Archives for category: Teachers

Tennessee is one of Arne Duncan’s favorite states because it was one of the first states to win Race to the Top funding, it has a rightwing governor and legislature, and an experienced, TFA-trained state commissioner. Thus, the state is committed to charters, to privatization, and to eliminating tenure (it already abolished collective bargaining). This is Arne’s kind of state, a state where Democrats are powerless.

But, trouble! A new poll by Vanderbilt University finds that after three years of experience with the Common Core, 56% of teachers want to abandon it. Not fine-tune it. Abandon it.

Read the story and watch the politicians try to spin the collapse of teacher support.

“Support for Common Core among Tennessee teachers has waned so much since last year that a majority now opposes the academic standards, a new statewide survey shows.

“With the future of Common Core under fire in Tennessee, a new report from the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development could provide more ammunition to those who want to roll back the standards.

“The new 2014 survey, undertaken by a group led by Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development and released Wednesday, found that just 39 percent of respondents believe that teaching to the standards will improve student learning — compared with 60 percent who said the same last year.

“It also found 56 percent of the 27,000 Tennessee teachers who responded to the survey want to abandon the standards, while 13 percent would prefer to delay their implementation. Only 31 percent want to proceed. The 2013 survey did not ask questions in this area.

“There’s been a pretty big drop of support for the Common Core,” said Dale Ballou, a Vanderbilt professor and director of the consortium.

“But there doesn’t seem to be any single symptom or explanation for that change. It’s a lot of different factors that seem to be playing into this. The one thing I would caution people against is jumping to the conclusion that this means now that teachers are actually trying it, they’re discovering that it doesn’t work.”

Gosh, no, don’t jump to that conclusion, the one that common sense suggests. Don’t conclude that “now that teachers are actually trying it, they’re discovering that it doesn’t work.” There must be another explanation. If I think of one, I will let you know.

Back to politico.com:

Instead of scapegoating teachers, politicians are competing to claim they raised salaries. How short are teachers’ memories? Vying and usually lying:

“TEACHERS’ PETS?: Forget soccer moms. This election cycle, candidates across the country are scrambling to get teachers on their side – or at least, to convince voters that they stand with educators.

- In Alaska, Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan jumped into the chalk wars first with an ad [http://bit.ly/1r6TS6n] featuring a seventh grade teacher praising him for saving her pension by standing tough against Wall Street malfeasance during the financial crisis. The National Education Association fired back with a spot [http://bit.ly/1r6TYLd ] starring a music teacher conducting a cacophony of out-of-tune instruments as he accuses Sullivan of letting Wall Street off easy in the deal. “Sullivan sold Alaska’s teachers out … letting Wall Street play Alaska like a cheap fiddle,” he says. Sullivan faces incumbent Democrat Mark Begich in the pivotal race.

- In the equally pivotal North Carolina Senate race, Republican Thom Tillis and Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan have been playing the teacher card for months. Tillis, speaker of the state House, has been running an ad [http://bit.ly/1saxbBO] boasting of pushing through legislation to raise teacher pay 7 percent. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has countered with a spot [http://bit.ly/1qivbA3 ] warning that Tillis’ math “doesn’t add up.” Only a fraction of the most experienced teachers got that pay raise, the DSCC says, while teaching assistants lost their jobs and schools lost hundreds of millions in funding.”

JOIN US FOR THE FIRST PUBLIC EDUCATION NATION ON OCTOBER 11!

NBC has abandoned its annual “education nation” funded by Gates and featuring the leaders of privatization and high-stakes testing.

Now is our hour! We are here for you! We are here for the millions of students, teachers, parents, and administrators who are part of public education. We are here permanently. We are not going away.

Coming Saturday, Oct.11

PUBLIC Education Nation

Panel #1: Testing & the Common Core

Just Two Weeks Away! The first-ever PUBLIC Education Nation

This time we own the table, and we will bring together educators, parents and students to tell the truth about what is happening in our schools, and what real reform ought to be all about.

Next Sunday, October 5, will be our major money bomb online fundraiser for the event. This is NOT sponsored by the Gates, Bloomberg or Walton foundations – it is sponsored by US – each and every person who cares about the future of public education. Please donate here, and spread the word.

If you are in the New York area, and would like to attend the October 11 event in person, please show up by 11:30 am at 610 Henry St at Brooklyn New School/Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, and register here in advance. You can also sign up for the online event on Facebook here.

Follow us on Twitter at @PublicEdNation & @NetworkPublicEd

Panel #1: Testing & the Common Core

One of the highlights of the event will be the very first panel,

Testing and the Common Core, which will be moderated by New York’s high school Principal of the Year, Carol Burris. Burris has written extensively about equity in schools and the impact of the Common Core, and will bring her many years as an educator to the table. She will be joined by the following education experts:

Alan A. Aja, Ph.D. is the Assistant Professor & Deputy Chair of the Department of Puerto Rican & Latino Studies in Brooklyn College. His research examines race, gender and class disparities between and among Latino and African American communities; immigration/education policy; social and economic segregation; sustainable development and collective action/unionization. Before academia, Aja worked as a labor organizer in Texas, an environmental researcher in Cuba, a human rights organizer in Argentina and in a refugee hostel in London. He is a public school parent and elected member of the SLT (School Leadership Team) of PS264 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Dr. Aja will discuss the impact of common core aligned testing in New York, Kentucky and other states on marginalized communities, with attention to blacks, Latinos, ELLs, special ed/learning and disability students. He will present the early evidence to demonstrate that the Common Core and its testing is not resulting in the closing of the achievement gap, but may, instead be leaving disadvantaged students even further behind. He will also discuss alternative ways to increase student and school performance.

Rosa L. Rivera-McCutchen, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at CUNY’s Lehman College. She began her career in education as a high school teacher in the Bronx.Her research examines the theory and practice of leadership in small schools in urban settings in order to create socially just and equitable schools for Black and Latino students. Dr. Rivera-McCutchen’s research has appeared in an edited book entitled Critical small schools: Beyond privatization in New York City urban educational reform.

Dr. Rivera McCutchen will focus on the moral imperative of leading for social justice in the face of CCSS and high-stakes testing. She will highlight the challenges leaders face in resisting, and focus on the strategies that leaders have used in mounting successful campaigns of resistance.

Takiema Bunche Smith is the Vice President of Education and Outreach at Brooklyn Kindergarten Society (BKS), where she oversees educational programming and outreach initiatives at five preschools located in low-income neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York. In both her professional and personal life, Ms. Bunche Smith is involved in various advocacy efforts that relate to early childhood care and education funding and policy, and the push-back against the overemphasis on high stakes testing in public schools. She has been a classroom teacher, teacher educator, content director for Sesame Street, and director of curriculum and instruction. She attended NYC public schools for 3rd-12th grade and is now a public school parent and member of the SLT at Brooklyn New School.

Ms. Bunche Smith will discuss the early childhood education implications of the Common Core and how it affects schools, students and parents. She will discuss various parent perspectives on the Common Core as well as critically highlight those who are not part of the conversation around Common Core.

On Saturday, Oct. 11, you can tune in online here at SchoolhouseLive.org to the live broadcast starting at 12 noon Eastern time, 9 am Pacific time.

The event will conclude with a conversation between Diane Ravitch and Jitu Brown.

The Network for Public Education is hosting this event. It is NOT sponsored by the Gates, Walton or Bloomberg foundations. It is sponsored by YOU, each and every one of the people who care about our children’s future.

Can you make a small donation to help us cover the expense of this event? We are determined to create the space not ordinarily given to voices like these. But we need your participation. Please donate by visiting the NPE website and clicking on the PayPal link.

A live-stream of the event will be available on Saturday, Oct. 11, starting at Noon Eastern time, 9 am Pacific time at http://www.schoolhouselive.org.

Support The Network for Public Education

The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students.

Over the past year, donations to The Network for Public Education helped us put on out first National Conference – an incredible success. In the coming year, we will hold more events, webinars, and work on the issues that our members and donors care about the most!

To become a Member or to Make a Donation, go to the NPE website and click on the PayPal link. We accept donations using PayPal, the most trusted site used to make on-line payments.

http://networkforpubliceducation.org

The Network For Public Education | P.O. Box 44200 | Tucson | AZ | 85733

Jane Slaughter describes what she calls the neoliberal assault on Michigan, and she adds in Wisconsin as well. The assault consists of a plan to end collective bargaining and to weaken the unions so they are unable to protect the benefits for working people.

I am not sure why she calls this movement “neoliberal,” as it seems that the main movers and shakers are far-right conservatives who always hated unions.

Sara Stevenson, librarian at the O. Henry School in Austin and tireless defender of public schools and teachers, wrote this article, which was published in the Austin American-Statesman. Unfortunately, it is behind a pay wall. However, Sara solved that problem by posting it on her personal blog. Sara writes a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal whenever it bashes public schools or teachers and whenever it extols the virtues of vouchers; many of them get published. She is a one-woman truth squad for the WSJ.

She writes:

“If teachers are the most important school factor in student achievement, how do our current policies and national conversation help us to grow and retain better teachers? Tenured Stanford University professor Eric Hanushek wants us to fire “bad teachers,” but we should worry more about keeping the good ones. This year my public middle school lost a wave of talent.
To those, such as Wendy Kopp of Teach For America, who believe that experience doesn’t matter, why are our new teachers cautioned, before Back to School Night, not to tell the parents they’re a first-year teacher? Studies cited in Dana Goldstein’s “The Teacher Wars” show that first-year teachers underperform experienced teachers. Hardly surprising. Can you think of any profession in which experience is not an asset?…?

“While teaching may be a respectable starter job for young college graduates, teachers pay dearly over time for their career choice. As Goldstein cites, the median teacher pay in this country is $54,000 while the median pay for a dental hygienist is $70,000. After teaching for 22 years in Texas with a master’s degree, I haven’t even hit the median. I worked for ten years in a Catholic high school where, when I quit in 1999, you could work for thirty years and not break $30,000. None of my salary was pensionable. I cite this for those who think private school vouchers are the answer….

“What worries me most about the current fads of education reform is that they are so demotivating for our most talented teachers. While Daniel Pink reminds us in “Drive” that carrots and sticks are so last century when it comes to motivation, merit pay and punishment for students’ test scores seem to be the preferred reforms….

“Let’s abandon the latest fads for reform and find a way to build and nourish better teachers, the ones we already have. Dana Goldstein’s No. 1 recommendation for improving our schools? Pay teachers more.”

…..

By an overwhelming margin, the Providence Teachers Union rejected a contract that would have eliminated all job security.

“PROVIDENCE — The Providence Teachers Union on Monday rejected a three-year contract proposal that would have eliminated the job-security clause and allowed management to create a new compensation system that would have awarded extra pay for additional responsibilities.

The 1,900-member union voted 611-182 to strike down the proposed deal, according to Maribeth Calabro, union president.

The membership struck down the proposal due to “misrepresentations” by Mayor Angel Taveras’ administration when the tentative agreement was unveiled that “poisoned the well,” Calabro said. Also, language in the new compensation plan, for example, was unduly vague, in the membership’s view, and “a lack of trust” had developed between the union and the school administration and the city.”

Mayor Angel Taveras, an advocate of non-union charter schools, said there was nothing left to negotiate.

A new group called Voices for Public Education has organized in Douglas County, Colorado. This is a district whose elected board favors market reforms and hired Bill Bennett to speak before the last election ($50,000), as well as paying Rick Hess to write a laudatory paper about its policies.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Innovation Schools Do Not Mean Less Testing

Highlands Ranch, Colorado -September 15, 2014 – Voices For Public Education (Voices) opposes the Douglas County Board of Education (BoE) resolution authorizing the submission of innovation waivers to the Colorado Board of Education and the BoE’s use of the Innovation Schools Act of 2008 to waive state assessments. The resolution passed at the September 2nd board meeting.

This resolution authorizes schools to submit waivers from testing required by the READ act to the Colorado Board of Education. These waivers will be submitted under provisions from the Innovation Schools Act. Voices for Public Education supports fewer high-stakes, state and district-mandated tests, but they do not support this resolution.

Amy DeValk, co-founder of Voices for Public Education, believes this resolution will not result in less testing. State-mandated tests will be replaced by district-mandated tests.

“Passing this resolution has nothing to do with standardized testing. The board is using testing as a distraction to the real intent of submitting Innovation Waivers. These waivers will allow the BoE to get out of state requirements they do not agree with, ultimately giving them the ability to implement their own agenda and testing with little to no oversight from the state. Teachers and parents need to learn what this really means for their school.”

Voices urges parents to demand community meetings regarding this resolution and to oppose its implementation. Voices also encourages parents to oppose all standardized testing, whether it is mandated by the state or the district. Parents should demand testing that supports learning and helps teachers to guide instruction.

About Voices for Public Education:

Voices for Public Education is dedicated to educating the community to empower individuals to act and take back our public schools.

We educate by:

• Bringing in national education experts to discuss education reform and offer alternatives

• Building personal relationships to tell our story

• Supporting other community groups fighting education reform

We empower by:

• Working with our school communities to develop actions to take back our schools

• Giving teachers, parents, students and community members a voice in decision-making

We act by:

• Creating actions for both quick “wins” and long term goals

• Providing the resources and information for people to take individual actions

• Partnering with and supporting other grassroots organizations

https://www.facebook.com/VoicesForPublicEducation

Contact:

Amy DeValk, Voices for Public Education co-founder
wasnoyes@comcast.net
303-350-7206
Stefanie Fuhr, Voices for Public Education co-founder
tutucker@comcast.net
303-483-1196

The October 2014 Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll says the following about what the public thinks about teachers. The big news here, in my view, is the dramatic shift in public opinion from favoring to opposing the use of standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. Only 1% was undecided on this question. Those favoring such a policy dropped from 61% to 38%. The public, if this poll is right, understands that value-added measurement is not working and is hurting the teachers in their community’s public schools. The bad news for Teach for America is that the public wants well-prepared, highly-trained teachers in their schools, not inexperienced young college graduates who have not passed through rigorous preparation and screening.

 

 

Only 38% of Americans favor using student performance on standardized tests to evaluate teachers, with parents even less supportive (31%). [My comment: Only two years ago, 52% approved using test scores to evaluate teachers; this is a big change in public opinion. The 61% who oppose using student performance on standardized test has increased from 47% in 2012.]

 

Of three reasons proposed for evaluating a teacher’s performance in the classroom, 77% of Americans said helping teachers improve their ability to teach is a very important reason for evaluating them. But fewer Americans (65%)
said documenting ineffectiveness that can lead to dismissal is a very important reason to evaluate their performance, and 46% said using teacher performance to determine salaries and bonuses is very important.

 

More than 70% of Americans said new teachers should spend at least a year practice teaching under the guidance of a certified teacher before assuming responsibility for their own classrooms.

 

More than 80% of Americans said teachers should pass board certification in addition to being licensed to practice, similar to professions like medicine and law.

 

60% of Americans said entrance requirements into teacher preparation programs should be more rigorous.

 

64% of public school parents have trust and confidence in the men and women who are teaching children in the public schools, but this percentage declined from 72% in 2013.

 

57% of Americans would like their child to take up teaching in the public schools as a career. This proportion was lower than when the question was last asked in 2005, when 62% supported teaching as a profession for their child.

 

 

 

 

A group of teachers at a progressive public school in Néw York City have formed “Teachers of Conscience” and written the Chancellor of the school system to say that they could no longer administer the state tests to their students.

For their willingness to act on the demands of their conscience rather than serve as compliant enforcers of actions intended to rank and rate their students, I place them on the honor roll of this blog. They are indeed Teachers of Conscience. They are resisters and conscientious objectors. From small acts of conscience, multiplied, grow revolutions.

They were inspired to act by the Seattle teachers’ boycott of MAP testing, but also by their conviction that the tests distort the purpose of education. They act in opposition to market-based reform and the Common Core.

Here is their letter to the chancellor from Teachers of Conscience:

Teachers of Conscience

A Letter to Chancellor Carmen Fariña

“The ongoing wars, the distortions of truth we have witnessed, the widening gaps between rich and poor disturb us more than we can say; but we have had so many reminders of powerlessness that we have retreated before the challenge of bringing such issues into our classrooms. At once, we cannot but realize that one of our primary obligations is to try to provide equal opportunities for the young. And we realize full that this cannot happen if our students are not equipped with what are thought to be survival skills, not to speak of a more or less equal range of literacies. And yet the tendency to describe the young as “human resources,” with the implication that they are mainly grist for the mills of globalized business is offensive not merely to educators, but to anyone committed to resist dehumanization of any kind.”

- Maxine Greene, In Search of a Pedagogy

Dear Chancellor Carmen Fariña,

We are teachers of public education in the City of New York. We are writing to distance ourselves from a set of policies that have come to be known as market-based education reform. We recognize that there has been a persistent and troubling gulf between the vision of individuals in policymaking and the work of educators, but we see you as someone who has known both positions and might therefore be understanding of our position. We find ourselves at a point in the progress of education reform in which clear acts of conscience will be necessary to preserve the integrity of public education. We can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children. We will not distort curriculum in order to encourage students to comply with bubble test thinking. We can no longer, in good conscience, push aside months of instruction to compete in a city-wide ritual of meaningless and academically bankrupt test preparation. We have seen clearly how these reforms undermine teachers’ love for their profession and undermine students’ intrinsic love of learning.

As an act of conscience, we are declining the role of test administrators for the 2014 New York State Common Core Tests. We are acting in solidarity with countless public school teachers who have paved their own paths of resistance and spoken truthfully about the decay of their profession under market-based reforms. These acts of conscience have been necessary because we are accountable to the children we teach and our pedagogy, both of which are dishonored daily by current policies.

The policies of Common Core have been misguided, unworkable, and a serious failure of implementation. At no time in the history of education reform have we witnessed the ideological ambitions of policymakers result in such a profound disconnect with the experiences of parents, teachers, and children. There is a growing movement of dissatisfied parents who are refusing high-stakes Common Core testing for their children and we are acting in solidarity with those parents. Reformers in the State Department of Education are now making gestures to slow down implementation and reform their reforms. Their efforts represent a failure of imagination — an inability to envision an education system based on human development and democratic ideals rather than an allegiance to standardization, ranking, and sorting. State policies have placed haphazard and burdensome mandates on schools that are profoundly out of touch with what we know to be inspired teaching and learning. Although the case against market-based education reform has been thoroughly written about, we feel obliged to outline our position at length to address critics who may see our choice of action as overstepping or unwarranted. You will find a position paper attached to this letter. We are urging you, Chancellor Fariña, to articulate your own position in this critical and defining moment in the history of public education. What will you stand for? What public school legacy will we forge together?

Sincerely,

Colin Schumacher, 4th/5th Grade Teacher, P.S. 364, Earth School

Emmy Matias, 4th/5th Grade Teacher, P.S. 364, Earth School

Jia Lee, 4th/5th Grade Teacher, P.S. 364, Earth School

If you have written a letter or statement regarding market-based education reform and the Common Core state standards, please consider submitting it for publication on our blog.

The New York City Parents Blog compiled the many complaints of parents and teachers about Daniel Bergner’s article about Eva Moskowitz. Bergner interviewed many critics, but he quoted only two: me and Michael Mulgrew of the UFT.

Unlike the magazine article, the post explains that the main reason Mayor de Blasio rejected Moskowitz’s efforts to expand within PS 149 was that it would cause the displacement of children with special needs, some of whom are severely disabled. It was ironic that the $5-6 million TV ad campaign that Eva’s Wall Street backers ran on her behalf last spring claimed that the Mayor was forcing SA children out of their schools by denying them space, when the reverse was true: Moskowitz wanted to increase the size of her school at the expense of children with disabilities.

The ad campaign paid off for Moskowitz. Many of the same Wall Street tycoons who backed Eva also funded Cuomo’s campaign, so of course Cuomo supported Eva and cut the ground out from under the Mayor’s feet, with the help of the legislature. Eva got free rent, the right to expand in public space, and other privileges. But this was not what you saw in the New York Times article.

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