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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 06:58 PM
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How Do Charter Schools Succeed? By Cutting Loose Students Who Aren't Good Enough

To the degree that charter schools appear to do better than real public schools, this is why: they can kick kids out.

It works the same way in entirely public magnet schools: because students have to go through an application process, no matter how pro forma, they are more motivated to be there.

At the magnet high school I attended, there were few discipline problems, and nearly all could be cleared up with a sign from the vice principal saying, "If this behavior keeps up, I guess we'll have to send you back to your neighborhood school."

The teachers at that school were no different from neighboring high schools and in fact were rotated in from and out to them. But being able to jettison the "bad apples" made all the difference.

But just because those kids are not a problem at the magnet or charter doesn't mean that they leave society. They still need to be educated, or we will be paying a lot more to take care of them later in life.

Which is why we need to end this corrupt, corporate-driven education "reform" as soon as possible.

How do these lucky few rise? The charter doesn't have better teachers. In many cases the charter doesn't have a single pedagogical technique or instructional program that is a bit different from its public school counterparts. What it has is a concentration of students who are supported, committed, and capable.

Those students are able to rise because the school, like the pilot of a hot air balloon, has shed the ballast, the extra weight that is holding them down. It's left behind, abandoned. There's no plan to go back for it, rescue it somehow. Just cut it loose. Let it go. Out of sight, out of mind. We dump those students in a public school, but we take the supplies, the resources, the money, and send it on with the students we've decided are Worth Saving.

This may be why the charter model so often involves starting over in another school-- because the alternative would be to stay in the same school and tell Those Students, the ones without motivation or support or unhindered learning tools, to get out. As those students were sent away so that strivers could succeed, it would just be too obvious that we are achieving success for some students by discarding others.

The ballast model is an echo of a common attitude about poverty. If you are poor, it's because you chose badly, because you didn't try hard enough, because you don't have grit, because you lack character, because you deserve to be poor. Insert story here of some person who was born poor and use grit and determination and hard work to become successful, thereby proving that anyone who is still poor has nobody to blame but himself. Just repeat that narrative, but instead of saying "if you are poor" say "if you are a poor student."



It's disturbing to hear even some Democrats trot out old lies to justify their support for the Iraq War, particularly the "bad intel" one, when whether Saddam Hussein had nukes is irrelevant to whether we should invade.

The real question that should have been asked over and over again was "EVEN IF every piece of cooked intel was true and Saddam had or sought nukes, why would he commit suicide and take his whole country with him by using it on us or Israel?"

You could certainly make the case that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, even evil, but he did not get and keep power by being an idiot.

CIA director at the time, George Tenet was forced to say as much:

But in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA director George Tenet also said the likelihood of Iraq launching an unprovoked attack on the United States was "low".


That is true because the United States has THOUSANDS of nukes to retaliate with, and we are the only country in the world to have ever used them. Even when the Soviet Union had as many or more nukes than us, they dared not use them because whatever damage they did, we would still have more than enough to strike back. Saddam Hussein would know all that.

Likewise, Israel has HUNDREDS of nukes, and while they haven't used any, it's not hard to imagine them doing so in retaliation given their history of attacking their neighbors (including Iraq) when they thought it was in their interest. Saddam would certainly consider that since Israel attacked an Iraqi nuclear plant while he was in power.

For those same reasons, neither Saddam not any other state leader would be willing to give or sell nukes to terrorists. Once the weapon is out of their hands, they would have zero control over how it was used, and if it was used, since terrorist don't typical have a return address, we would strike whoever gave it to them. And if we didn't know, our government would hit whoever we SUSPECT gave it to them (or whoever is next on our shit list).

Saddam Hussein would know all that too, especially since we were doing that shit list trick to him with 9/11 before we invaded.

Everyone in Congress old enough to remember the Cold War did not need to be privy to any secret intelligence or told directly that Saddam didn't have those weapons or even that if he did, he would not be a threat to us.

They just had to remember why we didn't have a nuclear war in their lifetime.

Anyone in Congress who says otherwise is either lying or they are so corrupt, they don't care what the truth is anymore.

Which version of bin Laden's death do you believe?

Given Seymour Hersh's new account of bin Laden's death, that makes at THREE least superficially plausible stories of how he died.

Which do you believe?

Obama missed a great opportunity to kill the War on Terror if Hersh story true

If Sy Hersh's story is true, bin Laden wasn't "protected" by guards; the guards were there to keep him from escaping.

Since we negotiated with Pakistan for the right to get him, we could just as easily have taken him alive.

One photo of him in jail cell would have broken the spell of the War on Terror, the way the first photo of the Unabomber or Peruvian Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman caged like an animal did for both of those shadowy terrors did.

Additionally, a live bin Laden could have been interrogated about which states funded and helped him with the 9/11 attacks and the like.

Instead, Obama chose the path that would cause the least ripples in the War on Terror:

Kill him.

Claim victory.

No photos.

SALON: Education “reform’s” big lie: The real reason right has declared war on our public schools

The profound corruption and failure of corporate-driven K-12 education reform is getting more and more attention in the media.

Even grassroots CONSERVATIVES chafe at the Common Core scam that is more about standardizing curriculum so vendors don't have make different textbooks for different states (and so Pearson can profit from selling materials and tests based on it).

I would like to send my kid to public schools, but my wife is a public school teacher who sees first hand the overcrowded classrooms, the narrowing of the curriculum to a cult-like focus on "the test, the results of which are used to punish teachers and schools rather than give them the resources they need to succeed. Because she sees that, my wife absolutely refuses to send our child to public school, and I have to agree.

So we spend money we could be using to buy a house or save for our child's education to send her to a private school.

This is insane. Congress and our Democratic president have so deformed our public schools that they can't do their job.

If the Democratic Party doesn't change course and admit this policy is a colossal failure, they could well see an American Syriza rise up on their left, and do to them when the Republicans did to the Whigs 150 years ago.

Reform (noun): a policy that is designed to undermine the effectiveness of a public institution in a way that generates private gains.

Reform (verb): to make something worse.

When did reform become a dirty word? Thirty years of education reform have brought a barren, test-bound curriculum that stigmatizes students, vilifies teachers, and encourages administrators to commit wholesale fraud in order to hit the testing goals that have been set for them. Strangely, reform has gone from being a progressive cause to being a conservative curse. It used to be that good people pursued reform to make the world a better place, usually by bringing public services under transparent, meritocratic, democratically governed public control. Today, reform more often involves firing people and dismantling public services in the pursuit of private gain. Where did it all go so wrong? Who stole our ever-progressing public sector, and in the process stole one of our most effective words for improving it?

At least so far as education reform is concerned, the answer is clear. The current age of education reform can be traced to the landmark 1983 report A Nation at Risk, subtitled “The Imperative for Educational Reform.” Future dictionaries may mark this report as the turning point when the definition of reform changed from cause to a curse. In 1981 Ronald Reagan’s first Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell appointed an 18-person commission to look into the state of US schools. He charged the commission with addressing “the widespread public perception that something is seriously remiss in our educational system.” The commission included 12 administrators, 1 businessperson, 1 chemist, 1 physicist, 1 politician, 1 conservative activist, and 1 teacher. No students or recent graduates. No everyday parents. No representatives of parents’ organizations. No social workers, school psychologists, or guidance counselors. No representatives of teacher’s unions (God forbid). Just one practicing teacher and not a single academic expert on education.


Has any Democrat promised or tried to take public ed policy away from 1%?

My wife and I are both educators, and she is a K-12 teacher, so we know pretty intimately the policies the 1% are forcing on our public schools: narrowed curriculum to fit the test (and the 1% sell the texts, software, and tests), then using those test results as an excuse to close schools, and replace them with scam charter schools that they also profit from.

All the while the 1% are demanding nothing of the sort from the schools they send their children to.

Most public school teachers want to do a good job but their hands are tied by top-down curriculum, and politicians who bitch about schools but won't mandate smaller classes or more social services, which might require them to raise taxes on their 1% patrons.

Obama is clearly behind this policy, and I haven't read anything from anyone in the Senate who has called this "education reform" what it really is an attempt to make education a cash cow for contractors who will make generous kickbacks to those who give them the contracts.

Who is opposing this in a position of power?

We have our kid in private school to avoid the overcrowded classes, mindless drills for test, and PUBLIC announcement of individual test scores, but we can barely afford it. Keeping her there will probably preclude saving for her college or us ever buying our own home.

The candidate who bluntly calls this the corrupt, crony serving policy it is and pledges to end it will get my support, as well as most teachers and a lot of parents across the political spectrum who are sick of this.

Petrodollar and aggressive push for clean energy: is it possible to have both?

I'm wondering if it's possible for a president to do much more on switching to clean energy than Obama has done as long as our dollar is propped up by oil being traded in dollars.

Wouldn't going all out to eliminate fossil fuels through a major monkey wrench in our monetary policy?

I'm not defending Obama or petrodollar recycling, but if people don't know how big the obstacles are to solving a problem, they're not going to bring a big enough ladder.

We should call fracking ecoterrorism

At the very least it would muddy the waters.

Dumb question on Iran: what DOESN'T nuclear nonproliferation treaty do that we want from Iran?

that's all.

another way to BOYCOTT standardized testing & corporate driven education reform

In the face of corporate and sports boycotts, Indiana's governor has scrambled to amend their "Religious Freedom" law that is really intended to allow businesses to refuse to serve the LGBT community, and Arkansas's Republican governor has just announced he will boycott a similar bill when it comes to his desk.

This is no small concession for Republicans. Distaste for gays and appeals to the religious right are how they drive their base of voters to the polls, especially when their other policies of endless war and free rein to corporate criminals isn't playing so well.

Public school educators are faced with an ongoing assault on our freedom to teach our students based on our training and experience and are instead being handed a script written by hedge fund managers that conveniently requires that we teach and test and grade using materials that they have invested in and will profit from. And when the test results are declared a sign of failure, rather than investing more tax dollars in lower student-teacher ratios, social workers, and other programs to make the school a success, those same hedge fund managers demand the school be closed and replaced with a for-profit charter school or turned over to a for profit education management company that they will also profit from.

Needless to say, decent pay and job security for teachers would cut into those profits, so we must be reduced to the equivalent of tour guides, mindlessly parroting the script they write for us, rather than thinking on our feet and tailoring our lessons to what works and doesn't with a particular group of students.

Educators are resisting by refusing to administer the tests, and encouraging parents to opt their children out of the tests, but this recent fiasco in Indiana and Arkansas shows we have another, probably even more powerful tool at our disposal: boycott.

Where teachers and administrators have any say in the buying of textbooks, software, and testing materials, they should block the purchase of those sold by backers of the corporate take over of public education. If they can't get around the testing requirements, then fight for open source materials developed by teachers themselves that won't give our tax dollars to those trying to privatize our schools.

While K-12 teachers and administrators might have limited flexibility in these matters, they have a potential ally that has almost unlimited flexibility with choice of materials: colleges and universities, especially those with teachers prep programs.

Many of those schools of education that train future teachers have seem a dramatic drop in enrollment because students can see the assault on teachers in the mainstream media and deciding not to dedicate their lives to getting a public beating.

Those who teach future teachers and those students who want to be teachers without being Wall Street's whipping boy might be very eager to take action to save their profession.

Likewise, professors and college instructors in other departments might be surprisingly easy to persuade to join in for a number of reasons:

  1. They know their students are being directly screwed by overpriced textbooks that are randomly rearranged and amended every year or two just enough that students can't use an old edition for their classes.

    Many instructors already rely on their own handouts and materials available freely online to do without commercial textbooks. This would simple be an incentive for more to do so.

  2. Professors and administrators are increasingly aware that the same investor class that wants to divert tax dollars from K-12 education to their own pockets have their eye on public higher education too, and are devising metrics of failure and even trying to close colleges the way they have K-12 schools.

    The hedge fund managers, their foundation, and astroturf citizens groups are even trying to drive the same stake into the heart of higher ed that they've already driven into K-12: common core.

  3. Professors don't want to teach at a McCollege any more than K-12 teachers want to teach at a McSchool.

  4. The concepts of boycott and divestment are hardly alien to college campuses. In the 80's, college students demanded their schools divest from and boycott apartheid South Africa, and today they are demanding divestment from fossil fuels--and getting it.

    And while not all will agree with cause, many are calling for a boycott of and divestment from Israel because of their dealings with Palestinians. It's unsettled the Israeli government enough that they have publicly responded to the movement.

If K-12 and higher ed teachers and administrators realize they face a common enemy they could unite, stop buying these companies products, demand that their retirement funds and school based foundations divest from them, and give our kids back the chance to get a decent public education WITHOUT Wall Street calling the shots AND taking a skim off our tax dollars spend on education.

Pearson, the company at the heart of Common Core, would be a good place to start.
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