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On Sunday, the Washington Post published a mind-bogglingly dishonest 'manifesto' by the Rhee and a bunch of the 'leaders' in education. It's so dishonest, I did what any good teacher should.  I took out my red pen and corrected it.

As actual educators with actual classroom experience we are responsible for educating all the children that enter our rooms and walk our halls, we know that the task of reforming the country's public schools is a dishonest attempt that will destroy our public schools forever. It is our obligation to enhance the personal growth and academic achievement of our students, and we must oppose the efforts of those that would see our schools become testing mills.

All of us have taken steps to mitigate the disaster that is No Child Left Behind, but the travesty embodied in the Obama administration’s misnamed Race to the Top program has been the catalyst for more efforts to destroy public education than we have seen in decades. But those reforms are still outpaced and outsized by the crisis of Big Money buying up and shutting down public education.

Fortunately, the public, and our leaders in government, are finally paying attention. The"Waiting for 'Superman' " documentary, the defeat of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty,Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million gift to Newark's public schools, and a tidal wave of media attention have helped spark a national debate and presented us with an extraordinary opportunity.

But the transformative changes needed to truly prepare our kids for the 21st-century global economy simply will not happen unless we first shed some of the entrenched practices that have held back our education system, practices that have long favored the wealthy elite, not children. These practices are wrong, and they have to end now.
It's time for all of the adults -- superintendents, educators, elected officials, labor unions and parents alike -- to start acting like we are responsible for the future of our children. Because right now, across the country, kids are stuck in crushing poverty, having given up hope while waiting for us to do something.

So, where do we start? With the basics. As President Obama has emphasized, the single most important factor determining whether students succeed in school is not the color of their skin or their ZIP code or even the ‘quality’ of their teacher -- it is their parent’s income.

Yet, for too long, we have let teacher hiring and retention be determined by politicians, businessmen and tin-pot dictators on school boards. The widespread policy of "last in, first out" (the teacher with the least seniority is the first to go when cuts have to be made) makes it easier to hold on to seasoned, experienced and effective educators but ignores the one thing that unfortunately  matters most to the power-hungry superintendent or chancellor : the ability to fire whoever they want for no reason at all and with no due process.

A 7-year-old girl won't make it to college someday because her teacher has never served in a classroom before and only joined Teach for America to avoid burnout or can be transferred and fired at will -- she will make it to college if her teacher is well-educated and experienced  and compels her to reach for success. By contrast, an ineffective power-mad superintendent can hold back hundreds, maybe thousands, of students over the course of a career. Each day that we ignore this reality is precious time lost for children preparing for the challenges of adulthood.

The glacial process for removing an incompetent leader -- and our discomfort as a society with criticizing anyone with money -- has left our school districts impotent and, worse, has robbed millions of children of a real future.

There isn't a business in America that would survive if it couldn't refuse to give everything it made away to all its customers no matter how money they had or whether they bothered to pay at all. That is why everything we use in assessing teachers is part of the problem; their effectiveness in the classroom cannot be measured on increasing student achievement alone.

District leaders also need to demonstrate responsibility to ensure that financial incentives are not used as a backhanded way of reducing teacher pay and eliminating teachers that have fallen out of political favor. When teachers are highly effective -- measured in significant part by how well they are supported by their communities, parents, and administrators -- or are willing to take a job in a tough school or in a hard-to-staff subject area such as advanced math or science, we should be able to pay them for their education and experience. Important initiatives, such as the federal Teacher Incentive Fund, are already helping bring great educators to struggling communities, but we have to fight changing the rules to turn teachers into low-skilled factory laborers.

Let's stop ignoring basic economic principles of social justice and focus on how we can establish an academic culture in every American school -- a culture that rewards excellence, elevates the status of teachers and is positioned to help as many students as possible succeed. We need the best teacher for every child, and the best principal for every school. Of course, we must also do a better job of providing meaningful training for teachers who seek to improve, but let's stop pretending that everyone who opines on what goes on in the classroom has the ability and temperament to lift our children to excellence.

Even the best teachers -- those who possess such skills -- face stiff challenges in meeting the diverse needs of their students. A single elementary- or middle-school classroom can contain, for instance, students who read on two or three different grade levels, and that range grows even wider as students move into high school. Is it reasonable to expect a teacher to address all the needs of 25 or 30 students when some are reading on a fourth-grade level and others are ready for Tolstoy? We must equip educators with the best technology available to make instruction more effective and efficient. By better using technology to augment student learning while avoiding the trap of ‘individualized’ teacher-less instruction, we can help transform our classrooms and lessen the burden on teachers' time.

To make this transformation work, we must also eliminate arcane rules such as "seat time," which requires a student to spend a specific amount of time in a classroom with a teacher rather than being able to work to the level of their abilities.

Just as we must give teachers and schools the capability and flexibility to meet the needs of students, we must give parents an incentive to behave like parents. That starts with having the courage to require parents participate in their childrens’ educations by helping with homework and participating in the school. Closing a neighborhood school -- whether it's in Southeast D.C., Harlem, Denver or Chicago -- is not an option. Ever. But no one ever said leadership is easy.

We also must eliminate charter schools as a truly viable option. If all of our neighborhood schools were charters, we wouldn't be facing this crisis since the ‘rules’ wouldn’t apply to them. But all our children need great schools now -- whether district-run public schools serving all children or ‘public’ charter schools serving only the wealthy elite shouldn’t be decided by hedge-fund managers out to privatize everything. Excellence must be our only criteria for evaluating our schools; a measure by which most private and charter schools fail to do any better than public schools.

For the wealthiest among us, the crisis in public education may still seem like an opportunity to oppress the poor for the next several generations, because those families can afford to choose something better for their kids. But it's a problem for all of us -- until we fix poverty, we will never fix the nation's educational shortcomings. Until we fix the gap between the haves and the have-nots, our schools will only serve the wealthy elite and the United States will fall further behind the rest of the industrialized world in education, rendering the American dream a distant, elusive memory.

*Since my red pen doesn't seem to work too well on the screen, my corrections are in boldface.

Originally posted to Balachan on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:01 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  So right on so many fronts (0+ / 0-)

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

      by anastasia p on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:09:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A+! (0+ / 0-)

      ...and correct on every point. I think Michelle would get a D- F for her manifesto.

    •  "it is their parent’s income" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      princss6

      I think that bolded line is the single most important point about the problem of education in this country.

      Let's face it. The US is a meritocracy - but this meritocracy is mainly open only to those born in some wealth (and just enough of a few lucky ones from the lower classes to give the whole farce some semblance of legitimacy).

      Entrance into Tsinghua University or the Indian Institute of Technology, for instance, are based on entrance exams. Those exams are extremely difficult, yes, but they are fair to the extent that everyone knows what they need to prepare for - and the poor have a shot at going to these elite universities and then making a life for themselves. The poor, therefore, have an incentive to work very, very hard because they can win a chance to get ahead in life. Poor parents drive their kids hard because they can leverage off of their kids' successes.

      Entrance into our elite higher institutions are a very different proposition. We value things like extracurricular activities - but are the poor likelier be able to do science fair projects? Volunteer hundreds of hours? Join debate club? Play one (or two) instruments? The poor kids are far less likely to be able to invest enough time and money and energy into any of these types of things to improve their chances of getting into, say, Harvard, to justify any such expenditure at all.

      It is therefore no surprise that our schools just aren't as good because our kids and our parents are not as motivated - learning things in school means much less to the future for our kids than for kids in foreign countries.

  •  The Great Tragedy (2+ / 0-)

    Is the lack of a voice with a big microphone to fight for equity and social justice.  That and every time I see the Michelle Rhee USA network 'character' ad I vomit a little.

  •  One very large, very wrong point. (9+ / 0-)

    We also must eliminate charter schools as a truly viable option.

    No. No. No. No. No.

    Public charters don't serve "the wealthy elite." Public charters are randomly selective (via lottery) and do not receive the corporate funding that private, for-profit charter groups do.

    You want to slam "corporate education," fine. But you can do that without taking a slap at successful charters (and by that, I mean schools with buy-in and involvement from teachers, parents, administrators and students).

    If you can't make that distinction, then you are blind to the great good that truly community-oriented public charters are doing.

    "We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it." -- Willy Wonka

    by Huginn and Muninn on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:20:21 PM PDT

    •  If we believe in educating all (4+ / 0-)

      of the children why do we want to carve out charters leaving less to resources to provide for the rest of the children. Let's make all schools quality schools.

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

      by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:33:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are pretending not to understand. (4+ / 0-)

        Charters do not carve anything out. They are accessible to all children.

        •  Yes, they do. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sillia

          They carve out the best students - by "counseling out" the ones who they don't think will perform.

          They carve out the most active parents; by selecting only those children whose parents have entered them into a lottery, they select for students whose parents are engaged.

          They carve out interest, dividing the resources and energies of a community instead of uniting them to fix spaces that are for the whole community, not just the lucky few.

          And they carve out resources, taking money away from neighborhood public schools and giving it to charters.

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

          by mistersite on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 09:39:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Counseling out" is bunk, and... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            edtastic, princss6

            ...so is the idea that Charters, "carve out the most active parents".

            Charters attract the kids who aren't fitting well into the Public School. If a kid is doing well and is happy in Public School, do you think his family is gonna pull him out?

            Heck, no. Charters get the kids that the Public Schools have "counseled out". They get the kids that the Public Schools have failed.

            The precious CREDO study pointed this out: It is naive to assume that parents who select the Public School are somehow uninformed or somehow did not choose to stay in the Public School.

            This is true here in NYC where Charters must admit all applicants into their lottery. In states where Charters can select kids (a bad practice) it is different.

            •  Sorry, not true. (0+ / 0-)

              All public schools must comply with federal and state laws regarding educating, feeding and busing ALL students regardless of race, gender, ability/disability or income.  Charters are purposely exempted from the rules.  And just to be clear, if charters were like public schools they wouldn't have to admit them all to a 'lottery,' they'd have to admit them ALL. Period.

              •  Maybe where you live, that's true. (0+ / 0-)

                But here in NYC, any kid can get into a Charter lottery. Disabled, special needs, whatever.

                In NYC a public school can't take more than the legal limit of kids. If there is overcrowding, there is a lottery and the losers are bussed. But a Public School lottery is based on Where You Live. So kids in the rich areas get the good schools, and the rest of the kids get crap...

                ...until Charter Schools came along.

        •  Where? (0+ / 0-)

          Baloney! First they have to be lucky enough to have parents willing to commit to support their child's education. Second, they have to suvive a lottery in most cases. Finally, they have to fit the program or they will be sent back. Let's not even talk about the special ed. issues. All kis have access?

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

          by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 10:24:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Your point would only be true if charters (5+ / 0-)

        received more resources per child.  This does not appear to be the case.  To take one example, in NYC, the NYC independent budget office found that charter schools spend less money per pupil, not more.

      •  Yes, let's make all schools quality schools (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        princss6, Huginn and Muninn

        I believe for-profit charters that promise to work miracles in basic education are a scam.

        But I know first-hand of established public charters that select students by lottery and provide just the quality education we all want for all our kids.

        Maybe more traditional schools could learn a thing or two from those charters.

        When elementary education fails it's through lack of integration with families and communities, and through wider societal faults like income disparity.

        By the time kids reach middle or high school one-size-fits-all education is bound to fail many, no matter their talents, family background, or previous quality of education. Lack of relevance to their real lives is probably the primary source of the high drop-out rate in this country.

        Charters provide alternatives, and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

        "The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret" -- T. Pratchett, The Truth

        by congenitalefty on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 09:12:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No (0+ / 0-)

      Charter schools are a cancer.

    •  Nope. Sorry. (0+ / 0-)

      Charters only work better than  the average public schools 10% of the time and even then we have to have a lotto to get in?  A local charter school, public charter at that, went from having over 60% black and 70% free and reduced lunch before it was relaunched as a charter.  Now? 98% white and no free or reduced lunch at all (to avoid that requirement they decided to just not serve lunches).  The numbers don't bear you out.  Charters are a way of resegregating and privatizing schools by the back door; as such I will adamantly oppose them as a 'solution.'

  •  I read the "Manifesto" and I like it (3+ / 0-)

    Sounds like an adult who is willing to take responsibility regardless of the challenges. Let's tool up our teachers and get these kids learning.

    •  I like the Original version (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      princss6
      •  Really (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy

        How sad! Read Ravitch.

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

        by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:31:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know Teacher Union Propaganda when I see it (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ManhattanMan, Samulayo, gzodik, princss6

          You know how I can tell. Because 9 out of 10 education diaries attack things that go against Union positions or are thought to make teachers jobs less secure by making them subject to student performance or allow for non union schools to coexist in the system. It is transparent and clearly not about the kids. The think tank spin machine works for this cause just like it does for the free traders, Military industrialist, the health care industry, and lots of other interest groups lobbying for their cause.

          The more Union propaganda I see the less interested I get in even reading these kind of diaries. If you want the public to support teachers, then teachers need to put the kids at the front of the debate kids. A union defense based on paranoia and conspiracy theories is not doing anything for teacher credibility.

          Let't talk about what we are going to do for the CHILDREN!!!

          •  Clearly (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            optimusprime, happymisanthropy

            you mind is made up. Don't read them!

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

            by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:44:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Notice you are a huge fan of Rhee (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happymisanthropy, itisuptous

            Based on your previous diary of her firing teachers.  So maybe your judgment is clouded when a person has a view that is subjective or explains viewpoint opposite of yours.  

            When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we'd been saying they were. -JFK

            by optimusprime on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:46:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Teacher bashing is in vogue. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              congenitalefty

              I find many people who have laughed at me for wasting my life teaching children, now living in envy of my job security and pension. Who would have known how quickly I would be seen as a member of some privileged class by the likes of a newspaper editor, lawyer, accountant...

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

              by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:58:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Please , Ya'll keep saying the same crap (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ManhattanMan, Samulayo, gzodik, princss6

              It is people complaining about their pay or being held accountable for doing what they are paid to do. This stuff has nothing to do with the kids. The talk about the end of public education is nonsense.

              Nobody important in the reform process is out to do that and certainly nobody who signed Michelle's letter. The hyperbole is dishonest and destroys your creditability in the mainstream. Every dairy trashes charters, teach for America, accountability measures and anything else that is a remote threat to the union. It has nothing to do with helping the kids and everything to do with the adults in the system.

              This is exactly what people are tired of. This is why your side is losing the debate.

          •  Well, gee, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            optimusprime, itisuptous

            you disagree with 9/10 of the informed opinions posted here.  Clearly this means that they are all union thugs and you are right to ignore them.

            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 Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:57:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I read Ravitch's latest book... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          edtastic, princss6

          ...and it really doesn't say much.

          When you strip away all her rhetoric, her book boils down to only one point: That there are many studies and they all disagree on every reform proposal.

          Re-read it. Ignore the noise, focus on the actual studies she cites. You will see that the pro-reform and anti-reform sides are pretty even.

      •  Not surprising (0+ / 0-)

        since all your posts and comments swing that way.  Still no answer for the fallacy that teachers get to spend over 5000 hours with each student, eh, Ed?

    •  Did she take responsibility (0+ / 0-)

      for her own failure?

      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 Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:56:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Willing to take responsibility? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sd4david

      The "Manifesto" by the superintendents basically boils down to: "Don't blame us, it's the teachers' fault.

      If by "take responsibility" you mean "pass the buck," you're right.

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

      by mistersite on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 08:03:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why is 'last in, first out' a good way of doing (8+ / 0-)

    the firing? Seniority can and should be taken into account but if it's the only criterion it gives people wrong incentives. Why is closing a school never an option? There are both mismanaged schools and schools that no longer have enough students to operate while other schools may have too many students due to changes in population patterns.
    You claim that all experienced teachers are good and the only bad people at schools are superintendents. It's laughable. And of course you deliberately distort what charter schools are. Magnet schools existed for decades and somehow didn't lead to the destruction of public education. Charters are quite similar to those.

    •  Maybe it isn't (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, happymisanthropy

      but given the current state of the art in teacher evaluation or the status of educational administators, it probably the best and most objective kind of standard that we can apply. One small example. When a teacher is let go and moves to another district they almost never get full credit for their years of service. For a new teacher, this is a small difference. For a veteran, it is huge. When districts are out to save money, their would be an incentive let the most experienced teachers go regardless of performance because they cost more. I could go on but ----

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

      by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:51:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Letting more experienced employees go b/c they (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justanothernyer, edtastic, princss6

        cost more money is common in other fields as well. But the current system is too rigid. Even other labor unions have less rigid contracts where seniority is taken into account during layoffs but it's not the only factor. I don't advocate at will firing but there is a rich history of labor negotiations that could be used to come up with a compromise.

      •  Objective yes, but best? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManhattanMan, princss6

        Unless you are saying that there are no ways at all to evaluate teachers with any accuracy, a method that incorporates no evaluative metric is highly unlikely to be the best.

      •  Stop blocking reform. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justanothernyer, edtastic, princss6

        "When districts are out to save money, there would be an incentive to let the most experienced teachers go regardless of performance because they cost more."

        If schools were evaluated on performance they could not afford to let their best teachers go. They would need those experienced teachers to remain excellent. Any school that fired good teachers would see parents pulling their kids out.

        Today, an Administrator gets no reward for good performance. So he has no reason to keep the best (most expensive) teachers.

        See how blocking reform in one area creates more problems in others?

        Let parents choose their kids' schools. It is the best way to reward good teachers.

        •  I have no problem with choice. (0+ / 0-)

          Are you aware of how low the particpant percentages are when choice is offered?

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

          by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 10:14:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is what NCLB attempts to do (0+ / 0-)

          but using the current testing systems fails to mearure many important elements and components and reduces the curriculum to a couple of subject and ability to perform lower level thinking skills requires to fill in multiple choice bubbles. I wish all of this was half simple as you would like to make it.

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

          by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 10:19:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I recall volunteering teaching math to grade kids (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    congenitalefty

    This was for a few hours as a tutor on a Saturday as part of a gradschool volunteer effort in the city of Rochester, NY. They were just little kids - first or second grade - and they were disinterested after 20 minutes.  This was a 4:1 ratio, 1 tutor per 4 kids.  When parents came to pick up their little tykes, some were absolutely not interested or bother to listen.  While some parents were happy we were here.  

    I really have empathy for teachers.  We can't put complete blame/fault/success on teachers solely.  It is combination of the environment, instilled responsibility of parents, funding of school resources and facilities, and safe and drug free places to live.  

    Let me say that I had positive memories (mostly) and respect them and what you have done for your pupils.

    When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we'd been saying they were. -JFK

    by optimusprime on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:40:16 PM PDT

  •  I am a teacher union staff (3+ / 0-)

    person coping with one of the superintendents who signed the Manifesto. She is Broad Foundation Product. I have been in education for the last 40 years. I thought I had seen or imagined almost anything that could happen to a school district and educational employees and children. What we are experiencing is something I never could have imagined. I am progressive unionist. I believe in owning issues of quality and working collaboratively with admininstrators, but this is whole new ball game. These folks have zero interest in working with us. It is all about power and control and fleecing the public. They are narrowing the curriculum and denying talented teachers the opportunity to meet the needs of children while making ridiculous demands of teachers designed to do nothing more than demonstate who is in charge.

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

    by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 07:42:16 PM PDT

    •  What are they doing to the Children? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, gzodik, princss6

      All the complaints seem to be about what is being done to teachers. I rarely hear about the children, unless you count blaming the parents. I support Unions but not every union on every issue. Of course administrators want to take control if the system can only get 50% of the kids to graduate. It is a normal response to a crisis. If they did nothing it would be a sign they didn't care or they didn't hold themselves responsible for the failure.

      The narrow curriculum doesn't remove math and science as subjects. They will still need as much of that as before. They will still need to be quite literate. When we fail at the basics, the absence of enrichment does not seem like the biggest crisis. They will experiment and tweak until something works. I would rather that process than caving in to the resistance who would have reform stop in it's tracks.

      •  Well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        congenitalefty

        when goal is is to make kids literate period as evidenced by standardized tests and inquiry is removed and creativity is eliminated because we have to prepare for the tests, kids are short-changed. It does not happen in affluent districts where test scores are okay, those kids get a rich set of learning experiences. What the poor kids get is kill and drill designed to raise test scores at all costs to make the administration look good. I am sorry that is at the expense of the kids. It will also drive the talented teachers out of the profession.

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

        by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 08:03:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I sense some cognitive dissonance. (4+ / 0-)

          One comment says:


          "...given the current state of the art in teacher evaluation or the status of educational administrators, {seniority} is probably the best and most objective kind of standard that we can apply."

          But you also state:

          "...kill and drill designed to raise test scores at all costs...will also drive the talented teachers out of the profession."

          If teacher quality can't be measured, how do you know the ones being "driven out" are (cough...cough...ahem), "talented"?

          •  well, performance-based evaluation (0+ / 0-)

            may weed out the incompetent, but if it leads to kill-and-drill class-room methods, I'll bet it'll also drive away significant talent.

            "The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret" -- T. Pratchett, The Truth

            by congenitalefty on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 09:16:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Believe teachers know (0+ / 0-)

            who is most talented among their ranks. People I shared clssrooms with, planned with, talked with about students with each day - I knew who was really good. No cognitive dissonance whatsoever. I just don't trust the current systems to be able or even motivated for that matter to really sort out who is and who is not effective.

            I don't see the conflict between the comments at all.

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

            by itisuptous on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 10:10:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  oh yes... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gzodik, edtastic, princss6

    teachers know all... as the U.S. plummets academically in comparison to the free world, teachers are uniquely qualified to know all... your red pen lacks credibility.

    •  Yet why is it (0+ / 0-)

      we never look at those other countries and consider doing what they are doing?

      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 Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 08:01:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We did that, and are doing it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Samulayo, gzodik

        Do you really think all these reform people are stupid or what? I know they piss off the Union but they are clearly trying to help the kids. Like any reform the stake holders in the status quo are up in arms.

        You know a great place to try that out... A Charter School

        •  We're doing it? (3+ / 0-)

          Please tell me what other countries have responded to problems in their public education system by breaking down the profession of teaching, piling on more standardized tests, trying to destroy teachers' unions, continuing to screw over poor families, and attacking the already-meager funding of public education - and seen improvements.

          That's the tragic thing - there are tested and proven ways to fix public education. But they don't fit into the Right's ideology about "what should work," so we keep trying untested (or proven ineffective) tactics like corporatization, privatization, and union-busting.

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

          by mistersite on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 08:12:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know what to say to that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gzodik, princss6

            It's just a bizarre comment. I don't think any of that represents the reform process. You are preaching that  protect the union agenda at all cost propaganda. You also may have read one too many education conspiracy diaries.

            We don't eat our young you know.

            •  Yep... (0+ / 0-)

              especially the part about screwing over poor kids, lol.  As if those poor kids are just getting a quality education right now in the public schools.  You see the lengths some people will go, haha.

              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 Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 09:14:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, I'm talking about society as a whole... (0+ / 0-)

                ...which basically tells poor parents and children "you're on your own."

                Countries with better educational systems than ours don't do things like that.

                They also know that to improve public education, you value, protect, and respect the profession of teaching.

                This is the only country where we "improve" public education by destroying public education.

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

                by mistersite on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 09:21:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  What you don't note is (0+ / 0-)

                that a teacher can do great in a suburban school, and not so great in an urban school. The differences are the students and parents, not the teacher.

                Bi-partisanship is a MEANS, not an ENDS.-Barney Frank Feb 2009

                by sd4david on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 10:32:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  umm hummm (0+ / 0-)

                  keep telling yourself that...because every suburban parent and every suburban kid is just super engaged and values education, 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 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 03:55:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Because that would undermine... (3+ / 0-)

        ...the right-wing's anti-teacher, anti-union, pro-corporate-standardized-test ideology, and the ideology of their allies on this site (like, say, JackieandFritz, who always seems to find these diaries and spread his/her hatred of unions and teachers).

        Instead of looking at what other countries - like Finland, one of the highest-achieving countries on the planet, whose teachers are well-trained, well-paid, and 100% unionized - have done to improve their educational systems, we respond to problems in our public schools by trying to break the public schools even more.

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

        by mistersite on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 08:09:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't understand... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          edtastic, princss6

          ...why is being in favor of standardized testing "anti-teacher"?

          •  If test scores become the holy grail (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happymisanthropy

            administrators tend to force teachers to "teach to the test."

            Bad for teachers who really want to teach their subject, bad for kids who'll lose all desire to learn.

            "The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret" -- T. Pratchett, The Truth

            by congenitalefty on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 09:18:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Several reasons. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happymisanthropy
            1. At the moment, the education deform crowd is trying to use standardized testing as a measure of teacher effectiveness - to determine what teachers are kept or fired, how much teachers are paid. Despite the fact that the use of standardized test scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness is a dubious proposition at best to those who actually know what they're talking about in ed policy, anti-teacher legislatures (led by Republicans and anti-union "Democrats") continue to push standardized testing as a measure of teacher effectiveness, rather than holding teachers to the standards and best practices determined by the profession of teaching.
            1. The fact that standardized testing is being used as the be-all and end-all measure of not only teacher effectiveness, but also administrator effectiveness and school effectiveness, means that there is more and more temptation to "teach to the test," providing "skill and drill" instruction instead of the kind of meaningful, creative, useful instruction that results in well-rounded and critical citizens. This is not only anti-student for obvious reasons, it's also anti-teacher in that it devalues teachers' professionalism by treating them not as creative, engaged experts on education, but rather as test-prep tutors.
            1. Standardized tests cost money - money that goes from the hands of the taxpayers into the giant corporations (like Kaplan, owned by none other than the Washington Post - no wonder they're such cheerleaders for education deform), from the people to the rich, politically-connected CEOs. That means that money that could be used to actually educate our children by paying the people who teach them is going to another CEO. This is not only anti-student for obvious reasons, but it's also anti-teacher, as we need more and better teachers, not more and better standardized tests.

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

            by mistersite on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 09:30:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Well, Finland... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Samulayo, edtastic, princss6

        ...spends about 20% less per kid than we do.

        So let's start by slashing education budget by 20%!

        Just kidding. But learn the lesson about cherry-picking parts of a "success story". The whole thing may not be as palatable.

    •  Are you now or have you ever been (0+ / 0-)

      a teacher?

      I think teachers DO know what's best for their students.

      Sure there are incompetent time-servers, even some who've always hated their jobs, but have nothing else to do, and like the security, look forward to their pension -- there are people like that in every profession.

      But most teachers want to do something positive for the kids in their charge.

      They need cooperation from parents, administrators, and school boards to do that -- not constant threats and attacks.

      "The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret" -- T. Pratchett, The Truth

      by congenitalefty on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 09:25:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Teachers might think they know don't mean they do (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        princss6

        It doesn't mean they do. Good intentions are not enough. Once upon a time Doctors thought bleeding people would heal their patients. They thought they knew what was best and had good intentions. History is full of people with good intentions doing bad things out of tradition or simply out of ignorance.

        At this point in time we can say our education system is held back by both. We don't know how to do the best job because we are clearly are not doing very well with a 50% failure rate at graduation time.

        You can't rely on parent cooperation. It's simply not a variable you can control. Schools have to take the time they have with the kids and make the most of it.

        •  Can't rely on parent cooperation (0+ / 0-)

          But you don't want to change THAT? Easier to attack teachers. 36 students in a 54 minute class gives a teacher 90 seconds of class time on average per student per day. teachers DO make the most of their time with students....parents need to, also.

          Bi-partisanship is a MEANS, not an ENDS.-Barney Frank Feb 2009

          by sd4david on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 10:38:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  You mean,,, (0+ / 0-)

      longer school days, longer school years, and cultures that value education? Or the one where parents whine about their kids getting 30 minutes of homework?

      Bi-partisanship is a MEANS, not an ENDS.-Barney Frank Feb 2009

      by sd4david on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 10:29:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's actually not true... (0+ / 0-)

      If you look at the scores and account for SES (socio-economic-status), the US performs in the top four of all developed nations and is actually the first in literacy. It's only that half our kids are living in poverty that seems to bring us down. We fix the poverty, we fix the rest of it at the same time.

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