Thursday, March 21, 2013

Special Late Nite Cap EXTRA 3-21-13 #SOSCHAT #EDCHAT #P2

Nite Cap EXTRA


I’ve been doing a lot with short constructed writing response. Part of this is due to trainings I’m going to on Common Core for my district. The standards emphasize a written response that sites the information from the text the question is based on. I’m not in love with the standards, but feel I can live with the upper-elementary level ones (mostly because as Tom Hoffman points out, it’s not like their worse than what was here before). I make no claims about their appropriateness for primary (the fact that NO early childhood educators or experts were included in their development is appalling), and high school (where the discussions of implementation have degenerated into a ridiculous metrics like “50% of text reading should be informational” – like you don’t get information from reading Moby Dick?).
I’ll be writing a post soon on the results of this exploration of writing I’ve been doing (two thumbs up, IMHO) for those who prefer action in the classroom to my gassing on about policy, etc. which I’ll continue to do in here in the remainder of this post.
Why am I doing this? Frankly, Common Core is a convenient excuse, and not my main reason. I love having students write. To make it manageable level of grading, I prefer the short answer for formative assessment 

Cobb faces drastic actions to cope with school budget crisis. Considers some online high school classes.

Georgians can grasp just how grave the underfunding of education has become when they read about what’s happening in Cobb County.
computer (Medium)On Thursday night, the school chief proposed shifting many high school classes into online courses, cutting five days from the school year, eliminating transportation to several thousand students and giving district staff five furlough days to address an $86.4 million deficit.
T his is occurring in one of more affluent counties in the state. How is the rest of Georgia coping with drastic funding cuts to their schools?
I’m not sure how happy Cobb parents are going to be when word of these proposed economies reach them. Many parents will have questions about the online delivery of classes for their high school students. It sounds like the classes will follow a blended model, which combines virtual and face-to-face instruction.
To be honest, I would be nervous to have my children in the inaugural application of a blended learning model as there are …

Lancaster's not having it.

Just posting a denial letter here for future reference. It's the text of the Lancaster, PA school district denial of a Gulen charter: the Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship, which I found in a conversation over at Diane Ravitch's.

This is a situation where the school will soon go to the state charter commission and overrule the school district, just like the Concept people did here.

I'm posting it here because I have no other place to put it--- it's a truly scathing letter, and I haven't seen anything 

Madison High School event turns angry as community members accuse DISD administrators of unfairly forcing out principals

A meeting Thursday night at Madison High School billed as a discussion of South Dallas’ schools turned tense when dozens of parents, students and elected officials accused Dallas ISD administrators of trying to force out the school’s principal.
After a brief overview of the area’s school by Dallas school trustee Bernadette Nutall, speakers lined up to attack district administrators in attendance over concerns that principals might be forced out of their jobs. They claimed that Madison … [visit site to read more]

Read How Lucy Calkins Ruins A Life in 2023

On March 6 we here at SBSB shared the wisdom of Robert Pondiscio and his thoughts on cult leader Lucy Calkins methods of of abusing children with her failed Reader's Workshop. Later that evening I tweeted Robert and asked him if he had ever shared his thoughts on the other abusive Calkins failure, of Writer's Workshop. He indeed did.

A few things stick out in his article. Just for full disclosure, I have been blessed this year to be at several Writer's Workshop workshops given by 25 year old presenters. I have also been blessed with reading those writer's notebooks that Lucy so loves and must say how amazed I am by the writing in these notebooks. Amazed at how all the bad grammar, spelling, and lack of any writing mechanics 

NJ Ed Commish Cerf: Wrong On Poverty, Wrong On Teacher Evaluation

If my email is any indication, teachers across New Jersey are just now being introduced to our new, top-down, state-mandated evaluation system, AchieveNJ. There's a lot of concern about this system - as well there should be. AchieveNJ has many serious flaws that I've documented over the last two weeks: see hereherehere,hereherehere, and here.

But none of these seem to concern Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf; if anything, he seems more confident than ever in AchieveNJ's infallibility:
Students in New Jersey are going to be placed in peer groups with students who scored similarly on the previous year’s test. They will get a score based on how 

Lots of speakers, lots to say to the SRC about school closings, expansions

The School Reform Commission got an earful from nearly 50 speakers at its Thursday evening action meeting – the first since their vote to close 23 schools on March 7.  And the closings were again a major theme:
read more

Controversial Video Game Draws Mayroral Ire

The Mayors of New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago have called on video game manufacturer Satan's Child Games to pull School Closing Fight from store shelves for it's over the top violence and depiction of urban life.

The controversial game manufacturer first caught the public's eye with Evil Bus Driver, a game where you tried to crash into buses filled with helpless orphans and force them off the road.  However, according to Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter, this time the game company has "gone too far."

In School Closing Fight, players take the part of either a hardened criminal or a public school student who is forced to cross into their territory because their neighborhood school has been closed.   The student gains points 

Tweed to Absorb Much of Lost Aid

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told the CIty Council Thursday that the Department of Education was planning for next year without the $250 million dollars in education aid that was withheld by the state after the city failed to reach a deal on a teacher evaluation plan with the teachers union.
This despite a judge’s ruling that blocked the state from withholding the aid, and the city from proceeding with cuts, until a lawsuit brought by parents moves forward.
“Explain to me why you want to make the cuts now, that have irreparable harm to our children, with the

Urgent action required. Call these Illinois senators NOW! Tomorrow will be too late.

These are senators who apparently have no regard for a teacher’s earned constitutionally-guaranteed benefits and will most likely vote “yes” for an unconstitutional bill from the House of Representatives.1. John Cullerton (217-782-2728, Chicago: 773-883-0770)
2. Daniel Biss (217-782-2119, Skokie: 847-568-1250)
3. Don Harmon (217-782-8176, Oak Park: 708-848-2002)
4. Patricia Van Pelt (217-782-6252, Chicago: 312-888-9191)
5. Steven Landek (217-782-0054, Burbank: 708-430-25100
6. Napoleon Harris III (217-782-8066, 708-232-8780)
7. Bill Cunningham (217-782-5145, Chicago: 773-445-8123)
8. Michael Hastings (217-782-9595, Matteson: 708-283-4125)
9. Michael Noland (217-782-7746, Elgin: 847-214-8864)
10. Mike Jacobs (217-782-5957, Moline: 309-797-0001)
11. Heather Steans (Yes vote on SB 35, “Present” on SB 1) (217-782-8492, Chicago: 773-769-1717)
12. Michael Connelly (Yes on SB 35, “Did Not Vote” on SB 1) (217-782-8192, Wheaton: 630-682-8101)

Other Illinois Senators Who Voted “Yes” on the blatantly unconstitutional SB 0035 and will most likely vote “yes” for an unconstitutional bill from the House of Representatives.
13. Kirk Dillard (217-782-8148, Westmont: 630-969-0990)
14. Jim Oberweis (217-782-0471, North Aurora: 630-800-1992)
15. Dan Duffy (217-782-8010, Barrington: 847-277-7100)
16. Matt Murphy (217-782-4471, Palatine: 847-776-1490)
17. Pamela Althoff (217-782-8000, McHenry: 815-455-6330)
18. Karen McConnaughay (217-782-1977, South Elgin: 847-214-8245)
19. Darin Lahood (217-782-1942, Peoria: 309-693-4921)
20. Sue Rezin (217-782-3840, Peru: 815-220-8720)
21. Christine Radogno (217-782-9407, Lemont: 630-243-0800)
22. William Brady (217-782-6216, Bloomington: 309-664-4440)
23. Dave Syverson (217-782-5413, Rockford: 815-987-7555)
These senators voted “present” on SB 0035
24. Mattie Hunter (217-782-5966, Chicago: 312-949-1908)
25. Jacqueline Collins (217-782-1607, Chicago: 773-224-2830)
26. Thomas Cullerton (217-782-9463, Villa Park: 630-903-6662)
These senators “did not vote” on SB 0035
27. Kimberly Lightford (217-782-8505, Westchester: 708-343-7444)
28. Tim Bivins (217-782-0180, Dixon: 815-284-0045)
29. Gary Forby (217-782-5509, Benton: 618-439-2504)

Bring Rodrigo Home – Kids For Kids!

My name is Reyna Diaz Mayida and my life changed in Houston, Texas on January 10, 2013. Houston was where my family and I were refused entry back into the US from Mexico. It was where we were turned away from coming home to Berkeley, California.
I always returned to Mexico to renew my passport and would always comply with the law by renewing my visa every six months. Every six months my partner, our son Rodrigo and I would go to Tijuana to renew our visas. But we grew afraid. The boarder patrol agents there would ask a lot of questions and by then our son, Rodrigo, did not speak Spanish very well. The last time we renewed our visas was in August 2011.
Rodrigo’s father used to work at a fraternity house in Berkeley as a cook. I worked cleaning houses. We lived in a studio apartment in Berkeley. Everything we had is back there. My partner’s mother got everything — she is a resident of the country. She isn’t a U.S. citizen so she can’t sponsor us.

Special Late Nite Cap UPDATE 3-21-13 #SOSCHAT #EDCHAT #P2




Report from Indiana: Protesters Fill the Rotunda

By Phyllis Bush
On Tuesday, March 19, the rotunda at the Indiana state house was filled by more than 500 people opposed to the expansion of vouchers. This followed an intense morning of speaking to legislators.
NPE Boarb member Phyllis Bush shared this reflection on the day.
Today’s thoughts are from a mixture of exhilaration and exhaustion from yesterday’s visit to the State House in Indianapolis. We spoke with two senators for an hour and for 40 minutes with another. They said all of the “right things” about how they support public education, public schools, public school teachers, public school kids, and blah blah blah; however, after many years of teaching, my BS detector was going wildly off the charts. One 

Chicago School Closings: District Plans To Shutter 54 Schools

Citing budget concerns and falling enrollment, Chicago Public Schools officials announced Thursday they plan to close 54 schools next year and shut down 61 school buildings -- the largest single wave of school closures in U.S. history.

For months, looming closures seemed inevitable. After a teachers union strike last fall concluded with anexpensive contract, observers were left without a doubt that the only way the cash-strapped district could afford it was to shut down schools and fire the teachers who worked there.

Since the September strike, Chicago hired a new CEO for its schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, a veteran of closures in cities like Detroit. The district held hearings with parents about the fates of their children. Rumors 

Changes to teacher eval law tackles a city-labor dispute (again)

For the second year in a row, legislators are revising the state’s teacher evaluation law in part because of New York City’s difficulties in complying with it.
The legislature is expected to insert new language into the law to clarify that plans stay in effect even after they expire, according to officials briefed on the budget legislation, which has not been finalized. Concerns that a negotiated plan would default back to the current system was one reason talks between the Bloomberg administration and the United Federation of Teachers broke down earlier this year.
The change would ensure that, moving forward, no districts could ever be without an evaluation system. To 

Chicago closing 54 schools; union leader blasts 'outrageous' plan

Chicago officials finally announced what was widely rumored: They will close 54 under-enrolled schools this year in the country's third largest district to help close a $1 billion budget deficit. It is the largest mass district closing of schools ever in the United States, and it is fiercely opposed by many teachers, parents and education activists.

Fairfax County schools outperform U.S. average, many countries, on new test

A sampling of Fairfax County freshmen outperformed their peers across the country on a new test that measures how students compare around the world in math, reading and science. But the assessment also showed that the majority of the Fairfax students were unhappy with their teachers and found them unhelpful.

In Montana, an Indian reservation’s children feel the impact of sequester’s cuts

The public schools on the isolated, windswept Fort Peck Indian reservation here are at the frontier of the federal sequester, among the first to struggle with budget cuts sweeping west from Washington.

N.Y. school board battle brings out racist, anti-Semitic barbs

The school board is almost entirely made up of ultra-Orthodox Jews who send their children to private schools, while public school students are mostly Hispanic and black

Parent trigger bill stalls in Senate: The trigger wasn’t pulled but the bill was.

Earlier this session, folks in the Georgia Senate told me that the parent trigger bill was unlikely to win passage. I thought they were wrong when the bill flew through the House but today’s events suggest my sources were right.
House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, withdrew his parent-trigger charter school legislation amid doubts by his GOP Senate colleagues.
Seven states have enacted parent trigger laws; Georgia was among three state considering them. House Bill 123 

District outlines plan to outsource more Head Start seats

One issue that has mostly flown under the radar in the frenzy over school closings: The District is planning to privatize nearly 2,000 additional Head Start seats, saying that without this move the number of children getting pre-K services -- already just a fraction of those eligible -- would shrink precipitously.
Featured Title: 
Opponents worry about maintaining quality

Solving teacher retirement system’s shortfall would cost billions - by John Fensterwald

When Gov. Jerry Brown talks about paying down the state’s “wall of debt,” he doesn’t mention the state teachers’  retirement system. And yet the towering $73 billion unfunded shortfall in the state pension fund for teachers and administrators, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, makes Brown’s wall, at about $30 billion, look like a picket fence. On Wednesday, at joint...

How big is the policy book?

In a discussion about the 12th grade humanities class at The Center School, commenter parent wrote:
"They've got so many procedures and policies, it's impossible to follow them." I have heard Director Martin-Morris describe them as a long shelf stuffed with binders. That's not accurate.

I hear this sort of thing all the time. I also observe the reaction I get from people when my knowledge of School Board policies is displayed. They are generally surprised. That's not appropriate.

Here's the truth: You could probably read all of the policies in a single sitting in a single afternoon.
There aren't that many policies and most of them are pretty brief. You, too, could become a policy expert 

Another Positive Review Of My New Book

Another nice review of my new book, Self-Driven Learning, was published today.
Here’s how Winifred Kehl concludes her review at the Getting Smart blog:
Reading it felt like a friendly tour through a toolbox of techniques teachers (and educators of all sorts) can apply and experiment with. Sprinkled liberally with references to teaching resources and research, there is a treasure trove of further reading I can follow up on, but more importantly, I am left with practical suggestions I can put to use today to encourage intrinsic motivation in students of all ages.

Notes from Diane – March 15, 2013

We Will Stand Up to the Billionaires
The organizers of the Network for Public Education are thrilled by the wonderful response from parents, teachers, students, and concerned citizens who have joined us as members and allies.
We received excellent press coverage, and the word of our existence is spreading across the nation.
We will help grassroots groups connect to other grassroots groups.
We will identify education bloggers across the nation.
We exist to amplify their message and to give them moral support.
In the coming months, we will provide information and research to help friends of public education support their 

Last-minute open enrollment tactics

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013 - 7:42 am
Sara Noguchi, area assistant superintendent at the Sacramento City Unified School District, joined The Bee for a live chat Tuesday and offered last-minute guidance on open enrollment.
The deadline is today at 5 p.m. for elementary school students. Applications are available on the district's website, The district has seen a rise in applications this year after it

Read more here:

71 school actions in massive district shakeup

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett will recommend the Board of Education close 61 school buildings (displacing 54 school staffs), co-locate 11 schools and turnaround six schools.
The closing schools are the ones whose administrators will be laid off and most of the teachers will be displaced. Some of the welcoming schools will be located in the closed school buildings.
The list is below. More to come.

Karen Lewis on Chicago School Closings

The mass closing of public schools in Chicago should be the lead story on every news channel tonight. It is not. The fact is that a dozen years of No Child Left Behind and three-plus years of Race to the Top has persuaded the American public that closing schools is “reform.”
It is not.
It is a dereliction of responsibility. It is an abdication of any oath of office that a public official in this country takes. It is a betrayal of any commitment to equality of educational opportunity. It is a capitulation to corpora