Archives for category: Humor

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

Our blog poet–“Some DAM Poet”–regularly comments with witty poems. He/she is a good reason to read the comment section faithfully.

 

Here the the Poet’s reflection on the New York state mess:

 

“Metamorphosis” (certainly since I lived there)

 

Gregor Samsa woke quite late
Found himself in NY state
Though he’d turned to beetle queer
That was not his biggest fear

 

Governor was King of Hearts
Walking naked in the parks
Scaring parent and little kid
With every crazy thing he did

Earlier today, John Merrow announced that he was joining the Board of Directors of Pearson. His post was filled with so much silliness that it should have been apparent that he was joking, although many (including me) were taken in by his subtlety. John just sent the following message:

….effective at 12:01 AM tonight. That’s April 2nd, meaning April Fools Day is officially over. I confess that I enjoyed serving Pearson and hope I had some impact on its corporate culture.

I was not on the Board long enough for my stock options to vest, and I hadn’t gotten around to filling out the withholding forms for compensation, so I guess my day of toil was voluntary, a charitable donation. I checked with my accountant to see if I could claim it as a deduction, but apparently Pearson is not a non-profit organization. (I was misinformed.)

John

John Merrow
Education Correspondent,
PBS NewsHour, and President,
Learning Matters, Inc.
212.725.7000 x104

Very likely no one was more surprised by John’s announcement this morning than the real Pearson Board of Directors.

I should also take this opportunity to make sure you know that Governor Cuomo did not veto his budget bill and did not apologize to educators for insulting them.

And the National Education Policy Center did not switch sides and join the reformers; its press release was an April Fool’s joke.

Just in case you were wondering.

Governor Andrew Cuomo shocked the press corps and the Legislature when he promptly vetoed the budget that he had lobbied so hard to get passed. He said that he didn’t realize that his education proposals lacked any basis in research or experience, nor did he know that they would outrage the state’s parents and educators.

When asked why he had taken this radical step, he said he was reading his Tweets during his lunch hour and discovered that no one liked what he had done. He didn’t want to make every parent and educator in the state angry, he said, and so he decided to veto his own legislation. He noted that there was a precedent for this action; he pointed out that last year he pledged not to evaluate teachers on the scores of the Common Core tests, since the tests were new and few teachers had had time to learn them. But he vetoed that proposal, his own.

The Governor said that his willingness to veto his own proposals demonstrated his flexibility and willingness to listen to the views of the public. “Having an on-time budget,” he said, “was far less important than doing the right thing.”

He also pledged to return the millions of dollars he has collected from hedge fund managers, because he wants to be remembered as “the students’ lobbyist,” not “the charter school students’ lobbyist.”

As his press conference concluded, he promised to shave his head bald as penance for his initial bad judgment.

Happy April 1, a day when surprising things happen, even if they aren’t true.

A few months ago, John Merrow was having a fund-raising drive for his program, and I sent a check. He promptly returned it and said it was a conflict of interest for him to accept any funding from someone he might cover. I was impressed, right up to today, when John announced to the world that he has agreed to join the Board of Directors of Pearson, Inc. 

This is shocking news. Here is how he explains it:

It hasn’t been officially announced yet, but I want my friends to know that I will be joining the Board of Directors of Pearson Education. This was not an easy decision, and I know that some of my friends, particularly those on the left, will be angry with me. I ask you to withhold your judgment until you have finished reading this.

Pearson has been criticized, unjustly in my view, for putting profits ahead of children, but I have gotten to know some of Pearson’s leadership, and I can attest that they are caring parents who are devoted to their children. Recently I took one of my grandchildren to a polo match at the home of a Pearson executive. When my little girl fell and scraped her knee, our host attended to her every need. He could not have been more caring. Pearson hostile or indifferent to children? I don’t think so. I know better.

Pearson has gotten a lot of bad press, and I may have contributed to that with my reporting about the ‘Opt Out’ movement and its attacks on assessment. For example, when the Pearson Foundation was forced to shut down and fined $7.7 million for some questionable practices, the press coverage made it sound as if the Pearson Foundation had been guilty of child molestation. All it did was entertain some decision-makers in an effort to create a relaxed atmosphere where they could make important decisions about purchasing tests and other education products, perhaps from Pearson Education but also available from McGraw-Hill and other companies.

Why have I accepted Pearson’s invitation? Well, it’s not the money. Yes, it is true that I will receive something north of $100,000 per year plus stock options, but I publicly pledge that I will donate some of that largess to charity.

I am doing this because, frankly, I believe I can do more good from the inside than I can from outside

I guess his theory is that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Another sell-out. Especially troubling since he starts in his new position today, April 1. (Hint: April Fools’ Day. He fooled me.)

Kevin Welner of the National Education Policy Center, which had been one of the most respected critics of corporate education reform, has announced its intention to cross over and join the reformers! This is terrible news for all those who counted on its ability to marshall first-rate scholars to debunk the claims and hoaxes of the “reform” movement.

Welner says that he is to doing it for the money. The big money, he claims, is with parents and teachers, not hedge fund managers or the Walton or Gates or Broad Foundations.

To quote the press release:

BOULDER, CO (April 1, 2015) – The National Education Policy Center today announced that it is changing its mission statement and renouncing the pursuit of strong, equitable public schools.

NEPC director Kevin Welner admitted that the whole enterprise had been a ruse, and that he and his colleagues were really only in it for the money and for the elation of constant policy victories.

The NEPC’s mission statement has been “to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. … guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.”

Welner announced that the new mission statement would be “to promote policies that have a surface appeal, that are built on the whimsical magic of the free market, and that use schools to facilitate the reproduction of inequalities from generation to generation.” Research evidence, Welner added, would be created whenever necessary to prop up these goals.

“We know that by abandoning our past mission we’ll have to forgo the immense funding advantages that come from caring about high-quality evidence and equity and public schooling. But that was never really us. There comes a time when we must set aside our crass pursuit of financial support and dedicate ourselves to our true ideals. If this means trying to squeeze money from financially strapped hedge fund managers or ‘reform-focused’ foundations with tiny endowments, then that’s just what we will have to do,” said Welner.

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