Friday, December 24, 2010

How to create your own education reform organization- and a good paying position for yourself

How to Create a Faux Grassroots Education Reform Organization in 12 Easy Steps!
  2. Put two or three of those words together in any order (possibly linked by a preposition like "with," "of," "for," or -- if you want to be really with it -- use "4″ instead of "for"!).
  3. Add an exclamation mark at the end!
  4. Create a slick website -- be sure to include engaging photos of multiracial kids on your front page.
  5. Write a fierce and positive mission statement that no one can disagree with, like: "We want all kids to achieve excellence in school!" Or, "We want an excellent teacher in every excellent classroom teaching excellence to excellent kids in excellent schools!" Or "We don't want any child left behind by mean, terrible teachers and left with no option in life but prison."

Democrats ? for Education Reform 2

There is a well done article on the group Democrats ? for Educational Reform on the front page of the Sacramento Bee today.  There is more on here.
There is no evidence that the group has improved schools.  Politicians have seldom improved schools.  Improved schools require teachers working together.  There is some evidence in my book, Choosing Democracy, and in the effort of Quality  Investment in Education Act schools sponsored by CTA.
A positive side of the effort of Democrats? For Educational Reform is that they point out, create a megaphone, to describe and criticize the failure of some of our schools, particularly urban schools. 
Instead of talking about the most basic cause- the lack of adequate funding for schools and for school reform- they offer a series of ideas centered on the problem is the teachers unions.  Well. No.  The problem is the significant under funding of California schools as well developed in prior posts and in the suite Robles v. California.  And, given the current state budget, the underfunding of schools is going to get much worse.
In the last two years the k-12 budget “solutions” have cut 4.6 billion dollars from the schools. We have larger classes and fewer teachers.  School reform has stopped- except for the politicians hot air.  School funding makes up a total of 30% of the state budget.  Any crisis in the state budget and any cuts in the state budget will make school budgets worse.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fetishizing School Chiefs Hurts Kids

by Randy Shaw, 2010-11-22
Cathleen Black has had an extraordinary career as a media executive, but it was not until New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg designated her as the city’s new public school chancellor that she became an almost household name. On November 19, three New York Times reporters teamed up for a front-page story on Black that also took up an entire inside page, as the paper elevated a story for its New York section into national news. Is Black’s appointment so critical for NYC public school kids to justify ongoing national coverage in the Times? Can she make up for the ongoing cutbacks in school funding, increased class size, and lack of demonstrated progress of the corporate-backed emphasis on school testing? Unfortunately, the media’s excessive and irrational devotion to Black and other school chiefs as saviors for the nation’s school kids ignores these realities. The truth is that neither Black, nor any other school chief, can overcome inadequate school funding by running schools like corporate turnaround specialists, and fetishizing their importance distracts from schools real needs.

Education has to be the only field where rising to the top requires no experience. Careers spent in the profit-driven corporate world are not only not disqualifying, but are now identified as the best backgrounds for public school leadership.

This bizarre phenomenon could not have emerged without the media exalting this new breed of education leader. And the harm caused by such fetishizing of school chief’s was made particularly obvious last week by two stories involving the New York City public schools.

Rising Classroom Size v. Star Quality

Natomas (Sacramento) Teachers take pay cut

Sacramento area teachers agreed to a 7.5% wage cut to keep the state from taking over the financially strapped district. The story is in the Sacramento Bee today.
How did we get into this fix?  Well, first was the economic collapse caused by the bankers and the real estate fraud artists.  That took 13 Trillion from the economy crashing the U.S. and the international economy.  That produced a dramatic drop in sales tax and property taxes and a California economic crisis.  School funding reveals the nature of crisis.  In the last two years the k-12 budget “solutions” have cut 4.6 billion dollars from the schools. We have larger classes and fewer teachers.  School reform has stopped- except for the politicians hot air.  School funding makes up a total of 30% of the state budget.  Any crisis in the state budget and any cuts in the state budget will make school budgets worse.  The crisis will get worse.
California will need to raise taxes to fund the schools and to repair the social safety net.  Anti tax radicals and Republicans  oppose any tax increases.
Natomas was one of the early casualties.  Many more will follow- even with the teachers giving up salary.  The states and California are in a downward spiral and it will continue for at least 3-4 years.  The children, and the working people are paying for the robbery of the financial classes. And, they just held up unemployment benefits until the Republicans gave them a $700 Billion tax benefit.  This is how an oligarchy rules.
More at

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Sacramento Bee and the legislature continue to fail our schools

Today's Sacramento Bee (Dec. 3)  editorial calls for an infusion of new leadership to keep Natomas Unified from failing.  As described yesterday in the post below - Natomas is not failing.  It is under funded as are almost all schools districts in the state.  The Bee editorial board calls for "civic leaders"  to let Natomas Unified teaches know that they should settle and take a 7.9 % pay cut to balance the budget.
However, California school budgets are all in crisis and they will continue in crisis for several years as a consequence of the economic collapse of the housing market and the financial heist of Wall Street. ( See "the Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One" in the archives of choosing democracy blog.)
I would like to see the "civic leaders", including the Bee editorial board insist that the state adequately fund our schools.  Poll after poll show that the tax payers want their schools adequately funded, but the legislature has refused, and has been unable to fund the schools in this crisis. The Robles-Wong suite against California on school funding makes these points well.
This kind of crisis will engulf more and more school districts.  Those unwilling to take on the corporate elite- like the Sacramento Bee editorial board- will continue to call for the teaches to take the pay cut.  The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission chaired by Phil Angelides will soon make their report showing who really caused the crisis and who profited from the economic crisis. The Bee calls for new leadership but does not call upon the financial insiders to be held accountable and to pay for the crisis they have created.  The students will have a reduced education and the Bee will castigate the teachers. That is our future for the next few years.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Charters raid money from tax payers

They said charters would offer needed competition to community schools, but they didn’t say the competition would be about public dollars.  Last week Albany Times Union reported on the city’s Albany Leadership Charter High School for Girls “asking for $15 million in tax-free public financing to buy the brand-new charter high school for girls built by the Brighter Choice Foundation.”
Here’s the cute part. The nonprofit Brighter Choice Foundation, which runs all 11 charter schools in Albany and  erected the building at a cost of some $10.1 million, is directing its Charter Facilities Finance Fund to ask the city to back its selling tax-exempt bonds to investors so it can  buy the school building and — are you ready for this? — lease it back to Brighter Choice.

Forget about whether the deal sounds dodgy, because it does. If the deal also sounds a bit familiar, it may be because Thomas Carroll, the prime mover behind the Brighter Choice charter schools, has been profiting from a similarly questionable real estate tax loophole for the past several years, a story exposed earlier this year by Juan Gonzalez in the Daily News.
Critics say Carroll’s latest charter real estate trick runs counter to the purpose of the city providing tax free bonds, which is to jump-start job creation and promote economic development. No jobs will be created here; the school is already up and running. Where’s the public benefit in financing a project that’s already completed?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Congress of the People - San Francisco

Congress of the People West Coast Regional
Social and Economic Justice for All
Regardless of Race or Immigration Status
                Living Wage Jobs
                Universal Health Care
                Affordable Housing
                Quality Public Education
                Progressive Taxation of Corporations and the Wealthy
                Peace and Self-determination

Join us for discussion of the Democracy Charter ( submitted by Civil Rights Movement veteran Jack O’Dell and development of a People’s Platform.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Multicultural Conference - Sacramento

17TH Annual Multicultural
Education Conference
Keynote Speaker: Eugene Garcia, Ph.D.
Arizona: Resisting the New
{Anti}-Social Movement
Sat. Nov. 6.  University Union.  CSU –Sacramento.
For more information
Duane Campbell presentation:  Stop the anti immigrant, anti public school movement. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Reading, Signing and Celebration of "Hands on the Freedom Plow"

November 6, 2010
1pm to 5pm
University of San Francisco (USF)
Lone Mountain campus, Room: LM 100
For directions:

Come join us at USF on Saturday, November 6th when Bay Area Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement will host a coming-out book party for the long awaited "Hands on the Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC"  Every aspect of SNCC's history is represented in this anthology of 52 of the SNCC women who worked on the front lines of the Southern Freedom Struggle. Joining us on November 6th for readings and discussion will be nearly all of the contributors now living in the West: Jane Bond Moore, Cathy Cade, Peggy Dammond Preacely, Bettie Fikes, Betita Martinez, Maria Varela, and Jean Wiley. Special guest will be Faith Holsaert, a contributor and one of the six editors who labored for 15 years to get this book published.

Please pick up a copy of HANDS at your favorite independent bookstore, and ask them to stock it.  The university's bookstore has ordered a limited supply of about twenty copies for purchase at this event.

We look forward to seeing you!

A few logistics:

PARKING: Parking on the campus costs $10 and permits must be bought before 1 PM. Street parking is also available, and there is NO two-hour limitation on Saturdays.


1- Enter campus at the place marked "Lone Mountain entrance" on the campus map, drive to the top of the hill to the "guard shack" to purchase a permit.  Then drive to the Loyola lot on Lone Mountain.

2- Be sure to arrive before 1 PM.

REFRESHMENTS: We are unable to provide refreshments of any sort at this event.  However, there is a cafeteria in the building where you can purchase food and drinks.

Bay Area Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement (
For more information:

Upcoming events for SF Bay AREA people


How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice
Join us in welcoming Mark Warren, author of Fire In The Heart: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice.  Presentation and interactive discussion!
Friday, November 5th, 2010 * 6:00-8:00pm
Horace Mann Middle School, San Francisco, CA
3351 23rd Street (cross street Valencia), San Francisco
In FIRE IN THE HEART: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice (Oxford, September 2010) Mark Warren uncovers the processes through which white Americans become activists for racial justice. This first book of its kind reports accounts of the development of racial awareness drawn from in-depth interviews with fifty white activists in the fields of community organizing, education, and criminal justice reform.
This 411 offers a forum to discuss what is at the heart of Mark's book: White activists working for Racial Justice and, in particular, what this means for educators working in school systems.  Hear about Mark's research and findings as well as engage in an interactive presentation; get the 411!

Stand With Haiti's Grassroots Movement
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 Montgomery & Market, San Francisco
5 p.m. Rally
5:30 p.m. March
Ten months after the earthquake, Haiti's 1.5 million refugees remain in squalid camps with inadequate food, water, shelter, and work. The November elections have again barred Fanmi Lavalas, the most popular party, from participation, making any real choice for Haitians impossible.
We Demand: Solidarity, not charity * No sham elections * Return President Aristide * End the violence and human rights abuses * End the UN occupation
Sponsored by Haiti Action Committee.

StateWide Mobilizing Conference Against the Privatization of Public Education and Public Services October 30-31st @ SF State, 9am-3:30pm For more info:

Join a Teachers 4 Social Justice Study Group!
Peer-led professional development groups focused on a particular issue or theme.  Study Groups are small groups of up to 12 educators, led by teacher facilitators, which meet for six to ten sessions each. Study Groups follow different schedules, as some meet over about two months, and some meet till the end of the academic year.  Study Groups will start meeting this month, in October.  To learn more or register for a Study Group, visit our website, for more info on these groups:
   * T4SJ Book Club
   * Beginning Teacher Support: Rethinking Teaching through Social Justice
   * Critical Pedagogy: Theoretical Wrestling
   * From Punishment to Praise: Positive Behavior Support
   * Faces at the Bottom of the Well: Race in our Schools and Practice

Putting a price on professors

A battle in Texas over whether academic value can be measured in dollars and cents.

thanks to Rosemary Lee for sending this to me.  I read an article in the NY Times a year ago where a bunch of CEOs and presidents of colleges got together to discuss this possibility....looks like it is time for implementation.  Amazing!!!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Barbara Boxer v. Fiorina

Barbara Boxer;
The economic crisis was caused by finance capital and  the stimulus was too small.  It was small because that is all they could get through the  Republican resistance in the Senate.   But, the stimulus  was still the biggest jobs bill in U.S. history, and the biggest investment in public goods (schools, teachers, roads, bridges, clean energy, firefighters, cops, etc.). The health care bill has big flaws, including the lack of a public option. The nation  should have gone for Single Payer to save money and to improve the system.  But, Single Payer could not get through the Senate- it didn’t even pass the House.  Remember, we were unable to establish Single Payer by a direct vote in California.  How do you think it went in Tennessee, Nebraska, etc.? Obama, Barbara Boxer  and the Democrats  succeeded at extending health  coverage to virtually everyone and reining in major insurance abuses (on pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps, etc.) . Every  prior Democratic president for almost 60 years had tried and failed. Look at the history of social security. It started with much less.
Boxer worked with the Obama Administration  political team to prevent a second  Great Depression and put the country back on a halting
path to recovery.  Boxer and the Democrats delivered record tax cuts to the middle class and slashed nearly $200 billion in
corporate welfare.  The Obama  team  prevented the collapse of the Big Three automakers – over the objections of the Republicans and saved  more than 1 million jobs.  Imagine what Fiorina would do- off shore the auto industry.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Problems with using student test scores

October 22, 2010
Dear Colleague:
It is encouraging that there has been increased attention paid to improving the educational achievement of students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, it is unfortunate that much of the new policy discussion has focused on the mistaken belief that educational outcomes can be significantly improved by heavy reliance upon students' scores on standardized tests in mathematics and reading to evaluate, reward, and remove the teachers of these tested students.  We have recently co-authored a paper, Problems With the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers, which shows that even the most sophisticated use of test scores, called value added modeling (VAM), is a flawed and inaccurate way to judge whether teachers are effective or ineffective.
Adopting an invalid teacher evaluation system and tying it to rewards and sanctions is likely to lead to inaccurate personnel decisions, while also demoralizing teachers. Such a flawed system could lead talented teachers to avoid high-needs students and schools, or to leave the profession entirely, and discourage potentially effective teachers from pursuing careers in education. Moreover, heavy reliance on basic math and reading scores to evaluate teachers will further narrow and over-simplify the curriculum to focus only on the subjects, topics, and formats that are tested. We believe that the evidence shows that educational outcomes will suffer if policymakers establish systems of teacher evaluation, tenure and pay which rely heavily on student test scores.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Scapegoating teachers does not improve schools

Scapegoating teachers cannot improve the education of our children

On Sunday, October 10, Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City public school system, and Michelle Rhee, formerly the Washington, D.C. chancellor, published a "manifesto" in theWashington Post claiming that the difficulty of removing incompetent teachers "has left our school districts impotent and, worse, has robbed millions of children of a real future."
In a new brief, How to Fix Our Schools: It's more complicated, and more work, than the Klein-Rhee 'manifesto' wants you to believe, EPI Research Associate Richard Rothstein critiques the Klein-Rhee approach, and calls for a different agenda, which includes improving teacher quality but also many other equally, if not more important school and out of school initiatives. Among these are improving school leadership, curriculum, and teacher collaboration, and taking other initiatives to improve children's ability to succeed by coming to school in better health and with more adequate experiences in early childhood and in out-of-school time. The brief also warns that school leaders cannot ignore the disastrous consequences of the current economic crisis for their ability to nurture and educate our youth.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to fix our schools: a manifesto

Manifesto' should be resignation letter
 By Kevin G. Welner

For a concise compilation of today's fads and gimmicks in education, go read "How to fix our schools: A manifesto by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and other education leaders," published in the Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post [].

The sort of nonsense about education found in the new manifesto [] has become astoundingly commonplace, but this time it came not from a Hollywood filmmaker or a Washington think-tank advocate but from the leaders of 16 of the nation's major city school districts.
According to the manifesto [], "It's time for all of the adults -- superintendents, educators, elected officials, labor unions and parents alike -- to start acting like we are responsible for the future of our children." Absolutely. Members of each of these groups can do more - a lot more.

In fact, we should start by removing the irresponsible signers of this manifesto from any position of power over "the future of our children."

Are the adults who signed this manifesto acting responsibly when they bash teachers, and only teachers? What about the "superintendents" and "elected officials" who are conveniently never mentioned again in the Manifesto but who actually have some control over the resources available to students and their teachers?

Are these adults acting responsibly when they advocate for even more test-based accountability and school choice? Over the past two decades, haven't these two policies dominated the reform landscape - and what do we have to show for it? Wouldn't true reform move away from what has not been working, rather than further intensifying those ineffective policies? Are they acting responsibly when they promote unproven gimmicks as solutions?

Are they acting responsibly when they do not acknowledge their own role in failing to secure the opportunities and resources needed by students in their own districts, opting instead to place the blame on those struggling in classrooms to help students learn?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

PACT teacher education

 Ann Berlak responds to responses to her article in Rethinking Schools

  Like many of us in the field, Cap Peck would like to protect teachers and teacher education from public disrespect. He seems to think that PACT will help us accomplish this feat. If only that were so. However, if the plague of standardized K-12 testing has taught us anything, it’s that standardized testing is far more likely to be used to control and degrade educational institutions and teachers. As the Race to the Top so clearly demonstrates, it’s likely that under a PACT regime teacher education programs would be ranked, rewarded, and punished in terms of their students’ scores on PACT.
  The key question is whether PACT scores accurately and objectively measure quality teaching. That PACT assessments are neither reliable nor valid is certain to become widely apparent in the next decade.
Peck claims PACT has not displaced clinical judgment of university field supervisors. It’s hard to reconcile this with the fact that too-low PACT scores prevent candidates from receiving credentials, regardless of their supervisors’, teachers’, and mentors’ evaluations.
  Contrary to Peck’s assumption, I am not happy with the state of teacher education, in part because of the profession’s lukewarm commitment to promoting critical thinking, social justice, and empowerment. These goals are peripheral to PACT. But I do not advocate making these goals the focus of a high-stakes exit exam based on rubrics constructed by experts. Instead, we need an assessment process that promotes democratic empowerment for students, teachers, and diverse communities.
  Debra Luna, who is the chair of the department where I teach, read my article as a critique of the credential program at San Francisco State. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have great respect for the program. I wrote the article because I feared that PACT would be going national and I wanted to share my perspective on how it has been experienced by a number of credential candidates and faculty across the state. As a recent article about PACT in Education Week (“State Group Piloting Teacher Prelicensing Exam,” Sept. 1) attests, my fear was not unwarranted.
   It is true, as Luna claims, that all assessors have backgrounds in teaching, but they do not necessarily have particular expertise in areas they will be assessing (e.g., second language acquisition or teaching mathematics). The question of whether having a teaching background is sufficient expertise was raised by colleagues at another California university.
   Luna says there is no trade-off between paying for PACT and paying for supervision. The fact that there has been no reduction in resources devoted to supervision in our program as a direct result of PACT is irrelevant. Money that could be spent on supervision—and on stipends to co-operating teachers—is being spent on administering PACT and on paying scorers to use an unreliable and invalid assessment instrument.
Once again, I want to be clear that my article was not a criticism of any individual or program. Departments of education do PACT because it, or an equally questionable instrument, is required by law.

NEAP's critique of Obama's Blueprint for Reform

Weak Blueprint
A new report from the National Education Policy Center looks at the research base of the Obama administration's Blueprint for Reform, the proposed revisions to the ESEA. Scholars were asked to examine the Blueprint's six research summaries -- College- and Career-Ready Students; Great Teachers and Great Leaders; Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners and Other Diverse Learners; A Complete Education; Successful, Safe, and Healthy Schools; and Fostering Innovation and Excellence. Each reviewer concluded that the overall quality of the summaries is far below that required for a national policy discussion of critical issues. Overly simplified, biased, and too-brief explanations of complex issues are provided, with many critical omissions. The Blueprint has no mention of an accountability system to determine how schools will be evaluated. So-called intervention models for low-scoring schools are not developed or supported with research. No data are given to demonstrate how competitive grants can leverage improvement for both winners and losers of competitions, and proposed policy solutions in general do not logically or effectively match or resolve stated problems. Reviewers found an overall neglect of peer-reviewed research, and an over-reliance on information from special interest groups, think tanks, government documents, and the media, as well as an over-reliance on the reliability of test scores.
See the report:

Thanks to the weekly PEN newsblast.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Waiting for School Reform

Grading 'Waiting for Superman'
Published on The Nation (

Here's what you see in Waiting for Superman, the new documentary that celebrates the charter school movement while blaming teachers unions for much of what ails American education: working- and middle-class parents desperate to get their charming, healthy, well-behaved children into successful public charter schools.
Here's what you don't see: the four out of five charters that are no better, on average, than traditional neighborhood public schools (and are sometimes much worse); charter school teachers, like those at the Green Dot schools in Los Angeles, who are unionized and like it that way; and noncharter neighborhood public schools, like PS 83 in East Harlem and the George Hall Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama, that are nationally recognized for successfully educating poor children.
You don't see teen moms, households without an adult English speaker or headed by a drug addict, or any of the millions of children who never have a chance to enter a charter school lottery (or get help with their homework or a nice breakfast) because adults simply aren't engaged in their education. These children, of course, are often the ones who are most difficult to educate, and the ones neighborhood public schools can't turn away.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review: Waiting for Superman

I haven't seen the film yet.  Here is a critical review.
by Rick Ayers.

An Inconvenient Superman: Davis Guggenheim's New Film Hijacks School Reform

Davis Guggenheim's 2010 film Waiting for Superman is a slick marketing piece full of half-truths and distortions. The film suggests the problems in education are the fault of teachers and teacher unions alone, and it asserts that the solution to those problems is a greater focus on top-down instruction driven by test scores. It rejects the inconvenient truth that our schools are being starved of funds and other necessary resources, and instead opts for an era of privatization and market-driven school change. Its focus effectively suppresses a more complex and nuanced discussion of what it might actually take to leave no child behind, such as a living wage, a full-employment economy, the de-militarization of our schools, and an education based on the democratic ideal that the fullest development of each is the condition for the full development of all. The film is positioned to become a leading voice in framing the debate on school reform, much like Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth did for the discussion of global warming, and that's heartbreaking.
I'm not categorically opposed to charter schools; they can and often do allow a group of creative and innovative teachers, parents, and communities to build schools that work for their kids and are free of the deadening bureaucracy of most districts. These schools can be catalysts for even larger changes. But there are really two main opposing positions in the "charter movement" -- it's not really a movement, by the way, but rather a diverse range of different projects. On one side are those who hope to use the charter option to operate effective small schools that are autonomous from districts. On the other side are the corporate powerhouses and the ideological opponents of all things public who see this as a chance to break the teacher's unions and to privatize education. Superman is a shill for the latter. Caring, thoughtful teachers are working hard in both types of schools. But their efforts are being framed and defined, even undermined, by powerful forces that have seized the mantle of "reform."

The film dismisses with a side comment the inconvenient truth that our schools are criminally underfunded. Money's not the answer, it glibly declares. Nor does it suggest that students would have better outcomes if their communities had jobs, health care, decent housing, and a living wage. Particularly dishonest is the fact that Guggenheim never mentions the tens of millions of dollars of private money that has poured into the Harlem Children's Zone, the model and superman we are relentlessly instructed to aspire to. Those funds create full family services and a state of the art school. In a sleight of hand, the film magically shifts focus, turning to "bad teaching" as the problem in the poor schools while ignoring these millions of dollars that make people clamor to get into the Promise Academy. As a friend of mine said, "Well, at least now we know what it costs."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Michele Rhee as the voice of school reform ?

Tonight NBC news with Bryan Williams advanced a  controversial opinion as fact tonight.
Bryan Williams described Michele Rhee as a leading voice of school reform.  In fact she is a major voice for one particular view of school reform- the corporate-test driven model.
Here is the transcript.  The oral statement was even stronger.  I encourage you to contact NBC and to protest. Please request a balanced report. The e mail is at the end of the transcript.

;Bryan Williams  NBC . Tonight.
washington, d.c., voters fired their mayor. while it was just a city mayor's race, that washington election result last night was heard across the country by those who follow education reform. that's because the defeat of mayor fenty means the departure of a big reformer. michelle ree is the chancellor of schools in d.c. this comes just as her profile is about to explode even bigger because of a new film called "waiting for superman." that premieres tonight in washington. our own tom costello is there for us.

middle school experiences crucial to success in High School?

and here's the New York Times version of the story.

At Kathleen Cecil's memorial service on August 30th, several of her students testified to Kathleen's stubborn believe in their abilities in spite of their negative attitudes about themselves upon entering 9th grade. (e.g., "I was determined not to do what she wanted me to do."). Invariably, these students of color implicitly attributed their negative attitude towards teachers and school to their middle school experiences. When I asked a parent of a former middle school student about this, she said, by the time black students get to high school, "they are fed up." I think the suspension rate is only the tip of the iceberg....we must look deeper.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Comcast pulled this ad about Meg Whitman. Sponsored by CTA

Comcast pulled this ad from its cable channels. It decided.
Now, you get to decide.


Thursday, September 02, 2010

Testing more while failing at school reform

There are schools that work well, and schools that work poorly.  The schools that work well almost always are in middle class neighborhoods, and the schools that work poorly are in poor neighborhoods.  When these students are brought together in comprehensive high schools- the lower class kids do poorly and the middle class kids do well.
There are skilled teachers, unskilled teachers, and poor teachers. The most recent evidence on Teach for America shows no particular merit in their approaches.
Research does not support the use of test scores, including value added testing as a reliable source of evaluation (See prior blog on this.) The New York Times has an article today by Sam Dillon that describes the controversy well
The essence of the argument around value added testing  as promoted in the Los Angeles Times series is that poor teachers should be eliminated.  One assumption is that individual teachers can change the school trajectory of kids.  While good teachers are important, the Broader, Bolder Approach work demonstrates that  communities need to improve the educational environment, not just hire and fire new teachers.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

California loses on Race to the Top

SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today issued the following statement after learning California was not selected as a winner for Phase 2 funding of the federal Race to the Top (RTT) competition.
"I am deeply disappointed that our application was not chosen as a winner in the Race to the Top competition. However, the loss of the funding may slow, but not defeat, our efforts to improve student achievement in California," O'Connell said. "We remain fully committed to continue seeking the strategies and resources demanded to accelerate our efforts to close the achievement gap among different groups of students by creating fundamental and far-reaching reforms.
"Our application focused on the necessary elements to help us meet the needs of our lowest-performing students and help us raise the ceiling for students who are already performing at high levels. These elements included rigorous, internationally benchmarked standards, effective use of data, more emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the most important ingredient of all—effective and accountable teachers and principals. These are the fundamentals that will improve achievement in the short run and for the long term so that we can create a statewide system of excellence in our public schools.