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

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Unmasking the Hostility to Masks

The respected education law professor, Derek Black, tweeted yesterday, "I can’t fathom how any rational person could find masks offensive enough to act violently toward schools." I find myself in complete agreement with Professor Black. The problem is that the violence by mask refusers is as far from rationality as any person, rational or otherwise, might ever imagine.  

I am talking about what I find when looking underneath all the "rational" explanations of anti-mask madness.  They range from a desire to "own the libs," to a desire to bring down Biden poll numbers by keeping the pandemic alive, to a belief among white supremacists in superior genetic protections against disease, to all the other "rational" reasons cataloged in a pretty good recent article in The Atlantic about the mask resistor's close relative, the vaccine resistor.  

There is something credible about all these rational explanations, but they all fall short when taking measure of the violent madness of the enraged spittle spouters at the local school board meeting threatening death to anyone trying to protect his child from a deathly disease, or the purple-faced frothing airline assailants who totally lose their shit when gently reminded to put on their masks before they put on their seatbelts, which they knew were required when they bought their tickets and when they boarded the plane. [Sidebar rhetorical question: Were these "free my face" fanatics ever resistant to the seatbelt rule on airlines or the child restraint requirements in cars??]

The world's most unconsciously transparent and malignantly-narcissistic combo of psychopath/sociopath is the key to uncovering the pathology of mask resistance, which I exists almost exclusively among the stubborn dregs of the T---- Cult. 

Now I am not a psychologist, but it doesn't take one to see at any of the political wrestlemania rallies the poisonous narcotic that T---- injects into the crowds who have stood in line all day with sleeves rolled up and arms extended for their fix.  

Over the past decade, T---- has emboldened, enabled, allowed, and cajoled his throngs, pushing them to rip away the social masks previously imposed on racists and racist institutions between 1954 and 2016--that period from Brown v. Board to the election of the only U. S. President in history be referred to openly by his own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, as a "fucking moron." 

Leading by example, T----- has urged his confederates to remove their hoods, rip off their masks, and, essentially, malign, disparage, and disregard all the court decisions, civil rights statutes, human rights laws, social justice prerogatives, and ethical boundaries that bind together civil, democratic societies. 

Remember when T---- returned to the White House from his bout with Covid, juiced up on Regeneron and steroids?  The first thing he did was huff and puff his way to the second floor balcony, rip away his mask, and assume the best Mussolini pose he could muster.  Having been empowered by him to let their racism run wild, the balcony show was the expression of a metaphor that every one of his followers understood at a pre-conscious level. He was back, and he would not be muzzled by anything, even the threat of death.  They should follow suit and, of course, they did. They are.

So what will it take to mask or remask, as the case may be, racist fatalism of the MAGA cult members who T---- has liberated from the confines of common decency and democratic values?  I certainly can't say, but I do believe it will take more than just rational arguments or humane entreaties from people whose blind respect for everyone includes even those who respect no one.  Not even themselves.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

KIPP's Woke Rebranding of Racist Chain Gang Schools

In 2016, America's largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), became such a toxic brand under so much scrutiny that it changed its name to CoreCivic.  Maybe the new branding meant that we were supposed to forget that CCA was even a "corporation" in the "corrections" business, i.e., a private prison outfit.  Maybe we were supposed to assume CoreCivic had a public mission that was so central to its identity that "core" and "civic" could not even be divided into two words.  

Never mind that CoreCivic would remain the same brutal CCA private prison system based on understaffing, overworking, humiliating punishments, unsafe practices, accounting manipulations, and little to no public oversight for the billions of public dollars that CoreCivic collects each year.

This week America's largest corporate charter school chain, KIPP, is trying out the same strategy as a way to shift attention away from its corrupt and racist total compliance corporate model based on understaffing, overworking, humiliating punishments, unsafe practices, accounting manipulations, and little or no public oversight for the billions of public dollars that KIPP collects each year.  

The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) has become now KIPP: Public Schools.  Obviously, we should forget that KIPP America's largest corporate charter chain.  Instead, we should be reminded that KIPP: Public Schools's claim of "public" status should justify the continuation draining of tens of billions of public dollars each year, even if KIPP governance, organizational model, daily operations, and guiding philosophy all remains under the iron-fisted control of KIPP's corporate management.  

In order to shift the attention away from what critics have found to be the paternalist demands by KIPP's colonialist urban school occupiers, KIPP has also changed its long-standing submission-demanding motto, "Work Hard, Be Nice," which was dropped last year. The new motto,"Together, A Future Without Limits," seeks to shift attention away from the fact that KIPP teachers and students continue to be blamed (as they always have) for their own failures to meet expectations and goals passed down to them from KIPP's home office.  

If you are skeptical of this new window dressing for KIPP's 270 cultural sterilization centers, you should be.  Nothing on the ground has changed.  Nothing has even changed in KIPP's rationale and protocols.  And no doubt students at KIPP will continue to know KIPP as the "Kids in Prison Program." 

The information below is taken from KIPP's new and improved website:

2.1 Expectations Excellent teaching means that the teacher...


A.   Consistently communicates: 1) This is important; 2) You can do it with hard work; 3) I will not give up on you; and 4) We will help each other. (KEY MESSAGES)

B.   Insists that students take risks, make and learn from mistakes, and admit confusion. (GROWTH MINDSET)

C.   Lets students know exactly what academic and character excellence looks like for the year, the unit, and the lesson and demands it. (WARM & DEMANDING)

D.   Provides real-time and specific affirming and adjusting feedback about academics and character to students. (THE SPOTLIGHT)


2.2 Investment 

A.   Treats their classroom goals and investment of kids and families like a garden. (TEND IT CONSTANTLY)

B.   Designs the physical space to make it inviting, purposeful, and a reflection of the students in the room. (THEIR HAPPY PLACE)

C.   Ensures kids can explain the why, big and small, for every action, activity, and artifact. (THE WHY OF THE WAY) D

D.   Makes sure that goals, big and small, matter to kids and their families

E.   Creates a classroom where kids are proud to be and you can tell. F. Provides students with opportunities to make choices and to influence the classroom culture.


2.3 Routines and systems

A. Designs efficient behavioral and academic systems. (WELL-OILED MACHINE)

B.  Models and practices systems until they are mastered. (100%)

C.  Tweaks systems when they are not working.

D.  Maintains a clean and organized classroom space. (CLEANER THAN WE FOUND IT)

E.  Anticipates challenges that individual students may have with some routines and systems and makes adjustments. 




2.4 Management and discipline

A.   Implements a classroom behavior management plan with the goal of 100% of the students meeting 100% of the expectations 100% of the time. (100%) 

B.   Notices what is happening in the classroom and adjusts accordingly. (WITH-IT-NESS)

C.   Considers and addresses the root causes of student disruption or inattention.

D.   Reacts with speed and decisiveness when behavior does not meet expectations. (WARM & DEMANDING/100%)

E.   Administers consequences that logically connect to the behavior and the child. (LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES) 

F.    Uses a calm, firm, and convincing tone when addressing inappropriate behavior. (WARM & DEMANDING)

G.   Uses a variety of techniques to capture and maintain mutual respect and attention from students (i.e. – narrate the positive, correct, assertive body language, proximity, etc... see SAPHIER’S ATTENTION CONTINUUM and LEMOV’S TAXONOMY)

H.   Provides specific, observable, concrete, and sequential directions and expects students to follow them. (SOCS/100%)I.Reconnects positively with students after administering a consequence.


2.5 Joy!

A.   Exudes a love of teaching and learning through facial expressions, tone, and actions. (LOVE OF THE GAME)

B.   Nurtures curiosity and a love of learning.

C.   Smiles and laughs regularly, and brings humor and zest to the work of teaching and learning. 

D.   Celebrates individual and group efforts and successes when students meet and exceed expectations.

E.   Creates opportunities in the day for students to smile, laugh, and be expressive.




Monday, August 02, 2021

TN Takes the Lead in Protecting Murderous Myth of White Supremacy

 A clip from an op-ed in the Times today--written by a Tennessean:

Legislative attempts to restrict how children are taught about racism in schools have multiplied, according to the nonprofit news organization Chalkbeat, which tracked such efforts in 28 states. Tennessee, where I live, just passed a law banning any discussion of race that might cause a student “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress.” Laws like this one are designed to tie the hands of teachers and simultaneously appeal to the meanest elements of the Republican base.

I’ve watched this play out at close range as the Williamson County chapter of Moms for Liberty, a national organization of conservative parents, filed an official grievance with the state commissioner of education. The complaint alleges that “Wit & Wisdom,” a literacy curriculum used in more than 30 state school districts, including Williamson County, violates the new state restrictions.

The specific target of Moms for Liberty’s ire: a unit in the second-grade curriculum called “Civil Rights Heroes.” The texts singled out for objection include “Separate is Never Equal” by Duncan Tonatiuh, the story of a Mexican American family’s successful effort to integrate California schools; “Martin Luther King Jr. and the March on Washington” by Frances E. Ruffin; and “Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story” by Ruby Bridges, the Black woman who integrated New Orleans public schools when she was a first grader.

It’s important to note that these titles are all early readers or read-aloud stories written for young children. Nothing in them is untrue, nor is anything “anti-American” or “anti-white,” as the Moms for Liberty argue. They’re just true stories, told simply, of people contending heroically with the terrible consequences of racism.

The Moms for Liberty complaint is based in a ludicrous reading of these wonderful books. I read every book in the unit and was amazed at how carefully they all kept the unavoidable ugliness to a level that would not traumatize a child — not a Black or Brown child whose ancestors may have faced far worse than the injustices recounted in these pages, and not a white child whose ancestors may have sympathized with the people hurling insults at 6-year-old Ruby Bridges.

On the contrary, the books take care to point out that some white people did stand up for the rights of their Black neighbors. Indeed, the only message that could possibly be derived from these stories is the need to treat others with dignity and to work for justice for all people. Today Ms. Bridges gives talks to schoolchildren about what happened to her as a little girl. In “Ruby Bridges Goes to School,” she writes, “I tell children that Black people and white people can be friends. And most important, I tell children to be kind to each other.”