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Re: letter to SacBee re Rhee



George, Priscilla and colleagues:

QEIA is a significant departure point in reframing this debate. The other is simply this: we should no longer concede any ground to Michelle and folks on the other side of this debate when it comes to raising a billion to move the message forward to the 2012 electorate and forces now at their apex against the teaching and learning community. Everything they have privatized since Reagan has to be taken back for the public and for the people. To concede that is to agree to the framing of their agenda. Furthermore, we should convince them it is against their interest to continue on that course.

Finally, I notice there have been more posts this past week in response to our friend Art. I have had him on Delete so he's not on my bs radar. Reading him again reminds me of the relationship between humans and mosquitos. It is good to be reminded every so often looking at the blood splattered on our hand it is our blood they have just sucked. Equally important is that like a mosquito, Art deserves his place in the food chain as Monty magnanimously contends, and we should all remind ourselves every so often to close the screen door and keep our conscience clean from splattering the scum.

Quan

Sent from my iPad

The moment is now.

J Krishnamurti

On Dec 18, 2010, at 2:10 AM, George Sheridan <learn@jps.net> wrote:

> At 08:05 PM 12/17/2010 -0500, Art Burke wrote:
>
>> Michelle Rhee believes what has been demonstrated to be true: that the quality of the teacher is as powerful a determiner of children's achievement than anything else connected to their schools. Tap dance around that.
>
> Not very elegantly stated, considering that Art has often shown he knows how to choose words very carefully. Still ...
>
> From the statement that teacher quality is important, one might reasonably draw the conclusion that we ought to recruit, prepare, support, and retain the best possible teachers. Michelle Rhee has instead made the argument that teacher quality being important, it must be teachers' fault if schools do not accomplish all we wish them to accomplish. The weakness of the reasoning is the reason Rhee needs a billion dollars for her lobbying campaign.
>
> Hearing a parade of pseudo-reformers from George W. Bush to Michelle Rhee present themselves as the champions of civil rights was frustrating for a while, but perhaps we should be grateful that they have agreed with us on two of three points. Many young people are denied equal opportunity and schools can play an important role in addressing this injustice. When it comes to the crucial question of how schools can be more effective, Rhee has little evidence of efficacy for her prescriptions.
>
> QEIA schools in California illustrate one successful model with an n greater than one. About one-third of California schools identified as failing by test scores in the three lowest deciles were given additional funding under the Quality Education Investment Act to lower class sizes, hire additional counselors and provide more teacher-led professional development and collaboration time. Schools were given some autonomy in deciding how to use these additional resources.To the extent that standardized test scores reflect anything about schools' success, results from the first two years show QEIA schools outperforming the control group by a wide margin.
>
> The program is funded for a total of eight years, long enough to provide some evidence on whether its effects are significant over time and sustainable.
>
>
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: George Sheridan <learn@jps.net>
>> To: arn-l <arn-l@interversity.org>
>> Sent: Thu, Dec 16, 2010 9:22 pm
>> Subject: Re: [arn-l] letter to SacBee re Rhee
>>
>>
>> On occasion, it can be a pleasure to point out Art's errors in facts
>>
>> and logic. There seems to be no record that any quantity of evidence
>>
>> or any argument, no matter how cogent, has ever led him to change his
>>
>> mind, which is why some people suspect he must be paid to spread his
>>
>> disinformation, and why others long ago quit responding to his
>>
>> messages. I have never attempted to guess his motivation, but it's
>>
>> clear that he has no scruples about twisting facts, misrepresenting
>>
>> statements and employing all the classic Aristotelian fallacies.
>>
>> That's part of what makes it so delicious when he is well and truly
>>
>> caught out. When families at Compton's McKinley School denounced the
>>
>> Parent Revolution petition, he blamed their actions on outside
>>
>> agitators. Then the local PTA weighed in. Will Art continue citing
>>
>> "Compton parents"?
>>
>>
>>
>> When Art writes that I "may believe that Michelle Rhee blames
>>
>> teachers," is he suggesting that she doesn't?
>>
>>
>>
>> Is he suggesting (as she does) that replacing current teachers with
>>
>> better ones would enable all low-income students to overcome the
>>
>> myriad of obstacles in their paths?
>>
>>
>>
>> The schools that Rhee stigmatizes as "dropout factories" tend to be
>>
>> racially isolated and to have high concentrations of poverty and of
>>
>> English language learners. Can those schools or the teachers in them
>>
>> make a difference? We hope so. For teachers who choose to remain in
>>
>> such schools, that's a major reason for their choice. But the
>>
>> pretense teachers can make all the difference is Dickensian in its
>>
>> heartlessness.
>>
>>
>>
>> Why would we not want to improve -substantially - the conditions of
>>
>> children's lives outside school? There are two reasons, really the
>>
>> two sides of the same coin: It will cost billions of dollars, and
>>
>> powerful interests oppose giving government the ability to raise and
>>
>> spend that kind of money.
>>
>>
>>
>> I believe, as Art writes, that Michelle Rhee is "a point-person for a
>>
>> coordinated attack designed to blunt criticism of society's failures
>>
>> by casting unfair blame on schools." But to believe what is obvious
>>
>> to any informed person not willfully blinded by special interests is
>>
>> not to fail children. To keep quiet, to go along, in the hope that my
>>
>> students' test scores will be high enough to shield me from criticism
>>
>> - that would be a betrayal of children.
>>
>>
>>
>> I teach students from a range of income levels - some whose families
>>
>> make quite a bit more money than I do and some who have no running
>>
>> water, live with grandparents because their parents are in prison, or
>>
>> move from place to place because their families can't come up with
>>
>> the rent. My school is a high quality school, not only because we
>>
>> have many excellent teachers but also because we have some parental
>>
>> support in the form of fundraisers and classroom volunteers. Having a
>>
>> stable faculty has enabled us to maintain a consistent program for
>>
>> students regardless of changes in administration. We also have that
>>
>> range of family backgrounds, so that students whose families cannot
>>
>> give them all the support they need benefit in many ways from being
>>
>> in the same classes with some who are more fortunate. Low income
>>
>> students who transfer into my school are usually far behind. If they
>>
>> stay long enough, we are often able to help them catch up. But they
>>
>> can't all stay. Some drift along like leaves blown by the winds of
>>
>> economic disaster. And if I, and all my colleagues from this
>>
>> excellent school, transferred en masse to one of those "persistently
>>
>> low-achieving schools" Secretary Duncan wants to close, without
>>
>> volunteers and fund-raisers and students from stable and secure
>>
>> families, we could not be nearly as effective as we are at our
>>
>> current school. We're already using all our strength and skill to do
>>
>> a good job. We really couldn't work much harder or smarter, and so we
>>
>> would fall short. If, in addition, we were subjected to an endless
>>
>> rotation of administrators attempting to impose the latest nostrums
>>
>> direct from Washington or Sacramento, it would be hard even to keep
>>
>> doing the things we currently do well.
>>
>>
>>
>> I do not argue that schools cannot improve until we totally reform
>>
>> our economy, but I am convinced that we can accomplish more for
>>
>> students in high-priority schools through improved child nutrition
>>
>> and library funding than through distractions such as the so-called
>>
>> Race to the Top. Union jobs for parents would do a lot for school
>>
>> attendance, discipline and graduation rates.
>>
>>
>>
>> At 11:25 AM 12/16/2010 -0500, Art Burke wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>> > You have it completely backwards.
>>
>> >
>>
>> >It's true that disadvantaged children achieve at lower levels than
>>
>> >advantaged children. That sad fact is the reason that ESEA came into
>>
>> >being in 1965. The reason NCLB came into being in 2001 was precisely
>>
>> >because civil rights groups, advocates for disadvantaged children,
>>
>> >and politicians of all persuasion grew tired of hearing that schools
>>
>> >can't make a difference until children's lives outside school are
>>
>> >substantially improved. That is exactly what you're arguing.
>>
>> >
>>
>> >We now have convincing evidence that disadvantaged children who
>>
>> >transfer to high quality schools achieve at higher levels than they
>>
>> >did before. Michelle Rhee knows this, civil rights groups know this,
>>
>> >liberal and progressive politicians know this, and the nation's
>>
>> >major news organizations know this. Compton parents know that. You
>>
>> >may believe that Michelle Rhee blames teachers and that she is a
>>
>> >point-person for a coordinated attack designed to blunt criticism of
>>
>> >society's failures by casting unfair blame on schools. Or you may be
>>
>> >just repeating stuff fed to you through your propaganda pipeline.
>>
>> >Either way you fail disadvantaged children.
>>
>> >
>>
>> >Art
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >-----Original Message-----
>>
>> >From: George Sheridan <learn@jps.net>
>>
>> >To: arn-l <arn-l@interversity.org>
>>
>> >Sent: Tue, Dec 14, 2010 6:22 pm
>>
>> >Subject: Re: [arn-l] letter to SacBee re Rhee
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >At 10:45 AM 12/14/2010 -0500, Art Burke wrote:
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >I guess you just forgot to identify yourself as a teacher and a
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >union official. Or maybe you just wanted to do your part for the
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >environment by saving newsprint.
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >Good point, Art. As soon as they give me as many inches of newsprint
>>
>> >
>>
>> >as they give Michelle Rhee (I currently get ten percent if my
>>
>> >
>>
>> >letter's printed at all), I'll be happy to say that I started working
>>
>> >
>>
>> >in public schools in 1968 and teach first and second grade full time.
>>
>> >
>>
>> >I'll tell how and why I became a union activist. (So far as I know,
>>
>> >
>>
>> >no one becomes a teacher in the hope of being elected local union president.)
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >Knowing that a letter was written by a teacher makes most readers
>>
>> >
>>
>> >more likely to believe it. But The Bee limits letters to fewer than
>>
>> >
>>
>> >200 words, so I concentrate on the most important ideas, as in these
>>
>> >
>>
>> >sentences from the most recent letter: "In our country, test scores
>>
>> >
>>
>> >correlate with zip codes. Schools in some neighborhoods struggle
>>
>> >
>>
>> >because children in those communities are suffering." And this:
>>
>> >
>>
>> >"Rhee's campaign to blame teachers distracts voters from the need to
>>
>> >
>>
>> >change the odds for students."
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >No conceivable change in the education work force is either necessary
>>
>> >
>>
>> >or sufficient to create educational opportunity for all. What is
>>
>> >
>>
>> >necessary is the kind of support for young people routinely provided
>>
>> >
>>
>> >in other wealthy countries.
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >Art Burke also wrote:
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >The malarkey that education reform a la NCLB promotes the interests
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >of corporations and not public education was exploded a few summers
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >ago when the nation's civil rights establishment rose up to oppose
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >legislation that would have weakened NCLB's accountability
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >requirements, the very same requirements that you claim are part of
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >the nefarious corporate agenda. That line of bull has lost teachers'
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >unions a huge amount of respect, so much so that teachers' unions
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >are now openly criticized by liberal and progressive politicians and
>>
>> >
>>
>> > >by civil rights leaders as a prime roadblock to improving schools.
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >I've been a civil rights activist since 1964. Can anyone count how
>>
>> >
>>
>> >many times over the years Art has written "the nation's civil rights
>>
>> >
>>
>> >establishment rose up ..."? As time goes by, this line rings more and
>>
>> >
>>
>> >more hollow, given that civil rights organizations today are part of
>>
>> >
>>
>> >the overwhelming consensus against NCLB.
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >Unlike Michelle Rhee's newest venture, that consensus grew
>>
>> >
>>
>> >organically as more and more people became aware of the reality
>>
>> >
>>
>> >behind the "civil rights" rhetoric.
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >George Sheridan
>
>
>
>
> George Sheridan