Monday, December 29, 2008

Excellent CounterPunch Article on Arne Duncan Appointment

Cheers for Kenneth Libby, teacher-in-training in Portland, Oregon. Please take the time to visit CounterPunch where his excellent piece on the appointment of Arne Duncan as Ed Secretary has been published.

I've been slammin' Duncan quite a lot on this blog but I believe Kenneth is right on target when he points out that Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same worn-out coin. He rightly speaks of "the collusion of government officials and corporate interests" and has some important things to say about our nation's spending priorities.

Some excerpts from Libby's article:

The policies touted as educational "reform" by the New Democrats apply the same neoliberal theories responsible for NAFTA, the WTO, and GATT with the same results: the inequalities become greater while those in positions of power receive even greater rewards. A two-tired education system lurks in the distance, the result of neoliberal efforts to create equality. The gradual privatization and outsourcing of public schools represents a shift towards the voucher system, the ideal school system envisioned by Milton Friedman and present-day neoconservatives.

The dull, "research based" education models explicitly required by sanctions in NCLB, inflicted on America's poorest children, and peddled by private, for-profit companies are designed explicitly to raise test scores. The marginal gains accomplished in the so-called "turnaround" schools are the result of data manipulation and drilling students with the question-answer format used in high-stakes testing. This is far from genuine education and contributes to a curriculum void of civics, history, social studies, physical education, health education, and active community building. Most importantly, this kind of education treats our children as either young factory workers or future executives based almost exclusively on their access to quality education. The educational inequality helps ensure poor children learn to read simple instructions and compute basic math, skills suited for minimum-wage employment, while middle- and upper-class students learn the "21st Century Skills" desired by corporate America in private schools, the affluent suburbs, and exclusive charters operating within impoverished districts.

Letters to Obama from Top National Experts

Let us pray he listens. Carefully. You will find a link to the letters with accompanying research base below. A big thank you to the scholars who put this outreach to Obama together.

From Education and the Public Interest (EPIC) in Boulder, Colorado, and the Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU) at Arizona State University:

Fifteen educational scholars have produced a collection of letters to President-elect Obama. Each letter briefly sets forth an idea or proposal to help create a more productive and equitable educational system. The letters cover the gamut of key policyissues facing the next administration, including reading instruction, No Child Left Behind, the expansion of preschool availability, charter schools, special education, the effects of poverty, and the teaching of English learners. These proposals should be thought of as the tips of empirical icebergs –beneath the letters lies a research base to guide policymaking throughout Obama's time in office.

collection is edited by Peter Cookson of Yale University and Kevin Welner of the University of Colorado at Boulder and is jointly published by the Education and the Public Interest Center at CU-Boulder and the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University. Contributors include top national experts in their respective areas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

DC Schools Chancellor Rolls a Perfect 300. Or Did She?

We really don't know. We may never know. During a rare respite from their relentless efforts to raise the standardized test scores of poor children in urban schools, Chancellor Rhee and ed reform colleagues Joel Klein, Paul Vallas, and Arne Duncan met at the Imperial Lanes in Miami, Florida for what was expected to be a simple evening of recreation. However, where Rhee goes, sweeping legends seem to grow.

The group was in Miami with Jeb Bush and other edu-biz reformers for an Education Leadership Conference under the theme "Levers for Reform". Teachers and the general public were not invited, as is typical of the many corporate-led education summits that have driven 'public' education reform for the past 25 years.

Less than an hour after the group had bowled three games and left the premises, reports began surfacing that the diminuative former Teach for America superstar had bowled a perfect 300, putting her male colleagues (including former pro-basketball player Arne Duncan) to shame. However, at press time news sources were unable to obtain scoring sheets from the Imperial Lanes documenting the game in question. Some witnesses had downsized the miracle to a score of 152 with accommodations, including inflatable bumper pads in the gutters.

Teach for Awhile, Bowl for Awhile.

Rhee has been nominated for election into the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) Hall of Fame, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon contributors to the sport. She will appear on the cover of Time magazine in January with a broom in one hand and a bowling ball in the other.

news spoof brought to you by staff at This Little Blog

Friday, December 19, 2008

Does it ever hit you like a brick

or make you stop in your tracks when you consider what a giant travesty this all is? The whole pretense of public education reform as it is being framed. God help us. We must stop allowing the ruling elite to call what is taking place reform and call it what it is, the continuing war on public education. Corporatism. Deception cloaked in the language of civil rights. This is a war.

From Henry Al Giroux and Kenneth Saltman:

It is difficult to understand how Barack Obama can
reconcile his vision of change with Duncan's history of supporting a corporate
vision for school reform and a penchant for extreme zero-tolerance polices -
both of which are much closer to the retrograde policies hatched in conservative
think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institution, Fordham Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, than to the values of the many
millions who voted for the democratic change he promised. As is well known,
these think tanks share an agenda not for strengthening public schooling, but
for dismantling it and replacing it with a private market in consumable
educational services.

I urge you to read their entire piece at truthout.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Obama Congratulated by Business Roundtable for Ed Secretary Pick

But of course. After all, who are the beneficiarie$ of the current standards and accountability movement? Yes, a "sweet choice" for the Business Roundtable given that Linda Darling-Hammond, who is eminently more qualified than Duncan, would have worked to strengthen, support, and improve public schools rather than undermine and destroy them. Same for Doug Christensen.

From coach and non-educator Rod Paige and the Houston Fraud to Margaret-All-Children-On-Grade-Level Spellings, to CEO and basketball player Arne Duncan and his Chicago Miracle. Non-educators all.

Thanks Obama for the slap in the face insult to our nation's teachers.

Mr. Duncan has a strong record of working with the business
community to improve schools in Chicago.
John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable

How fitting it is that Duncan is called the CEO of Chicago "public" schools! An oxymoron in my book, this big-biz title now being used in so many urban schools being "rescued" by business opportunists. Does the arrogance of big business know no bounds?

Remember the word "superintendent" back in the days when public schools were public? Even the language of public education is being hijacked.

Arne Duncan may be a nice guy. He seems like it. But he is not an educator and it is quite possible that he is merely an unwitting tool of the disaster capitalists. In his ignorance he may be a true believer that high-stakes testing improves the quality of teaching and learning. Test scores go up a little under immense pressure and he sees those scores as evidence that learning has improved. He doesn't see the big picture and the disaster that is unfolding.

The greatest hindrance to reforms that would really make a difference in the lives of poor children? The ruling elite.

A national uprising. Let's work to improve the quality of teaching and learning and keep public schools public.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Appointment of Arne Duncan Incites Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

Silly me. All I want for Christmas is a national uprising of teachers, a nationwide walkout. While I am not anti-union, I think it would send a powerful message if the movement took place independent of the teachers' unions.

Please deliver Santa.

Naively yours,

P.S. I do hope I'm wrong about Duncan. I can imagine worse...Michelle Rhee or Joel Klein. Still, I'm mighty uneasy Santa. That nationwide movement of teachers is needed regardless of who the Secretary of Education is.

It is needed to respond to a nation that does not take care of its children but simply dumps them into the public schools, places wildly unrealistic demands upon those schools, then hypocritically wags a finger of blame. It is high time the relentless "failing public schools" mantra received critical scrutiny.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Alfie Kohn in The Nation

In view of the blatantly skewed flurry of recent high-class commentary villifying teachers and presenting false dichotomies in the debate over who should be the next Secretary of Education (for example comments by Jonathan Alter of Newsweek and David Brooks of the New York Times), the following Alfie Kohn commentary published in the December 29 issue of The Nation is most welcome.

Note: Happily, most of the readers' comments spurred by the Brooks column linked above were quite negative. It seems people are figuring out that the "real reform" these guys are advancing - and boy should they be embarrassed - actually IS the archaic and destructive status quo.

By Alfie Kohn

If we taught babies to talk as most skills are taught in school, they would memorize lists of sounds in a predetermined order and practice them alone in a closet. -- Linda Darling-Hammond

Progressives are in short supply on the president-elect's list of cabinet nominees. When he turns his attention to the Education Department, what are the chances he'll choose someone who is educationally progressive?

In fact, just such a person is said to be in the running and, perhaps for that very reason, has been singled out for scorn in Washington Post and Chicago Tribune editorials, a New York Times column by David Brooks and a New Republic article, all published almost simultaneously this month. The thrust of the articles, using eerily similar language, is that we must reject the "forces of the status quo" which are "allied with the teachers' unions" and choose someone who represents "serious education reform."

To decode how that last word is being used here, recall its meaning in the context of welfare (under Clinton) or environmental laws (under Reagan and Bush). For Republicans education "reform" typically includes support for vouchers and other forms of privatization. But groups with names like Democrats for Education Reform--along with many mainstream publications--are disconcertingly allied with conservatives in just about every other respect. To be a school "reformer" is to support:

§ A heavy reliance on fill-in-the-bubble standardized tests to evaluate students and schools, generally in place of more authentic forms of assessment;

§ The imposition of prescriptive, top-down teaching stand-ards and curriculum mandates;

§ A disproportionate emphasis on rote learning--memorizing facts and practicing skills--particularly for poor kids;

§ A behaviorist model of motivation in which rewards (notably money) and punishments are used on teachers and students to compel compliance or raise test scores;

§ A corporate sensibility and an economic rationale for schooling, the point being to prepare children to "compete" as future employees; and

§ Charter schools, many run by for-profit companies. Notice that these features are already pervasive, which means "reform" actually signals more of the same--or, perhaps, intensification of the status quo with variations like one-size-fits-all national curriculum standards or longer school days (or years). Almost never questioned, meanwhile, are the core elements of traditional schooling, such as lectures, worksheets, quizzes, grades, homework, punitive discipline and competition. That would require real reform, which of course is off the table.

Sadly, all but one of the people reportedly being considered for Education secretary are reformers only in this Orwellian sense of the word. The exception is Linda Darling-Hammond, a former teacher, expert on teacher quality and professor of education at Stanford. The favored contenders include assorted governors and two corporate-style school chiefs: Arne Duncan, whose all-too-apt title is "chief executive officer" of Chicago Public Schools, and his counterpart in New York City, former CEO and high-powered lawyer Joel Klein.

Duncan, a basketball buddy of Obama's, has been called a "budding hero in the education business" by Bush's former Education secretary, Rod Paige. Just as the test-crazy nightmare of Paige's Houston served as a national model (when it should have been a cautionary tale) in 2001, so Duncan would bring to Washington an agenda based on Renaissance 2010, which Chicago education activist Michael Klonsky describes as a blend of "more standardized testing, closing neighborhood schools, militarization, and the privatization of school management."

Duncan's philosophy is shared by Klein, who is despised by educators and parents in his district perhaps more than any superintendent in the nation [see Lynnell Hancock, "School's Out," July 9, 2007]. In a survey of 62,000 New York City teachers this past summer, roughly 80 percent disapproved of his approach. Indeed, talk of his candidacy has prompted three separate anti-Klein petitions that rapidly collected thousands of signatures. One, at, describes his administration as "a public relations exercise camouflaging the systematic elimination of parental involvement; an obsessively test-driven culture; a growing atmosphere of fear, disillusionment, and intimidation experienced by professionals; and a flagrant manipulation of school data." (The only petition I know of to promote an Education secretary candidate is one for Darling-Hammond, at

Duncan and Klein pride themselves on new programs that pay students for higher grades or scores. Both champion the practice of forcing low-scoring students to repeat a grade--a strategy that research overwhelmingly finds counterproductive. Coincidentally, Darling-Hammond wrote in 2001 about just such campaigns against "social promotion" in New York and Chicago, pointing out that politicians keep trotting out the same failed get-tough strategies "with no sense of irony or institutional memory." In that same essay, she also showed how earlier experiments with high-stakes testing have mostly served to increase the dropout rate.

Duncan and Klein, along with virulently antiprogressive DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, are celebrated by politicians and pundits. Darling-Hammond, meanwhile, tends to be the choice of people who understand how children learn. Consider her wry comment that introduces this article: it's impossible to imagine a comparable insight coming from any of the spreadsheet-oriented, pump-up-the-scores "reformers" (or, for that matter, from any previous Education secretary). Darling-Hammond knows how all the talk of "rigor" and "raising the bar" has produced sterile, scripted curriculums that have been imposed disproportionately on children of color. Her viewpoint is that of an educator, not a corporate manager.

Imagine--an educator running the Education Department.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ohio Charter School Report Found False and Deceitful

This from The Think Tank Review Project of the ASU Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU) and CU-Boulder's Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC), which provides the public, policy makers, and the press with sound reviews of selected think tank publications:

Miron demonstrates in his review that all of the report's main contentions
are wrong or misleading, but one claim drew particular criticism. The Buckeye
report contends that the state's largest school districts receive a net gain in
revenue on average for each student attending a charter school--and that
returning those charter students to the regular schools would actually cost the
districts in revenue per pupil. This contention, Miron says, is "ridiculously
false, deceitful, and patently misrepresent[s] how the funding of public schools

Go here for more information. The Think Tank Review Project is a valuable resource, demonstrating that many of the studies and reports disseminated to the public by think tanks (with the aid of an uncritical media) are simply ideology masquerading as educational research.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What is Education?

It has been largely reduced to a maniacal, fear-driven focus on test scores. Let there be no doubt that the misuse of standardized testing serves the elites in control of the global economy very well. Test scores may go up a little here and there but the joy and quality and depth of learning do not. Potential is curtailed by standardization. Every child is different though all are of equal human worth.

Those in charge don't really see children. They see test scores. Data. Opportunity. We are in the Dark Ages of Education in the United States.

The rhetoric and framing of the 'failing schools' testing and accountability movement has been brilliantly deceptive garnish with no substance. A favorite quote by W.B. Yeats comes to mind. You know it already but I think it bears repeating in these difficult times:

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kiss My Class: The School Reform Blues

I visited Professor Sherman Dorn's blog today and he has provided some links to NCLB/ed reform (deform?) songs. See his 11-15-08 post. Listen to the above-referenced song from Bill Wraga here. It's one I hadn't heard before.


Don't Miss This - Send Stager's Message to Obama...

Bravo to Gary Stager. Read the entirety of his blogpost here where he notes:

Here is a most stunning principle of the school the Obama children and
Biden grandchildren will be attending:

(from Wikipedia) The school does not rank its students, as this conflicts
with the Quaker Testimony of Equality.

What? Not ranking students??? No winners or losers? No AYP? Where is the accountability in that?

Perhaps there are other ways of identifying educational accomplishment? You wouldn't think so if you listened to President-elect Obama speak
about public education.

Like Stager, I voted for Obama (gladly) but with an ache in my heart all the same. He seems to see only dimly if at all how deceptively Orwellian the big-business driven standards and accountability movement is. He wants to "fix" rather than expose the No Child Left Behind Act for the outrage that it really is, a law replete with absurdities and hypocrisies, a law that rests entirely on a bed of false assumptions and false premises. A law under which thousands of public schools have falsely been labeled failing so that unproven "market solutions" can kick in, punitive solutions which have funneled billions to corporate interests. He is not connecting the dots between disaster capitalism and the relentless attacks on public education, attacks cunningly framed in the language of civil rights.

Forgive the rant but one more thing before I finish this post. It appears that Obama is a fan of charter schools. In my book, charter schools that are publicly funded but run by business interests are NOT public schools. They are yet another form of corporate socialism and control of the masses by the wealthy elite.

How is it that we have a need for alternatives and "choice" where freedom and innovation are hailed and encouraged while our truly public schools have been held under the thumb of the most suffocating, oppressive, and punitive law imaginable, a law which guarantees their failure?

One of the tactics of those who seek the destruction of public education is to call our public schools "government schools". Ah yes...and just WHO is controlling our government? Corporations! There is no more zealous supporter of NCLB and high-stakes testing than the Business Roundtable. Government is not the problem when we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And a well-informed citizenry as opposed to a citizenry misinformed by the corporate-owned and controlled media.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Margaret Spellings Undaunted By Results of New Study

WASHINGTON, DC - According to a groundbreaking new $2 million study by the U.S. Department of Education, Ed Secretary Margaret Spellings will not realize her dream of all students being on grade level (an average) or beyond by 2014. Not by 2014, not ever. By any reasonable definition of the term, it was found that nationally about half of all students will always fall somewhere in a spectrum below average.

"These results are astounding," said officials. "Academic achievement actually falls along a continuum, like other human attributes."

Asked to comment, Spellings said, "I'm not into playing numbers games. Not once in all my travels have I met a parent who didn't want their child on grade level now—let alone by 2014. I know I do, and I'm sure every parent in the nation agrees."

In an entirely separate but equally compelling study on merit pay, researchers found that in the area of public education, a majority of highly paid politicians do not know what they are talking about. While the disastrous policymaking that results does not affect their pay, the consequences for children, teachers, and schools are devastating. More about merit pay to follow...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Hypocrisy from Rhee and Fenty

In this morning's Washington Post:

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle A.Rhee are discussing a dramatic expansion of their effort to remove ineffective teachers by restoring the District's power to create nonunionized charter schools and seeking federal legislation declaring the school system in a "state of emergency," a move that would eliminate the need to bargain with the Washington Teachers' Union.

About that STATE OF EMERGENCY dear Rhee and Fenty:

Indeed there is one! When the ed reform bigwigs who posture as messiahs for poor children while wagging fingers of blame at teachers and public education say it's time for the nation to declare a "state of emergency" about the condition of childhood itself among our nation's millions of children living in poverty, living amid violence, abuse, and neglect, living without adequate health care, then we may finally get some "reforms" that will make a difference in the lives of children.

A reminder that our nation is number one in childhood poverty among the wealthy nations and next to last in overall child well-being.

You say poverty is no excuse. No, it isn't. It's a grinding reality.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NCLB Legislation for Corporate Fat Cats

I first proposed the following legislation in October, 2007, and it was virtually ignored by Congress. Can you believe it? And here I am, an important blogger and all, not to mention an actual teacher. I was dreadfully disappointed. It's a finely crafted bill, really!
Well, maybe Florida teachers will like it.

With a new administration soon to take the helm, now seems the perfect time to re-introduce it:

HB 2014:
No Corporate Fat Cat Left Behind

It is proposed that in keeping with the 99.9% pure, bright line principles of NCLB accountability and transparency, the nation's primary beneficiaries of NCLB and high-stakes testing be administered the newly-crafted, teacher-constructed F-CATT (Fat Cat Test). All items on the F-CATT have been designed to be able to detect disingenuous responses, deception and/or incompetence by measuring individual responses against results of the NAEP-E, National Assessment of Ethical Practices in Education, to arrive at the test-taker's UMI, or Ulterior Motives Index. Conservative estimates are that at least 90% of test-takers will fail to demonstrate AEP, Adequate Ethical Practices, in the arena of public education reform.

Sister assessments to the F-CATT are under construction for politicians as well as the leading members of a highly networked web of corporate-funded, anti-public education propaganda machines, also known as think tanks. It is anticipated that the POTTY, Politicians and Opportunists Tempted by Testing Yardstick, will be ready for administration by spring 2009. The T-TIA, Tinkle Tank Incontinence Assessment, is being developed to diagnose an irresistible urge to eliminate public education through ideology masquerading as educational research.

Test takers can relax since no sanctions will be imposed for failure to make AEP. The test results will be reward enough for our nation's besieged public schools.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Barack Obama's Safety

I hope that Barack Obama and his family will be safe. I'm sure there are many of us who have fears that someone will try to assasinate him. I hate to throw this dreadful thought out there amid all the renewed hope that his election has inspired but I just came across an article which is chilling if accurate. And sadly, it comes as no surprise.

The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs. Palin's attacks.

I'm not posting this to fuel anger at Palin. The threat will be there with or without her irresponsible and inexcusable remarks linking Obama to terrorism. I'm posting this with the hope that if you are a praying person, you'll keep Obama and his family and our entire nation in your prayers.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Liar Liar Pants On Fire

For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings escaped serious injury today when the seat of her pants caught fire without any apparent source of ignition. The incident occurred in her office just minutes after she had addressed the House Committee on Labor and Education with this oft-repeated statement:
Over the last five years, NAEP testing demonstrates that 9-year-olds in the
United States have made more progress in reading than in the previous three
decades combined. Achievement gaps between white and black students in reading
and math are now the narrowest they have ever been.
Actually, average reading scores for 4th grade students have shown a 2 point gain since NCLB was implemented in 2002. Before NCLB became law, between 2000 and 2002, there was a 6 point gain. For 8th graders, scores have actually dropped a point.

An office worker immediately extinguished the flames with Spellings' custom made fire extinguisher, said to be a favorite novelty item and fixture in her office. The device was a gag gift presented to the Secretary by President Bush in 2006 after her infamous remark that NCLB is nearly perfect:

I talk about No Child Left Behind like Ivory soap: It’s 99.9 percent pure
or something. There’s not much needed in the way of change.

Emblazoned on the canister are the words "This is purity: Hold their feet to the fire until all on grade level." The message stands out in awkward disharmony with the soft Ivory soap colors and logo surrounding the device. Reportedly, the extinguisher was actually filled with Ivory soap foam and Spellings was cracking a soapy little smile as she was taken to an emergency room for treatment of minor injuries.

newsspoof by staff at This Little Blog

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Challenging the Assumptions Upon Which Decades of Uninspired "Ed Reform" Are Based

Longtime educator/administrator/author/thinker Marion Brady offers a challenge to the archaic standards and accountability movement that dominates education policymaking. Check out his refreshing and mind opening ideas at his website. And he has just offered online what he sees as a rough draft of an alternative general education curriculum based on systems theory rather than fragmented academic subjects. Check it out, it's free! His vision and ideas are at the very least well worth thinking about. Could it be we've been boxed up in such narrow thinking that we haven't realized powerful alternatives exist?

Just a couple of intriguing statements from Marion:

"Covering the content" – Forget this too. It hasn’t been possible since the
Enlightenment, and the assumption that it should be done (or at least attempted)
is naive and destructive. It’s best to see it for what it is–dynamic, constantly
changing, never equally appropriate for all students, and with the possible
exception of a tiny fraction of it, not worth storing in memory. Choose from it
what helps explain and elaborate the sense-making process. That process is the
main content.

Pacing – The whole idea of a "pacing guide" is ridiculous, a futile attempt
to standardize the unstandardizable. If you’re trying to help learners
understand something really important, there’s no point in moving on to a second
idea until they understand the first, even if that takes days, weeks, months. IS
tries to lay out the whole of the "liberal education" ball of wax, so don’t rush
it. Take as long as it takes.

Just keep an open mind, ponder the possibilities of what education could be, and enjoy a breath of fresh air...

Thank you Marion.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Defying Gravity: Trickle-Down Economics

There is a good article in the Baltimore Sun on the glories of trickle-down economics. Read it here.

Now I'm diverging a bit, but if only reporters would dig deeply and connect the dots between disaster capitalism and the enormity of big business efforts to undermine and discredit public education so they may have excuse to jump in and take over with their wondrous market solutions.

Child well-being has long been neglected in this nation and a crisis has been allowed to develop. Millions of children lack health insurance and millions are abused and neglected. Millions have parents who are drug/alcohol addicted. Scores are left alone to fend for themelves after school in crime-infested neighborhoods. About 2 million have parents in prison and 13 million live in poverty. We rank 20th out of 21 wealthy nations in child well-being. As to poverty, we rank dead last among 25 wealthy nations.

How convenient for politicians and the ruling elite who control them to wag fingers of blame and ridicule at public schools and teachers because achievement gaps exist. It diverts attention from our nation's collective and exceedingly costly failure to take care of our most vulnerable children. While children's most fundamental life needs go unmet, testing and more testing and more "standards and accountability" from our schools and teachers is always the refrain. That's the ticket. More of the same. Such vision!

Friday, October 17, 2008

National Museum of The Middle Class Opens In Schaumburg, IL

from the ONION, America's Finest News Source:

SCHAUMBURG, IL—The Museum of the Middle Class, featuring historical and anthropological exhibits addressing the socioeconomic category that once existed between the upper and lower classes, opened to the public Monday.

"The splendid and intriguing middle class may be gone, but it will never be forgotten," said Harold Greeley, curator of the exhibit titled "Where The Streets Had Trees' Names." "From their weekend barbecues at homes with backyards to their outdated belief in social mobility, the middle class will forever be remembered as an important part of American history."

Museum guests expressed delight over the traditions and peculiarities of the middle class, a group once so prevalent that entire TV networks were programmed to satisfy its hunger for sitcoms.

"It's fascinating to think that these people once drove the same streets as we do today," said Natasha Ohman, a multi-millionaire whose husband's grandfather invented the trigger-safety lock on handguns. "I enjoyed learning how the middle class lived, what their customs were, and what sorts of diversions and entertainment they enjoyed. Being part of this middle class must have been fascinating!"

During the modern industrial age, the middle class grew steadily, reaching its heyday in the 1950s, when its numbers soared into the tens of millions. According to a study commissioned by the U.S. Census Bureau, middle-class people inhabited great swaths of North America, with settlements in the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest, and even the nation's urban centers.

"No one predicted the disappearance of the middle class," said Dr. Bradford Elsby, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania. "The danger of eliminating workers' unions, which had protected the middle class from its natural predators for years, was severely underestimated. We believe that removal of the social safety net, combined with rapid political-climate changes, made life very difficult for the middle class, and eventually eradicated it altogether."

One of the 15 permanent exhibits, titled "Working For 'The Weekend,'" examines the routines of middle-class wage-earners, who labored for roughly eight hours a day, five days a week. In return, they were afforded leisure time on Saturdays and Sundays. According to many anthropologists, these "weekends" were often spent taking "day trips,"eating at chain family restaurants, or watching "baseball" with the nuclear family.

"Unlike members of the lower class, middle-class people earned enough money in five days to take two days off to 'hang out,'" said Benson Watercross, who took a private jet from his home in Aspen to visit the museum. "Their adequate wages provided a level of comfort and stability, and allowed them to enjoy diversions or purchase goods, thereby briefly escaping the mundanity."

Many museum visitors found the worldview of the middle class—with its reliance on education, stable employment, and ample pensions—difficult to comprehend.

Thirty-five Booker T. Washington Junior High School seventh-graders, chosen from among 5,600 students who asked to attend the school's annual field trip, visited the museum Tuesday. Rico Chavez, a 14-year-old from the inner-city Chicago school, said he was skeptical of one exhibit in particular.

"They expect us to believe this is how people lived 10 years ago?" Chavez asked. "That 'Safe, Decent Public Schools' part was total science fiction. No metal detectors, no cops or dogs, and whole classes devoted to art and music? Look, I may have flunked a couple grades, but I'm not that stupid."

Others among the 99 percent of U.S. citizens who make less than $28,000 per year shared Chavez's sense of disbelief.

"Frankly, I think they're selling us a load of baloney," said laid-off textile worker Elsie Johnson, who visited the museum Tuesday with her five asthmatic children. "They expect us to believe the government used to help pay for college? Come on. The funniest exhibit I saw was 'Visiting The Family Doctor.' Imagine being able to choose your own doctor and see him without a four-hour wait in the emergency room. Gimme a friggin' break!"

While some were incredulous, others described the Museum of the Middle Class as "a trip down memory lane." William Harrison, a retired social worker with middle-class heritage, said he was moved to tears by several of the exhibits.

"You wouldn't know it to look at me, but my parents were middle class," Harrison said. "Even though my family fell into poverty, I cherish those roots. Seeing that section on middle-class eating habits really brought it all back: the Tuna Helper, the Capri Sun, and the cookie dough in tubes. Oh, and the 2-percent milk and reduced-cholesterol butter spread! I was thankful for the chance to rediscover my past, even if the middle class is gone forever."

The Museum of the Middle Class was funded primarily by the Ford Foundation, the charitable arm of the Ford automotive company, which sold cars to the middle class for nearly 100 years.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Resurrecting "The Case Against Standardized Testing"

It never ceases to amaze me the enormously overblown credence placed in standardized testing to judge the quality of teaching and learning. It is their overuse and misuse that constitutes educational malpractice.

Please, if you are willing, read and circulate this award winning article by teacher Peter Henry, one of the founding members of the Educator Roundtable. The article won an award from the Minnesota English Journal in 2007.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Politics of Disaster Ed Reform in the United States (with apologies to Robert Frost)

Two roads converged in a dense wood
And sorry I took not only one but both,
Which merged into one, long I stood
Pressing schools down as hard as I could
With truth kept hidden in the undergrowth.

Taking the easy road as just and fair
I bought the fear and assigned the blame.
Posturing for poor children wanted no wear -
Framing the issue covered evidence there -
The ruling class wanted more of the same.

And on that morning hidden lay
The leaves that I had trodden black.
Oh, I kept that knowledge for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever turn back.

I shall be telling this with regret and a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads in a wood merged into one, and I -
I took that road so easily traveled by,
And for poor children it made little difference

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Corporate Welfare: Robbin' Hood in Reverse

"Capitalism will always survive in the U.S. as long as the government is willing to use socialism to bail it out." A quote from Nathra Nader, Ralph Nader's dad, who emigrated to the United States in 1912 at the age of 19.

But I love this
proposal from Norm Scott at Education Notes Online today:

Instead of putting 800 billion into the corporate
hoppers - supposedly to keep the economy humming and preventing unemployment,
how about putting the money directly into people's pockets by a New Deal style
WPA that would create jobs that could fix the deteriorating infrastructure, put
people in many places where they are needed (London and Tokyo have so many
people working at each subway stop to provide help and assistance), and goodness
gracious, even enough teaching positions to cut class

Why not, politicians?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More on Gingrich (The Historian??)

History itself soundly disproves the alarmist propaganda of A Nation At Risk. Yet here, Gingrich vomits it up again and adds steroids. Note the connection to ED in '08, Al Sharpton, Roy Romer, and Lisa Graham Keegan, McCain's education advisor.

Incredibly, Gingrich calls for the Secretary of Defense to issue an annual report on education as a national security matter and calls the "failure" of math and science education in the United States the second greatest threat to our national security (next to a terrorist attack).

I can't believe these people! How do they get away with this stuff?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Newt Gingrich to the Rescue

All is well. Follow this link, where Gingrich lays out an 18 point "recipe" of prescriptions to fix the economy. Among other things his plan would lower corporate taxes, further the deregulation of the financial industry, and of course put children first through incentives and competition.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mayor and Chancellor Conclude Invitation-Only Summit on Reducing Classroom Overcrowding


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein met again today with billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, representatives of the Business Roundtable, and think tank experts to address the issue of overcrowding in many of the city's traditional (non-charter) public school classrooms. Today's gathering was the final meeting in a 3-day summit and culminated in a plan of action that is almost certain to raise eyebrows among tens of thousands of parents and teachers who were not consulted.

Determining that it is not feasible to reduce overcrowding numerically through smaller student/teacher ratios, the elite group claim they will offer a more innovative solution while at the same time saving taxpayers millions of dollars over time. According to Mayor Bloomberg:

We will contract with Furniture Solutions, Inc. to alter or reforge existing student desks into Bunk Desks, two desks stacked on top of each other. The desks will meet the highest industry safety standards. In addition, we have agreed to raise ceiling tiles in these overcrowded classrooms by a minimum of six inches.

To add to a sense of spaciousness, we will install nearly wall-to-wall
shatterproof acrylic mirrors in the classrooms. A growing body of
research suggests that the presence of large mirrors in classrooms
highly with students working harder and being less inclined to
cheat on
standardized tests compared to control groups performing the same
tasks in
non-mirrored settings. We believe physical self-reflection will
lead to more
ethical and philosophical self-reflection on the part of
students and

Unconfirmed reports are circulating that the group also plans to include the installation of two-way mirrors in many classrooms to allow for surveillance of classroom instruction by what some teachers refer to as the 'accountability police'.

spoof by staff at This Little Blog

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Recent Spike in Signers on Educator Roundtable Petition to Dismantle NCLB

As the election of our next president draws near, we're seeing a spike in petition signers. Bit by bit, the incremental destruction of public education will continue to take place if teachers and the public do not take a stand. If you agree with the Educator Roundtable call to dismantle the current iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB) please please spread the word about our petition.

Specifically, we are asking that the pre-NCLB Elementary and Secondary Education Act be restored as a starting place for genuine reforms, reforms that at long last incorporate the wisdom and experience of parents and teachers, those closest to the children themselves.

It is our view that the hypocrisies, absurdities, and anti-public schoool tactics of NCLB are so unjust (especially to poor and minority children) that tinkering with or merely reforming the law, while well-intended by some, runs the great risk of merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and ultimately plays into the hands of elites who would like to see our system of public education transformed into a profit-making industry.

Just a couple of recent comments left by petition signers:

NCLB now appears to be a stratagem to dismantle U.S. education in order to
create an ignorant, gullible, manipulable, and USABLE mass of workers that
help fill the coffers of the few.

Note: I personally believe that some who supported NCLB were well-intended, though misguided. But regardless of motive and intent, I agree with the above petition signer that the law does work to foster an "education" that will produce a mass of workers for the global economy who have had little opportunity to learn to question and think for themselves, nor even discover their own unique potentials, interests, and aspirations. Keep in mind that the vast majority of jobs being created by the global economy are low paying.

Petition comment from a parent:

I am very upset about the small amount of time my son gets for recess. He's
only in 1st grade and is complaining about the amount of work he is required to
do. I am afraid that this law is taking away his love of learning and will
stifle his imagination at the ripe old age of six.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

About Those Little People and the Teachers Who Want to Serve Them

Just came across a video of Jonathan Kozol discussing the content of his book, "Letters to a Young Teacher". Although the video is a year old now, it is as timely as ever. Kozol humanizes both children and the teachers who work with them. High-stakes testing and standardization can easily rob both of the diversity of gifts and talents that make them who they are and who they might become.

Children are not miniature adults. They are children. And they are individuals, naturally and wonderfully resistant to being standardized. The burden and the loss that result from the maniacal obsession with standardized testing fall most heavily on poor children, as Kozol notes. And I feel compassion for my colleagues teaching in the inner cities. If they have become defensive, perhaps it is in large part because they are maligned and scapegoated relentlessly. I am fortunate that the conditions under which I am allowed to teach are far better, although no one is escaping NCLB unscathed. Across the nation, from the day our doors open for the first day of school, education is about The Tests.


Education should be about developing the individual child, not producing standardized workers for the global economy.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ed Reformers Urge Vow of Celibacy for New Army of Teachers


A group of prominent education reformers, headed by former Secretary of Education Rod Paige, is urging the institution of what is sure to prove one of the most highly controversial initiatives in education reform history. To ensure that all children are well educated and equipped to succeed in the global economy, new teachers would be required to renounce marriage in order to devote themselves more fully to the task of preparing each and every child to excel in standardized test-taking.

Paige said the inspiration for the Alliance for Teacher Abstinence is based on the grueling KIPP model of schooling. The Knowledge is Power Program is the most well-respected charter school network in the country. Its college preparatory schools serve predominantly low-income black and Hispanic students. KIPP students endure 9 hour school days, attend school two Saturdays per month, mandatory summer school, and hours of nightly homework. Their teachers are on call 24 hours per day to answer student/parent questions. KIPP schools receive glowing accolades and millions in funding from the corporate world.

According to Paige, credited with the Texas Miracle when superintendent of schools in Houston, "Without imposing celibacy, we realize that the success of KIPP schools is not widely replicable to all public schools across the nation. Celibacy will free teachers from concerns which might distract them from the rigor, strength of character, and discipline necessary to closing all achievement gaps. Most KIPP teachers are single, unfettered by the demands of marriage, and able to be on call 24 hours per day. On the other hand, very reliable data prove that the majority of public schools teachers are married. Some put the figure as high as 77%."

Reformer and civil rights activist Amy Wilkins added, "We simply CANNOT ignore the consequences that result when teachers are distracted from their mission to raise test scores by the demands of marriage and parenthood. We know it sounds radical, but we favor federal monitoring and annual standardized celibacy testing to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that teachers have remained unmarried. We would also offer incremental merit pay based on the number of years a teacher remains celibate."

The organization boasts the membership of another former Secretary of Education, Bill Bennett, often dubbed the Great Moralizer. Bennett is authoring the Institutio Generalis Missalis Educo, a handbook of morning and evening meditations and rituals to assist teachers in remaining celibate and true to a single-minded focus on raising children's test scores. In what appeared to be a paraphrase of the Apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians, Bennett said it is good that teachers should be free from all concerns which might distract them from the mission which has been assigned to them.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kudos to The Perimeter Primate

for her insights into the corporate hijacking of our public schools and the undermining of democracy under the guise of "philanthropy". Beware of billionaires bearing gifts.

...democracy in my city was pushed aside, permitting a set of wealthy
individuals (especially billionaire Eli Broad who inserted himself in the
management of Oakland Unified in June 2002) to acquire power over my school
district, and about the millionaires and billionaires who have gained control
of, and have infested, public education throughout our country under the guise
of “philanthropy” and “educational reform.” I am one of those who is repulsed by
this phenomenon.

Thanks Perimeter Primate. Here's a satirical piece I wrote about ole' Eli.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wal-Mart EduNews

Through the Walton Family Foundation, Wal-Mart has awarded EduBuild USA's local affiliate in Charterville, Arkansas 1.2 million in grants to build at least 100 units of affordable housing for the families of low-income Wal-Mart associates. Across America, EduBuild USA recruits student volunteers from a pool of recent high school graduates of Wal-Mart funded charter schools. Volunteers receive training in construction work as well as an intense six weeks training in ethics and community-building.

In other EduNews, Wal-Mart is piloting a dental health program called Building Bridges in select locations in Arkansas and Texas. In exchange for enrolling their children who qualify for admission in private schools, associates who have all their teeth will receive one free cleaning and check-up as well as a $1200 school voucher paid in full by the corporation. Associates with missing teeth whose children qualify and enroll in private schools will receive a $2100 tuition voucher and may elect to have up to $125 per month withheld from their paychecks to build up a nestegg for needed bridgework. Wal-Mart hopes to eventually expand the program to include dental healthcare for the children of Wal-Mart associates.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Do Not Send Your Kids to Public Schools!

Why? Have a look at these shocking statistics:

**Fully half of all public school children score below average on standardized tests.

**An astonishing 89% of our nation's school-age children who are obese attend public schools.

**A whopping 94% of all urban crimes are commited within a 7 mile radius of a public school.

**At least 83% of all convicted felons below the age of 100 were at one time enrolled in a public school.

**Before the dawn of public education, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia were virtually unheard of.

**In primitive tribal societies that have no public schools, there is an amazingly low incidence of cancer.

**According to private industry estimates, every day innumeracy in our public schools negatively impacts 6 out of 4 children.

**79% of wealthy televangelists surveyed, including Pat Robertson and Jimmy Swaggart, will attest that public schools are evil dens of secular humanism employing godless teachers.

And, perhaps most frightening of all:

**A far higher number of students who attend public schools rather than private schools will become axe murderers.


Monday, August 4, 2008

McGraw-Hill Natural Remedies For Teachers

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stephen Colbert - Not Enough Eyebrow Raising Sir!

I'm afraid our esteemed Secretary of Spin Margaret Spellings received only a gentle ribbing at best about the No Child Left Behind Act when she appeared yesterday on The Colbert Report. She made the usual dubious claims about the success of NCLB and blustered for the 9,999th time about "all children on grade level".

Don't ya wish lightning-quick-on-the-draw Colbert, catching her off balance, had fired something like this at her?
As norm-referenced tests have given way to criterion-referenced tests, I suppose no one can really define "grade level" anymore. Even in the "norm-referenced days" when it was understood that by definition, nationally 50% of all students are always below grade level, it was an arbitrary thing.

But the absurdity stands, no matter the definition: No goal can be both challenging to all and achievable by all.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Chicken Little Story

One day Chicken Little was walking in the woods when -- KERPLUNK -- a walnut fell on her head. She pecked the walnut open and inside was a note from the ED in '08 / Strong American Schools campaign.

"Oh my goodness!" cried Chicken Little. "There is a crisis in our public schools that threatens our nation's economic competitiveness! The Tests prove it! I must go tell the Congress."

Wise Old Owl was watching and wasn't fooled for a minute.

"Chicken Little, who is controlling you?" he asked. But she did not listen nor stop to think.

As she hurried on her way to the nation's capitol, Chicken Little met teacher Henny Penny and her students. Henny Penny said they were going on a field trip to the woods to learn more about the worms they loved to eat.

"There's no time for that!" cried Chicken Little. "I've received word that our schools are failing! Hurry back to class and prepare for The Tests." So Henny Penny and her little brood marched sadly back to class.

Chicken Little went on her way as fast as she could. Soon she met teacher Cocky Locky and his students. Cocky Locky said they were going on a field trip to the woods to learn about the seeds they loved to eat.

"There's no time for that!" cried Chicken Little. "I've received word that our schools are failing! Hurry back to class and prepare for The Tests." So Cocky Locky and his little brood marched sadly back to class.

Chicken Little hurried along as fast as she could. Soon she met teacher Turkey Lurkey and her students. Turkey Lurkey said they were going on a field trip to the woods to learn more about the berries they loved to eat.

"There's no time for that!" cried Chicken Little. "I've received word that our schools are failing! Hurry back to class and prepare for The Tests." So Turkey Lurkey and her little brood marched sadly back to class.

Chicken Little went along as fast as she could. Then who should appear but sly old Foxy Woxy.

"Where are you going, my fine feathered friend?" asked Foxy Woxy. He spoke in a polite manner so as not to frighten her.

"Our schools and teachers are failing us!" cried Chicken Little. "I'm on my way to warn the Congress."

"I know a shortcut to the capitol," said Foxy Woxy. "Come and follow me."

But wicked Foxy Woxy did not lead Chicken Little to the capitol. He led her right up to the entrance of his fox hole. Once they were inside, Foxy Woxy would gobble her up!

Just as Chicken Little was about to enter the fox's hole, they heard the sound of murmuring and stopped.

It was Wise Old Owl accompanied by a mass of wondrous animals of all kinds calling themselves 'We the Creatures'. The dogs chased Foxy Woxy away. How he ran across the meadows and through the forests, with the hounds close behind! He ran until he was far, far away.

"Who has been controlling you Chicken Little?" asked Wise Old Owl.

Chicken Little thought for a moment. "The ruling class?"

"Yes. Someone with connections to the ruling class dropped the walnut on your head," said Wise Old Owl. "Remember, just like Foxy Woxy, the ruling class wants to control you for its own selfish ends. I've sent word to Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, and Turkey Lurkey to resume their field trips and boycott The Tests. You must learn to think and question and so must the children in our schools."

After that day, if perchance -- KERPLUNK -- a walnut fell, Chicken Little didn't panic at all.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Anti-Public School Soap Opera Digest - Part 2

The Young and the Restless
The Young and the Tested to Death:

The Los Angeles Times reports that "California mandates testing every eighth-grader in algebra -- ready or not".

WHY?? Under the current oppressive regime of high-stakes testing, we are
already witnessing a great surge of demoralized, disengaged students dropping out of school altogether.

Rather than lifting children up, respecting their differences, and expanding their opportunities for success, we are severely limiting their options and opportunities, pushing many right out of school. Why in the name of kindness do we insist that all children be able to achieve the same things?

While I am no big fan of IQ testing, I wonder if those who are imposing such one-size-fits-all mandates don't need to be reminded that approximately 50% of our nation's population have IQs below 100, with approximately 23% of that population having IQs ranging from 70 to 89?

The ruling elite of the ed reform industry (and it is indeed an industry) insist on challenging standards for all. But if all could meet the same challenging standards, the standards wouldn't be challenging would they?

Children are individuals. Attempts to standardize them will crush the hopes and dreams of many. All people are of equal value but their abilities, interests, gifts, and talents vary enormously. IQ tests and standardized tests in general do not measure what matters most in life. Our nation is made stronger and better by respecting, embracing and developing the vast diversity of gifts and talents our children present to the world. I believe the maniacal "standards and accountability" movement is sending us headlong in the opposite direction.

It is wonderful that some students can excel in Algebra and higher math - thank God for them. Our world needs them and their contributions are great. No doubt some professions and fields require such skills - but only a very few. Most Americans do not use algebra or higher math in their work or day to day lives. Good basic arithmetic covers virtually all of the important day to day math skills needed by the vast majority of Americans. Am I wrong here?

Learning is good for its own sake. Learning algebra, good in and of itself, should be an option, not mandatory.

Apologies for getting on my soapbox with this "soap opera" entry. Just can't help myself and I am reminded of the following scriptures as an analogy. A footnote in my NIV Bible notes that these scriptures were apparently addressed to believers who felt that their gifts were inferior and unimportant while the more spectacular and showy gifts like speaking in tongues had been glorified in the Corinthian church. Regardless of one's particular faith or beliefs, I think this analogy works well for those of us who oppose standardization:

1 Corinthians 12: 14-26

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Anti-Public School Soap Opera Digest - Part 1

As the World Turns
As the Secretary Spins:

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (see photo here), spins and distorts the truth about the most recent Department of Education findings, which showed (yet again) that students who received taxpayer funds to attend private schools in Washington D.C. did no better in reading and math tests than their peers in the DC public schools. Find her spin on the findings here, where she claims, "Better schools. Higher scores. And satisfied parents".

Staff at This Little Blog ask readers of Maggie's spin (linked above) to note the sudden shifting of metrics for success when private schools do not produce superior test results.

One of the hallmarks of propaganda is that those who disseminate it attribute to others the behaviors they themselves make a practice of:

We, too, must place student welfare above personal ideology.

This little blogger says it takes gall for Corporate Maggie to speak of "placing student welfare above personal ideology" when she and her corporate-serving ilk are the very embodiment of such behavior.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Anniversary of Some Words Worth Remembering

On July 12, 2006, Michael Winerip wrote his last education column for the New York Times, Teachers, and a Law that Distrust Them.

Here are some quotes from the piece that our politicians would do well to ponder:

Instead of helping teachers, for me it's a law created by politicians who distrust teachers. Because teachers' judgment and standards are supposedly not reliable, the law substitutes a battery of state tests that are supposed to tell the real truth about children's academic progress.

The question is: How successful can an education law be that makes teachers the enemy?"

...We need a No Family Left Behind Law. This would measure economic growth of families and punish politicians in charge of states with poor economic growth for minority families.

Under the No Family Left Behind Act, if states failed to make adequate yearly progress toward closing the income gap,

...the governors and legislators would be judged failing, and after five years, could be removed from office. This way public schools wouldn't be the only institutions singled out for failing poor children.

Finally, Winerip closed with a well-loved quote from William Butler Yeats and recommended it "as the official motto for a new, revitalized No Child Left Behind law."

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Marion Brady letter to Senator Obama

If by chance you have not already done so, I urge you to read Marion's excellent letter, consider signing, and forward the letter to others for their consideration. The future of America's children is at stake. Thank you!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Teacher Granted Interview with President Bush


Hot on the heels of the Scott McLellan book and Susan Neuman's shocking admission that NCLB was actually a privatization scheme, I traveled to Washington and was granted an exclusive interview with the President. The interview is causing quite a stir. I called my mom and told her about it. My girls read it. I called four of my naive teacher friends with whom I've argued over the years about Bush's suitability for the presidency and shared the interview with them. "I told you so!" I said. That sent them reeling. Now I'm sharing the interview with you.

INTERVIEWER: Mr. Bush, I understand the press corps gave you a good-natured ribbing at a recent correspondents' dinner, including some jabs about the No Child Left Behind Act.

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, right. That roast, heh, it was quite a performance, lots of self-defecating humor. In West Texas, probably your state too, we've got an idea, a saying, an idea - whatever - that you can't take yourself too seriously. I got schooled up East but I was raised in Texas so I'm a down-home kind of guy. I'm...what was that? I'm self- defecating when the occasion calls for it. I'm humble and I don't take my mind too seriously but make no mistake, when I'm Decider I do...take my laws seriously. As the Decider I have to do some tough deciding about what's right for the country.

INTERVIEWER: I watched footage of the correspondents' dinner. Susan Neuman's admission that NCLB was really a privatization scheme, at least in the minds of some if its engineers, was addressed. Your response at the dinner generated some laughter. You have since denied that the law was intended to discredit public schools.

THE PRESIDENT: Presidenting isn't easy. As I said, you have to do some tough deciding. The No Child Left Behind Law is a good law. It's working. It's meant to rattle some cages and shake the feathers off our public schools, exposing their failures to educate.

INTERVIEWER: Sir, there are many signs the law isn't working. Dropout rates are rising and the achievement gaps the law was meant to address have hardly budged.

THE PRESIDENT: The dropout rates are rising? Yeah, I heard some rumors about that were running across the internets. And we've still got some pockets of persistent literacy across America which is unacceptable but we're making progress. NCLB must be strengthened and reauthorized and continued to allowed to spread its wings of faith and compassion around America's school childrens to capture that illiteracy, hold them captive, and spread their wings of literacy and soar out of poverty. You teach a child to read and they can pass a literacy test and compete for good competitive jobs in the global economy.

The soft bigotries of low expectation has got to stop. Before NCLB, seldom did teachers ask, "Is all my students learning? If so, which is and who isn't?" We've given teachers tools to help all their students soar. You've got data dis aggrandized into those oh what is it -Look it up -those groups of divisions those subgroups, that's it. NCLB is based on sound scientific-based assumptions proven what works and doesn't work to educate all children to grade level.

And parents need to help. When Laura and I were little we loved to read to our girls. Sometimes when I sleep at night I think of Dr. Seuss's Ham and Eggs book...the green ones. And I l like hop on pop-up books.

to be continued...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Reverend Al and Hip Hop Nursery Rhyme

In honor of opportunist civil rights leader Al Sharpton, who joins a distinguished panel of ed reformers whose message is backed by billionaire philanthropists with an agenda. Note the ED in '08 signers.

O hippity hippity hop
bounds Reverend Al to the flock
of wolves who posture as sheep!

Great wealth commandeering

high-stakes engineering
best democracy money can buy
we are positioned as saviors!

Crush them, blame them,
tighten the screws
frame the debate
public education will lose.

High-stakes testing
convenient device
we demand accountability
in a smothering vise!

Predetermined failure
the kids need a savior
we are defenders of the poor!

We're corporate messiahs
offering choice long denied you
privately run "public" schools
and freedom to innovate!

O hippity hippity hop
a culture of fear and control
on we go, imposing our way
controlling the masses
for the children's good we say!

OK, not so good. But it's the message.