You know what is on its last legs? Status quo education

My search to find articles to refute has bound upon a plentiful pile at “Living in Dialogue” blog.

Here goes Anthony Cody, yet again…

There is growing evidence that the corporate-sponsored education reform project is on its last legs. The crazy patchwork of half-assed solutions on offer for the past decade have one by one failed to deliver, and one by one they are falling. Can the edifice survive once its pillars of support have crumbled?

No. You may wish it so. But it is not true. Saying it doesn’t make it true. But you know what is on its last legs? Status quo education that your folks have been defending for so long, that is still failing children nation-wide.

Teach For America: This project had as its central premise the idea that what was wrong with the teaching profession was that not enough really smart people were becoming teachers. So we will recruit some high flyers and fill the gaps in high needs schools. And because these folks are sooo smart, they do not need the year or two of preparation that regular old teachers needed – they could learn to crunch data, manage a class and prepare for tests in just five weeks. And if they leave after a couple of years, that’s ok too. They can transform education as the next generation of leaders and policymakers, because they will have brains that classroom experience, and TFA’s no excuses philosophy to guide them.

As Cody continues with his selective history, I pulled this off the TFA website:

Wendy Kopp proposed the idea for Teach For America in her Princeton University undergraduate thesis in 1989.  In 1990, a charter corps of 500 committed recent college graduates joined Teach For America and began fueling the movement to eliminate educational inequity.  Since then, nearly 33,000 participants have reached more than 3 million children nationwide during their two-year teaching commitments. They have sustained their commitment as alumni, working within education and across all sectors to help ensure that children growing up in low-income communities get an excellent education.

Given the magnitude of the educational inequity, we have aggressively worked to grow and deepen our impact.  Our corps members and alumni have helped accelerate the pace of change as teachers, principals, elected officials, social entrepreneurs, and leaders in all fields.  Alongside many others, they have proven that classrooms, schools and now whole communities can transform the life trajectories of all students, regardless of background.

We are energized by the progress we have made over the past 22 years and more hopeful than ever before that one day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

From this excerpt, I can see that TFA was started to commit recent college graduates who believed in eliminating educational equity to serve as teachers in low income communities. TFA is working the make sure that poverty doesn’t write  a child’s future but that their education does. But because the union movement and it’s friends like Diane Ravitch and Anthony Cody are just now trying to tackle poverty, they can’t admit that anyone else is, because it takes away from the success they can produce. How selfish. That doesn’t sound like its about kids. Sounds like it is about adults.

What is really the difference between a recent college graduate who took 30 more credits in education and a TFA teacher? Only the quality of their instruction. We already know there is a movement to transform schools of education because the teaching profession is lacking a true leader in that field. So, a lackluster 30 credits (which split up over a couple days a week for a couple of hours a day over two semesters) or 5 weeks of intensive training? Sounds like they could be pretty equal to me.

But this year TFA is hitting some serious headwinds. They are finding that recruitment has dropped for some reason, and the organization is even closing its New York training instituteoffice. Perhaps students have been finding out some of the problems with the program, discovering in advance that five weeks is not adequate preparation for the challenge of teaching in a challenging school. Perhaps potential recruits have encountered TFA alums sharing their experiences, or even some of those organizing to resist the program. And word may have leaked out that TFA is not the best vehicle for those concerned with social justice – given that corps members are sometimes being used to replace veteran teachers.

Ok Cody, where is your data, your research to support the crumbling? So what they are closing an office and there are fewer applicants. Those statements say nothing about the quality of the work TFA teachers do, or the success they have with their students. Where is your data proving that students with a TFA teacher perform worse than traditional public school teacher taught students? Unless you can back your statements up with some data, you are just crying wolf.

Since you mentioned veteran teachers….Some are very good. Many are not – either they haven’t kept up with the times, their classroom discipline/management style doesn’t mesh with today’s youth, they haven’t had a professional, thorough evaluation to determine where their professional development needs are (the subsequently they did not receive professional development to meet their needs, which not their fault, but a reality), they won’t learn new education strategies, or the worst, they are just collecting a paycheck and passing out worksheets all day long.

This may not be a majority of teachers – BUT THEY DO EXIST!! and every single moment a student spends with these ineffective teachers is a wasted moment that the child is expecting to receive a quality education and simply is not. Children, parents and the community expect and are paying for high quality education. When are kids aren’t receiving a quality education we are all wasting our money, might as well be flushing it down the toilet. Or, Like in DeKalb County, GA where I live, as long as all the friends and family have a high paying job at the school department, all is right with the world.


We’re for high quality, effective teachers

The last segment of Diane Ravitch’s comments from the Tennessean:

And she said public school teachers today are seen as “public enemies,” pointing to evaluation systems, like the one in Tennessee, that measure teachers in part by test scores.

“Reformers say their plans will elevate teaching as a profession, but their plans are destroying teaching as a profession,” she said.

First of all, society as a whole has created an environment in which we have created ineffective teachers. You can read a more thorough post here on this topic. I admit, we have all contributed to the lack of support for teachers, lack of resources, poorly planned and executed professional development, lack of a comprehensive evaluation to help teachers know where to improve their skills. Yet, all of this has occurred under the watchful eye of the teacher’s unions. I still can’t quite figure out what it is that they have accomplished for teachers all this time.

Oh yes…its about union dues….as I wrote about here. Not about teacher quality or students. Maybe working conditions for teachers (which does contribute) but not enough about making sure that teachers grow into and remain quality teachers.

But now we realize we’ve made some errors and are beginning to correct them. Every single person on every side of the the isle wants our students to have an effective teacher. We just seem to differ on what that effective teacher looks like and to which students it matters that they have a quality teacher. The union position is to save any and all teacher jobs and the ed reform movement wants to make sure every student has an effective teacher.

I’ll admit we, as a society made mistakes with our teachers for far too long. It’s not necessarily the teacher’s fault. They have been doing the best they can in the 150 yr old school system they have been given. But if current teachers can’t take this new opportunity to teach students new universal standards, be given evaluations that will help them improve their skills and allow for targeted professional development and participate in some of the activities that our kids in poverty need like staying later hours, improving communication with parents, differentiated instruction, and project -based hands on learning where appropriate – then I don’t want you teaching in my kid’s classroom.

Interestingly, when Michelle Rhee offered to a union supporter in DC to give that parent’s kids the ineffective teachers that she fired, so she could save their job….the parent declined.

Here are a couple of ways we can improve teaching conditions. The education reform movement is not the public enemy of teachers, we’re just pro high quality, effective teachers.

There goes Diane again with her rhetoric, instead of adding to the conversation in a productive way, she’s just spewing more of her own self-made facts.

Can you unravel Ravitch’s quagmire?

More of Diane Ravitch’s commentary recently in TN:

Though acknowledging there are “some good charters,” she accused some of making sure low-performing students don’t attend them.

First of all, “some good charters” is not a valid statement a person described as “one of the nation’s leading voices against charter schools and various new education reforms” would make, so let’s not pretend she actually acknowledges that there are any good public charter schools.

#TruthaboutCharters  In my experience, charters largely enroll students in                 underserved, often poverty stricken areas (Which Diane later claims is the one of the major barriers to education, yet “anti-reformers” aren’t “doing anything” about poverty….more hypocrisy).

Also, this is interesting language.

“she accused some of making sure low-performing students don’t attend them.”

So, after I just said that public charters often serve kids in poverty, is Diane trying to say that public charters “cherry pick” high performing students?

Her statement seems to imply that “some charters” must have high performing students if they are allegedly “making sure low-performing students don’t attend them.”

So we know that public charters often serve kids in poverty. and apparently, by Diane’s own admission have some high performing scores. So it is possible, Diane, that public charters are enrolling children in poverty AND those same students are achieving high scores? Of course not, because then Diane, herself would be the hoax, not the education reform movement.

Just like her friend and board member Anthony Cody who can’t admit that students in DC, Chicago or NYC have made any gains.

Cody denies progress to advance his agenda

Really? No Gains in NYC?

Anthony Cody, can you look a child in DC in the eyes and tell him that his progress is unrecognized

What a shame it is to have those in the “education sphere” who can’t acknowledge when students perform well.

But wait, now I am confused. Didn’t Diane also say that it is us, the education reformers, who are claiming our schools are failing and they are actually doing well?

So which is it? Schools only do well when you can tie it to you and your “people,” but those gains don’t matter if you have to give credit to your “opposition?”

Where does the best interest of kids fit into Diane’s quagmire?

Diane Ravitch is the “hoax”

ICYMI, Diane Ravitch was in TN recently.

She demonstrated exactly what is wrong with the anti-reform movement. The only hoax in the room was Diane Ravitch.

the “narrative that the reformers have been constructing is itself a hoax.

“They say that our schools are failing. Again and again it’s on the cover of magazines and in the news media — our schools are broken, our schools are obsolete.

“Our test scores are not flat or declining,” she countered. “Today, test scores are the highest for every group than they’ve ever been in history.”

Are all schools failing? Certainly not. But there are definitely millions of students who do not have access to a quality education and they are being failed by our system everyday. This can not be denied. Though, apparently, Diane Ravitch thinks every child is receiving a great education!?!?! I hear stories like these all the time.

She claims that education reformers are putting all our schools in one basket “failing.” Yet she seems to have no problem putting charter schools and every other reform we’ve been putting in place to combat poverty and provide an equal and quality education to every student in the “bad” basket. Hypocrisy everywhere.

This reminds me of how the anti-reformers viciously attack their opponents instead of act like adults and have a real conversation.

Diane would rather block her opponents that actually listen to them. Because maybe they would be right and she would be wrong? That can’t be. Not for a professional with a laundry list of accolades…and not a single day in a K-12 classroom.