July 26

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”  ―    Confucius
   Thanks to Jill Asbjornsen for sending along the following:  For many reasons the Teach for America (TFA) program has sparked a LOT of controversy.  This video segment (28:04 minutes) from the HUFFPOST LIVE is titled “A Critical Look at Teach for America” and presents both sides of many of the issues people have with TFA.  It originally aired on Monday:  http://live.huffingtonpost.com/#r/segment/bad-side-critical-look-at-teach-for-america-/51e6dc2c2b8c2a353c0000a0
   The title of this EDUCATION WEEK article is in the form of a test question: “True or False:  Teacher Evaluations Improve Accountability and Raise Achievement.”  Care to venture an answer?  You may wish to read this very perceptive article first if you need help:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2013/07/true_or_false_teacher_evaluations_improve_accountability_raise_achievement.html
   A while back Florida adopted an “A” to “F” grading system for each of its schools in order to improve accountability.  That plan comes under withering criticism from this op-ed in The Gainsville Star written by the co-founder of a Sunshine State education advocacy group.  If nothing else, check out the cartoon that accompanies this piece:  http://www.gainesville.com/article/20130719/OPINION/130719529/-1/entertainment?p=1&tc=pg
   When it comes to school “reform” policies one group that is often neglected is parents.  What do THEY want to improve the schools where their children attend?  Interestingly, it is not more “choice” and a market-based approach to learning that is the aim of the corporate “reform” crowd.  In fact, what parents seem to want is more in line with what TEACHERS want!  Surprised?  This story from the Education Opportunity NETWORK highlights a poll of 1000 parents conducted for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).  It was released on Monday with some rather eye-opening results:  http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/what-parents-want-for-education-policy/     You can find the official “Press Release” from AFT with even more details about the survey here:  http://www.aft.org/newspubs/press/2013/072213b.cfm     You can read the full report (9 pages) titled “Public School Parents and the Promise of Public Education” here:  http://www.aft.org/pdfs/press/publicschoolparentsurvey0713.pdf
   One thing everyone seems to agree on regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is that they are going to be expensive to implement.  The two groups developing the assessments have just come out with the prices for their tests.  Georgia took one look at the cost and promptly pulled out.  Valerie Strauss discusses the dollar figures in her blog for The Washington Post and concludes “The one thing that’s certain about all of this is that testing companies are going to make a lot of money.”   You can read her po$t here [Ed. note: California, by the way, is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium] :  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/07/24/new-common-core-tests-worth-the-price/
   Do you know what “co-location of charter schools” means?  Diane Ravitch briefly describes what it means and how the policy is causing problems at the 100-year old Lorena Street Elementary School (LAUSD) in Boyle Heights:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/07/24/protesting-co-location-of-charter-school-in-los-angeles/
   Valerie Strauss reprints “a highly unusual post” (those are her words) written by David Lee Finkle, a middle school teacher in Florida, who draws the “Mr. Fitz” cartoon for the Daytona Beach News-Journal.  The comic strip character is a teacher who has recently gone through a period of depression, much like the artist, over the state of education and teaching today.  Finkle includes 25 of his drawings in his article.  Here’s just one example:


   A front-page feature in yesterday’s L.A. Times, part of an on-going series on the makeover of the Jordan Downs housing project in Watts, focuses on the reconstitution of Jordan High School (LAUSD) after it was turned over to Green Dot and the Partnership for L.A. Schools:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-adv-jordan-20130725,0,4556539,full.story
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

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