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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 79,869

About Me

Retired teacher who sees much harm to public education from the "reforms" being pushed by corporations. Privatizing education is the wrong way to go. Children can not be treated as products, thought of in terms of profit and loss.

Journal Archives

Thank you, Raul Grijalva: Obama’s Market-Based Policies Endanger Public Education.

It is so refreshing to see a Democrat having the courage to speak out about this harmful policy.

A Free Market in Schooling?

Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He sees right through the Obama education policy and recognizes that it is a continuation of George W. Bush’s failed No Child Left Behind.

In this astonishingly candid interview with Josh Eidelson in Salon, Rep. Grijalva lacerates Race to the Top, high-stakes testing, privatization, and the other features of the Obama education policy.

Rep. Grijalva recognizes that the Obama program is now driven by financial interests:

Obama’s education secretary is “a market-based person,” his education policy manifests a “market-based philosophy,” and “we continue to starve public schools,” the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus charged in an interview Wednesday afternoon.

Here is more from Josh Eidelson's interview with Grijalva at Salon.

“A self-fulfilling conflict of interest”: Charter schools, testing mania, and Arne Duncan

The privatization of education “began as driven by ideology, but now it’s getting momentum because of the financial aspects,” Rep. Raul Grijalva argued to Salon.
The Arizona Democrat called charter schools “a step towards” privatization, called the Chicago teachers’ strike a “necessary pushback” and warned of a “self-fulfilling conflict of interest.” A condensed version of our conversation follows.

Interviewer: You were the first congressman to echo a call from the Network for Public Education for hearings on standardized testing, saying it’s critical to hold hearings on what you called “mandatory testing and privatization efforts” and “the dismantling of public education.” What do you want those hearings to accomplish?

Grijalva: I understand accountability. I don’t have a problem with testing as a teaching tool, to help to guide the improvement in children. But what’s happened is the standardized testing has become the end-all-be-all in terms of curriculum, in terms of how you prepare students for the future.

He calls for a hearing.

A whole hearing on testing, the culture of testing, and what it is producing for public education.

What you see … is a real move toward the privatization of schools, based on what test results are. A school doesn’t do well, a school doesn’t do well again, then suddenly there is a movement to either let that school be run by private management or let the students then go somewhere else — usually to a private charter school.

Thank you for paying attention to the outcries of teachers, Raul Grijalva.

There is no doubt at all now that Arne Duncan with the apparent approval of President Obama is fulfilling the dreams of Newt Gingrich for Free Market schools.

From 2009:

Newt Gingrich teaming up with Arne Duncan for an education road trip.

For the last twenty years, we have tried to improve education while accepting the fundamental principles of a failed system, guarded by the education bureaucrats and teachers unions. We must now transform math and science education or fall behind. It really is that simple.
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org, “Issues” Sep 1, 2007

Introduce competition among schools and teachers

We should apply the free enterprise system to our education system by introducing competition among schools, administrators, and teachers. Our educators should be paid based on their performance and held accountable based on clear standards with real consequences. These ideas are designed to stimulate thinking beyond the timid “let’s do more of the same” that has greeted every call for rethinking math and science education.
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org Dec 1, 2006

Arne Duncan started off his time in office by threatening California if it did not comply with his wishes.

U.S. education secretary is expected to withhold millions of dollars in education stimulus money if the state doesn't comply with his demand.
By Jason Felch and Jason Song
July 24, 2009
California could lose out on millions of federal education dollars unless legislators change a law that prevents it from using student test scores to measure teachers' performance, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is expected to announce in a speech today.

Now that kind of high-stakes testing that overrides teacher judgement, daily grades, classroom tests, and student portfolios is taking over the country.

It is refreshing to finally see a Democrat speak out in a common sense way for public education. I hope Raul Grijalva does not get on our bad list now....because what he is doing takes courage.

Michelle Rhee's group gets to brag that Howard Dean, Elizabeth Warren are on their side.

Now that really hurts in my gut.

Elizabeth Warren, Howard Dean, and the progressive case for Education Reform.

There is even a video of Dean speaking out for charters school and denigrating public schools without considering all the in-depth causes for problems.

During a recent event at Castleton State College, Governor Dean described visiting a struggling high school in New Orleans where his son, a Teach for America Corps Member, taught. Dean was appalled by the poor education that many of the students were receiving, and realized that we need to do whatever was necessary to improve outcomes for those kids. And great public charter schools, he explained, should be part of the solution.

Opponents of education reform frequently try to frame the issue as part of Republican ideology. It’s a convenient political maneuver, for sure.

But it’s not true. Reforming the structures that systematically deny poor kids a quality education is—and ought to be—a bipartisan priority.

Unsurprisingly, many progressive Democrats—headlined by President Barack Obama and Senator Cory Booker—have joined GOP leaders like Governors Bill Haslam and Jeb Bush as outspoken education reformers. And based on recent statements, you can add Senator Elizabeth Warren and Governor Howard Dean to that list.

Her solution? Instead of a ZIP code-based system that exacerbates inequality, students should receive vouchers to attend a public school of their choice. This would give all kids—regardless of where they live—a shot at a great education. And while that would be a radical change, we shouldn’t hold back:

“An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shakeout might be just what the system needs.”

A shock? Oh yeah, a really big shock. Huge amounts of money and resources taken away from public education in one big move. A big shock indeed.

Public schools are for everyone. Charter schools are not. They need high test scores, so don't produce....you're out.

Howard Dean praises TFA, tweets that public schools have "low expectations" ....

and don't hold kids "accountable". He had high words of praise for Teach for America on Hardball, which shows he has not been paying attention to the voices of the public school advocates.

Tom Whitby ‏@tomwhitby Apr 14

Howard Dean say's that "Teach for America is revolutionizing education across the country." I am missing something. #edchat

...Joan Walsh ‏@joanwalsh Apr 14

Wow, really Howard Dean? Yikes...

And this exchange with him.

Katie Osgood ‏@KatieOsgood_ Apr 15

.@GovHowardDean @GetUpStandUp2 I'm a Sped teacher in Chi & giving neediest kids the least prepared tchrs is immoral. http://atthechalkface.com/2013/06/30/an-open-letter-to-new-teach-for-america-recruits/

Howard Dean ‏@GovHowardDean Apr 16

@KatieOsgood_ @GetUpStandUp2 Perhaps, but lack of holding kids accountable is also immoral, and so are low expectations

mad floridian ‏@madfloridian 9h

@GovHowardDean @KatieOsgood_ @GetUpStandUp2 Gov Dean you are spouting ed reform talking points We tchrs don't have "low expectations".

That is like slapping teachers in the face. Those are the worst of the very bad talking points from the "reformers", the "privatizers". To say to even imply that teachers do not hold kids accountable and have low levels of expectation for them....is (to use Dean's term) indeed IMMORAL.

At his twitter feed he says he will ban anyone who tweets to his twitter site. So that means I am banned Joan Walsh, Kattie Osgood, and a few hundred others who responded are banned from his site (or should I say his "sight".)

I mean why have a twitter feed if you don't want people to have discussions about what you say? Why bother? That's how you know who is responding and communicating.

Makes me think the "reformers" like Dean don't want to hear what the teachers have to say.

And that's a shame.

Here's some more of the very long conversation. He starts out with questioning the credentials of Diane Ravitch. Not a wise move on his part.


There are a lot of people on that thread. It should get the attention of some politicians who are not paying attention to educators.

"we have not spoken earlier, as we are a staff that exists in fear of bullying, retaliation...

and losing our jobs."

These are the words of the teachers from a San Diego charter school in March on the loss of a fellow teacher. They were asked not to discuss the circumstances with parents or students. They decided to speak out.

Another great post from Anthony Cody at Education Week.

San Diego Charter Teachers: Bullying Contributed to Death of Colleague

At a San Diego school board meeting on Tuesday, March 11, dramatic testimony from teachers and parents uncovered serious questions about the way their charter school has been run. Harriet Tubman Village Charter School is known for high test scores, but the death of a first year teacher has contributed to a sense of deep concern. Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Grey Panthers, once said: "Dare to stand before those you fear and speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." The testimony at this meeting is riveting. And the discussion that follows is disturbing.

And the teachers spoke.

We apologize that we have not spoken earlier, as we are a staff that exists in fear of bullying, retaliation and losing our jobs.

We have concerns regarding the protection of our students, the success of our school and the integrity of the charter. Our charter requires us to follow the credentialing requirements of the Education Code. Several teachers this year and last year taught without proper credentials in the subjects they were teaching. In fact, this is the case for two teachers at the moment. One teacher, when initially stating she was not qualified to teach a subject, and felt uncomfortable teaching the subject, was told she could do it, she was capable, and to do it "until we get caught, and then we have a year to fix it." We also have questions regarding whether one of our administrators actually holds an admin credential, as there is no record of it with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

....I want to tell you the story of Sarah Jenkins. Sarah was a young, bright, dedicated, caring first year teacher at Tubman. When administration had concerns about Sarah's abilities and performance they did not provide support for her or guidance. Instead they piled more and more work on, called her names, and criticized her at every single turn. On October 24th, Sarah wrote an email to the administration informing them that she had a medical condition that made it difficult to meet their excessive demands. She ended the email by begging for positive support, writing "being kind, helpful and specific helps me better myself. But calling me incompetent is not helpful but rude and unprofessional." The next day, Sarah was terminated, which I believe is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sarah passed away three weeks ago from complications of stress-related seizures. When administrators found out we did not receive support or compassion. Instead we were told to not share this information with students, not with parents, that Sarah was only at our school for two months, and at the end of the day she didn't make an impact.

Career teachers cost too much, talk back at meetings, resist mindless rote teaching, expect to be

treated with respect.

Great piece by Anthony Cody at his Education Week blog.

Teachers: A Call to Battle for Reluctant Warriors

Subtitle: We just wanted to teach.

When I was drawn to teach in Oakland, I saw a chance to give students the chance to do hands-on experiments, to answer their own questions, and explore the natural world. On field trips to the tide pools I found out some had never even been to the Pacific Ocean, an hour's drive from their homes. I did not enter teaching to prepare students for tests. I wanted my students to think and reason for themselves.

....But career teachers are not convenient or necessary any more. We cost too much. We expect our hard-won expertise to be recognized with respect and autonomy. We talk back at staff meetings, and object when we are told we must follow mindless scripts, and prepare for tests that have little value to our students.

....Teachers, by our nature cooperators respectful of authority, are slow to react. Can the destruction of public education truly be anyone's goal? The people responsible for this erosion rarely state their intentions. With smiles and praise for teachers, they remove our autonomy and make our jobs depend on test scores. With calls for choice and civil rights, they re-segregate our schools, and institute zero-tolerance discipline policies in their no-excuses charter schools. They push for larger classes in public schools but send their own children to schools with no more than 16 students in a room. Corporate philanthropies anoint teacher "leaders" who are willing to echo reform themes - sometimes even endorsed by our national teacher unions.

....Some teachers are even declaring themselves Badasses, and expressing outright defiance. There will be protests this summer - mark your calendar. Teachers are organizing for a protest at the Gates Foundation in Seattle on June 26. And the Badass Teachers (BATs) will be rallying in Washington, DC, on July 28.

We just wanted to teach, to make a difference in the lives of our students. But when that is made impossible, then we have no choice but to get organized and fight, for ourselves, and for the students we serve.

I respect Arne Duncan as a basketball hero.

I do not respect him as the Secretary of Education. Very few educators do.

He has done a lot of harm to our public education system. Those of us who talk about it out loud are considered disloyal. Especially disloyal if we point out that it is bipartisan policy.

Good for Anthony Cody for this column.

Good for the teachers who are making their voices heard. And especially good for the parents who are joining the fray with their own voices.

The Real Trickle Down Effect. Great pic.

Found at Twitter
By Paul Mcclintock.

The war on teachers. Why the public is letting it happen.

From the Washington Post. I believe this is unfortunately true. I have seen posts responding to my OPs in effect saying that they have no job security so why should teachers have it?

The answer goes to the fact that taking away these rights is union-busting. It's happened before, and it will continue. The author points out that these attacks are happening all across the media.

From 2012:

The war on teachers: Why the public is watching it happen

The Answer Sheet is hosting Mark Naison.

This was written by Mark Naison, professor of African and African American Studies at Fordham University in New York and chair of the department of African and African-American Studies. He is also co-director of the Urban Studies Program, African-American History 20th Century. A version of this first appeared on the blog With A Brooklyn Accent.

Four significant paragraphs:

Let’s look at the way many in America’s shrinking middle class and battered working class view the teachers in their midst.

Large numbers of people are losing their jobs and homes, earning sub-standard wages and taking in their children who can’t find jobs. All the while, they see teachers, 80 percent of them women, who make better salaries than they do, have better health plans and pensions, and get two or three months off in the summer!

Many say to themselves: “Who do teachers think they are? Why should they live so well on my tax dollars when I can barely keep my head above water? At the very least, they should feel some of the insecurity I feel every day and face the kind of performance assessments workers in the private sector deal with all the time.”

That is the same sentiment that America’s unionized blue collar workers faced in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and ‘90’s when big corporations started closing factories and slashing wages and benefits. The non-unionized work force in big industrial states refused to rally to the defense of their unionized counterparts, and industrial unions lost battles to maintain their wage and benefit levels that allowed them to live a middle-class life style or prevent plants from relocating.

He also points out that "if you undermine the job security, working conditions, and wages of one group of workers, it makes it easier for employers to undermine them for all workers."

If you have had cataract surgery or macular degeneration....

you might understand why ophthalmologists get so much in Medicare payments. Whenever a report like this comes out (and they are valuable undeniably) I do fear that CMS will be on the defensive and start cutting payments.

This article has some good points.

Eye Doctors Say Their Profits Are Smaller Than Data Makes Them Look

More than any other specialists, ophthalmologists — not cardiologists, cancer doctors or orthopedic surgeons — were the biggest recipients of Medicare money in 2012. The 17,000 providers, most of whom are concentrated in Florida, Texas, California and New York, accounted for 7 percent — $5.6 billion — of the reimbursements to doctors and other providers. Included in the amount is $929 million for cataract surgery, about $1 billion for an expensive eye drug and $707 million for eye exams.

....The reasons say volumes about an aging population and a specialty that does many procedures, some involving a very expensive drug, all of which are well-reimbursed by Medicare. They also speak to the difficulty of interpreting the data and what the numbers do and don’t reveal.

In ophthalmology, for example, a small number of doctors are able to perform high numbers of well-paid cataract surgeries or give numerous injections to patients with a serious eye disease known as macular degeneration, a condition that can, if left untreated, lead to blindness. They are also likely to treat a large share of Medicare patients in their practices.


Ophthalmologists say that their high representation among the list of big recipients is misleading. Much of what Medicare pays them, they say, goes to the cost of the drugs they administer to patients in their offices and the bulk of that money ultimately goes to the drug companies.

My mother was 85 when she had her last cataract surgery. I was there that day when the doctor could finally see behind where the cataract had been. The degeneration was advanced. She went downhill quickly after that in every way.

There was no drug then for her, even in the 90s. Or at least Medicare did not pay for it.

The cost of one of the drugs, Lucentis, is nearly 2000 dollars per injection, usually done monthly.

All of these factors could figure in for most of the fields of medicine listed in the just released database.

There is actual fraud and then there is legitimate cost. I would hate to see a rush to judgement without taking time to find out which is which.

White Hat Charter schools got about 1 billion from Ohio, claimed public property as theirs, refused

to testify in 2010 at a hearing of the legislature about whether Ohio gives too much power to charter schools.

One billion dollars from public school coffers to such a company is a sure-fire way to break the back of public schools. Charter schools are the policy of both parties, though only the Republicans as a rule push vouchers.

So both sides need to take responsibility for cases like this.

White Hat was sued by 10 charter schools to gain back control from the management company. That was in 2010. Now the case is being heard by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The question is how much control can and should be ceded to White Hat

The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from the boards of 10 charter schools against the for-profit company that used to run them.

The boards have been fighting White Hat Management for 3 years over control of the schools.

Here is more about that fight.

Akron's White Hat Charter School being sued by 10 of its schools for lack of accountability.

Picture from Ohio.com. White Hat was established in 1998 by Akron businessman David L. Brennan, who was a key advocate for introducing charter schools in Ohio. Like most charter schools, White Hat’s Hope Academies and Life Skills Centers are primarily funded by the state based on the number of pupils they enroll. The contracts between White Hat and the schools now suing allow the company to collect virtually all the funds and use them to run the schools.

Since 2008, Akron-based White Hat Management, has collected around $230 million to run charter schools in Ohio. The company has grown into a national chain and reports that it has about 20,000 students across the country.

But now 10 of its own schools and the state of Ohio are suing, complaining that many White Hat students are failing, and that the company has refused to account for how it has spent the money.

The dispute between White Hat and Ohio, which is unfolding in court in Franklin County, provides a glimpse of a larger trend: the growing role of private management companies in publicly funded charter schools.

White House charter operators refused to testify before a legislative hearing and claimed that they owned public property.

The suit charges that White Hat lobbied the state legislature for changes to the charter school law in 2006 that made it possible for White Hat to fire any school board that tries to sever ties with the management company.

Nor is it financially feasible for a charter school to switch operators because White Hat's contracts state that it owns the school's property, furniture and equipment — even though they were all paid for with tax dollars, according to the complaint.

''Essentially, White Hat created an educational model where tax dollars flow to the private corporation with little room for oversight or control by the schools' governing bodies,'' said a news release accompanying the filing of the lawsuit.

"Further, the law makes White Hat's receipt of tax dollars hard to stop.

In 2012 it was learned that White Hat Charters had gotten nearly a billion dollars in revenue from the State of Ohio.

Ohio's For-Profit White Hat Charter Schools nearing one billion in revenue from state.

Congratulations are in order to Kasich pal David Brennan and his White Hat Management company for being awarded two more charter schools by the Ohio Department of Education despite the worst list of accomplishments we may have ever seen. And with these additional schools, it is likely that White Hat schools will top $1 billion in revenue in Ohio.

L.A Times education reporter lets 16 yr old daughter opt out of Common Core testing.

Why my family is opting out of the Common Core testing

That's the daughter who is now finishing off her dissertation for a doctorate in literature. (And yes, I know the chances are slim that she will be supporting me in my old age in the manner to which I would like to become accustomed.)

As a journalist, reviewing an early state test that had been leaked to the paper by a teacher, I saw how thin and fault-riddled it could be. One question asked students to mark what they thought would be the best title for a certain reading passage. The answer the test sought was obvious; the title was direct and on topic, though flat and uninteresting. There was another choice, a better one, it seemed to me. It wasn't as obvious an answer; it struck me as the one that a director would pick for a movie rather than the one a test creator would pick. The difference, if you will, between “Star Wars” and “Luke Travels in Space and Shoots Down a Big Weapon.”

.....The schools in Laguna Beach, where I live, don't go into testing high-alert each spring, for which I'm grateful. A couple of math classes gave a retroactive grade bonus to students who scored proficient or advanced. There are teachers who prep heavily for the spring test and those who don't. One year, my younger daughter's history teacher gave the class three weeks of straight practice tests. Later, my daughter noted with surprise how many of the questions in those practice tests had appeared on the official one, quite possibly because the state, to save money, repeated so many questions on the tests from year to year. Her English teacher that year -- the inspiring, engaging one -- surprised the students just as much by announcing she would do no test prep. She had given them her best all year, she said, and it was time for them to go forth and do their best. Her students got three more weeks of learning that year. I could tell you how my daughter fared on the tests, but an experimental universe of one doesn't yield meaningful results.

....My guilty sense was that I had gone along with the mind-numbing academic program for far too long; done too much to prep her for a life of tests and not enough to prep her for the pursuit of great and original adventures.

I don't remember a time in the many years in which I taught that we did not have standardized testing. Sometimes in the fall, sometimes in the spring. Sometimes in both.

The difference then was that we used them as a very important tool to see where we needed to go, what we needed to cover more extensively. They were not used as tools to fire or lay off teachers. They were never ever the only way that students were judged.

Our grade books with weekly, daily, teacher-made, or pre-ordered tests on subject matter...they still mattered. We never put honor students in remedial classes based on one single test or held students back a grade based on one test only.

Posted by madfloridian | Tue Apr 8, 2014, 11:02 PM (4 replies)
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