Proposed Regulations for Teacher Preparation Programs

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The Badass Teachers Association calls for changes to be made to the Department of Education’s recent legislative proposal to attach student test scores to the effectiveness of new teachers and their credentialing programs. This proposal, under the guise of providing access to more meaningful indicators of teacher preparation program performance, proposes to create a continuous feedback loop of communication between school districts and institutions of higher learning to facilitate program improvement and provide information that can be used by potential employers to guide their hiring decisions as well as prospective teachers to guide their application decisions.

We disagree with the premise that teacher preparation programs are not adequately preparing teachers. The trend of a higher attrition rate for new teachers has little to do with how well they are educationally prepared and armed with theoretical knowledge of classroom management and teaching skills. This is yet another false narrative created in an attempt to disguise the fact that the over-management of the classroom by people who have little educational background or training is one of the biggest causes of stress for any educator and therefore, one of the leading reasons teachers leave the classroom. This legislation fails to acknowledge the very people that it proposes to assist – new teachers and underserved student populations. This new proposed rule sets in motion the construction of yet another data analysis system that fails to address the real issues that are faced by the new teacher in socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The Department of Education is seeking to define “high-quality teacher program” through statutory regulation in an attempt to provide limits and definitions for the purpose of establishing TEACH Grant eligibility. Authorized under title IV of the HEA, the TEACH Grant program provides aid to students and institutes of higher learning who are preparing to become teachers. In return, a student must teach in a low-income school and in a high-need field for four years. Effectively, the groundwork is being laid for a decimation of the TEACH grant program. If a teacher that is teaching in a low-income or high-need school, the fact that is still being ignored is that student educational achievement is directly related to a student’s socio-economic status. Research shows that student growth scores will not be measurably increased in these areas until the issues of poverty are dealt with; the perceived effectiveness of schools that educate teachers to teach in these urban and rural areas will not be rated highly and grant eligibility will likely be revoked. The DOE does not need to put more obstacles in the way of the student teacher who decides to serve in our underserved community and that will be the effect if this new proposal is enacted.

The future of teacher preparation programs will become as segregated as our children’s schools are becoming. The effective programs will be identifiable as the higher tuition university level schools that are financially unattainable to most of our young future teachers that our students are desperately in need of – our future teachers of color. Financial obligations that were once legislatively responsible by the Federal government under the TEACH grant will lessen as fewer teachers seek to teach in these areas as their evaluation scores are becoming more reliant upon student factors that are beyond their control. The Department of Education currently predicts that 75% of TEACH recipients fail to fulfill the requirements of the TEACH grant. But with this proposed legislation, institutions of higher learning will shirk their responsibility to provide quality teachers to these areas in fear of receiving a less than “exceptional” or “effective” rating. Once again, our students are the ones that are destined to suffer with the consequences of these legislative decisions.

The Badass Teachers Association calls for changes to be made to these legislative proposals. We agree that there is a need to become proactive to address the falling retention rate of teachers. But, it is in the best interest of education to address the real issues of creating more supportive mentoring programs that will assist a new teacher in the first one to four years in a classroom setting rather than to adjust the limited time frame that most states currently have in place as their mentoring and student teaching programs. We see long-term value in the development of stronger mentoring programs that continue to support new teachers that will help the high rate of attrition of teachers within their first five years. In turn, this will benefit students by creating an educational team within a district that has invested in the future of the school and the futures of these students.

We strongly urge that all funding for programs that circumvent appropriate teacher preparation needs, such as Teach for America, be discontinued. The premise that these organizations are based upon, that one only needs a minor amount of training to be placed into the classroom are detrimental to the fabric of the educational profession. Additionally, teacher preparation and certification materials which use online testing formats should be reviewed for academic validity. Profit-making from our students is a growing concern and any profiteering from teacher preparation, certification, re-certification and endorsement processes should be eliminated.

The means through which corporations have been allowed to profit from our schools needs to be examined. Common Core standardization, data collection, and testing regimes have all given access to money making educational companies and guidance from any organization that promotes this needs to be examined and abandoned, including the Higher Educational Trust Organizations such as NASULGC and ASCU, AAUP, NCTQ, and Education Trust. Educational leadership proponents who provide policy input to Chief Superintendents and advocate top-down management need to be disaggregated from the discussion of teacher preparation, insofar as efficacy rather than efficiency has more direct bearing on pedagogical evaluation and teacher preparation.

We know, as professionals, that data can be a valuable tool in the decision making process. But that data loses credibility when there are too many factors that can influence the end numbers that are used for analysis. This is the case in the reporting procedures that Arne Duncan has proposed by tying student test scores, through a new teacher, back to an institute of higher learning. Uncontrollable variables, such as administrative influence, student population variables, the composition of the district board of education, budgetary restrictions, and access to resources are all factors that have an influence on the educational performance of students within a district and within a specific classroom. There is no statistical value in holding an institution of higher learning accountable for the data outcomes when they are only responsible for affecting one factor of the input, the education of future teachers. The Value Added Model has been refuted and must be abandoned in the methodology of teacher preparation, evaluation, certification, re-certification, and endorsement programs.

There is value to the concerns that have been raised to analyze and improve teacher preparation programs. We agree that there are factors that can be improved upon that will directly impact these programs and help them become more effective to address the needs of our students in our changing classrooms. However, basing these improvements upon student data that is a small representation of the future potential of children as well as fails to acknowledge the real indicators of a child’s educational success should not be considered for policy based upon best educational practices.

Identifying Fact from Fiction:

Identifying Fact from Fiction:  Who are the REAL Progressives in Education Reform?

 

By:
Marla Kilfoyle  @marla_kilfoyle
Melissa Tomlinson  @jmtrht0625

Redapple-transparent-small2To be a Progressive means to believe and advocate for Progress.  What defines Progress?   Progress is defined as moving forward and onward.   As we discuss people of the Progressive movement, we should be asking one important question; “Who are they advocating for?”  Let’s review how some self-proclaimed Progressives are moving public education forward. Rahm Emmanuel, Mayor of Chicago, supports the closure of over 50 schools in predominantly communities of color.  He allows the opening of close to 30 charters and a contract for over 300 Teach for America recruits to go into schools, replacing veteran teachers and teachers of color.  Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, is an ardent supporter of the privatization movement.   His continuous support of charter schools continue to hyper-segregate communities.  He continues to be an ally to Wall Street hedge funders who finance and support the privatization of public education.  Governor Cuomo has even stated emphatically that he would “break” New York state’s public school system.

Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education USDOE, continues to push out policies that harm children in our public schools.  He continues to push his agenda of high stakes testing that has led to the false identification of our children, schools, and teachers as “failures.”   He has insulted mothers and grandmothers who work hard to support their children and public schools.  Arne Duncan falsely uses IDEA (Individuals with Disability Act) to support an agenda that seeks to put curriculum and graduation out of reach for our children with disabilities.   He continues to ignore the undeniable fact that the Common Core Standards and the testing that will accompany it will not address the issues of poverty and inequality that continue to exist in our public school system.

President Obama’s Race to the Top program has done little except support the privatization of our public education system.  Race to the Top requirements attempted to establish statewide longitudinal student data tracking systems.  Race to the Top would not allow a state to receive money if they put a cap on charters, did not support Common Core and the testing consortia that went hand in hand with it.  Race to the Top money would also not be available to the state if they did not evaluate their teachers based on student test scores.  This “progressive” agenda quickly led to the closing of schools, the push-out of teachers of color, and the push out of veteran teachers.  This “progressive”agenda led to charters taking the place of closed public schools and Teach For America recruits with 5 weeks of training taking the place of fired veteran teachers and many teachers of color.

Another self-proclaimed progressive group is Democrats for Education Reform, a front for Republicans and corporate interests.  In 2014, DFER financed candidates in elections that sought to close public schools.  DFER supports the agenda of punishing children with High Stakes Testing, blaming teachers for “failing” schools, attacks teachers right to due process, and doesn’t seem to support providing equitable educational funding to help children. They are secretly funded by billionaire Eli Broad and many other hedge funders.   It is clear that the education agenda of the self-proclaimed Progressives has been, as Diane Ravitch writes, “to transfer  public funds to private management and the creation of thousands of deregulated, unsupervised, and unaccountable schools that have opened the public coffers to profiteering, fraud, and exploitation by large and small entrepreneurs.”  This doesn’t seem to be forward movement for children or education.   It sure seems like forward movement for the self-proclaimed progressives to make more money off the backs of our children and their public education.

What do real Progressives look like and what are they saying?   Diane Ravitch continues to write and tour the country exposing the false narrative of the self-proclaimed progressives.  Her latest quote, “I want schools for the poor that the wealthy are giving their children.” Her most powerful quote is, “closing schools is not reform.”  She challenges the undemocratic nature of corporate education reform, “There is something fundamentally antidemocratic about relinquishing control of the public education policy agenda to private foundations run by society’s wealthiest people; when the wealthiest of these foundations are joined in common purpose, they represent an unusually powerful force that is beyond the reach of democratic institutions.” (Ravitch – The Death and Life of the Great American Public School System, 2011).

Mayor of Newark Ras Baraka, another strong and true Progressive, says of public schools, “We need our schools to be reformed, but we should be involved in that reform.  We are smart enough to reform our schools.  We don’t need to give them away.”   Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont, states“Forty years ago, some of our great public universities, as well as many state colleges, were virtually tuition free. Today, the cost of college is unaffordable for many. In 1990, the U.S. led the world in the percentage of 25-34-year-olds with college degrees. Today we are in 12th place. Things need to change. Higher education must become affordable for all.”  Finally, Pedro Noguera, a professor of sociology at New York University, and the author of City Schools and the American Dream and co-editor of Unfinished Business: Closing the Racial Achievement Gap in Our Schools, points out in The Nation, “Canadian policy analyst Michael Fullan has argued that the United States will not make progress in improving its schools because it relies on what he calls the “wrong drivers”—‘using test results and teacher appraisals to reward or punish teachers and schools,’ and ‘promoting individual versus group solutions’—instead of focusing on developing the capacity of schools and educators to meet the educational and social needs of students and improving the culture of under performing schools.”  Do you see the difference in the narrative?

Look at the distinct difference in the actions and words of our true Progressives versus our self-proclaimed Progressives.   The self-proclaimed Progressives talk about “failing” schools, punishing children and teachers with testing, Common Core, school closures, the financing of the privatization agenda, and increased charters.   What are our real Progressives saying?   Stop inequality, address the achievement and wealth gap, and address the needs of our children who are in under performing schools, support teachers, and fund  public education equitably.   We would like to end this piece with a request.  We would like any group that seeks to ignore how poverty and inequality influence children and their education to stop calling themselves Progressive.  You are not Progressive; you are regressive; we know it and the nation knows it.

The USDOE Plans to Cure Children with Disabilities

By: Marla: Kilfoyle and Melissa Tomlinson
Edited by: Priscilla Sanstead

Over the past several months, the USDOE has sent down proposed changes to how children with disabilities are taught. The changes that are being suggested are NOT rooted in peer- reviewed research but are just broad general statements that Secretary Duncan likes to use to drive special education policy. The USDOE claims that 6.5 million students with disabilities are not receiving a quality education.  The USDOE would require proof that these kids aren’t just being served, but are making academic progress. “We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to a robust curriculum, they excel,” Duncan said. Show us the research, Arne! Where in peer-reviewed research does it say that students with disabilities are NOT receiving a quality education? Where in peer- reviewed research does it say that you educate a child with disabilities 1, 2, or 3 grade levels above his or her capability?

As Duncan hails the increasing graduation rates of our students with disabilities, it makes NO sense for him now to increase the requirements for graduation to something unattainable for our children with disabilities. Wouldn’t that make our graduation rates go down? You can’t have it both ways, Secretary Duncan. To further complicate matters the USDOE and Duncan hope to punish states that don’t comply with the new guidelines, causing them to lose federal funding. Sadly, by punishing states for noncompliance it only hurts children, and specifically in this case, children with disabilities. Doesn’t it seem like Duncan and the USDOE don’t like kids with disabilities? Let’s hail the increasing graduation rates of our children with disabilities but now let’s put the expectations so high that many now won’t graduate? It is like building a wheelchair ramp that is too steep!  Duncan and the USDOE continue to forge ahead, ignoring the cries of parents and educators.  They continue their education policy which wants to punish the states that can’t cure student disabilities with test driven accountability and push a set of standards that are out of reach for our children with disabilities.

The next change to special education instruction that the USDOE is pushing was announced a few weeks ago. This change shows the disdain that the USDOE must have for children with disabilities. Duncan and the USDOE would add an amendment to the regulations governing Title 1, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.  This amendment would phase out the state’s ability to define and modify academic achievement standards and develop alternative assessments for children with disabilities. In other words, states have been able to modify curriculum and tests for children with disabilities in order to level the playing field for them. The USDOE would like to phase this out! These amendments that allow the state to modify curriculum and tests were inserted into Title 1 regulations in 2007.  They permit the states to modify curriculum for students with disabilities, specifically those whose disability made it difficult for them to achieve grade-level proficiency.  Why would Duncan and the USDOE want to remove this? This important measure that states and teachers use today to make our children with disabilities successful in school is working (see graduation ratesfor Students with Disabilities – they are on the rise). Currently, states and teachers are allowed to move a child with disabilities at their pace, with curriculum broken down and tests modified so that children can understand it. The USDOE wants to take that away from the states, the children, and the teachers!

The proposed regulations that the USDOE wants to create makes the assumption that these alternate assessments will no longer be needed. This assumption is both wrong and damaging to our students with disabilities. As more money is being spent to accommodate Federal driven unfunded mandates to implement Common Core Standards and related assessments, our special education population has been receiving fewer of the needed supports to assist with their learning. Students are being subjected to IEP placement changes that do not provide an appropriate learning environment for their disabilities, which is, in many cases, a direct violation of their right to a free and appropriate education.  The key word here is “appropriate.”

Arne Duncan is operating under the assumption that the Common Core Standards and the tests that will accompany them are, in and of themselves, a cure to learning and related disabilities. Regardless of how material is delivered and  assessed, students with disabilities need time to learn and master a topic, and some students will take more time than others. Why is it that the USDOE hates children with disabilities so much that it would pursue a regulation taking all of that away? Educators believe that modified curriculum and assessments are a good thing! We want our children with disabilities to succeed. Does Arne? Does the USDOE?


BATs Refute Common Core Rhetoric

BATS REFUTE COMMON CORE RHETORIC

INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT

By: Melissa Tomlinson (LoveLight)
 
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BATs continue their fight against the CCSS. We do not believe in a “one size fits all” standard for education, and we do not believe in a top-down federal approach to control education for profit.  BATs fight the CCSS for a variety of reasons, but, specifically, we know that the CCSS do not make up good education and will not fix or lower our child poverty rate.  This document hopes to clear up a few things: 1) Dispel some of the myths about the CCSS as a superior set of educational standards, 2) give readers a clear vision of what these standards look like from the lens of the practitioners who teach our most vulnerable children – those in poverty, and 3) finally, hope to set a course for BATs to advocate strongly for our children who live in poverty and who must be forced to overcome it without the supports and resources they need in our schools.  BATs are committed to raising their voices to advocate for an educational system that helps to provide some relief to children who suffer from the trauma of poverty.  We use the words “some relief” in this missive because schools and teachers cannot eradicate poverty, and we feel the government must begin to acknowledge that children in poverty do not succeed in school because of poverty.  Poverty will follow children no matter where they are sent to school via charter or voucher.  Poverty will follow children no matter who teaches them – TFA or highly-qualified teacher.  BATs are firmly committed to exposing that Common Core, charters, vouchers and TFA will not eradicate poverty, and corporate reformers’ attempts to divert the conversation from child poverty is nothing short of abuse. The contents of this document will act as a written history in which the voice of BATs dispel the myths of the CCSS and testify to their experiences in high poverty districts in relation to CCSS. All children deserve qualified teachers, safe schools, and recess!

 

1. THE GOAL IS COLLEGE AND CAREER READY FOR ALL STUDENTS

A. The CCSS have never been subjected to any research studies linking them to readiness of any kind.

B. Standard #1 reads “entry-level college” which could mean a 2 year community college or vocational school.

C. All children are not or will not be “College and Career Ready” for many different reasons.

D. The expense of implementing and assessing of the CCSScauses electives such as art, music, and sports to be cut from schools which prevents students from discovering future interests and talents.

E. Review the types of Common Core work children are doing–how does it reflect what they need to know for the workplace? The CCSS does not even live up to its stated goals to teach real world skills needed for the workplace.

F. Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institute predicted that the CCSS would have little to no effect on academic achievement. He noted that from 2003-2009 states with good standards raised their NAEP scores by roughly the same margin as the states with bad standards .

G. The way that the CCSS is designed is that if a child is chronically transient, they will be behind regardless–even more so with a curriculum two grade levels above a developmentally appropriate one!

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2. STATES LED THE EFFORT TO DEVELOP COMMON CORE, NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

  1. The groups that created the CCSS–Achieve and The National Governors Association–received funding from The Gates Foundation, and created the CCSS with almost no input from teachers. The only educational experts were board members from publishing companies who will benefit financially from the implementation of CCSS. Teachers learned about the CCSS after they were written.
  2. A check of one’s State Board of Education meeting minutes will show that states were forced to adopt the standards in order to apply for Federal Race to The Top Funds.

C. States signed onto the CCSS before the standards were completed and unveiled.

E. Many states and districts are already withdrawing from CCSS for financial and other reasons.

F. Race to the Top had a $5 billion dollar price tag. Arne Duncan set the conditions for the “race.” To be eligible, states had to agree to adopt the CCSS and tests.

G. Billionaire entrepreneurs entered the education market due to the $5 billion which was up for grabs. Consultants and vendors offered services to districts, and publishing companies hurried to align their products with CCSS. For example, Denver spent 35% of its budget on consultants instead of students, teachers, or schools.

H. The Gates Foundation supported the creation, evaluations, and promotion of the CCSS.

I. States had to agree to Arne Duncan’s conditions to receive a waiver from NCLB, and one of those conditions was to accept CCSS .

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3. THE CCSS ARE NOT CURRICULUM AND DO NOT TELL TEACHERS HOW TO TEACH

A. This is true, but the standards were written without the creation of materials, so some states like New York have created “modules” that are curriculum and script teachers.

B. The mandated (expensive and error-riddled) tests that accompany the CCSS will be the de facto curriculum. What is tested is what will be taught.

C. Due to its heavy reliance on testing, schools will feel the need to implement curriculum aligned with the CCSS. Many school districts have neither the time nor the funding to develop these aligned curriculums. The companies that have had the largest input into the CCSS, do have curriculum designed to be aligned to the tests. While the CCSS doesn’t directly tell schools what they need to teach, it does make it difficult for students to do well on the test unless they’ve had a curriculum aligned with the test.

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4. BETTER STANDARDS CALL FOR BETTER ASSESSMENTS

A. Students are tested without regard to accommodations as legally mandated by IEP’s.

B. No modifications or adjustments are made for students with disabilities or English Language Learners.

C. Teachers are not allowed to see the assessments in order to diagnose children and to further their instruction of them and the class.

D. Assessments will be moved to computer assessments. Children will be required to do this without keyboarding skills and little contact time with the teacher. Prolonged computer use can lead to vision problems and carpel tunnel syndrome.

E. The claim that CCSS assessments are better than other standardized tests is fallacious. For example, they were tested in 2013 in NYS and 70% of children failed them.

F. CCSS Assessments like PARCC/SBAC do not take into account the special issues of rural schools, many of which do not have enough computers or server space for the information. MANY SCHOOLS WILL BE FORCED INTO MAKING DIFFICULT BUDGET CUTS IN ORDER TO AFFORD TO THESE TESTS!

G. National standards and tests have been purposely designed to create a national marketplace for more curriculum and testing products, not to better public education. This reveals a disingenuous agenda.

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5. THE CCSS FOCUSES ON 21ST CENTURY SKILLS

A. The implementation of Common Core has already begun to eliminate vocational and technical education in many districts and states. These massive cuts restrict our students’ options to explore 21st century careers.

B. The cost to implement and assess the CCSS have caused huge cuts in music, art, and hands-on science. Research overwhelmingly validates the positive effects of music and the arts for improving learning, social skills, and, ironically, test scores. Cutting hands-on science makes no sense given the importance being placed on STEM.

C. Problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity are skills needed for the challenges of the 21st century, but they won’t be taught because they aren’t part of the CCSS assessments.

D. As the world changes rapidly, our students must be taught to be flexible in how they think. The CCSS emphasizes rote memorization and teaching to the bubble/computer tests instead of preparing them for the future.

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6. THE CCSS CREATE CONSISTENT LEARNING GOALS FOR ALL STUDENTS REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY LIVE OR GO TO SCHOOL

A. A check with the Department of Education in one’s state will show the percentage of children affected by transiency.Does this percentage warrant a standardized curriculum for all children?

B. Public school students are a highly diverse group which includes many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and learning difficulties. This tremendous range of needs and accommodations must be considered. No single education plan (especially one designed by mostly non-educators) is capable of meeting the needs of all children across the U.S.

C. The way that the CCSS is designed is that if a child is chronically transient, they will be behind regardless–even more so with a curriculum two grade levels above a developmentally appropriate one!

7. CCSS ARE ALIGNED TO COLLEGE AND WORKPLACE EXPECTATIONS

Research the authors of the CCSS to determine if they are authentic leaders in higher education. Google their curriculum vitae to determine the breadth and depth of their contributions to research and literature on domain-specific knowledge as it relates to future success. What are their contributions towards ensuring a free public education for all children?

8. CCSS ARE BENCHMARKED AGAINST ACADEMIC STANDARDS FROM THE WORLD’S TOP-PERFORMING COUNTRIES

A. The CCSS were not benchmarked against other countries’ standards. CCSS were created in a “top down” approach with no regard for the primary grades. Many countries do not set standards for their youngest learners.

B. If states are satisfied with their existing standards, why would communities want anything different? For example, Maryland’s schools are excellent, so why would they be forced to change their standards?

C. The world’s top performing countries don’t place much, if any, emphasis on testing. Finland has one of the best education systems in the world, and it relies on teacher autonomy and less testing in order to achieve this. These tests are nothing more than the precursor for national standardized testing. They are culturally biased, incapable of measuring non-verbal learning or complex thought, and will ultimately cost more than they’re worth .

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9. The CCSS CALL FOR CHANGES IN LEARNING FOR ELA AND MATH

A. Students are not being asked to explain their thinking; they are having strategies forced upon them, and they are being tested on test strategy not thinking skills.

B. The CCSS math places students an average of two years behind math programs that exist currently. In a technological society, having less access to higher forms of math is detrimental to student advancement post high school, and places them behind for college expectations.

C. The CCSS in math are so lacking, that the only mathematician on the CCSS validation committee refused to sign off on them.

D. School districts’ budgets will be stretched so tight, there will have to be program cuts in order to buy the materials and equipment needed to teach and assess the CCSS. The economic burden on districts will be to the detriment of programs that kids need and love.

E. The companies that had the greatest input in designing CCSS will be the ones selling the textbooks and presenting (for hefty fees paid by taxpayers) at teacher training seminars.

F. Standards call for changes in testing, which means changes in learning opportunities. Most important to the CCSS are testing outcomes; therefore, learning will be restricted to what is tested.

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10. CCSS DELVE DEEPER INTO CORE CONCEPTS

A. The CCSS places more emphasis on reading informational texts (government pamphlets, heater instructions, technical manuals) than on classical literature.

B. The CCSS presents historical text out of context (or with no context); therefore, students will not gain a broad understanding of the text.

C. The CCSS gives historical text isolated from the event in history from which it came. It is a shallow reading, a reading that doesn’t encourage students to question what the author may have meant, a reading that doesn’t teach them how to recognize symbolism, motivation or multiple meanings, and takes the flavor out of the text

D. The CCSS insistence on reading in isolation does not encourage students to develop life-long love of reading, which is critical for developing higher-level thinking and analytical skills.

BAT Teachers Teaching Kids in Poverty Using Common Core

All of the teachers who responded teach in high-poverty districts.

Here are their experiences with Common Core.

1. Since Common Core has been implemented in our school, I cannot run our music program.

2. Since Common Core, no seat time can be lost for students to participate in choral groups; getting string and band lessons started was delayed.

3.    I cannot jump into the Common Core lessons via EngageNY because my students are so far behind.

4.    My students already feel inadequate, and now they are more frustrated.  They often ask, “Why do we have to keep taking all these tests?”

5.    All the data that has come with Common Core, testing, and new reform and the entering of that data by teachers has taken me away from the kids.

6.    Instead of thinking how to make lessons fun and interesting for kids, I have to think of how they apply to Common Core.  Shouldn’t education be about the kids?

7.    EngageNY math modules are impossible to finish with students who come to us behind in their academic ability to do math.  We don’t have the materials required to teach, and we  have no time to remediate if the kids need time.

8.    We are expected to get our students on or above grade level, but they come to us below grade level.

9.    I have students who are attending school for the first time in their lives and cannot read or write the language.

10.  My average class size is 30-35 students, and I have a complete lack of resources to teach Common Core to kids who are working behind their grade level.

11.   I have students who are 15 years old and in their first year of high school.  They cannot read or write English but are expected to deal with “complex text” in Common Core.

12.   I am teaching, demonstrating, and acting out vocabulary for our core reading stories.  For most of my students, the higher thinking activities are not where they are academically.

13.   Common Core expects projects, but students are unable to work at home.

14.   Common Core packs my schedule with math computer lab, language computer lab, writing program, and word study; we have no time to work on projects.

15.   Common Core has caused me to miss out on creating learning opportunities due to testing, testing, testing to the Common Core.

16.   My students hate school because they are frustrated and bored; Common Core has “turned them off.”

17.   I cannot teach the 2B modules for 3rd grade ELA because I have none of the books.  2B was supposed to be out in November and is still not out.

18.   My kids find the math confusing, and the tests don’t test what they expect us to teach.  The kids take the tests after working so hard to learn the concepts, fail the tests, and get frustrated.

19.   I have been a teacher in a high-poverty district for 13 years; I have never seen anything like what my kids have had to endure this year under Common Core and NCLB waivers.

20.   We have spent the first 2 1/2 months of school testing; the kids are already burnt out.

21.   I have a class of 27 students.  Five parents are incarcerated, 3 students are homeless, 4 have no winter clothing, and 21 are on free/reduced lunch.  They have bigger issues to worry about other than being “college and career ready.”

22.   Since implementing Common Core, I have noticed an increase in anxious and aggressive behavior.  Students are chewing the erasers and metal off their pencils and eating it.   They are chewing on their pants, shirts and sleeves and making holes in them.  They are using pens and markers to write on themselves.

23.   Since implementing Common Core, I have noticed an increase in suicidal statements – Why?  Because we are giving them 8 different learning targets each day.  We’ve cut recess and crammed more kids into the cafeteria for lunch to maximize learning time.  We are making them self-regulate with a gazillion transitions and center activities while we test and re-test and differentiate.

24.   What does “text complexity level” mean and who gets to decide? There is a huge body of research that confirms teaching children at frustration reading levels is harmful.

25.   They cancelled art at my school because it cuts into test prep.

26.   The Common Core is too much for children who were never exposed to early childhood classes.

27.   They removed all the blocks, housekeeping, play-doh, puzzles, and art centers from my 1st grade classroom.

28.   The curriculum for my 1st grade class is similar to 2nd and 3rd grade.  My students feign illness and act irrational as a direct result of the testing and Common Core.

29.   Here is what I cannot do any more: plays, celebrations, holidays, show and tell, student-led learning, performance assessments, service learning, class meetings, gardens, and arts.

30.   Common Core is not the answer to urban education. I struggle teaching my 1st graders the basics they need.  My students come to me far behind.  I feel as if I am teaching far over their heads.

31.   The students I teach don’t get the abstract; they get the concrete.  Explaining multiplication and division to students who are still counting on their fingers is very difficult.  Getting them to see the connections between reading and writing is very difficult.

32.   I find the EngageNY math modules poorly crafted and inappropriate for the age I teach.  It is causing my students so much stress.

Concluding Statement

That being said, BATs and other warriors who fight the corporate takeover of our public schools need to think what will happen when we do defeat corporate “reform.”  What will schools that educate our most vulnerable children – those in poverty – look like?  Child poverty will not magically end with the defeat of Common Core, charters, vouchers or TFA, so BATs will commit their voices to making sure the government be held accountable for not addressing this main reason for children’s not succeeding in school.  BATs will commit their voices to the argument that schools in high-poverty communities must be reworked to meet the distinct needs of all their children.  BATs will commit their voices to make all schools respites from poverty for children and to hold those who continue to dismiss it as the leading factor of why children don’t succeed in school accountable.

References

  1. What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform

  2. BATs – Oral History

  3. Ravitch, Diane; Reign of Error

  4. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.PDF

  5. http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/top-ten-professors-calling-out-common-cores-so-called-college-readiness/

  6. http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/debunking-misconceptions-the-common-core-is-state-led/

  7. http://www.engageny.org/common-core-curriculum

  8. http://education.apple.com/acot2/

  9. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/11/09/why-young-kids-are-struggling-with-common-core-math/

 

The Truth About Teachers

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Myth: “Teachers are overpaid.”
FACT:
· According to the report, “What’s It Worth: The Economic Value of College Majors” from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce funded by the Gates and Lumina Foundations, Education majors earned the least for all college majors among 15 sector groupings.
· According to a 2008 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), American primary-school educators spend 1,913 hours working a year including hours teachers spend on work at home and outside of the classroom. Data from a Labor Department survey that same year showed that the average full-time employee in the United States worked 1,932 hours spread over 48 weeks. This statistic shows that teachers work about the same number of hours as the average worker in the United States. This statistic refutes the argument that teachers should be paid considerably less than other workers because “teachers only work 9 months of the year.”

Source: http://cew.georgetown.edu/whatsitworth/
More Info: Teachers Work the Same Number of Hours as Average U.S. Worker
More Info: US Teachers Work Longer Hours Than Anywhere In The World, While Earning Less

Myth:
“It isn’t fair that teachers receive pensions.”
FACT:
· Teachers do not receive Social Security. Teachers in Ohio, for example, have 10% of their pay deducted for their pensions and school districts contribute 14% of the teachers’ salaries in the form of deferred compensation–much like how a corporation will match employee contributions to a 401k. Teachers accepted deferred compensation in the form of pensions and health care benefits in lieu of salary increases in the past when teachers’ salaries never kept pace with the compensation of other college-educated professionals.

More info: “Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions”
Myth:
“We should at least cut back benefits for new teachers.”
FACT:
· According to McKinsey and Company report “Closing the Talent Gap,” to be on par with other high-performing nations high-needs schools in the U.S. would need to pay new teachers around $68,000 with a maximum career compensation of $150,000 per year. Research shows that teacher quality is extremely important to the success of our education system, so we need to attract and retain the most talented individuals to the teaching profession

Source: www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/…/Closing_the_talent_gap.aspx

Myth: “Charters schools perform better than traditional public schools.”
FACT:
· According to a 2009 Stanford University study, only 17% of charter schools perform better than public schools while 37% of charter schools perform worse

· According to 2006 Ohio state report cards, 1 in 2 charter schools were either in academic emergency or academic watch, while only 1 in 11 traditional public school buildings were in academic emergency or academic watch
· Three out of four public schools are rated excellent or effective, while only one in six charter schools are rated excellent or effective

Source: http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/MULTIPLE_CHOICE_CREDO.pdf

Myth: “Public schools need to operated like businesses.”
FACT:
• Education is a public good that cannot turn away “inputs” (i.e. students and parents) to the “production process”
• Our political system requires that every citizen is well educated to exercise their civic duties not just the wealthy who could buy a good education in a privatized system

More Info: A Business Leader Admits He Was Wrong About Education

Myth: “We should pay teachers based on merit because this will encourage teachers to work harder and perform better.”
FACT:
· Value-added formulas for teacher performance based on standardized test are not statistically valid and reliable. (Economic Policy Institute, New York Times, National Education Policy Center)
· Merit pay systems for teachers have been tried in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Nashville where studies have shown that they did not increase student achievement (Mathematica Policy Research, Economic Policy Institute, National Educational Policy Center, Vanderbilt)
· Value-added measures based on standardized narrow the curriculum and work against creativity, innovation and intrinsic motivation (Drive by Daniel Pink)
· Requiring administrators to evaluate every teacher for at least 30 minutes twice every year will increase administrative costs and mean that more money is spent on administrative costs instead of less.
· According to University of Washington economist Dan Goldhaber, about 60% of student achievement is attributable to non-school factors, such as family income and poverty—factors that the teacher cannot control
· Research has shown that collaboration among teachers improves the quality of instruction, but merit-pay systems based on standardized test scores for the students of individual teachers creates incentives opposed to collaboration and cooperation
· Merit pay based on standardized tests punishes teachers for working with students who have disabilities or are disadvantaged

More Info:  Evaluating New York Teachers, Perhaps the Numbers Do Lie

Myth: “If teachers aren’t satisfied with their jobs, they should do something else.”
FACT:
• According to a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, “A conservative national estimate of the cost of replacing public school teachers who have dropped out of the profession is $2.2 billion a year. If the cost of replacing public school teachers who transfer schools is added, the total reaches $4.9 billion every year. For individual states, cost estimates range from $8.5 million in North Dakota to a whopping half a billion dollars for a large state like Texas. Many analysts believe that the price tag is even higher; hiring costs vary by district and sometimes include signing bonuses, subject matter stipends, and other recruiting costs specific to hard-to-staff schools. Others believe that the cost of the loss in teacher quality and student achievement should also be added to the bill.”

Source:  www.all4ed.org/files/archive/publications/TeacherAttrition.pdf

Myth: “New legislation passed in states was just about balancing budgets.”
FACT:
• Teachers are being singled as a convenient scapegoat for economic problems caused by the collapse of the housing market and corruption that was evident in corporations associated with America’s mortgage industry.

More info: Teachers Under Attack (CNN Money)
More info: American Teachers Under Attack (Fortune)
More info: Are Public Unions Our Convenient Economic Scapegoats? (CNN Money)

12 Things You Should Never Say To Teachers

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1. “We’ve all been to elementary school, so aren’t we all kind of experts on it?”
Umm, no. You’ve been sick before — does that make you a doctor?

2. “When I retire, I still want to do something, so I think I might take up teaching.”
Teaching is not a hobby, like gardening or sailing. Teaching will likely make your old job feel like a vacation.

3. “Have you ever thought about making your class more fun?”
No, I do my best to make it as boring as I can.

4. “If you really cared about kids, you wouldn’t worry about the salary.”
I love my students. I love teaching. I also love being able to support my family and feed my kids.

5. “If you managed your time at school, I bet you wouldn’t need to plan lessons and grade on the weekends.”
OK, I’m a little busy at school. I teach and work with students almost every moment of the day. Spending 20 hours a week outside of school on prep and grading is normal for me.

6. “You’ll never be a truly great teacher until you have your own kids.”
Actually, yes I will. The relationship between teacher and student is quite different from that of parent and child.

7. “Why do you make them read so much and write so many essays? Why do you give such hard grades?”
Because it’s my job. Because my students are here to learn. Because they’ll need these skills to survive in the world. How many reasons do you need?

8. “I pay taxes in this district, so technically you work for me.”
Sorry, we’re not your minions. That’s not how it works. Taxes support public goods and services — such as the fire department, police, parks, and yes, public schools — for the community as a whole. And by the way, teachers pay taxes too.

9. “Ohh, you teach kindergarten. That must be fun — playing and singing all day.”
Yes, my life is just like Disney movie. I sing and the children and the little animals of the forest come running. Actually, in kindergarten, we teach our students the foundational literacy and math skills — as well as the social and emotional skills — that set them up for success in every grade to follow.

10. “Why are you so strict? They’re just kids.”
We make plenty of time for laughter and fun in my classroom. But rules and routine are not only necessary, they help children to feel safe, secure, and valued in the classroom community.

11. “How hard can it be? You have all summer off.”
A longer summer break is one of the benefits of choosing teaching as a career. But keep in mind, it’s not all summer. I spend weeks every July and August on professional development and curriculum planning. And during the school year, I work 12 hours a day all week long and at least one day every weekend. Add it up and our vacation days are about the same.

12. “Teaching is nice, but don’t you want to be more successful and make more money?”
I teach because I want to make a difference. I teach because what I do every day matters for kids.

That’s what success looks like

Common Core Facts

cctCommon Core Facts – Compiled by Sandra Stotsky

1. Who developed Common Core’s standards? Three private organizations in Washington DC: the National

Governors Association (NGA), the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and Achieve, Inc.—all

funded for this purpose by a fourth private organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

2. Who selected the members of the Standards Development Work Groups? In the absence of official

information, it seems that Achieve, Inc. and the Gates Foundation selected most of the key personnel to write the high school-level college-readiness standards.

 

3. Who was represented on the Standards Development Work Groups that wrote the college-readiness

standards? Chiefly test and curriculum developers from ACT, CB, Achieve, and NCEE.

 

4. Who was not represented on the Standards Development Work Groups? High school English and

mathematics teachers, English professors, scientists, engineers, parents, state legislators, early childhood

educators, and state or local school board members.

 

5. Are records of their meetings available? No. These groups had no open meetings and have never provided access to any public comment or critiques they received.

 

6. What were the qualifications of the people selected to write the grade-level standards? The “lead” writers for the grade-level ELA standards, David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, have never taught reading or English in K-12 or at the college level. Neither majored in English as undergraduates or has a doctorate in English. Neither has published serious work on K-12 curriculum and instruction. At the time, they were unknown to English and reading educators and to higher education faculty in rhetoric, speech, composition, or literary study. Two of the lead grade-level standards-writers in mathematics did have relevant academic credentials but no K-12 teaching experience. Jason Zimba was a physics professor at Bennington College at the time, while William McCallum was (and remains) a mathematics professor at the University of Arizona. The only member of this three-person team with K-12 teaching experience, Phil Daro, had majored in English as an undergraduate; he was also on the staff of NCEE. None had ever developed K-12 mathematics standards before.

 

7. Who recommended these people as standards-writers, why, and how much were they paid?

The organizations that funded and developed the standards will not tell the public.

 

8. What was the ostensible purpose of the Validation Committee?NGA and CCSSO created their own

Validation Committee in 2009 (25 members initially) to evaluate the soundness, rigor, and validity of the

standards they were developing. They have never provided a rationale for those they chose to serve on the Validation Committee.

 

9. Who were members of the Validation Committee? On it were one high school English teacher, one

mathematician, no high school mathematics teachers, some testing experts and school administrators, and many mathematics educators (people with doctorates in mathematics education, or in an education school, or who work chiefly in teacher education, and who usually do NOT teach college mathematics courses). The one mathematician and the one ELA standards expert (Sandra Stotsky) on the Committee declined to sign off on the standards.

 

10. What was the real purpose of the Validation Committee? To have members sign a letter by the end of May 2010 asserting that the not-yet-finalized standards were (1) reflective of the core knowledge and skills in ELA and mathematics that students need in order to be college- and career-ready; (2) appropriate in terms of their level of specificity and clarity; (3) comparable to the expectations of other leading nations; and (4) informed by available research or evidence.

 

11. What are the chief deficiencies of Common Core’s standards?

A. The standards are not internationally benchmarked.

B. The standards are not research-based.

C. The standards are not rigorous. They omit high school mathematics standards leading to STEM careers, stress writing over reading, reduce literary study in grades 6-12, use an unproven approach to teaching Euclidean geometry, defer completion of Algebra I to grade 9 or 10, are developmentally inappropriate in the primary grades, and use the high school English class for informational reading instruction.

 

12. What reports comparing Common Core’s standards with Massachusetts’ standards were used to justify Massachusetts’ adoption of Common Core’s standards?

A. A report by Achieve, Inc. that was funded by the Gates Foundation.

B. A report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute that was funded by the Gates Foundation.

C. A report by WestEd that was commissioned by the Massachusetts Business Alliance in Education and

funded by the Gates Foundation via the James B. Hunt Institute in North Carolina.

D. Reports by Massachusetts Department of Education-appointed local/state reviewers.

 

13. What conclusions did these reports draw? That there were no significant differences between Common Core’s standards and the Massachusetts mathematics and ELA standards.

 

14. Why did Massachusetts adopt Common Core’s standards in July 2010? The state had been promised

$250,000,000 in Race to the Top funds if it adopted Common Core’s standards.

 

15. What are the major flaws in Common Core’s English language arts standards?

A. Most of Common Core’s reading standards are content-free skills.

B. Common Core’s ELA standards stress writing more than reading at every grade level.

C. Common Core’s writing standards are developmentally inappropriate at many grade levels and lack

coordination with its reading standards.

D. Common Core expects English teachers to spend at least half of their reading instructional time at every

grade level on informational texts.

E. Common Core reduces opportunities for students to develop critical thinking.

F. Common Core’s standards are not “fewer, clearer, and deeper;” they often bundle several objectives into one statement and call it one standard.

 

References

 

Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky. (September 2012). How Common Core’s ELA standards place college readiness at risk. http://pioneerinstitute.org/download/how-common-cores-ela-standards-place-college-readiness-at-risk/

 

R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky (September 2013). Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM.http://pioneerinstitute.org/news/lowering-the-bar-how-common-core-math-fails-to-prepare-students-for-stem/

 

Sandra Stotsky is Professor Emerita of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, where she held the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality. She is credited with developing one of the country’s strongest sets of academic standards for K-12 students as well as the strongest academic standards and licensure tests for prospective teachers while serving as Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999-2003. She has also written several in-depth analyses of the problems in Common Core’s English language arts standards. She is the author The Death and Resurrection of a Coherent Literature Curriculum: What Secondary English Teachers Can Do (Rowman & Littlefield, June 2012).

Charter Schools: Good, Bad and Ugly

gbu-t
An article by: Melissa Tomlinson 

The Good

I have lived with a charter school in my home town for at least ten years now. In fact, I even applied to teach there as soon as I got my certificate of eligibility for Teacher of Students with Disabilities. The school caters to students that are interested in pursuing a life in the performing arts. (Needless to say, I did not get hired. I can’t act, dance, or sing!) This school has been a part of our community for a while and has developed a wonderful relationship with the area high school. It has been successful in sending students all over the country for college, including Julliard.

This school is a perfect example of the original purpose of charter schools. It is meeting a need within a community. In all these years, I have not heard of any complaints about the school, the administration, or the teachers. To have more schools like this, that would meet a specific need of some of the community’s students, would be ideal in our diverse country. That was why many laws were passed to help support the infusion of charter schools into our communities, our home towns.

The Bad

Unfortunately, that is not what happened. In No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was enacted at the hands of the Bush administration and schools jumped to the task to prove that they were doing everything possible to make sure none of their students were left behind. Accountability became the key word as standardized testing became the tool used to measure the academic worth of all students and subsequently all schools. It became evident that some children were not performing as well as their peers as these norm referenced tests with a built-in failure percentage golden rule of measurement instead of one piece of data used to paint the bigger picture. Parents were shown data that distinctly told them that their public school was failing to properly educate their children and cries ensued, calling for alternatives.

These cries were answered in the form of school choice. Our public markets is designed to promote choice and healthy competition. Where there is a need, people jump at the chance to fill that need and, of course, make a profit for themselves in the meantime. Parents were sold this wonderful thing called school choice to give their child more possibilities, more options. Who doesn’t want more for their child?

Options became available like magnet schools that originally started in the 1970’s as a tool for desegregation and gained popularity again between 1997 and 2005.  Magnet schools have since declined in their fulfillment of their original purpose.  A study done in Nashville proved that the academic selective magnet schools became increasingly racially isolated white schools, while the non-academic selective magnet schools became increasingly racially isolated black schools. https://lcrm.lib.unc.edu/voice/works/w/rethinking-magnet-school-policies-and-practices/s/1

Soon new charter schools were flying in to areas, swooping in to save the day. Charter schools use marketing techniques to falsely create demand within communities and implant the idea that a charter school may be a better option for the children. They offer parents a solution to the misrepresented fact that their child was not performing as well in school as others. These charters offer open enrollment, lottery systems and wait lists that gave the promise of hope to all. What they actually deliver is limited openings, draining of funds from the public school budgets and false claims that students perform better at charter schools. Charter schools actually leave many students behind by not catering to all demographic groups, and through selective attrition of lower performing students.http://www.care2.com/causes/charter-lotteries-leave-lots-behind.html. It has been recently stated that the data shows school choice and charter schools actually increase the threat of resegregation in our schools. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/13/the-link-between-charter-school-expansion-and-increasing-segregation/. Eva Moskowitz’s charter schools, Success Academy, now serves a proportionally higher amount of privileged students than of other demographics.

Charter schools are no longer the community provision to filling the gaps in specialization of different types of curricular opportunities, such as performing arts. Instead, charter schools have been taking over by for-profit enterprises or non-profit corporations with a board of directors. Decisions made by these entities are often in the best interest of the corporation or non-profits. These boards have power to run the school as they best see fit, including managing personnel that often leads to a higher turnover rate of administration and teachers. Some public charter schools work their way around the laws that govern schools by subcontracting management services to for-profit companies. They sit on the fence and use their private and public titles to circumvent laws whenever necessary.

The upheaval of our public school systems is coming at a great cost to our children as they are exposed to re-segregation of our schools, higher staff attrition rates, and provided less opportunities due to the drain of funding caused by charter schools. Tuition is given to charter schools on a per-student basis, but the charter schools are free to send students back to the public school district without a return of any portion of the funds. Charter schools often tap into the state and federal grants that are available. All of this leaves the public schools having a loss of resources available while operating with decreasing budgets.

The Ugly

By not having to exactly follow all of the same laws and regulations that public schools follow, a door is left wide open for mistreatment of students at the hands of the charter school systems. At the hands of these charter schools, children have suffered such abuses as being thrown in padded cells, forced to wear signs that say “CRETIN”, made to earn their desks while sitting on bare floors, and fallen victims of public shaming as they are told to wear clothing backwards and excluded from lunch tables. Documentation of students being slammed into walls, garbage cans placed on heads, and made to bark like a dog at the hands of KIPP administrators have all surfaced.

Other charter schools, such as Rocketship, practice a passive form of abuse by having students sit in a cubicle in from of a computer monitor for hours, all in the name of education. Master Charter Schools, known for it’s “no excuses” policies trains staff in the art of discipling children instead of in the science of educating them.

As the decision makers and corporate buddies decided that they wanted to find a way to promote charter schools, Charter School Week was born. Ironically, the dates set occur the exact same time as teacher appreciation week. In the meantime, public schools are left holding the bag, screaming, “Where is our week? When do we honor public schools?”

Recommended Reading: Books by Authors With Learning Disabilities

bookwormPeople with learning disabilities (LD) are at the top of every field—and literature is no exception. Many of our favorite authors have overcome the adversity of LD to write books that entertain and inspire us. If you want to find out more about writers with LD or if you just want to find a quality summer read for yourself or your child, check out these books.

Books for Children  Although these authors struggled in school as children, they found ways to work around their struggles and now write books for kids.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
George and Harold are a pair of troublemaking best friends. The boys create a superhero named “The Amazing Captain Underpants.” Blackmailed into working for their grouchy principal, the duo retaliates by hypnotizing him into believing that he is the superhero Captain Underpants…and the adventures don’t stop! Written in a comic book style, this book will engage even reluctant young readers.

Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
As a threatening storm brews, a grandmother helps a little girl overcome her fear of thunder by baking a special cake. The story will help young children alleviate their own anxieties about bad weather and the delightful illustrations make the book a treat for kids and adults alike.

Books for Tweens and Young Teens These age-appropriate books tell the stories of two young teens’ journeys as they mature in the face of adversity—something their authors know well as people with LD.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Charlotte Doyle, an upper-class teenager, joins the all-male crew aboard a transatlantic ship in the summer of 1832. She meets Zachariah; an African sailor aboard who warns her of the evil doings of the Captain. However, she refuses to believe his accusations, and befriends the captain. Later, upon witnessing the cruelties the captain inflicts upon his crew, Charlotte joins the crew in exposing the captain for the man he really is. This young adult novel will enthrall any middle school reader who loves adventure (and especially young history buffs).

My Name is Brain Brian by Jeanne Betancourt
Brian is your average middle-school kid…except for the fact that he has LD (and doesn’t know it yet). His classmates mock him for his struggles in reading and writing. But when his teacher detects his LD, she helps Brian get the help he needs to learn to work with his dyslexia. Many middle school readers with LD will recognize their own struggles in Brian’s tale.

Books for Older Teenagers and Adults These award-winning books for adults and high school readers show that authors with LD can produce stunning prose.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
In the summer of 1953, young Owen Meany hits a foul ball in a Little League game that strikes and kills his best friend’s mother. Owen believes that there is a larger reason for this tragedy—and he might just be right. This philosophical coming-of-age tale is beautifully crafted by John Irving, whose dyslexia didn’t stop him from writing one of modern literature’s classics.

Kindred by Octavia Butler
Dana, a 26-year-old modern African-American woman, suffers a sudden dizzy spell and is transported to the antebellum South. Her journey back and forth through time, from her modern home in California to slave quarters on a plantation, exposes truths about race and identity. Science fiction fans will find much to love in this novel by one of the genre’s pioneers.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
Evelyn is an unhappy housewife when she meets Ninny, an elderly nursing home resident. As their friendship develops, Ninny tells stories of the residents of now-abandoned Whistle Stop, Alabama, inspiring both women to find happiness in their lives. This tale of friendship will inspire readers who like realistic and historical fiction.

Are you looking for books about the LD journey? Check out our recommended reading lists for children with LD,teens with LD and parents.

Source: National Center For Learning Disabilities 

TENURE PLAIN AND SIMPLE

IsTenureJustified

TENURE – PLAIN AND SIMPLE

By: Melissa Tomlinson & Marla Kilfoyle

Imagine you are charged with the job of making the decisions that concern the life of a child, including the protection of that child. If you are a parent, this is no stretch of the imagination.

Now imagine that you are prevented from doing this. You are afraid to speak up and have opinions for fear of personal recriminations that could affect yourself or other family members. Consequences could include temporary loss of income, loss of a job, even loss of a career. You become silenced, effectively opening the door to the possibility of harmful decisions to be made regarding children that are in your charge.

As a parent, you have power. You have legal guardianship rights over the lives of your children until they turn 18. For a large portion of that time a child attends school. While that child is in school it is in the best interest of all children that adults involved can advocate for the child. When you deny tenure rights of teachers you are silencing that advocate.

We are 2 teachers and we are 2 mothers. Melissa has 2 boys and Marla has 1 boy. As teachers we understand the importance of teacher tenure, which for the remainder of this article we will call due process. First of all, a teacher’s right to due process does NOT guarantee them a job for life. For example, in New York State any tenured teacher can be dismissed under 3020a law.

Here are some scenarios in which teachers would need due process to protect children.

Scenario #1

Mrs. Smith goes to a meeting for Johnny, a special education student that she has taught all year. She knows that Johnny needs to have speech therapy and plans to recommend that he receive it as soon as possible. Before the meeting Mrs. Smith is told via email that she is NOT to recommend speech therapy for any more children because the district does NOT want to pay for the services.

Mrs. Smith with NO due process rights – goes to the meeting and doesn’t say a word in advocacy for Johnny because she is a afraid to lose her job and/or goes to the meeting and advocates for him and is fired by the district directly after the meeting is over.

Mrs. Smith with due process rights – goes to the meeting and can ignore the district directive and recommend speech therapy because that is what Johnny needs. The district cannot fire her for ignoring this harmful directive without a due process hearing.

Scenario #2

Mr. Jones suspects that one of his students is being beat up at home. The student in question, Mark, comes to school with a black eye. Mr. Jones tells his department chair that he is calling Child Protective Services on the parents. Mr. Jones gets an email from the district telling him to NOT call CPS because they don’t want the bad publicity.

Mr. Jones with NO due process rights – does NOT call CPS because he is the sole breadwinner in his house and cannot lose his job and/ or he calls CPS and is fired at the end of the week.

Mr. Jones with due process rights – calls CPS, ignoring the district directive not to, and cannot be fired without a due process hearing.

Scenario #3

Mrs. Davis is an award winning English teacher. She has enjoyed teaching an amazing unit on To Kill A Mockingbird for her entire 15 year career. In this unit she can teach children about social justice and equality. In Mrs. Davis class is the new president of the Board of Education’s daughter. When Mrs. Davis starts her To Kill a Mockingbird unit the BOE President calls her up and expresses concern that the book has rape in it. Mrs. Davis explains to the BOE President that her focus on the book isn’t rape but social injustice. The next day Mrs. Davis is called into her directors office and told she cannot teach the book.

Mrs. Davis with NO due process rights does NOT teach the book in fear of losing her job. She is the sole provider for her mother and herself and/or Mrs. Davis teaches the book against the advice of her director and is fired at the end of the year

Mrs. Davis with due process rights explains respectfully to her director that she will teach the book as she has done so successfully for 15 years. She further states that she will be attending the BOE meeting to make a statement that the BOE President is attempting to censor reading lists in the district for children. She cannot be fired without a due process hearing.

Scenario #4

Mr. Bryant has been a math teacher at XYZ High School for 25 years. He is loved by his students and parents in the community. He has been active in school and advises the award winning Math Club. During Mr. Bryant’s 25th year as a teacher the district hired a new Superintendent of Schools. This Superintendent sought to trim the budget and decided to cut several clubs, including Mr. Bryant’s award winning Math Club. Mr. Bryant made an appointment with the new Superintendent to plead their case. The meeting did not go well so Mr. Bryant rallied the community to raise money to keep the club. This angered the new Superintendent who

Mr. Bryant with NO due process is fired immediately and the new Superintendents nephew, a new math teacher, is hired to take his place.

Mr. Bryant with due process is called up to the Superintendent’s office and given a hearing prior to an attempt to fire him.

The above scenarios are only a few that we can provide to you. We could write a book but we hope that you get the overall simple reason why teachers need due process rights. Many people argue that no other job gets due process rights, and in many cases they are correct, but NO other occupation deals with the complexity of teaching children and making sure that the environment that they learn in is free of cronyism, favoritism, safe, and free from personal bias. A teacher’s right to due process provides a stable, safe, and productive environment for children to learn and thrive. It gives teachers the ability to advocate freely for children in their care without fear of losing their jobs.


marla-melissa-300About Marla Kilfoyle and Melissa Tomlinson

Marla Kilfoyle is General Manager Badass Teachers Association and Melissa Tomlinson is the Assistant General Manager of the Badass Teachers Association.

Marla Kilfoyle began her adventure into the Badass Teacher Association by way of being a parent advocate on Long Island in such groups as Parents and Teachers Against Common Core and LI Opt-Out. Marla has been a teacher in the Social Studies Department at Oceanside High School (NY) for 27 years. In addition, Marla coached the Oceanside Girl’s Track and Field team for 15 years and runs her district’s social science program.

Marla is the mother of a 10-year-old son and wife of Allen, a retired NYPD Detective. She continues her work as a parent advocate in LI Opt-Out as a member of their leadership team.

Melissa Tomlinson: A teacher of students with special needs at the middle school level, realized that she was not alone in questioning the role of standardized testing in schools when she found the Badass Teachers Association. She was first pushed into the spotlight of fighting the methods of corporate educational reform when she faced Governor Chris Christie to ask about his public degradation of NJ Schools when they were rated one of the top three in the nation. Along with teaching and advocacy, Melissa runs the after school program in her school building, providing a place for students to receive extra educational assistance, exposure to career possibilities, and a safe place to be after school hours.

Melissa is the mother of two teenage sons and she fights for equitable education for all students, now and in the future.