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Archive for the ‘teacher education resources’ Category

Teachers and Public Education are Not the Problem – They are the Solution

In democracy, Education Policy, teacher education resources on September 25, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Great piece from PAGE…

By Jim Arnold, Superintendent, Pelham City Schools
Drug abuse education, alcohol abuse education, parenting, character ed, special ed, gender equity, environmental ed, women’s studies, African-American education, school breakfast, school lunch, daily attendance, computer education, multi-cultural ed, ESL (ELL, ESOL), teen pregnancy, Jump Start, Even Start, Head Start, Prime Start, Bright from the Start, Kindergarten, Pre-K, alternative ed, stranger/danger, anti-smoking ed, mandated reporting, CPR training, defibrillator training, anaphylactic shock recognition training, inclusion, internet ed, distance learning, Tech Prep, School to Work, Gifted and Talented, at-risk programs, keyboarding, dropout prevention, gang education, homeless ed, service learning, gun safety, bus safety, bicycle safety, drivers ed, bullying ed, obesity monitoring, BMI (body mass index) monitoring, financial literacy, diabetes monitoring, media literacy, hearing and vision screening, on-line education, CRCT, EOCT, GHSWT, GHSGT phase out, SAT prep, ACT prep, dual enrollment options, post -secondary options, AP, honors, IB, STEM, STEAM, adult ed, career ed, after-school programs, psychological services, RTTT, CCGPS, CCRPI and oh yes – classes……………..shall I go on?

Wonderful ideas all, and each deserving attention – and all have come to be the responsibilities of our schools and teachers.

On top of these (and other duties) we add furlough days, tight budgets, longer school days, larger classes, higher expectations, a political agenda that actively encourages blaming teachers for societal issues, the denigration of public education, market based solutions, teacher evaluations tied to student test scores despite all evidence to the contrary and a continued reliance upon standardized test scores as an accurate depiction of student learning and achievement with no substantive research to support such a position. No wonder teachers are discouraged. No wonder teacher morale is at an all- time low. So in the face of all that and more, is there a silver lining somewhere in that big black thundercloud?

 

Not really.

Add to that burden the daily diatribes blaming teachers for their failure to successfully raise and, almost as anin loco parentis afterthought, educate our country’s children and we begin to see the need for something to replace our outdated, shopworn, hideously corrupt, inefficient and failing system of public education. Hold on just a second…can that be right?

 

Is this a new phenomenon? Has public education deteriorated over the past 30 years or so to its current level, where the Mariana Trench seems a high point by comparison? Not by any stretch of a politician’s fertile imagination. In 1996 E. D. Hirsch called for a return to a traditional approach to public education in “The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them.”

In 1983, “A Nation at Risk” told us of the apparent failure of our system of public education. The Educational Testing Service discovered in 1976 that college freshmen could correctly answer only half of 40 or so multiple choice questions. In 1969, the chancellor of New York schools, Harvey Scribner, said that for every student schools educated there was another that was “scarred as a result of his school experience.”

 

Admiral Rickover published “American Education, a National Failure” in 1963, and, in 1959. LIFE magazine published “Crisis in Education” that noted the Russians beat us into space with Sputnik because “the standards of education are shockingly low.”

In 1955, “Why Johnny Can’t Read” became a bestseller, and, in 1942 ,the New York Times noted only 6 percent of college freshmen could name the 13 original colonies and 75 percent did not know who was president during the Civil War.

 

The U.S. Navy in 1940 tested new pilots on their mastery of 4th grade math and found that 60 percent of the high school graduates failed. In 1889, the top 3 percent of U.S .high school students went to college, and 84 percent of all American colleges reported remedial courses in core subjects were required for incoming freshmen. The list continues.

You see the harrowing cry “public education is failing” is not new. Sixty years ago, for the majority of the population in the United States, it was true. The reiteration of that cry in temporal terms does not, however, make it so. “To fall short; to be unsuccessful,” says Webster.

 

If 100 percent success is the only acceptable goal, mea culpa. If progress toward that goal is to be a consideration, then perhaps this data from the U.S. Census Bureau casts a new light upon that supposed “failure.”

While there most certainly are individual schools or systems with serious issues, to proclaim the entire system of public education as failing would seem to make as much sense as trading in your car because a tire went flat. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that a significant portion of our Legislature wants us to believe public education is a massive failure because they have something to gain from doing so.

 

I find it more than a little interesting that many of the same group of Georgia legislators who attempt to add significantly to the burden of public school teachers through legislative micromanagement, unfunded mandates and financial underfunding are also among the most vociferous supporters of the Constitutional amendment on charter schools. It would be easier for me to believe their efforts were altruistically based and less motivated by selfish considerations were their children enrolled in public schools.

 

Politicians have never let the truth stand in the way of getting what they want. The Legislature’s insistence on accountability for everyone except themselves would be laughable if the consequences were not so severe for students, teachers and schools working diligently every day to overcome the effects of poverty. They have proposed, through the constitutional amendment, a process that would dismantle the system that offers hope for many in the name of using public money to pay for the education of the privileged few as if public schools and students were only there to allow someone the opportunity to make a gigantic profit. The abandonment of public education will only serve to keep those dependent upon public education as a traditional lifeline as uneducated as possible for as long as possible.

See how well “market based” strategies have worked for schools in Florida. (Here is one exampleHere is a list of many more.)

 

Once again, teachers and public education are not the problem, they are the solution. Sooner or later even legislators must see it’s not about race, it’s about poverty; it’s not about a test score, it’s about student achievement; it’s not about a standardized curriculum, it’s about good teaching; it’s not about the business model, it’s about personalization; it’s not about competition, it’s about cooperation. Vote smart – vote “NO “on Nov. 6.
 

 

Underprivileged children, adopted puppies, and self-satisfied do-gooders

In anti-bias teaching, class-sensitive teaching, Education Policy, satire as critical literacy, teacher education resources on September 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Okay, I love The Onion which is satire at its best and “not intended for readers under the age of 18,” but of course I don’t even know how to rate my own blog posts  and sometimes cringe at some of my own content when I receive comments that seem to be from younger adolescents who are searching for answers to their school problems and find my blog helpful. So who am I to judge such slippery notions as age-appropriateness or – even worse in schools – “levels” of reading?

Enough of that, I don’t know how I missed this satirical reporting of young privileged college-educated people sacrificing themselves in service of “underprivileged” children as their volunteer (or, even paid) teachers: My Year of Volunteering as a Teacher

Common Core for Teacher Education – Go Control Someone Else

In corporations, discourse, professional development resources, teacher education, teacher education resources, Teaching Work on September 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm

The writing has been on the wall for a long time. Policymakers don’t want teachers to think for themselves, to engage students in critical inquiry, to challenge systems of exclusion and privilege, and they definitely don’t want teachers to “wake up” and see how much power they have as a collective force. Controlling teachers in their schools and classrooms is one way to control knowledge, information, and the despicable “outcomes” of our education system. Tying teachers to monotonous tasks, evaluating them based on stupid standardized tests (that are only in place to make publisher friends billions), and keeping them so worried about their individual jobs and livelihood that they can’t possibly have the time or energy to come around a table and share horror stories are all strategies that have been used by politicians and education “CEO”s to ram through their for-profit, pro-corporate agendas.

But the writing I’m talking about is the writing on university walls. The writing that told us we would be held accountable for third graders’ test scores if our graduates taught those third graders, the writing that told us we too would be rated on a Pass-Fall scale based on narrow and submissive standards, the writing that told us that our curriculum would soon be under attack – no more teaching “theory” (God Forbid! Don’t let teachers have access to anything that will make them think more deeply than a state mandated standard!), no more teaching “critical thinking” “multicultural education” “diversity” “social justice” – all that stuff would be perceived as getting in the way of preparing teachers to teach.

And now it’s here. Teacher Education programs are on the track to being regulated by the new Bully on the Block – and of course that bully is anti-union, anti-local control, and as far as I can tell anti-teacher and anti-teacher preparation in universities. Why would an organization about teacher preparation be anti-everything that improves education? Because if they can prove that teacher preparation is “failing” the floodgates for massive for-profit teacher education “charters” will be opened. The same thing happened, and is continuing to happen in K-12. Shift everything from “public” spheres into “private” spheres where more corporations that know nothing about education and pedagogy can slip their greedy little fingers into the cracks and pull them apart to reveal the massive opportunities for money-making.

My response? Go Control Someone Else (maybe your money-grubbing corporate friends), and Keep Your Hands Out of My Mind. You can’t control thought, you can’t control what is taught and learned, you can’t control human beings the way you are trying to. If you keep trying, the efforts will implode, people will wake up and realize that they have been duped and you’ll have a massive problem on your slimy little hands.

The State of Florida has apparently decided that Common Core will be embedded in their entire state’s teacher preparation program. I’m sure there’s push-back from professors and instructors, so I’ll be searching for those to see what’s up. But for the time being I have to mark that state off possible future job opportunities.

Reposted from Susan Ohanian’s website:

FLORIDA COLLEGE SYSTEM TEACHER EDUCATOR PROGRAMS 1ST IN NATION TO IMPLEMENT COMMON CORE TEACHER TRAINING
No comment. What can one say? Florida Teacher Ed people will now train teachers to be sheep.

This is just stunning. Nor surprising but stunning.

I would point out that Chancellor Hanna began his legal career as a law clerk at Bryant Miller Olive in 1982 and served as Managing Shareholder of the firm for 14 years. He is also Chairman of the Chamber of the Tallahassee Area Chamber of Commerce.

But that doesn’t explain why educators feel the need to act like lawyers.

Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Aug. 2 — The Florida Department of Education issued the following news release:

The Florida College System Teacher Educator Programs are the first in the nation to voluntarily commit to a system-wide implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The new standards will be embedded in the teacher preparation program curriculum throughout the college system so new teachers who enter the classroom will be ready for the more rigorous standards.

“This is an exciting time for Florida — both K-12 and postsecondary — where major reform on both sides is helping students get ready for success,” said Florida College System Chancellor Randy Hanna. “Our system is embracing the new Common Core State Standards and the teachers we are producing will be ready to teach them.”

“The Common Core standards are designed to ensure that all students — not just in Florida but across the nation — are prepared for success in postsecondary education and the workforce,” said Joe Pickens, President of St. Johns River State College and Chair of the Florida College System Council of Presidents. “We’re proud of the fact that Florida is getting out ahead in training our teachers in the standards that ensure students are receiving a high quality education that is consistent from school to school and from state to state.”

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states and 3 territories and outline the English/Language Arts and mathematics knowledge and skills for elementary and secondary instruction. The standards are benchmarked to international standards and establish clear, consistent goals for learning in order to prepare students for college and careers. In addition to training new teachers, the Florida College System is uniquely positioned to offer essential Common Core training to current teachers.

“I applaud the Florida College System for taking the bold step of infusing the Common Core State Standards into their educator preparation programs,” said Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson. “The next generation of educators needs to be ready to teach at an even higher level to effectively prepare their students for career and postsecondary success.”

Faculty members will have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Common Core State Standards through lesson demonstrations and implementation planning sessions at specialized training this fall dedicated to higher education faculty. The Florida College System will also make its “Common Core Training Institute” curriculum available to other states interested in following Florida’s lead.

— Florida Department of Education
Press Release
August 02, 2012
http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P3-2728042191.html

Title IX is 40 years old…when and how do we teach about that in schools?

In anti-bias teaching, democracy, Education Policy, feminist work, gender and education, NCLB, social policy, Standing up for Kids, teacher education, teacher education resources, Uncategorized on June 23, 2012 at 8:22 pm

(Image from the Sports and Entertainment Law Blog)

Have we come a long way baby? Given the fact that Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown, was banned this week from speaking on the House floor because she said “vagina” during her compelling argument against restricting women’s reproductive rights – I think we’ve fallen a long way back in time, way before the 70’s when radical policy changes were made to improve the lives of girls and women in the United States.

One of those radical policy changes occurred forty years ago when Title IX was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Nixon, and has faced many legal challenges over the years. Most people familiar with the phrase “Title IX” would immediately connect the law to girls’ and young women’s rights to play sports in any school receiving federal funding, but sports weren’t even mentioned in the legislation. The legislation prohibits sex discrimination in “all” of an institutions programs and activities, including sports, but extending well beyond sports. In fact, even sexual harassment of students is prohibited under Title IX, and if sex “bias” includes the way we teach and what we teach, I’m surprised that we haven’t heard about anyone using Title IX as a reason to include pro-women curriculum in schools at any level.

But a pro-women approach to education seems nearly impossible given the current war against women being waged in the U.S. (Even if it’s not just against women, but the pursuit of social control writ large). The attack on women and the persistent questioning of any attention to girls and women in education was gaining steam in 2001, just as the No Child Left Behind Act was being written and enacted. For example, The Heritage Foundation (formed in 1973, just one year after Title IX…coincidence?) describes itself as:

“Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

And within its “think tank” The Heritage Foundation determined that the Women’s Educational Equity Act was a “waste of money,” an opinion argued in this article, apparently written by a woman but written against girls and women. This article, like many others hitting newspapers and journals throughout the 2000s, highlights girls’ academic achievements in test scores relative to boys’ test scores. The article, of course, doesn’t mention that most girls and women still don’t know their basic rights, don’t know about the history of women’s rights in the U.S. or across the world, can’t recall any woman who is serving in a leadership role in the U.S. government, and have no idea that even in 2012 women still only make .77 for every one dollar earned by a man in the same job. A lot of folks may not even know that the “Paycheck Fairness Act” was voted on in 2012 and defeated. This Act would have made it easier for women to determine whether they were being paid fairly as compared to their counterparts who are men, but that right has been denied.

So where is Title IX in education? I can’t say I have ever heard about or observed any classroom at any level discussing the significance of this legislation in the daily lives and education of girls and women, and I definitely haven’t heard about or observed anyone teaching about women from an anti-discrimination perspective that would reflect the goals of Title IX. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the sex discrimination of our K-12 curriculum, and there are plenty of materials out there to help us all get started, including lots of links in the text above.

Do you teach high school? Check out this syllabus for teaching women’s rights. And NCSS standards are already included.

Don’t teach high school? Well, look over the syllabus to check your own knowledge about women’s fight for basic rights and adapt the material and activities to align with the age of your students.

And be sure to include current events in your teaching. Lucky us, the news is saturated with evidence that there is indeed a war against women being waged, and we get to teach it all, including the awesome performance of the Vagina Monologues in Lansing, Michigan on the Capitol steps , and the op-ed written by Representative Lisa Brown – two big news events this week alone.

We’ve gone a long way back in time baby – but it looks like women just might be waking up and deciding that the battles won in the 1970s, including Title IX among others eroding away, don’t guarantee anything when 40 years have passed.

**Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled has a good overview of Title IX and, as you will see, anti-women rhetoric is commonplace in the comments – a testament to today’s sexist climate.

EmpowerEd Georgia is Tracking the Cuts

In democracy, Education Policy, Neoliberalism and Education, politics, Standing up for Kids, teacher education resources, Uncategorized on May 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm

The Teaching Georgia Writing Collective – check it out!

In democracy, discourse, Education Policy, feminist work, Standing up for Kids, teacher education, teacher education resources, Teaching Work, work and workers on April 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm

About the Collective: The Teaching Georgia Writing Collective is a group of educators, parents, and concerned citizens who engage in public writing and public teaching about education in Georgia. Some goals of the collective include: 1) empowering educators to reclaim their workplace and professionalism, 2) empowering families to stand up for their children and shape the institutions their children attend each day, 3) empowering children and youth to have control over their education, and 4) enhancing the education of all Georgians.

 Members of the collective do not have to disclose their participation in any way. However, each collective member can decide when and where she or he informs others that she or he is a member. It is important that all members of the collective respect the right of others to remain anonymous in the collective writing process.

Contact the collective: teachinggeorgia@gmail.com

 

 

National Testing Resolution – sign your school or organization up now!

In democracy, Education Policy, high-stakes tests, NCLB, teacher education, teacher education resources on April 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm
From Bridging Differences:
Posted: 24 Apr 2012 06:50 AM PDT
Dear Deborah,
The backlash against high-stakes standardized testing is growing into a genuine nationwide revolt. Nearly 400 school districts in Texas have passed a resolution opposing high-stakes testing, and the number increases every week. Nearly a third of the principals in New York state (some at risk of losing their jobs) have signed a petition against the state’s new and untried, high-stakes, test-based evaluation system.
Today, a group of organizations devoted to education, civil rights, and children issued a national resolution against high-stakes testing modeled on the Texas resolution. The National Testing Resolution urges citizens to join the rebellion against the testing that now has a choke-hold on children and their teachers. It calls on governors, legislatures, and state boards of education to re-examine their accountability systems, to reduce their reliance on standardized tests, and to increase their support for students and schools.
The National Testing Resolution calls on the Obama administration and Congress to “reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability, and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators”.
The organizations that have joined to oppose high-stakes testing include the Advancement Project; the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Fairtest; the Forum for Education and Democracy; MecklenburgACTS; the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc.; the National Education Association; the New York Performance Standards Consortium; Parents Across America; Parents United for Responsible Education (Chicago); Time Out from Testing; and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.
I hope that parents and teachers everywhere endorse this important statement of principle and bring it to their local and state leaders for consideration.
By coincidence, standardized testing was exposed to national ridicule this week because of a nonsensical question about a pineapple and a hare on the New York state English language arts test for 8th graders. Complaints about the pineapple story appeared on the New York City parents’ listserv, were reported in the New York Daily News, and then went viral overnight with postings on Facebook and Twitter. The New York City parent blog has a good summary. The Wall Street Journal published a hilarious interview with the real author of the fake testing story. On Twitter, it was referred to as #pineapplegate. The pineapple story was covered by The New York Times and The Washington Post.
But the state’s high-stakes testing examinations are no joke. The principal of a high-performing school wrote a letter to the state commissioner complaining about the quality of the questions in every grade. Teachers of the deaf said their students were asked to answer questions about sounds “such as the clickety-clack of a woman’s high heels and the rustle of wind blowing on leaves.”
There is madness in tying teachers’ careers and reputations to their students’ scores on such low-quality and incoherent examinations. Our policymakers have chosen to ignore the research warning that value-added assessment is inherently fraught with error, instability, and unreliability. Children are not wheat, their growth is not utterly predictable, and the standardized tests capture only a subset of what matters most in education.
But, Deborah, as the National Testing Resolution explains, there is a far larger question at issue here than the accuracy of the test questions. Even if the tests contained no absurd questions; even if the tests were flawless, the misuse of test scores is an affront to educators and to students. There may be diagnostic value in standardized tests, but they are now being treated as scientific instruments. What Pineapplegate demonstrates is that they are not scientific instruments. They are cultural artifacts, social constructions, created by fallible people. They should be used appropriately to provide useful information to teachers, not to punish or reward them.
At present, the standardized tests are used inappropriately. There should be no stakes attached to them. Decisions about teacher evaluation should not be tied to student scores. Decisions about bonuses should not be tied to student scores. Decisions about closing schools should not be tied to student scores. Decisions about retaining students should not be tied to student scores. All of these are weighty decisions that should be made by experienced professionals, taking into consideration a variety of factors specific to the child, the teacher, and the school.
Tests are a tool, not a goal. We should use them as needed, not let them use us. Their misuse has turned them into a weapon to narrow the curriculum, incentivize cheating, promote gaming the system, and control teachers. The more we rely on high-stakes standardized tests, the more we destroy students’ creativity, ingenuity, and willingness to think differently, and the more we demoralize teachers. The important decisions that each of us will face in our lives cannot be narrowed to one of four bubbles. We must prepare students to live in the world, not to comply on command.
The National Testing Resolution calls on all those who are concerned about the future of our society and the well-being of children to stop this mad obsession with test scores.
I hope the revolt grows until it consumes the terrible cult of measurement that has now so distorted the means and ends of education.
Diane

– Diane Ravitch

Teacher Morale is Low? How Could That Be?

In Education Policy, feminist work, high-stakes tests, Neoliberalism and Education, professional development resources, teacher education, teacher education resources on March 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Of course teacher morale is lower than it has been in two decades – no surprise there.

Maybe this recent study will provide lots of educators to jump up, yell, scream, write, speak out, organize, and figure out a way to be powerful once again!

A HUGE kudos goes out to Anabel Fender – one of my former students who wrote about her experiences during an independent study we had together last fall – now she has an editorial on the AJC blog Get Schooled (Maureen Downey) and it’s comin’ out in print too!

For your reading pleasure:

Future teachers – failures before we even start

4:37 am March 7, 2012, by Maureen Downey

Are new teachers undermined before they even step into the classroom? (AP Images)

Are new teachers undermined before they even step into the classroom? (AP Images)

Anabel Fender is a graduate student in education at the University of Georgia. This is her first essay on the Get Schooled blog.

I think it is terrific and an ideal follow-up to the survey results I posted earlier today. Read them both and you will get a sense of what teachers are experiencing right now.

By Anabel Fender

I am an idealist. A dreamer.

An…Oh-My-Goodness-Scared-To-Death-Future Teacher.

And I am made out to be a failure before I even start.

I am battered and bruised from the war against teachers and I haven’t even started teaching yet.

Scripted curricula tell me that the “higher ups” have no faith in my words. My Words! An integral part of what makes me a teacher is not trusted, so I will be given a script telling me exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. In what other profession do we not trust the words of the professional? Before I start, they make me question my words.

Merit pay initiatives imply that the teachers of America are not working as hard as they can already. In theory this initiative reflects the business world, but in the business world workers design their own goods and services. Teachers no longer have the freedom to design their goods and services – those are ready-made and required from above. It makes more sense to hold those creating the standards, curriculum guides, and scripted curriculum accountable for test scores – they are the ones making the “goods” and “services.” Before I start, they make me question my power.

In an effort to “improve” the teacher with scripted curriculum and merit pay, governors, federal government, and educational “reformers” favor alternative routes to certify teachers. Colleges of education are accused of using students as cash cows for funding research. Flyers for Teach for America hang on bulletin boards in the same universities. I am completely invested and have worked hard for my undergraduate and graduate degrees in education. I have made personal and financial sacrifices for a profession that will not give me great returns monetarily.

And policy makers have the audacity to think that a 22-year old business major spending six weeks of summer training to be a teacher is better equipped for teaching than I am. They help pay her loans, find a job, and offer funding for further education. But me? I graduate with education degrees when no one is hiring, teachers have no job security, and my student loans equal a teacher’s annual salary. Before I start, everyone is questioning my capabilities.

Teachers want what is best for students, but the current war against teachers is enough to wear anyone down. Teachers are constantly being told they are not good enough and then considered a threat when they speak out against injustices in schools.

Teachers’ tenure has been all but eliminated, furlough days are required, salaries are stagnant, and policies are written to fire teachers for being tardy but not to compensate them for their long evening and weekend hours. And since Georgia is a right-to-work state with no union to protect its teachers, teachers do what they must to keep their jobs. Teachers are afraid to speak out as intellectuals. Before I start I am questioning whether I am “allowed” to be an intellectual as a teacher.

I am battered and bruised but I am not going to question my words, my power, and my ability to be an intellectual. I will not let others define me, but I need teacher allies – former, current, and future teachers who will stand up with me and for me against this war on teachers. This is not about competition or jobs or our future. This is about improving our quality of life in schools so we can make schools powerful places for idealists to make their dreams a reality.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

 

FABULOUS speech by Linda Darling-Hammond!

In democracy, Education Policy, high-stakes tests, NCLB, politics, poverty, prison, social action, social policy, teacher education resources on August 4, 2011 at 2:35 am

Thanks to JB for sending this via email…

From the Washington Post:

Posted at 07:30 PM ET, 08/01/2011

Darling-Hammond: The mess we are in

Stanford University Education Professor Linda Darling-Hammond helped Barack Obama draft his educational plan when he was a presidential candidate, and advised him on education issues during the transition between Obama’s 2008 election and 2009 inauguration. Since then, she has opposed the standardized test-based school reform policies of the Obama administration. Her speech at last Saturday’s Save Our Schools March in Washington D.C. explains the extent of the trouble public education is in. Here it is.

Darling-Hammond directs the Stanford University Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and was founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. A former president of the American Educational Research Association, Darling-Hammond focuses her research, teaching, and policy work on issues of school restructuring, teacher quality and educational equity.

Darling-Hammond’s speech:

Many people are asking: Why are we here? We are here because we are committed to a strong public education system that works for ALL our children. We are here because we want to prepare children for the 21st century world they are entering, not for an endless series of multiple-choice tests that increasingly deflect us from our mission to teach them well. We are here to protest the policies that produce the increasingly segregated and underfunded schools so many of our children attend, and we are here to represent the parents, educators and community members who fight for educational opportunity for them against the odds every day.

We are here to say it is not acceptable for the wealthiest country in the world to be cutting millions of dollars from schools serving our neediest students; to be cutting teachers by the tens of thousands, to be eliminating art, music, PE, counselors, nurses, librarians, and libraries (where they weren’t already gone, as in California); to be increasing class sizes to 40 or 50 in Los Angeles and Detroit.

It is not acceptable to have schools in our cities and poor rural districts staffed by a revolving door of beginning and often untrained teachers, many of whom see this as charity work they do on the way to a real job. And it is not acceptable that the major emphasis of educational reform is on bubbling in Scantron test booklets, the results of which will be used to rank and sort schools and teachers, so that those at the bottom can be fired or closed – not so that we will invest the resources needed actually to provide good education in these schools.

We are here to challenge the aggressive neglect of our children. With 1 out of 4 living in poverty — far more than any other industrialized country (nearly double what it was 30 years ago); a more tattered safety net – more who are homeless, without health care, and without food security; a more segregated and inequitable system of public education, in which the top schools spend 10 times more than the lowest spending; we nonetheless have a defense budget larger than that of the next 20 countries combined and greater disparities in wealth than any other leading country.

We have produced a larger and more costly prison system than any country in the world — we have 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its inmates — populated primarily by high school dropouts on whom we would not spend $10,000 a year when they were in school, but we will spend more than $40,000 a year when they are in prison – a prison system that is now directly devouring the money we should be spending on education.

But our leaders do not talk about these things. They say there is no money for schools – and of poor children, they say: “Let them eat tests.”

And while many politicians talk of international test score comparisons, they rarely talk about what high-performing countries like Finland, Singapore, and Canada actually do: They ensure that all children have housing, health care, and food security. They fund their schools equitably. They invest in the highest-quality preparation, mentoring and professional development for teachers and school leaders, completely at government expense. They organize their curriculum around problem-solving and critical thinking skills. And they test students rarely (in Finland, not at all) – and almost never with multiple-choice tests.

Many of the top-performing nations rely increasingly on assessments that include research projects, scientific investigation, and other intellectually challenging work – developed and scored by teachers – just as progressive educators here have been urging for years.

None of these countries uses test scores to rank and sort teachers – indeed the Singaporean minister of education made a point of noting at the recent international summit on teaching that they believe such a practice would be counterproductive – and none of them rank and punish schools – indeed several countries forbid this practice. They invest in their people and build schools’ capacity to educate all their students.

Meanwhile, our leaders advocate for teachers with little training – who will come and go quickly, without costing much money, without vesting in the pension system, and without raising questions about an increasingly prescriptive system of testing and teaching that lines the pockets of private entrepreneurs (who provide teacher-proofed materials deemed necessary because there are so many underprepared novices who leave before they learn to teach).

Our leaders seek to solve the problem of the poor by blaming the teachers and schools that seek to serve them, calling the deepeninglevels of poverty an ‘excuse,’ rewarding schools that keep out and push out the highest need students, and threatening those who work with new immigrant students still learning English and the growing number of those who are homeless, without health care and without food. Are there lower scores in under-resourced schools with high-need students? Fire the teachers and the principals. Close the schools. Don’t look for supports for their families and communities, equitable funding for their schools, or investments in professional learning. Don’t worry about the fact that the next schools are – as researchers have documented — likely to do no better. If the banks are failing, we should fire the tellers. [And whatever you do, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.]

But public education has a secret weapon: the members of communities and the profession like yourselves who are committed first and foremost to our children and who have the courage to speak out against injustice.

This takes considerable courage – of the kind that has caused each of you to be here today. Remember, as Robert F. Kennedy said:

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”

Thank you for each ripple of hope you create – for each and every time you do what is right for children. Thank you for your courage and your commitment. It is that courage and commitment that will, ultimately, bring our country to its senses and save our schools. Keep your hand on the plow. Hold on!

When Cheating Might Be the Right Thing to Do

In Education Policy, high-stakes tests, NCLB, politics, teacher education resources on August 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Thanks to Susan Ohanian for posting this – confessions from a cheating teacher.

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