Teacher Union Bashing on Morning Joe-Ho-Ho

29 03 2011

I wrote this draft two days after Christmas 2010 while watching MSNBC in gaping shock. I couldn’t figure out *why* they all were reading from the same playbook, bashing the unions and the teachers they represent. But they clearly were.

Now in late March 2011, since the Scotts (Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Florida’s Rick Scott) are working that playbook and it’s nearly Game Over for all of us, I am asking myself just how much of a conspiracy this has been all along.

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[I think this was a “rewind” from sometime in 2010 that re-aired this morning.]

Public school is all a big hustle, a heist — did you know that? It’s all about bad public schoolteachers ruining America for money (wait, isn’t that Wall Street, bankers, insurance and oil companies, oh and politicians– teachers aren’t exactly the idle rich comparatively) and the union leaders who protect them. All they care about is “their own money” and not working for children and the good of the people.

NJ’s GOP Thug-Gov said it, and he said even the President of the United States Barack Obama agreed, that destroying the teacher union or “persuading” them to roll over for the GOP union-busting juggernaut, was the obvious forced choice and everyone in both parties and everywhere in America knows it and agrees, except of course Read the rest of this entry »





Woe is me, Wobegon is gone . . .

10 03 2011

In a dramatic reversal of the Lake “Woe-Begone” Effect, in which all the kids are above average, we now labor under the Lake Woe-Is-Me Effect, in which all the kids are failing . . .


Sec of Ed Arne Duncan: 82 Percent of Schools Could Be ‘Failing’ This Year

Yes, JJ knows the correct spelling and is playing with words to make a point:

[Garrison] Keillor says the town’s name comes from a fictional old Indian word meaning “the place where we waited all day in the rain [for you].” Keillor explains, “Wobegon” sounded Indian to me and Minnesota is full of Indian names. They mask the ethnic heritage of the town, which I wanted to do, since it was half Norwegian, half German.”

The English word “woebegone” is defined as “affected with woe” and can also mean “shabby, derelict or run down.”

A point that reminds her of Minnesota’s many-minnie quaint confusions again . . .





JJ Spending This Week With Economist Jeffrey Sachs

22 02 2011

Free! — no admission, registration, tuition. Materials not included and I may need to buy a book or two, maybe not. We’ll see.

It only took a cup of coffee, some battery power and less than ten minutes to get started with a world class professor (see his vita at end of post):

“Both [parties] are completely unrealistic . . . what’s happening in this country? . . .Both parties are financed by wealthy people . . . everyone caters to the top. . .
American influence is waning, American infrastructure is crumbling . . .except if you’re rich and you have a lot of money to invest, you’re investing in China. . . our politics is SO ODD right now, because it’s driven just by the very top. . .pure propaganda [of] Big Oil . . . food prices are at all-time highs, there’s instability all over the world. . .energy crises, food crises, do we talk about any of that in our country? Absolutely not.”

‎Next I found a short profession of his thoughts on education. Real education, not schooling: education to help our kids learn about the real world IN the real world, to “Think Big”, to experience and understand what’s being systematically twisted and lied about for the basest motives, in our textbooks and classrooms and broadcasts, even in the hallowed halls of the capitol buildings and courthouses we built to express and effect our American Dreams. So what does the Doctor order? Unschool them in the real world and encourage every opportunity for them to get out in it and unschool themselves:

“The irony is not that we are at an abyss that is unavoidable . . .it’s almost the opposite. We’ve unlocked the ability to promote economic development in all parts of the world. We have at our hand, the ability to end extreme poverty. We have before us either already existing or within reach, technologies . . .the question is whether we can BRING KNOWLEDGE TO BEAR on these solutions and then Read the rest of this entry »





Forget China’s Tiger Mom, Import Swedish Pay-to-Plays Instead??

8 02 2011

I was pondering the hot new documentary blaming teachers for charter school lotteries with a fellow Thinking Parent (Lynne) the other day. Not necessarily for-profits, just all charters and the desperate lifeline they represent in a rigged system and why that should be so, and who the real villains are, what the real solutions might be.

Then today I’ve been talking with another fellow Thinking Parent (Daryl) about the odd results of GOP mayors and governors seeming to be against the public in fact but all in the name of public service! See Chris Christie, Rick Scott, Rudy Giuliani, for example. See also how universities and even community colleges are being forced into more private funding as for-profits get more and more from the “public.”

Then along comes a story that both fits right in and warps the narrative further out of whack: Read the rest of this entry »





“Derailing for Dummies” — How to Sabotage Civility and Ruin Conversation!

30 01 2011

Derailing for Dummies is a major collection, not one article. Here are the section headings:

Just follow this step-by-step guide to Conversing with Marginalised People™ and in no time at all you will have a fool-proof method of derailing every challenging conversation you may get into, thus reaping the full benefits of every privilege that you have. . .

Read on, and learn, and remember… you don’t have to use these in any particular order! In fact, mixing them up can really keep those Marginalised People™ on their toes! After all, they are pretty much used to hearing this stuff, so you don’t want to get too predictable or they’ll get lazy!

If You Won’t Educate Me How Can I Learn
If You Cared About These Matters You’d Be Willing To Educate Me
You’re Being Hostile
But That Happens To Me Too!
You’re Being Overemotional
You’re Just Oversensitive
You Just Enjoy Being Offended Read the rest of this entry »





New and Improved Obama! Brought to You By Corporate America

29 01 2011

as epitomized at rise-worldwide dot com

“[G]overnment is now said to be the problem. . .
The favor shown to charter schools by the president and his secretary of education Arne Duncan, in their endorsement of the testing regime of Race to the Top, draws on that ideology without much skepticism; and as Diane Ravitch has shown, it has encouraged a broad disdain for the supposed lack of ‘results’ in public education that is not supported by facts.”

I’ve been wanting to write about “venture philanthropy” too, but it’s so big, so important in how it pulls together the impact of what’s really been going on in the corporatization of education — for my parentthood if not my lifetime — that so far I have been daunted:

A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels.





Does Michelle RHEE-ly Put Students First?

10 12 2010

Michelle Malkin’s Siamese twin Michelle Rhee (can’t separate them looking or listening) is being interviewed on my small screen this morning, called a “hero” and a “revolutionary” by conservative non-educator white guys on Morning Joe’s set, for what she’s supposedly doing as the real deal children’s advocate, the only one “fighting” for students against their bad old public schools.

She defends her Wicked Witch of the East treatment of DC parents and schoolfolk (see Time article quotes below) saying the one thing she regrets is seeming so mean and angry and imperious.

She claims she wasn’t all that angry, not all the time at everyone at least, and SHE’s the one on the kids’ side against everyone else in education and in their communities, so she will continue mocking and undermining and firing and fighting for unilateral control — except she wants to sound less bitchy, and therefore more bankable, as she does it.

This belated image adjustment apparently is meant to befit and benefit her new personal-public-private Rule the Schools front, dubbed “Students First” because as I hear her, our nation’s students aren’t first in public policy priority so they’re not first competitively, but she can put them first in both senses if we let her run things:

December 08, 2010 posted by Michelle Rhee
International study finds U.S. students far behind those in other countries [read ASIAN students]

Shanghai is first; the U.S. is not. One reason I started Students First is because I know that we can only compete with China and other leading countries if we transform our schools. If we were to grade the academic performance of the world’s industrialized economies, Singapore, South Korea, and now Shanghai would get an A — the United States would get a C, at best, and in math we’d get an F.

But how exactly will she accomplish all this winning? Her education-school reform ideal sounds like little more than inflicting her own poorly-understood dramas and traumas from Korean and American schooling on us all:

Her parents immigrated from South Korea several years before she was born so that her father could study medicine at the University of Michigan.

. . .After Rhee finished sixth grade, her parents sent her to South Korea to live with an aunt and attend a Korean school, a harrowing experience for a child in a strange land with limited skills in its language. When she returned a year later, her parents sent her to a private school because they found the public schools lacking.

And she never explains, or even acknowledges the question of, how the chaotically individualized and nearly ungovernable USA, by emulating Asian schooling for homeogeneous Asian children in ancient Asian cultures, will magically out-Asian them and jump to first again. (What would true original Western education reform look like, hmmm? Radical unschooling?)

I wrote pretty kindly about Colin Powell and his wife, coming at school reform from their own subculture’s education power of story. I can’t and won’t do that with Rhee’s Read the rest of this entry »





Education Nation Thinking: School is a Social Network

27 09 2010

UPDATE: “Governing requires a humanism that we find largely absent in the business world of today. It calls for skills that the business world often overlooks or shuns. Governing requires the ability not to follow spreadsheets and marketing advice but to weigh all of the relevant information and decide what is best for all . . .”
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School is a social network but that’s not on the menu for this week’s Education Nation. I didn’t hear the phrase “liberal education” this morning either — but could that ideal be what we lost first, that led to America losing everything else?

What if, after a couple of generations of not really educating in the public schools, too busy exploiting them as captive consumers for our competing political causes and business opportunities instead, there’s no longer a critical mass of leaders and citizenry well-enough educated themselves to think productively about how to educate the next generation any better?

We’ve all heard the phrase “liberal education” and those of us of a certain (ahem) age, probably got a passably broad one somewhere along the way to this dystopic ruin of the House Our Liberally Educated Founders Built for us.

Folks with a liberal education, for example, are supposed to understand that “liberal” in this sense isn’t necessarily the opposite of conservative but it is the opposite of narrow, literal, training-and-conditioning-focused schooling, education drilled in to spec at the local mass-production public factory. Certainly liberal education is the opposite of for-profit Big Business and the cutthroat corporate mindset. Liberal education fosters intelligent, higher-order problem-solving and complex moral thought, humanist politics. And it’s not merely technical, not even at the MIT and NASA level. Math and science alone can’t put the liberal in a liberal education.

Devoutly Catholic William F. Buckley for example, had an extraordinarily liberal education as the debate-dominating wind in his arch-conservative sails. OTOH the Governor of Texas and his education makes one weep for education: Texas Governor Treats Colleges Like Businesses [as]
Regents promote his agenda, to faculty members’ chagrin

But Americans now get little education of any kind, much less a true liberal education. It’s all schooling and all to factory specs: tough, increasingly nationalized standards, radically mind-numbing regulations, authoritarian rewards and punishments for knowledge workers (both teachers and students) meted out by principal overseers in all school systems? More of that is hardly a new education idea nor a liberal one.

Anthony Seldon, Wellington College:

“good education should be the opportunity for each child to discover who they are, how they should relate to others, and what they love about life.”

Engaged liberal education vs. “Mass-Production Factories
of the Mind”
:

I’ve been anxiously following the news about the new National Governors Association initiative, Complete to Compete,  and the recent announcements about states competing for Race to the Top funding, and I continue to worry about reductionist models of education driving our reform agendas.  I think that many of our policy makers and government officials at both the state and federal levels actually do believe in the full promise of liberal education, but somehow forget what that really means in educational practice when they get down to developing actual policy proposals.

Here are my notes typed in as I watched all Monday morning. They’re in Maimi-Dade with Arne Duncan and student questions this afternoon. I’ll keep listening and thinking and be pulling from these notes for blogging later:

NBC Universal
EDUCATION NATION

Morning Joe and Today Show

Public survey on who’s to blame for what’s failing in schools, top two get more than half the public blaming them:
elected officials
parents

Then the very bottom group, teachers, gets only one-third of the public blaming them:
teacher unions
principals/admin
teachers

LA Unified Sch District has about one-third of all kids suffering from PTSD, biggest identified problem is violence

NJ Republican Gov Christie says it’s all about breaking the unions, forcing them to admit they’ve created the problem by making everything about their money and not caring about kids. Reward and punishment is his Read the rest of this entry »





Nobody Does It Better: Unpacking Political Corruption

28 01 2010

Before she knew Barack Obama much less Sarah “Pallin’ around with Terrorists” Palin and Joe “You Lie” the Plumber — um, Wilson — JJ once wrote:

I feel like we’ve been fighting each other so long that it’s not about fighting for competing goals or visions any more, as much as it is the fight itself. . .

I’m not in the hole alone, and dirt is flying all around me.

IF it’s really completely hopeless, and we always must be at war among ourselves just because we’re human, then progressive thinkers can at least admit it to ourselves and figure out how to integrate THAT into our world view. It would be more honest.

She concluded much later by asking, “So — now what?”  None of us could answer that then, beyond another shift in party power.  Can we (any of us) do any better now?

In October 2006, Culture Kitchen was hosting serious, honest good-government talk among Thinking Citizens.  Remember way back then? The GOP was in authoritarian command and control (government as god and guns for private profits) but an election was on the horizon and Scientist-Democrat-blogger Mole wrote a post making the case that

“Democrats Stand for Honest Government
The Republican Party is imploding because of corruption. Their corruption has already sent Randy Cunningham to jail and forced the resignation of Tom DeLay and Mark Foley. In Ohio and Missouri and Kentucky their corruption is shocking. And voters are tired of it.

The Republicans try to cover up their corruption, lying for each other. They even protected a sexual predator for six years! When faced with corruption in their ranks, Republicans lie and cover their tracks. Their final defense is to whine pitifully, “but the Democrats do it too!”

Well, Democrats have indeed been known to be corrupt. But there are differences.  .  . We attack Republican corruption and on the rare occasions it comes up we attack Democratic corruption as well. I see no comparable reform movement within the Republican Party. All I see are more lies, more sleaze and more greed. All I see are Republicans and companies like Halliburton and Exxon and Enron in an orgy of greed and profit, looting America and sacrificing American troops for profit.

. . .Republicans wallow in corruption. Democrats are fighting corruption.

So Nance (longtime Democrat) and JJ (longtime independent non-partisan) engaged this argument, in ways disconcertingly relevant this morning in January 2010, knowing what we know now and having just watched the State of the Union last night — President Barack Obama (longtime Democrat) appealing to GOP power brokers and especially to us longtime independent non-partisans.

I recommend you go to Culture Kitchen and read the whole conversation because we weren’t the only ones thinking and talking, but here are some excerpts just from JJ and Nance:

Just Can’t Buy It

Submitted by JJ Ross on 11 October 2006 –

That ship has sailed, hopefully for the last time with a majority of American voters innocently at the pier waving goodbye and welcoming in the new.

However earnest and sincere individual candidates and operatives may be, polls and personal observations persuade me neither Rs nor Ds will be able to dump a load of “purity and honesty” cargo on us to just buy on faith and pay for later, and maybe that’s a good thing.

Some new third party for the same old system isn’t my idea of change, either. The system is corrupt, nobody does it better, and we’re just not in the media mass market for any more cheap and peeling tricks with a fresh coat of paint slapped on,peddled as progressive government.

I suffer from chronic liar,liar, pants on fire exhaustion, like nearly everyone I know in ordinary family life. Say we ARE collectively in the mood for real change, toward something that really is more honest and productive than we’ve constituted as government in our lifetime. What would we suggest, without the union (or any other) label I mean? There ought to be ideas other than soundbite-slogan partisan ones we can at least start imagining and working toward, building new frames, having new conversations . . .

Unpacking Corruption

I’d unpack the sins and slogans a little differently is all (I am not R or Green or any other festive party color.)
😉

Yes, of course, honesty is the right direction, so great for us all if some Dems are heading that way or at least acknowledging it’s the right direction. But it’s not just because they ARE Dems though, is it, really? And they aren’t all alike, nor are all R pols or us independents.

And are they really the only ones you see moving that way? That’s all I’m saying, not throwing out rhetoric, honest!
The poll says I’m not alone in seeing dishonesty in too many places and all the wrong faces . . .

I think your case can be made reasonably to the public but ironically, Read the rest of this entry »





Smartest Two Percent Use It to Conclude Home Education is Smart

19 10 2009

Spunky is blogging a Mensa study done by that organization’s foundation to research the nature of intelligence:

First-year college performance:
A study of home school graduates and traditional school graduates

The academic performance analyses indicate that home school graduates are as ready for college as traditional high school graduates and that they perform as well on national college assessment tests as traditional high school graduates.

The results of this study are also consistent with other studies on the academic performance of home school students compared to traditional high school graduates (Galloway 1995, Gray 1998, Jenkins 1998, Mexcur 1993). These results also suggest that a parent-guided K-12 education does not have a negative effect on a student’s college success.

For those of you needing traditional research to show an uneasy spouse, mother-in-law or the FSM forbid, a custody judge, keep this handy. I don’t need it though. I am my own case study, from a unique perspective as a school professional who unschools, also Mensa mom of Mensa kids including one proving the conclusion as we speak, on campus.

The conversation among Spunky readers is from a different angle than what I tend to see, so I thought I’d open it up here too. I’m not sure what any of this means (the study or the reactions to it) or what to think is smart or stupid or self-validating, except that being really intelligent is understanding that “what we know” — at any age — isn’t as important as “how we think.”

And that, as some of you already know, in 2000 when Favorite Daughter was nine-turning-ten, Mensa referred us to a mainstream but stupid “reality” show to find “the smartest kid in America.” (Since reality shows and kids are in the news this week, y’all might find it particularly interesting.)

Here’s the correspondence we had with the tv producer. Read the rest of this entry »





Learning to Play, Learning From Play

27 09 2009

The whole New York Times Sunday magazine today is about various individual “identity” issues with education, from family background to sexual orientation. (Don’t miss the cover story, Coming Out in Middle School.)

One big piece is the story of our experimenting to figure out how little kids learn to control their own cognitive function, basically how they learn to learn to play, and from play.

It is Not News That Play Works, least of all here at Snook. Which is better news than this was! And Dana is writing about outside play instead of TV for little kids.

For me though, even outside play wasn’t so much physical education as it was the same sort of imaginative role-playing it would have been inside. Fresh air and sunshine was just another staging ground for the same power of story that tv and movies had infused for me with the Rules of the Roles.

And it turns out that’s what this NYT story is all about:

Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control?

. . .a simple but surprising idea: that the key to developing self-regulation is play, and lots of it. But not just any play. The necessary ingredient is what Leong and Bodrova call “mature dramatic play”: complex, extended make-believe scenarios, involving multiple children and lasting for hours, even days.

If you want to succeed in school and in life, they say, you first need to Read the rest of this entry »





Kids Too Small to Fail

12 09 2009

The Story That Made Me Tear Up My Prepared Speech at a Big Education Conference:

We live in a country that, one year ago this month, came together with a sense of national emergency, and bailed out banks that were “too big to fail.”

Shouldn’t we also be living in a country that can come together right now and bail out schoolchildren that are too small to be allowed to fail before they have been allowed to succeed?

. . .This is about much more than money. It’s about our priorities as a nation.