Friday, December 30, 2011

If you pay peanuts, do you get monkeys?

If you pay peanuts, do you get monkeys?

Old and busted: Taking on a student teacher to help out a future educator and to benefit the teaching profession. New hotness: Scared to allow a student teacher to take over your classroom because it might cost you your job.

28 years old.... taught for 2 years, director of a farmers market for 5 months. Yep, that launched her career as an education expert. And now she is the Education Policy Director for the state of Alabama. But, but, but...she's a disciple of Michelle Rhee!

On a more personal note, I'd like to pay tribute to an educator who had a major influence on my life.  Coach John Lacava coached track, football, and baseball in addition to being a guidance counselor at the junior high school I attended in the mid-70's.

Three years ago at age 77 he was still going strong working for the school system when he sustained a traumatic brain injury after slipping on a patch of ice on his way into work.  Needless to say, that marked the end of his 50+ years as an educator.

Coach Lacava died this week.  His obituary can be read here.
May he rest in peace.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Finally... An Accurate Pie Chart

Newt Gingrich uses his cerebralness to pick an education advisor who has ZERO experience as a teacher.

The education system in the U.S. is behind other countries because we spend less time school. Wait, WHAT? That's not true????

12 Most Useful Ways Kids Can Learn With Cell Phones... In other news, devices banned from most schools can enhance student learning.

Something too serious for a smarmy headline...

Infographic of the Day: Is College Really Worth It? 

Picture of the day... A real pie chart.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Flying Cars and Solar System Chocolates?

Peter DeWitt asks the question of the century... "What Has Happened To Common Sense?"

"Students Are Bored"... Thanks Captain Obvious, and actually your ideas seem reasonable!

Warning male college students... A winning football team can be harmful to your grades.

School bus hit by flying car, no one inju...wait...WHAT??? FLYING CARS ARE FINALLY HERE???!!!

A great candy gift idea... Solar System Chocolates!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Links and a Snow Globe...

Should "too big to fail" also be too big to "contribute"?

OMG!!! An education reform group that includes ONE TEACHER!!! (out of 17 members) 

12 Things that are most likely not included on any teacher evaluation system.

The Mackinac Center asks "Can Schools Require Students To Purchase Wireless Devices?"... I asked the Mackinac Center if they would have a similar opinion if charter schools had the same requirement?

Picture of the Day:  The NRA Holiday Snow Globe: 

Monday, December 26, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas... Is today one of those 12 days?

Avoid the false dichotomy of the vocational OR academic track... That and 11 other great "Unschooling" rules...

The Top 5 Edu-speak Buzzphrases To Eradicate From Your Vocabulary ...

Ah yes....let's appoint a community college dropout as chairman of the Workgroup on School Quality...

WOW! Another school "reform" group that has zero teachers on their board of directors.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve, 2011

I wonder how the teachers at this school are evaluated?

The Republican party gets an early Christmas gift...or the real reason Republicans opposed the payroll tax cut extension.

15 worst gift ideas... noticeably missing - Chia Pets, Snuggies, and Mr. Microphone.

Twenty-three Christmas props and 30,000 lights: $1500; Telling your Homeowners Association and their $25 biweekly fine to stick it: priceless!

Bad gift idea #21:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Where is the outrage?

George Orwell would be proud. One year ago Congress defined unqualified teachers as highly qualified.

Leech for America, er I mean Teach for America, Inc. will receive $55,000 for each Ohio teacher it provides. (And no, that doesn't include the salary for the teachers.)

"'s not just a sport here: It's part of the culture and a big part of the community's identity. The district should pare down the curriculum before it cuts football." (If you guessed that quote was made in Texas, give yourself 100 bonus points.)

Bad gift idea #42:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's the First Day of Winter!

Teachers... add "Cyberbaiting" to the list of things to worry about.

Alabama was worrying about teachers getting gift cards from students while Pearson, the largest education publisher, could be trying to buy influence with education officials...

Reason #1037 why the current standardized testing craze for evaluting teachers is a bad idea.

What Lessons Do Military Base Schools Offer? (Hint: "GIMME 50 PUSHUPS JARHEAD!" is not one of them.)

And finally... Bad gift idea #57:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the Last Day of Autumn!

In School, Why Can't a Boy Be More Like a Girl?

Online Learning? Follow the money....

Education "Reform" in Idaho? Follow the money there also.

Professor, the tutiion for college is really expensive so why are people in India grading your papers?

Picture of the Day:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Back to Blogging?

Alrighty...I'm attempting to get a jump-start on my New Years resolutions, one being reviving my blog and updating it more often than I did in 2011.  Sometimes it might be a full rant, other times it might be a few links with a line or two of my commentary. 

Today's will be just the latter.

From "The Innovative Educator": 10 "Do’s" and "Don’ts" for more interesting and engaging social media updates
The Mackinac Center takes a voyage on the Failboat with this attempt at comparing teacher salaries.

Doing the math: Why putting yourself through college is so much harder today...

Skilled Workers Beat Out Degree Holders for Jobs

A great analysis of the Alabama Legislature's epic fail on restricting gifts from students to teachers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

NFL Football Players vs. Teachers?

Former NFL quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, opined recently in the Wall Street Journal an article titled: "What if the NFL Played by Teachers' Rules".

In his piece the three-time Superbowl quarterback attempts to use the comparison of the NFL football salary structure as a vehicle to support merit pay for teachers.

However, I have a few questions for "Mr. Tarkenton"....What if NFL players had to play under teaching conditions?

What if for every five hours of game time, pro football players were only given one hour of practice and preparation time?
What if pro football players had coaches who never had played the game themselves?
What if pro football players had to help provide security before and after the game plus during timeouts and between quarters?
What if pro football players had to structure their play based upon the opinions of pundits who had never played the game?
What if the evaluations and salaries of pro football players were based only on their statistics from one quarter of one game?
What if pro football players were told they had to change their playing techniques every year regardless how successful their current techniques had been?
What if pro football players had to change playing positions every few years and were not notified of what position they’d be playing until the day before the first game?
What if pro football players had coaches who spent most of their time in the locker room offices and only came out once or twice a year to watch them play in the game?  And then from the one or two observations the coach decided whether or not a player was any good?
Ponder these questions if you will Mr. Tarkenton, go spend a year in a school watching what REAL PROFESSIONAL TEACHERS do, and then see if you still think your football player/teacher comparison has any validity. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Teaching for the Stars

We’ve all heard of “Dancing with the Stars.  Perhaps now is a great time for a new primetime competition called “Teaching for the Stars”.
The contestants would be the “stars” of so-called education “reform”.  The judges would be recognized, award-winning teachers who have actual extensive classroom teaching experience.
My list of judges would include the following:
Nancy Flanagan – National Board Certified Teacher, 1993 Michigan Teacher of the Year, and blogger for Education Week.

Anthony Cody -  National Board Certified Teacher, Developer of the “TeamScience” program, and blogger for Education Week.
Marion Brady -veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author.
Lisa Velmer Nielsen – Technology Innovation Manager for the New York City Department of Education and creator of “The Innovative Educator” blog.
Renee Moore – National Board Certified Teacher, 2001 Mississippi Teacher of the Year, Carnegie Fellow and blogger for the Teacher Leaders Network.
 The contestants would include the following:
Michelle Rhee – Former Chancellor of Washington D.C. Public Schools.
Arne Duncan – U.S. Secretary of Education.
Bill Gates – Co-Founder of Microsoft and current Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Geoffrey Canada – CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone.
Eric Hanushek – Economist and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Kevin Huffman – Tennessee’s Education Commissioner and former Teach For America Vice President.
Jeb Bush – Former governor of Florida.
Tom Luna – Idaho’s Superintendent of Public Instruction and former President of the International Society of Weights and Measures.
Jeanne Allen - President of the Center for Education Reform.
Michael Van Beek – Director of Education Policy for the Mackinac Center.
Wendy Kopp – Founder and CEO of Teach For America.
The contestants will be assigned to teach for an entire school year and be given a full time class load teaching subjects that are relevant to their backgrounds.
During the school year, the contestants will develop a portfolio consisting of the following:
Student assessment. This portfolio item will contain evidence that the teacher is able to use student assessment to further worthwhile and appropriate learning goals, to facilitate students’ growth  in the subject matter, and to inform and shape his or her teaching practice.
A demonstration lesson.  This portfolio item will provide evidence the teacher is able to use explanation, demonstration, and discussion to facilitate students’ direct involvement in the exploration and acquisition of important knowledge and skills relevant to established standards for the subject being taught.  A 20 minute uninterrupted and unedited video will also be part of this portfolio item.
A group project. This portfolio item will provide evidence that the teacher is able to plan, implement, and guide student learning experiences that promote and develop student teamwork. A 20 minute uninterrupted and unedited video will also be part of this portfolio item.
A summarization of documented accomplishments. This portfolio item will provide evidence of the teacher’s ability to impact student learning through work with colleagues, professionals, families, and the community, and as a learner.
Each week during the hour-long show the judges will review closed-circuit videos of the contestants teaching their classes, and/or the other endeavors they participate in as a classroom teacher.
The judges each week would rate every contestant’s performance on a scale of 1 to 10 which would accumulate until the end of the series.  These weekly scores would account for 30% of the total score.
The final episodes of the show would provide an overview of the contestants’ portfolios and the judges ratings of the portfolios would account for 40% of the total score.
Finally, viewers will vote via the Internet or telephone for their “best” teacher and these votes would account for 30% of the total score.
The grand prize winner will receive a check for $37.48 to go toward their favorite education foundation.
The show will be co- hosted by Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post and by the infamous teacher satirist,  Mr. Teachbad.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why Not Honors Courses for All?

 Recently, Washington Post education columnist, Jay Matthews wrote a piece titled “Why not honors courses for all”?

The article generated many comments, (113 total) including a few of my own. 
(I used my “MisterRog” internet persona for my comments.)

My initial comment to Mr. Matthews’ idea included the following:

Why not career and technical education (CTE) courses for all?
Why not STEM courses (like Project Lead The Way) courses for all? 

In the CTE Pre-Engineering and CAD courses I teach, I see many "honor" students that struggle with applying knowledge from their "core" classes to projects that require thinking and creativity.

Perhaps it is time we reevaluate the "core" courses, how they are often taught in a vacuum, and what is really needed in our 21st century schools.
To which Jay Matthews himself responded:
These are good comments, and MisterRog raises an excellent question. Why not vocational and technical courses for all?

I have been reporting on this for a long time and it seems clear to the experts I have spoken to that the public education system is not equipped and will likely never be equipped to provide the kind of up to date, specialized training the employers need and want.

The businesses STRONGLY prefer that they do the technical training themselves, so they can keep up with rapid changes in procedures and equipment. They think the schools are equipped, however, if they take it seriously, to teach the academic skills that I mentioned in the piece---reading, writing, math, presentation and time management skills.
As a result, I posted a lengthy reply much of which featured a few excerpts from my testimony to the state board of education but also included:
Thanks for weighing in on my comment Mr. Matthews.

However, Career & Technical Education courses are much more than just providing specific skills and specialized training. As I alluded to in my earlier comment, CTE courses can give meaning and relevance to the "core" courses. 

Finally, the "experts" that participate in my program's advisory committee and other "experts" that I have met at industry conferences tell me that their best employees are the ones who had some type of technical training in high school.
In addition to my comments, a number of other readers posted additional comments in response to mine and taking Mr. Matthews to task for his.

shadwell1 wrote:
Jay, you are choosing to speak to the wrong "experts" and fail to report on any school that has an excellent vo-tech program. I sent you several links a while back; have you done any follow-up? Several vo-tech directors also informed you of the wonders of their programs. College credit, licensures, certifications, internships, job placements - all within the high school years. Open your eyes and ask the right people the right questions. I again challenge you to put out an APB of sorts to directors of excellent vo-tech programs and report your findings back to your readership and beyond.
mport84 wrote:
… Jay is speaking to the "experts" on vocational education his patrons send to him, and they are working on their project of destroying free public education services that compete with their online for-profit products. As a people, though, we can't afford to not-afford the things Jay's experts dismiss as too expensive. We have real kids with real lives.
 DHume1 wrote:
Jay seems to think that if we just challenged all kids, then they would rise to that challenge. And I do think some would rise if a few regular students were mixed in with those Honors kids.
However, once you have more than a few regular kids mixed in with those Honors kids, then it is no longer an Honors class; it turns into a regular college prep class with some Honors kids in it. In addition, there are whole groups of kids who learn at a much slower pace than traditional Honors students. What do we do with those kids? Let them fail in Honors classes? It would give them a head start in life--they would learn how to fail.
Mr. Matthews did not respond any further to that section of comments.

As for me, I am sticking by my gut reaction of it is time we reevaluate the "core" courses, how they are often taught in a vacuum, and examine what is really needed in our 21st century schools..

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Testimony to the Michigan State Board of Education

On Thursday, May 26, 2011 the Michigan State Board of Education hosted a public forum in Ann Arbor.  Below is the testimony I presented at the forum.

Members of the State Board of Education:

I first want to thank you for holding these public forums. It is a privilege to speak directly to you today.

I come today to speak on behalf of Career & Technical Education (CTE) and its viability within the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC).

When I first heard Superintendent Flanagan speak when the MMC was being considered, I was optimistic.  Mr. Flanagan spoke of the need to re-imagine the high school education and talked to not think about the MMC in terms of “courses” but in terms of credit.  He even gave one example specific to CTE regarding how Algebra “credit” could be obtained in a CTE class.

Now, however, as local districts and individual schools strive to standardize classes and strive to meet the demands of the MMC, it seems in many cases that the MMC has come to represent Michigan Merit COURSES!

Currently at the high school where I teach, I am witnessing the demise of a number of good, solid CTE programs.  Three years ago, our school employed five CTE teachers, last year we had four.  Now this year, we have only three.  The preliminary numbers for next year, indicate the need for only two CTE teachers.  This is in spite of an overall increasing enrollment in the school.

So I speak today not only as a teacher, but as a product of a high school CTE drafting program myself.

Early in high school I struggled with Algebra and Geometry.  But once immersed in my school’s drafting program, the math concepts I had struggled with started to make sense when used in ways that had meaning to me.

Even in college, as I majored in Industrial Education, I was fortunate to be in a program that stressed taking at least one or two classes in my major each term along with my required core courses.  Looking back, I strongly believe completing my undergraduate program in that manner gave meaning to my required core courses and was a major factor in my success as an undergraduate.

As a result, I can’t help but try to communicate the importance of having CTE classes as part of many students everyday high school experience to allow them to see the meaning and the relevance of their other courses.  My own son is an example.  He credits the CTE Robotics Program at Pinckney High School for enhancing his understanding of the core curriculum and today one year after being hired by Thetford Manufacturing, he is believed to be the youngest person ever to be selected as supervisor in the history of their Dexter Facility.

It is becoming more apparent every day, the idea of a bachelors degree as a guarantee to a successful career is no longer the guarantee it once was.  In addition, it is becoming apparent that the United States could soon be facing a shortage of skilled workers as CTE programs nationwide that provide such skilled training become fewer and much of the current skilled workforce is approaching retirement age.

Mike Rowe, of the Discovery Channel series “Dirty Jobs” recently testified to the U.S Senate Commerce Committee on this pending skilled labor problem.  His testimony included a number of important quotes but one related to the importance of CTE:

 “In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We’ve elevated the importance of ‘higher education’ to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled  ‘alternative.’ Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as ‘vocational consolation prizes,’ best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of ‘shovel ready’ jobs for a society that doesn’t encourage people to pick up a shovel.”
In addition, I believe many CTE programs play a vital part as a “college prep” class to many students.  For example, I have had many former students communicate to me how taking my drafting and/or CAD classes benefited them in college.
 Three examples include:
  •  A former student who studied architecture at Lawrence Tech has communicated to me how his drafting and CAD skills developed in high school gave him a distinct advantage over other students in the program that did not have those skills. 
  •  A former student who studied engineering at Georgia Tech, has mentioned to me numerous times how he feels his high school drafting classes turned out to be the most valuable class he took in high school or college. 
  •  A former student and graduate of Miami University’s architecture program has written to me how, because of the CAD experience she had in high school, she is among the most skilled CAD designers in her current firm and she believes that is a major reason she has been retained over other architects during the recession.
To conclude, members of the Michigan Board of Education, as you envision the high school merit curriculum I asked of you to seek out solutions to support and save the CTE programs across the state.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Khan Academy

I see the Khan Academy is getting much publicity and now some support from Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation.

Some people feel threatened by this technology. Perhaps it's not so much the technology, but the fear of how politicians and "reformers" might abuse this technology to downgrade the value of teachers.

However, I've been using my own self-made video tutorials in my classroom via the screen casting technology similar to Khan's since the 90's. I now mainly incorporate the videos into my Moodle courses but I've also started making some of my latest video tutorials available on a YouTube Channel.

But guess what? My students still need me as a teacher.

While the videos provide explanatio­ns and examples, once the students begin working on their activities they still need oversight and guidance plus they still have questions.

Their work still needs to be evaluated and graded. However, this tool has allowed me to give more individual­ized attention to students and has helped them to focus on the lesson.

I guess my point is that what Khan is doing is not really as revolutionary as the media portrays it to be plus I feel a bit discouraged that the media seems to focus on people that are not classroom teachers as the main drivers of "reform".

Your thoughts?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

MisterRogers Meets Charles Dickens

The following is a copy of my guest blog from April 7 featured on the "Education Week" web site.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..."
(With apologies to Charles Dickens.)
The opening of "A Tale of Two Cities"... Is there a better way to describe what is happening in education today? Let me explain.

I recently read an essay by an Oregon teacher of 34 years, "I Don't Want To Be A Teacher Any More." A number of teachers on Facebook posted the link in their status updates. While I read the essay and could relate to the issues of the author, my gut reaction, and my reply to status updates, was "But now more than ever is the time we have to want to be teachers".

Our students need us now more than ever. Parents need us now more than ever. We know we are right now more than ever. We must work together as educators to fix what is wrong with education and not allow politicians, philanthropists, and corporations to instill their baseless ideals on the America education system.

Yes, it is the worst of times. I am in my 29th year as a teacher and I cannot remember a time when the public attitudes toward teachers, media perceptions of teachers, and the political demands on teachers have been any worse than they are today.

However, it is also the best of times, because as teachers we have the facts on our side. We know those attitudes toward teachers are wrong. We know those perceptions of teachers are wrong. And we know the political demands on teachers are wrong. Research has now demonstrated over and over that these things are just plain wrong.

And yes, it is the age of foolishness. It is mere foolishness that the media gives credibility to Bill Gates and his many wild ideas on education reform without credible research. It is foolishness that the media fawns over big city chancellors such as Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, and Catherine Black, none of whom had any documented accomplishments of success as education reformers.

There is a reason those three chancellors were not given the title of superintendent... they did not meet the qualifications. It is foolish that Congress overrides the courts and grants "highly qualified" status to uncertified TFA teachers.

But yes, it is also the age of wisdom. The wisdom of proven research that has demonstrated merit pay systems for teachers based primarily around student achievement on standardized test does not work. The experience proving that real merit pay systems such as career ladders and bonus pay for National Board Certification are one of the first things to be cut when budgets are tight. The "wisdom" of Florida passing a merit pay program but providing no funding. It's just plain nonsense.

There's plenty of wisdom in research.The charter school concept that is all the rage with politicians and reformers has been shown to only be better than surrounding public schools 17% of the time. More than a third of charters deliver learning results significantly worse than their students would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools.

The concept of school vouchers has recently been scrutinized in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of the first and largest school voucher program experiment in the country. A recent study of Wisconsin state test results for the first time shows voucher students performing "similar or worse" than other Milwaukee students in poverty, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

While all of the wisdom of the research is being ignored and the foolishness of politicians, philanthropists, and corporations is being praised, teachers feel attacked, disrespected, and undervalued. What can teachers do?

Teachers must seek total solidarity. Teachers must remain vigilant knowing that they have the facts on their side. Teachers must make every effort to push back against the foolishness. 

They must counter the attacks rather than retreating. They must realize most of the disrespect only comes from people that don't know them or don't have a clue what they do. They must value themselves and each other.

There is a movie currently showing across the nation called "Limitless". The basic theme of the movie is its main character is given an experimental drug that unleashes his full inner potential and he goes on to do many miraculous things. However, the drug can be deadly and by the end of the movie he has discovered he had this limitless potential within himself without the use of the drug.

I believe as educators, we have a limitless potential within, just waiting to be discovered and now more than ever we need to find it.

When confronted with a difficult situation, I personally try to reflect on some of the most profound lyrics in popular music, written by Jack Tempchin and Bob Strandlund and sung by Glenn Frey of the Eagles:

"So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains... And we never even know we have the key."

So to my fellow educators, before I'm Already Gone, let us remember that we have the key. Let us discard these chains, let us take control of our profession and the education system of OUR country!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Oh Those Greedy Teachers

A local teacher wrote a letter to the editor that was published in today's Livingston Daily.

I couldn't help but respond with this tongue-in-cheek diatribe:

Oh yes they can. Teachers are greedy, teachers are greedy, teachers are greedy.

THERE! I said it thrice. (And teachers with your masters degree in basket weaving should know that means twice plus 1.)

All teachers are greedy with their desks and their endless supply of multi-colored construction paper.

Oh yeah, and don't forget their #2 pencils... I guess those #3 pencils just aren't good enough for your majesty.

And greedy teachers.... you are destroying America. Look at you... with your chalk-stained irregular blouses from Loehmanns. And your Hyundai with its power steering and windshield. I guess bugs hitting you in the face just doesn't cut it for you Mr. Chips.

Plus don't forget those special textbooks with all of the answers in them. And who outside of Google employees works at an office that has both a gym and a cafeteria. Plus don't forget that we know about those shiny red apples you teachers get day after day after day..

THE GREED that led you into the teaching profession is the root cause of all of the problems in America. You went to college being all idealist that you would make the world a better place while drawing a 5 figure salary and being able to go to the doctor whenever you are sick. And now look at the world, it's getting worse by the day and it's all your fault. You were supposed to fix all of those problems with your wonderful abilities to "mold the minds" of our children.

You should take a clue from those selfless teachers that work in the South who do the same job as you do for about half of what you earn.

Wait... what?

They get called greedy down there too?

Well they are! Because anyone that has it better than me can only be greedy!

(With apologies to Jon Stewart)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

60 Minutes and the $125,000 Teachers

"60 Minutes" recently aired a segment about a charter school in New York City that offered teachers a starting salary of $125,000.

The 60 Minutes segment was interesting, but I thought the report was an epic fail on Katie Couric’s part.

First of all, what makes the principal, Zeke Vanderhoek, of the “The Equity Project” charter school qualified to make decisions on teacher hiring and teacher effectiveness? His classroom experience was gained through the Teach For America program.

While I can’t find any details on his length of time or accomplishments as a classroom teacher, he was only 32 when he began this charter school and his former job was Founder of the Manhattan GMAT prep company.  That company was founded in 2001, so I can’t imagine he spent more than a couple of years as a classroom teacher, and I cannot find any evidence of him being a school administrator prior to his current job.

To me he seems to be lacking any documented accomplishments that make him qualified for his current job.
Also, in the 60 Minutes interview, Katie Couric asks about tenure.  Mr. Vanderhoek begins his response with “The idea that somebody could have a job for life….”

TENURE IS NOT “A JOB FOR LIFE!!! It is merely an assurance of due process.  Why didn’t Ms. Couric question him on that response?

Also in the 60 Minutes segment,  the former “chancellor” of New York Schools, (he didn’t have the qualifications to be superintendent) Joel Klein was interviewed. Klein is asked by Katie how you get tenure and he responds:
Klein:  “If you have a pulse you get tenure....tenure is something you get for showing up.”

I can’t help but wonder why Katie Couric didn’t challenge him on the tenure issue with questions like the following?
  • Mr. Klein, how long were you in charge of the New York City schools? Wasn't it 8 years?
  • Mr. Klein, did you realize that 60% of the current teaching crop in NYC have been teaching for 5 years or less? If you look at the totals over 8 years the number of teachers hired under your tenure might be as high as 70% (or more).
  • Mr. Klein, weren’t 80% of the current crop of principals placed in their positions while you were in charge of  New York City schools?
  • Mr. Klein, isn't it true that principals are the ones who grant tenure?
  • Mr. Klein, what do you have to say to the fact that a majority of the teachers who you claim are granted tenure for merely breathing have been granted tenure by the 80% of the principals who were appointed under your tenure as head of the NYC schools?
  • Mr. Klein, explain exactly who should be held accountable if teachers receive tenure for merely breathing?
  • Finally: How dare you Mr. Klein try to perpetrate these lies and slanders regarding tenure on the American people?
In case you’re not aware of Joel Klein’s prior background, his primary career was that of a lawyer.

Since resigning as chancellor, he has since accepted a job as an executive vice president with Rupert Mudoch’s “News Corporation” the parent company of Fox News.

Upon introducing Mr. Klein to the News Corporation, the company said Mr. Klein would be a senior adviser to Mr. Murdoch “on a wide range of initiatives, including developing business strategies for the emerging educational marketplace.”

Other questions that should have been asked in the 60 Minutes segment: Does the school have a library?  How about a social worker or counselor?  What is its attrition rate?

Finally this  all comes on the heels on a study that shows a $75 million dollar merit pay scheme in New York City did not work at all.

Oh... Katie Couric did reveal one criticism....the test scores at The Equity Project charter school aren't as good as the surrounding public schools and the student achievement gains at the school aren't what was predicted.

Will politicians and policy makers ever realize that teaching experience does count for something and perhaps consult with some real life accomplished classroom teachers before they launch any new hair-brained schemes?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Week In Review

A few things on the Internet caught my interest this week and spawned a few personal comments.

"Education Next" in the "Lights, Camera, Action" article discussed using surveillance video cameras in classrooms as a way of conducting teacher evaluations. My comments at the bottom of the article were posted as "MisterRog" and included a link to another article on videotaping teachers from the Washington Post.

Politicians and so-called education reformers have the sirens blaring over the latest international test results from the "Programme of International Student Assessment".  However, a piece in "Bloomberg Businessweek" had a nice response to the panic, "U.S. Schools Are Still Ahead - Way Ahead".

Personally, I take issue with the popular notion "The United States is rapidly falling behind the rest of the industrial world".  Like the concept of the movie "Inception­" this notion that "The United States is rapidly falling behind" has been repeated over and over that it has grown within peoples' minds so much it has become accepted as their own idea and as the truth.

Also, Gregory Michie had a fabulous, spot-on piece this past week with "How to Be Taken Seriously as a Reformer (Don't Be an Educator).

One line from his article regarding the so-called reformers particularly struck a chord with me "... "But their arrogance is astounding­, and their lack of interest in the wisdom of those who spend their days in classrooms speaks volumes."

And a related "MUST-READ­" to Gregory Michie's piece is  "Teachers Should be Seen and Not Heard" by the 2009 National Teacher of the Year, Anthony Mullen.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nine Months Later

It's been over nine months since my last blog posting.  Actually I have been consistently commenting on other blogs and news articles but at the expense of my own blog.  Plus now since my blog was given a "Hat Tip" in a "Teacher in a Strange Land" posting I'm feeling motivated (pressured) again to crank out some new commentaries.

I'm also considering rethinking my blog, having it become a source of things I find interesting on the Internet with a few insightful comments without going on a full rant.  This posting will be an example of that.

One of the education blogs I visit on a regular basis is Maureen Downey's "Get Schooled" blog on the Atlanta Journal/Constitution website.   A recent "Get Schooled" posting addressed the issue of "performance pay" for teachers.  While the article centered around the opinions of the current Georgia Teacher of the Year, what really struck me was one of the reader comments by a reader commenting as "teacher&mom".  Her comments included:

What happens in a district that mandates a reading curriculum….like Reading First? Is it fair to penalize teachers if you tie their hands and force them to teach from a scripted curriculum?

What happens if you agree to supervise a student teacher for a semester and the test scores dip?

What happens if your administration decides to re-arrange the schedule? For example, you go from a 4 X 4 block schedule to a 7 period day or an A/B block schedule. Isn’t it possible that scores may slide as everyone adjusts to a new schedule?

What happens if the budget crunch means 35+ students in a classroom?

What happens when the Common Core Standards come into play and teachers begin to train and implement the new standards? Will they experience a dip in scores?

What happens when a teacher is out for maternity leave and the district decides to not pay for a long-term substitute and instead rotates different substitutes in and out of the classroom for several weeks?

What happens if the local judicial system does not help the school system with chronic attendance problems and teachers have students with 20+ absences taking the CRCT/EOCT?

What happens to the test score of the student who finally qualifies for special education AFTER the CRCT?

What happens to the teachers’ pay when we have a testing fiasco like the 7th grade Social Studies CRCT?

Remember the National Board Certification stipend —-Gone

Remember the High Performing Administrator Bonus — not in this year’s budget

Remember the Master Teacher Program —- anyone know where it went?

I wonder how many are willing to take the risk that maybe this time our legislators won’t change their minds or manipulate the numbers to control costs?
Interesting points by "teacher&mom" wouldn't you say?  While I'm not philosophically opposed to performance pay, there are many details as "teacher&mom" points out that will have to been considered before most teachers will support such an idea.