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I am a teacher.   You know, one of those about whom you and your Secretary of Education say are so important to our young people.  If only I - and thousands, perhaps millions of other teachers - could believe those words.  

There are things your administration has done that we respect, at least most of us.  The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act meant large numbers of teachers and other public employees did not lose their jobs.  Under ARRA, for the first time ever the Federal government for two years just about met its commitment to provide 40% of the average additional costs imposed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  There was also the $10 billion in funds to support local government employment that also save some jobs.    We acknowledge these things.

If only the policies your administration advocates were similarly supportive of teachers and what we see as the best interest of our students.

There are words -  Secretary Duncan saying to Roland Martin of NBC

The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.
  and the Secretary and you approving of the firing of all the teachers at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island.   Things like these do not give us confidence that your administration has the best interest of students at heart, and give us great pause in thinking that you really care about teachers.

Would these were our only concerns.

We look at Race to the Top, pushed through without vetting for specific policies by the Congress, and see destructive things being forced upon our schools.  None of the four acceptable methods for "failing" schools has a base of research showing that it improves education for students, and those tried in  Chicago while Secretary Duncan ran those schools did great harm, as local reporting and studies in Chicago have demonstrated.  Insisting that states lift caps on charters without controls for qualities has allowed unscrupulous operators and others (including some governors and mayors) to shift massive amounts of public dollars into settings where the operators receive exorbitant salaries, where hedge funds profit from real estate deals, where teachers can be discharged without basic due process protections, yet the most exhaustive studies of charters show that they do not perform better than the public schools from which they draw, despite in many cases being able to cherry-pick their student bodies - not taking those harder to educate, being able to "counsel out" those not performing as well.

The Congress would not act on your Blueprint for Education because it saw many problems.  Now the Secretary is acting unilaterally without them.  Yes, it is true, as people had said for years, that the timetable on No Child Left Behind would lead to the vast majority of our schools failing to make the artificial target of Adequate Yearly Progress -  when a school like New Trier High School in Winnetka IL fails to achieve AYP because of a few special education students and the school in which I teach by one student, there is something clearly wrong with the formula.   Yet the requirements for getting the punitive sanctions waived at a state level requires states to make even more commitments that are damaging to the best interest of students.

Let's be clear.  Most teachers simply want to serve America by teaching our students.   We do jobs for which we are paid less than our compatriots with similar education and skills.   Most of us work many hours that are not compensated:  we may not be teaching during the summers, but often we are taking jobs or that is when we fulfill the educational commitments we must make to keep our certification.   During the school year our assigned hours may only be 7.5 for each school day, but we often spend another 2-3 in correcting papers and tests, in planning, in contacting parents.  

America's schools were NOT failing in comparison to other nations.  That was not true in 1983 when the Reagan Administration issued A Nation At Risk and it is not true today.  Our schools with less than 10% of their students in poverty outperform Finland as a nation, with only 4% of its students in poverty - and Finland provides healthcare to every single person in the nation.   Those are the results of the latest tests from OECD, PISA, on which if a nation's scores were adjusted for percentage of students in poverty the US performed as well as any other nation.

We have problems in America, but most of them originate outside of the classroom and cannot be fixed in the classroom, in the schools.  

Meanwhile your insistence on saying how schools are failing and focusing on the economic aspects of public education entirely misses what we know to be important for our students:  their individual well-being, something that goes far beyond preparing them for the workplace.

You say that children should learn music, and art, and history, but your policies only continue what began under NCLB:  a narrowing of the curriculum to what is tested for high stakes purposes.   The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that our students are going through our schools without learning about government, history and civics, because those are not tested for AYP.  Now states that have signed on to the Common Core Standards are telling teachers in social studies that they must be planning their lessons to support those standards, even though (1) the original planning of the standards was without input from teachers (but a lot from think tanks and those involved with testing), and (2) do not include in their construction basic skills and knowledge relevant to the social studies.

I am a social studies teacher.  I know that you will say the standards were not imposed by the federal government, nor are the common assessments being prepared by two consortia.  That is true, but your education department has offered support, both verbal and financial, for the efforts that are involved.

You may well get reelected because of an improving economy and the weakness of the current field of Republican opponents.  And it is true that both teachers unions have offered early endorsements for your reelection.

But understand this: many, many teachers will not support you this time around, and if the election is close that could wind up being very costly.  Many teachers volunteered on your behalf, gave contributions from their limited resources.   Now?  Some may still vote for you, but will not try to persuade others to do likewise.  Some may turn out to vote in other races, which means at the last minute they may hold their noses and vote for you.  But they may not.

Too many will simply not vote as things currently stand.  They supported you in hope.  They supported you because in your campaign in 2008 you said those of us supporting you would have a voice - not just in education, but in health care, in other policies as well.  

The political reality is many teachers are not only disappointed in your administration and its policies, they are angry.

As bad as that is, there is something worse that is happening:  teachers who planned to continue teaching are now leaving the profession.  They are not encouraging others to join the profession.  Those who are still relatively young in their careers are increasingly deciding not to make it a life choice, and leave for other options, options where they are not subject to the verbal abuse and lack of respect they see from many sources, including the policies of your administration.

A man I greatly respect has the following as his sig, the words that accompany his name each time he posts a comment at the website where I am posting this:  Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.  We look at what your administration does in education and we are angered, saddened, disillusioned.

I will be 66 in May.  I came to teaching in my late 40s.  I had planned to stay in the classroom until I was at least 70, perhaps even another 5-10 years beyond that, as long as I felt I could teach with integrity.

Now?  As of now I do not know if I will return for even one more year.  I see what is happening in education and I am not sure I can any longer teach with integrity.

The policies of your administration are a major contributor to my current indecision about continuing to teach.  In my case, as a teacher of government, I have real concerns about policies in areas other than education:  I'm not quite certain what the government is anymore.

It is, however, the policies in education that most contribute to my doubting that i can continue to teach with integrity, not when your administration continues to emphasize testing (even as you offer verbal words about multiple measures), when your administration continues to push charters, when your administration so emphasizes STEM that the effect is to diminish the social studies, English, the arts. . .  

I am not only a teacher, I am also a Quaker.  Your daughters attend one of the best schools in the nation, Sidwell Friends.  I have no objection to your choosing that wonderful school for them.  I have friends who teach there, I have friends who attended Sidwell.  A previous headmaster, Earl Harrison, was a good friend.  I admire the school greatly.

Why should your children be able to get an education with emphasizes the individual students, which does not measure teachers by tests, which does not subject students to a testing regime that is out of control, which has class sizes and teacher loads of students that are reasonable - all things I support - while your administration insists upon policies that are contrary to just about every one of these things?

If you are President of all of the American people, why are not all of our children entitled to the quality of education your children are receiving?

I hear that question not only from Quakers like me, but from ordinary teachers, who wish they could provide that kind of education to the students entrusted to their care.

Mr. President, I want you to succeed.  The candidates from the other party scare me, not just on education, but on matters of war and peace, on the social agenda they would impose upon the rest of us.

Last cycle my wife and I contributed to your election.  We volunteered.  I advocated forcefully on your behalf.

Mr. President, please explain why I, or any other teacher, should do any of that when you have so disappointed us?  Please do not argue about the lesser of two evils, of how much worse the other side would be.  You are too intelligent to insult teachers with that kind of reasoning.

You ran on a campaign of hope and change.  We see the change, and we are losing hope -  for our profession, for our schools, for our students, and thus for our nation.

Please listen.

Teachers most want to focus on serving their students.  That is why it is rare to see large numbers expressing their anger or their disappointment.  Yet increasingly teachers are becoming vocal about how unhappy we are about what is happening.  If our anger and our concern are not addressed, then increasingly as well you will see the teachers you do not want to lose walking away from the classroom.

That will hurt our students even more than you can imagine.

The new teachers will lose the ability to turn to experienced teachers for mentoring.

Schools will lose institutional memory, and the ability to build a positive school culture.

The gifted people we want in the classroom will decide to pursue other careers.

I am older.  I am of an age where many of my contemporaries have already retired from their careers.   I am only one teacher, one person, and my leaving the classroom may seem not to matter all that much.  So perhaps my words will seem not to matter.

I am still by most accounts an effective teacher.   I could keep working, albeit with decreasing effectiveness given the direction of educational policy that begins with your administration.  

That I may well leave the classroom should concern you even more than whether or not I will politically support you.

Remember I am far from alone in my disappointment and my anger.

Will you finally listen to educators?

Will you finally understand that what your administration is doing is permanently damaging our public schools?

If not, why not?

The great Jewish Sage Hillel has a famous statement that applies:  

If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?
If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? -  As a teacher, I must speak up, for myself, for my fellow teachers, because from our perspective no one else is doing so.

And if I am only for myself, then what am I? -  We speak up for ourselves so that we can be for our students, and thus for our society.  We do what we do because we care.  Most of us could probably make more money doing other things.  We have put up with lack of respect and lesser income because we are committed to service.  

For each of us there is a point beyond which we will not go.  

Many of us have reached that point.

We are crying out, on behalf of our profession and our students.

We are asking you to listen, to hear us.

Which leads to Hillel's final question:

If not now, when?

We await your answer to our concerns, Mr. President.

We have not yet completely abandoned hope.

But the time left is very short.

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Comment Preferences

  •  while this is my personal letter (170+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susan S, chapel hill guy, BlueDragon, Reino, Abelia, triv33, priceman, frandor55, jgilhousen, temptxan, gooderservice, rudewarrior, mp, Onomastic, LamontCranston, JesseCW, VetGrl, Dartagnan, UTvoter, Jim R, Ginger1, ER Doc, Texknight, TracieLynn, DefendOurConstitution, Shockwave, on second thought, stcroix cheesehead, cermakRd, gypsytoo, Son of a Cat, CenFlaDem, Ree Zen, sawgrass727, One Pissed Off Liberal, Inameli, shaharazade, theunreasonableHUman, rapala, pioneer111, snoopydawg, emal, jamess, fixxit, WiseFerret, makettle, offred, scorpiorising, bstotts, markdd, stratocasterman, mofembot, JanL, dle2GA, CASoup, Black Max, quill, Rick Aucoin, Chaddiwicker, gulfgal98, RuralLiberal, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, zerelda, bnasley, Dark UltraValia, 3goldens, Rhysling, homunq, BradyB, copymark, Sprinkles, GeorgeXVIII, Alumbrados, Michael James, blueoasis, 0wn, blue71340, doingbusinessas, sreeizzle2012, Chitown Kev, TomorrowsProgressives, DixieDishrag, FishOutofWater, weaponsofmassdeception, dinazina, McMeier, Balachan, CB8421, Liberal Mole, jennylind, FarWestGirl, Susan from 29, AverageJoe42, poligirl, ladyjames, ramara, sandblaster, Carlo, oldoregonlib, ladybug53, Andrew F Cockburn, CitizenOfEarth, Tommy Allen, happymisanthropy, nancat357, Sanctimonious, SanFernandoValleyMom, RhymesWithUrple, Setsuna Mudo, WisePiper, ProfessorWho, Geekesque, Matt Z, 207wickedgood, Ruh Roh, tovan, JekyllnHyde, radarlady, VolvoDrivingLiberal, CentralMass, CTDemoFarmer, stormicats, monkeybrainpolitics, aigeanta, Paddy999, Gorette, leonard145b, PrahaPartizan, zenox, a2nite, pico, joycemocha, Joe Hill PDX, vacantlook, Angie in WA State, daddybunny, TheGreatLeapForward, johanus, Sagebrush Bob, Moderation, SomeStones, greengemini, Dallasdoc, jabbausaf, lennysfo, SpecialKinFlag, Mathazar, ek hornbeck, xaxnar, chimene, denise b, CanisMaximus, grimjc, Lucy2009, Zinman, burnt out, roses, xynz, worldlotus, Funkygal, shypuffadder, Mostel26, Temmoku, Orinoco, OpherGopher, teacherD, Mac in Maine, PhilJD, AbominableAllStars, Lujane

    I know that much of what I offer is not unique to me.

    I cannot say that I have any hope that this letter will have any more effect than did the Save Our Schools March, Teachers Letters to Obama, the many blog posts and op ed pieces that have been written, the testimony teachers and parents have given to school boards, or anything else I and other teachers have done.

    Why write it?

    Because I had to.

    Because I felt a moral obligation to speak out.

    Because as i wrestle with whether to return to the classroom, or even to stay connected with education in some other fashion, I had to open my heart and soul.

    Do with this what you will.

    "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 06:26:17 AM PST

  •  Excellent post (40+ / 0-)

    I hope someone named Barack Obama reads it.

    "Can I be quoted as yawning?" --Eric Jotkoff, Florida Democratic Party, on the shocking news that Democrats want to expose Republican corruption.

    by Susan S on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 06:34:31 AM PST

    •  I don't think so . . . (11+ / 0-)

      While I normally agree with teacherken, I don't think this is an excellent post.

      I don't disagree that Obama's policies on education are ugly and anti-teacher. I believe Arne Duncan is an unprincipled apparatchik. Race to the Top is a disaster.

      So, why don't I think this is an excellent post? Because there is not some savior on the Republican side who will create the educational paradise teacherken seeks. Whatever you think of Obama and education, the truth is his economic stimulus saved 240,000 teachers' jobs for two years. His American Jobs Act would have saved another 50,000 if the GOP hadn't strangled it in the cradle.

      Even if you can only give $10 to Obama, cough it up, because Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and their anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-government, and anti-Obamacare buddies are projected to kick in $500 million to PACs supporting an "anybody but Obama" candidate in the general election.

      You want to see the National Labor Relations Board put out of business? You want the Davis-Bacon Act repealed? Obamacare throttled before it begins? Education's Title I reshaped so that it takes money out of poor school districts to redistribute to those that already have too much? Drug testing for public assistance? Vouchers for private education? Sarbanes-Oxley Wall Street reforms repealed? Social Security privatized? Medicare and Medicaid gutted? Go ahead. Apply the purity test to Obama. But remember, the last time left-wing Democrats applied the purity test, they took enough votes from Al Gore to elect George Bush. How'd that turn out?

      •  sorry, but the lesser of two evils is still evil (44+ / 0-)

        and we have to make that point forcefully

        from the standpoint of education, this administration is destructive and teachers know it

        your rationale is the same as Dennis van Roekel used to justify an early endorsement of Obama last year, which is why the administration and the campaign feel they can ignore teachers, that they have no place else to go.

        You don't think I should be telling the administration that many teachers have already decided NOT to vote for Obama's reelection?  That is reality.  

        I haven't told you or anyone else what you should do.

        I am telling how teachers feel, and how they may act - or not act - as a result.

        "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 08:38:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think teachers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          My Left Behind

          are as monolithicly opposed to the policies as you imply. Do you have any evidence to support that? Polls or otherwise?

          You never trust a millionaire/Quoting the sermon on the mount/I used to think I was not like them/But I'm beginning to have my doubts -- The Arcade Fire

          by tomjones on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 10:10:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Try the greater of two evils for awhile (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alba, blaneyboy, psilocynic, worldlotus

          and see how you like that.

          "...from the standpoint of education, this administration is destructive..." ?

          From Milt Shook:
          Obama has repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process.   http://bit.ly/...   http://bit.ly/...   http://bit.ly/...

          Completely reformed the student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate.   http://nyti.ms/...

          Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , he invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.   http://1.usa.gov/...   This includes a major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide   http://bit.ly/... , as well as an expansion in school construction.  http://bit.ly/...

          Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start. http://1.usa.gov/...

          He oversaw expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low income students to go to college.  http://bit.ly/...

          He passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds.  http://1.usa.gov/...  

          Unfortunately, President Obama doesn't have time to read DK, so contact him here: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 (Postcards, not letters! Please give your email address.) -- 202-456-1111 -- FAX: 202-456-2461

          by My Left Behind on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:11:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No one thinks (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BradyB

            that anyone on the right would do any better. That's no excuse to just ignore the turn in the wrong direction because it could be off a cliff instead.

            As bitterly disappointed as I am in the current dept of education policies, I think President Obama is a smart person who has the ability to look at actual data on what works for education. If he is loudly encouraged, by people who are on his side, to do so.

            •  The diarist, and others here, ask why they should (0+ / 0-)

              continue their support of Obama because they are not completely satisfied with his progress in the field of education.
              I gave them an answer.
              I think the diarist might be more effective if, instead of a rambling whine, he focused on one specific issue and encouraged readers to contact the White House, and gave handy instructions on how to do so.
              To think that a rant on a liberal blog site will have any productive impact is exceedingly self-important, imho.

              Unfortunately, President Obama doesn't have time to read DK, so contact him here: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 (Postcards, not letters! Please give your email address.) -- 202-456-1111 -- FAX: 202-456-2461

              by My Left Behind on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 09:48:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have focused on one issue - education (0+ / 0-)

                in its various aspects

                and you entirely miss the point of this post, which is having an effect

                simply writing the WH gets you very little

                expressing something to which others give their support, and making that fact known to people of influence does have an impact.

                this post has been read by several dozen Members of the US House of Representatives, an equal number of staffers who deal with education, and a  number of US Senate offices as well

                It has been read and passed on via a number of mechanisms by some of the biggest names in educational policy

                it has been tweeted and retweeted in some cases by people with several multiple of my 3,000+ followers - in some cases those tweets included .@barackobama as part of it, which means those following that White House twitter feed will have seen it, numerous times - it's then up to them what happens, whether they read it and/or pass it on upward

                it has been read by several high level administration officials outside of the White House

                just because it is not how you would do it does not mean it is not effective

                the intent is simply this - to make sure WH and campaign know how unhappy teachers are;  what happens then is entirely up to them

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

                by teacherken on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 03:01:58 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  We get it that you are unhappy (0+ / 0-)

                  Just exactly what President Obama is supposed to do about it is unclear, but I'm sure it's somewhere in your rambling plea.

                  Unfortunately, President Obama doesn't have time to read DK, so contact him here: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 (Postcards, not letters! Please give your email address.) -- 202-456-1111 -- FAX: 202-456-2461

                  by My Left Behind on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 09:09:07 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  It is laughable (0+ / 0-)

                to say that teacherken has not focused on "one specific issue."

                Although you left the question open for the class: if rants on blogs are unproductive, how much less productive are rants about rants commenting on rants on DK?

        •  Most teachers are not as stupid (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          My Left Behind

          as you say based on your characterization of their "reality." None of the three teachers in my family are on your side of  the "reality" fence . .  

        •  Evil? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          psilocynic, worldlotus, shypuffadder

          Think you need to get a grip teacherken. Obama may be mistaken, but he's not an evil man.

          I lived in your little neck of the woods many years ago. Loved Greenbelt, its coop, and its radical chic. Think Eleanor Roosevelt school was a junior high in those days; somehow I think from something you've said that it is now a high school.

          I organized Maryland for McGovern during the primaries in 1972. In the general election, we did not even get to cast our votes at Spring Hill Lake Elementary on election day before we knew Nixon had soundly trounced my man George. McGovern one only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Just two jurisdictions, a feat we didn't see again until Reagan humiliated Mondale.

          This is a profoundly conservative country. I'm shocked at how conservative it is. It elected Richard Nixon not once but twice, and did the same thing for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. It drove a thoroughly decent and competent man out of the White House in order to install a boob named Reagan, who started the long 30-year economic decline of this country.

          The electoral choices we face are never between perfection and evil but between someone who's more aligned with all of my values and someone who's not. On that score, although I loathe Obama's education policies, I loathe even more all of the baggage that Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul bring to the table with them.

          This is going to be a very tight election. If you want to look back on another eight years of a GOP that will make Dubya look like a moderate, be my guest.

          •  nation is not "profoundly conservative" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            polling data shows clearly that majority of Americans support a number of progressive positions, and clearly reject what Catholic Church wants on contraception and what business and the wealthy want on taxes

            Eleanor Roosevelt is in its 35th year - as a high school

            "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 05:47:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Left Wing Democrats? (4+ / 0-)

        This is a matter of national security that needs to be dealt with soon! Standardized educational test prep factory school experience will turn this country into an intellectual dead zone. We need a fully educated citizenry in all aspects of human intelligence able to solve problems and take on the challenges of the future and sustain democracy for future generations. This citizenry will not be developed under the corporate education reform policies advocated by the current leadership at the DOE. www.dumpduncan.org.

        Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

        by semioticjim on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 10:11:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  "But they're worse" (11+ / 0-)

        as an argument is completely intellectually bankrupt.  It does nothing to inform a policy debate, it only uses fear of "the other" to lower the bar.  This is why I find partisan thinking to so often be corrosive to any productive policy debate.  We can do better than "not worse". We must.

        That's such a pathetically low standard to hold our own to.

        Advisors for President-Elect Barack Obama feared the new administration would face a coup if it prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a new report out this morning.

        by Kurt Sperry on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 10:17:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  we thought the same in NJ (7+ / 0-)

        so we returned out feckless Dems to power even though the leaderhsip aided and abetted Christie's attacks on out standard of living. We voted in the lesser of two evils to counter Christie. Our reward? The Dem leadership stripped Barbara Buono of the majority leadership ( the only high profile Dem to speak for us somehwat ) and State Sen Teresa Ruiz ( D-Adubato ) is spearheadig the drive to eliminate tenure and seniority, with Chrisite cheering her on. I am 49. i almost have enough time in to get out and set up a private counseling practice. i could work another ten years, but that will nothappen. it will not be allowed to happen, because the new rules WILL cause veteran staff to be fired. The job i do as a school social worker is so full of legal minefields you cannot possibly last w/o tenure protection. in the past week alone I have been threatened with 3 lawyer letters over special education rights. Just for doing my job. The Dems in NJ Statehouse want to claim their caucus doesn't support Sweeney, Ruiz, or Oliver, but they did nothing to stop them. They could have stripped them of their leadership positions. They did not. Alas, the state is being run by Norcross, Adubato, and Christie, a republican who is increasingly a pawn of Dem power brokers, who want to foist these anti-worker laws upon us while blaming the fat man in the Statehouse. So who do we vote for?

        •  Well, at DKos third party advocacy is HR-able (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ek hornbeck

          So all I can say is that it would be a good idea if within our political system we had a variety of parties and options, like in successful parliamentary democracies. In our current two party system, both parties have been bought off, which leave us with no options. The best reason we can be given to vote for a specific candidate is because otherwise the other guys might win. Motivational!

    •  I would hope he would also read (7+ / 0-)

      You are so smart…why did you become a teacher?’ by Carol Corbett Burris

      people here should read it and pass it on as well

      "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 10:02:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I shared it with several Members of Congress (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, Dallasdoc, denise b, ladyjames, burnt out

      one responded to me as follows:

      "I've been meeting with my teachers, Principles and Supt's. Today's writing sums it all up on what I'm hearing."

      "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 01:53:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hope this does not totally disappear (27+ / 0-)

    without some eyeballs

    somewhat later than I usually post, even on a Sunday

    by now a lot of diaries will be going up, causing things to scroll away more quickly

    the title does not inform what it is about, which may require one to click and see

    I wrote it because I had to

    whatever happens with it, so be it

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

    by teacherken on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 06:51:24 AM PST

  •  Excellent letter (26+ / 0-)

    i volunteered. I contributed. I took my children to the election night rally and wiped away tears at the enormity of our achievement.

    I am bitterly disappointed by this administration's educational policies. I choke when I have to explain to my children that the president they cheered that night in 2008 supports policies that undermine the future of public schools.

    Obama absolutely has my vote and my support for most of his policies, but due to his education policy and his inexplicable selection of Arne Duncan, he will not get one cent from my family or one minute of my volunteer time. This has become the "single issue" by which I will assess future democratic candidates, because it is a microcosm for our direction and our priorities. Are we a community? Or are our kids just a profit center for private business?

    •  something administration needs to consider (9+ / 0-)

      for all the Wall Street money they have gotten and hope to get by supporting the agenda of Democrats for Education Reform, they could have had just as much money and far more support by truly supporting teachers

      "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 07:24:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have taken the same position (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladyjames, JanL, Dallasdoc, burnt out

      I will show up on election day and pull the D lever but I will not give a penny or even a pennies worth of time to the Obama campaign. He is a huge failure on education policy........  Ken is correct in his assessment of how most teachers feel. I am very politically active and speak to teachers from across my State on a regular basis. Obama has lost the support of communities who believe that all children should have equal opportunities in education. Every child should receive the education his daughters receive. There is much to be done to make that happen. Obama and Duncan have taken education in this country in exactly the wrong direction.

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

      by BMarshall on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:30:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  For any of you who read this... (18+ / 0-)

    and decide not to contribute to President Obama's re-election or to sit on your hands in November 2012, consider a few things:

    1. A President Romney (or Santorum) will keep in place all the things you don't like about the current administration (whether it's an education policy or use of drones or whatever it is that you don't like). In addition, a GOP president will reinstitute all the things you loathe about Republicans.

    2. President Obama has had the most accomplished first term in office since that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Has his first term been perfect? Of course not. But he literally saved our country, just as FDR did 80 years ago.

    This standard of perfection some seek for Obama has grown well past the point of tedium.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:39:32 AM PST

    •  allow me to offer a relevant tweet (47+ / 0-)

      Obama admin better on #edu than any Repub, but so is my dog & she's been dead > 10 years

      "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 07:45:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  :) (15+ / 0-)

        Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act. - Al Gore

        by Burned on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:50:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Let's vote in more Republicans (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alba, worldlotus

        that will fix education.

        Won't it.

        If you want progress on education, vote out the Republican obstructionists.

        I want to say, "and quit whining," but one can't say that on DK, because the reply is always, "You're trying shut me up!  I'm not going to stop speaking out!"

        Sigh.

        Unfortunately, President Obama doesn't have time to read DK, so contact him here: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 (Postcards, not letters! Please give your email address.) -- 202-456-1111 -- FAX: 202-456-2461

        by My Left Behind on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:20:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're just repeating a tape loop. (0+ / 0-)

          Your post is completely non-responsive to the criticism.

          The problem here is not Republican Obstructionism.

          The problem here is that The Obama Administration is actively pursuing bad fucking policy.

          Fear is your only God.

          by JesseCW on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 08:34:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  When a diarist suggests withholding support (0+ / 0-)

            as a threat or a solution, that's a dealbreaker for me.

            "Mr. President, please explain why I, or any other teacher, should do any of that (contribute, volunteer, advocate) when you have so disappointed us?"
            That's an absurd, backwards approach, and does absolutely nothing to address "bad fucking policy."

            Pick a specific point, and organize a campaign to thereby inform the WH that we have the numbers to support the position.

            But of course that's not as much fun and ego-feeding as grandiloquent kvetching to get a lot of recs and tips.

            And the answer to the diarist's question can be found here.
            I've linked to that site before.  Sue me.

            Unfortunately, President Obama doesn't have time to read DK, so contact him here: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 (Postcards, not letters! Please give your email address.) -- 202-456-1111 -- FAX: 202-456-2461

            by My Left Behind on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 12:26:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  While blind loyalty and a servile pledging (0+ / 0-)

              of personal loyalty in some neo-feudal fashion has a really proven track record of pushing Presidents to reevaluate their positions?

              Right?

              You're dealing with a politician.  Politicians only give a shit what you think if you're willing to harm them politically if they wrong you.

              Fear is your only God.

              by JesseCW on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 02:17:46 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The time for that "harm" is in the primary (0+ / 0-)

                And we're not having a Democratic primary this year.
                Trying to harm the Democratic candidate politically by threatening to withhold your vote is like putting a gun to your own head and saying, "You're next!"

                But Karl Rove will tell you that's a great idea.  "Go ahead, Jesse, stand on your principles!"

                Unfortunately, President Obama doesn't have time to read DK, so contact him here: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 (Postcards, not letters! Please give your email address.) -- 202-456-1111 -- FAX: 202-456-2461

                by My Left Behind on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 03:25:46 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Not a standard of perfection (15+ / 0-)

      But a way to speak out when no one is listening and our only option is to continue voting for not nearly good enough.

      Our country has not been saved from anything.

      Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act. - Al Gore

      by Burned on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:57:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Anybody disappointed in Obama (10+ / 0-)

      Must remember that the Alternative is so much worse.

      Why has President Obama governed as he has?  Why did the Republicans in the Senate refuse to even consider so many of President Obama's appointments?  Why did the Republicans demand that every bill require a Super Majority to even merit a Vote?  Why did the SenateDemocrats sit and allow the Republicans to abuse the filibuster

      TEacherken, I appreciate so many of your diaries.  This one I completely disagree with!  Your students need your lessons! We need your voice on Daily Kos!  Americans do not need to sit out another election!

      Yes, President Obama has faced challenges unseen by any former President in his first term.  Republicans have challenged him by refusing any Compromise.  

      We must not reward them by sitting out this election!

      Impeach Grover Norquist! Defeat a Republican!

      by NM Ray on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 08:06:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  President Santorum (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BenderRodriguez, doroma, samtx, alba, Matt Z, JanL

      The mind reels.

    •  Continuing to advocate (19+ / 0-)

      For the lesser of two evils is exactly why we find ourselves in this death spiral in the first place.

      You are still left with evil...

      What are people in this country choosing in this clearly  broken "democratic" system...A slow painful miserable death by a thousand cuts or a quick death by execution.....pick your method..and thanks for playing along...but don't you dare blame anyone for the method for which they may prefer their death.

      The evil of two lessers...lesser of evils...it never ends.

      The Plutocratic States of America, the best government the top 1% and corporations can buy. We are the 99%-OWS.

      by emal on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 09:01:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabbausaf

      I plan to vote for Obama, but at the end of the day most of his 'accomplishments' are things that I either don't care about or actively oppose. Things I generally care about are civil liberties, reduction in militarism, transition to renewable energy, and putting our country's fiscal house in order, probably by major tax increases and spending cuts both. For most of these things, Obama has been close to useless.

      The argument might be 'well, we're making a little progress' but the massive scale of our problems and the rate at which these issues are bearing down on us make uselessness as bad as complicity. Slight progress is the same thing as slight regression. Either way we are running out of time.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:52:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama "literally saved our country.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gooderservice, Dallasdoc, priceman

      .... just as FDR did 80 years ago."

      Oh my

      "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." -- Noam Chomsky

      by ratmach on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:37:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh please, he's betrayed us on most other (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladyjames, priceman, emal

      fronts just as he's doing on education. He's a moderate Republican President and it's not what the country wanted, needed, or thought they were voting into office.

      End of story.

      "the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties." Jonathan Turley

      by Lucy2009 on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 06:13:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  he is a moderate (0+ / 0-)

        democrat.

        paul krugman dissproves the notion he is close to republican.

        •  I disagree..... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladyjames, priceman, emal

          He may be a "moderate democrat" in his heart of hearts, deep down underneath all of the malfeasance and corruption that he's engaged in over the last couple of years. But in reality, NO! Oh sure, sometimes he does some really great things. But most of the time, he's a total FAIL as a Democratic President for the size and scope of what was needed.

          We;ve gotten so used to loser Democrats like Clinton, Reid, and most of them for that matter, that the bar is very low. It's not just the GOP's fault that the country is a mess....  the Dems are right there to carry-on with shitty policies when the GOP are kicked-out of office.

          I wanna love Obama, I did for awhile, but I refuse to not see what is right in front of my face. Ain't gonna do it. I may still vote for him, but I don't trust him, like him, or believe in him at all anymore.  

          "the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties." Jonathan Turley

          by Lucy2009 on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 06:30:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  even if the economy (0+ / 0-)

            improves significantly and wall street bankers go jail, you will not change your current opinion?

            many teachers are likely to not change their opinion. same with you?

            •  Well, that would be real change, wouldn't it? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              priceman, emal

              I credit Obama with the good that has happened so far with the economy and I would credit him with any further good that occurred.

              However, what would actually change my opinion about him would be if WALL STREET BANKSER GO TO JAIL. If a Public Option is fought for and enacted so that there is real competition in the HCR bill. If he came clean on the cover-up that is the GOM mess..... and cleaned it up for reals! If he stops talking about BS like "clean coal", and starts emphasizing we are all goners if climate change isn't addressed and real energy alternatives aren't developed and put into broad use. If he handles the hell out of our public school education system. Etc, etc, etc, etc, etc..........................................

              No, a further turnaround in the economy ain't gonna do it for me. We all know it's built on a deck of cards. The bankers are still fucking around and gambling with the worlds economy. It's only a matter of time till it all comes tumbling down again, if things are changed for reals. He'll have to insist Congress fixes that before I change my opinion of him.

              With all that said. He's had unprecedented amounts of hate, craziness and blocking of most every good thing he's tried to do... by both the GOP and Blue Dogs. So I take that into account as well.

              "the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties." Jonathan Turley

              by Lucy2009 on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:33:47 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  here (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            worldlotus

            this graph was done by krugman.
            http://i578.photobucket.com/...

            notice that obama is similar on the liberal scale to LBJ and Harry truman and far apart from the any republicans.

            Obama is more liberal than even moderate republican eisenhower.

            Krugman knows what he is talking about.

            Here is the diary. http://www.dailykos.com/...

            •  Krugman has also made it very clear on (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              priceman, JesseCW

              numerous ocassions that the stimulus wasn't big enough, and that Obama doesn't fight hard enough REPEATEDLY on to many different issues. That the Big Banks are a catastrophe waiting to happen even after Dodd/Frank, etc, etc....

              So it's not all roses coming from Krugman. Maybe he thinks Obama is more liberal than I do....whatever! He does agree with me that the sheer estimation of effort needed to get us out of the shit we are in across the boards, was grossly underestimated by the Obama Admin.  This crap about Obama finally realized that if he fights he can win with the GOP. And that he just finally realized that extending the olive branch won't work is bullshit.  Obama is much smarter than I, and I figured that out right off the bat. End of story!

              "the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties." Jonathan Turley

              by Lucy2009 on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:37:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  well actually (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lucy2009

                Obama KNEW the republicans were illegitimate regarding sanity for the country and were unreasonable. He was never naive. He wrote about these "new right" republicans in one of his books that I read.

                He knew.

                The thing is, he wanted to be fufill his campaign promise of unity. he ran on bringing people together for better solutions. He felt it would look good if he was trying to be unifying and work with republicans. That is why he did not call out republicans by name often. There were flaws with his advisors too.

                That approach to governing in this extreme situation had side effects no doubt and did not help him/progressives in several instances.  But it was not because he was naive.    

                In the end, you are correct. This does not change the fact that he should have been better and we needed better. However, I feel his heart is in the right place. I feel he has done so much for progressives. His foreign policy has been outstanding. Never has so good much been done since LBJ and his congress ( I.E HCR which will pave the way to single player via Vermont. Yes Obama DOES want single payer in America. Otherwise, he would not have given the grant to Vermont that will build single payer).

                •  Neither you nor I have any damned idea where (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Lucy2009

                  his heart is.

                  We aren't Gods, and we aren't fit to judge other peoples hearts, for good or for ill.   This is true with our friends and family and coworkers, and it's true with Presidents we only know through the filters of various PR machines.

                  I cannot begin to understand anyone who truly believes they can read the heart of a person they do not know as anything other than a carefully marketed image.

                  What we can judge, for good or ill, is actions.

                  The Insurance Reform Bill is a huge obstacle to single payer.

                  No waiver has been issued for Vermont.  None.  This is, simply, a Big Lie that is being repeated on this site with no basis.  It's akin to when people were announcing GITMO "closed".

                  The Insurance Reform Bill prohibits the granting of waivers until 2017.  Obama has said he supports legislation giving Vermont an early waiver in 2014.

                  But President Obama has said he supports a great many things.

                  Fear is your only God.

                  by JesseCW on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 08:44:26 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  as I have said many times (0+ / 0-)

                    Vermont is doing single payer. Peter Shumlin confirmed it.

                    Go back to my HCR diary and read the link associated with Shumlin.

                    And again, in that link, Peter Shumlin confirms the grant he RECEIVED from the OBAMA administration that will help build single payer.

                    If obama did not want vermont single payer to happen, he would not have given the grant that Peter Shumlin says is sincerely helping his state's single payer.  

                    Vermont single payer IS happening. Obama has contributed towards it. PERIOD.

  •  Mr. President (Have Pity On The Working Man) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, joemac53

    "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." Dick Cheney –April 30, 2001

    by bladed edge on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:39:57 AM PST

  •  My brother, a dedicated special ed teacher, (18+ / 0-)

    finally retired in frustration due to NCLB. Felt that he could no longer do his job to help his kids. Too busy with the required paperwork. And the stress was literally keeping him up at night. He sleeps better now.

    We feel your pain and are disappointed by many things as well.

    Our oldest daughter attended a Quaker school in PA before we moved here. Excellent point about Sidwell.......

    "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." final words of R Holbrooke

    by UTvoter on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:45:39 AM PST

    •  which PA Quaker School? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, ladybug53

      Having attended Haverford College, I know a number of them pretty well

      "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 07:46:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  media providence friends (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53

        pretty close to swarthmore. a tiny school but wonderful. this was back in the 1990s

        she went there from third to eighth grade. one of the most memorable moments was her graduation. All the kids (only 17 of them!) spoke, the parents spoke, the teachers spoke, as the 'spirit moved them'. it was a terrific environment for her.

        i also loved the  school 'field day'' with the other friends schools. no one really competed, just participated.  they cheered everyone on! what a concept. lifting up everyone.

        "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." final words of R Holbrooke

        by UTvoter on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 09:27:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know it well (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          UTvoter, ladybug53

          although not a Quaker in those days, I lived in Media from around 1976 until moving to DC in 1982

          one of my sisters in law attended there for elementary, before going to Shipley for high school

          "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 09:37:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  My girlfriend was a teacher in New Orleans (10+ / 0-)

    She lost everything. And had to evacuate to Houston and then Miami.

    I'll ask her what she thinks.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 08:02:40 AM PST

  •  Source for performance of low poverty schools? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    We Won, doroma, worldlotus

    Your statistic for the performance of schools  with less than 10% poverty is a good one.  Can you point out any sources for breaking out the performance of schools in areas such as graduation rate, test scores, dropout rate, etc based on poverty or FRL rate.

    Thanks

    •  don't immediately have such data (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, JanL, ladybug53

      the statistic to which you refer was a result of analysis of PISA data.   While I am sure there is data relevant to what you ask, I do not have it in my files, nor do I currently have the time to research it.

      if you are on twitter, try posting a request.

      I would strongly suspect a correlation on graduation and percentage of poverty - and usually graduation rate is an inverse of drop out rate.  The problem on these statistics is that states calculate such things very differently.

      "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 08:23:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  NCLB rethink going on wrt waivers? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus

    10 states recently qualified for waivers. It seems as though with non-troubled schools being affected as the ratchet gets higher, there's been a relaxing attitude.

    You're right. Low poverty schools do fairly well with low poverty, non-disabled students. Is that due to :

    1. Teachers and staff
    2. Curriculum
    3. Peer effect that most of the peers are decently behaved and fairly educationally motivated
    4. Educated parents who can reinforce or if necessary supplement or provide the information received in the classroom

    Our system does a dreadful job of educating students who live in segregated poverty. And I'm not convinced we've really ever been successful at it on a large scale. In "ye good olde dayes", the small group that were bright went on and did well for themselves and the majority that weren't got jobs in factories and did well for themselves, too. They were able to use their factory wages to live a better lifestyle with their children and their children did a  little better.

    One of the things I like about NCLB is the subgroup breaking down. I think it's useful to know that New Trier is not succeeding with its special ed population. My home school district is not making AYP because of special ed either. That points out that special ed needs better techniques otherwise these students are going to be hurting for the rest of their lives.

    •  sorry, but have to disagree (10+ / 0-)

      issue with special ed kids not passing is that we are holding them to standards that are not relevant -  if standards are low enough that most special ed kids could pass, then they are too low to be meaningful measures of learning of regular and gifted kids.

      The idea of subgroups might be meaningful, except states found ways of gaming that by setting subgroups too high -  in some cases as large as 25.

      On the other hand, if a subgroup was a small as 5, one kid not testing automatically meant the school failed to make AYP even if EVERY OTHER KID IN THE SCHOOL GOT 100% ON THE TEST.

      "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 08:27:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Special ed is meant to remediate (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus

        And get the students able to compensate for their disabilities.

        My home district had a blind person when I was in school. Back then, I'm fairly sure there wasn't IEPs, but there was a plan. She was provided with a braille interpreter, braille tools, and tought braille and she graduated pretty high in her class. Her education wasn't compromised, she learned from the same curriculum as every other student. She just needed an interpretive layer.

        My niece was a special ed student until 10th grade due to ADD. She learned to focus using techniques taught to her during her pullout sessions. She also received additional tutoring to reinforce material presented in her classes. Again, her curriculum was not changed from the overall one.

        My understanding is that the developmentally disabled with low IQ are able to skip the testing entirely.

        25 doesn't seem unreasonable as a number for a threshhold. Like you said, if you make it too low, it can skew the scores way too much just by one student's scores.

        •  almost no one can skip the tests (10+ / 0-)

          CMI kids can take the alternative proficiency assessment in NJ, a task so onerous it is only used for kids who are profoundly retarded. i have had autistic kids take the test and get a zero score. I have had a psychotic kid forced to take the test while in residential placement; his essay was so disturbing we got a call from the state; we explained the kid is profoundly mentally ill and is basically locked up. no matter how much remediation you do, kids in LD classes, who often have IQ's in the mid70's will never pass the test. They take it and fail, before they graduate, they usually fail the HS test, then we wiave the retake, citing the kid's disability. But the scores have already been counted. By the way, the child's scores are always reported as part of the neighborhood school's, whether he is in an out of district placement for the disabled, another local public school receiving special services, or in jail. So kids you never even see can fail and under the rules these cretins advocate, can cause you to lose your job. It's a shame people on the outside really have no idea what the fuck they are talking about, but it wouldn't matter; their goals are not really about the kids, but about regulating the adults....so they can get them cheaper.

          •  so why isn't that a separate argument? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JanL, worldlotus

            The profoundly disturbed and disabled are being tested and counted against schools? You seldom hear that argument from teachers against NCLB? Usually it's just about narrowing the curriculum or teaching to the test and such.

            If that was brought up more often and instances cited, it might start to change minds.  At least you could get that part, with which most reasonable people can agree, changed.

            •  Most people are unaware of most ed policy (9+ / 0-)

              yes, the disabled are tested. If he can write his name, he is to be tested. The goal is to make the schools look bad; so you want everyone tested in order to help drag the scores down, thereby claiming public schools don't work and should be abolished. Forget all the bullshit, this is what it's about, and the Dems should not be supporting it.

              •  I don't think that is the goal (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                worldlotus

                I don't think the goal is to make the school look bad. I think it is to uncover the fact that we, as a society, are failing to properly educate a lot of students.

                The public has a conception that special education is meant to remediate (if possible) the disabliity (e.g. Braille or ASL help for blind or deaf students or tutoring and focusing help for students that are easily distracted or a little slow) OR to provide an appropriate education if the students is cognitively disabled. If a student has an IQ (and I don't like using the measure 'cause I don't trust the concept or measurement) of 60, then teaching him calculus is bunk. He should be taught what he can learn and what will be useful to him.

                Does anyone think schools are worse now than they were 50 years ago? All NCLB is doing is uncovering the truth  that our educational system doesn't work for vast swaths of students.  It doesn't work for an awful lot of poor students (especially those in generational, socio-economic segregated poverty), it doesn't work for a lot of the disabled, it doesn't work well for some non-English speaking students.

                •  Sorry, but I agree with leftangler (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ladyjames, JanL, vacantlook

                  the goal is to make public education look bad.  It helps them to bust unions and further privatize the education system in this country.

                  You wrote:

                  I think it is to uncover the fact that we, as a society, are failing to properly educate a lot of students.
                  and
                  All NCLB is doing is uncovering the truth  that our educational system doesn't work for vast swaths of students.
                  How do you know this is true and, if true, what makes you so certain that this is the fault of the public schools and teachers?

                  Stand Up! Keep Fighting! Paul Wellstone

                  by RuralLiberal on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:33:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I don't think it is the teachers' faults (0+ / 0-)

                    That's why I said society, not the teachers.

                    How do I know it is true? Well if I look at the rate of employment of Chicago's special ed students it is quite low.

                    If I look at the dropout rate of Chicago's students serving the poorest students, it is quite high.

                    The test scores are abysmal.

                    There is a stubborn, huge gap between poor and non-poor students. This has some to do with higher rates of special education students due to lead paint; due to higher levels of environmental pollution; due to malnourishment and low levels of prenatal care; and probably other causes besides.
                    This also has to do with other problems related to poverty like: truancy; violence and threats of violence; mobility; children in foster care; homelessness and again, others.

                    Eventually the 6th grade teacher is faced with a class of 30; 3 of which are at grade level; and 27 of which run the gamut from 3rd to 5th grade level. There is 1 that won't shut up and 1 that has outbursts whenever challenged to learn. There is probably at least one bully. The teacher will try to teach all of these students with varying levels of success. It is likely the 3 who were at grade level won't succeed as well as they would have if they had been in a class that was all at grade level.

                    So maybe the answer is to stop age grouping the students and start ability grouping them? Put the 3 sixth grade level students in a class with 7th and 8th graders who are at 6th grade level. Put the 6th graders at 3rd grade level in with other students at that grade level. But now if you have a bully, you'll have even more problems when the bully is 5 years older and 30 lbs heavier than the other students.

                •  NCLB is much much worse than you think (4+ / 0-)
                  "All NCLB is doing is uncovering the truth  that our educational system doesn't work for vast swaths of students"
                  This is simply not the case.

                  NCLB has undermined and is undermining public education.  The stooges of late stage capitalism (e.g. The Manhattan Institute, Fordham folks, Michelle Rhee apologists, etc.) are using this manufactured instability to try and capture revenue streams by privatizing education.

                  Those who applaud this are, and I say this reluctantly, "useful idiots."  

                  The Koch Bros. are not your friends.  And organized labor (teachers' unions) are not your enemy.

                  There are Democrats - including Obama and Duncan - that seriously need to buy a clue.

                  For what is the crime of the robbing of a bank compared to the crime of the founding of a bank? - Brecht

                  by Joe Hill PDX on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 03:14:37 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  purpose of education (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    worldlotus

                    You know what I want for the students in my area that are from families of generational and segregated poverty to receive from the educational system?

                    A ticket to at least the lower middle class. I want them to be capable of doing college level work whether they go or not. I want them to be literate, numerate, and to have the ability to learn new things. I want them able to evaluate sources of information as to reliability. I want them able to think critically. I want them all to graduate.

                    I want them to have a plan for their future. If they want to work in the trades, I'd like for them to leave high school with an apprenticeship. If they want to enter the military, I want them  capable of doing that. If they want to go to college, I want them to not have to take remedial classes.

                    I realize, this isn't all about the school. The school has its role to play, but so do other parts of society.

                    •  those things are being done well in many schools (0+ / 0-)

                      right now. we have a vocational track in NJ that is excellent.We have madehuge strides inclsoing the achievement gap. We have people moving here to take advantage of special education, which we do better than most states ( we provide an entire child study team with a social worker, psychologist, and learning consultant, and each does case management; in other states a school psychologist performs all these functions and a teacher acts as case manager, a role they are not even the least bit trained for, and one for which they have no time to do adequately )

                      •  I forgot to add... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        NWTerriD

                        our thanks for this is a governor who has mostly successfully ( with Dem leadership ) pinned the state's budget crisis on teachers and cut their pay and standard of living. Now he is going after job security and seniority, so that they can man the schools with TFA  recruits who have no serious training. I cannot in good conscience advise anyone to go into teaching. i'd stick to the health fields, You can make more cleaning teeth or taking x-rays with a short course of study at a county college. And no one will call you an overpaid leech.

        •  Your understanding is wrong. No skipping the tests (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladyjames, JanL, vacantlook

          at least under the rules in my state.
          Even moderately intellectually disabled children are among those required to take the test, not just mildly disabled.
          Yes, they can learn, but those children are never going to be able to master the regular curriculum and perform on grade level to their peer. Yet if they don't "pass" the test, your school fails.
          This is so wrong.
          And quite stressful for these children.
          And it is NOT THE FAULT OF THE TEACHER. The teacher is not doing a poor job.
          That is what teachers are mad about. This kind of idiocy is continued under Obama.

  •  what I really wish (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, Matt Z, Abelia

    is that you sit down with the president and tell him all this. I think he is a good guy at heart. He is the type of guy to listen. I hope he listens to you.

  •  All Teachers and Parents should read this (6+ / 0-)

    I could have written this piece if I could write as well as you, however I am a physics and math teacher. Being classically educated is not our strength. I agree with everything you wrote including the over emphasis on STEM.

  •  Don't give up (8+ / 0-)

    I understand your frustration.  The harder we try, the more roadblocks they throw up.  Tennessee was one of the two states who won the "race to the top" money, and I can assure you it hasn't done us any good.  Our small district will lose seven SPED teacher positions next year, with the end of the ARRA funds.  Most of the money we received from RTTT went to our teacher evaluation system, which has been equal parts disaster and farce.

    Don't give up.  If we continue to fight for public education, we might not win.  We probably won't make the progress we'd like to see.  It may seem to be wasted effort.

    If we quit fighting for the education system we know is best, we will surely lose, and by 2020 public education will be a thing of the past.  As frustrated as we are, this isn't about us.  It's about the students, the future citizens of the United States of America.  We owe it to them to keep trying, not to ourselves.  Regardless of the outcome, the established veteran teachers will be fine.  It's the students who will suffer the most from an educational system that grows increasingly diluted and privatized.

    •  Don't quit - Don't be used (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladyjames

      I have for years held my nose and voted for the lesser evil.  In 2008, I was engaged, I voted for Obama, contributed to him and worked for him. Now, I feel that all teachers like me who did that were suckered. The bait - Linda Hammond Darling, the switch - Arne Duncan. No money from teachers unions should go to support any candidates who support these horrible education policies: Value added, RTTT, Charter Schools, Standardized Testing, Common Core Standards, Political take over of schools from local communities, etc.

      Please stop using my dues money to support anyone who supports these policies just because they are perceived to be the lesser of evils. It is still evil!

  •  Tipped and recommended! (9+ / 0-)

    Heartfelt and  very well written. Is there a way to get this to the WH? The twitterer and twitteries, where are ya? These are the types of things he needs to hear.
    I'll be honest Teach, had  you written this two weeks ago before the whole contraceptive/bishop brouhaha, I would have been of those who said "lesser of two evils, single issue vs big picture blabla.." I literally did not think I had a line in the sand. I has disagreements but I thought, short of him shooting a puppy, nothing would waiver my commitment. I did not have a "single issue"...that I knew of.
    Then the celibate male "female hating" club of the GOP and Catholic bishops started playing russian roulette with my vagina ( sorry, sorry) and it looked like Obama might "cave". I found myself absolutely incapable of ever defending him had he caputaled. The issue struck too close to home. He ultimately listened to his female advisers but what if he hadnt?
    I am chastened. I feel like I should apologize to the lgbt people I told to wait and see, to immigration advocates I advised to hold off, to civil liberties groups to turn a blind eye etc.
    Good luck to them and good luck to you Teach. I cant say that I know enough about whats going on in the education front but I hope he changes course enough for you to feel comfortable in your position and maybe support him again. Peace.

    •  the wh twitter account will be aware (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, ladybug53, JanL

      since a number of retweets have included @barackobama

      the next time I tweet it I will put in .@barackobama so all of his followers also get it

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

      by teacherken on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 09:07:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As a big Obama supporter (11+ / 0-)

    and someone who's going to be working hard for his reelection, thanks for this.  In my opinion, Obama has been a much better leader than many here give him credit for... But that doesn't change the fact that he has been pretty poor on two very important fronts: the war on drugs, where you could argue his DOJ has been worse than Bush's, and eduction, where there are some definite improvements over Bush but we still have the same basic system.  My hope has always been that, with other things to focus on (economy/finance, health care) in his first term, he will push for more meaningful reform in his second... As you say, his rhetoric on the subject is often quite good, but he obviously needs the policies to match.  But it's also possible, of course, that he leaves office without having accomplished anything significant on the education front, and that would be a huge missed opportunity... Hopefully we can put some pressure on the WH, maybe during the campaign or maybe after reelection, for there to be real change.

    •  Oh, he's accomplished a great deal of (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, 0wn, ladyjames, happymisanthropy

      significance on the education front, only, it's not the kind of significance actually needed.

    •  The way to put pressure on the WH is to contact (0+ / 0-)

      the WH regarding a specific issue.
      The diarist seems to believe that by blogging on a liberal web site he is engaging in political activism of some sort, or "holding Obama's feet to the fire."
      I don't think it works that way.

      Unfortunately, President Obama doesn't have time to read DK, so contact him here: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 (Postcards, not letters! Please give your email address.) -- 202-456-1111 -- FAX: 202-456-2461

      by My Left Behind on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 10:05:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for expressing our frustration so well (12+ / 0-)

    So many of us teachers are frustrated with the current state of education in the country, and this administration's inability or unwillingness to listen to us. We feel we have been under attack, and they haven't defended us.

    Visit my occasional dailykos diaries on "Teaching in Texas."

    by evanindallas on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 08:59:43 AM PST

  •  How do people living in poverty feel about schools (0+ / 0-)

    I mean, that may be part of where Obama and Duncan are coming from. The Chicago public school system with which they are both acquainted does a very poor job of educating students who arise from generational and socio-economic segregation. The drop out rate is atrocious. The scores are hideous.

    So many parents radically dislike their local neighborhood school that some of these schools take in less than 50% of the eligible students in their intake area. Charter schools seem to be popular with many of these same parents. Oh not as popular as SE schools or magnets but still considered desperately better than the neighborhood school.

    The neighborhood schools in Chicago can be great places to learn or they can be challenging environments with gangs, fights, and classroom disruptions.

    Some charters have better scores than the neighborhood schools, like the Nobel group, and others on the surface don't seem to do a whole lot better like Urban Prep, yet the parents who choose these schools love them for the discipline and order that these schools maintain.

    And yet some parents of poverty like their neighborhood schools, like the ones who recently occupied Piccolo. So it's not that all poor parents prefer charters.

    •  Several years ago I had an 8th grade student (13+ / 0-)

      who started the year whose reading level was grade equivalent of 2.6 (2nd grade, 6th month).  This was not a student with a learning disability, either.  I was determined to improve this student's reading.  By April, I had him up to grade equivalent 5.3 (5th grade, 3rd month) - a stunning accomplishment for him.  I was so proud of his progress!

      What happened?  His mom came in to school, met with the principal, the superintendent, and me.  She tore me to shreds!  Her complaint was that I expected too much of her son.  The student complained that it was too much work, and she didn't want him upset.  She had him transferred to a different program.  I wasn't the first teacher this had happened to over the years.

      Please don't make it sound like all parents are clamoring for high expectations.  In places where poverty and societal dysfunction are the norm, things are a bit different.  Not all parents are supportive of their schools and teachers.

      If this student had been in a charter school (fat chance, given his behavior and academic performance!), the charter would have had the same experience.

      Sorry if I sound cynical.

      Stand Up! Keep Fighting! Paul Wellstone

      by RuralLiberal on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 09:59:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  NCLB came out years ago (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus

    But you're just complaining about it because Obama is president. Why didn't you nip it in the bud when it was first instituted? Once again shit has been going on long before the guy took office but you're castigating him because he hasn't changed and/or stopped it. You know what you all will have to do...hold your noses.

  •  I was a Hillary supporter. (5+ / 0-)

    I swore I wouldn't vote for Obama. But on election day I went to the polls and voted for who I thought was the best choice. This year I'll do the same. I believe teachers will too.

    •  if they vote (13+ / 0-)

      and I know far too many who are saying they are so angry/hurt/disappointed that they will not vote, at least not for President.

      I do not think the administration / campaign fully understand the depths of teacher feelings, which is why I wrote this piece.

      "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 09:46:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm Sure That There Are Plenty Of White Teachers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z, worldlotus

        who may not vote for Obama, but big deal. Most White people, especially most White Males, will be voting RepubliKlan - as per usual. I betcha 90% of Black teachers will vote Obama, as will an overwhelming majority of other non-White teachers. Also.

        After all, we have watched for over 40 years while White People, esp White males, have elected some of the most deplorable politicians in the history of the USA - from Nixon, to Reagan, to Da Bushes, to the TeaBigots who now occupy Congress. Compared to any of these sociopaths, Obama is perfect.

        Only White people, esp White Males, have the luxury of not voting for the lesser of two evils. For the rest of us, the stakes are too high. Actually, the stakes are also too high for White people - see Wisconsin, 2010 - but it apparently takes White people a little longer to understand this simple reality - about 40 years longer.

        Let's not forget that the primary sponsor NCLB was Ted Kennedy, and he sold out worked relentlessly with G.W. Bush to get it pass. It was the law of the land for over 3 years before Obama became Senator and more than 7 years before he became POTUS. But yea, all that is wrong with NCLB is Obama's fault.

        Obama Derangement Syndrome knows no bounds...

        I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party.

        by OnlyWords on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:54:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  As a teacher, I will be voting for Obama (6+ / 0-)

      this Fall, as will the many, many other teachers whom I know. While I am in Higher Ed., not all of my friends are. Yet I don't know anyone who intends to vote otherwise. Even though there is a unanimous disapproval of RTTT.

      I would hate to, as a teacher, give the children whom I educate a Republican-run Government which wants to completely abolish the public school system, take away access to birth control and abortions for teen girls, take away health care access for children, and all manner of other social evils that exceed the current situation of teaching to the test.

      To put education before the children we educate is, frankly, heinous. An argument can be made that these children are only as good as their education, however, I'm most concerned with their basic physical needs, first and foremost. Under Republican governance, too many social programs will be withdrawn to meet children's needs. This is something one could go on and on again.

      Hopefully my point has been made clearly, however.

      You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

      by mahakali overdrive on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:19:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks again Teacherken.... (7+ / 0-)

    for another thoughtful response to the realities all public school teachers face today. Here in New York, our Democratic governor just finished shoving a new  teacher evaluation plan down the throat of every district in our state. The new plan is a product of shallow thinking which links teacher effectiveness in large part to the state’s standardized tests. These tests aren’t even designed to measure individual student’s growth. For those of us who have been around a while, we know the New York State Education Department is probably the most dysfunctional state agency in New York.  Knowing that they have been charged to develop and implement this plan, makes many of us despair for the future of our schools. Of course, the raison d'etre for the new evaluations is none other than Mr. Obama’s Race to the Top.
        As a member of my local Democratic committee, I refused to sign Mr. Obama’s re-election primary petition, and urged others not to sign. This is a far cry from four years ago when I gave my time and money for Mr. Obama. I even had an election night party that included many teachers and even a few republicans. I even wasted some of my best champagne when the results were announced.
    As teachers we have to realize this is a political fight. With Governor Cuomo, many teachers tried to dissuade his actions with thoughtful arguments. What teachers didn’t realize was Mario’s son was playing hardball politics and he stacked the deck against them. Just last month I got an email from our county chair urging local democrats to join the Governor in taking on the forces that are blocking his “reform” efforts. I wondered how many other teachers received that email and realized that they were  now the “enemy”.  So be it.
    Your right Teacherken, there is anger in every faculty room. The only way we will be able to project this anger is at the ballot box by withholding our vote from those who seek to denigrate our profession and diminish our schools to testing gulags. Our students deserve better.

  •  obama (4+ / 0-)

    made it clear you were not going to agree with all the time.

    education was one of them.

    you need to talk to obama himself.  Arne duncan is one of those types who is " I know everything, you don't know anything".   Arne duncan is obviously like talking to a wall.

  •  Connecticut's governor Dannel Malloy (4+ / 0-)

    has been emboldened by the Obama administration, and is echoing talking points that tenure has to be earned.

    Paul Vallas (a.k.a. The New Orleans "savior") is our new local 'interim' superintendent. He wants to do what he did in NOLO - create wall to wall charter schools.

    It's starting to steamroll all over the country- and they have no idea what they're doing to the public school system.

    Thank you, whoever you are, for buying me a lifetime subscription. I am not worthy! Sincerely,

    by Sprinkles on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 10:02:20 AM PST

  •  Your diary is very short (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    My Left Behind, worldlotus

    on links to supporting evidence. Where can I read about how, specifically, the policies are failing in the way you specify? How are the policies worse than the status quo, which was obviously failing?

    You never trust a millionaire/Quoting the sermon on the mount/I used to think I was not like them/But I'm beginning to have my doubts -- The Arcade Fire

    by tomjones on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 10:07:17 AM PST

  •  I find it hard to believe that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mahakali overdrive, worldlotus

    Teachers are going to up and leave the classroom en masse.

    Here's my main concern though: What's the solution to the problem?  You can talk all you want, but unless you have a better idea on how to improve a system that is slow to improve/catch up, I'm not sure I understand what your point is.

    •  see Diane Ravitch (7+ / 0-)

      firstly, we have made progress especially in NJ. One thing that works is a strong curriculum. One that is watered down to teach to a test won't cut it. We must feed the hungry kids a breakfast; if you do nothing more than that, test scores go up. We could give them schools that aren't filled with roaches and rats, that don't have leaky roofs and mold. Schools that have modern conveniences like AC and proper heat. running toilets with water and toilet paper. We must then do the hard work of reducing the effects of poverty. About 60% of a kid's school performance has to do with his envirnoment OUTSIDE of school. We can make teaching a high paying profession that is difficult to enter and has both job security and respect. And is unionized. That's the way it is in the developed countries....you don't have TFA hacks looking ofr a temp job between law and med school who have no training whatever; you don't have alternate teacher certification. You have bright people competing for entrance into university level TEACHER training. We are doing NONE of these things. And the "reforms' proposed will leave us with  fewer experienced teachers with even less training.

      •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus

        I certainly agree with what you've written, especially the part of fixing up and cleaning up the schools, and reducing the the effects of poverty.  This:

        We must feed the hungry kids a breakfast; if you do nothing more than that, test scores go up.
        I totally believe to be true BUT good luck.  My experience with this has to do with church programs at my old home church.  When you can't get a "congregation?" (question mark purposely used for emphasis) to feed inner city kids breakfast ONE day a week (Sunday of all days).  Then I doubt it's going to fly.  Also tried feeding the kids one evening a week a decent dinner with ALL food donated, cooks volunteering (yeah right we only had a handful if that), and teachers doing the supervising.  That lasted a little more than a month because, again, the "congregation" wouldn't help in any way shape or form.  It's sad to see that this is what this country has become.  
      •  leftangler, totally agree-all are a priority- (0+ / 0-)

        with a focus on this:

        We can make teaching a high paying profession that is difficult to enter and has both job security and respect. And is unionized. That's the way it is in the developed countries....you don't have TFA hacks looking ofr a temp job between law and med school who have no training whatever; you don't have alternate teacher certification. You have bright people competing for entrance into university level TEACHER training. We are doing NONE of these things. And the "reforms' proposed will leave us with  fewer experienced teachers with even less training
        .
    •  teachers ARE leaving en masse (8+ / 0-)

      50% quit in the first 5 years. How many physicians quit inthe first 5 years? Lawyers? Engineers? Cops? Barbers? Does any other single group of licensed workers have such a high turnover? And retirements are skyrocketing too.

      •  Bingo. I was lucky, I was able to move from (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladyjames

        teaching high school into a tribal college; I am still teaching, but not in the public school system.

        NCLB wasn't even in full gear at that point, and it was already stifling.

      •  I'm assuming you're using the 2006 NEA study... (0+ / 0-)

        ...written about here?

        If you are, that's pretty old no? What is the CURRENT situation?

        Secondly, according to a quick Google Search, I found this from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) with regards to Mobility for the 2007-08 school year [SOURCE]:

        Public School Teachers:
        Of the 3,380,300 public school teachers teaching, 8% left the profession during the following year.

        Private School Teachers:
        Of the 487,300 private school teachers teaching, 13% left the profession during the following year.

        Looks to me like as a percentage of the workforce, public school teachers are staying on their job at a higher rate than private school teachers.

        By the way I should probably note that my father taught in a public school system for nearly 40 years (High School). He currently works part-time at a private college.

  •  Thank you teacherken (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, JanL, Joe Hill PDX

    for eloquently you have expressed what, I also believe, so many of us feel.  It is words such as these that can bring about a shift in consciousness, hopefully bringing urgent attention to a deteriorating public system.  As you noted, our institutions are just as good as any other in the world when all of the societal factors are accounted for.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. - Gandhi

  •  Thanks again for (6+ / 0-)

    saying it so well, making it so clear. I'm in my 31st year as an elementary school teacher.  NCLB was bad enough, but what I've seen happen to our public school system in the past three years absolutely breaks my heart.  

    I love teaching, but I've had just about enough garbage thrown at me lately. Yes, many teachers are leaving. Many teachers will not vote for this President again. Nobody with a brain should be surprised.

  •  President not listening on teachers, health care.. (5+ / 0-)

    Teachers and teacher's unions are part of the "professional left" whom Obama has attacked since gaining office with their votes, money and hard work on his behalf because he advocated progressive policies.

    Education is a good example of the administration attacking its base and its own stated principles, at least those advocated during the 2008 election.

    As diary notes, the actions have been much the opposite in what could charitably be called a slightly less anti-teacher, anti-public education policy than Bush II.

    •  "Obama trails trio from GOP" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RUSiriusA, Lucy2009

      The above phrase is the headline on today's Des Moines Register. A new Iowa Poll shows that Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney would all beat Barak Obama. First I said "Well, it is a good thing that the election is still a long time away." Then I said "Yikes!" it is not all that far away.

      To Obama, I can only say, in the vernacular of the time and place where I was raised, "It is time to get on the stick!"

      •  Obama to blame"professional left" for 2012 defeat. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladyjames, Joe Hill PDX, Lucy2009

        We see the Obama campaign theme here on DKOS quite often how it is "professional lefts" fault that Obama might lose the 2012 election for holding Obama accountable for his failed promises and failed policies.

        Obama bailed out on so many key 2008 campaign promises from health care reform with public option to killing Bush tax cuts to restoring habeas corpus to no backroom deals with drug lobbyists and, specific to this diary, support for public education.

        As we see from teachers and from Obama's very GOP policies like $4B for "Race to the Bottom", Obama's version of Bush's  "No Child With a Dome), a gimmicky waste of scarce education dollars that hurts public education, kids and teachers, Obama and Duncan have been bad for public education.

        The only "stick" Obama plans to "get on" is his continued beating on teachers and unions in his misbegotten hope of getting right wing GOP votes at the expense of teachers and kids.

        •  not happening (0+ / 0-)

          Obama's approval has hit the magic 50 already and will keep going up as the economy keeps improving :)

          •  What's happening in Iowa .... (0+ / 0-)

            In Iowa, many young people have left Obama and are supporting Paul. I know that Paul won't be the nominee so what this probably means is that the younger folk will not be as engaged in this election as in the previous one, at least here in Iowa, where they were out in force for Obama in 2008.

            What I am saying is that it might be necessary for Obama to win every state he possibly can in the next election, and I think that is never wise to take anything for granted.

      •  Yeah, that's pretty clearly an outlier poll (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL

        Every national poll for a while has had Obama ahead, and so have many state polls.

        Not saying Obama should be overconfident, but it's not accurate to treat that poll like it's the norm.  

      •  that is a right wing (0+ / 0-)

        had poll.

        Obama is leading in every poll against GOP.

        Obama's approval rating has hit 50%.

  •  TeacherKen... (6+ / 0-)

    As a parent who have and has had children thru both public and religious schools across the nation...

    Texas schools are the pits.  This is where NCLB was first tested.  It started 2 yrs after I graduated from HS when Ross Perot was head of the Texas State School Board.  The teachers hated it and still do.  This is where teaching to the test, instead of logical reasoning and deduction dropped by the way side, first started happening. Also the extracurricular activities also quit happening (except football).  Even VOE (Vocational Occupation Education - half day school/half day at a job like electrician, plumber, butcher, etc) was dropped.  

    The second worst is the Jewish private schools in NJ.  My kids are special needs.  They don't like that.  And they do everything to kick them out to the public schools.  

    Seattle public schools for the most part are great schools.  My younger ones are in a K-8 with Native American and exploratory learning.  This school cheers diversity and inclusiveness.  My next one up is at a HS that is run like a college - even the kids who have expertise in certain things (like a native language German) can also teach a class.  And they are all doing very well.

    I wish we did have more help and less of "teaching to the test" that I see in other schools.  NCLB has nearly crippled the abilities for our kids to compete for higher education and world class jobs.  Even for those who don't want to go to college, it has made getting into a good profession nearly impossible.

    Thank you for being a good and caring teacher.  I hope they will read and listen to your letter.

    A concerned parent,
    DBA

    Silence = Consent. Don't be silent any longer

    by doingbusinessas on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:34:35 AM PST

  •  Teachers are not THE problem! (7+ / 0-)

    That the Obama administration continues to reinforce that they are is disgusting.  It displays either an appalling ignorance of reality or cynical politics at its lowest.  NCLB was a flawed, disgusting piece of crap when it was foisted on this country.  It was numbers based and if you injected any sense of factors outside the classroom it was clear the purpose was to make, to label, public schools as failures.  Critics were assailed, especially the teachers, and while I won’t relive it here suffice it to say they were right.

    Obama remains a captive to the same assailants that existed then and who continue to this day.  THE goal of NCLB was and is to undermine public education.  The test is the test, and what the kids actually learn, how well they learn to think, or whether they are instilled with a desire to learn throughout life do not matter.  The test matters, and its structure, mathematically, is such that the escalating targets and social realities will cause virtually all schools to be labeled failing at some point.  That is THE problem and that was the goal.

    My state recently received its waiver from certain onerous aspects of NCLB.  In statements conveying his support for such waivers Obama acknowledged some “shortcomings” in the assessments of how schools performed.  So he and his Department of Education are only now figuring that out?  In his 4th year as president?

    Others have referenced the studies that demonstrate that poverty is (and always was) the most direct predictor for academic achievement.  6 decades of experience and studies in this country have shown the difference that addressing the social factors of poverty can make.  But since, oh, 1980 or so, rather than acknowledging this and investing in programs to deal with it, our political leaders opted to blame the teachers.  That continues today.  And if you have been in public education for any period since 1980 then you are aware of the decline in respect for teachers in the classroom, as professionals, and as persons.  And Obama continues to contribute to this destruction every day Arne Duncan or his Department of Education speak to this issue.

    Obama is not going to do anything about education to improve it because he refuses to address the real underlying social and economic problems outside of the classroom, in their home, that undermine achievement.  And funding, well, we can't talk about that. Obama is doing exactly what he wants to do, namely creating an identity for the problem to support his desired fix: blame teachers and the system and demand they be fixed.  He will pay lip service to the outside issues but dismiss their significance and argue that settling for less from our teachers or refusing to change the system because poverty exists is not acceptable. Of course, no one has ever argued against this straw man.  The fact remains that poverty is the single biggest predictor of academic achievement, and that as poverty has been growing in this country Obama is not talking about it or, God forbid, proposing anything to deal with it.  And under NCLB more and more schools, teachers and administrators will be labeled failures.

    So here we are.  Obama sucks less.  Be afraid of the other guy.  That is true.  But it is not motivating.  And if you are a teacher, or a union member, or a civil rights advocate, or a whistleblower advocate, someone who believes war crimes should be punished or at least investigated, or that financial crimes should be investigated and punished, or who want more transparency in government, or who don’t believe the president can unilaterally order Americans killed, or a believer in a whole host of other non-trivial issues, how motivated for Obama should you be?  

  •  Isn't education one of the... (6+ / 0-)

    important planks of the democratic party?  WTF  Look my kids are grown and I have no grandkids nor will I ever have any BUT education has been at the top of my important list for as long as I can remember.  To all the teachers posting here I have a question for you, please?  Does teaching to the test work??  I ask because I've had a problem with this since NCLB.  I myself probably would have not done well and I graduated with a 3+ grade point.  BUT I tend to learn better by discussion and sharing ideas, sometimes by "hands on".  I can't tell you how much I've learned since I joined this community, mostly because of the "sharing" and "discussing".  Thanks to all you teachers out there that truely do care.

    •  Listening to my sister... (4+ / 0-)

      who is a elementary school teacher... No it doesn't, especially in Texas. your always behind the 8-ball.  And trying to instill advanced skills into the disadvantaged kids always puts you in a bad light to the school district - a trouble maker, etc..  

      Those national tests we took as kids were supposed to be used to find out where your weakness were so the teacher could find ways to help you.  Now they are used to beat teachers over the head.

      Silence = Consent. Don't be silent any longer

      by doingbusinessas on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:08:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Define "the best" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL

      Do you mean the top of the class?

      Here, for me, as an educator, this is a problem of class size. With smaller class sizes, I can teach to ALL levels equally. That's one of my greatest arguments for keeping smaller class sizes. I teach for love more than money: I don't make enough to even remotely cover my expenses and am lucky to also be married to another teacher who can. Because of this freedom, a pretty unusual and inverse freedom, I have chosen for the past two years to work with "at risk" college freshman (after previously working with 300-400 levels). Most of my students now are 1st gen, ELL/MLL, have learning disabilities, or their NCLB public schools inadequately prepared them for college. It can be a challenge. So it depends.

      It's a balance and a personal ethical choice for every teacher whom I've ever spoken with. That must be true for lower ed teachers as well.

      You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

      by mahakali overdrive on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:18:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, teaching to the test does not work! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladyjames, vacantlook, worldlotus

      Since it's become what's demanded of us, teachers do it.  

      Years ago, we were concerned with teaching kids to be well-rounded individuals with critical thinking skills.  Not anymore!

      The focus is on the very specific skills required to score decently on the test.

      It's really sad, and it makes it difficult to put joy into learning.

      Stand Up! Keep Fighting! Paul Wellstone

      by RuralLiberal on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:02:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  RuralLiberal: (0+ / 0-)

        Thanks for the response.  It was the critical thinking skills that I was most concerned about.  Not to mention I wonder how much kids retain when they are basically just learning to take a test?  I never did like that idea.

  •  Two biggest teaching unions have endorsed Obama (5+ / 0-)

    both of them.

    I know there is some unhappiness with teachers over Obama, but the American Federation of Teachers clearly expresses why they endorsed Obama despite their educational/pedagogical grievances (which are, in my view, rightful):

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    The NEA has also endorsed President Obama for Fall:

    http://www.nea.org/...

    Do we need educational reform? Absolutely. The question is, of course, how do we get that. Teachers' unions are quite willing right now to stand by the President while also pushing for reform. That's a smart tactic considering the alternatives.

    CHICAGO - July 04, 2011 - The National Education Association’s highest governing body has voted to approve the recommendation of President Barack Obama for re-election in 2012.  

    “President Barack Obama shares our vision for a stronger America,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of NEA.  “He has never wavered from talking about the importance of education or his dedication to a vibrant middle class

    cont...

    These are big teachers unions.

    Expect to see the California Faculty Association follow suit, as well as various UC Unions (they're a bit more scattered).

    You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

    by mahakali overdrive on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:12:37 PM PST

    •  Sadly- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladyjames, Joe Hill PDX

      The unions are trying to keep their place at the table with their endorsements.  Talk to individual teachers and you will find that most feel abandoned by their national unions. "Sold Out" is what you will hear. I can't help but think if this were a republican president, the gloves would have come off a long time ago.

      •  I am a teacher (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zenox, worldlotus

        I am also surrounded by teachers. I'm in Higher Ed but I regularly work with folks who teach Education and know so many teachers. Education has become my world. Moreover, education reform is probably one of my true hot-button issues (along with war, anticapitalism, ecology, social justice, you know... all that stuff). I know what conversations are going on. You're right the the gloves would have come off a long time ago with a Republican. And that's not something anyone wants to see.

        And that is why teachers unions have, and will continue, to back Obama while also trying to convince him to reform his policies. Who wouldn't want a place at the table for that? Teachers are smart people. We think about the bigger issues. We cannot be "single-issue voters" on educational reform because it would hurt students' lives, period (posted more about this upthread).

        You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

        by mahakali overdrive on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:31:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  their thinking is flawed, as Diane Ravitch said: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, ladyjames

        they are not AT the table, but ON the table - they are on the menu

        "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 01:56:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  In credibly well written Ken and dead on. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zenox, Joe Hill PDX, ladyjames, Lucy2009
  •  Left the teaching profession (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladyjames

    for all the reasons you posited. Have NEVER met a teacher who thought NCLB was a workable solution. And as a SPED teacher, the public needs to know that these students take the test at their grade level, with very few modifications. And of course they fail the test because their learning disabilities are such that they are say, reading at perhaps two or three levels below that grade level. And yes that is calculated into the AYP which then brings down the AYP for the school. This is/was/will continue to be a travesty under NCLB. As for the curriculum, we teachers have been through so many continuing education courses to help the students learn more effectively... that the curriculum is now a patchwork of new theories that are not working. As for Duncan and his support for charter schools you are correct...some do not even have certified teachers. Agree completely with all your points and like you cannot understand what is the goal? Privatize public education, continue to pay big bucks to corporations for testing or has Obama and Duncan decided it is just a lost cause???

  •  Thanks Ken glad I don't have children (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladyjames, Lucy2009

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 03:32:32 PM PST

  •  Asshole Duncan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladyjames, Lucy2009
    There are words -  Secretary Duncan saying to Roland Martin of NBC

       

    The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.
    On top of everything else, he now endorses the use of Shock Doctrine to institute right wing policies.

    "I wish I could tell you, in the midst of all of this, that President Obama was waging the kind of fight against these draconian Republican proposals that the American people would like to see. He is not." -- Senator Bernie Sanders

    by Sagebrush Bob on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 03:44:04 PM PST

  •  Education gaps should temper U.S. pride (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denise b, Lucy2009, worldlotus

    Is America in decline? No way, says President Obama, proudly speaking of our standing overseas. But some grim new reports on our educational gaps remind us that decline is like charity — it begins at home.

    Two new reports on educational achievement gaps reveal a surprising good news/bad news story: The gap between black and white students mercifully has shrunk, but the gap between rich and poor has dangerously grown.

    http://www.tennessean.com/...

    •  but is that an issue of education./schools (0+ / 0-)

      or of economic/social policy?

      Income inequality is growing quickly

      test scores correlated heavily with family income, always have

      we are further narrowing education in schools in poorer communities, but not addressing the issue of why they are poor

      "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 Feb 19, 2012 at 05:49:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The destruction of public education - the aim? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladyjames

    I'm afraid the President is suffering from the same ailment that has colored his relationship with so many others who gave him support: the belief that too close a relationship with groups that should support him will drive away the independents his advisers think he needs to win.

    To be seen as listening to and responding to the concerns of actual teachers would feed right into the right wing attack as Obama bending to evil teacher union demands.

    He's also surrounded by corporate types who see money in the privatization craze stalking education. If you can't ship teaching our kids overseas, the next best thing is to drive people into private or subsidized for-profit schools.

    And then there's those who realize an effective public school system fills kids with liberal ideas, exposes them to science, and deprives them of religious indoctrination. They may even end up thinking for themselves - and that's a disaster for those who need low-information followers for their jihads.

    The whole process is leading to a situation where we demand ever more of teachers even as we deprive them of resources and deny them trust to do their jobs.

    If you're more worried about responding to your enemies than your friends, pretty soon enemies are all you'll have left.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 05:19:33 PM PST

  •  The diarist might be more effective if, (0+ / 0-)

    instead of a protracted lamentation, he focused on one specific issue and encouraged readers to contact the White House regarding it, and gave handy instructions on how to do so.
    To think that one's magniloquent bemoaning on a liberal blog site will have any significantly productive impact is exceedingly self-important, imho.
    And for the diarist to ask why he should continue to support President Obama is absurd.

    Unfortunately, President Obama doesn't have time to read DK, so contact him here: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 (Postcards, not letters! Please give your email address.) -- 202-456-1111 -- FAX: 202-456-2461

    by My Left Behind on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 09:59:41 PM PST

    •  let's see, you have made same point 3 times (0+ / 0-)

      which is approaching thread hijacking

      I have answered you in detail once

      you are simply wrong about how to be effective

      just as you are wrong in assuming I am not focusing on one particular issue

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

      by teacherken on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 03:04:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Teachers are unhappy" is not a specific issue (0+ / 0-)

        And in your diary you ask,

        "Mr. President, please explain why I, or any other teacher, should do any of that (contribute, volunteer, advocate) when you have so disappointed us?"

        Well, here is an answer to that.

        To consider withholding support as a threat or a solution is petulant and counterproductive.

        If I were you I would focus on one point, such as exactly how you would want to fix NCLB, and urge readers to contact the WH if they agree.  You said that contacting the WH does little good, but believe me, when politicians receive a significant number of communications on one issue, they sit up and take notice.  And it would also let Obama know that we have his back when he goes up against the Repubs.

        He's on our side.  Stop acting as if you have to threaten him in order to effect change.  He has to pick his battles, or he'll be a one-term president.  And check me on this, but former presidents don't get to sign much progressive education legislation.

        Unfortunately, President Obama doesn't have time to read DK, so contact him here: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 (Postcards, not letters! Please give your email address.) -- 202-456-1111 -- FAX: 202-456-2461

        by My Left Behind on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 09:57:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Dear Mr. President (0+ / 0-)

    Hopefully this message will inspire more teachers to speak out publically against the policies that have and are undermining the promise of a full educational opportunity for all students.

  •  Superb Post - BUT please change this one typo! (0+ / 0-)

    Excellent post. I agree with it very strongly. But you need to correct one glaring typo which detracts from the power and persuasion of this superb letter.

    Ironically it is in what is arguably the strongest part of your letter:

    "Why should your children be able to get an education with (WHICH) emphasizes the individual students, which does not measure teachers by tests, which does not subject students to a testing regime that is out of control, which has class sizes and teacher loads of students that are reasonable - all things I support - while your administration insists upon policies that are contrary to just about every one of these things?"

    Please change the above "with" to "which" and you have a sentence that should be emailed to President Obama by each and every one of us.

    Congratulations on a brilliant letter. And please make this change---and any others I may have overlooked---as soon as possible. Thank you.

  •  Worst president ever on public education (0+ / 0-)

    I was warning people about him long ago of his neoliberal political leanings.  He is a teacher-hating, anti-Social Security, anti-Democratic Party fraud.

    One can't blame just Duncan for these horrendous education policies which are far worse than Bush's.  Obama put him in charge.

    Remember when Obama thought it was just great the Central Falls teachers were fired?  That gives it away, people, what he really is.

    The neolibs control both political parties.  There isn't a dime's worth of difference between Obama and likely GOP nominee Romney.

    We need to take the Democratic Party back from these people.  It is almost too late, however.

JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, Angie in WA State, Susan S, Susan Nunes, PrahaPartizan, matttb, homunq, copymark, emal, Reino, Sprinkles, TheGreatLeapForward, Shockwave, VetGrl, LEP, Aspe4, xynz, TheMomCat, Zinman, TracieLynn, bluesteel, roses, CanisMaximus, Texknight, scorpiorising, danthrax, Dallasdoc, CitizenOfEarth, johanus, agincour, BMarshall, RuralLiberal, annetteboardman, bsegel, lcrp, zerelda, Black Max, Albanius, Leaves on the Current, vacantlook, sawgrass727, rapala, tovan, radarlady, denise b, LakeSuperior, greatferm, ek hornbeck, stormcrow, OpherGopher, Technowitch, offred, grimjc, frandor55, YucatanMan, fixxit, Tommy Allen, McMeier, Burned, jabbausaf, markdd, Rydra Wrong, WisePiper, Balachan, daddybunny, CentralMass, JanL, soyinkafan, xaxnar, Jim R, Orinoco, VolvoDrivingLiberal, Gorette, Son of a Cat, blueoasis, jeff bryant, triv33, gooderservice, Sagebrush Bob, ZombyWoof, steep rain, ER Doc, doingbusinessas, chapel hill guy, shaharazade, bstotts, Temmoku, One Pissed Off Liberal, Sidof79, SomeStones, Habitat Vic, SpecialKinFlag, Adiamante, Dartagnan, 0wn, blue71340, FishOutofWater, tbirchard, Matt Z, bnasley, stratocasterman, mp, stcroix cheesehead, Moderation, pioneer111, leonard145b, bewild, janatallow, jgilhousen, 1world, poligirl, joycemocha, theunreasonableHUman, wade norris, jamess, monkeybrainpolitics, Lujane, CenFlaDem, mofembot, temptxan, kallen808, makettle, LaEscapee, aigeanta, DixieDishrag, priceman, 207wickedgood, Aaron Krager, Rhysling, weaponsofmassdeception, rudewarrior, Old Iowa Liberal, greengemini, CASoup, JesseCW, DefendOurConstitution, borndem, Dark UltraValia, nancat357, oldoregonlib, RhymesWithUrple, UTvoter, Focusmarker, AbominableAllStars, k8dd8d, gulfgal98, Lady Libertine, ramara, Funkygal, Rnedewa, soaglow, Mac in Maine, Onomastic, kamrom, on second thought, FarWestGirl, dle2GA, Joe Hill PDX, PhilJD, Liberal Mole, Inameli, Andrew F Cockburn, zenox, Chitown Kev, Lucy2009, Mathazar, BlueDragon, quill, stormicats, Mostel26, a2nite, Ginger1, FreeSpeaker, TomorrowsProgressives, sreeizzle2012, pot, Ruh Roh, TBug, burnt out, David Kaib, AverageJoe42, BradyB, Kurt Sperry, ProfessorWho, tultican, Abelia, sebsgf, isewquilts2, Chaddiwicker, Bentrider in Michigan, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Setsuna Mudo, SanFernandoValleyMom, ladyjames, gypsytoo, sfbaytransplant, steadfastdem, Yastreblyansky, Ree Zen, RUSiriusA, Tom Sullivan

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