyna. I’m also in the process of straightening up my house—e.g. getting rid of books I’ll never reread (or read), etc. In the process I’ve rediscovered so many books that are about the topic of democracy that I either never read when I got them or have forgotten. I started pulling them out and scanning them—in astonishment. They either said much of what I was trying to say or had ideas I had not yet even considered but that seemed very relevant.
In short, if we all stopped writing new books for about five years and devoted ourselves to doing the same—reading the books we already have—we’d be amazed at how many wonderful ideas are floating out there in the form of books that haven’t been sufficiently appreciated. (I note that when I’m deciding whether to read a book I eagerly look first to see whether my name appears, or a book I’ve written—then I look for Ted Sizer’s name, then Symour Sarason, Eleanor Duckworth, Maxine Green, Herb Kohl, John Holt, Jonathon Kozol, etc etc). But in fact…there are a whole cast of old “new” (or new old) characters I’m determined to add to my list.
For example. Just yesterday I pulled off my selves the following nine “new” books—all 20-49 years old. A generation ago. They are in no order—just the order of the pile next to my desk at the moment.
Crisis in the Classroom: The Remaking of American Education, by Charles Silberman. 1971. It was a ground breaker. My falling apart copy has notes and underlinings on every page. (It was published by Vintage and I have no idea if it’s still available—except in libraries.)
Filed under: Book Reviews | Tagged: Democracy, Education | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 17, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by David Kaib
Flickr Creative Commons Cybrarian77
Kindergartner students in the deep blue state of Massachusetts are being shamed by publicly posting their test scores. Here’s Sarah Jaffe reporting on “data walls”:
Last year, K-12 teachers in the Holyoke, Massachusetts school district were told to try a new tactic to improve test scores: posting “data walls” in their classrooms. The walls list students by name and rank them by their scores on standardized tests. This, they say administrators told them, would motivate children to try harder on those tests.
Teachers did so, many unwillingly. Agustin Morales, an English teacher at Maurice A. Donahue Elementary School in Holyoke felt pressure to comply, but finds the data walls cruel. One of his top students did poorly on a standardized test in November and found her name at the bottom of the data wall. Afterward, in a writing assignment for class, she “wrote about how sad she was, how depressed she was because she’d scored negatively on it, she felt stupid.”
“So why do I hate data walls?” he continued. “Because of how she felt that day. She felt worthless. She felt like she wasn’t as good as other people.”
Morales isn’t alone in opposing the data walls. They’re widely seen as just the latest front in a war being fought by educators, parents and students nationwide against what teacher educator Barbara Madeloni calls “predatory education reform.”
Earlier, Jaffe wrote about the difficulties of kindergartners given standardized tests in New York , which “pit children against one another instead of teaching them to share, which can turn even a kindergarten classroom into a den of hyper-individualistic bootstrappers.” And indeed, like the data wall and the shaming it facilities, “This is a feature, not a bug, of the testing regime.” Continue reading
Filed under: Organizing, Politics | Tagged: Education | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 20, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Deborah Meier
Definitely go out and buy Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to Americas Public Schools by Diane Ravitch, which just been launched with proper publicity. She is a phenomenal woman—sending out a half-dozen e-mails a day, two books in the last decade, and traveling to speak throughout the USA. And…while she’s younger than me, she’s old enough to have rested on her laurels. Maybe it helps to change your mind, because my exhaustion comes (in part) from feeling it’s all been said before (including by me).
Reign of Error lays out step by step the relentless thirty year drive to either centralize the education of the young—on one hand—or divest it entirely into privatized hands on the other. Finally, the two sides have joined forces on a strategy that simultaneously does both. While this coalition has many old roots, in its current form it began with the fanfare around the publication of A Nation at Risk (1983). Ravitch was, at that time, a supporter of this bold statement that more or less accused America’s teachers and school boards of a plot to undermine American health and welfare of the international scene. We were, said the signers, at risk of becoming a second rate nation if we didn’t take this crisis seriously. I asked my colleague on the NBPTS, AFT leader Al Shanker, why he had signed on. He said it was a good strategy because only in a crisis is the nation willing to put the money into schooling needed to make it really first-rate. He said—as I recall (paraphrased), ‘It’s true our schools are not as bad as the report suggests, but we are entering a new period and they either have to change dramatically or what the report accuses them of will become true. We need a smarter citizenry.’ Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews | Tagged: Diane Ravitch, Education, privatization | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 12, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
In this episode Michelle Rhee’s lies are exposed. We must insist that she be held accountable for the cheating that occurred under her direction. She is NOT above the law!! Continue reading
Filed under: Busting the union busters | Tagged: Education, Michelle Rhee, Students First | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 1, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
House of Cards is a series of short videos created by the Badass Teachers Association to bring to the forefront the key players in the corporate education reform movement. Each week a new player will be featured along with information concerning their words and actions that have been aimed at the destruction of our public schools. The video created by Terri Michal. Talking Union will be presenting the episodes on an ongoing basis.
Filed under: Busting the union busters, Politics | Tagged: corproate education reform, Education, Education reform | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 25, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Teach for America wanted to help stem a teacher shortage. Why then are thousands of experienced educators being replaced by hundreds of new college graduates?
Teach for America has come under heavy scrutiny in recent months. The organization was imagined over twenty years ago by Princeton undergraduate Wendy Kopp to combat the teacher shortage in urban and rural communities. TFA was to bring recent graduates from elite universities to teach in needy schools.
The idea was pretty simple. TFA was not better for students; it was better than nothing. Providing staff in these schools alleviated overcrowding and research shows that class size does matter in a child’s education.
Twenty years later, school districts are firing huge swaths of educators due to budget cuts. These dedicated teachers lose their jobs through no fault of their own, but find themselves competing for a dwindling number of open teaching slots. One would think that at this point, TFA is no longer necessary. We have a surplus of teachers and until politicians make education a priority and fund more teaching positions, this trend will continue.
Filed under: Politics | Tagged: Chicago public schools, Education, Michelle Rhee, Teach fo America, TFA | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 5, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Amy B. Dean
by Amy Dean
Diane Ravitch upends the “bad teachers” narrative.
Part of what I object to is the assumption that somehow the problems in American education are all tied up with teachers. The teachers are causing low performance, and if we could just find the ideal teacher evaluation system, we would be the highest performing nation in the world. I think that’s a false narrative.
I have a concern: Teachers are getting pummeled. Too often, they are being demonized in the media and blamed by politicians for being the cause of bad schools. Right-wing governors, power-hungry mayors and corporate “reformers”—all ignoring root issues such as poverty and inequality—have scapegoated the people who have devoted their lives to educating our children. Moreover, these forces are seeking to destroy the collective organizations formed by educators: teachers unions.
The stakes for our country could not be more profound. The labor movement and the public education system are two critical institutions of American democracy. And they are two that go hand in hand. Teachers unions have played a critical role in advocating for public education, but you’d never know it from mainstream media coverage. Therefore, there is a great need to lift up this tradition and highlight the efforts of teachers to collectively push for top-notch public schools.
To figure out how we can push forward on this issue, I talked with Diane Ravitch, one of the country’s leading education historians and public school advocates. A professor at New York University, Ravitch is a former Assistant Secretary of Education and the author of several books, including 2010’s The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.
Filed under: Economy | Tagged: Diane Ravitch, Education, teachers, teachers unions | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 27, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Amy B. Dean
Amy B. Dean
The Chicago teachers’ strike may be over, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel may have replaced the Chicago schools CEO, but the underlying issues that caused the rift between teachers and public schools officials haven’t gone away. Because our education system is such a vital public asset, we cannot resolve these issues in the context of a crisis. In the strike’s aftermath, though, we have an opportunity to begin tackling them.
There are two key issues that need to be addressed going forward: resources and accountability.
If we’re serious about fixing the long-term problems in the schools, we should take a careful look at each of these, determining how they should shape the roles of all players in the system — be they administrators, teachers, parents, or politicians.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Chicago Teachers Strike, Education | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 14, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Corey Robin
Like Doug Henwood, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out why people—particularly liberals and pseudo-liberals in the chattering classes—hate teachers unions. One could of course take these people at their word—they care about the kids, they worry that strikes hurt the kids, and so on—but since we never hear a peep out of them about the fact that students have to swelter through 98-degree weather in jam-packed classes without air conditioning, I’m not so inclined.
Forgive me then if I essay an admittedly more impressionistic analysis drawn from my own experience.
Filed under: Solidarity | Tagged: Chicago Teachers Strike, Education, liberals who hate teachers | 1 Comment »