Archives for the month of: October, 2013

Jake Miller is a teacher who wrote an article for the UK Guardian as a tribute to two teachers who were recently murdered by students.

He was stunned by the tone of the comments that came from many who read his article. They were vicious and anti-teacher. He couldn’t understand it. Why so much anti-teacher sentiment?

He wrote to ask for my advice. I urged him to keep writing. Help the public understand what teachers do.

Write op-eds for the local paper, for Huffington, for Valerie Strauss, for this blog.

I urged him not to read the comments. A staggering number are written by people who blame teachers for whatever went wrong in their lives. Their hatred is palpable. The only place he can publish where he is unlikely to encounter a teacher hater is here. They are not welcome. When they start spewing their venom, I delete them. No haters welcome.

Four districts have announced their intention to withdraw from Race to the Top, hoping to protect confidential student data.  More are thinking of joining them.

They are upset that the state demands they hand over 400 points of student data that can be transferred to inBloom, the Gates-funded project for data mining.

The State Education Department is totally unsympathetic to their concerns. Its spokesman said that the state already has the information and plans to turn it over to third parties no matter what the districts do or how much parents resist.

The state: Your child’s information belongs to us, not to the parents or the school. We can do whatever we want. You can’t stop us.

I will be in Atlanta November 1 to speak to United Way Women’s Leadership Breakfast at 7:30 am at Georgia Tech Conference Center

On November 4, I will speak twice in Princeton, New Jersey.

At 4 pm, at Princeton High School: open to the public, all welcome.

At 8 pm, at Princeton University, McCosh Hall, please call to ask about access.

On November 12, I will speak to the NYC Council of Supervisors and Administrators at its annual meeting at Terrace on the Park near JFK airport at 6 pm.

On November 13, I will speak in Chicago at 7:15 pm at:

First Free Church

5255 N. Ashland Avenue

All are welcome.

On November 14, I speak In Madison, Wisconsin at Edgewood College, 7 pm.

On November 22, I speak to the Virginia Education Association at its annal conference at the Doubletree Hilton Holiday Inn Kroger Conference Center in Richmond, VA, at 7 pm.

On December 6, I will speak to Association for Career and Technical Education in Las Vegas.

On December 11, I will speak at PS 15 in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.

On January 11, I will address the Modern Language Association on the subject of Common Core at its annual meeting in Chicago.

I will be speaking on November 1 to the Women’s Leadership Breakfast of United Way at the Georgia Tech Conference Center.

The event begins at 7:30 am.

I will deliver brief remarks, then there will be conversation.

 

Jersey Jazzman describes the new era of creative disruption in Montclair, New Jersey, under its Broad-trained superintendent.

Montclair was, until now, one of the best districts in a high performing state.

Expect the crisis narrative to begin any day now as a prelude to charters and school closings. Unless, that is, the parents rebel. Suburban parents don’t like to be shoved around, and don’t like experiments on their children.

Peter Goodman, long an insider in New York city and state education policies, here reviews the parlous state of the Common Core and its testing regime in that state.

John King has approached parents with an attitude of inflexibility. He has made it clear that he will sit through hearings if he must, but any changes will be inconsequential.

He will not be dissuaded.

The reformer wagon is losing its wheels. The game plan is falling apart.

The reformer expectation, which was predicted long ago by Jeb Bush, was that the Common Core testing would cause test scores to plummet (as they did).

Then parents would be outraged to discover that their children were getting a bad education, and they would demand charters and vouchers.

But what Jeb didn’t count on was that the charters in New York fared even worse than the public schools.

And what Jeb didn’t count on was that the parents know their children, know their teachers, and know their schools.

They don’t believe their children failed.

They believe the test was designed to fail their children.

They don’t trust John King or the New York State Board of Regents or the New York State Education Department.

They don’t trust the  Common Core or the testing associated with it. They think that both were designed to hurt their children.

They think the testing has become onerous. They know that it does not help their children. They think it hurts their children.

Peter Goodman predicts immense collateral damage as a result of the State Education Department’s arrogance.

Heads will roll. Whose head will roll first?

State Commissioner John King sends his own children to a Montessori school, which is his right as a parent.

But he insists that his children are getting an education that is similar to the Common Core, which he has mandated across the state.

This Montessori teacher disagrees. She writes:

Hi Diane,

I keep on hearing John King say that Common Core is a lot like Montessori education, but it is actually the polar opposite. Montessori schools do provide the type of education that you so passionately advocate. My students talk about what is important to them and how they are free to learn.

I thought that this quote by Maria Montessori is so fitting for the situation today: “How can we speak of Democracy or Freedom when from the very beginning of life we mould the child to undergo tyranny, to obey a dictator? How can we expect democracy when we have reared slaves? Real freedom begins at the beginning of life, not at the adult stage. These people who have been diminished in their powers, made short-sighted, devitalized by mental fatigue, whose bodies have become distorted, whose wills have been broken by elders who say: “your will must disappear and mine prevail!”—how can we expect them, when school-life is finished, to accept and use the rights of freedom?” [Maria Montessori, Education for a New World, translator unknown]

Thank you for your tireless efforts and strong voice for all of our nation’s children.

Marianne Giannis
1st-6th grade teacher
Kenosha Montessori School
Kenosha, Wisconsin

I am a teacher at LAUSD, and I am extremely disappointed with the LAUSD Board of Education for extending the contract to this abusive, destructive, deceiving superintendent. He truly does not care for the public education of the community he is supposed to serve. Most of the LAUSD teachers and principals, if not all, are aware of this. We see it on a daily basis as his policies and destructive “reform” touches each school community, especially the teachers that have to deal with such destruction of our profession. And by destroying our profession, he is destroying the education of all its students we are to teach. I am, from the bottom of my heart, via your powerful and informative blog, calling on our Union (UTLA) President Warren Fletcher to prepare and organize the teachers and all its members for a STRIKE to demand, first and foremost, an end to this superintendent and all those he placed in leadership positions affecting the teaching profession. We cannot continue to work and suffer this horrible working environment. We need and deserve a true leader who values teaching and learning, not this arrogant and destructive superintendent. I fear that he will continue to destroy many more teaching professionals and students as he has been doing. We teachers need to organize and help to fight to put an end to him as the LAUSD superintendent. ALSO, DIANE, PLEASE, PLEASE, DO NOT PUBLISH MY NAME FOR OBVIOUS REASONS. I ASK THAT YOU PLEASE PUBLISH THIS AS ANONYMOUS.

The reader writes: “One thing I have repeated heard in this
‘Ed Reform’ talk is that American kids need to ‘catch up’ with kids
from other countries because we are behind in those international
tests. I grew up in China, where there is very rigorous curriculum;
where frequent testing and ranking of students is part of a
student’s life the moment the child walks into a school; where
students do perform well in internationally-benchmarked tests. “Is
that what some ed reformers here are going after? If so, I would
suggest that they take a look at how lost and uninspired to learn
college freshman year students are in China; how students, even at
very young ages, cheat on tests so that they can rank higher in
their class and consequently get to better schools; how many
people, like myself, still have nightmares about not being able to
finish all the questions on a test, even in our adulthood. “Go
visit a Chinese airport, or bus stop, or subway station. See if you
can spot people reading while waiting. Likely not – because
people’s desire to read, to explore, to think and keep learning was
killed long ago, inside the schools, by those tests…”

Robert Shepard, author and curriculum designer, has
prepared an essay exam for the corporate reformers who think they
know how to redesign American education.

He writes:

As a member of the Billionaire Boys’ Club, or as one of the paid associates
of the BBC, you . . .

1. believe that that
extraordinarily complex skills like reading and writing ability can
be validly and reliably measured by simple, objective
tests.

Explain how that could possibly be so.

Please draw upon your extensive knowledge of the relevant
scientific literature.

2. believe that innovation comes about when free persons conceive of varied goods
and services that compete with one another in a free market in
which users choose the goods and services that they wish to
purchase and use.

Explain how this belief can
be reconciled with a) a single set of mandatory national standards
for all students, b) a single set of mandatory high-stakes national
tests, c) a single national database of all student test scores and
responses, and d) scripted literacy lessons that all teachers must
follow to the letter.

3. believe that all
students should follow the same standards and take the same
tests.

Explain how this belief can be
reconciled with the fact that students differ enormously in their
backgrounds, in their developmental levels, in their gifts and
interests and propensities, and in the goals that they and their
parents have for their futures.

4. believe that national standards do not narrow and distort curricula and
pedagogy.

Please answer the following questions:

If standards do not drive (and so narrow and distort)
curricula and pedagogy, why create them?

If they do drive curricula
and pedagogy, how can a single set of predetermined standards be
better than ANY alternative set that might be developed by ANY
OTHER expert or group of experts in education and particular
subject matter?

5. believe that our schools
are failing.

Explain how can this belief can
be reconciled with the fact that, when results on internationally
norm-referenced exams in reading, mathematics, and science are
corrected for the socio-economic levels of students taking the
exams, U.S. students consistently score at the top or very near the
top?

6. believe that a small group of persons
appointed by a committee of politicians should be empowered to
create standards that overrule and render irrelevant the judgments
about desirable outcomes in particular courses of study made by
professional teachers, curriculum developers, and curriculum
coordinators.”

Why?