September 27, 2010

"That's not the whole story!"

There's lots of talk about the film Waiting for Superman these days, though it amounts to little more than a tear-jerking effort to undermine public education and bust teachers unions from sea to shining sea.
Juan Gonzalez interviews Rick Ayers on Democracy Now!

And just out in the Huffington Post:
"Saving Schools from the 'Supermen'"
It's a biased, intellectually shallow film, whose main premises — that tenure is bad and that charter schools will save public education — are both unfounded. There is no research to show charters do "better" than district schools (and what does "better" mean anyway?), and much evidence to the contrary, that in fact no school system has to go corporate and de-unionize itself to create good learning environments.

This film is a wake-up call, but not for us to go and rip out the underpinnings of the public system. Those schools served us well for many years and would continue to do so if the people running things at all levels of government would spend a lot more time listening to classroom educators and to parents.

There were Superman protests at Loew's Broadway and Rockefeller Center here in New York a few days ago, and educators belonging to San Francisco's EDU and UESF challenged filmmaker David Guggenheim at an advanced screening earlier this month. SF's United Public Workers for Action are calling for a boycott of the film on the grounds that it's part of a "consensus building" campaign against public education.

Ednotes reminds us not to miss an essay of Brian Jones at the International Socialist website, and NYC Educator lets us know what Chancellor Klein's been saying about the film. Both excellent reads.

Says the AFT in a new short video: Don't try to put anything over on a bunch of 5-year-olds, because they'll know the difference between a good story and hunk of Swiss cheese. Too bad the American public isn't that savvy. They're not offended by the smell, and can't even tell where all the holes are.

I didn't mind reading a sampling of the film's negative reviews again in a thoughtful piece by William Levay on the UFT website, but I'd much rather see the union spend its energy rejecting bad ideas like merit pay (because this doesn't get "results" and can't further our cause) and charter schools (too bad they have one or two of their own) and negotiating a contract that would bring the DoE to heel.

There's plenty of ways to make some noise about what's coming down. Just make it a point to put it on your agenda.

September 22, 2010

A month oldie, but a goodie:
Now you try it.

In the prelude to this Friday's NYC premiere of the diabolical film Waiting for Superman, I turned to the GEM blog to see what's on the agenda. More of that in a minute.

First I'm hitting replay on a video they put up showing a parent's reaction to when Klein slapped parents in the face by shutting down the August 16th PEP meeting and pulling his team out.

That's because he didn't want to hear what members of the audience had to say about New York City's (inflated and manipulated) test scores. There wasn't going to be any public comment on that subject, no sir!

So it's good there were videographers in the crowd who could show us what it sounds like when people get really mad at governmental puppets who shut them down. Watch this parent, she's great:

"Accountability has to start with somebody. This issue about test scores is absurd . . . That power point showed nothing about learning, it showed that our kids are being prepared to take tests."

"Any many of us have checked our children's scores on ARIS . . . Our children have dropped from a 3 to a 1, and you can't sit down and give us the respect to sit down and listen to what we have to say?! THESE ARE OUR CHILDREN: Don't get it twisted! THESE ARE OUR KIDS: Don't get it twisted!
And we will stand up, and we will be there every time you come back."

[Demanding on Emergency Plan for learning that is inclusive of parents and community members]:
"We know that the only way to have sustainability . . . is if WE are engaged in what is happening in schools!"

"I don't want to HEAR you don't have the funding. Our kids are dying literally in the street for lack of education . . . How DARE you disrespect us, the parents, by walking out! HOW DARE YOU. HOW DARE YOU! . . . I am very offended that they had the nerve and audacity to walk out ON US!"

Okay. I'm fired up, and everyone should be when you hear REALITY talk like this.

Which brings me to the FANTASY world of Superman. . As TAGNYC says in a recent email about this twisted, diabolical movie:
"The media, in various guises, is increasing its alliance with politicians and others who are profiting from the destruction of public school systems and the jobs of the teachers they employ."
And from Marjorie Stamberg:
"As you know, this is the kickoff of a campaign to blame teachers, and teacher unions in particular, for everything that is wrong with public education in the U.S. Oprah [I couldn't stomach finding a link to this, it's so shameless. You're on your own.] is having a special on it tomorrow with Bill Gates and the unspeakable Michelle Rhee to boost union-busting charter schools."

If you haven't caught the Rick Ayers piece in the Huffington Post this past week, here are the important bits:
"After dismissing funding as a factor, Superman rolls out the drum-beat of attacks on teachers as the first and really the only problem. Except for a few patronizing pats on the head for educators, the film describes school failure as boiling down to bad teachers. Relying on old clich├ęs that single out the handful of loser teachers anyone could dig up, Waiting for Superman asserts that the unions are the boogey man. In his perfect world, there would be no unions – we could drive teacher wages even lower, run schools like little corporations, and race to the bottom just as we have in the manufacturing sector. Imagining that the profit motive works best, the privatizers propose merit pay for teachers whose students test well. Such a scheme would only lead to adult cheating (which has already started), to well-connected teachers packing their classes with privileged kids, and to an undermining of the very essence of effective schools – collaboration between teachers, generous community building with students. . . .

"Waiting for Superman accepts a theory of learning that is embarrassing in its stupidity. In one of its many little cartoon segments, it purports to show how kids learn. The top of a child's head is cut open and a jumble of factoids is poured in. Ouch! Oh, and then the evil teacher union and regulations stop this productive pouring project. The film-makers betray no understanding of how people actually learn, the active and agentive participation of students in the learning process. They ignore the social construction of knowledge, the difference between deep learning and rote memorization. The film unquestioningly bows down to standardized tests as the measure of student knowledge, school success. Such a testing regime bullies aside deeper learning, authentic assessment, portfolio and project based learning. Yes, deeper learning like this is difficult to measure with simple numbers – but we can't let the desire for simple numbers simplify the educational project. Extensive research has demonstrated definitively that standardized testing reproduces inequities, marginalizes English Language Learners and those who do not grow up speaking a middle class vernacular, dumbs down the curriculum, and misinform policy. It is the wisdom of the misinformed, accepted against educational evidence and research. Never mind, they declare: we will define the future of education anyway.

"Sadly, the narrow and blinkered reasoning in Waiting for Superman is behind the No Child Left Behind disaster rebranded as Race to the Top. Don't believe the hype."
Indeed, do not.

In fact, rail against it this Friday afternoon and evening at the Lincoln Center AMC Loews — any time, any show. Expect to see more than one group, expect to see progressive educators who know what's going down in our school system.

Here are the messages it's our job to make moviegoers see as they fork over hard-earned cash to see this interminably long commercial for corpocrap:
"Stop Scapegoating Teachers"

"No to Privatization of Public Schools"

"Corporate Ed Deformers Are Killing Public Education"

"Teacher-Bashing Hurts Kids"

The address is 1998 Broadway — take the 1 train to 66th Street.
Prime showtime is at 7:05 p.m., and the picket could run from 6 pm to 7:30.

September 11, 2010

Primaries this Tuesday:
Support Bill Perkins (Harlem)
and Velmanette Montgomery (B'klyn)

State Sen. Bill Perkins sees the big picture, including the charter school invasion of Harlem.

Scott's latest post on Perkins opponent Basil Smickle in Tuesday's primary connects some dots to the charter school lobby:

"The charter school lobby has become one of the major threats to public education in this nation and the Perkins/Smickle primary is the epicenter."

He cites other links to charter school support — financial and otherwise — in the forthcoming election, notably this article in the NY Times.

These two need to win, so if they're your people. you got a civic duty on Tuesday.

September 10, 2010

Hochstadt's letter to the WSJ on ATRs

If you haven't read this letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal — and it's so well written and to the point — here's an excerpt (italics mine):

The Chancellor’s policy to decrease the proportion of tenured teachers by making tenure hard to achieve is one he is entirely reasonable in promulgating. The invidious ways in which he seeks to purge already tenured teachers is depriving the city’s students of experienced, tried and true educators, and is contractually, statutorily, and constitutionally unlawful . . .

. . . Gimmicks will not work, no idea that only involves the 8% of time the students are in school will work, the educational schism of the haves and the have-nots has grown too vast. . .

Hochstadt makes all the right points, so if you want to put SOMETHING in everyone's mailbox that's worth the paper it's written on, try this letter.

These new TJC leaflets need to get circulated as well:
The UFT Must Mobilize to Protect New Teachers!

The UFT Must Stop Supporting Politicians Who Don’t Support Us!

Contract Catastrophe
More info on the TJC website.

September 2, 2010

The REAL achievement gap

BloomKlein's spin on its achievements


the reality of its failures.

Bloomberg and Klein have created a culture of deceit and disdain for everyone involved in public education: children, parents, teachers, and administrators.

Thanks to GEM, we have a video indictment of the Chancellor and his Panel for Educational Policy.

Thanks to other activist websites, word is getting out there.

Shame on the New York Times and all the other online media who continue to think the kind of protest shown in GEM's video is not newsworthy enough for their attention. I guess the people who make those editorial decisions send their kids to private schools.

Put these dates on your calendar to attend PEP meetings for the rest of the school year and swamp these sociopaths with their own record.