Sep 25, 2010

Teacher Bashing

Did you watch Oprah on 9/20/10?

"Microsoft founder Bill Gates, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and acclaimed director Davis Guggenheim joined daytime host Oprah Winfrey in her Chicago studio Monday for the first in a two-part series on fixing our nation's failing public schools. "

The way to "fix" schools, according to these so-called experts, is to get rid of tenured teachers. The teachers are ineffective, they say. Let's get rid of the ones who can't bring up test scores. Let's get rid of tenure because it's impossible to get rid of ineffective teachers.

H'mmm. The problem with their "cure" is two-fold. They're defining effectiveness by test scores, which have little or nothing to do with actual learning. Second, tenure protects teachers from the whims of administrators like Rhee, who haven't been in some of the classrooms most of the "ineffective" teachers work, and it protects teachers from students who lie. Which is just about all of them.

The only people who got rich on NCLB are the consultants and testmakers. The only people hurting under NCLB are the kids and teachers. Now they want to get rid of teachers? And replace them with what? Inexperienced, untenured teachers who will last a year or two before they quit in despair? Oh, that'll raise your test scores. Not.

The way I see it, the whole media parade of teacher-bashers is aiming for one goal: union busting. They want to decimate the unions & tenure, so they can pay teachers less. Corporate schools hire nonunion, inexperienced (cheap) teachers, make big corporate profits for the shareholders of the corporate school.

Um, like the Walton family, the Gates Foundation, maybe? Surprised? I didn't think so.

What teachers helped YOU with actual learning, and which of them will you thank today?

Sep 15, 2010


תודה Toda = Hebrew for Thank You.

Woke up in a warm bed, with a loving husband, in a climate-controlled house. I have children & pets who think I'm great, most of the time. ;-)

I have a car that runs, food in the fridge, a job, decent health, enough money to pay the bills.

Clean water arrives at the turn of the faucet. My house is as clean as I decide it should be. My life is not in imminent danger by human enemies or natural means. I'm humbled by the opportunities I have been given, not shared by the rest of the world.

Toda = Thank you.

I am grateful to God for my many blessings.

For what are you grateful toda-y?

Sep 9, 2010

Would You Reapply For Your Own Job?

Peggy Castellano wrote an article about Freemont HS in South Central L.A. where the "suits" are so desperate for a sound byte that explains the students' low test scores, that they're firing all the teachers and making them reapply for their own job. This will supposedly weed out the ineffective teachers. Oh really?

I tutor math. I can work with a child in junior high for less than an hour to be able to tell you in which grade the ball was dropped. Math troubles start well before high school. Math builds on what you learned the year before. For example, if you failed to learn times tables in 3rd grade, you won't understand division in 4th. If you don't recognize multiplication factors, you won't grasp GCF, Greatest Common Factor, in 5th. If you don't learn multiples (again, the times tables) you won't recognize LCM, Least Common Multiple, in 6th.

If high schoolers are failing math, don't blame the high school teacher. He has to teach the state-mandated curriculum. He does not have the hours in a day to start at times tables, where the ball may have been dropped, and work up to Algebra I. That all should have been done in lower grades. Students in Algebra should be READY for Algebra.

LAUSD is wrong to think that firings will solve the problem. Unless the only problem they're really trying to solve is how to save the suits' jobs.

With whom will you practice times tables today?

Sep 5, 2010

Keeping Secrets

I've told my children from the time they were toddlers/preschoolers, "We don't keep secrets. If anyone ever says 'Don't tell your mom; it's a secret,' the first thing you do is tell Mom, because we don't keep secrets."

We do, however, keep surprises: a birthday surprise, a Christmas surprise, a surprise party.

Kids know what a surprise is. Giving them two different words helps them make the mental distinction on when they should tell, and when they should not.

What safety lessons are you teaching your child today?