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Three Day March for Education Justice
The American Federation of Teachers followed the National Education Association in passing a resolution sharply critical of Education Secretary Arne Duncan over the weekend. While the NEA resolution called on Duncan to simply resign, though, the AFT resolution took another approach. Diane Ravitch writes:
... the AFT rebuke seemed like mockery of Duncan, a bureaucrat who demands accountability of everyone but is never held accountable for his own missteps. Of course, his missteps are not mistakes but reflect his contempt for teachers and public schools. In his world-view, everyone lies about how terrible schools are except him.
However:
The obvious hitch: Obama hasn’t shown a single sign that he disagrees with Duncan’s education reform agenda, which is largely focused on using standardized test scores to hold educators accountable (a method that accountability experts say is unreliable) as well as implementing the controversial Common Core State Standards and increasing the number of charter schools.
But it's a nice thought, subjecting Duncan to the kind of twisted "accountability" he likes to impose on others.

The AFT also passed a resolution highly critical of the Common Core's implementation, corporate profiteering, and lack of teacher involvement, while simultaneously voting to continue supporting it in theory. Ravitch:

If the standards are decoupled from the tests, as the AFT hopes, the standards will be a very costly and very toothless tiger. With or without the tests, they will drain every district of desperately needed resources.
Both the AFT and the NEA have made it clear that they're getting extremely fed up with attacks on their members, on education not based on constant testing, and on public education itself. But they're also not yet willing to blow up their relationships with the Obama administration to really launch a war against the administration's all-standardized-testing-all-the-time, corporate profit-heavy model of education.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 10:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  maybe if duncan and obama (20+ / 0-)

    had attended public schools, they'd appreciate their value.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 10:21:21 AM PDT

  •  Put Arne on a PIP! (12+ / 0-)

    I love it!

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 10:21:46 AM PDT

  •  They have NO idea what they are talking about (26+ / 0-)

    Until they face kids, day after day for a year or two, who are hungry, homeless, without dental care, without parental care, kicked out because their parents are addicted or too poor to care for them, or because they have been deported, or because they are too busy trying to cope with their own problems.

    These kids are expert at hiding their economic issues, because in America, the only sin in public is to be seen as poor. It takes me several months or several years of knowing them and their stories before I have successfully identified their level of distress.

    The US has become a Third World Country under these guys, and somehow, they cannot see it. It is under their radar, and they are still thinking it is 1964 in a sunny, prosperous nation which is yet to go through a massive trauma.

    There are no standards in the world which will feed and house and care for these kids. There is no standard which can fail AFTER we feed and house and care for these kids.

    I am a teacher of 36 years. I know what I am talking about.

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

    by OregonOak on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 10:37:14 AM PDT

  •  Can't Duncan be replaced by a privatized (9+ / 0-)

    shill for corporate looting?  

  •  Thanks, Laura, for posting on this (12+ / 0-)

    I particularly appreciate the inclusion of Diane Ravitch's blog post. She is an insightful voice of wisdom and experience in the education world.

    People who aren't in the know have been led to assume that the Common Core "State" Standards are grassroots. They are not; they are created and funded by multimillionaires for the express purpose of moving all of public schools' funding into the private-sector coffers.

    Naming a street in a crowded, cheap, treeless housing development, "Apple Tree Way" doesn't make it any prettier. Naming an evil, greed-based, corporate-driven initiative "Common" and "State" doesn't make it either.

  •  All this defiance is dumb and wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal for Life, pinhighin2

    There is nothing wrong in establishing a common standard that students should know when they leave their primary educations. There is nothing wrong in testing if what has been taught has been comprehended. It's common sense to gauge if things are working. All this defiance by teachers unions on the left and the Palin types on the rights is flat out dumb.

    I would think it would be a better strategy for the teachers to come up with their own solutions on measuring student and teacher effectiveness than calling for the firing of the Secretary Of Education. Come up with their own testing protocols or ways to measure if students are actually learning. If teachers don't like the "corporate" testing complex, then they should come up with something better than fighting for the status quo. Build the better system first and fight the shills with proven ideas based on proven results from the classroom. If these things have been developed and offered, I'm interested in learning more. So far, I haven't seen anything close to that.

    Our education system is broken on every level. Politicians, teachers unions, school districts, and yes parents have failed generations of citizens. We need change. We need accountability. We need to do better. Teachers unions can't just blame poverty and wash their hands clean. Tenure is a problem that has shifted and kept bad teachers in poor and minority neighborhoods. School districts like LAUSD are too large to handle the needs of all the neighborhoods in their charge. Parents are working longer and further away from their kids. The problem is rotten from many sides.

    Our kids deserve better than we had it. Remember, this is about them.

    But if the teachers unions thinks that shooting themselves in the foot will work, keep aiming low.

    •  Another county heard from. (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      emal, Mostel26, floridagal, quill, dicentra, JanL

      What your "plan" seems to amount to is:

      Ignore the devastating effects of the current situation, which promises to get worse. Devote your non-existent time and energy to creating something better that will get no traction under the current regime, as it will contain no for-profit elements.

      Ride your unicorn pony into the sunset while carrying a large bouquet of daisies.

      All sprinkled with a large helping of, "It's everyone's fault except the profiteers."

      Do I need to point out how unhelpful that actually is?

    •  And you think that hasn't happened?! (8+ / 0-)

      Do you know anything about public education at all?  Why would you assume local districts haven't developed their own assessments?  

      Remember that your child's teacher IS the AFT or the NEA.  Why people disassociate the membership from real live teachers is beyond me.

    •  yes students do (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      emal, Mostel26

      First, kids verifiable know more than we did.  They have to.  They don't know the same stuff.  They don't know how to draft using a t-square and triangle, but they do know how to render 3D mechanical drawing using a computer.  When I was in school almost no one took calculus, now there are more advanced classes than ever before.  Of course people complain about the level, but the fact is kids are learning.

      One thing that I got very lucky on was graduated shortly before all this testing madness.  Yes we had a test but it was just a basic exit test.  There were also entry level jobs that allowed us to use the basics we learned in school and refine then into a work life.  The consensus now is that those jobs are mostly gone.

      So some of this is just a dance between bussineeses and the state.  The firms want the state to pay for training on entry level employees, teaching them current skills.  The state, because they want the kids to work a long time and pay taxes, want to train the kids beyond their first job, so they can learn the new skills for future jobs.

      We know, verfifiable, that the school system in the 60's and maybe 70's did a horrible job because as soon as these kids lost their factory job they were unemployed for a long time.

      Then there is testing.  The problem with testing is that is used to rank students and teachers instead of just measure learning.  It would be far cheaper to create a national test bank then let local districts take a random set of the questions than what we are doing know.

      And this where the union opposition comes in.  The money is being spent only so that some fake statistic can be generated that says this person is better than another person.  Such rankings have no educational value. If a student has learn the material, and can apply it to basic situation, that is all that matters.

      She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is doing. -Kurt Vonnegut Life is serious but we don't have to be - me

      by lowt on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 07:28:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good news everybody! (10+ / 0-)

    Corporate Dem Rheeformers may finally get some pushback. ☛ Salon

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 02:10:11 PM PDT

  •  here's an improvement (9+ / 0-)

    plan for Arnie. Fire his sorry ass and appoint someone who values and works for public education for all our children and all adults. Someone who also values humanism like history, the arts, civics, philosophy,all the 'subjects' that make us more then drones for the corporation 'race to the top'.  

    •  Exactly this! (8+ / 0-)

      How did education become just job training? That is what a trade school is for. A public education should produce an educated human, not a corporate cog. Job training can be done on the job, if they are given a complete human to work with.

      •  Um ...tenure doesn't work that way (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sandblaster, Mostel26, JanL

        Or matter. Even with tenure ( or as many educators call it, professional status), his performance can be categorized as needs improvement and then he is placed on an improvement plan. ...which is what AFT has rightfully recommended based on his poor performance to date. He easily can lose his job if he doesn't turn it around and meet a specified measurable amount of progress toward the plan in a certain timeframe  ~3- 6 months.

        This needs improvement plan assessment includes the development of SMART goals covering many different educator indicator areas - but especially student performance  and professional growth.  There will be several observations and many unannounced check ins and at the end of the specified timeframe (3-6 months) IF he demonstrates he is making adequate progress toward the goals in his needs improvement plan with plenty of  data supporting that progress he might be able to stay..but not indefinitely...then the evaluation process starts all over again...every single year...must show growth and improvement.

        Bottom line and contrary to your negative spin....He can (and IMHO should) lose his job...because that is how "tenure" works. He is ineffective.

        Government of, for, and by the wealthy corporate political ruling class elites. Elizabeth Warren Progressive Wing of political spectrum.

        by emal on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 07:17:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, really? (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emal, sandblaster, quill, Mostel26, JanL

        Then there's more than enough documented evidence of incompetence and professional malpractice to dismiss Duncan via due process, as required by tenure.

        That is, assuming his boss (aka the Prez) actually makes the effort to do so.  Most administrators don't, which is how we get stuck with poor quality educators like Duncan.

  •  Mmmm, more Right Wing CorporaDem (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, dicentra, Mostel26, WeatherDem

    because...because...because...terrible is better than worse!?

    Somewhere in the Beltway a Dem Elite chucklehead is scratching his noggin and saying, "Gee, I don't know why we can't get working people excited about voting for us???  We're the good guys - don't those people know that?"

    The only reason the 1% are rich is because the 99% agree they are.

    by GreatLakeSailor on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 06:47:58 PM PDT

  •  My oldest froze during testing, all the (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pdxteacher, emal, quill, Mostel26, JanL

    way through high school.  He barely passed his final exams and made it out with the rest of his class, without facing summer school.  And I mean barely.  

    Finally in college that fear no longer plagued him.  But it certainly did for the 12 years before.  Should his teachers have been penalized because he froze during tests, even though he knew the material?  

    This testing crap drove me nuts during both of my kids school years.  Got to the point where the teachers were teaching to the damned test the entire school year.  

    I live in Gwinnett County, Georgia, and here we have our very own special test (or at least did, don't know about it now) called the Gateway Test.  The kids have to take it at the end of specific years.  If they don't pass that one test they don't go on to the next grade.   Took all the creativity away from the teachers.  Their hands were tied.  Caused a lot of frustration on their parts.

    There were times when I would just look at my husband and say:  our kids aren't learning how to learn, they're' being taught to specific tests.  

    There has to  be a better way.  

    The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

    by AnnieR on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 07:02:33 PM PDT

  •  Oh how I loathe Common Core and I'll admit I (5+ / 0-)

    was once one of its biggest and vocal supporters.  I will also admit how very wrong I was.   It should become a memory in history as simply "Fail".

  •  I have worked with some of the people (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, dicentra, sandblaster, JanL, emal

    doing the actual R&D on how children learn, and what tools we can build to make the process more effective, in the tradition of Dewey, Montessori, Piaget, Moore, Iverson, Engelbart, Papert, Kay, Bruner, and others. They are almost completely shut out of the discussion about what to do in schools of any kind, public, private, or charter. if anybody is interested, I can put you into contact with some of them, or the communities around them.

    The kind of real education we know is possible can only be pursued in the US by individual teachers working at odds with the system they live and work in, and by those few children who can learn how to learn for themselves, regardless of teachers and curricula. A very few other countries have their own R&D programs on learning and teaching that break out of the historic molds and corporate greed.

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 10:47:37 PM PDT

  •  The real problem (0+ / 0-)

    can be found in this quote:

    The obvious hitch: Obama hasn’t shown a single sign that he disagrees with Duncan’s education reform agenda, which is largely focused on using standardized test scores to hold educators accountable (a method that accountability experts say is unreliable) as well as implementing the controversial Common Core State Standards and increasing the number of charter schools.
    The buck stops at the President, since Duncan serves at his pleasure.  Obama clearly thinks Duncan's strategy is preferable to everyone else's.  Either that or Obama owes Duncan and his associates for past rendered services.

    I wonder how the teachers unions think their endorsement of "better than the alternative" is working out for them?  Will they rethink that strategy in 2016 if faced with a corporatist Dem and a populist Dem?  I doubt it.  At some point, people have to do some self-evaluation instead of pointing fingers at everyone else.

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