Archives for category: Common Core

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of Mercedes Schneider’s wonderful blog!

I learned about it last night, too late to mark the actual blog birthday.

Mercedes is one of the sharpest, smartest voices of the Resistance to privatization. She is a hero of the Resistance thanks to her incisive, brilliant exposés of “reform” hoaxes.

She is a high school English teacher in Louisiana. She has a Ph.D. in statistics and research methodology. She could have been a professor but she wanted to teach high school students.

I started my blog in April 2012; she started hers in January 2013. We exchanged emails, and we met when I came to speak in Louisiana. We became fast friends. Mercedes has been a regular at annual conferences of the Network for Public Education, where she most recently gave lessons on how to obtain tax forms and other public data about “reform” groups, which sprout like weeds, with new names, lots of money, and the same set of actors.

Mercedes is relentless. While teaching and blogging, she wrote four books over the past decade.

In 2014, her first book was A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of Public Education, a vivid portrayal of the cast of characters who pursued privatization and teacher-bashing while calling themselves “reformers.” Might as well have called themselves “destroyers,” because that’s what they are.

In 2015, she published Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, with a foreword by Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education.

In 2016, she published School Choice: The End of Public Education?, with a foreword by Karen Lewis, the late and much-loved President of the Chicago Teachers Union.

In 2020, she gathered her advice about research and published A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies.

In her blogday post, she reflected on some positive developments in the past decade

Of course, the fight continues, but allow me to celebrate a few realities:

  • Bobby Jindal is no longer governor of Louisiana, and his 2016 presidential ambitions were a flop.
  • John White is no longer Louisiana state superintendent. In fact, he is not a superintendent anywhere at all.
  • Michelle Rhee is no longer DC school chancellor. She, too, is chancellor of nowhere at all.
  • Hanna Skandera is no longer NM school chief. She, too, is school chief of nowhere at all.
  • Joel Klein holds no sway over NYC schools. Chief of nowhere.
  • Teach for America (TFA) is losing its luster. Though it tries to reinvent itself, the bottom line is that the org depends upon class after class of willing recruits– a well that appears to be hitting bottom.

Yes, the fight continues. But today– today I take a moment to celebrate just a wee bit.

Happy Blogday to me.

I celebrate Mercedes too and happily name her to the honor roll of this blog.

Love you, Mercedes! May you keep on making a difference.

Nicholas Tampio is a professor of political science at Fordham University. As a father, he was outraged by the Common Core, so outraged that he wrote a book about it, “Common Core: National Education Standards and the threat to Democracy.”. In New York State, the person most responsible for the quick and unpopular rollout of Common Core was State Commissioner John King. King was recently named the Chancellor of the State University of New York.

Tampio expresses his view of King here.

On Dec. 5, the State University of New York appointed John B. King Jr. as the new chancellor. His biography may give us clues as to his possible plan to prioritize workforce training over the liberal arts for SUNY students.

King was state commissioner of education between 2011 and early 2015. Then-chancellor of the Board of Regents Merryl Tisch hired him to implement the state’s Race to the Top plan. The plan had interlocking parts. Schools teach the Common Core learning standards in reading, writing, and math. Students take end of year tests whose scores are entered into a database. Teachers are evaluated on students’ test score growth. Schools with low test scores get taken over by the state.

One year during his reign as commissioner, 155,000 New York students refused the end-of-year Common Core tests. To his critics, King was a hypocrite for sending his own children to a private Montessori school in Albany while he was rolling out the Common Core for other people’s children.

People in the test refusal movement, such as myself, were trying to explain why we did not want an education system for our children focused on standardized testing. Alas, King and Tisch dug in their heels, and the main planks of the Regents’ reform agenda remain in place….

Race to the Top incentivized states to build a P-20 longitudinal data system. This system tracks a child from pre-school (or pre-natal) until 8 years until after they graduate from high school. Nancy Zimpher, SUNY chancellor from 2011 to 2017, was a champion of creating career pathways. King may well continue her efforts to prepare children, from an early age, for a specific job that they will do as adults.

In 2018, King told the the Silicon Valley Education Policy Summit: “Whenever I go around the country, when I talk with employers, they talk about the challenge of finding the workforce they need. They talk about the challenge of finding folks with the right skills.”

Now, SUNY press release notes that King will work to connect “K-12 schools, higher education institutions, and employers to tailor high school curriculum to meet the needs of a modern-day workforce.”

To be clear, college students should learn a wide array of skills to prepare them for the workforce. And the Education Trust advocates commendable ideals of expanding college access, improving college graduation rates, and making college affordable, particularly for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

Still, we ought to think about what kind of future is in store for New York students enrolling in a state university or college.

In the body of the SUNY press release, there is little indication that King values faculty governance, research, or the liberal arts. SUNY could aspire to become a world-class higher education system with laboratories, research resources, study abroad programs, libraries, and so forth. But the press release will not assuage academics who want to teach subjects that do not directly translate into jobs.

SUNY enrollment fell 20% over the past decade, a trend that started before the pandemic. SUNY could aspire to make the school attractive to bright students who can afford to go to private liberal arts colleges or universities. But the early indications are that that is not the priority of SUNY’s leadership.

Over a decade ago, Tisch and King created a K-12 education system that would funnel students into tracks based on test scores. Now, they are working together to build the rest of the P-20 system that place those children into their assigned slots.

In the near future, rich New York kids will go to expensive out-of-state or private schools. And everyone else will be placed in a career pipeline that is hard to escape.

As educators know, the Common Core standards emphasize the reading of informational text and downgrade the reading of fiction and poetry. The CC standards actually set percentages for how much time should be devoted to informational text vs. literature. In the elementary grades, the CC advises, instruction should be divided 50%-50% between literary sources and informational text. In grade 8, the CCSS recommended division is 45%/55%, diminishing literature. In grade 12, it should be 30%-70%, a huge reduction in reading literature. These percentages are based on the federal NAEP test guidelines for test developers; they were not intended to be guidance for teachers. In fact, as Tom Loveless showed, the Common Core affected teaching and curriculum by downgrading literature. In 2021, Loveless published a book about the failure of the CC.

In the past few weeks, I have seen some strong refutations of this downgrading of literature. Literature sharpens the mind and memory, teaching readers to be attentive to experiences, feelings, insights.

In July, the New York Times published an article about how to prevent cognitive decline. It was a summary of a book by a noted neurologist. It offered several key findings based on brain research. One was: read more novels.

Hope Reese wrote:

As we age, our memory declines. This is an ingrained assumption for many of us; however, according to neuroscientist Dr. Richard Restak, a neurologist and clinical professor at George Washington Hospital University School of Medicine and Health, decline is not inevitable.

The author of more than 20 books on the mind, Dr. Restak has decades’ worth of experience in guiding patients with memory problems. “The Complete Guide to Memory: The Science of Strengthening Your Mind,” Dr. Restak’s latest book, includes tools such as mental exercises, sleep habits and diet that can help boost memory…

One early indicator of memory issues, according to Dr. Restak, is giving up on fiction. “People, when they begin to have memory difficulties, tend to switch to reading nonfiction,” he said.

Over his decades of treating patients, Dr. Restak has noticed that fiction requires active engagement with the text, starting at the beginning and working through to the end. “You have to remember what the character did on Page 3 by the time you get to Page 11,” he said.

A few days ago, an article by Washington Post technology columnist Molly Roberts opined that the failure to read novels was a serious error by Sam Bankman-Fried, whose crypto-currency businesses collapsed in November, evaporating billions of dollars in real currency.

The problem with SBF, she wrote, was that he doesn’t read books. He only reads quick, informational summaries.

She wrote:

Amid all the bombshell revelations about fallen crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried, a seemingly trivial bit of information might tell us everything we need to know: He doesn’t read books.

If you’re anticipating a caveat or qualifier, you’re as out of luck as the FTX investors whose money SBF allegedly lost. “I’m addicted to reading,” a journalist said to the erstwhile multibillionaire in a recently resurfaced interview. “Oh, yeah?” SBF replied. “I would never read a book.”

Now, there are plenty of people who don’t read. This does not indicate that they are likely to end up accused of having robbed thousands of others of their fortunes in a speculative adventure that is part financial experiment, part Ponzi scheme. Some prefer to listen; some prefer to do something else altogether. The thing is, the reason counts.

Behold, then, SBF’s reason: “I don’t want to say no book is ever worth reading, but I actually do believe something pretty close to that. … If you wrote a book, you f—ed up, and it should have been a six-paragraph blog post.”

Now, this is paragraph five of this column, so we’re running short on worthwhile words. But this means-to-an-end worldview might be the key to understanding SBF’s character, and his career. The point for SBF, it seems, isn’t the book itself but what he takes away from it — the instrumental knowledge that, presumably, he can gather more efficiently from a SparkNotes version of any opus than from the work itself.

Part of the problem might be an unspoken focus on nonfiction versus fiction, and maybe highly technical nonfiction in particular. After all, it’s easier to argue that you can learn everything you really need to know about the history of securities regulation from a cleverly constructed issue brief than it is to insist that if someone tells you Elizabeth Bennet ends up marrying Mr. Darcy, you’ve absorbed the sum total of “Pride and Prejudice.”

But no matter the type of book he’s talking about, what SBF is missing is the experience. You’re supposed to read not in spite of the digressions and diversions that stand between you and the denouement, but because of them; the little things aren’t extraneous but essential. And what you come out of a book with isn’t always supposed to be instrumental at all, at least not in any practical sense. You read to read; you don’t read to have read.

Editor’s note: the words in the Times article in bold print were emphasized by me. In the Washington Post article, the bold words appear in the original.

The State University of New York announced the appointment of John King as chancellor of its large system of universities across the state. He will receive a salary of $750,000 plus a monthly stipend of $12,500 for renting a place in New York City, plus many other perks. King was previously state commissioner of education in New York, where he oversaw the implementation of the Common Core standards and tests, which led to widespread opting out from the tests. He was subsequently appointed U.S. Secretary of Education for the last year of the Obama administration. Most recently, he led Education Trust. He is a strong proponent of standardized testing.

The New York State Allies for Public Education issued this press release:

Parents and advocates speak out against appointment of John King as SUNY Chancellor

Parents and advocates from throughout the state criticized the appointment of John King as SUNY Chancellor based upon his dismal record as NY State Education Commissioner. 

Said Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt­­­ Out, “As Education Commissioner, John King was a disaster,  pushing the invalid Common Core standards and redesigning the state tests to be excessively long, with reading passages far above grade level, and full of ambiguous questions. He worked to ensure that the majority of kids would fail the state tests and be labelled not college-ready, including in many districts where nearly every student attends college and does well there.  His actions led directly to massive opposition among parents and the largest testing opt out movement in the country.  Many schools are still dealing with the destructive impact of his policies; I would be very sorry if SUNY students are faced with a similar fate.”

Lisa Rudley­­, the executive director of NY State Allies for Public Education, said, “SUNY Faculty and students should be forewarned! John King consistently ignored the legitimate concerns of parents and teachers regarding the policies he pursued as NY State Education Commissioner, by rewriting the standards, imposing an arduous high stakes testing regime, and basing teacher evaluation on student test scores, none of which had any research behind it and all of which undermined the quality of education in our public schools.  This led to a no-confidence vote of the state teachers union, and if the state’s parents had been able to carry out such a vote, you can be sure they would have done so as well.“

Leonie Haimson, the co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, explained, “Under John King, New York State was the worst state in the country in its failure to protect student privacy and the last state to pull out of inBloom, the hugely invasive data-collection and data-sharing corporation created with $100 million of Gates Foundation funds.  New York was the only state whose Commissioner refused to listen to the outraged cries of parents concerning the plan to share the most intimate details of their children’s educational records with inBloom, which in turn planned to share the data with other ed tech corporations to build their programs around.  New York was also the only state in which an act of the Legislature was required to prohibit this plan from going forward.  Has John King learned his lesson regarding the importance of protecting student privacy?  For the sake of SUNY students, I surely hope so.” 

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Allie Pitchon of The Miami Herald reported that state officials told some publishers of math textbooks why the state would not buy their books. The initial announcement said that some math books were too “woke,” contained “critical race theory,” or included concepts from Common Core, which Governor Ron DeSantis turned against because former President Obama endorsed it. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the conservative education guru, also championed Common Core, but that did not mollify DeSantis’s rejection of it.

Publishers were left in the dark about why their math books offended DeSantis, and yesterday the state provided some details. The state informed publishers what had to make changed to get on the state approved list and gave them two weeks to resubmit.

The state posted a few examples on its website.

One example: A colored bar chart showing how levels of racial bias can vary by age group. It is part of a mathematical brain teaser involving polynomial models and is nestled on the bottom right-hand corner of page 56 in a pre-calculus online textbook consisting of more than 1,000 pages. The book is not identified on the state’s website

Two other examples that originated with public complaints make reference to Social Emotional Learning (SEL), a methodology wherein students try to get in touch with their emotions and demonstrate empathy for others.

Here is the woke bar graph:

Publishers were well aware, the Department of Education said, that their books would be rejected if they had even a trace of “critical race theory” or “social-emotional learning” or Common Core.

The press release provided a withering quote from Gov. Ron DeSantis: “It seems some publishers attempted to slap a coat of paint on an old house built on the foundation of Common Core, and indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students.”

Education Secretary Richard Corcoran chimed in, stating Florida was “focusing on providing … children with a world-class education without the fear of indoctrination or exposure to dangerous and divisive concepts in our classrooms.”

In a tweet, Christina Pushaw, the governor’s press secretary, went further, while addressing those who take issue with “book banning”: “The state declining to purchase certain textbooks isn’t banning them. If you want to teach your kid Woke Math, where “2+2=4” is white supremacy, you’re free to buy any CRT math textbook you want. You just cannot force Florida taxpayers to subsidize this indoctrination.” She’s right that local school districts can allocate at least part of their book buying budget toward textbooks not on the state’s approved list.

Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article260639257.html#storylink=cpy

Florida is spinning downward into a pit of political ignorance.

The state rejected 54 math texts on grounds that some contained critical race theory, others referred to Common Core concepts.

The rejected books make up a record 41% of the 132 books submitted for review, the Florida Department of Education said in a statement.

Of them, 28 were rejected because they “incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including [critical race theory],” the statement said.

Critical race theory has been described by scholars as an examination of racism and its impact through systems, such as legal, housing and education. However, it is typically not taught in K-12.

Twelve books were rejected because they did not meet Florida’s benchmark standards, while 14 books were rejected because they both included prohibited topics and failed to meet curriculum standards.

The names of the rejected books were not included.

Since the names of the rejected books were not revealed, no one can judge how dreadful or how innocuous the content is.

State House Member Anna Eskamani said, “I get it. The goal of math is to solve problems which the Republican Party of Florida doesn’t like to do.”

Among grade levels, 70% of the math materials for kindergarten through fifth grades were rejected. Twenty percent of the materials for grades 6-8 were rejected, and 35% of materials for grades 9-12 were rejected.

Bob Shepherd, a frequent contributor to the blog, is an education polymath. He has authored textbooks, written assessments, developed curriculum, and was most recently a classroom teacher in Florida. He has a long history in the education industry.

He explains here why standardized testing today is neither valid nor reliable.

He begins:

The dirty secret of the standardized testing industry is the breathtakingly low quality of the tests themselves. I worked in the educational publishing industry at very high levels for more than twenty years. I have produced materials for all the major textbook publishers and most of the standardized test publishers, and I know from experience that quality control processes in the standardized testing industry have dropped to such low levels that the tests, these days, are typically extraordinarily sloppy and neither reliable nor valid. They typically have not been subjected to anything like the validation and standardization procedures used, in the past, with intelligence tests, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and so on. The mathematics tests are marginally better than are the tests in ELA, US History, and Science, but they are not great. The tests in English Language Arts are truly appalling…

The Common Core tests, he says, are especially useless.

They are almost entirely content free. They don’t assess what students ought to know. Instead, they test, supposedly, a lot of abstract “skills”–the stuff on the Gates/Coleman Common [sic] Core [sic] bullet list, but as we shall see below, they don’t even do that.

Open the link and read on. This is a very important exposé by an expert.

Last week, I posted my thoughts on “Who Demoralized the Nation’s Teachers?” I sought to identify the people and organizations that spread the lie that America’s public schools were “broken” and that public school teachers were the cause. The critics slandered teachers repeatedly, claiming that teachers were dragging down student test scores. They said that today’s teachers were not bright enough; they said teachers had low SAT scores; and they were no longer “the best and the brightest.”

The “corporate reform” movement (the disruption movement) was driven in large part by the “reformers'” belief that public schools were obsolete and their teachers were the bottom of the barrel. So the “reformers” promoted school choice, especially charter schools, and Teach for America, to provide the labor supply for charter schools. TFA promised to bring smart college graduates for at least two years to staff public schools and charter schools, replacing the public school teachers whom TFA believed had low expectations. TFA would have high expectations, and these newcomers with their high SAT scores would turn around the nation’s schools. The “reformers” also promoted the spurious, ineffective and harmful idea that teachers could be evaluated by the test scores of their students, although this method repeatedly, consistently showed that those who taught affluent children were excellent, while those who taught children with special needs or limited-English proficiency or high poverty were unsatisfactory. “Value-added” methodology ranked teachers by the income and background of their students’ families, not by the teachers’ effectiveness.

All of these claims were propaganda that was skillfully utilized by people who wanted to privatize the funding of public education, eliminate unions, and crush the teaching profession.

The response to the post was immediate and sizable. Some thought the list of names and groups I posted was dated, others thought it needed additions. The comments of readers were so interesting that I present them here as a supplement to my original post. My list identified No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core as causes of demoralization that tied teachers to a standards-and-testing regime that reduced their autonomy as professionals. One reader said that the real beginning of the war on teachers was the Reagan-era report called “A Nation at Risk,” which asserted that American public schools were mired in mediocrity and needed dramatic changes. I agree that the “Nation at Risk” report launched the era of public-school bashing. But it was NCLB and the other “solutions” that launched teacher-bashing, blaming teachers for low test scores and judging teachers by their test scores. It should be noted that the crest of “reform” was 2010, when “Waiting for Superman” was released, Common Core was put into place, value-added test scores for teachers were published, and “reformers” like Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, and other became media stars, with their constant teacher-bashing. For what it’s worth, the National Assessment of Educational Progress flatlined from 2010 onwards. Test score gains, which were supposedly the point of all this “reform” activity, were non-existent on the nation’s most consequential test (no stakes attached).

Readers also blamed demoralization on teachers’ loss of autonomy, caused by federal laws and the testing imposed by them, and by the weakness of principals and administrators who did not protect teachers from the anti-education climate caused by NCLB, RTTT, ESSA, and the test-and-punish mindset that gripped the minds of the nation’s legislators and school leaders.

Readers said that my list left off important names of those responsible for demoralizing the nation’s teachers.

Here are readers’ additions, paraphrased by me:

Michelle Rhee, who was pictured on the cover of TIME magazine as the person who knew “How to Fix American Education” and lionized in a story by Amanda Ripley. Rhee was shown holding a broom, preparing to sweep “bad teachers” and “bad principals” out of the schools. During her brief tenure as Chancellor of D.C., she fired scores of teachers and added to her ruthless reputation by firing a principal on national television. For doing so, she was the Queen of “education reform” in the eyes of the national media until USA Today broke a major cheating scandal in the D.C. schools.

Joel Klein, antitrust lawyer who was chosen by Mayor Bloomberg to become the Chancellor of the New York City public schools, where he closed scores of schools because of their low test scores, embraced test-based evaluation of schools and teachers, and opened hundreds of small specialized schools and charter schools. He frequently derided teachers and blamed them for lagging test scores. He frequently reorganized the entire, vast school system, surrounding himself with aides with Business School graduates and Wall Street credentials. Under his leadership, NYC was the epitome of corporate reform, which inherently disrespected career educators.

Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, billionaire funder of charter schools and of candidates running for state or local offices who supported privatization of public schools. He claimed that under his leadership, the test-score gap between different racial gaps had been cut in half or even closed, but it wasn’t true. He stated his desire to fire teachers who couldn’t “produce” high test scores, while doubling the size of the classes of teachers who could. His huge public relations staff circulated the story of a “New York City Miracle,” but it didn’t exist and evaporated as soon as he left office.

Reed Hastings, billionaire funder of charter schools and founder of Netflix. He expressed the wish that all school boards would be eliminated. The charter school was his ideal, managed privately without public oversight.

John King, charter school leader who was appointed New York Commissioner of Education. He was a cheerleader for the Common Core and high-stakes testing. He made parents so angry by his policies that he stopped appearing at public events. He was named U.S. Secretary of Education, following Arne Duncan, in the last year of the Obama administration and continued to advocate for the same ill-fated policies as Duncan.

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education despised public schools, unions, and teachers. She never had a good word to say about public schools. She wanted every student to attend religious schools at public expense.

Eli Broad and the “academy” he created to train superintendents with his ideas about top-down management and the alleged value of closing schools with low test scores

ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), which writes model legislation for privatizing public schools by opening charters and vouchers and lowering standards for teachers and crushing unions. More than 2,000 rightwing state legislators belong to ALEC and get their ideas directly from ALEC about privatization and other ways to crush public schools and their teachers.

Rupert Murdoch, the media, Time, Newsweek, NY Times, Washington Post for their hostility towards public schools and their warm, breathless reporting about charter schools and Teach for America. The Washington Post editorialist is a devotee of charter schools and loved Michelle Rhee’s cut-throat style. TIME ran two cover stories endorsing the “reform” movement; the one featuring Michelle Rhee, and the other referring to one of every four public school teachers as a “rotten apple.” The second cover lauded the idea that teachers were the cause of low test scores, and one of every four should be weeded out. Newsweek also had a Rhee cover, and another that declared in a sentence repeated on a chalkboard, “We Must Fire Bad Teachers,” as though the public schools were overrun with miscreant teachers.

David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core, which undermined the autonomy of teachers and ironically removed teachers’ focus on content and replaced it with empty skills. The Common Core valued “informational text” over literature and urged teachers to reduce time spent teaching literature.

Margaret Raymond, of the Walton-funded CREDO, which evaluates charter schools.

Hanna Skandera, who was Secretary of Education in New Mexico and tried to import the Florida model of testing, accountability, and choice to New Mexico. That state has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the nation, and the Florida model didn’t make any difference.

Governors who bashed teachers and public schools, like Chris Christie of New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Gregg Abbott of Texas

“Researchers” like those from the Fordham Institute, who saw nothing good in public schools or their teaching

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, who turned Denver into a model of “reform,” with everything DFER wanted: charter schools and high-stakes testing.

Poorly behaving students and parents who won’t hold kids accountable for bad behavior

Campbell Brown and the 74

The U.S. Department of Education, for foisting terrible ideas on the nation’s schools and teachers, and state education departments and state superintendents for going along with these bad ideas. Not one state chief stood up and said, “We won’t do what is clearly wrong for our students and their teachers.”

The two big national unions, for going along with these bad ideas instead of fighting them tooth and nail.

And now I will quote readers’ comments exactly as they wrote them, without identifying their authors (they know who they are):

*Rightwing organizations like the American Enterprise Institute, (AEI), the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Heritage Foundation, even the allegedly Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP) for publishing white papers masquerading as education research that promotes privatization.

*Wall St moguls who invented Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) to gamble on & profit from preK student test scores.

*Rogues Gallery. One body blow after another. A systematic 💦 water boarding with no respite. And then we add the Broad Foundation who sent Broad-trained “leadership” so drunk on arrogance and ignorance that the term “School Yard Bully” just doesn’t capture it.
Operating with the Imprimatur and thin veneer of venture capital, plutocratic philanthropy, these haughty thugs devastated every good program they laid eyes on. Sinking their claws instinctively into the intelligent, effective and cultured faculty FIRST.A well orchestrated, heavily scripted Saturday Night Massacre.

*Congress and the Presidents set the stage, but the US Department of Education was instrumental in making it all happen. They effectively implemented a coherent program to attack, smear and otherwise demoralize teachers. And make no mistake, it was quite purposeful

*This list is incomplete without members of Democrats for Education Reform. Add in Senator Ted Kennedy, whose role in the passage of No Child Left Behind was critical. Same for then Congressman and future Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who noted (bragged!) in his recent autobiography that he was essential in keeping President George W. Bush on track with NCLB.

*Let’s not forget Senate Chair Patty Murray. She has been an important player in keeping the worse of Ed Reform legislation alive.

*You have presented a rogue’s gallery of failed “reformers” that have worked against the common good. In addition to those mentioned, there has also been an ancillary group of promoters and enablers that have undermined public education including billionaire think tanks, foundations and members of both political parties. These people continue to spread lies and misinformation, and no amount of facts or research is able to diminish the drive to privatize. While so called reformers often hide behind an ideological shield, they are mostly about the greedy pursuit of appropriating the education that belongs to the people and transferring its billions in value into the pockets of the already wealthy. So called education reform is class warfare.

*The Clintons, whose 1994 reauthorization of ESEA set the stage for NCLB

*Don’t forget the so called ‘liberal’ media, publications such as the New York Times and the Boston Globe who have published pro charter piece after pro charter piece, while simultaneously dumping all over public schools

*I’d like to include a cast of editorialists like George Will, Bill Rhoden, and many others, who have parroted the plutocratic-backed Ed Reform line. Armstrong Williams would certainly be part of this.

*Going back even further into the origins of this madness, I would add to Diane’s excellent rogues gallery those unknown bureaucrats in state departments of education who replaced broad, general frameworks/overall strategic objectives with bullet lists of almost entirely content-free “standards” that served as the archetype of the Common [sic] Core [sic] based on the absurd theory that we should “teach skills” independent of content, all of which led, ironically, to trivialization of and aimlessnessness in ELA pedagogy and curricula and to a whole generation of young English teachers who themselves NOW KNOW NEXT TO NOTHING OF THE CONTENT OF THEIR SUBJECT, typified by the English teacher who told one of the parents who regularly contributes comments to this blog, “I’m an English teacher, so I don’t teach content.” So, today, instead of teaching, say, Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” as part of a coherent and cumulative unit on common structures and techniques and genres of poetry, one gets idiotic test-practice exercises on “inferencing” and “finding the main idea,” with any random piece of writing as the “text.”

*It’s driven by how teachers have been treated the past 4-5 years, especially during the pandemic. Teachers are first responders. We should have been on the list of first-to-be-vaccinated. Schools should have strict mask and vaccine mandates. Teachers are professional educators. We should not be told what and how to teach by ignorant, conspiracy-driven MAGA parents. Public education is a cornerstone of democracy, and we teachers are motivated by a sense of civic duty. We are demoralized by attempts to destroy public education, led by anti-education bible-thumping “leaders” like Betsy DeVos and (in my home state) Frank Edelblut. Public education is being dismantled by gleeful right-wingers, while naive, well-intentioned moderates wring their hands and do little to defend it. It’s tiring to be under constant attack on the front lines, with no support. That’s why teachers are leaving today.

*One tiny example of a routine phenomenon. Teachers got the message pretty clearly: They were at the bottom of the pecking order. The absolute bottom. Micromanaged and undercut at every turn.Excellent points. The heavy handed top-down, bureaucratic demands for “data,” basically serve one goal, to justify the existence of administration.Don’t forget the voracious appetite of publishing companies…We had a district administrator prance around in our “professional; development days” tell use could not read novels or other picture books to the students…ONLY USE PEARSON.”And then 7 or so years later, the district made us THROW OUT every book from Pearson, and they bought new crap curriculum…that program was written by testing industry, not educators, I think it was “Benchmark,” real junk.

*I’d like to mention how I often lose my student teachers when they see the edTPA requirement. They switch majors, and the teaching pool gets even smaller.

*After Skamdera in NM came the TFA VAM sweetheart Christopher Ruszkowski. At least he had 3 years in a classroom, Skammy had none, but the Florida model, you know?

*Children’s behavior is in large part in response to the drill and kill curriculum and endless testing and teaching to the test that has been driving public education since NCLB and the back-to-basics movement that ushered it in. No room for creativity, no room for self expression, no room for innovation. Highly scripted Curriculum like Open Court turned children into little automatons, barking their answers like well trained dogs and turned teachers into task masters. It was a drive to dummy down the curriculum for fear of teaching too much free thinking. And a drive to turn teachers into testing machines and teacher technicians, easily replaced by anyone who can walk in a classroom and pick up the manual. Only it doesn’t work. It was and is developmentally inappropriate and the resulting rebellion in the classrooms if proof of that. No wonder teachers are leaving in droves!

*Under threat of closure of the MA school board in the mid 1800s, Horace Mann turned to the cheapest labor he could find, literate northern females, and deployed the Protestant ethic “teacher as a calling” trope to institute state free-riding on teachers (as opposed to the free-riding of which teachers are accused). Everything in this piece is correct except for the “almost” in the final paragraph. There’s no “almost” about it … free-riding on teachers is an operational feature of a system imported from Prussia, designed to produce cheap, obedient labor by underpaying women. As of 2012, teachers would need to make around 1/3 higher salaries to be paid on the same level as their professional peers. Everyone mentioned in the article is simply this generation’s enactment of the long-standing, systemic class war that preys on gender and race to continue and exacerbate inequity. While naming the current situation is very important, we also need to discuss, address, and shift these deep issues.

*It’s the boiled frog effect over the last 50 years that began as a response to mini-courses, sixties curriculum, obsession over college attendance, professors and teachers walking out to protest with their students, Viet Nam… and the Civil Rights Act. Since 1964, Intentional segregation influenced Local, state, and federal decision making on transportation, health care, insurance, zoning, housing, education funding, hiring, and more. When whites fled the cities and insured two sides of the tracks in towns and two systems evolved, quick fixes became that accumulation of bad decisions and leadership – and slowly, slowly, deterioration became acceptable.

*The list is not dated. It’s illustrative of the accumulation of negativity, quick-fix seeking, acronym-filled, snake-oil salesmen, desperate mayors and governors, obsession with rankings, publisher fixation on common core, NCLB votes hidden under the shadow of 9/11, and keep-everyone-happy state and national professional organizations.

*At the end of 2021 it is far right and left of politics and their rhetoric like CRT and homophobic slurs. So much for especially the “Christian Right.” In their god’s (yes lower case since not The Lord Jesus Christ’s New Testament words of love) name they exclude instead of include to share the good news/word.

*Data, data, data. Yesterday, I commented that I feel sympathetic toward the anti-CRT petitioners. I do. They’re not bad people. They’re just afraid of changing social rules. Their actions are demoralizing, but not dehumanizing. Wealthy corporations and individuals on the other hand , through their untaxed foundations, gave carrots to governments the world over to give the stick to education so that greater profits could be made through privatization and data monetizing. I was once called a 2. I was once labeled the color grey. I was numbered, dehumanized by test score data in an attempt to make education like Uber or Yelp. Not just demoralized, dehumanized. It’s not just who but what dehumanized teachers. It was the wrongheaded idea that education can be measured and sold by the unit. That idea was insidious. The marketing ploy to make my students into consumers who consider their efforts junk unless they are labeled with the right number or dashboard color was insidious. I have no sympathy for the investor class. They are not people with whom I disagree about social issues; they are hostile, corporate takeover wolves out to tear the flesh of the formerly middle and deeply impoverished classes for profit. Not one of the investors in education “reform” or any of their revolving door bureaucrats is any friend of mine. The list of who is long. The list of what is short.

*Jonah Edelman (Founder, Stand on Children); brother Josh Edelman (Gates Foundation: Empowering-?!–Effective Teaching; SEED Charter Schools); Charles & David Koch. Pear$on Publishing monopoly&, of course, ALEC (interfering in our business for FIFTY long years!)

Recently the daughter of one of our regular readers (Roy Turrentine) posted a comment.

She wrote in response to the reports of politician

Bob Shepherd was delighted by her writing, and he offered her a reading list of some of his favorites (unlikely that these are on the Common Core reading list, since CCSS privileges “informational text” over fiction).

Bob wrote:

Have you read Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, yet? I fell head over heels in love with that book when I was your age. And take a crack at 1984, by Orwell, which may be the most important book to be read at this time in history. And here, a few suggestions for short fiction:

MY CANDIDATES FOR THE BEST SHORT STORIES EVER WRITTEN

Asimov, Isaac. “The Last Question”
Atwood, Margaret. “Bread”
Benet, Stephen Vincent. “By the Waters of Babylon”
Bierce, Ambrose. “Chickamauga”
Bierce, Ambrose. “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”
Borges, Jorge Luis, “The Library of Babel”
Bostrom, Nick. “The Dragon Tyrant”
Bradbury Ray. “The Veldt”
Bradbury, Ray. “The End of the World”
Bradbury,. Ray. “There Will Come Soft Rains”
Chiang, Ted. “Stories of Our Lives”
Chopin, Kate. “Story of an Hour”
Crane, Stephen. “A Mystery of Heroism”
Du Maurier, Daphne. “The Birds”
Faulkner, William. “The Bear”
Gallico, Paul. “The Snowgoose”
Goldstein, Rebecca. “The Legacy of Raizel Kaidish”
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Rappaccini’s Daughter”
Hathorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown”
Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants”
Hemingway, Ernest. “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”
Hemingway, Ernest. “The Long Wait”
Liu, Ken. “An Advanced Readers’ Picture Book of Comparative Cognition”
Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery”
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”
O’Conner, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”
Roth, Phillip. “The Conversion of the Jews”
Thurber, James. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
Tolstoy, Leo. “The Life and Death of Ivan Illych”
Updike, John. “A & P”
Updike, John. “The Music School”
Vonnegut, Kurt. “Who Am I This Time?”
Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use”

Who is responsible for the widespread teaching exodus? Who demoralized America’s teachers, the professionals who work tirelessly for low wages in oftentimes poor working conditions? Who smeared and discouraged an entire profession, one of the noblest of professions?

Let’s see:

Federal legislation, including No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

George W. Bush; Margaret Spellings; Rod Paige (who likened the NEA to terrorists); the Congressional enablers of NCLB; Sandy Kress (the mastermind behind the harsh, punitive and ultimately failed NCLB).

Erik Hanushek, the economist who has long advocated for firing the teachers whose students get low test scores; the late William Sanders, the agricultural economist who created the methodology to rank teachers by their students’ scores; Raj Chetty, who produced a study with two other economists claiming that “one good teacher” would enhance the lifetime earnings of a class by more than $200,000; the reporters at the Los Angeles Times who dreamed up the scheme of rating teachers by student scores abd publishing their ratings, despite their lack of validity (one LA teacher committed suicide).

Davis Guggenheim, director of the deeply flawed “Waiting for Superman”; Bill Gates and his foundation, who funded the myth that the nation’s schools would dramatically improve by systematically firing low-ranking teachers (as judged by their students’ scores), funded “Waiting for Superman,” funded the Common Core, funded NBC’s “Education Nation,” which gave the public school bashers a national platform for a few days every year, until viewers got bored and the program died; and funded anything that was harmful to public schools and their teachers; President Obama and Arne Duncan, whose Race to the Top required states to evaluate teachers by their students’ scores and required states to adopt the Common Core and to increase the number of charter schools; Jeb Bush, for unleashing the Florida “model” of punitive accountability; and many more.

We now know that ranking teachers by their students’ test scores does not identify the best and the worst teachers. It is ineffective and profoundly demoralizing.

We now know that charter schools do not outperform public schools, as many studies and NAEP data show.

We now know that public schools are superior to voucher schools, and that the voucher schools have high attrition rates.

We now know that Teach for America is not a good substitute for well-prepared professional teachers.

Who did I leave out?

We have long known that students need experienced teachers and reasonable class sizes (ideally less than 25) to do their best.

Given the vitriolic attacks on teachers and public schools for more than 20 years, it almost seems as though there is a purposeful effort to demoralize teachers and replace them with technology.