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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why Don’t Americans Know What Really Happened in Vietnam? | The Nation

Why Don’t Americans Know What Really Happened in Vietnam? | The Nation:

Why Don’t Americans Know What Really Happened in Vietnam?

Napalm strike in Vietnam
A napalm strike erupts in a fireball near US troops in South Vietnam, 1966 during the Vietnam War. (AP Photo)
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The 1960s—that extraordinary decade—is celebrating its 50th birthday one year at a time. Happy birthday, 1965! How, though, do you commemorate the Vietnam War, the era’s signature catastrophe? After all, our government prosecuted its brutal and indiscriminate war under false pretexts, long after most citizens objected, and failed to achieve any of its stated objectives. More than 58,000 Americans were killed along with more than 4 million Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians.
So what exactly do we write on the jubilee party invitation? You probably know the answer. We’ve been rehearsing it for decades. You leave out every troubling memory of the war and simply say: “Let’s honor all our military veterans for their service and sacrifice.”
For a little perspective on the 50th anniversary, consider this: we’re now as distant from the 1960s as the young Bob Dylan was from Teddy Roosevelt. For today’s typical college students, the Age of Aquarius is ancient history. Most of their parents weren’t even alive in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson launched a massive escalation of the Vietnam War, initiating the daily bombing of the entire country, North and South, and an enormous buildup of more than half a million troops.
In the post-Vietnam decades, our culture has buried so much of the history once considered essential to any debate about that most controversial of all American wars that little of substance remains. Still, oddly enough, most of the 180 students who take my Vietnam War class each year arrive deeply curious. They seem to sense that the subject is like a dark family secret that might finally be exposed. All that most of them know is that the Sixties, the war years, were a “time of turmoil.” As for Vietnam, they have few cultural markers or landmarks, which shouldn’t be surprising. Even Hollywood—that powerful shaper of historical memory—stopped making Vietnam movies long ago. Some of my students have stumbled across old films likeApocalypse Now and Platoon, but it’s rare for even one of them to have seen either of the most searing documentaries made during that war, In the Year of the Pig and Hearts and Minds. Such relics of profound antiwar fervor simply disappeared from popular memory along with the antiwar movement itself.
On the other hand, there is an advantage to the fact that students make it to that first class without strong convictions about the war. It means they can be surprised, even shocked, when they learn about the war’s wrenching realities and that’s when real education can begin. For example, many students are stunned to discover that the US government, forever proclaiming its desire to spread democracy, actually blocked Vietnam’s internationally sanctioned reunification election in 1956 because of the near certainty that Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh would be the overwhelming winner.
They’re even more astonished to discover the kind of “free-fire zone” bloodshed and mayhem the U.S. military unleashed on the South Vietnamese countryside. Nothing shocks them more, though, than the details of the My Lai massacre, in which American ground troops killed, at close range, more than 500 unarmed, unresisting, South Vietnamese civilians—most of them women, children, and old men—over a four-hour stretch on March 16, 1968. In high school, many students tell me, My Lai is not discussed.
An American Tragedy
Don’t think that young students are the only products of a whitewashed history of the Vietnam War. Many older Americans have also been affected by decades of distortion and revision designed to sanitize an impossibly soiled record. The first step in the cleansing process was to scrub out as much memory as possible and it began even before the US-backed regime in South Vietnam collapsed in 1975. A week before the fall of Saigon, President Gerald Ford was already encouraging citizens to put aside a war that was “finished as far as America is Why Don’t Americans Know What Really Happened in Vietnam? | The Nation:

Is Philadelphia School Partnership's offer a disguised bribe?

Letters: Is PSP's offer a disguised bribe?:

Is Philadelphia School Partnership's offer a disguised bribe?

IMAGINE THIS: A lobbyist from the Chamber of Commerce approaches Mayor Nutter and offers a $10,000 donation to the city if the mayor will veto the upcoming vote requiring city employers to provide sick days. That lobbyist would be arrested and tried in a court of law.

When Mark Gleason, executive director of the Philadelphia School Partnership, spoke with School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green last week and offered a donation of $25 million in exchange for the SRC to approve a number of charter-school applications, what followed was a discussion in the news media about whether he was offering enough.

But this offer from PSP to persuade the five members of the SRC to approve more charter schools is not about funding schools. Given the relationships among many of those involved, it might be considered a bribe.

Current members of PSP's board have close relationships with charter schools who have submitted applications for additional campuses.

For example: Janine Yass is a founder of Boys' Latin Charter; Mike Wang, former managing director of PSP and current executive director of the Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners, one of the lobbying arms of PSP, is on the regional board of KIPP Charter Schools; Chris Bravacos, through his lobbying and consulting firm, Bravo Group, has represented both Aspira and KIPP.

And it is fair to ask how many of the anonymous donors whom Gleason claims to have lined up also have direct connections to charter providers in the city. They stand to benefit from an SRC vote to approve their applications.

This is not about a donor making a contribution for a school to build a playground or purchase more laptops, as some local sports and entertainment figures have done. This is about a perceived attempt to influence the vote of a governmental body that has been entrusted with the legal power to run Philadelphia's schools.

The Philadelphia School Partnership is not simply a philanthropic organization. It has a very clearly established political agenda: the advancement of a free-market ideology of school "choice"; the creation of more charters, whether for-profit or nonprofit; and an anti-union stance made clear when PSP supported then-Gov. Tom Corbett's withholding of $45 million until the teachers union made concessions. (Moving 15,000 students from district schools to charters means the loss of roughly 500 union positions.)

In 2011, PSP was designated in the Great Schools Compact, formulated by the Gates Foundation and signed by the district and several charter owners and advocates, to oversee the implementation of its mandates, including the "replacing or transforming of at least 5,000 low-performing seats annually for each of the next five years, beginning in 2012-13." This $25 million "gift" simply enables the continuation of the diaspora of Philadelphia's public-school children.

The SRC set a deadline of Feb. 1 for the public to submit comments on the SRC's charter-application process. PSP's conversation with Chairman Green days after that deadline represents one more example of PSP's special status within the district. As the influence of PSP and its benefactors has grown, the voices of parents, teachers and students have been diminished.

Perhaps PSP's donors, who have suddenly found $25 million, want to remain anonymous so that they don't have to admit to turning their backs on Philadelphia's children for the past four years while their schools have been trying to survive on a


NY educators launch campaign blasting Gov. Cuomo’s flawed education proposals « Education Votes

NY educators launch campaign blasting Gov. Cuomo’s flawed education proposals « Education Votes:

NY educators launch campaign blasting Gov. Cuomo’s flawed education proposals

by Brian Washington


Find out how you can fight back against Gov. Cuomo’s so-called education reforms. CLICK HERE ›
Aides to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have reportedly met with leaders representing teachers and education support professionals, following the launch of a statewide multi-media campaign calling out the governor’s destructive “billionaire’s agenda” for public education.
Television ads, which are airing on commercial and cable channels throughout the state, are hammering the governor for his lack of support for students, educators, and public schools.
So far, no one is talking about what, if anything, came out of the Albany meeting—which reportedly took place last week.

The New York State United Teachers, which represents more than 600,000 educators across the state, is responsible for the campaign, which was launched at the beginning of the month. The media blitz also includes billboards as well as print and social media advertising.
NYSUT President Karen E. Magee, an elementary education teacher with 30-years of service to students, believes the governor’s education agenda is destructive to teaching and learning. She says it features “failed gimmicks” and places more emphasis on standardized testing and puts more pressure on students.
“The governor should be listening to the true experts—students, parents, and educators—about what’s really needed. It’s not more emphasis on standardized testing, but fair and equitable funding that benefits every child in the state and more support for our already strong public education system,” said Magee.
Andrew Cuomo Meme (3)
Magee and other educators charge the governor is pushing a “test-and-punish” education agenda that’s being driven by hedge fund billionaires, who have never set foot in a classroom, but want to initiate a corporate take-over of public schools.
NYSUT is not the only group of educators calling out the governor for his policies. Recently, seven former New York State Teachers of the Year addressed an open letter to the Governor blasting his education reforms and for making them the “enemy.”
We are teachers. We have given our hearts and souls to this noble profession. We have pursued intellectual rigor,” reads the letter. “We have fed students who were hungry. We have celebrated at student weddings and wept at student funerals. Education is our life. For this, you have made us the enemy. This is personal.
As part of NYSUT’s campaign, educators are using the hashtags #InviteCuomo and#AllKidsNeed to reach out to the governor via social media to get him to tour public schools. They want parents and school personnel to give him a first-hand account of how destructive over-testing, poverty, funding inequality, and education budget cuts have been to students.

I want to apologize for complaining that so many leaders of the education reform movement aren't teachers. BATS


"BAT Mitchell Robinson - "I want to apologize for complaining that so many leaders of the education reform movement aren't teachers. Turns out I have learned a lot from these people.

Jeb Bush taught me that class size limits, as are guaranteed in Florida's constitution, cost too much and are ineffective--for all children but his own.

Michelle Rhee has taught me that a roll of tape is a teacher's best classroom management tool.

David Coleman has taught me that just saying the Common Core was designed by actual teachers enough times will convince many people it's true. What a great reminder of the power of repetition.

Rick Snyder has taught me that kids are worth a lot--and we need to start profiting from those little bundles of joy by expanding the number of for-profit charters for all children--except his own.

And Wendy Kopp, for teaching us that poverty is no excuse for inadequate student achievement. Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps already--once you get a pair of boots, that is...

See how much we have learned!"

Badass Teachers Association

Me and My Pals: How We Learned to Teach - Living in Dialogue

Me and My Pals: How We Learned to Teach - Living in Dialogue:

Me and My Pals: How We Learned to Teach

By Anthony Cody.
We met this week for what must have been about the 200th time. This group, the Learning to Teach Collaborative, began way back in 1988, when I was in my first year of teaching middle school science in Oakland. For the next dozen years, we met once a month, and over dinner, and with a bit of wine, we learned to teach together.
At the start, most of us were fresh, struggling to cope with the challenges of the classroom. We wrestled with how to make sure all our children could read, how girls could get a fair shake, how our own middle class upbringing might affect how we related to students of different backgrounds, and how racism could be fought, in our own classrooms. We used the simple act of conversation. We shared our experiences and frustrations, and challenged one another to look at things in different ways. We wrote about our work, in our classrooms and with one another, in a book entitled “Teacher Research & Urban Literacy: Conversations in a Feminist Key,” published in 1994.
I was lucky to be invited to join. At the start there were a few more participating. All of us had gone through the teaching credential program at UC Berkeley, and Sandra (Sam) Hollingsworth had been conducting research looking into how teachers learned their craft. She and her assistant, Karen Teel, brought us together for guided discussions to find out how we were teaching students to read. I was a science teacher, but I found it reassuring to have a place to share what was going on in my classroom, even if it was not very focused on my discipline. Over time the degree to which the group was “led” shrank, and we became colleagues.
Leslie Minarik taught second grade in Richmond – she retired two years ago. Mary Dybdahl taught and then became a principal in Vallejo, and now works part time coaching administrators. Sandra Hollingsworth has been an international literacy expert, and retired one year ago. Jennifer Smallwood taught elementary school in Berkeley, ran the farm and garden program there, and now works managing a farm camp in rural Sonoma County. Karen Teel taught middle school history in Richmond, and then became a professor of Education at Holy Names college in Oakland. Robyn Lock joined us about a dozen years ago as Sam’s partner, and was a professor of Physical Education – now retired.
This group helped shaped my understanding of what it meant to be a teacher. We actively reflected on our Me and My Pals: How We Learned to Teach - Living in Dialogue:

Scott Walker’s lying mess: How a tough Wisconsin teacher schooled the governor -

Scott Walker’s lying mess: How a tough Wisconsin teacher schooled the governor -

Scott Walker’s lying mess: How a tough Wisconsin teacher schooled the governor

A Marquette classmate debunks the college dropout’s tales about a “teacher of the year” and "the Wisconsin idea"

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker jumped to the front of the unimpressive GOP 2016 presidential pack thanks in large part to rave reviews for his speech at the conservative Iowa Freedom Summit late last month. (The Washington Post charts the impact of the speech here.)
But it turns out one of its most powerful moments was a lie.
Walker told the story of Megan Sampson, whom he said was “the [2010] Outstanding Teacher of the Year in my state.” He claimed Sampson was laid off that same year by Milwaukee Public Schools because of union seniority rules, which were abolished by Act 10, the 2011 legislation that dismantled protections for public employees.
In fact, Sampson was not the Outstanding Teacher of the Year, not even one of them. An actual 2010 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, Claudia Klein Felske, who won the high school award, laid out the extent of Walker’s fib in an open letter to Walker posted on the Marquette Educator site Monday. There were also awards given for middle school, elementary school and special services teachers of the year, she explained, but Sampson was not among them.
It turns out the award Megan Sampson received was the “Nancy Hoefs Memorial Award,” given to “an outstanding first year teacher of language arts” by a small Wisconsin English teachers association. Winners nominate themselves, and there were fewer than a dozen such nominations that year.
It’s true that Sampson was sent a layoff notice due to state budget cuts that year, and seniority was one factor, but she was recalled to her post that same summer. She declined the job, and went to teach in the suburbs.
And while Walker was boasting that his 2011 rollback of public workers’ rights made layoffs of younger teachers like Sampson impossible, in fact Act 10 doesn’t even prevent the use of seniority in layoffs.
Walker has used Sampson politically before. In a 2011 Wall Street Journal editorial, he told her story a tiny bit differently, saying she “was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin,” while still using her to hype his assault on collective bargaining.

The irony is that Felske was classmates with Walker at Marquette University, where he left without graduating under still-mysterious circumstances. She charges her former classmate with “a systematic attempt to dismantle public education, the cornerstone of democracy and the ladder of social mobility for any society.”
I was remiss last week in failing to write about Walker’s slashing the budget of the University of Wisconsin system – of which I’m a product – by a punishing 13 percent. Maybe more outrageously, he attempted to slash the nationally renowned foundation of that system, the statement of ideals that became known as “the Wisconsin idea.” Walker tried to cut such statements as “basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth,” and that the system’s mission was “to educate people and improve the human condition” and “serve and stimulate society.” The new statement charged the university with meeting “the state’s work force needs.”
As the New York Times editorialized, “It was as if a trade school agenda were substituted for the idea of a university.” Walker later claimed the changes to the statement were the Scott Walker’s lying mess: How a tough Wisconsin teacher schooled the governor -

Wash. Post Editorial Board Misses The Mark On Educational Testing And Teacher Accountability | Research | Media Matters for America

Wash. Post Editorial Board Misses The Mark On Educational Testing And Teacher Accountability | Research | Media Matters for America:

Wash. Post Editorial Board Misses The Mark On Educational Testing And Teacher Accountability

A Washington Post editorial ignored evidence that high-stakes testing is not by itself an effective measure of student and teacher performance to baselessly allege that teachers unions want to dodge accountability.

Senate Plans To Rewrite No Child Left Behind

Testing One Of The "Few Key Areas" In Negotiations On No Child Left Behind. According to National Journal, as the Senate plans an overhaul of No Child Left Behind, "tension among negotiators on the issue will center on a few key areas -- when and how to test students to ensure they are achieving as they are expected, and how much control the federal government will have over states." [National Journal1/20/15]

Wash. Post Editorial Alleges Teachers Unions Want To "Undermine" Annual Testing, Dodge Accountability

Wash Post. Editorial: Teachers Unions Pay "Lip Service To Accountability." In a February 9 editorial, The Washington Post editorial board advocated for annual testing in any rewrite of NCLB and alleged that teachers unions don't want to be held accountable for test scores as part of teacher evaluations (emphasis added):
Among those seeking to undermine annual testing are teachers unions that give lip service to accountability as long as their members aren't the ones held to account.Consider, for example, the latest "compromise" plan backed by the American Federation of Teachers: It would continue the practice of annual tests and publication of results, but most tests would not count in judging how well schools are performing. As for whether test scores should be a factor in teacher evaluations, as rightly advocated by the Obama administration, lawmakers from both parties are showing a lack of interest, The Post's Emma Brown reported.
There are valid concerns about over-testing; states and localities should take a hard look at whether they have a structure of unnecessary or duplicative tests. But the federal government must not back away from the common-sense principle that states need to test students, use the results to judge if schools are showing growth and take action against those that consistently fail to do so. [The Washington Post2/9/15]

But Experts Say High-Stakes Testing Alone Isn't An Effective Measure For Teachers Or Students

Economic Policy Institute: Technical Experts Agree That "Test Scores Alone Are Not A Sufficiently Reliable Or Valid Indicator Of Teacher Effectiveness." A group of 10 education experts published a report for the Economic Policy Institute in 2010 that pointed out the limits of relying on test scores, acknowledging that "[w]hile there are good reasons for concern about the current system of teacher evaluation, there are also good reasons to be concerned about claims that measuring teachers' effectiveness largely by student test scores will lead to improved student achievement." The report concluded:
We began by noting that some advocates of using student test scores for teacher evaluation believe that doing so will make it easier to dismiss ineffective teachers. However, because of the broad agreement by technical experts that student test scores alone are not a sufficiently reliable or valid indicator of teacher effectiveness, any school district that bases a teacher's dismissal on her students' test scores is likely to face the prospect of drawn-out and expensive arbitration and/or litigation in which experts will be called to testify, making the district unlikely to prevail. The problem that advocates had hoped to solve will remain, and could perhaps be exacerbated. [Economic Policy Institute, 8/27/10]
National Research Council: Standardized Tests "Fall Short Of Providing A Complete Measure Of Desired Educational Outcomes." An expert panel of the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academies of Science, released a report in 2011 that found "test-based incentives" do not produce greater student achievement. According to The Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog:
The report said that standardized tests commonly used in schools to measure student performance -- including high school exit exams and tests in various grades mandated by former president Bush's No Child Left Behind law -- "fall short of providing a complete measure of desired educational outcomes in many ways," according to a summary of the lengthy document.
The report, together with a number of other studies released in the past year, effectively serve as a warning to policymakers in states that are moving to implement laws, with support from the Obama administration, to make teacher and principal evaluation largely dependent on increases in students' standardized test scores.
Other studies in the past year have also cast doubt on the effectiveness and reliability of the value-added method of teacher/principal evaluation, which takes student test scores and puts them into a formula that is supposed to factor out other influences and determine the "value" a teacher has brought to a student's learning. [The Washington Post, Answer Sheet, 5/28/11]
2002 Study: High-Stakes Testing Can Even Decrease Student Learning. In a 2002 study published in the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives, Arizona State University researchers Audrey L. Amrein and David C. Berliner examined the high-stakes testing programs in 18 states and found that "in all but one analysis, student learning is indeterminate, remains at the same level it was before the policy was implemented, or Wash. Post Editorial Board Misses The Mark On Educational Testing And Teacher Accountability | Research | Media Matters for America:

POLITICO’s Stephanie Simon Investigates Pearson—Essential Reading | janresseger

POLITICO’s Stephanie Simon Investigates Pearson—Essential Reading | janresseger:

POLITICO’s Stephanie Simon Investigates Pearson—Essential Reading

No Profit Left Behind, Stephanie Simon’s blockbuster POLITICO investigation of the publishing giant, Pearson, is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how things work in American education these days.  Simon warns, “Pearson’s dominance does not always serve U.S. students or taxpayers well.”
This is a major investigation: “POLITICO examined hundreds of pages of contracts, business plans and email exchanges, as well as tax filings, lobbying reports and marketing materials, in the first comprehensive look at Pearson’s business practices in the United States.  The investigation found that public officials often commit to buying from Pearson because it’s familiar, even when there’s little proof its products and services are effective.”
From North Carolina’s bid-free purchase of a student data system that failed so catastrophically that North Carolina “had to pay Pearson millions extra to fix it,” to the Los Angeles iPad disaster that brought down school superintendent John Deasy, Pearson’s no-bid contracts have often been far more expensive than anyone anticipated because the products didn’t work as promised. Pearson was responsible for the curriculum that was to have been loaded on the iPads for every student in Los Angeles.  “Pearson alone stood to make an estimated $135 million over three years even though its curriculum was at that point at least a year away from completion.  And that was just the start: The district would also have to pay Pearson an estimated $60 million a year to keep using its curriculum after 2016….”  “A federal review of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s iPad deal found the district could have saved considerably by building its own custom curriculum from a variety of online resources rather than buying a costly off-the-shelf model from a major publisher.” The FBI continues to investigate how Deasy and Pearson came up with this deal.
Where did Pearson come from?  “The company that would play such an outsize role in American classrooms was founded in Yorkshire, England, in 1844 as a family-owned construction firm… Over the decades, Pearson PLC—now based in London—bought stakes in all manner of industries, including newspapers, amusement parks and even the Madame Tussauds wax museum.  It wouldn’t be until 1988 that the company took its first big step into the education world when it bought textbook publisher Addison-Wesley.”  “The British publishing giant Pearson had made few inroads in the United States… when it announced plans in the summer of 2000 to spend $2.5 billion on an American testing company…  The next year, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandated millions of new standardized tests for millions of kids in public schools… From that perch, the company POLITICO’s Stephanie Simon Investigates Pearson—Essential Reading | janresseger:

Student Success Act: Corporate Education Reform on Steroids | Education & the Workforce Committee

Student Success Act | Education & the Workforce Committee:

Big Education Ape: Twitter Call to Action! Tweet your trouble with NCLB rewrite! The Network For Public Education |

The Student Success Act (H.R. 5) will reduce the federal footprint and restore local control, while empowering parents and education leaders to hold schools accountable for effectively teaching students.
Big Education Ape: Twitter Call to Action! Tweet your trouble with NCLB rewrite! The Network For Public Education |

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Bill Information

Full Committee

February 11, 2015
H.R. 5, "Student Success Act"
The markup is scheduled at 10:00 a.m. in room 2175 Rayburn H.O.B.  
**View a Live Webcast of the Hearing**Please note that this feature is only available when Committee on Education and the Workforce hearings are in progress. 
Contact the committee at least two business days prior to the scheduled event for closed captioning requests.       
MEDIA ADVISORY: Committee to Mark Up the Student Success Act (February 9, 2015)

Big Education Ape: Twitter Call to Action! Tweet your trouble with NCLB rewrite! The Network For Public Education |