Please help Shannon Puckett produce her documentary “Defies Measurement” on the devastation wrought by the Corporate Reform Movement

Please help Shannon Puckett produce her documentary “Defies Measurement” on the devastation wrought by the Corporate Reform Movement

I got an interesting e-mail today from Shannon Puckett, a former middle school teacher in California seeking to produce a film about the horrors and truth behind all the hype of the corporately sponsored Education Reform Movement.

Shannon was a teacher for 7 years at Chipman middle school in California. I was going to explain how Shannon decided to make this film, Defies Measurement, but I don’t think I could do it better than she has. . .

As a middle school teacher of seven years, I witnessed the damaging effects of high-stakes testing on my students and the quality of education they were receiving. In the beginning of my teaching career, I was proud to teach in a school where teachers were encouraged to grow as educators and students were inspired to be life-long learners through empirical learning, hands-on learning projects, being there experiences, community building activities, and brain compatible curriculum . We (Chipman Middle School) were a model school for our dedication to the social, emotional and intellectual growth of our students and were visited frequently by educators from around the world. But, our test scores were low. As test scores do, they matched the socioeconomic status of our students and for that, the state threatened to take over the school if we didn’t raise our scores in the following year. We were under tight surveillance and state representatives came through our school weekly. The mood of the school quickly changed from a creative, dynamic workplace inspiring life-long learners to a test-taking factory. Teachers were trained in test taking strategies and money was put toward test prep materials. Community building activities, “being there experiences”, “extra curricular activities” and subjects were all cut back to make room for learning test-taking strategies. The following year, our test scores went up, some teachers received $5,000, but our students graduated knowing less than the previous class and they missed out on quality, meaningful units of study.

It was at that point that No Child Left Behind was introduced and I left teaching.

This was over ten years ago.

Since then, the teachers and staff of Chipman struggled to preserve the culture we had worked so hard to create. But, as the years passed and the stakes grew higher and higher, teachers left, the school was closed and a charter reopened in its place. The story of Chipman Middle School and its demise is a typical story of what is happening to public schools across the country. The story about the people and organizations who are behind the demise of the public schools is a shocking one and it needs to be told.

Please visit Shannon’s Kickstart page and consider making a donation to get her started producing a film that can act as an honest and authentic counterpoint to Reform pimp pieces such as NBC’s Education Nation, Waiting for Superman, and Won’t Stand Down. Many of you have asked if you can donate to me and my work, but until I start my own non-profit foundation or either run for political office or endorse a candidate in the next election, this is easily one of the best ways you can help me and our cause out. Based on what Shannon has produced so far, I think this could be quite a remarkable and genuine refutation of everything that is exactly wrong with the direction of public education in the United States today. But don’t take my words for it, here are some more of Shannon’s. . .


The American public school system hangs in the balance. High-stakes testing has tipped the scales toward a culture of learning that favors standardization over inspiration. Schools are being closed, teachers are being fired, and curriculum is being stripped of depth and mastery of content. Meanwhile, students are denied a culture of learning that is needed for their social, emotional and intellectual growth. 

Shannon has already raised well over 4000 dollars of the 25,000 she has estimated it will cost to produce this film. Currently she has 28 more days to reach her goal and activate the donations. To reach her goal she will need about 750 dollars every day until her deadline. If you are interested in her work, consider helping her out, or consider forwarding this link to your Facebook or Twitter friends and family. J

We can fight the millions of dollars with mere thousands because we have the truth on our side. We don’t need to buy politicians; we just need to share our message.

This is Shannon’s message:

This is Shannon’s Kickstarter page where you can find much of this information and make a donation:

If you can help her share our message by helping her produce Defies Measurement please check out her Kickstarter page and forward onto your wealthy generous friends with a glowing recommendation about how much you love this idea. J

Defies Measurement will expose the limitations of high-stakes testing and its damaging effects on our children, teachers, schools and society. It will inform parents, educators, politicians and the voting public how the high-stakes testing culture is effecting our public schools and interfering with the real work that needs to be done in classrooms. The story of the school where I began my teaching career will serve as the thread that weaves through the film and ties the larger issues together. Through interviews with former students, teachers and parents, we will learn how Chipman Middle School and its focus on brain compatible education changed the lives of the students, teachers and community. We will also see how Chipman has changed since the introduction of No Child Left Behind. Because the story of Chipman is similar to so many other stories of schools throughout the U.S., we will also hear from educators, politicians and experts in the fields of psychology, education, economics, mathematics, public policy, cognitive development and neuroscience, who will shed light on how high-stakes testing and its ripple effect is destroying our public schools.

Defies Measurement will explore:

  • the sacrifices being made in schools across the county as a result of high-stakes testing.
  • the Corporate Reform agenda and how it is effecting our public schools.
  • how individuals, organizations and companies are capitalizing on the privatization of public schools and test-based assessments.
  • the relationship between poverty and student performance.
  • the role of testing in other countries and what’s being done in the US to address the issue.

As an added bonus, I’ve even agreed to a cameo appearance if Shannon gets the funding and determines she needs it. She’s also mentioned a portion of this film will be dedicated to what’s going on (and what’s not) in New Orleans. Who knows, we might even be able to work in a crawfish in the credits if we get enough Louisiana donations. J

John Merrow Responds, and So Do I

A very intriguing and entertaining exchange between our national education reporter John Merrier and our own Mercedes Schneider about RSD and Michelle Rhee.

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

UPDATE 09-14-13:  Though my response to Merrow is harsh, if he would reconsider his position, even now I would welcome it. My overall goal is not to be right but to bring relief to my corporate-reform-abused hometown. To this end, I have issued Mr. Merrow an invitation at the end of this post.


Yesterday, I wrote a post about John Merrow’s decisions to both discontinue his reporting on Michelle Rhee, a damaging reformer whom his media attention helped create, and his creating a documentary in which he declares New Orleans schools a success. I showed that since 2004, Merrow has accepted approximately one million dollars from well-established education reform promoter Bill Gates. Below is Merrow’s response to me this morning and my counter-response.

Merrow responded to my reblogging this entry to @thechalkface.

I accept your invitation to respond. I don’t believe I have ever read the Gates guidelines…

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Herb Bassett: Why Louisiana’s Teacher Evaluation Is Invalid

More evidence that our teacher evaluation systems are ridiculous and our leaders profess success regardless of the actual underlying data.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Herb Bassett is a teacher in Louisiana. He teaches music, but like Jersey Jazzman, has the ability to understand statistics and how they work in real classrooms.

This is a letter that he wrote about Louisiana’s new teacher evaluation system, which is as incoherent as teacher evaluation systems in other states:


State Superintendent John White showed his true colors when he recently praised four FirstLine charter schools that “fell in the top 10 percent of Louisiana schools in terms of improving test scores, yet ranked fewer than 10 percent of their teachers highly effective.
‘Amazing results,’ he wrote.”
He did not mention that one of the four schools, while ranked in the 99th percentile of improvement, declared 68 percent of its teachers Ineffective. Most of its teachers are now on a fast track to dismissal.
In each of the other three schools, at least 69 percent…

View original post 311 more words