Archives for the month of: December, 2017



This seems to me like a good way to end a very difficult year.

Every so often, it is useful to remember the purposes of education.

It is not about test scores.

It is not about readiness for college and career.

It is not about readiness to be a global competitor.

It is the process of developing judgment, humanity, character, ethical and moral sensibility, one’s sense of self and sense of civic responsibility.

A journalist recently asked me what to read to learn about Dewey’s vision of education.

This was my recommendation.

Here is John Dewey’s creed.

What do you think?

Earlier this year, Adell Cothorne won the Kenneth S. Goodman “In Defense of Good Teaching” Award at the University of Arizona. I was not aware of this honor when it happened but wanted to take this opportunity to salute Adell.

Adell was the whistle-blower in Washington, D.C., who called attention to the cheating that was happening during the regime of Michelle Rhee.

This was the citation:

“Adell Cothorne, teacher, administrator, and teacher educator, is the 2017 winner of the In Defense of Good Teaching award

“The award is given every year, in honor of Dr. Kenneth S. Goodman, to an educator who has stood up for students at great personal and professional risk. Ms. Cothorne blew the whistle on standardized test cheating in one of Michelle Rhee’s “success story” schools in Washington, D.C. because she did not want her students to miss out on access to a high-quality education. This decision ultimately led to loss of her career in K-12 public education, reflecting how much she is willing to fight for her students.”

Cothorne was principal of the Noyes Education Campus from 2010-2011. She discovered cheating, reported it, and was fired by district officials. After she tightened test s3curity, the school’s test scores plummeted. She blew an inconvenient hole in the “miracle” of Adam.C. Success under Rhee. She was featured in John Merrow’s last PBS documentary.

Mercedes Schneider invited Adell Cothorne to tell her story here.

She joins the honor roll of this Blog.

Bob Shepherd—teacher, assessment developer, textbook author, now teacher again—shares his resolutions for 2018:

op Ten New Year’s Resolutions, 2018 |Bob Shepherd, Lifestyle Reporter, LALA Times

I think I’m just going to capitalize on all the goodwill I’ve built over the past year.
–Harvey Weinstein

This is the year when I’ll finally get up the courage to ask that cute intern in Accounting whether she likes anime.
–Vernon Plum, mail clerk, Mashpee, Massachusetts

Yes, I thought about acting in the coming year a little less like a Republican.
I have a two-word response to that: campaign contributions.
–The bloated, avaricious, meretricious, ruined shadow of what was once the Democratic Party

I think it’s important to set realistic goals. So over the coming year I’ve determined to get down to the weight I was yesterday.
–Bert Bjorn, Stay-at-Home Dad, Akron, Ohio

OK. We OWN the retail market now. But you can’t rest on your laurels, or whatever that expression is. So this year we’re going to expand into delivering, directly to people’s door, deeper friendships, personal integrity, satisfying sexual relationships, respect and admiration from colleagues, and mindful presentness to the simple, nonmaterial joys of everyday life.
–Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Pick up around the flat more. Do laundry weekly. Encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
–James Joyce, Irish writer, Paris, France

I’ve decided to focus inward during the coming year, on my spiritual growth—to take a more disciplined approach to my fasting, meditation, and yoga. Of course, it’s important that I not fall into the trap of being prideful about my own success in these undertakings, and I’m not going to cut off all worldly interaction. I would never, for example, give up the essential work I do counseling teens struggling with their gender identities. That work is just too important, as you know. Lives depend on it.
–Donald J. Trump

Sleep through Algebra class. Write “Dwayne is a Homo” in magic marker on the stall in the toilet in the boy’s locker room. Make comments about boobs during bellwork in that fuckwad Mr. Shepherd’s class.
–Steve Munchkin, high-school student, Riverview Academy

Make improvements to the electromagnetic fields that render photographs of our Earth-monitoring spaceships look like pictures of blurry pieplates.
–Zarg, commander of Earth Reconnaissance Fleet 1, Zeta Reticuli

Replace the nation’s teachers with soulless worksheets on a screen, more online standardized testing, and stack-ranking computer databases to relegate nonperformers to permanent positions at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
–Bill Gates

Robert D. Shepherd
Writing | Editing | Graphic Design

“E questo dubbio e impossibile a solvere

How I love these beautiful young people, with their energy, their talent, their idealism!

Please watch.

Steven Singer had a stellar year in 2017. He published a book and he posted some brilliant commentaries. He even got censored by Facebook, not once, but twice.

Here are his top ten posts.

His #1 Post was about the ignorance and arrogance of Betsy DeVos.

His #2 Post was about U.S. schools. He said, “They are NOT failing. They are among the best in the world.”



A few days ago, Peter Greene told us that his six-month-Old son William, a twin, was rushed to the hospital with a respiratory ailment. We all worried for him, sent our prayers and love.

Peter now reports that he and his wife took William home. He is recovered, reunited with his twin, and they are celebrating a Happy New Year.

We are very very happy for the Greene family.


As accountants burn the midnight oil trying to figure out what is in the opaque new tax law, one thing is certain: You can still give to your favorite charities and claim deductions for 2017.

Show Trump and Congress that you will not be deterred by their tax bill that favors the 1%.

Give to your favorite charities now and take advantage of the law that remains in effect until 2018 begins.

Give whatever you can to the Network for Public Education.

Join us as we keep up the fight for equitably funded public schools, with small class sizes, experienced teachers, and a genuine commitment to the children they serve. Join us as we fight privatization, high-stakes testing, and profiteering. Join to support our research and advocacy for what is best for children.

Your gift is fully tax-deductible.



in 2008-09, Bill Gates agreed to finance the creation, development, and implementation of Common Core standards. Why? He loves standardization. Estimates for his spending on the Common Core range from $200 Million to $2 Billion.

Most states adopted it, lured by the chance to win funding from Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top (states had to adopt the Common Core to be eligible to compete for a slice of $5 Billion in federal awards). But the backlash from every direction was so intense that most of the adopters renamed it, revised it, distanced themselves.

Bill Gates has never given up on the Core. He recently plopped a wee bit of money into a new effort to revive Common Core Testing. 

Under Duncan, the U.S. Department of Education spent $360 million to create two Testing consortia. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the  Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

“Only five of the original 24 states involved in the PARCC consortium are still using members. They include Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico and the District of Columbia. Louisana uses a hybrid of PARCC and another test.

“The other testing group, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) has seen massive attrition as well. The SBAC used to have 30 members.” SBAC is down to 12 full members.

Mercedes Schneider digs deeper into Bill Gates and his failing obsession here. 

Give it up, Bill. It’s over. It’s done. Stick a fork in it.


Our reader, who identifies herself as Carolmalaysia, posted this comment:

She writes:

I can understand why Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates need tax breaks. Thank you, Republicans, for making this possible.
The world’s 500 wealthiest people got $1 trillion richer in 2017 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The world’s richest people got a whopping $1 trillion richer, according to a new report from Bloomberg News. That’s about four times the gains they made last year.

That data comes courtesy of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which tracks and ranks the world’s 500 richest people. It attributes much of the economic growth to the stock market’s record-high year. (The MSCI World and Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes grew about 20 percent this year.)

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, clocked in as the world’s richest person, gaining $34.2 billion in wealth. (Mr. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates came in at No. 2. Mr. Bezos is worth about $99.6 billion, according to Bloomberg. Mr. Gates is valued at $91.3 billion…



Arthur Goldstein is a veteran high school teacher in New York City. In this post, he asserts that every child can learn, but there are obstacles put in the way of teachers.

First, students must be willing to make the effort to learn.

Second, class sizes must not be too large.

Third, it is absurd to expect every student to learn the same things in the same way at the same pace.

He writes:

”There may be exceptions, actually, but I really believe this in general. The main thing that stands in the way of that goal, though, is often administration. Of course not every student will cooperate, and of course not all students will pay attention, study, or do homework. Of course some will fail. For the most part, though, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t have passed.

“Every teacher I know has heard about differentiated instruction. I know some supervisors have demanded multiple lesson plans for different students. Sometimes supervisors assume teachers have nothing to do and unlimited time. This is not a good approach. We have a lot to do, our work is important, and it’s sad when we’re burdened with wasteful nonsense.

“Differentiation is a tough demand when you have 34 students in a class. Of course, class size tends to be overlooked by administration, and in fact when I go to grieve oversized classes, they fight to keep them that way. It’s an ironic attitude from an organization that claims to put, “Children First, Always.” Of course, the real meaning of that slogan is demoralizing and devaluing those of us who do the important work of teaching the children (the very children Moskowitz Academies would not accept on a bet).

“I’d argue that differentiation is a fundamental human trait. Unless you are in possession of a remarkable lack of sensitivity, you treat people differently. I see, in my classroom, students who will challenge me. I’ll let them do it, and I’ll challenge them back. I have nothing to lose, really. If they manage to out-talk me, I must be doing a great job. I also see very sensitive and reserved students, students who need my understanding, students for whom a harsh word would be hurtful and damaging…

”There is spectacular irony in the fact that our system demands that every one of our students take the same tests. I mean, if we’re going to talk differentiation, how can it possibly exist when final assessment is exactly the same for everyone?

“Every kid can learn, but not necessarily the same things in the same way. I’m glad to see that NY State has finally allowed some leeway for different students with different needs. It’s a step in the right direction, but it isn’t enough. Every kid can learn, but every kid can learn differently at different times. Some kids need more time than others. Some have learning disabilities. Some don’t know English. A full 10% of our kids are homeless, and as long as we continue to ignore that, we won’t be serving them no matter how often we give them the meaningless label of “college ready.”

“Learning is not binary, and it’s not multiple choice either. It really is individual. The sooner administrators can understand that simple notion, the better we will serve our children.”