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Corporate education reform group Stand for Children has Massachusetts in its crosshairs, threatening a ballot measure that would make it easier to fire teachers based on an untested, unproven evaluation system. This is despite the fact that Massachusetts has, by many measures, the best schools in the nation.

Though there are real grassroots activists in Stand for Children's background, by now it is controlled by more of the same—Wall Street money, Walmart Walton money, and other billionaire supporters of bringing private profit into public education. Stand leaves behind it a trail of disillusioned former members. In Massachusetts, a group of 29 former Stand for Children activists write that:

Stand was one group of many at the table when the new Massachusetts educator evaluation system was hammered out over several months last spring. Unions, principals, state officials, parents—all contributed. But when the new regulations were finally announced, one group walked away—Stand for Children.

Immediately, Stand filed for a ballot initiative and used some of their new corporate money to hire people to collect the signatures. It cost them $3 a signature, but they have plenty more. They are following the master plan revealed in Colorado by their national CEO, Jonah Edelman, a month before it was announced Massachusetts.

The proposed ballot measure attempts to blow up the collaborative work that created the new regulations last spring. It does nothing to improve teaching in our schools.

Instead, the Stand for Children plan eliminates job protections for teachers, pushes them to teach to the standardized test, and makes it dangerous for them to stand up for their students to administrators and bureaucrats.

Sign our petition calling on Stand for Children to withdraw this harmful, divisive measure from the Massachusetts ballot.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue May 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM PDT.

Also republished by Massachusetts Kosmopolitans and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ooh god I thought I was safe from rightwing (7+ / 0-)

    religious zealots in MA. I guess their plan is to overtake the school systems and in 20 years we'll be as red as Alabama.

    Thanks -- I will definitely sign the petition. My kids will be in 9th grade and 6th grade this fall. Still young enough that this change will affect them. (although their flaming liberal mom will make sure that, though it may change their schooling, it will not change them...)

    The search for truth and knowledge is one of the finest attributes of a man, though often it is most loudly voiced by those who strive for it the least -- Albert Einstein

    by theKgirls on Tue May 15, 2012 at 01:30:06 PM PDT

    •  You need more of this kind of program in MA (0+ / 0-)

      .... and far, far less of the cold testing regimes.

      This is a program in Worcester, MA. Participants have a 100% graduation rate, compared to the city's 72% rate. They go on to schools like Harvard or Tufts Veterinary school. The program is highly successful, because it helps the students find their strengths and lets them build the rest of their learning atop the resulting foundation of confidence in their abilities.

    •  Already signed it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rick B

      since I'm a current parent and hopefully future teacher in MA.

      My kids' teachers do not "teach to the test". The philosophy seems to be, "Whatever I teach, if I do it well, you'll pass the test." And that seems to work, partially because the MCAS, as standardized tests go, isn't horrendous. If that changes, my kids' education will go straight downhill, and, although my oldest is a sophomore this year (and that's the last year for the tests in MA), my younger is only in 5th grade.

      As a future teacher, my opposition goes without saying :D.

      "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

      by ChurchofBruce on Sat May 19, 2012 at 11:25:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is wealthy plutocrats allied with evangelical (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie

      The plutocrats are out to suck the tax money paid for education into their private wealth (see the Walton family whose wealth is based on tax breaks given by local governments as the local government compete with each other for new jobs.)

      The evangelicals are simply people from rural slowly changing cultures who fear the rapid high pace change and social equality demanded by urban industrial cultures. The evangelicals expect a class-based society and the wealthy plutocrats are giving it to them as they fill their pockets with taxpayer money.

      The plutocrats get the wealth and power and the evangelicals are promised a return to the social stability of the America that they imagine existed before WW II and the FDR New Deal. The evangelical preachers are promised the return to the quasi-governmental power their religious role gave them in the rural agricultural society that was America before WW II.

      This is a national movement. The old South and the central Midwest flyover country (Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Southern Illinois, etc.) are ground zero, but they don't have the money that attracts the plutocrats.

      The US Supreme Court has by it's actions and rhetoric ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

      by Rick B on Sat May 19, 2012 at 11:44:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What happened to Stand for Children? (3+ / 0-)

    I remember when they organized marches against cuts to public assistance.

    I wonder if they were infiltrated by sleepers, like the Komen Foundation.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Tue May 15, 2012 at 02:04:03 PM PDT

  •  Are you safe from the left wing? (2+ / 0-)

    Race to The Top was "won" by states who dropped their laws limiting charter schools and instituted "plans that would make it easier to fire teachers based on an untested, unproven evaluation system".

    Under the cover of midnight Massachusetts dems stripped collective bargaining away...

  •  We're in the beginning of house-hunting... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... and the crazy crap going on with the schools is one of the big problems.

    We're lucky; we have the means to pick where we move to, or stay put and send WarriorGirl to private school (she already goes to private preschool).  But the horror stories coming out of the "good" towns (let alone the awful stories out of my town) have me leaning toward private school anyway.

    Massachusetts has great schools now, but these astroturf groups just make everything that much harder.

    Tipped, rec'd and signed.

  •  Stand For Children as long as: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clytemnestra, Egalitare

    They do what we say and learn what we want them to learn.

    We can get rid of the teachers' unions and strip them of their retirements and health insurance.

    and the list goes on...

  •  Are we supposed to be against any evaluation? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm certainly against evaluations that are designed poorly and controlled by corporations. But the status quo is seniority rules that inherently discriminate against younger workers. Are teacher's unions willing to show any solidarity with 20/30 somethings who ave born the brunt of the hiring freezes and layoffs? Are they willing to offer alternative approaches to recruiting then identifying and retaining talented young teachers? Are they willing to admit that there do in fact exist some (not by any means most) in the older generation who may have lost the spark and could take early retirement to open up jobs for motivated younger teachers?

    Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

    by play jurist on Sat May 19, 2012 at 11:25:23 AM PDT

    •  The only evaluation is the opinion of the boss (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie

      All the untested evaluation systems simply make it easier for the political school board to get the administrators to fire any teacher or employee who dares make waves or disagree with the hierarchy. This is very analogous to European feudal society where everyone is "owned" by their higher superiors.

      That feudal system was broken in Europe when the Kings centralized control of the cities and offered the king's justice to the people in a system outside that of the local powerful lords and religious leaders. In America the Civil Rights and Voting Rights laws provided a similar protection for the people from the local powerful families. So is the setting of national standards for education. The conservatives want that power back. That's the social side of the conservative movement.

      A big portion of this conservative movement is to eliminate civil rights for employees. Right-to-work and Employment-at-will both give all power to the boss.

      The purpose of the privatizing education by the wealthy families is to suck in taxpayer funds, either through crony contracts which are never evaluated or through charter schools which have even fewer controls.

      This is all about money being given to the wealthy and powerful and about the associated social control. The more rural any state is the more it gravitates to this proto-feudal social system.

      The US Supreme Court has by it's actions and rhetoric ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

      by Rick B on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:08:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting, (0+ / 0-)

        but I have no idea what it has to do with my post. I assure you that I am opposed to feudalism and to conservatism, though.

        Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

        by play jurist on Sat May 19, 2012 at 05:12:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The evaluations are meaningless (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joe wobblie

          That's besides the fact that they are meaningless. They are simply unscientific.

          They are an excuse to give power to the bosses and to the feudal financial predators who own them. They are intended to eliminate the vestiges of corporate democracy that still appear in American organizations. But if you think that the evaluations will give the bosses any idea of who is an effective teacher and who is not, forget it.

          Not only can they not do that, they are not even intended to do that. You are watching corporate feudal propaganda at work centralizing power in the hands of the wealthy.

          The US Supreme Court has by it's actions and rhetoric ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

          by Rick B on Sat May 19, 2012 at 09:22:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Most unions (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy, Rick B

      and I suspect most teachers, would reject the sort of divisive rhetoric you use here that pits teachers against each other.

      Your assumption that senior teachers are worse than new teachers is nonsense, and in many places the corporate ed reform agenda seeks such drastic cuts that no teacher is safe. Beyond that, it's not clear that anyone claims that more senior teachers are always better.  

      Also, no, it's not clear that anyone is arguing against all evaluation. Certainly no one here.  Most unions support peer evaluations.  

      A nation founded in name of self-determination & popular government has no business supporting autocratic regimes.. @DavidKaib

      by David Kaib on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:12:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sigh. (0+ / 0-)

        Your suggestion that I'm using "divisive rhetoric" commits the fallacy of poisoning the well. It's a transparent effort to pre-empt any argument I could present. Your claim that I assume senior teachers are worse than new teachers commits the straw man fallacy. I said no such thing.

        I'll tell you what's divisive: Bullying people with petty fallacies rather than addressing the real issues that younger workers are facing in the brutal labor market.

        I was making a simple point. Seniority rules discriminate against younger workers. I was calling for greater solidarity, not less. I think that implementing a peer evaluation system so that the best teachers, regardless of whether they are senior or new hires, are retained is an excellent idea. I think an even better idea would be solidarity in the face of any layoffs. But it seems that Gen X and Yers are taking the brunt of budget cuts while boomers remain content to play defense against corporate ed reform rather than go to bat for their younger colleagues.

        In the end, however, without solidarity no one wins. So we really do need to start thinking about what can be done to protect talented young teachers from layoffs and to actually start creating opportunities for them. Let's start setting the agenda rather than responding to the corporate ed reform agenda.

        Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

        by play jurist on Sat May 19, 2012 at 05:10:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your rhetoric is obviously separate from (0+ / 0-)

          your policy position, so citing one to defend the other makes no sense, but let's leave that aside.

          The problem is a massive, well financed, assault on public education. It is seeking to dismantle pubic education, deprofessionalize the teaching profession, use bad tests that are touted as providing accountability to undermine the parents' support for teachers, and divide teachers, parents and students.  In the face of that, objecting over seniority protections, which are designed to protect all teachers from arbitrary management authority, doesn't make much sense.  

          Whether intended or not, focusing on this young vs. old teachers trope reinforces the conservative assault on education.  The solution is to fight these layoffs, among other things, not to argue over whether there is a more equitable way of enforcing them.  What drives talented young and old teachers out of the profession is the assault on public education, and the the demonization that supports it. You seem to be the one accepting their setting the agenda - how do we best do layoffs as we cut much needed spending from public education? That is not a conversation I want to be a part of, because it takes us in exactly the wrong direction.

          As for this:

          it seems...boomers remain content to play defense against corporate ed reform rather than go to bat for their younger colleagues.
          It doesn't seem that way to me, since I am familiar with the efforts of teachers, often older, who are fighting the entire corporate agenda tooth and nail.  But even if it were true, your solution is no solution at all.

          For the life of me, I can't understand why it should be taken seriously when you attack unions as a whole and boomers as a class as being divisive that it's bullying for me to object and suggest you are being divisive by making that (specific) claim.  

          If we're going to talk about who is arguing in good faith, I might add that attacking my motives - which you don't have access to - is a distraction from responding to what I said.  Easier to imagine what I believe and pounce on that , I suppose, but odd when in the same breath you accuse me of being unfair.  

          A nation founded in name of self-determination & popular government has no business supporting autocratic regimes.. @DavidKaib

          by David Kaib on Sat May 19, 2012 at 07:15:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is frustrating. (0+ / 0-)

            You just keep straw manning me. I didn't attack unions as a whole or boomers as a class. I didn't question your motives either. I just said that I think seniority is unfair and that more needs to be done to protect talented young teachers. I think that if we had some sort of assessment of teachers that we could appeal to to objectively say this is a teacher who is getting great results that that would be easier to do. In my opinion, teachers unions could get on the front foot if they started putting out some positive reform proposals, rather than staying on the back foot defending unfair seniority rules.

            Yet, you're basically making my point by trying to marginalize and dismiss me, using fallacies rather than arguments or evidence.

            Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

            by play jurist on Sat May 19, 2012 at 07:28:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think we can find at least one point of (0+ / 0-)

              agreement.  This is frustrating.

              I'll let others read what has been written and see if my rather long comment lacked arguments and the like.

              A nation founded in name of self-determination & popular government has no business supporting autocratic regimes.. @DavidKaib

              by David Kaib on Sat May 19, 2012 at 08:00:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I'm shocked, SHOCKED, (0+ / 0-)

    that there're no bloodsucker Marvin or Neil Bu$hies sniffing around this. Maybe they're in stealth mode.

    Mitt, you're so full of shitt.

    by OleHippieChick on Sat May 19, 2012 at 11:25:24 AM PDT

  •  My mother taught in public schools in NJ and PA (4+ / 0-)

    from the mid 1930s to the late 1970s.  Privatizing public education was around the whole time, in various forms, but vouchers and "school choice" was the most popular.  The money grubbers and elitists and their eager, amoral minions have always been obsessed with the public schools as both profit and shaping opportunities, raising generations of just educated enough servants and charging handsomely for entrance to the system that ensures a steady supply of too many laborers for the available jobs.

    Those who forget the pasta are doomed to reheat it.

    by CarolinNJ on Sat May 19, 2012 at 11:26:23 AM PDT

  •  I read a signature gatherer the riot act about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    here4tehbeer, happymisanthropy

    this one. and another woman who heard me refused to sign it too.  too bad I couldn't stay there the whole day and dissuade other people.

    Bumper sticker seen on I-95; "Stop Socialism" my response: "Don't like socialism? GET OFF the Interstate highway!"

    by Clytemnestra on Sat May 19, 2012 at 11:33:50 AM PDT

  •  My aunt is the best teacher is the world... (0+ / 0-)

    I know, I'm prejudiced...  She's been teaching first grade for 40 years.  And, how can you tell how good she is?  Because almost every other teacher in her building has requested that their children be in her first grade class.  She is strict.  She tells the kids on the first day that it will be her way and no other.  But, she is also fun... so long as everyone follows the rules.  She really goes the extra mile.  Over the years she has done so much to get the kids, and their parents involved.  She usually has a poetry night, where the kids recite poems they have learned for their parents.  She has had a father-child reading morning, where dads come in before school and read with their kids.  She has had a pajama party with her kids, where they all come in the evening in their pajamas, with their teddy bears (her room is filled with them), and read bed time stories.  (In the old days, they used to spend the night, with chaperones, of course.)  And, at the end of the every year, she does a play with her kids.  They make the sets, the costumes, the whole bit.  Everyone has a part.  And, every child and most every parent participates every year.  She also always gets almost 100% participation in her parent-teacher conferences, too.

    Her kids love her, but they also respect her.  What she says is the final word.  And, it is not just her.  She expects them to show respect to the cafeteria ladies, the music and art teachers, the tutors, and any other adult they encounter in the school.  And, she does not tolerate disruptions in her classroom... from students or adults.  When she is teaching, she has their full attention.  (I used to work as a school social worker in her school, so I got the chance to observe all of this first-hand.)  Her kids really did learn.

    You would think that her principals (over the years she has had several) would appreciate a teacher of her quality.  And, I believe that they did.  However, as administrators, I guess they need to take full advantage of their resources.  So, every year, it seems my aunt gets saddled with a classroom full of the most challenging kids coming out of the kindergarten classes - socially, behaviorally and developmentally.  She gets the kids who (and these are actual examples) spent most of their kindergarten in time out for kicking the teacher; were not potty trained; the kindergarten teachers had specifically recommended repeat kindergarten because of deficiency of skills but their parents declined (there were several of these over the years).  She finally asked one principal, in desperation, why she was getting all of the more difficult kids.  He told her, sympathetically, "Because I know you can handle them."  (I know this is true, because the same principal told me the same thing later that year.)

    My aunt often complained about how unfair it was that she was punished (given a disproportionate number of at-risk students) for being good at her job, rather than rewarded.  But, I have pointed out to her countless times that she has been able to make the greatest possible impact in exactly this way - by teaching the kids who needed her the most.  Had she taught the gifted kids, sure, her life would have been easier.  But theirs probably wouldn't have been that different.  But, who knows how many kids she started out positively on the road to learning that otherwise wouldn't have even been on the right path.

    I know this comment is a long one.  And, I know I think my aunt is the "best teacher in the world".  But, the truth is, there are many teachers out there with inspiring stories like hers.  And, like her, those teachers do not want to teach to tests...  It goes against their nature and stifles their creative genius.

    And, worse, under this new system, it is very likely that it is the students who will suffer.  Administrators will either continue to utilize their resources, like my aunt, getting all they can out of them until low test scores get them fired; or, in order to protect their best teachers, administrators will assign them to the best students, ensuring that at-risk students never get the help they need.  Either way, it is not the long-term solution for our children.

    •  Same thing happened to my sister (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie

      She was the teacher every parent wanted and she got all the difficult kids.  And like your aunt, she treated each child as a unique individual and managed to teach effectively.  

      They are gifts to the world and we should honor them, not call them greedy and cut their income.

      •  Most of the great teachers I know... (0+ / 0-)

        will tell you it's not about the money for them.  (If it were, they wouldn't be teaching to begin with.)  They just wish to be compensated on par with any profession that requires the level of training, continuing education and dedication that teaching requires.  That is not greed, it is fairness.  

        Oh, and a little respect from the students and their parents would be greatly appreciated.  When you consider how much of their own time and money good teachers give to provide a quality education for their students, I don't think that's too much to ask.

  •  ma universities will help SfC by broadcasting (0+ / 0-)

    sports on the RW radio stations that will do and already have done the heavy lifting statewide lying to sell this shit.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:46:36 PM PDT

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