Archive for Education

Chicago Teachers

A recent rant I heard related to this video:

“This woman is dumber than dirt if she thinks that white people don’t care about educating black and brown children. If those black and brown children get a good education, then they can get jobs. People with jobs pay taxes. The current system, which she leads, and is a complete failure, does a terrible job of educating many of these kids and then they can’t get jobs that pay a decent wage, and they end up costing these hated white people money, and their taxes have to go up to keep these people on the dole. We want all children educated, no matter what color, so they can pay taxes, so we don’t have to pay as much. What a dipsh*t.”

To that I would add two thoughts: Black and brown parents who work for a living and don’t want to flush tax dollars down the toilet also want the kids of Chicago educated. And Ms. Lewis is using hate speech designed to tear the country apart more than it already is. Populism sucks.

But again, I think it’s basically over and there’s little that can be done to save the Titanic.

- Aggie

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Chicago Schools Close—”Rich White People” Hardest Hit

What took her so long?

In a scathing speech on Wednesday, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union charged that racism and “rich white people” are to blame for the immense financial crisis facing the Chicago Public Schools.

In her remarks to an audience at the upscale City Club of Chicago, union boss Karen Lewis strongly criticized Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She also urged the city schools to follow the strategic blueprint of the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

“Members of the status quo — the people who are running the schools and advising the mayor on how to best run our district — know what good education looks like because they have secured it for their own children in well-resourced public and private institutions,” the Dartmouth graduate charged.

“When will there be an honest conversation about the poverty, racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of a quality education product in our school system?” Lewis also asked in the speech. “When will we address the fact that rich, white people think they know what’s in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos—no matter what the parent’s income or education level.”

I ask with all seriousness: where’s the evidence that non-rich, non-white people know what good education looks like? Or that skin of any color, income of any level, has anything to do with what good education looks like? It is my experience that, due to federal and state mandates, poor education costs as much as (or almost as much as) good education. What makes the difference between poor and good education is the commitment of the teachers and the parents to the outcome.

But she gets one thing right:

“There is something about these folks who love the kids but hate the parents,” Lewis inveighed. “There’s something about these folks who use little black and brown children as stage props at one press conference…”

Reprehensible.

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Chicago Schools Close—Minorities Hardest Hit

No more schools,
No more books…

That’s pretty much it:

The Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to close 50 schools and programs, an ambitious plan that has sparked protests and lawsuits and could help define — for better or worse — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s term in office.

City officials say the closings are necessary because of falling school enrollment and as part of their efforts to improve the city’s struggling education system.

“The only consideration for us today is to do exactly what is right for the children,” schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said before the board’s vote.

Critics have blasted Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, and Byrd-Bennett, saying the closings disproportionately affect minority neighborhoods and will endanger children who may have to cross gang boundaries to get to a new school.

They protested during the board’s meeting Wednesday and sent busloads of parents, teachers and students to Springfield to lobby lawmakers to approve a moratorium on the closings. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called it “a day of mourning” for the children of Chicago.

Chicago is among several major U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, Washington and Detroit to use mass school closures to reduce costs and offset declining enrollment. Detroit has closed more than 130 schools since 2005, including more than 40 in 2010 alone.

The school closings are the second major issue pitting Emanuel against the Chicago Teachers Union. The group’s 26,000 members went on strike early in the school year, partly over the school district’s demand for longer school days, idling students for a week.

Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett say the district’s financial and educational struggles call for drastic action. They say the nation’s third-largest school district is facing a deficit of about $1 billion and that too many Chicago Public Schools buildings are half-empty because of a population drop in some city neighborhoods. They’ve also pledged students will be moved to schools that are performing better academically.

CPS says it has 403,000 students in a system that has seats for more than 500,000.

The city says enrollment has fallen; the teachers say “the closings disproportionately affect minority neighborhoods”. Are the two irreconcilable?

We know for certain that black women abort their unborn children well above the average for all women. Doesn’t it follow that there would be fewer black children to fill those seats in schools? And aren’t the black children who are born at a greater risk of dying of violent crime—see the lovely Hadiya Pendleton—almost always from other black babies who grew up?

I don’t know Rahm Emanuel, but I don’t like whom he associates with. Racism, however, is a strong charge that doesn’t hold up on analysis.

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OMG

Very, very stupid antics in Oregon

Teachers were shocked and caught off guard when an Oregon school held a school shooting drill.

The Oregonian reports Pine Eagle Charter School in Halfway held the drill last Friday as children were home for an in-service day. Two masked “gunmen” burst into a meeting room holding 15 teachers firing blanks. Teachers only realized it wasn’t a real shooting when none of them were bleeding.

“There was some commotion,” school principal Cammie DeCastro told The Oregonian.

Teachers were frightened about what happened.

“I’ll tell you, the whole situation was horrible,” Morgan Gover told the paper. “I got a couple in the front and a couple in the back.”

The school held the unplanned drill in hopes to better educate teachers on how to deal with a school shooting. Of the 15 teachers in the room, only two would have survived.

“For us not to know how we were going to respond is leaving us open,” DeCastro told The Oregonian.

I’m surprised no one had a heart attack and I wonder if someone will sue. Astonishingly poor judgement.

And I wouldn’t be terribly shocked to learn that some nut has read about this and planned an attack, assuming that teachers will believe the bullets are blanks. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

- Aggie

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NY School Assignment: Prove Loyalty To Nazi Germany, Jews Are Evil

This is the generation that we have raised.

An upstate school system apologized Friday after students got a writing assignment in which they were instructed to prove their loyalty to Nazi Germany by arguing Jews are “evil” and the source of that government’s problems.

Students in three Albany High School English classes received the assignment, which was due Wednesday.
The assignment from the unidentified teacher was designed to flex students’ “persuasive writing” skills.

But Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, superintendent of the City School District of Albany, called the assignment “completely unacceptable.”
“It displayed a level of insensitivity that we absolutely will not tolerate in our school community,” Wyngaard said, “I am deeply apologetic to all of our students, all of our families and the entire community.”

She told the Albany Times Union newspaper that one-third of the students refused to complete the work.

The teacher has not been in school since the district learned of the assignment.

The school district is considering disciplinary action, according to Ron Lesko, director of communications. Options include termination, but no decision has been made, Lesko said.
In the assignment, students were to pretend the educator was a member of the Nazi government.

Lovely. I even understand what the teacher was getting at – I think – but the approach is strange. It is also tone deaf. Can you imagine an assignment written from the perspective of a planation owner about the goodness of slavery? I also wonder why only 1/3rd of the students felt that the assignment was wrong enough to refuse?

- Aggie

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Left Wing Civility Watch

Well, b*tch is a subjective term, but she was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

So, why the “Asian” epithet?

A recent occupy protest at the Department of Education turned ugly when one protester, a public teacher, called school choice champion Michelle Rhee an “Asian bitch.”

The protest last week was part of a week-long series of events organized by a group called Occupy DOE 2.0. Members oppose the education agenda of reformers like Rhee, and want federal policy to de-emphasize standardized tests, which have recently become a rallying point for teachers unions.

Ceresta Smith, a teacher in Miami-Dade County, called Rhee “an Asian bitch.” Later, she said that her language was extreme, but appropriate.

It’s not like she called Rhee an Asian c-u-next-Tuesday, after all. That would have been “inappropriate”.

But it’s the Asian part that troubles me. How is her Asian heritage (her parents emigrated from South Korea) relevant to the discussion? I’ve looked her up, and Ceresta Smith is African American. Think it’s “appropriate” to call her a “black bitch”? I don’t, and it’s not the “bitch” part I would find offensive.

And it only got worse:

While other organizers did not match Smith’s racially charged rhetoric, their language was just as violent and militant. Former teacher Shaun Johnson urged teachers to start “cracking skulls.”

If the Left sells itself as the movement that loves people, why are they so mean-spirited and violent? And racist.

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Dunce Cap

Whatever this says, I don’t want to be the one saying it:

New education standards approved this week in Florida set goals for public school student performance based on race and ethnicity — with lower benchmarks for African-American, Native American, and Hispanic students, and higher ones for white and Asian-American students.

According to the plan, Pre-K through grade 12 students will be assessed with their racial subgroups in mind “to reduce the achievement gap.”

By 2018, 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanic students, 82 percent of Native American students and 74 percent of African-American students are expected to be at-or-above grade level reading standards.

Additinally [sic], in the next six years, the state is aiming for 92 percent of Asian students, 86 percent of white students, 80 percent of Hispanic students, 81 percent of Native American students and 74 percent of African American students to be at-or-above grade level math standards.

Economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and students who are learning English as a second language are exempt from the new benchmarks.

Isn’t that the textbook definition (pardon the pun) of the soft bigotry of low expectations?

Or is it just a reflection of reality?

Currently 76 percent of Asian students, 69 percent of white students, 53 percent of Hispanic students, 55 percent of Native American students and 38 percent of African-American students are at or above their grade level reading standards. And 82 percent of Asian students, 68 percent of white students, 55 percent of Hispanic students, 58 percent of Native American students and 40 percent of African-American are at or above their grade level math standards.

The Commissioner of Education called the gap in proficiency “unacceptable”—as she accepted it in her admittedly lofty goals. I am offended personally that her target for African American students in six years’ time is still below where Asians are today. That’s not a goal; that’s resignation. It’s also shameful. Who is well served by giving up?

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No More Schools, No More Books

But plenty of teacher’s dirty looks!

One of the themes of this blog, one of which we wouldn’t be so proud if we were more mature than we are, is the hot, steaming schadenfreude we take at the misery of Obama’s legions of supporters now suffering from the very policies he promised to deliver. Deliver he has, right up the keister!

Young people can’t find jobs, sick people can’t afford health care, and black people can’t catch a break anywhere.

Chicago school officials said Thursday that they plan to close dozens of schools in a bid to improve education and tackle a $1 billion deficit.

The move would shutter 61 school buildings, including 53 underused schools and one program. The cut represents roughly 10% of all elementary school facilities in Chicago Public Schools, the country’s third-largest school district.

CPS currently has 403,000 students, with seats for more than 511,000, and close to 140 of its 681 schools are more than half empty, according to the district.

The Chicago Teachers Union opposes the closures, which it says would disproportionately affect African-American students. The union also warns the move would expose students to gang violence and turf wars, an apparent reference to neighborhood loyalties.

“This city cannot destroy that many schools at one time, and we contend that no school should be closed in the city of Chicago. These actions will not only put our students’ safety and academic careers at risk but also further destabilize our neighborhoods,” said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

“We do not have a utilization crisis. What we have is a credibility crisis. CPS continues to peddle half-truths, lies and misinformation in order to justify its campaign to wipe out our schools and carry out this corporate-driven school-reform nonsense,” she said.

The union went on strike last year. The city’s nearly 30,000 teachers walked out on September 10, objecting to a longer school day, evaluations tied to student performance and job losses from school closings.

Nice to see the teachers looking out for their own interests rather than the kids’.

But then, who are we to talk?

The Department of Early Education and Care has failed to take sufficient steps to assure sex offenders aren’t working at licensed day care centers, the state auditor said Wednesday.

In a scathing report, investigators from Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office found 119 cases in which the address of a registered sex offender matched that of a licensed child care facility.

To paraphrase one of my favorite Oscar Wilde witticisms, to hire one sex offender, Ms. Bump, may be regarded as misfortune; to hire 119 looks like carelessness.

Oh come on, you have to laugh. (It’s that kind of blog, remember?) Chicago Public School students are worthless pawns in a game between cash-strapped management and turf-guarding teachers. And Massachusetts pre-schoolers get to play hopscotch under the benevolent gaze of pederasts and rapists. It’s a Democratic utopia.

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School Safety

I suppose one reaction to the Sandy Hook massacre is to make a gun-free zone a really gun free (or really, really gun free) zone. I don’t see the point, but what harm would it do? Oh yeah—it would do nothing to stop another Sandy Hook from happening.

So, maybe this is a better idea:

Putting guns in schools has struck many as a radical suggestion since the Sandy Hook massacre. But in one rural Michigan township, the police chief has come up with a thoughtful, serious plan to do just that.

During his 33-year-career in law enforcement, Victor Pierce has seen the bodies of murdered children, and he’s struggled to reckon with it. After Sandy Hook, he felt compelled to do something, he says. So he decided to invite teachers and school administrators to participate in the reserve-officer-training program. After they’d completed the class, Pierce would swear them in as volunteer reserve officers, and if the school district gave its blessing, they could carry concealed weapons on campus.

“Schools are in a weapons-free zone, and typically, that’s why a perpetrator [chooses them, taking] the path of least resistance. If he knows that there’s a soft target, he’ll reach that objective. You can put in all the locks and metal detectors you want. That’s not going to stop him from doing something sadistic or creating carnage. You need force.”

Over the course of twelve weeks, enrollees get 60 hours of training about the law, application and use of force, defensive tactics, handgun use and safety, and other basics.

Interesting idea. In fact, it’s been my suggestion since December 15th.

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My Cure for Sequester Fester

How about if we—it’s only a suggestion, mind you—but what if we—just consider it, humor me, play along—what if… no, I can’t say it.

Okay, what would happen to the federal budget and the metastasizing deficit if we… if we… if we cut all spending on all programs that don’t work!

Don’t hate me.

President Obama has announced a cure for the country’s social ills: universal preschool. It would help children “read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own,” and also reduce teen pregnancy and violent crime, he said in his State of Union address.

Jeez, that’s better than flossing! Who could argue against flossing (and I hate flossing)?

As evidence for these remarkable claims he pointed to Oklahoma and Georgia, the early adopters of universal preschool. But the real evidence from those states suggests that preschool doesn’t deliver on even its most basic promises.

[N]either state program has demonstrated major social benefits. The first batch of children who attended preschool in Georgia, in 1995, are now turning 22, so Mr. Obama’s claim that they are better at “holding jobs” and “forming stable families” can’t be true.

As if the truth ever stopped him for making false and ignorant statements before.

Consider graduation rates: Oklahoma has lost ground and Georgia is stagnant. Oklahoma ranked 24th in 1998 but 25th when its first batch of universal-preschool children graduated last year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics compiled by the United Health Foundation. Georgia’s high-school graduation rate was 46th from the top in 1995. It dipped to 47th in 2009, the year its first batch graduated, before rising to 45th in 2012.

Don’t believe me. The authors have plenty more statistics. But I don’t think they should have called the little girls sluts:

But what about, say, teenage girls staying out of trouble? Teen birth rates have declined in the past 10 years in Georgia and Oklahoma (as they have nationwide), but both states remain far above the national average. In 2005, Georgia had the eighth-highest teen-birth rate and Oklahoma the seventh-highest, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Now Georgia has the 13th-highest, Oklahoma the fifth-highest. Many states without universal preschool have a far better record.

Maybe they’re not teaching enough sex ed—or too much.

In any case, if you just eliminated all government programs that waste money for no gain whatsoever, I bet you could shrink the budget to, oh, $12,295. Give or take a few trillion.

But no, they’re going to cut air traffic controllers instead.

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Obama Education Director Lies About Teacher Pink Slips

Claims teachers are receiving pink slips due to sequester

The descriptions of the post-sequester landscape that have been coming out of the Obama Administration have been alarming, specific–and, in at least some cases, hyped.

“There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

When he was pressed in a White House briefing Wednesday to come up with an example, Duncan named a single county in West Virginia and acknowledged, “whether it’s all sequester-related, I don’t know.”

And, as it turns out, it isn’t.

Officials in Kanawha County, West Virginia say that the “transfer notices” sent to at least 104 educators had more to do with a separate matter that involves a change in the way West Virginia allocates federal dollars designated for poor children.

The transfer notices are required by state law and give teachers a warning that they may be moved to a different position next school year. They don’t necessarily mean a teacher has been laid off, said Pam Padon, director of federal programs and Title 1 for the Kanawha County public schools. “It’s not like we’re cutting people’s jobs at this point.”

Rhetorical question: Is this the scummiest administration in modern history? Can they ever tell the truth?

- Aggie

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Obama’s Fake Turkey Moment

Except this time the turkey is very real:

In an apparent planning snafu, President Obama today will visit an early learning school in Decatur, Georgia that happens to be in recess this week.

But no problem: According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, staff and bus drivers will be summoned back to work for the day to accomodate Obama’s appearance.

College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center Principle Suzanne Kennedy alerted parents that the staff will interrupt their vacations for the “amazing opportunity” for students to “expand their worlds” by seeing the president:

President Obama’s visit is an honor for College Heights and the City Schools of Decatur. Since the school system is on winter break, we are offering a one-day experience for pre-K and Head Start students on the day of his visit- Thursday, February 14, 2013. This day would resemble a normal school day: same bus routes and times, same school beginning and end times, regular instructional day with the same staff, and breakfast and lunch offerings.

Obama will be on hand to promote his State of the Union suggestion that early childhood education be made a new entitlement “available to every single child in America.”

Never mind that it has just been demonstrated that Head Start offers no lasting advantage for kids.

And that school vouchers do:

It was a painful experience for me, each and every time. My instinct was always to tell the mother that I’d let her kid into Mann or Key and make the school make room for one more child. But honestly, it just wasn’t doable. Or fair. There were so many parents who visited me with these requests and so many more who were on waiting lists for those schools who had followed all of the rules.

Oh, I could have found a spot for them at another D.C. public school, perhaps marginally better than their home school. But that wasn’t what they wanted. They were looking for the exact same thing that I wanted for my two girls: the best school possible.

Who am I, I thought, to deny this mom and her child an opportunity for a better school, even if that meant help with a seventy-five-hundred-dollar voucher? If they got a voucher, and her child could attend a really good Catholic school, perhaps, why would I stand in the way—especially since I don’t have a high-quality DCPS alternative?

I just couldn’t look mother after mother in the eye and deny their children the opportunity I wanted for my own children. It would have required me to say, “Gee, I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to suck it up. I know your elementary school is a failing school, and your child will probably not learn how to read, but I really need five more years to fix the system. And while I’m fixing the system, I need you and your neighbors to be really patient. Hang in there with me. Things will get better. I promise.”

If someone said that to me, I’d have said, “You may need more time to fix the system but my kid doesn’t have time. She has only one chance to attend first grade, and if she can’t learn to read by the end of first grade, her chances for success in life will be compromised. So with all due respect—heck no!”

After my listening tour of families, and hearing so many parents plead for an immediate solution to their desire for a quality education, I came out in favor of the voucher program. People went nuts. Democrats chastised me for going against the party, but the most vocal detractors were my biggest supporters.

Typically for Obama, his obsession with “fairness” leads to inequities far greater than anything in the nastier novels of Charles Dickens. He doesn’t want to fix the problem; he wants people to think he does.

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