April 5

“I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough…the more one reads the more one sees we have to read.” ― John Adams
   ALOED’s own Jennifer Freemon was running for a spot on the Glendale School Board in Tuesday’s elections.  The top 3 vote-getters would become board members.  She was a VERY close fourth (out of 7 candidates) in the unofficial results according to this story in the Glendale News-Press:  http://www.glendalenewspress.com/news/election/tn-gnp-0403-close-call-could-cost-glendale-school-board-incumbent-her-seat,0,1761709.story For the election day results go to the City of Glendale web site and scroll down to the school board totals:  http://www.glendalevotes.org/
   Much of the news this week was dominated by the extensive cheating scandal in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS).  The author of this op-ed believes that the recent indictments should have included people even higher up than the superintendent, i.e., the president of the United States and the secretary of the Dept. of Education:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/15510-the-road-to-atlantas-standardized-test-cheating-scandal  This piece refers to a report from FairTest that documents cheating in 37 other states and the District of Columbia.  You can read the press release about that report here:  http://www.fairtest.org/2013-Cheating-Report-PressRelease  It includes 2 attachments at the bottom.  One, lists the states where cheating took place and the second one features over 50 ways that test scores were enhanced.  Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, weighed in on the scandal with, not surprisingly, some very pointed criticisms of how standardized tests scores are being misused in this comment for the Huffington Post.  It includes a video (1:52 minutes) about the Atlanta scandalhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/randi-weingarten-atlanta-cheating-scandal_n_3002004.html?utm_hp_ref=@education123  A L.A. Times editorial on Wednesday opined about the situation in Atlanta:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-cheating-atlanta-test-scores-20130403,0,6992628.story  The Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” summarized the scandal and some of the reactions to it:  http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=1d1bdfc06b&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   The National Rifle Association (NRA), on Tuesday, unveiled its plan for school protection in light of the shooting that killed 20 students and 6 adults in Connecticut.  It includes a number of proposals including having more armed personnel on campus, fences, bullet-proof glass and tamper-proof hinges installed in classrooms among other proposals.  The New York Times has the details: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/us/nra-details-plan-for-armed-school-guards.html?_r=0  You can read the full NRA report (20 pages) titled “The National School Shield” here:  http://www.nraschoolshield.com/NSS_Final.pdf  This blog, from THINKPROGRESS, was highly critical of the plan and pointed out several contradictions in NRA policy: http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/04/02/1810441/nra-concedes-background-checks-are-necessary/?mobile=nc  The head of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest teachers organization in the country, was quick to react to the NRA proposals and he, predictably, was not impressed.  This article appeared on the CNN Politics web site:  http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/03/nea-chief-cool-to-nra-recommendations/  In response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary the LAUSD has hired over 400 safety aids to patrol its elementary schools reports The L.A. Daily News:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_22930392/lausd-adds-400-security-aides-at-elementary-schools?source=rss
   Wednesday’s L.A. Times had a very interesting front-page feature about an all-girls wrestling (yes, wrestling!) team from Panorama High School and how they are altering ideas about contact sports, feminism and competition:  http://www.latimes.com/news/columnone/la-me-girl-wrestling-20130402-dto,0,1191265.htmlstory
   Bill Gates, in an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post, issued a plea for using multiple measures for evaluating teachers and not relying so much on test scores.  He provides a very interesting analogy from professional football to make his cogent point:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bill-gates-a-fairer-way-to-evaluate-teachers/2013/04/03/c99fd1bc-98c2-11e2-814b-063623d80a60_story.html  This commentary from EDUCATION WEEK reacted to the Gates piece:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2013/04/bill_gates_dont_overuse_tests_in_teachers_evaluations.html  Anthony Cody, in his “Living in Dialog” column for the same publication was highly skeptical of Gates’ motivation:  http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/04/bill_gates_dances_around_the.html
   Are there any large urban public school districts that are successful at teaching groups of poor and minority students?  Valerie Strauss comments on a new book titled Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System And A Strategy for America’s Schools that highlights one such story and excerpts a small section of the book.  Might this be a title for the next ALOED book club?     http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/04/an-urban-school-district-that-works-without-miracles-or-superman/
   The LAUSD has decided to work with a group that invoked the “parent-trigger” law to take control of 24th Street Elementary School.  Under the proposal the district will run the K-4 grades and a charter grades 5-8.  Does this need some sorting out?  Check out yesterday’s L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-trigger-20130404,0,7784984.story?track=rss
   The president of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Karen Lewis, is the subject of an interview with The Real News Network (TRNN), regarding the proposed closure of a number of schools in the City of Chicago.  You can read the interview and/or view the full video (12:03 minutes) of it here:  http://truth-out.org/video/item/15543-chicago-teachers-union-president-karen-lewis-on-fighting-school-closures
   And finally, Valerie Strauss highlights the “United Opt Out” event that started yesterday and runs through Sunday called “Occupy the DOE” in Washington, D.C. by giving her space over to a new pre-K teacher from New England who explains why she’s attending:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/04/why-renowned-educators-and-new-teachers-are-occupying-ed-dept/

Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

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