Archives for category: Georgia

Following the allegations of widespread cheating, the Atlanta Board of Education needs new members and independent thinking. The person who fits the bill is Edward Johnson. I have never met him but I have read many of his emails in which he made sense. He understands that school closings are harmful to the community. He understands the necessity for collaboration, not competition.

Here is a good description of the man and what he believes in.

I urge you to vote for Edward Johnson for school board in Atlanta.

I posted before that four TFA alums are running for the Atlanta school board. This seems to be the TFA long-term plan, as Wendy Kopp has often stated: to build a cadre of leaders with a strong network of funders across the nation.

We know what this has meant in Louisiana, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, where TFA-trained leaders have fought for privatization, high-stakes testing, test-based teacher evaluation, and merit pay.

Here is an Atlanta article about what lies ahead if TFA alums constitute a solid bloc on the board and are close to controlling it. It is interesting that some of the candidates do not acknowledge their TFA connection.

The article describes a little-known offshoot of TFA called “Leadership for Educational Equity” (LEE). This appears to be the political action arm of TFA, spinning off groups like “Families Empowered” and “Mississippi First,” both of which advocate for privately managed charter schools. LEE is not transparent. Only members can access its website.

You can see why the far-right, anti-union Walton Family Foundation gave TFA $50 million, and why it is the favorite charity of major corporations. It is a training ground for the privatization movement.

Especially interesting in this article is the analysis by Julian Vasquez Heilig, who has studied the effects of TFA in the classroom.

The following is a quote from the article:


“Overall, the four are a largely pro-charter school group. If all four are elected, TFA alumni will constitute a near-majority voting bloc on the BOE.

So, what does this mean for APS, and how might a TFA voting bloc impact educational policy for APS teachers, parents, students, and other stakeholders?

“The first thing is, it’s not surprising you have so many TFA alum running for the School Board.
TFA alums are everywhere but the classroom. Their turnover rate, after three or four years, is around eighty percent,” Julian Vasquez Heilig, an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning at the University of Texas at Austin, and author of the Cloaking Inequality blog, told Atlanta Progressive News.

“It’s a revolving door of temporary labor. It [TFA] perpetuates inequality in teacher quality,” he said.

“It empowers districts to continue a revolving of rookie teachers. What TFA will argue is their five weeks of training in the summer is adequate for their teachers,” he said.

“In recent years, they’ve aligned themselves with the corporate reformer movement. That means vouchers, charter schools, parent trigger, anti-union,” he said.

“You see the Teach for America alum leading out in this movement to corporatize education. What that means, take education out of the public space. They [charter schools] are no longer democratically controlled,” he said.

“What TFA has done over the last few years, is aligned themselves with a variety of faces in the reform movement that are taking democratic control away from communities, and they seek to privatize many functions,” he said.

“The voters have to decide if they like what TFA is selling. If the public is happy with the temporary tourist approach to education, then they’re the right choice,” he said.


I received the following letter, addressed to the Georgia School Board.

Dear Diane,

I know that you do not support the Common Core State Standards, but I also know that you are willing to consider other points of view. Pasted down below is the text of a letter I have written to the Georgia School Board as they reconsider the CCSS at the request of the governor. The letter is also posted at the Mathematics Teaching Community here:

It would be great if you would post this on your blog! Thanks, Sybilla

Dear School Board Members:

I have been teaching mathematics at the University of Georgia for over 25 years and have devoted a large part of my career to issues of K–12 mathematics education. As a mathematics teacher, I am concerned about my profession and about the mathematics learning of students in Georgia. In that capacity, I am writing with comments, which I hope you will consider as you review the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M).

The CCSS-M are the strongest K–12 mathematics standards that I know of.

At the invitation of state superintendents, I have worked on a number of states’ mathematics standards, including Georgia’s and Texas’s. No standards I know of are better than the CCSS-M.

The CCSS-M were developed very carefully with repeated cycles of feedback.

The CCSS-M were informed by previous standards, including Georgia’s, with repeated, extensive input from mathematics education experts who are recognized nationally, and with input from states. The standards were informed by the best available research, including research about mathematics learning summarized in National Research Council reports. I know this because I was an active member of the CCSS-M writing team.

Serious professions deserve standards that are developed nationally.

I think that mathematics teaching is a serious and important profession on par with medical professions, for example. We expect standards for medical practice to be developed nationally by experts based on the available research. Why would we expect something different for mathematics teaching?

The presidents of all the major national mathematical societies have expressed “strong support” for CCSS-M.

This includes the presidents of the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and all the members of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences.

Having standards does not imply losing autonomy or creativity.

Some of the most creative contributions to art, music, and literature, occur within a framework. Mathematics itself operates within a framework and is full of brilliantly creative results. The CCSS-M allow for creativity and autonomy within a framework.

The CCSS-M need time and support to implement.

Right now, mathematics teaching and learning (at all levels) are not as strong as they should be. The CCSS-M can help us focus on where we need to go. Implementing them will require time, learning, and collective effort. Let’s use the standards we have and work together to make mathematics teaching and learning in Georgia strong and vibrant.

A copy of this letter is posted at the Mathematics Teaching Community, online at

where teachers of mathematics (any level) may post comments.


Sybilla Beckmann
Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics
Boyd Graduate Studies Building
200 D. W. Brooks Drive
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia 30602

Teach for America has always said that its long-term goal
was to train future leaders who would take a significant role in
shaping education policy. That is happening. Such alumni as
Michelle Rhee, Kevin Huffman (state commissioner in Tennessee),
John White (state commissioner in Louisiana), and Eric Guckian
(education advisor to the extremist Governor of North Carolina) are
using their power to promote privatization of public education and
to attack the teaching profession. In Atlanta, four
TFA alumni are running for school board
and have a good
chance of winning. “Incumbent Courtney English (at-large Seat 7) is
a TFA alum. So is Matt Westmoreland, who is running unopposed for
the District 3 seat being vacated by Cecily Harsch-Kinnane. “So is
Eshe Collins, who is running for the District 6 seat being vacated
by Yolanda Johnson; as well as Jason Esteves, who is running for
the at-large Seat 9 being vacated by Emmett Johnson. However,
neither Collins nor Esteves mention TFA in their extensive campaign
biographies which appear on their respective websites. “Overall,
the four are a largely pro-charter school group. If all four are
elected, TFA alumni will constitute a near-majority voting bloc on
the BOE.” The linked article suggests that the four will advance a
pro-privatization agenda. At some point, TFA will be recognized as
a crucial cog in the rightwing effort to destroy public education
and dismantle the teaching profession.

A few days ago, Georgia announced that it was dropping out of PARCC, the Common Core testing consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Education. State officials said the state could not afford the technology or the cost.

The U.S. Department of Education was swift to respond. It wrote Georgia to warn that it is withholding $10 million from the state’s Race to the Top funding. Maybe the timing was a coincidence. Maybe not.

The state says it needs more time to fix its educator evaluation system before it can be implemented, but the Feds insist that Georgia must start evaluating teachers and principals based on test scores without further delay.

Now for a dose of reality. Research does not support any part of Race to the Top. Research shows that tying educator evaluations to test scores produces narrowing the curriculum, gaming the system, teaching to the test, cheating, and score inflation. The most “effective” teachers teach the most affluent students in the most affluent schools. The least “effective” teach the poorest. Research shows that over 100 years of trying, merit pay has Never worked. Teachers are doing the best they know how; they are not holding back and hoping for a bonus or a biscuit.

Race to the Top will someday be remembered in the history books as a Grand Detour, when ideologues gained control of federal policy and used an economic crisis to dangle money in front of the states so they would agree to implement failed policies.

All of this will change, but not until there is wiser leadership in Washington, wise enough to banish Race to the Top and recover a common sense approach to education reform based on what children and schools need, not what misguided politicians demand.

The U.S. Department of Education is prohibited by law from interfering in curriculum, but Secretary Duncan was itching to get the Common Core standards adopted. First, he said that states would not be eligible for a share of $5 billion in federal stimulus funds unless they adopted common college-and-career-readiness standards. Wink, wink, almost every state agreed to adopt the Common Core.

Then the Secretary awarded $350 million to two consortia for the purpose of developing tests of the Common Core (which of course he had nothing to do with).

Last, he offered waivers from the absurd requirements of NCLB but only for states that went along with Common Core.

Not so fast: some parents are in revolt against the deluged testing, and some states don’t have the technology and can’t pay the heavy costs.

Georgia just dropped out of the PARCC consortium. Below are the stated reasons:

July 22, 2013 – State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge and Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Georgia is withdrawing from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test development consortium.

Instead, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) will work with educators across the state to create standardized tests aligned to Georgia’s current academic standards in mathematics and English language arts for elementary, middle and high school students. Additionally, Georgia will seek opportunities to collaborate with other states.

Creating the tests in Georgia will ensure that the state maintains control over its academic standards and student testing, whereas a common assessment would have prevented GaDOE from being able to adjust and rewrite Georgia’s standards when educators indicate revisions are needed to best serve students.

“After talking with district superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents, lawmakers and members of many communities, I believe this is the best decision for Georgia’s students,” Superintendent Barge said. “We must ensure that our assessments provide educators with critical information about student learning and contribute to the work of improving educational opportunities for every student.”

Georgia was one of 22 states to join PARCC several years ago with the aim of developing next generation student assessments in mathematics and English language arts by 2014-15.

“Assessing our students’ academic performance remains a critical need to ensure that young Georgians can compete on equal footing with their peers throughout the country,” Gov. Deal said. “Georgia can create an equally rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test. Just as we do in all other branches of state government, we can create better value for taxpayers while maintaining the same level of quality.”

Superintendent Barge was one of the state school chiefs serving on the governing board for the consortium, but he frequently voiced concerns about the cost of the PARCC assessments. The PARCC assessments in English language arts and math are estimated to cost significantly more money than Georgia currently spends on its entire testing program.

Superintendent Barge also expressed concerns over the technology requirements for PARCC’s online tests. Many Georgia school districts do not have the needed equipment or bandwidth to handle administering the PARCC assessments.

As GaDOE begins to build new assessments, please note that our Georgia assessments:
· will be aligned to the math and English language arts state standards;
· will be high-quality and rigorous;
· will be developed for students in grades 3 through 8 and high school;
· will be reviewed by Georgia teachers;
· will require less time to administer than the PARCC assessments;
· will be offered in both computer- and paper-based formats; and
· will include a variety of item types, such as performance-based and multiple-choice items.

“We are grateful to Georgia educators who have worked hard to help develop our standards and assessments,” Superintendent Barge said. “We look forward to continuing to work with them to develop a new assessment system for our state.”

Matt Cardoza
Director of Communications
Georgia Department of Education
2062 Twin Towers East
205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 651-7358

Follow us on Twitter: @gadoenews and @drjohnbarge
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“Making Education Work for All Georgians”

In a recent post, I criticized Alabama for setting goals based on race, ethnicity, and disability status. I said it was unAmerican. Our goal as a society is equality of educational opportunity. There is something repulsive, to me at least, in saying that schools will set targets based on the color of children’s skin, their parents’ income, or other factors. We know that not all kids will end up at the same point by the end of each year, but we should not predetermine what we expect. I think the goal should be to treat each child as a unique human being and be sure they have the opportunity and resources they need to get a sound education.

But I must apologize to Alabama. Other states have similar race-based, ethnicity-based, disability-based goals.

Apparently they do this to satisfy the requirements of the federal government, either NCLB or the Obama waivers.

Why is the government setting targets for test scores? A standardized test should be used–if at all–diagnostically, to identify what kind of extra help students need. Instead, states are trapped in stale NCLB thinking. It hasn’t worked for 12 years. Why expect that tinkering will fix what is inherently wrong?

Stop measuring with a broken stick. Standardized tests are one indicator. Turning them into the be-all and end-all of schooling is wrong. It corrupts education. It causes otherwise thoughtful people to expect more of the tests than they can deliver. We need better goals than test scores. By relying on them so much, we sacrifice qualities that matter far more and debase schooling.

This is accountability run amok. This is the kind of policy that should be openly discussed and debated. We cannot allow it to be institutionalized and made permanent. It is an embarrassment to our democracy.

A reader comments from Georgia:

“Mr. Norreese Haynes and I of the Metro Association of Classroom Educators (MACE) here in Georgia are putting together a book that we have written, decrying the fact that the Socialistic Left and the Capitalistic Right have joined together to take the teaching profession hostage. Classroom Educators are used as Levitical scapegoats for all of the ills in public education. But, at MACE we know that you can’t have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.

We are now putting up one chapter per day for the month of July. MACE is beginning its 19th year here in Georgia, and our message has not changed one scintilla. Teachers don’t give a rat’s ass about tote bags and spelling bee contests. They want protection and empowerment. They want to be freed up to do their jobs! They want to be creative, and they want the snoopervisors to leave them alone.

The incompetent, petty, angry, and abusive administrators have ruined public education, and now they are supported and emboldened by the likes of Arne Duncan, Bill and Melinda Gates, Eli and Edyth Broad, the Walton Foundation, the Pearson companies, ALEC, etc. A union has to kick ass for teachers! I tip my hat to BAT!

I am Dr. John Trotter, and I approve this message! Ha!”;

Despite the massive scandal in Atlanta, which many attribute to the hyper-pressure attached to testing and scores, the frenzy continues.

I just received this story from Edward Johnson, a persistent critic of short-term thinking in Atlanta:

“CRCT Pep Rally at Thomasville Heights Elementary_

April 30, 2013 at 9:26 pm


On April 22, 2013, a day before the CRCT, Thomasville turned up
their school spirit to motivate students as they prepared to take the CRCT. Pep
rallies are not uncommon before the CRCT, but Thomasville Heights took it
to another level this year. For starters, teachers creatively decorated 5
panels in front of the school with catchy slogans and imagery about the
upcoming CRCT. Throughout the month, student also heard daily test taking
strategies during the morning announcements as well as “CRCT Jams” (songs about
the CRCT). This helped to get students excited about the exam and more
importantly keep their minds fresh on the challenge at hand. There was also an
entire week dedicated to the CRCT where students dressed up based on a
different theme each day, to show their confidence in passing and exceeding on
the test. Last – but definitely not the least, Thomasville Heights put
together a concert/pep rally outside of the school, stadium style! The
wonderful Lil Bankhead of V-103 hosted the entire event, introducing the featured
performers, QT Jazz, Shameik Moore, Baby D and Young Sneed. Of course the
talented Thomasville Steppers graced the stage followed by performers from
various grade levels that shared their very own chants and songs – all in
honor of the CRCT. “We love our principal and teachers…we know how important
the CRCT is and we’re going to make them proud…” says an excited 4th grade
student, Tamia Shepherd.

Watch out APS, Thomasville Heights Elementary School is SUPER COUGAR

See it for yourself on the Thomasville Heights YouTube Channel :

This article asks the obvious question:

Why does Atlanta’s disgraced superintendent Beverly Hall face serious jail time for the cheating that happened on her watch–which she ignored or encouraged by demanding higher test scores–while Michelle Rhee continues to fly from state to state, urging legislatures to follow the DC model?

The article says that Rhee emerged–so far–unscathed because she has friends in high places.

As for the DC model, let us not forget that John Merrow documented that the DC schools are in worse shape now than they were in 2007:

He wrote to the Education Writers Association, introducing his post about the leaked memo:

“I am also reporting that, after five years of Rhee/Henderson, the DC schools are worse off by almost every conceivable measure: graduation rates, truancy, enrollment, test scores, black-white gap and teacher and principal turnover.”


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