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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Steve Hinnefeld Reviews Hoosier School Heist: Unions Unite NOW

by Doug Martin

Steve Hinnefeld has posted a review of my book Hoosier School Heist on his blog, School Matters.  Please read his review and check out his other pieces, too. 

Here is an excerpt from Steven's review

"Martin has a Ph.D. in literature, has taught in universities and published a book of Walt Whitman criticism. He can turn a phrase, and he can bring out the drama in a right-vs.-wrong narrative. Now working as a behavioral aide at a Vigo County, Ind., public alternative school, he grew up near Terre Haute, which may explain a lot. Maybe it’s the legacy of Eugene V. Debs or the memory of coal-field union wars, but Western Indiana progressives say what they think. Martin’s give-‘em-hell approach reminds me of United Mine Workers members I met while writing about coal strikes 30 years ago."

Oddly, Steve didn't know at the time of his writing that my father was a member of the United Mine Workers of America and participated in the strikes that Steve mentions.  I remember the strikes well.

As labor professor Patrick Hill has been telling audiences across Indiana, it is time all of the unions join together and fight off the billionaires.  So true.  Check out Patrick and  Randy Obenchain's (read his piece here) radio show The Workers' Voice coming every Saturday at 9am to Indiana Talks

Friday, May 30, 2014

As Pearson Tag Teams with Microsoft for Common Core Curriculum in Urban America, Weingarten Attacks Conservatives for Attacking the Common Core

Randi Weingarten has arrived at the most delusional and convoluted logic yet to deflect from her continuing support of CorpEd's centerpiece strategy for more lucrative testing, corporate professional development, and corporate canned curriculum.  

Weingarten has this quote in the New York Times today in a puff piece on Common Core resistance:

“The Tea Party is using the frustration with the implementation as the guise to eliminate standards in schools and to destabilize public education,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest teachers union. Its executive council recently passed a resolution supporting “the promise and potential of the Common Core State Standards.”
Does the AFT legal team think that anyone with a brain could ever believe that Weingarten's embrace of Common Core could do anything but hasten the privatization and corporate takeover of American public schools?  If there was ever a case of the pot calling the kettle black, this is it.

If the Tea Party could, for a moment, put its desire for more charters and vouchers ahead of its hatred of a black president, they would clearly see that Common Core is made to deliver the public dollars for the kinds of corporate welfare they approve of, which, by the way, has never bothered any, otherwise, libertarian, from Milton Friedman forward.  The Tea Partiers want privatization, for sure, but that is not the basis for their opposition to the corporate core standards.  

If Weingarten and AFT misleadership were looking for "the promise and potential of Common Core State [sic] Standards," they have to look no further than systems like Memphis, TN, where this week 13,000 Microsoft Windows tablets have just been issued to over ten percent of Shelby County students.

The new tablets are locked and loaded with Pearson Common Core curriculum materials at a cost of $650,000 per year, as Pearson provides the lessons that were supposed to be the responsibility of teachers to prepare--once the "standards" were in place.  Remember, Randi??

The cost to Shelby County, TN, where hundreds of teachers will lose their jobs this year to TFA temps and other uncertified temps?  Almost $6 million dollars for the hardware and $650,000 each year for the Pearson curriculum.  This comes when  charters have robbed the school system of enough money to result in privatization of services, ongoing firings of employees, and a $24 million deficit.

This is your "promise and potential" that you don't have to wait for, Ms. Weingarten.  

When will you resign and give someone a chance to restore integrity to the AFT leadership?

Doug Martin's Letter to the Anderson Herald Bulletin

(The following is Doug Martin's letter to the editors of the Anderson, Indiana, Herald Bulletin, sent at 7:56 pm, May 30, 2014. If you would like to contact that newspaper, you can at letters@heraldbulletin.com

DOUG MARTIN'S NOTE TO THE EDITORS: "My letter is endorsed by ONLY myself.  It does NOT reflect the views toward your paper of any of the panelists that appeared with me on the Rise Above the Mark event panel, and it does NOT reflect the views toward your paper of any of the makers of the film or the organizers of the event.  In fact, the panelists, makers of the movie, and organizers of the event have NOT seen the letter I submit to your paper.  And I do NOT endorse candidates for political office, since I have problems with both parties, so the views in my letter are solely my own.  Thanks.  Doug Martin)
222 Words
I find it highly depressing and even insulting that your newspaper did not cover May 28’s Rise Above the Mark movie event at Anderson High School in support of public education. 

After the screening, I was a member of the panel which consisted of Dr. Rocky Killion, the supt. of West Lafayette Community Schools, state representative Terri Austin, Daleville teacher Melanie Wright, and educator and radio host Justin Oakley.  

Since the audience included two newspapers from Muncie and one from Indianapolis, the Herald Bulletin’s refusal to cover the event tells me it must not care that Anderson public schools are taking a financial beating because so-called school reform, as I point out in my book HoosierSchool Heist, is a hoax funded by out-of-state billionaires that is meant to wipe out public education entirely and funnel taxpayer money to religious schools and Republican campaign donors and acquaintances who profit from charter schools.  

The Herald Bulletin’s editors should also know that I told those in the audience that night that people must boycott every paper in this state that uses the talking points of the billionaires, is too lazy or clueless to do investigative reporting, and refuses to aggressively support public education. Being a no-show, the Herald Bulletin is guilty of treason against the public.  Therefore, teachers and parents should find their news elsewhere.  

Dr. Doug Martin, Author of Hoosier School Heist

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Teachers File Lawsuit in Memphis to Keep Jobs and Stop TFA Takeover

KIPP Offers Fast Track: Apply Before Midnight, or Whenever

An "invitational" is defined as a competition open only to those invited.  In this odd case below, KIPP, Inc. is exclusively inviting any warm body to apply at their Bay Area franchise, where 40-60 percent of students never make it from 5th to 8th grade and where the average teacher lasts 1-2 years.

If you are looking for a teaching job next year, you may see this on the Web or ads like it:
KIPP Bay Area Schools is hosting an Invitational Interview Day on Monday, June 9th for teaching positions for the 2014-2015 school year!
  • Guaranteed in-person interview; skip three steps in application process
  • Know if you’re hired within 2 business days of interview
  • Travel stipend may be available for national applicants
What is an Invitational Interview Day? Our Invitational Interview Day provides candidates a guaranteed in-person interview and lets them skip several steps of our pre-screening process. During the Invitational Interview Day, candidates will participate in in-person interviews, a sample teach, and have an opportunity to visit and tour the school.
What are the benefits of attending an Invitational Interview Day? First, you’ll get to skip several parts of our normal selection process, including the longer application, online interview, and Sample Teach video. The only step to complete prior to the day is the Resume submission form below. The second benefit is that you’ll know if you’re hired within two business days of the interview day. . . .
Before you send your application and get on the fast track, however, please take the time to read any of these accounts by former KIPP teachers:

Legislators File Open Records Request for Huffman Decision Trail to Delay State Test Results

On the day that TCAP scores were to be released in Tennessee, Kevin Huffman's team of TFA lawyers in Nashville called a quick "put down your pencils" timeout just before reporters were ready to write about this year's state test results.  

In a scurry to make sure that "post-test equating" had been done "properly," local systems were left holding the bag, since TCAP is supposed to figure into student final grades and, of course, teacher evaluations.  

What embarrassment and scandal will be required to finally get rid of the lawyers and corporate bottom feeders mismanaging the State's education system!

From Joey Garrison at the Tennessean:

Tennessee Democrats still want more answers from the state Department of Education on the late release of end-of-year test scores — and they’ve filed an open records request to fill in what they believe are gaps.
In a letter to Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman on Wednesday, Reps. Bo Mitchell, Gloria Johnson and Mike Stewart cited the Tennessee Open Records Act for emails and other documents distributed among the commissioner and other employees on the decision to delay the release of Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program scores.
“We are very concerned about your department’s decision, on the day TCAP test results were expected by school systems, teachers, parents and students throughout the state, to abruptly cancel the long-planned distribution of test score information,” the letter reads. “It seems improbable that your department was simply unaware that such an unprecedented delay would be warranted until the very day that the scores were to be revealed.”
All three of the House Democrats have been outspoken critics of Huffman and education reforms he’s advanced.
The letter outlines the following areas that the department needs to explain: reasons for the delay; the date the department learned it would not be able to release scores timely; the department’s reasons for “not timely informing the public about the delay”; steps taken to ensure that raw testing information would be preserved so that it would be available for review by the public; nature of the “post-equating” process cited as an explanation for the delay; and the legal basis to waive the use of TCAP scores in generating grades.

Democrats are joined by some conservative Republicans in continuing to press Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration on the last-minute delay of TCAP scores that left local districts scrambling. Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, called for the resignation of Huffman earlier this week. . . .

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou Reads "I Rise"

Nevada Dad Asked to Pay $10,194 to See Common Core Data on His Children

Bill Gates is a master at using his calculated generosity to make the world dependent upon the technologies that his drones are engineering and his worker bees are mass producing.  Common Core’s move to online testing and the federal extortion efforts to require massive data collection systems on students and teachers are but two small examples.  

If the oligarchs get their way, by the time your kindergartner gets ready for a career, he will not need a resume—our corporate government will have a full dossier on every child in America that ever went to school, with full profiles on personality, academics, "character," behavior, learning patterns, strengths, and weaknesses.

If Bill Gates decided to give all his money away today, he would have to dish $10 million a day for the next 33 years to accomplish the feat.  Or if he was asked to pay the $10,194 that John Eppolito was asked to pay to see what data is being kept on his children in some corporate cloud in Utah, Gates could earn that pittance in less than 10 minutes, based on nothing but interest that is accumulating on his billions. 

By the way, Bill Gates ranks 37th among nations of the world in total wealth.

Story below the video:

. . . . John Eppolito has four children in the Washoe County School District where a pilot program for Common Core is being tested this school year. "I just want to see any information that the state of Nevada is tracking on my children and any information that could be shared with others," said Eppolito.

The father contacted the Washoe County School District to see this information. The district directed him to the Nevada Department of Education, where he was given a price tag of $10,194.

Public Information Officer Judy Osgood responded to Eppolito’s request via email:

"The Department’s Director of Information Technology, Glenn Myer, has reviewed your request to receive reports of data for each of your four children that is contained in the SLDS. He has estimated that the cost will be approximately $10,194, which represents at least three solid weeks (120 hours) of dedicated staff time (billed at $84.95/hour) to build, test and validate a new application that will be able to display individual student data in a readable format. Payment of this fee must be made in full before work can begin."

Eppolito said he was shocked when he found out how much he needed to pay.

In a statement released to News 4, Osgood says the Department of Education needs a special computer system to accommodate Eppolito’s request:

"The data system is secure and private, but has not been built with an application to create confidential education records for individual students. The system is a warehouse of literally millions of pieces of data, but not the education records of students as that term is defined by law. Mr. Eppolito demanded to know how much it would cost for the Department to build a brand-new search engine to compile individual student records for his children, and that estimate was provided as a courtesy."

Eppolito has not paid the $10,000 bill, and is instead forming the group "Stop Common Core Nevada."

"This data will follow these kids the rest of their lives, so what if the data is not correct," asked Eppolito. "What if it is wrong information?"

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Central Office Administrator Admits: "it is almost impossible to get a charter school like KIPP closed"

Posted at Memphis Schools Matter:

Since I was recently denied visitation to any of the KIPP schools in Memphis, I have considered a number of strategies that may help get me access.  Today I talked with a very nice individual at Central Offices of Shelby County Schools (SCS).  I explained that I had been denied the opportunity to visit any of the KIPP campuses for observation purposes and that no reason was given for that denial.

The person I talked with told me that KIPP has its own board and makes its own rules and that SCS has no control over charter schools unless there is a test performance issue.

When I shared that KIPP's state test scores are worse than the six Memphis schools that are slated for closure this year (ostensibly based on low test scores), the SCS administrator chuckled and said he was quite aware of KIPP's awful test scores being lower than the public schools to be shuttered.

However, he added, it is almost impossible to get a charter school like KIPP closed, considering the support KIPP has from certain members of the community.

I assume the certain influential community members include Barbara Hyde (the Autozone family), who is Chair of the Memphis KIPP School Board.

I shared with the nice SCS administrator that I have evidence from former teachers that both teachers and children are being mistreated in a cult-like environment at KIPP Memphis and that this could become a liability issue for SCS.  The administrator said she understood, and any such mistreatment might have something to do with the fact that KIPP is not allowing my visit.

The administrator told me that he would be interested in reading more about the mistreatment of teachers and students, even though I should not expect any action to be taken on her part.

I am left quite stunned and contemplating my next course of action.  

Weingarten and Van Roekel Represent the Antithesis of Social Justice Unionism

Bob Peterson has in interesting piece at Common Dreams on the need to move teachers' unions toward social justice principles and practices.  I could not agree more.

However, near the bottom of the piece, Peterson offers this fabrication, or thought disorder, claiming that Weingarten and Van Roekel represent and promote social justice:
Support for these types of move towards social justice unionism appears to be coming from the highest levels at both the NEA and AFT.
At the 2012 NEA Representative Assembly NEA Executive Director John Stocks called on members to become “social justice patriots.”  NEA President Dennis Van Roekel has promoted the Great Public School initiative that encourages unions to move in these progressive directions.

Randi Weingarten has been arrested protesting school closings in Philadelphia, and this past March she spoke at the newly formed Network for Public Education conference in Austin, Texas, during which she announced she would recommend that the AFT no longer accept money from the Gates Foundation.
Here is my brief response posted at Common Dreams:
Dennis van Roekel and Randi Weingarten are the greatest stumbling blocks to the kinds of social justice unionism that your piece would seem to advocate. Both of these misleaders support the central tenets of corporate education deform, including test based teacher evaluations and bonus pay, segregated charters, Common Core, and more intrusive data collection. With leaders like this selling teachers and public education down the river, who needs Bill Gates? Until the members of NEA and AFT dump the six-figure traitors that represent the antithesis of everything that social justice stands for, the national teachers' unions will remain part of the problem.