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View Diary: Good teachers forced out of the classroom by bad policy (269 comments)

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  •  I don't know what is worse (38+ / 0-)

    .........these policies, the policymakers who push them, or the sad platoon of trolls here at DKos who cheer these types of policies. I understand why Republicans do it, but the asshole false progressives who troll education articles here are the most upsetting.

    Thank you Laura for putting this article forth and I hope some of the trolls that will pop up will wind up turning to stone in the sunlight of the truth.

    •  Conservatives. (16+ / 0-)

      The Democratic Party is a conservative party; as are many of its champions. It only includes some progressives.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 06:45:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Real Progressives are for reform. (5+ / 0-)

      The public education system works pretty well for the majority of kids. But it doesn't work at all for:

      1) Poor inner city families.
      2) Poor rural families.

      I am a parent in the inner city. The schools are very bad.

      If you are an inner-city parent, schemes like vouchers, charters, and merit-pay are the only politically feasible chance at getting a better education for your child.

      (There are plenty of politically infeasible unicorns and Easter Bunnies mentioned on dKos. "Let's do it like they do it in Finland!" or my favorite, "Let's end all poverty and test scores will rise!". But we parents need something that can actually happen this year)

      When the Educational Establishment -- which includes Teachers' Unions -- blocks reform, they play into conservative hands. They split our coalition right down the middle, ironically on class lines. Black and brown families must accept bad schools to avoid making white-collar professionals uncomfortable.

      Don't get me wrong! I'm not saying poor kids aren't learning only because they have bad schools. I'm familiar with the research showing that most of the problem is with socioeconomic issues that are beyond the teachers' control. But at least let's have some choice and accountability over that part of education that schools can control?

      Instead, the Educational Establishment acts like Congressional Republicans. They stall, they say "no no no" to everything, and they slowly let everything burn...

      •  And your evidence that teachers unions (11+ / 0-)

        are part of the educational establishment and are blocking where?

        •  I can cite... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...articles, quotes, etc. I've been down this road before.

          But before I start, let me ask, "What evidence would you accept as convincing?"

          I'm saying that Teachers' Unions are against charter schools, voucher programs, and letting parents choose their kids' school.

          They're against evaluating teachers on any criteria other than seniority and teacher credentials. In particular, they don't want teachers evaluated on how much students learn.

          There are sound political and financial reasons for this. Teachers' Unions are properly representing the legitimate economic interests of their members. But we have been maneuvered into a position where those interests are diametrically opposed to the educational interests of inner-city kids.

          And that is how our coalition will be split -- unless we figure out a better solution.

          And please don't propose that the "solution" is to End All Poverty, or triple school funding, or reduce class size to 8. We need realistic solutions, not red herrings.

          •  A study of the voucher program in Cleveland (10+ / 0-)

            showed that students who participated in the voucher program to go to private schools performed worse than the ones who remained in public schools. Here in Minnesota, recent studies show that charter schools overall produce worse test results than public ones. I would question your assertion that vouchers and charter schools are always better. That's what I'd like to see proof on. Perhaps teachers are against them because they are not better.

            I am a teacher in a public school where more than one tenured teacher has been fired, and the union did not support the teachers. Proper procedure according to the contract to fire the teachers was followed.

            And regarding your last paragraph: we don't need straw man arguments either.

            •  There are other studies... (0+ / 0-)

              ...showing that charter schools are better. In particular the ones in NYC are better than teh public schools.

              There are many differences in how these reforms are administered. For example in NYC, schools are not allowed to cherry-pick students. Charters in Pennsylvania can be (God help those kids) Internet-Only. Some vouchers are too small to provide a school with enough money.

              We need to figure out which flavors of reform work and which don't.

              But instead, whenever one reform fails, anti-reformers try to use it as an excuse to end all reform. The result? Another year of delay and another class of unprepared kids "ages out" of bad inner-city schools.

              •  Thank goodness for teh Google (8+ / 0-)


                Charter schools haven’t helped other states and they won’t help Alabama. Here are the reasons why:

                * Numerous national and state studies have shown that charters on average don’t get better results than regular public schools. A small percentage get high scores, more get very low scores, most are about average in terms of test scores. Why kill off a community’s public school to replace it with a privately managed school that is no better and possibly worse?

                * Charter schools weaken the regular public schools. They take money away from neighborhood public schools and from the district budget. As charter schools open, regular public schools must cut teachers and close down programs to pay for them.

                * Many of the “high-performing” charter schools succeed by skimming off the best students, even in poor districts. The more they draw away the best students, the worse it is for the regular public schools, who are left with the weakest students.

                * Charters fragment communities. Instead of everyone working together to support the children and schools of their communities, charters and regular public schools fight over resources and space. This is not good for education or for children.

                •  Like I said... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...there are many ways to design a Charter or Voucher program.

                  Some are good, some are bad.

                  Some work, some don't.

                  But it's not fair to assume all reforms are bad just because some aren't working.

                  Lastly, please remember that a Charter or Voucher is choice-based. If the public school was so good, why do the parents choose to leave it?

                  We should expect Charters to have lower test scores. If the kids were doing well, their parents would have kept them in the regular school! Charters attract the tough cases, the kids for whom The System isn't working.

                  •  There are also many ways to (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mostel26, drmah, Aunt Martha, madhaus

                    improve public schools which should be the first priority.  However it seems that only certain prescribed reforms are considered acceptable even though research shows them to be ineffective.  It's almost as if there is a concerted effort to see public schools fail.

                    “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

                    by musiclady on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 02:07:06 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  One reason is marketing (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Aunt Martha, madhaus

                    This is a generic answer and not directed at you and your particular situation, but charter schools in many cases spend a huge amount on marketing, an amount that is far and beyond what any public school could get away with.

                    Some charter schools are spending six figures on marketing and advertising.

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 06:12:51 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  There was an Imagine school here (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26, madhaus

                  that went out of business.

                  I'd heard bad things about the quality of instruction -- students just copying notes off a board, doing seatwork and so on.  I had no idea how bad it was.

                  I've got the former students back in my public school classroom this year and they are telling all sorts of horror stories.  Apparently it was Bedlam, fighting, throwing books and chairs.

                  Light is seen through a small hole.

                  by houyhnhnm on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 01:20:17 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I question part of your data (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I recently read an article on a charter school in New York cherry picking to keep out special education students.

                Again, I will point out that neither I nor anyone else is advocating no reform, nor are we advocating the reforms in your first post I responded to. We also can't improve schools if we cannot fairly represent the other side's point of view. n/t

                •  Cherry-picking can happen... (0+ / 0-)

                  ....but it's illegal.

                  But consider how things work under the current system. Rich suburbs use high property taxes to cherry-pick the families with the most money.

                  These suburbs have "better" schools.

                  At least with charters, poor families have a choice!

                  •  You've just clearly identified the one reform (5+ / 0-)

                    that will work. Funding equity. Next to socioeconomic status, the best overall predictor of school quality is per-pupil spending.

                    The correlation is far from perfect, yet evident every year in PA when the Philly Inky publishes the state figures; it's more than close enough to be the one and only legitimate reform we should start with.

                    It should be no surprise that the increasing problems with inner city and rural schools lines up 100% with the cutting of federal education funds started by Reagan and continued, with minor temporary upticks, ever since, exacerbated by state funding cuts forced by the dearth of federal dollars flowing to the states in the wake of both the 2002-3 and 2007-8 recessions.

                    There is nothing whatsoever magical about charter schools. Some are good and some suck just as it the case with everything else in the world, it's that damn bell curve exerting reality on the world. The problem is that far, far too much of what is peddled as reform is a Trojan horse for shuffling public money to private hands.

                    As a former teacher who quit some 28 years ago back when things were "good" and I taught in a better than average public school, the lack of resources and relatively poor pay - I picked up something like a 17% raise when I left if I recall, was a significant reason for my leaving. The biggest issue was that teachers were rarely engaged in any effort to improve the situation. Everything came down from on high and usually was crap. The stuff rolling downhill now is by and large really stinky crap with far fewer resources available to boot. No surprise things outside the wealthiest of districts aren't doing particularly well.

                    If you want better schools you have to pay for it, pure and simple.

                    The only other reform that would, IMO, have a significant positive impact is a concerted effort to find and develop high quality administrators.

                    Education is no different than any other business or organization. If you have high quality leadership you will be far more likely to generate high quality results.

                    I worked in 3 different schools between student post-graduate school teaching (FWIW, I got my BA in Physics w. Math minor from Cornell and MS in Secondary Math & Science Ed from Penn) with 1 really lousy principal, 1 1/2 decent principal and 1 rather good principal. The overall school performance lined up pretty closely with the combination of community wealth and leadership quality. The school in the middle money-wise but better leadership performed near on par with the wealthier school with not quite the same level of leadership, while the double-whammy school in a working class community with a lousy boss pretty well sucked.

                    Democracy is a contact sport...

                    by jsmagid on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 03:28:55 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You're right, but... (0+ / 0-)

                      ...funding equity is damn near impossible politically. We can't get the rich to pay even 1% more in income taxes! Do you think we can get rich suburbs to send $thousands-per-pupil to the inner city?

                      Now, as for, "a concerted effort to find and develop high quality administrators", we have a name for that. It's called School Choice.

                      If parents have the ability to leave a bad school and go to a good one, the schools with better administration are going to attract more students, pure and simple.

              •  From your link: (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26, elfling
                On a school-by-school comparison, the report found that 51 percent of New York City charter schools are showing academic growth in math that is statistically larger than students would have achieved in regular public schools, with 33 percent with no significant difference and 16 percent with significantly lower learning. In reading, the report found that 29 percent of charter schools are showing statistically better gains, with 59 percent with no significant difference and only 12 percent significantly lower.
                This means that, according to CREDO's own methodology, slightly more than half (51%) of charter school students are doing better on math standardized tests than their public school counterparts, while slightly more than 1/4 (29%) are doing better on reading standardized tests.

                Putting aside for the moment the obvious question about testing mania--which could simply mean that some charter schools are doing a better job of teaching to the test than some public schools--and putting aside for the moment potential funding differences between charter and public schools, contrary to your claim, the results here do not show that charter schools in NYC are better than public schools.

                And please spare us your right-wing "reform" terminology (see, e.g., welfare "reform" or tax "reform").  Thank you in advance.

                •  I don't understand. (0+ / 0-)

                  If you pick a random NYC charter school, more that half the time it will be better than the nearby public school. Those are GOOD RESULTS by any yardstick!

                  Also Charter schools in NYC get less per pupil than public schools.

                  As for "teaching to the test", I'll repeat my previous, still-unanswered, question, "What evidence would you accept as convincing?"

                  If you won't accept kids doing Math problems on a Math test as proof that they are learning Math...what will you accept?

                  •  What will I accept? (4+ / 0-)

                    1. Stop the union-bashing, teacher-bashing right-wing talking points.  Just stop them.

                    2. Honesty.  Your claim about charter school performance is simply dishonest.  51% in math with 29% in reading does not that mean charter schools are better.

                    3. Honesty.  The study about funding to which you link is solely about public funding.  As the article itself says:

                    It did not take into account private donations, which some charter schools raise in the millions, permitting some to provide students with better technology and more resources than their public school counterparts.
                    4. Honesty.  If you're going to claim that test scores = learning, as opposed to teaching to the test, provide long-term, longitudinal evidence that demonstrates that that is so.

                    If you're frustrated with the state of public education, you're not alone.  But honestly, when you spout right-wing talking points and are dishonest about what studies show, expect pushback.

                    •  Once again... (0+ / 0-)

                      ...I don't know what evidence you'll accept.

                      "If you're going to claim that test scores = learning, as opposed to teaching to the test, provide long-term, longitudinal evidence that demonstrates that that is so. "
                      OK. We plot Test Scores on the X-axis. We need to plot "Learning" on the Y-axis. What proxy should we use for "Learning"? What number? And don't say that learning is a magical, undefinable thing that can't be quantified...if you say that, then nobody can prove anything works and we might as well replace teachers with McDonald's employees.

                      As for charter school performance, I am baffled. 59% is not good enough? What must the number be...75%? 95%? 100%?

                      •  Where do you get 59%? (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        madhaus, fiddler crabby

                        The only 59% I see in the link that you yourself provided shows no difference in reading test scores between the NYC charter and public schools that were in the study.  If you want to use that as the fantabulous measure of student success in charter schools, go for it, I say.

                        As for the rest of your argument, I frankly reject your overreliance on high-stakes, standardized test scores; in fact, I would argue that such an overreliance is part of your right-wing framing.  Such test scores should be one component of assessing student learning, but by themselves say as much about students' abilities to take high-stakes tests or teachers to teach to the test than they do about learning.  To truly assess learning, there are other equally important components, such as homework, in-class writing, classroom participation in either small or large groups, subject-specific tests that teachers design and give as part of every day teaching.  Things that involve, you know, teachers, even though many teachers belong to unions and, according to you, teacher unions aren't interested in student learning.

                        But then again, perhaps involving teachers and their expertise, according to you, would be magical pony thinking that only happens in Finland.

                        Such is the sorry, miserable state of your right-wing talking points that they deserve only mockery.

              •  Dude, NYC charters cherry pick (5+ / 0-)

                and if they can’t, they push the kids out.  Follow the numbers.

                I’m not wasting my time because you believe what you want, but you are very wrong. Look at a grade (1st) and look at the same group in 4th grade.  Look how many have been pushed out over those years.

                Jeffery Canada even canceled a grade because their tests results would’ve been terrible.  

            •  You're feeding one of the trolls mentioned above (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              quill, houyhnhnm, Mostel26, rosarugosa, madhaus

              Anyone who calls tackling poverty a "red herring" is uninterested in solutions.

              The charter schools in Cleveland are horrible too, with a handful of exceptions.

              Jon Husted is a dick.

              by anastasia p on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 11:56:17 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Anna, we've been... (0+ / 0-)

                ...down this road before.

                Sure, many charter schools may be bad. But parents choose them, so they must be better than whatever the local alternative is.

                Bad charter schools are never a problem because parents can just avoid them.

                Bad public schools are a big problem because parents are forced to use them and have no choice.

                •  Or they choose them because (5+ / 0-)

                  they think they are better or have been led to believe they are. Sadly some people simply equate anything public (or government run) is bad and anything private is good.

                  “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

                  by musiclady on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 02:09:39 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes, it is true... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...parents sometimes make bad choices.

                    Parents sometimes let their kids watch too much TV, drink too much soda, and play too many video games.

                    Parents sometimes don't read to their kids, take them to museums, or teach them good manners and proper English.

                    And, sadly, parents sometimes make bad choices when it comes to schools. But we don't dare argue that they should be denied the choice. At least I hope, that's not what you're saying.

                    •  They can also choose (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      rosarugosa, madhaus

                      to get involved in their local public school PTA and effect change that way.  I've personally seen active parent groups bring about major changes to their public school including changes in the administration.  The point is that public schools belong to the public and parents who are active in their child's public school education can make a huge difference.

                      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

                      by musiclady on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 04:50:41 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  If we had active... (0+ / 0-)

                        ...organized parents in every home, that would be great.

                        But we don't, so can't we make choice easy?

                        Telling parents that they must go to board meetings and yell at officials to get good schools is not right. It is also a nasty delaying tactic used to keep parents waving signs and chanting instead of demanding real choice-based accountable reform.

                        Here in NYC schools are controlled by the Mayor. To even get his attention you need to organize 3,000,000 voters and spend $100 million dollars...

                        •  Going and waiving signs isn't the way parents (0+ / 0-)

                          effect change from my observation.  Having the mayor in control of your schools may be part of the problem.  In my state, elected school boards operate very well.  Perhaps choice works for you personally.  It may not benefit others--particularly those who are unable to take advantage of it for whatever reason.  Many of us will continue to believe that it is part of the social contract to make our schools better rather than to desert them.

                          “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

                          by musiclady on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 05:33:57 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

            •  Respectfully, I don't think ManhattanMan said that (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gorgonza, ManhattanMan

              charters are always better. The evidence points against  that. But they may be locally better, and the local public schools may be especially abysmal, and parents might hope to have some way to improve the prospects for their own kids.

              Your black cards can make you money, so you hide them when you're able; in the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table - Steely Dan

              by OrdinaryIowan on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 12:33:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Similar problem in Indiana. Since funding based on (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elfling, madhaus

              school enrollment is based on September enrollment, Charter Schools recruit like crazy in the summer, but just after they get their State Money for enrollment they expel Special Needs children and discipline problems. These children are sent back to Public School but the money for their education stays with the Charter School.  It's a real scam!

          •  Then surely (8+ / 0-)

            these problems with inner city and rural schools shouldn't exist in states with extremely weak or nonexistent teachers' unions, right?

            Take my state, Texas, as an example. By state law, teachers' unions are not allowed to collectively bargain; teachers are not allowed to strike; there is no teacher tenure; teachers can be fired for cause or not, just like any other employee, since Texas is an "at-will" employment state. Essentially, teachers' unions here are no more than glorified professional organizations. So we should be near the top of the pile in educating poor rural and inner-city kids, according to your reasoning. But that's far from the truth.

            I'm not claiming that teachers' unions never do anything harmful - I've read plenty about the NYC schools, for example, that is just inexcusable. (This New Yorker piece, for example.) And in some places, teacher union opposition may be throwing up roadblocks to school alternatives. But I don't think it helps your cause to claim that teacher unions result in bad educational options for all poor urban and rural kids everywhere, because that's just not true.

            I like the idea of charter or alternative schools, but not vouchers, since those (1) drain public school funds, and (2) act as just another backdoor tax break for rich people who would send their kids to private school anyway. A voucher based on financial need, maybe, but no vouchers for millionaires.

            In my area, there are some high-performing alternative and charter schools that are independently run, but still technically part of the school district. This appeals to me. There has been so much financial hanky-panky and other nonsense with random, stand-alone charter schools (TX and FL are particularly bad) - it's just a fantasy to think that they will magically function well with no oversight. But schools that run on different models in partnership with a district, like the Ann Richards School for girls, can provide a meaningful option for kids who want to work hard, and whose parents value education, but can't afford private school.

            P.S. I'm a public school employee working in Title I schools with poor semi-rural children. If I had a child of elementary school age, I would not hesitate to enroll him or her in one of those schools - the teachers are wonderful, as are the principal and VP.

          •  These are... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quill, Aunt Martha, Mostel26, drmah

            Frequently GOP Talking Points...
            You may want to examine the validity of the studies...

            "Do you realize the responsibility I carry?
            I'm the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House."
            ~John F. Kennedy~


            by Oldestsonofasailor on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 11:11:36 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  If you're going to spout right-wing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            talking points about how teachers unions aren't interested in education, then you better have really large samples of evidence across wide swaths of the country to prove that.

            Otherwise, you're simply spouting right-wing talking points.

          •  Some of what you say is completely false. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26, NJtom, elfling, Aunt Martha

            Particularly this:

            They're against evaluating teachers on any criteria other than seniority and teacher credentials. In particular, they don't want teachers evaluated on how much students learn.
            My union worked with the school system to develop a comprehensive evaluation system based on the standards of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.  It is also a peer review system.  There are similar systems in other jurisdictions and they've been heavily researched and found to be extremely effective.  Student achievement is included in the mix but it is a comprehensive view of students achievement--not standardized test scores.  There are a number of district tests that are considered as well as other student work.  RTTT will cause us to have to abandon this system which has been found to be effective in favor of one that is unproven.  Even our secretary of education, Arnie Duncan, said while visiting one of our schools that the program wasn't meant to be so inflexible.  Sadly it is having a negative impact on the quality of instruction that students are receiving as the priority is all about reading and math on the state tests.

            You can read about our evaluation system here:
            A User's Guide to Peer Assistence and Review (PAR)

            “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

            by musiclady on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 02:04:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I looked at the PAR website... (0+ / 0-)

              ...and found nothing about student achievement.

              Getting a good PAR eval appears to depend entirely on the subjective judgements of your peers and your administrators. Can your kids actually read? Not tested.

              For a real laugh,look at how they say "success" should be measured (boldface mine):

              "Some proponents of PAR believe that its greatest benefit—an enhanced professional culture that focuses energy and resources on instruction—is impossible to measure. They might credit the program with improving student achievement, although that would be a hard case to prove since so many initiatives contribute to such progress."
              Now making teachers feel good is fine and dandy. But to use this as an evaluation tool when the designers admit that no link can be made to actual achievement is exactly the sort of mumbo-jumbo that makes parents distrust the Educational Establishment.

              Nobody cares about your "enhanced professional culture that focuses energy and resources on instruction" unless you can show how this stuff actually teaches kids.

              And you can't show that -- or at least I've not seen it.

          •  You're conflating a few things (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Aunt Martha

            They want layoffs to be by seniority and credentials.

            But layoffs should be far and few between.

            There's due process for removing underperforming teachers, and evaluations associated with that. That is different and goes on whether a district is hiring or firing.

            Just because you're running layoffs by seniority doesn't mean you can't also remove underperforming teachers as a separate exercise.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 06:10:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  So why are those reforms being forced (7+ / 0-)

        on schools that are, as you say it, working pretty well?

        “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

        by musiclady on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 09:06:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It would be fantastic... (0+ / 0-)

 exempt good schools from the reforms!

          But that would mean admitting the existence of bad schools -- and calling them out by name. Is the Educational Establishment prepared to do this? No.

          So pain is created for everybody in the hope that the outcry will become so great that all reform gets stalled...again.

          •  EVERY school in my district (7+ / 0-)

            is on the state published  'failing' list.

            Hello, my name is Sprinkles and I am a teacher who teaches in a bad school.

            I say I am a member of the teaching profession because I believe there is an important difference between being a an employee in a bad school and being a member of the the professional community of educators.

          •  My system called out a failing school by name (7+ / 0-)

            and put a lot of money into some very specific measures to help the school improve.  They extended the school year by a month and extended the school day.  They instituted after school tutoring programs.  They offered existing staff the opportunity to stay there for an increase in pay based on their current per diem rate of pay.  It was expensive but this school showed more improvement than any other school in our district (which is large--about 200 schools).  The problem is that no one wants to put money into targeted reforms--reforms that have been proven to work.  The above school is also required to have highly qualified teachers--not TFA candidates.

            “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

            by musiclady on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 11:39:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  "works in education . . . " (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gffish, Mostel26, madhaus

        Specifically, what "work" do you do in education?

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 09:36:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not willing to say. (0+ / 0-)

          It doesn't matter, really. It's the Internet, I could be anybody. I try to cite my sources which is the best that can be expected.

          "Never trust the storyteller, only trust the story."

          I also reject the notion that only teachers can have opinions about educational policy. That is like saying you can't criticize Banks, Defense Contractors, or Oil Companies unless you are a banker, war profiteer, or driller...!

          •  Ha! (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sprinkles, RadGal70, Mostel26, madhaus
            I could be anybody.
            You could be a former hedge fund manager looking for new sources of plunder.

            Light is seen through a small hole.

            by houyhnhnm on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:25:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well you can refute... (0+ / 0-)

              ...what I'm saying with facts, or you can go for the old ad hominem attack.

              I mean. you could be an America-Hating Terrorist trying to destroy the USA by keeping our failed educational system in place. The mis-education of our kids will hurt the USA more than Bin Laden's planes did!

              Seriously, let's stick to the facts.

          •  Gee Manhattan Man (6+ / 0-)

            You have been jumping into every diary discussion about education for at least 6 years now. I know almost everything that you are going to say verbatim. That child of yours that needs an immediate solution to the bad public schools in NY must be at least high school age by now. There must be some other reason that you jump so quickly into the fray these days.

            Infidels in all ages have battled for the rights of man, and have at all times been the advocates of truth and justice... Robert Ingersol

            by BMarshall on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:55:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  My child is in... (0+ / 0-)

              ...elementary school (public) and is doing quite well.

              Why is she doing so well?

              Because NYC allows kids who test well to escape bad schools through a Gifted program. My daughter comes from a two-parent, highly-educated household, so of course she tests very well.

              (I don't advocate letting some schools skim off the "gifted" kids as a solution, btw. But my family is grateful for the loophole).

              My daughter also does well because her highly-educated, privileged parents can afford to work part-time and devote huge amounts of attention to her education. If my wife and I were poor immigrants working minimum-wage jobs, it wouldn't be possible.

              As usual, the system works very well for privileged people like me. But I wish it worked for everybody.  Don't you?

              •  Congratulations! You managed to type one of the (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                madhaus, houyhnhnm

                MOST arrogant statements I have read in a long time"

                "My daughter comes from two-parent, highly-educated household, so of course she tests very well."

                Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

                by ranton on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 07:00:35 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Hey, I didn't make the world. (0+ / 0-)

                  At age 5 (when they give the test) Standardized testing doesn't measure intelligence, hard work, or goodness of character.

                  It measures whether your parents coached you for the test.

                  I wish NYC had a system that worked for every kid. But they don't.

              •  So what you're saying is... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                madhaus, houyhnhnm

                Your child's success in an educational setting is not primarily due to his or her teacher's efforts, but because of your emphasis on the importance of education and your efforts to provide an enriching learning environment outside of the classroom.

                The statistics would agree with you: a child's home environment and the parent's attitudes about education have a huge influence on how much a child learns.  So if a child fails to succeed in my class because of a poor home environment, can I include this information in my evaluation?

                •  Yes. Yes, you can. (0+ / 0-)
                  "So if a child fails to succeed in my class because of a poor home environment, can I include this information in my evaluation?"
                  Yes. It's caValue-Added Measurementement. It is not perfect, but it is much better than methods which don't evaluate students at all.

                  Also teachers in nice suburbs filled with stable home environments will get less of a free ride. Most of the gains in "good" schools come from factors beyond the control of the school. Targets for these schools must be set higher.

          •  You have a point (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ManhattanMan, quill, Mostel26

            since our country allows accountants to dictate medical treatment, why not allow them to dictate educational policy as well.
            Snark aside, I don't begrudge anyone voicing their opinion on how my school-which is in one of the poorest neighborhoods of NYC- function. But starting with Guiliani and continuing with Bloomberg, WE don't have a voice in things.
            Finally, you ask the community for reality based ideas. Please hold yourself to the same standard and withdraw the assertion that Charters don't cherry pick. It may be illegal, but you damn well know it's happening.

            I STILL want to see Mitt's taxes.

            by Van Buren on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:56:57 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I know Charters cherry-pick... (0+ / 0-)

     other parts of the country.

              But they can't in NYC. The rules are pretty strict -- admission is by lottery.

              Some say that Charters just "counsel" problem kids into leaving. Well, what about public schools that counsel problem kids into charters?

              Remember -- if you kid is doing well, you're not gonna risk a Charter. It is the kids who are having problems that seek out alternatives, not the Happy Kids.

              Even the Stanford CREDO study admitted that the cherry-picking theory doesn't hold up that well.

              Besides, even if they do cherry-pick, we are still going to need to evaluate performance based on scores normed to socioeconomic status. If my charter cherry-picks all the kids from two-parent households that is just gonna raise the bar I need to hit on test scores...

      •  Who said no? And to what? (9+ / 0-)

        I teach in schools where the students families have not much money  and not much education.  

        So long as 'accountability' means students' scores on standardized tests, and that is all it means right now, it has almost nothing to do with the quality of the students' education.  It is all about destroying teachers' unions in order to reduce the amount of money spent on public education.  The test scores are never used to improve students' education.  They are almost always used to build a case that a teacher or a school are 'failing' to educate students.

        Similarly, 'choice' is about diverting taxpayers' money to corporations and 'reform' is about reducing teachers' income or increasing their workload.  

        With respect to changes in how we teach or what we teach, those things that might but almost never are called reform, I am not aware of any unions or union members who say "no no no" to everything.  In fact, if you investigate what is going on in schools, you will find out that unions and union members are more often the ones trying very hard to change what we teach and how we teach in order to be more effective.

        •  How do you suggest we evaluate whether (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          kids are learning or not? Just curious, because I hear a lot of angst regarding testing, but not much else in using a quantitative means of evaluation.

          •  At the very least (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ManhattanMan, Mostel26, rosarugosa

            testing the same group when they enter high school and when they leave to see if they've learned. Most placed just test different groups every year. That's not a legitimate test of growth. It does, however, make it seem like we're doing something, and standardized test companies make money. They're the ones that have benefited most from NCLB, it seems.

          •  Way back when (6+ / 0-)

            we had these things called report cards. Teachers evaluated students' progress, gave grades based on a variety of classroom work, made comments, sent notes home.

            Not to suggest that, or any, system is perfect. But we aren't aiming for perfect. We are dealing with human beings and learning -- two factors that do not lend themselves to strictly quantitative analysis.

            •  The trouble is... (0+ / 0-)

              ...that we can't look at a report card form one school and compare it to a report card from another school.

              But if we want to identify the best schools, that is exactly the kind of comparison we need to make.

              •  Then you need to compare the kid to the kid... (6+ / 0-)

                ... just like you rate a flight of wine from a vineyard.

                You don't rate the teacher based on a different group of kids every effing year, with no weight given to the kids' individual scores (with a variety of different teachers) from the year before.

                The metrics being used (even by NYC schools) to rate teachers are bogus.  If you want to know what's working, compare each student's test to their results the year before, and look at the deltas for each classroom.

                I've already given up on sending WarriorGirl to public school because I live in one of those "struggling" districts; I refuse to have her spend the next 13 years spending her time filling in bubbles on paper rather than learning how to to papier-mache, stop-motion-film, music, soccer, and rocket-launching.  That is, all the stuff I learned in a not-so-great public school in the '60s and '70s.  Before "No Child Left Behind" started trying to kill public schooling, or at least line the grifters' pockets.

              •  I think you mean (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DSPS owl, Mostel26, schnecke21, elfling

                that we can't look at a report card from one school and compare it to a report card from another school easily.

                This drive to distill children into quantified, easily comparable measure so that we can evaluate them and schools quickly and without trying very hard is exactly the reason we are currently engaged in a race to the bottom.

                So school A got a 3 average on the Big Important Test, and school B got a 2. School A must be better than B. Even though B has a killer music program, requires students to engage in community volunteer activites, and is welcoming to students with special needs, and all A does is drill and kill.

                This kind of comparison is an illusion. Those who perpetuate it are either woefully misguided or stand to gain financially from it.

              •  Actually with a system wide (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                standards based curriculum you can.  My system has such a curriculum  We are expected to evaluate students on the same indicators around the county.  I know what my students who come from other county schools have been taught. It's very helpful given that I teach in a low income school with a high mobility rate.

                “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

                by musiclady on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 02:15:48 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  "scheme" is the key word in your post. Might (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        houyhnhnm, Mostel26, madhaus

        have been a Freudian slip----but there you have it.

        If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

        by livjack on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:00:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, I used that word on purpose. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not naive. I know that many people who don't care about kids are using the education issue to push anti-union, anti-government, free-market agendas.

          We need to be smarter than the Koch Brothers on this.

          But when Teachers' Unions fight all reforms and cede no ground, they are just standing in the path of the steamroller. They are making it easy for the enemy to isolate them.

          Instead Teachers' Unions should be fighting for:

          1) Charter schools, but not-for-profit ones
          2) Vouchers, but big ones, focused on the poorest kids
          3) Testing, so parents can see which schools are doing well
          4) Tenure reform based on sensible (but standardized and objective) measures of student achievement.
          But the "No No No No" strategy has played out. It ignores the fact that for inner-city parents, the status quo is unacceptable.
          •  Pls specify how a charter school (7+ / 0-)

            can be made better that a public school, without a big infusion of private money  that requires a profit?

            And vouchers - when all the urban schools are filled to the brink where do you propose the students go?  Out of district private schools?

            Testing - our entire district started doing online benchmark testing but had to stop because either our internet system or Houghton Mifflin goofed up.  During that time we couldn't teach or plan for the next day because of the unpredictability.

            We've been out of school for two weeks, and soon our state testing starts.

            I think you've proposed these thoughts before, and you are part of the problem. If you want to help, please provide solutions that would work, such as mandating equitable funding for all towns.


            And if not, please send me a box of white copy paper  and a printer cartridge - we  have to pay for our own supplies.

            •  Answers. (0+ / 0-)

              Charters. Here in NYC, the charter schools are better than the public schools. They spend less money. They are better because they have more incentive to pay attention to kids and they care less about Bureaucracy.

              Vouchers. If the vouchers are big enough, more schools will be started to cater to the overflow. These schools do not have to be for-profit. The most efficient ones will be not-for-profits started by concerned parents and educators.

              Testing. So you lost a few days because the testing company goofed. Why are private companies needed for tests? Can't they be designed by the state?

              Also, I'm all for equitable funding -- and increased funding! It's just not politically possible right now. And those who bring up such Pollyanna solutions are often interested in delaying feasible reforms by proposing unfeasible ones.

              Are you seriously telling inner-city parents that they must wait until Scarsdale parents voluntarily let millions of dollars be transferred from their kids to the South Bronx? C'mon...!

              •  Oh ManhattanMan, there's a quick google search (0+ / 0-)


                john January 1, 2010 at 3:47:00 PM EST

                Where can I get my hands on the study? The CREDO web site doesn't seem to have it. In their national study NY was not included. So, there must have been a seperate study. No?

                Ira GoldfineJanuary 1, 2010 at 9:33:00 PM EST

                I see that as usual the Chancellor went to an unbiased source to issue a report - it turns out that Dr. Raymond is a research fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford - they obviously are the funding source for Credo.
                johnJanuary 1, 2010 at 9:39:00 PM EST

                Hoover definately has an agenda. I guess we shouldn't be surprised. However, their national study concluded that charters were slightly less effective than traditional public schools at improving student achievement.
                carolineJanuary 2, 2010 at 9:41:00 PM EST

                This is pretty mysterious. Just from following these issues from the West Coast for some years, I can clarify:

                The Hoover Institution is Ground Zero for promoting education privatization.

                However, CREDO was not previously connected with the Hoover Institution, and did a well-publicized study a few months ago showing that charters overall on average perform poorly compared with traditional public schools.

                Larson Communications exists specifically to do PR for the charter school industry. Its principal, Gary Larson, has been a very active spokesman and lobbyist for charter schools in California for years.

                So this is all quite strange.
                carolineJanuary 2, 2010 at 9:47:00 PM EST

                Also, the link IN the Larson Communications press release to the CREDO website leads you to material about the CREDO study that I mentioned, which showed charter schools performing worse than public schools.

                After that study, Stanford's Caroline Hoxby, a longtime, outspoken advocate of charter schools and privatization, performed a so-called study of New York charter schools that purported to show that NYC charter schools outperformed public schools. The study was tainted by Hoxby's longtime advocacy of charter schools -- it was an advocacy paper, not a study-- and also had not been peer-reviewed when it was released. When it was later peer-reviewed, it was heavily discredited. Hoxby's so-called study purported to challenge the CREDO study (the one that had shown charters performing worse than public schools). On the CREDO website (as linked to in the Larson Communications release), you can see links to debate between Hoxby and CREDO about the two studies.

                So the notion that CREDO has now done ANOTHER study on NYC charters and one that now shows charters to be superior is really weird. Could Larson Communications (again, a charter PR and lobbying organization) have put out a false press release? I guess we'll know on Jan. 5.

          •  You are wrong wrong wrong about unions (4+ / 0-)

            You say that unions are blocking every reform but the facts are otherwise.

            In 2010 the UFT and State teachers union negotiated a new teacher evaluation system that helped the state get 750 million in RT3 funding. The reference is education law 3012-c. The evaluation system includes reliance on state standardized tests for educator evaluation. There have also been reforms in teacher discipline, with union support.

            Ironically, the charters you tout are not subject to the same rigorous evaluation system unless they opt in...and almost none have. What a surprise.

            Charters also rely on public funds but have gone to court to avoid audits by the state comptroller. Look it up.

            Charters are supposed to be experimental school, established to find out what works, not an alternative system that is union free and also free of the most challenging students.

            As to cherry picking, this year the NYS Board of Regents were to set retention goals for charters regarding students with special needs, who are free lunch eligible and who are English language learners but they couldn't set retention goals because at many charters there was not enough base to retain. And charters regularly dump students with problems, including disciplinary issues, back to the public schools, whose funding they are draining. These troubled kids'
            test scores are then attributed to the public school teacher/school.

            Teacher unions defend tenure answer seniority because without these protections older, and better paid teachers would consistently be targets for elimination. Without these protections, teachers can be fired for

            any reason, including illegitimate reasons.

            If you think over reliance on testing is a good way to evaluate teacher you are wrong there too. All experts will tell you that even the best value added system is highly inaccurate: up to 30% of teachers who score in the top 20% one year will be in the bottom 20% the next.

            I assume your motives are pure but if you are going to weigh so strongly on this issue you should make an effort to get the facts.

            •  Actually charter schools... (0+ / 0-)

              ...tend to attract more students with problems.

              If your kid is doing well in the regular school, why move them to a charter? You know who moves their kids to charters? Families who are having problems in regular schools.

              I know that horrible cherry-picking goes on in other states, but the NYC system is pretty good. I would bet that for every kid counseled out of a Charter there is a kid in a regular school being advised, "A new charter just opened up, you should consider it..."

              Value-added systems may be flawed but they are improving. And even a flawed objective system is better than the thinly-disguised popularity contests that we call "evaluations" today.

              The problem with tenure is not layoffs. I believe it should always be very difficult to fire a teacher. The problem is that experienced teachers get to avoid tough schools -- so the places that most need veteran teachers are stuck with the least experienced teachers.

      •  Teachers KNOW how to improve schools: (13+ / 0-)

        Reduce class sizes, increase resources according to individual school needs, expand libraries, art, music, drama, and athletic programs, every school needs a health clinic, every school needs at least 1 social worker, AND educators in charge of all curriculum and assessment decisions.

        Look at the private schools the billionaire privatizers choose for their own children and you'll understand that their rhetoric is a business plan  sell-offs to cut labor costs.

        Anyone who says that choice and accountability are necessary to improve schools, DON'T believe them. That  includes the lies of Rupert Murdoch, Joel Klien, Arne Duncan, Rahm Emmanuel, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Anthony Villgarosa, Rick Scott, Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates, The Walton Family, Eli Broad, Steve Brill, hedge fund managers, DFER, Heritage Foundation, ad nauseum.

        •  But then why are private schools doing (0+ / 0-)

          so much better at educating? I am not arguing for more corporate control, but pointing out that they have the same class sizes in many instances, less per student money, often spend less on teachers's salaries, yet churn out better educations. Perhaps the problem isn't student class size, school resources and salaries since these other schools have these and are surpassing the public school system, but rather HOW those dollars are allocated by the unions. MILLIONS of union dollars are spent on supporting candidates, beaurocratic BS, and other areas that have nothing to do with teaching.

          •  Taught in two private schools... (12+ / 0-)

            There are a few major differences you are overlooking. In the private schools I taught in, all of the following was true:

            *Less than 2% of students on free or reduced lunch (which is useful measurement of poverty rates in student population).
            *No special education programs resulted in less than 1% of student population with documented learning disabilities and no severely physically or even moderately mentally handicapped students.
            *Students who were consistently disruptive or causing behavior problems were routinely asked to not return or in a few cases expelled.
            *High school students falling behind on credits for graduation were routinely asked to leave prior to their senior year.
            *No ELL students.

            Yes, test scores were typically higher. But the student population was not comparable to the local public schools. Public schools are obligated to educate everyone and they are also now obligated to test all students.

          •  Thoughts on private schools doing better?? (5+ / 0-)

             Where's the hard data that says generally speaking, they are?? Let's say some are doing well. Why? Smaller class sizes, parents have to pay a fee for the educational product. When parents pay a fee, they usually support the educational structure better.
               I do wonder if parents sign contracts indicating that they will bring the mandated class supplies, and their kid will BEHAVE, wear uniforms, attend parent conferences mandantorily, etc etc. Failure to do those things lead progressively to expulsion.  Yeah, I could understand a better performance under those condition. Given what I said above, I can see it very well.

          •  Private schools are better... (0+ / 0-)

            ....because they spend less money and the kids have better socioeconomic situations.

            When Teachers' Unions complain that most of the problems are beyond their control, they are right.

            We just need to focus on the smaller part that we can control. This is where I wish Unions would be in front helping instead of blocking and nay-saying.

            •  Correction... (0+ / 0-)

              ....private schools are better because they spend MORE money per pupil.

              •  I see teacher unions as more forward thinking than (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elfling, Orinoco

                you do. I don't see them as blocking and nay-saying except to policies (like larger class sizes) that are bad for kids. I'm not saying they are some kind of perfect organization, but you seem to have picked teacher-unions as the problem in education.

                I don't think it is that easy. To get rid of unions and then all the problems in education would go away? It is more complex than that and we have to look at what success really is, high graduation rates, kids who are really learning, schools with positive, nurturing cultures.

                Some charter schools are really good, they are community charters with specific goals supported by the school district. Other charters are rip-offs, both for tax payers, but even worse, for the kids that go to those schools.

                This article should be paid attention to. Why are so many excellent teachers leaving the profession? We need them.

          •  Some private schools are selective, that is they (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Orinoco, ManhattanMan

            only except certain kids, not everybody. Some private schools are not "held accountable" in the same way that public schools are.

            Often private schools may have families who are college educated themselves.

          •  Why do you think they do better? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Orinoco, ManhattanMan

            Private schools don't do the standardized tests. So, what is your evidence that they are providing better educations?

            It's worth noting that the fancy ones spend more money per child, they have few special needs kids, and they can expel any child that isn't working out in their program.

            They tend to run very small classes - 10-15 is the class size at many high end schools, and small classes are very popular with parents.

            Friends of mine have kids in private school in order to benefit from a bilingual program or because they're attracted to Waldorf type teaching or because they love that their primary grade kids don't have homework.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 06:31:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I agree that teachers know... (0+ / 0-)

 to improve schools.

          Why not start a Charter School that follows these principles?

          Fire all the "assistant vice principals" and replace them with a nurse and a social worker.

          Because your educational ideas are sound, your students will show improvement, so you'll do well on the evaluation tests. Parents will line up to get their kids into your school.

          There are billionaires who will loan you money to do this.

          But when you try, you'll find that your greatest opposition comes from the Teachers' Union. Your school will represent a threat because it shows a Different Way.

          Go ahead -- try it. I bet you will learn as much as your students....!

          •  Horse apples (5+ / 0-)

            A few years ago, when Los Angeles Unified played around with the idea that failing schools needed to be rebuilt from the ground up, the Los Angeles Teachers Union (UTLA) fought hard and won the right to include a teacher led alternative to charter takeovers of various kinds.

            They then sent representatives to the schools under attack to help teachers there develop reform plans that would compete with the Eli Broad, Bill Gates and Bloomberg funded charter company plans.

            UTLA fights hard to get teachers voices included in the "how to improve schools" conversation here in LA.


            "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

            by Orinoco on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 11:18:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I wish this could... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              qofdisks, Orinoco

     Diaried or that a link could be provided.

              Union-run charter schools are a good thing and I'm all for it. Here in NYC, the Unions actually run a couple of charter schools.

              It can be done, but not every Union is on board. And often it only happens after the Union is faced with a credible threat (like a Bill Gates/Michelle Rhee sandwich).

              Teachers' Unions have a choice -- get in front of the reform parade or get stomped over by it...

              •  More horse apples (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elfling, madhaus

                UTLA was not prodded into this by a Bill Gates/Michelle Rhee sandwich, but has pressed for educational reform for years. Even when I was subbing 25- 30 years ago, UTLA sponsored professional development classes were the best thing around.

                UTLA has been leading the school improvement parade in Los Angeles for decades, and, given that there are Union run charter schools in New York City as well, I suspect the same is true there.

                And I'm supposed to provide a link to the school site meeting that UTLA sent a rep to where we discussed options and the resources available to us? I was there, ManhattanMan. I was there. You either believe me or you don't.

                "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

                by Orinoco on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 03:43:08 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm asking for a link... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...because I think that it is an important topic that should be discussed further.

                  I don't doubt your word.

                  I'm a proponent of Charter Schools. But I'm often accused of trying to destroy unions.

                  Well, UTLA and the UFT in NYC have shown that you can have a Charter School and still have a union. That is why I wish more people knew about it.

                  •  You are often accused of trying to destroy unions (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rosarugosa, madhaus

                    because of the content of your comments.

                    If you stopped framing your comments with 'the Teachers Unions' are the problem, are the roadblock, will stand in your way, only look out for the financial interests of their members, and so on, fewer people would accuse you of shilling for the 1%.

                    Quite frankly, even if everything you say or imply about teachers unions was true, we should still support them here on Daily Kos, since our Kossakian charge is electing more and better Democrats, and teachers unions provide a lot of the funding and shoe leather to accomplish that goal.  

                    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

                    by Orinoco on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 04:57:32 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Teachers' Unions... (0+ / 0-)

                      ...have helped us elect more Democrats. I haven't seen much evidence that they help with better Democrats. Not a shred.

                      They support the narrow economic interest of a group of educated, well-paid, white-collar workers.

                      They consistently act against the interests of many inner-city and poor rural families.

                      I think we need to carefully evaluate any claims that they are not among the more Conservative elements of the party. A vital and worthy element -- but hardly Progressive.

                      Still we need them.

                      Let's not make inner-city voters choose between a good school for their kids and the Teachers' Union. We need to get the Unions on the side of reform.  

                  •  Much also depends on labor law in your state (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rosarugosa, Orinoco

                    In Maryland, charter schools must abide by the negotiated agreement bargained by the local bargaining agent.  It wasn't always that way.  Back in the 1990's the city of Baltimore hired a for profit charter (it was either Edison Schools or Educational Alternatives Inc) to run some of it's failing schools.  One of the first things the charter company did was to cut salaries which created a problem with maintaining staffing.  People would quit after a couple of months so there was constant staff turnover.  The state changed their labor laws so that charters had to pay the same salaries and benefits as the public schools.  Ultimately, the state canceled the contract they had with that particular charter group as they did not get the results they were looking for.

                    “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

                    by musiclady on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 04:59:05 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  "There are billionaires (0+ / 0-)

            who will loan you money to do this."

            Loan?  How does the loan get paid back?  I don't think you have a very good idea of how the public education thing works.

      •  Maybe it's political fear. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManhattanMan, sandblaster, rosarugosa

        Politicians seeking to improve schools allow themselves only one method:  demanding more of teachers.  

        It's forbidden to politicians to actually link poor performance in schools to two strong indicators:  parental buy-in to student education and parental income.  If parents are unable or unwilling to occasionally push their children to excel, unable or unwilling to offer students a quiet place to study, unable or unwilling to expose students to libraries, museums, culture and an intellectual life outside high school, then students will suffer.  Both parties are responsible here.

        Politicians are also reluctant to ride herd on administrators.  When I started school, the elementary school of 1,000 where I learned made do with two administrators:  the principal and the vice-principal.  We also had a full-time school nurse and a full staff of "lunch ladies".  This is far from the case these days, where administrators multiply and lunch ladies are consigned to history or are reduced to manning microwaves.

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:28:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are correct. (0+ / 0-)

          And I want to repeat that most problems are not the fault of schools. Most problems have to do with parents and socioeconomic situations.

          Unfortunately, we don't have the political ability to fix these problems. So we must concentrate on what we can fix.

          One good thing about School Choice is that it really lights a fire under administrators. If the parents can threaten to leave and take the money with them, we see a lot of the BS go away.

          •  In theory, yes. (0+ / 0-)

            In practice as seen in Indiana, there are a few showcase schools that serve particular populations.  Campagna Academy in Schererville was built to specialize in the teaching of students between families.  New Community School in Lafayette started as a showcase of progressive, innovative teaching -- unfortunately it got the worst grade in the county at evaluation time.  There are a couple charters in Indianapolis that are doing great work as well, and Anderson's has a very interesting link with the Air Force.

            A common case is the school that opens up shop in a disused furniture store, hires second-rate faculty, expels its students wholesale after getting the cash, then closes up shop after a year.  Indianapolis Public Schools gets livid when the charters expel students after the funding goes through -- the charters keep the cash and IPS has to teach the student.  At the adjunct conference last year, my tablemates complained of charters who convince Ivy Tech to send them instructors under a dual-credit program (why pay full-time faculty when you can get part-time?), but then complained that the instructors expected college-level work for college credit.  Ivy Tech apparently stood with the instructors and its name on this one -- it does not want to go back to being Ivy Wreck.  

            It should be noted that the charters who do not offer competitive wages to their teachers will not have first pick, unless they offer compensating advantages.  


            "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

            by Yamaneko2 on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 03:50:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Choice is the red herring (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've read most of this thread and I'm saying up front: you can have choice or you can have equity but you can't have both.  I'm opposed to vouchers and fly-by-night unregulated charters because it's a scam to shift responsibility for the failures of the social contract onto INDIVIDUALS.  Is it moral to say we should dismantle public education and hand it over to a private system where a few select kids may do better while the masses get lost?  

        Charters exist (first proposed by teachers' unions, btw) to provide unique educational opportunities not as an effective "reinvention of the wheel" of mass public education.  Celebrating charters and vouchers as the solution to the education crisis in America sounds akin to wishing for more Oskar Schindlers to save the Jews.  It's heroic, but it's not helping the people who need help.

        •  You are wrong. (0+ / 0-)
          " can have choice or you can have equity but you can't have both."
          That's not the problem.

          What we have now is neither choice nor equity. Rich suburbs get an inequitable portion of resources and poor families have no choices.

          At least an inner-city charter school solves the second problem!

          •  You're advocating "choice" as a solution (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rosarugosa, elfling, madhaus

            School "choice" doesn't solve your second problem because you assume everyone has the same opportunity to exercise that "choice."  The privilege you admit your family enjoys, where you have benefit of your own education to make beneficial choices about your kids' education, as well as the resources to support your kids as they travel to the "best" school you choose, as well as the social capital you direct to get your children into the "best" school...your belief in that system as more equitable seems at best naive and at worst disingenuous.

          •  One more point (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rosarugosa, elfling

            You may have pragmatic reasons to support school choice and I get that, but acknowledge that in your choice you set up a system where the gap of opportunity and economic inequality widens with each generation.

      •  you lack of will is old (0+ / 0-)

        You don't want to press for better solutions, so you'd prefer to rob Peter to pay Paul.

      •  I teach in NYC (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        drmah, rosarugosa, schnecke21

        I don’t want merit pay. It’s a joke and makes teachers enemies with other teachers so they don’t work together. You want teachers to work together.

        Charters have terrible, not experienced teachers that burn out fast. They are all for profit (even those who are stated to be not for profit). If my school had their budget, my school would be amazing. Sadly, my school’s budget gets cut and services for the kids (tutoring, etc...) gets cut.

        Vouchers are a waste of public money.

        I’ve taught in bad schools and in good schools.

        Poverty makes a difference. Parent INDIFFERENCE makes the biggest difference. I now teach in a school where I get every race and eco level. Parents make the biggest difference when it comes to most kids.

        Unions are not the problem. Corporations trying to make a profit on the backs of our kids is one. The right wing trying to make the poor uneducated is another.

      •  Education reform is a slope greased with Crisco (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Part of the reason why unions fight these types of reforms is because they are usually not based on sound science and they are not easily reversible if the change turns out to be a bad one.

        Take, for example, teacher evaluation.  I will wholeheartedly agree that the most experienced and highest educated teachers aren't always the best (though there is some correlation).  So what exactly defines an exemplary teacher?  Test scores?  One of my colleagues gets better math test score growth than I do but is generally acknowledged by the staff to be a poorer teacher: she achieves her gains by teaching the better-behaved students and dropping science instruction a month before testing for extra math.

        Ok, how about National Board?  It's a hard process, surely it yields positive results?  I'll admit that it's a hard program to pass: I tried and failed.  Only one of our teachers teaching at my grade level has his National Board certification.  I should also point out that his nickname is "The 10-Year-Old" because his impulsivity has harmed students before and has led to several reprimands.

        The fact is, it is hard to measure teaching objectively because students are not identical widgets.  Standardized tests don't address this, standardized teachers don't either.  15 points of growth in a struggling student frequently means more effort, more finesse and more expertise than 30 points of growth in a gifted student.  Add to that a hundred different ways that the system can be "gamed" to show growth where none exists, and it's no wonder that teacher unions fight superficial reform.

        Don't get me wrong: I'm all for reforming the craft.  But I have a few requirements before I'll support it.  One, it needs widespread teacher input.  We have a wealth of knowledge that we'd love to share, if someone would take the time to stop dismissing us and listen.  Second, it needs to be scientifically validated.  I'm tired of studying methods that work in Mrs. Smith's 2nd grade class but can't be replicated elsewhere.  Finally, it needs to measure what we're actually looking for (this is a difficult one).  State tests can usually be distilled down to formulas: teach the kids the required formulas and they do fine.  And if you want the kid to grow up to be a calculator, that works great.  But what if you want your students to be innovators, problem solvers, inventors?  Standardized tests don't always test for that.  

    •  I wouldn't call them trolls (8+ / 0-)

      I would call them dupes.  (Except in the case of one I haven't seen here for awhile who is, I am sure, a pirate.)

      They are completely taken in by the fairytale talking points of the deformers.

      Five minutes on Google raises serious doubts about these talking points, but the dupes are too lazy or too in love with their boogeymen to do it.

      1)For example the alleged 50% graduation rate. Except that it's not true.

      2)Albert Shanker's infamous remark about representing children when they start paying dues. Except that he never said it.

      3)The Golden Age (that never was)

      When? Pre WWII when less than 50% of Americans graduated from high school?

      Post WWII, when separate but "equal" was still the law of the land?

      The 50s?
      The Blackboard Jungle

      When I think of ideologues shoving their fantasies down the throats of the public, with disastrous consequence we all end up paying for forever and ever, I think of the Right with their deregulation, Iraq war, trickle down economics, etc.  I think you would have to go back to Prohibition to come up with an example of "progressives" bound and determined to have their way with a disastrously bad idea.

      It shows no side is immune.

      "Why do the people imagine a vain thing."

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 08:59:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not a troll (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FlyingToaster, elfling

      But there are issues here, mostly that he article does not focus on the one thing that makes teaching different from any thing else.  This is not to say that new laws attacking teachers and students are not bad.  They are very bad and are a product conservatives trying to protect rich people in the short term.  But the assumptions made here are no so great either

      Lets start with the first quote.
      "Many new teachers in the United States are committed to values that extend beyond expediency, narrow self-interest, and the present moment"
      This is directly out of the conservative playbook, attacking older teachers.  It is the new teacher, the one who is not there just to get a paycheck, that will save the students. They are innovative, they are creative.  The fact that don't have experience or deep content and pedagogical knowledge gained over years of teaching is irrelevant.  Anyone can teach.  

      This is the Teach for America model, and the model that most conservatives want.  Teach for a couple years, and go away before you are vested .  So yes, the system is set up to get rid of experienced teachers.  But no new teachers are not a benefit, they are a drag on the system. They must be trained, integrated, and developed.

      And many will drop out because Teaching t is hard.  It is taxing.  It deals with kids who really don't know how to communicate and don't understand what they are doing in school.  Teachers must be pretend to friends, confidants, disciplinarians,  and experts in developing creative methods to transfer knowledge to students who often don't or can't comprehend the subject, all while never crossing the line from professional to personal relationship.  It is a hard job, and not for everyone.

      Second quote:
      "When I started, I had all these incentives to improve and now I am completely stuck,"
      Just Like all jobs it can't always keep a person employed for a lifetime. I myself had to change careers once, and maybe will have to again.  I know many people who change jobs, if not careers, every 5-10 years.  It is the only real way increase one take home pay significantly.

      Some people just want more money, and they cannot always be accommodated. This is also a geographical thing.  New Mexico has tiers of teachers, and if you are not in the top tier one does not get a good pay.  Urban districts in other state, with lower costs of living, pay more.  It is also a harder job.

      Third quote:
      "I will not spend another day under the expectations that I prepare every student for the increasing numbers of meaningless tests."
      There are a couple things going on here.  First, many of the tests are meaningless.  They are there primarily to transfer money from the taxpayer to large private firms.  If you are unfamiliar with this, look up the Bush and NCLB and the Texas Miracle.  Testing and War were his methods to defund the Government
      On the other hand, there is the "every student" issue.  When I was in school I would have killed to be one of the selected few to be prepared for the meaningful tests.  But though I test very well, I was wild, and inattentive, and a bad risk, so I was not.  When teachers take about having to teach every kid, they are talking about me.  Which kids do we not teach? Me.
      I think a certain number of testing days are defensible.  After all, testing is a skill like anything else.  And kids will have to spend hours testing for the ASFAB, SAT, college placement, and general tests that many employers give, all of which take 2-4 hours.  How can you do well if you never practice.  Of course, the number of testing days has skyrockets to indefensibility.

      Final Case
      "In spring 2012, the "worst eighth-grade math teacher in New York City" decided to leave teaching. Not much of a loss if she was the worst, right? Yeah...was teaching at a gifted-and-talented school, where:"
      Gifted and Talented schools have hand picked students  By the eighth grade the ones that are not going to do well have weeded out.  You are left with a relatively high performing kids.  Most are one or two grade levels advanced.  Most are well behaved.  I know many students who have been kicked out of these schools because they were a little wild, and the teachers did not have skills to deal with them, which is fine.  The skills we need in these schools is delivering high level content, not discipline.  On the other hand, I have not known cases where a large number of these kids will fail a state test.Just looking quickly at my local GT school, the passing rate is about 95% in the eighth grade.  Everyone has to teach content from previous grades, and in most subjects it is tested directly or indirectly, for instance by Standford.  It is waht a good teacher does.

      But this quote also contains the worst of the article, the thing that actually drives teachers away.  You see, most of our kids are not GT.  They are not well behaved.  They are not uber motivated.  They are kids who want to please, want to do well, want to succeed, but needs someone to tech them.

      The best teachers are not always at the best GT schools.  There are good teachers everywhere.  Just because one are at GT school does not mean one can't be the worst.  It is this assumption that drives good teachers from average schools to go elsewhere.

      A few years ago a teacher from a top GT school located in the Medical District came to the ghetto to teach the ineffective teachers how to integrate computers(called technology in the lingo though everyone knows that the pencil is the greatest technological achievement ever) and science in the classroom.  Admittedly motivation was low because the career teachers knew how to use a spreadsheet, and the science teachers did not have computers.  But everyone was there with a brave face.

      Even after it was clear that the pedagogy was suspect because it wasn't really going to teach any science, and there were less complex to use data to learn a spreadsheet

      Until these words came out: "An inclined plane changes the value of gravity"  FOr those who do not, this is about the worst way to explain what an incline plane does, and would greatly confuse a student.  The science teachers tried to explain this, but the best teacher from the best school would not hear it.  Needless to say, the ghetto teachers were reprimanded and branded as trouble makers while the best teacher in the district was treated as a hero for her valiant attempt to teach the ghetto teachers that just would not listen.

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