Archives for the month of: July, 2017

Choice advocates favor the idea of “voting with your feet.”

Peter Greene explains why it doesn’t work and will never work.

“A parental foot vote carries no weight. And since parents get their foot votes by trading away actual votes for board members, access to any transparency about school management or finances, and in some cases even simple access to people in charge, it’s a lousy trade. The only thing they can do is that bipedal vote thing, and as we’ve seen, doesn’t carry much weight.

“Vote with your feet” is just a nicer way for charter operators to say “Take it or leave it.”

“Meanwhile, in places like New Orleans, Florida and North Carolina, legislators continue to aid the invisible hand by cutting the competition off at the knees. The more parents are driven toward charter/choice schools, the less those parents matter, and the easier charter operators have it. So let’s systematically gut public education. If people won’t venture out of the public school building– if they won’t vote with their feet the way we need them to– then let’s coax ’em out of that building by setting fire to it. Then it doesn’t matter where the stampede heads– as long as we can catch a sliver of it, we’re good.

“Foot voting is never going to empower parents. In fact, since foot voting requires parents to give up all other forms of leverage, it’s an approach that leaves them with nothing but tired shoe leather.”

James Kirchik wrote this fascinating article for the Brookings Review.

In it, he answers a question that I have wondered about this past year: how did Republicans and conservatives become enamored with Putin?

It turns out that Russia has been cultivating the right. The far-right love his anti-gay laws and attitudes. They love his defense of “traditional values.” And Putin has reached out to the National Rifle Association and invited a delegation to Moscow (Kirchick points out that there is no individual right to bear arms in Russia but the NRA doesn’t care).

He writes:

“What I never expected was that the Republican Party—which once stood for a muscular, moralistic approach to the world, and which helped bring down the Soviet Union—would become a willing accomplice of what the previous Republican presidential nominee rightly called our No. 1 geopolitical foe: Vladimir Putin’s Russia. My message for today’s GOP is to paraphrase Barack Obama when he mocked Romney for saying precisely that: 2012 called—it wants its foreign policy back.


“I should not have been surprised. I’ve been following Russia’s cultivation of the American right for years, long before it became a popular subject, and I have been amazed at just how deep and effective the campaign to shift conservative views on Russia has been. Four years ago, I began writing a series of articles about the growing sympathy for Russia among some American conservatives. Back then, the Putin fan club was limited to seemingly fringe figures like Pat Buchanan (“Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?” he asked, answering in the affirmative), a bunch of cranks organized around the Ron Paul Institute and some anti-gay marriage bitter-enders so resentful at their domestic political loss they would ally themselves with an authoritarian regime that not so long ago they would have condemned for exporting “godless communism.”

“Today, these figures are no longer on the fringe of GOP politics. According to a Morning Consult-Politico poll from May, an astonishing 49 percent of Republicans consider Russia an ally. Favorable views of Putin – a career KGB officer who hates America – have nearly tripled among Republicans in the past two years, with 32 percent expressing a positive opinion.”

The right loves a strong authoritarian figure who hates gays, loves guns, and hates America.

Carol Burris, veteran teacher and principal, author and executive director of the Network for Public Education, here analyzes the proposal by the charter committee of the State University of New York to allow charter schools to hire uncertified teachers and to do their own certifying. Among other problems, this insults the education faculty of SUNY, as well as the New York Board of Regents, which sets high standards for new public school teachers in the state. The charter committee includes no educators; its members were appointed by Governor Cuomo.

Burris writes:

The proposed regulations by the State University of New York (SUNY) Board for charter school teacher certification have been posted. The SUNY Board should hang its head in shame. These regulations eliminate nearly all NYS requirements, requirements they themselves have endorsed under the new TEACH certification regulations.

While this proposal may further the political interests of the Governor who appointed 15 of the 18 Board members, and who has received millions in contributions from charter school board members, it does so at the expense of the children who attend the charter schools SUNY authorizes.

In a nutshell, turn up at a charter school door with a bachelors’ degree, and you can become a certified teacher in weeks.

According to the proposed regulations:

· Prospective charter teachers would be required to take only 30 hours of instruction (the equivalent of less than 4 days) by someone who holds a Master’s Degree, including an uncertified teacher whose students got good scores on state tests. (Yes, that nuttiness is written into the regulation.) The 30 hours do not even have to be “real” hours—SUNY’s proposed regulation defines an instructional hour as at least 50 minutes. Instruction can even be provided via video, as long as there is some face to face time.

· For a second certification—only six more hours is all that is required.

· The candidate needs 100 hours of field experience under the supervision of an experienced teacher. That teacher can be uncertified as long as they are a two-year, TFAer, anyone who has taught for 3 years and received satisfactory evaluations, or a university professor. Contrast this field experience requirement with that of SUNY’s Stony Brook University which requires a 75 day internship with a certified teacher. The State Education Department requires a minimum of 40 days.

· The teacher would be eligible to teach in SUNY authorized charters only, essentially relegating them to an indentured servant status. They would be unable to leave for public schools with better pay and better working conditions unless they went through a traditional program which would be very difficult, if not impossible, given the long days required by charter schools.

Speak out and let SUNY know that you are opposed to the proposed regulations. Let them know every New York child deserves a well-trained, qualified teacher.

Sign the Network for Public Education’s petition:

Call: Ralph A. Rossi II, at (518) 455-4250

Send an e-mail to

Mike Klonsky writes about Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to close another school. Rahm has left his mark as the Great Destroyer of Public Schools in Chicago.

Mike and his brother Fred interviewed two members of the elected school council of an elementary school called National Teachers Academy, which they are fighting to save.

“It’s both an inspiring and heart-breaking tale of a school community that has managed to survive and thrive despite district misleadership and the rigors of 15 years of top-down, corporate-style reform, only to find itself on the chopping block. After finally achieving Level 1 status, NTA has been marked for closure. Its students could be moved into an expanded (1,800 students) South Loop Elementary — an elementary school that size is criminal — and NTA turned into a new high school for Chinatown…

“The school was launched in 2002 against the background of gentrification of the South Loop neighborhood, with a fancy misleading title (it was never a national teacher training academy) under the direction of a consortium of 15 school partners including universities who promised to deliver strong professional development for teachers at a neighborhood school.

“Instead, what the school got was a takeover by a private turnaround company, AUSL, leading to teacher firings and principal churn. Since 2006, the school has stabilized, developed a strong teacher residency program in partnership with UIC and has now been declared a Level 1 school, based on its rising test scores. Most of the credit for the gains goes to the school’s teachers and students as well as its two most recent principals, Amy Rome and Isaac Castelaz.

“Niketa and Elisabeth’s story recalled the legacy of then-CEO Arne Duncan’s so-called Renaissance 2010 reform initiative which was launched by Mayor Daley in 2004. It called for the closing of more than 80 schools to be replaced by 100 shiny new charters, contract schools, performance schools, turnaround schools, etc…by the year 2010.

“I still remember Duncan speaking to Dodge Elementary parents who were angry over his handing their school over to AUSL, without any input from the community, and promising them that they would be thrilled with his new Renaissance alternatives. But by 2013, CPS was already closing many of the schools Duncan had created.

“Ren 10 was a disaster on all levels. But it was the manufactured spin of this debacle as a “Chicago Miracle” which paved the way for Duncan’s appointment as head of the Department of Education.

“WBEZ’s Becky Vevea wrote at the time:

“In 2008, Dodge was where then president-elect Barack Obama announced Duncan as his pick for Secretary of Education.

“He’s shut down failing schools and replaced their entire staffs, even when it was unpopular,” Obama said at the time. “This school right here, Dodge Renaissance Academy, is a perfect example. Since this school was revamped and reopened in 2003, the number of students meeting state standards has more than tripled.”

“But fast forward another five years, Dodge and Williams are closing their doors.

“This story must have a familiar ring to the parents and students at NTA.

“But, as Elisabeth assured us yesterday, “We’re gonna win… We are an army of parents and allies from all over the city. This is not over.”

“I believe her.”

Police chiefs across the nation denounced Trump’s endorsement of rough treatment of suspects.

“During a speech to law enforcement on July 28, President Trump said “please don’t be too nice” to suspects who are arrested.

“Police leaders across the country moved quickly to distance themselves from — or to outright condemn — President Trump’s statements about “roughing up” people who’ve been arrested.

”The swift public denunciations came as departments are under intense pressure to stamp out brutality and excessive force that can erode the relationship between officers and the people they police — and cost police chiefs their jobs.

“Some police leaders worried that three sentences uttered by the president during a Long Island, N.Y., speech could upend nearly three decades of fence-mending since the 1991 Los Angeles Police Department beating of Rodney King ushered in an era of distrust of police.

“It’s the wrong message,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told Washington radio station WTOP while speaking of the trust-building work that departments have undertaken since King’s beating. “The last thing we need is a green light from the president of the United States for officers to use unnecessary force.”

”Trump made the comments at a gathering of law enforcement officers at Suffolk County Community College in New York.

“When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over?” Trump said, miming the physical motion of an officer shielding a suspect’s head to keep it from bumping against the squad car.

“Like, don’t hit their head, and they just killed somebody — don’t hit their head,” Trump continued. “I said, you can take the hand away, okay?”

“Trump’s remarks came after he spoke about local towns ravaged by gang violence.

“Across the country, police department leaders said the president’s words didn’t reflect their views.”

“The Suffolk County Police Department has strict rules and procedures relating to the handling of prisoners, and violations of those rules and procedures are treated extremely seriously,” the department said in an emailed statement.

“As a department, we do not and will not tolerate ‘rough[ing]’ up prisoners.”

“Trump’s comments also drew a rebuke from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In a statement Friday, the group did not specifically mention Trump by name but appeared to respond to his speech by stressing the importance of treating all people, including suspects, with respect.

Statements from other police leaders followed….

“Police departments are under increased scrutiny for violent, often fatal interactions with suspects. So far this year, 574 people have been shot and killed by police, according to The Washington Post’s Fatal Force database.

“Last year, police shot and killed 963 people.
This year’s killings included the Minneapolis Police shooting of Justine Damond, an Australian woman who called 911 to report a possible rape in the alley near her home and ended up shot dead by the responding officers.”

If you are able to open the link, you will see teeets by numerous police chiefs disassociating themselves from Trump’s views.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I am a dog lover. My dog is Mitzi, an 80-lb. mutt, rescued from a kill shelter. She is very beautiful. When people ask me what she is, I say she is a genuine American Muttheimer. Most people gravely nod their heads as though they know the breed.

I read a story this morning that made me cry. I tried to read it out loud to Mary, my partner, but I was crying so much that I couldn’t do it. Also she thinks I have a very bad habit of reading things out loud to her. She can read.

Here is the story. If you love dogs, you will cry too. Unless you are made of sterner stuff than me,

This post was written by a Pennsylvania educator who retired to South Carolina. He and his wife are now working to improve education in rural schools.

He writes that he has tried mightily to avoid politics, but when he saw Trump’s speech to police officers in New York, he lost it.

He was rattled by the thought that the man who was president of the United States was encouraging police officers to treat suspects roughly. He knows that Trump was romanticizing police brutality.

He has a dream:

This is now my most fervent dream. When the president is removed from office for obstruction of justice, or impeachment, or some other legal way, I hope that the police, the secret service or the federal marshals, do not put their hands on his head when he is shoved into the back of a police car.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Teresa Danks has been teaching since 1996. She teaches first grade. She has a master’s degree.

Why is she standing by a busy road in Tulsa begging for money?

Watch the 54-second video.

Then send it to Bill Gates, The Walton Family Foundation, Eli Broad, Mark Zuckerberg or Priscilla Chan, Michael Bloomberg, or Betsy DeVos with your ideas about how to improve education.

Teacher-blogger-author Mercedes Schneider has written several posts contending that State Superintendent John White lacked the necessary qualifications for his job. The law requires five years of teaching experience, but Schneider uncovered documents showing that White had not taught for five years.

Attorney Amy Lafont of Louisiana posted the following comment on the blog last night:

“For my friends interested in public education and accountability:

“After a detailed examination of the claims made by the Bayou Brief (BB) in their attempt to discredit and diminish the Louisiana state superintendent’s licensure issue and Dr. Mercedes Schneider, I have determined that their assertions are without legal or factual bases.

“For the public record, I was in no way solicited by anyone to get involved in this discussion. As an attorney I felt obliged to step in, where I saw an attempted political hit masquerading as legal analysis. Something is not legal analysis just because someone says it is, any more than White’s teaching experience existed just because he says it did. I am familiar with both the Bayou Brief and Dr. Schneider as a regular reader and as long-term colleagues in advocacy. I read the BB’s initial post with interest, to see what they could contribute, fact-wise, to answering the questions Dr. Schneider and others have raised.

“I was disappointed by the lack of facts and disparaging tone of the BB post, so I asked the “Editorial Board” to provide the factual and legal bases for each of their conclusions. They responded with a great deal of flippant attitude, shifting reasoning, and hubris. Instead of addressing my questions in a forthcoming manner, they ultimately deleted my comments and blocked me from further posting on their facebook site.

“The substance of BB’s post challenging Schneider’s (and a great many others’) conclusions was stated as follows:

“In our judgment, none of these allegations are true, and they are based on a (i) fundamental misapprehension of the law, (iii) a creative interpretation of the requisite qualifications for certification (in which only teaching experience in a public school is sufficient), and (iii) a misunderstanding about the ways in which states grant reciprocity to teachers certified elsewhere.” (numeration added.)

“Over a series of facebook comments, I attempted to draw out of BB their rationale behind each of the three conclusions above. After much back and forth, I am satisfied that there is no credible evidence in the possession of The Bayou Brief that undermines Dr. Schneider’s conclusions.


“BB: “(i) fundamental misapprehension of the law”

“BB has not shown how the law is misapprehended. When asked piece by piece which sections of law they felt were misapprehended, only one hypothetical was given. This comment by BB hypothesized that something like after-school SAT tutoring would have qualified as “years of teaching experience in an area of certification.” They argued that the language of the requirement was so vague as to permit interpretation that way, without offering any legal justification or support whatsoever for that interpretation, except that ‘the courts would defer to BESE.’ Perhaps the BB misunderstands how our three branches of government work in check and balance of each other. BB should readily state where their interpretation is supported in existing law.

If BB wants to publish an article stating that Dr. Schneider fundamentally misapprehends the law, they should be able to say precisely how. Instead, she has cited the section precisely:

§ 708. Educational Leader Certificate Level 3 (EDL 3) [Formerly §709]
A. This certificate is required in order to serve as a school system superintendent or assistant superintendent.

Eligibility requirements:

b. five years of teaching experience in his/her area of certification;

“BB now asserts that the language above means other than its plain meaning, and that it should be interpreted to include such things as after-school SAT tutoring, without providing any justification for that interpretation. And yet they assert that we are wrong to understand it to mean full-time classroom teaching, again, without citation or explanation. This argument fails.

“BB: “(ii) a creative interpretation of the requisite qualifications for certification (in which only teaching experience in a public school is sufficient)”

“Here BB argues that the issue with the certification requirements pertains to the question of public/private. After being challenged, BB asserted that the misunderstanding was that “one does not need successive, public school experience in order to obtain the certification.” This is a diversionary or simply incorrect argument. Dr. Schneider did not say that there were two years of experience that did not qualify because John White taught either non-successively or at a non-public school. She said the years never existed.

“Among other materials, she posted Mr. White’s Louisiana leadership certification applications, which include an employment verification letter on TFA letterhead, which states:

“John was employed by Teach For America from July 1st of 2002 through February 4th of 2007. During that time he held the title of Executive Director of our Chicago Region. He earned a yearly salary of $126,499.92.”

“The Bayou Brief parrots White’s assertion that this same period of employment should somehow also qualify him for two years towards his “five years teaching experience in an area of certification,” because his spokesperson says so. Like White, the BB declines to provide any documentation whatsoever in support of their demand that we give these terms other than their plain meanings.

“They never disproved Dr. Schneider’s assertion, nor did they ever demonstrate how Dr. Schneider was factually or legally incorrect in her interpretation of the qualifications for the challenged leadership certifications.

“BB: “(iii) a misunderstanding about the ways in which states grant reciprocity to teachers certified elsewhere.”

“This statement implies that the Bayou Brief believes that John White was in compliance with reciprocity rules.

“However, demonstrated in detail, through communications with relevant Illinois professionals and related licensure materials, that John White could not have taught in an area of certification in Illinois without formally converting his NJ certificate to IL. Bayou Brief does not claim that White secured an IL certificate. They claim that the rules do not require that the certificate be issued from the same state wherein the teaching occurred. This indicates a misunderstanding on the part of Bayou Brief, not Dr. Schneider. Dr. Schneider set the processes and requirements forth correctly.

“Further, and egregiously, Bayou Brief cannot show that John White ever even sought reciprocity, or had an Illinois teaching certification at the time he was supposed to be earning his “years of experience teaching in an area of certification” in Chicago.
Inter alia, Bayou Brief argued that White’s “Certification didn’t expire”, “He has been certified in English since at least 1999”, and that he would have been able to teach in an area of certification in Illinois with an un-transferred New Jersey certificate. These claims were disputed and unresolved.

“Over the course of our discussion, Bayou Brief ultimately claimed that John White taught in an area of certification (English) in Chicago Public Schools, without being an employee of CPS, and without Illinois certification.


“None of the Bayou Brief’s “legal arguments” survived basic scrutiny. For every three or four paragraphs of response by one of their board members, only one paragraph contained actual legal argument, and these were sloppy, lazy, and incorrect. The remainder of the verbiage was hot air and hand waving.

“Of the posts that purported to offer a substantive rationale, it was stated clearly that that person, Clayman Clevenger, a board member and private attorney, was commenting only in his personal capacity, but he adopted and defended the BB claims. The members of the “Editorial Board” did not answer the specific questions raised by their ‘exclusive/editorial,’ nor would they disclose the membership of the board. The Bayou Brief has previously lauded the hire of Ms. Katie Weaver as bringing serious bona fides to the paper, however, she declined to respond to this issue. In a private message, a board member told me that she is merely their spelling and grammar secretary.

“After ample opportunity to provide solid facts and argument in support of their conclusions, the Bayou Brief stands disproven on the record. Their story completely unraveled.

“Finally, the Bayou Brief’s repeated refusals to support their claims with facts, their repeated diversionary and straw-man arguments, and their repeated changes in rationales tend to show a pretext in motive for publishing the piece.

“I call upon the Bayou Brief to retract its story and issue a prompt apology to Dr. Mercedes Schneider.”

Peter Greene saw an article in Forbes making the absurd assertion that the problem with public schools is that they have certified teachers. In typical fashion, he demolishes this claim.

The article argues that teachers do not need to be paid well, and they do not need to be certified.

Greene says this is nonsense, to put it mildly.

He points out 18 reasons why the authors are wrong.

Here is the 18th reason:

“18) And it offers the best hope of bringing more capable people into the teaching that all agree is so vital.

“This is the final line of the article, and nothing in it has been proven in any of the lines that came before. Great teachers are somehow born and not made, and they alone can fix everything, and they are apparently distributed randomly throughout the population. Somehow by lowering standards, lowering pay, destabilizing pay, and removing job security, we will attract more of them and flush them out.

“That’s 18 dumb things in one short article. I suppose Forbes could get better articles if they paid less and let anybody write for them.”