Archives for category: Humor

If you have an eye for quackery, as Peter Greene does, you will never run out of material in the world of reform tomfoolery.

In this post, Greene has fun with TNTP’s brilliant new way to identify better teachers: multiple-choice test. I kid you not.

TNTP used to be called The Néw Teacher Project. According to legend, it was founded by Michelle Rhee, although partisans of Wendy Kopp say it was her idea and she asked Michelle to do it. I really don’t know. Maybe someone who was there can let us in on the true story.

So Greene discovers that TNTP has this idea that a multiple-choice test can do what nano human can do. Identify a future talented teacher. He runs with it.

Matt Farmer, a lawyer and public school activist in Chicago, wrote a brilliant satire of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top. You may recognize Matt Farmer as the brilliant litigator who cross-examined and tried billionaire Penny Pritzker in absentia. At the time, Pritzker was a member of the Chicago Board of Education, merrily cutting services for the children in public schools while raising money for a glorious library at her children’s private school. Last year, President Obama appointed Pritzker as Secretary of Commerce. She was a major Obama fund-raiser.

In this new post, Farmer tells us that Arne Duncan has discovered that American kids spend too much time eating lunch.

Other countries spend less time in the lunchroom, he says gravely. We must beat the international competition!

Farmer writes:

“Secretary Arne Duncan’s April 15, 2014, remarks to employees and diners at the National Place food court in Washington.

Today we cross an important threshold in school cafeteria reform by releasing draft guidelines for states to apply for the $3.6 billion dollar Graze to the Top fund. We gather here today at Washington D.C.’s National Place food court to announce – and celebrate — a new Graze to the Top in schoolhouses across America.

For too many years, our nation’s public school students have been trapped for nearly 20 minutes a day in under-performing school cafeterias. Simply put, kids are spending too much time in lunchrooms and not enough time in classrooms. In today’s global economy, a country that eats lunch in less time than America will out-compete us.

And what we now know from international assessments is that students in countries such as Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic spend far less time eating school lunches than do their U.S. peers.”

Surely, spoiled suburban moms will complain. But don’t listen to them. We can’t afford to waste another minute!

“Save, save the minutes!” You have to be a historian of American education to recognize that this phrase was associated with the early 19th century Lancastrian movement, the first effort to standardize education for the children of the poor so that it would be cost-effective. Arne Duncan, the Joseph Lancaster of the 21st century.

Deborah Meier brought to my attention this series of workbooks that contain 180 days of Common Core worksheets in math and English. What a relief for anxious teachers! No more worrying about what to do. Here are the daily activities you need. No more planning or thinking. A standard a day keeps the evaluator away! Not only problems, but answers too!

From: “Emily Self, Great Educators”
Subject: 180 Days of Common Core Worksheets: Math and ELA Available
Date: February 2, 2014 9:50:09 AM EST
Reply-To: “Emily Self, Great Educators”

Common Core State Standards:
Language Arts and Math Bellringers
Second Editions released for school year 2013-2014
- Are you stressed about the common core standards?
- Do you want to expose your students to the common cores now or wait until the last minute?
CCSS: Bellringers – Includes 180 days of worksheets!
We’ve released the second edition of our CCSS Math and ELA Bellringer sets. These new editions include at least 180 days of worksheets – enough for every single day of the school year!

Kindergarten through High School Available Now

Expose your students to every language arts or math common core standard for their grade. These bellringers are short 5-minute quizzes/lessons that will walk your students through each standard.

Bulk Order Discount: Order three or more sets and get 10% off!

The Math bellringers focus on one standard a day and include examples (with the correct answer) to help your students understand the type of question tested under that standard. The bellringers also include 2-3 additional questions for your students to work through on their own.

The language arts bellringers include 3 sections: Reading (literature, informational text, and foundational skills), Writing, and Language.

The Writing and Language bellringers focus on one standard a day and include an example (with the correct answer) to help your students understand the type of question tested under that standard. The bellringers also include 2-3 additional questions for your students to work through on their own.

The Reading bellringers include (per week) a story followed by 3-4 days’ worth of questions. The reading section includes reading: literature and reading: informational text.

Get more information here>>
To order with a PO, click here>>
$100 per grade for Math a nd $100 per grade for ELA; includes access to two PDF files per set (one is the teacher book and other is the student book) and full rights to print, copy, and/or project as needed in your classroom.

It isn’t too early to start working with the common cores in your classroom and school for the upcoming transition. Our bellringers will allow you to expose your students to each and every standard for their grade – no research or searching for appropriate questions. Use these ready-made lessons to review the standards now!

With the common core standards just around the corner, many teachers are stressed and unsure about how the new standards will affect their classroom and curriculum. Don’t be stressed; Use these bellringers to prep your students!
Bellringer Information: Now includes 180 worksheets!
What’s Included? We have studied the common core standards and created bellringers to test each standard up to three times. Each day, your students will work through a bellringer by first examining a sample question and answer and then working through several problems on their own. We’ve included a place for the student to write notes or reminders about that type of question.

Sample of student edition language>>

Sample of student edition writing>>

Sample of student edition reading>>

Sample of student edition math>>

The teacher’s edition includes the actual common core standard of the day taken directly off the common core website – no guessing or researching required! Also, we’ve provided all correct answers to all questions in the teacher’s edition.

Sample of teacher edition language>>

Sample of teacher edition math>>

What do I get with my purchase? With each purchase, you will receive access to two PDF files – one is the teacher version and the other is the student version. You will have full rights to print, copy, and/or project as needed within your classroom. If you or your school would prefer printed copies , please respond to this email for an appropriate quote.
Great Educators
Mailing: PO Box 4187, Waynesville, MO 65583
Phone: 573-336-3372
Fax: 866-317-2749
Why Use Bellringers?
1. They expose your students to each and every standard.

We’ve represented each and every math and ELA standard in these bellringers. No holes – no missing information! Be assured that your students will be exposed to all standards across the board.

2. We’ve done the research for you.

Use your time on something else – we’ve put together a comprehensive resource that will assist your classroom’s transition to CCS.

3. They are 100% applicable to your grade level.

Do you know what’s changing for your grade in the upcoming transition? These bellringers only cover the standards for your grade level – take the guesswork out of the equation.

4. They are quick and won ‘t interfere with your normal lesson.

We designed these bellringers to take no more than 5-10 minutes each, so you will still have time for your normal lesson while exposing your students to the CCS.

5. You can feel confident that your students have been exposed to all of the common core standards before the transition!
To unsubscribe, please click the following link: Unsubscribe me from this list Please be aware you may receive a few more emails as it takes a few days to fully remove you from our list.
Great Educators, PO Box 4187, Waynesville, Missouri 65584 P: 573-336-3372

EduShyster volunteers to join the mighty and the very rich at Camp Philos, where our self-anointed thought leaders will figure out how to hasten the privatization of public schools and how to get rid of those expensive veteran teachers, while encouraging more young people to spend a year or two as “teachers” before finding their real career.

Is that a real Paypal button? If it is, I am donating to send our very own thought leader.

Wouldn’t it be funny if most of those who signed up were opposed to privatization and union-busting and teacher-bashing?

I am reminded of a long story or short novel by Joseph Conrad in which the protagonist is encouraged by the authorities to join a small band of anarchists who are planning an act of violence. He joins, blends in, and—spoiler alert!–belatedly discovers that all of them are double agents, like him.

If only that were true at Camp Philos, but alas, we know the agenda of these guys: They represent the Status Quo and the 1%. In Cuomo’s case, he represents Wall Street and the 3% of children in charters. He just brokered a state budget deal to cut the tax rate on banks and to shower money on privately managed charters, at the expense of the 97%.

A reader posted this video recently, and I couldn’t stop laughing.


What makes a movement? Here is the answer.



Be a leader, be a follower. Let’s build a mass movement!


Oliver Wendell Holmes was a remarkably gifted man: physician, author, poet, a man of many talents


This poem, which he wrote in 1833, is a favorite of mine. These days, we are surrounded by so much that is ridiculous that satire becomes nigh impossible. But that’s all the more reason to laugh when we can.


The Height of the Ridiculous

I WROTE some lines once on a time
In wondrous merry mood,
And thought, as usual, men would say
They were exceeding good.

They were so queer, so very queer,
I laughed as I would die;
Albeit, in the general way,
A sober man am I.

I called my servant, and he came;
How kind it was of him
To mind a slender man like me,
He of the mighty limb.

“These to the printer,” I exclaimed,
And, in my humorous way,
I added (as a trifling jest,)
“There ’ll be the devil to pay.”

He took the paper, and I watched,
And saw him peep within;
At the first line he read, his face
Was all upon the grin.

He read the next; the grin grew broad,
And shot from ear to ear;
He read the third; a chuckling noise
I now began to hear.

The fourth; he broke into a roar;
The fifth; his waistband split;
The sixth; he burst five buttons off,
And tumbled in a fit.

Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye,
I watched that wretched man,
And since, I never dare to write
As funny as I can.

Peter Greene just keeps writing hit after hit. This
one explains
what VAM means and why it works well in
manufacturing but not in dealing with human beings.

He explains how
Pennsylvania measures teacher quality: PVAAS uses a
thousand points of data to project the test results for students.
This is a highly complex model that three well-paid consultants
could not clearly explain to seven college-educated adults, but
there were lots of bars and graphs, so you know it’s really good. I
searched for a comparison and first tried “sophisticated guess;”
the consultant quickly corrected me—“sophisticated prediction.” I
tried again—was it like a weather report, developed by comparing
thousands of instances of similar conditions to predict the
probability of what will happen next? Yes, I was told. That was
exactly right. This makes me feel much better about PVAAS, because
weather reports are the height of perfect prediction.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work.

The magic formula will
factor in everything from your socio-economics through the trends
over the past X years in your classroom, throw in your pre-testy
thing if you like, and will spit out a prediction of how
Johnny would have done on the test in some neutral universe where
nothing special happened to Johnny. Your job as a teacher is to get
your really Johnny to do better on The Test than Alternate Universe
Johnny would.
The only thing that goes wrong is that it
doesn’t work. Students are not inanimate objects like pieces of
steel. So he concludes: This is one more example of a
feature of reformy stuff that is so top-to-bottom stupid that it’s
hard to understand.

But whether you skim the surface, look at the
philosophical basis, or dive into the math, VAM does not hold up.
You may be among the people who feel like you don’t quite get it,
but let me reassure you– when I titled this “VAM for Dummies,” I
wasn’t talking about you. VAM is always and only for dummies; it’s
just that right now, the dummies are in charge.

See? All that’s required for VAM to work is believing
that the state can accurately predict exactly how well your
students would have done this year if you were an average teacher.
How could anything possibly go wrong??

Diana Senechal, author and high school teachers, has found what is needed in American education today: a renewed emphasis on the Inhumanities.

Senechal has identified a district in Wisconsin where this new initiative is taking place.

“Rhino Falls, Wisconsin—Citing a global trend toward ruthless school and workplace practices, Superintendent Mark Sequor called on for a steep increase in the inhumanities throughout the K–12 grades. “It’s time we not only caught up with Singapore and China, but showed them who’s who,” he told an assembly of 10,000. “Our kids think they have lots of meaningless tests? They should see the tests the kids in Korea take. Our kids think they have too much homework? Compared to other kids, they’re on permanent vacation.”

“To catch up with the rest of the world, says Sequor, the schools need an inhumanities emphasis even more than a STEM emphasis. “STEM might still give you a few stargazers,” he explained; “whereas a course in inhumanities will keep every child on task.”

“The inhumanities, Sequor continued, are at the heart of the Race to the Top competition, which awards funding to districts that race into flawed reforms without really thinking them through. “The whole point here is to get ahead, not to think,” he said, “and so, by embracing the inhumanities, we’re really going the extra mile—faster than anyone else, I’ll add.”

“Telos Elementary, a model school in Rhino City, allows visitors to witness its inhumanities curriculum in action. The day is filled with rapid and strictly timed activities, where students from kindergarten on up must turn and talk, repeat, rotate, move to the next station, repeat, summarize, and get in line. “We can’t let them get dreamy,” said Holly Vide, the school’s inhumanities coach. “We need to have everyone engaged. Also, in the workplace, they’ll be switched from task to task or even fired, so we need to prepare them for that reality.”

In later grades, the inhumanities are honed to a fine art.

“Once students enter high school, they are expected to do everything, he said. “Every high school student, in order to have a fighting chance in life, must have top grades, top test scores, leadership credentials, an array of extracurriculars, athletic prizes, community service hours, and at least ten things that go above and beyond what everyone else is doing. Can you be a person of integrity and character and do all of this?” he asked with a rhetorical flourish. “Of course not. That’s part of the point. Integrity and character are relics of medievalism. I think it was the medieval writer Flannery O’Connor who said something about how integrity lies in what one cannot do. We live in a ‘can-do’ era. A ‘can’t-do’ attitude is simply out of bounds.”

EduShyster here reviews some of the very worst movies now available through Reed Hastings’ Netflix.

She begins by reminding us that Hastings is certain that elected school boards will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history as corporate style charters take their place, relentlessly determined to push test scores through the roof. Hooray for the corporate takeover of public education and the demise of democracy!

EduShyster envisions the films that will titillate the viewing public about the valiant reformers. Surely they will do better than that non- blockbuster “Won’t Back Down,” which opened in 2,500 theaters, had big-name stars, a huge publicity campaign, but quietly disappeared in less than a month.

This was my favorite:

“When a Stranger Calls”

“A high-profile, no nonsense superintendent makes headlines and enemies with her plan to at last bring excellence and high expectations to Newark NJ—whether Newark, NJ likes it or not. But things take a turn for the non-communicative when said superintendent announces that she will no longer attend School Advisory Board meetings because they are *dysfunctional* and *set a bad example for children.* Also, she stops returning the calls of board representatives making this technically a silent film.”

There has been much discussion in the blogosphere and elsewhere about the importance of “grit.” Some of this started with the publication of Paul Tough’s book “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiousity, and the Hidden Power of Character,” which argued that those characteristics are crucial to succeeding in adverse circumstances and that they can be taught. It continued with the award of a MacArthur to Angela Duckworth, who studies grit, and in recent days it heated up when Lauren Anderson insisted that the whole idea of “grit” was to shift responsibility to children for their terrible life circumstances instead of talking about structural inequality in society.


Now, I confess, there is a part of me that finds this all passing strange. Having grown up in a different era, I recall that in school we were regularly bombarded with stories about heroism, about the people who showed grace under fire, about the soldiers who threw themselves on a live grenade to save their buddies, about the importance of character. History was told as a tale of people with grit and character. And, of course, all the movies from Hollywood were morality tales of grit and character. The good guys–the ones with grit–always won, or at least had a heroic death. So, the sudden interest in grit and character seems a bit weird. Like, what else is new?


What is new is the idea that we might have classes in grit. When I hear “grit,” I think “grits.” I like grits. Or I think about sandpaper. Or the grit that gets into the gears so they don’t work. But let’s be serious. When I was in D.C. a few weeks ago, someone told me he had gone to a high-level meeting between the White House and the U.S. Department of Education to determine whether there was a metric for “grit.” He asked me–this at a public meeting at the AFT headquarters, where I was discussing my latest book–what I thought about the idea of measuring grit. It was the end of a long day, I was tired, and I didn’t choose my words carefully. I said, “It makes me want to throw up.” I mean, really, will we ever have people at the Department of Education who know or care about education, you know, like the arts and philosophy and history and civics and loving what you read and what you do, not just measuring stuff?


I am happy to say that Peter Greene, who is both a high school teacher and a part-time columnist for his local newspaper in Pennsylvania, has developed a way to measure grit. Yes, he has invented the Institute of Grittology, where “we’re committed to helping monetize the work of our research partners, The Research Institute for the Study of Obvious Conclusions (“Working hard to recycle conventional wisdom as proprietary programing”).”


Yes, there are ways to measure grit, Greene says, and the good news is that it can be done with multiple-choice questions. Read on.


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