Transfer of activism

Transfer of activism

by SPJ

Those in educational circles, particularly on social media, are observing a season of meetings of various professional organizations. We were recently treated to the smiles and reunions of academics at the DC meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). And we are now inundated with the bright, optimistic activism of the Network for Public […]

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Source: Transfer of activism

CURMUDGUCATION: A Conversation about Ed Reform

A Conversation about Ed Reform

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 11:15 AM PDT

It’s not very often that two voices from differing sides of the education reform debates talk it out, but last weekend at the Network for Public Education conference in Raleigh, NC, Jennifer Berkshire and Peter Cunningham sat down to talk about some of the pressing issues of education reform in this country.

Jennifer Berkshire writes the blog Edushyster and also hosts the podcast Have You Heard. Last year, after I met her in person for the first time, I called her a “manic pixie dream girl,” missing the negative associations that the term has for folks, so let me take that back and simply observe that she is one of the most literally disarming people I’ve ever seen in action, a gifted interviewer who is absolutely comfortable and charming without giving up an inch of her own convictions with a willingness to hear any point of view.
Peter Cunningham has been around for a while, but is currently holding down a gig running Education Post,   one of the major voices of education reform. He came to Raleigh for the full conference  (as he did last year in Chicago– I don’t know about the first year); I give him points for entering what was clearly not going to be a friendly environment.

The conversation opened with some light banter, including a gift from Cunningham of a child’s game entitled Race to the Top. Also, we learned that he lives right by Mike Klonsky. So there’s that.

My notes are not perfect or complete, but I thought I’d jot down my impressions….

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: A Conversation about Ed Reform

CURMUDGUCATION: The Path To Teacher Evaluation


Monday, April 18, 2016

The Path To Teacher Evaluation

Teacher evaluation, aka accountability, continues to be a topic of wideranging debate. On the one hand, we have lots of folks who call for teacher “accountability.” On the other hand, Race to the Top and the state waiver programs gave us systems of teacher evaluation that are spectacularly dysfunctional and conceptually stupid (how well some eighth graders do on a single, bad reading test should determine how good the shop teacher is?). And on the third hand, the new education law (ESSA) gives each state a chance to come up with new ways to make a hash of the whole business.

Critics (and I’m one of them) have said repeatedly that value-added measures and test-based ratings and a few other stupid things that have been tried are, in fact, stupid, destructive and bad for everybody. Supporters of the accountability movement have replied, “Fine then. What do you want to do instead?”

Okay, then. How do we get on the path to a useful method of teacher evaluation?

See: CURMUDGUCATION: The Path To Teacher Evaluation

The Enemy of my Enemy is NOT my Friend!

Why do we care if Lamar Alexander gave John King the smackdown? Has Alexander all of a sudden become some kind of public school super hero? No! He has as much disdain for public schools as any of the democratic reformers—especially King. Wake up people. Cheering for a different enemy of public education is still cheering… Read more »

Source: The Enemy of my Enemy is NOT my Friend!

CURMUDGUCATION blog: The Student Privacy Pledge

CURMUDGUCATIONThe Student Privacy Pledge

Posted: 17 Apr 2016 04:04 AM PDT

In the fifties, under scrutiny (actual Congressional hearings) and attack (Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent)

 the comic book industry hatched the comics code, a special seal that would guarantee parents that a comic book contained nothing unsavory. Of course the film industry had done something similar– creating a rating system that would assert that the public could enter a movie theater safely.

The motivation behind both of these was simple and transparent– if we offer to police our own industry, maybe the government won’t feel the need to step in and hammer us with regulations we can neither stand nor control.

Meet the Software and Information Industry Association

. Among other things, the SIIA  “aggressively promotes and protects the interests of its member companies in legal and public policy debates by working with state, federal and international policymakers and participating in landmark legal decisions.”

The SIIA is a busy group, and they are also the creators of the Student Privacy Pledge.

Signers of the pledge have promised not to do things like maintain files on students, nor collect share or sell student personal information– at least, not for any reasons other than those authorized by educational institutions. The pledge also involves promises to do things like “Collect, use, share, and retain student personal information only for purposes for which we were authorized by the educational institution/agency, teacher or the parent/student.” 257 companies have signed the pledge.

If you find this less than reassuring, well– consider other activities of the SIIA as reported by Missouri Education Watchdog


Source: CURMUDGUCATION: The Student Privacy Pledge

CURMUDGUCATION blog: The Other Testing Problem


The Other Testing Problem

Posted: 16 Apr 2016 03:33 AM PDT

It’s testing season, and that means we are hearing the annual recitation of stories of despair and misery among the students, as small children are pressed to and past their breaking point. These stories are heartbreaking and rage-inducing all at the same time, but they aren’t the only story. They probably aren’t even the most common story, and they may not even be the most important story.

If you give a human, particularly a young human, a task to complete, one that seems difficult and yet pointless, unpleasant and yet with no real stakes for that human, what is the most common response?

A) To try their hardest because even if it seems pointless, it might not be, and I always do my best
B) This is a stupid waste of my time, so I will zip through it quickly so it wastes the least possible time
C) I will avoid frustration by not caring and not trying
D) Look, a butterfly!

Testocrats are so certain that their work is so hugely important that they can’t imagine how anyone could fail to see the Importance of the Test. In a weird way, the student meltdown stories actually confirm their judgment.

But all the data, all the analysis if the data, all the conclusions based on the data– all of that starts with the assumption that the students who took the Big Standardized Test actually tried.

Teachers have only a couple of choices…

Read the rest of the blog post here: CURMUDGUCATION: The Other Testing Problem

Secretary Johnson encourages voters to cast ballots in local May elections

School districts and communities in 60 counties will hold elections Tuesday, May 3. Check your registration status at the Michigan Voter Information Center

You can view your sample ballot if your community is holding an election as well as find your polling location and track your absentee ballot. A list of communities with May 3 elections can be found online

. Those who wish to receive an absentee ballot by mail must submit the application by 2 p.m.Saturday, April 30. More information is available on the Secretary of State’s page:  CLICK HERE.

Thank you for voting!


Source: Secretary Johnson encourages voters to cast ballots in local May elections

$5M in state funding for private schools? Democrats, education groups question proposal |

The dollars would be used to reimburse nonpublic schools for the cost of complying with state mandates.

And the estimated cost to private schools, by their own admission, would add about $100 tuition increase per student per year to , or put in other terms – less than $3 per week.

Stop whining about school safety mandates and raise your tuition rates.

Parents paying thousands of dollars per year to send their children to private schools likely can afford another hundred bucks.

Or if need be, have a bake sale.

Source: $5M in state funding for private schools? Democrats, education groups question proposal |