An inspiring interview with Diane Ravitch

Read it here.

A quote:

[Interviewer]: My biggest disappointment with Barack Obama is his education policy. He had Linda Darling-Hammond as his consultant during the 2008 election, and we get Arne Duncan.

[Diane Ravitch]: That was bait and switch. The greatest disappointment of this entire situation, which I consider to be a direct assault on the very principle of public education in America, is Barack Obama. In the state of the union, the president said that he didn’t want teaching to the test, but he wants teachers who don’t get the test marks to be ousted. He pretends to be completely detached and almost as though he doesn’t know what Arne Duncan is doing. Arne Duncan is doing what Barack Obama wants him to do, and they are doing what the Wall Street hedge-fund managers want them to do. They are pushing a privatization agenda, there’s no question about it. Obama always said if the unions were under assault, he would put on those walking shoes. Did you see him in Madison, Wisconsin? I didn’t. In fact, I was in Madison, Wisconsin to speak at the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, and I happened to be there right in the middle of that great demonstration. On Twitter I was exchanging tweets with Justin Hamilton, Duncan’s press secretary at the time, and I challenged him to march together around the State House. Arne and the president were in Miami with Jeb Bush celebrating the turn-around of Miami Public High School, which in a month received notice it was going to be closed. I mean, it was all a sham. We are surrounded by so many frauds, hoaxes, and shams. Arne has been a leader in perpetuating the hoaxes, and the president has been right there by his side. Arne Duncan is a guy who’s dedicated to persuading people that Michelle Rhee is right. He’s the worst Secretary of Education in our history.

More from Whistleblower Adell Cothorne and Mercedes Schneider

Published in: on April 3, 2015 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Do international test scores matter?

this is from Diane Ravitch:

Published in: on April 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Diagnosing a very sick teacher

Write ABOVE THIS LINE to post a reply or view this on Basecamp

Dave Greene Dave Greene posted a comment about this message on Basecamp.


Yes. I have to pass along this comment I received. Wonderful piece.

Harris Lirtzman*said:*

April 2, 2015 at 4:19 PM

Mr. Greene:

I can assure you that I have analyzed your very peculiar case with all the
professional care and diligence required.

I have made the following diagnosis:

1. You taught in public schools during a period where income inequality and
poverty were ‘reproduced’ very effectively by social structures guaranteed
to propagate a rigid pattern of academic performance differences correlated
deeply with class and race. 2. During that period there was a weak social
consensus that public schools with high proportions of students from
communities with indicators of higher poverty would receive greater
resources (i.e., federal Title 1 funds).

3. Beginning in the late 1980s and accelerating rapidly through the early
2000s, that consensus was shattered by the collapse of the ‘moderate’ wings
of both major political parties and the rise of a group of ‘new
philanthropists’ who no longer used their wealth to promote social welfare
but to create organizations using only ‘data-driven’ measurement and
results to assess ‘success.’

4. During this same period, an oligarchical libertarianism based on the
theories of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand took over the center-right
research foundations, promoting various forms of ‘market choice’ as the
only way to ‘improve’ public schools.

5. During the 2000s, a series of international testing regimens ranked
American students as mediocre achievers setting off a moral panic used by
the new philanthropists and libertarian social researchers to justify rapid
change in the American public sector.

6. A unified group of wealthy contributors and organizations captured the
leadership of both political parties by using that panic to promote
untested theories about ‘failing’ public schools that could be ‘saved’ by
blaming teachers and imposing top-down ‘reform strategies’ that would be
‘cost-free’ to government and society, which could then be absolved from
any concerns about student and family poverty and reducing vast disparities
among communities.

I have made the following prognosis:

1. You retired from the profession at a propitious moment.

2. However, you suffer from a neurosis that is common among current and
former public school teachers who have not accommodated themselves to the
the ‘new paradigm.’

3. Your neurosis expresses itself in a constant need to ask questions,
challenge unreasonable assumptions and doubt the wisdom of the oligarchs,
libertarians, fraudulent researchers and government leaders who now control
social and educational public policy-making.

I suggest the following course of treatment:

1. A prolonged course of behavior modification using a version of the
‘Ludivico ‘Technique’ form of aversion therapy demonstrated so effectively
by a Mr. Anthony Burgess in his research study called ”A Clockwork Orange”
by watching “Waiting For Superman” until your corneas dissolve.

2. An extended period during which you read no book, article or blog that
offers any reasoned critique of the education reform paradigm.

3. That you state out loud three times, three times a day two mantra-like
formulations know to reduce anxiety among disaffected social observers like
yourself: ‘I live in the best of all possible worlds’ and ‘Market choice
theory’ is the best of all possible philosophies.’

Respectfully yours,

Dr. Harris M. Lirtzman Department of Educational Self-Delusion The
Gates-Walton University for Social-Science Construction

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Published in: on April 2, 2015 at 3:28 pm  Comments (1)  

ISIS and the KKK

This image recently was shared on Facebook, including by me.

racist kkk and isis

The text says, “No one thinks that these people” [a bunch of white-robed and -hooded KKK members in a black-and-white photograph with an American flag] ” are representative of Christians.” The text continues:

“So why do so many think that these people” [a bunch of black-clad ISIS members with what appear to be suicide belts around their middles] “{are representative of Muslims?”

Good question, I say.

One reason is that those Kluxers were in fact representative of many, many millions of white, racist, American, segregationist Christians from about 50-200 years ago. I am not exaggerating in the slightest. Almost all of the lynchings of blacks, anti-racist whites, and union organizers; and massacres of Indians; and slave-whippings promoted by the KKK were in fact committed by official government forces and by unofficial vigilantes or hired guns, and were generally condoned by Federal law and practices and by a majority of white public opinion at various times.But even then there were minorities of whites in the US who opposed that sort of horrible racism, often putting themselves in personal danger by doing so.

Those of us who marched or otherwise struggled against racism over the past 60 years in this country recall how scary it often was. I am certainly glad that we have come to the point that anybody espousing flat-out racism and intolerance is publicly shamed, but it took a heck of a long struggle to get there. And let us not forget how much the development of American capitalism depended on slavery. For details on that, I recommend reading The Half Has Never Been Told … See here for a low-key introduction by the author, Ed Baptist.

Right now in most of the middle east, it is often extremely dangerous to oppose sectarian religious massacres or to propose rationalist or humanist positions on almost anything. Thugs of one type or another run the show in every single country. Under Saddam (another murderous thug who was supported by the US until he wasn’t), Sunni and Shia at least lived together peacefully. After the American invasion of 2003, every single city and neighborhood has been ethnically cleansed of the minority groups who used to live there, and hundreds of thousands died.

Despite often-lofty rhetoric about peace and democracy from our official representatives (think Clinton, Powell, Obama) and discounting all the nasty bravadoccio of people like Cheney, Bush, et al, nothing the US has done in the middle east has had the effect of promoting tolerance or of allowing people of different religious faiths or ethnicities to live together peacefully. In fact, we are finally being told even in WaPo and NYT that the governments we have put into office and supported for over a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan have been some of the most corrupt and murderous regimes on the face of the planet.

The Taliban and ISIS are certainly murderous and intolerant, but at least they appear to be honest, which gives them considerable support…

Published in: on March 30, 2015 at 8:10 am  Comments (1)  

Why the real “Mr Fitz” keeps teaching

You may know that “Mr Fitz” is a weekday comic strip about what it’s like to teach in a modernday public school. You may not know that the author is a real-live English teacher, and he has a lot to say about the modern-day “Reform” movement in education (nothing positive) and about why he keeps teaching.

Here is his column:

Published in: on March 27, 2015 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  

More Testing Resistance

From Bob Schaeffer:

The testing resistance continues to expand rapidly across the U.S. with assessment reform news updates from two dozen states in just the past four days. 

 Senate Takes Up Bill Establishing Opt-Out Procedures

Charter Schools See Rise in Test Opt Outs

Connecticut Testing: The Truth About Smarter Balanced

District of Columbia
 Test-and-Punish Policies Have Not Worked

Assessment Reform Movement is Test for Jeb Bush Presidential Aspirations
State Senate Bill Would Examine Testing Fallout

Georgia School Testing Still Does Not Make the Grade

 Schools Drop Arts, Music for Testing

Educators Seek Three-Year “Hold Harmless” Period From Any New Test Evaluations
Louisiana Parish Topped 15% Opt Outs

District Reports More Than 50% Opt Outs

Maryland Test Study Commission Approved by Both Houses of State Legislature

Massachusetts Educators Explain How Testing is Undermining Learning and Teaching

 Parents Reject State Tests to Reduce Pressure on Kids
Kalamazoo College Goes ACT/SAT Optional

New Jersey 
Testing Obsession is Damaging Learning and Teaching
Educators, Parents and Students Plan “Take Back the PARCC” Event

New Mexico 
PARCC Protest at School Chief’s House
New Mexico Teachers Question Times Devoted to Testing

New York 
Billionaires’ Plan to Remake Public Education
New York Governor Uses Flawed Tests as Political Weapon

North Dakota 
Opt-Out Movement Heats Up

 Superintendent “Profoundly Concerned About New Common Core Tests”
Excessive Testing Consumes Learning Time in Ohio

Oklahoma Teachers Slam Emphasis on State Tests

House Passes Bill to Suspend Test Consequences for Teachers and Schools

Pennsylvania “Test In” Shows Parents, Teachers Question Value of New Exams

Rhode Island 
Districts Have Large Numbers of Opt Outs

Texas Common Core Tests Are a Failure
Texans Advocating for Meaningful Assessment (aka Mothers Against Drunk Testing) Powerpoint

 State Board Will Not Use Smarter Balanced Scores to Evaluate Schools This Year

Virginia Governor Signs Bill Into Law Repealing A-F Grades

Test Security vs Privacy in the Social Media Age

New Video “Defies Measurement” Available for Free

Parents of Disabled Children Tell National Groups: “You Do Not Speak for Our Children”

“No Child Left Behind” Is a Cheats’ Charter

The Cult-Like Religion of Corporate Ed Reform

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773  fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468


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Published in: on March 27, 2015 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Will eating meat really kill you?

A number of recent press blurbs claim that recent studies have proved that eating meat in any form will definitely kill you and take years off your life.

You can read an excellent analysis casting much doubt on those studies here.

If you don’t want to read that anlysis, here is the gist of it: these Meat-Kills studies are NOT based on actual, controlled experimental studies with two groups of people whose food intake and other habits are actually measured and whose outcomes are measured.

Instead, they are based on people writing down what they THINK they ate over the past four years. And unfortunately, most of us have a hard time remembering what we ate yesterday, much less a week ago. The chances of someone remembering accurately what they ate over a period of four years is … about zero. Plus, people generally lie on questionnaires like this. They over-report the amount of exercise they do and the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat, and under-report the amount of sweets, alcohol, red meat, and junk food that they consume.

Another problem with this ‘study’ is that the folks who claimed they did eat red meat or items like salami and hot dogs also claimed that they smoked more tobacco, were less physically active, and ate about twice the number of calories per day as the folks who claimed they did not eat red meat. We know for a fact that smoking cigarettes  WILL kill you.

So, if the folks in the study were telling the truth, could the real culprit be something other than the meat? We won’t know until someone does a better experimental, controlled study.

Published in: on March 25, 2015 at 9:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Visiting 18 DC schools in 90 days to try to figure out which 12 to put on the lottery application 

An account by an experienced education reporter of trying to navigate DC’s complex new application process for her son.

She says that the entire process is heavily weighted towards wealthier families…

Published in: on March 24, 2015 at 12:33 pm  Comments (1)  

Resisting the Testing Juggernaut

This is from Bob Schaeffer:

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: “Bob Schaeffer [EDDRA2]” <>
Normally, FairTest sends out these news clips summaries once a week, early each Tuesday afternoon. With school standardized exam season now in full gear, however, the flow of stories about testing resistance and reform actions is accelerating rapidly. This special edition  — with updates from more than half the 50 states over just three days — reports on the first, too-modest steps by policy makers across the U.S. to respond to the growing grassroots pressure for assessment reform.

As more students opt out, parents demonstrate, school board members pass resolutions and polls show strong public opposition to test misuse and overuse, we are confident that there will be many more updates by next Tuesday and in the coming weeks.

Remember that back-issues of “Testing Resistance & Reform News” are archived at:

National Revolt Against High-Stakes Testing is Growing: So Is Its Impact

School Test Cheating Investigated

Tests Graded by Non-Educators

Educators Blast Weak Education Reform Bill
Colorado Schools Need Less Testing, More Teaching

Superintendents Say Students Can Opt Out of Tests, No “Sit and Stare”

Teacher Urges Parents to Stand Up Against New State Exams
Florida House Unanimously Endorses Small Reduction in Testing Overkill

Parents Launch Opt-Out Drive

Illinois Students Opt Out of PARCC Tests

Indiana State School Board Member Offers Ideas to Cut Testing Time

Louisiana Opt Outs Top 4,000

Maryland State Senate Votes Unanimous Approval of Test Review Commission

Massachusetts Schools Deal with PARCC, Pearson and Pushback
Teachers Say PARCC Is Failing Students and Schools

Michigan Testing Politics Adds Stress for Students and Teachers

Assessment Reform Depends in Part on Federal Law Changes
Minnesota Students Face Too Much Testing

Mississippi Ends Graduation Testing Requirement
Mississippi Parents, Students Protest PARCC Tests

New Hampshire
Students Administered Wrong Smarter Balanced Assessment

New Jersey
Furor Over Test Privacy
Concern Mounting About Pearson’s Role in Education

New Mexico
Educators Block Test-Based Teacher Evaluation Bill
New Mexico Teachers Not Allowed to “Disparage” Standardized Tests

New York
Is Testing Public Education to Death
New York Must Clear Up Mystery of Missing Test Items

High School Students Opt Out of New Tests
Ohio School District Blasts PARCC Exam

Oregon Schools Begin Testing Under Protests; More Families Opt Out
Scores From New Oregon Test Will Not Be Used on School Report Cards

Pennsylvania‘s PARCC Tests Benefit Pearson, Not Pupils

Rhode Island
Parents Mobilizing Against New Standardized Test

Tennessee Voters Overwhelmingly Oppose School Closings Based on Test Scores

State Senate Overwhelmingly Endorses Bill Easing Graduation Testing Requirement

Utah‘s New Civics Test Will Waste Student Learning Time

Senate Endorses Suspension of School Consequences From Test Scores

No Child Left Behind Fails to Work “Miracles” — Spurs Cheating

Ditch the Test and Punish Model: AFT President

What if “Education Reform” Movement Got It All Wrong?

More Testing Promoted as the “Rational Solution” for Schools: That’s the Problem

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468

Published in: on March 20, 2015 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

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