Professor Joe Nashville’s Witty Response to a Letter from Pearson Publishing

TN Professor Joe Nashville, who previously published a satirical review of the former Commissioner of Tn Ed ( Kevin “Michelle Rhee” Huffman ) via Edushyster called  Tennessee’s Fool of Merit, is back with gaffs and laughs to expose the faux rhetoric of Pearson Publishing. Recently, Professor Nashville received this missive from a Pearson Publishing Sales Rep. In a fit of pique and witty inspiration, he revised the letter to reflect the true message hidden in the, er, rhetorical spin that is Pearson Publishing’s calling card. Read and Enjoy!

Click on the links to make them larger, then use your handy dandy magnifying glass to zoom in.

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Joe Nashville is a teacher and “edu-oke” artist. You can follow him at twitter (https://twitter.com/Joe_Nashville) or read his fine lyrics at http://joenashville.jimdo.com

Blogger’s Disclaimer: I am a Literature teacher, not a journalist. What you get is what you get. Want better blogging, read a real journalist.

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Department of Education to Raise High Stakes…Even Higher

By Wayne Jebian

Arnie Duncan and the United States Department of Education appear to be sold on the concept of VAM (value added model), so much so that they are taking the concept to the next level. The idea behind VAM is to crunch students’ standardized test scores to separate “good” from “bad” teachers.

In public debate, VAM is often discussed in the context of fixing failing schools and raising individual student achievement. However, if Education Secretary Arnie Duncan has his way, the use of VAM will mean that elementary school students will also be deciding issues of federal funding for graduate and professional teaching programs. The stakes in high stakes testing are about to get a whole lot higher.

The DoED released its proposed new rules for teacher preparation programs on December 3, 2014. The public was given until January 2, 2015 to comment on fiscal aspects of the new rules, and until February 2nd to comment on issues of substance. The timing of the document is one of its major problems. The brevity of the comment period, plus the fact that it straddled final exams, Christmas, Hanukah, customary vacation periods, New Years, the beginning of school, and the Super Bowl, strongly suggest that it was engineered to minimize actual public comment.

The second and larger problem is that the new rules’ reliance on bad science eclipses any legitimate concern about bad teachers. Test scores are affected by many factors, and there are many influences more important than the individual teacher, such as the family situations of the students and the general income level of their neighborhood. The use of VAM could be seen as a disincentive to work in a poor neighborhood for the individual student of education when seeking work. However, the new rules also invite a whole host of consequences.

Now, a college or university’s professional education program or school of education will be graded according to these same VAM statistics derived from school kids’ test scores. If these rules are implemented, in addition to being responsible for their teachers’ job security, the children will be determining the eligibility of graduate schools to receive federal TEACH grant money. If student VAM statistics reveal that a school of education is producing “bad teachers”, then under the new rules, it can be cut off. According to the report, “These proposed regulations would limit TEACH Grant eligibility to only those programs that States have identified as ‘effective’ or higher.”

The American Statistical Association has warned against an over-reliance on VAM for educational policy. The many shortcomings noted by the ASA include the following: “VAMs are generally based on standardized test scores, and do not directly measure potential teacher contributions toward other student outcomes.”

But Secretary Duncan appears not to have received the memo. With VAM the central instrument in assessing the quality of teachers, and now, the schools that educated them, test scores will be a crucial factor in the mandate that the new rules lay out: “Establish the required areas States must consider in identifying low-performing and at-risk teacher preparation programs, the actions States must take with respect to those programs, and the consequences for a low-performing program that loses State approval or financial support.”

What’s at stake is an unprecedented level of federal involvement in higher education. What is described is the possible takeover or elimination of teacher education programs, just as is happening with public schools in urban districts. Those are some very high stakes, resting on the backs of young students’ test scores. And in all likelihood, the federally-driven reform machine’s encroachment into higher education will not end there.

Schools of Higher Ed- WAKE UP!

Five Days left to make comments about the Fed Proposals to Higher Ed. Please click on the link below- you can comment in the document or you can click on the embedded links in the blog post.

http://thewire.k12newsnetwork.com/2015/01/27/value-added-teacher-preparation-regulations-changes-your-comments/

“Everything is such a nightmare – teacher prep programs being taken over by the feds; school counseling being privatized; GED being made impossible to pass; and it is just one thing after another – definitely DISRUPTION and DESTRUCTION at its peek—- and while it is all happening, the children are crying and tearing out their hair, and succombing to docility.” – Jo Lieb

#2105YearoftheStudent

#DoNoHarm

For Whom the Memphis Bell Tolls: Are Graduate Schools of Education Incubating Their Own Replacements?

By Wayne Jebian

It is a new educational experiment, an in-vivo implantation of a (purportedly) viable degree-granting institute into a mature host, an existing university-based graduate school of education. According to a post on the blog Schools Matter signed by the faculty of the Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership at University of Memphis, the embryonic Master’s program will be run by New York-based Relay School of Education with the purpose of training and certifying teachers to work in urban charter schools.

The Relay School of Education has been operating under its current name in New York City since 2011, when it became the first independent graduate school of education to be newly credentialed in more than 80 years, according to company literature. Before that, it was called Teacher U, and operated out of the Hunter College Graduate School of Education. Teacher U was the creation of three major charter school companies in 2008: Uncommon Schools, Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), and Achievement First. Currently, Relay’s leadership includes Wall Street operator Larry Robbins, and at least two trustees associated with the “venture philanthropy” organization Robin Hood Foundation, David Saltzman and Norman Atkins.

According to Nancy Bailey’s Education Website, the implanted program has a second parent, one which will share the task of teacher training: The New Teacher Project (TNTP), founded by Michelle Rhee. It has been described by the New York Times as a spinoff of Teach for America, of which Rhee is an alumna. Nancy Bailey lists organizations donating to or investing in the new school as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, J.P. Morgan and the New Schools Venture Fund, among others. Chalkbeat.org states: “To support U of M’s program, $24 million in donations have been raised through commitments from philanthropists, who wish to remain anonymous. “

There are indications that there is much more at stake than just one southern university being invaded and victimized by northern insurgents while money changes hands. According to Nancy Bailey, University of Arkansas already has a program like this, motivated by the Walmart/Walton Family’s pro-reform zeal. The newsletter speculates:

I would say most university schools of education should watch for TNTP and Relay to come knocking on their doors. But don’t rest on the idea that this new teacher package will be just for the poor. While these alternative teaching programs may start out that way, experimenting around with hungry children, if you eventually dissolve teacher preparation as we know it, TNTP and Relay will wind up being the teacher programs for the way all teachers are made.

I truly believe this is the ultimate goal for today’s education reformers.

If this sounds like the same peril that public schools face from charter schools and their privatizing backers, educators affiliated with higher education programs may just have more to fear. While the push to transform k-12 education has been arguably characterized by far more hype than substance, opinion leaders in higher education have been quietly gathering a consensus that graduate schools of education are ripe for re-invention. Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, is as mainstream and influential in education policy analyst as they come, and his concerns are almost perfectly in sync with those of Nancy Bailey’s “be very afraid” alarm bells. He stated in the Hechinger Report in 2013:

“The point is this: University-based teacher-education programs are in trouble and could possibly lose their franchise. Can they be repaired, or must they be replaced?”

Do No Harm
Wayne Jebian is an independent education writer based in California’s Silicon Valley. His past reporting experience includes UNICEF’s BFHI News, the Crittenden Wall Street Mortgage Report and CTLatinoNews.com. His teaching experience includes University of Connecticut, University of Hartford and Capital Community College. He studied at Yale and Columbia as an undergraduate and holds Master’s degrees from Columbia and University of Connecticut. Wayne Jebian’s skeptical take on education comes from the following quote by J.D. Salinger:
“Strictly for the birds. They don’t do any damn more molding at Pencey than they do at any other school. And I didn’t know anybody there that was splendid and clear-thinking and all. Maybe two guys. If that many. And they probably came to Pencey that way.”

Biopic