Archives for category: Teachers

Madeline Scotto loves to teach. She has been teaching math at St. Ephrem’s in Brooklyn since 1954, when she was 40 years old. Now she is 100, and the school will celebrate her birthday. She coaches the math bee now. She loves teaching.

She graduated from St. Ephrem’s in 1928, then graduated from St. Joseph’s College for Women, where she majored in French. After having given birth to five children, she decided to try her hand at teaching. And she has never stopped, other than to transition from full-time to part-time. St. Ephrem’s is a Catholic school. Catholic schools are dying out because of the competition from tuition-free charter schools that claim to offer the same climate but can’t because they do not have the moral foundation of Catholic schools.

A few days ago, I attended a memorial celebration for my friend Sister Nora Ashe at the Oratory of Saint Boniface in downtown Brooklyn. All of the students and about 40 of the Sisters of St. Joseph from far and wide were there. The school used to enroll 1600 students; now it enrolls 300. It rented some of its empty space to a charter school. Sister Nora was tragically killed a year ago when a box truck slammed into the back of her car at a red light. Sister Nora loved to teach and loved to learn. She was 65. She never got a VAM score. No one was trying to measure her effectiveness; they knew she was effective by the spirit in her classrooms. St. Joseph High School named its technology room the Sister Nora Ashe Technology Center. Nora is the kind of sister who would have taught to 100 or even longer, had she survived.

Isn’t it great to be able to teach without being harassed by state and federal officials and mandates?

Brace yourself for a flurry of statements about how testing is out of hand, and we have to be careful. We need more transparency. We need accountability about accountability. That’s more or less what the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of Great City Schools said. Add the allegedly progressive Center for American Progress. What they did not say is that the testing mania is out of control. That the need to pump billions into the coffers of Pearson and McGraw-Hill is insatiable. That parents and educators are sick of the testing overload. That it is time to say, “Enough is enough.”

Behind both statements is a desire to protect the Common Core assessments. All of these organizations are funded by the Gates Foundation, and they are not about to align with Fairtest.

What the “leaders” refuse to see is that their followers are way ahead of them. Parents and educators don’t want higher-quality tests (that unicorn, that elusive mermaid). They want a moratorium on testing. They want the beatings to stop.

CCSSO and the other members of the Beltway establishment refuse to see that we are the over tested nation in the world; that a dozen years of testing have left educators demoralized, children graded like cuts of meat, thousands of schools closed, and urban communities devastated, their public schools closed and privatized by test scores.

There is a revolution brewing on the ground against this testing madness. It is time for the leaders to get outside DC and talk to teachers and parents. Or get out of the way.

Angie Sullivan is a teacher who regularly emails a long list of legislators, education advocates, journalists….and me. Here is her outraged commentary about Democrats who collect money from teachers and betray them and refuse to fund public schools. And her outrage at her own state union for supporting Democrats who don’t support public education. In many other states, the Democrats act no different from Republicans in their fealty to privatization and high-stakes testing. See New York and Connecticut as examples.

Angie writes:

http://nvsos.gov/SoSCandidateServices/AnonymousAccess/ViewCCEReport.aspx?syn=%252b5BK3Q5X1G11p0Ui3uhoKg%253d%253d

I think it is time for CCEA [Carson County Education Association] to pull away from NSEA, the state. This political endorsement process is very tragic. I have never seen such a mess and so many bad decisions on too many levels to even speak about here.

To me it was a simple year – no TEI [The Education Initiative] – no endorsement, no money. Doesn’t have to mean we are not friends – just have to focus on TEI.

That would mean NO to almost everyone except about 5 people.

So Oct 10th my union gave $10,000 to Justin Jones to keep the Nevada Senate Democratic? Surely we could NOT have given it to Justin based on his education voting record or actually doing anything productive for public schools.

If I thought the Nevada Senate Democrats would act like this:

http://nhlabornews.com/2014/07/stop-the-attack-on-public-education-aft-welcomes-democrats-for-public-education/

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JabOtrfzjf8

I would be the yellow dog democrat Ive been my whole life. Straight ticket. But the abuse I have received over the last few years has opened my eyes to just how sick my party and union can be.

Justin is no good as an education candidate. The End.

I have begged and pleaded with my union and others to stop rewarding democrats and any others “because the other side is so much worse”.

What could be worse than ALEC legislation?

What could be worse than championing privatizing by charter?

What could be worse than loss in pay, benefits, and retirement?

What could be worse than threatening teachers like we are dogs?

What could be worse than no funds, no revenue, no plans to fund?

What could be worse than not supporting the TEI? In fact campaigning — by strategy — to do the opposite?

I’m supposed to be frightened by vouchers? Parent Trigger co-sponsored by Jones is worse than vouchers. Parents voting to kill their neighborhood schools?

Why do we insist on rewarding this bad behavior? In case Justin Jones wins, he does what to us next? Carry out his threats to “do something about evaluations”?

I have to put up with that.

What kind of favor does Jones deserve taking $10,000 from my union and $10,000 from Students First too? Both?

Who gave him this NSEA money? A committee who votes for endorsements as a clump? Murillo? Does Ruben get special favor from Justin Jones for himself?

Have we asked the members?

So Jones gets the money and to publish we love him . . . but the voter flyer excludes his name? So he got halfway endorsed? We gave him money but do not encourage anyone to vote for him. ok.

And what about all the candidates who we denied – because they wouldn’t be positive about TEI? What do they think when we give money now . . . to those with some mysterious perceived power?

CCEA needs to have more power and control over government relations in the south. The tail needs to stop wagging the dog and the dog needs to stop hiding in Carson City. And if a candidate from any party brings ALEC education reform or votes against us – we need to kick them out.

These education democrats like Justin Jones are not real – they need to be ousted from our endorsements. DFER (Democrats for Education Reform) are simply conservative democrats pushing a privatizing agenda on public schools. They are worse than a Republican — because they have infiltrated, bribed, and been bought privatizing reformers.

Proud to have a child in a charter – and trying to pass this as a democratic value?

http://www.dfer.org/blog/

As a teacher, I can continue to be disappointed.

Someone needs to get some backbone and stand up to these privatizing democratic bullies – because kids deserve advocacy – and a lot better endorsement system than this willy nilly NSEA parade – what a nightmare.

Angie.

New York State’s Education Department has warned teachers that they can be fired and lose their teaching license if they discuss the Common Core tests they graded. The New York State United Teachers has filed a federal challenge to this restriction of teachers’ First Amendment rights. This is an integral aspect of the secrecy that surrounds the Common Core tests. Teachers are not allowed to know what their own students got right or wrong. They are not allowed to discover what their students learned or failed to learn. And if they graded the tests, they can be fired for talking about what they saw.

John Ogozolak, a teacher in upstate New York wrote me to say:

“The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday of behalf of five teachers who are challenging “confidentiality agreements” they were made to sign prior to grading state exams in 2014. The gag orders threaten teachers with punishment for even mentioning what they saw on the exams and restrict the teachers’ rights to talk freely in public as citizens. The punishment could include the revoking of teaching licenses and even criminal prosecution. According to a NYSUT press release,

“The suit charges SED’s rules unconstitutionally make teachers’ speech conditional on government approval while establishing a ‘system to police the free exchange of ideas and opinions regarding its compulsory and costly testing regime.'”

“It’s all somewhat amazing, really. Yes, I guess I’ve been somewhat naive all these years. Who would have ever thought it would come to this in our great country? Citizens in Hong Kong have been fighting all week for their rights and look what is happening in our own backyards, courtesy of the apparatchiks at the NYS Education Department. I guess the testmongers there believe that their bureacratic process of creating useless exams as well as the proprietary rights of the billionaires who are their corporate overlords trump our individual First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Who will be able to speak out for our students?

“And, what lesson does this crackdown really send to our kids? It certainly has a chilling effect on the rights to free speech in our public schools. My nominees for the 2014 Education Hall of Shame: NYS Commissioner of Education John B. King and all his enablers on the Board of Regents and at the NYS Education Department and as well as all those spineless lawmakers who are letting them get away with this power grab. Of course, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo is already there to welcome you to the Hall of Shame.

“I’m imagining a protest involving thousands of teachers and parents across New York State who for just a few minutes some morning at the start of the school day put black electrical tape over their mouths to draw attention to this outrage. And, wouldn’t it be great if our friends in the media world join us, too, in making that point? I’m wondering if the New York Times, those self-proclaimed protectors of the First Amendment, would have to cover that story then? If only…… “

Stuart Egan, a teacher of English at West Forsyth High School in North Carolina, here reviews the Republicans’ desperate attempt to portray themselves as friends of public education after four years of attacking teachers and public schools. The Republican legislature has enacted charters and vouchers and done whatever they could think up to demoralize teachers and privatize public dollars. The crucial race in the state is between U.S. Senator Kay Hagan and State Rep. Thom Tillis, one of the architects of the new budget that strangles public education. Will teachers, parents, and friends of public education remember in November?

 

 

Egan writes:

“The current General Assembly is very scared of public school teachers and their supporters. And they should be: What had originally looked like an election year centering on economic growth has morphed into a debate about how our state government should better serve citizens. This GOP-controlled General Assembly has unintentionally but successfully turned the focus of November’s elections to the vitality of communities and the right to a quality public education (explicitly defined by Section 15, Article 1 of the N.C. constitution).

 

“North Carolina has 100 counties, each with a public school system, in addition to several city systems. According to the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the N.C. Department of Commerce, the public schools are at least the second-largest employers in nearly 90 of the counties — and the largest employer, period, in 66. That means teachers represent a base for most communities, the public school system. And they are strong in numbers.

 

“Those running for the General Assembly in November knew that two years ago; they just didn’t seem to care. They knew it when they attempted to buy teachers’ rights to due process for $500 million after their attempt to eliminate it was declared unconstitutional. They knew it when they froze pay scales more than six years ago. They knew it when they abolished the Teaching Fellows Program. They knew it when they allowed unregulated charter schools to take money earmarked for public schools — which, by the way, also was declared unconstitutional.

 

“That is why the GOP powers passed a secretly crafted budget that included a “7 percent average raise for teachers.” But this budget is a pure political farce. It was really just a reallocation of money and a calculated way to give the public the illusion that the General Assembly is a champion for public education.”

 

‘N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said, “Now by providing the largest teacher pay raise in state history, we’ll be able to recruit and retain the best educators to prepare our children for the future.” He’s wrong. N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis is airing a campaign ad about his leadership in strengthening public education. He’s misleading you. That historic raise is funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay. Similar to an annual bonus, this is something that all state employees — except, now, for teachers — gain as a reward for continued service. The budget rolled that money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise. That’s like me stealing money out of your wallet and then presenting it to you as a gift.
‘Also, the bulk of the pay raise comes in the lower rungs of the pay scale. The more experience a teacher has, the less of a raise he or she sees, down to less than one percent for many teachers with more than 30 years’ experience and advanced certification. And new teachers who start graduate work will never be rewarded for becoming better at what they do. In fact, this current budget ensures that no teacher who begins a career in North Carolina will actually finish that career here. No matter the qualifications or experience a teacher possesses, he or she will never receive a competitive salary like other states offer.
If public education matters to you at all, then please understand the damage this General Assembly has done to our public schools and communities. The number of teachers leaving the state or the profession is staggering. It is has given rise to a new state slogan: North Carolina – First in Teacher Flight. Do some homework and see which candidates for school board supported vouchers or which state legislatures voted to eliminate teacher assistants in public schools.

 

“Under this legislature, teachers and public education in North Carolina have been under siege.

 

“If public education matters to you at all, then please understand the damage this General Assembly has done to our public schools and communities. The number of teachers leaving the state or the profession is staggering. It is has given rise to a new state slogan: North Carolina – First in Teacher Flight. Do some homework and see which candidates for school board supported vouchers or which state legislatures voted to eliminate teacher assistants in public schools.

 

“If our communities are to recover and thrive, then this trend must stop. Educate yourself, then please vote.”

Here is a terrific article about a new video game: “No Pineapple Left Behind.”

Friends, our federal education policy has reached some absurdity and stupidity and child abuse that the best way to explain it is through satire.

Soon, as we continue on the path charted by George W. Bush, Margaret Spellings, Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates, and their devotees, we will be an international laughing stock. No other nation tests every child every year. No other nation subjects little children to 8-hour tests, no other nation rates teachers by the test scores of their students. We are breaking new ground. But it is not innovation. It is a misplacing of bad business techniques into education.

This house of cards will not stand.

The Gates-funded poll called “Primary Sources” shows that teachers are souring on the Common Core. The report is co-sponsored annually by Gates and publisher Scholastic.

Emmanuel Felton of the HECHINGER Report writes:

“Fewer teachers are enthusiastic about Common Core implementation and fewer think the new standards will help their students, according to a survey sponsored by education publisher Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The percentage of teachers who are enthusiastic about Common Core – a set of academic guidelines in math and English that more than 40 states have adopted – is down from 73 percent last year to 68 this year, according to a poll of 1,600 teachers across the country. And while more teachers continue to believe that the standards will help not hurt their students – 48 percent compared to 17 percent – the percentage of teachers in the survey who think the Common Core standards will be good for most of their students is down sharply from 57 percent in last year’s poll. The percentage of teachers who think it will hurt has more than doubled from 8 percent to 17 percent. And the percentage of teachers who think the standards won’t make much of a difference remained the same at 35 percent.”

The Gates-Scholastic poll is at odds with other polls. It shows support among a large majority of teachers, which is declining. Others show opposition among a majority of teachers.

The Ednext poll shows that a majority of teachers in the nation now oppose the Common Core. The Ednext poll shows a one-year drop in support among teachers from 76% to 46%.

A recent poll in Tennessee conducted by Vanderbilt University found that 59% of teachers in the state want to abandon Common Core. “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.”

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.

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