The Power of Free, Self-Selected Reading

Randi Weingarten & Disrespect of Teachers

The CEO of AFT has a lot of nerve. She pretends to oppose a testing fixation yet constantly lauds schools who test prep their way to higher standardized test scores. This shows utter contempt for teachers and a lack of understanding of the purpose of education.
CEO Weingarten also pretends to care about helping needy kids while she supports diverting billions to common core.
Weingarten is a politician. A few months ago she was posting pictures from a graduation at some corporate charter school she is involved with in some manner. I think she noted 100% graduation rate until I and another teacher pointed out that the school had kicked out counseled out massive numbers of students who would not graduate.
Poor Randi responded with something like, “Can’t you be happy for the kids graduating?”
She dodged the issue and failed to realize the harm she did by shilling for schools that kick out those who will not graduate.
Randi, the politician.

Lee County Board Member Set to Flip Vote

After voting 3-2 to opt out of the state’s massive and unethical testing regimen, the swing vote now claims she wants to switch her vote. There is a hurried meeting called for 8:30 am on Tuesday. This morning meeting after a holiday is designed to keep opposition away. Yes – parents work. I would urge the other opt out votes to skip the meeting and deny a quorum. Where did the pressure come from to flip the vote of Mary Fischer? Why did the superintendent Nancy Graham actively and publicly undermine the opt out decision of the board? Should the board remove her?
Nancy Graham has a vested interest in common core and its massive testing. She was a “common core academy” member for several years.
Testing will increase in FL this year. AIR testing will be longer than FCAT and test more grades. There is also another EOC being added. Last year, a middle school principal held a press conference to report that his school was involved in testing for 90 days. My high school was closed for testing (partly or fully) for 100 days. EOC testing alone took 47 days.
With several counties considering an opt out – a Lee County reversal will be devastating. Standardized testing is increasing and DOE and the legislature will not back down. Testing is a political hammer. All kids deserve to go to schools not testing 100 days a year. Test results mean little – if anything. GPA is the best predictor of college success and test scores have no influence on the economic success of a nation.
The goal of the legislature and DOE is to make public schools so onerous with testing that people leave. Politicians want to create the illusion of crisis using test scores as a cudgel. We must stay and fight to create schools that value learning, kids, and not testing. If Lee County reverses their vote they enable those who prey on schools and seek to scapegoat them for the ills of society.
The state cannot do anything if Florida counties unite. The Florida Constitution gives boards control over their districts- Article IX Section 4b.
Districts must act to end testing tyranny. Come what may…

PS: There are no state tests that kids have to take to graduate. The ACT or SAT can always be substituted. The AIR test does not count for graduation this year as there are no cut scores. Why take it? I can think of many tests that we should refuse to give.

Patty Levesque is at it again.

Chief testing shill- and non educator- Patty Levesque runs the Jeb Bush foundation. When parents and elected officials in Lee County decided to dump the money taking, time stealing and soul sucking Florida testing machine- Patty threw a fit. Her usual lie tactic is to accuse districts of giving tons of tests not required by the state.
What Patty ignores is that the average high school was closed down (in part or full) for about 100 days last year for EOC and FCAT testing. The new AIR test will take longer than FCAT and there is an additional EOC added this year. Also, more grade levels are being tested.
Each EOC takes about 6 instructional days- including makeup testing. There are also smaller EOC testing periods for those needing to retake the tests.
How many EOC tests are there? This year there are at least 6 EOC tests. Due to AIR testing – many juniors will be taking 5 EOC tests in a 6 week period. Not much learning or teaching when much of your class is gone for yet another test.
Wait! I forgot that the state also mandates the PERT test. Wait! I forgot the state also mandates ePat testing. There is a 30min ePat test for each new EOC a student takes.
In order to get a good school grade and avoid sanctions – schools are pressured to force students to take other tests like the PSAT and SAT.
The state has made testing a way of life if you want to get a good school grade. They incentivize testing.
Not including FCAT or anything else, my school spent a total of 47 days last year- just giving EOC tests. Yes, 47. Yes Patty, those are required.
Patty Levesque will never admit the failure of her test and punish policy. Results mean nothing in regards to learning, college readiness or the economy. Testing in FL is a way to bring back things like the poll tax. End results matter. Graduation rates for Black males in FL are near the bottom of the nation. Testing is a political hammer that smacks of Jim Crow and is used to justify the segregation of choice.
The goal of politicians like Patty Levesque is to make public schools so onerous with testing, that people flee. They create the illusion of crisis.
The next time Patty Levesque goes apoplectic about districts testing – remind her of how much state mandated testing there is and remind her how much is incentivized by school grades. Do not let her lie about state mandated tests and the time they take away from learning. Also remind her that standardized test results are of little -if any- value.
I call on all 67 districts in FL to opt out of harmful testing. Pam Stewart and Patty Levesque… come get us!

Support Lee County Opt Out

The bold decision, by Lee County, to opt out of the massive standardized testing scam in Florida is a necessary and moral act. Last year, many Florida schools were closed either fully or partly for testing no less than 100 days. With Common Core- testing will increase this year.
Someone had to fire the first shot in order to start to bring down the criminal testing empire in Florida. Lee County has given us a Lexington and Concord moment.
Other districts must now join in with Lee County and send a message of morality and ethics to the mountebanks in the legislature and Florida DOE.
Shockingly – some board members from around the state think opting out is a radical step and that we should talk to the legislature.
The legislature has ignored and insulted us for 20 years.
Parents have the power to opt out as well. This is no time for cowardice.
Massive standardized testing is a political hammer that must be smashed.
The message school boards should send to DOE is , “Come and get us.”

The Brockton Miracle? Not.

Originally posted on booksareenough:

I have been hearing a lot about the “Brockton” miracle. This is a supposed shining school on a hill for reformers. The NCTE recently published a paper about it with some bizarre connection to Common Core- even though the “core” did  not exist at the time of the supposed miracle.  I was expecting to read that the Catholic Church was sending someone to look into this “Miracle in Massachusetts.” Even some folks at Harvard looked at the school and could not laud it enough.

There is one little problem though. Not much, if any, of the miracle narrative is true.

How could Harvard and the NCTE miss this? Well friends, they missed it with eyes wide open. Let us now look at what really happened in Brockton. There was no miracle.

The story goes that once upon a time, long ago, Brockton High was a dismal place with only 25% of the…

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Every Florida Child Deserves…

Every Florida child deserves to go to a school that…

does not have to test 100 days a year.
does not have to close the library down to become a testing center.
does not have to divert money to buy more computers to handle more testing.
does not have to beg for money to have a band or art program.
does not judge them on meaningless and politicized standardized test scores.

does let teachers decide how and when to evaluate them.
does let teachers speak out without fear of being fired.
does let them have daily access to a library and nurse.
does allow teachers to help them find their passion -whether it involves college or not.
does allow them to learn and come to a caring place free from political agendas and whims.

We are in the middle of a dystopian nightmare.

Eternal Testing Boondoggle in Florida

The CEO at the FL Department of Education(sic), Pam Stewart, just sent a memo out to tell districts they are probably going to have to spend more of their limited funds on computers for… wait for it… testing. Florida is increasing testing this year under the common core mandates. They are testing more grade levels and adding more EOC exams. This means less time for teaching.
Last year high schools were shut down for testing either fully or partially for 100 days. One Florida middle school principal said it was 90 days for his school. He even held a press conference.
Now Florida has more testing!
But back to Pam Stewart. She informed districts that Pearson was changing testing hardware/platform requirements and that districts needed to take this into account when “making purchasing decisions.”
Billions are being diverted -ongoing- just to keep up with the demands of testing. This comes -as usual- at the expense of teaching and learning.
Pearson and computer companies are loving it. There is a constant demand for the “latest” computers with the main purpose of “more testing.” This is insanity.

World War One Historiography: Are we getting closer to the truth 100 years on?

Originally posted on booksareenough:

The prevailing view on World War One- pushed by the “court historians” has been deeply seared into the minds of generations of people around the world. Even in Germany, children have been led to believe it. But is there counterpoint to the accepted view? Is there valid counterpoint? The answer to both questions is yes. But what is the “accepted” view?

As the tale goes, Germany was to blame for the war and the Kaiser was killing babies by impaling them on his pickelhaube. There have always been some challenges to this view but they have never taken hold due to the fact that victors get the spoils AND the best press. There is a legacy to protect. What if the last 100 years of foreign policy was built on the legs of a scarecrow?

It is not the intent of this paper to do an exhaustive look at the…

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May 25th 1935

Originally posted on booksareenough:

If I could go back in time, it would be to a chilly day at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh to see Babe Ruth hit the last three home runs of his career. He would retire a few days later but not before putting on a display for the ages. Ruth was 41. There were about 10,000 in the stands and the game lasted a little over two hours.

 To me this is the most holy day in the history of the game, as time stood still. Ruth would go 4-4 and drive in 6 runs for the Boston Braves- in a losing effort to the Pirates.

Ruth’s first shot went about 385 feet into the lower deck in right field- a high fly. The next home run was also to right but went about 500 feet into the upper deck in right center- more of a line drive and deep…

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Skandera and Huffman: Defenders of the Status Quo

Politicians Hanna Skandera (New Mexico via Jeb Bush) and Kevin Huffman(Tennessee via Jeb Bush) are mad. They see a threat to the educational testing complex that gives them their power. Politicians like Skandera and Huffman need the hammer of test scores to scapegoat schools, manipulate data and public opinion and continue to divert money to privatization.
Hanna and Huff, as we affectionately call them, wrote a creepy opinion piece in the Washington Post. It sounds oddly like a press release from the Jeb Bush foundation which is run by Jeb and Patty Levesque.
Let me give you a few quotes from their political diatribe and then comment on them. Hanna and Huff say…

1.”In classrooms across the United States, higher academic standards are inspiring students and teachers.”

Response: They waste no time insulting teachers and kids. These two really hate teachers and public education. Common Core is creating more testing and profits for education companies. They are inspiring big business to think of new ways to pilfer tax dollars. Teachers inspire, parents inspire and kids inspire- no need for Common Core.

2. “Students are more engaged and excited in school, raising their hands more often, asking more questions, thinking critically and solving problems instead of just memorizing facts.”

Response: Common Core is making kids raise their hands more and ask more questions? Is there evidence of this miracle? I call bullshot on this one. This is also an insult to teachers. Do they think we really need Common Core to get kids to think critically and problem solve? Do they hate us that much? Or are they admitting the test based system they backed for years is a failure and we need more tests? Huh?

3. “Teachers feel more motivated, creative and empowered to develop new and better ways to reach their students.”

Response: Another insult. We do not need Common Core to think of ways to reach students. Common Core is a test driven boondoggle. Our job is always about reaching kids and saving lives, despite the test based nonsense from Hanna and Huff. Teachers are sick of giving tests up to 100 days a year- tests they do not make.

4. “Astonishingly, the unions seem to think that they can ask for more taxpayer money while simultaneously weakening measurement and accountability. This is the very course of action that has led the United States to its middling level of performance on international benchmarks.”

A. Huff and Hanna are the ones asking for more tax dollars to test kids even more at the expense of learning. They scapegoat schools for the ills of society.
B. No Hanna and Huff- our middling level of performance on international tests is both irrelevant and a result of the US being a world leader in child poverty. These tests are little more than poverty measures. Adjusted for poverty, our kids score at or near the top of these tests. Does it matter? No. (See Bracey, Cremins, Krashen)

Jeb Bush uses his “Chiefs for Change” to avoid the political spotlight and his Common Core albatross. They speak for him. Oddly Hanna and Huff are simply pushing the old status quo of test and punish. They are scared that their world of cocktail parties is about to end. More and more people are aware of the scams and canards they push.

The opinion piece in The Post is a desperate attempt to save the status quo and a testing empire that has helped keep poor and minority students under the boot of political opportunism. Hanna and Huff do not trust teachers. Their policies crush morale, take away teacher autonomy and turn schools into testing centers. Is this the goal? Making things so onerous in public schools that kids flee is part of the agenda.

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