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Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action

For the future of our children,
     we demand the following . .
.

   * Equitable funding for all public school communities

   * An end to high stakes testing for student, teacher, and school evaluation

   * Teacher and community leadership in forming public education policies

   * Curricula developed by and for local school communities

Those the four key demands of an important initiative on public education.

It is geared towards a gathering in our nation's capital, July 28-31   sorry - I had wrong dates before.

We want your help and support.

Here's our website  

Let me tell you more, including why I am involved, and you should be as well.

This is an outgrowth of efforts by many educators to have our voices heard in the discussions over education policy over the past few years.  When Anthony Cody established the movement of Teachers Letters To Obama, we got the support of thousands, but in conversations with the Department of Education, including with Secretary of Education Duncan, somehow we were not listened to, but rather talked at.

Let me share from the About Us page of our website:  

Getting to this point has been a long journey. For the last few years, thousands of teachers and parents have been calling for action against No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and, more recently, questioning Race to the Top (RTTT).

Teachers, students, and parents from across the country have staged protests, started blogs, written op-eds, and called and written the White House and the U.S. Department of Education to try to halt the destruction of their local schools.

Numerous efforts have been made to get U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama to listen to US – the teachers, parents, and students who experience the effects of these disastrous policies every day. WE know that NCLB is not working. Unfortunately, it has been almost impossible to make our voices heard. Although we have the knowledge, the expertise, and the relationships with students that make education possible, we have been shut out of the conversation about school reform.

We, like all teachers and parents, want better schools. For our children’s sake, we are organizing to improve our schools – but not through the vehicle known as NCLB. It has been a disaster. Although there are various opinions about the many issues involved with school reform, it is now time to speak with ONE VOICE – that is, No Child Left Behind must not be reauthorized. We reclaim our right to determine how our children will be educated. We are organizing to revitalize an educational system that for too many children focuses more on test preparation than meaningful learning.We demand a humane, empowering education for every child in America.

Where we are today is due to the efforts of many people. Diane Ravitch had the integrity and the courage to speak up when she saw first-hand the unintended consequences of No Child Left Behind. Jesse Turner (Children are More than Test Scores) walked from Connecticut to Washington, D.C. in support of public schools. The list of those who have inspired us goes on and on.

Ken Bernstein (teacherken), Nancy Flanagan, Anthony Cody, Rita Solnet – so many people began to step up, saying, "It’s time to do something." And here we are in January 2011. With thousands and thousands of voices shouting, "No, no, no" to NCLB and RTTT, and with few policymakers listening, we say, IT IS TIME TO TAKE ACTION.

I am honored to be a part of this group, although there are others doing far more than am I.  They include university professors, retired principals, teachers, parents, educational advocates.

Our list of endorsers can be seen here, although it is hard for us to stay up to date, as more and more people involved with education, well known and ordinary people, step up to support us.

We are planning a four-day event.  It will include a gathering near the White House.  It will include workshops and addresses based at American University.  Diane Ravitch has already agreed to speak to us.  

Those of us involved in doing the work to prepare for this are doing it on top of our other responsibilities, because we believe in its importance.  We are working with a professional organizer who has previously helped organize similar events in DC for non-profits.  We understand what we have to do for permits, we have reserved space for both the demonstration and for the conference.

But now we need more.

We need support.

We need endorsements.

We need more volunteers.

We can surely use contributions.

Look again at some of the major names in education who have endorse this

Diane Ravitch

Deborah Meier

Alfie Kohn

David Berliner, past president of American Educational Research Association

Yong Zhao of Michigan State University

Kenneth Goodman, emeritus at U of Arizona

Sam Meisels, President of the Erickson Institute in Chicago - an expert on early childhood education

Note the leaders of parent groups:

Julie Woestehoff of PURE in Chicago

Rita Solnet of Parents Across America

Mona David of New York Parents Charter Association

we have former state teachers of the year

we have university professors

we have film makers

we have ordinary teachers and principals

We have much of the leadership of Rethinking Schools

we have ordinary folks who care deeply about what is happening to public education

We are not being funded by the Gates or Broad Foundations.  

We do not have the access to media of Davis Guggenheim with Waiting for Superman, or Michele Rhee being on the covers of Time and Newsweek

We have something far more important.  We have the voices of those most committed to public education and the student in all of our schools, including charters.

We need more.

We need you.

Please consider how you can help.

You can contribute

You can sign up to stay informed.

You can volunteer by emailing our volunteer coordinator at elwaingortji at cbe dot ab dot ca

You can pass on the information about Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action to others - via email, Twitter, Facebook or other means.

Thank you in advance for anything you can do.

Remember:  

July 28-31, 2011

Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action

Peace.

Originally posted to teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 02:45 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  This diary is now disqualified for Diary Rescue (23+ / 0-)

      because having reached the REC list, for however briefly, it is excluded from being listed this evening.

      I hope you will help keep it visible.

      I will try when possible to post links on open threads.

      I appreciate all you can do to make others aware.

      Thanks.

      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 Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 04:25:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I will spread it around and I will go to DC. (19+ / 0-)

        Great movement and action!

        And for all those folks who think education just aint their progressive cup of tea (more like ball of wax!), their concern, yet voice concern and opposition to D and R complicity that sends us ever more rightward in economic, health or civil rights issues, well, they really are missing the boat, have got it wrong when they sidestep education... or worse, go along supporting (unknowingly) Obama's union-thwacking, teacher-harming, public school weakening "reform" agenda.

        Reform? Isnt that, like a good thing? Doesnt the R-word connote GOOD? No, it doesnt. It just aint necessarily so... But the R-word often fools folks into thinking that.

        The neoliberal agenda that this nation is sliding toward, under Obama/Duncan (with complete bipartisan approval - after all, it is a rightwing plan. GOPper and former Reagan ed sec Bill Bennett lauds Duncan as "best ed sec EVER!"), has EDUCATION in the vanguard of a relentless march to a very inhospitable place ... for our assaulted middle class and our very democracy.

        Laws have been changed in state legislatures across this land, like dominoes falling, since Obama took charge (with happy hatchet man Duncan at his side), to carry out a rightwing agenda (Ravitch calls it more Bush than Bush) to privatize education and whittle down the protections unions gained - not for "living off the fat of the land" greedy beneficiaries, ie, teachers, but for a well deserved decent middle class salary and lifestyle! Such a well deserved comfortable (not luxurious!) quality of life for hte middle class is now being propagandized against to suit our dim job and economic future... not dimmer for the ever fattening elites, but for you and you and you... and me.

        I truly hope folks resist the propaganda about how the middle class MUST sacrifice - a constant, deliberate drumbeat these days - re SS, healthcare, pensions, jobs, salaries, unions (the elites do NOT want unions, except as hollow ineffective shells of what they once were, which was strength in numbers... the only place you and you and you and me have strength, gain power, against the powerful few... )

        I hope progressives who arent aware of what is being done to education, to us via education, wake up to how education "reform" has been manipulated so spectacularly both with policy and messaging, by both Dems and Republicans and their willing corporate media accomplices.

        It is time to wake up to what they are doing to education, how it is linked up with other issues and how they impact us... badly, save for the elites.

        If not now, it will be too late.

        Speak up and Act up! Join the fight for ALL of us, on this very important front - Obama's education "reform"... a neoliberal trojan horse, if ever there was one.

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

        by NYCee on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:45:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  neo-liberals (8+ / 0-)

          Are killing this country. Every time I read another book by Chomsky I get more and more irked.

        •  You are hereby designated the recipient (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NYCee, JesseCW

          of the "NWTerriD Infinite Recs Award for Best Comment in the History of the Universe."

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

          by NWTerriD on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 10:23:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I proudly and humbly accept! lol (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NWTerriD

            May not have the best editing (sometimes, in comments, I add and subtract, and the commmas, parenthesis, etc, dont get fixed accordingly... but... fuck it, eh?)

            Thanks.

            I just really want folks to WAKE UP to this!

            Even if they have zero interest in education as an issue. If they care about the extinguishing of the middle class, the assault on unions and the decent benefits they bring us, the hostile economy, the bad jobs/no jobs heartache and trouble, the free trade bleeding us as the lights keep dimming on us... and the bullshitters keep bullshitting us...

            then this should COUNT!

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

            by NYCee on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 01:00:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  NYCEE - (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NYCee

          You've got 90% of an awesome action diary and I really hope you'll post it later on tonight or tomorrow morning.

          "It is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence"

          by JesseCW on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 12:20:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, good to hear that, Jesse. Perhaps I (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JesseCW

            will try to get one up soon. I got a lot of stuff to do around the abode today. I posted a diary about this crap back in April. Hey, Diane Ravitch put it on her website!

            You could borrow from what I wrote and do it yourself, if you wish. Have at it, if the spirit moves you and you have time.

            What is it that grabs you in the comment you reference? Maybe I can focus on that aspect? (not exclusively, but... )when I get the time to write one... Who knows?

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

            by NYCee on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 01:06:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  going to be away from this for a bit (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, bess, trs, mapamp

      have to run several errands and attend to several tasks that will also keep me offline.   Should catch up with this in 45 minutes to an hour.

      Thanks for keeping it visible, and for passing it on.

      thanks to those signing up, volunteering, even contributing.

      Everything helps.

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

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:34:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  going offline again (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, bess, mapamp

      may not be able to get back to this until this evening

      thanks for reading, recommending, commenting and sharing

      I will be posting more on this event as time passes, including introducing you to some of the people who are actively involved, and why

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

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 10:11:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I will support and create (0+ / 0-)

      Dearest TeacherKen . . .

      As a strong advocate and lifetime activist, I wish to share my eternal truth.  Violence begets violence.  This is no less true in the use of language.  Indeed, I experience that if our words are aggressive, we encourage aggression in return. In my work as an Educator, my students forever heard this utterance, otherwise known as Newton’s Third Law of Motion.  “For every action is there an equal and opposing reaction.”  Therefore, I personally do not choose to “demand” as is voiced in the Save Our Schools mantra.

      I will participate in the March and every effort to Save Our Schools. I will protest.  I will eternally argue each procedure that hinders authentic education, assessment, and growth.  However, I will not ignore nay avoid the reality I experience when I approach a matter or a man with a demand . . . reactions that work against a productive actuality.  As Ernst Mach restated, "When two compact objects ("point masses" in phystalk) act on each other, they accelerate in opposite directions, and the ratio of their accelerations is always the same."

      Schools are transformed by policymakers, and, or Educators, everyday people, and pupils.  We can chose to create what we crave, or we can work in opposition to our objective.  Whatever we do will give birth to what comes.  Thus, I prose a peaceful a presentation, prose that invite legislators to rethink rather than rebel, resent, or reprimand us for what they will think vitriolic demands.

      I wish to Save Our Schools, not further separate our selves from those who wildly wield power, policy, and wealth.

      sos
      businesscard.aspx

      It is only the giving that makes us what [who] we are. - Ian Anderson.
      Betsy L. Angert BeThink

      by Bcgntn on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:11:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If I can impose a bit further (19+ / 0-)

    I have an additional request

    it is that you leave a comment -  diaries without comments tend to draw fewer eyeballs.

    You can offer your reaction.

    Since I will be around, you can ask me questions.

    Or whatever other reaction you deem worthy of offering.

    Thanks again.

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

    by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 03:09:31 AM PST

  •  and of course, recommends of this diary (14+ / 0-)

    would also be appreciated, in the hopes that such an action might make the diary visible to more than would otherwise see it

    thanks for whatever you might do

    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 Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 03:36:23 AM PST

  •  National standards are the international norm. (10+ / 0-)

    I have never understood why American children do not all use the same curriculum. What is the advantage to this unique feature of American schools? Shouldn't they all receive the same public education?

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 03:49:05 AM PST

    •  you want to watch real battles (24+ / 0-)

      take a look at what happened in Texas over state social studies standards and you will begin to understand the concern that many have of moving the standards to a national level

      also, the way we do standards is very different than a place such as Finland, or even Singapore.  We tend to have far too many standards to appropriately assess, we tend to use standards to drive instruction in the direction of tests that therefore require coverage rather than appropriate exploration in depth.  Other nations have standards with far fewer items which therefore allow greater exploration.

      The real fear, and this crosses the political spectrum, is that in having national standards we will be moving towards a national testing scheme that will further deform American 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 Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 03:53:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is new to me as I left the USA just as my (6+ / 0-)

        eldest started school. What I also don't understand is that it seems that it is only in the USA that testing is controversial. Over here in SE Asia, we think of tests as assessments of what is being learned. Why is this not the case back in the USA? I understand the politics of using test scores to bash schools, but aren't low test scores a symptom of a problem with students not understanding the material in their curriculum? Do these tests that everyone is so against depart so far from what is being taught that their results are useless? If this is the case, use not use better tests?

        I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

        by shann on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 04:59:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  let's talk about high stakes testing (23+ / 0-)

          in Korea they obsess about it so much that it destroys longterm love of learning

          in China there are some recognizing that they need to move away from their obsession with testing because it is crushing the creativity they know they need

          In Finland they do not rely on high stakes tests the way we do

          In Britain trust me, it is quite controversial with the teachers now pushing back perhaps even more forcefully than they yet do here.

          We started this obsession with testing several decades ago, and like a gambler on a losing streak, keep doubling down even when the results we are seeing are not why in theory we imposed the testing mechanism in the first place

          many of our tests are poorly designed.  There are a multitude of documented scoring errors that have forced kids to repeat grades, go to summer school, or not be able to graduate

          meanwhile more and more resources are being shifted to for-profit entities that provide testing, test-prep, curricula geared towards testing

          and students are becoming ever more turned off to school

          And when your testing scheme has New Trier High School in Winnetka IL failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress because of one sub group in one grade, anyone who knows about that school should be able to understand the insanity.

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

          by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:08:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not to mention how the propagandists... (10+ / 0-)

            manipulate the gains to make them seem like they dont exist, both with minorities in reading, math and science, over several decades (notable upswing) and in comparison to other nations.

            For those not in the know on these matters, I recommend: get thee to a google/etc search of Daily Howler education (or search directly at his site) if you need to get up to speed here, esp on the forces of manipulation around education. He (Daily Howler's Bob Somerby) was in the field of teaching, in an inner city school system, and he has an interest and investigative eye, along with a wicked wit, that makes understanding of the numbers, the mauling of the truth behind them and so much else, go down a lot easier.

            Ravitch is also good (although not as wicked a wit!) at clearly outlining the issues.

            Although she too comes in for some criticism by Somerby, (which, much as I like most of what she says, I found is somewhat deserved, in one area in which he takes her to task), she is, overall, quite illuminating and helpful re the harm being done to education, what we need to do and should not do.

            She has been virtually the only (somewhat) high profile champion we have on this topic, who has been given some entree to the mainstream media (although never on corporate TV shows, only on shows like Democracy Now or Cspan). As our vocal warrior against ed deform, she has been simply The Best!

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

            by NYCee on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 08:12:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Facts please. (0+ / 0-)

            I hear this stuff over and over again:

            "Korea they obsess about <tests> it so much that it destroys long term love of learning..."

            Is there any data to back this up? Last time I looked, Korea had a high standard of living and was kicking our butt in many industries.

            Is it really true that testing makes kids hate learning? What data backs up this assertion?

        •  testing in USA (14+ / 0-)

          benefits the corporations who reel in the profits for creating and disseminating the tests.

          I am not against rigorous tests, in principle.  I am against the idea that national tests can improved education.

          We should have started our 'overhaul' of American education with an examination of how to teach and what to teach, not the implementation of tests.

          We should be able to write broad curricula focused on goals, but apparently, we cannot.

          Local control has meant local stupidity for a long time.  

          Gaia is heartbroken.

          by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 06:45:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I disagree, (0+ / 0-)

            "We should have started our 'overhaul' of American education with an examination of how to teach and what to teach, not the implementation of tests."

            First implement the tests.

            Then we can figure out how to change the system to teach kids more stuff. It will probably mean spending more money, but that's OK.

            Then we test the kids again.

            Because we implemented a testing regime first, we can tell if the reforms are working.  This is very important -- we will get more public support for more funding if we can show (with numbers) that things are improving.

            •  have you not read anything (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW, Mostel26, mapamp

              at all about the insanity of the testing system the powers that be have constructed???

              Do you not realize that huge corporations have created another boondoggle for themselves at the taxpayers expense?

              The proof of education is in the pudding, as in what our children wind up doing in the world after they leave school.

              And what is clear is that they fail to create meaningful lives with meaningful work because they do not have the intellectual or moral training to do so.

              The schools can only provide a tiny fraction of that training.  Our culture is failing.  Where the test is real the grade is real.

              Our entire culture has failed.

              Gaia is heartbroken.

              by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 12:00:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  I think that it is also important (0+ / 0-)

            that the Bush family profits off of all of the testing and Jeb Bush is one of the ones pushing for it and privatizing schools.  

        •  I have only taught in the US (10+ / 0-)

          but, nevertheless, in a public university with an incredible diversity of students, including many Asians from a diversity of SE Asian cultures. My experience is that their cultural background emphasizes testing and grades to the exclusion of creativity, exploration and critical thinking.  I do not want that approach to dominate in the US.

        •  The problem is in the implementation (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ohkwai, 3goldens, JesseCW, peregrine kate

          You are thinking of an ideal situation. In the way that a common curriculum and common assessments get implemented in the United States, however, what ends up being in place is sometimes the opposite of what was intended.

          I was involved with curriculum and common assessment writing in my district.  Here's what goes wrong. You end up with learning targets that are so general and vague that they don't tell teachers what to teach.  Because of the software the district uses, tests can only be multiple choice. Because of copyright issues, the questions can only come from a test bank the district has purchased. The questions are poorly written.  Often times the tests end up being assembled by someone who doesn't know the subject and relies on word searches. The question is not appropriate or does not really assess the learning target.

          I used to write all my own tests and my tests were good.  Now I am forced to use these crummy common assessments.

          In addition, NCLB measures annual yearly progress only in terms of reading and math scores, meaning that other core subjects such as science and social studies, not to mention art and music, are completely neglected by administrators who, understandably, are putting all their efforts into making ayp.

          Maybe other countries do a better job of implementing standardized curricula and testing, but in the US, it's a mess.

          It seems to me that everything they do to supposedly raise standards ends up having the opposite effect.  I feel like I am straitjacketed in the classroom and every year I have to struggle harder to keep myself from being pulled down to the lowest common denominator.

          Greatest the shame, least the blame.

          by houyhnhnm on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:14:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Conservatives (6+ / 0-)

        Old school conservatives of the social variety, HATE outside standards. Local control is a good coversation starter as a way to get more conservative voices on the right side of this issue. I agree that some national goals for reading/math/science are important, but the Texas point is VERY apt.

        •  One nitpick (4+ / 0-)

          Most social conservatives would want national standards just so long as those standards are exactly what they want them to be. If the national curriculum were to describe JFK as a "whoring Communist" and Creationism as "the one true explanation of life on Earth," they would support a national curriculum wholeheartedly.

          But don't forget that most men without property would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich, than face the reality of being poor. (1776)

          by banjolele on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:02:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I hear you (0+ / 0-)

            But "national education standards" are a major boogeyman to a lot of conservative types.

          •  I remember when outcome based education (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            was gaining steam (I was in college at the time) and Rush would go on long tirades against it.  My school was a big proponent of teaching teachers how to deal with OBE (write good lessons/curricula without sacrificing critical thinking), so I would listen to him for those.

            of course, he had no idea what it was.  I find it funny to see some of those same folks supporting OBE, just with a different name.

            "We as in The United States of America. Sorry if that offends you..." --beelzebud 1/12/11

            by theal8r on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:47:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  The fact that your strongest argument... (0+ / 0-)

          ...for "local curricula" is to appeal folks' Inner Tea-Bagger, probably says you should double-check your thinking.

          What, exactly, is wrong with national MINIMUM standards? Is it too much to ask that kids know how to read and do algebra? Does that scare you so much that you are willing to take common cause with the States Rights crowd?

      •  Of COURSE... (0+ / 0-)

        ...there will be battles over what the "standard" should be.

        These battles will be bitter, partisan, and nasty.

        But just because something is hard doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.

    •  shann, there are also some constitutional (14+ / 0-)

      issues here. for the most part, education is one of those things that the constitution leaves to the states. I live in a small state with a lot of very good public schools. NJ almost always ranks in the top 3 or 4 states nationally. I really don't want Texas's curriculum taught in the in our schools (and Texas has a whole lot more school students than NJ does). I want biology based on evolution, not creationism or intelligent design. I want a social studies curriculum that does not replace Thomas Jefferson with Phyllis Schafly.

      One of the things that the various debates over public education miss is that many of our public schools do an excellent job. I was delighted with the education that my kids received at our local public schools, and all three have gone on to do very well at top colleges.

      Many of the issues we face in education are problems of poverty. How can we expect kids who are not adequately fed and housed to learn well? How can kids do homework if they don't have a place to study? How can parents who are struggling to put food on the table afford school supplies? Not only should all school districts receive the same funding, but schools in poorer districts need MORE funding to help the students who need additional resources like extended school days, school breakfast and lunch programs, and help with homework.

      •  staffing for extended school days is important (11+ / 0-)

        You need to make sure that you staff extended school days with additional staff that can come in and run context building activities for the students. Sports teams, music programs, computer classes, and other general things.  You can't extend the school day for existing staff and expect them to continue to want to work in that school.

      •  Good public schools are part of the problem (0+ / 0-)

        "One of the things that the various debates over public education miss is that many of our public schools do an excellent job."

        Actually, I would say most public schools are pretty good. Add those parents to the satisfied private school parents, and what do you get? A large, powerful, comfortable, anti-reform constituency.

        We are unwilling to help inner-city schools because most of us have kids in good schools. "I got mine", is the order of the day.

        Things will not get better here in NYC until we rock the boat. But who will help? Teachers Unions? Suburban Soccer Moms? Private school parents? These people are all in the boat, and they are very comfortable, thank you.

        •  I do not understand (0+ / 0-)

          why you want to reform schools that are doing a good job.

          I think it is less that people in good schools don't want all schools in the boat, and more that they don't think dismantling the boat isn't a good first step.

          Different regions have different problems and I daresay different solutions. Our local high school has an elective program in vineyard management, and its own vineyard. It works here, but it's not a good choice for NYC.

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

          by elfling on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 12:17:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nobody wants to mess with... (0+ / 0-)

            ...the good schools.

            But if you propose letting inner-city kids attend a Charter School, you will hear wailing. "Oh no! That Charter School is Harlem is a threat to THE WHOLE SYSTEM OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS!"

            What exactly, are these comfortable people afraid of?

            •  They're afraid that (0+ / 0-)

              the charter school - especially a for-profit charter school - will come in and skim off all the kids and families who give a damn, and leave them with only kids whose parents don't care.

              This results in:

              1. Kids left having even less opportunity for a good education
              1. Schools set up to fail
              1. An unworkable work environment

              And, I think, reasonably, they believe that many people are using charter schools to union-bust and to drive down teacher working conditions.

              In some ways, it is similar to the GMO situation, where people would probably not be nearly as upset if all GM projects were to produce crops like Golden Rice, with more vitamin A, instead of it being mainly used as a way to sell and apply more herbicide.

              Charter schools that provide alternative curricula are, I think, very worthwhile. In some cases, smaller autonomous school districts, even as small as a single school, can provide local advantages. The trick is to figure out how to do that in a way that doesn't promote and create more inequality in the overall school system.

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

              by elfling on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:07:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I would also suggest (0+ / 0-)

              that not everyone IS comfortable. A lot of people who are fighting are hanging on by their fingertips with the resources they have, and they envision even a little bit worse or a little more burden will drop them and their students into the abyss.

              My daughter is one of four kids in her class not on free/reduced lunch. It is not a wealthy, or, I would say, particularly 'comfortable' school. It's a good school, doing good stuff for the children it serves, and I don't want "reforms" aimed at trying to solve problems 3,000 miles away to drown it in paperwork and inappropriate rules.

              That said, I DO think the education of every child in every corner is important. I think giving schools flexibility is important - the solution for a school that is remote, isolated, and largely Native American is not necessarily going to respond to the same initiatives as a school in Harlem. Evaluating schools using accreditation teams and real people is important along with using standardized exams.

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

              by elfling on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:15:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Even though there's a major supplier (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate

      of plumbing fixtures named American Standard, there are no plumbing standards either.  Not to mention that our adherence to our peculiar weights and measures puts us at odds with those who use the metric system.

      American enterprise has always relied on preferential treatment by government to give it a leg up in competition.  The myth of "free enterprise" is a sham whose primary purpose is to hide our monopolistic tendencies which, because of the new global environment, has been increasingly turned on ourselves.  Instead of conquering foreign lands and capturing their resources by force, our enterprise has become self-destructive.

      There are some who have argued for the principle of "creative destruction," which is more than making lemonade out of lemons.  It's bombing cities to smithereens and calling it democratization.  Here at home, they don't need to use bombs.  Benign neglect will insure everything falls down.

      The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

      by hannah on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:09:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Plumbing parts (0+ / 0-)

        tend to be quite compatible.

        It generally tends to be easy to get and use plumbing replacement parts.

        I know since I live in Florida and the terrible water makes for frequent plumbing repairs.

        Herbert Hoover led a standardizing drive during the 1920s as Commerce Secretary.

        •  There is a significant enterprise in (0+ / 0-)

          after-market production of compatible parts.  However, the parts are not inter-changeable.  You can't use an American Standard part in a Delta faucet, for example.  

          The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

          by hannah on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:47:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Teacherken, for posting this diary. It's (16+ / 0-)

    well past time lawmakers started listening to the people who actually work with and care for our children on a daily basis--the teachers and parents. They are the ones who understand the needs of the children in their classrooms and local communities best--not some bureaucrat or lobbyist who never spent a day working inside a classroom in their lives.

  •  Some we have, some you can't have (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan, Justanothernyer

        we demand the following . . .

      * Equitable funding for all public school communities

    What does that mean?  Equal funding per student nationwide?  Same money per student in Manhattan and North Dakota?  That won't work.  Something else?

    And how will you do that?  Federal funding?  Does that mean federal control?  Or do you expect the federal government to hand over the money no strings attached?

     * An end to high stakes testing for student, teacher, and school evaluation

    Uh... No.  Sorry.  Not going to happen.

    We're not going to hand cash over to school systems without measuring their performance, and, yes, that means high stakes testing.

    Deal with it.

    You've already lost on this one.  The Republicans are united against you and easily half of Democrats also support testing.

      * Teacher and community leadership in forming public education policies

    Sorry, Teach.  It's going to be the community in charge, not you guys.  You can have a say if you start ponying up some of the money to pay for the schools.  What's that?  You're not planning to pay for it?  Well, he who pays the piper calls the tune.  As long as we pay the piper and you don't we're going to call the tunes.

    But consider the bright side - communities do lead in public education policies.  It's all community from local school boards to the national community with things like Race To the Top.

     

    * Curricula developed by and for local school communities

    Get real.  Local communities do not have the resources to develop curricula - that's a major job.  It's going to stay at the state level.

    •  you miss a lot, don't you? (29+ / 0-)

      equitable funding - right now schools in poorer communities lack the resources both in financing for schools (because it is based on real estate values) and in community resources (with places like Camden closing public libraries).  One original purpose of ESEA under LBJ was to try to offset some of those inequities

      high stakes uses of testing - on this the experts on testing agree pretty strongly that what we are doing with tests is misusing them.  Value-Added only makes it worse.  

      having teachers participate in the drafting of standards -  because they can give meaningful feedback of what is appropriate for the students they deal with.  And you seem to miss that we include communities, including parents.  RttT is imposing by using the carrot of POSSIBLE additional federal money to force states and localities that are desperate for funds to distort their policies in a way that is unproven by any research and in a few cases demonstrated to be counterproductive.  When David Obey and the House leadership wanted to take less than 1 billion of unspent RttT funds to help pay for teachers salaries so they would not be laid off, Obama threatened a veto.

      Curricula developed locally -  on this you are flat out wrong.   In many communities that is precisely where it has been developed, perhaps within state guidelines, but locally developed.  It is interesting that in such communities it tends to meet the needs of the local student body and is thus supportive of more effective (for the students) instruction.

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

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 04:21:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll take it a step further than Ken (20+ / 0-)

        Not only is quite a bit of curricula developed locally, but a good portion of every classroom's curriculum is developed by the individual teacher.  They may use state standards in making it, but the lesson planning is all on the individual teacher.  I'm a content specialist -- do you honestly think I couldn't sit down over a summer with other history and government teachers and design the curriculum for the year?  Oh wait, my county already does that -- every summer.  We do local pacing guides, design tests and test questions, share project and activity ideas, share and/or design graphs, images and other teaching tools and perfect best practices -- all on the local level.

        Several of my teacher friends have designed and implemented their own elective courses with no guidance from anyone else.  The only thing that stops me from doing the same is that there is literally no room left in the schedule -- because of state mandated testing courses that students must take.  So rather than design courses that are 1) locally approved, 2)actually interesting to students, and 3)more focused on actual learning rather than memorization for high stakes testing, we are denied those courses in favor of pre-packaged "standards of learning" from the state that have great breadth and zero depth.  

        A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.

        by Guy Fawkes on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 04:56:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  it often those electives that really engage (18+ / 0-)

          the students -  they can explore a topic of interest that does not carry high stakes, and learn for the sake of learning.  In the process the teacher can help them hone skills that are applicable across the curriculum.

          I experienced that in the two electives i designed and used to teach -  Comparative Religion and Social Issues.

          One can argue that since the College Board requires as of now every AP teacher to submit a syllabus that fits within the overall framework of the course design, and since I am tne only AP Gov teacher in my building, I function in that class almost as if it is a teacher-designed elective

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

          by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:11:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not to mention most teachers, (5+ / 0-)

            myself included, wait to teach the things in the standards (but not on the test, or not as "high value" on the test) until after the test.  That's when I teacher research and writing research-based papers and poetry.

            "We as in The United States of America. Sorry if that offends you..." --beelzebud 1/12/11

            by theal8r on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:08:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  My estimate is that it would take 18 months to (9+ / 0-)

              adequately teach what is in the social studies curriculum, and I am REALLY pushing my 6th graders to understand the level of physics and chemistry in the curriculum.  Some are getting some of it, but frankly most of my 11 year olds' brains have not developed to the point where they can understand the abstract principles involved.

              Seriously, we are teaching 11 year olds about valence electrons and ionic verses covalent bonding?  In 7th grade, they are expected to learn electron configurations (remember all the s,p stuff?).

              Why?  

              I'm not allowed to say anything about the tests (another interesting rule, huh?), so all I'll say is that teachers are already feeling pressured into cramming more content and more complex content into the school year. IMO it is impossible to cover this content adequately, and so I'm not surprised that students are getting turned off.  

              It's beginning to feel like one non-stop cram session for tests that our students don't really buy into anyway.  And, why should they?  What does an 11 year old care about a test that the results don't come back until a half a year later (which is a lifetime at this age) and seems to have no impact on their lives?

              It's only when we get a chance to squeeze in the "special projects" and lessons like we used to have that I see my students fully come alive, again.  Sigh.

              •  We need these stories in DC this summer (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                teacherken, Daddy Bartholomew, mapamp

                This is direct damage to our kids being done by these tests. These stories are going to have to carry the day!

                •  Plus, does anyone realize that testing is taking (6+ / 0-)

                  up 13 15 days of the school year with high stakes testing?  We do online tests early in the year to identify students who may have trouble passing the tests and then again, midyears.  Then, we have the actual tests, AND we have two sets of those since we have a contract with 2 testing companies and we are transitioning over.  Then, our 8th graders take the Explore test.

                  Plus, we know have district wide unit tests with adds another 6 class periods per course (which is just like saying 6 more days).

                  That's about 20 out of 180 days. And, then there is May.  After the 2 weeks of high stakes testing, our students think the year is over.  They check out.  To be fair, they are pretty burned out.  

                  Can you imagine taking 2 weeks of final exams?  

                  And tests like the social studies test cover not just the year they are in; it covers 3 years of content.  Here is the span of the middle school curriculum that the test covers:

                  1. Anthropology - cultural analysis, migration patterns, characteristics of civilization
                  1. Geography - all terms, all types of map reading and chart analysis, 5 themes of geography, major world religions
                  1. Ancient History - Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Roma, Meso-American, Africa, Greece (history, culture, contributions, key leaders)
                  1. Middle Ages - The Crusades, The Plague, The Church
                  1. Age of Exploration - causes, inventions, explorers and contributions
                  1. Native American civilizations and regional cultures
                  1. European Colonization
                  1. The American Revolution
                  1. The Constituttion and American Government
                  1. The Early American Industrial Age
                  1. The Western Movement (eg pioneers, Gold Rush etc)
                  1. The Civil War

                  Imagine being 13 or 14 years old and sitting for a test covering that span of social studies?  

                  •  Better yet. Try it yourself! Here is an (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    elfling, Mostel26, mapamp

                    example.  

                    To get a sense of what the 8th grade MC test is like go here to take a sample (though I'd say it's light on the ancient history questions) it does contain actual test items.

                    Actual test items.  Give it a try.

                  •  If there is not enough time... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...to do the tests, we must lengthen the school year (and pay teachers extra for the additional time).

                    Saying, "we don't have time!" is not a valid argument against testing.  

                    That is like those polluting industries that complain about the "burden" of EPA paperwork. They aren't really hurting over the paperwork, they are attempting to avoid accountability for their actions.

                    •  Nope (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      bkamr, mapamp

                      The testing needs to be reduced to conform to a normal instructional year. There is zero reason to extend the school year. The achievment gaps that get worse over the summer happen because the lower one's SES, the less likely one is to be able to engage in any context building activities.  We need to make sure students in need of context get funding to go to camps, mueseums, etc. NOT exteded school years. That is not the way to go. Extending school day/year is a waste of $ due to the law of diminishing returns.

                    •  Why would we pay for more time for testing (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      bkamr, Mostel26, mapamp

                      when we are not willing to pay for more time in school, or smaller class sizes, to enable students to learn more? Isn't the learning more important than the testing?

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

                      by NWTerriD on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 10:57:33 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Don't pose a false choice. (0+ / 0-)

                        We should pay for more school time for other activities. We should also spend money to hire more teachers.

                        But you ask,

                        "Isn't the learning more important than the testing?"

                        If we do not do the testing we have no idea if the kids are learning.

                        •  Um, yes we should, but haven't you been paying (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          NWTerriD, Mostel26

                          attention to how school budgets are getting slashed?

                          •  Exactly. nt (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Mostel26

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

                            by NWTerriD on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:00:37 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  What slashing? (0+ / 0-)

                            If you look at the actual numbers, you'll see that spending-per-pupil has been constantly rising.

                            Even when adjusted for inflation.

                          •  Yeah, that $200 million that they just cut (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Mostel26

                            from our state education budget is certainly going to to increase the per-pupil expenditures.

                            Looking at your link: First, no they haven't constantly risen. There are years of negative change in there too, in the "constant dollars" column.

                            And second, that information stops in 2007. I'm pretty sure bkamr was referring to the slashing that has been going on in pretty much every state and every district in the country for the past two years.

                            Maybe you hadn't heard anything about mass teacher layoffs, ballooning class sizes, schools closing because they can't afford to keep them open, schools/districts eliminating counselor/art teacher/music teacher and other "unnecessary" positions, and some states & districts reducing the number of days kids are going to school because they don't freaking have enough money to keep the freaking schools open??

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

                            by NWTerriD on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:08:25 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The data only goes to 2007. BUT, I thank you (0+ / 0-)

                            for this resource!  I did delve in a bit further data going to 2009. And, guess what?

                            The data doesn't show that we have an education disaster going on in this country, at least not in terms of test scores when you compare apples to apples over the years. In fact, we're improving.

                            hmmmmm.

                            And no, we aren't dead last internationally either.  Drop out rates are dropping, too.

                            There are higher scores for 4th and 8th graders.  There are lower scores for 12th graders, BUT we have more students staying in school to graduate, so it makes sense that the numbers would drop at that test point. The students who would have dropped out in the 1990's are staying in to graduate, and therefore, they are also taking the tests in 12th grade.

                             

                        •  Maybe you have no idea if the kids are learning, (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Mostel26

                          but I do. I'm their teacher, and I see their classroom tests and the other work they do.

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

                          by NWTerriD on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:01:12 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You might be mistaken. (0+ / 0-)

                            We can't trust your word alone on such a high-stakes evaluation. A child's future is at stake and the word of One Teacher (or even Three Teachers) is not enough. We need to me sure.

                            It is especially problematic given that a teacher has a strong personal incentive to claim that a student is learning -- and a disincentive to admit that a student is not learning.

                            This is why we need tests.

              •  As a high school chemistry teacher (9+ / 0-)

                I feel trying to teach electron configuration to 7th graders is going to do nothing but mess them up. At age 11, they should be doing the kind of exploratory activities that will prepare them to understand the abstract concepts when they are intellectually ready to do so.

                Greatest the shame, least the blame.

                by houyhnhnm on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:25:04 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Pushing this content down (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SingleVoter, bkamr, mapamp

                is very much in fashion, and I'm concerned that there was not a lot of careful thought and study to it.

                Of course, the way parents with resources are reacting is to keep their kids out of kindergarten an extra year, so they will be older.

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

                by elfling on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 10:01:25 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  When I went to school (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26

                physics and chemistry were taught in high school.

                My estimate is that it would take 18 months to (9+ / 0-)
                adequately teach what is in the social studies curriculum, and I am REALLY pushing my 6th graders to understand the level of physics and chemistry in the curriculum.  Some are getting some of it, but frankly most of my 11 year olds' brains have not developed to the point where they can understand the abstract principles involved.

                What is the rush for? Is it so Mr. & Mrs. Yuppie can brag about their offspring?

          •  My daughter's 5th grade teacher (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SingleVoter, 3goldens, mapamp

            had the kids do a debate this week. I was so impressed at how much they've grown in being able to create and defend an argument, and how they stood up and did so. Not only that, but watching them complement each other - including the opposing team - on what a good job the other did - made me very optimistic for the future.

            Not on the test, but a great use of time and energy.

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

            by elfling on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:58:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  This is fantastic, IF... (0+ / 0-)

          ...you are lucky enough to get top-tier teachers in a well-funded school. Having engaged parents and and engaged community helps also!

          But back to the real world. Many schools aren't that lucky. If we write teachers a blank check and let them teach Whatever They Want, some kids will fall through the cracks. That's not acceptable.

          We need uniform standards, and we need tests to make sure kids meet those standards. Teachers should have broad authority on how to teach -- as long as the kids pass the test at the end of the year.

          •  After all, kids don't fall through cracks (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cassidy3, Mostel26, mapamp

            when "uniform standards" are devised by people who have never spent a moment teaching, and then efforts are made to force all pegs - square, oval, or hexagonal, into the national hole.

            :|

            "It is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence"

            by JesseCW on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 12:28:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Funding! (12+ / 0-)

        In Pennsylvania, the funding is hugely inequitable; as it is based on the tax base for each school district.  I live in Allegheny county.  The tax base for the old mill towns is extremely low just to keep up buildings.  Meanwhile, schools in the suburbs are spending millions on expansions and new stadiums.  This is grossly unfair.  Beginning teacher salaries are hugely disparate in just one county.  

        PA does not use a county wide school district system.  Each little community, or two or three, has their own district.  This serves to separate the haves from the have-nots, as well.

    •  Back when I was a kid growing up in KY, the (9+ / 0-)

      state actually did pay the same amount out per pupil--the poor kids in Appalachia had just as much spent on them as the rich kids living in Frankfort.

      I also disagree with your view that local school districts should have no hand in developing curriculum for their schools. They know, better than anyone, what their students' strengths and weaknesses are. For example, if the kids in a given district are weak in math, the local school district should be free to beef up their math curriculum, with extra focus on the areas that seem to be giving their students the most trouble. It just seems like common sense to me.

      •  About curricula and local districts (4+ / 0-)

        Heck, I say, let teachers at each school come up with their own curriculum. We allow grad students to do it in college.

        am I the only one who was mis-educated and learned from it?

        Let me tell you about some of the cockamamie things my teachers told me....

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

        by upstate NY on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 06:33:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's still that way in KY. We still have (7+ / 0-)

        some freedom to beef up where we see our students struggling, but the pressure to teach to the high stakes tests just keeps getting stronger.

        Especially since they keep moving the bar in math.  Not all of our 8th grade students will ever be able to do the algebra on the exam - ever.

        We have a very large special ed group in our school, because we have a very good special ed program.  Parents are actually moving into our area to attend our school based on word of mouth.

        I'm sorry, but many of our students will simply NEVER be able to do algebra and yet our special ed teachers are having to neglect math lessons that would be helpful (e.g. how to handle money) to give algebra lessons to students who are doing their best to add and substract.  Why? Because they have to demonstrate that they covered the curriuculum for ALL students and those students have to take the tests.

        This group of special ed students have not passed the math test two years in a row.

        So we've had to send out the, "We're a failure as a school letter," at least that's what it's being called. It is so frustrating and demoralizing.  We have the top scores in the district, and are well above national averages and because one group of students (who are never going to pass the test) didn't, our entire school gets labeled as a failure.

        That is not meeting our childrens' individualized needs.  If this group fails again, this year, and they will, then we will have to divert funds to more tutoring for this group.  Class size will have to go up for all our other students to pay for the additional tutoring which will not make one bit of difference.

        If this strikes you as being nutty, then maybe it would be a good time to join teacherken in DC in July.

        Our family will be there.

        •  Normally at least 99% of students (0+ / 0-)

          must be truly proficient and meet state standards.

          The other up to 1% must meet their reasonable goals.

          If the school system becomes a special education magnet, the NCLB law allows that lower figure of 1% to be raised to a higher percentage by petition to what I believe is the DoE.

          The right to petition the federal government is in the Constitution, but it is up to the district to ask for and justify an exceptional percentage.

    •  Actually there is a backlash forming against HST (10+ / 0-)

      More and more people are beginning to see the incredible damage done by high stakes testing and school divisions across the country are beginning to move away from them or protest them.  

      A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.

      by Guy Fawkes on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:11:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Move away from them how? (0+ / 0-)

        They are being mandated as the major component in teacher performance evaluations in just about every district in the state -- by contract, or top-down from the state legislatures.

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

        by NWTerriD on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:02:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  . . . just about every district in the COUNTRY (0+ / 0-)

          is what I meant to write.

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

          by NWTerriD on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:03:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  They can only be used (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, Mostel26

          to the extent that they can be used - for a very few teachers.

          You can't bubble test kindergarteners, or art, or PE.

          The school assessment test are generally math and language, with occasional science and history. Foreign language teachers are not tested. Calculus teachers are not usually evaluated with these kinds of tests.

          Once you hit high school, the kids have 5-7 teachers each semester. The improvement on language arts may be from the history teacher. And if the kids have a different teacher each semester, the yearly test doesn't tell you which teacher it was.

          If you believe that the value-add idea is valid, it only can be used for grades 3-6.

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

          by elfling on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:43:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't believe it's valid. (0+ / 0-)

            But all the people in charge of policy apparently do, because it's being used much more, not less, from what I can see. You're arguing about whether it's a good idea. You'll get no argument from me on that. The statement I was arguing with was that somehow because they aren't valid, the system is moving away from them. Not so's I can see.

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

            by NWTerriD on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 12:59:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Here is my comment..... (16+ / 0-)

      You can have a say if you start ponying up some of the money to pay for the schools.

      Teachers pay for more than they should to do their job, right.   Paper, pens, art supplies and more.  i paid for all the pets and food for my science classes including most of the supplies for my labs,

      Pencils for the "high stakes tests" or the kids would have no pencils.

      OMG
      You have no idea.
      And when I walked away from teaching I took all my stuff with me. Shells, rocks, tweezers, lenses, magnets, etc.

      http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/206488-1 at 1:31:20

      by TexMex on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:38:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Between test snacks (8+ / 0-)

        for when your school can't afford to give it to your students, but you know your school's grade (and your job) depends on those kids doing well.  And you can hear their stomachs growling during the tests.

        little rewards and incentives.

        folders for students who can't afford them.

        Books for classroom libraries.

        Books for students who don't have them in their homes.

        Newspapers and magazines for students to use in the classroom.

        Ink for printers (especially if you want to do realistic publishing and have a color printer).

        "We as in The United States of America. Sorry if that offends you..." --beelzebud 1/12/11

        by theal8r on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:11:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm willing to bet I pay more for my students' (0+ / 0-)

        education than 99% of the non-teacher taxpayers in the district pay. It averages around $200/month.

        Not that that should be the determining factor, but to the extent anyone thinks it should be, then I should have more say than the parents do.

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

        by NWTerriD on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:05:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The community is NOT in charge right now (10+ / 0-)

      Do you really believe that the community wants high stakes testing for their children? Do you really think that anybody besides Bill Gates types want public schools full of rote learners who only know how to fill out bubble sheets and do computations on commands?  The community has been ignored in these reforms. As teachers we have our say, but students and parents are not fans of NCLB and Race to the Top.

      •  Bill Gates doesn't want them either (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NWTerriD, peregrine kate, Mostel26

        rote learners don't innovate.  The Chinese know this and this is why they are moving away from the education model we are running hell-for-leather toward.

        This guy loves the system, but admits the public does not.

        These people are not impressed with the test results.  Let them tell you why.

        "We as in The United States of America. Sorry if that offends you..." --beelzebud 1/12/11

        by theal8r on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:22:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bill Gates doesn't? (0+ / 0-)

          If Bill Gates doesn't want rote people to staff most of the positions in his company, than why is he pushing crap "reform" on education? I think that Mr. Gates plans on pulling most of the innovaters he needs from private schools and wants drones in the vast majority of jobs at his company.

          •  I actually think that's unfair (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rini, theal8r, Mostel26, Lh1695

            I don't think Gates understands the implication of some of what he funds.  I think he actually has good intentions, just lacks the requisite background.  

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

            by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:32:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'd buy that for a dollar (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              3goldens, on second thought, Lh1695

              I'll defer to your judgement on that. Can we bring Gates into the light like we did with Diane? I fear Rhee will never get it right, but I'd love to get Gates on our team.

              •  don't know if he is reachable (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                on second thought, Mostel26

                he has so publicly committed himself on some things.

                On the other hand, he had made a major commitment to his small schools initiative, and when he/his foundation discovered it was not achieving the goals they sought (and they had been told up front that it probably wouldnd't) they did not hesitate to pull the plug.

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

                by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 08:25:16 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Gates is currently funding an initiative (0+ / 0-)

                  in which his foundation is working with the National Board for teacher certification to research how high-quality teaching can be identified. I think he has heard the cry that using student test results isn't a good measure. I'm optimistic that he may break away from Broad and the rest and actually support research-based reform.

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

                  by NWTerriD on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:09:29 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  yes, but (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mostel26

                    what he did was approach the National Board people for how they graded the videos teacher candidates submitted.

                    They were trying to extrapolate from that.

                    Of course, for each certificate area NBPTS has a clear set of rubrics, and not all possible fields are covered.  That's one problem

                    A second is under the Gates initiative people were going to be doing the scoring at home - they would be trained, but it is not the same as scoring on site the way candidates get scored during the summer. As I recall from the invitation I received to do it, the pay was going to be 18/hour -  I might note that more than a decade ago when I was doing SAT prep for Princeton Review I STARTED at 20/hour.

                    What was being examined in NBPTS scoring of videos were certain things quite specific.  Not sure how well it will translate into something broader, but I acknowledge it is worth exploring.  But remember, for NBPTS the two videos are only a PART of the submission that is considered.  I do not think they can be used in isolation, and it sounded like the Gates people were looking for one magic bullet, rather than considering how the video could be used as one piece of evidence among a number.  

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

                    by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:30:13 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I don't think he has any interest at all (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26

                  in actually improving education.

                  I think he, like the robber barons before him who heavily influenced the initial structure of public education in this country, believes that the best way to maintain the system that has served him so well is to dumb down public education.

                  "It is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence"

                  by JesseCW on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 12:34:39 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Only part of the platform (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            as I've seen it laid out, could be said to be geared that way.  The question of high stakes testing is to find a way to write a test that really measures what it is supposed to measure.  I'm not against testing out of hand, I'm against the tests we have.

            The tests only look at one piece of the educational puzzle: choice, parent involvement, home environment, access to print... these are all important, too.  The Gates Foundation does try to fund initiatives that foster those things as well.

            There are ways to test for "innovative intelligence" -- The SAT is supposed to be a test that does that.  Instead most states model their test after the ACT, though, which is a measure of rote knowledge.  shrug  I'm not completely and utterly opposed to the Gate Foundation, is all I'm saying.  And if he's as smart as he's rumoured to be, Gates knows he needs an education system that teaches thinking.

            "We as in The United States of America. Sorry if that offends you..." --beelzebud 1/12/11

            by theal8r on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:37:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Gates just wants to force it on the scum (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            in public schools.

            They scare him.  The only time anyone in his family in the last 4 generations has entered a public school was to dedicate a building.

            He very much prefers that the plebes are too ill educated to understand the power structure.

            "It is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence"

            by JesseCW on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 12:33:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, Microsoft, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, Daddy Bartholomew, Mostel26

          known for its innovation.  Not.

    •  I get the kids you send through the ringer (10+ / 0-)

      We have to save them from you.

      They come to us in the universities bludgeoned by years of testing, and they want answers on a plate, so they can regurgitate them back to us.

      PERFECT FOILS FOR THE CORPORATE MEDIA MACHINE.

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

      by upstate NY on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 06:32:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They're bludgeoned long before they get to you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        upstate NY

        They come to me (7th grade) with their ability to think independently already destroyed. When I try to force them to think for themselves, they cry, they get mad at me, they insist on consulting with other students even when I tell them they have to work by themsevles on a particular activity, they ask me after each question whether their answer is right, they give up as soon as they look at the question, and on and on an on. It is so discouraging.

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

        by NWTerriD on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:13:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, peregrine kate

      You can have a say if you start ponying up some of the money to pay for the schools.  

      Actually, $1500/year is what I contribute in property tax to the district I teach in. Then I spend anywhere from $200 to $500/year on supplies out of my own pocket.

      So I do have a say.

      Greatest the shame, least the blame.

      by houyhnhnm on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:30:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obviously, since we can't do high stakes (0+ / 0-)

      bubble testing of kindergarteners, kindergarten is a waste of taxpayer resources.

      /snark

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

      by elfling on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:55:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  TeacherKen writes the best about education (11+ / 0-)

    Thank you TeacherKen

  •  I'll be there with bells on! (11+ / 0-)

    And I'll be recruiting every teacher, parent, student and concerned citizen I can talk to between now and then. We must stop the insane privatizing trend that elementary and secondary education is being forced into in this country or future generations are doomed to ignorance. Not the privileged and the wealthy children, of course, but the vast majority of ordinary kids who need good public education.

    Thanks for bringing this and so much else in education to the DailyKos community, teacherken.

    Conservito delenda est pro is deleo orbis terrarum!

    by Stwriley on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 04:45:35 AM PST

  •  Please all DKOS parents (14+ / 0-)

    We must get involved! We must do everything in our power to stop the privatization of our public education system. Thank you once again TK for a very important diary about the future of public education. I plan on attending this summer. Locally I am working hard to educate the citizens of my town about our school budget and get them to the ballot box. I am trying to dispel the myths Governor Christie is putting forth about our public schools. He likes to talk endlessly about our  "failing schools". But what he leaves out is that 92% of our schools are not failing at all. In fact, NJ has some of the best schools in the nation.  Please support Save Our Schools!

    " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Lh1695 on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 04:58:56 AM PST

    •  We need to get progressives on local school (16+ / 0-)

      boards. I spent 6 years on our local school board back in the 90s. The conservatives have been doing this for years. We need to focus our efforts from the bottom up.

      •  I agree 100% (8+ / 0-)

        We need better school board members, we need better state legislatures, and we need better members of Congress.

      •  This is so important (5+ / 0-)

        In my district, until recently we had tea party types who strongly believed in starve the beast mentality. Our schools are suffering today due to years of their approach. Now we have a more forward thinking school board that is desperately trying to play catch up. Problem now is Christie's 2% cap is going to continue to suffocate our schools.

        " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

        by Lh1695 on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 06:35:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Every member of my local school board (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NYCee, blue jersey mom, JanL

        Is a Republican. And only 50 miles from NYC.
        NY also jumped through hoops to get a piece of the last RTTT contest funding and our district (enrollment around 3200, budget around 60 million) got a big ol' FU 10K from the winnings.
        The district cut  a dozen teachers 2 yrs ago, 17 last yr, and looking forward to more cuts this yr. We have a total of 8 music teachers for the whole district now.
        Now Gov. Cuomo has formed a committee to look at getting rid of unfunded and underfunded school mandates. I wonder wth that means.

        •  It means Cuomo is on board with the Democrats (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dww44, Mostel26

          rightwing hatched, neoliberal march to "cure" to what ails us in education, with these stinking "reforms."

          I am so glad I didnt vote for him. I would have had trouble holding down my morning coffee as I heard Morning JoeMika clap like a seal for Cuomo's antiunion moves, right out of the gate. (Scarborough gets punch drunk over union bashing, teacher bashing, and middle class 'sacrifice')

          I voted for Greens. The Dems plucked on my already raw last nerve (re their moves against progressives, on so many issues), in terms of voting for them, around what they have done to education.

          Also, re New York, Randi Weingarten is a terrible embarrassment of a sell out to any union she heads or meddles with (she has done so much of that the past few years, on behalf of this agenda)

          Her protege, Michael Mulgrew, who took the reins of UFT leadership from her, totally flipped re charter expansion and tying teacher evals to test scores, late last spring... just in time to give hte NY legislature what it needed to put it in the running for RttT. Which all the Ds in the leg. were itching to pass... along with complete bipartisan support... I mean, it is REPUBLICAN hatched!

          And we won! We won! We won RttT! (Ugh, we lost by winning. The price is horrid)

          California unions, otoh, I truly applaud. They mostly stood strong against the testing bs. And thus, CA lost the 2nd round of RttT... which, again, I consider winning. They won that battle against the thieves who come bearing fools' gold...  

          I think that is part of the reason why LAUSD teachers got punished, shamed, battered by the extremely reprehensible LA Times,  for being (rightly) resistant and thus causing CA to lose RttT...

          The LAT, just another in a long line of corporate media ed reform pushers, did a showy 'expose' of 6,000 LA teachers (taking it upon themselves to label them on students' test scores, alone... labeling them "least effective" to "most effective," using those flawed labels that Duncan applauds, that are based on flimsy and faulty data collection and crunching, used to evaluate teachers.

          I read a lot of their coverage, when they broke this disgusting series over the summer, which included reams of feedback the (vile) paper 'graciously' allowed their teacher-victims. They also got a lot of feedback from parents, community feedback, which, I was happy to see, largely went against what the paper had done... but there was Duncan, applauding it!

          One such teacher they had bullied in the public square, called "less effective" in the Sunday paper, Rigoberto Ruelas, committed suicide a few weeks later.

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

          by NYCee on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 08:44:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Is Randi really that bad (0+ / 0-)

            I don't know enough of her work to really follow where you're going with Randi.

            •  I think so. (0+ / 0-)

              Local NY/NYC teacher/school/community blogs have her number and often call her out for her selling out . Socialist websites do a good job too... as they are much more pro union than the union itself, these days... or certainly, the democrats. Or just read mainstream accounts of ed reform where she is menitoned. There is always a line or two about how far she has 'come along' to 'working with' her former adversaries, etc.

              She has become too much a political hack, in my view... I mean, she got NY teachers good salary gains, but she gives away far too much... and does this horrendously mealy mouthed snow job to try to whitewash her selling out.

              She has done it on Bill Gates, on Bloomberg's bad ed policies, on charters, on teacher evals. Now, no longer with NYC's UFT but as head of nationwide AFT, she zips across the country, pushing local unions to capitulate to these neoliberal demands. She was responsible for shaping that horrid DC contract, for example. She was trying to meddle with CA, last summer to get them to be more "reasonable". I hope they have continued to hold her at arms length.

              What many of us found quite rich was that Weingarten had helped the likes of Michelle Rhee so much, on that awful contract for teachers, yet she couldnt claim the credit. Instead, she was cast to play the role of evil union boogeywoman in that phony tearjerker of a charter pushing propaganDoc, "Waiting for Superman" She was cast in dark opposition to Rhee, its beloved heroine. Rhee gets lauded in the media for moving this agenda, Randi gets sidelined. And she cant complain because she still has to show up to rallies and pretend she is all FOR THE MEMBERS! All for one and one for all!

              Lol. Thing is, when you see footage of her pathetically weak 'debate' w/Rhee, it is telling. I mean, Rhee comes across strong and clear, fiercely FOR her rightwing bullshit agenda, whereas Randi, like anyone who has a bad habit of playing two sides of the street (and rewarding the wrong side, increasingly) cannot sound nearly as strong in making her 'case.' Selling out tends to hinder one's ability to speak with a straight tongue and a convincing voice.

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

              by NYCee on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:29:43 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am quite concerned too (0+ / 0-)

                since I am very much involved in these circles (more distant geographically). Odd that Weingarten should also be a major focal point of criticism in "Waiting for Superman" too--unless it's a matter of trying to serve all sides and please none?

                •  No, not really odd re Weingarten and WfS role. (0+ / 0-)

                  See, Randi IS the high profile It-Girl for union ID, or person who folks can identify as representing UNION. In this case, teachers' union. They need her to fill the role in their narrative: Evil unions. Wicked leader of evil unions. Thing is, like I said, its ironic she has to play it. Seems to make her mighty uncomfortable, given that she is so eager to please them, in her frequent forays over to their "side of the street." They know she aint that bad, but they need a bad guy for the show, and, for what its worth, she still puts up her little dukes in some areas, or she couldnt stay on the job.

                  Teachers unions have become such a prize, a target for takedown for neoliberals. Not so dumb when you realize the two largest unions in USA are teachers, NEA and AFT, respectively. Looks like they want to strike the beast what's left of unions in America at the 'head'...

                  The media assault: Jonathan Alter, Tweety, John Heilmann, et al (a long list)... they have said horrible things about teachers unions. Tweety had Michelle Rhee on and just slobbered all over her, then sputtered that teachers unions are "awful." He sputtered many ignorant inanities in that interview, which Daily Howler caught and skewered. She actually came off sounding more tolerant and nicer unions  than he did.

                  And that is saying something!

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

                  by NYCee on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 01:33:15 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Not only do I wholeheartedly agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blue jersey mom, Mostel26

        that we need to get progressives(I prefer the name liberals)onto our local school boards, but after last fall's drubbing we HAVE and MUST rebuild the Democratic party from the ground up.  Literally begin anew.  It will be a long climb back to parity in local and state politics, unfortunately. Which also means we aren't going to get any breaks in the redistricting either and their red state is picking up a seat, I believe. Can't wait to see how we get carved up again.

  •  I will do everything I can to help (9+ / 0-)

    I am a National Board Certified Teacher working in Chicago.

    I will do everything I can to help.  You (and me, all of us) should reach out Nick Kristoff of the NY Times (I used to guest blog for him a couple of years ago).  He might help amplify the event.

    Go Teacher Ken!

  •  there are only two kinds of power (11+ / 0-)

    money and people. the anti-teacher, anti-public school groups ( let's face it that's what they are ) have the money. we have the people. I left a promising career in journalism to help kids. A secure pension and benefits,  now under threat,played a role in that life-changing decision. How can I help....

  •  Teacher here! (9+ / 0-)

    A speech therapist that works with developmentally delayed preschoolers.  In PA, we speechies have teacher certification to work in educational environments.  The only environment I've ever wanted to work in. I've been doing this for almost 30 years now.  

    I'm with you teacherken!  I will see what I can do.

  •  College kids (8+ / 0-)

    College students need to be here as well. The State University systems are all under attack, community colleges are struggling to get funding, and we still allow for profit colleges to hand out degrees to the unemployable while getting grants and loans from the federal government.  EVERY university based school of education needs to have its students in DC for this. I'll be sending the link to West Chester University's school of education folks.

  •  the real thing (6+ / 0-)

    David Berliner, the Goodmans, teacherken, Deborah Meier, et. al.

    These people articulated the holistic education ideas I carry that led me to teaching in the first place.  Unequivocally endorsed!

    Either I'll be starting my first week of the 2011/12 school year, or I'll be there.  Either way, count on my support.

    Thanks, Kenneth!

    The amount of grain needed to fill the tank of an SUV with ethanol just once can feed one person for an entire year.

    by jcrit on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 06:04:27 AM PST

  •  ken, you had me until... (4+ / 0-)

    * Curricula developed by and for local school communities

    I know the fear that national curriculum standards will be co-opted by political factions and pedagogical advocates with whom we might disagree is an argument against national standards, but I am of the opinion that MINIMUM standards for CORE curricula -- Math, Science, History, English -- should be universal throughout the country.

    With so many students whose families migrate within the country -- sometimes several times during a student's academic career -- it is imperative that core academic curricula be co-ordinated nationwide. This co-ordination should include the grade level during which topics are covered, fundamental content for core curricula, and yes, some co-ordinated testing of those minimum curriculum standards.

    Having said that, I acknowledge that local communities may have local needs and individual teachers may have idiosyncratic methods, and these should be accommodated whenever possible. And so, I would leave ample room within the national standards for local communities and states to develop additional subject, topic, and pedagogy standards beyond the minimum national core curriculum, and frankly, I would include that expectation with the plan for the national standards.

    Consider me a Tea Party Democrat, but it's not my "country" I want back:
    The Corporations stole the People's party -- I want my party back!

    by Jimdotz on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 06:07:29 AM PST

  •  I'll be there! (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you for beginning this democratic movement. I have felt very frustrated watching the demolition of my beloved profession. I teach students with special needs and we are quickly retreating to pre-PL 94-142. Our children deserve so much more from us than they have been given these last 12 years.

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

    by lilypew on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 06:11:06 AM PST

  •  We are not allowed to email anything but (6+ / 0-)

    school business through the sytems email, but I can run off a bunch of flyers and talk it up in person during the school day and at events.
    I work in a very motivated community of teachers and parents.
    Off to sign up. thank you Ken.

    Education is too big to fail. Truth is too big to fail. Justice is too big to fail. Peace is too big to fail.

    by Burned on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 06:15:23 AM PST

  •  I'll be there (5+ / 0-)

    ...and I'll bring others.

    What's happening in our schools, not counting the kids, is damn depressing.

  •  Our family will be there. n/t (5+ / 0-)
  •  Great dairy T&R. Teacherken, (8+ / 0-)

    Shakespeare's Sister has an excellent diary down below. I think the two of you and Diane Ravitch should get together at Netroots Nation for a real discussion on education in this country.

    •  several problems with your suggestion (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries, ER Doc, mapamp
      1.  Diane will not as far as I know be there.  I explored doing a panel if she could come, but she told me she was already schedule.  With her as lead I know I could have gotten it approved.
      1.  Not yet clear if I will be there.  Several others MAY submit panels with me as a listed participant, and I have assured organizers that I will come if a panel for which I am proposed is selected, but beyond that I am not committing to attending.

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

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:05:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Any plans for more distributed action? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, karmsy, Mostel26, mapamp

    Marches on state capitols or in major metro areas?

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:06:39 AM PST

    •  up to local people (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, karmsy, Mostel26, mapamp

      our primary focus is what may happen with reauthorization of ESEA  and other relevant Federal legislation

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

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:11:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  understood (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, mapamp

        if local actions could help show a groundswell--that this isn't just a beltway bubble issue--I may be able to help in Houston.  Many of the systemic problems with our educational system came from Texas and I may be able to use my neighborhood and school board contacts to support the larger effort.  My email is in my profile.

        We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

        by Mosquito Pilot on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:19:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Texas is going to get better (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp

          I wish I lived in Texas so I could help get the 33% and growing Latino population registered to vote and voting Democrat ASAP! Public education in Texas is going to risk a period of getting much worse as conservative types further abandon the public school system and defund it more and more. A VERY engaged Lation voting block in Texas can transform that state into one of our nations most progressive in the next decade.

  •  A beautiful morning (8+ / 0-)

    Snow last night, and everything is white and very cold this morning up here in northern Michigan.

    I'm feeling a bit hopeful today that we may be turning the page on the last decade's failed experiment in school reform.  These efforts, though well intended and numerous over the years, seem to follow a familiar pattern:

    * OMG! Sputnik or some other poorly perceived evidence that our schools are failing comes into the political viewfinder.

    * An orgy of reductionist, inexpert, and downright foolish, "all we gotta do is.." solutions are proposed.  They tend toward authority and hierarchy, and away from democracy.

    * No one thinks to spend much time in real classrooms, or to ask teachers and students what they think and need.

    I imagine a day when our schools are filled with workshops, studios, performance spaces, kitchens, and libraries  -- where the natural learning modes of human mammals are fostered, and REAL LEARNING  BLOOMS.

    Thanks Ken!

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:08:05 AM PST

  •  Ken - dates at end of diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapamp

    ...don't match the updated dates at the beginning.

  •  Being "talked at" (10+ / 0-)

    "Somehow we were not listened to, but rather talked at."  How true!  At our annual school year kickoff, our keynote speaker was a member of the Department of Education, who spent the bulk of her time telling us how we were neglecting and shortchanging our students.  In the middle of her address, I turned to a colleague and said, "I love being talked down to; don't you?"
    What you, Ken and others, understand,and what the so-called reform group doesn't understand, is that they are systematically burning out, insulting, intimidating, and turning away from the profession the very best teachers.  Young and old teachers that I know are totally stressed out with the demands placed on them by frightened administrators.  Teachers get sick, burn out, and turn cynical without really understanding why.  I hope your new initiative at least helps to educate teachers and administrators that they are breaking down because they are buying into a kind of educational madness.
    BTW, that DOE speaker was speaking to a group of teachers who work in one of the poorest counties in the US, and who, in my mind, have performed heroically year after year, working to educate kids out of hopelessness and poverty.
    I'm a retired teacher, still working part time, and I'm joining up.

  •  Florida Governor (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, theal8r, Mostel26, mapamp
    is getting ready to cut funding to public schools, and medicaid.  Florida is ready to become on a par with Mississippi as becoming one of the lowest states for education and for helping the poor.  Governor Scott is the worse thing that has happened to Florida in years.  Even Jeb Bush was not as bad.
  •  I support this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, JesseCW, Mostel26, mapamp

    and will look into the Parents Across America organization, and plan to attend the march, hopefully, with my school-aged children.

    I think it's critical for teachers to have more control over education in this country.  And everything I've been seeing is that it's going in the opposite direction.

  •  Who from the media can help us? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boatwright, on second thought, mapamp

    Who are the big media types that we can get to have our backs at this event? How has Maddow and/or Shultz been on education issues? Bill Press? We need some left friendly folks to help us out here.

    •  we will have to see (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, mapamp

      the friendliest voice so far for a different perspective than the conventional wisdom of the deformers has been Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post

      there are couple of others who are not totally nuts, and think a bit critically, but for now let me not subject them to any unnecessary pressure to conform.

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

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 08:27:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Charter leadership (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, mapamp

    Curious who from the charter school programs has been invited?  Happy to help get some people there if you are inclined for that input.

    •  we have a group of charter parents from NYC (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, JesseCW, Mostel26, mapamp

      led by Mona Davids, who is referenced in the diary.  And her organization has also endorsed.

      We have no interest in charters run by for-profit chains, nor those whose emphasis is very much on the current direction of high stakes testing.  We are open to others, if they can view and accept the framework within which we are already operating.

      Remember that as of the start of the school year only about 5% of school children were in charter 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 Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 08:43:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Charters the right way (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, ManhattanMan, mapamp

        Charters done the right way fit WITH EASE in this framework.  As somebody who teaches in a charter I can say that charters would work best when they can do things that will keep teachers there long enough to establish a decent school. What that means is:

        - the charter school is not for profit so ALL of the money coming in gets used for education - the charter school when founded adopts the bargaining unit from the chartering district - the charter school when founded is filled by lottery, not private school admissions criteria - the charter school is based on professionally appropriate terms and conditions of work for the staff. Meaning no mega long school days/years - the charter school is not a standardized test factory where the teachers spend all of their time doing kill and drill education

      •  Ok (0+ / 0-)

        I don't personally know of any "for profit" charters and don't support that model anymay.  Mona is good - she's a champion of parental choice and should have an interesting perspective.

        •  she does - we had a 45 minutes conversation (0+ / 0-)

          when she approached us and I was quite impressed with what I heard.

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

          by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:31:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm TFA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Mostel26, mapamp

    and I disagree to an extent on the testing, but i'll be there because I agree with the rest.

    •  it's your choice (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp

      I can assure you that TFA as an organization will not support, nor will its alumni group.

      There are those who have been through TFA and stayed beyond the 2 years minimum who see things very much in line with what we do.

      As in all political activity, we not always have perfect agreement and we work together where we can.

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

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 08:45:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're off to a great start (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp

      Thank you for joining TFA to help add to the ranks of educators. If you stick with teaching for 5-10 years you'll start to see where we're coming from on the standardized testing part of our views. I would really like to direct you to spend some time reading Gerald Bracey's work on schools if you have any free time coming up. Standardized testing has its place, but the high stakes element of it is bad education policy.

  •  Educating children is not a proper (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boatwright

    enterprise for the practitioners of human husbandry.

    The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

    by hannah on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 08:58:23 AM PST

    •  An apt metaphor (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hannah, on second thought, mapamp

      We should note however that the best of those that work with animals have found that teaching techniques that acknowledge inner mental and social processes and motivations are the most effective.

      Techniques that rely on force and fear, and that look at animals as mere brutes simply don't work very well.

      If horses and dogs respond so well to skillful teaching that guides rather than punishes, why not kids?

      Sad to say, but the conservative mind-set is fear based and seems to always incline to punishement.

      Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

      by boatwright on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:21:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Question about "endorsers" list (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapamp

    on the SOS website, there are about 3 dozen names listed as endorsers, and a link to click to see the full list--however this link is to the same page as the original list, ie. it doesn't go anywhere.

    My question is, will there be a separate list of all endorsers for people to look at? I can get some good people to endorse (a former Teacher of the Year, others), but I think they will be more likely to do so if there is a list of average people to join, not just the celebrity list!

    I think this is great, I hope it takes off big-time.

    ...I'm unsure what to say here...

    by sillia on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:14:57 AM PST

    •  we are discussing that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp

      we will eventually migrate to a more complete website, at which time we will be able to more easily accommodate that.

      We needed to get up and get going to organize with volunteers, speakers, raise money, etc.

      The members of the executive committee have all seen this diary.

      You might use the contact address to send that as a mesage.  You can do it directly in the online contact box or if you want send an email to SaveOurSchoolsMarch at Gmail

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

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:34:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  will do! (nt) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mapamp

        ...I'm unsure what to say here...

        by sillia on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 09:50:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just to follow up (0+ / 0-)

          I got a prompt response from my email inquiry--the supporters list will become available when the full website goes up sometime in February. People who sign up now as supporters will have their name added to the list and this will appear when the real website goes up.

          This will be fun; I imagine we can generate a lot of support, not just from dKos but from our communities, where there is a lot of resentment brewing over the status quo.

          ...I'm unsure what to say here...

          by sillia on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 03:19:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Should Public School Be Optional? (0+ / 0-)

    This is a serious question.

    If school was a choice with RESPONSIBILITIES, I think parental support and student participation would soar.

    Don't show up?  You get the boot.  Don't do your assignments/homework?  You get the boot.

    But, if you do show up and do your work, you get to enjoy ALL the goodies:  transportation to school, meals, extra-curricular activities, etc.

    I don't know what it's like where you teach, but our public schools are incessantly contending with students who will do anything to NOT attend school.  BUT, at the same time, students (and parents) will jump seemingly impossible hurdles to attend sports practices and games.  

    The difference?  Participation in sports is a CHOICE; school is not.  Just about every student I know and did know when I was in school feels greater loyalty toward "Coach" than any teacher.

    And, a coach can kick you off the team if you don't show up or act inappropriately.  Teachers don't have that luxury -- unless they teach at private schools -- and I think that's the significant difference between public and private schools.  It's not about what's being taught or how; it's about the ability to maintain a pool of students who CHOOSE to learn.

    I would love to read your thoughts on this subject.  

    •  At what point would you give a child the choice (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, dww44

      to go to school or not? Kindergarten? What happens if a child happens to have the rotten luck of parents who may not value education--just too bad for that kid--s/he doesn't have to go? Don't you think society has a stake in that child becoming a productive citizen? Compulsory education exists for a reason.

      And what responsibility does the school system have for making the environment as safe and positive as possible, so students will want to be there? We have a responsibility to ensure every child has a caring, competent teacher, the tools, technology, and materials necessary, and a safe place to learn. Children, for the most part, LOVE school when they are very, very young--when they are allowed to explore their world on their own timeline. We start losing them as the focus shifts to high-stakes assessment and drill and practice. What's ironic is that test scores actually go UP with innovative teaching and creative practice. We don't need to script teachers and box them in.

      Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed...

      by langstonhughesfan on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 10:13:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The younger ones will attend! (0+ / 0-)

        Their parents will make sure the younger ones go to school for many reasons, most of them selfish:

        1.  Free Day Care!
        1.  Affordable Meals
        1.  Fear of social shunning -- "YOU aren't sending Jr. to school??!!!"

        The difference would be if you as a parent CHOSE to send your child to school, you would have to make sure he/she showed up, showed up on time, and did the assignments.  Or, else you'd lose that valuable day care and meal plan.

        I agree that kids love school in the beginning.  And, I want as many kids as possible to choose school.  But, even in the lower grades, you get kids who don't show up or who are constantly tardy or don't do their assignments.  

        They make teaching the kids who are excited about school very difficult for the teachers.  The teachers have to:

        1.  Slow the pace to make sure everyone is caught up.
        1.  Begin instruction again for the late ones.
        1.  Fill out endless paperwork.
        1.  Feel obligated to offer to retest after retest so everyone is FINALLY up to snuff.

        If parents knew Jr. could get the boot, they MAY turn off the TV and ask Jr. to his/her homework.  But, since they know Jr. will be accommodated no matter what (cuz that's the law), they send Jr. to school sleepy, unprepared and/or late .. or not at all.  

        And, if you get snow......  the pace slows even more!  

        I've seen bright students lose their intellectual curiosity and skills as they approach FIFTH grade because the pace was so sluggish.  All while the schools and teachers were legally doing everything within their power to teach.

        And, YES, I loathe testing.  This is separate from testing, though testing certainly plays a part in slowing the pace even further cuz .... the kids test more than they receive instruction (or have discussions).

        I'm not being heartless.  I want everyone WHO WANTS IT to have access to school.  But, I do believe in a minimal amount of personal responsibility.  You should have to make an effort (get up, show up and do your assignments) to stay in school.  And, if you can't do that, I think the schools should be able to 'cut bait' just like the coaches.

  •  I support all of this... (0+ / 0-)

    ...except one point:

    Curricula developed by and for local school communities

    Most communities are not equipped to determine an appropriatete curriculum in most areas. That's why we have professional educators; they need to be the ones determining curricula. That's not to say communities shouldn't have a voice, but they shouldn't be the strongest voice.

    Giving local communities too much control over curriculum is why there's about to be no diversity education in Arizona, rewriting of early US history in Texas, and practically no teaching of evolution in the southeast.

    "Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; but the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long endure."--Charles Darwin

    by Hopeful Monster on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 10:03:19 AM PST

  •  MN Repubs proposed statewide pay freezes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dww44, DavidW, mapamp

    for teachers, which would also take away our right to strike over wages.  Yeah, because teachers are the reason the state is out of money.  What happened to the local control R's are always so hot and heavy about?  It is truly the right-wing not-so-secret conspiracy to do away with unions, chipping away at one piece at a time.

    Maybe I should ask my local if they can help offset the cost of sending a few of us out to DC.  Sounds like a great lineup!

  •  Ken, isn't Diane Ravitch a bit... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy

    Right leaning??? I've read your diaries in the past where you've applauded her work, and I'm not an expert on her, though I have read her writings and have disagreed with some of her stances. Do you think she's right down the middle? I like that you've got Joel Spring and Alfie Kohn on your list, though. We're reading Spring's book on "Deculturalization" this semester in my class. Great diary, by the way!

    Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed...

    by langstonhughesfan on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 10:18:00 AM PST

    •  After a considerable wait for "The Death and Life (5+ / 0-)

      of the Great American School System" (for the many holds placed on the volume at the local library), I did get to read it. Since the book was in hot demand, I didn't keep it long enough. But I do recall thinking that Ravitch makes a sincere and credible impression as a former conservative ideologue for the "reform" of American education, who's rethought her former positions and is walking them all back. She was an education official in the administration of Bush the elder, but she seems to have come a ways since.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 10:42:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  a misinterpretation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      langstonhughesfan

      first let's get several things clear

      1. while in Bush 41 education Dept under Alexander she was a registered Democrat.  She is now a registered independent.  She has never been a Republican
      1.  She has always been a strong supporter of PUBLIC schools
      1.  She has always been  a strong supporter of teachers' unions.

      Thus she was never right-wing

      What is fair to say is that she was highly critical of the progressive movement in education as she saw it play out in nthe 60s and 70s, and she was interested in the idea of NCLB because she thought it was a way of ensuring quality education would reach minority kids.  In my very first conversation with her more than a decade ago she pointed out that the person who had advocated for the disaggregation of scores by groups so systems could not hide how poorly they were serving some groups of kids was Robert F. Kennedy.

      She moderated a conference at which there was a review of NCLB.  She had the responsibility of summing up.  It became clear to her at that moment that no part of NCLB was working as intended.  

      Diane operates on evidence.  She is trained first and foremost as an historian of education.  She decided right then that the approach of NCLB was wrong.

      She was already troubled by what she was seeing in the narrowing of the curriculum, especially with test prep depriving kids of history, poetry, music, art, etc,

      she still believes in the principle of a national curriculum framework.  That's one place she and I disagree.

      She has moved to where she is based on the evidence.

      One more thing -=  she has always been a strong critic of top-down management of education.  She believes it is important to root schools and their governance within their local community.  And she absolutely opposes the idea of mayoral control.  Remember, she is an historian of education, and she can point you at where it was tried and failed before.

      While not a psychometrician, she also has a good understanding of testing, and was on the national governing board for NAEP - national assessment of educational progress, sometimes called the nation's report card for schools - under both Bush 41 and Clinton.

      She had been involved in education policy for the Bushj 43 campaign but withdrew from that role well before the election, IIRC.

      She is also very much a caring person, generous with her time.

      She has friends across the political and educational spectrums.  

      But it is unfair and inaccurate to characterize her as a conservative, either previously or now.  She was in fact a moderate who has become radicalized against the 'reform' movement.  

      And she has a wicked sense of humor.  Within three-four months of the Obama administration taking office, she described Arne Duncan as Margaret Spellings in drag.

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

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:42:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why define yourself in opposition to Obama? (0+ / 0-)

    Aren't there better ways to do this?

    Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

    by Benintn on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 10:41:27 AM PST

    •  Hmmm, well... (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, bess, Tanya, dww44, JesseCW, Mostel26, mapamp

      don't we get to speak up when aspects of Obama's policy strike us as seriously flawed?

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 10:46:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think you have that backwards (0+ / 0-)

      the Obama administration has defined itself in opposition to what is correct for education.

      They could have gone a different direction.  One of Obama's top advisers on education during the campaign and into the transition was Linda Darling-Hammond.  But there was an organized effort to block her from becoming SecEd, led by the misnamed Democrats for Education Reform and especially by those people associated with Teach for America -  she was responsible for the research that undercut their claim of being an effective way of reaching the students they served, and they were determined to block her.  

      Once Obama went with Duncan, and given Duncan's track record in Chicago, there were immediate concerns.  Those were proven out within the first few months, starting with the people who surrounded Duncan, including several top aides out of the Gates Foundation and one assistant secretary from Education Trust.

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

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 05:49:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just sent all the info to our union prez n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken
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