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Ponder that title for a moment.  It is not mine.  It was originally the title of the 12th panel, the last added, for NBC's Education Nation summit, which begins at midday today with a Teacher Town Hall -  for those signed up, there is 30 minutes of live chat followed by the actual Town Hall at Noon.

Consider that title.

What images come to your mind?

And lest you think this is simply an awkward and foolish phrasing by one person, consider these words as well:  

I’ve spent a lot of time in New Orleans and this is a tough thing to say but I’m going to be really honest. The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.

  Let me repeat that last sentence so you see its parallel with the session title:  The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.  Those words, evoked from a question by Roland Martin on ABC News, were spoken by U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

I have written about the summit before, first in The problem with NBC's Education Nation -  where are the voices of parents and teachers?, and then at least partially in "Waiting for Superman" and Education Nation - more concerns and in Teacher Anger - and more.

I had not planned to write about it again until after today's Town Hall.

Yesterday someone forwarded to me an email which contained those words.  Without the email address or phone number of the sender, but with all other identifying information, here is the contents of that email:

From: "David Nurnberg" xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date September 25, 2010 11:05:30 AM EDT
To: "David Nurnberg" xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: NBC News - Special Education Nation Summit Session with Brian Williams

Dear Friends,

We are excited to share with you the details for a very special Education Nation panel discussion with Brian Williams titled, "The Lessons of New Orleans: Does Education Need a Katrina?" At the fifth anniversary of Katrina, the rebuilt New Orleans school district is an incredible study in the power of resilience and the possibility of starting anew. This panel will examine the advantages to the New Orleans school district of starting over post-Katrina, and whether the lessons learned there can be applied across the country

Participants include Scott Cowen (President, Tulane University); Doris Hicks (Principal and CEO, Dr. King Charter School); Mitch Landrieu (Mayor, New Orleans); Garland Robinette (Host, "The Think Tank," WWL); and Paul Vallas (Superintendent, Recovery School District of Louisiana). This panel will take place Tuesday, September 28 at 10:05AM.  

Please log into your registration page at www.goldreg.com/EducationNation if you're interested in joining this inspiring conversation.

See you on Monday!

David Nurnberg

David Nurnberg
Civic Entertainment Group, LLC
450 Park Avenue South, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016

I was asked to distribute this widely, to as many teacher leaders as I could.  I did.

If you go to the webpage for the panels those words do not currently appear.  I do not know, not having checked yesterday, whether this text:  

New Orleans after Katrina
At the fifth anniversary of Katrina, the rebuilt New Orleans school district is an incredible study in the power of resilience and the possibility of starting anew. This panel will examine the advantages to the New Orleans school district of starting over post-Katrina, and whether the lessons learned there can be applied across the country.

is what was originally posted, with what appears to be a different title, or whether the title was changed as a result of what has been at least a mini-firestorm resulting from that email I passed on.  The title has appeared in blog posts by Anthony Cody and Nancy Flanagan, both of whom blog at Teacher Magazine which gives their words high visibility.

I tweeted about it, and got some interesting response, which you can see by checking out @teacherken.

And I got some VERY INTERESTING emails.  I am going to quote without identifying the author an email I received from a normally quite mild-mannered nationally known writer on education.  It read as follows:  

Whew! Scary. So we need to rip property away from poor Black folks, kill a bunch of people, and devastate a wonderful city to fix education. Are these people that clueless to the implications of their metaphor? Jesus Christ, what is happening to us?

Let's notice that last sentence, from a gentle soul who does not often curse:  Jesus Christ, what is happening to us?

Could it be that those so determined to drive the framing of the discussion about education are so oblivious to the impact not only of the actions they propound but the words they use?

Could it be that the original title of the panel betrays the real mindset of those driving the agenda?

What mindset, you ask. . .   that they want to destroy American public schools without regard to the initial cost in order to reshape it in an image upon which they have decided

...  even though there is no research base for much of what they propound

...  by excluding the voices of those who might disagree

...  by a coordinated and well-funded marketing effort designed to hammer home a particular set of approaches to all else.

Consider the players:  

Arne Duncan and the President representing the administration

NBC News

Oprah Winfrey

Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation

and so on

Last night I attended a sweet sixteen party of a brilliant young lady of South Asian descent.  She is one of the shining light of the local Indian-American community, who will graduate from our school as a star student, who also does western music, Indian music and dance, and plays tennis.  She is also one of the stars of our robotics team.  Four of her closest friends (of whom I have also taught 3) came wearing Indian dress they had borrowed from her.  One pair of grandparents came from India for the occasion.  

She is a product of public schools.  Like many of immigrant families, it has been the American public school which has been their entryway into fully living and succeeding as Americans.  

She attends a school that is not perfect - believe me, as a teacher and as union rep I am aware of our flaws.  But it is a school with a record of success with an incredibly diverse student body.  We have things we could share about what works in education.  

But schools like us are not part of the discussion - of Education Nation, of "Waiting for Superman," of the rest of the corporatist agenda for American public education.

Several other things to add to the discussion:

  1.  The track record in New Orleans is not so fantastic as it will be portrayed.  Like the record of success claimed for Chicago, when one honestly examines in detail all the data about New Orleans the claims of success are readily recognized as chimerical.  And isn't interesting that the two systems are connected by the presence of Paul Vallas, who has headed them both?
  1.  New Orleans has been the focal point of the attempt to reshape -  some might say destroy - American public education.  That is why it will be so heavily featured in events like Education Nation.  But again ask yourself, why are there no critics of the approach on the panel?  Why is not Lance Hill of Tulane, who is executive director of The Southern Institute for Education and Research and is as knowledgeable about the state of education in New Orleans as anyone part of that panel?  Could it be because he is a critic of the entire approach, and can present the data which supports his criticism?
  1.  Last night, driving home from that Sweet Sixteen party (the first I have attended since 1961 when I was in high school as a student), a thought suddenly exploded in my mind.  I started my writing about Education Nation by looking at the announced speakers - Mayors, Governors, corporate executives, broadcast personnel from NBC.   Last night I wondered:  how many of them have children in public schools?  I would be surprised if any of the corporate types or NBC figures do.  Perhaps some of the mayors or governors has in the past -  it can be a politically sensitive subject to be laying down rules for schools in which you are unwilling to put your own children, although for some who are hostile to public schools they use that as a cudgel to beat up on them.

The last President to send his kids to public schools is actually George W. Bush.  His daughters attended public school in Texas.  The only President in my lifetime to have children in a public school while he was president was Jimmy Carter.  I know -  there are security issues, and some presidents do not have children of school age.  Still, one of the things I enjoyed about the final season of The West Wing was seeing President and Mrs. Santos decide on a public school for their offspring.  Even in DC there are good public schools, and perhaps if people of importance, gravitas, and power were putting their kids in public schools we would be honestly addressing what needs to be done, which is certainly NOT more high stakes testing and narrowing of the curriculum.

Does Education Need a Katrina?

Those words are offensive, most of all to the people of New Orleans, whom a national administration failed to protect and then to assist.

They are offensive in any context.

They are a smear on the many public schools doing a fine job, often despite a lack of resources.

A lack of resources -  because in inner cities and parts of the rural south and southwest they educate the children of "others" - Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans.  For all the rhetoric about not leaving children behind, do most of those pushing the "reform" agenda really care about those kids except as creating a large, compliant and captive work force?  Do they really want an education that might empower those young people, who are far more numerous than the offspring of those currently controlling the levers of power?

Does Education Need a Katrina?

Those words were neither an accident nor a mistake.  They expose the mindset behind much of the so-called "reform" movement in education.

Which is why I have taken the time to write about them.

I could not write this diary yesterday -  I was committed to our communal Feeding America Blogathon.

It is better that I write about this today, both because I have been able to share some of the reaction of others, and because it is more timely, with the events of Education Nation about to commence.

Perhaps you think American education needs to be radically rethought.  So do I.  But not in the direction the "reformers" are pushing it.  And not in a fashion that excludes any voice contrary to what they have already decided.

Perhaps I will be surprised.  Perhaps the pushback from teachers, in which I have played some small roll, will have convinced NBC at least to give some voice to contrary opinions.  We will see.

But remember this.  At least for a while, those organizing this event, and those who are cooperating in the coordinated effort about which I have written above, thought nothing wrong with asking this question:

Does Education Need a Katrina?"

You decide if those words could ever be appropriate.

Originally posted to teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:18 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  it is of course up to you (17+ / 0-)

      but if you think this diary contains material worthy of discussion, is it too much to suggest that perhaps it is also worthy of being recommended to keep it visible?

      I will engage in the discussion in any case.  I just hope it does not scroll out of view before those who might be interested have a chance to encounter it.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:50:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tipped and Wrecked (7+ / 0-)

        Of course I read it first. I am thinking of my own diatribe on education. Some day I'll try writing it.

        Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

        by LWelsch on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:40:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's too bad this didnt stay on the rec list. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, JanL, masslib

        Really.

        Of all the issues on complaint lists aimed at Obama and the Dems, pointing out where they are NOT helping us - to which I often add my voice, when I am able to log on - EDUCATION is often absent.

        YET... it should be at the top.

        I feel like there is a Katrina wreaking havoc on public education, fueled by Obama and the Dems, signed onto by Republicans, yet the so-called liberal news shows like Maddow, Ed, Olbermann, and big blogs like this, that are supposed to give voice to progressive concerns, well, it is largely absent from them...

        YET,,, it is happening in the here and now, this massive onslaught of attacks on teachers, unions, public education, education that deserves to be called education.... this Katrina is assisting the corporatization of our nation, the weakening of the middle class...

        and YET, many allegedly progressive folks seem NOT to get it. Yet.

        YET... there is a crucial linkage of the education issue to so many of the issues that are voiced on this blog as progressive concerns - economy, healthcare, middle class, democracy...

        Thanks for your constant voice and action on this key concern.

        Keep on keepin on.

        Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

        by NYCee on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 10:01:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's had a fair amount of traffic (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NYCee, JanL

          and could not have monitored it during the televised Teacher Town Hall in which I was a very active live tweeter at the hashtag #educationnation

          If I get a chance, I will post a link in open threads later today.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 11:48:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's unbelievable to me how little attention (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NYCee, JanL

          the ed issue is getting when frankly it is easily the most neoliberal domestic policy coming out of the administration.  It's a heart break really.  Thank goodness for teacherken and jeffbinnc at OpenLeft.  They are two of the only bloggers I see on the prog sites regularly highlighting this issue, unless you count Arianna Huffington who loves the charter/merit pay movement.

          Medicare for All is Fiscal Responsibility

          by masslib on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:25:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  wanting to point you at an important voice (4+ / 0-)

      on education, that of Gary Stager.  Let me illustrate.   Gary is also addressing Education Nation.   Please take the time to read this post.   Trust me, you will be glad that you did.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:26:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Calling your attention to a tweet by Diane Ravitc (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NYCee, Ivan, JanL, bess, masslib

      DianeRavitch Amazon suspends sales of my book "Death and Life of Geat Amer Sch System." who done it

      Now if that is true, could it be that someone is trying to make it harder for Diane's criticisms of what currently passes for "reform" to get out?  If so, who?  and why?

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:10:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is not my normal kind of Sunday Post (19+ / 0-)

    but I felt it important to raise the issue of this language here.

    Perhaps this diary will draw little traffic.  I would hope that because it is about education, the subject for which I am best known here, that despite the seemingly inflammatory title people will trust enough to click and begin to read.  I did put the words in quotes to indicate they are not mine.

    Of course, the community will respond as it deems appropriate.

    I will be available to dialog on any of this should anyone be so inclined, at least over the next few hours.  I may not be here constantly, but I will not be away from my keyboard for longer than 10 minutes at any point in the next 90-120 minutes.  I will check on this.

    And if it draws no traffic?  So be it.

    Enjoy your Sunday.

    I wish I could enjoy mine.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:33:19 AM PDT

    •  Enjoy your Sunday (7+ / 0-)

      It makes me mad too, but the world keeps turning, and we both have classes to teach tomorrow.  I have papers to grade today, and as is the usual, I have a number of students who continue to surprise, in a positive way, with their unique insights into today's problems and original thoughts concerning their solutions.  Whenever I get too frustrated with the arguments over "reform", I return to my students and remember that no matter what, I am still going to be teaching tomorrow, and that it's still the best job in the world.  

      A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.

      by Guy Fawkes on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:47:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So be it? More pain. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ivan, JanL, princss6

      This is a very disturbing trend i'm starting to detect on Kos where the sensibilities of non white people and the pain caused by analogies doesn't appear to matter anymore.  As long as it pushes whatever issue is motivating a person they feel free to use painful and in apt analogies.  The painful thing about it is in both cases ive seen in about the 3 days I have returned to Kos as an active participant the Diarist has confessed to having second thoughts, but doing it anyway.

      The level of insensitivity shown is blinding.  Do you people not see that the level of open animosity being shown by the other side passed dog whistle about a year ago?  This is supposed to be our side yet conservatives have always made a claim and if they ever had a politician that wasn't half a racist pimp could easily strip 30% of the Black vote away from this party out of spite,  You don't respect us.  When the rubber hits the road it's always the Black community that has rec listed pain.

      "You can't form a line if you're too scared to stand alone"..The Ascended Master Stevie Wonder

      by Adept2u on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:57:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you Ken (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken

      I came looking for a diary on this from you.  The whole Katrina thing has me furious.  Get rid of the poor, African Americans; that will save education.  GRRRR!

  •  Unreal (18+ / 0-)

    I’d like to thank NBC for helping push the same garbage "reform" propaganda that is ignorant of what works best in schools.  I’ll have to keep this in my file of examples to counter the next set of histrionics about the "liberal" media that I hear. Thank you for bringing this to our attention Ken! I’m sure the usual belligerent anti-education know nothings will be on here soon attacking you personally, all of us as educators, and indirectly the quality of education for all children. This should be a fun day of banter.

    •  you mean "fun day" </snark> (11+ / 0-)

      I will put up with it.

      Let me add that the metaphor has continued elsewhere.  in 2006 Duncan  said "Detroit is New Orleans two year ago without Hurricane Katrina" -  does he have that image so engraved on his mind that he keeps using that kind of language?

      Detroit has been an economic disaster area.  People expect that not to be reflected in the city's public schools?

      Our schools are a reflection of our society.

      If we allow the physical plant to decay, as so often we have, we tell the students and the adults that work there that learning is not a priority, at least not there.

      If we starve the school system of appropriate resources to address the many needs of the students who come therein, we should not be shocked at the academic results or lack thereof, and the solution is certainly neither to raise the bar (which pushes even more kids out) or to narrow the curriculum to drill and test, which robs those that stay of a meaningful future.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:44:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Psychology and Sociology (11+ / 0-)

        You are on point with discussing the socio-economic conditions of Detroit and New Orleans. Any first year sociology student can tell you the impact of SES on just about anything.  If we as a nation still shame ourselves by allowing such rampant poverty and inequality of wealth, how can anybody be shocked by an achievement gap?  Furthermore, and to connect to your food in schools article, any first year psychology student can tell you the impact of nutrition on brain development.  I really think the solution to get real improvements and reforms that will help school is for more educators to do what you do and make our voices heard. We need to coordinate more often with groups who are out there addressing the real harm that happens to our students before they get to school.  

        •  Nutrition is a huge issue. (6+ / 0-)

          Many of our students only eat at school (breakfast and lunch). Many show up with cans of pop or kool-aid to drink on their way to school. Chips and candy are way too common for snacks to eat while walking to school before a marginally nutritious breakfast. And we have totally taken any sort of home ec out of our schools. And we call it educating our youth?

          "There must be more to life than having everything" -Maurice Sendak

          by lilypew on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:25:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  So what works best in schools... (0+ / 0-)

      is it not be implimented or maybe it isn't necessarily the best thing but the most popular?

  •  It Does Make You Wonder Their Thinking (7+ / 0-)

    behind the title of the session, coming from somebody that has maintained a daily blog on New Orleans/Katrina for more than five years.

    I guess they'd say the public school system just needs a "restart" like happened in New Orleans, where in the aftermath of Katrina a lot of new charter schools were set-up. Or, as I tend to think reading the title they want to totally destroy the entire public school system, drown it, and start over from scratch.

    I mean words do matter, and of course a title of a session that is getting national attention matters even more. I don't choose my words as well as I always should, but as a 20+ year marketing guy if I was proofing a 20 page schedule for this event that would have never made it by the desk without a huge, huge red flag.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:42:44 AM PDT

  •  Sad (21+ / 0-)

    It's always folks who have never taught in a real classroom for any extended amount of time who want to tell those of us who have how to do it right.  I would have laughed at the ridiculous argument of "Waiting for Superman" (bad teachers are kept around by evil teachers unions) if it weren't so readily believed by the masses.  We don't have a teachers union in Virginia, and in several other states with bad education systems there is no union either.  What, pray tell, is keeping the bad teachers around in those areas?  

    The notion that somehow education needs a Katrina ignores the real problem in American education that nobody wants to talk about:  the American people.  

    The stark reality is that American culture has diminished and distrusted academia for decades.  I did a poll of students 5 years ago -- 98% of students polled said that athletics were valued more than academics by the school itself.  Worse, 92% said that they cared more about athletic achievement than scholastic achievement.  

    The problem is that Americans say they want their kids to get a good education, but what they really mean by that is that they want their child to get a piece of paper that states that they are well educated.  College students routinely follow the same path they followed in high school of cramming for tests so that they can pass and get a degree in order to get a job.  Knowledge for knowledge's sake is an anachronism of the past, a relic of another time in which personal improvement was the goal of education, not getting a higher paying job.  

    When Americans themselves begin to value education -- and by that I mean individual quests for knowledge, deeper understanding, and personal development - then and only then will the American education system begin to reform itself in meaningful ways.    

    A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.

    by Guy Fawkes on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:43:02 AM PDT

    •  Yes, I remember when Texas asked Ross Perot to (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, akeitz, sandblaster, JanL

      … head some kind of commission looking into quality of education in Texas. Boy, did he catch heck when the #1 recommendation made by the commission was, like, perhaps we shouldn't be devoting (= diverting) so much attention and money to football.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

      by lotlizard on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:25:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, but he got no pass no play through (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        akeitz, lotlizard

        on behalf of then Gov Mark White because the first thing he did is take just about every lobbyist in Austin and put them on his payroll so they couldn't work against him.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:31:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You mean, Perot bought off lobbyists by (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sandblaster

          … awarding them work at EDS?

          Not familiar with the meaning of the phrase "got no pass no play through on behalf of"—does that mean Gov. White had Perot's back? Or was the governor undercutting him?

          I guess I'm missing / not following some important bit of information here.

          The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

          by lotlizard on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:41:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  no, he simply hired them for that bill (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lotlizard

            so no one else could hire them to lobby against it

            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

            by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:11:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So, Perot bought passage of the bill forming the (0+ / 0-)

              … commission he was to head, by buying up all the available lobbying capacity on that issue . . .? Thereby needing, and getting, zero support from the governor?

              Did anything ever come of the commission's results and recommendations?

              The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

              by lotlizard on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:20:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  you'd have to ask someone in Texas (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lotlizard

                for the long term impact.  In the short term, he got no pass no play made into official state policy, which really upset the official religion of Texas, Friday Night Football.

                "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 11:49:52 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Oh, I got it now. I misunderstood the last 2 or 3 (0+ / 0-)

                  … comments.

                  I wasn't grasping that "no pass no play" was the name of a policy and a bill or law. In retrospect now it's obvious enough ("if you don't pass [your courses], you won't be allowed to play [football]").

                  Disregard the rest of my questions, I can always look it up or ask a Texas politics maven if I'm interested.

                  The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

                  by lotlizard on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 03:27:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  You made an excellent point: (15+ / 0-)

    Last night I wondered:  how many of them have children in public schools?  I would be surprised if any of the corporate types or NBC figures do.  Perhaps some of the mayors or governors has in the past -  it can be a politically sensitive subject to be laying down rules for schools in which you are unwilling to put your own children, although for some who are hostile to public schools they use that as a cudgel to beat up on them.

    They don't want to help "fix" anything. It's about control.

    "There must be more to life than having everything" -Maurice Sendak

    by lilypew on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:43:43 AM PDT

    •  IMHO This Is A Point That Can't Be (4+ / 0-)

      stressed enough. I lived for many years in DC. I don't know a single person of "means" that sent their children to public schools, and I didn't know anybody like a US Senator or Chris Matthews. I mean it isn't even something folks ponder for a second, especially if they live in the District.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:47:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure this is relevant (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CParis, masslib

      Whether or not the "reformists" send their kids to public schools is not indicative to the veracity of their claims. Despite the rhetoric, there are plenty of public school districts that excel and have state and/or national reputations for the quality of the education they deliver to their students.

      The more relevant question should be which public schools do these "reformists" send their children too. All too often those with the most resources are able to live in within the boundaries of high performing public school districts. It is easy for many of these highly paid CEO's to chatter on about how public education is in dire need of reform, yet they live within a district that has the resources to attract the very best teachers, provide the very best facilities and offer the widest curricular offerings supported by the latest technology.

      Education does not begin and end at the classroom door. Education is a systemic process that includes much much more than what happens within the classroom. Public education can and does excel - when systemically it is supported.

      •  Important point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL

        most school districts, especially those in suburbs are doing a good job.  That's because they have the financial support (local property taxes) to recruit teachers/staff, offer superior programs (AP classes, sports, etc) and families have the education/income to insure kids go to school prepared to learn (adequate nutrition/sleep, homework support,etc).

        These parents have nothing to complain about when it comes to their own children's education - what they're complaining about is when they are asked to help support the education of kids in areas with less resources (via income taxes, transfers).  Then the Education Industrial Complex steps in and it becomes a money grab.

        If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me. ~ Alice Roosevelt Longworth

        by CParis on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:12:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A research topic........ (12+ / 0-)

    Ken:  To your knowledge has anybody researched the correlation between the nation’s leading education "reform" voices and where they have been sending their own children to school?  I’d love to see a C. Wright Mills type lens applied to studying the gutting of the public school system by elites who seek widen economic inequality.  

    •  some do send kids to public schools (9+ / 0-)

      many of those in the think tanks in DC or perhaps New York live in the suburbs, and some of those suburbs have public schools that rival private schools.  I grew up in Mamaroneck NY public schools -  we had some lower middle class neighborhoods, but also some incredibly wealthy ones.  We were committed as a community to our schools, which were excellent.   Our biggest rival, nearby Scarsdale, had arguably one of the nation's best public school systems.  It also when I was growing up had perhaps the highest per household income of any incorporated community in the US.

      Around DC there are schools in Montgomery and Fairfax counties that are superb, with national reputations.  Since people will be paying taxes for them, some in positions of power send their kids there.

      Others of course do not -  they want the "prestige" and the networking that comes from the elite private schools.

      Again, I do not know the answer.  But I was thinking about it driving back from College Park and the party last night.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:48:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well Yes There Are Good, Well Great Public (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Daddy Bartholomew

        schools in Fairfax and Montgomery counties. But when I lived in DC so many of the folks I knew lived in DC and I can't think of a single family with any financial means that sent their children to public schools.

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

        by webranding on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:51:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh Just Interesting Funding Note (6+ / 0-)

        Montgomery and Fairfax both usually rank in the top counties in the US with joint household income. Funny how they get the funding via local taxes to have good schools isn't it?

        IHMO that is something I've never understood about school funding. Those with the highest property taxes (generally speaking) have more money and the better schools.

        Seems a pretty basic concept to understand those with means just get richer while those of lower income get a worse education which often means they'll make less money and have less options when they become adults.

        "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

        by webranding on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:56:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Michelle Rhee (0+ / 0-)

      sends her kids to public school.  So does/did Jeffrey Canada.  Since we care about where kids go, I know plenty of teachers who send their own kids to private school or don't live in the district where they teach.  I don't think we want to go down that route.

      •  his name is Geoffrey Canada, try spelling it righ (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ivan, sandblaster, JanL, masslib

        and Michelle Rhee's kids went to a school where a small group of parents complained about a principal who was greatly loved by most of the parents and she herself fired the teacher.

        Had Rhee not put her kids in public schools there would have been hell to pay with the DC City Council, which while they had agreed to allow mayoral control had expected to at least be consulted in who was going to be hired to run the schools, and were not even given a heads up about Rhee's hiring.  

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:34:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh my goodness... (0+ / 0-)

          for real, TEACHER KEN.  So I spelled his name wrong...whippedy do!  Once again, your arrogance and attitude is unbecoming.

          Good for the DC City Council!  I wonder how much schools would improve if teachers were forced to live in the district where they teached and if there kids were forced into the district's public schools.  Nothing like having real skin in the game now is it?

          •  Like a teacher could afford to live in Mclean, VA (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JanL, CParis

            That is a bad road to go down -- there are many schools in districts where the average house is out of reach for the average teacher.

          •  you also got my name wrong (0+ / 0-)

            since it is teacherken  -  one word, no caps.

            Not that accuracy seems to matter to you, eh?

            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

            by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:12:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah okay... you win...happy now? (0+ / 0-)
            •  I was actually distracted.... (0+ / 0-)

              my kid's teacher from last year was here.  She is going back to school to earn her Masters and other certifications.  She needed volunteers (students) so I volunteered my kid to help her in a Writing course and Assessment course.  It is the least my kid and I can do to help her when she has done so much for him and his lifetime chances.  She has stated she wouldn't send her kids to public school because of the teachers she is dealing with now.  She is also a life-long learner and has stated she is learning so much and can't wait to get back into the classroom.  He has consistently had good teachers for the past four years.  She also supports charters and vouchers as she states, she isn't going to be the one standing in the way of children and educational achievement.  

              I wish every child could have a teacher like her and the two other teachers my child has had from 1st to 6th.

  •  I kept checking for your post. (6+ / 0-)

    You are a voice of reason in this debate around public education. Let's keep this front and center. Without public supported public education, Democracy fails.

    "There must be more to life than having everything" -Maurice Sendak

    by lilypew on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:50:52 AM PDT

    •  sometimes I write far more with my heart (4+ / 0-)

      than with my intellect, although I never totally abandon the latter.

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Let's see what this one brings forth.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:53:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Now if only... (0+ / 0-)

      public schools were actually doing more than the absolute minimum for black, brown and poor kids.  

      •  as usual you use inapplicable universals (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ivan, sandblaster, JanL, masslib, speak2me

        I teach in a majority black school.  The Sweet Sixteen party I attended was for a young lady who, as being of South Asian descent, clearly qualifies as Brown.

        Several of those who have already posted on this thread teach populations that are Black, Hispanic, every hue you can imagine.  

        The problems encountered is far more a case of inappropriate mandates imposed on schools by people who do not understand learning, the lack of support for nutrition, the economic situation of the communities in which some schools are located.  You will not magically "fix" those kids while ignoring the settings from which they come.

        And what is being proposed and imposed is something those pushing the ideas would never allow to be forced upon their own children.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:37:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So black, brown and poor kids... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          speak2me

          were failing disproportionately before NCLB?

          •  yes and they still are (5+ / 0-)

            NCLB has been most devastating to minority children. One of the provisions of this law that bothers me the most concerns ESOL children. They get 1 year before they have to take the high stakes tests in English. The district can opt for an additional 1-year extension for some kids. So...you come here not speaking English before you entered school and you might get 2 years before you have to take whatever state-developed standardized test.

            We know it takes 2-3 years of full immersion to develop conversational language skills in another language (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills or BICS). It takes another 5-7 years on top of that to become academically proficient in another language (called CALPS; can't recall what it exactly stands for - coffee still taking effect :)

      •  Are you for real? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, CParis, masslib, Mostel26

        Have you spent years teaching in a low income, transient area where the poverty rate is high; where more than 50% of your students move from school to school and by fifth grade many have been in four different schools?   Have you ever worked in a neighborhood where the brightest of the class (students and parents) number one goal is to move away?   Many of the successes of teachers in inner city schools move away!  It is an undeniable fact that the children that do best in any school are those whose parents value education.   And often those parents understand that their ultimate goal is to get their children into other schools, where the majority value education.

        But that does not mean that those truly left behind, the children who have a parent in prison, or who are being raised by the grandparent whose own children ended up in gangs/on drugs do not matter.  And many of those children succeed IN SPITE of the attitude of the general public.   THEY MATTER even if they do not have a support system in their home.    

        A few years back a group of charter school advocates overtook our school board.  Their goal?  Make our public schools so bad, the public would demand privatization.  Unfortunately for them many of us were tuned in an aware and had them recalled.  Unfortunately it was not fast enough to stop all the damage.   One of these men was actually overheard saying (in answer to the question of "what about the kids whose parents can't or won't get them to a charter/private school where parents are obliged to participate, transport?) "Hey, we always need janitors and maids."   He laughed because people like him don't care about poor students.  They just care about the profit motive.

        Inner city school teachers I have known have the same distribution of great, average and poor teachers that occur in all schools.  And of course occur in all professions. But they often work twice as hard with half the successes of their counterparts in other schools.   In the end, many burn out, because the sadness of their own frustrations is harder than even the constant finger wagging of those like you who seem to think they know the magic of what should be done.   In the end, teaching in even the best circumstances is hard work and the results may not be evident for years and years.  Any one who honestly believes that one can test a nine year old and based on some score on one day can predict anything is silly.

        Those who believe that charter schools that discriminate are doing better are blinded and have not done the research.   ANY school that gets to pick and choose its students will fare much better than schools mandated to take all regardless.  And that is the scam.  It's like health care.  The profit motive of health care got us where we are.  Of course when health care companies can turn away sick people, refuse treatment, they will fare better for their investors than a company that treats ALL their insured, accepts ALL people regardless of health.  Public schools accept ALL children.  Charter schools do not.  Nor do public schools.  If people cannot see that educating ALL is more difficult than educating the chosen simply are being naive, ignorant or are as greedy as those pushing the profit motive for education.. putting a dollar sign on a child, is all about greed.

        So please, save your lectures.   teacherken, unlike many, does his homework (research) and is an expert, open to learning from others.  He is not an expert because he "went to school" or has kids in school.
        Just because a parent or student had a bad experience with a teacher or a school does not make one an expert.

        •  I live in the inner city... (0+ / 0-)

          have spent the majority of my life here and refuse to leave.  Because I've had great teachers and know great teachers, I refuse to allow teachers to defend the status quo.  You've assumed that I've had problems.  My problems are no worse or different than the my neighbors who refuse to send their children to our neighborhood school and choose charters.  

          You also assume I've not done any research.  Different people can form different opinions based on the same information.  I know my some fine teachers thank God.  They may no excuses and get the job done.

          Speaking of research...if you had done any, you would know that most charters aren't as selective as people will have you believe.  Many have lotteries so they don't get to cream as private schools do.  

          I'm watching Education Nation now, so I'm tuning out but speaking of lectures, you really made three big gross assumptions lacking research.  But I guess since you are less than critical, that will get a pass, lol

          •  In how many schools have you taught? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JanL, masslib

            How many teachers have you interviewed?   Just living somewhere that is poor does not make one an expert on how every impoverished area works, any more than just going to school makes one an expert on schools.

            Working forty years in a public school system, as well as going to a private/charter type school for much of my childhood has given me some insight!  As well, our district was one of the first that implemented charter schools.   For the last 12 years, one charter in the poor section of our city, competed with the public school there, the school where I worked for a decade.  
            Despite all the hoopla, not once in all those years did the charter school "score" any better than their public school neighbors on those standardized tests, despite longer days and a longer year.  And their turn over of teachers was worse than the turnover in our school which btw had the largest turnover in the district.

            The research has shown over and over, that testing is not necessarily reflective of what is being learned.

            •  So growing up in an impoverished.. (0+ / 0-)

              area doesn't make me an expert?  Two teachers in my family, interacted with countless going to school and interviewed several in my quest to find a good education from my child.  My one Aunt is a Special Ed teacher and her school was just taken over by the district and privatized.  She is now in another charter school that serves children with special needs.  

              We may be from the same city, but I think I read that charters were implimented in my city 8 years ago so maybe not.  

              If test scores aren't reflective of what is being learned why has it become such a high-stakes game prior to NCLB.  Tests make the difference between what colleges you attend to which high schools you can attend.  I really don't think the argument is about testing perse.  I think it is a proxy for teacher accountability.  When tests were deciding the fate of individual students, it was fine and that has been the status quo.  Now that people are pushing for tying those tests to teacher pay, oh the quest is on to debunk them.  I had no clue teachers were so anti-testing, lol.  

              •  I worked with a teacher a few years back (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sandblaster, keschen, JanL, masslib

                who was hired, per NCLB, because of his math abilities.   However there is no test for how teachers can motivate and manage.    No matter how well he was skilled in math, his talents for teaching unruly children were amiss.  The man came from the Phillipines where he was successful for many years.  He was shocked because the students here, the majority from impoverished areas and dysfunctional families who did not value education, did not care about learning.  
                This man, a good person, was destroyed by the system. Because teaching is about the children and not the math.   For many of these kids, their test scores were much lower than one would expect from their innate abilities. Because in some countries, education is a privilege and not a right, teaching is a whole different ball game. He failed not because of his math skills but because he had no knowledge of how to teach in a school where students were unmotivated, angry and from families where education was not valued.   Those children can succeed but it takes more than math skill to teach those kids.  NCLB  does not acknowledge this.    
                  In many charter as well as in private schools, many children have an advantage.....parents who cared enough to make sure their children were getting an education.  But in the charter school of which I spoke, it was converted from a public school.  It had been the neighborhood school.  No change was needed from the parents (like transporting the child, and they could not in this particular charter be expelled if they lived in the neighborhood).  Thus just changing the "concept" of who teaches there and how (not following the contract with concerns for time, lunch duty free lunch breaks, evaluations) made NO DIFFERENCE. On the other hand, another charter opened recently.  No special needs kids were accepted because they had no special ed teacher.   In other words, the charter chose as a part of it's charter, to NOT educate kids with any special needs.   Thus they peeled off some of the top kids from the neighborhood, and thus the scores of that public school would go down statistically.

                Charters can be the same as public schools like the first I described, or they can choose to discriminate.  THAT is not an even playing field.  

                Having teachers in your family and asking questions of your friends is not the same as spending decades walking the walk.   Being in a classroom matters........and it is a whole different point of view.  Try it for a couple of weeks.   Deal with a drunken angry parent telling you to F**k off because you called social services when their child came to school with soiled pants daily, with bruises and burns.   Deal with calling the police and going to court to testify against a parent being allowed on the campus yet knowing that no matter what, that child has to go home to that parent.   Deal with an angry, hungry hurt child on test day who, despite their mother being hauled off to jail, they still have to "take the test."   Then try to explain that poor test score to an administrator and being told "no excuses"....multiply that many times over.

                If there were a magic potion that worked for all kids all the time, teachers would be the first to buy into it.   Teacher unions and tenure protect us from dealing with things much of the public does not even get or acknowledge.  In forty years, I saw my union work hard for things like a 30 minute duty free lunch.   That's all.  LUNCH where I could get a chance to use the bathroom, eat and perhaps get support from colleagues, or just laugh. And still in every school despite that guarantee, the majority of teachers, when needed by a student or their parent or a colleague left their guaranteed lunch and did what needed to be done.   But because of that guarantee, a principal could not demand we do what he/she wanted.

                Teaching and teachers are a HUGE part of what will help a child succeed or fail, but not nearly as important as their parent/guardian, overall quality of life.   When a parent came in and took a child from my class once every week before lunch to eat with him, I was thrilled.  Then I find out she had been having him urinate because she had to take a weekly drug test. How do I combat that?  How do I control that child's mind, keep his concentration when his priority has been to help keep Mom out of jail?  

                I wish it was as simplistic as you seem to think.  All good teachers, no tenure so the bad ones will be fired, and we all live happily ever after.  Not going to happen. Not now.  Not ever.  

                When I was little, I was poor.  My "private" school was a catholic school funded by the church. Most of us were poor.  My mother was pulled out of school in 6th grade to work in a textile factory.  My father made it to tenth grade.  When I would go home, like most kids, I occasionally whined about my teacher.  "She's mean, she doesn't listen to me....".  I was like most kids.   Pretty egocentric.....
                My mother's answer was simple:  "J, I do not send you to school to like the teacher. I send you there to get an education.  Whether the teacher is bad or good, it is still your job to get an education."  My parents valued education and they also knew that the burden was not totally on the teacher.  I had two, uneducated parents, who came from poverty.   Yet, both my sister and I went to college.   Both of us succeeded despite the odds against us because our parents told us education is important.  I had some terrible teachers in my private school (believe me, NO NUNS ever get fired)  and I had some great ones.   In the end, I learned something from the great ones, the bad ones, and the mediocre ones because I had parents who insisted it was not just about the teacher.  

                There is no magic bullet.  No one teacher is great for 100% of the students, 100% of the time. I believe I was an excellent teacher, I still hear from many of my former students and was nominated for many awards.  In the end, though, I am sure there were a few students I failed in forty years.  Hopefully where I missed with a few, they found another teacher that hit just the right note.  

                The simplicity that one teacher can make or break a student is nonsense.  In twelve years of school, most students will get mostly great, some average and hopefully only one or two inadequate (for them) teachers and will do well.

                Teaching is an art and not a science. What works beautifully for one student may be a disaster for another.   There is no one way to paint a beautiful picture.

                •  Hmmm... (0+ / 0-)

                  Deal with a drunken angry parent telling you to F**k off because you called social services when their child came to school with soiled pants daily, with bruises and burns.   Deal with calling the police and going to court to testify against a parent being allowed on the campus yet knowing that no matter what, that child has to go home to that parent.   Deal with an angry, hungry hurt child on test day who, despite their mother being hauled off to jail, they still have to "take the test."   Then try to explain that poor test score to an administrator and being told "no excuses"....multiply that many times over.

                  You really shouldn't make assumptions about what people have dealt with...I could tell you stories about CPS and me and angry parents.  For the better of about 5 years, I had to deal with an angry parent - my sister.  You have no idea what I've been through and my interaction with governmental agencies and my unwillingness, no inability to give up on a child who everyone would have written off.  I still have to course correct often because he is black and male and people just assume he is some unintelligent thug.  

                  I will take some time to read your thoughts and I'm interested in your experiences.  But, you should also be willing to listen to mine and not jump to conclusions.

                  •  But I am not judging all parents (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JanL, masslib

                    I am talking about a system, a public school system.  Your experiences are probably difficult and certainly have impacted your life.  But we are talking about a system being judged, dismantled, and a profession being judged based on limited experiences.  

                    Even if your experiences with your school system are as accurate and as unbiased as humanly possible, it is still one system, from one point of view.  

                    I have taught (now retired) for over forty years, since I was 21 years old, in two states, in three different school systems. But in those years I have worked in several schools (six) and even more importantly I have worked with many, many, many teachers....from many different states.  My colleagues have been from varied backgrounds, varied ethnic groups, varied educational levels.  As well, I taught in a master's program for ten years, (part time) in a liberal arts college that had an MA education program.  Many in that program were students doing second careers.  

                    As for students, do the math.  With over forty years, mostly in elementary and/middle school, I would say (not even counting my outside the classroom classes and coaching/ tutoring) I have worked with well over 1200 students.  As well I have worked with countless other teachers, heard their experiences.  I have two Master's degrees.  I have been nominated for many awards, the most cherished for me being "Who's Who" because only high achieving college students could nominate their former teachers.   I am not telling you this to brag but to help you understand.  One family's point of view about students and teachers is valuable but is hardly a view that encompasses a large amount of experiences.

                    I respect that you care about your child, your district and education in general.  That alone makes your voice valuable.  But when you seem to want to simplify the complex issues of educating ALL children in the country down to teachers vs parents, or public vs private, I cannot see your limited view being the one to which I ascribe.

                    teacherken remains in the classroom. I remain involved and I still substitute and I have a vast array of educational resources.  I am a staunch union member but was not afraid to work with administration and the union to get a teacher that I believed was hurting children out of the profession.  Good teachers do that.  Just because the public is ignorant of these things does not make it nonexistent.  But I also believe in due process.  In our justice system, we do not ideally believe in "guilty until proven innocent."  But in education, teachers had for years been easily removed at one time on the word of a child, a parent, an administrator.  
                    That has changed.  I live in a highly conservative community but I belong to a peace and justice political group.  I have protested some political issues.   Once I was seen on television protesting a political issue. My extremely conservative principal would have fired me if he could.   The protest had nothing to do with education or my professional abilities.  It was an anti war protest.   Yet, before teachers' master contracts and collective bargaining I could easily have been fired.   It happened.  

                    Now, it is harder to fire a teacher.  This is what people do not get.  Teachers do not live in a vacuum.  We get to have the same rights as all citizens without fear of retribution. But due process is and should be our right.

                    All of these things matter.  I want to hear what parents have to say always.  But simply making blanket statements that "charters" are better, or teachers' unions are the problem, really rankles those of us who CHOSE this professions, stuck with it, even when we had students that frustrated us to tears.   We all cry for our failures and rejoice at our successes.  The public does not see those things.  

                    I just want people to be open minded, to understand one cannot judge an entire system based only on their child's (or their own)experiences, good or bad.

                    •  This is what you don't get... (0+ / 0-)

                      One family's point of view about students and teachers is valuable but is hardly a view that encompasses a large amount of experiences.

                      You assume, I'm drawing these conclusion in isolation.  I've encountered many families.  Everyone knows when they talk to me, we are talking about education and I listen and I hear stories, too.  In some places, the first question asked is, "where do you go to church?"  In my area, the first question asked is "where do your kids go to school?"  The lack of engagement and no concern just isn't presenting as broadly as many here would like to put forth and believe.  It is a huge issue and every parent I know up and down the SES is seeking advice from other parents about school choices.  My observations aren't just based on my families and they aren't just based on my city as I have friends up and down the East coast and the south and this is what we talk about and strategies for helping our kids to excel.  So yeah, I push back when I hear people broadly saying parents in inner cities don't care because as I've said many times, I live on a poor block in my city but not a parent on this block sends their kid to the neighborhood public school.  Do you think I don't talk to my neighbors and get their views?  So it isn't isolated.

                      But when you seem to want to simplify the complex issues of educating ALL children in the country down to teachers vs parents, or public vs private, I cannot see your limited view being the one to which I ascribe.

                      My feeling is that in too many diaries on Education around here, the frame is teachers vs. parents with teachers leading the discussion.  I'm bringing the perspective of an inner city minority parent here to combat what I see as cultural elitism and by darn I know I'm the only one.  The conversations have been too one-sided for too long and really the intimation that I'm unknowledgeable may be a broader issue that teachers need to address because the assumption is because I disagree, I've not researched the issues and thus I shouldn't contribute.  Yes, I've been called stupid here several times but I've got thick skin so I don't let it bother me.

                      I have to run but will respond more later.

                    •  This is also true for non-profits... (0+ / 0-)

                      and government workers...

                      The protest had nothing to do with education or my professional abilities.  It was an anti war protest.   Yet, before teachers' master contracts and collective bargaining I could easily have been fired.   It happened.

                      My city has a rule that no city employee can participate in political activity.  Many non-profits also have the same rule.  

                    •  I've never said... (0+ / 0-)

                      But simply making blanket statements that "charters" are better,

                      There are some charters that are horrible.  We can agree.  But my question would be, if the child was in a public or charter and getting sub-standard education, what difference does it make at the end of the day?  Because public schools are sacred cows, I can't criticize and point out that some charters are better and that parents are lining up to get into them?  That makes me a paid-shill for charters spouting right-wing talking points as per some on this blog?  I don't think so.  As I've said many times, I'm a product of public school.  

                •  And of the children... (0+ / 0-)

                  In many charter as well as in private schools, many children have an advantage.....parents who cared enough to make sure their children were getting an education.

                  Who were ill-prepared for private schools or didn't lottery in to charters and were just stuck in public schools, I guess you assume their parents didn't care?  That is one of my main problems.  Value judgements are being made on simply where the children are in school and children are all lumped in.  If they are in public schools, their parents dont care.  If they are in private or charter, their parents care.  I would say there are just a diverse range of parental care and involvement in all different types of schools.  The difference, private schools and charters don't care if the "parent's care."  They have a mandate and they meet it.  Public schools just say, well the kid can't read by 5 so they will never catch up so why even bother?  Forget the fact that caring parents who couldn't afford private school, couldn't get into private school or didn't have their lucky ball pulled out are in these public schools.  My belief is if the parent gets the kid to school, they care about and value their education.  

                •  yeah... (0+ / 0-)

                  And you assume...

                  My mother's answer was simple:  "J, I do not send you to school to like the teacher. I send you there to get an education.  Whether the teacher is bad or good, it is still your job to get an education."  My parents valued education and they also knew that the burden was not totally on the teacher.  I had two, uneducated parents, who came from poverty.

                  This isn't a conversation happening in the homes of these kids you've decided that their parent's don't value education?  And your evidence is what because I can tell you, I don't know a parent, even those poorly served by public schools who have not said the same thing to their kid one point or another.  My mom said it to me and I've said it to my kid pulling his attention to the long term goal.  As a matter of fact, my mom would come down so hard on me if I did even try to complain and I know other mothers who do and have done the same.

                  My one cousin that is a teacher in one of the best public schools in the city routinely talks about the difference between the white parents that don't discipline their children and the black parents that will discipline the kids right in front of the teacher (even though she has to tell the parent not to do that because she would have to report it.)  I really think people need to stop believing the hype and as I said the meme that a kid isn't learning because the parent doesn't care.  It is destroying our public school system.

                •  umm (0+ / 0-)

                  There is no magic bullet.  No one teacher is great for 100% of the students, 100% of the time. I believe I was an excellent teacher, I still hear from many of my former students and was nominated for many awards.  In the end, though, I am sure there were a few students I failed in forty years.  Hopefully where I missed with a few, they found another teacher that hit just the right note.  

                  The simplicity that one teacher can make or break a student is nonsense.  In twelve years of school, most students will get mostly great, some average and hopefully only one or two inadequate (for them) teachers and will do well.

                  Teaching is an art and not a science. What works beautifully for one student may be a disaster for another.   There is no one way to paint a beautiful picture.

                  Hmm...i know schools that consistently provide quality education.  Teachers being good 100% of the time of every student...no one is arguing that, however, when only 1% of African American males in LA are reading at an advance level in 4th grade and presumably their sisters are doing better but not much better, I would argue that teachers aren't even being good 50% of the time to 50% of the children.

        •  Amen (0+ / 0-)

          And then the biggest Billy Goat Gruff butted the troll off of the bridge! Thank you for standing up for those of us who teach and refuse to be the scapegoats!

  •  Seems to me education had its Katrina. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, HamdenRice, princss6, b4uknowit

    Statistic after statistic seems to all but show an educational system belly-up, floating in the rising floodwaters of F@iL!.

    What remains to be seen is how long the education-hungry children will have to wait in their own crumbling superdomes before their government decides it's not worth letting their brains starve to death.

    Where are the choppers?

    More and Better Democrats

    by SJerseyIndy on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:52:21 AM PDT

    •  Katrina was a natural disaster with devastating (8+ / 0-)

      consequences.

      In some parts of this country education has instead been suffering from slow starvation, the problems compounded with the junk food of the past several decades of "reform" that has not addressed either the real educational needs of the students nor the social conditions in which they live which help to create those educational needs.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:56:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not just D.C. (3+ / 0-)

    How many "big dogs" sent their students to public schools in New Orleans?

    "There must be more to life than having everything" -Maurice Sendak

    by lilypew on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:54:04 AM PDT

    •  which reminds me of another email (5+ / 0-)

      a very prominent teacher in a well-known DC charter school contacted me yesterday to ask about the various schools in our district, because he and his wife are looking to buy a home -  he loves his teaching, but his pay probably does not allow him to buy a substantial enough home in a safe enough neighborhood in DC.  

      It works both ways, of course.  I know those who teach in public schools for the additional salary but then send their kids to religious schools.

      I have no objection to a parent seeking the school that best fits the needs of a child.  Sadly, too many do not look closely at what is available in public schools.  Too many do not make a commitment to ensure the public schools in their community are sufficient and adequate, even though it would be to their financial benefit -  good schools increases the value of residential property.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 05:59:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In the district in which I teach (6+ / 0-)

        teachers who wanted their children to transfer IN to the district (elementary age) were refused. This is an under-achieving district in "academic emergency" (or whatever the latest catch phrase is from NCLB) which would benefit from having more children with college educated parents with high expectations. The district moved 6th grade down to elementary buildings without understanding (or caring) that the buildings (which are all less than 6 years old) were built for 6 grade levels, not 7, so they are overflowing with students (while the middle schools sit with empty rooms or rooms being "rented" to ancillary agencies).

        "There must be more to life than having everything" -Maurice Sendak

        by lilypew on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:09:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  posted on Facebook a few minutes ago (8+ / 0-)

    I did sign up to participate in todays education nation discussion. I anticipate that the discussion is rigged to further an agenda that has nothing to do with educating children and everything to do with funneling public funds into private coffers. There has been an organized and well funded effort to destroy the rights of working people to organize (stand together as a union) for the past thirty years at least. Corporate America and their friends in congress have worked to steadily weaken labor laws to protect capitol and take away the rights of workers. Teachers' unions in some states are still some of the strongest unions. It makes sense that a campaign is being waged specifically against them. I believe that more rigorous educational standards are being met by a greater number of students in states where teachers have a strong voice through their state wide union. I want to see the numbers. I want an honest discussion about the state of education in states that are "right to work" verses states like PA, NY, Mass, where teachers have a voice through their union. Of course the union issue is only a small part of the discussion that should be taking place on education reform but those pushing the public debate at the moment are the ones attacking all public school teachers and blaming unions. They have a political agenda not an education reform agenda.

    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 Sep 26, 2010 at 06:09:43 AM PDT

    •  We need to get out there (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BMarshall, JanL, Albatross

      This is why we all need to pick a time to get out in the streets and make our voices heard.  I would love to see somebody pick a day to have a national rally for education in which we all walk to the front of our schools and have a coast to coast protest for: - Our voices to be included in reform debates - Our students to have access to everything they need to be successful regardless of their zip code - Our reputations no longer being sullied by fake reformers looking to destroy the education system by making teachers into villains

  •  It IS about resegregation (10+ / 0-)

    Not by race, but by level of family support and involvement.  My hubby and I stopped in NO for a day this Summer.  Hubby couldn't walk much so we took the streetcars.  From what I could see, the only schools that had been fixed up were charters.  I know that is a limited view, but I also read (I think on Schoolsmatter) about how charters are "counseling" special ed students to return to regular public schools for services in NO.  They don't outright deny them, they talk in terms of not having the right resources.  I know this happens in AZ.  And the biggest factor is that the only students in charters are the ones with parents motivated and involved enough to seek enrollemnt.

  •  The ultimate goal (8+ / 0-)

    of Republicans is to destroy public education, not to fix it.  Remember that.

    •  To get their hands (5+ / 0-)

      on more of our tax dollars. OMG the greed in politics is so disgusting.

      "There must be more to life than having everything" -Maurice Sendak

      by lilypew on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:26:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But isn't the Obama administration the one... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ivan, akeitz, sandblaster, masslib

      ...championing these reforms?

      I agree that the Republican goal is to destroy public education, but the current Democratic administration is conducting destructive educational policies that make NCLB look tame.  And because it is a Democratic administration, many Democrats do not wish to stand in the way or criticize these policies, which they would do if these policies were enacted by Republicans.

      Should our only choice against Republicans who want to destroy education, Democrats who want to destroy education?

      •  actually, there are many Democratic critics (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ivan, akeitz, sandblaster, JanL, masslib, Tentwenty

        the problem is, going back at least to Bill Clinton's time as Governor of Arkansas, there has been a significant group of influential Dems who have bought into these approaches, even though they have not succeeded, despite several decades of applying them.  Thus we have the group Democrats for Education Reform, one of whose key players, Andrew Rotherham, is now the educational blogger for Time Magazine -  which, btw, I should have included in my panoply of power players participating in this coordinated attack on public schooling.

        Much of what the administration has asked for in the Blue Print does not look at this point as if it will emerge unscathed from George Miller's House Committee on Education and Labor.  

        And it is also worth nothing that when David Obey wanted to fund part of the $10 billion jobs for teachers bill by using unspent funds from Race to the Top and the President threatened to veto the bill if that were in it, the House Democratic caucus strongly supported Obey, with both Miller and Speaker Pelosi voting for his version.

        Do not assume that there will be no pushback.

        One very astute person in a major Democratic think tank, whose brief does not include education, but who is about as connected to senior members of the Democratic caucus as anyone I can name, has suggested that smart Dems should run this cycle by reaching out to the Teachers' unions and promising to do all they can to roll back and oppose Race to the Top, including stopping any additional unspent funds.\

        Do not assume that Dems will not push back against the administration on this.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:43:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Soo... (0+ / 0-)

      that should be solace to the kids delegated to a lifetime of non-education?  How do you explain the popularity of school reform about AA and Latino Democrats, voters and elected officials?

      •  How do I explain the popularity (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger

        of school reform with voters?

        If you mean support for vouchers and charters and standards and pedagogy that support ruling class hegemony and serve to create a compliant workforce, I have a theory:

        They are products of a failed education system.

        They are victims of ignorance and propaganda.

        The choice isn't do nothing or support charters and vouchers.  There are other options.  

        No public option. Well, at least we are no longer in Iraq or Afghanistan...

        by Pierro Sraffa on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:36:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  actually, vouchers are NOT popular with voters (7+ / 0-)

          whenever they have been put up in a referendum, they have been defeated.  Without exception.  

          Where they exist they were imposed by legislative bodies without direct input from or approval by voters.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:45:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And public education... (0+ / 0-)

          doesn't support "ruling class hegemony" or "serve to create a compliant workforce?"  For real?

          Wow...how do I dissect your comments which I'm sure will be recced through the roof.  How do I attempt to even breach the cultural elitism encapsulated in those words?  So these voters are too dumb to follow along with the meme that the public schools are just fine, even though you theorize that the public school might have failed them.  

          There are other options, I agree.  I haven't seen any movement towards those options by those who proclaim they know best and have the institutional power for implimentation.  In that vacuum, Education, Inc. thrives.

          •  Look at a HS history textbook or (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            speak2me

            economics book.

            Ruling class hegemony through and through.  The lies and deceit found in such books are overwhelming, almost to the point where some of them are unusable.

            In my course on the history of MS, I use the book only as a prop to engage the students with other authors and ideas.  Also, the State Framework for the course does not mention slavery, lynching, economic exploitation, or the rise of segregation academies, meaning that a teacher could legitimately teach the course with mentioning any of that (there is however a full page color insert of Trent Lott).

            As for dissecting my comments, feel free.  Keep in mind that truth value isn't a function of popularity.  

            No public option. Well, at least we are no longer in Iraq or Afghanistan...

            by Pierro Sraffa on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:59:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I know... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Pierro Sraffa

              you seemed to be saying that Education, Inc was implimenting ruling class hegemony while public education was not.  That is what I disagreed with along with the statement that Democratic minority and majority voters (truth be told) are supporting charters and vouchers.  

              Ken mentioned that voters have voted vouchers down.  I hardly think voter results are a true indicator of the popularity of any thing for many reasons that should be self-evident.  Certainly large swaths of people are not in the voting booth voicing their support or dissent.

        •  How do we explain it? (0+ / 0-)

          How do you explain the popularity of school reform about AA and Latino Democrats, voters and elected officials?

          Easy. They're bought and sold, just like you are.

          "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

          by Ivan on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:25:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If you say so.... (0+ / 0-)

            I pay for private school education...have done so for the past six years while still paying my student loans.  I wish somebody would pay me and the other 'hood denizens.  LOL.  

            It amazes me how quickly the so-called teachers run in to ad hom when people apply critical analysis, you know that thing you all decry you can't teach because of the "tests."  lol.

            •  I'm not a teacher (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, JanL

              Up till this June I was a public school parent. Whereas my daughter is now at a public university, I guess that in a sense I still am. Suppose you apply "critical analysis" to this so-called "reform," as Ken and many others have done. Get back to us when you have.

              "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

              by Ivan on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:58:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Hmmm... (0+ / 0-)

                what Ken and some others have done, IMO has defended the status quo and staunchly railed against teacher accountability, i.e. charters.  You will hardly hear of success stories about charters in his diaries.  It is charters all the time all bad, child achievement be damned.  In this very thread, people are railing against a 100 million dollar gift to the Newark school district.  Seriously, if these threads were more about children and less about teacher job security and benefits, there is no way a comment ripping apart increased funding would be recc'd.  

                •  Tell me how, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger

                  Ms. Smarty Pants, how we are to attract and retain the best available teachers by eroding their job security, benefits, and bargaining power. Tell me how that helps children.

                  "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

                  by Ivan on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 09:06:10 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Soo.. (0+ / 0-)

                    the status quo is helping the kids?  With tenure, we are only attracting and retaining the best?  The inability to fire bad teachers is helping whom?  The kids?

                    •  Inability? (5+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ivan, badger, JanL, masslib, Teiresias70

                      Inability to fire teachers is a misnomer. No contract exists that bans the firing of teachers. Due process cannot be thrown out the window just because admin wants to be lazy in its approach to working with remediating poor faculty. The primary blame for failing schools needs to stop being laid at the feet of educators.

                      •  And it needs to stop being laid... (0+ / 0-)

                        at the feet at parents and poor and minority children.  

                        •  Do you understand that in DC the parents were (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JanL

                          outraged by the mass firing of a number of their teachers, most of whom were black and female?  Did you see the parents and students reaction to the firings in RI this summer?  Let's not make assumptions that children and parents support policies that do not allow for due process for educators.  And, by the way, I'd really love to understand the logic that argues that not providing employee protections attracts good candidates to a given field.  

                          Medicare for All is Fiscal Responsibility

                          by masslib on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:33:31 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  pre-election polling by Washington Post (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JanL, masslib

                            in DC showed black parents of kids in DC schools overwhelmingly supported Fenty, with more than half giving as their main reason their rejection of Michelle Rhee.  It is not just anger over firing of black teachers and replacing them with non-black TFA recruits, it is also a number of other elements as well.  I am waiting for people to argue that these parents were not concerned about the education of their own children.

                            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                            by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:41:30 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

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

                            but if you read the posts in your threads, you would definitly think that these parents weren't concerned for their kids.  I've been saying it all along.  Parents in these poor and minority districts are concerned and thus their children's lack of achievement can't be attributed to their lack of concern.  This doesn't just apply to DC.  That has been one of my main contentions but to hear some teachers tell it, no such thing exists in the inner cities.  I called it BS before and was attacked but now these parents are being lauded.   Okay.

                          •  Ummm (0+ / 0-)

                            And, by the way, I'd really love to understand the logic that argues that not providing employee protections attracts good candidates to a given field.

                            Money typically does it.  Employee protections don't really resonate with people who are hired-at-will...being fired for a good, bad or no reason at all is the only employee protection for most of the american workforce.  Good candidates abound in all fields, including teaching where many teachers don't have those guarantees.  There has been a paradigm shift.  

                          •  That's not what I said... (0+ / 0-)

                            I said show me the argument that not providing employee protections somehow brings in better candidates.  

                            Medicare for All is Fiscal Responsibility

                            by masslib on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 02:27:07 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  And it is done all the time... (0+ / 0-)

                            in  the "real" world.

                •  the status quo is the current "reform agenda" (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger, sandblaster, JanL

                  which has been driving educational policy for the better part of three decades, and clearly in the past decade.

                  I have proposed far more radical change, which I have discussed yet again on this thread.

                  Disagree with me all you want, but do not misrepresent my position.

                  "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                  by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 11:52:49 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  So 30 years ago... (0+ / 0-)

                    minority children were faring better?  

                    •  in some cases, yes (0+ / 0-)

                      because their neighborhoods and communities were faring better.

                      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 12:22:36 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

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

                        not according to this national longitudinal study.

                        Here

                        30 years ago the gap was wider among black and white students.  It is a pdf but the tables are pretty instructive.

                        •  you are assuming test scores are meaningful (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          sandblaster, JanL

                          which many will tell you are not

                          We have seen as a result of increased pressures on test scores higher rates of dropouts and pushouts -  that's how Houston under Rod Paige were able to claim improvement on the Texas tests (not supported by either SAT or NAEP), and this was documented by Walt Haney at BC BEFORE NCLB was passed into law, and despite some of us pointing it out to people on the Hill.

                          And what you are ignoring is the increasing narrowing of the curriculum in order to try to achieve AYP and narrow the so-called performance gap without addressing the underlying reasons, which are heavily economic.

                          And you are ignoring the recent studies that show that the "reforms" are not, even by the poor measure of test scores, actually narrowing the so-called performance gap.  

                          Which is why a number of Civil Rights groups came out against the administration's proposals, because they - rightly in my opinion - see those proposals as making things worse.

                          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                          by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:32:40 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  And what objective measures... (0+ / 0-)

                        are you using to support the belief that those communities were better 30 years ago?  

                        •  take your pick (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          sandblaster, JanL

                          percentage of children in families with single moms

                          percentage of the community in the criminal justice system

                          increased disparity economically

                          loss of jobs in the communities

                          and by the way, this applies equally well to poor white communities in Appalachia.

                          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                          by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:43:41 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  and I am not going to be able to dialog further (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          sandblaster, JanL

                          with you or anyone else after this runthrough.  It is time to turn to my directly school-related tasks.

                          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                          by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:44:26 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

              •  Ohh... (0+ / 0-)

                and you must have not been in many of these threads because if you haven't seen some of the teachers here launching ad homs, you haven't been paying attention.

      •  Well, clearly some of the reforms or atleast (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ivan, slatsg, JanL

        the reformers have not been so popular with AA voters, judging by the outcome of the Gray/Fenty race.

        Medicare for All is Fiscal Responsibility

        by masslib on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:08:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe... (0+ / 0-)

          DC is different from Philly.  Try and take away the charter schools from this city at this point.  AA and Latino parents and white parents, too would rise up something fierce.  We have over 100 schools that have been charterized in the last 10 years or so.  If these parents were told today that their kids were being returned to their neighborhood schools, there would be mass protests across this city.  So I guess one case proves it all.  And I've been accused of universalizing, lol.

    •  The policy of this administration (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akeitz, JanL

      is the most right leaning education policy I can imagine, having states compete, COMPETE for funding?  Requiring states to weaken their union laws to even have a chance at funding?  Giving out half a billion dollars for merit pay days after a major study confirms merit pay doesn't work?  The corporatizing/militarizing of our public school system is no longer a Dem/Repub issue.  It's quite clearly a bipartisan elite issue today.  No point in just looking at the Republicans on this one.

      Medicare for All is Fiscal Responsibility

      by masslib on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:05:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If NO is anything (5+ / 0-)

    like what's going on in Newark right now, we're all in trouble...

    We're being reminded who really runs this country - the wealthy.

    I want a unicorn that shits rainbows. -5.75, -4.72

    by TheGreatLeapForward on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:24:34 AM PDT

  •  "The West Wing" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, LWelsch

    While he may have decided to send his kids to a public school within the story, one of the centerpieces of President Santos' (Jimmy Smits) campaign was "education reform" and ending teacher tenure.

    This became a significant plot point during the Sixth Season's Democratic primary, with President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) having to personally intervene with the teachers unions in order to secure the nomination for Santos.

    •  oh, I am aware of that (8+ / 0-)

      and remember -  there are quite a few teachers who do not have tenure -   many Southern states never had it

      and they are anti-union in general

      and gee, their standard of living is lower

      and so is the performance of most of their public schools

      economic class is a major influence on what happens in schools

      people do better economically where unions are strong, even those people not in unions

      and that includes teachers unions

      what will really make a difference is when professionals begin to join unions to protect themselves, as the PostDocs in the U of CA system did by joining the UAW

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:44:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So they want to wipe out the public schools (8+ / 0-)

    I suppose they are to be replaced by something more conducive to corporate profits.  Ken, you do realize what is going in the capitalist system, what has been going on for the past thirty years or so...

    "If there's a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet it's furthest from" -- Luke Skywalker, in Episode IV

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:28:26 AM PDT

    •  Yep, the entire concept of public schools is (0+ / 0-)

      … pretty high on their hit list of public-sector institutions they want to abolish.

      Heck, they figure it worked with the post office, complete with a constitutional amendment (necessary because the Post Office was one of the original four departments specified by name in the original Constitution).

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

      by lotlizard on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:49:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  not quite (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, JanL, Cassiodorus

        no departments were specified by name, although in Article I Section 8 Congress has the power to establish post offices and post roads.

        There were no cabinet departments per se.  There were four members of Washington's original cabinet in 1789.  These were Jefferson as Secretary of State, Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury, Knox as Secretary of War, and Randolph as Attorney General.  Franklin as Postmaster General joined the team somewhat later.

        The Postal Service is now a government corporation that is supposed to be self-sustaining.  It was far from the first such institution established.  For a long time it was protected by federal law that prevented package delivery companies from doing the equivalent of first class mail.  Now as USPS it actually cooperates with FedEx.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:17:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think they want to end the public schools (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard

        Rather, the public schools are slated to be reorganized so that they can be much better vessels for corporate profit than they are now.  Thus Duncan's obsession with charters.

        "For progress today really does mean simply the prevention and avoidance of total catastrophe." -Theodor Adorno

        by Cassiodorus on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:17:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sure some RW business folk would love a setup (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanL, Cassiodorus

          … such as the one private prisons operate under.

          Nominally keep public education as a sovereign function, but farm out day-to-day operations to a private company. "Classroom Instruction Corporation of America."

          The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

          by lotlizard on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:57:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Education needs an Ed. Secretary (7+ / 0-)

    who is committed to public education and public schools.

    NCLB needs to be exchanged for a new accountability system that is not based on a single test score.

    Teacher salaries need to reflect the importance of the profession and be commensurate with other professionals pay scales. (I've been saying the same thing since the early 70's.)

    Charter schools need to have the same accountability and oversight as public schools.

    Public money SHOULD NEVER be going to rinky dink companies who set up shop simply to take advantage of Supplemental Education Service tutoring services (SES).

    The reason we hold truth in such respect is because we have so little opportunity to get familiar with it. --Mark Twain

    by Desert Rose on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:30:33 AM PDT

    •  In my district... (0+ / 0-)

      public schools that are successful in raising student achievement, do receive less oversight.  The thinking is...if the children are learning, we are willing to empower the school and administrators akin to charter oversight.  

      On a macro-level, I've said it before.  If public schools were successful in educating the least of these, school reform would be seen as a naked ploy for control.  The only thing standing between public school and privitazation is student outcomes.  As charter schools make compelling economic cases via comparable costs and relatively greater student achievement, public schools become more vulnerable.  We can do better, period.  

  •  Arne Duncan is a fool (17+ / 0-)

    has always been a fool and will always be a fool. He ranks as Obama's worst Cabinet appointment, and anything which comes out of his mouth is foolish when it is anything to do with "Education."

    For years, I suffered under Superintendents of school districts where the head of the outfit had about 3 days of teaching experience, had NO idea what made for learning in a class of 30 comprehensively and randomly selected American students, and who therefore was an EXPERT at how to manage, fund, and lead educational institutions.

    Arne is of this honored tradition in American Education. His heart may be (we really don't know.. maybe he is more interesed in basketball) in the right place, but his mind is... limited. He is a Political Education Expert, not an Educator. Every utterance out of his mouth makes this clear.

    He is the education equivalent of General William Westmoreland, "We must destroy the village in order to save it." A real friggin genius.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:34:56 AM PDT

    •  I agree 100% (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, Albatross, LWelsch

      The reason we hold truth in such respect is because we have so little opportunity to get familiar with it. --Mark Twain

      by Desert Rose on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:38:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  but, but, but his heart is in the right place!! (9+ / 0-)

      So I have been told by someone whom I respect, including on education issues, who knows Duncan.

      And in fairness, his mother devoted herself professionally to educating children of the poor in the inner city.  

      Arne went to Lab School of Chicago.

      At least now his kids are in public schools in Arlington, but then consider this -  as a largely middle class community we spend around 23-24,000/student per year, so our schools are quite solid.   The national average is perhaps just over 1/3 of that.  Think it makes a difference?

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:46:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It amazes me... (9+ / 0-)

        How these people "at the top" simply cannot live by the words they preach. If my district spent 24K per student we could place every other student with an Ivy Leage Scholarship in their Junior Year. We do pretty well at $6500 per student, one of the "top" rated high schools in America, but come on. How conservatives like Arne think that LESS money will be BETTER for OTHER people's kids when MORE money is BETTER for THEIR kids seems to me the epitome of Louis the 16th Values. Got Monarchy, anyone?

        I am sure his mother is a saint, and certain that Arne holds sincere opinions, but the world is FILLED with foolishly held sincere opinions, as I am sure we both agree, Ken. I even have some myself. But then again, I am not Secretary of Education. Maybe I should be, but I am expecting a bit more, so my sense of fairness doesn't extend all the way to the positions held at the pleasure of the President. Barack should not be pleased.

        I am still waiting for an intelligent remark to be uttered by Arne in regards to Education in America. Its one of the big reasons I have become a bit soft on my support for Barack, I have to admit.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:14:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Arne Duncan should go! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, JanL, karmsy, Mostel26

    Those who most need an education in New Orleans are now living else where. So sad that he has eyes and cannot see the damage.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:44:19 AM PDT

  •  Thanks Ken! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, lotlizard, JanL, Dichro Gal

    it can't be stressed often enough that there is a very one-sided "debate" going on, to the exclusion of those most knowledgeable and those most affected by the outcome.

    I think that in general the media (and maybe most individuals in general) have a tendency to celebrate resilience and recovery when it comes to Katrina, and play down or ignore the harsh reality of lost lives and livelihoods and property. Is it ignorance? Or just indifference since the tragedy hit the the poor and voiceless the hardest?

    I'm so upset that it's hard to think straight. I'm glad you're on top of this!

    http://www.storyofstuff.com/ When it gets harder to love, love harder! - Van Jones

    by bluesheep on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:45:51 AM PDT

  •  perspective (7+ / 0-)

    I taught for 37 years in NYC Title I schools and have a strange take on the "failure" of our schools.  Many years ago, the Feds mandated a lot of stuff--special ed and comprehensive testing being the most pertinent to the "failure."

    First off--Good schools in good areas--mostly White and wealthy Asian--are not failing--regardless of the curriculum used or the teachers hired.  At the top, we are a success.  The "problem" is that we now test and mingle scores with "those" kids--the tired, poor, huddled, darker skinned, and handicapped.  We have always failed this group--to save money and to segregate.

    Education is the ultimate political football--all parents can be energized by fear-- and all teachers can be portrayed as "Muslim terrorists."  

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 06:55:33 AM PDT

    •  I agree with this... (0+ / 0-)

      First off--Good schools in good areas--mostly White and wealthy Asian--are not failing--regardless of the curriculum used or the teachers hired.  At the top, we are a success.  The "problem" is that we now test and mingle scores with "those" kids--the tired, poor, huddled, darker skinned, and handicapped.  We have always failed this group--to save money and to segregate.

      The achievement of "those kids" makes public schools vulnerable.  Unless and until this is addressed substantially and achievement increases, more Education, Inc. is inevitable.  But it will take a shift in the paradigm, not only of resources but a belief that these kids can actually achieve.  Good luck with the last part because thread after thread on this progressive blog does nothing but paint these kids as uneducable or unwilling to learn.  

      •  sorry (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger, akeitz, JanL, speak2me

        The children are educable--to a certain level.  Poor prenatal care and neglectful parenting have educational consequences.  I worked in a school that tried compensatory intervention--it worked up to a point.  As I saw it, even if we helped the child and the parent--the neighborhood--and the segregated larger society--worked against us.

        First we fix the locales--we integrate and spend money on instruction-- then we can examine the efficacy of the schools.  Teachers are not necessarily heroes, but almost all I encountered worked hard and felt for "their" kids.  The soldier is only as good as his weapon and the strategy in place.  Put great heroes in a compromised position and you wasted their blood.

        Apres Bush, le deluge.

        by melvynny on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:48:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmm... (0+ / 0-)

          The children are educable--to a certain level.  

          Sounding kinda bell-curv-ish to me.  Do you not see how this impacts actualy student achievement.  A self-fulfilling prophecy, no?

          •  no (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger, akeitz, JanL, princss6

            I was thinking about the handicapped kids--for example--I was forced to give a science lab test to 2 legally blind boys.  First question, read the thermometer--hello--they were blind.  There's a limit to what they can show on a test.

            Also, some of the 5 year old students I worked with could be called closet children--their parents thought the streets unsafe but didn't give them much attention at home.  I doubt they were not permanently educationally damaged.  Sounds politically incorrect--but is a sad truth.  Even if you don't buy into the Freud theory of maturation, you must admit the early years are very important.  This is a societal problem--complex, unpleasant, and years in the making.  It is the result of bigotry and greed--the children and their parents are the victims--but their blood stains us all.

            Apres Bush, le deluge.

            by melvynny on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:03:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're absolutely right, melvynny (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, melvynny, akeitz, JanL

              There's only so much we can do to overcome environmental deficits.

              I've got a 17 year old on my caseload right now who has been in foster care for the last 2 years. No one knew about her or her 5 siblings. They didn't go to school, they didn't go to the doctor, you name it. Also, she was abused in every way possible.

              She's coming for private speech-language services because she wants to learn how to read. But, we will never be able to make up for the environmental impacts she experienced from birth to age 15.

              •  Here's my problem... (0+ / 0-)

                I think that believing there is only so much we can do has had a very deleterious effect on minority children.  It just sends up red flags for me and in my opinion it is self-evident that minority children are intersecting with a system that holds foundational beliefs that there is no need to really expect achievement from these kids...because there is only so much that can be done.  

                Right or wrong, many in school reform are saying this notion has been applied to broadly and in particular to minority children for no other reason than an inherent belief in inferiority of these children.  Thus, the increased cry for accountability.  

                •  again (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger, JanL

                  I agree with what you say--except--to blind oneself from ugly reality doesn't help.  Again, the children are the victims, budgets and segregation are the villains--and the doctors (teachers) can only do so much.  The problem here is that the villains own the budget and are bigots.  This leads to "bad" numbers in prisons and hospitals--in  infant mortality and life expectancy.  We, on the left, fight the villains while the right gets funded by them.  As media gets taken over by Murdochs, and as Citizens United totally pollutes truth, the situation will get much worse.

                  We're gonna get bloodied streets again--Newark and Detroit will again make the headlines--the victims might be undereducated, but they are not stupid.  They will again rebel against "the man,"  politicians will proclaim blindness to the problem--who coulda known?  It happened in banking, it will happen here.  The cancer is obvious, but only gets attention when blood flows.

                  Apres Bush, le deluge.

                  by melvynny on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 09:47:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  There is more we can do (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger, melvynny, JanL, fhcec

                  We can do more AS A SOCIETY! A teacher should not be forced to be a one stop shop for food, medical care, after school babysitting, weekend phone hotline help, inappropriately long school day length, inappropriately long school year length, canned centrally planned curriculum, etc.  Society needs to put more effort and money into the non-school factors that are impeding the success of the students on the wrong end of the achievement gap.

                •  But it's not "minority children" (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  teacherken, JanL

                  and if you're fighting that battle, you've chosen the wrong one. Research, going back to the 1960s, shows that the most significant determinant of school failure is economic segregation, not racial or ethnic segregation.

                  The first, and most obvious, reason is that schools attended by mostly poor kids, regardless of race or ethnicity, get less funding than schools attended by kids of mixed or upper socio-economic status (SES). The schools with falling plaster, not enough textbooks, no lunch programs, etc. aren't in the suburbs or the more upscale neighborhoods in large cities.

                  Second, on average, wealthier parents themselves are better educated, place more emphasis on education, spend more time helping kids, and are more involved in school matters.

                  Third, kids with lower SES are more likely to be in foster care, have fetal alcohol syndrome, have nutritional deficits or go to school hungry, and have a narrower range of enhancing life experiences, whether it's a family vacation to the Grand Canyon (or even international travel) or exposure to a wider range of TV programming like cable or premium channels.

                  Charter schools take care of the first problem - physical environment. They deal with the second and third problems largely by not accepting anywhere near as many kids hampered by those problems. On average, they still aren't any better than public schools, which suggests that if they had to deal with the entire school age population rather than picking and choosing their students, charters would actually be significantly worse in terms of outcomes.

                  And you can come up with anecdotes of kids who overcame all of those obstacles to succeed, but the fact remains that over the entire population of low income kids, again without factoring in race or ethnicity - which is what average test scores would measure - most are not going to succeed. It makes no difference whether you hold their teachers accountable or make their schools for-profit institutions (which won't take most of them anyway) - you have to address the problems that inhibit their ability to learn. That's just not an issue of perception or expectations.

                  If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

                  by badger on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 09:57:10 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  yes (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    teacherken, badger, JanL, princss6

                    My only disagreement is that most instances of segregation are both economic and racial/ethnic.

                    Apres Bush, le deluge.

                    by melvynny on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 10:15:34 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  There isn't any question (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      fhcec

                      that race and ethnicity play a significant role in determining socio-economic status, and that white flight (both individual and corporate) has led to completely segregated urban school systems with high levels of poverty.

                      But putting impoverished black kids in the same classroom with impoverished white kids, as with most school busing in the 1970s before white flight, did nothing for the educational achievement of either group - and that was never really the goal. Efforts to avoid that intra-district were quashed by courts and local politicians and administrators; efforts to avoid that inter-district were killed by the Supreme Court.

                      We tend to ignore that even as far back as the 1960s, there were racially or ethnically non-white segregated school districts (both students and staff in some cases) with a significant proportion of economically successful parents where school performance was comparable to white schools at a similar economic level. Maybe not many, but enough to be statistically significant nationally.

                      I would agree, for example, that all poor racial or ethnic minorities will have troubles with educating their children. But a) not all of the poor are minorities but they all have a lot of the same problems because of poverty, b) not all minorities are poor, c) even though minorities are disproportionately poor.

                      If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

                      by badger on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 10:45:29 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Here are two studies... (0+ / 0-)

                        note the studies were conducted among suburban schools and interestingly, most minority children are not in inner cities schools as most minorities don't live in inner cities.

                        Here is the link

                        I found several points very interesting and they resonated with me.  I am tenacious when it comes to expectations as I see this as one huge impediment to student achievement even in areas that are not impoverished.  That is why as I said, a red flag always goes up for me when I hear it because I'm very sensitive to you.  I've no doubt that I would have never gone to college if it wasn't from me asking my mom to push back on my being placed in the lower-track and if I didn't have a librarian in 5th grade present herself and daughter as a role model for aspirations to college.  

                        •  From your cites (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JanL

                          White and Asian students came to school with more of the educational resources identified with higher academic status (e.g., books and computers) than their African-American and Hispanic peers.

                          Then they go on:

                          However, these resources boost achievement less among African-American and Hispanic students than among students of other ethnicities.

                          What's the cause of that (if in fact it's even true - no cite)? How would that relate to teacher performance or charter vs. public schools?

                          Effort: African-American and Hispanic students identified teacher encouragement as a motive for their effort and substantially indicated that this encouragement was more motivating than teacher demands, unlike white students, who cited demands more than their minority peers. But white students also indicated that teacher encouragement was an incentive for them to make an effort to achieve.

                          That's all self-reported, not measured, and proves very little. What's the quantitative difference implied by "cited demands more"? Is it significant?

                          Academic Behavior and Homework Completion Rates: By these measures whites and Asians appear more academically engaged and leave a greater impression of working harder and being more interested in their studies than their African-American and Hispanic peers.

                          Again, what's the cause of that? It certainly doesn't say that teacher accountability would cure that, or teachers are even responsible, or how charter schools would change that. You'd have to make a leap from the self-reported "effort" conclusion above, and then assume that teacher motivation was the most significant factor, by a long shot. That would be what's usually called "jumping to conclusions", or quite possibly "confirmation bias".

                          The second study quoted at that link is essentially all about social and cultural factors, and has very little to do with teacher performance or school structure.

                          Did you notice that neither of the studies was conducted by anyone with educational or educational psychology credentials? I did. One researcher was from the Kennedy School of Government, the other was an anthropologist.

                          Neither provides any pedagogical basis or remedies, or even any quantitative data in the article cited (maybe in the original studies?), and the methodology looks pretty squishy to me, especially when being used by someone who advocates more teacher accountability and presumably based on quantitative test results. I'd like to see more accountability for people publishing studies outside their area of expertise.

                          It might be a good political study, but seems to have very little to do with education and how to improve it. And none of it really seems to refute what I said in posts above. Unfortunately, actual education is more about psychology and science and experience than about political wishes or observations.

                          If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

                          by badger on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:19:23 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Whoa give me time to catch up, willya lol... (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm still working on your post above.  I did, however also hone into your first point, when I read the findings from the study.  I intepreted the first point to mean that while white and asian students have more access to books and computers in their homes, black and latino kids with the same level of outside resources don't see as big of a jump in achievement.  In other words, having books and computers at home for the blacks and latinos in this study didn't lead to a measurable achievement boost.  

                          •  Yeah, that's what the study says (0+ / 0-)

                            but the question then is why is that true and what are the implications for educational outcomes of both the effect and its cause? You can't fix things if all someone says is "it's broken!"

                            I hate to leave this hang, but I've really got to go and do other stuff I should have done a while ago.

                            I don't know your background, and I don't want to be patronizing, but if you're going to advocate and post about education, I think it would help to learn something about the technology. The best I can think of is to recommend a good book on educational psychology - the one I liked best is Psychology for Teaching by Guy LeFrancois. He's a Canadian academic, so he probably has little stake in teacher's unions or anything else you oppose. It's also an incredibly readable book (it's the "bear" book, if someone here is familiar with it).

                            It's available from amazon, but I wouldn't pay $108 for a new copy (geez - text books have really gone up astronomically). They have some used copies available.

                            And note that we live in society where I nearly have to apologize for suggesting you might want to learn more about something.

                            If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

                            by badger on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:47:56 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I've got nothing against unions... (0+ / 0-)

                            really, I just find them unnecessary for student achievement.  I know many will cite that states with unionized teachers have better educational outcomes.  I would be interested to know if there aren't other factors.  And certainly, as was mentioned on the townhall, nobody is disputing that public schools are doing a good job of educating certain kids.  The problem is the schools are failing horribly over a significant amount of time educating poor and minority children.  In far too many cases, unionized teachers are not producing better results than kids in non-unionized states.  That is my beef and quibble with unions.  And in my area the best outcomes are coming from non-unionized teachers, even though I live in a unionized state.  So while I'm not anti-union, I don't think they are necessary for educational attainment.  I wish it were different but it is what it is.  And I think unions have been the main force behind some of the most toxic memes against poor and minority children.  

                          •  to respond... (0+ / 0-)

                            How would that relate to teacher performance or charter vs. public schools?

                            It says to me that when teachers state that if only these kids had these resources, there is something else at work.  I have my theories and it relates to this point...

                            Academic Behavior and Homework Completion Rates: By these measures whites and Asians appear more academically engaged and leave a greater impression of working harder and being more interested in their studies than their African-American and Hispanic peers.

                            I think you if you pair these two together, it leads to the conclusion that when teachers perceive (not true) that whites and Asians are working harder and more interested, those students do better.  Self-fulfilling prophesy.  From what I've read here, teachers are saying that they aren't going to waste their time and kids they don't think are going to work hard or don't want to learn.  However this study is pointing out that this is a perception that teachers alone have and teachers alone can change.

                            It certainly doesn't say that teacher accountability would cure that, or teachers are even responsible, or how charter schools would change that.

                            I disagree.  I think accountability is aiming at removing some of this self-selection and self-fulfilling prophesies and fatalism.  If teachers don't have the option to subjectively conclude that a particular group of students or a student isn't meeting their very subjective standands, as the report recommends, then educational improvement will increase.  I believe it is about removing the subjectivity and biases that teachers hold that studies have shown do lead to an achievement gap.  

                            I was reading a study that said, gains in class achievement gaps have improved significantly while racial achievement gaps have seen little movement.  

                            The second study quoted at that link is essentially all about social and cultural factors, and has very little to do with teacher performance or school structure.

                            That's not what I read at all.  And maybe there were no pedagogical remedies because the problem doesn't lend itself to a pedogogical fix.  The problems as outlined in the article have to do with the "social and cultural factors" that teachers bring to bear in the classroom.  Pedagogy can't fix that, that calls for reflection and doing away with the belief that some kids can't or don't want to learn.

                          •  Once again (0+ / 0-)

                            I don't believe kids can't learn. But I do believe there are a lot of conditions that can prevent kids from learning, and obviously so do you.

                            What you have is a hypothesis, and on that basis alone, you're asking us to turn the entire educational system upside down. I can't prove your hypothesis wrong, but no amount of logic and reason will prove your hypothesis right.

                            If you'd want to advocate for a controlled, empirical study to test your hypotheses, I'd be all in favor of that. That's one way learning takes place. But just because you believe or conclude something doesn't carry enough weight to gut the public school system.

                            And no one else who agrees with you is in any stronger position. Will a charter school have teachers? What says they will behave any differently from teachers in a public school setting, especially since they'll be drawn from the same applicant pool public schools use? Let's go down the list.

                            Will a different building change their attitude toward minority students learning abilities? Probably not.

                            Are charter school advocates like Chris Whittle or Bill Gates, or the Walton family or the Koch brothers going to monitor for teacher attitudes, or even care about them? Only if it fattens their bottom line, and it probably won't.

                            Is more parental involvement and supervision going to change this? Yep, it probably will, but that doesn't require a charter school to happen, and won't happen if parents are no more engaged than they are with their current public school.

                            Will more testing and "accountability" change this? Probably not, because test results depend on a multitude of factors, only one being teacher attitudes or performance. But if that really worked, you could do it in public schools too.

                            So while what I'm saying is just as hypothetical as what you're saying, I don't think you've provided any reason to believe that a different kind of educational organizational approach is required to address your concerns.

                            Going back to the first sentence - it's quite possible to study and measure quantitatively what conditions enable or prevent learning. Those are a completely different set of things from what you might believe politically, anthropologically, or from whatever purely subjective point of view you're working from. A lot of those conditions have been studied and a lot is known about them (why I rec'd an ed psych book above). Some probably haven't been studied. But there is nothing in the charter school movement that is based on actual empirical data - it's all hypothetical.

                            The real answer probably lies somewhere outside of current practice and probably not in charter schools. If we want the real answer, and not just some ideological satisfaction, then we should study and develop methodologies based on actual evidence. In other words, reality-based instead of faith-based.

                            If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

                            by badger on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 02:12:54 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Let me be clear... (0+ / 0-)

                            I do believe that public schools can provide what I feel is missing very easily and without any increase in costs.  I've seen it in action.  I've seen the kids that public school would delegate to sub-standard education excel outside of public school.  The big difference, teacher expectations for their students and the fundamental belief that the more you pack in the more kids learn.  I'm sure these same teachers (and they have said as much to me) feel that some parents aren't as involved or engaged but over 30 years they have successfully educated low income minority students, year after year after year.  These teachers aren't unionized.  In my life experience the non-unionized teachers took me farther than my public school teachers; leading me to being two grades ahead of my suburban public school peers in reading, spelling and math.  Of course, that didn't stop the school from trying to track me into a lower less academically stringent track.  It didn't stop the school from just ignoring my IQ tests that qualified me for Enrichment.  In both cases, I had to be my own advocate and I'm talking Elementary school.  If I didn't have the wherewithal to ask my mother to push for me (not that my mother didn't care - but she had no foundation of knowledge), I would have been relegated to Business high school curriculum instead of the Honors track.  The placement I was given in fourth grade, fourth grade! set-off my path to college.  

                            Another thing, I know plenty of kids in my honors track that weren't that bright but studied hard.  I know plenty of kids who weren't in the honors track but studied way more than I did.  But unfortunately, they were relegated in a lower track and were never even seen as college material.  Out of all the kids in my high school, only five AAs were relegated to college prep, however many of my peers did aspire to go to college and more AAs out of the business track went on to college.  Were they as prepared for college as those put in the college prep track?  No but they got college degrees anyway.  What I share with you happens all over this country every day.

                            So unless teachers are willing to raise their expectation, no reform is going to work.  And what I see in charters and other non-public schools is that the teachers really do embrace high expectations.  The leader of the school sets out the mandate.  

                            Sure we can talk about other ways to change schools.  I'm all ears but to say that what I pointed out hasn't been tested is not correct.  Time and time again, study after study has listed teacher expectations as a significant factor in achievement.  

                            But I just can't pretend that all is right in Whoville.  That is faith-based.  The reality is there is too much unnecessary failure and yes, teachers play a larger role than they would like to admit.

                      •  Here is another good read... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        fhcec

                        Good preschools, smaller elementary school classes, a focus on reading, altering attitudes about intelligence, linking schools to their communities and paying attention to character-building — there's nothing pie-in-the-sky in this agenda. If these crib-to-college reforms shift the public conversation away from "you can't educate these kids" fatalism and toward investing in what's been shown to work, the biggest achievement gap may finally start to shrink.

                        Here

                        •  Didn't read the whole article (0+ / 0-)

                          but I wouldn't disagree with the quote, nor do I think most public school teachers would. "Character-building" is a little vague, especially considering some of the religious right-wing pressures on education, but if better defined I could probably agree with that too. Those are all things I'd advocate.

                          I would never say "you can't educate these kids". I would say, top to bottom pretty much, we live in a society that mostly doesn't value learning, knowledge or analytical thinking, and that makes kids a lot less willing to learn. That's particularly amazing because we're a species that's curious and wired to learn.

                          The relationship is "He/she teaches, I learn", and that requires good performance from both parties, but the "I learn" part is more important. Education isn't something somebody does to you - it's something you participate in and largely do to yourself. No amount of good teaching is ever going to get me to eat turnips, and we're going to have a poor educational system if our culture retains the same attitudes about learning that I have about turnips - like the attitudes some of us have about teachers or public schools.

                          If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

                          by badger on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:36:10 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  Sooo.. (0+ / 0-)

                    I guess you haven't seen any studies that show, irregardless of SES, minority students fare worse?

                    Watching Ed. Nation, so will have to come back for a larger response.  It really is a good townhall.

                    •  No, I haven't (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      JanL

                      But I wouldn't class SES as the only determinant, although I think it's probably the most significant determinant that can be treated in policy terms.

                      There are certainly other factors that I mentioned, like school funding and parental education, that have an effect. I wouldn't doubt that teacher discrimination is a factor, and I wouldn't doubt that some problems are made worse by minority status.

                      If you have access to studies like that, what factors do they say explain the disparities in minority educational outcomes? And how would charter schools or teacher accountability (assuming you could devise an accurate measure) address those factors in ways that couldn't be accomplished in the public school system?

                      If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

                      by badger on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 11:16:40 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  in most cases yes (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JanL

                        but in some cases, particularly in places in the Old Confederacy and in some places in the Southwest, plain old-fashion racism still plays a major role.

                        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                        by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 11:54:50 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I'd include some places in the midwest (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JanL

                          as well - Milwaukee and Chicago are as bad as the deep south in some respects, and school integration, housing patterns and employment were worse there in the 1990s (when I moved away) than in the 1960s.

                          If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

                          by badger on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 12:10:42 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  there's a ton of research to support (0+ / 0-)

                          the prevalence of racism, including the fact that majority white voters are disinclined to approve school funding if most of the students are of color in their districts.

                          Likewise, teachers talk college but fail to give students a realistic idea of what is needed and what is expected to be successful.

                          that information is not generally available except to those who've already been to college.

                          worse, the prison industrial complex depends for its success on the percentage of young african american and latino males that fail in school to make up its future population.. 4th grade percentages in CA are used to predict need for prison capacity some years down the line.

                •  Harlem's Children's Zone (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  princss6

                  puts the lie to these myths that whole groups of children will be forever outside the limits. HCZ is extremely effective, as was the HighScope Foundation Perry Preschool Project.

                  There are many other examples where caring, motivated, and energetic teachers have made a huge difference in the lives of children from all levels of society. Some of the most neglected are kids in white upper class suburbs with lots of advantages whose parents are too busy with their own pursuits to spend time with them.

                  Kids are not the problem if the thermometers are not accessible or if the school system sets up inaccessible tasks - not inaccessible because the kids are not working, but because no matter how motivated or intelligent, they could not access the learning with the tools provided. A blind child needs an accessible environment, as does a deaf/hard of hearing child, and so forth. It's not the children that uneducable. what if Stephen Hawking's teachers had said - oh, we can't teach him, he can't hold a pencil... . (and I am well aware that his illness came on later in life). But what if...

  •  As someone whose education writings (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, badger, bluesteel, JanL, karmsy

    often cross the line into the bombastic - you know us union types; we can get pretty worked up in defense of the profession - even I have some words and phrases that I consider off-limits.  I'd also never let a student get away with such an offensive analogy, but I guess it's okay when you're NBC News and there's ratings at stake.  Sheesh.

    The historian's one task is to tell the thing as it happened. -- Lucian of Samosata

    by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:14:05 AM PDT

  •  I don't know how to respond... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy

    Public school education is already post-apocalyptic for the poor and minorities.  Katrina has hit long ago.  I think the question is rhetorical if compared to the reality for too many children.  If that is new information to some, just WOW!

  •  how this for an SAT analogy (7+ / 0-)

    Duncan:education policy::Neocons:foreign policy

  •  Chronic problem in Hawaii. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy

    The Right (Repubs & "glib"ertarians) are always pushing the idea of vouchers, or failing that, abolishing state-wide control in favor of local control over school boards / budgets / districts.

    The unsatisfactory status quo is that everyone who's anyone tends to send their kid to a private school. Kamehameha if they've got some Hawaiian ancestry. Punahou (President Obama's alma mater). Or one of many parochial (church-run) schools.

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

    by lotlizard on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:35:23 AM PDT

  •  Another explanation for the title (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, JanL, karmsy

    Hyperbole has become such a staple of media that over-the-top headlines are viewed as the only way to break through and get people's attention--it certainly worked for your diary. Of course the idea that a natural disaster is the only way to change schools is shocking, but "shocking" has kind of become the norm, and blogs have certainly had a role in that.

    As for the underlying "reform" that is no doubt another story....all I know is that "60 Minutes" has a piece about how great the New Orleans schools are doing now compared to before, I do get the idea that they were probably in bad shape before, but I wonder how many kids are benefitting from the new schools or if the story just concentrated on a special "success story". Another way the headline could be interpreted is that an epic disaster is what it takes for us to pay attention to inner-schools...again, I don't know if that's the point or it's all about tear-it-down-and-start-over "reform" in the service of pushing privatization...

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:39:02 AM PDT

  •  If this came from a Bush appointee, i would be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, karmsy

    angry. Coming from Obama's admin, I'm speechless. At least she didn't say anything about discriminating against white farmers, so I'm guessing nothing more will come of this.

    Religion and science don't have to be hostile to each other, but we can stop setting them up on blind dates.

    by the fan man on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:41:29 AM PDT

  •  Just got through reading a book (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, sandblaster, JanL

    about improving math education in the U.S.. Returned it to the library already, but the author was Hiebert, I think. The book discussed math education in developed countries with better math and science literacy than our own--Germany and Japan--and then compared math education here.

    Among other things, Germany and Japan both emphasize teacher professional preparation, where successful lessons are  kept in a file for all math teachers and then taught again and again, with constant teacher review and feedback. Teachers in the U.S., except in rare, fortuitious circumstances, are basically isolated. When U.S. teachers retire, the professional knowledge they've acquired dissipates.

    Moving to more communal, collegial teacher prep is the kind of change  that is  going to improve education, but such change doesn't "take effect" immediately. It won't score anyone any political points. So will can't be found to implement it.

    •  allow me to remark on things international (9+ / 0-)
      1.  the collection of standards to be addressed are usually far smaller than what we impose in our standards documents.  Fewer things are examined in greater depth.  That is very true of math standards.
      1. allow a comparison with Finland.  It is competitive to be admitted to an teacher training program, which occurs only partway through college.  Upon completion, one undergoes a two-year induction process beginning with fairly close supervision and support, which decreases over time as one develops the appropriate toolkit of applicable skills.  Only after two years does one get one's own classroom.  The principal job of administrators is to support teachers.  Those undergoing induction are paid livable wages as they beome part of the teaching profession/core.  Their turnover of teaching staff is much less than hours.  Their wages are far more competitive with other kinds of work with equivalent educational backgrounds.  And their teacher workforce is 100% unionized.

        Now consider that some think we can give 5 weeks of training and only require  2-year commitment, a la TFA.  They argue unions are the problem.  Meanwhile we lose about half of our teachers in 5 years or so.  Many clearly should never have been tere, but certification is a cash cow for many colleges and universities, as is course work required for recertification, and they will fight like hell at losing that revenue stream.  Oh, and take a look at some of the schools that can certify -  would you really want a science teacher certified by Pat Robertson's Regent U or Falwell's Liberty?
        Now some of the universities are getting into the alternative certification game, because they see the revenue possibilities.

      I have said this before.   We need to totally rethink what we are doing with education.  The recruitment, training, and supervision of our teaching staff is clearly an issue, but the approaches we are taking now will not solve the problems we must address.

      We also have a far more serious problem -  schools are designed for the convenience of adults, not the effective learning of students.  The entire idea of cohorts moving in lockstep through a rigid curriculum does not address the needs of students needing more help and bores the hell out of students who can "get" it much more quickly.  It also ignores developmental differences not only between students, but in individual students in different domains, say being preternaturally gifted in arithmetic and other aspects of math but undeveloped as far as the use of language and the ability to read with accuracy and comprehension.

      NOTHING in what now passes for education "reform" seems willing to address these key issues  In fact, much of what has passed for reform has aggravated preexisting problems.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:55:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  to reinforce this, US teacher salaries (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        karmsy

        are quite a bit lower than those in OECD countries.

        as for policy makers having kids in public schools, not likely because most are too old to have school age kids. the baby boom population bulge pretty much ensures that.

  •  a main reason we don't have enough good (8+ / 0-)

    public schools is that we don't have enough good people.

    I know. That's an awful thing to say.

    But as someone who has worked for more than thirty years in secondary schools and community colleges that serve primarily people from lower socioeconomic brackets, I think I can speak with some authority.

    And by "not enough good people," I am not speaking of my students. I am speaking mainly of administrators and politicians and those who shape education in a terribly wasteful, often stupid, top-down manner. Their primary interest is in holding their positions, and their work is so distant from the classroom, that they hold their positions mainly through bureaucratic politics rather than through the success of students in the districts and schools they "serve." Education administration is mostly a bullshit profession, a costly one that diverts resources from the classroom.

    We need to eliminate as much administration as we can. Why? Because administrators are paid to go to meetings where they talk about what they would do if they were to do something. To tether them to the schools, unfortunately, they usually have some "sign-off" authority. I cannot tell you how many teacher-researched initiatives have languished on administrators' desks because they were sidetracked by other issues. Their separation from the classroom is so extreme that they can accurately be described as working in a parasitic industry--education administration--which impedes progress toward better education more than it helps.

    So we need to get rid of most of the layers of administration.

    And we need to empower good teachers--the ones who bust ass and spend an enormous amount of time and energy trying to help each student reach high expectations. We need to identify those teachers, pay them better, and have them mentor new teachers to instill in them the work habits and classroom management skills necessary for teachers to have in order for their students to succeed.

    And we need to identify the weak teachers--those whose classrooms are chaotic wastes of educational space--and help them be better teachers or counsel them out of education all together. I know that's a controversial position. And I know that it's tricky to implement such a policy--because we don't have enough "good people" to guarantee that petty politics wouldn't drive some decisions. Sure, all of us on a faculty know which teachers are teaching and which are not. But it's a painful thing to confront a colleague who is doing a poor job. And if not done right, it can be counterproductive. So we don't. But we need to find a way to do this.

    We need to develop more and better software to move students through the sequences of skills development--at their pace and with teachers present as facilitators, tutors, directors of progress.

    And we need to reconfigure curriculum so that content subjects are not taught in isolation and actually give students a broad base of knowledge and much practice in analytical writing. One reason we don't have enough "good people," not just in education but in other fields, is that an alarming majority of people lack the ability to separate fact from opinion. They know little to nothing about the scientific method. (You wouldn't believe how many students entering college don't understand that real scientists don't conduct experiments to prove something they've already decided is true.)

    This lack of critical/analytical ability is churning out more and people who really are "not good" at what they do. And this alone is contributing significantly to the decline of this country.  

    So public education, as Jefferson said, is vital. I'm glad to see people wrestling with ways to improve it--for ALL people, not just those in the "nicer 'hoods" but for the population I've worked with all these years--and that I came from.

    The key is this: empowering good teachers to create a school culture that has learning at its center.

    To do that, we need more "good people"
    in public education. To help that along, we need to shine a light on the ones who are there and let them take charge of the process of training new teachers, and we need "good people" in government and on boards to be willing to pare down unnecessary administrative levels.

    "There is no reason a Democrat has to be a weakling." - Alan Grayson

    by cassandraX on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:45:41 AM PDT

    •  This is a beautiful comment, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, cassandraX

      and obviously comes out of long experience. I appreciate that. Alas, we get know-nothings around here, spouting ideas for "educational reform" as if they were ultimate sources of wisdom.

    •  and now we can get to original idea of charters (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, sandblaster, JanL, masslib, cassandraX

      as proposed by Ray Budde and Al Shanker -  small, teacher-run schools freed from bureaucratic oversight to meet the needs of specific groups of students and also to serve as real-world educational laboratories.

      Instead we get chains of schools, some for profit some officially not but paying executives salaries as if they were, with cookie cutter programs imposed in all their buildings.

      For a very good insight into the problems with charter schools, I want to suggest a recent post by someone who is a registered member here, but rarely posts anymore, and that is Marion Brady, who was one of my panelists at the second Yearly Kos in Chicago.  I am linking to this piece by Marion  (and it has appeared on several different websites) because it provides real insight into what is wrong with charters as they have developed.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:59:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandraX

      blown away!  Very good comment and I agree with everything you've written.  

    •  It'd be interesting to see a graph of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandraX

      administrator to staff ratios vs. test scores.

      If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

      by badger on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 11:23:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  we have lots of good people who'd like to be (0+ / 0-)

      teachers but cannot tolerate the autonomy-trashing organizations known as schools.

      Somehow great teachers like teacherken, have learned to work their magic despite the counterproductive organization and lack of leadership.

  •  Does this need to happen in education? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fhcec, karmsy, chigh, princss6

    Katrina to these people meant that they were murdered by police.  Katrina also meant the displacement of a huge portion of the city which will never be allowed to return, oh and also killed in excess of 8K people.  I suppose because the people were not rich and white and northern the term Katrina doesn't have in holiness.  For example I doubt very seriously anyone would think that any institution "needs" a 911, but it seems to be frighteningly easy to equate Katrina to just about everything.  I think Obama has had 4 or 5 of them already, yet I haven't seen any pictures of bloated bodies floating up the street 7 days after a disaster as happened in Katrina.  I haven't seen anyone left in a hell hole of a convention center or super dome for an entire week, on a river as happened in Katrina, but maybe education could use that.

    "You can't form a line if you're too scared to stand alone"..The Ascended Master Stevie Wonder

    by Adept2u on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:48:57 AM PDT

  •  teaching as a form of civil disobedience (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, JanL, karmsy, princss6

    Yesterday when talking on the phone to a good friend, a historian, he said "everywhere you look the system is falling apart."

    Education is falling apart.

    The oligarchs who run the system are only interested in keeping their property and influence. The political parties are factions - only interested in keeping their power.

    The Vietnam War activist, Reverend William Sloan Coffin, once of Yale University, said in 2005 "I never thought I would live to see the day that old-fashioned journalism would be a form civil disobedience." From "The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of its Enemies since 9/11" By Ron Suskind, page 349.

    Hence the title of my comment.

    •  a couple of quick comments (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ivan, sandblaster, JanL
      1.  Google "Teaching as a Subversive Activity" by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner.  It is a classic work, and you will find a link for a PDF where you can download it for free.
      1.  Teachers in Britain did massive civil disobedience at one point, refusing to administer a set of tests, and had a certain amount of success in moving the discussion and the actions in a direction more positive for children
      1.  There are currently active discussion among a number of fairly significant teacher leaders about what kind of disobedience might be appropriate on behalf of our students.  I do not know what if anything will come of those discussions.  But that they exist is symptomatic of the point I made in a recent diary that teachers are angry.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:03:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can we get away from outmoded carrots & sticks (0+ / 0-)

        and move toward autonomy, mastery, and purpose in education, as Daniel Pink advises for business in this 15 minute TED conference video?

        Here's his dynamic white board talk for those who enjoy a dual presentation - words spoken, written and illustrated (10 minutes).

        It's not just schools that are being led astray. The carrots and sticks methodology is outmoded for the vast majority of problems we encounter that require self-motvated thinkers and problem solvers.

        I dare say if there were more of that emphasized in our schools, we'd have fewer unpracticed problem solvers engaged with groups like the tea party. They are acting with some autonomy, lots of purpose, but no mastery of the facts - no wonder they have so much energy that they've gone off the rails.

        As for education reform, teacherken, focusing on this approach might help create a paradigm shift, and actually yield some of the changes you want to see.

        I'd like to see your reaction to this approach, since you know school systems so much better than I do.

  •  Education reform the Milton Friedman way... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emal, JanL, karmsy, masslib, J Brunner Fan

    http://www.naomiklein.org/...

    These people are not our friends and have nothing in common with Progressive Values. This is the same shit that happened in Chile under Pinochet. The Shock Doctrine is now being applied to American citizens. It is gross and morally disgusting.

  •  As a researcher into the effects of oral language (6+ / 0-)

    on academic achievement, I've been looking over the speaker list for this 'town hall.' I find myself asking why there is no one present who researches oral language, English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL), or the language differences of children from low-income environments. Children with language impairments (but still educated in the regular classroom), children learning ESOL, and children from low-income environments have fundamentally different early life and educational experiences than your typical middle-income mainstream culture child. Did you know that children from low income environments hear 32 million fewer words than working-class children (Hart & Risley, 1995) or that 1st grade children from low-income environments know 1/2 the number of words as children from middle-/upper-income environments (Graves, White, Slater, 1990). Look at the dates on those research studies. Those of us who investigate the impact of oral language on academic achievement have known about these differences for well over 20 years.

    •  they have expanded the list (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sandblaster, JanL

      with those included on the panels.  I do not know, not having looked at all the lists, whether those deficiencies were addressed in who was included in the panels.

      I also know that some people they were urged to invite flat out turned them down, that others had conflicts.

      I also think today's Town Hall is totally insensitive -  it may be Noon on the East Coast, but as you go further west you encounter increasing conflicts with people attending religious services.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:05:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've been tracking the added speakers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, fhcec

        I've been pleased to see the addition of actual classroom teachers. That's a start. But, I haven't seen any prominent names from places like the Florida Center for Reading Research (started by Jeb Bush, but a phenomenal resource in spite of that) or any of the prominent child language researchers.

        I'm on the West Coast. I'm not religious but 9 am is too early for football for me on a Sun morning. It's too early for me to yell that loudly at the TV about education 'reform' too.

        Unfortunately, I've got to go to campus to meet with an undergrad and my doctoral student today anyway. I'm hopeful that I'll get home before dark this evening!

  •  Does education need a clean slate? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken

    Faced with state board of education mandates about "Thou shalt teach X" instead of mandates "Thou shalt produce children who can demonstrate education"...

    Well, yeah, I think the education universe needs to quit demanding a cookie-cutter experience, where the curriculum is so loaded down with mandatory topics that it's almost impossible to seriously take a tangent that interests the class.

    How many history teachers are slaves to the mandated list of things they must cover in a school year, and then don't have the elbow room to take a deeper look at the conditions that led to the rise of authoritarian germany of the 1930s to compare them to current events? And thus, a huge chance at bringing history to life and making a lifelong impact on that class is lost.

    How many science teachers are stuck grinding away at a list of theories and postulations that have to be tackled during the school year that they don't have flex time to spend on just exactly how science isn't like the bible, how science learns things through paying attention to the facts of the world and being able to make mistakes and grow and learn. These are life skills that reach beyond the beakers and bunsen burners, but the science teacher is stuck with just a mention of boyles law without bringing it to life by pointing out all the ways it will show up in everyday life for the students for the rest of their living days.

    Does education need a clean slate, an event that wipes all of the rote "Follow the canyon worn into the dirt by the passing of millions of feet" method that's been used for too long?

    I think so. The language may be offensive to some, but literal thinkers do things like think the bible is literal, and thinking that people are literally calling for the sort of conditions that happened during Katrina is flatly obtuse.

    •  what they are doing is not a clean slate (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, emal, slatsg, JanL

      it is certainly not going back to the beginning and rethinking what actually works and why.

      it is imposing pre-existing structures and ideas like charters, New Leaders for New Schools, Teach for America, and the like.

      Where is the real creative rethinking of education?

      Why are those who have demonstrated track records of success, including in inner city schools, like Deborah Meier and Dennis Littky, not included, instead of one more corporate exec or one more mayor or governor or NBC talking head?

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:21:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  inner city problems, (0+ / 0-)

    if the problem is caused by poverty and a lack of parental involvement, why not try something old and make it new. Public boarding schools built outside of the inner city allowing children of poverty to escape.

    "No man deserves to be praised for his goodness unless he has strength of character to be wicked." La Rochefoucald

    by Void Indigo on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:17:39 AM PDT

    •  why not instead rebuild the inner cities (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, emal, sandblaster, JanL, masslib

      so that we do not allow them to continue to decay?  Why not bring jobs there, put money into getting rid of lead paint, fixing up the schools, and even doing the things - which is far more than just additional pay - to get the really good teachers to do there?  Why not give appropriate resources, fix up the buildings so they do not function like prisons, and make a difference not only for the students but for the communities in which they live?

      Or are you prepared to abandon whole parts of our society?

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:23:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what of the kids while rebuilding? (0+ / 0-)

        Do you keep losing kids while the inner city is rebuilt or do you save the kids and then rebuild the inner city?

        "No man deserves to be praised for his goodness unless he has strength of character to be wicked." La Rochefoucald

        by Void Indigo on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:34:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think it is a good (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          teacherken, badger

          idea to remove children from their parents.  Too reminscent to what was done to NDNs.  It has been a form of cultural genocide as applied in this country.  There are programs now where inner city kids are sent to boarding schools but it is a choice.  Would we suggest that suburbans kids be removed from their homes, for whatever reason?

          •  here I strongly agree with you (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            princss6

            and given the power of your comment find no reason to respond to the comment which you just answered so well.

            What we do then is where we disagree, but on this we are in agreement.

            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

            by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 11:56:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Unless education improves in the (0+ / 0-)

        inner cities, none of the community conditions will improve.  So at some point, yes, we will need to bite the bullet and stop writing those kids off because they come from impoverished, non-middle class backgrounds.  10 years of intensive education intervention, hell 5 years would have a greater impact than any other factor.  

  •  Parents of kids in private schools... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, emal, akeitz, slatsg, sandblaster, ccasas

    Teacherken wrote this:

    "Last night I wondered:  how many of them have children in public schools?  I would be surprised if any of the corporate types or NBC figures do."

    I think this is a significant factor in the decisions being made. This summer, I had a long talk with the President of a research 1 state university, who cited this as a critical factor in the defunding of public education. He was speaking in the context of huge cuts to his school and the system in a blue state, but in particular he noted that tens of millions were given to a private law school (from state coffers) at the same time that the public law school was being defunded. A tuition increase for state schools was totally swept into the state budget (essentially, you could argue that public school kids had tuition increased and that money was then redirected as grants to private schools--and these weren't even research grants).

    When I went home after that cocktail party conversation, I looked up all the leaders from both parties for generations from my state, and they all had private college backgrounds.

    90% of American college students go to public schools, yet 100% of my state's leadership went to private schools.

    Mario Cuomo
    Andrew Cuomo
    Carl McCall
    David Paterson
    Eliot Spitzer
    Shelden Silver
    Joe Bruno
    Dean Spanos
    Kristin Gillibrand
    Chuck Schumer
    George Pataki
    Hilary Clinton
    etc. On and On...

    This sort of thing goes totally below the radar because normally I don't think the public school/private school divide is that important at the college level, but when you realize that the elites who make decisions have totally defunded public education--even while shoveling money to private schools--you have to wonder whether their own experience influences these decisions. The respected President of a research 1, AAU university seems to believe that this is precisely the case.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:27:16 AM PDT

    •  sorry but you are somewhat wrong (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, masslib

      Hillary Clinton went to a public high school in Illinois.  It was called Maine East.  

      As for Mario Cuomo, he attended Catholic schools, as was quite common for people of his background in his day, but was always a strong supporter of public schooling in general.

      Did not bother to check on any of others, but knew about H. Rodham Clinton.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 11:58:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  poster was talking about college level education (0+ / 0-)

        for those leaders - Sec of State attended a private women's college, IIRC, as well as a private law school.

        •  but that is not the issue under discussion here (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanL, masslib

          which is K-12 education.

          The difference between publicly funded and privately/religiously funded universities is not the subject under discussion at Education Nation, so that is irrelevant to this thread.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:34:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Right, but I am not turning this into a college (0+ / 0-)

            thing. I was only pointing out that the sentiment is similar for private school people when it comes to public education. I was pointing out that a President of a public university believes similarly about political elites and their private education choices. I wasn't discussing the state of Higher Ed in America today.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 04:13:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  One good thing: Doris Hicks (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, badger, JanL, fhcec, chigh

    Doris Hicks is amazing. She is no friend of the post-Katrina reforms in New Orleans. Operator of the only school to reopen in the lower ninth ward, MLK Charter existed before the storm. As part of the effort to depopulate the poor African American areas of the NOLA, the city has refused to open schools in these neighborhoods. Hicks reopened her school by mobilizing hundreds of community residents who literally overwhelmed 80 police officers sent to keep the school closed. These residents rebuilt the school themselves. This is an amazing untold story that reveals much of what is going on in New Orleans. Though President Obama used MLK as a backdrop for a visit to a New Orleans school this is an independent effort and it is a  true community institution strongly at odds with the Vallas/Duncan reform model. Hicks is a powerhouse and I expect she will be great on this panel.

    I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. Barbara Jordan

    by Lcohen on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 08:47:37 AM PDT

    •  let me be clear - I have nothing against charter (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, fhcec, masslib

      on the basis of principle.  I know some excellent charters.

      I watched the Teacher Town Hall.   Teachers from charters were overrepresented in those who spoke from the floor, and those who were seated with Brian Williams.  I suspect they were similarly overrepresented among those in the audience.

      They educate about 3% of the nation's school children.   They should not therefore be 30-40% of those participating in the discussion.

      That said, there are more ill-performing charter schools than there are better performing charter schools.  I heard too many people universalizing from their narrow experience.

      Were I to argue that because the high school in which I teach does very well -  we have received national recognition as a school and several of our teachers have also received national recognition - and therefore argue that all the high schools in our district are wonderful, I would be making the same error.  I don't, even as I know some terrific teachers even in our worst performing schools.  Often they lack the necessary leadership.

      But I am seeing some change.  One high school that was struggling has a new principal who is a graduate of our high school.  Another took our #2 administrator as their new principal.  I expect to see lots of positive things as a result.  Teachers cannot succeed as well without appropriate school leadership, and the relevant support from the community.  

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 12:03:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  teacherken, have you written about leadership? (0+ / 0-)

        I'd be interested to know your thoughts on that crucial element of school excellence.

        •  at times, but largely in passing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sandblaster, JanL

          I have not done a focused piece thereupon.  As close as I came is when I discussed my flirtation with New Leaders for New Schools in DC and why I pulled out.

          It is actually a subject which I have studied fairly rigorously when I was a doctoral student.

          And in general, I have written about Robert Greenleaf and his approach, Servant Leadership.  

          There are a lot of other good resources on leadership, some general, some specific to education.  Just in passing let me mention the work of Thomas Sergiovanni.

          I have my hands full with what I do write about, and given my passion on other subjects, including the environment, hunger, human rights etc., already have more than enough about which to write.

          however, since I think the appropriate model of charters would be the original intent of teacher-led schools -  with those teacher/leaders still staying rooted at least part-time in the classroom -  and since I know of several outstanding examples, starting with MacArthur-award winning genius (and my dear friend) Deborah Meier and including the likes of my fellow-member of Teachers Leaders Network Laurie Nazareno, perhaps if I have time to breathe I will do one or more pieces on leadership in school, with a real function on teacher leaders, and what they can do and should be doing.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 01:39:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I am with you Ken (0+ / 0-)

        I frequently point out the many district schools that have for years succeeded with the populations that the effective charters now garner so much praise for. After all even many Kipsters acknowledge that it was Deborah Meier and Central Park East that inspired them in the first place. That said Doris Hicks is a national treasure and I hope you get to meet her sometime. The story of the struggle over her school and that of the thousands of New Orleans students who are till not in school five years after the storm because there are not enough seats and charters cherry pick those students most likely to boost scores are some of the real stories of NOLA school "reform".

        I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. Barbara Jordan

        by Lcohen on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 08:15:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I get concerned when I see a bunch of uber (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, JanL

    rich white people claiming to really care about the plight of impoverished children of color. Can't help it. I just don't trust the noblesse oblige-i-ness of it one little bit.  Whenever I catch a whiff of it, I've learned to look for the power and money grab hidden behind the hubris and the smoke. And, I'm pretty damn sure that the ones who are going to have lost out the most when the smoke clears will be the impoverished children of color.


    Only this time, if they can take down the public school system, it won't ject be "them" this time, will it.

  •  Hi teacherken, What do you think of the (0+ / 0-)

    October 7 national day of action to defend public education?

    Wondering if you could do a dairy to publicize the
    same? Thanks.http://www.defendeducation.org/

    •  Don't know that I can commit (0+ / 0-)

      to anything to which I am not already committed.  I am getting burie with writing commitment.  I am sitting in a county-wide union meeting right now, something I wish I did not have to spend time on but to do the things I need to do within the union requires me to do this.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:02:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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