Posts Tagged ‘School’

What the Zell?

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Okay, just trying to figure out why the LA Times needs to bash public schools. Here’s what Muckety comes up with (click on the boxes):

Helen, wife of Sam Zell, LA Times owner, is what we call a Chicago venture philanthropist. According to Mike Klonsky:

This collection of equity-fund millionaires, corporate lobbyists and downtown real estate developers, each have their favorite charter schools or vertically-integrated programs that they contribute to.

Could it be that Helen is taking her show on the road?  The LA Times seems to be eager to help with this piece that extolls the virtues of the American Indian Public Charter without checking the facts (props to Oakland’s Perimeter Primate for her hard work):

By the way, when the figures of his three American Indian Model schools are combined, their average enrollment of students w/disabilities was 1.3% in 2007-08. The district average was 10%. Their combined enrollment of English Learners in was 3% in 2007-08. The district average for that subgroup was 30%.

Guessing the Zells wouldn’t care if my autie son got the boot at such an esteemed institution.  Don’t want anything to interfere with the self-congratulatory yacht club patter, especially the facts.


Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

I got into an exchange in the edublogosphere about tenure, whether it was a basic right, as one commentator claimed it wasn’t, or a way of keeping minority workers down (last hired, first fired) as another commentator claimed it was.  All I can say is that I have tenure for the time being and hope to hold onto it as long as I can.  Some of these comments came from the Windy City where I guess a lot of teachers don’t have crap. What’re you LA guys complaining about? they seemed to be saying. At least you have bargaining rights. So since Green Dot has “given” those rights to the teachers at schools like Locke (after axing the teachers who were already there) should I feel greedy that I don’t want them coming after my school (and tenure) too?  As Caroline Grannan puts it in a recent post:

Those (media) voices constantly cite teacher “tenure” as the evil to end all evils. Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines tenure:

“…a status granted after a trial period to a teacher that gives protection from summary dismissal.”

It seems to me that anyone who has ever worked for an employer would view “protection from summary dismissal” as a reasonable right for workers. That would include most every employee of the mainstream media corporations –- who I have a feeling haven’t thought this through when they do all that bashing, blaming and demonizing of teachers.

So if tenure isn’t a basic right, so be it.  But it is a reasonable right, which I think every teacher should have.

Teachers In Trouble

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

…I love the title of that book.  It’s an examination of the moral pressures brought to bear on schoolteachers, like yours truly:


Kind of like Monkey in the Middle.  Not that I’m paranoid or anything (I am) but the following explanation of moral and other restrictions placed upon teachers helps me understand the shortness of breath every morning I walk into school (please excuse the softness of the screen grab here; Google Books doesn’t allow you to select and copy):


Podcast 21

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Talk to You Later: Notes to My Son, May 15, 2009,

In this episode I discuss the walkout that never happened.

Warning! Warning!

Friday, May 8th, 2009


I ran into this at the end of Hate Teachers Week, a letter in response to a post about Green Dot, The Charter Corporation That Took Over the World. (Maybe aforementioned could help me with D, my least cooperative student, who refuses to do any work… Oh, my bad. I forgot: most charters would never take a boy like D to begin with. He would f___ up their scores.) Anyway, LA Gringo: thanks for summing up so well:

Do not go into teaching, period. Politicians are not held accountable, parents and students are not held accountable and the media is not held accountable. It’s not worth the $48,000 to have your job constantly under the microscope and constantly threatened (not to mention having your life threatened by students). Run from teaching. Take the $30,000 it would cost you to get the necessary credentials and certificates and put it in a CD. Go work for a company that is squandering trillions of taxpayers’ dollars, get yourself a nice bonus for crashing the company, then walk away free as a bird. Do not work as a teacher.

–LA Gringo

We’ve Got a File on You!

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009


Discussing the LA Times most recent foray into teacher bashing (it’s looking and sounding like the LA Daily News more and more ever day), my mother in-law stated the obvious, a habit I wish she’d get over. “I’ll tell you why people get upset with teachers.  It’s because they get tenure and nobody else does.”  That sent me to the Google to find out why schoolteachers get tenure, discovering the following after a few clicks:

Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.

Okay.  Makes sense to me.  You’re a frontier teacher and you get pregnant out of wedlock.  Bam!  You’re fired.  You’re teaching at a public school in the ‘fifties and you leave your copy of The Communist Manifesto lying around.  You’re outta here! Don’t let the door hit you in your commie behind.

But those practices couldn’t still be happening now, my mother in-law might say.  Oh, no?  How about this little item about a teacher the school tried to axe after spying on her illegally with a surveillance camera?  How about the time years ago when a district thug told me to stop asking why he was grilling me for information about a colleague who was later removed (”You don’t want to know,” he had said)?

So don’t cry for teachers, John Q. Public.  But don’t cry for the poor administrators who whine that they can’t fire or spy on whomever they want.

And PLEASE don’t cry for Arne Duncan who wants to award tenure based on teacher “performance.”

Teachers don’t make widgets.  They educate kids.

Maestro… A Little History, Please

Sunday, April 19th, 2009


According to Margret A. Winzer’s fascinating book The History of Special Education, school districts, at the beginning of the 20th century,

under pressure to manage if not to educate increasing numbers of unruly, disabled, low-functioning, and immigrant children, could no longer ignore the needs of these pupils and were challenged to find solutions to their problems within the system. Teachers were generally unwilling to handle these students in regular classes, and officials, seeking to maintain order, discipline, and high standards in the schools, were adverse to placing them in regular classrooms. To satisfy the requirements of compulsory education laws and the wishes of the schools, school districts created the community equivalent of institutions—special segregated classes. Exceptional students were not isolated in institutions, but they were very much separated in special classes, which were given many different names: ungraded classes, opportunity classes, auxiliary classes, and classes for particular conditions. Problem children, thus removed from the mainstream, could not contaminate the learning of normal children or lower the standards of the school.

The fact that children, like my son, are being educated in public schools seems to say not so much that society wants to teach them but that it is forced to do so. So Columbia’s Gil Eyal can call for public debates all he wants. It doesn’t matter how willing we are to help autistic individuals “have a meaningful level of membership in society.” If we don’t help them, we are breaking the law.

Podcast 18

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Talk to You Later: Notes to My Son, March 27, 2009,
Throwing Homework in the Trash

CMA (California Modified Assessment)

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Having first heard of the CMA (California Modified Assessment) test last year, I got a real taste for it today at a meeting for resource specialist teachers. Basically, it’s a test for kids with disabilities to be given in lieu of the CAT6/CST, those nightmare tests I’ve been torturing kids with for years. (Try giving state tests to kids who are two or three years behind without any real accommodations, ADHD and SLD kids who two days into the two weeks of testing are ready to jump out of their skin. No fun.) As I noted to a colleague “This test is revolutionary.” Imagine: a test that lets kids use calculators without penalizing them, that shortens comprehension passages without dumbing them down. A TEST THAT ACTUALLY LETS THE STUDENT SUCCEED. Of course, there are certain provisos, which I share below, but the idea that students may be getting testing relief soon is very encouraging. A teacher at the meeting who piloted the test last year sang its praises, the Johnson Baby Shampoo of state exams: “No more tears.” We were all getting pretty worked up when the presenter told us it was too late to give the test this year; it has to be specially ordered. She also reminded us that only 2% of the school can take it. But I say, Who cares! It’s a start. And if I had a school-aged child who had  struggled with state tests in the past I’d be banging on the principal’s door. This new exam? This CMA? This is the test I want my child to take:


The CMA is a new grade-level assessment for students who have an individualized education program (IEP), are receiving grade-level instruction, and, even with interventions, will not achieve grade-level proficiency within the year covered by the student’s IEP. The purpose of the CMA tests is to allow students with disabilities greater access to demonstrate their achievement of the California content standards in English–language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science. Eligible students in grades four and seven also complete a writing assessment—the CMA for Writing—as a part of the CMA for ELA.

See the California Department of Education’s California Modified Assessment Web page for more information about the CMA.

Who Takes the CMA in 2009?

Students in grades three through eight may take one or more of the CMA tests if they:

  • Have an IEP that specifies that they take the CMA for one or more subject; and
  • Scored below basic or far below basic in a previous year on the CSTs for any subject and may have taken the CSTs with modifications (these students may take one or all of the grade-level CMA tests); and
  • Are not eligible to take the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA).

Students shall not take the CMA if they:

  • Do not have an IEP; or
  • Are eligible to take the CAPA.

Podcast 12

Thursday, March 5th, 2009


To My Son: 3/5/09
Photo by S