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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 81,136

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

Smart-ass answer from DFER (pro-school-privatization) to Donna Brazile on new anti-reform...

group called Democrats for Public Education. DFER is a group of not really Democrats called Democrats for Education Reform. What they really want is more charter schools, less public schools, and more and more profit for the education Billionaire Boys' Club.

That response?

Joe Williams on announcement of AFT's launch of Democrats for Public Education:

"Welcome to the Jungle, baby."

Democrats for Education Reform

It's a big game to them. The DFER group looks down on public schools and the public school teachers, yet it is impossible to find a list of Democrats at their site.

Here is more about the new group being formed to supposedly fight back against education "reformers". I say supposedly because right now trust is hard to come by for me. Two national unions have now called for the head of Arne Duncan. Maybe some Democrats are getting the message.

From the Salon article about the new group.

Michelle Rhee’s minions meet their match: New anti-charter group declares war

For many years now, Democrats at the highest levels — including President Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan — have pursued a series of so-called reform policies, which include charter schools, test-based teacher evaluations and eliminations of tenure. The Race to the Top program, where the Education Department forced school policy changes as a condition for competing for additional funding support, engendered a quiet revolution in the classroom. Duncan famously called Hurricane Katrina “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans,” an example of his desire to overhaul school districts and break union power.

Teacher’s unions typically resisted the reformers, but in the end would come back into the Democrats’ fold, perceiving Republicans as worse. Both the AFT and the National Education Association (NEA) endorsed President Obama in 2012. With teachers a substantial part of the Democratic activist base, unions had reasons to downplay the disagreements.

But a ruling out of California became a touchstone, bringing this simmering debate further into the open. In the Vergara case, bankrolled by Silicon Valley elites, a state judge effectively invalidated California’s teacher tenure rule as violating the civil rights of poor students, who cannot have bad teachers jettisoned from their classrooms. The ruling earned praise from Arne Duncan, and Obama Administration alums formed a public relations group to support future copycat lawsuits in other states. Vergara threatens perhaps the core position of teacher’s unions – job security for their members.

.....While Democrats for Public Education may not have the funds of DFER (as Brazile told Salon, “We don’t have their money and we don’t want their money”), there are plenty of races that could use a counterweight to education reform groups. Perhaps the biggest is in Chicago, where Rahm Emanuel earned the enmity of teachers for school closures and a bitter strike (during which DFER spent $1 million on pro-Emanuel ads). Emanuel faces re-election next February, and a new poll out this weekend shows that Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teachers Union, leads him by 9 points. That comes before one dollar has been spent on the race, of course, and Emanuel will have millions at his disposal. So Democrats for Public Education’s role just in Chicago would be critical, if they decide to back candidates.

I hope this is a sincere move, because teachers right now could see false hope a mile away.

Perhaps some are noticing that November is not that far off, and that it is not just the teachers who are angry. Parents are organizing as well.

An apt description of Arne Duncan by an advocate for public education

Duncan is without question the most anti-teacher,anti-public school Secretary of Education in our history, and I say that advisedly. Both Bill Bennett Reagan’s second term Secretary) and Rod Paige (George W. Bush’s first term Secretary) had their faults, but they did nothing more than talk. Paige, remember, called the NEA a “terrorist” organization. But neither had the ability to open thousands of privately managed schools, neither persuaded states to judge teachers by the test scores of their students. Besides, both served Republican presidents so their antipathy to unions was not surprising. Duncan works in a Democratic administration. What is his excuse for applauding the mass firing of the staff in Central Falls, Rhode Island? The destruction of public education in New Orleans? The release of teacher names with student scores in Los Angeles? The Vergara decision, attacking due process rights? His close alliance with anti-public school groups like Democrats for Education Reform?

Since Arne will most likely never retire on his own...it is now up to the president to listen to the teachers of two national unions who want him gone. Fire him.

Florida politics changing...huge growth in NPAs. Going to be hard to predict election results.

Big surge in no-party voters could reshape Florida politics

Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political scientist who closely studies voting patterns, said the biggest drop in early voting between the 2008 and 2012 elections in Florida was among voters of no party. He said that's because the major parties direct political messages at their own voters, not independents.

"They're not getting steered to cast absentee ballots. They're not getting mobilized on Election Day," Smith said. "If you're registering as an NPA, the two parties are less likely to think that you can be persuaded."

Statewide Florida Electorate

Republican: 4,128,098 (35.2 percent)

Democrat: 4,587,502 (39 percent)

NPA & other: 3,023,401 (25.8 percent)

Statewide total: 11,739,001

Here is a list from the article of the Republicans, Democrats, and NPA/Others for the 8 counties in which NPA/Others outnumber either Democrats or Republicans. Usually Republicans.

Most of these counties are South Florida, a few in Central Florida. North Florida is another matter.

County>Republicans>Democrats>NPA/Other*>Total county
(* Statewide, 89 percent of all voters in this category are registered as No Party Affiliation)

Broward 233,771 537,229 276,275 1,047,275

Collier 92,456 44,066 46,495 183,017

Lee 169,353 114,543 114,887 398,783

Miami-Dade 362,284 550,668 369,762 1,282,714

Okaloosa 70,932 24,649 25,821 121,402

Orange 203,759 299,473 206,639 709,871

Osceola 41,329 69,086 51,188 161,603

Palm Beach 235,720 367,833 238,054 841,607

Those with no party affiliation, those who say they are undecided are going to play a huge roll in coming elections.

AND the polls often fail to show these folks and to give a true prediction of which way the wind is blowing.

AFT needs to join NEA condemning "toxic testing" and calling for Arne Duncan to resign.

The NEA, a national teachers' union, took those positions already. The AFT which is convening right now needs stand with them.

A short to the point post by Dr. John Thompson, a favorite education blogger and teacher.

Thompson: The AFT Needs to Support the NEA's New Positions

The National Education Association annual conference approved a national campaign for equity and against "Toxic Testing." It seeks to end the "test, blame and punish" system that began under President Bush and which has grown worse under the Obama administration. As outgoing NEA President Dennis Van Roekel says, "The testing fixation has reached the point of insanity," The delegates then called on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to resign.

Hopefully the American Federation of Teachers national conference will do the same this month.

The AFT should help the press write its lede. It should adopt the same language, word for word, in order to make the key point. Both unions are on the exact same page in terms of testing and Duncan.

Nuance is appropriate when teachers discuss issues like Common Core standards or how we should deal with edu-philanthropy. But, the jury is in on the damage done by high-stakes testing. And, dumping Duncan is a doable short-term objective. Let's also unite in sharing the bows when we finally force President Obama, who we helped elect and reelect, to repudiate his appointee who personifies complete fidelity to corporate reform. - JT(@drjohnthompson)

Ravitch's very apt description of Arne Duncan.

Why the California Teachers Association Launched the Call for Duncan’s Resignation

Diane Ravitch at her blog points out the words of the California Teachers' Association in calling for Arne Duncan to resign. She links to their website and resolution.

Then she describes how Arne Duncan is such a terrible Secretary of Education. Every word true.

Duncan is without question the most anti-teacher,anti-public school Secretary of Education in our history, and I say that advisedly. Both Bill Bennett Reagan’s second term Secretary) and Rod Paige (George W. Bush’s first term Secretary) had their faults, but they did nothing more than talk. Paige, remember, called the NEA a “terrorist” organization. But neither had the ability to open thousands of privately managed schools, neither persuaded states to judge teachers by the test scores of their students. Besides, both served Republican presidents so their antipathy to unions was not surprising. Duncan works in a Democratic administration. What is his excuse for applauding the mass firing of the staff in Central Falls, Rhode Island? The destruction of public education in New Orleans? The release of teacher names with student scores in Los Angeles? The Vergara decision, attacking due process rights? His close alliance with anti-public school groups like Democrats for Education Reform?

The only puzzle is why the vote was close. Are there NEA members who like a Secretary of Education who is hostile to public school teachers?

Agree on all.

There is a very good post in the comment section.

“The only puzzle is why the vote was close.”

Just a guess, but perhaps because many (if not most) Democrats will simply not criticize Obama (on anything for any reason) because they have been led (by Obama and other Democratic party leaders) to believe — indeed to fear — that if they do, they will hand victory to the Republicans in the upcoming election.

But, alas, there is always an upcoming election, so such an approach effectively means always withholding criticism, which leads to a party leadership that is sometimes completely unresponsive to (essentially ignores and sometimes even mocks) its members.

School superintendent banned in NJ finds work in FL, brings banned colleagues with him.

Ex-Plainfield superintendent banned from N.J. schools finds new work in Florida, report says

Three charter schools in the South Florida counties of Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade hired Steve Gallon III's company, Tri-Star Leadership, in June 2011, five months after Gallon was banned from working in New Jersey, according to a report from the Sun Sentinel.

In May 2010, Gallon and two of his assistants, Angela Kemp, 36, and Lalelei Kelly, 34, were accused of falsifying documents so that their children could attend schools in South Plainfield. Authorities said at the time that Kemp and Kelly provided a sworn statement from Gallon, who falsely indicated that the women and their children lived with him at his home in South Plainfield.

The charges brought against Gallon, Kemp and Kelly were dropped in January 2011 and the three agreed to serve probation and to never work in the New Jersey public school system again, the report said.

Just over a year after Gallon was hired to work with schools in South Florida, he hired Kelly to work as a consultant, at a salary of $60,000 a year, the report said. Months later, he hired Kemp to be the principal at Excel Leadership Academy in Palm Beach County, at a salary of $80,000 a year, according to the report.

Gallon has been paid over $500,000 in taxpayer money by the 3 charter schools according to the Sun Sentinel.

South Florida charter schools hire educator banned in New Jersey

New Jersey authorities banned educator Steve Gallon III from working in their public schools. Five months later, three South Florida charter schools welcomed him.

The struggling schools gave Gallon’s company $500,000 in taxpayer dollars over two years, allowing him to give jobs and double payments to his cronies, a Sun Sentinel investigation found.

Records obtained by the newspaper reveal questionable decisions at the schools as their finances unraveled, providing a rare look into the perils of Florida’s loosely regulated charter-school industry.

....Success Leadership Academy in Fort Lauderdale and Excel Leadership Academy in West Palm Beach closed in the summer of 2013. Stellar Leadership Academy in Miami faced financial struggles but rebounded and continues to employ Gallon’s company.

Edited to add another article about his being charged with theft.

Schools chief Gallon charged with theft

When last we visited Plainfield Schools Superintendent Steve Gallon III he was under fire for providing jobs to the women who accompanied him from Florida where he was a principal. The school board backed him although the women weren’t qualified. He’s back in the news. This time Gallon has been charged along with two top assistants with stealing more than $10,000 worth of education services from neighboring South Plainfield. Gallon, 41, was charged with conspiring to commit theft by deception and as an accomplice and false swearing. Assistant Superintendent Angela Kemp, 36, and Lalelei Kelly, 34, were charged with uttering false statements, theft by deception, conspiracy to commit theft and false swearing. Bail has been set at $25,000 each. An investigation determined that Kemp and Kelly, residents of the Somerset section of Franklin Township, enrolled their children in South Plainfield and provided false documents they lived there. They provided a sworn statement by Superintendent Gallon who falsely indicated the women and their children lived with him in South Plainfield.

I saw a video in which Dr. Gallon was also honored as ICABA Education Professional of the Year 2013.

Just illustrates my favorite true saying....only public school teachers are held accountable. There is no one in charge of overseeing the spending of our taxpayer money.

Horsey cartoon. GOP meets with base, tries to reason.

Unreal! NYDOE gave principals 24 hour notice to clean, clear space for Success Charter Academies.

Eva Moskowitz is one very special charter school owner in New York. Public school principals were ordered at the end of June to clear the way for her to move into their schools rent-free.

But of course we already knew she had special contacts in the state of New York.

Harlem charter school head emails show very special access to NY school chancellor

Lombard for News
Success Charter Network founder Eva Moskowitz and NYC Chancellor Joel Klein sharing a laugh during an event.

On Oct. 3, 2008, Eva Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman and head of four charter schools in Harlem, e-mailed schools Chancellor Joel Klein for help. Moskowitz wanted more space to expand her Harlem Success academies and she had two specific public school buildings in mind.

"Those schools are ps194 and ps241," she wrote to Klein. "It would be extremely helpful to move quickly on."

Less than two months later, the Department of Education announced plans to phase out those schools and use the space to expand two Harlem Success academies.

Now to the present time and her growing power over public schools.

NYC: Public School Principals Given 24 Hours to Clear Space for Eva’s Charters

Only one charter chain gets special treatment in New York City, and that is Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies.

Principals have beenr told they had 24 hours to clear and clean the space where her schools will co-locate rent-free. The city hired hundreds of workers to get the space in order.

The 1 million children who attend public schools are second-class citizens.

Eva’s 7,000-10,000 students are extra-important and privileged. After all, Eva not only gets free public space, she may expand and kick out kids with disabilities if she wishes. Her billionaire friends on Wall Street control the legislature. She can hold a dinner and raise over $7 million on a single night.

More about this from another source:

Principals Given Just 24 Hours to Make Way for New Success Academy Schools

Since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, the charter chain didn't seem to have an ally in City Hall. During his mayoral campaign, de Blasio criticized co-locations and charter networks receiving free space in city schools, singling out Moskowitz's chain.

In February, as mayor, de Blasio nixed plans for three Success Academy schools to share space at city schools. But when Gov. Andrew Cuomo later backed Moskowitz and charter schools, de Blasio reversed course and found room for the three Success Academy schools in former Catholic schools.

Cuomo and the state Legislature also put provisions in the state budget requiring the city to provide charter networks with rent-free space at public schools or pay most of the cost of space at a private location.

The very nerve and arrogance of these "reformers" (privatizers) whom Arne has enabled with his policies angers me so much. I quit trying to justify these attacks on public schools long ago. Just to think of the powers in DC deliberately undermining our traditional public school system makes me ill.

And to show Arne Duncan's ignorance about unions and their voices...all we need to do is read about his response to the NEA calling for him to resign. He had the nerve to say that he did not involve himself in "local union politics". The NEA is a national teachers' union. Either he knows that and doesn't care.....or he doesn't care enough to find out about it before responding.

That awkward moment

Posted by madfloridian | Mon Jul 7, 2014, 02:24 AM (5 replies)

Something seriously wrong when a Baptist pastor tweets insults to liberals re Hobby Lobby.

On July 4th he was quoted by the Burbank leader as having said this on Twitter.

On Twitter, Pastor Nick Reed of the Victory Burbank Church, said he had difficulty finding a spot due to the shoppers inside Hobby Lobby, not protesters outside. He said by 12:30 p.m., only about 10 protesters remained.

"I am sorry liberals have nothing better to do on July 4th," he Tweeted, ending with the hashtag #getalife.

Here is more from his Twitter feed that I found tonight:

Nick Reed @NickReedLA · Jul 4

I find it funny how liberals try and marginalize themselves with lies and exaggerated statistics!

Replied to 0 times

Burbank, CA
Nick Reed @NickReedLA · Jul 4

One protesters sign says "no bigotry in burbank" aren't they being a bigot by protesting a company that is exercising their belief!?

I grew up Southern Baptist. Now I am not part of that church. But I do know that I never knew them to be against birth control until the last few years. Al Mohler, head of the Southern Baptist Seminary, pushes the birth control is a sin theme.

And now another Baptist minister openly tweets insulting stuff about liberals protesting a company mixing their religion with lawsuits that will harm many women.

I do not think Jesus ever said anything about birth control being a sin. It is part of our modern way of life.

Gotta love this Florida mom. Supports teachers, slams TPTB for testing extremism.

She takes her kids out of public schools because of the experience of her 3rd grader with the new infusion of Common Core into the curriculum. She has been involved in the education of all of her 5 children, appreciates teachers, recognizes the true problems are coming from higher up sources.

First she wrote a letter to Governor Scott, Mr. Griffin, Mrs. Stewart, David Simmons, Karen Castor Dentel, Mr. Agosto and Mrs. Brouillard and Seminole County School Board Members. She posted it at her personal blog. By a few weeks ago it had over 150,000 views, and most were totally supportive.

The 2nd link is from the Tampa Bay Times with a video and an interview.

From her blog:

Why I am pulling my kids from public elementary school: a letter to the powers that be.

You see, I’ve been okay with FCAT…show what you know, I get it….some sort of accountability. That was until this year. My third grade son, Jackson, the fourth of my four boys has had mostly As, a scattering of Bs through his Bear Lake career, much like his brothers. However, he has had the Discovery Education tests added to his school year. I saw his score on DE in first grade and it was scary low, in the 20s. But he had 1s and his teacher said that she knows him and he was doing fine with nothing to worry about. Same thing in 2nd grade, though, knowing that FCAT was looming, I began to panic a bit. We read out loud together each night through the summer, talked about the books as we read and I believed that that would pay off on the first DE test of 3rd grade because he was doing really well. I was wrong. His first DE test was similar to others but now his teachers start panicking because their pay depends on it. He is sent to remedial LEAP and ultimately a math pullout group. All the while, he has mostly As and a few Bs.

....Shouldn’t I, as a 40 year old mom with an education degree, whose current job is to write instructional lessons for adults, be able to take a test for 8 and 9 year olds in a matter of minutes without thought or “oh, wait, that’s not right?!” moments? Yes, I should, but that was not the case. If I can defend how two answers are correct on a question, then the test is flawed.

I haven't seen the new test from Pearson, but I taught the 4th grade when FCAT began. I also could see problems that seemed to have a couple of answers, some that seemed to have none at all.....my test monitors later told me they were stymied.

Why should we have felt that way? Something wrong there....the Mom is right.

Jackson’s brothers had 4s and 5s on all their FCATs, perhaps a 3 thrown in here and there. All of which I accepted without hesitation. FCAT was no big deal in our house. They’re smart boys, we are involved parents, they have no stress, their lives are good. But now I pause. Did Carson not make it into GEMS because of an inverse operation problem that my mother-in-law, the former LBHS Pre-Calculus teacher, said was flawed on the 3rd grade test? The problem that my husband, a Georgia Tech graduate, said that there had to be a typo because the right answer wasn’t there? On a THIRD grade problem? Suddenly I want to see my kids tests, see where they went wrong, see what they did right, but parents aren’t afforded that option and neither are teachers. If the test is truly a good indicator of student ability, then the parents and teachers should be able to see the actual test and the student work to help the students moving forward?

She found a item on practice tests and had her 10th grade gifted son read it. She tried to find the grade level, but she was surprised.

I typed the whole thing into a grade and reading level decoder and it averaged at 10th grade with all its indicators. For my 8 year old. In fact, I gave it to my “gifted” 10th grader to read and he looked at it for a minute and tossed it aside because he didn’t want to have to really think for the 3rd grade work.

She puts the blame on the testing atmosphere where it belongs.

The test emphasis is coming from the higher-ups, the State and Federal Government (that’s another topic all together). I get it. I do not blame the school or the county. Obama’s “Race to the Top” dictates these tests and Common Core through funding. But education is not a race – it is a journey – why must we hurry it along?

In June she was asked to contribute to the Tampa Bay Times. There is a good video there of the mother speaking.

Why I'm pulling my kids out of public school (video)

This post is a condensed version of her original letter, but it gives a chance to post something important from it.

This brings us to the elephant in the room. Common Core, or the Florida Standards which are aligned to Common Core. The materials remain the same. Jackson has the same text books as his cousin in California. It all sounds great. It is nice that kids can move on a Friday from New Jersey and go to school in California the following Monday and pick up right where they left off. And every kid will be career and college ready at the end of high school and all on the same page? SIGN ME UP.

It sounds fantastic when you gloss over it like that. But let's really look at our implementation of Common Core. I've seen it first hand with my third grader this year. Jackson's first- and second-grade lessons were based on the older curriculum. This year a new curriculum is thrown in. Teach it with "fidelity," Seminole County tells teachers — that means that they used only the Pearson materials (you know, the Pearson that has spent nearly $4.4 million in lobbying in recent years) and only Pearson materials, for the first 12 weeks of the school year. And get this, then we'll use the FCAT 2.0 which is aligned with the former standards to decide if this group of third graders is worthy of fourth-grade placement.

Only Pearson materials for the first 12 weeks? And yes, they did give the old FCAT test at the end of the year which had nothing to do with the new Common Core curriculum they were learning. Wow, that is really good planning on the part of the county.

Today's public school atmosphere is all about accountability and not about the actual needs of the child. Not everything in education can be quantified. Teacher pay is being affected by those factors, factors that they cannot control. Art and music teachers are being "graded" on how well the kids who come to them once every seven days do on their math and language arts FCAT. That is nonsense.

The goal of education is to foster the child's fullest potential. I'm lucky, I guess. My kids generally do fit into your perfect little box because they pass tests, they never get into trouble, they will do "fine" at whatever curriculum you throw at them. But I want them to be excited about some aspects of learning, I want my kids in high school to take some classes because the topic interests them without the threat of failing a standardized test associated with an elective.

I think I love this lady. I had a few like her when I was teaching....they helped me survive the punitive kind of administration the last several years before I retired.

Posted by madfloridian | Sat Jul 5, 2014, 06:10 PM (6 replies)
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