Nancy Flanagan is a retired teacher, who is a retired National Board Certified Teacher and a former Teacher of the Year. She read the post about the Gates Foundation listening to teacher voice, if they agree with the Gates Foundation.
“I am a member of the NNSTOY (National Network of State Teachers of the Year). The organization was originally called NSTOY–a kind of “same time next year” friendly meet/greet conference organization that provided camaraderie and scholarships. But recently, the renamed organization is getting large Gates grants and singing the Common Core/edTPA/managed “teacher leadership” tune. I have remained a member simply to get access to their plans and publications.
“Recently they sent out a message asking us to renew our dues ($15/yr for retired TOYs), after which we would be sent a survey to share our policy views. I paid my $15 (to New Venture Fund), and waited for the survey link. It never came.
“In a separate mass mailing, there was a reminder–have you taken the survey? I clicked on the link, and got an error message: the moderator has blocked your access to this item.
“So much for hearing the voices of exemplary teachers, eh?
I don’t know who wrote this song, but it is terrific.
You don’t have to live in New York to get the insanity of rating teachers and principals by test scores. Follow the singer as he explains the bureaucratic rabbit-hole that he falls into as he tries to comply with a state law that can compete with anything in “Alice in Wonderland” for sheer nuttiness.
Follow the the song and see if you can figure out what all this mumbo-jumbo jargon has to do with children or education. And the kicker is that teachers in charter schools are exempt from the maze of regulations that every public school teacher and principal must comply with.
By the time the song concludes, you too will sing, “APPR is how we rate, teachers in New York State.”
Towards the end, you may recognize Carol Burris, the principal who led the rebellion against APPR.
And you will surely recognize John King, soon to be Secretary of Education, who loved APPR.
Sarah Lahm tells the story here of how parents and teachers joined together to block the takeover of the St. Paul, Minnesota, school board by Teach for America.
Members of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers worked closely with parents to field a parent slate, which was ultimately victorious. There was no out-of-state money in the race. This was a stark contrast with the school board elections in Minneapolis in 2014. That election was a TFA sweep, filed by $300,000 in mostly out-of-state contributions from friends of TFA.
Can grassroots collaboration beat big money? The answer is not definitive. But it seems certain that big money will always win unless parents and teachers stand together.
Because the government of the Phillipines has not invested in public education, multinational corporations are moving in to supply private education for the poor. Pearson and another corporation called the Ayala Group have moved in to fill the vacuum.
Curtis Riep, a doctoral student at the University of Alberta in Canada writes:
Corporate-led privatisations in Philippine education are taking shape in the form of a for-profit chain of low-cost private schools – known as APEC (Affordable Private Education Centers). APEC is a new corporate entity established through a joint venture between two major multinational corporations: Pearson Plc and the Ayala Group. APEC, and its corporate shareholders, intend to capitalise on an overburdened and under-resourced system by selling for-profit education services at nominally low-fees -more than $500 per year- on a massive scale. The vast number of ‘economically disadvantaged’ Filipino youth underserved by public and other private schools represents the target market for APEC.
Low-cost, low quality
Profits accumulated by APEC are the difference in price paid by consumers in the form of user fees and the cost to produce those services, or the cost to educate each student. In an effort to minimise production costs, while increasing profit margins, APEC has implemented a number of cost-cutting techniques. These include a low-cost rent model that involves short-term leases in unused commercial buildings that lack adequate space for libraries, gymnasiums, science and/or computer laboratories.
Although this low-cost rent scheme is drastically cheaper than purchasing land and constructing proper school facilities, quality learning environments are sacrificed. Teachers hired by APEC are also typically unlicensed and, therefore, paid severely low wages. These cost-cutting techniques are intended to minimise operational costs so the corporation can remain financially sustainable and profitable. Therefore, in the business of low-cost private schooling, as one APEC school manger remarked: “sometimes quality is compromised because of the companies’ concern for making a profit.”
Further problematic is the Department of Education’s complicity in this for-profit arrangement, since it has relaxed a number of regulations that govern the provision of basic education so that APEC can implement its low-cost, for-profit schooling experiment with limited governmental restriction.
Students: cogs in the corporate machine
APEC also represents a corporate strategy designed to manufacture cheap and flexible labour required by Ayala and other multinational companies through its provision of privatised basic education that aligns with the labour needs of industry. By reverse-engineering its curriculum, APEC intends to produce graduates of a particular disposition with specific skills, values, and knowledge that can be employed in the global labour market.
In particular, APEC aims to address the skill shortage in the business process outsourcing and call center industry in the Philippines by focusing on English communication skills. In turn, APEC schools involve two forms of privatisation: de facto privatisation, in the form of user fees paid for by students in exchange for basic education, and privatisation that exists because of the increasing private control and influence in the social relations of production. This is demonstrated by the joint venture between Ayala and Pearson that aims to produce a repository of labour with the skills, knowledge and values in demand by industry.
Education corporations increasingly participate in various aspects of educational governance and provision, including the sale and provision of for-profit education services, which undermines the right to free quality education, (re)produces social inequalities, undercuts the working conditions of teachers, and erodes democratic decision-making and public accountability in education.
Paul Lauter, distinguished author and scholar, found the following disciplinary principles, which were posted in German state schools in the early twentieth century, circa 1910.
The basic idea: No excuses! Conform! Obey! Authority is always right!
–Students must sit up straight
–Hands must be kept together on the desk (table)
–Feet must be placed side by side on the floor.
–Students must keep their eyes on the teacher.
–Laughing, whispering, talking, moving or looking around are forbidden.
–Students must signal with the pointer finger of the right hand; the left hand supporting the elbow.
Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary, thanks his school community. He is a hero of this blog for his fearlessness and dedication.
Hope I am not too late in posting this wonderful piece, which appears on NYC teacher Arthur Goldstein’s blog NYC Educator.
Arthur says the writer of this send-up is anonymous. Credit to him for posting it on this day.
It begins like this:
Ineffective: You don’t know how to cook a turkey. You serve a chicken instead. Half your family doesn’t show because they are unmotivated by your invitation, which was issued at the last minute via facebook. The other half turn on the football game and fall asleep. Your aunt tells your uncle where to stick the drumstick and a brawl erupts. Food is served on paper plates in front of the TV. You watch the game, and root for the Redskins.
A reader writes:
“Cuomo talking about reducing standardized-test-based evaluation of teachers N.Y. State schools has all the credibility of O.J. Simpson talking about his on-going search for “the real killer” while he was golfing several hours a day (prior to O.J.’s imprisonment, of course.)”
A time to laugh and celebrate that the dumb policies of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are widely recognized as failures and will soon go into the dustbin of history, where they belong. To make a better world for children and educators, the fight goes on, to replace poor leaders and failed policies, to save public education from privatization, and to make real the elusive promise of equality of educational opportunity: for all, not some.
In a comment on the blog a few weeks ago, there was discussion about how difficult it is to stand up to the powerful. I could not help but think of the resistance group that I most admire: the White Rose Society. This was a group of German youths–young men and women- who actively stood up to Nazi totalitarianism. They wrote leaflets and distributed them; they wrote graffiti in public places. They were passionately opposed to Naziism, and they were determined not to remain silent. They were well aware that if they were caught, they would be killed. They were active for less than a year. They were captured in 1943, tried, found guilty, and most were beheaded. Their cause was hopeless, and they knew it. But they also believed that in time, the scourge of fascism and totalitarianism would be defeated. History has vindicated them. Few will have the strength to do what they did. But they must not be forgotten. Their example should live as an inspiration, reminding us that resistance can wear down the worst of regimes.
You can read more about them here.