Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fraud at the Heart of Current Education Reform | Creative by Nature

Fraud at the Heart of Current Education Reform | Creative by Nature:

Fraud at the Heart of Current Education Reform

charter3


For many Americans it is becoming increasingly clear that the people behind current education “reforms” in the United States are purposefully attempting to sabotage the nation’s schools and deceive the public. Such is the story shared in a new book Common Core Dilemma by Mercedes Schneider and a documentary Education Inc coming out this August, by filmmaker Brian Malone. It’s a tale that was told last year by Diane Ravitch (see this excellent March 2014 Bill Moyer’s interview) and in Building the Machine: The Common Core Documentary. Here’s a summary of the fraud that is being perpetrated, a Letter to the Editor which I wrote to a local New York state newspaper last March…
Fraud at the Heart of Current Education Reform
There’s a scene in the film Dead Poet’s Society, set in 1959, where Robin William’s character Mr. Keating asks his students to read from the introduction of a poetry textbook. The text describes a rating method by which one can measure and assess the greatness of poems. After charting and rating a poem on the blackboard Keating tells his students this method of assessing poetry is “excrement.” Next he instructs them to rip the entire introduction out, which they proceed to do, putting the pages into a trash can.
ab16ee1eda360fe8a5836df4d760fa2a“This is a battle, a war, and the casualties could be your hearts and souls,” Keating tells his students. We can’t understand poetry by measuring it with numbers, by comparing and ranking poems. We don’t study poetry in order to get good grades. “We read and write poetry,” Keating says, “because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion.”
The film goes on to show how the students learn to express themselves creatively, to experience life more deeply as they come to appreciate how their lives are like verses of poetry. Both Williams and his character Keating encouraged all of us to live as poets, with gratitude and passion, to cherish the beauty of life, to appreciate our own uniqueness, and not to measure, rank or compare ourselves with others.
It’s an important life lesson, which unfortunately the architects of 21st Century school reform either do not understand, or do not care about. Since 2001, when George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” policies were put into motion, we’ve experienced a nation-wide obsession with assessment, ranking, testing, measuring, and quantifying both students’ Fraud at the Heart of Current Education Reform | Creative by Nature:

Schools for Democracy – Deborah Meier | Creative by Nature

Schools for Democracy – Deborah Meier | Creative by Nature:



Schools for Democracy – Deborah Meier

Deborah Democracy
I’d like to share some insightful observations from one of the “real” pioneers in education reform, Deborah Meier. In this presentation she made in Chicago, from 2006, Dr. Meier talks about how most of America’s schools function as authoritarian institutions, where democracy and collaboration are neither practiced, taught, experienced or modeled.
This is a huge failing of our nation, because in order for children to truly understand democracy they need real life opportunities to observe and apply it. Dr. Meier’s insights are aligned with the ideas of progressive educators such as John Dewey and Maria Montessori, as well as the research of Barbara Rogoff, and the theories of Lev Vygotsky, about the role of apprenticeship experiences, adult modeling and scaffolding with children’s learning.
In another presentation, she said:
“The motives of the drivers behind NCLB—which fixes in law our misplaced obsessions—vary, but between them they have helped create a climate that removes democracy from our schoolhouses. Folks like us who advocate a different kind of childhood are on occasion labeled elitist, failing to confront the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged that requires that we throw overboard the frills of childhood along with the frills of local democracy.
“The” poor need, our critics argue, something different—something more akin to a boot camp with a boot camp approach to intellectual skill and authority. And to this end, they say, we must cut out our romantic love affair with local democracy.”
I would argue that Dr. Meier’s ideas are not romantic, and that designing schools for democracy is an idea whose time has come. It’s also something that is backed up with real research evidence, and has already been successfully implemented in many places.
A few months ago, in the New York Times article Make Schools a Democracy, UC Berkeley Prof. David Kirp described how the Escuela Nueva (New School) model has been flourishing in thousands of Columbian and Latin American schools for decades:
“Escuela Nueva turns the schoolhouse into a laboratory for democracy. Rather than Schools for Democracy – Deborah Meier | Creative by Nature:

First Marylin Zuniga – Now Art and Humanities Classes – Cops Calling the Shots in Discourse at NJ Public Schools

Decarcerate The Garden State: First Marylin Zuniga – Now Art and Humanities Classes – Cops Calling the Shots in Discourse at NJ Public Schools:

First Marylin Zuniga – Now Art and Humanities Classes – Cops Calling the Shots in Discourse at NJ Public Schools



It started with the persecution of Marylin Zuniga.  She is the elementary school teacher whose students wanted to send get well cards to Mumia Abu Jamal, a former death row incarcerated man who was convicted in a sham trial over seen by a judge with proven racist beliefs.  Mumia Abu Jamal has been denied access to adequate health measures and has been subjected to medical and dietary neglect resulting in severe health deterioration.  Ms. Zuniga allowed some of the students to write cards out to Mumia as an after class work voluntary activity.

The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, a scandal plagued organization whose members have been involved in police violencedrug related scandals and other corruption complained about it and the media broadcast the complaints resulting in a massive backlash agains Ms. Zuniga and ultimately to her being removed as a teacher – inspite of massive community protests in defense of her.

Now the stage is set in NJ – the police are getting to the point of calling the shots of what is acceptable discourse in the halls of NJ public high schools.  In at least two cases so far, police have intervened in attacking educators and high school students – one case an art class project and in the other case a humanitarian class project.  The pressure from the police is effective – both in intimidating administrators to the point of acquiescing to the police demands and also in creating a chilling effect where administrator, educators and students will likely think twice before freely expressing their views about the violence and impunity emanating from today’s policing.

First there was an art project at Westfield High School.  Students there expressed themselves artistically in pieces that were themed around the protest of the ongoing killing with impunity – 
throughout the USA as well as in NJ.  News report:



In this case the art was exhibited for a couple of days at an art show and police and media went haywire that students would dare to criticize police impunity.  By the time the superintendent responded the art show was over so no repressive measures were taken to censor the art.  A superintendent letter was issued attempting to clarify the situation – and contain the controversy:
 
I have to give the superintendent credit for tactfully rebuffing the attempts to attack the art exhibit – hopefully though it will not result in suppressing future free expression by students at Westfield High School.

The more recent flare up does not have such a result however.  In this case it was a humanities class in which posters addressed several sides of policing issues – including critical of police killings with impunity –on the hallway walls of the school.  Once again – cops – perhaps emboldened by Marylin Decarcerate The Garden State: First Marylin Zuniga – Now Art and Humanities Classes – Cops Calling the Shots in Discourse at NJ Public Schools:



Special Nite Cap: Catch Up on Today's Post 6/14/15


SPECIAL NITE CAP 

CORPORATE ED REFORM





CURMUDGUCATION: Building Social Capital
CURMUDGUCATION: Building Social Capital: Building Social CapitalTop of my serious summer reading list is Robert Putnam's new book, about which I expect I'll blog plenty once I've read it. But I assigned myself a pre-reading exercise. I'm going to write out what I think I understand about social capital and where it comes from.Social capital is a kind of fancy term for a quality that is critical fo
Marie Corfield: Fixing NJ's pension crisis: Do. Or do not. There is no try.
Marie Corfield: Fixing NJ's pension crisis: Do. Or do not. There is no try.: Fixing NJ's pension crisis: Do. Or do not. There is no try.Last week dozens of NJEA members rallied outside the state house to protest the State Supreme Court's ruling and Gov. Christie's refusal to fully fund the pension system. The rally/lobby day (there are two more next week) was part of NJEA's efforts to push the leg
A report on Steven Adamowski and Windham – Because Parent’s Voices Matter - Wait What?
A report on Steven Adamowski and Windham – Because Parent’s Voices Matter - Wait What?: A report on Steven Adamowski and Windham – Because Parent’s Voices MatterThe announcement that Steven Adamowski would be forced to release his grip on Windham’s public schools was met with a variety of emotions in the community.  The huge sigh of relief was combined with an overwhelming sense of anger and bitte
EVAAS’s Bill Sanders: “I’m Full of &$%#” | VAMboozled!
EVAAS’s Bill Sanders: “I’m Full of &$%#” | VAMboozled!: EVAAS’s Bill Sanders: “I’m Full of &$%#”Following up on my most recent post — about VAM developer Bill Sanders who is soon to receive a distinguished award for his TVAAS/EVAAS efforts — oh I wish how I had the technical talent to take the sign in this picture here……and place it on the chest of Bill Sanders in this picture here (…thank
Ed Notes Online: A Principal Asks a Question About E4E on CTS Listserve - and Gets Answers
Ed Notes Online: A Principal Asks a Question About E4E on CTS Listserve - and Gets Answers: A Principal Asks a Question About E4E on CTS Listserve - and Gets AnswersHas anyone worked with E4E (Educators for Excellence)? They seem to be influential at the policy level. .. a NYC PrincipalThe positions of E4E and the Unity/UFT leadership are very much in alignment. We've tracked E4E since its beginni
Happy Birthday, BATS! | Diane Ravitch's blog
Happy Birthday, BATS! | Diane Ravitch's blog: Happy Birthday, BATS! When I first heard about the BadAss Teachers two years ago, I had trouble saying their name. It seemed rude and crude. But I overcame my reaction and celebrated the emergence of a group of teachers who were prepared to stand up and be bold and fearless on behalf of their students and their profession.They asked me to share this ne
Milwaukee Residents Fight The Takeover Of Their Public Schools | ThinkProgress
Milwaukee Residents Fight The Takeover Of Their Public Schools | ThinkProgress: Milwaukee Residents Fight The Takeover Of Their Public SchoolsMILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN — As Governor Scott Walker’s state budget inches toward passage, parents, teachers and students are taking to the streets to oppose sections of the education budget, which include sweeping changes they say would effectively privatize man
The awful effects of the Regents proposed APPR regulations: What every teacher and parent should know | Round the Inkwell
The awful effects of the Regents proposed APPR regulations: What every teacher and parent should know | Round the Inkwell: The awful effects of the Regents proposed APPR regulations: What every teacher and parent should knowOn Monday, the New York State Board of Regents will meet to vote on the NYSED recommendations for changes to APPR.If APPR was bad before (and it was) it is about to get conside
Ed Notes Online: George Schmidt on Winter Chicago Teacher Strike Possibilities - Warm Socks
Ed Notes Online: George Schmidt on Winter Chicago Teacher Strike Possibilities - Warm Socks: George Schmidt on Winter Chicago Teacher Strike Possibilities - Warm SocksI find these bulletins from George immensely illuminating on the goings on in Chicago education. He is not without criticism of the Chicago Teachers Union leadership, even though he remains a supporter. At times he seems to think som
My Turn: Leaving behind No Child Left Behind | Juneau Empire -• Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska
My Turn: Leaving behind No Child Left Behind | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper: My Turn: Leaving behind No Child Left Behind FOR THE JUNEAU EMPIRETwenty-two to zero. In sports, that sounds like a convincing football score. In the halls of the United States Senate, though, such unanimity is nearly unheard of. But I am proud to tell Alaska’s parents, students and teachers that
Editorial: Civil rights and charter schools - Boulder Daily Camera
Editorial: Civil rights and charter schools - Boulder Daily Camera: Editorial: Civil rights and charter schoolsTwin Peaks Charter Academy valedictorian Evan Young, who was barred from delivering his valedictory address at the school's ceremony, gets a hug from former Twin Peaks physics teacher Dallin Witt after delivering the speech at a private home in Boulder. As part of a message about respecti

YESTERDAY

Gov. Wolf sits down with Inquirer, talks schools
Gov. Wolf sits down with Inquirer, talks schools: Gov. Wolf sits down with Inquirer, talks schoolsGov. Wolf repeated his call for a 5 percent tax on extracted natural gas. (MICHAEL PRONZATO / Staff Photographer)Note to Philadelphia students, teachers, and parents: Gov. Wolf sees you.Five months into his term as Pennsylvania's chief executive, he has already spent more time in Philadelphia School D
Special Nite Cap: Catch Up on Today's Post 6/13/15
SPECIAL NITE CAP CORPORATE ED REFORMScrap the MAP test: My Kindergartner Joins the Opt Out Movement! | I AM AN EDUCATORScrap the MAP test: My Kindergartner Joins the Opt Out Movement! | I AM AN EDUCATOR: Scrap the MAP test: My Kindergartner Joins the Opt Out Movement!Last week the Seattle School District told my kindergarten son to take the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test.Given my intense


CURMUDGUCATION: Building Social Capital

CURMUDGUCATION: Building Social Capital:

Building Social Capital





Top of my serious summer reading list is Robert Putnam's new book, about which I expect I'll blog plenty once I've read it. But I assigned myself a pre-reading exercise. I'm going to write out what I think I understand about social capital and where it comes from.

Social capital is a kind of fancy term for a quality that is critical for education, but also for pretty much everything else, and it's another way to understand the differences between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, that goes beyond simply saying, "Some people have money and some people,  not so much." And if you like your social studies woolgathering to have some science included, I've written before about this long study in Baltimore by John Hopkins. The marque headline was that family and money "cast a long shadow," but what was really casting the shadow was social capital.

I feel like I know a little something about social capital because I have lived most of my life in the same small town, and when we talk about how the quintessential small town is different, I think one way of understanding what we're talking about is social capital-- though even in small town America, we're losing it, and have been for a century or so (I've read Putnam's previous work,Bowling Alone-- everybody should).

So what do I think are some of the critical elements of social capital, why do they matter, and how have we stopped building them? 

Interconnectedness

In a small town, everybody knows everybody. This does not mean that everybody is friends, but there is a level of familiarity that creates a sort of comfort that comes from having known somebody for decades so that every encounter is not charged with the sort of defensive fling-out that marks so many simple encounters in a big city. And it means that after decades, we may not be buddies, but we have an understanding, even to the point that w get along well because I know who you are and how you are and it's like the local climate-- it just is what it is.

Part of that interconnectedness is that we encounter each other in a variety of roles. The guy who 
CURMUDGUCATION: Building Social Capital:


Marie Corfield: Fixing NJ's pension crisis: Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Marie Corfield: Fixing NJ's pension crisis: Do. Or do not. There is no try.:

Fixing NJ's pension crisis: Do. Or do not. There is no try.





Last week dozens of NJEA members rallied outside the state house to protest the State Supreme Court's ruling and Gov. Christie's refusal to fully fund the pension system. The rally/lobby day (there are two more next week) was part of NJEA's efforts to push the legislature to do something—anything—to stave off impending disaster when the fund runs dry in 12 years.

When the NJEA members drowned out the voice of Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, who was addressing a small group of Americans for Prosperity counter protesters, he responded with this:



"Do you want to yell at me or do you want to have a discussion? Because quite frankly, if we're just going to yell, we're not going to get anywhere."
...
“This is the type of ignorance and screaming that gets us nowhere. … You have to make a real plan that’s sustainable so, long term, we can take care of our dedicated workers, make sure that the pensions are there, make sure that in two or three or five years from now, it doesn’t fall apart. Screaming, ‘just make the payment,’ doesn’t get me $2 billion.” 
(emphasis mine)
Look, I get it, no one wants an angry mob screaming and yelling at them, and when people are pushed, they kinda tend to push back. I'm not attacking Asm. O'Scanlon. I have never met him, nor do I have extensive knowledge of his voting record and/or history with public employee unions. From his Twitter posts (more below), he seems like a reasonable guy who is willing to communicate with constituents in an open forum. His altercation with NJEA members is but a snapshot in the larger pension crisis picture. 

That said, we are not ignorant. Frustrated? Yes. Angry? You betcha! But we are not ignorant. We know full well what's going on right now and we're not taking 
Marie Corfield: Fixing NJ's pension crisis: Do. Or do not. There is no try.:

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION
EduBloggers

Latest News and Comment from Education