HITTING LEFT ON MIXCLOUD

With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Friday, July 31, 2009

TFA replacement squads used against career educators

Look who's in denial

Gregg Toppo
in USA Today writes that TFA teachers are being brought in to replace laid-off experienced teachers in Boston, North Carolina and elsewhere. Isn't that how they were used by Vallas after they busted the teachers union in post-Katrina New Orleans? After all, TFA-ers do work cheap.
In Boston, TFA corps members replaced 20 pink-slipped teachers, says Boston Teachers Union President Richard Stutman. "These are people who have been trained, who are experienced and who have good evaluations, and are being replaced by brand-new employees."

In March, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., schools Superintendent Peter Gorman told board members he was laying off hundreds of teachers but sparing 100 TFAers because the district "made a commitment to this program." Gorman noted that TFA teachers "are placed at schools with high populations of underprivileged students where the placement of personnel has proven to be difficult."
Funny--Rotherham is in a state of denial over Toppo's story. A tweeting Russo enjoys AR's "meltdown." Me too.

Las Vegas turnaround

They did it without firing teachers, closing the school, or privatizing the management. Principal Ron Montoya of Valley High School tells the Las Vegas Sun how.

Rescue Me

After reading Chicago Mag's piece on Ron Huberman, the The Reader's Ben Joravsky counts this as the fourth time Mayor Daley has "rescued" Chicago's public schools.
This time around he's bringing in Huberman to rescue the system from Arne Duncan, who was brought in to rescue it from Paul Vallas and Gery Chico, who were brought in to rescue it from—oh hell, even I can't remember. Apparently, the schools need rescuing now more than ever. "What Huberman is walking into is a mess," reads a quote from the story. (Don't tell President Obama—he hired Duncan to rescue the Department of Education.)
Jogging Ben's memory: Vallas was brought in to rescue the system from Argie Johnson, the last of the African-American superintendents (now they're all white guys and are called CEOs).



Thursday, July 30, 2009

These are the guys Duncan wants to run the schools?

The Old Testament story has Abraham bargaining with God over the destruction of Sodom. God says he will not destroy the city if Abe can produce 50 righteous citizens. Abe gets him down to 10 but dares go no lower.

Arne Duncan has made a fetish out of the mayoral control issue. He's become the nation's leading advocate for top-down, unfettered control of public schools by big city mayors. He's even made mayoral control a benchmark for his success as Sec. of Education.
"At the end of my tenure, if only seven mayors are in control, I think I will have failed," Duncan said. (Teacher Magazine)
So I'm waiting for him to tell us what he plans to do about New Jersey, now that the mayors of Hoboken, Ridgefield, and Seacaucus have all been busted for things like money laundering and (ugh!) selling body parts. They join a long, long list of N.J. and other urban mayors currently in the slammer or on their way, including:
Passaic, NJ Mayor Samuel Rivera
Jersey City Mayor Jeremiah Healey
Bayonne, NJ Mayor Joseph Doria
Jackson MS Mayor Frank Melton
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Birmingham, Al Mayor Larry Langford
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon
Racine, WI Mayor Gary Becker
Gee, I hope I haven't left anyone out.

Hundreds of Jersey mayors, deputy mayors and other officials have gone to prison over the years. And they're just the ones who've been caught. It's actually hard to find a N.J. city without a record of corrupt mayors. Take Newark for instance, where according to the WSJ's Brad Parks:
You have to go back to 1962 in New Jersey’s largest city to find a mayor who completed his time in office and wasn’t later indicted for it. The current mayor, the ever-trendy Cory Booker, has positioned himself as a real reformer. Yet so had the former mayor, Sharpe James, when he came into office in 1986... But that still pales in comparison to Hugh Addonizio, who left the U.S. House of Representatives to reign over Newark City Hall from 1962-1970, in part because, as he was quoted as saying, “You can’t make much money as a Congressman, but as mayor you can make a million bucks.”
But don't worry Arne. I'm confident that if you search carefully, you can find more than 7 still running free. But a biblical warning--don't go any lower.

And New Jersey--please don't take this post personally. After all, I live in Chicago.

Are you now or have you ever been...?

With his usual disingenuous I'm-just-saying innuendo, Russo launches a get-to-the-bottom-of-this investigation ("AKA's too powerful in CPS?") of a black sorority with lots of Chicago educators and administrators among its members. Funny, I still remember when Chicago was forced by a deseg consent decree (still in effect) to first hire black/Latino principals.

Russo rallies his readers to name names and tell stories out of school. Several do it gladly, regaling us with tales of a sorority "sistah" being promoted in the bureacracy's ranks, over someone more deserving.

But as Russo well knows, the real power in CPS, doesn't reside in any black or Latino frats or sororities. Not on Daley's plantation, that is. Remember, Huberman was picked over logical choice and sorority member, Barbara Eason Watkins, to run the mayor's schools. Before Huberman, there was Duncan and before Duncan, Vallas. This in a district where 93% of students are children of color. Thousands of black teachers have lost their jobs and dozens of schools in the black community have been closed under Daley's Renaissance 2010.

Maybe it's the Chicago Civic Committee (CCC not AKA) that Russo should be investigating. Does he even have a clue about why black sororities and frats were created in the first place?

Racing to the bottom

California's already ravaged school districts are ineligible for federal Race to the Top dollars, reports Edweek's Michele McNeil. So are states like New York and Wisconsin. The reason? They all have laws barring the use of standardized test scores to determine individual teacher salaries, in violation of RTT guidlines.

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Fernando Camberos often comments here on SmallTalk. Check out his compelling piece, "Expected to Fail: Making the Familiar Strange," on the Demockracy blog. I'm adding it to my course syllabus for the fall.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shorts

Here's how the supt. selection game is now played in urban school districts. Don't tell the public.

A gloomy Huff poster says school reform can't happen--ever. Blame the kids, b-ball, everything.


I hated the idea of building another 5,000-student high school in L.A. Especially one built on a toxic site. But now that it's built, the Belmont Zone of Choice with its autonomous small schools (Pilot Schools) for students in downtown L.A. looks interesting.

Green Dot's Steve Barr and UTLA prez A.J. Duffy go at it on KPCC. Listen here.

Inside Chicago's School Renaissance

"It's a good thing..."-- No it's not Martha Stewart

Reason # 437 why (sorry, Arne) Mayor Daley shouldn't be running the schools

The city's magnet schools, which were created to meet court-ordered racial deseg requirements, have become another link, like jobs and contracts, in the patronage chain. Daley's response:
In responding to claims that clout played a role in magnet school applications in the city, Mayor Richard M. Daley said Chicagoans should be glad that students are competing to get into Chicago Public Schools. "Thank God people are trying to get in," Daley said at an unrelated news conference Tuesday. "It's a good thing." (Channel 2 News)

Closing the gap

National Journal Online asks its teacher-free panel of experts, what to do to close the achievement gap? The response from most is the usual blah, blah, blah. Monty Neill and Pedro Noguera, as expected, are on target. Andrew Rotherham, as expected, is the worst. He's still moaning over the collapse of Reading First, the great neocon reading swindle that nearly got past the investigators.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ownership Society news

Taking the public out of public schools
If it's broke, fix it, right? Only what happens when the people who are supposed to fix it are the ones who broke it in the first place? And they happened to have run out of the money it's going to likely take to do the fixing? Easy solution: Sell management of the school(s) to the highest--well, "superior"--bidder. (4LAKids)
Where's Rhee?

My brother wants to know what ever happened to Michelle Rhee? Anybody? Anybody?


The pub biz

Pearson Publishing
, along with rivals Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and McGraw-Hill (main profiteer and beneficiary from Bush's scandal-ridden $4.8 billion Reading First program), dominate the textbook and test publishing markets. But digital publishing and major cuts in public school budgets (especially in California) are gnawing into Pearson's bottom line, reports Forbes and WSJ. The British-based company will still do okay because it is well diversified but its U.S. education business accounts for 80% of its total sales.

According to Forbes:
There is still hope that the Obama administration's strong emphasis on education could benefit Pearson. "Around $6 billion from the U.S. stimulus package will go into books and materials. This will definitely benefit Pearson," said Lorna Tilbian, an analyst at Numis.
The big three are all depending heavily on the boost from Obama's stimulus package and increased demand for testing, testing and more testing. You can imagine how hard and in which direction their lobbyists will be pushing.

Rabbits, rebels, and laggards

Tom VanderArk, as much as anyone, helped set the Gates Foundation's education program on its current tragic course. It was VDA who, before he was bounced from leadership, claimed that high school transformation was "too difficult," pushing instead for closing 1,000 high schools, devastating entire neighborhoods, and replacing them with privately-managed charters. The latter have been shown to perform no better on average, than the former. It was also VDA who created the conditions for Gates' abandonment of small schools.

Now he's at it again. Writing on Huffington, VDA gives Obama's Race-to-The-Top (RTT) reforms their worst possible spin. RTT's 8 major points are broad enough to unite blue-dog republicrats with the leadership of the teacher unions. But VDA can't resist putting his own divisive stamp on them.

In his words, the $4.35 billion in RTT money should be be used to "feed the rabbits" (the states ready to move) and not "the rebel, laggard, and the complacent states" [let's just call them RLCs-mk.]. I guess the RLC states are any who question things like the willy-nilly expansion of privately-managed charters or more testing madness.

To give you an indication of where VDA is going with this, one of the rabbits he wants to feed, the only one he mentions by name, is Florida, the state with the largest high schools in the nation to go along with the lowest high school completion rate. Florida's school grading system, using ABCDF letter grades to label districts based solely on FCAT scores, became the laughing stock of the nation when dozens of A and B districts were punished by the feds for failing to make AYP under No Child Left Behind.

RTT demands that districts develop high quality data systems. If Florida with its Jeb Bush/FCAT legacy, becomes the model for rabbits, one can better understand the RLC's. Thanks for clarifying, Tom.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bloomberg turns his guns on Deb Meier


Mayor-for-life wannabe Bloomberg is rapidly becoming the poster boy for those who question Arne Duncan's mantra of mayoral control of the schools. Bloomberg has lately been throwing fits and striking out wildly against any and all who question his autocratic one-man rule over public education. Now he's even launched a personal assault against renown educator Deborah Meier and her relationship with NYU's prestigious Steinhardt School of Education.

Writes Wayne Barrett in the Village Voice:
The protracted battle between Mayor Bloomberg and senate Democrats -- featuring the mayor's comic Neville Chamberlain attempt to liken the Dems to Nazis -- revolved around the original amendment's language, which proposed that the parent funding go to NYU's Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. The Bloomberg negotiators, according to a senate source, threw a fit at the thought of it.
I pointed out in last Wednesday's post, that the Mayor was claiming that state Democrats were trying to "shower enemies of mayoral control" with $1.6 million, and slamming Meier. The mayor's "enemies" in this case are simply those trying to educate and prepare parents for their rightful role as educational change agents.
"The mayor got his facts wrong," says Meier, who has authored articles questioning Bloomberg's school achievement claims. "But even if he got his facts right, it would have been disgraceful to block the funding for the reasons he said. He needs a little understanding of academic freedom." Meier called the Bloomberg/Klein denial of the funding "blackmail," accusing them of "threatening anyone out there who disagrees with their version of mayoral control."

Starving schools into "reform"


Arne Duncan has $4.35 billion (spread out over 50 states and several years) in Race-To-The-Top money to "incentivize" (is that a real word?) his top-down school reform model. It's about the same size as Bush's failed Reading First program. Aside from the fact that the model (lifting charter caps, more testing, performance pay) has no more research juice behind it than Reading First had, his RTTT leverage money is a piddling amount compared to what's needed to keep schools afloat--let along do systemic change.

Just look at California for a minute, with a state deficit of $26 billion and 99% of its schools failing to meet NCLB standards. The State Senate just cut $15 billion from education and health care.

Sure, some states will raise charter caps, as Illinois did (even where the previous cap hasn't been reached yet) just to have a better shot at the stim money. But is that a real reform plan? Uh uh. In fact, in some cases it's downright retrograde.

Take Wisconsin for example. A progressive Wisconsin Legislature has made it illegal to tie teacher pay to the sole criteria of test scores. Tipping his hat to the most conservative forces in the state, like the Bradley Foundation, Duncan is now threatening to deny federal dollars to already underfunded urban districts in the state unless the legislature revokes its own state law.

Friday, July 24, 2009

More chuckles...


Arne says lifting charter school caps, closing thousands of schools, firing teachers, etc... is ed reform's "moon shot."LOL.

GAO doesn't like D.C. school Rhee-form

The report criticizes supt.'s "lack of foresight in the often hurried implementation of new initiatives" as well as Rhee's failure to involve "stakeholders" like teachers and parents in much of her early decision making. (D.C. Examiner)

Sometimes you just have to laugh at them

Ron Huberman was surprised to learn of the "secret job fair."
(Rich Hein/Sun-Times)
Chicago Public Schools officials burst into laughter this week after a teacher announced at a School Board meeting that she heard a rumor CPS was holding a "secret job fair'' July 31."I can dispel the rumor,'' schools CEO Ron Huberman told the giggling crowd. "There are no secret teacher fairs. Any teacher fairs are public. Everyone is invited, and they are advertised.'' Hours later, Huberman hit the roof after learning CPS was, indeed, planning what some might call a "secret job fair.'' (Sun-Times)
It all makes Jesse Alred wonder, who are the real reformers?


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tough times for small-schoolers

Tom Hoffman doesn't mince any words with Commissioner Gist over the destruction of small schools in Providence.
The work done in small high schools opened in Providence over the past decade is being quickly and unceremoniusly ended in the name of uniformity and strictly standardized curriculum. (Tuttle SVC)
In Oskosh, smaller may be better, but...
“Small schools do a better job educating kids, but there is a point of no return. I’m sorry. I’m going to have to support closing green meadow and Lincoln,” said board member Dan Becker. (Northwestern.com)
Georgia has one of the lowest grad rates

Like Georgia, nearly half of the 17 states probed in the national study showed some improvement in their overall graduation rates during the study period. North Carolina gained some traction in improving its graduation rates, the report said, and became a leader in innovation with the New School Project, a public-private partnership that created up to 100 small schools designed to help students earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, tuition free, in five years. (AJC)
And in Howard County, they're closing Friendship Elementary...

"It's a small, older school, but the infrastructure isn't old. It's well maintained," he said. "The staff seems to have a lot of longevity there. The staff seems very cohesive. "For me, the big draw is just the small school. They're making these mega-schools now. The kids could easily get lost in the shuffle."(Howard County Times)

We're talking real money here

Career pathways

The House Appropriations Committee has put $135 million into the pot for Career Pathways. While this may not sound like much for such an important program, it's a 10% increase over the Bush budget. Good. While the money is mainly targeted for community colleges and local adult ed providers, I would guess it's also another potential resource for high school Smaller Learning Communities and Career Academies.

Watch your back (knees) William

Bloomberg's opposition candidate, William Thompson better watch out. The mayor-for-life wannabe doesn't like folks he can't control and he has $60 million in his war chest to beat his opponents down. But that hasn't stopped Thompson from exposing the real numbers behind the Bloomberg/Klein reform. He says, the first thing he'd do if elected is fire Chancellor Klein.

Duncan's mantra

Arne Duncan's recent mantra has been, mayoral control of urban school districts. OOPS! It's tough to run schools and make license plates at the same time.

'Selective Enrollment' in Chicago

Latest from inside Daley/Duncan's school Renaissance
At the time, then-CPS chief Arne Duncan insisted the selective enrollment program was free from bias. Duncan said a lottery system used to select students worked as intended, despite rumors that students were admitted based on other factors. (Chicago Breaking News)
A recipe for failure

After nearly a decade of standards-based (NCLB) reform, top-down, Gates-funded initiatives, school closings replaced by privately-managed charter schools, state takeovers (Oakland), and revolving-door superintendents (L.A.), here's where California is at:

Nearly all (99%) of the state's schools are failing to make AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) under NCLB requirements (FairTest projections).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Showering Bloomberg's enemies


That's how the N.Y. post describes a proposed community-based training program for parents, at NYU's Metropolitan Center for Urban Education.
Democrats in the state Senate want to shower enemies of mayoral school control with up to $1.6 million a year to operate a citywide parent-training center
OMG! "Showering the enemy"???

Isn't this why we invaded Afghanistan? Can we allow NYU to become a training base for the Mayor's enemies, ie. Al qaeda parents??


Deb Meier says:
"Today, parent power and citizen and community voices have entirely disappeared," Meier wrote for a book panning Bloomberg's education record. "There is nothing that lies between the million families whose children attend our public schools and the system itself."
Deb is obviously one of those shower-ers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quotables

The "turnaround" business
“States will have lots of money they have to spend quickly,” he said. “Providers could just hang out their shingles, rename their existing staff, and call themselves turnaround partners.” (William E. Guenther, president of Mass Insight)

Metaphors for change--Stab 'em or beat 'em
“You need to have an accurate diagnosis of why each of those 5,000 schools are failing,” he said. “It’s crucial. Sometimes you need a two-by-four to get change. Other times you need a scalpel.” (New Visions President Robert Hughes)
Klonsky quote
Huberman’s biggest challenge, however, will likely come as he tries to adapt performance management to a practice as subjective and heavy with variables as teaching children. Many educators, unconvinced by Duncan’s data-reliant efforts and aggravated by the testing-dependent federal No Child Left Behind law, remain skeptical. “You end up missing, devaluing the role of teachers. You’re turning teachers into delivery clerks,” warns Mike Klonsky, an education professor at DePaul and the director of the Small Schools Workshop, a consulting group. ("Numbers Man" by Ryan Blitstein in Chicago Mag)

Bloomberg: "We're going to have people in the streets..."

Mayoral Out of Control News

During last week’s radio address, Mayor Bloomberg sounded the alarm:
“they want to have this slush fund to train parents so that parents can disrupt the schools. I want our principals and our teachers to run the classroom…. [C]an you imagine?! We’re going to have people on the streets to tell our police department how to work? No, we don’t want to do that.”
Bloomberg was referring to a portion of the revised Better Schools Act that calls for the creation of a center for parent and student service and empowerment. The center would educate parents and students about ways to get involved in the school system and would encourage more participation in parent-teacher associations and school leadership teams.

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Then comes this item from the NYT reporting that as classrooms grow more crowded, New York public schools have been told to stop independently hiring teaching assistants with money raised by parents.

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How Mayor B gets charter scores up

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If Fenty is re-elected...

Harry Jaffe
at WashingtonExaminer.com on Rhee's tenure
Rhee is here for the long haul. She's counting on Adrian Fenty getting elected to another term, which would give her six more years to remake the schools. "At the end of the second term," she tells me, "there's a good chance the achievement gap between white and black students will be closed."
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Gerald Bracey at Huffington: Mayoral control is "the new tyranny."

Power philanthropy


Bill Gates abandoned high-school reform. Said it was "too difficult." Instead he wants to stop hurricanes and make cows that don't fart. What fun, Bill!

What if charter schools had been included in the study?

Last month, the Consortium on Chicago School Research came out with its report, "The Schools Teachers Leave: Teacher Mobility in Chicago Public Schools," revealing CPS's chronically high rates of teacher turnover, especially in schools serving low-income, African-American children.

You may remember that the study failed to include any data from Chicago charter schools. Even without that data, CPS still showed an alarmingly high teacher attrition rate. Chicago schools, under the Duncan regime, lost more than half of all their teachers within five years -- and about two-thirds of their new ones.

One researcher later told me that such data was never made available by the charters nor by CPS. Part of the problem, it seems, was the cheating that went on at the time, with Duncan circumventing the charter law by allowing charter management organizations to operate nearly 50 schools under 27 charters. As a consequence, data collection on each school was made extremely difficult.

Many of us wondered at the time, how much worse Chicago's teacher attrition rate might have looked had charters been included in the study? Some indications might be found in this national study by two Vanderbilt researchers and mentioned back in April in Debra Viadero's Edweek blog, showing that the
odds that a teacher in a charter school will leave the profession are 230 percent greater than the odds that a teacher in a traditional public school in their state will do so.

Other studies show about 40% of new charter school teachers leaving the profession. That's about twice the rate of regular public school teachers.


Monday, July 20, 2009

'Improved statistical housekeeping' in D.C.


Another miracle?

No, it's not the Texas miracle (Rod Paige). It's not the Chicago miracle (Arne Duncan) either. No, this time we're all talking about the Michelle Rhee miracle in D.C. If you haven't already heard the news, test scores have gone up in the nation's capital, under Rhee's precise and decisive test-prep strategy.

Yes, elementary schools increased their scores by 8.1 % in math, 3.8% in reading. In the middle and high schools it was a 2% increase in reading and 4% in math.

What's the significance of all these numbers? Do they indicate a real improvement in teaching and learning? Well no. Not exactly. Do they reflect an improvement in the living conditions for students outside of school? Well no, not that either. Do they mean anything at all has changed in the classroom? No. Then what exactly did Supt. Rhee to increase scores on the DCComp tests?

It's simple, according to the Washington Post report. Taking her cue from Chicago, she used a strategy that relied on "improved statistical housekeeping."

Rhee's version includes,

"intensive test preparation targeted to a narrow group of students on the cusp of proficient, or passing, scores, and "cleaning the rosters" of students ineligible to take the tests -- and also likely to pull the numbers down." Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee described some of these approaches as the pursuit of "low-hanging fruit."

Others call it educational triage.

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The Second International Handbook of Educational Change is out. The blurb reads: "Written by the most influential thinkers in the field." Sounds like a must-read for a guy like me who aspires to be such a thinker. It's edited by some of my favorites--Andy Hargreaves and Ann Lieberman. So I went on Amazon to order a copy. Figured I'd read it over the summer break. Maybe even use it in my class next quarter. Guess what?Amazon has it on sale for only $588.73 (they throw in free-shipping). That's a savings of 18%, down from the list price of $679. It makes me wonder, what kind of "educational change" they're thinking about and who they think will make it?

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Another horrific story about the American Indian Public Charter Schools in Oakland, "The Education Revolution: Cookie Cutter Kids?

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How it all plays out in East Austin.

Buchanan's history lesson

Soldiers of the all-black 320th Battalion landing on the beaches of Normandy, France, shortly after dawn on June 6, 1944.

Pat Buchanan invoked a string of white supremacist arguments in making his case against Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. When asked by Rachel Maddow, why the Supreme Court has historically been a white men's club, Buchanan gave this account of U.S. history.
"White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks, who were 90% of the nation in 1960 when I was growing up and the other 10% were African-Americans who had been discriminated against.
Buchanan's diatribe, which obviously ignored centuries of black and brown labor, not to mention slavery (how could he not mention slavery?) in the building of this country, also purposefully whitewashed the pages of military history. Since Buchanan prides himself on his knowledge of history and knew full well that the Sotomayor appointment was a lost cause, his lies were obviously intended only to rally the dregs of what's left of his (Gingrich's and Palin's) Republican base.

Not that it matters for the purposes of defeating his ignorant argument against Sotomayor, but black soldiers and sailors did fight heroically against their former slave masters at Milliken's Bend during the Battle of Vicksburg. In fact, it was the first major Civil War battle in which African-American troops were extensively involved.

Some 60 years later, African-American soldiers would shed their blood on the battle fields of Europe in the fight against the nazis. The all-black 320th Battalion, was recently honored (by France) for being among the troops that fought and died on the beaches at Normandy on D-Day.

So far I've heard nothing from Buchanan's fellow Republicans, nor from Democrats for that matter, refuting this purposeful distortion of history.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bloomberg tells senators...


If you aren't for me running things, "you want to ruin the schools."

The mayor wants to "drag" senators back to Albany, by force if necessary, and make them pass mayor control legislation. As for those who still think mayoral control is up for further discussion--Bloomberg says, hell no.
“You wonder what goes through their heads,” he said, adding that the time for negotiations over mayoral control had passed. “It’s over. It’s stopped. You just can’t do that.” (Gotham Schools)

More on Obama's speech to the NAACP


A large portion of the speech was devoted to the topic of education. But these words never once appear in the speech:
  • Charter schools
  • Mayoral control
  • Performance pay
  • Turnaround schools
  • Ton of bricks
  • The Chicago Model

Can't we all get along?

Want to hear a speech where the great revolutionary thinker, W.E.B. DuBois and the neocon southern strategist Newt Gingrich each draw praise? Check out Obama's speech to the NAACP convention.
From the beginning, Du Bois understood how change would come – just as King and all the civil rights giants did later. They understood that unjust laws needed to be overturned; that legislation needed to be passed; and that Presidents needed to be pressured into action. They knew that the stain of slavery and the sin of segregation had to be lifted in the courtroom and in the legislature.

The state of our schools is not an African-American problem; it’s an American problem. And if Al Sharpton, Mike Bloomberg, and Newt Gingrich can agree that we need to solve it, then all of us can agree on that.

And what finer group could one find to be representative of America? I ask you. I wonder if Newt feels comfortable in such high-minded company? After all, he just led the attack on Obama's Supreme Court pick, Sonia Sotomayor, calling her a "racist."

Scientist shortage?

Scan Bureau of Labor Statistics projections and you won't find words like "crisis" or even "shortfall."
Hey, remember all those reports about scientist shortages? Remember how Bill Gates and others were blaming the schools for not turning out enough scientists and engineers and for hurting us in our competition with China and India?

Well, maybe not:
Numbers from the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics issued Tuesday showed the unemployment rate for electrical engineers hit a record high, 8.6%, in the second quarter, more than doubling from 4.1% in the first quarter... Meanwhile, emerging nations such as India and China produced nearly 700,000 engineers alone. But the slow growth of U.S.-born STEM workers, analysts say, may have less to do with funding commitments than with cloudy career paths and low wages relative to other specialized careers such as medicine, law and finance. (USA Today)
Unemployment, especially among older Silicon Valley engineers, has been a constant reality for the past 20 years. "But it's certainly gone into 'hyper mode' in the last six," says Alan Weissberger, a 61-year-old telecommunications engineer in Santa Clara, Calif., who admits to being "stumped" when people say there's a shortage of engineers..

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No "quick turnarounds", Sec. Duncan

So warns Chicago parent organizer Julie Woestehoff (PURE) in response to Duncan's pushing the "Chicago model" on other school districts. Duncan had claimed that, “Chicago’s success proves that we as a nation can expect dramatic and quick turnarounds in our lowest-performing schools.” In a letter to EdWeek, Julie proves that Duncan's claims don't add up.

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Even the far-right libertarians (no-govt. anarchists?) at the CATO Institute are calling the Chicago Miracle "a myth." And remember, these were the guys who actually made up the name, the Ownership Society.

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Think Tank West looks at Chicago's NAEP scores and finds that CPS's 1% increase is "pretty darn close to zero." Certainly nothing to write home about.

Two good reads

Garrett Delavan's book, The Teacher's Attention (Temple U.) makes the case for smaller schools and smaller classes, or as he calls it "relationship load reduction." Delavan is a high school teacher in Salt Lake City.

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Blue-Chip Black (University of California) by Karyn Lacy, is a study of middle-class African-Americans in Prince George's County, Maryland, one of the largest such communities in the nation. It's a community set apart from both poor blacks and whites -- avoiding traditional classrooms in favor of selective enrollment magnet schools or elite private schools. It is also a community being devastated by the current economic disaster, making Lacy's work that much more significant. She writes:
Cross-racial alliances are most prevalent in Prince Goerge's County, where the county's dismal fiscal conditions united black and white residents on key issues, namely development and schools.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ownership Society News

They're still hoping

Here's the title of the Fordham Institute's next panel discussion: "With charter schools ascendant, is there still a future for vouchers?"

Another neocon wingnut think tank, AEI, likes the general direction Arne Duncan is heading, but doesn't think he is going far enough or has enough "sticks" to get him there. AEI's Andy Smarick is also turned on by DFER, the pro-voucher, pro-privatization Democrat "reformers" who have lots of clout at Duncan's DOE. Smarick finds DFER "exciting," but he worries that these hedgefund reformers may be too gah-gah over Duncan and claiming victory "too early." He is right.

Bill Gates' card game

"Gates Foundation: Teachers trump class size" reads the E-School News headline. Makes me wonder whether Bill Gates' kids have to choose between a good teacher and small class size.