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Unfortunately there is a huge “pro-business ed reform” bias in the mainstream media, so I was heartened to find this thoughtful and nuanced article examining the post-strike and pre-closing landscape in the Chicago Public Schools from the perspective of the actual teachers who are required to implement these policies. It was in the Atlantic of all places.

There were a couple of money quotes:

But The New York Times recently reported that only 3 percent―or fewer―of teachers under new systems in Florida, Tennessee and Michigan were rated unsatisfactory, raising questions about how effective that agenda will be. “The hope of the business folks is that this … will identify more failing teachers so they’ll be gotten rid of. I’m just not sure that’s going to happen,” said Sue Sporte, research operations director at the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research, which is studying the implementation of the evaluations in the Windy City. “If only 2.5 percent is rated unsatisfactory, I don’t know how satisfactory that will be to the constituency that believes that kids are failing because teachers are awful.”
Will that constituency finally follow the data or will they keep pushing more hair brained ‘reforms’, fire more teachers, strip their rights to bargain until the data conforms to their expectations?
Another point, entirely lost by the ‘reform crowd’ is that it’s pretty hard for anyone to teach you when your friends are getting killed, your parents are out of work or in jail, or the zip code you live in is poorer and more dangerous than most third world countries

Says one principle at a school that has buried several students this year

“If there was the assurance that this was going to be used properly, I don’t think teachers would be as anxious about it,” said Stamps, recording secretary of the union’s Black Caucus. “But when there’s such an attack on so many other areas, it’s just natural to be suspicious of this as well. Even if this could potentially have been a good thing, it’s just the time at which it’s being implemented.”
Stamps is highly critical of the portion of the evaluation that will come from test score improvement. “I have children in my classroom who have witnessed not one, not two, but three and four homicides, deal with homelessness, deal with molestation, deal with bullying, deal with being relocated from one place to another, parents just trying to figure out how to survive,” she said. “And then you want to know why they’re not testing at grade levels? … Then you want to tie–getting to your point–your teacher evaluations to how well your kids are doing on a test?”
Look at our inner cities, their schools, and the neighborhoods around them and you see a constituency entirely forgotten and abandoned by their government, their city, and the party that dominates it. Thank God for Republicans, because there is really little reason these days for poor African Americans to vote for Democrats.
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Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 06:49 PM PDT

Baucus Slithering out of the Senate

by jconway

Good riddance, this man single handedly represents everything wrong with American politics. He is already in bed with a lobbyist (literally) and I am sure she secured him a decent post-politics gig, watch him decry partisanship and how ‘left’ the Democrats have moved since ‘the good old days’ and maybe get a Fox gig. If the fucker was gonna retire it’d be nice if he had voted his conscience on guns, but he sold that a long time ago. Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out!

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Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 10:33 AM PDT

America's Got Our Backs

by jconway

“Boston is a tough and resilient town,” Obama added. “So are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.”
In times of crisis it is good to remember that we can put aside our differences and work together to help people. Tonight doctors and nurses and public health workers will be working over time to treat the injured, counselors will calm the grieving, police and firefighters will work to contain any further damage and protect our city and state, I am also confident they will apprehend those responsible and bring them to justice. I was 12 on 9/11, huddled at the (old) Longfellow School with my 8th grade classmates as the events unfolded. We were all wondering how to help, but also another lingering question of who to blame. I was just as jingoistic and even a bit excited to see my country strike back at those who damaged it’s heart. Looking back, we have been a nation at war over a decade, and my first and only thoughts today were with those I loved.

I was riding an “L” train when Facebook started lighting up with comments about the tragedy, I had just talked to my parents this morning in Maine and knew they were okay but I called and texted my brother and different friends to make sure they were ok. I checked in with a friend who I knew was running to make sure she was ok. And I am just hopeful at the stories of runners continuing to run directly to MGH to give blood, people running towards the blasts to offer help and comfort and aid, and the splendid work the BFD, BPD, State Police, and our elected officials have done so far. The only question to ask is not who to blame but how to help.

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Please sign my White House petition to end the death penalty!

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This is my first DailyKos posting, but I've been a long time follower and a long time contributor at likeminded Bluemassgroup. I was asked to come onto Huffpostlive yesterday to discuss gun control and the many ways I feel Democrats are dropping the ball on this issue and passing a bill so watered down it will do little to stop another Newtown or Aurora or Columbine or the daily death tolls on the South Side of Chicago. Take a look and love to get feedback!

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