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The faces that dominate the education reform debate today—where "education reform" means increased reliance on standardized tests, the results of which are then used to determine the fates of teachers whose job security has been weakened—are people like former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and Harlem Children's Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada. They are, or can be packaged as, dynamic and visionary, educators who are passionate about kids. But lots of teachers could fit that bill, so why is someone like Michelle Rhee, who has spent very little time in the classroom, so prominent while the average teacher faces cutbacks and scapegoating? The answer, as in so many things, involves money. Not just any money. Billionaire money. Hedge fund money. Goldman Sachs money. Bill Gates money and Walton money. Michelle Rhee and Geoffrey Canada are prominent because they embody a set of ideas attractive to major philanthropists working to remake public education into their own vision of how the world works.

infographic showing nearly $6 million in Walton Family Foundation donations to StudentsFirst, Stand for Children, and Education Reform Now
The Walton Family Foundation is just one of the "philanthropies" advancing a highly politicized vision
for public education through big donations. (Education Week)

When Bill Gates, or the Walmart Waltons, or former SunAmerica CEO Eli Broad, pour millions of tax-deductible dollars through their charitable foundations into education, they don't suddenly cease to be people who inherited or made billions of dollars in the corporate world and magically become noble, pure-hearted philanthropists completely divorced from politics with only the non-politicized good of humanity in mind. They remain people who inherited or made billions of dollars in the corporate world. Their political beliefs, left or right, remain intact, and their philanthropic giving typically supports those beliefs.

Often, the political beliefs playing out through billionaire philanthropy aren't explicitly partisan—but they reflect the view that rich people are rich because they're better and smarter than the rest of us, that expertise within a specific field is no match for a motivated billionaire's genius, and that the rules under which they were successful in the private sector can and should be applied to the public sector. Never mind that government has different goals than business and that, as Elizabeth Warren so powerfully reminded us, none of them got rich on their own. They relied on public roads and police forces and publicly educated workers to build their wealth. Yet now, having succeeded as individuals on that basis, they act as if their success is not just independent of but an evolutionary step beyond all those facts, and seek to reshape the world to match that view.

In the case of education, that has translated into, first, millions and millions of dollars being poured into everything but what we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is the most important factor in educational outcomes: socioeconomic class. Creating a more equal society is the way to improve educational outcomes across the board. It's not something the Waltons or Eli Broad or Rupert Murdoch are particularly interested in, though. So they focus their efforts inside schools rather than on changing society, and of course they turn their gaze to schools believing they know best. And since in their belief systems, in their experience of what works in the world, the private sector and the profit motive are the drivers of success, that's what they think will benefit education.

The push for corporate values and the entry of profit in education leads to an emphasis on standardized tests that just happen to mean big profits for testing companies. It means the same companies that make the tests and the test-prep materials make money licensing teachers. It means privatized, nutritionally poor school lunches.

These are things happening in traditional public schools, but the corporate education agenda also means building a whole other educational system, draining resources from traditional public schools on an increasing basis despite a failure to show actual educational benefits. So we see the growth of charter management companies raking in big bucks on rents and other fees they charge the schools they're supposed to serve. We see, despite demonstrated poor results for online learning, philanthropist Bill Gates giving money to online learning advocacy while Microsoft looks into entering the online learning business.

As damaging as these individual initiatives are to our public education system, more damaging still is the growth of policy-by-billionaires. We need a robust system of government, including education, and not a tattered, underfunded government leaving a void for billionaires to step in and steer not just charity but public policy based on the implicit view that because they're rich they must know best.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Once again MultiGenerational Wealth (22+ / 0-)

    Bringing havoc to the rest of us.

    Doctor Mitt Romney Brain Sturgeon-The Operation was a success but the patient died, where's my fee?

    by JML9999 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:08:33 PM PDT

  •  Finland seems to be at the top in education in (13+ / 0-)

    most studies, why the hell don't we have a work abroad study program to learn what works?

    Have the Sec. of Ed spend a month in the top tier countries, along with the counter part from the NEA.

    •  The Point Is to Get Us to the Bottom. (21+ / 0-)

      The last thing ownership wants is a functional successful nation state here. The reason 2 parties are advancing this reflects how immediately ownership wants an end to enlightenment.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:25:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Our sec of ed is in the other camp... (15+ / 0-)

      If only donkeys could have elephant balls... Occupy!

      by chuckvw on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:28:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because it's not about improving education (19+ / 0-)

      There are billions of public dollars going to public education that could be redirected into private, for-profit coffers. It's nothing personal. It's just business.

      •  exactly (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bkamr, wasatch, pdxteacher, Mostel26

        if not for that consideration, why sure, they'd be happy to have good schools.

        An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

        by mightymouse on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:39:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not quite. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lh1695, Bud Fields, Mostel26, helfenburg

        There's also an ideological agenda. The structure of an institution reflects its principles. Public institutions are democratic, private institutions are not. Public education, for all its flaws, can inspire creative and intellecutal development, critical thinking, and active citizenship. None of these qualities are good for business - capitalists generally do not prefer populations that are educated, independent-minded, and willing to fight for their rights. So a private education system would reflect the values and ideology of U.S. state-capitalism.

        Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

        by cruz on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:37:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  We know what works in Finland. (14+ / 0-)

      Finland works because they have a much lower poverty rate.

      •  to be fair (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roy Ellefson

        It might also be the saunas. But I'm willing to bet you're right.

        •  sauna is the answer (0+ / 0-)

          as some one who recently built a backyard wood burning sauna I have to agree with this.  Since building a sauna I have become smarter, better looking and even more progressive.  My wife the teacher (who is part Finn) has become an even better teacher (she was already smarter and better looking) since installing the sauna.  To paraphrase a Todd Rundgren lyric "Sauna is the Answer."  

      •  They have a homogeneous society without (0+ / 0-)

        the ethnic, linguistic, racial and economic diversity that American public schools deal with also.

        Also, Finland is one tiny nation, the equivalent of maybe NYC in the US.  There is no one "education system" in the US but thousands of different districts, some doing very well, others struggling, so to talk about it as if it is a monolith is distorting the discussion from the beginning.

        •  Racial Crap (5+ / 0-)

          First of all, Finland doesn't have an ethnically or linguistically homogeneous society. It is a society with a historical division between the poorer majority Finns and the wealthier and better educated Swedish minority.

          Second, if racial homogeneity was the answer to all a society's problems -- why is North Korea such a mess?

          "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

          by bink on Mon May 21, 2012 at 04:16:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It doesn't have anywhere near the degree (0+ / 0-)

            of diversity that we deal with in US public schools.  See, this is the thing - people engage in the debate who haven't been in a US public school in 20 or 30 years.  In my district we have children who come to school speaking Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Amharic, French and more and they are all in one school.

          •  And no one has said that racial homogeneity is (0+ / 0-)

            an answer to anything.  It is just a fact in some nations, often small, European nations and it matters when it comes to educational outcomes whether a child comes to school speaking the language in which the child is taught.  To suggest that this is the same as saying that "racial homogeneity is the answer to society's problems" is a scurrilous lie.

            •  If Finland Is Not Ethnically Homogeneous (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joe B

              Why does the rest of your argument about it matter at all?

              "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

              by bink on Mon May 21, 2012 at 04:39:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am specifically talking about linguistic (0+ / 0-)

                diversity, not ethnic diversity and about divergence between the language children learn and speak and home and the language in which they are taught at school.  If you come to school speaking Chinese, and they start to teach you to read in English, do you think it will takeyou longer to learn how to read in English than it might take a student who comes to school speaking English?

        •  I call bullshit (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, vzfk3s

          This is the same argument conservative Americans use whenever the success of the Scandinavian countries is invoked as proof of how socialism works (Funny though how they seldom say "Socialism doesn't work! - except in Scandinavia where it works better than our system").

          Sweden, where I live, is no more homogenous than the US. Non-EU immigration has been massive the last 20 years.

          Socialism (or social democracy) works, and it has nothing to do with ethnical homogenity.

          Conservatism = greed, hate, fear and ignorance

          by Joe B on Mon May 21, 2012 at 06:58:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, while some Scandinavian countries (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            may be more diverse than I imagine, I really, really doubt that their school-age populations are as diverse as the school-age population of the US.  Remember the news from this weekend - births in the US are now majority non-white.

            And, the research from countries where there is a significant linguistic minority, e.g. The Netherlands which has a large Turkish-speaking minority, shows that there is an achievement gap in those nations also.

    •  maybe they don't want success (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy, quill, Mostel26

      or it doesn't matter enough for them to re-focus away from $ from their corrupt pals.

      really disgusting.

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:38:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Article from buffoon (26+ / 0-)

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

      Finland's Minister of Education, Ms. Henna

      "Teachers in Finland can choose their own teaching methods and materials. They are experts of their own work and they test their own pupils. I think this is also one of the reasons why teaching is such an attractive profession in Finland because teachers are working like academic experts with their own pupils in schools.
      Our educational society is based on trust and cooperation, so when we are doing some testing and evaluations, we don't use it for controlling [teachers] but for development. We trust the teachers."

      "I Welcome Their Hatred." - FDR

      by dehrha02 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:38:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm guessing that the Sec of Ed already knows... (10+ / 0-)

      ... about Finland. And it seems that the policies that the administration is pursuing were not chosen based on an analysis of "what works".

      Seems more like a mix of ideology and who-profits that drives the administration's education policies and the gaps therein.

      Tho' I agree - I think that our Sec of Ed should be ditchin' the ideology and answering for what works.

      Cheers.

      •  An important dynamic to remember (0+ / 0-)

        is that the Secretary of Education is working within an established public education system he did not create. You are calling for an aircraft carrier to turn on a dime, not several miles of football fields. This is impractical, but I agree that the policies must immediately reflect a renewed dedication to our professional educators, and the pupils in their charge from a federal perspective, with strategies and tactics which will effect the necessary change of direction.

        Laura is, however, entirely correct when she indicates the fervor with which monied interests, and those that do their bidding, are wholly focused on the elimination of public education in America. She is also, in my personal view, correct in the reasons she gives.

        While there may be honest disagreement with the correct steps to take, unless and until we acknowledge the war in which we have been unwittingly forced to engage, and state our absolute conviction that it is public education which must survive for the good of the citizenry and our nation, nothing else matters. This is the single message we must send, and now.

        If we cannot, or will not, no strategy or tactic we may create will be relevant, and the war will be lost.

        Nurse Kelley says my writing is brilliant and my soul is shiny - who am I to argue?
        Economic
        Left/Right: -7.75
        Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.51

        by Bud Fields on Mon May 21, 2012 at 12:44:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well, the ship of state is actually quite a bit... (0+ / 0-)

          ...bigger than your aircraft carrier, and its navigation systems are quite a bit more complicated.

          And as for "the single message we must send"...there's pretty much always more than one perspective.

          Cheers.

      •  Arne Duncan is good pals with Bill and Melinda (0+ / 0-)

        Gates and has involved them in ed policy at the federal level.

    •  Because they're fully-unionized, that's why (9+ / 0-)

      And the union actually gets to be involved in decision-making at every level. Can't have that.

    •  I'm tired of hearing about Finland. Finland has 5 (5+ / 0-)

      million people, less population and diversity than Massachusetts, one of the smallest states in the US.  Finland is also a homogeneous country.  Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Iowa, Utah all do just as well as Finland.  It's easy to get a consensus of expectations in a homogeneous country.  You don't have Finnish kids afraid of excelling because then they would be "acting white."  You don't have people arguing about what a national curriculum should entail.  

      The United States of America is not Finland and would never be.   For starters we have 60 times the population of Finland.

      •  Yup. It's like comparing a wealthy suburban school (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego, elfling

        to an inner city school and trying to apply the same tools that worked for the suburban school to the inner city school and expecting it to work.  

        Finland is a very abundant country full of natural resources with very few people in it.  They have a single major urban center.  That's it.  

        It's much more reasonable to compare the US with the whole of Europe (including Eastern Europe), and not a tiny country that has been living off the spoils of the tech boom and a cheap euro currency because of the Mediterranean.  

        •  Except... (0+ / 0-)

          if we actually applied what we do in wealthy suburban schools to inner city schools then our own situation would be much more like Finland's. All we'd really need to do is spend just as much per student in both schools. Finland doesn't tolerate under-funding public schools no matter who they serve...so why do we?

          Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

          by Stwriley on Mon May 21, 2012 at 06:16:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  A few things (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Helena Handbag, maf1029, redlum jak

        First off, it was the corporate ed reformers who decided Finland was the model, they just left out that it didn't conform to any of their agenda. Those pushing back have rightly pointed out that Finland has little in common with the corporate ed agenda and in fact it is quite closer to the progressive agenda.  

        That said, simply stating ways that Finland is different than the US isn't an argument. Does 'diversity' impede educational outcomes, as you suggest? If so, how?  I doubt the answers will be convincing, if you imagine that the problems are about 'acting white'.  

        It's true that there are places and schools that do just as well as Finland. Are they one's that have been at the forefront of adopting the corporate ed agenda? No.  

        FWIW, Finland had major problems until it decided to tackle inequality and better support its teachers.  

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

        by David Kaib on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:18:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Does diversity impede ed outcomes? (0+ / 0-)

          Well, do you think it might "impede outcomes' if you teach a child in English when the child speaks Spanish?  D'ya think that this little thing called "the language barrier" might affect how well the Spanish-speaking child learns?

          •  When the parents speak only spanish (0+ / 0-)

            and especially if they are not literate in any language, it makes it very challenging to establish a productive parent-teacher partnership.

            Secondarily, many of these families are migrant, following work wherever it leads, meaning that they don't stay in one school for even a whole school year, further deteriorating the relationships that are made between teachers and families.

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

            by elfling on Mon May 21, 2012 at 08:08:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Students who don't speak the (0+ / 0-)

            language of instruction may be a barrier,  but 'diversity' is not.

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

            by David Kaib on Mon May 21, 2012 at 07:59:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  yet another reason why the U.S. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lh1695
        Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Iowa, Utah all do just as well as Finland.
        should break up into about 20 different countries. I'm tired of subsidizing Mississippi, and they are -- apparently -- tired of me trying to push my San Francisco values (e.g. biology textbooks, social tolerance, women who aren't forced to give birth) on them.
    •  Finnish teachers are highly-respected (7+ / 0-)

      Both primary and secondary teachers must have a Master's degree to qualify. Teaching is a respected profession and entrance to university programs is highly competitive. A prospective teacher must have very good grades and must combat fierce opposition in order to become a teacher. About only 10% of applicants to certain programs are successful (http://www.abc.net.au/...). The respect accorded the profession and the higher salaries than the OECD average lead to higher performing and larger numbers applying for the positions, and this is reflected in the quality of teachers in Finland. (Wikipedia)

      •  How many teachers teaching in the US today would (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        naus

        survive the same fierce competition?   How do we go from A (now) to B (Finland's quality of teachers) without laying off incompetent teachers?  Please don't tell me there aren't incompetent teachers.

        •  Bring it. (16+ / 0-)

          I'll base your hypothetical swamp of incompetent teachers against the incompetents in any other comparable job base any day, any time.

          Anyone still in teaching is there in spite of the almost-daily efforts to drive him or her out of the business. Most teachers are working under frozen salaries (my grade-level chair is working for a first-year teacher's salary, as he entered the profession during the first year of salary freezes; obviously he's continued to progress even though he's making the same amount he made his first day on the job). The responsibilities have skyrocketed, and the amount of time spent undergoing additional training is horrific ("common core" alone demanded probably 100 unpaid man-hours from me this year). We must justify every single thing we do, because unlike in Finland, our judgment counts for nothing -- in fact, most often we're assumed to be either ignorant or actively lying about anything and everything, from our reports of a child's misbehavior to our analysis of why Johnny isn't reading at grade level. Our health care benefits have been slashed every year, sometimes twice a year, for nearly a decade now. (I had better insurance in 1989 than I do now.) Every day brings with it the potential of a criminal complaint filed by a kid who decides that claims of racism or sexual harassment are just the thing to balance the failing grade I recorded; I'm assumed guilty unless I can provide eyewitnesses (usually more kids) who didn't see me do what the kid in question said I did. A parent's judgment trumps my own in every aspect of my profession. So does yours. So does the wino who spends his afternoons barfing all over his shoes. We battle against claims of teaching kids to be Commies, homosexuals, liberals, witches, terrorists, you name it, all day every day. (Remember when conservatives were screaming that public schools were "temples of darkness"? I do. I imagine they're still screaming about it.)

          We're in the profession because we're committed to teaching our children, no matter what the obstacles. We've weathered the wars and survived the weeding-out processes. So bring your little sniveling claims about "all those incompetent teachers" on. We'll measure up as good or better than the employees in any other profession you care to name.

        •  How do we match Finland's health care outcomes (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lh1695, Mostel26, SQD35R, slatsg

          without laying off America's incompetent doctors?

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

          by elfling on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:10:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  If everyone really had an equal education and (6+ / 0-)

      equal opportunity, their oligarchic corporatocracy would be finished, and they can't have that.

      "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

      by helpImdrowning on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:50:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Finland has: (10+ / 0-)

      - substantially lower poverty rate
      - 280 days of parental leave per child (split between two parents)
      - 30 days (that's 6 weeks) paid vacation annually
      - universal health care

      I suspect all of those are factors in family stability and in parental time with kids.

      I'd love to see someone do the experiment in the US - if you take two groups of comparable families and give one set 280 days of parental leave, 30 days paid vacation, and universal health care, and leave the other half to fend for itself... I bet that will have a larger effect on test scores than all the tinkering with teacher pay, teacher dismissal policies, and various curricular reforms.

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

      by elfling on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:17:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Talk about a self-defeating agenda!! (9+ / 0-)

    must be totally anti-American. The institution that would benefit the most from better education in America would be corporate America.

    OK. And now we begin the part of the show where we pull out individual words and phrases of the commenter to try to determine the "real" meaning of the comment.... let the games begin.

    by hillbrook green on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:20:21 PM PDT

    •  not really. cheap labor is what this is about and (19+ / 0-)

      the less educated people are the less likely they will fight for their rights, organize into powerful unions and get a piece of the pie. corporate america is about making money and that is pretty much the only value it respects so if you need a few smart workers the private schools of the privileged class can provide them but for the most part you want people so desperate for some sort of job that they will work without health benefits, without labor laws and without pensions......my sense is that corporate america would welcome a return to slavery with open arms.

    •  Don't Think So. Almost Everyone Believes This But (7+ / 0-)

      it's so wrong that as the physicists say it's "not EVEN wrong."

      The highly regulated corporate America whose owners & top management were under severe individual progressive taxation, in a nation whose almost-all labor and consumers were fellow citizens, in a nation under existential 20-minute extinction threat from a lethal enemy empire, definitely benefited from an educated population.

      Not our so-called country.

      They're driving this because it's profoundly in their interests.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:39:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Left is making a Classic Error. (5+ / 0-)

      The Traditional Left (and I count the Diarist among them) is making a classic "attribution error". They are failing to understand that the reformers actually think their ideas are better for children.

      I count myself as, "pro-reform". I think we need to use standardized tests to see if kids are learning. I think kids learn better when their parents have a choice of different schools.

      The Classic Error? Assuming that the tens of thousands of parents who enter Charter School lotteries are part of some conspiracy to:

      - Destroy teacher's unions
      - Destroy public education
      - Make money for testing companies

      I'll admit that there are many on the Right-Wing who support "reform" because they want to do these evil things. But let's not be ridiculous: Bill Gates isn't one of them.

      I'm a parent who lives in the Inner City. The public schools here are very bad. I want better schools.

      Opening up more Charter Schools and giving me the choice to send my child there will help my child.  Giving rewards and authority to good teachers more than to bad teachers will also help.

      Paying a teacher more because just they complete a night-school Master's Degree does not help.

      Now, you can call me evil and accuse me of being a shill for the testing companies. Whatever. But it might be more useful look at the facts behind why some of these reforms might actually work.

      Not everybody who disagrees with me is evil.

      •  Charter schools could be useful if they were (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lh1695, maf1029, Mostel26

        intended to field test methods instead of being used to pit schools against each other.  Competition is a lousy way to try to improve schools.  All it does is create envy and animosity.

        Schools automatically get better when students come to school prepared to learn and with the understanding that they will not be allowed to hamper the education of other children.  Until school administrators enforce those two rules, teachers will be generally unsuccessful in providing for the needs of well prepared students.  Without unions, teachers are penalized for the failings of parents and administrators.  There are some poor teachers, but the union busters would have people believe that the majority of teachers are poorly prepared and inept.  Destroying the entire public school system in this country, which is what, union busters are after, will result in schools that disappear when they fail to produce a profit and children whose primary value will be the money they do or don't produce for the plutocracy.  

        Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

        by tikkun on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:42:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The success that charter schools have had (6+ / 0-)

        when they have it, is mostly due to separating kids who are ready and willing to learn from those that are not.

        That's not necessarily a problem, as long as we understand that that's what we're doing.

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

        by elfling on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:21:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe. But there are other effects. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Justanothernyer

          Some charters have smaller class sizes and longer school days and school years. They get away with this by paying teachers less.

          Other charters separate kids who are "ready and willing" to learn in one style, from those who may need a different style.

          Sometimes a charter wins because it is closer to the bus station and Mom can drop off the kid without wrecking her commute. So, Mom has more time in the evening to help with homework.

          (Why isn't the public school closer to the bus station? Because Department of Education bureaucrats don't give a flying f--k about Mom's commute.)

          In any case, we're not going to change many minds if we accuse anybody who's pro-reform of being out to destroy Unions. Bill Gates spends tens of millions of charity. He may be wrong, but he's not malicious.

          •  Well, usually we accuse (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            maf1029, Mostel26

            those who are pro-reform of being out to destroy unions because in many cases they are, in fact, out to destroy unions.  See: Scott Walker.

            28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

            by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:49:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Our local public school also has (0+ / 0-)

            smaller class sizes and longer school days and longer school years than the surrounding districts.

            It strikes me that some of the issues you experience in NYC and others experience in LAUSD are because of the enormous sizes of the districts in question, where "local" decisionmaking involves overseeing 700 different schools... a number so large that no one person has visited them all in person in a meaningful way.

            Charters are one way to address this - but aside from the for-profit charters, all they really are is school districts the size of a single school. Maybe another way to approach the problem is to divide these mega districts into subdistricts of say all the feeders into each high school, and treat them as autonomous budgetary units where they decide how to fund the K-12 education for this local area. Then, use the larger district to share training, resources like nurses and special ed and gifted programs, etc.

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

            by elfling on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:55:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Your evaluation of Bill/Melinda Gates (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26, redlum jak

            couldn't be further from the truth. The foundation gave $365,000 + to ALEC, to fund the Heartland Institute's contract with an ultra-conservative "educator" to create a completely revisionist curricula for Charter Schools--ONLY. I would rebut some of your other assertions, but my time today does not, tbh, allow.

            You may suffer from the information you have chosen to embrace. Giving you that benefit of doubt, I would submit that while the "choice of the masses" may be based on honorable intentions, it is also playing perfectly into the guidelines of those who have, as their ONLY intent, determined to completely eliminate public education in America.

            Can you tell me that, as a parent and citizen, you truly believe this to be in the best interests of our children? Look a tad bit further down the road, and consider what a generation of citizens without public education would look like.

            Nurse Kelley says my writing is brilliant and my soul is shiny - who am I to argue?
            Economic
            Left/Right: -7.75
            Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.51

            by Bud Fields on Mon May 21, 2012 at 12:58:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  So why not work to make all the schools better (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joe B, redlum jak

            in those same ways?  All will have smaller class sizes, longer days and school years.  And instead of making teachers pay for it, why shouldn't the public pay for it with higher taxes?

      •  The problem we see (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maf1029, Mostel26, slatsg

        Right-winger who hates the whole idea of public education proposes that we take power away from teachers' unions, do away with tenure, and spend tax dollars on vouchers and charter schools.

        Liberal do-gooder who genuinely cares about educating children proposes that we take power away from teachers' unions, do away with tenure, and spend tax dollars on vouchers and charter schools.

        It's really hard to tell the difference between the do-gooders who really do want to improve the quality of education and the wingers who really just want to do away with public education and unions when they're basically proposing that we do the same thing.

        28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

        by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 11:03:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)

          That is why it is irrational to assume that something is bad just because your enemy proposes it.

          Instead we need to look at the facts: Do these reforms help kids and families?

          I say they do. Many others say they don't. But that should be the focus of our discussion. Bring out the facts, not the ad hominem arguments.

          That's all I'm asking.

          We should also consider the reverse. Just because Teacher's Unions attack a particular proposal doesn't mean it's bad for kids...

      •  How does a choice equal better? (0+ / 0-)

        Just because a charter school is opened doesn't mean it's a better school.  Tell us by what metric you decide that the other school is better.  Because it isn't better because it is other.

      •  Do you actually believe (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe B, Mostel26, slatsg

        outcomes on tests determine who is a better teacher?   Seriously???

        Do you not see the dangers of "merit pay"?  

        And how would YOU determine a good/great teacher?  How would YOU determine a bad/incompetent teacher?  Based on YOUR child?  I taught for 40+ years.  I was a staunch union member and leader.  I was also a damn good teacher for MOST students.  Did I succeed with 100% of the students 100% of the time???   Probably not and the reason: I am human.  

        I have helped the union help the administration get rid of incompetent tenured teachers.  Several times!  So the notion it cannot be done is just stupid.  But the causes are not based on some test some company made.  It is too easy to manipulate, screw up factory produced tests.
        I have also seen some of the best and brightest teachers leave the profession because of parents insisting their child get a better grade (even if they did not earn it); insist their child not be suspended (even when they deserved it); insist their child be moved from teacher to teacher each time they (the parent) got angry at a teacher for that teacher disciplining their child.    Most often than not admin sided with the parents.
        Like all people, teachers, even the "bad" ones, deserve due process.  Documentation, honesty and hard work can get an incompetent teacher out as well as get an incompetent doctor, lawyer, nurse, police man etc out.  
        Do you fire doctors or nurses based on whether any of their patients die?   No because if we did no doctor or nurse would want to ever work with really sick patients who could die on their watch.  Well with merit pay and the threats leveled by NCLB I saw principals and teachers try to get rid of low performing students or keep them from coming to their schools.  I see how the front office looks at a new child now, thanks to testing.    It's like a child has a score tattooed on them when they enter.  The first thing many schools do now is look at the records of testing scores......the fact that a child has been homeless, or abused, or undernourished, or sick are all secondary to the almighty test scores which could determine school ranking, funding and if some of you get your way, the pay for the teachers.    
        Talk about setting up education for cheating. It's happening all ready.

        Yes, schools need reform......but none of it matters if we do not reform health care, poverty levels, and all the other things that greatly affect a child's chance at a successful education.

      •  Look at the evidence (0+ / 0-)

        saying that standardized testing undermines children's learning, especially complex skills and understanding of the issues.

        Conservatism = greed, hate, fear and ignorance

        by Joe B on Mon May 21, 2012 at 06:54:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Corporate leaders in America (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Black Max, Mostel26, slatsg

      have repeatedly demonstrated that they are often not very good at what they do. It doesn't surprise me at all to see some of them pursuing a self-defeating agenda in education or economic policy.

    •  If the masses are any more poorly educated (0+ / 0-)

      (which a for-profit education system will ensure) there will be no one left who would be willing to shop at Walmart who could actually afford to buy anything from Walmart except food, and maybe not even that.

      Wages will be depressed to the point that even at full employment levels the majority of workers will be earning an unlivable wage, and the Walton family cretins will have no customers left because the kids who go to private schools sure as hell won't be shopping at fucking Walmart.

      Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. Carl Sagan

      by sjburnman on Sun May 20, 2012 at 11:09:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  it appears that corporations rule... (15+ / 0-)

    ...literally...in America in 2012, it's official...corporations rule everything, ever since five of the most corrupt Supreme Court Injustices in American history (Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Kennedy & Roberts, in their Citizens United ruling/abomination/in-kind contribution to the Republican Party) decided that corporations can secretly give unlimited amounts of money for political purposes...apparently those corporations...and the billionaires that rule them...have decided to politely accept the Supreme Court Injustices invitation...to rule everything in our country...all based on pure greed.

    If America wasn't already one of the most corrupt countries in world history (in my opinion it already was), it sure is now.

  •  Thanks for this. (18+ / 0-)

    StudentsFirst ran ads in Iowa during the legislative session. Gov. Branstad (R) is pushing education "reform" with an emphasis on testing. He wants to hold 3rd graders back until they pass a reading test, ignoring research showing that this is a really bad idea. Branstad also wants to evaluate teachers based on their students' test scores and make it easier to remove teachers whose students score low.

    He's also promoting online learning provided by for-profit out-of-state corporations.

  •  Did someone say.. Pro Testing? (6+ / 0-)

    In a negative way?

    Really?

    Hast thou not heard of "Race To The Top"?  Obama's Education "Reform" and "Stimulus" all rolled into one?

    The cognitive dissonance, it hurts.

    There is a reason that Obama's Chiefs of Staff come from Wall Street Banks. And it has nothing to do with Change We Can Believe In.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:26:19 PM PDT

  •  No Child Failed for Profit (10+ / 0-)

    Lets fight against these so called education reformists where it hurts, their wallet.

    We have the technology to create a freely created, delivered and graded standardized test. lets drive the profit out of screwing over our children for their profit.

  •  It's meant to turn the non-wealthy (11+ / 0-)

    into persons only suitable for manual labor at the behest of the 1%.  Cut out or make student loans impossible to obtain and good colleges become something catering even more to the wealthy.  Keep the middle class down, eliminate the lower class or turn them into a pariah caste and the scions of the wealthy will take over the government permanently.  Ayn would be proud.

  •  the attack on public education is a part of the (14+ / 0-)

    attack on social security, medicare, medicaid, environmental and banking regulation, child labor laws, workers rights, women's rights, equality and so on. it is all about keeping the majority of citizens desperate and willing to suffer any indignity just to get by and slathering empowering the few to slather their lips and gullets with gravy as the train goes by. fuck em. bring on the class war and take 99% of walton and gates fortunes and watch their smiles of false altruism turn to bilious grimaces.

  •  Follow the money (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, wasatch, bkamr, tardis10, tikkun

    I think I've heard that somewhere.

  •  well, some of it is sheer profit-making... (8+ / 0-)

    ...without even the pretense of philanthropy. Some of it is ideology in the guise of philanthropy.

    And alotta the folks who are supporting, and selling, and implementing these programs? alotta those folks know that these programs are snake oil.

  •  This is just about too depressing to (5+ / 0-)

    contemplate. Some sectors of society look forward to multi-generational wealth, others to multi-generational heroin addictions. Aristocracy is a blight upon the earth.

    And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

    by TheFatLadySings on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:40:36 PM PDT

  •  Billionaire Philanthropy aside... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi, JeffW, BMarshall, tikkun

    I am curious about one thing...and I don't know it.  Hence my curiosity.

    How has spending per child on education changed, in constant dollars, from 1970 to present?  

    Are we spending the same, or more, but getting less in terms of results?  If so, why?  

    I know the teachers are a popular target.  The growth in administration positions that aren't directly involved in teaching is perhaps and issue...I say perhaps, because I don't know.  I only know that bureaucracies are like cancers...they grow because it is their nature to expand.

    How this relates to our schools I am not sure, but I suspect there is an impact.

    It seems the kids, in this equation, are the ones who get a free ride in public discourse on this subject.  It is taken for granted that they show up everyday ready, willing and eager to learn.

    I wonder if that's the case?  

    What if students aren't bringing the same attitudes and work ethic to the educational table as they once did?

    I know no parent wants to even consider that...but shouldn't it be at least looked into?

    Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:42:09 PM PDT

    •  I define spending per child thusly... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      Topline state spending on education divided by number of students...I'm not talking about resources in the classroom.  The budget starts with a topline number...and it gets divvied up as you work your way down through the bureaucracy.

      We spend a lot of money in "education" that has no educational purposes.  Count the school buses, for a start.

      Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:49:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In My Experience (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maf1029, Mostel26, Laura Wnderer

        politics have a big influence on administrators.  I've had administrators change my grades because parents complained that the work was too hard. (kids had homework missing and clearly hadn't studied throughout the pre-testing period.)  I've had kids tell me, "I'll get you fired" , when they failed tests.  (Every fifth grader knows that the way to get a teacher fired is to complain of inappropriate touching.)  I've seen kids sent back to teacher's classrooms within the hour of violently attacking teachers.  Ask any classroom teacher in an urban setting what kind of support they get from administrators.  

        Inclusion, a relatively recent "innovation" often means 25 kids in a classroom with intellectual capabilities of 79 to 139.  When that little design came out of Yale, there were 3 adults to a classroom; a regular teacher, a special ed teacher, and a special ed aid.  Properly done, inclusion is a very expensive proposition.  Of course as it made its way into public school dogma and process, it became a way for schools to cheap out special ed. gifted ed, and normal ed. with one teacher for everyone.

        Public schools are rapidly becoming the dumping ground for kids no other schools will tolerate.  In Ohio the money follows the child to charter schools and if the charter school keeps the kids until November, and then kicks them out, the charter school keeps the money.

        Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

        by tikkun on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:10:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Topline is not going to tell you much (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maf1029

        If you only look at topline spending, you won't really learn where the money goes, how much money goes where, etc.

        One big number you would want to know is the total increases in spending for special education, sometimes called resource or another education category.  In 1970, most school systems spent little or nothing.  Now, it's a huge part of the budget.

        •  Special Ed is also an unfunded mandate (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26

          in that while there are some federal funds earmarked for it, it's never actually enough to cover the special ed needs of the district. Special Ed pretty much always encroaches on the general fund (which is what pays for ordinary classrooms).

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

          by elfling on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:37:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  School buses? Funding a school is pointless (0+ / 0-)

        if the kids can't get there every day.

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

        by elfling on Mon May 21, 2012 at 08:16:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  or maybe (0+ / 0-)
      Are we spending the same, or more, but getting less in terms of results?  If so, why?  
      Testing indicates that results improve slightly every year no matter what we do.
    •  A great place to learn about this is (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ignacio Magaloni, Mostel26, Keith930

      http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/

      The first answer is: you can't compare in dollars alone, because the mission of schools has changed dramatically since 1970.

      In 1970, kids with disabilities and other special needs were not generally educated in public schools. Often ordinary but really poor children were written off as disabled or 'retarded' and not educated.

      Marion Wright Edelman (with an assist from young Hillary Clinton) and the Children's Defense Fund were instrumental in changing the law in the mid 1970's to ensure all children had access to public education.

      Anyone who wants to tell you that schools were in a golden age in the 50's, 60's, or 70's is certainly not thinking of a young hispanic girl or a young black boy.

      In addition, today we are requiring schools to have substantial IT infrastructure and to teach far more advanced and hands-on lessons than when we were kids. What was the elite track when I was a high school student in the 1980's is now the track ordinary kids are expected to master.

      More reading here:
      http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/...

      I think you're right to ask about the kids' investment in school and learning. A secondary factor is whether all the kids in a school are invested. An ordinary kid surrounded by kids who love learning and who are naturally on task is going to have a different experience than that same child in a class with 10 disruptive kids who openly resist the teacher. In my mind, this is one the hardest problems to solve in a way that serves all the kids well. (I also think this is not in any way a new problem; it's just that 30 years ago, we didn't worry about it.)

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

      by elfling on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:35:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm wondering how far into third world education (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dilutedviking, tikkun, maf1029, Mostel26

    US will have to drop before we finally wake up.  Will it be too late?  This began with Reagan's campaign for the dumbing of America.  Where will it end?

    •  Don't forget (7+ / 0-)

      that the affluent can afford to pay for private schools, where their kids get a well-rounded and excellent educational experience -- without standardized tests.

      This ain't about the elite.  It's about what we will do with poor and middle class kids.

      And most of the agenda is about controlling the "behavior" of these kids, outlining how they will be judged and what the gatekeepers want to see from them.

      The biggest threat to tomorrow's America is a populace that has grown up to think for themselves and realize the level of unfairness and injustice being perpetrated on the majority by a wealthy sliver of white folks.

      Keep those teachers on a treadmill where the only thing that matters are inane and useless test scores.

      Industrial food production in America ruins our health, our environment and consumes more fossil fuel than any segment of our economy.

      by Mi Corazon on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:05:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The stats show that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maf1029, Mostel26

      we do well by our well off and middle class kids. The kids who are failing the standardized tests are kids in poverty. The problem is, we have 25% of our kids living in poverty. The number is even higher if you count all the kids qualifying for free or reduced lunch.

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

      by elfling on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:40:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  like Carlin said... (6+ / 0-)

    they only want you JUST smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. Oh, and to know how to suck up, also.

  •  Tests aside, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, Justanothernyer

    if public schools were doing a competent job, these private initiatives, for profit or beneficent, would likely not have arisen. My experience as a university teacher is that two-thirds of the kids who arrive in my classrooms, the vast majority from well-funded suburban high schools, can neither read nor write well enough to do college-level work. The schools they attended failed them and then passed them out the door to us. In response, an entire industry has arisen to provide dumbed-down college coursework and paint-by-numbers study-aids for these non-achievers. I myself welcome nearly anything that will chip away at the existing edifice, which ought to be brought down in the hope that anything has to be better than what we've got. [Much more rant available on request].

    •  Tests aside (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BradyB, tikkun, maf1029, Mostel26

      If the primary schools were doing their job, two-thirds of the kids who arrive in my classrooms, the vast majority from local neighborhoods where parents profess to love their children, would be able to....... Blah, Blah, blah. Those K - 3 teachers failed them and then passed them out the door to us at the intermediate level. It most certainly is the fault of teachers who teach kindergarten, first and second grade students.......

      Please more rant hmi. I am waiting with baited breath for you to disseminate more of your  wisdom from on high.

      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 May 20, 2012 at 07:33:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What subject do you teach? n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:38:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A few problems with this (9+ / 0-)

      First, there is little evidence that private schools are necessarily better than public schools. Whether the students you teach are unprepared tells us little about the systematic dynamics here.  

      Second, the idea that no alternative arises unless there is some problem fulfilling the states functions is certainly not the case. That simply isn't how public policy works, and even if it was, it would mean the billions of of dollars being spent by these foundations to convince us that our schools are failing was wholly unnecessary.

      Your call for destruction of the American public schools system under the presumption that any alternative would be better is misguided.

      FWIW, I'd say that one of the major reasons why students come to college unprepared is a lifetime of being taught how to do well at standardized tests at the expense of the sort of skills that are useful for active citizenship and college. That is a legacy of the corporate reform agenda.

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

      by David Kaib on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:45:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maf1029, Bud Fields, Mostel26

        Not to mention that much of the reform agenda involves teaching the kids things that aren't true.

        For example, a friend of mine said that an eighth-grade teacher he knows told him that the state tells them to teach the students that states can nullify a federal law that they disagree with.  (Dead serious; this is actually what the state of Texas has in the eighth-grade curriculum.)

        So the children grow up to be... uh, Fox News-watching morons.  Then Republicans complain about kids being "indoctrinated" (read: told the truth) when they get to college.

        28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

        by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:19:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually the difference between (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maf1029, Bud Fields

        private, non-profit schools and public schools is that private schools can provide an arts and science education for students that public schools are no longer allowed to provide.  I find it ironic that many politicians who use public schools as whipping boys, send their own children to private non-profit schools with strong arts and science curricula.

        Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

        by tikkun on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:20:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My friend, the difference between private (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26, elfling

          schools and public schools is that private schools can choose who attends and public schools cannot.  Most private schools are very expensive so there is a socio-economic filter for starters.  And then they apply many other filters.  I loved the editorial by David Brooks about how all colleges should now be evaluated by student test scores - the guy has no clue that the Ivy League is the the Ivy League because they only select the highest performing students!  They can't be compared to other schools with different selection criteria.  Public schools have no selection criteria at all.

          •  I was speaking of grade schools and high schools (0+ / 0-)

            It appears you are referring to colleges and universities.  I would reiterate that public grade schools and high schools have little choice in what they teach.  Private  non-profit grade and high schools can choose what they will teach and most frequently provide well rounded arts and sciences curricula.

            There is absolutely no irony in the fact that people who can afford nationally rated colleges and universities or have the grades to get in, do so.  Needs diverge at the college level.  Different kinds of schools serve the needs of different kinds of students.  My daughter could not afford to attend a public university.  She did the necessary studying and activities leadership to be subsidized for a national level college.  It was the first school she attended where the majority of the students were her academic and ability peers which was a very important piece of her education.

            Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

            by tikkun on Mon May 21, 2012 at 06:17:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Just one nitpick: DEEPLY misguided. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        David Kaib

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Mon May 21, 2012 at 07:39:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I have been listening to this (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TDDVandy, elfling, Mostel26, Meteor Blades

      tired refrain for over 40 years.

      To paraphrase Will Rogers, "Education isn't as good as it used to be, but then it never was."

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:11:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  People wrote this same comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Meteor Blades

      back in the 1970's and 1980's. To the extent that it is true or not, it's not new.

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

      by elfling on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:42:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Public education can always be done better (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      it will never, in my lifetime, be good enough, because there is always another level to reach. Wouldn't it be great if all our kids  were getting A's in calculus their junior year? If we achieve our current goals, we will aim higher - as we should.

      But don't let that blind you to the fact that the people who make the standardized assessment tests have a vested interest in creating a crisis. If we thought all our schools were doing a great job, would we pay millions and millions of dollars every year to create and administer these tests? Would we spend millions of dollars every 5 years or so purchasing new curriculum to "align" with the new tests? No, we wouldn't.

      Understand: the "proficient" cutoff for these tests is not a static bar. They use percentiles and they design the questions to create some failure. If every 4th grader gets a particular question correct on the test, no one says, "Hooray, our students are learning and our schools are doing great!" No, what they say is, "Hmm, that question was too easy. We won't put it on next year's test."

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

      by elfling on Mon May 21, 2012 at 08:24:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This all started with vouchers. (8+ / 0-)

    People who sent their kids to private schools didn't want to pay the portion of property tax that covered public schools. The public took a dim view of that plan. So they said they would have vouchers for poor kids, in under-performing schools. That only partially worked because poor kids' parents didn't have enough money to make up the difference. Then charter schools became the answer. Meanwhile, there was money to be made providing tests, so they implemented No Child Left Behind. When the teachers started teaching to the test, education went to hell. Each year, more and more of what used to be a normal curriculum, is excised. It appears we've now just about completely evolved to having no public schools. Very disheartening.

    Your left is my right---Mort Sahl

    by HappyinNM on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:08:05 PM PDT

  •  But rich people are God's Chosen and know (3+ / 0-)

    better than us poor folk!

    There's a reason why the Jamie Dimon's of the world are more welcome into the halls government than poor ass serfs.

    NOW SHOWING
    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:10:16 PM PDT

  •  I'd make a comment about this diary and the (15+ / 0-)

    tests, but I'm a public school teacher -- so, I'm not allowed to.

    I had to sign a statement that if I say anything about the tests, I could lose my license to teach.  So, I can't say anything about the pineapple essay, or any of the essays I'm not supposed to be seeing or reading as I'm supposed to be walking up and down the aisles supervising the test ... making sure the students are filling in the right section of bubbles ... though how that is possible since I'm not even supposed to be reading the test AT ALL anymore ... I haven't figured out how we're supposed to do that BTW.

    Nice situation, huh?  The only people other than the students who can see the tests are now under threat of losing their licenses if they even read the tests over the students' shoulders -- let alone make a comment of any kind about them.

    I wonder if I'm still allowed to at least ask who is holding the testing companies accountable, as a taxpayer and parent?

    Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

    by bkamr on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:10:23 PM PDT

    •  Amen, bkamr. The public goes blithely along (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bkamr

      with this scheme with NO KNOWLEDGE whatsoever of what is being tested by the test and they don't even know they can't know because the test has to be secure.  It is beyond insane.  We truly live in a world gone mad.

  •  My Daughter is in 8th grade in California... (5+ / 0-)

    ... it is difficult to gauge whether budget cuts or the new primacy of standardized testing is most damaging to the school system.

    No question the system has been broken for some time.  The reasons are complex, varied, and often regional.  Many of the reasons don't even derive from the schools, but from economic and social ills that force even two-parent groups to exhaust themselves working to make ends meet while neglecting real supervision of their kids' educational progress - not because they are bad people or parents, but because they are simply stretched too thin.

    That aside, my Daughter's school is constantly having "off" days and "Shortened schedule" days designed to cope with budget cuts, while the teachers tailor their lessons to preparation for the standardized tests, rather than mastery of the subject.  It's simply another stampede to the middle that kills creativity in favor of military-like conformity.  It also punishes students in lower-income areas, where these problems are more prevalent and budgets are already even more stretched to the limit.  

    Yet, real problems in the system go unchecked.  The local school system here still has a seniority and tenure-based system that rewards time in over quality of work.  Many of her best teachers are young, and at risk of losing their jobs first in the next cut, while one particularly objectionable lifer who exhibited nothing but contempt for her students at the yearly PTA night, is eternally safe and the highest paid.  

    I don't know what the answers are, but a flawed system of standardized testing that leaves the undeserved even moreso is an affront to justice.  I was most offended by that "sweepstakes" approach in Obama's first educational initiative.  Fortunately, I haven't heard much about it recently.  

    "I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was." - Mitt Romney

    by Deighved H Stern MD on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:10:28 PM PDT

    •  you know of one particularly bad older teacher... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdxteacher, tikkun, maf1029, Mostel26

      ...and in your mind all experienced senior teachers are the problem. Gee My experience has been different than yours. My experience has been that senior teachers are the experts and younger teachers, though energetic and committed to becoming master teachers, are not as effective and can learn a lot from those with experience and expertise.

      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 May 20, 2012 at 07:42:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow are you a bit touchy here. I don't think the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justanothernyer

        comment you are referring to was meant to indicate that all senior teachers are bad and all younger teachers are good.  The point, I believe, is that in a tenure system that always protects senior teachers over younger teachers, mistakes will be made that will ultimately be detrimental to students and something should be done to reward and keep good teachers and get rid of bad teachers regardless of how long they have been teaching.  My experience is that sometimes senior teachers are good and sometimes they aren't and the same can be for younger teachers.

        "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

        by helpImdrowning on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:29:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  tenure is necessary (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TDDVandy, maf1029, Mostel26

          see all the teachers' comments about the climate in a school.

          tell me who else would go to work every day without some form of protection, knowing that if they disagree with the administration, or give the wrong grade to the right kid, they are out of a job.

          while tenure may keep teachers who should have moved on long ago, it also keeps teachers who actually know how to do their job, and are willing to educate students, no matter public or administrator opinion.

          considering our pay cuts/freezes, increased (non-teaching) workload and all the other "perks" of the position, at least give us this.

          because really, most of us don't get summers off either.

          •  "who else would go to work every day without some (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            helpImdrowning

            form of protection?"

            Most of those who work in the private sector.

            •  Exactly. i don't know of any job in the private (0+ / 0-)

              sector where an employee is protected from being laid off or fired.  Some may have a contract that guarantees employment for a specified period of time but even those typically have clauses which provide for the termination of that contract under various and sundry circumstances.

              I am a huge fan of the teaching profession.  I have had many great teachers, some average teachers, and some bad teachers.  I believe there should be some mechanism to get rid of bad teachers and cannot comprehend how those who are good teachers could object to this.

              "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

              by helpImdrowning on Mon May 21, 2012 at 02:52:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Mistakes are always made in very system. (0+ / 0-)

          I am not aware that some perfect system in any enterprise that involves human beings has been designed yet.

    •  The real problem is that layoffs are in the (0+ / 0-)

      picture at all. I assume your school is not experiencing declining enrollment such that fewer teachers would be indicated and appropriate.

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

      by elfling on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:45:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A slight disagreement or two. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      helfenburg, Mostel26

      Tenure is A problem, in as you rightly indicate, a minority percentage. Using the notion that elimination of tenure is a correction to the quality of the educational experience of your children is a strawman. It does need some correction, to be sure, but it will only hurt the entirety of the profession if eliminated. That is experience speaking, not opinion.

      Secondly, there can be no doubt as to the largest current problem facing public education in America. There are two:

      1. Drastic, and continued budget-cutting at every possible level.
      2. Student who cannot be prepared to learn, because of every other facet of their existence.

      Nurse Kelley says my writing is brilliant and my soul is shiny - who am I to argue?
      Economic
      Left/Right: -7.75
      Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.51

      by Bud Fields on Mon May 21, 2012 at 01:18:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You know, when you were a child, were all the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling

      parents in your neighborhood really oh so busy providing real supervision of how their children were doing in school?  I don't remember that world.  I grew up in the 50s and 60s.  Some kids were smart and very successful in school, others not so much.  Some children are academically motivated, others not.  Everyone's different and I guess it's their god-given right to be who and what they are and if it doesn't produce exceptional performance in school, then so be it.  The idea that every child should perform to some same standard and a very high one at that is quite pernicious and false to begin with.

  •  The narcissism that comes with wealth. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dilutedviking, JeffW

    "Yet now, having succeeded as individuals on that basis, they act as if their success is not just independent of but an evolutionary step beyond all those facts, and seek to reshape the world to match that view."

    This is the age old social pathology that humans have faced again and again and in innumerable forms.  It seems that a true and robust democracy is the only way that a societies' wealth can be distributed in both a fair and meritocratic way.  That is--"If you can keep it."

    In the GOP your status is inversely proportional to your integrity.

    by anothergreenbus on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:12:32 PM PDT

  •  Re (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi, Justanothernyer, theseum
    Creating a more equal society is the way to improve educational outcomes across the board.
    Well then the best thing to do is throw up our hands and not bother doing anything then, right? If we can blame class issues for every possible failure in public schooling, no one has to bother figuring out how to actually improve the situation. (See hmi's note below about suburban reasonably well off students who cannot read and write effectively).

    (-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 May 20, 2012 at 07:14:05 PM PDT

    •  see my response to hmi... MH... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maf1029, Mostel26

      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 May 20, 2012 at 07:46:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are confused (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TDDVandy, BradyB, maf1029, Mostel26

      When people say

      Creating a more equal society is the way to improve educational outcomes across the board.
      they aren't throwing up their hands and saying nothing can be done. They are diagnosing the problem and offering a solution. The issue isn't whether inequality is to blame for all the problems (which this quote doesn't even remotely suggest) it is rather to point to the most fundamental.  Those who want to ignore the most fundamental issue are the one's standing in the way of actually solving it.

      It's worth noting that major improvements can be made simply by increasing economic integration of neighborhoods or even schools. These are eminently solvable problems.

      HMI's comment based on personal experience does not override actual research that suggests that American students who are well off do as well if not better than students from anywhere in the world.  

      Needless to say the actual arguments made here are far stronger than your misreadings of them make them sound.  

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

      by David Kaib on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:53:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Eminently Solvable Problems (0+ / 0-)

        "It's worth noting that major improvements can be made simply by increasing economic integration of neighborhoods or even schools. These are eminently solvable problems."

        I'm curious as to how you would go about solving this problem.  Where I'm from, rich kids go to private schools.  Since outlawing private schools would be morally questionable and politically unfeasible, it seems to me that the only way to "increase economic integration" is to pay for middle class and poor kids to attend private schools...  but of course, this would be DESTROYING THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM!!!

        •  Well for one (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TDDVandy

          you could integrate everyone but the rich kids (i.e. those in the system).  But magnets that offer specialized opportunities have been successful in bringing people back to the public school system.

          (Not sure what's with the all caps, but yes, using vouchers to send everyone to private schools instead of public school would, obviously, destroy the public education system.)

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

          by David Kaib on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:27:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Unfortunately (0+ / 0-)

            Due to the ongoing evisceration of the middle class, "everyone but the rich kids" increasingly means "the poor kids".

            Even in NYC, which has some of the best public schools in the world, you won't find too many kids at those schools from upper income brackets.

          •  Or, simply (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            David Kaib

            You can actually achieve some level of economic integration simply by rezoning "traditional" schools to that effect.

            For example, the school district I live in has 40 percent economically disadvantaged students, and the three high schools in the district are all around that number -- in spite of the fact that there are neighborhoods with vast disparities in income throughout the district.  But the district intentionally draws the attendance boundaries in an effort to ensure balance, rather than having one school with a small number of economically disadvantaged students and another with a large number.

            28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

            by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:48:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  well... yeah... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maf1029

          Except where is the evidence that private schools are actually better at educating students than public schools?

          Students from upper-middle-class backgrounds are generally the ones attending private schools.  Students from upper-middle-class backgrounds also tend to do well in public schools.

          Is there any evidence that children from poor backgrounds actually do better in private schools?

          28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

          by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:45:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  One thing private schools do have (0+ / 0-)

            Is very serious college counseling departments.  That's kind of what it's all about.

            •  Another thing that private schools have (4+ / 0-)

              is a whole lot of college-bound students.

              You're addressing the wrong end of the problem.  I think that our schools actually focus too much on college prep when many students might be more interested in vocational education.  There's nothing "wrong" with getting a high school diploma and training for a career along with it, and it's sad that we've given up on this and outsourced it to for-profit career training schools -- why on earth can't we just do this in the public high schools?

              (Never mind that even if our public schools DID have very serious college counseling departments, many kids can't afford to go to college -- and if they do they're in the hands of the for-profit student loan industry.)

              28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

              by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:03:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Community colleges get no respect (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Justanothernyer, maf1029, Sparhawk

                But they do good work in this area, usually better than the for-profit shysters.

                •  Yes. (0+ / 0-)

                  But because our states don't fund them enough, there's not enough space for everybody and probably not enough programs.  Hence why you end up with the for-profit shysters.

                  But, the right thinks that low taxes are more important than investing in the people.  Rick Perry brags about balancing the budget without raising taxes, but he did it with massive cuts to public education.

                  28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

                  by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:29:52 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Well, no, but instead of tests, you might start (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      working to do a better job of ensuring that all children have adequate medical and dental care and clothing and reliably adequate nutrition, because I teach in a wealthy suburb of Wash DC and right here in River City my friend are many children for whom this is not the case.

  •  profit trumps all other considerations... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pdxteacher

    the people who want to destroy the public education system don't give rat's ass about the implication of what they are doing, beyond the next quarterly statement.

    They want profits now, and don't give a damn if they sentencing future generations to third world status. That isn't their problem.

    The funny thing is how this ties into other things like climate change denial, as the motivation there is exactly the same. As long as polluters like the elderly Koch brothers can be reasonably certain that the effects won't really kick in until after they are dead, they have no financial incentive to do anything but oppose green initiatives that might cut into their profits.

    Mitt Romney treats people like things. And he treats things - corporations - like people.

    by richardak on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:32:23 PM PDT

  •  Of course (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zaka1, pdxteacher, helfenburg, Mostel26

    The purpose of all the testing is to convince us that the schools are bad, and need to be reformed (read: privatized.)

    28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:41:18 PM PDT

    •  Or to eliminate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TDDVandy

      children who are not in the top percentile and/or have learning disabilities from getting ahead in life.  When children are pitted against each other to compete early in life it eliminates those that might be late bloomers and it emotionally scars their confidence from an early age.

      "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolution­ary act. " George Orwell

      by zaka1 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:51:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zaka1, helfenburg

        I think one of the issues with our educational system is that we focus far too much on the top end.  Too much focus on advanced placement, preparing the top students for college, and not enough focus on preparing average (more or less) students for productive careers.

        Also, nobody seems to notice that staking teachers' careers to test results will make the best teachers flock to upper-middle-class schools.  Talk about the rich getting richer...

        28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

        by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:03:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As a person (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TDDVandy, elfling

          in their fifties with dyslexia I can speak of what has been going on since the 60's in education.  It was right about the time I hit middle school that they divided the classes up according to how you rated, we were labeled in sixth grade as 6'1s, 6'2s, etc., and the 6'4s were ignored and were not taught at the same level as those who were considered cream of the crop.  I remember being told in class that we were lazy and stupid and didn't try hard enough.  We were humilated and treated with distain and this is now so mainstream in our society that we throw away children before they even get a chance to bloom in their own way.

          By the way, by the time I got to my twenties I figured out my learning style and today have a Master's degree from UIC, it wasn't easy, but I was determined.  Of course by the time I graduated they were then down grading degreed people as not being good enough or not being from the right school.  It is a never ending cycle that is now destroying us as a nation.

          "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolution­ary act. " George Orwell

          by zaka1 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:06:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The funny thing is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            zaka1

            We largely still DO "track" students, and now we even make it official.  My mom once told me that when she was in high school, they weren't told that they were tracked, but it was completely obvious to everyone.

            Now they label classes as "honors" and "AP."

            28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

            by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:13:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yep, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TDDVandy

              we are treated just like cattle, there is prime rib and then there is pink slime.  But, in our society that is how judgment is doled out and I wish with all my heart it would have changed by now, but instead it has only gotten worse.  I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees this happening in our society.  

              And the thing is, if your one the lucky ones you would never have any idea of what the plight of others are, nor would you understand their struggles, but you would be made a leader of all those who struggle.  Which is why I think we are in such a horrible state both politically and financially.  

              "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolution­ary act. " George Orwell

              by zaka1 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:53:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Actually... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                zaka1

                To be fair, I was placed in the gifted program in middle school and took mostly honors and AP classes in high school.

                Of course, by the time I graduated I had grown sick of the pricks who felt like the kids in "standard" courses were beneath them.  I actually went out of my way to hang around with some of those kids.  Turns out they were more fun to be around.

                28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

                by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:30:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill

    It started out strong, and I was excited to see where it was going, because I wanted to forward it to my co-workers, so that they could see what's really happening in our district, our state, and in the nation.

    However, there was so much more that didn't get said, that I don't think the diary would serve my purpose.  It works for DK readers, because they already know what's going on, but it won't make the connection for the teachers at my school, that our new, "rigorous" curriculum does not come from a benign source.

    I would deeply appreciate having a clear, well-supported explanation that would make it obvious to those many teachers who simply go along politely, no matter what rot they're told, that these changes are not only deliberate, but darkly destructive.

  •  This is just ridiculous (0+ / 0-)

    If testing and reform are good, then the fact that it is driven by billionaires is utterly irrelevant.

    If the status quo is bad, than the fact that it is defended by unions is also irrelevant.

    What is relevant are the answers to these questions:

    1.  Is the public education system serving all students adequately?

    Clearly, the answer to this is no.

    2.   Do we know how to fix the educational system?

    The answer to this also appears to be no.

    3.  What can we do to get answers to question 2 consistent with real world constraints?

    •  In a democracy (4+ / 0-)

      whether policy is driven by the whims of billionaires is decidedly on point.

      Aside from that, I have no idea why you think we don't know how to improve the educational system.

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

      by David Kaib on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:07:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  okay (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      See, you operate from the assumptions that testing and reform are good, and the status quo is bad.

      That the schools are bad is mostly a myth perpetrated by the right wing.  They do this because (a) they hate unions, and (b) they hate government, and think that the private sector can do both better than the government can.

      Look at the areas of our government that have been privatized.  Are our prisons better because many of them are run by private companies and the guards at private prisons aren't unionized?

      So what makes you think that our schools will work better if they're run by private companies and the teachers aren't unionized?

      28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

      by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:14:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What crap... (0+ / 0-)
        That the schools are bad is mostly a myth perpetrated by the right wing.
        6 out of every 100 high school freshman in Chicago graduate college.

        Yeah...no problem...

        •  You ever consider (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26

          that the fact that colleges have become unaffordable for average American families might have something to do with that?

          Anyway, part of the problem is that we assume graduating college is the be-all, end-all of education.  There is nothing "wrong" with getting a high school diploma and entering the workforce.  Now, if you want to talk about our high schools doing a poor job of preparing students to enter the workforce or the fact that there aren't a whole lot of jobs available for those with only a high school diploma, we're on to a different subject there.  Of course many companies are relocating overseas because they don't see our workers as having the job skills necessary to match their wage demands, which is not a problem in countries like Germany that DO invest in their people (including those who aren't college-bound.)

          28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

          by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:21:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Since When Is Graduating College (0+ / 0-)

          Compulsory for all workers? Only about a third of American adults have college degrees. If 6 out of 10 Chicago high school students are not only going to college, but finishing up their studies ...

          "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

          by bink on Mon May 21, 2012 at 04:21:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  consider this.... (0+ / 0-)

            Difference between not graduating HS and graduating college:

            $1 million in life time earnings...

            47X more likely to be in prison...

            your life will be 10 years shorter....

            yeah....college is a bad bet..

      •  The status quo is bad because (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TDDVandy

        a fraction (not a majority but not a negligible number) graduate from high schools without the skills that they need to function in our society.

        Reform (i.e. change) of some sort would seem to be good as a result.  As for testing, it is hardly a panacea; but some form of testing and evaluation would seem a logical way to ascertain things that work better and worse.  (On the other hand, we don't seem to be so good at testing either.)

        With regard to your other point the evidence suggests that being run by private companies does not  improve schools.  The question of whether schools would work better if the teachers aren't unionized is one that has not been studied, as far as I know.   My intuition is that lack of unionization would not have a universal effect one way or the other.

        One thing I will note, is that both your comment and mine dealt with the substantive questions, not who is lining up behind what policy.  

        •  I am in agreement with most of this (0+ / 0-)

          But, as I've stated elsewhere, I support reform WITHIN the existing public school structure rather than through charter schools and vouchers.

          There are problems with public education, but it is incorrect to assume that the problem with public education is that it is run by the government and the teachers are unionized.

          28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

          by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:26:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Start by asking teachers what works (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TDDVandy, pdxteacher, Mostel26

      and what doesn't. Then take their answers seriously. Something the Rhees and Duncans don't do, as much as they may bray and trumpet about the "heroic teachers" on the "front lines" of education.

  •  Charter schools aren't the enemy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cheez Whiz, TDDVandy, Justanothernyer

    I went to a CES affiliated school, and everybody involved there was doing amazing work (mostly charter schools though not all.)

    Even Michelle Rhea and TFA and Bill Gates are honestly, if unsuccessfully, trying to help.

    •  It's certainly valid (3+ / 0-)

      Some charter schools are good.

      On the other hand, Deion Sanders is starting a charter school in Dallas.  Based on an article in the Dallas Observer, it doesn't sound as though Sanders' main concern is the quality of education.

      28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

      by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:04:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You don't know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TDDVandy

      what Rhee's and Gates's intentions are. Neither do I. But whether their intentions are good or bad is irrelevant.  

      (Like most progressives, I don't think all charters are bad. I think the charter movement and the corporate ed agenda of which it is a part is making things worse.)

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

      by David Kaib on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:11:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree, their intentions are irrelevant (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Balto, Justanothernyer

        Diaries like this one always feel like conspiracy theory rants to me.  I'd rather see discussion of how to improve education, what works, what doesn't, than psychoanalysis of Bill Gates and exhortations to "follow the money!"

        And you might be right that most progressives don't that all charters are bad, but I see a lot of vitriol towards anybody who isn't a card carrying member of the teachers union in most of these threads.

        •  Have you noticed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26

          that pretty much all of the education "reforms" that anyone is pushing just happen to include:

          -busting unions
          -some form of "school choice" in the form of charter schools and vouchers (i.e. tax dollars sent to private institutions)

          Do you not think this is a coincidence?  I know, YOU really want to make the schools better, but you have accepted the right's myths about the problems with our educational system.  And many of the people propagating this reform really are not interested in making the schools better, but in greasing a few palms.

          Again, look at what's been privatized that used to be government-run and see if the privatization has actually made these things better or more efficient.

          28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

          by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:10:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I wouldn't say "coincidence" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Justanothernyer

            But it's not some kind of sinister plot, either.

            And putting "school choice" in scare quotes is exactly the kind of presumption of bad faith that I'm talking about.  I personally hated traditional school, am grateful for the school that I attended, and think everybody ought to have the same opportunity.

            •  Let me clarify by saying (0+ / 0-)

              I support school choice and reform, but within the existing public school structure, through magnet schools, etc.  I think arbitrarily assigning students to a school based on where they live is silly and outdated, and perhaps we can work to change this and instead create schools more to fit students' needs.  Interested in science?  There's a school for that.  Interested in working on cars?  There's a school for that, too.

              But much of what the right wing does or wants to do is not done in good faith.  Again, look into some of the problems with private prisons and defense contractors.  They're not doing the job any better than the government would, and in many cases are doing it worse, but now some corporation is allowed to get tax dollars to do what the government used to do.  This is what they want to do with education as well.  Unfortunately some do-gooders on the left have bought into this line of thought because they really DO want to increase educational opportunities for our children.

              28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

              by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:41:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Neil Bush (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TDDVandy, Black Max

    Dubya's brother got into the testing/curriculum business right after No Child Left Behind passed.  The parents might have offered up an investment nest egg?  At any rate, Neil was also known for a role in a bank boondoggle: Silverado Bank.  (Might be a bit off from memory:  Not in the mood to research a comment.)

    Grab all the joy you can. (exmearden 8/10/09)

    by Land of Enchantment on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:59:52 PM PDT

  •  I worked for Eli Broad at SunAmerica in the (5+ / 0-)

    90's as an investment research analyst.  His philosophy is to pit his employees against one another because he believes that is how you get the best out of people.  He also believes that humiliating people in front of their business associates also encourages better employee performance.  Fortunately, I was never the victim of this approach, but I did see it happen to others many times.  My point is that this is not the kind of man I would want having any input regarding children's education policies.  People's philosophies typically reflect the kind of person they are in every aspect of their life.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

    by helpImdrowning on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:08:02 PM PDT

  •  In other words, being good at one thing (0+ / 0-)

    (making money) does not mean you are an expert on everything.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:17:24 PM PDT

  •  They remain... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pdxteacher
    They remain people who inherited or made billions of dollars in the corporate world. Their political beliefs, left or right, remain intact, and their philanthropic giving typically supports those beliefs.
    Breaking! This Just In:  Leopards Rarely Change Their Spots.

    See Also:

    Bernanke, Summers, Geithner, Holder, Three Chiefs of Staff from Wall Street Banks, Monsanto Lobbyist @ FDA, Simpson, etc.

    There is a reason that Obama's Chiefs of Staff come from Wall Street Banks. And it has nothing to do with Change We Can Believe In.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:28:17 PM PDT

  •  As a retired teacher with 34 years of service, (9+ / 0-)

    I can answer Justanothernyer's comment....What is relevant are the answers to these questions:

    1.  Is the public education system serving all students adequately?

    Clearly, the answer to this is no.

    2.   Do we know how to fix the educational system?

    The answer to this also appears to be no.

    3.  What can we do to get answers to question 2 consistent with real world constraints?

    Answer 1. It's not but it can.

    Answer 2. Yes, we do know how, but both the public and their leaders don't want to afford it. Yet it's an investment to:  a) lower class size to no more than 20 students per teacher -- preferably 10 to 15.  To keep crowding the same 30 per classroom, or as many as 40 per class for twelve -- twelve-- years is to structure failure.

    Two kinds of studies have been replicated and have NEVER been disproven since the 30's and 40's. They are definitive and  have always yielded the same result. First are the studies done on class size. Lower class size is one of two most valid and reliable indicators that achievement. So lower class size. That means hiring more teachers. No one wants to spend the money. Colleges dropped the ball by closing schools of education in the 70's and 80's.

    The other kind of study is the Time On Task study which shows that, no matter the socioeconomic status of any students, sufficient time on task causes achievement. It has never been disproven, either. Implementing this might mean having longer time in core courses -- reading, writing, math, science, business and history/civics -- per day, per year. We could have a 15-year pre-college education system. Why keep cramming the exponentially increasing knowledge we accrue into the same 12 years. But time on task results don't work with large crowds. No one wants to afford more teachers for lower class sizes, so no one wants to afford more time on task structuring, either.

    Answer 3. The real world constraints are the reason the above two answers are not implemented.

    You can't keep wanting to stick with 'real world constraints' and get a different result.

    When you want to leave the insanity bubble, you will find out that a country 300 times the size of Finland can get Finland's results.

    But it costs up front. If we can spend $50,000 or more per year for prisoners 'on the back end,' why won't we spend that per year for children 'on the front end.' Because we're stupid about public spending.

    We have the answers. But we keep wanting something for nothing. You get what you pay for. There are plenty of educationally successful countries that do invest more in their children and their learning structures than does the USA. We cheap out on our kids and think they'll pick up the slack. Same with the teachers.

    The science is in, but the 'problem' never gets solved because the public and their leaders won't devote the money and peoplepower enough to implement them.

    No one can tell me it won't work. No one. It's never been tried here.  

    •  The 1% paid attention to these studies (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TDDVandy, Mostel26

      and the structures of their private schools do mirror the excellent results of other educationally successful countries. That's why Obama's mom and grandparents sent him to the best, most expensive schools.

      What billionaires won't tell the rest of society is that they deeply believe that they can never spend too much money on their own children's educations -- paying for lower class size, more time on task, with no perks ever denied for 'enrichment' studies and activities, boarding school life --  while they pile on the money to prevent restructuring public schools the same way. They use "cost/benefit", "bang-for-buck" analyses -- because that's what the cheapskate public will swallow.

      What they do is this, even if it takes a generation:
          Defund.  'Reform.' Stigmatize. Privatize.

      That's how they eliminate the 'competition.' No, it's not rational. It's political and self-interested. Face it, everyone. All the above-discussed mystifications work in their favor.  

      •  Most of the cheerleaders for education reform (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lily O Lady

        at least, those who are not among the 1%, seem to be oblivious to all of this.  It really is simply about privatization and not about making the schools better.

        28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

        by TDDVandy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:05:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  another success for invisible RW talk radio (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bud Fields, Mostel26

    this all has to run through the filter of democratic process, which requires that they create misinformed constituencies to enable their bought politicians.

    this anti ed/teachers crap has been sold for years on RW radio while the left was listening to music. and a lot of it on radio stations that depend on university sports to give it community credibility. how fucking ironic.

    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 Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:09:23 PM PDT

  •  Just think if all that lobbyist money went (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TDDVandy

    straight to augmenting teacher salaries....

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

    by magnetics on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:33:18 PM PDT

  •  Interesting that scholarships are no longer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bud Fields

    fashionable as front line education philanthropy.

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

    by elfling on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:08:34 PM PDT

  •  The winners of state mandatory testing are.... (0+ / 0-)

    The educational publishing corporations.

    Your  taxes at work.

  •  Sorry, Folks (0+ / 0-)

    But none of these people, from Bill Gates to Michelle "Rhee" on down, cares about the kids. The who teaching equation sort of starts there.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Mon May 21, 2012 at 04:18:49 AM PDT

  •  "let only those who can pay go to school" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26

    Yesterday visited with wife's relatives that are Christian (tm) and Republican and their idea (obvously fed from Faux news) was that only those that can pay for school go go school so that the rest of the people (immigrants, homeless, etc) are being paid for by everyone else.  For sake of family unity, I just left the room.

    Two quotes I wish to live by "Strength and Honor" (Gladiator) and "Do or Do Not, There is no Try" (SW-ESB).

    by SQD35R on Mon May 21, 2012 at 10:02:35 AM PDT

  •  Excellent perspective (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26

    As a teacher, I have no control of the conditions that impact a child (i.e. family stuff, poverty, etc.) If these fat-cats want to really help a kid in the classroom, give their parents a job w/ benefits that pays a decent wage.

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Mon May 21, 2012 at 10:48:19 AM PDT

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