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.