Tuesday, December 1, 2020
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Tag: education policy

Dear Mr. President,

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I am a teacher.  You know, one of those about whom you and your Secretary of Education say are so important to our young people.  If only I - and thousands, perhaps millions of other teachers - could believe those words.  

There are things your administration has done that we respect, at least most of us.  The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act meant large numbers of teachers and other public employees did not lose their jobs.  Under ARRA, for the first time ever the Federal government for two years just about met its commitment to provide 40% of the average additional costs imposed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  There was also the $10 billion in funds to support local government employment that also save some jobs.    We acknowledge these things.

If only the policies your administration advocates were similarly supportive of teachers and what we see as the best interest of our students.

There are words -  Secretary Duncan saying to Roland Martin of NBC

The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.
and the Secretary and you approving of the firing of all the teachers at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. Things like these do not give us confidence that your administration has the best interest of students at heart, and give us great pause in thinking that you really care about teachers.

Would these were our only concerns.

The United Gates of America

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originally posted at Daily Kos

The title is not a mistake.  In the New York Times, we finally see coverage of a phenomenon some of us have been writing about for year.  The piece begins by telling about a small committed group of apparently grass roots organized teachers  who testified before the Indiana legislature and wrote an op ed asking to eliminate seniority-based layoff policies.  

They described themselves simply as local teachers who favored school reform - one sympathetic state representative, Mary Ann Sullivan, said, "They seemed like genuine, real people versus the teachers' union lobbyists." They were, but they were also recruits in a national organization, Teach Plus, financed significantly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

To see how pervasive the influence of the money of Bill Gates is, I strongly urge you to read Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy, Bill Gates

And remember this:  

In some cases, Mr. Gates is creating entirely new advocacy groups. The foundation is also paying Harvard-trained data specialists to work inside school districts, not only to crunch numbers but also to change practices. It is bankrolling many of the Washington analysts who interpret education issues for journalists and giving grants to some media organizations.

I am a proud union teacher

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edusolidarityIMAGE

I stand with my unionized sisters and brothers, especially in Wisconsin, but everywhere where teachers and unions are under attack.

I am the lead union representative for more than 100 teachers in my school.

Today, all across the country, teachers are blogging their support for our unionized sisters and brothers in Wisconsin, and you can follow some of the results of that at EDUSolidarity

Today I want to tell you why I am proud to be a union member as well as a teacher.

I teach my students one period a day.  We have 9, since some students take a zero period at 7:15 in the morning to squeeze in an extra course.  Most of my students are sophomores, with at least 6 courses besides mine.  I am only one of those responsible for helping them learn.

The problem with NBC’s Education Nation – where are the voices...

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originally posted at Daily Kos.  Also cross-posted on a number of educational blogs

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 26, NBC will be broadcasting a national "Summit" on education, which it has titled Education Nation.  There will be panel discussions, an exhibit hall, and it will begin with an electronic town hall with Brian Williams, broadcast live at 12 Noon EDT (so much for people on the West Coast who might be attending religious services).  NBC hopes to have several hundred thousand teachers signed up for that town hall.

In theory, one might think what NBC is doing is good -  it is a focus on education as a national priority.  In practice there are some serious concerns which have already been expressed publicly as well as in numerous communications to people responsible for organizing the event.

Perhaps the most significant concern is this -  there are many voices being included, but the voices of parents and teachers are surprisingly not considered a significant part of setting the agenda.  

Please keep reading for more details.

Somebody Explain This to Me

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The title is from George Wood, author of this blog post After telling you about the school he has run for the past 18 years in a rural area of Ohio, and the success they have had in increasing graduation and college going rates, improving student engagement, etc.  he offers the following words:  
But reading the popular press, and listening to the chatter from Washington, I have just found out that we are not part of the movement to 'reform' schools.

You see we did not do all the stuff that the new 'reformers' think is vital to improve our schools.  We did not fire the staff, eliminate tenure, or go to pay based on test scores.  We did not become a charter school.  We did not take away control from a locally elected school board and give it to a mayor.  We did not bring in a bunch of two-year short-term teachers.

Nope, we did not do any of these things.  Because we knew they would not work.

Let me explore his post a bit more, and offer a few additional thoughts of my own.