CURMUDGUCATION: Thankfulness: ThankfulnessThanksgiving is, well, problematic as a holiday. At least as a celebration of anything historic, because the related history is complicated, and if there's anything Americans hate, it's sorting our way through complicated history. We like our history sorted out into nice clear good guys and bad guys; unfortunately, actual human beings are rarely all good o
Something to Be Thankful For, in New York | VAMboozled!: Something to Be Thankful For, in New YorkNew York is one of a handful of states often of (dis)honrable mention on this blog (see for example here, here, and here), given its state Schools Chancellor Merryl Tisch, with the support and prodding of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have continuously pushed to have teacher-level growth scores coun
Native American educators teach their first Thanksgiving story | 89.3 KPCC: Native American educators teach their first Thanksgiving storyIt’s that time of year when our youngest learners are coloring pilgrims and Indians and learning the story of the first Thanksgiving. That story has been taught to generation after generation, and generally involves British pilgrims landing in America, sowing c
Happy Thanksgiving to You and Your Family | Diane Ravitch's blog: Happy Thanksgiving to You and Your FamilyToday is a day to count our blessings and to be grateful for our family, our friends, and our freedoms.There is so much happening in the world and in our nation that is alarming. There are so many nations and regions where the great majority of people don’t have personal security, where every
Happy Thanksgiving 2015, Y’all. | deutsch29: Happy Thanksgiving 2015, Y’all.A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.–Proverbs 17:22 (MSG)On December 06, 2015, my mother turns 70. I am thankful to have her alive and well for these past ten years. She was missing for a week in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, and I thank God often that she did not die.So muc
Giving Thanks….2015 - Wait What?: Giving Thanks….2015May the blessings of health, happiness and a bit of prosperity come to each you and yours on this Thanksgiving Day 2015 … And on every day…“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.” ~ William Jennings Bryan“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.” ~ CiceroAnd as I often do, I return to
Education Plus cyber charter closes its learning centers: Education Plus cyber charter closes its learning centersHundreds of parents and students enrolled at Education Plus Academy Cyber Charter School were left scrambling Tuesday when the troubled cyber school announced that it was closing its learning and tutoring centers, and laying off 30 staffers immediately.The closings affect 410 students
Parents: your absurdly high expectations are harming your children’s achievement - Quartz: Parents: your absurdly high expectations are harming your children’s achievementStudies have shown that high parental expectations are associated with high academic achievement. But setting expectations too high is counterproductive, new research shows.When parents had high aspirations for their children’s a
VIDEO: 'Shake Off Those Charter Chains!' | Alternet: VIDEO: 'Shake Off Those Charter Chains!'What you really need to know about the chains that run charter schools.Advocates for charter schools frequently argue that generalizing about these schools is unfair because charters, by their very entrepreneurial, unregulated design, are not all the same.This is true. Charter schools are not all the same.
CORPORATE ED REFORMThanksgiving Thanks to Teachers We Remember Who Didn't Teach Common Core | Alan SingerThanksgiving Thanks to Teachers We Remember Who Didn't Teach Common Core | Alan Singer: Thanksgiving Thanks to Teachers We Remember Who Didn't Teach Common CorePresident Barack Obama remembers his fifth grade teacher, Ms. Mabel Hefty. In 1971, Barack was a "kid with a funny name in a new s
Thanksgiving is, well, problematic as a holiday. At least as a celebration of anything historic, because the related history is complicated, and if there's anything Americans hate, it's sorting our way through complicated history. We like our history sorted out into nice clear good guys and bad guys; unfortunately, actual human beings are rarely all good or all bad.
So my preference when celebrating Thanksgiving is to chuck the historical element completely, and embrace the holiday's best element, which is taking a day to be thankful.
There is being thankful for the most immediate circumstances of our lives. Last night, my daughter and her husband and her son and my son and his fiance all slept here in this house, which is the first time that has happened in years (actually, if you count my one-year-old grandson, it's the first time in ever). To have family all here, to make them breakfast-- that's all a huge blessing, and I am grateful for it.
I'm thankful that I get to continue working at one of the greatest jobs in the world. I'm thankful that my work situation is so much less contentious and difficult as the situations of so many of teachers throughout the country. I'm thankful that I live in a small town next to a river and only a few blocks away from family and the center of town. It really is a beautiful place, and I'm thankful that I have had the opportunity to participate in so many other enriching activities like playing in a band, working in community theater, and writing for the local paper.
Today many Americans are expressing similar sentiments, and that's a good start. But we Americans are not always good with the whole thankfulness thing, and when we're not careful, the day's CURMUDGUCATION: Thankfulness:
New York is one of a handful of states often of (dis)honrable mention on this blog (see for example here, here, and here), given its state Schools Chancellor Merryl Tisch, with the support and prodding of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have continuously pushed to have teacher-level growth scores count for up to 50% of teachers’ total evaluation scores.
But now, it looks like there is something for which we all, and especially those in New York, might be thankful.
As per an article published yesterday in The New York Times, Governor “Cuomo, in Shift, Is Said to Back Reducing Test Scores’ Role in Teacher Reviews.” Thankful we should be for teachers who expressed their frustrations with the state’s policy movements, who were apparently heard. And thankful we should be for the parents who opted out last year in protest throughout New York, as it looks like their collective efforts also worked to reverse this state trend. “More than 200,000 of the nearly 1.2 million students [16.7%] expected to take the annual reading and math tests [in New York] did not sit for them in 2015.”
“Now, facing a parents’ revolt against testing, the state is poised to change course and reduce the role of test scores in evaluations. And according to two people involved in making state education policy, [Governor] Cuomo has been quietly pushing for a Something to Be Thankful For, in New York | VAMboozled!:
Native American educators teach their first Thanksgiving story
It’s that time of year when our youngest learners are coloring pilgrims and Indians and learning the story of the first Thanksgiving. That story has been taught to generation after generation, and generally involves British pilgrims landing in America, sowing crops and sharing the first harvest in a meal with local Native Americans to give thanks for the bounty.
“Growing up, my mom made it very clear to me that there was another story,” said Keeler, who is a member of the Dineh Nation and the Yankton Dakota Sioux. Her mother told her the pilgrims coming amounted to “theft of our lands.”
Her mother taught her that Native people did indeed show kindness to the pilgrims arriving. She told her “how much the pilgrims were truly struggling and how desperate they were for the help, [and] the fact that they would not have survived without Native American assistance.”
Her mother also warned her she would hear a different story in school. “She did encourage us to challenge [our teachers] if we heard things that were derogatory towards Native people,” Keeler added.
After all, the real-deal history is not pretty, and the pilgrims aren’t presented accurately in the widespread first Thanksgiving story, according to Keeler and many others.
"Often the pictures are of these white pilgrims in these very crisp clean clothes, you know, bringing in Native people into this bounty,” Keeler said. “Actually they were starving to death, half the people had died, and it was the native people who brought most of the food.”
Keeler is a writer and educator and works with American Indian Child Resource Center in Oakland. She has written about what thanks giving means to Native people, and her work is used in middle school’s to plant the seeds of an alternative narrative. Yet Keeler believes the education must start younger – in preschool and kindergarten. That's precisely the time when the standard narrative of Thanksgiving history is taught.
So what would Keeler say to a room of five-year-olds?
“I would explain what Thanksgiving means to my own people, we have our own Thanksgiving traditions. And one of the things that we give thanks for is our continued existence.”
Today is a day to count our blessings and to be grateful for our family, our friends, and our freedoms.
There is so much happening in the world and in our nation that is alarming. There are so many nations and regions where the great majority of people don’t have personal security, where every day is a struggle to survive, where life is cheap, where men with guns threaten everyone daily. We can be grateful to live in a nation where most people most of the time are not in constant danger.
Clearly, we have serious problems to address in our own country, especially the fact that so many live in poverty in a land of abundance. We must commit ourselves to rectifying that terrible wrong so that all can be assured of enough to eat, a good place to live, and appropriate medical care. Or as Franklin D. Roosevelt put it so eloquently in his address to Congress in 1941:
“For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:
“Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
“Jobs for those who can work.
“Security for those who need it.
“The ending of special privilege for the few. The preservation of civil liberties for all.
“The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.”
This was the speech where he enunciated The Four Freedoms:
“The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.
“The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.
“The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants- everywhere in the world.
“The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.
“That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.
“To that new order we oppose the greater conception—the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.”
Words spoken 74 years ago, a vision of a world that still eludes us, a vision that we must not abandon.
I am grateful to live in America. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful for life and health.
I am grateful to the educators who dedicate their lives to helping children gain the skills, knowledge, and character to build a better world.
A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.
–Proverbs 17:22 (MSG)
On December 06, 2015, my mother turns 70. I am thankful to have her alive and well for these past ten years. She was missing for a week in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, and I thank God often that she did not die.
So much about my mother makes me smile. Months ago, I spoke with my sisters about what we might do for my mother’s 70th birthday. However, I already knew that a party, or trip, or expensive jewelry were not what she would prefer.
My mother prefers shopping. So, earlier this week, I took her shopping for her birthday at perhaps her favorite store.
She enjoyed herself. I know so because I watched her enthusiastically walk the aisles and examine the endless tools and materials.
And who else’s mother sighs contentedly at the scent of fresh cut lumber?
You got me on that one.
In the end, I bought my mother a mitre saw, a hammer, and two bolt cutters. (The large bolt cutter was a must-have, but one never knows when one might need to cut smaller bolts, as well. Thus, it is best to be prepared.) Add to that list a gift card for a future paint purchase.
Happy birthday, Mama.
So, there’s one story of thanks.
I’ll go for a second one:
I had two primary goals this past summer. One was to write the body of my third book, this one on school choice. I am happy to say that it is with the publisher.
My second goal was to lose some weight. I am an active person, but I also like to eat, and the eating was in the lead.
Around July 4th, I realized that summer was almost over for me and I hadn’t focused on the weight loss. No problem. I still had three weeks to get started.
What sealed the deal for me was that I did not feel like clothes shopping for the upcoming school year. I reminded myself that if I lost weight, I could shop in my own closet.
Over the next three months, I dropped 20 pounds, and I continue to enjoy surprising myself as I indeed continue to shop in my own closet. So, there is notably less of me now, and for this, I am thankful.
May the blessings of health, happiness and a bit of prosperity come to each you and yours on this Thanksgiving Day 2015 … And on every day…
“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.” ~ William Jennings Bryan
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.” ~ Cicero
And as I often do, I return to one of my favorite quotes from Tolkien because as we face the growing evil and increasing darkness in the world, let us use it this Thanksgiving to find the courage, conviction and wisdom that we need to re-dedicate ourselves to making the world a better place…Giving Thanks….2015 - Wait What?:
Education Plus cyber charter closes its learning centers
Hundreds of parents and students enrolled at Education Plus Academy Cyber Charter School were left scrambling Tuesday when the troubled cyber school announced that it was closing its learning and tutoring centers, and laying off 30 staffers immediately.
The closings affect 410 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, including 260 in the Philadelphia area, who have been receiving online instruction in classrooms at the centers.
Nicholas Torres, the school's CEO, said that Education Plus was retaining the lead teachers from the six learning centers, and that displaced students would be able to continue to receive instruction from them online in their homes. They also would have access to some supplemental special education services at the centers.
Jo-Ann Rogan said her sixth grader with special needs wept in the car on the way home to Roxborough from the Elkins Park center. Ryan Rogan struggled in a traditional public school, she said, but thrived at Ed Plus.
"The teachers there have been with us for three years, and they've watched him blossom," Rogan said. "When I picked Ryan up, we were all hugging and crying."
Elaine Vallejo, whose son attended the learning center in Northeast Philadelphia, said the news came suddenly. "The sad part is, tonight I have to tell my son he has to go back to the Philadelphia public school where he was bullied," she said. "My heart is beyond broken right now. I am so angry."
Parents are planning to demonstrate against the closing at 9 a.m. Monday outside the center at 7360 Jackson St.
In a letter to parents Tuesday, Torres blamed the cyber's financial difficulties on the continuing stalemate over the state budget.
But several former staffers said Ed Plus' financial problems stemmed partly from questionable decisions, such as buying new furniture for the administrative offices in Wayne.
Torres said he could not explain why no other cyber and charter schools have been affected as severely as Ed Plus. But he said the school, which he cofounded, spent its money on educational services and had not accumulated reserves as many cyber schools have done.
"We don't have the big reserves, and we've only been around for 31/2 years," he said. "We were tapped out sooner than the others."
The school, which opened in 2012, focuses on students with special learning needs.
Education Plus got into trouble with the state for operating more like a bricks-and-mortar charter school than a cyber one, and recently shuttered five of its learning and tutoring centers statewide.
The board of directors of Ed Plus has scheduled a special board meeting at 3:30 p.m. next Wednesday to "consider the current circumstances and the road forward," the letter to parents said. "Please know that we are doing our best to make Education Plus Academy a real educational choice."
That may mean an attempt to convert Ed Plus to a bricks-and-mortar charter school in Philadelphia. An application filed with the School District last week said
Parents: your absurdly high expectations are harming your children’s achievement
Studies have shown that high parental expectations are associated with high academic achievement. But setting expectations too high is counterproductive, new research shows.
When parents had high aspirations for their children’s achievement in math, the kids in this study performed well in math. But if the parents’ hopes were unrealistic, their children’s math performance suffered.
“Although parental aspiration can help improve children’s academic performance, excessive parental aspiration can be poisonous,” said lead author Kou Murayama of the University of Reading in a release. The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Murayama and his co-authors studied data from 3,530 secondary students and their parents between 2002 and 2007 in Bavaria, Germany. The study assessed math achievement as well as parental aspiration, which was defined as how much parents wanted their child to earn a particular grade. They also measured parental expectation, or how likely parents thought their kids could actually achieve those marks.
The researchers found that high parental aspiration led to increased academic achievement, but only when it did not overly exceed a realistic expectation, or what was dubbed “overaspiration.” When aspirations exceeded expectations, children’s achievement decreased proportionately. To test their work the researchers tried to replicate the findings using data from a two-year study of more than 12,000 US students and their parents. The results were similar.