Monday, January 28, 2013

Teacher boycott of standardized tests spreads

Valerie Strauss
January 26, 2013
The Washington Post
A boycott of Washington state’s mandated standardized test by teachers at a Seattle school is spreading to other schools and winning support across the country, including from the two largest teachers’ unions, parents, students, researchers and educators.

A boycott of Washington state’s mandated standardized test by teachers at a Seattle school is spreading to other schools and winning support across the country, including from the two largest teachers’ unions, parents, students, researchers and educators.
The decision by teachers at Garfield High School to boycott the state’s Measures of Academy Progress because, they say, the exams don’t evaluate learning and are a waste of time is fueling a growing debate about the misuse of standardized tests in public education.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Common Core Standards are change - not reform

The Common Core: Educational Redeemer or Rainmaker?

 by Julie L. Pennington ,Kathryn M. Obenchain ,Aimee Papola & Leia Kmitta — October 12, 2012

The Common Core State Standards are poised to guide U.S. educational practice and assessment for the coming years. This commentary examines the framing of the argument for the new standards by the constructors of the CCSS and how the alignment of resources during the implementation phase is tightly ensconced within the organizations who drafted the standards.

Framing education as in need of additional rigor and collective cohesion, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are now promoted as a redeemer for educational reform while No Child Left Behind quietly fades into the background.  As states are currently invited to pursue “relief from provisions of …(NCLB)” (, the CCSS are poised to preside over a movement to (what are self-described as) more rigorous, more communal and more state-led standards and assessments (

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gov. Brown's view on school improvement

State of the State. Governor Brown. Jan. 24, 2013.

Constantly expanding the coercive power of government by adding each year so many minute prescriptions to our already detailed and turgid legal system overshadows other aspects of public service. Individual creativity and direct leadership must also play a part. We do this, not by commanding thou shalt or thou shalt not through a new law but by tapping into the persuasive power that can inspire and organize people. Lay the Ten Commandments next to the California Education code and you will see how far we have diverged in approach and in content from that which forms the basis of our legal system.


In the right order of things, education—the early fashioning of character and the formation of conscience—comes before legislation. Nothing is more determinative of our future than how we teach our children. If we fail at this, we will sow growing social chaos and inequality that no law can rectify.

In California’s public schools, there are six million students, 300,000 teachers—all subject to tens of thousands of laws and regulations. In addition to the teacher in the classroom, we have a principal in every school, a superintendent and governing board for each school district. Then we have the State Superintendent and the State Board of Education, which makes rules and approves endless waivers—often of laws which you just passed. Then there is the Congress which passes laws like “No Child Left Behind,” and finally the Federal Department of Education, whose rules, audits and fines reach into every classroom in America, where sixty million children study, not six million.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why does race, ethnicity matter in public schools ?

Start at about 24 minutes into the recording.
Diversity Forum:  Why Race and Culture Still Matter
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Tyrone Howard

December 5, 2012
California State University, Fullerton

Access the Full Video:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why do many reporters miss the story on the realities of school change ?

How the media distorts the issues in the public school debates.  
  Reporters who are not experts on schools too often  rely upon the wisdom of selected “spokespersons” and other elites. 
They have been sold a framework of  a corporate view of accountability. Corporate sponsored networks and think tanks such as the the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Broad Foundation,  the Bradley Foundation, the Pacific Research Institute,  and the Olin Foundation provide “experts” prepared to give an opinion on short notice to meet a reporters deadline.  Most reporters assume that these notables are telling the truth when in fact they are promoting a particular propaganda such as in the film “Waiting for Superman”.  Who do they not talk with?  They fail to interview experienced teachers and professionals who have worked for decades to improve the quality of inner city schools.

The Obama Administration’s appointment of Arne Duncan was symptomatic of the problem.  He represents the  kind of corporate/media approach to reform.   So, reporters can go to the corporate funded foundations and provide “balance” by asking the appointees of the government- they get the same story.  In particular recently they have been turning to the Gates and Broad Foundations  or the conservative Democrats for Education Reform and Michelle Rhee.  
 What the foundations and the Billionaires Boy’s Clubs are saying is fundamentally misleading.  They are deliberately distorting the story.  However reporters think that these foundations have smart people so they must know what they are talking about.  See Diane Ravitch.  The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. 2010.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Teachers support stronger laws to curb gun violence in schools

Educators support stronger laws to prevent gun violence says NEA poll
NEA President: common sense gun safety laws to keep children safe are paramount

WASHINGTON - January 15, 2013 -
Results of a new poll by the National Education Association (NEA) show educators support stronger gun laws to prevent gun violence and keep children safe. The poll comes as the White House is scheduled today to make public the recommendations of a task force led by Vice President Biden. 

The poll of the nation’s teachers, faculty and education support professionals comes one month after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 adults, including educators. NEA polled 800 of its members nationwide during the period of January 9-10, 2013.
“The senseless tragedy in Newtown was a tipping point and galvanization for action,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “As educators, we have grieved too long and too often—for the children killed, their families and heroic educators. Now more than ever we need to do what is necessary, including enacting stronger laws to prevent gun violence, to make sure every child in our nation’s public schools has a safe and secure learning environment.” 
Key Findings:
                Educators overwhelmingly support stronger laws to prevent gun violence.  Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of NEA members polled feel gun laws in the U.S. should be made stricter, compared to 7 percent who believe they should be less strict.
                 NEA members polled support background checks and bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazine clips. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr. and Economic Justice

Martin Luther King, Economic Justice, Workers’ Rights,
and Multiracial Democracy
by Thomas Jackson
In 1968, a united black community in Memphis stepped forward to support 1,300
municipal sanitation workers as they demanded higher wages, union recognition, and respect for
black personhood embodied in the slogan “I Am a Man!” Memphis’s black women organized tenant
and welfare unions, discovering pervasive hunger among the city’s poor and black children. They
demanded rights to food and medical care from a city and medical establishment blind to their
existence. That same month, March 1968, 100 grassroots organizations met in Atlanta to support
Martin Luther King’s dream of a poor people’s march on Washington. They pressed concrete demands for economic justice under the slogan “Jobs or Income Now!” King celebrated the “determination by poor people of all colors” to win their human rights. “Established powers of rich America have deliberately exploited poor people by isolating them in ethnic, nationality, religious and racial groups,” the delegates declared.
So when King came to Memphis to support the strike, a local labor and community struggle became intertwined with his dream of mobilizing a national coalition strong enough to reorient national priorities from imperial war in Vietnam to domestic reconstruction, especially in America’s riot-torn cities. To non-poor Americans, King called for a “revolution of values,” a move from self-seeking to service, from property rights to human rights.
King’s assassination—and the urban revolts that followed—led to a local Memphis settlement that furthered the cause of public employee unionism. The Poor People’s March nonviolently won small concessions in the national food stamp program. But reporters covered the bickering and squalor in the poor people’s tent city, rather than the movement’s detailed demands for waging a real war on poverty. Marchers wanted guaranteed public employment when the private sector failed, a raise in the federal minimum wage, a national income floor for all families, and a national commitment to reconstruct cities blighted by corporate disinvestment and white flight. And they wanted poor people’s representation in urban renewal and social service programs that had customarily benefited only businesses or the middle class. King’s dreams reverberated back in the movements that had risen him up.

Monday, January 14, 2013

School discipline reform - not arming teachers

School Discipline Reform Groups Question Proposals for Armed Security  By Susan Ferriss
 As the White House considers proposals to allocate federal money for armed guards in schools, prominent school-discipline reform groups have issued a report denouncing the idea as a misguided reaction to the Newtown school shooting.
“Placing more police in schools has significant and harmful unintended consequences for young people that must be considered before agreeing to any proposal that would increase the presence of law enforcement in schools,” says an issue brief released Friday by the Advancement Project, Dignity in Schools and other organizations.

If they arm teachers.

If they arm teachers.
Then, teachers  in California deserve Public Safety Officer pay, and Public Safety Officer pensions.  Do you wish to discuss this ?  That would mean a 30 -50% increase in pay and pensions.

Aaron Swartz's Family Condemns MIT and U.S. Government

Internet activist killed himself a month before going
on trial for what family calls 'an alleged crime that
had no victims'

Matt Williams
The Guardian
January 13, 2013

The family of celebrated internet activist Aaron Swartz
has accused prosecutors and MIT officials of being
complicit in his death, blaming the apparent suicide on
the pursuit of a young man over "an alleged crime that
had no victims".

In a statement released late Saturday, Swartz's parents,
Robert and Susan, siblings Noah and Ben and partner
Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman said the Redditt builder's
demise was not just a "personal tragedy" but "the
product of a criminal justice system rife with
intimidation and prosecutorial overreach".

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Rhee's Student First rates school districts based upon ideology

Laura Clawson. Daily Kos/Labor 
Michelle Rhee continues her descent into parody. You might have thought that teaching students to read would be a good way to evaluate educational performance, but no. Rhee's StudentsFirst organization has released a report card grading states—on their education policies, not their educational results. In fact, not one of the states StudentsFirst ranks in the top five is in the top half of states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, "the nation's report card," when it comes to eighth grade reading scores, and only one is in the top half when it comes to eighth grade math.
  • Louisiana is the top-rated state, according to StudentsFirst. It ranks 49th of 51 on eighth grade reading scores and 47th of 51 on eighth grade math scores.
  • Florida is StudentsFirst's second-best state according to ideology. According to educational results, Florida is 35th on reading and 42nd on math.
  • StudentsFirst says Indiana is third. The "nation's report card" says it's 30th on reading and 23rd on math.
  • The District of Columbia, where Rhee had her way from 2007 to 2010, comes in fourth according to Rhee's ranking system. According to the NAEP? Dead last.
  • Rhode Island is fifth in Rhee-land. It's 29th in both reading and math on the NAEP.
By contrast, of the 11 states Rhee rates as having the worst policies for education, three are in the top six for eighth grade reading scores on the NAEP, and four more are in the top 20. Another contrast: The three highest-scoring states on reading are Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Rhee scores them 14th, 21st and 18th.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Mexican American History Again Left Out

Mexican Americans will be left out – again.  When the  teachers and the profession gets around to writing Common Core Standards in History and Social Studies we can anticipate that they will again fail to include Mexican American history.  How do we know this?
 Major discussions in education circles now focus on Common Core Standards which are an attempt to get some agreements on what level of achievement all states can expect from their students.  Until now, all such standards were in the states.  There was no national common core. ( See ASCD)
Common core standards  have been established in Math and Literacy and are producing major changes in curriculum across the nation.  There are no Common Core standards in History or Social Studies. In these disciplines we continue to have state standards only.
History standards in Texas, Arizona, and California, among others, lack the inclusion of even the most minimal history of Mexican American people.  In California the state standards are based upon the state History/Social Science Framework which was drafted in 1986 and is nearly totally devoid of Mexican American History.  (Campbell ,2012)

Mexican American have been left out up to this date (2013), and the history profession has less diversity and less inclusion in their course work than they did in the 1990s.  Ethnic studies and Mexican American history has less influence.  We can therefore predict that when committees get together they will continue the practices of the past- that is exclusion.
  Lets look at California.   California has the largest population of any state, with more than 6,191,000  students  in school in 2009. 
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.