Sunday, August 29, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I listened to the last blogcast, and it was great stuff. This show promises to be a blockbuster.
Click here to get to the show.
Monday, August 23, 2010
These days, American students are tested to an extent that is unprecedented in American history and unparalleled anywhere in the world.
Education must emphasize creative and critical thinking, not just test taking. I believe we can take our children and society in a new direction by challenging this notion that education should be so limited. We ought to be encouraging art, music, and creative writing in our schools. In doing so, we recognize and fuel the wide range of talents our children possess.
Sounds good to me. Even if he can't win, a credible challenge on education issues just might force Obama to retrace his steps. I have no idea how to start a "Draft Kucinich" movement, but if one starts, I'll be there.
Tomorrow night's guest is a social worker who will discuss the issues students must deal with, such as poverty, single family homes, etc. These are the real issues that affect you in your day to day teaching.
South Bronx is hard hitting, funny, and no nonsense when it comes to education and the deform movement. Check him out.
Friday, August 20, 2010
"...the latest state math and English tests show that the proficiency gap between minority and white students has returned to about the same level as when the mayor arrived. In 2002, 31 percent of black students were considered proficient in math, for example, while 65 percent of white students met that standard."
Klein goes on to tout more of his own facts, saying that the reason for the achievement gap stagnating is not his own monumental incompetence, but 'the state's decision to alter the definition of "proficiency"'.
Then, in an act of hubris that boggles the mind, Klein completely ignores the state results and begins to talk about the city's "progress" in the NAEP--the very national test that he steadfastly ignored in order to focus on the bogus NYS scores. Says Klein: "First, on the rigorous and respected National Assessment of Educational Performance exams, the city's African-American and Hispanic students have been closing the gap with white students across the nation. Using students' actual "scale") scores, the black-white gap in fourth grade has closed by 9 points in reading since 2002 and 4 points in math since 2003. In those same years, the Hispanic-white gap has closed by 5 points in reading and 6 points in math."
Monday, August 16, 2010
It shouldn't be upsetting, though. The state toughened standards, so the number of students rated proficient nosedived citywide. The percentage that my own students fell was less than the citywide average, so I figure I must have done OK by some measure.
At the very least, ARIS could have added another column comparing the number of questions a student got right last year to the number they got right this year. That might be an apples to oranges comparison, but it's not the apples to rutabagas comparison we're getting now. But what do you want for an 80 million dollar computer system? Meaningful data? Pshaw.
God help us all.
Friday, August 13, 2010
"The chancellor has rethought his position," said Natalie Ravitz, a Klein spokesperson whose main qualification for the job is that her name sounds vaguely like Diane Ravitch. "Mr. Klein has decided to explore other options."
When asked what those options were, Ravitz responded, "Frankly, the chancellor just didn't think throwing autistic children into the streets was evil enough, so we've expanded our search and discovered some really intriguing options. We're exploring relocating a bunch of wheelchair bound students to the top of a five story walk-up. There's also the chance that we can move some of the kids from the Manhattan School for the Blind into a trailer parked on the divider of the FDR Drive. And there's the possibility of a grant from the Gates Foundation to issue a one way ticket to Zimbabwe for all the homeless children at PS 723."
Asked whether these options might meet with similar opposition to the plan Klein was abandoning, Ravitz replied, "Well, you know, some people are just complainers. If parents don't like what's happening in New York, maybe they should send their kids off to London like my daddy did with me. Hey, did anyone see my Gucci bag?"
Meanwhile, Klein attempted used his emergency powers to jump the line at the Hair Club for Men, but was chased into the street by Sy Sperling.
Thanks to Chaz, for pointing out the amazing resemblance between Joel Klein and Kukla.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Have our students made enough progress? No. But under our critics' logic, the State's decision to make it harder to achieve a grade of "proficient" means all of the progress City students have made over the years is bogus.
That's like saying Phil Mickelson is a bad golfer if they make the 8th hole at Pebble Beach 50 yards longer, change it from a Par 4 to a Par 3, and he only scores a 4. Oh, and no one told him they were changing it until after he finished his swing, so he's stuck with his Bogey and the label of sub-par.
What actually happened is that the state made their tests easier, not harder as in Ravitz's golf analogy. The state also lowered the number of questions students had to get right to score a 3. So to create an accurate analogy between the state tests and golf, we'd have to say the following:
Well, suppose I promised that for every person a teacher could get to pledge to support the boycott I would add five dollars to to their Teacher's Choice allocation. What do you think would happen? Might I have just a few more pledges? You bet I would.
That is exactly what the movie is doing. They are offering anyone who hits the "Pledge" button on their website 5 dollars that they can put towards any project that Donors Choose is hosting.
So, if I'm trying to buy a computer for my classroom and I can get 100 of my facebook friends to hit the button, I get $500 clams. Not a bad inducement. Many of the people making pledges have no clue what the movie is about, and it's a safe bet that most of them won't be running out to see the film just because they pressed a button.
So far, this unreleased movie has managed to get almost 30,000 people to hit that button. That will cost them $150,000 before the movie is even released. More than that, there is a tote board that would allow up to a MILLION people to pledge, at a cost of 5 million dollars. Just where is a documentary film getting that kind of money to throw around? Could it be the very hedge funds that run the charter schools?
Just so you know, the movie was not offering any money before our boycott began. While we may not have a lot of members, this matter did get a lot of coverage. Cause and effect? I honestly don't know. But I hope so.
To join the boycott, click PLEDGE. You won't get any money, but doing the right thing is priceless.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
To do this, Klein invoked his magical "emergency powers" which are supposed to be used when it is “immediately necessary for the preservation of student health, safety or general welfare.” Klein has yet to say how essentially throwing special needs kids into the streets meets those conditions.
Perhaps comparing Klein to Moriarty is too kind. After all, for all his misdeeds, Moriarty boiled down to little more than a very good criminal. A more apropos comparison may be Klein and Iago from Othello. Iago had Othello's trust, and betrayed it at every turn. Klein has been entrusted with the care of the public school children of New York City, and now he is throwing the most vulnerable of those children out of their school to push the educational agenda of wealthy investors.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Even at its highest level of $260, TC was wholly inadequate for supplying a classroom. Now, at $110, it is an insult. For most teachers, it works out to less than a dollar per student. Yet that paltry sum is supposed to supply all our needs for an entire school year.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I know a lot of teachers love this program, but I have always hated it. The city has threatened to take it away from us almost every year, and it has gone from a stipend of $260 to $150 to $110 in the last few years. Next year the city plans to give teachers 25 cent off coupons at Walmart.
The program itself is an insult. You can bet that at Bloomberg LP the employees don't have to go begging for paper clips, but that is good enough for NYC teachers. Rather than raise the taxes for the hedge fund managers he loves so much, Mayor4Life is forcing teachers to reach into their own pockets once again while denying us the pattern raise to which we are entitled.
If you were thinking about using Donors Choose to get you those paper clips, don't forget that they are taking money from the film Waiting for Superman, the anti-teacher diatribe that touts the charter schools those hedge fund billionaires love so much. You should join the boycott against Donors Choose, as 33 other highly intelligent and incredibly good looking teachers already have.
BTW--Mulgrew tells us in his email that it is the school's responsibility to supply you with the basics like copy paper and books, and if they don't you should let your chapter leader know. That way, the CL can complain to the principal who will fire you within two years to make sure you don't complain about supplies anymore.