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My Netroots Nation ’11 Obama Dream 0

Posted on April 30, 2011 by dmayer

You, me, Markos, and a couple thousand others, we’re all sitting in a great hall at Netroots Nation as President Obama greets us with his perfect voice. We sit mesmerized by his presence because we know that within the next few minutes, with mere words alone, he will knock our socks off. He will inspire us and lead us all to a better place.

Suddenly, he abruptly alters course. He says (in my dream):

But, before I talk about how we are going to end the wars, achieve universal health care, grow the economy by creating millions of new green jobs, tax those who can best afford it, and hold Wall Street accountable for all the harm they have done and are doing to working people, before we do all that, I want take a minute to talk to annie em (that’s me). I know she’s been worried about the present course of “”education reform “” and how it threatens our democracy. We don’t talk about education enough, so I want to take a moment to talk with her about that first. (Can’t you just hear his voice saying those words?)

Abruptly, we are transported to the President’s White House living quarters. President Obama and I are sitting adjacent to one another in comfortable chairs. Michelle and the girls are at a nearby table browsing through catalogs of playground equipment, oohing and aahing over playgrounds that schools could purchase to help combat childhood obesity if they only had the money.

“”All of this testing has to end, I say, My friends in Florida say the are required to pretest and post test every single concept they teach — even in first grade — Do they know the “”b”", “”buh”" sound? Pretest, teach, test again. (True.) It’s ridiculous. Not to mention the mightier than the universe focus on standardized tests.”"

The President responds in a hushed tone with words that sound vaguely familiar (WP Answer Sheet):

We have piled on a lot of standardized tests on our kids. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a standardized test being given occasionally just to give a baseline of where kids are at. Malia and Sasha, my two daughters, they just recently took a standardized test. But it wasn’t a high-stakes test. It wasn’t a test where they had to panic. I mean, they didn’t even really know that they were going to take it ahead of time. They didn’t study for it, they just went ahead and took it. And it was a tool to diagnose where they were strong, where they were weak, and what the teachers needed to emphasize.

“”I couldn’t agree with you more, I say smiling, as I hear Sasha and Malia giggling in corner, That’s just the way it was when I was in school. Professor Stephen Krashen has some great ideas about testing, maybe you could listen to him.”"

“”You know, I say, The Billionaire Boys are having a heyday busting up unions, closing down schools, influencing policy, and creating all kinds of havoc in our public schools, yet they know nothing about education and how kids learn. You must listen to educators. You wouldn’t send for your hairdresser to fix your plumbing, would you? So, stop acquiescing to Wall Street players in matters they know nothing about.”"

President Obama (in my dream):

I’m beginning to see that our attempts at education reform aren’t working. What seemed like a good idea in the beginning — the competition of Race to the Top, merit pay, high-stakes tests — just isn’t working out for so many of our children. What do you suggest we do?

“”The same thing happened to Diane Ravitch, I say. She did a lot of damage to education before she saw the light. So, she wrote a book and is now she crisscrossing the country to educate people about the fraudulent intent of wealthy education reformers who are out to privatize our public schools at the expense of children and teachers. You can “”do a Diane.”" This is what intelligent people do. When they examine the facts and see that they have mistakenly miscalculated a situation, they take a new direction. You can encourage other Democrats to do it, too. And, even Republicans.

The most important thing you can do is listen to educators and parents. They are the ones who know what children need and how they learn. Stop the government persecution of teachers, and let them teach. We are the only profession that never truly gets to do our job. We always have someone who knows nothing about education telling us what to do.

Stop giving away education funding to organizations that contribute nothing to education and actually do harm to children. I’m talking about Teach for America and the KIPP foundation in particular. Wendy Kopp and her husband, Richard Barth, neither of whom have an education credential between them were given $100 million of our tax money, not one cent of which will find its way to the classroom in the form of equipment, supplies, programs, or curriculum that will benefit children.

And finally, recognize that children in poverty cannot learn when they are hungry, homeless, or worried about how the family is going to stay together. I turn and say to Michelle, “”Can we have fresh, nutritious food and a great playground for every school?”" She answers, “”Yes.”" Then, I turn back to President Obama and say, “”I guess now would be a good time to talk about those millions of new jobs.”"

I invite them to the Save Our Schools March in July, and then I wake up to the nightmare that is today’s “”education reform.”"

I realize it is just a pretty dream, but, it’s the world I’d like to live in. What would your dreamy conversation with President Obama be?

Education News 4-23-2011 0

Posted on April 22, 2011 by dmayer

Photobucket
Signe Cartoons Archive

Parents spell out detailed school reform blueprint

A national grassroots organization called Parents Across America — a leading group in a young, growing protest movement against test-based school reform — just released its own blueprint for the rewriting of No Child Left Behind. If only President Obama would read it.

Michigan Emergency Manager Robert Bobb Issues Layoff Notice to All Detroit Public School Teachers

In Detroit, a city that has faced decline now for several decades Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb has issued a layoff notice to all 5,466 public school teachers.

Libraries to Check Out at Dozens of Schools

More than one out of every four elementary schools in San Diego is slated to have no one to staff its library next year. Nobody is sure how school libraries will operate with nobody to staff them, not even the manager who oversees all the libraries in San Diego Unified.

In Public School Efforts, a Common Background: Private Education

Those who call themselves reformers are a diverse group, men and women of every political stripe and of every race and ethnicity. But there is one thing that characterizes a surprisingly large number of the people who are transforming public schools: they attended private schools.

Florida’s Testing Success: An Inflated Reputation?

The American public has been overrun with inspiring stories of miracle cures for education ills that don’t involve a lot of money, time, or educator input—and turn out to be mirages. Florida under Jeb Bush is no exception. The former governor has recently emerged in the media as an education reform leader, thanks in large part to the praise hoisted upon him by President Obama at a joint appearance last month in Miami. But Bush’s credentials were established earlier by his administration’s much-touted success in improving student test scores.

But like the so-called “Texas Miracle” that helped propel his brother to the White House ten years ago, the accomplishments the younger Bush boasts about are not what they seem.

AFT Accepts More Gates Money
AAAAUUUUGGGHHH!

Our kind of guy to lead Chicago schools

Though Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has picked an outsider to run the Chicago Public Schools, the trail of news clippings following him here suggests he”ll fit right in. Can Rochester, N.Y., superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard (left) pad a payroll? Skirt the rules? Spend frivolously? Distort statistics to make himself look good? Infuriate his constituents with a high-handed style? Check, check, check, check and check.

Superintendents Get $2,000 Consulting Fees to Hobnob with Vendors

How ERDI Works For You: ERDI exists to allow educational leaders the opportunity to influence the development, refinement and delivery of the products and services entering the educational setting in the USA so that those products and services can best meet the needs of children.

ZIP code edges are battle lines in FCAT war

It”s no secret that social and economic factors are valid predictors of educational success. When The Palm Beach Post studied the difference between “F” schools and “A” schools nine years ago, the newspaper found that most students in schools that performed poorly in the FCAT came from homes saddled with poverty. They were more likely to be black or Hispanic. And they were more likely to be a single-parent household.

Educating the Reformers 0

Posted on April 15, 2011 by dmayer

‘When I turned the page in my calendar, the quote of the week read:

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned. Buddah

So, I decided to stop being angry about education issues (for today at least) and try, instead, to educate those who are doing great harm to our children and teachers in the name of education reform. President Obama has given me a wee bit of hope these past few weeks, and I”m going to cling to that. Like when he told a high school student that he didn”t think much of high-stakes testing. Anthony Cody picked up on that comment and ran with it. From Living in Dialogue:

Malia and Sasha, my two daughters, they just recently took a standardized test. But it wasn”t a high-stakes test. It wasn”t a test where they had to panic. I mean, they didn”t even really know that they were going to take it ahead of time. They didn”t study for it, they just went ahead and took it. And it was a tool to diagnose where they were strong, where they were weak, and what the teachers needed to emphasize. . .

Then he said something really radical.

So what I want to do is—one thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching to the test.

I want to believe that.

So, today when I watched The King and I and Deborah Kerr as Anna sang “Getting to Know You” to her students, it brought tears to my eyes. Many people remember it as a song about romantic love, but originally Anna, the teacher, was singing to her students.

I want to share it with President Obama, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and other education reformers because this is the part about education they don”t get. Clearly, a teacher getting to know her students is her most valuable teaching asset, and there are no quick and easy reforms for that. Enjoy!

Do Seattle children deserve professional teachers? 0

Posted on April 11, 2011 by dmayer

‘Below is a speech I made to the Seattle Board of Education. I”ve been working with parents from the recently formed organization Parents Across America to convince the board to reconsider bringing 50 Teach for America (TFA) recruits to Seattle. Bill Gates gave TFA $2.5 million to open an office in Puget Sound. With that kind of funding, TFA will not stop at 50 recruits.

Seattle parents are furious. Seattle is not a failing school system. They don”t want amateurs teaching their children.

There are two things parents can do to stop this insidious “education reform.” One is demand that all children have a professional teacher when one is available. The other is to opt out of the test. Cheap labor and mega-testing are key to corporatizing and privatizing education, but parents can stop this insanity if they organize and resist.

Honestly, I could have given this same speech in any of 40 major metro areas across the country where TFA operates — only the numbers would change. Seattle parents are the most savvy because they don”t trust Gates.

This is my three minute speech which ended in cheers and whistles from the crowd. The board which had earlier voted 6-1 to bring Teach for America were buzzing amongst themselves as soon as I said “civil right.”

My name is D — M—-. I am the director of Great Schools for America. I’m here to review some points I made in a letter sent to the board last month.

Our organization has the resumes of nearly 23,000 certified teachers from Washington state alone who want the jobs you are offering Teach for America recruits. We are offering professional teachers to you.

The question now becomes, “Do Seattle’s children deserve professional teachers?”

We think it is the civil right of every child to have a professional teacher when one is available.

According to an independent study published last year, Teach for America: A False Promise, those recruits do real harm to children and to budgets:
1. Their students perform significantly less well in reading and math than those of credentialed beginning teachers.
2. Taxpayers fund a third of Teach for America’s operating costs. On average, a TFA amateur costs $70,000 more than a professional.
3. Fifty percent leave after two years and more than 80 percent leave after three years.

By hiring Teach for America recruits, Seattle students will do significantly less well on tests, taxpayers will pay significantly more for them, and a significant number will be gone in two to three years.

The study offers some solutions:
1. Hire Teach for America recruits only when professionals are not available.
2. Consider the high cost and “churn” caused by TFA turnover.
3. Invest in proven educational reforms like small class sizes and pairing novice and expert teachers.

Hiring 50 Teach for America recruits will cost Seattle students and taxpayers dearly — a learning deficit for students and a million dollars more spent by taxpayers. Wouldn’t Seattle rather spend its money on promising reforms? To do otherwise would be pure folly.

But it’s not just about employing an amateur to do a professional’s job, Eli Broad, the Waltons, and other of the Billionaire Boys who heavily fund TFA are using the teaching profession as a two-year proving ground to positions of power. THIS MUST STOP. At best, it makes a mockery of the teaching profession. At worst, it says to our poorest children of color, “You don’t deserve a professional teacher. But you’d better score high on that test.”

These are our children. They can’t protect themselves. They depend on us. So, we are saying to the Billionaire Boys, “You can’t have our children, and you’ve had just about enough of our money.”

I believe the board has been misinformed about the cost and effectiveness of Teach for America and ask that you reconsider your vote. Hire professional teachers for the children of Seattle because every child deserves a great education.

Bill Gates Is Stealing Our Lunch Money 0

Posted on April 01, 2011 by dmayer

‘In January of 2011 Bill Gates gave Teach for America $2.5 million to open an office in Seattle. He also gave University of Washington STEM $10 million on the condition it “support” Teach for America (TFA) there. Seattle doesn”t have a failing school system, and parents are furious because they don”t want amateurs teaching their children.

Great Schools for America (GSA) and Parents Across America (PAA), two recently formed organizations intend to challenge TFA for teaching jobs. GSA is a cash-strapped, all volunteer, nonprofit organization fighting for education equity. We can”t even imagine having one-tenth of $2.5 million to open an office. We also can”t imagine what TFA does with the hundreds of millions of dollars it collects from donors and taxpayers. We do know that not one cent of TFA money reaches the classroom in the form of equipment, supplies, programs, or projects for kids.

We are hoping the Daily Kos Community and Save Our Schools will support us in ensuring that all children have access to credentialed teachers and that education dollars be spent on children. (We”re also taking on testing, but that will be another diary.)

On April 6th, 2011 parents, teachers, and other concerned citizens will gather at the Seattle School Board meeting to oppose the hiring of 50 Teach for America (TFA) recruits. Below is a letter sent from Great Schools for America to the Seattle Board. (A similar letter has been sent to Boards of Education in each of the placement regions where TFA operates.)

To: Members of the Seattle Public Schools Board of Education

From: Name. Director of Great Schools for America

Re: The hiring of Teach for America recruits instead of certified teachers

We have the resumes of 22,982 certified teachers from Washington state alone (nearly 800,000 nationwide) who want the jobs you are offering Teach for America recruits. The question now becomes, “Do Seattle”s children deserve professional teachers?”

We think it is the civil right of children to have a professional teacher when one is available. We think those who have acquired the knowledge, training, and skill to teach should be given top consideration for teaching jobs.

According to the Heilig study, Teach for America: A False Promise, Teach for America recruits, who are not teachers, do real harm to children and budgets.

1. Students of novice Teach for America teachers perform significantly less well in reading and math than those of credentialed beginning teachers.

2. About a third of Teach for America’s operating costs are paid by federal, state, and local funds.

3. More than 50 percent of Teach for America teachers leave after two years and more than 80 percent leave after three years.

By hiring Teach for America recruits, Seattle students will do significantly less well on tests, taxpayers will pay significantly more than for professional teachers, and a significant number of those recruits will be gone in two years. Is that the type of education Seattle wants to provide to its students?

The study offers these solutions to policymakers and school districts:

1. Support Teach for America staffing only when the alternative hiring pool consists of uncertified and emergency teachers or substitutes.

2. Consider the significant recurring costs of Teach for America, estimated at over $70,000 per recruit, and press for a five-year commitment to improve achievement and reduce re-staffing. (Emphasis added.)

3. Invest strategically in evidence-based educational reform options that build long-term capacity in schools like lower class sizes, universal pre-school, and mentoring programs that pair novice and expert teachers.

Hiring 50 Teach for America recruits will cost Seattle students and taxpayers dearly — a learning deficit for children and $20,000 more per recruit than certified teachers, or $10,000 over two years, not to mention costs associated with filling recurring vacancies. The overall cost, according to the Heilig study, is much, much more. Great Schools for America is offering a pool of highly effective, fully-certified teachers at little or no charge to you. Wouldn’t Seattle Public Schools rather spend its money on promising programs that are much more cost effective? To do otherwise would be pure folly.

It”s not just about employing amateurs to do a professional”s job, it”s also about plugging the pipeline to power. To reiterate on Joanne Barkan”s analysis in “Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools”, hiring Teach for America recruits is merely fueling the pipeline created by Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Billionaire Boys to positions of power. This must stop.

We are challenging the Seattle School Board to find its good common sense and to use it. Hire professional teachers for the children of Seattle because every child deserves a great education.
Name
(contact information)

These are our children. They can”t protect themselves from the whims of the extraordinarily wealthy. They depend on us for that. Consider also the damage done to young, naive TFA recruits. You can read what they are saying about TFA here, here, and here. So, we are saying to Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the rest of the Billionaire Boys. You can”t have our children, and you”ve had just about enough of our money.

From Parents Across America, A Simple Petition to Bill Gates:

Dear Bill Gates,

Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please.

stop experimenting on our kids, their schools and their teachers.

Signed,
The Parents of America

We want to organize more PAA affiliates to be prepared to challenge school boards everywhere TFA operates. Parents are the key. Detroit is begging us to help them. And, we need a Milwaukee connection to start there. If you live in Seattle, join us on April 6th at 6:00 p.m. We need your ideas on how to proceed and succeed in placing quality educators in our schools. Please help.