"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Dirt on Bob Behning’s Reelection Money

by Doug Martin

In my book Hoosier School Heist, I detail the corporate/theocratic billionaires who are out to destroy Indiana public education, and the same people in my book are behind Bob Behning’s reelection campaign. 

In fact, the Hoosiers for Economic Growth PAC, founded by an Amway/Besty Devos/Walmart/Overstock.com/hedge fund front group,  just gave Behning $45,000, two days ago.  Hoosiers for Economic Growth slid him $25,000 at the beginning of this month, too (page 4).  Back in 2013, the super PAC handed Behning $2,000 (page 5). This PAC is where Walmart and DeVos' American Federation for Children unloads its money.

Bush family friend Al Hubbard, emails show, was working with DeVos and Jeb Bush operatives even before Bennett knew the game, and Hubbard also has thrown $5,000 (page to 2) to Behning’s reelection campaign. Hubbard also gave the Hoosiers for Economic Growth PAC $75,000 recently.

The resort mega-millionaire Christel DeHaan, notorious for being the Tony Bennett campaign funder Tony Bennett rigged the charter school grade for, gave $10,000 on April 19, 2014.

Theresa  Rooney, whose father was the father of the Indiana voucher movement, has also tossed Behning $5,000 (page 2).  

David Shane, whose wife Anne was a Lilly and Mind Trust water-carrier, gifted Behning $500 (page 3).  Eli Lilly (known for funding the Mind Trust’s temporary teacher workforce) gave money to Republican Behning in 2013, as well (page 7).

Hedge fund and Bill Gates’ supported Stand for Children (highlighted in Hoosier School Heist) dished out $1,000 to Behning recently (page 4).

In November of last year, the Students First PAC, run by fake liberal darling Michelle Rhee, handed Behning $1,000 (page 9).

Red Apple Development, which is Jeb Bush buddy Jon Hage’s real estate branch of Charter Schools USA, has slid Behning at least $2,000.

I am sure I could trace even more corporate school money to Behning, but I am busy, busy, busy, folks, and don’t have much time to dig. Read my book, please, for the rest of the story.

"Withering test prep regimens" Continue in New York Despite New Law

With absolute fealty to Wall Street and the vulture philanthropists who pay for the Governor's allegiance to New York's 21st Century segregated cultural sterilization testing camps, Cuomo dares not touch the urban sprawl of charter school programs for the poor, which are based, of course, on round the clock test prep.  After all, how else, without test scores, could these dehumanizing hellholes produce the numbers that are used to justify the rampant human rights abuses and behavioral neutering that occur, Orwellian-like, in the name of educational equality.

As a bone thrown to parents fed up with the miseducative and abusive testing practices, Cuomo signed a law earlier this year to limit test prep everywhere except charter schools, even as he and the Legislature doubled down on the rotted Common Core as the next testing delivery system for the predatory test industry led by Pearson.  The question now becomes how do policymakers break the  habit of these hooked users of this new e-cigarette of the toxic testing business.  It will certainly take more than unmonitored statutes of sweet sounding words by New York City's new Chancellor of Schools.

Story in the Times by Al Baker has details of the habit hardest to break.

If You Are Going to KIPP's Free Happy Hour Recruiting Sessions, Read This First

Excerpt of interview with former KIPP teacher:

INT:  Let me ask you this question:  if I were a friend of yours interested in teaching at a KIPP school and I asked you what was it like there, what would you tell me?

R:  I would say honestly, I’ve had that question before.  I would never ever – I told them I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy.  That’s exactly what I say every time--I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  And I have no enemies but I wouldn’t wish it if I had an enemy.  I wouldn’t put anyone through that.  Anyone.   It was probably – you give up your life and not only do you give up your life you’re giving it up for nothing.  It’s not like you’re seeing results.  It’s not like you’re being rewarded appropriately.  I mean there’s no reward for that type of work.  It’s just like you’re being used up and thrown out.  It’s like they’re going to use you up as much as you can take until you realize okay, I’m being used, and then you get out.  My friends quit asking now in [city name deleted], everybody knows what KIPP is like now so I don’t get that question much anymore.  I have a lot of people who would say they would never go to KIPP, never.  I have a lot of friends that went to KIPP and left.

Poetry Month's Last Day Fragment

Poetry Month’s Last Day Fragment

Of days marked by verses sung
across clocks and rulers
songs to celebrate all our gold
variously graded, finely ground
against boot marked hardwood desks
for eons of crumpled yellow tablets
and shavings of graphite hissing
anti-insouciant intensities coded
and set loose on verbal metronomes
calibrated to cross one another
without ever touching, ticks
and tocks bending past to future,
out to in:  

Per tons of crocus blossoms
dried by a million days of salty sun
wet sanding moonlit nights
held in dewdrops magnifying
dark and light within, without.

Defying all catalogs of geometry
devised to encase the dimensions
of experience without boundaries--
that world poems dance round
on fleet-footed fitting words
lifted beyond inner or outer 
encumbrances, imagined or fictitious,
frictionless finally, we hope.


Teachers at International HS at Prospect Heights Refuse to Give NYC ELA Test

From Monty Neill:

 **Media Advisory**
  26 Teachers and Staff of International High School at Prospect
  Heights refuse to give NYC ELA Performance Assessment Test
  WHEN: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 7:45-8:20am,

  WHERE: International High School at Prospect Heights, 883 Classon
  Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225

  WHAT: Teachers will hold a press conference to announce their
  refusal to administer the NYC ELA Performance Assessment. 26
  teachers and staff at Prospect Heights International High School are
  refusing to administer a new assessment that is part of the new
  teacher evaluation system pushed by Bloomberg’s DOE and the UFT last
  spring.  50% of parents have opted their children out of the test.
  The high school serves almost exclusively recently arrived English
  Language Learners.

  WHY: The test was constructed and formatted without any thought for
  the 14% of New York City students for whom English is not their
  first language. The level of English used in the pre-test
  administered in the Fall was so far above the level of our beginner
  ELLs that it provided little to no information about our students’
  language proficiency or the level of their academic skills.

  Furthermore, the test was a traumatic and demoralizing experience
  for students. Many students, after asking for help that teachers
  were not allowed to give, simply put their heads down for the
  duration.  Some students even cried.

  Teachers at Prospect Heights are drawing a line with this test.
    Standardized, high stakes test dominate our schools, distort our
  curriculum and make our students feel like failures.  This test
  serves no purpose for the students,  and ultimately only hurts them.

  26 Teachers have signed a letter to Chancellor Farina declaring that
  they will not give the exam.  The letter expresses gratitude for
  Farina’s immediate turn around of the DOE’s attitude toward
  teachers, and asks that the Chancellor reconsider the use of the NYC
  ELA Performance Assessment with English Language Learners.

  WHO:  Teachers and support staff from the International High School
  at Prospect Heights.

  RSVP: This event is open to press and coverage is welcome.

  The International High School at Prospect Heights is a public high
  school located in Brooklyn, NY. Read their letter to Chancellor
  Farina at www.standupoptout.wordpress.com


Some of the International High Schools in NYC are part of the Performance Standards Consortium and are not required to give the Math Regents exam; instead, students graduate by performance tasks -see http://www.performance assessment.org.

Norm Scott from NY added: MOREista and Change the Staker Jia Lee and 2 teachers from her elementary school also refused to give the tests. The Nation reported about their -->"open letter from a group of “Teachers of Conscience” at the Earth School <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/04/teachers-refuse-to-administer-standardized-tests/>, an elementary school in Manhattan. Accompanied by a philosophical position paper detailing principles of a progressive education <http://teachersofconscience.wordpress.com/position-paper/>, the teachers declared their opposition to English language exams for third-to-eight graders." As did Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/04/teachers-refuse-to-administer-standardized-tests/>

Rosie and Emily Giles are active MOREistas. See video <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1a9Gg37nC3A&feature=share&list=UU9iVb99ewF1omA6LbPUWEOg&index=1> of Rosie at the Change the Stakes rally last week where in an off the cuff interview she elucidates the thinking of more and more teachers. Much of the test flux has come from elementary schools so it is important that this is coming from high school - there is a chain of international schools here in NYC that are linked and at some point this may spread.

The Gates Foundation's Teach Plus once again trying to undermine United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)

"Bill Gates's foundation pays educators to pose alternatives to union orthodoxies regarding seniority and test scores." "Two other Gates-financed groups, Educators for Excellence and Teach Plus, have helped amplify the voices of newer teachers as an alternative to the official views of the unions. Last summer, members of several such groups had a meeting at the foundation’s offices in Washington." — New York Times

Although it's being debated vigorously in United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), let's leave the discussion about UTLA online voting aside momentarily. Let's even ignore the all too transparent reasons why Teach Plus—a member of the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC)—is pushing for it, and is willing to host dinners and drinks at four different restaurants.* Instead, why don't the online voting petition wielding UTLA members ask their Teach Plus "allies" some important questions. Here are a few of my questions for these supposedly unaligned teachers to ask the Teach Plus cadre as conversation starters:

How do you feel about being associated with an organization that was intimately involved with this tragic incident?

Often the decisions about which teachers will stay and which will go are made by new principals who may be very good, but don't know the old staff. "We had several good teachers asked to leave," said Heather Gorman, a fourth-grade teacher who will be staying at Blackstone Elementary here, where 38 of 50 teachers were removed. "Including my sister who's been a special-ed teacher 22 years."

How do you feel about Teach Plus' founder, Celine Coggins', close ties with the fringe-right The Hoover Institution at Stanford University? Coggins is also on the advisory board of the dubious National Council for Teaching Quality (NCTQ) along with folks like Rick Hess, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Eric Hanushek, and Stefanie Sanford. NCTQ is funded in part by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Searle Freedom Trust, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

How do you feel about receiving the majority of your funding from Bill Gates, a plutocrat who also funds the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), The Discovery Institute (which actively advocates teaching creationism), invests in Monsanto, and for-profit prison companies?

How do you feel about your organization receiving large sums from the right-wing NewSchools Venture Fund, led by reactionary Ted Mitchell, whose role in the wholesale privatization of California schools earned him a spot in billionaire Forbes' Top Education "Disruptors" list?

While we can all agree that this language: "Teach Plus, with its teacher members, is focused on developing innovative policy solutions in the following areas: measuring teacher effectiveness; improving performance evaluation systems" is a euphemism for using widely discredited "value added methodologies," what is Teach Plus' current stance on this issue now that the American Statistical Association has just released a very important document on Value Added Methodologies?

That's probably enough questions to get the party started. I hope the free dinners are worth hearing the answers.

* These aren't cheap restaurants either. We held our wedding reception at "El Cholo" Koreatown. It's a nice place by my humble, working class standards.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CorpEd Profiteers and Privatizers on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Over Test Refusal

Washington Post
Malloy: CT could lose money if many students opt out of standardized tests
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday that federal law restricts students from opting out of taking standardized tests, and if the state were to give students ...
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Minneapolis Star Tribune (blog)
Superintendent responds on test opt-outs
Superintendent responds on test opt-outs ... Tribune highlighted a burgeoning opt-outmovement that is exempting students from standardized tests at ...
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Kingston school district says 10.7% of students in grades 3-8 opted out of English Language Arts ...
“If a student did not come to school the day of the test and we did not ... to provide activities for opt-outstudents while the tests are being administered, ...
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Tucson Weekly
Ed Shorts: End Of April Edition
The Weekly tells Tucson's Opt Out story. ... wrote about a few TUSD parents who have struggled to have their children opt out of the AIMS test, a story I ...
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Is it legal? Q&A with parents, education officials on opting kids out of standardizedtests
Q: What happens if a child does not come to school on test day? ... on schools that have a segment of students who opt out of standardized testing?
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SIGN OUR PETITION! - UNITED OPT OUT: The Movement to End Corporate Education Reform
UNITED OPT OUT: The Movement to End Corporate Education Reform. INFO [at] ... High stakes tests hurt kids and teachers. End them now. [signature].
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Test Refusal Update | Stop the Tennessee Testing Madness
1) There is no testing “opt-out” law in Tennessee. (CA is the only state that has such a law.) Opt-out is a legal phrase and districts and the TN ...
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Comment on Superintendent responds on test opt-outs - Wopular
One test proctor who asked not to be named tells ... give them answers. ... She defends testing but acknowledges right of parents to opt out their ...
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