Archives for category: Bush, Jeb

We have heard constant patter about who opposes Common Core. According to Arne Duncan, only the Tea Party and a few disgruntled cranks oppose it.

But more interesting is who supports Common Core. Aside from Arne Duncan and the organizations that created it, Common Core has the fervent support of Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, a dozen hard-right Republican governors, and corporate America.

Erin Osborne has created a useful graphic to show who supports Common Core. Read it here.

UPDATE: the sponsor of this legislation withdrew it because of parent opposition and reluctance to hold voucher schools accountable


Jeb Bush has his eye on the Presidency. He will boast of
his education record, but it is a record of smashing public
education and diverting public funding to charters, for-profit
charter chains, vouchers, corporate vendors, anything but our basic
public schools. His antipathy to public education will haunt him.
is the latest scheme
pushed by Jeb and friends: more
money for vouchers but please don’t call them vouchers. And lots of
cash for all the helpers. Millions of dollars for facilitators of

Good news for Florida parents: Mercedes Schneider has written a brief fact sheet to show that Jeb’s “miracle” didn’t happen.

One example: Alabama has a higher graduation rate than Florida.

“Florida’s graduation rate has been among the lowest for years. In 2001-02, Florida’s graduation rate was among the bottom five states. In 2010-11, it was among the bottom seven (three states did not have rates calculated).

The 2010-11 calculation is a better measure for state-to-state comparison since the 2001-02 rate was not calculated uniformly for all states.

For 2012-13, Florida reports its overall graduation rate as 75.6%, up from 70.6% in 2010-11. This article attributes the rise in Florida school district graduation rates– which varies widely from district to district– to an emphasis on college preparedness–and the ACT test. Yet Florida was in the bottom six states for its average ACT score of 19.8 in 2012.

(For comparison sake: Alabama has a 2012-13 graduation rate of 80% and a 2012 average ACT of 20.3, and it does not promote establishing charter schools or grading teachers using student test scores.)”

This is a horrifying story about educational policy gone mad, gone cruel, gone inhumane.

Ethan Rediske, an 11-year-old boy, died in hospice in Florida last Friday.

Before he died, his plight gained national attention.

Valerie Strauss wrote about him, and so did Laura Clawson in the Daily Kos.

Ethan was blind and had brain damage and cerebral palsy.

As he lay dying in hospice, the state demanded written documentation to prove that he should not be required to take the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test).

Surely, the state knew his condition. But the state could not rest content. They needed proof before allowing this child to skip the state test.

He had a teacher who came to his room each day, but he obviously could not take the FCAT.

His mother publicized this absurd, heartless, and cruel situation.

Without documentation, Ethan’s teacher will be penalized because he didn’t take the test.

A few days ago, Ethan’s mother wrote:

Ethan is dying. He has been in hospice care for the past month. We are in the last days of his life. His loving and dedicated teacher, Jennifer Rose has been visiting him every day, bringing some love, peace, and light into these last days. How do we know that he knows that she is there? Because he opens his eyes and gives her a little smile. He is content and comforted after she leaves.

Jennifer is the greatest example of what a dedicated teacher should be. About a week ago, Jennifer hesitantly told me that the district required a medical update for continuation of the med waiver for the adapted FCAT. Apparently, my communication through her that he was in hospice wasn’t enough: they required a letter from the hospice company to say that he was dying. Every day that she comes to visit, she is required to do paperwork to document his “progress.” Seriously? Why is Ethan Rediske not meeting his 6th-grade hospital homebound curriculum requirements? BECAUSE HE IS IN A MORPHINE COMA. We expect him to go any day. He is tenaciously clinging to life.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, how will you evaluate the performance of Ethan’s teacher Jennifer Rose? Will she be considered “ineffective” because Ethan didn’t make any progress this year?

Jeb Bush, is this the accountability system of which you are so proud? Is this the Florida model?

Arne and Jeb, this is not a multiple-choice question: Do you care more about children or about data? Please write a five-paragraph essay with specific reference to the case of Ethan.

What a ridiculous claim!

In a court case in California, a bevy or flock or pride of teacher-bashing organizations argue that teacher tenure violates the civil rights of students. The bevy says that bad teachers hurt students and tenure protects bad teachers.

Maybe next they will sue to eliminate tenure in higher education so everyone is an adjunct.

In higher education, tenure is a guarantee of a lifetime job.

In K-12 education, tenure is a promise of a hearing before they fire you. If a student falsely claims you touched him or her, you are fired without a hearing. If the principal doesn’t like your race, your religion, your face, he or she can fire you without having to say why.

Here is Ted Olsen explaining to the Jeb Bush foundation of rightwing extremists how this case will be a civil rights landmark.

No, it will be one more nail in the coffin of the teaching profession, one more chance to reduce the status of teachers and to increase churn.

Here is what the teachers of the Bay Area say.

“Just when you think that some of the big moneyed, right wing reformers might back off from their unsound, unproven and unrealistic schemes, along comes another one!

“Did you know that because of five sections of the California Education Code YOU have just become the enemy and you are accused of depriving our neediest students of their education?

“Forget about the damage done by unnecessary high stakes testing and fly by night charter schools. Disregard poverty, racism, homelessness, neglect and malnutrition. So what if the schools in California are ranked at the bottom in per pupil funding, class sizes, number of librarians, counselors and nurses in our schools. Not to mention that we have lowered the number of educators by over 30,000, in the California in the last few years.

“Don’t even think about the hard work that you and your colleagues do every day to teach the children of San Francisco under difficult and challenging conditions.

“David F. Welch, CEO of INFINERA, a fiber optics communication company, is the founder of NewSchools Venture Fund. Previously, the fund has invested in charter schools in Boston and worked in “school reform” in New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Oakland. Now he has created “Students Matter,” and hired the law firm of Theodore B. Olsen, Theodore J. Boutrous and Marcellus Antonio Mc Rae, partners in the powerful law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, to sue the state of California.

“In their own words, “The lawsuit seeks to strike down five provisions of the education code that, separately and together, push some of out best teachers out of the classroom and entrench grossly ineffective teachers in our schools….”

“They allege that “California’s schools hire and retain grossly ineffective teachers at alarming rates.”

“In the lawsuit they attack the due process rights that are referred to when you achieve “tenure.” They attack procedures called for when you are accused of misbehavior by a student, a parent or an administrator. They attack seniority when there is a need for lay-offs. And they want “objective evidence of student growth” to be part of evaluations.

“No one in the profession wants educators who are not competent and not doing the job they have been hired to do. No one in the profession wants to see students harmed in any way.

“But, all that tenure really means is that a person must be made aware of the reason they may be in jeopardy of losing their job. Educators should not be “at will” employees who can be fired at the whim of the administration. We do not want the careers of people ruined because they have been falsely accused of misbehavior. The unions seek to protect the rights of employees to know the charges made against them, and the right to defend oneself. That is what is meant by due process.

“The reformers have filed this lawsuit because they have failed to achieve their ends using the democratic political process. The Education Code of California was created by our elected representatives. If the public wants to make changes, there is a democratic process to do that. The people behind this effort have been unsuccessful in doing that and so they have resorted to going to court to push their anti-teacher, anti-union perspective.”

Consider this historical satire. It was written by Paul Horton, who teaches history at the University of Chicago Lab School.


A Modest Proposal for the Gang of Four

(Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush)

Your plan for defeating the yellow dogs of reaction has not been effective. You need to get serious. Because you know very little about the history of revolutionary progress (Mr. Duncan, you were fed the phrase “Potemkin Village” by someone with a reactionary history degree) you need some motivation. If you cannot make this happen within two years, you will not benefit from a future in the Foundation Politburo, you will not be granted a passport, and you will not be allowed to shop in party stores.


To continue the Cultural Revolution in Education we need to break the spirit of the reactionary teachers who insist that there might be value in teaching literary and philosophical classics, languages, culture, and what some describe as the “Humanities.” The Humanities are nothing but selfish, evil Bourgeois reaction that slows the creation of “21st Century Skills” acquisition. All else is pretense: we need 21st century workers and we need them ready for community colleges that will feed our factory dormitories with skilled workers.


We will achieve the global VAM (value added measurement) threshold in four years. Reactionary teachers all over the world will be pitted against each other and resistance will be crushed.


Until then, we need to “Clamp-down” harder (The Clash) to create fear so that the reactionary house of cards will fall very easily.


Strategic Plan:


Year One: Invite criticism from teacher’s unions and compile a list of members of teacher’s unions.


–selectively quote teacher union criticisms of revolutionary reform in revolutionary (corporate) media outlets


–target all union members in appearances on major talking heads show segments


–create “forums” at major universities, Chambers of Commerce, and civic organizations to explain the voluntary nature of all reform efforts


–instruct Red Guard (Teach for America) to receive ideological instruction at Foundation Politburo School


–hire Red Guard into the College Board, Pearson Education, Educational Testing Service, state and local superintendent jobs

–elect Red Guard into jobs on state school boards, into state legislatures and senates


–cozy Red Guard up to Congressmen and Senators, especially those who sit on Education and Budget Committees


–Red Guard will coordinate with ALEC to sponsor “parent trigger legislation” to create more charters and jobs for Red Guard


–pay for Red Guard as Education policy staff for all elected officials


–pay Red Guard to attack, spit on, and humiliate commenters to reactionary blog posts


–hire Red Guard as public and charter school administrators to attack the reactionary yellow dogs who speak of “democratic process,” “progressive education,” and “laboratories for democracy.”


–instruct Red Guard administrators to create intentional “hostile workplace” to intimidate reactionary teachers. All union members should see their files thicken and be exposed to frequent “shake-downs.” The older, more depressed teachers should be further intimidated by frequent negative observations and assessments. At assessment conferences, the sentence “we have viewed your e-mail messages over the past five years and we strongly encourage you to resign” should be shared at the end of negative evaluation.


–pay Red Guard Administrators a bonus for every experienced teacher who resigns or retires



Year Two: Learning from the New York Experience


–have state superintendents “cut” scores so that only those in impoverished neighborhood schools fail


–use “low student attendance” and “overcrowding” to close public schools in underserved areas. This is often a two-step process: close schools for low attendance, then consolidate to create overcrowding to justify opening more charters


–use sticks and carrots to coopt local and national political officials


–congressmen in suburban districts will be told: “if you go with the program we have campaign funds from potential investors for you, if not, you are political toast.”


–corporate leaders will speak often at meetings in well funded suburban districts to gain the support of upper income parents and opinion leaders


–have all revolutionary (corporate) media outlets supplied with talking points that repeat “higher standards,” “21st century skills,” “low test scores mean higher standards,” “voluntary,” “state driven,” “charters are innovative,” and “teachers are lazy reactionaries” every day.


–block all revolutionary media access to reactionaries


–pay for astroturf (disguised Red Guard) protests in favor of new charters at school board and city-council meetings



Year Three: Reeducation Camp: Rat Islands (The Aleutians)


–the Red Guard will be instructed to eliminate all complainers


–reactionaries will be deported to work camp


–reactionaries will be instructed to respect data and will be forced to write programs for educational video games for “Turn it Up” corporation


–Are you a reactionary?



Think about it!



The Friendly Foundation Politburo (Comrade Narrow)

The Internet is buzzing about Arne Duncan’s condescending and insulting comment about white suburban moms who oppose the Common Core because they discovered their child was not so brilliant after all and their local public school was not very good.

But meanwhile Mercedes Schneider found Arne’s message to the first Moms Congress, where he defined parental engagement in ways that would make ALEC and Jeb Bush happy. Most people think of parental engagement as getting involved to help your school, but Arne defined as as school choice, exercising your right to leave your school and go elsewhere.

Now we understand why rumors flew in 2012 that if Romney were elected, he might ask Arne to stay on. Race to the Top is completely congruent with No Child Left Behind. The main difference between them is that Democrats stood up to Bush’s NCLB.

Carole Marshall is a retired teacher in Rhode Island who explains how State Commissioner Deborah Gist’s insistence on standardized testing has discouraged educators and students across the state. The most pernicious effect of this policy, Marshall shows, has hurt poor and minority youngsters the most.

In an article in the Providence Journal, Marshall writes:

The Oct. 15 Commentary piece (“R.I.’s diploma system brings out the best”) by Deborah Gist, Rhode Island’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, is yet another demonstration of her ability to say what she wants to be true, as if the saying of it makes it true.

Among the many half-truths and untruths in her screed is the insinuation that students who score badly on the New England Common Assessment Program tests, i.e. urban students, have been subject to “years of poor, inadequate education,” while students who do well have teachers who, by contrast, “provide great instruction that engages students on many levels and teaches key academic skills.”

This malicious slur on urban teachers is the ultimate in hubris from a young woman who spent a handful of years teaching in an elementary school and since then has glided up the professional ladder on the shoulders of right-wing politicians and millionaires like Jeb Bush and Eli Broad. If there are any urban teachers who didn’t know what the commissioner thought of them before, they know now.

I left urban teaching before I had planned to for one reason only: I could not be a participant in what top-down, standardized testing does to destroy education in urban schools and, by extension, the lives of students who are already hanging on by a slender thread to the dream of a successful middle-class life.

Before the systematic destruction began, I would have held my school, Hope, up against any other school in the state in terms of who was providing great instruction. Hope’s faculty included a significant number of advanced degrees, Ivy League graduates, and national-board-certified teachers. With the support of then-Commissioner Peter McWalters, we taught literacy across the curriculum, shared rubrics for scoring work, and created a system for student portfolios. We were doing the slow, careful job of building a climate characterized by rigorous, accountable learning.

Then high-stakes testing arrived on the scene and to nobody’s surprise, urban schools’ scores were worse than the scores of suburban schools; the same pattern repeats itself year after year in every corner of this country.

Why? There are a host of extremely well-documented reasons for this. To name just a few: Urban schools have a hugely disproportionate number of students who are new to the language; a hugely disproportionate number of students with learning disabilities; and large numbers of students with serious behavioral problems, including those sent from their suburban districts to group homes in the cities.

That is in addition to the reality that students from impoverished environments are often handicapped by circumstances beyond their control, such as vocabulary deficits, health problems, unstable homes, hunger, and the list goes on. We can all wish these conditions didn’t exist, but we can’t, as Commissioner Gist likes to do, simply ignore them away. Throwing tests at urban students does nothing to solve their problems. The disparities will only grow wider as mandatory test preparation steals more and more time from real education in urban schools.

On the subject of test prep and teaching to the test, Commissioner Gist is correct about one thing: “schools with students who perform well on state assessments do not focus on test preparation.” Pretty tautologically obvious in my opinion; the schools with students who perform well have no reason to focus on test preparation.

On the other hand, in the schools that are being threatened with closure solely on the basis of test scores, you can be sure administrators are not just sitting around, waiting to lose their jobs. The specter of low scores powerfully encourages test preparation and teaching to the test.

This year, the turn-around company hired for $5 million to raise scores in Providence schools hired tutors who spent every school day during the month of September prepping 11th graders for the NECAP assessments.

The students were missing their regular classes every day, even in subjects like physics and foreign languages, so that the schools could show improvement. Suburban parents would never have allowed this; urban parents were not informed.

Students are disingenuously told that this is all happening for their own good. Any reader of this newspaper who truly believes that the testing juggernaut is about benefiting the students is sorely uninformed.

The textbook publishers who sell the test and test-prep materials will make their billions, the so-called turn-around companies will make their millions, and carpetbaggers like Ms. Gist will continue blithely along their career paths, leaving behind wrecked schools and crushed dreams in the cities.

Carole Marshall taught at Hope High School for 18 years, retiring in 2012. Before that she was a business correspondent for the Observer of London and taught journalism at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the University of Rhode Island.

Some party!

EduShyster crashed it and couldn’t find many happy events.

Hanna Skandera, one of the shrinking number of Jeb’s Chiefs for Change, was a no-show.

Tony Bennett, ex-Indiana chief, ex-Florida chief, was not sure whether to lecture on A-F grading systems. Rahm Emanuel insisted he was not a reformer, maybe just a passerby.

Was anyone happy? Sounds more like a wake than a party.

Are the reformers down in the dumps because they realize they ARE the status quo?

Who can you rail against when you control the federal government, the biggest foundations, and most states?

Just those darn teachers.

A comment on the corporate reformers who say they want to attract “the best and brightest” into teaching:

“Attract the “Best and the Brightest” – please !!! I have 2 masters and have taught for 18years – in Miami – I make less than $44,000 … . Thanks Jeb – teachers are now starving and losing their homes in Miami

* was told last week we may get a big $2000 – $4,000 dollar raise … Please, after FL teachers have taken past cuts that combined equal 1 year pay – thanks
I lost my house because for 4 years I did not get a Salary step increase”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 95,014 other followers