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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 03/ 8/2011

Ravitch: Jon Stewart and other education heroes

By Valerie Strauss

This was written by education historian Diane Ravitch for her Bridging Differences blog, which she co-authors with Deborah Meier on the Education Week website. Ravitch and Meier exchange letters about what matters most in education. Ravitch, a research professor at New York University, is the author of the bestselling “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” an important critique of the flaws in the modern school reform movement.

Dear Deborah,
I am writing from Madison, where I arrived an hour ago. Tonight, I am speaking to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, a date arranged many months ago, long before anyone imagined that Madison would be the scene of a major political battle.

The stalemate in Wisconsin continues, and polls show that the public supports collective-bargaining rights for public-sector workers. I was worried that there might be a race to the bottom, having read complaints on blogs that begin, "If I don't have a pension or healthcare, why should they?"

Then I learned, thanks to a correspondent, not to be too upset by blog comments. He said that there are people paid to post negative or positive comments about products, people, and ideas. Apparently such people create hundreds of fake identities to simulate public opinion. Oh, well, just another good reason to inform yourself, reach your own judgment, and not be swayed by the crowd, which might consist of one person pretending to be dozens or hundreds.

Last week, I had the exciting experience of appearing on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. Jon has assembled some hilarious satires on the showdown between Gov. Scott Walker and the state's teachers. The segments are called "Angry Curds," and I urge you to watch. He contrasts the alleged perks and luxuries of "fat-cat teachers" with the Wall Street bankers who can't be expected to cut their pay or bonuses. On March 3, when I was there, Stewart said (I paraphrase): "This is a time for ALL of us to sacrifice: Teachers, teachers' aides, student teachers, retired teachers, school janitors: All of us." But not the super-rich.

Stewart is truly a hero for our nation's teachers. His mother was a teacher for many years, and he knows how hard she worked for modest pay. Unlike the pundits now raging on talk shows, Stewart knows that his mother earned her pension and health benefits. I was thrilled to watch his skillful take-down of the corporate reform narrative and to do it with the deadliest of weapons: humor.

I was also delighted to discover that Matt Damon spoke out against high-stakes testing when he was interviewed by Piers Morgan on CNN. Morgan said, You worked very hard to elect Obama, how do you think he's doing? Damon said Obama had disappointed him on education, and that, with so much testing, students were being trained, not educated.

On the downside, as if to prove Matt Damon's point, President Obama flew to Miami to join former Gov. Jeb Bush in celebrating rising test scores at Miami Central Senior High School. Many Florida teachers dislike Bush intensely, to put it mildly, for his support of vouchers, charters, high-stakes testing, merit pay, and judging teachers by test scores. Yet there was President Obama, praising Bush as an education reformer.

There really is a bipartisan consensus on education reform. It happens to be the Republican agenda of the past 30 years, minus the Republicans' traditional contempt for federal control of education policy. Where did the Democratic agenda go?

So, having no political leadership to support public education, collective bargaining, or the dignity of the teaching profession, we must look for leadership wherever it can be found. Right now, it's among the people who have stood up for the rights of teachers on the cold and windy streets of Madison, Wisconsin, as well as those who have rallied in their own cities and towns. And we must thank Jon Stewart and Matt Damon for challenging the power elites.

We must take hope wherever it can be found, believing that common sense and decency will in time prevail. But we cannot rely on hope alone. The only lasting resolution will depend on the will, the determination, and the concerted actions of the citizens of this democracy.

Diane

-0-

Follow my blog every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed.Bookmark it!

By Valerie Strauss  | March 8, 2011; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Diane Ravitch, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  angry curds, charter schools, diane ravitch, education reformers, gov. jeb bush, high-stakes testing, jon stewart, jon stewart and wisconsin, matt damon, merit pay, obama and bush, piers morgan, school reform, teacher assessment, vouchers, wisconsin, wisconsin protests, wisconsin teachers  
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Comments

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa supports public education, collective bargaining, and the dignity of the teaching profession. It is a reckless disregard for the truth to state otherwise.


Here's what Villaraigosa said recently:

"When we fought to change the seniority-based layoff system that was disproportionately hurting our neediest students, the teachers union fought back.

When we fought to empower parents to turn around failing schools and bring in outside school operators with proven records of success, the teachers union fought back.

And now, while we try to measure teacher effectiveness in order to reward the best teachers and replace the tiny portion who aren't helping our kids learn, the teachers union fights back.

It's not easy for me to say this. I started out as an organizer for UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles), and I don't have an anti-union bone in my body. The teachers unions aren't the biggest or the only problem facing our schools, but for many years now, they have been the most consistent, most powerful defenders of the unacceptable status quo."

From the NYT:

“It’s simply crazy to say that we have to do this based on when people were hired,” Mr. Villaraigosa said in an interview. He has spent considerable effort attacking the union’s policies in recent months and said that the lawsuit was just one of many steps he hopes will overhaul the way hiring and firing is done in the city’s schools.

“This is really just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “But we have to start somewhere. We haven’t had any other kind of real change, and this clearly opens the door to more.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/us/05layoffs.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=Villaraigosa&st=cse

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

seriously, frankb1, are you admitting her "transformation" wasn't built on putting "students first"???

It has been weeks, and many threads where you have quotes from everybody, but have yet to provide her (Rhee's) anecdotal quotes describing how she was transformed when her students started reading chapter books, demonstrated number sense in class and demonstrated class behavior that didn't require Rhee to tape their mouths shut or swallow bees.

a teacher, especially one whose teaching experience transformed them, would have those examples. They wouldn't rely on a statement from their principal at the end of their teaching "career"

Posted by: researcher2 | March 8, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

DC Mayor Vince Gray supports public education, collective bargaining, and the dignity of the teaching profession. It is a reckless disregard for the truth to state otherwise.

From Vince Gray’s Plan for D.C. Schools:

"Vince Gray will make our children’s education the number one priority of his administration. He will be an involved Mayor who takes all stakeholders seriously, who stands by his Schools Chancellor, and who works tirelessly for well-managed, smart reform.

For Vince, this is not just an election-year promise—it comes from a lifetime of dedication to our schools. Vince spent his entire childhood in D. C. Public Schools, he is a graduate of George Washington University, and his late wife was an outstanding educator in the D. C. Public Schools. Vince has gained an incredibly wide perspective on our school system and fixing it once and for all is his life’s mission.

From the Post:

"Mayor Vincent C. Gray intends to name interim schools leader Kaya Henderson as permanent schools chancellor this week to replace Michelle A. Rhee, according to a source close to the situation."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/06/AR2011030603425.html

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

researcher2: How about I just send you a copy of the book? Then we can discuss.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,
You seem to be satisfied with quoting only the mayor of LA in his near-rant against the local teachers' union.
How about giving fair coverage in quotes from that union of their response and reasoning for saying what they do?
You do want to be fair, yes?

Posted by: 1bnthrdntht | March 8, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

frankb1 is Richard Whitmire. Or at least he uses the same argument as Whitmire, which is "just read the book" - as if that answers any argument pertaining to Rhee.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | March 8, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

More from Civil Rights Hero Villaraigosa:

"Los Angeles Mayor Antionio Villaraigosa, who cut his teeth organizing for United Teachers of Los Angeles, unloaded on the union in a speech Tuesday at a conference in Sacramento sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Characterizing the UTLA union leadership as “one, unwavering roadblock to reform,” the mayor called on the union to come to “the reform table, ready with ideas” – specifically to change tenure laws and teacher evaluations, which he called currently “meaningless.” He disparaged the process of awarding tenure, a system of complex due process rights, to 97 percent of teachers after only two years on the job.

Villaraigosa has tangled with the UTLA before, most recently when he supported the ACLU in filing suit to block layoffs by seniority that decimated young staffs in some of the 21 low-performing schools the mayor brought under his control through his Partnership Through Los Angeles Schools.

But his remarks were unusually confrontational for a mayor who, along with other leading Democrats, has steadfastly allied himself with organized labor.

Villaraigosa directly referred to the growing split between teachers unions and Democrats who are calling for school reforms on behalf of another core group of Democratic constituents: minorities and low-income voters.

While reaffirming his support for the right of workers to unionize and bargain, he added, “… union leaders need to take notice that it is their friends, the very people who have supported them and the people whom they have supported, who are carrying the torch of education reform and crying out for the unions to join them."

http://toped.svefoundation.org/2010/12/07/mayor-villaraigosa-attacks-utla/

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,
sure, send me the book.
what is your email, so I can send you my address?

Posted by: researcher2 | March 8, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

So what is Ravitch's agenda? It's hard to say, since she is usually 100% negative, but we can infer that she wants the opposite of what she opposes...

-No tests, unless they are unique tests which can't be used to compare anyone to anyone else, and which are different from what the teacher teaches, so that the teacher isn't teaching to the test.

-Teachers should be able to teach whatever they want.

-No private companies should produce educational materials or perform any other services in schools that would allow them to provide competitively valued materials for profit.

-Unions should continue to negotiate for shorter school years, less working days, unfundable defined-benefit pensions, and rules that make it very difficult to fire a teacher with experience for performance.

-Students should not be trained to perform tasks which will make their labor valuable to others.

It's sort of a unique agenda, one that seems in tune with not really changing much of anything in the schools. Sort of a "reform, why bother?" approach. Instead, it's saying- students are poor. Poor students can't succeed. We just need to make the students not poor, then we won't have any problems. Never mind that the lowest 5th percentile of Americans are richer than 95% of Indians, somehow, the horrible poverty of our schools prevents learning. Sure it makes it harder, but it's all relative. Face it whinging Americans- you get more on welfare here than people in other countries can earn.

Posted by: staticvars | March 8, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Frank's a troll, digging up the flotsam and jetsam on the Internet bridge to feed his tenuous hold on his own ideology.

Posted by: DHume1 | March 8, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Hope for minority and low-income students from LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:

"California has the opportunity to adopt a new system, one that is meaningful and based on a clear definition of teacher and school leader effectiveness. And we must start by making data on student performance — and student growth— a key indicator. To be meaningful, evaluations must include multiple measurements: Student growth over time, in-class observations, and reviews by students and parents, supervisors and peers.

With a rigorous and relevant system, new and struggling teachers or administrators would be given the support and training they need to improve and succeed, and quality teachers and principals would be honored and rewarded.

And once we have a meaningful system in place, we cannot continue to automatically guarantee lifetime employment to all teachers, nor can we make decisions about assignments, transfers and layoffs solely on the basis of seniority. Tenure and seniority must be reformed or we will be left with only one option: eliminating it entirely.

When it comes to important decisions regarding where teachers are placed, we must factor in performance and create career ladders for our most successful teachers. When it comes to layoffs, we must ensure that they are not disproportionately affecting our most challenged schools. And when it comes to tenure, principals should have to proactively affirm that a new teacher is deserving.

Tenure should be a meaningful accomplishment, not an arbitrary mile-marker. To give districts and principals more time to make an informed decision about this permanency, we should increase the observation time to four years. Two years is simply not enough time for new teachers to meet performance standards.

Finally, we must amend the Education Code to streamline the dismissal process. For example, those who are consistently unsuccessful in the classroom should be dismissed, period. This is not just in the best interest of our students, it is in the best interest of the excellent teachers who are dedicated to their profession. No more years of waiting for a case, months-long hearings, or endless appeals. That is in nobody’s best interest."

Full speech at: http://mayor.lacity.org/PressRoom/PressReleases/LACITYP_012780

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

researcher2: "frankb1,sure, send me the book. what is your email, so I can send you my address?"

frankb168@yahoo.com

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Frank, the LA mayor is not the shining example of hero-hood that you paint him out to be. He's got some serious credibility problems. Take a look at all of his former "friends" who are now only passing acquaintances. Also take a look at all the charges he faces. Then ask his former wife about him.

But I guess even you need to look up to someone.

Posted by: DHume1 | March 8, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

DHume1: Guaranteed lifetime employment is very much like guaranteed lifetime marriage.

"In her petition, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Corina Villaraigosa cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the break, according to sources who had seen the document. The couple will need to reach agreement on child support, custody and visitation terms.

The mayor's wife, a longtime educator in the Montebello Unified School District, could not be reached Tuesday. But the mayor's office said the divorce would be amicable.

"Mrs. Villaraigosa believes that now is the right moment to file and the mayor supports her in that decision," said Deputy Mayor Sean Clegg. "He believes it's time to start focusing on the future and their shared responsibilities as parents."

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jun/13/local/me-mayor13

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,
I just sent you an email. If you don't see it in your inbox, please check your spam (since my email will be an unknown sender, yahoo might send it to spam)
Thanks...

Posted by: researcher2 | March 8, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Diane Ravitsch is a breath of fresh air.

She says what parents like me would say if we had an opportunity. It is sad that at this point of economic crisis in our nations history we are punishing the people who have served their communities the most (teachers, police, firemen public servants)while the folks who got us into this financial mess must be laughing their asses off all the way to their Wall Street banks. Kinda like the way Rhee pretended there was a budget shortfall in 2009, and cut 30 million dollars worth of staff and services at the school building level and the same year overran her central office budget by 20 million dollars. Then left the city and said-BTW nation would you mind giving me a cool billion dollars so I can do the same everywhere else through my political connections. Funny I don't see Diane Ravitsch asking people for big money. (See testimony here on how ridiculously blouted with 112 staff more than under past administrations (while serving thousands fewer children and 100 staff earning over 100K the DC School central administration budget has become) http://www.dcpswatch.com/dcps/110304.htm
As Malcom X would say-We've been hoodwinked and babmboozled... and being told that budget shortfalls are the fault of teachers and their lackluster union which on a good day can just about provide access to eye exams an little else. Sad-pathetic really that this culture allows wealth interest to turn against public interest of having stable schools as institutional anchors in our communities. That is what Ravitsch is fighting for- the protection of democratic institutions and a voice for those who serve their community. Why should some corporate interest have more to say about my child's education than I do as a parent. And why the overarching attack on all things union and when unions are not the enemy. However greed and political manipulation most certainly is .

Posted by: rastajan | March 8, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Frank,

I agree with your point about marriage, but you are again sidestepping my point. The mayor's a person of low character (very much like yourself). He cheated on his wife with a Telemundo reporter. And he cheated on his wife earlier in their marriage when she was undergoing cancer treatment. How a man treats his family is directly proportional to how much respect we should give him. You seem to give him more than most would, Frank. What does that say about you?

Posted by: DHume1 | March 8, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

researcher2: got it, just replied.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know anyone at the National Center for Education Statistics? Do they have any known biases? Sorry for the seemingly random question!

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | March 8, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

DHume1: It's true, I have done far worse than anything Villaraigosa has been accused of. From my vantage point he is a great man with some defects, who has made mistakes in life.

His status as a civil rights hero (he worked alongside of Cesar Chavez and the farm workers) is unquestionable. As the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles in more than a century, his example and his leadership have been extraordinary.

As mayor, he promised to plant 1 million trees, to start building a subway to the ocean, and to take over the city's ailing school system, from which approximately 60 percent of Latinos and 50 percent of African-Americans drop out.

"Antonio doesn't do politics for the purpose of political expediency," says Fabian Nunez, speaker of the California state Assembly. "His thinking is guided by what's in his heart, gut, and head.

The Jane Goodall Institute honored Villaraigosa for his work and achievements on behalf of people, animals and the environment.

http://www.janegoodall.org/about-jgi

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Got to look at the whole man, Frank. If you knew what you were talking about, you would have left Nunez off your list. Need to keep up with the Times, Frank. You're at least a few years behind the news.

Posted by: DHume1 | March 8, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Villagairosa is finding himself on the employer side of the table. Posting that same quote over and over changes nothing. Of course he will be frustrated when he tries to make a unilateral move and is blocked per a collective bargaining agreement. Not speaking out against the LA Times publishing of individual value-added scores probably didn't help. As for Gray and Henderson, the jury is out. They both sound like they want to seek some consensus from all the stakeholders, something the previous pair, sadly seemed to forgo.

Posted by: mcnyc | March 8, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"Where did the Democratic agenda go?"

When was there a Democratic agenda on schools? Liberals abandoned the topic decades ago.

Every few years, Jonathan Kozol will publish a book. Other than that, nothing.

Question: When was Ravitch, or any education thinker of any kind, a guest on any MSNBC show? On Maddow? On Olbermann?

Answer: Never. The topic ceased to exist for liberals around 1975. This is a blatantly obvious fact, though we liberals don't seem to have heard.

Posted by: bobsomerby | March 8, 2011 7:09 PM | Report abuse

President Obama (who supports public education, collective bargaining, and the dignity of the teaching profession) gave a speech about the importance of education reform in Boston today.

From President Obama's speech at TechBoston Academy:

"We can't forget that every year, schools like TechBoston have to hold a lottery, because there just aren't enough spaces for all the students who want to go here. The reason they want to go here is because they know that if they go to some of the other schools in the area, they won't do as well. They know that they might drop out. They might not get the same reinforcement that they need. There might not be that same culture of excellence and performance. That means they may not go to college, and they know they may not succeed.

All of that shouldn't depend on a lottery. That can't be the system of education we settle for in America. No child's chance in life should be determined by the luck of a lottery. Not in this country. This is a place where everyone gets the chance to succeed, where everybody should have a chance to make it. The motto of this school is, "We rise and fall together." Well, that is true for America as well. That's true for America as well.

If we want to prosper in the 21st century, and if we want to keep the American Dream alive in our time, then we're going to rise together. We've all got to come together. We've got to give our children the same world-class education that you are getting right here at TechBoston. And as long as I am President, that's what I'm going to be fighting for right alongside you."

Full Text of President Obama's speech at TechBoston Academy:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/03/08/text_of_president_obamas_speech_at_techboston_academy

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

What is TechBoston Academy's secret to success for minority and low-income students?

"Because this is a pilot school, free from some union rules, Skipper has been able to hand-pick her faculty."

http://www.boston.com/yourtown/boston/dorchester/articles/2011/01/16/a_top_skipper_at_the_helm/

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 7:57 PM | Report abuse

MA Governor Deval Patrick supports public education, collective bargaining, and the dignity of the teaching profession.

Massachusetts Education Reform Bill To Transform Public School System:

"Joined at the Boston Children’s Museum by a cross-section of state, municipal, education and business leaders, Governor Patrick applauded Senate President Therese Murray, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and members of the Legislature for their commitment to making a difference in the lives of the Commonwealth’s children and noted that the new law greatly strengthens Massachusetts’ ability to access $250 million or more in federal Race to the Top funding. The Patrick-Murray Administration will submit the state’s application for the $4.35 billion competitive grant program aimed at driving reform and change in the nation’s schools tomorrow, Tuesday, January 19th.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who oversees the Race to the Top program for the Obama Administration, joined Governor Patrick when he announced his reform legislation last summer, praising the proposal for its innovative approach to eliminating achievement gaps by aggressively intervening in low-performing schools, enhancing opportunities for autonomy and innovation and expanding the number of charter schools in Massachusetts. Last Thursday, the Senate and House of Representatives gave final approval to a bill that largely mirrors the proposal the Governor filed in July."

http://www.thegovmonitor.com/world_news/united_states/massachusetts-education-reform-bill-to-transform-public-school-system-21699.html

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse

MA Governor Deval Patrick supports public education, collective bargaining, and the dignity of the teaching profession.

Massachusetts Education Reform Bill To Transform Public School System:

"Joined at the Boston Children’s Museum by a cross-section of state, municipal, education and business leaders, Governor Patrick applauded Senate President Therese Murray, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and members of the Legislature for their commitment to making a difference in the lives of the Commonwealth’s children and noted that the new law greatly strengthens Massachusetts’ ability to access $250 million or more in federal Race to the Top funding. The Patrick-Murray Administration will submit the state’s application for the $4.35 billion competitive grant program aimed at driving reform and change in the nation’s schools tomorrow, Tuesday, January 19th.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who oversees the Race to the Top program for the Obama Administration, joined Governor Patrick when he announced his reform legislation last summer, praising the proposal for its innovative approach to eliminating achievement gaps by aggressively intervening in low-performing schools, enhancing opportunities for autonomy and innovation and expanding the number of charter schools in Massachusetts. Last Thursday, the Senate and House of Representatives gave final approval to a bill that largely mirrors the proposal the Governor filed in July."

http://www.thegovmonitor.com/world_news/united_states/massachusetts-education-reform-bill-to-transform-public-school-system-21699.html

Posted by: frankb1 | March 8, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse

I watched Diane on online here in Wisconsin.
She spoke intelligently and eloquently about what good schools should offer which would include the arts, foreign languages, sciences, math, history, geography and civics,reading. She really makes sense. I wonder why no one is listening to her in Washington.
She also said that President Obama's appearance with Jeb Bush and Arne Duncan campaigning with Newt Gingrich was not exactly a very good sign.

The 14 Wisconsin Democrats got a standing ovation from the crowd when former Rep. David Obey mentioned them. He was plugging Democrats over Republicans on educational issues. Diane responded that she applauded the Wisconsin 14.

She also went through the history of public education and told how early on people struggled to get it going.

I had never heard her speak before except on Jon Stewart's show. She is very smart and sincere. Maybe there is hope.

Posted by: georgia198305 | March 8, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

@frankb1
It is good when the principal can decide on the faculty. Also good for a teacher to be able to interview at many schools and decide which ones would be a good fit. That way everybody in the school is on the same page. That can help the kids a lot.

I don't think that unions have to prevent that.

I don't know why you are anti-union, but I have to tell you. Our schools here in my suburb are unionized and they are great! I am not a superintendent so I can't say what it is like for him, but for the parents, kids and teachers we have wonderful schools.

I think the schools should be for the kids, not for the convenience of principals, superintendents, mayors, presidents or billionaires, thank you very much.

Posted by: georgia198305 | March 8, 2011 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I am sure that many of us already realized that "people [are] paid to post negative or positive comments about products, people, and ideas," and it's refreshing to hear this acknowledged by Diane Ravitch and a "correspondent" from the mainstream media.

Makes you wonder about some of our serial posters and union bashers here on WAPO's blogs, doesn't it?

Posted by: stevendphoto | March 8, 2011 10:18 PM | Report abuse

@stevendphoto - it makes doesn't make me wonder about the union boosters, since they are directly benefiting from this stuff...

"I watched Diane on online here in Wisconsin.
She spoke intelligently and eloquently about what good schools should offer which would include the arts, foreign languages, sciences, math, history, geography and civics,reading."

What school doesn't offer this?

Posted by: staticvars | March 8, 2011 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Words are cheap. Actions speak louder. Especially when we are talking about politicians.

Posted by: mcnyc | March 8, 2011 11:58 PM | Report abuse

staticvars,

We all make typos, but really, "it makes doesn't make me wonder about the union boosters, since they are directly benefiting from this stuff." What exactly are you trying to say? You're being kind of vague. Yes. I directly benefit from my union and I work hard every day and do my job to the best of my abilities.

Most of us probably don't belong to the exclusive club of the richest 1% of Americans yet many of us blindly follow their lead, even though it's often antithetical to our own best interests.

Since Michael Moore can say it better than I can, here's an excerpt of a speech he just gave in Wisconsin, courtesy of GF Brandenburg.

http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/america-aint-broke-a-speech-by-michael-moore/

"They control the message. By owning most of the media they have expertly convinced many Americans of few means to buy their version of the American Dream and to vote for their politicians. Their version of the Dream says that you, too, might be rich some day — this is America, where anything can happen if you just apply yourself! They have conveniently provided you with believable examples to show you how a poor boy can become a rich man, how the child of a single mother in Hawaii can become president, how a guy with a high school education can become a successful filmmaker. They will play these stories for you over and over again all day long so that the last thing you will want to do is upset the apple cart — because you — yes, you, too! – might be rich/president/an Oscar-winner some day! The message is clear: keep you head down, your nose to the grindstone, don’t rock the boat and be sure to vote for the party that protects the rich man that you might be some day."

Posted by: stevendphoto | March 9, 2011 12:39 AM | Report abuse

@staticvars
I'm not a union booster ok? You'll have to take my word for it. I just enjoy giving my opinion on these boards and now since I am in Wisconsin I am sort of in the middle of a huge union revival. Kind of weird, but I am really into education, because I used to be a teacher.
Now, my comment about the subjects that should be included was not that good. You are right, nothing I said was really different than what you could get in any school system in the DC area.
However, her point was not so much about unions. She was mentioning all the subjects because she said that some people were pushing only teaching Reading and Math. She was saying that even if students did well in Reading and Math, they wouldn't have a real education if they didn't learn the other subjects as well.

Just so you know I am not a union booster. Look, I am for collective bargaining because I think that is one way for teachers to be heard. They have not been heard very much lately. There is a lot of top down type management going on in schools. I wouldn't exactly lose out if unions here don't have bargaining rights, but my kids would lose out. Since I am unemployed and very experienced, unions might actually make my getting hired less likely.
If I'm a union booster it is because I have worked fast food jobs to help pay for college. I worked hours and was not paid for all of them, sometimes 10 hours straight. I saw how fast food places never give employees 40 hours so they don't have to pay benefits.

Here in Wisconsin, I have been extremely impressed with the teachers and the other unions. The teachers make these beautiful creative signs. The union people just are so wonderful to be standing out there in the cold with us. (By us, I mean the people of my state)

thanks for reading my post

Posted by: georgia198305 | March 9, 2011 1:26 AM | Report abuse

@staticvars

If you do find a way for me to get paid for making these comments, let me know.

Hey Unions, I have been on your side for at least 3 weeks now. Where's my money???LOL

Maybe Diane Ravitch can tell us more about that. LOL

Posted by: georgia198305 | March 9, 2011 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Guy Brandenburg for exposing Michelle Rhee's lies and for supporting Wisconsin teachers on your blog!

Hang in there, all you who belong to the select group of detractors...LOL I love it when adjectives are blatantly used to try to diminish the opposition. So obvious.

Posted by: georgia198305 | March 9, 2011 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Matt Damon's mother was also a teacher and then a professor of education at Lesley University. I wish more high-profile children of teachers would speak out as Jon Stewart and Matt Damon have.

Posted by: acinmassachusetts | March 9, 2011 5:33 AM | Report abuse

The Founders of the nation were as one in perceiving public education’s role in promoting the values and principles of republican democracy, including freedom, equality, justice and the public good. Yet, it too often gets distracted and detracted from its purposes and professed principles. That is especially true over the last thirty years.

Driven by conservatives who are determined to privatize public education (and turn the U.S. into an oligarchy), testing drives the agenda and public school teachers are the perceived “enemy.” It's been a costly endeavor.

In Virginia, hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars have been devoted to testing, yet that testing does little if anything to improve quality education. A Virginia Board of Education technical advisory committee strongly recommended a consequential validity study of the SOL testing. Rather than comply and and validate the testing program, the Board disbanded the committee.

No Child Left Behind has been even worse for the nation’s schools. Testing is the core component. That testing is overly-burdensome. The school instructional day is now focused almost solely on test scores. The testing is costly not only in dollars and time, but also in motivation and morale. It is slowly but surely making public education worse, much worse. But that’s the intent.

Honest and effective reform, of Wall Street or of campaign financing or of public education, should be about the common good and ought to promote the general welfare of society. But for conservatives, personal gain and profit far override common purpose and national and community well-being.

Frankb1 keeps citing political speeches that promote charters, bash teachers, and link test scores to America’s 21st century economic success. I suppose he believes that if he cites enough of these speeches, all lacking any research foundation, then they’ll magically become true. It’s like the conservative lie that tax cuts pay for themselves. Or the lie that giving big tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy is really good for everybody else too. Or the even bigger lie that Ronald Reagan’s presidency was good for the average worker, when, in fact, “blue-collar Americans paid a higher percentage of their income in taxes when Reagan left office than when he came in.”

What we are witnessing now is not about education. It’s an orchestrated effort to protect the charlatans and crooks who caused the economic meltdown and raided the public treasuries from any accountability and punishment while also allowing them to tap even more public revenues.

It is power, monied politics. It’s wrong, and it’s inherently undemocratic, no matter who is giving the speech.

It isn't about "the kids," is it Frank?

Posted by: DrDemocracy | March 9, 2011 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Education hero Michelle Rhee appeared recently on CBS' The Talk, where she discussed the campaign to Save Great Teachers. With 45 states predicting budget shortfalls, and at least 160,000 teachers at risk, some of our best teachers are in jeopardy of seniority-based layoffs. Known as "last in, first, out" or LIFO, it means that the last teacher hired is the first one fired, regardless of how good they are.

Be sure to check out the full interview:

http://www.studentsfirst.org/blog/entry/michelle-rhee-appears-on-the-talk/

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't need to check it out, Frank. I already agree with the basic idea of LIFO. Rhee's quest here is quixotic. Most of the new teachers, those "last in," are the very ones that would be most likely laid off anyway under her own strategy. And most respectable public sector companies practice some form LIFO anyway. The whole thing is a Rhee magic show for like minded individuals like yourself.

The real problem is holding onto teachers in low performing schools. Rhee's stratagem does nothing to address the problem that occurs yearly in these schools regardless of budget shortfalls.

Posted by: DHume1 | March 9, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

DHume1 wrote: "The real problem is holding onto teachers in low performing schools."

Agreed. Which is a primary reason the ACLU, Mayor Villaraigosa, Rhee, civil rights groups, and hundreds of minority/low-income parents are fighting to change LIFO agreements (as well as other teacher placement rules).

From the NYT:

"Last spring, the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups sued the school district on behalf of parents, saying that their children’s right to an education, guaranteed in the State Constitution, would be violated by the layoffs. Like most districts in the country, Los Angeles has long had an agreement with the union that layoffs are based primarily on seniority, so that the most recently hired teachers are the first to go. That left schools like Gompers, already saddled with high teacher turnover, the most vulnerable.

Lawyers for the parents argued that the layoffs would disproportionately affect poor, black and Latino students, who are more likely to attend schools that are difficult to staff and have a high proportion of inexperienced teachers."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/us/05layoffs.html?ref=americancivillibertiesunion

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

You missed the point again, Frank. And you forgot to read my last sentence.

So we don't agree. You just cherry-picked a sentence, removing it from its context.

Posted by: DHume1 | March 9, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

That's because the last hired get the worst placements. No one has an incentive to teach in these schools, least of all now when they are very likely to get blamed for ills they have little control over.

Posted by: mcnyc | March 9, 2011 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of cherry picking Frank! Have you researched why Goodall honored the mayor? Its not because he is some outstanding supporter of children's education. Its because he pushes her program Roots and Shoots. Not that there is an issue with that, but its not like the award confirms her thoughts that he is some great educator/reformer.

Posted by: robsterstu | March 9, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

We need to compel the assignment of successful or "highly effective" teachers to the worst schools. I know this has been proposed by others before. I am just repeating it because it is what the Lord would want. It is possibly not what the WTU wants (is it?).
With the mayor we have, I do not see him making any hard choices, but rather kicking the can down the road. We need to tell him what we want him to do.

Posted by: OrdinaryDCPerson | March 9, 2011 10:19 PM | Report abuse

If we assign the "best" teachers to the "worst" schools we had better know what's making them good and bad. And then we need to make sure the "best" are adequately supported in the worst. The reason for the resistance is people are afraid they will get blamed for something that is not completely under their control.

Posted by: mcnyc | March 9, 2011 10:35 PM | Report abuse

OrdinaryDCPerson: "We need to compel the assignment of successful or "highly effective" teachers to the worst schools."

I completely agree. The union rules that prevent these assignments need to change. Pay more if you need to, but no more opting out of teaching assignments because of seniority. In the end that is what the ACLU (and civil rights groups) lawsuits will do.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 10, 2011 12:07 AM | Report abuse

It's not union rules. It's part of a bargaining agreement. Both sides sign off on it.

Posted by: mcnyc | March 10, 2011 7:37 AM | Report abuse

It's not union rules. It's part of a bargaining agreement. Both sides sign off on it.

Posted by: mcnyc | March 10, 2011 7:59 AM | Report abuse

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