Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Teachers and a Microphone

There are no words. Just watch.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Might Be An Ed Deformer If...

I read an interesting piece today called "You Might Be A Conservative If...". It got me thinking that there are a lot of ed deformer types who may not recognize themselves as such. Many E4E "members", for example, claim to be pro union even though they seem to want to destroy everything unions stand for. Those of you unsure of which side of the fence you're on should definitely give this a look.

You Might Be An Ed Deformer If...

1. You're asked whether you favor unions and you say people should be allowed to marry whomever they please.

2. You'd have to work 20 years in the system for your salary to equal what mummy and daddy paid for one year of your undergrad work.

3.  You believe that exorbitant teacher salaries and lavish pensions are wrecking this country's economy, so you spend millions of your hedge fund profits fighting them.

4. You chose your child's private school based upon low student teacher ratios, high tuition, and college acceptance rates, but you think public schools can be "fixed" by putting 50 poor kids in a room with a "quality" teacher.

5. You consider a teacher with three years of experience a veteran.

6. Your first day of teaching introduced you to the first black people you ever met who you didn't have to tip.

7.  You spend more on beard maintenance in a month than you received in Teacher's Choice last year.

8. You think that poverty, drug addicted parents, gang-infested neighborhoods, and hunger can all be defeated with a sharpened number 2 pencil.

9. You want to open up a chain of charter schools because everyone in your yacht club has one.

10. You've spent more time writing white papers than Cheech and Chong have spent rolling papers.

Any other signs you know of? Post 'em in the comments!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mr. Talk Scoops GothamSchools

Yep, it's official. Ruben Brosbe is leaving his lackluster career as a classroom teacher, as I speculated earlier today. You read the news here hours before it appeared in Gotham Schools, as Ruben couldn't help but leave a comment to me before departing. I'm sure GS is thrilled that their blog monkey (TM SoBronxSchool) allowed another blog to get the scoop!

The problem is, he is now going to Harvard (Muffy will be delighted) to study education policy. How can a failed classroom teacher even hope to be a leader? Here's the comment I made at GS.

Burning bridges, eh, Ruben? Blaming your admins for your failures as a teacher is really pretty lame, and you can bet that you won't be welcomed into many schools after what you said in this post. What happened to all that talk of "no excuses"? You've blamed your poor performance on the kids, the admins, the parents, the union--everyone but YOURSELF. Maybe teaching isn't as easy as you supposed it would be--those of us who have dedicated our lives to the classroom resent your know-it-all attitude. While I really don't wish ill on people, I have to say I am glad you failed as a classroom teacher.

What shocks me is that you seem eager to bypass the challenge of being a successful classroom teacher in order to try to pursue a career in education policy. One assumes that your privileged background has opened the doors to Harvard, and will probably lead to a career as an ed deformer in the mold of your idols, Evan and Sydney. It's a shame, because you may end up dictating policies that you yourself could never manage in a classroom.

I guess those who can't teach, go into education policy
Something tells me we haven't heard the last of Ruben.

Breaking News: Is Ruben Leaving Us?

In case you don't read the comments on this blog, there was an interesting one this morning on my post about Ruben's Waterloo. The comment reads as follows: "Newsflash! Ruben is Harvard bound in 2 weeks so tenure is NOT a thought. Let the loathing commence…"

I have no idea whether this comment is true or not, but it sure sounds as it it were written by the man himself, especially the "Let the loathing commence" part. The comment was posted by someone with an IP from New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Is Ruben now studying podiatry? Perhaps he wishes to learn how to remove the foot that is perpetually lodged in his mouth.

True or not, I have to say that this comment got me started thinking about something that has troubled me about the tenure debacle. Bloomberg is claiming all kinds of credit for making it harder to get tenure, but the truth is that a lot of folks were denied for no other reason than they had about 24 hours to put a portfolio together for their superintendent. I honestly don't know if I could have put something together on such short notice that would have made me tenure-worthy.

What's troubling me is all these extensions. If you've been extended, you simply have to start evaluating your other career options. I'm sure that a lot of new teachers who were extended are looking for jobs elsewhere or throwing in the towel. If you've been extended twice, like Ruben, you simply must have an exit strategy, as it seems to me that principals will think really hard before they grant tenure to someone who has twice failed to receive it.

By making tenure so arbitrary and basing it largely on TDR scores that have little validity, the mayor has guaranteed that many promising young teachers will flee the system.

All of this is bad news. We have senior teachers under attack by astroturf groups like Asshats4Education, and newbie teachers under attack by a mayor who wishes to burnish his education legacy before he slinks out of office.

Whether Ruben stays or goes is of little consequence. What does matter is that NYC is making a concerted effort to make teaching a temporary career, by hook or by crook. This can only harm the profession, and in the end, the children who pass through our doors.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ruben Brosbe's Waterloo

Probably no one was looking toward the release of the NYS test scores with more trepidation than Ruben Brosbe. He has twice had his tenure extended and now appears to be on the five year plan. As such, a lot rides on this year's scores. After all, he was apparently extended because of his dismal scores in the fourth grade which he was foolish enough to publish in the NY Post. Then, he switched to third grade, which, conveniently, kept him from getting another dismal score (as only grades 4-8 currently get them).

Apparently, it didn't work. While Ruben's individual scores are not out there, his grade's scores are. Here are the third grade results for PS 310:

SUBJECT    # Tested    % Level 1    % Level 2    % Level 3    % Level 4
Grade 3 ELA      90             24.4             46.7            28.9             0
Grade 3 Math     98             12.2             39.8            43.9             4.1

Now, obviously, these aren't all Ruben's kids. Even so, it's clear that Ruben could not have gotten a single student to level 4 in ELA. Less than a third of the students on his grade achieved a level 3. There are nearly as many level 1 students as level 3 students. Math scores are marginally better (as math scores usually are), but they are still abysmally low, with more than half the children failing to meet standards.

This does not speak well for Ruben's chances of getting tenure next year. The numbers will do him in. That, of course, is what Ruben and Asshats4Education claim they want. No excuses. If kids don't perform, it's the teacher's fault. Poverty, drug abuse, and neglect be damned. Data is king. Teachers must perform or perish.

I hope the Asshats have a job lined up for you, Ruben, because these numbers would appear to be your Waterloo.

Check Your School's Scores

You can check your school's ELA and Math scores here. It's a loooong document. NYC schools are listed beginning on page 734. They are listed numerically starting with District 1, and organized by school number after that. Happy searching!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Don't Mess With Matt Damon

Thanks to SchoolGal for directing me to another video in which the main stream media supports teachers. Anderson Cooper of CNN had some words to the wise: Don't Mess With Matt Damon. If you don't mind sitting through a 30 second commercial, you'll find this entertaining. Don't forget to watch the video of Lawrence O'Donnell I posted earlier today as well.

Lawrence O'Donnell Changes The Conversation

If you don't watch Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, you should check him out. He devoted a huge segment of his show, The Last Word, on a defense of teachers. Spurred on by the inspiring comments of Matt Damon, O'Donnell picked up the torch and ran with it, devoting over ten minutes of his air time to a staunch defense of teachers and unionism. You can watch it below.

I wonder if this may be the start of the inevitable backlash against the ed deform movement. Remember, O'Donnell is on MSNBC, the network that spent a week supporting the reformers and Waiting for Superman during their "Education Nation" teacher-bashing fest. At least, the conversation has begun to change. This is no longer a one-sided, corporate sponsored debate.

Watch and enjoy.