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yesterday I received an email that was sent to a group of teachers who are very active in attempting to prevent the destruction of American public education.   The author advocated teachers being prepared not to vote in 2012 if our voices are not listened to, if our voices are not heard.

Before anyone reacts, remember - this is a cry of desperation.

It comes from fear that our lives' work is being destroyed before our eyes.

It comes as we find ourselves hit with body blow after body blow

...  by the administration

...  by the coordinate roll-out of "Waiting for Superman"

...  by what has happened so far with the Education Nation event organized by NBC.  

It is not that we are isolated in our struggles against the destructive approach of this administration.  In a piece deliberately alluding to a work by the President, Diann Woodard, herself president of the American Association of School Administrators, posted The Audacity of Hopelessness at Huffington Post, which I urge you to read, and from which I quote several passages, each accompanied by a brief commentary from me:

When Washington applauds school boards for firing principals and teachers without due process, as was done in Central Falls, Rhode Island and continues to be done in less publicized systems, it not only violates the legal rights of educators covered by collective bargaining agreements, it reduces the complex task of administering improvements to the crude, pass-fail simplicity of a Donald Trump TV show.

I especially like the reference to Trump -  "You're Fired" displays the kind of arrogance that presumes the one offering or supporting such statement is so full of self-confidence ans sureness of one's own rightness as to be deaf and blind to the possibility that s/he is wrong.  For an increasing number of America's educators -  administrators as well as teachers -  that is how we are experiencing this administration and those who support its approach to education.

By constantly imposing new, experimental programs on us -- no matter how well intentioned -- they are breeding failure. How do they expect children to succeed when there's no stability in the approaches Washington is foisting on us, and no continuity in teaching programs from one year to the next?

"experimental programs" -  such as the four acceptable methods under Race to the Top to turn around failing schools, not one of which has ever demonstrated success even by the standard of improving test scores:  not with the same students.  And that is a piss-poor measurement to use.  I might mildly quibble with Woodard, because some of these approaches are not new, they have been tried and have failed to demonstrate success.

The fact is, we're an easy mark for academics and Washington policy wonks, because no one sees the principal as having a relationship to the growth of a child. Much of the work we do, so essential for keeping the system functioning, such as maintaining the physical plant or coping with the environment outside the school, is invisible to the public. We're seen solely in relation to teachers.

As a result, we're forced to deal with the contentiousness inherent in the business model that says, "If it doesn't work, throw it out." Approaches like these aren't turnaround plans; they simply turn a blind eye to the reality educators must confront, especially in communities where poverty and crime are more pervasive.

Woodard complains that principals are seen solely in relation to teachers.   Let me expand that -  they are seen solely in relation to teachers with respect to how teachers are seen in relation to student test scores.  With or without "value-added" approaches to test scores, that reduces what is considered to a relatively small part of what we teachers have to deal with, and thus also with what principals have to deal with -

maintaining the physical plant -  an environment where there is mold on the walls, where vermin are visible or at least their droppings, where there are no doors on bathroom stalls, where roofs leak, etc. -  none of this is conducive to learning.  It gives students the clear message that their learning really does not matter.  And for all the responsibility for the plant that principals may have, they often lack the resources and/or the authority to address such issues:  the resources because such repairs cannot be paid from their budgets, the authority because certain repairs can only be done by central office personnel of whom there may be too few.  Imagine a district with over 150 schools, many of which have well over 1,000 students.  Think how many doors there are.  Now imagine that there is exactly one locksmith employed by a central office to address all issues about locks on doors, within the building or leading to outside.  Trust me.  This is not an unknown situation.

Rather than glib condemnations, what's needed is a new spirit of cooperation, one in which all the stakeholders in public education -- especially school administrators -- are consulted on solutions rather than being targeted for vilification. Instead, we've been completely shut out of policy decisions.

To this I can only add the following:  welcome to my world.  Welcome to the world of teachers, who are mentioned only to be criticized.  Oh I know, people say how important teachers are, and how much good teachers are to be valued, but then dismiss most of what we do by insisting on evaluating us primarily or solely by student test scores, which is something over which we actually have relatively little control.

We're the ones at ground zero in public education, directly involved in communities throughout the country. Parents send us what they hold most precious, their children, and we're charged with sending them back a better person.

Yet policy makers seem blind to the realities we face, primary among them the fact that our children aren't machines. Some of them are struggling before they ever get to school. Many of them come to us from dysfunctional families and have totally different levels of readiness that don't lend themselves to standardized, near-term tests as true measures of success. In some cases, success means teaching a child just to learn to read and write.

we're charged with sending them back a better person -  as a teacher I will refrain from criticizing the poor grammar demonstrated in that - it is a such a common error that it almost seems pointless to address, although were she my student MS. Woodard would find some remarks from me on this paper.  

policy makers seem blind to the realities we face -  or unwilling to understand.  They claim when we raise such issues that we are making excuses, that we are prepared to leave children behind.  They do not seem to grasp that we raise such issues because to ignore them IS to leave those children behind, to deprive them of the full, rich and meaningful education to which they should be entitled instead of the restricted, test-prep oriented education that has increasingly become their lot over the past decade.

Woodard concludes as follows:  

Constantly condemning the school administrators and teachers who are struggling to cope with the complex challenges we face does little but cause the public to lose all hope that we can succeed. If there's no hope in the community, there's no hope in the school. So, the question that cries out is: What hope is there for the child?

What hope is there for the child?  That SHOULD be the question.   And it is not answered by saying we will raise her test scores.  And then?  A child makes her test scores but still cannot write sufficiently well enough to focus in a post-secondary educational setting?  Has not learned how to manage time or organize his work?   Lacks basic understanding of how our political and governmental systems are supposed to function?  Has missed the chance to explore dimensions of learning that can expose one to new ways of thinking and expressing?

Woodard writes from the perspective of an administrator.  I think the frustration she feels is palpable.

Welcome to my world, the world of the teacher.  Only we have gone beyond frustration to anger.

I hear discussions of doing what teachers in the UK did - refusing to administer tests on the grounds that since they are damaging to the children it would be a violation of our professional responsibility to do so, just as much as it would be a violation of the responsibility of a medical professional to only use quack remedies to treat the conditions s/he can diagnose in a patient.  It is that serious.  It is that damaging to those for whom we assume responsibility.

Teacher anger.  It is not enough, and we cannot make the changes in attitude and policy by ourselves, because we are excluded from the policy discussions and decision-making.

I suspect we will see increasing anger from other educational professionals.  And then, as it dawns on them how much their children are being cheated, by parents.

But by then we will have failed several more cohorts, maybe even a generation, of students.

By then we will have alienated a generation of teachers, the very ones whose presence and dedication we need to make a difference in the lives of our students.

I am the union rep for my building.   The anger and frustration are expanding, almost exponentially.  It is reaching dangerous levels.  And this is in an outstanding school with a national reputation for excellence.

I focused on the piece by Woodard because it served as a useful vehicle to help people who are not teachers realize how serious the situation is.

I write this from my home.  I will not go to school today.  It is a furlough day.  It should be a professional development day, a paid professional development day.  We are not losing instructional time, not directly.  Yet we are expected to fulfill all our responsibilities, including those that cannot be done during the instructional time, only now we must do it on our own time, for less money.  This at a time when our compensation proportionate to our qualifications is slipping ever further behind our peers who chose other occupations.  And at a time when it becomes increasingly acceptable to bash and demean what we do, to insist on taking away our professionalism.

Our schools are short of money.  That is why so many states are agreeing to the destructive policies under Race to the Top -  they are desperate for money.

I cannot help but think that if Joe Stiglitz was right, that we will have spent $3 trillion on a war of choice in Iraq, we can in part understand why schools are in trouble.  That would be 10,000 for every American alive, which is more than the average per child expenditure in the average American public schools.

It has often been said that if you want to know a person's priorities in life, examine his checkbook when he dies.  By that standard this nation does not value the education of its children.  

That makes me angry.

I am not alone in my anger.

I raise my voice because my anger is righteous, on behalf of the students entrusted to my care.

Teachers are angry.

If our anger is not assuaged, if we are not listened to, the consequences even in the near future might not be pretty.

Do with this what you will.  But do not say you were not told.

Originally posted to teacherken on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:27 AM PDT.

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  •  Tip Jar (158+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tookish, Alumbrados, Donna Z, Lcohen, NYCee, victor harbison, Ivan, Tomato Observer, Geenius at Wrok, emal, Reino, janinsanfran, TheGreatLeapForward, Shockwave, byteb, TJ, billlaurelMD, KateG, jdld, lzachary, floridawave, dinazina, opinionated, tmmike, chimpy, duck, fumie, Jesterfox, Texknight, JimWilson, mistersite, On The Bus, GreatDane, AbsurdEyes, clarknyc, WV Democrat, Kitsap River, ScienceMom, fran1, vacantlook, AaronBa, Daddy Bartholomew, tovan, 3goldens, NoMoreLies, greatferm, CTPatriot, Heiuan, SherwoodB, disrael, PBen, Philoguy, run around, grimjc, Jfriday, cfk, geonerd, Burned, lotlizard, JanL, splashoil, RJDixon74135, esquimaux, DrSpalding, Starseer, anastasia p, jwhitmill, blueoasis, bubbanomics, Dauphin, MarciaJ720, Jjc2006, ER Doc, Unitary Moonbat, Turbonerd, profh, wheatdogg, goinsouth, blueoregon, shaharazade, airmarc, jjellin, kurious, bigchin, One Pissed Off Liberal, dov12348, lightfoot, C Barr, Cottagerose, california keefer, karmsy, FishOutofWater, ezdidit, joyful, Shadowmage36, puzzled, eashep, stratocasterman, Uberbah, millwood, LWelsch, Don midwest, rontun, joycemocha, gtnoah, VA gentlewoman, moose67, Lujane, happymisanthropy, smartdemmg, Thought Crime, mofembot, glendaw271, pelagicray, squarewheel, Neon Vincent, aufklaerer, greengemini, divineorder, proud2Bliberal, maryabein, Methinks They Lie, WiseFerret, h bridges, War on Error, Hopeful Monster, schnecke21, Rian Fike, Randtntx, Dichro Gal, porchdog1961, not this time, BigVegan, swaminathan, FrankCornish, gulfgal98, Lady Libertine, Egalitare, Funkygal, roystah, Floande, Mike08, angstall, heart of a quince, moondance, asterkitty, ThAnswr, Aranfell, dle2GA, jrexpat, Strange New World, Azazello, Tentwenty, sparkysmom, sow hat, angry marmot, We Won, Ruh Roh

    "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:27:22 AM PDT

    •  I wrote this almost viscerally (83+ / 0-)

      I am angry, I am frustrated.

      I know I am not alone.

      I am not YET ready to give up.

      Not YET.

      This is not JUST visceral.

      I have worked hard to help people understand the nature of teaching, what it is that we do.

      Like many who have assumed this burden on top of the all-consuming burden of being a teacher, I am finding that I am burning myself out, with apparently little to show for my efforts.

      I refuse to give up.  I understand the frustration and anger of the friend who sent the communication.

      I understand, but I cannot follow the course of action suggested.

      It becomes tempting to do what teachers often do - shut my door and do what I can within the confines of my classroom with the students before me.

      But that is not fair to them.  It will not be fair to those who come after them.

      So I write, I talk, I educate, I lobby . . .  all on top of what I try to do to help my students learn, to make sense of the world around them.

      If I cannot do my teaching with integrity, then at some point I will decide to walk away, because I cannot in good conscience teach in a way that is harmful to them and to this nation.

      In this, too, I am not alone.

      What then for our public schools and the students therein?

      Of equal importance, what then for the future of this nation, especially if I am not alone?

      I wonder . . .

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:40:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What on earth was ever so hard to understand? (48+ / 0-)

        Small class size and early family intervention work so fast and so well in so many ways that benefit society as a whole. Longitudinal studies have confirmed it.

        The report by RAND Labor and Population says effective early childhood programs return more to society in benefits than they cost, by enabling youngsters to lead more successful lives and be less dependent on future government assistance. Researchers say this is because such programs help children improve their thinking skills, do better in school and develop socially.
        ....
        The report says high-quality early childhood programs can keep children out of expensive special education programs; reduce the number of students who fail and must repeat a grade in school; increase high school graduation rates; reduce juvenile crime; reduce the number of youngsters who wind up on welfare as adults; increase the number of students who go to college; and help adults who participated in the programs as children get better jobs and earn higher incomes.

        Some of the largest benefits came from the most expensive and comprehensive programs that provide services to children throughout their first five years of life. The researchers found, however, that even some small-scale, less expensive programs also provided benefits. In addition, more disadvantaged children tend to receive greater benefits from programs. The research team believes that its estimates of benefits are likely to be conservative.

        Hard to understand why the unrepentant closetcases and assorted unqualified asylum-dwellers we call elected representatives reject sound policy. It must be this:

        It turns out that at the tail end of the Clinton administration in 2000, Congress passed a new kind of tax credit called a New Markets Tax Credit. And what this allows is it gives an enormous federal tax credit to banks and equity funds that invest in community projects in underserved communities, and it’s been used heavily now for the last several years for charter schools. And I focused on Albany, New York, which in New York state is the district with the highest percentage of children in charter schools. Twenty percent of the schoolchildren in Albany are now attending charter schools. And I discovered that quite a few of the charter schools there have been built using these New Markets Tax Credits.

        And what happens is, the investors who put up the money to build the charter schools get to basically virtually double their money in seven years through a 39 percent tax credit from the federal government. In addition, this is a tax credit on money that they’re lending, so they’re collecting interest on the loans, as well as getting the 39 percent tax credit. They piggyback the tax credit on other kinds of federal tax credits, like historic preservation or job creation or Brownfields credits. The result is, you can put in $10 million and in seven years double your money.

        it's called  G R E E D, Ken...corrupt legislation enabling more profit for the already egregiously wealthy.

        In another, more philanthropic age, this would have been called a scandal. But children are easily violated, their families easily ripped off, and where's the harm if a few kids are actually helped. Besides, this is a generational venture, and the results of this experiment will not be disputable for thirty years or more, so the rich will also have the luxury of time to devour more public funds for their private gain. It's an orderly continuation of Reagan's privatization scams.

        •  I'm sorry if I can't get involved in the (17+ / 0-)

          details.

          The broader picture is such a gross criminal violation of plain common sense that the weeds get in the way of rational thinking.

          That's the problem with lies and deceit. If we even start to refute them, we just confirm bias.

          It weakens the basic truth of our overriding arguments all the time. And we are constantly on the defensive, unable to advance ideas that propose real solutions.

          Instead, our vigorous advocacy should advance clear and simple policy dicta that counter and thus expose the moral depravity of profit principles.

          "Competition" as a means to exact greater efficiency is a sham and a fatal deceit in our system.

          All profit motives are amoral - but they are usually immoral, greedy and self-serving as well - particularly where social ideals are concerned.

          Unless there is a case to be made for a higher moral outcome achievable only through greater profit, bullies for profit should collapse in disrepute against the larger goals of better health and better education. These should not be profit centers at all.

          •  Relying on Morality alone is a Sham (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            grimjc, karmsy, Uberbah

            The fact is everyone is not living up to a moral ideal even if they strive to. People fall into all kinds of dysfunctional patterns resulting in routine failure in the in spite of their best efforts. Teachers and administrators dumb down the work to make it easier for kids. Parents become complacent and assume the teacher will fix everything. The community at large thinks someone is doing the job so they don't need to get involved.

            All these morally sound people are failing in the absence of strong and effective leadership. That is the kind of leadership that produces the desired results. This isn't just about personalities it's also about methods. You can have great potential as a leader and fail due to bad strategy.

            Having the desire to teach children is not sufficient. Making some kind of tremendous effort is not sufficient. The only thing that is good enough are the things that actually work, and people are still trying to sort through those possibilities during this period of radical reform. Small class sizes by themselves are not the answer.

            •  Read the RAND study I linked to. (13+ / 0-)

                 * Gains in emotional or cognitive development for the child, typically in the short run, or improved parent-child relationships.
                 * Improvements in educational process and outcomes for the child.
                 * Increased economic self-sufficiency, initially for the parent and later for the child, through greater labor force participation, higher income, and lower welfare usage.
                 * Reduced levels of criminal activity.
                 * Improvements in health-related indicators, such as child abuse, maternal reproductive health, and maternal substance abuse.

              Better check the facts, then come back. Excellent results are coherent and pretty indisputable.

              I'm not really sure what you're disagreeing with.

            •  THERE IS NO DOUBT ABOUT WHAT WORKS!! (7+ / 0-)

              What's dubious is political education officials who are corrupting a system for the sake of rapacious private profit!

              What works and what doesn't work in education has been codified! Small class size and early intervention and remediation work! All that is required is that teachers be put in charge.

              Stronger unions are the answer!

              •  What happens when what works fails (0+ / 0-)

                It is not that easy. Small classes can not always be sustained and they don't always produce substantial results.

                State officials say easing class-size limits gives school districts more flexibility amid shrinking budgets. "There's no way around" temporarily increasing class sizes, said Kathy Cox, Georgia's education superintendent, at a conference last month. Georgia is proposing cutting funding to school districts by $700 million next fiscal year, so Ms. Cox is urging lawmakers to temporarily waive state-mandated class-size limits.

                Others say the benefits of smaller class sizes are unproven. "After 20 years, our children's performance hasn't been dramatically improved by these [class-size] mandates," said Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons in an interview. Last month, he estimated that removing the state's class-size limits could save Nevada as much as $127 million in the coming fiscal year.

                •  Anyone who says smaller class sizes are not (19+ / 0-)

                  important or critical to students success a) has an agenda and b) is lying. Plain and simple.

                  •  YEP... Lies and deceit win the day. (10+ / 0-)

                    It's even better when politicians do it for MONEY!

                    A thousand lobbyists will back them up and gag the social scientist with proof they're wrong - they do it with threats against their jobs and project funding!

                    I'm still not convinced that edtastic isn't one of them. His drivel is all over this diary.

                    •  His drivel is over EVERY education diary (13+ / 0-)

                      here on DKos. Charter schools will save education! (never mind that charter schools receive public funds and can actively discriminate in attendance) and unions = evil. It defies logic and common sense and I'm sick of it!

                      •  careful - depends where charters are (13+ / 0-)

                        some have admission by lottery, which limits how they can discriminate

                        however, most even under lotteries can exclude ELLs and SPED kids which makes the educational task somewhat easier - although there are some charters which focus on ELLs

                        and some require parents to make commitments to longer school days, parental involvement, and the like that are not within the power of public schools.

                        Despite all that, in general charters do NOT perform better than public schools even by the standard of student test scores.

                        And what you rarely have is how the kids who move to charters have performed compared to how they performed in the public school from which they moved.  In other words, it may be that the better scoring kids are the ones who move, thus advantaging the charter and disadvantaging the public school.

                        We do NOT have data that clearly indicates charter schools are better, in fact some what the opposite.

                        And we are allowing or even mandating expansion of charters (Race to the Top) without controlling for those things that have made the successful charters successful.

                        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:17:33 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Inner City Charter Schools are better (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          lakehillsliberal

                          Urban Charters in poor areas are better than public schools, but they are not better than public schools in the suburbs.

                        •  In Florida, my children with autism were not (14+ / 0-)

                          allowed to attend a charter school that was within our district because we were told the school "could not support" them. We also have family members in Florida whose son had to audition or provide portfolios to gain acceptance into a public school with a magnet program. Their local school was 'failing'. They were not "accepted" into the magnet programs and the result is that the county bussed their 10 year old child to a school an hour away.

                          Charters are also allowed to discriminate if they become "full". There have been several programs I researched requiring waiting lists of a year or more and the "good" charters are routinely full.

                          I believe in innovation, so I understand many people approach charters with the desire to innovate and improve outcomes. Some have done very well. But I imagine that if the same resources, support, commitment and funds were poured into the inner-city public schools, the same or better progress could be made.

                        •  You are making the wrong argument teacherken (0+ / 0-)

                          and you and teachers will lose if you continue down this path.  Wouldn't it make more sense to take the things that have succeeded in charter schools(parental involvement, longer school days, etc) and ask that they be implemented in all public schools in order for their to be a fair comparison.  Charter schools could act as a laboratory for all the experimentation that is currently going on in our public schools and is completely unmanageable in that environment.  

                          "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                          by lakehillsliberal on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:38:12 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Yeah (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            not this time

                            teachers never try to increase parent involvement.  Doesn't happen.

                            The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

                            by happymisanthropy on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:06:07 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  They can't require it and they should be able to. (0+ / 0-)

                            Teacherken made the point that charters can require parental involvement and it does make a huge difference in a child's success in school...no doubt about it.  By the same token, parents should expect teachers to give them weekly updates by phone or email...you cannot fix what you do not know about.

                            "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                            by lakehillsliberal on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:10:06 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Teachers often work 60-80 (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            NYCee

                            hours a week during the school year as it is. You're dumping more work on them. How many hours a week do you work for free at your job?

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

                            by Angela Quattrano on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:09:35 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I guess you have never worked in Corporate (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            CrissieP

                            America except there are no pensions and you can be fired at will instead of getting tenure after a couple of years.

                            "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                            by lakehillsliberal on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:41:15 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  the other thing...during the school year... (0+ / 0-)

                            we have the shortest school year in the developed world...

                            "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                            by lakehillsliberal on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:42:52 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

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

                            Do some school districts have tenure?  I taught for 32 years and had 32 years of teacher experience but this was not considered tenure and did not protect my job at all.

                          •  You've Worked In Corporate America? (0+ / 0-)

                            Please tell me, what does it feel like to receive a bonus? How about a promotion? I've been a teacher for the past twenty years, so I don't know anything about those things.

                            "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

                            by Reino on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:13:52 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You must be speaking of Wall Street....and as for (0+ / 0-)

                            bonuses...that ham at Christmas was wonderful.  Raises...maybe 3% a year if you did an incredible job.  Government employees...are doing better than most people in the private sector...that is the dirty little secret that no one is willing to acknowledge.  Teaching is about the only profession these days where seniority means anything...you can teach until retirement.  Most private sector jobs bounce people at 50.  So for all it's difficulties, most teachers I know really enjoy what they do and enjoy the perks(3 months off in summer, lots of holidays throughout the year and job security because of years on the job) of teaching.  They wouldn't trade it for anything.

                            "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                            by lakehillsliberal on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:23:39 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Let's Assume You're Right (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            teacherken, NYCee

                            Let's assume that teachers are treated better than people in other professions. By the most basic laws of economics, at least one of three things would have to be true:

                            1. So many people would choose to become teachers that every opening would be besieged with qualified applicants.
                            1. In order to control the number of teachers, education schools across the board would have extremely high standards.
                            1. Working conditions and salaries for teachers and/or in corporate America would be a tightly guarded secret, so people would choose corporate careers even though it was not in their best interest.

                            Which of these three conditions has been met? Or is there another possibility I missed?

                            "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

                            by Reino on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 02:58:46 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Not necessarily...here is the truth..our teacher (0+ / 0-)

                            training sucks.  It makes it hard to be successful and that can be a frustrating thing to have happen to you, early in your career.  You give up before you get over the hump.   Second, the media has made teaching a less than desirable profession by playing up the downsides and not playing up the benefits.  As I said, the teachers I know love it, they are secure, they love their schedule and they just work around the negatives but most of them are extremely well trained.  They had post graduate degrees in other areas before they even started teaching.  

                            "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                            by lakehillsliberal on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 02:08:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            teacherken

                            I am another teacher who likes his job, and you are pointing towards some serious problems. That doesn't change the basic economics of what I said before--we do not have enough qualified teachers filling the teaching positions--which is not being addressed by the current media coverage. The problem is the agenda being put forward by Waiting For Superman, Education Nation, Winfrey, Gates, and Duncan.

                            Because I teach at a public neighborhood school where students are getting a decent education, my situation does not fit into their narrative. We are being told that public neighborhood schools are bad and that charter schools are good despite the evidence which shows that our public neighborhood schools are a mixed bag and our charter schools are a mixed bag of roughly equal quality.

                            I would love to see a movie, TV special, a few billionaires, and Secretary of Education focused on improving teacher training, both at education schools and when teachers start their careers, and more generally on ways that we can make teachers more effective. I'm not seeing that at all.

                            "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

                            by Reino on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 07:21:26 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't believe this is common (0+ / 0-)

                            This is not the sort of thing you could provide evidence for, so I don't know how you can claim it.

                            I do know that when my kids were in high school this is what I found:

                            1.  The only parking for parents during the school day was at the far end of the parking lot.  Teachers cars filled up every space near the front of the school.   There was no attempt to involve parents.
                            1. I was specifically told that I should provide 24 hour advance notice before coming to a teachers room before or after class.
                            1. I freely admit that I ignored this request, but it was useless anyway.  The teachers were not in their rooms until seconds before or after the bells rang.   At the end of school, the doors were locked and the teachers gone within five minutes after the kids had bolted.
                            1. The teacher parking lot emptied out almost completely at the end of the instruction day.

                            This does not give the impression of hard working people struggling to complete their task on their own time.

                            Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

                            by bobtmn on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:45:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Unbelievable (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            teacherken, NYCee, blueoasis

                            1. You know, teachers have to carry tons of crap into school every day? Does "involving parents" mean to you that parents deserve the equivalent of handicapped parking spaces or you won't come in? That doesn't sound very much like a dedication to the education of your kids.
                            2. Yeah, teachers have loads of stuff to do all over the building, and it isn't all in the classroom. In fact, they actually let them go home and do their correcting and prep work at home after the day ends. So if you just show up, they're likely not there.
                            3. Of course they were not in the classroom. They were probably waiting in line for the only working copy machine.
                            4. See 2.

                            The point of your little tantrum seems to be that you expect teachers to be in the classroom 24/7 so you won't have to make arrangements in advance to talk to one. My heart bleeds for privileged parents who can't get away with treating their kids' teachers like McDonald's employees.

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

                            by Angela Quattrano on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:29:37 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This is your website? Are you kidding? (0+ / 0-)

                            I thought you might be a real principal, so I visited your site.    Didn't find much illuminating, but I'm glad I was able to get a free tongue lashing from a professional!

                            http://principalquattrano.com/

                            This is a femdom fantasy school where young males are sent for failure to achieve. In other words, when they flunked out of school at the same time their peers—at least the female ones—were graduating with honors, somebody decided it was time for a lot of tough love.

                            So they shipped them to us to put the fear of powerful women in them and straighten them right out.

                            We train them, break them like the lower forms of life that they are, until they are docile and obedient.

                            Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

                            by bobtmn on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:04:40 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Its called an open mind, try it... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Balto

                      I know our progressive pet issues and points of view I was raised on them. I was raised with the ideals of lifting people out of poverty, and rehabilitation instead of incarceration. I believe in those ideals, but I am not going to reject every other idea because some conservative might have said it. I accept both philosophies must exist and compete to maintain a balance so at times we will move to the right on issues and at other times to the left.

                      Clearly the left has most of the solutions since intellectual conservatism has gone extinct in the mainstream. It has been replaced by sell outs, snake oil sales men and, charlatans. Nonetheless, they occasionally say something that is not obviously rooted in lining somebodies pockets.

                      I read an article on class sizes in California earlier. Thats where I first read that the gains were not substantial considering the enormous cost. We must distinguish gains from significant gains. I just read a study seems to demonstrate the gains from head start vanish over 3 years. That is news to me I am not going to just ignore it either. I think the three years improved performance is worth it anyway.

                      Ideal solutions don't cost more money or don't cost a lot more money. Getting school budgets up is not easy especially at the state level where property taxes are involved.

                •  Yes (7+ / 0-)

                  but when there's a war in Iraq, billions go to the newest bomber.

                  Come ON. The comparative cost of hiring and training a new teacher is abysmally small compared to the cost of that bomber, its staff, its maintenance...

                  We are making choices on a daily basis as a country.

                  As for Gibbons - don't take his bullshit at face value. Follow the money. The article did; it doesn't reference actual test scores or longitudinal studies of the students involved in smaller classes.

                  It's IMPOSSIBLE for scores and grades not to improve when a teacher has the freedom to give students more attention. It works. Parents know it, kids know it, and teachers know it. The only ones who ignore it at politicians... and they betray their own memories thereby.

            •  It's all about morality (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ezdidit

              Poor people and people of color just aren't perceived as the same as those whose children can attend the private schools of their choice. The children of the lower classes need strict, arbitrary rules and punishment for failure, lots of punishment, lots of indoctrination, and no free time in which to get in trouble. They have no potential to advance in society, so we should not delude them into getting uppity or putting on airs. They have a lifetime of grinding hard work ahead of them, and it wouldn't do for them to start thinking, which might make them question their lot in life and the powers that be which have put them where they are.

              They are, in essence, considered to be born morally inferior. Life will be a prison for them, and the sooner they accept that the sooner they will get on with becoming profit centers productive citizens.

              Education reform is the new abstinence education.  

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

              by Angela Quattrano on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:05:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  ...continuation of Reagan's privatization scams (19+ / 0-)

          Absolutely. At a certain point, we bump up against the same old you-know-what we face on seemingly every other issue:  the hard right doesn't value anything "the gubmint" does, and in fact, tries to sabotage it even when there's minimal personal gain involved. When there's huge personal gain available, prepare for an all-out assault. This extends even to the one federal undertaking the right more-or-less supports: waging foreign wars. Just ask the Iraqis who've met Blackwater.

          There's a growing number of right-wing American ideologues who openly oppose public education per se.

          Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction -- Pascal

          by RJDixon74135 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:15:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Forgetting the "hard right" for a moment... (3+ / 0-)

            New Markets was a great idea. But it has been corrupted and deployed against the very public interests it was designed to help.

            Instead, New Markets and other write-offs, are being used to exploit the public interest with tax avoidance on the one side with exploitation of state tax funding of public schools to indirectly fund private charters on the other.

            (The "hard right" KKK & fundies is a 23% marginal factor, offset by immutable old socialist do-gooders & war tax protesters ...like me.)

            Most Christians don't identify as hard right at all.

            •  If charters were working (7+ / 0-)

              we wouldn't even be having this conversation. The fact is results show charters are not working.

              So there is a renewed villainization of teh unionz again. And for what? FOR MONEY!!

              •  Charters schools are working (0+ / 0-)

                IN poor urban neighborhoods where it really matters.

                Study: On average, charter schools do no better than public schools
                But the study also found more nuanced evidence that the most effective charter schools are those serving lower-income students, especially in urban areas.

                •  yeah but YOU are misinterpreting (12+ / 0-)

                  that the most effective charters are in such neighborhoods is not the same as saying most in those neighborhoods are effective, which is what you are trying to push out.  The data does not support the argument you are making.  Mere location in such a neighborhood is no guarantee of quality.

                  "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:19:09 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  No, they aren't (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger, Daddy Bartholomew, Uberbah

                  I don't know what you are quoting since you don't link, but I've seen study after study in this state that shows they are largely failures — and it's never been proved they provide better education in urban areas on the whole. I know that you are one of a familiar group of posters here who loves to bash teachers and public education on a regular basis, but you have never really provided accurate underpinning for your hostility, so I can only assume it's ideological.

                  De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

                  by anastasia p on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:12:42 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Any situation that filters (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  big spoiled baby, ezdidit

                  out the concerned and supportive parents and students from the ones who are habitually absent and who disrupt classes on a regular basis will of course show improvement.  If public schools could do this, they would show improvement also.  The fact is that public schools take every single student, and no other school entity does that.

                  Lawrence O'Donnell was on tv this morning and said he used to be a public school teacher and said that the effects of the charter schools probably can't be duplicated over all of the public schools nationally.  He mentioned the breakdown of families and support of schools and that in past days, women had few choices in the work world and would teach.  Now they are taking advantage of other opportunities that pay better (and have more respect.  He is one of the few pundits that hasn't fallen for the "blame the teachers" message.

                  Oprah had Michelle Rhee, John Legend,and Bill Gates on her show this week with the usual "teachers are the reason" talk, especially for Rhee.  I love John Legend and his music, but what does he know about teaching?  The same goes for Bill Gates and the other business people who seem to be brought out every time a discussion is started.  

                •  Lots of charter schools (0+ / 0-)

                  and private schools are horrible. They have no standards with which they need to comply. Looking at the few that are successful does not change that.

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

                  by Angela Quattrano on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:12:51 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Oh, I fully agree, ezdidit (3+ / 0-)

              New Markets was a great idea. But it has been corrupted and deployed against the very public interests it was designed to help.

              And, I appreciate the New Markets example you referenced, especially because I was not previously familiar with it. I'm just saying I'm totally unsurprised to see a good idea corrupted by the greedy.

              BTW, I like how your mind works and the ample support you provide for your POV, so I'll be watching for your diaries in the future. Writers like you are the reason I read DK. Thanks for your time and effort.  

              Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction -- Pascal

              by RJDixon74135 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:42:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  BS (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RJDixon74135

                There might be some abuses, but to indict NMTC as a failed strategy is wrong.

                I am on the board of a non profit that was able to build a new club house to serve thousands of needy kids because $2m we received through a NMTC.   Did some financial institutions profit?  So what, it served a greater good.

                •  Good to know that, too, Balto (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ezdidit

                  Of course, doing some good doesn't necessarily mean the process is uncorrupted, but I'm glad the needy  kids got the club house, by hook or by crook, as the saying goes. Anyway, you and ezdidit have piqued my curiosity about New Markets, so I know what I'll be chewing on for a while. I love google, but feel free to post any links you think will take me in the correct direction.

                  Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction -- Pascal

                  by RJDixon74135 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 02:02:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Not voting is just going to accelerate (13+ / 0-)

        the destruction of the schools, and while I understand the seemingly intractable stance of people who should know better, I find that unacceptable.

        De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

        by anastasia p on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:33:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's a hard line to sell to teachers (19+ / 0-)

          who listen to the likes of Arne Duncan and don't hear any difference between his BS and whatever teabaggers have to say about the public schools. If Ds and Rs are selling the same crap, why should teachers vote?

          Oh, yes - because they care about other issues? Yup, teachers, you gotta take it on the chin and go to the back of the line like so many other people ...

          I want to join this political party - where is it?

          by h bridges on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:43:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  IF you block reform then and things dont improve (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Balto

          People will again be back to blaming the teachers unions. How do you think the teachers unions became such easy targets? Opposing charter schools and vouchers. Opposing non union teachers involvement in education. Opposing accountability through pay for performance.

          Opposing these things had public support because people naturally like teachers. We all had teachers and many people credit them for their success in life.

          Former supporters of the teachers unions are turning on them as a last resort after decades of failure. They seek to do the things they were prohibited from doing while avoiding the wrath of the union because everything else didn't seem to get the job done. When teachers unions are losing the support of liberals it is time to reflect on the Union's positions. Taking the Unions's word for it is not going to get popular in the face of failure no matter who is causing it since staying within the union's bounds didn't prevent the failure.

        •  Obvious that we need to fix our schools ... (7+ / 0-)

          We've been coasting for almost half a century on the fruits of an earlier generation's foresight and hard work. Now we think we can stay on top technologically without putting in the work, and it just won't happen.

          We think we deserve the best, but don't want to pay for it:

          I write this from my home.  I will not go to school today.  It is a furlough day.  It should be a professional development day, a paid professional development day.  We are not losing instructional time, not directly.  Yet we are expected to fulfill all our responsibilities, including those that cannot be done during the instructional time, only now we must do it on our own time, for less money.  ...

          Our schools are short of money.  That is why so many states are agreeing to the destructive policies under Race to the Top -  they are desperate for money.

          Well, we've been caught stealing from our kids, and the schools need help. It's obvious to most of us that our prosperity and even the quality of leaders we can get ourselves to elect derive from our education. It's obvious to most of us that our economic futures are tied together in the global market: rich neighborhoods and poor, blue states and red.

          What I don't have is an answer to those cries for help. We can raise funds locally for our own schools, we can vote for our own representatives, we can write LTEs and shout in the street. But, it will take some thinking to find a way to get the rest of the country to understand this like we do. I will continue thinking about this and working for this.

          Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

          by chimpy on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:35:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  without going totally off the track of the diary (14+ / 0-)

            I am on record as wanting a radical rethinking of how we do public schooling.  In fact, the so-called reformers are far more status quo with their insistence upon the approaches that have been emphasized and pushed for more than two decades and have contributed to the problems we are now encountering.  Their policies have made things worse, and in some cases directly contributed to the increasing dropout rate.

            Now, if people would let those of us in the trenches be more involved in discussions about shaping educational policy, things might be very different.

            One thing we would tell you is to stop looking for silver bullets, for the one magical way that will solve all of our problems.  If nothing else, teachers will be able to strongly remind you of the very diverse needs of the students who appear in our classrooms and why that means we should have the flexibility (and the training) to adjust what we are doing to meet the needs of our children.  

            That is just a small taste of what we could offer, if only our voices were included.

            "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:23:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, please do experiment on our kids. (4+ / 0-)

              I mean that seriously. Try some new things, find out what works, keep the best ideas, and build on them for more experiments. Not only will their own kids eventually benefit from the improved methods. So will they benefit right now!

              My kids will still learn, about as well or maybe better than they would without the experimental curriculum and methods. But, they will also notice that they've got a teacher who cares enough to stick his neck out and try his best. That's one thing that gets kids to really pay attention.

              But, most days I feel like the battle at hand is to teach America that education even matters to them. Grown-ups have got theirs, and they don't want to pay for a new generation to get the same benefits.

              With a decent roof and desk, and maybe an aide in the classroom and and honest-to-credentials librarian on campus, the bigger efforts might get a little easier. There's no time to prepare a paper for a conference if you're in all weekend photocopying forms and fixing the windows.

              Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

              by chimpy on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:36:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  fyi, that is what "reform" is doing (3+ / 0-)

                right now.  It is imposing things without a track record.

                A proper use of the chartering process should be used to try different things.  In fact, to a large degree that is not happening, which is why you get charter chains with cookie cutter curricula that are rigid.

                The original intent of charters was to empower teachers to try things without being locked in to a central office mentality that I have heard expressed by one former superintendent in the region where I live that when he walked down the hall he should be able to know exactly what page every teacher was on according to a mandated pacing guide.  Why the hell hold back if the kids already get it and how the hell do you simply move on if they don't?  And yet that is the effective direction of much of what has passed for "reform" in the past several decades.

                And fyi, every time a teacher brings in a lesson to a new group of kids, s/he is experimenting on them.  It may have worked wonderfully with that teacher, even the period before, but if one follows it blindly and ignore the kids ...  which is why one as a teacher needs to be paying attention to the kids and making lots of adjustments and even major changes on the fly.

                "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:42:51 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  I have a rant on that subject stewing... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              chimpy

              in the back of my head that I may turn into a diary some day with the title "Students are not Toasters!"

              I'm not a teacher, but I still remember my time as a non-statistically average student, and I am in engineering, and involved in actually making things, and know a thing or two about why the methods of making stuff don't apply, even if the management people like the buzzwords involved.

            •  Let those of us in the trenches......... (0+ / 0-)

              When I first began my teaching career, I was in an inner-city school where young white teachers were placed to satisfy some rule from downtown.  The turnover rate of teachers was over 50% every year.

              The "powers that be" downtown came to our school and asked, "What can be done to keep teachers in these schools?"  One of our suggestions was they needed to understand what we were going through while trying to teach these students.  Why don't you without revealing your position in the downtown administration, come and teach at our school for a month and see what it is all about.

              Needless to say, they were not interested.  I find this is common.  We have the answers to something we know nothing about!

      •  No need to apologize for writing from the heart. (4+ / 0-)

        The only thing that will save the sorry asses of the Democrats is the Republicans.

        by ThAnswr on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:01:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you countless times over, TK! (5+ / 0-)

        Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

        I have wanted to write a diary expressing the same exact anger and why it exists, and have simply been too overwhelmed to write it. I had hoped I might attempt to do so today... but when I came here to try, I saw your diary on the rec list, thank you very much!

        Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

        by NYCee on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:20:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some content to diary I might have written... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger, angstall, Jakkalbessie

          (Please be advised that, right now, I am immune to any possibly forthcomimg criticisms of "too much bold!"... Thank you.)

          As I was toying with a title for my possible diary, what sprang to mind was a five alarm warning with the word "tsunami" connected to of an attack on teachers/unions/public schools, and "coming to a theater near you." That would be an advance warning of "Waiting for fucking Superman" and so much more. So much, much more.

          For example, I just caught the tail end of Lawrence O'Donnell, on Morning Joe, saying he believes in vouchers, to "save that one child"... To be 'fair,' he did begin to come to the defense of unions and teachers, after everybody had glommed onto his remarks, with fresh teacher/union bashing manure to sling. But, oh whoops! All out of time, time to end the segment. And so it fucking goes.

          What newly minted education "expert" Lawrence ODonnell did have time to say, along with his blessing to private education over public, was that all the best and the brightest women, using guest Peggy Noonan and frickin Mika as examples, also at the MJ table, were the sorts who used to teach, but once women's lib hit the scene, such folks went off to be lawyers, CEOs... and idiotic WSJ columnists and "news" hosts, it seems... O'Donnell slathers teh butter onto Peggy "Teacher" Noonan, who he says would be an A+++ history teacher... (Spare us, please! I can just see her 'quality' lessons revisionism on the Gipper, delivered in her smarmy verbiage and tones...), while Mika would do a superior job of running a school. (She is qualified by her anti soft drink stance, see?)

          It came as no surprise that O'Donnell's highly unfortunate remarks cued the typical teacher/union-bashing that is unleashed on Morning Joe every time  education is the topic, with Miss Peggy using the now ubiquitous, media-reinforced line that teachers' unions are there to protect their members, they dont give a rat's arse about the kids. (As if all those teacher members of which the unions are comprised are completely unconcerned about the education of children, as well as sound public education systems, parents, etc. - as well as their own growth in better meeting their students' needs - which would be much clearer if only the arseholes in charge would just LET teachers TEACH!)

          Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

          by NYCee on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:59:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have so much more to say... (cont.) (0+ / 0-)

            So, the usually ignored but currently hot!-hot!-hot! topic of  "EDUCATION" in these United States is overflowing with "reforms", such as ESEA, which MUST include teacher/teacher-union bashing along with the whack remedy of the beloved charter cure (not) and the horrendously flawed idea of tying teacher evaluations to the almighty (blind, deaf and dumb... as in stupid) DATA from students' test scores (gee, this should promote collegiality, given that the pre K teacher only has to worry about how much progress Kid X made since he was at home with Mom, and there is NO DATA on that, so that teacher gets a pass, along with countless others, while others teach under the Sword of Damocles), along with big increases in merit pay for showing "progress" (lol).

            Well, thank you from the bottom of my formerly-voted-Dem-heart (for this nightmare) PRESIDENT OBAMA, (I say Obama, not Duncan, because Duncan was picked by Obama and gets his green light from him), and all your go-along Dems who are legislating this crap in states around the country, so they can be Race to the Top winners, a la New York, 2nd round (Stand strong, California Teachers, despite the LA Times horrendous attacks on you - losers are winners in this dreadful, crass Dash for the Cash, and one day, as with the big popular national push for war on Iraq, so too will this bogus ed "reform" be seen as so much bullshite creating so much damage.)

            Special thanks also (in the "kiss my sweet arse" category) to all those big UNION leaders, like Randi Weingarten of the AFT and Michael Mulgrew of the UFT, who are selling teachers out right and left to be on board for Obama's Race to the Top. It is Randi Weingarten's actions that seem most deplorable and indefensible to me, given what she is doing to teacher union protections - something she was supposed to have based her life's work on defending (See: the hell she brokered for DC teachers, which the rightwing press crows about, with kudos to her).

            I can only imagine Weingarten is positioning herself to run for Democratic office in the near future, as she has completely sold out teachers and is racing around the nation adding fuel to the rightwing Race to the Top, using her clout as head of the AFT to coerce local unions who resist RttT's demands into signing on. She has been working over the (laudably resistant) UTLA (LA teachers union) lately, to get them to cave, too.

            Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

            by NYCee on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:05:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  (cont) Fin... We are getting it from all sides! (0+ / 0-)

              The LA Times shamefully used crap data to publish teachers names with their students' test scores - there are 6,000 teachers that the paper had the audacity to publicly parade in the town square and rate as "least effective" to "most effective" (August, Sunday edition).

              With this latest vile strain of irresponsible and counterproductive media propaganda thwacking at teachers/unions in concert with  Obama/Duncan go-alongs (for RttT $$$ in these cash strapped times -- but it aint worth it, much as it may seem irresistible... it truly is not), such as LA district heads and assorted local pols,, both GOPs AND Dems, the mainstream media - all joining in to beat up the UTLA union and its leader for behaving RIGHT - enter Randi Weingarten.

              Weingarten shows up after these teachers have gotten the Mother of All (undeserved) Beatings, from all sides, to massage them to throw in the towel - agree to more charters and tying teacher evaluations to students' rdg and math scores. If she gets another notch in her belt ( as Obama/Dem henchwoman) she will emerge and proceed to spin it out of both sides of her mouth, as she is infamous for doing (with dreams of higher office that much closer)

              Watch them. Watch them carefully. Watch them ALL carefully.

              Oppose Obama's Awful, Rightwing, Education "Reforms!"

              We are getting it from all sides. (Not just teachers, all those who care about public services and the middle class's survival...)

              The tsunami will be Waiting for Superman and the attendant flood of eager beaver "reform-minded" folks who stampede to hop on the bandwagon", such as movie reviewers, politicians, "reporters" and multitudinous lightweight-bigmouth opinioneers (so many experts on education in our nation... who have never taught a day in their lives, including Duncan) who will inundate us, starting today, with an even greater toxic wave of propaganda that will serve to kill public education, further diminish unions and the middle class - and HURT not only teachers, but public education, in general. And, oh yeah, children!

              ADVANCE WARNING to all those who care to be active in saving our ed system/beleagered middle class from hapless more-Bush-than-Bush Dem "reforms":

              NBC and MSNBC are unrolling a week of "EDUCATION" converage", as constantly touted on Morning Joe. His merry band of fans of Obama, Duncan, Bush, Spelling, Mayor Bloomberg (R? D? what the hell!) Chancellor Klein (neither Bloomberg or Klein had ed background, yet both are running NYC's ed system... into the ground - Bloomberg truly sucks on Education: SEE: test scores plummet in NYC when dumbed down test is dumped. Whoops!). The MJ Crew and guests like Heilemann, et al are gearing up to beat up on teachers, Monday thru Friday, all next week. Bet on it!

              And there will be so much more bashing, from all corners.

              Remember all the moaning by Dems about our present day GOP as the "Party of NO"? How they refuse to cooperate, wont act in a civil and bipartisan spirit. Hellloooooo! Over here, the door marked Education Reform! We've got us some glistening, seamless, high octane bipartisanship right here - one big yes, yes, YES instead of no, no, NO from the Republicans to the Democrats, on this issue.

              If Bush were doing what Obama is doing to our school system, if the GOP were spearheading this horrendous amping up of NCLB, the folks on this board would be going nuts in outrage. Then it would be a terrible policy, enacted by an evil leader/party, supported by an ignorant media/public.

              Those were the days!

              Given what we've now got, here is what a lot of us are saying:

              If they (Obama + most elected Dems) cant act like Dems, they cant expect to be voted for as DEMS! See?

              PS - READ Diane Ravitch... a search will do ya for a LOT. She is the opposition's champion, at this time.

              (I have provided no links this time. Just fire up your search engine like I did over the summer, and before that, too. There is a lot of criticism and anger out there, if you care to get past the  Media's Iron Curtain, like you did in the lead up to the Iraq War (hopefully).

              Of course, this is not as horrible as unjustified, preventive war, but it is similar to that fucked up chapter of "do-good-ism" in our nation's past, in that it is bogus and bad for us, and yet, the media and both parties are stupidly supporting and hawking it...

              Obama's ed "reforms" will do great harm to education - even if you care only about that and care nothing about teachers, unions or the middle class...  I have NO doubt.

              Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

              by NYCee on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:25:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Redo! Didnt mean to keep commas. (0+ / 0-)

                When I revised the blockquoted sentence, they no longer belonged.

                And I really have no problem saying this again, sans nasty commas:

                Oppose Obama's Awful Rightwing Education Reforms!!!

                In fact, it cant be said often enough.

                Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

                by NYCee on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:34:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  This is just a part of "starve the beast" (15+ / 0-)

        mentality by the far right.  If you don't put the
        proper allocations into education, things will start
        to fall apart (simple enough).  This makes privatization
        so much more preferable to the population that can
        afford it and "only" affects those who cannot pay for
        private education.  Just one more movement to a class
        system in this country.

      •  I am retired and still (9+ / 0-)

        the level of anger I feel is quite high.  Forty years in education, and yet I feel that I have to somehow justify my life's work to many who truly seem clueless.

        Thankfully with social media like FB, I hear more often now from former students. I get thank yous, and I get to talk to the adults that I can only remember much of the time as 12 year olds.  

        Children are not widgets and education is not a business.  It is an art.  Children are unique and what works beautifully with one may or may not work with another, even if the measured intelligence is the same.  Any observant parent can tell you that each of their children is unique in how they grow, learn, play, understand.  

        I am glad I am retired as I expect my level of anger would be even greater.   This administration, when it comes to education, is no better than the last.  

        Teachers, the good ones especially, know that the results of their hard work may not show for years...and the prospects will be affected by many other things over which no one, the student, teacher or parent may have control.  So when after many years, you get a note, or a phone call, or an e-mail saying thank you, the euphoric feeling of a job well done is appreciated.  

        The current thinking that there is some magical method that works and works immediately is nonsensical.  

        My heart is with teachers now.  I feel your pain, frustration and along with you I am angry.

    •  I feel your pain, Ken (22+ / 0-)

      A teacher in our inner-city school system came over the other day to look at some photos I'd taken and we sat and talked about her challenges and the way teachers are treated. When I told her how angry the coordinated teacher bashing made me, she was visibly grateful that I said that. I don't know any talented young people who want to go into teaching anymore – why go into a difficult, underpaid profession where you are expected to solve all of society's ills and talked about like a criminal if you don't? Just go to law school is the conclusion most young people I know come to.

      De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

      by anastasia p on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:19:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do know good young people going into teaching (17+ / 0-)

        we still see them come into our building as student teachers from the U of MD College Park.  I note that my three fellow union reps (I am the senior rep) range in experience from about 4 years to perhaps 10-12 years of teaching.  I believe that for two of the three this was their first teaching job.

        What is of more concern is those who are good and potentially great teachers who decide to leave.  I am not talking about those who come to schools with only a 2-year commitment through things like TFA.   I am talking teachers I see walk away after 4 or 5 or even more years out of frustration.  Or they start families and want to be able to devote time to that.

        We are lucky in our building to have a number of us who came to teaching relatively late after careers elsewhere.  Some have children at least in high school if not beyond.  Others, like me, are able to teach the way we do because we do not have children of our own.

        But I agree that the bashing and the denigration does not encourage people to consider the career.

        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:25:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know two young people (5+ / 0-)

          already having doubts who quit after Rhode Island. Why go into a challenging profession where you are constantly blamed and punished for things you can't control?

          De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

          by anastasia p on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:35:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Daughter is doing that internship (8+ / 0-)

          in school psych and is very dedicated to your district, Ken, even though she could be heading toward clinical psych at a lot more money or other districts where the days were easier to get through.

          She tells me, "I'm not getting the doctorate to help rich kids at a private school get over feeling underprivileged."

        •  The great teachers who leave vs the rest (0+ / 0-)

          We have to stop seeing the world through elite goggles. When we talk about the number of minority doctors, and executives and forget that 99% of people are probally working other kinds of jobs that are essential to maintain the society. The same goes for teaching, we can't focus on just saving the best teachers when we need every teacher to be good enough to get the job done even if they cant do it as good as the best.

          My sister saw a teacher break down after 2 weeks with her first class. Luckily it provided a full time position for one of her former coworkers who was excessed the year before. She moved in immediately to replace her.

          Who got excessed? All the newest hires regardless of performance. They continue to pay them and send them around like gypsy teachers unless they land a permanent position.

          Send the newest teachers to wander without a class of their own regardless of performance, that is the Union way...

            •  I am anti nay sayers (0+ / 0-)

              I will let these people reform their heart out and see what works even if they try the same idea ten times one of them might get it right to teach the rest. Trashing the whole reform movement is not going to get the kids a damn thing. At least the country is paying attention and all those involved in the education process will be under more scrutiny. This is something teachers should get used too along with everybody else. When we took teachers for granted we praised them while paying no attention to the work they were doing everyday. Now that people don't take them for granted they also don't assume good performance is a given.

              We need this reform movement to continue for better or worse. There will be lots of uncomfortable changes and chances are the longer you have been in the system the less you will like it.

              •  and in the same time they will damage 10X as many (0+ / 0-)

                as they may conceivably help?

                Tell you what -  you can put your kids in such a setting, but stop imposing on everyone else's kids.

                You should read Valerie Strauss's blog this morning, where she has crossposted a piece by Diane Ravitch.  Fenty, who hired and back Rhee, was heavily backed by whites, and more heavily rejected by blacks.  Look at the racial makeup of the public schools and the only way to interpret that is that the parents upon whose kids Rhee and Fenty were imposing a particular approach rejected that approach for their kids.  So unless you want to edge towards racism and say that those black parents don't know what is best for your kids, you have a problem.

                Again, put YOUR kids whereever the hell you want.

                Under Pierce V Sisters you have that right.

                But maybe you had better pay attention to those parents who despite all the attempts to drive them away from traditional public schools still have a higher opinion of public education than they do the so-called "reform" agenda, including that pushed by Arne Duncan.

                "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:48:00 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  No, edtastic is just anti public education (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, ezdidit

              He's made it obvious over and over.

              De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

              by anastasia p on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:14:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I have no expectations for this diary (24+ / 0-)

    my name as author at most means that some people will click and at least read above the fold.

    There are other current issues that people may feel are far more important.

    My writing may not connect with others.

    Some simply may be tired of hearing my voice.

    I do not control any of these except my writing, for which I do not apologize - remember, I am tired, worn down, even as I am angry.

    I do what I can.  

    You will do what you think you should.  I may disagree, but I will not judge.  I am not you.

    I think this matters, which is why I have expended the time and the effort, and perhaps wasted the electrons.

    Now I have to get on with what I can do within my limited scope of action.  It may be a furlough day.  Perhaps I should not do anything related to my students.  But just as I do school work on weekends and holidays, so will I today.  I have papers and tests to grade, then planning to do for next week.

    Live long and prosper.

    Be well.

    Hopefully experience some joy.

    "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:44:50 AM PDT

    •  and while I have no expectation (17+ / 0-)

      I am pleased and honored when others find what I write of value, and indicate that in various ways

      - offering supportive comments

      - recommending the diary

      - using the links provided to share and tweet the piece so that others might see it

      Of course I want as many others as possible to read what I wrote.  After all, I posted it on a public forum because I wanted it to be read.

      Thus saying I have no expectations does not mean I do not have aspirations -  I would like this, and similar pieces by others - widely read.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:07:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well and passionately written (0+ / 0-)

        Your diary (and the excerpts from the administrator's essay) much more eloquently make the argument I was trying to the other day, when my wife called me into the parlor to watch Michelle Rhee and Davis Guggenheim on Oprah.

        Rhee and Guggenheim pushed all the right buttons (for my wife) - basically "Think of the children!" stated several different ways. I merely pointed out that Rhee's proposal to change the salary structure for teachers (the so-called "merit pay" ploy) in exchange for surrendering tenure, without any evidence that shows that the changes being suggested would lead to improved outcomes was sure to be a non-starter.

        You would have thought that I had just suggested that we boil our own children.

        Are there bad teachers in every district? Yes. Is merit pay the answer? No. That premise assumes that all children are equally capable of learning in the same way, and all we have to do is teach the "right" way.

        I come by my cynicism naturally - drop by drop over a lifetime of disappointment.

        by Turbonerd on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:12:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Tough to get past the (6+ / 0-)

      elephant in the room--that we're not going to need all these kids, anyway, from an economic standpoint.

      and I wait for them to interrupt my drinking from this broken cup

      by le sequoit on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:26:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh yes we will - (10+ / 0-)

        if they do not earn enough to participate as consumers the entire economy will suffer.

        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:30:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Ouch. (5+ / 0-)

        But it's true. Our discourse is so debased, I think there probably are people, "serious" people, Somebodies, who think of others of their fellow citizens as being essentially unnecessary.

        I do not exist because it was necessary for me to exist. I exist because I exist. What is necessary is that my right to exist, and the rights that accompany my existence, be honored.

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:31:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I did (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanL, joycemocha, divineorder

          qualify to purely economic terms. Lots of people are angry over what is going on their milieus. Priorities are subject to folks' sense of where we are headed, and that sense doesn't include anything resembling even average employment conditions we've enjoyed in the past.

          and I wait for them to interrupt my drinking from this broken cup

          by le sequoit on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:41:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Right you are. Wish the O Admin and Dem Leaders (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            joycemocha

            were rolling out a big direct hire program, industrial policy, and green energy laws just now before the election....

            •  No way to do direct hire (0+ / 0-)

              I don't believe any of the public employee unions would allow any sort of direct hire of people to do useful work unless those people were hired in permanent positions under union rules.

              Any temporary employment program, even if it would bring PHD's into the public schools for $15 per hour would be opposed by the unions who would see it as a threat to their own jobs.

              Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

              by bobtmn on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:27:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  you do not know what you are talking about (6+ / 0-)

                since direct hiring occurs in far more places than you realize, for one thing.  And for another, there are many places where there are no functioning unions because they are in right to work states.

                But you make another serious error.  Just because someone has content knowledge does NOT mean s/he knows how to communicate that knowledge to the students in a K-12 classroom.  I have had 5 student teachers.  The one who was most brilliant, junior Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude, could not function as a teacher because he refused to acknowledge where his students were and tried to teach as if they were his intellectual peers.  Some were actually brighter than him, but got totally turned off by his approach.  

                Teaching involves many skills, the easiest of which to gain is content knowledge.  Yes, we want our teachers to have content knowledge, but to teach a 7th grade history class acutally requires more understanding about the processes of learning, of how children develop, than it does extensive content knowledge.  

                That said, the issue should not necessarily be credentialing in the ordinary sense of the word.  But it is so-called 'reform' policy that has exacerbated the problem.  The requirement under No  Child Left Behind that all teachers be "highly qualified" has meant in some cases keeping fully certified teachers who are incompetent over people who could be provisionally certified and really do an effective job.

                Remember, issuing credentials is often devolved to colleges and universities, for many of whom it is a cash cow, and they and their boards will fight tooth and nail against having the power to issue credentials removed from 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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:29:47 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks for rising to the teachable moment, ken (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Balto
                  Re:
                  "you do not know what you are talking about"

                  I hope you have a better way of reaching your kids in class.

                  That said, I'll respond to your points:

                  1. I was not implying that the PhD would replace any teacher, just that they would be brought into the schools.  I was thinking more along the lines of lectures, symposiums, story telling, inspiring, mentoring etc.  You made the assumption that I was saying they would do the job of a regular teacher.

                  2. Yes, I know there are right-to-work states.   In fact, I know quite a bit more than you presume.   The fact that there are right to work states does not mean that national unions would allow the federal government to create a program that would send PHD's into the public schools at $15 per hour  as a temporary employment or public service program.

                  I respect your choice to be in a union, I just do not think that any service provider that controls a monopoly on any essential service should be allowed to withhold it for any reason.  It is one thing to withhold your own services, it is quite another to shut down a public necessity to further your own goals.

                  When pubic union workers strike, they strike against the public.  The wealthy do not depend on public employees very much.   Usually the poor and the powerless.  Students, patients, transit riders, the frail and the elderly are the victims in a public employee strike.  

                  Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

                  by bobtmn on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:50:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  you said there was no direct hiring (0+ / 0-)

                    you were wrong

                    therefore you didn't know what you were talking about

                    I treat you like an adult, someone who entering a discussion should be able to take it as well as dish it out

                    the question of whether or not public employees should be able to strike is not consistent across the country.  Again, just because you do not believe service providers should be able to strike is not something that would be uniformly agreed to, and teachers and other public employees have the right to strike when they do not have an agreed to contract in a number of states.

                    And it is interesting that this is the point on which you choose to argue now, since it was not an issue in my previous remark to you.  I focused on direct hire and on the fact that content knowledge is an insufficient basis to hire someone to teach.  I know many PhDs who are wonderful researchers but horrible teachers, even at a university level.

                    Teaching is a skill.  It should require knowledge of the students before you, at least developmentally if not individually.  One has to meet them to some degree where they are, because in public school they have to be there.   I see little in your most recent comment that addresses the substance of my previous remarks to you.  

                    And again, one more time - that you have your attitude about unions is one thing.  Please show me one place on this thread or elsewhere when I have in my advocacy for teachers unions done so on the basis of their striking.  You won't.  And thus to raise that issue in response to me is irrelevant.  For most of us in unions we could kill schools without striking -  all we would have to do is work to rule.  Contractually we cannot be required to devote ANY time outside of that designated in our contracts to work related to school -  it is uncompensated.   Were teachers nationally simply to start working to their contracts, without any kind of other action, learning would grind to a halt.  

                    We don't.  We care about our students.  But we also care about our profession, and without unions teachers would be even more vulnerable to the kind of bashing we are seeing now.

                    Go to work in some of those charters where teachers are paid less than in public schools because the staff turns over so often there is no seniority, no ability to develop sufficient skill.  Require them to answer the phone from students and parents until 11 PM at night -  that means they are on duty until 11 - factor those hours in and see how little per hour they are actually being paid, how little of a life outside of school they can have, then wonder why so much of the staff turns over.

                    Charter schools do not have to be like that.  Nor do public schools.

                    And let me be clear -  I have given parents my phone number.  They can call me up until 10 PM.  I will never call them after 9 PM.  I get up at 5 AM.  I spend on average 4 hours/weekday outside of my contractual hours doing work directly related to my teaching.  That does NOT include my blogging, but it does include my responsibilities as a teacher leader, and that includes my duties as a union rep -  if I solve problems and issues for other teachers it means they stay in our building which benefits our kids.

                    I do NOT get compensated beyond some minimal travel expenses for the hours I put in on union business.  Nor do I get compensated for the time I spend educating Board members and our local media.  I did not get compensated for making at least 3 attempts to reach everyone one of my parents via phone (some do not have phones at home, and I do not want to call them at work and possibly jeopardize their employment unless it is a crisis).

                    Sorry, but I rarely don't care if you think your feelings were hurt because i called you on not knowing what you were talking about.  You made a universal assumption that was wrong.  

                    How I talk to you as an adult and an equal in a public blogging space should in no way be used to assume you know how I talk with my students.  Another mistaken implication upon your part.

                    I am quite willing to engage reasonably with people on my diaries.  I will when someone is flat out wrong say so.  You were.  I did.

                    "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 02:55:55 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I see what you did there.. (0+ / 0-)

                      Its hard to discuss rationally with you, Ken, because you read what I said and change it into something you find more comfortable to criticize.

                      As part of your criticism, you focus on my supposed feelings or ignorance instead of the points that I really did make.

                      I'll just give one example:

                      What I said:

                      "I just do not think that any service provider that controls a monopoly on any essential service should be allowed to withhold it for any reason"

                      My statement is carefully nuanced, and covers electric power utilities and ambulance drivers to the same extent that it covers schoolteachers.

                      What you turned it into:

                      "you do not believe service providers should be able to strike"

                      Your parody of my statement is much easier to attack.    , but since I didn't say it, and don't believe it, I can't counter it without giving it credence.

                      By the way, my feelings are not hurt.

                      Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

                      by bobtmn on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:11:12 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  student teachers (0+ / 0-)

                  Your comments really hit home.  I had my share of student teachers and some were good and others not.  The saddest case was a young gifted minority male student teacher that was totally gifted in reaching the students in my class.  It was amazing to watch how he could engage and motivate them.

                  This was during a school year we were on a block schedule of 90 minutes per class, four periods a day and this would mean you could complete an entire year course in one semester. As you can imagine this did make for some  intense class periods trying to get material covered.  

                  The class he was best with was a class that had a activity period tacked on for club/activities during the school day.  During this time he would engage in activities with the students.  This was also the time his supervisor would come to evaluate him.  She had little or no classroom experience and was still allowed to be an evaluator.  She determined he was doing inappropriate activities, had him removed from my classroom without a single conference with me!  This devastated him and he dropped out of the teaching field.   What a waste to the public schools

              •  FTS (0+ / 0-)

                there is plenty of useful work left undone right now without displacing union employees.

                The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

                by happymisanthropy on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:17:54 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  You can't predict 15 years from now (0+ / 0-)

            We will need plenty of employed to care for the baby boomers in their 80's. That much we can predict, other than that new technology might create jobs and opportunity we can't see today.

            When you look out into the future places like china will have to deal with the consequences of the one child policy and it's demographic impact. They will be saddled in the future with a disproportionate aged population in 50 years. We don't know who will need to compete then, but these kids will be sending their kids to college around that time.

      •  Let's pin that down, though. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy

        that we're not going to need all these kids, anyway, from an economic standpoint.

        We desperately need our young people's gifts and talents to be developed so that they can contribute to the building of our society when it comes time.

        What you're really saying is that some Capitalist M-F-er doesn't see a way to make a buck off of them.

        That says nothing about the value of our kids.

        It says everything about the failures of Capitalism.

  •  In Any Other Field... (22+ / 0-)

    ...the people setting policy have professional experience in that field.

    In teaching, not so much?

    Why not?

    There has been a long process of devaluing teaching and teachers in America, relegating it and them to the realm of the second rate.  "They who can, do.  They who can't, teach."  Not only does this confused subject matter expertise with teaching skill, but it is a deliberate insult, a means of ensuring that teachers are not listened to.  

    And a means of ensuring that teachers are not adequately paid--another huge problem.

    Thanks, TeacherKen.

    •  we are now seeing an attack on salary argument (18+ / 0-)

      with several recent pieces saying that teachers are actually not paid so badly.  

      The pay issue is actually of lesser importance than the deprofessionalizing of the work, the exclusion of teacher voice in policy making.

      Teachers are starting to push back.  There was a sufficient outcry at the lack of teachers in the original planning of EducationNation that some changes have been made.

      One person approached who is nationally known decided not to do anything with EducationNation because of the corporatist tilt, something not changed by adding jost over a dozen teachers TOTAL to the various panels -  oh, and 3 of those dozen plus are via Teach for America, even though less than .001 of the total teaching corp of the US is via TFA.  

      Just like in "Waiting for Superman" which portrays succesful charters while ignoring harmful charters and never portraying successfulnon-charter public schools, thereby presenting another distorted picture.

      I get tired.  I get angry.

      At least on "Waiting for Superman" we have seen some major voices -  eg, John Merrow -  speak out, although their voices are not being amplified, while the likes of Time Magazine and Oprah Winfrey amplify the voices of the likes of Bill Gates and Michelle Rhee.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:02:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ever watch Sports reel about the LOSERS? (0+ / 0-)

        Seriously why would they show you the failed charter schools. They could just go to the average public school and find some failure there. People are looking for hope because the public schools are under performing. People are trying new things it will take a pretty long time and a lot of experimentation to find new solutions to old problems.

        Some old ideas will be tried again because the new idea people simply are not that old or don't always read enough into the failures of those that tried before them. I am just happy they are breaking out of the box. This looks like a period of serious change.

        The teachers are taught differently the school is run differently, they are actively bringing technology into the classroom, and they are funding schools differently than before.  We have a national focus on education and it is not all about privatization, but it is also not against the involvement of those outside the system.

        •  educating all our children not athletics (4+ / 0-)

          and should not be framed as such.

          Nor is it a business in the sense of a profit making endeavor.

          "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:55:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Please read this! (5+ / 0-)

          CS Monitor Story on Charter Schools

          I'm continually amazed that this debate is being led by people who claim to be following the data, but consistently ignore actual data when it contradicts their preferred solution.

          •  So why be against Charter schools? (0+ / 0-)

            Study: On average, charter schools do no better than public schools
            But the study also found more nuanced evidence that the most effective charter schools are those serving lower-income students, especially in urban areas.

            Seems like Charter schools are a great way to work toward solving our hardest problem which is teaching low income children in urban areas.

            “When you take a look at our findings and then look back at previous studies, they start to follow a pattern,” says Philip Gleason, the study’s director and a senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research, which produced the study. “Studies that have focused on the largest set of schools find either no or negative effects, but schools in larger urban areas, serving the most disadvantaged students, do have an effect.”

            A lot of people talk about how reform affects schools that are already good. They have a fair argument to make, but what they often don't realize is the struggle to pull up the bottom might demand different solutions.

            “It’s not surprising that suburban charter schools don’t do anything, because suburban schools are already pretty good,” says Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Harris School who has studied charter schools in Chicago. “At this point,” she adds, “the literature is still trying to figure out, are charter schools better or not? And arguably, that’s the wrong question to even be asking.” More interesting, Professor Schanzenbach suggests, would be research on what makes some charters more effective.

            If your school is pretty good, then please stop complaining. We are trying to save the lives of people trapped in a cycle of poverty. That is the dream of public education. There are places where half the 10 year olds can't read. Inability to read is indicative of a general learning failure that severely hinders their ability to handle complex subject matter. It starts at home but it has to be fixed at school. If Charters know how to get the parents engaged or do it without them then we need to pay attention.

            •  Yeah... I happen to live in one such area. (5+ / 0-)

              You don't need to remind me about those problems. I'm sending my children to a high school with over 95% of students on free or reduced lunches. Your solution is to dismantle public education and start over with a charter-school model that has mixed results.

              "The worry is that President Obama and others are getting seduced by the movement because they’re looking at the results from boutique charters [like KIPP and Aspire] rather than at the wide array of charters that don’t outperform regular schools," says Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Fuller remains "cautiously optimistic" about charters and says they seem to do some things well, such as attracting energetic young teachers. But, he adds, "It’s irresponsible that President Obama would [push] all 50 states to create more charter schools in light of such sketchy evidence."

              One such boutique charter is the Harlem Empowerment Zone, which has worked remarkably well because it operates more like a holistic government welfare program than a school. Why is this important?

              Because the vast majority of longitudinal studies on improving student performance find that improving teacher quality has far less of an effect on student performance than addressing the basic issues of poverty and security.

              If you claim to be part of a data-driven attempt to reform public education than follow the data. Testing students and tying teacher pay to testing doesn't work. Forming charter schools only works when you address the underlying problems in the community, or you cherry pick the best and brightest.

              I think teachers are upset because people like you make it seem like they don't care about fixing failing schools. In reality, they've been asking for the types of programs that would actually fix these schools for years. Instead, politicians decided to bypass the public system in favor of charter schools.

              •  Harlem Empowerment zone product of Charter School (0+ / 0-)

                Charter schools allow for that kind of experimentation without the bureaucracy of board of education regulations and union rules. That is not the end of public education in anyway shape of form to call it that is disingenuous.

                Merit pay, Charters, Testing are all long term strategies that may produce results in combination with other things like teacher training and effective incentives. It's not simple it is too early to take things off the table simply because it annoys the unions.

                Unions by themselves don't fix education, if not then we would not have a problem right now. Let our leaders have the freedom to try new things. If something like merit pay had no impact why do we need to be in such a hurry to get rid of it?

                •  let's separate out (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jakkalbessie
                  1. test-driven instruction already shown to fail in long-term learning, which is why so many children who are the product of it have to take remedial courses in post-secondary education
                  1. merit pay of the style you approve has been tried and failed.  Oh, and the businesses that theoretically serve as a model for such a pay structure are moving away from it.
                  1.  SOME charters are experimenting.  Most are not.  The only thing they do differently is approach things even more rigidly than most central offices, and they get to bust unions, take away due process rights for teachers, wind up with much more faculty turnover, and the studies to date show that even without controlling for the fact they can and usually are more selective in the students they accept (no ELLs or SPED for example) do no better and more often worse rather than better than the public schools from which they are drawing, even though they are taking the highest testing kids from the most motivated families.

                  Long term?  Charters have been around for several decades.  So has merit pay in one way or another.  So certainly has been the emphasis on test-driven instruction.  To steal a title from Arthur Koestler writing about communism, this entire approach is the God that has Failed.

                  "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:52:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  can you cite studies? (0+ / 0-)

                    merit pay of the style you approve has been tried and failed.  Oh, and the businesses that theoretically serve as a model for such a pay structure are moving away from it.

                    please provide any evidence of this, particularly in the context of business.

                    •  you can't do your own research? (0+ / 0-)

                      The burden is on those who wish to impose merit pay to demonstrate that it works.  In schools a study was just released from the Peabody School at Vanderbilt on the use of merit pay in teaching math.  It conclusively demonstrated that the merit pay had NO EFFECT.

                      As far as in business, W Edwards Deming argued against.  Businesses that relied upon it have moved away from it.  There is a fair amount of literature in business journals as to why.  

                      You want to rely on it.  You prove it works.

                      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 02:58:39 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Why be against charter schools? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              happymisanthropy

              Because we cannot afford to establish alternative school systems when we don't have the resources to properly fund a single, effective public school system. I am not opposed to nonprofit community schools when and if we reach a point when we have a surplus of education funding. It's simply inefficient to have multiple school systems funded by the taxpayers. And here in Ohio, I'm against them because they are doing much worse than the public schools ESPECIALLY in urban areas, giving desperate families false hope which is so frequently dashed.

              I have a right to oppose them since they are paid for with MY money and that very money is being used to purchase the souls of mostly Republican politicians in my state so they can continue to wallow in our tax money without accountability and without being as effective as the public schools in educating kids.

              I'm starting to suspect you own White Hat stock, you are so off base about so many things.

              De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

              by anastasia p on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:17:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Who's we? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              happymisanthropy

              There are plenty of innovative non-charter public schools that outperform charters in serving disadvantaged communities. New York City is home to more successful district schools than successful charters and they don't enjoy the millions of supplemental dollars raised by Geoffery Canada or the members of the billionaire boys club. I like charters and have helped to start several. But this is not a sustainable model of change as it is dependent on philanthropic largesse. The extreme focus on charters to the exclusion of effective in district solutions is a calculated assault on the very idea of public education. To ignore this is to be willfully blind.

              I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. Barbara Jordan

              by Lcohen on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:56:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Elected school boards are part of the problem. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, joycemocha, divineorder, edtastic

      I was remembering just this week my days in public school. Yes, it was a segregated system that made "separate but equal" a very bad joke. With that qualification I have to say the school system I attended was excellent.

      I have concluded over the years, some while sending my own children to schools that were playthings of ignorant school board members with cafeteria workers and bus drivers were pure patronage appointment (lots of "cousins" and massive turnover with a board change), that a real difference was the way the school board was chosen. It was not elected.

      1. The city had a Mayor/Manager system with the mayor being the political officer matched by an elected board acting as city "legislature." If I recall correctly this was the system:
      1. The city had criteria for school board membership that at least excluded yahoos.
      1. The mayor chose from a slate of applicants/candidates, some presented by the business and professional community, for nomination. This was similar to our national nomination of Federal Judges.
      1. The board members voted to confirm or not confirm those nominated in a process not unlike Senate confirmation.
      1. The superintendent of the system was chosen in a similar process.

      Yes, an "elitist" system. Then schools for everyone should be elite. Even though there were some fiery preachers damning "evolution education" to hell in town that never had any impact on the classroom and I envied most of the science taught there when I saw that of my kids being watered down at the insistence of a school board with some members probably unable to graduate from my old high school if required to pass its finals.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:35:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not a panacea (4+ / 0-)

        We've had a mayor-appointed board for, what, two decades? Same yahoos, same failing schools. By the way, when I went to the Chicago public Schools back in the ’60s, teaching was a patronage job too. at least I hope they've gotten away from that.

        De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

        by anastasia p on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:40:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nothing is a panacea. (0+ / 0-)

          A lot depends on the criteria established for nomination. Even that will not prohibit bad choices.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:13:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  depends on the school board (8+ / 0-)

        because members have to stand to election, sometimes it means they are far more responsive, which means if teachers can ally with parents it is possible to have much more impact than in the case of an appointed board.

        One problem is the many school board races are low visibility and thus low turnout, which can mean a small but actively organized group can dominate.  That use to help the old Christian Coalition run under the radar in some school districts, but it also can enable teachers and their allies to have a larger impact, provided they are willing to get involved.

        And sometimes it flows over into other races.  It is worth remembering that the DC Teachers took a major role in attacking Fenty (and thus Rhee) for what had been happening in DC schools, did so in conjunction with some parent groups, and thus played a significant role in defeating Fenty.

        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:43:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  you also might want to note what Diane Ravitch (7+ / 0-)

        wrote about why Fenty Lost.  In this blog post she remarks

        Rhee believed that mayoral control gave her the power to work her will and to ignore dissenters or brush them off as defenders of the status quo. Mayoral control bred arrogance and indifference to dialogue. She didn’t need to listen to anyone because she had the mayor’s unquestioning support. Mayoral control made democratic engagement with parents and teachers unnecessary. It became easy for her to disparage them and for the media to treat them as self-interested troublemakers.

        Mayoral control of schools short-circuits democratic processes by concentrating all decision-making in the hands of one elected official, who need not consult with anyone else. If D.C. had had an independent school board, Rhee would have had to explain her ideas, defend them, and practice the democratic arts of persuasion, conciliation, and consensus-building.

        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:52:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The autocratic manner of Rhee was a problem. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          edtastic

          At the same time there had been repeated failures to break an entrenched quasi patronage system in those schools. The union was not any great example either. Who was the union official socking away fur coats and such? In most cases I'd support a teacher's union. In the D.C. case it appears it had become a real problem with corruption and protecting some really bad apples.

          Maybe the D.C. system will move on without the autocrats. If it falls back into old ways it will be back into real trouble.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:19:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the patronage system was central office (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pelagicray

            personnel, many put there under the auspices of Marion Barry.   Rhee did not catch that much criticism for going after that.

            There was relatively patronage in the assigning of teachers.

            There had been corrupt leadership in the local union.  That was addressed.  Rhee tended to treat the current leadership like at a minimum they had cooties.

            When even Jay Mathews criticizes how she handled one highly visible critic, who also happened to be one of the most honored AP teachers in the city, you know she is out of control.

            "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:55:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Fenty Lost but Crack Head BARRY won (0+ / 0-)

          Sorry I just felt the need to remind everyone that DC reelected a crack head. Yes we should assume this electorate doesn't have the highest standards. They thought Fenty was some bourgeois snob who lost touch with the community. Rhee did good work and produced results, the unions gave them hell as usual. The union does not always do the right thing. The electorate does not always vote to serve it's best interest. Rhee certainly was not a failure.

          •  and white Republican voters (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JanL, happymisanthropy

            regularly elected alcoholics, thieves, adulterers, pederasts, and the like to offices as high a US Senator and US Congressmen.  So what?  

            That Barry got reelected in his councilmanic district is independent of Fenty (and Rhee) getting solidly defeated by Vince Gray, who is nothing like Marion Barry.

            "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:56:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Ken (22+ / 0-)

    I appreciate your diaries on this subject...I can't recall being so discouraged in my teaching career as I am now. To see Oprah Winfrey and President Obama champion policies that are so ignorant of the facts "on the ground", particularly in districts with a high rate of poverty, is frankly shocking.
    A retired teacher who is a friend of mine says teachers across the country need to stand up on their hind legs - she suggests a national job action by public school teachers. I can't imagine such a thing happening or if it would be helpful in all honesty.
    Sadly, I see teacher pay and pensions being slashed and even worse outcomes for students, which will just feed this cycle we seem to be in now. Can anyone really expect a new generation of teachers to put up with this vicious attack-oriented work environment?
    The ignorance shown by the public should be a scandal - people seem to think they are educational experts by virtue of the fact that most have gone to public school. As my grandkids say: not so much.
    Try to enjoy at least a bit of your day. And keep hollering! ;)

    Think what you are doing today. -Fred Rogers

    by JanL on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:57:09 AM PDT

    •  My family is still reaping the financial benefits (7+ / 0-)

      of a long strike undertaken more than 30 years ago by California teachers, so I can definitely imagine it. Ugh. It was pretty bad...numerous arrests, etc. And now, California is saying the pensions negotiated in those days are bankrupting the state.

      Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction -- Pascal

      by RJDixon74135 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:23:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, cause nobody now has any pension (6+ / 0-)

        so why should you get one either, or that's how I assume the argument goes, right.

        I'm forced to pull some of what's left of my 403b to pay bills this month. Very worrisome.

        •  Re (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cardinal96

          Yeah, cause nobody now has any pension (1+ / 0-)

          so why should you get one either, or that's how I assume the argument goes, right.

          The argument goes: private sector people don't get a pension, so why should they pay much higher taxes in order to provide one to public employees?

          Also, the guaranteed nature of the benefit plan in many states is a serious problem because it allows an elected official in 1990 to obligate taxpayers in 2010 to something that they have no say in.

          (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:13:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Private sector people DID get a pension (8+ / 0-)

            Most people once had a pension. It's just that they lost them earlier. Cause most white collar people did NOT have a union.

            People who were hired the year before me at my primary place of career employment (a nonprofit) DID have a defined benefit pension plan.

            As of the year I was hired they had "improved" that to a 403b. That's worked out SO well for most people I know. Not.

            •  Re (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cardinal96, MGross

              Most people once had a pension. It's just that they lost them earlier. Cause most white collar people did NOT have a union.

              I have no problem with a pension plan per se; I have a problem with the guaranteed nature of the benefits. If a teacher, police officer, fire officer, etc does a week of work for me this week, I as a taxpayer should pay them this week and then my obligation to them should completely end regardless of the performance of the pension fund.

              It makes no sense for taxpayers in 2030 to be obligated to pay a pension for a police officer that did a week of work in 2010.

              So, pension, 401k, it's all the same to me as long as the risk of failure of that plan is squarely on plan participants and not on the general taxpayer.

              (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:32:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  when you say you're a libertarian (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                badger, joycemocha, maryabein

                you mean it, don't you.

                America simply does not need the [GOP] as ... currently constituted. If it cannot reform itself, it needs to die. - Brad DeLong

                by billlaurelMD on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:33:21 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's the only position that makes sense (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bobtmn, Cardinal96, PatriciaVa, MGross

                  Otherwise you have endless financial obligations existing infinitely far into the future, paid for by people who never had a say in it. How can a state/town/city possibly manage that?

                  I don't think it's particularly ideologically 'libertarian' to have this position; it's just common sense.

                  You can't just look at one side of this (teachers, police) without looking at the other side (private citizens footing the bill).

                  (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:36:44 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  not the only position that makes sense (7+ / 0-)

                    just the only position you are willing to consider

                    "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:38:57 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  *shrug* (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      MGross

                      I have carefully considered all aspects of this issue from multiple angles. Your statement is false.

                      It makes no sense for a municipality in today's day and age to offer a defined benefit pension: they should simply match retirement contributions as is done in the private sector every day. Defined benefit pensions merely obligate future generations of taxpayers to pay for something for which they did not agree.

                      Public employees disagree with me, but they are disagreeing from a position of self-interest. If you're a taxpayer, the logic is airtight.

                      (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:43:38 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  and others have considered the same data (7+ / 0-)

                        and come to radically different conclusions than you do.   If you insist yours is the only possible conclusion then you are not interested in dialog.  

                        You choose a libertarian approach on this issue, by your own admission.  I would suggest that most of us here do not.  The logical end point of your reasoning is to walk away from Social Security.

                        So here's a suggestion.  Rather than nibbling around the edges, why don't you post a diary advocating exactly what you believe and engage people on that basis?  

                        I merely pointed out that you have a particular viewpoint, but even though you may think it is the only logical conclusion many very logical people here will disagree with you.

                        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:53:23 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  "If you're a taxpayer, the logic is airtight." (0+ / 0-)

                        Public employees aren't taxpayers?  Do tell.

                        The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

                        by happymisanthropy on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:30:06 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  They aren't (0+ / 0-)

                          They "pay taxes", but their salary comes completely out of the taxes other people pay.

                          All of the salary of public workers is derived from the private sector.

                          (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 12:10:37 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  Are you aware of the finances of most cities? (5+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Sparhawk, bobtmn, Cardinal96, soros, Balto

                      Teacherken, are you aware of the structural deficits of most cities sand states?

                      Chicago has been running a 10% operating deficit for the past two years, plugged by a 2B slush fund courtesy of securitizing a tollway and the parking meters.  The money was supposed to last 75 years, but in 12 months, the fund will have been depleted.  The rating agencies blame pension shortfalls for a significant part of the deficit.

                      In Philadelphia, the lawmakers had to increase the sales tax by 14% to plug a pension hole.

                      In Vallejo, the city had to declare bankruptcy to restructure pension obligations.

                      I don't often agree with Sparhawk, but he's right about municipal and state pensions.

                      For decades, mayors and governors have made promises that the next generation would have to meet.

                      Now, I don't have a problem with the pensions, so long as the working and middle-class aren't asked to plug any gaps.

                      But in IL a few months ago, the unions had members bused in to the capitol to yell, "Raise my Taxes, Raise my Taxes" in a blatant attempt to rally the state around a 66% hike in the income tax that would impact every household, so, as the Dem Governor says, "we won't have to lay off any teachers"

                      What's the upshot?  Well, that same Dem governor is trailing a GOPer by 10% points in President Obama's home state.

                      Is that what we want?

                      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

                      by PatriciaVa on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:01:28 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  there are other reasons for those problems (9+ / 0-)

                        which often come from the economic policies pushed by precisely the same people pushing the current educational policy.

                        The answer is to fix the underlying economic problems.  A major step might well be to stop wasting trillions on things like Iraq, on the military industrial complex about which Eisenhower warned us.  We could properly tax wealth and a process of creation that leads to greater economic concentration in fewer hands which then use the power that accrues therefrom to ontinue the process of privatizing the commons so they do not have to give back to the society that enabled them to accumulate that wealth in the first place.

                        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:16:12 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Sadly this won't and can't happen (0+ / 0-)

                          Because the people in power benefit directly from the economic problems we face and "the people" are so befuddled that they'll believe up is down if you put a nice beat to it.

                          After the oligarchs have taken the fat from the economy they are now leaning in to take the meat as well. They are feasting on the carcass and they will continue to do that for some time.

                          I regret now that I didn't fully appreciate the country we once had, however flawed it was.

                        •  Silly.... (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Sparhawk, theran, soros

                          Last I checked my city didn't fund the Iraq war.....

                          There is $3 trillion in state and local pension liabilities, of which $1 trillion is unfunded, and the problem is getting worse.  

                          Taxing the wealthy ain't going to solve this problem.  Why?  Because you are already going to tax them to pay for health care, close the existing operating deficit (that $3 trillion is outside the current annual deficit) and all manner of other things.

                          There just isn't enough money.  If you have a solution, please provide the facts, not bromides.

                          •  your city sure as hell did (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JanL, happymisanthropy

                            even if not in direct taxes.  The war and the policies accompanying that in the national administration had a direct effect on business productivity, on property values, and therefore on revenue of your city and every other one in the country.

                            The $3 trillion about which Joe Stiglitz wrote includes a hell of lot of indirect costs, on those businesses not directly profiting from the war effort, on lost wages (although there is now some effort to restore the difference of lost wages because of stop loss).  

                            The money we spent on a wasteful war could instead have been spent on infrastructure, including decrepit school buildings and crumbling highways, brides and dams.  That would have pumped more income into many communities.  It also would have minimized costs of damaged vehicles because of poorly maintained roads, it could have saved transportation costs.

                            And some of that money could have gone to moving to alternative energy production that would have created more jobs, which would have generated more tax revenue, which would have saved expenditures on fossil fuel driven energy production and transportation.

                            And yes, the Federal government could have meaningfully helped to fund education, which is often the largest single expense to local governments.  

                            "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:01:52 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  My point is.... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            That money is gone....call the spilt milk department.

                            These are current state and local obligations, not federal obligations, no matter how much you wave your hands.  As such, without a federal bailout, it is the responsibility of those entities to figure this out.  

                            And the rich just don't have enough money to pay for all this, as they are going to get tagged for health care, covering the operating deficit, and a multitude of other things.  

                  •  To our "libertarian" friend (5+ / 0-)

                    You can't just look at one side of this (teachers, police) without looking at the other side (private citizens footing the bill).

                    Foot the bill and STFU. It's part of a contract. These people earned their money and these were the terms under which they earned it.

                    It's not "common sense" to steal what people have earned. It's nothing other than petulant, pissy-pants greed, envy, and spite.

                    Would YOU turn down a defined-benefit pension? Wouild YOU fight like hell to maintain such a benefit if YOU had earned one?

                    We know the answer. You're a fraud. Get the hell on out of here and quit insulting our intelligence.

                    "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:33:01 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Re (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Cardinal96, Balto, MGross

                      Foot the bill and STFU. It's part of a contract. These people earned their money and these were the terms under which they earned it.

                      "Earned it?" I'm 31 years old and did not agree to any pension obligations. I have no moral obligation to any such promise made to retirees by people who long since left the scene.

                      You seem to think that present-day taxpayers are morally bound to promises made back in the distant past, promises that at the time it should have been clear could not be supported. They are not. That's why defined benefit plans are so poisonous and problematic.

                      If you as a taxpayer want to grant your city employees great retirement benefits, you can match their first 5% of 401k contributions at 4x match or something. That's fine because it doesn't obligate future generations to anything. But that's hard and costs money. It's much easier to say "yeah, you'll have a great retirement! Funded by my kids!"

                      It's not "common sense" to steal what people have earned. It's nothing other than petulant, pissy-pants greed, envy, and spite.

                      Private sector workers who are forced to pay for pension obligations get zero benefit for the money they pay. I do not generally spend money for no benefit.

                      Besides, there is no theft involved. Cutting state guarantees for defined benefit plans would allow state employees to continue to draw from the pension fund: what's the problem? What money is being "stolen"?

                      Would YOU turn down a defined-benefit pension? Wouild YOU fight like hell to maintain such a benefit if YOU had earned one?

                      Would you fight like hell when those who "earned" such a benefit are demanding that your taxes be massively raised to support that benefit, to no gain for you at all?

                      (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:44:21 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Your morals are your own business (4+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        badger, JanL, joycemocha, happymisanthropy

                        I have no moral obligation to any such promise made to retirees by people who long since left the scene.

                        You have a legal and a contractual obligation. Everything else is bullshit. Man up and pay up.

                        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:55:29 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  By that logic (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JanL

                        you would also default on treasury bonds?  You didn't sign those either.

                        The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

                        by happymisanthropy on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:34:00 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Jefferson himself... (0+ / 0-)

                          ...decried trans-generational public debt for this precise reason.

                          (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 12:07:44 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  One of the few things (0+ / 0-)

                            the Republican party can be proud of, is paying off the US debt incurred in fighting the Civil War.  Most people thought they would never manage.

                            The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

                            by happymisanthropy on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:20:38 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  How is championing WkgClass being Petulant? (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Sparhawk, Cardinal96, soros, MGross

                      I don't get it.

                      Sparhawk, and anyone who understand one iota of finance, realizes that the vast majority of state and city pension plans are dramatically underfunded.  Consequently, governors and states are resorting to increasing the tax burden on the working and middle-class to plug the shortfall.

                      How is opposing tax hikes on a segment that has seen stagnant wages for over a decade being "Petulant"?

                      How is seeking to avert a repeat of what happened to Corzine in NJ after he raised the sales tax to pay for a pension shortfall being "Petulant"?

                      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

                      by PatriciaVa on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:45:18 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Fund them, then (3+ / 0-)

                        Sparhawk, and anyone who understand one iota of finance, realizes that the vast majority of state and city pension plans are dramatically underfunded.

                        And tax the rich to pay for them. Tell THAT to Bob Fucking Rubin and his "centrist" fucking economists.

                        One iota of finance, my ass. Tax the goddamn rich, period. Quit making excuses not to, and quit twisting yourself in knots to avoid discussing it.

                        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:58:54 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  When did President Obama propose Wealth Tax? (0+ / 0-)

                          You say fund the pensions.

                          I ask, instead of blaming Rubin, why not blame President Obama.

                          When was the last time he delivered a speech in which he asked the Buffets and Ellisons' to contribute 8% of their net worth to the government each year, that it is their patriotic duty to do so?

                          When was the last time any Dem Governor asked the very wealthy of their state (and by wealthy I mean net worth above 50M) to contribute annually to workers pensions?

                          Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

                          by PatriciaVa on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:03:33 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Re (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Cardinal96, soros, Balto

                          One iota of finance, my ass. Tax the goddamn rich, period. Quit making excuses not to, and quit twisting yourself in knots to avoid discussing it.

                          On a local level, this doesn't really work. If taxes on upper earners go high enough, they will simply move to the town next door where taxes are less onerous.

                          Additionally, businesses (who are typically headed by high earners) will not locate in places with high taxes on high earners. They will go somewhere else. That also drives down the tax base. The state of Rhode Island just cut taxes for high earners for precisely this reason this year. They realized that it was necessary in order to locate business in the state.

                          Again, this isn't me being right-wing, it's just reality. Any "tax the rich" strategy has to be implemented on a federal level, oh, and even if you did it, you're still stuck with the same pension problem at the end of the day.

                          (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:11:01 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  From the "We're here to rob you" wing of the.. (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Sparhawk, theran, soros

                      ...Democratic party, I guess.

                      Foot the bill and STFU.

                      It's not "common sense" to steal what people have earned.

                      The irony is strong with this one.

              •  Surely you're joking (6+ / 0-)

                The entire basis for your statements are absurd! I am paying into my pension fund, as is my employer - a match rather like a 401(k) or similar. Why is this such a difficult concept to grasp? The longer one is employed, the more money is paid into the system by employees and employers. Do you think retired teachers, police officers, and firefighters should subsist off the land when they reach retirement? Please remember, we do not contribute to Social Security unless we work at another job.

                Think what you are doing today. -Fred Rogers

                by JanL on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:38:10 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Re (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bobtmn, Cardinal96, MGross

                  The entire basis for your statements are absurd! I am paying into my pension fund, as is my employer - a match rather like a 401(k) or similar. Why is this such a difficult concept to grasp?

                  And when your underfunded pension fund fails, who is on the hook for this? The taxpayers are on the hook. That's the part I have a problem with.

                  Do you think retired teachers, police officers, and firefighters should subsist off the land when they reach retirement?

                  No, I think they should save money on their own like the rest of us have to. (Or in a matched 403b or 401k, etc).

                  Please remember, we do not contribute to Social Security unless we work at another job.

                  I am aware of this and it should be fixed immediately. Public employees should contribute to Social Security. Any pension/401k contributions you make should be on top of that.

                  (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:50:27 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I will not hijack Ken's diary (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    badger, joycemocha

                    The topic is public schools and the best ways to do a better job of educating our children.
                    It does seem to me you'd be more at home at another blog, perhaps Redstate...you have been captured by a crowd of folk who think dressing in costumes and spitting on people is a form of policy-making.  It is not.
                    Good day, sir.

                    Think what you are doing today. -Fred Rogers

                    by JanL on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:29:03 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Re (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Cardinal96, MGross

                      It does seem to me you'd be more at home at another blog, perhaps Redstate...you have been captured by a crowd of folk who think dressing in costumes and spitting on people is a form of policy-making.  It is not.

                      The ad hominem is the last refuge of people who cannot refute a point any other way.

                      (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:33:49 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  actually, you are part of the problem (4+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        badger, JanL, joycemocha, happymisanthropy

                        since your mind is closed, and you REFUSE anything offered that does refute your talking points.  Which is why I increasingly ignore your comments except when necessary to point out to people how close-minded you are being.

                        Look, you are entitled to your point of  view.  I have not troll-rated you.  I have not complained when you hijack part of a thread on one of my diaries.  But whenever I or anyone else point out that yours is not the only possible interpretation even of the data you cite - and that is sometimes data that is selective - YOU come back on the attack, without responding to the issues being raised.

                        Most people here are not libertarian.  Most people here believe in a commitment beyond one's own immediate, narrow self-interests.  That someone suggests you might be more comfortable with your arguments elsewhere does not qualify as an ad hominem attack on you or on those who share your views.

                        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:34:23 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Ad hominem does not refute his points. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Sparhawk

                          What, precisely, issues were raised in this thread?

                          •  what precisely was ad hominem? (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JanL, happymisanthropy

                            that's the point you - and sparhawk - are ignoring.  Criticize his thinking and his response is to dismiss you for being ad hominem?

                            If someone points out that his is not the only possible interpretation, or that he chooses in his argument to ignore other factors that puts what he chooses in a different light, he instead dismisses the critic, refuses to accept that someone can reasonably disagree.

                            It is not ad hominem to point out the logic of his reasoning would similarly carry over to social security, and that he should have no doubt that on that the vast majority of those here will strongly disagree with him.

                            If that is the discussion he wishes to have, and even if he wants to include pensions for public workers he thinks are too generous, the proper thing for him to do is to put up a diary to that effect, and not go off on that tangent 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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:05:16 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You need to at least offer contrary facts. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            "I disagree" is not an argument.

                          •  Contrary facts? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JanL

                            The workers have a contract that says they get paid.  The cities don't want to pay them.  The libertarians think the cities shouldn't have to pay them.  I don't think the facts are in dispute.

                            The question is not whether the chickens needed replacing, the question is whether the fox should have been guarding them in the first place.

                            by happymisanthropy on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:40:04 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you want facts.... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            The cities don't want to pay them.

                            The cities CAN'T afford to pay them.  Full stop.  Yes, someone is going to get screwed.  Either this generation, or our children.  I vote for this generation.

                          •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                            It is not ad hominem to point out the logic of his reasoning would similarly carry over to social security, and that he should have no doubt that on that the vast majority of those here will strongly disagree with him.

                            Social Security is a "special case" intergenerational bargain. "Everyone" pays in to Social Security, and everyone gets the benefits (other than public employees). There is still the element of compelling people to pay into a system that they may not want to do so, but everyone pays in and everyone gets the benefits. It's a reasonable position as long as the finances are kept on the up-and-up.

                            This is very different than public pension plans, in which a privileged elite of public employees get a pension while everyone else in the private sector does not get one, but are forced to pay for the public pensions. A good example is postal employees, who get a federal pension. But UPS/Fedex employees, who don't, get to pay for their public sector counterparts' pensions when they do the same job with no pension.

                            (-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 Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 09:33:17 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  You might see this a little differently (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Daddy Bartholomew, joycemocha

                if you were a business owner.

                If a teacher, police officer, fire officer, etc does a week of work for me this week, I as a taxpayer should pay them this week and then my obligation to them should completely end regardless of the performance of the pension fund.

                It makes no sense for taxpayers in 2030 to be obligated to pay a pension for a police officer that did a week of work in 2010.

                Then, you'd do whatever it took to assure a profit for yourself, even if it meant agreeing to share future revenue with your employees or funding a pension program. Very few business owners can make much profit without employees. So, if profit is your goal, the pension agreement is just part of the compensation you might want to offer to get the employees you believe will garner the best return on your investment. Employers, public and private, do not agree to pension programs merely because they feel generous on hiring day. The problem occurs when the business owner (or state) foolishly fails to set aside sufficient funds to meet the agreed upon obligations.  

                Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction -- Pascal

                by RJDixon74135 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:22:29 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Re (5+ / 0-)

                  Then, you'd do whatever it took to assure a profit for yourself, even if it meant agreeing to share future revenue with your employees or funding a pension program.

                  Like I said, "funding a pension plan" might be OK. What is not OK is agreeing in perpetuity to be responsible for shortfalls in that plan. That is just plan foolishness.

                  Employers, public and private, do not agree to pension programs merely because they feel generous on hiring day. The problem occurs when the business owner (or state) foolishly fails to set aside sufficient funds to meet the agreed upon obligations.  

                  There's no foolishness here. In many cases, this pension shortfall is a deliberate strategy to defraud future taxpayers. By underfunding pension plans, town officials can tell teachers unions "you get lower pay, but much better benefits" but don't have to raise taxes on present taxpayers because all the incurred obligations occur in the future to people who might not even be alive today.

                  (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:29:48 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  It's not the Pension, it's Who Pays for it (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk, Cardinal96, Silverbird, MGross

              As President Obama said during the campaign, the working and middle-class have seen stagnant wages for over a decade.

              Yet, because of pension shortfalls, many Dem governors and mayors want to increase taxes on that same group to plug pension gaps!!!!

              In Philadelphia, within the past year, the legislature increased the sales tax by 14% to plug a pension hole.

              http://www.pennsylvaniavotes.org/...

              and increase the sales tax by 1 percent for five years and earmark revenue from the increase to city pension payments .

              Does anyone think that this is fair?  Aren't the Dems suppose to champion the working and middle-class?

              Why doesn't the teachers union coalesce around a national effort to tax wealth, specifically targeting HHs with net worths above 50M.

              The Buffets and Ellisons of the US would contribute 8% of their net holding to the federal government each year.

              No, instead of targeting the wealthy, many legislators instead target the working and middle-class.

              Then they wonder why the GOP is comfortably ahead of us in the generic Congressional ballot.

              Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

              by PatriciaVa on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:40:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Private sector shlubs (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk, Cardinal96, soros

              The problem with us private sector shlubs is that we cannot organize to elect representatives who will then turn around and settle with us on our demands for better pay, working conditions, shorter workdays, better health plans  and earlier retirement.

              I can only imagine what my earnings would be like if me and my coworkers could shutdown the country when we get mad.

              Public schools are monuments to entrenched power, and they are failing our kids.

              Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

              by bobtmn on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:36:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I found this tete a tete rather interesting... (0+ / 0-)

          John McCain - 894/899 of his graduating class at Annapolis.

          by sedrunsic on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:57:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, sometimes I feel guilty (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joycemocha

          cause nobody now has any pension so why should you get one either, or that's how I assume the argument goes, right.

          ...especially when I think about how bleak things look for our kids. One daughter who was a great teacher went back to school and switched to nursing. However, a younger daughter (also an RN) and her husband are several tens of thousands of dollars upside down in their home. Such is life in the bay area.

          Still, it's not like we're rich. We're getting by because we now live in a less expensive part of the country. And, when my husband's health insurance benefit ran out seven years after he retired just as the cost of our medical care began to zoom, it was a good thing my private sector work history qualified us both for Medicare.

          Very worrisome indeed.

          Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction -- Pascal

          by RJDixon74135 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:59:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  General strike has to come from somewhere (4+ / 0-)

      It's the only thing that will ever wake up the United States of Amnesia out of the corporate spell most citizens have about how the nation and government supposedly operates. Maybe it will be the teachers who give this nation the best lesson it's had in decades.

      I want to join this political party - where is it?

      by h bridges on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:47:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  look for "Which Side are You On" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL

        on youtube. Some good recordings and some great video collages.

      •  Are you joking (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cardinal96, JanL, banger

        A national public employees strike will generally just piss people off. Remember, for example, that private sector people generally do not get pensions of any form. Striking to keep access to generous pensions paid for by the private sector will generally not endear you to people.

        (-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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:10:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If there is no problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL

      why are they working so hard to try and fix one?

  •  I'm so sick of (23+ / 0-)

    the teacher bashing bullshit.

    Everyone has had a bad teacher, so the anecdotal bullshit resonates like a simplistic soundbite. The sources of our malaise, however are so much more complex than the simple solutions this asinine film pimps. If people really think this film promotes an actual solution we are screwed.

    You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

    by FrankCornish on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:58:47 AM PDT

    •  I had 12 years of mostly bad teachers (7+ / 0-)

      and I still don't get the teacher-bashing. I went to a public school in an upscale neighborhood where there was a lot of patronage-appointed deadwood on the teaching staffs. Here's the thing: our schools had super-high achievement. Four boys in my high school class went to Harvard. Getting a perfect SAT score was not a rarity. We were flooded in National Merit winners, had championship chess and debate teams. Why? All you had to do was look at the parents: all college-educated professionals who never even entertained the thought that their child wouldn't be going to college.

      De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

      by anastasia p on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:44:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This makes a very different point. (0+ / 0-)

        Which is to say, it makes people wonder why educational spending has been skyrocketing since the 70s, but results haven't improved.

        It provides plenty of ammunition for those who want to cut education budgets.

  •  Amen (20+ / 0-)

    People say that schools should be run like businesses. Name one successful business leader who criticizes his employees in the media like Michelle Rhee does. Name one successful business leader who would allow poorly executed employee evaluations to get into the newspaper like Arne Duncan did. In Waiting For Superman and Education Nation, local public schools are being portrayed as the enemy. My school built a daycare center for employees this year and was attacked in the media for doing so. (Don't worry--nobody is receiving anything close to free daycare.)

    There is not only anger, there is fear. I am now halfway through my teaching career, and at this point, I have many reasons to believe that when I retire I will walk away from a school system that is worse than the one I started teaching at.

    "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

    by Reino on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:59:02 AM PDT

    •  You've hit on something (8+ / 0-)

      that is really shocking. In what other business would attacking the rank-and-file employees and locating the company's entire problem in their incompetence make even remote sense? Even a halfwit CEO could know that's a recipe for demoralization and disaster.

      De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

      by anastasia p on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:47:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  but demoralization and disaster is the point (7+ / 0-)

        Both political parties are now headstrong in their desire to privatize the public schools, because of the mythology that the private sector is so much better for pretty much everything. You don't need to demoralize the employees in the public sector because you don't want to destroy the business. But when you want to get rid of the business (public schools), take aim and fire!

        I want to join this political party - where is it?

        by h bridges on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:51:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The People are demoralized (0+ / 0-)

          The people of America have been dealing with the consequences of failure for decades. Right now they are about ready to try anything. You can assume it's a massive conspiracy to privatize education, but I figure it's just our leaders trying to fix things the best they can. The fact is teachers don't always know how to teach a kid to read when they are several grade levels behind.  Giving the teacher a pat on the back is not going to fix that. A private school might have the flexibility to put those kids in courses after school or on the weekends. Charter schools help us bridge the gap because they were meant to be a compromise between privatization and public school.

          •  Charter schools have no remediation... (6+ / 0-)

            They take the smartest students who would do well anyway - yet many are failing, too.

            Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Any facts, reports, or are you just being consistently disruptive for other reasons?

            Do you have a child in school? Are you a teacher? In a public, a charter, or a private school? What exactly is the ax you are grinding?

            •  My Axes..... (0+ / 0-)

              You act like you know every school in the country. You dismiss solutions and ideas with assumptions built around what some might do and not based on what others might be doing. You don't know if most or every charter school takes the smartest kids because many don't. Many schools have lotterys for example. Don't be a hack, just trying to push an agenda.

              My axe is against people who keep pushing the same crap I heard since i was in grade school and it wasn't good enough then. The just listen to the teachers union and everything will be ok people. I and millions like me were on the business end of the education system and I can seen plenty of incompetence by teachers. They are only human after all. They let bullies torment with impunity, they had smart kids in dumb classes and dumb kids in smart classes. They taught too little too late when they had the chance to challenge more kids. All kinds of defects that I don't even discuss when it comes to education reform. I am just happy people outside the system are paying attention these days.

              Even though kids keep getting worse it seems the reforms in New York seems to be adjusting instead of just watching the decline in horror. Simply put they are doing to do something about it. We did not see real reform until the mayor took over the school system under Giuliani and it continues with Bloomberg who appointed a prosecutor to run the school system. You know what, things are getting better, accountability has increased and everyone is trying harder than ever to bring about improvements. That was not the atmosphere I went to school in.

              So with all your familiar complaints and idealism I hear talking points that are a throwback to the do nothing excuse making people who fought every reform up till now that assume the government will actually bring these children's families out of poverty.

              The blame the parents people who don't change anything. I would rather blame the teachers who actually get a paid to do a job even if teachers are annoyed by it. I seen police blamed for bad policing, so we can blame teachers for bad teaching. Even if neither have the power to select their circumstances, they have to do well at the job within the context they are in. That standard is higher that the best they can, that standard is the best that can be done. That might require a better person or better training. One of those two solutions could mean firing people.

              I don't like the obstructionist who spend all day telling everybody to "stop changing things or the sky will fall". I am not buying that bullshit, let them try and get out the damn way.

              •  rants like this with NO FACTS (0+ / 0-)

                are no argument at all.

                There is no debate about what works and what doesn't work: Reputable social scientists have proven what works and what doesn't work in early childhood intervention.

                There are only naysayers like you stumping for privatization scams, as if real engines of education reform were open to debate.

                There is no debate about their findings at all. And, overall, what's badly needed is intervention...early intervention. And it's cheaper using social service resources that already exist! It's faster, too, with concrete results! See the RAND Corporation study for yourself.

                So called public-private partnerships like charters are a rip off of public funds. They ALWAYS are.

                Are you a hedge fund salesman?
                A local, state or federal government education dep't. flack?

                You could be the eminent Joel Klein himself & I'd tell you the same thing: Your ideas are full of crap! They are a throwback to Reaganonmics & trickle down economics and we have a national emergency to deal with! We don't have time for Luddites and scams. Your rant proves only one thing: you are pigheadedly, adamantly opposed to real progressive populist plans with no facts to back you up.

              •  Some Experiment (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                teacherken

                The NYC Experiment is now over after showing very little results, though they have accomplished a little bit by sending fewer students to failing schools.

                Many of us want to change the system. The changes many of us advocate, however, do not involve using poorly written and administered tests to scare teachers into focusing on multiple-choice assessments. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on state testing programs, and we would all be better off if that money went towards more meaningful measurements of teacher effectiveness focused on eliminating the very worst. The tests they use are not even reliable--the list of teachers that performs well makes huge changes from year to year.

                The changes also do not include charters, because the only way to truly leave no child behind is to make neighborhood schools successful. Some people on dailykos support charters, and such schools occasionally lead to short-term gains for a small number of kids, which I'll readily admit is a wonderful thing, though charters often do not even accomplish that much.

                If we want all students receiving a good education, we need to put good teachers in as many classrooms as possible and give them the support they need. The current efforts being labeled as reform that fit into the NCLB mold are not moving us towards that goal. We need to support changes that will move us in the right direction.

                Nobody should be satisfied with our current education system. The question is whether we want changes that improve student learning or changes that do not. NCLB and RTTT cost a lot of money and do not improve student learning.

                "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

                by Reino on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 02:18:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  wrong (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                teacherken

                Even though kids keep getting worse it seems the reforms in New York seems to be adjusting instead of just watching the decline in horror. Simply put they are doing to do something about it. We did not see real reform until the mayor took over the school system under Giuliani and it continues with Bloomberg who appointed a prosecutor to run the school system. You know what, things are getting better, accountability has increased and everyone is trying harder than ever to bring about improvements. That was not the atmosphere I went to school in.

                These morons are making it worse. When have you been in a NYC public school?  I am in there daily.  These mayors and their flunkies have forced grade school teachers to teach to the test.  It is drill and kill.  When I get them in HS they don’t know how to learn or think.  They have no skills.  These kids get pushed ahead because getting ahead is more important than learning the topics.  Most kids can get through the state tests, but they can’t get mastery (grade of 85+).  They have proved that mastery has gone down with Bloomie as mayor.  I have to teach middle school work to get them ready to handle the HS material i need to teach.  Oh, that’s in my honor classes.

                Don’t blame the middle school teachers.  They are threatened U rating if they don’t follow the “program.”

                I have taught AP courses all the way down to remedial courses.  I am in my 20th year and I see a terrible change in the ability of my students.  The teachers didn’t change.  What has changed is what they teach and how they teach (and all those useless tests).

                Because of budget cuts we can’t afford to offer classes at all levels.  And, parents call and threaten to sue if their kids aren’t in honors so we have classes labeled as honors filled with kids with averages in the low 80’s down to the 70’s.  The teachers didn’t agree to this.  The administrators and principal do this.  

                Change isn’t a terrible thing, but bad choices make things worse.  We aren’t testing hair colors, we are dealing with students.  

                •  it is not just new york (0+ / 0-)

                  I now teach mainly 10th graders.  The American History teachers, who have 9th graders, tell me that increasingly they are getting kids with almost no background in social studies because it is not tested for AYP.   Maryland used to have cross-disciplinary tests in middle school which were used to evaluate the schools but not the students.  Those, MSPAP, were performance tests.  Now everything is multiple choice.  THERE IS NO WRITING.  And there is very little thinking relevant to the testing.

                  To see how bad it is, I strongly recommend Linda Perlstein's Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade

                  "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:31:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  General Motors (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joycemocha

        I'm not sure how it turned out for them...

    •  Name one successful business.... (0+ / 0-)

      That can't fire underperforming employees?

      That can't control its cost structure?

      That resists performance evaluations?

      •  What? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL

        Before getting tenure, which takes two to four years depending on the state, teachers can be fired without cause. Name one successful business that cannot evaluate its employees in less than two years.

        After receiving tenure, teachers can only be fired with cause, which is typical for employees of successful companies such as UPS, Coca Cola, and PepsiCo.

        The cost structure of education lies in the hands of school boards, which are publicly elected.

        As to performance evaluations, you should be happy to hear that this public school teacher receives performance evaluations that lead to me receiving merit pay. Depending on the state, teachers must be evaluated by a supervisor every year or every other year. My school does not use state test scores in making merit pay decisions because the data is completely useless, but my work is evaluated by my peers and my supervisors. I am fully in favor of better and more teacher observations. I also am fully in favor of improving teaching conditions to the point at which strong applicants are waiting for spots to open up when teachers get fired, which is not currently the case.

        "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

        by Reino on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 02:03:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  there is a reason tenure was established (0+ / 0-)

        in academia and in government, and it was to protect people who had demonstrated their competence from abuse, political retaliation, and the like.

        There is a reason the US Government and then state and local governments when to civil service systems.  It was to protect competent public servants and prevent stuffing public institutions with incompetents who happened to be politically connected.

        Not all employees are at will employees. First, there is the issue of those workers who are unionized.  Second, there are laws in some states that provide a certain amount of protection after some initial period.  Third, and you entirely ignore this, many corporations have very strict requirements about what must be done to fire someone.  This is not only to protect against lawsuits.  It is also to ensure loyalty from the work force - loyalty is a two way street and employees who do not feel the corporation cares for them and their interests and views them as disposable are rarely as productive.

        Let me illustrate by someone who is now a political figure -  as head of HP Carly Fiorina took pride in how many people she fired/laid off.  In the process she came close to destroying what had once been considered one of the best companies to work for.  That is one major reason the board of HP fired her.  

        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:04:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, it's a free country (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yella dawg, eXtina

    If you don't want to vote, don't vote.  Since you'd otherwise vote Democratic, not voting is functionally a vote for Republicans.  That's fine and dandy--after all, many people actually vote for Republicans, including many teachers I know.  That is, taken rationally, an expression of support for one of two propositions: that education is all you care about and there's really no difference between Ds and Rs, or that Republicans might be worse on education but that's compensated by their better positions on other issues.  I'm curious as to which position your disgruntled e-mail colleagues endorse.  Of course, there's a third position, which is that they're just angry and upset to the point where they'd do things against their own interests and the interests of the children they teach, but that would be stupid.

    The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

    by Rich in PA on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:04:13 AM PDT

    •  do you have trouble reading? (11+ / 0-)

      Please show me where I have said or intimated that I would not vote?

      And I do not always vote Democratic.  I last voted for a Republican for our local school board.  He was already on it, had done a good job, and was not pushing a partisan agenda, and I felt he deserved to continue, even though I was personal friends with his democratic opponent.  In a heavily Democratic jurisdiction apparently a lot of people thought as I did, since he was easily reelected.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:09:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a generic "you", not you-the-diarist (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        yella dawg, David Kroning II

        My bad.  As for the rest of your reply, we both know this isn't about the school board.  But since you've mentioned it, it's interesting to see how school board elections at least around here have become a new forum for partisan divisions.  Everyone used to be cross-endorsed, but no longer.  I suppose this is a healthy thing in a way--after all, most big school board issues "map" to the larger party/ideological divide--but it doesn't feel very healthy.

        The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

        by Rich in PA on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:22:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not clear there's a difference on Education (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, happymisanthropy

      Why do you think Gingrich of all people is a strong proponent of the Obama administration's education policies.

      Sharpton, Gingrich, Duncan team up on school reforms

      Interviewed on NBC's "Today" show Friday, Gingrich and Sharpton were asked how they had agreed to work together on education in view of the many differences they've had on other issues.

      "I think that he has it exactly right, that education has to be the No. 1 civil right of the 21st century and I've been passionate about reforming education," Gingrich said. "And we can't get it done as a partisan issue."

      Because we all know what a proponent of civli rights Newt Gingrich is.

      There's a reason that David Brooks writes about Education being one of Obama's most succesful policy areas.

      The Obama approach to education could serve as a model for anybody who wants to build a center-out governing majority.

      I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. Barbara Jordan

      by Lcohen on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:51:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not being close to the news of your profession, (4+ / 0-)

    I am disturbed to read what you wrote, and continually write about our regarding our education system.  

    I cannot add, or suggest anything to remedy the problems we have, outside of just expressing  anger, and frustration  that we educate our children, our future, in such a fashion, and in how we treat the entire system with such a careless attitude towards quality.

    I am sorry that it is that way.

    "I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean I love the country but I can't stand the scene." - Leonard Cohen (Democracy)

    by LamontCranston on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:27:24 AM PDT

  •  I'm sure you're not alone, teacherken (5+ / 0-)

    I've seen the problem from the inside and the outside over the past 50 years, as a student in a highly-rated public school, as wife to a man who taught for 38 years in another highly-rated public school, as a part-time teacher myself to finance grad school, as a parent, a grandparent, and a taxpayer, but I can't even outline the solution. Can you?

    The only thing I know is that I'm relying now on the public schools to provide my community with an educational system that teaches kids how to think before they endanger me with crime and violence.

    Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction -- Pascal

    by RJDixon74135 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:31:21 AM PDT

    •  Highly rated school? (0+ / 0-)

      Do you have to deal with the most serious problems?  Now if you said you worked at a tittle one school with 75% of the kids below the poverty line I would think you really know what the struggle is about. Pulling up the bottom is mission impossible, not enriching the education people with educated parents. Perhaps you can tell us more about that school. I am of course jumping to conclusions to make a point.

    •  I am typing this from my classroom (0+ / 0-)

      and no, Ken, you are not alone.  My rage seethes day after day, just under the surface, at what they have done/are doing to my beloved profession.

      I may be going down with the ship, but I will NOT go quietly.  Glad you aren't either.

      "What we have is not a system. It's a health care catastrophe with an organization around it." -- Dr. Carl Olden

      by gtnoah on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:54:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! (11+ / 0-)

    Thanks for putting into words what I have been unable express.  Three years ago I chose to retire early as a result of watching my "life's work" at a middle school erased. God bless those professionals who are still in our public schools.  Teaching is not for the weak!

  •  Yep. (9+ / 0-)

    ...we will have spent $3 trillion on a war of choice in Iraq, we can (then) in part understand why schools are in trouble.

    It's insane.  Absolutely insane.

    "Don't do vibrato. It'll come naturally when you're old and shakey." - Miles Davis (from his music teacher)

    by dov12348 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:58:29 AM PDT

  •  Thank you (15+ / 0-)

    for expressing eloquently what many in our profession are feeling.  I am in my 17th year, and instead of looking forward to a new year, this was the first year that I was not enthusiastic to meet the challenges and rewards of new classes. I've tried to analyze my feelings, tried to determine how this malaise has descended upon me. After reading your piece, it has come to me that it is an accumulation of successive blows to our profession, and the growing attitude that our dedication and hard work will never be enough, it will always be called into question by a public (and now a government) that neither appriciates nor understands the complexity of our vocation. This particular quote:

    By constantly imposing new, experimental programs on us -- no matter how well intentioned -- they are breeding failure. How do they expect children to succeed when there's no stability in the approaches Washington is foisting on us, and no continuity in teaching programs from one year to the next?

    highlights a very real problem that is often overlooked.  Every year we are faced with one or more initiatives that will supposedly turn our education system around.  We are introduced to it one week before school starts, then instructed to make it part of our practice and we will be judged by how we incorporate it into our day.  One week! The week when we are being bombarded with new challenges, we are trying to make our rooms welcoming, and we are refocusing our attention on our curriculum, making sure problems that arose last year are addressed, getting new material for our classes etc. In fact I was surprisingly given a class I have not yet taught, and although the subject matter is no problem, the presentation will take a good deal of effort since I expect a lot from myself.
    Anyway, I have to go, I have lots to say, but no time...my professional development workshop is starting in 2 minutes!
    Keep in mind that when all is said and done, we teachers really are here because we love our subject and truly want to convey that to our students. We really want them to grow and become better for having attended our class!

    Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools, because they have to say something. - Plato

    by eashep on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:01:18 AM PDT

  •  I look forward to your posts (6+ / 0-)

    Thank you for your thoughtful posts. Teachers and the education profession need your voice. I call your attention to a new group of educational researchers who will feature research based educational policy analysis: http://www.schoolsmatter.info/...
    This initiative gives me hope.

    I, too have been very discouraged by the systematic attacks on every sector of our educational system. This administration and CAP, their PR think-tank, has denigrated teachers, principals, teacher educators,and university teacher ed programs with their junk science.

    My hope is that NEPC will be a voice that is loud enough to counter their propaganda.

  •  Why not a national teacher's strike? Why (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joycemocha, h bridges
    is that so unthinkable? If we dare to imagine it--a one day action organized nationwide, maybe an East Coast, a West Coast, a Chicago and a Houston action--sending notice of our anger to the Beltway--could be really powerful. What if?
    •  illegal for many teachers to strike (13+ / 0-)

      even in unionized Maryland where I teach, public employees of any kind are not allowed to strike.  Were they to do so that it grounds for immediate dismissal, and in the case of teachers possible loss of their certification.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:19:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And a lot of teachers don't like to rock the boat (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Daddy Bartholomew, JanL, joycemocha

        Despite the number of progressive and even activist teachers in the profession -- mostly in cities, I suspect -- teaching still draws a lot of traditional-minded individuals. Where I'm living now, you couldn't get more than two or three teachers to join your strike, even if it's legal.

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:25:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  true enough, but (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManhattanMan, joycemocha

        there would have been no civil rights movement if its participants worried about engaging in civil disobedience illegal activities.

        They can't fire everyone.

        But if a general strike is a fantasy, so is maintaining any remaining hopes of teacher participation in the management of schools. It's only a matter of time.

        I want to join this political party - where is it?

        by h bridges on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:58:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Ya know, Ken, my miner/steelworker grandpa (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, joycemocha, Sand Hill Crane

        faced dogs, billy clubs and I know for a fact his union leadership faced possible assassination. People have lost their homes and their lives.

        Every choice has consequences, that's for sure.

        Want a filmography? Sure, maybe I'd suggest

        Matewan, Norma Rae, Harlan County USA, Harlan County War. Silkwood. Maybe even a very odd film called Lightning Over Braddock. (Read more about Braddock here: http://www.dailykos.com/...

        Aw, man, HLN (headline news) just called George Mitchell a "peace convoy." My brain hurts, Ken.

        •  I am quite aware of the various films (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanL, joycemocha, Sand Hill Crane

          but teachers also remember Reagan and the PATCO strike.  There is a difference in breaking the law and your contract both by virtue of a strike.  

          And for many teachers, they worry about what will happen to the students if they are dismissed for good.   It is a different set of pressures than applied in some other labor disputes.

          That said, I am not saying the approach will necessarily be wrong.  I don't think we have YET reached that point, because I see some change in the narrative, albeit so far only a little.

          "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:41:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Not a good idea. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MGross

      Parents are already fed up with the bad schools, bureaucracy, low achievement, and lack of choices.  These things are gerenally not the fault of teachers.

      But if you make half the country miss a day of work to pick our kids up from school, we'll be really bitter. Not a good way to make allies.

    •  well Ive been thinking the STUDENTS should strike (6+ / 0-)

      or maybe "boycott" would be more accurate, as the kids are the "consumers" and it is their future that is being bankrupted.

      Of course, I have lots of other ridiculous ideas too. Cultural Anthropology should be a mandatory course for, say, 10th grade. In depth Climate Change Science s/b a dedicated semester at least. Electives teachers should make more. Kinder + 1st grade teachers, more. H.S. Football teams should have to have bake sales to pay for their shit,  and band instruments s/b free. (Okay Im biased there.)

      I have a few more, let me think a minute. heh. Oh yeah, universal health care coverage for teachers and their DEPENDENTS would be nice.

      "Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does all the work." ~Mark Twain

      by Lady Libertine on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:24:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  some have - (7+ / 0-)

        and/or their parents.  Some states allow parents to opt children out.  Others refuse to sit for tests required for graduation yet are able to go on to colleges who know that they are qualified.  In a sense it is ridiculous how punitive we are willing to be towards young people.  

        Despite that, it does not stop some students.

        I have been through this on a number of issues.  I have students, who know I was active in civil rights and in protesting Vietnam, seek either guidance or my blessing.  My response in both cases is that they should follow their consciences, but also be prepared to accept consequences from power authorities that do not like having their mandates challenged.

        When I did what I did in civil rights I was prepared to be arrested.  It never happened.  But I understood that up front.

        If I decide to take certain kinds of action, it will be with full understanding that I may thereby permanently lose my ability to teach in a public school.   At some point I might be there.  I am not yet.

        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:44:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We had an actual student walkout in my district (0+ / 0-)

          When a student was suspended for being beaten up.  In a racist assault.

          Picket lines and everything.

          The district just backed off when they realized over half the student body was going to protest.

          They still haven't changed the punish-the-victim policy, even after they lost a million-dollar lawsuit, though.

          -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

          by neroden on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:05:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  What if they boycotted the standardized tests (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, Lady Libertine

        and all refused to show up

    •  In the middle of a recession? (0+ / 0-)

      You really think they can't find scabs?

      •  who are licensed to teach? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL

        after all, there is that nasty little provision of No Child Left Behind that is still in effect, requiring a highly qualified teacher.  

        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:08:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Response to Waiting for Superman (11+ / 0-)

    Rethinking Schools started a NOTwaitingforsuperman campaign in response to the film that has tapped into the anger and frustration that Teacher Ken describes. Lots of evidence at NOTwaitingforsuperman.org

  •  this is so depressing (4+ / 0-)

    My daughter just started college as an Education major. She is not aware of any of the problems you discuss or how the rightwing has a hate-on for teachers. And I don't have the heart to tell her. She is excited about becoming a teacher.

    So for all of you teachers, should I try to talk her into not becoming a teacher? If you all say yes, I'm not sure I could even do it, but I am curious as to what you will say.

    •  don't talk her in to or out of anything (7+ / 0-)

      make sure she is aware of the problems

      but also make sure she is aware of the pushback on behalf of education, students and teachers that is already underway.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:44:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you for your answer (4+ / 0-)

        I think I should wait before making her aware of the problems. She is having a hard time adjusting to college and she doesn't need more crap right now.

        Also, my son has 3 years of college and is taking some time off (due to some "issues") and is trying to decide where to go with his life. He has mentioned possibly becoming a music teacher.

    •  It all depends... (7+ / 0-)

      I love my students, and I love my work. My coworkers (all of them, not just the teachers) are some of the finest people in the world. I teach in a 'big urban' district that has been plagued by poor test scores for the entire length of my career. Our students are not data points and never have been, so we fight on, sometimes with no help from anyone else in a student's life to help them. At the end of my life, I will remember the best of teaching - hugs from students, former students who come to see if I'm still around so their child could be in my class. So I would say, of course become a teacher! It is a calling and always will be for brave souls, and people so called are necessary.

      Think what you are doing today. -Fred Rogers

      by JanL on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:49:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some times it really gets to ya. (5+ / 0-)

    Daughter relates that a dead baby was found across the street from one of her schools, police everywhere all day. Now, bet that made for a productive learning atmosphere, not to mention a great subject for a current events discussion, right.

    Could be Ken that for the sake of your kids you're going to have to walk. Problem is that our national ability to think has been so degraded that people are just likely to side with the system against ya.

    I mean, Oprah beatifies Michele Rhee. Huh? Huh? Oprah, whaddaya thinkin! If Oprah can't do the research, where does that leave us?

    I've lived too long, the world makes no sense any more. Or folks, your opinion may differ.

    •  I have considered possiblity of leaving (10+ / 0-)

      every year for the past half dozen or so.  Each time I find a reason to stick it out for one more year.  For one thing, my passion in writing about education is fueled in large part by still being in the classroom.  For another, I have built up enough credibility in my school and my school system that I can really push back with far less risk than some others, and I feel obligated to use that flexibility to try to make a difference.

      But one never knows.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:56:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I sympathize with you completely. But, it isn't (7+ / 0-)

    only the administration.  This hole country is still nuts.  I've mentioned before that my well-off upper-middle-class community just voted to gut the schools due to a bunch of tea-party-inspired rants about government spending out of control.  We were a top-rated district.  We'll be a basket case in 5 years.  It had nothing to do with Obama.  And you are correct with the Trump analogy.  Our politics is now reality-tv part II.  We watch with a visceral detachment forgetting that the house we're watching being burnt down is the one we live in.

    PS - we're also be closing the library, plowing under parks, and firing police officers.  I ff'ing hate the tea party.

    •  Remember, it's your own neighbors who (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, joycemocha

      are out to destroy the schools. Political hacks wouldn't be demonizing teachers as incompetent selfish slackers if it weren't politically profitable for them to do so.

      Many of your own neighbors see you as a freeloader, fear the science and critical history you teach,long to remove your remaining constraints on religious proselytizing, are outraged at the notion they should pay property taxes to educate other people's children, and even resent being expected to play some active role in the education of their own.

      This means saving the schools isn't going to be accomplished through a few victories at the ballot box-- especially now that both political parties have declared war on you. It's going to require a cultural revolution, and there are no signs yet that Americans are ready to rise to that occasion. K-12 education has already collapsed, and the assault on our universities-- the last bastion of American excellence-- has begun.

      My advice to teachers: keep your job, however you can; learn to put up with horrors you never expected you'd have to experience; educate your own children for emigration; realize that most people for most of history have been locked into oppressive and soul-killing work; and take comfort that someday there will be a need for you and your experience when it comes to rebuilding public education from the rubble up.

      •  Umm Saving the schools from what? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MGross

        How do you save a failing school by stopping reform? This is sounding like the party of "NO". The right says "We don't want government control of healthcare", now the left says "we don't want private control of education" not that either one is true.

      •  sorry but that's not true in most cases (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL

        and I will note my experience several years ago, which I acknowledge is anecdotal bu still illustrative.

        I had 129 students sit for a test passage of which is required for graduation from high school.

        126 passed.

        2 missed by one question, one missed by 2 or three (hard to tell since they will not release the conversion from raw score to reported scaled score -  it was 1 scaled point and 3 scaled points).

        But here's the kicker -  10 of those who passed failed all four quarters with me.

        I would argue that a multiple choice with no penalty for guessing is a far less accurate measure than the combination of the multiple ways I assess my students.

        One more thing -  those insisting on the imposition of the testing regimen we are now using often have little understanding of the limits of such testing, and what information you can validly draw therefrom.  Just as they totally misinterpret the meaning of international comparisons, where most of the difference in our performance can be accounted for by the far higher degree of poverty and inequity in our public schools compared to those of high performing nations.  Where we should be concentrating is on poverty, nutrition, medical and dental health, safe living conditions, economic stability for families.  We do worse on those comparisons than do the countries behind whom we rank on international test score comparisons.  If we excluded our impoverished and deprived students to be testing comparable populations we in fact do quite 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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:29:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, teacherken. As heart-breakingly (8+ / 0-)

    depressing as the content of some of your diaries may be, I nonetheless read them with interest, and I truly appreciate your focus on educational matters at this site.

    Having taught in higher-ed, I've seen the results borne from the dismantling of K-12 education in the US. While of course not true across the board, many first-year students (even at "elite" liberal-arts colleges) are ill-prepared.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:56:46 AM PDT

  •  Well (9+ / 0-)

    Plutocracies usually regard crappy education for the masses as a plus, not a minus.  Helps keep the classes well defined.

  •  And You Can Thank Oprah, Too (9+ / 0-)

    She had an entire show this week which amounted to a total rant against public education.  And a lot of moms watch that show and believe whatever her whim of the year happens to be.

    I left the corporate world last year to become a teacher.  It hasn't been easy, especially in NJ where we have an evil, psycho governor whose primary focus is destroying public education.  I volunteer and do whatever I can, though, at my son's middle school because teachers are now overloaded by larger classrooms and diminishing resources.

    Great diary.  Thanks.

    •  Please note though that (0+ / 0-)

      public education has betrayed huge numbers of kids.  Google up city graduation rates, city college preparedness rates and you will see the definition of failure.

      Now, I wouldn't call this PUBLIC school failure, but I would indeed call it failure.

      •  let me ask you a question (7+ / 0-)

        why sit through several additional years of test prep when that will not prepare you for meaningful post-secondary education, when it bores you to tears, and when you look around your neighborhood or even the condition of the building in which you are expected to attend school, with ancient books that are falling apart, and realize that people do not really care about your education or your future.  

        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:46:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Write your comments on oprah.com (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanL

          She is having another show with Duncan today.  You can also fill out an online form to offer to be on her show.  I listed the flaws in her agruments below in this forum.

          •  Her show was already taped (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JanL

            and from the twitter feed live while it was taping the voices of teachers apparently were still not all that included.  I do not know if I will have time to watch this afternoon -  this diary is getting far more traffic than I expected, and thus I have spent far more time on it that I had planned.

            "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:09:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  "Public Education" (7+ / 0-)

        Which really means teachers.  They are trying to break up the union, drive down salaries and eventually divert more tax dollars to private education.

        There are no "betrayals" by public education.  When voters decide that supporting their schools is more important than saving $12/month on their property taxes, then get back to me.  

  •  Thoughts.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citizen k

    On the "no other industry faces this criticism" issue -- how many other industries are based on a)mandatory participation b)no options c)publicly supported via taxes d)pretty universal all in all (MOST kids go through the school system) and e)basically something all of us have done and so have experienced.

    On a few other things that were posted above -- when we talk about "schools" we really need to differentiate: a)wealthy and successful schools where all or nearly all the kids really are above average b)failing rural schools c)failing urban schools d)individual bad teachers e)individual bad principals f)systemic problems g)race and class issues h)lanuage issues i)special ed/real learning problems j)management restructuring k)curricular restructuring

    We need to untangle a)American anti-intellectualism b)race and class bias in school funding c)liberal hope to DO SOMETHING from the political instinct to DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW

    We need to remember a)we're all traumatized by our schooling b)to be schooled is to admit ignorance whichmeans automatically school issues are emotionally laden territory

    We really should admit some of the following:  a)there actually are some bad teachers and we actually can identify some of the worst of them b)there actually are students who come into the system with very significan deficiencies and these kids need to be on a different time schedule so that they can make up for what they weren't handed birth-age 5 c)there are probably better and worse curricula, but there's no substitute for a genuinely well-informed teacher who can compensate for dumb texts, typos, poorly structured problem sets and out and out errors

    Thus far I see little in the way of actual coversation regarding these issues.  All the egos and political posturings seem to get in the way of starting with the very basic things -- kids and what they need and then moving a small step at a time towards supplying that as is possible.

    Instead of emphasizing kids, we get adult trauma and ego, corporate curricular interests, electoral considerations, and panicked parents.

    Education is a highly demagoguable issue, and man does it get demagogued.

    Maybe it's really time to step back from the crap and focus on some really basic things with regard to kids.

    What do we want them to have seen and thought about by the end of 12th grade, end of the year, end of any given day.  How do we put that in front of kids at the developmentally appropriate times?  Start with the kids for a change!

    •  you seem to think teachers have not been (8+ / 0-)

      paying attention to the needs of students.  If that is in fact what you intend to say, I'm not sure why any teacher, especially those of us who have been advocating on behalf of our students on top of other responsibilities, should bother to engage with you?

      If that is not your intent, you may need to clarify what your intent is.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:48:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the problem you have (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sophie Amrain, Lissa Drake

        is that those of us who have had children in poor schools know that there are a lot of crappy teachers and even worse administrators. You can pretend that is not the case all you want, but it does not help you.

      •  It's a mixed answer to your polemical charge (0+ / 0-)

        Are there some teachers who do not put the needs of kids up front?  Well, yes.

        You have expressed concern about TFA as a career stepping stone.  Is this career path really about putting kids first?

        I have dealt with teachers whose tempers, temperaments, lack of knowledge of the subject they are teaching is deeply problematic.  Is this putting kids first?

        I have also dealt with incredibly devoted teachers who go the extra mile, who don't make excuses, whose students learn, whose students thrive.

        I will not defend the weaker teachers, but I also will not at all defend anything Arne Duncan and the corporatization of education stand for.

        Teachers are neither infallible nor the sole and singular root of the problem, and in crafting better educational experiences for kids for whom the system fails, we need to know both sides of this.

        There are teachers who should not be in the classroom.  There is also a lot more room for respecting and supporting the teachers who do belong there.

        If we're to "fix" anything regarding American education, we really need an unemotional look at the whole range of school experiences.

        We need to separate out all of the inputs and see where the failures are.  AP US History is a sign of success.  Consumer math for 12th graders who have flunked previous math courses is more a sign of problems.

        PG County probably does better on graduation rates and college readiness than does the District.  So any kind of "fix" has to take into account these kinds of differences.

        Joel Klein, I think it was, instituted the Everyday Mathematics curriculum in NYC, save in those schools where the students were already doing well.  It's a lousy math curriculum in my opinion, but at least there was some sense that the "fix" shouldn't be blanket.

        My guess is that until we make far more distinctions between local needs, we're not going to improve much of anything.  And "local" here means not just school by school, but classroom by classroom and kid by kid as well.

        So, in the end, yes there are some seriously weak teachers who do a disservice to the kids they have streaming through their classrooms.

        And yes, there are devoted, smart, caring teachers who have to undo that damage and then add something positive.

        •  I admire some teachers who have come thru TFA (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanL, big spoiled baby

          I think it is totally wrong to enter the teaching ranks with a crash 5 week course intending only 2 stay for two years.  I strongly suggest you read Barbara Torre Veltri's book on TFA, since she worked with TFA for a number of years, and had access to a large number of those who passed through its ranks.

          I do not repeat on every thread all the points that have been appropriately made elsewhere.

          Are there teachers who do not belong?  YeP.

          Whose fault is that?  How about the administrators who let them reach tenure, and then do not properly supervise and document so that if they cannot be turned around they are properly dismissed.

          But the percentage of such teachers who have been around for sufficient time to be tenured in those states that have tenure - remember, quite a few do not -  are a relatively small percentage.  Many of those who do not belong get dismissed or counseled out in the first few years before tenure is even an issues.

          Just because there are some teachers who don't belong is no reason to bash and demean the entire teaching profession.  Nor is it reason to remove from the rest of the teachers due process protections from abusive administrators, school boards, influential parents, and the like.  

          I have discussed all of these issues before.

          What is making teachers angry is the concerted and organized attack on teachers as a whole, on the teaching profession, on public schools.

          In my building those that are the angriest are among the best teachers in the building, by any measure.

          That should concern you.  Even if you think most teachers can be dispensed with (they cannot) and be easily replaced with competent replacements(also wrong).  When it is the very best of our teachers who are getting most upset, there is something very wrong with what is going on.

          Regardless of what you think of me as a writer or thinker, I am recognized as a very good teachers -  by my school, my school system, my peers, my parents, my students, and so on. I am angry.  I think what I write is a fair representation of what I am hearing and seeing and reading.

          I belong to several groups of teachers, one of which in particular consists of outstanding teachers who are highly articulate about policy.  While we do not agree on all issues, and our private discussions can be quite rigorous, we are in near unanimity that the ongoing attacks on the teaching profession and on public schools is wrong, very wrong.

          "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:19:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you have me wrong in several places (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling

            I do not think "most" (your word, not mine) teachers should be dispensed with (your idea, not mine).

            I'm sure you're a fabulous teacher.  Your passion shines through here, you do AP US and survive.  You can't do that without a lot of background knowledge, amazing communication skills, devotion, organizational talent, a feel for the developmental age of your students and so on.

            Indeed, many lousy teachers do get booted before tenure.  Two of my personal horror stories met that fate.  Sad for them, better for the kids.

            Other of my personal horror stories were fairly respected teachers, or older teachers, or teachers who were profoundly unfamiliar with the curriculum (5th grade math, for one, algebra 1 for another, pre-calc for a third).

            Again, there are distinctions to be made, lots and lots of distinctions.  As soon as we start making these distinctions, everyone's polemics fall apart.

            Arne Duncan needs to separate out home environment issues from school issues.  Paul Vallas needs to know that letting 22 year old Ivy Leaguers teach for 4 years and then burn out isn't going to create a community that lets schools succeed.  Joel Klein needs to know that the Everyday Math curriculum is highly problematic in the best of hands, and a total disaster in lesser hands.  Parents need to know that homework is good, that extra-curriculars are EXTRA, that studying with and talking to their kids are the best two things they can do.  Teachers need to see that there is weakness they turn blind eyes to.

            Once we're see just how individual these problems are, we can no longer advocate massive overhauls as the problems are really too localized for massive curricular buys, massive changes in school structure, and the like.

            We're still at the level of thinking that there's a singular problem, that the "fix" must also be singular, and that all we have to do is....

            Charter schools won't do it.  Competition won't do it.  Everyday Math won't do it.  What works K-3 might not work for 4 and 5, and certainly won't help high schoolers.

            What works in NYC won't play in PG County or Montgomery County or Cook County or LAUSD.  The fixes at one school might not work at another, the fixes for one kid might not work for another.

            Where that leaves us is needing some space and funding for helping teachers do some really basic things like see how the topic they teach hooks into other topics, see how the grade level material needs to be set in the context of above and below grade level material so that kids have places to stick things.  The careful push from concrete to abstract thinking needs to be handled far better than it typically is handled.  It's a major sticking point in a lot of ways for many kids to go from concrete presentations to abstract patterns that allow for prediction and metaphorical discussion.

            There seems to be a broad failure to get kids from math table memorization into ratios, proportions, percentages, and fractions and decimals.  Weakness in these areas means the transition to algebra is nearly impossible.  This is largely a teacher weakness.  There shouldn't be a middle school math teacher who can't explain all of these concepts in 150 different ways so that 150 confusions of terms, numbers, weird places for zeroes and the like can't be dealt with.

            From your perch at a suburban high school teaching social studies, I get the feeling you don't see as much of what happens in k-8 schools and with math and science, though perhaps you see some of the results.

            Many assignments are poorly thought out, many don't have good "hooks" in them to get the kids involved, much homework is disconnected and foolish, many projects reward more for having a color printer and a graphics program than for making some kind of interesting connection.

            Many teachers make significant grammar and other language mistakes, don't understand the math they are teaching.  Some teachers are downright cruel to the kids, intolerant of youthful bounce, overly critical, unsupportive, hooked on one or another failed fad to get information through.

            What K-8 doesn't seem to have is enough time, sustained time, to deal with language deficiencies, to deal with kid energy, and to deal with math problems.  There is also insufficient support for music and kind art (not the stuff where the teacher makes fun of you for how primitively you draw...)

            Again, the distinctions are crucial.  Early grades are not like high school.  K-8 certification is insufficient past about 2nd grade or so for math and science, and past about 5th or 6th grade for language arts.  And of course, by the time a kid is in h.s., the teachers should have subject area degrees so that they have the basic concepts of their fields down.  And no teacher should ever be totally dependent on the text book for information.

            I live in a "good" school district where there is a lovely math/science acceleration program, a lot of support for kids who lag, a vast race gap in scores, high investments in education, and still I see seriously weak teachers, poor curricular decisions, a school board I can't always understand, and a lot of odd policies.  Some principals run tight ships in terms of hallway movement, but then blow it on some other issues.  Some principals always stand by the teachers even when there's a real problem.  Other principals seem to be good advocates for what is educationally responsible.

            My best response again is that we need very much to disaggregate the sense of overarching "education has failed" into a lot of components.  And we need to do the fixing at the component level.

            The attacks on teaching as a profession are as overly wrongheaded as would be an across the board defense of current practices.

            Again, disaggregation would get us beyond seeing one another as enemies so that perhaps we all can be partners.

            Your school might be doing mostly fine.  City schools don't do mostly fine.  The race gap is massive across the country.  There is failure.

            •  several things you get wrong about me (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JanL
              1.  I have taught twice in middle schools, grade 8 in a 7-8 and grade 7 in a 6-7-8.  And since for my first 5 years at my current high school I taught 9th grade, I have a very good idea of what gets taught k-8, and not just in social studies since I talke with teachers in other departments when I share kids.
              1.  Our high school is not really suburban.  We get our fair share of kids who come from neighborhoods that while outside of city boudaries have many of the characteristics of inner city schools.  Right now I am aware of at least two of my students who are homeless.  Not supposed to know but sometimes I find out.
              1. Much of what is now being reported as failure across the country is a direct result of several iterations of the kind of reform being pushed now.  Increasingly we are seeing kids arrive at our high school ever less prepared as they have spent more time under the testing regimen of NCLB.  And yet the solution is supposed to be still more testing?
              1.  There is NOT massive failure across the country.  That is quite wrong. We have a significant failure in schools heavily populated by those of lower SES -  that tends to coincide in cities with people of color, but in rural areas it depends where you are.  What we are doing in response is in fact increasing the drop out rate - and people were warned about this more than a decade ago.

              "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 12:20:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have not come out for more testing actually (0+ / 0-)

                but I get the feeling we'll get nowhere on this at all.

                I am not a "reformer" in the Duncan/Bush/Rod Paige mold, or in the previous iteration of Ravitch.

                I have huge problems with the testing regime, huge problems with the dumbing down of the curriculum.

                And yet, I also have huge problems with the drop out rate, with the lack of literacy.

                I'd rather Arne Duncan found some other way to live, I am profoundly disappointed in Obama's education platform.  I had honestly wished for better from him.

                I still think that we as a nation haven't agreed on what schools are supposed to do, what success means, what failure means -- beyond the obvious.

                And I still think that urban and rural education, and some suburban systems as well, do not do what they need to be doing.

                There are badly served kids all across the country, and these kids really do deserve more resources including teachers with subject area degrees, a curriculum that times better with their school readiness level, school buildings and routines and spaces that allow them to function.

                I am sorry if I've hit a nerve, which clearly I have.  Again, I am sure you are a fabulous teacher -- it comes out in your postings.  I am equally sure I've run into some truly awful teachers in good districts.

                But I definitely think this back and forth is largely fruitless as you seem to think I'm attacking things I am absolutely not attacking.  Likely I am not really being clear.  For that, I apologize.

                •  Let's see where we have agreement (0+ / 0-)

                  I absolutely agree we have not decided on what we want for our schools.  But what I see happening is rather than having an open discussion about that in which a variety of viewpoints can be heard, we are having one perception shoved down our throats.  It is based on suppose economic factors, many of which are erroneous.  It misuses the data from international comparisons on test scores without looking at the context from which those test scores are derived.  It assumes things can be fixed entirely within the schools despite everything we know about the incredible importance of out of school factors.

                  Now, if you can agree that the way we are approaching the problem is wrong, even if only because we have not gone through the hard work of coming to an understanding of what we want from schools and what we will have to do  - not all of it in schools - to achieve what we want, then we have a basis for a conversation and an explanation.

                  But as soon as you start to repeat any of the talking points being used to drive the discussion by those who in my opinion either do not understand the nature of school and teaching and learning or simply do not care because they have other interests in mind, then I will push back, because someone has to say that this emperor is naked.

                  I apologize if you think I am misinterpreting you.  We face a crisis, and it is that the democratic nature of our schools is about to disappear under a corporate model that will do permanent damage.  

                  In a crisis if one is going to engage one had better be prepared to be very firm.

                  We are under an onslaught -  Waiting for Superman, Time Magazine, NBC, Oprah -  an assault that has as far as it can been excluding all contrary voices -  NBC blocking critics and removing their posts until they publicly got caught, for example, or including almost no teachers until embarrassed by the stink some of us teachers raised on that point.  Look at all that and perhaps you will understand the ferocity with which some of us are fighting back.

                  We cannot allow the narrative that is being shoved down the throats of the American people to go unchallenged, or the war is lost before the battle is even engaged, and perhaps half a generation of those children about whom we should be most concerned are the ones who will pay the price.

                  "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:13:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Fair enough. (0+ / 0-)

                    Indeed I think that we have yet to figure out how universal public education should work, to what ends, how much it should be charged with compensating for deep social inequity.

                    Because I'm not a K-12 teacher, I don't feel quite the onslaught you do, though I'm seeing the edges of the wave in higher ed at this point.  Eventually I may too feel besieged.

                    I am all for open discussion, I am well aware of the views of parents, some teachers, and of course the policy people and hangers-on.

                    I think that Duncan basically wants to do good, but is so totally incapable of seeing the harm he's doing that I honestly don't know how anyone can be that clueless.  He went to the Lab School, which is a helluva school, and it's embedded in a diverse neighborhood in the midst of a sea of poverty.  He thinks he gets it.  He doesn't.  But he does have the humane sense to recognize that Chicago's graduation rate isn't acceptable or humane.

                    I'm guessing we agree on this much.

                    My feeling moving forward is that what we really need to be talking about as a nation is issues of equity (as are brought up in Savage Inequalities), the ways that schools can be restructured to deal with early childhood education so that kids in "print poor"/language poor households can get all of that print and language before formal schooling starts.

                    Print poor kids may simply need a couple of extra years of schooling to compensate for what they didn't get at home before school started.  And they probably need additional compensation throughout.  There is likely major restructuring of the school day, the school year, the grade level, and the content of the curriculum to be dealt with.  For this to happen, everyone has to work together.

                    We may well also need some way to handle high mobility among low income kids via vaguely more organized curricula.

                    I have seen a number of kindergartners slide down down down as they "navigate" the school system.  The damage is frightening, and I am now starting to recognize the names of kids I knew as 5 year olds in the crime list in the local paper.  This is a horrible feeling to trace through the trajectory of hope for 5 year olds, to see how they were treated in school, and to see what's become of them.  It aches.  I am sure it will worsen in the next few years.

                    We clearly need to form coalitions rather than line up on the battlefield, and this is where a little gentle politicking would be in order for the national union leaders and local school personnel.

                    If it becomes the thing to speak to parental trauma, to give voice to kids in school, to note that as with health care reform, there is greatness intermixed with mediocrity and we have to figure out what's what, if we can talk both about the things we all get wrong, and the things we get right, we might be better off.

                    You speak to the feeling of besiegement that teachers have, but think about some of the anecdotes parents and students can pull out -- insufficient slots in NYC high schools to guarantee algebra placement for all kids, teachers who ignore kids, and on and on -- these tales come from a feeling of besiegement among parents and kids.  The graduation rates and the "college ready" numbers are truly horrific for some districts.  And even kids who finish well in lousy schools really don't have what they need to manage college well.

                    Politicians get slammed, real estate interests get slammed, cities lose people to the burbs, white flight demographic shifts have been massive and have moved resources from those who really need support to those who are already fine.

                    Everyone feels besieged in all of this.  And what I think needs to happen is first a kind of public therapy in which people confess their frustrations, admit how awful it can feel to walk back into school with your kindergartner after years of escaping from school, how powerless kids can feel when they are confused, how hopeless parents feel when they try to advocate for their kids' needs.  AND how powerless teachers can feel despite their being the "authority" against which we are all acting out fantasies of rebellion.  (I'm decidedly interested in political fantasies of this sort!)

                    As we get through this stage of public mourning or wailing or whatever (which I really think is a necessary process), we need to start figuring out just how much of what kinds of stuff schools should be offering.

                    An equal basic education?  How much for the top end?  How much for learning problems of one sort or another?  How much to generate corporate automatons? How much to generate citizens, and musicians, and people with good hygiene habits?  We ask a lot of our schools, and maybe we ask too much sometimes.  But I'm not sure we entirely know what it is we do ask, or if we should.

                    What I would hope for is to avoid yet another round of fake "solutions."  Charter schools seem to be largely ridiculous.  Magnet schools apparently have some success stories, but they leave behind horrific neighborhood schools that are way underserved.  Testing doesn't make any kids learn anything at all, but it can indicate at some general level the unevenness of schools.  Of course, we already know that schools are uneven.

                    Many reading and math fads seem to be nonsense.  Fluency looks to be junk, Everyday Math seems to be pretty bad, the basic social studies curriculum has seemed pretty rational all in all, but the science curriculum has been pretty weak.  Foreign language and music and art are a mixed bag.  Gym seems to be a study in immobility and waiting in line.  And the transition from middle school math to algebra is very badly handled.

                    I get the feeling that these are not quite the outcomes people would have hoped for in adopting the curricula we have.

                    To the extent that teachers ignore some of these fads and poor texts and lousy problem sets, the kids seem to do better.  But there are definitely teachers who have a harder time making up their own curricular materials to support the junk the district hands them.

                    The responsibility for the problems we have is divided, and is divided in ways that make it easy to pass blame to other people.  What I really hope is that we can get past the blame and start developing better material, helping weaker teachers get hold of it, doing a lot more sharing across grade levels than I've ever seen happen here.  (I cannot believe how locked into grade level things are.)

                    But the fact is that demagoguing is far more satisfying than sitting down with a curriculum and figuring out what to keep and toss.  I'm not sure I can imagine Arne Duncan's doing the right thing.

                    I think, then, I'd call for a national month of wailing and confession, a national year of listening to teachers' stories, a national decade of shutting up the politicians who have never been in a classroom, a national century of telling corporate interests in for-profit education to go into exile, and I'd make a whole lot of floor time for kids.  They actually have a fair amount of wisdom about what works and what doesn't.

                    Thanks for the back and forth, by the way.  It's always a learning process for me.

                    •  By the way, fyi (0+ / 0-)

                      the nearest high school here is half minority, over a third low income.  Not sure if this is useful info or not, but it might inform some of my views.

                      •  I teach in a school more than 1/2 "minority" (0+ / 0-)

                        in a district that is only about 13% white. Our official FRL numbers are less than 20% but a lot of kids don't register because they won't eat the school food.  Come senior year more sign up to get waivers of college application fees.

                        Some teachers never learn how to navigate around the central office mandates.  I happen to teach in a school which is united in trying to do things right even when the district tries to tell us to do something different.  Since we have a magnificent track record and a national reputation, in general they back off, although every now and then we get a superintendent or subordinate trying to put us in our place -  until state legislators and school board members tell them to back off.  In that regard I have been very lucky compared to many teachers.

                        But even in our school we are feeling the pressure.  We will lose some good people because the school system badly mishandled the financial crisis, and did not properly inform some key people that their stipends might disappear. Imagine finding out by opening up your paycheck that thousands of dollars of additional pay had been cut.

                        I balance the battles in our system with what I do here and elsewhere nationally.

                        I am not hopeful, but so far I refuse to give up.

                        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 05:08:46 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I know many many people who are getting (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          teacherken

                          furloughs -- I guess they get a few days off each month....  But no, the pay cuts have been horrible, the loss of teachers from pink slipping has been substantial.  My son's algebra 2 class has close to 40 kids in it....  It's pretty bad all around.  And it's not like the kids suddenly need less support this year than last. In fact, with the economy, kids need more support.

                          I just wish the testing meme and the word "accountability" didn't play so well....  Such empty concepts all in all.

                          (And one other FYI, I went mostly through MCPS right next door to you....)

                          •  we are starting to build alliances (0+ / 0-)

                            I just got an email from ASCD thanking me for featuring Gene Carter's first letter to Oprah Winfrey, and also telling me that he was far from happy with her show today and giving me the text of how he responded.

                            Meanwhile parent groups and teachers groups are starting to link up.

                            Some teachers who have never before been active are stepping up -  I see that in those in my building who are my fellow union reps and in those volunteering for the faculty advisory committee.

                            Signs that things are not yet hopeless.

                            "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:03:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

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

                            If the parents and teachers can be on the SAME side, can support each others narratives, we'll be in better shape.  It's too easy to demonize one another, and it's too easy to refuse the validity of one another's complaints.

                            The best way to get well beyond this version of the story is really to start with kids -- let the kids speak out about what they feel they need, and let the parents and teachers unite behind that.

                            The whole discourse can be shifted, alliances can change.

                            As crucial and wonderful and amazing and supportive as unions are, the fact is that the US is nowhere near as pro-union as it used to be (thanks to a certain political party's decisions and the existence of "right to work" policies).

                            The meme that gets associated with teachers union activism is that the teachers are all out for themselves.  This needs to be interrupted, and again the best way to get past this is to have the kids speak out about what is good for them.  It's just about certain that unionized teachers have better working conditions and better working conditions for teachers create better spaces for kids.  Make the discourse kid-centered.  And where the kids have suffered, acknowledge it and make clear suggestions for improvement even if it comes at some personal cost.  The kids who don't graduate have lost nearly everything, and the ones who are shot or beaten to death have really lost everything.

                            Play up the idea that even if you've had horrible teachers, there are usually a few inspirational ones as well, and let the inspirational stories flow.

                            The range of psychic associations with schooling and teachers needs to shift so that the community supports the schools and teachers and kids.

                            If you look at the things we as a society demonize, it's quite a list -- egg heads, teenagers, children in public, long boring books, mean teachers who hit kids with rulers.  If you look at what we glorify, it's also telling:  sports, action, individualism, masculinity, short memories, social networking, entertainment....

                            The narrative surrounding the demons and gods here undermines pretty much everything that schools need to do.  It's a tall order to get us to remember that learning is wonderful, that teachers guide us, that books can thrill, that puzzling through things is fun, that our years in school can be good.

                            The social pain of growing up gets tossed into the mix of bad social patterns regarding school and voila, the mix of hatred and corporate takeover and bad associations and desire to destroy....  Add in some panic over one's own kids, some facts regarding truly awful schools, the anti-union habit and indeed there's a lot of meme-changing that needs to happen.

                            It's never impossible to alter people's associations between feelings and experiences, so I would never say that it's hopeless.  But I would suggest that the tactics should rest in part on an analysis of the psychological connections people make between school and self.

                            I can't remember ever seeing anyone really address these associations as a significant issue in education reform, which of course doesn't mean it hasn't happened.  But I think it would be worthwhile to get a couple of teachers onto Oprah and speak to these emotions.

                            I wish teachers the best, and I really really hope Duncan finds a new job somewhere......

                          •  not to beat a dead horse or drag on posting (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            elfling

                            well beyond its natural and welcome life.....

                            BUT....

                            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

                            This is a link to Joel Klein's HuffPo piece on how great that movie is.

                            Teachers should study every sentence of his rhetoric and figure out good counters.

                            He hits every emotional button, he promises to be friends with teachers, he sounds reasonable.  He demonizes micro-managing teachers' contracts -- so here's the union enemy thing.

                            I'd recommend posting a typical contract and annotating it and explaining every clause.

                            I'd recommend acknowledging the fantasy that somehow a charter school saves every kid and try to explain statistics vs. anecdotes.  There's an analogue between his emotional push and what's going on with mammograms and their perhaps not-so-predictive value.  There will be anecdotes of saved women, saved kids, but the overall stats don't really support the anecdotes as typical cases.  But because we judge based on anecdotes and not based on stats we have lost the argument before it starts.

                            And let's face it, it's not that there aren't some cases that counter the overall stats, it's that the cases are not the rule, they are the exception.

                            I will end here regardless of further thoughts because it is getting long in the tooth.....

                            Thanks again for the back and forth.  It's deeply appreciated.

  •  “Experts” only play politics. (8+ / 0-)

    As a nation we have been focused on improving the current state of our schools for decades.  Others have made the point that if there had been any approach, any formula, which was shown to work we would be doing it by now.  There is not.

    America has been stuck in the Reagan/Bill Bennett/Republican education mindset since 1980 or so: teachers are the problem.  It was typical republican politics: create a villain and project any failures on them.  Because declining education couldn’t be the result of poor political policies, it just couldn’t.  And those unions!  Anyone who was of age in the 80’s should remember that, according to republicans, unions were responsible for all of America’s woes.  This concept was hardened into concrete, taken as gospel in every academic or expert’s attempt to solve the education problem.

    Anyone who remembers this phrase: "cut taxes, increase defense spending, and balance the budget in 4 years" understands that beginning in the 1980’s politics became a game of simplistic appeals, selling of lies, and framing the enemy.  Teachers have remained a targeted scapegoat ever since.  But the assigning blame for the entirety of problems in education to teachers was a political contrivance.  It had no basis in reality.  And however accepted by politicians and the public it has become it still remains a political contrivance.  And as long as all of the experts enter into their pursuit of a "solution" with the supposition that teachers are the problem no real solution will be found.

    And it seems now the blame is growing to include the administrators, everyone in the building.  This is logical.  Because of teachers have been the problem for 30 years and the problem hasn’t been fixed then it is necessary to expand the blame rather than admit they have been wrong.  It is still politics.

    No political will exists to deal with the true social and economic issues that truly underlie the problem because, God forbid, solution might require more funding.  And since the more funding door was closed in the 80’s they will not even allow such things to be looked at.  But some have.  And in those cases what is understood is this: the solutions to the majority of the problem almost all lie outside the traditional role of teaching, meaning classroom instruction.  That is a fact.  That is what must be dealt with.  And blaming the teachers for such problems is pure politics.  It will never lead to a solution.  And it is a lie.

  •  I love it when groups ask citizens not to vote nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  teacherken, (3+ / 0-)

    I've not been here much over the past several months, I hope you'll forgive my questions.

    Are the new policies similar to No Child Left Behind? Are the changes additions to No Child Left Behind?

    •  worse than NCLB (8+ / 0-)

      Arne Duncan is a tool for the privatizers of public schools.

      http://www.therealnews.com/...

      http://www.stickwithanose.com/...

      •  NCLB created tutoring jobs (0+ / 0-)

        Public school systems could hire tutors with NCLB funds, so that created jobs and offloaded some of the teachers' stress.

        •  that is not an accurate representation (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharoney, JanL

          the requirement to use some of Title I funds for Supplemental Education Services did not contain a requirement that the person providing those services be a certified teacher, or even meet any standard of competence.  In fact, it did not even require that the person be located in the US.  And for the large part it, like the requirement of offering the right to transfer to a better performing public school, was totally inapplicable to the 20% of students attending rural schools where there were no SES providers and no other school to transfer to.

          In some cases students got individual attention from competent people -  who were working with fewer than ten students at a time, while in the classroom the teachers still had over 30.  

          Unfortunately, in other cases what the kids were "learning" from the tutors was wrong and required reinstruction to undo the damage caused by those who should not have been offering such instruction.

          "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:22:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  inconsistent (7+ / 0-)

      on the one hand the administration acknowledges the current tests are flawed and is putting a 1/3 of a billion into better assessments, but meanwhile wants to use data from the current assessments to classify schools as being in the bottom 5% and thereby approaching them in a punitive fashion using one of four approaches none of which has ever been demonstrated to work.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 06:49:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Top down revampings by revolving door feds... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joycemocha

    ...are one of the biggest problems with the American education system, IMHO.  As a retired govt. worker (nothing to do with education, BTW) I saw it was part of the culture of the federal government to constantly changing what wasn't broken, and when they attempted to change what was broken, it was without the input or advice of the people who did the day to day work.

    Changes are instituted from the top down, by think tank types, or people who either never have done the actual jobs they are determined to revise, or they haven't done them for a long, long time.  Then when changes are instituted, there is no plan in place to do periodic objective reviews of the changes to see if in fact they are actually effective and are accomplishing the prechange goals.
    There is no true effort to "tweak" the new processes to make sure that unanticipated  roadblocks, obstructions, and/or ineffective or counterproductive side-effects of the change are dealt with.  

    One sad thing that I have seen, and heard from former colleagues in the federal government is that many of the rules, regulations and procedures that were in place when I began with the govt. and which were changed over the years with each new Administration and Congress--and with little thought as to why those rules and/or procedures were put in place to begin with--have evolved back to where they were when I began working there decades ago.  Why?  1. Because manay of them didn't need to be changed--they just needed to be followed correctly, and to be follow-up on.  2.  Before making vast changes, the people doing the work should have been consulted in depth, their ideas and suggestions should have been noted and followed as much as possible, and after changes were made, constant review of the new process, with course adjustments as needed should be part of the change process.

  •  I've poked around in discussions (7+ / 0-)

    about teaching in this venue.

    Among proponents of educational "reform" who believe schools should be run as businesses, we find a belief that teacher "self-interest" in adequate pay, adequate working conditions, and opportunities for professional development, precludes their interest in student welfare. We expose this kernel of falsehood time and again, wherever it appears, is what we do. As long as it persists, we can't have a real discussion about educational reform.

    •  Well you are just wrong about reformers (0+ / 0-)

      You twisted stuff up fox news style, you should have higher standards. You are not exposing anything I don't see anyone talking about cutting teachers pay, I hear people demanding raises based on performance instead of years on the job. I don't hear people rejecting professional development I see people supporting effective professional development that teaches teachers how to be as good as the best teachers.

      The anti reform ranters are using the same strategy we have all seen for decades and they say the same things. The solutions they offered came down to things we couldn't change and money. Money didn't magically become more abundant. The things that could not be changed like parents and incomes actually got worse. So we were dead in the water for some time.

      I welcome the reform movement, it's going somewhere even if we don't know where exactly. That is probably a sign that we are really changing things.

      •  My brain explodes trying to follow this one :) (0+ / 0-)

        As for this choice nugget right here:

        You are not exposing anything I don't see anyone talking about cutting teachers pay, I hear people demanding raises based on performance instead of years on the job.

        Hearing "talk about cutting teachers' pay," clearly, wasn't the allegation I made. The parroted RW talking points I was referring to--which you do run into around here--actually posit that teachers' concern with their own pay and working conditions, on the one hand, and their pride in their craft and concern with student welfare, on the other, are at cross-purposes. No such dichotomy exists.

        Two, if you're going to "demand raises based on performance," just how are you going to measure "performance"? How do you do it fairly, and well? Test scores? Hmmmmm. There might be room for discussion here--just as long as the biases of testing advocates remain at the center-front of everyone's mind. I am thinking of instances where politicians advocating educational testing have, in fact, turned out to have relatives in the testing industry who were enriched when schools implemented testing.

        Hint: These "anti-reform" ranters you speak of. Mostly teachers, with "livelihoods to protect," eh? Boy, they sound like a real pain :) Well, if you want to engage in a good-faith conversation about educational reform, it might just be good to develop a bit of empathy and understanding, and to learn a little something from their views.

  •  Race to the Top (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Daddy Bartholomew, JanL, Mike08

    Our Superintendent in Buffalo was finally cowed into firing 3 principals at problem schools, after battling for a while to save their jobs. He is not the type to play favorites (he butts heads frequently with the teaching federation here) and it was pretty clear that he thought these were effective principals in problem schools, and these principals were making a difference.

    If the principals and teachers are being automatically fired from their jobs, what then is the incentive to improve the school. Yes, the school district will have their funding increased by several million with Race to the Top funds, but that money hardly replaces all the cuts to the system. It backfills shortages. Instead of Racing the Top, it's more like, Shore Up the Subsiding Foundation.

    So, now he's going to hire 3 new principals. Presumably, he hired the absolute best people he could find 3 years ago. I'm sure he can find another 3 that are just as/almost as good as the 3 he fired. I just wonder if the new 3 realize they might be committing career suicide, and if they do look at the promotion in those terms, will they want the jobs? And if they don't want the jobs, what then?

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:04:46 AM PDT

  •  Teacher Ken please run for office. Somebody (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Daddy Bartholomew, JanL, airmarc

    like you who knows what they are talking about from experience should be at the table. The opportunistic politicians, Washington bureaucrats, and brown nosers should have to deal with folks like you who know what they are talking about and put the education of kids first.

    You might hate it and would rather teach, but think about it.

    This reminds of the author of Angela's Ashes who said now everybody wants to hear what he thinks about education, but nobody did when he was just a teacher with decades of experience.

  •  Slap that person upside the head (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Daddy Bartholomew, JanL, joycemocha

    who suggested that "teachers not vote." That has to be the dumbest thing I ever heard.

    This should be a call to arms for teachers to mobilize politically, in their communities and in the workplace, as never before.

    Diary tipped and recommended, and never, ever stop speaking out and working for positive change.

    "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:15:27 AM PDT

    •  Just don't ask us to vote for pro-corporate (0+ / 0-)

      Democrats, because its suicidal to vote for someone who is deliberately destroying your life, your livelihood and your community.

      And far too many democrats qualify for that assessment.

      A big fat 'F' for Obama's education policies and his cannibal minister for education, Arno Duncan.

      •  Did I mention Democrats? (0+ / 0-)

        I did not. I share your loathing for Arne Duncan and for Obama's public education policies.

        But Duncan isn't on the ballot, and neither is Obama. Teachers have to mobilize politically for school board elections, municipal and county elections, and state legislative elections, all of which have direct bearing on teachers' job situations, their job security and bargaining power, and the nature and institutional culture of their workplaces.

        Many of these races are "nonpartisan," and in such cases party affiliations don't apply.

        I doubt that you disagree with me that in these cases, for teachers to sit home and not vote, and not mobilize their communities for positive change, is both stupid and politically suicidal.

        "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 03:59:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "New" programs allow TPTB to dodge accountability (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reino, 3goldens, neroden

    ...and responsibility.  They can just point to the fact that they're "doing something" by implementing radical (though untested) changes, and that while short-term results may be experiencing growing pains, it's too soon to see the long-term results.

    The problem is that by the time we can see the long-term results, and see that the "new & innovative" changes they put in place are dismal failures--TPTB are no longer in power, and the new Powers that Be then make their brand name changes, the failures of which won't be evident until....  You can see the pattern here, and it's not one that is a good thing for the education system or anyone involved in it--from the teachers to the students.

  •  I'm a former teacher (12+ / 0-)

    and wouldn't go back for one year for ten times the salary.

    I'm not really mad at this administration. I think the basic problem with public attitudes toward teachers comes from the Reagan/conservative cynical assault on all public institutions. Conservatives appeal to those who want something for nothing. The pattern is to flog relentlessly exagerated stories of incompetence to justify condemning an institution in order to justify defunding it. There is no downside to underfunding public schools if you are rich enough to go private.

    So what is the solution? I really don't know. We are, as a nation, in a downward spiral. The engine for the downward spiral is the lack of a sense of the common good. Conservatives have sucessfully turned us into a dog eat dog nation where institutions for the common good are despised, underfunded, and blamed for the failure to produce miracles on a nickle each. That suits the public's desire to dodge their own responsibilities.

    I really don't know what the solutions is except it sure won't help to elect blue dogs or Republicans.

    Second star on the right and straight on til morning

    by wren on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:42:20 AM PDT

    •  Bullseye! (6+ / 0-)

      This comment is dead-on accurate. This should be the main theme of every election season...

      Republicans just simply don't care about the common good. They despise any idea or process that helps shorten the gap between the haves and the have nots. Between the rich and the poor. Between the winners and the losers. For a group that is mostly Christian, they are curiously loyal to Darwin's "only the the strong shall survive" way of thinking.

      Think about it. They are against everything that is for the common good of all Americans. They are against universal health care, quality public education, financial safety nets, environmentally friendly policies, equal rights for women and minorities, protective regulations... the list goes on and on.

      Measure your success not by what you gain, but rather what it cost you to get it.

      by seattledad on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:39:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To be fair (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        edtastic

        I think we should query about whether they are really against the "common good" or whether they are against the ways proposed to reach the common good.

        I don't think they really want to avoid good education or conversely that they want to pollute with no regulation.

        I think the reality is more nuanced than is often porrayed. For example, it would be just as incongruous to portray pro-choice people as actively desiring abortions. The reality may be deeper than superficial "us vs them" and "good vs evil" binaries.

        Of course, underpinning all of this is the definition of "common good." I doubt we can all agree on an exact definition across the board in numerous arenas.

        •  You don't think that? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tom Taaffe

          Have you even listened to what they SAY? They oppose anything that stands in the way of big business and the wealthy making a bigger profit – and they are open about that argument. You BET they want the ability to pollute with no regulation – and they openly say it's because of the cost to business. They have little interst in "good" education, although I guess that depends on how you define "good."

          I think we CAN agree on a definition of "common good." It's what enhances the standard of living of a majority of people — not a handful. And the Republicans have made it pretty clear they don't want to do that — or when they claim they do, they back it up with policies — like tort reform for health-care reform – that have been proven not to do that but rather enhance profit for a few.

          You can't win if you look at those who would defeat your goals and say, "They're really good, kind souls who disagree about methods." Maybe once upon a time, but today's Republicans are NOT that. When they made sure we got only a sliver of what we wanted in the health care bill — they accomplished more than we did despite being the minority - and now they want to repeal that sliver, they are sending the message that they will not rest until they have 100% and we have nothing. You cannot negotiate with that or ascribe good intentions that simply different from ours in methods.

          De-orangify Congress: Justin Coussoule for Oh-08 http://www.coussouleforcongress.com/

          by anastasia p on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:27:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well of course it is an opinion (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            edtastic

            I think this is a matter of subjectivity. You are inferring based on conduct. That may be evidence, but it isn't dispositive.

            There are many conservatives who don't oppose regulation in some form, just its extent. It is about methods, and it is also about the end result.

            I know not going to convince you, but it is presumptive to assume I'm naive and hiding under a rock. This good vs evil binary is not as authoritative as we would like to think. In fact, I posit that repeatedly insisting on such a binary merely belies a lack of nuance in one's argument.

            There is a clear difference between voting against a health bill (i.e. the method involved), and saying that because they oppose it, they must oppose healthcare in itself. That is, IMO, disingenuous.

            It is dangerous to infer completely and broadly, as is done here. That is my point.

            •  There are individual conservative voters (0+ / 0-)

              who "don't oppose regulation in some form, just its extent.".  

              But among elected Republican officials (with rare exceptions, and none at the national level), that is only used as an excuse.  In fact, when push comes to shove, and they have to act, they oppose regulation which protects average individuals and small businesses, while supporting regulation which protects big corporations against competition.

              Inference based on conduct is dispositive when it comes to elected officials.

              -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

              by neroden on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:03:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm pretty sure (0+ / 0-)

                some republicans actually did vote for the small business bill.

                Again, we need to distinguish method versus result. It is actually irrational to assume that one opposes the result based on a vote against a method. You assume that one must lead to the latter. Can you empirically prove your sweeping conclusions? Ironic given your other comment re: education.

        •  No, they oppose good education &support pollution (0+ / 0-)

          I shouldn't even have to tell you about the ways Republican officials support pollution; if pushed, most of them simply don't care if people are poisoned by it -- or they just don't believe that inhaling choking toxins is bad for you.

          Regarding education, the problem is that they have a different definition of education.  We want thoughtful, well-informed people who can look at reality, make empirical assessments of the situation, and make rational deductions from it.

          They want people who can parrot the instructions of their minister or priest accurately, no matter how full of bullshit, and who know how to obey authority.

          Very different educational goals there.

          So perhaps the problem is the definition of "common good".  To your average Republican politician, the reinstatement of slavery constitutes the "common good".

          -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

          by neroden on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:01:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exaggeration (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            edtastic

            With all due respect, your assertions of fact border (and probably cross into) the realm of blatant hyperbole.

            Especially the claim that they want drones who can only "parrot" their religious-instructer's lessons.

            And most especially the reinstitution of slavery.

            If you are serious here, then perhaps the problem isn't the definition, the the concept of perception.

            •  Oh, it's not all of them. (0+ / 0-)

              You haven't listened to the Republican politicians who go on about how slavery was really great for black people, have you?  I have.  There's about ten members of Congress who've done so.  At least.  The rest of the Party organization still loves them.

              The problem is that people don't realize how bad it's gotten in the Republican Party.  The Republican leadership is waaaay off to the right of the average Republcian voter.

              At the risk of invoking Godwin's law, remember that most people in Weimar Germany didn't think Hitler really intended to kill all the Jews.  They were wrong.

              -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

              by neroden on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:08:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  And they really do want drones. (0+ / 0-)

              Look up "authoritarianism" and "authoritarian mindset"  Look up the prevalence of it in the Republican Party.

              The fact is that this is nothing new; the 19th century public schools in fact were full of indoctrination and the attempt to create drones, and it had bipartisan support at the time.

              -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

              by neroden on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:11:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  For ten times the salary (0+ / 0-)

      We could hire the best teachers in the world, we would clean out the private sector. I don't know if they would teach kids much better than you could though. Credentials aren't going to make up for talent when it  comes to teaching.

      •  cleaning up the mess is easy (0+ / 0-)

        just throw out the last thirty years of reform and all the policy makers who proposed them. If you also throw out all the corporate consultants, their software programs and their tests while you are at it, you'll be able to hire more teachers.

        I'm only being slightly snarky. 99% really needs to be marked as 'poison' and treated at toxic waste.

        And some of them belong in jail.

  •  Every one of these programs (6+ / 0-)

    Consists of similar components.  One is the heavy use of testing as the sole measure of student learning.  The second is the use of monetary incentives and/or punishments for teachers and schools that do not meet or exceed standards on test scores.    

    IMHO, these methods are akin to making our schools into factories that turn out little test taking robots.  We already have students from many of these systems (Florida, for example) who have not learned critical thinking skills and are creatively handicapped.  

    IMHO, rote memorization is not learning.  Learning is the ability to take certain taught skills and apply them in a way to creatively solve problems and learn new skills.

    Disclosure:  I am not a teacher, nor am I married to one.

    Sadly the truth is the first victim in both war and in politics...--ovals49

    by gulfgal98 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:47:14 AM PDT

  •  that's not hopeful (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reino, JanL, joycemocha

    you don't sound very hopeful or changeful.

    policy makers are blind to the problems because most of them have never been teachers.  And obama's adminsitration... well, the minute I saw "race to the top" I knew it was going to be more of the same: attacks on the unions, pretending that the teacher controls everything...

    it's lame.  And to think, I'm going to school to get certification.

    •  I am not hopeful - but I persist (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, joycemocha, Tom Taaffe

      and every now and then there are glimmers, which fuel me in going further.

      How many people would have predicted a year ago that one of the most powerful voices against what is now happening in educational policy would be Diane Ravitch?  Unless you knew her, and had been following the change in her thinking -  which was public in the blogging she was doing with Deborah Meier, you were likely caught very much by surprise.

      Increasingly there are studies coming out by experts that absolutely shred the rationale use for the current thrust in educational policy.

      People are looking more critically at some of the "successes" claimed by some of the "reformers" and are finding that upon closer examination the words Gertrude Stein applied to Oakland are also relevant here:  "there's no there there."  That applies to Duncan's Chicago,  Rhee's DC, Joel Klein's New York.

      We are seeing folks that before would not listen now listen -  that includes people on the Hill, that is starting to include some in the media who actually understand this stuff (and many of the voices opining on education, like Tom Friedman, have no real understanding of education).  

      Trust me when I tell you that some senor members of Congress who have to deal with these issues have a very negative opinion of what the administration is doing.   So far the amount of public complaining you have heard is mild compared to what some of them say in private.

      Thus while I can be discouraged, I am not so discouraged as to give up.

      Those considering education should be realistic about what they face.  But if they want to make a real difference in the lives of persons, there is for all the frustrations of the job nothing that can exceed the satisfaction of seeing kids who were struggling start to get it, to see their natural curiosity come alive  . . .

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:42:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  all good points (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL

        you know what you just did ken,

        you gave me some hope.

        that's something that's in short supply these days. the fact that Fenty lost his job in DC helped. it was good to see them get thrown out on their asses, although pity the poor kids in newark where rhee's bound...

  •  I understand the anger... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sophie Amrain

    I also know that anger leads to destructive consequences, whether or not it justifiable or not.

    If getting angry and lashing out only leads to making the situation worse, then what is the point?

  •  where I live teachers are NOT angry, they are.. (0+ / 0-)

    happy to have a job.

    The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.

    by Zacapoet on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:00:46 AM PDT

    •  that doesn't mean they are not angry (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, neroden, JanL, joycemocha, Tom Taaffe

      it may help dissuade them from acting upon their anger.

      The teachers in my building who are most angry are some of the most honored teachers we have, including in one case a national award.  These are those to whom other teachers look for guidance, who serve as role models.  As idiosyncratic as I am as a teacher, I have others who turn to me for guidance on things like this.  I have had quite a few thank me for stepping up and taking over the union leadership in the school.  I have had teachers one would not expect volunteer to serve on our Faculty Advisory Council.  

      They are all glad they have jobs.  We have lost some teachers we wanted to keep because of finances, either having their jobs eliminated by the school system or deciding they needed to move on to other work for the financial well-being of their own families.  That if anything makes us angrier.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:46:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I happened to watch NBC this morning. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reino, JanL, joycemocha

    The synergy! Dear fluffy Christ, the SYNERGY on display at that network these days leaves me speechless.

    They had John Legend on the Today show this morning. And what did the hosts make sure to tell him...?

    "We loved that song you performed for the 'Waiting for Superman' soundtrack."

    It seems so trite to say that education has become a marketed product, but...

    Regards,
    Corporate Dog

    -----
    We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

    by Corporate Dog on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:05:40 AM PDT

    •  John Legend a featured speaker @ Education Nation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Reino, JanL, Corporate Dog

      now it is nice that he has chosen to raise money for education, just as it is honorable that a major part of the effort of the Gates Foundation is education.  But why should those voices be honored while those in the classroom and the schools are not?  Why did the original list of speakers not included the nominal spokesperson for the nation's teachers, the National Teacher of the Year?  In fact, why not have a national teacher of the year, present or former, on every single one of the panels?  They do not all agree.  They are as diverse a group as are teachers as a whole. For example, 2005 NTOY Jason Kamras, who ws a TFA teacher in DC and a close adviser to Obama during the campaign, has a very different perspective than the immediate past teacher of the year Anthony Mullen - and Anthony was quite outspoken in the blogging he did during his year of service, perhaps because having previously been an NYPD police officer rising to the rank of captain in his 21 years as a cop before becoming a special ed teacher.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:52:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah. There's the third leg. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        neroden

        I didn't realize he was DIRECTLY involved with Education Nation as a speaker. I just thought they had him on as a guest, in order to help promote the W4S/Education Nation connections.

        Regards,
        Corporate Dog

        -----
        We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

        by Corporate Dog on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:57:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  one sign of a declining culture is (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Reino, neroden, Corporate Dog, Tom Taaffe

      credentialing substituted for education. (in book: Dark Age Ahead by _________.) That is what is happening to the USA.  Don't you wonder why the highly educated cant get anything right for the country, only for themselves?

      2.5 trillion dollars have been "borrowed" since the [SS] system was "reformed" in the 80s and they simply don't want to pay it back. - dKos Blogger -

      by Silverbird on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:02:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am so sorry it has come to this (6+ / 0-)

    But this is the sad reality of our world. The problem is not just in teaching but is society-wide. We are watching the destruction of a once great society. It will remain great in a different way, of course. It will be a society marked by fear, authoritarianism, selfishness, boorishness and the love of the absurd. People in positions of power who have interest only in their own well-being and that of their friends.

    Teachers will bend to their masters. They will crack the whip and you will jump. I guarantee it. Because, in the end, it's their rule or the street. We have, gradually, become a nation of serfs not just in fact but in mentality. I see no way out. If there is I'd like to see it because nowhere, despite connectivity, have I seen any interest on the part of progressives in actually creating an alternative system. This one we have here is simply not reformable.

  •  Thank you so much for writing this, Ken. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reino, 3goldens, proud2Bliberal

    It is true, so very true.  I know thirty-year-plus teachers who are retiring in despair over the future of public education, the public education in which they have always believed and dedicated much of their adult lives toward.

    I see some eager first-year teachers already fumbling on the rocks as their enthusiasm crashes against the jagged spines of reality.  I, too, am a union building representative and, thanks to "encouraged" retirements, layoffs, and transfers, find myself at seven years the teacher who's been in my building the longest.

    It is a sobering position to be in during these days in public education.

  •  The film "Waiting for Superman" (6+ / 0-)

    is produced by WaldenMedia, which is owned by Christian conservative Philip Anschutz. The company also makes money producing workbooks and other educational materials for charter schools and home-schoolers.

  •  watching the education trend (6+ / 0-)

    with the Obama administration has been discouraging to me because it is such an example of what is wrong with the whole country and why even people who are smart and decent (which I believe the president is) can be convinced by the professional "managers" who have screwed up much of everything in this whole society.

    Education began to be taken over in the 80s by "management" business thinking.  Lets make the education world like a well run business.  This meant 20 years of highly paid seminars, workshops and people whose whole goal in life was to be well paid educational administrators that talk corporate talk.  They are coached and slick and come prepared with statistics and data to back up whatever they want to say.  They know how.  They become further and further removed from the real classroom or what real educators face in that classroom. They aren't facing rooms full of American kids with the myriad of problems in our society that come with them.

    Its the way our whole country has moved - to "experts" who are prepped like actors for their great role but often don't have a clue in reality.  Presentation and image is everything and organizations are completely dysfunctional as they "lead" everyone on with their expert knowledge.  Worst of all they have the ears of those who make the laws or policy with their power suits and their big answers.  

  •  What I love is the continuing denigration of (5+ / 0-)

    science by our own Democratic party now.  Arne Duncan and Obama's Race to the Top plan has been shown to NOT work where it has been tried.

    And the great and wonderful Michelle Ree's school system in DC had lower test scores AFTER her shoving that program on DC's public school system, but no media is talking about that outcome.

    These people are destructive. Closing and "chartering" failing public schools is a blame the victi approach and privatization to boot!  Are these people really Republicans or just their ideas?

    2.5 trillion dollars have been "borrowed" since the [SS] system was "reformed" in the 80s and they simply don't want to pay it back. - dKos Blogger -

    by Silverbird on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:49:50 AM PDT

    •  The "Public" wants a quick fix. (0+ / 0-)

      They don't want a long discussion about education. If you have a solution that can't be explained in under 30 seconds politicians don't want to hear it.  Our collective attention span seems to not last longer than 30 seconds.

      •  The public is not as dumb as you seem to think. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Randtntx, Tom Taaffe

        I only hear the media complaining about bad teachers.  I have not heard a single parent saying such a thing.  It is the right wing media doing the criticizing and it sounds like you buy it.

        2.5 trillion dollars have been "borrowed" since the [SS] system was "reformed" in the 80s and they simply don't want to pay it back. - dKos Blogger -

        by Silverbird on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:38:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not refering to complaints about teachers. (0+ / 0-)

          If you have not talked to anybody who complains about "education" then you are fortunate.  

          Whenever I talk to these people I find that most of them really don't to talk about complicated issues, they all think that they are experts and have quick fix ideas.  Understand that I live in a "Red" city that loves to watch Glenn Beck and listen to Limbaugh.

          •  I did hear a college professor complain (0+ / 0-)

            about tenure for professors and he criticized teachers.  Other than that, I only hear the meadia keeping up this propaganda against teachers and their union.

            2.5 trillion dollars have been "borrowed" since the [SS] system was "reformed" in the 80s and they simply don't want to pay it back. - dKos Blogger -

            by Silverbird on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:06:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I know many teachers... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tom Taaffe

    who are passionate about the kids they teach and strive to do their very best even in the midst of a troubled economy and shrinking budgets.  I also know of some (and they are a minority) teachers who are apathetic, uncaring, and just punching in the clock until retirement.

    I do know that there are some teachers and principals that should be fired...and are more often than not, unable to be let go because of the protection afforded them by the unions.

    I'm a big fan of education, a much much lesser fan of teachers' unions.  Most everyone else has to work and do a good job in order to keep their job.  I say lets give the teachers who are doing a good job more money, I say lets give those teachers who are not doing a good job a pink slip.

  •  Leave your comments on oprah.com (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grimjc, JanL

    She is hosting a show with Arne Duncan today, had Bill Gates on the show on Monday.  She is advocating for Duncan's policies.  She needs to hear from a large number of people to set the record straight.  Teacher Ken, I hope you will post your remarks on her site and even send an offer to be on her show.

    The flaws in Oprah's arguments are:
    (1) If teachers are subjected to overcrowded classrooms, learning disabled students in mainstream classes, failure to remove students with discipline problems from the classroom, inadequate textbooks, facilities without air conditioning and a micromanaged curriculum, how can the teachers be blamed for the failure of the students?
    (2) If they fire half the teachers at a school, where are they going to magically find replacement teachers who are guaranteed to do better?
    (3) OK, so one teacher was found falling asleep in the classroom.  Maybe that teacher really had a blood sugar problem.  It is unfair to metonymically extend the case of that one teacher to the overall population of teachers.

    •  We are expecting teachers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grimjc

      overmanaged, underfunded and constantly abused to save this country from the systemic poverty produced by Washington/Wall street, single-handedly.

      This right-wing corporate project has just gone too far on too many fronts. We really need to direct our outrage at this right-wing presidency in a far more forceful way.

      They just sell us out and sell us out and sell us out some more. The second half of Obama's term is going to be even more disgusting, I can feel it like a cold wind.

  •  Education Reform Is Not About Education (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reino, grimjc, JanL, proud2Bliberal, Tom Taaffe

    It's about union-busting, tax relief for the rich and rolling back school desegregation.

    Government saved the markets and sacrified its people.

    by bink on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:43:46 AM PDT

    •  Bingo - corporatization (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tom Taaffe

      Bill Gates wants to introduce the corporate culture in which 50% always get a negative performance review.  And to that end 50% of the people have lies told about them in their HR records.  And everything is judged by means of exams.  Microsoft hires by means of oral exams.  Business skills, creativity, people skills, work ethic - nothing matters except exams.  The ability to regurgitate what others define.  Elimination of individuality and personality.  

    •  Stop the talking CRAP (0+ / 0-)

      Education Reform Is Not About Education
      It's about union-busting, tax relief for the rich and rolling back school desegregation.

      This is extremist hyperbole stupid crap, can do better than this. That comment is at the level of  'wing nut crazy talk'.

      Obama is out to bust unions? Obama wants tax relief for the rich? Obama wants to roll back school desegregation. Schools are already more segregated than they used to be there is nothing to roll back. We need to actually live in each others neighborhoods at this point.

      People actually tipped this comment? I mean seriously have we abandoned reason all together?

  •  Our public corporations, which includes school (4+ / 0-)

    boards, have long been the envy of private corporations because of their ability to command revenues and guarantee an income stream.  This sense of envy, frustrated by the failure to take the system over, has generated antagonism towards the public corporations, as well as various strategies by which private corporations can get theirs.  That seems to be a pretty consistent pattern.  When desires aren't satisfied, the unattainable is targeted for destruction.
    Of course, it needn't be total or immediate.  Interim measures which involve getting a piece of the action are temporarily attractive.  A guaranteed trickle of revenue from bond issues is one such intermediate measure that provides some satisfaction and gratification.  But, bond issues are restricted for the acquisition of capital facilities (equipment such as computers has been reclassified recently).  So, in order to get public corporations to issue bonds and send interest income flowing into the pockets of the "investing class," the extant facilities have to be "encouraged" to deteriorate (via low maintenance and shoddy repairs and over-crowding), thereby justifying new ones being built.

    This shell game of moving students and school buildings around has been going on for over forty years, that I am personally aware.  What I didn't figure out until recently was that the funding was central to the whole shindig.  There was always some plausible social justification.  In the northeast it was the demands of urban renewal in the center cities that mandated new school construction to the fringes and close to the new developments that were wanting to be built.  In the South, the "need to integrate" the schools racially and economically and socially demanded that old facilities be closed and the children bussed along new roads to unfamiliar surroundings they'd be unlikely to explore on foot.  At no point was the curriculum the main priority, or even close.  (I sent my children to these schools, but I also stayed home to track what was going on, to serve as a volunteer, to serve on community groups and to supplement the academics they didn't receive in what I considered to be mainly experiments in socialization.  Having attended some nine schools in three countries and two states during the first eight years, my appreciation of consistency was not particularly high).

    That teachers are undervalued is true without a doubt.  But, that's mainly because America's public school systems are geared toward social amalgamation, rather than education.  "Good citizens" are what's wanted -- i.e. people who are pacific and do what they're told.  From the perspective of milking the majority of the population and keeping them pacified, the American experiment during the last forty years has been a great success.

    President Obama doesn't have a clue how African Americans managed to reward talent and achieve academic success despite material restrictions and social prohibitions.  I'm not sure most native African Americans do.  We tend not to investigate success.  Nobody asks how it happened that young African Americans, whose grand-parents had lived as slaves, managed to get sent from North Florida to Harvard in the 1890s and come back as doctors and dentist and scientific researchers.

    "The evil men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones" and that's a damned shame.

    One final thought.  The program to milk income out of school facilities construction has obviously morphed into milking the instructional component, as well.  Book and computers and testing pamphlets and teacher licensing are all profit centers.  Education as product.

    Maybe it's all the economists' fault for assigning a higher value to goods than service.  Maybe that explains the craze for turning people who provide service into things.

    The Constitution is not a menu for an exclusive diner.

    by hannah on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:47:59 AM PDT

    •  well said (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hannah, grimjc, neroden

      We have been sold out again. They broke the system, blamed the students and teachers and then cannibalized it for profit.

      What a creep show.

    •  Universities too (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hannah, neroden, Tom Taaffe

      Look at the tuition charged at Ivy League universities, and then they take 50% of the NIH and NSF grant money as overhead, and some of the tuition is paid by federal Pell grants, and where does the money go in the Ivy League?  New buildings designed by famous European architects, and then the construction companies charge the non-street-smart academic departments cost overrun charges when they don't get the work done on time, because the professors don;t know how to write contracts prohibiting cost overruns and penalizing lateness.  

      •  Oh, its worse than you know (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LanceBoyle

        University lawyers writing indeminity clauses for corporate contractors nobody in the private sector would ever consider.

        Forget the ivy league, the real mess is in the public systems. You have schools spending millions on defense contract lobbyists while they tell those who can't afford their soaring tuition to 'go to a community college.' Then they build luxury housing for rich students and give bribes to out-of-state HS college advisors to send their students to the school, for the extra tuition dollars.

        While their administators outnumber full-time teachers, most of the professors in the classes are grad students and adjuncts, getting paid poverty-class wages while everyone drowns in student debt, all to feed pro-corporate reforms intended gut the critical thinking components out of education.

        Meanwhile, we poured hundreds of billions of dollars into shoddy educational projects like distance learning which was openly modeled on mail order colleges and military education and pushed on all colleges and universities by their auditor/consultants using software products these auditor/consultants profitted off. Let's thank Bill Clinton for that one. Bush just pushed universities deeper into the arms of the DoD.

        It ain't just 'for profit' education that's gone off the rails, its the entire system.

        Someone needs to put all our educational policy makers on a barge, haul it out to sea and sink the sucker.

        now that would be education reform I could believe in.

    •  African Americans achieved like most people do (0+ / 0-)

      Work hard, teach kids to work hard, don't take life or opportunities for granted. Lastly, keep your head up.

      This is a pretty common. The most successful African Americans today are new African immigrants. They are less likely to take an opportunity for granted than a native. It happens to everyone, they say it takes by the 3rd generation the immigrant edge is gone.

      I think Obama knows better than most how to succeed in life. I think he knows about how blacks got where they were. He spent is adult life as a organizer in a fairly radical black church in Chicago. Chicago was the home of a lot of black leaders. That is not a place you go to avoid history. Obama is not that young, he was an adult in the 80's which had a more divided racial climate than today. He was certainly exposed to Black history and did so as he explored his identity.

      Why look for building scams? At least the kids get a building out of it. That is a lot better than a new stadium. The school system can't afford to waste money because nobody wants to pay for it. It would be a shame if they were building for no reason at all. I don't think we need to make an example out of what goes on in a few areas to represent a national trend.

      •  Very likely, the vendors of books and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tom Taaffe

        electronic equipment and vending machines and astro-turf on playing fields and vehicle fleets and bus compounds and hardwood basketball courts don't consider the money they collect a waste.  But, what they contribute to educational achievement is virtually nil.

        The Constitution is not a menu for an exclusive diner.

        by hannah on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:24:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nobody *ever* asks the students (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angstall, cinematographer

    what they think before imposing an "educational reform".  Or, usually, afterwards.

    This alone tells you that most "educational reforms" are bunk.  If you needed any MORE evidence.

    I don't know why Obama decided to continue the Republican school-trashing policies.

    I understand that the Republicans want to make sure people are poorly educated, as that is the only way to get them to vote Republican.

    -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

    by neroden on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:56:45 AM PDT

  •  in defense of principals? (0+ / 0-)

    Principals. I'm sure there are lots of great ones, of course.
    Just never met one personally. Come from a family
    of teachers, taught myself before becoming a physician.
    No one in my personal experience ever had a principal
    who came to their teachers and asked what they could
    do to help. They never saw themselves as there to help teachers but to control, organize, judge them. All deal
    with teachers from a step above position even though
    most of them found teaching too hard and quit after
    as few as 2 years. A lot of teachers find
    trying new ideas not to be a burden but to be
    a source of hope that new people, new ideas
    will help what is clearly a steadily deteriorating
    educational system.

    •  I had one great (0+ / 0-)

      principal, who actually tried to help the teachers in the school. I guess these days they're too bogged down in administrative work for the rest of them to have a great contribution, or maybe their contribution is just something we just never see.  

  •  Somehow, from what I can see in my two (0+ / 0-)

    bright grandchildren, ages 10 and 13, they have managed to weed out excitement about learning, exploring, and excelling.

    Not the school system I was raised in.

    Also, why can't Comcast, which offers lessons in Xbiking etc, have math drills and other things to help kids at all ages.

    Why is TV such a vast vista of vapidness?

    What a waste of a medium for education.

    10.2.10 March On Washington http://www.onenationworkingtogether.org/pages/march-details

    by War on Error on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:08:05 AM PDT

  •  Starve all beasts (0+ / 0-)

    In my continual comments on my local paper with the right wingnuts, there is nothing they will fund beyond war and Christianity.  They have a litany against public education that appears at every opportunity.  It is demoralizing to everyone, but it is there and it seems to not be going away.  Their energy and commitment is amazing.  IF we show up at the polls in November MAYBE just MAYBE they will slow down in their destruction of this great country.

  •  This administration loves to scapegoat teachers & (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, california keefer

    doctors.

    Two of the most hard-working professions in the country, who are actually on the frontlines everyday making things better.

    I'm really tired of the lawyer and MBA monopoly in our government and across our management strata.  

    •  How are doctors being scapegoated? (0+ / 0-)

      Is anybody claiming that we can solve our healthcare problems by mass firings of doctors? Did somebody make a movie that portrayed all local hospitals as deathtraps?

      "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

      by Reino on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 04:06:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Its all so dishonest. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Reino, JanL

    a lot of the problem is America will not face up to what is happening to our children.  

    Larger larger portions of them are growing up in poverty.  Huge numbers of them grow up barely knowing one parent.  They come from families torn apart by economic problems, substance abuse and a host of other ailments.  These problems aren't new but they are on a scale I surely never saw growing up.

    They are marketed to from preschool with images that are not particularly good for their well being.  Even those with intact strong families live lives that are sped up about 5 times faster than when I was a child.  It is increasingly harder to give your child the space for innocence.  They reach middle school and have pressures to be beautiful and sexy and are frequently harassed when they don't live up to the images.  We make noises about valuing children but as a society what we are doing is not enough.

    It is dishonest to blame teachers when we have these incredible problems everywhere that we don't know how to begin to deal with.

  •  Really depressing trip to the movies yesterday (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL

    The theater, part of a major chain, was blanketed in posters and flyers for Waiting for Superman. The depth of the effort behind this drive to promote "reform" is pretty frightening. However if the PDK poll is to believed, it's not working at all.

    I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. Barbara Jordan

    by Lcohen on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:02:44 AM PDT

  •  Clinton was able to get welfare reform (0+ / 0-)

    Where Regan never could. Obama may do to public education what Bush never could. The ultimate goal is to take the tax money going toward public education and give to "education corporations". Like any consumer product comparing results will be confusing even to stats wonks. Once they are in, their lobbyist will guarantee they will never be replaced. Our education system will be like Haiti.

    Although public education is free, the cost is still quite high for Haitian families who must pay for uniforms, textbooks, supplies, and other inputs. Due to weak state provision of education services, private and parochial schools account for approximately 90% of primary schools, and only 65% of primary school-aged children are actually enrolled. At the secondary level, the figure drops to around 20%. Less than 35% of those who enter will complete primary school. Though Haitians place a high value on education, few can afford to send their children to secondary school and primary school enrollment is dropping due to economic factors.

    It is impossible to introduce into society a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." Frederic Bastiat

    by california keefer on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:14:02 AM PDT

    •  the problem in both cases is not the doing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, california keefer

      it is what is being done.  I think it noteworthy that Marion Wright Edelman and her husband Peter had a public break with the Clintons, and to a large degree that was over welfare reform.

      Just changing is not necessarily improving.  And much of what is coming out in things like Race to the Top is a continuation of what was worst in the Bush approach.

      What I am hearing from the Hill is that what the administration has proposed in its Blue Print for reauthorization of ESEA is not going to be in what is brought up before the Congress.  At least some on the Hill have been listening to Ravitch, to the Forum on Educational Accountability, and to groups of teachers.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:33:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've done the best thing I could do with this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Reino, JanL

    I've sent it to a friend who is a teacher in the local high school and has been for many years. He'll see that it gets around to the other teachers he knows here, and to our local Democrats as well, since he's the chair.

    Living kidney donor needed; type B, O, or incompatible (with paired donation). Drop me a note (see profile).

    by Kitsap River on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 11:49:42 AM PDT

    •  thanks - I look at the top and see (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Reino

      Share 35  Tweet 10 Like 33  and realize it must be speaking to some people.

      It has already been crossposted one other place where I didn't do it.  It has been independently retweeted from my original tweet when I posed it.

      To what end I do not know.

      "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 Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 12:22:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  School reform in 5 steps (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reino

    this is from a blog called Accountable Talk form NYC:

    1. Get rid of the gimmicks/ silver bullets
    1. lower class sizes
    1. Enforce discipline in all schools so we can actually teach!
    1. Attract good people to teaching (the first 3 will do this very well along with some respect - see Finland for an example of this)
    1. Fire unnecessary Administrators and use that money to improve conditions - more prep time please and less testing and more teaching time! and let teachers run the schools!  We can schedule and arrange parent conferences and plan our own professional development (again see Finland where they do exactly this, are all union and have the highest test scores in the world and the smallest achievement gap between minority groups in the world)  Of course Finland also takes care of all their children with adequate health care and day care and support for families which we emphatically do not!)

    It takes a community to educate a child!

  •  Not to add salt to the wound... (0+ / 0-)

    Did you read Joel Klein in the Huffpost?

    Link

    The roll out of Superman, the Education Nation summit, and the Oprah week...are part of a larger, systematic attack on teachers unions and public schools.

    Public schools used to be a chance to move into the middle-class, a chance to improve one's place in life, apparently the elitists in our society want to turn poverty into a lottery or contest.

    A better way to look at events like Superman would be to look at the failures of Charter schools.

    Thanks for your insight.

    "Education is more than a luxury; it is the responsibility that society owes itself" Robin Cook

    by iTeachQ on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 07:17:08 AM PDT

    •  oh, it's worse than that (0+ / 0-)

      and I will probably include this in a diary tomorrow (I used mine today for Feeding America Blogathon).  Try this message (I won't bother with html, just the text):  

      > From: "David Nurnberg" <david.nurnberg@cegny.com>
      > Date: September 25, 2010 11:05:30 AM EDT
      > To: "David Nurnberg" <david.nurnberg@cegny.com>
      > Subject: NBC News - Special Education Nation Summit Session with Brian Williams
      >  

      Dear Friends,

      We are excited to share with you the details for a very special Education Nation panel discussion with Brian Williams titled, "The Lessons of New Orleans: Does Education Need a Katrina?" At the fifth anniversary of Katrina, the rebuilt New Orleans school district is an incredible study in the power of resilience and the possibility of starting anew. This panel will examine the advantages to the New Orleans school district of starting over post-Katrina, and whether the lessons learned there can be applied across the country

      Participants include Scott Cowen (President, Tulane University); Doris Hicks (Principal and CEO, Dr. King Charter School); Mitch Landrieu (Mayor, New Orleans); Garland Robinette (Host, "The Think Tank," WWL); and Paul Vallas (Superintendent, Recovery School District of Louisiana). This panel will take place Tuesday, September 28 at 10:05AM.  

      Please log into your registration page at www.goldreg.com/EducationNation if you're interested in joining this inspiring conversation.

      See you on Monday!

      David Nurnberg

      David Nurnberg
      Civic Entertainment Group, LLC
      450 Park Avenue South, 5th Floor
      New York, NY 10016

      T:  212-897-4092
      F:  212-426-7002
      David.Nurnberg@cegny.com <mailto:David.Nurnberg@cegny.com>

      Now, isn't the title of that session obscene?

      Remind anyone of Duncan saying that Katrina was the best thing to happen to New Orleans public schools?

      Or of Duncan describing Detroit as New Orleans without Katrina?

      "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 Sep 25, 2010 at 12:09:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  get the unions out of the way... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken

        get the unions out of the way...that is how most see NO.

        I was in NO this summer, and by no means is it "fixed."  In fact, perhaps the larger problem of NO might be that the poor people who lived there can no longer afford the new housing that is being created.

        I guess if you take away the economically disadvantaged, your scores go up...thus the charters are a success.

        Nobody seems to be talking about the fact that charter school teachers won't ever make it to the middle class.  

        Charter school teachers in most states don't get a pension or worker rights.  But that is a different discussion.

        "Education is more than a luxury; it is the responsibility that society owes itself" Robin Cook

        by iTeachQ on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 12:10:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  not just charter school teachers (0+ / 0-)

          on the Teacher Town Hall this afternoon, there was a principal from an inner city school in California who talked about when she hired someone she felt she should tell them that they were signing on for a career which meant they could never afford to own their own home.

          I often see good young teachers leave because of the economics.  Less so in our school, since it is possible to buy a house in our county at a reasonable price, among other reasons because there were so many bankruptcies a few years back.

          But I am in touch with teachers all over, and between the money and the hours many who would like to continue decide once they want to have a family they can no longer continue with teaching.

          These are the ones we do not want to lose.

          "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 Sep 26, 2010 at 12:21:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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