Obama applauds union-busting school board that fires every teacher at a Rhode Island high school

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500_Apples

Caissa wrote:
I have a B.Ed.

What do you think of the material that is taught in a B.Ed. ?

Caissa

It is designed to make a teacher well-started and varies by institution.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

It's probably worthwhile to note that both Canada and the US are lacking when it comes to country-wide educational efforts. Other OECD countries have federal level direction, policies, and so on.  The US has a slightly larger federal role, due to control of some federal funding grants, etc., but the lion's share of decision-making, funding, etc., is at the state (US) or provincial (Canada) level.

500_Apples

N.Beltov wrote:

It's probably worthwhile to note that both Canada and the US are lacking when it comes to country-wide educational efforts. Other OECD countries have federal level direction, policies, and so on.  The US has a slightly larger federal role, due to control of some federal funding grants, etc., but the lion's share of decision-making, funding, etc., is at the state (US) or provincial (Canada) level.

Thank God, I trust Quebec City more than I trust Ottawa on social issues like education.

The trappings of ideology seem way too powerful in Ottawa.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Yea, well, it goes both ways. I would agree with you about the current regime in Ottawa. They seem "unfriendly" to education, judging by their cuts to research on women's equality, the NRC, etc., etc.. If we can make this into a general education sort of thread, the following may be of interest to babblers ...

Teachers in BC have decided to look into an increase of investigations by their employers.

Quote:
a motion at the annual general meeting of the B.C. Teachers' Federation calling on the federation to conduct a provincewide survey to find out how many and what type of investigations are being conducted, who is making the allegations and what are the eventual outcomes.

... which is interesting. The current BCTF President, Irene Lanzinger is stepping down and Susan Lambert looks to be unopposed in her run for President. The following is also of interest ...

Quote:
Also during the meeting, vice-president Susan Lambert declared that the BCTF has won the war over standardized tests -- known as the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) -- that are delivered annually in Grades 4 and 7. The union's campaign to convince parents to withdraw their students from the tests has been so successful that the FSA results are meaningless, she said.

As far as I see it, this is a good thing. Let the Fraser Institute rave. They do anyway.

500_Apples

Beltov,

I don't think it's just Harper.

The last time a majority government was formed against a united right-wing party was in the 1980 election, when Trudeau beat Clark, 3 years before I was born. Even during the Chretien years, liberal majorities came from vote splitting. Today, we see that Ignatieff sounds like Harper.

As a selfish quebecois, I am against any substantial federal involvement in education.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

500_Apples wrote:
As a selfish quebecois, I am against any substantial federal involvement in education.

OK, for Quebec, I see your point. The RoC may be different.

George Victor

Thanks to j.m., we find the position on March 4 was this:

"I am pleased to reassure the union their place in the planning process," Central Falls Superintendent Frances Gallo said in a statement. She said she welcomes union input in developing "a dynamic plan to dramatically improve student achievement" at Central Falls High School.

Gallo's statement followed an overture Tuesday from the Central Falls Teachers' Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. The instructors have offered support for a longer school day, as well as more rigorous evaluations and training, among other steps."

 

But the OP tells us from a March 8 story that not all teachers will be guaranteed a place. Since the Grade ll math failure rate was 9 out of 10 students, probably those teachers without math skills will not be re-hired in the state's worst performing school. Union solidarity obviously required a show of staff solidarity.

 

My partner's experience was in a Grade 2 classroom, a veritable UN climate with kids coming from everywhere. What worked in the teaching of English language at that level of extra attention. Yours truly got roped in for one day a week to give extra instruction in guided reading (I too took a BEd but opted for a lwer-stress situation outside "the system"). It is difficult enough teaching to several levels of student competence in language (we usually found 5 levels requiring small-grouup sorting).

 

In the Rhode Island high school, extra time would be required from the get-go in Grade 9. Individual attention would be the single most important element, given the socio-economic background and the probably huge disparity in language and math skills on entry. It seems to me that extra attention/funding would have to go to the Grade 9 level and carry those improvemnts through the following grades over the next years. (Yes, Caissa, nobody should expect superhuman efforts, but clearly, there must be more openess to a longer teaching day). Hafta run again, apptmt with a doc. Be back.

j.m.

George Victor wrote:

Thanks to j.m., we find the position on March 4 was this:

 

Oh shit, my poor research skills! I totally overlooked that date. Thanks for clarifying!

George Victor

Caissa wrote:

It is designed to make a teacher well-started and varies by institution.

How are we doing on the suggestions for that school in Rhode Island, Caissa?   It means going beyond the normal level of concern for individualized attention, of course. The needs, the degree of catcho-up required, are too great. 

Caissa

It's part of the movement that confuses assessment with learning. Alfir Kohn points out quite correctly that student performance on standardized assessments correlate most with things outside of the control of teachers ie. type of community, parental income, level of parental education etc.

Michelle

Unfortunately, that's the kind of assessment that the rest of these students' lives hinge upon - whether or not they graduate high school, whether or not they get into post-secondary education, whether or not they pass tests for trades or professions, whether or not they can do well in a scored interview, etc.

It sucks, and things should change - and things are changing and the need for accommodation is being recognized more and more for people who don't fit into the dominant learning style.  But there also needs to be environmental change too, in the meantime, so that more students CAN fit into the dominant model.

Firing all the teachers in order to get the funding a school needs doesn't sound to me like a very productive way to reach that goal.  It's like saying, "Okay, all you teachers who have been doing the best you can in an underfunded system and working with children with no program support inside or outside of school are going to be punished for not being able to succeed with no funds - that's the price you have to pay to get the funds you needed to implement the programs you needed for teaching success in the first place."

George Victor

I think you are assuming that all the teachers were ready to go along with the extra hours, M.  And perhaps assuming that all the teachers's skill levels were up to it.  I suppose the ideal would have been that all teachers were offered situations elsewhere.  But that seems to be up to the county officials, not the pres. It's all unfair? I can't imagine living anywhere in that benighted country without staring unfairness in the face, daily.  It's climbing toward Mumbai on the list of places I couldn't visit.

George Victor

Caissa wrote:

It's part of the movement that confuses assessment with learning. Alfir Kohn points out quite correctly that student performance on standardized assessments correlate most with things outside of the control of teachers ie. type of community, parental income, level of parental education etc.

That's patently obvious, Caissa. But how would YOU as a trained educator act to correct that? ...given the givens, of course.

Caissa

Act to correct what? The fact that what we assess doesn't measure what we teach but rather students socio-economic status?

VanGoghs Ear

Are you being deliberately obtuse ?  How do you measure grade 2 math skills ? Really?  So your're saying that kids can't learn unless their families make above X and until they make above X we shouldn't even try to teach them or find a better way to teach them?

Maybe that's not what you mean but that what it sounds like.

Caissa

Are you speaking to VGE?

How do you equate correlation with "can't learn."?

VanGoghs Ear

I'm speaking to you

you're saying that if a student can't pass a basic academic skills test? than all this tells us is that the parent's income is too low, they live in the wrong neighbourhood, ect. and not that they haven't learned to add or subtract numbers.

and if they can't be tested to see whether they have learned anything - then why even trying teaching them?

Caissa

No, I said test scores are correlated with the items I listed above. Who said anything about being unable to "pass" a test?

Please tell me what the purpose of testing is VGE?

ETA: This article by Alfie Kohn is interesting. There are many others on his website.

http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/staiv.htm

VanGoghs Ear

What is the purpose of testing?  To see how well the student has learned and understands what they were taught.

If I teach a child how to read a clock and tell time?  I must ask a series of questions? how many mintues in 1 hour? How many seconds in 1 minute?  Give them a pie plate with numbers on it and 2 hands and ask them to show what 2:45 looks like?

How else would you know what they have learned?

Caissa

Indeed, how else would you know that they have learned...

Tests don't always measure what you have learned. It could be measuring prior knowledge.

For example, in our house, we have 7 clocks. On 6 of them, this is what 2:45 looks like.

2:45.

Other houses may vary. 

 

kropotkin1951

I think that the system that VGH would be most interested in would be the Chinese. Students in grade school are ranked according to test scores as are their teachers. The emphasis of classes is on getting the best test results.  Placement in all post secondary schools is done strictly on the basis of test results in an exam, that all senior high school students write.  Unlike in America even if your Dad is a bigwig in the CP you will not get into the best schools without the test scores. No Bush exemptions.

I personally found this series enlightening and the Chinese  system has some interesting features. It certainly highlights what a great control mechanism standardized testing and teaching to tests is capable of becoming.

http://www.linktv.org/chineseschool

George Victor

George Victor wrote:

Caissa wrote:

It's part of the movement that confuses assessment with learning. Alfir Kohn points out quite correctly that student performance on standardized assessments correlate most with things outside of the control of teachers ie. type of community, parental income, level of parental education etc.

That's patently obvious, Caissa. But how would YOU as a trained educator act to correct that? ...given the givens, of course.

I'll try once more.  How would you teach in an attempt to overcome barriers to learning such as parent income and education, of course.   Like, I suggested much smaller student/teacher ratios and more individualized teaching.   PLease don't keep repeating the barriers, they're no-brainers.  What would you DO as superintendent of schools and/or teacher?  Lay it on the line for me, please ....I can see you know all about assessment, but after assessment comes teaching, right? 

VanGoghs Ear

absolutely Caissa

I really got into reading Hardy Boys one summer break before grade 6 and my english marks went up quite a bit from all extra reading I did that summer.  Testing helps the teacher see where your skill level is at, where you need more help and so on.

Krop - that looks interesting

I don't think every student is the same or learns the same  - some type of evaluation(testing) is needed though right?

Caissa

I'll try again George. The solution is to work to eliminate the barriers. Take active steps to eradicate poverty.

I'm not sure what you are asking me re. what I would do as a superintendant/teacher, George and I'm not trying to duck it. Are you talking about approaches to structuring an educational system or how to effectively teach in the 5-6 contact hours teachers have with students per day?

I'm on the parent School Support Committees of an inner city elementary and an inner city middle school. I have had the privilege of knowing many excellent, dedicated teachers.

 

George Victor

You mentioned once of the barriers...the 5-6 contact hours - that clearly have to be expanded on under the federally-sponsored probgram...see the early postings for details.  I don't believe one is going to overcome the awful elementary school experience of those kids entering high school with a laid-back approach.  Not sure why my direct questions of what you would do in the Rhode Island School case now comes to be a question of a Canadian inner-city. 

You suggest there is no hope in the school if poverty is not "eradicated" first.  ISTHAT TRUE?????    Since that is not possible, I have no bloody idea what you are up to in this thread. You have not even responded to my ideas for a focus on individualized teaching along with extra hours.  Are you alse a dilettante on the job?

Michelle

George Victor wrote:

I think you are assuming that all the teachers were ready to go along with the extra hours, M.

I have no idea what you're talking about.  I don't think anyone should have to work "extra hours" unless they're paid to work them.  So, whether the teachers were willing or not is moot.

The point is, they've been making do without proper funding.  That much is obvious because Obama's offering the funding they need to any school willing to bend to his conditions.  But his conditions are that the school fire at least half the teachers because they have been unable to be successful without the funding that Obama is admitting that they need.

Why should teachers work several extra hours per day that they're not paid to work?  There are other ways of dealing with this.  Like creating school programs, like hiring more teachers to do tutoring programs.

I'm not saying those ideas in the proposals, like tutoring before and after school, won't work.  I'm saying it's not fair to dump it all on the current staff for no extra pay.

If they'd had excellent tutoring programs, and free after school programs and sports, and free homework programs for kids who need help and can't get it at home because Mom's working two jobs in order to pay the rent and isn't at home at night to help, then maybe there wouldn't be this kind of mess.

Or, maybe if Mom had the kind of income support that wouldn't make it necessary to hold down two or three jobs...or maybe if there was some way to hold free sessions for parents that would help them learn how to help their kids with homework (and no, not all parents know, especially if they have English as a second language, or perhaps they themselves didn't graduate high school or even elementary school). 

There are all sorts of creative solutions to help students who need it.  And they don't involve firing all the teachers.  But you know what?  They all cost money.  Because that's the way it is.

So it's time for Obama to cough it up and quit attacking teachers because they can't solve the entire life problems of the residents of a city that lets children live in abject poverty and doesn't bother funding their schools.

Caissa

Okay, I've been obtuse and I apologize, George. You want to know what I would do in this specific case of a Rhode Island High School? I understand your frustration with me. I'm out of here for the day. I'll give you a measured, reflected upon answer tomorrow morning. Again I'm sorry for my obtuseness.

George Victor

Yep, we "should not have to" do lots and lots of things, M.  But you would have to sell the voters of Rhode Island and the other 49 on that, not me.  Looks to me like that's just one more area of desperation south of the 49th, and Gaia knows how it will all pan out.   I hope the $3.5 billion demonstrates that there is hope for the down and out and for the country.  We could pay a helluva price up here, someday, if such experiments do not work out.

George Victor

Caissa wrote:

Okay, I've been obtuse and I apologize, George. You want to know what I would do in this specific case of a Rhode Island High School? I understand your frustration with me. I'm out of here for the day. I'll give you a measured, reflected upon answer tomorrow morning. Again I'm sorry for my obtuseness.

Well, after your fucking game-playing, whatever you consider fair, of course.

Caissa

What to elaborate on "fucking game playing" George?

I thought this thread was about Obama's behaviour in this issue and that of the superintendant which I consider regressive and anti-union and not addressing the real issue.

Then I realize you want to discuss how to "fix' this school. Okay, I realize that sincerely apologize for being obtuse and offer to address your question.

And then I get accused of "fucking game playing."

Was that really neccesary?

Caissa

ETA to remove double post.

George Victor

Absolutely. Particularly in light of your demonstration of sensitivity in another thread.  I could not give a fiddler's fart as to your thoughts on education at this point.  You write off the impoverished as beyond the pale and that is where I place you in any kind of reasonable correspondence.

Fugget  it.

Michelle

Wow.  I don't get where this is coming from.  What did Caissa say to deserve that?  I found his posts interesting in this thread.

George Victor

The guy admits to playing a game and "wow" you don't get the anger.   Try assuming the role of playee for a moment.  Look at that other thread he belched into just prior to that.  You and I had a couple of conversations about that a year ago, M.  Surely anyone posting here over that time must by now show more than a bag of hammers sensitivity there.

Doug

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I think that the system that VGH would be most interested in would be the Chinese. Students in grade school are ranked according to test scores as are their teachers.

 

Schools shouldn't be that way, but there do need to be quality checks and one of those is testing.

kropotkin1951

The biggest determinate of outcome for children is if they have food in their stomachs when they are trying to learn.  That is why the VDLC provides a breakfast meal program at a school in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods.

The type of tests that the Fraser Institute favours and I suspect they get it from the American system prove every year that the schools that are the most tightly controlled have the best test outcomes i.e. the private schools .  Those schools have a few things in common including being very indoctrinating in their teaching methods. They also tend to have higher income and better educated families particualrily compared to schools in poor neighbourhoods..  I think the first two make it easier for children to learn compared to others without the poverty disadvantage.  

The rigid rules for students make it easier for their schools to out perform other schools where the indoctrination by the church or state is not so all encompassing. Not to mention that the weakest students in schools that really care about their rankings tend to be absent on test day.

I think the BCTF has some excellent thoughts on the subject.  They have been fighting the neo-con Liberals mandatory testing for all students for years now and they are winning the debate.

Quote:

What’s a Better Way?

…tests by themselves do not improve learning, any more than a thermometer reduces fever” (Jay P. Heubert, 2003)

The teachers of BC believe:

  • Each child counts and all can learn. Our joy in teaching and our students’ love of learning comes from meeting the needs of every student.
  • We are all accountable for maximizing students’ opportunities to learn. Teachers must teach well and governments must provide the conditions such as appropriate class sizes, class compositions, and learning resources that allow each student to learn.
  • Teachers must be allowed to make professional judgments about how students are taught and assessed.
  • Large-scale testing can provide important information that can be used to inform the development of provincial curriculum and policy. This information can be obtained by administering the assessment on a sample basis rather than on a census (every student) basis, and producing only provincial results. Testing less often and using only a sample of students allows for broader and deeper assessment, is more cost effective, reduces the negative impact on students, and still fulfills the purposes.
  • Effective assessment for learning can improve student achievement substantially, and that improved classroom assessment helps low achievers the most (Black and William, 1998). The type of assessment that helps students learn is formative assessment in which students are given descriptive feedback about where they are in their learning, where they need to go, and how best to get there.

We invite parents and other concerned members of the community to join teachers in working to provide students with the best possible opportunities to create, to think, to learn, and to grow.

George Victor

Yes, Alida provided a breakfast for any of her charges in Grade Two that needed it.  There were usually 2 or 3. 

Oh, and by the end of Grade 2 ALL of the kids could read.   That isn't always accomplished out there. Yet it is absolutely necessary for their learning future. Just imagine the Grade 9s  of that Rhode Island School starting their highschool experience with that head start.  Alida had to resist the fashion at the time tht was to teach only a "whole language" program. She found that some kids benefitted from phonics.  Lo and behold, phonics agaiin found favour along with whole language.  What happened?  They found one had to work a little harder on some kids to overcome their background deficiences....of course.  Finding out in kindergarten or Grade 1 at the latest if there are difficulties in sounding out letters and combinations begins the process of aiding those in need (although not in all jurisdictions).

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Are you still apologizing for President Palin, er, Bush, er, Reagan, er, Obama, George?

George Victor

I'm only trying to get the rhetoric down to something more meaningful than slogans, FM. What do you have to offer on the school situation? Say, did you ever get around to reading Obama's first bio on his early years? (You know, I'm going to give Sarah's a pass). But she seems to be a popular figure in Calgary...go figure!

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Oh, George, what is US politics other than slogans? Heck, I can give you two: "yes, we can" and "change you can believe in". Still makes me chuckle. As for schools, I know that union busting and calling it reform is still union busting. But, I tell you what, George, I'll keep my eyes open for Obama's progressive agenda. Have you seen any sign of it yourself, or is the Big O still trying to outflank Palin on the right hoping to win over all them Tea Baggers by jettisonning all those lefty elites slaving away at Wal-Mart as elites so often do? What is Obama's base now? Fourteen democrat-right-or-wrong pundits, thirty-five insiders, and an outdated email list of people too pissed off to bother voting? Obama is yesterday's man. The Corpocracy is already interviewing potential successors.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:

Polls show liberals and blacks still approve of the job Obama's doing. That approval, however, doesn't necessarily mean they will make the effort to vote, and many of the activists and groups that worked to get people to the polls in 2008 say they're not inclined right now to help Democrats in the fall.

"The energized base which transformed the nation and elected our first black president (is) now disengaged," Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile says. "If this was September, I would hit the panic button."

Obama's base disengaged

I think you can add to that unions and especially teachers.

 

George Victor

Whatever in your slogan-filled existence ever gave you the idea that I'm defending an ideal?  It's just that there must be some islands of rationality in a hate-filled world where people can discuss paths to a reasonable world.  Unless you get down to an understanding of the takeover of the American mind, you're only dealing in hate-filled cliches, FM.  There's gotta be something more than that.    But  perhaps you've already worked out an explanation, a Gestalt psychology encompassing all the little wierdnesses. 

It's just that that depth is not obvious in your reliance on google.

 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

You're the one enthralled to the slogans, George. Certainly Obama has given you nothing more than slogans. And a rational person would have long ago recognized there is no hope, audacious or otherwise, in the Democratic Party. The islands of rationality are there, George, constantly speaking, constantly appealing, and it is you who chooses to ignore them out of loyalty (to the false hope of Obama) or fear (of Palin). I'm not reallu sure which. But there are very brave Americans fighting the madness everyday and they include Obama and the Democrats among the mad.

George Victor

Trouble is, FM, you've lost sight of the enemy that's gonna rise up and kick us all in the teeth. As H.G.Wells put it, history is a race between education and the collapse of civilization (fitting on the eve of World War 2).

 

Here's how Bageant described the American situation is his latest missive from Mexico, Moon Over Gringo Gulch:

"Every American, every man woman and child lives by the fruit of the empire's sword, fully expecting the lights to come on each evening, fresh coffee to gurgle in the morning and the car to start right up. The Internet connection to work and for Australian wine to be on the supermarket shelves. Those who do understand where it all comes from -- which is to say from an unsustainable commodity economy propped up by phony money at gunpoint -- seldom object publicly, if there is the slightest risk. The relative few who grasp the inevitable cruelties of empire, especially of empires in decline, are inwardly resigned to their own insignificance in the larger scheme of things. A slim minority of youth still have the energy and idealistic anger to protest, as in Seattle's WTO fracas a decade ago. But for every one of them there are hundreds of thousands of citizens who say, "Well there's not much I can do about it." Both sides are right of course. But one swamps the other, reducing it to entertainment value on the evening news.

We find ourselves trapped on a dark and nasty merry-go-round. One that keeps going faster and faster to the point where everyone is too terrified to jump off. So we hang in there. And the state's one voice to the many says, "Don't pay attention to the wreckage on either side of the tracks. Because this train is bound for glory, this train. Ask any televangelist or Pentagon general. Ask any of the economist eunuchs inside the president's high sanctum, engineering "the recovery" in the name of God, cheap oil and the new jobless populist republic. Yessiree, there's light at the end of the tunnel, just around a few more bends. Don't let the fact that the track keeps descending downward bother you. And besides, if there is a buck to be made in hell, we will triumph. Because after all, we are The Americans."

 

Somehow, those folks have to be made to face up to what they have helped shape by their becoming completely dependent on sword and the market. Everything else is kind of a shallow rant.

al-Qa'bong

 

Quote:
Trouble is, FM, you've lost sight of the enemy that's gonna rise up and kick us all in the teeth.

 

But George, even Bageant would agree (Elsewhere I've linked to another article where he essentially says so) that Obama is kneeling on the floor, fitting the boots.

 

But never mind, just keep repeating the Obama mantra:

 

Hope and change, change and hope

Krishna Krishna hopey changey

Hopey changey, Krishna Rama

Rama Rama changey hopey

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

ommmmmmmmmmm bama.

George Victor

Chaps, in the absence of anything more sustaining for the political economy we inherited than that, and despite your telling critical analysis disguised as witticisms, I'll have to go with preservation of what's left of a system until more useful remedies are forthcoming. 

George Victor

And yes, aQ, Joe is not taken in by Obama, but he is also critical of the commodity fetishism that calls the tune in America, not just the ruling elite.  For instance his observations from "burning tortillas at midnight":

"It can now be honestly stated that mere goods and services express the citizenry and the American culture in its entirety. Citizenship in a consumer society is consumership. Consumer culture consumes all rival cultures, replacing them with "pop culture," which is simply deeming the marketplace as culture. Hip Hop is a good example. So is the modern cinema, and all of the music and book publishing industry. Corporate industry and its products are not culture, despite all the new definitions of culture bourgeois academia and the marketplace come up with on behalf of the corporations that fund both of them.

Your iPod shall set you free!

Freedom and personal identity exists as freedom to choose identity from among the commodities, and particularly the entertainments, offered. The Mac person as opposed to the Windows person. The Mariah Carey or Rihanna Fenty fan as opposed to the Eric Clapton fan. Each is convinced he or she is different because of their chosen commodity. Yet at the root of this, they all purchased a computer or a CD from a faceless corporation grounded in the toxic wastelands and sweatshops of Asia and elsewhere."

 

Obama didn't bring about that pathetic and pathological condition, and one suspects that if he demonstrated the slightest revulsion for it, he would be judged unfit for the presidency of the United States of Commodified America. Haven't the foggiest idea what kind of Ghandian ascetic that you would put in the oval office yourself, in the meantime....and just how you'd go about it.  Smile

Slumberjack

I wonder if it might be helpful to petition the mods into creating a new forum and call it, I dunno, Joe Bageant Central.  As prominent as his insight has figured on the board for what seems like ages, one handy point of reference might better serve, instead of having him sprinkled here and there all over the place.

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