Archives for category: Teachers and Teaching

The Rutherford County School Board in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, rejected the American Classical Academy by a vote of 6-1. The charter school is Art of a chain affiliated with Hillsdale College. Board members were steaming about the derisive comments about teachers and teacher-training colleges recently made by Hillsdale President Larry Arnn. Arnn said in the presence of Governor Bill Lee: “The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.” Lee did not come to the defense of Tennessee’s 80,000 teachers or its teacher education programs. He praised Arnn’s “vision.”

Educators across the state paid attention. So did school boards. And that is why a charter school affiliated with Arnn’s college did not get a charter in Rutherford County.

That group is affiliated with Hillsdale College, whose president was recently caught on hidden camera badmouthing teachers and the colleges that train them.

Board chair Tiffany Johnson said the people who would have run the school had privately tried to distance themselves from Hillsdale and those remarks, but they decided not to show up to defend themselves.

“The comments that were made by the president of Hillsdale were deeply egregious,” Johnson told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

“We have wonderful teachers, remarkable educators. We have a fantastic system. What I saw, I didn’t like — and I gave them an opportunity to address them and lay out for us that they were not a part of those comments. So I had a commitment until shortly before the meeting that they were going to be here to address the board.”

American Classical Academy could now appeal to the Tennessee Public Charter Commission, which has the authority to override local school boards.

A review committee had recommended rejection of the application based on a number of factors, including lack of appropriate detail about how the school would serve special-education students and English language learners.

The group amended its application to distinguish itself from Hillsdale College, but reviewers concluded “the separation appears to be superficial.”

“The ties to Hillsdale have become increasingly problematic and heightened our review committee’s concerns of applicant intent due to comments recently made by Hillsdale’s president, Larry Arnn,.” reviewers wrote.

Mamie Krupczak Allegretti is a regular reader and commenter to the blog. She wrote the following comment, which is good advice from a veteran to new and experienced teachers.

Anytime a person is burned out, demoralized and ready to quit his/her job, something is wrong. It’s not just that something is wrong with the way the institution is run (which there are many), but there can also be something wrong with the way the person is approaching the job.

Many teachers have what I call “Mamma bird syndrome.” They spend they time driving themselves into the ground giving and giving until they are exhausted. People commend them for outstanding work but inside they are tired and resentful.

If you want to be a teacher, it doesn’t seem that the craziness of the institution is going to change anytime soon. So if you really want to teach, you have to find ways to protect yourself, conserve and pace your energy, and lead a balanced life.

There are 3 rules to live by:

1. let go,

2. learn to say “no,” and

3. prioritize what you value.

What I am really getting at here is learning to create boundaries for yourself. Let go of things and situations over which you have no control and are not in your job description. Sure, there are days when you may be able to do more, but monitor yourself and your energy. Learn the boundaries of your energy and then decide what you are willing to give.

Learn to say no to extra duties and requests. Prioritize what you value. If you value excellent lesson plans, put your energy into that. But know that if you try to do it all, something will give and it will most likely be your health – mental and/or physical.

Your school day ends at a certain time. Keep to that time. If you have to work at home, set a boundary of say 45 minutes. You need to remember that this is a job and you need to have a life outside of school.

It sounds hard-nosed to say that, but it is the truth. If they had their way, the school district would want you to work 24/7. So it’s up to you, the teacher, to set boundaries. Teacher duties have increased over time because teachers have accepted them.

But think about it. Would you ask your doctor or lawyer to do things that were outside his or her job? We now want teachers to be parents, friends, therapists, mentors, counselors, mental health experts, financial helpers, etc. to students.

So, I’m not saying that teachers should never go above and beyond at times but when fatigue, resentment and a desire to flee show up, something in yourself needs to change. I think these are the biggest lessons young teachers (and even old) have to learn.

Tom Ultican, chronicler of the Destroy Public Education movement and retired teacher of physics and advanced mathematics, investigated a strange occurrence in the District of Columbia: Two respected, experienced black educators were fired for refusing to adopt the practices of the so-called Relay “Graduate School” of Education. Relay is not a real graduate school. It has no campus, no research, no graduate programs. It was created by charter schools and recognized by their allies so that charter teachers could teach the tricks of raising test scores to other charter teachers and enable them to get a “master’s degree” from people who had never earned doctorate degrees. Relay’s textbook is Doug Lemov’s “Teach Like a Champion.” Relay does not offer the wide range of courses offered in real graduate schools.

He begins:

School leaders and teachers in Washington DC’s wards 7 and 8 are being forced into training given by Relay Graduate School of Education (RSGE). West of the Anacostia River in the wealthier whiter communities public school leader are not forced. When ward 7 and 8 administrators spoke out against the policy, they were fired. Two of them Dr. Carolyn Jackson-King and Marlon Ray, formerly of Boone Elementary School are suing DC Public Schools (DCPS) for violating the Whistleblower Protection Act and the DC Human Rights Act.

Jackson-King and Ray are emblematic of the talented black educators with deep experience that are being driven out of the Washington DC public school system. They are respected leaders in the schools and the community. When it was learned Jackson-King was let go the community protested loudly and created a web site publishing her accomplishments.

In 2014, Jackson-King arrived at the Lawrence E. Boone Elementary school when it was still named Orr Elementary. The school had been plagued by violence and gone through two principals the previous year. Teacher Diane Johnson recalled carrying a bleeding student who had been punched to the nurse’s office. She remembered fighting being a daily occurrence before Jackson-King took over.

In 2018, Orr Elementary went through a $46 million dollar renovation. The community and school board agreed that the name should be changed before the building reopened. Orr was originally named in honor of Benjamin Grayson Orr, a D.C. mayor in the 19th century and slave owner. The new name honors Lawrence Boone a Black educator who was Orr Elementary’s principal from 1973 to 1996.

Jackson-King successfully navigated the campus violence and new construction. By 2019, Boon Elementary was demonstrating solid education progress as monitored by the district’s star ratings. Boone Elementary is in a poor minority neighborhood. It went from a 1-star out of 5 rating when Jackson-King arrived to a 3-star rating her last year there….

Marlon Ray was Boone’s director of strategy and logistics. He worked there for 13-years including the last six under Principal Jackson-King. Despite his long history in the district, Ray was apparently targeted after filing a whistleblower complaint over Relay Graduate School. Ray questioned RGSE’s relationship with DCPS, the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. He implicated Mary Ann Stinson, the DCPS Cluster II instructional superintendent who wrote Jackson-King’s district Impact review that paved the way for her termination. In the lawsuit, Ray alleges that DCPS leadership responded by requiring him to work in person five days a week in the early months of the pandemic while most of his colleagues, including Jackson-King’s replacement Kimberly Douglas, worked remotely. This continued well into the spring of 2021.

In October of 2020, Ray joined with about 30 Washington Teacher’s Union members, parents and students to rally against opening school before it was safe. Ray reported that he received a tongue lashing from a DCPS administrator for being there and then 2-hours later receive a telephoned death threat. He reports the caller saying, “This is Marcus from DCPS; you’re done, you’re through, you’re finished, you’re dead.”

Ray’s position was eliminated in June, 2021…

In Washington DC, the mayor has almost dictatorial power over public education. Therefore, when the mayor becomes convinced of the illusion that public schools are failing, there are few safeguards available to stop the policy led destruction.

In the chart above, notice that all of the key employees she chose to lead DC K-12 education have a strong connection to organizations practicing what Cornell Professor Noliwe Rooks labeled “segrenomics.” In her book Cutting School (Page 2), she describes it as the businesses of taking advantage of separate, segregated, and unequal forms of education to make a profit selling school. Bowser’s first Deputy Mayor for Education, Jennifer Niles, was a charter school founder. Her second Deputy Mayor, Paul Kihn, attended the infamous school privatization centric Broad Academy. She inherited Kaya Henderson as DCPS Chancellor and kept her for five years. Kaya Henderson, a Teach For America alum, was the infamous Michelle Rhee’s heir apparent. The other two Chancellors that Bowser chose, Antwan Wilson and Lewis Ferebee, also attended the Broad Academy and both are members of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change….

The State Superintendent of Education who awarded $7.5 million in public education dollars to five private companies was Hanseul Kang. Before Bowser appointed her to the position Kang was a member of the Broad Residency class of 2012-2014. At that time, she was serving as Chief of Staff for the Tennessee Department of Education while her fellow Broadie, Chris Barbic, was setting up the doomed to fail Tennessee Achievement School District. In 2021, Bowser had to replace Kang because she became the inaugural Executive Director of the new Broad Center at Yale. Bowser chose Christina Grant yet another Broad trained education privatization enthusiast to replace Kang.

For background information on the Broad Academy see Broad’s Academy and Residencies Fuel the Destroy Public Education Agenda.)

Bowser and her team are in many ways impressive, high achieving and admirable people. However, their deluded view of public education and its value is dangerous; dangerous for K-12 education and dangerous for democracy.

“Teach like it is 1885”

The root of the push back against Relay training by ward 7 and 8 educators is found in the authoritarian approach being propagated. NPR listed feedback from dismayed teachers bothered by instructions such as:

  • “Students must pick up their pens within three seconds of starting a writing assignment.
  • “Students must walk silently, in a straight line, hands behind their backs, when they are outside the classroom.
  • “Teachers must stand still, speak in a ‘formal register’ and square their shoulders toward students when they give directions.”

Dr. Jackson-King noted“Kids have to sit a certain way, they have to look a certain way. They cannot be who they are. Those are all the ways they teach you in prison — you have to walk in a straight line, hands behind your back, eyes forward.”

RSGE does not focus on education philosophy or guidance from the world’s foremost educators. Rather its fundamental text is Teach Like a Champion which is a guidebook for no excuses charter schools.

In her book Scripting the Moves Professor Joanne Golann wrote:

No excuses charter school founders established RGSE. In the post “Teach Like its 1885.” published by Jenifer Berkshire, Layla Treuhaft-Ali wrote, “Placed in their proper racial context, the Teach Like A Champion techniques can read like a modern-day version of the *Hampton Idea,* where children of color are taught not to challenge authority under the supervision of a wealthy, white elite….”

‘“Ultimately no-excuses charters schools are a failed solution to a much larger social problem,’ education scholar Maury Nation has argued. ‘How does a society address systemic marginalization and related economic inequalities? How do schools mitigate the effects of a system of White supremacy within which schools themselves are embedded?’ Without attending to these problems, we will not solve the problems of educational inequality. ‘As with so many school reforms,’ Nation argues, ‘no-excuses discipline is an attempt to address the complexities of these problems, with a cheap, simplistic, mass-producible, ‘market-based’ solution.’” (Page 174)

Legitimate education professionals routinely heap scorn on RSGE. Relay practices the pedagogy of poverty and as Martin Haberman says,

“In reality, the pedagogy of poverty is not a professional methodology at all. It is not supported by research, by theory, or by the best practice of superior urban teachers. It is actually certain ritualistic acts that, much like the ceremonies performed by religious functionaries, have come to be conducted for their intrinsic value rather than to foster learning.”

So these two courageous black professionals were fired for refusing to accept the harsh “no excuses” pedagogy designed for black children, designed to make them servile and obedient.

Their jobs should be promptly restored. Mayor Bowser has been captured by the forces of privatization and conformity. She should wake up. Some of the “no excuses” charter schools have recognized the harm they do to black children by treating them as clay to be molded, instead of human beings with vitality and interests who need to discover their talents and the joy of learning.

The following post was written by Jill Barshay and reposted by Larry Cuban on his blog. It is a response to the claim by various economists that teachers don’t improve after three to five years. This claim has been used to promote Teach for America, despite their inexperience and lack of substantive teacher education. It has also been used, as the previous post about North Carolina shows, to claim that teachers should not be paid based on their experience. It’s a pernicious idea, and I thank Larry Cuban for featuring this debunking of the conventional but wrong “wisdom.”

Jill Barshay writes:

The idea that teachers stop getting better after their first few years on the job has become widely accepted by both policymakers and the public. Philanthropist and former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates popularized the notion in a 2009 TED Talk when he said “once somebody has taught for three years, their teaching quality does not change thereafter.” He argued that teacher effectiveness should be measured and good teachers rewarded.

That teachers stop improving after three years was, perhaps, an overly simplistic exaggeration but it was based on sound research at the time. In a 2004 paper, economist Jonah Rockoff, now at Columbia Business School, tracked how teachers improved over their careers and noticed that teachers were getting better at their jobs by leaps and bounds at first, as measured by their ability to raise their students’ achievement test scores. But then, their effectiveness or productivity plateaued after three to 10 years on the job. For example, student achievement in their classrooms might increase by the same 50 points every year. The annual jump in their students’ test scores didn’t grow larger. Other researchers, including Stanford University’s Eric Hanushek, found the same.

But now, a new nonprofit organization that seeks to improve teaching, the Research Partnership for Professional Learning, says the conventional wisdom that veteran teachers stop getting better is one of several myths about teaching. The organization says that several groups of researchers have since found that teachers continue to improve, albeit at a slower rate, well into their mid careers.

“It’s not true that teachers stop improving,” said John Papay, an associate professor of education and economics at Brown University. “The science has evolved.”

Papay cited his own 2015 study with Matt Kraft, along with a 2017 study of middle school teachers in North Carolina and a 2011 study of elementary and middle school teachers. These analyses all found that teachers continue to improve beyond their first five years. Papay and Kraft calculated that teachers increased student performance by about half as much between their 5th and 15th year on the job as they did during the first five years of their career. The data are unclear after year 15.

Using test scores to measure teacher quality can be controversial. Papay also looked atother measures of how well teachers teach, such as ratings of their ability to ask probing questions, generate vibrant classroom discussions and handle students’ mistakes and confusion. Again, Papay found that more seasoned teachers were continuing to improve at their profession beyond the first five years of their career. Old dogs do appear to learn new tricks.

The debate over whether teachers get better with experience has had big implications. It has prompted the public to question union pay schedules. Why pay teachers more who’ve been on the job longer if they’re no better than a third-year teacher? It has encouraged school systems to fire “bad” teachers because ineffective teachers were thought to be unlikely to improve. It has also been a way of justifying high turnover in the field. If there’s no added value to veteran teachers, why bother to hang on to them, or invest more in them? Maybe it’s okay if thousands of teachers leave the profession every year if we can replace them with loads of new ones who learn the job fast.

So, how is it that highly regarded quantitative researchers could be coming to such different conclusions when they add up the numbers?

It turns out that it’s really complicated to calculate how much teachers improve every year. It’s simple enough to look up their students’ test scores and see how much they’ve gone up. But it’s unclear how much of the test score gain we can attribute to a teacher. Imagine a teacher who had a classroom of struggling students one year followed by a classroom of high achievers the next year. The bright, motivated students might learn more no matter who their teacher was; it would be misleading to say this teacher had improved.

A friend sent this video, which appears on TikTok. The person in the video is Katie Peters, and she teaches in Toledo. Several readers gave me her name, her Twitter handle, and her website address (http://www.katiepeters.org/). I wrote a message to her on Twitter to thank her, and she replied, “I am so lucky to get to do this job everyday.”

Texas has a teacher shortage, but that doesn’t stop the state from piling new requirements on teachers.

Brian Lopez of The Texas Tribune reports:

It was one thing to ask Texas teachers — during an ongoing teacher’s shortage — to make extra room in their busy home routines for online classroom teaching for months, then to monitor the latest in vaccine and mask mandates while waiting and adjusting yet again for a return to the classroom.

But now, as teachers attempt to restore all the learning lost by their students during the pandemic, the Texas Legislature has insisted those who teach grades K-3 need to jump another hurdle: they need to complete a 60-to-120 hour course on reading, known as Reading Academies, if they want to keep their jobs in 2023.

And they must do it on their own time, unpaid.

For many like 38-year-old Christina Guerra, a special education teacher in the Rio Grande Valley, the course requirement is the final straw and it is sending teachers like her and others out the door.

“I don’t want to do it,” she said. “I refuse to, and if they fire me, they fire me.”

Course adds to teacher workload

In 2019, the Legislature wanted to improve student reading scores and came up with a requirement that teachers complete this reading skills course. Every teacher working in early elementary grades — kindergarten through third — along with principals, had until the end of the 2022-23 school year to complete it.

Governor Greg Abbott is not satisfied with the performance of Texas students on NAEP. But Texas has a growing crisis of teacher shortages.

But the pressures of the pandemic have forced many teachers to reconsider whether to remain in the profession. From 2010 to 2019, the number of teachers certified in Texas fell by about 20%, according to a University of Houston report.

After recent reports of more teacher departures, Gov. Greg Abbott formed a task force to address teacher shortages.

But teachers and public education advocates alike believe the state should hold itself accountable for the teacher departures, especially when adding requirements that add to teacher workload.

“I just feel like a lemon just squeezing, squeezing, squeezing,” said Guerra, a special education teacher in La Joya Independent School District. “But there’s no more, there’s nothing that you squeeze out anymore. There’s no more juice.”

Guerra plans to leave the profession at the end of the school year.

One way to increase the teacher shortage is to crack down on teachers, demanding more while paying less.

Peter Greene was pleased to learn that the number of applications to Teach for America has steadily declined since 2013. In a way, it’s not surprising because “the entire teaching professional pipeline has been drying up.” TFA blames the pandemic but it’s decline started long before the pandemic.

TFA used to boast that it’s ill-trained recruits were superior to those with professional training, even to experienced teachers (who allegedly did not have “high expectations” like TFA). But you don’t hear much of that boasting any more.

Greene writes:

TFA has long been mocked for putting their people in classrooms with little training or support, but the damage done by unqualified rookies in the classroom has been dwarfed by the damage done by their products after they leave the classroom. TFA has unleashed a small army of “former teachers” and “education experts” who spent two whole years in the classroom (knowing full well that they weren’t going to stay, and therefor had no real reason to try to learn and develop professional understanding) but now feel qualified to tell actual teachers what to do. It has become predictably cliche–scratch almost every clueless edupreneur and amateur hour policy leader who claims to have started out as a teacher, and you find a TFA product.

Worse, for the past few years they’ve been leaning into that part of their mission, that “spend a couple of years in a classroom as a way to launch your career as a policy leader and education thought leader who can spread the gospel of reformsterism.” This has turned out to be the most damaging legacy of TFA, and the fewer people they recruit to carry it on, the better of the world of US education will be.

Chalkbeat reports that Teach for America will field the smallest number of recruits in 15 years.


The organization expects to place just under 2,000 teachers in schools across the country this coming fall. That’s just two-thirds of the number of first-year teachers TFA placed in schools in fall 2019, and just one-third of the number it sent into the field at its height in 2013.

The latest drops are a continuation of a years-long trend. Still, it’s a striking decline for an organization that’s played a prominent role in American debates about how to improve education and how to staff schools that often struggle to attract and retain teachers….

Alongside declines in enrollment at traditional teacher prep programs and other nontraditional programs, it’s also more evidence that interest in becoming an educator in the U.S. has fallen.

TFA has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government and big philanthropies. Its founder Wendy Kopp used to say that better teachers would end poverty. It wasn’t true then and its not true now, nor is it accurate to say that TFA supplied “better” teachers than career educators.

The Network for Public Education posted this article by Mark Perna, which originally appeared in Forbes.

Mark C. Perna: Why Education Is About To Reach A Crisis Of Epic Proportions

If you missed this widely shared article the first time it was burning around the internet, here’s a chance to catch up. This piece by Mark C. Perna for Forbes lays out just how bad the current crisis is.

In order to reach and teach students effectively, teachers must forge a human connection with them. Today’s younger generations simply will not move forward in their education and career journey without that connection. This is a non-negotiable; it’s just who they are.

The vast majority of teachers truly want to forge that meaningful connection with students. In fact, for many it was the driving force behind their decision to enter the profession. But, understaffed and overworked as they are, many simply have no time to show students that they see, hear, and care about them. Survival mode—where many teachers have lived for the past two years—doesn’t allow much room for relationship building.

This creates a vicious cycle. Students aren’t performing, so more burdens are placed on teachers to help students hit the mark, thus decreasing teachers’ time and bandwidth to forge a human connection with students that is the basis for all learning. Teachers’ legs are cut out from under them, yet they’re still expected to carry their students across the finish line. It’s a gridlock.

What’s the fallout of all this burnout and lack of connection? We’ll see significant drops in three vital areas:

A drop in young people entering the profession, a drop in education quality, and a drop in graduation rates are three problems Perna predicts. Follow this link to read the whole piece.

You can view the post at this link : https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/mark-c-perna-why-education-is-about-to-reach-a-crisis-of-epic-proportions/

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Nancy Bailey has assembled a devastating review of a three-decades long effort to destroy the teaching profession and replace it with models derived from the corporate sector.

She begins:

The pandemic has been rough on teachers, but there has for years been an organized effort to end a professional teaching workforce by politicians and big businesses.

In 1992, The Nation’s cover story by Margaret Spillane and Bruce Shapiro described the meeting of President H. W. Bush and a roomful of Fortune 500 CEOs who planned to launch a bold new industrial venture to save the nation’s schoolchildren.

The report titled, “A small circle of friends: Bush’s new American schools. (New American Schools Development Corp.),” also called NASDC, didn’t discuss saving public schools or teachers. They viewed schools as failed experiments, an idea promoted by the Reagan administration’s A Nation at Risk, frightening Americans into believing schools were to blame for the country’s problems.

The circle believed their ideas would break the mold and mark the emergence of corporate America as the savior of the nation’s schoolchildren.

The organization fell apart, but the ideas are still in play, and corporations with deep pockets will not quit until they get the kind of profitable education they want, for which they benefit.

They have gone far in destroying public education and the teaching profession throughout the years, not to mention programs for children, like special education.

Here are the ideas from that early meeting, extracted from The Nation’s report, with my comments. Many will look eerily familiar.

. . . “monolithic top-down education philosophy,” which disrespected teachers, parents and communities alike.

NCLB, Race to the Top, Every Student Succeeds Act, and Common Core State Standards disregarded teachers’ expertise and degraded them based on high-stakes test scores.

These policies also left parents and communities feeling disengaged in their schools.

Please open the link and read the rest of this perceptive post.