Sunday, July 31, 2011

Matt Damon's Speech from the Save Our Schools March

Education Week's Coverage of the SOS March

Education Week's Video Coverage of the Save Our Schools March on Wasington DC on July 30, 2011.

ReasonTV's Coverage of the Save Our Schools March

This is's coverage of the Save Our Schools March on July 30, 2011 in Washington DC. From

"On July 30th, 2011, teachers, parents and advocates such as actor Matt Damon, author Jonathan Kozol, and historian Diane Ravitch gathered for the Save Our Schools Rally outside the White House.

The purpose of the event: "To put the public back in public schools."'s Michelle Fields was on hand to talk tenure, the role of money in education, and whether parents should have the right to choose where their kids go to school.

Approximately 6 minutes."

Diane Ravitch's Speech at the Save Our Schools March

This is the speech that Diane Ravitch gave at the Save Our Schools March in Washington D.C. on July 30, 2011. It is about 8 minutes long.

Jon Stewart's Message to the Save Our Schools March

Jon Stewart from The Daily Show on Comedy Central delivered this short message to the teachers at the Save Our Schools March in D.C. on July 30, 2011. There is even a cameo appearance by Jonathan Kozol if you watch closely.

Kozol from the Save Our Schools March

This is Jonathan Kozol's speech from the July 30, 2011 Save Our Schools March in Washington D.C. The speech is about 12 minutes long and the creator of this video has put still photos from the march together as visuals for the event. Kozol is the author of Savage Inequalities and is an outspoken critic of educational inequalities in our country.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Chance to Teach Our Children

This fall we all have an important opportunity to teach our children. An essential component of education is the modeling of desirable behaviors including—respect for people with opinions that differ from our own, the discipline to consider both sides of an issue and being open to changing our beliefs once we learn a different perspective. (Incidentally, that is one of my many concerns with the rise of online and blended learning that is being promoted by many states, education corporations and educational think tanks—including here in Ohio. There are many things that we can learn by using computers; but there are many behaviors, attitudes and values that can only be learned through human interaction. Even as jaded as high school students appear on the outside, they pick up a lot of attitudes, values and life lessons from their teachers. But, I digress.)

This fall many states and local governments will have controversial issues on the ballot. In Ohio, for example, voters will have the opportunity to decide Issue 2, the referendum vote on the controversial Senate Bill 5, which limits collective bargaining rights for public employees including teachers, police officers and fire fighters and requires merit pay and personnel decisions for teachers to be based primarily on standardized tests. The opportunity to educate our children this fall is this: the responsibility that we all have to model the ability to engage in respectful and civil discourse as we debate and discuss controversial political issues—or to learn this skill as an adult for the first time if necessary.

Mean-spirited personal attacks, outrageous hyperbole, insidious innuendo and the like are not the methods of debate and discussion we should be modeling for our children. There is enough of that on the radio, on television and online already. The people who oppose Issue 2 in Ohio are by in large not lazy, godless communists who are trying to destroy America. They are people who are concerned about the unintended consequences of many of the provisions in the bill—for example, the increased use of standardized testing for the purpose of making personnel decisions about teachers’ employment and salaries, requiring a yet to be determined merit pay system for teachers that may or may not include parent evaluations or student evaluations and the potential de-professionalization of the already battered teaching profession.

And the people who support Issue 2 are by in large not right-wing fascists who are intent on taking over the world by crushing labor unions and gaining control of our nation’s education system to indoctrinate our children. They are people who think that teachers have too many collective bargaining rights, a performance pay system can be successfully implemented for teachers that will outweigh the costs and that this will improve educational outcomes for students. It is an issue about which reasonable people can disagree and the voters will have the opportunity to decide the issue this November.

So, as we move into this year’s election season let’s try to model respectful and rational discourse for our children. This will result in a more productive exploration of the issues and we all will have the opportunity to evaluate our beliefs and modify our position on the issues. Not only that, be we all have the opportunity to participate in teaching our children about respectful dialogue, and if more people played an active role in educating our nation’s children that would certainly improve educational outcomes. And who knows—we may learn something new by being open to that possibility and we may even gain a new friend in the process. So, here’s to hoping that we can have a rational and respectful discussion of the issues as we move into this year’s election season.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Truth About Teachers

For more information related to the video, see the chart below.

Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss
Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss The Truth About Teachers
Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss Teachers are overpaid.”
· According to the report, "What's It Worth: The Economic Value of College Majors" from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce funded by the Gates and Lumina Foundations, Education majors earned the least for all college majors among 15 sector groupings.
· According to a 2008 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), American primary-school educators spend 1,913 hours working a year including hours teachers spend on work at home and outside of the classroom. Data from a Labor Department survey that same year showed that the average full-time employee in the United States worked 1,932 hours spread over 48 weeks.  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss This statistic shows that teachers work about the same number of hours as the average worker in the United States. This statistic refutes the argument that teachers should be paid considerably less than other workers because "teachers only work 9 months of the year."
Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss It isn’t fair that teachers receive pensions.”
· Teachers do not receive Social Security. Teachers in Ohio, for example, have 10% of their pay deducted for their pensions and school districts contribute 14% of the teachers' salaries in the form of deferred compensation--much like how a corporation will match employee contributions to a 401k. Teachers accepted deferred compensation in the form of pensions and health care benefits in lieu of salary increases in the past when teachers' salaries never kept pace with the compensation of other college-educated professionals.

Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss We should at least cut back benefits for new teachers.”
·    According to McKinsey and Company report “Closing the Talent Gap,” to be on par with other high-performing nations high-needs schools in the U.S. would need to pay new teachers around $68,000 with a maximum career compensation of $150,000 per year. Research shows that teacher quality is extremely important to the success of our education system, so we need to attract and retain the most talented individuals to the teaching profession
Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss “Charters schools perform better than traditional public schools.
Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss
·   According to a 2009 Stanford University study, only 17% of charter schools perform better than public schools while 37% of charter schools perform worse
·   According to 2006 Ohio state report cards, 1 in 2 charter schools were either in academic emergency or academic watch, while only 1 in 11 traditional public school buildings were in academic emergency or academic watch
·   Three out of four public schools are rated excellent or effective, while only one in six charter schools are rated excellent or effective

Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss “Public schools need to operated like   businesses.”
•   Education is a public good that cannot turn away “inputs” (i.e. students and parents)  to the  “production process”
•   Our political system requires that every citizen is well educated to exercise their civic duties not just the wealthy who could buy a good education in a privatized system
Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss “We should pay teachers based on merit because this will encourage teachers to work harder and perform better.”
· Value-added formulas for teacher performance based on standardized test are not statistically valid and reliable. (Economic Policy Institute, New York Times, National Education Policy Center)
·  Merit pay systems for teachers have been tried in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Nashville where studies have shown that they did not increase student achievement (Mathematica Policy Research, Economic Policy Institute, National Educational Policy Center, Vanderbilt)
·  Value-added measures based on standardized narrow the curriculum and work against creativity, innovation and intrinsic motivation (Drive by Daniel Pink)
·  Requiring administrators to evaluate every teacher for at least 30 minutes twice every year will increase administrative costs and mean that more money is spent on administrative costs instead of less.
·  According to University of Washington economist Dan Goldhaber, about 60% of student achievement is attributable to non-school factors, such as family income and poverty—factors that the teacher cannot control
·  Research has shown that collaboration among teachers improves the quality of instruction, but merit-pay systems based on standardized test scores for the students of individual teachers creates incentives opposed to collaboration and cooperation
·  Merit pay based on standardized tests punishes teachers for working with students who have disabilities or are disadvantaged
Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss “If teachers aren’t satisfied with their jobs, they should do something else."
• According to a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, “A conservative national estimate of the cost of replacing public school teachers who have dropped out of the profession is $2.2 billion a year. If the cost of replacing public school teachers who transfer schools is added, the total reaches $4.9 billion every year.  For individual states, cost estimates range from $8.5 million in North Dakota to a whopping half a billion dollars for a large state like Texas. Many analysts believe that the price tag is even higher; hiring costs vary by district and sometimes include signing bonuses, subject matter stipends, and other recruiting costs specific to hard-to-staff schools. Others believe that the cost of the loss in teacher quality and student achievement should also be added to the bill.”

Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss “New legislation passed in states was just about balancing budgets.”

Teachers are being singled as a convenient scapegoat for economic problems caused  by the collapse of the housing market and corruption that was evident in corporations associated with America’s mortgage industry.

More Information Online:

Test Teacher

Greg Gower, whose wife Linda is the founder of Parents Across America-Spokane, wrote a song lamenting the direction that education is heading in America. Hopefully, many teachers around the country will still find the freedom to teach engaging lessons that provide students with meaningful learning opportunities to learn that also help them to perform better on standardized tests; but, this is certainly a concern of many teachers around the country.

Please Mr. President Listen to Me!

Linda Gower, founder of Parents Across America, Spokane, and her husband Greg created a video for the Save Our Schools March and Rally that will be held Saturday, July 30th, 2011.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Video to Promote Save Our Schools March

Doonesbury on Oppressed Groups in America

Doonesbury Comic from July 21, 2011:


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Anatomy of a Teacher


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

RIF Now-Pay Later

This video was created by the students and staff at Roy Romer Middles School in Los Angeles to oppose the 25% reduction in staffing caused by budget cuts. In the video you can see the talents of the students and teachers as well as the unity and quality of the relationships that exists between them. 

Illinois State Senator Shares Her Experience with Stand for Children

In this short video, Illinois State Senator Kimberly Lightford shares her experience with the political advocacy group Stand for Children. Her comments are then followed by excerpts of one of Stand for Children's Co-Founders, Jonah Edelman, explaining the group's work in Illinois.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do We Support Oppression and the Destruction of Our Environment Without Even Knowing It?

The Atlantic Monthly recently published an article raising the provocative possibility that our cell phones are fueling a brutal civil in the Congo. It is relatively easy in the United States to avoid thinking about such issues and hope "the market" will take care of such issues. Specifically, thinking that if this is a problem some advocacy group will take up the issue and do something about it. But as consumers we are an important actor in the market. If consumers purchase items at a given price, the producers assume that consumers are satisfied with the product as is. There is no reason for concern or financial incentive for the producer to change its behavior.

In the past, consumers could plead ignorance and argue that there was no way for them to be aware of all of the implications of the production processes used to provide the products that we consume. But now with ubiquity of the Internet it is much more possible to be aware of these issues.

The American market is such a large market that the decisions that American consumers make producer ripple effects and unintended consequences around the globe. I fear that many of the products that we thoughtlessly consume in America support the degradation of the environment, diminish sustainable development, supply profits to human traffickers and lead to the oppression of people around the world. Once consumers become aware of such issues through media such as the movie "Blood Diamond," which brought attention to the issue of "conflict diamonds," they seem to care about the problem and want to do something about it. Unfortunately, our commitment to changing our behavior from what is convenient is not always very strong. And we do not often put in the effort necessary to try to educate ourselves about the unintended political, economic and social consequences of our decisions as consumers. I fear that many of us are unintentionally providing tacit and implicit support for groups and actions that we do not want to support.

We cannot expect every consumer to be omniscient and aware of the source of all inputs and labor practices used to create the products we enjoy. But with the power of the Internet and social media, we can all try to do a better job of educating ourselves about the labor conditions and the impact of production methods on the environment around the world.

Read the article from the Atlantic Monthly:
"Is Your Cell Phone Fueling Civil War in Congo?"

A Debate about Tenure for University Professors

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Reformer" Explains How Teachers' Unions in Illinois Were Taken Down

Jonah Edelman Co-founder of Stand for Children talks in detail about how they came to Illinois with the express purpose to take down the teachers unions. He revels in the fact that the general public was unsuspecting of the tactics being used against the teachers of Illinois and if they had it would have been unpalatable . He talks about how he worked to divide and conquer the teachers' and how the Illinois teachers association president went to work for Arne Duncan at the U.S. Dept of Ed. shortly after the talks were settled.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Why US Education Deserves Our Praise and Funding

John T. Harvey, an Economics professor at Texas Christian University, recently posted an excellent post to his Pragmatic Economics blog from Forbes. Here is an excerpt from that post:

"My immediate motivation for addressing this issue is the fact that over July 15-16, my wife, Melanie, and I will be attending the Save Our Schools conference in Austin. She has been a 4th grade teacher in Everman, Texas for 18 years, and I don’t know anyone who works harder than she does. I always tell people that she is the one with the real job. She gets up at 5:30am every morning, leaves the house about the time the kids and I are rising, goes in early to work to get things ready for the day, spends the school hours teaching lessons about mathematics, literature, science, civics, citizenship, friendship, achievement, disappointment, dedication, right, wrong, pride, humility, and more, and stays late to organize materials and set up special projects. During any given day, she may serve as instructor, mentor, counselor, intermediary, motivator, nurse, and disciplinarian. When she finally comes home around 5:30pm or 6:00pm, there are often papers to grade, parent calls to make, lesson plans to write, or other required (if not always important) tasks. To those looking for a cushy 9:00 to 3:00 job, this ain’t it. If it weren’t for the summers, when she finally gets to recharge her batteries and spend some quality time with the rest of the family, I would have begged her to quit years ago. Incidentally, she used to be a very successful (record-setting, in fact) office manager in the private sector. So much for, “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.”

Melanie’s experience does not appear to be unique. Data from 2008 indicate that hours spent by teachers on instruction is higher in the US than in any other OECD country. And Christiana Stoddard and Peter Kuhn (2008) found that, since 1983, teacher on-the-job hours have increased by roughly one hour per week, while after school time devoted to work has jumped by 34%. It is also common for teachers to spend a not insignificant amount of their own money on materials for their students and there are at least a few training sessions they are expected to attend during the summers (on their own time).

One might interject here that there are plenty of jobs where the employees work long hours. Quite right. But teachers aren’t asking for our pity, only our respect. And this is something they sorely lack."

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