Hey, Teachers’ Unions, Let’s Get This One Right – No Early Presidential Endorsements & Lots of Membership Engagement


Let’s not mince words.

The last Presidential election was a cluster.

And we were at least partially to blame for it.

The Democratic primary process was a mess, the media gave free airtime to the most regressive candidate, and our national teachers unions – the National 
Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – endorsed a Democratic challenger too early and without getting membership support first.

This time we have a chance to get it right.

Edu-blogger Peter Greene spoke my feelings when he took to Twitter:

“Just so we’re clear, and so we don’t screw it up again—- NEA and AFT, please wait at least a couple more weeks before endorsing a Democratic Presidential candidate for 2020.”


He’s being snarky.

No one would endorse two years before people actually enter a voting booth.

But fairness. Evenhandedness. Moderation.

Let’s be honest. That didn’t happen in 2015.

So let’s…

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Denver Teachers End Strike; Oakland Teachers Likely to Strike Next

Diane Ravitch's blog

Denver teachers ended their strike and settled with the district for a substantial pay raise, CNN reports:

“Denver educators have been promised pay raises as part of a tentative deal they reached with their school district after three days on strike.

“Under the tentative agreement between Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, educators would see between 7% and 11% increases to their base salaries and a 20-step salary schedule, the union said in a statement Thursday.
“Teachers went on strike to demand higher, stable salaries, because the district uses unpredictable bonuses to compensate for low base pay.
“They also hoped higher salaries would keep more educators from leaving the city, where the cost of living has skyrocketed in recent years, one teacher told CNN.
The agreement would also put an end to “exorbitant five-figure bonuses” for senior administrators, the union’s statement said.
“This agreement is a…

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Are Charter Schools Losing their Cachet? Is the Narrative Shifting?


There is a swell of reaction against “corporate school reform.” It can’t be called a tsunami, but the wave is significant enough that people are paying attention.  Thanks to a year of strikes by public schoolteachers, for example, people seem suddenly more aware that the expansion of charter schools has left urban school districts with all sorts of collateral damage.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss noted: “This country is nearly 30 years into an experiment with charter schools, which are publicly financed but privately operated, sometimes by for-profit companies. Supporters first described charters as competitive vehicles to push traditional public schools to reform. Over time, that narrative changed and charters were wrapped into the zeitgeist of ‘choice’ for families whose children wanted alternatives to troubled district schools.”

Strauss continues: “Today, about 6 percent of America’s schoolchildren attend charter schools, with 44 states plus the District…

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Teach for America Features Alumni Who Overwhelmingly Exit the Classroom


On its website, teacher-temp org, Teach for America (TFA), states that “many” of its alumni (those who complete two years in the classroom) “continue teaching”:

Teach For America recruits outstanding and diverse leaders to become TFA “corps members.” Corps members commit to teaching for two years in a low-income community, where they’re employed by local schools and confront both the challenges and joys of expanding opportunities for kids.

After two years, they become part of the TFA alumni network. Informed and inspired by their students, many continue teaching; others pursue other leadership roles in schools and school systems or launch careers in other fields that shape educational access and opportunity.

The 2019 version of TFA’s “many stay in the classroom” statement has been toned down over the years, ostensibly to deflect attention from the fact that “many” is not most, which means that employing TFAers leads to endless teacher churn…

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Teaching at MetWest (Part 2)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

A 27 year veteran of teaching in the Oakland Unified District (OUSD), Shannon Carey greets me at the door when I arrive at 8:30 on Friday, February 1st. She is wearing a UC Berkeley shirt (teachers that day wore clothes that advertised where they attended college) over jeans and dark ankle boots. The classroom furniture is arranged in a horseshoe with tables seating two tenth graders each facing one another across the open space in the middle of the horseshoe. There are two large couches in rear of room. The walls of the large classroom hold whiteboards in the front of the room with nearby easels showing assignments and homework.  Posters adorn other walls.



The schedule for this period is listed on the front white board:

Friday, February 1, 2019

I can reflect deeply on my strengths and weaknesses [Shannon mentions later in the lesson that this is the objective…

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Peter Greene Tries to Understand the Shallow Mind of Donald Trump Jr.

Peter, you are assuming facts, not in evidence. You are assuming little donny has a brain. I would like to contest that fact.

Diane Ravitch's blog

At a recent rally in Texas, Donald Trump Jr. lashed out at teachers as “losers” because, he said, they want to indoctrinate their students into socialism.

Did Trump Jr. ever meet a teacher? If he had teachers, did they try to make him a socialist? Oh, yes, he went to the Hill School, where tuition is $50,000 a year. Probably no socialist indoctrination there.

Peter Greene tries through parody to describe a day in the life of a socialist indoctrinator, who just can’t seem to find the time to get mugh indoctrination into the day.

Trump Jr. must have embarrassed his teachers with his public display of ignorance and contempt for teachers.

i don’t know about you, but whenever I think of him, I think of the pictures of him as a big-game hunter, smiling alongside the corpses of the animals he slaughtered. Google his name and big-game hunter. He…

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We’ll Have to Reduce Test-and-Punish. Talking about Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough


Silly me!  I didn’t realize until a couple of weeks ago that SEL is a thing.  SEL is a new term in educational circles: Social Emotional Learning.  I heard Linda Darling-Hammond—Stanford University emeritus professor, CEO of the Learning Policy Institute, and chair of an Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development—present the work of the commission, and then I started reading more about Social Emotional Learning (SEL).

It would appear that many of the educational academics promoting SEL are doing so as an effort to shift our schools’ focus away from the incessant drilling on basic language arts and math that has been driven by the high-stakes testing embedded in the 2002 No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  NCLB and Race to the Top, that compounded NCLB’s punitive grasp on our public schools, have created fear-driven pressure to raise scores at any cost. The stakes are high:…

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The Difficulty of Cleaning Arne Duncan’s Awful Policies Out of the Laws of 50 States


Sometimes I find myself considering how our society arrived in 2019 at what striking schoolteachers this year have been demonstrating is an existential crisis for our system of public education.

Partly, of course, Betsy DeVos, our current Education Secretary, and all her friends including the Koch brothers have been working for years to substitute privatized, marketplace school choice for what many of us prize as our universal system of public schools. The idea of public education is a network of schools in every American community, schools that are publicly owned, regulated by law, and operated by locally elected school boards. Our society’s promise, an ideal we have increasingly realized through a history of making the dream accessible to more and more children, is that the public schools will meet all children’s needs and protect their rights.  Supreme Court cases and civil rights laws have expanded protection for children of all…

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Denver Strike: Teachers Protest Low Pay and “Corporate Reform” Innovations that Didn’t Work


The Denver Classroom Teachers Association went on strike yesterday against the Denver Public Schools over low pay and what has become a failed experiment in merit pay bonuses.  Schoolteachers want the district to scrap its ProComp incentive pay system, which was put in place in 2006 when teachers agreed to the plan—a fixture of then-Superintendent Michael Bennet’s corporate school reformer agenda.  Bennet now a U.S. Senator, served as Denver’s school-reformer superintendent from 2005 until 2009. He was the mayor’s chief of staff and formerly an investment banker who lacked any experience in education.

Denver’s teachers’ strike is the latest in a yearlong wave of walkouts by teachers—a state-by-state cry for help from a profession of hard-working, dedicated public servants disgusted with despicable working conditions, lack of desperately needed services for their students, and insultingly low pay. This time, however, an added issue is a twelve-year experiment with corporate reformer innovation…

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School Reform in the U.S.: Naivete and Fatalism

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

If naivete is a danger, so is fatalism.”*

The history of school reform has been a back-and-forth journey between hyperactive innocence and passive resignation. I will explain this and give examples shortly but I want to ask one question and then make one fact clear before I do.

Why has school reform occurred again and again? One would think that reformers who have defined the educational and social problems to be solved, planned solutions to those problems, and adopted remedies would be satisfied and walked away confident that the problems would disappear. Not so. Turns out that the social and educational problems reformers, generation after generation, aim to solve hang around after well-intentioned problem-solvers exit. Then another generation of wannabe reformers enter stage right or stage left, do their thing and float off the stage (see here, here, and here).

The fact is…

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