Buried in the bowels of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, you will find the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Over time the guiding principles of ESEA have become obscured with almost 1000 pages of ideologically and financially driven “projects.” From venture capitalists looking to pocket more public dollars through products and services, to our military gaining access to student data for easier and targeted recruiting, to the establishment of national standards without really talking about who controls them — the No Child Left Behind Acthas been the place to put the devils details. When ESEA was 35 pages long, this was not a problem.
At the heart of ESEA is Title I. Its purpose was to even the playing field for our nation’s youngest citizens.
The signing of ESEA into law by LBJ, 1965
By investing federal funds to meet the needs of “disadvantaged” children, it is known as one of many “War on Poverty” laws because the original funding formula focused on children from poverty-stricken families. That flow of funds, like the major vein coming into the heart, enabled ESEA to function.
The autopsy reveals a couple of large strictures in that main vein.
The original formula fundingused each state’s average dollar per student and allotted half again as much to focus on meeting the educational needs of those childrenliving in poverty. The formula was quickly changed to using the national average in order to better help the “poorer states.” However in 1968, only three years after passage of ESEA, the formula funding was made “conditional upon availability of sufficient appropriations” (Congressional Quarterly.Congress and the Nation: A Review of the Government and Politics During the Johnson Years, Vol. II, 1965–1968, p710. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1969).
Availability of federal funds for investment in education took a backseat to the funding for the Vietnam War. The law was crippled but did not die.
Please help us make a ruckus on Twitter! Tell the @EdWorkforce Committee that you will not be silent while they rewrite legislation that impacts students and schools, and that you want to see real changes in their NCLB reauthorization bill!
If there is anything we know, it is that public education allies dominate Twitter. Tonight and tomorrow we must flood Twitter with messages directly to the Education and Workforce Committee - @EdWorkforce.
The NCLB reauthorization process is moving quickly. Both the Senate and the House have released draft bills, but they have gone about the process quite differently.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a discussion draft of their NCLB reauthorization legislation on January 13, 2015. The Committee held a series of three hearings, and created an email address to solicit input from the public. NPE created a letter writing campaign to the HELP Committee to #EndAnnualTesting, and over 2,400 NPE allies responded.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce released their draft NCLB legislation on February 3rd, but there have been no hearings, and no public input has been solicited. Tomorrow the Committee has scheduled a “markup” of the draft, only a week after releasing the bill, and with no input from the public.
One grassroots group of New Jersey parents, Save Our Schools NJ, had their members send emails to their representatives in Washington, as well as to Congressional staffers in the Senate HELP Committee and the House Ed and Workforce Committee. Staffers reported to EdWeek that they were irked that the over 1,800 emails sent from concerned NJ parents crashed their Blackberries.
“This is bullying,” the aide said. “We’re trying to be really thoughtful on a range of issues, including assessments, in a really short time frame. We’re doing the absolute best we can. And this makes it even harder.”
Why doesn’t the US House of Representatives want to hear from parents as they rewrite the law that will impact students and schools across the country? There are some real problems with this bill, including a mandate that states continue to administer annual standardized tests, increased funding to support the growth and expansion of charter schools, and increased portability of Title I funds intended to serve our nation’s most vulnerable children.
If the House won’t hold hearings and hasn’t provided the public with a way to contact them about these concerns, how can we make our voices heard?
Social media, that’s how.
Please join our Twitter campaign and tell the @EdWorkforce Committee that their #NCLBrewriteisWRONG!
Teach for America’s truth problem: TFA advocates aren’t being honest about education reform, their own agenda
Communities don't want underprepared teachers who aren't committed to the community. It's time to look at facts
Howard Dean had an epiphany.
As he described in his recent post for Salon, when he toured a high school in the Ninth Ward New Orleans, where his son was serving as a Teach for America corps member, he happened to scan some writing assignment the ninth-grade students in his son’s class had produced. He was, in his words, “enraged.”
“It dawned on me that nearly every young person in his classroom was functionally illiterate,” he recalls.
Since that day, Dean has been “an advocate for Teach for America and public not-for-profit charter schools,” he explains.
We’ve seen this before.
The Narrative of “Reform”
When “Waiting for Superman,” the film documentary about charter schools in New York City, debuted in 2010, director Davis Guggenheim was asked in a “celebrity interview”what motivated him to make the film. He replied, “I was packing my kids up in my minivan and taking them to school with juice boxes and backpacks. Out of the corner of my eye, I started to see the local public schools that I was driving by. And it started to haunt me that my kids whom I send to private school were having a great education, but the kids in my own neighborhood were not.”
These sorts of inspirations are what drive advocates for what’s become known as “education reform.” “Waiting for Superman” – a movie about education crusaders Michelle Rhee and Geoffrey Canada vying against teachers’ union leader Randi Weingarten over the education future of poor, urban children of color – established a compelling and emotional narrative for a debate about public education policy.
The narrative casts specific policy measures, such as charter schools and TFA, as being “about the kids,” as Guggenheim phrased it in his interview, and advocates for these measures are invariably “doing incredible work for the kids.”
Dean’s conversion experience in a New Orleans high school repeats this narrative. Witnessing firsthand the horrible inequities in our public school system, he concludes, “There could be no more excuses – not poverty, not money, not union rights, not political deals on school boards. Everything with real, reasonable potential had to be tried, and everything had to change.”
However, what fans of school reform are advocating for is not really “everything.” They have a distinct hierarchy in their minds, beginning with very specific things such as, in Dean’s case, Teach for America. Much lower on the hierarchy are measures now relegated to “excuses,” such as doing something to alleviate the effects of poverty, advocating for more resources for struggling schools, raising teachers’ collective voices, and empowering parents and citizens to have more say-so in their local governing boards.
Further, the argument Guggenheim, Dean and other self-identified reformers insist we accept is based on intention instead of evidence. Dean’s premise for supporting TFA is, “If you are someone who cares about breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.” This suggests anyone who questions the need for TFA is not “someone who cares about breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.” And if you’re reluctant to “embrace” TFA, as Dean advocates, you’re not being supportive of “innovations and ideas producing positive outcomes for kids.”
Shouldn’t there be a place in this debate to consider reasons for choosing TFA over other policies? Shouldn’t there be some consideration of evidence in the debate?
Evidence Instead of “Everything”
The reality in most American communities is that we can’t throw “everything” at troubled schools. In fact, if you actually listen to public school educators, you’ll find they’re pretty sick and tired of having “everything” thrown at them.
The Network for Public Education’s 2015 Conference Together, we will save our schools.
Please join us for the Network for Public Education 2015 Conference in Chicago from April 24th – 26th – 2015! Click HERE to get the EARLY BIRD Registration rates now! These low rates will last for the month of January.The Network for Public Education’s 2015 Conference will be the place to be this spring, in the historic city of Chicago, home of the Chicago Teachers Union. The theme of the conference is:
The event is being held at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago. Here is the link for special hotel registration rates. Here are some of the event details. There will be a welcoming social event 7 pm Friday night, at or near the Drake Hotel — details coming soon.
Featured speakers will be:
Jitu Brown, National Director – Journey for Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Network for Public Education Board of Directors
Tanaisa Brown, High School Senior, with the Newark Student Union
Yong Zhao, Author, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?“
Diane Ravitch in conversation with
Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President and
Randi Weingarten, AFT President
Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union
There will be a special optional luncheon on Saturday that will feature a conversation between Edushyster and surprise guests.
There will be dozens of workshops and panels offered by activists from coast to coast. Proposals for these sessions are being solicited by the NPE, and can be submitted HERE until the Jan. 20 deadline.
The organizers worked to make the conference as affordable as possible. Please be aware that the room reservations and food costs offset the use of the hotel space. This conference is priced as cheaply as possible so that the maximum number of people can attend. We are hoping to raise money to provide a limited amount of scholarships. HERE is the link for the scholarship application.
If you would like to make a donation to allow others to attend who otherwise could not afford participating, please go HEREand indicate that this is for the “NPE Conference Scholarship Fund”
WE ARE MANY. THERE IS POWER IN OUR NUMBERS. TOGETHER WE WILL SAVE OUR SCHOOLS.
On Moyers & Company, Diane Ravitch tells Bill Moyers, ”I think what’s at stake is the future of American public education. I believe it is one of the foundation stones of our democracy: So an attack on public education is an attack on democracy.”
Confessions of a "Bad Teacher:" I Loved Teaching like a Crack Addict Loves Crack.
I'm sorry, I thought I was good. (I'm also sorry I thought the Bengals would win.)
My name is John and I have a problem. For thirty-three years I was a bad teacher but thought I was good. Denial. That’s all it was.
Then, Sunday, I stumbled across an excellent article by Dr. Michael Flanagan and his wordsgave me strength. You see he’s a bad teacher too.
Dr. Flanagan had to battle through the same agonizing process I must now endure, although he does admit there were sometimes “free bagels and donuts involved.” And I am a complete sucker for donuts.
(I’m sorry, when I salivate I digress.)
For nineteen years he taught, successfully, or so he thought. Oh, sure, he heard school reformers say that the big problems in education boiled down tobad teachersat the front of too many rooms. Still, he refused to face the truth. Like me, he kept pretending he was good. He’d get awards for excellence…and he’d believe those awards meant something too.
As for me, I’d be grading papers at 11:30 on a Wednesday night and I’d tell myself, “John, you’re doing a good job.” I had an addiction you see. Grading papers was a crutch, like a bottle of booze to a drunk.
I’d go to work on Monday and students would tell me they loved my class, and I’d delude myself and think they were telling the truth. I would arrive at school early and let kids come in for extra work and I’d skip lunch to help and stay late too. I was hooked.
IthoughtI was good.
Sure. There were times I wondered. I’d pick up theNew York Timesand read what the latest school reformers had to say. These reformers didn’t have the same problem I did because they always avoided trying to teach. But I wouldn’t listen, not even when Brent Staples said schools did aterrible jobof screening and evaluating teachers, so that they hired “any warm body that comes along.” I heard what Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told an audience at M.I.T., that the big problem in schools was too many teachers wereplain dumb and still I refused to face the demons.
I’d go right back to my phone. I’d call Vicki’s parents and say, “I love having your daughter in class.” Too late now, I see that call was a cry for help. I loved teaching like a crack addict loves crack.
Hello my name is Michael, and I am a public school teacher. Yes, I know in this day and age those are brave words to utter in a public forum, but the first step to any kind of healing is to admit you have a problem. Hundreds of thousands of American citizens suffer from this same affliction. That is why today, I am launching a movement known as Teachers Synonymous. Teachers must stand together.
Being a teacher today means you are made the punch line of jokes on Saturday Night Live, fodder for discussion on The View, the justification for lawsuits against due process rights, and the general object of scorn across the nation. We are vilified and scapegoated as the reason for failing schools. It is enough to give even the strongest among of us a complex.
At first I thought I must be the only one doing such a “lousy job”. I mean I did not actually believe I was a bad teacher, as I work quite hard at my job, earned the respect of my students, parents and fellow educators. I have been given awards for excellence in teaching and amassed 19 years of satisfactory evaluations written by more than a dozen administrators. But at almost every faculty meeting, my colleagues and I were basically told, “you suck”. Which was confusing, because after being regularly admonished for professional incompetence, I would occasionally receive emails from the Department of Education or an administrator expressing gratitude for my hard work and dedication. Go figure.
So you can see my dilemma. As I said, I have confidence in my teaching ability, but know I am not even the best teacher on my floor. I am surrounded by consummate professionals that any parent would be happy to have as their child’s teacher. Yet I was consistently lectured to about what a terrible job I was doing, while surrounded by others doing an equally poor job. At the time I assumed this brow beating was justified since we were provided with free bagels and donuts during these smack downs. It was not until more than a year ago that I saw what a concerted effort was being made to push the “bad teacher” narrative nationally. I became a member of several grass roots groups of frustrated and angry educators who showed me I was probably not such a bad teacher. We were merely victims of political corruption and greed.
Those who claim to be education reformers are waging vicious campaigns against teachers and our unions, and their most potent weapon is our own internalization of their false narrative. Tell the truth: how many of us have walked out of our classrooms on any given day and felt that our entire career path has been a mistake? We question our own talent and ability so often we are occasionally not even sure if we can make it in to work the next day. I know many of you are shaking your heads in agreement, saying to yourself “that is how I felt today!” And that is my point. We care, and to the privateers, that is a weakness. They are using our souls, against us. It has proved to be an effective strategy, until now. Teachers Synonymous will allow us to turn self-doubt into self-reflection. It is not a weakness to have a bad day, and question your abilities. It is a weakness to harbor those doubts and let them own you. We will re-direct our angst towards something proactive. Take our depression and turn it into aggression. Teachers have a habit of being complacent. We do what we are instructed to do, because we love our jobs. We are justifiably fearful of jeopardizing our careers. For that reason many of us do not speak out against high stakes testing, junk science evaluations and corporate backed political attacks. But those days are done.
Teachers Synonymous is an effort to turn the anti-teacher propaganda of privatization around. Teachers need to be reminded they are not the problem. We are professionals who care about our students. We will enable educators to stand up and admit to being teachers, without the fear of admonishment or repercussions. We can openly discuss our addiction to education and inability to surrender our profession to a bunch of greedy privateers. We are teachers, and proud of it!
I know what you are about to ask, “How will we fight these people, they have all the money and power, all we have are number 2 pencils?” One technique I suggest is to call out the real criminals in our midst. For years we have seen so many of our students fed into the schools to prison pipeline, it is time we shed light on the Election Booth to Prisons Badass Teachers Association: