John Kuhn is one part story teller, one part evangelist and one part passionate champion of public education. Through personal narrative, historical reference, sound research and righteous indignation he lays waste to the corporate education reform movement in his compelling new book. What I love about Kuhn's writing is that his well told stories and carefully cited sources give way at times to bursts of passionate advocacy that have the reader, at least this life-long educator, primed to storm the beaches of the Gates Foundation or the Halls of Teach for America if necessary, to do what is right by children, teachers, parents and public education.
Ohio sends $1 billion every year out of its public education budget to charter schools and vouchers. According to Doug Livingston at the Akron Beacon-Journal, Ohio’s charter schools and their sponsors are so poorly regulated by the state legislature that the private companies hired by nonprofits to manage their charter schools have been known to recruit (and fire) members of the boards whose responsibility it is to oversee and regulate the management companies. “In Ohio, charter schools are required to satisfy strict federal guidelines as nonprofit organizations under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue code, including board autonomy. If the board is not independent of the company, the IRS is supposed to throw up a red flag. But state law allows private companies to throw out non-profit boards that challenge them.” White Hat Management is known for such practices.
Worrying is not my thing. That’s my wife’s department. And she’s really good at it. She tells me I am a Pollyanna, an unrealistically optimistic person, and for the most part, she’s right. But, I’m worried!
Even though this blog is mostly about the spleen ventage, I do make it a point to remember the Good Parts, too. So here, for your Sunday night (or Monday morning or Wednesday afternoon or whenever your Up could use some Pickme), here are the five most positive posts from Curmudgucation (so far). I know that irony is often my stock and trade, but for these posts, I'm not kidding!
(Guest Post by Sarah Lahm) A teacher wreaks havoc upon her students’ college-and-career readiness by denying them the test prep they’ve come to expect…
In a shocking display of misplaced priorities and poor judgment, a teacher in [INSERT NAME OF CITY OR TOWN HERE] made an irreparable error this week. Instead of *teaching to the test,* as she had been subtly, yet repeatedly, instructed to do, this teacher committed the unforgivable sin of teaching her students about the test. This shocking breach occurred in the middle of what used to be known as April but will hence forth and forever be known as National High Stakes Testing Month
Last week this blog reviewed the concept of “portfolio school reform” as it is being practiced in Chicago, New York City, and Newark. It is a theory promoted actively by the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, which posts a map of the school districts identified formally as its network of portfolio school districts.
Last week’s post on this blog did not cover one school district prominent on the Center’s map, a district where controversy over portfolio school reform is roiling—Philadelphia. The controversy spilled over this month into a panel discussion at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), which was holding its annual meeting in Philadelphia. Local activists involved in the portfolio school reform debate had been invited to be part of AERA’s panel.
“We teach the children of the middle class, the wealthy and the poor,” explains Anthony Cody, continuing:
We teach the damaged and disabled, the whole and the gifted. We teach the immigrants and the dispossessed natives, the transients and even the incarcerated.
In years past we formed unions and professional organizations to get fair pay, so women would get the same pay as men. We got due process so we could not be fired at an administrator’s whim. We got pensions so we could retire after many years of service.
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.
Private operators want our tax dollars
Parents whose children attend the public schools in Wisconsin have been getting a barrage of phone calls lately offering "free tuition to send your child to a private or religious school."