It's teacher hunting season!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Stacking in favor of Charter Schools -Chicago Mayor Daley's "last middle finger"...

This is a tip-off from democraticunderground's "Madfloridian":
"Mayor Daley's "last middle finger" to public schools. How the odds are stacked in favor of charters."
Madfloridian wrote:
This story illustrates how easily public schools are painted as the problem, while it is never mentioned how often they get students returned from charter schools....because they are unable to meet the standards.

That Mayor Daley said such a thing shows how clueless some of the political leaders are about what is really going these schools "counsel out" non-performers and send them back to public schools so they won't affect their scores.

From the Chicago Reader.

Charters unload problem students onto neighboring public schools - then reap the benefits.

An earlier post with this contribution at Chicago Teachers Union site:
"Stacking the Odds in Favor of Charter Schools"

A key excerpt:
On February 16, the Union League Club gave out its Democracy in Action award to deserving local high school students, and Mayor Daley was on hand to give a rousing speech—calling on regular public schools to make like the charters and transform ordinary neighborhood students into high-scoring, high-achieving, college-bound stars. Specifically, the mayor was hailing Urban Prep High School, a south-side charter school. But his unspoken message to all teachers was "work harder and stop whining."Consider it one last middle finger from Daley to the teachers and their unions because—well, why not?

Watching it all with a mixture of revulsion and disbelief was Eric Wagner, a social studies teacher at Kelvyn Park High School on the predominantly Hispanic northwest side. "I was there because one of my students—Jennifer Velazquez—had won the award," says Wagner. "I'm thinking, this is really inappropriate. There aren't even any charter school kids who won the award. Why is he ripping us?"

A public school student won. The charter students did not. Mayor Daley was either spinning or he actually did not know. Either way is a slap in the face to the public schools and to the winning student.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Prince Michael's Daughter Georgina Writes "Tell-All" Novel on Father Grinch

The New York Times, which used to be a darling of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has allowed some cracks in the relationship.

It published Tuesday May 31, 2011 a notice about how Mayor Bloomberg, is, shall we put it, disappointed in his horse-riding daughter Georgina.

The background article by Julie Bosman and Michael Barbaro, "Mayor’s Daughter, Hints of Family Life."

And excerpts from Georgina's novel, "The A Circuit," introduced by Bosman and Barbaro.

Bush-McGraw-Hill Test, Financial Ties --Be Alert to Pols' Self-Interest with Tests

When there are millions --make that billions, in some markets, such as New York City-- to be made in test to the test, test-driven teaching,
non-stop "assessments," beware!

One blogger picked up on the long, intense financial ties between George W. Bush's family and school test publisher McGraw-Hill:
"McGraw-Hill & Bush: The Graft and the Twig,": "Bush Ties Prove to Be Lucrative" August 3, 2006, William L. Bainbridge of the "[Jacksonville] Florida Times-Union"

Country western singers Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have been getting far more attention than the publishing giant with a similar name that has been quietly gathering in our tax dollars like a hungry squirrel getting ready for winter.

With sales of $6 billion in 2005, publishing giant McGraw-Hill, no relation to the talented musical performers, produced an annualized return of 19% last year. Critics of President George W. Bush's administration have been vocal about the Bush and Cheney family ties to defense contractors at a time of war and, more recently, to their ties to the price gouging gasoline producers. Few, however, have noted the close and profitable relationship between the Bushes and the leadership of McGraw-Hill.

President Bush has managed to keep his family's nearly eighty-year relationship- with the McGraws alive and well - - a relationship that, according to THE NATION, began between the President's grandfather, Prescott Bush, and James McGraw Jr., great uncle of current McGraw-Hill Chairman Harold McGraw, III in the 1930's. (Link to Stephen Metcalf's "Reading Between the Lines." in "The Nation" magazine.)

While it is generally understood and accepted that exchanging favors among business friends in the private sector is common practice, the ethics of such practices between government officials and private business interests is another matter. Examples in the defense arena and among Washington-based lobbyists such as Jack Abrahoff have been broadly documented. Such patterns have contributed to the downward spiral that has resulted in record low public approval ratings for the current President..

Less visible are relationships in other sectors that have proven to be no less lucrative. Consider the following:

· Our state governments will have spent as much as $5 billion with private firms in the next two years in direct costs to develop, score and report the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" law tests designed to record student performance. This is the estimate from the federal Government Accounting Office. Only four companies tend to control test development: (1) CTB, a testing division of McGraw-Hill, (2) Texas-based Harcourt, (3) Illinois-based-Riverside and (4) London-based Pearson. McGraw-Hill's CTB division appears to be dominating this lucrative new industry with contracts in nearly half the states. Is it because they have a superior product and entered into the criterion test market arena first? The test publishers have spent millions with officials in government and at some foundations on reforms that produce more corporate profits rather than substantive benefits for students.

· The National Reading Panel adopted standards for a heavily scripted phonics program, favoring the nation's largest phonics publisher, McGraw-Hill's "Open Court." McGraw-Hill's representatives dominated the panel and the same pubic relations firm worked on the federal plan that promoted "Open Court" in Texas, under then Governor George W.. Bush. The findings were billed as "scientifically based" built on its "success" in the Houston Independent School District. This alleged success has since been found to be predicated on an educational statistics numbers scandal.

· U.S. government speakers at conferences have been accused by education leaders of crossing an ethical line by endorsing McGraw-Hill products including "Open Court" and SRA/McGraw Hill's "Direct Instruction."

· The Association of American Publishers (AAP) sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education indicating concern that some programs were receiving explicit preference. "We request that you again clarify that there is no federally approved list, in this case for assessments, for which Reading First funds can be used," AAP said.

· Harold McGraw III, whose companies are major beneficiaries of federal education funds to school systems, was appointed a member of the current President's transition advisory team.
. . .

Read on at original post.

So, activists and other concerned citizens need to ask:
what vested interests do government executives or legislators have in pursuing standardized tests ad nauseum with school-children?