Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Common Core School Standards

Backer of Common Core School Curriculum Is Chosen to Lead College Board
By Tamar Lewin : New York Times
David Coleman, an architect of the common core curriculum standards that are being adopted in nearly all 50 states, will become the president of the College Board, starting in October.
Editors note: Common core standards is what the politicians talk about while cutting school budgets.  Such standards do not teach a single student.
“There’s no reason on earth for common core standards and these tests that we’re wasting billions of dollars on,” said Stephen Krashen, an emeritus education professor at the University of Southern California. “The problem is poverty, poverty, poverty. Middle-class children who go to well-funded schools do very well, but even the best tests, the most inspiring teachers, won’t mean anything if the kids don’t have enough to eat.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Proposal to close 25% of Philadelphia Schools

Reposted from Rethinking Schools.

by Jody Sokolower
Philadelphia teachers and parents—and educators throughout the country—were horrified a few weeks ago when Thomas Knudsen, the School District of Philadelphia’s chief recovery officer, unveiled a five-year plan to close 64 schools (25 percent of the system), move 40 percent of students into charters, slash the central office to 20 percent of its former capacity, and divide the rest of the district into “achievement networks” run by third-party operators.
Mayor Michael Nutter said the district faced near “collapse” and that the plan was something Philadelphians needed to “grow up and deal with.” Can you believe that city officials later admitted that the charters and achievement networks wouldn’t actually save the district any money?
We are proud that one of the voices of sanity and resistance came from Helen Gym, a Rethinking Schools editorial associate and longtime parent activist in Philly. We are reposting her open letter to Knudsen here—not only because it analyzes so articulately what is happening and what is at stake in Philly—but also because Philly is not alone. Similar “saving the district from collapse” scenarios have already played out or are in progress in cities as widespread as New Orleans, Detroit, and Chicago.

Commentary: You’re not speaking to me, Mr. Knudsen

by Helen Gym
I am the mother of three children in District and charter schools in this city. I have been actively involved in stopping good schools from decline and helping low-performing, violent schools turn around. I believe in the essential role that a high-quality public school system plays and have fought for that vision. My 7th grade son will soon have outlasted four superintendencies, including yours. And I’m here to tell you that you’re not speaking to me.
You’re not speaking to me with this brand of disaster capitalism that tries to shock a besieged public with unproven, untested, and drastic action couched as “solutions.” You’re not speaking to me when you invoke language like “achievement networks,” “portfolio management,” and “rightsizing” our schools – and say not a word about lower class sizes or increasing the presence of loving support personnel or enriching our curriculum.
You’re not speaking to me when you plan to close 25 percent of our schools before my son graduates high school. You’re not speaking to me when you equate closing down 64 schools – many of them community anchors – as “streamlining operations,” yet you’ll expand charter populations willy-nilly despite a national studyshowing two-thirds of Philly charters are no better or worse than District-managed schools.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What you need to know about ALEC

by Diane Ravitch

ear Deborah,
Since the 2010 elections, when Republicans took control of many states, there has been an explosion of legislation advancing privatization of public schools and stripping teachers of job protections and collective bargaining rights. Even some Democratic governors, seeing the strong rightward drift of our politics, have jumped on the right-wing bandwagon, seeking to remove any protection for academic freedom from public school teachers.
This outburst of anti-public school, anti-teacher legislation is no accident. It is the work of a shadowy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Founded in 1973, ALEC is an organization of nearly 2,000 conservative state legislators. Its hallmark is promotion of privatization and corporate interests in every sphere, not only education, but healthcare, the environment, the economy, voting laws, public safety, etc. It drafts model legislation that conservative legislators take back to their states and introduce as their own "reform" ideas. ALEC is the guiding force behind state-level efforts to privatize public education and to turn teachers into at-will employees who may be fired for any reason. The ALEC agenda is today the "reform" agenda for education.
ALEC operated largely in the dark for years, but gained notoriety because of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. It turns out that ALEC crafted the "Stand Your Ground" legislation that empowered George Zimmerman to kill an unarmed teenager with the defense that he (the shooter) felt threatened. When the bright light of publicity was shone on ALEC, a number of corporate sponsors dropped out, including McDonald's, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Mars, Wendy's, Intuit, Kaplan, and PepsiCo. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said that it would not halt its current grant to ALEC, but pledged not to provide new funding. ALEC has some 300 corporate sponsors, including Walmart, the Koch Brothers, and AT&T, so there's still quite a lot of corporate support for its free-market policies. ALEC claimed that it is the victim of a campaign of intimidation.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Teacher "Performance" Assessment, PACT

There is a New York Times article today about Resistance to Outsourcing Teacher Licensing.  Move to Outsource Teacher Licensing Process Draws Protest
... Student teachers at the University of Massachusetts are protesting a new national licensure procedure being developed by the education ...
May 6, 2012 - By MICHAEL WINERIP - Education - Article - Print Headline: "Move to Outsource Teacher Licensing Process Draws Protest"
A group of faculty and students at UMASS Amherst are resisting the assessment system developed and used in California, known as PACT. In the article Prof. Raymond Pecheone of Stanford and others claim there is no organized resistance to this testing.
To the contrary.  A group of faculty and students in the CSU have consistently resisted this testing as invalid and not reliable.  Here is a record of some of this resistance.
Duane Campbell.  Democracy and Education Institute. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

CSU Faculty vote to authorize state wide strike

Faculty Union in California votes to authorize a strike. Would be the first system wide strike in state history.
California State University faculty voted to  approved a measure to give their union leaders the power to authorize a strike next fall that could delay the beginning of school for thousands of students across the 23-campus university system.  The CSU is the 23 campus system of California.  The University of California does not have a faculty union with collective bargaining recognition although some of its staff and employees belong to unions.
A powerful 95% of the  faculty voters agreed that the CSU’s instructional faculty, should initiate rolling walkouts if the CSU administration continues to demand concessions.
Equally as impressive was the turnout, with 70% of CFA members voting to send an unmistakable message to Chancellor Charles B. Reed – state austerity is killing higher education in California.
Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, said, “Today, the faculty has spoken loud and clear – we have had enough of the way in which they are being treated by the CSU administration.”