Satirical ICE Recruitment Video from Michelle Wolf

Yes, *that* Michelle Wolf. It’s quite funny. Here is the link.

Published in: on July 23, 2018 at 6:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why Student Growth Percentiles Can’t Be Used To Attribute Cause

Jersey Jazzman explains why using SGPs neither helps figure out why poor students do worse, nor is a fair method for evaluating teachers.

The link is here.

Published in: on July 22, 2018 at 7:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

How do Putin’s Russia and Trump’s USA Compare?

A screenwriter whom I knew back in junior high school here in DC, and who, like me, was an anti-war activist back during Vietnam, and with whom I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree, wrote:

Retweeted Doug Henwood (@DougHenwood):

Anyone left of center who took the Russia paranoia seriously, look where it’s taking us. This is extremely bad news.

I replied as follows (edited by me for clarity and accuracy):


I cannot find any actual facts in that tweet. (And yes, I followed the link)

On the other hand, here are a few things that I think are objectively true, and a few that are my own opinion:*

the Russian government is… (1) oligarchical,

(2) a kleptocracy on every level,

(3) steals from its own people and rapes its environment for the benefit of a small group of billionaires,

(4) murders, muzzles, or imprisons people who dissent,

(5) supports friendly dictators abroad,

(6) builds and sells military weapons all over the world, and

(7) meddles in the internal affairs of foreign countries.

By contrast, the American government has recently been adjudged by experts (not me) as

(1) an oligarchy that systematically works for the benefit of a small wealthy class of businessmen to thwart the wishes of the majority,

(2) assassinates lots of people (mostly overseas; the murders of black men by police seems to be a local, not an explicitly national, policy),

(3) while the billionaires have been quite successful in breaking labor unions in the US and reducing wages for working people, we have had over time all sorts of vigorous [and sometimes somewhat successful] movements [which are now under hard attack from the current party in power] to preserve the rights of workers, consumers, and the environment,

(4) the US does in fact allow critics [for example, I’ve been to any number of anti-government demonstrations over the past 50 years and have only been arrested a couple of times for it, never beaten up by police; however, there have been plenty of times when the power of the State lined up firmly on the side of corporations to help break labor unions],

(5) supports friendly dictators abroad [of course proclaiming them to be lovers of freedom,

(6) builds and sells more weapons than anybody, and

(7) meddles in foreign elections and so forth [I recently saw a very long list of countries where the US had interfered with internal affairs or overthrew the government since WW1].

There are a couple of differences, though:

In many countries, you can’t get ANYTHING done at any level of government (from the head of state down to dog-catcher) without bribing somebody. That is not (yet) true in the US. However, it looks to me like Trump and his family are working hard to bring the US up to the level where our corruption is even higher than in Russia, China, India, the Philippines, or Nigeria. And 45 has certainly called for beating up protesters like myself, and praised corrupt, murderous foreign dictators like Putin and Duterte. However, there is still a lot more freedom of the press and assembly here than in the four countries I named!

Vive la resistance!


* which statements are fact, which are opinion? I type – you decide.

It wasn’t only in Weimar Germany….j

It wasn’t just in Germany in 1933.

Many other countries switched from having some form of democratic, representative government over to outright fascism at some point between WW1&2:












South Africa,


…Not to mention all the places where Axis forces invaded and installed fascist puppet leaders….

Many other countries, including the US, had very scary, violent, racist and fascist movements as well. (Edit: I was incorrect in stating that there were attempts at fascist coups in Australia & Canada. Apologies.)

Those days must have been even more terrifying than today.

Published in: on July 17, 2018 at 8:59 am  Comments (5)  

What DC Students Need to Know to Ride for Free on WMATA

This is from Valerie Jablow of Education DC:


New Cards For Kids Ride Free (Shhh: It’s A Secret)

by Valerie Jablow

Well, not really a secret–but it feels like that, as I just learned about the implementation of the revised free ride program for DC’s students not through my kids’ schools, but through an email from a parent who had heard word of mouth.

So, shout this information from the DC Department of Transportation from the rooftops (boldface below is mine):

“Students who use Metrorail, Metrobus, and DC Circulator to get to school and school-related activities need to obtain a new KRF SmarTrip card at a summer distribution event or when the next school year starts. Beginning October 1, 2018, students will no longer be able to use their DC One Cards to access public transportation. The new card will be separate from students’ DC One Card and will provide students with free transportation to school and school-related activities. The new SmarTrip card will provide students with free and immediate access to travel on Metrobus, Metrorail, and DC Circulator. Students will simply be required to tap their new KRF SmarTrip cards on all bus and rail trips.”

Below is the list of summer card events to which you can bring your child and his or her ID and get the ride free card (with the added caution of being told to check back at the website often, because these dates/locations/times are subject to change):

July 21, 9 am – 2 pm: Wilson High School, 3950 Chesapeake St NW

July 22, 2 pm – 7 pm: Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan, 215 G St NE

August 4, 9 am – 2 pm: Brightwood Education Campus, 1300 Nicholson Street NW

August 5, 1 pm – 6 pm: Dunbar High School, 101 N St NW

August 11, 9 am – 2 pm: Columbia Heights Ed. Campus, 3101 16th St NW

August 12, 1 pm – 6 pm: Ballou High School, 3401 4th St SE

August 18, 9 am – 4 pm: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt Vernon Place NW

August 19, 1 pm – 6 pm, District Department of Employment Services, 4058 Minnesota Ave NE

Registration for these summer events is on this website–note that students will also be able to get their new cards at their schools after the start of school as well, so if you and your child cannot make one of these summer events, you can obtain a new kids ride free pass at your child’s school during the new school year.

Questions? Call (202) 673-1740.

Valerie Jablow | July 16, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

Published in: on July 16, 2018 at 7:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Math Teacher’s Job is Neither to Teach the Lesson, Nor to Help Individual Students Who are Struggling!

….but rather, to prepare a lesson from which ALL the students can learn!

… according to the way that Japanese math teachers are taught their craft, as described below. You will find that these methods, which include Lesson Study, are pretty much the exact opposite of American “Direct Instruction” or “Teaching Like A Champion.”  Given that nobody claims that Japanese students lag behind American ones in math or science, perhaps we in the US could profit from examining how other nations’ teachers do it. Note also that this description is of mathematics lessons in elementary school, not middle or high school.

Please read the following description and leave comments on what you think.

From Tom McDougal. Lesson Study Alliance, Chicago [and brought to my attention by Jerry Becker. – GFB]
It’s not the teacher’s job to teach the students!

By Tom McDougal

What?? You might be thinking. What else could the teacher’s job be but to teach?

The teacher’s job is to ensure that students learn, all of them, we hope, though we know we will usually fall short.

In Japan, most (elementary) math lessons are designed as  “teaching through problem solving” lessons (TtP). A teaching through problem solving lesson typically includes the following parts:

1.  introduce the problem
2.  explicitly pose the task for students
3.  students work on the task (5-10 minutes)
4.  share student ideas
5.  compare and discuss the ideas for the purpose of learning new mathematics
6.  summarize major points from the lesson
7.  student reflections

(There is sometimes overlap, and a back-and-forth between some of these, e.g. #4 & #5 may be combined.)

While students are working on the task (#3), the teacher walks around the room, monitoring their progress. Japanese educators have a term for this, kikkan shido, or  “providing] guidance between the desks.” They recognize that there are different ways to do kikkan shido, and it is often a subject of discussion in Lesson Study. During planning, for example, a team will usually discuss how – or whether  – the teacher should respond to a student who exhibits a particular misconception; during the post-lesson discussion, there may be argument about whether the kikkan shido was effective. And, it is considered a skill that new teachers need to develop.

Teachers who are inexperienced with TtP lessons often make an unfortunate error while doing kikkan shido: they see a student who is struggling, or who has done something wrong, and they stop and help that student. After several minutes the teacher moves on, encounters another student who is having trouble, helps that student, and so on. Then, suddenly, time is up, and the lesson ends.

There are at least four important drawbacks to this type of kikkan shido. First, as my description suggests, it uses up a lot of time. The teacher may never get around to all of the students, and other students who need help may never get it. Second, by addressing misconceptions privately rather than publicly, the teacher deprives other students of the opportunity to analyze those misconceptions and learn why they are incorrect. Any experienced teacher knows that certain misconceptions are very common, so when one student makes an error that stems from a common misconception, that offers an opportunity to “inoculate” other students against making the same error sometime later.

The third problem with tutoring students individually is that it conflicts with the whole premise of teaching through problem solving. You expect that some, or even all, of the students will have difficulty with the task; that’s why it’s called “problem solving” and not “practice.” Teaching through problem solving involves an expectation that students will have difficulty, but that the comparison and discussion phase will address their difficulties and that, by the end of the lesson, all (or almost all) of the students will have learned what they need to know.

And fourth, we want to help students learn to give viable arguments and to critique the reasoning of others, the third Standard for Mathematical Practice in the Common Core State Standards. To accomplish this, we need for students to share and discuss different, perhaps conflicting solutions. Students need to do the critiquing, not the teacher.

Of course, some errors are simply the result of sloppiness, or otherwise unrelated to the main learning goals of the lesson. So when the teacher sees an error while conducting kikkan shido, he or she has to decide: should this be addressed privately or publicly? What should I say to this student? Do I expect that, by the end of the lesson, this student will understand what he or she has done wrong? This is a tricky decision, and an important part of lesson planning is anticipating different student responses, correct and incorrect, and deciding ahead of time how to handle them.

Caring teachers naturally feel drawn to help struggling students: they feel like it is their duty to help those students right now. To counteract that impulse, I say, bluntly:

It is not the teacher’s job to teach the students. It’s the teacher’s job to create a lesson that teaches the students.


Peter Greene Explains Why It’s Important to Keep Protesting DeVos et al

From Curmudgucation:


Why Protest Betsy

Posted: 14 Jul 2018 04:12 PM PDT

This Monday, Betsy DeVos will be touring a public school in Erie, Pennsylvania (it’s an ironic choice, considering how badly Erie’s schools have suffered from “choice” and other nifty reform policies). This means that lots of pro-public education folks are mobilizing to make a strong, vocal, public protest in her immediate vicinity. And a lot of other people will be asking the question, “Why bother?’

It’s a valid question. And look– here are some of the things that are not going to happen as a result of this or any other protest:

DeVos is not going to say, “Dang! Look at all; these protestors! All right! You win! I’m going to change the policies I’ve previously supported because you guys just talked me into it.”

DeVos is not going to go home and think, “You know, one of the things I heard shouted at me, or one of the posters I saw, made me rethink some of the philosophical premises on which I’ve based my entire lifetime of anti-public ed activism. I think I shall change my ways.”

Neither DeVos nor any other member of this administration is going to think, “This is just awful. I’m so ashamed. I’m going to quit.”

DeVos is not going to stop and think, “You know– I really should just sit down and listen to these people. They might have a valid point.”

And no DeVos nor Trump supporter will feel one iota less supportive at the end of the day than at the beginning.

So why bother?

DeVos will dismiss the protestors as protectors of the status quo, opponents of Good Change, and generally awful people. She will connect education protests to one of the over-arching narratives of this administration, that only some people are the Real America, and Those Other People are not. That only Real Americans deserve to receive the blessings of this nation, and that the others should stay in their proper place, silent and compliant.

So why bother?

I can offer several reasons.

First, because the alternative is a small or non-existent protest, which allows the administration to push the story that they already try to make live as a lie– there just aren’t that many people who care, aren’t that many people who oppose Trump and DeVos and the rest. The opposition is weak and tiny and can safely be ignored or mocked. If nobody shows up to protest, then the feds get to share photos of empty streets and the rest of America shrugs and says, “Well, yeah– I guess there really isn’t anyone who’s all that upset with the current trends.”

Second, because cognitive dissonance is taxing. Many have noted the DeVosian smirk. It’s a smirk that says, “I don’t really have to listen to any of this. I’m above this. None of it matters. None of it is real.” It’s the look of someone who must filter out the evidence of her own eyes and ears in order to maintain her own view of what is happening. This is the work of dampening cognitive dissonance, and as someone who has played that game before, it is tiring. Filtering out all the protestors is tiring. Maintaining the fiction that you are on a mission from God and wise people recognize it and are grateful to you for stooping to better their sad lives– that’s tiring. I don’t believe we can get DeVos to change to another track, but I believe we can make it cost to her to hold to the one she’s on. When voices get really really loud, you can only block them out by stuffing so much cotton in your ears that it hurts.

Third, if there’s one thing I’ve learned writing this blog, it’s that pro-public ed folks, people who have invested their hearts and souls in one of the US’s greatest and most important institutions, feel isolated. When you are constantly told that up is down and white is black and that standardized tests are the best measure of children and teachers, you start to doubt yourself. When something is not right, it’s important for people to stand together and say, “This is not right.” It’s important for them to be able to look around and see that they are not alone, that they are surrounded by thousands of people who see what they see. And all the people who can’t be there, but watch from elsewhere get that same benefit. Teachers from all across the country can look at pictures of a protest and think, “Wow. It’s not just me.”

Fourth– collateral leverage. DeVos’s visit is being handled by Mike Kelly, a GOP Representative who is in a tight race and deserves to be defeated for so many reasons. If he’s hoping that a visit from a high-ranking DC secretary will help him out, he deserves to learn otherwise.

Henry David Thoreau in his essay “Civil Disobedience” encouraged us to be friction in the machine, like sand dropped into gears. We may not make the machine stop today. We may not end its movement right now. But we make harder to keep grinding away, and that wears it down and brings about its eventual collapse. I believe as an absolute rule in life that you are always either getting better or getting worse, making things better or helping them fall apart. There is no standing still.

My wife and I can’t be there Monday (we are visiting family in Seattle– no doubt DeVos deliberately waited till we were going to be out of town), but if you’re anywhere near Erie, you should go. Yes, it will be hard to park, and crowded and messy, and somebody may even stand up and say something stupid that you disagree with. But it’s important to be there, to be visible, to be heard. Years from now you don’t want to be explaining to someone, “Yeah, I knew it was wrong, but I stayed home and didn’t speak up.” Public education has been under attack for too long in this country, and people have been too quiet about it. The time to stand up and speak up is now. No, it’s not going to suddenly make everything better if you stand up and speak up, but the alternative is to step back and watch it get worse.

Speak out and rally begins at 1:00 on Monday, July 16, outside Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary School, 235 East 11th Street in Erie PA.

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Published in: on July 15, 2018 at 5:31 pm  Comments (2)  

Erich Martel’s Letter to WaPo Editor on Choosing the New DCPS Chancellor

FYI – The following letter is on the Washington Post website, July 8th.

I [Erich Martel] wrote it in response to and to protest stacking of the chancellor search committee with special interest foundations, etc.

The following hyperlink goes to three redacted Friendship Collegiate Charter student transcripts that the CEO submitted in testimony to the DC State Board of Education.  All three have missing mandatory courses and inflated course credit values.  Yet, with no audit of DC charter high schools, Mayor Bowser added a Friendship Charter official to chancellor advisory committee.

inflated credit values

Erich Martel

Retired DCPS high school teacher

=      =      =      =      =

A poor start to the search for a new D.C. schools chancellor

By Erich Martel  July 8, 2018 at 7:23 PM

Regarding the June 29 Metro article “Mayor launches search for next public schools chancellor”:

When selecting a new D.C. schools chancellor, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) should comply with the law. Ms. Bowser’s appointment of university, charter and foundation officials, plus the former deputy mayor for education, to the “Our Schools Leadership Committee” violates the 2007 Public Education Reform Amendment Act , which limits members of “a review panel . . . to aid the Mayor . . . in selecting a Chancellor” to “teachers, including representatives of the Washington Teachers Union, parents, and students.” Despite a decade of scandals and failed education policies, those largely responsible will pick the next chancellor: the former deputy mayor for education responsible for plagiarizing the school reform plan and ignoring the review process in selecting Michelle Rhee; a director of the DC Public Education Fund, which has channeled tens of millions of dollars in foundation grants to D.C. Public Schools to adopt untested and ineffective teacher evaluation, bonus and school closure initiatives without prior council review.

Although an independent audit of charter school graduation records is overdue, the mayor chose an official of Friendship Public Charter, despite public documentation that Friendship’s Collegiate Academy issued diplomas with inflated credit values and missing graduation requirements in U.S. history and World History 2; and the public resignation, reported in these pages, of a Friendship Tech Prep teacher when pressured to raise failing math grades.

Ms. Bowser should comply with the law.

Erich Martel, Washington

Published in: on July 14, 2018 at 8:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gadsden Flag Hypocrisy

Steven Singer analyzes the (fascist) nuttiness behind those who fly the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag.

Here is the link.

Published in: on July 12, 2018 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

HoldinG Bill Gates Accountable?

As you may have heard, once again, Bill Gates’ latest half-billion-dollar education innovation (implemented in DC and elsewhere) failed.

This initiative entailed the firings of thousands of teachers, many of them black, and creating a perpetual churn in DC Public Schools which has harmed teachers, parents, and administrators.

Gates never admits fault and is never held to account for his failures.

Veteran educator Larry Cuban asks how the public could hold Gates and other philanthropists accountable for the damage they have caused.

Published in: on July 12, 2018 at 11:56 am  Comments (1)  
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