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Fwd: Recruiting Mass. teachers (fwd)

This is not really about recruiting teachers, but is Anne Wheelock's succinct
and useful summary of the dismal recent history of "school reform" via the
board of ed in Mass. It should be somewhat "instructive" also to non-Mass
folks. Monty

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Date: Mon, 01 Feb 1999 08:57:46 -0500 (Eastern Standard Time)
From: evangeline stefanakis <evangeline_stefanakis@gse.harvard.edu>
Reply-To: Evangeline_Stefanakis@harvard.edu, Van_Stefanakis@harvard.edu

Dear Ann,
Your synopsis of our states' new wave is awesome to
read when it is summarized in one page. Is there anyway to
play back the tape via media so that the big picture can be
visible to the public.
I am not sure it is!
Van Stefanakis

On Fri, 29 Jan 1999 11:35:45 -0500 (EST) Clark Fowler
<rfowler@shore.net> wrote:

> This is sent via Bcc to the teacher test list.
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 09:19:33 -0500
> From: Anne Wheelock <wheelock@shore.net>
> To: Linda Darling Hammond <ldh@leland.stanford.edu>,
> Hank Levin <hank@stanford.edu>
> Dear Linda -- Unfortunately, I'm not all surprised at your description of
> what happened at Stanford.
> You asked how Massachusetts got to be this way. It first started with a
> Republican governor, William Weld, who personally had little interest in
> education but who pushed to change the composition of the MA Board of
> Education from an appointed board with rotating terms to an appointed board
> of nine members, all of whom were appointed by the governor at the same
> Once this provision was in place, Weld had the chance to appoint and all-new
> board. Of those he appointed, he made John Silber of BU the chair and added
> Silber's Dean of Education Ed DeLattre. Both have contempt for teachers.
> (Remember our recent discussion of Silber's claims of teacher IQs? This is
> very typical. You may also have read Delattre's commentary on education
> writing in Ed Week.)
> Then, Weld made further appointments from the state's right wing
> Heritage-affiliated policy group, the Pioneer Institute. These appointments
> included James Peyser, the Pioneer Institute executive director - a young
> Colgate BA, Tufts Fletcher School MA, never-a- teacher who is now in line to
> be Commissioner in Mass. I've heard Peyser make comments at board meetings
> in response to teachers' public testimony to the effect that you can't trust
> anything teachers say because they are part of the problem. He also said at
> one meeting I attended that "consensus is often the enemy of good policy."
> Other appointments included two who have worked as consultants for the
> Pioneer Instutite and/or teach part-time at Boston University. They are
> Roberta Schaeffer (prof. at Assumption College) and Abigail Thernstrom.
> Stanley Koplik of our Mass. Board of Higher Education, another conservative,
> was a sixth appointee. That made an easy majority for any new conservative
> policies.
> All this came to pass just as Massachusetts was working on curriculum
> frameworks and a state testing program. Frameworks developed through
> widespread teacher participation, led by Dan French, were re-written to look
> like the standards approved by the Fordham Foundation (see Dan French's
> article in Kappan, November 1998). The Board greatly relied on Sandra
> Stotsky's rewriting the English/Language Arts framework, for example. They
> are in total agreement with the view that the frameworks should *not* allude
> to pedagogy at all but should be full of content only. As a result, our
> frameworks are very difficult to implement and are full of lists of things
> student will know.
> The number of charter schools has been allowed to expand without much
> attention to equity, resulting in big problems (also see Nancy Zollers's
> Kappan article in December 1999 and Peggy Farber's article in Kappan from
> March 1998). The charters appear to be resegregating students (this is from
> my eyeballing the data, not a systematic analysis.) The thrust is very much
> toward competition and the market. I know someone at EDC who volunteers to
> work with the charter schools to develop a network so they could share
> successes, etc. She spoke with James Peyser at Pioneer (where the charter
> "technical assistance center" is located) who told her she didn't
> understand; that the idea was NOT to promote cooperation among charters, but
> to promotion competition. They fully expect,he said, that some will fail.
> He said nothing about kids' lives being disrupted as a result. Ideology is
> definitely more important than kids' lives in this arena.
> The board is threatening bilingual education (relying on Christine Rossell's
> research, of course) and special education.
> The state's ed reform law requires teacher testing. So we got a test, and
> Silber immediately over-stated the failure rate on teacher testing to create
> the impression that Mass. teachers are disasters, and they have done this on
> the basis of a test designed by a testing company that has a record of court
> battles and incompetence in other states (including California) and has yet
> to come up with a technical report on the test (after 4 administrations).
> Test scores on this test are to be used to certify teacher preparation
> programs, and this seems to appeal to people who tout "standards." The
> Board is oriented to policies they imagine will attract young students who
> are stars in English, history, math, the sciences and who would never have
> considered teaching without a $20,000 bonus. They DETEST schools of
> education, hence the situation you described at Stanford.
> Of course, the business community loves all this. The independent public
> policy groups are very business oriented, so there's not much of a peep from
> them, and the rest of us can barely get a forum for our ideas. (I got an
> op-ed piece in the Globe critiquing the top-down test-based accountability
> model a while back; then got trashed as an "educrat" -- ME!!! --- in a
> letter to the editor from a big business muck-a-muck a couple days later.)
> People who should know better - like Bob Schwartz of Achieve, Inc. -- and
> who have connections to the business community say nothing, at least not in
> public.
> All of this is in the context of a Republican administration and a Board
> chair who operates through disinformation, half-truths, and lies to bully
> anyone who disagrees with current policy. It also helps that the major
> press (mostly the Boston Globe) has totally bought the line that Mass. kids
> are dumb, and teachers are dumber. The editorial line on all of this has
> been largely supportive. And the reporters assigned are young, not local
> (they misidentifed a Brookline school as private when it is public), and
> don't seem able to deal with data at all. As a result, test scores as
> reported by the Department of Ed. are put out as "truth."
> There's also NO public attention on equity issues. There hasn't been a news
> report on dropouts for a couple years. Last year, Board pushed for and the
> legislature passed increases in funding for gifted programs, something
> Massachusetts has never stressed. We are seeing the Southernization of
> education policy in New England.
> We could have brought this to an end by electing a Democratic governor, but
> we didn't. So we are stuck with more of this for the next four years. It
> will get worse, I'm certain in ways you can imagine.
> There's more to tell, and more to come. There are people in Mass. trying to
> propose alternatives, but the right wing controls the discourse (just as
> they state is their purpose on their website). And as independent groups we
> need money we don't have. This is basically the story.
> Please do pass on any other reports you have from any other the other
> teacher recruiting meetings.
> Hope you're loving sunny California. Cheers, Anne
> At 11:39 PM 1/28/99 -0800, Linda Darling Hammond wrote:
> >Some of our teacher education students went to the Stanford recruitment and
> >left gagging. Seems our friends from Massachusetts don't want to offer
> >bonuses to Stanford Phi Beta Kappa grads who have also devoted additional
> >time and money to preparing to teach in an intensive graduate program.
> >They only want untrained teachers. I guess they're worth more when they
> >know less about kids, learning, and teaching. Bet they'll really be
> >something once they've had a couple weeks of whatever the Mass. Dept. of
> >Ed. is cooking up for training. How did massachusetts get to be this way?
> >
> Anne Wheelock
> wheelock@shore.net
> Boston, Massachusetts, USA

evangeline stefanakis

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