Mayor Pete may have many things going for him, but his education
agenda is not one of them. If he were president, he would continue the
failed Bush-Obama agenda.
If he runs against Trump, I will, of course, support him and vote for
him. I will vote for anyone who wins the Democratic nomination.
But not in the primaries.
I am willing to change course if Mayor Pete makes clear that he
supports fully public schools that are accountable to an elected school
board and that he would eliminate the federal Charter Schools Program,
created by the Clinton administration in 1994 and funded with $6 million
to help jump-start new charters. That program has grown into a $440
million slush fund for corporate charter chains, which is far from its
original purpose. There is a long time from now until the primaries, and
I will keep an open mind.
This Thursday June 2nd there will be a public hearing on the new code of conduct. This is the last opportunity for the community to give public input and show support for better discipline policies. The proposed Code of Conduct, is different from the old code in several key ways:
1. The new code limits the use of exclusionary discipline, ie. suspensions and expulsions (which makes students more likely to dropout of school) Nearly 90 percent of suspensions are for minor or non-violent behavior.
2. The new code replaces vague guidelines for discipline with clear ones (discipline matrix). Vague discipline guidelines contribute to students of color receiving harsher discipline for the same behavior as their white peers, this is true of other disparities (disability, language, gender, LGTBQ+).
3. The new code focuses on relationship building to create positive school climate within schools. Students are more engaged and behave better when they have a trusted adult to talk to at school.
Come out at and show your support for these important policy changes! The hearing will take place at 131 West Broad St, Rochester, NY at 6:30pm.
Where: RCSD Board of Education, 131 W. Broad St. (3rd Floor) Rochester, NY
Recently the AQE/Metro Justice Education Committee and Community Task Force held a press conference in support of the new code of conduct which was attended by school board members: Mary Adams, Van White, Cynthia Herriott, Jose Cruz, Liz Hallmark, and Willa Powell. The Board has expressed support for the new code and better policies to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Tomorrow you can speak up at this historic moment and tell the Board of Education you support them in reforming the Rochester City School District’s broken discipline policies!
Doug Noble’s Speech to the RCSD School Board April 28, 2016
As someone with a Ph.D. in education who’s written extensively about the military in public education, when I first heard of the proposed military academy, I went and reviewed a century of research on the merits, costs, and overall educational value of such schools.
Doug Noble at the RCSD School Board Meeting
After all, if someone were proposing a new school based on, say, expeditionary learning or outward bound or headstart, isn’t that how we’d go about evaluating their proposal? In this case, what I found were overwhelmingly negative assessments of such schools, which I shared with the press and with this Board a month ago, and have submitted to you again today.
I was curious to see how this new Report would somehow provide evidence proving the benefits of a public military academy. Remarkably, though, the report’s authors don’t even try to build their case on such evidence.
Instead, their recommendations are based entirely on views of people who know little or nothing about such schools, but who are assumed to have sufficiently informed opinions about public military schools, simply by having some familiarity with education and by living in a society with a pervasive military presence.
The report itself even concedes that these opinions, gathered through surveys and focus groups, “should not be taken as a quantitative representation of community opinions.” Yet the report’s authors have already irresponsibly publicized in local media the false claim that there is“a significant level of support within the greater Rochester community for a military-style school.”
Surprisingly, given District budget constraints, the report recommends starting a brand new National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) program, for which the District itself would bear the full cost into the foreseeable future. This, instead of simply consolidating the District’s jROTC programs, already cost-shared with the Army. Remarkably, the affordability of these recommended new costs and cost tradeoffs within the actual and projected District budget is not even addressed by this so-called “feasibility report.”
The report’s authors insist they have strived to be unbiased since “Many of the members of this Committee have a background with strong military ties, and several are approaching transition points in their careers, which could lead the public [to] suspect ulterior motives.” Maybe it’s time to ask what sinecures await the newly retiring promoters of this military academy.
In fact, this scramble to be unbiased has resulted in an eerily anonymous report, somehow emerging from an innocent collective curiosity about whether the community would want a public military academy. But there are individuals behind this Report who very much want it, to the point of claiming falsely that their report has the full endorsement of its committee (it doesn’t) and even the support of the teachers union (a surprise to the union’s president).
In the end, this inept and disingenuous Report fails to make any legitimate case for a military academy in this District. I ask the Board not to be distracted by this effort, but focus instead on important things like adopting a humane code of conduct that doesn’t include police arrests or court martials.
Additional comments too long for the speech.
If one were to present a report to the Board proposing a new high school based on, say, the Expeditionary Learning model, one would need to make a case for it. One would define the model and its benefits, offer evidence of its success elsewhere, review existing research on its merits, problems, costs, implementations, etc. If there were already such a school in the District, one would survey and interview people actually experienced with or knowledgeable about this program who can offer a balanced assessment of its value to the District. The last thing one would do would be to promote such a school based on uninformed opinions by people who know little or nothing about it.
Yet this report does exactly this, and little else. An underlying assumption throughout is that the community is already informed about and prejudiced for or against public military schools, simply by living in a society inundated by ubiquitous military images and slogans. So this report doesn’t even TRY to build a case for a military academy, through research evidence, references, arguments, and personal examples, even though jROTC programs have been in public schools for a century, and public military academies have been around for several decades. There is by now a large body of scholarship describing and assessing these programs, but the report cites none of this.
Instead, it offers several pages of “background” statistics on a select few public military schools, retrieved from state ed websites, without any attempt at commentary or even any data from current RCSD jROTC programs. The remaining basis for the report’s recommendations is opinions by people with minimal actual knowledge of military schools, gathered in focus groups and interviews with a total of about 30 or 40 people, and from several hundred surveys, which, the report concedes, “should not be taken as a quantitative representation of community opinions, but rather as an indicator of the level of support within the community.”
The report’s overall recommendation is that, “based upon the work completed by the Advisory Committee, a military high school in Rochester is not only operationally feasible but also desirable…The results obtained … reveals [sic] that a majority of respondents would like the District to offer a military school that utilizes the public military academy model.” But, strangely, the report nowhere describes such a model, stating instead only that, “One such definition is provided by the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States.”A search of the Association website turned up no such definition, and, more significantly, no such model was ever even presented to survey respondents.
Another discrepancy :all recommendations in the report are introduced with the words “The Advisory Committee recommends…” But at least two committee members insist they never saw the report before it was first posted on the Board website April 17. They were never asked to review it or sign off on it, yet the report claims all its recommendations come from the committee.
Yet another discrepancy: The report claims, puzzlingly, that “RTA president Adam Urbanski has confirmed the support of RCSD teachers’ union in opening the school.” Yet Urbanski, when contacted about this, wrote, “I have not seen any report. RTA only agreed to have teachers on the committee exploring the idea…”
One unexplained recommendation for establishing the military academy is to start a new National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) program, rather than to choose the far less costly option of transferring or consolidating existing jROTC programs, with costs shared by the military. The report acknowledges that with its recommendation, “RCSD covers the full cost of military staffing and equipment until the US Army approves the JROTC program. It is unknown how long the approval process will take.” “A National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) program,” according to its website, “is virtually identical to JROTC except it is fully funded by schools that choose to pursue a JROTC unit without financial assistance from the Army, … an excellent alternative for schools that wish to expedite a program.”
The report offers no explanation for its apparent urgency to expedite its proposed academy, despite the huge fiscal burden it would place on an already burdened District.
The report’s authors, whoever they are, assume a strangely defensive stance early in the report: “The ethics of the Committee itself and its relationship with the military community were subject to self-scrutiny in order to guarantee an unbiased product and recommendation to the Rochester City School District. Many of the members of this Committee have a background with strong military ties, and several are approaching transition points in their careers.It would be an error for this Committee to recommend anything to the district that is not fully based in fact and unbiased. Additionally, it is unethical for any member to have positive recommendations for the sole purpose of furthering one’s own career. Maintaining transparency and objectivity is paramount to providing a credible recommendation. It would also be untruthful to hide the fact that one of the Committee members is responsible for Army Recruiting in the Greater Rochester Area. Only unbiased truth and accountability will guarantee that the public at large trusts the results of this inquiry and does not suspect ulterior motives.” One might now begin to suspect such motives.
In fact, its scramble to be unbiased is perhaps the most curious aspect of this report. If one were proposing a new school, one would, quite naturally, be biased in favor of it and lead the effort to sell it. Why else would one propose it? But this report postures as being “objective,” without anyone out front making the case for the school. Instead, it hides its promotion behind recommendations supposedly endorsed by an “advisory committee,” and from dubious statistics gleaned from surveys and focus groups. It’s as if the initiative to conduct this process came out of the blue, as someone’s fanciful thought experiment simply wondering whether the community would welcome a military school in the District.
But, of course, there are individuals behind this entire process and behind this report who very much want a military school in the District. Unfortunately, and ironically, despite the military’s claims about building “leadership” and “character” and “discipline” in its schools, the hidden promoters of this academy demonstrate neither the character to stand up and lead the effort, nor the discipline to produce a minimally respectable report.
Letter to the Editor of the Democrat & Chronicle
The headline for Justin Murphy’s April 26 article “Study shows interest in RCSD military academy” is false. The article misleads the public and must be retracted before more people believe it. The authors of the military academy report just released have irresponsibly publicized a conclusion they know to be false, that there is “a significant level of support within the greater Rochester community for a military-style school.” In fact, the report states explicitly that the opinions collected of several hundred respondents to surveys and focus groups “should not be taken as a quantitative representation of community opinions.”
The report itself is fatally flawed throughout and should not be taken seriously. The report’s authors don’t even try to build a case for a military academy based on research evidence or knowledgeable testimony. Instead, its recommendations are based entirely on opinions of people who know (and are told) little or nothing about public military schools. These respondents are considered sufficiently informed only by their marginal familiarity with education and by their relentless media exposure to all things military.
The report alleges falsely that it has the full endorsement of its “advisory committee” (members say it doesn’t) and even the support of the teachers union (a surprise to the union’s president). The report recommends without explanation starting a brand new program, for which the District itself would bear the full cost, even though consolidation of the District’s existing jROTC programs would share costs with the Army. Whether the District could afford these new costs is not even addressed by this so-called “feasibility report.”
The report acknowledges that “Many of the members of this Committee have a background with strong military ties, and several are approaching transition points in their careers, which could lead the public [to] suspect ulterior motives.” This does indeed leads us to ask whether promising sinecures awaiting newly retired military officers are really what’s driving this promotion of a military academy.
In the end, this inept and disingenuous report fails to make any legitimate case for a military academy that might benefit District students. Its case depends only on trying to convince us that the community wants it, through deceptive and misleading publicity that the media seems only too eager to swallow.
On January 7, 2016 the world lost Former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, Judith S. Kaye. Our nation is indebted to Judge Kaye not only for the many ways she championed fair and just court systems and schools, but also for her unflagging devotion to our children. Judge Kaye’s many accomplishments have been celebrated widely and here at the Communities for Just Schools Fund, we are most especially indebted to Judge Kaye for the national school discipline reform efforts she and her colleagues initiated through the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children (PJCJC). Kesi Foster, Lead Organizer at CJSF grantee, Urban Youth Collaborative, said “Judge Kaye was a tireless champion for ensuring our schools treated all schoolchildren, especially Black, Latino, and students with disabilities fairly and with dignity and respect. Her efforts will have a lasting positive impact on schoolchildren from generations to come.”
In 2012, Judge Kaye and the PJCJC convened a national conference of cross-systems actors that included representatives from 46 states – including a number of the Fund’s grantees and many Chief Justices. When Judge Kaye said “come,” people showed up! Many major state-level efforts to coordinate meaningful school discipline and climate reforms emerged from that conference.
For an example of Judge Kaye’s leadership in demanding educational excellence for all children, see this tribute by Communities for Just Schools Fund grantee, Alliance for Quality Education:
AQE Joins All New Yorkers in Mourning the Loss of Judge Judith Kaye Statement of the Alliance for Quality Education
It is with great sorrow that we learned today of the passing of Judith Kaye, former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. Judge Kaye was a tremendous Chief Judge and champion of New York’s children and families. She was a major force in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit writing the majority decision in CFE I and the dissent in CFE II. In CFE the Court of Appeals found that New York State was failing to meet its constitutional obligation to provide all students with a “sound, basic education.” In her dissent she asserted that the amount of funding ordered by the court was not enough.
She did not give up her commitment to justice when she retired from the bench, she continued to be a major voice for equity and justice as the Chair of the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children. Most recently we were proud to collaborate with her on the introduction of legislation by Assembly Education Chair Cathy Nolan to reform school discipline practices statewide to dramatically reduce suspensions and school-based arrests, end the severe racial disparities in school discipline, and create positive and supportive school climates for students and educators.
Chief Judge Judith Kaye made a lasting impact for the improvement of the lives of New York’s families and children. She was an indefatigable champion of justice and she did it all with grace, charm and a powerful intellect. The Alliance for Quality Education joins all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of one of our state’s true heroes.
“This is unlikely to make a difference, other than to provide the governor and other leaders with cover for a pre-set agenda,” David Bloomfield, an education leadership professor at Brooklyn College and at the City University of New York Graduate Center, told POLITICO New York. “I think it’s showboating.”
“The reason for the commission was to respond to the opt out movement, but no one on the commission speaks for the parents and guardians of the 220,000 students who did not take the test.”
“Does anyone seriously believe that this commission has the expertise or the time to do what they are supposed to do?”
The “Rochester parent” representative is a charter school advocate best known for attacking public education in NY.
Mary Adams, Commissioner, Rochester Board of Education
“Interesting, to say the least, that a parent from the Rochester City School Board’s Ad hoc Committee on Common Core Standards Implementation, was not invited and yet we still have Carrie Remis as a “Rochester parent” representative??? – but I guess political friendliness goes further than legitimate representation or substantive contribution in yet the latest Cuomo “Commission.” Ms. Remis is not a Rochester resident and does not represent Rochester city school parents.”
Carrie Remis, Founding Director of the Parent Power Project rather than being an authentic representative of Rochester parents works to undermine our public schools in order to advance the prospects of the charter school movement, i.e., private schools that are publicly funded.
The Alliance for Quality Education “The Alliance for Quality Education is a coalition mobilizing communities across the state to keep New York true to its promise of ensuring a high-quality public school education to all students regardless of zip code.
BAD SOLUTION TO NONEXISTENT PROBLEMS
Sent to Education Week, June 24, 2015
I list here Christopher Cross’ claims in his column,”How to Confront America’s International Skills Gap,” (June 24, 2015) and my responses to each.
1. Claim: American students score lower than many other countries on tests of literacy.
Response: Study after study has shown that when we control for poverty, American students do quite well on international tests.
2. Claim: According to a study done by OECD, Americans with graduate degrees do worse on international tests than those with graduate degrees in other countries.
Response: The report showed that Americans with MA’s and research degrees do not do as well as some others on the PIAAC numeracy scale. The report did not indicate what field that MA was in. Even so, only MA holders in three countries (out of 17) did significantly better than American MA degree holders.
3. Claim: Companies are unable to find qualified employees, especially in high-tech fields.
Response: Several studies have reported that there is a surplus of scientifically trained job candidates, not a shortage.
4. Claim: The solution to these problems is to not abandon higher standards and accountability.
Response: Even if these problems were real, there is no evidence that higher standards and more tests lead to greater achievement.
BACKGROUND: Here is a 2 min. video about the “School-to-Prison Pipeline” that has affected so many of our RCSD students & certainly has contributed to the abysmal 9% graduation rate of Black male students in the District.
The NY State budget negotiations are coming down to the wire. Today the Assembly, the Senate, and Cuomo are hammering out the final language.
One of the things Cuomo wants is the ability to put so called failing schools into receivership, i.e., have them taken over by the state. We may be able to push the Senate to abandon that idea, the Assembly already has.
Struggling schools are not failing. That is the language of the billionaire supporters of charter schools. These schools struggle with a student body traumatized by poverty and relative disadvantage, but hundreds of our children are succeeding in these schools. We need to have local control to help these schools do even better.
Please call your Senator’s Albany office and tell him that you oppose the plan to give the state the power to put schools into “receivership.” Robach Phone: (518) 455-2909
Funke Phone: (518) 455-2215
The fight for public schools in New York gets more tense every day. Here’s where we are:
Andrew Cuomo proposed a budget that is bad for our children and our future. He proposed some money for education funding, but only if it comes with more testing, and more diversion of public money to privately-run schools. His budget doesn’t come close to the amount required by the state constitution to provide a basic education to all children.
Last week, the Assembly, led by Carl Heastie proposed an increase of $1.8 billion–not what the constitution requires, but much closer–and rejected Cuomo’s efforts to tie funding to more testing and more privatized schools.
The negotiations between the two budgets are happening right now.
Cuomo is working for some very wealthy hedge fund managers who are determined to run state education policy. Just last week we learned that yet another school-privatization PAC was started.
But the people-powered movement for schools around the state is on fire. Over 200 schools protested last week. Finger Lakes’ teachers sent 1,000 apples to Governor Cuomo.1 In Manhattan, parents, teachers and community members formed a human chain around Spruce Street School to protect it from Cuomo’s policies. Similar protests took place in over 80 other schools across the city.2Yesterday, there was an amazing protest in Greenwich, Connecticut, against Paul Tudor Jones, the hedge fund manager who has bankrolled the anti-schools agenda.3
This is a fight for our children. Some areas–like Gustavo Rivera’s Bronx Senate District4–are owed $131 million by the state. Think about what it means to run a school without the money for counselors, art, and PE. Imagine teaching a class with 33 kids in it.
We have to stand and support the Assembly budget, we have to stand with Mayor de Blasio and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who have been outspoken in opposing Cuomo’s plans.
If you have or know kids in public schools, you know what the testing regime is doing to children’s love of learning, and you know how important small classes, arts and sports and counselors are to a full education.
Join the protests organized around the state, or email and call your elected officials. Pick the politician you know, the one you love, or the one that makes you angry–what matters is that you speak out. Tell them you believe we owe every child their constitutional right to a basic, sound education. Tell them you understand that its a hard fight, but that you are with them.
Under New York’s Constitution, the Governor has outsized power, so the Assembly needs our back. Cuomo will try to use the April 1st budget date to force the Assembly to compromise. But I–and I hope you–believe that a budget that is dangerous for our children is worse than a late budget. I’ll stand with the Assembly if it forces a late budget, in order to get more power for its education vision.
WHO: Facing Race, Embracing Equity (FR=EE) / Race And Education Action & Change Work Group WHAT:COMMUNITY FORUM (MAKING THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON-PIPE-LINE VISIBLE) WHEN:March 14, 2015 @ 1:00 pm ….. March 14, 2015 @ 1:00 pm WHERE: Frederick Douglass Resource Center (36 King Street, Rochester, NY)
WHY: To hear from RCSD families who have been victimized by the School-To-Prison-Pipe-Line, and enlist help from the community to bring it to an end. Formal invitations were sent to Rochester Board of Education Commissioners, City and County Officials.
Contact:Co-chairs of the Race And Education Action & Change Work Group:
WE HOPE YOU WILL JOIN US ON MARCH 14TH @ 1:00 PM.
COMMUNITY FORUM: MAKING THE SCHOOL-TO PRISON-PIPELINE VISIBLE
FREDERICK DOUGLASS RESOURCE CENTER, 36 KING STREET, ROCHESTER, NY
PLEASE SHARE WITH YOUR CONTACT LISTS.
The New York State United Teachers Union (NYSUT) and their community partners are sponsoring a series of Education Forums in the Rochester/Finger Lakes region between mid-February and April 1st. They wanted to provide notice so that members of the community could attend one or more of these important conversations.
Each forum will feature parents, students, school board members, teachers anss school support staff, college faculty and other community members. The meetings will provide for each community to learn more about this year’s proposed education budget and, perhaps more important, the “education reform” proposals which the Governor has tied to the budget. Speakers from the community will be afforded the opportunity to speak on these issues and to let our Regents and legislators know how they feel about the proposals.
Currently, there are four forums scheduled:
Fairport February 26 Minerva Deland School 4:30-6PM Rally; 7PM Community Forum
Honeoye March 13 Honeoye CD 6:30 PM Community Forum
Spencerport March 19
Spencerport High School 7PM Community Forum
Geneva March 19 Hobart and William Smith College 7PM Community Forum
The Fairport forum on February 26th has a couple of parts: Parking for that rally and forum will be at Fairport High School and Martha Brown School on Ayrault Rd and at East Rochester High School via Washington St. and Ivy St north of Fairport Rd. Busses will shuttlefrom those lots to Minerva Deland School where parking is scarce. They are expecting 1,000+ to be there. Students, parents, teachers, fellow unionists, UUP members, administrators–all are welcome to participate. Please feel free to bring signs showing what you support (or are against)–excessive testing, opting out, elimination of tenure, adequate funding for poor districts (and kids)–the list is long.
In the rush to privatize the country’s schools, corporations and politicians have decimated school budgets, replaced teaching with standardized testing, and placed the blame on teachers and students.
Until about 1980, America’s public schoolteachers were iconic everyday heroes painted with a kind of Norman Rockwell patina—generally respected because they helped most kids learn to read, write and successfully join society. Such teachers made possible at least the idea of a vibrant democracy.
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Since then, what a turnaround: We’re now told, relentlessly, that bad-apple schoolteachers have wrecked K-12 education; that their unions keep legions of incompetent educators in classrooms; that part of the solution is more private charter schools; and that teachers as well as entire schools lack accountability, which can best be remedied by more and more standardized “bubble” tests.What led to such an ignoble fall for teachers and schools? Did public education really become so irreversibly terrible in three decades? Is there so little that’s redeemable in today’s schoolhouses?
The beginning of “reform”
To truly understand how we came to believe our educational system is broken, we need a history lesson. Rewind to 1980—when Milton Friedman, the high priest of laissez-faire economics, partnered with PBS to produce a ten-part television series called Free to Choose. He devoted one episode to the idea of school vouchers, a plan to allow families what amounted to publicly funded scholarships so their children could leave the public schools and attend private ones.
You could make a strong argument that the current campaign against public schools started with that single TV episode. To make the case for vouchers, free-market conservatives, corporate strategists, and opportunistic politicians looked for any way to build a myth that public schools were failing, that teachers (and of course their unions) were at fault, and that the cure was vouchers and privatization.
Jonathan Kozol, the author and tireless advocate for public schools, called vouchers the “single worst, most dangerous idea to have entered education discourse in my adult life.”
Armed with Friedman’s ideas, President Reagan began calling for vouchers. In 1983, his National Commission on Excellence in Education issued “A Nation At Risk,” a report that declared, “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”
It also said, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”
Billionaires bought Albany, taking control of our state government — and they continue to spend millions to corrupt and undermine our
Their first goal: privatize public schools across the state and move billions of dollars from taxpayers into private corporations.
We’re not going to let that happen! For our families and for our futures we must take a stand and demand a government that represents fairness, justice, and equity.
Join Reverend William Barber; the powerful voice leading Moral Mondays in North Carolina, and thousands of parents, students, workers, and clergy to take back our Democracy!
#MoralMondays in New York
What: Moral Monday with Rev. William Barber When: January 12th, 2pm Where: Million-Dollar Staircase, State Capitol Building, Albany, New York
Free Bus from East High School leaving about 7:00 am January 12th
The purported benefit of the Common Core State Standards over previous sets of standards is the development of critical thinking skills across all subjects, seen as a key lever for increasing American students’ international competitiveness and ameliorating the country’s lethargic economy and persistently high unemployment rates. This perception is clear in statements made by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and in articles about the standards (Duncan, 2013; Garland, 2013). Billed as “reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers” (NGA and CCSSO, 2010a). Will a set of standards actually prepare students for life and career?
John Dewey’s vision of reform was a bottom-up approach that focused on the needs of the child and the expertise of the teacher. He warned against a system that relied on a lack of connection between the people in charge of planning for education and the people in charge of actually educating. What would John Dewey think of the Common Core?
A Tale of Two NGA Press Releases, and Then Some
April 25, 2014
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are at the stormy center of unprecedented controversy regarding a supposed set of K-12 “standards.”
The closest “standards storm” that I can think of as being somewhat similar to the current CCSS uproar occurred in 1994, twenty years ago, and concerned the national history standards.
Let us pause and briefly consider that 1994 debacle.
Given the “state-led” origins of CCSS, this scenario, recounted in 1997 by UCLA history professor Gary Nash, sounds strangely familiar– but with no hint of “philanthropic” purchase or punitive, test-driven outcomes:
As with national standards in science, civics, geography, and the arts, the history standards originated in the National Education Goals adopted by the nation’s fifty governors in 1989; in these goals, state leaders specified one of the key goals as the creation of challenging discipline-based standards. Endorsed by President George Bush, these goals led to a Congressionally appointed National Council on Education Standards in 1992. As a result of this mandate, funding for writing the history standards came from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Department of Education, headed by Lynne Cheney and Lamar Alexander respectively. The task of coordinating the writing of standards fell to the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA, earlier funded by NEH. [Emphasis added.]
What: Press Conference/Report Release on School Suspensions Where: School 17 Enrico Fermi, 158 Orchard St, Rochester, NY 14611 When: Tuesday November 18th, 4 pm
On Tuesday November 18th: students, parents, administrators, teachers, and community members will come together to choose a new path.
In the 2012-2013 school year, 54,620 days of instruction were lost due to suspensions in the Rochester City School District.That’s as if 300 students missed an entire year of school.
Heavy-handed discipline policies are pushing kids to drop out of school and more often than not those same kids are ending up in prison. It’s time to work together, to have open and honest discussions, and to focus on real solutions.
Please join us at School 17 on Tuesday the 18th at 4 pm to learn more about how we can begin to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.
To tackle complex problems we need a deeper understanding of the issues. Metro Justice, in partnership with the Alliance for Quality Education, Teen Empowerment, Advancement Project, and with cooperation from the Rochester City School District (RCSD), has compiled a report on school discipline in RCSD.
The numbers cannot tell us everything, but they do tell us more than anecdotes or personal experience alone. This is a chance to step back and think about the broader picture. Please be a part of this important conversation. We need everyone in the community involved to help us find a new approach.
For Immediate Release: Contact: Rosemary Rivera, Organizing Director Cell- (585)-520-6542 [email protected]
PRESS RELEASE The Alliance for Quality Education and Metro Justice recognized Senator Ted O’Brien and Assemblyman Harry Bronson as Champions of Public Schools
Release of Data Shows that Senator O’Brien Delivered
$10.3 Million More in School Aid
ROCHESTER (October 14, 2014) – The Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) and Metro Justice joined members of the community on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at Sully Public Library to honor Senator Ted O’Brien and Assemblyman Harry Bronson for their work on behalf of public schools.
Parents, teachers, students and community members took part in the event that named both Senator O’Brien and Assemblyman Bronson as Champions for Public Schools. Organizers also released data showing how Senator O’Brien fought the Senate Republicans earlier this year to win $10.3 million more in aid for public schools in his district. Of that extra funding, Rochester schools received $6.2 million. In the Assembly Harry Bronson fought to increase school funding and Rochester has $42 million more because the Assembly’s efforts.
Senator O’Brien’s efforts not only benefited his district, but added $6.7 million to the 54th district and $11.1 million to the 56th district.
The event also launched the Alliance for Quality Education’s #WeCantWait Campaign that demands that the state comply with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, a court order calling for equality in funding schools. The campaign, a social media effort, draws attention to the problem of chronic underfunding of public schools. Parents, students, elected officials and community members are posting “selfies” on Twitter and Facebook with signs identifying the reasons their schools need sufficient funding.
This is a vital issue to Rochester. The most recent data from the State Education Department shows that New York State owes schools across the state $5.9 billion in classroom operating aid (a combination of Foundation Aid and Gap Elimination Adjustment). AQE’s data revealed that Rochester schools are owed $13,879,558. Monroe County schools, in total, are owed $285,765,173 in GEA and Foundation Aid.
“The real champions of education are the parents of our children,” said NYSAssembly member Harry Bronson. “I am pleased to partner with these parents to highlight their commitment to education and my dedication to ensuring our children have access to high-quality public education. My experience has taught me that education is the great equalizer and the greatest investment we can make is in our children and ensuring school aid displays a commitment to that principle. Assuring that our children get the education they deserve, and their schools receive the resources to provide a quality education is my top priority.”
“Our schools are undergoing serious financial distress,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, AQE. “We are thrilled that Senator like Ted O’Brien are fighting for our schools. Senator O’Brien’s win for more funding for schools benefits both the state and the region. The concerted effort of Senator O’Brien and Assemblyman Bronson is the best hope for New York State schools.”
“Children in New York have been waiting for years for the promises to make our schools better,” said James Bearden, Chair of Alliance for Quality Education/Metro Justice Education Committee. “Every day that goes by without sufficient funding, without essential reforms that bring parents and teachers together, our children suffer. We can’t wait any more.”
“Youth show and tell us in so many ways that our schools are not equipped to give them what they need to be able to focus and be excited to learn,” said Jennifer Banister of Teen Empowerment. “We have cut back or even cut out much of what we know works: more one-on-one attention from teachers and other staff, community-building time built into school schedules, creative and hands-on learning opportunities, academic and mental health counselors, life skills, school nurses, up-do-date technology and books, approaches to behavior issues that solve problems rather than just pushing students out of school. We thank all of our state representatives like Senator O’Brien and Assemblyman Bronson who are fighting for our kids.”
The Alliance for Quality Education is a coalition mobilizing communities across the state to keep New York true to its promise of ensuring a high quality public education to all students regardless of zip code, income or race. Combining its legislative and policy expertise with grassroots organizing, AQE advances proven-to-work strategies that lead to student success and echo a powerful public demand for a high quality education.
When it comes to books on public education, we crave a diet of meat as red as a teacher’s cruel pen. In case you plan to write one, here’s a brief primer: 1) Pick a contentious and complex topic, like charter schools, teacher evaluations or standardized testing. 2) Reduce that issue to a Manichaean battle for the soul of the American student, presenting your side as inarguably salvific. 3) Fire off some frightening statistics about Finland or South Korea. 4) Ignore evidence that might dampen your zeal; just remember, above all, that nothing sells books like outrage.
But in “The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession,” her first book, the journalist Dana Goldstein disregards this facile formula. Ms. Goldstein’s book is meticulously fair and disarmingly balanced, serving up historical commentary instead of a searing philippic. A hate-read is nigh impossible. (Trust me, I tried.) While Ms. Goldstein is sympathetic to the unionized public-school teacher, she also thinks the profession is hamstrung by a defensive selfishness, harboring too fine a memory for ancient wounds.
The book skips nimbly from history to on-the-ground reporting to policy prescription, never falling on its face. If I were still teaching, I’d leave my tattered copy by the sputtering Xerox machine. I’d also recommend it to the average citizen who wants to know why Robert can’t read, and Allison can’t add.
Inevitably, some of Ms. Goldstein’s book summarizes a familiar story in which a youthful nation grapples in the classroom with some of its most pressing questions: of race, class, religion, gender. But she always writes with a purpose, namely to remind readers that teaching was a fraught profession long before “Waiting for ‘Superman’ ” flickered across the screen and everyone had an opinion about the Common Core.
Ms. Goldstein begins in the early 19th century, when American classrooms were presided over by “coarse, hard, unfeeling men,” in the words of one early reformer, exemplified best by Washington Irving’s inept, doomed Ichabod Crane. The solution was to feminize the teaching corps, handing it over to “angelic public servants motivated by Christian faith,” who would make the schoolhouse “America’s new, more gentle church.” The notion that teaching is “low-paid (or even volunteer) missionary work for women,” Ms. Goldstein persuasively argues, continues to haunt the classroom.
So does the question of how to close the racial achievement gap, another topic of current debate whose historical roots Ms. Goldstein capably excavates. Like many of today’s charter school advocates, W. E. B. Du Bois sought, at the turn of the last century, a teaching corps of “gifted persons” who would allow black children to “cope with the white world on its own ground.” Some thought the notion of educational equality preposterous; some seem to think so still, in what George W. Bush identified as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
The early 20th century also saw the rise of the teachers’ union, a force that continues to inform, to a remarkably high degree, what transpires in the classroom. The unions’ original strength rested on a foundation of anxiety. A pervasive belief that teachers were inculcating American children with communist ideals led to what the historian Howard K. Beale called an “orgy of investigation,” Ms. Goldstein notes. In 1917, for example, The New York Times editorialized that “The Board of Education should root out all the disloyal or doubtful teachers.” Union protections were thus a rational reaction to irrational fears.
And, yes, teachers have long had summers off. But they haven’t had it easy, as Ms. Goldstein makes perfectly clear. In the 1930s, she writes, 41 percent of New York City classrooms had more than 40 students. Nor were teachers particularly well rewarded for their labors. Ms. Goldstein writes that in 1952-53, the average teacher in New York “earned $66 per week, less than an experienced car washer.” It’s hard to act like a professional if you aren’t paid like one.
Ms. Goldstein argues that union leaders were so fixated on their own interests that they failed to address the integrationist imperative of 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. “Listen, I don’t represent children,” Albert Shanker of the city’s United Federation of Teachers infamously said in 1968. “I represent the teachers.”
That revealing statement came during the crisis in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, a black neighborhood in Brooklyn that had been given “community control” over schools the same year. The Black Panther Stokely Carmichael had said that minority children “are more intelligent than all those honkies on those school boards.” Now, his convictions were put into practice, as the teachers, mostly Jewish, were expelled. This wasn’t a battle for the best and brightest blacks, Du Bois’s “talented 10th,” but for the ailing children of the ghetto.
The rift between the unions and minorities has never healed, as evidenced by the popularity of nonunionized charter schools among black and Latino parents today. Ocean Hill-Brownsville also sowed the seeds of progressive doubt, so that, Ms. Goldstein writes, “the unions became downright villains not only to antilabor conservatives, but, for the first time, to large segments of the American left as well.” That hostility persists among Obama centrists more concerned with getting results than placating labor.
Ms. Goldstein doesn’t lose her cool over standardized tests and charter schools, able to see both as earnest but imperfect sutures on the battered corpus of American public education. Instead of bashing No Child Left Behind as a sop to testing corporations, she credits the halting Bush-era reform with “making the problem of the achievement gap visible on a national scale for the first time.”
Ms. Goldstein ends with a list of policy recommendations, a rare coda for a history book but one that makes sense here: Abolish outdated union protections, decrease the role of tests, recruit more male and minority teachers.
“Watching a great teacher at work can feel like watching a magic show,” Ms. Goldstein writes after visiting an elementary school in Newark. Her book is, above all, a tribute to these magicians, a plea for more wizards in the classroom.