I Don’t Wish to Wonder About THIS

Imagine having to write the following to the company you do contract work for  $100/month.

I am disappointed with _____ and the ‘brand’ it has attempted to represent. It is beyond my understanding how students are ‘passed’ through when clearly the minimum work requirements have not been met. I am unsure how this passes through an ‘audit’ although I guess by now all of you have figured out the system to make it work for you. This has been completely discouraging to me as clearly there are students who were previously ‘passed’ by _____ and possibly______ . I did not realize ‘giving students the best experience possible’ was actually code for make sure they pass no matter what. You may wish to be more forthright with future employees in this regard.
If you were wondering why education in America fails, it is exactly due to businesses such as________ which allow students in college and teachers with credentials to pass through a system where so little is actually expected. All they have to do is pay to play.
I had thought that_________ would be different as there seemed to be some vague understanding of what was going on.
Please contact me if you would like to know more in the form of an exit interview.

Imagine for a moment you were expected to ‘facilitate’ the online learning of 12-15 teachers with credentials in one of America’s largest school districts, who were supposed to be doing professional development.  Imagine the writing looked like the following examples (the first one is the THIRD attempt at writing a paper which was supposed to integrate thinking regarding the global achievement gap, teaching competencies, local education standards and the application of changing ones teaching practice in working with urban youth)…..

Tony Wagner lists critical thinking and problem solving as one aspect of his seven survival skills. These skills can help students succeed both in and out of the classroom. Students need to have the ability to ask the right questions, in simpler terms, know how to think. Educators can teach students skills that pertain to their academics but we are not able to teach them to how to ask questions. We are able to prompt them and help them use higher order thinking skills to obtain those questions. Ellen Kumata, a consultant to Fortune 200 companies, states, “The idea that a company’s senior leaders have all the answers and can solve problems by themselves has gone completely by the wayside…The person who’s close to the work has to have strong analytic skills. You have to be rigorous: test your assumptions, don’t take things at face value, don’t go in with preconceived ideas that you’re trying to prove”. Ms. Kumata’s statement in regards to companies can and should be implemented in our classrooms. Students need to be rigorous, challenge themselves, ask questions and learn ways to posses analytical skills. All these characteristics will help students

game of an education? Critical thinking and problem solving are important for the future because individuals need to know how to improve their work, products and/or services. Individuals need to think of ways to progress in life and that can be accomplished by asking the right questions. Who is this person you are quoting? Are they famous which means their name need not be used?A Dell senior executive said, “Yesterday’s answers won’t solve today’s problems”. Our students need to learn ways to solve every day problems and situations. They cannot look back in their notes and find answers to a new real life dilemma. It what will aid in the process? will definitely aid in the process, but new ideas and analytical skills need to be developed in order to figure out new answers. Our future needs to have young educated minds that are capable of reaching out, finding ways to progress, and leading our community successfully. They need to have eagerness to ask questions, think, and solve situations to help both their companies and themselves succeed.

In order for our students to grow up and use these problem solving and critical thinking skills, we need to start preparing them in school. It is important to develop these skills by keeping students engaged with new, proven methods of teaching. I never came across methods and ideas such as Wagner’s, but I’m willing to try methods that will change the behavior of my students to make them active learners. Engaging my students by having them ask questions, being critical thinkers and good problem solvers are some of Wagner’s skills that students will need to possess in the real world. It makes sense since those skills are highly important during school years as well. If students don’t have those skills, then students are not “thinking”. We need our students to work on their own, to use their own minds to solve and figure out ways to improve.

Critical thinking and problem solving skills . Students need to start working on this skill in early grades. our

With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global

economy” (CCSS, 2012).

One way of creating a self sufficient classroom environment is by providing my students with both problem solving and class discussion prompts. These prompts will force my students to think and solve on their own, rather than just listening to me recite information. Having these prompts visually available for my students may help in the thinking process. Students can use these prompts to challenge classmates intellectually, ask questions and elaborate on their critical thinking skills.

Implementing lesson plans that allow the students to employ their five senses is also important in developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. Students need to use their senses to learn and having our senses incorporated in a classroom environment, will lead to student success. I know from experience, that the classroom needs to smell fresh and that students are definitely affected by smell (tropical, chocolaty, etc.). If the lesson is able to have a tasting factor, it is important to provide that as well. Providing visuals is vital, for example children will see what the learning objective will be for the day, and they will need to generate questions they have on that topic. Students will eventually listen to a video or a clip that has some information that pertains to the lesson. Next, students will have turns discussing the clip and will ask questions to develop a better understanding of what was read. Finally, the class will work together to produce the answers to the lesson. Rather than providing immediate feedback, it is important that I am merely aiding the process, triggering their higher order thinking, and prompting them to come up with ideas. What will you do to trigger this higher order thinking? How would your principal observe you doing this task? I need my students to think about the quality of their answers and provide feedback to each other. During this process I can also help the students develop their decision making skills. For example, I will help my children consider the pros and cons of their answers, and urge them not to be afraid to make a wrong choice. I can help by asking them “How do you feel about your decision?” and “What would you do differently next time?”

In addition to the approaches I have already outlined, I would also like to

Even with extensive edits  and notes on the three submitted papers and asking student to please have a colleague review the work before submission, another instructor passed this assignment – this is the portion on providing a good experience. This student had been previously ‘passed’ by this same instructor.

I have yet to figure out how the following relates to the issue of the global achievement gap. I suppose I can guess and fill in the blanks.

In response to Eleanor Roosevelt
In this speech Roosevelt addresses the importance of protecting human rights across the globe. He sets the tone by going back to the French Revolution and citing the significance of the Rights of Man. He brings us to a more present body looking to protect human rights, the U.N. In doing this he lets the readers understand that in order to protect our human rights we must have a body/document that sets forth the precedent to the rest of the world. Roosevelt introduces two significant components of the Bill of Rights as it pertains to protecting human rights. The first component seeks to establish the ability for all humans no matter where their location, should be protected in order for individuals to live their lives peacefully. And, although at the time (historically) the second component was not finalized, it stated that countries would adhere to the convenant of protecting human rights. He, more importantly declares the basic human “…Basic human rights are simple and easily understood: freedom of speech and a free press; freedom of religion and worship; freedom of assembly and the right of petition; the right of men to be secure in their homes and free from unreasonable search and seizure and from arbitrary arrest and punishment”. In doing this he also explains that the process to a democracy that seeks to protect these rights is a slow and difficult process.

Different entry from a different section:

Reflect on the issue of global achievement gap.

The achievement gap is not a new concept to me. However, the way in which the achievement gap was presented in the first article it assumed that we could quickly allow our students to engage in the skills required to become part of the mainstream 21st century world. Instead it tied in more closely to Jeff Duncan’s point that no matter race or class, unless basic needs are met not many people can have access to “closing” the gap. Unless there are is also radical change to poverty, meeting the needs of the middle class, adequate housing, and healthcare many other things will come second to most families. Lack of resources at home is another factor that play a role in the achievement gap, which was not mentioned. An educator might be able to inspire hope to students, but at times that means more than access to problem solving or arriving at the most difficult question; it often means playing the role of a mentor or provider. Teachers at times must also guide families to resources that could aid them in providing more opportunities for their children.Socratic seminars are pretty effective in that by removing the “teacher” element, students are driven by their thoughts and the questions proposed by their teachers. It also enforces to students that in order for ideas to be born, one must place oneself in other people’s shoes; it teaches students to be active participants by being active listeners. Duncan, reminds us that boosting self esteem is a process and we can’t make it magically happen in a classroom by merely providing the opportunities, but must also ensure that all students in a classroom have a voice.

Or, in response to the same above content for a grad level course:

Field trips are a great way to expose the students to places and people they do not normally come in contact with. They can experience new cultures, ideas, and different ways that other people live their lives. I always felt that field trips were very eye opening experiences for me growing up as a kid. Anytime you can combine fun and education it is most beneficial for the students.

I did not copy in the editing on the top pieces nor the private e-mails I sent to students regarding the ‘lack of substance’ in their responses to questions posed and incorporating/synthesizing information

If this does not scare you, it should. This should horrify you. It should make you wonder who the hell is teaching your children and how the hell they received teaching credentials.  More than anything, it should make you realize Michelle Rhee is the pawn of all these for-profit, education minded institutions – whether for profit or not. Everyone can line up behind Michelle Rhee in stating how bad teachers are but no one has actually stated – don’t let these people into the system. Change the entrance to the system.

What is worse, the very people making the system have made it very ‘friendly’ so they can get traction in a saturated market where there really is nothing new under the sun.

The examples are endless. I know I am not the only person who runs across this  situation as I have friends who are professors at colleges (both coasts) – they are politely asked to figure out how to work with these students to help them ‘pass’ – whether it be Writing 101 or what should be graduate level work.

At this juncture, I am really past wishing to hear another parent ask for teachers to be ‘graded’ by how well their students do – it is clear to anyone with a few brain cells, these are NOT teachers who should be in the classroom. This is not a union thing – the union does not do the hiring, administration does the hiring. This is about obtaining great teachers out the door – how they do it in other countries where they look for the best graduates in each field.

As a teacher who remains active in the profession, tutors, interacts with teachers regularly, this is not unique to one set of teachers in one school district as the problem is too widespread.  As a professional who does a wide range of professional development across a few different areas, I expect to be challenged when I take professional development. I expect to ‘change’ in some way as I am developing. I am not done and never will be. I want to be challenged on how I think, analyze, process, discuss ideas, not on spelling, grammar or even knowing who I am talking about.

Please find out where, when, what  your child’s teacher does for professional development. Find out why they do professional development – the answer should NEVER be, “I have to in order to keep my credential”. A great teacher sees everything as professional development and looks to constantly improve; a mediocre teacher does the minimum to slide under the radar; a worthless teacher produces work which is not even appropriate from a high school senior.

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A Different Set Of Concerns-Strength of Convictions

http://blog.sfgate.com/sfmoms/2013/04/02/public-school-reformer-michelle-rhee-sends-child-to-private-school-should-we-care/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/02/justice/georgia-cheating-scandal/

While it is quite easy to exclaim NCLB testing caused teachers and administrators in Atlanta, GA to change answers in test booklets and Michelle Rhee sends one kid to private school yet claims to be a ‘public school mother’ and so forth, the real issue is becomes the following: Where the hell is your strength of conviction?

I don’t particularly care where Michelle Rhee educates her kids – she has already proven on numerous levels she does not come from either a place of heartfelt sincerity nor background in education. What I care about is she should have enough strength of conviction to her cause and  in everything she does to be honest, have integrity and own her statements. If Michelle Rhee has to hire some one to be her ‘publicist’, there is something wrong. She needs some one to ‘couch’ what she is saying in favorable terms so others will buy into her garbage.

Ditto for the teachers and administrators in Atlanta, GA. I don’t actually care whether or not these people lied – I am outraged they did it on the backs of children who deserve better. Each and every student affected by the cheating scandal was harmed in a much more dangerous manner than test scores – they were denied an education to actually raise up their scores. Not that I actually believe Georgia has anywhere near the best or most worthy spring testing of 50 states.   Had any of the 35 involved decided to put the same time and effort into say, after school literacy, the outcome may have been the same – higher test scores, for much different reasoning.

Each and every teacher  involved should be remorseful for putting wrong interests forward and not being professional enough and own enough poise to have walked out when asked to lie/cheat for students. Maturity and integrity is knowing when to WALK OUT and not accept being asked to do something wrong – for any reason.

Ask me, I know. I have walked out of jobs for lesser reasons.  It provides for great stories and laughter at dinner parties, most especially with colleagues who know who was involved.  At the end of the day, I have my name and reputation. If I go along with the crowd, when I believe differently for reasons of moral turpitude, I am the one who has demonstrated a lack of values – not the people who put me up to the challenge. I know better.  I have no problem telling an employer exactly what I think regarding outrageous behavior in the area of ethics.  Honesty is actually amazingly easy when you apply for another job and have to explain what you found ‘unsavory’ and why you CHOSE to leave.

Teachers should have confidence to WALK out before doing something so ridiculous.  I see the behavior over and over as teachers are under the mistaken belief they will never get another job (most especially if they have tenure) and so they must play the game – whether it is testing, poor lesson planning, involvement, etc. Knowing when you are exhausted and not able to best do what students need is also a sign of maturity and dignity.

In the case of Michelle Rhee, she should be embarrassed to have to pay some one with money from the ‘StudentsFirst’ bank account to craft her answers since she can not be honest. The money spent on a publicist should be spent on students.  In fact, all charter schools should not need a marketing department or publicity department to ‘demonstrate’ their greatness. The money for said departments should be spent on students – and learning.

Again, there has to be something wrong with a system which tells you it is about the students and yet feels not one iota of contempt for deceit – whether it involves money or not.

Who do the 35 people in Atlanta think they are to take money away from students – merely since it was so easy to lie/cheat, etc. on annual test scores – when everyone else could see right through it if you compared other assessments and grades?  I don’t even think the 35 should have been involved in education. I feel the same about Michelle Rhee who believes test scores are the answer for measuring success.

Many days I wish my so-called ‘education colleagues’ would grow spines and have  courage to speak out, walk out, do whatever it takes to set the system on notice, anything but embarrassing the profession.  It is actually okay to be the one who says, “NO, I won’t play the game.”   It is actually okay to know when to leave the practice of education………

What I observe is a bunch of people who do not even have the intelligence to discern making different choices so they run with the pack of imbeciles. At the end of the day, you are very much the company you CHOOSE to keep.

Throw on some kevlar as you get ready to teach to the common core.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/06/living/teachers-want-to-tell-parents/index.html

A close personal friend gave me this article under a truly hilarious pretense – she went back to look at the author after reading as she was pretty sure I wrote the article for  CNN.  Alas, I did not. I don’t know Ron Clark, don’t know of Ron Clark or his new book and in fact, generally do not read education pieces on CNN.  I felt complimented my friend thought I wrote this piece and at the same time, I am positive I ‘did’. It is the collective consciousness of any good teacher for the last 25-30 years.  It is the same thing we all say and the reasons indeed are why we leave/left education.

In no small part, a huge thank you should go out to anyone who was involved with bringing NCLB to life and Michelle Rhee as well as most charter school companies.  These people/groups helped those of us who ‘knew better’ to put on our walking shoes and leave. Those who remained, well, I often hear their complaints about the same issues, they are just to scared to leave the profession after so much effort and cost to get a credential. Ron Clark sounds like a wonderful man and surely his intentions are great. I can only hope he has staying power as there are many students who will benefit from him.

If anyone thought the past 20 years were challenging, Fall 2013 is going to make it all look easy peasy!  Taking parents from  M/C and T/F test scores to the actual task of  having their child write something compelling AND marshal evidence AND  think/reflect……well, get the kevlar ready teachers. I don’t think I envy a one of you.  Without parents on board, administrators are going to once again do what they always do when backed into a corner – blame it on teachers, take it out on teachers (ask them to ‘revise’ their grades as it were) and essentially kiss up to every parent they see.  Administrators, even those who once were teachers, do little to support teachers.

Teachers are in fact left in their classrooms, told what to do and how to execute it and most of all told to suck it up when the crazy (pretty much all) parents come to solve something for their children.  Teachers are expected to be everyone’s whipping boy/girl to make public education work. If it were not for unions, even limited unions, public education would not exist as anything more than a thought experiment.

Currently I do tutoring and work in ed tech doing a variety of things from soup to nuts, sponge to hose, etc. If a parent contacts me for tutoring and I find our personalities and world views do not mesh, I get to say, “I don’t think I would be the BEST tutor for your child” and walk away from the situation. It does not happen often, yet it does happen. Most of what I find as a tutor is a student who could benefit from some basic things – structure, note taking skills, proper math syntax, organized thinking or graphic organizers, better resources.  Usually after a few weeks to  a couple of months, the training wheels are off and the kid is soaring. I could not be happier if I tried.  Sometimes I find a new or very ‘experienced’ teacher who is intractable and the student suffers. I do everything I can to educate the parent, give them strength to ask for what should be done (and is really reasonable) at school and advocate.  I write notes, send copies of things.  Of the times I meet the teachers, I inevitably find the people mentioned by Ron Clark. The ones who will be walking out of the profession or those who should have and are now so bitter they do not teach well.

I attend IEP meetings and help parents get more than the minimum written on the IEP – the more specific and defined you can be, the more likely the chance of IEP being followed and incremental success. I educate parents on having another set of books at home,  how to parent conference, how to check in with teachers, what should be going on in a SPED classroom vs. a mainstream classroom and what mainstreaming looks like, feels like and how it ‘goes’.  I help parents in the vernacular of ‘teacher’ for the benefit of their child. Again, if parents do not demonstrate they are on board, I can leave. There is only so much I can do in this lifetime and parents need to work on ‘change’ as opposed to thinking all teachers need to change for their child.

There are students who need help with SAT/ACT studies, AP course work, etc. Not only have I worked with these students, I have found the number of students really able to do AP course work were students who got their game on before Grade 4 and mom and dad were not excuse makers.  Students who do not do well are those who are shocked by the amount of reading and work necessary for AP.  Students and their parents,  prepping for SAT/ACT end up learning  the sad facts regarding inference and analogy, grammar and algebraic reasoning are not something you can be taught in a cram course – it comes from reading, writing, discussing, thinking since forever. All I can offer them are strategies for how to take the test and think about it.  The time when parents would have done far more to help their child by enforcing SSR (silent sustained reading) at home, encouraged studying atop assigned homework, etc. was wasted and I can not come in and splash that information on their child – nor can Princeton or Kaplan Review. SAT/ACT prep works for students who made learning their priority, not blaming their teacher(s) when they did not succeed every time.

Change is incredibly difficult for parents as they believe they ‘know’ it all. They would never question a dentist, doctor, lawyer (even court appointed), Apple Technician at Apple Store…….yet questioning and blaming a teacher for any ‘less then perfect’ grades, etc. on behalf of their child MUST be the teachers fault as parents have been taught and shown how to scapegoat teachers (Michelle Rhee actually brought this to an art form). Teachers do more ‘change’ in a day then anyone other than flight traffic controllers and ER doctors.  Unfortunately, with all the change teachers do, parents are the ones who need to redouble their efforts the most.

I think next school year will be interesting. If nothing else, people such as Ron Clark will become ever more popular and revered for what they are saying – whether or not parents come to terms with reality. Thank goodness there are Ron Clark’s and hopefully I will be thankful there are parents who will read this and do those things necessary to change for their child’s benefit. It is a long road filled with cliffs, channels, hikes, bike rides, hang gliding, zip lining and all the rest of out doors metaphors.

Conundrum 6,875,248,312 – High test scores AND students not graduating???

http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/1-900-in-SF-class-of-14-may-not-graduate-4051222.php

Poor Jill Tucker at The San Francisco Chronicle.  She has been given the worst tasks – writing anything positive regarding education when the smoke screen and mirrors brought to us in California  via NCLB, The Bush Years, SDAIE requirements, charter schools, Proposition 13 and so forth are mind bendingly awful. These ‘fixes’ appear most awful when seen through the rear view mirror while  people such as Michelle Rhee are driving forward at 100 MPH and throwing  crap out the windows of said vehicle –  at teachers.

Apparently in all the positive accolades regarding test score improvement, some one some where was neglecting to look at the sign ahead regarding a CLIFF.    Admittedly there are problems such as those of Nina Collins which are unique and definitely different.  I can not imagine this is the story for the other 1,899 projected problem students.  How could so many students be missing units?  How could so many students be misdirected? Are the teachers going to be blamed/shamed again – for this?

None of the graduation requirements are new. In fact, these requirements have been around forever. What is new is parents and community members believing with their shallow little hearts and brains it has all been up to teachers. I am amazed the spin has not yet started for the blame game.

I really wonder if we had changed our focus just a bit from the prize of test scores to the reality of successful course completion, parents being held accountable, less drama surrounding how many charter schools can be propped up and reviling teachers if we would have made the ‘difference’ necessary for this article to never have been written.  It is about focus. When we allow charter schools and the slippery slopes of test score calculations to become our focus, we let other, blindingly obvious problems slip into the background.   No one could ever convince me they did not see this phenomenon coming – unless they were so busy following Michelle Rhee they simply lost their mind.

Teachers do not control the variables which bring about these types of conundrums – administrators control these issues. I hope people look up from what ever it is their head was buried in and recognize the problem – it is not test scores, rather, it is what we chose to focus and worship as the prize.

And so we keep on learning…..or do we?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/my-son-is-schizophrenic-the-reforms-that-i-worked-for-have-worsened-his-life/2012/10/15/87b74a98-eadd-11e1-b811-09036bcb182b_story_3.html

I have long been troubled by what the right, correct, accurate, thought out, proper, logical and so forth  answer may be about special education.  This is based on the fact my teaching credential was obtained in a non-traditional manner (BA in speech pathology/audiology) due to my undergrad studies.  On one hand I have a better than average understanding of learning disabilities and the possible underlying basis going into the credentialing program, learned a ton being a teacher and helping to write IEP’s/504’s and being a participant of the student study team, working closely with my special ed colleagues to mainstream students into the science lab. On the other side of all the great things written in the previous sentence, I was worn down and exhausted each day from putting in all  I had for my 5-10 special needs students in each class and noticing it was never enough as well as realizing my regular ed students were not getting as much as they deserved from me. Finding a balance on this razor blade edge was never easy and there were days it felt more like a razor blade than others.

The 1980s was the decade when many of the state’s large mental hospitals were emptied. After years of neglect, the hospitals’ programs and buildings were in decay. In my new legislative role, I jumped at the opportunity to move people out of “those places.” I initiated funding for community mental health and substance abuse treatment programs for adults, returned young people from institution-based “special school districts” to schools in their home towns and provided for care coordinators to help manage the transition of people back into the community.

Every year, one in every five children and one in every four adults has a diagnosable mental illness. A quarter of all mental illnesses are considered serious.

In the case of inner city schools, this number is amplified and it is these figures which are the 5-10 students per class can be found.After all was said and done, I wonder if indeed all of us who jumped onto the mainstreaming band wagon and least restrictive environments, etc. really were on the correct train. There are many disabilities which are organic in nature and can be overcome with some routine medical and therapeutic efforts. There are substantially more disabilities which have a mental health component and require more than my professional education and experience provided, in addition to the fact there has been a gross elimination of counselors, psychologists, speech pathologists, RSP and other professionals at every school.

……….But when you look just a little more closely, what you find is a young man with a sly smile, quick wit and an inquisitive mind who — when he’s healthy — bears a striking resemblance to the youthful Muhammad Ali…………Yet it’s the policies of my generation of policymakers that put that formerly adorable toddler — now a troubled 6-foot-5 adult — on the street. And unless something changes, the policies of today’s generation of policymakers will keep him there.

And then there were the recriminations from the very people who had hoped they were enacting the best, right, correct and well thought out ideas. These thoughts could have been written by anyone in elected government, it is not specific to Connecticut.

But we legislators in Connecticut and many other states made a series of critical misjudgments.

First, we didn’t understand how poorly prepared the public schools were to educate children with serious mental illnesses.

Second, we didn’t adequately fund community agencies to meet new demands for community mental health services — ultimately forcing our county jails to fill the void.

And third, we didn’t realize how important it would be to create collaborations among educators, primary-care clinicians, mental-health professionals, social-services providers, even members of the criminal justice system, to give people with serious mental illnesses a reasonable chance of living successfully in the community.

During the 25 years since, I’ve experienced firsthand the devastating consequences of these mistakes.

It is these very recriminations which make me cringe as it was that approximate 30 year time period which I taught in public schools and experienced the anguish of educating every student to the best of my ability while my elected officials were busy cutting me to my knees.  This continues to be  the same program which is in force while teachers are being subjected to merit based on test scores.

Typically, schools and parents follow exactly what the author is stating.  It is far easier to take the easy course when you have limited resources and hope for the best. It is also the worst possible time to not take immediate action, as with children who are on the autism spectrum.

When Tim entered elementary school, it took us three years to convince school officials that his symptoms weren’t caused by problems with Tim’s having been adopted, his racial identity (we’re white, he’s black) or our parenting. That by then we had three children younger than Tim who also were adopted transracially and were thriving helped make our case. The school’s evaluations suggested he had what was then called attention deficit disorder and some learning disabilities. He was admitted into special education, and the school drew up a mandated individualized education plan (IEP) for him. It focused mostly on helping with his organizational skills and, at the school’s insistence, his “self-esteem.”

Tim’s IEP clearly needed to be revised after he received his new diagnoses. But his principal told me repeatedly that “he just needs to follow the rules,” as if Tim could will away his illness. In a due-process hearing we then demanded, Tim’s special education teacher declared that Tim’s biggest problem was “overprotective parents.”

And during my teaching years in public schools, the worst I encountered was the outset of charter schools.  Wherein the following and worse was stated more often than not:

What followed were many years during which one public school after another knew it couldn’t educate my son but had nothing to offer, holding him back in one case and bumping him ahead in another.

It was this very time period, the advent of charter schools, in which I saw how education and our elected leaders failed education the most. And it was when I realized until people came ‘clean’, the Michelle Rhee’s of the world would just continue to blame the wrong folks.

More than one educator has told me that I shouldn’t blame the schools: Their purpose is to educate children, not to treat them. I understand this. But I also learned from personal experience that ignoring a child’s special needs makes meaningless the special-education concepts of “appropriate” and “least restrictive” education that are embodied in the laws we passed.

These terminologies — and the realities they represent — were things that policymakers thought about too narrowly. The word “disability,” for instance, should have covered Tim and children like him. But as a friend who worked a generation ago on drafting the regulations for the federal government’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act told me, “Paul, we were thinking of kids in wheelchairs.”

What we really need is more people able to own up and admit to deficiencies in how funding and managing education is done so we can move forward. The blame game has long been a subtle smoke screen to demonstrate all that is wrong with education, demonize teachers and not acknowledge some of the worst possible choices in education  which have been made – NOT BY TEACHERS, RATHER, THE VERY PEOPLE WHO SHOULD HAVE HAD OPEN EARS AND EYES.

Until we have a ‘truth and reconcilliation’  about what has happened these past 30 or so years, we will never get close to filling the gap created by politicians.  We can continue to blame teachers – it will not solve the problem so clearly laid out by Paul Gionfriddo.

Dear Ms. Rhee 29 August 2012

Dear Ms. Rhee,

I write to you often but I am not even sure you pay attention as you have never responded. If you responded, I would be shocked as it would mean you had to deal with facts which were presented. Since you are more inclined to manipulate facts, I am not expecting responses any time soon.

So, it would appear that Aspire Public Schools has taken a page, well maybe a chapter from the playbook of  regular public schools. This is not the first time I caught the problem; I have addressed this issue at other junctures. I just keep pointing out the facts so that you don’t lose track of them as you campaign against teachers.

https://rn11.ultipro.com/ASP1000/JobBoard/listjobs.aspx?Page=List&__SVRTRID=E95F1B34-D54F-4D0E-BD91-8AE59C55609E is the URL I used on 29 August 2012 to check that once again, Aspire was exceeding what a regular public school would be doing at this time in the school year as Aspire indicates IT IS SUPERIOR to what is down the street.

Here is what I found at 10:45 AM-

12 open teaching positions, including the sciences and language arts K-12 AND things such as music, Gr 9-12, journalism and so forth. This did not include the four open substitute position postings or the Dean of Educational Capacity (clearly a name for a position which is  in no way living up to its potential), two HR managers (assumedly it is their job to find the teachers to fill the classrooms), three residency campus recruiters (to find even more teachers to fill classrooms), five substitute positions-one of which was long-term, college readiness teacher (who knew that Aspire needed a teacher to do the task of a counselor….), Senior Manager of Talent (apparently also responsible for filling empty classrooms), two recruiters…. to find teachers which the residency campus recruiters could not find??, and two SPED teachers. I did not list every open position as I pretty much matched My true love gave to me (sung to the 12 Days of Christmas) chorus usually reserved for public schools.

And so I begin to ask myself the following questions, in no particular order:

(1) There is 8.5% unemployment in the U.S. (rhetorical of course as the RNC has been bandying this about for weeks).

(2) Why don’t teachers wish to work for a charter school (Aspire is not the only gig in town, just the most self promoted in CA and now TN)?

(3) How is Aspire’s problem different from regular public schools as charter schools are supposed to be better and these numbers of empty positions after school has started indicate equal to or worse than.

(4) Why are my tax dollars paying for this unacceptable level of administration of an education program and why is Aspire not shut down when it is NOT meeting its own goals?

(5) Does anyone else know or am I the only person  who has an actual interest in education?

(6) Did Ms. Rhee or James Wilcox ever manage to read “The First Days of School” by Harry K. Wong (the supposed handbook Aspire support(s)/supported?

The list continued, however it became general reflection as to why I still believe charter schools are not an answer to what ails the American education system.

I know you like the word anomaly and use it to explain data which you are unable to manipulate to your liking so I understand you might wish to use it in this example. My problem is that something is an anomaly when it happens once or rarely  (deviation from the common rule)- not regularly so it is not appropriate this time….the problem(s) cited above are regular and ongoing.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

While you were all looking at test scores and Michelle Rhee was blaming teachers……..

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/fitch-downgrades-aspire-public-schools-194000754.html

The above item would have flown right under the radar had some one not pointed it out to me. It would not have even occurred to me that this would be an Aspire Public Schools issue.  Of course, I gave Aspire the benefit of the doubt and looked at http://www.aspirepublicschools.org/?q=financials. and http://www.aspirepublicschools.org/?q=pressroom as I believe all parties should have an opportunity to weigh in on the subject.

From what I can gather, Fitch sees Aspire as being not transparent enough. From what I read about (written by others), Aspire refuses to be honest http://acsa.org/MainMenuCategories/Advocacy/Issues-and-Actions/Success-for-ELSF.aspx, which has nothing to do with tenure or all the other rigamarow Ms. Rhee constantly complains about.  Aspire seems to be anti-competitive, which is anti-Michelle Rhee and anti-Jeffrey Canada. This all makes for some interesting conversation.  I can find no mention of the bond issue nor the lawsuit issue.  No where can I find Michelle Rhee’s commentary………so I will leave the interpretation of all of this to the reader.

This demonstrates to me once again that charter schools have been so busy marketing and touting themselves that reality never had a chance. Aspire is a not for profit CORPORATION. By reasonable standards, people should be flinching about the lack of competitiveness Aspire Public Schools operates under.  The message may well be that test scores really do not tell the whole story, even though Aspire and Michelle Rhee would have us believe otherwise with propaganda.

This is Aspire 15 years out. I have to wonder if this is what Don Shalvey, James Wilcox, Wayne Hilty and Elise Darwish prepared for in advance and escaping to Tennessee is not the entire answer. It would seem that abandoning  part or all they sought to change in CA is definitely not a good answer for students, investors and  public education.  With Wall St. having brought down the economy,  limited and insufficient disclosure to Fitch does not seem to be in line with what the public would like to know.

LIMITED AND INSUFFICIENT DISCLOSURE

Under the bonds’ continuing disclosure agreement, the lawsuit does not       appear to qualify as a ‘significant event.’ However, given Aspire’s significant concerns regarding the lawsuit, Fitch views the lack of       communication until after the proposed statement of decision negatively.       In addition, the March 21, 2012 disclosure statement made no reference   to the serious risks, including possible default, cited by management in       its declarations to the court.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for June 8. Fitch will   continue to monitor developments in the lawsuit and their potential   ramifications for bondholders.

Of course the real concern is how did these people NOT have an appropriate long term business plan in place knowing CA politics?  What are the board of directors http://www.aspirepublicschools.org/?q=board thinking? I have to wonder if even Superman can make this better considering charter schools have touted that their composition is based on their ability to do it better for less.  Jeffrey Canada, are you paying attention?