Friday, August 9, 2013

SFUSD DROPS NCLB - ARE SUSPENSION AND EXPULSION RATES THE NEW MEASURE OF STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT?



On August 6th SFUSD was granted a federal waiver from NCLB School Improvement penalties for the upcoming school year. New student achievement criteria that replace the  high stakes testing model leave some serious questions as to how districts will measure academic achievement.  With reduced reliance on testing, students will be evaluated on more than just state tests on basic core curriculum. Other factors such as music, art and foreign language will be included in overall performance as well will be attendance, suspension and expulsion rates. Expanding the scope and quality of achievement measures sounds reasonable after years of overreliance on questionable testing methods, but who really believes that attendance and citizenship are valid replacement measures of academic performance any more than showing up for work is a measure of job performance? Just showing up for school doesn't tell us much about the quality of a student's work? 

The new loosely defined evaluation parameters as described by the waiver consortium entitled, the Office to Reform Education or CORE,  leave a void as to what standards will be used during a school year that has already begun.   In the meantime a loosening of standards comes at a convenient time with SFUSD's  STAR test results slowing in math and turning negative in English. So it is easy to see why SFUSD would prefer to see a less stringent  measure of student achievement, even if its arrival now is just coincidental. Without anything firm in place  it is anyone's guess what will replace the current achievement measures.

While teachers ought to welcome the end of NCLB's punitive aspects, the fly in the ointment for their unions is this: beginning in the 2014-15 school year extension of the waiver will be contingent on districts instituting  teacher evaluations  that take  student performance into account - something teacher unions as well as the State of California have vehemently opposed. This is the reason why the State as a whole did not get a waiver and why the waivers where granted on a district-by-district basis instead, a first for the nation that already has 41 states waived. It is telling that neither UESF nor any of the  unions representing the other seven waiver districts sided with the NCLB opt-out.  Virtually all teacher unions are on record for opposing NCLB's narrow view of education, yet none have supported doing away with NCLB if it means having members take partial responsibility for student achievement.  It seems that  union leadership would rather have members work within what it knows to be a failed education model  than  be party to shared responsibility. There are legitimate concerns about fair teacher performance evaluations, but strengthening the profession demands that teachers by held to high standards of behavior and performance. Creating an evaluation system which measures a teacher's influence on performance should be the mutual goal of labor and management. Instead, the unions are against any kind of linkage between student and teacher performance.  Does anyone  really believe that teachers can succeed if their students fail? 

Ironically, the very standards the unions oppose, if implemented, could turn out to be a win for the membership, if by win it means keeping underperforming teachers on the job. Pressure to reform teacher evaluations has been mounting and with looser guidelines for students performance and more students scoring higher, unions may be able to mollify their critics and maintain  underperforming teachers on-the-job,  a distinct and dire possibility. We can only hope that new standards will be more child-friendly and less of the one-size-fits-all model that has so enraged critics and been a bane to students and teachers alike.


After 15 years of NCLB many contemporary critics of  its style of public education would welcome a more holistic approach to learning and evaluating instead of  the factory-style model which has had a  narrow focus on math and English.  While recognizing there's an important role for  well thought-out standardized testing, I believe that NCLB's model has made public education less creative and elevated the rote style of learning that was discarded  by the 70's. Its single-minded focus on the test has taken the creativity out of education and much of the fun along with it, a fact to which many teachers will willingly attest. But that does not refute the fact that suspension and expulsion rates are not a legitimate  replacement as a measure of student progress. Showing up and staying in school are crucial, but statistics of this sort tells us little about academic achievement. They tell us more about the politics of truancy and the  financial pressures to increase attendance for Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding from the state government.

Getting rid of the one-size-fits-all model that is NCLB is a step in the right direction as long as standardized testing of many core  subjects plays an important part in the overall measurement of student progress. However, watering down the measurements of student performance is not the solution to decreased American educational competitiveness or a legitimate education reform nor is the notion by some NCLB detractors that no testing at all is preferable. And I agree that some linkage between teacher performance and student performance is reasonable as long as the evaluation itself is reasonable. But we shouldn't have these policies dictated by a federal government that only contributes a tiny portion of the total expenditures on education by the individual states. It is an overreach of federal power and it creates a paradox in which we are simultaneously moving toward more local control with the newly adopted Local Control Funding Formula and more federal control over education in California.




Below I have copied three articles for further reading on this subject. Please scroll all the way down to comment.




U.S. Department of Education Grants California Districts' CORE Waiver


UPDATED

The U.S. Department of Education granted an unprecedented waiver Tuesday under the No Child Left Behind Act to eight California districts that together educate 1 million students, upending a long tradition of state-based school accountability.

The first-of-its-kind waiver, good for one year, essentially allows the eight districts to set up their own accountability system outside of the state of California's—and largely police themselves through their own board of directors. The districts known as CORE, for California Office to Reform Education, will operate under a new "school quality improvement index" that will be based 60 percent on academic factors such as test scores and graduation rates, 20 percent on social-emotional factors such as the absentee rate, and 20 percent on culture and climate factors such as student and parent surveys. The CORE districts are Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Sanger and Santa Ana.

The districts did create a new, separate oversight board, which will include a cross-section of stakeholders from the education community that will meet biennially, that will serve as "an unbiased external compliance review of each district's progress." For more from the district angle, see my colleague Lesli Maxwell's post over at District Dossier.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in announcing the decision in a call with reporters today, said, "Frankly, working with districts wasn't an easy decision." He said his department isn't doing it because it's "simple" but because it's the "right thing to do."

According to the approval letter written by federal officials, the CORE waiver can be renewed next year only if the districts fully implement their school-rating system and teacher-evaluation plans. The department must then approve both systems.

The final deal came together with lightning speed—just last Thursday, Duncan said in an interview that he hadn't seen anything from his team on the CORE waiver. But the clock was ticking for school districts as they planned for the fast-approaching 2013-14 school year. Under the existing NCLB law, for example, districts needed to start signing contracts with tutoring providers. (Before today's announcement, there were nine CORE districts, but Clovis has dropped out.)

For districts, the most important flexibility this waiver brings is financial. A waiver will free up about $150 million in federal funds a year among the districts—money that's now locked up in providing interventions such as tutoring and school choice in schools that do not meet annual academic targets.

Duncan, in the call, said one of the most important components of this waiver application is that no longer will thousands of students be "invisible" as they are under NCLB. The "n" size in California—which is how big a subgroup of students needs to be for its test scores to count for school accountability purposes—is 100. For CORE, it's been lowered to 20.

The CORE districts started pursuing their own waiver in earnest in January, after federal officials rejected the state's application in part because it didn't meet the requirements for implementing a new teacher-evaluation system. CORE officials came to Washington just last month for a final, in-person pitch.

Until now, states have been the only recipients of the broad NCLB waivers first announced by President Barack Obama in 2011—and only if they agreed to the strings attached, such as implementing teacher-evaluation systems linked to student test scores. In exchange, states get out from under key requirements of the NCLB law, such as that schools bring all students to proficiency in reading and math by the end of the 2013-14 school year. Now, these eight California districts, which include Los Angeles, Fresno, and Long Beach, will have that same flexibility.

"We are trying to hold ourselves to an even greater accountability system," said Christopher Steinhauser, superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District, in the call.

The Education Department previously has granted districts narrowly tailored waivers under NCLB, such as to serve as their own tutoring providers. But this waiver is unprecedented for its scope, and for how it changes the dynamic between districts, the state, and the federal government.

"I'm shocked," said Andy Smarick, a partner for Bellwether Education Partners in Washington. "For the secretary to unilaterally dispense with 30-plus years of state-led accountability is incredible."

Others disagree.

"The Council of the Great City Schools is in complete agreement with Secretary Duncan in his approval of the district waiver application submitted by CORE. The approval is within his authority and does not undermine state authority in any meaningful way," said the council's executive director, Michael Casserly.

Granting such a waiver is a risky move for a federal department that is already trying to manage an enormous portfolio of grants and programs—from billions of dollars in Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation grants to a hodgepodge of new accountability systems that are emerging in the 39 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have waivers.

What's more, this waiver could open the door for other districts that want their own tailor-made waiver. At a minimum, the department might have to deal with the administrative burden of fielding inquiries and even applications from other districts. Right now, however, Duncan said he doesn't foresee any other districts applying.

There also are political implications. Duncan's decision will at least mildly annoy—or even infuriate—some state schools chiefs who have warned that district waivers would "undermine" state authority. (California state officials only gave a tepid endorsement of the CORE plan.)

"The U.S. Department of Education's decision to approve the California district CORE Waiver marks an unprecedented shift in the federal role in education—clearly usurping state leadership," said CCSSO Executive Director Chris Minnich in response to today's announcement.

The list of critics is longer than just state chiefs. Civil rights groups, including the Education Trust and Democrats for Education Reform opposed the CORE waiver, warning that different expectations for students across the same state can often lead to "lowered" expectations. They argue that the key to improving student performance is a strong state accountability system. (California DFER is supportive of the CORE waiver, however.)

The local teachers' unions in California also opposed the application, calling the new accountability system a "shadow system of education."

Many in Congress, particularly Republicans, aren't thrilled with Duncan's overall direction on waivers, either. On district waivers specifically, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has been most critical. He said today this turns the Education Department into a "national school board" with districts lining up playing the old playground game "Mother May I?".

And U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the House education committee chairman, isn't happy about this either. He said today, in a statement, "As if state waivers weren't convoluted enough, the administration has now decided to move forward with district-level waivers. One can only imagine the confusion this creates for families, teachers, and state and local education leaders."

On the flip side, however, Rep. George Miller, D-California, the top Democrat on the House education committee, is very supportive. He said today, in a statement, "The approval of the CORE waiver application will provide the opportunity for more than a million students in California to break away from the most rigid requirements of NCLB that do little to ensure that all children are learning. I applaud CORE's leadership in providing a student-centered vision for education in their districts, and I believe this action will provide the whole state an exciting opportunity to pilot new reforms and learn from some of the leading districts in California and the nation."

And Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who chairs the Senate education committee, called the CORE waiver "necessary" but not "ideal."

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Six Questions About California CORE Districts' Waiver

By Michele McNeil on August 9, 2013 7:26 AM

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan provoked a lot of strong opinions when he granted a precedent-setting waiver under the No Child Left Behind Act to eight California districts last week. These "CORE" (for California Office to Reform Education) districts now have sweeping flexibility to implement their own accountability systems, separate from the state of California's, and the ability to largely police themselves with help from a new independent oversight panel.

There are many questions this waiver is sparking. Here are just a few of mine:

1. Will these districts secure collective bargaining agreements to implement new educator evaluations tied to student growth? This was a central reason the state of California could not secure a waiver—because they would not commit to new evaluations as the federal waivers require. In the case of the CORE districts, the local teachers' unions were not supportive whatsoever of this waiver application, charging it would create a "shadow" system of education. But according to the federal Education Department, the districts have committed to developing consortium-wide guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation still this month and adopting these guidelines by Dec. 1. What's more, the districts are supposed to pilot the new evaluation systems in the 2014-15 school year and implement them the following year.

In an email to staff after the CORE waiver was announced, Sacramento superintendent Jonathan P. Raymond wrote, "Finally, let me be clear that there is no component of this waiver that supersedes our collective bargaining agreements. The waiver calls for districts to begin discussions about creating new principal and teacher evaluation tools, discussions that must be had in collaboration with our labor partners." So given the union opposition, how likely is it there will be serious discussions? Some of the CORE districts have better relationships with their local unions than others, so this may likely boil down to local politics.

2. Will these districts immediately pull the plug on SES/choice? The most coveted flexibility in CORE's entire waiver involves about $150 million the districts were required to spend on tutoring and transportation for school choice—two "sanctions" under NCLB. These districts are no longer required to do that (nor are states that also got the state-level waivers). Sacramento has already decided to cut ties to SES providers, according to the superintendent's email to staff. But in Fresno, the superintendent indicated he would keep a few providers on board who are doing a particularly good job. After all, these districts still have to intervene on behalf of students in low-performing schools. It seems these districts are making the decision on a case-by-case basis.

3. What will be the effect of a school-grading system that puts nonacademic factors as worth 40 percent of a school's grade? The CORE waiver's weighting of nonacademic factors, at 40 percent, is significant. Certainly, many waiver states introduced multiple measures to gauge school effectiveness, such as ACT scores or participation in Advanced Placement. But the CORE waiver seems to give the most weight to nonacademic factors—an intentional move to approach accountability in a more holistic manner. Some of the nonacademic factors the CORE districts are including are easy to measure, such as discipline rates and chronic absenteeism. But how will the CORE districts go about measuring "noncongitive skills" such as student grit and tenacity? And will this grading system correctly identify the highest- and lowest-performing schools?

4. Will the new "oversight panel" provide enough oversight? My colleague Lesli Maxwell goes into great detail about how this new oversight panel will work. It was created to answer critics who charged these CORE districts would be in charge of policing themselves. But will this panel provide real, meaningful oversight—as a state would provide in the traditional accountability relationship? Furthermore, the oversight panel's authority (such as it is) is derived from a really squishy place. This new panel's power is not rooted in law, or state board regulations, but in a waiver agreement between the feds and these districts.

5. Will other districts apply? The CORE districts got a very special deal. They got out from under some of the most onerous restrictions of NCLB and got to design their own accountability system, outside of the state's, for federal purposes. Will other districts in nonwaiver states also want a similar sweet deal? Now that Duncan has opened the door, he'll have to figure out how to deal with and fairly judge other requests if they come in. Right now, he says none are in the pipeline. And, Council of the Great City Schools executive director Michael Casserly told me that districts in other nonwaiver states are waiting to see if their state ends up with a waiver before proceeding. If NCLB still isn't rewritten by Congress by the time the next president takes office (a likely scenario), then a new education secretary (perhaps a Republican) will have precedent to start doling out his or her own district waivers that could be based on very different policy leanings.

6. Will Duncan's decision have any effect, whatsoever, on Congress' efforts to rewrite NCLB? Back in February, a Senate aide said if Duncan goes ahead with district waivers, it will "make it that much more difficult to get any Republican to work with the department in good faith." It's not as if Duncan is pushing hard at all for reauthorization anyway. But this could give Congress even more incentive to rewrite the law and rein in the secretary.


 


 


 


6 California cities get No Child Left Behind delay


Jill Tucker

Published 10:52 pm, Tuesday, August 6, 2013

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School districts in San Francisco, Oakland and six other California cities were granted at least a one-year reprieve from the stringent requirements and severe sanctions of the federal No Child Left Behind law Tuesday, a waiver otherwise given only to states.

The waiver, granted by the Obama administration, means the districts will no longer be required to label low-performing schools as failures and require that they make staffing or other changes in hopes of boosting test scores.

San Francisco and Oakland applied for the waiver as part of a consortium that also includes Los Angeles, Long Beach, Fresno, Sacramento, Santa Ana and Sanger (Fresno County). Together they represent nearly 1 million students, an enrollment that surpasses that of many individual states.

In return for the waiver, the districts promised to evaluate schools, teachers and principals using a wide range of measures including test scores, suspension rates, attendance and graduation rates. Those measures would then be used to identify needy schools and improve them rather than punish them.

The waiver gives districts more flexibility over how to spend federal funds, especially those to help low-income children. Under No Child Left Behind, failing schools are forced to provide tutoring to students, and parents can choose from a list of public or private tutoring services.

With the waiver, the districts can spend the money on any kind of service for low-income students.

Instead of state and federal oversight, the eight districts will now police themselves and each other, holding the entire system accountable for student learning and success. They will evaluate schools based on improvements in test scores, dropout rates and graduation rates, along with suspension and expulsion totals, among other criteria.

In San Francisco, the waiver will free up at least $700,000 that had to be spent on tutors or letters to parents about their "failing" school, said Superintendent Richard Carranza. In addition, teachers will no longer have to focus on what's tested each spring, Carranza said.

No Child Left Behind "meant you were a failure or not based on your English and math scores," he said. "So guess what? Welcome to science, welcome to social studies, music and art.

"It all counts now."

Most states have waivers from No Child Left Behind. California, however, declined to apply for a waiver because teachers unions opposed a federal stipulation that a teacher's job performance be judged using student test scores. The eight districts will have to guarantee that they will do that by 2014 to extend the waiver beyond this coming school year, said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

That might be an uphill battle.

"Not one of the local teachers associations in the eight school districts was included in the discussion or signed the waiver application," said Dean Vogel, California Teachers Association president.

What's more, he said, the waiver "sets up a new bureaucratic system to oversee the eight districts and creates a new accountability system for schools and students in these districts. This will create confusion for educators, students and parents."



131 comments:

Anonymous said...

Personally I think the union loves the past in which no records of test scores were kept to evaluate schools or teachers and there were no consequences. The average African American student after 12th grade reads at the level of the average white 8th grader. We need more tutoring, more help, and more firing of bad teachers. The teacher's union wants seniority to be the only factor considered. Imaging being a boss, a principal, trying to implment a new system, trying to tell a teacher they need to work harder, and you can't fire them or it's cost prohibitive, no one would listen to you. They don't want a balance or a delay, they want the old status quo. Incredibly difficult to fire a bad teacher, reference checking not allowed, roadblocks in the way of every discipline to the point where most don't bother, and all pay, transfers and promotions based on seniority. This hurts children.

I don't buy the new evaluation considering multiple factors, it makes it less meaningful. Self-reporting will lead to a confusion. They should at least still publish the academic API along with the Holistic API. Test scores are related to future education and income.

Anonymous said...

API is a requirement of state law. NCLB is federal. So API won't change as a result of this, but there are changes in the pipeline for more holistic API, too.

When you say you don't buy the new evaluation with multiple factors, do you mean to say that academic performance should be entirely based upon the STAR testing? Almost no one is a favor of that. Or at least you're the first one I've heard of that thinks standardized testing should be the whole enchilada.

Don

Anonymous said...

I do because the main purpose of a school is to prepare students for college and jobs, to teach reading and math. I would favor having tests on science and social studies included, even foreign language.

My suspicion is that the goal is to muddle the differences and make the API scores less meaningful. If we all give 100 for having a vigorous and friendly mood, we will water it down. The SAT ranges from 600 to 2400 so we can feel better, have more self-esteem without earning it. You get 600 for signing your name, and it's nearly impossible to get a perfect score, so a person who gets 400 gets 1000 vs. 2100 for a person who gets 1300 out of 1600. It seems closer but the person with 1000 is headed to prison or minimum wage and the person at 2100 for a good job.

I don't like euphemisms. Bad schools need to know it and be told it so they can improve. City College, many argue it's great but it's being shut down. Holistic yes, vague no.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that there should be rigorous standards with standardized testing and that this CORE idea is likely to muddle the results. Grades are problematic for obvious reasons - they are too subjective. But including attendance, suspension and expulsion rates is a joke. I think they need to figure out how to deliver district-wide tests in each subject.

The UC admissions policy that gives the top 4% at each school a spot is the problem. It is a backdoor affirmative action policy. It is one thing to try to level the playing field in K-12. But when UC admits students whom they know to be lesser students they are taking the whole university down.

Anonymous said...

When the numbers of black and Latino students dropped by over 50% after Prop 209, the number graduating dropped by under 15%. That's because they were admitting many who were not graduating, were not ready, and the dropout rate was huge. If they're going to have affirmative action, they should pay for an extra year for the students who aren't ready or make it so that you can only give a slight edge, maybe with a mandatory summer prep program before they start paid for by the state. Otherwise you have a dropout problem. The thing is, when you lower standards, you create racism as due to the discrimination against Asians, Asians outperform whites at every University, because it's harder to get in. Even Cal does subtle Asian reduction, they give little credit to Chinese School, etc. You could let me into the NBA and give me some playing time, but you wouldn't be doing me a favor, I'd just get made fun of on youtube for the rest of my life for all my shots being blocked and not being able to guard anyone. Maybe an extra .2 in GPA or 100 SAT points, but no more, you have to at least be very, very close, otherwise it's pointless. The top 4% at Mission still got rejected by Lowell. The top 4% at McClymonds or Kennedy in the East Bay are probably as good as below average students at Fremont Union or Palo Alto High, not the ones who'd get into a UC. Texas has it worse and is more liberal on this issue, ironically, as they let in the top 10% of any class, and the results have been horrendous. There was a valedictorian from a horrible school who could barely write an essay. Sadly and due to segregation, not all schools are even close to equal, but it's not spending, it's the students and families. These are the facts, and they are undisputed.

Anonymous said...

Please be more specific. What dropped? I don't understand what you are trying to say.



Anonymous said...

The absolute number of black and Latino and Native American students and graduates at Cal and in the UC System. I read the post above again, and this part really bothers me:

"The waiver gives districts more flexibility over how to spend federal funds, especially those to help low-income children. Under No Child Left Behind, failing schools are forced to provide tutoring to students, and parents can choose from a list of public or private tutoring services.

With the waiver, the districts can spend the money on any kind of service for low-income students."

Now this is surreal and horrible. I did security for the parking at Outside Lands for Presidio for 3.5 hours. A number of parents volunteered and we raised about $6,000 to pay for PTSA needs, primarily back to school supplies for the poor kids who can't afford them so teachers don't end up going out of pocket for them. I had to make sure no one peed on the school yard or left beer bottles, as some did last year. I talked to the PTSA President and asked, why can't we have a restroom open and just clean it ourselves or pay some guy $20-30 bucks, one person parking is $25, that we know.

Well it turns out there is this union rule that only they can do it and if we open any part of the school, we have to pay $400 for a janitory. They'd probably only have to take out the garbage, mop, and quickly clean the toilets, easily less than an hour of work for any competent janitor who is working diligently. I could easily find lots of janitors, friends I know, who would gladly take $30 to do it, even $20-25. We could also just do it ourselves as volunteers as we're standing around. It turns out that the union has a rule that you have to go through the union and pay $400, no questions asked.

We set up some tutoring over the summer, they had a mandatory rate of at least 30 an hour. Generally it's 40. Anyone with kids knows you can get good tutors for $20 and if it were a regular job probably 15. You can get great ones for 25-30, not bureaucratic, under a guaranteed contract, but one you can just replace like that if they don't have a good connection with your child.

My concern with this is whenever you go through a bureaucracy and union rules, they're going to just throw more and more money at the superintendent zone schools, claiming flexibility. They may have psychologists or highly paid "consultants" dealing with personal issues of kids and generally just wasting money instead of sending it to Kumon or C2C, companies proven to get kids up to speed and score higher on tests. I don't predict that will be good for kids at all or lead to the money being spent more efficiently. This is only one man's predication.

The idea of paying for outside tutoring if a school was failing was a very good one, but one the union will oppose. They always do things far less efficiently.

Due to the janitor rules, we just don't open a bathroom and hope no one pees or if they insist, tell them to at least go to the trees no one goes to rather than in the middle of the yards the kids will be playing on in a week, which is disgusting especially if it doesn't rain for over a week and being late August, this is very possible.

In this case flexibility is a code word for less flexibility, more bureaucracy. Instead of private tutoring, you can use flexibility to do it in a way the union approves of.

Anonymous said...

The State of California did not get the waiver like so many other states because it refuses to link teacher evaluations with student performance, which is to say, the State government is very pro-labor. So individual districts applied and received the waiver without union support. But here is an example of the cart before the horse. As much as I do not want the union dictating how schools operate as they currently do, if districts adopt changes that are in non compliance with state law then the whole CORE concept is going to end up in court and the court will have to follow the law. It is telling that not one union supported this waiver in all 8 districts.

We shouldn't be having a conversation on whether teacher performance should be linked to student performance. The conversation should be about how to link them.

If you know good tutors for 20-30 bucks an hour please let me know. I pay $60 right now.

$400 an hour to clean a toilet for 10 minutes and $30 per hour to teach algebra and geometry. That tells a lot about what's wrong with our education system. Just like what happened when the union thugs lied to and cajoled the public over Prop H, we have a situation where the majority of hard-working competent teachers are run by a mob. What does that tell you about democracy when teachers are at the mercy of the unscrupulous union bosses who will take $400 of education money out of classrooms to pay for a task that should cost a few bucks? And the teachers go along with it. They are far from victims.

Don

Don

Anonymous said...

So, since the NCLB waiver is just for the district, and not for the state, this means there will be no actual reduction in standardized testing in elementary schools, right? And no change in teaching to those tests? Or am I misunderstanding something?

Thanks!

Don Krause said...

The STAR test and resultant API are unaffected by the waiver. What would be affected are program improvement schools that fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress of AYP. They could find themselves much less likely to have to employ turnaround models by 2014 as required by NCLB law. As I said before, all these performance metrics are on the cutting table and it is very likely that we will see big changes to the way students are evaluated in the next few years. The waiver is a shot across the bow. But the real punch will be linkage between student achievement and teacher performance. If that does come to pass it will be a big reform in a governmental education system that was, heretofore, impervious to the changes that have rocked private industry.

Anonymous said...

It will be wonderful if they actually do link student achievement and teacher performance. It will be wonderful progress if we actually admit some teachers are better than others, some 29-year old teachers are better than some 67-year old teachers, and that working harder as a teacher makes you better than one who doesn't work hard. Even basic ideas like instead of an across the board pay raise, how about a $1,000 bonus for using 2 or fewer sick or personal days and $2,000 if you use 0, that way it's win win, you save sub costs and kids get more consistency. You can still call in 7 personal days and 5 sick days if you want out of 180, but the pay raise will be reserved for those who show up more in the form of a bonus.

Scores, meaningful principal evaluations, parent and student evaluations, peer evaluations, all should be included. Any that show 99% satisfactory should be ignored. Not all teachers are the same.

I tend to think this is an excuse, the union will say let's not do this, we'll do that, but they'll try to water it down to go with their, all teachers are good and equal and only get better with age philosophy. I'm a skeptic.

Anonymous said...

It would be very easy for UESF to sign onto a teacher evaluation model that is reasonable. But they won't do it. The leadership only is interested in having more members with better pay and benefits. This mentality is damaging unionism. The public sees the standards set in private industry and is sickened by the lax standards of teacher and other public employee unions. For this reason unionism is on the decline in America and it isn't for lack of sympathy for workers. It is the hardline intransigence of union leadership towards any reform that requires shared responsibility.

Don

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I think BART's union is losing a lot of respect. With teachers it's particularly egregious because innocent and often poor children are made to suffer to make it so teachers don't have the normal job stress. Parents who suffer through a bad teacher and see how protected they are will never support the teachers' union again. LIFO puts children second. The union argues that this is liberal/progressive and that it is a jobs program, that children's interests should come second, but most people in polls disagree. I feel if you have an adult not doing their best and an innocent child stuck with a bad teacher, the liberal choice is to put that child's interests at the top. The union feels it is a liberal move to make children the second priority. They often claim it helps attract teachers but it's a sham, they know it's not true, if tenure/seniority benefitted children the wealthy would insist on such a policy being put into private schools, which they never have.

Don Krause said...

I don't see this as a liberal/conservative left right issue. Liberals don't care more about children than conservatives. But more liberals, far more are supporters of teachers unions and oppose performance evaluations and merit pay. The forces that push for those tend to be more conservative. So I think you have ideas about what is liberal or conservative, but they are at variance with the real world politics of these education issues. If only more liberals did support real reform we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I'm more saying this to point out the hypocrisy of many liberals. I am liberal but don't mean this to criticize conservatives in any way. I'm saying if you're truly liberal, you should support a poor child over a teacher's preference. I guess I'm saying on seniority/tenure, in my opinion, the conservative position is more consistently liberal than the liberal position, because the conservatives put poor children first.

Don Krause said...

OK, but I think we are talking about all children here. It isn't just poor children who are adversely affected by underperforming teachers. But it is true that they are affected in larger numbers because of the revolving door of underperforming teachers that get shuffled through the lower performing schools.

Anonymous said...

With seniority, teachers get to choose their school, so most teachers want to work where the PTA reimburses them if they have to help a poor kid with school supplies, where there's a supportive PTA, etc. Most will choose a school with more affluent kids or a school which already has a good reputation. The union has opposed any change to this, even protecting some schools from layoffs to gain more consistency, even allowing principals to ask the simple question, "how good a teacher is he/she?" Blind, mindless seniority. It does hurt the poor worse, but all kids get hammered in public schools at some point, or can. I am more than disgusted with this reprehensible mindless process. I am livid. And I have a right to be livid. So do most parents. Some may call me a dreamer, but I am not the only one.

Anonymous said...

But what if a bad principal just doesn't like a teacher and has it out for them? Or pressures them. Seniority is the only way to ensure there is no abuse of teachers' rights. It's fair because every teacher knows going in, last in, first out.

Don Krause said...

You said: "But what if a bad principal just doesn't like a teacher and has it out for them? Or pressures them."

Response: We don't have to have bulletproof protection for tenured teachers in order to avoid the scenario above. There are ways to have performance and peer reviews that could make such scenarios moot. Can we agree that children should be protected first?

You said: "Seniority is the only way to ensure there is no abuse of teachers' rights. It's fair because every teacher knows going in, last in, first out."

Response: I'm not getting your point. What difference does it make if teachers know going into the job? We are talking about how to protect students from teachers who have record of failure. Any parent knows that teacher quality varies and that it won't always meet your highest expectations. But when a teacher utterly fails in the task the student can take years to recover, as borne out by research.

I am in the previous commenter's camp. I am livid about this situation. I would use the word "disgusting" to describe how the rank and file teachers allow their leaders to downgrade their own profession by failing to adequately discipline or oversee their members' on- the-job performance.

Like so many other issues in education, the teachers have the power and control the boards of education whereas the parents and students are largely powerless as interested parties.

Anonymous said...

I don't want some overbearing system or reform movement trying to control the way I teach or saying I can never take a personal day off or judging me by some numbers come up with in Washington. I don't want to teach to the test. I want to teach children to stand up for themselves and think for themselves and work for a better America. I didn't sign up for a job where I could be fired any time and be pressured to do what corporate masters want to make ever higher profits for CEOs while the rest of us wallow in oppressed poverty, barely keeping our head above water. I don't want to teach chldren to grow up to serve corporate greed and have no morals. I'm not producing little worker bees for evil CEOs to exploit. If you can fire teachers, we'll be under pressure to teach to the test and follow reform movements which make education more corporate, more fascist and more greedy, more racist and sexist, more cruel. This should not be allowed. Teachers have a right to freedom from oppression and fear of arbitrary firing because we don't obey a principal serving corporate masters who control politicians and some review formula designed to satisfy corporate greed. We don't want education to be controlled by big business, which is ruining this country. I would have never become a teacher if I expected to have to obey and work for those kind of people. I became a teacher to create a better tomorrow, a better world.

Don Krause said...

I'm a credentialed teacher, so I do understand the position of teachers in the main. And I understand the important role that unions have played historically in insuring better conditions. I think your position is a bit extreme though. Do you classify yourself as oppressed at present?

Are you referring to charter schools when you speak of the "corporate masters"? This language of yours is straight out of the communist playbook. Tell me, are you in favor of any kind of performance evaluations? Did you become a teacher to avoid being evaluated because most of the rest of society is expected to perform a job to some specifications?

Why do you need a personal day? You have more than 3 months off. You have plenty of sick leave. You work less than half the days in a year. Assuming you are an inspiring teacher every day you take off 35 children learn less.

If you were working for a corporation that treated you poorly I might be able to understand some of your feelings. But you don't. You have more job security than just about any person in America and still you speak as if you are being enslaved. Really? How would you feel if you actually had to prove yourself in the private sector?

When you say - "We don't want education to be controlled by big business, which is ruining this country" - who is the we you refer to? Do you speak on behalf of all teachers or what?

I hope you don't bring your rather dogmatic political views into the classroom and proselytize students with them.

To go back to the beginning of your comment you say "I don't want some overbearing system or reform movement trying to control the way I teach or saying I can never take a personal day off or judging me by some numbers come up with in Washington" - well, do you think you should be allowed to do whatever you wish in the classroom? Seriously, we have standards in society. You can't just go into the classroom and close the door and expect to be given carte blanche because anything short of that is corporate enslavement.

If you want teachers to be respected by the public the profession must demonstrate that it has standards rather than just an insatiable appetite for more members with higher pay and better benefits.

Lastly, when you speak of teacher rights you act as if you are part of some constitutionally protected class. Are you? Why would you think you have more rights than another worker. That doesn't even comport with your socialist "workers unite" mentality. I would have thought you'd be more empathetic of your fellow workers.

Anonymous said...

Holy cow! No wonder change is difficult with card-carrying lunatics on the loose in the teaching profession. To think he might be my child's third grade teacher chills me to the bone.

Don Krause said...

At first I thought that the commenter was just having me on. People like to do stuff like that. But then I decided that it was probably real as it seemed heartfelt.

He's a right to his opinion, which he explained and I welcome it here, regardless of what I think about its merits.

Anonymous said...

Um, I am a woman Don. I think after thousands of years of sexism exemplified by people thinking I'm a man because I dare to disagree with them, plus a degree and a credential, I deserve to have a job where I can say what I want and take the time off I'm entitled to in my contract and not have to worry about being fired. Not to mention I'm tremendously underpaid. I'm not educating kids to make the CEOs even more profits. I'd rather educate kids to overthrow the CEOs and stand up for themselves. Parents bug me all the time asking about their kids' grades, what if I could be fired due to a complaint? On a whim? Based on test scores? What about your child's humanity? What about their happiness? What about their individuality and dignity? I'm not just here to teach them how to cheat on some test shoved down my throat through CEOs, Obama the sellout, Congress Inc. and some acquiescent obsequious principal. Children are not your pet project or your ego, they are their own soul. They are beautiful independent people who will hopefully not be brainwashed like you by the status quo.

Don Krause said...

You identified yourself as anonymous and gave no inkling as to your gender so I defaulted to the masculine on the assumption that you were not a boat. You could make a case that the conventions of grammar are sexist, but that doesn't mean that everyone who employs standard grammar is sexist. Please, that is not reasonable to pin me with all history's biases.

So you have said you want to take the time off that you are entitled to. Is it your contention to use all your sick time just because you have it? That sounds to me like a person who'd rather have as much free time away from children than one who inspired to teach them with the precious time given.

Are you admitting, anonymously of course, that you teach your students how to cheat on tests? Is that right or did I misunderstand? You may have some autonomy in the classroom, but how do you come to the conclusion that you are the final arbiter of what and how we should teach children?

Your union had the opportunity to stand up and support the NCLB waiver, (the very system which by which the corporate oppressors enslave our children, hehe) but they wouldn't do if it meant having to have some teacher performance metrics thrown into the mix. In other words, rather than take the chance to improve the system, the union fought against the changes it has long supported if it meant having to be evaluated. It chose teachers over children, quite in contrast to the image you portray about your feelings towards the beautiful, independent people (children) you don't want brainwashed. I guess when push comes to shove we find out what's really important.

You said -"some acquiescent obsequious principal"- huh?

Did you have one in mind or is this a generalization or stereotype of principals at large? They come in different flavors and colors and they're not all the same. They're not all working for 'the man' in Washington. Here is SFUSD they are part of a union, too, I'll remind you.

Rereading what you wrote at 11:47, I didn't understand the relationship you drew between questions you get from parents about your job security as a teacher and concerns for the humanity of children. I don't see where there's some moral conflict between asking about your job security and the security and aspirations for children. What exactly were you trying to say?

I have to tell you that your comments seem dogmatic and cliche, but they also lack clarity and logic. Blogs sometimes provoke cursory responses and awkward writing. I understand that. But please make a case, so we can have a useful discussion.

My own personal feelings about commentary is this: Be as emotional or indifferent as you like, practice better or worse grammar (it's only a blog) but always be clear. Make sense, whatever that sense might be. Explain your opinion, don't just give it. Persuade us.

Anonymous said...

Yes Don, I'm on a mental health day today, it's hard to be sick around kids, stressed out, exposed to germs, which is why our union negotiates a fair amount of sick and personal days and we are supposed to take the maximum allowable, and if we build them up as a benefit use them eventually. The union opposed NCLB because it was going to rank us according to statistics. We don't control the kids we educate, their parents, whether they were shot at yesterday or beaten or abused by their dad, and a lot of kids were abused by sexist, selfish dads. We don't control that. We don't control whether a sexist dad plays them music with hundreds of curse words, let's them drink, doesn't feed them and beats their mother senseless right in front of their crying eyes. But then you conservatives want to take some test score average of kids we get randomly, who may be abused, poor, disadvantaged, have learning disabilities, and you want to rank us numerically like prized pigs, like a sexist beauty contest from the '50s, where our value is ranked numerically by problems we don't control. Then the next step will be for Enron or Microsoft to take over our schools, make a profit, and fire us when we get too expensive, bring in cheap replacements from somewhere, or have our kids get "educated" online.

I have to give grades but I hate it. If we are going to fix society we have to recognize the beauty of all people, not rank them, not tell them they are bad if they don't know something other kids know because their parents pay thousands of dollars on Sylvan Center and yell at their kids to learn things they don't like. I want kids to learn artistically, holistically, and to be aware social citizens. I want them to grow up and have a right to a job and a decent standard of living without being threatened by an overbearing boss only concerned with greed. Remember, greed is one of the seven deadly sins and it is behind the current reform craze. It's insanity. We're in poverty while corruption reigns on wall street. Maybe principals have a union but I hear you reformers talking about firing us like it excites you, Newsweek had a headline we must fire bad teachers, you want to be able to tell me, do what the man says, or I'll fire you, rank yourself like a prized pig so CEOs can judge you or I'll fire you. I'll make you starve to death if you don't sell out your values to appease corporate greed. If you tell kids the truth, you'll be fired, in a sense murdered, we will threaten you, we will get you, you are not your own person, you are not free, we still own you.

I have friends in the private sector and it is full of abuse. Women are paid 70 cents on the dollar compared to an equally skilled male. Many friends have been pressured and had to sleep with bosses to avoid being fired, which can lead to death, and no they didn't get millions suing, they had no proof and were in fear. Some were fired and couldn't find work for years because a big company bought their company and just fired them along with thousands of other people. One committed suicide. So don't try to make our schools, which lead our children, like corporations, don't threaten and harass teachers.

Anonymous said...

You're not supposed to use all the days, they're there if you need them. An honest professional would only use them if they can't work. You work 180 days a year and most people work 250. You can take your personal days out of those extra 70. Your job is to teach kids so they can have a good life, which will mean getting a well-paying job. That means getting good grades and test scores. You're not supposed to prosyletize and start a revolution! Ask parents what type of education they want for their children.

Anonymous said...

All people work harder and produce more if they could be fired. It's human nature. You don't deserve an absolute guarantee you will have a lifetime job even if you take days off you could work; this is ridiculous. All professions should have standards and numerics/statistics involved.

Anonymous said...

School is barely a week old and you already need a mental health day? OK, I'm getting the picture.

Anonymous said...

If you're stress out, why are you reading Don's blog? You know you aren't going to agree with him and you're not making a while lot of sense. When I'm feeling stressed or blue I take a hot bath with minerals then take a nap. Enjoy your day off and get better.

Anonymous said...

Don is part of a movement with Christine Miller to destroy the union, lower our pay and sell SFUSD to Haliburton and make huge profits off training the children to work for low wages, to have lots of skills but no fighting spirit. It's all part of a plot we must resist, even when we're home sick. She even bragged about it on You-tube. Once we're a balance sheet item instead of a resource to support children, we will be treated as such. And so will the children. Making it so we can more easily be fired is only the first step. SFUSD will be barely recognizable in the future if "Students First" has it's way.

Anonymous said...

Um, you must really be sick. If you're taking a day off, you should just get well and not stress yourself out even more. I'll just chuck if up to medication because you're scaring me a little. You seem too emotional and not making sense.

Anonymous said...

3:54, you really have no clue what you're talking about here. All they agreed on was that kids should be able to go to a school in their neighborhood, that every child should have a district school they can attend close to home within walking or biking range, and then if they want they can also apply to language or alternative schools like Rooftop. They agreed on little else and even your characterizaiton of Chris is way off base, but she made some statements used against the proposition, but even she said nothing about privatizing any public schools, that's insane. Don even had ideas which were ignored and if they had been followed, Prop H would have won.

Don Krause said...

Please refrain from making accusations on this blog you cannot support.

The comment by the teacher is off base because it is simply false. This is probably (very likely) the person who commented frequently on SF K Files making similar untrue statements. Normally this comment would be considered over the line in terms of what is "civil and tolerant". However, the post will stay because it so obviously false.

As a matter of fact, I left Students First (not the nationally know organization) because I disagreed with Miller on most issues, with the exception of neighborhood preference at schools. She had nothing to do with drafting our ballot measure. She came in to help with the petition campaign and totally alienated me because of her views. But back to the point.

I (and many many others) believe teacher unions wield too much power over education in America. That doesn't mean I personally think they should go like the commenter has said. But they do need to adapt to the 21st Century and be more flexible. We cannot have reform if we can't ever let failed teachers go or can't have more school days or longer hours if necessary (paid of course). This teacher is a perfect example of the lassitude that unions encourage as the commenter explained in a previous post when she said, " which is why our union negotiates a fair amount of sick and personal days and we are supposed to take the maximum allowable ". So she's just following orders and taking days off when school has barely started. Stress day, she says. Thank you UESF. America would come grinding to a halt if everyone had her work ethic. I have to thank her for making the point so well.

Students and their parents have no similar political organization and as such lack power. Students actually get marked down for being late to school and fail for lack of attendance. Not so with their teachers. Obviously she is only one person and not the mainstream committed and hardworking teacher.

I do agree with her when she talks about how teachers cannot be responsible for poor parenting or nonexistent parenting. That is the true root of the problem and even poor teachers have a minor influence on education overall compared to the social issues. To that end, I think some of the demands on unions are a bit misplaced when out of context with the larger social issues that prevent student achievement. I don't think any knowledgeable observer of the education scene believes that teachers ought to be evaluated mainly on statistics. Teachers can't work miracles. No one expects a teacher at an underperforming school to produce honors student overnight. But there are many systems for developing relative measures of performance and there's peer review.

She's right not to agree that statistics should be the measure of a teacher's performance. But I believe she's wrong to say that NCLB judges an individual teacher's performance on this basis. NCLB does judge the overall performance of a school and has specific guidelines for changes at failed schools. Those turnaround models have proven previously to fail, too. And as a result NCLB has been an unmitigated failure. That why most states now have waivers from it and that's why the teacher unions should support doing away with it.

Anonymous said...

You can base it on improvement rather than average test score. You can compare your average improvement rate with others with the same demographics. It's not an either or choice.

Anonymous said...

Like the last person said, it's not all or nothing like the union wants everyone to believe. They are spreading propaganda to make us think of any kind of reform to teacher evaluations, pay, working conditions, etc., as an attack on the very institution of the union. To them it's a black and white affair. They play to people's fears and drive extremism.

Anonymous said...

We, the people, pay for your salary, Ms. Poster Child for the Entitlement Generation. Don't you have any pride? You're living off society and pretending to care about it. You disgust me!!!!!!!!

Don Krause said...

Check it out:

Evaluate teachers, improve schools

A principal explains why real ratings matter

By Linda Rosenbury / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Friday, May 31, 2013, 4:00 AM.

In 2008, when I became principal of M.S. 22 in the South Bronx, I was fortunate to have a lot of great teachers. I also had more than a dozen teachers I considered unfit for the classroom.

Some didn’t have the literacy skills to pass the tests they gave their students. Their lesson plans were rife with incorrect punctuation, spelling and grammar. The sad result: two-thirds of our students read three grades below level and only about a tenth were proficient according to the state English Language Arts exam.

One tenured math teacher didn’t bother to control his unruly class. Instead, he stood at the board and talked over his students until the bell rang. When students struggled, he solved problems for them instead of helping them construct understanding. Kids entered his class at a fifth-grade math level and left at a fourth-grade level. Meanwhile, students in a math class next door were making more than a year’s progress.

It’s horrifying that students’ futures can still come down to their luck in being assigned the stronger teacher.

Saturday, New York State is expected to impose a new teacher evaluation system on the city’s public schools. As a principal, I know that great teachers are the linchpin of a school’s success. I also know that defending all teachers regardless of how they perform does them and our students a disservice. That is why I have been advocating for a fair and rigorous evaluation system that allows principals to reward their best teachers — and fire weak teachers if they don’t improve after two years.

When Mayor Bloomberg centralized control of the school system, he shifted staffing decisions from Tweed to principals. But while we have the final say on hiring, our hands are tied when it comes to dismissing teachers who have lost the fire to run a class and are unable to improve.

It took me three years, mounds of paperwork and numerous hearings and appeals to fire the math teacher for incompetence. During that time, he remained in the classroom earning $100,000 a year , consigning 270 additional students to a third-rate education.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of empathy for teachers. Most work long, hard days to help their students succeed. But in schools, where teachers share classroom space, students and curriculum, when one member of the team doesn’t pull his or her weight, it impacts everyone. This is not just unfair for the students who are subjected to poor teaching, it is unfair to the majority of teachers who are doing their best.

For the past 80 years, we have been beholden to a pass-fail evaluation system that doesn’t allow us to meaningfully assess teacher quality. Despite satisfactory ratings, some of my teachers couldn’t show that their students had grown academically under their watch.

I learned the difference accountability makes when my school participated in a Department of Education program to test a new teacher evaluation system that’s similar to the one the city has asked the state to implement. Teachers and administrators were trained on the Danielson Framework for Teaching, a research-based model for providing feedback and targeted training to help them improve.

While some teachers were resistant, many started to ask what they needed to do to advance from a rating of “effective” to “highly effective.” They appreciated that the system was transparent and equitable.

For the first time, we had a sophisticated way of determining what skills and behaviors impacted student learning. That motivated people, and they started delivering higher-quality instruction.

For the sake of our students, I urge the state education commissioner to approve an evaluation system that preserves principals’ autonomy, allowing us to support our teachers and swiftly remove the ones who don’t meet our students’ needs. The city’s school kids can’t afford to wait another 80 years.

Don Krause said...

8:15:

Thank you for your comment, however..... please refrain from insulting the guests on this blog. You made a point and the insult didn't add to it. It never does.

Anonymous said...

Children are more than test scores. Children learn from a village of elders, and they learn more than to dot is and cros ts. They learn how to adjust to a substitute teacher, how to get along with other children who are different from them, how to embrace humanity, how to express feelings, perform arts, and be themselves without being judged. The test scores lead us to judge children, not embrace their humanity. Tests are also racist because we all know that most African Americans speak a dialect more suited to their culture and history of oppression and feel oppressed to be pressured to use the grammar rules and conjugations of people who enslaved their forebears. Different children like to write and speak in different ways which are beautiful and expressive in their own right. We must respect children's development holistically and love them unconditionally, not create a world in which they must learn what the Sellout of the Month in Washington wants kids to learn, math, science, grammar, punctuation, children have souls. We must teach them to strive for equity, not being judged by test scores. Children need our support, our love, not pressure and conformity to learn the language of the oppressor and work in a cubicle. How will children create a better world if they are so pressured to conform to these mindless tests? Not everything is a statistic. These tests make us shallow and obedient, not whole, they are bad for the soul. What if you can't pass these tests but you are a good and wonderful person? What if you resist the language of the oppressor? These tests hold WASP culture up but to many of us who know the truth, Howard Zinn, this is the culture that enslaved the African Americans, stole the land from the Latinos and made them subservient, destroyed the Natie Americans and exploited Asian Americans tremendously on the railroads and immigration laws, it is a history of cruelty, of shame, of hate, not one we want our children to embrace, you see conforming to tests leads to conforming in all ways and being acquiescent to exploitation. We don't need every child to be the same, we need to embrace their inner beauty.

Don Krause said...

Wrong thread. Should have commented on the Stone Age Utopian Fantasy Island post.

In all seriousness, people have to survive in the world. They need jobs and the skills to perform those jobs in a highly technical world. School is there to promote socialization, but that's not the half of it. You can be a wonderful person, but if you lack skills to feed yourself you're more likely to resort to things that aren't so wonderful.

Anonymous said...

We have a dominant culture. You have a right to any opinion, but if you don't learn standard English you won't have as good of a job as if you do. Math is also race-less. You create more common purpose as a culture with one language. Do you want to be like New Guinea? 4 million people speaking 1500 languages, total poverty, no one can cooperate? Many nations have recognized having a common language is beneficial to a sense of unity, and you can measure this. I'm probably more for re-distribution than most, but to have a strong economy some people need to earn more than others and you need to work towards a common goal. What you're advocating would lead more towards tribalism than progress, and will certainly damage those who don't speak the language of business. And Don's right, if you can't get a good job, you'll end up taking risks and going to prison or having a low wage job. What's better, keeping a language that hurts success while in poverty, adhering to a culture outside of the mainstream, or learning the common language and finding success.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps because ebonics is traditionally used in working class, African American communities, or perhaps because of its grammatical trademarks, ebonics is often considered less sophisticated than its Standard American English counterpart. But just because a language sounds different does not mean it is any less sophisticated. Ebonics and Standard English contain the same grammatical complexity, with different realizations of their respective rules. For instance, Standard English contains four form aspects while ebonics contains eleven. And while in Standard English, irregular verbs show form distinction between past tense and participle forms (I run; I ran), ebonics uses no participle and shows no distinction in past tense (I run; I run) (Gordon, n.d.). Though both languages have determined different rules to govern universal grammar, each is as grammatically complex as the other, and each has rules consistent with those of other languages.

If black kids are forced to take tests in Standard English, it is only fair that other kids be forced to take tests in ebonics, which is just as complex. This would be fair and lead to greater understanding and equality and to a gradual diminishment of social and political racism.

Testing is a form of cultural colonialism.

Anonymous said...

You can't expect everyone to learn 2 languages. And what if there's another, Latino English, Native American Slang, Surfer, Hillbilly, Brooklynese, to name only a fraction thereof. It's much more efficient to have one dominant language, and if you want to speak a dialect at home, or with friends, learn both. However, there is no way around the unfortunate fact that if you choose to speak Standard English in the home, your children will have some advantage due to that decision when it comes to testing and education. The idea is to respect the older generation while teaching the newer generation to leave dialects behind. In some nations, dialects survive, Lombardi in Italy, Catalan in Spain/Barcelona, but it generally leads to conflict. If you insist on teaching your children a dialect, you are hurting them and reducing their future income, it's just a fact, and it's undisputed.

Don Krause said...

What is the purpose of an education? I would contend that it is to provide the necessary values and skills for living successfully in society. Ebonics will not open doors for anyone to live better. You could make a case it is unfair to test a child in a foreign dialect, but is more unfair not to because that foreign dialect will create opportunities in American society, ebonics won't.

Anonymous said...

Testing is a form of cultural colonialism? Maybe you should have your appendix removed by someone who can't read and write, too.

Don Krause said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don Krause said...

OK. I'm keeping this blog loosely structured so conversation might naturally evolve, but we're getting pretty far off-topic now. If you want to post on the subject of Ebonics and how it relates to testing, college entrance, whatever, - submit a post on the subject to sfedblog@gmail.com and I'll put it up if it makes any sense. I'm perfectly willing to allow the blog posts to project different points of view. But let's move on.

I want to post next on the failure of the new assignment system, but with the long weekend coming up I'm not sure I'll be able to get it done before that. I might put up a short post and add to it with commentary .We'll see.

Regarding this post, this is a subject that has seen very little light of day. No one is talking about the waiver in San Francisco. For most parents this is insider baseball stuff. They are more concerned with getting their kids into new schools, getting them to those schools and situated at this time of year.

But I do think this subject affects all students as it is the shot across the bow. Changes are coming from both the state and federal governments as to how students and teachers will be evaluated. It is an important subject as it directly relates to student achievement, curriculum and college entrance, to name a few reasons.

Anonymous said...

Don, thanks for starting this blog. Your posts are insightful and well thought out. I'm looking forward to more, especially now that the sf k files has limited itself to a narrow area of interest.

Anonymous said...

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come 'round
She always stood her ground.

For the fired auto workers
Who were twisted, tricked and robbed
To the peasant in Guatemala
In a sweatshop got your job
And she can't feed her family
On the pennies that she makes
Meanwhile the crime rate's rising
Up and down the Great Lake states

Like vegetables left in the field
The signatures smell rotten
On the contracts and the deeds
That push the race down to the bottom
As they load the rubber bullets
As they fire another round
I'm heading into the tear gas
Dig in man, hold your ground

For Joe Hill and Caesar Chavez
Who fought in their own time
For our brothers and our sisters
Up and down that picket line
For the unnamed and unnumbered
Who struggle brave and long
For the union men and women
Standing up and standing strong

Si nos quedemos
Juntos vamos a ganar? Si !
Hit em where it hurts
And bite the hand that feeds
You might get one to three
Or probation and a fine
But I know where I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be right on that front line

For Joe Hill and Caesar Chavez
Who fought in their own time
For our brothers and our sisters
Up and down that picket line
For the unnamed and unnumbered
Who struggle brave and long
For the union men and women
Standing up and standing strong

Now dirty scabs will cross the line
While others stand aside and look
But ain't nobody never got nothin'
That didn't raise their voice and push
Like the steel worker in Ohio
The miner in West Virginia
The teacher in Chicago
Janitor in Mississippi
From the sweatshops of L.A.
To the fields of Mission Flats
There's a thunder cloud exploding
And I'm free at last

Like Joe Hill and Caesar Chavez
Who fought in their own time
Like our brothers and our sisters
Up and down that picket line
Like the unnamed and unnumbered
Who struggle brave and long
Like the union men and women
Standing up and standing strong
.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.
.

Anonymous said...

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come 'round
She always stood her ground.

Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.
.

Don Krause said...

Some people see things in black and white, no grays. You are either for us or you're against us. No middle ground. No room for change. No march of progress.

Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful poem. The hardest thing for me as a teacher is meeting parents. Yuck! It makes me so determined to touch and influence children's hearts, the part their parents don't see, don't know exists, so that they don't grow up to be selfish mindless fascist sycophantic stooges to the ruling class or wannabe oppressors like their parents. There are exceptions but most meetings with parents have made me barely be able to hold in my bile and not vomit. These parents have kids for pure ego and have no love for them at all. The fathers usually don't show up but the few that do, just disgusting people. They never ask is my child happy and well-adjusted, it's always how does he/she compare with the other kids, will they be able to make it to Fascist Lowell, will they be able to get a good job so I can brag to my friends in my otherwise wasted useless life? What about their humanity? It's like berating gays in front of a girl who you later find out is a lesbian (been there), what if you talk about achievement and your kid isn't the academic type? What if she doesn't feel like wasting all her time with her head in a boring book? Can't we all live as one and respect each other? Is everything about numbers and test scores? What if I spend an hour talking to your child about their anxiety and fear of standing up to their overbearing parents and fear of expressing themselves emotionally and shyness and embarassment of their cruel parents and how we can create a more loving world? Should I instead have mindlessly drilled them on spelling or grammar or historic dates or multiplication tables? If I don't, will you fire me? If I vomit due to sickening twisted parents and need to stay home will you dock my pay or fire me? You'd like that wouldn't you? Thank god the union will fight for my human rights!

Anonymous said...

I met one parent who kept asking what he could do to teach his son math and he couldn't see his son hated math and loved fantasy role play games and drawing. His sons at there silent, terrified. He kept asking me about tutors and Kumon and camps and I told him ask your son how he wants to spend his free time and embrace his own personality. I wanted to strangle him. He was such an annoying nerd!

Anonymous said...

Teachers like you should be fired! Did you ever stop and think that maybe the main purpose of education, in addition to encouraging good citizenship and health, is to get a well-paying job and be a productive mem ber of society? You seem to resent responsible, loving parents who want their children to grow up to be successful in this difficult economy and instead want to tell off parents, principals and society at large and teach the students you are responsible for to be socialistic, self-indulgent, lazy, whiny, narcissistic rebels ready to support your dreams of revolution. You are insane and should be in an asylum. I hope you never teach one of my kids!

Anonymous said...

This is from the UESF web site, the union opposes not just test evaluations, but any form of evaluation that makes teachers different from each other. They want seniority / tenure, that's it, they don't want any basis of evaluation other than Satisfactory for All, which means none!

Lowell High School is another example of a strong UBC. This year, when a new principal was hired, she declared a school-wide discussion on teaching. Her place, she explained, was in the classroom, not in the principal’s office. Early on in the semester she began her mission to drop-in on every teacher’s classroom, the goal being to enter into ‘collegial conversations.’

“When it became clear that she was using these ‘collegial’ drop-in sessions as a basis of evaluation, a clear violation of the contract (Article 16.12), even forcing teachers into out of cycle “assessment sequences”(article 16.5), we jumped together as a group and sent the unequivocal message to her that this was not o.k.,” says Social Studies teacher and Building Representative Ken Tray.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't he the dude who scared the public into believing that your proposition would tear children from their school in the middle of the year? I think he's the one.

Don Krause said...

I'm all for letting my children explore their inner selves, try new things, be individuals and to do so with all my love and support. I want to help them down the path to self-fulfillment. But that doesn't mean allowing them to give up just because school work is hard and just do whatever they feel like instead. There's a world out there and its good to promote a better one, but you also have to learn to cope with the present one. Life requires some discipline and hard work to develop opportunities, as Ashton Kushner(sp?) said at the Kid's Choice Awards.

I don't want to be insulting, but I don't know how to characterize your views as anything other than just plain ridiculous verging on the laughable.

Anonymous said...

If the teacher went back to work after her well-deserved stress day following a whole week of work, how come she's commenting on this blog in the middle of the day?

Anonymous said...

Good questions. A lot of these teachers have free web access at their schools and spend their lunch hour and prep period websurfing. The union encourages them to blog to defend their status quo. I doubt this one is following any mandate, she's doing the cause more harm than good, but teachers web surfing over lunch and even while kids are doing their work is a lot more common than you might think. Look at the quote from the union about how they put the Lowell Principal in her place for visiting teaches and making her observations part of her evaluation of those teachers, the horror! That story is probably ten years old as Lowell has had a male principal for at least 8, but the story on the union's web page is probably, sadly, true, though they may have just changed the high school so no one can verify it. It's obscene. They don't want statistics to evaluate them, but observing, student reviews, parent reviews, anything else they will come up with a reason to fight as well. Ken Tray is well known to call and yell at people for helping candidates who don't agree to everything the union supports.

Don Krause said...

Check this out:

Fixing California: Obama bribes schools to follow state law

By U-T San Diego Editorial Board 10 a.m.Aug. 10, 2013

On the cover of this week’s SD In Depth section, in the latest installment of our Fixing California series, former state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero explains how she went from union loyalist to union enemy because she challenged labor power plays in Sacramento — especially those involving public schools.

Last week, we saw a huge reminder of just what Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, described. The federal government is essentially trying to bribe eight California school districts to get them to follow existing state law. The administration exempted Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Fresno and Sanger school districts from federal penalties required by the No Child Left Behind law for not meeting minimum improvement standards established by the landmark 2002 federal legislation.

Given the importance President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have attached to steady student progress, why would they cut such a break for these districts — the first in the U.S. given such treatment?

Because the eight submitted proposals to the Education Department outlining how they intended to review student performance and factor it into teacher and principal evaluations. This gives the Obama administration what it has long sought: a beachhead for its education reform push in the nation’s largest state.

For two years, Gov. Jerry Brown and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson have given the cold shoulder to this effort because of its emphasis on teacher quality and rooting out the 10 percent of teachers the president says have no business in the classroom. Like most local school districts — especially San Diego Unified — Brown and Torlakson are reluctant to cross the California Teachers Association or the California Federation of Teachers. They talk nobly about the importance of public education. Yet they use their power in defense of a school system in which the interests of adult employees trump the needs of students.

But what is particularly absurd about the teacher-performance issue is that it doesn’t just reflect Democrats Brown and Torlakson differing with the president, the most prominent Democrat of all. It reflects Brown’s and Torlakson’s tacit willingness to go along with local school districts’ refusal to enforce state law — specifically, a 1971 measure that requires student performance be a factor in teacher evaluations. So what we’re seeing is the federal government trying to use a carrot-and-stick approach to get California to enforce its own law.

But it’s what Brown and Torlakson do: protect teachers — good, bad or horrible. As Romero writes, “California’s teachers are among the highest-paid in the nation; yet there is little accountability for student achievement or teacher performance. Tenure and seniority are protected. Laws make it almost impossible to fire teachers for incompetence or misconduct.”

We stand with Obama and Romero in opposing this status quo. With or without federal bribes, school districts in California should follow the law and factor student performance into teacher evaluations.

Anonymous said...

Very appropriate. On education I agree with Obama, he's a true leader. Brown was a bit of a rebel in Oakland, but I'm very disappointed in his behavior on education as governor. I thought when he said he's too old to run for President, he'd do the right thing on education and other issues. What does he have to fear from the teacher's union? What are they going to do, support a Republican? Do the right thing, over 70% of Californians oppose seniority/tenure for teachers in it's current state.

Anonymous said...

2011: over 75% oppose seniority. Come on Brown, grow a pair!

StudentsFirst Survey Shows CA Voters overwhelmingly support ending seniority-based teacher layoffsMore than 75 percent favor reforms to replace 'Last in, First out' policy; Support among Hispanic and African American Voters Tops 80 Percent
2SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A survey released today by StudentsFirst, a bipartisan grassroots education reform movement, reveals that three out of four Californians support ending the current seniority-based teacher layoff policy, known as "last-in, first out". The California Education Policy Survey, conducted May 18-23, 2012 by The Glover Park Group, surveyed more than 805 likely voters throughout California and has a margin of error of +/ - 3 .5 percent.

The survey, which included an oversampling of more than 250 Hispanic and 250 African American voters in California with a margin of error of +/ - 6 .2 percent, shows even stronger support among these constituencies to eliminate seniority-based layoffs. More than 84 percent of Hispanics and 83 percent of African Americans favor ending seniority-based layoffs, while only 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively, oppose such reforms.

"Californians clearly believe we need to do a better job of educating our children and they also overwhelmingly favor common sense reforms that ensure we have great teachers teaching our kids," said Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst. "All our kids deserve great teachers, and the bottom line is that we are losing too many good teachers in too many schools due to an outdated bureaucratic policy that rewards seniority over performance."

Other key findings from the survey include:

•Seventy percent of respondents believe that the quality of education in California is not as high as in other U.S. states;
•Nearly half of voters say that the quality of education in their own school district is not as high compared to other districts in California;
•Both Hispanic and African American voters are more likely to say that the quality in their district is not as high as in other California districts;
•Likely voters believe hiring and keeping good quality teachers, being able to remove bad teachers from the classroom, and increased funding are the most important things Californians can do to improve the quality of education; and
•Sixty percent of likely voters surveyed said they would be more likely to re-elect their state legislator if he or she supported changes to the seniority-based teacher layoff policy.
Last week, StudentsFirst issued a research brief entitled "Great Teachers for Every Child: A Matter of Social Justice," demonstrating the disproportionate impact of seniority-based teacher layoffs on low-income and minority communities.

"We know that having great teachers is the most important thing our schools can do to help kids learn, and there's absolutely no reason we should be laying off the teachers our kids need to succeed. Californians know that it's not just unwise, it's unfair," added Rhee. "This really is a matter of social justice, because every child deserves a great teacher."

The summary of the California Education Policy Survey is available on the StudentsFirst website at http://www.studentsfirst.org/CaliforniaEducationPolicySurvey2012. The research brief "Great Teachers for Every Child: A Matter of Social Justice," is also available at http://www.studentsfirst.org/CAResearchBrief.

About StudentsFirst:

Formed in December 2010 by former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, StudentsFirst is a bipartisan grassroots movement of more than 1 million members working to transform America's schools so they work well for all kids. In its first year alone, StudentsFirst members successfully helped advocate for passage of more than 50 new, student-centered policies in half a dozen states, and our movement continues to grow every day.

Anonymous said...

I came home today exhausted and fell asleep. I read that poem over and over, such a beautiful poem. Thank you for posting that poem so I know I'm not alone. I have my brothers and sisters to fight for me, to make sure I will never be fired and starve, to make sure I don't have to obey some vapid shallow sellout principal, to ensure I can be a guiding light and touch children in the way they need, that I can be myself. That poem gave me hope and made me feel human again after being torn apart by shallow parents and sycophantic principals all week.

Did you know that before, in the '70s, they tried to pass a law that teachers could be fired if they were gay? I could have been fired, dependent on some man I hate, living a lie, with no means to support myself, worshiping a corporate god of greed, living a lie, were it not for my union fighting for me. Long live Harvey Milk!

And as for these polls, they're clearly manipulated by moneyed interests and I don't believe them.

Anonymous said...

You can read the methodology of a poll. Just accusing them of being biased doesn't make it so. We'll see, this will go on the ballot within a few years and we will see. I believe seniority/tenure as we know them will be gone within 5 years, 10 at the most. Michelle Rhee is dedicated to it. That will be a poll which cannot be manipulated.

Don Krause said...

Copied from EDWeek


Feds Eye Teacher 'Equitable Distribution' Through Waivers

By Stephen Sawchuk on August 29, 2013 11:20 PM

UPDATED

States that want to renew their waivers from aspects of the federal No Child Left Behind law will be given yet another task: To make sure at-risk students have access to the best teachers.

It's the latest wrinkle in the U.S. Department of Education's flexibility initiative, which has grown ever more complicated in the past few months, as colleagues Michele McNeil and Alyson Klein have been reporting.

The waivers release states and school districts from various provisions of the law and give them more latitude over the spending of their Title I funds for at-risk students, but require them to meet new conditions. For instance, states had to promise to begin implementing new teacher-evaluation systems by 2014-15 in order to qualify.

About 40 states have waivers, though the teacher-evaluation piece has been by far the most challenging to get right.

The waiver-renewal guidance issued yesterday requires states to document the steps they've taken so far on ensuring disadvantaged students and students of color have access to high-quality teachers. And by October of 2015, they'll need to integrate the results of their new teacher-evaluation systems into this work.

For true-blue edu-nerds, this is going to ring a few bells. That's because the No Child Left Behind Act and the 2009 economic-stimulus bill already required states to have "equity plans" in place. The last we heard about them was way back in 2006, when the Bush Administration demanded states submit them for review. Since then, a few states have updated their plans, but most states seem to have forgotten them entirely.

The federal department also seeks to get districts to improve how they're spending their share of the $2.5 million in federal teacher-quality funds, and to make sure that the professional development "is evidence-based and is intended to have a substantial, measurable, and positive impact on educators' subject-matter knowledge and instructional practices and student academic achievement." (I've written at length about the difficulties districts face in tracing how effective their PD spending is.)

In part, these new demands appear to be a type of ex post facto response to the criticism offered by civil-rights groups, some of whom have been deeply concerned that the waivers don't do enough to protect poor and minority students.

UPDATED, 9/30, 3:20 p.m. Former U.S. ED Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss says that the Education Department did view distribution as a goal from the beginning, but evaluation systems were only coming on stream then. Also, she notes, the NCLB law requires distribution of qualified but not effective teachers. (Value-added and teacher evaluation were not on the radar screen back in 2002.)

Anonymous said...

But according to Dennis Kelly and the union, all teachers are equal, and only get better with experience. If all teachers are equal, how can you make sure some kids have access to the best teachers? Everyone has an opinion. Dennis Kelly and Ken Tray are our leaders. We don't have to be judged like prize pigs or beauty queens.

This some teachers are better than others is an attempt to divide and conquer, to divide us against each other. We will not fall for it. WE ARE UNIFIED AND WE WILL ALL FIGHT TOGETHER WITH ALL OUR MIGHT AGAINST YOUR SNEAKY SHADY TACTICS!

If you disagree, go back and read the poem. You will never divide us. We will fight!

Anonymous said...

Lady you sound like the sheep in 'Animal Farm'. Napolean is always right. All animals are equal, except some animals are more equal than others.

Why is it that your poem (the song 'Beasts of England'?) trumps logial discussion?

Why are bad teachers more oppressed than disadvantaged children being taught poorly by a teacher who is not trying or just not good at it, who will end up in a low wage job if they don't get a good education?

Why don't we all fight for a better world? Let's face it, if a teacher got tenure they have the ability. Everyone needs some pressure to keep up hard work, or at least a lot of people, every profession. Teachers aren't superheroes, they're human beings. Some will not put in their best if they can get away with it. Some will call in sick when they are not. Some will clock watch. From NBA players, actors (Charlie Sheen), musicians, lawyers, engineers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, everyone.

Ever wonder why taxi drivers are sick 1.2% of the time and bus drivers 8.8%? Maybe because taxi drivers don't get paid if they don't show up. Hello!!!!

Fight for all people, not just one group.

Don Krause said...

She's fighting for herself. Weak, she jockeys for position in the middle of herd, content to let the young ones be eaten at the periphery. The students and their plight have never been the focus of the teacher unions any more than drivers are by auto unions.

Whether major change will come to teacher evaluations is anybody's guess right now. But for the first time we have a federal government that is standing up against union intransigence on this issue. Teachers who voted for Obama must be churning inside at the thought of their President and his Education Secretary taking sides against them.

Anonymous said...

I am a Democrat but this is a litmus issue for me in the primary. I will vote against whichever Democrat isn't as strong as Obama in standing up for children. If Hilary is not for this, I won't vote for her.

Anonymous said...

That's why they waited until after the election to strong arm changes to seniority. They didn't want the teachers unions with all their influence to make an issue of this during the election. But I don't quite understand. These California school districts and states with waivers are not subject to NCLB penalties, but they still have to abide by the union rules which puts them between a rock and a hard place because they can't force changes to teacher evaluation against state law. Is the Federal government relying on states to change their union laws like here in California or will this all end up in court? And where will that end? At the Supreme Court? That could take years.

Don Krause said...

California definitely hasn't changed its union laws as yet, if that's what you were saying.

This waiver process is a way for the national government to use its power of the purse to cajoled states and districts to make seniority changes and they are doing it on margin given the small amount that feds pay out for education.

My libertarian side tells me I do not want the federal government strongarming states on education or most anything else. States have to pay the vast bulk of the bill and the federal government can exert undue influence on them given the small portion it pays of the total cost.

In this instance, I do agree with reforms to teacher evaluations so I must support it for the sake of students, though I dislike the rather nasty methodolgy of blackmailing districts to go along or else.

As for the issue you raised about the courts, in America we litigate everything so we can assume this will go through that process, too.

I will say, post Labor Day, that unions have played a tremendously important role in making America a middle class society. That acknowledgement does not preclude me from ever criticizing anything the unions do. They must discipline their members or it will be done for them. Had they instituted their own professional standards and implemented them wisely , they would not now be facing this assault by members of their own political party, by and large.

Anonymous said...

So are you saying essentially that we should turn on each other and bully and harass each other out of the profession if we are sick or have a midlife crisis and an off year or don't get kids up to your test score ideal because we are helping hug them while they cry asking if they're going to be shot or jailed like daddy or why daddy hits them? If we try to help their psychology by group discussion, that isn't going to help the test score as much as flashcards and mindless phonics drills on the blackboard. So should I as a professional ignore the fact my kids are starving and horrified and abused by a racist society? Should I teach them to sell out and abandon their culture and ignore the oppression and memorize a bunch of verb tables and multiplication tables and never fight back or support their moms through the horror of everyday life in the Bayview? Should I obsess over a CTBS Score Booklet? What if I teach them to memorize every table but still no one will hire them because of the color of their skin?

Should we treat ourselves as viciously as you and your corporate puppetmasters and thugs in nice suits want to treat us? Don't worry, you won't be abused, as long as you come up with a system to sacrifice your victims who get bad stats due to no fault of their own to the corporate gods of conformity, mindlessness and acquiescence to soul-crushing defeat and submission. Kill one of your own for us so we don't have to, is that the idea?

I had a mom come into my class today asking if her daughter is above grade level in math and reading and yelling at her when she asked questions in, I believe, Korean, so I couldn't understand. I teach 3d grade. She mentioned Lowell and Berkeley. Who the hell talks to their kids about high school and college in third grade? She asked me what workbooks I would advise to make sure her daughter is the best and made disparaging remarks about being distracted by a boy who sometimes acts out, a boy whose brother is in a gang, whose mom has been raped repeatedly without SFPD doing anything about it and who has slept through bulletholes shot into his apartment in the projects. Gee, he acts out a little once in a while. Ya think? Show her you love her, take her to the park, take a chill pill, sheesh.

Having to deal with mindless and thoughtless self-obsessed parents like this might make me go crazy for a year or two at some point, at which point you can sick your dogs on me and try to fire me and make sure I am fired, humiliated and impoverished and forgotten about so you can continue brainwashing the masses into mindless conformity and subservience to the all might One Percent!

We will not fight each other, we will fight you. No teacher will ever be fired! We will never stop fighting people like you who only care about the corporate bottom line and want our schools to become a subsidiary of Haliburton. You should go read some Orwell! You make the job of the oppressor so easy, you become him without asking for the spoils. Maybe he throws you crumbs and you pillage the victims.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you take a stress day tomorrow and everyday. You are strung out.

Don Krause said...

Schools are not social services agencies. They are there to teach the students a curriculum that will help them to be good citizens. You seem to think that schools are a corporate tool to turn US students into automatons. Is there something wrong with being educated? Who is going to diagnose your issues without educated people who get medical degrees in mental pathologies?

Anyway, can you get off your bully pulpit for just enough time to explain exactly what it is that enrages you? All you've done so far is to speak in the most general terms in a fashion straight out of the socialist playbook.

You are absolutely entitled to your opinions, but what makes you so intolerant of parents? You speak as if you know best about their children. If parents are abusing their children report them to the proper authorities is is your legal duty. But don't tell us you know best how to raise them. Frankly, based upon what I've heard from you so far I don't think you have any business being a teacher. Among other things, you cannot be trusted to be tolerant in the classroom given your wildly extremist views. In any case, I don't buy your facile humanism. It seems a thinly veiled attempt to mask your real political agenda. If you cared so much about children you'd spend less time out on stress days to which you feel entitled and obligated to take off and instead stay in the classroom helping the children you claim to care so much about. You're busted.

Anonymous said...

I work very hard. I spent most of my lunch cleaning up messes, how about that?

The thing you don't realize is that though you psycho fascists wish you knew who I was so you could kill me, we are smarter than that. You will never know. We are protected.

We all donate our dues to fight you. If anyone runs for school board who even dares to say anything like this, we will make sure they are never elected, one way or another, we will find something about them, donate to their opponents, whisper that they don't work well with others, are unbalanced, something... If anyone runs for Mayor, State Assembly, State Senate, Governor, District Attorney, even dogcatcher, who tries to put in systems where we are rated and fired and evaluated like prize animals or sportscars, we will mobilize volunteers and millions of dollars to make 100% sure they never are elected. Or if they are we will primary them or get them defeated.

Why do you think your proposition lost? Because we knew it was written by enemies of seniority and tenure. We made sure your movement died a swift death. Chris Miller had her sights on our blood and she bled out quietly and no one ever hears from her now. She is finished in this town as are you. We will always make sure anyone who attacks our rights to freedom from arbitrary termination will pay the price. We get to teach kids as we choose, and we will get rid of this stupid testing and all these ideas of teacher ratings and easy firing. Anyone who speaks them will be Swiftboated, so to speak. You do it to Kerry, we will do it to anyone who attacks teachers. We teach kids the right thing so in a generation or two no one will even be thinking like this about teachers, it's vicious and cruel.

Criticizing teachers is strictly prohibited, punishable by being voted out of office or never being voted in. Work with us, donate to us, help us, but do not blame us for bad parenting and societal racism. If you do you won't ever be elected. Why do you think no one on the school board talks about this? Because they know better.

Last In, First Out. Always has been, always will be! We are unified, not divided!

Don Krause said...

Well, if that is true about having the Commissioners in your pocket, why did they vote to approve the waiver application? They knew it would require instituting teacher evaluations based upon student outcome.

Don't kid yourself into thinking that the Prop H outcome was a foregone conclusion. It lost by the thinnest margin and could have gone either way by chance. Unlike UESF that has ton of politic experience, money and volunteers, we were disorganized and penniless and getting bad political advise. So if you are saying it is OK to write lies in the voter's pamphlet -(there is no way anything in the measure could have been construed to mean forcing students out of schools),- then you are making a case against your own competency and character as a teacher of children. You can't really believe in a free and civilized democratic society if you condone abusing the process as a means to an end.

You said , "If anyone runs for school board who even dares to say anything like this, we will make sure they are never elected, one way or another, we will find something about them, donate to their opponents, whisper that they don't work well with others, are unbalanced, something... "

I consider that statement an insight into your mindset -the bully mindset, the thug mindset.


Signing off this thread, I'd just like to say that you are always welcome to continue to comment on SF EdBlog. I hope you realize that these views you espouse are not likely to convince an undecided person of the value of your cause. Quite the opposite. You are not exactly the best PR person for UESF and a highly doubt that the majority of teachers would agree with the statement you made which I copied above. But thank you for your honestly and time spent on this blog.

Please go ahead and have the final word if you like.

Anonymous said...

153 votes out of 180,000 is a tiny margin. I agree, if the opposition hadn't lied, it would have won. Way more than 153 who support neighborhood schools for new entrants voted no because they thought kids would be forced to switch mid year. The lies won.

Politics has become very dirty in this City.

Anonymous said...

It's dirty everywhere. Socialist ideological condones any means to achieve its ends. This is the same mentality coming from the comment at 12'oclock high!

Anonymous said...

I feel kind of sick after reading what she wrote. It's like watching a horror movie all alone at 3 am

Anonymous said...

Do you know what happens to a middle aged teacher who is suddenly fired? They have States where this happens a lot. They work for minimum wage, can't get another job, become a laughingstock in their own community. Suicide rates are high and a sense of worthlessness pervades. The union has sent us a lot of information about the states, mostly the states where Slavery and Segregation were legal and it was legal to rape your wife 20 years ago and oral was illegal and women were second class citizens and interracial couples were harassed and gays thrown in jail, the deep South, Idaho, Utah, Alaska. If they decide they don't like a teacher who's been working for 30 years they can just fire them and give them a bad reference so no one else will hire them. They are ostracized, humiliated, it's nearly a death sentence.

Go watch the YouTube video and see what Chris Miller was trying to do to us. She thinks at least 10% of us should be fired, 300 people just in San Francisco, have their lives ruined, turned upside down. She thinks that's a good idea. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of our brethren statewide. She said we were "finished" and then she tried to assert control over our anti-racism assignment system so we could bring back the wonderful days of Jim Crow segregation we had before the consent decree. She lives somewhere in the avenues, how convenient. She admitted she was a Republican, meaning she cares more about cutting taxes of billionaires than educating or feeding poor children, and supports invading Iraq and killing a million people. She was advocating cutting food stamps at the same time as she was advocating a tax cut for billionaires.

She targeted us for anhilation and she got what she deserved. She never ran, probably because there were hundreds of people dedicated to fighting her and her evil. I don't even know what happened but I know one of my comrades, one of my brethren, probably found out the truth about her and I bet it wasn't pretty I can only imagine.

We were just peacefully going through our lives, trying to help children, trying to be one of the few who cared, trying to educate children to think for themselves and know and love their history, not cram for idiotic tests, and Chris Miller turned on us, villainized us, and set out for our blood. And she got what was coming to her.

She essentially got what she was trying to do to us.

Anonymous said...

I read it twice and I'm still trying to figure out your point. I guess it is we should all accept every teacher as an employee for life whether he or she can teach or not. Every one who ever joined the union should be allowed to fail year after year and get promoted until retirement and TO HELL WITH THE STUDENTS!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

You talk about helping students but you don't want anyone to judge how well you are doing so. You talk about people targeting you, everyone has a risk of being fired, it makes America more competitive. In France, it's hard to fire anyone, and their business lag behind ours. However, in France, it's actually easier to fire teachers, it takes about 6 months to a year, which is about the same as for any other job, and their schools are more effective than ours. In most of Asia and Europe they fire bad teachers.

No one is going to target you for humiliation if you work to the best of your ability. If you got tenure, you are capable, but you need to be held to a standard. And yes, you do have to try to teach kids marketable skills, reading, writing, math. The fact is those who are getting educated well get good jobs, and those who are not are only able to choose among lousy jobs. Your job is to try to help kids be eligible to compete for high-paying jobs and support a family.

I'm not going to defend Chris Miller, but you shouldn't go around targeting anyone who wants to reform seniority and tenure. We need to hold teachers to the same standard as everyone else.

Anonymous said...

8:55, the thing which is most disturbing about her argument to me is that every teacher does have the ability to do the job. The process for getting tenure requires this. If a teacher is bad it is because they are not trying, taking advantage of the system or have a strange and defiant personality like this woman. We could benefit children tremendously by cutting the bottom 15% because the rest would work a bit harder knowing it is possible they can be fired. Guaranteeing a job for life is very bad for those that job serves, in this case public school children.

Imagine guaranteeing waiters jobs for life with tips built in, not required. Imagine guaranteeing NBA players a 12-year career. Imagine guaranteeing software engineers a lifetime job if they show up 40 hours a week. Do you think we wouldn't end up with rude and lazy waiters, chubby poor shooting NBA players and disfunctional software? If so, you're dreaming. But this is exactly what we are doing to our children. And we must fight back on their behalf.

Anonymous said...

Teachers Committing Suicide: When Will The Bashing Stop?
For many reasons too lengthy and private to list here, I have been on a six-month hiatus from writing this blog. I knew, eventually, I would acquaint myself with my keyboard again. I needed to find something to write about that would really hit home. Something that not only pertains to the Future of America, but the fate of the nurturers that stand before them each day. Maybe something that makes my readers angry enough to actually do something, and speak up for those who cannot. And while lazily perusing Facebook last night, a luxury that Friday nights at home offer me, the only night free of fear and anxiety about facing the administrative monsters who call themselves human, I found it. I can't not write about this. So....I'm back!

On Thanksgiving, a grade-school gym teacher by the name of Mary Thorson parked on the shoulder of Interstate 80/94 in northwest Indiana, got out of her Mercury SUV and walked in front of a moving semi truck. First, I need to extend my deepest sympathy and prayers to 32-year old Mary's family. Her parents' loss is unfathomable. It is a mother's worst nightmare to lose a child. As a mom myself, just the thought makes my stomach turn. I cried when I read this article. I tear up now just thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

One might choose to interpret this event as just another person who snapped. Who couldn't deal with their life and chose to end it all. Many Christians would profess that her soul is in for a lot of trouble on the other side. I beg to differ, especially with the latter.

If you read the details of the article, (and I really hope you clicked on it...there is a lot of information there that I am not discussing, such as the nauseating reaction to Mary's death of the Ford Heights CSD administration and school board) and you examine the current climate of education today, you will see (if your mind is open, of course) that this is not just another suicide. Mary had no documented mental issues. She served in the Military but was not exposed to anything there that might prompt a suicide, she did not go abroad. She left a suicide note that clearly stated her reason: she had to bring attention to the embarrassment, intimidation, torment, and criticism that teachers face today.

Anonymous said...

In case you haven't noticed, we are the evil enemy, demonized as the most poignant problem that faces education today. On the radio in the morning on my way to work: "Mayor Bloomberg is at war with NYCs teachers." on the CBS News after work: "We need to remove ineffective teachers from the classrooms. Fire half the teachers at 'underpreforming' schools.'" (Underpreforming? Really? If you want the truth on that one, click here. Oh, and by the way, "underpreforming" isn't even a real word.) At work: "Your lesson was rated unsatisfactory." or, "What does your test data look like? You are not doing enough to 'move them up'." If a student lies and accuses you of something you would never dream of doing (as in Mary's case): "You are GUILTY until proven innocent." Teachers, like most children bullied in the schoolyard, suffer in silence. We are outnumbered. We are here for the children, not for ourselves. We are expected to be completely selfless and subservient. We dare not speak up. We have to pay our rent and our bills and put food on the table.

The vast majority of us chose to teach because we love the company of children. We have the innate desire to be an intricate part of their growth into an intelligent, productive citizen. It is a calling, an art, a career that only a special kind of person can knowingly choose as their lifestyle. Put simply, we teach because we care. Deeply. Given our character, this kind of repeated defamation and bullying is like being kicked in the stomach ten times a day.

Anonymous said...

Some of us are more sensitive than others. Some of us have a greater capacity for compassion. These are not mental issues, they are variables of the human personality. These defining characteristics: kindness, sensitivity, compassion, are what makes amazing teachers. According to her loved ones and colleagues, Mary possessed these honorable qualities. Her colleagues claim that she was an extremely dedicated professional that loved her students. She spent her own money buying them clothing and supplies. No doubt she spent hours of her personal time preparing lessons and doing mountains upon mountains of bureaucratic paper work demanded by her superiors, as most of us do.

Anonymous said...

Mary Thorson is not just another suicide statistic. She is a hero. She taught in one of the most underfunded school districts in Illinois. Half of Ford Heights' population lives below the poverty line. Compiled with the hopeless feeling of being unable to truly help her impoverished students, and the bullying, fear and intimidation she was exposed to each and every day, Mary chose to take her own life. It was a cry for Ford Heights, for Chicago, for Illinois, for AMERICA to open their eyes and stop hating on their teachers, the very people that spend half of their waking hours with YOUR CHILDREN. And for that bravery, Mary went straight up to Heaven.

Anonymous said...


Remember James Borges? Jamey Rodemeyer? Homosexual teens who recently took their own lives? These also were not just 'another' suicide. In fact, Jamey even said, "What do I have to do so people will listen to me?" These young men were constantly taunted and bullied. They were demeaned. Embarrassed. Intimidated. Tormented. Criticized. These unfortunate events were a shameful representation of prejudice and fear among youngsters in the US. They both made national news, along with other teens who took their own lives because of bullying. They, too, died as heroes in their own right. As a matter of fact, their plight opened America's eyes to the detrimental affects of bullying on the human spirit. Anti-Bullying campaigns sprouted up in school districts all across the country. Posters with acronyms and cries of RESPECT! KINDNESS! FRIENDSHIP! are plastered in hallways and classrooms and cafeterias everywhere. In my NYC school, where staff bullying is so rampant it's palpable, the posters are displayed on every landing of every stairwell. Students who bully are now dealt with swiftly by administration, with real consequences. But behind the closed doors of the Principal's office, in the shadows that lurk in teachers' mailboxes and personnel files, there lies a dirty, hypocritical little secret. Students are worthy of protection from bullying. Their teachers are not.

And, dear readers, it doesn't end there. Rigoberto Ruelas Jr., an elementary school teacher in inner-city L.A., suffered the same fate, where he taught in a poverty-ravaged suburb. Quite similar to Mary, he was known as a dedicated, compassionate teacher, loved by colleagues, parents and students. A lifelong educator who no doubt was born with the unique qualities only a teacher can possess. He took his own life shortly after his name was published in the LA times under the dreaded category of "Ineffective Teacher". A ranking crudely based on standardized test scores. Another set of parents now living without their child because of bullying.

Time and time again VAM (Value-Added-Measurement) has proven to be faulty, which researchers, mathematicians, and experts proclaim very inconsistent in providing solid proof that a teacher impacts students' lives. News flash: there is no way to prove our 'effectiveness'. Our children are not products and commodities that can be counted and categorized. You just have to trust us because this is the path we have chosen, and we're not in it for the money. If we wanted to be rich, we would have taken our intelligence elsewhere when we declared our majors in college. Rigoberto, God Rest His Soul, was demoralized to the point of suicide. Maybe he had other stresses occurring in his life that prompted this act. But isn't it possible that the L.A. times publication was the straw that broke the camel's back? He was publicly humiliated by politicians whose sole purpose is to dismantle America's Public Schools and bash teachers into submission. All he wanted to do was make a difference in the lives of the inner-city children he loved so much. He, too, is a hero.

Chicago. L.A. New York City. My city. Three densely-populated American cities with high poverty rates. I can see this happening here in NYC. I can even see it happening at my school, where, as mentioned before, bullying by administration is the norm, blindly accepted by the faculty out of fear for their jobs and integrity, while we pass by several anti-bullying posters a day. I wonder how many teacher suicides in how many states, cities, towns, and counties have occurred since Teacher Bashing became the favorite pastime of politicians, corporations, and the media, and even the general population, whose children we nurture each day. I wonder...why don't these sad stories make national news? If we dig deep enough, we all know the answer to that question.

Fear is a prerequisite to silence. The only way to stop bullies is to expose them, and the silence must be broken.

Anonymous said...

And before you say that's Indiana, it would never happen in liberal California, look at this teacher in Los Angeles murdered by Fox-News encouraged harassment and having their ratings published in the L.A. Times so he could be judged so harshly he did what you want for you, took his own life in the most disgusting way possible!


Newspaper Under Fire After Teacher's Suicide
Published September 28, 2010

Associated Press
SOUTH GATE, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Times should remove teacher performance ratings from its website after the apparent suicide of a teacher despondent over his score, which was published in August, the union representing Los Angeles school teachers said.

United Teachers Los Angeles has also asked school administrators to join with them in the request to the newspaper, union president AJ Duffy said.

Anonymous said...

The body of 39-year-old Rigoberto Ruelas Jr., a fifth-grade teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, was found Sunday at the foot of a remote forest bridge. Investigators believe he jumped to his death, although the inquiry is continuing, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

The motive for Ruelas taking his own life is far from clear. But union officials said he had been upset since the Times published his district ranking as a "less effective" teacher based on his students' standardized English and math test scores.

Ruelas scored "average" in getting his students up to acceptable levels in English, but "less effective" in math, and "less effective" overall. The school itself ranked as "least effective" in raising test scores, and only five of Miramonte's 35 teachers were ranked as average.

The Times' publication of individual rankings for elementary school teachers sparked widespread outrage among teachers. The rankings ranged from least and less effective to average, more effective and most effective.

The union protested in front of the newspaper's downtown headquarters and called for a boycott of the Times, which published the rankings as part of a push for a better method to evaluate teacher effectiveness.

Although other factors may have been at play in Ruelas' death, union official Mathew Taylor said Monday he believed the ranking was a contributing factor based on conversations with teachers at the school. Principals have been using the rankings to crack down on teachers, he said.

"He was a very well-respected teacher," Taylor said. "He took the pressure being applied to him to heart."

Ruelas was last seen Sept. 19 when he dropped off a birthday gift for his sister. He notified the school to get a substitute for his classes Monday and Tuesday, but he did not return to work Wednesday and his family reported him missing.

In a brief statement Sunday, the Times extended its condolences to the family and noted the death is under investigation.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines has said the type of teacher rankings published by the Times, known as "value-added," shouldn't be used as the sole criteria to measure effectiveness.

The school board last month authorized the district to start developing a new method for evaluating teachers that incorporates value-added rankings, as well as in-classroom observation and other measures.

Detractors say value-added rankings place too much emphasis on test-score teaching, especially in schools like Miramonte, a large school in an impoverished, gang-plagued neighborhood about six miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. About 60 percent of Miramonte students are Spanish-speaking English-language learners.

"Test scores are directly related to the socio-economic status of the student population," said Taylor. "The best teachers are given the toughest kids. This man had won many awards."

By all accounts, Ruelas did not shy away from problem kids.

Parents and former students described him as a mentor to youth tempted to join gangs and a tireless booster that low-income children could make it to college. He often stayed after school to tutor struggling kids and offer counseling so they stayed on the straight and narrow.

"He took the worse students and tried to change their lives," said Ismael Delgado, a 20-year-old former student. "I had friends who wanted to be gangsters, but he talked them out of it. He treated you like family."



Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/09/28/newspaper-teachers-suicide/#ixzz2eEHscAMv

Anonymous said...

Ramon Cortines, sound familiar, used to be in SF harassing teachers, now he's publishing their scores and causing suicide in L.A. How lovely!

Anonymous said...

You people called me a thug but you people are MURDERERS! This is what you espouse! I work hard all week and now I am crying and crying reading about these vicious harassment-induced suicides you people agree with! You are the thugs! These two people lost their lives!

Anonymous said...

Lady, you're insane.

Anonymous said...

Ya, you work hard all week.... that is, when you are not taking off the maximum number of days allowed in your contract whether you need them or not as you yourself stated! Do us all a favor and take off the rest of the days and don't come back.

Anonymous said...

Teachers do work hard so let's not allow one extreme individual to paint the wrong picture of an entire profession.

Anonymous said...

Most teachers are good, but we have to stop protecting the bottom ones. Some of every group commits suicide, engineers are fired and commit suicide, that doesn't mean we have to make a law no one can ever fire a programmer in Silicon Valley and all salary needs to be based on seniority and tenure. The industry would collapse. Our children deserve no less consideration. We don't have an obligation to keep every bad teacher in their job teaching our kids just because a few kill themself.

Anonymous said...

District leaders generally support union reform because it is one of the few ways to improve schools without spending the already limited dollars in their general funds. Changing teacher evaluations is a way to streamline the lengthy process of firing perpetually underperforming teachers. Even AFT President Randi Weingartner is in favor of it.

Anonymous said...

Randi Weingarten is strongly against ending seniority, tenure, and due process. She believes it should be as difficult as it is now to fire any teacher, even ones you claim are bad, and even more difficult. We gave up a lot to enter this profession and don't deserve to have to worry about being fired and potentially pressured into suicide. Randi Weingarten is not in favor of what you say she is. She is our comrade, our leader, she will fight for our rights to a humane and decent life and is dedicated to increasing our pay by over 30% by 2020. You can't plan for your economic future if you have the potential to be fired and can be pressured and lose independents.

Don Krause said...

Sorry to inform you.....

These statements are directly from the AFT website

http://www.aft.org/newspubs/press/2010/011210.cfm

1.Weingarten said a comprehensive and robust evaluation system is the necessary predicate for developing high-quality teachers, and for a fair, transparent and expedient process to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom.

2. An effective teacher development and evaluation system “is essential for a fair and efficient due process system,” she said.

3. “Let me be clear: Teachers have zero tolerance for people who, through their conduct, demonstrate they are unfit for the profession. And in those rare cases of serious misconduct, we agree that the teacher should be removed from the classroom immediately,” she said, adding that “too often due process becomes glacial process. We intend to change that.”

4. Standards for assessing teachers’ practice. These standards should be based on multiple measures, including student test scores based on valid and reliable assessments.

5. “Just as there is a need for due process when dealing with ineffective teaching, there is a need for due process in cases of alleged teacher misconduct,” Weingarten said.

6. .... has agreed to spearhead the AFT’s effort to develop a fair, efficient protocol for adjudicating teacher misconduct cases and, when called for, teacher removal.

You're trying to paint her to be old guard. She's not. She sees the writing in the wall, unlike some of the old stalwarts.

I know I said I wouldn't comment more on this particular thread, but I cannot allow such gross misrepresentations to go unaddressed. It is right there in black in white.

Obviously she wants a fair process and so does everyone else. But the idea that no one should get fired is just plain silly.

Anonymous said...

Don, what if a teacher is fired and then commits suicide? Who will pay for their children's loss of a father or mother? Will you? We're talking about multimillion dollar lawsuits here. L.A. is going to have to settle in the $6-8 million range for the teacher who killed himself and Minnesota will too. Not to mention life has no value. I say phooey on your idea of firing some teachers, firing any teachers. There is remediation. There are other ways to deal with people than firing them. It's like in Japan where if anyone did anything wrong they'd just chop off their head. That's insane. I say, due process, counselling, remediation, no threat of firing, find a win win solution. These suicides must stop!

Don Krause said...

People commit suicide. It is a sad part of life that many people can't cope and feel no other option but to take their own life. People from all walks of life, rich and poor, young and old, commit suicide. Shall we not fire anyone because some small percentage can't handle losing a job? Every year many newer hires get pink slips and some are laid off. If they get depressed and take their life did someone murder them, too?

Should anyone who ever gets a job be guaranteed that job for life? And why are teachers different, special? Yours is a nonsensical argument and as a teacher I would hope that you see this. But unfortunately you don't. Frankly, I have a hard time letting such a stupid line of argument continue to dominate this thread.

Please refrain from calling people murderers just because you don't like their views on teacher evaluations.

But what bothers me even more is the idea that anyone who proposes any kind of reform, large or small, to complete unfettered union control of hiring and firing, is cast as an enemy. This is an extremely polarizing viewpoint and I believe it was these kind of extremist views that Randi Weingarten wants to purge from the ranks.

Don Krause said...

Copied and reprinted:

In St. Louis, teachers union plays role in getting rid of bad teachers

St Louis Post Dispatch

“Remember, this isn’t the union of our mothers,” said Ray Cummings, vice president of the American Federation of Teachers Local 420.
Several times a week, Cummings accompanies Jeff Spiegel, a human resources director for the St. Louis district, to schools where they help principals document teacher performance. They meet with teachers who struggle with such skills as classroom management and connecting with students. Some are on the verge of burnout.They put them on an improvement plan.

Spiegel, the former superintendent of Ferguson-Florissant schools, came to St. Louis in 2011 to work solely on improving teaching in the district. Since his arrival, 340 teachers have received ratings on their evaluations poor enough to put them on professional improvement plans, according to the district. After 18 weeks, 181 of those teachers showed significant improvement. The rest, for the most part, were let go

“You know what? Mediocre is not good enough,” Spiegel said. “We have to have high performing teachers in every classroom.”
Cummings agrees.

Rather than fighting the school district on this, he and other union leaders are in full support. In fact, union representatives make up five of the nine members of the administrative panel that has recommended the dismissal of tenured teachers to human resources.


“At one point, the union was just there to take care of salaries, benefits and to monitor the contract,” Cummings said. “Most members feel we should be raising the profession, making sure the working environment is such we can improve our craft.”

Anonymous said...

Don't believe the hype...a few years ago the film 'Waiting for Superman' put America in the mindset for real change, and Weingarten resisted this and opposed both this film and the film 'The Lottery'. It is smoke and mirrors. She could have suppored Michelle Rhee and vigorously opposed her. She wants to maintain the status quo where seniority is still the determinant of pay, placement, etc. She doesn't want real change.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is receiving all kinds of favorable media coverage for her recent comments that incompetent educators should be removed from the classroom.

Weingarten’s headline-making remarks were made during a speech to AFT members on Monday.

About halfway through her 4,400-word talk, Weingarten spoke about an AFT proposal that calls “for all prospective teachers to get ample experience in real classrooms alongside practicing teachers, and to meet a high standard – like the bar exam or medical boards – so they are ready from day one, not left to sink or swim.”

Weingarten continued: “If someone can’t teach after they’ve been prepared and supported, they shouldn’t be in our profession.”

That was all it took for journalists to report that a high-ranking teacher union leader called for bad teachers to be fired.

It’s being treated as big news by education reporters all across the internet.

There’s only one problem with it – it’s not news.

Notice the huge caveat in Weingarten’s comment: “after they’ve been prepared and supported.”

Weingarten is actually saying that incompetent and ineffective teachers should have lots of time and assistance to improve their classroom performance.

In Weingarten’s view, a teacher should only be dismissed if he or she doesn’t show improvement after various interventions.

Since those interventions could take a couple of school years – during which numerous students would be subjected to subpar instruction – how are Weingarten’s comments newsworthy?

There’s also the matter of determining which teachers are ineffective and in need of remediation.

Weingarten and other teacher union leaders have a history of resisting efforts to make student test scores a major factor in determining a teacher’s overall job performance. That would be a sound and fairly simple method.

Instead they want school leaders to produce a lengthy paper trail in order to identify ineffective teachers and follow it with a lengthy intervention process. The bad teachers Weingarten speaks of would be left in the classroom for several years while all this is happening.

How would those policies improve the quality of the teaching profession?

Unfortunately most reporters won’t ask those questions. Instead, they’ll just report that Weingarten favors firing bad teachers, which will trick a more than a few parents and taxpayers into thinking that the nation’s teacher unions suddenly care about improving public education.

Anonymous said...

But as Don pointed out, our school district signed onto the waiver. From what I've read it means next year there will be new standards-based evaluations which expedite due process and termination. Stronger standards and more effective teacher evaluations are already in place in many states. California has been in the back of the pack on this issue and that's the reason why we failed to be awarded any Race to the Top grants. But now its changing. If this school district is willing to cross the union, you have got to believe major change is coming.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree, the problem is they say "next year". They had years to do this and said that it was too much of a rush. Now they can put it off by saying they'll put something together "next year". They're going to be arguing at every point, watering it down. SFUSD terminates an average of 2-3 teachers out of 3000 in any given year. Any real system of improvement would hire 3-400 the first 5 years, clear out the deadwood, improve quality. There are teachers everyone knows are bad. This is just smoke and mirrors. Let's predict how many of the current 3000 are gone by 2020. My prediction is it won't be more than 50, probably about 20. That is not solving the problem. You have to look at the number. If they find a way to protect everyone, it's not a real new system.

Anonymous said...

Randi Weingarten will never sell us out the way things happened in Republican-controlled Missouri. You're right, she put Geoffrey Canada in his place in the Lottery and Wating for Superman, told him where he can stick his plan to increase suicide and harassment of a people who sacrifice everything for the good of children.

Don Krause said...

11:26,

The reason why it is next year is because this year it is being set up and next year it is to be implemented. You cannot just change the way teachers are evaluated in the drop of a hat. Whether it actually pans out is anyone's guess. I understand your skepticism, but this is a huge change from before and at least that is promising. Why you seem to have some kind of quota for how many teachers should be fired tells me that you don't seem to really want a fair system. When you say they had years to do this, what are talking about? Of course the State didn't do it because the unions have the legislators in their pockets and any change necessarily has to come from the state and federal governments that control hiring practices. This is coming for the first time from the Federal government. Really, you don't know what you're talking about. Having an opinion isn't so great when all you've got are opinions.

Anonymous said...

Explain to me how you can be sacrificing everything for the good of children when you spend every last minute of your accrued time off of work whether you need it or not and leave your students to study with substitutes? You are a BIIIIIIG phony.

Don Krause said...

Copied from Lisa Schiff's article in Beyond Chron:

"While LCFF is expansive enough to encompass CORE, there are specific elements that would be better left out. The most serious of these is the intent to measure student growth and to use that as one input in evaluating teachers. Again, “student growth” sounds suspiciously like just another label for the debunked value-added models that have been shown to measure absolutely nothing at all. Because academic subjects are not linear in nature (e.g. Algebra isn’t just one stop before or after Geometry and World History isn’t simply American History plus or minus “1”), the concept of student growth is illusory. This is so much the case, that part of CORE’s plan is to hire a vendor to develop a model of student growth that can be tested and then articulated throughout the various assessment and evaluation components of CORE, such as with teacher performance."

This left me baffled. If I'm not mistaken it seems what Lisa Schiff is saying is that the idea of student growth itself is a fallacy, not just the way we measure student growth. Reading the entire article left me wondering whether Schiff believes in any kinds of measures of student performance at all. Voices such as hers were entirely absent from the discussion when California instituted standardized testing decades ago. It was only after NCLB when the very same tests were linked to consequences that the anti-testing voices emerged.

Anonymous said...

Great article, Don!

Anonymous said...

From Ed Week

"States getting a waiver renewal must also continue implementing new teacher-evaluation systems by the 2014-15 school year—but the waiver renewals would take that requirement a step further. States must, by October 2015, use teacher-evaluation data to ensure that poor and minority students are not taught by ineffective teachers at a higher rate than their peers. Teacher distribution is a very important issue to civil rights groups."

Holy cow! What are they going to do, tell the most effective teachers that if they want to keep their jobs in the SFUSD they'll have to move from their nice high API school to an underperforming school? The district is perfectly willing to ask parents and students to do that, but they wouldn't dare ask UESF teachers to so. Kelly would blow a fuse and the teacher's union members would commit mass suicide. Lovin' this!

-sfed

Anonymous said...

This will be wonderful if it actually happens. Schiff sounds like our friend who takes every day off she can, just anti-everything. As a very liberal person I have to say NCLB and the nanotechnology grant were the only things Bush did which I agree with. It was a bold law which set us towards improvement. Obama is good on this issue too. I won't vote for Hilary if she's soft on this, I'll vote for a Libertarian, but hopefully she will be good on this issue.

If you really want to solve the achievement gap you're going to have to be able to offer more money to teach at troubled schools, and not $1,000, $10,000. And you let the principals check references and look at value add. You create a world where everyone worries about what their boss thinks of their performance. That generally adds to performance. It will be a sea change in teaching, it really will. We need to fire 10-15%, replace them, lower the barriers to entry and decrease job security, and offer rewards for the best of the best. A bad teacher teaches half a year, a good one, a year and a half. We should pay based on this, forget about seniority.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get the 10-15% numbers?

Anonymous said...

Where do you get the 10K for higher salaries or is this just in the fairyland of your imagination? Your utopian pubic school system?

Anonymous said...

It's my belief after 15 years and three kids in the public schools of this city that about one-third of teachers need to be let go.

Anonymous said...

My kids have gone to good schools, maybe 10-15 is low, just my observation. Not scientific. Maybe it's 20-25, maybe even 30.

When do you get the 10k. The idea is we could say, it's so important to get better teachers into the Superintendent Zone Schools, we'll pay 10k more there. Principals will interview, check references, and switch you out if you don't work hard.

If teachers knew if they had a great rep, they could make 10k more a year, and this rep was based on the principal, their students, test scores, they might think twice about taking a personal day they don't need. They might stay late.

Teaching should be like other jobs, if you work hard, you get the rewards. If you're lazy, you're shown the door. Teachers should have similar pressure to anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you misunderstood. Where is the money going to come from to pay 10K to higher performing teachers? For instance, let's say there are about 1,000 higher performing teachers out of 5,000. 10K for each would be 10million. Where are you getting the ten million? Rob a bank?

Don Krause said...

The question I have is this: is there any logical difference between the person who claims that zero teachers should be fired and the person who says that 10,20, or 30 percentage should get the boot when neither provides any kind of explanation for how the numbers are arrived at? Anonymity does not engender greater responsibility as a rule, but I'd like to remind readers that it doesn't do much good to comment if you can't convince someone of your point of view. I doubt many people would be convinced by either argument presented here.

Anonymous said...

Where would I get the money from? We jail 10x the number as in Europe. How about 5 x? Maybe let out people who have been in over 30 years if they can pass a psychological exam, not just keep a crippled Manson girl who's in a wheelchair in the last year of her life out of spite, and pot dealers, 3 strikes, etc. How about we pay cops 100k on average instead of 121k. How about we don't have 3 100k plus assistants for each Supervisor which was itself a part time job in 1990. How about we not have 3000 non-teachers in SFUSD out of 6000 total, maybe we could get by on 5000 total, 3000 teachers. That's just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much waste in San Francisco's government you wouldn't believe it. Maybe spend 10% less on airport security, that's a huge expense. How about end Healthy San Francisco since Obamacare covers that, they're planning to but not planning on putting any of the money they save into the schools for some reason. How about that? Hah? How about it?

Don Krause said...

You could do all that but there wouldn't be a single penny more in the district general fund. There are many different governments and many different and unconnected sources of funding and their uses as allocations to various programs. You have a utopian idea of how things ought to be and then there's the real world. The sooner you realize that the sooner you will actually get a grip on reality. Maybe we shouldn't spend so much on prisons, but until we don't and we actually have a surplus, it is pointless to go around with all these hypothetical possibilities that are real impossibilities. Talk about how SFUSD can change now, not in some dreamland future world in 20 years. If you were on the board of education ranting and raving about getting money from closing down prisons you be on the morning news and not in a good way.

Anonymous said...

Well Don, if someone asks, there are cities who put a lot more of their general fund into education and have a lot more than us. San Diego puts a lot in. We put $30 million in from our general fund. We have a low percentage of kids and many of those in private. People only vote for the state formula but no extra money.

Another fact which I didn't address before is that with Brown's new formula, we are going to have a significant amount of increased money.

Dennis Kelly has been going to all the meetings demanding the money go straight into the general fund to an across the board pay increase for teachers and administrators, maintaining the current seniority and tenure system.

Instead, we could freeze salaries where they are, and offer bonuses for not using all your sick days like the woman raving on this board demands to have the right to do. We could offer 10k for teaching at the worst schools, which would make all teachers work harder as they'd know people check references and they can make way more if they are impressive. We could offer merit bonuses for top value add performers.

Or we could do what Dennis Kelly wants, an across the board 10% increase followed by two 5% increases, based on seniority scales and tenures.

We will never have a surplus if we look for ways to spend every extra dollar we get and never consider schools important. I've been here a long time and we used to have a fraction of this budget. Our City budget is $10,000 per resident vs. $3,000 in San Jose. We're quite simply rolling in money and blow it every way we can. We're like drunken sailors who suddenly don't have rent money. We are going to make a huge amount by ending Healthy SF. We are going to see the economy revive. Care not cash helped us. We need to look for more savings and not spend only $30 million over the minimum.

We are not a well-run city and I can't remember a Mayor who cared much about SFUSD since Agnos. It's always an afterthought.

Anonymous said...

As for seniority/tenure, here's an article. Illinois and North Carolina have gotten rid of tenure. Hopefully we will follow their lead soon. These people think it's terrible, but I think it's GREAT! Our schools would be so much better if we'd done this.

North Carolina actually followed Illinois’s lead.

Illinois teachers lost their tenure and seniority rights in 2011 when, with the cooperation of the two state teacher unions, the legislature passed and the governor signed Senate Bill 7.

As a result, a teacher’s years of service no longer plays a significant role in order of dismissal due to layoffs.

Ask any of the thousands of Chicago teachers, many of them senior teachers, who have been fired ahead of less senior teachers. It took nothing more than a technical change in job title.

The myth of tenure continues even as the reality of tenure disappears in North Carolina and Illinois and other states.

It is part of the national ALEC agenda.

It is disappointing that our union leadership was so anxious to agree to Senate Bill 7.

The Illinois Policy Institute claims that doing away with senior, experienced teachers would improve the system.

Evidence of this is sorely lacking.

Anonymous said...

Government is a beast, they never have extra money for what's important, they need to feel needed. They waste and waste and waste and when schools need the money they say they're broke. SFUSD could easily be spending more than anyhwere else plus 20k per pupil. Government is completely corrupt, you haven't even scratched the surface of the welfare budget and the homeless budget.

Don Krause said...

" SFUSD could easily be spending more than anyhwere else plus 20k per pupil." LOL - I ask that people refrain from making unsupported statements and instead they make even more ridiculous ones.

Where do you get this
crap from? the City of San Francisco has one of the most underfunded budgets in America. California may have improved slightly, but it is a financial disaster. You say San Diego funds its schools better than SF. Bullshit! In 2010, SDUSD was on the very brink of financial collapse while SFUSD was best off of all urban school districts. This has been well documented and yet you continuously repeat this falsehood about how San Diego schools are better funded than in San Francisco.

For the record, it would be very easy to say that some cities put more of their general fund into schools than other. Of course that doesn't take into consideration the size of the district or the fact that something like the rainy day fund is just a drop in the bucket compared to the obligations of a district like SFUSD. The now defunct revenue limit isn't even a calculus in your kindergarten equation. I may not be as informed as I'd like to be because I cannot sit around all day and just read about education issues, but I am sick and tired of people talking complete nonsense and acting like they have had some kind of realization. Here's a realization for you - you have no idea what you're talking about!

For example, you want teachers to get extra for doing a good job, but then you say they should get more just for teaching in the low API school whether they are good or not. Very few high performing teachers would move from a high performing school to a low performing school for 10K, but plenty of inexperienced teachers would take the job rather than starve. Why I'm wasting my time even responding to this bilge I don't know.

Anonymous said...

My point is that they wouldn't use seniority to offer the 10k raise to work in a challenged school, they would use checking references and interviewing and looking at test scores, everything the union won't allow now. This is utopian, sure, but that's what they should do. We're talking about sea change, not piecemeal change. I personally also object to all the spending on the homeless, the problem has been a constant for 40 years, and it never improves. We are paying for thousands of people who come here as homeless.

Anonymous said...

It would only be offered to a teacher if the principal thought they were worth it, and they could be fired if they didn't keep up, or demoted.

Right now, there is very little in the way of consequences for good or bad performance. Maybe half a percent get fired over a career. I know some 30-year old teachers are worth more than some 60-year old teachers. The pay scale is not based on providing value to children. It's based on providing a feeling of comfort to teachers. It is an outdated pay system not connected to benefitting our children.

Don Krause said...

so the principal is just going to make some subjective decision. You're worth it, you're not. She loves me . She loves me not. And how long do think it should take to decide what is good teaching and what isn't. A week, a month? I'm for more teacher accountability , but there have to be well thought out standards. And what will happen if the principal fires several teachers and we find out that s/he the one who needs to be fired? It isn't as if the teachers are the only ones that need to be effective.

AB said...

Am I the only one who sees through this anonymous 'teacher' who is posting extreme leftist and union propaganda viewpoints? This poster (or posters?) is providing a great foil to provoke discussion around some very important issues, and has made me laugh frequently while reading the posts. I appreciate that responding posts have provided factual reference to inform and educate on the issues.

As a matter of logic: If the union position is that all teachers are equal and no teacher can be ranked or rated above another are we to understand that all teachers are equally unfit for the job as the worst teacher? Just sayin'....

Don Krause said...

Of course, the opposition to the union's lockdown of ed reform is going to take her comments and say, "see what crackpots the unionists are?"

She's just one extremist voice. Sure there are others like her, but not most. Unfortunately, the leadership is more like her than the rank and file.

I let her comment on this blog, but some of the stuff was really pushing the limit, not because it was plain stupid, but because it was highly aggressive and threatening in its language. I can't imagine what it must be like to be her.