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

Friday, January 30, 2015

David Rudd Has a Problem That Won't Go Away Until He Does

Governor Haslam's crony, Brad Martin, and the corporate high rollers in Memphis made a mockery of the university search for President last year in order to appoint David Rudd as head of the University of Memphis.  Already ensconced as Provost when the call came, Rudd rushed into the president's office with a bunch of debts to pay off for the plutocratic support that got him his new job.

Rudd pushed forward with corporate consultation from Huron Consulting to put in place strategic budget implementation (SRI), which calls for departments to become entrepreneurial units that spend time dreaming up schemes to pay the rents they will be charged under the new plan.

Rudd farmed out web page redesign, student recruiting, and "rebranding," and he set about to reduce benefits for maintenance workers and temps to save money.  He cut $20 million cut from the University budget, mostly through personnel cuts, and he pursued the corporate plan for manufacturing a sense of financial crisis, with an accompanying austerity plan and corporate contracting.

To prove to Hyde, Gates, and the Walton clan that he could deliver on introducing private contracting of instructional programs, he huddled with corporate foundations and a corporate teacher prep program with no university connection to cut a deal that would send $5 million per year from University of Memphis accounts to the corporate welfare profiteers of the Relay Graduate School of Education.  Now that's strategic!!

The plan was hatched with no input from the College of Education at U of M, and no input from the other departments, all of which stand to lose students to the corporate Relay program if it goes forward.

Rudd's rationale?  Simple, and simply stupid.  Rudd argues that the University of Memphis sent only 19 students into Memphis's poorest schools last year, and the University should be sending more.

There are a couple of problems with this argument.  First, we must wonder how the President of U of M not only came to define the goals for the College of Education, and but how Rudd decided to create a plan to ostensibly reach that goal with no input from the College.

Which brings us to the second problem with Rudd's argument.  The poorest schools of Memphis have been losing certified teachers to Teach for America, which now has over 400 teachers in the poorest Memphis schools, with plans to have 550 by the fall of 2015.

Certified, professional career teachers are not interested in the poorest schools of Memphis because they have seen the writing on the wall that is spelled ASD and IZone.  The lowest scoring and poverty-ridden public schools of Memphis are scheduled to be swallowed up by the Achievement School District (ASD), which will hand them over to corporate charter operators, or they will be turned over Shelby County's Innovation Zone (IZone).

In either case, all teachers in these turnover schools to ASD or IZone will be fired and must reapply for jobs in the new "no excuses" hell schools that replace the community schools.  Professional teachers most dedicated to social justice are not interested in becoming prison guards.  It is only the naive undergrads who can be hoodwinked into these new hell schools.  This is the group that Rudd hopes to prey upon with his career-advancing corporate scheme.

Which brings us to the third problem with Rudd's loser rationale:  Relay was created to manufacture teachers for charter schools, and that remains its mission.  Relay uses brutal and discredited pedagogical techniques to create total compliance chain gangs that no middle class parent would ever allow for their own children.  This is Rudd's choice for what he calls "urban specific" teacher preparation for the poor kids in Memphis.

Will the students, faculty, and alumni of a great university allow this kind of corporate cram down by a self-serving fool who would trade the reputation of the University of Memphis for a chance to move up the corporate food chain?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Teachers: Let Your Conscience Direct Your Actions

Someone Tell Pam Stewart to Go to Hell

From News13 in Orlando:
A letter from the State of Florida’s education commissioner tells lawmakers that students cannot legally opt out of the state’s standardized tests.

The “Opt Out” movement in Florida is at the center of the controversial topic.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart wrote a letter to Florida senators advising them, that teachers and school districts could be in trouble if they let students or parents opt out of state testing.

But supporters of the “Opt Out” movement said once students break the seal on the test, they can refuse to take it, without any penalties.

“Why? Because the test is actually not a valid measure of what the kids need to know in order to be promoted," said parent Sandy Stenoff. "The teachers are much better at assessing where the students should be and what they need to know."

“What I want people to understand is that they do have the right to refuse to take these tests," said Cindy Hamilton with Opt Out Orlando. "Second language learners and kids who struggle in school, they need to know what they’re options are.”

Commissioner Stewart also wrote that students who don’t take the test could have their grade point averages lowered and also risk not meeting graduation requirements.

The Commissioner ended her letter by saying statewide testing helps Florida determine whether students have the knowledge and skills they need to be ready for careers and college-level course work.

Send More Fan Mail to Arne on His Teacher Prep Plans

The oligarchs and the education industry are pushing for teacher education to be turned into paternalistic test prep, and it will happen unless those who came up with this ill-advised plan know that to do so will be too dangerous or too expensive, or both.  

Help them to understand that by writing your own letter to let them know what will happen if reason (see the letter below) is not heeded.  Or add your name to the letter below here.

Plan B: 
  • Computer breakdown and dumping of data
  • Imaginary data reported
  • Refusal of the mandated curriculum
  • Refusal of the tests
  • Undercutting official authority
  • Instructing students on how to to sabotage the system
  • Ignoring instructions and teaching what needs to be taught
  • Organizing local, state, and national strikes
  • Taking over buildings
  • work slowdowns
  • Offering real teacher preparation courses off campus
  • political action
  • public shaming of officials
  • Malicious rumors circulated
Here is the letter that needs to be heeded to avoid Plan B, as posted by Valerie Strauss:
Open Letter to the Department of Education in Response to the Proposed Teacher Preparation Regulations under Title II of the Higher Education Act

Dear Secretary of Education Duncan and Department of Education Colleagues:

As university teacher educators (including faculty, researchers, and administrators), we strongly urge you to withdraw the proposed 2015 teacher preparation regulations. The proposed regulations do not reflect current research or up-to-date knowledge of teacher preparation, teacher and student assessment, or the purposes of education.

As elaborated in a comprehensive review of the proposed regulations, published by the National Education Policy Center and authored by Kevin Kumashiro, Dean of the School of Education of the University of San Francisco, there are five central flaws in the proposed regulations that should be addressed before their implementation:

• The regulations erroneously place unfounded blame on individual teachers for the perceived failure of the educational system in the United States. This analysis ignores important and well-documented factors that influence student success, such as the impact of poverty, the levels of trauma experienced by youth in urban areas, and accessibility of social services such as health care.

• The regulations include an over-reliance on value-added measures (VAMs), which purportedly identify a causal relationship between student achievement, as measured by high-stakes test scores, and teacher competency. This is a highly controversial form of measurement that several leading research organizations have declared invalid and unreliable. The proposed regulations extend this relationship further to link teacher preparation programs to student achievement; because teacher education programs will be judged by the scores of the students in their graduate’s classrooms, programs may be reluctant to place their graduates in the most difficult and highest poverty classrooms where standardized test scores are more likely to be low.

• The proposed regulations are an unfunded mandate that places an unreasonable burden on educational institutions, especially public institutions that prepare the majority of the nation’s teachers who serve in high poverty districts. The cost of collecting data on the placement and retention of teachers is substantial, especially when the validity of these data are in question.

• This program threatens funding sources, such as TEACH grants, for prospective teachers. Rather than providing this federal source of funding for teachers with financial need who are committed to teaching in high poverty areas, the legislation will reduce the number of institutions who have access to this grant. A consequence of this policy is likely to be that there is less incentive for new teachers of color to enter the teaching force.

• The regulations further narrow the conceptions of teaching and learning, rewarding teaching that is geared toward preparation for tests rather than toward deep engaged learning and preparation for participation in a democratic society.

We recommend that you develop a process for revising these regulations that substantively includes the educational community in advancing your goal of making teacher preparation programs more accountable for successful preparation of teachers. We suggest you convene classroom teachers and school administrators; academics with expertise in teacher education, teaching, learning and student achievement and assessment; and policymakers to develop accountability measures that more accurately assess program quality and the successful preparation of teachers.

Our country is founded on democratic principles that undergird our educational system and the very innovation we are known for throughout the world. The implementation of these regulations could mean that excellent teacher preparation programs and access to becoming and remaining a P12 teacher, especially among communities of color, is in jeopardy. For these reasons and because of our commitment to the future of our profession and the education and success of all children, we urge you to reconsider and significantly revise this proposed regulation.

As of January 26, 2015, the following California Teacher Educators signed this letter:

Katherine Schultz
Dean, Mills College School of Education

Alfred Richard Schademan, Jr., Associate Professor, California State University, Chico
Amy Millikan, Director of Clinical Education, San Francisco Teacher Residency
Angel Valencia, Lecturer/Supervisor, CSU, East Bay
Ann Berlak, Retired, SFSU
Ann Schulte, Professor, California State University, Chico
Anna Richert, Professor and Faculty Director, Mills Teacher Scholars, Mills College
Annamarie Francois, Executive Director, Center X, University of California, Los Angeles
Annie Adamian, Adjunct Professor, California State University, Chico
Annette M. Daoud, Professor, California State University San Marcos
Antonia Darder, Leavey Presidential Endowed Chair of Ethics & Moral Leadership, Loyola Marymount University
Brian Gibbs, Lecturer, Claremont Graduate University
Christian Faltis, Professor & Director of Teacher Education, University of California
Christine Sleeter, Professor Emerita, California State University Monterey Bay
Christine Yeh, Professor and Chair, University of San Francisco
Christopher Thomas, Associate Dean, University of San Francisco
Cindy Cruz, Assistant Professor, UC Santa Cruz
Cristian Aquino~Sterling, PhD, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University
Danny C. Martinez, Assistant Professor, University of California, Davis
David V. Madrigal, University Field Supervisor, California State University, East Bay
David A. Stevens, Professor and Director of Clinical Experience, Pepperdine University
David R. Stronck, Professor, California State University, East Bay
Denise M. Fleming, Professor, California State University, East Bay
Eduardo F. Lopez, Faculty Advisor, UCLA
Elena Flores, Associate Dean, University of San Francisco
Elizabeth Fsy, Faculty: Liberal Studies and Child Studies, Santa Clara University
Elizabeth K. Baker, Professor of Practice, Director Mathematics and Science, Mills College
Elizabeth C. Reilly, Professor, Loyola Marymount University
Emma Haydée Fuentes, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco
Erica Hodgin, Research Director, Mills College
Franklin C. Pérez, Adjunct Professor, California State University, Fullerton
Gary Orfield, Professor, UCLA
Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales, Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco
Gilda M. Bloom-Leiva, Professor, San Francisco State University
Helen Maniates, Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco
Imelda L. Nava, Education Faculty, UCLA
Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, Visiting Associate Professor, Mills College
Isabel Nunez, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco
Ivannia Soto-Hinman, Associate Professor, Whittier College
J. Cynthia McDermott, Department Chair, Antioch University
Jaime Park, Faculty Advisor, UCLA
Janelle Scott, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley
Janet Irene Hecsh, Administrator in Charge, University Library, California State University, Sacramento
Jennifer Lucko, Associate Professor, Dominican University of California
Jennifer L. Ruef, Doctoral Candidate and Teacher Educator, Stanford University
Jenny Rikkers, MS Placement Coordinator and PT Instructor, California State University, East Bay
Jolynn Asato, Professor, San Jose State University
Joseph Kahne, Professor, Mills College
Karen Cadiero-Kaplan, Professor, San Diego State University
Kathryn Epstein, Professor, Holy Names University
Kelly Caufield Mogilefsky, Lecturer, California State University, East Bay
Kevin Baaske, Professor, California State University Los Angeles
Kevin Kumashiro, Dean, University of San Francisco
Kevin Oh, Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco
Leyla Perez-Gualdron, Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco
Lisa Edsall Giglio University Field Supervisor, California State University East Bay
Magaly Lavadenz, Professor, Loyola Marymount University
Maria Sudduth, Professor Emerita, California State University, Chico
Maren Aukerman, Assistant Professor, Stanford University School of Education
Margarita Berta-Avila, Professor, California State University, Sacramento
Margo Okazawa-Rey, Professor Emertia, San Francisco State University
Mary Howland, Professor, University of San Francisco
Megan Franke, Professor, UCLA
Megan Luce, Researcher, Stanford University
Michael J. Dumas, Assistant Professor, University of California, Berkeley
Miguel G. López, Associate Professor, California State University, Monterey Bay
Miguel Zavala, Assistant Professor, California State University, Fullerton
Minerva S. Chavez, Assistant Professor, California State University, Fullerton
Mónica G García, Assistant Professor, California State University, Northridge
Monisha Bajaj, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco
Nancy Harding, Professor, Pepperdine University
Nick Henning, Assistant Professor, California State University, Fullerton
Nicholas Meier, Adjunct Professor, Brandman University
Nicola McClung, Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco
Pamela Hunt, Professor, San Francisco State University
Pat Stall, Professor, California State University, San Marcos
Patricia Baquedano-Lopez, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley
Patricia Mitchell, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco
Patricia D. Quijada, Associate Professor, University of California, Davis
Paula M. Selvester, Professor and Chair of Senate, California State University, Chico
Peter McLaren, Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies, Chapman University
Rande Webster, Dean, Dominican University of California
Rebecca Akin, Visiting Professor, Mills College
Rebeca Burciaga, Assistant Professor, San José State University
Rebecca Fawns-Justeson, Associate Professor, California State University, Chico
Rebecca L. Loboschefsky, University Supervisor, California State University East Bay
Reynaldo Baca, Professor of Clinical Education, University of Southern California
Richard Kahn, Core Faculty in Education, Antioch University Los Angeles
Richard Stout, Program Coordinator/Instructor, California State University, Chico
Rick Ayers, Asst Professor, Teacher Education, University of San Francisco
Rita Kohli, Assistant Professor, University of California, Riverside
Roberta Ahlquist, Professor, San Jose State University
Rosa M Jimenez, Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco School of Education
Rosemarie Michaels, Assistant Professor and Chair, Dominican University of California
Ruchi Agarwal-Rangnath, Adjunct Professor, San Francisco State University
Sarah Capitelli, Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco
Shabnam Koirala Azad, Associate Dean, University of San Francisco
Sumer Seiki, Visiting Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco
Suresh Appavoo, Associate Professor of Education, Dominican University of California
Susan Roberta Katz, Professor and Chair, University of San Francisco
Susan Sato-Tenorio, University Field Supervisor, UCLA
Suzanne SooHoo, Professor, Chapman University
Suzie Abajian, Assistant Adjunct Professor, Occidental College
Teresa L. McCarty, Professor and GF Kneller Chair, UCLA
Theresa Montano, Professor, CSUN
Thomas M. Philip, Assistant Professor, University of California Los Angeles
Tonikiaa Orange, Instructor, Center X, UCLA
Tracy Lachica Buenavista, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge
Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen, Instructor, University of San Diego
Tyrone Howard, Professor, UCLA
Uma Madhure Jayakumar, Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco
Ursula S. Aldana, Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco
Valerie Ooka Pang, Professor, San Diego State University
William A. Sandoval, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Will Rudd Hold Open Meetings on Corporate Teacher Training Plans at UofM?

On January 14, University of Memphis president, David Rudd, attended a faculty meeting to provide some answers regarding the plan to create a teacher education caste system inside the College of Education.  (See previous stories here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) The plan provides for $5 million per year of public money going to pay corporate know-nothings from Relay Graduate School of Education to provide temp professors and Doug Lemov's "pedagogical content" to train 3 year temps to become total compliance teacher-guards in the corporate charter chain gangs in Memphis.

I was at that meeting when Rudd noticed that the Commercial Appeal's education reporter, Jane Roberts, had entered the room.  He asked her to leave unless someone objected.  When I objected, he called for vote among education faculty to decide if "outsiders" should stay at the meeting.  The vote was conducted by a show of hands with Rudd peering from the front of the room.  The majority of  education faculty voted to have us ejected.

Last week one of the "outsider" professors at that meeting wrote to Rudd, asking if a promised public meeting would be held.  Below is that letter with Rudd's response and another letter responding to Rudd's dissembling.

Will there be a meeting to find out answers to some basic questions, such as
  • Why is a New York corporation being offered $5 million per year in University funds to provide third rate teacher "training" of University of Memphis undergraduates, who have no idea what they are getting into?
  • What are the elements of this bogus teacher education program for Memphis's poor children who are locked down in chain gang charters?
  • Why is a Research 1 public university offering the poorest children of Memphis temporary beginning teachers who are trained in grinding out test scores, when these children need the most experienced, caring, and professionally prepared teachers?  Where is the administrative and moral accountability?
  • Who will the professors be in this program if it materializes, and what kind of educational preparation must they have?
  • Why was this program developed in secret, without input from the public or the faculty of the University of Memphis?
  • Why must University of Memphis departments pay for space, while Relay is offered classrooms without charge?
  • Why does the University of Memphis collect hefty accounting fees for administering federal grants, when millions in private philanthropic money will pass through the university free of such charges?
  • How much of the $5 million (per year) handout to Relay will is go for administrative costs?
  • Why was Relay chosen for this mission to corporatize a public university?
  • What role did Governor Haslam's office play in this initiative?
No doubt there will be other questions.

Inquiry letter from art professor, Cedar Nordbye:
From: Cedar Lorca Nordbye (cnordbye)
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 2:26 PM
To: Michael David Rudd (mdrudd)
Cc: robertsj@commercialappeal.com; Wierdl (mwierdl)
Subject: Open meeting to discuss teachers certification program

Dear President Rudd, 
At the meeting in Ball Hall earlier this month, when, under your supervision, education faculty voted to have a closed meeting and to remove visitors (including faculty from directly impacted departments) you promised to me that we could have another meeting which would be open to the whole community. Would you be willing now to follow up on that and hold such a meeting? Thank you very much, Cedar
Rudd's reply:
On Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 7:44 PM, Michael David Rudd (mdrudd) wrote:
Dear Cedar:

I appreciate the note.  We can certainly hold an open meeting, simply work with Stephanie to coordinate a date/time.  Additionally, I'm more than happy to meet with the Faculty Senate, something I've now offered several times but have yet to hear back. With respect to the COE, a few clarifications are important.  It's not a meeting I was "supervising".  It was a meeting in response to a letter received from ICL faculty,and one coordinated by the Dean.  The meeting addressed COE business, as do all of our college-specific meetings. College and department-specific meetings are not "open".  I've copied our general counsel if you have questions.  It should also be pointed out that I turned the meeting over to the faculty to address their wishes about making it a college-specific meeting.  If you recall, they publicly voted, 42-11 (80%-20%) by my memory, to make it a college-specific meeting.
. . . .I look forward to hearing your thoughts, along with additional faculty interested in participating.  Please coordinate with Stephanie in my office and Jan in our Provost's office to get something set up.

Regards, MDR

Reply to Rudd by math professor, Dr. Wierdl:
From: Wierdl Máté
Date: Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 6:25 AM
Dear David,

My interpretation of the ICL meeting was different. 

You told the COE faculty you want to have an intimate conversation with them, and that's why outsiders like me should leave.  Then you called for an open  vote in this matter. 

If I was given three minutes  to explain why I should be present, then ask  COE faculty to vote secretly, the outcome of the vote could have been very different.

The meeting took place exactly because of the work of the journalist who exposed the secret planning of the relay program, and because I  communicated  the journalist's work to the senate.  And we are the ones who got kicked out.

There are fundamental problems with running the Relay program on campus, and the program has consequences to every department.   What message do you think you sent out when you recommended to kick  out those who could have helped  the COE to form a more educated opinion about the Relay program?

What were the new secrets that needed to be discussed only between COE and

My understanding is that Relay and UofM is about to sign an MOU and Relay will start advertising in classes starting February.  So we have yet another project where faculty is delegated just to stand by without given a role in the decision making. 

The only thing we can do is submit public records' requests to our own university to find out what happened.  Great way to run a public university, David.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Is the issue Feds vs. States?

Lamar Alexander: "Most of the controversy that exists today is the result of Washington getting involved [in state education policy] over the last six or seven years." (http://time.com/3681776/lamar-alexander-no-child-left-behind/)
I disagree. Whether the standards and tests come from the feds or the states, there is still
(1) too much testing;
(2) no evidence that the standards and tests will help students and no effort to find out if they have worked in the past or will help in the future;
(3) no need for the fanatic focus on standards and tests: There is overwhelming evidence that poverty is the problem, not a lack of standards and tests;
(4) far far far too much money going into the tests, money that is badly needed elsewhere.
States that don't do the common core or who have rejected it typically have their own version of testing hell.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rudd's Secret Corporate Giveaway Program at U of Memphis Not So Secret Anymore

Below you will find the individual slides from the secret powerpoint prepared last July in preparation for the publicly funded corporate "teacher" prep progam that David Rudd arranged without any consultation with University of Memphis faculty, either outside or inside the College of Education.  

This program was planned in secret, and it involved handing over teacher preparation for the urban charter system of Memphis to two corporate bodies, the Relay Graduate School of Education and the The New Teacher Project (TNTP). 

The need for corporate "no excuses" teachers in Memphis has been manufactured by the continuing closure or turnover of public schools in Memphis to charter operators chosen by the Achievement School District from the lowest scoring and poorest schools in Shelby County.  

When schools are closed by ASD or turned over by Shelby County to their "Innovation Zone," teachers are fired and must reapply for their jobs.  

Of course, the new corporate operators do not want professionally prepared career teachers but, rather, the inexperienced beginners who have been trained as rigid guards who treat children more like prisoners than pupils.  These beginners will do three years before moving on to become CEOs of their own charter hell schools.

Explanations and comments are included below the slides.

See any discussion or input by the Shelby County Board of Education or by the faculty and staff of U of Memphis?  Didn't think so.  

As a result of annual firing of teachers as ASD claims public schools and new charters open up, "offerees" will have plenty of spots to choose from.  In fact, there will always be a bottom 5 percent of schools to convert.

Wondering who is going to pay the cost of this program?  Hint: it won't be Bill Gates.

That's right: this corporate program will be paid for with public dollars from a cash-strapped public university.

Need some extra funding to put in the pockets of the predators who run this program? Just take it from Title I or II funding.

Notice that administrative costs top instructional costs.

 More managers, analysts, coordinators, and directors than you can imagine.

NJ parents say PARCC stinks like CCRAP!

Which stinks more? Our garbage dumps or the PARCC Test? Credit: NJ Spotlight

Four years ago I attended the very first Parents Across America meeting in New York City where I heard Diane Ravitch, Leonie Haimson, Karran Harper Royal, Andrea Merida, Rita Solnet, Julie Woestehoff, Mark Mishler and several other passionate and dedicated parents from all across the country speak about what was then a young but rapidly growing movement. At the time, Gov. Christie was at the height of teacher bashing, and many educators were wandering around like deer in the headlights. I remember Diane saying that ultimately nothing would change unless and until parents led the charge.

And she was right.

I expected it to happen over night. The destruction of public education was completely obvious not only to me, but rank-and-file education professionals all across the country, not to mention education researchers and scholars. Surely if parents could just see...

Ah, but change doesn't happen in a New York minute even if you live right next door. Steering this suburban ship away from the rhetoric and privatization schemes of education 'reform' required a lot more than teacher voices. 

It required parents to stop, look and listen: 

  • To the absurd claims being made by 'reformers'
  • To the nearly $6 billion in funding cuts that have been made to NJ's public schools
  • To their simultaneously skyrocketing property taxes
  • To the enormous amounts of money their districts have been forced to spend on PARCC testing at the expense of the arts, foreign languages, AP classes and a whole host of clubs and activities
  • To the narrowing of the curriculums
  • To the labeling as 'failures' and the closing of their neighborhood schools without their say
  • To the segregation of their children who may not speak the language or may be more challenging to educate
  • And ultimately to the complaints of their children as they were forced to spend more and more time in school on test prep and less on real learning
It took a few years for this sea change to occur because New Jersey has an abundance of mostly white, high-quality suburban public school districts where Gov. Christie and then Education Commissioner Chris Cerf have a lot of allies who pay a boatload of property taxes for their excellent schools. They couldn't risk ticking them off, so they took a slightly softer approach in the 'burbs— blame the teachers—and grabbed the low-hanging fruit (or so they thought) in the mostly poor, urban, minority districts where Black and Brown voices don't matter. 

All was going according to plan: urban schools were being closed and flipped to charters; state control was expanded; teachers fired; harsh penalties for 'failing' schools; and a steady stream of media-backed rhetoric. Seemed like a slam-dunk, except that Christie and Cerf didn't anticipate the backlash from urban parents and students. What?!?! You don't want to be saved from yourselves by rich white men who stand to become richer off your salvation?!? If they had been paying attention to what was going on in cities all over the country, they would have known what to expect. Such is the folly of the unchecked ego.

And then, speaking of unchecked egos, our fearless clueless leader, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, fired the shot heard 'round the 'reformy' world:

“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary. You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”
"Fascinating"... as if he's Mr. Spock observing us all under a microscope. Call me crazy, but I think Mr. Spock has more heart than Arne.

And then, slowly, steadily, the ship started turning. As the 2013-2014 school year rolled out, parents got a good look at the new evaluation system and the CCSS, and started scratching their heads. No longer able to help their kids with math homework, suddenly it seemed as if more parents took to Twitter and Facebook. They started blogging, writing letters to the editor, becoming activists and organizers, speaking out, asking questions and demanding answers. In May 2014, the voters of Newark sent a resounding message to Gov. Christie and Superintendent Cami Anderson by electing Central HS Principal Ras J. Baraka as their new mayor. The Newark Students Union started staging walk-outs, protests and sit-ins.

In September of 2014, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia toured the US on her anti-testing crusade with a stop in Camden. Education associations throughout the state started hosting screenings of 'Standardized', and 'Take the PARCC' events. The Delran Education Association and School District threw down the gauntlet with this powerful statement against the PARCC. While speaking at the New Jersey Education Association Convention in November, Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe uttered his now infamous line, "I'm not seeing an opt-out movement in New Jersey", and seemingly within minutes, the New Jersey Opt-Out Facebook group exploded with new members. There are now county affiliates all over the state and an abundance of online resources for parents wanting to opt their kids out. Earlier this month, over one hundred parents, students and educators crammed the NJ State BOE headquarters to testify on the insanity of PARCC testing, and when NJBOE President Mark Biedron told a group of attendees that the state "can't force any kid to put their hands on a keyboard", Twitter and Facebook lit up. My blog post got almost 10,000 hits in the first 24 hours.

So, is it any wonder that in recent polling, the PARCC test is stinking like, well, CCRAP? 

Take a look at these numbers as reported in today's op-ed co-authored by Susan Cauldwell of Save Our Schools NJ and NJEA President Wendall Steinhauer:

  • 71% of parents say there is “too much emphasis” on these tests.
  • 77% worry that testing “takes time and money from other educational priorities.”
  • 81% worry that “teachers are forced to teach to the test.”
  • 80% worry that “too much of the school year is spent preparing for standardized tests.”
  • 78% want to limit the number of hours of testing.
  • 84% want to forbid standardized testing for students below third grade.
  • 66% want the right to have their children opt out of the tests.
  • 88% want test companies to disclose taxpayer-funded profits, while 87% want them to disclose their political donations.
  • 74% want to delay any decisions based on PARCC tests for two years until the results have been studied.

And 82% of parents want legislators to pass a “Bill of Rights” that provides transparency on high-stakes tests, including costs and uses of student data. Parents also want an explicit right to refuse the tests for their children. (emphasis mine)
Folks, this is huge. As someone who's run for office a few times, I can tell you these are numbers candidates only dream of. These are bigger than Nixon vs. McGovern. They're bigger than a landslide. They are, aptly, a blizzard!

If the state legislature doesn't act on them, they're just flat-out crazy, and they should be held accountable by every voter in this state. Some State Board of Education members have told those of us who attend their meetings regularly that the best way to stop this madness is through the legislature. 

Christie's bags are packed for Iowa. His days in Drumthwacket are numbered. It's time for parents to turn up the heat on the state legislature and demand a stop to this torture and abuse of our children. Here's a link for the NJ State Legislature. Click on it, find yours and demand they take action—NOW.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Not whether but how to evaluate teachers

Sent to The Economist, January 25, 2015
According to "America's New Advocacy," (January 24), "Many schools are in the grip of one of the most anti-meritocratic forces in America: the teachers’ unions, which resist any hint that good teaching should be rewarded or bad teachers fired."
This is incorrect: The objection is to how teachers are evaluated, specifically the use of student gains on standardized tests. A number of studies have shown that rating teachers using test score gains does not give consistent results. Different tests produce different ratings, and the same teacher’s ratings can vary from year to year, sometimes quite a bit.

In addition, using test score gains for evaluation encourages gaming the system, trying to produce increases in scores by teaching test-taking strategies, not by encouraging real learning. This is like putting a match under the thermometer and claiming you have raised the temperature of the room.

We are all interested in finding the best ways of evaluating teachers, but using student test-score gains is a very inaccurate way to do it.
Stephen Krashen

Some sources:
Different tests produce different ratings: Papay, J. 2010. Different tests, different answers: The stability of teacher value-added estimates across outcome measures. American Educational Research Journal 47,2.
Vary from year to year: Sass, T. 2008. The stability of value-added measures of teacher quality and implications for teacher compensation policy. Washington DC: CALDER. (National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Educational Research.) Kane, T. and Staiger, D. 2009. Estimating Teacher Impacts on Student Achievement: An Experimental Evaluation. NBER Working Paper No. 14607 http://www.nber.org/papers/w14607;
This letter posted at: http://tinyurl.com/pjous44
Original article: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21640331-importance-intellectual-capital-grows-privilege-has-become-increasingly

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ravitch Continues to Dissemble and Mislead on ESEA

Yesterday Diane Ravitch, who has been leading the lemmings to support Alexander's NCLB Lite, posted a letter by UOO on their position on ESEA.  Ravitch closed with this:
Senator Alexander conducted his first hearing on January 21 and plans another hearing on January 27. Senator Alexander proposed two options in  his draft legislation: option 1 was to replace annual testing with grade span testing; option 2 was to keep annual high-stakes testing (the status quo). UOO is opposed to high-stakes testing in the federal law, period. (So am I.)
What Ravitch does not say here is that her chum's "option 1" continues high stakes testing, just less of it (it's sort of like a law against half the murders committed).

What she does not say, either, is how she can be against high stakes testing and give full-throated support for legislation that provides another generation of high stakes testing.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Letter Re ESEA Reauthorization 2013

Posted at Common Dreams and Chalkface:

To Members of the 113th 114th Congress:

I write to express my concerns regarding the various versions of the new ESEA now circulating in Washington, all of which appear to have enough in common to be combined, perhaps, under a more fitting title–something like The Corporate Foundation and Education Industry Welfare Act of 2013.  All of the versions that I have seen appear to embrace the principle that known failure should never be sacrificed for untried levels of success.

The past four decades represent generations now of failed accountability efforts to assist, threaten, demand, shame, and bribe public school students and their teachers to raise school achievement as a way to demonstrate that testing accountability  can accomplish what racism and poverty have made consistently impossible in America.  The chimerical idea that increasing education access could cure social and economic injustice was and is an ambitious, though fanciful, project that has been embraced by both liberals and conservatives since  the late 1960s at least.  Increasing educational access during the 60s came to serve as a coward’s proxy for more substantive and politically risky structural changes in housing, health care, jobs, transportation, and safety–all of which were and are as desperately needed as they are studiously ignored.

Today we are reaping the harvest of what we sowed during four decades of doing more of the same testing accountability while expecting different results.  Today’s hot and breathless pursuit of the status quo is packaged with the label of “reform,” and it is bound together with pretty rhetorical ribbons like No Child Left Behind Act, Strengthening America’s Schools Act, the Student Success Act, and Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.  All of these fine-sounding pieces of legislation depend upon schooling methods that were cutting edge a hundred years ago, when achievement testing and IQ testing were first used to create a pseudo-scientific and entirely fake meritocracy based on real economic privilege and the sordid sorting and segregating of the poor, the culturally “inferior,” and the socially “defective.”

During that era, millions of Mexican children had their futures determined by racist IQ tests and classist achievement tests given  in a language that they could not even read.  To show you how much things change and remain the same, today in Tennessee and other states wanting to “first to the top,” kindergarten children are taking standardized tests (the SAT-10) before they learn to read and count.  A hundred years ago society’s “defectives” (either mental, social, cultural, or racial) were offered, on the basis of junk IQ tests, a very different industrial training education that taught students to accept and to actively participate in their own subjugation.

Today we use state or  corporate achievement tests to justify closing public community schools and opening segregated corporate reform schools that no middle class parent would ever send they own their children to.  In these neo-eugenic schools, children are programmed to blame themselves if the propaganda fails to deliver.  Ask how many KIPP teachers or TFA missionaries would send their own children into the anti-cultural straightjacket chain gangs.  Ask your colleagues in Congress if they would make their children KIPPsters.

Today the hostility of corporate education reformers to the public interest and the common good is matched only a rapacious and unchecked greed that is supported now with hundreds of millions of federal dollars that your programs approve.  And all of the fine-sounding bills listed above want to scale up the KIPP model, TFA, and their emulators within the growing school incarceration industry of urban America.  Public schools, with your help, have become corporate revenue streams and miseducative, unhealthy testing labs.

If your plans proceed, more and harder tests from the Common Core Corporate Standards guarantee a continuing supply of hostile corporate takeover targets within poor communities.  More “turnarounds” equals more corporate reform schools, and there will always be a bottom five percent to prey upon.  Despite warnings from the science community, these same national tests you are planning are to be used in evaluating teachers, who will doubtless sacrifice care and commitment to students for the necessity of assuring their own paychecks. Testing performance has replaced student learning, and all of your bills further enable that tragic transition.

The bills you are offering, too, will help to make teaching even more unattractive than it is today (if that is possible), thus increasing the demand for more and more Teach for America temps who have no inkling of the damage they are doing.  You must understand that corporate reform is about building businesses of the most corrupt and exploitative variety–it is not about education.  I expect you will have quit reading my letter before you get to this point, but let me offer a picture of what will happen if high stakes is preserved in the new ESEA.

If the new ESEA does NOT eliminate high stakes tests and segregated corporate reform schools,

  • You will see a growing army of parents and teachers and grandparents and policymakers, all working together to nullify the grand schemes of your legislation, with its next generation of racist and classist high stakes tests and segregated chain gang schools.
  • You will see increasing numbers of students refusing to take the high stakes tests, enough to regularly cause test results to be useless.
  • You will see an increase in civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance that will use any non-violent means to stop corporate schooling and high stakes testing.
  • You will see very expensive technical snafus increasing as online high stake testing increases.
  • You will see testing data warehouses targeted by hackers.
  • You will see the end of corporate unionism and the rise of a real teacher union movement with the health and welfare of children’s physical, mental, and emotional health as the first and foremost non-negotiable demand.
  • You will see a multiplicity of new information sources that no longer print the lies and propaganda that corporate foundations offer to you and the corporate media for parroting.
  • You will experience increasing disruption of corporate education at every level, from pre-K to graduate school.
  • You will see increasing resistance from within the university, and you will see much new high quality research in the public interest rather in for corporate benefit.
  • You will see the vampire squid of the education industry exposed for public examination.
  • You will find your connections to the corporate reform schoolers the subject of constant and unceasing examination.
  • You will see that what Wall Street fears, the spirit of Jeffersonian and Deweyan democracy, that is alive and well and increasingly impatient with the status quo.
  • You will come to see that these demands are not negotiable.

Document Dump on Rudd's Privatization Effort at University of Memphis

Last updated January 25

Since being promoted from Provost to President of the University of Memphis, at the behest of Governor Haslam, the Hydes, and and their plutocrat club, the corporate insider, David Rudd, has been fixated on austerity measures and privatization of the university.

His favorite crackpot scheme of the moment involves bringing in a New York corporation to offer minimal "broken windows" temp teacher preparation to serve the children in Memphis who need the most experienced and professionally prepared teachers.

This would represent an experimental step toward a charter university model.

University faculty members have not been enthused.

Below is a summary of finding from public records documents.  Prepared by University of Memphis associate professor, Mate Wierdl, I have edited parts of the summary.

by Mate Wierdl

The main source of the findings below is a PDF file, which is a scanned compendium of public record documents that were obtained via a FOIA request in November. They cover the period June-November, 2014.  The contained documents are arranged in chronological order except the last document which is dated June 3.


(I refer to this source as S, and will make references as "S, page 22.")


The plan is that students, from all departments, will be recruited, via a professional ad campaign, to take part in the Relay program after their sophomore year.  After a student leaves her home department, she will take part in a one year teacher "internship" (as it's nowadays called), and will end up graduating from University College.  In other words, the teacher training program will try to cannibalize (not my word, as you will see) our majors.  One problem with this is that under the new budget model SRI, departments will get their $ based on the number of graduates they produce.  Every student, then, going to Relay will represent a loss of funding for other departments.

The program will cost $5 million per year to the University.  Relay will have full autonomy over the program, and they will  handle this taxpayers' $5 million without apparent accountability.  This the very essence of what they call privatization: public money goes into corporate hands without public scrutiny about its spending and without added benefit to the public.

The University will provide space and maintenance of facilities without charge.  Meanwhile, a professor in the math department is on the verge of giving back his half a million NSF grant, since the University couldn't find a space for him). 

The millions (about $20 million) to be provided by donors to the program during the first two years will pass through the university without any overhead, even though the University demands hefty accounting fees for other grant money coming through the university.

Here are some of the highlights from the source.

Professional marketing will take place to recruit majors from other departments (students personal data will be made available for this purpose)

S, page 40, Section titled "Structured campus engagement"

In addition to the upfront professional campaign, ongoing cultivation and recruitment strategies will be conducted on the University of Memphis campus. Ongoing campus-based outreach will include multiple forms of communication and informational sessions encouraging students to explore this pathway into teaching.

Targeted marketing and outreach, particularly to the sophomore class and with a focus on specific candidate pools (e.g., STEM, Honors students), will be conducted through similar on-campus channels as those for the campus-based-ontreach.

S, page 41, last paragraph

In addition, a one-time investment of up to $2M over the first two years of the program is envisioned to support the professional marketing campaign and candidate cultivation activities to encourage service through this innovative program. This funding would cover the development of the content and messaging for all marketing and communications related to this program, website development, professional agency fees, and media campaigns (e.g., social media, viral video, etc.) that aim to effectively reach high school students and first- and second-year students at the University of Memphis (and other colleges) and attract them to this new teacher preparation program at the University of Memphis.

Students will not graduate from home departments but from University College.

S, Page 44, Secion a.

Students who successfully complete the core program will be eligible to receive 30 credits (or the equivalent credits for one-quarter of the required courses for graduation from the University of Memphis). These credits will count towards graduation from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor in Liberal Studies awarded by University College.

The program will compete with the existing teacher training program, and the president knows this well.

S, Page 80

What happens to the current teacher education program? Are the current players on campus ready for a pretty radical new entity that will be “competing” and possibly cannibalizing their students/revenue?

S, Page 47

The success of the new teacher preparation program likely will lead to a material decline in demand for the current teacher preparation program and the University is prepared to manage this transition.

Relay program's planning was done in secret (reminder: we found out about the program from the Commercial Appeal)

S, Page 21, Email from Ed Dean Rakow to Legal Counsel Murry

When can we meet to discuss the status of this and what I am allowed to tell concerned faculty?

The president is asking ex-president Martin [Governor Haslam's mentor] how to "convince" faculty that the relay program is not competing with theirs [knowing full well, it will compete and may cannibalize it, as we saw above. Faculty trying to find out about the secretly planned relay program are called "loud voices."]

S, Page 61, president's email quoted in an email by ex-president Martin

2) needing to coordinate in some fashion with the College of Education faculty that this is a complimentary program (i.e. an urban teacher prep program to pair with the suburban work they're currently doing) not a competing one with the College, otherwise they'll likely see it as an "outside" program in direct competition. We'd need to coordinate with them a bit so a few loud voices don't drown out the good work and overshadow the effort.

No overhead fees for the donors' millions of dollars

S, Page 66, email from the President

2. The pass through on philanthropy dollars, with no recovery or over-head charges by the U of M ..

The above references are just samples.  Further documentation is required to determine the details of the proposed budget, salaries, university support, and other departmental sacrifices.

Investigators are combing records to figure out the exact responsible parties for this apparent intentional violation of shared governance at the University and to uncover the motivation and driving forces behind the Relay program.  

A wider issue than having a private company running a "department" on campus at our expense is the recent outsourcing of university functions to private companies: recruiting, web design, temp workers, etc.  In other words, the apparent privatization of higher education---arriving at the University of Memphis at the same President Rudd moves in.

Statement on Gates and Broad Foundation funded United Way Greater Los Angeles running LAUSD forums

"Philanthropy is not progressive and never has been."— Tiffany Lethabo King and Ewuare Osayande

"The United Way of LA is chief enforcer of Eli Broad’s corporate takeover of public Ed agenda. He’s the reason why I created the term “weaponized philanthropy” to describe how lefty-liberal groups in this city are under his sway. There’s NO good reason on earth the ACLU or LGBT Youth groups would support John Deasy except for the fact that they get money from UWGLA and much of that money comes from Broad."—Cynthia Liu, PhD

United Way Greater Los Angeles is the best  public relations firm that Eli Broad has ever hired
Left to right: Monica Garcia, the disgraced John Deasy, Casey Wasserman, billionaire Eli Broad, and Elise Buik. Five of the greatest enemies to public education in Los Angeles under the aegis of the United Way Greater Los Angeles.

The Nonprofit Industrial Complex in Los Angeles are using their unlimited resources to sway our schoolboard elections again. Here's a tweet linking to the Occupy United Way page that first pointed out the issue.

My slightly edited statement from that page.

With the possible exceptions of Public Counsel and CHIRLA, could the United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA) have gathered a more vile coalition of revenue hungry corporate charter chains and billionaire foundation funded Nonprofit Industrial Complex (‎NPIC) members? KIPP, Coro, Eli Broad's Dan Chang's GPS:LA, E4E, ICS, and more. It's a rogues gallery of organizations on the dole of the Koch's, Bloomberg's, Broad's, Gates', and Walton Family Foundations. How is it that these organizations with the clear-cut political agendas of their funders are allowed to host forums like this?

Just in case there's any doubt that this entire event has been orchestrated by the UWGLA, here's the text from the registration form. See the email address?

Please fill out this brief form to let us know you will attend a Candidate Forum.

Childcare, translation, refreshments, voter registration and ballot information will be provided free of cost.

For more information and media inquires, contact Sara Mooney at smooney@unitedwayla.org or 213-808-6290

UWGLA runs these events so that they have complete control over what questions get asked, the tone and content of the conversations, the composition of audience, etc. These so-called forums end up being informercials for their favored (read charter school industry connected) candidates, and more importantly, their neoliberal corporate education reform agenda. Remember, UWGLA is the same organization that pays for fake "research" papers from less-than-credible fellow neoliberal NPIC like National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). There is no depth too low for the UWGLA to plumb, evidenced by their now infamous April 2014 astroturf stunt.

United Way Greater Los Angeles is the best public relations firm that Eli Broad has ever hired.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Tribute to Mike Sage, a True Fighter for Indiana Education and Children

by Doug Martin

Michael Sage passed away last Saturday.  He was a true crusader for children and a critic of school privatization in Indianapolis.   Through parent and activist Matthew Brooks, I met and talked with Mike several times while in Indy for book events, and Mike was one of the first in Indiana to promote Hoosier School Heist and my research in so many ways. 

Mike was a sensitive and attuned soul.  I respect him immensely.

There will be a celebration of Mike's life in Indianapolis at 37th Place (2605 E. 25th St 46218) this Friday, Jan 23, from 4:00-8:00.

Here below is Parent Power Indianapolis’ John Harris Loflin’s tribute to Mike Sage.  It traces, among other things, Mike’s enormous positive influence in education and his many accomplishments for children in the city of Indianapolis and Indiana:

Michael Kent Sage

June 17, 1955 - January 17, 2015

Michael Kent Sage was a most unique Hoosier. Born and raised here, and a citizen of Indianapolis, Mike Sage loved that part of Indiana’s mid-west culture stressing conformity. It gave life and purpose to his basic noncompliant nature. He also loved the 1970’s during which he became of age. Mike fit perfectly into the anti-establishment and anti-war movements as well as the women’s rights, environmental rights, civil rights, and the student rights movements.

Mike was involved in the student “underground” at Washington Twp’s North Central H.S. in this era. His critique of traditional education helped inspire school staff there to create Learning Unlimited, Indiana’s first alternative public school of choice in 1974. In 1976, he helped Cities In Schools establish the Tech-300 Program at Arsenal Tech H.S. In 1978, he was director of Indy Prep, the first alternative school in IPS. He made sure this unique program loved and respected students.
He obtained a bachelor’s in Urban Studies from Indy’s Martin University and a master’s in counseling from the Christian Theological Seminary. He was a caseworker for Branches of Life Foster Care and so a defender of the rights of children in and after foster care.

In early 2012, Mike formed the Education-Community Action Team, a grassroots group questioning both IPS and corporate school reform. He wanted to make sure we “...do not leave education reform in the hands of 'experts' in business, finance, and law.” E-CAT continues Mike’s weekly breakfast each Friday morning around 9-9:30 at the Kountry Kitchen (19th/College). Anyone’s welcome. Check out E-CAT’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/287555804641345/
Mike is known locally for bringing youth to community meetings and events during the day and evening. He challenged both IPS and the Indiana Department of Education to 1) rethink job descriptions by requiring all employees to engage in providing direct services to youth, and 2) not allow student policies to be created by persons who do not currently engage with youth. Few adults have this level of understanding, commitment, and regard for young people.

As a critical friend of the privatization movement, he was one of the first to see through the guise and sales talk of the corporate school reform agenda of Dr. Tony Bennett, the Mind Trust, and the mayor’s Office of Education Innovation. He also exposed what he saw as the hidden political-economic agenda behind Teach for American, KIPP and Charter Schools USA, Chalkbeat Indiana, and the Stand for Children group whose “reformers” now run the IPS school board. From his perspective what was going on here with IPS and charter school expansion was actually gentrification and urban real estate development.

As a critical friend of traditional public education, he questioned the purpose of education at North Central H.S., and both inspired and ran alternatives to it. As the number of alternative programs grew in the 80s and 90s and became warehouses for students under-served by districts, he helped call out these schools as “soft-jails.” As a student and adult, he promoted student voice and proposed local school boards have a student representative. He knew children were naturally curious and didn’t need rewards or punishments to make them learn. Thus, he believed children learned from play and denounced those who stole playtime from children in order to make them good test takers.   This was besides his critique of standardized testing: ISTEP was “a false measurement” and didn’t assess anything.
Finally, he was an integral part of the Parent Power group and supported the democratic empowerment of parents and their ownership of their schools via the Local School Councils concept. Mike also co-authored the “Strength-based IEP” concept which proposes special education students get just as much attention paid to their strengths as their weaknesses. He had the “Education Cities” idea for Indy added to the Northeast Corridor Quality of Life Plan.  

What made Mike unique among his friends was his insistence that they not use the verb “to be” (is, are, was, were, etc.) when writing because a verb of being implies an amount of certainty and perfection which in reality only exists in words and ideas. To him, such exactness gives the reader a false sense of life which Mike saw as “all a dance.”
Right or wrong, Mike Sage questioned authority, which made him insubordinate; he had a critical consciousness which made him a gadfly; he respected children as they are which made him disliked by disciplinarians; and, he rejected adultism which made him the enemy of those who are prejudice and discriminate against children and youth systemically.

We Hoosiers have not only lost a guardian of and champion for young people, we’ve lost a social justice warrior for all of us. Mike Sage is now the example we must strive to follow.

A celebration of Mike's life will take place at 37th Place (2605 E. 25th St 46218), Friday Jan 23 4:00-8:00.

Below is a photo of Mike (left) and Doug Martin, taken by Parent Power Indianapolis' Merry Juerling, at the Rise Above the Mark movie event in Indianapolis: