Tuesday, May 31, 2011


BREAKING NEWS: Whack-a-Mole, a popular arcade game, will be replaced in game arcades across the nation. Based on the highly publicized failure of American schools, Whack-a-Mole is set to be replaced with Whack-a-Teacher, by the end of the 2011.

Monday, May 30, 2011

one nation, under god?

Whose God would want to see the world's richest nation:
  • allow 23 percent of its children to live in poverty
  • allow 3,000,000 of its citizens to be homeless
    • with 1,300,000 of those citizens, homeless children
  • allow CEO bonuses at 50 major corporations to jump a median of 30.5 percent; while
    • 13,767,000 (9 percent) citizens are officially unemployed; with
      • the real number of unemployed citizens hovering at 22 percent
  • allow 59,000,000 citizens to be without health insurance
    • while the CEO of WellPoint was paid a bonus of $12,300,000 in 2010 (an increase from 2009)
  • allow programs for the least of these to be cut, while giving tax breaks to the wealthiest of these
  • allow public education, which serves ALL of the nation's children, to continue to be dismantled and severely underfunded, especially for those children living in poverty
  • allow $781,184,968,646+ to be spent on wars
    • where 6,013 American lives have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

sh!t arne says

Our 3- and 4-year-olds enter kindergarten OK, and they fall further and further behind.
Arne Duncan
Secretary of Education

Arne, there are two major problems with this statement. First, there are no states that have three year olds in kindergarten. Second, many of the so-called 'failing' children in 'failing' schools do NOT "enter kindergarten OK". The majority of children living in impoverished communities enter school several years behind their more affluent peers. The effects of poverty on brain development are well documented.

Your statement exemplifies why it is problematic having non-educators dictating education policy. Simply put, you don't know shit what you are talking about. By continuing to ignore the role poverty plays in student achievement, you will never find a solution. By willfully ignoring the educated views of teachers, education scholars, and peer-reviewed research, you will continue to implement policies that will harm our most needy children.

Arne, the education policies you implemented in Chicago failed. Why do you continue to mislead the public and mandate the implementation of those failed strategies across the nation?

Friday, May 13, 2011


The past few weeks have been kind of sucky for public education teachers. The end of the school year is an exhausting yet rewarding time as we finish our year with culminating activities. We know we will miss our current students yet we look forward to what and who next year will bring.

Teacher Appreciation Week began with a love letter from Arne Duncan to teachers. Despite the plethora of policies and rhetoric that are clearly anti-teacher, Arne waxed poetic about our nation’s teachers:
I consider teaching an honorable and important profession, and it is my goal to see that you are treated with the dignity we award to other professionals in society.
That letter certainly impassioned teachers. It also really pissed them off. That was RUFKM moment #1.

Next, Laurie Calvert, a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow, posted More than a Memory: Teacher Appreciation Week” on the Department of Education’s website.  Calvert wrote:
No doubt about it, last week was a great time to be a teacher at the Department of Education. During Teacher Appreciation Week, the atmosphere brimmed with teacher focus and teacher gratitude.
Ms. Calvert, I’m really glad that last week was a great time to be a teacher at the Department of Education. But for those of us out in the trenches daily…. not so much.  RUFKM moment #2.
Then, when I thought things could not possibly get any more depressing, National Education Association Endorses Obama screamed the headline. Seriously??? NEA’s endorsing the guy who’s made George W. Bush look like public education’s best friend? Have you forgotten that President Obama and his faithful sidekick, Dumber Arne Duncan, applauded when every teacher at Rhode Island's Central Falls High School was fired? This is the administration that ignores scholarly work in favor of poorly done research by think tanks, advocacy groups, and the media. This is the guy who wants to impose failed strategies nationwide: charter schools, school turnarounds, increased testing, and linking test scores to teacher evaluations and merit pay, to name a few. On top of all that, Obama cozied up to Jeb Bush in Florida recently:
We are also honored to be joined here today by another champion of education reform, somebody who championed reform when he was in office, somebody who is now championing reform as a private citizen -- Jeb Bush...The truth is I've gotten to know Jeb because his family exemplifies public service. And we are so grateful to him for the work that he's doing on behalf of education. So, thank you, Jeb.
All I can say at this point is OMG!!!  RUFKM moment #3.

So today, I will gather with teachers, students and parents as we protest the massive budget cuts to education in our state. It will feel good to be among people who get it and support public education. I’ll look forward to going to Washington, D.C. in July to participate in the Save Our Schools March and Call to Action. To gather with teachers, students, parents, education scholars, and interested citizens from across the nation will be invigorating and uplifting.

I’m glad the sleeping giant has finally awakened. We are poised to take back the pulpit from the corporate education deformers and their supporters. It's about time!

Monday, May 9, 2011

to arne - from a kinder, gentler me

Dear Secretary Duncan:

Last week I wrote to you in response to your Teacher Appreciation Week letter. I admit, my letter was kind of caustic. Well, actually, it was a LOT caustic. It had been a long week near the end of a long year and I just wasn’t feeling your love.

In fact, I haven’t felt your love since shortly after you became our Secretary of Education. I was a bit puzzled by your appointment. Your job qualifications were kind of odd for the position. You were a pro basketball player in Australia, worked for an investment company, were CEO of Chicago Public Schools, even though you had no education credentials, and then became Secretary of Education. I wondered why Linda Darling-Hammond didn’t get the job. Maybe her jump shot wasn’t all that. And yes, I know you helped out your mom in her after school tutoring program and that was cool, but that wasn’t really enough to prepare you for the jobs in education that you’ve held.

You confuse me, Arne. Despite the failure of Renaissance 2010 in Chicago Public Schools, (Chicago Tribune says ‘Renaissance 2010’ has failed) you keep insisting that those failed strategies be imposed on our nation’s schools. You have an impressive talent for not heeding the well-researched advice from such stellar education scholars such as Diane Ravitch, Stephen Krashen, Yong Zhao, Alfie Kohn, and a list of others. Oh yeah, you also don’t really listen to experienced veteran teachers either.

Arne, I so want to like you. Everyone says you’re such a nice guy, but I’m just not feeling you. You want to help our children be successful in school and reach their highest potential, and I give you props for that. But Arne, you’re going about it in the wrong way.

First, our children are not failing because of bad teachers. Our children are not failing because of LIFO based layoffs. Our children aren’t failing because of due process rights for teachers. Merit pay is not the answer. Teach for America is not the answer. Charter schools are not the answer. Bill Gates doesn’t have ANY of the answers. Our children are struggling for a variety of reasons:

·      Inequity in school funding: Our most struggling schools, those schools you call failures, sorely lack the resources needed to support our most struggling students. You poured salt on our wounds by implementing your Race to the Top program, which further exacerbates the economic disparity between schools.
·      Higher standards: Implementation of higher standards in many states (my state, California, being one) has lead to developmentally inappropriate curricula being imposed on our children. No matter how high your standard is and no matter how hard you work, you’re just not going get that newborn baby to walk.
·      Overloaded, yet narrow, curricula: Another result of raising the bar is that our curricula have become 10,000 miles wide and .000001 inch deep. We race through a developmentally inappropriate, test-focused, jam-packed, NARROW curricula then we wonder why our kids don’t score as well as kids in other nations (more about that later).
·      Larger class sizes: Larger class sizes severely hamper teachers’ abilities to best serve all of our students. Rule of thumb: The more challenging the student population, the smaller the class sizes should be. Class size does matter regardless of what Bill Gates says. Arne, Bill is a computer guy, not a teacher. Think about it. You’ve got two kids. Do you seriously think you would be as successful parenting fifteen kids versus two? (And that’s without having to teach them any academics.) Regarding class size, have you noticed that charter schools boast of small class sizes in their advertizing literature? The Obama children attend a private school with class sizes of 13:1. If it’s good enough for the Obama kids, it certainly is good enough for my students.
·      High-stakes testing: The sanctions threatened and imposed by NCLB have served to focus schools on teaching to the tests, resulting in the creation of massive test prep factories. And look what happened in your own neighborhood with Rhee and RheeraserGate. Do you think there is a correlation between test prep factories and drop out factories?
·      College-for-All: An over-emphasis on college readiness has encouraged the abandonment of vocational education classes. The insistence on college-for-all discourages those students that are not college material. News flash: Not all kids are college material. By eliminating vocational education and severely narrowing curricular offerings, we have created an atmosphere of hopelessness for many students. This atmosphere encourages kids to drop out because they see no substantive purpose for school in their lives.

Finally, Arne, POVERTY IS NOT AN EXCUSE. Poverty is a reality that affects student achievement. Research supports this, as does classroom experience. To deny the effects of poverty on children is patently unfair. Until you are willing to BEGIN the discussion by addressing the effects of poverty on our nation’s children (21% are living there), you will never be able to reach a solution. Denial of poverty and its link to student achievement assures the continued failure of our most needy students. And PLEASE stop telling the world that our kids are sucking on international assessments. They’re not. Schools with <10% poverty rank at the top on international assessments. In fact, our kids do quite well in schools with up to 49.9% of children living in poverty. Are you aware that the highest-ranking nation, Finland, has only 3% of its children living in poverty? Poverty matters, Arne. It really does.

So there you have it, Arne. Public education as seen and experienced through the eyes, mind and heart of a veteran educator who has dedicated her life to teaching our nation’s neediest children.

As I said before, I want to like you, Arne. I really do. But unless you start making some better choices, I won’t be feeling the love.


A Teacher Anon

p.s. If you are still wondering how the broader teaching community feels about your letter to teachers, don’t listen to Justin Hamilton. I think he’s just messing with you. Teachers still just are not that into you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

sh!t arne says

"As I said before, I was a local educator before I came to Washington."

Secretary Arne Duncan's Remarks
 at the National Governors Association Symposium

sh!t arne says will be dedicated to sharing really stupid shit that Arne Duncan (a.k.a. Dumber) says.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

arne hearts teachers

Dear Secretary Duncan:

When I read the title for your open letter to teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week, I rolled my eyes. I mean, I couldn't help it; my eyes just automatically started rolling. So, Arne has penned a missive to teachers to express his appreciation? RUFKM? Seriously.

You said that teachers "deserve to be respected, valued, and supported". But aren't you the guy who applauded when every teacher at Rhode Island's Central Falls High School was fired? Remember that school? You know, it's one of those high-poverty, failing schools? 

And aren't you the guy who applauded again when the Los Angeles Times published a list ranking teacher effectiveness based on a test score?  I don't think Rigoberto Ruelas was feeling your love. He was that highly regarded teacher who the LA Times rated less effective than his peers. After that list came out, Ruelas killed himself. But that little bump in the road didn't sway you from giving New York City educrats the thumbs up when they announced their intention to publish teacher rankings. I guess, you some people are just slow learners.

You said that you appreciate the challenge and skill involved in the work teachers do and applaud those who have dedicated their lives to teaching?? 
How we recognize, honor, and show respect for our experienced educators will reaffirm teaching as a profession.
I mean, you really said that! I am NOT making this up. You also said that the days of a last-in-first-out (LIFO) policy of layoffs are over.  Wow, Arne, that certainly is an innovative way to honor those dedicated, experienced, veteran educators.

To put it in words, many of which you incessantly overuse, that you can understand: I am fundamentally tired of your laser-like focus dramatically aimed at dismantling public education during your hugely historic tenure as Secretary of Education. I am tired of you putting absolutely amazing veteran teachers on the trajectory to obsolescence. Your unprecedented attack on our nation's schools has been dramatically rigorous as you work to super-size the status quo. You demonstrate an amazing sense of 21st century urgency while pimping for the Billionaire Boys Club as they incent you to do their world-class dirty work. No Corporation Left Behind! Inequitable funding through your ill-conceived Race to the Top should be the civil rights issue of our generation, not getting rid of LIFO and due process for those teachers you so honor and respect.

BTW, a lot of people can say that they have spent much of their life working in education - custodians, cafeteria workers, secretaries, health clerks, bus drivers and playground supervisors. So when you say that you've spent much of your life working in education... well, I'm just not overly impressed. In fact, I'm not impressed at all. With your laser-like commitment to imposing your failed Chicago Public Schools policies on our nation's schools, well, I'm just feeling hugely unimpressed with your understanding of teaching, learning, and how to best serve our most needy children. I'm willing to bet that those school workers I mentioned above have a greater grasp on what is really happening in schools across the land than do you. You're just the drive-by photo op dude to me.

Next year, please don't write another love letter to teachers. We're just not that into you.


One Amazing Hugely Pissed-Off Awesome World-Class Teacher

p.s. You might want to try to out-educate yourself and do a little reflecting: Chicago Tribune says 'Renaissance 2010' has failed 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

arne speaks...

Arne's gift of expression falls Far Below Basic. It's embarrassing to think that this mental midget leads the US Department of Education and dictates policy for all of America's public school children. Would someone please buy this guy a clue??? ....And sending him back for some remedial writing classes wouldn't be such a bad idea, either. (p.s. As a kindergarten teacher, I'm wondering which states have 3 year olds in kindergarten. Maybe I should write the DoE and ask them.)

And so I think it's my job to be the truth-teller.

And I'm just absolutely convinced we have to educate our way to a better economy.

We have a cradle-to-career strategy to dramatically change those numbers.

So, we need to lengthen the school day. We need to lengthen the school year.

Schools need to be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day six, seven days a week, 12 months out of the year, with a whole host of activities, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Well, let me tell you the problem first. This is a devastating one, is, the longer our children are in school, the worse they do. The longer they're in school, the worse they do.

Our 3- and 4-year-olds enter kindergarten OK, and they fall further and further behind.

From the moment students enter a school, the most important factor in their success is the teacher,” said Secretary Duncan.

I feel a huge sense of urgency about this.

I’m not about collaboration for collaboration’s sake. Collaboration around the status quo, I’m not about that. I’m not about kumbaya. It’s about doing things to get better results for kids.

Class size has been a sacred cow.