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Plugging the Pipeline? 0

Posted on March 16, 2011 by dmayer

‘In her tremendously well received article, “Got Dough? How Billionaire”s Rule Our Schools, Joanne Barkan skillfully relates the story of how America”s richest citizens are staffing our public schools with leaders who are not educators. Barkan interview on MSNBC:

View at YouTube.

The Gates Foundation, The Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation through collaborative efforts have founded the NewSchools Venture Fund. Through that venture, they are involved in every aspect of education from staffing to construction to food service and everything in between. The smallest of the three, the Broad (rhymes with toad) Foundation can”t resist staffing schools with hand-picked favorites who have no education credentials whatsoever. As Barkan relates:

The smallest of the Big Three,* the Broad Foundation, headed by Eli Broad, gets its largest return on education investments from its two training projects. The mission of both is to move professionals from their current careers in business, the military, law, government, and so on into jobs as superintendents and upper-level managers of urban public school districts. In their new jobs, they can implement the foundation’s agenda. One project, the Broad Superintendents Academy, pays all tuition and travel costs for top executives in their fields to go through a course of six extended weekend sessions, assignments, and site visits. Broad then helps to place them in superintendent jobs. The academy is thriving. According to the Web site, “graduates of the program currently work as superintendents or school district executives in fifty-three cities across twenty-eight states. In 2009, 43 percent of all large urban superintendent openings were filled by Broad Academy graduates.”

The second project, the Broad Residency, places professionals with master’s degrees and several years of work experience into full-time managerial jobs in school districts, charter school management organizations, and federal and state education departments. While they’re working, residents get two years of “professional development” from Broad, all costs covered, including travel. The foundation also subsidizes their salaries (50 percent the first year, 25 percent the second year). It’s another success story for Broad, which has placed more than two hundred residents in more than fifty education institutions.

Not only does Broad choose candidates who are not educators for admittance into his programs, he insists that they not be educators. If this sounds absurd to you, that”s because it is. It is a favorite past time of all three of these malevolent benefactors to belittle the knowledge, skill, talent, and experience it takes to be an excellent educator.

In reform-speak, both the Broad Academy and Residency are not mere programs: they are “pipelines.” Once Broad alumni are working inside the education system, they naturally favor hiring other “Broadies”, which ups the leverage. This is the biggest return on investment. It”s a brilliant scheme in a “Pinky and the Brain” kind of way. By controlling the staff, the wealthy control the messenger. By controlling schools, they control the message.

View on YouTube

Democracy anyone?

How are we going to stop them?

Voucher question on ISTEP test in Indiana 0

Posted on March 05, 2011 by dmayer

‘While Indiana parents, teachers, and concerned citizens protested House Bill 1003, the voucher program for private school tuition, and Senate Bill 575, the bill limiting teacher collective bargaining to only wages and wage-related benefits, bills Governor Mitch Daniels insists are non-negotiable, students were answering an essay question about vouchers on the state”s standardized ISTEP test that teachers hadn”t bargained on.

The Indiana Department of Education is investigating a possible breach of ISTEP test security involving a question some state lawmakers say improperly promotes school vouchers. According to the Times of Northwest Indiana.

The Times has chosen not to publish the full essay question because students still are taking the annual standardized exams through Wednesday. But the question prompts students to consider a scenario involving a “special scholarship program.”

State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, said the question politicizes the testing process by asking students their opinion on school vouchers. Legislation pending in the General Assembly would give parents special scholarships using public funds for their children to attend private school.

“I would like to express my outrage that the Department of Education has inserted its own political agenda into, of all things, the ISTEP test, Tallian said. Gov. Mitch Daniels and State Superintendent Tony Bennett, both Republicans, strongly support the voucher plan.

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In many states teachers are required to sign an oath stating they will not read the test nor disclose any information about it. So, it isn”t surprising that state officials are trying to find the leak.

According to DOE Chief of Staff Heather Neal:

The department believes a test coordinator copied the question from the eighth-grade language arts test and passed it to others, including one who briefly posted it Tuesday on a Facebook page. The reported Facebook page appears to be connected with a teachers” group in Lawrence County, south of Bloomington.

While DOE officials are most concerned about the possible cost of 80,000 invalid tests, Senator Tallian is more concerned with politicizing the test and manipulating chiildren. She says the question should have never been on the test in the first place and demands to know why it was on the test. Her colleague Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, believes the question is part of a larger nationwide plot to privatize public education in Indiana and the United States, saying:

This kind of thing is trying to get into the minds of young people and is a way to get that message back to parents, Smith said. (Bennett) knows what he is doing — it”s orchestrated.

This sort of exploitation of children is beyond the pale! It”s out of bounds! It”s beyond contempt! It”s deplorable! That this question made it through the rigorous process of question selection which includes review by DOE assessment and content experts; review again by a panel of Indiana teachers; review a third time for bias and sensitivity; then review by a citizens committee; and, finally, is presented as a pilot question to 2,500 ISTEP exams before it is approved for the statewide exam speaks to how politically biased that process is every step of the way.

Testimony of a Teach for America Recruit 0

Posted on March 03, 2011 by dmayer

‘It is important for us to remember when discussing Teach for America, the New Teacher Project, and other such organizations the difference between recruits like the young man sharing his experience here and the rich and powerful elite who use them to further their goal of privatizing our public schools.

My name is John Bilby and I was a TFA teacher in the New York region from September 2009 until March 2010. I left the organization because I felt that it does not adequately prepare its people to serve the poorest children in public schools.

I also think that TFA is more interested in power, access, and influence in the federal game of education than it is concerned with resolving educational inequity. Its “corps members” are merely a means to this end, providing the organization with a front while it pursues the goals of its donors, namely to remodel public education in this country in order to favor a high-turnover, non-unionized workforce in charters run by hedge-fund managers for tax breaks. I foresee this further stratifying our current system into one in which children with disabilities, children who don”t speak English, and children who do not do well on standardized tests are funneled into substandard schools in a constant state of crisis due to continuous budget cutting.

I still believe, however, in the democratic power of education and the right of the people to vote out those who might infringe upon it. I am beginning a traditional route teacher certification program and I am looking forward to getting back into a city classroom soon.

View @ YouTube to read comments to John”s honest and courageous presentation of his Teach for America experience.