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Posted at 10:39 AM ET, 03/26/2010

Duncan silent on Florida’s education mess

By Valerie Strauss

It’s no wonder that many teachers, students and parents feel that public education is under assault in Florida.

Despite a growing chorus of opposition from teachers, students and even school superintendents, the Republican-dominated state Legislature is intent on passing a bill that would make eliminate teacher tenure, link teacher pay to student standardized test scores, and add a heap more tests on already test-plagued students.

Each one of those items will negatively impact every student in a Florida public school. But that’s not all.

Citing terrible budget constraints, legislators are trying to pull back on a decision voters made in a state referendum in 2002 that limited class size. Voters approved a plan for gradual reductions in class size until they reach no more than 18 for grades pre-K-3, 22 for grades 4-8, and 25 in high school.

But that’s not all.

Even though money is so tight, the Republican legislators somehow found money for private schools through tax-credit scholarships, and that bill is moving swiftly too.

With all this work to do, you might think the Florida legislators don’t have any more time to deal with lesser education issues. But you’d be wrong.

There is also a bill being considered that would prohibit “district school boards, administrative personnel, and instructional personnel from discouraging or inhibiting student delivery of inspirational message at noncompulsory high school activity.” This is apparently an issue worthy of legislative time in the Sunshine State.

You also might think that the Democratic administration of President Obama would say something about all of this. But so far, there has been silence.

I asked the Education Department if Secretary Arne Duncan had taken a position on any of this, and the answer came back today. It was simple: “No.”

The most egregious of the bills was passed Wednesday by the Senate, and a companion bill was approved by a House committee Thursday.

According to the Miami Herald, sergeants-at-arms had to form a barrier when the panel ended because they were afraid of the wrath of angry educators who had come to protest. Republicans ignored amendments and cut off public testimony to force a vote on the bill.

The bill, like Senate Bill 6, requires school systems to evaluate and pay teachers primarily on the basis of student test scores, which assessment experts say is an ineffective evaluation method.

In addition, no longer could experience in the classroom, or professional credentials, or advanced degrees, have any value in a teacher’s salary. That’s a great way to tell students that education is valuable, don’t you think?

It also orders the creation of more tests for kids in subjects not already annually assessed by some standardized exam.

There is an Orwellian cast to the words of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who said that the bill “focuses on trying to help children and encouraging better teachers,” when, in fact, it will, without a doubt, do the opposite.

Any teacher could tell that to Crist, but I’m betting he doesn’t talk to any.

I wish Secretary Duncan would call up the governor and tell him that if he signs this bill, the state will have a hard time keeping and recruiting good teachers. Who would want to work there?

You can see the effect that all of this is having on teachers and parents by going to a page on Facebook called “testing is not teaching,” at http://www.facebook.com/testingisnotteaching

Here’s what one teacher wrote on the day the Senate passed its version of the bill. It’s enough to make you cry:

What a devastating day for teachers...and the teaching professionals state-wide. Not in all my 17 years as a special education teacher have I been so disheartened! I just can’t make ends meet...and it’s going to come a time, as my mom says, to "fish or cut bait". I think I’ll be leaving this profession.

-0-


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By Valerie Strauss  | March 26, 2010; 10:39 AM ET
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, No Child Left Behind  | Tags:  Arne Duncan, Florida, NCLB  
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Comments

Thank you for keeping up with this Valerie. The effects of this law, should it come to pass, will be irreversible. Our students will be the ones who suffer most. They will lose creative, effective teachers in favor of rote memoriziation of facts so that they can take tests. They will become non-productive citizens who cannot think for themselves, work with others or become problem solvers. These are not the people who I would like to see in charge in the next generation of state leaders.

Posted by: bethanne1 | March 26, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Which leaves me to believe that we are going to be a testing ground for the dismantling of public education. Devastated...simply devastated.

Posted by: Live4literacy | March 26, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

You have my sincere thanks as well, Valerie, for staying on this.

The ramifications of these events in Florida are chilling to think about; the word fascist comes to mind. When legislators are treating educators as non-entities, their professional training as of no import,and you report "Republicans ignored amendments and cut off public testimony to force a vote", one has to wonder what the real agenda is - to punish
teachers for political leanings? The agenda can hardly be putting children's best educational interests first.

Secretary Duncan and President Obama cannot ignore this.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | March 26, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

There is no standardized, group test designed to evaluate the progress of every child in the class as well as the performance of the classroom teacher. It's time for teachers to make this point in a court of law. Testing experts will speak on their behalf.

A teacher CAN be evaluated, but not on the basis of one test. That should be obvious to everyone.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | March 26, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Well, didn't Republican Rod Paige preside over cheating in Houston?
Republicans want to see more of it.

Posted by: edlharris | March 26, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Of course Duncan is keeping quiet. His mouth is closed because he doesn't like the taste of his foot. His half-baked notion of tying teacher pay closely to test scores is most noxious as the burning rubber of this idea hits the road.

Posted by: shadwell1 | March 26, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

PLMichaels: "Chilling" is a great word for it. And Linda: I agree with you, too, that it may be a good idea to bring some of these issues into the judicial system. I think we're running out of ways to get the politicians' and policymakers' attention. They don't seem to be paying attention to what tens of thousands of teachers have to say about what would help them help kids: http://bit.ly/PrimarySources

One small glimmer of hope... There is money in Florida's Race to the Top proposal allocated to implementation of lesson study (or similar kinds of teacher learning communities) in some schools. If nothing else, it might be a way to help teachers find some sense of purpose and mutual support amidst the insanity. Some teachers in Orlando are doing lesson study and, I think it's fair to say, feeling engaged and inspired: http://bit.ly/Orlando2

Kenni Smith
Developmental Studies Center
http://devstu.org

Posted by: ConsciousSmith | March 26, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I teach in Florida. I just got back from a three day trip with 100 middle schoolers learning about the history of Florida. I don't know if a test can show what my students learned on this trip, but I know they will never forget it. I hope the politicians will figure out that children are not statistics, they are children. And for the most part, teachers do what we do because we love teaching and learning. Thank you for making this issue a national one.

Posted by: jennypalmer1 | March 26, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for keeping track of this! As far as I can tell, you are the only one on the planet that cares.

We need the teachers of America to let them know that they will boycott Florida if they pass this.

If they succeed, other states will try this.I voted for Obama...I am not happy. His silence is deafening.

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | March 26, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Valerie, thanks for highlighting this disastrous legislative session in Florida. I am one of those teachers who will be shopping around my resume. I’ve had enough. The money required to obtain 2 master’s degrees, National Board Certification, and a year toward’s a doctorate degree is nowhere near covered by my paltry salary.

I choose to teach the poorest, most challenging students and have done so for the past 15 years. My job brings me great joy and much sadness but I wouldn’t do anything else; I just won’t do it in Florida any longer. This vicious slap in the face to Florida’s teachers is simply conservative Republican political ideology run amock.

Aided and abetted by the Bush Foundation, Senator Thrasher is determined to destroy public education in Florida and replace it with private school vouchers. We have no union in Florida -- it is a right to work state -- we have collective bargaining units that are able to attempt to negotiate our salaries and working conditions, although all the current statutes favor management.

They also try to ensure that we have simple due process. All of that is taken away under this law. Florida has historically underfunded its schools and underpaid its teachers. The last couple of decades of Republican control of our state legislature and governor’s mansion has seen nothing but punitive measures aimed squarely at the majority-Democratic teachers.

Time to move to a state where sane people govern and propose legislation that is based in reality and backed by careful thought and research and away from a state where a political ideology trumps all logic and common sense.

Posted by: GooberP | March 26, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Valerie,

George Parker and Michelle Rhee are close to realizing similar policies for the DC schools.

Will you ever address the embarrassing subjective teacher evaluation procedure in most US school districts today. That's the reason Florida and DC schools are headed toward a more realistic and objective view of a teacher's performance.

Linda,

The teacher will not be evaluated on one test. As an educator, you know that. Their students' test results will be examined over time to see if a pattern exists. Hopefully, if there are problems the district will have the courtesy and wherewithal to attempt to remediate the teacher before showing them the door.

Posted by: phoss1 | March 26, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for keeping up with this topic, Valerie.

I think we need to encourage young people to stay away from a career in education. They will just be exploited by politicians like in Florida and the Obama administration.

Posted by: jlp19 | March 26, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

"I wish Secretary Duncan would call up the governor and tell him that if he signs this bill, the state will have a hard time keeping and recruiting good teachers. Who would want to work there?"

Arne Duncan most likely approves of it.

I wonder when Duncan will be held ACCOUNTABLE for his disastrous policies in Chicago?

Posted by: jlp19 | March 26, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I have been a dedicated middle school math teacher in Florida for 14 years and I have never seen such madness. The thought that you can single out teachers (not administrators, school boards, superintendents, students, parents) as the ONLY factor in student learning is insane. We should be evaluated on the things that we can control (lesson development, lesson delivery, classroom environment, classroom discipline, assignment/activity design, etc). So many factors determine how a student is going to perform on a test. Of course, the teacher is one of those factors, but so is student attendance, attitude, work ethic and parent involvement. I have more than 20 students in my classes that have been absent between 20 and 45 days this year. There are students that REFUSE to do any work at all. I constantly contact parents who constantly ignore my phone calls. I offer FREE tutoring both before and after school. I had one parent actually ask me what I expected her to do about it because she couldn't make her 12 year old son stay after school for tutoring. And these students are going to determine my salary? I have no control over the students placed into my classes. Education is not a business. I cannot fire my students. I do the very best I can with what I am given and I deserve a guaranteed salary. I have never had anything less than an exemplary evaluation and I know that I have options. For the past few days I have been looking into school districts in other states. That is exactly what is going to happen in Florida. The best teachers will not stand for this and are going to leave the state and those teachers that remain will "teach" to the test so that they can get paid. This is not why I got into educaiton. I wonder what would happen if PARENT salaries were tied to their child's progress in school. Attendance problems would be gone and I'll bet parents would actually contact the teachers when a conference is requested.

Posted by: Lisa35 | March 26, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

phoss1:

In many districts teachers WILL be evaluated on the basis of one or two tests. And although there are tests being developed that are designed to show patterns over time, experts agree that these tests are still not sophisticated enough to evaluate the performance of the classroom teacher.

There are tests that are specifically designed to measure the achievement of a child during the course of a school year, but these tests must be administered individually in the fall and then again in the spring. They are expensive to use.

Most educators know this but the public does not. That's why it's time for these issues to be presented in courts of law.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | March 26, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Not one of our media outlets are covering the thousands of protesters in Tallahassee. Maybe someone that is up there can video something and put it on YouTube so we can see.

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | March 26, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

This plan to improve educational system is nothing short of a witch hunt, this time the witches are teachers. They want the education in this country to be as good as in other industrialized countries, then they should take a look at those countries. Other industrialized countries don't have a teacher performance pay system, but they do have adequate compensation for their teachers, with 12-month salaries, benefits, as well as authority in the class, respect in the society, rigorous curriculum, and the right to deliver coherent instruction as opposed to teaching to multiple-choice tests. The goverment should stop treating true American heroes -teachers -like scapegoats. They are sending a wrong message to the students and parents who should also take the responsibility for their education. Where else in the world students can vandalized school property, curse at teachers, fight in the classrooms, have food fights in the cafeteria, come to class without any intention to learn,bring weapons to school, physically attack teachers or other students, etc. without any serious consequences? Where else in the world teachera are afraid to turn their backs to the class for fear of a heavy textbook hitting their heads? Rid the schools of all the violent and disruptive students or make them respect the rules of students conduct, otherwise, they can't be in the public school. Learning is not taking place when a teacher is focused on managing the discipline of 30-35 students in the classroom, half of them may be disruptive, have various learning disabilities, diagnosed with being emotionally disturbed, etc, or simply don't want to learn.
Our teachers receive ridiculous salaries compared to other professionals. On an average week I work at least 80 hours, only half of which are paid. A doctor's salary doesn't depend on the outcome of the patient's illness. A surgeon will charge the insurance and get paid even if the patient dies, as long he did everything right. We, teachers, do everything right every day, only the results may vary depending on who you teach.

Posted by: smarterthanlegislators | March 26, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

I think Linda raises excellent points.

I am a parent not a teacher but I work in an environment where I am judged 80% on how my team performs and 20% subjectively. If my team is not successful, then I am not successful. We have hard goals and work in a business where we compete daily to win deals. There is no tenure, no projection for having been with the company for 36 years, no pension like educators get etc.

I do want tenure eliminated as it is today - it should not be a job protection tool but a lawsuit protection. I do believe teachers should be paid for their experience and results of their students. But I also believe teachers should be involved in evaluating each other and hold the teacher of the kids the year prior and before that etc accountable for sending them kids that have mastered the previous year's subjects rather than just passing a student to get them out of the classroom.

I believe the principals, administrators, etc should be evaluated for the success of their teachers, the principals, the district, etc. Somehow or another this all needs to be tied together so EVERYONE in the system is working together to do the best they possibly can for each child.

I have no clue how to bring the parents in the picture. Maybe when teachers start holding kids back that will help. Maybe when teachers demand the type of assessment Linda mentioned at the start and end of the year to see how students are performing and then doing what is right for that child.

I believe teachers have an incredible opportunity to use your voice for the positive to really change education and do what is finally right for the kids. The factory model you work in today is long past dead...it needs to be buried and started a new. I believe you have the answers.

Reacting as negatively as you are to this legislation as bad as it may be (I have no opinion) does not help. If you want to be viewed as professionals then use your voice in a professional manner and come together in town hall meetings, with your parents, with whomever you can get to listen and put your proposals out their for truly improving education in government schools...start doing it and demonstrating it works...

I believe you can do this...the question is will you? Do you know how? I honestly don't know if you (as a profession) do...please prove me wrong...our kids need excellent teachers...

Best of luck...

Posted by: knoxelcomcastnet | March 27, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

I teach in Florida and I wish I was allowed to hold kids back. Unfortunately that decision on that comes down to the administrators who very often say, "He's already at the upper end of the age bracket for this age group" or "she's much too big and mature (in size)to be retained". Then those kids get moved on.

Florida is a joke. I love teaching but I'm hating my "job" with each passing day. Believe me, if this thing passes any student that refuses to cooperate with me and behave in my class will be sent to the office and written up. It may affect my evaluation but it will help those good kids make bigger gains.

I am teacher, Florida's scapegoat for all that is wrong in the state and society.

Posted by: lillapoyka | March 27, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

knoxelcomcastnet:
It is obvious that you do not teach, Teachers are the last to be solicited for ANY input into what might be best for the student. We have absolutely no say any longer about any student who is placed in our classrooms. Remember that it's compulsory education until a child is 16, and unfortunately, many parents view us as a child care facility. The standard response by administration to teachers who raise objections to the way things are run is to load their classes with the worst of the worst students, take away their classrooms which means they must move from one classroom to another to teach their next class, and finally to fix their daily schedule so that is the most inconvenient it can be. Is it any wonder that teachers have embraced venues such as this one? There is protection in anonymity, and we can only hope that people outside of education will begin to have their eyes opened.
I am a dedicated teacher who dearly loves teaching. But I'd be hard-pressed to tell you when I've had more than two days in a row where I haven't had to stop a lesson because of one or two students who are bent on disrupting the entire class, where I've been able to start a class on time because every student was ready with book, paper, and pencil, or where I didn't have to stop my lesson repeatedly to tell different students throughout the period to please get their heads up and that it's hard to read along when their eyes are closed. No -- it's not the majority of my students who behave this way in class, but it only takes 1 or 2 to disrupt instruction for the entire class. So why don't I have those students removed you ask? Well, after I've called home and explored other interventions, I might then be inclined to write a referral. Then, at the end of the year, I find that my yearly evaluation is questioning my ability as a teacher because I've written too many referrals.
This is just a snippet into the lives of teachers, but perhaps you will see why we are so scared, angry, and frustrated at having our livelihoods held captive by just a few students who have little to no desire to succeed, who are attending merely to be able to keep their driver's licenses, and who understand that their teacher has no authority to make them do a single thing if they choose no to.
Recently, I read an analogy of teaching as a 3-legged stool -- the teacher, the parent, and the child. This legislation asks me to balance this stool on one leg and threatens my job security if I'm not good enough at keeping the stool upright. It is patently unfair, and unfortunately, since no one with any power or influence to stop this terrible bill is listening to us, it will pass.

Posted by: justathought6 | March 27, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I have a Ph.D. in leadership and management with a focus on educational social justice. Thanks for giving me the material for my next case analysis, Obama, of the dangers in supporting charasmatic leaders, like yourself as nothing other than outright LIARS who talk a good talk but DO NOT and CAN NOT WALK THE TALK. I wondered about you...proof is now in. You DONT CARE! You lied to the American People about creating a socially just country. WHAT A JOKE. No matter how you cut Senate Bill 6, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer and more ignorant. I suppose next you will cut Title 1 money as I can predict that if this bill passes the house, more Title 1 monies will be necessary because the number of Floridians who fall into Low SES categories will increase. Sadly, many of these may become your best and brightest teachers. SICK! Bill should be renamed and be called, SENATE BILL SICK! Again, there are no quick fixes to the problems and just like FCAT, curriculum and leadership standards, these are monitoring systems...NOT SOLUTIONS TO INCREASING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT! Next time you get a flat tire, why don't you try and replace it with the air guage in your glove box. See how that works out for ya.
FCAT assessments and AYP were NEVER intended to be used to measure teacher quality. Apples and oranges my friend. Do you know what extraneous variables are, Obama. Those would be those factors from enviornmental sources affecting student achievement of which NO ONE HAS CONTROL AT THIS POINT IN TIME. Let me make it easier for ARNE to catch on. IF CRACK HEAD Mommy's and Daddy's don't feed their kid for weeks and the kid falls asleep during the FCAT, we are going to fire the teacher??? ARE YOU KIDDING?
Maybe this you and Arne will GET? Let's say a teacher in Florida gets her new fourth grade class list, oddly, the most predominant last name she sees on this lest is "BUSH". Jeb, Neil, George, ...now, are you really thinking of holding her accountable for their scores????(genes...extraneous variable).? What are you mad at an old teaacher or something You can't make a mountain out of a molehill. You can HALP THESE BOYS but their combined knowledge and energy would disallow their ability to pass the FCAT...just a matter of faulty genes in this case. C'mon think about the lunacy of this bill. We cannot let Fl be the first of many to be governmentally stupified and ripped off!

Posted by: sikacoruptpoltikn | March 27, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Of course Duncan is saying nothing. Everything Florida is doing is exactly what Duncan wants all states to do. Just watch, he's going to cut FL a big fat RttT check.

Posted by: dz159 | March 27, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I am a former school board member of a large urban school district and very familiar with Florida politics. The well-tuned rhetoric. The sound bites. The ramming through of legislation that resonates with the majority of voters and business leaders who do not have children in public schools.

This is one more pillar in recreating our public school system on “free market principles,” (charter schools, private management companies, pay for performance, vouchers; Look out---vouchers are next.) While good business practices are beneficial to school district operations, public education is NOT the same as business. Business chooses its markets, its customers, its raw materials, etc. Public schools teach ALL children.

So what happens as this "public school market" deepens? Since there is NOT capacity or expertise (or maybe even desire) in the charter/private market to teach ALL children, there will remain the targeted, embattled traditional schools, operating on an uneven playing field to compete for the “best” students and “best” educators and operating under draconian measures like this bill, while serving heavier and heavier concentrations of children who are the hardest to teach.

If we don't challenge this trend, expose these truths, and demand policies, funding structures and support to ensure that ALL students, ALL educators, ALL schools succeed, we just may see a new era of "segregated" schools, primarily in our urban school districts.

Anne Geiger

Posted by: AWCG | March 27, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I want you to check to see if you can find any connection, and monetary gains, of these tests, both current and in the future, between Jeb Bush and any relative or friends.

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | March 27, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse


Hey veteranteacher1,
The following module, http://www.ignitelearning.com/curriculum/media/095_t13m02_IN03rev3.swf, is an example of one module from an entire program called Ignite Learning, later mobile tech package called COWS was developed and marketed by Neil Bush
came out just as the FCAT did, how ironic!!! Clearly, Bush and friends knew what was to be on the FCAT. FYI, university faculty were not allowed to know content of FCAT or even format...to help prepare admins and teachers to prepare students, but Bush did? Smells to me a bit like corruption?

Posted by: sikacoruptpoltikn | March 27, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

They don't only want to pay teachers based on student's performance but the way it is now in palm beach school district, teachers have to buy paper to make copies for students, or ask parents for donations, there is no toilet paper in student's bathroom, neither in teacher's bathroom, so some teachers have to buy even toilet paper. This is ridiculus, and the budget for Palm Beach county is 3.3 billion dollars. Let's stop blaming teachers for lack of money, for low performance for everything legislators and burocrats do wrong. I want also to add, that florida has one of the highest unemployment rate, specially south florida, and one of the highest foreclosure rate, so students don't have a house to live, nor food to eat , and they want to blame teachers because students are not performing well in the classroom?
Don't tell me that insurance companies don't pay a doctor because the patient died, or a lawyer because he lost the case? or legislators for making nonsense law?

Posted by: siritilent | March 27, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

William Allin is quoted as saying "Education is not the answer to the question. Education is the means to answer all questions." A nimble mind is a truly terrible thing to waste but the state of Florida is actively engaged in doing just that on a statewide scale. Training our students, our future, in the fine art of passing FCAT (arguably one of the highest stakes testing systems in this nation) while neglecting the finer points of abstract thinking and problem solving. Just ask our Florida legislators because they know everything there is to know about education. Their strategy - let's eliminate experimentation, hands on learning, open and stuimulating discussion within the classroom between peers and the teacher - and spend all of our money and all of our time on FCAT. It doesn't matter that our kids are suffering the consequences because our legislature has succeeded in turning the ship around and is too busy patting itself on the back. Never fear, progress is being made, dear constituent. Who are you going to believe: me, you senator, or your lying eyes? Truth be know that the guys calling the shots and making the rules down here in the Sunshine State know about as much about actual education as I do about rocket science which isn't much. Secretary Duncan should be putting his ear to the ground. If the federal reformation of NCLB looks anything like what the Florida legislature is doing right now (and it sure is starting to look that way), it too will only intensify an already horrible circumstance and drive more qualified people out of public education. Not to mention force more parents to chose between public school they can't afford or home schooling. SOMEBODY WAKE UP! We need reasonable solutions not cut throat consequences. No matter what, it is a terrible idea for both the kids and the teachers to tie teacher pay to student performance on one test given over a matter of a couple of days of the year.

Posted by: ChildrenCount | March 27, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Is there a lawyer out there that can answer this question? If we are guaranteed under our state constitution to have a bargaining unit to negotiate with the local school district for our salary schedule, and the guidelines for determining our retirement, doesn't it take a constitutional amendment not a state law to change that? Is this whole thing unconstitutional? Is this a tactic to scare veteran teachers to retire in droves, knowing it is going to get thrown out?

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | March 27, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

There so far has not been one piece of evidence to prove that pay for performance actually increases student learning long term, which makes this one big experiment (fiasco) in the making. There is however enough evidence over the years to prove it doesn't. (see link) http://www.fairtest.org/fairtest-critical-comments-us-education-department

I feel as if Obama betrayed educators. This bill is about the privatization of education and money, and nothing else.

Posted by: brabham1 | March 27, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

You can hear it in the comments of the teachers from Florida. Their utter frustration with the absurdity, the insanity of what they see around them.

A US soldier or two, away from the harrowing places they have been sent to secure oil, given time to consider, has probably wondered why their government has contracted with Blackwater now Xe-type mercenaries at ten times the price to pull duties once assigned to them. It is completely absurd on its face. The product of a hidden agenda is always absurdity. Globalization, which seeks privatization of all things, is that agenda.

Teachers across this country have come to live everyday with this absurdity. Incessant testing with no relation to the real world, the mindless collection of trivia classified as data, forcing a "business model" like Enron or Lehman Brothers or General Motors on the public schools, driving the arts and the social sciences out of the curriculum, and watching every Chancellor, Superintendent, Commissioner, and Secretary of Education promote charter schools over their own public schools at every turn. Absurd! But again the product of a hidden agenda is always absurdity.

Because we are bombarded with it by the corporate media, there is the temptation to believe the global economy will enjoy a "recovery" and the US will visit even greater heights of material prosperity. This is a delusion that is being foisted on the American people. It's part of a scam. There is no rational reason for this system to be revived and there are oligarchs, and people at Goldman Sachs, and people in the US government and military that know this. They have left behind some functionaries in the public schools, "dead-enders" like Michelle Rhee in Washington D.C. and Joel Klein in NYC to soldier on with the corporate catechism. They have not bothered to demobilize the cults created to undermine the public schools; Teach For America, Green Dot and KIPP charter schools, but the true believers and their cults are no longer a credible threat.

The new danger appears in the rise of the seamless melding of the corporation and the state in the US. The corporate-state was certified as constitutional by the US Supreme Court in its recent decision on corporate campaign financing. The new reality is reflected in the unprecedented amount of money Secretary of Education Arne Duncan suddenly has at his disposal to undermine the public schools. Duncan has put the 50 states in a competition he calls the Race To The Top, to become the most effective at destroying public education and advancing the charter school movement. Duncan will spread over $4-billion among the "winning" states. The denial of funds is expected to finish off public education in the "losing" states.

Posted by: natturner | March 27, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Comments from Florida teachers to Governor Charlie Crist:

Charlie, I've been with you until you supported the teacher bill. I know you'll never acknowledge this post, but I have to express my thoughts. My daughter literally risks her life at the middle school where she tries to teach! She spends most of her day breaking up fights! She'd love to teach! She got punched in the throat last week by a seventh grader... She gives hours of her own time and $ for the kids. How is this bill fair to teachers like her? She's been teacher of the year, got her masters, what more can she give? Now you'd take her tenure? Think about what you are doing!

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | March 27, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Another comment:

Please veto this education bill. I teach level 1 and 2 students at a Title I school - there is no way that I would ever qualify for any pay beyond the $20,000. How is someone supposed to live on $20,000? We are doing the very best we can - most of my kids spend more time in alternative school or juvenile detention than in my classroom and yet I ... STILL CARE ABOUT THEIR SUCCESS. Tying my salary into their scores on one test (or a couple of tests) will only make me bitter. According to my DATA (using data to drive instruction), I am a High Performing teacher, but I cannot and will not remain in a profession where I cannot survive and make my monthly bills.

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | March 27, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

President Obama, the silence from the White House is deafening. We supported you! Is this what you want for education in America? First Florida, who is next?

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | March 27, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

TC Faculty Question Education Secretary's Vision
Published: 1/11/2010


SEE:
Published as a letter to the editor in the January 6, 2010 edition of Edweek



Posted by: sikacoruptpoltikn | March 28, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Latest from Florida:

teacher quote: "I've already had a kid say, "I heard that now our test scores determine your salary." And a bad kid in my class' face lit up. I snapped, "Not yet!"

BREAKING NEWS: NOT GOING STRAIGHT TO THE FLOOR. I checked on the brill this morning and it has now been referred to the "Education Policy Council" so it looks like the PreK-12 committee was a subcommittee. The link to their home page. There are 11 Republicans and 5 Democrats on this council. The meeting date is April 5. ...How did it get moved to that committee on 9:12 am on a Sunday?

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | March 28, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

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