stephanie jones

Archive for 2015|Yearly archive page

Response to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and the Cato Institute

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2015 at 3:28 pm

After the publication of our op-ed on the AJC Get Schooled blog, the president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and the Cato Institute wrote letters refuting the essay.

Here is our response, specifically to the Cato Institute’s claim that the essay included untruths.

We acknowledge that in Chile, like in the United States, the debate over what counts as data, how data is interpreted, and the measures that are used to indicate educational achievement and improvement is ongoing and often influenced by broader political and economic ideologies and goals. That being said, we respond below to questions about specific claims made in our essay.

First of all, our statement is that there’s no “clear” evidence that students’ scores have improved. This is quite relevant, since a main idea inspiring the “Chilean experiment” was to show that a private, market based education would be “clearly” superior. It is this that the last 3 decades failed to show. Controlling for socioeconomic variables, there are no big differences between the private and public system in the SIMCE. Moreover, there are some public schools, e.g., the “Instituto Nacional”, that select students as much as private schools do and that, interestingly, do better than most of the latter in standarized testing.

According to former consultant to the Ministry of Education (and one of the leading Chilean researchers in the area) C. Bellei, not only do we not have empirical grounds to assert that private schools have been more effective than public schools; furthermore, he says, the outcomes of studies have tended to be biased in favor of private schools, in such a way that the latter may happen to be less effective. At any rate, the average difference between private and public schools is so small that they are close to be irrelevant.

Now it is true that Chile has shown a certain improvement in his relative position in PISA scores. But (1) this may say less about Chilean improvements and more about other countries’ relapse; and (2) these results are controversial among researchers anyway. Additionally, standarized testing is neither the only nor the best way or criterion to determine the quality of an educational system, it is simply the way favoured by market-oriented systems. Another criterion that could be used is equity and inclusion. In particular, there is increasing agreement among educators and researchers that diverse, heterogeneous schools are better that homogeneous, segregated ones. The following is an excerpt from the conclusions of a recent empirical analysis of the socioeconomic status school segregation in Chile:

“Summarizing, we found that the magnitude of the socioeconomic school segregation in Chile was very high and tended to slightly increase during the last decade; we also found that private schools – including voucher schools – were more segregated than public schools; and we estimated that some educational market dynamics (i.e. privatization, school choice, and fee paying) accounted for a relevant proportion of the Chilean SES school segregation. We interpret these findings as broadly consistent with our hypothesis that links SES school segregation and marketoriented mechanisms in education, which is additionally supported by recent international reports based on PISA 2009 (OECD 2010a) and handbook chapters specialized on these issues (Gill and Booker 2008), which demonstrated that larger private school participation on educational market is not coupled with improvement on the average national standardized test scores but it is strongly related to more segregated and unequal educational systems” (“Socioeconomic school segregation in a market-oriented educational system. The case of Chile”. Published in the Journal of Education Policy, 2014, Vol. 29, No. 2, p. 233).

All in all, and beyond the different possible interpretations of a same set of data (which is always possible in social science), what we have to acknowldedge is that the privatization of education is far from being the panacea once sold by the advocates and designers of the Chilean neoliberal educational model. The fact is that after 30 years Chilean people are not convinced by such a model and, moreover, they are massively demanding, not any change, but a radical change. The US should learn something from this.

All our best,
Stephanie and Alfredo

Advocates of the Privatization of Education and making public education a “free market”:

Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice (Georgia folks – does this list look familiar?): http://www.edchoice.org/School-Choice/What-is-School-Choice

Cato Institute: http://www.cato.org/

Learning from Chile’s Mistakes – Don’t Privatize Public Education

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2015 at 1:25 am

Thanks to Maureen Downey at the Atlanta Journal Constitution for publishing this essay at http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2015/03/24/opinion-national-experiment-in-school-choice-market-solutions-produces-inequity/

What the U.S. Can Learn From Chile:

Failed Educational Experiments and Falsely Produced Miracles

Alfredo Gaete (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)

Stephanie Jones (University of Georgia, U.S.)

Imagine a country that was once committed to quality public education, but began to treat that public good like a market economy with the introduction of charter schools and voucher systems. Imagine that after a few years, most students in this country attended private schools and there was public funding for most of such schools, which must compete for that funding by improving their results. Imagine that the state fostered this competition by publishing school rankings, so that parents were informed of the results obtained by each institution. Imagine, finally, that school owners were allowed to charge extra fees to parents, thereby rendering education a quite profitable business.

But let’s stop imagining, because this country already exists.

After a series of policies implemented from the 1980s onward, Chilean governments have managed to develop one of the most deregulated, market-oriented educational schemes in the world. Inspired by the ideas of such neoliberal economists as Hayek and Friedman, the ‘Chilean experiment’ was meant to prove that education can achieve its highest quality when its administration is handed over mainly to the private sector and, therefore, to the forces of the market.

How did they do this?

Basically by creating charter schools with a voucher system and a number of mechanisms for ensuring both the competition among them and the profitability of their business. In this scenario, the state has a subsidiary but still important role, namely, to introduce national standards and assess schools by virtue of them (in such a way that national rankings can be produced). This accountability job, along with the provision of funding, is almost everything that was left to the Chilean state regarding education, in the hope that competition, marketing, and the like would lead the country to develop the best possible educational system.

So what happened? Here are some facts after about three decades of the ‘Chilean experiment’ that, chillingly, has also been called the ‘Chilean Miracle’ like the more recent U.S. ‘New Orleans Miracle.’

First, there is no clear evidence that students have significantly improved their performance on standardized tests, the preferred measurement used to assess schools within this scenario of the free market.

Second, there is now consensus among researchers that both the educational and the socioeconomic gaps have been increased. Chile is now a far more unequal society than it was before the privatization of education – and there is a clear correlation between family income and student achievement according to standardized testing and similar measures.

Third, studies have shown that schools serving the more underprivileged students have greater difficulties not only for responding competitively but also for innovating and improving school attractiveness in a way to acquire students and therefore funding.

Fourth, many schools are currently investing more in marketing strategies than in actually improving their services.

Fifth, the accountability culture required by the market has yielded a teach-to-the-test schema that is progressively neglecting the variety and richness of more integral educational practices.

Sixth, some researchers believe that all this has negatively affected teachers’ professional autonomy, which in turn has triggered feelings of demoralization, anxiety, and in the end poor teaching practices inside schools and an unattractive profession from the outside.

Seventh, a general sense of frustration and dissatisfaction has arisen not only among school communities but actually in the great majority of the population. Indeed, the ‘Penguins Revolution’ – a secondary students’ revolt driven by complaints about the quality and equity of Chilean education – led to the most massive social protest movement in the country during the last 20 years. So even though there still are advocates of the private model of education, especially among those who have profited from it, an immense majority of the Chilean society is now urging the government for radical, deep reforms in the educational system of the country. Very recently, in fact, an announcement was made that public university would be free for students, paid for by a 24% tax on corporations.

The ‘Chilean Miracle’ – like the ‘New Orleans Miracle’ – it seems, is not a miracle of student growth, achievement, equity, and high quality education for all. Rather, it is a miracle that a once protected public good was finally exploited as a competitive private market where profit-seeking corporations could receive a greater and greater share of public tax dollars.

It is also a miracle that such profit-seeking private companies and corporations, including publishing giants that produce educational materials and tests, have managed to keep the target of accountability on teachers and schools and not on their own backs. Their treasure trove of funding – state and federal tax monies – continues to flow even as their materials, technological innovations, products, services, and tests fail to provide positive results.

So we don’t have to guess what the result will be of the current ‘U.S. experiment’ with competition-infused education reform that includes school choice, charter schools, charter systems, voucher systems, state-funded education savings accounts for families, tax credits for “donations” to private schools, state takeover school districts, merit pay, value-added models for teacher evaluation, Common Core national standards, PARCC and Smarter Balanced national tests, edTPA national teacher education evaluations, and federal “rewards” such as Race to the Top for states that come aboard.

Indeed, Chilean education reform from the 1980s to the present provides the writing on the wall, so to speak, for the United States and we should take heed. Chile is now engaged in what will be a long struggle to dig its way out of the educational disaster created by failed experimentation and falsely produced miracles. The United States still has time to reverse course, to turn away from the scary language of crisis and the seductive language of choice and accountability used in educational reform, and turn toward a fully funded and protected public education for our nation.

Get rid of tipping – build labor cost into the price we pay

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2015 at 8:00 am

Some restaurants have already done it, eliminated tipping and increased their servers’ pay to $15.00 an hour. It eliminates competition in the workplace, promotes worker collaboration and better service for all customers, and it stops the wildly unpredictable income that tipped workers have lived with forever.

Here’s a great new essay to help us all rethink the tipping culture and what it does and doesn’t do:

https://theconversation.com/why-we-should-get-rid-of-tipping-37452

What are student teacher and teacher dress codes for – and what do they do?

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Please sign the petition and start critical discussions about dress codes for teachers

The Feminist-Scholar Activists group at the University of Georgia has called our attention to a tradition that perpetuates sexism, dysfunctional practices around the body, and positions teachers to expect to be submissive and compliant.

Here’s the petition:
https://www.change.org/p/the-university-of-georgia-stop-judging-our-clothing​

Does your university, college, or K-12 school have “dress codes” for student teachers or teachers? How do they differ for men and women? What message does that send to the 80+ percent of teachers who are women? Have we ever considered that forcing student teachers to “comply” with specific (archaic?) dress codes also prepares them for a career of accepting orders from others rather than cultivating a powerful voice of analysis, critique, and standing up for oneself, one another, students, and public schools?

As many around the country wonder why more teachers aren’t organizing and resisting the oppressive working conditions under which they are expected to be creative, responsive, thoughtful, and “effective” teachers – perhaps we need to reconsider how teachers are “oriented” into the world of education. A focus on compliance and assimilation rather than analysis, critique, and thoughtful resistance paves the way to having a workforce that is reluctant to stand up, even for themselves.

Here’s a great op-ed to start the discussion in your institution:

http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2014/12/22/dress-codes-for-female-teachers-their-clothing-seems-to-be-more-important-than-their-teaching-skills/

Economic Inequality Keeps Rearing Its Ugly Head

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2015 at 3:07 pm

The following essay is written by Carmel Borg from Malta, a country that has many more equitable provisions in place than  the United States. Recently they made the decision to eliminate “tracking” or “streaming” of students based on educators’ perceptions of ability and potential.

Bolded words within the essay are emphasized by me, as they seem particularly relevant to the U.S. context.

No ‘Quick Fix’ School Panacea

Professor Carmel Borg, University of Malta

In 1967, eight boys from Barbiana, under the tutorship of Don Lorenzo Milani, wrote a scathing review of the education system in Italy. Angered at the way the education system had rubbished thousands of children living precariously, they intuitively concluded that schools were more interested in force-feediing inert knowledge and in tripping students through a mindless assessment regime than in liberating disadvantaged children through ‘powerful knowledge’, that is, curricular experiences which enable citizens to critically engage the world as much as they competently compute and read and write the word. Backed by national award-winning quantitative data, the Tuscan students empirically affirmed that there is a strong correlation between socio-economic status and educational achievement. Almost fifty years and billions of research money later, the same conclusion holds: income inequalities and gaps in social and cultural capital are correlated with differentiated levels of achievement and cognitive capital, with low socio-economic status students at the receiving end of the achievement continuum. 

People, including newspaper commentators, react differently to the achievement gaps registered locally and elsewhere. Some conclude that these gaps are natural and inevitable. Others claim that low achievement mirrors lack of parental interest in and appreciation for matters that are educational in nature. Many opt for blaming it on schools, teachers, teacher trainers and education policy makers. Some equate educational achievement with genetics.

The literature on the intersection of socio-ecomomic status and educational achievement is vast, complex and, at times, contradictory. However, a number of facts can be safely assertained:

  • Fact 1: Poverty does interfere with educational achievement.   PISA results of the 2009 reading tests, albeit not ‘absolute’ and requiring critical interrogation, reveal that, among 15-year-olds in the top 14 countries, students with lower economic and social status had far lower test scores than their more advantaged counterparts within every country.
  • Fact 2: The right education policy decsions do influence achievement gaps. Comparative literature stemming from PISA studies reveals that the best-performing countries are adopting policies that contribute substantially to equity in education. Policiy lessons learned from the highest ranking countries include: limiting early tracking and streaming and postponing academic selection; providing strong education for all, giving priority to early childhood provision and basic schooling; strengthening the links between school and home to help disadvantaged parents help their children to learn; identifying and providing systematic help to those who fall behind at school and reduce year repetition; directing resources to the students with the greatest needs, so that the poorer communities have at least the same level of provision; responding to diversity and providing for the successful inclusion of migrants and minorities within mainstream education; setting concrete targets for more equity, particularly related to low school attainment and dropouts; managing school choice; in upper secondary education, providing attractive alternatives, removing dead ends and preventing dropout; offering second chances to gain from education.
  • Fact 3: Schools may defy the odds and rapture cycles of low academic achievement. The school effectiveness movement has for long insisted that schools can make a difference if they provide enabling environments and meaningful opportunities to learn. Some of the variables that the school effectiveness movement has studied and provided empirical evidence for their effectiveness include: high expectations for students; teachers’ and adminstrators’ opportunity to engage in ongoing professional development; collective instructional leadership; and student time-on-task. PIRLS underscored teacher experience, the disciplinary climate of the classroom and parental support as the most important variables, while PISA studies highlighted student-teacher ratio, teacher qualifications, resources, teacher morale and commitment, teacher-student realtions and disciplinary climate as variables that can make a difference in the life of all students.
  • Fact 4: Schools can make a difference but they cannot ‘fix’ societies and quickly so. Research conducted by the American Statistical Association concludes that the impact of teachers on their students’ standardized test scores is 1% – 14% of the total score. Thus, systematic campaigns against teachers, blaming them for students’ failure, when most of the variables impacting students’ standardized test scores may lie outside the perimeter of schools, are problematic and empirically unsustainable.

Backed by solid empirical evidence, I can safely conclude that low academic ahievement is socially and economically partial and that the cycle of systemic and systematic underperformance can be raptured. Believing that schools and education can eliminate social inequalities is politically naive and ethically irresponsible.   Interrogating the widening, global and local, social and economic gaps and the undemocratic concentration of wealth and power consitute a good moral start. Urgent political action in favour of individuals, family units, and communities with a history of poverty and precariousness, community-based action by people who have the intellectual preparation and the skills to engage productively with the disadvantaged, and schools that serve as enabling community centres, are three indispensable actions of a just society that serves the vulnerable just-in-time.

Faculty and Students at UGA College of Education speak out against Federal proposals to regulate Teacher Preparation

In Uncategorized on February 7, 2015 at 11:35 am

75 folks at the University of Georgia College of Education signed a letter opposing the federal proposals to regulate teacher preparation programs. Kudos to teacher educators and non-teacher educators alike who can see the devastating consequences certain to come if these policies are implemented.

Comment

Teacher Preparation Issues

 

Comments supported by the below signed faculty, staff, students and administrators from the

University of Georgia College of Education

 

This is a letter authored and supported by the below signed administrators, faculty, staff, and students at the country’s first state-chartered public university and one of the nation’s largest colleges of education addressing proposed federal level changes to the evaluation of teacher preparation programs released by the federal government on December 3, 2014 and open for comments until February 2, 2015. In the proposed rules, states will be required to annually assign teacher preparation programs to one of four categories: low performing, at-risk, effective, or exceptional. Those labels will be designated based on the criteria proposed, including employment outcomes, k-12 student learning outcomes, student survey outcome data, and accreditation data. We are wholeheartedly invested in meeting the needs of k-12 students in high needs areas and their outcomes, though we are highly concerned about some of the foundational aspects of these proposed rules.

Put most simply, our concerns in relationship to these proposed rules are:

  • Value added measures do not work to evaluate a teacher’s effectiveness nor a teacher preparation program’s effectiveness.
  • The cost of complying with the proposed rules will be excessive and unnecessary.
  • There is a disincentive for teachers to teach in high-need contexts because of the high stakes placed on student learning outcomes measured by standardized tests.

As teachers, teacher-educators, researchers, staff, students, and administrators we are each dedicated to high quality, impactful, research-based teaching practices that aid in the development of 21st century citizens. We recognize that all stakeholders want many of the same things: the robust education of young people in our communities, the need to assure all students are subject to high expectations, and the recognition that there is no excuse for poorly trained teachers. We recognize problems in k-12 education and in the preparation of teachers. Our work involves addressing these problems in the here-and-now, real time work of teacher education and in the context of k-12 public school classrooms.

In recognizing these shared concerns, we also recognize ways where we may depart and disagree with how to address them. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that not all disagreements are the same. For example, there is a new teacher certification program called edTPA, which represents something of a higher stakes “bar exam”- like a credentialing system for newly minted teachers. For many, this represents a top-down measure that seeks to diminish the autonomy of teacher educators. For others, though, edTPA is a way to establish nationally recognized standards for what teachers need to be able to know and do on their first day of teaching. The point here is that very smart people disagree about this issue. But there are some things about which very smart people tend to find consensus, and one of these is the inappropriateness of what are called “Value Added Measures” to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers. There are many critiques of this model (example). Even those in support of using VAM recognize its shortcomings, weaknesses, and unreliability to identify a good teacher from a bad one.

If VAM measures are unreliable in the context of evaluating individual teacher’s work with their students in a particular classroom, then they become even more unreliable with their proposed use in the Department of Education’s rules. There, programs of teacher education are evaluated in terms of the test scores that their graduates’ k-12 students receive on standardized tests. If the previous sentence seems confusing, that’s because it represents something confounding: that a teacher preparation program is graded based not on the assessments of its own students (on things like, perhaps, edTPA), but on the assessments of the students of their students. Simply put, this is a bad policy.

Here’s why. The Center for Education Data and Research, whose research is cited in support of the proposed regulations to assess teacher education programs, claims in that very same cited research that “it is difficult, if not impossible to definitively assess the causal impact of training institutions on teacher candidates since the effectiveness of in-service teachers is likely to depend on both their individual attributes and what they learned while being trained”. That quote, however, was footnoted in the report, so maybe it was easy to overlook. In any event, the quote underscores something on which the research community (in teacher education, measurement, statistics and evaluation) agrees: VAM is an unreliable and invalid way to evaluate teachers or the programs in which they are prepared. The American Statistical Association concluded that only 1-14% of the variability in student test scores can be attributed to a single teacher. Even if we might disagree about the evaluation of teachers and teacher education, we have to agree that this particular idea should be dismissed, if for no other reason, because of its lack of grounding in research and expertise.

In addition to the fundamental flaw of using VAM models in the hopes of evaluating teacher and program effectiveness, the proposed regulations will require a new layer of bureaucracy to be housed at the state level and within each of the Institutions of Higher Education that house teacher preparation programs. Taxpayers’ dollars are already stretched thin in the state of Georgia and across the country. When it comes to funding public education, tax dollars that are currently used for high-stakes testing and compliance bureaucracies can be better invested in basic, high-quality education resources. If these federal policies for evaluating teacher preparation programs come to fruition, even more tax dollars will be appropriated for more data collection and compliance, and fewer for the educational needs of future teachers. And finally, given the emphasis on k-12 test scores in the evaluation of teacher preparation programs, it is highly likely that teacher preparation programs will be better served if their graduates find employment in schools and districts with higher standardized test scores. This will result in even more disincentive than there is now for the best prepared educators to work in the communities and schools that have the highest need.

With these issues in mind, it seems as though objections exist across the political spectrum. For our colleagues and neighbors and parents and family members who are conservative, these rules represent “big government” at its most problematic. The rules go from Washington D.C. think tanks straight down into our neighborhood classrooms. It goes against the prevailing logic of corporate culture that advocates against standardization and for creativity and innovation. For our liberal friends and associates, this represents a move to further dismantle the public institutions upon which the country has built its democratic traditions. Moreover, the reappropriation of already stretched public money to the creation and maintenance of bureaucracies to implement and maintain compliance is not worth the trade-off. This money could be better spent addressing system level issues in communities, schools, and partnerships.   Yet, surprisingly, these moves leading up to the latest proposed rules have been supported by both Republican and Democrat policy makers. This leaves us curious and, frankly, a bit confused. Why do these seem to be the rules that make the most sense?

Our feeling is that there is immense pressure on all of us to substantially improve education, and on its face we see how these rules could make intuitive sense in a move toward meeting those ends. But according to extensive research and studies, standardized tests do not measure learning, achievement, or teacher effectiveness, no matter how much intuitive sense it makes. Therefore, it is our contention that we go back to the drawing board and draft new rules that include attention to not only the teachers and their preparation, but also attention to communities, families, and districts.

We do not stand against accountability in any way. We are in no way attempting to shield ourselves from public scrutiny or evaluation. In fact, we readily participate in accreditation processes that hold us to high standards of practice and continue in good faith to do so. We constantly re-evaluate our practice and programs to the meet the needs of teachers and students. We are hopeful that our models for these important functions are forged out of the best research practices available, rather than the fragile and unsupported logic of value added measures, increased bureaucracies, and diminished incentive to work in high-needs contexts.

Signed,

James Garrett, Assistant Professor

Hilary E. Hughes, Assistant Professor

Ajay Sharma, Associate Professor

Kyunghwa Lee, Associate Professor

Stephanie Jones, Professor

Mardi Schmeichel, Assistant Professor

Brian W. Dotts, Clinical Associate Professor

Michelle M. Falter, PhD Candidate & Instructor of Record

Elizabeth A. Pittard, PhD Candidate & Graduate Assistant

Sonia Janis, Clinical Assistant Professor

Melissa Freeman, Associate Professor

Linda Harklau, Professor

Cynthia Vail, Professor

Erin Adams Graduate Teaching Assistant

Ruth Harman, Associate Professor

Lloyd P. Rieber, Professor

Gretchen Thomas, Instructor

Tanya R. Walker, Instructor

JoBeth Allen, Professor Emeritus

Bob Fecho, Professor

Ron Butchart, Professor

Rouhollah Aghasaleh, PhD Candidate

Martha Allexsaht-Snider, Associate Professor

Denise Davila, Assistant Professor

Denise Oen, Clinical Assistant Professor

Shara Cherniak, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Katie Wester-Neal, PhD Candidate

Eunji Cho, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Cory Buxton, Professor

Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor

Sara Kajder, Clinical Assistant Professor

Jamie C. Atkinson, PhD Student

Bethany Hamilton – Jones, Clinical Assistant Professor

Elizabeth Thompson – MEd Student

Jennifer Graff, Associate Professor

Cindy Blair-PhD Candidate

Amy Heath – Clinical Assistant Professor

Michelle Commeyras, Professor

Roger Hill, Professor

Jennifer J. Whitley, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Jennifer H. James, Associate Professor

Fuad Elhage, Instructor

Jessica Kobe, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Logan Garrett, Academic Advisor

Elizabeth A. St.Pierre, Professor

Jeremy Kilpatrick, Regents Professor

Kevin Moore, Assistant Professor

Leslie P. Steffe, Distinguished Research Professor

Patricia S. Wilson, Professor

Karen Hale Hankins, Assistant Part Time Faculty

Latoya Johnson, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Jessica Bishop, Associate Professor

Chris Linder, Assistant Professor

Joseph Tobin, Professor

Todd Dinkelman, Associate Professor

Suyun Choi, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Donna Alvermann, Distinguished Research Professor

  1. Gayle Andrews, Professor

Bob Capuozzo, Assistant Clinical Professor

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, Professor

Allison Nealy, Associate Clinical Professor and CCSD District-Wide Professor-in-Residence

Jolie Daigle, Associate Professor and NE GA RESA/Rutland Professor-In-Residence

Bryan McCullick, Professor

Mary Guay, Assistant Clinical Professor

Sally Zepeda, Professor, Educational Administration and Policy; and, Clarke County School District Professor-in-Residence.

Beth Tolley, Clinical Associate Professor

Bettina L. Love, Assistant Professor

Corey W. Johnson, Professor, Lifelong Education, Administration and Policy

In Heok Lee, Assistant Professor

Kathryn Roulston, Professor

Chang Liu, PhD student & Graduate teaching assistant

Xiaoying Zhao, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Katherine F. Thompson, Clinical Professor

Betty Bisplinghoff, Associate Professor

Jemelleh Coes, PhD Student & Field Supervisor

A List of Feminist Books I Love…

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2015 at 10:57 am

Prompted by colleagues asking for recommendations of books to build a small library of feminist scholarship, I quickly jotted down this list of books. Surely some of my favorites are missing and I’ve missed some big ones – but nevertheless, this is a pretty great collection that could lead to many treasures in feminist thought, feminist pedagogy, feminist research, and many ways of thinking, being, doing feminisms.

“Teaching to Transgress” by bell hooks
“Feminist Theory from Margin to Center” by bell hooks
“Where We Stand: Class Matters” by bell hooks
(you can see that I am a bell hooks fan)
“Feminism is for Everybody” by bell hooks
“Borderlands/LaFrontera” by Gloria Anzaldua
“Space, Place, and Gender” by Doreen Massey
“Frogs and Snails and Feminist Tales: Preschool Children and Gender” by Bronwyn Davies
“Shards of Glass” by Bronwyn Davies
“Girls, Social Class, and Literacy” by me (Stephanie Jones)
“Writing and Teaching to Change the World” edited by Stephanie Jones
“School for Women” by Jane Miller
“Bitter Milk” by Madeleine Grumet
“Landscape for a Good Woman” by Carolyn Steedman
“Class Work: Mother’s Involvement in their Primary Children’s Schooling” by Diane Reay
“Growing Up Girl” by Valerie Walkerdine, Helen Lucey
“Schoolgirl Fictions” by Valerie Walkerdine
“Counting Girls Out” by Valerie Walkerdine
“Mastery of Reason” by Valerie Walkerdine
(I’m also a big fan of Valerie Walkerdine)
“Schoolsmart and Motherwise” by Wendy Luttrell
“Pregnant Bodies, Fertile Minds” by Wendy Luttrell
“Multicultural Girlhood” by Mary Thomas
“The Everyday World as Problematic” by Dorothy Smith
“Seductions” by Jane Miller
“Black Feminist Thought” by Patricia Hill-Collins
“Bodies that Matter: On The Discursive Limits of Sex” by Judith Butler
“Undoing Gender” by Judith Butler
“Childhood and Postcolonization” by Cannella and Viruru
“Vibrant Matter” by Jane Bennett
“When Species Meet” by Donna Haraway
“Meeting the Universe Halfway” Karen Barad
“Ordinary Affects” Kathleen Stewart
“Women Teaching for Change” by Kathleen Weiler
“20 Years at Hull House” by Jane Addams
“Formations of Class and Gender” by Beverly Skeggs
“Reproducing Gender” Madeleine Arnot
“Working the Ruins” Elizabeth St. Pierre
“Troubling Education” Kevin Kumashiro
“Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde
“The Bridge Called my Back” by Cherrie Moraga
“Women, Race, and Class” by Angela Davis

Public Comment Open Now – Federal Policy Proposals for Teacher Preparation Programs

In Uncategorized on January 19, 2015 at 10:00 am

Teacher educators, and teacher education programs, are the new targets of reform. Why? Perhaps: 1) to “open up the market” of teacher education and promote more for-profit enterprises for teacher certification, 2) to solidify the high-stakes testing regime fueled by corporate interests, 3) discredit higher education institutions in order to justify defunding them, 4) control the curriculum – and thus ideology – of future teachers.

Click here now to read the proposed policy and make your comments known: http://aacte.org/resources/regulations

Last Ditch Effort to Force Compliance with High-Stakes Tests is Madness

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2015 at 10:42 am

Read the op-ed on AJC here: http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/

A Last Ditch Effort to Keep High-Stakes Testing in K-12 Schools – And a Plea to Call it Quits

Stephanie Jones

Professor, Educational Theory and Practice

University of Georgia

Picture this: a physician takes a position in a doctor’s office within an economically struggling community because she believes that everyone should have access to high quality healthcare and a physician who can provide it. For this decision, she accepts a lower salary and more challenging working conditions. Years go by and she has created a strong rapport with her patients, working with them to find medications for the lowest price possible and doing a lot of work out of her own pocket. It’s work that is both heartbreaking and rewarding: she changes lives, makes them more livable, and probably even extends them.

The doctor’s patients, however, die earlier in their lives than those who have more money and more resources, and the government has decided that mortality rates will be used to evaluate her performance as a doctor, her salary, and whether or not her office will remain open. This is devastating news, and while she knows it is unethical, the doctor considers leaving the practice and providing care for patients who are more likely to live longer simply because they have more economic resources to devote to healthcare – and her evaluations will look better.

After remaining in the community and receiving poor evaluations from the government for several years, the doctor gets a phone call from one of her favorite professors in medical school. Has she considered practicing medicine in a different town or state where the life expectancy of her patients would be higher? They ask. Why? She responds. Because the poor performance of your patients is putting our Medical School at risk of having poor evaluations and the negative consequences will influence our school’s autonomy, funding, and reputation.

Yes, the Medical School would be evaluated based on the health performance of the patients of their former graduates who are now doctors.

This is what will happen to our education system if the latest proposal for teacher preparation regulations from the federal government (https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/03/2014-28218/teacher-preparation-issues ) is accepted. And the entire House of Cards is balancing precariously upon one fulcrum: the testing regime. In a last-ditch effort to force us (parents, K-12 educators, teacher educators, students, and citizens) to quietly comply with standardized testing that has turned into U.S. 21st century child labor (http://www.ajc.com/news/news/opinion/merit-pay-could-revive-child-labor/nQmZb/ ), as well as ruining childhood and real learning, they are pinning Colleges of Education against the wall: Make your graduates’ future students’ test scores improve, or else.

The American Statistical Association has conducted research and insists (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/13/statisticians-slam-popular-teacher-evaluation-method/ ) that the impact of teachers on their students’ standardized test scores is a mere 1% – 14% of the total score. That means 86% – 99% of the variables impacting students’ standardized test scores include things beyond a teachers control: the income level of parents, the education level of parents, access to regular and healthy food, access to stable housing, etc. Indeed, standardized tests have long been criticized for their biases and non-objectivity (http://www.fairtest.org/facts/whatwron.htm ), the “value-added” economic model does not work for measuring teachers’ effectiveness relative to standardized tests, and unchanged SAT scores indicates that the militant testing agenda and implementation has not improved “college readiness” one iota (http://www.fairtest.org/2014-sat-score-trend-remains-flat-testfixated-scho ).

Even though an individual teacher impacts only 1% – 14% of a child’s standardized test score, under these new regulations the College of Education where that teacher earned her degree will be held accountable for the child’s standardized test score (http://www.federalregister.gov/a/2014-28218/p-114 ).

Stop the madness. Everyone knows the testing regime is a farce.

The era of testing has failed miserably, but we can only begin undoing the damage and rebuilding our K-12 students’ and families’ trust in and value from public education when we call it quits on high-stakes testing.

If teachers don’t impact standardized test scores very much, what do they impact? Lives, motivation, understanding of content and concepts, non-standardized tests, grades, students’ willingness to learn, creativity, critical thinking, crucial skills for communication in the 21st century, and the ability for children and young people to see themselves as powerful actors in the world around them.

So why would policymakers want to keep high-stakes testing in place – and furthermore – to embed it in the very fabric of the entire education system from Kindergarten through university teacher education? Perhaps pride is getting in the way. It must be terribly difficult to admit that billions of dollars have been given to corporations, millions of children have been retained and put at further risk of dropping out of high school, high school students have been denied diplomas, teachers have been punished, schools have been taken over, others have been closed, communities have been ripped apart, education has narrowed to test preparation, and parents and children have been absolutely tormented because a small group of people insist – against all evidence – that high-stakes testing is valuable.

Please, policymakers, don’t make the mistake of pinning Colleges of Education against the wall with test scores, and release the pressure from K-12 schools so they can implement the learning-focused instructional approaches they have learned in their teacher preparation programs.

Just take a deep breath and whisper “mea culpa” so we can join together as allies in the disaster relief effort.

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