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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Top school officials say Anderson is out, Cerf in as interim Newark schools chief | Bob Braun's Ledger

Top school officials say Anderson is out, Cerf in as interim Newark schools chief | Bob Braun's Ledger:

Top school officials say Anderson is out, Cerf in as interim Newark schools chief


Top school officials in Newark are reporting that  Cami Anderson will announce her resignation this week as state-appointed superintendent. One source says he expects Christopher Cerf, the former state education commissioner who hired Anderson in 2011, to be appointed interim superintendent.
A bigger shocker, however, is that the school officials and other sources expect the board to be given a role in selecting a permanent replacement for Anderson. “I’m very excited about this,” one source said. “I feel like we should be having a party.”
Rumors of her impending resignation have been resounding throughout the school system for the last few weeks–sparked primarily by her apparent decision to empty her office.  Employees at 2 Cedar Street have said her office has been empty for days.
In the last few days, Anderson also has caved in on significant decisions–to make both East Side High School and Weequahic High School, both iconic institutions in the city,  so-called “turnaround” schools.
The sources who reported Anderson’s resignation and Cerf’s appointment say they expect a formal announcement Monday. The Newark school board is expected to meet Tuesday night at a regular monthly meeting. Anderson has not attended a public session of the board since January, 2014.
The breakthrough, according to sources who would not speak for the record, came in private talks between school board officials and members of the state board of education.  Mark Biedron, the president of the state school board, apparently has come to Newark and initiated “conversations” with critics of Anderson.
Four members of the school board–Ariagna Perello, its president; Marques Aquil-Lewis, its vice president and  Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson and Donald Jackson spoke at a state school board meeting earlier this month.
“Too much has been happening for the state school board to ignore,” said one source, citing the decision by Lamont Thomas, principal of nationally known Science Park High, to resign, and the extraordinary decision by the principal of Top school officials say Anderson is out, Cerf in as interim Newark schools chief | Bob Braun's Ledger:

Students and Bears, Oh My! How Common Core Discards the Importance of Reasoning and Intuition

Students and Bears, Oh My! How Common Core Discards the Importance of Reasoning and Intuition:

Brown bear in forest after rain

Students and Bears, Oh My! How Common Core Discards the Importance of Reasoning and Intuition

This post is about reasoning and intuition with students and bears, and what we have lost by focusing on Common Core State Standards and not the students themselves. There are interesting similarities. Let me start with bears.
I just returned from visiting Glacier National Park. Glacier is full of bears—both grizzlies and black bears. So, before hiking I listened carefully to rangers discuss bears. Rangers in national parks are fascinating people. They design their programs for children and adults. If you go to any national park, please listen to advice rangers give about how to deal with the animals at that specific park—including bears.
The first thing you want to do is respect such magnificent animals, of course, and understand as much as you can about them and their behavior. Below I provide a link to what to do about bears while one hikes in Glacier.
One ranger talked about using intuition if you run into a bear. First, you try to avoid bears and rangers will explain how to do this. But if you accidently meet one, and you understand bear behavior, you might be able to keep your cool and figure out what needs to be done in a split second.
With good reasoning the intuition sets in.
For example, if you run into a momma black bear, you don’t want to act ferocious, or act bigger than she is to scare her if she has cubs. She would likely get defensive. If a black bear is alone, you might act differently. Backing away slowly from most bears might do the trick. Bears usually want nothing to do with you.
This got me to thinking about the importance of using reasoning and intuition when you are a teacher.
The more teachers understand how to teach—the developmental age of the student and appropriate learning for the age group—the more they can reason how to address Students and Bears, Oh My! How Common Core Discards the Importance of Reasoning and Intuition:

Education, Inc A documentary about how money and politics are changing our schools

Education, Inc:

Education, Inc. A documentary about how money and politics are changing our schools.

Education Inc. Documentary Follows the Money Corrupting Our Schools - Living in Dialogue

Education, Inc. Movie

ANNOUNCING Education Inc.
National Grass Roots Screening!

DVDFriday, August 14th, 2015
American public education is in controversy. As public schools across the country struggle for funding, complicated by the impact of poverty and politics, some question the future and effectiveness of public schools in the U.S.
For free-market reformers, private investors and large education corporations, this controversy spells opportunity in turning public schools over to private interests. Education, Inc. examines the free-market and for-profit interests that have been quietly and systematically privatizing America’s public education system under the banner of “school choice.”
Education, Inc. is told through the eyes of parent and filmmaker Brian Malone, as he travels cross-country in search of the answers and sources behind the privatizing of American public education, and what it means for his kids. With striking footage from school protests, raucous school board meetings and interviews with some of the most well known educators in the country, Malone zooms out to paint a clear picture of profit and politics that’s sweeping across the nation, right under our noses.

Watch The Trailer

Education, Inc. Facebook Feed

Education, Inc.
Education, Inc.Friday, June 19th, 2015 at 3:25pm
Drop your pin on the Ed Inc map!!

Hey everyone.. there is a cool feature we added to the Ed Inc. website. We now have a map that shows all of the places there will be screenings across the country... How cool is that!? If you're planning a screening, please visit the Screenings page and enter your info where/when your screening is and we'll drop a pin on the U.S. map. Let's fill up the map!

And thanks again for waking up to corporate education reform!
Education, Inc.
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Education, Inc.
Education, Inc.Friday, June 19th, 2015 at 7:33am
Dummy Charter School
Education, Inc.
Education Inc Dummy Charter School
This is "Education Inc Dummy Charter School" by Fast Forward Films, LLC on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.
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Education, Inc.
Education, Inc.Friday, June 19th, 2015 at 5:51am
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Education, Inc.
Education, Inc.Thursday, June 11th, 2015 at 1:33am
Education Inc.
National Grass Roots Screening
Friday, August 14th, 2015

Be part of the national movement to open up the conversation of outside money behind education reform.

Host your own house party. Rent out a community center. Show the movie and then have an open and honest conversation about school reform and all of the dark money behind it.

Get your DVD here!
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Education, Inc.
Education, Inc.Education, Inc. created an event.Thursday, June 11th, 2015 at 1:32am

Education, Inc:

Education Inc. Documentary Follows the Money Corrupting Our Schools - Living in Dialogue

Education Inc. Documentary Follows the Money Corrupting Our Schools - Living in Dialogue:

Education Inc. Documentary Follows the Money Corrupting Our Schools 

By Anthony Cody.
A new documentary will be released on August 14th that could provide a powerful boost to local efforts to organize resistance to the corporate takeover of public schools. It is called Education Inc, and it tells the tale all too familiar to many of us – that of the drive to privatize one of the few public institutions left in our withering democracy.
If you are frustrated by what you see happening in your local schools, if your school board is beset by billionaire-sponsored candidates, and charter schools are starving neighborhood schools of funding, this film might give you a much needed rallying point. The film’s creator is making it available for community showings, and is building for a one-day national release on August 14. A film showings can provide a focal point that brings people together and inspires further actions. Details for booking the film are here.
But first, a bit of background on this story. I met Brian Malone a couple of years ago, when some parent activists brought me to Douglas County, Colorado, to talk about what was happening with corporate education reform. It was just a week or two prior to a major election that pitted those who supported public schools against a pro-privatization slate backed by ALEC and big money from outside of the area. There was all sorts of skullduggery in this election. The District used taxpayer funds to commission a pseudo-academic “white paper” by the head of the American Enterprise Institute, Rick Hess. His paper, and accompanying blog post, described Douglas County as “the most interesting district in America,” because it was a wealthy district experimenting with school choice. This paper was released in the middle of the campaign, and put a rosy glow on the candidates who supported this approach. It came out later that the school district paid Hess and his co-author $30,000 for their praise.
This money was just the tip of a much bigger iceberg that threatens to sink public education in communities across the country. Teacher friends who worked in film maker Brian Malone’s community began telling him that things were awry a few years ago. At first he could not believe things could be as bad as he was hearing. He explains:
I agreed to attend some school board meetings and even videotape them out of curiosity. It wasn’t long until I began to see things differently. I watched this new school board systematically dismantle every part of what made Douglas County Schools great for more than 50 years. School board meetings sounded more like corporate shareholder meetings. Student fees multiplied, while at the same time the board was holding back almost $100-million from classrooms. And for the first time ever, my kids had to pay to ride the school bus. There was a lot of talk about encouraging competition, letting 
Education Inc. Documentary Follows the Money Corrupting Our Schools - Living in Dialogue:

Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: CCSS Menu, Your Choice | commoncorediva

Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: CCSS Menu, Your Choice | commoncorediva:

CCSS Menu, Your Choice


Warriors against Common Core, make no mistake, Common Core isn’t only going to be set in stone for the next 7 years IF the HR5 re-authorized bill headed up by Sen. Alexander is passed; it will also be set in stone IF the HEA re-authorized bill headed up by Sen. Alexander is passed, as well!!
Many warnings have been given over the past months–by others who’ve researched both bills and in my articles. I’ve researched the HEA one especially.
While HR5 is set to impact K-12 students, teachers, and their schools;  HEA’s Common Core tentacles will grasp all citizens no matter what educational choice they had in the past. This means if you were homeschooled, attended a private charter, or private faith-based school for K-12: Common Core via its adult version of Career and Technical Education (or Career Pathways, Career Clusters, American Apprenticeship Initiative, Workforce Training) will be there. This means if you just graduated from a public charter school, a public school of any kind, your introduction to Career and Technical Education (or the other names above) has already begun! This means that if  you’re hold a job which requires you to further your education via post-secondary education, Common Core will ensnare you, too! This means if you’re going back to school to begin a new chapter of life,Common Core is your ‘welcome back’ to class!
Both bills, HR5 and HEA contain data mining, high stakes assessments which encompass not only students, but the teachers, professors, and/or instructors.
Both bills are being sold to America as improvements for education. HR5 will give the states sovereignty again. HEA will save taxpayers money. Again, both of these points have been proven to be smoke in our eyes to blind us from the stark reality of what is really written in both bills! Both bills are the babies of not only Sen. Alexander, but a wide Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: CCSS Menu, Your Choice | commoncorediva:

Chicago Charter School Students Say UNO Teacher Was Fired for Union Activism - Working In These Times

Chicago Charter School Students Say UNO Teacher Was Fired for Union Activism - Working In These Times:

Chicago Charter School Students Say UNO Teacher Was Fired for Union Activism

"Who do we want?! Heise! When do we want him?!" "Now!" students chanted on the afternoon of June 9 as commuters drove down 47th street in Chicago, occasionally honking their horns to show support and solidarity. 
A young man in a suit and tie led the call-and-response chants, wielding a megaphone and firing up a small crowd of student protesters. That young man is Berto Aguayo, a graduate of Major Hector P. Garcia MD High School, an UNO Network charter school located in the Archer Heights neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago. He's also a former student of English teacher Rob Heise, who was fired by the school on June 3. 
Heise, an educator and activist who was active in the recently successful campaign to unionize his school—one of the most prominent charter chains in Chicago, which has recently come under heavy fire for accusations of corruption—was fired earlier this month for reasons the administration has declined to comment on. (The school did not respond to requests for an interview.) But according to students at Tuesday's protest, Alex Rock, the school's principal, told students that Mr. Heise was fired for failing to turn in students’ grades and assignments. Other students say they think Heise was fired for showing a Victoria's Secret commercial to a class during a discussion about how the media influences and distorts teens' body image and confidence. (Heise declined to comment on his case in light of upcoming legal challenges to his firing.)
Daniel Izguerra, who was in Heise's mentorship program before graduating last year, says he knows the real reason why Heise was fired. "They fired him for being an outspoken union activist." 
Heise was fired on the same day that teachers at Urban Prep charter schools voted to join the Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS), a union that is part of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The firing also occurred just days before the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which represents some 27,000 teachers, administrators and paraprofessionals in the Chicago Public Schools system, rallied and marched in downtown Chicago, demanding a fair contract and a "just Chicago."
Word of Heise’s termination quickly spread among the student body, and on June 11, as fifth period lunch ended, dozens of students flooded the school’s third floor hallway to demand his reinstatement. 
Jessica Ramirez, one of his former students who is now a junior at Garcia High School, explained that students "were on the third floor linking hands in the hall protesting." "We said we were not going to go into [class] until they brought him back," said Ramirez. 
Protests continued the next Friday when some 30 students walked out during fifth period lunch. The students returned to school in time for sixth period but resumed their political activity once school let out. Dozens of current students joined alumni across the street on the southwest corner of 47th and Kildare to continue protesting. Over 50 students chanted in unison: "A good teacher belongs in the classroom! Bring back Heise!" Some even wore handmade spraypainted t-shirts with the hashtag #BBH—standing for “Bring Back Heise.” 
By Monday, a Facebook page created by unidentified students called "Bring Mr. Heise Back" had garnered over 500 likes, and a second afterschool protest drew out over 50 current and former students once more who picketed and chanted demands for the administration to reinstate Heise at once. 
The turnout for Tuesday's afterschool protest, however, was significantly smaller with only 18 students picketing, most of them alumni. According to the few current students present at Tuesday's protest, this is because Principal Rock called a mandatory afterschool meeting with all of the students who participated in Friday's fifth period walkout.  
"Threatening students with suspension on the week before finals is making it hard to keep the momentum going," explains Chicago Charter School Students Say UNO Teacher Was Fired for Union Activism - Working In These Times:

CURMUDGUCATION: Privatization Primer

CURMUDGUCATION: Privatization Primer:

Privatization Primer

Every once in a while I try to take the many complicated and twisty threads, back up, and tie them into a bigger picture. Think of this as the kind of post you can share with people who don't read blogs about education every single day (no kidding-- there are such people, and they're too busy doing the work to spend time reading about doing the work).

There are many threads to the reformy movement in education, but perhaps the most predominant one is the push for privatization. Many folks look at education and they just see a gigantic pile of money that has previously gone untouched. To them, education is a multi-billion dollar industry that nobody is making real profit from.

Many of the aspects and features of what I'm about to lay out appeal to other sorts of folks for other sorts of reasons, but here is how they fit into the agenda of privatizers.

Step One: Create Failure

Use metrics for measuring school success that will guarantee failure (that's where Common Core testing fits in). For instance, base the measure of school and teacher success on bad standardized tests that don't actually measure academic achievement as well as they measure poverty. These tests will also narrow the definition of success so that fewer students will fit through the eye of the needle (a brilliant musician who tests poorly in math and English will be counted as a failure). Norm these tests around a curve, so that somebody will always be on the failing end. 

The testing will create the appearance of failure, but policy can also create actual failure by stripping resources from schools. Every voucher and charter system drains money away from public schools; in some states (e.g. Pennsylvania) there are even caps on raising taxes so that local districts couldn't replace the shortfall even if they wanted to.

Concentrate these efforts on non-white, non-wealthy districts, which are both the most vulnerable and the least "protected" because their community has little political clout.

Use stack ranking so that whatever your metric, somebody is always in the bottom X% of the spread (5% has been a popular number).

If it seems as if your state has instituted policies that will force schools to fail, this is why. If there are no failing schools, there's no crisis, and if there's no crisis, there's no trigger for step two. 

Step Two: Consolidate Power

Once there's a crisis from the proliferation of failing schools, it's time to step in.  

You may hear the terms "turnaround" or "rescue" or even "takeover," but the basic process is the same-- the end of local control. Currently rising in popularity is the Achievement School Districtmodel, based on the Recovery School District of New Orleans and most fully attempted in Tennessee.

The basic principle is simple. These schools are failing, therefor the state must take them over. The 
CURMUDGUCATION: Privatization Primer:

Schools Matter: The Latest Racist/Classist StandardizedTest from ETS

Schools Matter: The Latest Racist/Classist StandardizedTest from ETS:

The Latest Racist/Classist StandardizedTest from ETS

A hundred years ago the first large scale IQ tests were devised by American eugenicists who saw testing as a surefire "scientific" way to sort, segregate, and mistreat "defectives," so that they would not mix and, therefore, stain the purity of the white middle class "germ plasm." 

The Alpha and Beta IQ tests were first administered to 1.75 million American military recruits at the outbreak of World War I.  The underprivileged who scored poorly were sent off to be gassed in the trenches of France. Those middle class young men who knew that tennis courts had nets and what bowling balls were supposed to look like aced the test and were given desk jobs in Washington or were sent off to officer training school. 

A few years after WWI another eugenicist did some minor modifications to the Army tests, and the result was the first college entrance exam known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test.  Machine scoring came a few years later, and nothing has changed since. 

Except that a universe of new standardized tests have been devised since those early days to do what the original racist tests did so effectively: weed out the underprivileged, the brown, the immigrant, the black.  Just as back then, the test results are directly correlated to family wealth and income, thus assuring that white and/or middle class privilege and scientific racism/classism will not be challenged as the rule of the Land.

So as Arne Duncan spews about the need for more black and brown teachers, he and his henchmen work overtime to inspire the development of new tests to make sure that black, brown, and immigrant groups remain cut out of teaching careers by tests designed to do just that.  Story from New York Times:


Students are not the only ones struggling to pass new standardized tests being rolled out around the country. So are those who want to be teachers.
Concerned that education schools were turning out too many middling graduates, states have been introducing more difficult teacher licensing exams. Perhaps not surprisingly, passing rates have fallen. But minority candidates have been doing especially poorly, jeopardizing a long-held goal of diversifying the teaching force so it more closely resembles the makeup of the country’s student body.
“This is very serious,” said David M. Steiner, dean of the School of Education at Hunter College and a former New York State education commissioner. “It reflects, of course, the tragic performance gap we see in just about every academic or aptitude test.”
On a common licensing exam called Praxis Core, a new test given in 31 states or jurisdictions that was created to be more rigorous than its predecessor, 55 percent of white candidates taking the test since October 2013 passed the math portion on their first try, according to the preliminary data from the Educational Testing Service, which designed the exam. The passing rate for first-time African- American test takers was 21.5 percent, and for Hispanic test takers, 35 percent. A similar gap was seen on the reading and writing portions.
In New York, which now has four separate licensing tests that candidates must pass, an analysis last year of the most difficult exam found that during a six-month period, only 41 percent of black and 46 percent of Hispanic candidates passed the test their first time, compared with 64 percent of their white counterparts.

A federal judge is now weighing whether the test is discriminatory. Because of complaints from education schools that students have not had enough time to adjust, as well as concern about the impact on minorities, at least two states — New York and Illinois — have already postponed or loosened some of their new requirements.
Israel Ramos, who graduated from the education school at Lehman College in the Bronx, failed New York’s toughest exam three times, once, he said, by just a few points. While working as a substitute, Mr. Ramos said, he was asked if he would be interested in staying on for at least six permanent teaching positions.
“And on all those occasions, I had to turn them down because I lacked certification,” he said.
On the fourth try, he passed the test, and he is interviewing for several teaching Schools Matter: The Latest Racist/Classist StandardizedTest from ETS:

Students faced with bullying, staff want more training, Portland schools survey results show |

Students faced with bullying, staff want more training, Portland schools survey results show |

Students faced with bullying, staff want more training, Portland schools survey results show

Results from Portland Public Schools' latest student and employee surveys show that staff feel they need more training, and more than half of seventh-grade students were insulted, called names or made fun of at least once last year, in addition to other findings. 
Portland Public Schools released the results of its staff survey Thursday afternoon and findings from a student survey on Friday.  The Successful Schools Survey asked questions about school climate, discipline, professional development, instruction and more.
According to a report from Portland-firm DHM Research, which analyzed the results, about 1,460 school-based staff and administrators took the survey. About 34 percent of respondents taught in grades five or above, 26 percent taught in grades four or below and 5 percent were administrators. About a quarter of those who took the survey were classified staff.
Nearly 5,500 students in grades five, seven and 10 took the student version of the survey.
DHM Research provided un-weighted data and results weighted to reflect the PPS staff and student population. Here are a few takeaways from the surveys using un-weighted numbers:
Staff survey
  • Schools have positive environments and promote academic success:Survey results reflect that staff largely feel their school environment is positive for students. About 90 percent agreed that their school is "a supportive and inviting place for students to learn." More than 85 percent agreed that their school works for academic success  and sets high academic standards. About 87 percent agreed that their school emphasizes relevant teaching strategies.
  • Some staff don't have enough professional training, especially on how to serve special needs students: Some of the areas with the most disagreement were tied to professional support. For example, nearly 30 percent of those surveyed disagreed that they had adequate materials, resources and training to do their work effectively. Concerns about special education resources were also apparent. About 70 percent of those who took the survey said they work with special education students. About 61 percent said they need additional resources to serve students with special needs and roughly half of respondents said they needed more training on culturally relevant instruction and closing the achievement gap. About 45 percent said they need more training about helping English Language Learners and behavioral supports and classroom management.
  • Some staff want support services and help with discipline: About 33 percent of survey takers disagreed that their school provided adequate counseling and support services for students. In terms of discipline, about 38 percent disagreed that behavioral and discipline issues are handled effectively. Survey results also reflect a need for additional prevention instruction, according to the report. About 54 percent of those who took the survey said their school provided little or no instruction on drug and alcohol use prevention. Roughly 23 percent said their school provides little or no instruction on harassment of bullying prevention.
Student Survey
  • Most fifth-grade students feel connected to school, but some lessons don't address different backgrounds: More than 93 percent of students said they "feel close to people at school" at least some of the time, and more than 74 percent said they felt that way most of the time or all of the time. About 83 percent said teachers treat them with respect most of the time or all of the time. However, results also show that class lessons don't always reflect a student's background. About 30 percent of fifth-grade students say their lessons never have examples of their "racial, ethnic or cultural background."
  • Many seventh-grade students feel safe at school, but students also reported bullying: About 58 percent of students in seventh-grade said they feel safe at school and another 28 percent said they feel very safe. Similar percentages of students said they feel safe in the hallways, cafeteria and restrooms specifically. Yet students also reported concerns with bullying. About 43 percent of students said they had been the subject of mean lies or rumors at least once in the past year. Another 38 percent said they had been made fun of because of how they look or talk at least once. More than 20 percent of students said they had "been made fun of, insulted or called names," four or more times in the past year, and 53 percent experienced those situations at least once. The report also found that non-historically underserved students were more likely to have not been harassed or bullied in the past year.
  • Tenth-grade students notice misbehaving peers, strong teacher support: About 60 percent of high school students who took the survey disagreed that their peers behave how teachers would like them to. Another 38 percent agreed that it is easy for students to get kicked out of school, and about 40 percent said that sexual jokes, comments or gestures had been directed at them at least once in the past year. Students also noted strong support from adults. About 91 percent of 10th-grade students said it was at least a little true that there is an adult at the school who believes in their success.
Superintendent Carole Smith said she appreciated getting feedback from employees and students, and said the district is committed to anti-bullying and racial equity work.
 "A supportive and inclusive learning environment is among the most crucial ingredient for all students to reach their potential," she said in a statement. "We want to build on what's working in our schools and fix what isn't."
The results of a companion survey for parents, hosted by Portland State University's Oregon's Kitchen Table program, came out last month. More than 6,000 parents and guardians took the study. 
--Laura Frazier