Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Joel Klein debate

Teach for America (TFA), which claims to be for equity in education, opposes education equity champion, Linda Darling-Hammond for Obama’s Secretary of Education and indeed, any role in the Obama administration! Why? In the words of TFA’s political arm, Leadership for Education Equity, Darling-Hammond’s appointment “COULD HAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR TFA!”

What is TFA afraid of? To ensure equity in education, Darling-Hammond has advocated for putting only qualified teachers in every classroom. She has opposed assigning unqualified teachers to the poorest and most vulnerable students. TFA teachers are just such unqualified teachers. Darling-Hammond’s research as well as the research of other objective education researchers has shown that the students of untrained TFA teachers do poorly on standardized tests compared to the students of trained teachers. Her research shows that once TFA teachers participate in quality teacher preparation programs and become qualified their students perform better. The problem is that 66% of TFA teachers never get trained. They leave at the end of 2 or 3 years. Darling-Hammond.

When put to the test, TFA puts its self interest above equity for students! TFA is supporting NYC School’s Chancellor for Education Secretary, because he will protect their organization, even though education equity under Klein has taken severe blows:
• Parents have been silenced. In a recent survey, more than 75% or parents felt that Klein was doing a poor job.
• The percentage of Black and Latino students admitted to NYC’s top performing high schools has declined!
• The percentage of Black and Latino students admitted to NYC’s gifted and talented programs has declined!
• The percentage of Black and Latino students admitted to NYC’s 4-year colleges has declined!
• The percentage of Black and Latino educators in the school system has declined!
• According to the NAEP, NYC students have made no gains in reading and math!
• Klein has only one person of color in his leadership team: the invisible position of Deputy Chancellor for Curriculum and Instruction.
• Klein has narrowed and dumbed-down the curriculum to all test-prep all of the time.

Tell the Obama transition team that you want a Secretary of Education who has a proven track record of equity in education. That is Linda Darling-Hammond! For over 20 years, Darling-Hammond has developed accountability policies and practices that focus on student learning and achievement, eliminating harmful practices and ensuring effective practices at the classroom, school, district, state and Federal levels. Her work is accepted by teachers, school, district, and state administrators, parents, policy makers, politicians, researchers, business leaders, and heads of teachers, principal and superintendent preparation programs. Like Obama, Darling-Hammond has been successful in bringing together diverse stakeholders to support education equity. She worked closely with former NY State Education Commission, Tom Sobol to develop NY’s standards, assessment, and accountability system.

If you like the education policies Obama has been discussing, let his transition team know that you want more of Linda Darling-Hammond: .
Jackie Ancess

To see prior posts on this debate, see

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Community Colleges and the California State Universities

In last Wednesday's NY Times article, "California Universities Will Cut Enrollment Unless State Increases Money," California State University System Chancellor Charles B. Reed had some tough words for the legislature's proposed cuts to a system already operating at $215M below its operational needs.
Particularly important to note is that the already-strained system saw a 20 percent increase in applications this year, with 36 percent of those coming from students hoping to transfer from community colleges.
Community colleges serve a hugely diverse population of less traditional students, with fewer economic resources, who rely on state schools to finish their degree goals.
Some demographic considerations (according to the Lumina Foundation):
  • Forty-six percent are 25 or older, and 32 percent are at least 30 years old. The average age is 29.
  • Fifty-eight percent are women.
  • Twenty-nine percent have annual household incomes less than $20,000.
  • Eighty-five percent balance studies with full-time or part-time work. More than half (54 percent) have full-time jobs.
  • Thirty percent of those who work full time also attend classes full time (12 or more credit hours). Among students 30-39 years old, the rate climbs to 41 percent.
  • Minority students constitute 30 percent of community college enrollments nationally, with Latino students representing the fastest-growing racial/ethnic population.
So, what do all these budget cuts mean to the transferring community colleges students? While their applications will receive prioritized consideration by admissions staffs, there may not be enough funding for them to actually attend once accepted. As Chancellor Reed noted "student demand is increasing, while state funding is declining."
Students coming from community colleges may find themselves shut out of some of the most popular Cal State campuses because of tougher admissions requirements and earlier application deadlines.
For an increasing number of students, community colleges are not the end to the educational road, but a stepping stone to loftier educational goals. Though their path may be more circuitous, their contribution to state universities is no less substantial and they must be provided the resources they need to achieve the goals for which they've worked so hard.

By-line: This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of online state community colleges. She invites your feedback at

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Education and the Economy

Randi Weingarten’s Address On Education And The Economy : President AFT.
Randi Weingarten’s speech on education and the economy, delivered the morning of Nov. 17 at the National Press Club in Washington. The compilation begins with a clip of Mayor Bloomberg’s introduction. Here’s the full text of Randi’s speech [PDF].

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

California Education Cuts

A million dollars here, a million dollars there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.
We know that California faces a serious budget crisis and that K-12 and higher education will face severe budget cuts.
We are shocked by the governor’s proposals to cut $31.6 million from the CSU as of Oct 20, and the cut last year of 3.1 billion from K-12 education for 2008/2009. Now the governor plans an addition k-12 budget cut of over $ 2.1 Billion. California can not accept such an abandonment of its educational infrastructure. . We still consider ourselves bound by the promise of the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, and these cuts would break that promise.

It is a mystery to me why is the Governor and the legislature not looking for reasonable budget cuts rather than cutting education and health care.
Last year the Governor added $ 10 million to the CSU budget to pay for a Teacher Performance Assessment program (TPA). The TPA and/or PACT is a poorly designed, redundant and invalid process for assessing the quality of teacher credential candidates. The supporters of TPA seek to fix a problem that does not exist.

SB 2042, in 2000, required a major revision of teacher preparation in California based upon a new set of state standards and a set of teacher performance expectations (TPEs) . The universities have responded by revising their programs. In 2042 The legislature created a system where the state must continually train new teachers to replace those driven out by inadequate working conditions. One element of 2042 required the development of high stakes performance assessment of California teachers (TPA) based upon the teacher performance expectations (TPE) to be developed by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The problems with this are several. There is no evidence that TPAs are valid measures of good teaching. To the contrary, our experience tells us that one-time all-or-nothing tests like the TPA are among the poorest possible ways to predict the likelihood that a test-taker will be an excellent California teacher. Beyond this overwhelming substantive concern about the damage to teacher education, we must also point out that the implementation of TPA assessment was initially contingent upon state funding. But SB 1209 in 2006 removed the funding requirement and required implementation of the TPA throughout the CSU effective July 1, 2008, imposing a new low quality accountability system on teacher preparation programs in addition to the performance assessments currently in place, without providing the funding needed to pay for the new program.
In the May revise the Governor added $91 million to the CSU budget and asserted that $10 million was for TPA. There was no controlling legislative language.
Thus the legislature and CTC have imposed an expensive, redundant accountability system – one the state cannot afford in its current budget crisis. Not that we want the TPA program funded -- it would be a gross injustice to add funding for performance assessment into the budget when our schools are having to increase class sizes, lay off teachers, reduce career technical education, cancel transportation, and delay long needed school reforms.

In place of the current system of on-site supervision of student teachers, future teachers would be measured ultimately on how well they produce a twenty minute video tape of a classroom; not at all an authentic assessment of teaching performance.
CSU Campuses who have tried early pilot versions of this system –TPA and PACT- have found that the system angers and frustrates teachers and our students, and limits the quality of the credential process and therefore is likely to discourage many potential candidates from entering a credential program.
It is frustrating to try to understand why TPA and PACT have not been cut from the budget to save money for essentials. Last year Senator Jack Scott was the primary supporter of TPA, and few wished to offend this powerful senator. But, now he is termed out. Several of his education staff remain on the education committee and they are clearly committed to TPA.
Is it just that the bureaucracy can not admit that it was wrong? Or, since the CSU is preparing to pass the costs along to the student, they think that it is off their budget. But, that is clearly a tax on future teachers. If any reader can explain this lack of interest in saving budget money, please let me know.

So, we have a serious budget crisis making cuts in schools inevitable; and the legislators will not look at ending boondoggles.

Duane Campbell

Monday, November 10, 2008

Petition: Oppose Joel Klein

Please read and sign. Written for educators.

The Petition to oppose the appointment of Joel Klein.

We, the undersigned, devoted thousands of hours of volunteer time to the election of Barack Obama as President. As Professional educators we were encouraged by the promise to have an open and respectful dialogue within the educational community about NCLB, its limits, and its failures.
Now, a trial balloon has been advanced in the media for Joel Klein, Chancellor of NYC schools to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education in an Obama Administration. ( It is quite possible that Klein himself promoted the trial balloon.) Trial balloons are trials. They are floated to see how people will react.
This petition is a reaction.
The administration of Joel Klein as Chancellor of Schools in New York City is representative of a particular rigid approach to school change promoted by NCLB which we oppose. Rather than take the advice of educators, Chancellor Klein repeatedly championed and implemented policies that support corporate interests as opposed to children. The NY City Department of Education under Joel Klein has been run like a ruthless dictatorship – with no input from parents or educators. Teachers have not been respected, consulted, nor listened to. And little thought has been devoted to how the policies he has imposed on our schools have been destructive to the children and their futures.

Teachers, educators, and future teachers, read the entire petition and sign it at:
posted by Duane Campbell

Thursday, November 06, 2008

AFT election work

“So much about this campaign has been historic and electrifying,” Weingarten said. “The incredible voter interest Barack Obama generated, especially among young, independent and first-time voters; the sea change in voting patterns across America; and the election of America’s first African-American president are all extraordinary milestones for our country. I am hopeful that this civic excitement and engagement will be sustained for the benefit of our great democracy.
“At a time when the focus on strengthening public education has been all but eclipsed by other issues, Sen. Obama has shown both deep understanding of, and real interest in, the need to ensure every child receives a world-class education. The members and leaders of the AFT welcome President-elect Obama’s commitment to working together to strengthen public education. We look forward to partnering with him and with members of both parties to fulfill this promise.”
The AFT’s political operation in the 2008 elections was unprecedented. The union deployed nearly 600 full-time campaign coordinators and 5,000 volunteers to assist affiliates and the AFL-CIO in member-education and get-out-the-vote efforts. Since endorsing Sen. Obama at its national convention in July, the AFT made more than 4 million contacts with its membership, including phone calls, mail, leaflets and—the means of communication proven to be most effective—direct member-to-member contact at home and at the workplace.
“We were in more states, with a greater presence, than ever before. And it worked,” Weingarten said. “I saw this firsthand in the 18 states I have visited since becoming AFT president in July.”
States with a strong AFT and union presence made a decisive difference in the elections, not only in choosing the next president, but also in giving him a Congress to work with that will champion the concerns of working people and will support public education and other vital public services.
“Barack Obama will be a president for all Americans,” Weingarten said. “For Americans from every state in the Union, for those who enjoy great wealth as well as those who suffer terrible want, for Americans of every color, creed and walk of life. This is the time for our country to come together in common purpose to create a better life for all Americans.
“President-elect Obama faces considerable challenges—a severe economic crisis, a broken healthcare system, the needs of an aging population, enormous infrastructure strains and American troops engaged in two wars. But he is welll-equipped to lead our country, which is unparalleled in its ability and determination to face such challenges.”
Wiengartner is the President of the AFT.
From AFT Release

Congratulations Eric Mar

We congratulate Eric Mar on his election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
No one said this would be easy.

Troubled Waters : Podesta

Amid all the elation about Obama's victory, let's not forget that the struggle over NCLB is far from over. During the campaign, he made some encouraging statements about the abuses of testing and the need to increase federal funding for K-12. But his positions on the most contentious reauthorization issues were not very specific. Thus the direction an Obama Administration will take is anybody's guess.

Today's Washington Post -- -- includes a couple of ominous notes on this score:

1. Obama has asked John Podesta, former Clinton chief of staff and currently head of the Center for American Progress, to head his transition team. CAP is a liberal think-tank that's been among the most uncritical supporters of NCLB. Last year Podesta teamed up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to release a report bashing American schools, claiming that the vast majority of students are not proficient in reading. As Gerald Bracey pointed out, using the same absurd and arbitrary "proficiency" level, the identical conclusion could be reached about students anywhere in the world, including the top-scoring country, Sweden.

Unfortunately, whoever heads the transition team has a big say in major appointments -- e.g., U.S. Secretary of Education.

2. Among the trial balloons -- a.k.a. "names being mentioned" -- for that job is Joel Klein, chancellor of NYC schools and a big supporter of high-stakes testing, among other odious practices. No doubt New Yorkers on the list can provide additional details.

Along with Al Sharpton, Klein is co-chairing the Education Equality Project -- the Defend NCLB pole in the reauthorization debate: During the campaign, Obama's top education advisor has been Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford, who is decidedly not in the Klein-Sharpton camp. In fact, she's a representative of the other major pole, which calls itself A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education:

It has been recommended that New York City Chancellor Joe Klein would be a candidate for Secretary of Education in your administration. This would conflict with your basic campaign commitments to an open and inclusive administration.
Klein represents the management view of school change with little input from teachers working in classrooms. The data simply does not support his claims. His own administration in New York has focused on testing without a legitimate analysis of the role of testing in school change. He has participated in massive budget cuts of schools while we know that schools need more resources.

As I noted in my previous message, we have our work cut out for us.
based upon position by Jim Crawford.l
Jim Crawford. ELL Advocates.