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It amazing to me how easily the anti-union forces in education get such easy media access.   Since the NEA and AFT in effect called for Arne Duncan's resignation, there has been a rash of articles pro reform in nature.  

This one from the Washington Post especially stands out because of its authors.  The lead-in tells you only their present position, but nothing about their backgrounds.

Here is yesterday's op ed by Hanna Skandera and Kevin Huffman.

Teachers unions sacrifice high standards to evade accountability

You can always count on the national teachers unions to behave badly at their annual conventions, and they certainly didn’t let us down this month. In doing so, however, they let down many of their members, along with students who are working hard to meet higher expectations.

....Under pressure from the militant wing of her union, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten took the cynical step this month of backing away from support for the Common Core State Standards, announcing a new fund for teachers to critique and rewrite the standards. This is the latest and most visible step in a year-long campaign by the union to discredit the implementation of higher academic standards and — most important — the measurement of student progress against these higher standards.

Meanwhile, the big news coming out of the National Education Association convention one week earlier was a resolution calling for the resignation of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The union’s bosses have been cross with Duncan before, but most recently, he issued mildly supportive comments on a legal decision that threw out California’s teacher tenure and seniority laws because of their appalling impact on poor and minority students.

They have no clue just how angry the union members, not just bosses, are at Arne Duncan and his policies.  No clue at all.

A little bit about Jeb's Chiefs for Change for some background on these two.

Like Spokes to a Hub: Chiefs for Change in Bush’s Service

Jeb Bush has a vision to impose his will nationwide, and he enjoys nothing more than doing so in the arena of educational reform. To this end, Bush used his Foundation for Educational Excellence (FEE) to create the offshoot, reform-exclusive club of Bush-serving state superintendents known as Chiefs for Change.  The “chiefs” are merely spokes revolving around Bush the hub.

Indeed, if the name “Chiefs for Change” could be reduced to a single word, that word would be Bush.  Bush’s FEE created Chiefs for Change, “to rally behind a common agenda,” highlighted in short form on the Chiefs for Change member page:

Chiefs for Change is a program operated by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, focused on education reform, state-by-state.

These days, if an organization advertises itself as both nonpartisan and nonprofit, beware: You have stepped into the world of corporate reform, and their agenda is difficult to scrape off of your shoes.  Bush is closely connected to a number of ALEC corporations, including both K12 and Connections Academy (now a Pearson company), which promote virtual education; Charter Schools USA, and APEX Learning.

Kevin Huffman is former VP of Teach for America, Commissioner of Education in Tennessee. Interestingly he is also the former husband of fading ed reform star, Michelle Rhee.

Meet the Chief Kevin Huffman

Huffman joined the senior management of Teach For America in 2000, serving as the general counsel, the senior vice president of growth strategy and development, and the executive vice president of public affairs during more than a decade with the organization. As head of growth strategy and development, he grew Teach For America’s annual revenue from $11 million to over $110 million and managed the opening of 14 new regional sites. As the head of public affairs, he managed all federal policy and legislative work, including passing authorizing legislation through Congress, managing organizational engagement in the reauthorization of education and national service legislation, and overseeing federal grants including receipt of a $50 million Innovation Fund grant. Huffman also managed research and evaluation, communications, state and district policy, and relations with nonprofit and faith community leaders. Huffman served on the organization’s leadership team throughout his tenure, as Teach For America grew into the largest provider of new teachers in the country.
What they don't point out is that during his reign at TFA the group got a failing grade for its accounting skills.
The Department of Education Inspector General examined a small slice of the group's federal funding. What they found was shocking. In all, Teach for America failed to account for half the money audited. Time and time again the audit said there were no basic records or receipts: None for a $123,878 training expense; none for a $342,428 bill.

Teach for America vice president Kevin Huffman chalks it up to poor record keeping.

"We're confident, we're confident that we spent the money on the training of new teachers," Huffman said.

Attkisson said: "There was no agenda; no description of meals; no list of attendees. That sounds like a little more than sloppy bookkeeping."

"I think it's a question of what records should have been kept," Huffman said.

Skandera also has her page at Jeb's Chiefs for Change website.

Deutsch29 has more to say about her background.

The next “Chief” I’d like to examine is New Mexico’s Hanna Skandera. Skandera is not an educator:

It seems obvious, given [Skandera's] complete lack of educational credentials and her political background, that Hanna Skandera is a foot soldier in an ideological war taking place right now against working people – teachers and other unionized workers. This is the national agenda of the organizations she is and has been affiliated with. … Her political credentials and affiliations aside, Ms. Skandera can offer absolutely no professional qualifications to be New Mexico’s or any other state’s secretary of education.

She has no background in curriculum and instruction, yet she feels competent enough to suggest a policy of assigning letter grades to classroom teachers as a solution. Skandera has never had the day-to-day experience of being in charge of a classroom with elementary school children herself, yet she feels competent to evaluate trained, experienced teachers.

So, then, why is she being vetted as the New Mexico secretary of education? Most likely the answer is because she was recommended to our new governor by people outside the state who are fronting a national political agenda that is antithetical and indifferent to the needs of the people and children of New Mexico.

What “political agenda” is Skandera “fronting”?  Why, Jeb Bush’s

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Comment Preferences

  •  cherry picking quotes like "mark of the devil" (7+ / 0-)

    by Eskelsen García  

    Eskelsen García already has fiery words for the feds, who she holds responsible for the growing use of “value-added measures,” or VAMs, an algorithm that aims to assess teacher effectiveness by student growth on standardized tests. The idea has gained traction under the Obama administration through waivers from No Child Left Behind and the administration’s signature Race to the Top program. But studies, including some funded by the Education Department, have cast doubt on the validity of the measures.
    VAMs “are the mark of the devil,” Eskelsen García said.
    The algorithms do aim to account for variables such as student poverty levels. But Eskelsen García said they can’t capture the complete picture.
    The year she taught 22 students in one class and the year she taught 39 students in one class — “Is that factored into a value-added model? No,” she said. “Did they factor in the year that we didn’t have enough textbooks so all four fifth-grade teachers had to share them on a cart and I couldn’t send any books home to do homework with my kids?”
    “It’s beyond absurd,” she added. “And anyone who thinks they can defend that is trying to sell you something.”

    Read more:

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:32:55 PM PDT

    •  If you were at the opening keynote at Netroots, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sjburnman, floridagal, BMScott, Temmoku

      she lit up the place.

      "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:35:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I like her words from your link. (5+ / 0-)
      Eskelsen García said that going forward, the union must emphasize that tenure doesn’t mean teachers have a job for life, it simply ensures due process when they face dismissal.

      “Too many people have been told that it’s impossible to fire a teacher,” she said. “We want to stand for a reasonable due process when someone is about to lose their job. They should know why, they should be able to defend themselves … part of the bully pulpit that I have is to at least explain to the public that we’re talking about due process for educators.”

      I and others have been trying to change the argument using the words "due process".   It works when you explain it to people that way.

      We let the privatizing reformers get the jump on controlling the language.

      •  Predators have nothing to offer but language. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Temmoku, floridagal

        Think of the smooth-talking wolf conversing with Red Riding Hood. If predators had creative talents, they wouldn't have to take prey.
        If middlemen had saleable skills, they wouldn't have to take a cut of other people's pay by talking them out of it. That, by the way, goes for union organizers as well as business managers. Middlemen are keenly aware of their competition, just like the denizens of organized crime.
        Why do we hear so much less about organized crime? Because the middlemen have got their activities legalized. The "highwayman" has become the toll taker on privatized roads and the "lawman" ensures that people and vehicles stay on the prescribed roads. No longer would it be possible for the Eurpean hordes to conquer and settle the continent on foot. The rule of law precludes humans perambulating where they want.

  •  This administrations policies towards teachers and (8+ / 0-)

    Their unions could have come straight out of a conservative think tank.

  •  It's not an "ideological war." School-age children (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Temmoku, floridagal

    are the latest targets of human husbandry -- the exploitation by people of their own kind to their detriment. I say "their" because exploitation is equally destructive of the victims and the perpetrators. Why? For the simple reason that the human species has advanced from predation to the more sophisticated form of acquiring sustenance by caring for and sharing with each other.  Caring and sharing become manifest in trade and exchange and enhance the existence of all participants by maximizing the utilization of resources and avoiding waste. Predation, in contrast, is extremely wasteful. The predator "takes" more than he can consume and were it not for the scavengers in his environment, the excess would succumb to rot, a process that releases toxins that are harmful to most organisms in the environment -- one reason why the existence of the predator tends to be "brutish and short."
    Human husbandry can be seen as a variant of cannibalism. Because it is carried out on a symbolic level, it is not bloody and somewhat less destructive -- a "lesser evil," if you will. But still evil since the exploitation of one's own kind is destructive of the species over time.
    The sublimation of cannibalism has one benefit in that its effect is manifest in the accumulation of symbolic wealth. That is, in getting what we call "rich," the sublime cannibals provide tangible evidence of the waste they generate by taking more than they give back. Their monetary profit is a sign they've gone wrong.

  •  a society is close to bottom when war on teachers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    in unions, bad

    teaching children, bad because need to indoctrinate

    teaching critical thinking -bad, bad, bad. We don't want "citizens" to understand the power structure

    creating a public commons, bad, need to outsource everything

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