Thursday, October 28, 2010

It is 9:44 PM on Nov. 2nd, 2010

In the last year, during my first year as President of the Walled Lake Education Association, I can not think of ONE issue we have had to deal with that wasn't in some way connected to decisions made by our State's legislature and governor!
The LOSS of funding - 20J and per pupil funding.
RACE TO THE TOP and legislation that is going to change the way you are evaluated and paid.
The 3% TAX you pay above and beyond your regular state taxes.
LAYOFFS due to funding.
CLASS SIZES due to funding!
Giving back pay raises!
Increased health care co-pays!
Fill in the blanks: _____ ______ ______ _____ ______ ______ _____

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

A former advocate of the No Child Left Behind Act concludes the policy was wrong!

I thought EA Members everywhere might find this interesting!!!!! Just to remind you, Diane Ravitch was the Assistant Secretary of Education during George H.W. Bush's presidency!
FROM: - "The Year in Sanity" - This group is "celebrating great acts of clear thinking".

Commentary by Emily Holleman

It's hard to admit you were wrong. It's even harder to admit you were wrong in publicly backing the largest educational reform bill in a generation. So, it's all the more impressive that Diane Ravitch not only acknowledged that she had made a mistake by advocating the No Child Left Behind Act, but also wrote an entire book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education," about just how misguided that policy was.

Ravitch, who served as the assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush and became an early and vocal supporter of his son's 2001 plan, made a name for herself touting the conservative pillars of educational reform: choice and testing. As recently as 2005, she praised the No Child Left Behind Act, writing, "All this attention and focus is paying off for younger students, who are reading and solving mathematics problems better than their parents' generation."

But then Ravitch did something few of us ever bother to do -- she researched the issue in depth and came to the realization that her views were incorrect. Earlier this year, Ravitch said on NPR, "I was known as a conservative advocate of many of these policies. But I've looked at the evidence and I've concluded they're wrong. They've put us on the wrong track. I feel passionately about the improvement of public education, and I don't think any of this is going to improve public education."

When she spoke to Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams in March, Ravitch explained why those appealing ideas of "choice" (vouchers and charter schools) and "standards" (testing) are bad things: "You create a mentality that private education is good, and public education is bad. What's the long-term result? Look at New Orleans, where over 60 percent of the kids are in charter schools. The schools are basically in the hands of private entrepreneurs, who may or may not have the best interests of kids at heart."

By admitting her mistakes and fighting against the now-popular concepts she long championed, Ravitch displays a quality rarely seen in public life: a true dedication to education that trumps allegiance to any particular ideology.

Click on the following phrase to read Ravitch's commentary on NPR and her book:
"The Death and Life of the Great American School System"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Waiting for Superman" - NEA Response

"Waiting for Superman", the movie, examines the state of education. It is being shown at a special invitation only screening at the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak tonight. It will open to the general public on Friday.

The National Education Association’s reaction to the Film -

Who: This film was made by “Inconvenient Truth” producer Davis Guggenheim. It features footage of NEA President Dennis Van Roekel from NEA’s Representative Assembly, as well as extensive interviews with AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Why: Guggenheim says he made “Waiting for Superman” to encourage the same level of national discourse on public education that “An Inconvenient Truth” generated on climate change. NEA and its state and local affiliates welcome others to the same discussion we’ve been having for years. In an effort to encourage a more thoughtful and thorough discussion, Association leaders have agreed to participate in panel discussions following film screenings.

Thoughts and General Comments from the NEA: ( I will paraphrase the entire report. )
The NEA contends that the film over simplifies complex issues. It lacks depth and factual, research-based analysis. It has also missed the opportunity to shed light on the good that is happening in our public schools. Waiting for Superman says important things about the challenges of public education, but it over simplifieses complicated issues by saying “charters are good” and “teachers unions are bad”. It lumps all schools together. ALL SCHOOLS are NOT the same. Public education is a shared responsibility, but this film is divisive rather than collaborative.

The film glosses over the negative effects of the Bush-era reforms (NCLB), ignoring the impact on students with disabilities and any negative effects of the testing mania. It promotes charter schools as the “silver bullet” to improve public education, even as it admits that only one charter school in five is more effective than a traditional public school.

The NEA says “Waiting for Superman” has SUPER MYTHS:

Super Myth #1: Teacher unions are “bad”, but teachers are “good”. Teacher unions are made up of members who are educators and the film doesn’t interview any superintendents that have a collaborative relationship with their union.

Super Myth #2: Charter Schools are a magic, silver bullet solution. Charter schools are one solution, but schools across the country are benefitting from a range of exciting, new ideas. Rick Hess, education commentator, American Enterprise Institute says, “These flicks accelerate the troubling trend of turning every good idea into a moral crusade, so that retooling K-12 becomes a question of moral rectitude in which we choose sides and “reformers” are supposed to smother questions about policy or practice. They also wildly romanticize charters, charter school teachers, and the kids and families, making it harder to speak honestly or bluntly.”

To read the NEA’s entire reaction to the film, CLICK HERE: