Saturday, October 13, 2012

dear president obama...

Dear Readers,

Please join the October 17 Campaign for Our Public Schools by writing a letter to President Obama! For more information, please go to Diane Ravitch's blog.

Here's my letter.... 

Dear President Obama,

I am a teacher and a parent writing to you about my deep concerns regarding your administration’s education policies.  When I voted for you in 2008, I did so hoping desperately for change. I hoped that we would finally have healthcare for all.  I hoped that Wall Street would be held accountable.  I hoped that campaign reform would happen. And I hoped that the toxic education policies brought by the Bush administration, NCLB, would finally end.  You were my hope for all of those changes.  Needless to say, I am deeply disappointed.

NCLB policies have harmed an entire generation of children.  Those policies have  turned our schools into test prep factories. We no longer honor or teach the whole child; our curriculum has been narrowed to Language Arts and Math.  All. Day. Long. NCLB affected not only our most poverty-ridden schools, but also our more affluent ones, due to the impossible growth model mandated by NCLB. It is nearly impossible to find a public school today that has not turned into a test prep factory focusing on one, problematic, time-consuming, standardized test given near the end of the school year.  That one score determines the fate of schools, teachers, and students across the nation.  And you’re okay with that.

Your policies have made George W. look like public education’s best friend.  Race to the Top (RTTT) has been nothing more that a bribery scheme to force cash-strapped states to adopt and implement your administration’s unsound, punitive education policies, policies that do nothing to help our students, especially those children living in abject poverty. Rather than give money to our most poverty stricken schools, you’re awarding money to states that have capitulated to your Secretary of Education’s demands.  Sadly, the awarded money will not even cover the costs of the changes you have mandated in order to be in compliance and none of that money will end up in the classroom.  None. Of. It.

And then there’s Arne Duncan. That you appointed a basketball player as your Secretary of Education was insulting to teachers everywhere.  That you have supported him in his efforts to force our nation’s schools to implement his failed education policies imposed during his tenure, as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, is unfathomable.  You’re from Chicago, Mr. President.  You’re clearly a very smart guy.  I don’t believe for a moment that you are unaware of those well-documented failures.  So I have to ask you, Is your endgame the planned failure and dismantling of our nation’s public schools?  Because that is what it is looking like to me.

  • Mandate that schools implement failed policies.
  • Close schools and disrupt communities. 
  • Push out veteran teachers to make room for untrained, temporary Teach For America short timers.
  • Support large class sizes
  • Charterize our public schools and use our tax dollars to help your hedge fund buddies amass profits made at the expense our nation’s children even though you know that few charter schools do any better than public schools despite their ability to game their student population
  • Continue with the test and punish agenda

So I have to ask you, Mr. President:

  • Your daughters’ class sizes are 13:1.  Why is it okay for my daughters to be in classes with 36 students?
  • Your daughters’ enjoy a rich, well-rounded curriculum.  Why is it okay for my daughters to spend their days on worksheets, test prep and testing, studying only Language Arts and Math?
  • Your daughters are not given a scripted curriculum.  Why is it okay for my daughters to be subjected to a boring, irrelevant, low-level, yet often developmentally inappropriate, scripted curriculum?
  • Your daughters will not be subjected to the Common Core Standards, another product NOT developed by educators or child development experts.  Why is it okay to subject other children to this possibly illegal idiocy? I guess like David Coleman, you don’t ‘give a sh!t’ what I, an actual, highly-qualified,  veteran educator, have to say.
  • Your daughters don’t have any untrained, temporary Teach For America corps members as teachers.  Why is it okay for other children to have unqualified, temporary TFA teachers?
  • Your daughters are not labeled based on one test score.  Why is it okay for my daughters to be labeled by a test score? (And I don’t care if the label is Advanced!)
  • Your daughters aren’t subjected to high-stakes testing.  Why is it okay for my daughters to be subjected to high-stakes testing that robs them of receiving the education they deserve?

For me, I don’t have to worry about the affects of your education policies on my highly gifted daughters any longer.  They chose to drop out of school.  Their education stopped meeting their needs so they opted out completely.  I allowed them to make that choice because I could not defend the system that had been imposed on them by the Bush-Obama education policies.

But I worry about the 4 and 5 year olds I teach every day. Your policies affect my students in harmful ways that can have long-term effects.   I am expected to deliver a scripted, developmentally inappropriate curriculum, have them complete worksheets, and test them 3 times a year.  Not only do the tests not inform my instruction (I assess my student in authentic ways daily to inform my instruction), my students are robbed of instructional time while stressing out because what I am asking of them is beyond their ability. Weeks are wasted each year due to the 1:1 testing that I am now mandated to administer.  That testing has become more important than teaching should cause you great concern, but that is what your policies have created.  It’s all about the data now, whether or not the data collected has any value at all.  And speaking of the stress some children experience when being required to take these inappropriate tests, I have to ask you, Mr. President, have you ever had the joy of cleaning up a test that a distressed child has thrown up on it?

I hold Secretary Duncan accountable for the bad education he is forcing on my students.  I hold you accountable as well, Mr. President, because the buck stops with you.  You both should be ashamed about imposing your bad policies on my students, while protecting your children from these abuses.  Thanks to NCLB and NCLB, The Sequel – RTTT, all I can say is sh!t is really @#$%&* up!!  Don’t count on my vote this time around.


A Teacher Anon

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

more stupid sh!t arne says...

“We have so many great teachers, but we haven’t listened. And teachers are so nice they haven’t demanded a seat at the policy table…"
US Secretary of Education

O.M.F.G! D.E.L.U.S.I.O.N.A.L.  (Except for the "we haven't listened" part.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

kindergarten criminals

"The sources I have is I went to the Department of Education and got a list of kindergartens and I went to the safety department and got the crime report," he said. "In general, the towns with a kindergarten have 400 percent more crime than other towns in the same county. In every county the towns and cities with kindergarten had more crime."
Rep. Bob Kingsbury (R-Laconia)
New Hampshire

Are. You. F@#king. Kidding. Me.


Friday, June 15, 2012

my opinion of the common crap standards? do they really want to know?

Recently, my school district sent out a survey to teachers asking for input on the Common Crap Core National $tate $tandard$. The district has hand-picked a Common Core $tate $tandard$ Implementation Steering Committee to represent teachers and allow for transparency. Sadly, what my district tends to do is only select teachers who will passively, yet enthusiastically, suck down whatever Kool-Aid the district puts before them. If one is an advocate for doing what's best for kids as opposed to corporations, well, don't sit around waiting for a call to join a committee. And let me be clear: its not that my district evil, its just that they think they don't have a choice, so they cowardly roll over and accept the truly bad ideas being shoved down from on high. Then the dominoes continue to fall as administrators push these bad ideas on teachers who are then expected to push them onto our students. This circle-of-educational-life truly sucks. No Hakuna Matatas from me. I'm seeing problems everywhere and it doesn't look like they're going to be going away any time soon.

So, though I doubt it will garner anything more than an eye roll and maybe an Oh, she's the developmental one... followed by yet another eye roll, here's my response to the survey:

Common Core $tate $tandards $urvey

1.  What are you particularly excited about regarding the transition to CC$$?
·    Is this a trick question? (I really wanted to say Are you fucking kidding me? but I'm trying to be somewhat professional.)
·    And BTW - Most teachers don’t even know what the CC$ are or how they will impact our students and our profession.

2.  What obstacles or issues do you foresee?
·      Continued de-professionalization of teaching
·      Teacher burnout from over a decade of top down mandates that have yet to close the achievement gap.
·      Continued student burnout. 
·      Increased stress experienced by children, teachers and school districts due to increased high-stakes testing.
·      Continued mislabeling of children as failures because they are not developmentally ready to master the standards.
·      A further narrowing of the curriculum

3.  What essential questions do you have regarding the $tandard$ or the transition?

·      Why are only TK and K having to implement the CC$ in the 2012-13 school year? (Though I'd vote for NO one implementing them next year, or any year, for that matter!)

·      Implementing the CC$ will be co$tly (follow the money): more profe$$ional development; more high-$take te$t$; more technology; new textbook$, etc. How can there be adequate funding for implementing all aspects of the CC$ when we are experiencing continued budgetary crises?

·      The CC$ will require substantially more high-$take$ te$ting (Stephen Krashen predicts that testing will increase 20 fold.)
o   More high-stakes testing = less teaching. 
o   More high-stakes testing = more teaching to the test.
o   How are we going to protect our students from such abuse?

·      The CC$ were NOT developed by classroom teachers or child development experts. We will still be in a ‘one size fits all’, test-centric environment, expecting ALL children to learn and master standards at the same pace.  How will this benefit our children?

·      Will our curricula become even more narrowed? (Hint: Yes)

·      Will our curricula become even MORE test focused? (Hint: Yes)

·      And, yes, are the CC$ developmentally appropriate at any grade level? (They aren’t at my grade level and they go against best practices based on rigorous, peer-reviewed research.)

·      The CC$ diminishes the importance of fiction and personal narrative writing.  Coleman, a leading idiot author and smarmy architect of the CC$, expressed his view of personal narrative quite succinctly: “[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.”
Coleman is not an educator. Bill Gates, who bank rolled the CC$, is not an educator. Are we comfortable implementing standards that were determined by non-educators?

·      Have we learned nothing from the failure of NCLB? Basing everything on one test score is lunacy. The most important things cannot be measured. Creativity in American students is declining. Duncan, Gates and Obama would never submit their own children to these mandates. Why are they submitting ours?

·      Will the CC$ eventually be challenged in the courts as a violation of federal law that prohibits the federal government from imposing a national curriculum on our nation’s schools?

·      How will implementing the CC$ close the achievement gap? Please be specific and cite peer-reviewed research to support your argument.

Interesting links addressing the CC$:

NCLB’s Lost Decade for Educational Progress:
What Can We Learn from this Policy Failure?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

r u smarter than a 6th grader?

So I was sitting in a sixth grade classroom waiting for our staff meeting to begin.  Looking around the room, taking in the environment, I was trippin’ on how different the kindergarten room environment is from where the big kids are.  The words, Final Push, written on the whiteboard caught my eye. Uh oh, I thought.  I’ve heard that term before and since we’d just began the fourth quarter I knew it wasn’t referring to the end of the year.  Nope.  It was referring to the stupid totally fucked waste of time waste of money brain killing ulcer inducing upcoming high-stakes, standardized State test.

“Crap,” I thought.  Oh yeah, now I’m making a connection!  Grades two through six have been gearing up for these tests with their Final Push test prep extravaganza.  Yep.  Six weeks of mind numbing, stomach wrenching, enormously boring, enthusiasm sucking, test preparation.  Six whole weeks stressing kids out while denying them access to a real education where their natural curiosity and ability to think critically has been sorely eliminated – along with social studies, science, music, art, recess, etc.

I looked at the terminology on the board and thought, wow!  Just. Wow!!!  I also thought, Are You Fucking Kidding Me really???  Srsly!  I'll bet if I asked any non-sixth grade teacher in the room, including our principal, no one, I mean NO one, could define all of those terms.  I’d be willing to bet NO one at the district office could define those terms.  Our local school board couldn’t.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michelle Rhee, Wendy Kopp, Geoffrey Canada, Michael Bloomberg, Joel Klein, and even Oprah couldn’t define those terms.  Yet our SIXTH GRADERS are supposed to be able to know these terms and apply that knowledge on the State test? Why?  I mean, seriously, why?  Who came up with the ludicrous idea that this was grade level appropriate material, let alone relevant to sixth graders?

All I can say is, “Shit is fucked up!”  Totally.  This year has been the most frustrating in my entire career.  I am sick of District and State generated test data.  I’m sick of test prep.  I’m sick of testing.  Yes, even kindergarten teachers are now testing our children into oblivion. (More about that in an upcoming post.)  I’m disgusted by the reward parties for children who have made the grade, so to speak.  I weep for all those kids who NEVER get to attend any of the special events because they couldn’t make the grade no matter how hard they tried.  My stomach clenches when I think about walking into the multipurpose room at the beginning of the next school year.  Will I see the NAMES and SCORES of the kids who scored Proficient or Advanced on the State test posted on the walls for all to see, AGAIN? Will we spend $6,000 on Accelerated Reader when we spend $0 on new books for our library?

The only good thing about having furlough days for the third year in a row is that it means that I have five fewer days to put up with this shit.  Class sizes continue to rise.  Testing continues to increase.  More mandates that do nothing to help kids learn proliferate. Really, people, I can’t possibly take any more meds than I am currently taking.

So, dear readers, please take the test below and see if you’re smarter than a sixth grader.  If you’re not, and you are a parent with a school-aged child, please opt your child out of high-stakes testing.  If you don’t have kids, tell all parents you know that they can opt their child out of high-stakes testing.  Check out for more information.
All I can say again is “Shit is really fucked up.” And not in a good way!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

sh!t arne says

“Our goal is to work with educators in rebuilding their profession—and to elevate the teacher voice in shaping federal, state and local education policy,” said Secretary Duncan today at the launch of the RESPECT Project. “Our larger goal is to make teaching not only America’s most important profession—but America’s most respected profession,” he said.
Secretary Arne Duncan 
National Conversation on the Future of Teachers Town Hall Meeting
So, Arne.  You're going to do this while you and your corporate ed deformer pals continue to beat the sh!t out of these teachers you so respect. Give me a break! Seriously, Arne.  How stupid do you think teachers are?

R.E.S.P.E.C.T..... Arne, you haven't a clue!

Friday, February 10, 2012

breaking news

BREAKING NEWS:  NYC DOE murders 23 more public schools. No arrests made. Meanwhile, in other news, texting Occupier is thrown to the ground, arrested and charged with resisting arrest and battery of a peace officer. Bail set at $10,000.