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.

Listing of Educational Bloggers

This is a list of the blogs maintained at the present time by some fellow-activist teachers and others.

Enjoy!

BLOGGER NAME BLOG NAME BLOG WEBSITE
A Teacher on Teaching A Teacher on Teaching http://ateacheronteaching.blogspot.com/
Aaron Barlow Aaron Barlow http://academeblog.org/author/aaronbarlow/ or http://audsandens.blogspot.com/
Accountable Talk Accountable Talk http://www.accountabletalk.com/
Adam Bessie Automated Teaching Machine http://adambessie.com/
Alan Singer Alan Singer http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/
Alexandra Miletta Alexandra Miletta http://alexandramiletta.blogspot.com
Alice Mercer Reflections on Teaching http://mizmercer.edublogs.org
Allan Jones Allan Jones https://www.facebook.com/groups/1398276720427252/
Amy Moore Amy Moore http://www.desmoinesregister.com/topic/065294af-047d-4b86-beb4-0d401eb82096/
Andy Spears Tennessee Education Report http://tnedreport.com/
Ani McHugh Teacherbiz http://teacherbiz.wordpress.com
Ann Policelli Cronin Ann Policelli Cronin http://reallearningct.com/
Anne Tenaglia Teacher’s Lessons Learned http://teacherslessonslearned.blogspot.com/
Anthony Cody Anthony Cody http://www.livingindialogue.com/
Arthur Getzel The Public Educator (aka liberalteacher) http://thepubliceducator.com/
Arthur Goldstein NYCEducator http://nyceducator.com/
Arthur H. Camins Arthur H. Camins http://www.arthurcamins.com/
Audrey Amrein-Beardsley VAMboozled http://vamboozled.com/
Aurelio M. Montemayor Parent Leadership in Education http://parentleadershipined.blogspot.com/
Badass Teachers Association (Marla Kilfoyle, Melissa Tomlinson) Badass Teachers Association http://badassteachers.blogspot.com/ and http://www.badassteacher.org/
Barbara Madeloni Educators for a Democratic Union http://www.educatorsforademocraticunion.com/
Barbara McClanahan readingdoc http://readingdoc.wordpress.com/
Betsy Combier Parent Advocatees http://www.parentadvocates.org/
Big Education Ape Big Education Ape http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/
Bill Betzen School Achieve Project http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/
Bill Boyle Educarenow http://educarenow.wordpress.com/
Bob Sikes Scathing Purple Musings http://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/
Bob Valiant Defend-Ed http://defend-ed.org/
Bonnie Cunard Continuing Change http://gatorbonbc.wordpress.com/ orhttp://bonniecunardmargolin.weebly.com/
Bonny Buffington BBBloviations http://www.bbbloviations.blogspot.com/
Brett Bymaster Stop Rocketship http://www.stoprocketship.com
Brett Dickerson Life At the Intersections http://www.brettdickerson.net/
Brian Cohen Making the grade blog http://www.bncohen.com/
Brian Redmond rsbandman http://rsbandman.wordpress.com
Bruce Baker School Finance 101 http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/
Bruce Bowers Reflections on teaching and learning www.tremphil.com
Carol Burris Carol Burris http://roundtheinkwell.com/ and Answer Sheet
Chaz Chaz’s School Daze http://chaz11.blogspot.com/
Chris Cerrone Children should not be a number http://www.nystoptesting.com/
Chris Guerrieri Jaxkidsmatter http://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/
Chris Thinnes Chris Thinnes http://chris.thinnes.me
Christian Goering Edusanity http://www.edusanity.com/
Christopher Martell On Social Studies and Education http://christophermartell.blogspot.com
Christopher Tienken Christopher Tienken http://christienken.com/blog/
Christopher Wooleyhand Common Sense School Leadership http://christopherwooleyhand.edublogs.org
Claudia Swisher Claudia Swisher http://fourthgenerationteacher.blogspot.com/
Cynthia Liu K12NN News Network http://k12newsnetwork.com/
Dan McConnell Truth and Consequences http://dan-mcconnell.blogspot.com/
Daniel Katz Daniel Katz http://danielskatz.net/
Darcie Cimarusti Mother Crusader http://mothercrusader.blogspot.com/
David Chura Kids in the System http://kidsinthesystem.wordpress.com/
David Cohen InterACT:  Accomplished California Teacher http://accomplishedcaliforniateachers.wordpress.com/
David Ellison A Teacher’s Mark’s http://ateachersmarks.blogspot.com/
David Greene DCG MENTORING https://dcgmentor.wordpress.com 
Debbie Forward PFF Faculty Lounge http://pfffacultylounge.wordpress.com/
Deborah McCallum Big Ideas in Education http://bigideasineducation.ca/
Deborah Meier Deborah Meier http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
Demian Godon Reconsidering TFA https://reconsideringtfa.wordpress.com/
Derek Black Education Law Prof Blog http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/education_law/
Diane Aoki The Teacher I Want to Be http://dianeaoki.blogspot.com/
Diane Ravitch Diane Ravitch http://dianeravitch.net
DOE Nutes DOE Nuts Blog http://nycdoenuts.blogspot.com/
Don Russell Lifting The Curtain http://liftingthecurtainoneducation.wordpress.com/
Dora Taylor Seattle Education http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/
Doug Martin Doug Martin http://www.schoolsmatter.info/ 
Edward Berger Edward Berger http://edwardfberger.com/
Elizabeth Rose Yo Miz http://yomizthebook.com/
Francesco Portelos Educator Fights Back  or Don’t Tread on Educators http://dtoe.org/ or http://protectportelos.org/
Fred Klonsky Fred Klonsky http://preaprez.wordpress.com/
Gary Rubinstein Gary Rubinstein https://garyrubinstein.wordpress.com/
Gene Glass Education in Two Words http://ed2worlds.blogspot.com/
George Schmidt Substance News http://www.substancenews.net/
George Wood George Wood http://www.essentialschools.org/
Gerri Songer Gerri Song http://gerriksonger.wordpress.com/
Glen Brown Teacher Poet Musician http://teacherpoetmusicianglenbrown.blogspot.com/
Good Morning Art Teacher Good Morning Art Teacher http://goodmorningartteacher.blogspot.com/
Greg Mild Plumberbund http://www.plunderbund.com/
Guy Brandenburg Guy Brandenburg https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/
Helen Gym Philadelphia Public School Notebook http://thenotebook.org/blog
Jack McKay Horace Mann League Blog http://blog.hmleague.org/
James Arnold Dr. James Arnold http://drjamesarnold.blogspot.com/
James Avington Miller, Jr The War Report on Public Education http://thewarreportonpubliceducation.wordpress.com and http://bbsradio.com/thewarreport
James Boutin An Urban Teachers Education http://www.anurbanteacherseducation.com/
James Chascherrie Stop Common Core in Washington State http://stopcommoncorewa.wordpress.com/
James Hamric Hammy’s Education Blog http://edreformblog.wordpress.com/
Jan Resseger Jan Resseger http://janresseger.wordpress.com/
Jane Nixon Willis Staying Strong in School http://stayingstronginschool.blogspot.com/
Jason France Crazy Crawfish http://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/
Jason L. Endacott EduSanity http://www.edusanity.com/
Jason Stanford Jason Stanford http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-stanford/
Jeff Bryant Jeff Bryant http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/
Jen Hogue V.A.M. It! http://valueaddedmeasureit.blogspot.com/
Jennifer Berkshire EduShyster http://edushyster.com/
Jesse Hagopian Jesse Hagopian http://iamaneducator.com/
Jessie Ramey Yinzercation http://yinzercation.wordpress.com/
Jill Conroy The Indignant Teacher http://theindignantteacher.wordpress.com/
Jo Lieb Poetic Justice http://poeticjusticect.com/
Joe Bower For the love of learning http://www.joebower.org/
John J. Viall A Teacher on Teaching http://ateacheronteaching.blogspot.com/
John Kuhn EdGator https://edgator.com
John Young Transparent Christina http://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/
Jonathan Lovell Jonathan Lovell’s Blog http://jonathanlovell.blogspot.com/
Jonathan Pelto Wait, What? http://jonathanpelto.com/
Jose Vilson Jose Vilson http://thejosevilson.com/
Joshua Block Joshua Block http://mrjblock.com/
Julian Vasquez Heilig Cloaking Inquity http://cloakinginequity.com/
Justin Aion Relearning to Teach http://relearningtoteach.blogspot.com/
Karren Harper Royal Edutalknola http://edutalknola.com/
Katie Lapham Critical Classrooms https://criticalclassrooms.wordpress.com/
Ken Derstine Defend Public Education http://www.defendpubliceducation.net/
Ken Previti Reclaim Reform http://reclaimreform.com/
Kenneth Bernstein Teacher Ken http://www.dailykos.com/user/teacherken
Kevin Welner Kevin Welner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-welner/ andhttp://nepc.colorado.edu
Lani Cox The Missing Teacher http://lanivcox.blogspot.com/
Larry Cuban Larry Cuban http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/
Larry Feinberg Keystone State Education Coalition http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.blogspot.com/
Lee Barrios Geauxteacher http://www.geauxteacher.net/
Leonard Isenberg Perdaily http://www.perdaily.com/
Leonie Haimson Class Size Matters http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/
Levi B Cavener Idahospromise http://idahospromise.org/
Linda Thomas Restore Reason http://restorereason.com/
Lisa Guisbond Fairtest http://www.fairtest.org/
Lloyd Lofthouse Crazy Normal the classroom expose http://crazynormaltheclassroomexpose.com/  or http://lloydlofthouse.org/
Lucianna Sanson The War Report on Public Education https://thewarreportonpubliceducation.wordpress.com/
M. Shannon Hernandez My Final 40 Days http://myfinal40days.com/
Maria Rosa THE INSURGENT TEACHER BLOG http://theinsurgentteacher.blogspot.com/
Marie Corfield Marie Corfield http://mcorfield.blogspot.com/
Marion Brady Marion Brady http://www.marionbrady.com/
Mark Naison With a Brooklyn Accent and Dump Duncan http://withabrooklynaccent.blogspot.com/ and http://dumpduncan.org/
Mark Weber Jersey Jazzman http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/
Martha Infante Martha Infante http://dontforgetsouthcentral.blogspot.com/
Matt Farmer Matt Farmer http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-farmer/
Mel Katz The Education Activist: From Student to Teacher https://theeducationactivist.wordpress.com/
Melissa Westbrook Seattle Schools Community Forum http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/
Mercedes Schneider Deutsch29 http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/
Michael Klonsky Michael Klonsky http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/ and http://schoolingintheownershipsociety.blogspot.com/
Michelle Gunderson Education Matters https://www.facebook.com/michelle.gunderson.education.matters
Mike Deshotels Louisiana Educator http://louisianaeducator.blogspot.com/
Mike Rose Mike Rose’s Blog http://mikerosebooks.blogspot.com
Mike Warner Education Under Attack http://educationunderattack.info/
Minnsanity Minnsanity http://minnsanity.wordpress.com/
Morna McDermott Education Alchemy http://www.educationalchemy.com/
Mrs. Fanning LA Woman http://fanninglawoman.blogspot.com/
Ms Kate Ms Katie’s Ramblings http://mskatiesramblings.blogspot.com/
Nancy Bailey Nancy Bailey’s Education Website http://nancyebailey.com/
Nancy Flanagan Teacher in a Strange Land http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teacher_in_a_strange_land/
Nicholas Tampio Nicholas Tampio http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicholas-tampio/
Nikhil Goyal Nikhil Goyal http://nikhilgoyal.me/
Norm Scott Ed Notes Online http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/
Ogo Okoye-Johnson Ogo Okoye-Johnson http://ogookoye-johnson.net/
OK Education Truth okeducationtruths http://okeducationtruths.wordpress.com/
Outside The Box Outside the Box http://teacher-anon.blogspot.com/ 
Patrick Walsh http://raginghorse.wordpress.com/
Paul Horton Education News http://www.educationviews.org/author/paulh/
Paul Thomas The becoming radical http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/
Peggy Robertson Peg with Pen http://www.pegwithpen.com/
Perdido St School Perdido St School http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/
Peter DeWitt Peter DeWitt http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/
Peter Goodman Ed in the Apple http://mets2006.wordpress.com/
Peter Greene Curmudgucation http://www.curmudgucation.blogspot.com/
Phillip Cantor Sustainable Education Transformation http://phillipcantor.com/
Rachael Stickland Student Privacy Matters http://www.studentprivacymatters.org/
Rachel Levy All Things Education http://allthingsedu.blogspot.com/
Ralph Ratto Opine I will http://rlratto.wordpress.com/
Ray Salazar The White Rino http://www.chicagonow.com/white-rhino
Rob Miller View From the Edge http://www.viewfromtheedge.net/
Rob Panning-Miller Public Education Justice Alliance of Minnesota http://pejamn.blogspot.com/
Robert Cotto Jr. The Cities, Suburbs & Schools Project http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/
Robert D. Skeels Solidaridad http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/
Russ Walsh Russ on Reading http://russonreading.blogspot.com/
Ruth Conniff Public School Shakedown http://www.publicschoolshakedown.org/
Sam Chaltain Sam Chaltain http://www.samchaltain.com
Sara Roos Sara Roos http://redqueeninla.com/
Sarah Blaine Parenting the core http://parentingthecore.wordpress.com/
Sarah Darer Littman Sarah Darer Littman http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com
Sarah Lahm Sarah Lahm http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/eyes-education
Save Public Education Save Public Education
Sharon Higgins Charter School Scandals http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/
Shaun Johnson Chalk Face http://atthechalkface.com/
Sherman Dorn Sherman Dorn http://shermandorn.com/wordpress/
South Bronx School South Bronx School http://www.southbronxschool.com/
Stephanie Rivera Teacher Under Construction http://teacherunderconstruction.com/
Stephen Dyer 10th Period http://10thperiod.blogspot.com/
Stephen Krashen Stephen Krashen http://www.schoolsmatter.info/ and http://skrashen.blogspot.com/
Steve Hinnefeld Steve Hinnefeld http://inschoolmatters.wordpress.com/
Steve O’Donoghue Steve O’Donogue http://www.counterintuitive.com/
Steve Strieker One Teachers Perspective http://oneteachersperspective.blogspot.com/
Steven Singer Gad Fly On the Wall Blog http://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/
Stu Bloom Live Long and Prsoper http://bloom-at.blogspot.com/
Sullio The Pen is Mightier than the Person http://sullio.blogspot.com/
Susan DuFresne Educating the Gates Foundation http://educatingthegatesfoundation.com/
Susan DuFresne and Katie Lapham Teachers Letters to Bill Gates http://teachersletterstobillgates.com/
Susan Ohanian Susan Ohanian http://www.susanohanian.org/
TB Furman tbfurman http://www.tbfurman.us/
TC Dad Gone Wild http://norinrad10.wordpress.com/
Teacher Reality Teacher Reality http://teacherreality.com/
Teacher Tom Teacher Tom http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/
Ted Cohen Newark Schools For Sale http://NewarkSchoolsForSale.wordpress.com
The Assailed Teacher http://theassailedteacher.com/
The Teaching Nomad The Teaching Nomad www.theteachingnomad.com/blog 
Tim Slekar Busted Pencils http://bustedpencils.com/ 
Tom Aswell Louisiana Voice http://louisianavoice.com/
Tracy Novick Who-cester Blog http://who-cester.blogspot.com/
Ty Alper Ty Alper (SF School Board candidate) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ty-alper/ or http://www.tyalper.org
Urban Ed Urban Ed http://nycurbaned.blogspot.com/
Vanessa Vaile Precarious Faculty Blog http://www.precariousfacultyblog.com/ or http://nationalmobilizationforequity.org/
Wag the Dog Wag the Dog http://vigornotrigor.wordpress.com/
Walt Gardner Walt Garnder http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/
Wayne Gersen Network Schools http://waynegersen.com/
Wendy Lecker Wendy Lecker http://www.stamfordadvocate.com
Xian Barrett Xian Barrett http://newvoicestrategies.org/
Yohuru Williams Yohuru Williams http://www.yohuruwilliams.net/
Yong Zhao Education in the Age of Globalization http://zhaolearning.com

A Review of Richard Whitmire’s Book Touting the Rocketship Charter Chain

Wonderful quote from a review about a book promoting Rocketship charter schools:
“I have a few questions and a challenge for Danner, his wealthy education ‘reform’ compatriots and their unquestioning supporters like Whitmire:

“1. Would you send your own children to Rocketship (or KIPP, ASPIRE, YES Prep, Success Academy, etc.)?

“2. Would you recommend such schools to your other elite and wealthy friends?

“3. Do you plan to hire graduates of such schools for your own companies?

“Challenge: If you really care about poor students of color, why don’t you work to make their schools look more like the schools you send your own children to?”

Source: http://dianeravitch.net/2014/09/18/dienne-anum-reviews-whitmires-on-the-rocketship/

Just how flat ARE those 12th grade NAEP scores?

Perhaps you read or heard that the 12th grade NAEP reading and math scores, which just got reported, were “flat“.

Did you wonder what that meant?

The short answer is: those scores have essentially not changed since they began giving the tests! Not for the kids at the top of the testing heap, not for those at the bottom, not for blacks, not for whites, not for hispanics.

No change, nada, zip.

Not even after a full dozen years of Bush’s looney No Child Left Behind Act, nor its twisted Obama-style descendant, Race to the Trough. Top.

I took a look at the official reports and I’ve plotted them here you can see how little effect all those billions spent on testing;  firing veteran teachers; writing and publishing new tests and standards; and opening thousands of charter schools has had.

Here are the tables:

naep 12th grade reading by percentiles over time

This first graph shows that other than a slight widening of the gap between the kids at the top (at the 90th percentile) and those at the bottom (at the 10th percentile) back in the early 1990s, there has been essentially no change in the average scores over the past two full decades.

I think we can assume that the test makers, who are professional psychometricians and not political appointees, tried their very best to make the test of equal difficulty every year. So those flat lines mean that there has been no change, despite all the efforts of the education secretaries of Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama. And despite the wholesale replacement of an enormous fraction of the nation’s teachers, and the handing over of public education resources to charter school operators.

naep 12th grade reading by group over time

 

This next graph shows much the same thing, but the data is broken down into ethnic/racial groups. Again, these lines are about as flat (horizontal) as you will ever see in the social sciences,

However, I think it’s instructive to note that the gap between, say, Hispanic and Black students on the one hand, and White and Asian students on the other, is much smaller than the gap between the 10th and 90th percentiles we saw in the very first graph: about 30 points as opposed to almost 100 points.
naep 12th grade math by percentiles over time

 

The third graph shows the  NAEP math scores for 12th graders since 2005, since that was the first time that the test was given. The psychometricians atNAEP claim there has been a :statistically significant” change since 2005 in some of those scores, but I don’t really see it. Being “statistically significant’ and being REALLY significant are two different things.

*Note: the 12th grade Math NAEP was given for the first time in 2005, unlike the 12th grade reading test.

naep 12th grade math by group over time

 

And here we have the same data broken down by ethnic/racial groups. Since 2009 there has been essentially no change, and there was precious little before that, except for Asian students.

Diane Ravitch correctly dismissed all of this as a sign that everything that Rod Paige, Margaret Spellings and Arne Duncan have done, is a complete and utter failure. Her conclusion, which I agree with, is that NCLB and RTTT need to be thrown out.

 

One of the The Things Wrong With Testing: They Are Invalid to Begin With!

A Test Writer Comments on New York’s Common Core Tests

by dianerav

This comment was posted yesterday:

I am a former, part time item writer for a private testing company; I wrote for many different state standards under NCLB. I must say that poorly constructed, confusing, or developmentally inappropriate items undermine the validity of standardized scores and subsequent use in teacher evaluation. When standardized tests are properly constructed, such items which might make it to a field test will almost certainly be vetted during what is typically a two year process. Many items on the Pearson math and ELA administered last April here in NY were written, in my opinion, in an intentionally confusing style using obtuse or arcane vocabulary. The ELA test in particular included confusing item stems and distractors that were not clearly wrong. There were far too many items that turned subjective opinions (most likely; best; author’s intent; etc.) into a “one right, three wrong” format. Many teachers were unsure of the correct answers on a number of vague and fuzzy items.
The math test included many items that were ridiculously convoluted. Although there may be other compelling arguments against VAM teacher evaluations, corrupt test writing, norm referencing (instead of criterion referenced scoring), and manipulating cut scores add up to a rather important set of reasons to invalidate the entire process.

Published in: on October 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

80% of parents at a NYC elementary school opt out of testing!

THIS IS HUGE!!! No Testing at This School! Parents Say NO!

by dianerav

Almost everyone agrees that high-stakes testing for little children is a huge mistake. The parents not only wrote their elected officials, they took direct action.

More than 80% of the parents of the children at the Castle Bridge Elementary School in New York City refused to allow their children to be tested.

They opted out.

The tests were canceled.

NO TESTS. NONE!

The parents knew that the only purpose of the tests was to evaluate the teachers, not the children.

Most Castle Bridge School parents — representing 83 of the 97 students — refused to permit their children to be tested.

“My feeling about testing kids as young as 4 is it’s inhumane,” said PTA co-chairwoman Dao Tran, mother of first-grader Quyen Lamphere, 5. “I can only see it causing stress.”

The state now requires schools to factor test scores — in one form or another — into their teacher evaluations, which are new this year in the city.

The parents thought the testing was absurd.

As the Daily News reported earlier this month, such exams, given to kids as young as 4, require students to fill in bubbles to show their answers.

It’s like the SAT for kids barely older than toddlers. And parents resent it.

“Our principal does a good job,” said PTA co-chairwoman Elexis Pujolos, mother of kindergartner Daeja, 4, and first-grader AJ, 6. “A test could not possibly measure what she is able to.”

Principal Julie Zuckerman canceled the required tests because the scores wouldn’t provide statistically meaningful data once so many parents opted out.

She also hates judging teachers even partly on the basis of a test.

“It can’t be used as evaluation tool of teachers even if it were a valid test — which it’s not,” she said.

If all parents did this, they could stop the testing madness that is ruining education and children’s love of learning.

If it can happen at Castle Bridge, it can happen anywhere!

Without data, the giant testing machine can’t function. The children can learn stress-free. Education becomes possible.

Message: OPT OUT.

Published in: on October 22, 2013 at 7:37 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

Individual Teachers, Parents, and Students Need to Speak Up

I am reprinting a column from Diane Ravitch that consists of a letter from single, anonymous teacher detailing what is wrong with the charter chain that he/she works for, and why that chain should not be allowed to expand.

Very simple: it’s not good for students, and it’s hell for teachers, but it’s very profitable for the chain’s management.

There need to be more such letters.

Here’s the column:

New post on Diane Ravitch’s blog

A Rocketship Teacher Warns: Stop the Expansion

by dianerav

Rocketship charter schools have a goal of expanding to enroll one million children. Their model relies heavily on technology and inexpensive, inexperienced teachers who work long hours and have no union. Their schools are focused on test scores and leave out the arts and other “non-essentials.” The San Jose, California, board of education will decide tomorrowabout whether to send more children and more public dollars to this poor substitute for a real school.

This letter came to me from a Rocketship teacher:

“Dear Diane,

I have been reading the coverage on your blog on the lawsuit against Rocketship in its quest to build Rocketship Tamien in San Jose. I appreciate your attention to this issue. I am a current Rocketship teacher who is also concerned about Rocketship’s expansion. With a vote by the San Jose City Council coming this Tuesday, I decided I could not longer remain silent. Below you will find an anonymous letter I sent to the San Jose City Council, as well as the parent group against Tamien you featured on your blog. I wanted to send this letter to you as well. I’m not sure if it is something you would be interested in posting on your blog, but even so I wanted you to know you helped encourage me to write it.

Thank you!
A Rocketship Teacher

To all those concerned and involved with the Rocketship Tamien dispute,

I am a Rocketship Teacher who has become increasingly concerned and frustrated while silently watching the dispute over Rocketship Tamien. In this letter, I hope to bring a perspective of a current Rocketship teacher. I am just one perspective and do not claim to speak for other Rocketship teachers. However, I do think my point of view, without a union for protection, is silenced and hidden in this debate. By raising my voice, I am fearful my job could be in danger. Therefore, I have chosen to write this letter anonymously and leave out many details of my own personal experience.

I have structured the letter under a few key points of my feelings about Rocketship as an organization and the direction we are headed. I hope this perspective might raise new questions in the ongoing debate over opening Rocketship Tamien. I have tremendous respect for many of the teachers I work with at Rocketship and by no means wish to attack the incredible effort and energy they put into this difficult job.

Rapid Expansion Without a Clear Model:

Just a few months into the last school year, Rocketship announced to teachers the start of “redesign.” I say announced, because it was not offered as a conversation, but as a mandate. We would be changing many of our schools to an “open-space” model. This model’s vision would have placed 100 students in a room with two credentialed teachers and one learning specialist (including in Kindergarten and first grade). Without research or proof that this was a good idea for our students, redesign was launched at several Rocketship campuses. Teachers, without a union, had no choice but to follow blindly into the “redesign” path, many teachers staying nightly until 9pm trying to figure out what in the world they were going to do in a new space with that many students.

Unfortunately, the experiment Rocketship embarked on with their students and communities proved to be rash. This year, they have slowed down and redesign is happening, for most schools, only in 4th and 5th grade classrooms. I think my biggest concern when thinking about redesign, which left many teachers bitter and caused many to leave Rocketship, is that even though Rocketship is experimenting with its model and unsure of its future direction, it still seeks to rapidly expand across San Jose and across America. It is irresponsible and egotistical to believe that a model that you have not figured out is superior to established public schools in the neighborhoods you are interrupting. This is especially true in light of last year’s CST scores which showed a decline at every Rocketship campus.

No Teacher Sustainability, Little Experience at All Levels:

Working at Rocketship is not sustainable. I personally have never had a colleague tell me, “I could work as a Rocketship teacher for the next 10 years.” I haven’t even heard a colleague say they could work as a Rocketship teacher for 5 years. Rocketship relies heavily on Teach for America corps members. Many TFA teachers come into the classroom with no experience and no perspective on what a traditional school is like. Without experience of a traditional model, I think many TFA teachers come into Rocketship blindly and follow the unreasonable expectations blindly. They grind through their two year commitment of late hours, ridiculous test score pressure, and tumultuous school and organizational environment. At the end of those two years, or even before it, many will leave Rocketship. Some will go into traditional public schools; some will run away from teaching, or what they believe from Rocketship to be teaching, forever. This turnover and burnout robs the San Jose community of veteran teachers that have worked in and understand the community.

It is not just inexperience on the teacher end, it is also inexperience on the administrative end. If you teach for three years at Rocketship, you may have just as much or more teaching experience as some administrators at Rocketship. Rocketship claims to have a robust teacher training and development program, but unfortunately that training comes from inexperienced educators, which I think highly questions the value of such training. When I have heard this concern brought up, usually the value of veteran teachers and experience is scoffed at as unnecessary. This, I think, is part of a larger issue at Rocketship. In my opinion, Rocketship believes itself superior without the experience or results to support it.

Instability of Student’s Day:

Rocketship, to save money by hiring fewer teachers, has a rotational model. Students move throughout the day between different classrooms and spaces, largely three: 1) Literacy, 2) Math, 3) Learning Lab. Literacy teachers have two classes during the day, while math teachers have four, which I think greatly contributes to lack of teacher sustainability. Building relationships with 60 or 120 elementary students and their families, as well as maintaining classroom culture throughout the day, is difficult, emotionally draining, and exhausting.

I truly believe that this middle school model of rotation is not appropriate for elementary school students and creates a culture of instability that breeds behavioral issues. When students are rotating through multiple spaces throughout the day, they do not have consistent behavior expectations, consistent authority figures, or often enough eyes monitoring the transitions. I do not believe this model suits every child, particularly those with special needs. I believe many of our students crave a more stable environment, especially for our students who may experience instability at home.

Students also spend about one hour a day on computers which, as Rocketship has admitted in the PBS special, is not currently effective in pushing student learning. However, because we have a higher student to teacher ratio than traditional schools, students continue to be “held” in the learning lab until their math and literacy classes open up. I do believe that online learning has incredible potential, but Rocketship is using it for too long every day which breeds a lack of investment and boredom in our student’s experience in the learning lab.

Anti-Union Anti-Traditional Public School Rhetoric:

Rocketship claims unions will block their ability to expand and innovate. What that means practically for teachers in the case of the “redesign” experiment last year and day to day decisions of the organization, is that we effectively have no voice or tangible power in this organization.

The PBS special had two Rocketship teachers who claimed that they did not need a union, that they were valuable to Rocketship and safe. Both of those teachers were slated and have now become administrators at Rocketship. PBS didn’t dig, but if they had done some digging, they would have found plenty of disillusioned teachers for their interviews. Or perhaps, they wouldn’t have since we have no union protection. Rocketship also pushes its anti-union, anti-traditional public school rhetoric on our families. I have had many interactions with parents where claims are made about unions or public schools in the area, that have been garnered from Rocketship, that are wrong or over-generalized.

Rocketship, I believe, is not here to provide pressure and competition to traditional public schools. They, with their goals of expansion to reach 1 million students, are here to take over. It is essential to that goal then, to discredit traditional public schools and the teachers at those schools. Students, because of state funding per child, become dollars Rocketship takes from a traditional public school with every child it recruits. This in turn puts more pressure on established districts to lay off teachers and will, eventually, lead to school closures.

Test Scores as the Ultimate Goal:

Rocketship is obsessed with its tests scores. As a charter, they live or die by those test scores. We are now asking our students to learn how to bubble multiple choice questions as early as kindergarten. Teachers are constantly in cycles of testing (which again, is to 60 or 120 students which contributes to the unsustainability).

I believe that knowing where our students are and working to address knowledge gaps is important, but test scores have taken over the culture of Rocketship schools. The stress put on teachers I believe translates directly to the students who are constantly being assessed. Last year, my and other teachers’ salaries were based largely on one computer examination that is given to the students three times during the year. Science, social studies, art and general play time have all become victim to the testing grind. I do not believe Rocketship is cultivating creative, innovative, challenging, minds.

In closing, I do not believe that Rocketship is an organization to be given blind trust. The parents at Rocketship are just like the parents protesting against Rocketship Tamien. They want the best educational experience for their students. I send this letter in the hopes of raising more pause towards Rocketship, its lobbyists, and the tighter hold it is trying to establish over San Jose’s elementary schools.

Ravitch Critiques the Current Education Privatization Movement and Offers Suggestions for a Different Way

For a clear summary of the evidence showing that not a single one of the currently fashionable methods of ‘reforming’ public education has worked, then read the first twenty chapters of the latest book by Diane Ravitch, “Reign of Error”, published today by A.A. Knopf.

This book gratifies me because it lays out in a concise and organized manner much of what I and a number of other education bloggers have been trying to point out for the last four or five years. Ravitch’s clear prose is a masterful summary of the evidence that the bipartisan “reforms” being committed against public education are not only ineffective by the yardsticks held up by these ‘reformers’, but are also resegregating our schools and foisting an inferior education onto our poorest kids.

On the other hand, if you prefer to see a clearly-laid out set of suggestions for a more sensible way to fix our school system, then this is still the right book to read! In chapters 21 through 33, she lays out a logical and sensible way to really fix our schools.

Keep in mind, as you read the book, that the “reformers” of public education have been in charge in some of our largest cities for about 20 years now. For example, Paul Vallas ran Chicago Public Schools from 1995-2001, and Arne Duncan ran them from 2001-2009; since then they are under the control of mayor Rahm Emanuel. They did such a WONDERFUL job that Chicago just found it necessary to close down dozens of schools and fire thousands of teachers and other employees. Joel Klein ran New York City’s public schools from 2002 to his departure to head Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. Michelle Rhee and her crony Kaya Henderson have run DC Public Schools since 2007.

Those school systems remain in crisis, despite the claims of our wealthiest citizens (Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, the Walton family and a bevy of hedge fund managers) that those leaders were producing piles of ‘excellence’ while having almost no teaching experience or school leadership credentials.

If you doubt my claims, all you need to do is look at the graphs and tables in Ravitch’s appendices.

It stokes by own vanity to find a couple of my own blog columns cited on pages 150-151, wherein I had delved into the data on Michelle Rhee’s mythical successes in Baltimore from 1992-1995.

(Rhee has since admitted making the numbers up, but chuckled that they didn’t matter. She has no shame! I also discovered that a possible reason for the increases that were noted at her school and grade level may have been due to two facts: (1) Her school and her grade had one of the greatest attrition rates over those two years of any of the schools in the study; and (2) her grade at her school also had one of the largest percentages of students who scored so low on the CTBS that their scores weren’t even counted!)

Here are the headings and summaries for chapters 5 – 20 of Reign of Error:

5: The Facts About Test Scores

Claim: Test scores are falling, and the educational system is broken and obsolete.

Reality: Test scores are a their highest point ever recorded.

6: The Facts About the Achievement Gap

Claim: The achievement gaps are large and getting worse.

Reality: We have made genuine progress in narrowing the achievement gap, but they will remain large if we do nothing about the causes of the gaps.

7. The Facts About the International Test Scores

Claim: We are falling behind other nations, putting our economy and our national economy at risk.

Reality: An old lament, not true then, not true now.

8. The Facts About High School Graduation Rates

Claim: The nation has a dropout crisis, and high school graduation rates are falling.

Reality: High school dropouts are at an all-time low, and high school graduation rates are at an all-time high.

9. The Facts About College Graduation Rates

Claim: Our economy will suffer unless we have the highest college graduation rates in the world.

Reality: There is no basis for this claim.

10. How Poverty Affects Academic Achievement

Claim: Poverty is an excuse for ineffective teaching and failing schools.

Reality: Poverty is highly correlated with low academic achievement.

11. The Facts About Teachers and Test Scores

Claim: Teachers determine student test scores, and test scores may be used to identify and reward effective teachers and to fire those who are not effective.

Reality: Test scores are not the best way to identify the best teachers.

12. Why Merit Pay Fails

Claim: Merit pay will improve achievement.

Reality: Merit pay has never improved achievement.

13. Do Teachers Need Tenure and Seniority?

Claim: Schools will improve if tenure and seniority are abolished.

Reality: There is no basis for this claim.

14. The Problem with Teach for America

Claim: Teach for America recruits teachers and leaders whose high expectations will one day ensure that every child has an excellent education.

Reality: Teach for America sends bright young people into tough classrooms where they get about the same results as other bright young people in similar classrooms but leave the profession sooner.

15. The Mystery of Michelle Rhee

(no sub-headings for this chapter)

16. The Contradictions of Charters

Claim: Charter schools will revolutionize American education by thei freedom to innovate and produce dramatically better results.

Reality: Charter schools run the gamut from excellent to awful and are, on average, no more innovative or successful than public schools.

17. Trouble in E-Land

Claim: Virtual schools will the promise of personalized, customized learning to every student and usher in an age of educational excellence for all.

Reality: Virtual schools are cash cows for their owners but poor substitutes for real teachers and real schools.

18. Parent Trigger, Parent Tricker

Claim: If parents seize control of their school, they can make it better.

Reality: There is no evidence for this claim.

19. The Failure of Vouchers

Claim: Students who receive vouchers for private and religious schools will experience dramatic success.

Reality: There is no evidence for this claim.

20. Schools Don’t Improve if They Are Closed

Claim: Schools can be dramatically improved by firing the principal, firing half or all of the teaches, or closing the school and starting fresh.

Reality: There is no evidence for this claim.

Next, I’ll give the headings of the chapters laying out solutions.

Just received: “Reign of Error” by Diane Ravitch!!

Just received my copy of Diane Ravitch’s book!! Doesn’t officially get published until 9-17-13, i think she wrote on her blog.

Let me say that DR does an extremely good job of keeping up with the educational nonsense being peddled by some of her old friends and associates in today’s bipartisan, fully billionaire-led AstroTurf movement to destroy and resegregate our public school while profiting mightily.

I highly recommend subscribing to her blog. She is amazingly productive. I do not think she has much time in her life for anything except blogging. I blog and write a fair amount, but I cannot put out a single post each day–it takes time, and I am very appreciative of her writings. She puts out up to ten posts a day!! Wow!!

When I started writing my DC-based blog back in mid-2009, after I retired, and began researching more of the plain facts here on the ground in Washington under michelle Rhee’s initial “Reign of Error”, it was pretty lonely.

I was nonetheless able to find the original records showing that a very large fraction of the very detailed statements on Michelle Rhee’s official public résumé were 100% fictitious.

I was able to show that Rhee’s policies in many, many areas while she waschancellor here in my hometown have produced exactly NONE of the miraculous gains that she predicted. And while she at one point boasted very confidently of her ability to pick winning principals in a 5-minute I yet view, she later admitted that this was in fact one of the worst aspects of her legacy. And the Harvard whiz kid measuring the effects of her attempt to purchase good behavior fr middle schools produced results no different from not doing so; and when the same academic (Roland Frye) studied Rhee’s vaunted merit pay in other cities, he found it made no difference either.

I was able to show that there was almost no effect on test scores (almost the ONLY way to test educational outcomes in her eyes) from switching out principals and teachers.

Now I find I can relax a bit. There are literally hundreds of bloggers and columnists making much of the same points I was making. I don’t feel so lonely any more.

Thank you, Diane and all of the other bloggers!!

Unlike some, I will read at least most of her latest book before writing a review. I predict I will like it.

Published in: on August 28, 2013 at 4:52 pm  Comments (4)  
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That so-called report on the nation’s schools of education

Diane Ravitch has a worthwhile entry on the survey that’s in today’s news — the one from the self-named NCTQ (National Center for Teacher Quality).

That’s the report that gave most of the US teacher-training schools very low marks.

I read the report in the Post, twice, once online and once in the form of black marks on paper (remember those?).

I thought it strange that the authors of the NCTQ report had visited exactly none of the actual colleges or universities that they were supposedly surveying, nor talked to any of the professors, nor even to any of the students in those programs (past or current), nor made any effort to find out what fraction of their graduates were even still teaching after some number of years later.

Diane’s analysis explained why. And she in fact knows it quite well: she herself used to be on the board of that organization, back when she herself used to be a right-wing educational ideologue under the leadership of Rodney Page, George Bush and other, similar lying creeps. (We all should be amazed at the complete, 180-degree about-face Ravitch has undergone — not very often that anybody does that!)

As it is, she is performing a very valuable service, and has been doing so for a little more than a year IIRC.

I thought it worthwhile to repost her entire post. I don’t often do that. I’ve accentuated a small part of her piece.

Apparently, according to Diane, the only thing that the NCTQ was looking for was the fraction of course syllabi that mention or emphasize “Common Core”. Sheesh.

Here goes:

That NCTQ Report on Teacher Education: F

by dianerav

The just-released NCTQ report on teacher education gives an F to the nation’s colleges of education. It was published in association with U.S. News & World Report.

But the report itself deserves an F.

To begin with, there are professional associations that rate the nation’s education schools, based on site visits and clear criteria.

NCTQ is not a professional association. It did not make site visits. It made its harsh judgments by reviewing course syllabi and catalogs. The criteria that it rated as most important was the institution’s fidelity to the Common Core standards.

As Rutgers’ Bruce Baker pointed out in his response, NCTQ boasts of its regard for teachers but its review of the nation’s teacher-training institutions says nothing about faculty. They don’t matter. They are irrelevant. All that matters is what is in the course catalog.

There are many reasons not to trust the NCTQ report on teacher education. Most important is that it lacks credibility. Not only is it not a professional association. it lacks independence. It has an agenda.

NCTQ was founded by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in 2000 with the explicit purpose of harassing institutions of teacher education and urging alternative arrangements. I was on the board at the time. Initially, the new organization floundered but was saved by a $5 million grant from U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. Just lucky.

So, knowing NCTQ’s history, and reading Mercedes Schneider’s posts about the organization, I conclude that NCTQ cannot be considered a fair, credible, independent judge of the quality of teacher training institutions.

I certainly agree that some such institutions are weak and inadequate, though I don’t think NCTQ’s superficial methodology identifies them.

I also agree with the report’s recommendation that teacher education institutions should have higher standards for admission.

But I don’t agree that the mark of a great education school is how many courses it offers on the Common Core standards or how attentive it is to raising test scores..

The great Robert Hutchins once wrote that the purpose of a professional school is to teach students to criticize the profession. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the profession would prepare them to make it stronger. The NCTQ report–looking at education schools from a mountain top–would have them conform to the status quo, to the conventional wisdom. This is not a prescription for the future, nor for the creation of a profession of strong teachers. It is a prescription for docility and conformity. Robert Hutchins would not approve.

dianerav | June 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Categories: Common CoreCorporate R
Published in: on June 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm  Comments (7)  
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