Archives for category: Education Industry

Franchesca Warren is outraged by “the deadening silence of teachers.” Teachers are afraid to say what they know and believe for fear of being fired.

She writes:

“As a pretty opinionated teacher, I am always full of ideas and speak out regularly against practices that are unjust or not beneficial to students. However, time and time again I have been “scolded” by more veteran teachers who warn me that being vocal would quickly get me “blackballed” in the district. This fact was even more evident when I was invited to a private screening of a new documentary entitled “Scapegoats.” The film uses teacher interviews to examine how teachers have historically been made to be the scapegoats with anything bad that occurs in education. While I was in total agreement with what was being said in the document, I was dismayed that more than half of the teachers interviewed opted to have their face (and voices) distorted so their administration would not retaliate against them.

“As I listened to teachers recall the atrocities that occur in public education, it was evident that these educational “pundits” and politicians have made it nearly impossible for teachers to exercise their first amendment rights. Teachers are terrified of voicing their opinions because many times it not only makes them a target but could possibly make them not get their contract renewed for the following year!

“Instead of forgetting my feelings and just chalking the film up to that how things are, I got angry.”

She adds:

“The truth is hidden while the public is made to believe that lies are the truth. Truth be told, the majority of teachers loathe the increased standardized testing in schools. Truth be told, the people who make policies about education don’t even have their kids enrolled in public schools. Truth be told, the people who run the school districts are usually not equipped with the pedagogy or experience to actually lead a classroom in 2013. Truth be told, federal programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are just programs to further destroy public education and allow private entities to take our tax dollars.”

And more:

“Despite the deafening silence, there are many educators who are getting angry and speaking up with no regard to the possible consequences. You have district administrators like John Kuhn who say “enough is enough” and write eloquent pieces like “Exhaustion of the American Teacher.”

“You have teachers who decided to make the film “The Inconvenient Truths Behind Waiting for Superman” and expose the policies that hurt our students.

“You have the teachers in Chicago and Oregon that courageously decided to strike to ensure that their voices would be heard.

“Times are changing, and I for one am glad. The truth is no longer being hidden by our deafening silence. There are more teacher in the world than people who might want to silence us. So speak, act, march, discuss and demand to be heard. Apparently, we might have the 14th Amendment on our side.”

Steve Zimmer is a member of the Los Angeles Unified School Board. He began his career in education with Teach for America, then stayed as a classroom teacher in Los Angeles for 17 years. When he ran for re-election, corporate reformers amassed a huge campaign chest to defeat him. He was outspent 4-1, but he won.

Zimmer is known as a thoughtful board member who cares about children, class size, and the quality of education for all children.

He posted the following on his Facebook page:

Friends,

It is less than 24 hours until Election Day.

I never imagined the right wing billionaires that tried to take me out of my school board seat in 2013 could donate more and distort the truth greater than they did against me. But that time has come. In tomorrow’s election for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the billionaires have outdone themselves, pouring over 11 million dollars into Charter School Operator Marshall Tuck’s campaign to unseat former teacher Tom Torlakson. This incredible cast of characters represents a who’s who of the corporate school privatization movement. Just take a look at who is on Marshall Tuck’s 500,000+ donor list. Each and every one of these donors has supported Republican campaigns, efforts to deregulate almost every major industry, gut workers rights and fight every sensible Obama initiative. And now several of the​m​ are among the largest donors to the Republican effort to take the U.S. Senate. Here are just a few:

Julian Robertson 1,000,000
Eli Broad $1,000,000
Michael Bloomberg $1,000,000
Bill Bloomfield $1,000,000
AliceWalton $1,000,000
Carrie Penner Walton $500,000
John Douglas Arnold $500,000

The billionaires have distorted Tom Torlakson’s moderate, successful record during his first term. They ignore the substantial improvements in all measurable areas throughout the state that have culminated in our first ever 80% statewide graduation rate. Because they mostly opposed Proposition 30, they want us forget that Tom Torlakson led they way towards rescuing our and fighting for all forms of local control. And in Marshall Tuck they have found the perfect private sector candidate. I’ve worked directly with Marshall. He is not a bad person and he is not trying to ruin our schools. But he fundamentally believes schools should be run as a business. He slashed classified jobs and promoted cut throat competition between schools as a charter school leader. As a candidate he has raised the ugly flag of demonizing teachers and has promised to drop t​he appeal of the Vergara lawsuit. He has also promised to force all California districts to have teacher evaluation systems directly linked to student’s standardized test scores.

We can’t let this happen. Tomorrow we have to show that public education in California is not for sale. Tomorrow we have to show that we can transform outcomes for students by working together not blaming those who have dedicated their lives to our schools. We can’t let these modern day​ robber​ barons steal this crucial election.

I ask you to do everything you can in the next 24 hours to turn out every progressive, every democrat, every person who care​s​ about our schools and every person who cares about democracy to vote for Tom Torlakson. The ultra rich controlling our democracy is not a new story. But the consequences if they are successful tomorrow will be unprecedented. I still believe we are more powerful than money. Let us all​,​ in California and throughout our nation, show the power of the people. Thank you for doing all you can.

Steve

The Network for Public Education has issued a BIG MONEY ALERT about efforts to swamp state and local school board races with outsize campaign contributions.

The ALERT focuses on a handful of races where corporate reformers are using their vast financial resources to win control. Many of the biggest donors are out-of-state and have no ties to the public schools other than a desire to promote charter schools, high-stakes testing, and test-based evaluations of teachers.

The race for state school superintendent in California has attracted the most corporate reform money. Marshall Tuck is the favorite of the billionaires and hedge fund managers. State superintendent Tom Torlakson is an educator with solid support among the state’s teachers and administrators. Torlakson is supported by teachers and their unions.

Tuck is the darling of the corporate ed-reform donors, having received such contributions as:

Eli Broad’s donation of $1,375,000;
Walton daughters and heirs, Alice and Carrie with $450,000 and $500,000 respectively;
Julian Robertson of the Robertson Foundation with $1,000,000;
Doris Fisher of the Donald and Doris Fisher Fund with $950,000;
Ex NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed $250,000;
Houston billionaire and DFER friend John Arnold;
San Francisco venture capitalist and TFA Board member Arthur Rock.

If you know of other races where the big corporate money people are tilting the scales, please contact Robin Hiller, executive director of the Network for Public Education rhiller@voicesforeducation.org, or leave a comment here.

Carol Burris, high school principal in Long Island, New York, writes here about the sudden shift in tone of the high-stakes testing cheerleaders.

 

Arne Duncan throws his support to the Beltway groups that say that there is too much testing and there should be less. Don’t believe it, writes Burris.

 

Of course, they hope to pacify and quiet the growing movement against high-stakes testing.

 

She writes:

 

Education Secretary Arne Duncan must believe that those “suburban moms” he talked about back in 2013 are an awfully gullible bunch. In response to continued pushback on testing, Duncan and the Council of Chief State School Officers are now saying that they, by golly, are against excessive standardized testing, too.

Duncan recently wrote an op-ed published in The Washington Post in which he expressed support for a statement issued by the Council of Chief State School Officers along with the Council of Great City Schools saying that it was time to rethink standardized testing.

Readers may recall how Duncan characterized pushback on the Common Core as coming from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were” when he addressed the State Chiefs last year. His disdainful dismissal of the genuine concern of parents fueled the already growing anti-testing movement.

 

 

And more:

 

So now Mr. Duncan and the Chief State School Officers need to convince parents that they are listening, too. Their strategy is to say that “we are only for good tests, not the bad tests, and we will make all the bad tests go away.” It is disturbing that they believe that parents would not see through the ruse.

Parents are not protesting weekly spelling quizzes. The tests they do not like are the very tests that Duncan and the Chiefs want to save. In his recent op-ed, Duncan refers to “high-quality tests” as ones for which, “the Education Department has provided $360 million dollars.” The money went to two multi-state consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced, designing new tests to align to the Common Core State Standards. All the while, both Duncan and the Chiefs were careful not to mention the Common Core in their statements. The Common Core is now their Voldermort–“he who cannot be named.” Instead they declare themselves the warriors of the bubble test, as though answering multiple-choice questions with a mouse is a game changer.

Perhaps the most bizarre declaration in favor of annual testing came from Louisiana’s Chief John White who said that it is “an absolutely essential element of assuring the civil rights of children in America.” Meanwhile, 40 of the 70 districts in White’s state are still under desegregation orders, having not achieved unitary status after more than 40 years. When the U.S. Justice Department sued Louisiana to block 2014-15 vouchers for students in schools under federal desegregation orders, John White characterized the order as “a little ridiculous.”. The heck with Brown v Board of Education—as long as kids have the civil right to be tested each year, social justice is served.

 

Imagine that! Kids don’t need desegregation, but testing is a “civil right”? Yes, he really said that.

 

Burris concludes that Duncan and the cheerleading Chiefs don’t believe in democratic control of schools. That’s why they love standardized testing. Teachers and principals can’t be trusted to do what is right for children.

 

And that really sums up the thinking of Duncan and his cheerleading Chiefs. Their distrust of public schools and the democratic control of schooling run deep. It colors every solution that they propose. They have no idea how to effect school improvement other than by making tests harder and making sticks bigger. When punishing the school did not work, it morphed into punish the teacher through evaluations based on test scores. The reality that no country has ever improved student learning using test and punish strategies is lost on those who refuse to address the greater social issues that we who do the work confront every day.
When one argues that testing 8-year-olds for nine hours is the way to give a child his civil rights, then moral authority is surely gone. The public knows it. Moms, of all colors and neighborhoods, are a heck of a lot smarter than Mr. Duncan and his reform supporters believe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laurel M. Sturt, education activist, explains here why she is voting for the Green Party this November. In New York, where she lives, the two major parties have become indistinguishable.

She writes:

“In the last decade, the Democratic party has become increasingly indistinct from the Republican, both parties in virtually impervious thrall to the siren of money. As exacerbated by the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court decisions, the–for all intents and purposes–wholesale prostitution of both parties to special interests has forced the true agenda of today’s elected officials into the light: the sacred civic duty supposedly embodied in a position called, after all, “public service,” has been exposed to be less motivational than the perks and influence inherent in a position of power. While we watch, haplessly marginalized on the sidelines of integrity, these unworthies blithely ply their incompetence–via obstructionism (McConnell), corruption (Rangel), or any number of ignominious affronts to decency, or democracy. This laser-focused drive to maintain a privileged position, moreover, comes with the most flagrant, arrogant dismissal of accountability. We came very close, after all, to electing a president with the hubris to trumpet the slogan “Country First” while simultaneously exposing us to the possibility of governance by Sarah Palin–and Rod Serling wasn’t even in the room when that decision was made! Indeed, her very choice as a running mate was a perfectly indicting metaphor for a system whose morality has gone AWOL, in a scenario increasingly where an elected official is not a bonafide public servant but simply playing one on tv. As such, our national script has abandoned the dignified legacy of John Adams, alas, in favor of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

“The convergence of the two political parties in a shared embrace to protect the power status quo–enabled by money overriding principle–has been nowhere more evident than in the attack on public education. No Child Left Behind, despite its feel-good soundbite of education as a civil right, has been revealed to be a privatizing agenda from conservatives not compassionate but impassioned, in fact, by the prospect of public dollars pouring into private coffers. Indeed, the tools for this, among them a pervasive culture of high-stakes testing, have had the added bonus of busting teacher unions, the last inhibition to fully exploiting the education cash cow, a trillion dollar business opportunity here and abroad. Yet far from coming to the rescue of public education, Obama and likeminded Democrats such as New York’s Governor Cuomo have taken up their own torch and pitchfork with alarming alacrity: Race to the Top, and its proponents, have seized on the malevolent premise–and promise–of NCLB, simply ramping it up with steroids. Between the Common Core and other elements designed to privatize a public good, our education system is on the verge of devastation; incredibly, both parties have proven to be equal opportunity plunderers not just of any resource but that most precious of all, our children, the very future of our nation. We could use a Patriot Act, alright, one expressly for education.”

Let’s face it. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t like public schools. He sneers at teachers. If he is re-elected, expect the attacks on public education and teachers to escalate.

Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils. In this race, there is no lesser.

Vote Green.

Governor Andrew Cuomo promised, in a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board, to “bust” the public school monopoly.

 

 

Vowing to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” Gov. Cuomo on Monday said he’ll push for a new round of teacher evaluation standards if re-elected.

Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

He said the key is to put “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”

Cuomo said he will push a plan that includes more incentives — and sanctions — that “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.”

Cuomo expects fierce opposition from the state’s teachers, who are already upset with him and have refused to endorse his re-election bid.

“The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”

 

Cuomo sounds more and more like Scott Walker of Wisconsin every day. Bust the unions. Humble the teachers. Crush public schools and introduce free market competition.

Carl Paladino, a multimillionaire in Buffalo who ran on the Republican ticket for governor against Andrew Cuomo in the last election, got elected to the Buffalo, New York, school board.

 

He supports charter schools. He also invests in them.  He makes money investing in charter schools. “If I didn’t, I’d be a frigging idiot,” he said.

 

Conflict of interest?

 

PS: Sorry to say that the Buffalo newspaper removed this story from the Internet, although it still appears on Google.

Thanks to Common Core and the federally-funded PARCC exams, children in Ohio schools will be tested 10 hours to demonstrate their proficiency or lack thereof. District superintendents say (as do parents and teachers and students), this is ridiculous!

 

While Arne Duncan is posting his benign views about testing–and how important it is to compare your child to children everywhere–in newspapers across the nation (so far, the same Duncan op-ed has appeared in the Washington Post, Newsday, and the Denver Post), those suffering under his test-centric, student-hostile regime are not happy about it.

 

Superintendent Jim Lloyd in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, said the amount of time required by PARCC testing was “an abomination.”

 

Avon Lake Superintendent Robert Scott agreed, saying that “the big bucks of testing companies, curriculum companies, and software companies” are clouding education debates with their own agendas.

 

He said: “High stakes testing is driven by a misunderstanding of how to motivate students and schools to achieve and/or maintain high academic results.”

 

Scott called the testing system a “(dis?)incentive program” that doesn’t help struggling schools and wastes the time of high-performing ones.”

 

Unlike Arne Duncan, who is not an educator and never taught, the district superintendents in Ohio recognize the disaster that Arne is now inflicting on the children of Ohio and the United States. Duncan will be remembered in the history books as a man who wrought harm on public education and the lives of children.

 

Joseph A. Ricciotti, a former professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, wrote the following post:

 

One of the most alarming reports concerning the corporate education reform movement and the growth of Common Core in the country was published by Lee Fang in the Nation magazine. Fang’s report highlights how public education is now considered as the last “honeypot” for venture capitalists and Wall Street investors. Investors’ interest in public education as a money making venture was made crystal clear by attendance at the recent annual investment conference in Scottsdale, Arizona which skyrocketed from 370 people the previous year to over 2000 this year. Likewise, the number of companies presenting at the conference increased from 70 to 390, mostly technology companies. It is also no surprise that Jeb Bush, one of the leading advocates of Common Core in the country, was the keynote speaker at the conference. According to Fang, venture capitalists and for-profit education firms “are salivating over the potential 788 billion dollar K-12 education market.”

More and more politicians are learning that, based on the type of corporate reform education policies that they are espousing, these policies will more than likely also impact and lessen their chances of reelection. Take, for example, Governor Dannel Malloy in Connecticut and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago, two Democrats who will be seeking reelection in the near future. Both of these political leaders have chosen to advocate typical corporate education reform policies that are basically anti-teacher in nature and have implemented education policies such as advocating charter schools over traditional public schools. Not surprisingly, we may be in for some stunning upsets in the upcoming elections.

In Connecticut, Governor Malloy chose Stefan Pryor as his Commissioner of Education who is not an educator and who has had a history as a charter school advocate. Hence, as a result, we have seen in Connecticut an unprecedented growth of Charter Schools over the past four years with dismal results as well as scandals involving some of their leaders. The appointment of Paul Vallas in Bridgeport as superintendent was another fiasco.

 

Pryor’s abrupt resignation with no appointment of a replacement in the cards until after the election does not bode well for any indication of change in Malloy’s corporate education policies. Moreover, Malloy may have dug himself into a hole based on the most recent poles and could face extinction come the November election.

Rahm Emmanuel’s actions in closing fifty of Chicago’s public schools has been the catalyst in generating numerous protests from parents and teachers. His battles with the head of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Karen Lewis, may have resulted in a challenge emanating from the CTU against Rahm Emmanuel for the mayoral seat in the next election. The many protests in Chicago are conveying a message to Rahm Emmanuel that, although he is the mayor, he is not really the leader of the people in Chicago as the protestors themselves are the real leaders. As Naomi Klein has said as an outgrowth of the recent climate change march in New York City, when the leaders refuse to take the appropriate action, the people will become the leaders and take whatever action is needed to bring about necessary change.

This is what is happening today with accountability- based reform or a better term is corporate education reform. These policies throughout the country and especially with the less affluent children in urban schools where the Common Core State Standards are being implemented we find that parents are seething with discontent as they observe and witness the massive failure rate of their children on Common Core tests. As more and more Common Core tests are administered with massive numbers of children failing these tests, there will be a revolution that may serve as the catalyst for change.

Unfortunately, teachers cannot be a part of the Common Core revolt as any dissatisfaction or criticism on their part could be construed as insubordination with possible loss of employment. Hence, the parents of students in public schools will have to be the ones leading the revolt. We have in public education today many non-educators with leadership positions who place the interests of Wall Street and the Corporate sector above the interests of students. And, unfortunately, the corporate reform industry has a stronghold in Connecticut as an outgrowth of Governor Malloy and Stefan Pryor’s corporate reform policies. However, according to Diane Ravitch, author of best selling “Reign of Error,” the corporate education reformists may have all the money but we have the teachers and parents and “we will win” the battle for public education.

Politico.com reports on the pending announcement of new federal regulations governing schools of education. Arne Duncan wants to drive the “bad” schools out of business. Did you know that was part of his job as Secretary of Education? The question is how he will determine which schools of education are “bad” schools. Will he grade these colleges by the test scores of students taught by graduates of schools of education? That will certainly make the stakes even higher for high-stakes testing. Oh, and did you hear that Duncan is modifying his fervent support for testing. But does he mean it? Watch for the regulations governing schools of education.

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