Jack Berman Fights an Endless War for the Rich and Powerful

Richard Berman is better at twisting public opinion in favor of the rich and powerful than anybody else alive. He gave a speech to the Wesern Energy Alliance, explaining how he gets people confused about whether fracking or global warming and climate change, or labor unions, or increasing the minimum wage, are good things or not — even though the entire audience was quite aware that the public as a whole hates oil industry executives.

One of the people in the audience recorded the secret speech and leaked it to the New York Times. You can read the NYT article on it here.

Berman is a major sleaze-bag, and so is his friend Jack Hubbard, who also addressed the group.

Here is the link to the transcript of his speech, and I append a few quotes from the transcript:

From Rick Berman on keeping their funding sources secret:

rick berman

Jack Hubbard explains how they spend lots of money digging up nasty stuff to discredit anybody they disagree with. He starts off explaining how he will soon be attacking a liberal Colorado congressman named Jared Polis.

jack hubbard

Published in: on October 30, 2014 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Revised and Corrected Ad for Koch Industries

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show made a few corrections to an advertisement extolling the enormous Koch corporation — one of their sponsors (sort of). It’s a hilarious and factual improvement on the original ad. Definitely worth watching at the Daily Show, which you can find here. Also, read the Rolling Stone expose of the Koch brothers. These are not nice guys, and they really are attempting to purchase our entire government….

Here is the text of the revised advertisement, if you don’t feel like waiting for the video to load:

We’re Koch industries — not just an energy company.

We’re in your food and in your pants and in your home.

If there’s a way to monetize your thoughts, we’ll find it.

All while backing seventeen shadow organizations to buy elections from Pennsylvania Avenue to Main Street.

You won’t always see our names on our campaign ads, because the politicians we own say that’s OK.

With our heartfelt devotion to fossil fuels, we make your planet warmer and your water more flammable, while lubricating your birds and rearranging your polar bears.

We can’t raise your little girl for you, but we can hand-pick her school board and approve her textbooks. And when she lands her first job, we’ll be fighting to reduce the miminum wage. Because we actually believe it [raising the minimum wage] could leave to Naziism.

Yeah. Naziism. We’re that [expletive deleted] out there.

Koch industries: the next generation of robber barons, bending the democratic process to our will since 1980.

Oh, and our brother David likes ballet.

By the way, the Koch brothers were not pleased by the Rolling Stone expose, so they fought back. They couldn’t actually deny any of the facts, but they still got nasty. You can read the response by the author to their criticisms, here.

Published in: on October 30, 2014 at 6:59 pm  Comments (1)  
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Charter School Fraud and Abuse

This article in Salon talks about how many charter schools are merely a way for grifters to scam the public and make off with a ton of money… It’s based on a report you can read here:

http://integrityineducation.org/charter-fraud/

 

 

On fighting back against Arne Duncan, from ‘Busted Pencils’ blog;

An excerpt from a call to arms:

We [college departments of education - gfb]are now going to be responsible for the test scores of children that end up being taught by our graduates. In other words, if my son fails and his teacher was your student, it’s now your fault! And if you don’t make the changes needed to help your students “teach” my son how to do well on his standardized tests you, your department, your school, and/or your college will be slapped and eventually shut down. …

Remember NCLB? Yeah, some of you complained and some of you even managed to turn it into a productive line of research. And what was it that you complained about and what did all that research reveal? You complained that testing would not do anything to the achievement gap, that the curriculum will narrow, that the “least among us” would be hit hardest, and that linking student test scores to teachers and schools was problematic. Then after years of conducting research you found out that all of your complaints were substantiated. The achievement gap still exists, public school children now receive little to no instruction in the arts or the humanities, the children of poverty are bearing the brunt of this misguided ideological attack on public schools and value-added measures of teachers are extremely unreliable and the public reporting of these statistics causes harm to all involved with public education. 

It is our turn to join with the children, parents, teachers and public schools. All across the country there is an “Opt Out” movement occurring. Parents are refusing to allow their children to take standardized tests (hereherehere), teachers are refusing to administer the tests, administrators are speaking out against the negative consequences associated with the tests, and some schools have actually stopped administering the tests. 

What should we do? How should we respond? Who’s willing to be the first teacher educator to say: “No. I opt out too. I will not abandon everything I know about children, teaching learning and schools. I refuse to take part in a rigged political system designed to dismantle public education and thwart democracy.”

Isn’t it our turn to tune in and “opt out”?

I’ll ask again three years later:

Teacher education colleagues are you ready to organize and speak truth to power?  

Can we move beyond simply complaining about Duncan and the reformers?  

Can we look within the profession and demand that our leaders not offer “anxious” compliance?  

Idiotic Math Questions

I was recently helping a student at Wilson SHS in Washington, DC with something called a ‘Paced Interim Assessment’,  written and published by one of our major educational publishing monopolies. It was filled with questions that were pompous, absurd, and filled with errors. Here is one of them.

Given: line p is parallel to line q.

Prove: the measure of angle 1 equals the measure of angle 2. Show all steps of a two-column proof.

goofy parallel line question

The reason I think this problem is goofy is that the “given” information is not needed at all: Angles 1 and 2 are congruent (or have the same measure, or are equal) no matter whether the two lines are parallel or not, by virtue of something we call the Vertical Angles Theorem, and which students by this point have already proved and have been using for a long time. In other words, there is nothing to prove at all.

Is this a simple typographical error, where the author(s) really meant for the student to prove that angle 1 is congruent to angle 3? I don’t know. If so, that would be fairly easy to do – it’s asking the student to prove the alternate exterior angles theorem — but they’ve probably already proved that as well!

Over and over I found the problems in this PIA to be shoddily written and not requiring any thought whatsoever, while at the same time adding lots of extraneous words that will certainly discourage anyone who doesn’t read well. We found about five questions that had no correct answer given, and a few that looked like this:

gppfy angle question

Notice that there is nothing at all given about the relationship between angles ADB and BDC. Is ray DB an angle bisector? We don’t know. Perhaps that was the intention, but it is nowhere stated, so you cannot figure out anything about any of the angles in the diagram whatsoever.

Yeah, I admit to having made up quite a few bad questions in my career as a teacher, but when students pointed out my errors I would graciously thank them for showing me up. Here, I am pretty sure that the student would be penalized for not reading the minds of the low-paid hacks who wrote this trash.

I also tutor students from Sidwell Friends and Saint Alban’s in much the same subjects. What I find is that the students at SF and StA are given problems that require thought — much like the problems I used to assign when I taught at Alice Deal JHS — all of which schools are in Washington, DC.

The idiots in charge of education in Washington, DC Public Schools should be ashamed of how low they have sunk the education of DC’s youngsters. It’s really a travesty.

Enrollment in Teacher Education Courses is Declining

Apparently students are deciding in large numbers that teaching is not such a safe, stable career any more, and as a result, in several large states, the numbers of students enrolled in programs to prepare students for a career in education is going down dramatically. In California, the numbers have dropped by over 40 percent in just a few years (from 44,692 in 2008/9 to 26.321 in 2011/12). In New York State, they went from 79,225 im 2009/10 to 61,821 in 2011/12, a 22% drop.

They don’t seem to give teacher-preparation enrollments for 2013-14 or for the present year. I wouldn’t be surprised if numbers have continued to plummet, since the unending attacks on the teaching profession have only increased over the past two years, as tens or hundreds of thousands of teachers have been summarily fired for no good reason in districts across the nation, particularly in our large cities.

Here is the link to the article, but I’ll warn you that it’s protected by a paywall. I can somehow read it on my smartphone but not on my computer. I can’t even copy and paste individual paragraphs.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/10/22/09enroll.h34.html

 

 

Bob Schaeffer’s Roundup of Resistance to Education Deforms

From Bob Schaeffer:

Top national policy-makers finally took notice of the growing testing resistance and reform movement this week.  The Council of Chief State School Officers (aka state superintendents) and the Council of the Great City Schools (urban supers) published a report admitting that standardized exam overkill was rampant across the country.  In response, both U.S. Secretary of Arne Duncan and President Barack Obama issued statements of concern.

But none of these long-time defenders of test misuse and overuse has spelled out how to address what they concede are serious problems. That’s why grassroots activists — parents, students, teachers, administrators, community leaders, school board members, etc. — need to keep ratcheting up the pressure !

School Standardized Testing Is Under Growing Attack: Leaders Pledge Changes

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/school-standardized-testing-is-under-growing-attack-leaders-pledge-changes/2014/10/15/bd1201b8-549b-11e4-ba4b-f6333e2c0453_story.html
As Over-Testing Outcry Grows, Exam Promoters Pull Back Slightly
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2014/1016/As-overtesting-outcry-grows-education-leaders-pull-back-on-standardized-tests

Poll Finds Coloradans Concerned About Too Much Testing
http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/10/20/union-poll-finds-negative-public-attitudes-on-testing/#.VEZxCnvvdBw
Pearson Scoring Error Delays Release of New Test Results
http://www.9news.com/story/news/education/2014/10/16/state-delays-release-new-tests/17356299/

Delaware School Board Will Support Families Who Opt Out of Tests
http://delaware.newszap.com/centraldelaware/135877-70/standardized-test-opt-out-gets-show-of-support-from-capital-board

Florida Teachers Fed Up With Volume of Testing
http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/marion-county-teachers-fed-amount-testing-kinderga/nhjHs/
Revolt Against Testing Spreads Across Florida
http://www.tallahassee.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/10/15/kathleen-oropeza-revolt-testing-begun/17326837/
Florida Fights With Feds Over Testing English Language Learners
http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/state-federal-government-wrestle-over-testing-for-students-learning-english/2202760

Time for Georgians to Rise Up Against Student Testing Regime
http://onlineathens.com/opinion/2014-10-18/blackmon-time-rise-against-student-testing-regimen

Indiana School Grade Gaming Earns Failing Results
http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20141017/EDIT07/310179995/1147/EDIT07

Maryland Educators Seek Delay in Common Core Testing Requirements
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/blog/bs-md-graduation-requirements-20141016-story.html#page=1

Mississippi School Grading Change Leaves Schools Confused, Frustrated
http://www.sunherald.com/2014/10/16/5859825/districts-caught-in-transition.html

Suspend New Jersey Exit Exam Requirement During Transition to PARCC
http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/10/14/commentary-make-exit-exam-optional-parcc-changes/17247379/

New Mexico State Senator Seeks Moratorium on Test Score Consequences
http://www.abqjournal.com/480653/news/nm-senator-calls-for-moratorium-on-using-test-scores.html
Testing Policy A Contentious Issue in New Mexico Race for Governor
http://www.abqjournal.com/482493/news/gov-candidates-offer-different-policy-visions.html

New York Rethinks Rush to Computerized Testing: Plans Multi-Year Phase-In
http://www.nyssba.org/news/2014/10/10/on-board-online-october-13-2014/sed-rethinks-computerized-testing-plans-phase-in-over-several-years/
Opt-Out Movement Builds Across New York State
http://www.recordonline.com/article/20141019/NEWS/141019385

Ohio School Superintendents Label Added Common Core Testing an “Abomination”
http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/10/test_mania_local_superintenden.html
Grades From Spring 2015 Ohio Common Core Tests May Not Be Available Until 2016
http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/10/grades_from_spring_common_core_tests_may_not_be_available_until_2016.html
Ohio School Board Candidate: Test-Centric Education Cannot Replace for Effective Learning
http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/2014/10/14/column-test-centric-education-replacement-effective-learning/17278543/

Oklahoma Plays Test Vendor “Musical Chairs” Firing One Company and Hiring Another
http://oklahomawatch.org/2014/10/17/oklahoma-to-consider-new-testing-contract-replacing-mcgraw-hill/

Portland Oregon Schools Refuse to Be Judged By Common Core Tests
http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/10/portland_public_schools_wont_f.html

Too Much Testing in Texas Schools
http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20141017-failing-grade-for-testing.ece

Former Utah Teacher of the Year, Now NEA President, Says Don’t Punish Educators With Test Scores
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58530434-78/eskelsen-utah-garcia-education.html.csp

Powerful Video Short: “Refuse the Tests”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ayYajsQjg8

Testing Mania and Uncle Sam’s Clumsy (Over)Reach
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rick_hess_straight_up/2014/10/testing_mania_and_uncle_sams_clumsy_reach.html

New Research: Grade Retention, Even in Kindergarten, Is Harmful to Children
http://educationbythenumbers.org/content/new-research-failing-students_2034/

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web-  http://www.fairtest.org

What about that High School Dropout Crisis?

Apparently the dropout rates among US high school students are at record LOWS, not highs, according to this article by the Pew research group:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/10/02/u-s-high-school-dropout-rate-reaches-record-low-driven-by-improvements-among-hispanics-blacks/

Published in: on October 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm  Comments (1)  

Kaya Henderson Really Doesn’t Know How to Run a School System

DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson told the city two days ago, “I want to be clear. We know what we need to do, and we have what it takes to get it done.”

That is patently untrue.

Even by her own yardsticks, namely test scores, Henderson and her kind of ‘reform’ has so far been a complete failure; Continuing the churn-and-test-prep regime won’t make it any better

As I wrote in a comment on the article in the Washington Post:

All of Henderson’s boasts of continuous progress are completely bogus. 
 
If you look at the scores on the DC-CAS for every single subgroup, you can see that they have stagnated since 2009, which was the year before Rhee, Kamras and Henderson implemented their trademark reforms (IMPACT, TLF, VAM “merit pay” and eliminating seniority protections for teachers). The gaps between white students and hispanic or black students have NOT narrowed since that time. There were some increases from 2006-2009, but it’s not clear how much of that was due to adults cheating, or simply because students and teachers were adapting to a brand-new test. (You may recall that the DC-CAS was administered for the very first time in 2006, and the percentages of kids deemed ‘proficient’ dropped quite a bit in comparison to what they were under the old test, especially in math.) 
 
Also: out of the 78 measurable goals set by Rhee and four large foundations, in order to earn that $64.5 million grant in 2009, the DCPS leadership has achieved a mere one and one-half of those goals (and I’m being generous with the one-half). That is a success rate of TWO PERCENT. 
 
In other words, Rhee and Henderson have an almost perfect record of failure, none of which is publicized by the media (esp. not WaPo editorial staff) but is easy to see if you look at the official OSSE statistics and are willing to dig a little bit.  
 
I’ve done some digging and have made some pretty easy-to-understand graphs showing how much Rhee and Henderson have failed. Look at my blog, gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com , and in particular at http://bit.ly/10mna8c , http://bit.ly/10mneEY , and http://bit.ly/1ptal1K . 
 
After you read those blog posts, can you explain to me why Kaya Henderson still has a job? It is so clear that mayoral control has been a complete failure!

Russ Walsh on the many failures of economists

http://russonreading.blogspot.com/2014/09/vams-stupid-economists-tricks.html?spref=fb&m=1

Russ Walsh does a good job skewering many of the ways that economists have failed to predict or prevent recessions and do an even worse job in thinking up fancy mathematical schemes that have nothing to do with the real world. He thinks that “value-added” is the worst of the lot.

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 6:26 am  Comments (1)  
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