Archives for category: Education

The so-called education reform movement decided long ago that change could come only through confrontation. Teachers figured that out when the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, called Hurricane Katrina “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans”; seven years later the teachers union is washed away and the public schools are mostly charter-ized. They figured that out when the White House celebrated the firing of the entire teaching staff in Central Falls, R.I., because of students’ low test scores. And it became clearer to them when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York published teachers’ names alongside standardized test results of their students.

Now, finally, a unionized group of teachers has decided to meet this confrontation head-on.

If evaluating teachers based on standardized test scores is a bad idea for teaching and learning, then the Chicago Teachers Union strike is good for teachers and students. If small class sizes are good for teaching and learning, then the strike is good for teachers and students. For that matter, if air-conditioning is good for teaching and learning, then the strike is good for teachers and students.

Tying teacher pay, tenure and even employment status to standardized test scores corrupts the teacher-student relationship and inspires no one. This carrot-and-stick routine won’t retain great teachers, and may turn our best teachers into test prep tutors. Any experienced classroom teacher will tell you that punishments and rewards at best encourage obedience, but will not promote creativity, intelligence or initiative.

I taught in three different public schools in New York City. Where I was able to be my best depended as much on the class sizes, the conditions, the financing, the materials available to me, the support staff for teachers, the support for students and the climate created by administration, as it did on my own efforts and abilities.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “reforms” in Chicago will not improve any of those very important factors, and are deleterious to all of them. By confronting the mayor and standing up for things teachers and students desperately need to actually improve our schools, the union is likely to do more to retain the best teachers, and to help more teachers to do their best, than any merit pay scheme ever could.

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CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is on record saying both that CTU leadership is deciding whether or not to strike, and that “everyone knows that a strike would only hurt our kids.”

I just wanted to educate my boss a little on the history of Chicago, as he is relatively new to the area. Chicago is founded on the hard daily struggle of working people. It is the birth of the labor movement—not a movement just for wages and benefits, but a movement that stopped child labor so that each of the kids in CPS schools could attend school instead of working. It was a movement that stopped the practice of working conditions so unsafe that consumers were eating the actual workers who fell into the mix while they were making hot dogs. It was a movement that fought so that workers could have some tiny measure of time with our families rather than spending all waking hours working for the enrichment of their bosses.

But even more importantly, I wanted to educate Mr. Brizard about what it means to “help or hurt our kids”.
When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.

When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.

When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.

When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a “full school day” and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.

When you support Mayor Emanuel’s TIF program in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of school funds into to the pockets of wealthy developers like billionaire member of your school board, Penny Pritzker so she can build more hotels, that not only hurts kids, but somebody should be going to jail.

When you close and turnaround schools disrupting thousands of kids’ lives and educations and often plunging them into violence and have no data to support your practice, that hurts our kids.

When you leave thousands of kids in classrooms with no teacher for weeks and months on end due to central office bureaucracy trumping basic needs of students, that not only hurts our kids, it basically ruins the whole idea of why we have a district at all.

When you, rather than bargain on any of this stuff set up fake school centers staffed by positively motived Central Office staff, many of whom are terribly pissed to be pressed into veritable scabitude when they know you are wrong, and you equip them with a manual that tells them things like, “communicate with words”, that not only hurts our kids, but it suggests you have no idea how to run a system with their welfare in mind.

When you do enough of this, it makes me wonder if you really see our students as “our kids” or “other people’s children”.
And at that moment, I am willing to sacrifice an awful lot to protect the students I serve every day. I am not hurting our kids by striking, I’m striking to restore some semblance of reasonable care for students to this system. I’m doing to tell you, “No, YOU are the one hurting our children, and you need to STOP because what you are doing is wrong, and you are robbing students of their educational opportunities.

I ask anyone who does remotely care about the kids we teach and learn from and triumph and cheer and cry and grow with., to stand with us and fight for a better future for our kids.

See you on the picket line, my friend.

Mais alunos, menos professores

Tendo como objetivo analisar as condições de abertura e desenvolvimento do ano escolar 2012/2013 – mais alunos, menos professores e turmas gigantescas… –  e refletir sobre a situação social, política e económica do país e o seu impacto na Educação, tanto nas condições de organização e funcionamento das escolas, como no emprego e estabilidade dos docentes e na capacidade das famílias para que os seus filhos, com sucesso, frequentem a escola, a reunião do SN da FENPROF tomou também decisões sobre “a ação e a luta dos professores em defesa da Escola Pública e dos seus direitos sociais e profissionais”,  que estão, cada vez mais, a ser postos em causa.

Caracterizando a situação atual, Mário Nogueira alertou para a política de asfixia financeira que se abate sobre as escolas e para os números do desemprego a nível nacional (já são mais de 1 300 000 os portugueses sem trabalho) e entre os docentes, referindo os vários setores, do pré-escolar ao profisional e superior, do público ao particular e cooperativo, destacando, neste último caso, os despedimentos coletivos que têm sido provocados pelas entidades patronais.

Crato não conhece o balneário…

O dirigente sindical realçou os temas do desemprego docente e da instabilidade que marca a situação profissional dos docentes com “horário zero”, comentando assim algumas das declarações recentes do responsável do MEC: “Usando uma expressão dos meios desportivos, é caso para dizer que o Ministro Nuno Crato não conhece o balneário, ou seja, não conhece a sala de professores…”

“O ministro da Educação deveria ir a uma escola e tentar perceber qual é o estado de espírito dos professores, num momento em que nem sequer ainda começaram as aulas. Deveria perguntar aos professores o que pensam desta reforma curricular, o que pensam dos mega agrupamentos…”, disse.

“Ainda as aulas não começaram e já é visível o desgaste provocado aos professores”, registou Mário Nogueira, que afirmaria noutra passagem “Projetos nas escolas, para ajudar a combater o insucesso, são miragem… Só se houver “horários zero”. O resto é tudo cortado…”

Números do desemprego:
da fantasia à realidade…

“Onde é que estão os números fantasiosos do desemprego docente, de que falava o Ministro Crato? O MEC deixou de fora mais 40 por cento de professores. Isto é uma fantasia ou, infelizmente, um número bem real?”, interrogou.

Ainda a propósito de números, e da redução de alunos no sistema (14 por cento a menos nos últimos anos, segundo o Ministro), Nogueira sublinhou que “não é isso que dizem os números do GEP/MEC, mas mesmo que assim fosse como é que se justifica, em dois anos, um corte de 56 por cento de professores contratados, num cenário marcado também pela aposentação de cerca de 25 000 docentes desde 2006, com a entrada de apenas 396 docentes para os quadros…”

“Não há professores a mais. Foram, isso sim, tomadas medidas a mais para provocar esta situação de desemprego e instabilidade entre os professores”, acrescentou.

“Vincular” e mandar para rua?…

Nas declarações prestadas aos jornalistas presentes, Mário Nogueira chamou também a atenção para outra contradição do MEC de Nuno Crato: ao mesmo tempo que fala em vincular professores (garantia dada na Assembleia da República) fala da necessidade “inevitável” de reduzir o número de professores nos próximos anos…

O dirigente sindical lembrou que no setor privado quem tem três anos de casa fica efetivo e que o MEC mete na rua profissionais com 20 e mais anos de serviço e não com uns dias de trabalho, como disse o Ministro… “Não é assim que se deve tratar as pessoas. É precio respeitar estes profissionais”.

A clarificação das atividades letivas para os professores dos “horários zero” – “são todas as que envolvem o contacto direto com os alunos” – , a compensação por caducidade (“já vamos em 46 decisões dos tribunais”) e as ofertas de escola (“não pode ser um pronto a vestir, tem que respeitar as regras dos concursos”), são matérias, frisou Mário Nogueira, que a FENPROF quer apresentar  na reunião com o Ministro.

O Orçamento de Estado para 2013 é outra preocupação destacada pela FENPROF. Após cortes sucessivos nos últimos anos, perspetiva-se agora um nove corte na fatia para a Educação de 600 milhões. “Qualquer dia será preciso pagar taxas moderadoras para ir às aulas?…”

Ainda a propósito do OE, Mário Nogueira referiu-se à (também) difícil situação nas instituições do Ensino Superior, revelando que estão previstas, em breve, reuniões da FENPROF com o Conselho de Reitores e o Conselho Coordenador dos Politécnicos.

 

UConn researchers, backed by a $3 million federal grant, are beginning an ambitious project aimed at understanding why some urban schools are excelling in science education, research that could ultimately change the way the subject is taught around the country.

The five-year School Organization and Science Achievement Project, funded by the National Science Foundation, will examine science education not only in the classroom, but in terms of the entire educational environment.

John Settlage, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at the Neag School of Education and the principal investigator, says the idea for the project came from studying elementary science test scores. What was surprising was that certain urban schools in Connecticut were outperforming not only their city peers, but also many suburban schools.

That prompted researchers to look beyond what happens in classrooms to learn how successful science performance arises from systems of relationships. This includes examining all stakeholders, from the school principal to the lead science teacher, and even parents and volunteers who partner with the school.

“We’re taking an ecological view of science education,” Settlage says. “How we teach science is obviously important, but we should not ignore the bigger picture. The interactions among people throughout the school, including with the surrounding community, all contribute to children’s science learning.”

Settlage and his fellow researchers know many outstanding teachers and administrators. But they say that beyond personal traits, institutional factors are also influential in shaping a school’s science program. Once those factors for success can be identified, the information can benefit other schools seeking to improve.

“This is a solvable problem,” he says. “The superhero teachers and administrators don’t come from other planets. They came up through the system.”

Science has moved to the forefront of the public conversation on education. President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, emphasized the need to hire thousands more science teachers over the coming decade. At the state level, the economic vitality of Connecticut requires developing scientific literacy beyond just future engineers and scientists. Otherwise, if uneven success in schools continues, it will translate into unequal access to college and career options for some students. Settlage’s study promises to shed light on improving the quality of all children’s science experiences.

A multidisciplinary project, UConn researchers joining Settlage are educational statistics specialist Betsy McCoach; educational leadership experts Morgaen Donaldson and Anysia Mayer; and post-doctoral fellow Regina Suriel. The researchers are currently working to firm up arrangements with school districts, including Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport. In total, the School Organization and Science Achievement Project will involve 150 schools in Connecticut and Florida, where researchers at the University of Central Florida are collaborating with the UConn team.

Ultimately, the goal is to craft a set of recommendations about school leadership and organization practices that can be used by educators around the country, to help provide the kinds of school environment where science teachers and science students can thrive. These efforts will also inform UConn’s science teacher and school administrator preparation programs.

“You can be the best science teacher in the world,” Settlage says, “but if you’re not in the right environment and there is not solid leadership, then those problems will show on the science test.”

Low performance begins with American racism. Our society, Delpit writes, has a “deeply ingrained bias of equating blackness with inferiority,” and it “seems always ready to identify African Americans with almost all negative behaviors.” At tender ages, black students undergo a series of “microaggressions…small psychic insults” that debilitate them. Black males perform poorly because “our young men have internalized all of the negative stereotypes.” Sometimes black students are invisible, unnoticed, and disrespected, and sometimes they are “hypervisible,” their normal youth behaviors magnified into pathologies. They end up estranged from school culture (“disidentification”), mistrusting their own capacities and fulfilling belittling expectations.

Teachers misinterpret them again and again, Delpit alleges, mainly by disregarding the culture black students inhabit. This is the second cause of low achievement. The classroom is a white, middle-class space often hostile to African American norms. It downplays collaboration, she notes, even though these students need it to “feel more secure and less vulnerable.” It ignores past contributions to learning and science by African Americans. It neglects spirituality, whereas “traditional African education” incorporates “education for the spirit” into everyday lessons.

Delpit assembles classroom anecdotes, including her daughter’s experiences, with research on “stereotype threat” to prove the point. Voices of black students bespeak the demoralizing results, as with the middle schooler who announces, “Black people don’t multiply; black people just add and subtract. White people multiply.” On the other hand, Delpit provides counterexamples of success, for instance, Afrocentric assignments, inspiring teachers who love and sympathize but maintain rigor, and a beloved white teacher whom the students consider “black” for this reason: when asked “how he felt as a white man teaching black history…tears came to his eyes as he answered that when he learned about Emmett Till and other terrible things white people had done to black people, it sometimes made him ashamed to be white.”

Of course, tales and profiles and selective research don’t amount to proof, nor do they serve as grounds for policy revision. Delpit identifies a significant problem—the clash of school culture with African American out-of-school culture—but her racial lens casts it simply as one of respect and morale, not of effective education. She believes that the former produces the latter, for “African American students are gifted and brilliant,” and they would prosper if schools and teachers became sensitive to their culture.

But this translation of teacher sensitivity into student achievement is precisely what remains to be demonstrated. Delpit praises Afrocentric curricula, but her support focuses entirely on inputs and premises, not on outcomes. A unit that instills math by taking racial profiling as the subject wins her admiration, but her only evidence for its effectiveness comes from a student who professes, “now I realize that you could use math to defend your rights and realize the injustices around you.” But what about the math scores those students attain in 12th grade? What grades do they get in first-year college calculus? Delpit claims that schools impart the message that “you must give up identifiably African American norms in order to succeed,” but she never shows that embracing those norms produces higher college enrollment or workplace readiness.

If that evidence doesn’t exist, then Delpit’s argument isn’t with schools. It’s with U.S. history, society, culture, economics. Many pages in “Multiplication Is for White People” suggest that this is, indeed, the case, such as the indignant section on racist actions after Hurricane Katrina. If society at large is racist, though, then schools should receive more credit than Delpit allows. She asserts that “Typical university curricula leave out contributions of people of color to American culture, except in special courses in African American studies,” a flatly false claim. Syllabi in U.S. history, literature, music, and other areas at nearly every campus amply represent African American creators. Her complaint really is that schools haven’t sufficiently countered popular attitudes.

Delpit’s prescription that schools show more respect for African American culture, then, may have the effect of cultivating an adversarial posture among students. If American society is anti–African American, then a “culturally relevant curriculum” necessarily conflicts with it. If high schools offer an Afrocentric curriculum, will students find university offerings uncongenial and drift toward African American studies and away from STEM fields, where job prospects are brighter? Will a high school teacher ashamed of his whiteness alienate students from white college teachers and employers not so ashamed? Delpit notes that yelling is often assumed in African American culture to be a sign of caring, but won’t failing to inform students of the inappropriateness of yelling in public and in workplaces set them up for future tensions?

These are open questions, and this book doesn’t begin to consider them. We might easily dismiss it as an expression of resentment—the shadow of Jim Crow looms on every page—but we do better to take the starting point seriously: we have a culture clash in the classroom. Rather than expounding the pains and injustices and prescribing a “sensitivity” reform, however, let’s examine various schools and curricula on the standard accountability measure. Do they produce graduates who proceed to college and workplace and thrive?

This image of Earth (on the left) and the moon (on the right) was taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft on Aug. 26, 2011, when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles (9.66 million kilometers) away. It was taken by the spacecraft’s onboard camera, JunoCam. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 5 to begin a five-year journey to Jupiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI

Designed and produced by the World Wide Web Foundation, the Web Index is the world’s first multi-dimensional measure of the Web’s growth, utility and impact on people and nations. It covers 61 developed and developing countries, incorporating indicators that assess the political, economic and social impact of the Web, as well as indicators of Web connectivity and infrastructure.

Nearly 60 years after the 1954 landmark ruling in Brown v. the Board of Education, in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared public education is “a right which must be made available on equal terms,” racial inequities in school spending persist. Let’s look at some of the national numbers:

Across the country schools spent $334 more on every white student than on every nonwhite student
Mostly white schools (90 percent or more white) spent $733 more per student than mostly nonwhite schools (90 percent or more nonwhite)
The United States spends $293 less per year on students in mostly nonwhite schools than on students in all other schools. That’s 7 percent of the median per-pupil spending
Since fully 35 percent of the nation’s students of color attend school in either California or Texas, examining the relationship between the percent of students of color and dollars spent per student can bring the problem into sharper focus.

In California schools serving 90 percent or more nonwhite students, per-pupil spending is $191 less than at all other schools, and $4,380 less than at schools serving 90 percent or more white students
In Texas schools serving 90 percent or more nonwhite students, per-pupil spending is $514 less than at all other schools, and $911 less than at schools serving 90 percent or more white students
Just how big are these differences? In California the average high-minority school has 759 students. If an average-sized school got an extra $4,380 for every student, it would mean an extra $3.3 million a year. If that same school were to get a more modest boost of $191 per student to bring it in line with the majority of schools in the state, then it would get approximately $145,000 extra per year. Those extra dollars would pay the salaries of additional classroom teachers or buy any number of valuable educational inputs such as computers, guidance counselors, or teaching coaches.

In Texas the average high-minority school is 708 students; new teachers are paid $39,150 and veterans earn $47,100 annually. If an average high-minority school in the Lone Star state were to receive an extra $514 per-pupil funding—enough to bring it up to the level of spending the rest of the schools in the state enjoy—it would be able to pay the salaries of seven veteran teachers or nine new teachers.

One of the more sobering findings of our report is that as the number of students of color goes up at a school the amount of money spent on students goes down.

An increase of 10 percent in students of color is associated with a decrease in spending of $75 per student

Here you’l find a link to an academic article that highlight other dimensions than test scores in assessment

Abstract Around the world we hear considerable talk about creating world-class schools. Usually the term refers to schools whose students get very high scores on the international comparisons of student achievement such as PISA or TIMSS. The practice of restricting the meaning of exemplary schools to the narrow criterion of achievement scores is usually premised on the view that test scores are closely linked to the provision of a capable labour force and competitive economy. In fact, the measured relationships between test scores and earnings or productivity are modest and explain a relatively small share of the larger link between educational attainment and economic outcomes. What has been omitted from such narrow assessments are the effects that education has on the development of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and capabilities that affect the quality and productivity of the labour force. This article provides evidence on some of these relationships, on the degree to which the non-cognitive effects of schooling contribute to adult performance, and on the evidence that deliberate school interventions can influence non-cognitive outcomes. It concludes with the view that the quest for world-class schools must encompass a range of human development characteristics that extend considerably beyond test scores.

Book reviews

That the United States may soon have to ration health care resources, including mental health services, will almost certainly require its people and governments to take into account the needs of adult prisoners, civilly committed mental hospital patients, and a growing number of juvenile offenders committed to the care of the states. The questions of whether public resources are being used effectively in behalf of juvenile justice, and whether they can be used more efficiently, are of crucial importance at this time. Who Gets a Childhood? by historian William S. Bush illuminates the historic mistreatment and outrageous abuses of poor African American, Latino, and white youth in the training schools of twentieth-century Texas. Equally important, the book makes an argument in behalf of a constitutional “right to treatment” that would provide mental health rehabilitation services for juveniles committed to state custody. Bush thus makes a distinctive contribution to the history of racial discrimination and juvenile injustice in a multicultural southern state. Furthermore, his juvenile justice reform advocacy rekindles decades-old moral and political debates that implicate directly the currently strained budgets of numerous states and the federal government.

Writing in response to the 2007 sexual abuse scandal at the West Texas State School near the tiny town of Pyote, Bush tells the 120-year story of the Texas juvenile justice system that spawned this notoriously dysfunctional institution. Organized into seven chapters and an epilogue, Who Gets a Childhood? seeks to explain how Texas’s regime of juvenile justice reached its current position as one of the more controversial systems in the United States, while also advocating aggressive juvenile justice reform across the nation. Examining closely the experiences of African American, Mexican American, and Euro-American girls and boys in the Texas training schools, which racially segregated inmates into the 1960s, Bush unpacks the historic relationship between race, juvenile justice, and, importantly, competing understandings of childhood. In this account, the history of the Texas juvenile justice system, which began in 1889, is marked by a cyclical pattern of abuse and scandal–from humanitarian reforms in the 1910s, 1940s, and 1970s, to juvenile crime panics and “get-tough” “law and order” crackdowns in the 1950s and 1960s and from about 1985 to 2009. Public fears of “teenage terrorists” at the height of the Cold War and of “super-predators” in the Ronald Reagan era and early 1990s generated the growth of expensive and remote lockdown facilities, which failed to deter juvenile crime but unleashed unconscionable physical and psychological abuses on inmates. This was so notwithstanding the fact that, since the 1940s, experts had reached a consensus on the superior effectiveness of smaller, community-based, rehabilitative programs. Texas consistently failed to sustain its periodic reform efforts–a pattern Bush attributes most to a widespread willingness to view juvenile offenders as fully responsible adults. He also argues that the inadequacies of the Texas system have been a consequence of structural necessity; white racism; the ideological commitments of administrators; the resistance of juveniles placed in state custody; recalcitrant townspeople who staffed, ran, and protected the institutions; legislators who were generally hostile to expenditures for juvenile delinquents they deemed morally suspect’ and the transience and disorganization of child advocates, at least until the 1970s.

 

William S. Bush. Who Gets a Childhood? Race and Juvenile Justice in Twentieth-Century Texas. Politics and Culture in the Twentieth-Century South Series. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010. Illustrations. x + 257 pp. $69.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8203-2983-3; $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8203-3719-7; $24.95 (e-book), ISBN 978-0-8203-3762-3.

Reviewed by Mark Carroll (University of Missouri)