A Teacher’s Life | Diane Ravitch’s blog

The difference between accountability in private industry and the way teachers are evaluated in our public schools, from a teacher who has been in both places:

I was evaluated once per year in my previous job and had the option to join a union but was not required. I signed a contract each year which I had to negotiate with my immediate superior and the corporate lawyers. That was not easy and I got eaten alive on a few occasions by their New York lawyers. I was evaluated by my superior strictly on my performance in my job and how he as a professional in the same field thought I did.

If I had to base my pay and job security on one test given to a group of 7th and 8th graders who knew nothing about how I did my job, I would have left sooner. I watch my students take some of the state mandated tests and cringe when I see them drawing dot to dot puzzles on a scantron or sleeping during a timed portion of the test. That’s supposed to be a fair evaluation of my performance? No parent, no administrator  no other teacher will see that student’s indifference because I’m the one proctoring the test and I can’t influence them in my room while they are testing. They will only see the final numbers or the media spin on the scores.

via A Teacher’s Life | Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Why abstinence-only is winning: We are undone by our apathy

Originally posted on The Sin City Siren:

Talk about AB230, the comprehensive sex education bill, was all over the TV yesterday! Even your humble Siren got in the mix as a guest, with my pal Annette Magnus, of Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada, on Ralston Reports. Likewise, Annette made appearances on Fox 5 in the morning as well as The Agenda.

Taking it to the airwaves!

And we need it more than ever! If you haven’t already, check out my re-cap of the hearing on AB230 on Monday, in which some truly horrifying behavior and testimony happened. And if you’re not totally outraged after that, take a gander at the opinions entered on the public record for AB230. No really. Let’s look at some.

Names are withheld on opinions submitted through the Legislature’s website, but here are some snippets from the opposition:

You are forcing the rights of parents and churches out of the raising…

View original 1,441 more words


Diving into the Bowels of Junk Science

My first clue that something is amiss was when my class took their opening assessments in September. The results were all over the place. My weakest readers ranked near the top of the class and some readers reading levels were way too high, or too low. The data just didn’t match what I saw in my classroom.

And it gets worse. What a tangled mess!

Did you notice that a SGP score would be generated for each student and compared with those of their peers, whoever they may be. In order to be deemed effective, my students must on average beat 40% of their peers who are also showing growth. I guess that’s where the race aspect of education deform comes in.

[ . . . ]

Stars sets, by default, 40% as the benchmark for growth. That means a student must score in the top 60% of his peers in order to show growth. Keep in mind that means the entire group has grown and only the top 60% of those who have grown have actually demonstrated growth!   Seems absurd doesn’t it.

Jebus. This reminds me of the bonus structure I was given when I was a restaurant manager.

Comment of the Day: “we view education not in terms of developing intellect, but of producing graduates”

From this post over at Diane Ravitch’s blog: The Secret Strategy of Corporate School Reform?

Commenter David Lentini writes:

I think there is some truth to this, but when I reflect on the history of school “reform” I also think these reform efforts reflect a sincere (and insane) mindset. Unfortunately, especially in Anglo-American cultures, business has become the standard by which the values of all activities are measured. We view all activities, economic or not, in terms of production and consumption, and profit. Our culture exalts business leaders who extract the greatest profits from tightly controlled organizations, and whom we view like great military or political leaders. We relentlessly seek “efficiency” in terms of highest return for least investment, often looking at every activity in terms of dollars and cents. We are in every way the embodiment of R.H. Tawney’s “acquisitive society”. We no longer seek joy or mastery (or even competence) in our actions; we only care about cost, not value, Oscar Wilde’s definition of “cynic”.

And so we view education not in terms of developing intellect, but of producing graduates. And if we are in the business of production, then we also have to maximize the efficiency of that production.Efficiency requires tracking quantities using statistical measures, and tight operational controls on the process of production. So, the process of education requires tests to measure “quality”, and operational controls require close oversight of teachers–the means of production–who will must adhere to highly standardized procedures and practices in order to make the statistical measurements useful. Thus, teachers can’t be creative or spontaneous, because that will undermine the standardized operations needed to enable comparisons of teacher performance. Curriculums have to be standardized and designed to facilitate testing in order to gauge student performance. All of this is needed to maximize efficiency, i.e., the production of graduates at the lowest cost.

As I’ve written elsewhere on this ‘blog, none of this is new: This was the agenda of the original reformers at the turn of the 20th Century. Back then the goal was to “Taylorize” public education by adopting standardized textbooks and replacing the liberal arts curriculum with a synthesized and heavily scripted one that was designed to produce graduates who knew what they needed to know in order to function in society. The goal was to abandon intellectual development–that was needed only for the scions of the wealthy, who would attend the best private schools–in favor of a passive, programmed, and productive general population to work in the factories.

The only difference with our current situation is the use of computer technology to deliver the same stultifying content and replace as many teachers as possible. I always laugh at those who claim that some how we’re in a new world of technology that requires completely rebuilding our educational system. It’s the same old story told with bright new costumes.

The reformers don’t want the public to think; they want them to obey their betters, who are the Gateses, and Bushes, and Bloombergs, and Rhees, etc., as demonstrated by their wealth. They truly believe they are doing God’s work.

La plus ca change, la plus c’est le meme chose.

Remember this whenever you hear our “leaders” talk about how we must prepare our students for the “challenges” of our new technology.  This sentiment is so accepted that we don’t even notice it any more.

“And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.” – President Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013

Do you hear any of them speak any more of the joy of learning? No.  They only speak of preparing our students to be  “workers for the 21st century.”

What’s Great About Our Public Schools

What’s Great About Our Public Schools (Diane Ravitch’s blog)


Good read. Be sure to check the comments too!

To hear the bureaucrats and politicians, you’d think every public school child was dumb as a post and unteachable, and that all our teachers are miserable failures interested only in sucking at the government teat. Not so!

There are challenges, but they aren’t insurmountable. But mostly we have a whole lot of good going on.

Diane Ravitch’s blog: Should Public Schools Depend on Charity?

Should Public Schools Depend on Charity?.

This commenter’s post struck a chord with me.

Call me a socialist, but I am totally against any & all fundraising for public schools. We as a nation should provide all our children equally with the highest possible standards we as a nation can afford. Private schools can do their own thing, whatever they can afford. (though it is my understanding that private schools pay teachers less than public schools). I don’t support or contribute in any way to fund raisers for either private or public schools. It sickens me that our children are sent out selling candy & holiday wrapping paper & cans of popcorn to raise money for special programs like art, gym, music in their schools, and that teachers have to help fund raise as well. I want to see education as the highest priority in this nation, and all public schools on equal footing, at least within each state. My higher preference is for the nation to equalize public schooling, so that every public school, no matter where they are located or the average income of their districts or the value of the homes in their districts, provides the same education to all students. Of course we have to retain the freedom for private schools, but privatizing education is a whole different matter. And when non-profit foundations start supporting education, it takes away from the responsibility of the citizenry to do so, and distorts and hides what is really happening to to public education.

Fundraising might work in districts where parents are well-off, hold jobs where these parents can take their child’s brochure to work, etc, but what about those places where kids may not even get breakfast at home? Where family and friends are doing all they can just to scrape by?

Honestly though, if parents were really serious about raising cash for their schools, they’d just write a check to the school rather that go through the charade of selling wrapping paper and over-priced cookies….the cut for the school is pathetic. The ROI sucks.

Further, if you choose to send your child to a private school I assume that means you can afford it. Do not ask me to donate to your child’s private school fundraiser. I already support public education with my tax dollars.

This also means that I don’t want to support your child’s private education with vouchers funded by my tax dollars.   If you don’t think our public schools are good enough for your child and you choose to put your child in private school, don’t go begging  your friends,  family and coworkers to help pay for your child’s private education, and then, when all else fails, insist it is your right to steal my tax dollars to pay your for your kid’s private tuition.  Especially if it means less dollars for public education. But even if it didn’t; even if public education didn’t lose a dime,  private schools do not have to be accountable to taxpayers in the way that public schools must be.

Don’t ask again.