Saturday, April 5, 2014

LISTEN TO DIANE RAVITCH ALL WEEK LONG Diane Ravitch's blog 4-5-14 #thankateacher #EDCHAT #P2

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The North Carolina legislature recently voted to expand the number of deregulate, privately managed charter schools in the state. One that opened last fall, StudentFirst Academy in Charlotte, announced that it would close its doors on April 11, leaving nearly 300 students unprepared for state exams and scrambling to find a school. The school struggled financially almost from its first dy, when en

Let’s face it. Some people have the Midas touch. Take Jon Hage, the CEO of the for-profit charter chain, Charter Schools USA. He was named Floridian of the Year. He has a yacht named “Fishin’ for Schools.” And he has figured out a cool way to make his charters very profitable. This comes from Coach Bob Sikes in Florida: “This week’s hilarious story that Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage o

As this post demonstrates, when you have dinner with Julian Vasquez Heilig, you dine with a very active and imaginative mind. There you are thinking of a stiff drink, and he is thinking of the Odyssey! You are blowing off steam about the latest outrage from Washington, and JVH is cogitating. You are comparing notes on how California and New York are dealing with federal pressure to conform and buc

David Sirota: Rahm’s Secret Slush Fund Rewards Friends, While He Cries Deficits
David Sirota, who has become one of our nation’s top investigative reporters, here tells the story about how Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel says there is no money, that public pensions have emptied the city’s coffers, and that he has to close schools because of a huge deficit. But Sirota says that the Mayor has found plenty of money for favored projects, funded by his “Tax Increment Financing distri
Peter Greene: Why Standardized Tests Are Meaningless
Our policy makers are in love with standardized tests. They can’t talk about education without talking test scores. If I could wave a magic wand, I would have every politician, every pundit, and every state commissioner take the 8th grade math test and publish their scores. Or take the PARCC test for 8th grade. If they did, the results would be interesting and there might be less complaining about

A Teacher Offers Sound Advice to Tom Friedman
John Ogozalek teaches in upstate Néw York. He read Tom Friedman’s column in the Néw York Times on Sunday and had a strong reaction of cognitive dissonance, as in, why can’t Tom be consistent? Tom Friedman’s describes a thrilling ride on a nuclear submarine, where there is no room for error. At one point, an admiral says, “There is no multiple-choice exam for running the sub’s nuclear reactor.” If
Andrea Gabor: Charters Are Harming Public Schools by Pushing Out Kids with Disabilities
Andrea Gabor, the Michael Bloomberg Professor of Journalism at Baruch College of the City University of New York, has an opinion article in today’s New York Times, where she patiently explains that charter schools enroll a smaller proportion of students with disabilities, causing the neighborhood public schools to have a larger proportion of the students with the highest needs than the charter sch
Michelle Rhee: Why Parents Must Never Opt Out (Unless Their Children Go to Private Schools)
I came across an article in the Washington Post by Michelle Rhee, in which she chastised parents who opted their children out of state tests. This article made me happy, because it shows that the Queen Bee of high-stakes testing is worried. She is worried that the opt out movement is gaining traction. She is worried that parents are sick of the Status Quo of the past dozen years. If parents opt ou
Kline and Miller Seek More Federal $$ for Charters
The charter schools are making the big money grab. Not content to have the full support of both ALEC and Obama, of hedge fund managers who control billions of dollars, of the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Dell Foundation, the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, and scores more foundations, they now seek additional federal funding. Having seen the havoc tha

YESTERDAY Website Gets 150,000 Hits in a Couple of Days
The new website where teachers and parents can comment on the new tests has registered 150,000 hits in the 2 or 3 days since it was launched, according to Susan Ochshorn of ECE Policy Matters. A great place to hear from teachers.
Pearson Wants You!
This confirms what Todd Farley wrote in his book about the testing industry, “Making the Grades,” and what Dan DiMaggio wrote in “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Test Scorer”: A reader in Austin sent this ad on Craig’s List: Posted: 25 days ago Seeking Talented And Qualified Individuals To Score Essays! (Austin, Texas) compensation: $12.00 Use Your Degree To Make A Difference! Pearson Wan
NYC Parent: Cancel the Tests!
Jeff Nichols appeals to State Commissioner King and Chancellor Farina to call off the math tests. He writes: Dear Commissioner King and Chancellor Fariña, Events are moving very fast. You are no doubt aware that today the principal, staff and parents of one of the most highly regarded schools In New York City, PS 321 in Brooklyn, will be holding a protest outside their schools to decry the abysm
Educator Reacts with Disgust to Common Core Tests
Teachers and administrators have been posting their comments on the new Common Core tests at the new website testing This was typical. I copied this from the website just now and thought you might like to see this. Bravo to this principal. I wish I taught for him/her! Disheartened and Disgusted Author: Anonymous, Administrator, Principal | State: NY | Test: State test: P
The Best and the Worst about My Day at AERA#14
I went to Philadelphia to attend the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting and to participate in two events.   First, a conversation with Philadelphia parent leader Helen Gym about the current efforts underway to destroy and eliminate public education in that city.   Then, a lecture to the John Dewey Society.   And an evening capped off by dinner with Linda Darling-Hammond and
Third Grade Teacher: What Are We Testing?
On the website, there are many interesting comments about the three days of testing English Language Arts. Why does it require so many hours to find out how well children read? No one knows, or if they know, they aren’t saying. Here is a thoughtful reflection by a third-grade teacher: “I have been wondering for years now what these tests are really accomplishing, and this year I am
Waltons Send Big $$$$ to North Carolina for Voucher Advocates
Now that North Carolina is controlled by an extremist governor and legislature intent on destroying public education, the Walton Family Foundation has increased its support for groups advocating for vouchers in that state. Lindsay Wagner writes in NC Policy Watch: “The Walton Family Foundation, known for supporting vouchers, charters, and other school privatization initiatives across the country
New Tests: Where Is the Great Literature?
One of the selling points for the Common Core was that it would turn to great literature and drop the pablum formulaic passages of the past. This teacher says the tests were the same old, same old: “Seems strange that so much of the “authentic literature” on the tests seems to come from children’s magazines. Many of the stories, while decently written, don’t seem that different from passages writ
Common Sense in Meridian, Mississippi
The Board of Trustees of the Meridian, Mississippi, public school district voted unanimously to terminate an agreement with Freedom Rock Christian Fellowship Church because the church planned to open a charter school.   “Freedom Rock is among a dozen groups statewide that have filed applications for the first charter schools in Mississippi. The Meridian church and its parent organization New Desti
Test Yourself: Can You Solve PISA Problems? Does It Matter?
In the past few days, the media has barraged us with stories about how American students rank on PISA’s “problem-solving” test. We were told that they scored better than average yet still behind other nations.   But what is the test and what does it mean?   Andy Hargreaves of Boston College, co-author with Michael Fullan of Professional Capital, tweeted to me an article in the British press that c
Molly Rowan Leach: Time to Liberate Our Children from the Atrocities Imposed on Them
As the great testing machine begins to take over our children’s lives, parents are waking up to the damage done to their children, bordering on child abuse.   Some children are traumatized by the fear and high-stakes attached to the tests. They fear failure. They fear being held back a grade. They fear that they will cause their teacher to be fired or their school to be closed.   What evil minds c
Steve Zimmer on the Vergara Trial
The Vergara trial is an effort by a Silicon Valley multi-millionaire to eliminate due process rights for teachers in California. The theory of the case is that due process (AKA, tenure) makes it hard to fire “bad” teachers, and thus poor kids get more bad teachers who can’t be fired. This violates their civil rights. Los Angeles superintendent John Deasy testified for the plaintiffs. No one asked
David Berliner on Early Childhood Education
As the debate about universal pre-kindergarten heats up, it bears listening to one of our nation’s pre-eminent researchers, David Berliner. He writes:   There are some European citations about early childhood education that are often left out of the debate in the USA. But we use them in 50 myths and lies that threaten American public education (Berliner, Glass and Associates, 2014, Teachers Colleg
Ken Mitchell: Beware! VAM Lawsuits Ahead!
Kenneth Mitchell, a school superintendent in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York, has been concerned about the costs imposed on school districts by Race to the Top. He previously estimated that six districts in his region would spend $11 million to comply with the mandates of Race to the Top, which paid these districts $400,000. In this comment, he describes a recent meeting with lawyers about pos
The Texas Testing Mess: Who Stabbed the Vampire?
Jeffrey Weiss here writes in the Dallas Morning News about “How the Texas Testing Bubble Popped.”    One man, the courageous State Commisssioner of Education, Robert Scott, said what was on everyone’s minds.   Everyone thought he was a loyal soldier in Governor Rick Perry’s army, a slave to standardized testing.   But then he said the words that gave hearts to parents and educators in Texas and ac
Peter Greene: US DOE Boasts of Success of Race to Top
The main consequences of Race to the Top are chaos, disruption, demoralization, and teachers exiting their profession. Judged by results, the program is not just a failure, it is a menace to children, teachers, and education. But that’s not the way the DOE describes their $4.3 billion boondoggle. This is what Peter Greene says.
Pearson Wants to Help You Swim in the Digital Ocean
In case you didn’t know it already, privacy is dead. The National Security Agency has asserted the power to listen to your phone calls and read your emails. Now we learn from Pearson and the esteemed (Sir) Michael Barber (the architect of a philosophy known as “Deliverology”) that the capability to monitor the actions, behaviors, even thoughts of every student is at hand. We are all about to take

APR 03

What Educators Say About the Common Core Tests
On the new website, educators are venting their rage at tests that are developmentally inappropriate and overly technical in their approach to reading. Go to the website to read more comments. Here is one principal: Day 3 of the Common Core NYS ELA is absurd. The third grade test includes an excerpt from a book that, according to Sch
Arne’s PR Guy Wants to Go on Tour with Me But I Want to Debate Arne or Bill
Valerie Strauss received an odd April Fool’s column, allegedly written by her, announcing that Peter Cunningham, known as Arne Duncan’s mouthpiece or his brain, had had a conversion experience, has turned against the Race to the Top policies, and plans to go on tour with me to explain why we now are on the same page. Valerie checked with him, and he is game. Now, I admit I like Peter even though
“A Tale of Two States”: Funding Inequity in New York and New Jersey
A new report by the Education Law Center, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the Alliance for Quality Education, and the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York contrasts the funding of public education in New York and New Jersey and finds two different worlds in two neighboring states: On opposite sides of the Hudson River, New York and New Jersey stand only a mile apart. But when it comes to
Pelto: A Very Bad Day in Connecticut
Jonathan Pelto writes here that yesterday was a very bad day for public education in Connecticut. The State Board of Education voted to hand out $80-100 million over five years to privately managed charters, most known for excluding the neediest kids. And they voted full steam ahead on Common Core, pet project of the corporate elite, guaranteed to increase testing and costs of hardware, software
Greg Taranto: Be a Hero, Slay the Testing Beast
Greg Taranto, principal of Canonsburg Middle School, was named was named 2012 Middle Level Principal of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals. He now joins our Honor Roll for his courage in speaking up for students and good education.   Taranto says that testing is out of control, it is absurdly expensive, draining resources from schools, and of cou
UCLA Report: New York Has the Nation’s Most Segregated Schools
According to the UCLA Civil Rights Project, New York State has the most segregated public schools in the nation. Nearly three-quarters of the charter schools in New York City are considered “apartheid schools” because less than 1% of their enrollment is white. Charters are often more racially segregated than the district in which they are located.   2014 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the landm
Julian Vasquez Heilig: Why Not Tell the Truth about Charters?
San Antonio is set for a major expansion of privately managed charter schools. Several national chains will open there, welcomed by the mayor and the business community. The San Antonio Express News published an opinion column by an advocate for the corporate charter chains, but refused to print Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig’s succinct rebuttal. Despite the blue-sky promises of the charter indu
Who Supports Common Core?
We have heard constant patter about who opposes Common Core. According to Arne Duncan, only the Tea Party and a few disgruntled cranks oppose it. But more interesting is who supports Common Core. Aside from Arne Duncan and the organizations that created it, Common Core has the fervent support of Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, a dozen hard-right Republican governors, and corporate America. Erin Osborne
How Texas Moms Beat Back the Standardized Testing Machine
Jeffrey Weiss has a terrific story in the Dallas Morning News about the Texas moms who beat the powerful testing lobby. Whenever anyone says that democracy can’t defeat the plutocrats, think of Texans Advocating for Meaningful,State Assessment. they said, “Enough is enough.” And they got busy. The moms not only organized an effective opposition to Pearson’s lobbyists, they changed the minds of l

APR 02

Parent Power Vs. inBloom; Parents Win, for Now
New York State cut all ties with inBloom, the controversial data-mining project sponsored by the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. The legislature, which totally ignored parent demands for new faces on the New York Board of Regents, bowed to parent protests against the State Education Department’s determination to share confidential student data with inBloom. In this post, Leonie Haim
Chicago Plans to Fire Every Adult in Three Public Schools
Following Arne Duncn’s failed “turnaround” strategy, Chicago Public Schools plans to fire every staff member in three schools. This follows on the heels of closing 50 schools last year. When will Rahm Emanuel end his reign of destruction? Closings by Another Name CPS Wants to Fire Every Adult at McNair, Gresham and Dvorak Elementary Schools On Friday, March 21, The Chicago Board of Education ann
Walton Family Foundation Puts $164 Million into Privatization Movement
The Walton Family Foundation released its list of grantees in the education world, and once again, the foundation put its huge resources into privatizing American public education. The billions that hard-working families spend at Walmart are used to support privately managed charters and vouchers and to undermine democratic local control and traditional public schools. Some of the biggest recipi
Jason Stanford: Texas Battles the Testing Vampire
Jason Stanford is a trustworthy guide to the politics of education in Texas. He keeps close watch on who is paid to lobby for Pearson and notes how hard they work to convince the Legislature that more testing is needed. It is a neat circle. They say the schools are failing. The Legislature slashes the budget for everything but testing. The lobbyists say the test prove the schools are failing and n
Will New Jersey Pay TFA for Inexperienced, Uncertified Teachers?
A resident in Néw Jersey, one of the nation’s highest-performing states, wonders why the Legislature might pay Teach for America to lease inexperienced, uncertified young recruits who promise to stay for only two years: “Members of the NJ legislature are considering a bill that would allocate taxpayer funding for placement of Teach for America recruits into at-risk schools. TFA lobbied these legi
Parent: Why We Opted Our Child Out of State Testing
A parent in New York City explained her family decision to opt out of state testing. “This morning, our fourth grader refused the standardized tests. “After months of research, debate, personal grappling and weighty discussions with our 9-year old child, we have decided that for our family, this mindful act of civil disobedience is the right choice — right for our kid, right for our parental con
Utah: Land of Equality of Austerity
A teacher writes from Utah to explain conditions there:   I teach in Utah, the lowest per pupil expenditure state. Ironically, we are also one of the most equitable in funding. We have no money, but ALL of our districts have no money. I have 256 students. That equals out to over 30 for each class but two (out of nine total). HOURS spent grading, calling parents, etc. In my district, we’ve just bee
A Response to Dr. Cashin and Cooper
Drs Cashin & Cooper, Thank you for an insightful article. I wish there was a way for the reformers to absorb this information. Because of the harsh test focused school environments of chronic stress, most children no longer have a “safe haven”. The same seems to apply to their home environment as well, since most parents have become indoctrinated to focus on their child’s “performance”, at th
Correction: United Opt Out Website Still Down, Major Hacking
I reported earlier that the United Opt Out website had been hacked, but that it was fixed and up again. I checked, and there it was. Then I was gone all day because I was lecturing at Syracuse University. When I returned to the hotel, I found this message from Peg Robertson: “Hi Diane, So, even though it looks like the website is up, it isn’t. It’s a ghost site. SuperCache was enabled on the site
Florida’s Voucher Boondoggle Flounders, But Legislators Want More
Florida legislators king to expand vouchers, even though the voters turned down an effort in 2012 to change the state constitution to permit vouchers for religious schools. The measure was defeated 58-42, despite Jeb Bush’s efforts to pass it. An earlier voucher program was struck down as unconstitutional by the state courts. The only current voucher program is for students with disabilities, call
How to Locate United Opt Out
As you may know, the website for United Opt Out was hacked yesterday, and many of its internal files were destroyed. What you will find if you go there is a “ghost site,” not the real thing. In the meanwhile, here is an alternative site to visit as efforts to reatore the original continue: “Diane – do you mind sending folks here in case the “ghost sit
Jeanne Rotunda on the Emotional Lives of Children
Journalist Andrea Gabor graciously offered her blog to retired principal Jeanne Rotunda to reflect on her years as a school leader in New York City. Having worked in a city that became famous for its obsession with testing and data, Rotunda was an oddity. She cared about the emotional life of children. She knew that the children needed kindness and security to be able to concentrate on school. The
Colonialism in Néw Orleans: A Dean Reflects
Julian Vasquez Heilig posted a narrative by the dean of students at a Néw Orleans charter school, describing the harsh treatment meted out to students–especially black males–at the school. The author writes that the best way to understand the tightly structured culture at the charter school was through post-colonial studies. The dean writes: “Are some charters’ practices new forms of colonial h
Jonathan Katz on Some Problems of Common Core Mathematics
Jonathan Katz taught mathematics in grades 6-12 for 24 years and has coached math teachers for the past nine years. He prepared this essay for the New York Performance Standards Consortium, a group of high schools that evaluates students by exhibitions, portfolios, and other examples of student work. The Consortium takes a full array of students and has demonstrated superior results as compared t

APR 01

A Discussion of PARCC Common Core Test Question: Picky and Pointless
The new website, includes a fascinating discussion of a question on the test. Open the link to tread it. Here was a comment by another teacher: “Today my 24 gems sat down to take the NYS ELA test, book 1, day 1. This test consisted of 5 passages and 30 multiple choice questions. I felt the passages were okay readability, but the questions were unlike anything I’ve ever experience
Thousands of Students in Long Island Opt Out of State Tests
Newsday reports that nearly 6,000 studentsrefused to take the state ELA test on Tuesday. Think how absurd these Common Core tests are. Students in grades 3-8 sit for four hours of reading tests, then four hours of math tests. Why so long? I think the bar exam is shorter. When the scores are eventually reported, the students have a different teacher. The scores are not broken down to show what s
KrazyTA with a Tribute to Our Conversation!
TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED. The symmetry of two ones followed by six zeros in less than two appeals to me. So please excuse a bit of long-winded impertinence about how I view this blog. DO NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED: “Diane Ravitch’s Blog A site to discuss better education for all.” 75 may be the new 45, but remember that Michelle Rhee literally is 44 years old and has a real staff of 120 and Diane Ravi
Brooklyn Parents: Can You Hear Me Now?
These remarks were delivered by a parent in Brooklyn at the Opt Out rally: “Good morning and welcome to Brooklyn! “My name is Kemala Karmen and I am the parent of a 4th grader at PS 146, the Brooklyn New School. In recent years, our borough has earned a reputation as a trendsetter in everything from Indie music to urban farming to participatory budgeting—pioneered in NYC by Council Member Brad Lan
Should We Send EduShyster to Hobnob with the Thought Leaders at Whiteface Lodge?
EduShyster volunteers to join the mighty and the very rich at Camp Philos, where our self-anointed thought leaders will figure out how to hasten the privatization of public schools and how to get rid of those expensive veteran teachers, while encouraging more young people to spend a year or two as “teachers” before finding their real career. Is that a real Paypal button? If it is, I am donating t
United Opt Out Website Working Now
Peg Ribertson’s technical advisor fixed the damage to the United Opt Out website. It is working again. Pay them a visit.
What Makes a Mass Movement?
A reader posted this video recently, and I couldn’t stop laughing.   What makes a movement? Here is the answer.     Be a leader, be a follower. Let’s build a mass movement!  
Bob Shepherd: You Can Always Trust Data
A frequent commentator, Bob Shepherd, with many years in curriculum development, education publishing, and assessment, offers sage advice: “The tests are infallible. They are objective measures. And we know that because they produce data. And not just any old data. Data with numbers and stuff. Very rigorously determined raw-to-scaled-score conversions and cut scores and proficiencies. Super-doope
The Height of the Ridiculous
Oliver Wendell Holmes was a remarkably gifted man: physician, author, poet, a man of many talents . This poem, which he wrote in 1833, is a favorite of mine. These days, we are surrounded by so much that is ridiculous that satire becomes nigh impossible. But that’s all the more reason to laugh when we can. *********************************************** The Height of the Ridiculous I WROTE some
United Opt Out Site Severely Damaged: Message from Peg Robertson
A message from Peg Robertson, who is a leader of the Opt Out movement and manages the United Opt Out website: My computer guru friend who is working on the UOO site states: “The United Opt Out site was attacked, and essentially corrupted from its internal databases. The hacker crippled every single SQL table, and left them unrepairable, and our site frozen and inaccessible to administrate.” He is
This is No Joke: Hackers Attacked Website of United Opt Opt
Coincidence? Just as state testing begins in state after state, the website of United Zopt Out was hacked, with the intention of destroying it. That is the go-to site for parents seeking information about state laws and their rights. Contact Peg Robertson to see when it will be up again.
A Flash Mob in a Fish Market In Odessa
This is not an April Fools’ joke. Russian troops are massed on the borders of Ukraine. People are shopping in the fish market in Odessa, going about their daily life. Then a flash mob appears. What do you think they do? Why do these notes always speak of hope? Why do they stir us so? Why do we hear this music and think of a better world? Thank you, Andrew Sullivan, for posting this beautiful scene
April Fools’ Day: How Governor Cuomo and the Legislature Tricked the Parents of New York
Carol Burris here describes how Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York legislature pulled a fast trick on the parents of the state.
Peter Greene: VAM for Dummies
Peter Greene just keeps writing hit after hit. This one explains what VAM means and why it works well in manufacturing but not in dealing with human beings. He explains how Pennsylvania measures teacher quality: PVAAS uses a thousand points of data to project the test results for students. This is a highly complex model that three well-paid consultants could not clearly explain to seven college-e
Bill Gates Agrees to Debate Anthony Cody!
April Fool’s Day!
Bill Gates and Arne Duncan Agree to Debate Me!
April’s Fool’s Day!
The Onion Explains the 13-Step College Admissions Process
Valerie Strauss posts here a hilarious explanation of the college admissions process, as devised by those witty folks at the Onion. The Onion would have a hard time satirizing the education “reform” movement of our time, where every day is April Fools’ Day.
Eleven Million Page Views in Less than Two Years!
Dear Friends, Today this blog reached the unbelievable number of eleven million page views! I had no idea this would happen when I wrote the first post on April 26, 2012. Thank you for reading. More than that, thank you for participating. Many of you contribute regularly to what must be the liveliest discussion about education on the Internet. I read your comments and pick out some that are th
More than 70% of Parents at 3 Brooklyn Schools Opt Out
What happens when parents say “No, not with my child”? They protect their child against state-sanctioned harm. PRESS RELEASE EMBARGOED UNTIL 9:15 AM APRIL 1, 2014 BROOKLYN, NY Contact 1: Elizabeth Elsass, 917-605-3640, Contact 2: Dani Liebling, 347-218-3107, GROUNDSWELL OF BROOKLYN PARENTS FROM BROWNSVILLE TO CARROLL GARDENS REFUSE STATE TESTS A grassr
Diana Senechal: Time to Teach the Inhumanities
Diana Senechal, author and high school teachers, has found what is needed in American education today: a renewed emphasis on the Inhumanities. Senechal has identified a district in Wisconsin where this new initiative is taking place. “Rhino Falls, Wisconsin—Citing a global trend toward ruthless school and workplace practices, Superintendent Mark Sequor called on for a steep increase in the inhum
Feel the Joy as Sister Christina Rocks It!
April 1 is a day for joy, not just a day for tricks and foolishness. If you want to feel some joy, watch this video of a nun who rocks Italy’s TV talent show. 
EduShyster: Education Reform Inc. Vs. Democracy
EduShyster here reviews some of the very worst movies now available through Reed Hastings’ Netflix. She begins by reminding us that Hastings is certain that elected school boards will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history as corporate style charters take their place, relentlessly determined to push test scores through the roof. Hooray for the corporate takeover of public education and the d

MAR 31

Share Your Story about the Common Core Tests
An invitation to join a new website and share your stories about the Common Core tests. Hello friends, I am writing with exciting news about, a national website created to gather on-the-ground feedback about the new Common Core tests being piloted this spring. Your help in spreading the word about is critical. With this new forum, parents and educators across the co
NPE: We Met in Austin to Drive a Stake Through the Heart of the Vampire
Jeffrey Weiss, a reporter at the Dallas Morning News, asked me why the Network for Public Education decided to hold its first national meeting in Austin, Texas. I remembered something that Robert Scott, a recent state commissioner of education in Texas, said about high-stakes testing. He said it was “the heart of the vampire,” the heart of a new military-industrial complex. He put it this way: “Th
A Parent Seeks Your Help: Stop Abusive Testing
A comment from a reader:   Hi! I’m going through the same problem right now with my son who will be taking the state testing for the first time this year. He is on the spectrum, and is incredibly bright, but can only demonstrate it on tests if it is presented to him in a way he understands. He thinks, reasons, and understands at a different level of comprehension than what is on these tests. I ask
Are You Attending American Education Research Association Meeting in Philadelphia?
If the answer is yes, please come to one or both of the two sessions where I am speaking on April 3. I will give the John Dewey Society lecture at the Convention Center, 100 Level, Room 114, from 4-7 pm. (Lots of time for discussion). My topic: “Does Evidence Matter?” Fair warning: The room holds only 600 people. Before the Dewey lecture, I will join Philadelphia parent activist Helen Gym and Carl
Rob Astorino, Cuomo Opponent for Governor, Will Opt His Children Out of State Testing
Rob Astorino, County Executive of Westchester County, announced today that he and his wife have decided to opt their three children out of state testing. Astorino opposes both the high-stakes testing and the Common Core as intrusions on local control imposed by Washington and Albany.   Astorino, a Republican, is running for Governor against Andrew Cuomo.   He has twice been elected as County Execu
This Public School Principal Decides to Homeschool His Youngest
Tim Farley has had it. He knows what the state and federal government is mandating is wrong. He knows it hurts children. He will do his best to protect the children from these harmful and spirit-deadening demands. But he will home-school his youngest child. He explains why here: Tim Farley writes: My wife and I have finally hit the breaking point. We can no longer sit by and watch the educational
Opt Your Child Out of State Testing: Don’t Feed the Machine
This week begins the make-or-break, do-or-die standardized testing that will label your child a success or a failure. I urge you not to let your child take the state test.   Opt out.   The best test for students is the test made by their teacher. Teachers know what they taught; they test what the students were taught. They get instant feedback. They can find out immediately which students didn’t u
US DOE Struggles to Prove That VAM Works, But It Doesn’t
As is well known, the U. S. Department of Education zealously believes–like Michelle Rhee–that low test scores are caused by “bad” teachers. The way to find these ineffective teachers, the theory goes, is to see whose students get higher scores and whose don’t. That’s known as value-added measurement (VAM), and the DOE used Race to the Top to persuade or bribe most states to use it to discover who
Sacrificing Social Workers, Psychologists, Counselors, the Arts, and Athletics for Test Prep
Kathleen M. Cashin and Bruce S. Cooper are on the faculty of Fordham University. Dr. Cashin, an experienced educator, is also a member of the New York State Board of Regents. She is regularly in the minority on votes that increase the pressure for high-stakes testing. Dr. Cooper is a scholar who has written about school finance for many years. In this essay, they criticize the state’s pressure to
The Dallas Institute: An Intellectually Exciting Experience for Teachers
This wonderful article in the American Educator describes the work of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, which has been conducting summer seminars for teachers for 30 years. It opens the story through the eyes of a teacher named Keith Black: “Instead of being subjected to what he disparagingly calls “PowerPoint drudgery,” Black spent eight hours each day dis- cussing classic works of
New York’s Dumb State Budget Deal
In writing the state budget, New York legislators totally capitulated to the billionaire-funded charter industry. Of course, they were egged on by Governor Cuomo, who now sees himself as a national leader of the school privatization movement. (He is even leading a retreat with other prominent figures of the movement to turn public schools over to private management. Please note that the “philosoph
Katie Osgood: Don’t Change Our Kids, Change Our World
Katie Osgood works in a psychiatric hospital for adolescents. She weighs in here on the debate, if there is one, about “grit.” Grit meaning perseverance, determination, character. The kids she works with are in terrible trouble, and Katie says it is not their fault. She writes that: “…. the hyper-focus on individual character traits like “grit” is incredibility dangerous and damaging. “I think

MAR 30

Governor Cuomo: Listen to the Students of Middletown High School Sing “No Mo Cuomo”
This is a video made by students at Middletown High School in New York.   It is addressed to Governor Cuomo, who once called himself “the students’ lobbyist.” The students know he is not their lobbyist. He is the lobbyist for the 3% of children in New York state who attend charter schools. He is not the lobbyist for the students in Middletown High School. Contrary to what Governor Cuomo thinks, o
You Are Invited to Join the Leaders of the Privatization Movement at a Special Event!
Wow! How cool is this? You, me, and all of us are invited to join today’s thought leaders of education “reform” (aka, privatization and segregation) at a philophers” retreat. I wish I were a thought leader in education, but apparently my thoughts don’t lead in the right direction (e.g., handing public money over to privately managed schools with no transparency or accountability, smashing unions,
What These American Educators Learned in Finland
Dr. Hunter O’Hara and Dr. Merrie Tinkersley visited Finland, and this is what they learned: “American Educators Find Surprises in Helsinki and at Home in the United States” On the basis of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores, Finnish public schools have ranked at the top, or very near the top in the world in the areas of mathematics, reading and science. Seven teacher educat
Call Albany Now To Stop Corporate Takeover!
Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters wrote the following call to action. In New York State, the legislature is providing generous subsidies to charter schools in New York City, which enroll 6% of students, at the expense of the 94% whose schools will lose funding to subsidize the rent of the charters. The charter cause is backed by billionaire hedge fund managers who spent $5 million on attack ads
Brooklyn Parents Opting Out of State Testing
PRESS ALERT Contact 1: Elizabeth Elsass, 917-605-3640, Contact 2: Dani Liebling, 347-218-3107, GROUNDSWELL OF BROOKLYN PARENTS FROM BROWNSVILLE TO CARROLL GARDENS REFUSE STATE TESTS WHAT: To mark the first day of State-mandated standardized tests, Brooklyn parents from schools with unprecedented rates of test refusal will hold a playground press confere
Reader: Why Is the Democratic Party Alienating Its Base?
A reader responds to Jeff Bryant’s article by wondering why so many Democrats in office are ignoring their base by aligning themselves with the free-market GOP ideology:   “Yes, yes, yes. Lately Democratic operatives have been moaning and groaning about lack of excitement among their voters. Supposedly this is a law of nature. Democrats just don’t get excited about midterms. Yet, “school reform” i
In Ohio, Will There be an Education Spring?
Ohio has been under the thumb of Governor John Kasich and his merry band of privatizers and profiteers. But this Ohio teacher came to Austin to join the Network for Public Education jamboree and left feeling inspired. Dan Greenberg of the Sylvania Education Association enjoyed not just the Texas weather but the chance to meet activists from across the nation. He caught the contagious spirit of opt
A Hero Superintendent in Massachusetts Speaks Out Against the Madness
Todd Gazda, superintendent of schools in Ludlow, Massachusetts, posted a blog that expresses the outrage that so many educators feel today as a result of federal and state meddling in the work best left to educators.   Gazda writes: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! For his courage and wisdom, I am naming him to the honor roll as a champion of public education. If there were hundreds more Todd Gazda, no thousands
Ohio: Denis Smith: Who Will Clean Up the Charter School Mess? Part 4
Denis Smith is a retired school administrator who worked both as a sponsor representative for charter schools as well as a consultant in the state charter school office. In this five-part series, he offers his perspective about charter school governance and how this mechanism designed to provide transparency and accountability for public entities is sorely lacking and may in fact be the “fatal des
Steven R. Cohen: The “New” SAT Has the Same Faults as the “Old” SAT
Steven R. Cohen, the superintendent of the Shoreham-Wading River School District in Long Island, is unimpressed by the changes to the SAT. They will still strike fear and terror in the hearts of students. They will still be arbiters of access to higher education. They will still be graded and normed on a bell curve, so that the same proportion of students are at the top and at the bottom. They wil
Why Peter Greene Hearts Common Core
Up until now, Peter Greene has been a skeptic of Common Core. But then he realized that Common Core really was written by a bunch of teachers and parents. He realized that he never knew what critical thinking was until now. He realized that one size really does fit all. So this post explains how he came to love the Common Core. You too will be convinced if you follow his train of thought.

MAR 29

Steve Nelson: How to Become a “Successful” School
Steve Nelson has written a brilliant commentary on the way we judge school “success.” He begins by discussing the Moskowitz-de Blasio battle and notes that the $5 million attack ads were sponsored by “Families for Excellent Schools.” He writes: “This campaign is calculated propaganda. The only “family” materially involved in this organization is the Walton family which, through the Walton Famil
NPE Endorses Daylin Leach for Congress in Pennsylvania!
The Network for Public Education has endorsed Daylin Leach for the U.S. Congress. Daylin Leach is running for the 13th Congressional district in Pennsylvania.  He is a strong supporter of public education, and we need him in Congress. I urge you to send whatever you can to help Daylin Leach get elected. *************************************************************** Here is the statement of the N
Reader: Whole Brain Teaching is Psychological Child Abuse
A reader posted the following comment about “Whole Brain Teaching.” By the way, I too recommend Elisabeth Bruehl-Young’s book Childism. It is an informative and in some ways a frightening book about how adults abuse children and think it is normal behavior.   This method of “conditioning” children with authoritarian fear and intimidation is “abusive”. It is the same as “bullying”. It’s purpose is
An Interview with Alan Singer on Common Core and Reading
Alan J. Singer of Hofstra University has studied the Common Core closely and suggested not only flaws but ways it could be improved. Unfortunately there is no feedback process to make changes or to upgrade content. Michael Shaughnessy interviews Singer here for Education News. Here is a good question and answer: 2) What is this concept called ” text complexity ” and who developed it? “If you look
New York Legislature: Billionaire-funded Charter Schools Will Not Have to Pay Rent for Public Space
The following just in as the New York State Legislature responds to the pressure of a $5 million advertising campaign demanding free space for privately-managed charters. Also, the billionaires behind this ad campaign have given handsome sums to Governor Cuomo and other key politicians. Cuomo has received at least $800,000 from the charter advocates. Under the legislation below, the charters are g
Teacher: Who Is Destroying the Teaching Profession?
No Child Left Behind became law in January 2002. Twelve years later, it is a discredited law that remains on the books only because Congress can’t agree doesn’t know what to do next. They are trapped in the quagmire of a failed accountability system and they don’t know how to get out. But Race to the Top compounded the basic error of NCLB–relying on testing and accountability to “reform” schools–a
Experts: (Sir) Michael Barber Is Wrong about Massachusetts
Andy Hargreaves, Pasi Sahlberg, and Dennis Shirley are noted for their scholarly, articulate, and outspoken opposition to the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM), which is spreading like a virus. Now, one of the chief exponents of GERM–(Sir) Michael Barber–has delivered a report to Boston informing the business community that the schools are mediocre and need a strong infusion of privatization
Here is the Bill Moyers Interview in Full
Bill Moyers is one of my heroes. He is one of the few people in the media who is as concerned about the privatization and monetization of the public sector as I am. He has a long memory, and he has not forgotten that a good society needs both a strong public sector and a strong private sector. Nor has he forgotten that the real civil rights movement was about tearing down the walls of a segregated
Your Introduction to “Whole Brain Teaching”
Prepare yourself.   Thousands of readers opened the “Confessions of a Teacher in a No-Excuses Charter School.”   Many were horrified. Some couldn’t believe what she wrote.   Some said that there are certain kinds of students who come from dysfunctional homes and need this sort of structure.   She sent me this video, which is a demonstration of robotic responses in “Whole Brain Teaching.”    What d
NC: How to Waste Taxpayer Dollars on a Useless Bonus Plan
Governor McCrory has had a new idea. Given the terrible morale of teachers in his state and the exodus of veteran teachers, it is important for the state to act quickly to support its teachers. But that is not his idea.   He wants to use Race to the Top dollars to pay $10,000 each to 450 teachers across the state. Since merit pay and bonuses have not had a positive effect anywhere else, consider t