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I do not claim it is of any great importance, but since I am involved, I thought I might mention it.

Last fall a friend who was the faculty editor of Academe, a publication of the American Association of University Professors, asked if I would as I had retired from teaching write a piece telling college professors what to expect from the students now arriving at their institutions, having spent their education under the strictures of No Child Left Behind and its progeny.  It went up on their website in early February, people asked if it could be republished or crossposted (yes, with appropriate credit and a link to the original).  That let to Valerie Strauss posting this piece at her Answer Sheet Blog.  It went viral. It got over 100,000 Likes on Facebook, several times that number of page views.  I got several hundred direct communications, was interviewed live on radio shows and for college papers and documentaries. I was invited to be the keynote speaker for a retreat of the faculty teaching the mandatory freshman seminar at an elite college.  

A few days ago the piece suddenly took off again.  As far as I can tell, the Post did nothing to promote it.  One of my former students did a Facebook post about the piece.  Since Wednesday it has gotten another 32,000 Likes on Facebook, I have received several dozen direct communications, and it is still among the most popular pieces on the local section of the Washington Post, having been the 3rd most read piece on the entire site on Wednesday.  It is again being redistributed, I am being asked permission to include it in college and graduate school materials.

Of course, as regular readers here know I have un-retired and will be back in the classroom shortly.  As a result I have written a followup piece for Valerie Strauss that will appear either Sunday or Monday as things now stand.  

When I checked, I could find tens of thousands of references to the Post version of the piece, and hundreds to the original.  

I was somewhat surprised when the piece took off last February.  I absolutely do not understand why that has happened again.

Not complaining.  It is somewhat humbling to realize that hundreds of thousands of people are reading something you wrote.

Make of it what you will.  I do not claim to understand the phenomenon.


Originally posted to teacherken on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 10:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by Education Alternatives and Teachers Lounge.

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  •  Tip Jar (235+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, Ray Pensador, Free Jazz at High Noon, linkage, schumann, tardis10, CroneWit, sc kitty, Minnesota Deb, exiledfromTN, Dave in Columbus, fixxit, WheninRome, Born in NOLA, Gemina13, greengemini, mofembot, SueM1121, shesaid, karendc, CcVenussPromise, Deathtongue, quaoar, Alice Venturi, jan4insight, bastrop, CenPhx, defluxion10, Shockwave, LeftHandedMan, oldliberal, annieli, dennis1958, FG, JVolvo, Brecht, My Spin, Emerson, Jim P, JML9999, twigg, gmats, Actbriniel, myboo, sap, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, shaharazade, fumie, blueoregon, justsayjoe, DerAmi, AaronInSanDiego, kaliope, jayden, mauricehall, peachcreek, Dumbo, sawgrass727, Marko the Werelynx, begone, Ignacio Magaloni, salmo, shenderson, David54, outragedinSF, Bob Love, countwebb, duhban, Rosaura, bakeneko, onionjim, ichibon, BlueDragon, Leftleaner, tom 47, Just Bob, jadt65, chloris creator, kurt, expatjourno, msdobie, Crashing Vor, rmonroe, basquebob, Shelley99, pvasileff, TexMex, jcrit, dance you monster, Lily O Lady, bumbi, Vetwife, ypsiCPA, Terri, CwV, One Pissed Off Liberal, P Carey, DRo, LI Mike, zenox, Foundmyvoice, mmacdDE, emmasnacker, bronte17, DefendOurConstitution, OleHippieChick, bluesheep, bluedust, Laura Wnderer, shortgirl, Aunt Pat, ranger995, dicentra, OllieGarkey, eru, celdd, Texknight, Temmoku, Ian Reifowitz, UTvoter, stevenwag, GreyHawk, Ozymandius, SusiesPurl, spacecadet1, nupstateny, anodnhajo, dotsright, SottoVoce, Odysseus, Powered Grace, artisan, slowbutsure, CoolOnion, lcrp, petulans, Alumbrados, karmsy, LynChi, kerflooey, Debs2, tle, political mutt, checkerspot, kck, Oaktown Girl, JeffW, LSmith, Glass Navel, radarlady, MinistryOfTruth, Tom Anderson, Texas Lefty, JDWolverton, smrichmond, Shippo1776, NearlyNormal, native, Oh Mary Oh, mjbleo, certainot, CT Hank, Kevskos, StrayCat, zerelda, Mighty Ike, nother lurker, Shotput8, annan, hotdamn, Matilda, Joieau, wenchacha, bbctooman, Hunter Huxley, Its a New Day, i saw an old tree today, wordwraith, old wobbly, Chun Yang, bythesea, fiercefilms, bibble, fugwb, CanyonWren, gfre, OldSoldier99, northerntier, gulfgal98, Catte Nappe, Paul Ferguson, orestes1963, Aaa T Tudeattack, JayC, Ckntfld, Sunspots, bkamr, NapaJulie, ItsSimpleSimon, annetteboardman, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, ccasas, psnyder, indres, dejavu, tegrat, cocinero, thomask, GAS, TarheelDem, Sailorben, oceanview, elziax, northsylvania, elginblt, JamieG from Md, FloridaSNMOM, Ree Zen, edsbrooklyn, doingbusinessas, Tunk, NYC Sophia, peacestpete, Jorybu, Lefty Ladig, kevinpdx, yellow cosmic seed, tovan, magnetics, bluezen, CalBearMom, eagleray, Mostel26, ColoTim, TexDem

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 10:05:22 PM PDT

  •  It's because you are wise and mellow, teacherken (39+ / 0-)

    and it makes me smile to know that so many people are reading your words and benefiting  from your knowledge.

    Mazel Tov!

  •  i don't think it's weird ... (16+ / 0-)

    i think it's wonderful that more people are discovering your thoughts on NCLB.  virtual pat on the back from me!  well done, sir!

    Faux News ruined my state

    by sc kitty on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 10:29:49 PM PDT

  •  Good for you! (9+ / 0-)

    The lesson to us all--speak up! Sometimes the message gets through.

    For most of us it's a letter to the editor, or something as small as replying to the office ditto-head with a reality based response.

    For you, it has been much bigger.  Humbling maybe, but deserved.

    "I wonder why Congress again in a new poll out today--11% approval rating. (It's) because they don't work for us. They work for the sons-of-bitches who pay them." Cenk Uygur

    by Dave in Columbus on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 10:31:13 PM PDT

  •  It's not weird. (15+ / 0-)

    Good stuff stands on its own and timing is different for different people. You can't stay glued to FB all day, so you can't catch every post if you have a lot of stuff on your feed.

    Besides, repetition makes a dent.


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

      for a lifetime of experience, which you have applied to the problems that confront you and thoughtfully worked through them with much healthy feedback from your community here and elsewhere. What surprises me is that it doesn't happen more often.  There are many writers here on DK that have wonderful insights but they are often lost in the cross-fire.

      I had a similar experience in 2000.  I helped a friend create a webpage that essentially was a documented article about a very famous lynching in Marietta, Georgia.  The piece was so controversial at a time of serious political polarization because the information my friend had found (he has a doctorate in history and worked as a reference librarian at the Atlanta Public Library when I first knew him. He writes book reviews now, and I've not heard from him in years).  The website was revealing the real men behind the lynching and many of those men were grandparents of priminent political players in Georgia at the time the website went live, so I never even put my name on it.  I was not interested in being swamped with hate mail and wanted to just get the site up and go away. Six months after it went live he was interviewed for the front page of the Wall Street Journal because the website had exposed a truth that could not be refuted, and suddenly I found our site had been mentioned in more than 70 newspapers.

      I spent the next several months as an unpaid correspondent as we received many personal accounts from people who remembered the event or had heard so much about it and a few people were angry that the truth revealed an ugly side of Marietta, but the documents really did show that there was a quiet coverup and a framing of the victim  - probably because he was "different" and an outsider.  

      It takes more than just conviction to speak up and speak out, though. It takes time, and that may not be something you have nearly enough of to handle the barrage of comments. Find a way to minimize the load on yourself. I was not smart enough to do that and it cost me six months of my life.  Find a student or a young person to help you.  They will learn something in the process. Today, with social media, there is a better way, thankfully!

      I can do everything but earn a living.

      by alabamaliberal on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 09:52:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I saw your piece referenced on Facebook (24+ / 0-)

    And immediately sent the link to friends with the note, "I know this guy, and I've read his work.  If he says these are the problems facing kids in schools, then he's right.  Read him."

    They have libertarian leanings, but they both agreed wholeheartedly with you, teacherken.

    I read the piece and wanted to cry.  For the record, I took AP history and English in high school, and the standardized tests were something none of us worried about until close to the end of the fourth quarter.  We were too busy learning about American history and government, as well as discussing themes of metaphysics and humanity's bend towards cruelty in Heart of Darkness.  The only "teaching to the test" we had to worry about were the SAT prep sessions held right before classes started (that we had to sign up for), or the essay-writing sessions where we had to develop a coherent essay using proper form (introduction, argument, pro, con, and conclusion) on any given topic.  And back in the '80s, that was considered lacking.

    Hope is a good thing--maybe the best of things--and no good thing ever dies.

    by Gemina13 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 10:44:47 PM PDT

    •  It is continuing to spread (6+ / 0-)

      several friends from New York have let me know that they have sent it on, one of whom never saw it back in February, the other who saw several of her Friends post about it.

      OF course, I have decided that I am going back into the classroom to try as best I can to make a difference, which is why sometime in the next few days Valerie Strauss will put up a followup piece by me.

      As I write this, it has been on the list of the five most popular local stories on the Post website since Wednesday.  Go figure.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 05:26:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have been following the virality of your piece (14+ / 0-)

    for several weeks, and when Valerie posted it, I knew it had crossed over. My colleague Shawn Lent also experienced this same phenomenon when her blog piece, Am I a Dancer Who Gave Up? was reproduced, with attribution, seemingly everywhere.

    These pieces touch a deep place in people--I think, of recognizing when people speak shared truths. Your words reflect what many of us know to be true, that we are on the wrong road in education.  As you return to the classroom Ken, I know we in the field will want to hear from you as to what we might all create that is different, workable, meaningful, and resonant.

    •  Thanks for posting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat, annan

      the link to Shawn's article.  You are correct, it touches a deep place, not the least of which was to help people understand the difference between success and failure (or giving up on your dream vs. creating a dream that is meaningful to you), and make sure you define your own success, based on your contribution to humanity - not on traditional measures.

      No wonder it went viral.

  •  I just saw this posted by a college teacher (8+ / 0-)

    Yesterday on Facebook. I was so excited, I read you regularly and feel like I know you. I was thrilled to read it again.

    I wanted to tell you how disappointed I am with AP classes. My son will be a senior and has passed a few AP tests. How sad that he blasted through APUSH and will never have to take History in college.

    I despise the College Board.

    "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

    by voracious on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 11:03:16 PM PDT

    •  I have agreed to again teach AP US Govt & Politics (6+ / 0-)

      the district in which I am teaching has just set up so that every high school will offer it in 10th grade, in lieu of the state mandated course of Local, State and National Government.  I am told that there will be kids in my three classes of AP who really probably should not even be in honors sections based on previous performance, reading level, etc.  Because there are so many teachers who will be teaching the course at the same time we are being required to use a standard curriculum rather than an individual one, although I have been assured I am free to do my own lessons within that curriculum.  I would have been somewhat limited because there are four sections, and some students would be switching teachers at midyear, so he and I have to at least have covered the same material by midyear.

      I have a further difficulty, in that we are on an A/B day schedule with 90 minutes periods, and not all my sections meet on the same day, which means I cannot easily bring in guest speakers who will speak to all my classes.  I am going to have to be creative.

      I could challenge all my students even without AP.  In my last school, teaching AP meant I got a substantial portion of the brightest students in a school with a lot of bright students.  Most years either or both the Valedictorian and Salutatorian would have been my students.  Don't know how that will play out.

      But I do know this -  I am, going to challenge all my students, even those who might be overmatched.  If they will try I will help them deal with the material.  

      Roughly six years ago I wrote a piece here titled Teaching is my essential political action.  It is still relevant.  And I note how I ended that piece:  

      I cannot do all that I might want.  I lack some skills, and certainly have insufficient time and energy.  So I do what is the most important political action I can undertake.  I teach in a public school, seeking to empower the future generations in the hope that the democratic republic from which I have benefited for most of my life will still be there long after I die.   I can think of nothing more important for me to do.  Teaching is my essential political action.

      What is yours?

      The battle to save public schools is certainly more difficult now than it was then, but it is a battle worth fighting.

      Which is why I am going back into the classroom.

      Besides,  I am a teacher.  I thrive and come alive when I have the chance to interact with the young people in my classes.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 05:35:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My daughter took it a couple of years ago (0+ / 0-)

      Even with an intelligent, popular teacher and a class of strong students, I thought it was a death march.

      Now that you say it, it will be unfortunate if it means she won't take a college history course.

      •  There's nothing stopping her from his. electives (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bronx59, StrayCat, annetteboardman

        I AP'd out of US History for college too, but liked it so much I took higher level history electives for some of my "core curriculum credits.  Ended up majoring in it but many of my fellow students in the upper level classes were not history majors but engineers.

  •  worth expanding to book/wikibook length (9+ / 0-)
    We entered teaching because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of the students who passed through our classrooms. Many of us are leaving sooner than we had planned because the policies already in effect and those now being implemented mean that we are increasingly restricted in how and what we teach.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 11:05:32 PM PDT

    •  Agreed. (8+ / 0-)

      The assault on teachers is now so normalized that it's taken on the status of fact. Underpaid, overworked, mistrusted by ill-informed parents, disrespected by administrators and politicians:  teachers are the brunt of a cruel national joke.  How will we ever change this, especially as the financial sector perceives profit in our demise?

    •  Yes! Please do this (5+ / 0-)

      I read khan's book, and while I agree with some points (like requiring mastery before you move on in math and science), the idea of a huge room of students all working individually is fantasy.

      Kids don't act like that. Especially kids who don't want to be there, can't see any reason for what they're learning, are hungry, hurting, etc.

      And that's most of the kids in school.

      Besides that, math is an easy subject to measure. You can either solve the problem or you can't. Most other things are not that easy, nor is progress that linear.

      The hardest thing is teaching kids to think, and apply what they know to something else. That's always been the hardest thing to teach, and the hardest to measure.

      On top of that, teaching is like parenting. Often you don't know if you've succeeded up until years later. If ever.

      •  Part of the cause of the difficulty (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wenchacha, spacecadet1

        in leading children to think, is that our socialization processes punish attention to certain kinds of details, like nature, the world around us and individual eccentricities. Additionally, when a child makes an accurate, but embarrassing observation, the are told in strong words, either that their observation is not true, or to shut up.  Small children have a lot of discontinuities in their knowledge base, and can be confused by being told they are wrong, when everything that they have sensed tells them that they are right.  This can lead to distrust of parents and other adults, and distrust of their own developing judgment.  Sometimes life for kids is multiple guess,l because the rational part of judgement has been compromised.

        Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

        by StrayCat on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 09:03:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  plus 1 more eom (0+ / 0-)

      "like a roofer or a dancer or a cheese cutter or a lumber jack" " rubyr Sat Aug 14, 2010 at 12:24:28 AM PDT

      by sometv on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 11:19:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's nice that experts and global testscores show (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, Bronx59, StrayCat

    that American education gets less and less effective each year, and that American student's test scores keep sinking relative to the rest of the industrialized world, and that it's an extraordinary situation that national science awards to American high school students go overwhelmingly to first or second generation immigrants from countries with highly effective school systems --
    But isn't it time that somebody start bailing water instead of always just saying, "Hey, our boat is sinking!" as if nobody else knew it?
    No, they keep re-electing the same people who are punching holes in the hull ....

    Ash-sha'b yurid isqat an-nizam!

    by fourthcornerman on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 11:09:45 PM PDT

    •  I don't know that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      I love OCD

      That outcome is because of the system or the parents.

      I suspect the parents. Most of those kids, probably the vast, vast majority of them, have only gone through us schools.

      But their parents value education. They push them to succeed. They don't necessarily want them to spend a lot of time on Facebook, or texting, or playing sports. They want them to get excellent grades and are willing to spend time with the kids so they do that.

      In those families, education is important.

      In most us families, it's an afterthought.

  •  This is great but are you sure that teaching is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spacecadet1, Sixty Something

    the best use of your time right now?

    Any chance you could become a full time activist on the issue?  Any chance of getting paid on the lecture circuit? Write a book maybe?

    You seem to have found something that many of us seek but few of us ever find:   influence and respect.   I really hope you can find a to maximize the overall societal benefit you can provide with the position in which you now find yourself.


    •  Yes, it is and let me explain why (4+ / 0-)

      first, when I write about the issues of education, the fact that I am classroom based gives a cogency and a power (as well as a legitimacy) to what I offer.  I have an acquaintance who when he would lobby on the Hill would often bring me along because I could speak from the context of the classroom which gave greater power to what he was trying to teach the electeds and their staff.  

      Second, while I am in the classroom I am having an impact first on the students I teach, then also on their families.  It is something that apparently is lasting -  one of those perhaps responsible for this piece going viral again is a young man to whom I taught 9th grade US History as we were changing our sequence of courses, and then AP Govt as a sophomore.  When he posted about this he wrote

      I was lucky enough to have several great teachers in high school who knew there was more to education than teaching to the test. Kenneth Bernstein, the author of this piece, was one of them. Well said.
        I remember one incident in Government - at the time he was very conservative politically.  The issue of the NSA was current because Risen's piece had finally been published in the New York Times.  He said he had no trouble trusting Bush with that power.

      So I asked him whom among possible Democratic presidential candidates he most hated or feared.  He practically spit out the words "Hillary Clinton."  I asked if he would be willing to trust her with the same power.   He is very pale and very blonde, but you could see the blood drain from his face.  I then pointed out that the issues should be the power of the office, not of the person, because we were in theory of government of laws and not of men.

      He remembered that.

      He also over time changed his politics, in part because of experiences in college.   He has posted here, specifically about when he met Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign.  

      It is the ripple effect of what happens in the classroom and in the continuing relationships that is most important.  That is real.  That leverages things in ways that some may not grasp, but I do.  It is in part my understanding of the words of Henry Adams,

      A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 05:45:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It appeared on my Facebook (4+ / 0-)

    Newsfeed, so I read it again, and liked it again.

    You have written many pieces over the years, few have resonated quite as much as that work, in this education household.

    It leaves the impression, because the education experts MUST know that the policies are failing, that they want it to fail, and they want Public Schools to fail.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 11:23:38 PM PDT

    •  It is absolutely clear that some do (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bronx59, spacecadet1, twigg, StrayCat

      want public schools to fail, and the recently disclosed shenanigans by Tony Bennett when he was in Indiana are beginning to help people understand this.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 05:46:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They want gov't to fail more broadly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The GOP has been defunding and sabotaging government programs since Reagan was elected. Young people literally don't remember when government worked so they believe that it can't. That is Ronald Reagan's greatest legacy.

      “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” Lyndon Baines Johnson

      by spacecadet1 on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 06:50:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think a lot of people crave substance, (7+ / 0-)

    expertise, and the kind of frank and candid take you can only truly give by being credible and actually knowing what you are talking about on a given subject. That sounds obvious as hell, but we live in an age where you don't actually have to know what the hell you are talking about to be a go-to source for expert commentary.

    So many Americans are being told things, presented to them by people who are advertised as "experts", that defy what they see and hear with their own eyes and ears.

    Whenever something explodes like that, it says a lot about what is missing. Substance filled a void that needed filling.  

    It's like legions of people are dying of thirst or hunger and suddenly you just dropped free buckets of ice water in front of them like mana from heaven.

    I look at Paul Krugman and I can say that his status as a kind of intellectual rock star says as much about the sorry state of what passes for commentary on economics in the Village as it does about Krugman being, well, interesting and entertaining enough to become a part of pop culture.

    Turn on CNBC, or Fox Business, and you can get Ben Stein, economist, learned man of Ayn Randian and Karl Rovian numbers and eye-redness remedies, piously and imperiously telling you that the best thing that can happen is more of what almost destroyed our economy, and what must be avoided at all costs are the policies that have saved it from ruin.

    Arsonists are advertised as firemen, and firemen advertised as arsonists with incredible ease because competence and expertise are almost held in disdain. I think because real competence and knowing expertise means you might, no, you will tell the powerful and monied interests and their spokesmodels things they don't want to hear, or want the public to know or be reminded of.

    You don't get Social Security slashed and those with the least asked to bear the most heavy burden if the man or woman who knows the most is dominating the discourse.

    I turn on my tv, everyday, and get endlessly lectured, and on an endless variety of important subjects and topics from diplomacy to economics by people who have no idea what they are talking about. Luke Russert might be called on to come on a set, sit down in front of a camera in his boat shoes and navy blue country clubbing jacket and discuss how 'No Child Left Behind' has changed America's children. And nobody bats an eye. Why would they? X, Y, and Z have memorized the well-known talking points, they know the conventional wisdom take, and that is what matters.

    Well done.

    David and Charles Koch think you should be.

    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 11:27:48 PM PDT

    •  As an aside (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoregon, shenderson, teacherken

      something weird did not happen, something good and wonderful did.

      Give yourself some credit, you did something great and it showed.

      I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

      by LeftHandedMan on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 11:32:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wonder how people will react (3+ / 0-)

        when they read the followup piece Valerie will publish in the next few days.

        I agree that one important thing about this piece is that it helped a lot of people sit up-  it enabled them to say "that's what I have been experiencing."

        A lot of my writing here may seem too personal for some - my wife is sometimes uncomfortable with how much I disclose.  Yet it is precisely because it is personal that it seems to resonate with some people.  

        She was originally not comfortable with how much I wrote about her illness, but so many people from so many parts of her life have told her how grateful they are for what I share that she has come to trust me on this.  

        Here the equivalent is the number of people who then feel empowered to talk about their own experiences and perceptions -  whether on dealing with illness when I write about my wife, or things in classrooms, or things about the other topics which can be among the myriad things that catch my attention sufficiently for me to sit down, write and post.  

        I have been somewhat used to that phenomenon here - after all, I have been here since late 2003 and am probably about as well known as any member of this community.

        Still, I was not prepared for what happened with this piece, either originally, or recently.  

        Hundreds of thousands of people have read it.

        Hundreds have contacted me directly.

        It is a bit humbling to realize that I was able to touch so many people.

        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

        by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 05:52:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Embrace it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and then do more and more of the same with proud abandon.

          It's humbling now, but as Paul Krugman found out, when you get more and more attention, it might start feeling like you need to buy a helmet.

          The more you have made an impact, the harder it is for the professionally intellectually dishonest to sneer, marginalize, and dismiss you away.

          I'm glad you are in awe of the attention. It says a lot about you that your first impulse wasn't to have your hat size go up four numbers. If you didn't run for the hills, or run to go shove somebody else out of the way so you could get to a mic, I've got a good feeling you'll do fine.

          Being highly regarded and sought out by others is actually a form of professional and personal self-preservation in the Movement Conservative era.

          I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

          by LeftHandedMan on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:13:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  seems to me (5+ / 0-)

    that the universe is telling you that there are people who would like to read the books you could write.

    Not weird at all.

    •  Here's the problem (2+ / 0-)

      I have written many pieces of which I am proud, that I know speak powerfully on the topics at hand.

      But those do not necessarily transfer to book format.  For one thing, many are dependent upon hyperlinks (so only an electronic book might work).  Many resonate as they do because of timeliness.

      And they work because they are written from a deep and immediate place from within me.

      I have at times seriously explored doing a book.  I was up for a fellowship at Columbia that would have paid me 75K to do long form journalism about education.  By all rights I probably should have gotten it, in which case a certain well-known publisher would about now be releasing a book on including teacher voice in the shaping of education policy.

      But then - remember my wife got her diagnosis at the end of January.  Everything else in our lives came to a stop for several months.   That would have included doing that book.

      Since I did not get the fellowship, who knows how it might have played out.

      Perhaps rather than negotiating with publishers, I should simply sit down and write what I want to write, and then see if i can persuade a publisher to take it.  I was keeping contemporaneous notes when I taught in the inner city middle school where I was until my wife's diagnosis came down.  

      For the immediate future, my focus has to again be the students for which I am about to take on responsibility.  Already even the level of my blogging has dropped as I have been thinking about how I will approach the sacred task of teaching in a new context.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 05:58:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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

        I find myself in a somewhat similar situation.  At the moment, it looks like I may be about to begin a book project, and for a variety of reasons I am not going to try to get a publisher first.  Actually, publishers like it when a writer has a substantial part of a manuscript to show them before they buy.  A lot can go wrong between the contract and the blank page.

        Anyway, while it is true that much of your popular writings are on the zeitgeist and in response to something in the news with links, you note

        ...they work because they are written from a deep and immediate place from within me.
        It is possible to preserve a sense of immediacy for the reader, even in long form.  And I suspect that you could think of a half dozen works of non-fiction or even memoirs that do just that.  Those would be excellent models for what you might consider doing should the stars align for you to do a book length project of some sort.
        •  long-time friend with serious publishing contacts (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Frederick Clarkson

          wanted me to consider a book on my religious peregrinations -  raised in a non-observant Reform Jewish Family.  While I read and explored, did nothing seriously until after a marriage came apart got baptized as an Episcopalian, then spent the summer in an Episcopal Benedictine monastery.  Became an Orthodox Christian for about a decade an a half, during much of which my spiritual father was the abbot of a monastery on Mount Athos and I held local, state and national positions both appointed and elected.  While Orthodox got a masters from a Catholic Seminary and a license from the Vatican to teach religion in any Catholic school in N America.  Returned to Judaism, first to Orthodox Judaism, then to an egalitarian conservative synagogue.  OVerlapping with both attendance at a free-form Havurah.   Finally completed a journey begun when I was a 17 year old Freshman at Haverford, and joined the Religious Society of Friends, where I serve on the ministry and worship committee of my Monthly Meeting.

          Along the way, also read Sufi poetry and do Buddhist walking meditation, and have taught comparative religion to confirmation students in a synagogue and to 11-12 graders in a public high school.

          Friend thinks it could be very interesting.  As it happens she had in mind a particularly literary agent, who just so happened to be the first girl with whom I ever went on a date when I skipped into 7th grade in 1957.  

          It never went anywhere.  Who knows what the future might hold....

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 10:30:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Could be that school is starting up soon. (5+ / 0-)

    My nephews start next week.  University starts soon after.  Teachers getting back into gear, looking for insight, looking for wisdom.

    'I am not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife." Molly Ivins

    by sap on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 11:31:33 PM PDT

    •  That's what it is (4+ / 0-)

      Especially at the college level.

      I see that. The kids coming on almost all need remedial math and English. They can't write, can't spell, can't do basic math, don't know science at all.

      But they want to be nurses, and doctors, and engineers, and programmers, because they think that's where the jobs are. They get frustrated very fast when they start to realize it will take an extra year to just get to the beginning of what they want to learn, and many of them never make it.

      I'm on the computer end of things, and I see this all the time. They don't have any real understanding of things. They learn enough to pass a test, and then it's gone. They don't seem to be able to build on what they've already learned, because they never really learned it.

      This is the kiss of death if you want to get into any computer field. You can't just learn something, you have to KEEP learning, because what you learned 2yrs ago has changed. The basic commands and functions stay, but the scaffolding they hang on changes all the time.

      And then, there's not one right way to do anything, which tends to drive kids NUTS. They want instructions and a path to memorize. That doesn't really exist in most programming or any creative field.

  •  It's not weird, congratulations. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    People are waking up to what a scam the charters are and what they have done to public education in general and they're looking for answers.

    Racial hostility, homophobia and misogyny are braided together like strands of the same rope. When we fight one, we fight them all. - Charles M. Blow

    by blueoregon on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 11:35:39 PM PDT

  •  I don't know how, but somehow... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... I managed not to see this article until now.  It's great, and sobering.  Thanks for writing, and thanks for posting!

    Seeking alternatives in higher education? Learn more about this small college in Chicago.

    by shenderson on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 12:11:53 AM PDT

  •  Is our Congresses learning? nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bronx59, spacecadet1, StrayCat

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10 UID: 8519

    by Bob Love on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 12:18:55 AM PDT

  •  It's summertime (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Teachers have a little time, since they are only doing their second jobs and not grading papers.  And parents are sending their seniors off to college.  Maybe even a few graduates are reading it and wondering how they will do in college.  

    Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

    by Leftleaner on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 01:23:37 AM PDT

  •  Great piece, Ken (3+ / 0-)

    I particularly liked Anthony Mullen's take.  As the son and brother of teachers (both now retired at 93 and 66), and father of a high school graduate about to go to college in three weeks, this was particularly of great interest to me.

    I live in Dallas, and frankly, we are fortunate our son was not in public school here the last 12 years.  I had forgotten about Sandy Kress, onetime Democrat and Dallas Independent School District board member, and his role and transmogrification into Geo. W. Bush's education "go-to guy" and the real originator of "you can't teach what you can't measure", or however that nonsense goes. His connivance goes all the way back to when he left Dallas for Austin in 1997, and was able to be the one to get Bush's ear about testing.  The rest is, rather than history, now our present and future. You have insightfully explained just what great disservice Bush and NCLB have really done to us, and the ongoing ramifications.

    I am bookmarking your post and asking my son to read it before he heads off.  It is instructive and insightful about how exceptional his own experience has been, what many of his publically-schooled (and otherwise) freshman peers may be up against, and what is up with his prospective university profs.  All quite informative.

    Thank you, and enjoy all you can on your "un-retirement".

    I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 01:42:20 AM PDT

    •  about Sandy Kress (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tom 47, StrayCat, northerntier

      IIRC, he was on DISD school board and had to resign when a tape of him making remarks that were at least racially insensitive surfaced.  He denied making such remarks, but resigned shortly thereafter.

      About DISD  - I feel sorry for people in Dallas given what you have been through with your most recent superintendent.  He is unfortunately symptomatic of what is happening all across the country.

      There are superintendents pushing back -  John Kuhn in Texas, Joshua Starr in Maryland, Jere Hochman in New York, to name just three.

      There are principals -  Peter DeWitt and Carol Burris for example.

      Increasingly we are finding more teacher voices.  This year a teacher friend of mine, Jose Vilson, actually got invited to the summer sessions of the Aspen Institute.  

      we are seeing more and more parents speak out and write.

      And then there are the activities of students.

      Perhaps it is not too late to save public schools?

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 06:03:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Congratulations (0+ / 0-)

    It is an important subject and I am relieved that some people are listening/reading/acting/responding.

    by chloris creator on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 01:51:18 AM PDT

  •  Excellent! (0+ / 0-)

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

    by slouching on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 01:55:01 AM PDT

  •  I'll tell you what happened-- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, teacherken, northerntier

    The Badass Teachers found it.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 03:01:13 AM PDT

  •  There's a reason you're one of the most (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife, mmacdDE, northerntier

    trusted diarists here.  So glad your work is being read by many more.  Congrats.

  •  Once something is on the web it takes on a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife, mmacdDE

    life of its own. I'm glad that your experienced voice is out there.

    "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 Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 04:04:41 AM PDT

  •  Intelligence shines through and it is not (3+ / 0-)

    wierd.   People admire well spoken truths.  Accepting them is another ballgame if it interferes with an agenda,  You sir had no agenda except truth.....People will  die searching for it and many who searched will recognize it as such but not accept it.   A heroic diarist you are IMO.   Hope Leaves is better.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 04:16:32 AM PDT

  •  this may be a stretch (0+ / 0-)

    I wonder if WaPo no longer being owned by Kaplan Test Prep has anything to do with it.

    •  It will be interesting to see what happens (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...after that breakaway, but it wasn't known when teacherken's piece was posted in February.

      Though Jeff Bezos has supported many of the education "reform" efforts of recent years, as well.

    •  I don't expect to see changes in editorial policy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for one thing, Katherine Weymouth is continuing as publisher.

      What Bezos will bring is a perspective to be developed over the long term to change the business model, not necessarily the content.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 06:40:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As my students would say: "Sweet!" (0+ / 0-)

    I think that is great news!

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 06:05:49 AM PDT

  •  Don't know why, but thank goodness for it (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe it's the start of a new school year and all the news lately on the problems caused by privatization of public schools, common core, charter school fraud, the firing of teachers and closing of schools in major cities, no-child-left-untested, and the race to nowhere.

    We need the voices of teachers like you, as loud and as often as they can be published and heard.


  •  That happens to everyone who's written something (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    popular enough. It will get a lot of attention, fizzle, and then get attention again.

    It's apparently a phenomena, but I don't know the name of it.

    A perfect example is Macklemore's Thrift Shop which became a hit a year after the band posted it on youtube.

    It just suddenly blew up a year later.

    I think I'm part of the problem, because I'm one of a few people who cruise the internet for information I missed. And when I discover I missed something, my reaction is "Holy crap, I can't believe I missed this!" And my friends will either respond with "Have you been living under a rock?" Or "Holy Crap, I can't believe I missed that either."

    I'm glad to see that it happens to important information, and not just youtube videos.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 06:09:31 AM PDT

  •  May be time to buy stock in Common Sense, Inc. (0+ / 0-)

    again.  Since our society needs to view everything in dollar terms, this might indicate an uptick in the market for the reality-based products industry that we don't want to miss.  Here's hoping.

  •  We dance around the real education issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Odysseus

    That is, the number of children who grow up in impoverished conditions, both physical and intellectual.

    I went to a specialized high school in NYC that requires a test for admission, and follow the controversies regarding race and scores.  

    Sadly, the damage in education in life experience is done long before admission to high school.  Not dealing with these economic issues and early childhood education is denial.  Period.

    •  We can do some amelioration in high school (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bronx59, northerntier

      but then we would have to have much smaller classes and be prepared to provide resources (computers, internet access) to address the inequity in resources that continues throughout their lives

      instead we narrow the education that the students receive, putting them even further behind the eight ball.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:09:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the link Ken (0+ / 0-)

    Great piece. Please post a link to your follow up when it appears on Sunday or Monday. So much wisdom in your advice to college educators.

  •  What would happen is collages ignored the SAT? (0+ / 0-)

    Because the only rational reason I can see for this testing mania is to prepare the kids for the SAT. And I'll bet dollars to donuts that those unprepared students aced their SATs.

    “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” Lyndon Baines Johnson

    by spacecadet1 on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:03:16 AM PDT

  •  Well said (0+ / 0-)

    Ken, as one who has taught in the high schools and the college, I agree, of course, with what you say, but there is a weird thing.

    No Child Left Behind is hated. It is thoroughly, completely, universally despised by principals, by teachers, by superintendants, by college faculty who get the nastiness, and I gather by most of the educationalists. However, 99% of those who hate it have a different idea of what is better, and, most importantly, Congress likes it.

    From the point of view of a government that is elected on the basis of complaining about education, the easiest way is to suggest greater control for the teachers. We saw Walker claim teachers were lazy rich people. If he can do that, the public will support a generalized mistrust.

    If we assume "teachers" do something funny, and we assume that "schools" lie, then "we" need proof that they "deserve" the money they're getting. It's nothing more or less than that.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:06:47 AM PDT

    •  well, let's take a look at who supports (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Geogre

      the approach of NCLB and its progeny, including Race to the Top and the Common Core

      - corporations that will profit - new computers, new materials

      - hedge fund operators, who profit from the expansion of charters

      - politicians who get large campaign contributions from certain sectors of the economy

      that is just the tip of the iceberg.  It is unfortunate how many editorial boards of papers that should know better buy into this approach - here I particularly chastise the Washington Post and the New York Times.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:15:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes and No (0+ / 0-)

        The EDS folks profit either way. They don't have a dog in the hunt for one approach over another, as they just care that there is a metric. Which one doesn't matter to them, and they'd probably prefer impressionistic metrics anyway, as that will allow them to claim to have the perfect algorithm for judging essays, for example. If you were speaking of charter schools, your list of supporters would be right on, but not NCLB.

        That mutated Hell spawn (well, Dallas-spawn, anyway) came from Rod Paige's "Dallas Miracle," where graduation percentages improved magically. What Paige had done was reclassify all students with low grades or high absenteeism as special education, so that made the percentages look better automatically. The people who like it are the people who like to have "results" to justify money.

        In short, they believe that education must be measurable in the same way that an investment in a new bakery is -- by products produced. They do not believe that education is a verb, or individual, and, if they did, they would still say that there has to be "proof" that they are getting their "money's worth." The supporters are the people who believe that X commodity is X dollars, and all things are commodities.

        Jim Gardner ran for governor of North Carolina. He had been one of the men who started Hardee's. He ran saying that "We done put computers in all the schools, and they ain't got any better. I say it's time we cut funding to schools, and take those computers out of there, and make the teachers do some dang work." He really, really did say that. It had support, too. (This was early 90's.) There are oceans of people who don't think teachers "do anything," but whatever it is that they do, they do it wrong.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 02:40:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Rod Paige was in Houston not Dallas (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Geogre

          and that is not exactly what Paige and others did. Paige was claiming a 90+% graduation rate when the percentage of the cohort that started 7th grade that graduated on time was in the low 40s.

          Students were held back in 9th grade because testing was in 10th.  Some were held back multiple times until they dropped out, at which point if when asked they said they answered yes to whether they might someday get a GED were coded as having transferred to an alternative educational setting, and thus not counted in denominator or numerator for calculating graduates.

          There was a smaller group of students who after repeating 9th grade were told they had done so well they could skipp 10th grade and go directly to 11th, thus not being tested.  If you guessed that these might be football or basketball talents . . . . .

          Much of this was known.  Some of the data had been published by 1999.   And I can assure you that key members of the House committee that dealt with NCLB were made aware of the data.  In one case i was told directly by the member that s.he didn't care, b/c s/he wanted to get to the disaggregation of data.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 02:49:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Meaning? (0+ / 0-)

            If the member wanted to get to the disaggregation of the data, is that because the member wanted to index it by ethnicity or perform a recombination to make a specialized critique? That would be logical and nefarious.

            I still believe, though, that the political will for NCLB's continued existence hasn't much to do with particular corporate entities as much as it does an effort to attack teachers. The tests get approved as a way of "check up on teachers" and giving individuals far remote from education an index by which to criticize a school. As such, the emphasis on empiricism, and consequentialism (the ends justify the means), work to reduce education to a simple matter of "all students are equal" and "all products must be equal if there is equal input."

            The fallacies of this empiricism are obvious to us -- and I do mean empiricism rather than mechanism. Education does not occur at a predictable time nor to a predictable degree with a consistent effort, even if we have uniform students, and, of course, we don't.

            Everyone's innocent of some crime.

            by The Geogre on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:46:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Member felt a certain minority was being shafted (0+ / 0-)

              because their low scores were not seen within the overall decent scores of some of the schools in the member's district

              I cannot be more specific without identifying the Member, although some people probably already have

              "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

              by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:49:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I read the piece on facebook just a few days ago. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As I started to read the intro, I realized you had written it, and I felt I "knew" the writer, which made me proud.

    Good work.

    "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem. "No, son, it ain't right." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    by SottoVoce on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:07:43 AM PDT

  •  Thank You Ken (0+ / 0-)

    I just read the article. I am a college professor and am on the leadership team in my University. It sums up what the faculty has been talking about for years. The article also explains the decline in the quality of freshmen over the years. Yes the SAT scores have been rising as well as the HS GPA. But, the number of students dis-enrolled or on academic probation is growing. The four year graduation rate has been plummeting. If memory serves 40-50% of students are taking remedial math and English, non-credit bearing courses. We had to institute a sub remedial math class that basically teaches; addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and fractions! Please don't get me started on "round time".
    The institution where I teach is a very selective technical college.

    I will be forwarding the article to the college council. Hopefully it will provoke a discussion as to how to address the issues beyond more assessment on our end...

    Then again we could always admit more Bahamian students. They tend to end up in the top 10% of classes. No NCLB there..Just dedicated teachers and aa desire to learn...


    by profewalt on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:15:08 AM PDT

  •  T&Red, because (0+ / 0-)

    I didn't see it the first time, and it's well worth reading.  Every word.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:41:24 AM PDT

  •  Remember that American Education is (0+ / 0-)

    MORE effective than any other nation's systems of education, precisely because we dont have, or didnt have, "a system." We had a guiding philosophy, which still is in effect, and no amount of NCLB, testing, evaluating, rewarding, punishing or any other Operant Conditioning BF Skinner Pigeon Training Program can replace it for its support of democracy, free will choice and personal happiness of the individual.

    We educate each citizen, regardless of ability or income or  background, to be a full citizen, as much as he or she wants, in every area she or he is interested in.

    No other country has such a broad education charter. No other country attempts to educate fully every student. No country has as much attention to learning disabilities or differences, both deficits and accelerated progress.  No country has requirements and options for everyone, comprehensively.

    Hundreds of thousands of students from around the world come HERE to America for a better education. They vote with their feet to get here at incredible risk. It is only here that the ignorant feel, not think, that American educators are doing a poor job. The world votes for us, whether we recognize our own accomplishment or not. Propaganda in America rules public perception on this topic, as in many others.

    When the critics of education attack education and teachers, they are really attacking our guiding philosophy; they want training for a few, not a broad and open inquiry education for all. They want narrow, compliant indoctrination, not broad liberal critical thinking and acting. They want nationalism and not humanitarianism. They want to re-enact the last century, not look forward to a new one.

    It is time to push back, hard. You can also join the Network for Public Education and stay informed. It is a new organization formed  by Diane Ravitch and her friends and allies, and is forming the necessary political and informational push to re-establish our own democratic educational principles.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:59:32 AM PDT

    •  Australia's pretty good, too and yes they have (0+ / 0-)

      foreign students ... I taught there, in 3 universities, students are students everywhere, but we weren't 'rubricized' either

      tk, can I make up that word? thanks ...

    •  what? (0+ / 0-)

      Not quite following this post.  The crux of Ken's article that he refers to in the diary is that draconian (and non-educational) federal standards by people who know zilch about education have effectively put a lid on teacher's abillities to teach--and students' opportunities to learn--and that lid has now been placed WAY DOWN in the bottom of the pot.

      Some educational experiences--for those lucky enough--are excellent--magnet programs, G & T programs, the rare outstanding teacher who has been able to still use creative approaches to work around the confines of the system...

      But no--we're not the Shining City on the Educational Hill.  We've plummeted.  I've tutored several hundred students (Montgomery County, MD)--and it's striking.  Sometimes I'll unthinkingly take students' lead in complaining about the teachers, too---and in some cases we're probably justified--but the system really doesn't foster anything of value.  Teacher after teacher (real ones---not tutors like me) complain bitterly about this.

      •  I have so much to say to this.. (0+ / 0-)

        But suffice for now to suggest that I knew the "old timer teachers" of the past who are supposedly the paragon of American Education. Believe me when I say that these were tortured people who did not live lives of happiness or fulfillment based on their attitudes toward people, human concern for the oppressed or the ability to persuade as opposed to coerce. It is pure nostalgia to suggest that those times are what we need to return to. In the ability to coerce people to get good scores, yes we have plummeted. And that is a good thing.

        As for the "freedom to teach," the standards are exactly what I am talking about. They are so low that we cannot have meaningful classes on most days. Nothing above the most trivial is tested, and therefore, noticed or taught.

        And as a teacher for the last 32 years, I agree that student performance, on average, has gone down slightly. HOWEVER..If you select out those who would have dropped out 40-50 years ago, or who never entered after Middle School, however, we are significantly above the average (depending on the measure) of that time. What this suggests is that we are attempting to cover educationally people who have never been covered, in this society or any other. Most other education around the world admits and encourages a state of elitism, or to put it another way, locks in those with advantages from the home, to get more advantages at school. Attacks on education are attacks on our egalitarian approach to educate and test EVERYONE. Immigrants, low performers, poor, migrant, local residents who have avoided all school locked into the "family business" whatever that may be, and those who are unsocial and unsocialized.

        Those kids who you are talking to, struggling for an education, have no home experience with the process and vocabulary and discipline of self-education. That is possessed by kids whose parents succeeded in college, the lucky 15 percent. We are now embarked on the challenge to get 40 percent through college, because that is the level of educational skill we need today to "compete" in the economy. That measure has nothing to do with the educational function of education, to produce happy and satisfied people because they know where we have been and where we are going; he "meaning" questions that give life purpose. My students of all levels love that search and that approach because there is no one else doing it. Its all objectives and checklists. So far, I have avoided all that for teaching real people real things. As Ken says, education is my way of being political.

         The barriers are not school based barriers, by and large. They are cultural, racial, poverty-based and expectation based factors which go back thousands of years to challenge elitism. I have these kids, because I ask for them. I do not want the elites. I want the ones who LOVE the struggle to understand an educated mind and vocabulary and process. Last year it was 275 of them. Teaching essay writing and rhetorical analysis, and if you think that is easy, then, you should give it a try. I am sure some of them think I am the apogee of assholism, but that goes with the territory. I am sure some think I am "too easy" for their "advanced" skill, but they are wrong. They just use that as an excuse because they are enabled to do so by elitist thinking and negative attitudes toward compulsory attendance.

        Do not buy the propaganda. We are doing better with less, for more people than ever before, on average, and the progress is slow and agonizing, but to join in with the Hair On Fire group and declare support for those who want to dismantle public education is the wrong approach.

        Many students who need tutoring themselves have given themselves additional barriers, such as avoidance behavior, fun seeking behavior, technology addiction, adrenaline addictions, challenging teachers when they dont need to, and having an attitude of "teach me, thats what you are getting paid for." I know them. It may not be their fault, but... we have the Affective mode of instruction to deal with this. Of course, with 275 of them, its nearly impossible, so I expect you do hear complaints. They do not see the big picture, so its important for you to see it.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 10:02:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  If I was to guess (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You will see this piece get looked at again at the start of every school year.  It's a great piece, with some wonderful insight.  So each year people will look at again, though somewhat less than the first time...gradually fading over the years like an echo.

    You should be proud.  It's hard enough to even be heard in this day and age, let alone have your words reverberate across the years.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 10:12:07 AM PDT

  •  Great piece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Teacher Ken, especially as I sit with my daughter as she fills out loan applications for college. My father taught english at Cabrillo College, a junior college in Aptos, California for thirty years, and if he was alive I think he would greatly appreciatte your words.


    "like a roofer or a dancer or a cheese cutter or a lumber jack" " rubyr Sat Aug 14, 2010 at 12:24:28 AM PDT

    by sometv on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 11:15:17 AM PDT

  •  When unmet needs, suppressed awareness builds (0+ / 0-)

    a population becomes increasingly ready for precipitation events... and that can be an article, or a speech or some piece of news... call it the seed crystal, the straw that broke the camels back, an emergent property of pent up need or something similar....

    People are unaware of an ongoing ripening of readiness until a key piece of the puzzle they have not been entirely aware of falls into place... suddenly being aware of the reality of the emperors new clothes, feeling the freshening of a thunderstorm that clears the air... they know it for the first time as if they always knew it somehow.

    And when many people are almost ready for a particular piece of information the sooner and more effectively it is explained or made available the better it is for sparking effective change in a constructive way... and conversely the longer a resolution is deferred, solutions denied and awareness suppressed the more extreme the snap back to something better... so an unexpected and wide welcoming and acceptance of a message means the time was ripe for the set of concepts it contained to go viral... something needed and missed suddenly clear and present.

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 12:48:09 PM PDT

    •  all that may be true, but (0+ / 0-)

      this piece went viral back in February.

      So far neither Valerie Strauss nor I have been able to find the precipitating event to cause that to happen again this week.

      I have been able to find one reference to it online on Monday.  I was aware of several things on Facebook, but they did not have a lot of likes or comments, so it is not clear they were the precipitating events

      we do know that it spike heavily on Wednesday, for a while being the most viewed/liked piece on the entire Post website and finishing in the top five for the day.

      And we realize that once it starts to get attention, beyond a certain point interest expands at least geometrically if not exponentially.

      At the start of the week it had 104K likes on Facebook.

      It passed 140K likes about 2-3 hours ago.  That is 36K new likes in about 3+ days.  I would suspect that translates to something between 150K-200K page views.

      I am having multiple people tell me they are seeing it from friend on their Timelines.  It is still spreading, albeit not as much as on Wednesday and Thursday.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 01:04:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  sometimes the leverage is accidental... (0+ / 0-)

        or the result goes beyond expectations... something that would have happened later one way or the other more destructively or just in different ways or in a different sequence just by sheer happenstance is something that bumps loose a key log in the logjam without ever seeming likely to do so...

        going Viral can be like the proverbial butterfly's wing flap sparking a cyclone on the other side of the earth...

        And equally it can seem to make quite a stir that then goes dormant as far as short term improvements or reform... but that does help plant seeds for further ferment, realignment or reformation in due course... and in the case of your article awareness of it flares up again and we can only hope it continues to keep spreading and being a revelation or spark for thought and action.

        All evolutions and revolutions are of course a complex web of cause and effect, foot dragging vs. outrage, indifference and glacial inertia vs. a build up of unfulfilled need and repressed voices and delayed solutions...

        so anything that furthers progress and repair, opens avenues and reawakens hope whether unexpected or inexplicable and no matter how incremental is still palpable serendipity.

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 02:14:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Now the drive for the further destruction of (0+ / 0-)

    public education by the effort of the for profit bunch I think are worst than the efforts after A Nation at Risk period that lead to all of the standardized testing that greatly changed my teaching experience. I retired in 2005 and since then I've heard and read of further destructive actions and most of it is lead by people that have never stood in a classroom.

    Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 01:53:47 PM PDT

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