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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 81,856

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

The 2 groups filing lawsuits in NY against teachers' due process are fighting each other.

Two women with separate lawsuits to challenge teacher tenure are at odds

A judge consolidated a pair of lawsuits challenging teacher tenure in New York on Thursday — but the two people behind the cases couldn’t be farther apart.

Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union, who filed the first legal action, made wild accusations Thursday against Campbell Brown, who filed the second.

“This is our lawsuit. We will not be bullied by Campbell Brown,” said Davids, who passed out fake dollars bearing Brown’s likeness at a bizarre press conference outside Staten Island Supreme Court.

Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News Mona Davids has filed a lawsuit seeking changes to teacher tenure, but she doesn't see eye to eye with Campbell Brown, who also filed similar legal action.

And the article is more favorable to Campbell Brown, which just illustrates the state of journalism lately. This is a news article, not an editorial.

Brown sought to stay above the fray. “Our view has always been, the more parents, lawyers and families supporting this effort, the better,” Brown said.

A group that gathered at the courthouse to support tenure said the mudslinging and lawsuits distracted from important issues.

Campbell Brown

More from Capitol New York.

Anti-tenure plaintiff attacks would-be ally Campbell Brown

A would-be alliance in the battle over New York's teacher-tenure laws fell apart Thursday, as parent-activist Mona Davids held a press conference to attack CNN anchor-turned-education reformer Campbell Brown.

The drama between Davids and Brown, who are each suing to invalidate the state's tenure laws, threatens to delegitimize their shared legal argument which has, at least on its face, a chance of succeeding considering the positive result for anti-tenure reformers in the Vergara vs. California case earlier this summer.

....Davids, head of a group called the New York City Parents Union, accuses Brown of trying to steal the spotlight and divert resources away from her case.

"Campbell Brown is is trying to reform her image and make herself relevant on the backs of black and Hispanic children, our children. This is our lawsuit," Davids said at a press conference where members of her group held up fake $100 bills with Brown's screaming face in the middle and signs that read "Campbell Brown does not speak for NYC parents."

The Parents Union which has formed nationwide is the group which pushed the Parent Trigger Act in which a group of parents can take over a school, decide which charter group will get the nod. Actually it was formed by charter school groups. (The parents risk losing their power when the charter group takes over, I fear.)

This is not a healthy situation for students or teachers or parents. But for those funders who back the lawsuits there is much profit at stake if unions have less power.

David Boies plans to strip teachers of due process rights state by state.

I can't begin to fathom how harmful it is to say teachers' due process rights harm civil rights. It is amazing how Boies and Campbell Brown and others are simply getting away with it...the media never questions it.

David Boies, eyeing education through a civil rights lens

David Boies, the superlawyer who chairs a group that is trying to overturn teacher tenure laws in New York and elsewhere, said Monday that his organization is not looking to take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court — at least not in the short run.

Well, thank goodness for that at least.

Last month, Boies became chairman of the Partnership for Educational Justice, a group founded by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown to challenge teacher tenure laws. The group says that tenure laws make it too costly and difficult to get rid of weak teachers and that poor students are saddled with the worst educators.

A similar group based in California — led by lawyers Ted Olson and Ted Boutrous, with whom Boies worked on the Supreme Court case regarding gay marriage — challenged and won a judgment in a Los Angeles court against that state’s tenure laws. The judge found that tenure laws violate students’ civil rights under the state constitution. The teachers union and Gov. Jerry Brown are appealing.

This is what he plans to do.

Boies said in an interview with The Washington Post that he is crafting a state-by-state strategy regarding teacher tenure because many state constitutions explicitly require the provision of an equal education to all public school students.

All these lawsuits against teachers' due process rights....a hearing before being fired...are putting the blame on teachers for ills that are not their fault at all.

I don't think I could have stood up for the rights of my students if I had not had a continuing contract behind me. That did not mean I could not be fired, but it meant that there had to be just cause.

I could give so many examples. This one stands out because of the child's suffering. A 2nd grader in my class years ago had serious kidney and bladder problems. Because of their religious views the parents would not take him to the doctor for treatment. We even worked out a way they could go now, pay later, but they instead had a violent reaction to our (guidance counselor and I) even talking to them about it.

They threatened to sue me, they were furious. I told them they would have to do what they had to do, but that their child was suffering. I told them of his daily embarrassments and tears. They were not even moved by it. I could take a firm stand because I had tenure (due process)...and even if the principal agreed with them there would have to be just cause. The principal in fact was running scared of a possible religious controversy, not sure how it would have gone.

We had to resolve it through child services.

So to Mr Boies, go ahead with your crusade against teachers' right to due process before being fired. You will probably win because the money, the power, and the media are all on your side.

But the children will have lost. Teachers will fear being advocates for children if they are in a tenuous position with an administration that wants no controversy.

Report: scrutiny lacking for Florida charter schools.

Report: scrutiny lacking for Florida charter schools.

NAPLES – Officials have shut down at least five schools run by the Richard Milburn Academy of Florida, yet the company has continued to operate and open new taxpayer funded campuses in this state.

Florida’s 622 charter schools are more likely than regular public schools to receive an A rating from the state but also more likely to fail, the Naples Daily News reported Sunday. In the last six years, Some 14,000 students have had to relocate to new schools, at times mid-year, as a result of these closings. Financial problems are the most common reasons for closure. Florida does not require upfront funding commitments for charter campuses to open.

Academic failures are the second most common cause. That was the case with most of the Richard Milburn schools. Two of its schools closed after administrators manipulated grades in Lee County. In the Tampa Bay area, two were shut down due to low academic performance, and one In Manatee County was closed after half the graduating class received diplomas despite lacking sufficient credits.

....Florida requires few qualifications for those serving on the charter governing boards of charter schools. These board members manage the tax dollars the schools receive. Once a contract has been given, neither county nor state officials have a say in a board’s makeup.

FL kindergarten teacher stands up to testing, FLDOE listens. No K-2 testing for now.

They are going to evaluate the situation. Maybe speaking out really does make a difference sometimes, even if we don't realize it.

Kindergarten teacher: ‘There is a good possibility I will be fired but…’

Susan Bowles sent a letter to the parents of her kindergartners.

She points out that K teachers evaluate and test already, just not the high stakes kind. She describes some of what is now required.

• FAIR testing – We have given the FAIR assessment in the past but this year it was revamped. It does provide useful information, but nothing significantly superior to what a typical kindergarten teacher would observe in her students. This year, it is more time consuming and more difficult. Kindergartners are required to take it on the computer using a mouse. (While testing a child last week, she double-clicked which skipped a screen. This little girl double-clicked three times and triple-clicked once. There is no way for the teacher to go back. Neither is there a way for the school administrator to go back and make a correction.) While we were told it takes about 35 minutes to administer, we are finding that in actuality, it is taking between 35-60 minutes per child. This assessment is given one on one. It is recommended that both teacher and child wear headphones during this test. There is no provision from the state for money for additional staff to help with the other children in the classroom while this testing is going on. If you estimate that it takes approximately 45 minutes per child to give this test and we have 18 students, the time it takes to give this test is 13 ½ instructional hours. If you look at the schedule, a rough estimate would be that it requires about one full week of instructional time to test all of the children. Our kindergarten teachers have been brainstorming ways to test and still instruct. The best option we have come up with is for teachers to pair up, with one teacher instructing two classes while the other teacher tests one-on-one. So now we are looking at approximately two weeks of true instructional time lost, because we cannot teach our curriculum, pulling small groups and targeting each child’s educational needs. FAIR testing is done three times a year.


A Florida parent, teacher, activist posts the letter from Bowles' superintendent.

From @gatorbonBC

Teacher Refuses, Florida DOE Responds. FAIR testing suspended statewide #Florida

If you think that you can’t make a difference, think again.

One teacher refuses and within a week, the Florida DOE responds.

K-2 Fair testing is suspended, statewide.

Nice. Thank you, Susan Bowles, Alachua County teacher, for taking a stand.

Way to go, Alachua County. Ya’all make a Gator proud.


She includes the letter her superintendent wrote.

And to their credit, the Florida Department of Education paid attention.

Florida suspends a controversial exam as debate widens over school testing

Education commissioner Pam Stewart ended the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading, known as the FAIR test, in kindergarten through second grade. In its place, teachers will observe children's reading abilities in a more informal setting than the online exam, which recently suffered glitches.

Stewart announced the change in a memo to superintendents.

"It's amazing," said Susan Bowles, the Alachua County kindergarten teacher whose widely publicized refusal to administer FAIR this fall sparked the state's move. "I am very grateful that they have seen that the test was not a good thing for children."

Unlike other tests, FAIR is used solely to monitor students' progress and has no impact on school grades or funding. But Bowles and other advocates expressed hope that the next step would be a wider discussion about testing in Florida schools.

..."She took a real act of courage," said Bob Schaeffer of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. "Sometimes you need that person to say, 'I won't cross that line, I won't get off your bus, I won't administer your test.'"

Stunning WWII photos, pre-war to post-war. 20 sections. The Atlantic 2011.

I have seen some pictures from this 20 piece retrospective, but I have never seen it as a whole. Awesome pictures, tragic ones, it would be easy to spend a day absorbing it all.

I remember Life Magazine carried some of the pictures like these of the Holocaust after the war, but no one talked much about it. It was too horrible to imagine. Frankly I never heard of places like Manzanar and other Japanese internment camps until just a few years ago.

World War II in photos. A Retrospective in 20 parts.

World War II is the story of the 20th Century. The war officially lasted from 1939 until 1945, but the causes of the conflict and its horrible aftermath echoed for decades in both directions. While feats of bravery and technological breakthroughs still inspire awe today, the majority of the war was dominated by unimaginable misery and destruction. In the late 1930s, the global population stood at approximately 2 billion. In less than a decade, the war between the nations of the Axis Powers and the Allies resulted in some 80 million deaths -- killing off about 4 percent of the whole world.

This series of entries was published weekly on TheAtlantic.com from June 19 through October 30, 2011, running every Sunday morning for 20 weeks. In this collection of 900 photos spread over 20 essays, I tried to explore the events of the war, the lives of the people fighting at the front and working back home, and the effects of the trauma on everyday activity. These images still give us glimpses into the experiences of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, moments that shaped the world as it is today.

Here are 4 pictures from different sections.

Adolf Hitler, age 35, on his release from Landesberg Prison, on December 20, 1924. Hitler had been convicted of treason for his role in an attempted coup in 1923 called the Beer Hall Putsch. This photograph was taken shortly after he finished dictating "Mein Kampf" to deputy Rudolf Hess. Eight years later, Hitler would be sworn in as Chancellor of Germany, in 1933. (Library of Congress)

The Santa Anita Park race track is converted into an internment camp for evacuated Japanese Americans who will occupy the barracks erected in background in Arcadia, California. Photo taken on April 3, 1942. (AP Photo

A Japanese family returning home from a relocation center camp in Hunt, Idaho, found their home and garage vandalized with anti-Japanese graffiti and broken windows in Seattle, Washington, on May 10, 1945. (AP Photo)

Looking north from 44th Street, New York's Times Square is packed Monday, May 7, 1945, with crowds celebrating the news of Germany's unconditional surrender in World War II. (AP Photo/Tom Fitzsimmons)

Teacher: No longer can I throw my students to the ‘testing wolves’

Teacher: No longer can I throw my students to the ‘testing wolves’

Veteran teacher Dawn Neely-Randall and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown look at a post Neely-Randall wrote for The Answer Sheet about the reform movement. (Photo by Tom Traut)

Last spring, you wouldn’t find the fifth-graders in my Language Arts class reading as many rich, engaging pieces of literature as they had in the past or huddled over the same number of authentic projects as before. Why? Because I had to stop teaching to give them a Common Core Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) online sample test that would prepare them for the upcoming PARCC pilot pre-test which would then prepare them for the PARCC pilot post test – all while taking the official Ohio Achievement Tests. This amounted to three tests, each 2 ½ hours, in a single week, the scores of which would determine the academic track students would be placed on in middle school the following year.

In addition to all of that, I had to stop their test prep lessons (also a load of fun) to take each class three floors down to our computer lab so they could take the Standardized Testing and Reporting (“STAR”) tests so graphs and charts could be made of their Student Growth Percentile (SGP) which would then provide quantitative evidence to suggest how these 10-year-olds would do on the “real” tests and also surmise the teacher’s (my) affect on their learning.

Tests, tests, and more freakin’ tests.

Parents upset as well.

One parent sent me her district’s calendar showing that students would complete 21 mandated (K-3) assessments before a child would even finish third grade. When I asked an Ohio Department of Education employee about this, she insisted there were not that many tests. When I read them to her one by one from the district’s calendar, she defended her position by saying that some of them were not from her department, but from another one. “But it’s the SAME kid!!!” I told her.

Indeed, it sure seems that school just isn’t for children anymore.

Testing revolt brews in Florida as Miami schools chief urges delay in new exams

Testing revolt brews in Florida as Miami schools chief urges delay in new exams

In Florida, the state where former governor Jeb Bush (R) pioneered the use of high-stakes standardized tests for school “accountability” purposes, a testing revolt is unfolding.

Late last month, the Lee County school board voted to drop all state-mandated tests as an act of “civil disobedience,” though the vote was rescinded because of fear that students would suffer the consequences.

Then Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho (who was, incidentally, named the 2014 National Superintendent of the Year) blasted state testing policy and called for a delay in administering new high-stakes standardized tests across the state, saying in this statement:

The state must own and address over-assessment. Instructional time is too precious to spend it assessing students on duplicative measures. Assessment of students should serve the strict purpose of informing instruction, not simply provide a variable into a teacher’s performance evaluation formula, as is the case of the new state-mandated, district-designed end-of-course K-12 exams.

And the Florida School Boards Association has begun considering motions that would call on the state to change its testing policies.

Not just teachers fighting back. Administrators, principals joining the fray now. In fact as early as 2011 many NY principals starting protesting these policies.

658 NY school principals revolt against Obama's school policies.

As of last night, 658 principals around the state had signed a letter — 488 of them from Long Island, where the insurrection began — protesting the use of students’ test scores to evaluate teachers’ and principals’ performance.

It is hard to overstate how angry the principals who signed are. Mario Fernandez, principal of Stillwater High School near Saratoga, called the evaluation process a product of “ludicrous, shallow thinking.”

Katie Zahedi, principal of Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook in Dutchess County. said the training session she attended was “two days of total nonsense.”

“I have a Ph.D., I’m in a school every day, and some consultant is supposed to be teaching me to do evaluations,” she said. “It takes your breath away it’s so awful.”

Also from the link, the words from the principal of one of the highest ratest schools.

“It’s education by humiliation,” Mr. Kaplan said. “I’ve never seen teachers and principals so degraded.”

Eva will win. Money and power, and very friendly press.

NY teacher blogger calls out NBC4 News for charter school propaganda.

Those who rely on your newscast for information are most certainly not getting the full story.

I teach ESL students. My school takes just about every ESL student that walks through our doors, regardless of level. And if they know very little, they end up in my beginning class. How many beginning level ESL students do you suppose attend the Success Academies? Has it even occurred to you to ask? We also take kids with all sorts of special needs, including alternate assessment kids who we do not expect to graduate with Regents diplomas. How many of those kids attend the charters you filmed with such reverence?

When Eva Moskowitz accepts the same kids we do, when they stay for their entire scholastic careers, when she opens her books to the same audits we're subject to, then we'll have something to discuss.

Harlem charter school spent $1.3 million to advertise itself to the community.

The image of hundreds of black and Latino parents packed in an auditorium desperately hoping their child would "win" the lottery and get into a local charter school has assumed mythic status in media reports on education reform.

Two new two documentaries, "The Lottery" and "Waiting for Superman," made such events the emotional climax of their narratives. The former centered on Harlem Success, the charter network Schools Chancellor Joel Klein hails when he points to the demand for more charter schools.

But a Daily News review of Harlem Success financial reports suggests the network's huge backlog of applicants is the result of a carefully crafted Madison Ave.-style promotional campaign. In the two-year period between July 2007 and June 2009, Harlem Success spent $1.3 million to market itself to the Harlem community, the group's most recent financial filings show.

Taking over public school space without having to pay a penny.

Moskowitz moving her charter into yet another public school. Causing tensions in NYC

The "Eva" Empire has expanded to the Bronx, bringing a Harlem turf war for school space into the borough. Eva Moskowitz, the City Council member-turned-charter school CEO, has opened two new academies from her charter school franchise, Success Charter Network, inside Public School 30 in Mott Haven, and PS 146 in Morrisania. And Bronx Success Academies 1 and 2 are already ruffling feathers with district school staffers.

..."Staffers at the district schools say their new neighbors have booted them from classrooms and stairwells, while sharing the libraries, cafeterias and playgrounds.

...."Staffers at PS 30 say Bronx Success 1 sealed off the third floor to its staff and students - even taking over a stairwell - so Success students don't mingle with their district school neighbors.

"We are not allowed there," said one PS 30 teacher, noting the classrooms taken over by Success were formerly used for tutoring children with special needs. Now we have to do therapy sessions in the hallway."

Secret deals.

Sweet deals for Eva Moskowitz and her Success Charter schools, public kept in the dark.

Under the plan, the Success Charter Network, run by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, will see its management fee jump from $1,350 to $2,000 for each pupil enrolled at its five schools in the Harlem area.

..."The increase for the Success Network is being carried out in a stealth manner, as is an accompanying proposal to reorganize its five Harlem schools — Harlem Success Academy 1 to 5 — under a single nonprofit corporation, even though they are located in three separate community school districts.

.."Opponents claim the Success Network creams the best performing students from the public schools and foments neighborhood conflicts by always insisting on more space in public school buildings where its programs are located.

Test taking machines.

Charter school director: When "test day came, they were like little test-taking machines.”

The day before the scheduled math test, the city got socked with eight inches of snow. Of 1,499 schools in the city, 1,498 were closed. But at Harlem Success Academy 1, 50-odd third-graders trudged through 35-mile-per-hour gusts for a four-hour session over Subway sandwiches. As Moskowitz told the Times, “I was ready to come in this morning and crank the heating boilers myself if I had to.”

“We have a gap to close, so I want the kids on edge, constantly,” Fucaloro adds. “By the time test day came, they were like little test-taking machines.”

...They actually have a so-called Kindergarten boot camp.

New students are initiated at “kindergarten boot camp,” where they get drilled for two weeks on how to behave in the “zero noise” corridors (straight lines, mouths shut, arms at one’s sides) and the art of active listening (legs crossed, hands folded, eyes tracking the speaker). Life at Harlem Success, the teacher says, is “very, very structured,” even the twenty-minute recess. Lunches are rushed and hushed, leaving little downtime to build social skills. Many children appear fried by two o’clock, particularly in weeks with heavy testing. “We test constantly, all grades,” the teacher says. During the TerraNova, a mini-SAT bubble test over four consecutive mornings, three students threw up. “I just don’t feel that kids have a chance to be kids,” she laments.

Posted by madfloridian | Fri Sep 5, 2014, 08:26 PM (0 replies)

There are a lot of ways I could answer that.

In a way I agree that the concepts taught the new way are important ones. In fact in the primary grades I and many others used those methods.

But in the end there is the real world. So many students simply get lost in the maze of the new math that they end up thinking they don't understand something that could be done simply and quickly as in your example above of 32-12.

There is a fine line to walk unless the "old" way is presented so the "new" way challenged ones can get it and deal with it in real life.

Teachers don't mind standards, but they want "good" standards. Actually it is the testing they are demanding that is going to be destructive.

Some of the best students are not good test-takers. They read too much into the questions, they over think them.

With these new standards the non-educators are moving in with an overwhelming number of new tests to give. There will now be testing most of the year at many grade levels...EVEN Pre-K and Kindergarten.

AND that testing is not teacher made testing...it is testing made in secret by conglomerates like Pearson and graded secretly as well. If parents want to see a test to understand why a child fails a test....they might as well hire a lawyer up front.

The old way is still going to be needed in real life. Many children with disabilities can grasp the concrete thinking in involved in 32-12. But they can not dissect the problem like the new math requires.

What happened to individualized teaching? We were always taught to take the child where he is and then take him as far as he can go. Some can go a long way, some can not.

Arne can NOT just magically make all children capable of the same degree of learning. He is not God though he thinks so.
Posted by madfloridian | Fri Sep 5, 2014, 11:24 AM (0 replies)

We have allowed ed reformers to say weird untrue things about teachers and students.

And at many forums when we explain that their policies are wrong, we are told that everyone knows public schools are failing. Not true.

We are told that teachers have not been putting students first, so the reformers needs to step in and take over. Not true.

We have allowed this commentary to go on for too long. It's propaganda but it's gone on so long and so effectively that teachers are made to sound petty when they disagree. Public schools have not been failing, though there are some which need more resources to cope with the problems they face.

Most teachers are not "bad" or "lazy", most teachers are there because they care for the students and their needs.

Then there is the all pervasive meme that all students can succeed at the same level. Teachers have always been able to give students a chance at an even playing field, a chance to reach their highest potential. They can do that for students if they have resources to do so. It can't happen if policies continue to give tests which will be failed by many just because they are not able to take a test at that level....then after giving those tests they take away resources and give them to charter schools or private schools for vouchers.

The very latest unbelievably scary thing that Arne has said is that he thinks all students can succeed if they are given honor level classes and tests to prove they can do it. Hey snap your fingers, wave your wand...and suddenly no more below level students. That's a very faulty premise.

For some reason people find that stance of Arne's compelling....just push special needs students until they get it. It's like part of the remaining foolishness pushed by the zero tolerance believers.

Not every child will behave alike, not every child will or is able to do work at higher levels. This country was built on the virtue of individuality. People succeeding at different things, on different levels, having different abilities.

Imagine the harm being done to a child who has to struggle to perform life's everyday activities. Imagine the sense of failure that will be instilled.

The new policy of the US Department of Education is that no longer special needs children will be given modifications at test-taking time.

I asked how we let the reformers so this far, but I really do know the answer. If George Bush, whose policy this basically is, had tried to carry it this far....Democrats would have at once become the opposing party.

But now it is a movement supported by both major parties, and teachers have become the enemy.

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