Archives for category: Teachers

Teachers in Portland, Oregon, voted in opposition to administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The best part of the resolution calls on the superintendent, the school board, and principals to take the test and publicly release their scores!

“About 70 Portland Association of Teachers representatives from schools across the district voted to approve the resolution Wednesday night, said PAT President Gwen Sullivan. The resolution was crafted by a union committee and references the Oregon Education Association’s vote last spring for a moratorium on administering the test.

“”It’s not just going against something, it’s about what we’re for,” she said. “It was even more of a symbol of (what) people honestly feel about this particular issue. Teachers do not support this test.”

“The resolution references multiple concerns with the test, such as predictions that approximately 65 percent of students will fail this year and that Smarter Balanced test scores have not yet been determined to be valid or reliable. The resolution also points out the millions of federal and state dollars that have been allocated for test design and implementation.

“The resolution calls for PAT members to speak and petition about the amount of time students will spend preparing and taking the test. Members are also encouraged to hold parent informational sessions about Smarter Balanced and opting out and practice sessions for parents and teachers to take the test.

“The PAT also asks for Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith, school board members and principals take the Smarter Balanced test and publicly release their scores. The school board is encouraged to quit using standardized test scores to make decisions, the resolution states.”

Here is a video clip of the President of the Portland Association of Teachers speaking out about teacher concerns regarding the Smarter Balanced Assessment at last week’s school board hearing:

According to those who were there, about 1,000 parents, educators, and other citizens packed the statehouse in Indianapolis to let the Governor and Legislature know that they support State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, and they don’t want their 1.3 million votes for her to be nullified by petty politics.

 

Here is a video and text from the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

 

Here is Cathy Fuentes Rohwer speaking to the crowd in a riotous speech that had everyone cheering. Cathy wrote a passionate letter that ran on this blog. Cathy said what every teacher and parent knows: “My child is not college-and-career-ready because he is a child!” She also said: “Standards don’t educate children, teachers do!”

 

Here is the text of her great speech. “We can’t afford a three-tiered system of charters, vouchers, and public. We tried segregation and it didn’t work.”

 

Here is the video of Phyllis Bush’s wonderful speech.

 

And if you want even more, here are articles about the rally:

 

http://in.chalkbeat.org/2015/02/16/photos-ritz-supporters-rally-at-statehouse/#.VOj8jkK4mCR

 

http://www.journalgazette.net/…/Disdain-shown-for-Repub…

 

http://www.tribstar.com/news/local_news/statehouse-rally-supports-ritz-slams-gop/article_a7487dc5-457a-5c62-a06b-5c2a31acc6d4.html

 

http://thestatehousefile.com/supporters-rally-superintendent-ritz-public-education/20256/

 

http://wishtv.com/2015/02/16/teachers-parents-rally-for-ritz/

 

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/16/ritz-declares-teacher-rally-know-need/23515403/

 

http://www.wthr.com/story/28117025/statehouse-rally-today-to-support-superintendent-ritz

 

http://www.idsnews.com/article/2015/02/rally-for-ritz-to-take-place-in-indy-today

 

http://www.wfyi.org/news/articles/rally-for-ritz-packs-the-statehouse

 

http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/news/opinion/our-opinion-does-the-fight-over-hoosier-education-policy-have/article_56a45910-76c8-5e70-b048-8a49a4a54150.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven outstanding teachers wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo. It was published in the Albany Times-Union, where there is a good chance he and members of the Legislature might read it. Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall. Maybe by now the paywall has disappeared. I hope so as everyone in every state should read this excellent letter.

The teachers write:

The following article was written by seven New York state Teachers of the Year: Ashli Dreher (2014, Buffalo); Katie Ferguson (2012, Schenectady); Jeff Peneston (2011, Syracuse); Rich Ognibene (2008, Rochester); Marguerite Izzo (2007, Malverne); Steve Bongiovi (2006, Seaford); and Liz Day (2005, Mechanicville)

Dear Governor Cuomo:

We are teachers. We have given our hearts and souls to this noble profession. We have pursued intellectual rigor. We have fed students who were hungry. We have celebrated at student weddings and wept at student funerals. Education is our life. For this, you have made us the enemy. This is personal.

Under your leadership, schools have endured the Gap Elimination Adjustment and the tax cap, which have caused layoffs and draconian budget cuts across the state. Classes are larger and support services are fewer, particularly for our neediest students.

We have also endured a difficult rollout of the Common Core Standards. A reasonable implementation would have started the new standards in kindergarten and advanced those standards one grade at a time. Instead, the new standards were rushed into all grades at once, without any time to see if they were developmentally appropriate or useful.

Then our students were given new tests — of questionable validity — before they had a chance to develop the skills necessary to be successful. These flawed tests reinforced the false narrative that all public schools — and therefore all teachers — are in drastic need of reform. In our many years of teaching, we’ve never found that denigrating others is a useful strategy for improvement.

Now you are doubling down on test scores as a proxy for teacher effectiveness. The state has focused on test scores for years and this approach has proven to be fraught with peril. Testing scandals erupted. Teachers who questioned the validity of tests were given gag orders. Parents in wealthier districts hired test-prep tutors, which exacerbated the achievement gap between rich and poor.

Beyond those concerns, if the state places this much emphasis on test scores who will want to teach our neediest students? Will you assume that the teachers in wealthier districts are highly effective and the teachers in poorer districts are ineffective, simply based on test scores?

Most of us have failed an exam or two along life’s path. From those results, can we conclude that our teachers were ineffective? We understand the value of collecting data, but it must be interpreted wisely. Using test scores as 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation does not meet this criterion.

Your other proposals are also unlikely to succeed. Merit pay, charter schools and increased scrutiny of teachers won’t work because they fundamentally misdiagnose the problem. It’s not that teachers or schools are horrible. Rather, the problem is that students with an achievement gap also have an income gap, a health-care gap, a housing gap, a family gap and a safety gap, just to name a few. If we truly want to improve educational outcomes, these are the real issues that must be addressed.

Much is right in public education today. We invite you to visit our classrooms and see for yourself. Most teachers, administrators and school board members are doing quality work. Our students and alumni have accomplished great things. Let’s stop the narrative of systemic failure.

Instead, let’s talk about ways to help the kids who are struggling. Let’s talk about addressing the concentration of poverty in our cities. Let’s talk about creating a culture of family so that our weakest students feel emotionally connected to their schools. Let’s talk about fostering collaboration between teachers, administrators and elected officials. It is by working together, not competing for test scores, that we will advance our cause.

None of these suggestions are easily measured with a No. 2 pencil, but they would work. On behalf of teachers across the state, we say these are our kids, we love them, and this is personal.

David Greene, a veteran educator, reflects on the meaning of respect and wonders why our society no longer respects teachers–and if it ever did. He certainly respected his teachers. They changed his life. Yet he recounts a dinner where one young upstart dropped a condescending comment about teachers having “common and ordinary intellects.”

 

Students need respect too. He writes:

 

For kids, respect is as important as motivation, often more so. I am not talking about their respect for teachers. They respect those who respect them. They want structure and authority. The teachers they are most successful with are those who enforce the code of the school yet, at the same time, show respect for them.

 

They know that the best teachers understand what Elijah Anderson calls their “code of the street” in his 1999 book of the same name. Whether that street is urban, suburban, or rural, respect from their peers, who they have to live with outside of class and school, becomes critical. “Even small children test one another, pushing and shoving…ready to hit other children over matters not to their liking.” Why? To maintain respect.

 

The state of New York shows its disrespect for teachers by imposing phony evaluation systems (APPR) and discarding teacher-made state curricula for off-the-shelf curricula from vendors. What does the state do?

 

We get APPR. The Annual Professional Performance Review is a return to the use of Frederick Taylor’s scientific management of the early 20th century. Then, corporate robber barons used scientific management to attempt to make their industrial factory workers more productive. Today, new robber barons pay the NYS Department of Education to turn college-educated teachers into low-level industrial employees that productively churn students out as if they were manufacturing Model T’s.

 

Here are 3 examples of the negative effects of APPRs based on predominantly flawed data from flawed tests with manufactured cut scores.

 

“A teacher of the year, i inherited a gifted class whose collective score was 3.2 out of 4.0. For me to be graded as a competent teacher my following year’s class, had to average 3.7. However, my new gifted students only averaged 3.5…so even though the scores improved i ‘needed improvement’.”
“This year i taught students who have IQs from 56-105. One third of my students were non-readers. What are my chances of being “effective”? More importantly, who is going to want to teach these students under those conditions?”
“Ninth grade algebra teachers have higher reported student scores on their regents exams than do global studies teachers and thus have better APPR But does that mean they are better teachers? On the august 2011 integrated algebra “regents,” test results were weighted so that a student only needed to get 34% of the questions correct to pass with a 65%. On the unweighted august 2011, global history regents a student needed to get 72% of the multiple-choice questions correct plus at least 50% on the short answer and essay questions to get the same 65% passing grade.” How is that equitable?
We get EngageNY, NYS’s version of the common core. The state decided that the long time, top rated, and nationally renowned teacher developed k-12 syllabi were not good enough and so created EngageNY.

 

Who prepared this huge website filled with everything from policy to modules (curricula) and resources? The site says it is “in house”. Here is what I found:

 

NYS says:

 

“Engageny.org is developed and maintained by the New York State Education Department to support the implementation of key aspects of the New York State Board of Regents reform agenda. This is the official web site for current materials and resources related to the regents reform agenda.”

 

The three real writers: commoncore.org, http://www.elschools.org and coreknowledge.org

 

NYS says: “the Regents research fellows planning will undertake implementation of the Common Core Standards and other essential elements of the Regents reform agenda. The Regents fellows program is being developed to provide research and analysis to inform policy and develop program recommendations for consideration by the board of regents.”

 

The reality: these 13 research fellows (none NYS teachers) are paid as much as $189,000 each, in private money; at least $4.5 million has been raised, including $1 million donated by dr. Tisch.” Other donors include bill gates, a leader of the charge to evaluate teachers, principals and schools using students’ test scores; the national association of charter school authorizers and the Robbins Foundation, which finance charter expansion; and the Tortora Sillcox Family Foundation whose mission statement includes advancing “Mayor Bloomberg’s school reform agenda.” Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Gates are expert at using philanthropy in a way that pressures government to follow their private public policy agendas.”

 

I respectively submit that they believe we teachers of “common and ordinary intellect” are no longer capable of curricula planning.

 

 

 

Governor Cuomo appeared in Utica, Néw York. About 65 teachers and parents demonstrated outside as he held a press conference.

“Dozens of teachers and parents, carried signs in protest of the governor’s education policies, loudly chanting, “Cuomo’s plan has got to go!” outside MVCC.

“The teachers’ union is going to yell at me. I know. But that’s the only way you make change,” said the governor during his presentation.”

Here is Cuomo’s syllogism:

“All teachers’ unions are bad (they didn’t endorse my re-election)

All teachers in Néw York are union members

Therefore all teachers are bad”

Someone gave Anthony Cody a copy of a secret training document created by public relations consultants to corporate reformers. The document is only six pages; it is printed in bright colors. Its purpose is to show reformers how to answer complaints about testing.

Is there too much testing? Agree, yes , there is too much testing but the new Common Core tests will solve that problem.

Whatever the complaint, answer by saying the new tests are better, the new tests are different, the new tests solve that problem. No more teaching to the test. Why ? Because the new tests are better, the new tests are different, the new tests solve that problem. Teachers want more time for creative teaching? No problem. Because the new tests are better, the new tests are different, the new tests solve that problem.

Peter Greene gives his sales pitch to parents about the advantages of public schools over charter schools. This is one of his best posts ever. He does a great job of explaining why parents should enroll their children in public schools, not charter schools.

Did he forget anything? If you were making this argument, what would you say?

This is what Peter Greene wrote:

“Here’s why you should send your child to your public school.

Stability.

I will promise you that at the end of this year, at the end of next year, at the end of your child’s educational career, even if that’s thirteen years from now, this school system will still be here. You will never arrive at our doors and find them suddenly locked. You will never spend a single part of your year scrambling to find a new school to take your child in. As long as your child is school age, we will be here for her. You will never have to discover that we have decided to stop teaching your child because we can’t make enough money doing it.

Shared expertise.

Our teaching staff has over a thousand years of collective teaching experience. You may think that those thousand years don’t matter if your child is in a classroom with a second-year teacher, but they do, because that second-year teacher will be able to share in the other 998 years’ worth of experience any time she needs to.

Our staff will also share the experience of teaching your child. Your child’s classroom teacher will be able to consult with every other teacher who works with, or has ever worked with, your child. We do not routinely turn over large portions of our staff, nor do we depend on a stable of green young teachers.

Commitment.

We are committed to educating your child. Only in the most extraordinary circumstances will we expel him, and we will never “counsel him out.” We will never require a minimum performance from him just to stay in our school.

Ownership.

Our public school is owned and operated by the voters and taxpayers of this community, your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. The charter school is not. This public school is overseen by an elected board of individuals who live here and who must answer to voters. The charter school is not. When you have a complaint, a concern, an issue that you want to direct attention to, the people who run this school must have regular public meetings at which you must be able to air your concerns. The charter is a business, run by people who don’t ever have to let you into their board room.

Will you allow me to see your financial statements any time I wish?

Will you commit to holding all meetings of your leaders and operators in public, with ample opportunity for members of the public to speak out?

Will you promise me that no matter what, you will never turn my child away from this school?

My suggestion to you? Find a place that will say yes to all of those, because without a foundation of stability, transparency, and commitment to your child, any other promises mean nothing. They are like getting a marriage proposal from a man who says, “I will be the greatest husband ever, but I do reserve the right to skip town any time that I feel like it.” The charter school promise is not really a promise at all. Our promises are smaller and less grand because we know that whatever we promise, we’ll have to stick around to deliver.”

Nevada is one of the states that spends the least on education. It ranks 44th in the nation. That could be because the state keeps taxes low for gambling and mining industries. Governor Brian Sandoval is worried that the education system gets poor results, but doesn’t make a connection between low funding and academic outcomes.

Nevada teacher Angie Sullivan expects that the governor will make teachers pay to cut costs and find savings. Angie teaches kindergarten. Both parties have failed to support education, she says:

She writes:

I waited and waited for Democrats. They never did what was right.

Now I face losing my collective bargaining, retirement, and working conditions so that schools will be funded. Someone had to care about kids, I guess it will be teachers who are asked to give – everything – so children can have the basics. It’s ironic that business is whining like they cannot bare the burden, when it is again the teachers that will pay at a high personal cost for the Governor’s plan.

If it has to be – begin with me.

I cannot face my God and confess that I saw thousands of children in need and did nothing.

I do not have much – but take it all if that finally remedies this broken system.

For the record – I asked everyday for years for the billionaires who could pay and for mining who rapes my state of natural resources to pay their fair share instead of myself and my co-workers. The democrats in charge mocked me, called me names, derided me and ignored me. I face the fact that my state and political party will gnaw off its own leg to try to make points for those with cash.

I worry about the future however. A teacher with trained skill will never choose come to work in a state without a solid contract. A game changer for place like Vegas that hires thousands of new recruits every year. Teachers will look elsewhere if we lose our due process along with our retirements – educators should not invest time and money in a Nevada career that does not exist. We should all spread the word that Nevada politics requires too much from its educators – stay away.

If business wants to dictate “education” by business management instead of education by educators and call it REFORM – I’m sure Bill Gates has plenty of product to sell Nevada. Instead of paying for people with contracts – Nevada can pay for software. I’ll warn you – Gates loves money more than Nevada kids. It won’t really be a public school system when its over – likely just a collection of privatized small businesses when its over. Just like the failures in New York, Ohio, Florida, and Lousiana. There will be corruption and graft more abundant than the 33 charters have already perpetrated on Nevada. People will line their pockets with the real educators gone. Maybe a perfect fit for business-friendly and teacher-hating Nevada.

Who needs real care and love – not necessary for Nevada’s kids.

I weep for my Nevada – my home state – and its selfish people.

May God hold us all in His hand. And may the Republican Governor finally find a way to thread the needle even if it takes all I have worked for my whole life.

Republican Chris Gibson recently criticized Governor Cuomo for his recent proposals to “reform” education by attacking teachers. Gibson understands that you can’t reform education by harassing those who do the daily work of education. He also criticized Cuomo for his love of standardized tests.

Blogger Perdido Street quoted this news story:

“This idea that Cuomo thinks he is basically going to ride roughshod over education and somehow end up with a better product, I don’t see how he does that,” Gibson told The Daily Star in an interview from Washington, D.C. “He has got to include teachers in that process….

“Gibson also graded Cuomo’s education agenda as being deficient for not addressing what he contends is New York’s over-reliance on standardized tests via the so-called Common Core curriculum.

“When you rely heavily on this standardized testing, you end up with teachers teaching to the test,” said the congressman, a former assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “That is stifling creativity and it’s stifling learning.”

“He also predicted Cuomo’s approach to solving problems in the classrooms is doomed to fail.”

Perdido Street blogger says Gibson’s comments are a hopeful sign that some members of Congress are listening to their constituents, the voters who elected them.

“The governor’s approach I think is wrong-headed, and ultimately I think he is going to be frustrated,” Gibson said.

Rachel Levy sent out an alarm about terrible legislation proposed in Virginia.

Evidently the Republicans in the legislature have been taking their marching orders from ALEC. ALEC wants deregulation of schools. It would like a free market in education, with charters, vouchers, and public schools chasing dollars and students. ALEC doesn’t believe that local school boards will approve enough charters, so ALEC recommends that governors create commissions that can override local resistance to charters. Thus ALEC prefers Big Government and is quite happy to crush local control.

There are other parts of this legislation and other bills that are odious. Unfortunately, a bill to decrease the number of required state tests was defeated.

If you live in Virginia, now is the time to get active. Let your elected representatives hear you!

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