CURMUDGUCATION: Scott Walker’s Next Move To Crush Teachers

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

Scott Walker’s Next Move To Crush Teachers

When it comes to a full frontal assault on public education and the people who provide it, no governor takes a back seat to Wisconsin’s Scott Walker.

Walker’s most famous for his 2011 move to strip public unions of their power to negotiate much of anything, a move that he made one of the foundations of his failed run for President. Act 10 gave school districts the directive to unilaterally shift p4ension and health insurance costs to teachers who, under Act 10, are now allowed to negotiate only wages– and increases in wages are limited by a cost-of-living cap. That means even if a school district could afford to feel generous at the negotiating table, their generosity was limited by law– and whatever piddling raise they gave teachers could all be taken back with insurance and pension hits on the teacher paycheck. Teacher pay under Act 10 is headed down. 

In addition, contracts should now last one year, and the union must be recertified every year. (Also, no tenure for University professors, either.)

It turns out that Walker is not done. His current budget proposal offers additional funding to schools-– but only if they can prove that they used Act 10 to cut teacher pay and shut down long-term contracts. So any districts that had previously harbored thoughts like “We ought to treat our teachers decently” or “We would rather not drive all of our professional staff away” are now stuck between a financial rock and a staffing hard place. They can get back some of the badly-needed funding that was precipitously cut in 2012, but only if they agree to screw their teaching staff.

Does this seem guaranteed to drive even more teachers out of Wisconsin? Walker has another clever idea up his sleeve: no minimum required hours for school.

“If our students are succeeding, honestly I don’t care how many hours they are in, if they’re seeing success,” said Gov. Walker. “To me, the report card is the ultimate measure. It’s not how many hours are you sitting in a chair.”

This proposal comes with all sorts of neat features. 

Cyber-schools, for instance, don’t need to have a minimum number of meat-form teachers available for a number of hours. One or two teachers, some software, and you can enroll a few hundred students.

And when Walker says “report card,” he doesn’t mean the report card issued by the school– he means the state report card for the school. As long as your test scores are up and your attendance and graduation numbers are good, hey– your school year is long enough.

According to some reports, this genius move is the brainchild of CESA 6, “a member-driven cooperative educational service agency,” or as their LinkedIN profile puts it

CESA 6 is an educational solutions provider. Located in OshKosh, WI CESA stands for cooperative educational service agency. We provide regional services to school districts that range from providing staff for hard-to-fill positions to helping schools build Web sites, to professional development and coaching, and much, much more.

Honcho Ted Neitzke says the proposal is about flexibility. For instance, why should an AP class count the hours that the students spend reading their assigned books outside of school? I presume that means all homework would count as school time under the proposal. Hell, why not cut phys ed class, cut bus service, and count the hours students spend walking to school as school?

Not that this is about cutting costs. Oh no. And that may be true– it may be more about reducing the need for staff. Can’t find enough teachers who want to work under Wisconsin’s increasingly regressive system? Split your school into morning and afternoon school meeting every other day and you can get twice the students, at least,  served by one teacher. Have trouble staffing classes that don’t actually affect your state report card? Cut ’em and send the kids home early.

More than that, this also serves as a big blast of freedom for charters. Set your charter up however you want, teaching whatever you want, meeting as often as you want, with as few teachers as you want. Scott Walker says that’s okay. Come be an edu-preneur, and  we won’t tell you what you have to do, ever.

Would this reduce the number of teachers in Wisconsin? Of course– and thereby weaken that damn union and its ability to stand up to guys like Scott Walker. And of course this also accomplishes the goal of making public schools less and less attractive so that charter schools can look better by comparison (without having to actually get good). Will this have any effect on the education of rich folks who can afford to make sure their children get into real schools that do real educating? Of course not, and that’s undoubtedly part of the point–

Scott Walker has pushed hard on many reformster ideas, but the unifying principle seems to be one of the lowest of all reformy ideas– wealthy folks (who deserve their wealth or why else would they be wealthy) should not have the government taking their well-deserved money to provide services for lousy poor people (who must deserve to be poor, or else they wouldn’t be). And that include those damn teachers, who not only keep taking money they don’t deserve, but keep using some of it to try to organize revolt against their rightful rulers. These peasants need to be sent packing and forced to understand that their Betters will decide what these Lessers deserve– and the short list of what these Lessers deserve does not include an excellent, free public education.

Does all of this place Wisconsin squarely on the list of states to avoid if you want a teaching a career/ Sure. Scott Walker’s fine with that, because he doesn’t want Your Kind here, anyway. God help America’s Dairyland.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Scott Walker’s Next Move To Crush Teachers

Differentiation Doesn’t Work – Education Week

Differentiated instruction adds depth and complexity to teaching, but it’s all but impossible to implement in today’s classrooms, James Delisle writes.

January 6, 2015

Editor’s note: This Commentary by James R. Delisle provoked an avalanche of reader comments. Because of the extraordinary level of interest in the essay, Education Week published a response by one of differentiated instruction’s foremost proponents, Carol Ann Tomlinson, “Differentiation Does, in Fact, Work”. (See also Mr. Delisle’s letter to the editor in response to the online comments and our primer on the issue.)

READ THE ESSAY HERE: Differentiation Doesn’t Work – Education Week

The Trump team is a smoke machine when it comes to Russia – The Washington Post

The Washington Post’s national security team just registered another big scoop: Shortly before President Trump’s inauguration, Blackwater founder Erik Prince conducted a secret meeting with a Russian close to Vladimir Putin for the purposes of setting up a back-channel line of communication between the Russian leader and Trump, according to U.S., Arab and European officials.

The White House is already (sort of) denying that it has anything to do with this. “We are not aware of any meetings, and Erik Prince had no role in the transition,” press secretary Sean Spicer said.

But a few things call this denial into question — and make this just the latest of many encounters between a Trump associate and a Russian that looks needlessly suspicions.

The first is that Prince isn’t just some businessman. He was a high-profile Trump supporter who is close to Stephen K. Bannon and just happens to be the brother of Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos. He was also seen at Trump Tower during the transition period and was advising Trump on intelligence and defense issues, according to the Intercept. And he definitely toed the Trump line on Russia and hacking. He’s not just some guy.

The second is that the meeting was conducted in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean — a location that is known to be safe harbor for clandestine meetings. As a top Seychellois official put it so amazingly: “The Seychelles is the kind of place where you can have a good time away from the eyes of the media. That’s even printed in our tourism marketing. But I guess this time you smelled something.” Wow.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE: The Trump team is a smoke machine when it comes to Russia – The Washington Post

CURMUDGUCATION: MN: Vergara III: The Attack on Tenure Continues

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

MN: Vergara III: The Attack on Tenure Continues

You probably remember the Vergara lawsuit, the California suit that was intended to destroy teacher tenure. You may even remember that a sequel was filed in New York

The Vergara suit was simply beaten. The New York suit turned into a circus, starting with competition to see who could be out in front of the suit– Campbell Brown or Mona Davids.Then Andy Cuomo floated his own plan for kicking teachers in the face, rendering the lawsuit mootish.

The original Vergara was brought to us by David Welch, one more unelected tech gazillionaire who wants to force parts of society to work the way he wants them to. In New York, the mantle was picked up by Campbell Brown’s Partners for Educational Justice, a group fronted by Brown and funded primarily by the Waltons and Eli Broad (though for a long time Brown was adamant about not revealing that info because the poor frail dears would have been Made Real Sad by such public exposure).

For the Minnesota suit, PEJ was joined by Students for Education Reform, a younger-faced sock puppet group for the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) the group of hedge-fundie privatizers and profiteers. It was filed about a year ago, and I called baloney at the time. The plaintiffs are concerned that during budget cuts, the wrong teachers will be fired– but they’re not concerned about budget cuts. And they toss around the old lie that tenured teachers can’t be fired.

The Minnesota lawsuit was thrown out last October when Judge Margaret Marrinan ruled that a clear connection could not be made between academic achievement and due process for teacher tenure laws PEJ and SFER were back in January to appeal. Perhaps they were waiting for the holidays to be over, or perhaps they were waiting for the results of the Presidential election so that they’d know what the chances were once they drove this bulldozer all the way to the Supreme Court (the preferred result in these cases, as these folks generally would like to use a suit to punch teachers in the face all across the nation and not just in one state).

The plaintiffs are four moms from Minnesota (you get a picture here of how PEJ “found” them), including lead plaintiff Tiffani Forslund, a charter school teacher currently running for a seat on city council. Since the days of Vergara, the people crafting these lawsuits have learned to angle more toward Saving Poor Children, because it’s much easier to attract teachers to underfunded schools with tough populations when you can promise those teachers that they will have no job security at all. The lawsuit wants to implement a solution of “protecting our best teachers and replacing low-performing teachers with effective teachers” which seems magical and simple and completely unrelated to whether or not teachers have tenure.

Just last week the cause was joined by our old friends TNTP (sister organization of TFA), and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). TNTP has long agitated for the end of tenure and the use of test scores to make employment decisions about teachers. They are also that guy in the bar who will corner you to tell you about this one cool thing he did years ago; in TNTP’s case, it’s a “report” called “The Widget Effect,” and it’s not that cool. NCTQ– well, I have heaped a lot of abuse on a lot of reformster organizations over the past few years, but there is no group I take less seriously than NCTQ, a group that has at various times evaluated teacher programs that don’t exist, judged course difficulty by looking at commencement programs, and just generally cranked out the laziest faux research ever generated.

Anyway, these two reformster groups have sent along an amicus brief just last week, offering their two cents to the court that’s hearing the case (because when it comes to the law, folks get to vote, I guess). Elizabeth Ross (NCTQ) and Daniel Weisberg are here to say that the suit is all about “Minnesota students’ fundamental right to an education,” which as always makes me wonder when they’ll be filing a lawsuit about fully funding schools or developing better ways to attract top teachers. Nope. Just got to get rid of tenure.

Well, replace it, anyway, with New! Improved! Tenure Lite, as explained by TNTP’s cool graphic:

Current tenure is premature? I’ve never understood this exactly, but the anti-tenure stuff want to make it take longer, presumably so that more teachers are fireable and staff churn can be maximized. New York tried a sort of tenure twilight and proved that if you really underline for someone that their job is not secure, they’ll leave for one that is. What they didn’t prove was whether they knew how to target good and bad teachers. Saying that tenure is irrevocable is meaningless– your job is always revocable, and that’s the point. They’re correct that appeals can drag on forever.

But their alternative? “Tenure awarded for sustained strong performance” means good students Big Standardized Test scores, which means that schools serving poor communities will turn over staff regularly, because you know who gets low test scores? Non-wealthy non-white students. This is not because those students are less capable or smart– it’s because BS Tests are crappy, and schools that are underfunded and underresourced face greater challenges. Maybe TNTP would like to comment on a lawsuit about that. In TNTP’s version you can’t contest the conclusion of your evaluation– you just have to prove it was bad faith. Good luck with that. And while I agree that drawnout hearings are bad for everybody, maybe we can come up with something fairer than putting someone’s career on the line in just one day.

At this stage of the game these folks are barely pretending that these lawsuits have anything to do with helping schools do a better job of meeting students’ needs. But apparently the reformsters are calling in some buddies to help and they’re all going to keep trying to undercut the teaching profession some more, despite their lack of evidence to support their case. It’s like having a bull at cheerleading tryouts; you can’t take it seriously, but you can’t afford to ignore it, either.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: MN: Vergara III: The Attack on Tenure Continues

Episode 26 – Obama’s real legacy wsg Michael Grunwald of Politico Magazine | Eclectablog


The show notes for Episode 26 (our half-year anniversary!) are at Jana Heigl at Politifact: Does Donald Trump’s cabinet collectively own more than what one-third of Americans do?

Jonathan Chait at the New York Magazine: Tax Reform Is Hard. Tax Cuts Are Easy.

The Dig podcast: Corey Robin on the Reactionaries’ Minds Under Trump

Joshua Holland at The Nation: Democrats Need to Call Mitch McConnell’s Bluff and Filibuster Neil Gorsuch

Elana Schor and Seung Min Kim at Politico: Manchin and Heitkamp will back Gorsuch

Ryan Black and Ryan Owens at the Washington Post: Neil Gorsuch could be the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court The history of healthcare reform in Tweets by John Dingell.

LOLGOP at Eclectablog: Trump isn’t worse than George W. Bush or Richard Nixon — yet

BOOK: The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from

Source: Episode 26 – Obama’s real legacy wsg Michael Grunwald of Politico Magazine | Eclectablog

Keeping retirement weird. A road trip to Memphis to honor Dr. King.

Fred Klonsky

Civil rights ldr. Andrew Young (L) and others stanThe Lorraine Motel. Memphis. April 4, 1968.

Retirement offers the opportunity to take road trips.

The first week in April seems like a good time to head for Memphis. Anne and I have never been and Tuesday begins a year of commemoration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was murdered in Memphis 50 years ago on April 4th, 1968.

I only got to hear Dr. King speak live once. It was at a giant civil rights rally in Los Angeles at the old Wrigley Field where the Angels first played. The rally featured tons of Hollywood’s liberal celebrities like Tony Franciosa, Paul Newman and Charlton Heston, who played Ben Hur in the movie and ended up being a gun nut conservative.

When the news came over the radio that Dr. King had been shot and killed I was sitting in a car waiting to pick up my mom after work…

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Parents Across America Book Club Meeting, Sunday, April 2: “White Like Me” by Tim Wise

PAA Book Club Meeting Sunday, April 2 5:00 pm PT, 8:00 pm ET We’re going to discuss antiracist author Tim Wise’s “White Like Me” on Sunday, April 2 at 8:00 pm ET, 5:00 pm PT. You can purchase the book or you can read some of Tim Wise’s essays here, or watch or listen to video […]

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Seattle Education

PAA Book Club Meeting 

Sunday, April 2

5:00 pm PT, 8:00 pm ET


We’re going to discuss antiracist author Tim Wise’s “White Like Me” on Sunday, April 2 at 8:00 pm ET, 5:00 pm PT.

You can purchase the book or you can read some of Tim Wise’s essays here, or watch or listen to video or audio clips here.

We will be using for this meeting. At the meeting time, just call in to 515-604-9727 and then enter the access code 728537. To get the best experience, which will include videos and screen sharing, log into, click on “join a meeting” and enter the online meeting ID: parentsacrossamericawebinars.

We believe that it’s even more important now to continue this series, which provides a safe place to discuss issues of poverty, race and education with a goal of finding real solutions for our children.

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At Brookings, DeVos Restates Her One Belief: School Choice Will Take Care of Everything

At Brookings, DeVos Restates Her One Belief: School Choice Will Take Care of Everything
by janresseger
On Wednesday, Betsy DeVos, our U.S. Secretary of Education, went to the Brookings Institution to make a big speech on school choice. This was guaranteed to be an audience sympathetic to her ideas, as the event was the announcement of Brookings’ fifth annual Education Choice and Competition Index.

Here is Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post describing the event:


On Wednesday, Betsy DeVos, our U.S. Secretary of Education, went to the Brookings Institution to make a big speech on school choice. This was guaranteed to be an audience sympathetic to her ideas, as the event was the announcement of Brookings’ fifth annual Education Choice and Competition Index.

Here is Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post describing the event: “DeVos gave keynote remarks at Brookings, where the think tank unveiled its fifth annual Education Choice and Competition Index, its ranking of school choice in the nation’s 100 largest school districts.  For the 2016 index, the district with the highest score was Denver, followed by the Recovery School District in New Orleans, New York City, Newark and Boston.  D.C. Schools was ninth on the list, which is compiled with a number of measures, including the availability and mix of choice options for parents.”

In her speech at Brookings, Betsy…

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Do Background Checks Equal Gun Sales? Not By A Long Shot.

Like most of us, I’m sick and tired of the alt-right’s attack on mainstream media by calling it ‘fake news.’ Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, or worse. But every once in a while our friends in the real news media get it wrong, and this seems to happen frequently when the issue involves guns. Which is not surprising given the fact that liberals and educated folks in general are usually not that versant with guns or gun cultures, which is all the more reason they should be extra careful when they wander onto the gun-owning/using turf.

An example of this lack of knowledge about guns came out today in an NPR story about background checks in which the writer, Uri Berliner, used the latest FBI-NICS check numbers to craft an article about the post-Trump decline in gun sales.  Now young man Berliner has some impressive journalistic creds…

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