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Friday schools across Maryland were closed, so I went to the first show at Noon.  

On the way home I thought long and hard about what I would say.

No matter how I parse it, my reaction has two key points.

  1.  Davis Guggenheim feels guilty about not sending his kids to public schools, and the result is a film which basically trashes public schools, public school teachers, teachers unions, while unjustly glorifying Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, charters, Kipp, and union busting.
  1.  The film is intellectually dishonest, so much so it is laughable.

I will explain my reactions below the fold.

Guggenheim admits his sense of guilt.  He talks about his admiration for teachers.  He reminds us of his 1999 film "First Year" about dedicated teachers.  He shows us video of driving past four public schools to take his child to a PRIVATE school (note, NOT a charter school).  But we never are given any specifics.  We are not even told if any of those is the public school his child would have attended.  He uses his skill with films to have us infer that none of the four does a decent job of instructing kids, and that his child would have to attend one of them.  But we are given NO data to support such an inference.

The film focuses on children trying to get into charter schools via lotteries.  Yet at the end, in the text after all the emotion has been wrung out of the viewing audience, Guggenheim is at least honest enough to tell us that lotteries are not the answer.  If they are not, why not show us schools that are?  Why is not a single successful public school shown?  Might that undermine the propaganda that is being put out to manipulate the viewer in a particular direction?  Might that make the viewer less likely to text in support of the agenda that Guggenheim puts forth?

I said the film is intellectually dishonest.  I will not go through all the examples I could cite:  I do come to this "review" late, and many others have dissected the various problems with the film.

Let me cite several.  Jay Mathews advocates for KIPP on the basis of the raise in the percentiles on reading scores.  Yet that ignores a chunk of data.  First, those being tested do not include all those who entered KIPP schools - at least a portion of KIPP schools have an unfortunate tendency to "counsel out" students who would not score well.  Second, it is not yet clear that the gains in test scores that are reported persist further up the educational ladder when the students leave KIPP.  Finally, the independent study (by Mathematica) that Kipp likes to cite says only 10% of KIPP schools perform better than the public schools from which they draw.  That is actually a worse percentage than charter schools as a whole, as was seen in the CREDO study, where 17% of charter schools performed better but 37% performed worse.  

From Canada we constantly heard that the system was broken, and on the whole we were intended to draw the conclusion that public schools are not working.  Yet even Eric Hanushek is quoted in the film as saying something quite different:  that if we could replace the worst performing 5 to 10 % of teachers, our schools would be performing at the same level as Finland, the highest scoring nation in the world.  Finland, however, has a far lower rate of children in poverty than does the US, and that difference accounts for much of the difference in performance.   But Finland also has a 100% unionized teaching force, which seems relevant to mention if Finland is supposed to be the standard by which we judge our performance, especially when we are constantly bombarded with "facts" about how unions are the problem.

Consider -  we are given comparative statistics for lifting of licenses for doctors and lawyers versus only 1 in 2,500 Illinois teachers losing their teaching certificates.  But that totally ignores the large number of teachers who leave before they get tenure, many of whom are low performers.  Why go to the expense of legally lifting a certificate when the person is no longer teaching?  We lose almost half of teachers in the first 5 years.  If only 1/2 of those are substandard teachers, then the rate of substandard teachers leaving is higher than the 5-10% Hanushek says is necessary to replace, and not only 1 in 2,500.  And by the way, Hanushek never gives any evidence that the replacements would be any better.

That raises another interesting point.  By his own admission in the film, Geoffrey Canada was NOT even a satisfactory teacher his first two years.  He said he didn't begin to hit his stride until his 3rd year.  Elsewhere, but not in the film, Michelle Rhee has acknowledged that she was a horrible teacher her first year and half.  She came out of Teach for America.  Both of these people, offered as models for what we should be doing about education, demonstrate something very well known - that as a nation we do a poor job of preparing our teachers and inducting them - bringing them into the classroom.  Finland does so over several years with decreasing amounts of supervision and increasing levels of individual responsibility for the new teachers.  Finland offers a model which works.  Teach for America, by the words of Rhee and Canada, is not what we should depend upon.  And if we were to summarily fire 5-10% of teachers only to replace them with additional novices, there is no evidence this will improve student performance.

Let me also note what I consider the most disturbing image in the film.  It is used as a set-up to bash teachers.   We see a teacher peeling back skulls and pouring knowledge into the heads of students.  Later, as the words we hear are bashing unions and union rules, we again see the teacher pouring, only this time she - and it is a she - is pouring her "knowledge" onto the floor, somehow missing the open minds of the students.

This is a horrible model of education.  It may work for drill and kill to raise test scores.  It does not result in meaningful long-term learning or the development of an ability to continue learning independently.  It may not be intellectually dishonest, but it is a distorted understanding of teaching and learning.

What is intellectually dishonest is what the film says about tenure.  The film somewhat misrepresents the development of tenure in post-secondary institutions.  It is totally wrong when it describes tenure for public school teachers as a life-time guarantee of a job.  All tenure does is require due process according to contract rules mutually agreed to by unions and school boards.  Note the two parts to this:   due process, and mutually agreed to.  The portion of the film with Jason Kamrad is used to imply that it is almost impossible to dismiss a tenured teacher.  In fact it is not, rubber rooms not withstanding, if administrators follow the rules and document.  This is no more difficult that convicting criminal wrongdoers in the justice system when the police and the prosecution follow the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Petty dictators and inexperienced leaders might not like following the rules.  Michelle Rhee dismissed a batch of teachers ostensibly because the city could not afford them, but replaced some with people from Teach for America.   When she got caught she talked about a handful who rightfully should have been dismissed (although that could easily have been done under proper procedures) while implying that all of the dismissed teachers had similar problems.  That was not honest.

Her track record also is not as rosy as the film portrays, although on this I would refrain from accusing that portion of intellectual dishonesty, because the inconsistency of score performance became publicly apparent only after the film was in editing.  Still, questions had been raised about the performance at the time Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee were touting the scores as proof that their approach was working.

Perhaps the most intellectually dishonest portion of the film is the presentation of Geoffrey Canada.  Let me be clear:  I believe Canada is absolutely correct in providing what are known as wrap-around services, including medical and tutoring and family support.  What the film implies is that Canada is obtaining better results applying the same or similar resources, and somehow if others would take his approach, which includes his insistence on no union and the ability to fire any teacher, all would be well.

Let's try the reality.  As it happens, on this the New York Times has a recent piece that is quite appropriate, about which many have now commented.  Titled Lauded Harlem Schools Have Their Own Problems, the piece appeared on October 12.  In it we learn that the schools in Harlem Children's Village have per pupil expenditures of $16,000 in the classroom and thousands more outside the classroom.  The average class size in the Promise Academy High school is about 15, with two licensed teachers per class.  Stop right there, and think about the image of most urban schools:  how often do you see as few as 20 students per class? How rarely are there two adults to deal with what is often 30 or more students?  

Despite that, Canada's track record is spotty.  In the film we hear about the commitment he makes to the parents, which in the Times piece is framed as  "We start with children from birth and stay with them until they graduate."  Perhaps we should read about the first cohort of Promise Academy I, which opened in 2004:  

The school, which opened in 2004 in a gleaming new building on 125th Street, should have had a senior class by now, but the batch of students that started then, as sixth graders, was dismissed by the board en masse before reaching the ninth grade after it judged the students’ performance too weak to found a high school on. Mr. Canada called the dismissal "a tragedy."

Somehow dismissing an entire cohort does not bespeak a model that I would want to emulate.  Nor does it demonstrate that Mr. Canada is the sparkling example the movie would have you believe.  Allow me to quote what Walt Gardner posted about Promise Academy I in this blog at Education Week:  

Even now, most of its seventh graders are still behind. Only 15 percent passed the state's English test. Their failure to perform resulted in the firing of several teachers and the reassignment of others. Although 38 percent of children in third through sixth grade passed the English test under the state's new guidelines, their performance placed them in the lower half of charter schools in the city and below the city's overall passing rate of 42 percent.

As a piece of propaganda pushing a flawed vision of education, "Waiting for Superman" is brilliant - it manipulates emotions, it takes facts out of context, it misrepresents much of the data it uses and is less than accurate in its portrayal of key figures, most especially in its portrayal of Canada.

I have not yet cited the biggest example of its intellectual dishonesty.  That would be what is NOT in the film.  There is not a single example of a successful traditional public school, whether in troubled neighborhoods -  and they do exist - or in places like suburbs where many of our schools perform at levels as high as in any place in the world.  Instead it allows Canada to paint with a broad brush, saying "the system is broken" and implying that ALL of American education is failing.

It is not.  Even by the flawed measure of test scores, the current administration wants to target 5% of American schools.  Not all schools are dropout factories.

Too many are.  They are for the reasons they have often been -  they teach other people;'s children, the children of the poor, those of color, those who do not speak English at home.

It does not have to be this way.  

The film is wrong when it wants you to believe this is a new phenomenon.  There was no idyllic time in inner city schools, certainly not in the 1970s, which is again an impression the films wants to give you.  After all, it was because children of the poor were being systematically deprived of the right to an education that Lyndon Johnson pushed for and signed the first version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the mid 1960s.  That had not magically changed things within the next five to ten years.

At the end of the film the text that appears on the screen says we know what to do, then offers the usual bromides of so-called reformers of more accountability, more assessment, higher standards, and the like.  This has been the pattern at least since the Reagan administration.  If this were the correct path, why a quarter century after A Nation At Risk are we hearing the same things, only more so?

Let's be clear.  Raising the bar of 'standards' will do nothing to improve the educational performance of a child not achieving the current, apparently too-low standards.  It may in fact merely increase the number of drop-outs.

If Geoffrey Canada can, with foundation money, provide all those wonderful trips for his students, plus teacher-student ratios in the classroom of better than 1-8, perhaps we might consider what we need to do to provide for the students in our regular public schools, who are often at a classroom ratio of better than 30-1, who do not have foundation and hedge-funds paying for their field trips.  Canada has a spanking new building, modern, fully equipped.  Many of our young people are in buildings more than half a century old, with leaking roofs, with no doors on bathroom stalls, sometimes with no toilet paper unless they bring it themselves.  Just the difference in externals like this delivers a powerful message about which kids we really care about, and they know it.

If you knew nothing about American education except what you gleaned from watching "Waiting for Superman,"  you would have a totally distorted understanding both of the status of American public education and of what really makes a difference for young people.  That inevitably distorts the public discourse on this important national issue.  Of course, the intent of propaganda is to drive discussion in a pre-decided direction, whether or not that direction is either necessary or justified by the real facts on the ground.

The film is intellectually dishonest.  Most of those who know about education, especially those who know the reality of what has worked and can be scaled up, have increasingly been speaking out and writing against the glorification of the film, and the vision it pushes, and those it attempts to lionize.

And Davis Guggenheim?  He admits his sense of guilt.  On that he is at least partially honest.  What he has done in this film should not, however, allow him to feel as if he has expiated his sense of guilt, for this film has done real damage to the public discourse over education, and made it harder to get to the kinds of real reform necessary so that none of our children are left in failing schools.  I long for such a day that all experience fully the right, the opportunity to learn.  That will not happen by busting unions, propagating charters, all the while we ignore the increasing economic disparity, and the unfortunate reappearance of racism. Couple this with the attitude of some of an unwillingness to pay for public services for which they do not personally benefit and you will see an increase in the number of students who are not well served by our public schools - we will damage many that are currently working.

As bad as it may be now, things like "Waiting for Superman" merely make it harder to move towards the changes we truly need.  I fear that will be its legacy, and that would truly be tragic.

Originally posted to teacherken on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:04 PM PDT.

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  •  Consider this my tip jar (430+ / 0-)
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    and consider this diary my fulfilling my sense to this community, most of whom seem to value what I have to say on matters educational.  I have had more than a dozen people express to me their desire to see my reaction to the film.

    What I have written should not surprise anyone who has paid attention to what I have written in the past about education.  I have touched on many of these matters before, including some aspects of the film that I had seen in clips or had describe to me by others.

    Those who encounter this diary will react as they deem appropriate.  You may not agree with me.  I understand that.

    Please understand this much -  I know the data.  I know the studies.  I have been dealing with issues of educational reform since before I began my teacher training in 1994.  

    This is not just a visceral reaction, although at times I found myself outright disgusted with what I was seeing/hearing.  

    So so with it what you will.  I am comfortable with what I have written and posted.

    Peace.

    "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 05:01:48 PM PDT

    •  Familiarity is an understatement, ken. (51+ / 0-)

      Your previous writings are indeed marvelous, and this review is not surprising to me based upon them. I do have a question regarding your take on the current state of educational reform and its discourse.

      Were you to be offered the opportunity to direct a documentary with the intent of forwarding the discussion and progressing toward public education reform, what would be the key points you would film that contrast with those shown in Waiting For Superman?

      Thank you for you response, time and work.

      "Hew out of the mountain of despair A Stone of Hope." -Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      by Patch Adam on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:35:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  let me also add this (83+ / 0-)

      there were other things I could have gone after.  Why is Jonathan Alter even in the film?  What expertise does he have on education?  He is a big charter school supporter who on more than one occasion has bashed teachers unions and public schools.   I have had this discussion with him on the phone - we know one another slightly, and he overlapped with my wife on the Crimson at Harvard.

      I could have talked about how Jay Mathews is overly enamored with Kipp, about whom he has written a book.  Of course, he is not all bad, since he thinks highly fo me!!

      I have a friend who teaches at one of the charter schools featured in the film -  I would prefer not to be more specific, and remember, I have friends in education all over the country.  This friend feels the film does not fairly represent the school at which s/he teaches.

      And there are more problems with how information is selectively portrayed.  

      The film is a piece of propaganda.  I am not the first to say that.  It uses the children to work on our emotions, even as it acknowledges that lotteries are not a solution.  

      I knew enough about the film before I saw it to know I was going to be critical.  I tried to keep an open mind.  Too often I found myself responding to what I had just seen/heard with an audible "that's wrong" to the point where the woman five seats to my left in the largely empty theater began to shush me.

      So be 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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:08:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  it is now almost 2 AM (18+ / 0-)

      this is well past my usual bedtime.  I posted just after midnight because my sinuses were keeping me up.  I do not want to get too much off my normal rhythm so that I am fully functional for my students come Monday.

      I will catch up with additional comments in the morning when I get up.

      Peace.

      "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:53:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not much of a fan of yours, T-Ken, but (60+ / 0-)

      you sure enough nailed it on this!

      Kudos!

      At bottom the attack on public schools is about two things IMO:

      i) Busting the teachers' union ('cause you can't offshore those jobs), and
      ii) Reinforcing the creation of a hereditary elite, whose continuance is predicated on access to expensive private education -- while the rest of the plebs train in public schools for their future careers as burger flippers and toilet swabbers.

      A dark vision, and certainly not the America I grew up in.

      Here's another thing.  If children are the future, why aren't teachers better paid?  Money talks and bullshit walks.  People don't want to cough up the necessary scratch (through local property taxes), so they look for an imaginary magic bullet fix (charter schooling), that has the added fringe benefit of scapegoating the teachers that we have got.

      The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

      by magnetics on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:13:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You nailed it. (45+ / 0-)

        i) Busting the teachers' union ('cause you can't offshore those jobs)

        The union busting, the offshoring, and the unwillingness to cough up the bucks needed to provide quality education for children with high educational, social, and mental/emotional health needs -- are all symptoms of the prime motivational principle of the ruling class in this country: Anything that puts money in their pockets is good, anything that takes money from their pockets is bad.

        Public education was fine as long as we needed workers in this country to do their work for them, but now that the trade revolution has allowed the oligarchs to get all their work done by foreign brown people, who are ever so much more compliant and less demanding than Americans, public education has outlived its purpose. It's time . . . for it . . . to go.

        Until then, at least we can reduce the number of dollars that public education is sucking out of their pockets, by busting the unions. This has the added benefit of being one of the necessary steps to "repeal and replace" the public schools.

        "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

        by NWTerriD on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:38:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  One more kick to the nuts . . . (27+ / 0-)

          . . . of middle class America in the form of bashing unions. In today's America, the monied elite have figured out a way to prosper without a middle class with their troublesome "benefits, collective bargaining, fairness, job security, and families." Getting rid of teacher unions is just another way for the ruling class to grow the gap between the top and bottom.

          Above the clouds, what's to be found, I have to wonder - will I be around--Paul Weller

          by Above the Clouds on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:34:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The anti-teacher union (0+ / 0-)
            argument is such a joke. All we need to do is look at states with non-existent or very weak teacher unions, like, say, Mississippi or my own state, Texas. Are our educational systems coming out on top? Hell, no. So it must be something other than the dastardly unions.

            In Texas, it is not required for school districts to offer tenure. If there are any tenured teachers in the district for which I work (in special ed), I haven't heard about them. So tenure must not be the culprit, either.

            I find it outrageously scary that it is considered OK to blast the very foundations of public education. Let's not kid ourselves - many conservatives really do want to get rid of public schools. At the very least, they push for voucher systems which would essentially act as yet another tax break for rich people who are going to send their kids to private schools anyway.

        •   Money won't fix bad fix everything (2+ / 0-)
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          The Charter schools with money are not creating results so why would public schools fair better? There is more to this than money, it's school culture, teacher attitudes towards student ability, support for teachers who are too busy and over worked, and of course teaching methods. There is plenty to reform and charters are a great place for these experiments to take place. The great lesson of Finland is teacher autonomy. Give teachers the power to choose their own lessons and let them keep kids year after year until they graduate from primary school. We should also hold teachers accountable for child performance because the hard to teach kids are too easy to write off.

          •  It's more the parent's fault than the teachers. (4+ / 0-)

            I do not agree with the premise of this diary and believe that teachers should be held just as accountable as other professions for the products of their work, but the simple truth is that education is largely taken for granted in this country and the culture of failure lies largely on unmotivated or over worked parents who use school for free day-care and foist all the responsibility on the institutions and the teachers.

            The motivated parents are willing to try anything at their disposal to give their children an edge, the rest complain about the system while externalizing the cost and responsibility of on someone else.

            Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

            by James Kresnik on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:12:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Schools can't rely on parents (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ravenwind, princss6

              It takes a lot of time with kids to get great results. If your kid can't read in the 3rd grade it's gonna take more than a few hours to turn that around. The school has to take it upon itself to fix whatever walks through the door. Anything less will just perpetuate failure. Then schools won't be able to help those who need it most.

              •  No, schools *must* rely on parents. (8+ / 0-)

                It's time for parents to step up. If they can't get their kids fed, prepped ready for the teachers to teach them, then they obviously shouldn't have bothered having them in the first place.

                Having teachers taking responsibility for fixing the parent's failures guarantees mediocrity as resources for motivated as time, attention, and money is diverted away from educating and motivating students to poorly structured social welfare programs and it provides further disincentive for disengaged parents to carry their share of the load, which only exasperates all the other resource problems.

                I honestly think that one of the reason's that Charter Schools are so popular is that motivated parents can pull away from the legions of dysfunctional students that plague public schools. They feel like they are more in control over the schools educational priorities.

                Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

                by James Kresnik on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:47:33 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Okay, I'm going to have to break this off (0+ / 0-)

                  and go back to bed. Sorry.

                  Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

                  by James Kresnik on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:48:23 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  legions of dysfunctional students? (0+ / 0-)

                  why do you hate America?

                  It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

                  by sayitaintso on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:50:49 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  The President: (6+ / 0-)

                  I’ll give you all the education speeches I’ve given not just since I’ve been president but since I was a candidate, and I think what you’ll see is I’ve never been shy about talking about parents.  It remains absolutely true that you can have all the money in the world, you can have the fanciest classrooms in the world, the best computers in the world, nicest textbooks in the world, but you are not going to succeed if parents aren’t instilling in their child at a very early age –"We are going to set high standards for you.  I’m going to check that you do your homework.  I’m going to read to you until you get to the point where you’re reading on your own, and then I’m going to make sure that you’re reading books instead of watching TV and playing video games.  I’m going to constantly talk to your teacher.  I’m going to look at your report card and make sure that you are not settling for Cs when you could be getting As."   Without that, we’re not going to be high performers.  And frankly we have lost that sense of urgency in a lot of our schools.  And this is something that I will not shy away from talking about.  Sometimes when I talk about it, it’s made people uncomfortable.  My attitude is that if we know that’s what it takes to succeed, it would be a crime – I would be committing political malpractice-not to say the truth.  I know in my own life it’s only because I was pushed and prodded by my folks that I was able to succeed.

                  http://www.shabachministries.org/...

                  Here are some specific things that Michelle and I do: The girls don’t watch TV during the week.  Period.  They have a set bedtime. Sasha goes to bed at 8:30 and Malia goes to bed at 9:00 so that they are not tired when they are going to school.  When they come home from school, the first thing they do is their homework.  They don’t do anything else until they do their homework.  So if they get home at 3:30, 4:00, from that time until 6:30 at night, all they’re doing is homework; they have dinner with Michelle and me; and after we’re finished they go back and keep on doing homework until they’re finished with it.  We help them with their homework.  We expect them to ask questions if they don’t understand something.   Once they’re done with the homework, since they can’t watch TV they can read until they go to sleep.  I have not missed a parent-teacher conference since I’ve been president, and I didn’t miss a parent-teacher conference when I was a candidate for president.  And Michelle goes to all those activities.  We stay in constant contact with their teachers.  Very early on, we set expectations for Malia and Sasha in terms of them taking responsibility for their own education. When they were 4 years old, they got an alarm clock so they started walking up on their own, making their own beds.  They’re responsible for making sure they get to school on time.  I mean, we monitor them.  But they are expected to be prepared to learn when they go to school.  And the last thing I’ll say in terms of setting high expectations, Michelle and I read to them from the time they were babies and always encouraged them to think about education not as a chore or a burden but as a great privilege.  Malia will tell you, my attitude was if she came home with a B, that’s not good enough because there’s no reason why she can’t get an A.  So those are all things that any parent can do.  There’s no doubt that Michelle and I have more resources and privileges compared with a lot of parents.  We understand that.  But I don’t care how poor you are – you can turn off the television set during the week.

                  The rest of the interview is in the March issue of Essence.

                  •  That about says it (4+ / 0-)

                    When I went to grade school, you actually did have legions of "bad teachers" because back then (nearly 50 years ago) teaching was a patronage job in Chicago. If your brother worked at City Hall and you were an Irish Catholic spinster who for some reason didn't want to go into the convent, he got you a job at one the the "better" schools. We had a seventh grade science teacher who wouldn't have known science if it bit her. She was really a music/English teacher. But everyone in my class learned and went to college — colleges like Harvard and Brandeis and the University of Chicago. We feed a high school that produced National Merit scholars by the dozens. It was because our parents had an attitude like THAT.

                    About a decade later, when my old school could not have gotten any better because it had flipped racially from white to black in a heated, conflict-filled climate, a little girl named Michelle entered the same school. She did OK too. I hear she went to Princeton and Harvard Law School and married a pretty successful guy.

                    De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

                    by anastasia p on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:39:18 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  and malia and sasha do not attend public schools (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    James Kresnik, princss6

                    that is a part of their regimen the president doesn't mention.

                    maybe the teachers are blameless and the unions benign. but even if you pay attention and get them to bed and limit the tv you still have to send them to the classroom full of students whose parents do not do these things.

                    what parent wouldn't be attracted to the choice that charters offer? perhaps one who really wasn't interested in the process? the ones that most here feel are the root of the problem?

                    dk - el calor de la histeria

            •  What is accountability? (9+ / 0-)

              There is a lot of talk about making teacher accountable, as if we are not accountable for a host of things every day.  I will spare you the list.  The question is whether a teacher's effectiveness should be judged by the score each student gets on a single, annual standardized test.  

            •  My experience (7+ / 0-)

              I started teaching in 1963 and quit/retired in 2001.  I taught at every level--HeadStart, public high school and upper division/graduate level of a major university.

              The change in attitudes and expectations over that period of time has been immense.  Breathtaking, really.  Respect for teachers is no longer taught at home or supported in the community.  Teachers are seen as adversaries, or worse.  Both students and parents believe they are entitled.  The connection between work and accomplishment is gone.  Electronic diversions substitute for hobbies, music lessons, reading and simply going out to play.

              People who went through public schools don't support them for the next generation.  Our rural community is trying to pass a bond issue.  Our state rep and senator have helped us get a huge matching grant (or greater than matching) for a new high school.  The current one has leaking roofs, decayed rest rooms, inadequate wiring and so forth.

              Some of the LTEs in the local newspaper raise my blood pressure.  Many in the community believe the current school should be fixed for next to nothing.  Or with volunteer labor and donated materials!  Many studies show that repaires would cost more than building a new school.  Then we get those who accuse teachers or being incompetent or lazy.  People you know benefited from others' taxes paid to support schools when they were young, say they are being robbed to educate today's kids.

              No one can make it on what our schools pay our teachers.  Rural areas are not inexpensive to live in.  I think we are now down to the bottom of the entire USA in per student spending.

              To summarize, the problem with schools is societal, and I have seen the changes in my lifetime, as has teacherken, who is slightly younger than I am. There is no quick fix.

              I think back to Obama's campaign.  Spouse and I agree that his biggest applause line was his promise to improve education.  I have no confidence that he personally understands public education and its problems and the people he is relying on for advice are in the same boat or worse.

          •  So if money doesn't make education better, (7+ / 0-)

            why don't we just stop alloting any funds at all to public education, and demand that they do better anyway? Oh, I know -- it's because if we want the work to be done, we have to pay people to do it.

            Saying "money doesn't fix the problems" is just stupid. The problems have many causes, and many of them -- too many kids with too many needs that are addressed by too few teachers and other service providers -- can in fact be resolved by spending more money.

            If I have 4 classes per day of 24 students each, I can do a much better job of teaching them than if I have 5 classes per day of 32 students each. I can give each of them more individual attention, I can spend more time creating quality lesson plans, I can give them more feedback on what they are and are not doing right, I can do a myriad of other things that I simply do not have the time to do now, even though my average workday is about 12 hours.

            Last night my colleague and I spent our Friday night working together to plan lessons for the next week. We left a little after 10 PM. We weren't anywhere near finished. We will do the same thing next Friday night. This weekend I will be grading several hundred short assessments -- about 3 each for my three grade-level classes -- and then tomorrow I will be meeting with another colleague who co-teaches my English Language Learners inclusion class. I could easily spend another 30 hours per week doing additional things to improve my teaching, but that would require that I give up my current 5 hours of sleep per night, a sacrifice even I am not willing to make.

            Why don't you shut the fuck up about this issue until you have developed some minimal understanding of how public education actually works.

            "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

            by NWTerriD on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:04:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  NWTerriD, you are one of the heroes (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Daddy Bartholomew, NWTerriD

              You are so right. In this country, we judge everything by money, and what we spend money on is what we value. What we say shouldn't require money is stuff we don't value. Claiming better education isn't about more money is insulting' it's just saying we don't want to pay for it because we don't think it's worth anything. The Edtastics and others here who recite right-wing talking points about Evil Teachers over and over should try teaching for a week or two – if they could last that long.

              De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

              by anastasia p on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 07:07:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I shouldn't say this but . . . (26+ / 0-)

        I'm actually okay with my salary (<50K). It's the mount of money I have to spend out of my own pocket for supplies that frosts me.</p>

        $40 for locks the school would not provide (flammables cabinet, acid cabinet, inorganics cabinet)--basic safety.  Who would get thrown under the bus if some knucklehead (and there's always a knucklehead) got a hold of the NaOH pellets and started tossing them around?

        I finally got a case of paper after buying about five reams with my own money.  The principal makes snide comments about teachers loving their copies (like we're all running off word searches), but self-assessment rubrics and POGIL packets also require a copier.

        There is one copier for 60 teachers, so if I want to make copies I have to get to work two hours early.

        I have no access to a printer at work, so if I want to print out student progress reports I have to do so at home at my own expense.

        I have such small quantities of reagents, I can only do demos.

        I have no student computers in my classroom.  There are no computer labs, only about 16 functional computers in the library for a school with 1100 students.

        A few years ago, somebody got the bright idea that instead of computer labs, the schools would have laptop carts, except they never got around to installing a wireless network, so students can't even log on to work offline.  The carts sit unused, locked up in a room.

        I could go on and on but I have to start about six hours worth of grading.

        My union wants us to go to a screening tomorrow, but I don't know if I can stomach it.  Besides, working a 60 hour week doesn't leave much time for chores, and laundry does have to get done.  Dishes do have to get washed. I've decided to just let the yard go to hell.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:02:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think that racism (18+ / 0-)

        is a bigger part of this than people might think.

        Of all the hated people who came into the South after the Civil War, the most loathed by the White Southerners were the Yankee teachers. These teachers moved to the South with the deliberate intention of educating black children who had been born into slavery and had been freed by law. The Klan in particular was vicious towards these teachers. Think about it. A few years before, teaching literacy to black slaves was illegal. Now they were setting up SCHOOLS for them. Filling their heads full of IDEAS. Teaching them that they were EQUAL to white people, and worse, that they were ENTITLED to what white people had.

        Teachers today seem to get the same reaction from the far Right, as the teachers of the newly freed slaves got. The very concept of public school is being questioned by those on the fringe  right as something suspiciously anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-capitalist.

        There is an agenda to see that public schools fail. This agenda has been around at least since de-segregation. The Religious Right, who can't bear the thought of secular teaching that they can't control or micro-manage, want public schools to fail. The Charter and Private schools, who make a profit off of parent's fears, need public schools to fail, and keep failing, so they can sell their product as the solution. Racists who want their kids at a school that can legally exclude students they don't like, want public schools to fail. The elite have no particular interest in a well-educated work force. That turns them no profit, and it might cause them trouble.

        Do not believe that everyone wants the public schools to do well, and that some people are just misguided. I think there is a real march underway to make public schools a thing of the past. On the fringes you will hear things about putting children in the workforce. They talk wistfully of the days of long apprenticeships, where children learned a trade from a master and did not waste their time with things that did not have to do with work. There are people who think school is a waste of time for poor and minority kids, and that the sooner they are put on the assembly line, the better off we'll all be.

        "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

        by Reepicheep on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:31:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't buy the conspiracy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Reepicheep

          Our teachers and administrators are not racist out to deprive young people of a future. People are complaining about failure not ignoring it. If they wanted to see these kids fail they would just blame the parents and leave the system just the way it is.

          •  The right has been against (18+ / 0-)

            public schools (or "government" schools as they call them) for years. They frighten their flock with stories about terrible kids who will corrupt the nice Christian kids with drugs, violence,gang activity, fornication and homosexuality. The public school is a godless place where they teach "tolerance" "diversity" and evolution. Since a majority of their believers don't make the kind of paycheck that allows for religious schooling (and the only option may be Catholic, and born-agains don't like Catholics, either) they tell them to home-school their children. Lately the right has moved past the godless public schools, to the Universities. The Universities are filled with godless, anti-american liberal professors, who will "indoctrinate" your kids into liberal thinking.

            The only agenda the Right has had regarding schools for the last 30 years is making it okay for teachers to lead kids in formal prayer at school, demonizing the teachers' union, and making sure sex education doesn't educate kids about sex. That's it. Oh yes, and rolling back Title IX. They don't want to fund the school lunch program, and they'd like to make it so that parents who send their kids to private school don't have to pay taxes for public schools. They set up a punitive test system so that parents can get letters every year telling them that their schools "failed" the test. Private schools are not obligated to participate in the test.

            I'm not saying the majority of Americans want the schools to fail. But there is a vocal and pretty lunatic minority that would love to see compulsary public schooling gone, and replaced with a privatized, capitalist system available only for those who can afford it.

            It isn't a secret conspiracy, it is right out in the open: The Schools Suck. The Teachers Suck. Is it any wonder that schools are under-funded and teachers under-paid?

            "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

            by Reepicheep on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 11:50:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  the goal of fail (12+ / 0-)

            is not about the students it's about privatization. It's about making a profit off the education system. The stated goals of education are to make us as a economic power competitive. This is not what education is, education is not just to crank out people who do well on tests for jobs that are long gone to places where the workers do not cut into their profit.    

          •  This hasn't happened? (0+ / 0-)

            If they wanted to see these kids fail they would just blame the parents and leave the system just the way it is.

            From my perspective, this is EXACTLY what has happened prior to school reform.  That is what I think most on this blog do not understand.  It isn't that minority parents that support school reform are naieve to the Republican motives.  They aren't.  They aren't switching to Republicanism, yet.  But they also understand that blind neglect and cultural racism from the system as it stands is no different and/or better than what the Republicans and their allies in the Democratic party are proposing.  But just maybe, a parents says, my school won't be set up for failure by the status quo even though others have motives.  Want to stop charters, "union-busting", school vouchers, then look internally and raise the achievement of poor and minority students, no excuses.  Agitate and lobby for that cause, but I'm sorry, I see too may people in their cozy nooks with their kids getting decent education unwilling to take up the mantle of educational justice.  The result is more school reform, school choice, etc.  The writing is on the wall.

            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

            by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 08:10:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Hmm... (0+ / 0-)

          So you don't think that only the racism on the Right is the only thing that has allowed our schools to fail?  

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 08:21:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for the clarity and accuracy (15+ / 0-)

      of your critique - everyone's an education expert, it seems, just because they've all gone to school. But not many actually know the facts and are able to put them together like you do.

      From one educator to another, great job and I hope it opens some eyes...

      "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." -Muriel Rukeyser

      by tubacat on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:27:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Meg Whitman loves "Waiting for Superman" (17+ / 0-)

      Meg Whitman promotes ‘Waiting For Superman’ documentary

      This alone mad me reluctant to buy tickets.  

      Now you teacher.

      Dailykos.com; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action -1.75 -7.23

      by Shockwave on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:04:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Will you be cross-posting this piece... (8+ / 0-)

      ...to your column on Huffington Post Education?

      Please do, so that we can recommend and retweet it again there. We need to back up the pro-public-education voices over there, because it seems like Ariana Huffington is only promoting anti-education, pro-"reform" voices.

      What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

      by mistersite on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:33:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no - too long - (7+ / 0-)

        they want pieces to be 700-1000 words.  I would have to do an abridged version and do not have the time.  

        I have a piece pending, and another one rattling around my head.

        This has been crossposted on some educational blogs.  And if you look up at the share features here, it is getting widely distributed.  I have already received almost a dozen direct communications about it via email, only one of which attacked me -  but then that is a guy who lacks the guts to come and post his trash here.  The others were highly complimentary, several from people I greatly respect.

        "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:27:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you Ken (10+ / 0-)

      I will see the film but I can't bring myself to do so yet. For about 10 hours a day I battle a system led by one of the Manifesto signatories. I will tell you, however, the blatant and dishonest attack is obvious to many in the public. A group of parents and community members in Rockford, IL this last week launched a website and petition in support of public schools and teachers. It can be found at educationunited.net.educationunited.net Just as the arrogant power brokers may have arrogantly overreached in the election cycle, let's hope that this film and the other bizzare events in edcuation reform represent a similar miscalculation by those who are the enemies of public education.

      If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living. - Gail Sheehy

      by itisuptous on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:57:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  wow. masterful takedown. (14+ / 0-)

      My older daughter (22, whose goal is to work with teens from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds) works in D.C. and has many friends in D.C.   She has been trying to convince us that Rhee is far from perfect and screwed up in many ways.  She also has been complaining about anti-teacher-union views.
      Unfortunately, because of the general mess the D.C. school system has been for so long (e.g., no textbooks for months into the school year), Rhee did look like a savior.  And because of the corruption in the leadership of the D.C. Teachers Union, they were a target worth attacking.  
      We've been arguing with our daughter for the last month.  After reading your diary, I now believe she's been right all along.  I'm printing this diary out for her (and for my husband).  
      Thanks for the careful analysis.

      If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

      by Tamar on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:59:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What does ant- union do the kids? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        James Kresnik, princss6

        Seriously I don't think the grown ups here are interested in the kids, just job security and increased wages. They attack anything they perceive as anti-union and the public can see right through the game plan.

        •  I think that is a cheap shot (18+ / 0-)

          I didn't want to leave edtastic's comment out here hanging.  I emphatically believe that folks like Kenteacher and other regulars to his diaries care deeply about children and know that making teachers the enemy puts a barrier between teachers and kids that prevents effective education.

          Workers that are treated well are workers who can be at their best.  Workers who are treated like crap regardless of their individual accomplishments cannot be at their best and worst of all are chased from the company or in this case school so that only those who cannot find other employment remain.

          •  ^This. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            edtastic, princss6, m00finsan

            Education debates largely consist of one set of stakeholders attempting to foist any and all responsibilities on another set of stakeholders, and this applies to teachers as well.

            Grade school teachers should not have tenure or stray far from standard curriculum. However, like any other degree profession, they should expect solid and high pay and benefits, accurate, credible performance assessments and a professional, productive work environment.

            Every politician in America is sounding like that mayor in Jaws. -global citizen

            by James Kresnik on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:19:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  But... (0+ / 0-)

            prior to "teachers being the enemy" as you say, was the kids learning?

            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

            by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:31:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think Union teachers are treated great (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            princss6

            They were not treated well when we simply applaud their efforts and failure continues. They were still overworked and coming out of pocket for supplies in schools with ever shrinking budgets. The union insured job security, a living wage and benefits but that is about it. That is what the union is good for. The point is we can thank teachers all day and it won't improve things for them or the kids.

            It won't result in high pay, and it won't get the public to focus on schools. People will provide lip service and move on, I would rather everyone be engaged in a debate on reform and look at everyone involved in the education process. At least then people will really look at the plight of our teachers when considering how to evaluate them and weed out the small minority of truly bad ones.

        •  another right wing talking point (13+ / 0-)

          since I'm married to a union teacher, I can assure you that teachers spends hours and hours discussing ways to improve their teaching and spend hours in classrooms and meetings discussing ways to reach the most difficult kids. Teachers dislike "bad teachers" as much as anyone. Nobody wants the kids of bad teachers because that makes their job that much harder. Teachers get evaluated at least every other year by their principal. An unsatisfactory evaluation leads to corrective action from retraining to dismissal. New teachers have a 2 year probationary period and can be dismissed for any reason during that period. about 1/2 those choosing teaching as a career drop out within 5 years. Many of those are because they realize they really aren't cut out to be teachers. This "blame the teachers" garbage from the Obama apologist is totally unwarranted. Teachers unions have done more to improve education in this country than Arne Duncan, Obama, Oprah, Bill Maher and Bill gates combined ever will.  

          It is impossible to introduce into society a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." Frederic Bastiat

          by california keefer on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:34:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  When will (5+ / 0-)

      we get the liberal film responding to this film...  The one that emphasizes that our school teach everyone and that attends to the socio-economic conditions OUTSIDE the schools that teachers must contend with?  There was a great piece in The Nation a couple weeks ago outlining the problems with this this film.  Public school educators need to work together to produce better PR in this ideological battle.

      •  You must mean a PRO UNION film (6+ / 0-)

        This is not liberal vs conservative, it's 100% pro union vs people who are willing to question the union. It seems the Union supporters can't take criticism, and teachers think they are the most perfect altruistic people on the planet from the comments here. They act like they never got some kid in their class who was failed by the teacher before them. If they have not they just were not paying attention or in a place where failure is rare.

        •  This is not Liberal vs Conservative. (5+ / 0-)

          Vouchers and Charters give poor people the POWER to choose where tax dollars go. They can choose which school their kids attend.

          When poor people are hungry, we give them Vouchers to buy food. We call them "food stamps". No Progressive is against this program.

          No true Progressive is against empowering the poor to choose how their kids will be educated. Only those with vested interests in the status quo.

          •  Why not allow everyone to choose (11+ / 0-)

            where their tax dollars go?

            I think I would like to withhold all funding for the military and prisons. Instead, I would like those tax dollars to go toward funding of public schools and the state park that is a few miles from my home.

            •  Because people will make dumb decisions. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              princss6

              But with schooling, there is good reason to believe that the parent will make the best decision for their child.

              I am not a free-market Ayn Rand sort. I just think that, in educational matters, parents can do a better job of picking the right school for their particular kid than anyone else.

              And when kids match up with the right schools, everyone in the USA wins.

              •  That is just so unrealistic and untrue!! (10+ / 0-)

                Parents are not the most capable of choosing the right school for their kids because they don't look at their kids with a clear eye. I don't know a single parent who doesn't think their child is smart, capable and intelligent. They don't measure, it is not their job to measure and to judge. It is a parents job to teach a child morals, decent behavior, respect for others and to make choices. Parents are not good teachers in most up to date math, science, reading etc.... I had four children: two went to public school, one went to a military school in high school and the other went to a parochial school 12 years. Each was distinct in personality and need. And, I was fortunate to have professional guidance from public school teachers, psychologists etc.. As a college graduate, I listened and took advantage of that community knowledge to help my children.

                •  Many parents lack an educational (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Daddy Bartholomew, princss6

                  background that would inform their decisions for their children.

                •  Good luck with that... (0+ / 0-)

                  intelligent. They don't measure, it is not their job to measure and to judge. It is a parents job to teach a child morals, decent behavior, respect for others and to make choices. Parents are not good teachers in most up to date math, science, reading etc.

                  I agree but on this blog the common wisdom is that parents are supposed to be quasi-teachers.  This is evidenced by the belief that unless a kid is reading by kindergarten, what is a teacher supposed to do?  Yes, that has been said and recommended on this blog.  Other common wisdom, kids that fail, have parents that don't care.  Try pushing back on that meme, around here, good luck!

                  the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                  by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 09:15:19 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  then you would not have a democracy (10+ / 0-)

              we already have this in some communities.  When all the whites pulled kids out of schools in some southern communities after Brown v Board finally began to get implemented, funny isn't it that the taxes collected dropped precipitously.

              There are certain things that are considered common goods/services of the society.  All should pay through taxes, whether or not they DIRECTLY use them.  Otherwise you get firemen standing by as a house burns down because the owner has not made a contribution to their organization.

              "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:09:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  In Florida (0+ / 0-)

                a lien of $800/response is placed on the property if the annual contribution isn't made.

                About 48% don't pay the annual contribution in my area since the odds of a house fire are very small and a big brush fire modest, but others like me pay because the department is well-run and is a respected charity and because the county fire department taxes would generally be more.

              •  Pretty sure that was a sarcastic response to a (0+ / 0-)

                couple of - let's be charitable and call them "ill-advised" posts.

                I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                by Daddy Bartholomew on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:15:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  No the firemen stood by.... (0+ / 0-)

                because they weren't insured to go racing into a fire.  Just as you don't want teachers to be sacrifical lambs, why would you demand that other public servants do so.  

                the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 09:16:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly! (3+ / 0-)

              And if our education money is divvied up into packets, then I should get a refund. I understand why I pay money to create schools everyone can use, although I have no children. I don't understand why someone is handed a voucher to use as they choose unless I get a refund.

              De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

              by anastasia p on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:50:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Ah — the "packet of money" argument — (4+ / 0-)

            that each parents has a little purse of education money and gets to choose where they spent it. Problem: there are no silo'd packets of money: the money is pooled to create a resource that anyone has access to. Once you start talking about packets of money and vouches, then why don't I, as a person without children, simply get a refund check every year for the same amount to "choose' to spend as I like? I am not paying what are sky-high school taxes here in order to hand somebody a welfare voucher. We have perfectly decent schools we have all paid for.

            Food is different. If there were public dining halls, then food cards might be a problem. And we DO more or less condemn that as "welfare" for the poorest to survive

            De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

            by anastasia p on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:49:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, I am (8+ / 0-)

          a supporter of unions and no, I don't believe that unions are the primary source of our education problems.  I just love hearing alleged democrats attack labor in this country.  All unionizations means is that there is a process a school must go through to hire a teacher.  Oh the horror.  Are teachers perfect?  No, but their voices have almost entirely been cut out of the reform discussion.  Instead we get Randian BS like you're talking about, where the premise isnthat the best way to run everything is like a business.  And full disclosure I am neither a high school teacher nor union.  Here's an idea:  give those who have the greatest knowledge and experience with education a significant voice in the reform process.  Yes, I know that it's a scandal to suggest that the most qualified should design things.  Oh the horror!

        •  Additionally your (8+ / 0-)

          premise seems to be that the quality of the teachers is the problem.  Like any other occupation, the vast majority of teachers are competent to excellent.  What you entirely ignore is the role of economics, local social conditions,parenting, classroom sizes, and school resources.  But you guys don't want to raise these issues because they involve difficult fiscal and social justice questions.  Instead you just choose to punch teachers and ignore any discussion of true causation and social inequity.

          •  Teacher quality is also not (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Philoguy, cassidy3, princss6

            a frozen attribute. I work at a very low SES school that (until this year) underperformed on state standards. I honestly cannot point to any "bad" teachers at my school. What we do have is wonderful leadership from the principal and AP. Teacher quality at my school is affected by a couple of factors:

            1. The principal knows how to spot talent and hires promising or proven candidates.
            1. Some teachers struggle - I've seen this in brand-new teachers as well as seasoned teachers who have moved to a new grade level or are facing new classroom challenges (behavior or whatever). Are these teachers left to flounder, and the students to suffer? Absolutely not. Our district has "mentor teachers" who can immediately step in to work with struggling teachers. The changes I have seen have been truly amazing. Just to cite one example - there was a teacher fresh out of school who wanted 4th grade, but there was only a Kinder position open. At the beginning of the year she was kind of lost - trouble with classroom management; not showing the kind of enthusiasm you'd expect for someone working with 5-year-olds. After a mentor teacher started working with her, she caught on really quickly and made huge changes. The next year, she not only loved Kinder; she was chosen to be the team lead for that grade. If I had a child entering Kinder, I would not hesitate to request that he or she be placed in this teacher's class.

            Teaching is just like most other professions - you need on-the-job help and training. Luckily, my school is willing to invest in this. I'm not sure why conservatives think that scolding teachers rather than providing them the resources they need to keep improving their skills is in any way beneficial for our kids.

      •  such films already exist (17+ / 0-)

        but they do not get pushed by Time Magazine and NBC.

        BTW -  for all the publicity on this film, it is actually not drawing that much traffic.  Granted, I went in the middle of a work day, but there were only about 10 people in the theater.  A friend of mine went in the evening and there were only a half dozen in his theater.

        If you want to know about other films, Rethinking Schools has set up a website, Not Waiting For Superman, and if you look down on the lower left, you will see alternative films listed.

        "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:30:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Can I offer a bit of good news? (15+ / 0-)

      My research interests include decreasing the achievement gap between children from low-income environments and their higher income peers.

      Most recently, I've become interested in the links between math, literacy, and oral language (beyond strictly vocab) in the early grades in this population.

      Yesterday, we finished the statistical analyses for a manuscript I hope to have submitted to a peer-reviewed journal by the end of the year. For kids from low-income environments, it appears that their ability to form grammatical sentences in Standard American English is the best predictor of their math knowledge at the end of kindergarten. This one task explained 64% of the variance in the regression model (effect size of .80 or very LARGE :) That makes sense to me. No one explicitly explains the rules of language to kids, especially the rules of "School English" if they don't speak Standard American English. Kids who are better at picking up on those rules/patterns are better at picking up on the patterns/language of math. This is brand new info; math researchers have looked solely at vocab knowledge as a measure of language. There are some other interesting tidbits (to me anyway) in the data, but they don't have the immediate classroom impact as our finding that complex language skills appear to be related to math ability in K.

      We have a much, much larger study in the works with a mixed income year-round public school. We'll start data collection when the school comes back on track at the end of Nov. Hopefully, within the next year, we'll be able to add to the data we've got. I'm hopeful (as are the teachers!) that we'll be able to start developing classroom-based programs to catch kids who are struggling with academic language/math issues long before they get to 3rd grade.  

      •  Fascinating... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        akeitz, Matt Z, speak2me

        I wish I could contact you offline in regards to the manuscript.  I don't want to post too much on this public blog because I value my anonymity but I will say, I did with peer-reviewed journals every day.

        the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

        by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:44:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  As the grade level increases, the math exams (10+ / 0-)

        increasingly use word problems, which means even if the student is completely capable with an all-numeric presentation, she may miss a substantial number of questions due to the inability to parse and follow english.

        Word problems are important and learning to form the correct math to do based on a scenario is an essential skill. But, the bubble tests don't provide good information about why the student missed the question, and it may not actually be a failure of mathematical ability or teaching.

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

        by elfling on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:53:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's precisely why I'm interested in (6+ / 0-)

          intervening in the early grades before kids fail word problems :)

          English does not handle numeracy concepts well just as a language. Japanese, Korean, and even Spanish are linguistically set up to handle number concepts, etc better. That said, other English speaking countries don't have the academic achievement gap we do. I think it's linked to low-income status and partly to the linguistic differences in those communities. We cut kids learning English much more slack than we do kids who speak a different dialect of English. Non mainstream dialect speakers are still expected to read/write in Standard American English - a highly formalized version of the language.

          But, I'm just a child language researcher and a state employee (tenure track @ state university). What could I possibly know about helping children learn that the politicians don't already snark?

          •  linguistic differences (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            teacherken

            I think this is a really fascinating area of study.

            Building on that - that other languages are better set up to handle certain kinds of numeric constructs - I have also seen arguments that English is great for allowing students to accept ambiguity and to learn to think out of the box, because it is so full of exceptions.

            I have frequently come across accounts of students in countries like Japan or Brazil with impressive knowledge of formulae and concepts far beyond what US kids learn - but then to have the (American) observer realize with dismay that they can't really use or generalize the formula out to less obvious applications.

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

            by elfling on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:18:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds like my son... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          speak2me, m00finsan, Lucy2009

          it all falls apart with the written math although he has the concepts, can compute, think abstractly and problem solve.  His teacher picked up on this with his first test.  We will be working to help him improve.

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:37:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was just thinking about a vaguely (5+ / 0-)

            related concept -- "half" is an easy fraction to see, but "half" and "two" are not linguistically related.  In fact, it isn't til you get to "sixth" and "six" that you really see the relation between the fraction name and the word.  "Three" and "third" are close, "four" works with "fourth" but not with "quarter".

            A kid with language issues will have some basic problems hearing the relationships, and if you toss in a teacher who is uncomfortable with fractions as well, you get a mess.

            When I was going through the "new math" it was thought that if you talked about "numerators" and "denominators" and "minuends" "subtrahends" and "differences" and "addends" and "divisors" and "dividends" somehow we'd all end up "smart."

            Happily, some of the math jargon has gone by the wayside, but there's plenty out there still.  "Friendly numbers," "fact triangles," and endless algorithms each of which has its own rules all muddy the waters.

            Getting that early comfort with language and reducing the language needs for early math would probably help significantly for a segment of the population.

            •  And one other early math/language issue (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elfling, Daddy Bartholomew, princss6

              comes in simply writing the numbers.

              We say FOURTEEN but we write 14 -- that is, the first sound is "four" but the first number is "teen" -- actually a 1 in the tens place.

              Kids get stuck on this in the early grades and if the teachers don't catch on to the language/sound error, the kids struggle from very early on.  Number writing is a kindergarten skill, and reversing digits is just one more thing to be confused about early on.

              A kid's school affect or attitude seems to set in pretty early on, near as I can tell.

      •  I would be highly interested in seeing a diary on (0+ / 0-)

        this subject when the journal comes out. I've been insisting that in order for our students to improve in math, they also need to improve in English skills and reading. Sadly, there's a ton of grant money available for STEM projects, while basic literacy grants are somewhat harder to come by. We've been looking, though.

        I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

        by Daddy Bartholomew on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:20:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Could you explain your premise? Specifically, (0+ / 0-)

        No one explicitly explains the rules of language to kids, especially the rules of "School English" if they don't speak Standard American English.

        As far as I can see, we teach literacy, grammar, and all the rules of language in language arts class. Of course, if a child has nobody else in their environment stressing use of grammatically correct language, our teaching is not supported. In my state, there is even a benchmark for teaching code switching so that kids are aware of the appropriate uses of different speech depending upon one's audience. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you.

    •  Re: KIPP (30+ / 0-)

      I haven't taken the time yet to read all the comments yet, but I wanted to emphasize your points about how charters, and in particular KIPP, boost test scores.
      I worked 15 years in a "failing" middle school here in Denver. We had a population that was about 90% minority and nearly 100% FRL (poor). We had some dedicated, wonderful staff, but we were also given "lemons" by the district every year: teachers who couldn't find jobs but had contracts. They were not happy people for the most part, and they did terrible damage to our school's climate/culture.
      KIPP was given permission to build a competing middle school on a vacant lot right behind our school (literally our school's property). Brand new facility. They immediately went to work skimming the cream: recruiting very aggressively, but only the kids they felt like teaching. The principal of the new school was clear that he had no intent to work with ELLs, special needs students--and certainly none of the bad attitudes, truants, gangsters or drug users that my school proudly worked with as part of the community for over 50 years. Meanwhile, KIPP also went on an aggressive campaign of trashing my school to local press, neighborhood associations and parents (in one instance holding a recruitment meeting in OUR AUDITORIUM where he stated that no caring family would send their child to my school). Finally, if any students made it through the filters and didn't perform to KIPP standards, they were "counseled out." Guess where they ended up.
      We tried our best, but in the end our school was closed down for poor performance. I still feel in my bones that this was an unjust decision that hurt the community. These kids no longer have a middle school within walking distance. I don't deny that our school had problems and I don't  want to make excuses. We had issues that we failed to overcome and the school district found it convenient to close us down. But a big part of my lingering bitterness about all of it is related to KIPP. They play very dirty pool.
      They have better test scores than we ever did, but as you mentioned, there is plenty of evidence that they are preparing kids for standardized tests much better than for college or any kind of critical thinking.

      •  That's interesting.... (0+ / 0-)

        we have two KIPP middle schools in my city and they are about to start a KIPP high school.  You wouldn't even know KIPP was here and I live fairly close to one of the schools.  I'll have to ask around.

        the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

        by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:47:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's awful (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica, kingyouth

        So where are those kids now? I think the charters should have operated by lottery. It's not fair to pick and choose the best and leave the rest in the failing school. Test skills are good skills to have if you are a student I wish I had more of it when I was in school. The test need to change, a change in New York test resulted in a huge drop in the pass rate. Schools get graded on a curve so staying on top isn't as simple as a test prep academy.

        •  I think first come first serve is better nt (0+ / 0-)

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:40:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  We do operate by lottery (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          edtastic, princss6, Huginn and Muninn

          It's incorrect and a lie that KIPP screens and identifies top performing students.

          •  sorry, but there is screening (7+ / 0-)

            remember, KIPP schools do not operate directed from a central office.  There are more than a few cases where the schools "counsel out" harder to educate students.  That may not happen in your school.  In some places KIPP schools are able to avoid taking SPED and ELL kids.  And there are cases where after getting their allotments and before they test kids suddenly a batch of disciplinary problems get kicked out and sent back to the public schools.  KIPP is actually far better on this than are some of the chains that are centrally operated, in part because one strength of KIPP is that each school is very much a product of the vision of its founding principal.

            That said, the track record of KIPP is not yet established as superior over time.  The jury remains out.

            Just remember - your experience of how YOUR KIPP school operates is not the same as the case with KIPP schools in other places.

            "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:13:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Any supporting documents.... (0+ / 0-)

              I've never heard of this in regards to KIPP, so I'm curious to read more.

              the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

              by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 09:25:57 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  edastic your information as usual is incorrect (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, m00finsan

          There was not a change in the tests that were given in NY state last year. Rather the new Commissioner of Education here in New York decided to change the cut scores on the test. All schools that used the New York State assessments for the 2009/2010 school year,(public, private and Charter schools) had a decreased number of students meeting proficiency because of a change in the cut scores.

          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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 01:03:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well Ed, (0+ / 0-)

          given the trash you're spewing all over these comments and your other diaries, maybe you should, you know, actually educate yourself about what's really going on.  I know this is a novel idea and it would indeed be common sense for these schools to be required to accept all schools.  Hmmm, perhaps something other than educational aims are at work here... A profit motive and tax cutting agenda relating to state budgets?

      •  You should be ashamed of yourself (5+ / 0-)

        I know that for a fact that this is not the case.  I work with this organization so I know what I am talking about.  We do not skim or select students by performance.  We get kids in the school that can't even read or perform basic math functions such as 1+1.  We have kids with major social problems, we have ELL and special ed kids - so get your facts straight before making false statements.

        The meeting in "your auditorium" is out of line.  It wasn't YOUR auditorium - it's a public facility as is KIPP.  KIPP is a public school - you realize that, right?  We are just another part of the solution.  Our "new" building only met 30% of our capacity - we had to purchase trailers to accomodate our kids and we did that through private grants.  I wouldn't call our facility top notch and to do so is misleading.

        I also personally know we have been working very hard to help other DPS schools in Denver.  That seems to always be absent from these discussions.  

        Finally you downplay your own school's performance.  It was miserable and embarassing - a complete and total failure for your kids. No one wanted to send their kids to that school and for good reason.  

        I am really disappointed by this unnecessary and completely false attack.  

        •  I do believe... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica

          that KIPPs differ from city to city.  

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:41:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am defending Colorado (4+ / 0-)

            I am transparent and make no apologies about serving for KIPP Colorado.  

            I am defending our program here against these false statements.

            •  Yes... (0+ / 0-)

              I didn't realize that initially but I see and understand.  I haven't heard nearly anything as bad about KIPP as some post here.  They are allowed to expand because they are doing well in my city.  As far as counseling out, I've never heard of that either.  

              the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

              by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:47:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Because it's not true (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                princss6, Lucy2009

                We don't counsel out.  That's a lie and a popular one.

                We do make students repeat though in much greater numbers - especially in their first year due to the knowledge gap.  We don't promote unless the student is ready.

                •  Most private schools... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Lucy2009

                  make kids repeat though...my kid repeated first grade and he was better off for it.  Somebody had to say the buck stops here and he needs to get the fundamentals.  

                  the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                  by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 11:35:03 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  you may not counsel out (11+ / 0-)

                  it has been documented in other KIPP schools.

                  Also, on repeating grades -  I hope your experience over the long term is better than what the overwhelming evidence to date is, that holding students back in the first 3-4 grades correlates very heavily with those who never finish high school.

                  It is a difficult choice -  if the student is not fully ready for the next grade, how do we balance the need to improve the skills without destroying the confidence of the kid and having him/her start to believe self is a failure and give up?  It is, by the way, one of the reasons I would like to see a complete restructuring where we stop thinking of grade or age-level cohorts, but treat each kid individually in each domain.

                  "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:18:57 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Exactly, which is what I just wrote to you about! (4+ / 0-)

                    The STRUCTURE of how we teach kids needs to change. Not just unions, testing, teachers. Those are just a few bricks in the building!

                    Seems pointless to push a kid through who doesn't know the data of the grade he's in. Yet, you are right that the derision one gets from being held back is intense. But ultimatley, that needs to change. Just as gays need to be accepted, so does the fact that some folks need to go over the info twice to really get it!

                    Even more importantly, I don't understand why public schools don't have an abundance of tutors starting in kindergarten or first grade so that when a kid stumbles the first time it gets caught. Much easier to clear up math as a "poor" subject for someone 1/2 way thru first grade, than when they are flunking out and hate it in 9th grade!

                    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                    by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:33:37 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  My understanding is... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Lucy2009

                      kids can't even get tested for learning disabilities by my school district until they are 2 years behind.  So a struggling 1st grader is pushed through until third when they are finally seen by an Ed Pysch, typically at the end of third grade.  Talk about a formula for success, right?

                      the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                      by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 09:33:58 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  That's awful. Imagine how demoralized the poor (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        princss6

                        kid feels going through school for two years as the "dumb kid" in class. I went thru that in 3rd grade and I remember to this day the upset it caused me!

                        Kids with "learning disabilities" probably need to go off of the sugar and carb diets, be fed good protein/veggie meals 3x daily, plenty of good vits, and sleep. Then an educator, not a psych, needs to sit down and find out where they were last doing well. Go back to that point and find what they didn't understand and work it from there. I'm not saying that's always the handle, but I suspect it would clear up alot of problems.

                        My kid was a grade or two behind when she started at her hot crap private high school. That's exactly what they did with her. She had a tutor that worked with her to find when she last did well and liked math, and then worked with her everyday until she got up to grade level. She ended up doing advanced calculus in high school...and got a degree in math from college! Shows what can happen if you are sensible and creative and put the time into getting a kid sorted out.

                        I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                        by Lucy2009 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:12:38 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Which is exactly.. (0+ / 0-)

                    why, though painful, I made the choice to hold my son back in 1st grade.  The bonus was the two-year structure, though, where is class was comprised of 1st and 2nd graders.  I think it bothered him at first, but now he does not mention it at all.  There was no way, he could have handled the work of the second grade at his school.  It is highly unlikely he would be where he was if he would not have repeated.  It was necessary.  I've heard of other parents who have also wanted their kids to repeat a grade and faced opposition by schools.  

                    the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                    by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 09:30:59 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  What's your attrition rate? (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Philoguy, princss6, m00finsan

                  I've heard KIPP schools require parents to sign on to a high degree of involvement, and if the parent doesn't live up to that requirement, the child is returned to the home school.

            •  you don't always make that clear (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Philoguy, XerTeacher, m00finsan

              you see a what you perceive as a universal attack and you, understandably, make a universal response.  You thus fall into the same mistake against which you are responding.

              "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:16:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  yep - very much so n/t (0+ / 0-)

            "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:15:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Ashamed? No, I'm proud of what we achieved... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, hopi13, m00finsan

          ...and when you call it 'miserable & embarassing (sic)' and 'a complete and total failure,' you insult me personally. My wife has asked me not to use any foul language in response.

          Of course, your language as a representative of KIPP is pretty much par for the course. But on to your points...

          I'm sure you have a written policy about serving all students. And you can shout it to the heavens for all I care. I know for a fact it's not true. I spoke to plenty of students and families who where drummed out of KIPP without anything like due process. I did hear thru the grapevine that DPS caught wind of your antics (especially in regards to ELLs) and you were forced into something like compliance.

          As far as the auditorium goes, I'll grant you that KIPP was given permission to use it. But before you guys showed up, it was just ours. For about 45 years it was ours, and then you marched right in and crapped on us. Certainly that was your prerogative, I was only pointing out what an incredibly disdainful, classless move that was. But okay, whatever.

          Last point: our school's performance, which you correctly (if arrogantly) point out was unacceptable. In the three years prior to being given the heave-ho by DPS, we succeeded in dramatically reducing behavior incidents of all types (drugs, violence, etc) to the point of ranking last on the west side in suspensions. We also experienced greater growth on CSAP than any school on the west side. We had a long way to go, I'll admit, but we were on the right track. The writing was already on the wall, though, wasn't it? KIPP was pressuring DPS for our building and you guys got it. To celebrate, you fired your pitbull principal, didn't you? Better to have a 'good cop' in charge now that you're the only middle school in the area.

          Having our school shut down was the most disheartening and humiliating experience of my adult life. Fortunately I've landed on my feet (hit the 'teacher's jackpot in fact!). But I'll never get over how we got railroaded by DPS, and I'll never forget how KIPP did everything it could to speed along that terrible process.

          Far from being ashamed, I'm very proud of what we accomplished there. Unlike KIPP, who history has shown will take its ball and go home as soon as trouble arises, true public schools have no option but to serve every single kid who shows up at our door. We've always been honored to do that.

    •  Thorough job. (0+ / 0-)

      I hope you will read my diary just published and recommend to others that they read it.  Your diary is very thorough while mine just tried to keep itself inside a thousand words so some paper would publish it.

      We agree on everything.  Good job.

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:32:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this... (46+ / 0-)

    this film is being billed as a "wake-up" call to the nation about education. I've seen it praised everywhere. It's good to have an honest view of it. I've pretty much made up my mind not to see it, once my daughter in law told me it was basically anti-teacher's union pro-private charter school propaganda.

    Republicans are not White America or any America - they're just people who were born here without any trace of this country in their hearts or minds. -troubador

    by Socratic Method on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:10:32 PM PDT

  •  As long as property taxes are used to fund school (73+ / 0-)

    America is going to have problems -- big problems with education.

    As long as Americans find it OK for "their" schools to give their children a terrific education -- but not your neighbors in the next county over

    then America is going to have problems with education - and problems with kids in jail -- and on and on and on

    It is time for America to grow up -- and love their neighbors....

    just saying

    "Proud to proclaim: I am a Bleeding Heart Liberal"

    by sara seattle on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:11:55 PM PDT

    •  In Washington State, the state constitution (14+ / 0-)

      requires the legislature to fully fund "basic" public education, specifically designating this task as the state's "paramount responsibility." In theory, this means that variance in property values should not affect access to quality education.

      The courts have repeatedly held that the legislature has not met that responsibility and have ordered it to do so, but of course there's always some reason why they can't.

      If the state legislature was thrown in jail en masse for contempt of court, we might start seeing adequate funding for education.

      "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

      by NWTerriD on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:50:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's why they are supporting 1098 (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sara seattle, divineorder, m00finsan

        so they shouldn't be thrown in jail.  They are actually trying to fulfill that responsibility.  The waste is when college tuition money paid for Emmert's $900K salary at the UW.  That's what the legislators need to do something about.  Write to you state legislators asking them to do something about all of those assistant vice presidents and associate directors earning more than $10,000 per month.

    •  Recc'd... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sara seattle, MT Spaces, Matt Z

      agreed whole heartedly.  

      the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

      by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:44:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cal schools... (0+ / 0-)

      ....I believe, all get the same dollar amount per student per day attendant regardless of location. If that's the case, what's the difference what fund (e.g., property vs. sales tax) the money comes from?  

      "People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy," Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins.

      by kck on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 07:10:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I will not see this film (74+ / 0-)

    because I have no desire to see teachers trashed any further. I see it on NJ.com every day and I feel it in my own life as a (failed) teacher (4 years at every type of school imaginable and I couldn't stick at any of them). I live in a state where the governor hates teachers and teacher unions. 4,000 teachers were laid off last year. Certainly more will be laid off next summer.

    It's a damned hard job and nobody, especially these critics who have no idea what goes on in a teacher's life on a daily basis are getting all the say on the teaching profession.

    Thank you, teacherken.

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

    by TheGreatLeapForward on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:13:08 PM PDT

  •  I've begun to wonder (50+ / 0-)

    what kind of teachers take jobs in public schools, and what kind in private schools.  We sent our kids to private elementary school, and now they're in public middle school.  Near as I can tell, the public school teachers are more conscientious, more concerned with actually teaching the material, and likely more talented.  As a bonus, in the public schools our kids aren't being taught how much better they (supposedly) are than everybody else.

    I get that some parents value private schools for their ability to inculcate kids with a sense of exclusivity and entitlement.  But if you want quality instruction, I'm thinking the public schools take the palm.  

    But maybe I'm biased -- went to public elementary and secondary schools myself.

    •  I went to a Catholic middle school (15+ / 0-)

      and a public high school.  As far as education was concerned, I think it was better in private school.  But I've also gone to a 7th day Adventist school and no offense but I think the Catholics had it down pat. I had to go to Mass even though I was Jewish. I mostly went through the motions and didn't take communion. But  my point is, even though it was highly religious, we learned about evolution and real science. Creationism was never mentioned. Actually even though there were religious statues everywhere, and the nuns wore casual habits, religion was never really mentioned. I mean really, we started off the day with a Hail Mary and the Pledge, but that was totally it as far as religion. I'm not being snarky. It was all education.

      "Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

      by dancerat on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:35:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Something to keep in mind (8+ / 0-)

      is that private school teachers generally do not need to have a teaching credential. So the quality of teaching at anything other than the top tier of private schools can be very uneven.

      "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." -Muriel Rukeyser

      by tubacat on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:32:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you think credentials make the teacher? (4+ / 0-)

        People home school there children with no credentials and they can out perform those taught by those with them. There is more to this than credentials the talent and ability to convey knowledge to another person is not a simple matter of having a deep knowledge of the subject matter. Our biggest problems are teaching reading and math to young children. If you can do basic arithmetic and read you know the subject matter. The credentials in teaching are suppose to teach you how to teach different kinds of children in their varied stages of development. If you for some reason already know how to do that the credentials aren't necessary.

        •  It's a big part talent. (3+ / 0-)

          And people skills, management skills for a room of 26 kids.

          "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

          by Unduna on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:25:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Those skills can vary depending on the group (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            princss6

            If your teaching inner city schools and you are not from that background you will have a really hard time relating to the kids. That is why I think those who can should be rewarded for their unique talents.

            •  My biggest success and favorite group (7+ / 0-)

              by FAR was my inner city classroom. We rocked it out and had a blast, too. And I am definitely not from that background. Be careful what you judge and how.

              "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

              by Unduna on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:50:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good for you (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                princss6

                Yeah i am jumping to conclusions. There might be other strategies that work with kids from all backgrounds. I can't speak to that, but there are plenty of teachers who don't do well with these kids and write them off as "Ghetto" or "stupid". That happens a lot, of course they try and teach them anyway but it would probably help if they could relate better.

                •  I loved them, but I get into to turning up the (6+ / 0-)

                  volume. I like to go big. And they loved and wanted touch. Once I figured that out, we were on. I kept everybody close, within hand clenching, head rubbing distance. And they loved to be told how beautiful they were. And my god they were so gorgeous, each one.

                  And learning to deal with their inclination to play alpha dog, that was super important. Everyday was wacka-mole with both a big hard stick and a big pump up to the heart and confidence.

                  But the best thing of all about this group was their seemingly natural ability to understand that everybody needed different rules. The worst thing I could threaten would be a "Everything Fair Day". They flipped their shit if I threatened that and pulled it together fast. They loved their individual perks, and would work hard with their individual restrictions to keep them. I really loved and admired them greatly for their understanding of how that worked.

                  And they understood that we were at war. That we were, each one of us, me included and sometimes even especially, in danger. They would ask me, "is it a bad grown up day, Ms. XXX? Don't worry, we got you, " they would say. God love em.

                  Basically, they ruled and I adored them and I miss them like mad.

                  Thanks for listening.

                  "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

                  by Unduna on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:17:45 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Wow that is amazing (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Unduna, kingyouth, princss6

                    It's like nothing I ever heard or imagined. I wish we were talking about what your doing in the classroom, instead of adult issues. I wish we had diaries on teaching strategies instead of glossing over that issue as if every teacher was as gifted as you. Those kids were really lucky, I hope their next teacher isn't disappointing.

                    I don't think an extra degree or two would give you these skills or huge raise not that you don't deserve it. Teachers don't even have the time to share amongst themselves. We need to focus on teachers to develop them. All the focus goes on removing ineffective teachers which in the end might only be 1-2%. The vast majority of teachers would be unaffected outside of some lingering fears. The focus should be on empowering teachers to teach how they want and a chance to learn new methods. Being held to account for someone else's bad ideas is a common reality for many working people but it doesn't get the job done.

                    I remember a movie about a guy who worked some magic in a inner city elementary school class, I forget what it was called.

                  •  One of the values that my kid's (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Unduna, edtastic

                    school instills is fair isn't that everyone gets the same or equal treatment, fair is that everyone gets what they need when they need it.  

                    the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                    by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:45:07 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  lets parse this a bit further (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Tonedevil, princss6

                      the idea that everyone gets what they need when they need it may mean that not everyone gets the same thing.  I happen to agree with that -  I think the most equitable treatment would mean some get more than others in order to give them equal opportunity over the long haul.  But some people object to 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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:20:24 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  As it happens, I teach teachers (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          teacherken, Tonedevil

          both those who have been teaching without credentials and those who haven't gotten their credentials yet. I also go out and supervise (observe) teachers. A credential doesn't guarantee that a teacher will be great, but it does mean that he or she will learn HOW to teach math, reading & writing, science, social studies, etc. There are very few "natural" teachers who just happen to know how to do all this. The students I teach who have been teaching without credentials are good people, but they definitely have holes in their knowledge of how to teach certain subjects, and are glad to have the opportunity to fill those gaps.

          I wonder why it is that people think teaching takes no special skills or knowledge. Children are the most precious members of our community; don't we want the most well-prepared and knowledgeable professionals helping them in the classroom?

          "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." -Muriel Rukeyser

          by tubacat on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:22:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh no... (0+ / 0-)

            I wonder why it is that people think teaching takes no special skills or knowledge

            I completely recognize this and it is why I push back on the meme that it is the responsibility of the parents to teach their kids.  Teaching is a craft and a trade.  I know what I know...does not mean I can teach it.  As a matter of fact, there is nothing more sobering when as an avid reader, I had to support my son with some language disabilities in particular relating to reading!  I couldn't do it, other teachers failed, but he had one damn good teacher that finally broke through..finally!  This is after years of special instruction and the cost and time expended for a tutor.  In our case, the amount of outside help I could afford by in money and time could NEVER make up for the direct instruction every day.  Never!  What I wasn't a good parent, right?  Despite doing everything that the previous teachers had called for, my kid STILL couldn't read.  But one year with an effective (non-unionized) teacher has changed his life.  He went through K and 1st without knowing how to read and then in his second tour in 1st grade, finally, finally, he could read!  

            I'm not alone, I know this and I can testify without any doubt that even the best parents who do all they can, still have kids that when faced with incompetent and ineffective teachers, will not be educated.  I'm fortunate that I can afford private schools, not the elite schools mind you, but this schools are providing a very good education on par with the elites if not better, for my child.  I know I'm not alone and I know there are parents who have provided the same sweat equity but who people on this blog want to demonize because their kids are not performing.  It can't be the schools, right?  It just must me the parent and their lack of investment and engagement in their child's education.  Wrong.  Even the best parents can't overcome the horrible schools in my neighborhood.  

            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

            by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 09:54:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  It is all about the right fit... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Protestant, Thoughts

      know many private schools in my area that are elite and inculcate this in their students.  I also know some public schools that treat minorities students as if they are guest visitors not entitled to be there.  It is a mixed bag.

      the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

      by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:48:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmmm.... (8+ / 0-)

      I went to public school from kindergarten through 8th grade....in a well-to-do suburb of NYC, there was enough money in that town to have excellent teachers and an excellent curriculum.  But, no.  The education sucked.  My teachers were, for the most part, biding their time til they either got married or found a job that paid better.  
      The town I lived in also had no high school, we had to be bussed to a neighbor town to attend a sub-par high school.  Thank God I loved reading and had parents who thought learning was vitally important.    
      My parents scraped together what money they had saved and sacrificed so my brother and I could go to private school.  It's a debt to my parents for which I will be ever grateful.  The education I got in that private school was excellent, at no time were we told, or was it ever intimated, that we were 'the elite' or any better than anyone else. We were told that we had a responsibility to do the best we could, for ourselves as well as for others.
      There is a disclaimer....The private school I graduated from was an Episcopal Diocesan school.  We were never taught creationism, but we were taught, in depth, about many other religions throughout the world and throughout history.  It's proved to be invaluable.  More so than we could ever have imagined at the time.

      I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

      by Lilyvt on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:11:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  part and parcel of the larger picture (40+ / 0-)
    where public services are targeted, destroyed, defunded and the public loses access to services or accepts less that costs them more.

    Local government services of all kinds under attack, lies that privatization will work better, making services fee based instead of tax supported.

    Its not possible to sustain a democracy where only the rich can receive an adequate education, government service and control public resources.

  •  Bill Maher talked a little bit... (16+ / 0-)

    ...about this movie on his show tonight.  He was all the movie's great, blah, blah. Teachers' unions are bad, blah, blah.  He cited some quick, fly-by statistics that I don't remember of how many teachers get fired out of how many teachers there are total, and then compared that percentage to how many people get fired out of how many total in other jobs, saying that way more people get fired in other jobs than teachers do, as if firing teachers is the solution.  John Legend was also on and said that he works with schools that that have the same funding as other schools but "better teachers" and the students do so much better and thus schools not having money isn't the problem.

    I rolled my eyes and sighed.

  •  I heard the story (21+ / 0-)

    about this film on NPR. That was enough for me not to go see it. Thanks for this diary. It reinforces the gut feelings I had after listening to that story. I'll save my money.

    The great tragedy of Science, the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. T. H. Huxley

    by realalaskan on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:27:49 PM PDT

  •  it's sad to hear right wing talking points (37+ / 0-)

    about teachers unions from Kossacks. The teachers union is under attack from all sides including Oprah, Bill Mahler and Arrianna . Tom Donohue from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce likes Arne's ideas too.

    First, Mr. Donohue underscores the notion that there was, at the outset, some mutually beneficial cooperation, starting with Chamber endorsement of President Barack Obama's big economic-stimulus legislation.

    "Not only did we help with stimulus, but we did it when a good portion of the Chamber members were probably not happy about that," he says. "We did it because this institution fundamentally believed that America had a role to play in avoiding the globe from going into a global depression."

    He also says he provided rhetorical support for the president's controversial rescue of General Motors, backed the cash-for-clunkers plan, and strongly supported Education Secretary Arne Duncan's education reforms.

    It is impossible to introduce into society a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." Frederic Bastiat

    by california keefer on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:29:59 PM PDT

    •  Teachers need unions- (41+ / 0-)

      it's all too easy for some Talibangelical to go after them for expressing some opinion in class like, hey, maybe creatures evolve.  And get them fired.  

      We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet. -Stephen Hawking

      by satanicpanic on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:32:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's possible that the teachers unions are not (7+ / 0-)

      helping out the situation, you know. There is a reason that folks that think public schools are vital, and are huge supporters of a liberal agenda are bringing up the issue of the unions.

      The public school sit in this country is huge and crippling the futures of far too many of the students forced to attend them.

      The teacher HAVE to take responsibility for this. YES, there are other factors, but the teachers and the teacher unions are part of the problem.

      There is also psych drug and street drug problems. Too many kids in poverty going to school hungry, tired, abused, abusive, etc, etc.......

      It's not one thing. But when you hear stories about teachers that flat out aren't any good being kept on, and not being able to be fired becuase of union rules....it makes folks blood boil. It's gotta stop.

      This is not a single issue problem, but teachers are part of it.

      I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

      by Lucy2009 on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:06:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, elwior

        It's not one thing. But when you hear stories about teachers that flat out aren't any good being kept on, and not being able to be fired becuase of union rules....it makes folks blood boil. It's gotta stop.

        They're being kept on because they're the track coach and the Admin loves them.  They're never gonna get fired.

        The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

        by happymisanthropy on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:11:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Does your blood boil about the union rules (21+ / 0-)

          that protect all union workers, or just those that protect teachers? Do you think all union members should be able to be fired at the whim of their supervisors without any legitimate cause, or do you just demand that fate for teachers? Do you demonize the entire history of the labor movement in America, or just the portion that applies to workers in the public schools?

          "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

          by NWTerriD on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:59:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't demonize working people, period. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Matisyahu, edtastic, princss6

            My father and my ex-husband were both union workers. It meant that I always had excellent full medical care, as did my children. It also meant that these men made good wages, and had good vacations benefits, etc. I think ALL union and non-union employees should be endowed with those types of benefits.

            I don't think that any worker should be fired on a whim. However, in my experience, if you do a good job, dress appropriately, are honest and on time...employers want to keep you! I've never been fired, and I've never had a union job.

            If you don't perform the duties of your job in the manner expected and customary....the employer should have a right to fire you in a timely manner.

            I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

            by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:14:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (22+ / 0-)

              If you don't perform the duties of your job in the manner expected and customary....the employer should have a right to fire you in a timely manner.

              'cause, you know, teaching is cut and dried like that.  Teachers who do their jobs right never have vindictive parents call the principal.  Principals never try to push unsound practices.  Students never make false accusations against teachers.  No, teachers can just dress appropriately and everything will be fine.

              The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

              by happymisanthropy on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:26:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, no, of course not. But every employee (4+ / 0-)

                in any industry is going to have idiot supervisors, pissed-off customers...it's part of work. People learn how to deal with that. Supervisors take all of that into account, etc.

                I've written MANY comments on this thread. Here is one I just wrote to someone else:

                "Beautiful comment. I agree wholeheartedly. (0+ / 0-)
                Aside from parents/family/friends, teachers have the biggest impact on children. Everybody seems to  to remember a beloved teacher, and a despised one!! LOL

                They are charged with the responsibility to educate the future population of our country. The better that job is done, the better off the country and citizenry. It's a fabulously important, awesome, and critical job they do in our society. Ideally a teacher should have a degree in the subject/grade that they teach...and as such they should be paid as the professionals that they are. Starting salaries in a state like CA should be atleast 50,000 a year, with the realistic increase up to 100-150,000.00/yr if they get a doctorate, and/or have a track record of excellence in the class room, etc. I'm no expert in all that, but I am a mother of a teacher, daughter, g-daughter and gg-daughter of teachers!! These people are VALUABLE and should be treated as such."

                Teachers and unions are just one part of the overall problem with our education system. It needs a structural overhaul.

                I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:54:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  lets put it like this.. (5+ / 0-)

                  how do ununionized private school teachers manage to keep their jobs?

                  Now let's try to copy that to the public schools.

                •  Nice try lucy, but this bunch isn't buying your.. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  princss6, m00finsan

                  line of reasoning.  Instead, they feel strongly that a man who puts his union ahead of his desire to see children do well is the one and only expert on a movie like this.
                  Teachers unions are a useless bunch of idiots who have done nothing for their membership EXCEPT make it nearly impossible to fire incompetent teachers.
                  NOTHING.  Their pay is the lowest of any profession in this country. A "unionized" profession, with the lowest pay. Probably the highest percentage of union membership of any profession, and they have the lowest pay.
                  Yet, that says nothing to this bunch.
                  Many unions gave themselves a bad rep by participating in some pretty smarmy schemes, and the bad rap on uniions was a self inflicted wound,  but they have mostly cleaned up their acts. The CTA has been fairly scandal free, and that's good, but, other than creating a system that makes it almost impossible to measure and deal with competency, what have they done for their membership?
                  Name something. Anything?

                  •  You are busy worrying about the ADULTS (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    serrano, Matisyahu, princss6, Lucy2009

                    That is why people are sick of the Teachers Unions.

                  •  I'm not sure what you are accusing me of!! (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    princss6

                    I think you are accusing me of being pro-teachers unions??  Interesting....because I have been absolutely excoriated by many others on this site for being anti-teachers unions!!! Hummm....can't get a break around here.   LOL

                    Lookit, I don't know enough about teachers unions, to make an expert decision. I will say this though...our public schools SUCK, and they are VITAL to the futures of our children and our countries security, prosperity and health. SOMETHING MUST CHANGE!!!!!!

                    I suspect that would involve teachers, unions, parents, curriculum, implementing phys ed/music/art programs, smaller class sizes, drug rehab programs for students, HEALTHY meals available for those who need it, teachers teaching subjects they majored in, pay increases to make this a PROFESSIONAL and RESPECTED and REMUNERATIVE profession to go along with the expected/needed dedication. Etc, etc, etc........

                    Just some thoughts from someone who went to school, has two kids who went to school, and comes from a long line of school teachers!

                    Christ I can't see how this can possibly offend you lot!!  LOL      :)

                    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                    by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:49:06 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Sweeping statements not good for credibility (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Lucy2009

                      "I will say this though...our public schools SUCK" is a pretty strong statement.  Have you seen all of them?  Most of them?  Ten of them?

                      Do all hospitals SUCK?  Of course not, and anyone who said so would immediately be encouraged to think again. And the fact that you went to school doesn't necessarily grant you license to opine as an expert.  I've had surgery, and so have many people that I know.  However, I would be the last person to call myself an expert on the subject, and I doubt they would either.

                      Please think again.  You come from a long line of school teachers -- did all the schools they taught in SUCK?  Have you told them so?

                      Sorry to be so antagonistic, but I'm so sick of being insulted by strangers, just on the basis of my calling and my profession, that I'm about out of patience.  Prostitutes get better press these days than teachers -- what is wrong with our society?

                      •  Sorry you are feeling hit from all directions.... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        princss6

                        I think teachers are incredibly valuable in our society. You guys make one of the biggest impacts on people....lifelong! Seems like everyone can remember a favorite teacher, or one that made it so they liked history, or math for the rest of their life, or one they hated!  LOL

                        You are given the responsibility to educate the future generation of our country. No small project!! You have my utmost admiration, and respect for what you do.

                        Actually most of my fam has taught in rough school districts, and their schools did kinda suck! Not the teachers, it's the whole situation of having kids that are hungry, tired, abused, abusive, pregnant, sad, etc, etc.... Not enough funding in the school for smaller class sizes, tutors, phys ed programs, etc. That's not the teachers fault.

                        You have one of the most honorable professions in this country. I think you should be very proud of what you do. Sincerely.   :)

                        I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                        by Lucy2009 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:16:05 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                •  How about school administrators? (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  akeitz, blueoasis, m00finsan

                  Why just blame teachers and their unions?  Michelle Rhee was a POLITICAL appointee.  Is it possible she contributed to the problem as well?

                  •  I don't just blame teachers and unions. I can't (0+ / 0-)

                    for the life of me figure out how the hell y'all came up with that!   LOL

                    READ my many comments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                    by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:50:31 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  that's cute (7+ / 0-)

              I don't think that any worker should be fired on a whim. However, in my experience, if you do a good job, dress appropriately, are honest and on time...employers want to keep you! I've never been fired, and I've never had a union job

              Maybe if you're a hostess at Denny's. Otherwise, I can't begin to tell you what politics you're up against in education.  

              •  Teaching is a job. I've made my respect for (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                princss6, CrissieP

                teachers abundantly clear in numerous comments on this thread.

                However, it is a job. There is no fucking reason in hell that teachers should be allowed to dress and behave inappropriately, not have a degree in the subject or grade they are teaching, and get away with being late, petty or nasty to their boss.

                Yes, it is exactly like a hostess at Denny's in that respect. Get over it and quite the sniveling and whining.

                Christ...no wonder the education system in this country is such shit. Everybody is too fucking scared to do anything about it!

                I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 01:42:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Unions don't "keep on" bad teachers (27+ / 0-)

        Unions have no power to hire or fire.

        Administrators make all personnel decisions. They refuse to fire bad teachers. Unions can delay the process or insist on contractually required due process, just like in almost any other union shop. But administrators ultimately have the power to remove bad teachers.

        If you believe bad teachers are a serious problem, you need to a) pressure administrators to remove them and b) make it easier for administrators to eliminate bad teachers by making more good teachers available to replace them.

        And, to empathize only slightly with administrators, the lack of action on (b) above is one reason they can't fire bad teachers unless they can find a more qualified replacement.

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

        by badger on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:41:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I question (22+ / 0-)

          why young people would want to go into the teaching profession after seeing the trend of bashing hard-working people who spend their own money for materials out of a salary that isn't what it should be, especially in view of the extra hours they put in because they care.

          The blame game is not exactly a good recruiting tool for future educators.  I know many teachers who advise their own children not to go into teaching because of the trend of less discipline, more pressure without power, and lack of respect.

          •  They enter it because it's a good job (5+ / 0-)

            I question why young people would want to go into the teaching profession after seeing the trend of bashing hard-working people who spend their own money for materials out of a salary that isn't what it should be, especially in view of the extra hours they put in because they care.

            There will always be young people available to enter teaching-- while teaching is a "calling" and a passion for many people, I can tell you that in many communities, people become teachers because it's seen as a "stable job." A friend of mine once remarked, "in my neighborhood, all the men became accountants and the women became teachers." So that's why they go into the teaching profession: it's considered stable and decent paying, like nursing, social work, or a position in municipal administration.

            Honestly, I think teaching is hard, and I don't have the energy for it, and I've found other things I'm more interested in doing, but in a lot of families, someone with a college education is told to go into teaching because it's perceived as "a good job." There's no shortage of teachers or people willing to become teachers. There's a shortage of smart, capable, passionate teachers. That's only going to change when the professional status of teachers changes-- not only in the way teachers are perceived and treated (and paid), but in the way that teachers perceive themselves.

            •  Beautiful comment. I agree wholeheartedly. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Matisyahu, edtastic, princss6

              Aside from parents/family/friends, teachers have the biggest impact on children. Everybody seems to  to remember a beloved teacher, and a despised one!! LOL

              They are charged with the responsibility to educate the future population of our country. The better that job is done, the better off the country and citizenry. It's a fabulously important, awesome, and critical job they do in our society. Ideally a teacher should have a degree in the subject/grade that they teach...and as such they should be paid as the professionals that they are. Starting salaries in a state like CA should be atleast 50,000 a year, with the realistic increase up to 100-150,000.00/yr if they get a doctorate, and/or have a track record of excellence in the class room, etc. I'm no expert in all that, but I am a mother of a teacher, daughter, g-daughter and gg-daughter of teachers!! These people are VALUABLE and should be treated as such.

              I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

              by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:42:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I have 5 family member that are/were teachers. (5+ / 0-)

            I don't dislike teachers!!! Far from it!!    :)

            I also believe that they are way over-worked and way under-paid.

            My daughter taught high school math for 3 years before starting nursing school. (she had a math degree) It was HARD, HARD work!! It was in an under-priveleged area. She had 30-35 kids per class, 5 classes per day. About 50% of the kids were 1-4 grade levels behind. Wow...... welcome to your life! She was very young, very cute, and worked very hard to help these kids, and most of them really liked her as a result. But it's hard to overcome all of the family and personal issues so many of them had. They were abused, abusive, pregnant, blah, blah..... She made a deal at the beginning of each year that she would stay after school any day that a student wanted one on one tutoring. Alot took her up on it, alot didn't.

            Teachers and unions are only one brick in the building, from my perspective. The whole system needs a be re-vamped. Please read some of my other comments on this thread to get a better idea where I come from, and ideas I have.  Thx.

            I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

            by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:34:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And those kids are summarily ignored... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              karmsy

              around here...

              Alot took her up on it

              the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

              by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 04:04:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Teachers Unions should exist (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              princss6, Thoughts

              But Unions don't exist to protect the kids they exist to protect the teachers. Some complaints about unions are legitimate, if we keep forcing everyone to thumbs up or down on massively complex issues by reducing them to something like "Like teachers or not" then we won't get anywhere. The whole attack on reform is just the Union defending itself against any possible criticism. Those leading the unions at least see the political winds blowing against them while people here are angered by the publics concerns.

              •  No it's bigger than that (6+ / 0-)

                Reform is often predicated on raising "test scores" which leads to lousy teaching methods.  As any teacher worth their salt.

                •  It should be a given that test scores will be up! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  princss6

                  If children are actually learning the data being taught....the test scores will go up. It's really a pretty easy formula.

                  If children aren't learning, then find out why. Are they hungry, are they tired, are they being abused at home, are they being bullied in school, are they on drugs????  If a student can't understand beginning algebra, a smart place to start would be to verify their understanding of the basics that came b4. It doesn't really take a rocket scientist to figure this stuff out. It just takes someone sitting down with the kid as soon as they are stumbling and finding out what is going on and correct it.

                  Our methods and system of teaching kids isn't working. It's not just teachers and unions....I'm sure they are part of the problem, but that's way too simplistic. There needs to be several tutors per class available for help, less students per class, more phys ed, arts/music programs, etc.

                  Race to the top/bottom/side...whatthefuckever....be sensible, get results.

                  I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                  by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 01:28:23 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  sorry, but not true (5+ / 0-)

                    first, what is reported is a scaled score.  One thing that is done is to manipulate the conversion from the raw score to the scaled score.

                    This happened in Virginia with American History.  The first year of SOLs just about every school in Fairfax County was found wanting, which is bullshit.

                    Second, the quality of the tests varies greatly.

                    Third, any test has measurement error, which is why a single snapshot is problematic.  Like any sampling process, scores are also affected by regression to the mean.

                    The last point I will make now is this -  the ability to pick one out of four or five choices presented to you is not a skill that transfers very well to real-world activity.  Which is why you can have students who do very well on such tests - perhaps by using process of elimination -  but if not provided answers to prompts have not got a snowball's chance in Hades of obtaining a "passing" score.

                    "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:33:55 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So do you advise no testing? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      princss6

                      Seems to me whether a kid is in private or public school, testing could be a valuable tool. If done in a correct manner, don't you think it would show whether a child has learned data or not?

                      There could be a standardized test for each subject/each grade that was given at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. If you find a student lagging from where they ideally should be they could be tutored to get them up to snuff. The point wouldn't be to find "stupid" kids and belittle them, nor to punish teachers. The point would be to make sure that kids are retaining the information taught, and if not find out why and correct it. Seems if we catch this earlier rather than later it could prevent kids from becoming drop-out candidates.

                      Hence, my earlier statement that if should be a given that test scores will go up. My daughter went to a small private school. They tested all knew entrants to see where they stood grade wise in each subject. Then they set about getting them up to grade level as a top priority in each. My kid was about 2 grades behind in math and 1 in history. She hated both of those subjects. She was initially put in a math class of students quite a bit younger than her!! But between that an tutoring, she was up to grade level lickety split. She ended up graduating top of her class in high school. Then went on to college majoring in math and a minor in history!!! Funny twist, eh? But that just gives you an idea of what putting a little concentrated attention into a trouble area for a student can do. It opened up a whole new vista for my kid. She not only got a math degree, but finished all of her pre-med requirements.

                      She then taught high school math for 3 years, and is now in nursing school. God knows what's next!!! But clearly, she knows she has options, and isn't scared to explore them.....wouldn't that be nice for all kids to have. Would make the world a much better place for all.

                      I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                      by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:20:47 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I administered our state's (4+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Tonedevil, Matt Z, m00finsan, Lucy2009

                        accountability test last spring, like most teachers in the building. I had two students who put their heads down and went to sleep during the first few minutes of the test. I woke them up several times, quietly. They were not taking an exit level test so it really didn't matter to them how they did on the test. But this was a grade level upon which our school's accountability was based. The teachers who had these students could have their jobs threatened over these scores.

                        One of my students was in the process of becoming homeless during this week of testing. Her mother died when she was in the second grade. She didn't know anything about her father. Her brother, with whom she had lived and split bills with for several years put her out...basically. She had recently turned 18 so I suppose he figured he could do so without consequence. These are just a few examples of what can be misleading about test scores. Student test scores may not reveal what the student knows. Student test scores may not reveal the level of competency of the teacher.

                        •  You've missed the spirit of what I wrote. (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          cassidy3, princss6

                          I don't think testing should be done to punish kids, nor teachers. I think it should be used as a tool to find out what a child knows. If they are behind it could be a tool to determine that quickly, as well as determining more specifically what they don't know and then tutor them up to grade level so they don't keep slipping.

                          There will always be some kids that are intellectually lacking, or abused, or too troubled for various reasons to get them up to snuff. It would be absurd to think otherwise. But.......for the vast majority, testing could be used as a means to help ensure kids get a good education.

                          Determining a teachers job based on test scores alone is total stupidity. It's exactly the sort of reason that our school system needs a complete RE-VAMP. You can hardly blame the teacher for having kids that are hungry, tired, abused in some manner and/or behind because they missed something two grades b4!!  

                          I believe that even in our huge public schools, somehow we need to get adequate quantities of tutors available for the students. Somehow the curriculum and teaching methods need to be tailored in a more individual manner to each student. Too many are falling through the cracks, the assembly line techniques aren't cutting it.

                          My daughter went to private all thru school and college. In her high school they had various grades, but they also had each student determine what their major would be based on what they wanted to do in the workaday world, or their interests. For example, my kid wanted to be a doctor, so she was a Science/Tech major in high school. In addition to all the regular classes she was required to take...she had to take advanced calculus, chemsitry, and biology classes. She also had to work for something like 400 hours in her senior year in a field relating to her major. She got trained on the job as a medical assistant at a docs office. Drew blood, gave shots, check blood pressure, etc, etc all day every Saturday. She also did a full EMT program and got certified. So this school required real involvement from both teachers/students and parents. The school had study halls with tutors/instructors from 5:00pm to 9:00pm several nights every week the senior year.

                          Something like that is a real collaboration. She and the other kids in this school were interested in what they were doing, they were like little sponges!! They grumbled about all the work, but were so proud of their achievements when graduating. They'd pushed through alot (as had the parents!) to get to the end, and it was a big deal for everyone involved. What a great way to start off your adult life, eh?

                          I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                          by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 04:11:34 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  don't need state tests for that (0+ / 0-)

                            often don't even need tests of my own.  It becomes apparent on homework (if done) and in class discussions

                            "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:27:52 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Absolutely. I still think testing is a good idea (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            princss6

                            to get a broad brush look at the students knowledge in a particular subject/grade.

                            What do you think about the rest of what I wrote though?  

                            Don't you think some school are missing creativity, and the freedom to change things as needed to meet the students needs? Particularly in the poorer areas. These kids are dropping out at alarming rates. The minorities are at about 50% here in So Cal. As they are going to be the majority soon, I think that's verging on a catastrophe for this country.

                            What do you think?

                            I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                            by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:51:39 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  Actually I've been trashed on this for being too (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                princss6, CrissieP

                pro-union, as well as being too anti-union!!! I can't get a break!!  LOL

                I think any union should be their to represent the employee. Make sure they get good pay, medical coverage, vacation time, and job security. ALL employees union or non-union should have that.

                However, if a union employee is building shitty houses, there needs to be a way to quickly terminate said employee. The same holds true for shitty teachers.

                My personal opinion is that when we are talking education EVERYTHING has to be on the table. The system currently is such a mess, and failing on such a broad scale our children, their futures and the very security and prosperity of our country. This is not the time to worry overly about one aspect. The whole freakin thing needs to be turned upside down, shaken to let all the riff raff, bad ideas, stupid rules and indignities get out of the system. Then re-build.

                What I said is over simplified, but you get the idea.

                I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 01:22:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Unions fight for a system that keeps bad teachers (6+ / 0-)

          The system is designed in many districts to ensure that no teacher is ever fired for any reason that anyone might ever be able to construe as "unfair." Take, for example, Los Angeles:

          It's remarkably difficult to fire a tenured public school teacher in California, a Times investigation has found. The path can be laborious and labyrinthine, in some cases involving years of investigation, union grievances, administrative appeals, court challenges and re-hearings.

          Not only is the process arduous, but some districts are particularly unsuccessful in navigating its complexities. The Los Angeles Unified School District sees the majority of its appealed dismissals overturned, and its administrators are far less likely even to try firing a tenured teacher than those in other districts.
          ....
          Jettisoning a teacher solely because he or she can't teach is rare. In 80% of the dismissals that were upheld, classroom performance was not even a factor.

          It shouldn't be that hard. I'm much more concerned that students are unfairly and undeservingly having to be taught by poor teachers than about whether some teacher, somewhere, might unfairly lose his or her job and have to go look for a new one, like the rest of us working stiffs.

          •  Exactly. That's what I don't understand from (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            politicalget, princss6

            folks on this site. Yes, teachers and unions are precious and important, but not at the expense of the children!!

            I saw Randi Weingarten on Larry King Live a few weeks back and I wasn't impressed at all. To be fair, that's the only interview I've seen with her, so I won't make a solid judgement on that. But I just kept hearing in what she said that the status quo was just fine and she didn't seem like someone who was willing to rock the boat and shake things up. Frankly, that's what's needed!!

            We are producing a nation of dummies!! That's not going to work out long term. It's not working out right now. Part of the reason why the poor, uneducated, overly religious in the south vote for folks like Chambliss, and those other GOP idiots is because they have been dumbed down in our schools. They are uninformed, and unable to analyze data in an effective manner. That effects the economy, politics, foreign policty, etc.

            I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

            by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:48:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Very few Georgia teachers are union (17+ / 0-)

              We just laugh when we see teachers' unions blamed for problems in education.

              I live and work in a high-poverty district that's regularly bashed by local newspapers and realtors. I am awe of almost all my colleagues. They're incredibly talented, dedicated, and hard-working. Most could make better money elsewhere but prefer to teach.

              All the elementary and middle schools made AYP this year after summer school retests. (The CRCT is give in April, not May, and there's usually about a month's worth of school left after testing. Tell me, what adults would agree to be evaluated on the basis of tests given before the material is actually taught, according to the curriculum? What we do to children is unconscionable.)

              Like most things, teaching improves with experience and effective professional development. When it doesn't, schools do have difficulty getting rid of teachers, even in the absence of unions. The difficulty is risk-averse administrators and boards who are afraid of being sued. But teachers know who needs to find work elsewhere and who doesn't. They make our lives harder, and we would like to see them gone too. However, they are a very small number.

              Bashing the unions is nonsensical when their absence in the South changes little except teachers usually have fewer rights.

              Poverty is a challenge to student learning, along with the nation's incarceration rate. This doesn't mean teachers who teach in high-poverty schools don't believe their kids can learn. It just means they know they will end up working harder to reach children worried about their families' situations. We don't use it as an excuse. In a recent survey of our students, over 90% of respondents stated that their teachers believed they could learn, and we do.

              •  Some thoughts on your comment....... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                princss6

                I haven't once bashed teachers unions on this site. Not once. So I don't have a clue what's got everyones knickers in a twist!  LOL

                My daughter taught for three years in the roughest school in town, and here's what I wrote to someone else on this site about that experience:

                "Prior to taking over her classes, she just observed the current teacher for a few days. The teacher was showing the kids how to do algebra problems incorrectly. The teacher was a history major teaching math! Amazing!! My daughter had 30-35 kids per class, 5 classes per day. She said approx 50% of the kids were 1-4 grade levels behind where they should be. The kids lived in foster homes, group homes, they were abused, abusive, tired, pregnant, sad, etc, etc..... She told me stories sometimes that literally had us both in tears. It's heart wrenching to think that these young people, whose big crime in life was to be born, are getting pushed through the system without being adequately educated and outfitted with the necessary tools to deal with life.

                Then they get pumped out or drop out somewhere along the line and because they aren't employable find themselves in prison and in trouble. It's such a waste.

                The whole education situation needs to be corrected from the bottom up. That includes teachers, class size, making sure students are fed and rested, having P.E. and music and art, and aligning a curriculum based on the students interests, etc, etc, etc, etc...... It's not a single issue problem to be sure.

                My daughter lasted three years. She didn't plan on teaching, just fell into it because she had a math degree and the school district was desperate. But she had to go, it was too stressful. The Principal was great, but aside from that there just isn't enough back-up, tutors, etc. The kids are frequently on their own, and the teachers are in large part as well. That was her experience."

                Despite all that, most of the kids really liked her. She was only a few years older than them and she's a goof ball.   :)    She also made a pact with them at the beginning of every year. She offered to stay after school ANY DAY a student wanted it and tutor them one on one to get them up to snuff, or through a rough patch, etc. Lots took her up on it, and as a result get up to speed, and stayed there.

                BTW---my hat is off to you BIG time for the VERY valuable job that you do!! These kids are capable of learning, but good grief, they have some knocks against them that make it difficult to overcome.

                The country really needs a reality adjustment on priorities!!!!

                My daughter went to a very expensive private school. When she and her classmates graduated and gave their speech it brought tears to folks eyes. These kids one for one thanked their parents for the sacrifice they made to send them to this school, talked about the colleges they were off to, how bright the future was for them. It was so clear that the world was their oyster, that they were smart, competent, and had the tools to go out in life. I remember watching all this and thinking, my god, if every child graduated from school in that frame of mind it would change the whole world. Literally.

                What you do is so valuable. Thank you!

                I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 01:11:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Read between the lines (12+ / 0-)

            Where, for example, is the proof that the LA dismissals overturned were actually justified dismissals? Do you believe it because it's in the LA Times? You're making the implicit assumption that unions are protecting bad teachers, and there's no evidence to support that in the quote you're providing - it's an editorial judgment, not fact. It's just as likely (more likely, IMO) that the paper is protecting incompetent administrators.

            And yeah, I'd believe that 80% of teachers get dismissed for non-classroom stuff - everything from pedophilia to drunken driving, mental health problems and similar stuff. Probably homosexuality or out-of-wedlock pregnancy if you go back far enough or look at more conservative districts even today. That's the low hanging fruit. Administrators have the proof handed to them.

            I've watched administrators take the time to do in-class evaluations as part of a dismissal. It took maybe 5 hours of an administrator's time. The union insisted on due process - they didn't oppose the dismissal, and it happened. They also wouldn't have opposed a couple of other dismissals in our building, but the administrators thought it was too much work, both to build the case and hire a replacement (this was community college level - I doubt lower grade levels are much different).

            When I taught, my cubicle was directly across the hall from my department chair (who no longer taught). Every semester, like clockwork, students would come in as a group and complain about the same instructor. Teachers complained about getting his unprepared students in a following semester, so he was shifted to courses which had no follow-on course. My wife was one of his students, so I had to listen to her bitch about him for two semesters (and he still comes up 30 years later). Our union steward would have backed up his dismissal because she heard so many complaints about him (and she went on to head the state teacher's union, so it's not like she was a exceptional case at our school).

            As far as I know, he finally retired from teaching a few years ago.

            Explain to me how that's the union's fault.

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

            by badger on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:50:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with almost everything you write. (5+ / 0-)

          My point is small on unions and teachers, and BIG on a FULL RE-VAMP of the education system in this country.

          We've got a huge problem, and it will require huge changes in our operating basis. Teachers and unions are just a part of it.

          Classe sizes are too big. Kids come to school hungry and tired. Hard to expect someone with a math degree who has 30,000 - 50,000 in student loans to work for a starting salary in the 20,000's in some states. How about taking the Middle school and High school students and have them indicate what field they might want to work in, or what interests them. Then taylor part of their curriculum to include study, field trips, projects relating to those areas? I mean there are sooooo many things that could and MUST be done to get this sorted out.

          I've read articles that talk about how difficult it can be to get rid of a teacher that is not getting the job done. That needs to change. No matter the cause. So I do dispute your thoughts on that.

          I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

          by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:23:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  EVERYONE READ LUCY'S POST (4+ / 0-)

            We've got a huge problem, and it will require huge changes in our operating basis. Teachers and unions are just a part of it.

            That encapsulates it perfectly.  The system is broken.  The unions are one of the reasons why it is broken, at least in many districts (including many of the nation's largest school systems).  I haven't seen anyone here blame the problems entirely on unions or tenure, but stubbornly refusing to admit that they are a part of the problem is foolish.

            Preaching to the choir and then shooting them when they don't sing loud enough isn't a good strategy for increasing the size of the congregation.

            by Matisyahu on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:25:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  yet...people will persist in doing it nt (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lucy2009

              the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

              by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:01:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  well, couldn't you say that in ALL endeavors? (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, Mlle L, Tonedevil, m00finsan

              Being a small PART of a problem ( and i won't even really concede this readily ) is different from being blamed as the CAUSE of the problem...and in any case  I don't even agree public schools are in crisis. Go read David Berliner's work. Much of the international comparisons are donkey doo.

              •  Hahahahaha (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                edtastic, princss6, Lucy2009

                Being a small PART of a problem ( and i won't even really concede this readily )

                The fact that you won't even concede that they are a small part of the problem says it all.

                Preaching to the choir and then shooting them when they don't sing loud enough isn't a good strategy for increasing the size of the congregation.

                by Matisyahu on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:29:26 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  So what? (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mlle L, wsexson, Tonedevil, m00finsan

                  I don't think they really are...and I base that on 22 years in both private and public schools, and both as a teacher and nonteacher. It's like blaming the UAW because GM used to produce a shit car....the UAW didn't design the car...and the unions do not design the schools ( they most certainly do not, I can tell you that for sure ) go ahead and laugh. i don't care.

                  •  You can't use your non-teacher part... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Lucy2009

                    that is a non-teacher-free zone.  Only teachers and their spouses are allowed to comment and never have their credibility or biases questioned.  So I'm going to need you to parse out the non-teacher part of your input.  K thanx bye

                    the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                    by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 10:19:16 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Do you also disbelieve that in So Cal, NY and (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Matisyahu, princss6

                other parts of the country that minorities are dropping out at the rates of 50-60%?

                These are actual statistics. It's not opinion.

                Is that not a crisis to you? Considering that minorities are going to be the majorities in a few decades, is that not quite alarming?

                I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 01:35:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You want answers... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Lucy2009

                  blame the parents - oh, probably don't need to print that as it is all over this thread.  lol

                  the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                  by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 10:20:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •   :) Exactly. The same system that failed the (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    princss6

                    parents education, is now going to blame those parents for being the cause of their childrens failed education?? I don't think so!!  

                    Education is one of the single biggest things we can do for a child to ensure happiness, health, productivity, and prosperity. We as a society have to step up and educate children whether the parents are available/interested/or able to help or not. Otherwise, this just continues to snow ball, pick up momentum and become a bigger problem.

                    What's with the folks on this thread? Overwhelmingly they seem hostile to anything other than the status quo?

                    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

                    by Lucy2009 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:36:39 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Doesn't take long to see that... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Lucy2009

                      completely, unequivocally agree with your comment.  Want to end poverty, start with a quality education for the impoverished.  

                      the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                      by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:46:30 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  Competely, enthusiastically agree nt (0+ / 0-)

        the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

        by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:59:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why are unions blamed while pointing to Finland? (8+ / 0-)

        Look, The more unionized states outperform the less unionized states in the US and the top performing nations on international tests are all unionized. There is no data to support the blaming of unions for educational "failure."

        •  So there aren't any (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lucy2009

          outstanding students in non-union states?  In unionized states, there aren't any non-union teachers elevating their students' achievements?

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:03:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Equally sad... (0+ / 0-)

      to see right wing talking points about poor parents and their kids from Kossacks.

      the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

      by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:57:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You can't discount parents, no matter (6+ / 0-)

        how much we might want to.

        I saw a talking head on the teevee point out that many parents who put their kids into private school are buying the parents just as much as, if not more so, than the education.  Parents who give a shit produce better students.  You can't argue with that.

        And for every feel-good story we see or hear about that one kid that overcame a life of poverty to succeed, there are 1,000 that do not.

        The problems go much deeper than just our education system, and always have.  Poverty, generational poverty, is the main culprit.  Finding the answer to that has proven difficult for 50 years now.

        •  Yes I can and will :) (0+ / 0-)

          Parents who give a shit produce better students.  You can't argue with that.

          I keep saying it, if we accept the premise that kids who have parents that seek out charter and private school are the most engaged and give a "shit" then what happens to these kids that don't get into charters or kicked out of private schools.  I guess it is all peachy keen where they were.  I guess that is why the parents wanted them out of the public school, right.

          Generational poverty is a symptom of the problem and we can't find the answer because we refuse to address the problem which education.

          And for every feel-good story we see or hear about that one kid that overcame a life of poverty to succeed, there are 1,000 that do not.

          Exactly and why is that...based on your logic it is because all 1,000 of them had parents that didn't give a shit, no?

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:31:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  hold on..I'm a social worker (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, edtastic, princss6, m00finsan

            I've seen parents who give a shit plenty...and the kids are still problematic. It isn't all parenting; there are some really angry kids out there, and it isn't all due to mommy and daddy. Having said that, parents who care give their kids a much better shot at overcoming problems. Much better.

            •  Much better...l (0+ / 0-)

              not absolutely better.  I completely agree.  Which would lead one to believe that guess what if a kid is bad, a poor learner, not educated it isn't ALWAYS the parents fault.  Getting someone to admit on here...I always that that was a rightwing talking point but I've been duly chastened.  I thought progressives looked to systemic problems but lol, not so much around here.

              the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

              by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:53:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  that makes no sense (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, m00finsan

            if their parents are engaged, they will remain engaged even if they don't get into the all-important 'charter school', and that by itself is the most likely factor in producing a good outcome for a student. parental involvement - #1 factor, blowing all others away. in terms of real ability to learn and think critically, anyway. in terms of social status & success and all that, yes, fancy schools help with that somewhat, but the real opportunities therein are largely already reserved for the already socially & financially well-off. its not like charter schools even out class disparity on the whole, or even have the basic intention of doing so.

            •  Hmm.. (0+ / 0-)

              if their parents are engaged, they will remain engaged even if they don't get into the all-important 'charter school', and that by itself is the most likely factor in producing a good outcome for a student. parental involvement

              Nope, it isn't playing out that way.  Sorry, but I agree they will stay engaged and guess what they will be poorly served by their neighborhood schools.  Precisely my point.  

              On the flip side, do you think every suburban parent in decent schools is super engaged?

              the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

              by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 11:45:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  And here is the scary thing (48+ / 0-)

    The film is intellectually dishonest.

    This intellectually dishonest film is being heavily promoted by Democrats all the way up to the WH and the Secretary of Education.

    Who knew?

    "Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book - you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem." - Senator Obama, 9-16-2008

    by justmy2 on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:31:38 PM PDT

  •  Great diary, Ken. (25+ / 0-)

    As someone who has a 10-year-old daughter that has been in an extremely successful public school since kindergarten (her school was profiled in Newsweek, and her principal was given the Colorado Principal of the Year award a few years ago), I have to say that this documentary was extremely disturbing to me on its face.

    Subsequent knowledge has confirmed this immediate and reactionary belief. There is no way in hell I could watch it, unless I wanted to throw various vegetables at the TV screen.

    A week ago, I visited with a good friend of mine who is a die-hard conservative. She had very little good to say about the public education system in CO (or in our country). Her complaints were mainly long and strange, but I tried plying her with standard questions, such as, "What is it that you don't like?" or, "How do you feel the system could be remedied/helped?"

    Sadly, she had no answers for me. Not surprising, but certainly depressing.

    We got into it one day while talking about teachers' unions. She insisted to me that bad teachers were protected by these "disgusting" unions. I asked her if she sincerely felt that 1 out of 100 teachers being bad were horrible odds, and she informed me that she did think they were horrible odds.

    I asked, "Well, everyone is fucked up, to some extent. Do you expect everyone, including teachers, to be infallible and perfect?"

    She chose not to answer the question.

    This woman is a devoted wife and mother, and I can say from a good amount of experience with just her personally (as well as her extended family), she is simply a wonderful person. As much as I've tried to amend her crazy thoughts in this department, I've been nothing but unsuccessful.

    Any info or advice would be welcome here. I'd really like to know how to approach her without seeming too over-the-top or hurtful.

    Thanks. :)

    •  Good luck. (9+ / 0-)

      I am in Texas and work with people who will NEVER make $250,000, have bad insurance or none at all, and yet fall completely for the talking points of Fox news.  Any time I point out facts, they glaze over and call me a crazy liberal.  They don't want to think differently, because they think God is a Republican.  

    •  I like what you are doing (10+ / 0-)

      I will give you a counterpoint that may be helpful.

      In our local district, like others in California, we were facing great financial uncertainty and significant cuts.

      Based on that, the district told the teachers that for 10-11, they would need to cut the school year to 175 days from 180, as other districts nearby have done. The district also cut in-service days.

      The teachers, who had been to the budget meetings, got together, voted, and presented a counteroffer. They would work the 180 days and they would pay the equivalent of those 9 days back to the district by increasing their share towards the benefit package - ie, they would work them for free. The support staff (custodians, aides etc) made a similar offer, and the administrators did it as well.

      This is not a deal that could have been done with individual teachers. It was something that only could have been done within the structure of the unions.

      These teachers know they will be teaching these kids next year and the year after. They know they will be held accountable for what they know. They felt, as we all did, that it was penny wise and pound foolish to do the furloughs. And they acted, as a group, in the interest of the kids, education, and their own satisfaction and success.

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

      by elfling on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:04:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh boy... (0+ / 0-)

        you can't point stuff out like that...you will be accused of wanting teachers to work for free.

        the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

        by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 04:09:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There is no question that (0+ / 0-)

          the teachers expect that they will get raises when the district is financially able to do so, and rightly so.

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

          by elfling on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:19:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No... (0+ / 0-)

            I pointed out that one of the teachers at my child's former school went without pay on several occasions.  I was then accused (more than once) of wanting teachers to work for free.  

            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

            by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:04:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  When teachers in one town in NJ (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, blueoasis, m00finsan

        did this last year, the town turned around and used the savings for other things. So I'm glad my local, villified on WWOR and Steve Malzberg in NYC for not offering to freeze salaries, stood its ground and held to the contract.

  •  I don't even know what to say about this kind of (37+ / 0-)

    thing anymore.  It's fucking depressing and so short-sighted.  Teachers are being turned into corporate job trainers.  What makes it doubly stupid is that 15-20 years from now, there won't be enough cubicle jobs to take them all.  Teach kids how to learn, how to think critically, let them hold onto their natural curiosity, and they'll find a way to pay the bills.  They'll contribute to society.  What we're setting them up for right now is just cruel.

    We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet. -Stephen Hawking

    by satanicpanic on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:40:36 PM PDT

  •  Second verse, same as the first... (47+ / 0-)

    ...a little bit louder and a little bit worse.

    The solutions to education's myriad problems aren't going to be solved by more drill-and-kill, more high stakes tests, more fads and more "teacher-proof" curriculum.

    The solution is way more expensive than I think parents are willing to pay for. It's way smaller classes, it's child-centered learning, it's recognizing which intelligences a child is strong in and teaching to their strengths. It's bringing back shop and arts and music and letting kids try lots of things to see if they "click" with an interest that can become a niche in life. It's about restructuring society so that there are rewarding jobs that pay a living wage that people can go into straight out of high school.

    Really, there are no easy fixes. Superman ain't coming. There are as many crummy charters and private schools as there are crummy public schools. Our schools are a symptom of a larger sickness in society.

    The next OneCare Happy Hour will be 10/29/10 -- come in costume!
    The Village loves the people having their say, when they say what they want them to.

    by Pris from LA on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:41:24 PM PDT

  •  As a former inner city school teacher for (56+ / 0-)

    almost 40 years, I agree with everything you said here.  I had at least half of my kids living in foster homes, group homes or homeless shelters. They are poor, they have no resources, they are exposed to crime and death and intimidation,  some of my kids actually saw their mothers taken away while cooking dinner, others had fathers or siblings in jail or dead.  I could tell stories that would make you cry for days... I did. You need a strong heart and a real dedication to teach under these conditions, where the standards keep being raised, but not the money, where they cut music and art and civics, and all electives, flunking them in all subjects for 5 days out without a doctors note, when some of them are taking care of their drug addicted mothers.

    Solution:  you need a social worker for every 10-12 kids in the school, to visit the homes, advocate and intervene where necessary and to just listen to these kids, who rarely have the chance to talk to adults about what they are going through. You need small classes with a teacher's aide in each class.  You need comprehensive high schools, where a kid can join the band, or the drama group, or the mock trial team, or the debating team, or the choir, or the school newspaper, or sports teams. You need to let good teachers do what they do best -teach, and not force them into some rigid business model, which demoralizes both the teachers and the students.

    I had lots of kids who came to my school from charter schools because they didn't like them. I used to love teaching, and by the way the drop out rate for new teachers is 50% in the first three years. Duh. That should tell you something.  I can say it took me ten years to be good, 20 to be really good and 30 to be excellent. All the time, the administration was on my back, trying to get rid of me because the longer i worked, the better I got, the more money I made, and they could hire two first year teachers for the price of me. I had a Masters and was working on a second, when I broke my ankle and foot and was unable walk or stand for more than a few minutes for over a year. If the system could have made allowances, for me, I could have continued, but no, so I retired. Some 35 year old  administrator who had never taught was deciding my fate, and more importantly the fate of these kids.

    Fact is, no one listens to teachers. They look down on them. I don't know if it will change. I hope so.

    •  Great comment jonnie rae. My daughter taught (9+ / 0-)

      in a public high school that was in a rough part of town, and she experienced exactly what you are talking about.

      Prior to taking over her classes, she just observed the current teacher for a few days. The teacher was showing the kids how to do algebra problems incorrectly. The teacher was a history major teaching math! Amazing!! My daughter had 30-35 kids per class, 5 classes per day. She said approx 50% of the kids were 1-4 grade levels behind where they should be. The kids lived in foster homes, group homes, they were abused, abusive, tired, pregnant, sad, etc, etc..... She told me stories sometimes that literally had us both in tears. It's heart wrenching to think that these young people, whose big crime in life was to be born, are getting pushed through the system without being adequately educated and outfitted with the necessary tools to deal with life.

      Then they get pumped out or drop out somewhere along the line and because they aren't employable find themselves in prison and in trouble. It's such a waste.

      The whole education situation needs to be corrected from the bottom up. That includes teachers, class size, making sure students are fed and rested, having P.E. and music and art, and aligning a curriculum based on the students interests, etc, etc, etc, etc...... It's not a single issue problem to be sure.

      My daughter lasted three years. She didn't plan on teaching, just fell into it because she had a math degree and the school district was desperate. But she had to go, it was too stressful. The Principal was great, but aside from that there just isn't enough back-up, tutors, etc. The kids are frequently on their own, and the teachers are in large part as well. That was her experience.

      I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

      by Lucy2009 on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:19:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lucy, yes. hungry. I used to keep cookies (4+ / 0-)

        and crackers in my filing cabinet.  Many of the kids, mostly males, already had ulcers. They knew they could go and get a cracker or cookie if their stomach hurt. Of course, I got in trouble for this. No eating in the classroom. So I would tell them to just step out in the hall quietly and eat it. You have to solve one problem before you can deal with the next. A child with hunger pangs is not going to learn. A child whose mom left the family last week is not going to learn. I can go on and on. But your remarks were great. What can we do, though? nobody listens.

        •  Oh jonnie, you are so right. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          emal, jonnie rae, princesspat

          The changes needed are structural and many. Wouldn't it be nice if you had the time, and help in the class as a teacher to actually figure out why a student was having troubles? Sit down with them and do an interview. Are they hungry, tired, abused, upset, on drugs....or is it just simply that they don't understand something that was taught three days ago, and hence, can't get what is being taught today! Can't very well do division if you don't know how to add/subtract well.

          Wouldn't it be nice if the millionairs and billionaires in this country donated a bit of that wealth to students? Hired tutors for classrooms, paid for medical care that was needed so students could study, made sure they had a HEALTHY breakfast/lunch/dinner everyday. Hired music/phys ed/art teachers. It would be an interesting experiment to take a low performing school, and do just those few things and see what difference it made at the end of the year. I have a sneaking suspicion that alone would make a huge change.

          The kids who have difficult home circumstances would respond well to basic attention and care like that at school, don't you think? Maybe school could be a safe haven, and interesting place students would want to be instead of one more damn thing that they are forced to do in life.

          I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

          by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:11:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Imagine this - (4+ / 0-)

          we have 5 lunch periods, the first starting at 10:15.  Now imagine you are on free and reduced lunch.  You perhaps get a free breakfast at school at around 7:30 or 8.  You get lunch a bit after ten.  Now you have to go until 3:10 when school dismisses.  Think that might cause some interfering with learning?

          "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:38:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes. Some of the things that need to be changed (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jonnie rae, princss6, princesspat

            are so simple and obvious.

            Why is something that obvious so difficult to change?

            If this country wants an educated populous, then they will have to put a bit more effort into making it happen. If these kids are hungry and poor, then we HAVE to feed them...period. There is no other answer.

            I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

            by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:10:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Except... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lucy2009

          my school district provides free lunch and breakfast.  The kids aren't going into the classroom hungry, yet they still aren't learning.  My city even provides free lunch and breakfast in the summer.  Some systemic problems have been addressed.  Not every kid failed by schools are hungry, have massive catastrophic issues (my kid has had his share - still thriving academically) or unengaged parents.

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 10:28:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep. When my kid came home from college (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            princss6

            during the summer, she worked at a tutoring center that charged 50.00/hr for tutoring. So the kids coming in were from well to do families in up-scale areas of LA County.

            She told me so many stories of jr high, or high school kids that were totally confused about the basics of math....forget algebra! She also found numerous instances where the kids were bungled-up because the teacher was showing them how to do algebraic problems incorrectly, and there was NO way they would ever get the correct answer using the formula taught!!!! These are kids in Burbank (one of the best school districts in LA County), LaCrscenta, etc, etc.... Wow.....

            I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

            by Lucy2009 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 01:35:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jonnie rae

      I had lots of kids who came to my school from charter schools because they didn't like them.

      There goes the self-selection bias argument.

      the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

      by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 04:14:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not sure I understand? Charter schools are (4+ / 0-)

        able to self-select in many ways. I've written before of our experiences in Florida with my 3 children, 2 of whom have special needs. We were told by two different charter schools that they "could not support" my children with autism. We've also seen in Georgia that the so-called "best" charter schools are summarily full and require lotteries every year. How the hell are charters improving education when you have to literally win the lottery to attend? And then for outcomes that are often no better and sometimes worse than in the public realm?

        "Just because Gordon Gecko is back doesn't mean greed is good again." - Bill Maher

        by angstall on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:50:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm referring to (2+ / 0-)

          the criticism that where charters are outperforming public schools, it is due to super motivated parents who had enough gumption to go out and seek out better schools for their kids.  The self-selection bias is touted as one reason charters do better because of highly motivated parents.  But it appears that some are also self-seleting back into public school, so is there really a self-selection bias?  I say no for several reasons...not all parents that want out are successful in getting out and some opt back in.  It isn't mutually exclusive as some want to put forth.

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:57:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  well, most teachers also leave charter schools (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis, aliasalias, princss6

            few want to remain in them. why? lousy work conditions, low pay, and lack ofunion representation. But we could stop all this bickering if just did what Colema suggested in the 60's ( Coleman was the first to show Catholic schools did a better job, though his research was later debunked ) and that is to fund all schools to the hilt; throw money at them, private and public. People always forget that when they talk about Coleman...

          •  What about where public schools outperform (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis, jonnie rae, m00finsan

            charters? Wouldn't that be a simpler explanation for the case where a parent take a kid out of the charter and returns to public school? A lot of charters don't have better scores than public schools...

            "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:48:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Anything is possible... (0+ / 0-)

              I think it could be a series of factors.

              the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

              by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:57:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  You captured the essence of the entire issue. nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      satanicpanic, m00finsan

      I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by Blue Knight on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:19:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  and ANOTHER great comment (6+ / 0-)

      so many good comments here...

      You need to let good teachers do what they do best -teach, and not force them into some rigid business model, which demoralizes both the teachers and the students.

      So true...

      "Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does all the work." ~Mark Twain

      by Lady Libertine on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:45:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well I'm a school social worker... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, Matt Z, Betty Pinson, m00finsan

      guess who was first to go after Chris Christie's cuts?

  •  Ken, glad you saw the film so I don't have to. (14+ / 0-)

    I am saving the money for "Race to Nowehere".

    On some blog, I read that WfS is not doing well though Bill Gates has allotted 2 million for its "promotion". I should admit I don't know how to read the numbers in the link. Will the Obama bounce lift it up ?

    I wish the WfS kids well. But very curious to know more about their background. How much are their parents involved in their ed , for example.

    Obama could do well to receive students from schools in poor communities or those which need maintenance. You know, like these :
    http://www.nj.com/...
    These kids are not waiting for superman, but just for someone human - who will pay attention to their problems. They went online with their protest on  Zuckerberg's Facebook (irony alert ?).

    And Obama could receive children whose homes have been foreclosed by the big banks. Or those children who are poor , on food stamps etc .

    •  an admn. that flirted with cutting Food Stamps ? (0+ / 0-)

      without the ants the rainforest dies

      by aliasalias on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 11:39:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This may be naive, but.... (0+ / 0-)

      Where is President Obama's outrage?  Doesn't he want the same quality education for all American kids that his daughters enjoy at Sidwell Friends?  I'll bet they're not focused on test preparation because their teachers are being evaluated based on the kids' scores.  I bet they have music, art, drama and dance, a great library, and wide-ranging extra-curricular activities.  

      If he wanted for his own children what he and Arne Duncan seem to want for everyone else's children, that would be one thing. But he clearly doesn't.

      I was and am an Obama supporter, but this really bothers me.  Talk the talk and walk the walk.  If test prep is a bad use of the First Family's time, then why should we be so invested in it for other families?

  •  Just To Be Fair..... (5+ / 0-)

    Here's Geoffrey Canada's response, in an op-ed for the New York Daily News, to some of the criticisms raised in the diary:

    At our Promise Academy II public charter school, the guarantee is taking shape: On statewide exams, the students did better than the schools in the district (with 81% on or above grade level in math compared with 21%-52% in other public schools, and 62% on grade level in English, compared with 12%-49% in other public schools), and our students - predominantly African-American and Latino - performed better than or on par with white students statewide.

    Critics have charged that we are spending outsized amounts on our students. While the city spends about $14,500 per pupil in traditional public schools, we spend about $16,000 on our public charter schools. That $1,500 gets us a 30% longer school year and added teacher support. More importantly, that $1,500 comes with a guarantee that we will not fail.

    We have only been operating public charter schools for six years, but we have begun to see what is possible for poor children in a high-quality school setting. And I guarantee our schools will get stronger.

    Our Promise Academy I students exceeded the district performance in math (by more than 20 percentage points in some grades), but our sixth-graders struggled in English, which has been seized upon by critics as "proof" that our school, and charters in general, don't work. However, our experience has shown that it takes several years to get students who are massively behind up to grade level. Our current charter high-schoolers are passing their Regents exams at higher rates than the state overall, and they arrived at our middle school way below grade level.

    •  except he does not mention 1st cohort (16+ / 0-)

      which was completely dismissed.

      "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:51:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Don't Know Whether..... (4+ / 0-)

        .....Canada's system is good, bad, or makes no difference. I'm not an expert in education, and I don't claim to be.

        However, I do find it odd to claim that we should judge an endeavor, especially something that could be called experimental, on "Year One." And because the first cohort didn't work out, that somehow means that Canada couldn't have "worked out the kinks" and have a school parents are proud to send their kids to.

        •  he made his guarantee to parents of 1st cohort (21+ / 0-)

          then after TWO years, not one, dismissed the entire cohort.

          His track record since is not as rosy as he makes it.

          And he wants people to believe his success is because he can fire teachers at will without a union, not because he has two teachers in a class of 15 high school students and has wrap around services that kids and teachers and families in most urban schools would die for.

          "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:14:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, he's obviously doing something right. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            theran, serrano, princss6

            And if he thinks firing poor teachers helps educate students, then I say more power to him.

            Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

            by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:30:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What he's "doing right" (18+ / 0-)

              is what we as educators are constantly begging for: give us the frickin' resources to be able to do the jobs we are trying to do.

              Give me a class size limit of 24 -- I don't even need it to be 15. Give my students wraparound services. Give me more teaching days. Do those things -- plus give me a reasonable amount of paid time for the many, many hours per week I have to put in on planning and collaborating and grading and getting to know my students and communicating with them and their parents -- and I will do even better than the excellent results that I'm already getting, even without being given any of those things.

              And until you give me the same things they have, and until they are required to teach any student who comes in the door, stop comparing my results with theirs.

              "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

              by NWTerriD on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:14:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  How many LD kids got to charters? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                blueoasis, XerTeacher

                anyone got those numbers? A lot of LD kids are sent off to private schools for the disabled at the school district's expense.The cost? Well, one school for autism in NJ, which receives public funding, still charges 100k for tuition....other charge only 40 k. this does not inlcude the costs for busing, speech, OTor PT...it usually includes the cost of social workers though, they come cheap...

                •  privateers never mention this, since it goes (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  emal, blueoasis, XerTeacher, m00finsan

                  against their agenda.  They can refuse these kids, they are not required to offer alternative solutions, and they ignore the reality of this ever-increasing population---while public schools are forced to spend tremendous amounts of money educating them.  But the charters and privates don't have to worry about it at all.  

              •  Key point Needs to be repeated (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Matt Z, XerTeacher, NWTerriD, m00finsan

                And until you give me the same things they have, and until they are required to teach any student who comes in the door, stop comparing my results with theirs.

                Exactly, they're somehow allowed to compare apples to oranges and then allowed to idiotically say the differences that occur and that are all for the better are because there are no unions and bad teachers can be fired.

                WTF?

                Until charter schools  are required to teach any student that comes in through their door as all public schools are required, then the whole comparison for better or worse is foolish. And that is only one variable of many, that needs to be taken into account.

                We can't let them get away with the comparison and their subsequent union blame game.

                "Children are our most valuable natural resource." -- Herbert Hoover

                by emal on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:02:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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

                  public schools aren't teaching every kid that comes through their doors.  Kids graduating high school and reading on an elementary school level, that's teaching, huh?

                  Just ignore that charters are doing better with minority and ELL students.  Well, not surprised, they've never counted anyway.  Until the coveted middle class does better than it isn't a success, right?

                  the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                  by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 10:33:45 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Oversimplified to the point of absurdity nt (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, blueoasis, aliasalias

              "Just because Gordon Gecko is back doesn't mean greed is good again." - Bill Maher

              by angstall on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:53:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  His $1600 figure (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg, blueoasis, NWTerriD, angstall

            doesn't account for the extras or the facilities, etc.

        •  because in education (4+ / 0-)

          no idea is ever really given enough time to even fail....charter schools are the flavor of the month. I've been through a few; open classrooms, whole school reform, ITIP, alternate route teachers, school based management, Little Red School House, Schools Attuned, school "families" and on and on....the only difference is that charters are a more direct assault on the teaching profession ( they will further degrade a profession not known for being well-paying ). I saw the danger of charters 20 years ago when they were first touted as a way of softening the voucher resistance; i said way back then that charters would be a bigger threat to public education than vouchers ( because the voucher schools mostly sucked and were on life support anyway ) and no one believed me. Fact is, the vast majority of people want their kids locally in their neighborhood schools. They want good teachers. They don't necessarily want well paid ones ( we all want things on the cheap, let's face it ) but most don't want their kids trucked out of the neighborhood to some small school where they have to commit to whatever it is that school thinks is appropriate.

          •  I thought charters advertised themselves (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis, leftangler

            as experimental laboratories that would find what works and what doesn't, the implication being that successful teaching strategies could be ported over to traditional schools. Obviously that idea went nowhere...

            "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:56:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  that was the original idea - (0+ / 0-)

              but it certainly doesn't apply in a chain with say 60 or more schools using a cookie-cutter curriculum.

              "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:39:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  He also doesn't mention (12+ / 0-)

        the kids in public schools who are habitually absent and off task, who would have been dismissed from the charter school either openly or quietly counseled out.  Public schools test all students and I have seen some students bubble in a lot of answers because the state test doesn't really affect them or have consequences until the final one required for graduation.  

        •  He doesn't mention either this fact... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, m00finsan

          Parent/guardians who send their children to charter schools are invested in their kids educational experience. Children who receive psycho/emotional support from their parent/guardians are at a distinct advantage over their peers who do not receive such developmental benefits.
          TeacherKen has covered this topic earlier, but it is definitely overlooked by MSM when they bash public schools.

          Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

          by semioticjim on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:26:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Because that is a false premise... (0+ / 0-)

            Parent/guardians who send their children to charter schools are invested in their kids educational experience.

            So the kids that don't get in to the charters, their parents' suddently are not invested in their educationaly experience?

            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

            by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 11:00:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You twist my words... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              emal, blueoasis, XerTeacher, m00finsan

              Of course not. I send my kids to public schools and I am and always have been involved. But I know there are parents whose children attend my kids public school who are not involved and quite frankly are depending on the public school to parent their kids.

              The public schools deserve credit for doing one helluva job with everyone's kids. The kids who's parents give a damn and those that don't.

              What I see is this: Policymakers and critics don't give public schools credit where credit is due, while going out of their way to prop up charters and wage a propaganda war against public education.

              Maybe you should read this.

              Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

              by semioticjim on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:22:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Exactly my point... (0+ / 0-)

                But I know there are parents whose children attend my kids public school who are not involved and quite frankly are depending on the public school to parent their kids.

                The bs meme that inner city schools are failing because of lack of parental involvement is a farce as evidenced by the same levels of involvement in the burbs.  yet the kids in the burbs have a decidedly better achievement outcome than those in the inner city and it isn't because of parental involvement as you pointed out.

                the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 10:36:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Why did President Obama's grandmother send him to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kidspeak, debedb, Pris from LA

    … Punahou School rather than a Honolulu public school (probably Stevenson and Roosevelt)?

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

    by lotlizard on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:48:13 PM PDT

    •  Probably because all the good (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      not this time, m00finsan

      Kenyan private schools were full.

      What's your point?

      •  The Hawaii elite should fix the public schools. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, Pris from LA, m00finsan

        Not just be satisfied that they can personally evade the issue by sending their own kids to Punahou, Kamehameha, Iolani, St. Louis, etc.

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

        by lotlizard on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:12:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They should "fix" the schools? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          citizen k, Tonedevil, serrano, princss6

          Institutions like public school systems are much bigger than something a few determined "elites" can fix. As the experience in DC shows, the school systems have a huge number of stakeholders, many of whom are going to be resistant to changes that would make the schools desirable for middle class and upper middle class families to send their kids to. The option for most people whose local public schools are poor are to move or to send their kids to public schools. I can't blame the "Hawaii elite" for throwing up their hands and leaving the public schools to people who feel fine about the way they are: presumably in Hawaii public schools, many of the parents are happy with them, and the teachers are happy with them, and the school board members and principals who did much of the hiring are happy with them. You call for the elite to "fix" the public schools would inevitably overturn the apple cart and incur the ire of those who are satisfied with the status quo.

          As I said elsewhere in this thread: look what happened in DC-- nothing but sob stories from poor, put-upon school employees who had to go through the indignity of losing their jobs because they weren't very good at them, and upset parents and students unhappy that their shrinking schools were being closed and resentment that the school system was making an effort to attract and cater to the very elites you think should "fix" the schools.

          •  Is that why irate citiznes voted the mayor out? (5+ / 0-)

            because at least according to reports on NPR, the people were pissed at the Mayor and Rhee....who was a failure by the way. maybe next time the DC schools should select an actual superintendent with qualifications...

            •  The whole damn system is inadequate..... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, XerTeacher

              Sir Ken Robinson delicately makes a case for a paradigm shift in our educational system.

              I think we need to radically reform the reformers....

              Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

              by semioticjim on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:32:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  great video--many other good ones from them (0+ / 0-)

                Even the fact that school hours are based on the agricultural day is absurd.  Teenagers do not do their best thinking in the early morning hours--yet they are forced to perform then.  They no longer get up to milk the cows at 4 a.m.  

            •  and Rhee was taking claim (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              m00finsan

              for advances made under her predecessor, Clifford Janey, whom Fenty dumped.  You should read this by Colbert King in today's Washington Post for the details.

              "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:41:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The "elites" would disagree (0+ / 0-)

              I think if you looked at what DC "elites" -- analagous to the elites (ie, middle class and upper middle class parents who would otherwise move to the 'burbs or send their kids to private schools) in Hawaii -- wanted to do to improve the public schools in DC to the point where they would be adequate to send their own kids to, you would find that they were supportive of Fenty and Rhee. But there were constituencies that had a stake in the current system and resented changes that were being made. So who am I to blame them for deciding that it's not worth it for them to waste years of their lives -- and using their children as guinea pigs in this experiment -- to try to "fix" schools that have massive institutional resistance to being fixed?

  •  thank you Ken (21+ / 0-)

    I've been waiting for your detailed critique.  I am not in the least tempted to see this film.  And from the guy who made "An Inconvenient Truth," yet.  If Al Gore hadn't been involved with that movie, after "Waiting" I'd doubt the intellectual honesty of Guggenheim's presentation on global warming.

    As a teacher and supervisor for 20 years, I am really tired of hearing that "if only" you had great teachers and high expectations for kids, you can miraculously transform a school.  None of these supposed saviors actually talks about what works with kids who start kindergarten three years behind.

    I would take issue with your discussion of the difficulty of firing tenured teachers.  My experience is that it is extremely difficult to do so.  For example, I supervised and rated "U" a certifiably emotionally disturbed, but tenured  music teacher, who only ended up in another school.  I do think that tenure should be a longer period, and should be more difficult to attain.

    But it seems as though one "miracle" after another gets debunked -- The Texas "miracle" based on phony testing, that nonetheless led to NCLB.  The New York "miracle" of rising test scores that just this week was exposed as based on flawed tests.  And now, Canada's HCZ's failures are becoming evident.  (That is truly disturbing because it seemed, at least, like a real attempt to go after the community and family causes of kids' entering school so far behind.)

    And of course, a large part of the "crisis" itself is phony.  As Bob Somerby points out endlessly, black kids' scores on the NAEP have risen substantially in the last 12 years.  The "achievement gap" has not closed much because white kids' scores have also risen.  Schools and teachers are convenient scapegoats, trotted out as villains every 20 or so years, from Sputnik, to A Nation at Risk, to "Waiting for Superman."  But at least Sputnik led to public school financing.  This latest onslaught is a brief for privatization, and it's profoundly depressing to see liberals jumping on the bandwagon.

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:50:53 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the review, Ken! (14+ / 0-)

    After listening, as much as I could stand, to that NBC Education week presentation on the Nightly News, I had pretty much come to the same conclusion.  Seems like all they wanted to do was to blast teachers and unions and rah! rah! for charter schools.  Toward the end of the week I just changed the channel altogether, because it seemed to me the "powers" who were "putting on" this show had an agenda of wiping out public schools altogether. I did not like Canada.  At first I wanted to see the film.  Not any more.

    Thanks for the review...I suspected as much.  You just saved me a block of time.  Thanks for your informative and insightful diaries.

    "What, Me Worry?"...King George Walker Alfred Eusless Newman Bush

    by RantNRaven on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:51:28 PM PDT

  •  My kid's public school is awesome (13+ / 0-)

    Won several awards, years in a row.

    If there's one principle that defines the conservative movement, it's this tendency to spout big principles they personally have no interest in living by.

    by lawnorder on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:51:52 PM PDT

    •  I teach at a large, very good public school (19+ / 0-)

      just outside DC.  We have twice been a National BLue Ribbon School.  We have been a national School of Character.  Some of our students are awesome, some are more than a handful to control.

      The quality of our teaching staff is on the whole superb.

      And the recent attacks on teachers has our faculty mad, and the end result is a surge of activity in the union.

      "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:57:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  wealthy suburban school district (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PsychoSavannah, princss6

        those are often good schools. and that means poor people should be satisfied with dregs?

        •  Rose colored sun glassess indeed nt (0+ / 0-)

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 04:21:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  we are not a wealthy district by any means (9+ / 0-)

          I teach in Prince George's County MD.  Our district may be the wealthiest majority black political jurisdiction in the US, but are average income pales compared to that of surrounding jurisdictions like Montgomery, Howard, Fairfax, Arlington, etc.    Our district is 73% African-American.  We have schools that are over 70% Free and Reduced Lunch.   We have many of the characteristics of an urban district.

          And we are struggling for money.  First, the County cannot raise taxes without a referendum.  Second, even before the foreclosure process we had a high bankruptcy rate driving down property values.  This year we have lost positions, lost additional stipends, been furloughed ten days, not gotten step increases . . .  on top of that, next year we have to cut an additional $78 million dollars.  My own pay is down almost 8,000 from what it should be.  

          We are not a wealthy suburban district.  I have homeless students, I have an increasing number of students with one or both parents out of work.

          So your comment is totally out of line.

          And I have never said poor kids should not have better schools.  My objection to this administration's approach to national education policy is that it misdirects the resources it has in such a way that it is THOSE KIDS who are given an even more restricted education.

          "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:54:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  PG is in the top 2% (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            princss6

            With an average household income of $74,000, the county has moved up from the fifth richest county in the state three years ago to the second, even surpassing Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County, a mostly White area awash with multimillion-dollar waterfront homes on Chesapeake Bay. In fact, the county has a greater percentage of households earning more than $200,000 a year than any county in Maryland.

            That's not anything like the situation in Detroit or DC or Newark for that matter.

            •  but not as much as Montgomery (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blueoasis, aliasalias, m00finsan

              nor as Fairfax or several other counties.

              And that is deceptive.  The average wealth of teacherken and Bill Gates a few years ago was 40 billion, almost all of which was his.

              We have had a small influx of relatively wealthy people, with expensive homes built on what was farmland until recently.  But that in no way changes the basic economics of the school system, which is financially stressed.

              Neither Detroit nor DC have a requirement to go to the voters to raise the tax rate by a single penny.  

              We have had our share of mismanagement in the past, which is why we went to a state-controlled school board (and I had children of 2 members of that board in same class) which hired a superintendent later convicted of federal financial offenses.  

              "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:36:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Isn't your school a magnet? (0+ / 0-)

        the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

        by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 04:20:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  1/3 get in by competitive exam (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, m00finsan

          we are one of 3 science and tech programs out of more than 20 high schools in the county.  There are magnet programs in some of the others.

          Of my six classes, three consist entirely of kids who live in our attendance area, which while not the poorest part of the county by a long shot, has its share of neighborhoods lacking a fair amount of resources.

          I have explained this many times.  Were we only a science and tech magnet -  like the famous Thomas Jefferson in Annandale VA which draws students from an area about 4-5 times ours, it is unlikely we would have won 5 consecutive girls 4A state basketball championships.  The swimming and tennis championships we have won, yes, because most of those kids have parents with some resources.  Track and football and basketball (boys and girls) have rosters that are much more heavily drawn from the lower income levels within our community.  Baseball and softball are more mixed.

          "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:57:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What smart kids... (0+ / 0-)

            don't excel in sports?  Did I misread?

            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

            by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:02:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'll trust you'll know better but this is ... (0+ / 0-)

            what wiki says...

            Science and Technology Center
            The Science and Technology Center (S/T) is a highly challenging four-year curriculum which provides college-level academic experiences in science, mathematics, and technology. Of twenty-eight possible credits, a student is required to obtain a minimum of thirteen credits in specific mathematics, pre-engineering technology, research and science courses. In grades nine and ten, the program consists of common experiences courses for all student. In grades eleven and twelve, each student must choose course work from at least one of four major study areas. Students are expected to be enrolled in a full schedule of classes during the entire four-year program. External experiences are possible and encouraged, but must be a direct extension or enrichment of the Science and Technology Program, and have the recommendation of the Science and Technology Center Coordinator prior to approval by the principal.

            The program is offered at three centers — (didacted).  Students attend the center that serves their legal residence. Transportation is provided for all students. Each school is a four-year comprehensive high school, as well as a Science and Technology Center. Each school is an active member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST).

            Admission into the Science and Technology Center is highly competitive and contingent upon three criterion, with all criterion weighed equally. The criterion are:

            Grades from four quarters of 7th grade and the first quarter of 8th grade (or four quarters of 8th grade and first quarter of 9th grade) in math, science, English, and social studies
            A standardized reading comprehension test
            A standardized numerical test

            All of these are factored into a final score. Each test is normally 40 minutes in length and has approximately 40 questions. The math test covers arithmetic, basic middle school math skills, and simple algebra. The verbal test consists of reading comprehension.

            The number of students admitted into the S/T program vary from each school, but as an example, 225-250 students with the top scores are admitted to (didacted)'s Science and Technology Program. The next 60 students are placed on a waiting list. All interested 8th and 9th grade students who are residents of Prince George's County are eligible to apply for admission to the Science and Technology Center.

            LOCATIONS:

            list three different high school locations I left out because bordering on a line there

            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

            by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:17:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  need a social worker there? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, blueoasis

            I've about had it with NJ...but not all states have social workers in the schools, I'm certifed in English as well....I'm only half joking :)

          •  So you're more selective... (0+ / 0-)

            ... than a charter that admits by lottery.

            "We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it." -- Willy Wonka

            by Huginn and Muninn on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:46:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think you have trouble reading (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil

              one third of our slots are in our science and tech program, one of three such programs in the county.  I have not said what percentage of those who apply to that program get in, so you have no basis to compare us to the admission rate through lotteries in charters.  And by the way, in the five charters featured in W4S, if I recall correctly 4 accept less than 1/3 of applicants.

              Some of those kids in Science and Tech live in our attendance area, and would be in our school anyhow.  

              The majority of our students attend because they live in our attendance area.  There is no selection criterion there.  

              "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:44:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Ours is too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, blueoasis

      And it's a Title 1 school, 75% free/reduced lunch

      I think the key is that it's got strong community support and is in a relatively stable community - people don't move in and out too often. Indeed, some of our staff attended this school as kids, and many of the parents attended as well. We're also fortunate to have some people with a fair amount of skill and expertise and resources who love the school and spend a lot of energy supporting it.

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

      by elfling on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:31:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fire the teacher, get rid of public schools and (28+ / 0-)

    look at the huge batch of child-laborers the multi-nationals could hire for pennies an hour! When you're handed lemons you  have to cut them up and crush them and extract every bit of worth from them, then throw most of each lemon away and sell the lemonade for a profit ... isn't that how the saying goes?
    So the good side of this is in a few decades all the kids who never were assigned to read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" will now actually be living the book, which is so much more informative.

    Living in the spaces between the boxes other people are thinking inside of...

    by fourthcornerman on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:54:39 PM PDT

  •  The whole narrative is flawed (14+ / 0-)

    Wingers will say our health care system is the best in the world because it's private enterprise. Our public education system is flawed because it's "govment run". Any data on U.S Health Care is flawed, but data on education is gospel. Just the point that these tests scores are a useful measurement should be challenged. Also "the fact" that the US ranked 11th and Finland ranked 1st is based on a very narrow range of data. I don't know whether the programmer meme "garbage in garbage out applies or if the saying " there are liars, damned liars and statisticians applies. But the fact that even smart and progressive people on this site accept many of these talking points at face value is indicative of how strong the right wing narrative is on this.

    It is impossible to introduce into society a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." Frederic Bastiat

    by california keefer on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 09:55:04 PM PDT

    •  So ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      princss6

      What evidence can you cite that illustrates the U.S. ranks first among industrialized nations?  You're saying that a study found something you didn't like.  That hardly means the U.S. educational system is sound.  What studies have demonstrated that the U.S. education system is working or improving?

      Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

      by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:14:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  perhaps you haven't been paying attention (17+ / 0-)

        on international comparisons among industrialized nations we have 25% of the high scoring students.  We also have 25% of the low scoring students, and they correspond heavily with the 20% or so of our students who live in poverty, a rate several times that of other nations.

        Or let me put it another way.  The film has Erik Hanushek of the Hoover Institute in several clips.  In one he says if we could simply replace the 5-10% of our least effective teachers we would be performing at the level of Finland, the highest scoring nation in the world.  Of course, we could replace that 5-10% and get teachers who are worse, given how we train, induct, mentor and supervise teachers.  Changing the teachers might not achieve what he thinks, and there is a wealth of data that demonstrates the weakness of his argument.

        We have failures.  They have been allowed to fester, to continue, because they educated the children of the poor, those without power, those who are considered "other."   It is intellectually dishonest to take the relatively tiny percentage of schools that are clearly failures and use that to brand the entire system of public education as a failure.  

        We need to address the problems.  I don't deny that.  The approach of those attacking schools and unions will not fix it.  And the hype around the movie and some of its supporters are leading to a situation that will damage many schools that are now working, will drive away many of the good teachers who are tired of being punching bags.  

        There is rhetoric in the film I did not address -  how the two teachers unions are the largest contributors to the political process (laughably untrue) and at the national level heavily to Democrats (true, because Republicans have made clear their hostility towards public education).  

        Canada is flat out wrong on some of what he says.  But if we are to accept him as being so wise, then why are we ignoring what he says about his own teaching experience, of bombing in the first two years, and still insisting as too many do on the value of Teach for America?

        "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:23:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The commenter asks for evidence (5+ / 0-)

          Evidence is presented. Evidence is ignored.

          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

          by slatsg on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:47:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Excuse me? n/t (0+ / 0-)

            Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

            by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:07:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The evidence is ignored (11+ / 0-)

              You continue to make accusations and condemn unions but you produce little evidence to back your assertions. Ken, on the other hand, presents evidence.

              That's the trouble with the critics of public education. They only want the data that supports their viewpoint.

              So if I point out that schools with art programs have higher literacy rates, the critics will dismiss my data by suggesting (without proof) that art programs are found more often in wealthier schools and thus that explains the higher literacy rate. If on the other hand I point out the definitive correlation between wealth and high test scores, these same critics will point to an outlier to "prove" that wealth is an irrelevant factor.

              A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

              by slatsg on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:54:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  There's a difference between (4+ / 0-)

          'attacking a union' and being critical of unions that have failed students.  You're basically telling me that things aren't nearly as bad as the film reports, and that this filmmaker essentially made this film to bash unions.  I'm sorry, but I think that any fair reading of the film would suggest that the filmmaker is highly critical of unions that have failed students.  It's really hard to argue that the D.C. teachers union hasn't, and it's intellectually dishonest not to criticize unions and to downplay the problems with the U.S. public school system in order to empower unions.

          You're telling me essentially that the problems exist at the margins, and that if we were to get rid of 5-10% of underperforming teachers, we'd do much better.  I'm sorry, but I think the problems affecting the U.S. public school system are much more serious than what you suggest.

          Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

          by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:13:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do you have any evidence for that belief? nt (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, blueoasis, m00finsan

            "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

            by NWTerriD on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:22:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yep... (0+ / 0-)

            the filmmaker is highly critical of unions that have failed students.  It's really hard to argue that the D.C. teachers union hasn't, and it's intellectually dishonest not to criticize unions and to downplay the problems with the U.S. public school system in order to empower unions.

            Amen.  But people will obfuscate and pretend you are attacking ALL unions, not just teachers unions that defend the status quo where the status quo is beyond horrendous.

            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

            by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:03:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  "Unions" don't fail students (7+ / 0-)

            Unions are there to protect the workers from  unfair treatment, like making a history teacher teach algebra because no math teacher is available....Years ago we had a physics teacher who was forced to teach earth science. he didn't want to. He didn't know much about earth science. But the state ruled he was legally certified to teach any science, so there ya go...theunion stepped in and tried to reason with the administration. they lost. They OFTEN lose. Even when they are right.The unions have much less power than some people here seem to think...so who failed these students? The teacher? The union? No. The administration and they're allies in the state dept. of ed., all because they could not or would not hire a teacher with more expertise in that area. This happens a lot.

        •  so why not make some changes? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, blueoasis, princess k, princss6

          "We need to address the problems.  I don't deny that.  The approach of those attacking schools and unions will not fix it. "

          Well, I'm not attacking public schools. I've sent all three of my kids to public schools, so I'm in my 17th consecutive year as a public School parent. And I'm not attacking unions---I've been a union member. I think unions can help create a more just and equal world.

          And that being said, I'd like to see the teachers' union:

          1.  get rid of seniority as the chief criteria for who gets laid off or not;
          1. agree to evaluations which use a MIX of test data, student feedback and observations from administrators or some other trained observers who actually watch to see if students are engaged.

          3)quit making it SO difficult to get rid of obviously under-performing teachers.

          And I didn't get this from David Guggenheim. I got it from my own personal experience. I'd like to see us try what Eric Hanushek said--retain our top 15 percent teachers (from lay-offs by seniority) and get rid of our lowest 15 percent.

          The problem is not so much the out-and-out incompetent teacher---they can eventually be fired, (although as a parent and taxpayer I DO resent that it takes as much effort as a criminal investigation.) The real problem is the 15-20 percent of just-barely competent, relentlessly mediocre, uninspiring, dead-ass teachers that we can't get rid of and we must retain because of seniority----while getting rid of our most gifted teachers.

          Ken, this is a union issue. If we're going to talk about intellectual honesty, please acknowledge this. And quit saying that those who bring it up want to destroy public schools and unions.

          •  there is a reason for seniority (10+ / 0-)

            which you seem to want to ignore.  These are people who have committed years to a school or system, often foregoing better paying jobs.  To lay them off before they qualify for a pension when they get close is the kind of thing I used to see private businesses do before the Federal government made that illegal.

            Also, if you do not keep some level of seniority, you will see experienced teachers laid off because they are paid more.  Then they have trouble getting other jobs because of the pay level, or they are not paid for their experience even though within the hiring systems their teachers are paid by experience.

            I am always interested when this attack is made on teachers, but not on other groups with various kinds of civil service protection with similar salary structures, like police, fire, office workers, and the like.

            And I will be quite blunt.  It is quite rare that a teacher with less than 3 years experience qualifies as being among the most gifted.  Potentially they may be.  But it is rare that they are immediately out of the gate.

            And there is a far better answer than the either/or dichotomy you propose, which is to properly fund schools in the first place so that layoffs are not necessary, and to do a better job of training, inducting, and mentoring new teachers so that they become more quickly fully productive, which new teachers rarely are.  

            I am for radically changing how we recruit, train, hire, induct and supervise our teaching corps.  I think there is much to be learned from places like Finland.  But apparently some "reformers" only want to point at the difference in international test scores  (and the difference in rank is not truly an accurate reflection of difference in performance, but that is a separate issue) without looking at the differences in the structuring of schools, administration, and teaching.  Finland does not rely on high stakes tests, yet we seem to think that increasing our reliance will somehow bring us up to them?  They have a social welfare net in that country that is in part responsible for the much lower level of economic disparity.  

            "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:44:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  all research shows (4+ / 0-)

              the best teachers are the most experienced ones. It's not even an arguable point.

              •  there are always outliers (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Tonedevil

                I began in the middle of a school year, as a long-term sub on December 10.  Within a week the principal decided to hire me, but the district couldn't find my paper work.  I went under contract on January 18.

                IT took me about to the middle of my first full year before I fully hit my stride.  But I am very much an outlier

                1.  I was in my late forties
                1.  I had some previous experience teaching, first as a teacher intern in a quaker secondary school about 20 years before, then doing religious studies to teens in sunday schools, and also to adults in business
                1.  I am very used to doing several things simultaneousely
                1.  By instinct I do not simply stay at the front of the class.  My desk is in the back and I only sit there to put in the attendance on the computer.  I wander all over the room, and that proximity gives me much better classroom management and students being on task.

                But I also know teachers who stopped growing after becoming competent.  We are very fortunate to have very few of those in our building.  I have seen them in the other two schools in which I taught, or encountered them at system-wide workshops.  

                "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:49:23 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Nothing like some good ole Midwest candor... (0+ / 0-)

            completely agree!

            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

            by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:20:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  RE (5+ / 0-)

        What evidence can you cite that illustrates the U.S. ranks first among industrialized nations?

        I never said that. I have never seen a study declaring the " US last among industrial nations".

        What studies have demonstrated that the U.S. education system is working or improving

        ?

        In July 1996, California passed legislation to reduce class size in the early grades. The state rapidly invested $1 billion (followed by $1.5 billion annually) in incentives to improve student achievement by reducing its kindergarten through third grade class sizes to 20 students. As a result, despite problems of limited space and too few qualified teachers, many schools reduced class size at least at one grade level in the six weeks between the passage of the legislation and the start of the school year. By the program's second year, almost all first and second grade class sizes had been reduced, along with two-thirds of third grades and kindergartens.

        After just one year in smaller classes, third grade students showed a small, but statistically significant, gain in academic achievement, and this benefit was seen in all students across the board. Teachers reported being able to spend more time working individually with students. Furthermore, parents of students in smaller classes became more involved in their children's education as they were able to have more contact with teachers. Parents also expressed greater satisfaction with their children's education.

        Based on the assumption that test scores are an indication of educational quality California students test scores improved significantly with the new 20-1 ratio for grades k-3. Not only were there significant improvements in K-3 but the students maintained the higher scores in grades 4-6 ,the achievement gap between black and white students was narrowed and more black students took SAT tests and there were fewer dropouts. This data is conveniently ignored by those that want to control "the teachers are the problem" narrative.
        There were some problems related to the implementation, mostly having to do with hiring a lot of new teachers. The number of "new " teachers increased, the number of non credentialed teachers increased and there was a large migration of experienced teachers from poor schools to more affluent schools. None of these problems are related to unions "protecting" bad teachers.  
         

        It is impossible to introduce into society a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." Frederic Bastiat

        by california keefer on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:37:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  lol (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          moonlightbayou

          Based on the assumption that test scores are an indication of educational quality California students test scores improved significantly with the new 20-1 ratio for grades k-3.

          lol

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:04:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Posting this for some comic relief amidst (23+ / 0-)

    the nasty attack on public ed. Susan Ohanian came up with this song (source : the book she co-authored - "why is corporate America bashing our public schools?")

    ========
    If you cannot find Osama, test the kids.
    If the market hurt your mama, test the kids.
    If the CEOs are liars
    putting schools on funeral pyres
    Screaming "Vouchers we desire"
    Test the kids.

    If you have no health insurance, test the kids.
    Your retirement's a game of chance? test the kids.
    If the GDP ain't growing
    And corporate greed ain't slowing
    And white house con is flowing
    Test the kids.

    If your schools they are crumbling, test the kids.
    And the Congress is bumbling, test the kids.
    CEOs want competition.
    And public schools demolition.
    They're on a hunting expedition.
    Test the kids.
    =========================

    Maybe someone can update it to include BP oil spill, foreclosuregate etc. How can these not be the damn teachers union's faults?

  •  Thanks Ken, as always (18+ / 0-)

    I saw CBS news the other night and they were lamenting the resignation of Michelle Rhee and then reported how the evil teachers union was responsible for her demise.

    The way this administration and my own Democraic governor treat public educators is beyond disgusting. They want our endorsement and expect us to have their backs but they never have ours. In fact instead of having our backs they continually stab us in the back. With friends like these ...

    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

    by slatsg on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:00:00 PM PDT

    •  how about the parents of DC public schools? (16+ / 0-)

      there simply are not enough DC teachers registered to vote in the District to have defeated Fenty, had not Black parents been very angry at Rhee.

      "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:02:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The majority of the "stakeholders" (8+ / 0-)

        in the DC school system: parents, teachers and voters weren't happy with Rhee.

        But, then again, she has been quoted as saying that she isn't real big on collaboration.

        Why can't they say that hate is 10 zillion light years away? Stevie Wonder

        by blindyone on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:13:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The media has adopted the message that (16+ / 0-)
        1. Rhee was extremely effective
        1. The unions forced Rhee out.

        I debunked both in this diary.

        Fenty spent 4.6 million dollars on his campaign, almost three times the amount of his opponent. The Rhee apologists believe that the African-American voters of DC were too stupid to think for themselves and were taken in by "union propaganda".

        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

        by slatsg on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:14:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And the unions.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fidel

          sunk a millin into Gray's campaign.  

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:10:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fenty still had several times Gray's resources (7+ / 0-)

            but lost -  all his money, all his support from the Washington Post and from certain elite groups could not save him.   The Post's own polling showed the Rhee was the biggest single reason for people voting for Gray, with parents of color with kids in school citing that well over half the time.

            "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:00:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So in this instance... (0+ / 0-)

              teachers aren't powerless?

              the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

              by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:03:15 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Are you implying that (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elfling, Tonedevil, blueoasis, m00finsan

                the people of DC are incapable of thinking for themselves? Rhee went into the white neighborhoods to campaign for Fenty. Why didn't she campaign in the African-American areas? I think you know the answer.

                Union money didn't make the difference. Fenty outspent Gray three to one ... and still lost. You will have to look elsewhere for your "villian".

                A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:50:58 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Hmmm... (0+ / 0-)

                  my friend that lives in DC has a completely take on Fenty, lol...one of the reasons why she didn't like FENTY was because he catered to white middle-class interests.  She still didn't vote against Fenty because of Rhee as she didn't vote for him four years ago.  

                  The union money made a huge difference.

                  No, I don't know the answer, why didn't she campaign in the AA area?  

                  I think the people of DC are capable of thinking for themselves just as the AA parents in Philly that support school reform and school choice are equally able to think for themselves.   THAT was my implication.  Take a minute to let it sink in because I know it is a foreign concept on this board.

                  the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                  by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 07:17:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Then apparently we agree (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Tonedevil, blueoasis, m00finsan

                    If parents aren't stupid when they favor the so-called reforms, then they aren't stupid when the reject certain reforms and reformers. You can't have it both ways.

                    Fenty lost in AA neighborhoods that he carried when he was elected. His supporters need to look beyond simplistic answers to discover why. If money was the deciding factor, then Fenty would have won. Again you can't have it both ways. You can't that money was the determinant when Fenty outspent Gray three to one.

                    So if money wasn't the reason for Fenty's loss then the answer lies elsewhere. Polls indicate that Rhee may have been a reason for voter dissatisfaction.

                    Rhee is arrogant and adversarial. Despite limited experience, she believes that she has all answers. She welcomed confrontation. She was dismissive of community input. Perhaps she was the problem.

                    Of course with people like her there is little introspection. Rather than admit that there may have been problems with her approach, she ... and her supporters ... will attempt to find a scapegoat for her failure.

                    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                    by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 07:38:36 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Totally my point... (0+ / 0-)

                      If parents aren't stupid when they favor the so-called reforms, then they aren't stupid when the reject certain reforms and reformers. You can't have it both ways.

                      We agree.  

                      Fenty lost in AA neighborhoods that he carried when he was elected. His supporters need to look beyond simplistic answers to discover why. If money was the deciding factor, then Fenty would have won. Again you can't have it both ways. You can't that money was the determinant when Fenty outspent Gray three to one.

                      I never said money was the determining factor.  My point is, I wish that money was spent agitating for the systemic changes that teachers state they need to improve student outcomes, like smaller class sizes for example.  That is a win-win for all involved.  Yes Fenty did win in AA communities his last election, then he got in and was aloof and out of touch with those communities.  He lost.  On that level I understand because my mayor is very similar to Fenty.  But my city has a huge charter school movement and if my Mayor loses this election next year, it will be because of several things mainly is arrogance and aloofness and won't be a referendum on charter schools or even education.  My AA mayor is disliked by AA's and it has nothing to do with school reform.  But if he loses, watch people try to say it was a referendum on charters.  Watch!

                      How many years did Randi Weingarten teach?

                      As far as Rhee is concerned, I just her by her test scores and her test scores alone.  Everything else is moot.

                      the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                      by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:23:33 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  why raise Randi? What does that have to do (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Tonedevil, blueoasis, m00finsan

                        with anything, pray tell?  And by the way, how will you use that argument when the next head of NEA is Lily Eskelsen, onetime Utah Teacher of the Year who still teaches even as NEA Vice President?

                        You have some valid concerns to raise.  Don't weaken your argument with side tracks.

                        I respect the fact that you have an ongoing commitment to your city and its public schools.  We need more people like that.

                        It is why I take the time to respond to many of your comments, even when I disagree.

                        Peace.

                        "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:48:00 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I raised Randi (0+ / 0-)

                          for two reasons..it was her union that gave the million dollars.  Secondly, one of the main criticisms against Rhee is that she only taught for a few years.  I'm pretty sure I heard Randi say how long she has taught.  But wasn't sure, so wanted to know.  

                          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:25:44 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  I appreciate your response (5+ / 0-)

                        I agree with most of what you write except forthe last sentence. Altough the scores under Rhee did not substantially improve and in fact declined in 2009-2010, test scores should not be the sole criterion, or even the primary gauge, by which a principal or a teacher is evaluated.

                        Allow me to explain. At a track meet another coach and I were watching one of my sprinters win another race. He commented that I was probably sorry to see her graduate. I replied that on the contrary I was delighted that she would be graduating because she was a high-risk student.  I had worried about her since she was a freshman. It was a struggle to keep her in school but she loved track and that was my hook.

                        The day after graduation, she came by the house and we sat on the deck and talked for an hour about her future. She would have a future! At the end of the conversation she said, "Thanks for everything. You're the reason I graduated".

                        Her scores on the state mandated tests were in the lowest category so by one measure I guess I was a failure. Not only that but she dragged down our school test average, so perhaps, in the interest of improving our average, I should have let het quit. Of course I don't regret my efforts nor do I care one whit about her test scores.

                        Recently someone questioned whether I should allow a student who had failed at a previous school to enroll at our school. He certainly would not pass the state test and he will not graduate with his cohort group, further hurting our stats. My reply was to ask why we are here. We are here for the kids, not to pad our scores by keeping certain kids out, as a couple of area schools do.

                        Last year we enrolled two home schooled kids in our elementary school. Without them one of our third grade classes would have reached 100% on the state math test. I didn't care and to her credit, neither did the teacher. She did a marvolous job with the two youngsters and they are progressing quite nicely, both academically and emotionally. They still won't pass the test. Oh well.

                        My school has a very high poverty rate. The reading scores average in the 80s. The state is pressuring us because our scores are not continuing to rise at the rate they are demanding. My belief is that we should not spend any more time on testing or test preparation. There is more to education passing a multiple choice test. If 100% of our kids pass a state mandated test, so what? What have we sacrificed so that we can achieve some artificial benchmark?

                        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                        by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:18:10 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  I was with you until (6+ / 0-)

                    you said the union money made the difference -  when Gray was outspent better than two to one, I fail to see how you can say that.

                    "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:45:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You don't think... (0+ / 0-)

                      that 1 million dollars makes a difference in a mayoral race.  In all 6 million was spent, I belive, Fenty had 4 million, Gray had one million and the union had 1 million.  That is like 20% of all money spent.  You don't think that made a difference?

                      the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                      by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:29:33 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  so let's parse your argument (6+ / 0-)

                        the corporate money - and much of Fenty's money came from what can be described as corporate sources -  is okay and should not be considered, but because unions provided the equivalent of 1/4 of what Fenty raised that is somehow wrong.

                        That is really not worthy of your intellect.

                        "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:14:12 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Parsing right back at you... (0+ / 0-)

                          because you allege that corporate intetests supported Fenty (I'm sure Gray got corporate funds as well), it is okay to ignore that the union pumped in at least 20% of all expenditures in this election to basically get out Rhee?  Critical thinking would not allow me to ignore their influence and be distracted by the shiny ball over there (read:  corporations).  You don't even enumerate how much the corporations spent or what corporations.  Just corporations in general and I'm supposed to just ignore the union?

                          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 11:05:48 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  that is no different than corporations (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tonedevil, Matt Z, m00finsan

                            pumping in money to get rid of charter opponents in NY primaries.

                            Let's be clear.  You apparently support Rhee and Fenty, and therefore object to opponents exercising their first amendment rights to defeat the mayor, but have no objection to similar expenditures on Fenty's behalf to protect the interests of those benefiting financially from Fenty and Rhee's approach.

                            What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

                            Here's the difference.  All union expenditures are disclosed.  Even before Citizens United,  expenditures in non-federal elections often were not disclosed in a timely basis, and now it is far worse.

                            By the way, some of the top political talent around gave up on Fenty because he was arrogant and would not listen to them when they told him he was in political trouble -  and this was BEFORE the unions started spending money.  

                            Did the unions tip the balance?  Perhaps, but that was only possible because both Fenty and Rhee had dug very big wholes for themselves.

                            And I would strongly recommend that you read Colbert King's piece in today's Washington Post, since much of what Rhee took credit for actually started under her predecessor, Clifford Janey, whom Fenty dismissed because he got the authority to do so from the city council.

                            "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 02:54:55 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Not so clear... (0+ / 0-)

                            Let's be clear.  You apparently support Rhee and Fenty, and therefore object to opponents exercising their first amendment rights to defeat the mayor, but have no objection to similar expenditures on Fenty's behalf to protect the interests of those benefiting financially from Fenty and Rhee's approach

                            I a fan of Rhee's.  I could care less about Fenty.  One of my dearest closest friends who is a resident of DC, never liked Fenty and I take her word for it.  She however has NO problem with Michelle Rhee and her vote against Fenty was NOT a vote against Rhee.  I've no problem with the union exercising their first amendment right but I do have a problem with people acting like there is a one-sided attack on teachers and their unions.  THAT argument is intellectually dishonest when the unions pumped in about 20% of all expenditures in the DC election.  I know nuanced arguments do go over well here where everyone is supposed to clap louder in support of teachers and their unions even the people who are either double-taxed or underserved by those teachers and their unions.  

                            King's piece is an op-ed and what I want to know is if firing more uncertified teachers is good then why is firing bad certified teachers bad?

                            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                            by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 11:27:36 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  you're just being a gadfly (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Tonedevil, blueoasis

                and aren't trying to have any kind of serious debate here. these comments of yours are increasingly childish.

                •  Why because I disagree... (0+ / 0-)

                  and so much for adding to substantive debate, an ad hom.  Brilliant!  

                  the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                  by princss6 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 11:28:40 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  ~$1 million (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        princss6

        The American Federation of Teachers spent.... roughly $1 million in contributions to a labor-backed independent expenditure campaign -- also supported by the public workers union AFSCME -- and on its own extensive political operation, a Democratic political consultant familiar with the details of the spending told POLITICO
        ....
        the teachers union has been careful not to claim the scalps of Fenty and his schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, the election may serve as a political shot across the bows of other urban officials considering similar policies
        ....
        most of the money went to unlimited and unregulated communication with union members, intense outreach to the union's more than 2,000 members in the district and to the between 30,000 and 40,000 AFL-CIO members in Washington, D.C. Each group received three mailings and several live calls; the union also did its own polling on the race.

        http://www.politico.com/...

      •  Not all who voted for Gray... (0+ / 0-)

        voted against Rhee.  Some believe it or not, really didn't like Fenty.  But those black parents are embraced while the black parents in my city that support school reform are routinely mischaracterized as too naieve or misinformed to understand the complexities.  lol

        the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

        by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:10:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Marrion Barry (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        princss6

        Without Fenty DC teachers can go back to the way things were. The "adults will be happy"

  •  I was going to write a comment about (19+ / 0-)

    the role of social worker that teachers have to play... and it can take up a considerable amount of your time. I'm thinking that there are more safety nets in Finnish society which allow their teachers to actually teach.

    My example was a third grade boy in my class whose mother forced him and his older brother to walk around the grocery store parking lot trying to help people with their bags and get tips. She literally wouldn't let them back into the apt until ten or twelve at night.

    So I had the third grader sitting in my class hungry, tired, irritable and completely unable to focus. He was a smart kid but was behind several grade levels... in math especially. His older brother sat in his fifth grade class in pants that smelled like urine because he couldn't control his bladder. He was profoundly depressed and, obviously, wasn't learning much either.

    I referred my guy to what was called a resource teacher and he began to perk up and improve in math because of the extra individual attention. She also gave him a little snack every time he came in there.

    Unfortunately, the story doesn't end well. When I found out, from other kids in the classroom, about them being locked out of their apt, I had to report it. All teachers are mandated to report potential child abuse in Los Angeles. Conditions in the home were about as bad as you might expect, and the boys were taken away from mom and placed in foster care. My third grader hated me for reporting on his mother. They eventually were placed in another school.

    Why can't they say that hate is 10 zillion light years away? Stevie Wonder

    by blindyone on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:03:35 PM PDT

  •  Amen Amen (7+ / 0-)

    Amen Amen Amen.

    I had actually not seen this film, though many have told me about it and asked me what I think. I wasn't really wanting to go, from what those others had already told me. I really don't want to go see it now. But I now have a good response to it from someone who has seen it, so maybe I won't have to.  Thanks so much.

    The propaganda machine directed against is indeed strong in this country. This movie turns out to be yet another example.

    None of this makes a bit of difference if they don't count your vote.

    by Toddlerbob on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:07:05 PM PDT

  •  I really liked the film. (6+ / 0-)

    Forgive me, but this diary seems like an meandering and defensive affirmation of teachers unions.  Given their abysmal performance (you can't deny that the U.S. ranks last among industrialized nations), why shouldn't they be sharply criticized?

    Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

    by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:09:06 PM PDT

    •  nice right wing talking point (14+ / 0-)

      U.S. ranks last among industrialized nations

      Based on what data ?

      It is impossible to introduce into society a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." Frederic Bastiat

      by california keefer on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:17:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Based on studies that were cited in the film (5+ / 0-)

        among others.  Studies whose findings you won't accept because you might have to reconsider your reflexive support for unions.

        Look, I understand why unions are valuable in the abstract, but I don't uncritically support unions or any other institution for that matter.  Corruption isn't a purely right-wing phenomenon, and it's intellectually dishonest to suggest that unions couldn't possibly have anything to do with the underperformance (to put it mildly) of the educational system.

        Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

        by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:23:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Keep drinking that kool-id (17+ / 0-)

          We are not rated last and you know it.

          Our educational system actually is rated higher than our health care system. It does a better job educating the disadvantaged than the legal system does defending them. And our public school system  it certainly as successful and much more reputable than our current economic system.

          Damning with faint praise perhaps but my profession is as successful as any other in this country.

          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

          by slatsg on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:30:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  does that really say much though? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            princss6

            its like saying, no actually we weren't the worse team in the league. We beat the Detroit Lions.

            •  Hold on there ... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, m00finsan

              The Lions won last Sunday ... somewhat convincingly. This Sunday, of course, could be another story. Rememer 1957!!

              What I am suggesting is that, like any other profession, we can improve. We do, however, seem to receive more than our share of criticism. I think some of it comes from a dislike of unionization. Most of it IMHO is orchestrated by those who wish to privatize education.

              Several years ago an aid for former Michigan Governor John "Two-pound" Engler stated that most people thought that their schools were doing well and needed to be "dissuaded" of that notion.

              A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

              by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:14:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  and I picked the Rams as my fantasy defense (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                slatsg

                scored my -3 points.

                I really think this issue is way too caught up in the blame game and not enough in actual solutions. I think the problem is that any potential "solution" is perceived as an attack on teachers, or parents, or poverty, or wealth, or politicians, or businesses, etc. and as a result everybody winds up cringing to their own status and continuing to do things as they've been done.

                I've seen many creative ideas and strategies for teaching and reforming schools, but for various reasons these ideas have a problem getting implemented into the classroom on a larger scale, and so the students suffer.

        •  ah the dangers of accepting misrepresentations (18+ / 0-)

          for example, we get the scholar who talks about dropout factories.  They exist.  They account for a disproportionate share of dropouts.  They also represent 5% or less of our schools.  You see a map which seems to be covered with indicators.  

          There are almost 100,000 public schools in the US, and about 33,000 non-public schools.  The public schools educate over 90% of the school children.  The number of schools identifiable as truly bad is somewhere around 5,000.  That is far too many.

          Back them out and look at the performance of the rest and it is quite good.

          Oh, and the film offers a figure of cost of educating a student in a private school that is deceptive.  Yes, there are non-public schools that spend only 8,000/student or less.  But the kind of schools one thinks of when they hear the word "private school' is a very different kettle of fish -  the elite schools, where the tuition approaches that of a private college or university of elite status.

          "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:34:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  On private school costs (7+ / 0-)

            Often what is quoted as tuition does not reflect the expenditures per student. Endowments, grants, parent fundraising all come into play at most schools. And, if you draw teachers from a group of women to agree to live with a vow of poverty in communal housing, obviously your costs will be a bit lower. That's a wonderful solution for some schools, but probably not scaleable to all.

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

            by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:54:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  What?! (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serrano, politicalget, princss6, Lucy2009

            There are almost 100,000 public schools in the US, and about 33,000 non-public schools.  The public schools educate over 90% of the school children.  The number of schools identifiable as truly bad is somewhere around 5,000.  That is far too many.

            Back them out and look at the performance of the rest and it is quite good.

            Is this how you grade your students?  Man!  You must be one popular teacher.  I'd love being able to just 'back out' my failing grades.

            You know, just ignore the aggregate performance of poor children and we're doing fine!  You can collect a paycheck guilt free!

            My estimation of this film has just risen 100-fold.

            Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

            by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:03:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The point is (13+ / 0-)

              there are good schools, far more good ones than bad. We do ourselves a disservice if we tear down the good ones thoughtlessly in our search for the bad.

              Would you flunk all the students in your class of 40 because two didn't do the reading? Or would you just confine your wrath to the two?

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

              by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:18:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  This (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                citizen k, serrano, princss6, Lucy2009

                Would you flunk all the students in your class of 40 because two didn't do the reading? Or would you just confine your wrath to the two?

                is a ridiculous question.

                But it's good to know that you feel the U.S. public education system is fine relatively speaking, unless of course you're poor, in which case ... well, the unions aren't responsible for poverty, so ... if a school has a 60+% dropout rate, well ... too bad.  Poverty is just part of the natural order of things.

                But don't bash the unions goddamit!  That's what the right wing does!

                Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

                by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:23:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  I'm glad... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lucy2009

              I'm not the only one that sees it for the bare naked display of apathy at the expense of poor children.  It is thinking like what is espoused above that make the intolerable tolerable.  We'll just forget they are even a part of the system, then clap louder that the system is working.  

              You know, just ignore the aggregate performance of poor children and we're doing fine!  You can collect a paycheck guilt free!

              Amen.

              the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

              by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:08:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  you are being an ass (10+ / 0-)

              Canada argues the ENTIRE system is broken.  And yet the contrary information is presented, starting with Hanushek saying that if we replaced the worst 5-10% of teachers we would rank with top-ranked Finland.

              And yes, we have dropout factories, but they represent around 5% of the schools in the country.

              They are disproportionately, almost exclusively in neighborhoods/communities full of poor people (mainly of color).

              We have a disproportionate part of our population in situations of economic distress compared to other countries.

              Thus the problem is NOT one of all schools, most of which are doing more than adequately.

              If you are determining failing teachers by test scores, you will have a hard time getting the better teachers to be willing to risk their careers in such schools.  It is not just the actual scores of the students -  even value-added scores show that it is almost impossible to isolate the teacher effects, and that much of what we see is clearly attributable to student effects.

              Principals and other administrators doing their jobs could quickly identify those teachers doing nothing - reading papers, excessive absences, inappropriate behaviors - and document that and get rid of them.  Too often our policies insist on having a certified warm body -  remember the highly qualified provision of No Child Left Behind.  If someone is certified, that makes it hard to remove that person if the only alternative is someone licensed only as a sub.  

              You are more of an ass, because you decided to get personal.  100 times zero is still zero.   It does NOT address the real needs of most of the students.   Each of the five it focuses on have adults actively involved in their educations.  Many of the students in troubled schools do not.  That is one reason why charters dobn't address their needs.  Nor does raising the bar on "standards" even further when they are not reaching current standards do anything except encourage more to drop out, believing they cannot succeed.

              Reduce class size.  Provide resources.  Stop the drill and kill.  Get to know the kids.  Provide the outreach to the families to get them involved.  These are but a few of the approaches that have been used SUCCESSFULLY in schools in high poverty areas to have those kids succeed.  The examples exist in regular public schools.  Guggenheim ignores them in order to push an agenda that perhaps can make him feel better about his decision to put his own kids in private schools.

              "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:09:57 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  You might consider reading this (12+ / 0-)

          by Gerald Bracey

          http://nepc.colorado.edu/...

          Thus, the key question becomes can schools alone overcome the difficulties associated with poverty?

          Advocates who answer yes usually contend that to be high-quality, schools need only high standards, high expectations, and strong principals leading a faculty of highly qualified teachers. However, terms like “high standards” and “high expectations” are usually left undefined, as if their meanings were self-evident—which they are not. Ignoring such gaps in rationale, No Child Left Behind’s reliance on testing and sanctions codifies the conception that schools alone are capable of erasing the achievement gap and need only to be required to do so.

          Similar calls for more high-quality schools, however defined, issue from multiple quarters. Many critics cite the performance of American students on international comparisons of mathematics and science. The most often used comparison comes from rankings on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Most recently (2006), American students ranked 24th of 30 OECD nations in mathematics and 17th of 30 in science.3 Errors in the test booklets prevented the reporting scores for American students in reading.

          It should be noted that these rankings are determined by nations’ average scores. Some researchers have suggested, however, that average score comparisons are not useful: even presuming that the tests have some meaning for future accomplishment, average students are not likely to be the leaders in fields of mathematics and science. Those roles are more likely to fall to those scoring well. A publication from OECD itself observes that if one examines the number of highest-scoring students in science, the United States has 25% of all high-scoring students in the world (at least in “the world” as defined by the 58 nations taking part in the assessment—the 30 OECD nations and 28 “partner” countries). Among nations with high average scores, Japan accounted for 13% of the highest scorers, Korea 5%, Taipei 3%, Finland 1%, and Hong Kong 1%. Singapore did not participate. The picture emerging from this highest-scorer comparison is far different than that suggested by the frequently cited national average comparisons; it is a picture that suggests many American schools are actually doing very well indeed.  

          I said above that if there are to be more high-quality schools (or at least, “high-quality” schools in terms of high or rising test scores), they will have to be developed in low-income neighborhoods. Evidence for this contention comes from the 2001 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).4 It is evidence that suggests the magnitude of the problem to be overcome.

          Table 1. PIRLS Performance and Poverty

          Percent of Students  
          in the School in Poverty
          Score Percent of U. S. students attending
          schools in this category


          < 10        589      14.3
          10-24.9     567      19.5
          25-49.9     551      29.8
          50-74.9     519      21.3
          75+         485     15.1

          Highest scoring nation: Sweden 561 (Finland did not participate)
          U. S. average: 542; International Average: 500; Number of countries: 27

          In other words, kids going to schools where less than half the students are in poverty are scoring about at the same level as the highest nation, Sweden. Kids in schools where few students are in poverty are scoring above that level. Kids in schools where half or more students are in poverty are the ones dragging down the scores.

          20% of American children live in poverty today. That is frankly shocking. And what we call poverty is quite far below the point where two parents are struggling to work enough hours to pay the bills, leaving them with little time to parent.

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

          by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:51:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So in a nutshell you're telling me (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            citizen k, serrano, princss6

            that if the U.S. has the highest percentage of high-scoring math students in the world, that's a reflection that our educational system isn't so bad.  Despite the fact that those percentages are offered without a figure for the total number of high scoring students, nor a definition for what constitutes a high score.

            On top of that, you're telling me that the reason our U.S. math and science scores are so low according to other studies is because the poor kids bring them down (as if that has nothing to do with the competence of teachers or the effectiveness of teachers unions).  

            So essentially, if we just count the white and Asian kids, we're doing just fine.

            ... and I'm the one whose being accused of having right-wing talking points?

            Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

            by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:00:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What I'm saying is that kids in high poverty (14+ / 0-)

              schools are not scoring well. Kids in lower poverty schools are scoring fine.

              The clear answer is that we have to help those kids to do better.

              The idea that the school alone is the solution is a curious conclusion to reach. It may be a way to address the problem, as we do with programs like free lunches. But, firing teachers, or bringing in tourist teachers who are in play for 3 years and then go off to their real lives just as they're starting to get the lay of the land, doesn't really address the root of those problems. Indeed, one reason my daughter's Title 1 school does well, IMHO, is that it has a long time professional staff that is experienced, dedicated, and is deeply integrated into the community.

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

              by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:27:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                citizen k, princss6

                The idea that the school alone is the solution is a curious conclusion to reach.

                Who reached this conclusion?

                But, firing teachers, or bringing in tourist teachers who are in play for 3 years and then go off to their real lives just as they're starting to get the lay of the land, doesn't really address the root of those problems.

                Well I certainly agree that bogus teachers shouldn't teach.  I also think firing bad teachers is good idea.

                Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

                by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:32:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  We agree, firing bad teachers is a good idea (7+ / 0-)

                  Firing teachers because their school gets low test scores may not be.

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

                  by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:33:27 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  This film profiled schools with dropout rates (5+ / 0-)

                    of 80 and 90 percent.  I'd say that's a bit more serious than a low test score.

                    Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

                    by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:35:48 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  My local public school has a tiny dropout rate (5+ / 0-)

                      I do not want the remedies you would force on a school that is failing so badly applied to ours, which is working.

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

                      by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:40:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Huh? (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        serrano, politicalget, princss6

                        I do not want the remedies you would force on a school that is failing so badly applied to ours, which is working.

                        Why would anybody fire teachers who are doing an effective job?  I think it's a good idea to fire failing teachers.  It's really not that difficult an idea to grasp.

                        Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

                        by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:42:06 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Ah, now I think I understand (13+ / 0-)

                          I think we both care about kids and giving them good public educations.

                          I am responding to this within a larger context of attacks on teachers, attacks that are not at all limited to schools with alarming dropout rates.  You, perhaps, are responding to what you saw in the movie, an alarming school that needs intervention.

                          There is a group of people so convinced that if only we fire more teachers, that unicorns will frolic in the fields. They do not seem to be especially picky about which teachers those are. They are focused on numbers and statistics, because going inside schools is time consuming, hard, and I suppose, icky.

                          Tenure exists because some people do want to fire effective teachers. Mean Math Teacher gave Johnny a C, and now how will he get into UCLA?

                          There's a process for firing teachers, and it should be a fair and effective process, one that ensures the rules are followed rather than caprice.

                          Test scores can never be all there is. We don't test kindergarteners with bubble tests, and we have no way to measure the kid who went from never turning in homework to turning in neat, legible papers every day because of a teacher he loved.

                          Our school (like every school) has a threat hanging over our head that if every child is not 100% proficient by 2014, even the kids who moved in last week at 5th grade, that we are supposed to reorganize - and among the paths are "firing half the teachers" and "closing the school and opening it with all new staff". This is madness.  There's no data showing that those approaches help and plenty of data to suggest it does harm.

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

                          by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:54:57 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Wikipedia has a good article on tenure (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tonedevil, PsychoSavannah, blueoasis

                            Tenure is also offered in many states to public schoolteachers. Louisiana, under state education superintendent T. H. Harris, led the move to establish a teacher protection policy in the 1930s because of past political considerations in hiring and dismissal of educators.

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                          •  Principals don't like teachers (5+ / 0-)

                            with what they think are high failure rates because it makes them look bad with parents and school boards, so teachers who give grades that children really make could easily be fired to be replaced by another teacher who would "curve" those grades to look good.  That looks good in the short run, but we know it just covers up what the kids don't know.  

                            Tenure makes it harder for administrators to fire sincere teachers who are concerned with the actual performance of a student who often didn't turn in work or study for tests.  Getting a failing report card a time or two can show the importance of meeting deadlines and studying and gives a realistic view of consequences.  Teachers who realize the importance of teaching responsibility in addition to the curriculum shouldn't have to worry about being fired for doing so.

                          •  Sometimes you lose your job (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            politicalget, princss6

                            There's a process for firing teachers, and it should be a fair and effective process, one that ensures the rules are followed rather than caprice.

                            Lots of companies have this process, and it's a good one. But we have to stop the attitude of "it's better for 10 incompetent teachers to stay than for one competent teacher to lose his job." There's a shortage of good teachers, and schools are always looking for new ones (and to replace fired ones). If a good teacher loses his job in a rare case of parental pressure or a personal dispute, if he's actually that good, then he can find a job at another school. It is worse for hundreds of children to be unfairly cheated out of an education because of a bad teacher than for the occasional competent teacher to have to look for a job at a different school. If you want to be treated as a white collar professional, you have to live and work like a white collar professional: and that means building a professional reputation and facing the possibility of having to go job hunting every now and again. Not every school, every year, with every principal is going to be a "good fit." Not every decision to replace an employee needs to be justified with standards of "beyond a reasonable doubt."

                          •  White collar professional? My ass! (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            akeitz, Tonedevil, moonlightbayou

                            In my experience, "professional" is how they describe someone who does not embarrass the management. You'll have to do better than that.

                            "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:28:13 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  Tourist teacher (8+ / 0-)

                Nice term you've got there.  It does capture the "just staying for a little while" mentality of the TFA and Rhee-types. A little educational noblesse oblige and then off to bigger and better paychecks.

                Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed. --Springsteen

                by gaff98 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:23:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  LMAO... (0+ / 0-)

              So essentially, if we just count the white and Asian kids, we're doing just fine.

              ... and I'm the one whose being accused of having right-wing talking points?

              Whew...you get me!  

              the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

              by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:12:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  There's intellectual dishonesty (8+ / 0-)

          and then there's intellectual laziness, as evidenced by this:

          it's intellectually dishonest to suggest that unions couldn't possibly have anything to do with the underperformance (to put it mildly) of the educational system.

          You may as well claim that acid rain is caused by trees, because the places where we see acid rain are just FULL of them.

          I'm sorry, but if you want to blame unions for poor school performance, especially in this venue, you're going to have to do better than that.  You're going to have to show direct cause and effect (and not by using examples, especially personal examples).

          If you're like most union detractors here, you will be either too lazy or too ill-informed to do this, while simultaneously exercising your right to spew vague nonsense into the discussion.

          Please also keep in mind that in practical terms, teacher's unions are nothing more than a contractual agreement between teachers and the school systems.  Perhaps you could investigate parallels to other employment contracts, showing how this method ruins other industries.  Nearly all executives have employment contracts in nearly every business sector, other unions work within similar contracts, and so on.

          In short, we're not buying your premise, and would like you to "show your work."  

        •  What's that about holding feet to the fire... (0+ / 0-)

          yeah, uncritical support of a President, bad.  Uncrcitical support of unions and teachers, good.

          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:05:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  wrong again (22+ / 0-)

      I will ignore your totally inaccurate description of a diary that dismantles most of your talking points.

      I will simply point out that we do not rank last among industrialized nations.  In fact, in general we are in the middle of the pack.  And on many educational comparisons ordinal position does not accurately represent the differences -  the range between 5 to 10 places may be statistically insignificant.

      There is one place in which the US does rank last among industrialized democracies.  It is in the GINI coefficient, which measures economic inequity.

      We are also quite well down the list on things like providing health care and nutrition to all of our people.

      Gee, I wonder it any of those poor rankings on things like health and economic inequity have anything to do with the fact that children from poor families in general attend poor schools.

      Ya think?

      "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:27:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serrano, angeleyes, princss6

        I will simply point out that we do not rank last among industrialized nations.  In fact, in general we are in the middle of the pack.  And on many educational comparisons ordinal position does not accurately represent the differences -  the range between 5 to 10 places may be statistically insignificant.

        And this is acceptable to you?  A middling performance?  From the most powerful nation on earth?  We should be first, and we most certainly should not rank last in math and science, two of the most critical disciplines.

        There is one place in which the US does rank last among industrialized democracies.  It is in the GINI coefficient, which measures economic inequity.

        Ohhh! ... Gee, my bad! ... The GINI coefficient measures economic inequity.  Economic inequity has absolutely nothing to do with failing schools.  ... Clearly.  ... Because the educational system and the economy are two different things.

        Gee, I wonder it any of those poor rankings on things like health and economic inequity have anything to do with the fact that children from poor families in general attend poor schools.

        Ya think?

        So ... the reason the U.S. ranks poorly is because children from poor families attend poor schools.  It's got nothing to do with incompetent teachers.  Well then the solution to our problem is simple!  We should just stop educating poor children!  You'll continue to collect a nice paycheck, and those test scores will shoot up!

        I went to school in Maryland back in the day.  I remember one of the history teachers in my high school who would habitually compare the color of his bowel movements to the skin color of African Americans.  And I went to one of the better school systems.  It was ranked among the top ten public school systems in the country.

        It's abundantly clear that the American public school system is broken, and it's intellectually dishonest (to put it mildly) to suggest that unions have nothing to do with that.

        Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

        by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:42:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You had a racist teacher (11+ / 0-)

          so the educational sytem is broken? Yes the teacher was a racist and if he were teaching in my school, he would be fired.

          There are racist doctors. Ther are racist lawyers. There are racist politicians. There are racist physicists. There are racist entreprenuers. And yes ther are still racist teachers ...and homophobic taechers ... and sexist teachers.

          But that does not mean the system is broken.

          And all unions aren't perfect either. I remember the lily white unions as late as the 70s. As a whole, however, unions have contributed to the improvement of the living standards of all Americans and have often been in forefront in the struggles for equal rights.

          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

          by slatsg on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:01:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Are you telling me that the U.S. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serrano, princss6

            educational system is not broken, and that my impression that it is is merely a product of my bad experience?  Well that's really sound evidence.

            Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

            by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:15:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You are convinced that the system is broken (14+ / 0-)

              I maintain it is not broken. Your side presents your evidence. My side presents conflicting evidence.

              Perhaps, like Arne Duncan, you believe in Value Added assesments. I do not. Perhaps you believe, like Bill Sanders, that one does not even have to be in the classroom to gauge a teacher's effectiveness. I do not. Perhaps you believe that charter schools are more successful than public schools. I do not. Perhaps you believe in merit pay. I do not.

              In each instance I can present evidence to back my position. I'm certain that you can do the same.

              I am a strong proponent of public education and an advocate for unions. I know that I don't have all the answers and I am equally certain that Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan and the critics of public education don't have all the answers (even though they appear to believe that they do).

              I do know that the teachers in my high poverty school make a difference in the lives of the children. I know that they change lives. I know that my school is the best experience that many of these children have each day. I know the teachers in my school love their children and are loved by the children in return.

              A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

              by slatsg on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:36:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Agree. (6+ / 0-)

            Also--the highest scoring students statewide are usually in states that have strong teacher unions.

        •  I am sorry your teacher was so awful to you (10+ / 0-)

          No one should experience that.

          On this:

          Well then the solution to our problem is simple!  We should just stop educating poor children!  You'll continue to collect a nice paycheck, and those test scores will shoot up!

          That's how private schools and charter schools score better. It's also the practice in many other countries. In some, they eliminate poor children by providing a strong safety net; in others, they move them into different tracks that aren't necessarily picked up in these surveys.

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

          by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:31:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serrano, princss6

            In some, they eliminate poor children by providing a strong safety net; in others, they move them into different tracks that aren't necessarily picked up in these surveys.

            Are you saying this is a good idea?!  You know, if you force poor people out of certain neighborhoods, the property values go up too.  Not only that, but if you stop educating poor children, bad teachers don't have to be accountable for their failure!  It's a two-fer!  Bad teachers continue to collect paychecks and test scores get better!

            Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

            by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:34:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I prefer the safety net myself (9+ / 0-)

              Eliminate poor children by creating stable families, strong community resources, and free health care for kids so that they have clean, quiet places to live, food to eat, clean clothes, and similar fripperies.

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

              by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:38:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                serrano, princss6

                Eliminate poor children by creating stable families, strong community resources, and free health care for kids so that they have clean, quiet places to live, food to eat, clean clothes, and similar fripperies.

                So you want to give poor children all the things that would enable them to learn, but you don't want to educate them?!  Rudyard Kipling, is that you?  Obviously you believe they lack an innate ability to learn, because why wouldn't we be able to educate poor kids if we afford them strong community resources, health care and economic security?

                And we don't have to guess here.  One of the reasons I love this film is because it profiled a person who figured out how to successfully educate poor kids.  So while your liberal guilt might be quaint, it's as bankrupt as it ever was.

                Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

                by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:47:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Until I read this (12+ / 0-)

                  I actually believed your story above about the racist teacher.

                  The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

                  by happymisanthropy on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:06:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Except Rhee wasn't successful (9+ / 0-)
                  Rhee wasn't the success she was purported to be.

                  It appears that the DC community wasn't all that impressed with Rhee. They are the ones who voted her patron, Adrian Fenty, out of office.

                  A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                  by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:14:48 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  there are a lot of parents (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    fidel, moonlightbayou

                    who do not value education.

                    •  But they can be found everywhere... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      teacherken, moonlightbayou

                      not just in poor neighborhoods.  They are everywhere even in the suburbs.  

                      the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                      by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:24:49 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  an important point to make (6+ / 0-)

                        I havesome middle class white parents who are less concerned with their child's learning than in keeping their child eligible for interscholastic athletics, who always believe their children in a dispute with a teacher despite the fact that the teacher may have multiple witnesses to a particular incident.

                        I also have parents of all backgrounds whom I have to tell NOT to do their child's work, so I can see what the child can and can't do and thus be able to direct the appropriate attention and support.

                        And I have some parents whose children are simply not all that academic at this point in their lives whom they push into advanced courses the kid cannot handle and then complain when the kid struggles.

                        There are terrific parents in poor neighborhoods, who will move heaven and earth on behalf of their kids.  There are horrid parents in wealthy suburbs.  

                        All children should be seen and treated as individuals.  All parents should similar be treated as individuals.  I start with the presumption that parents care about their children.  That is why I call all my families at the start of the year -  and when I say families, the adult responsible can be a guardian, a foster parent, a sibling, an aunt/uncle, a grandparent, and last year in one case a great-grandparent was the only adult willing to take responsibility for the child -  the less said about the other adults in the extended family the 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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:53:31 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Thank you, Teacherken... (0+ / 0-)

                          for that admission.  That is all I was seeking, some balance in the discussion, so thinks for pointing out that there are all types of parents in good and bad schools!

                          the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                          by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:35:31 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  you have commented enough on my diaries (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tonedevil, Matt Z, aliasalias, m00finsan

                            to know that those who try to attack me on simplistic grounds are missing much of what it is I have to offer.

                            I am aware of subtleties.

                            I try to find agreement where possible.

                            I will often challenge the arguments of those agreeing with my general position as being flawed, as being too sweeping.

                            As far as parents who feel they have to pull their kids out of public schools, sometimes it is because they have been fed so much misinformation they believe they are sending their children to a better setting when in fact the charter at which their kids wind up does worse than the school from which s/he has been pulled.

                            I cannot address all the subtleties of educational issues in one diary.  At different times my focus is different.  I am willing to wander about a bit in the comments.

                            Many here wanted my reaction to this film.  Hence this diary.

                            My basic takeaway is the two points I make above the fold.

                            The rest is some support for reaching those conclusions.   There is much more I could have offered, but the diary is long enough as is.

                            "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:18:15 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Most certainly (4+ / 0-)

                        I went to a middle class high school where the most important thing is the football team, where the rigorous algebra teacher was seen as an obstacle to the son's "sure thing" football scholarship to UCLA.

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

                        by elfling on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:15:11 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  which reminds me of H Ross Perot (5+ / 0-)

                          and perhaps the best thing he ever did.  I think it was Governor Mark White who sought his help to get No Pass, No Play through the Texas Legislature.  Remember that in the Lone Star state the real religion is Friday Night Football -  even small towns field 8-man teams.  

                          Perot used his money to sign up every lobbyist in Austin, not because he wanted them to do anything, but so that there was no one available to lobby against the bill, which as a result, and to the surprise and shock of many, was passed and signed into law.

                          Until two years ago, one needed a 2.0 to be eligible in our district, but 2 failures in academic courses could be offset by 2 As in easy electives.  Now one cannot have a single failure, which reminds kids that academics are supposed to be first.

                          I remember being in a conference with a parent who was excoriating a math teacher for the D her son got because she said it was going to interfere with his D-1 basketball scholarship opportunities.  I interrupted to point out that the B in my class was only because he was in a very low level class, that he read - in 10th grade - at about a 6th grade level and his writing was even worse.  She blew up at me.  The principal, who had at one point been an assistant to Morgan Wootten at DeMatha (one of the top private school basketball programs, and Wootten was also a serious teacher) totally back up both the math teacher and me.

                          Not at all surprised that the mother decided to find another high school for him.  Didn't matter -  he was not D-1 eligible, and last I heard lasted one year in community college.

                          "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:00:52 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  So the parents are the problem? (4+ / 0-)

                      I thought it was the unions.

                      Oh ... I get it. Since the the parents agreed with the teachers and didn't view Rhee as their savior they don't value education.

                      Only if they buy into the hype and agree with the so-called "reformers" like Arne Duncan, Bill Bennettt and Michelle Rhee do they value education.

                      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                      by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 07:12:41 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  you want a cookie cutter answer (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        princss6

                        and the reality is more complex.

                        But in both the crappy poor people school district I lived in before and the striver suburban district I live in now, there are parents and members of the "community" who don't value education, there are good and bad teachers, etc.

                        What I disagree with in the argument I see from Ken here is the theory that parents or teachers who  use charter schools as escapes from horrible schools are stupid or evil. They don't have a moral duty to the teachers union or the supervisors or your theory of the social welfare state that overrides their duty to help their children.

                        •  Please cease with the over the top rhetoric (8+ / 0-)

                          No one has suggested that people who attend or teach at charter schools are evil and stupid.

                          I, on the other hand, can point to comments which demonize teachers and their organizations, and imply that parents who don't approve of Michelle Rhee are stupid.

                          If someone wants to send their child to a private or charter school that is their choice. I wish them well. My problem is the attempt to portray public education as a failure when the facts don't back up that assertion. My problem is Bill Bennett and Arne Duncan trumpeting charter schools as being better than regular public schools when the evidence often indicates just the opposite. My problem is the administration promoting right-wing talking points like merit pay when the research shows that merit pay does not impact teacher performance when measuered by the very standards favored by the same so-called "reformers".

                          I'm proud of what I do and I am proud of my profession. When Rhee, Bennett, and Duncan take cheap shots, I will defend public education.

                          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                          by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:33:24 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  the research is pretty clear (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            princss6

                            charter schools help in poor inner cities.

                          •  actually you are quite wrong (3+ / 0-)

                            the CREDO study was conducted by Margaret Raymond, who is the wife of Eric Hanushek, who appears in the movie.

                            Again let me cite the figures

                            performing better than public schools  17%
                            performing about the same   46%
                            performing worse than public schools  37%

                            in other words, you are twice as likely to be in a charter school serving the kids worse than the public school than you are to be in one serving them 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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:02:56 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  and when limited to low income urban areas? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            princss6

                            The results appear to indicate that suburbanites who want christian charter schools or other stuff do badly, while inner city parents who want academics do much better.

                            I wish people would stop misleading citation of aggregate numbers.

                          •  Here's the CREDO Results for NYC (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            princss6

                            Overall the results found that the typical student

                            in a New York City charter school learns more than their
                            virtual counterparts in their feeder pool in reading and mathematics. In school-by-school comparisons New
                            York City charters perform relatively better in math than in reading. In math, more than half the charter
                            schools are showing academic growth that is statistically larger than their students would have achieved in
                            their regular public schools. A third of charter schools show no difference, and 16 percent were found to
                            have significantly lower learning. In reading, the numbers are not as strong, but show that nearly 30
                            percent outperform their local alternatives, 12 percent deliver worse results and about 60 percent are
                            producing learning that is equivalent to their regular public school counterparts.
                            New charter school students show a significant loss on learning in reading but a significant benefit in math
                            compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools. In the second year, charter school students
                            show positive improvement in both reading and mathematics compared to their counterparts in traditional
                            public schools and this impact stays positive and significant through the third year of attendance.
                            The results also show that in New York City Black and Hispanic students enrolled in charter schools do
                            significantly better in reading and math compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools. Charter
                            students from most starting points also tend to do better than their peers in traditional public schools. The
                            results for students in poverty however, only show a statistical positive impact in reading and no significant
                            difference in math as compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools. Special Education
                            students and English Language Learner students in charter schools in New York City receive no significant
                            benefit or loss from charter school attendance compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools in
                            reading and math.
                            In summary, the charter school performance is generally positive in New York City compared to that of
                            traditional public schools. These results also compare positively to our national pooled results.

                          •  The research is not clear at all (3+ / 0-)

                            It's a mixed bag, at best. Recent research has not been kind to charters.

                            A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                            by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:19:35 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  it's a discredit to the anti-charter case (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            slatsg, princss6

                            that numbers are being used so selectively.

                            Here's the CREDO national summary - which indicates that for poor kids, charter schools are a win.

                            It is important to note that the news for charter schools has some encouraging facets. In our
                            nationally pooled sample, two subgroups fare better in charters than in the traditional system:
                            students in poverty and ELL students. This is no small feat. In these cases, our numbers indicate
                            that charter students who fall into these categories are outperforming their TPS counterparts in
                            both reading and math. These populations, then, have clearly been well served by the
                            introduction of charters into the education landscape. These findings are particularly heartening
                            for the charter advocates who target the most challenging educational populations or strive to
                            improve education options in the most difficult communities. Charter schools that are organized
                            around a mission to teach the most economically disadvantaged students in particular seem to
                            have developed expertise in serving these communities

                          •  "Seem to have developed" (3+ / 0-)

                            The results are not certain. There are some promising developments but the results do not justify the hype nor do they justify the push for charters by the administration.

                            If the results had been reversed - if the charters had outperformed public schools over twice as often as the public schools outperformed the charters - the news would be trumpeted far and wide by the Bennetts and the Duncans and by this administration and of course by the media; but since the opposite is true ... well ... the Credo Report is ignored, much like the Sandia Report back in the early 1990s.

                            I have no problem with parents sending their kids to charters. People should be able to make the decisions that they believe are in the best interest of their children. I simply want the comparisons to be fair. Thus far they have not been.

                            When the charters are required to take a percetage of truants or of kids who are on parole, a percentage of kids whose parents are either hostile to education or don't care enough to apply, their fair portion of special needs children and the rest; when they are required to follow the same mandates as I am and to complete the same mind-numbing paerwork I am required to do, then perhaps we can talk about a valid comparison. Until then ...

                            As I said, parents should be free to choose. And I welcome the kids that the private schools and and the charters reject. Those are my kids too. That's my mission ... to educate the public. As I tell my collegues who work in private and/or charter schools:

                            "The difference between my school and yours is that my school educates all the children, not just the chosen few."

                            A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                            by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:36:44 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  what I think you miss (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            slatsg, missliberties, princss6

                            is the desperation of parents in e.g. New York who cannot live in one of the districts where the bureaucracy creates great schools, but who are asked to send their children to garbage dumps. What charter schools do, finally, is give those people a chance to get some resources for their children. In NYC, for example, 50 years of begging the central district got no results.

            •  elfing did not say to move the families out (7+ / 0-)

              of the neighborhood but to assist them in getting out of the worst effects of poverty by providing a safety net.

              And different tracks can be for different reasons -  some kids are not developmentally ready at the same time as others.  In poor inner city neighborhoods we still have problems with damage from environmental toxins, most notably lead-based paint that still exists -  in one community in MA it took several years to identify the source as the paint on a large bridge over one neighborhood that was flaking off.

              Abd by the way, the clear cases of not testing poor kids who would be poorly performing were in Texas -  that's how a place like Houston which graduated only 40% of the kids who started 7th grade on time was claiming success -  and charters that "counsel out" those likely to pull their scores down.  This is documented, and has been written about here by several people.

              Oh yeah, one more clear example.  Duncan claimed test score performance improvements in Chicago as a result of how he reconstituted schools.  Only problem is that a close examination showed that the higher tests were done with a different makeup of the student body.  

              That's where the game-playing on test scores really occurs, to rig the books to make one's programs look good.

              "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:15:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  You are taking two facts and making (9+ / 0-)

          an unwarranted causal statement (like the film does). Yes, there are some schools that are drop out factories. And there are some bad teachers in the system. But to conclude that the reason the schools, in very poor, drug-ridden neighborhoods in LA, became drop out factories was solely or mostly because of bad teachers is not warranted.

          Nobody here is arguing that bad teachers should keep their jobs - only that the film exaggerates the difficulty of removing bad teachers (or places the blame solely on teacher unions while remaining silent about school and city administrators).

          There are problems with our public schools. Unfortunately, they aren't the kind that can be easily solved by removing bad teachers or testing kids constantly. Think about it - if you want the kids to learn more, why not provide smaller classes? Better books? More resources? Help for teachers who need it (before you "get rid of them")? Good administrators? Nutritious food, free for those kids who can't afford to pay? Health care for anyone who needs it? Time for parents to help their kids and meet with the teachers?

          It would be so nice if there was just one "bad guy" in this scenario, incompetent teachers. But there isn't. The filmmaker mocks the idea that there's a Superman who can fix everything, but his portrayal of the situation is just as one-dimensional and cartoonish...

          "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." -Muriel Rukeyser

          by tubacat on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 03:06:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Jesus, you are dumb! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil

          your inability to reason is stunning.

          It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

          by sayitaintso on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 10:59:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Also-- (4+ / 0-)

        we keep all students in public schools and test them all.  Some nations "track" their lower performing students into vocational schools at the high school level, leaving the cream of the crop to take the academic tests.

  •  You know, (20+ / 0-)

    sometimes I just don't have to see a film. This is one of them.

    The anti-union crap that is everywhere in the criticism of schools is one of the things that really tics me off.

    Why is it that the unions are attacked in every industry where they stil exist?

    If these people criticizing schools really cared about schools, kids, or education they would get rid of every Republican in every office out there.

    Those are the true enemies of education, cutting budgets, undercutting the teaching of science, political science, history, the very existence of public schools-- you name it. And yet they claim to care about kids?

    I think most of us can smell the bullshit.

    I must be dreaming...

    by murphy on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:11:23 PM PDT

    •  Simple. Unions are bad. Ask the Chamber of (17+ / 0-)

      Commerce or any republican. The union bashing is part of their grand plan to take us to a 3rd world country status. You'll be grateful to take a job at a 1.25 an hour and work 60+ hours a week when they are done. That. Is. Their. Plan.

      "I have ferrets with fins" - African Cichlids. And 3 pooties too! Ren, Stimpy (15 yrs) and Rocky (3 yrs)

      by mrsgoo on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:16:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I see (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      serrano, fidel, angeleyes, princss6

      So unions should be allowed to fail children because they're ... unions?  Or can you cite a study that wasn't in the film you refuse to see which finds that the U.S. school system isn't failing?

      Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

      by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:17:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You need to flesh that out a little better for me (8+ / 0-)

        I never said I refused to see the film.
        I do not understand the comment "So unions should be allowed to fail children" - please elaborate on that comment.

        My point in the comment is that union bashing seems to be all the rage right now on the R side of the aisle. Listening to Meg Whitman the other night in her debate against Jerry Brown - everything that is wrong with public schools is the fault of unions. I do not believe that to be true. Please clarify.

        "I have ferrets with fins" - African Cichlids. And 3 pooties too! Ren, Stimpy (15 yrs) and Rocky (3 yrs)

        by mrsgoo on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:21:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're asking me to flesh out (0+ / 0-)

          an argument that you refuse to expose yourself to?  It'd be a colossal a waste of my time to honor such a disingenuous request.

          Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

          by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:28:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why are you saying that I'm asking you to flesh (6+ / 0-)

            out "an argument that you refuse to expose yourself to"? What is your basis for that statement? What is your argument exactly?

            "I have ferrets with fins" - African Cichlids. And 3 pooties too! Ren, Stimpy (15 yrs) and Rocky (3 yrs)

            by mrsgoo on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:36:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I wonder if you have paid attention (19+ / 0-)

            the film bashes teachers unions, yet attempts to argue that we need to catch up with Finland, which has schools that are 100% unionized.

            If you looked at the map of dropout factories, a disproportionate share are in right to work states, where the union is not an issue.

            Oh, and another intellectually dishonest thing in the film is the citing of performance at grade level.  If these are the NAEP performance levels, the late Gerald Bracey conclusively showed that the levels are artificial.  On the surface it looks like Guggenheim is citing the percentage of students who are proficient.  But as Bracey demonstrated, if we applied those levels to the countries we are supposedly competing with, their percentage of proficient would be no better than ours.

            You've drunk the koolaid.  Perhaps you were oriented in that direction already, willing to bash unions?

            "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:38:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              serrano, princss6

              I wonder if you have paid attention (2+ / 0-)
              the film bashes teachers unions, yet attempts to argue that we need to catch up with Finland, which has schools that are 100% unionized

              So is this the kind of "reasoning" you teach your students?  If a film "bashes unions," it necessarily means that the filmmakers are against the idea of unionizing teachers?!  What about the more obvious conclusion that the unions need restructuring to better serve students?  The unions in their present incarnation are failing children.  The evidence is overwhelming.

              You've drunk the koolaid.  Perhaps you were oriented in that direction already, willing to bash unions?

              You're right.  I have drunk the koolaid that tells me that teachers and teachers unions should be accountable for their failure, and that teachers who underperform should be sacked.  Just as I don't believe the bankers we bailed out should get bonuses, I don't think that people who underperform so miserably should collect a paycheck for life.  

              Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

              by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:50:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ah - now that I can agree to. People who are (7+ / 0-)

                underperforming need to be let go. A union should NOT protect folks who are not doing their job. There needs to be standards in place and if you're not performing up to those standards - bye, bye. That's how it worked my entire adult working life.

                "I have ferrets with fins" - African Cichlids. And 3 pooties too! Ren, Stimpy (15 yrs) and Rocky (3 yrs)

                by mrsgoo on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:59:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well that's essentially this film's position. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  serrano, fidel, princss6

                  And it's a position that's really hard to argue with, IMHO.

                  Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

                  by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:05:30 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  actually it is quite easy to argue with (10+ / 0-)

                    because it in fact is not unionization that is the problem -  higher test scores in unionized states than in non-unionized states.   Non unionized MS dismisses experienced teachers at less than half the rate of unionized California, and CA has tenure and MS does not.

                    And by the way -  test scores can rise without any increase in real learning.  The conversion from raw score to scaled score can be and often is manipulated, so one set of scores does not mean the same as another.  That is why NY State restated its test scores and guess what -  NYC was NOT showing the improvement they claimed.  The results were all an artifact of the conversion process.  Or the student scores do not stay stable -  when you track the students in a subsuquent year they drop, because the first set were the results of intensive test prep, which CAN raise scores.

                    And before you stick your other foot in your mouth, I do not drill and kill, my students do quite well on external tests -  I mean ALL of my students.  And what they learn in my class seems to stick - many of the kids from my lower level classes come back and thank me later in their high schools careers.

                    I have now answered quite a few of your comments.  You are stubbornly refusing to listen to anyone who answers you and points out the flaws in your argument.

                    I am therefore not going to use any more of my limited time to respond to you unless and until you actually say something new.

                    "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:21:53 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  You obviously have little concept of the role of (14+ / 0-)

                a union.

                One of the purposes of a union is to provide due process, much the way a lawyer provides due process for a person accused of a crime.

                Who should make the decision regarding a teacher's effectiveness? One administrator? I aam an administrator and, unlike many, I don't consider myself omniscient.

                The average tenure of an administrator is 3-5 years. That means a teacher with 30 years of experience will typically work for 5-10 administrators. If each administrator is a Michelle Rhee, someone who believes (based on two years of teachhing expreience)that she has all the answers and that those who don't strictly adhere to her beliefs should be terminated, then a union is necessary to protect teachers.

                A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                by slatsg on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:17:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Problem (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  princss6

                  Unions are great.

                  It is great that unions provide a due process.
                  The film explores this due process.

                  The problem is that unions have negotiated a due process that protects the good and bad teachers. Instead of firing the bad teachers, all we can do is the "dance of the lemons".

                  That is why, those of us who hate the status quo, have teamed up with those who would destroy unions.

                  •  negotiations are not one-sided (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Tonedevil, aliasalias, m00finsan

                    why are you not saying the school boards negotiated such an agreement?

                    As to "dance of the lemons" it is a characteristic of many organizations not to bite the bullet to get rid of bad apples, but to simply move them around.  That is true of the Catholic Church.  It has on occasion been true of the military.

                    Insofar as it happens in schools, it is because administrators do not take the time to fully document so they can discharge.  That may be because of the pressures they face from outside the building, because they are too overburdened, because they can hope against hope that someone else's lemons might actually be somewhat better than what they move out.

                    Due process exists to protect all.  The Bill of Rights exists to protect all.  In the latter case, that includes the worst criminal offenders.  Yet if you are ever falsely accused you will be more than grateful for the protection.

                    "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:25:12 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

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

                    but true...

                    That is why, those of us who hate the status quo, have teamed up with those who would destroy unions.

                    The best way to beat back school reform is to improve student outcomes, IMO.  Saying that you can't or won't will only increase school reform.

                    the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                    by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:39:40 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Depends how you define "outcomes" (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      itsbenj, wsexson, Tonedevil, m00finsan

                      If you buy into value-added assesments, then we don't agree.

                      If you believe that multiple choice test scores are the sole determinant of a teacher's effectiveness, then we don't agree.

                      Folks like Arne Duncan and Bill Bennett have simplistic solutions to complicated problems.

                      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                      by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 07:19:53 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Multiple Choice tests.. (0+ / 0-)

                        are the main criteria to moving to the next level, college.  So yes, I believe test scores need to be a part of the equation.  I wouldn't be where I am today, if it wasn't for how I performed on my SAT primarily.  That is reality.

                        the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

                        by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:25:35 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  actually they are not (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          itsbenj, wsexson, Tonedevil, m00finsan

                          for the better colleges, while they may require SATs, they want far more, and those weigh less heavily than the quality of the high school record.  I do admissions work for Haverford College, and at college fairs I talk with admissions folks from other colleges.

                          College tests are rarely multiple choice.  

                          And increasingly there are good colleges that are SAT/ACT optional or don't even look at such scores.  You might want to explore this link from Fairtest of score optional etc 4 year institutions.

                          Most community colleges do not require SAT scores.

                          Haverford publishes the middle 50%  (25-75h percentile) of the SAT scores of the class admitted to provide guidance.  I have had students admitted who fell below the 25th percentile, because they had good records (APs and GPA) in our rigorous Science and Tech program, which was more meaningful to our admissions folks than their SAT scores -  they had demonstrated they could handle the rigorous course work they would encounter at the College.

                          "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 08:58:37 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

      •  Unions aren't failing the children (16+ / 0-)

        but our politicians are. The only time we see bipartisanship is when the politicians bash educators.

        This administration's educational policies are flawed. Race to the Top is no better, in fact may be worse, than No Child Left Behind.

        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

        by slatsg on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:36:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Huh? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          serrano, politicalget, princss6

          Unions aren't failing the children (4+ / 0-)
          but our politicians are.

          Unions don't contribute to political campaigns?  Politicians don't pass laws that are favorable to unions at the expense of kids?

          You obviously have little concept of the role of unions in politics.

          Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

          by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:19:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Laws are favorable to unions at the expense (10+ / 0-)

            of kids? It must be nice to live in such a binary world. Unions or kids. I believe in both.

            And as far as the politicians are concerned, I have a Democratic president and a Democratic Governor. Neither has proposed legislation or policies favorable to teacher unions.

            A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

            by slatsg on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:42:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Especially in Democratic politics... (0+ / 0-)

            puhleeze.  Teachers unions are very powerful, this no one should be able to deny.  If a corporation had pumped 1 million into the DC race, heads would explode around here.  Pssh but it is barely mentioned the million the teachers union dropped into the DC race.  Alls quiet.  

            the most important factor whether students succeed is not their skincolor or their ZIP code or their parents' income - it is the quality of their teacher

            by princss6 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:41:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  ocrporation pumped big dollars (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, aliasalias, m00finsan

              into primary races in New York City against those opposing lifting of the cap on charters.  As it happens, to no avail.

              And that did NOT get the attention that the unions spending in DC did.  That spending only partially offset the dollars given to Fenty, if not directly by corporations, by individuals whose money came from corporations.  Remember, Fenty had several times the amount of money that Gray did.

              And corporations are spending far more this cycle on congressional elections than are unions.

              "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 09:00:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I've read every comment you wrote on this subject (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            itsbenj, Tonedevil, m00finsan

            I've found them all to be totally unconvincing, and at times purposely misleading and daft.  You aren't engaging in an honest argument.  I honestly don't know why people are wasting their time with you.  

  •  Off topic thought/question? (6+ / 0-)

    I always enjoy the insights you share in your columns.  Your students are lucky.  I'm a strong believer in public schools.  Right now I'm considering putting my 4th grader in a private girls school when the time comes and am really struggling with it - lots of guilt, feeling as though I'm betraying my beliefs. We live in Howard County and I'm really happy with our school and all that the teachers do for the students. It's the social stuff that scares me to death.  I'm seeing it creeping in already and know of drinking and sex in 6th grade at the middle school.  At best it's a distraction, worse case a child is damaged forever.  Do you feel our popular culture is part of the problem in education today,if so how can we work to counteract this?

    •  don't have time for extended conversation (9+ / 0-)

      Howard schools are solid.  I have good friends who work there as teachers and in one case as a principal.

      You do not get away from the social issues in private schools.  You may get them in a different form.

      Our popular culture is only a part of the problems.

      I am not going to argue with you about what you think is best for your child.  I do not know either you or the child.

      I am going to say that the kids I teach have an opportunity for as good an education as they would get almost anywhere.  Would it be better if I didn't have 38 in an AP class?  Possibly, but what if the only way to get there is to turn some over to a far less qualified or dedicated teacher?  That is also the problem.

      And we will not solve our problems with teachers by beating up on them.

      I know that as the teachers in our school are feeling under attack, financially and with lack of respect and communication from our district administration as well as what comes across national media, the response has been a surge of interest in the union.  Those stepping up to activity are among the most honored and dedicated and gifted in the school.  The official and unofficial teacher leaders are among them.  

      What if we lose these?  We have many who are eligible for retirement.  Hell, I am because of my age, although my pension would not be all that substantive.  We have teachers with more than 30 years experience who can walk out the door any time if they get fed up.  They would be almost impossible to replace.  And they are getting fed up.

      They look at and listen to the national discourse on education, see where the administration is heading, and that gets them mad.  They want to know why their voices about what is necessary are excluded.  At some point something snaps - one of the best teachers I know has decided this will be the last year and is mentally shutting down already.  EVen mentally shut down s/he can teach rings around most teachers in this country, but the kids are not getting the full value they would have been getting.

      Private school teachers don't have to deal with the testing obsession.  They usually have fewer discipline problems, but God forbid you try to discipline the child of a board member in some private schools.  They have other issues, but those are not my concern.  My focus is trying to save public education.

      "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 Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:50:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are right. (7+ / 0-)

        We lost an excellent math teacher because she felt pressure to always be on the same laesson plan as the other teachers because it was mandated for the TEST.  It didn't matter that the students needed reinforcement at times before going on to a new lesson.  She even felt that she couldn't take off on the day of her son's surgery, because it was close to the big test and the pressure was on.  It is ridiculous.  

      •  Thank you for your response... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil

        You articualte my feelings, I'm not able to as well.  With the exception of one my daughter's teacher's have been stellar.  The admisistration is responsive.  I have enormous respect after volunteering in our school and seeing what these teachers do for our kids.

        You brought up testing - that's part of my problem.  Two thirds of last year was spent prepping for the MSA's.  What a waste for many of the kids. How awful for the teachers.  Am I wrong in thinking taht they should test only to figure out what each child needs?  I know there will be problems in a private school - we are decidedly middle class and probably won't fit in.  I imagine a nest of Republicans. I'm considering only a specific school, all girls, because it eliminates that issue at school and supposedly this school brings in a large number of girls from the city.  Considering a private school goes against my grain.  I believe every child has a right to an excellent education.  Maybe I live in a bubble but I believe that much of what goes on in our culture is harmful for kids.  Why read "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" instead of "James and the Giant Peach"  or watch "Hannah Montana" instead of playing outside?  I can't stomach the idea of throwing my daughter into facing sex and alcohol and airheads in the 6th grade.

        I'm rambling, I just want to thank you for what you do.  I look forward to your posts always.

    •  It depends on your child and your choices (6+ / 0-)

      You might find that a good place to ask this question is over at DK's sister site, Mother Talkers. The conversations go a little longer there, and there are a lot of mothers with good insight at a variety of ages.

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

      by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 11:35:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Huh? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, angeleyes, princss6

    There is not a single example of a successful traditional public school, whether in troubled neighborhoods -  and they do exist - or in places like suburbs where many of our schools perform at levels as high as in any place in the world.

    Um ... I don't think so.  The white student he followed went to a public school that was successful, relatively speaking.  Her parents just wanted her to be in a better one.

    Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

    by fou on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:18:59 PM PDT

  •  Class Size (15+ / 0-)

    Glad that somebody finally mentioned it.

    The union bashing is totally repellant, especially for the oldest union in the country.  With Bill Gates and Oprah lined up against you it's not a fair fight but then neither of them are fair either.  Witness Oprah's shilling for Ah-nold on her show (as did Leno) before the special election that made him Governator.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:19:11 PM PDT

  •  Up with teachers (11+ / 0-)

    What else can I say?

    I'm not a teacher. But I am a product of their teaching in the public school system. And that was in the 1960s-1970s until entering the (public) university system in California. Which makes me outdated in the debate.

    The assault on public schools grates on me. Teachers are held to such high standards and expectations. Absent from the discussion is curriculum. Looking back, my main complaint about my public education is we were not taught Latin and informal logic.

    The former was a vanity (though root words would have helped), the latter a necessity.

    Today? I can't imagine what pressures modern teachers face.

  •  Thanks for this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kidspeak, blueoasis, Matt Z

    I haven't seen the film but my intuition tells me I will agree with everything you say.

    "Fighting for us, good. Winning, better. Talking about fighting? Not so good."--Atrios

    by andrewj54 on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:27:50 PM PDT

  •  Here's what bothers me (16+ / 0-)

    Guggenheim admits his sense of guilt.  He talks about his admiration for teachers.  He reminds us of his 1999 film "First Year" about dedicated teachers.  He shows us video of driving past four public schools to take his child to a PRIVATE school (note, NOT a charter school).  But we never are given any specifics.  We are not even told if any of those is the public school his child would have attended.  He uses his skill with films to have us infer that none of the four does a decent job of instructing kids, and that his child would have to attend one of them.  But we are given NO data to support such an inference.

    From what I've inferred from his interviews, the man says he wants to use the local public schools, but "can't" because of the test scores. As far as I have been able to determine, he's never been inside these schools or checked them out in any close way besides deciding that the STAR test results make him sad. Now, if he's an ordinary dad, fine, we make our choices, we're all busy. But if he's an education journalist, why didn't he take the time to call them up and check it out?

    Test scores, for the good and the bad, don't really say how YOUR CHILD will do. My high school had middle-to-low test scores, and yet sent students on to Stanford, Caltech, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, etc etc. And kids who go to schools with high test scores don't always do well. A school that works well for other kids might not for yours, and vice versa.

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

    by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:28:44 PM PDT

  •  Thanks Ken - wish Detroit would listen (16+ / 0-)

    We are having the "waiting for superman" ideas used to destroy our local school system.  After  years of corrupt governance, administrative incompetence, and fiscal disasters - in the context of rampant racism, Detroit schools are on the brink of being torn apart.

    Test the kids, fire the teachers, blame everything on the unions and teachers - ignoring poverty exceeding 40% among Detroit's school children, destruction of the financial base of the city, years of unequal funding.  Somehow, mentioning all of those things is criticized as using "excuses" for not producing achievement at the same level as districts funded much much higher, with more intact families, jobs, buildings, and social services.

    I am convinced that somewhere, éminence grises are working hard to take down the public funding of education. Some children - those whose parents cannot pay - are born without worth, I guess, given that nothing is to be done for them beyond blaming the people who work hard to raise them and teach them. I, too, am saddened to see progressives jumping in to support this takedown of public education.

    There is no Common Good that will result  from the fracturing of the system for producing educated citizens.

  •  I have a husband and wife who are both teachers (7+ / 0-)

    who keep their boat at our marina. She is literally counting the minutes and seconds to retirement. They've both been at it for a long time. The stories they tell about how little respect they get in the classroom are horrifying. What is the bottom line for this - THE F'N PARENTS!!! When a 9th grader gets into a fight with another in the classroom and she goes to break it up and this punk literally throws her on her ass - what do you expect? This is so totally f'd up. I'm gonna sound like a republican here - yep - bring school back to the local level - bring the parents in to the process!! Seems like a lot of parents just look at school as a babysitting service. WTF? GET INVOLVED. WTF is YOUR kid doing? What are their grades? You can't blame the teachers when the parents just don't seem to give a rats ass about their childrens education. Hence my comment above - if this keeps going on - you'll be glad to work a job at a 1.25 an hour for 60 hours a week because we have dumbed down society so much that they just flipping don't know any better.

    "I have ferrets with fins" - African Cichlids. And 3 pooties too! Ren, Stimpy (15 yrs) and Rocky (3 yrs)

    by mrsgoo on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:31:24 PM PDT

    •  Parents are key. (4+ / 0-)

      And time and time again I hear it from people I know who teach...the parents expect the teachers to raise their kids. Thank Goddess I had two parents who cared a hell of a lot about my education.

      The next OneCare Happy Hour will be 10/29/10 -- come in costume!
      The Village loves the people having their say, when they say what they want them to.

      by Pris from LA on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:59:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The more I think about it, if we want Finland's (22+ / 0-)

    results, we should consider emulating some of Finland's policies, like that all workers - thus including working parents - get 3 weeks paid vacation (in addition to the holidays that Americans generally get).

    I want to do the experiment: set up a control group and a group of families where the adults get three weeks of paid leisure time they can spend with their children. What happens to the test scores? I bet it's more than any of the other interventions that anyone has proposed or studied.

    Somehow, I don't see Bill Gates lining up to fund this with a grant.

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

    by elfling on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:32:00 PM PDT

  •  We know the WH is a big fan of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, blueoasis, m00finsan

    this documentary.

    I work with B2B PAC, and all views and opinions in this account are my own.

    by slinkerwink on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:48:57 PM PDT

    •  Of course they are (8+ / 0-)

      The administration is a proponent of charter schools, despite evidence that they are more often than not less effective than public schools; and they believe in merit pay despite the latest research that shows that merit pay has no impact on teacher performance.

      Race to the Top Bottom is NCLB on steroids. This administration's educational policies have thus far been as bad, if not worse, than the policies of the Bush administration.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:26:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's interesting that Obama (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slatsg, m00finsan

        is such a fan of what Arne Duncan did to the Chicago Public Schools (which I attended), yet his daughters went to the University of Chicago Lab School, an elite private school. The neighborhood has some pretty good public schools, as things go, although there's been controversy about some of the changes made by Duncan which weren't positive. In fact, the CPS have been so wrecked by these "reform" ideas that if I were growing up today, despite the fact that my parents were huge advocates of public education, my sisters and I would be at Lab School too.

        De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

        by anastasia p on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 07:20:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Most of the analyses I have read regarding (0+ / 0-)

          Duncan's tenure at CPS have not been positive. The Chicago miracle was anothet version of Rod Paige's Houston Miracle.

          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

          by slatsg on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 07:47:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I don't have a dog in this hunt (9+ / 0-)

    I'm neither a teacher nor am I a parent.  I saw "Waiting for Superman" this summer, and while it made a good story and told it well, it had a couple flaws that significantly diminished my respect for the film makers.

    The first is that the blame was too one-sided.  The US problems with education are many and complex, and the film seemed to place an inordinate amount of blame for the situation on teachers and teachers unions.  Every parent depicted in the story was very involved in the child's education and was doing everything they could to find a better place for their child.  That is not always true - too many parents expect the teacher to do everything, or they have checked out completely from the kid's lives.

    The second problem I had was the resolution of each child's story.  Only the white, middle-class child got into a "preferred" school.  The minority kids were shut out.  I don't like the implication that minorities are excluded from getting the best education possible - it's not just the white kids that are given the chance to succeed.

    Like many documentaries, this one does not attempt to summarize the overall situation, rather it takes a position and builds a story around that position.  In that sense, the film was well made.  I just disagree with the position chosen by the film-makers.

  •  My kids went to private school and I have no (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    princss6, Huginn and Muninn

    guilt for having sent them. We live in So Cal. Our schools are full of gangs, drugs, weapons, teachers that aren't up to snuff, and we have some ridiculous drop-out rate of about 60-70% for minorities. I didn't want my kids in that type of an environment. I didn't want to have to move to Burbank, or Beverly Hills, or Verdugo City to get into the "right school". So instead we ate beans/rice and the kids went to a very expensive private school. NO, I don't feel one ounce of guilt about it. I feel very sorry for the 100's of thousands, or millions of parents here that can't get the money together to do the same. No child should spend their day in too many of our public schools. They are too big, too many kids per class, teacher teaching subjects that they didn't major in, no phys ed prgm, no arts, no music..... They SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I haven't seen the movie, yet but look forward to doing so. It's gotten rave reivews by many. It's sure gotten people talking about this subject which is vital to our countries survival and prosperity. Certainly the status quo....ain't cuttin it.

    Someone who deosn't give a crap about unions, is truely bi-partisan, and cares GREATLY for children needs to do a massive tour of schools state by state and find everything that works....and everything that doesn't. Teachers, administrators, students, and parents all need to be interviewed in private with full confidentiality to get real info about what is happening. Then that same person needs to go to countries that are producing smart educated kids and do the same. THEN.....our public school system needs to be re-vamped based on what works, and eliminate what doesn't.

    My mom, dad, both grands, 1 g-grand, and my daughter all do or have taught in the public schools. I have the utmost admiration for teachers. They are over-wored and under-paid. I don't write this from a position of disdain for teachers. Far from it.

    If we have to rebuild schools, feed children 3 hot squares per day, send them home with sleeping bags so they are rested, and pay for their medical care....then we need to do it. But once those little buggers enter into the school....it's time to teach. Get rid of the psych drugs, get rid of the crappy teachers, get rid of the excuses, lets go, get it done.

    I'm all for teachers having a union that promotes good pay, and benefits for teachers. Beyond that...not so much. People in all industries get fired for poor performance on an "at will" basis. The same should hold for a teacher.

    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

    by Lucy2009 on Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 10:53:48 PM PDT

    •  If it's "at will", then (7+ / 0-)

      employees can be fired whether they are doing a lousy job or an outstanding job.

      "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

      by NWTerriD on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:39:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but employers generally want to keep (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        politicalget, princss6

        good employees!

        Between unions, unemployment, lawsuits, etc....there is quite alot of recourse for an employee even in an "at will" state.

        So what is your problem with what I've said? Clearly, I've ticked you off! How come?

        I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

        by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 01:04:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How come? (16+ / 0-)

          Because you're full of shit, that's how come. Just as employees run the gamut of competence and effectiveness, so do employers. If you don't think there are a lot of shitty employers, you're not living on THIS planet, that's for sure.

          Bad employers value control over results, They value compliance and obedience over professional integrity. They run their shops for their own benefit and the benefit of their cronies, and not for the benefit of those whom they purport to serve.

          GOOD employers generally want to keep good employees. In the public school systems, there are rotten superintendents and rotten principals, just as, in any large population, there are rotten teachers.

          Don't be so quick to dismiss due process and bargaining power for those on the "bottom" while absolving the undeserving at the "top" from their responsibility to perform.

          "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 Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:37:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is SO true (9+ / 0-)

            It's why we have EEO and civil rights laws.  It's why Libertarians are SO clueless as to why we need those laws because in their world, no employer would ever act without integrity.  HAHAHAHAHA!

            --Mr. President, you have to earn my vote every day. Not take it for granted. --

            by chipoliwog on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 06:35:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I've never said that an employer would act (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              princss6

              without integrity. I've never said I was anti-unions. The exact opposite actually.

              I've been an employee my entire working life. Of course, I believe that there need to be laws governing their behaviour, and what's allowed. Not sure what you guys read that has sent you flaming mad!

              I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

              by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:36:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Ivan A thought (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg

            Except for your alienating first sentence your response was excellent. My preference is to see sharing views fostered especially ones so well said.  :)

            http://www.thatwhichisgood.com

            by thatwhichisgood on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 07:10:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What exactly did I say that was so scurrilous? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              princss6

              I'm not anti-employee, teachers, or unions.......

              Can't think of any comments that I've written that would say otherwise.

              I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

              by Lucy2009 on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 12:37:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What you said (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Tonedevil

                is that teachers' unions should not be able to demand that school districts must have valid reasons for firing teachers, nor should they be able to demand that school districts use a fair procedure (known as "due process") in order to fire a teacher. That is what tenure is -- school districts have to have a valid, employment-related reason to fire a teacher, and they must use due process to determine and document that such a reason exists. You said that you don't think teachers are entitled to that.

                "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

                by NWTerriD on Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 05:44:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Hummm.....I didn't mean to convey that. (1+ / 0-)
                  <