Saturday, September 29, 2012

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A Teacher Responds to “Won’t Back Down”

Julie Cavanaugh is a special education teacher at PS 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
She was one of the makers of the documentary “The Inconvenient Truth Behind ‘Waiting for Superman’”
She now reviews “Won’t Back Down” and explains what is really necessary to reform schools today.

Is It Really “All About the Kids”?

The review in the New York Times of the anti-union film makes an important point: when people loudly insist that “it’s all about the kids,” you can be sure that it’s not.
As A.O. Scott puts it, “A movie that insists, repeatedly and at high volume, that ‘it’s all about the kids’ might just cause you to wonder what else it is about, and this one is not shy about showing its ideological hand.”
Surely, you have noticed how often the corporate reformers use terms like “children first,” “students first,” 

For-Profit Corporations Buying Idaho Education?

I try not to mix into partisan politics, but sometimes it is unavoidable. I support public education, and I oppose those trying to privatize it for fun and/or profit.
For example, Tony Bennett in Indiana should be defeated, as should Tom Luna in Idaho. These two state superintendents are favored by corporate reformers and can be counted on to continue welcoming for-profit enterprises to take over public schools and children.
In Idaho, a solid red state, there is an educator running against Luna. The Luna forces typically paint Clayton Trehal as a tool of the “union bosses,” but neglect to acknowledge that Idaho is a right to work state where the teachers’ union is weak.
Luna is a favorite of corporations and vendors, but that’s ok.
Trehal is an online teacher who opposes for-profit management of online instruction. He says that what students 

Teacher: Why Chinese Education Should Not Be Our Model

In response to an earlier post, a teacher in Connecticut writes:
My wife’s school here in CT has developed an international program in which they take on and board a large number of Chinese students, whose parents definitely think it is worthwhile to get them out of Chinese schools. 

Seamus the Dog and Teacher Evaluation

Kevin Welner is director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
If you open the link to this article, you can find Welner’s links to research and contrary views on the issue.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2012 8:09 PM
Teacher evaluation and Seamus
By Kevin Welner
Since it’s campaign season, I figured it might be fun to respond to this question using an extended metaphor, 

The Big Tradeoff: Common Core and the Budget

Mike Fair, a Republican legislator in South Carolina, worries about the cost and complexity of the new standards and tests.
When you read about the heavy spending that lies ahead, in a time when school budgets are being slashed and teachers laid off, you can see why the Common Core national standards/national tests movement is warmly endorsed by the technology industry.
This is an excerpt:
School districts will need enough computers to allow almost every student to take multiple annual exams. These computers must be suitable for the “innovative” test items and must be maintained and upgraded. Add to this 

About Dr. Steve Perry

CNN contributor Steve Perry is an ardent critic of unions and everyone else who is not supportive of the corporate reform movement.
Bruce Adams of Buffalo took the time to review Dr. Perry’s recent book.

A Recipe for Failure?

In response to a post about standards for pre-schoolers, this reader wrote:
As far as I am concerned, with all the variety of disabilities under special education, English language learners, 504, medical plans, modifications and accommodations, full inclusion, differentiation, and now the new term: responsive teaching and any other new fad coming our way…this is an impossible feat and the Common Core State Standards will just widen the achievement gap even more.
But, maybe that is the purpose and then they can close down even more schools and further segregate the 

How High-Stakes Testing Harms Children

Parents and teachers know that high-stakes testing has negative consequences on students and the quality of their education. It causes narrowing of the curriculum, so students have less instruction in history, civics, the arts, and even physical education. Some schools have eliminated recess to make more time for test prep.
Anthony Cody published a guest column by Rog Lucido, an experienced teachers who is co-founder of 

Why Asian Schools Should Not Be Our Model

Jay Matthews has written about education for many years in the Washington Post, where he blogs regularly. A few years ago, he wrote a laudatory book about KIPP.
It is always interesting when Jay steps outside the reform agenda and criticizes it. For example, he shouted “whitewash” when the D.C. Inspector General swept the Rhee cheating scandal under the rug a few months ago 

Pallets for Pedagogues?

StudentsLast suggests the future of teaching in this essay.
Things are so nutty these days that I must warn you. This is satire.

Who Gets to Pull the Trigger?

Rightwing think tanks, ALEC, and the big corporations are excited about the idea of parents “seizing control” of public schools and handing them over to private corporations. But this parent wonders who will be allowed to pull the trigger and who will be left behind:
….. who does and does not have “trigger rights”? My children went to the public schools but have since graduated. Do I still have trigger rights, or did I lose them when my youngest child graduated? Conversely, if your children are not yet school-age do you get a say because any decision will affect your children when they reach 

More Bad Reviews for Anti-Union Movie

I will see “Won’t Back Down” soon, I promise.
I don’t want to, but I will do it because I have to.
Meanwhile, movie reviewers are rendering their judgment.
They say it is a lousy movie.
The best lines so far are in the review in the Los Angeles Times:
That’s because unions turn out to be the most pernicious of all the obstacles to healthy schools, worse even