Friday, May 3, 2013

Randi's "Mid-Course" Babble on Common Core: Who's doing more harm to public education, Glenn Beck or Randi Weingarten?

Can we call for a moratorium on Randi Weingarten? -- Fred Smith
Susan Ohanian asked that intriguing question about Glenn Beck and Randi in the headline. The amount of damage Randi's AFT/UFT capitulation has done to public education is exposed as parents and teachers reacted to Weingarten's worthless words to cover her ass with a soundbite when the entire common core crap she has had the AFT/UFT push down everyone's throats comes apart, as so much of ed deform has before it, ed deform that Weingarten supported and enabled.

Here is more from Susan:
Extreme Common Core rhetoric clouds serious debate
The fact that Phyllis Schlaffley and I agree on opposing the Common Core doesn't scare me. . . or drive me into alignment with her other opinions. If you doubt her proposition about training students to be obedient servants of the government, think about the way teachers are being forced to become obedient servants of the government's Common Core. Remember: the Feds are pushing the Common Core States agreed to adopt the Common Core only because they didn't want to risk access to federal monies. Of course state departments of education are now rushing to push quite bizarre curriculum.

I'm disappointed that Valerie Strauss chooses to give lots of ink to the "teachers need more time" approach a la Randi Weingarten. I commented on Weingarten's 'teachers need more time' strategy here.

Teachers don't need more time to learn the Common Core. They need to stand up for their right make professional decisions. They need to learn how to say no. The outrage is that teachers have no union or professional organization to organize and bolster their professional independence.

Who's doing more harm to public education? Glenn Beck or Randi Weingarten?

It's a question worth discussing. 
Susan is in town for the weekend to speak at a conference I can't attend. I was hoping to discuss that question and I'm hoping she will be around for a chat.

Yesterday I posted about about media mea culpas (or mid-course corrections if you prefer) regarding ed deform (As Ed Deform Failures Mount, Mid-Course Correction for Former Cheerleaders Merrow, Goldstein, Weingarten) and promised a follow-up today on Randi Weingarten's common core moratorium speech the other day. How people still take her waffling seriously still baffles me.

There were some good comments on my post:
There's a quote attributed to Churchill, where he supposedly said of the Germans, that they're either "at your feet or at your throat."

In fact, this perfectly describes the cravenness of the media and most journalists: they sycophantically build people up, then join the lynch mob to bring them down.

While I'm pleased that John Merrow - whose recent reporting on Michelle Rhee is superb - and Dana Goldstein finally seem to be half-awake about what so-called education reform really means, that does not excuse the fact that they have helped enable the ongoing destruction of public education and teaching with their earlier credulous, hero-worshipping, accept-the-premises-of-the-powerful coverage.

It's a good thing that they are finally exposing some of the racist, class war elements embedded in so-called education reform, but they're also one of the reasons we face the dilemmas we do.

As for Weingarten, she's hopeless, and is not correcting anything. She is merely throwing out some sound bites she can refer to later, so she can (falsely) claim that she opposes high stakes testing. In fact, she bears as much responsibility as anyone for the life-or-death situation the public schools and their teachers face. She could have strangled this bad seed in its crib, yet she chose to collaborate with those who would destroy the public schools and teacher unions.

Her speech this week was a favor granted for past services rendered, giving her a stage for her membership, since there's no chance whatsoever that Tisch, King, Cuomo and the rest will listen to her, and she's knows that full well.
Anon: The latest edition of the AFT paper prominently displays a photo of Karen Lewis CTU President at a rally protesting school closings. Weingarten and her comments are to be taken with two grains of salt as she now speaks out against the common core. She is as phony as a two dollar blomberg Bill. Looks like the AFT wants to take credit for the CTU stand against the reformers. Too little Too late.
There were many comments on Leonie's NYCEducationNews:

Lisa Donlan leads off with some great points that touch on the teacher centric approach vs the broader social justice aspect that MORE advocates:
More salient to the anti HSST is the failure here to question the entire data driven accountability model of the last decade. Rather, teachers need more time and more better curricula aligned w/ the more better tests to meet the deeper higher standards of CCLS.

So many missed opportunities to offer real opposition and raise real issues, such as exposing the actual costs of these tests and data systems as compared to the inadequate sums granted to districts in RttT or the outrageous premiums paid to corporations to develop the much in demand national curricula (rather than state by state as previously), etc, etc.

Once again, in order to be "relevant" and keep a seat at the table, the teachers' union relies on the "yes, but" approach, accepting the basic premises of bad policy and disagreeing only w/how the implementation affects teachers.

What if instead they applied the Karen Lewis sniff test:
Does this advance our goals?
Does this create unity and consensus among allies/
What a different speech this would be!

There is just so much to lament in this speech, starting w/ the "public school on the LES" she cites, which is in fact a HIGHLY selective citywide Gifted and Talented school that has a long history of exclusion of LES, and high needs kids in general (and where Eva's eldest kid is enrolled!). See my posting at GS for more details
Tim Slekar at The Chalkface (full post at bottom):
This is not “solution driven unionism.”  This is individual protectionism. This is nothing more than a massive sell out of AFT membership and American public school children. Randi Weingarten’s call for a “moratorium on the consequences of high stakes testing with the Common Core standards” is worthless! We don’t need a moratorium on “consequences” associated with the Common Core.  We need the abolition of all high-stakes testing and dissolution of the Common Core. Anything else is a capitulation to the destructive forces of the education reform machine!
Loretta Prisco:
She sings the same tune as Mulgrew- It's not mayoral control - only this mayor. It is not high stakes testing - only the way they are being implemented. It is not common core - on the way that they are presented without teacher input an training.
Justin Wedes:
What a courageous stand, Randi! ... let the corporate reformers institute their national curriculum and THEN test the hell out of the kids. Ugh.
Fred Smith:
This outrages me. When did Randi get the memo? Why don't these poseurs get lost!!! The leaderless UFT would rather control a corrupt system than clean it up. Yours truly called for a moratorium, before I knew which way the wind was blowing. Do I get royalties?
Some people did not take exception to Randi's speech, which prompted some debate. 

Deb Meier:
Clarify for me---what is it about her speech or demands etc etc that angers you so? Spell it out for me. Thanks. Deb
Justin Wedes:
What angers me is that Randi could easily stand up and say "Enough is enough! End the Common Core! End high stakes testing! Let's tax the corporations and use the money to give districts autonomy and the needed resources to create their own culturally-relevant curriculum rather than selling out our children to a corporate logo-laden national curriculum designed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation" but instead we get this luke-warm, please-nobody-except-Arne-Duncan nonsense. This article pretty much sums up - generously to Randi, in my opinion - where the country stands on Common Core.
Jim Devor agrees with Deb:
As explained in the article pointed to by Justin, the Common Core "standards emphasize critical thinking and problem solving and encourage thinking deeply about fewer topics." Given the hysterical response on this list to Randi's speech, it is obvious that the objection is NOT to its implementation, but rather the very IDEAS underlying the Common Core. Or as the Jefferson Airplane sang in my youth, "got to revolution!" Apparently then, actually developing a coherent pedagogical policy is only suitable for the Upper Classes - not the peasants who attend public schools and CERTAINLY not for the teachers who toil in those corrupt and decrepit vineyards.
Lisa Donlan replies:
Just like NCLB closed the achievement gap and RttT fostered innovation and flexibility! Let's not confuse the hype w/ the reality.
Deb Meier:
But surely you don't expect her to say that. And I'm not sure most teachers would want her to do so. We've got a lot of work still to do to persuade our colleagues. You do so daily I'm sure, and it's frustrating but... there's more to be done!!!!
Jim Devor:
I agree with you that much of the Common Core stuff is hype. At a minimum, it would be nice if a curriculum were developed that could be examined and critiqued. Still, just as reducing the achievement gap IS a worthy goal, so is a lot of the values underlying Common Core. After all, it shares many of the precepts found in progressive education as advanced by John Dewey. Merely because hucksters are trying to make a buck off it don't make it fundamentally wrong. I kind of think that was Randi's point. But I could be wrong.
While we're at it, make sure to sign this petition:

If we're getting screwed, we have the right to see the screwdrivers.

Below is the full ChalkFace piece

high stakes testing moratorium? @slekar says not enough!

Sorry, but Randi Weingarten’s call for a “moratorium on the consequences of high stakes testing with the Common Core standards” is worthless!
We don’t need a moratorium on “consequences” associated with the Common Core.  We need the abolition of all high-stakes testing and dissolution of the Common Core.

Anything else is a capitulation to the destructive forces of the education reform machine!

According to Randi, “We have the ability to transform the very DNA of teaching and learning, to move away from rote memorization and endless test taking, and toward problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork….”
What in the world is she talking about?  I agree with her first assertion and that the DNA of teaching and learning will be transformed.  However, let’s be honest.  The transformation will really be a genetic mutation that disfigures teaching and learning so that “rote memorization and endless test taking” will be at the core of all teaching and learning.   Problem solving, critical thinking, and teamwork will be forever banned from the genetic material that makes up real teaching and learning.

However, I do agree with Randi that “[t]he Common Core standards have the potential to be a once-in-a-generation revolution in education….”  If we allow this “revolution” to proceed we will destroy authentic teaching and learning and reduce our children to untapped vessels of data. We are literally about to sell the souls (data) of millions of children in the name of the Common Core and this will revolutionize education!

There is no middle ground on the Common Core.  It is a curriculum directly linked to high stakes testing and the selling of data to for profit companies.
Someone has to say it!
This is not “solution driven unionism.”  This is individual protectionism. This is nothing more than a massive sell out of AFT membership and American public school children.

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