July 12

“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.”
   The financially flush Teach for America (TFA) is apparently getting even flusher.  The Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker (he of the end of collective bargaining rights for public employees) has a budget sitting on his desk that includes a provision containing $1 million in taxpayer funds for TFA.  The Center for Media & Democracy’s PR WATCH revisits the controversies over TFA and what foundations support it:  http://www.prwatch.org/node/12158      TFA has been taking a lot of flak lately.  Critics of the group are meeting this weekend in Chicago to organize opposition to what they see as a thinly veiled attempt to privatize public education.  Valerie Strauss, as usual, has the details:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/07/10/teach-for-america-critics-gathering-to-organize-resistance/     Speaking of TFA,  Idaho just approved the organization as a certified teacher training program in that state.  The Idaho ED NEWS has the disturbing details:  http://www.idahoednews.org/voices/7503/
   A survey of 4,000 adults, half parents and half teachers, in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Australia found that testing and other factors were stifling creativity in schools in each of those countries.  edSurge has the numbers and an interesting infographic about the results:  https://www.edsurge.com/n/2013-06-24-education-system-stifles-creativity-say-teachers-parents    This picture, accompanying the article, is worth a look!
The California State Board of Education (SBE) is evaluating new science standards for students in the state.  They are based on the Next Generation Science Standards and stress less memorization of material and more experimentation and hands-on activities.  Wednesday’s L.A. Times provides the details:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-science-standards-20130710,0,7137766.story   An item posted on the Times website Wednesday afternoon reported that the SBE decided to put off a decision on the new standards until the fall:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-science-standards-20130710,0,3302146.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29
    Yong Zhao, a previous ALOED book club author, reports, on his eponymous blog, that China is cutting back on standardized testing as a burden on teaching and learning.  They have developed a 5-part program for evaluating students and schools that does NOT include test scores:  http://zhaolearning.com/2013/06/24/green-evaluation-china%E2%80%99s-latest-reform-to-deemphasize-testing/
   Yesterday UTLA, the LAUSD teachers union, released the results of a “performance review” survey of its members conducted in early May of Superintendent John Deasy.  Needless to say, the district chief scored poorly on all 25 questions.  This brief piece from the UTLA website summarizes the findings.  It includes a link to the full survey (27 pages) with overall totals (pages 1-3) and area-by-area breakdowns (pages 4-27):  http://www.utla.net/suptperfreview       This story from the L.A. Times website was posted yesterday morning prior to the release of the survey.  It previews it and what its impact might be:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-utla-survey-deasy-20130710,0,5324569.story       3 community groups and a member of the LAUSD school board were quick to defend the superintendent in light of the survey results.  This item, also from the Times, was posted on the website this morning just before 9 a.m.:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-defend-deasy-survey-20130712,0,7971323.story
   Newly elected LAUSD board president Richard Vladovic was cleared by an internal investigation of allegations that he acted improperly in a misconduct charge against a teacher at De La Torre Elementary in Wilmington according to this story in today’s L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-vladovic-20130712,0,4464520.story
      Today the UCLA IDEA (Institute for Democracy, Education and Access) announced they were ceasing publication of their Friday “Themes in the News” which first appeared in March, 2009.  The “Ed News” was deeply saddened to hear this as it made extensive use of the features in its Friday edition.  Today’s final offering from UCLA reviewed what they’ve done in the past and what they have in store for the future (the publication is not totally going away).  You can read all about it here:  http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=fb7af2ba96&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   Thanks to Larry Lawrence for the following two items:  The first is from Oxy’s own Peter Dreier  who looks at how Hollywood films have been portraying public schools lately in an op-ed titled “The Billionaires’ War Against Public Education”.  “Waiting for Superman” and “Don’t Back Down” both paint schools as abject failures with the fault firmly resting with lazy teachers and

their unions, according to the film makers.  However, Dreier reviews a new movie titled “Go Public:  A Day in the Life of an American School District” which follows 50 different individuals from the Pasadena Unified School District for a day.  This cinema verite production provides a much more positive look at what goes on in a typical public school system:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/17455-go-public-finally-a-film-that-celebrates-public-schools     This film might make a good outing (field trip?) for ALOED.  Larry mentioned that it is being screened in Pasadena on Friday, July 26, at 7 p.m.  Details about the showing and discussion:  http://gopublicproject.org/2013/06/screening-july-26-in-pasadena/     Larry’s second item is a letter from Paul Horton, a History instructor at University High School which is part of the University of Chicago lab schools, that is reprinted by Anthony Cody in his “Living in Dialogue” blog for EDUCATION WEEK.  Mr. Horton implores Pres. Obama to listen to the most experienced people on education reform–committed teachers–rather than the foundation heads, Teach for America and others not directly connected to schools:  http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/07/paul_hortons_open_letter_to_pr.html
   And finally, Valerie Strauss titles her most recent blog “How Mad are Some Teachers?  This Mad” which describes a newly formed organization called the “Badass Teachers Association’ who are fed up with being blamed for all the ills of public education.  Here is the group’s logo:
The group's logo

You can read all about what makes them angry and what they plan to do about it here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/07/12/how-mad-are-some-teachers-this-mad/
Enjoy the weekend!

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