A Confederacy of Reformers

I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed by all the rapid changes happening in the education sphere. I’m positive I’m not alone in feeling this way – based on the feedback, articles and correspondence I’ve been receiving from local and national groups and individuals. As I struggled to zero in on a topic where I could help or enlighten the most, something else even more screwed up would be sent to me. I’ve started and stopped work on several pieces, which may make their appearances later, but I feel the need to get my bearings again. All this crazy “stuff” (not my first word choice) needs to be sorted out and organized before I can make any more forward progress. I think the mistake I was making, and many others are probably making, is not connecting all the dots and figuring out what kind of picture they reveal.

Right now hundreds (and probably thousands) of disparate groups are polishing their individual pieces of the puzzle and identifying a few corners and straight edges here and there . . . maybe the occasional face piece. All of us are focusing on our own small pieces of what is actually a very complex puzzle. If we could put them all together, it would surely show a grand scheme, but we’re all convinced we’re holding the key. I can’t solve this puzzle on my own, but what I can do is show you the pieces I’ve managed to put together, and what I think I’m starting to see. These are my pieces:

Intentionally Flawed Teacher Evaluation Systems

A scourge of questionable teacher evaluation systems and Value Added programs has surged across Louisiana, but across dozens of other states as well. While all these systems are referenced as “Valued Added” or “Teacher Evaluation” systems, they all have very different methods of operating, and degrees of crappiness. Every one I’ve reviewed or seen reviewed by unaffiliated evaluators all of them have been revealed to be questionable at best, and outright absurd such as in the case of Louisiana’s Value Added system. Despite all these studies and findings, reformers and their allies still tout these kangaroo court evaluation systems as valid and necessary, and tie tenure and continuing employment and compensation to them. When the public starts to recognize just how absurd the metrics are, Reformer headed DOEs change the formulae, either in small ways or even quite dramatically. Sometimes this makes the systems even worse – for teachers and in terms of accuracy, but this change is only meant to fool the masses. Changing these systems gives the appearance of reasonableness, and shifts the conversation to one of getting data from DOE’s to prove their new systems are more accurate. Of course reformers like John White refuse to provide this data except to sympathetic patsies. The clamorings of researchers unable to get data, without lengthy lawsuits, is never covered by the mainstream media. Ultimately what happens is experienced teachers are driven from the profession in droves to make room for poorly trained, easily manipulated, inexpensive temporary recruits, teachers unions are dissolved and public education is diluted and destroyed to make way for privately held charter schools. These systems are a farce and are simply a tool to evict experienced teachers from their schools, so those schools can then be handed over to private companies, who make campaign contributions to anyone who will further their destructive agenda.

Vouchers and Charter Schools are better for “Choice” although not a better choice

John White and his ilk routinely defend unvetted voucher schools and unregulated charter schools in the name of “choice.” John White has claimed he doesn’t need to monitor and evaluate these programs because parents are in the best position to know what is best for their children. He and his allies actively fight any attempts to evaluate these programs, receiving public dollars, by the same standards he evaluates public schools, student performance and teachers. The routine claims that are made is that such evaluations are cumbersome and interfere with learning (which is true and why they are foisted off on public schools). However it is also true that most charter students and voucher students perform worse than their peers, in many cases much worse. Initially reformers encouraged this type of comparison, until the results came back overwhelmingly negative. Since they can no longer claim these schools are “better” by their own standards, they have shifted the argument away from quality to one of “freedom” allowing these schools empowers parents by providing them “choice.” However without any information, or guidance, most children (and probably most adults) would choose chocolate chip cookies over carrots. Without nutritional information, calorie content, and high blood sugar readings which would you choose; a carrot or a cookie?

It’s Okay to segregate our schools by class, race, disability as long as we claim to be doing it “for the children”

Since desegregation didn’t work, it’s okay to re-segregate our schools. It doesn’t matter how this is accomplished. You can create shadow schools (multiple campuses miles apart that are racially or socio-economically segregated and reported as a single school to disguise that fact), you can create charter schools that through sheer coincidence only enroll white students in a majority minority district, you can split your school district into as many different school boards and zones until you get your preferred racial mix, you can refuse to hire Special education teachers to serve disabled students so they are forced to enroll somewhere else, you can banish all your low performing students or discipline problems to alternative schools (ideally done after the funding date but before the testing date.)

As a side note, you can say or do anything to anyone as long as you end your suggestion with “for the children.”

Student data is a commodity that can be handed over to private entities as long as they claim it is for an educational purpose

Several years ago the Federal Department of education secretly made an exception to allow vendors, states and school districts to ignore FERPA and provide as much private student data to whomever they wish and use it for whatever purpose they see fit, regardless of whether parents consent or not. This data will be very valuable to these companies, and potentially very harmful to the children. This data can now be used for non-educational purposes; there is no oversight as to how this data is used or protected, and no way to correct data that may be erroneous. This data will be used by employers, credit agencies, insurance companies, and marketing companies to direct market products to children throughout their lifetime.

 

History and Science are negotiable and can be rewritten to suit conservative agendas

Creationism and biblical teachings are being substituted for true Science curricula. Schools teach children that humans probably herded dinosaurs just a few thousand years ago, and they probably still exist in hidden enclaves such as Loch Ness or off the Japanese coast. Students are taught that evolution is impossible (because it seems complicated) that Climate change is either not happening because God would not allow it, or if it is happening it is part of God’s will and plan and not caused by burning rainforests or manufacturing everything in Chinese coal powered factories. Schools are teaching slavery was just a misunderstood part of our nation’s history, and not a very bad one. They are being taught that hippies and liberals are Satan Worshipping amoral communists trying subvert all that is great and decent in society.

Virtual Schools with virtually no attendance compliance, or any compliance, and universally poor track records for preparing students are exploding in every education market

In every study I’ve seen, Virtual school students do worse than their demographic equivalents in physical settings. Virtual school classes have been reported having in excess of 500 students per teacher. These schools are being offered to students of all grade levels (k thru 12). It is clear that these schools are money makers as in most states they earn a sizeable portion of the funding that goes to a traditional student (in Louisiana it ranges from 90% to 100% of MFP) with less than a tenth of the cost. Often these students withdraw and return to a traditional setting, but the virtual school gets to keep the entire funding for the year, and the traditional school has not only the uncompensated cost of the student to cover, but also takes a hit on their “scores” (in Louisiana it’s called an SPS or School Performance Score) as well as the additional cost of trying to get that student caught up. Many of these students enroll in virtual schools simply to dropout without getting hassled. They get a free computer and internet connection and never have to log into school or complete an assignment. This is especially true in Louisiana where virtual school operators are forbidden by the Louisiana State Department of Education from exiting students that stop logging in, or fail to ever log in.

Teach for America has been converted into a temp teacher displacement and replacement organization

Teach for America originally had a noble purpose but it has been corrupted by billionaires and special interests and serves as little more than a temp agency for school districts and a training ground for new education “leaders.” These leaders are often political science and marketing/media majors that preach the Reform gospel. TFA now even establishes staffing contracts and demands placement fees from states for bringing in a constant pool of new, 5 week trained teachers that rarely stay longer than their 2 year commitment and often leave sooner.

It’s better to close schools and spread the students around to higher performing schools to mask the problem.

Rather than trying to fix the schools which have poor students who are performing poorly, Reformers believe it’s better to close the doors and shove all those kids into higher performing schools, no matter how high the class size gets. Just this past week Rahm Emmanuel closed 54 schools in Chicago and shuffled all those kids to other schools. I have not seen any studies that show this strategy works. I have seen some that show these students are more likely to feel disaffected by school, by the longer bus rides, the cramped classrooms, by the loss of all their friends and teachers, and tend to perform worse the next year and even drop out. You won’t see any studies showing this is effective, because it’s not. What you will see is “school” scores which Reformers point to and say things are going swell. What they don’t tell you is they routinely change these formula from year to year to make them say whatever they want to say. Pre-school closing and privatizing they say how horrible the scores are. After a few years of destructive policies they boost the scores by adding points or changing the test and say all is going well and pat themselves on the back. For the schools that even the most generous boosts are insufficient – they simply exclude them from the rankings. You can’t be disappointed by what you can’t see. To make sure you can’t see it they usually stop providing data to researchers and remove all traces of historical or current school data from their websites, as Louisiana has done.

So what’s my point do you ask?

I could go, and maybe I will later when the fancy strikes me, but I hope this is enough for you to start seeing the picture I am. What I am seeing is a purposeful plot to destroy public schools, and to profit from the destruction. These folks say they are data conscious and want to rely on “data driven decisions” but if that were true the data already readily available shows that everything they are doing is having the opposite effect of what they are purporting to provide. There is too much coordination for this to be accidental, and they are too successful for me to believe they are simply not competent enough to understand the data that disproves everything they claim. These groups have gone out of their way to spin the data, falsify the data, or simply hide or destroy the data to prevent people from seeing what is going on. These groups are fully aware of what they are doing – destroying public education in our country. Some of them are doing it purely for profit driven motives, but there is more going on here. These are some of the puzzle pieces I have and what I see. Now if we allow this to continue, what do you see?

ConfederacyOfReformers

About crazycrawfish

I am a former Louisiana Department of Education employee. I was one of the principal student data folks for the better part of a decade. You can find my blog at crazycrawfish.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in louisiana, politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

115 Responses to A Confederacy of Reformers

  1. Pingback: The Most Brilliant Post of the Day | Diane Ravitch's blog

  2. Reblogged this on Cloaking Inequity and commented:
    Reformers: “Competent enough to understand the data that disproves everything they claim.”

  3. sloopiel says:

    The goal is to privatize the public school system, making schools profit centers. The value added attraction is that it also allows the moneyed interests to control the “education” of future generations of drones and worker bees to staff their corporations.

  4. Fred Mindlin says:

    Echoing Diane Ravitch, who led me here, this is a brilliant post–your title alone is an outstanding contribution to the fine art of creating collective nouns; you’re not just exalting larks here. However, it would be an even better label as “a confederacy of DEformers,” the proper term for these charlatans. Eagerly awaiting the followup pieces you promise.

    • Kevin S. Wilson says:

      I took the title as a riff on the novel “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole.

      • LOL. Correct.  An indirect way of calling The Reformer menagerie dunces and alluding to this movement being hatched in New Orleans.  Sadly we are probably the dunces in this story if we allow this to continue.

  5. Pingback: A Great Read On Corporate Reform…. | TupperCooks2

  6. philaken says:

    Excellent analysis! Think you for putting it out there no holds barred!

    People better wake up to the fact that our already imperfect democracy is rapidly being completely stolen from us. You are right about it being a “confederacy” organizing this. One of the main organizations coordinating this assault on democracy is The Broad Foundation. See this article for details:

    “Who is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education?”

    http://www.defendpubliceducation.net/

  7. fremontwatch says:

    And this is how neoconservatives will maitain control of the country…by segregating everyone by race and class so we don’t share common experiences, by talking about a “college-going culture” but making it more and more out of reach for students. While public education will be maintained for the upper classes it will be destroyed for everyone else. It’s already over folks, as I have told my students they need to get a career they can use in Canada, New Zealand, Australia or China.

    • Payton says:

      They are starting to introduce charter schools, national testing and looking at putting all students data on a national database here in NZ too, as they are in Australia. I am guttered. Take New Zealand education which is right up there and follow a system like this? Why?

      • Money. This has never been about improving education. It’s about making money and grabbing control of the system. To ensure their control is absolute they must remove those who might get in their way (teachers) and denigrate them so people wont listen to their warnings.

  8. nocalgal says:

    Thank you for connecting the dots …. now to get it out further …. and make sure folks really understand what is going on …. This was done to the medical field … They are taking ‘service industries’ and putting profit motives all over them when they are totally NOT about profit … but education, medical treatment, and protection (firefighters) these are union jobs and the DeFormers are so about breaking down the unions ….

    FOLLOW THE MONEY …..

  9. Vicki Cobb says:

    What a disaster! I have such admiration for all of you who are fighting the good fight. It seems that school reform is just another term for child abuse.

    I asked my grandson, when he finished seventh grade, which of his teachers did he think was having fun teaching him. By “fun” I meant that the teacher was involved and seemed to want to be there in the classroom. Jonny thought a long time before he replied, “My sixth grade ELA teacher.”
    So then I asked him how he know that a teacher wasn’t having fun. “Because I’m not learning very much,” was his instant reply.

    We need to focus on creating schools that foster the love of learning in both teachers and students. It sounds like many people have lost sight of this. Successful people often think that the schools they survived are what education is supposed to be and it’s not supposed to be “fun” for anyone.

    • dmglassy says:

      Vicki Cobb, I agree with your grandson. I am a fifth grade teacher, I am no longer having fun teaching, and I know my students have not learned what they should have. However, I have done pre and post assessments, cooperative groupings, making sure each student had a job and a self rubric. I have given the students choices in their learning, differentiated my lessons, and created ( or bought) activities to reinforce student learning. All in the name of Louisiana’s new evaluation system. No, teaching is no longer fun, students are no longer learning very much. I am very afraid of the test next week.
      By the way, I have over 17 years of experience.

  10. Suzy says:

    Yes yes yes. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Thank you. I will share this widely!

  11. susannunes says:

    You can thank “Democrats” like Barack Obama and Arne Duncan for this massive destruction of public education.

    Obama and Duncan are FRAUDS masquerading as Democrats. They are actually implementing anti-democratic, neoliberal policies which the GOP only hinted about.

    Obama actually talked about “public-private partnerships” in his SOTU speech, which is just an innocuous label for the pilfering of public assets for private profit.

    I don’t know if this criminality can be stopped since the go-ahead has been given from Washington. People had better rise up in arms or it will ALL be gone.

    • True.  Obama is really more of a neo-con than a progressive or liberal.  I differ greatly on his education policies and would prefer to see the Department of Education shut down than run lke it has been for the past decade or so since NCLB.

      Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

    • And at whom would you like to direct your guns (arms)? But I agree with you that no Republican president could get away with this devolution of public education. Even Bush had to have Ted Kennedy sign on to NCLB to get away with the “Texas plan.” Sometimes I think Democrats are even stupider than Republicans.

      • susannunes says:

        That’s exactly it. It’s all a big con. The GOP talk about enacting extremist policies, but then a “Democrat” turns around and actually enacts them.

        No Republican president would have ever gotten away with what Obama has done to public education. We need to rid the party of the neoliberals.

  12. Interesting, timely, and worthy of more investigation to be sure.

  13. Reblogged this on The Public Educator and commented:
    This blog clearly echos my feelings. This is class warfare at its finest. The elite always claim that liberals want to redistribute their wealth. Well, this powerful elite is absolutely redistributing what little wealth I have. We must stop them and, I hate to say this, if normal democratic channels will not work for us, civil disobedience may be the only way. These people are just refusing to listen to us and we may have to take back our profession in a manner that will be more forceful.

  14. I reblogged your post on my blog: thepubliceducator.wordpress.com and made this comment:This blog clearly echos my feelings. This is class warfare at its finest. The elite always claim that liberals want to redistribute their wealth. Well, this powerful elite is absolutely redistributing what little wealth I have. We must stop them and, I hate to say this, if normal democratic channels will not work for us, civil disobedience may be the only way. These people are just refusing to listen to us and we may have to take back our profession in a manner that will be more forceful.

    • And what form would that civil disobedience take? Occupy the classroom?

      • Tina says:

        Sort of. Every parent would have to pull their kid on testing days, every teacher would have to refuse to give it. The school boards would have to say to their constituents “we’re going to tell the Feds to shove it, but that means we’re giving up their money and we need community support to do that”—go back to true local control. Once the federal $$ isn’t involved, very few of the federal laws matter.

      • Paul Roden says:

        There are several ways to bring about nonviolent change. Let me cite five sources to start. First of all there is the Global Nonviolence Database at http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu for a list of tactics based on Gene Sharp’s 198+ different methods of nonviolent action. 2nd, The Albert Einstein Institute at http://aeinstein.org for more information on Gene Sharp’s research including the essay “From Dictatorship to Democracy” the essay that helped spark the Arab Spring. Thirdly, the writings of George Lakey, at http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/lakeylivrev.html He has developed a 5 Stage Strategic Framework for nonviolent revolution. Fourth the writings of the late Bill Moyer (not the PBS guy) at:http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/moyermap.html An 8 Stage Model for planning nonviolent direct action campaigns and movements. And finally the Digital Activism Resistance Project at: http://digital-activism.org/index.php/projects/cr20/ . They have postulated 10 more methods of nonviolent action through digital means. Remember what it says in the Declaration of Independence: “It is the inherent right of the people to alter or abolish their government.”

        • Thanks Paul. I knew of some of your resources but not others. What Mr. Underhill does not understand is that in a democratic society if there are two different points of view as to how goods and services are to be organized and distributed one of two things happen. Either a compromise is reached but if a minority that has amassed a concentration of power refuses to even listen to the majority, there is usually a reaction in which power is often forcefully or violently removed from the minority . I think a good study of history offers us many examples–especially a few beheaded European monarchs.

          • Yes, liberal teacher, such reactions do occur. There are two questions. Is there a majority which is being ignored? Is the minority not listening? From my perspective, President Obama and the Democrat party are the minority and they are not listening. We can, I think, legitimately compare President Obama to Louis XV, and his successor candidate in 2016 to Louis XVI. BUT even the entrenched power of the bureaucracy and the Democrat Party elite can, I believe, be brought to heel by the normal political processes, though it will be a close race between doing so and the bankruptcy crash of the country.

            • Oh, your political agenda really comes out in this post. One thing that the CCSS teaches is that one must back up a broad idea or thesis statement with text-based evidence. Mr. Underhill, the evidence is completely against your thesis. How can a political party that has won the majority of the vote in the last five out of six presidential elections be in the minority. By the way, the only reason the Dems do not control the House is because of gerrymandering. And, yes, there is ample evidence you can find on the Internet for this general statement. You should review some high school review book in history to discover that the French Revolution was caused by a wealthy elite noble class that was taxed too little and who expropriated what little wealth and resources the fledgling middle class and peasant class had in their possession. We now have something similar in this country. A wealthy class that pays too little taxes and who has used their wealth to control elements of both political parties–one more than the other. When one creates a fake reform which results in public school teachers salaries and benefits decreasing so that some private operator can get public funds to make a profit, that is nothing less than absolute cupidity. Basically, this wealthy class is engaging in nothing less than class warfare against me and my brothers who, for the most part, work so hard, and have dedicated our lives to the public good. I will not rest until we again have a true progressive income tax as we did a half a century ago. This billionaire class should be taxed from 75% to 90% as they were before the 1970s. Take away 75% of the wealth from the Waltons, Broads, Zuckerbergs, and Gates and they are still billionaires. Take away 10% more from a hard working teacher and we can no longer make ends meet. And by the way, at that time, America had a vibrant middle class in which only one household member really needed to work and which there was ample leisure time to spend time with a family.

        • Thank you for these references. I will read them. I am more interested in which avenue of approach YOU are in favor of. I agree with the D of I in its observation that it is the right of a people to change their government when it becomes oppressive. So far, however, I prefer to work within the current constitutional system. War is costly, civil war especially costly. I have hope that the current administration’s policies can be modified by action through the ballot box.

          • Paul Roden says:

            Harlan, I too prefer elections, lobbying and petitioning and will continue to do so. But as we have learned from history, that is often not enough to effect change. The Civil Rights, Anti-Vietnam War, Women’s Movement, Gay/Lesbian Rights, Anti-nuclear movements teach us that you have to take to the streets and put your bodies on the line to disrupt the business as usual. And as we have seen in Tunsia and Egypt, “the power of the people is greater than the people in power”. Wael Ghonim’s book: “Revolution 2:0″ is where that quote comes from. He was the Google Middle East marketing VP who help lead the Egyptian revolt. It is clear to me that despite what Gil Scott Heron once wrote and said: “The revolution will not be televised.” It will however be Tweeted, videostreamed, Podcast, texted and blogged.

            Nonviolence has a different view of power than the powers at be have. It is not physical force or violence, but withdrawal of compliance, cooperation, and consent that is the source of our power. Moral suasion and economic withdrawal from the economy, the banking system and consumption will be the ultimate step to transformation. That is why parallel institutions, co-ops, credit unions, community banking worker owned businesses and NGO’s are so important in bringing about a true nonviolent revolution. We need an economy focused on Main Street,not Wall Street. And we need a government focused on Main Street not Wall Street. What if Wall Street had a trading day and no one came or there was no stocks and bonds to trade? The Occupy Movement is just a prototype. It is not going away. “We have just begun to fight”. Read Gene Sharp and George Lakey.

            • I too am much pleased by community owned and cooperative enterprises. They do seem to work where I have heard of them being tried. I did not see Occupy as such a movement though, but rather a pseudo movement. In my town it was just a lark for a few socialist freshmen students, who disappeared when they had exams to take. Now it is gone, the park is clear, and has been retaken over by the usual ten or so winos accustomed to hang out there cadging quarters as they can and scaring “regular folks” walking back and forth to “regular” jobs. We DO need a government focused on Main Street, and I like to think of myself as an atom in the effort to bring it about which we call the TEA party. We’re mostly fat farmers interested in keeping government from running a walking trail across our river front properties which have been in our families for three generations. That is NOT what Occupy is about. In fact, I suspect that what we want is devolved revolution (in the sense you mean it), that is, less revolution, less taxes, less interference in our health care, less interference in our local country school districts, metaphorically fewer regulations telling us when we can fish and where. We country folk have Twitter, you tube, podcasting, texting, and blogging too. If your electronic means bring you together in demonstration—but where will that be—our electronic means will bring us there as silent, non-violent delevening, so that the revolution you look for will not happen. We cling to our God and our guns. All of us have someone gay in our families, so that’s already accepted. We are in favor of civil rights for everyone, and for us too. We are deeply libertarian. No the anti-revolution will not be televised either. It is taking place out here in the grass. It dances as the Grange hall. Do what you can, but we will be here to disrupt higher taxes and theft of property. Enjoy.

  15. Nancy Jones says:

    And to continue the thought of nocalgal above, the privatization of prisons is part of this diabolic mix as well. Highways were privatized long ago and there are horror after horror story of people ending up having their licenses suspended for non-EZ pass holders accidentally getting into an “EZ pass only lane” where the fare was 50 cents, but will cost hundreds of dollars to get their license reinstated. And the list goes on and on and on..l

  16. Max says:

    Excellent. After 21 years if teaching, I have left the profession, and while I can’t claim that my “principled and outraged opposition” to all of this was the only reason I left, it is the reason why I will never go back. The corporate right has been deliberately undermining and destroying public education since Reagan, and the army of Rhee supporters in Obama’s DOE have not made things one whit better.

  17. Monica Smith says:

    America’s ex-men have always relied on the public corporations to provide “free” goods they could take to “market” for a profit. Humans are just another resource to be exploited, now that the cupboard of natural resources is getting bare.
    Also, the denizens of our public corporations have an incentive to shed as many obligations as possible, now that the public can actually find out what they have been up to. Petty potentates do not consider FOIA and its local variants a boon.
    We need a better class of public servant.

  18. KYrocky says:

    As goes public education so goes America. Every privatization effort begins with the accepted belief that the private sector can do it better and cheaper. No matter that the actual experience, truth, and facts repeatedly show this not to be true, especially with public education. This zombie belief is perpetuated by too many powerful backers whose true goal is to launder every public dollar for every need through the private sector and siphon off as much as possible in profits for the few. Performance does not matter, cost-effectiveness does not matter, and the toll on our country does not matter. Education, prisons, highways, health care, social security, war, etc., are all being drooled over for the potential profits to be made.

    Much of the charter school movement is being funded by the billionaire families of Devos (Amway), Walton (Walmart) and Gates (Microsoft). They have found willing partners in religious schools who want to siphon off public funds for their religious teaching. Their astrotruf campaigns rely on pandering to class-ists, racists, and offering a false panacea to every parent who just wants what is best for their child. All for money. They are shameless. And they will use their power to ensure, through their purchased politicians, that they never have to judged by the standards and metrics that would provide an apples to apples comparison with public education.

    • Absolutely true.  Now what are we going to do about it?

      • CitizensArrest says:

        With the media under control of the oppressors, all we can do is network and publicize the very many stories of their corruption and theft. As we have been doing for some time now. There’s no he said she said or agreeing to disagree when it comes to being presented with the absolute proof that you are being robbed and cheated by those who view you as a commodity.

    • Ang says:

      Great post!
      Way to lay it out.

  19. Claude Hayward says:

    Universal public education was held to be a noble and worthy goal for all Americans up until the social upheavals of the 60s demonstrated clearly to the Oligarchy the problems to be caused by generations of untermenschen using their education to think for themselves and then stand up on their hind legs and eloquently argue for their fair share of the Prosperity Pie. Just wouldn’t do to have all those lower-class types forgetting their proper place and speaking impertinently to their betters .

    What you are seeing now is merely the culmination of decades of purposeful effort by the ruling elites.

    “Nice Republic you have there, if you can keep it.”

  20. Ang says:

    Excellent post, crawfish….thank you!

    Anyone else read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine?

    I think she really got the big picture…this mess extends well beyond the mess the 1% are making of education.
    Please check it out if you have not read it.

    • I have not read it but I fully comprehend the extent to which our entire society is being stolen our from under us and auctioned off to the most poltically connected bidder.  I believe education is the lynchpin, the key to solving this or the final pillar of our society that if we lose, we lose the temple, and the war.

      Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

      • Ang says:

        Hi!
        Please consider checking it out.
        Even for those of us who are well informed, Klein lays out a hell of a case and documents, documents, documents!
        Well worth the time and great ammunition, if you know what I mean.
        Thanks again for the excellent post!

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  22. Nancy says:

    Go re-read Class Warfare by Andrew Brill. It’s the blueprint for everything…

    We’re all caught up in the trees, but Brill gives a glimpse of the forest. This diarist is looking at that same forest from a different angle.

  23. mieprowan says:

    Reblogged this on There Are So Many Things Wrong With This and commented:
    Public school CT. Good points made here.

  24. crusader for public education says:

    excellent

  25. Crazy Crawfish speculates that there is some motive beyond just the profit motive that is driving the so-called “reform” movement, but he does not come out and actually say what the big picture is that he sees being slowly formed as he fits the pieces of the puzzle together. What is the “figure in the carpet” (to quote Henry James) which is emerging as we stare at it? Since Crazy Crawfish does not explicitly say what he sees, I will try to do it for him: it is this, that conservatism is successfully taking back American education from progressivism, and that the resulting picture of American education will be a mosaic, made up of thousands of little bits of discrete education providers rather than be the smoothly detailed seamless painting which was public education in its heyday of the 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s and 80′s.

    And he is also probably right that the dissolution of the comprehensive public schools arises from the aversion of the top 80% of parents to have their kids mixing with the bottom academically disinclined 20%. Crawfish cries out that it is resegregation driven by old time racism and evangelical know-nothingism. I think, by contrast, that old-time racism is dead. Among well brought up children, integration is normal and happy. The non-scientific teachings to which he points, are, in my opinion a stand in for morality. If a parent has to give up a little modern science to get his or her kid into an age cohort that receives instruction in virtue, such a parent will do that, especially if she or he can ALSO get adequate instruction in reading, writing, literature, and math, the two sectors of the CCSS which have so far been rolled out.

    Crawfish’s rant is particularly instructive in the piece of the puzzle which could be called science instruction. While humans playing with dinosaurs is painfully anachronistic to educated people he also offers his own version of “true science.” He says: “Students are taught that evolution is impossible (because it seems complicated) that Climate change is either not happening because God would not allow it, or if it is happening it is part of God’s will and plan and not caused by burning rainforests or manufacturing everything in Chinese coal powered factories.” The problem is that Climate change really is junk science. Crawfish, however, assumes it is true and offers as a positive feature that public schools teach that global warming, now renamed Climate change, comes form excess carbon in the atmosphere. Without specifically arguing that topic here, those who hold the opinion that it is socialist indoctrination really aimed at redistributing wealth from the USA to undeveloped countries would naturally want to get their kids out of that intellectually poisonous atmosphere.

    There is a good deal bogus about the reform movement, but for Crawfish to rest his case ultimately on global warming, renamed Climate change, is simply to say ‘My science is better than your science,’ when both are crocks. That is totally unpersuasive to the beleaguered parent who just wants his kid in a safe school where the kid will learn to read and learn arithmetic.

    There is even another slant in Crawfish’s statement which is a put off. He laments that in these religious or other charter schools: “Schools are teaching slavery was just a misunderstood part of our nation’s history, and not a very bad one. They are being taught that hippies and liberals are Satan Worshipping amoral communists trying subvert all that is great and decent in society.” In spite of the hyperbole and musty smell of the straw man about these purported characterizations of slavery and liberals, I don’t doubt that conservative parents believe something close to them.

    Everyone recognizes that the promise of the declaration of independence was not realized in the original constitution, but we also need to remember that an immense war had to be fought to vindicate the political equality of human beings. The true insight is that the nation partially redeemed itself through the Civil War, and is still working very hard to fulfill the promise in the Declaration. No parent would want ignored in his or her child’s school that redemptive impulse in the nation. Crawfish wants to keep riding the wrong of slavery to defend public schools.

    Although the term “communist” is usually considered “name calling,” and therefore inappropriate everywhere, there is a grain of truth in it, in that the public school teaching cadre is deeply permeated by marxist, socialist, and Communist Manifesto principles. They hold them from the highest of motives. They want to guarantee that every citizen, indeed every poor person on the globe really does get a fair shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We all what that; our differences are in the means. Communists think that the state can achieve that result, and want to be in power to try to achieve it. Unfortunately, the track record of communism would lead anyone to have a reservation or two about it. Equality is a good thing. Freedom is a good thing. When the public schools, for whatever reason, and often not their fault, failed to deliver equality, some parents, I suppose, want the option to try something else, and the reform movement is pandering to that desire for freedom of choice.

    Crawfish’s criticisms of “reform” are all well taken (except his science paragraph), but since he does not offer any proposed solution to the problem of actually delivering equity, in the end his essay only does half the job. Thus with a score of 50% I give Crawfish an “E” on his paper, but I offer him the chance to revise for a better grade. How arrogant of me is that? Hey, I’m getting ready for the CCSS. What do you expect?

    Reply

    • Jon Awbrey says:

      Re: “Crazy Crawfish does not explicitly say what he sees, I will try to do it for him: it is this, that conservatism is successfully taking back American education from progressivism, and that the resulting picture of American education will be a mosaic, made up of thousands of little bits of discrete education providers rather than be the smoothly detailed seamless painting which was public education in its heyday of the 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s and 80′s.”

      Ha! What a joke! Your “conservatism” is nothing but nostalgia for the 18th Century English Aristocracy and your mosaic — where have we heard that thousand points of light bit before? — is a monolithic East India Teaching Company run by Gates + Murdoch + Pearson.

      • Ed-M says:

        Exactly. The education “reformers” ever since the beginning of the nineteenth century have been seeking the holy grail of teaching the masses only what they need to know to earn a meagre living, teach obedience to the overseer (boss, owner, master, etc.) and pay dearly, even go deeply into debt, in order for them to obtain it.

        And of course, that history “curricula” are now including lessons that state slavery was not that bad, even though it’s still politically incorrect to mention it at even CPAC when the cameras are rolling at least, id prima facie evidence to me that the neoconservatives have every intent to bring back slavery, which was never fully abolished by the 13th Amendment.

    • Harlan,
      I will wear an “E” from you as a badge of honor. I have a body of previous work that disputes most of your bizarre claims and analysis.

      Can I assume the “E” comes from a new easy to understand school grading system you are developing?

      • And you have a good sense of humor as well as a body of work. I don’t doubt your conclusions as to the LA charters and vouchers based on the secret data, BUT that’s still only half the story. What’s your remedy, if we accept your critique of the PR. Or is that not part of your forensic purpose? Or an unfair criticism. Am I engaging in a new fallacy,”Expanding the question”?. Are equality and freedom intrinsically incompatible or not? I think so. We can have freedom, but we can never have complete equity.

        I reject the notion that conservatives want people to fail and shut up. It’s too easy to cop out to conspiracy and the devil of capitalist greed.

        The free exercise of religion MIGHT just include operating religiously flavored schools, as long as no one faith is established. The supreme court will get around to the question eventually, if a Louisiana Muslim school sues. Is there no place for religion in state supported education? And if not, why not?

        You yourself believe in the religion of global warming. As a statistician you KNOW the data do not support the claim. And yet you believe, fervently. Why then are you unwilling to cut the odd francophone catholic school a little voucher slack? My position is that education cannot go forward without some morality, and if we are driven to desperation by lack of other ways of teaching virtue to religious myth, we ought to put tax money behind it. I will grant you that it is a very, very difficult issue and people of good will can differ on it. But you need to explain how we get the leaven of morality into the dough if not by religion.

        • First, the global warming. I’m not sure I ever said i “believed” it. I do, but that is irrelevant. What is relevant is that I believe evolutionary theory and global warming theries/hypothesis are “Science.” Science can be wrong, and often has been. Just look at any of the early atomic models proposed with fixed electrons and how we have evolved now to “god particles,” I doubt we will stop there, but that is what we’ve defined based on the measurments, studies, data, and analysis we’ve gathered and defined to date. It appears from the data I have seen, that the earth is warming. This is something that has happened throughout the history of the earth as well as cooling. There is ample evidence to support this “belief” as you call it. We believe it is happening much more rapidly than previous climate changes. there is data to support this conlcusion. We also believe the causes are man-made as the increase corresponds to human industrial activity. There is evidence to support this. That is what science is, my friend. Saying “God” which cannot be proven, would not allow this, or would fix everything is not science. That does not make it true, nor untrue. People are free to believe that. However they should not be free to teach that as science in science class.

          I enjoy a good dialogue. If you can’t defend your opinion from criticism, then your opinion may not be very credible, or you may not be a very credible source. I’m not sure i have to time to respond to critical essays though, i have a lot of BS to disprove already but if you have singlular questions and time i will be happy to oblige you. :) (You can see in this post and comment thread I do not shy away from those who disagree with me https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/the-solution-is-liberal-socialism/)

          I am eager to work on the remedy, however we can’t sure a patient if we insist on injuring and infecting him with new diseases over and over. For starters, the remedy is not demonizing teachers and closing schools, nor depriving schools of funding, especially struggling schools. The solution is not testing our children to grade teachers at the expense of teaching them. The solution is not luring all the kids out into shady voucher and charter school vans with promises of education candy. The solution is not sharing data with Rupert Murdoch to exploit like he did with children’s data he got ahold of in Britian by hacking people’s phones. Handing the data over to him legally does not make that a “better” soultion. We must staunch the blood flow, pevent reinfections, before we can hope to treat the patient.

          However the solutions are there once we do that. We need more resources for schools that are stuggling, not less! We need more guidance counselors for kids from troubled backgrounds, not zero as John White believes! We need more libraries, that engage children, not zero libraries when these children often don;t have any books in their homes! We need to engage parents, not jail them when their kids are “truant.” We need to stop hiding children in “alternative schools” when they do bad stuff, but work harder to reach them and help them. These are all things we can and should be doing, but we must also stop the rampant destruction being wrought by deformers.

          • Thank you for your candid reply. I too agree that attributing natural phenomena to “God” is not science. I also agree that “manmade global warming” is a scientific topic and that “evolution” is a scientific topic, and that introducing theological explanations into science classes is not science. I also agree that should we engage in a dialogue, it should be on a singular question. The most interesting thing to me which you say is that the earth is warming.

            Let’s leave aside for the moment the question of whether the purported warming is human caused or not. I propose that, if you have time to dialogue, that we focus on the single question of whether the earth has warmed since 1800. I would be interested to see the curve you rely on to claim that surface temperatures of the earth have been increasing since 1800 through 2012. If surface temperatures have not gone up in that time frame, then their correlation with industrial activity is irrelevant. If there has been global warming in that time span, we can then go on to consider with what it might be correlated, and beyond that we can even try to see whether that correlation can be elevated into a cause. Everything, however, depends on the raw data from the past, because it is upon that data alone that an extrapolation to the future must depend. That is where I wish to start.

            If, however, you do not have time to delve into the basics of global surface temperature, I will not interpret that as showing your opinion is false. I will take it merely as evidence that you do not want to divert yourself from your primary educational concerns.

            • Hi Harlan, thanks for approaching this rationally. Have you heard about the recent Berkely study funded by the Koch brothers, conducted by a former climate change skeptic, Richard Mueller?

              “CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

              “Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases”

              “How definite is the attribution to humans? The carbon dioxide curve gives a better match than anything else we’ve tried. Its magnitude is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect — extra warming from trapped heat radiation. These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism, but they raise the bar: to be considered seriously, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as carbon dioxide does.”

              “The careful analysis by our team is laid out in five scientific papers now online at BerkeleyEarth.org. That site also shows our chart of temperature from 1753 to the present, with its clear fingerprint of volcanoes and carbon dioxide, but containing no component that matches solar activity. Four of our papers have undergone extensive scrutiny by the scientific community, and the newest, a paper with the analysis of the human component, is now posted, along with the data and computer programs used. Such transparency is the heart of the scientific method; if you find our conclusions implausible, tell us of any errors of data or analysis.

              What about the future? As carbon dioxide emissions increase, the temperature should continue to rise. I expect the rate of warming to proceed at a steady pace, about one and a half degrees over land in the next 50 years, less if the oceans are included. But if China continues its rapid economic growth (it has averaged 10 percent per year over the last 20 years) and its vast use of coal (it typically adds one new gigawatt per month), then that same warming could take place in less than 20 years.

              Science is that narrow realm of knowledge that, in principle, is universally accepted. I embarked on this analysis to answer questions that, to my mind, had not been answered. I hope that the Berkeley Earth analysis will help settle the scientific debate regarding global warming and its human causes.”

              http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

              http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/07/28/602151/bombshell-koch-funded-study-finds-global-warming-is-real-on-the-high-end-and-essentially-all-due-to-carbon-pollution/?mobile=nc

              • Thank you Crawfish for the links. It will take me a while to assimilate these studies. I like the way he talks about these matters.

                • no problem. I thought you might. He invites critiques of his results and at least one of those links included the warming to man-made carbon dioxide graph. I don’t think it’s possible with out current technology and understanding to reverse the process, maybe slow it down a bit. It would be best to prepare and try to mitigate the impacts. It’s probably true that we would have to cut our emissions more than some of the current chief polluters (China and India will probably eclipse us if they haven’t already) but we all live on the same planet and will suffer the same impacts so from a pragmatic standpoint I don’t think it makes sense to hold out for something everyone agrees is “fair” that will probably never happen, certainly not in time to do anything about altering the course we are on.

  26. Nice try Harlan, but I see your eyes darting around as you try to appear smarter than you actually are. The slip in your second to the last paragraph, “We all what that,” points out to me that you’re lying to cloak your true intentions, so take your “E” and stick it!

    • Don’t we all want every kid to succeed? I do, at least, but I know from experience, that kids learn at different rates and end up with different successes. We want to save them all, but many have been so egregiously misparented that it just won’t happen. It may be that charters and vouchers could serve some of those kids better than they are served now, or at least no worse. I think the public school establishment and the reformers are driven by the same idealism and desires, but demonize each other as either the plutocratic devils of greed and suppression or the communist devils of statism and tyranny. The poor working teacher is caught between the loudest preachers and sees each side sacrificing kids for power. It takes responsible parents and good teachers in good schools to deliver an education. Debt and corruption prevents the public schools from doing their jobs properly, and profit and corruption may sap the charter and voucher effectiveness as well. Green Dot in Los Angeles certainly talks a good game. Is it utterly IMPOSSIBLE for a charter in Louisiana to do a good job?

      • A charter is more than capable of doing an adequate job. They may even be able to help some kids better than kids in a pure public environment. However there are some caveats to this.

        Charters are often funded in a way that take mney away from public schools systems rather than getting their own pot of money.

        Charters are being touted as “the Answer” but they usually do not take the same kids a public schools must take (kids with disabilities, limited english, discipline problems, emotionally disturbed, homeless, abused and neglected, kids without parental involvement, etc.

        Charters do not have to follow the same rules/policies as public schools, some of the policies are destructive which creates uneven playing field

        Some charters are funded by private donors and the funding far exceeds, sometimes by multiples of magnitude, the resources public schools can provide

        Charter and voucher performance is often masked by DOEs making comparisons difficult to impossible

        Many charter schools and voucher schools do much, much worse from the meager stats we do get from them. When those come out the info stops.

        I could probably go on for another 10 or so reasons, however the other side of the coin is, why are we dedicating so much time, money, resources and spotlights on charter schools and neglecting our public system? We could improve the public system and achieve the same or better results in most cases, but what is happening is charters and vouchers are being touted as “the answer” and we are neglecting and underfunding and overregulating public schools to death. . . literally.

  27. I read your thoughtful post, looked in the mirror, looked at my tweets, looked at all the blogs, comments, new posts, new books, etc. etc. I share your concerns about the Confederacy of Reform. However, I am equally concerned about the “Union Army of Reform” As you say we are all looking at our swatch of the quilt because some of us are profiting from our disdain for the Confederacy. We write blogs, tweets, books, stat other organizations all under the good name of anti-reformers. But many of us are profiting by not coming together to actually solve the problem. In the Civil Rights era, we called these people “Poverty Pimps? Dare I believe that there are anti-reform pimps? Do we need one more organization or one mre separate and disconnected blog to assuage our ego? Do we not have enough well established organizations to collect your dots, my dots, their blogs, their tweets and all support the several organizations to promote our agenda? One pot of money divided into two or three is much more effective than one pot, albeit not corporate money, and not as much, divided into all of the Union Reformers’ pockets. Do we really want to solve the problems of unequal education, or would we too be out of the spotlight, and perhaps even jobs? I, like you, am having a terrible time keeping up with the “Union Reformers”, let alone the Confederacy. .Back when the earth was cool, one lawsuit changed IQ testing forever. There were many amicus briefs, but we were of one accord and knew that every one could not become famous for opposing intelligence testing, but we could all join in the cure. Probably only a few seasoned educators and a few authors who are still trying to justify the scores, even remember that we once tested for intelligence. The results of intelligence testing was the same results we now oppose in standardized testing, apartheid scores. Will a few strong organizations with money and a staff step forward, let others become involved, check your egos at the door and let’s solve the education problem, There is a way if we have the will

  28. One of the BIGGEST pieces of this puzzle is the parents of the children I teach. There are so many deadbeat, neglectful parents that don’t teach their children manners, much less respect for a good education.

    • And one of the biggest challenges is not holding that against the kids, but trying to reach them despite this. We probably can’t fix the parents, but we can fix the kids and prevent the cycle from continuing.

  29. David says:

    Teachers’ unions contribute much more money to politicians’ campaigns than private companies or anyone associated with charter schools. You can see for yourself at opensecrets.org. There are also many empirical studies cited here, which show higher performance among students receiving vouchers: http://www.edchoice.org/Research/Gold-Standard-Studies.aspx To claim that there is no evidence and no studies that support education choice is just as incorrect as the claim that politicians receive a disproportionate amount of money from pro-reform groups. In fact, the opposite is true.

    • I hate to be the one to break this to you David, but DOE’s routinely provide data to researchers that will write nice things about them, and deny this data to everyone else. I have a neat copy of a MOU cradted by Louisiana to CREDO that requires CREDO share the data with LDE first, and LDE can refuse to allow it to be released or cancel the agreement at any time for any reason. I got this as evidence from a lawsuit I volunteered to be a witness in, on behalf of another researcher trying for years to investigate some of the bogus claims being made. I can call them bogus because I was in charge of most of Louisiana student data and test data and I saw it. I could not take it with me, but i can take my knowledge.

      Most of Louisiana’s “voucher” scores in New Orleans were actually lower than the lowest schools in the worst district in one of the worst states.

      Since then we don’t see much in the way of data, but they do fight testing voucher students, and LDE even floated the idea of giving the test they give to Disabled Special Education students to voucher students. I recevied confirmation of this from folks in the test/accountability area that left and state school board members.
      https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/louisiana-managing-expectations-and-manipulating-the-public-for-example-t-isnt-for-terrible-schools-its-for-turnaround-schools/

      The money that flows to School board races in now in the hundreds of thousands and millions from billionares, testing companies, voucher and charter supporters, astroturf front organizations. . . etc and dwarfs what those who oppose these efforts by multiples of 15, 20 or even more can raise.

      https://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/834/

    • TeacherGirl says:

      You obviously slept through our last BESE election!

  30. bucktownpirate says:

    Reblogged this on The Daily Kingfish and commented:
    Putting the puzzel pieces together on #EdReform

  31. Christian De Prins says:

    As soon as we found out that charter schools and other educational entities, receiving voucher moneys, didn’t have to be accountable and didn’t have the same oversight as the public school system, we knew for sure that “deformers” traded their souls in to the devil for $$$.

  32. Matt says:

    I’m pretty sure I just read “you have faith in science, so it’s faith” somewhere above. I could be wrong though.

    I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who uses “socialism” and “communism” as perjorative terms.

  33. Vicky wells says:

    I don’t believe crazy crawfish has been in a classroom since he was a student in school.. Reforming schools is not as easy as engaging parents, more guidance counselors, and more books in libraries. Public education has failed us for over forty years, spending billions of dollars, and only getting worse. I am all for vouchers for my children. Either vouchers, or get the federal government out of the equation and send those billions of dollars that it takes to run the ED to the states and let’s see what they can do with more funding. Something has to be done. Read my book and get an idea of what is going on in public education systems all over the nation. You’ll see why so many people are pushing for a choice. By the way, I am a Christian conservative who wants all children to have an equal opportunity to learn. What’s the difference in giving student’s a choice to attend a religious school or any other school for that matter and the US sending 2.5 billion dollars to the Muslim Brotherhood? “Yes, We Are Stupid in America!”.

    • Not exactly true. My wife is/was a teacher, she is the PTA president of the public school we send our children to. For the past 10 years I have volunteered with children from broken homes as a mentor to make sure they are on the right track academically and in life. I’m so glad you felt comfortable to pimp your book here, and do not doubt you have plenty of material to fill your pages. You are critical of my quick comment about some things we could do or shouldn’t do and made the mistake of claiming on my behalf I was an expert in education, and that mine was an exhaustive list. Neither is true. Nor is the answer sending kids to fundamentalist Christian voucher programs. I have no doubt based on your random off topic bigot inspired critique of the Muslim Brotherhood that you do not believe public funds should be spent on Islamic voucher schools, or Buddhist, Wiccan, Shinto, Unitarian, but maybe Jewish would be okay for Your United States of America? You are definitely part of the problem, not the solution. I don’t need to visit a classroom to be a credible authority on that assessment. My previous public schooling more than adequately prepared me to see you for what you are and to identify the poisonous snake oil you are peddaling.

      • Vicky wells says:

        I am sorry to have upset you so easily. Why are you so defensive? I am just trying to make a point that we all need a choice, including Muslims or any other religious or non-religious entity. And yes I am “pimping” my book here, but not for the profit. In fact, I never expected to make any money. I just have a message to share. Many people don’t realize the real problems with public education, particularly in rural areas.

        • LOL. Not defensive, personally. I am not opposed to vouchers as a part of the solution, but believe there should be accountability and standards and the curricula should not redefine history and science in terms they feel more comfortable with. If public money is being spent, there should be public input and accountability. They should not be funded in a way that starve public schools, as is being done, and they should not be able to selectively enroll or unenroll students. They should not be touted as the sole solution. I have no problem with Islamic schools, but would have a problem if they used public funds to teach the Holocaust did not occur, or is wildly exaggerated. Private schools can be a great a great complement to a public system, but should not be the only “choice” or touted as the best choice for all children or allow us to feel free abandoning public education. Those things do rile me up, yes. I will make no apologies for that. I only wish more people were as defensive of their rights, and freedoms as I. My goal is to get more people engaged so they will be. Public schools are on the defense, assaulted from all sides. Its time to counterattack and I am happy to help define and scout the enemy and lay out the plans.

          • Vicky wells says:

            The truth is, I appreciate your standing up for public education, as I was a teacher, counselor and principal in a public system. I absolutely loved my job. I just believe that if something is not working, we are obligated to try something different. And, our present education system is not working very well. I am just sorry you feel that I am the enemy. I just want my rural kids to have the same opportunities as others. They are ALL my kids!

            • Good. :) Help me save our public schools for all our children. What would you suggest? FYI, closing them is not an acceptable answer.

            • Fyi. I am working on story of rural education gone awry. Kind of a scandal being ignored by our ed department. You may be interested in that story once I get everyone’s permission to tell it. Hopefully this week.

            • Kevin S. Wilson says:

              That’s twice now that you have made the assertion that the public school system is a failure. In fact, one such claim even specifies the duration of such failure: “Public education has failed us for over forty years, spending billions of dollars, and only getting worse.”

              Nowhere do you even hint at the reasons why you believe this statement to be true, and nowhere do you provide evidence in support of it, leading me to ask “Why do you believe that public education is a failure?” and “Upon what evidence do you base this belief?”

              Much depends on your answers to these questions–your credibility, for instance. You claim that “we are obligated to try something different,” but have not adequately defined the problem to even begin to define the difference your approach would provide. You’ve been vague on the details, but claim to have solutions, yet you haven’t yet proved that a problem exists or–if one exists–what its causes might be.

              Please proceed. I’m all ears.

              • Vicky wells says:

                It’s all in my book. It’s too extensive to try to cover in this blog. Read it and then get back with me. You don’t even have to purchase it. You can probably get all the info you need in the first chapter, which you can preview on B&N.

                • If I can find it and it has plenty of pictures to capture my attention I’ll check it out. :) How is it that private schools can offer these programs for the same amount of money, the cost of a voucher? Are your public schools really short of students and funding?

    • Ang says:

      Hi Vicky,
      “What’s the difference in giving student’s a choice to attend a religious school”

      So, I guess you are OK with your tax money going to the Wiccan Academy for LGBT youth, or how about the Westboro Baptist Academy for future military funeral protesters?

      I am not OK with it.

      I have no problem with a kid having the choice to go to a religious school, but I don’t want to pay for it.

      • Vicky wells says:

        What I prefer is for us to fix our public education system. Vouchers should be made available to those who don’t have access to a proper education, as I said before, particularly in rural areas, which make up 35-40% of our nation’s public schools. I realize that big cities like Chicago and NYC have problems, but somewhat different than what rural areas experience. It just doesn’t seem fair that all of our kids in America don’t have the same opportunities. Our kids have no fine arts studies, very, very limited AP classes, Spanish as the only foreign language course, no ROTC, etc. Oh, but we have Ag and Home Economics. If you don’t live in small-town rural America, you can’t imagine your child being limited to the very basics. Our kids in Georgia are not even allowed to attend larger school systems 15 miles down the road unless they are legal residents of that county. And, that 15 miles can make a difference in which college a student can get into, or whether or not he/she ca get into any college.
        Maybe, the vouchers could be for public schools only. I don’t have a problem with that. I just want a choice.

        • I definitely understand that logic and concern. Do you see the assault on Public Schools or believe more tests, closing down schools and bussing kids across city to cramped classrooms, and driving off experienced teachers in favor of uncertified temps is the solution you’ve been waiting for?

          • Vicky wells says:

            No, I do not see that as the answer. I don’t know what the answer is. But, we could start by getting the Feds out of the picture. Give the funding and the rights to make decisions about education to the States. No one in DC can truly understand what our kids in Georgia need, or for that matter, Chicago or NYC. It costs approx 47 BILLION to run the ED. We could certainly use those funds to reduce class sizes, decrease teacher furlough days, and provide more professional learning opportunities for teachers. In fact, maybe our students could enjoy field trips once again or afford after-school learning activities.
            By the way, I am totally against Georgia’s TAPP (teachers alternative preparation program). I don’t know much about the busing issue except that we have kids who are forced to travel 45 miles a day on a non-ac bus in 100 plus temps when there is a school in the adjoining county about 3 miles away.

            • I agree. Those distance/neighboring districts are some issues I wish DOEs and LEAs would work on together. Fyi, we haveva similiar situation in Claiborne parish with a town (called junction city I think) that shares schools in Arkansas. They worked out a method to resolve the funding issue and that is two different districts in two different states. You might contact their business manager and see what they have done if you are curious.

              10 years ago – pre every child left behind and race to the bottom; I would have disagreed with you. DOE is too corrupt, too political and too powerful. I don’t see it ever getting better.

              Reformers like Bloomberg don’t think class size, art and music enrichment matters, but that is total BS. They don’t send their own kids to public schools with 50 kids in a class and zero enrichment classes or opportunities.

  34. AverBlue says:

    I don’t claim to understand “politics” very well, but I do try. In a future post about education, I’d like to hear what you think about corporations making record profits and avoiding most or all of their state and local tax obligations, while schools are going broke. A “connect-the-dots” kind of post on this topic would really help me put it all in perspective. And Crazy….nicely done post.

  35. Julie says:

    Love the structure of this blog and agree so much that people are holding pieces of the puzzle and seem to have little interest in putting them all together. I don’t think that they all or even most of them have bad intentions to destroy public education but maybe I’m naive. Anyhow I’ve worked for over a decade to put the pieces together and happy with the general picture that is emerging — and I’ve gone public with a three week old blog. Hope you’ll check it out and let us know what you think of it. (Also a Louisiana native so love the spicy references)

    • Thanks. Not naive, but maybe not informed. Its not your fault, most people not intimately involved with these issues, and groups pushing these changes, are not aware of what’s going on. You may change your mind if you investigate a little on your own. It is easier to believe what most people are telling you, especially when they appear to be people in and of authority, but its an elaborate scam.

      FYI, your link to your site does not work. Good luck with your blog!

      • Julie says:

        Not sure why you assume I’m so much less informed than you. Pity. At first blush I thought you really wanted dialogue. Guess not.

        • I didn’t assume anything of the sort. I was trying to explain you may not be naive but merely uninformed. I have no idea what you know or don’t know, all you gave me was a self-deprecating comment about being naive – without clarification.

          I did notice your blog link did not work. You might want to fix that or post your actual thoughts next time if you desire a dialogue.

          Just a thought.

        • You may also be a TFA teacher or someone profiting from the Reform movement I suppose. That would not make you opinions “wrong” from your own perspective, it may be a net positive for you personally,but I would not see that as a positive to students, parents or experienced teachers. Why don’t you introduce yourself and explain what you see that you like going on in education? I think many of the ideas are fine, but their implementation is destructive and disruptive, not constructive as they easily could be with tweaking Reformers fight tooth and nail to prevent, which to me reveals their true intentions.

  36. In public education, reality is the great teacher. The lessons taught are above, and immune from, the political fray. Faulty politicians avoid the main issue the same way public schools do.

    The issue is information flow. Amazing tools of information distribution have transformed our society, distributing knowledge and power, and challenging our existing hierarchies.

    It is a shame so many bright adults resist this transformation and refuse to go with the flow. One example of leader who is embracing this lesson is http://georgecouros.ca/blog.

  37. Pingback: A Confederacy of Reformers | Crazy Crawfish’s Blog | Culture Foam: Bubbling Up

  38. CCF; I don’t want to upset you, but I feel that teachers today are indentured servants of the govt. I feel that were they to apply their skills in a free-market system, not only would they benefit, but so would the students. We have become a nation of dummies, and I believe that is intentional. Example: Have you ever read any of George Washington’s letters? Do you know how far he got in school?

    • You feel teachers have false teeth? Interesting to make that comparison and a George Washington reference . . . :)

      You won’t upset me, but I think you may be missing some of the point. I’m pretty sure teachers did not enter the teaching profession for “the money.” I don’t think they really want free market principles applied to teaching, students, or teachers as it is destructive. From what I’ve seen, I agree with them.

      Moreover, most private schools pay their teachers much less, and often treat them like crap, and there are no protections for them. Privatizing teaching won’t help students, teachers, or improve learning. The only people who will get rich are the billionaires and random cult leaders who found and run these schools, certainly not teachers, and definitely not the students they churn out.

      • Well, aren’t you the lil funny bunny. (I hope you’ll hop your ass into church tomorrow!)

        CCF, everyone enters into a profession for the money. Why the hello else would we work?

        As far as the private schools, the teachers I knew were very happy. Currently, my son is at a charter school and the teachers are on a year-to-year contract. I like this as it keeps it competitive. I’ve known too many teachers who are tenured, and they suck! The rationale of keeping someone who is horrible is as dumb as hiring someone who has the paperwork sans the passion. Tu compris, chere?

        • I never said private school teachers were unhappy. I’ve known a few in my time, and while often they are happy about many things, often they become unhappy and leave when they are mistreated, overlooked for promotions because the don’t “fit the mold” the private school is trying to project, fired for personality reasons or lifestyle issues, and I’ve not come across any that make more money than they could in the public sector. I was countering your argument that privatization = riches beyond compare for teachers. Maybe for operators, but not for teachers. I’ve had people propose openning a school to make a quick buck and to prove how easy it is to do and teach children nothing. While that does appeal to my baser side, I still have a soul. Maybe a vampire version of myself would do that though. . . so if you see me openning a school I’ve probably been hanging around Anne Rice too much. . .

          Most happy people don’t go into professions just for the money. Why do you want to cook, when you could make “money” as a garbage woman? I bet you’d prefer to make money as a singer, muscician, but those opportunities aren’t easy to come by. . .

          People are happiest when they are doing things they enjoy, that they are good at and can treat money as a secondary consideration. Sometimes (for most people all the time) doing things they “believe in” or that they believe makes the world a better place is better than making lots of money. Had i to do it all over again, I probably would have gone into creative writing or teaching rather than accounting/business, where i felt “the money” was.

          If i was doing something I enjoyed more, it would be less like work.

          Have you asked the teachers at your charter school if they like that arrangement? I’ve had plenty of teachers that had the basic protections tenure provides that were awesome. However what i see happening to teachers is a lot of senseless crap that saps their will teach, and from what I’ve heard of Common Core, this mandate makes it impossible to teach, only to have kids memorize stuff and conform to an inflexible, sterile, lesson plan.

          • Crazy, I am one of those babyboomers who did enter into teaching to perform a public service and help what would be called high needs students. I did not need Teach for America to tell me what to do. I thought I could make a difference, but soon realized the odds stacked against many of these children. I worked in South Jamaica in the borough of Queens in New York City. When i started teaching, this was one of the most poverty stricken areas of the city. These children were surrounded by drugs, hunger and neglect. Here were students who hand single parents who were stuck in an endless cycle of welfare and poverty. Most were overwhelmed and gave up. Three of my original students would eventually be killed by drug and gun violence. Another student would shoot a cop. However, I know that I may have contributed to two escaping. one would become a supervisor in the transit authority and another became a registered nurse (male). I remember one student, Tommy, who came to school starving everyday. I would bring him food and snacks so he could make it through the day. Another student, Lyndell, would be molested by his aunt and ended up with venereal disease at the age of 13. i want Michelle Rhee tell me how their magic curriculum and magic TFA instructors would have been able to have gotten such students college ready! I think the term vampire does describe these people. Their plan is to suck dry public education for their own personal lust of profit. i dare any of them to demonize my motives for staying as a special education teacher for 35 years. I am the only one in my school that really understand compliance issues surrounding special education students. I am the informal special education coordinator in my school because Bloomberg disposed of all special education supervisors leaving most young special education teachers rudderless. Therefore, I advise my principal daily on all special education issues and try to help our neophyte teachers. I try to maintain compliance, sit on IEP teams for initial cases, coordinate testing as well as analyze data. This is in addition to instructing mandated students who need special education teacher support. My day never ends. I work way into the night because I work per-session as well as tutor to try to make ends meet. I am working seven days a week because I have to put my own child through college. I do not mind the work, but I am near 60 years old and getting tired. I am tired of the special education conflicts in my school and the daily brush fires I have to put out. I am finally listening to my wife and at the end of next year, i am going to throw in the towel and retire. But i am not going to sit back on my laurels. I will write, talk to parents, and remain politically active for one single purpose. I will do whatever I can to expose these reformers as the frauds they are. I hope I can make a difference.

  39. Pingback: School Privatization 101 | Live Long and Prosper

  40. Pingback: Are charter schools being milked by the Louisiana Department of Education? | Crazy Crawfish's Blog

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  42. It’s good to see some questioning of the horrible market-led developments in the world of education. I’ve been doing my bit to track these developments and to illustrate what they look like ‘on the ground’. I’m based in England. Please look at my blog http://jennycollinsteacher.wordpress.com/ or email me at jenny.collins.teacher@gmail.com Keep up the good work!

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