Educate All Students, Support Public Education

December 30, 2010

More on “Waiting for Superman”

Filed under: Right Wing Agenda,Waiting for Superman — millerlf @ 7:35 pm

Waiting For SuperFraud

by teacherken

Thu Dec 30, 2010

Yep, that title is a play on that of the infamous and intellectually dishonest film “Waiting for Superman” by Davis Guggenheim.

I wish I could take credit for it.

I can’t.  It was coined by Michael T. Martin, an analyst for the Arizona School Board Association, whom I know from a number of educational lists, and who is known to lurk here – he periodically emails me directly with responses to things I have posted here.

Someone had posted on another, not particularly highly visible, website the contents of something Michael had put out under this title.

So I asked him about my crossposting it here.  His response was short and to the point:  Have at it.

So below the fold you will read his entire composition, and perhaps a few additional thoughts of my own, which since I am posting this diary seems appropriate.

Waiting For SuperFraud
By Michael T. Martin

Public schools have to fail. There is no alternative. So give up trying to argue otherwise with facts and logic.

The mockumentary Waiting For Superman made this clear. Funded by millionaires, the movie told the story of some privatized schools in Harlem portrayed as saviors of children otherwise condemned to public schools. Privatized schools mostly funded by hedge fund millionaires on Wall Street. They spent two million dollars to promote the film nationally. Another major film titled “The Lottery” told a similar tale: children in Harlem desperate to escape public schools. Funded by more millionaires.



Filed under: Right Wing Agenda,Tea Party — millerlf @ 6:01 pm

Get on the Bus
Scott Walker Already Killed 13,000 Good Jobs for
Wisconsin Families—Before He Even Started
Join Your Neighbors and Community Leaders
at His Inauguration January 3 to
Tell Him We Need Good Jobs Now
Scott Walker has pushed the people of Wisconsin off an economic cliff by rejecting federal
money to build high-speed rail. Now we’re going to tell him the people of Milwaukee
expect better.
What: Join your neighbors and community leaders on the bus to Madison for
Scott Walker’s inauguration.
When: Monday, January 3, 2011. Leave for Madison at 6:30 a.m. and come back
to Milwaukee by 4 p.m.
Where: Large parking lot across from Talgo—
N. 27th Street. and Townsend Avenue.
Details: Lunch will be provided and the trip is free.
To RSVP for the trip, call 414-207-8165.

Los Angeles Has Most Charter Schools But New Orleans And D.C. Have Highest Percent of Students

Filed under: Charter Schools — millerlf @ 2:25 pm

L.A. Unified leads nation by far in number of charter school students

December 30, 2010 LA Times

The Los Angeles Unified School District continues to have more charter school students than any school system in the country, according to the latest data released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

L.A. Unified, with about 68,500 students in charter schools last year, was well ahead of the No. 2 district, the Detroit Public Schools, which has about 50,000 students in charters. Overall, about 10% of L.A. Unified students attend charters.

Charters are free, publicly funded schools operated by nonprofits and private companies. They continue to grow in number and are a key element in the school-reform strategy of President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, as they were in the previous administration of George W. Bush.  Charter schools are typically free from many regulations that govern traditional schools; most in California are nonunion.

Overall, charters enroll about 3.2% of U.S. public school students, with wide variations from state to state, said Deborah Veney Robinson, a spokesperson for the alliance, based in Washington.

The school systems with the highest percentage of students in charter schools are the New Orleans Public School System at 61% and the District of Columbia Public Schools at 38%.

The charter surge in New Orleans was spurred in large measure by Hurricane Katrina, which put the school district virtually out of business for a time, opening the door to radical changes. Aggressive reforms in the District of Columbia, including the promotion of charter schools, were pursued by Chancellor Michelle Rhee. She resigned this fall after her most crucial political patron, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost his reelection bid.

As in nearly all places, charter school enrollment in Los Angeles, Detroit, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. increased over the prior year. In Los Angeles, the rise occurred even as overall enrollment has declined.

Ten states do not allow charter schools, Robinson said.

California has 941 charter schools, more than 17% of the national total, according to data from the Center for Education Reform, a pro-charter organization which also is based in Washington.

Virginia Social Studies Textbook Askew

Filed under: Racism,Right Wing Agenda,Textbooks — millerlf @ 2:17 pm

Error-filled textbooks prompt Va. to call for revamped approval process

By Kevin Sieff Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reports of extensive errors in Virginia social studies textbooks prompted state education officials on Wednesday to propose revamping the approval process to prevent the issuing of flawed textbooks. Fairfax County officials also said they may discontinue using one of the books.

The new state procedures would require that publishers hire context experts and provide extensive new documentation for claims in their textbooks. Education Department staff also would do more-detailed reviews before passing the books to the small groups of classroom teachers who traditionally have reviewed them, according to a statement from Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright.

“Virginia students deserve textbooks that reflect the quality of the commonwealth’s nationally recognized history and social science standards, and as the errors found by the reviewers clearly show, the review process must be improved,” Wright said.

Proposed changes would require the Virginia Board of Education’s approval.

The Education Department began increasing its scrutiny of textbooks after The Washington Post reported in October that one provided to fourth-graders, “Our Virginia: Past and Present,” included a controversial claim that thousands of African American soldiers fought for the South during the Civil War. The claim is often made by Confederate heritage groups but rejected by most historians. That book’s author, Joy Masoff, has since apologized for that problem, as has the publisher, Five Ponds Press of Weston, Conn.


December 29, 2010

Joe Klein Exit Interview: Gives Self High Ratings

Filed under: Mayoral Control — millerlf @ 3:40 pm

Klein, like many “leaders” in education, thinks democracy is over-rated. He knows better than parents what is good for their kids. He now works for Rupert Murdock.

Departing Schools Chief: ‘We Weren’t Bold Enough’

By JAVIER C. HERNANDEZ Published: December 24, 2010

JOEL I. KLEIN invited me to breakfast last year at an Upper East Side haunt, one of those places where a bowl of yogurt goes for $23 and waiters circle the room sweeping up crumbs like pigeons at a feast.

was covering the New York City school system at the time and thought maybe Mr. Klein, the chancellor since 2002, planned to resign and was giving a little notice. We had come to know each other via e-mail, bantering about the news media’s coverage of education, his refusal to join Twitter (“I truly do have a day job,” he said) and which A-through-F grade he would give the latest production of “Tosca” at the Metropolitan Opera.

But when I asked Mr. Klein about his future on that summer morning, he said he was enjoying the job too much to leave. Instead, he wanted to talk about the city’s rising test scores, about his belief that reporters had not done enough to highlight the success of charter schools and about another favorite topic: love.

“I couldn’t survive if I didn’t have someone to go home to when I got beat up,” he said.

Last month, Mr. Klein, 64, did announce his resignation. After more than eight years in the job, he is one of the city’s longest-serving chancellors; his last day is Friday. Mr. Klein is joining Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation as an executive vice president in charge of educational ventures.

Before leaving, Mr. Klein sat for an exit interview of sorts, after a visit to the Urban AssemblySchool for Applied Math and Science in the Bronx.

Some parents and teachers have derided Mr. Klein as a tyrant, a political opportunist and a tone-deaf bureaucrat. When I asked if he had neglected them, he seemed insulted. He pulled a stack of greeting cards from his briefcase: “Thank you for being my advocate,” wrote a third grader at a charter school in Harlem.


Ranking Teachers Riddled With Problems

Filed under: teacher evaluation — millerlf @ 3:18 pm

Hurdles Emerge in Rising Effort to Rate Teachers

By SHARON OTTERMAN Published: December 26, 2010 NYTimes

For the past three years, Katie Ward and Melanie McIver have worked as a team at Public School 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, teaching a fourth-grade class. But on the reports that rank the city’s teachers based on their students’ standardized test scores, Ms. Ward’s name is nowhere to be found.

Melanie McIver, a teacher at Public School 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with Elizabeth Phillips, background, the school principal. Both women have seen issues related to the city’s system of ranking teachers, which is at the heart of a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

“I feel as though I don’t exist,” she said last Monday, looking up from playing a vocabulary game with her students.

Down the hall, Deirdre Corcoran, a fifth-grade teacher, received a ranking for a year when she was out on child-care leave. In three other classrooms at this highly ranked school, fourth-grade teachers were ranked among the worst in the city at teaching math, even though their students’ average score on the state math exam was close to four, the highest score.

“If I thought they gave accurate information, I would take them more seriously,” the principal of P.S. 321, Elizabeth Phillips, said about the rankings. “But some of my best teachers have the absolute worst scores,” she said, adding that she had based her assessment of those teachers on “classroom observations, talking to the children and the number of parents begging me to put their kids in their classes.”

It is becoming common practice nationally to rank teachers for their effectiveness, or value added, a measure that is defined as how much a teacher contributes to student progress on standardized tests. The practice was strongly supported by President Obama’s education grant competition, Race to the Top, and large school districts, including those in Houston, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis and Washington, have begun to use a form of it.


December 19, 2010

What’s Wrong With “Right-To-Work” by Bob Peterson

Filed under: Uncategorized — millerlf @ 12:01 pm

Rights get lost in ‘right to work’

By Bob Peterson Dec. 18, 2010 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin desperately needs family-supporting jobs. Yet the Republicans are using their newfound majority to lose jobs, ask working people to do with less and attack organized labor.

Even though he has yet to take office, Governor-elect Scott Walker has managed to lose thousands of jobs by refusing $810 million in federal money for high-speed rail – including the loss of a major manufacturing firm.

And now Republican Rep. Robin Vos of Rochester is promoting misnamed right-to-work legislation. Such anti-democratic laws are nothing more than a cover for pro-corporate interests who know that weak unions and low wages can build ever-higher profits. Rather than build prosperity, they will undermine our state’s progressive tradition and quality of life.

This country has a long history with such anti-union laws. Most states with these measures are in the West or the South, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, and have lower wages and a poorer quality of life.

A better name for Vos’ proposal would be “race to the bottom.” Here’s why.

• So-called right-to-work states have lower wages.

Good wages and benefits are key to quality of life – both to support families and to provide a reliable tax base for education, infrastructure and public services. Yet the annual median income in right-to-work states is $6,185 less than in other states, according to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data.

What’s more, these anti-union states tend to have higher poverty rates, less access to health care and lower-performing schools. In the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s well-respected “Kids Count” survey, the three worst states for children are in right-to-work states and the three best all allow workers to form strong unions.

Would you rather have your child go to the University of Wisconsin or the University of Mississippi? Would you prefer to raise a family in Mississippi, where the 2009 child poverty rate was 31%, or in Wisconsin, where it was 16.7%?

• Strong unions build a strong middle class.

During the New Deal, federal laws not only permitted but encouraged collective bargaining. After World War II, such policies built a foundation for shared prosperity and a thriving middle class. With the rise of deregulation and attacks on unionization in recent decades, income inequality has skyrocketed as the rich have grown richer, the poor poorer, and the middle class has shrunk.

As The New York Times editorialized Dec. 14, “the drive for more jobs must coincide with efforts to preserve and improve the policies, programs and institutions that have fostered shared prosperity and broad opportunity – Social Security, Medicare, public schools, progressive taxation, unions, affirmative action, regulation of financial markets and enforcement of labor laws.”

• So-called right-to-work laws undermine workplace democracy and foster a freeloader mentality.

Right-to-work laws promote freeloading and are a backhanded way of de-funding unions. The union, by law, negotiates wages and benefits that all workers receive whether or not they are union members. The union, by law, represents workers in disputes that arise – whether or not they are a union member. Under current Wisconsin law, all represented employees share in the cost of union representation. Vos’ scheme would allow workers to escape paying their fair share while still receiving all benefits.

That’s not the way democracy works. Contributing to the common good is an essential component of democracy.

Imagine if Vos’ freeloader scheme existed throughout society. People could refuse to pay taxes and still receive a public education, drive on our freeways and receive police and fire protection.

As we dream of a better future for our children, we should heed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated during his campaign supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis.

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as right to work,” King warned. “It provides no rights and no works. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining. . . . We demand that this fraud be stopped.”

This country is in the grip of the worst recession since the 1930s – a recession sparked by Wall Street greed and deregulation. Instead of attacking such problems, Walker and Vos are blaming public- and private-sector unions for our economic woes.

It’s essential to say “no” to Vos’ fraud and demand the Republicans deliver on campaign promises to create jobs.

Bob Peterson is a member of the executive board of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, co-editor of the book “Transforming Teacher Unions” and a fifth-grade teacher at La Escuela Fratney.


December 18, 2010

MMAC Wages Class Warfare Against Milwaukee Families, Yet Claims To Be Our Childrens’ Savior.

Filed under: MMAC — millerlf @ 8:56 am

The MMAC wants to take the two-tier factory production model, adopted at Harley Davidson and elsewhere, and replicate it for Milwaukee’s urban students. By 2020 MMAC chief Tim Sheehy hopes to establish 50 “high-performing” schools serving 20,000 students – while the remaining 105,000 fend for themselves.

“Milwaukee must set higher standards for educational performance and back them up — for all 125,000 school-age children in the city. We need to urgently and aggressively develop a large number of high-performing schools. A significant starting point would be 20,000 seats in 50 high performing schools by 2020.

High-performing schools need to exist across the educational system, including Milwaukee Public Schools, charter schools and parent choice schools. And, they would all serve low-income, low-performing students and make significant gains in their educational attainment towards real-world standards of performance. Some would say this is a goal that reaches too few of the 125,000 school-age kids in the city. But in working towards the goal of 50 high performing schools, hundreds of other schools will also make performance improvements, thus serving a far greater number of children.”

In other words 16% of Milwaukee’s students will have access to successful schooling and the other 84% of students will receive the trickle-down effects of this strategy. This elitist policy might serve corporate Milwaukee’s need for professional and high-skilled labor, but it in no way is acceptable for the majority of Milwaukee’s youth and families.

This is the same MMAC that is blocking paid sick days. This is the same MMAC that stood silent as Scott Walker stopped fast-rail, leaving the Talgo Corporation to downsize on Milwaukee’s north-side, the most economically devastated community in Wisconsin.

The MMAC has been complicit in driving down the standard of living for working men and women in the region and state. They have been part of the anti-union climate that has increased profit and tax breaks for the rich while poverty increases and the middle class erodes.

The original MMAC Education Committee has become the MMAC Education Team with the addition of Howard Fuller representing the Institute for the Transformation of Learning. Howard Fuller formally joining the MMAC is an attempt to give educational credibility to this perverse proposal.

To see Tim Sheehy’s full statement on schooling in Milwaukee go to Milwaukee Commerce at:

MMAC Summer Commerce

To see the internal MMAC proposal on “Education Reform” go to:

MMAC Internal Education Document

Southside Voucher School Closed Following Whistleblow From MPS Team. Where is Bob Donavan’s Outrage?

Filed under: MMAC,Vouchers — millerlf @ 8:40 am

Wisconsin cuts off funding to Mills Christian Academy

Voucher school doesn’t have enough teachers, class time

By Becky Vevea of the Journal Sentinel Dec. 17, 2010

A voucher school on Milwaukee’s south side has been cut off from state funding after it was discovered there weren’t enough teachers and students weren’t attending school for an adequate amount of time.

The Department of Public Instruction issued an order against Mills Christian Academy, 815 W. National Ave., on Nov. 24, saying the school isn’t meeting the definition of a private school and therefore, will not receive any further voucher payments.

The school, which serves grades seven to 12, received only one voucher payment from the DPI this year of $59,587. The state is withholding the payments Mills Christian Academy would have received in November. Since entering the program in 2008, the school has received almost $2 million in state money.

The order says that the Milwaukee Public Schools Title 1 team made a routine visit to the school on a Friday in October about 1 p.m. to talk to the Title 1 teacher MPS pays for at Mills, but no students were at the school and the school was closed.

In early November, the schools accrediting organization AdvancED visited the school about 2:30 p.m. and found no instruction was taking place. Charlene Gearing, the Wisconsin director of AdvancED, told the DPI the English teacher was the only teacher in school that day because the science and math teachers had quit and the social studies teacher called in sick and there was no substitute, according to the DPI order.

The teacher also said the school’s schedule varies, but usually closes between 2:20 and 3:15 p.m. The school submitted two revised reports this fall after its initial report to the DPI regarding instruction time. Hours are listed as 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The school’s principal, the Rev. Richard Mills, confirmed with Gearing what the English teacher said, but noted that he laid off the science and math teachers because of lack of funds and said he has not paid the English teacher, according to the order. He said there was no school in the afternoon the day MPS’ Title I team visited because there was no heat in the building.

Mills declined to comment on the matter when reached by a reporter Friday. He has requested a hearing with the DPI, which is being scheduled.

The school is one of roughly 100 schools participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which enables low-income parents to send their children to private schools by covering tuition costs with public money at a cost of roughly $6,500 per student.

According to DPI records, the school serves 45 voucher students, a drop from the previous two years when it served roughly 150 voucher students.

The school previously was located at 700 W. Michigan St., which had an occupancy permit for 150 people. The school lost its lease and moved to the current location, which limits capacity to 45 people, DPI spokesman Patrick Gasper said.

The school entered the program in the 2008-’09 school year, before new schools were required to be pre-accredited by the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University.

State law requires that any school entering the choice program, starting in the 2009-’10 school year, must submit a comprehensive educational plan, participate in site visits and be granted pre-accreditation status by the institute. After that process, schools still must become formally accredited by an authorized accreditation organization.

Mills Christian Academy is still considered a candidate for accreditation with AdvancED, Gearing told a reporter Friday.

The DPI has had consistent communication over the past three years with AdvancED regarding complaints it received, Gasper said.

According to Gasper, the DPI has recommended to AdvancED’s state council that Mills Christian Academy be dropped as a candidate. The AdvancED Accreditation Commission meets in early February 2011 to act on all state-level accreditation recommendations.

December 17, 2010

Independent Charter Schools in Milwaukee Test Equal to MPS

Filed under: Charter Schools — millerlf @ 6:29 pm

Study finds little difference in achievement between independent charters and MPS

By Becky Vevea of the Journal Sentinel Dec. 16, 2010

The test scores of students at independent charter schools in Milwaukee and those of MPS students are relatively equal in the areas of reading and math, a study released Thursday says.

The report, released by the School Choice Demonstration Project conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Arkansas, compared the 2006-2007 reading and math scores of 2,295 students attending 10 of the 14 independent charter schools in grades 3-8 to a carefully matched sample of 2,295 students from MPS.

When controlling for factors such as switching schools, the scores from students at independent charter schools score the same in reading and math as their counterparts in MPS.

The study also noted that more students in MPS switch schools, which was found to have a negative impact on student achievement gains.

This report is the first of three reports analyzing academic achievement between charter and MPS schools. Milwaukee is one of few cities with both district-run and independent charters. This study only looks at independent charters, such as those run by UW-Milwaukee and the City of Milwaukee.

The researchers also released a third report analyzing taxpayer savings from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. They found the net fiscal benefits of the voucher program continue to grow as a result of legislative efforts to reduce the burden on Milwaukee property taxpayers.

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