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.