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.*



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Epiphany!: What if There's a Market for Ed-Reform Resistance When it Comes to Recruiting Teachers?

My twitter feed is abuzz with education reform news. Most of those I follow are connected to teaching in some way, and twitter has become my go-to resource for news and advocacy regarding the latest exigencies in public K12 education.

Today, a couple of links lead to a story about a Seattle, WA, high school with a faculty which has elected not to administer the Common Core State Standards SBAC test to 11-graders.

According to the Seattle Education blog,  "the Nathan Hale High School Senate, which functions as the Building Leadership Team typically made up of teachers, parents, staff and students, voted nearly unanimously not to administer the SBAC tests to 11th graders this year."

See why *here*.

Nathan Hale HS joins fellow Seattle-area school Garfield High in having a faculty willing to take a strong stance against useless-if-not-detrimental standardized testing. Truth in American Education *reports* last year GHS refused to administer the MAP test. 

Upon reading the news, I thought, "If I'm a young teacher looking for strong leadership and progressive bravery, or if I'm an established teacher looking for a new gig, Nathan Hale High School just moved to the top of my list of places to which to send applications!" 

What if..............

What if I'm not alone in those thoughts? What if there is a tangible benefit, beyond all the obvious ones, to be reaped from taking a stand against bad reform measures and testing? I mean in terms of marketing? If school district higher-ups are serious about finding the best teachers for their kids and realize the best teachers probably have the best interests of students in mind, and that that means resisting the same sorts of things the faculty already knows to resist, why don't they market their campuses as places where young teachers can start out with a strong voice an widespread support resisting current-era reform efforts? Where teachers in other schools -- in other states, even -- which are buying in to over-testing and privatizing standards can move and feel great about what they're doing every day?

If more schools follow the leads of Hale and Garfield and the word gets out, will those schools see an increase in interest from potential employers? If so, and other administrators take note, could resisting education reform measures we know aren't worthy of our kids become a means for schools to recruit teachers?

Wouldn't that be something....?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Help Defeat HR 5, the "Student Success Act" Which Has Nothing to Do with Student Success and Everything to Do with Profits and Limiting States' Rights

Please write your representatives to let them know you oppose H.R. 5, the "Student Success Act," education reform's equivalent of the Clean Air Act. The Network For Public Education has made it easy to do so *here*.

This *article* from the "What Is Common Core" blog helps explicate some of the worrisome content of the bill, which is detrimental to private schools, home schools, and public schools. Yes, the bill is that terrible.

Frankly, I don't think I've seen a bill that sweeps away states' rights under the guise of benevolent government control as thoroughly as this one does. While I've avoided making negative ties to socialism and the Obama administration for as long as the man's been president, this bill forgoes that form of governance and reads like a Communist takeover. Read it and tell me I'm wrong.

Seriously. I want to be wrong. 

On Deficits and Detriments

"Public Schools Aren't Failing," reads the headline of this *article* from the Charlotte Observer, which points to two recent studies indicating much of corporate education reformer rhetoric regarding the need to overhaul America's community schools is dishonest. 

Studies from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Horace Mann League, working with the National Superintendents Roundtable, suggest things are not as gloomy as some politicians and profiteers seek to make them.

Read more here:

"The takeaway is simple. Our middle-class and wealthy public school children are thriving. Poor children are struggling, not because their schools are failing but because they come to school with all the well-documented handicaps that poverty imposes – poor prenatal care, developmental delays, hunger, illness, homelessness, emotional and mental illnesses, and so on."

It's this quote on which I'd like to focus. This article suggests social, cultural, and financial deficits are hurting American children. Yet some say we can't buy into deficit thinking without making things worse.

Look, accepting as FACT that some kids could come to school LACKING is not deficit model thinking. It's acknowledging realities or possibilities of realities. Jon lacks food in his stomach. Mutumbo lacks housing. Contessa lacks empathy at times. These facts may affect their schooling experiences.

Assuming that all kids who meet certain criteria automatically must be stricken with the same deficits and assuming they do not bring other valuable cultural and critical capital, surpluses even, is closer to dangerous, actual deficit model thinking, but I'd say even that isn't really the proper term for it.

The more accurate and more worrying phenomenon is "DETRIMENT model thinking" in which teachers assume deficits across an array of individuals based solely on demographic information and assume actual and presumed deficits are accompanied by nothing of value which students and teachers can build from to help address actual deficits and that said deficits are so harmful to the students there's no way a school community can work to help students fill in whatever gaps they may have (this would be a "double indemnity deficit model" of thought, right?).

Detriment model thinking is doubly-doubly dangerous when teachers assume that students from more comfortable socioeconomic strata do no come to school with their own deficits but only culturally pre-approved strengths and values, therefore they don't need attention or development work.

We shouldn't over-correct regarding deficit versus detriment. As always, we need to avoid actions based in either/or thought. Maybe every kid isn't a genius in their own way, perfect little beams of sunlight who just need to be admired and loved. But they're not quagmires with no possibility of improving their station either (though, socioeconomically, there's some evidence to suggest bootstrapping happens a lot less often than we like to believe).

Why not come to work every day assuming only that EVERYONE has things on which they need to work, even deficiencies they need addressing, AND has a plethora of capital upon which to build strengths already there which they and their community may be able to develop to help them fill in whatever gaps they might have? Not sure how that feeds a hungry body, but maybe it feeds a hungry soul?

Acknowledging actual areas in which a child's life is lacking is not deficit model thinking.

I just ask if you have a moment to consider the nuance of deficits and detriments when it comes to education.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Open Letter to Obama from Education Researchers Says, "NCLB Needs Less Testing When Rewritten"

According to Valerie Strauss, "More than 500 education researchers around the country have signed an open letter  to Congress and the Obama administration about how the No Child Left Behind law should be rewritten, saying that they 'strongly urge departing from test-focused reforms that not only have been discredited for high-stakes decisions, but also have shown to widen, not close, gaps and inequities.'"

If you are an education professor or researcher, you can add your signature to the letter by February 20, 2015. I did. I word about that:

For some reason, I'm listed as such:

"James Bucky Carter, Ph.D., Independent Scholar, Formerly of Washington State University, Pullman, and the University of Texas at El Paso Dean, The Graduate School of Education, The University at Buffalo, SUNY."

I fear my input might have merged with another signer. So, just to clarify, I am not a Dean at UTEP or at SUNY, nor have I ever been employed by any SUNY entity, to my knowledge. Not that I have anything against SUNY, though. Indeed, I still regret not taking a position offered at one of their fine campuses a few years ago. 

Click *here* to read the full story, see many of the researchers who have signed already, and to follow a link to the letter and then add your signature and credentials. 

Hopefully the correct affiliations will publish. ;)