Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Happy Birthday, César! Remembering César Chávez's legacy on his birthday - James C. Harrington #EdBlogNet @idraedu

Happy Birthday, César!

Remembering César Chávez's
legacy on his birthday

Rio Grande Guardian
The Monitor
El Paso Times
Austin Statesman

by James C. Harrington
Director, TCRP

Today is the birthday of César Chávez, the farm labor leader who dedicated his life to improving the wages and working conditions of agricultural workers -- one of the country's poorest and most exploited groups of laborers -- many of which are found in Texas.

Not only did Chávez lead the historic non-violent movement for farm worker rights, but he inspired thousands who never worked in agriculture to commit themselves to social, economic and environmental justice and civil rights in their own communities.

South Texas Civil Rights Project marches for Cesar

His impact is reflected in the commemorative or optional holiday designated for him in 11 states and in the parks, cultural centers, libraries, schools and many streets that carry his name in cities across Texas and the United States. In Texas, March 31 is an optional state holiday, which many community-based organizations honor.

Chávez knew well the hard life of farm laborers. He had to leave school after eighth grade to work in the fields as a migrant to support his family. Although he had limited formal education, he had impressive intellectual curiosity, read widely throughout his life and constantly educated himself.

After returning from the U.S. Navy, Chávez coordinated voter registration drives and campaigns against racial and economic discrimination; but he really wanted to build an organization to protect and serve farm workers, whose lives he had shared at a young age. So in 1962, he helped found the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers of America.

The union helped achieve dignity, respect, fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits, humane working conditions and other protections for hundreds of thousands of farm laborers -- and won the first industry-wide labor contracts in American agriculture.

Chávez believed and emplored the peaceful tactics of Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which included fasts, boycotts, strikes and pilgrimages. People felt his love, and in turn, showed him their love. I saw this repeatedly while working with him.

When he died in 1993 at age 66, more than 50,000 people of all walks of life marched in his funeral procession under the hot sun in Delano, California.

Austin marches for Cesar

In Texas, his impact extended far beyond the thousands of farm workers. His efforts helped to open the doors of colleges and universities for the Hispanic community and thus improved economic and political opportunities for them.

His life was not limited to a single cause or struggle. He was a unique leader who inspired individuals to work for social justice and civil rights for poor people. He did this by forging a national coalition of students, middle class consumers, trade unions, religious groups and minorities.

We do not measure Chávez's life in material terms. He never owned a house or earned more than $6,000 per year. Rather, we measure his life as a person who worked for equality, justice and dignity for all Americans and who inspired thousands of others to do the same.

We celebrate his birthday today, not just to honor him, but this should also be a day on which to re-commit ourselves to make our communities, our state and our country a better place for our children and grandchildren. 

Majority of Black Americans Are Living through Worst Economic Conditions by Phillip Jackson #EdBlogNet @idraed

Majority of Black Americans Are Living through Worst Economic Conditions

by Phillip Jackson
(Sri Lanka) Welcome to America, where Black Americans are more likely to be under-educated, unemployed and imprisoned than their White peers; where Black Americans, in general, have significantly less wealth, dramatically lower-quality housing, much poorer nutrition and sub-standard medical care. This is an America where Black people remain relatively silent while these conditions and a raging economic genocide, eliminates them, their children and their grandchildren from ever participating in the American mainstream!
Recent economic, wealth and employment reports confirm what much of Black America already knows: We are in serious TROUBLE and multitudes of Black people exist in deep poverty. Many Black people in America are not just poor by American standards; many of us are third-world poor. Black Americans are in an economic free-fall with no fiscal backstop. Many Black Americans will live their entire lives without ever having a positive net worth. Most Black people today who work are like “sharecroppers”, men and families who did most or all of the work on a farm, but seldom earned enough to pay their debts and never owned anything of value.
While many economists praise the American economy with talk of low unemployment, record- housing starts and a booming GNP (gross national product), none of this tells the real story of the devastated Black economy within America. Recent data from the Pew Research Center shows the median wealth of Black households dropped an astonishing 34 percent from 2010 to 2013 while that of White households grew, albeit slightly, over that same period.
Pew’s research shows that when automobiles and other durable goods are included, the net worth of White families was $141,900 in 2013 while the net worth of Black families that year fell to $11,000, down from $19,000 in 2007. This means that two years ago White families had 13 times the wealth of Black families in America, a 24-year high for the wealth gap.
But it gets much worse! When you remove vehicles and other durables from the equation, according to New York University economist Edward Wolff, the median Black family worth is just $1,700 (while 40 percent of Black families have zero or negative wealth). The median White family worth (without durable goods) is roughly 69 times more than that of Black families, or about $116,800.
And worst of all, the sad reality is that liquid wealth is largely non-existent within Black families. Liquid wealth is the money used to pay bills, buy food, pay the rent and cover emergency situations. In 2011, the Center for Global Policy Solutions in a report entitled Beyond Broke, showed the median liquid wealth of Black Americans as only $200, compared to $23,000 held by Whites.
More than $100 billion might have been extracted from Black American communities during the recent recession according to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending, Foreclosures by Race and Ethnicity. That money left the bank accounts, housing accounts and pockets of Black people and went somewhere else. While few people are searching for where that $100 billion went, it is almost certain that it will never come back to those Black families. This economic carnage of the Black American economy constitutes a kind of “financial rape” of the African American community, similar to the devastating effects of colonization to the African continent. Black Americans might never recover. Never!
Higher education, once the reliable key to moving from low-income to middle-income status, is no longer an option. The portals that lead away from poverty, crime and despair have closed tight. Generational poverty is inextricably intertwined with race. Hope for breaking the poverty cycle diminishes as generations of Black children are born into inescapable poverty. Many more Blacks in America are slipping into a third-world status—from poverty to deep poverty.
Black America cannot wait for the government, foundations and universities to save us. Annually, Black Americans generate about $1 trillion within the U.S. economy. We must take control of our financial resources and improve Black personal finances, our family wealth and our communities’ economies. Although life might be good economically in America, the majority of Black Americans are living through the worst economic conditions in modern history!
1. Start your own business. By starting your own business, you can hire family, friends and community members.
2. Get as much formal education as you can. It usually translates into higher income.
3. Stop renting an apartment. Save enough money to make a down payment on a house. Then buy a house.
4. Get married! Two-person-headed households are more viable economically. Marriage can be an economic advantage when both parties are aligned on financial priorities and share similar fiscal visions.5. Open savings accounts for your children, teach your children the value of money and have them take personal finance classes.6. First, invest your money and your time in your skills, your knowledge base and your self-improvement. Second, learn how to let big companies work for you rather than you only working for them through stock ownership. And third, invest your money in the U.S. and other global stock markets.
7. Manage your credit carefully and avoid unnecessary debt.
8. Create a living strategy that includes good nutrition, plenty of exercise and proper rest so that you might live a long and healthy life. Health is wealth!
9. Contribute to your faith-based institution and invest in a social organization or social cause.
10. Create a will or trust to pass on your accumulated wealth.
Phillip Jackson is founder and executive director of The Black Star Project in Chicago.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Short, Pithy Video Graphically Critiques Vouchers and Tuition Tax Credits #EdBlogNet #VoucherVampires

Short, Pithy Video Graphically Critiques Vouchers and Tuition Tax Credits
We worry more about the widespread scandals in charter schools these days when we talk about privatization of public education, but voucher programs, begun in a big way in Milwaukee 25 years ago, have been steadily increasing in number across the states. In a  short, informational video, the Southern Education Foundation explains how private school vouchers and closely related tuition tax credits are robbing public schools across the states of the funds public schools need to serve all children.
I urge you to watch the video and send it to others. Watching it takes only a couple of minutes.
The graphic presentation shows where vouchers and tuition tax credits are popping up in state legislatures, summarizes the ways vouchers rob needed public funds, and defines lesser-known tuition tax credits as vouchers in disguise.
The Southern Education Foundation’s video emphasizes the growth of vouchers and tuition tax credits across the South, but they are popping up all across the United States.  The NY Times reports that Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo included tuition tax credits in his state budget proposal, although the idea appears to have been dropped (for now) because Cuomo was unable to garner adequate support.  In Pennsylvania, Bobby Kerik, reports for thePittsburgh Tribune-Review that there is currently bi-partisan support in both houses of the legislature for expanding two already-existing tax credit programs.  The first gives businesses “a tax credit—a reduction in actual taxes paid—if they designate money to any of 1,270 approved organizations with an educational component.” The second, the Pennsylvania Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program, gives tax breaks to businesses  for contributing money for “tuition assistance to students residing within the boundaries of a low-achieving school who wish to attend another school.”  The bill currently being discussed in the Pennsylvania legislature  would expand “the combined budget for the two programs from $150 million in tax credits annually to $250 million annually.”
Vouchers and tuition tax credits fund private and parochial schools while undermining the public system, which is more likely to distribute opportunity for all children, not just for some.  Although it is often assumed that private schools are accountable to the market, vouchers and tax credits support schools that may be neither transparent nor accountable. In a public system it is possible to pass laws to protect the needs of all groups of children including students learning English and children with disabilities and to protect children’s rights.
The political philosopher Benjamin Barber explains the difference theoretically: “Privatization is a kind of reverse social contract: it dissolves the bonds that tie us together into free communities and democratic republics.  It puts us back in the state of nature where we possess a natural right to get whatever we can on our own, but at the same time lose any real ability to secure that to which we have a right.  Private choices rest on individual power…. Public choices rest on civic rights and common responsibilities and presume equal rights for all.  Public liberty is what the power of common endeavor establishes, and hence presupposes that we have constituted ourselves as public citizens by opting into the social contract.” (Consumed, pp. 143-144)
Watch this new little video.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Critique of Congressional Budget PlansThis week (3/27/15) from off the charts Off the Charts #EdBlogNet #idraed

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the congressional budget plans, federal and state taxes, health, and housing.
§  On the congressional budget plans, Robert Greenstein pointed out that despite Republicans’ anti-fraud rhetoric, the House and Senate budget plans leave out funding for “program integrity” activities that are proven to save money. David Reich noted that the plans have no plans to fix sequestration’s tight constraints on non-entitlement programs and described how both plans will dramatically cut transportation infrastructure funding.  Richard Kogan revealed that the plans each get 69 percent of their cuts to non-defense spending from programs that serve people of limited means.  Isaac Shapiro found that the plans would ultimately cut programs for low- and moderate-income people by about 40 percent.  Jessica Schubel described the Medicaid cuts that the House budget plan could force states to make.  Brandon DeBot explained how the House budget plan’s deep cuts to Pell Grants would reduce college access for low- and modest-income students.  Douglas Rice described how the House and Senate budget plans fail to fully reverse the loss of 100,000 housing vouchers due to the sequestration budget cuts.  Shannon Spillane translated the language congressional Republicans are using to make their budget plans sound benign and even positive.  We also updated our congressional budget roundup with everything you need to know about the House and Senate plans.
§  On federal and state taxes, Chuck Marr explained why the House Ways and Means Committee bill to repeal the federal estate tax on inherited wealth would create more inequality and bigger deficits and pointed out House Republicans’ misguided priorities in backing estate tax repeal. Michael Mitchell described how major tax-cutting states are looking to cut their higher education budgets further to patch their budget holes.
§  On health, Edwin Park highlighted a bipartisan House bill that permanently fixes Medicare’s flawed physician payment formula, extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2017, and makes permanent the Qualifying Individuals program, which provides premium assistance for low-income recipients. Jesse Cross-Call described how extending CHIP funding would ease pressure on states as they formulate their budgets for the next fiscal year.
§  On housing, Will Fischer explained why the Senate should quickly approve a House-passed measure to streamline rental assistance for people with fixed incomes.
This week, we released papers on the congressional budget plans’ disproportionate cuts in programs for people with limited means, proposed cuts to Pell Grants for higher education, the compromise to fix Medicare’s physician payment formula and extend CHIP, and how the Obama budget restores housing vouchers. We posted a fact sheet on  big cuts in state income taxes not yielding promised benefits and a paper on state innovations in leveraging technology for health and human services.  We updated our reports on eliminating the estate tax and ten facts you should know about the estate tax. We also updated our backgrounders on unemployment compensation and the estate tax.
CBPP’s Chart of the Week – House, Senate Budget Plans Each Get 69 Percent of Cuts From Low-Income Programs:

Start Seeing Diversity – Conference 2015 – San Antonio, TX 3/27/15 IDRA > co-sponsor - Paula Johnson & Aurelio Montemayor presenters #EdBlogNet #idraed

Start Seeing Diversity Conference 2015

Barshop Jewish Community Center

Friday, March 27, 2015 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM (CDT)

San Antonio, TX

 Family Leadership in Education Workshop

Presenter: Aurelio Manuel Montemayor


Validate family engagement in education

Compare valuing and deficit beliefs within four dimensions of engagement

Apply the IDRA Principles of  Family Leadership in Education to present challenges

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sign up for Free Education News from IDRA Subscribe now for news and resources you can use to assure educational opportunity for every child.

Sign up for Free Education News from IDRA
Subscribe now for news and resources you can use to assure educational opportunity for every child.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Testing Resistance & Reform News: March 21 - 24, 2015 - Fair Test social media links March 24, 2015 #EdBlogNet

Fair Test social media links March 24, 2015

Senate Takes Up Bill Establishing Opt-Out Procedures
http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/03/23/arizona-bill-let-parents-opt-standardized-test/70322302/ #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Charter Schools See Rise in Test Opt Outs
http://www.fox21news.com/news/story.aspx?id=1179674#.VRBv35NLUZw     #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Testing: The Truth About Smarter Balanced
http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-The-truth-about-the-SBACs-6149232.php  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

District of Columbia
Test-and-Punish Policies Have Not Worked
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/turning-around-schools-requires-more-than-better-test-scores/2015/03/20/1d048326-c2af-11e4-9ec2-b418f57a4a99_story.html  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Assessment Reform Movement is Test for Jeb Bush Presidential Aspirations
http://www.wsj.com/articles/bush-faces-test-of-exam-policy-1426896426  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

State Senate Bill Would Examine Testing Fallout
http://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/21/senate-bill-looks-testing-fallout/25165959/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Georgia School Testing Still Does Not Make the Grade
http://savannahnow.com/column/2015-03-23/michael-moore-school-testing-still-not-making-grade  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Schools Drop Arts, Music for Testing
http://chicago.suntimes.com/news-chicago/7/71/457712/parcc-testing-school-art-music-canceled  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Educators Seek Three-Year "Hold Harmless" Period From Any New Test Evaluations
http://theadvocate.com/news/11898262-123/lae-favors-legislative-led-review-of  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Louisiana Parish Topped 15% Opt Outs
http://www.kplctv.com/story/28575974/cpsb-parish-leads-state-in-number-of-parcc-opt-outs  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

District Reports More Than 50% Opt Outs
http://bangordailynews.com/2015/03/20/news/midcoast/more-than-half-of-rockport-high-school-juniors-opt-out-of-new-state-test/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Maryland Test Study Commission Approved by Both Houses of State Legislature
http://www.wmdt.com/news/more-local-news/house-approves-bill-for-commission-on-standardized-tests/31965698  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Massachusetts Educators Explain How Testing is Undermining Learning and Teaching
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/23/elementary-school-teachers-how-parcc-testing-is-affecting-our-classrooms/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Parents Reject State Tests to Reduce Pressure on Kids
http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/03/24/much-pressure-kids-parents-reject-state-tests/70366374/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Kalamazoo College Goes ACT/SAT Optional
http://www.kzoo.edu/news/test-optional/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

New Jersey
Testing Obsession is Damaging Learning and Teaching
http://www.centraljersey.com/articles/2015/03/20/hopewell_valley_news/your_views/doc54ee27ba19f42569846335.txt  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Educators, Parents and Students Plan "Take Back the PARCC" Event
http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2015/03/22/Test-in-for-parents-teachers-finds-they-re-testy-about-tests/stories/201503210166  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

New Mexico
PARCC Protest at School Chief's House
http://www.koat.com/news/parcc-protest/31949350  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

New Mexico Teachers Question Times Devoted to Testing
http://www.sfreporter.com/santafe/article-10112-nea-disputes-parcc-testing-time.html  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

New York
Billionaires' Plan to Remake Public Education
http://www.thenation.com/article/201881/9-billionaires-are-about-remake-new-yorks-public-schools-heres-their-story#  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

New York Governor Uses Flawed Tests as Political Weapon
http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/opinion/valley-views/2015/03/21/flawed-tests-used-political-weapon/25099085/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

North Dakota
Opt-Out Movement Heats Up
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/education/opt-out-movement-heats-up-as-new-standardized-tests-loom/article_fe60d8f3-1265-5673-b873-4e3bd7a0d05d.html  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Superintendent "Profoundly Concerned About New Common Core Tests"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/20/ohio-superintendent-i-am-profoundly-concerned-about-new-common-core-tests/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Excessive Testing Consumes Learning Time in Ohio
http://www.chroniclebulletin.com/local/excessive-tests-crimp-lesson-time-ohio-teachers-say-h10327.html  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Teachers Slam Emphasis on State Tests
http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/local_news/teachers-slam-emphasis-put-on-state-testing/article_a0cbc3d6-d1e1-11e4-be1d-53c3240bd48d.html  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

House Passes Bill to Suspend Test Consequences for Teachers and Schools
http://www.opb.org/news/article/tests-wont-judge-teachers-schools-under-bill-approved-by-oregon-house/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Pennsylvania "Test In" Shows Parents, Teachers Question Value of New Exams
http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2015/03/22/Test-in-for-parents-teachers-finds-they-re-testy-about-tests/stories/201503210166  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Rhode Island
Districts Have Large Numbers of Opt Outs
http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150322/NEWS/150329749/1997/NEWS/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Common Core Tests Are a Failure
http://www.gazettextra.com/20150323/jason_stanford_common_core_tests_are_failures  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Texans Advocating for Meaningful Assessment (aka Mothers Against Drunk Testing) Powerpoint
http://dianeravitch.net/2015/03/24/texas-parents-act-out-against-high-stakes-testing/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

State Board Will Not Use Smarter Balanced Scores to Evaluate Schools This Year
http://www.reformer.com/news/ci_27738827/vermont-will-not-use-standardized-test-scores  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Virginia Governor Signs Bill Into Law Repealing A-F Grades
http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2015/03/23/virginia-governor-signs-into-law-repeal-of-a-f-school-grades/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Test Security vs Privacy in the Social Media Age
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/debate-over-test-security-vs-student-privacy-rages-in-the-age-of-social-media/2015/03/23/bbac030a-cf0c-11e4-a2a7-9517a3a70506_story.html  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

New Video "Defies Measurement" Available for Free
http://www.shineonpro.com/index.html  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Parents of Disabled Children Tell National Groups: "You Do Not Speak for Our Children"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/20/you-do-not-speak-for-our-children/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

"No Child Left Behind" Is a Cheats' Charter
http://www.newsweek.com/no-child-left-behind-cheats-charter-315557  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

The Cult-Like Religion of Corporate Ed Reform
http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-public-fools/2015/03/the-cult-like-religion-of-corporate-education-reform/  #EdBlogNet @Idraedu @FairTestOffice

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773  fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468

Webinar on Fostering Latino Family Education Leadership http://budurl.com/IDRAggt0415 Thursday April 9, 2015 – 1:00-2:30 p.m. CST – Free! #AllMeansAll

Webinar on Fostering Latino Family Education Leadership
Thursday April 9, 2015 – 1:00-2:30 p.m. CST – Free!

Webinar on Fostering Latino Family Education Leadership

Find out how you can foster Latino family engagement for leadership in education.  Panelists from six organizations from across the nation whose mission includes educational equity and access will share the story of their leadership development programs that have proven successful with Latino families.

Thursday April 9, 2015 – 1:00-2:30 p.m. CST – Free!

Panelists include: Dr. Maria S. Quezada, California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE); Richard Garcia, Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition; Patricia Ochoa-Mayer, Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE); Gina Montoya, MALDEF; Hilda Crespo, ASPIRA Parents for Excellence (APEX); and Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA.

This conversation will bring to light practices that are both authentic and also culturally and linguistically appropriate. Presenters will also describe successes and challenges in the work.


Shortened links for the webinar:
Registration page    http://budurl.com/IDRAggt0415
Web page      http://budurl.com/IDRAwebinar
Flier (pdf)       http://budurl.com/IDRAwbr0415

Monday, March 23, 2015

No, it is not wrong to celebrate Cesar Chavez Day! By Rodolfo F. Acuña #EdBlogNet @idraedu #idraed

No, it is not wrong to celebrate Cesar Chavez Day!
Rodolfo F. Acuña

In my last blog I made the point that it is becoming routine and even careless by venerating the dead instead of remembering how they changed our lives. This year’s Martin Luther King Holiday was a relief from what was becoming an excuse not to go to school. The reason for this is that it was tied to the heroic changing of the system by events such as Selma. It made me think what would our lives be without sacrifices of the people who were clubbed, mauled and attacked by ferocious dogs?

Similarly Cesar Chavez could have lived a comfortable life.  He had a promising career as an organizer for the Community Service Organization (CSO). Cesar sacrificed it all for a principle: promoting a life with dignity for farmworkers and their families.

The same applies to Christmas, what does it really mean? It is a day that we gorge ourselves with hormone laden turkey, making graveyards out of our stomachs. As a child I remember just wanting to get through the mass so I could rush home to unwrap my gifts that had very little meaning other than they were new.

Americans incessantly criticize Islam for being a fanatical religion, which is pure hypocrisy. The American Bigot is the most fanatically religious person in the world. He or she wallows in religion and acts pious. These same people have historically gone to church on Sunday and segregated their neighbors on Monday.

I wonder how many of them take seriously “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” If it had meaning they wouldn’t be fighting health care and would be calling for a single payer system like most advance countries enjoy. They would want quality and equal education for all children. As in the Middle Ages they would recognize that greed is a mortal sin and that money policies are usurious.

To preface this is the biblical saying “'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people,”  I do not think many Christians think about this when celebrating their mass. I do not think that Netanyahu thinks of all people about being his brothers and sisters that he is waging wars of extermination against.

How much different is the hypocrite from the sinner?  I doubt whether he or she thinks about it while hanging his/her head in prayer contemplating the bombing of a Planned Parenthood Center.

The only think that I was asking for my last blog is for people to THINK!  Look at David Bacon’s photos of farmworkers and their families and pictures of deportees and THINK of what is to be done. If you don’t THINK what value is there in going to church, going on a march venerating the past?

Most Americans are no different than Bull Connors or Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They hate whereas King and Chavez loved. They weren’t perfect, but they we doing something unlike most Americans who deny evolution or climate change.

We are not good people because we feed the poor on one day a year and then say nothing about taking away their food stamps.

If nothing else holidays should be a day of THINKING and dedicated to changing society.

Sunday, March 22, 2015



At a time when there is such extensive conversation around PARCC testing and teacher evaluations, especially in places like New Jersey, one area that hasn’t been explored as much is the impact on student teaching.
Essentially, the opportunity for field placement\student teaching in the spring semester has disappeared. While we as student teachers are still “in the classroom,” the opportunity to engage in what is at the core of student teaching is slowly fading away.
Teachers College at Columbia University describes student teaching as the following:
The student teaching experience provides pre-service teachers the space and opportunity to learn how to ask important questions about teaching and learning, come to know children and adolescents by observing and interacting with them consistently over time, apply newly acquired knowledge, theories, strategies and models in a variety of contexts within and across classrooms, and experiment with, design and adapt practice according to learners’ needs.

During the student teaching experience, pre-service teachers are guided and instructed by two key individuals – the cooperating or mentor teacher, and the university supervisor. While both work collaboratively to support the growth and development of the student teacher, each assumes a very specific role. 
Field placement\student teaching in the spring semester encompasses March and May – the testing window months of PARCC. I have heard stories of students who sit around all morning doing nothing because, well, their classes are testing. Often, those same classes are then doing lighter activities in the afternoon, even just watching movies. Students, especially in the younger grades, are coming home with no schoolwork of any sort, often reflective of the little to no work they are doing in school. One has to ask: when does all of this testing provide for the opportunity for student teachers to teach? The answer: it doesn’t.
Teachers across the board have expressed concerns over taking student teachers, especially with the potential impact on their evaluations (SGO’s\SGP’s\VAM’s of any sort). Understandably, teachers are nervous to hand over their classrooms in any capacity to someone with a lot less experience – and who is still just beginning their intense learning (as teaching and life are always about learning) – with the pressure and risk of evaluations, test scores, etc.
At the core of student teaching, in my mind, is the opportunity to make mistakes. Learning is about making mistakes. The best learning is messy. But in this time of high-stakes education, there is no room for mistakes. Aside from this, teachers are also strapped for time: between increasing class sizes, increasing amounts of useless paperwork, and the daily work of a teacher for their classroom, where is the time for mentorship? The answer: there isn’t.
Sure, this is not across the board. There are always going to be teachers who find a way to take student teachers and provide them with the best learning experience they can. But what we see happening here is no fault of the teachers: rather, it is a result of the “education reform movement” happening to our schools. Think about it: as it becomes harder and harder to find placements, and regulations on teacher education programs become stricter and stricter, it leaves more opportunities for groups like Teach for America to send their corps members into the classroom. They only have to commit for two years, schools can keep them low on the pay scale with the conveyer belt of teachers in and out of schools, and most importantly it’s a win for the privatizes who love groups like TFA.
Before the State Board of Education in New Jersey earlier this month were regulation changes to teacher education programs. One of the proposed changes was increasing student teaching to a full year, or two semesters. While in theory I think this is great – more experience in the classroom – I worry about the quality of that experience (we’re these regulations to pass and become practice). How much am I going to learn about teaching if I’m not, well, teaching? I won’t student teach for another few years by the structure of my program: what are classrooms going to look like then? I worry that I am going to miss the collaborative mentorship that is so crucial to the student teaching experience because of the testing, evaluations, and sheer commitment it takes for a host teacher, despite the aforementioned.
All I’m speaking about here are my personal experience and sharing some of the feedback I’ve gotten. I’m sure research would have to be done in some capacity looking at trends in student teaching over the years, etc. But the place to start is at least having the conversation? Why aren’t schools of education actively expressing concern over this? That’s a rhetorical question – I know the politics of it all. But we better start having the conversation before student teaching is taken over by the corporate model, too. This is a full blown attack on education from K-12 to teacher education programs\students to teachers themselves to retirees to the entire system.
I am in a teacher education program to learn about teaching, to be the best teacher I can be, and learn from the best that my mentor teachers have to offer me.
I am not spending five years getting my Master’s in education to become a test administrator.