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Badass Teachers protest the Gates Foundation — Photo Essay 0

Posted on June 29, 2014 by dmayer

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“The Rally to Educate the Gates Foundation” in Seattle, Washington and is sponsored by Badass Teachers Association (WA-BATS), a grassroots group of career educators defending our public education system from private interest groups, on Thursday, June 26, 2014 at Westlake Park, 401 Pine St, Seattle.

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The first 45 minutes of the rally features speakers including Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and UW Associate Professor Wayne Au.

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Deb Mayer, Catherine Carroll, Kris Alman, Anthony Cody, and Kathleen Jeskey join Washington teachers and activist to bring some badass action to protest the Gates Foundation’s shady involvement in privatizing our public schools. Our schools are not for sale.

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Catherine Carroll wants to teach the whole child. She objects to scripted curriculum, inappropriate standards, fake TFA-type teachers, phony education nonprofits, high-stakes standardized tests, and billionaires scheming to privatize our public schools.

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Parents object to the corporate insistence on RIGOR in the classroom, the emphasis on standardized testing in reading and math at the expense of art, music, P.E. and library.

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The “Corporate Vulture” casts a pall on equitable public schools for all.

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Seattle’s finest escort education advocates from Westlake Park to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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WA-BATS refuse to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality and refuse to accept tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.

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WA BATS demand that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation divest from their education agenda which includes: Over Testing, Race To The Top, Teach For America, Ignoring Poverty, Class Size Increases, Charter Schools, Big Data-Piracy or Sharing, Union Busting, Narrowing Curriculum, Ignoring Parent Voice, Value Added Measures, Appointed School Boards, Privatizing Public Schools, Replacing Teachers With Screens, For-profit Business Model Policy, Tying Funding to Test Scores, Outsourcing to Private Vendors, Treating Kids Like Widgets, High Stakes Testing & Common Core State Standards.

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Rally Attendees Say YES TO: Parent & Educator Voice! Creativity! Small Class Sizes! Civics! Science! Music! Art! Drama! Physical Education! Parent Involvement! Libraries! Counselors! Experienced Teachers! Learning Through Play! Project Based Learning! Learning Support Staff! Adequate Compensation! Democratic Governance of Schools! Relevant Educator Training! Less Testing and More Learning! Transparent Decision Making! Equitable Funding For Every Child! Recognizing Each Student’s Potential! Culturally & Developmentally Responsive Curriculum! “

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In 2014 political power resides in monetary wealth and public policy is being determined by the mega-rich not the expert practicioner-in many professions. No one is asking teachers what schools need.

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Among the Speakers at the Gates Foundation site were Susan DuFresne, Co-Author of Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates, Anthony Cody, Living in Dialogue, and Peggy Robertson of United Opt Out.

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Teachers are told that they don’t have high enough expectations for kids. This is ludicrous. Our governing system is becoming undemocratic but worse it IS harming children who need a wholistic classroom experience beyond test scores.

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The Gates Foundation must accept that teachers are more than software; that learning is individualized; and that education is a public endeavor.

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Excellent public schools are the cornerstone of a free society: big money is buying the education agenda. People must stand up to this oligarchical shift and reclaim public schools with the whole child at the center.

Business reformers need to spread their expertise in places where they know what they are talking about. Teachers are experts when it comes to student learning. Ask us what kids need to thrive and learn. We are happy to tell you.

We’re not going to take it anymore!

Anthony Cody at the Educating Gates Rally, Seattle from Schoolhouse Live on Vimeo.

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Thanks to Julianna Dauble, Renton teacher and Rally Organizer, for a great job organizing this event and for help with this commentary.

Yet another open letter to TFAers 0

Posted on June 04, 2014 by dmayer

Dear TFA Recruit,

You are considering a special education position this fall. Teach for America (TFA) has promised to transform you into an excellent, highly qualified teacher in only five weeks.  After you bought into that, it wasn’t a far stretch to believe that you could teach special education classes with only three more weeks of training.

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So, you are about to enter the world of SPED, a unique field of study with a language of its own.  It’s an alphabet soup of acronyms that provides a shorthand to experts who have additional duties over and above those of the regular classroom teacher. It comes with its own special laws, processes and protocols, and intricate funding systems. There is a reason that teaching SPED requires an additional certification.  There is so much to know. The vocabulary alone is mind-boggling. Below is a list of some SPED terms, not complete by any stretch of the imagination. Even if you could cram their names and definitions into your brain in only three weeks, the practical knowledge of how to integrate them into a curriculum demands experience.

Suppose you have a student identified with FAS? How does FAS manifest itself in a third grade boy? What kind of classroom behaviors can you expect? How does his educational needs differ from those of other students? What kind of services is he entitled to receive? Who will be on his team? How will you create the best possible IEP?  What kind of relationship will you develop with the child’s parents? 

Dear TFAer, if you really want to “give back,” become an assistant to a professional SPED teacher.  Enroll in a graduate program and learn to teach students with special needs.  Otherwise, who knows the harm you’ll do?  Certainly, not you – you may think everything is pie and ice cream because you just don’t know any better. There is real danger in not knowing what you don’t know. Your students have trusted us (the adults in the room) to give them the best teacher possible – one who knows how to teach them. It’s the least we can do.

In another open letter, An Open Letter to TFAers Tempted to Diagnose ADHD, Among Other Issues, Mercedes Schneider questions the idea of TFAers identifying or misidentifying students with ADHD.  I agree with her conclusions, but my concern runs much deeper.  I question the ability of a novice recruit to identify and educate all acronyms.

 

If you, dear TFAer,  are still not convinced that you aren’t the solution, here you go. Below is your new vocabulary to teach special kids. Many actual words like dyslexia and autism aren’t on the list.  To be fair, regular education teachers use some of these acronyms like DOE, ESEA, ERIC, and NCLB, too. But, then you already know that.

AAC, ABA, ABC, ADA, ADD/ADHD, ADLs, ADR, AIM, All, AML, ANLL, AMD, APE, APR, ARD, ATND, ARRA, AS, ASD, ASL, AT, AYP, BD, BIE, BIP, BMD, BOE, BP, BPD, CAC, CAP, CAPD, CAPTA, CAS, CBA, CC, CD, CDA, CDD, CDC, CEC, CF, CFR, CIFMS, CML, COP, CP, CPRC, CSHCN, CSPD, CST, DB, DD, DD Act, DIBELS, DIS, DMD, DoDDS, DOE, DS, DSI, DSM, DWS, ECE, ECSE, ED, ED, EDGAR, EDMD, EDMS, EDS, EHA, EHDI, EI, EIS, ELL, EM, EMH, EMR, EPSDT, ERIC, ESD, ESEA, ESL, ESY or EYS, FAE, FAPE, FAS, FBA, FC, FEOG, FERPA, FOIA, FDHD, FX, GBS, GE, GPRA, GSD, GT, HI, HO, HoH, HOUSSE, HPE, HQT, IA, IAES, ID, IDEA, IEE, IEP, IES, IFSP, IHE, ITCA, ITP, JD,  JRAA, KD, LD, LEA, LEP, LKS, LP, LRE, MD, MD or MH, MDS, MLD, MMD, MMR, Mod MR, MOU, MR, NASDSE, NCLB, NF, NICHCY NIH, NIMAS, NIMH, NLD, NPD, NPRM, OCD, OCR, ODD, OHI, OI, O & M, OSEP, OT, P&A, PAH, PALS, PASS, PBS, PCA, PD, PDA, PDD, PEI, Perkins Act, PIDD, PKD, PKU, PLEP or PLP, PP, PS, PT, PTI, PTDS, PWS, RA, RAD, RFP, RS, RTI, RTTT, §, SAS, SB, SCHIP, SD, SE, SPED SEA, SEAC, Section 504, SELPA SI, SID, SIG, SIP, SJS, SLD, SLI, SLP, SM, SPOA, SPP, SSDI, SSI, SST, T21, TA&D, TBI, TDD, TENS, TMH, TMR, TS, T-TA, TTY, TWWIIA, V.A.T.E.R, VI, Voc Ed, VR, VSD, WIC, WWC

Teachers United Against Teach for America invites you to join our campaign to assure that every child, especially children with special needs, has a real teacher.