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.