Archive

Archive for April, 2012

Commissioner King Speaks

Finally, he’s gone on record explaining his position on why even chronically-absent students should be counted on Buffalo teachers’ evaluations. You can find the article here.

I genuinely like Dr. King. He is sincere and in this for the kinds.

But he’s being bossed around by Governor Cuomo.

This is why the commissioner broke his silence today. It’s a coordinated effort from the governor’s office to ram through his vision of union-free education.

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Cuomo’s Education Commission

The commission, announced earlier today, is described here.

This announcement is timed right after Pineapplegate, and gives the governor the opportunity to implement an end run around his loss in the teacher evaluation lawsuit to NYSUT.

First, he withheld funding. Now, he’s implementing an aggressive strategy to undermine public education funding in New York.

The commission is going to find that education dollars are wasted.

The commission is going to find that ineffective teaches are protected.

The commission will recommend remedies that make Wisconsin’s and New Jersey’s attacks on teacher unions look meek and mild.

This is the next step in union busting.

Categories: Politics Tags: , ,

Resurrection Gospel

In verses 1-12, Paul lists the many people that saw Jesus after his resurrection.

Outline of 1 Corinthians 15

  1. Jesus’ Resurrection
  2. Human Resurrection
Categories: 1 corinthians, outline

Red Background

Our background here at Schooleration.com is red because education is under attack.

Until this unhealthy emphasis on testing eases up, we will continue to stay red.

When kids are throwing up because they’re so nervous about their tests, we’re red.

When teachers are pressured to get test scores up, no matter the price, we’re red.

Cuomo, King, Pearson, and the Rotten Pineapple: An American Parable of Power

'Pineapple Wallpaper' photo (c) 2006, Ron Mader - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
On this year’s 8th grade English Language Arts (ELA) New Youk State exam, there was a story about a pineapple.

That’s all I knew before reading the papers, because teachers are prohibited from discussing test items:

“To minimize the number of testing irregularities, principals should conduct a review of the test administration procedures prior to each test administration with all faculty and staff that will be involved in the test administration and scoring. In addition, to preserve the integrity of the test materials, advise all staff that they are not to discuss test questions or other specific test content with each other, with others online via e-mail or listserv, or through any other electronic means.” [Accessed 4/21/2012, on page 5 of the English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests School Administrator’s Manual 2012]

In other words, Pearson and the Department of Education collaborated to ensure that this pineapple story, and other controversial questions like it, would never see the light of day. Not only that, teachers were directed not to discuss the questions with each other, even casually.

Anyone who has ever taught or coached or done other forms of instruction knows that one of the best ways to become a better facilitator is to debrief on student responses to particular tasks and test items. But with secret test questions, engaging in this kind of professional development is criminalized!

Why would New York State criminalize professional development?

On March 20, 2012, Dr. John King announced that he was hiring “Tina Sciocchetti as Executive Director of Test Security and Educator Integrity.” [Accessed 4/21/2012 from the SED web site here.] Further down in this memo, we read, “In her new role, Sciocchetti will also be responsible for overseeing teacher and administrator discipline, including the Department’s enforcement of moral character regulatory provisions that are applied when certified educators are found to have engaged in misconduct, ranging from test integrity violations to inappropriate relationships with students” (emphasis added).

In other words, the person who leaked this exam to the press is being investigated right now and–without whistleblower protection–is in danger of losing his or her job.

This makes me more wary than ever about publicizing teacher results in newspapers and online for everyone to see and interpret. If these are the kinds of questions my students are expected to answer, how can I be confident that Pearson and the NYS Department of Education will be able to draw valid conclusions about my effectiveness as a teacher?

As I prepared to criticize Governor Cuomo for supporting the publication of teacher results in newspapers and online as recently as last month, I was shocked to learn that even he has changed his perspective on this issue.

Cuomo said, “I believe in the case of teachers, the parents’ right to know outweighs the teachers’ right to privacy,” the governor said. “After that, it’s less clear to me. And that’s why I think it warrants conversation.” He’s changed his view that teacher evaluations must be available for anyone and everyone to review and interpret. Now, he’s hedging his bets and leaving open the possibilty that he might be willing to give parents limited access to this data instead.

Anyone who has dealt with Governor Cuomo knows how shocking it is to hear him agree to a “conversation” about anything. He is an effective and ruthless negotiator, and he knows how to get his way.

Why would Cuomo, Arne Duncan, and Bill Gates all agree that it may not be best to make all teacher evaluations public?

Maybe it’s just that they’ve developed a compassionate, collective conscience. Maybe they can’t stomach the abuse leveled at teachers in LA and New York City after test scores were published.

But when there are tens of millions of dollars at stake, maybe there’s something else going on.

David Abrams was the director of assessment in New York for many years. He was released abruptly after releasing an “unauthorized memo” describing longer tests a few months ago. But these longer tests, 90 minutes each, for three days each in math and ELA, are now reality.

Why would Mr. Abrams, long-time director of testing in New York, be forced to resign for telling the truth? I suspect that he has access to information that many, many people in power don’t want going public.

I believe the preponderance of the evidence indicates that something at the (pineapple) root of our No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top’s testing system is rotten. If we can figure out the real reason that David Abrams was driven out, we’ll be closer to uncovering the source of the spoilage.

Welcome to Schooleration

Schooleration is a place to discuss all things related to schooling and education.

In an ideal world, these would be the same thing.

However, that’s not today’s reality.

Let’s work to make it so:

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