Archives for category: Humor

A reader called NY Teacher sent the following comment:

“Welcome to Parody Central. They almost make this too easy.

“My apologies to Mr. Zimmerman:

“Must Be Bubbled-In” (Blowin in the Wind)

How many tests must a child withstand
Before we can kill this scam?
How many years will we need to resist?
With so many heads in the sand?
Yes, how many tests must our children endure?
Before test-and-punish is banned?
Right answers my friend, must be bubbled-in
Right answers again and again.

Yes, how many years can Arne still test?
Before he ends up like Rhee?
Yes, how many years can he still insist?
Before even Bill disagrees?
Yes, how many times can Congress turn its head?
Pretending they just cannot see?
Right answers my friend, must be bubbled-in
Right answers again and again.

Yes, how many tests must a child still take?
Before we really know why?
Yes, how many doubts must one nation have?
Before we can hear children cry?
Yes, how many fails will it take till we know
That too many people have lied?
Right answers my friend, must be bubbled-in
Right answers again and again

And if you’re a Paul Simon fan:

When we look back at
All the crap they taught in pre-school
It’s a wonder
Kids can think at all
This lack of rigor in education
Has hurt them some
Why can’t they close-read the writing on the wall

Common – Core- ore-ore
It ‘em gives questions full rigor
Marches to just one drummer
Makes them know all the world’s a gritty day
I got a Coleman standard
Love to give a Pearson test
So Ravitch don’t take our Common Core away
So Ravitch don’t take our Common Core away
So Ravitch don’t take our Common Core away
If you took all the teachers we knew
Back in high school
And brought them all together for one night
We know they’d couldn’t match
Arne’s weak imagination
Everything looks worse in black and white

A little Neil?

The Testing and the Damage Done

We caught you knockin’
at our classroom doors
You test our babies,
with your Common Core
Ooh, ooh, the damage done.

You hit the cities
all across the land
We watched you testing
with your voodoo VAM
Wrong, wrong, the damage done.

We sing the song
because we hate your plan
We know that none
of you can understand
W h y k i d s
keep on, op-ting out.

I’ve seen the testing
and the damage done
We want no part of it for anyone
But now reform is
like a settin’ sun.”

Our blog poet, who signs as SomeDam Poet, contributed these words of wisdom:


Hail Arne
Full of Gates
The Core is with thee
Mes-sed art thou among Reformers
And mes-sed is the fruit of thy room, RTTT


Our Coleman
Who aren’t an educator
Hollow be they claim
Thy King-dom come,
Thy will be dumb,
In NY as it is in Washington
Spare us this Core our daily bore,
and forgive us our testpasses,
as we forgive those who testpass in charters ;
and lead us not into DAM nation,
but deliver us from Common Core.



William Sanders, a pioneer in the early implementation of value-added measurement in Tennessee, was an agricultural statistician when he realized that children could be measured in their test score growth like cattle or corn, and that teachers could be held responsible for that growth in test scores from year to year. His TVASS system was adopted by Tennessee in 1993. If it worked as its proponents devoutly believe, Tennessee should be #1 in the nation in test scores by now. It is not. It is not even close.


Our blog poet, who calls him/herself “SomeDam Poet,” wrote the following ode to Professor Sanders:


“If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” — Isaac Newton, who invented differential calculus and wrote down what are now known as Newton’s Laws of Motion


“If I have seen fodder, it is by standing on the horns of cattle” — William Sanders, who first applied VAM for cattle to teachers and wrote down Sanders’ Laws of Self-promotion and teacher demotion

Richard Ham, a third grade teacher in Poulsbo, Washington, wrote the following dystopian science fiction (education fiction?) about the aftermath of the Presidential election of 2028. It is frightening and hilarious.



April 17, 2028
The Associated Press
The American public education reform wars are finally over. President Arne Duncan took the oath of office in January as this nation’s 49th president and in his inauguration speech he praised the efforts over the past 30 years of big business, corporate testing corporations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and all the others responsible for what, in his words, amounted to a “cleansing of wishy-washy liberal teaching practices, unionism as an obstructive force in public schools and of incompetent, overpaid public school teachers doing great and terrible damage to this fine Nation’s school children.” He pledged that his newly appointed Secretary of Education, Michelle Rhee, will finish the job started so long ago and fine-tune and perfect the few rough spots that remain in bringing “rational public and pedagogical policy-making” into American classrooms.
In this spirit Secretary Rhee held a major press conference to herald the completion of the reform movement’s final masterpiece of high-stakes testing and accountability. The Secretary proudly presented the Pearson Corporation’s new third grade test as an example of this brave new world that American education has entered. Below is the third grade test, titled the SimBA, in its entirety.
The SimBA
*Common Core Corporate Standards
MATHEMATICS: The Reimann Hypothesis dealing with prime numbers is one of the unsolved Millennium Prize problems, first posited over 150 years ago and as yet unsolved despite the best efforts of some of this past century’s finest mathematical minds. You are not expected to prove or disprove this hypothesis per se, but nevertheless do establish the initial parameters of the structure of such a proof (or disproof). Construct such parameters with enough mathematical sufficiency so that the next three steps in such an analysis can be logically and empirically demonstrated. Then do both of your multiplication and division facts in a 2-minute timing for each.
Time: 25 minutes
MUSIC: Write a concerto for a 4-piece chamber string quartet. Provide a final, clean copy of the sheet music for your composition, free from any stray notational errors. Finally, perform your composition in real time in front of a live audience.
Time: 40 minutes for composition; 10 minutes for performance
ART: Develop a new school of art, melding both traditional and modern elements using multi-media in such a design paradigm. Create at least three examples from your new art school, and host a gallery showing of your creations.
Time: 20 minutes for creation of new art form; 15 minutes for creation of examples; 10 minutes for gallery showing
[Break: 23 minutes total; 3 minutes for potty visit, 5 minutes for snack, 15 minutes for recess]
HISTORY: The Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana is famously credited with saying that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In a 20-25 page essay argue either pro or con for this thesis, citing at least three eras in both ancient and modern history where this proposition can be proven to be either true or false. Note: The essay is to contain appropriate cites in standard citation form.
Time: 20 minutes
READING: Read Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the complete works of William Shakespeare. Then write a report comparing and contrasting how the authors handle the structural themes of tragedy and comedy in their respective works.
Time: 40 minutes
WRITING: Write a novella of no more than 80 pages from any of the following genres: mystery, general fiction, Western, historical, romance or fairy tale. Extra credit will be given if you also write a play in the dramatic tragedy tradition of ancient Greece (see the works of Aeschylus or Euripides for guidance in how this might be done).
Time: 25 minutes
SCIENCE: Sketch a timeline of the history of the quantum dynamic elements of the universe from the inception of the Big Bang until the present day era. Extra credit will be given if you can provide correlational elements of such a quantum history with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, especially noting how gravity unites both the quantum and relativistic worlds. Further extra credit will be given if you build a table-sized cyclotron to test your hypothesis using yellowcake uranium. Such yellowcake uranium is available from the Atomic Energy Commission for a small fee; please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery before the testing date.
Time: 20 minutes

Congratulations! Your testing for this year is over. Please go to lunch. And have a great day!

One of the very best education blogs is EduShyster. When I first read it, I fell in love with her humor, wit, tone, and deep intelligence. My blog is three years old, and so is hers.

For the third birthday of her blog, she decided to describe the origin and life of her blog and how it changed her.

It is one of her very best posts, and I urge you to read it.

As you may or may not know, EduShyster began as an anonymous blogger. There was much speculation about who she (or he) was. Eventually we learned that she is Jennifer Berkshire. When she unmasked herself (and she explains why in this post), the tone of her column changed. But she has always had that great sense of humor.

EduShyster may well have changed the debate about charter schools in Massachusetts. She turns out to be a smart investigative journalist.

I have often thought that one of the reason we (the supporters of public schools) will defeat corporate reform (aside from its repeated flops whenever it is actually implemented) is that we have great humorists like EduShyster and Peter Greene. Once a movement becomes an object of ridicule, it is over. And when our Jonathan Swifts do their work without pay, while theirs are well-paid and amply funded, you know who has real passion, commitment, and staying power.

Read it and laugh.

Then ask yourself why the writers at the Onion are so much smarter than every major newspaper, TV channel, and other mainstream media.

Have you heard complaints about the validity of Pearson tests? Have you heard complaints that test questions may have more one correct answer?

If so, listen to the other side as “The Bald Piano Guy” Defends Pearson.

(Joke. Laugh. Humor conquers all.)

Blogger “Lace to the Top” (aka Kevin Glynn) has written a witty parody of life in the age of school reform, as seen by a principal, a parent, and a leader of the Opt Out movement. Glynn is the founder of Lace to the Top, which distributes green laces to members of the resistance.


If you don’t know the names of the people mentioned in the parody, they are all (except me) leaders of New York Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), which led the historic opt out movement in New York.


In his parody, most are taken away to jail, deported to other countries, or fined for their insubordination. Carol Burris, the Long Island principal who consistently wrote and spoke against high-takes testing and the Common Core, was fined $100,000 for every article she published on Valerie Strauss’s blog “The Answer Sheet” on the Washington Post website; Valerie Strauss was sentenced to write about alien sightings for the National Enquirer.


The number of arrested teachers tells the story of just how damaged the education system in New York was. On Long Island, 70% of the teaching force was fired for their ties to social media groups such as Long Island Opt Out, Lace to the Top, and NYSAPE to name a few.


Activity in these groups was deemed unlawful by the recently passed bipartisan bill, “Save Schools from Parents Act.” This bill will guarantee every child will be assessed and eliminate the agendas of negative social media groups that attempt to promote activities that are ruled to be “dangerous to the ideals and beliefs of the American people.” Any families that join these groups or “friend” members of said groups are considered a “threat” to the children in American schools.


New charter schools will be created for the children of identified families. One of the interview questions officials have shared will be “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Green Lacer party?”


Teach for America has decided to reduce the time required for students to be certified to 45 minutes in order to fill the enormous number of vacancies left by the teachers who refused to obey the directives of the State Education Department.

What happens if a tornado or a severe storm disrupts the calm atmosphere needed to administer tests? What if a tsunami strikes without warning? The possibilities are numerous and frightening.

Fortunately someone has thought about this problem and established protocols. Please share these rules with teachers, administrators, and students.

The poem below was written by Holly White, an English teacher and parent. I asked her to explain why she wrote it, and she did. Oh, when you read the poem, you will come to the acronym HEDI, which means “highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective,” the ratings given to teachers based on test scores and observations.


Holly White writes:


“After graduating from Colgate University in the small town of Hamilton, NY, I was given the opportunity to stay in Hamilton and pursue my career as an English teacher. I have taught at HCS, the community’s P-12 public school, for 14 years. I’m proud of our creative and talented students, of our incredibly dedicated faculty and staff, and of the broader Hamilton community that supports us.


“As a teacher, and as a parent with two children in elementary school, corporate education reform is often on my mind, especially during testing season. One evening in early March, I was reading a few Dr. Seuss books to my children. I paused in the middle of the book “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” after reading the following passage:


Out west, near Hawtch-Hawtch,
there’s a Hawtch-Hawtcher Bee-Watcher.
His job is to watch…
is to keep both his eyes on the lazy town bee.
A bee that is watched will work harder, you see.


Well…he watched and he watched.
But, in spite of his watch,
that bee didn’t work any harder. Not mawtch.


So then somebody said,
“Our old bee-watching man
just isn’t bee-watching as hard as he can.
He ought to be watched by another Hawtch-Hawtcher!
The thing that we need
is a Bee-Watcher-Watcher!


“After tucking my kids into bed, I still couldn’t shake the image of the Hawtch-Hawtchers lining up to watch the “lazy town bee.” I pulled out my laptop and–attempting to channel Seuss’s use of verbal irony and absurdity–wrote for the next four hours.”


A Portrait of Education Reform, Inspired by Dr. Seuss


We said students would be proficient, all 100 percent!


But the year 2014, it came and it went…
There’d been little improvement after 12 years of tests,


So we searched till we found the most “rigorous” ones yet.


What those teachers must need is more accountability,


Then they’ll surely work harder, every he and each she.


As soon as they hear about APPR,


They’ll take their feet off their desks, make their lessons five-star,


And strive to earn back the public’s trust


(A tough task, since they’ve been treated with scorn and disgust).


Once they know that we’re watching, and changing cut scores,


And counting all the 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s,


They’ll teach and they’ll prep and they’ll drill for the test,


They’ll strive for a HEDI score that shows they’re the best,


They’ll cut back on art, science, creative writing


(The things they say students find most exciting).


They’ll overcome all of those pitiful excuses:


Poverty? Absenteeism? Hunger? Abuses?


Learning disabilities? Disobedient teens?


And kids who don’t read, but just stare at their screens?


Each student is different, learns at his own pace?


What’s that you say – learning isn’t a race?


No more excuses! With 40 minutes a day,


They can mold kids and shape them in every which way


(They can start in first grade, which is no place for play).


And all the while, schools’ funding will slow,


Because the harder we make things, the better they’ll go.


Each student will succeed, a year’s worth they’ll grow,


They’ll all factor trinomials and use “soak-a-toe”


If their teacher works hard like a real go-getter,


If she only works harder and faster and better…

But here I must pause in this poetic pretense,


(It’s been hard not to laugh while spouting nonsense).


Silly teachers, good luck being “highly effective,”


The system’s designed to say you’re flawed and defective.


The problem is, as by now you can probably tell,


Who’d want “reforms” if they knew teachers were doing well?


That just like most doctors, nurses, and crossing guards,


Most teachers are competent and already work hard.


What would happen to Pearson, McGraw, hedge fund investors,
Charter schools, EMOs, boards of directors?


Education’s a great source of new revenue,


The possibilities abound, and profits accrue.


But please, keep this between us; no one else needs to know.


As long as no one speaks up, then onward we’ll go…


by Holly White, HCS teacher


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