Sharing information and reporting on all that reeks in American education, especially corporate reform in K12 education, the agenda to privatize the right to a free public education for every child, and general corruption in K12-higher education. Calling out and exposing rather than cowering.

AND eager for your help. Have a story of power, manipulation, self-interest or injustice which needs attention? Let me know and we'll let the world discover "what's that smell."

"If you're a profession of sheep, then you'll be run by wolves." -- David C. Berliner

"Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: Everything else is public relations." -- George Orwell

"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." -- Paulo Freire

*A slideshow of Ed Reform-Critical Boxer's "Greatest Hits" memes runs at the bottom of this page.*



Friday, January 30, 2015

Buffalo, NY, Teacher Raps about Common Core Worries, Lack of Respect

"It's not a race to the top," says teacher/rapper MC ZiLL. See the story *here.* 

Here's the youtube link to the song: 

Seattle Teachers Speak Truth To Power, Refuse Over-Testing Subjugation for Selves, Students

*See* Anthony Cody's reportage of four Seattle-area teachers who recently stood before the Renton (WA) Board of Education and read “statements of professional conscience.” In such statements, they refuse to  administer standardized tests to their students. 

Julianna Krueger Dauble, Judy Dotson, Susan DuFresne and Becca Ritchie took the brave actions, and kudos to them for standing up for their students, their profession, and, really, for all American school children. 

Cody's recounting is good enough that I don't need to recap his recap here. Just trust me that this is a story with video footage you don't want to miss.

Washington. I've lived here for almost two years now. I have a love-hate relationship with its education systems. I taught as a visiting professor of English Education at WSU, Pullman from 2013-2014 and talked about many of these education reform issue but ran into loggerheads with students and faculty who just didn't want to hear it. But, as teachers in school systems get organized, I see the word is getting out, if not always from me.

I guess when you're twenty and used to a country club mentality at college and previous professors in your major were often described as "grandmotherly" or "like a high school teacher," seeing a new fellow come in and try to convince you teaching is about to get harder and force you to make difficult moral choices just doesn't seem sexy. My students and colleagues certainly killed this messenger. But thank God practicing teachers are speaking out.

I just wish Washington educators thought I was good enough to contribute as one of them, not as an outsider. I'll keep striking that iron, though, until I don't or another locale is smart enough to beckon. In the meantime, I'll celebrate the best of teaching in the Evergreen state and honor teachers' efforts like the ones Cody details. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

NEPC Weighs in on VAM in Teacher Education

Click *here* to read a report in which Kevin K. Kumashiro of the National Education Policy Center, based at the University of Colorado, critiques proposed regulations tying teacher education programs to Value-Added Models of accountability. The authors detail five major areas in which the proposals are problematic. The issues raised will sound familiar to Edustank readers and market-based education reform fighters, but certainly they carry more weight coming from Dr. Kumashiro, the Dean of the College of Education at the University of San Francisco, than from little ol' me. 

It's a fine report, released January 12, 2015, and suggests a February 2, 2015, deadline for submitting comments and concerns to 1,555 comments have been submitted so far! Add your voice too. 

(Thanks to C.G. for bringing this document to my attention).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Contemporary Exigencies: Ed Reform/Common Core in English Education & K12 English Language Arts Being Discussed @ MLA 2015 Conference RIGHT NOW!

MLA's Annual Convention is scheduled for January 8-11, 2015

Those who follow education reform and/or teach English Language Arts at the K12 level and higher need to know that at least three sessions at the Modern Language Association's 2015 conference focus in some way on the Common Core State Standards and affiliated education reforms reconfiguring, or with the potential to transform, English Language Arts teaching across the board. 

Below I present information from the online *convention program*:

A. On Thursday, January 8, 2015,  a session entitled "Close Reading, Slow Reading, and Teaching Literature" met from 12:00–1:15 p.m. 

Presiding: Mary McAleer Balkun, Seton Hall Univ.
 1. "The Processes That Transcend the Tweet: Close Reading Made New," Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia Coll., IL

2. "Close Reading and Civic Engagement," Derek Furr, Bard Coll.

3. "Translation Theory as a Close Reading Technique," David Wiseman, Brigham Young Univ., UT

 B."Who Defines College Readiness?: The Common Core Standards and the Future of English Studies," scheduled for Friday, January 9, 8:30-9:45

Presiding: Patricia Howell Michaelson, Univ. of Texas, Dallas; Donna L. Pasternak, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Speakers: Barbara L. Cambridge, National Council of Teachers of English; Elizabeth Gonsalves, Abington High School, MA; Kelly Mays, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas; Louann Reid, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins; Catharine Roslyn Stimpson, New York Univ.

Session Description:Stakeholders discuss the role of university faculty members in addressing the CCSS. How will the CCSS affect both literature and English education majors? Do the concepts of reading taught in the CCSS prepare students for college-level work? What is missing from the CCSS? How can we reach out to colleagues in secondary schools to support their work in preparing students for college?

C. "Reading Complexity, and the Common Core" is scheduled for Saturday, January 10, at 10:15 until 11:30.

Presiding: Margaret W. Ferguson, Univ. of California, Davis

1. "The Common Core: Are Forensics Enough?" David Steiner, Hunter Coll., City Univ. of New York

2. "The Common Core and the Evasion of  Curriculum," John David Guillory, New York Univ.

3. "The Many Colors of Complexity," Michael Holquist, Yale Univ.

Session Description:As the Common Core State Standards are about to be implemented nationwide, several aspects of the guidelines remain controversial. Framers of the new program have insisted they are aware improvements might be made, and they have asked for broader discussion. In the materials devoted to the English language arts standards in the Common Core, no subject is addressed at greater length than "complexity," particularly as it relates to reading. This session explores that concept from a range of perspectives and aims to foster discussion among secondary school and college teachers in the MLA about strengths and weaknesses in the Common Core as it goes forward.

This is how MLA describes itself and its mission:

With over 28,000 members, "The Modern Language Association promotes the study and teaching of languages and literatures through its programs, publications, annual convention, and advocacy work. The MLA exists to support the intellectual and professional lives of its members; it provides opportunities for members to share their scholarly work and teaching experiences with colleagues, discuss trends in the academy, and advocate humanities education and workplace equity. The association aims to advance the many areas of the humanities in which its members currently work, including literature, language, writing studies, screen arts, digital humanities, pedagogy, and library studies."

I'm happy to see some English Education professors, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and Conference on English Education (CEE) members, and K12 teachers in the panels. I've sent word to Dr. Pasternak that it would be great to see MLA offer resistance against CCSS, but I worry that won't happen. 

I've talked about my concerns about how CCSS could be a boon to college English Departments *before* and encourage all practicing K12 English teachers to contact these speakers to let them know your thoughts on CCSS. 

As well, MLA hosts a K16 Education Committee which has been discussing the Common Core and how to deal with it, and its members, many presenting at the conference this week, should receive input from teachers who deal with current ed reforms every day. 

When it comes to current education reform, MLA makes a powerful ally or a formidable impediment based on its members' possible actions. And if the organization were to issue formal policies regarding CCSS, those courses of action could affect thousands of teachers and hundred of thousands of kids -- maybe for the better; maybe for the worse.  

A word of disclosure: I'm a former member of NCTE, CEE, and MLA. Much of my worry about MLA's possible stances regarding CCSS come from my frustration with NCTE and CEE's recalcitrant lack of formal resistance to the standards. 

As well, while there are many excellent teachers who are members of MLA, the organization is more the domain of the literary-minded than the pedagogically-centered, more a humanities organization than a social sciences/education one, a group most-likely with more higher education professionals than K12 teachers in its membership. 

So, if you're a K12 teacher troubled by "higher status higher-ups" making teaching decisions for you, you might want to take note. 

 Furthermore, while I want to speak delicately, let me say that one of the ways I  -- a former English Education professor (and K12 teacher before that) --  used to judge whether my professorial colleagues in college English Departments were truly good teachers is if I thought they came to class sincerely concerned with their pre-service education students *and* the future K12 students those students would teach. 

Did they teach with urgency, high expectations, passion and responsibility based in knowing their students would walk into schools every day concerned that scores of children under their teacherly stewardship had eaten the night before? Did they care at all or even consider their students' students' hunger and lives?

I can say my experience in finding English professors who I felt met that criterion has been disheartening. But, maybe I just wasn't working in the right departments. 

At any rate, just in case there is any possibility of folks at the convention developing an "English education is too important to leave to English educators and K12 English teachers" attitudes, I encourage you to let your voice be heard. 

I don't mean to fear monger, but rather to spread awareness that what MLA does regarding ELA  matters and can have significant impact on K12 English Language Arts teaching. So, awareness, attention, and vigilance are required, at the least. 

Further, if anti-ed reform ELA teachers can make some new allies, a little effort via "Howdy neighbors" and "I know you're interested in this; let me tell you how it affects me and my students" now is worth the payoffs. Education is where the humanity in the humanities must manifest, and all that. 

Email the panelists and moderators. Tweet @MLACommons. Make use of the #MLA15 hashtag. Notify the Badass Teachers Association of what is happening with ed reform measures and MLA. Make some in-roads, some new freinds, and, hopefully, some new allies in the fight against Common Core's intrusive and unnecessary transformation of English Language Arts teaching and curricula.