Skip to main content

is it legitimate to go public with what you sent?  We are about to find out.

On July 30, Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post had an op ed, Civil rights groups are picking the wrong fight with President Obama.  Marcus was writing in response to the open letter from 7 Civil Rights groups (that link is a PDF) challenging the President on his Blueprint for Education.  The President had pushed back in a speech at the Urban League.  Marcus took the President's side and criticized the Civil Rights groups. She was also more than a little insulting to teachers unions.

Like many opinion writers, Marcus apparently does not understand the reality of education, so I wrote her a letter, with a copy to Jay Mathews, former principal education writer of the Post.  Mathews acknowledged the letter, Marcus did not.  I wrote her again.  I have still received no response.

So I have decided to do the following

  1.  I want to quote two parts of the piece Marcus posted, her beginning paragraph  

There is, it turns out, something more galling than teachers unions fighting against proposals that would improve education for students in the worst-performing schools. At least the teachers unions are, presumably, acting in the economic self-interest of their members.

and her concluding paragraph

Obama comes to the education debate from the perspective of a community organizer who saw, firsthand, children who were not learning in schools that were failing them. His mission, as president, to change this situation is one that civil rights groups should be cheering, not picking apart.

  1. I am posting (slightly edited) the contents of the email I sent Marcus.  I think the points I made are worthy of further discussion, even if Marcus decided not to even acknowledge my having sent them.

Here are the contents of that email:  

Subject: I think you miss the real points in your op ed today
Date: Jul 30, 2010 8:46 AM

Much of what Obama and Duncan are advocating in Race to the Top not only have no track record of success, but in some cases here is clear evidence that the approaches do not work.  In the meantime, the administration is insisting upon structural changes that may well be destructive - not only of maintaining good teacher staffs in school, but of the learning of students.

You will note that I have copied Jay Mathews on this.  Jay and I have known one another for a decade and he can vouch for me as being committed to the well-being of students.  If you have any doubt on that, I was the selectee this past year for Prince George's County Public Schools for your paper's Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.

The entire approach of this administration towards education is seriously flawed.  It is unnecessarily hostile towards teachers and teachers unions.   When people attempt to explain this, they are not listened to.

Prior to yesterday's radio town hall meeting, Arne Duncan had held two conference calls with groups of teachers, the first a group of National Board Certified teachers (I am one, but did not participate in the call because of a conflict, but am well aware of what happened), the second with a group of teachers from the group Teachers Letters to Obama (of which I am now a member of the steering committee at the request of the organizers, although I was not a participant at the time of the call).   In each case teachers who participated in the calls came away with the clear impression that Duncan did not listen, that all he wanted to do was repeat his talking points, and to claim that teachers misunderstood -  RttT, the Blue Print, etc.   The 2nd phone call went so badly that several things happened.

  1.  Duncan called two of the organizers, xxxxx xxxx and xxxxx xxxxx, and spoke with them directly.
  1.  I received a call from the Education department wanting to better understand how they were coming across to teachers.

I fully accept that Duncan and Obama believe they are doing the right thing.  The problem is, the upper staff of the Education department has a lot of people with the attitudes of a small segment -  think tanks, self-described reformers, etc., who are advocating positions with no research base and who immediately attack anyone who questions them as not being committed to the well-being of children.

As a professional teacher who gave up a far more lucrative career in data processing as I approached 50 to dedicate myself to the wellbeing of students and thus the future of this nation, I strongly resent that kind of attitude.  And I am also more than mildly irritated at your rhetoric on a subject on which you apparently lack the appropriate understanding.

Let me point out a couple of things totally missing in your piece.

  1.  Many of us opposing what this administration is doing are NOT arguing for the status quo.  In fact, many of us would make changes that are far more radical.   We have offered proposals which don't fit into the current rhetorical frame, and so they get rejected.
  1.  Because we are teachers and in some cases union activists does not make us hostile to change.  But we will fight against the easy and intellectually sloppy attack that unions are protecting bad teachers.  That is no more correct than saying requiring police and prosecutors  to follow the requirements of the Bill of Rights protects criminals.  The protections are for all of us -  in education for good teachers who might be disliked by vindictive administrators or school boards, in the criminal justice system to protect against political prosecutions, prosecutions of minority religions and political opinions.   We point out, regularly, that the problem is NOT the unions, but that administrators fail to do their jobs in (a) hiring, (b) monitoring and supporting struggling teachers (most of whom CAN be turned into at least effective teachers), and (c) properly documenting the steps taken as prerequisites to dismissal.  We would also point out that as teachers we rarely have any role in hiring or dismissal.  Some teachers do perform the role of mentors and advisers -  I have had 5 student teachers, two of which have later taught with me in my school.  I serve as a mentor to candidates for National Board Certification.  I have been a department chair.  I serve as an unofficial mentor to new and struggling teachers.  In the first two of those roles I receive nominal compensation that does not come close to covering the time involved, in the last I receive neither compensation nor time off from other duties.   If teachers are going to have to take on such additional roles, (1) we should be trained, (2) we should be compensated either by additional pay and/or reduction of other responsibilities.  Most teachers have their own families.  I can take on more because my wife and I have no children of our own.
  1.  If unions are such a problem, please explain the following two facts.  (1)  The states with the highest test scores are all heavily unionized while those with the lowest are right to work states;  (2)  there is a higher rate of dismissal of experienced teachers in unionized states than there is in non-unionized states.   Now, in the case of test scores, I am well aware that correlation is not causation, but since the self-styled "reformers" always use test scores to make their arguments, I would think it would be incumbent upon them to explain the situation described in #1.
  1.  The policies we have been pursuing over the past several decades have failed.  Please remember, A Nation at Risk claimed our economy would be at jeopardy because of our schools, yet it was the economies of places like Japan that were in theory going to surpass us that collapsed.  Perhaps that is why some of the Asian countries we so fear are going in the opposite direction educationally than we are -  Korea is REDUCING class time; China is beginning to focus on creativity.  Yet we argue for more class time, and what we are doing is eliminating creativity.  We are turning school into a task rather than the excitement of learning with which kids usually arrive at school, but which by middle school is disappearing -  having taught every grade from 7 through 12, I can tell you that by middle school kids are already making the economic decision -  will this be on the test?  If it's not, and if all our emphasis is on tests, that is a logical path for them to take, even as it is reductive of real learning.  Perhaps that is why on international comparisons, as misunderstood as they are, at the elementary level we are near the top, but by high school we see our ranking drop - and a caution, ordinal position may not indicate a significant difference in position, even if the tests were comparing apples to apples, which in many cases they are not.

The approach the administration is taking is flawed on many levels.  Duncan advocates for mayoral control.  Yet there is a history of such an approach, and it has not worked.  Let's go back to test scores again.  During the period of mayoral control in Chicago, performance essentially remained flat or declined.  There was one year of a bump of test scores.  But that was because the cut scores were changed for political purposes -  Richie Daley and Rod Blagojevich were both facing reelection.   In the case of Chicago, even the normally supportive Chicago Tribune has pointed out that there was NO increase in performance during the tenures of Duncan and Vallas.  In fact, where schools were "reconstituted" and "improvements" were claimed, it was comparing the test scores of different groups of students within the same school.  This has been well documented, including by people like Tony Bryk.  Recent stories have demonstrated the lack of improvement in NY under the administration of Bloomberg and Klein.

Unions came into existence to provide more of an equal playing field with management.  That was true in industry, it is true in education.  Making unions the target is destructive of the well-being of the American people, not just in education.  Isn't it interesting that as unions have declined the inequity between management and the ordinary worker has skyrocketed?   Republicans would be very happy to see teachers' unions - and other unions - destroyed.  

There is so much more I could include in this, but it is long enough already.

What if politicians were being held to anything like the standard people wish to apply to the schools?

What if businessmen?

What if the military?

Schools and teachers become easy targets, because since almost everyone has at some point been in a classroom they think that gives them an expertise they do not have.  They think nothing of being a teacher for a day, while they would never think of being a doctor for a day, or letting a lawyer for a day handle their lawsuit or their criminal defense.

Teaching should be a highly skilled profession.  One reason we have some teachers who are not as skilled is the kind of training they receive is insufficient -  although that does NOT justify thereby having the constant turnover of approaches like Teach for America.  We do need to change the training.  We need to increase the compensation. We need to improve the working conditions.

I am somewhat lucky, in that I now work in a school that understands I am very much outside the lines in how I teach but also very effective.  Eleanor Roosevelt gives me a great deal of flexibility to use my best judgment in how to teach.  I have too many students - last year at one point two of my AP classes had 38 students, although they dropped -  to 37.   Most teachers do not have such flexibility.  

The administration offers words that are in theory supportive of teachers, recognizing that you can NOT make major improvements in education without teachers.  And yet it simultaneously approves and advocates for approaches that are hostile towards teaching.  Two examples come to mind -  both Obama and Duncan originally approved of firing all the teachers at Central Falls, and Duncan once said (and then had to walk back) that Katrina was the best thing ever to happen to education in New Orleans.  On the latter, perhaps rather than accepting the self-promotion of the likes of Paul Vallas, you ought to read what Lance Hill at Tulane has put together over the past few years.

And that raises a key point -  the voices of those outside the supposed consensus on "reform" do not get heard.  We get op ed writers like you who do not fully understand education writing columns like you did.  Yes, there are some exceptions - in your paper Valerie Strauss is now providing a venue for other voices to be heard.  Two reasons for the impact of Diane Ravitch's book are (1) she was such a major name in education she could not be ignored, and (b) she was acknowledging that the approach she had supported hoping it would make a difference was wrong.  Yet since the book has come out, when Diane has tried to talk with people in the administration, they do not want to listen.

Nor do they want to listen to members of Congress.  Duncan faces a great deal of skepticism and even hostility from the senior Democratic members of George Miller's committee.  I have solid evidence that several do not trust him.  

But they also do not want to undercut the President politically, so find themselves in a bind.

Teachers are angry.  If you doubt that, look what happened in Florida to the proposal to tie teacher compensation to student test scores (something that is stupid even with value-added assessment, but that would be a separate long explanation).  Because teachers organized, and got additional support from parents and others, Gov. Crist decided to veto the bill, and now is likely to get elected with the full support of Florida teachers.

There are around 4 million unionized teachers in this country.  In a number of close elections, our participation or lack thereof can make a real difference.  There are some politicians who understand this.  

That is a separate issue.  The real issue is ultimately this -  what this administration is doing will do more damage to public education than was done in the 8 years of the previous administration.  What this administration is doing has the real potential to drive the teachers you want and need from the profession.  I am 64.  I can retire at any point and go do something else.  I am on record that I will continue to teach as long as I can do so with integrity.  What this administration is doing is making that ever more difficult.  At some point I will decide the 12-14 hour days (including the time spent outside of formal class time) are simply not worth it.  

I urge you to consider, if you are going to write about education, that you take the time to better educate yourself to the issues that are involved.

I usually enjoy your columns.  Quite obviously this one hit a nerve.

I debated writing this as an open letter and posting it at Daily Kos and elsewhere.  I decided for now to simply write directly to you with a copy to Jay.

Jay and I do not always agree.  Despite that we remain friends.  I think it fair to say that Jay usually finds it worthwhile to listen to what I have to say - even if he disagrees, he finds it requires him to make his arguments more precise and cogent.  In that sense our relationship is a little like that he had with the late Jerry Bracey.  

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I did not plan what I was going to write.  I sat down and wrote this in one draft.  That will explain at least some of the disorganization.

Peace.

Ken Bernstein aka teacherken in the blogosphere.

You will note the following, which I repeat because of what I am now doing: I debated writing this as an open letter and posting it at Daily Kos and elsewhere.  I decided for now to simply write directly to you with a copy to Jay.

I would have hoped for at least an acknowledgment.  The one I received from Jay acknowledged that the points I was raising had some importance.

You, dear readers, now have the opportunity to do several things.

A.  You can criticize me on any of a number of grounds:
  1.  for not having done this as an open letter originally
  2.  for reprinting something I sent as an email
  3.  for the contents of the email I sent

On point 1, perhaps I should have done it just as a blog post.  As for #2,  please note the words I have repeated from the email - I did not say I would never post them, and find now that I feel as I should.  

B.  You can choose to offer your own thoughts either on this thread or elsewhere on what Marcus offered in her piece.

I am not going to engage in close monitoring of this diary.  I will, as is my custom, read all comments.

Let me close by explaining at least part of my rationale for posting this now.  There has been an ongoing problem of people like Marcus who lack expertise in education accepting a definition of "reform" that excludes the insights and experiences  of educators, being framed mainly from think tanks, businessmen, politicians, and advocacy groups.  The voices of teachers get excluded.  Every piece such as this by Marcus perpetuates the problem.   I had hoped to engage her in dialog so that she could see her perspective was limited.  Perhaps how I went about it was wrong.  I really cannot say.

I have been debating since I sent a second email, also not acknowledged, whether I would go public with this.  I have decided I will, and now, before I return to the start of another school year seems an appropriate time.

Hence this diary.

Peace.

Originally posted to teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:44 AM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tomorrow I get students (203+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JD SoOR, Alumbrados, Davinci, Garrett, keirdubois, northsylvania, copymark, slinkerwink, Nina Katarina, emal, janinsanfran, KateG, akeitz, devtob, TarheelDem, expatjourno, Heart of the Rockies, sardonyx, rasbobbo, sfgb, MD patriot, bluesteel, shanikka, Frederick Clarkson, slatsg, Clues, standingup, Nate Roberts, Jesterfox, antirove, Eddie C, Dr Colossus, dubyus, crackpot, BMarshall, niteskolar, mistersite, DSC on the Plateau, dwahzon, Chirons apprentice, lcrp, riverlover, SDorn, Bluebirder, barbwires, frostieb, kfred, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, TexasLefty, AaronBa, Daddy Bartholomew, TexH, sawgrass727, Big Tex, rapala, tovan, Bluesee, Simian, 3goldens, rini, boji, Ckntfld, MHB, SherwoodB, irate, Flint, citizenx, drewfromct, Dobber, fixxit, cfk, ladybug53, cassidy3, bmaples, Sandino, joseph rainmound, Shotput8, the fan man, Margouillat, JanL, Indiana Bob, Snud, splashoil, begone, Mehitabel9, snazzzybird, Starseer, seefleur, fromer, Son of a Cat, luckydog, kck, blueoasis, bess, triv33, StrayCat, plf515, Frank Cocozzelli, ER Doc, doingbusinessas, GiveNoQuarter, Cassiodorus, kurious, Temmoku, One Pissed Off Liberal, out of left field, Loudoun County Dem, jhecht, bfbenn, karmsy, FishOutofWater, Nespolo, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, LamontCranston, DWG, aliasalias, HCKAD, jayden, rivamer, st minutia, Moderation, uciguy30, M Sullivan, LWelsch, Justus, ChocolateChris, rontun, scooter in brooklyn, Youffraita, Involuntary Exile, skohayes, alasmoses, monkeybrainpolitics, Cassandra Waites, geomoo, Jake Williams, mofembot, Seamus D, Drewid, luckylizard, allie123, billybam, billmosby, dreamghost, Rick Aucoin, ARS, greengemini, maryabein, WiseFerret, Leslie in KY, allep10, Shelley99, stevenwag, nancat357, deviant24x, Cleopatra, o possum, not this time, Sarbec, Amber6541, brentbent, coppercelt, mamamorgaine, flitedocnm, miss SPED, Susan from 29, angelajean, Garfnobl, catchlightning, ypsiCPA, ItsSimpleSimon, orlbucfan, Otteray Scribe, angstall, ToeJamFootball, Situational Lefty, Teiresias70, princesspat, marleycat, susanala, grannysally, dle2GA, nokomis, peregrine kate, VTCC73, Sunspots, thejoshuablog, MichaelNY, James Philip Pratt, BlueDragon, Only Needs a Beat, jacey, Tentwenty, Caractacus, Tom Taaffe, FireBird1, OHknighty, under the same sky, dance you monster, RetAZLib, Mostel26, Crikes a Crocus, Free Jazz at High Noon

    officially I returned to school last Tuesday.  I drafted this diary several weeks ago, and have been sitting, waiting, hoping that Marcus would respond.  She still has not.

    I decided if I were going to post it, I needed to do so today.

    I have cleaned up a couple of typos (eg, perform instead of the original perfrom) but otherwise the email is identical to what I sent Marcus.

    Like many in education, I am getting tired of those who have little real knowledge about schools and teaching pontificating in this kind of fashion, swallowing whole the line spewed by the self-defined "reformers" who attack anyone who dare disagree with them as wanting to continue a failing status quo.  The real status quo is the continuation of a set of policies that have been tried and failed - in Chicago, in No Child Left Behind - and approaching education with a mindset that loses sight of the individual students except for her test scores, which defines education apparently primarily in economic terms, which somehow thinks that if a student wants to focus on preparing for a trade s/he is being cheated by not being "college ready" at the time of graduation from high school.  We have ratcheted up requirements and seen the drop out rate rise along side, and don't seem to make the connection.  We have students who come to school excited to learn but who learn by late elementary school to consider only what will be on the test.  We say we want to leave no child behind, then for the students most in need of a rich public school education narrow what they get to drilling for low level tests in reading and math, then wonder why thy do not understand science, lack any concept of history or civic responsibility, and when they get to college are increasingly in need of remediation.

    We have now had almost three decades of "reform" that have only made things worse.  Those of us trying to make a difference for children who pass through our care want to yell, scream, kick, throw dirt - whatever it takes - to point out that this emperor of educational reform has no clothes, that those defining education are not educators.  We get the likes of Bill Gates spending tons on a small school initiative only to admit that the money spent made no difference.  Maybe that's because how that initiative was implemented ignored the meaningful research that existed on how to implement small schools.

    I am rambling in this comment.  Perhaps because this will be the last time for a while - with one exception - that I will be able to devote to a diary focusing like this on education.  Students arrive tomorrow.  I begin meaningful instruction on Tuesday.  On Tuesday evening I begin calling my parents.  As of now, I have 192 students on my roles.  I have two sets of siblings.  That means I will try to reach 190 families.  I will not be online much while I do that.

    I said with one exception.  There will be a very important policy brief that will come out in the near future.  When it does, I plan to write about it.   It is very relevant to the future of education in this country.

    Peace.  

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:02:18 PM PDT

    •  What do you think of the LA Times Grading the (8+ / 0-)

      Teachers article and the use of Value Added measurement to determine which teachers are adding value?

      •  sheer stupidity on many levels (66+ / 0-)

        but do not really want to go off on that now.  I may blog about it later, but am awaiting for something I know is coming down the pike in the near future.

        What is really stupid is Arne Duncan putting his foot in his mouth again.

        Remember

        - he approved of firing all the teachers at Central Falls in RI, even though that approach has never worked to improve a school

        - he called Katrina the best thing to happen to New Orleans public schools, although he later tried to walk back that statement

        - on this he said he approved of the LA Times printing the names

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:38:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I watched the LA Times reporter on CNN, (19+ / 0-)

          I wasn't impressed. I feel for the teachers at the low end of the list. What a nightmare.

          "Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied." Friar Lawrence, Romeo and Juliet

          by the fan man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:53:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

            •  Yep (15+ / 0-)

              Once you print a teacher's name you de facto tell people their students have failed and therefore release public info...

              •  You tell the students and their parents (8+ / 0-)

                that the teacher has failed.

                There's going to be a huge push by parents to get their kids out of those teachers' classes.

                There will also be an obvious follow on investigation next year to see if the children of teachers, school administrators, and politically connected people are disproportionately in the classes of high scoring teachers.

                It's a gift that keeps on giving.

                •  baloney (27+ / 0-)

                  you do not understand a lot about value-added assessment or you would not be making that statement

                  I will deal with the value-added assessment issues, and the LA Times issue, in a separate diary.  It is not particularly relevant to the issues of this diary.

                  "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                  by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:28:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The abuse of metrics (15+ / 0-)

                    The reduction of human activity, potential, thought and outcome to a statistical metric is an abuse of statistics and a fraudulent effort to 'capture' such human activity as a number or value. At best, statistics indicate trends that require further investigation to determine their value, relevance or truth.

                    Far more investigation is needed into the companies that produce such metrics, their motivations, clients and benefactors. Indeed, their whole industry should be under serious investigation, for fraud, conflict of interest and their participation in complex 'hit' on public education for corporate profiteers.

                    Our understanding of the world we perceive is filtered by our prior experience and learning. So, at its most innocent, the search for 'objective metrics' fails on the shores of the investigator biases and blinkered perceptions. And it all turns to corruption when the agenda is driven by money and the desire to control.  

                    There are only two factors that drive educational outcomes: motivation and support. While motivation is brought by the student, support is the duty of all those who teach, administrate or plan policy. And even motivation is a variable, heavily influenced by support.

                    And at the level of practicality we already know what improves student outcomes most successfully: smaller class sizes and greater student-teacher interaction.  

                    So why are using common metrical tools to compare rich school districts, with teacher/student ratios as low as 1/4 to dirt-poor districts, with 1/40 ratios? The only reason I can see is to justify attacking the poorer schools for the poverty of their students and blame teachers for the consequences of racist and classist underfunding.

                    When the pro-corporate educators follow such studies, greater investigation is warrranted into the relationship between the investigator-consultants and the corporations that follow behind.

                    The last thing any school should do is waste their money on another corporate consultant, peddling their smarmy sales pitches and their bogus metrical tools. They are usually unqualified to participate in the conversation, except that they backed by corporate power and their political bagmen, usually to a nefarious end.

                    •  Unspoken assumption (4+ / 0-)

                      I am a rank outsider when it comes to education.  However, I also am a fervent believer in its value - to the point that I aver it would take only one generation to radically improve our society were we to invest in truly educating our young.  Given that background, you may make what you will of the following.

                      It seems to me that much of the education policy and practice is based on the factory model.  That is, raw materials (i.e. students) are introduced to the the system, workers (i.e. teachers) perform their tasks as the materials pass along the production line.  And, just as in the factory, the results are mind-numbing; the exact opposite of the result you want.  It seems to me this is an unspoken assumption that never really gets recognized, much less challenged.

                      I wonder what would happen if the assumption were turned on its head and we started with the idea that the perfect situation would be having each student provided individual instruction tailored to their capabilities and interests.  Then, recognizing that the resources to do that are not available, we start working to discover how to make the system approach that ideal within the limits of available resources.

                      •  Because all this metric crap & testing (7+ / 0-)

                        is a 'setup' to prove 'failure' so the corporate cannibals can take over and redesign education to better serve their selfish needs and socio-political designs.

                        If anyone REALLY wanted to see students do better, they'd reduce class sizes by hiring a lot more teachers and increase student teacher interaction. That's the conclusion of 50 years of education research.

                        But that would be the absolute opposite of contemporary 'expert' education policy, despite the fact that they have virtually nothing but their PR campaign to support their expensive and untested conclusions.

                        See the shiny new software/distance learning program that eliminates the need for extra teachers?

                        It functions like educational crack on the budget and is second class education for second class people. Another corporate con brought to you by the same people that gave you unending war and inescapable debt.

                        Doubt me? Read the Rand Corporation's document 'breaking the social contract.' I think that says it all..........

                        •  You don't think better teachers would also help? (0+ / 0-)

                          Or are our teachers already the best possible?

                          •  As teacherken stated (at least in so many words) (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tom Taaffe

                            you have to start with better pay - something you'd think everyone would get, of course the problem is that public schools are predominantly funded via local property taxes making them pretty much chronically underfunded - followed with improved training which has to include the kind of mentoring teacherken also talked about.

                            The other critical element, again noted by teacherken (he does know what he's talking about), is better administrators. Have you EVER heard a story about an over performing school that didn't focus on the superduper principal at the place?

                            FYI, I taught HS Math and then Physics for all of not quite 4 years. While I knew my temperament was going to have me bailing out of the profession at some point, I lasted a far shorter time than I expected. I loved teaching but I hated being a teacher, not to mention the 25% or so immediate increase in pay when I left and an equivalent reduction in work-hours (taking grading homework/labs into account). I figure it was pretty silly that, with a BA in Physics from Cornell and an MS in Education from Penn, they had me doing homeroom, hall duty and cafeteria duty instead of having time to grade labs (I spent anywhere from 5-15 minutes or more per lab, with 100 or so Physics I students, do the math as to how many labs I could possibly do in a year when all the grading had to be done at home in the evenings) or be available to help students during the day rather than after school as the only possible time for "office" hours. Oh for the days when science departments had lab assistants to help with set up and grading....

                            Democracy is a contact sport...

                            by jsmagid on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:56:33 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  If you don't have methods of measuring teacher (0+ / 0-)

                            performance, identifying and rewarding good teachers, and getting rid of bad teachers then how can you expect higher salaries to produce better results?  What would the mechanism be?

                          •  Really, really simple; (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tom Taaffe

                            instead of a backwater job category littered with those who can't make it in more lucrative careers, you'll draw quality people who want to make a difference without having to forgo the financial rewards their ability makes possible.

                            As for measuring teacher performance, the current testing regimen is a travesty. It is doing far more harm than good. The reality is that educational success is tied far more to the socioeconomic status of the school's community than anything else. High-rent area schools can generally afford to hire high quality administrators who know how to find and retain generally high quality teachers. Sure there are always some teachers who ought to be replaced, but you can't abolish the bell curve for teachers any more than you can for any other segment of the population. What you can do is move the mean to the left - if you're a top-notch administrator who knows how to identify teachers who need help and can provide that help in a constructive fashion.

                            Besides, there is something to be said for kids learning how to deal with the occasional less than stellar teacher just as much as getting all they can from the really good ones they are lucky enough to experience.

                            There are lots of things about how we run schools and teach our kids that can be improved. Pretending we can identify bad teachers by having the kids they teach take standardized tests and magically make these teachers disappear isn't how we're going to make that happen.

                            Democracy is a contact sport...

                            by jsmagid on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:41:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  If you can't measure and identify (0+ / 0-)

                            high quality teachers then how will you know that the new people that high salaries bring into the profession are actually any good?

                            High-rent area schools can generally afford to hire high quality administrators who know how to find and retain generally high quality teachers.

                            Actually, the LA Times study found that this was not a major factor - schools with lower performing children had about the same proportion of good and bad teachers as those with high performing children.

                            Key point is that absolute performance is still to a very large extent determined by things like the child's home live and socioeconomic status.  Even a good teacher can't bring a 30th percentile child up to 70th percentile.  But he can bring that kid up into the 40s while a bad teacher can let him slip down into the 20s.

                          •  I haven't seen the LA Times study (0+ / 0-)

                            so I can't comment on it's apparent findings. What I can comment on is my personal experience in several different districts as student, teacher and parent and have found that the correlation of socioeconomics with achievement includes the facilities, the availability of advanced, alternative and inventive programs and the teachers that go with them.

                            As for measurement, there are indicators within a school but I don't believe they can be standardized or even normalized across schools. As an example, I started out with about 105 students in 4 Honors Physics I classes (I had a 5th class of Physics II as well) at the suburban Philly (PA side) HS where I finished my brief teaching career. I had at least 100 at the end of the year. My predecessor for whom I student taught was an Annapolis & MIT grad I believe, retired Naval Commander who subsequently worked for GE and then manufactured aircraft ejection seats and went into teaching after he retired from both, started with more or less the same number of students and ended up with 75. He also ran an electronics elective course where he taught the 10-15 kids in it how to build oscilloscopes and the like, I had no clue what to do with the kits he bequeathed to me - I let the handful of kids who wanted to muck with them knock themselves out and helped them call the manufacturer's hot line (no Internet back then) to get the help I couldn't give them. I'm sure that the students in either of our classes would have done fine on most any standardized test, so which one of us was a "better" teacher? We were certainly vastly different and I would venture to say that my keeping 25% more students in Physics for the full year ought to be taken into consideration but wasn't at the time - no one said boo about it - nor would it be in any measure out there today.

                            Then there is the 1st district I worked at in South Jersey, also a Philly burb, but one where the only time the kids ever went to Philly was for the '80 Flyers victory parade. The teachers were treated more like kids than professionals having to sign in every morning, with a different colored sign in sheet if you hadn't signed in by the designated time and your name announced over the loudspeakers if you failed/forgot to sign in.

                            I had one class of Honors Algebra II - the kids hated me 'cause I actually expected them to do some work - 2 classes of Foundations in Math, mixed pre-Algebra/Algebra I made up of kids who could pass the state competency test, barely, and 2 classes of Basic Math, kids who could not pass that test and at least 25% of them had multiple learning issues as well as problems at home. I did a number of things with the Basic Math kids to get and hold their attention, not to mention just get them to class on time, nearly all of which met with disapproval from the Principal and almost all of which I was forced to stop doing. Many of those kids loved me because I didn't make them sit in their seats for the entire 45 minutes (as the administration wanted) and engaged them in the material to the degree they could be engaged.

                            The reason I had taken the job in the first place was that the Math Department chair was excellent and I wanted the chance to learn from her. She was great - until 1/2 through the year when she was promoted to Asst. Principal and replaced with a 3rd year teacher - no one else in the department wanted the job, all had more seniority besides me - who was totally useless. I left at the end of the year upon mutual agreement that it was best that I not stay; I more or less got fired and no test would show enough variation in scores to give any indication one way or another as to my having been a better than average 1st year Math teacher or the disaster the principal thought me to be.

                            Despite a principal that was, IMO, pretty well atrocious, most of the teachers I worked with at that school were pretty good (maybe because the Sr. Vice-Principal was pretty decent). Very few, if any of them strove to be excellent teachers, however, given the administration's attitude that a "good" school was a quiet school where there were no problems (I used to stand outside the bathrooms to roust my Basic Math kids, smoke billowing out the door, so much for "no problems").

                            Point being if you want better schools you need better administrators, as I  mentioned in my first comment, and a societal commitment to education that is definitely not there in large swaths of the country. You can do all the "measurements" you want, and it won't make any significant difference in the outcomes, except perhaps to make teaching a less fulfilling career and schools more likely to spit out more uniformly mediocre students.

                            Democracy is a contact sport...

                            by jsmagid on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 07:55:49 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Some responses (0+ / 0-)

                            As for measurement, there are indicators within a school but I don't believe they can be standardized or even normalized across schools. As an example, I started out with about 105 students in 4 Honors Physics I classes (I had a 5th class of Physics II as well) at the suburban Philly (PA side) HS where I finished my brief teaching career. I had at least 100 at the end of the year.

                            It is much harder (because of smaller numbers and the lack of universal tests) to apply Value Added to electives.  The big fight is to do it for elementary an middle school students where every student more or less takes the same classes and the basic foundations of future learning are laid.

                            Point being if you want better schools you need better administrators, as I  mentioned in my first comment, and a societal commitment to education that is definitely not there in large swaths of the country.

                            The LA Times is also measuring school level Value Added.  That should measure administration.  Teacher comparisons within schools show that there are still good and bad teachers within good schools and within bad schools.

                            I will totally agree with you that we would be better off if people paid more attention to academics and less to sports, for example.  But Value Added factors that in.  A kid whose parents don't care about school will probably enter your class in a lower percentile so you are starting from a lower base.  Remember - Value Added measures movement between percentiles, not absolute levels, in order to control for external issues that are outside of teacher control.

                          •  You know, I read this stuff, from my grad school (0+ / 0-)

                            alma mater no less (http://www.cgp.upenn.edu/ope_value.html) and I get this really queasy feeling.

                            We're dealing with people, individuals, the teachers, the kids, the parents. Sure, you can tell from wiz-bang statistical analysis what seems to have happened from year to year. You can even pretend that what works for Steve will work for Wilma, except Steve has a completely different personality from Wilma and if Wilma tries to use Steve's techniques she'll fall flat on her face. According to the data Wilma's an average teacher, but funny how she has more former students  come back to visit her than any teacher I've ever known. Yeah, I made that all up, but for sure it's true someplace. Kids get all kinds of things from their teachers and not all of it can be whittled down to numbers.

                            I don't doubt that there is value to be had in the measurements, I seriously doubt the data will be used effectively. As I read through Penn's FAQ it is clear to me that absent substantial help in setting up the kind of program they describe most schools won't be able to come close to setting it up properly and the results will be far from what is being sold.

                            It is highly likely that there is a teacher or two in most schools who probably or even really shouldn't be there. If you had quality administrators and a well designed process for dealing with such outliers - which could include this kind of measurement, but not as the cudgel I expect it is going to be used as, they could and would be moved out of the classroom. In the vast majority of cases teachers just need help doing a better job. They need more resources, such as reading specialists and occupational therapists in elementary schools, proper computer and science labs in middle and high schools and across the board administrators and colleagues with the time and ability to help them figure out how to get to the kids they have trouble with - resources that for the most part wealthy districts have and poor districts don't.

                            What they don't need is an entirely new curriculum model every three years, a couple or three weeks of testing every year taking precious classroom time away from learning and a teaching environment that has you looking over your shoulder instead of at your students.

                            Democracy is a contact sport...

                            by jsmagid on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 06:22:41 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't care if Wilma an Steve (0+ / 0-)

                            You can even pretend that what works for Steve will work for Wilma, except Steve has a completely different personality from Wilma and if Wilma tries to use Steve's techniques she'll fall flat on her face.

                            use the same methods or different methods as long as those methods work.

                            According to the data Wilma's an average teacher, but funny how she has more former students  come back to visit her than any teacher I've ever known.

                            I don't care if her students love her or hate her.  What I do care about is whether or not they learned what they needed to in her class, whether out of love, terror, or for any other reason.

                            It is highly likely that there is a teacher or two in most schools who probably or even really shouldn't be there. If you had quality administrators and a well designed process for dealing with such outliers - which could include this kind of measurement, but not as the cudgel I expect it is going to be used as, they could and would be moved out of the classroom.

                            Just move out of the classroom?  Not fired?  We have to find make work jobs for them and keep paying them?

                            In the vast majority of cases teachers just need help doing a better job. They need more resources

                            Maybe... but again, there's little evidence that most of those resources actually deliver better results.  There is real evidence that better teachers deliver better results.

                          •  Yes, better teachers deliver better results (0+ / 0-)

                            but there is no evidence that you can turn a mediocre teacher into a good teacher because you have stats that tell you which one is which. There is no magic bullet to push teachers from one side of the bell curve to the other any more than you can do it in any other job or career.

                            You can make it a more desirable job and draw better people - that's where I started this little conversation, but turning it into a hypersensitive fishbowl probably isn't going to accomplish that.

                            You may not care about which methods are used, but the methods do in fact have to fit the person you are asking to use them. You cannot force feed a teaching style, it just won't work.

                            And no, you don't necessarily throw someone out on the street for not meeting a particular standard, not if they have worthwhile skills you can use effectively elsewhere in the system. Someone who isn't cutting it as a regular classroom teacher might be great as a tutor for kids needing extra help or be of value due to their knowledge of the community in a non-academic administrative role.

                            And there is lots of data that smaller class sizes have a big impact on learning as there is for the impact of reading specialists on the performance of kids with reading related learning disabilities. I shudder to think where my oldest kid would be today if he didn't get the specialized help he needed to learn to read effectively. Resources do matter, but just like everything else, they are only one piece of a complicated puzzle.

                            There just is no magic bullet, that is the bottom line.

                            Democracy is a contact sport...

                            by jsmagid on Tue Aug 24, 2010 at 06:14:01 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  funny how that logic doesn't work on capitalists? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            jsmagid

                            Except when they are talking about the need for 'quality executives' to plunder the economy for profit. Then, of course, we need to buy them a house in Greenwich, dock their boat in Southampton and pay them millions, even if they lose billions with their frauds.

                            But when it comes to teachers, these same bastards, just harping on about teacher salaries, though many can't even buy a home on what they are paid.

                            Someone must have given those free-market types a 'C' in economics. And now they've come back for revenge.

                          •  The main goal of the right (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dirtandiron

                            in attacking teachers has nothing to do with education at all. They are attacking one of the last sizable bastions of unions - which outside of big cities are often no where near as strong as people are led to believe.

                            Democracy is a contact sport...

                            by jsmagid on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 05:40:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Agreed, sadly, (0+ / 0-)

                            the teacher's unions are weak and habitually cave in to national education policy, no mattter how right wing. They defend their senior faculty and let the right have their way with the younger faculty.

                            At the college level, they swapped the expansion of adjunct labor and the growth of distance learning for early retirement packages. That destroyed college teaching utterly for the next generation, save those coming out of a handful of elite universities. NEA is completely useless and AFT can barely get off the mat.

                            I went to a funeral for a friend yesterday. More than half of those there were labor activists and the comments on the teacher unions were all universally bad. Words like 'sell out', 'pathetic', 'corrupt', 'stupid' peppered the testimony, heads nodding like church full of Baptists when people got more specific with their criticisms. And we were all either officers or veteran staff (past and/or present).

                            Labor has its own problems, including too much 'top down' political structure, little democracy, too much corruption. They completely failed to counter neoliberal education policy and spent all their energy crushing those who did stand up, including me and my friend who recently passed away.

                            The description of a Sopranos-like midnight meeting in a NJ dinner with an AFT rep took the prize. The workers affected were making less than 1000 dollars a course. My union (UAW) ran a very violent smear campaign against me, when I refused to fold negotiations, sell out child care and diversity demands and settle for wages far less than I finally won (the union was willing to settle for less than the administration's initial offer).

                            Like the Democrats, they kill themselves by selling out their base or cutting deals that so completely favor the few against the many, that those who might defend them grow fewer every day.

                            But that's what happens when you fight on your knees.

                          •  You get what you pay for (0+ / 0-)

                            Pay people crap salaries and if there's any good left in the system, canonize them, because they are saints.

                            Its not the teacher, its not the students, its the people writing educational policy and the failure to fund education.

                            And if its not that, its the corruption of public education for the petty privilege of those with their hands on the levers.

                      •  I don't understand why John Taylor Gatto is not (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        alizard, brentbent, Tom Taaffe

                        even part of the discussion.  My views on education have been fundamentally changed by him, and I would like to see his ideas put through some rigorous reality testing.

                        In any case, this former teacher of the year in both New York City and New York State, a 30-year teacher, makes a convincing argument that the very purpose of public schooling in the U.S. is to create malleable workers whose opinions can be easily shaped.  Please don't dismiss this radical claim without reading the evidence Gatto presents which reveal this explicit goal.  Here are a couple of quotes from an address given to Vermont home schoolers.  I cannot stress enough the unfairness of considering Gatto's ideas without first reading his evidence.

                        I would say Gatto's fundamental thesis is this:  "The secret of American schooling is that it doesn't teach the way children learn -- nor is it supposed to."

                        Emphasis added

                        Between 1967 and 1974 teacher training in the US was covertly revamped through the coordinated efforts of a small number of private foundations, certain universities, global corporations and several other interests working through the U.S. Department of Education and through key state education departments, one of which is the state of Vermont.

                        Three critical documents in this transformation are Benjamin Bloom's multi-volume TAXONOMY OF EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES. That was the first. The second was a many-state project begun in 1967 called DESIGNING EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE, and it was set forth in an enormous manual of nearly 1000 pages and finally the BEHAVIORAL TEACHER EDUCATIONAL PROJECT which came in a manual of over 1000 pages. These were inserted into every state education department in the country and moneys were inserted there to pay faculty salaries a certain range of bribes for the school districts that would pioneer the use of these things.

                        Let me start with the DESIGNING EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE papers. They were the collusion with the federal education department and the presumably independent state agencies. They redefined education after the 19th century Germanic fashion as (quoting now from the document) "as a means to achieve important economic and social goals for the national character" -- and I would hasten to add that none of those goals included the maximum development of your son or daughter. State agencies would henceforth "act as Federal enforcers insuring compliance of local schools with Federal directives". The document proclaimed that ( I'm quoting again), "each state education department must be an agent of change", proclaimed further "change must be institutionalized". I doubt if an account of this appeared in any newspaper in the state of Vermont or for that matter any newspaper in the country (U.S.). Education departments were (I am quoting a third time) "to lose their identity as well as their authority in order to form a partnership with the Federal Government".

                        The BEHAVIORAL TEACHER EDUCATIONAL PROJECT outlines specific teaching reforms to be forced on the country, unwillingly of course, after 1967. It also sets out, in clear language, the outlook and intent of its invisible creators. Nothing less than quoting again "the impersonal manipulation through schooling of a future America in which few will be able to maintain control over their own opinions", an America in which (quoting again) "each individual receives at birth, a multipurpose identification number which enables employers and other controllers to keep track of their [underlings]", (underlings is my interpretation, everything else came out of the document), "and to expose them to the directors subliminal influence of the state education department and the federal department acting through those whenever necessary".

                        Going back earlier, Gatto finds the same motivations.  Please take time to read the stated goals in the nested quote below:

                        Emphasis added

                        Between 1906 and 1920, a handful of world famous industrialists and financiers, together with their private foundations, hand picked University administrators and house politicians, and spent more attention and more money toward forced schooling than the national government did. Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller alone spent more money than the government did between 1900 and 1920. In this fashion, the system of modern schooling was constructed outside the public eye and outside the public's representatives. Now I want you to listen to a direct quote, I have not altered a word of this, it's certainly traceable through your local librarians. From the very first report issued by John D. Rockefeller's General Education Board -- this is their first mission statement:  

                        In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions of intellectual and character education fade from their minds and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into men of learning or philosophers, or men of science. We have not to raise up from them authors, educators, poets or men of letters, great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, (he's really covering the whole gamut of employment isn't he?) statesmen, politicians, creatures of whom we have ample supply (whoever the pronoun we is meant to stand for there). The task is simple. We will organize children and teach them in an perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

                        Don't believe everything you think.

                        by geomoo on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:22:03 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Was the Tri-Lateral Commission involved? (0+ / 0-)

                          Or was it the Bilderbergs?  

                          I'm sure the Illuminati were behind it all though.

                          They're also the ones who really knocked down the twin towers and hid the fact that Obama is really Malcolm X's Kenyan born love child!

                          •  What you just did is called ideology. (0+ / 0-)

                            You think you can know things without facts because your ideology will tell you answers.  If it seems like something you heard of that was an unfounded conspiracy theory, then you can know it is also an unfounded conspiracy theory, on the basis of your ideology.  And you think you are being scientific and realistic.

                            In fact, you're being just as unscientific as any know-it-all ideologue.

                            Don't believe everything you think.

                            by geomoo on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 07:44:46 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Do you have any evidence that within LAUSD (0+ / 0-)

                      which is where the Value Added method has just been applied by the LA Times and the results made public there are anything like this kind of disparity?

                      So why are using common metrical tools to compare rich school districts, with teacher/student ratios as low as 1/4 to dirt-poor districts, with 1/40 ratios?

                      In fact, do you have any evidence that other than the occasional one room school house in isolated communities in places like Alaska there are ANY school districts with 1/4 teacher to student ratios?

                      •  Upper Brookville NY (0+ / 0-)

                        I mispoke, slightly. Their student-teacher ratio is 6-1. Rich town, well-paid teachers. Low student-teacher ratios.

                        The endless abuse of teachers and/or students in the face of such inequity is obscene.

                        Human potential and activity cannot be reduced to a number. Nor can any stat capture it, because no one can capture all the variables inherent in human relations. So, any number produced out of measuring human activity or potential is inherently wrong, because variables are missing from the equation.

                        These numbers are just part of corporate America's 'hit' on public education and a prelude to privatization, downsizing of education and/or corporate meddling in public education for its selfish benefit.

                        Value-added analysis should be saved for baseball rotary leagues. In real life, its nonsense.

                •  That is so disruptive (6+ / 0-)

                  of a school district that you may as well just close the school up.  Absolutely no learning would go on there.

                  •  Well, it forces change (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sparhawk

                    LA School District will be facing a parent revolt if they try to put kids in the classes of teachers who had poor results.

                    They will either have to force students into those classes even if their parents protest - very hard - or those classes will be filled with the children of non-English speaking immigrants and parents who don't know or care.  That will almost certainly result in a civil rights lawsuit since those parents will probably be disproportionately poor and minority.

                    LA School District is going to be forced to get those teachers out of classrooms.  That's going to have to mean firing them.  They will have to find a way around the union and just get it done.

                    •  The measures (14+ / 0-)

                      on if a teacher is doing well are wrong.  The parents decide if they like a teacher or not based on their own internal mechanisms instead of what really makes a teacher a good teacher.  For instance, a few of the teachers my kids had were not nice people.  One year half of a class quit the school because they did not like a teacher's personality.  For the 25 years before that people suffered her rather borish ways and the kids survived her class, in fact thrived in the next grade!  She was a strict, not cuddly teacher who actually taught successfully.  These parents didn't like her and the result was for them to break the system.  There is an example of parents choosing to get a "better" teacher.  
                          I, as a parent, am responsible for my kids education.  If they were not doing well I hired tutors or bucked up my contribution at home.  The schools do the bulk of the educating and it is my job to make sure it works for my kids.  The schools need to improve but better teachers will not result from this tactic.  The problem is much deeper.  Right now your best option is to add to the children's education yourself and hire tutors when facing a brick wall.  

                      •  Re (3+ / 0-)

                        The parents decide if they like a teacher or not based on their own internal mechanisms instead of what really makes a teacher a good teacher.  For instance, a few of the teachers my kids had were not nice people.  One year half of a class quit the school because they did not like a teacher's personality.  For the 25 years before that people suffered her rather borish ways and the kids survived her class, in fact thrived in the next grade!

                        The point of the value-add study is precisely to eliminate this kind of thing from teacher evaluations. The study only tests "is our children learning" (as a certain incompetent President once put it) and ignores all other factors (or more precisely integrates them into the measurement: a teacher that is hated by students but really teaches them well would show up as a "good teacher" here, as it should be).

                        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                        by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:15:00 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  This suggests a solution (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Sparhawk, SoCalSal

                        Everyone who thinks that this information should not be published or that this is not a useful measurement gets to put their kids in the classes of the teachers in the bottom 10% of value added.

                        •  I am saying (11+ / 0-)

                          that this will not help you get better teachers.  The standards on which the ratings are based are wrong.  Why do you want teachers for your kids who game the system to produce the correct results in order to keep their job?  That does not produce a good teacher it results in one that teaches to a test. The publishing in papers of the names of teachers who aren't producing?  Producing what?  Rote learning that serves no one.  The tests are flawed.  The only reason we have them is because teaching and learning is so hard to define and measure.  There is no way to measure progress in each individual so we have gone for the cookie cutter test that measures nothing but makes you feel good...or bad depending on your kid.  Teacher Ken is telling us that it is a wrong way to go and so are many other teachers, the people who are actually doing the teaching.      
                          When my kids were in school I realized that the way to progress for the schools was to get rid of the administrators.  There are far too many.  The problems I had with the school were directly related to what the administration and school board were doing.  The teachers are at the mercy of these entities.  Why are you not screaming and asking for names in that case?  They have the money and the control of your school.  That is where reform needs to happen.  Going after teachers is not the answer you seek.

                          •  Some people believe this. (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk, tobendaro, SoCalSal

                            that this will not help you get better teachers.  The standards on which the ratings are based are wrong.  Why do you want teachers for your kids who game the system to produce the correct results in order to keep their job?

                            Others, like me, believe that this is the only standard that matters.

                            So let's be fair.

                            I think it's critically important for kids to be in the classes of teachers who do well on the Value Added measure.  You don't.

                            So you put your kids in the classes of the teachers in the bottom 10% so there's more room for my kids and those of other people who think like me in the classes of the teachers with high value added.

                            Agreed?

                          •  Exactly. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            keirdubois

                            My standards are not yours.  I don't want one way of defining learning to be the standard, you do.  This is why a variety of schools would be a good idea.

                          •  Well, we have simple solutions right now (0+ / 0-)

                            If you discovered that all of your childrens' teachers were in the bottom 10% of the Value Added ranking what would you do?

                            I would throw a screaming shit fit with the principal, my city councilman, and anyone else, look at transferring schools, and if worst came to worst, shell out for private school.

                            Would you just accept it since these are not your standards?

                          •  I would look at the teachers (0+ / 0-)

                            myself and talk to them about their class.  I wouldn't let the district or an outside test decide for me.  One of the highest rated teachers in our high school is such a horrible person that I tried to get my son transfered out of her class.  It was not possible so I sent a written statement about the incident I had with her and the subsequent request to have my son taken out of her class.  She knew I meant business and would brook no problems.  She behaved and was pleasant to my son, who btw, I told nothing about said incident to because I wanted him to take the class thinking she was a reasonable adult.  I wanted him to pass it and learn.  If he had know the circumstance one of his friends would have lit her house up, I am afraid.  Her class is a joke and not up to any standard of excellence that I can see.  And she is one of the top rated.  Their standards are not mine, thus our disagreement.

                          •  If you must (0+ / 0-)

                            evaluate teachers, do it on a rolling average of student performance over several years.

                            How have the students done in life? Finished college, vocational school, whatever.

                          •  Well, by the time you can see that (0+ / 0-)

                            a teacher is failing his students in later life he has already failed thousands of students and potentially damaged them forever.

                            We need faster, albeit otherwise less ideal, measurements.

                          •  I have taught thirty years (5+ / 0-)

                            and have seen many really good teachers get out of the profession.  They have been replaced in many instances by people who didn't go through the traditional route to become a teacher; they went through an alternative certification.  Some of these wound up being good teachers, but many didn't.  

                            The more the current villifying of teachers and teacher unions is pushed, the more we will see teachers leaving and upcoming potential teachers steer in another direction.  If Florida had been successful in the proposals there, would any good teachers be going there?  

                        •  And everyone who thinks that this information... (10+ / 0-)

                          ...should be published gets to put their kids in classes where they learn how to fill out standardized tests instead of actually learning useful and meaningful things.

                          Standardized tests should be entirely abolished until idiot politicians and idiot newspaper reporters are required to take a class or two in their proper use before legislating and/or writing about them.

                          What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

                          by mistersite on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:58:53 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Fine with me. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            And everyone who thinks that this information... ...should be published gets to put their kids in classes where they learn how to fill out standardized tests instead of actually learning useful and meaningful things.

                            My kids will learn arithmetic, algebra, geometry, English spelling, grammar, and vocabulary.

                            Your kids can learn to have inquiring minds without acquiring the tools they need to answer the questions they raise.

                          •  No they won't. (17+ / 0-)

                            They'll learn all the tricks of answering questions about arithmetic, algebra, geometry, English spelling, grammar, and vocabulary on standardized tests.

                            What they won't learn is how to think creatively, how to think critically, how to actually write a sentence or construct an argument, how to build a project and see it through to completion, how to read not just for the questions on the test but for pleasure and study and knowledge.

                            In other words, your children will be trained to be the perfect automatons for their corporate overlords - able to answer any question in a standard format, but unable to ask any questions. Your children will be the perfect consumers, continually accepting the crumbs from the corporate masters' table without having the tools to creatively critique the system.

                            I want schools that produce citizens, not consumers.

                            What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

                            by mistersite on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:07:37 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dismalest Scientist

                            They'll learn all the tricks of answering questions about arithmetic, algebra, geometry, English spelling, grammar, and vocabulary on standardized tests.

                            You know, the kind of "tricks" in which they know how to solve arithmetic and algebra problems, spell words in English and know what they mean.

                            What they won't learn is how to think creatively, how to think critically, how to actually write a sentence or construct an argument, how to build a project and see it through to completion, how to read not just for the questions on the test but for pleasure and study and knowledge.

                            I will bet dollars to doughnuts that teachers who are good at teaching raw subject matter are also good at teaching these items as well. I'll take the good subject matter teachers 10 times out of 10 and take my chances with this stuff.

                            In other words, your children will be trained to be the perfect automatons for their corporate overlords - able to answer any question in a standard format, but unable to ask any questions. Your children will be the perfect consumers, continually accepting the crumbs from the corporate masters' table without having the tools to creatively critique the system.

                            Again, pure assertion on your part, no data to back it up, and certainly not a good reason to throw aside established scientific methods of understanding student performance.

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:16:09 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  not necessarily (14+ / 0-)

                            I did SAT test prep for two different companies for a total of 7 years.  I got kids to the 500 level on the SAT who had low Cs in Algebra.  You can do well on multiple choice tests by process of elimination, without having to know the right answer.

                            And that assumes that there is a correction for guessing as there is on the SAT.  On many high stakes tests there is not.

                            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                            by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:22:39 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Let me point out that even process of (0+ / 0-)

                            elimination requires some understanding of the problem and the thinking behind it.

                          •  DEAL! (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            Your kids get the wonderful creative teachers whose contribution doesn't show up on Value Add measurements and who are therefore in the bottom 10%.

                            My kids get the slots your kids free up with teachers who teach to the test and have high Value Add.

                            Will you accept?

                          •  On teaching "facts" (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dismalest Scientist

                            I have been in a lot of classrooms and seen the aftermath of classes where the intent is not to clutter the students' minds with lots of easily-testable facts, but rather to give them an overall understanding of the theory of what is happening.

                            Unfortunately many of them end up knowing nothing. They accept the theories as a matter of faith. Not understanding the facts that the theories are based on and how we construct theories results in not only a distrust in the theories themselves, but also the idea that anybody who can imagine anything can come up with as good a theory as anybody else's.

                            "Too big to fail" is not too big to jail.

                            by Angela Quattrano on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:47:44 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Standardized testing destroys writing skills (0+ / 0-)

                            For a nickel, I'd toss two thirds of my freshman 101 classes off to the writing clinic. Standardized tests - at the college level - are a way for teachers to cheat on their workload.

                            Write the test. Let the kids fill out the scantron sheets. Drop the test sheets in the scantron machine and - zip! - grading's done.

                            They never learn how to write an essay, they never learn how to build an argument on paper and by the time they end up in my class, their writing skills are no better than a confused 8th grader.

                            At least the 8th grader is going thru puberty, so you can forgive their confusion.

                            You can't forgive that when education policy makers demand such 'reforms', because it means they don't want anyone capable of writing an essay and exposing their fraud.

                          •  It is important to note (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            alizard, blueoasis, Tom Taaffe

                            that large amounts of money go to buy those standardized tests.  Trace who owns the companies who make them and who publish preparation materials for them.  Clue:  one name you will find is Bush.

                          •  Is there anything bad that Bush isn't making (0+ / 0-)

                            money from?

                            He's like Dr. Evil!

                            Where's Austin Powers when you need him?

                            I bet Bush stole his Mojo!

                    •  Students win (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      blueoasis

                      what is the downside for the average student if the teacher gets fired?

                      If you want better performance in schools put the onus on the students and their parents.

                      Do it like the military schools do it. I don't mean the "trade schools, AKA academies." If you drop out of a Navy A school, AF technical school, Army technical school, then it is not the teacher that gets fired and is assigned crap duty, the student is assigned crap jobs for the enlistment. And everyone else is happy not having dumb jobs during their enlistment.

                  •  Parents? (0+ / 0-)

                    So...where are the parents in all this?
                    The School Boards?
                    Obama is -- big time -- RIGHT

          •  At least according to the LA Times article (11+ / 0-)

            one of the “less effective” teachers' first questions was, “Why wasn't I given this information sooner?’

          •  It's not the Lies Angeles Times for nothing. (9+ / 0-)

            When Otis Chandler was given the boot, the Los Angeles Times lost whatever credibility it once had. It started moving back to its pre-Chandler version where it openly champed "True Industrial Freedom" (i.e., no unions) on its' masthead. And of course when the Chicago Fibune bought it, it's now just as right wing as they are.

        •  I gather you disapprove of printing the names? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk, Caractacus
          - on this he said he approved of the LA Times printing the names

          To what extent do you feel parents have a right to know this information?

          •  Parents always had the right (23+ / 0-)

            Test scores and school rankings were available online at the STAR website, and every parent has the right to request copies of their children's scores-if they choose to. (The irony is much anger will come from parents who didn't choose to and are thus shocked at their child's lack of progress!)

            On the other hand, California's also a state with a high special education and esl population-and as I know in New York, many people don't take the trouble to look deeper into test scores and differentiate.

            Thus it's possible for a school in which there's a classroom where all students improve by two grade levels to nonetheless be ranked lower than a school whose tests scores lowered, but still remained substantially higher. Worse, those schools will likely have high overturn or be otherwise affected, meanig the successful program will be erased. This is a hypothetical to give you an idea of MY personal feelings on the subject. I have come to teach special education, and am shocked at the ways I see government using our neediest students and their struggle to achieve for their own ends.

            I have just finished John Merrow's book on education. His analogy is to that of a swimming coach. They do not let children who sink pass the class, he reasoned. My immediate response was, but children do sink-I've taken swimming classes! That's why they have lifeguards, and what happens is children go and take the class again! They don't fire the lifeguard and the swimming instructor and put in a new one, because it's counterproductive and a form of going backwards... But I begin to ramble now...

            •  You don't understand value added (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk, Caractacus

              Thus it's possible for a school in which there's a classroom where all students improve by two grade levels to nonetheless be ranked lower than a school whose tests scores lowered, but still remained substantially higher. Worse, those schools will likely have high overturn or be otherwise affected, meanig the successful program will be erased. This is a hypothetical to give you an idea of MY personal feelings on the subject.

              You should reread the article.  They specifically adjust for this by measuring the CHANGE in each student's ranking each year.

              In your example, the teacher with the class that improved two grade levels would get a very high rating while the teacher whose students started (and ended) higher but went down percentile wise would get a low ranking.

              •  Thus, "Value-added" is zero-sum (23+ / 0-)

                If it is done on rankings (which is so stupid that I almost cannot fathom the idiocy of this notion), then this is simply a teacher destruction device.  Some students will advance, some will retreat, some will stay the same, but the only way to get improvement from the teacher is by advancing, and this means by some other students failing to advance.

                What idiot came up with that?

                I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

                by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:22:47 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Same kind of people who came up with every other (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sparhawk

                  ranking system.

                  For some people to be in the 99th percentile in the SATs others need to be in the 1st percentile.  

                  This is how you avoid the Lake Wobegone syndrome in which everyone is "Above Average".

                  •  Sorry, you are wrong about that (18+ / 0-)

                    Yes, we do wish to avoid the "Lake Woebegon" situation.

                    But, what we really need a criterion for success, so that ALL can succeed if in fact they do, and also all can fail.

                    A ranking system, if that is the approach, is simply terrible.

                    Everyone cannot be above average, but everyone CAN be above the success cutpoint for the 3rd grade.

                    I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

                    by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:35:49 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  success cutpont for 3rd grade is (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      northsylvania, lilypew, greengemini

                      therefore then going to have to be what a child with an IQ of 75 (this is not special ed qualifying, just the "slow learner" that sits in every classroom) could achieve.  There is a fast difference between what an 8 or 9 year old child with an IQ of 75 is capable of vs one with an IQ of say, 125, particularly in areas that depend on language development level such as reading and writing. Think about it.  A 9 year old with an IQ of 75 is going to be capable of language work at about a 6.5 year old level, which is just emerging decoding and reading skills.  One with an IQ of 125 could well be reading like an 11 year old.  Vast differences there.  More common statistically are the kids with IQ's of 90.  At age 8 they are functioning more like 7 year olds, again just very early literacy skills and still learning to decode.    We need a system that respects individual differences instead of some cookie cutter standards.

                      Personally I like Scouting and U.S. Pony Club for examples of learning organizations where children can progress individually. Notice they don't put children in grades.  They do have assessments and criteria (.e.g badges in Scouts, ratings tests in Pony Club).

                      •  Scouting is NOT a system in which (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        copymark, JamieG from Md

                        kids progress individually.

                        Progress thru Tenderfoot, 2nd class, 1st class should be highly structured and rigid.  The focus should be "Advancement".

                        My son was in a "kid-run troop".  It was a horrible dismal experience.  He was in for 2 years, and never got to 2nd class.  The morons who ran the troop did not organize ANYTHING, even a 2 mile hike.  They concetrated so much on "kid-run" SHIT that nothing was accomplished.  I should have turned the fucking morons in for incompetence, but just didn't.  Plus they were Jesus morons, and this too was a point of contention.

                        After 1st class, there is more individual advancement, but before that it should be structured.  When I was in Scouts, we all became 1st class in about 6 months, because the adults structured it, and got us to progress.

                        Individual assessment is overrated.

                        I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

                        by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:57:11 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Many very successful organizations use ranking (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Sparhawk, soros

                      For example, GE ranks all management by quintile.  If you're in the bottom quintile you're given a short time to improve and then you are out.

                      There's no reason allow all to succeed.  That's just an invitation to lower the bar.  Instead, we get rid of the worst performers and replace them with new entrants.

                      •  That's a pile of crap (21+ / 0-)

                        It's a horrible system.  If you wish that in private industry, fine.  In education, it is a perversion.  You don't get any control over who comes your way.  You get kids, some pre-failures, some successes.

                        This kind of disgusting model will destroy the teaching profession.

                        I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

                        by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:22:04 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Are you suggesting we do this (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          not this time

                          with public school school students?

                          Instead, we get rid of the worst performers and replace them with new entrants.

                          •  No, (s)he is talking about... (4+ / 0-)

                            ...doing it with public school teachers.

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:56:47 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Nope... to the teachers. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            soros, C Barr
                          •  I find this entire argument about good v. bad (16+ / 0-)

                            teachers really frustrating.  When we discuss failing schools, "failing" or bad teachers, and kids who are not learning, we are not really discussing middle class and affluent school districts typically found in the suburbs, are we?  

                            The real discussion is about how to improve education and educational outcomes in urban districts that serve primarily low income and minority students, as well as many rural districts.

                            I am a product of suburban public education as are my children and husband.  We all have advanced degrees.  Throughout all of our combined years of education, we did not have 1 unqualified teacher.  There was one teacher who was rude and condescending to students, but she was probably not unqualified.  

                            One of my children is currently an inner city public school teacher.  His  first grade students live violent lives.  Shootings, drugs, and gangs are very prevalent.  My son is nationally board certified.  How much can he do to overcome the lack of language skills, negligent parenting, and overwhelming stress in the lives of his students, such that their test scores match suburban test scores?  He has commented that most of his students would be placed in LD classrooms if they lived in the suburbs. The school district (Chicago) refuses to test these children for learning disorders.  And so are you arguing that the teacher should be punished for low test scores?

                            Incidentally, the only variable shown to correlate with student achievement through regression analysis is mother's vocabulary.  Not to belabor the point, but the vocabulary of a teenage drop-out mother is simply not comparable  to that of a 30-something mother with say, a law degree.

                            Are there some incompetent teachers out there?  Sure, a small percentage.  As teacherKen says, they should receive guidance and training to improve.  To hold them accountable for our nation's refusal to address poverty and racism is the real crime.  What is needed is massive infusions of resources and social interventions to provide adequate housing, access to healthy food, jobs, healthcare and safe living environments; only then will you see significant improvements to educational outcomes.  

                            In the meantime, in Chicago, at least, there are a whole slew of public school principals who are not competent or qualified to run the inner city schools to which they are assigned.  This is something that should be addressed forthwith.

                          •  And if the problem is "bad teachers", (8+ / 0-)

                            what changed?  did we used to have good teachers but now they've somehow gone bad?  I've heard older teachers ask, "When do I get to be a good teacher again?"  You seldom hear as part of the discussion that we don't have the same students now.  Electronic media has reduced attention spans and increased the need for constant stimulation in our youth.  Popular culture provides little emphasis upon education, hard work, persistence, and thinking ahead for the future.  Instead it glorifies youth and instant payoffs.  The world has changed, including our students.

                          •  I'll tell you what changed (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            soros

                            Around 1983, when "A Nation at risk" was published, Moynihan did the piece about the pathology in black families.  At that time, single mothers were 25% of the black families, and 5% of the white families.

                            Today, single mothers are 80-90% of the black families.  80-90%.  That is NOT a misprint.  White mothers are now where black mothers were back then, 25-30%.

                            This is a vast proportion of the problem.  Single parenthood.

                            I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

                            by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:46:06 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Where did you get this statistic? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            brentbent

                            I am a black woman who is married and about to have a baby.  I know lots of other married black women.  I find it hard to believe we represent only 20% of the total AA community.

                          •  It's hard to find the exact figures (0+ / 0-)

                            I have seen 70% for blacks, 80%, 90% for first-time mothers.  The white numbers are creeping up.  White numbers are now where black numbers were 30 years ago.  Soon, white numbers will be higher, since irresponsible morons like Jennifer Aniston are running around saying stupid shit like "Oh, men are irrelevant.  Women can do it all!"  Well, when she has a child, there will be times when you want someone to help you.  If you are married, and your husband/wife are reasonable, you have that.  If you are not married, there are those times at 2AM when things are not going well that you will appreciate a helper.  Gay, straight, whatever.

                            Single motherhood is a catastrophe.  A single person cannot raise a child and do a good job.  My wife and I raised 3 to adulthood (23, 20, 20).  We did not clean the house for 10 years to keep up with the kids.

                            How can a single person cook, clean, help with the homework, and save for the college for the kids?  Answer: They cannot.

                            I commmend you for your sensible choices.  My wife and I were married for 6 years prior to our first, and used planning to control fertility.  This also is an issue, since birth control is not free, and people have a need for friendship and sex even if they are not married.  If they have cheap birth control, it makes the whole thing do-able.  The same assholes who are opposed to abortion are opposed to birth control, since birth control makes sex easier. Well, sex is easy, birth control or no birth control.  What we MUST do is ensure that all women have CONTROL of their own fertility.

                            I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

                            by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:41:07 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It's frankly terrifying... but it's nearly true (0+ / 0-)

                            http://www.cnn.com/...

                            While 28 percent of white women gave birth out of wedlock in 2007, nearly 72 percent of black women and more than 51 percent of Latinas did.

                            The stats are even worse than they look.  Some (I don't think anyone knows how many) of the white women who give birth out of wedlock are successful professionals (think Madonna as an extreme case) with the money to hire help and properly support their children on their own.  This is much rarer among minorities.

                          •  Well, your teachers get to be good teachers (0+ / 0-)

                            when we have a way of measuring their performance and identifying good and bad teachers.

                          •  Good for your son (0+ / 0-)

                            I hope he understands the concept of Value Added better than you do.

                            One of my children is currently an inner city public school teacher.  His  first grade students live violent lives.  Shootings, drugs, and gangs are very prevalent.  My son is nationally board certified.  How much can he do to overcome the lack of language skills, negligent parenting, and overwhelming stress in the lives of his students, such that their test scores match suburban test scores?

                            No one expects to.

                            Presumably your son's students come into his class with low test scores.  They are already in a low percentile.

                            Your son should be measured based on what percentile they are in when they leave.

                            How well has he done compared to other teachers who start with students at the same level?

                        •  Value added eliminates this issue (0+ / 0-)

                          If you wish that in private industry, fine.  In education, it is a perversion.  You don't get any control over who comes your way.  You get kids, some pre-failures, some successes.

                          If your kids are bad then when they start with you they will already be in low percentiles.  Read the article - Value Add compensates for this.

                          •  And if they're already in high percentiles (5+ / 0-)

                            then there's little room for them to show improvement on the tests -- even if they make tremendous strides during the year. The tests simply aren't designed to measure above a certain "ceiling", and that ceiling is tied pretty closely to grade level.

                            There's no easy fix for that problem, either: how do you design a test that can measure fairly how a student progresses beyond grade level, when progress beyond grade level is going to be highly individualized? E.g., a student may learn American Civil War history at the High School level while in 4th grade. That's wonderful -- but how do you measure that, when the High School level tests are designed to measure an entire year's worth of American History?

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:43:45 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Any teacher whose kids are already all in the (0+ / 0-)

                            90th percentile and higher is going to have a hard time showing progress.

                            How common is this problem?

                          •  "Problem"? (3+ / 0-)

                            First of all, I hardly see this as a problem.

                            In any case, this phenomenon is particularly commmon at the high school level, where classes are commonly offered at multiple levels of ability.

                            And, though I don't expect everyone here to agree with me on this, I'm in favor of ability grouping (but not "tracking") even in the lower grades. In that sense, I'd like the "problem" to be even more common.

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:15:30 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I agree... but then if we do that it shouldn't (0+ / 0-)

                            be hard to add questions on the tests that are validated for the top 10% so we can add an extra decimal point to the percentile for the kids up above 90%.

                          •  common enough, and not the only problem (6+ / 0-)

                            another is regression to the mean

                            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                            by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:24:51 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Value Add compares similar students (0+ / 0-)

                            so regression to the mean is controlled for.

                            I would be interested to see how many classes really have so many high performing students that you can no longer use Value Add to measure improved performance.

                            I don't know if the LA Time study published this info.

                          •  actually it does not (8+ / 0-)

                            because it is still based on flawed underlying tests, and if you start to control for multiple factors, you widen the measurement error of what is left.

                            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                            by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:24:03 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  And (0+ / 0-)

                            No child left behind left no child behind and the race to the top will be a race to the top and value-added results have added compensated values. Repeat it often enough and I guess it'll become the accepted truthiness regardless of the facts. BTW, how did teachers in the decades past, that empirically did better jobs teaching kids, survive without all this data? Perhaps it's because people who know how to teach teach and those who don't often focus their careers towards administration where they make decisions on how to teach kids.

                            Krusty the Klown Brand Irate Emoticons (tm) So You Can Express the Hate You Didn't Know You Had!

                            by brentbent on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:47:44 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How do you know that earlier teachers (0+ / 0-)

                            knew how to teach?

                            It is very possible that the higher performance of students back in the Leave it to Beaver days was because poorer students dropped out and disruptive students were expelled.

                      •  "Get rid of the worst performers?" (8+ / 0-)

                        This is PUBLIC SCHOOL we're talking about here. You don't "get rid of" a third grader. This is why the same standards that apply to a for-profit corporation CAN NEVER APPLY to a system of public education.

                        "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

                        by Ivan on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:24:29 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  This is your suggested system for CHILDREN? (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        3goldens, Only Needs a Beat

                        we get rid of the worst performers and replace them with new entrants.

                        ...or this?

                        If you're in the bottom quintile you're given a short time to improve and then you are out.

                        Wow...it's good to know that you're so interested in the future of this country that you want to just toss under-performing children out like yesterday's newspaper. What happened to EDUCATING them?

                        This isn't GE...it isn't a business. It's our country's education system - and we don't "replace" students, we educate them.

                        •  No (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Dismalest Scientist

                          It is his proposed method for TEACHERS.

                          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                          by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:48:28 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I'd kinda like to hear HIM say that... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            3goldens

                            ...unless you're his press secretary.

                          •  I'm... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dismalest Scientist

                            ...just another commenter here but it's plainly obvious on the face of it what he is talking about. Deliberate (?) misunderstandings don't help us get any better discussion.

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:53:54 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Presumption is not my line... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            3goldens, Jake Williams

                            His meaning is obvious to YOU. Misunderstanding happens when we don't seek clarification - and it happens far too often at DK.

                          •  Clarification is good (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            soros, Dismalest Scientist

                            However, I followed this entire thread with perfect ease and the meanings are obvious. DS never once mentioned at all getting rid of under-performing students, and made repeated references to measuring teachers and analogized it to how people in corporate America are measured.

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:07:24 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Sparhawk, of course, is correct (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            soros

                            I hope you're not a teacher!  You need to work on your reading comprehension.

                          •  gee, can we do the same with inane commenters (5+ / 0-)

                            here at daily kos? You know, the kind of person who suggests that maybe the reason unionized states have higher rates of dismissal of tenured teachers than non-unionized states is because perhaps they have a higher rate of sexual misconduct.  Where's your cite for that?

                            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                            by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:28:49 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't have a cite for it (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            soros, Dismalest Scientist

                            I wasn't making that claim and specifically said that I wasn't making it in the comment.

                            Jesus, why are people so dense?

                            If you think the fact that unionized dismissal rates being higher than nonunion dismissal rates is significant, you have to provide some data and perhaps a cite to explain it. There could be numerous other explanations for the phenomenon and if you are arguing that it is significant than you have to explain why and how rather than just implying that the reason for the higher dismissal rates is that unions have high standards or something.

                            Otherwise, don't make the claim.

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:38:57 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I have provided cite previously n/t (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            dreamghost

                            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                            by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:39:20 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I can't find the exact cite myself (0+ / 0-)

                            because I can't remember what I saved it as on my hard drive. But you can read about it here.

                            Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

                            by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:43:08 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You provided a cite that dismissal rates (0+ / 0-)

                            are higher for unionized than non-unionized teachers?

                            Where?

                            BTW, if true, what does this say about the claim that unions are necessary to protect teachers from unfair dismissal by administrators?

                      •  I agree. Get rid of the worst performers. (12+ / 0-)

                        Study after study has demonstrated that parents - their education level, their time spent with their kids, the kind of home environment they provide - have by far the most influence on a child's educational achievement.

                        It's pretty clear what needs to happen here: the bottom 10% of students should be taken away from their parents and given to better parents who will help them achieve.

                        This is where your logic leads.

                        What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

                        by mistersite on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:01:14 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  That manager has (6+ / 0-)

                        control over hiring and firing personnel.  A teacher has NO control over which students are in the class.  HUGE difference.

                        Name a business that would allow a group of people to be put to work, with management having no way to fire them.  If they sleep at work, it is the manager's fault for not inspiring them.  If there is a product created, there is no control over the quality of the raw materials.  Who would consent to that?  Teachers do it every day.  

                •  And, what about the value added by a (42+ / 0-)

                  teacher of electives not considered worth paying attention to by the formula because their class is not a core requirement? So, let's say I teach psychology or sociology, and in the course of my class 7 or 8 of my students improve their English usage by 3 grade levels because I make it a bedrock skill in my course and spend hours of extra time before and after school working with those students one-on-one and in small groups to get them ready for college.

                  My English teacher colleague down the hall spends no extra time with her students because she has to be at happy hour by 4 o'clock and besides, as she told me last year, "there's spell check anyway on every computer they're writing their essays on today. Grammar check, too. I really don't understand why they're not better at English by now, but it's really not my problem."

                  She get's the multi-thousand dollar raise, and the sense of justification of her teaching approach, from the value-added model adopted in most districts (that adopt them) and I get 0. Goose eggs. Crickets.

                  How long before I go do something else more likely to reward me for me commitment, problem solving, and critical thinking? Something outside of education?

                  What happens to those students, and all those that follow them then?

                  "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

                  by Caractacus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:42:17 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  English is NOT grammar and spelling. (36+ / 0-)

                    That, in fact, is the least of it.  That woman should NOT be an English teacher!  

                    One of the best teachers I observed last year has now left the profession, out of frustration.  In his previous district, he taught students how to game the system.  He taught them how to attack the timed writing essay for the yearly test.  Write 5 paragraphs, erase their voice, avoid all creativity, don't get hung up on how stupid the prompt is, don't sound like themselves but as generic, bland, and "typical" as possible.  

                    Timed essays are the LEAST valuable kind of writing--students are not invested in the topic and they don't write as they will for almost every real life situation, which is above all by revising.  But that's how we measure their writing abilities, as opposed to letting them choose the topic and work on a project in stages--which would give us a much better idea of what they're capable of.

                    Anyway, he got the essay thing down to a science, and test scores shot up so much that the principal threw him a pizza party and the students shaved him a mohawk.  Fun.  He felt pretty bad.  He knew how little he was actually contributing to their education, but that's what he had to do.  Teach them a skill like trained monkeys, so they perform as expected.

                    They weren't doing the real work of writing, however, which is exploration, critical thinking, knowledge building, actual communication.  He was teaching the OPPOSITE of what he wanted to, which is for them to find their own voice, style, emotional investment.  And it worked, unfortunately.  

                    Numbers are only a small part of what we need to know and do.  And they've become our only measure.    

                    Privilege is the greatest enemy of right. --Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

                    by mozartssister on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:03:15 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Try teaching students who have spent the last (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Caractacus

                      eight years learning that this is what writing is, how to write a college-level research project. Sometimes I have to start from scratch. If I can get them to stop texting their bff's in the middle of class.

                      Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

                      by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:56:28 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  problem starts earlier (7+ / 0-)

                        we have kids showing up in our high school who because there is no testing for AYP of Social Studies have effectively had none before they arrive at our school.  One year of the 2nd half of American History does not sufficiently prepare them for the background of government, much of which requires me to reteach parts of the first half for them to have a context of how we wound up with the shape of government we have.

                        And now that the state has dropped constructed responses, they are arriving without even the practice of the not very good five paragraph essay.  Writing is a real problem.  

                        And if I take time to work on their writing in my class, and a student doesn't pass the state test required for graduation which does not have any writing, am I shortchanging my student?  Teachers are being pushed ever more into what I consider educational malpractice, because the tests drive everything.

                        And I guess,now that I am about to leave this diary for the next few hours at least, it is time to once again remind people of the wisdom of Donald Campbell's law:  

                        The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.

                        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                        by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:03:04 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I know it will get worse. (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Cassandra Waites, Caractacus

                          The students with whom I work have only spent 8-9 years in public schools under NCLB. If I could figure out a way to do it, I would start tracking their writing and reasoning skills and compare year-to-year. I dread that skills and knowledge students who spent all 12 years of their education under NCLB will bring to the college classroom (those few who actually make it there).

                          We are already seeing the impact with the dramatic uptick of students who need remedial coursework. It's a scary thing.

                          Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

                          by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:08:48 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  correction: for "my" commitment (rewriting (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Otteray Scribe

                    is important, after all!)

                    "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

                    by Caractacus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:09:46 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Perhaps you should teach kids your subject? (0+ / 0-)

                    Seems you're cheating them out of the social studies curriculum so you can teach them English.

                    There is absolutely no denying that value added assessments can't be done everywhere - for example, they don't really apply to shop teachers.

                    That is hardly a reason for not applying them where you can.

                    •  Really? You presume on what evidence that (33+ / 0-)

                      I don't teach my students my subject?

                      That gall is outstanding.

                      So, you're telling someone who has the stamina, wherewithal, compassion, and commitment to go beyond the minimum expectations of teaching my assignment to do what is best for my students, help them improve their fundamental use of English, which helps them improve their test performance in every other subject, to instead only invest myself in the bare minimum of my subject?

                      And do, pray tell, how do you propose I teach them my subject when they lack basic English grammar to write the essays I demand of them in that subject?

                      When I see the English teacher isn't teaching them "her" subject, and it is a necessary part of teaching and learning mine, aren't you a bit presumptuous in taking the position that improving education can be so simply relegated to not teaching these students what they need?

                      How does that improve anything?

                      And since you're so set on assumptions, I won't expect fact or evidence to dissuade you from your strange position. But, just in case, and sense my calling is education after all, I'll offer some:

                      The national pass rate for my subject (AP Psychology) on the annual College Board exam given at the end of the year floats around 66%.

                      My students' pass rate average over 8 years, and nearly 1,000 students, is 98%.

                      Perhaps I am teaching my subject. And more. And more than just Psychology and basic English spelling, vocabulary, and grammar, too. Much, much more.

                      My students have gone on to the M.I.T. Media Lab. They have won New York Times Scholars' awards. They are in all 10 of the top 10 U.S. News ranked universities in this country.

                      And many of these couldn't write a sentence in English when I met them.

                      What do you say I'm cheating them out of in the face of these cold, hard facts?

                      So, again, I ask, why shouldn't I take all that I bring and go do something else where I am more appreciated (obviously, you fall into the "not appreciative" group) financially, when I see your version of value-added pay going to teachers who clearly do not teach their subjects, when I'm the one creating the student gains?

                      Your thinking on this issue is so fixed, thin, simple, and predetermined that I only hope you discover somewhere that the thing you're discussing is more flexible, deep, complex, and somewhat unpredictable that eventually you may come to question your own assumptions and the flawed conclusions based on them.

                      "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

                      by Caractacus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:20:38 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Don't get upset about this one...inflame is... (11+ / 0-)

                        his/her goal.

                        From one educator to another, thank you for your dedication to your students and this country :)

                        •  Of course (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Dismalest Scientist

                          Everyone who doesn't agree with the party line in all respects is just here to inflame people.

                          There are a number of "supportive" people here who don't understand value-add testing or how it works and you call DS a troll.

                          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                          by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:02:04 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  DS has shown trollish tendencies in the past (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            3goldens, blueoasis

                            I don't know if there is a party line to stick to on this issue. But DS has consistently shown an unswerving dedication to numbers, even when those numbers can be shown to have little to no intrinsic meaning.

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:49:21 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  When? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dismalest Scientist

                            Got a cite for this claim? Or can I boil your comment down to just "I disagree with this guy a lot".

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:07:45 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No... definitely true - I do believe in the (0+ / 0-)

                            numbers.

                            I'll take improvements in measured student performance over any number of teacher evaluations, glowing parent evaluations, and teacher of the year awards.

                          •  I'm a numbers person as well (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dismalest Scientist

                            The irritating part is attempts to discredit people with "oh, that person is a troll" or "oh, always numbers with that one" as if those are invalid positions. Numbers are everything.

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:26:26 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Yeah, but they are only (6+ / 0-)

                            as good as the data.  And if the data measures crap that is not correlated to the outcome, what good are they?

                          •  As a former math major (12+ / 0-)

                            and current computer geek, I disagree. Numbers are numbers. Children are everything.

                            Numbers measure certain things. Measurements can be useful. But not everything can be measured. (Do you love me? Yes? How much? Do you loathe me? How much?)

                            Measuring intelligence (i.e., IQ testing) produces numbers, but those numbers, while having some meaning in broad terms, are much less meaningful than they might seem. Someone who measures at a given IQ score may vary from that standard score by 3 or more SDs on specific subtests. Someone without such variance may still have much greater ability in the classroom in certain subjects compared to others.

                            If we can't measure intelligence very reliably, then how can be be sure that can measure learning reliably?

                            But let's assume that these are solveable, and solved, problems. We still have the problem of determining which things we're going to measure. How do we know which material should be in the frameworks, and which should not?

                            Ultimately, it comes down to subjectivity. Ultimately, the frameworks are chosen by subjective analysis of the state of the art in education, of the trends in the economy, and so forth. (At least, when it's done right, that's how it's done. Done wrong, it gets worse.)

                            And when that subjective analysis fails to pick up qualities that certain great teachers have... then what?

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:42:27 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dismalest Scientist

                            Numbers measure certain things. Measurements can be useful. But not everything can be measured. (Do you love me? Yes? How much? Do you loathe me? How much?)

                            Agreed, but it is fairly easy to measure whether people have learned something or haven't learned something. This isn't particularly challenging.

                            If we can't measure intelligence very reliably, then how can be be sure that can measure learning reliably?

                            Intelligence is somewhat subjective, but knowing whether someone knows how to solve a math problem is not at all. They either can do it or they can't. It's not difficult.

                            We still have the problem of determining which things we're going to measure. How do we know which material should be in the frameworks, and which should not?

                            This really isn't much of a problem. How do you design any curriculum for any class?

                            And when that subjective analysis fails to pick up qualities that certain great teachers have... then what?

                            It is very easy to measure whether kids know how to solve math problems or don't know how to solve math problems, or know something about history or not, or what have you. These aren't really esoteric concepts here, it's just "do you know this" or not.

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:51:19 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Learning is not expression (3+ / 0-)

                            ...it is fairly easy to measure whether people have learned something or haven't learned something. This isn't particularly challenging.

                            That's assuming that they know how to express what they know. Some people do argue that the two are one and the same, but the existence of language disabilities (e.g., dyslexia, dysgraphia) is evidence that it's not that simple.

                            Intelligence is somewhat subjective, but knowing whether someone knows how to solve a math problem is not at all. They either can do it or they can't. It's not difficult.

                            Oh, it is indeed subjective. When I saw the math problem that DS presented, I knew immediately that the roots of x2 - 10x + 9 were 9 and 1. How did I know that? I ... just ... did. That doesn't mean I'd know how to solve any other quadratic equation. (In fact, I did struggle a bit when my daughter was taking Algebra in eighth grade, but I caught up.)

                            The trend in education is to compensate for this by grading students on how well they explain their approach to solving the problem. Trouble is, that gets us right back into the land of subjectivity (did she explain it in the right way?) The only way to avoid subjectivity in this area is to drill students in presenting exactly the explanation that the examiners will be looking for -- in other words, train them to act like automata. Do Not Want.

                               

                            We still have the problem of determining which things we're going to measure. How do we know which material should be in the frameworks, and which should not?

                            This really isn't much of a problem. How do you design any curriculum for any class?

                            With all respect, I don't. It's my understanding, though, that standardization of frameworks and testing has taken a lot of curriculum design out of the hands of teachers. Where good teachers are concerned, that's probably not a good thing. (I'm not sure how much it helps bad teachers to be teaching to someone else's curriculum, either.)

                            It is very easy to measure whether kids know how to solve math problems or don't know how to solve math problems, or know something about history or not, or what have you. These aren't really esoteric concepts here, it's just "do you know this" or not.

                            See above regarding math. And once you step outside of math, it becomes harder and harder to objectively measure a student's performance.

                            Even the format of the tests can make a huge difference in results. On the SAT and my state's standardized tests, for instance, the essay portion is (AFAIK) still done with pencil and paper. But if all students had the option of using a computer to type their answers, some of them would score significantly higher in the percentiles. (In other words, a rising tide wouldn't lift all boats equally.)

                            How do you objectively measure a student's ability to understand the causal connections between events in history, as opposed to just memorizing them? (Your answer has to account for the fact that almost no event in history has one chain of causality. For example, what events led to the American Revolution?)

                            And how do you measure a student's ability to understand a poem, let alone write one?

                            To be clear, I have nothing against using tests as part of the evaluation process for students and teachers. What I object to is making the test effectively be the entire process, or even most of it. When we get too fixated on numbers, we lose sight of the people behind them.

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:22:02 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This is really silly (0+ / 0-)

                            That's assuming that they know how to express what they know. Some people do argue that the two are one and the same, but the existence of language disabilities (e.g., dyslexia, dysgraphia) is evidence that it's not that simple.

                            If you've got the knowledge locked up in your brain but can't use it or express it what use is it?

                            It doesn't matter if you know arithmetic if you can't tell the customer "We'll give you a 10% discount on that $9,000 purchase so it will be $8,100."

                            Oh, it is indeed subjective. When I saw the math problem that DS presented, I knew immediately that the roots of x2 - 10x + 9 were 9 and 1. How did I know that? I ... just ... did. That doesn't mean I'd know how to solve any other quadratic equation.

                            I am not sure what mechanism you are suggesting by which a student might happen to be able to solve the particular quadratic equations chosen for a test but no others.  Until you suggest a mechanism I will not worry about this issue.

                            The trend in education is to compensate for this by grading students on how well they explain their approach to solving the problem. Trouble is, that gets us right back into the land of subjectivity (did she explain it in the right way?) The only way to avoid subjectivity in this area is to drill students in presenting exactly the explanation that the examiners will be looking for -- in other words, train them to act like automata. Do Not Want.

                            Agreed... so just see if the student gives the right answer.  If he's got a calculator in his head that gives him the right answer without understanding good for him - he's got a solution that works.

                            See above regarding math. And once you step outside of math, it becomes harder and harder to objectively measure a student's performance.

                            "In his explorations of the Americas, Christopher Columbus reached modern day:
                            a. Massachusetts
                            b. Virginia
                            c. Argentina
                            d. Cuba"

                            Not hard.

                            How do you objectively measure a student's ability to understand the causal connections between events in history, as opposed to just memorizing them? (Your answer has to account for the fact that almost no event in history has one chain of causality. For example, what events led to the American Revolution?)

                            "Most historians believe that which of the following was among the main causes of the American War of Independence?
                            a. King George the IV of England's increasing irrationality
                            b. Colonial frustration over a tax system designed to preferentially benefit British industry
                            c. The South's desire to preserve slavery
                            d. The personal animosity between George Washington and Lord North"

                            And how do you measure a student's ability to understand a poem, let alone write one?

                            You probably can't.  Is the inability to measure some things a reason to measure nothing?
                            b.

                          •  Do you have any experience in teaching? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Nowhere Man

                            Truly?

                            Anyone who thinks that all learning can be reduced to a multiple choice test, especially with ridiculous choices as modeled above, simply should not be taken seriously.

                            You really do live up to your handle.

                            I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                            by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:16:20 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Who said all? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            Plenty of learning can't be measured as multiple choice.

                            But plenty can.

                            If teacher performance is really not measurable why not hire cheap high school drop outs as teachers?  We can save money and there will be no measurable difference in results.

                          •  Fact is, your reply to Nowhere Man utterly failed (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Nowhere Man

                            to answer his question. You simply brought up an irrelevant multiple choice test question that was ludicrous.

                            His entire point, which you are artfully ignoring, is that memorization is not learning.

                            A multiple choice test will do little more than demonstrate a students ability to memorize, and possibly to apply some basic test-taking strategies.

                            Until you recognize this and account for it, your philosophy will continue to suffer from irredeemable flaws.

                            I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                            by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:32:23 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  In history maybe (0+ / 0-)

                            but you can't memorize that much in English and no way in Math - you need to apply the formulas.

                          •  I can't even tell what you're trying to say here. (0+ / 0-)

                            I would actually be interested to find out, but your antecedents are so muddled your comment makes no sense.

                            I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                            by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:52:50 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Get off of that "measurement" shtick. (2+ / 0-)

                            It's getting old, stale, and moldy. And its mother dresses it poorly.

                            If teacher performance is really not measurable why not hire cheap high school drop outs as teachers?  We can save money and there will be no measurable difference in results.

                            Right. And there's no measurable difference between Yo-Yo Ma and my neighbor's seven year old son who's practicing bagpipes.

                            Right. And the only difference between my cousin and Einstein is that Einstein had a higher IQ. (Oh, wait, we don't know that: Both Einstein (presumably) and my cousin ceilinged the IQ tests -- anyone more than three standard deviations above the norm (usually, >145) is not being measured accurately.)

                            Right. And the only important difference between Evan's fourth and fifth grade teachers is that Evan scored better on the tests in fourth grade. Never mind that the fourth grade teacher put so much emphasis on the tests that Evan was burned out by the time he hit fifth grade.

                            ("Evan" is a composite character, based on real stories.)

                            You have a way to go before you can really say you know how to fix the educational system. I can't measure how far that way is, but it's long.

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:47:25 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  "Silly"? (2+ / 0-)

                            Why, that's... that's... subjective! Surely you have numbers to back it up?

                            If you've got the knowledge locked up in your brain but can't use it or express it what use is it?

                            Well, part of the answer is locked up in a passage that you chose not to respond to:

                            Even the format of the tests can make a huge difference in results. On the SAT and my state's standardized tests, for instance, the essay portion is (AFAIK) still done with pencil and paper. But if all students had the option of using a computer to type their answers, some of them would score significantly higher in the percentiles. (In other words, a rising tide wouldn't lift all boats equally.)

                            In other words: inability to express one's self in one format does not necessarily imply inability in all formats.

                            (And who uses pencil and paper these days outside of standardized tests? What a silly way to test students!)

                            Oh, it is indeed subjective. When I saw the math problem that DS presented, I knew immediately that the roots of x2 - 10x + 9 were 9 and 1. How did I know that? I ... just ... did. That doesn't mean I'd know how to solve any other quadratic equation.

                            I am not sure what mechanism you are suggesting by which a student might happen to be able to solve the particular quadratic equations chosen for a test but no others.  Until you suggest a mechanism I will not worry about this issue.

                            Why is mechanism more important than the measurable fact that it happens? (And that is measurable: Just ask other math geeks to solve such problems without using paper, and see if they can solve them within a short time (say, five seconds.) Plenty of math geeks will get the answers more reliably than I do, using (what I imagine to be) similar intuitive pathways. Practice probably helps a lot, but I doubt whether anyone could tell you what the mechanism is.

                            Agreed... so just see if the student gives the right answer.  If he's got a calculator in his head that gives him the right answer without understanding good for him - he's got a solution that works.

                            Until it doesn't. You see, this reliance on intuition hurt me big time when I got to more advanced mathematics, where we had to solve problems that were similar to quadratic equations -- but the terms were, themselves, equations. Intuition didn't help much there; I had a lot of catching up to do.

                            "In his explorations of the Americas, Christopher Columbus reached modern day:
                            a. Massachusetts
                            b. Virginia
                            c. Argentina
                            d. Cuba"

                            Memorizing facts. Do Not Want.

                            "Most historians believe that which of the following was among the main causes of the American War of Independence?
                            a. King George the IV of England's increasing irrationality
                            b. Colonial frustration over a tax system designed to preferentially benefit British industry
                            c. The South's desire to preserve slavery
                            d. The personal animosity between George Washington and Lord North"

                            Same song, next verse. Never gets better, never gets worse.

                            (I'm sorry. I really don't mean to be that flippant. However, you're coming across as someone who thinks he really knows how to solve these educational issues. Yet it looks to me like you don't even understand the issues.)

                            My point is, your example is one that would be addressed by rote memorization, nothing more. And that's what I (and most educators, and many if not most parents) want to avoid.

                            And how do you measure a student's ability to understand a poem, let alone write one?

                            You probably can't.  Is the inability to measure some things a reason to measure nothing?

                            What you measure is what you get. If you want to live in a country that doesn't produce poets, then live in a country that measures so-called "hard" academic skills, and leaves "soft" skills out of the assessment picture.

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:38:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  NM, check his reply to (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Nowhere Man

                            this comment. Specifically, his 3rd point.

                            He really, truly doesn't understand the issues. Obviously.

                            I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                            by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:43:06 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It may truly be that he only understands numbers (3+ / 0-)

                            which implies that he hasn't a clue about what the numbers truly mean.

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:51:48 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I am a math geek and I can solve (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            problems like this in my head.

                            Why is mechanism more important than the measurable fact that it happens? (And that is measurable: Just ask other math geeks to solve such problems without using paper, and see if they can solve them within a short time (say, five seconds.) Plenty of math geeks will get the answers more reliably than I do, using (what I imagine to be) similar intuitive pathways. Practice probably helps a lot, but I doubt whether anyone could tell you what the mechanism is.

                            But the point is I can only do that because I am a math geek.  The test is testing what it should.

                          •  Proof by tautology. (0+ / 0-)

                            The test is testing what it should.

                            Yes, because that's all it can test for. The statement as written is meaningless, because the real issue is whether it should be testing for those qualities at the possible expense of others.

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:54:20 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  "The first rule of the tautology club (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Nowhere Man

                            is the first rule."

                            Heh.

                            I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                            by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:55:31 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Numbers are numbers. Humanity is everything. (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            miss SPED, ToeJamFootball, Caractacus

                            You may enjoy having your humanity reduced to numbers but I do not.

                            Krusty the Klown Brand Irate Emoticons (tm) So You Can Express the Hate You Didn't Know You Had!

                            by brentbent on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:08:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Some of his comments are indeed trollish. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Caractacus

                            Advocating confiscating the bottom ten percent of children to give to better parents is trollish in my book as is telling a highly competent teacher they are robbing their students by going above and beyond the call of their mandate. Perhaps if we had called going above and beyond their mandate values added teaching DS would've loved it.

                            Whether or not DS is indeed a troll, well DS will need to take a test regarding that matter before we decide.

                            Krusty the Klown Brand Irate Emoticons (tm) So You Can Express the Hate You Didn't Know You Had!

                            by brentbent on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:06:17 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  And what about the kids who enter your (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Sparhawk

                        class with good English skills thinking that they signed up for an AP Psychology course?

                        Aren't they getting short changed when a big chunk of your class is apparently remedial English?

                        Maybe the better solution is to get rid of the bad English teachers who miseducated these students in previous years so you get kids who can already write decent English?

                        •  That is a disrespectful, trollish response (12+ / 0-)

                          There is nothing in APA Guy's post to suggest that the students with good English skills are short-changed by being in his class.

                          I've already commented that your suggestions would shortchange students who are at the top end. Now you're shortchanging teachers who are at the top end, too.

                          Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                          by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:57:59 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I quote.... (0+ / 0-)

                            My students have gone on to the M.I.T. Media Lab. They have won New York Times Scholars' awards. They are in all 10 of the top 10 U.S. News ranked universities in this country.

                            And many of these couldn't write a sentence in English when I met them.

                            What do you say I'm cheating them out of in the face of these cold, hard facts?

                            Unless he's doing all the English teaching outside of class how can the time he spends on this not be shortchanging those of his students who already have good English skills but who signed up for an AP Psychology course?

                          •  Stop digging. (12+ / 0-)

                            From the original comment:

                            So, let's say I teach psychology or sociology, and in the course of my class 7 or 8 of my students improve their English usage by 3 grade levels because I make it a bedrock skill in my course and spend hours of extra time before and after school working with those students one-on-one and in small groups to get them ready for college.

                            You've insulted Caractacus at least twice: first, by not deigning to read the comment before responding; and second, by assuming that he's not putting in extra effort into helping his students. (Even if he weren't putting in the extra hours, there are ways of helping students who need extra help within regular classroom hours. Good teachers know how to do this.)

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:21:00 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh but "the numbers, the numbers!" (8+ / 0-)

                            Number-worship is disgusting. Data can be forged, changed, or manipulated to suit whatever purpose. Stats are fudged all the time to save peoples' asses, and numbers are cold and brutal and dehumanizing and it's no wonder that some people choose to value stats over people. It's the reason we're in this shithole in the first place.

                          •  OK... missed the part about before and after clas (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Caractacus

                            But point remains.

                            Couldn't that be time spent on AP Psychology?

                            Why is Caractus having to do the job that the English teacher apparently isn't?

                            How about instead of asking him to be superman we get rid of the dead wood?

                          •  Enough of the deadwood teacher's students pass (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Nowhere Man, Cassandra Waites

                            the required tests. Very difficult to get rid of her as a result.

                            My question was, and is, how to compensate in value-added models for the improvement her students make, and their passing those tests that make her look good, when the instruction needed for those gains happens in someone else's care?

                            She looks good. She gets thousands of dollars bonus $$. Can't fire her. To the community, to the out-of-building administration, she looks like a great teacher, maybe even a model one that others should emulate. Remember, "her" students pass the test. No one asks how or why. All assume she is a good teacher, and that this is the reason why. That is a flawed assumption, one that dooms the vast majority of simplistic value-added schemes in terms of any real-world validity.

                            I continue looking like an above-average AP Psych teacher in this scenario. True. But, one who sees her deposit cash that I actually earned.

                            I'm really just curious how an economics-only-based-on-test-scores value-added remuneration system accounts for positive externalities such as this one?

                            It's a positive externality for everyone but me, the person actually creating the gains. And how sustainable over the long haul is that incentive system?

                            And this is a simple, not too complex example. The input variables are far too complicated and intermingling to expect me to see the artificial isolation of teacher-student from all other variables as measured by a single test to hold any relevant validity at all. There are thousands of things that affect a child's ability to pass a test. I can barely control the 47 minutes I get with them each day. What about the other 23 hours and 13 minutes of their lives away from me each day? Every minute of which could impact their ability to do well in my course?

                            I've seen teachers sabotage the work of their peers to make themselves look better. If I can sabotage your students' ability to pass those tests, while mine barely get by with the minimum, I look better than you as a result and (under most of these systems) get paid more. You don't. And, your working with integrity and grit to get your students to pass takes more effort than it does me to sabotage them. If all I'm after is the money, there are so many ways to game that system to the detriment of students and genuine teachers that it chills my blood to even think about it. And some teachers already behave this way, before being paid for it. Just for bragging rights.

                            Blind adherence to numbers can easily reward the wrong behaviors, too.

                            "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

                            by Caractacus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:32:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  He's not here for a serious discussion, Cara. (3+ / 0-)

                            As evidenced by the comments he chooses to respond to.

                            Barring the selective quotes and inadvertent revelation that he doesn't read your entire comment, he really doesn't address the substance of your experiences.

                            Take it as a compliment.

                            I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                            by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:20:52 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I understand. It's just hard for the educator (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            teacherken, Cassandra Waites

                            in me to walk away from clarifying misconceptions. And this underlying assumption that pubic education is reducible to a set of numbers generated by test scores is so flawed on so many levels, that the real need to dispel that myth, that spawns so many others, is really hard to walk away from. I suspect you're right though, I may just have to redirect my capital toward investments with greater potential for returns.

                            And right now, that involves a pillow and some cool sheets (notice my time-stamp! Been up late getting ready these past few days, which as I remember, Teacherken mentioned in the diary or a comment somewhere, too!)

                            I hope you're sleeping better than we are this week.

                            Peace,
                            -C.

                            "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

                            by Caractacus on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 01:16:18 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How can you sabotage another teachers' students' (0+ / 0-)

                            ability to pass tests?

                            Anyway, if your story is correct then performance on the English tests should correlate much more strongly with the student being in your class than in the English class.

                            The numbers will tell the story.

                          •  In the time it took to read the question 2 (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cassandra Waites

                            quickly come to mind:

                            1. stress them out and divide their attention with unannounced and extraordinarily difficult assignments 1 or 2 nights before the big required $$-for-the-teachers exam. In direct violation of school and district policies against such assignments.  Very effective in the short term. I've seen students shaking as they try to bubble in answers because of this exact tactic. That's how I know it exists, I asked them why they were so anxious. Then I asked the teacher involved and was told that just because the students have a big test for which they've preparing for 8 months with only 1 week of school left in the year for my course that they can't be allowed to take his class for granted. His subject is important, too, and he didn't want them to forget that.
                            1. convince them the other teacher doesn't know what they're doing, is not trustworthy, doesn't have their best interests at heart, will damage their chances at doing well. Undermine the authority of the other teacher and you increase the chances of their students doing more poorly in the long-run because they'll take his/her assignments and instruction less seriously and with less investment in doing well if they think they're being misled in the first place.

                            I could give you dozens more, but that you couldn't think of one stupefies me into wondering if it would be worth the time and effort to type them up. I could wreck your students' chances of doing well on a test in less than 5 minutes alone with them. Remember, I'm the psychology teacher. That I use that knowledge to help them instead,

                            And, the naivete of the 2nd half of this most recent comment, for me, easily disqualifies you from ever determining a teacher's salary or bonus.

                            First, it's an equal correlation, not stronger in either direction. The student is in both classes at the same time and experiences the same achievement gain, but that gain is only considered in the context of one of the two courses, the one where it is actually part of the course. The correlation to me and my course does not exist because it is not looked for.

                            Correlations only exist matter if they are noticed. The very systems you seem to want to defend don't look at the correlations you cavalierly take for granted. That's the point I've been arguing since my first comment, which you still haven't understood. Value-added systems (the vast majority of them) only look at core curriculum classes. Electives from psychology to electrical engineering (the modern "shop") and Advanced Calculus BC are not considered in the equations. They are not cross-correlated with other classes. They are invisible. As are the teachers who teach them.

                            And as are most of my arguments and evidence to you, it seems.

                            You really can't imagine any scenario under which a manipulative adult could influence an impressionable 9th or 10th grade student to perform poorly on an assessment? How long has it been since you were in high school? You've never seen this phenomenon play out in politics or any other work place where people smear others in order to make themselves look better by comparison without really taking the time or making the effort to become better themselves?

                            "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

                            by Caractacus on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 01:35:18 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You are certainly obstinate (6+ / 0-)

                            Did you miss the part where the students in this teacher's class have an average 98% pass rate on the Psych AP exam?????

                          •  Doesn't mean that they can't learn more (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Caractacus

                            Psych.

                          •  So, there is more to life than test scores? (0+ / 0-)

                            "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

                            by Caractacus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:33:02 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Of course... they're a measurement (0+ / 0-)

                            But measurements are also damned important, which is why that English teacher needs to go.

                            What is the process in your school to report an incompetent teacher and begin the process of removing him/her?

                            You also say:

                            I've seen teachers sabotage the work of their peers to make themselves look better.

                            How is this supposed to be handled in your school?  Have you reported these people?

                          •  Whoops (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Caractacus

                            I meant Caractacus's response, of course.

                            Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                            by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:50:29 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Wow, Caractacus! (9+ / 0-)

                        I and so many others like my baby sis HEAR YOU! If you check back, please seriously consider expanding your comments into a full diary. Teacherken could use the support. Many thanks. :-)

                        •  Thank you, and thanks to others (3+ / 0-)

                          in this thread who are looking past policy to consider people, students, and their teachers alike.

                          My next diary will be Wednesday morning, on the topic of families deciding to hold back their young children from kindergarten so as to gain an advantage in age and size over children who enter "on age-level." It can be found under the "Morning Feature" title header, where, I should mention, I probably wouldn't have written the above comment.

                          The MF regulars would not be pleased that I let my normally high standards of not engaging with attack rhetoric lapse in this thread. I just couldn't not respond in this case.

                          I hope TK can forgive me for riding the rails on this one instead of finding a more dignified response, or the composure to simply ignore. Which is what usually happens in the MF arena. That crowd just ignores uninformed or inappropriate challenges (I've never felt comfortable using the word "troll") and leaves them to die on the vine.

                          Would love to see you, or any others in this conversation, on Wednesday (or any other) morning, though. Hope you can check in at some point.

                          And TK, please have a great opening week, and God bless you and your students. And when energy and attention flag around family-call 100 or so, think of me, and know that I value and send you strength for call 101. I hope my 3yo will be so lucky to have teachers of your vision, mission, and commitment.

                          "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

                          by Caractacus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:56:26 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  heh... i got knocked down on an observation (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        miss SPED, Caractacus

                        for talking about the Gettysburg address in an English class...and this supervisor was no gym teacher, he was a smart guy with a drama background. " While the introduction of social studies into the lesson was laudable, the primary goal of the class should be the acquisition of language arts skills". i never forgot those lines...

                        •  and the construction of Gettysburg (4+ / 0-)

                          does not illustrate language art skills?  He may be smart with a drama background but he is also stupid.

                          Since the rhetoric of that speech has shaped not only American political thinking but also American expression it is perfectly appropriate in a language arts class.

                          Does he think language arts skill exist in isolation?

                          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                          by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:14:35 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  he was doing what supervisors do.... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            teacherken, Daddy Bartholomew

                            looking for any reason to bust my balls, since i was, and am, a pain in the ass to the administration. it's still better than what i get now...a case file is pulled and every procedural error is documented in an observation; no one even bothers to come out to a school to watch me do some social work anymore....i got observations when I taught and when I first got into social work, people would actually come to a parent meeting or an IEP meeting and watch me conduct a meeting. No more. I could be stone drunk all day but if the paperwork looks good, I am golden...of course I am not drunk, the paperwork doesn't look good, and thus I am not golden. But I did prevent a few suicides last year, and that means something to somebody at least.

                        •  That's part of the value of Value Added (0+ / 0-)

                          There's no evidence that supervisor evaluations actually pick out better teachers.

                          Let him look at results instead.

                          If your Gettysburg address classes end up producing kids who can demonstrate better command of language arts then who cares if the way you get those results doesn't conform to the ideas of your supervisor?

                      •  Dismalest is in his name. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Caractacus

                        Dismal people love making others dismal. At least, that's what my values added testing shows.

                        Krusty the Klown Brand Irate Emoticons (tm) So You Can Express the Hate You Didn't Know You Had!

                        by brentbent on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:02:00 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  Ultimately, teachers who help their students (36+ / 0-)

                by increasing their learning by 1/2 a grade level or even 2 grade levels, but their students do not pass a 3rd grade achievement test required by law to move on to 4th grade, will be perceived as failing.

                Amount of growth is irrelevant if it isn't "proven" in the NCLB required tests. The way the results are calculated and publicized in CA is not the same thing as federally mandated testing under NCLB.

                There are even more layers to this cake than you mentioned in your own comment(s).

                By the way, where do you stand on publishing the cavity rates of local dentists who treat children in the newspapers? What about the disease and infection rates of all the local pediatricians? Right there on Page 3 of the paper, don't parents have a right to this information? Wouldn't it help me, the parent of a 6 year old, in making informed decisions for my daughter?

                Oh. That's right. The best ranked doctors can only accept so many patients. And, they've probably already stopped accepting. If their patients live in neighborhoods where families can afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars to eradicate bedbugs and spray for wood ticks, those doctors have a different job than those working with patients who come in the door with much greater exposure to disease due to their poverty or lack of family/community resources.

                Let alone that the best ranked dentists probably have lower cavity counts because the families who send their children to them have been brushing and flossing their childrens' teeth since their first baby tooth popped up.

                How many wealthy families would be found sending their children to the "best ranked" dentists and doctors?

                All of this is a distraction from the systemic flaws in the system. Millions of unprepared students arrive every day in schools that are doing the best they can for them. Rather than address the systemic improvements that professional educators like TeacherKen advocate, we keep getting defensiveness and misguided big money initiatives that take us further away from what those of us who have dedicated our entire lives and sacrificed our own families to be able to help others know will work. If only we were allowed to implement them. (And, no, starting a magnet school is not the same thing as creating systemic change that benefits millions rather than dozens.)

                "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

                by Caractacus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:36:07 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And if the kids have cavities or illnesses, (13+ / 0-)

                  did they fail?
                  Did their parents fail?
                  Or, did the dentists and pediatricians fail?  (You know, like the teachers failed when their students didn't score well on a 'standardized test'.)

                •  Are you really this incapable of understanding? (0+ / 0-)

                  Ultimately, teachers who help their students by increasing their learning by 1/2 a grade level or even 2 grade levels, but their students do not pass a 3rd grade achievement test required by law to move on to 4th grade, will be perceived as failing.

                  Value Add measures the student's improvement under that teacher compared to the improvement of similar students under other teachers.  

                  In your example, the teacher who brings the student up by 1/2 grade level (assuming that's relative, not absolute) or two grade levels will be measured as a huge success even if his students are all still behind grade level in absolute terms.

                  •  You know, your constant slavish adherence to (11+ / 0-)

                    the numbers approach does not make it correct.

                    It's also extremely telling that you chose to focus on this tiny part of the comment and totally ignored the more relevant issue, that of applying your 'ideal model' to all professions and not just teaching.

                    I would guess your avoidance of the issue indicates that you understand quite well that to do so would involve admitting that the model does not work, and undermine your entire position.

                    But do feel free to address the point and prove me wrong. I'm sure many of us here would be interested (and amused) to see you try.

                    I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                    by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:11:16 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, I think it's a good model to use (0+ / 0-)

                      whenever possible.

                      In fact, similar approaches are being applied in healthcare now in many areas.

                      For example, hospitals are being compensated per illness, not per procedure, in order to incent them to minimize complications and repeat admissions.

                      Hospitals are complaining that this penalizes hospitals that serve the sickest patients.  HHS is now exploring ways to compensate for that.  Sound like Value Added?

                      •  And do you advocate publishing the success and (10+ / 0-)

                        failure rates of all those individuals for the public to see?

                        That was the real issue in the comment, and you know it.

                        Even so, to try to match the model you describe, one would have to begin compensating teachers based on the ability of the students. Teachers would then be paid more for poorly-performing students, as measured by their performance from the previous year. They wouldn't be compensated at all for the 'A' students, since the teachers wouldn't have to expend any effort on those students.

                        Perhaps it isn't so terribly similar to Value Added?

                        I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                        by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:23:21 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Number worship trumps all else! (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          blueoasis, Caractacus

                          Who cares if it's socially leprous?

                        •  They are publishing that data (0+ / 0-)

                          For example, doctor and hospital complication rates, doctor malpractice suits (even those that the doctor wins), etc.

                          Even so, to try to match the model you describe, one would have to begin compensating teachers based on the ability of the students. Teachers would then be paid more for poorly-performing students, as measured by their performance from the previous year. They wouldn't be compensated at all for the 'A' students, since the teachers wouldn't have to expend any effort on those students.

                          No... you compensate them for their results.  Whether the students are good or bad when they start, you compensate the teachers based on how they did compared to similar kids.

                          Merit pay is a totally desirable result of this kind of analysis.  Keep the good teachers and starve out the bad.  End automatic salary increases.

                          •  In the newspapers? Locally? (0+ / 0-)

                            I'd love to see a cite of that.

                            And the mere fact that hospitals are complaining that such merit pay structure favors hospitals that serve the healthiest patients merely underscores the inapplicability of merit pay in certain occupations. That HHS agrees makes your argument even more amusing.

                            End automatic salary increases? Really? That should then be a universal, shouldn't it? After all, every worker everywhere should be forced to negotiate COLA on an annual basis, shouldn't they?Or are you suffering under the delusion that most automatic salary scales of teachers do much more than provide that kind of increase? Or is the union negotiating that goes on every year due to teachers' insatiable desire to get rich?

                            I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                            by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:02:23 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No... it's HHS and they put it on the Internet (0+ / 0-)

                            See, for example, http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/...

                            It's much harder to measure Value Add for individual doctors because of the lack of agreed benchmarks for starting points.  

                            For example, how do you compare an obstetrician who specializes in high risk patients with an ordinary ob/gyn?  How do you measure level of risk to make these numbers comparable?  It is very hard to have agreed on before measures.

                            And the mere fact that hospitals are complaining that such merit pay structure favors hospitals that serve the healthiest patients merely underscores the inapplicability of merit pay in certain occupations. That HHS agrees makes your argument even more amusing.

                            Well, that's why HHS is trying to move to Value Add measures.  Makes my point.

                            End automatic salary increases? Really? That should then be a universal, shouldn't it? After all, every worker everywhere should be forced to negotiate COLA on an annual basis, shouldn't they?Or are you suffering under the delusion that most automatic salary scales of teachers do much more than provide that kind of increase?

                            You've got COLA for each level of seniority but also seniority based raises.

                            I would get rid of both.

                            Teachers who are performing adequately should stay at the same wage levels.  Good ones should get raises.  Great ones should get big raises.

                          •  Amazing. Your link doesn't work. (0+ / 0-)

                            Teachers who are performing adequately should stay at the same wage levels.  Good ones should get raises.  Great ones should get big raises.

                            I think your ideology might be suffering from a large dose of unreality. It's certainly not progressive. In fact, the only real bent I can find is libertarian, and, as the death of teacher's unions in an implicit facet, more than a little right-wing.

                            No wonder you're having trouble finding anyone to agree with you here.

                            I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                            by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:27:25 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Ah... the linkifier put the period at the end of (0+ / 0-)

                            the sentence into the link.

                            Try this: http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/...

                          •  Not seeing doctors names & salaries. (0+ / 0-)

                            Nor individual results, just aggregate data for a hospital.

                            Not comparable. Yet hospitals are complaining about even this level of scrutiny? The nerve!

                            I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                            by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:36:34 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't think the LA Times is publishing (0+ / 0-)

                            teacher salaries.

                            Hospitals aren't complaining about publishing the data.  They are asking for a more "Value Added" measure - one that takes into account the different characteristics of the populations they server.

                            There's plenty of data out there about doctors as well but frankly, it's a bit off topic here and also a fair bit of work for me to find it.

              •  still does not fully cover the issue (5+ / 0-)

                and you do not understand, as I noted in response to you

                let's hold this for a diary which focuses on that issue

                "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:29:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  As a special ed teacher (11+ / 0-)

                I don't trust the value-added formula. What happens if I have a student with an IQ of 70 taking the standardized test and doesn't make a "year's progress" as measured by the progress made by a student with an "average" (100) IQ? By definition, my student should be expected to make 70% of a year's progress since that would be the intellectual maximum capacity. I have been told many times that students with lower IQs will benefit from value-added, but have not had my question answered.

                "There must be more to life than having everything" -Maurice Sendak

                by lilypew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:59:34 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  And so teachers will resent being given (11+ / 0-)

                good students to teach, because the tests won't show as much improvement in their rankings. (Likewise, poor students will be in high demand.)

                There are at least two reasons for this: One is the statistical phenomenon of regression toward the mean. Statistically, it's easier to move towards the mean than away from it. While it's not a certainty (or even a likelihood) that any particular advanced student will regress towards the mean, it's very likely that some of them will.

                More importantly: Standardized tests are not designed to accurately measure the top end. A gifted student may start out in the 99th percentile, and learn the equivalent of three grade levels during the year, but that learning won't show up on the test scores. She'd start in the 99th percentile, and finish in the 99th percentile. As a result, the teacher gets punished for the student's failure to show improvement on the test.

                That may be an extreme example, but this happens with "normally gifted" students, albeit to a lesser extent. Once a student performs beyond the expectations for the current grade level, that student's performance is not going to be accurately measured by standardized, grade-level testing.

                (And please don't tell us that the answer is to have the students take the tests at multiple grade levels -- not only is that a further waste of the students' time, but there's no scientific validity to the measurements that the tests would claim to produce.)

                Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:30:07 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The system controls for that (0+ / 0-)

                  There are at least two reasons for this: One is the statistical phenomenon of regression toward the mean. Statistically, it's easier to move towards the mean than away from it. While it's not a certainty (or even a likelihood) that any particular advanced student will regress towards the mean, it's very likely that some of them will

                  Same applies to all teachers with advanced students so this is controlled for in the analysis.

                  More importantly: Standardized tests are not designed to accurately measure the top end. A gifted student may start out in the 99th percentile, and learn the equivalent of three grade levels during the year, but that learning won't show up on the test scores. She'd start in the 99th percentile, and finish in the 99th percentile. As a result, the teacher gets punished for the student's failure to show improvement on the test.

                  Again, same applies to all students in the 99th percentile so this is controlled for.

                  A more reasonable complaint is that this system may not work to evaluate teachers who teach gifted classes.  I agree with that.  You can identify the bad ones whose students regress but you can't tell the difference between good ones and great ones.  

                  But the fact that you can't measure everything is not a reason not to measure what you can.

                  •  How is it "controlled for"? (3+ / 0-)

                    By making sure the gifted students are equally distributed among the teachers, or by normalizing the results of the gifted students before doing the analysis?

                    I have huge problems with the first approach. And both approaches totally fail to measure how much additional learning a gifted student may acquire within the classroom.

                    In other words, students who are among the most likely to need individualized learning styles and to produce uniquely individualized work, are thrown into the statistical hopper and come out "controlled for". Thanks, but no thanks.

                    (If I overlooked a possible mechanism, then please do explain.)

                    Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                    by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:30:10 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  there was no random assignment of pupils (4+ / 0-)

                      among teachers in LA study, nor as far as I have seen was there any control for prior knowledge, and  number of other factors.

                      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:41:22 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Value added automatically controls for (0+ / 0-)

                        prior knowledge.

                        That's the "ADDED" part of Value Added.

                        •  it does not necessarily (3+ / 0-)

                          are you a psychometrician? You have multiple times misstated what value-added assessment purports to do.  Please note - purports.  Psychometricians are for the most part quite cautious about the claims they are will to make for it.  Which is one reason why they almost unanimously say it should not be used for the kind of purpose to which the LA Times has put it.

                          Maybe you should listen to them.

                          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                          by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:31:19 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Do you have something specific on this? (0+ / 0-)
                          •  you claim such expertise about numbers (0+ / 0-)

                            and now you seem not to know anything about statements made multiple times by prominent psychometricians and their professional organizations, and cited here multiple times.  

                            I asked you to stop hijacking the diary and take it elsewhere.  You did not.

                            Now you all but admit you DON"T know what you are talking about when it comes to value-added assessment.

                            What I suggest you do is post your own diary on value-added assessment, offering such links as you think justify the statements you have been making.   Then be prepared for the reactions.  

                            Do I have something specific?  Yep, but I ain't gonna do your work for you.  Go learn what the hell you are bloviating about and stop hijacking diaries on other points.

                            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                            by teacherken on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 02:35:04 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This seems to summarize as (0+ / 0-)

                            "I have nothing to back up my assertions and I want to change the subject."

                          •  you know, you think you're clever (0+ / 0-)

                            but you read selectively and ignore anything that contradicts your prior assumptions.

                            Tell you what -  since you are too lazy to do your own research before opening your mouth and inserting both feet, wait because in the very near future there will be a definitive statement from some of the most important psychometricians in the country on this issue.

                            You're also an ass.  I asked people not to go off on this tangent.  You insisted on hijacking.  When I suggested you take it to a separate diary you think you are being clever by trying to bash me.  Sorry pal, but I think what you need to do is change the windshield wiper blades on your stomach.

                            If this is how you behave, it is really a waste of time to attempt to engage you in civil discourse.

                            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                            by teacherken on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 06:29:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  It is controlled for by measuring (0+ / 0-)

                      percentile ranking improvement / regression and comparing with other students who start the year with the same rank.

                  •  We still have gifted classes? (3+ / 0-)

                    We have AP courses, true. I was unaware that we have a thriving system for separating out the top-end students and providing them with classes of their own, a mandatory policy and budget for helping them to the best of their ability, and so forth.

                    While school systems vary, I'm pretty sure the more standard set-up is that gifted students take classes along with all the other students, and are therefore included in the standard statistics - which renders your comment that:

                    A more reasonable complaint is that this system may not work to evaluate teachers who teach gifted classes.  I agree with that.

                    totally moot.

                    I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                    by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:30:26 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Gifted kids don't just take gifted classes. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Nowhere Man

                    In my high school, high-achieving math students were placed with on-level students of higher grades - the advanced freshmen in with the average juniors, for instance. The same held true for many of the science classes. A number of honors students chose to take on-level social studies because the AP track required twice the time commitment. There were students who took an easy World Literature course instead of AP Literature because of the much lighter summer reading load.

                    And that's completely ignoring the fact that there are some electives , even ones that count for graduation credits, that will never have enough interest for separate honors and on-level classes even in large schools. That World Literature class was half former members of the AP track and half kids trying to scrape together a last English credit to graduate, but there was never enough enrollment in the course to split it into honors and on-level.

                    Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                    by Cassandra Waites on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:10:27 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Are these tests they are using norm- (3+ / 0-)

                  referenced or criterion-referenced? If they are norm referenced, all scores are compared to the norm. And if I remember my stats, that implies a normal curve, which requires scores to fall below, at, or above the mean. So there is always someone who "fails" in this model.

                  If the exams are criterion-referenced, there are a whole host of other issues to address, including standards alignment, teacher teaching in or out of subject, school resources. The assumption is that all teachers and students have access to the same materials. Value-added corrects for a bit for this. But it can't really correct for certain things, say attending/teaching in a district where you get a classroom set of books versus teaching in a district where you have a classroom set of texts AND your students get to take one home as well. Right there the second group has a distinct advantage. Value-added cannot and does not account for that.

                  Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

                  by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:09:27 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  we are getting way off the topic of the diary (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Nowhere Man, ToeJamFootball

                    even if norm-referenced the question is how normed - what population, when it was normed, when last adjusted.

                    The problem nowadays is we have tests whose goal is supposed to be criterion based -  you have sufficient information to graduate from high school, because you have met the passing rate on this test -  but which use items designed to spread out the response pattern, which more properly belongs in a norm-referenced test.

                    Then on top of that, the cut score setting process is entirely hidden.  All that is reported is the results on the scaled score.

                    Thus we had an occasion in IL where the test scores seemed to rise.  Actually, they had lowered the raw cut score, which meant the same number of raw points resulted in a higher scaled score being reported.  The fact that the higher scores were reported in time for the reelection efforts of one Rod Blagojovich as Governor and one Richie Daley as Mayor of Chicago was of course totally coincidental, right?

                    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                    by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:18:30 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  For me, it is a big part of this discussion (4+ / 0-)

                      because it is part of the story about using growth-models with student data, that are then used to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Too many people fail to ask questions about the tests, how they are developed, normed, revised, scored, scaled, etc.,

                      Now all that said, I had my moment of rage when I read the LA Times article. I sent it to several friends, and then added it to my data set for analysis.

                      I loved your letter. And I am not surprised you go no response. I've followed you here on Kos, in the NY Times, and where ever I can find your writing. I'm not stalking you. You are just one of the best thinkers I've seen out there who not only knows about public ed from inside the classroom, but you also know how to talk about the policy issues in ways which many people can understand.

                      Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

                      by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:15:25 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  focusing on something you wrote (0+ / 0-)

                        you also know how to talk about the policy issues in ways which many people can understand

                        Once in a conversation with Jay Mathews where we were talking about value added assessment and the reading I had been doing about it, he asked I might write it up for the Washington Post and I said I was thinking of writing it up for a peer reviewed journal.  His response was two part.  The first was, why a peer-reviewed journal, they take forever to publish (as I am finding out now with an essay review I wrote still waiting feedback from a peer-reviewer after 3.5 weeks) and who reads them anyhow.  The second part was very much like what I quote from you.

                        I was already writing on educational list servs and bulletin boards.  I had had a couple of pieces printed, by the Post and by a local (now defunct) chain of suburban papers.  In 2003 I got involved with the Dean blog, and when in NH to advance an event for Howard met someone who showed me DailyKos. That was late November.  I soon registered, posted my first diary in January of 2004, and within a few months had begun to occasionally write about education.

                        Meanwhile Jay had asked me to review the websites of the various Dem contenders for the nomination for what they said about education, he wrote a piece in which he credited me with the research -  he began occasionally to turn to me for comments (he found me quotable).  

                        It took off from there.

                        Because of a piece I did recently for Teacher Magazine's website, I had a publisher contact me, and we are exploring my doing a book.   I owe the editor (who has done books with several people I know) at least a preliminary proposal.  I have had one other publisher talk with me about a book on education, and I was recently approach on but declined an offer to possibly serve as editor for a 3-book series on blogging.  I could do it, I might make a fair piece of money, but it would take time away from doing the writing I do here.  I have a few people point out that if I am working on a book about education it can work in parallel with writing about education online.  We'll see.

                        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                        by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:03:54 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Actually, I suggested to my editor (0+ / 0-)

                          at one of the publishing houses to look at your work here on Kos because I thought your work would be perfect for the new series he is thinking about. Granted it's an "academic" house, but I think the public needs more clear explanations about public education than what they usually get in the popular press. It's one of the things the Brookings Institution (gasp!) and the Hechinger Report have been looking at. We need better education reporting, and part of that is having people who understand the issues who can also explain it in an accessible manner.

                          On a side note, my editor told me to start blogging regularly about some of my work, because I could use that to "draft" several of your chapters. Given everything you've written here you could put something together that really fits the bill.

                          I'd even use it with my students. So, you know you'd sell a couple hundred copies a year....

                          Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

                          by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:47:44 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  contact me offline with email addy in profile (0+ / 0-)

                            give me a phone number and we can have a conversation.

                            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                            by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:32:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Done. (0+ / 0-)

                            You should get it soon. If you don't let me know here and I will go to plan B. (teh google mail is finicky).

                            Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

                            by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:43:30 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  No, YOU don't understand it, (5+ / 0-)

                So-called 'value-added' is a percentile system, which is zero-sum by definition. After reading through a number of your comments, it is abundantly clear you don't grasp this simple mathematical fact. You should re-register with a less misleading user name.

                What could BPossibly go wrong?? -RLMiller

                by nosleep4u on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:05:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I know it's zero sum (0+ / 0-)

                  10% of teachers will always be in the bottom decile no matter how good they are.

                  I see that as a feature, not a bug.

                  •  oh really? (14+ / 0-)

                    now suppose you have a school where all the students learn more than 1 year's worth according to the value added measurement. And let's suppose that is the only school of those grade levels in that school system.  By your reasoning they should still fire 10% of the teachers?  Give me a break.

                    Oh, and there are a few schools like that.  In very wealthy communities, with highly educated parents, with superb facilities, with kids properly feed and receiving proper medical and dental treatment, who don't miss one school day out of five.  And they don't have class sizes over 35 or more.

                    You might look at how much per child they spend on education as well.

                    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                    by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:36:30 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Obviously statistical methods don't work (0+ / 0-)

                      when your sample size is too small.

                      now suppose you have a school where all the students learn more than 1 year's worth according to the value added measurement. And let's suppose that is the only school of those grade levels in that school system.  By your reasoning they should still fire 10% of the teachers?  Give me a break.

                      What works for LA probably won't work for Wasilla.

                      But since LA has a lot more students it is a lot more important.

                      Oh, and there are a few schools like that.  In very wealthy communities, with highly educated parents, with superb facilities, with kids properly feed and receiving proper medical and dental treatment, who don't miss one school day out of five.  And they don't have class sizes over 35 or more.

                      You might look at how much per child they spend on education as well.

                      Presumably those students enter each grade already in a high percentile.

                      In addition, do you have any documentation that these disparities in class size or educational resources exist within school districts?

                  •  Wow. Just wow. (9+ / 0-)

                    So, by your own admissions, the system you advocate will, no matter how incredible the pool of teachers is, automatically judge the lowest portion to be ineffective and will seek to automatically replace them with new applicants - despite the fact that the new applicants, in order to be an improvement, would need to (upon entry to the field, mind you) be an even more incredible teacher?

                    And you see this not only as being possible in reality, but something to be proud of?

                    I have no words for how much your credibility, low as it was to begin with, has just diminished.

                    I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                    by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:39:07 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  If a good student (7+ / 0-)

                randomly falls into a class with enough disruptive students, the good student's progress will suffer, and it will not be the teacher's fault.  I have seen the schedule shuffle at semester change a student's behavior and academic performance because he/she is in a different group of students.  Part of the "reform" has been a reduction in allowed discipline in the classroom.  

                There are many variables and the teacher is not the sole factor.  One year might be the year that the parents got a divorce or someone in the family got cancer.  

            •  Parents had the right to see their child's (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk

              performance.

              Now they can see their child's teachers' performance.  That's a huge change.

              •  No, they can't. That's the magic trick that (17+ / 0-)

                you've apparently fallen for.

                You should look deeper, starting with a reread of the diary.

                "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

                by Caractacus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:43:01 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  What you are seeing (7+ / 0-)

                has nothing to do with their education.  They are learning trained monkey tricks and you are judging their education on how well they perform the tricks.  That is the problem and the solution looks nothing like rising scores on trained-monkey-trick's tests.

                •  Depends what the tricks are (0+ / 0-)

                  If it's things like "multiple 345 by 989" and "find the zeros of x^2 - 10x +9 = 0" then I'll take the teachers who can teach their students to do those tricks over the ones who can't.

                  •  Calculators can do the first problem (2+ / 0-)

                    As for the second, I've highlighted them for you:

                    find the zeros of x^2 - 10x +9 = 0

                    (Sorry; I couldn't resist :-)

                    Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

                    by Nowhere Man on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:06:29 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It's the kind of joke math teachers love. BUT (8+ / 0-)

                      more importantly, any respectable calculator can do the second trick as well.

                      DS apparently wants our children to be taught to be able to use a calculator.

                      Here's a somewhat lengthy (but related) anecdote, that happened to me a couple years ago:

                      I was working with a science teacher, in a setting where we spent a semester working together. He came to every session of my algebra class, I came to every session of his Intro Gen Chem class. We had a number of students who were in both, which was kind of the whole point.

                      One of our brighter students was having difficulty in grasping one of the mathematical techniques in the Chem class. A very simple one, something she was quite well able to solve mathematically - but she just was not grasping the applicability in the Chem class, from the science teacher. He kept presenting it to her in simpler and simpler terms, but she was just getting more and more confused.

                      Finally, I said, "Let me give it a shot," and proceeded to state the problem in exactly the same terms, using exactly the same words, that he had. She instantly told us the answer.

                      What was the difference? A math teacher had asked the question. That was the only difference.

                      THAT is why critical thinking is so damned important, and cannot be measured from standardized tests, and why 'tricks' are certainly a part of learning, they are not the whole thing.

                      I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                      by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:52:51 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Well, many points (0+ / 0-)
                        1. A well educated child today must be able to use a calculator.
                        1. The child should also be able to do this problem without one - a good testing regime should include sections that use calculators and sections that do not or problems that cannot be done with a calculator.
                        1. I'm not sure what the issue with the kid who had trouble doing a math problem in chemistry is supposed to prove.  Presumably she will do well in a math test and badly in a chemistry test.  So?  Seems to describe her performance.
                        •  The fact that you are unable to comprehend the (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Tom Taaffe

                          issue with that student speaks volumes about your understanding of the teaching/learning process.

                          Again, your credibility suffers a massive blow.

                          I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                          by Daddy Bartholomew on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:09:53 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm sure you are so much smarter than the (0+ / 0-)

                            rest of us that your point is totally clear to you.

                            However, for those of us who are not blessed with your superhuman powers how about you explain it?

                          •  totally clear to me (0+ / 0-)

                            The kid was good at math, but intimidated by the subject. Hence the math teacher intimidated her. Not because he was 'bad' or 'incompetent' but because the kid feared math and he was a math teacher.

                            This story is also important because no teacher reaches every student. Different teaching styles reach different students differently.

                            You need a rich variety of teachers and teaching styles in every school. So that there might be a few that each student can look to, not only for the answers on the test, but for guidance as they search for their own place in the universe.

                            This standardized nonsense is killing education, which is the point of these reforms.

                          •  So you mean because the kid feared (0+ / 0-)

                            the math teacher he got the problem right when the math teacher asked it?  Because he was afraid the math teacher would get medieval on his ass?

                            I was working with a science teacher, in a setting where we spent a semester working together. He came to every session of my algebra class, I came to every session of his Intro Gen Chem class. We had a number of students who were in both, which was kind of the whole point.

                            One of our brighter students was having difficulty in grasping one of the mathematical techniques in the Chem class. A very simple one, something she was quite well able to solve mathematically - but she just was not grasping the applicability in the Chem class, from the science teacher. He kept presenting it to her in simpler and simpler terms, but she was just getting more and more confused.

                            Finally, I said, "Let me give it a shot," and proceeded to state the problem in exactly the same terms, using exactly the same words, that he had. She instantly told us the answer.

                            What was the difference? A math teacher had asked the question. That was the only difference.

                            I guess we have an endorsement here for the Ving Rhames style of math teaching:  "Answer the question or I'ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin' niggers, who'll go to work on you with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin', hillbilly girl? I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'ma get medieval on your ass."

                            Well, I'm a very results oriented person... so I suppose if these experienced teachers are saying that it works...

                            Funny, when I read their comments I really didn't understand it like this.  I guess it took your explanation to make things clear.

                          •  Clearly you don't understand very much (0+ / 0-)

                            You're not about results, you're just an asshole. Thank god you don't teach in a classroom. your value added would be -1000 and a walking lawsuit waiting to happen...........

          •  I just don't understand why parents should have a (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis, Cassandra Waites

            right to know this information but teachers don't.

        •  I have had many a child from NOLA (30+ / 0-)

          in my classes. For Secretary Duncan to have said that Katrina was the best thing to ever happen to NOLA schools was not only insulting but cruel, mho.

          My school district, btw, prints and distributes teachers' names next to their students' test scores.  It isn't printed in the newspaper.

          How does any of Duncan's political posturing and potstirring improve education?

          •  By hurting teachers, he improves the profession (24+ / 0-)

            I guess that must be his perspective.  

            He comes at this whole thing from the Chicago school system, which like many large school systems is fundamentally confrontational and ultimately political.  It is an adversarial view of the teacher-adminstration situation.  

            It's a toxic stew.

            I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

            by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:24:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ah yes. The Chicago Public schools (15+ / 0-)

              whose collective bargaining agreement for teachers is 263 pages.
              I teach in a right to work state so Chicago's protections have no effect on me, but it shapes the national outlook of the Secretary. Who hasn't ever been a public school teacher. Go figure.

              •  I wondered about that (17+ / 0-)

                Never taught?  Well, there's a story to be sure.

                Teaching is very difficult.  I taught at the college level, and as a faculty member, was basically totally unprepared for the difficulty of the teaching side.  That we have a Sec Ed who has never taught is very bad.  That gives him the terrible perspective of the right-wingers - teachers are failures in other areas who teach out of desperation.

                I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

                by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:39:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Is this (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Only Needs a Beat

                ...whose collective bargaining agreement for teachers is 263 pages.

                a bad thing? If so, why?

                "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

                by happy camper on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:17:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  263 page collective bargaining agreement (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  3goldens

                  suggests, at a minimum, a highly contentious situation.

                  I know that you are involved in unions from other comments.  Would you not agree that this highly structured situation may be pathological in its level of contentiousness?

                  Other commenters in other diaries have commented on other aspects of the Chicago system, indicating that the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union is not democratic, and is quite politicized.

                  I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

                  by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:07:15 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Not at all... (4+ / 0-)

                    An effective collective bargaining agreement covers much more than the contentious situations you refer to. Wages, benefits, working conditions, and more all must be covered in order to avoid contentious situations. Many pages of most bargaining agreements are boilerplate legalese, just like any other legal contract.

                    263 pages is not out of line at all for a contract that covers such a large number of workers, IMHO.

                    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

                    by happy camper on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:16:54 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Its shorter than the software contract (0+ / 0-)

                      my university signed for a product made by a corporation that had multiple fraud suits laid against them by former customers and their shareholders.

                      Included in that contract - I filed a FOIA so I could read it - was a clause indemnifying the company against any 'discrepancies' between promises made in its sales pitch and the software's actual performance.

                      This clause was included despite a letter published only months before by the Chancellor/Presidents of the big 7 schools warning it was a 'shoddy, substandard product', with a unbroken chain of systematic failure and radical data loss.

                      But my school not only signed that contract, but sunk over 300 million dollars in the product on the advice of its auditor/consultant (yeah, they did both at that school), who - as it turned out - was also an 'implementation partner' with that software company and made billions off schools implementing a product that they recommended and that didn't work.

                      What it did do was run costs out of control - often 3-5 times initial estimates and failed like clockword every time school started, students enrolled in classes or any other major demand on its capacity to process data.

                      But who better to hide cost overruns than your auditor?

                      Who was that auditor> Pricewaterhousecoopers
                      What was that software product? Peoplesoft

                      Who else was involved in this conflict of interest fraud? All the major auditing/consulting firms. Same product, same relationship to the product. They swapped implementation - where the real money was made - with each other's clients to avoid obvious conflict of interest charges.

                      Who protected these companies from criminal prosecution? All the major politicians from both parties.

                      What was the stated purpose of this fraud? To better pull universities and colleges in line with pro-corporate education policy, 'top-down' management practices and to provide the software infrastructure necessary to replace teachers with software programs and corporatized distance learning programs.

                      Who paid for all of this? The students, tax payers and all those professors who never got full-time jobs and make less than 20,000 a year (most of us).

                      Now read your college bill again. The number hidden in its outrageous final tally is the consequence of this kind of fraudulent education policy, repeated constantly for 2 or more decades.

                      It ain't just the length of the contract. Its the content.

                  •  And it should be contentious... (9+ / 0-)

                    ...if the employer isn't interested in treating the workers fairly.

                    When there's a contentious labor situation, the fault always lies with the employers. If they were more inclined to be fair to the workers, the situation would be less contentious.

                    We must never blame the workers for standing up for their rights to fair wages and due process in the workplace. To do so is antithetical to progressive values.

                    What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

                    by mistersite on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:10:19 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                      When there's a contentious labor situation, the fault always lies with the employers. If they were more inclined to be fair to the workers, the situation would be less contentious.

                      We must never blame the workers for standing up for their rights to fair wages and due process in the workplace. To do so is antithetical to progressive values.

                      So, a progressive's job is to prejudge every situation before even hearing the facts involved?

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:06:46 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  When it comes to labor, yeah. (4+ / 0-)

                        The only question applicable there, I think, is Pete Seeger's: "Which side are you on?"

                        What have you done for DC statehood today? Call your Rep and Senators and demand action.

                        by mistersite on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:11:33 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Well, for education, I'm on the kids' side (0+ / 0-)
                          •  So am I.... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            teacherken

                            That's why I joined the union years ago...
                            We need to protect the whole teacher so adults who enter this profession can in turn can deliver the finest educational experience to the whole child.

                            I am not going to risk being unprotected by policymakers who are against the idea of public education and paying teachers a professional wage.

                            Public educators need to be protected, and the last time I checked, the NEA and the AFT were the only entities offering protection against those who would destroy public education.

                            The idea that unions are protecting unqualified teachers is pure subterfuge and propaganda....

                            Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

                            by semioticjim on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:37:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Good... then get your union on board to (0+ / 0-)

                            replace the bottom 10%!

                            The idea that unions are protecting unqualified teachers is pure subterfuge and propaganda....

                            Our children's education is too important to leave to bottom of the barrel teachers.

                          •  You should talk about children.... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cassandra Waites, Dirtandiron

                            The unions do not support keeping teachers who cannot teach or do not have what it takes to remain a teacher....After the hiring process where the good teachers are weeded out from the bad ones...there are mandatory observations of beginning teachers to make sure they have what it takes to reach students...teachers who cannot make the grade are not hired back. Even after tenure..teachers are routinely observed and assessed by administrators.

                            But let's talk about the conditions many teachers teach in. I don't think you quite understand what that 10% are up against.

                            Go into the inner city and teach a heterogeneous group of general education students who have been compelled by law to be in your classroom without THEIR consent.

                            Listen to the constant backtalk, chatter, cussing and unruliness of these hard to reach students who threaten teachers and their own classmates..the constant disruptions that prevent the educational process from occuring...

                            Are these the children you are talking about?

                            These kids come from homes and neighborhoods where they know only dysfunction, hatred, and have neurological and emotional disorders to boot.

                            Inspire, catalyze and motivate this group of 35 and similar groups 8 times a day......and let's see how long you last...

                            You are a math teacher in a charter school...big difference from public schools where students don't give a damn and have NO parental support....the children you teach have been supported by parent/guardians who have chosen to send their kids to your school. Major difference here.

                            I would love to see how long you last in a Chicago Public School say for instance..one on the South Side near the Gary steel mills......where there are 4000 students in a school built for 3000....Those teachers are so underpaid for the work they do with the hard as hell to reach students in the worst of conditions...Go ahead...sign up to teach there Dismalest...let's see how well you do in that situation...

                            This is a wicked problem and a socioeconomic issue. One that has been fermenting for a long, long time...and your powers that be have done little to solve the problem...

                            Let's reform education by making schools smaller and give kids more attention in smaller class sizes...that is one way to attack this problem...the other is to get them the hell out of the crime infested neighborhoods the live in....

                            There is no comparison here. For you to blame teachers for the conditions these children grow up in that shape their minds and their attitudes...

                            Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

                            by semioticjim on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 03:35:44 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Obviously, dealing with such students is hard (0+ / 0-)

                            Go into the inner city and teach a heterogeneous group of general education students who have been compelled by law to be in your classroom without THEIR consent.

                            Listen to the constant backtalk, chatter, cussing and unruliness of these hard to reach students who threaten teachers and their own classmates..the constant disruptions that prevent the educational process from occuring...

                            Are these the children you are talking about?

                            These kids come from homes and neighborhoods where they know only dysfunction, hatred, and have neurological and emotional disorders to boot.

                            Inspire, catalyze and motivate this group of 35 and similar groups 8 times a day......and let's see how long you last...

                            You can't expect miracles - getting these kids to average 50th percentile may be impossible.

                            But you can damned well compare different teachers who take students at the same entry level and look at the results they get.  When you see that there is a difference in the kids results at the end of the year of 25 percentiles (real result, from the article) between the students of the best an worst teachers STARTING WITH KIDS AT THE SAME LEVEL then you have an obligation to get the teachers at the bottom out of teaching.

                          •  What about the children? (0+ / 0-)

                            You avoid the problem that has created this mess...what are you going to do about the inhumane conditions these children live in that shape their minds?

                            You have no idea what it is like to teach in these conditions.....getting students to listen for five minutes is a major accomplishment, let alone engage them for longer periods of time...so have you taught in these conditions before?

                            You and the fat cats who sling shit at public school teachers who work in horrible conditions who despite long odds, long hours and emotional drain improve disadvantaged children's lives.....You under appreciate the work these teachers do...

                            Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

                            by semioticjim on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 04:48:23 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You mean because I can't solve all problems (0+ / 0-)

                            I shouldn't solve any?

                            You avoid the problem that has created this mess...what are you going to do about the inhumane conditions these children live in that shape their minds?

                            I don't know.  What can you do?  I joked about removing the kids from the homes and got HRed.  I pointed out that removing the parents from the homes would also work and get excoriated.  But the biggest problem in many of these homes is the parents.

                            So since I can't solve that problem I'll focus on solving the parts of the equation that we have more control over so we can make some difference even if not as much as we would like.

                            You have no idea what it is like to teach in these conditions.....getting students to listen for five minutes is a major accomplishment, let alone engage them for longer periods of time...so have you taught in these conditions before?

                            Nope.  But so what?  The Value Added analysis shows that some teachers are able to bring these kids up.  They don't turn them into college professors or even into potential college students or even into average students.  But they do get them off the floor - the difference between a 10th percentile student and a 30th percentile student is the difference between minimum wage scut work and a decent blue collar job and that will matter to these kids for the rest of their lives.  We need more of those teachers.  And we need to get the ones who let those students regress even further out of the school system.

                            KEY POINT: The value added analysis shows that for ANY level of student some teachers are good and some are bad.  That's teachers who take the same kind of challenged kid, not a comparison between mid-town Manhattan and the South Bronx.

                            We need to get rid of the teachers at the bottom and reward those at the top so they stay.

                            You and the fat cats who sling shit at public school teachers who work in horrible conditions who despite long odds, long hours and emotional drain improve disadvantaged children's lives.....You under appreciate the work these teachers do...

                            It's not about the teachers.  It's about the kids.  I will happily thank all the teachers, including the bad ones... as long as the bad ones are on their way permanently out the door.

                          •  So this is your idea of education? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cassandra Waites

                            Let's back up here...Your idea of educational experience, and one that Arne Duncan also advocates is one where you the teacher, dictate to the children, what the curriculum will be, what the children will study, when the children can talk, what the children are to read and what they are to think. This way, you can prepare them for the value added high stakes tests the children are mandated, non consensually to take.

                            Nothing new here....This approach, the behaviorism efficiency based business model approach that you employ has been going on now for a very long time in American education...

                            The problem is, this approach is a very unsatisfying educational experience for children, especially the most vulnerable.

                            Let's look at the HSSSE from 2005-09. Sixty six percent of graduating seniors in American high schools who took this survey (about 350,000 from '06-'09) report they do not feel engaged and are bored and unsatisfied with your business model approach that is used in value added curricula.

                            Look at the data again....and especially read the student responses....you talk about for the good of the children....Well? Have you asked the children lately?

                            So what happens when kids disengage? Dropouts, crime, poverty and other wicked socioeconomic problems occur because the experience is non personalized, one size fits all and very, very unsatisfying....

                            And your idea of reform is to ramp up depersonalized educational experience and test prep even more?

                            Education cannot be boiled down to a business model...we are dealing with human beings who are far from zero sum blank slates and all the teacher has to do is fill up the blank slate...

                            Teaching and learning are two seperate things....You can be a great teacher, but learners vary from population to population, day to day, and moment to moment....

                            BTW...how do teachers compel students to come to class if they don't want to and don't study for the test during test time?

                            Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

                            by semioticjim on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 06:23:54 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  By the way.... (0+ / 0-)

                            Why would teachers want to employ a dictatorial form of education in the worlds greatest democracy?

                            Why should teachers, parents and children embrace a business model approach to education from the same idiots who wrecked the U.S. economy?

                            Are you talking about student achievement or children's achievements because there is a big difference between the two and how one goes about creating a lasting educational experience....

                            Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

                            by semioticjim on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 06:45:00 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Democracy? In SCHOOLS?!? (0+ / 0-)

                            You must be kidding me.  Kids are monsters!  I know!  I used to be one.

                            Back in senior year of high school one of my classmates  brought a six pack of beer into French class (he sat in the front row) an calmly drank it over 45 minutes while our incompetent French teacher turned redder and redder.

                            As the story spread through the school he achieved legendary status.  If we had had a democracy we would have elected him king!  

                            BTW, kids have their own ways of dealing with bad teachers.  We stole his black board erasers every day for the whole year and hid them on top of a closet.  He railed and railed, accused the teacher who had the room the period before of stealing them (apparently complained to the principal) and became more and more unhinged over the issue.

                            Last day of school we put them all on his desk before class... over 100 of them.

                            He lost it - yelling, screaming, crying.  Teacher next door heard, came in, couldn't calm him down, got another teacher, and dragged him off to the principal.  He didn't come back the next year - apparently decided a career change might be good for his mental health.

                            If you had a student democracy in school you might get the death penalty for some teachers...

        •  Arno Duncan is a vote killer (8+ / 0-)

          You have to wonder - or not - why a cretin like Duncan still has his job. Its certainly not because his policies are going to attract a single vote, he's a bonefide vote killer for the Democrats.

          It's not because he's qualified to administer or make education policy, he's bagman for Wall St. companies who want to profit off public education dollars.

          And since there are no shortage of educational leaders with better credentials and more industry respect than that slithering corporate hack - including those who would puruse the same creepy policies that he does - you have to wonder what keeps this bastard in his job?

          Wikileaks needs to do a number on this clown and his corporate allies, too. We just need a good whistleblower to drive this bastard out. Apparently, his behavior and policies aren't enough for our Wall Street-serving President to do the right thing.

          How's the golf game going, Obama? Did you win?

        •  Biggest problem with Duncan (13+ / 0-)

          is that he has NEVER TAUGHT.  He is like a person with no children talking about parenting.  We parents all said things before our children were born that we laught at now.  Duncan needs to be replaced with someone with recent public school teaching experience.  It needs to be recent, because many of the administrators in my district taught many years ago and I can see that they do not understand the true situation now--day to day.  It also needs to be public, because any charter or private school has ways to avoid taking every child; public schools DO take every child.  

          My snake oil salesman radar goes off every time I see or hear Arne Duncan.  

      •  let's publish the test scores of polititians (7+ / 0-)

        We should have access to their SAT or ACT scores, correct?

      •  Dismalest is right (0+ / 0-)

        Dismalest commenter.  Maybe a dismal person as well.

    •  I'm surprised it took you this long (20+ / 0-)

      to get this frustrated. It happened to me after the first negative letter in the local paper back in 1988. Since then I've watched the voucher and charter movement grow, along with the increasing attacks on teachers and their unions. I heard the great Dave Marsh, noted rock crtic and Sprinsgteen biographer, on his XM radio show one day ranting on this. Said something to the effect that it is disgusting the way teachers and THEIR STANDARD OF LIVING are constantly under attack. Come to NJ, where the rabid right wing governor has an education plan...that sounds remarkably like Obama's.

    •  A quick note (10+ / 0-)

      I have been through all the comments that had been posted when I started this process at about 8:15.  There are now almost another 100.  I will make another pass through, but then will have to leave this for a while.  I still have things to do in order to be ready for school tomorrow.

      I have responded to a fair number of questions, sometimes in depth, so it is possible you might be raising a point that has already been addressed, sometimes by someone other than me.  In that case I might not respond simply because of time.

      Peace.  

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:58:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  you can ALWAYS make *your own* emails public (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc

      Maybe I'm not reading correctly, but if I get you right you had some doubts over the propriety of publicizing an email you wrote.

      I am aware of no principle that says you can't repeat in public words you yourself have previously said (or written) privately.  Publicizing someone else's private communications is another matter entirely. But your own words are yours.  Surely there is no implicit gag order on repeating yourself.  What are you thinking?  Have I misunderstood?

      •  a possible exception (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc

        The only situation I can think of in which you'd be on shaky ethical grounds repeating publicly what you've previously said privately would be if your own previous statement in some way betrays someone else's privacy (e.g. where your previous statement either directly or indirectly quotes another party's private communication).

        But in this case what is objectionable is not that you would have made public words you previously spoke privately, but that you would have revealed someone else's words.

    •  Nothing wrong with publishing your own letter. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, blueoasis, ER Doc

      Nothing to criticize.  Great letter.

      Barack Obama: Ignores his legal obligation to prosecute people who tortured prisoners to death. Good at photo ops, though.

      by expatjourno on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:04:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  a relevant political cartoon (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      can be found here

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:53:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Actually was not planning to post this early (37+ / 0-)

    I woke up and was having trouble getting back to sleep.  So I decided, what the heck, I might as well post it.

    I have no idea who is online, or how many people.  I know that most who follow me are probably not awake.

    Since this is not drawing much traffic, and I am now feeling the lack of sleep, I will probably leave this for a bit and see if I can return to sleep.

    Realistically, this probably will not appeal to that many people.  I hope at least a few will see it.  And I do welcome any response should you deign to offer one.

    Peace.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:09:30 AM PDT

  •  I am so sorry she did not at least (24+ / 0-)

    say that she got and read your thoughtful work.

    There are so many great teachers who spend so much time as you do, and it is heartbreaking for them to be constantly bashed.

    Best wishes and thanks for trying and for all you do.

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:18:39 AM PDT

  •  Just wondering what you think (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miss SPED, Caractacus

    of this one.  I read it on the bus on the way to work today (yesterday, by now):

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    It seemed to make sense...but I am not an educator, nor do I play one on TV.

    Over the last 30 years, the Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved into a mental hospital. -- Bill Maher

    by Youffraita on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:20:42 AM PDT

    •  it is a mixed bag (20+ / 0-)

      First, Tough has in general been supportive of a good chunk of the "reform" agenda.   The identifying information about him on the piece does make clear he has written about HCZ elsewhere.

      Second, while there are a number of people who admire what Canada has tried to do, in fact the track record of what he has achieved for what has been spent is not all that impressive, which is why he has been making modifications.

      One argument against the government investing in such approaches right now is the limited success to date and the amount of money such an approach takes.   It is true, however, that many coming from where I am see the importance of a wrap-around approach.  It is just not clear that you can do this, even on a pilot basis, with the funds you can apply through the department of education - you need health care, you need nutrition, you need issues of safety.  

      It is worth noting, as the late Gerald Bracey did a few years ago, that if you exclude children from poverty, the US does spectacularly on international comparisons.  Then we need to remind ourselves that we have the highest rate of child poverty of any industrialized democracy.  Thus there is a need to meet needs other than educational if what we do in education is going to make a difference. We have known this for more than four decades, if we understand the Coleman report or look at the work of John Goodlad.

      One last point -  we do need to explore a lot of different approaches, and in that sense Tough has some right about funding them.  But against that we have basic needs whose funding is of greater importance.  Let me posit it another way.  David Obey, to pay for saving the jobs of teachers, was willing to cut a chunk of the unspent money for Race to the Top.  The administration balked, and threatened to veto the bailout bill.  Why?  What good is pursuing reform if you are not going to have the teachers to keep class sizes manageable, to avoid dropping all electives, and so on?   If the administration wanted to keep its agenda, then should not it have had to offer the offsets necessary to not increase the deficit, knowing that was going to be required to get to the 60 votes in the Senate?

      A long answer to your question.  I was about to go to sleep, saw your comment, and decided i should respond now.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:36:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Our money has been transformed into (9+ / 0-)

        a veil or shield behind which all kinds of traditional ignominy and deprivation can be perpetrated virtually anonymously.  That is, the victims of the deprivation are not able to identify the deprivators, the people who hold the strings on the money bags and decide how much (of our money) to dole out when and to whom.
        So, what we have is deprivation under cover of law (charging people to use money at all, e.g.) by people who know precisely what they are doing and who they are.
        Using access to money as a tool to subordinate and segregate and intimidate is another example of the indirect action that's also employed by terrorists.  Indirection is useful because it makes it hard for the victim of aggression to know where the hit is coming from and, consequently, where or how he should retaliate.

        Money, a figment of the imagination we use to lubricate our transactions to facilitate them over time and space, is being used now a the denial of the reading/writing skill was used in the past to shut certain populations out of normal intercourse.  Money has been turned into an instrument of social control by people who are into abuse and deprivation -- i.e. by people who are addicted to power.

        We still have a liquidity problem. It turns out it's not just Wall Street that's hoarding money.  Industrial and commercial corporations are now sitting on $1.7 trillion in cash which they are refusing to either invest in plant, hire more employees, or use to shore up their underfunded pension plans.

        When the object is control or power, deprivation (a lesser version of torture) is indispensable because, to be felt, power has to be felt.  Dictators have to hurt.  Money makes it possible to deprive without leaving a trace.  Think of the mentality of a person who pulls the wings off flies.  He doesn't care that the fly doesn't know who's depriving it of flight.  The deprivator is self-satisfied.

        The Constitution is not a menu for an exclusive diner.

        by hannah on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:22:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  When the only thing test scores prove (9+ / 0-)

          is the relative income level of the test-taker, your point is well taken. And - as such - standardized test-driven education is simply a means to separate the haves and have-nots and deny the later group, a priori, opportunity and access to further education.

          Thus, both parties have pursued education policies intended to preserve privilege for the already-overprivileged, while creating the legitimating practices to justify exclusion and control teachers.

          In Massachusetts, private school students are exempt from MCAS tests that stand between a student and their degrees. When you consider how many MA private school alumni dominate politics and public policy (including education), the malevolence and fraud inherent in their 'educational policies' is laid bare.

          •  Correct (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Daddy Bartholomew, ER Doc, miss SPED

            I think U of Florida just published a study that did a nice job connecting test scores and home factors.

          •  careful, it's not the ONLY thing (7+ / 0-)

            yes there is a high correlation.  But it is not rigid.  Other things can and do affect the test scores.

            Like AP Scores in our County dropped some this past year.   I note we had 9 days off because of snow, two three hour early dismissals (in which I did not see one of my AP classes) and three 2 hour late arrivals.  Add to this that i was required 3 times to waste an instructional period giving practice "formative" assessments for a state test that I had never had an AP student fail, and I think you can account for a good chunk of the drop.  Other teachers in my building saw the pattern, other teachers of AP social studies courses around the system with whom I have talked so similar indications.  We had loss of instructional time, unplanned interruptions, loss of continuity of instruction.  That affected scores.

            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

            by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:42:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And yet, in the very "careful" metrics (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassandra Waites, orlbucfan

              they use to figure out how well a school or a group of teachers are doing, that's NEVER factored in.

              My first teaching we had so much snow in January that I saw my students less than three out of four weeks. And most of the time off was right before midterms and the winter Regents Exam schedule. You can picture how that influenced things.

              Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

              by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:21:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  true other factors like (0+ / 0-)

              Learning disabilities, specific preparation of one group over another, etc. make a difference too. I was speaking in aggregate terms.

              But the evidence of scoring differences between rich and poor students are so profound and relatively consistent (individual anomalies and exceptions granted), that to base an entire student's future on a standardized test is nothing but abuse and excuse for exclusion.

              Throw in the fact that at the college level, standardized tests are good only for testing baseline understanding of terms and basic facts, and their role in the dumbing down of education should not be ignored. Scantron tests are a lazy teacher's evaluation tool in my area of study. I never used them beyond the first test in a 101 class. I only use essay tests and larger projects for evaluation after that...........

              Other factors like improving student/teacher ratios and levels of student-teacher interaction are far more consistent and predictive of learning outcomes. Among the poor, the differences can be even more profound.

              And when private school students are exempted from testing - as they are in Massachusetts - the meanspirited exclusionary purposes of such testing should be abundantly apparent and regarded as nothing more.

              •  I use them in my AP tests (0+ / 0-)

                because one half of the student's score on the AP exam is from multiple choice items, 60 in 45 minutes.  So they need to get used to demonstrating their knowledge and understanding in that format.  

                The state test, for which they also must sit (although if they have a passing score on the AP in theory they don't need the state test, but the state test is given within a couple of weeks of the AP test), is entirely multiple choice.  It is also now in our school only administered on the computer.  I have given it several times on the computer, and while I cannot disclose actual questions until officially released by the state, I am still seeing questions with no technically correct answer (Brown v Board did NOT overturn Plessy, even if the Court telegraphed that intention-- the only issue before it was segregated public schools, and that is all that was overturned) or with more than one answer that is technically correct.  Still, my AP students finish a section usually in far less than half the time they are given, then have to sit there, board, drawing on their computer.  Even most of my non-AP kids finish with plenty of time to spare.

                "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:23:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Perhaps a difference of discipline or grad level (0+ / 0-)

                  I use multiple choice, fill-in, etc. for my first 101 class in any subject, so that baseline terms and concepts are undertood sufficiently to get through the rest of the course.

                  But after that, its essays and research reports. Many can't write and off I send them to the writing clinic. Those with learning disabilities are much easier to accomodate with essay driven tests. I can demand more thinking in essays and track reasoning and comprehension better.

                  As I said in my subject heading, perhaps its a difference of grade level. But I see them fresh out of high school, so I know how far they got with their writing and critical thinking skill development.  

                  And perhaps its a difference of discipline, mine being anthropology, where we recognise multiple answers as potentially correct. So the reasoning for your answer is a factor in your grade.

                  But at my level of teaching we all quietly understand that scantron tests a really easy to grade - zip and you're done - and their use always rises when work overloads and we're all looking for shortcuts to get through finals, because the school wants our grades at the end of the day.

                  I confess, I've been guilty. But I think its cheating, driven by ridiculous workplace demands.

                  And it may be the reason I have to send so many kids off to the writing clinic.

  •  Consider putting her name in the title. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, ER Doc, Drewid, Caractacus

    She'll be more likely to either see this diary or hear about it.

    No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, `less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it.

    by dov12348 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:29:03 AM PDT

  •  trust me - she already will hear n/t (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ivan, JanL, Drewid, miss SPED

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:35:35 AM PDT

  •  It's my experience that opinion piece (11+ / 0-)

    writers in just about any field aren't interested in responding to communications.  They're distributors, not receivers.

    That said, I've about given up on people who talk about schools failing and compare groups of students over time as if they were identical specimens.  Such people have a poor understanding of the relationship between cause and effect and not being able to identify causes, can't possibly anticipate effects.

    Teacher training, from what I observed of my college classmates who majored in education, has long focused on the form (how to transmit or infuse the information whose aim was to direct the student's future behavior), rather than the content of the information the teachers would be expected to impart.  As far as I know, it got worse with the new math.  What I know from looking at my grandson's school books is that a lot of effort has gone into formatting the books, slicing and dicing information and organizing and including pretty pictures so that, whether it's a Spanish text or a tome on biology, the books look like super comic books and still don't hold the interest of students or teachers -- nor of grandmothers.

    Personally, I never expected my three children, who all went through public schools, to get anything out of their experience, other than an awareness of other people and how to get along with them, and an inkling of the variety of knowledge and how to find out more about what interests them.  As long as they were in school, I was a parent volunteer in schools whose professional staff was looking for free labor, community support and cheerleaders.  An objective evaluation was never sought and certainly not appreciated.  (A phys ed teacher, who was reported to be smoking cigarettes outside the door of the gymnasium while the class, having been divided by race for a basketball scrimmage, directed itself, was dismissed within the year.  But, there was never any feedback or mention of the matter.  I think that when legitimate errors are pointed out to people, even when they fix them, they don't want to acknowledge the error.

    The problem with the education of children is that the consequences of the effort show up so much later that they're impossible to measure in a society where households relocated, on average, every two years.  Whether the focus is on education or instruction does make a difference.  Also, children differ as to whether they learn more from what they see or what they hear and some get much information from tactile sensations (musicians, for example).

    On the other hand, minors are the last group without civil rights and without human rights.  The courts consider them to be the property of their parents and the state wants to hold parents accountable for how their children behave -- i.e. everyone's expectations are unrealistic.  It's my sense that most minority cultures are more aural than visual.  The parents of hispanic children or any recent immigrant group don't read English and aren't visually directed.  They go by what they hear.  Which means they are easily confused by verbal obfuscation, but get the advantage of having Americans take their non-nativeness into account.  (I suspect Barack Obama was treated more as a recent immigrant, for whom some Americans make special efforts, than a typical African American youth from whom not much is expected.  And, like most people, he credits his success to his own hard work and effort and, if there are failures, they are someone else's fault.  We tend not to notice help from other people, only when they stand in our way.  That's human nature.)

    How committed Barack Obama is to public anything is not clear.  Black elitists are just as elitist as white ones and much of the civil rights movement was directed by individuals who resented being disrespected.  Unfortunately, the call for equal treatment does not necessarily result in higher quality.  It's possible for the majority of the people to be equally disrespected, as, for example, the majority of airline passengers can now attest.  Much courtesy has been lost in the quest for equality.  There was a time when not responding to a personal communication was considered rude.  People had a sense of obligation.  I think that's what we need to resurrect.  It's harder in a language where "thank you" has been turned into a sign-off or disconnect.  "Obligado" conveys something different.

    The Constitution is not a menu for an exclusive diner.

    by hannah on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:00:16 AM PDT

    •  that has not been my experience (8+ / 0-)

      when I have sent thoughtful messages, I have often been acknowledged - several other people at the Post, Derrick Jackson and Scot Lehigh of the Boston Globe, the latter explaining why disagreed with me, and so on.

      In this case two things - I publicly copied Jay Mathews, a key person at the Post on education; and I sent her a second message.

      Not a guarantee, but since I had said I had considered posting an open letter, one might think that would have gotten her attention.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:31:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have received responses from several (5+ / 0-)

      op-ed writers I have written to, including E.J. Dionne, Harold Meyerson, and Colbert King of the Washington Post. They don't respond to every e-mail, but they do respond to some.

      Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

      by LWelsch on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:36:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Worse than 'distributors' (7+ / 0-)

      Most of them are paid propagandists for whatever ideology/institution/party/corporation they shill for.

      As such, they reflect the further corruption of the role of the public intellectual and their integration into one propaganda machine or another.

      •  shills (7+ / 0-)

        I try to avoid using foul and/or insulting language when I comment on this site, but I become enraged when it comes to how the cabal of corporate types, private equity, politicians, columnists, and school "reformers" are trying to destroy the system of public education in this country.  The children of the rich will always have the option of attending a high cost, exempt from testing, non-diverse private school while the children of everybody else will be forced to attend a test factory school staffed by teachers working in education for a few years before they go on to a "real" profession. Michele Rhee already sees education as something that teachers don’t do for an entire career. Why people like Ruth Marcus want to shill for that type of school system is beyond me.

        •  money and power (4+ / 0-)

          That's why they do it. And that makes them shills; advance men and ideologues softening us up for the corporate hitmen that follow.......

          Hey, maybe she gets lucky and gets a political appointment, that she can parley into even more lucrative work, once back in the private sector.

          There's no end of opportunity for a shill, on one side of the fence or another (or both if you are, say, Bill Clinton). Everyone in power can use a corrupt, but compelling liar who will say anything you want said, for the right price.

          •  Well, power, in addition to having to hurt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis

            to be felt, also has to be deceptive.  The perversion of reality (never mind "truth") is an integral component.  George W. Bush got power, not despite his lies, but because he lied.

            Satan lied to Eve and we continue to blame her for believing him.

            The Constitution is not a menu for an exclusive diner.

            by hannah on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:24:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  unfortunately (0+ / 0-)

              Bill Clinton and Obama appear to be liars too.

              •  Well, it's not a matter of fortune. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26

                Bill Clinton told half-truths, which are often worse than a lie because they are difficult to challenge.

                I happen to think that one can't lie about the future.  So, to the extent that Obama made promises that he may not be able to keep, regardless of whether he wants to, I don't consider those lies.
                So far, Obama's saving grace is his willingness to admit error.  He's not hampered by guilt, which actually makes people do the same stupid stuff over again in an effort to deny that it was wrong in the first place.

                How we are going to compensate for having bombed the crap out of Iraq is a dilemma.  I'm all for getting the military out of Iraq, but, as Rachel Maddow pointed out, there's a question whether the State Department has enough clout to organize and pay for reconstruction and clean-up.  Is the military taking all the DU contaminated equipment home?  Will the media be interested in exploring once the troops are gone?

                The Constitution is not a menu for an exclusive diner.

                by hannah on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:01:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Hope.....still (0+ / 0-)

                  I hope that willingness to admit error will extend to school policy. Our rage as educators towards Obama and Duncan is not something that will fade. My firm belief in Obama as the right choice for us as our President is what causes me to inform members of the public about how horrible this high stakes testing of students is to their learning process. My hope is that we'll be heard and that policy will change.  Hannah, thank you for pointing out that good part of our President's personality.

                  •  I think the dude's pretty stubborn, actually (0+ / 0-)

                    He got hammered in the second half of last year because the stimulus wasn't producing jobs. The party saw three straight by-elections where either people of color stayed home, formerly-working people stayed home and all of the stayed home.

                    Coakley lost 850,000 Obama voters in Massachusetts - all in poor, working class and ALANA communities, while Brown won with only 64,000 more voters than McCain got in that election. So they lost Kennedy's seat because they ran a hack neoliberal and the party's base stayed home in droves.  

                    So what was Obama's response to the inside-party accusation that he hadn't done enough about jobs?

                    He repackaged his infrastructure proposals from last year and added a business tax credit.

                    That wasn't just stupid politically, it was quietly stubborn, bordering on arrogant.

                    And they recently cut food stamps. That's just cold.

                    It won't change until we make 'em change. Even if that means letting the teabaggers kick their ass until they get it.

                    Hope ain't gonna get us anything, we're gonna have to push Obama and this party to do things they clearly don't want to do..........

                    •  The food stamp cut doesn't go into effect (0+ / 0-)

                      until 2014.  Much can and will change before then.  Besides, the Food Stamp program is mainly a subsidy for industrial agriculture and, if the rules are anything like those for WIC, they're onerous.
                      It makes more sense for kids to get two good meals at school, especially if the nutritional level can be improved.

                      The Constitution is not a menu for an exclusive diner.

                      by hannah on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:51:00 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I agree systems need reform (0+ / 0-)

                        Yes, its a subsidy for agrobusiness. But that's true if the money's spent on school lunches.

                        But it does make a difference in people's ability to make ends meet. However petty and miserly its funding is already.

                        But to trade off school lunches for food stamps is like feeding the kids while starving the parents.

                        That's just creepy.

                        Yeah, the system needs reform, and everyone needs to get a little closer to their food supply. Tweak it, create incentives for whole food purchase and 'healthy' choices and all that.

                        But do it while you quadruple the funding, not while you are cutting it back.  

                        Reason #6001 why I see no reason to support the Democrats this season. They just keep selling us out.

                        •  There's a long tradition of Republicans (0+ / 0-)

                          "doing" the people and Democrats "doing for" the people.  Getting representatives to take direction from the people is going to take a while because it's not nearly as much fun. "Public servant" should not be a euphemism.  Social service should be THE mission, not an after-thought.

                          Let's put the public back into Washington.

                          The Constitution is not a menu for an exclusive diner.

                          by hannah on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 12:20:19 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                •  Coming up short is not the same as lying (0+ / 0-)

                  That's not what I mean. But echoing the inclusive language of social democracy and rhetoric of the great society/new deal to an audience that has been dying for just that, but - when in office - continuing the sell-out traditions of neoliberalism and saving wall street, while pretending it makes difference for the rest of us, is lying.

                  Creating and boasting about job creation using calculations and results that provoke derisive laughter and disbelief looks like lying, even if its genuine. Or pretending a job saved is a job created or any other bit of nonsense that comes out of the WH, leaves us wondering if they know they are lying or they are just that dumb. Either way, we know it isn't true.

                  Making no distinction between the 3 living wage jobs that were destroyed for the one minimum-wage job that was created is dishonest at the least.

                  Throw in all those speeches where he was 'honest' and told us jobs were gone and they wouldn't be back for years and then did nothing, or peddled some more corporate welfare that nobody believes will create jobs, is utterly neglectful and disrespectful to those who elected you because dared them to 'hope.

                  Now stare at the sum of all their efforts - and the jobless recovery neoliberalism was bound to produce - see nothing but every social need turned into a corporate welfare program and the cries of 'bait and switch' or 'republican lite' take on more credence. For those of us who saw through that bullshit when Clinton was in office. It looks like Clinton Mach II.

                  Add widening war when he got into power on the back of a robust anti-war movement and he were the only major candidate with clean hands who was 'against' these wars, get a peace prize for being elected and give a speach about justifiable war and well...

                  Then bang on about the right of people to build a mosque next to the place where a decade of ongoing war began in a fireball of death - while you add more countries to our muslim wars (yemen, Somalia, deeper into Afghanistan and Pakistan) - makes this whole presidency look like a sick hypocritical joke. Especially since it was Obama's posture on the war that set him apart from Hillary Clinton.

                  Throw in the rumors about Obama pushing a WPA-style jobs program off the table with congressmen - midway through two years of government welfare for the rich - and he begins to look like the reason there are no jobs and there will be no jobs, now or in the future.  

                  It not just about coming up short anymore, it's looking like complete betrayal. Especially when so many of us really, really need some old school, social democracy. New Deal matched with the inclusion of the Great Society. That was what we hoped for.

                  What we got was something else. I think that whole campaign was bullshit. Unless something significant changes in his behavior and the policies of this party, I'll be convinced the whole thing was bullshit from the git-go and we were just patsies to be had.

                  •  I never bought into the idea that (0+ / 0-)

                    the President of the U.S. can create jobs and considered all the economic planning a crock.  Why, if America is propelled by free enterprise are corporations constantly looking for "protection" and monopolies and patent rights guarantees?  The answer is that free enterprise, like the free market, is a myth and a sham.
                    However, we do have private corporations which are effectively out of control.  They are artificial persons, authorized by states, which have no authority or power to monitor their interstate, much less global operations.  We've got rogue corporations operating under cover of law and perpetrating mayhem.  What they're doing at present is sequestering $1.7 trillion in profits instead of investing in plant or hiring.  Why?  They want the American worker to learn, once and for all, who's boss.  So, while Obama pours money into the states, the corporations turn into hoarders, waiting for a more favorable climate.  How long can we hold on?

                    Who controls the money is the key.  By rights it should be Congress that hold the strings and the executive that holds the purse, but we've reserved control of our money supply for a private corporation, which doesn't have to disclose its assets to Congress.  It's our money!  The good faith and credit of the American people define its value.

                    The deprivation of the American people has been carried out behind the shield of money.  Money is hard to trace.  When the 7/11 clerk gets laid off, who's he going to blame for the fact that the bank won't lend to stock the store and manufacturers insist on being paid up front?  How's he supposed to know that the banksters have decided a new "facility" down the road earns them a bigger fee and the 7/11 is history.

                    We need to talk about the corporations just like we talked about health insurance, a class of corporation that had to be reined in.  The public health clinics Bernie Sanders got funded will provide the public option without any special legislation.  Anybody can use them and fees are on a sliding scale, medicare or medicaid.  Medicare Advantage, a cadillac program for the not really sick, has been cut.  The Republican plaints were valid.  They just couldn't admit that what was being targeted was exercise programs and spas, the latest profit centers for hospitals.

                    Finally, although Obama opposed the invasion before it took place, he voted to fund Iraq in the Senate, if I remember correctly, and on the campaign trail he was only slightly to the left of Clinton.  It was Dodd who came out for total withdrawal and Biden who pledged there would be no bases.  It was their commitments which gave Iraq the courage to insist on a new status of forces agreement with a certain withdrawal date.  Afghanistan was always different and, IMHO, is still being used as a sop to pacify the warmongers while we get out of Iraq as quietly as possible.  When that's done, then the shit will hit the fan.  'Cause there's a lot to expose and once the images are released according to the orders of the courts, there will be a whole lot more.  Every platform was equipped with video, including the drones reducing people to a red mist with hellfire missiles.

                    But, if the revelations had come first, nothing else was going to get done.  Gates is going to get out of the way and Obama will have someone else deal with the mess.

                    The Constitution is not a menu for an exclusive diner.

                    by hannah on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:45:47 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  Outstanding post, hannah (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      orlbucfan

      Worthy of a diary.

      I wrote this before I read your comment following :-)

      "Space Available" is now the most popular retail chain in the nation.

      by Free Jazz at High Noon on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:25:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One can only hope that this diary (9+ / 0-)

    makes it to the White House.

  •  Great letter. (9+ / 0-)

    The biggest problem I see is that many teacher colleges do a horrible job educating prospective teachers.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that the curricula in these colleges are narrow and not at all challenging.  So instead of genuine intellectuals, they're producing petty bureaucratic nitwits.  They should be reading Plato, and Aristotle, and Rousseau, and Freud, and Ricardo, and Marx, and Tolstoy, and Stevens, and Joyce, etc.  Not "Miss Nancy's Five Golden Rules for Obedience," and whatever other authoritarian, simplistic tripe that's pushed on them by their mediocre professors.  

    The other big problem is low salaries.  If we want the brightest people to gravitate towards teaching we need to make sure that compensation is commensurate with relative material comfort.  I'm not talking Goldman Sachs quant-kid money.  But teachers shouldn't have to work second jobs just to pay the bills either.

    The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

    by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:35:33 AM PDT

    •  my experience (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfgb, JanL, ER Doc, karmsy, miss SPED

      in taking education classes at the graduate level ( I already had a BA in English lit and an MSW ) was that the educational research being done was more valuable and insightful than most people assume.

      •  I use what I learned in teacher college (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sfgb, ER Doc, leftangler

        every single day.

        •  Really? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfgb, blueoasis, Tom Taaffe

          I found education courses useless. But that's why I ended up just studying mathematics rather than math education. But back when I thought getting an education degree was a good idea I found very little that I could use in my classroom.

          Maybe it depends on the school.

          •  I think it does. (0+ / 0-)

            I took ED courses at a small university for my CA teaching credential. The curriculum was theoretical, but applicable for the classroom (I still apply John Dewey although his theory has been distorted over the years, a topic for another diary), and there was much hands-on components, including observation of me in the classroom and my shadowing veteran teachers.

            At the University where I teach, no student has anything good to say about the education department. Weird requirements, needed classes cancelled or scheduled poorly, and little observation of student teaching -albeit as far as I can tell.

            "Space Available" is now the most popular retail chain in the nation.

            by Free Jazz at High Noon on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:32:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  'process' over content (8+ / 0-)

      The central problem is that, thanks to No Child Left Behind, you are unqualified to teach K-12 if you don't have - or commit to - an masters in education.

      I have a Ph.D. in the social sciences, but I am unqualified to teach this subject in K-12, despite a decade as a college professor (with over a 93% satisfaction rate in teacher evaluations), because I do not have a masters in education.

      For those unfamiliar, a doctorate in Anthropology takes longer than every other discipline in the country (11.5 years on average) and requires mastery in four subdisciplines: cultural, archaeology, linguistics, biology. Yet, I'm unqualified to teach a high school social science class. Or, to be qualified, I'm supposed to get another degree just to qualify to stand in front of a class and follow a syllabus/textbook produced by corporate America.

      Is that because they fear I know too much and might deviate from the corporate script?

      As the editor of the graduate newspaper for several years at my school, I saw the state of grad student writing, and edited several MA theses, included education theses. Wow, while everyone's writing skills made me cringe (my parents did a better job of teaching me than my public education at all levels), the students in the education program horrified me the most. Not just in terms of weak sentences or 2-page paragraphs (everyone was guilty of that error), but in their meager comprehension of the social science theorists that are popular throughout the humanities/social sciences.

      I think a lot of education programs have been dumbed down to satisfy the need for ME/MED degrees and to serve the stupification/corporatization of education in general. In my grad program, none of those theses would have been accepted for defense and the student would have spent another year (or two) bringing their writing up to snuff, in terms of content, if not prose.

      While teaching good classroom skills is important, privileging 'process' over content can only stupify education more than it already has. And requiring ME's as a condition of employment turns that corner of education into a treadmill for profit, instead of a place when one learns not only how to teach but the content of the courses they will teach.

      At a point where only those with ME's and MED's may participate either in teaching or education policy, that narrow band of preparedness has homogenized the discussion, destroyed intellectual diversity and paved the way for corporations to cannibalize our systems.

      While it may be unfair to the greater mass of good teachers for me to say this, the worst educational leaders I have known had such degrees. Their creepy, manipulative behavior and their cynical educational policies were taught in those programs, including Harvard. Especially Harvard.

      But that's what happens when you privilege process over content, and corporate 'expertise' over the lived experience/expertise of good teachers, however they came by their craft.

      •  not quite accurate - (4+ / 0-)

        under NCLB each state set, within guidelines, the standards it wished to use for highly qualified teacher.  I am unaware that any state set as a requirement for initial certification a masters degree.  To retain one's credential one has continuing education requirements, but those can often be fulfilled without obtaining a masters' degree.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:49:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Try NYC (7+ / 0-)

          Without disrespect to you and your wonderful advoacy for education, the only path for me to teach in NYC, without an ME is to join the city scholar's program and commit to a field-driven ME.

          NYC is my original home and where I would return, were it possible. This is especially true, after my chosen profession was destroyed by the pro-corporate higher educational reforms forced on the industry by Bill Clinton, their auditors/consultants (same companies) and their corporate-minded boards. Most college professors are now adjuncts and most of them make less than 20,000 a year, despite teaching twice as much as the remaining tenure-track and full-time faculty. There are now more college administrators than full time professors nationally, not counting clerical staff. Needless to say, administrators make much more than professors.

          Massachusetts public education has no social science program, which explained the ignorance I faced teaching social science at the college level in that state.

          I started practicing the MA history exam - closest thing to my educational skill set - but abandoned it, in part out of disgust for the Pearson's Publishing-prepared test, which obsessed about the details of American imperial war, while ignoring its causes or impact of war (I have a subspecialty in political violence and nearly decade of fieldwork experience in Northern Ireland). I saw no point in pursuing this effort, because HS teachers were being laid off all around me this spring. Just as well, I didn't see a single ad for a history or social science teacher posted locally all summer.

          And as you well know, school boards just pocketed the money recently sent to them by congress - as did the corporations who got money first - as a hedge against next year's shortfall.

          The only people anyone wants to hire are math and science teachers and more administrators. Both parties have betrayed education to feed Wall Street's insatiable greed and the desire to cannibalize public education to produce more compliant and ignorant drones.  

          •  As Ken said, it varies. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Daddy Bartholomew, ER Doc

            Texas does not require a master's degree to be highly qualified.

          •  Exactly, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis

            NCLB only requires that you have a major or the equivalent in the content area which you will teach (or you take a test). Other than that, it leaves the decisions up to the state.

            In NJ there is no such thing as an "education" major. You must have a content area major, and then you complete courses, including student teaching, to become certified. You can do that through a college or university program or through one of the alternate route programs.

            In NY, you get provisionally certified, and have 5 years in which to complete a masters degree (preferably in the content area you teach) in order to be permanently certified. This requirement applies to teachers who start with BAs. People who have MATs are in a different situation.

            Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

            by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:29:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I did not have a major in social studies (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              miss SPED

              and for certification in Maryland the question was not a major, but a sufficient number of courses in a variety of topics, including at least one semester course each in a minority history (I had History of Women in America), a non-Western history (I was allowed to use Russian History after the Chinese History Course I tried to take at the local community college twice got cancelled), Sociology, anthropology (I got away with physical instead of cultural), Psychology, Economics, 6 credit in geography . . .   I had plenty of ordinary history, including my AP US in high school, and political science.  I think we needed 6 credits in psychology, and I was allowed to substitute courses in a masters in counseling program in which I was briefly enrolled.   I think I did four of the required courses at the local community college, because it was cheap.

              I had to sit for the relevant Praxis II test, although I'm not sure how they set the cut scores -  I was way over it.

              "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

              by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:28:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks, I forgot that little part (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                teacherken, miss SPED

                A content areas major or its equivalent. In the case of the Social Studies it's also a little different because of the interdisciplinary nature of Social Studies.

                I was originally trained in the social studies, but the state wouldn't accept my humanities courses, so I would have ad to take an additional 12 or 18 credits. I had taken the content area exam and passed with flying colors, but alas this was in the early 90s when thing were very different.

                From my experience, generally, there is no such thing as a "social studies major," at least here in NJ or in NY. It's a content major, like history, anthro, poli sci, econ, etc. And then you have to fill in the other collateral requirements.

                Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

                by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:04:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Writing skills. (4+ / 0-)

        ugh.  I chose to send my children to a private Catholic school because they did a lot of creative writing starting in kindergarten.  They also had the children present their thoughts in front of class constantly.  As Ken says in his piece, creativity is the key in my mind, to better students.  Creativity has come to be know by many as "critical thinking".  It is so very easy to get children to be creative in thought.  I teach Mom and Tot gymnastic classes and I push that goal with every class.  With babies.  I have no patience with the corporate, follow the lines type of education we have right now.  It is the biggest reason home schooling is so big.

      •  According to friends who (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        antirove, cassidy3, blueoasis

        are looking for teaching jobs, it is unwise to say you have a master's here in IL because nobody wants to pay the salary.  A friend is leaving off that she is 2 courses away from her MA on her cover letters while applying for K-8 jobs.

      •  TT, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis

        you are making a very important point here regarding ME and MEDs. I finished an MA in Classical English in 1979. My alma mater was Stetson U in DeLand. It was a constant joke among students about how dumb the Education Department was. A Masters from it was an informal insult--not kidding you here, good sir. There are some brilliant comments on here that NEED TO BE EXPANDED INTO DIARIES! Please, okay? :-)LOL

        •  I don't like to insult people (0+ / 0-)

          who busted their asses and spent a lot of money/time for their education.

          There are formal ranking of degrees within the discipline. A Ph.D. ranks highest and MED's rank very low. There's also snobbery and quackery throughout the system. Sounds like the education program at your alma mater lacked 'credibility.

          But the problems have gotten much worse since then. The only two criteria that matter to evaluation of college programs by their schools are:

          How much money do they bring in?
          How many bodies can we count in their classes and programs?

          Only buckets of outside money - on top of student fees - will keep a department healthy.

          If they show a high body count in classes, they will be ghettoized, with lots of grad students and adjuncts hired to keep the body count going.

          Administrative bloat, out of control administation salaries and decisionmaking, endless metrics trucked out to justify corporate cannibalism, more administrators than teachers, distance learning frauds, dinners that cost the price of several full-scholarships all the bloody time, the waste and fraud is absolutely central to the dishonesty that has raped our educational systems.

          And no, it ain't just 'for-profit' schools, this critique is directly aimed at many of America's most prominent public and private colleges and universities.

          20-30 years of pro-corporate 'reform' in higher education has devolved America's higher educational systems into a sick, twisted mix of a debtor's prison, a pyramid scheme and a mail order fraud.

          Everyone looking at their student bill needs to challenge the claims of their school and their so-called mission. Students are treated with contempt, parents are routinely lied to, faculty are abused to keep them terrified. teaching has been improverished and administration is one of the great growth job markets in the country.

          That bloat and the bad decisionmaking that followed is exactly why that bill has grown so obscenely large. And every corporate-minded idea makes the situation worse. You can track it like tuition increases.

    •  It goes beyond low salaries (12+ / 0-)

      The general disrespect for government employees combined with the fact that teaching was traditionally a "pink collar" profession...we have an astounding degree of disrespect for schoolteachers, which naturally leads bright students to avoid going into education even if they are not concerned with making the big bucks.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:31:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  you have little idea of the curriculum in (10+ / 0-)

      many schools/colleges of education.  Some they have little choice, since it is required by the state for licensing.

      I will agree that there are a lot of places that should not be allowed to certify (because an approved programs is licensed by the state to issue a certification in the name of the state), and there are lots of reasons.  For example, might you have problem with someone being certified to teach biology by Pat Robertson's Regent University or Jerry Falwell's Liberty, without ensuring that despite the religious orientation of the institutions the students are prepared to teach it as a science, including the theory of evolution?

      Teacher certification - and recertification, which requires additional coursework - is a cash cow for many institutions who take more money from the students in the education program than they spend on educating them.  That is part of the problem.  

      But the solution is not to allow alternative certification programs which are even less rigorous.  Nor it is to allow Teach For America to issue its own Master Degrees, which it apparently will soon be able to do.

      Attacking the teaching profession and teachers is also not how to improve the teaching force.

      For those interested in comparisons by test scores, consider the following.

      The highest scoring nation is Finland.  It is hard to get into an education program, one goes through a process of gradual induction (supervised training) over several years before full licensure, but is paid a livable wage during that time, and the teaching force is unionized.

      If you look at high scoring states in the US, they are almost all heavily unionized, not merely in teaching but in other aspects of the workforce.  The lowest scoring tend to be right to work states in the South, in part because places like MS do not put money into education because the public schools are often much more heavily black than the population, and that is something of a legacy of the Civil Rights ear.  Those states have lower per capita income, and test scores still strongly correlate with family income.  They have lower income because the workers are not unionized.

      One more point.  If you look at the rate of dismissal of tenured teachers, unionized California dismisses at more than twice the percentage than does right to work Mississippi.

      There is a lot of incorrect information and erroneous assumptions in much of what we read about education.  In part that is because the term "reformer" has been coopted by a narrow slice of those thinking about education, many who are so self-described are outside of schools, but in think tanks, and there is huge money pushing their agenda.  In her book Diane Ravitch writes about a school board election in San Diego where a women who was not willing to blindly go along with the "reform" agenda was target by big money interests.  As it happens, she held her seat.  We are now seeing something similar in New York.  The State Senator who prevent the willy-nilly expansion of charters is being targeted in a Democratic primary in Harlem by someone being supported by large amounts from hedge fund managers, who have discovered how profitable it is to be involved with charter schools.  That is part of the reality, what Diane called in her book the Billionaire Boys Club.  Among the key players are foundations established by the Walton Family, the Gates family, and the  The Broad family.  The latter two overlap on a number of initiatives intended to drive/define the terms of educational reform.  Several people here - including me - have written here about the roles they play, and yet MSM articls rarely question or fully examine the role they play, and how they play it.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:47:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As an undergrad social studies ed major (4+ / 0-)

      I had many classes where we studied Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Freud, Marx, Tolstoy, etc.

  •  Ken's Letter (16+ / 0-)

    Ken,
      Excellent! First rate! Go public! VERY public!

    Marion

  •  Over time I have learned to avoid Ruth Marcus (11+ / 0-)

    Many claim she is liberal. I have learned over time that while she may not be conservative, she is frequently ignorant. Sometimes I used to read her column, now I just avoid it.

    Unfortunately teaching is very difficult. How you do manage to teach just amazes me. Teachers do not become teachers to do poorly, but rather to improve people.

    President Obama and Arne Duncan have taken "popular" positions, blaming teachers, when teachers are only one part of the problem. Yes we need better teachers. We need more teachers. We need better parents. And on and on. But helping teachers to become better as opposed to penalizing teachers based on the wrong measures is the solution.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:32:19 AM PDT

  •  Denigration of the Professional (13+ / 0-)

    We've seen this with a number of professions, but never to the extent going on now with lawyers.

    One of the side-effects is that almost anyone, then, feels the equal of the professional in professional matters.

    Yes, all opinions matter, but not all opinions are equal--and there is a certain value to professional experience and training.

    Marcus doesn't understand that, at least, as far as teaching goes--though I'll bet she feels differently about journalism!

    •  AaronBa, your comment hits the heart of the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, antirove

      matter that all too many miss on DKos.  My research shows the rise of the professions IS the rise of the middle class.  The Lewis Powell memo laying out the New Right agenda back in 1973 shows beyond question that breaking the professional certification of skills and thus stopping professions from forming a barrier to ideological and profit-oriented manipulation was the end goal from the very first.  Professions and unions focus on outcomes, processes, and peer-certification, the kind of closed self-regulating and self-perpetuating system upon which enforcement of standards and regulation do, and must, rest.  If you wish to break regulatory processes, you must break the unions and the professions.  Breaking regulatory processes so "profit" can be the sole driver has been the New Right's purpose from the start.  Breaking the teacher's unions has no other purpose than to remove all standards so ruthless businesses can move into another area to exploit solely for profit.  Those who attack teacher's unions do not have, and have never had, the improvement of children's education as the primary goal, that is why any objective indicator to the contrary (such as states having better outcomes or firing more teachers) is dismissed out of hand.  I'm working hard on researching and writing a book on the development  and interconnection of professions, unions, regulation, and the rise and quality of democratic governance.  We have been taken over by those who put profit and power uber alles, and who now have become a cancer on the democratic governance system that is killing it, just as it was killed by the same kind of folks back in the 1920s and 30s Weimar Germany.

  •  Education is critical infrastructure (16+ / 0-)

    but too many people do not want to invest in it. Some of that is greed. People of resources can always afford the best education money can buy and want to maintain an uneven playing for their own children. Some of it is ignorance. There has been so much focus on test scores without a shred of understanding of the factors that stack the deck against some children and schools. Some of it political cowardice. It is easy to scapegoat teachers, unions, parents, or children. Obama has been good on some issues and terrible on others. Education is one where I am unimpressed so far.

    Thanks TK for helping us more appreciate and understand some of the fundamental issues.

    Tea Party = Racist, Rapacious, Reactionary Republicans

    by DWG on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:56:07 AM PDT

  •  Some quick responses (12+ / 0-)
    1. I think it's fine to post this.  Why not?  The piece you responded to was public, and your letter was offered for publication.  I don't see any issue here.
    1. Blog post originally vs. letter originally vs. whatever - again, I think it's up to you, the writer.  I have no kvetching on that issue either.
    1. Regarding contents - I generally have no argument here either.  You and I differ on some issues in regard to this (although our differences aren't all that big) especially about testing.  But I have a couple questions:

     a) It seems obvious to me that teacher-training is inadequate.  But I am not sure it is really possible to do it well, given anything like the current situation.  It is my belief that good teachers are born and then made.  Certainly it is possible to teach some skills of teaching.  But all of the really great teachers I've seen in action (and I've been privileged to see more than a few) seem to just "have it".  That skill gets honed by training and experience, but it exists from a much earlier age.  We need to FIND those gifted teachers.  I do like one ad I saw in the NY Subways:

    You remember your first grade teacher's name. Who will remember yours?

     b) Regarding unions.  I don't have any notion that teachers' unions are making teachers worse - you point out that the data simply does not support those views.  But I have a different issue, one of perception.  Who is unionized in this country?  The image (somewhat based in reality) is that professionals are not unionized.  Does, then, the idea that some teachers are unionized undermine the image of teachers as professionals?  And does that lessen the respect we pay teachers?  I think the lack of respect for teachers is appalling. What can be done to raise that level of respect?

    We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

    by plf515 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:24:56 AM PDT

    •  Doctors in NJ tried to unionize in the 90's (4+ / 0-)

      because they felt the HMO's were screwing them and that they were in effect becoming their employees. The courts disallowed it.

      •  If they were not in fact employees (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, leftangler

        then starting a "union" of private practitioners would be akin to forming a sort of cartel or price-fixing conspiracy which would violate anti-trust laws...but if the doc's were hospital employees like nurses I'm sure they would be allowed to unionize.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:36:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  OFten doctors are not employees of hospitals (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Daddy Bartholomew

          which have learned to organize things so that they do not practice medicine and thus have some additional protection against liability suits.  Thus when I was recently treated in the emergency room at Arlington Hospital, two blocks from where I live, I was officially treated by an outside emergency medical practice contracted to provide those services by the hospital.

          If you do that with each medical specialty in a large hospital, then each contracted group has a relatively small number of employees which can make organizing a union actually more difficult.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:11:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not saying it's fair, (0+ / 0-)

            just that's how the law applies. I would definitely be in favor of organizing healthcare in a different way...for the benefit of doctors and patients alike.

            "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

            by Alice in Florida on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:40:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  let me address both (15+ / 0-)
      1.  Many of us in the teaching profession have b een arguing for rethinking the process of getting and retaining teachers.  That starts with who is selected, what kind of training is given, how they are hired, supervised, mentored, etc.  The problem is that current system is very profitable for a lot of universities, and so far the nation - or rather the states collectively - has been unwilling to make the financial commitment to better preparation of teachers, and in many cases, to paying sufficient money either to initially draw or later to retain quality teachdres. Add to that the continuing denigration of teaching and we discourage many who might otherwise be willing to teach.
      1.  Let's make an important distinction.  Teachers used to make when they started near the median of those graduating with bachelor's degrees.  Now teachers with ten years experience and a master make less than about 2/3 of those starting out in other fields with a bachelors.  Absent unions, it might be much worse.

         Also, most other professionals do not work for large public organizations -  doctors, dentists, laywers and engineers are far more likely to work in the private sector, where there is more than one employer (I will talk about different school districts anon) and some meaningful competition.  They are not locked into contracts that limit their ability to move.
       Yes, in a metropolitan area a teacher may be able to apply to multiple districts, although remember that many large metro areas, like the ones in which both you and I live, are multi-state (and for this discussion DC is equal to a state), each of which has separate licensure requirements.  You might not be able to move across a state line if their is no reciprocity of licensure (which is why I used to hold separate licenses in DC and VA as well as MD where I teach).  But then we come into contract rules.  In  the DC metro area, if you are a tenured teacher you often have until July 1 or July 15 to inform your school you are not coming back.  My date is July 15.  One year, more than a decade ago, a school in Northern Virginia, in Fairfax County, wanted to hire me.  But no outside hire could be done until certain things were resolved in the district.  I was going to be hired to replace someone being promoted to Assistant Principal.  But he did not receive his promotion officially until July 12, which means the notice was not officially posted until several days later, by which time, with an intervening weekend it was past July 15.
       If I resign after that date and leave education, it makes no difference.  I cannot move to another Maryland district after that date, because were I do leave for another school position my Maryland certification is cancelled.  
        Further, many districts are for some reason forbidden to hire from outside and pay for more than 10 years experience, which discourages experienced teachers from moving.
        Finally, the pension rules are different state to state.  One cannot directly transfer funds for example from the Maryland retirement system to the Virginia system.  Yes, one can in some cases take it out and role it into a 403B,but the return on that is often less than what one would have received from being in the public plan.

      As to raising the level of respect for teachers, we could start by listening to them.  I am fortunate - I have been able to have my voice heard by some.  Through what I have done here I have been able to get into the door to talk with policy makers.  The award I won last spring has opened more doors, both with the district administration and with our local school board.

      We systematically exclude teachers from full participation in the discussions shaping policy.  In some districts you can be fired for writing/speaking publicly about educational policies with which you disagree.  

      We can start by truly valuing public education, and recognize that meaningful reform will not occur without a wtable corps of talented and committed teachers.  Our current educational policies are serving as an obstacle to having that corps of teachers.  Maybe, just maybe, instead of listening to the think tank types and the policy wonks exclusively, we should be actively seeking the input of active or recently retired educators.  Having one or two dozen teacher ambassadors at the Department of education is a start, but it is insufficient.  

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:08:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent response; I have one point (6+ / 0-)

        to discuss further

        you write

        As to raising the level of respect for teachers, we could start by listening to them.

        I am all in favor of listening to teachers, but I think this gets the cart and horse reversed.  We listen to people whom we respect.  

        There are two problems with trying to foster respect for teachers by listening to them:

        First, since we generally do NOT respect teachers, it is easy to ridicule what they say, especially when it contrary to popular views; or to the facts most simply viewed.  In addition, the forces allied against what some teachers are saying are mighty.

        Second, in the nature of the media, what gets attention is when teachers say something wacky; and, of course, some teachers do say some wacky things.  

        I don't have an easy solution here; I think a lot of respect for teachers is culturally based, and that some cultures value education and teaching more than others.  How to change that?  I don't know.

        We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

        by plf515 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:18:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  a brief additional response (10+ / 0-)

          as a result of my award, I have political types saying how much they respect what I do.  Which is nice, but then I ask if they are willing to listen to what I have to say.  So far I am getting enough positive responses that it makes asking worthwhile.

          What matters more is the respect I get from students and their parents.  Let me describe one such setting.   A batch of teachers and students were being honored by the Prince George's County Council.  The chairman is someone whose son I taught twice (and with whom I am still in occasional contact) as well as coached, and also his daughter.  He started his remarks by saying "This award is special" and explained a bit of why.

          There are several reasons why I am outspoken.  The respect of my students and parents gives me an opening.  The award gives me more of an opening.  Not having children of my own I have some time to take on this burden -  it is time-consuming.  And others have, throughout my life even before I became a teacher, often asked me to speak/write on their behalf, because they think I will be more effective than will they.   I will encourage them to speak for themselves, but if the issue about which they are concerned is of value, then I may well do as they request.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:05:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This comment was very helpful... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        miss SPED

        ...in understanding some of the core issues in our education system which apparently (suprise, surprise) values profits more than people.

        Thanks for everything you contribute to this community, Ken.

  •  I will get up tomorrow morning (20+ / 0-)

    and love and teach my new crop of students no matter what the Secretary or the President says or does.  

    I am more than an Excel spreadsheet of scores and codes.

    •  I'm actually depressed (19+ / 0-)

      about going back. I taught ten years in the inner city, did a year as a social worker in the Newark Juv detention center ( under the insane Joe Clark of Lean On Me fame )after getting my MSW and then went to a large suburban ( well formerly suburban ) district as part of a child study team. The job has become so onerous, and will be worse now with Christie's cuts, that I can see no way to do this job. The caseloads are too big ( 75 + )the IEP's are too big ( 40+ pages ) the litigation is too much ( we are always being sued )the administrators are overbearing ( they see us as a way to get kids off their roles, though money for out of district placements, along with the team that serviced those kids, has been cut ) I have no office as my building, condemned for children, is being sold off to raise money, and the supporting secretaries who do copying ( each teacher and support person, the guidance dept, the county, the district, the parent, and eanyone else involved with the kid, gets a copy of the IEP; trust me, it's a lot of work )have been cut. The boss just quit to take a pay cut somewhere else after 32 years; the new one is threatening to withold pay increments for those of us who make mistakes on IEP's ( and all of us do because we are pressed to get them done while also responding to numerous threatening behaviors )and while I make a good salary for a social worker ( paid a little more than teachers due to longer work hours and year )that too is under attack, and no one remembers the 18 k I made back in 1988 or the 35 k I made in 1999. And with all this, at least a few parents will be pissed that I can't really get to know my kids anymore, because it is all about the paperwork.

      •  OMG, you been through the wringer. Joe Clark (9+ / 0-)

        and now Chris Christie. My sympathy. Maybe you'll get your reward in heaven.                                

        My most memorable Newark experience: getting caught in the 1967 riots while paving parking lots for a summer job. I was 17, a Westchester County, N.Y., prep-school kid. Most of our crew were black guys, some of whom were from Newark. There was frequent gunfire and stores were being looted and set ablaze right down the street from us. It looked like a war movie over there. Our insane foreman (a white guy WW2 combat vet who wasn't scared of anything) insisted we stay and finish the job. The black guys all disagreed. The eldest calmly told the foreman, "You see any cops stopping this? No. You won't either, because they're afraid to get near it. We stay here, we're all liable to get killed."  We left and didn't go back there for three-and-a-half weeks. It took the National Guard to restore order.

        Newark, N.J., is a trip.

        As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he ever were to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it. --Bulwer-Lytton Contest entry

        by Wom Bat on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:37:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes, it was the critical time in NJ (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ER Doc, miss SPED

          that began the movement of North Jersey whites to Ocean County NJ...as Joe McGinnis wrote, whites got on the Garden State Parkway and kept driving south until they didn't see any black faces, and that was the exit for Toms River, NJ ( now fielding a team in the little league world series ) even now when I go down the shore areas for one reason or another ( I still have friends from a stint teaching in Ocean County in the late 80's )I am struck by the Newark connection there.

  •  I do remedial teaching (one-on-one) ... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfgb, blueoasis, ER Doc, karmsy, miss SPED

    ... in my neighborhood.  Of course, one-on-one is sooo much easier than to teach a class.

    On the other hand, pupils come to me because they don't do well in school; often it is possible (because of the extra attention to their problems) to increase their performance by one or two points (on a scale from 1 to 10, as is the case in the Netherlands).

    I always refer them back to their teacher and never talk down on him/her.  Sometimes, however, you get the impression from the child that they have been abandoned (given up on) by their teacher.

    As far as teachers' unions go - I have the impression that the disdain expressed towards them is simply due to the disdain for unions, period, that is so endemic to the United States.

    And, to conclude, what's wrong about paying a decent salary to people who have a difficult job (dealing daily with classes of 30 adolescents - not counting the difficulty of teaching valuable knowledge like mathematics and physics, in my case) is beyond me.

  •  This is the teacher side of the argument... (0+ / 0-)

    And rarely do they see the world from the perspective of the parents of their students. In fact, they are frequently disrespectful of parents and blame their own teaching inadequacies on the parents.

    Ken has still never addressed what should happen to a school which has been failing a community for 40 years. He simply wants those teachers protected and the public school maintained.

    I call bullshit on a lot of this.

    •  I call bullshit on your comment (20+ / 0-)

      and to make the mirror image complete, I'll not include any specific points of substance either.

    •  well, it isn't bullshit. (18+ / 0-)

      having worked in a one of those schools, i can tell you the number of those parents who gave a shit was pretty low, and that didn't help matters at all. I used to see five or six parents on back to school night out of 150 kids...some were working two jobs but quite a few were right across the street in the public housing project. i make no judgement as to why they could not walk across the street ( we didn't mind if they brought their kids with them if they had no babysitter )but they chose not to.  The school has been a failing school at least since test scores began; we don't know how it would have fared in the 40's 50 or 60's when Italians,Irish, Poles, Jews and others made up the demographic, because there were no such tests then. But I do know this. No one fires the doctors at Sloan Kettering who treat incurable cancers, despite the fact that there has bee no progress at all for quite a few of the diseases. in fact, they continue to be paid quite well.

      •  Some communities don't value education (8+ / 0-)

        Where I taught high school, we had a large transient population.  A huge number of parents wouldn't bother to enroll their children until the first day of classes.  As a result the beginning of the school year was always a turmoil with students being transferred in and out of class as counselors played musical chairs with students, trying to fit everyone into a class schedule.  Because of this situation our contract specified that there was no limit on class size for the first two months of the school year.  Several times I started out the year with sixty five students in my classroom.  Imagine trying to establish a new classroom atmosphere with sixty five ninth graders in one room.  One year, the day before the two month deadline was up the class number was down to forty five.  For the rest of the year the class would be at thirty six.  Unless you've been in the classroom you don't have a clue what's going on.

        •  i have been in the classroom (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tobendaro

          and I have seen schools who can retain and educate students whose parents are not involved. i have also seen teachers who have no business in the profession. i know that pointing the finger at parents is easy and you can easily convince others that they are to blame. there is some racism involved in that, but it is an effective way to wash yourself of blame.

          i know what is happening and i have seen how poorly most public schools deal with the reality. i think that ed schools need to take a lot of the blame, failing to address how to deal with urban environments. ed schools are an embarrassment to this country.

        •  In some cases they couldn't enroll them (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ER Doc

          One district in which I worked would not allow students to register without proof of a permanent residence. For transient (or in my case, migrant families who followed the harvest), they moved from hotel to hotel or stayed with family members. Proof included a utility bill. To say nothing of the 20% or more of students who were HOMELESS.

          Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

          by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:39:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  40 years of failure = societal collapse (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, ladybug53, laurnj

      Yes, there are schools which have not succeeded.  These schools are filled with the children of single mothers who live in poverty. Why do you blame the teachers for the failures of these parents?

      I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

      by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:18:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and when you blame parents... (0+ / 0-)

        you probably shouldn't expect them to come to the school and be happy about teachers and administrators already pre-judging them... and they are an easy scapegoat for teachers who can't find a way to reach kids...

        •  You obviously know nothing about teaching (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ivan, 3goldens, leftangler

          It's astonishing to read such ignorance as you demonstrate.

          I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

          by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:12:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  well, the same way doctors blame patients (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ivan, sfgb, slatsg

          who smoke, eat, or drink too much. They should stop whining and find a way to cure the illnesses, right?

          •  yes... (0+ / 0-)

            demonizing urban parents is a wonderful way to change education. you are on to something.

            •  sounds like you are the one demonizing, my friend (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              laurnj

              why not share with us what bad experience you have had? post a diary on it. I do not say this with rancor; but it is clear that something has soured you on teachers. What is it?

            •  and my doctor analogy (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sfgb, 3goldens, blueoasis, laurnj

              was meant to show that it is unproductive to blame the "patient" but i guess failed to convey this....but a lack of parent involvement EXPLAINS a lot, and if you had any knowledge of educational research, i'd expect you to know that.

              •  why do you defend a profession... (0+ / 0-)

                that never wants to ever be accountable... and you seem to blame minority parents for educational shortcomings in the country... you sure you aren't secretly a tea bagger?

                •  You are a racist (5+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ivan, 3goldens, blueoasis, eigenlambda, laurnj

                  You assume that "poor" equals minority.

                  That is a disgusting racist assumption.

                  I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

                  by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:32:05 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  yes... (0+ / 0-)

                    i know the code words people use when they blame parents.... i hear the dog whistle...

                    •  It's unusual to ADMIT to racism as you did (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      laurnj

                      I'd re-evaluate my own horrible, disgusting prejudices, if I were you.  Thank god I'm not.

                      I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

                      by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:37:30 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  not all poor people are minorities (0+ / 0-)

                      there are lots of white children being failed by the terrible state of public schools in America.  We need to act together, white, black, yellow, red, brown, everyone to fix it, because this is our collective future as a nation on the line.

                      To do it, we need to listen to the teachers, because they are the ones with first-hand experience with the problems.

                      •  poor whites in ethnic parts of inner cities (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        miss SPED

                        lot of poor whites in rural parts of this country.  I saw a lot of the former in Philadelphia when I was based there -  1971 when I returned to Haverford at age 25 to finish up until 1982 when I moved to the DC area.

                        As for rural poor whites, the vast majority of those we have treated at the free dental events at which I have volunteered in Wise, Grundy and Roanoke were white.  In Roanoke we had a few Asian-Americans (including three Hmong men who spoke no English), and perhaps 10% African-American or Hispanic.  In Wise and Grundy it was over 95% White.   Of course at the one event in Northern Virginia, it was much more diverse.  The two students who volunteered with me were using their translating skills constantly, the boy in Spanish the girl in Farsi.

                        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                        by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:32:42 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                •  actually.... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  laurnj

                  a lot of the kids were white....not all...but many. I'm married to a " minority" from that very community. Better not tell my brown kids about this...

                •  maybe it's because we know what we are (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  3goldens, aliasalias, laurnj

                  talking about? You want to characterize a profession as beaten up on as educators  are as unaccountable? You can't see them for the obvious scapegoats they really are? The teachers are in some of these rough communities doing what they can; because many people don't want to teach in some of these places, the schools have to resort to emergency certifications and one hit wonders like Teach For America just to get enough staff, even in times like these. Can we give the teachers some credit for a least trying? What do you think, they are going to school and refusing to teach the kids? Be reasonable, now.

                •  we are accountable every day (13+ / 0-)

                  we have administrators who supervise and evaluate us, if they are doing their jobs.

                  We have the parents whose children are entrusted to our care.

                  We have the children before us.

                  The scores on tests are not necessarily particularly good indicators of how well we are serving them.  Please note -  I have a superb record on test scores, but that does not necessarily make me a better teacher.  I have had some very bright students totally bomb the AP test because they will not listen to me about what they need to do to be successful on it.  Yet if you explore what they have learned about government and politics by talking with them, by looking at the products they can produce when I give them free rein on projects, or by how they perform after they leave my class using the skills they have in part honed in my class, you would scratch your head and wonder how they did so poorly on that test.

                  Tests such as those on which we rely are often unreliable (which means inconsistent) indicators of what a student knows or can do, even though their purpose is to measure just that.  Absent that, you have no meaningful data upon which to draw any conclusions of that teachers' effectiveness.

                  Let me explain the concepts of reliability and validity.  Reliability is consistency.  It is not necessarily accuracy.  If every time I get on a scale at home it measures my weight as 150, it is consistent.  That makes it reliable.  I certainly could not use a scale that I get on now, it says 150, I step off, get back on and now it says 167, I repeat the process and it says 141.  

                  Validity involves accuracy.  Technically a reliable test is required in order to allow you to draw valid inferences, but it can be reliable and still not allow valid inferences.  If that scale is consistently measuring my weight at 150 when my actual weight is 190, how many accurate inferences can be drawn.

                  One problem with a lot of our current testing is that they are not all that reliable.  Even those that are, which might allow you for example to draw a valid conclusion about what a student knows about a particular subject does not in anyway mean you can draw inferences about what he he has learned in my class.  After all, he (a) could have arrived with that knowledge, (b) learned it from activities outside of my class, or even (c) learned despite the fact that I am a horrible teacher, because merely by doing the reading he has expanded his knowledge.

                  Our complaint is not with accountability, it is with relying upon indicators that do not properly reflect what is we do and what we accomplish with our students.

                  One last point.  Increasingly some have argued that teachers should be required to follow rigid pacing guides, teach mandatory lessons, etc.  If after that you are not happy with the results, is it the fault of the teacher, or might it just be that in mandating as you did you took away from the teacher the flexibility to make the material meaningful for the student?  Might it not be as much the rigid pacing and structured lessons that do not connect with the student that are responsible for the results with which you are unhappy?

                  "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                  by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:19:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  well, as i pointed out (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, laurnj, numberzguy

          I made no judgement about why these parents refused to come to the school for open house, even though it was only across the street from where most of them lived. I will leave that judgement to others.

    •  Four parts of failing. (10+ / 0-)

      It is not just the school.

      1. School.
      1. Teachers.
      1. Parents.
      1. Community.

      Each plays a role in making success or failure. In the Bronx I could not get phone numbers for my parents (the school admins failed to be organized since they were constantly being moved around making new charter schools) -- when I did get the numbers I could not get the parents to come in and talk to me. NYC isn't very good at managing the schools that serve poor students. (though they do a good job for rich students) -- lastly, with two years of experience I was the "most senior" math teacher in the school. All of the teachers were new and new teachers just don't know how to teach as well. (we tried but failed)

      Just saying "the schools failed" is only one portion of the problem.

      •  I would order that list differently (6+ / 0-)

        Reverse order would be more accurate. Or maybe this:

        1. Parents
        1. Community
        1. Teachers
        1. Schools

        Children who succeed in school almost always have parents who are well-educated and/or who put a high priority on education. Children who fail almost always have parents who are poorly educated/illiterate and don't believe in the benefits of education or their own or their children's ability to learn.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:44:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't have an order in mind. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens, laurnj

          In my mind, they all play a significant role. Though, the wealth and stability of parents is quite important. If we can get families on their feet more young people will succeed.

          I wonder how well grades correlate with parental unemployment?

      •  I saw math teachers walk after one class... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        laurnj

        gone before lunch. And they would be asked if they wanted to try a different school even after abandoning the post. In 1988, even in a small run down urban Catholic school, I remember asking the kids to go home and cut out a news article. imagine my surprise when no one in the class got the newspaper...long before the internet and all that, papers were something everyone usually got. And these were kids whose parents were paying tuition....

      •  you may want to add (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        futurebird

        ed schools and institutional racism. oh, and low expectations.

      •  you have left something out (12+ / 0-)

        and it is of critical importance at the high school level.

        That is students.  Sometimes they fail themselves.  even when given multiple chances.  Even when offered support.

        And if they don't show up to my class, I am supposed to stop everything else I do and play truant cop?  

        We have students whose parents will sign an excuse note for them any time they do not want to come to school.  If the parents when asked says s/he wrote the note and the excuse offered is one accepted by the state, we have to accept it.  So a student misses an average of more than 1 day / week, and when that student fails, it is the fault of the teacher(s) and the school?

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:32:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you bet. I bend into pretzel shapes (0+ / 0-)

          to help some of these kids get a diploma. maybe some don't really deserve it, ok a lot of them don't, but if I have a kid who is mentally ill and is more likely to end up on the street without a diploma, then Ken, I am filling in the passing grades and waiving some credits. Not every time: but when circumstances call for it, I do it.

    •  I will also call bullshit (13+ / 0-)

      given how much I have written about how the fundamental structure of our schools is wrong, about how the teaching profession needs to be changed -  I have run panels on this at Yearlykos conventions, in 2006 and 2007.

      I have served as a union shop stewart -  building rep - for my school before, and will be doing so this year.  I know from that experience that tenured teachers can be dismissed, but that the administration must follow its rules, just like police and prosecutors must follow rules to obtain a criminal conviction.

      I have counseled people out of teaching.  

      I have talked about involving teachers in helping improve the quality of teachers we have.

      I am all for parent involvement, which is why every year I have taught I have called all my parents in the first few weeks, and will again starting Tuesday Night,  taking a break on Saturday as we belatedly celebrate the 80th birthday of my F-I-L, which will require me to take an additional five hours of driving.  

      You paint with broad brushes about teachers exactly as you claim teachers use broad brushes towards parents.  Are there teachers like that?  Yep. Are their parents who are a large part of the problem -  ah, the stories I could tell.  In either case are we talking about a majority  Nope.  But let me tell you that if I have 5% of my parents - which would be around 10 families -  who are either not doing their jobs or attempting to interfere in ways that are not within their purview, the amount of time spent dealing with those situations, both by me and the administration, begins to impact what we can do for our other kids.  

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:19:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ken, those 5 percent are the reason (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, hlsmlane, miss SPED, marleycat

        the schools keep people like me around; they typically are involved in other broad social services as well; sometimes it is mind boggling the number of working adults who are servicing one child; teachers, guidance, social workers, psychologists, the courts and their ancilliary services, social security, dept of labor, commission for the blind, deaf services, the list goes on....you know, I had deaf students who needed periodic reevaluation ( as is their right by IDEA law ) and yet their is only one evaluation team in the state of NJ that can conduct evaluations in sign language. It took a year or more, for which we the school district, and myself, were cited for being out of compliance with state and federal law; even tho the state was conducting the tests!

        •  and it points out why we cannot look at schools (5+ / 0-)

          in isolation.  We should be passionate and knowledgeable about the subjects we teach.  I would suggest that both adjectives apply to me  But then we have to address the student before us, who may have other issues that are not instructional but which impact their learning.  Schools have to recognize and be prepared, as much as they can, to address those.  There is only so much I can do for one child in class with 30 or so others.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:24:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  One more comment - (15+ / 0-)

      there is a significant problem, with more than 5% of the families, of parents who are not realistic.   They claim their child can never do any wrong, that it therefore has to be the fault of the teachers.  If we are in a conference with all 7 of the child's teachers and all seven are reporting the same pattern, it has to be because we conspired.   Somehow these parents have forgotten that their little darlings do not always act as they should or always tell the full truth.  It is part of adolescence for many of them.

      I will offer two examples,  In the first, a couple was being informed about why their child was being assigned to detention -  he kept getting into confrontations and provoking fights, despite having been counseled that if he had a problem to let an adult help mediate the conflict.  I walked out the building at the same time as the parents and I heard the mother say "I'm pulling my son out of this school.  I'm not going to let them turn him into a pussy."

      The other occurred in a middle school setting.  The mother had been called in because of a serious problem with the son.  Once the conference began, the female art teacher began by speaking.  The order will be art teacher, mother, student.  It is verbatim.

      Art teacher - "Your son called me a stinking cunt."

      Mother -  "I can't believe you said that."

      Student - "I don't know why, you bitch.  I call you worse than that at home."

      Please explain to me how either of the situations just described is the fault of teachers blaming the parents?

      Fortunately, most of our parents are supportive, Just like most of our kids are good kids.  The others suck up a lot of time and energy.  That's the reality.

      And as one who works hard at building and maintaining contact with parents because I know we are sharing a responsibility, I strongly resent your painting with the broad brush that you do.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:27:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  you just desribed much of my caseload! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, sfgb, sessal, miss SPED
      •  I see this, too. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sessal, blueoasis

        And I worry about what happens to that kid when he meets the real world. . .

        "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way" Juan Ramon Jimnez

        by Teiresias70 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:17:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I had a student threaten to smash our very heavy (4+ / 0-)

        hardcover texts book in my face. He was serious. I sent him to the House Administrator, explaining what happened, and you know what? The HA  sent him BACK to my classroom, where he gloated that nothing was going to happen to him.

        I worked with another teacher who would never meet with students unless there was another adult present. Why, because she'd had a conference with a mom, and the mom took off her belt and went after the kid in front of her.

        My mentor left the classroom after one of her students picked up a chair and slammed it down on her head, breaking her check, orbital bone, and knocking out several teeth. The kid's parent wanted to know what [she--my mentor] did to make the son hit her with the chair.

        I offer these examples, not to excuse teachers from their responsibility to teach and mentor students. I offer them to provide more context. Teaching is a transactional process. Teachers and students are involved.

        Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

        by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:53:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I once had to physically restrain a parent (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          miss SPED

          who started slapping his son in the midst of our guidance office.  I left it up to the guidance department to take the appropriate action, but a report to child protective services was mandatory in that case.

          I have seen children with spiral fractures of arm bones -  you can imagine how that come about.

          But I have also seen children whom parents cannot control.  I remember one eigth grader when I called his mom he ran away -  he would show up at school, but he was breaking into model homes and living there on his own.  He got way with it for almost 3 weeks.  He unfortunately was spiraling down and as soon as he turned 18 he was headed to the state penitentiary at Jessup.  No one could reach him - not his family, not his peers, and certainly not those of us in school.  We all tried.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:36:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  These stories are far more prevalent (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            teacherken, miss SPED

            than I think people understand. And such behaviors are not limited to one type of community, group or people, state, or political party. And in some cases, no matter what we do, it's simply not enough.

            Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

            by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:07:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  agreed that is not limited to one type (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              miss SPED

              of community.  I see different kinds of abuse in some upper middle class families.  Heck, I could do ten thousand words easily about some of the more egregious things I have encountered with parents and students over my 15 years in public school classrooms.

              I also would have my fair share of stories about educators - teachers and administrators - who did not belong around kids. I have actually been fairly fortunate in the principals for whom I worked, and even in most cases the assistant principals directly responsible for me.  In fact, two days ago (Friday) I ran into the woman who supervised me the one year I taught in an Arlington middle school - at the end of that year the principal retired and she succeeded her.  This is only the 3rd time I have seen her since then.  Each time when she recognizes me, her face lights up and we wind up exchanging hugs - for which she has to bend down to my 5'10 since she is about 6'3 in her bare feet   :-)

              That middle school was largely upper middle class, or even wealthier in a few cases.  Most of our kids came from the zip code with the highest average family income in the county.  I could tell horror stories of a few families. That includes kids being used nastily in divorce - the most heartbreaking case I have encountered, where neither parent wanted the kid, and she knew it.  You can imagine the impact that was having on her school performance.

              "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

              by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:10:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Shut up, you right-wing troll (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      numberzguy

      Nobody is blaming parents, and nobody is shifting blame for inadequate teachers.

      "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

      by Ivan on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:48:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When does "reform" (i.e. standardized testing, (12+ / 0-)

    NCLB, punishing schools for not doing well instead of helping them to do well, etc...) cease being "reform" and start being "status quo?" How many decades do we have to wait, and students plowed under, before these things are exposed for the tepid if not failures they are?

    And when do real reforms, like medical model teacher preparation and residencies, social and emotional learning (ala CASEL and HR #4223), realistic teacher salaries, and equity-based funding of schools begin to be considered "reforms" instead of being mislabeled by those in power and leadership as "anti-reform, pro-status quo canards?"

    No wonder there are so many problems when even the base vocabulary used to discuss the topic is so...upside down.

    "Fear paralyzes. Curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid." -Patricia Alexander

    by Caractacus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:31:42 AM PDT

    •  I made exactly this point yesterday (6+ / 0-)

      in a response to a comment on a blog post.  The post was by someone nationally known in education.  The comment to which i was responding was by someone else as well known.  

      It goes back well before NCLB.  The approach has been the norm since the mid-1980s, when the framework of the conversation was created by A Nation at Risk, even though the executive summary (which is all most read) was not fully supported by the contents.  

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:35:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I asked this question to a DOE liaison (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Caractacus

      in a RTTT meeting: how long do we give an approach before we decide it is not working?
      The answer: Well, you only have the money for 4 years.

      And this guy is supposed to be a leader. No education experience, mind you, but he will show us the way to "do things right."

      "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way" Juan Ramon Jimnez

      by Teiresias70 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:21:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  education reform as generally presented (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, orlbucfan, Caractacus

      these days appears to be a scam for which a lot of good people have fallen; and a lot of opportunistic pols have seized on in order to throw something at the wall and hope it sticks.  I am sorry to say that it is not unlike the scam of diverting federal funds from legitimate agencies to unproved "faith based" agencies during the Bush  administration; not to mention efforts to privatize social security.

      From this distance, it appears to me that all, albeit different in many respects, share one thing in common: They are all long term efforts whose main effect is not the improvement of services, but the peeling away government services, reducing public accountability, and diverting public capital. Union busting is one part of that wider agenda.

      I say this as someone who, like Ken, is all in favor of change where appropriate and even some serious experimentation.  But there is no evidence that school privatization schemes, high stakes testing, and other pillars of the reform movement have done any good.

  •  Political effects (4+ / 0-)

    Ken:

    Can you address the political effects of these teacher assaults?  Traditionally, the teachers unions have been strong proponents of Democratic politicians, policies, and ideas.

    Where do you see the political fallout going?

    What I see is a huge loss of confidence in Democratic ideas, issues, and politicians.  This is going to have dire consequences for the Democratic Party.

    Am I wrong?

    I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

    by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:34:24 AM PDT

    •  Or the other way around (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akeitz, blueoasis, laurnj

      Loss of confidence in Democratic ideas leads to attacks on teacher's unions (and government employees in general)...

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:46:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  well, ask Jon Corzine (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akeitz, laurnj, numberzguy

      what happens when Dem voting blocks become discouraged...tho he was a guy who tried to fund education...

      •  Obama is base-bashing (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sfgb, cassidy3, blueoasis

        I simply fail to understand where he is going with this.  What is the point of crushing the hopes of your base?

        I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

        by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:54:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "ask Jon Corzine" (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sfgb, blueoasis, marleycat, peregrine kate

        He increased total funding for education by over $1.8 billion from 2006-2009.

        Christie didn't want to take federal money for public education if he had to distribute it fairly. So he didn't accept it. Then he said there had to be cuts in public education in NJ because there was no money (duh). Then a bunch of teachers and other public education workers got laid off or were forced into retirement, as Christie went after the contracts and pensions. Including in districts that went heavily for Christie in the 2009 elections.

        So now that Christie is asking for federal money for NJ's public schools, where do we think most of that money will go?

        With Corzine, we had someone who made a huge difference--in a constructive way--for NJ's public school students, because he takes education very seriously.

        With Christie, we now have someone who will restrict access to quality public education to those whose parents are able to afford to pay for it, which is antithetical to the democratic ideal of having a well-educated citizenry.

        •  didn't say Corzine was wrong on the issues (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis

          only that his base stayed home. And they did. Christie won with 49 %. By the way Corzine wasn't all peaches and cream; Lucille Davies was terrible, and pushed for privitization plans the led to many districts being forced to jettison cafeteria workers. like Christie, Corzine's administration wanted to reduce special ed services, but a strong protest by the NJEA, the NJ assoc of school social workers and SPAN ( statewide parental action network...maybe a bit off here )led to the dropping of those proposals. We are of course right back there again with Schundler and Co.

        •  Christie cut 1.3 billion (0+ / 0-)

          from general public ed, and diverted some of that money to a special vouchers program. He originally said he would take the emergency funding that was just approved because he wouldn't be able to spend it the way he wants.

          I would no be the least bit surprised if he cuts funds more, then accepts the money to replace those funds, and then never replaces that cut, saying that it was money from the fed to help out as a one-shot deal.

          Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

          by Edubabbler on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:58:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  it depends where you are and what other issues (6+ / 0-)

      are weighing on the minds of people.

      I cannot easily address your question in one comment, even in one of my longer ones.  

      Let me offer several bits of information, albeit only anecdotal.  I will not claim they represent universals.

      When Diane Ravitch has gone around promoting her book, her strongest support has been from teachers.

      There are increasing efforts by teachers to organize and push back.  It was teachers first organizing themselves and then recruiting parents that got a sufficient mass to push back that cause Charlie Crist to decide to veto SB6 in Florida.  When my friend Anthony Cody started his effort on Teacher Letters to Obama he did not realize how quickly it would mushroom into a group of several thousand nationwide.

      I don't think we know yet how this will play out.  

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:39:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Marcus speaks, as usual, for the status-quo (6+ / 0-)

    ...as does the WaPo in general. At any rate, Ken, the pundits don't like long letters and they particularly don't take time out to think out policy issues that's not their job. Their job is to promote the views of whatever client constituency they represent. Columnists for the Post at least (not the NYT as much) represent various Washington factions within ruling circles. I haven't read enough of Marcus to know what specific faction she represents but she seems, in general, to be a spokesperson for the Washington Consensus. She's just too boring for me to read unlike columnists I respect but disagree with profoundly (Ignatius, Will).

    I used to get responses from columnists but I don't anymore--the sheer volume of response is too much for them. I think they increasingly lead a very rarefied life among their peers and constituencies (they are, at the Post, all politicians).

    •  sorry, but I have had at least acknowledments (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfgb, Mehitabel9, hlsmlane, miss SPED

      in most cases when I have contacted someone.  I don't accept that she could not simply have responded that she had received and read my letter and thanked me for taking the time to contact her.  That would have been gracious.  It would have demonstrated some minimal courtesy.

      And given the bona fides I offered, which were easy enough for her to check, I think I might be entitled ot a bit more than a mere acknowledgment.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:41:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Disagree (0+ / 0-)

        You sent in a letter.

        You are "owed" nothing. Forgive me if that sounds truculent. It is meant only as an observation from someone who has contacted many, many pundits and authors both personally and professionally.

        Sometimes, you get a response. Sometimes, the responses are thoughtful and appreciative - and I'll bet those are the ones you like to receive. I like to get those too.

        But under no circumstances do I expect a reply. Particularly with national writers, I do assume they get a great many unsolicited contributions. It doesn't matter if you think your letter is good, or long, or well researched, etc. You chose to write it, you chose to send it. You shouldn't think that this now obligates Marcus in some way, such that her failure to adequately satisfy you now deserves retribution.

        Lighten up.

        Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

        by The Raven on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:06:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  sorry, but I requested an acknowledgment (0+ / 0-)

          in 2nd email.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:42:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How does that change anything? (0+ / 0-)

            You can't make demands on a busy journalist who may receive over 1,000 letters a day. Saying you want an acknowledgement doesn't change any of the factors involved.

            Like I said, it's a pleasant surprise when you get replies from people you contact, but if they did not contact you first and request your thoughts, then they are under no obligation to spend time in correspondence with you.

            Having held down a number of desks where unsolicited mail comes in, I've found that it's a good policy to answer queries and comments. Sometimes you can't.  

            Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

            by The Raven on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:51:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  you chose to ignore several relevant facts (0+ / 0-)

              so you have made up your mind.  Let's just say that I have had a number of people in a position to comment somewhat authoritatively agree that she should have acknowledged that I probably was owed at least an acknowledgment of the receipt of the later, especially after the last email.

              "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

              by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:58:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  interested if you saw Kevin Drum's piece on.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfgb, tobendaro, blueoasis

    ....U-shaped learning.  It references this paper (PDF) by Paul J. Camp.

    If the U-shape learning theory has any validity (and just from observing my own young children and their developmental patterns, it certainly passes the initial "smell test"), then the use of standardized tests to evaluate teacher performance is obscenely idiotic.

    Our national education discourse is about as informed as our national climate discourse - maybe less so.  I pretty much expect Obama to come out at this point and make schools follow Six Sigma methodologies.  Damn shame, and a huge missed opportunity to bring real change and reform to this country's most important infrastructure.

    The bear and the rabbit will never agree on how dangerous a dog is.

    by fromer on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:53:27 AM PDT

    •  I saw the piece (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      antirove

      it has a different set of problems, but we have already gone of on one tangent in the discussion of the LA Times piece.  If you think the Drum piece is worthy of discussion, create a diary which discusses it.  If you send me a link, I will look at it when I can, and if I deem it appropriate offer my own comments.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:42:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A contractual agreement......... (6+ / 0-)

    .........that sets up periodic negotiations between teacher professionals and administrator professionals helps more than hinders a district's ability to provide the best education to all students. Many teacher unions call themselves "Associations" rather than "union" because of the word union. Union has a more working (lower) class connotation. But if you stop and think about the use of contracts in the professional sector, don't bankers and law firms and athletic franchises and multinational companies etc. all negotiate terms and conditions and sign contracts as part of their professional lives?

    Teacher unions are not separate from teachers. Union bashing is teacher bashing. It is not productive and it is not a solution. The Obama administration is abysmal in its approach to education reform and I never fail to let the people from the DNC, or any of the democrat organizations calling for money, know why I look very carefully at where I will send my hard earned money at election time. Democrats have not been better than Republicans in their support of the rights of people to collectively negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment. Here in NY state we have strong teacher associations. Our children benefit from having teachers who have a voice.

    Infidels in all ages have battled for the rights of man, and have at all times been the advocates of truth and justice... Robert Ingersol

    by BMarshall on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:54:15 AM PDT

  •  I love your diaries Ken,... (0+ / 0-)

    ...and usually share your perspective but your reactions (this is not your first diary on the subject) to public criticism of teachers' unions gives me a bad feeling.

    I was stunned to find this statement buried in your letter:

    The real issue is ultimately this -  what this administration is doing will do more damage to public education than was done in the 8 years of the previous administration.

    Maybe I am missing something but your arguments against Duncan and the current administration's approach seem to be verging on an ad hominem attack.  Do you have something aginst Duncan personally?

    More to the point, can you be more specific about a) what Duncan is doing that you so dislike and b) what the administration in general is doing that could possibly justify the statement that I have quoted above?

    Thanks in peace.  

    •  because the reforms they espouse (20+ / 0-)

      are coming from wealthy factions that view their own ideas as superior to the ones the actual professional would suggest, and they do so without any substantive research at all to back their assumptions. Which looks a lot like plain old union busting to me....gussied up to look palatable to misinformed politicians who want to make political hay by taking the easy way out. Schools don't work? Close them down! Teachers complain? Get rid of them! Easy soundbytes for an ill-informed public to digest.

    •  there are not ad hominem (17+ / 0-)

      and I have been making that point for some time now.

      States and localities are in financial difficulty.  Additional money for RttT is almost impossible to pass up.  The administration has made it clear that unless their is some tying of teacher compensation to student test scores, states will not get money.  They don't say it in such blunt terms, but that is the reality.  As a result states are eliminating legal obstacles from doing that, even though psychometricians have been on record for years that such is an inappropriate use of the tests we have.  I will be writing more on this topic in the future.

      Another part of RttT required state to lift the limits on charters, as if the fact that a school is chartered is somehow a magic bullet.  There is sufficient research - peer reviewed research - to show that fewer charter schools are - using the test scores of which the "reformers" are so inappropriately fond - better than the public schools from which they draw than there are charter schools which are worse.  In other words, we re expanding not the pattern that can be identified in successful charter schools, but willy-nilly.  In the process, even though officially charters are public schools, we are moving towards the privatization of public education.  We have for profit chains of charter schools, several of which are now under investigation and/or review.  We are doing this despite the experience of turning troubled schools over to for profit educational management organizations a number of years back, and finding that what resulted lead to canceling the arrangement with the organizations like Edison schools which did a piss-poor job of educating children.

      Some of the reforms that Duncan advocates are based on his claimed success in Chicago.  Only examination of the record in Chicago during the tenures of both Duncan and his predecessor Paul Vallas but groups that are NOT particularly liberal or oriented towards my perspective on education have determined that there really was no success.  Where schools were claimed to have "improved" they usually had a very different makeup of their student bodies.

      There is a wealth of evidence to support what I am saying.  If you have not done so, I strongly suggest you read Diane Ravitch's book.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:52:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am a psychometrician and statistician (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sfgb, ER Doc, eigenlambda, miss SPED

        If you want to bounce some stuff off me, go ahead.

        My degree is at the Ph.D. level, and I only know test theory from the ... theoretical level.  But I know mixed model evaluation, which is what is being used.

        I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

        by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:58:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  so is plf515 (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfgb, 3goldens, ER Doc, miss SPED

          and I think it appropriate to mention his attitude on standardized tests - he thinks they should be brief, and more frequent, and the scores returned quickly so that they can serve a meaningful purpose of informing instruction.

          I actually know a fair amount about testing.  I had to take a course in assessment in my doctoral program, and the teacher, Bob Lissitz at U of Maryland College Park, did a very good job of covering the field -  the person who graded that part of my comprehensive exam told me I had absolutely aced it, which he attributed to what i had learned (that was an optional section that I chose).  I also did a pretty thorough examination of the status of value-added assessment at the time, in the early part of this century.  I only remark that I am not a psychometrician because sometimes in trying to phrase things in a way to make the understandable to the layman I may be technically incorrect.  

          In all likelihood, one of the next two books on which I will be doing a review - although in this case, for another site - is by Jim Popham, emeritus from UCLA, and one of the nation's great experts on testing and assessment.  I had no trouble handling his book, but then he is writing for a general audience.  I also anticipate in the near future posting a piece on Value-Added Assessment and what the LA Times did, but I am waiting for the release of something I  believe will be mandatory to include in such discussions.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:31:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, I know him (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            3goldens, ER Doc, miss SPED

            Met him several years ago at a Classification Society meeting.

            I would be interested in looking at the value-added piece as you write it.  I am very skeptical about the use of mixed-models in this area.  There are 5 or 6 issues, but since I know little about the area (value added assessment) i won't comment. I will pick up the Popham book however and take a look.  

            I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

            by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:43:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Title of Popham book? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            3goldens, miss SPED

            He has several out there.  What is the most up-to-date?

            I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

            by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:57:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  now that charters are showing up in wealthy towns (9+ / 0-)

        we may see them for what they really are. East brunswick NJ is a pretty well off suburb, and they are fighting like hell to keep a charter from opening. their argument? why should we pay millions of property tax dollars to this school when we have no say in how it operates? furthermore, we have good test scores, and boatlaods of kids going to the best colleges, they argue. I predict that once charters branch out from the inner city where parents are much easier to dismiss, and move out into the suburbs, you are going to see the brakes put on them fast.

      •  OK, not ad hominem, but... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eigenlambda

        ...how can such seemingly bright people such as Duncan and Obama get it completely wrong?  Where is the disconnect?  Are they misguided, corrupt or just believe they are smarter than everyone else?

        Thanks again for the discussion.  I will definitely read Diane Ravitch.  I assume you are referring to her latest, The Death and Life of the American School System?

        •  I cannot speak about Obama (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          abe57, miss SPED

          since I do not know anyone who has met with him on education.  I do know about Duncan, from at this point several dozen people in education and more than a few members of the House.  The consensus is he does not really listen, that he comes in with his talking points which he is going to get out.  Most of the high level people around him are the same way.  And you can look from where he got them - Gates Foundation, Education Trust - and you begin to understand.  

          There are people in the White House with briefs on Education.  It falls in the purview of Melody Barnes, who heads the domestic policy council.  She came to the Obama administration from the Center for American Progress, and the people there who specialize on education are very little different from the kinds of people to whom the Bush administration was listening, with the possible sole exception that they are not necessarily big advocates of vouchers.  Another key person was a key staffer for Ted kennedy with whom I have met when I would be involved with lobbying.  He would listen, thank us, and then continue doing exactly what he had been doing.  I am told from several sources that if there are meetings with those two you might well also get Rahm sitting in.   I will allow you to use your imagination on my reaction to that bit of news.

          I think Duncan thinks he is doing the right thing.  Quite frankly I do not think he really understands education.  On the one hand he signed the Broader Bolder Approach that has been advocated by the likes of Linda Darling-Hammond, on the other he goes around with the likes Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton.  Obama says NCLB was wrong, that we needed better tests and a better approach, and yet in establishing the supposed 5% of failing schools the standard being used is the very same testing scheme from NCLB.  

          I also look at Duncan's public statements that are troublesome.

          1.  He supported the firing of all the teachers at Central Falls HS in RI (which by the way was rescinded)
          1.  He called Katrina the best thing ever to happen to New Orleans Public Schools
          1.  He has supported the LA Times publishing the names and pictures in its series using VAA.

          To say that I find all three of those statements more than troubling is hardly an ad hominem attack.

          Well before her book came out, Diane Ravitch looked at some of what Duncan was doing and described him as Margaret Spellings in drag.  

          I will give Duncan credit for one thing.  His kids are now in public school, here in Arlington VA where I live.

          And his mother was committed to providing a decent education to kids in inner city Chicago.

          From my perspective, and of greater importance, from the perspective a number of very significant figures in education, the path that this administration is following, even with some good points, is wreaking havoc, possibly permanent, upon public schools.

          Many of us have tried to talk, to point at other ways.  We have been ignored, even on the few occasions where any can get an audience.

          When Duncan last appeared before the House Committee, his reception from the senior members of both parties was, to put it as it was described to me, at a minimum exceedingly skeptical and pretty close to hostile.  I know of members of the Congressional committees of both chambers who in private will say they do not believe him, but because they want the president to succeed would never undercut him by going public with the blunt statements they offer in private.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:50:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Duncan (9+ / 0-)

      fundamentally believes that the problem with American schools is that some students score poorly on standardized tests and that the solution is to fire their teachers. He's double wrong.

    •  asdf (6+ / 0-)

      Maybe I am missing something but your arguments against Duncan and the current administration's approach seem to be verging on an ad hominem attack

      not even close. Criticism of this administration does not automatically equal 'Verging on ad hominem'.

  •  Having worked near Chicago and watched (10+ / 0-)

    that debacle crash time and again, I was heartened to read your take. I thoroughly agree.

    In my HS District (95% Hispanic), NCLB became the Damocles Sword. The Administrators were terrified. They bought into the "High Schools that Work" program (the one that was soundly debunked by Kentucky schools). We had inservice after inservice teaching us how to write and effective syllabus for our classes. My question was and still is: How is that going to change scores with a population that is low income and can't read?

    High Schools that Work never addressed the salient issues and problems of our district. Our "Partnership Academy" and our "Smaller Learning Communities" were producing results but the class sizes were "too small". Now both are abandoned. Students are grouped "heterogeneously" in class sizes of 30-35 and special classes such as foreign language, Art, Drama, and Remedial Reading(Title 1) have been eliminated.

    There is not problem with our motto "Every Child Can Learn" but to place all our students into a College Prep curriculum and expect them all to achieve success belies the fact that a large percent of our incoming freshmen have the skills of a beginning third grader.... in fact the majority of the students (70%) are achieving at grade 6 and below. The District is simply trying to fool its clientele. My prediction that the the scores will not improve stands, even though I am retired.

    When the population of the community changes to one where the majority of students come from homes where both parents can read, speak English, have a HS education and are earning above poverty wages...then, scores will improve. I figured it might take a generation when I predicted this...I have another 10 years.

    I used to tell my colleague that we really were educating the next generation, and the scores at this point in time were not meaningful. What was meaningful is what the students learned that could be transferred to their children because there was no way that my students with their 3-rd Grade Reading and math levels would score well-enough at the end of a year or two to make a difference. Now I am convinced that the Administrator and the Board of Ed in my former district(I am retired) are not really interested in whether the students learn.

    It is all how it looks on paper. It is all the fault of the teacher...not the Administrators!

    I am not surprised that she didn't acknowledge your letter. At least you didn't get an insulting message back. She is simply doing what many Administrators do --- ignore the issue and continue along the same path because it is easier and takes the blame off themselves.

    Courage is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lazzardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:23:46 AM PDT

    •  My wife rewrote her syllabi every 2-3 years (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfgb, ER Doc

      She always taught the same way.  She would have to rewrite the fucking syllabi every time there was a new administration, which was every 2-3 years in St Louis (6 Supers in 9 years).  All she would do is reformat for new paper.

      It was a huge waste of time.

      I am a restrictionist, and that is a progressive position.

      by numberzguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:35:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In regular contact with people in/near Chicago (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfgb, 3goldens, blueoasis, ER Doc, miss SPED

      Some are parent activists.  Some are teachers. Some are university types who have seen the era of Vallsas/Duncan up close.

      At one point for Pittsburgh in 2009, I explored doing a panel on an assessment of the Obama administration on education after 6 months.  One of the proposed panelists was someone based in Chicago at the University level.    The panel would have also included a former statewide commissioner of education who later taught at one of the most prestigious institutions training teachers, and one nationally recognized educator on the progressive side of the educational spectrum.  For a variety of reasons we could not work it out then, and i could not attend this year, so I made no attempt to do it in Vegas.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:35:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ken (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, codairem, miss SPED

    Thank you for so clearly making the case in regard to Unions not being responsible for the retention of bad teachers.

    We've all dealt with these jerks, as students or parents, and been baffled that well founded complaints aren't adressed.  I mean, I had a teacher who vommited a reeking gut-full of screwdivers into a potted plant on a parent teacher night...and wasn't fired.

    For 20 years, I've bought what the Principle told my Dad, roughly "Eh, can't fire him, tenure, union, you know".

    I know it's not the central point of your letter, or why you reposted it here, but it does a considerable ammount to alter my perspective on that issue.

    the policy elite...are... demanding that we engage in human sacrifices to appease the anger of invisible gods ~ Paul Krugman

    by JesseCW on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:24:21 AM PDT

  •  You usually enjoy her columns? WTF? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keirdubois, stevej, 3goldens, blueoasis

    Ken, this is RUTH MARCUS you're talking about! She is one of the worst hacks in daily newspaper journalism, the personification of Upton Sinclair's famous quote:

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

    You shouldn't be in any way surprised, much less irritated, that she declined to respond to you. I'd guess the points you raised are just too much for her to comprehend.

    Tipped and recommended for the effort. Remember, the work you do is its own reward. Ten thousand Ruth Marcuses can't take that from you. Have a great Sunday, my brother-in-arms, and keep up the fight.

    "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

    by Ivan on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:46:17 AM PDT

  •  My wife tried to teach for two years (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, Cassiodorus, greengemini

    while earning her professional certificate. She quit for a variety of reasons, mostly because of the deplorable direction education in Florida is heading. Instead she now tutors privately--for a lot less money, but far more rewarding and helpful for the students.

    Teacherken and I disagree strongly on some things about our educational system, but I find his opinions and thoughts in this area quite refreshing and necessary to be heard.

  •  On a Personal Level - (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, codairem, orlbucfan, marleycat

    Something I see (and it drives me absolutely bonkers!)

    Millions and billions of dollars spent for "education" and nary a dime trickling down to those who need it - the children.

    I see this money giving a lot of grown folks jobs but not doing anything for the kids.

    Try to find federal student aid if your child has severe learning disabilities and you want to send him to a private school that can actually help.

    in plain dollars and sense - a year's tuition is way cheaper than eventual incarceration.

    I'm the person your mother warned you about.

    by Unique Material on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:53:16 AM PDT

  •  My experiences (10+ / 0-)

    I always look for TeacherKen's posts and the one today speaks of my greatest frustration with education.
    I recently retired from a career that took me from Indian Reservations to rich suburban schools.  I've watched excellent teachers meet the challenges of three different reform movements, Nation at Risk, Goals 2000, and NCLB, and each time, as they get to point of reaching the then specified goal, the language and reporting requirements change.  Teachers are required to meet each new need (Sp.Ed.,Gifted, ESL) as
    State and National legislatures pass laws, most often with no new funding or personnel. The Special Ed laws in particular can put special burdens on school districts that effect regular funding, yet the $ from Washington has never reached near 50% of the cost.
    My final position was in a  wonderful suburban district.  Early in my time there, there was a conflict between the Union and Administration.  The Administration took the very wise move of treating the teachers as professionals.  They opened the books to Union reps at contract negotiations, they established (paid) teacher committees to review and write curriculum, aligning it to the State Standards.  And now this district is a leading one in our state, with most of it's schools ranking Highly Performing & Excelling.
    I would like to comment on testing, computer testing, and evaluation as well. In my final year working, I proctored 4 figidy 4th grade boys during the State exam.  Did that improve their test taking? Probably not, but it was mostly set up to improve the test taking ability of their classmates. I was also able to give them healthy snacks when I saw the only snack that had been brought (this is allowed for the test) was Fiery Dorito crumbs.
    Testing is essential in schools, but we are imposing beta level tests on kids, then using those results to evaluate them and their teachers.  From my experience, it is difficult to keep good IT people working for school districts, they can make more money elsewhere.  I have seen how online testing can be an effective tool, but teachers now can add data entry and software troubleshooter to their list of tasks.  Instead of hiring more consultants with RITT, how about more paraprofessionals and technicians?
    I am saddened by where the Obama Administration is taking Education Policy. It mirrors what I have seen most definately does not work, keeping teachers out of the discussion.  And when did a bully, who is not an educator and didn't go to Public School (I think), Bill Gates, get to direct National Education Policy?  I think he is a perfect metaphor for the neoliberal/quasi-libertarian mind set taking over.  I am not much of a computer person, but as I understand it, his success started with theft of intellectual property initially funded with gov. money.  And as each new version of Windows is released, people complain and have to deal with problems.  Then Microsoft "fixes" those problems and forces their customers, who have been dealing with the past problems, to pay for the pleasure of the fix.

  •  know aht? Obama's people (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slinkerwink, ER Doc, aliasalias

    are probably scratching their heads, wondering why teachers hate them when they just got aid passed to keep them in jobs. This administration is just clueless on so many levels..

  •  nytimes op ed: pro unproven education 'reforms" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, blueoasis, ER Doc

    Note this op-ed in yesterday's New York Times. There is so much false information and dog whistle cliches against teachers that they, too should be called out:

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

  •  The right has been (10+ / 0-)

    trying to get rid of free public education for a long time.  The easiest way to do that is to make the public school system fail.  Denigrate teachers and  teachers unions, question science, stack boards of educations with far right collaborators and what do you have?  A recipe for the dissolution of public education.  Of course, Democrats as usual play along because they have no clue what they are dealing with.

  •  I'm not sure why you expected (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, sawgrass727

    an acknowledgment?  Is it standard to receive an acknowledgment when a person writes an op ed  writer?

    I don't belong to an organized party, I'm a democrat.

    by thestructureguy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:46:43 AM PDT

    •  And teacherken didn't request a reply (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thestructureguy

      I sometimes write directly to op-ed columnists and have received replies from all but one person. I am always pleasantly surprised to receive a reply, though I never request one.  

      I think a responsible person would have replied to teacherken, but I can imagine Marcus getting this letter and having no desire to respond-even if he had asked for a response.

  •  Teacherken, you are SO right on every point (7+ / 0-)

    obama's plan for education reform will have the most long-term destructive effects to our society. Duncan is not only crazy, but he is so completely misinformed beyond comprehension. I too come from a background of education and it boggles my mind that teachers know what the solutions are and have substantive data to back up those solutions, yet they are made to be the targets. Attacking the teachers and the unions is by far the worst thing anyone can do for education. Race to the bottom, here we come.

  •  Faux liberals like Marcus are far more (5+ / 0-)

    interested in preserving and advancing a status quo in which they're doing quite well for themselves, than in advancing a genuinely progressive agenda that would likely threaten their own privileged and lofty positions within the status quo--while continuing to vainly pretend to still be liberal in that "Hey I still own all my James Taylor albums" way lest they receive the socially stigmatic label of "conservative" from their just as hypocritical faux liberal establishment friends and associates.

    They want to have their cake and eat it too. Thing is, you can't. You're either a liberal who supports actually liberal policies, such as organized labor, universal health care and a return to New Deal financial regulations, or else you're a poser who doesn't have the guts to admit what you really are--a closeted conservative out for themselves.

    "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

    by kovie on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:01:55 AM PDT

  •  what more radical changes would you make? (0+ / 0-)

    Many of us opposing what this administration is doing are NOT arguing for the status quo.  In fact, many of us would make changes that are far more radical.   We have offered proposals which don't fit into the current rhetorical frame, and so they get rejected.

    you have probably written on this but I haven't been reading here lately. Maybe suggest a diary or two, I found this one very interesting.  I start back to work tomorrow in a new job at a K-8 charter school that shares a building with a "turn around" charter high school.  I have read quite a bit on education reform this summer but am having trouble figuring out what I think about it.

    •  Have done so on a number of occasions (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aliasalias, nokomis

      but simply do not have time to go dig up the links.  If you go back to early 2007 there were a series of diaries by a group of us on education reform.  At one point, putting together resources for the panels for Yearlykos, I think I had a list of all them by all of us.

      And I have written pretty regularly about other approaches -  I have done diaries on the Coalition of Essential Schools, the Forum for Education and Democracy, the Forum on Educational Accountability.  

      I have also reported efforts by teachers and others to try to get different approaches considered, and how those were summarily dismissed.

      Sorry, but I am out of time for this today.  

      You might try posting your own diary with the questions or concerns you have about education reform and see what response you get.  There are number of people here who are knowledgeable from different perspectives.  Some know far about some aspects than I do.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:51:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bravo! (5+ / 0-)

    This diary and your letter cover every major topic confounding public education today. It is so comprehensive and well-written I am keeping a copy for future reference.  You are not only a gifted teacher, but also a tremendous advocate.

  •  Thanks for writing the letter (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for sharing it.
    For so many years, I have said, or tried to say the same thing, to other teachers (who are convinced unions are the problem); to friends and family who are not educators.  
    But the meme that "teachers' unions" are the reason bad teachers stay and schools fail has been accepted by a media who simply does not care, a public who thinks they are experts cause they went to school, or one of their kids had a bad teacher one time.

    In my career, I was an active union member, often in leadership positions.  I also worked with a principal to get a member/teacher fired.   It took a while and IT TOOK WORK.   Documentation on a daily basis.   And the union was involved to help her "change" her practices.  She was older and had been "passed around" in this large district for years.  Was that the fault of teachers?  NO!!  Administration plays that game. I finally decided it had to be stopped and with the help of the union pressuring the principal to do his job, it happened.

    Just so you know I am not trying to paint myself as some hero, the reason I became so involved is because she and I were teaching the same grade.  There were three of us and it was a pretty stable, middle class school many with active parents.   How the administration was dealing with this problem when the parents complained was to move a student out of her class and into mine or the third teacher.  Within three months, she was down to 16 students and we were up to 28 each.  When the next student was being put in my class, I said, "NO!"  I called our union and told them that I demanded to see the Assistant Super and wanted them there.  

    So it took the union, myself, central ad working together.  But I was lucky because my principal was a good man, albeit a little incompetent when it came to things like documentation, knowing what he could and could not do.  

    In the end, she retired, we got a new third teacher and things were restored.  To this day, that woman complains about that principal.  She never got it.  But she did not want to lose her retirement by being fired.   The kids lost some time, but easily they made it up with their new teacher who was quite good.

    Standing up to the status quo is needed.  But it's not what people think.   RTTT is not the answer.  Charter schools are not the answer.  In the end, supporting good teaching with common sense solutions matter. NCLB has this "no excuses" mentality.  They refuse to acknowledge that kids from poverty laden neighbor hoods need DIFFERENT things.  In schools where the majority of kids have college educated parents who value education do not have the same needs as children in schools where half the kids have a parent in jail, or live on food stamps, etc etc.  
    It's not about the ability to learn.  It's about the conditions (in the school, home) where learning takes place.   Not excuses, reality.
    When low income schools take away the arts, field trips, recess it adds to the problems.  And yet, under pressure to improve those standardized test scores, guess what happens.
    In charter/private schools, by virtue of the fact that parents took the time and effort to try something different, speaks to one advantage those kids have...a parent that cares.  But even with that, charter schools in low income areas often do no better than the public school.  And in some cases, charter schools, after count day, recommend parents of special needs students take them back to the public school as they have no special ed teacher on staff.

    OK, I have written before, said many of the same things.  
    I am glad this blog has teacherken to speak truth to power, but I admit I am not sure progressives really get it.
    Even worse some of the scam private schools simply spin to parents and manipulate test results.  

  •  Good diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden

    Good email. Thank you Ken.

    What could BPossibly go wrong?? -RLMiller

    by nosleep4u on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:02:53 AM PDT

  •  Thank you Ken! (7+ / 0-)

    I’d like to pass along a sincere thank you for doing this level of detailed, direct, and challenging writing. You put into ideas into words that have impact.  I often toy with the idea trying to journal on here, but find myself at a loss for the time and skill needed to do what you do for all of us. As teacher I thank you for all of your brilliant work standing up for teachers, students, schools, the nation’s public school system, and ultimately our nation as a whole.

  •  Most papers have an ombudsman. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, greengemini

    The Star Ledger, in NJ, for example, has an ombudsman that is very responsive.  

    Writers write.  

    Ombudsmen answer the readers.  Try that.  

    Strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one's balance in spite of them. - Clausewitz

    by SpamNunn on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:20:55 AM PDT

  •  Teacherken, where's the TIP jar? :-) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slinkerwink, sfgb, blueoasis, ER Doc

    Seriously, do I  have your written permission to forward this diary by email? It will go to my younger sister, Melanie. She is a mathematical genius (as was our father) who gave up working for the DOD to teach. Her favorites are her middle-school kids.

    Thanks for your answer. This is an excellent/important diary. Please answer at your leisure. I will watch for it.

    Many thanks!!!!!! orlbucfan LOL

    Education is imperative in dealing w/tyrants.

    •  Allow me to quote from the copyright info (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfgb, blueoasis, ER Doc, Susan from 29

      at bottom of page:

      Site content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified.

      I place no copyright statement on what I post here.

      I tweeted it. It has had multiple retweets.

      Diane Ravitch tweeted it without mentioning my name.  That has also been retweeted.

      Markos use to have a statement that said "Steal what you want."

      I do not claim the letter - or the diary - has all the answers.  I thought what I sent was worthy of a response.  Not having been able to engage in a dialog, I decided i would post publicly, which had been something I had originally considered.

      Please note -  PUBLICLY, because I wanted it read.

      Passing it on does not cost me any money, does it>

      Peace.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:54:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Classes are too large. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, MixedContent

    Anything over 17-18 students and teacher effectiveness drops.

    Barack Obama: Ignores his legal obligation to prosecute people who tortured prisoners to death. Good at photo ops, though.

    by expatjourno on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:10:42 AM PDT

    •  not necessarily - depends on several factors (0+ / 0-)

      the subject matter, the teacher, the nature of the teaching, the level of the class.

      The argument can be made that a highly skilled teacher will do more with 30 than two less skilled teachers each with only 15.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:44:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ken, I'd challenge you to read Marcus charitably. (0+ / 0-)

    Start there.

    What is the nugget of wisdom in what she's saying?

    She seems to be making an argument that groups are wrong to fight Obama, when they should be supporting his ed reform work.  Fair?  Unfair?

    Maybe the nugget of wisdom here is something we also learned from the healthcare debate - that division within the Democratic ranks might actually harm, rather than help, the reform agenda and keep us further from the ultimate goal.

    Full Disclosure: I am not Ben Leming. But I think he's pretty cool.

    by Benintn on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:11:20 AM PDT

    •  Division within the ranks (6+ / 0-)

      The division within the ranks comes from Blue Dogs, conservadems, etc. President Obama, a 260 House caucus, and a 60 member Senate were not elected on center-right platforms. Those of us that helped vote in a progressive change to Washington are people who by and large support unions, Employee Free Choice Act, strong public education, a strong national health care system, a smart and quick cessation of military hostility in Iraq and Afghanistan, a strong continuation of Social Security, Elizabeth Warren protecting our rights as consumers of financial products, strong federal oversight of the banking system, fair pay for work for all, comprehensive immigration reform, strong energy legislation that deals with climate change, green energy growth, and so on and so on an so on. We don’t want Arne Duncan as our Secretary of Education pushing testing and privatizing as reform, Wall Street Tim Geithner continuing the nonsense of Robert Rubin’s economic views, or Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman halting all progressive legislation in the Senate.  President Obama needs to implement the change WE voted for! We all saw what George Bush did with far less of a mandate in 2001-09. The division in the ranks is because the ranks are being ignored.

    •  Support Duncan's Race to the Top (3+ / 0-)

      I cannot and will not support this horrid program. To call it reform is absurd. It is anything but reform.

      If one believes that state mandated tests are the only way to measure a school's and a teacher's effectiveness; if one believes, as do many supporters of value-added assessments, that one does not have to even observe a teacher to evaluate her/his effectiveness; if one believes that Duncan's tenure at Chicago was successful, despite evidence to the contrary; if one believes that teachers' unions are the biggest impediment to improving education; if one believes that charter schools are more effective than public schools despite evidence to the contrary; if one believes that humiliating educators is the best method to encourage them to meet the difficult challenges that they face; if one can point out how Race to the Top Bottom is even a marginal improvement on NCLB; if one truly believes the preceding then I suppose Duncan's educational ideas might qualify as refrom.

      As for me, I will do everything in my power to protect my school district from the negative impact of Arne Duncan's educational policies and I will actively oppose these measures at every opportunity.

      Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

      by slatsg on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:44:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A brain that functions at a high cognitive level (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, ER Doc, dhshoops, Mostel26

    and understands situations and context can be a gift. The burden, TeacherKen, is in putting pearls before swine. My heart and hopes go out to you and I sincerely and deeply desire that you become more widely understood and listened to. I've always maintained that to be an effective teacher it takes a sense of rage to sustain against the forces of stupidity and darkness. People like you lift me.

  •  Interesting that parents (0+ / 0-)

    appear nowhere in your diatribe -- we're only trotted out as the whipping boy to be blamed, or condescendingly lectured to about how we are failing our children, even as we juggle two jobs and a lack of real support.

    •  Marcus does not address parents (5+ / 0-)

      and by now you know be well enough to know that I believe in working closely with parents, which is why I call them all at the start of the year.

      I try to give other voices an opportunity to be heard, as I did you in Chicago at one of the panels where you had a concern that you felt was not being addressed.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:45:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ken, as parents of a teenager, we fully support (3+ / 0-)

    you and appreciate your effort.

    Good luck.

    "We all live under the same sky, but we don't all have the same horizon." Adenauer, Konrad

    by under the same sky on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:30:53 AM PDT

  •  I think you did the right thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, ER Doc

    at the right time. Acountability does not have to be a contest or a ruthless pursuit to be right. You gave her the chance to engage in private. Given your place in our society and in the same circles travelled by Ruth on issues of education you had a reasonable expectation of a response.

    Your escalation to a DKos blog post is reasonable and appreciated by me at least.

    Keep us posted and I'll get the popcorn ready.

    Unapologetically pro-citizen. Not anti-corporation just very pro-citizen.

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:32:30 AM PDT

  •  Teacherken, thank you for clarifying some of the (5+ / 0-)

    issues that have troubled me.  As for publishing your letter here, at least someone can get some benefit out of your work, whether Marcus responds or doesn't.

    Personally, I think that the driving force behind the argument is the continuing effort to end public education.  Just as we have outsourced our military efforts, education will be pushed into the hands of private contractors who will not allow union participation.

    In this case, the fact that there are bad teachers, and that the unions don't help identify, retrain or eliminate them, makes it easier for the advocates of private education to undercut the unions.  You make a good argument for the defense of all union members, but someone has to address the issue of how we judge the effectiveness of teachers in a manner that is fair and objective.  How we reward those who are good and help those who need it.

  •  After reading this thread (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    I am convinced that this website has just gotten nasty.  You should listen to how ya'll talk to one another.

  •  Pertinent and well-argued. (5+ / 0-)

    I would suggest that in your attempt to thoroughly cover a complex topic, you may lose some readers.  In other contexts, a more sharpened approach, at the expense of completeness, may work better.  For example, your cogent and important arguments re unions could be cut back significantly.

    There is the distinct possibility that a significant number of the people you are attempting to convince do not actually have the welfare of students at the top of their list.  They are likely thinking of other constituencies such as textbook publishers and politicians, which explains why teacher's unions represent an antagonistic entity to them.  I wouldn't fantasize that you are operating in a framework in which goals are shared by all sides.

    I won't go into detail, but the corruption of the discussion of education mirrors that in all other important issues before us:  war and peace, energy, health care, and the environment.  Just one example is our striking refusal to take lessons from successful strategies overseas.  Powerful people in this country now seem to have confused corporate manipulation of opinion with reality.

    I'm so proud of you, teacherken.  And also very grateful.  I hope your efforts open the way to meaningful examination of our education policies.

    Don't believe everything you think.

    by geomoo on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:04:46 PM PDT

  •  tipped and rec'd (0+ / 0-)

    all i have to add is that this is just one of a long list of problems i have with the obama administration.

    all the traditional venues for debate are closed down.

    i am not surprised you get no response.

    the media is virtually a closed wall at this time.

    Gaia is heartbroken.

    by BlueDragon on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:56:38 PM PDT

  •  Your letter is way too well referenced (0+ / 0-)

    and thoughtful and shows her as a hack writer.  I don't think she knows how to respond.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:19:58 PM PDT

JD SoOR, fly, Alumbrados, boydog, opendna, tmo, keirdubois, coral, norwood, PrahaPartizan, hannah, jotter, lowkell, copymark, slinkerwink, cali, Ivan, janinsanfran, Bob Love, Sprinkles, karlpk, michael in chicago, Shockwave, Hope Despite All, LEP, KateG, willyr, devtob, TarheelDem, marge, expatjourno, Heart of the Rockies, sardonyx, rasbobbo, Agathena, blaneyboy, bluesteel, KMc, stevej, gayntom, Frederick Clarkson, slatsg, Clues, standingup, Nate Roberts, Jesterfox, enough already, antirove, Eddie C, Texknight, danthrax, Dr Colossus, crackpot, laughingriver, BMarshall, dwahzon, Chirons apprentice, lcrp, SDorn, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, TexasLefty, lyvwyr101, AaronBa, Daddy Bartholomew, avahome, Armand451, TexMex, TexH, sawgrass727, Big Tex, Dirk McQuigley, GuyFromOhio, chumley, tovan, Bluesee, sandblaster, Simian, marina, 3goldens, rini, Ckntfld, Neuro Doc, Sparkalepsy, lilypew, SherwoodB, Chinton, OpherGopher, run around, grimjc, tomhodukavich, citizenx, YucatanMan, Dobber, jimstaro, ladybug53, cassidy3, bmaples, joseph rainmound, Savvy813, Margouillat, JanL, Indiana Bob, mrchips46, Snud, noweasels, CJnyc, begone, martini, snazzzybird, danmac, teharper428, tobendaro, Starseer, Gorette, abe57, fromer, Albatross, mcartri, luckydog, blueoasis, bess, triv33, StrayCat, gpoutney, NearlyNormal, plf515, Frank Cocozzelli, ER Doc, hlsmlane, doingbusinessas, GiveNoQuarter, Cassiodorus, PoxOnYou, kurious, Temmoku, ammasdarling, One Pissed Off Liberal, out of left field, bluicebank, Gravedugger, Loudoun County Dem, Mr K, jhecht, bfbenn, yoduuuh do or do not, FishOutofWater, daveygodigaditch, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, DWG, aliasalias, artisan, HCKAD, jayden, rivamer, st minutia, bobswern, millwood, Moderation, uciguy30, M Sullivan, LWelsch, JML9999, JDWolverton, gundyj, Justus, RickMassimo, rontun, scooter in brooklyn, OleHippieChick, skohayes, monkeybrainpolitics, Lujane, Cassandra Waites, Wek, geomoo, Jake Williams, pickandshovel, mofembot, Seamus D, banger, Drewid, sam storm, oak park progressive, luckylizard, allie123, JamieG from Md, billybam, watercarrier4diogenes, papicek, dreamghost, FudgeFighter, maggiejean, Rhysling, ARS, greengemini, maryabein, Partisan Progressive, h bridges, JesseCW, DefendOurConstitution, virginwoolf, Leslie in KY, allep10, Shelley99, DreamyAJ, stevenwag, sfarkash, deviant24x, Cleopatra, o possum, BrooklynWeaver, cassandraX, Sarbec, brentbent, coppercelt, mamamorgaine, miss SPED, bhscartonteach, Interceptor7, angelajean, catchlightning, ItsSimpleSimon, Benintn, sharonsz, Earth Ling, Funkygal, abrauer, Otteray Scribe, nosleep4u, slice, Mike08, Jasel, angstall, ToeJamFootball, Situational Lefty, Teiresias70, princesspat, marleycat, grannysally, dle2GA, CalBear, peregrine kate, PhilJD, Marihilda, Wom Bat, carl offner, Sunspots, MikeBoyScout, Regina in a Sears Kit House, MichaelNY, James Philip Pratt, BlueDragon, Only Needs a Beat, jacey, Tentwenty, Caractacus, worldforallpeopleorg, Tom Taaffe, Flying Goat, FireBird1, OHknighty, We Won, NancyWilling, congenitalefty, Th0rn, Free Jazz at High Noon

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site