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PARCC: Still Trying to Hold Itself Together

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has a new website.

On May 02, 2017, one could still access the old link for the PARCC governing board (archived here)– the one listing Hanna Skandera as the PARCC governing board chair.

On July 02, 2017, the old PARCC governing board link was still active (archived here), but with DC superintendent, Hanseul Kang listed as chair. Skandera is still listed as New Mexico education superintendent, despite her having resigned effective June 20, 2017.

Interestingly, Skandera continues to be listed as NM ed sec on the new PARCC web page, now called parccgoverningboard.org., despite her “passing the reins” to NM deputy ed sec, Christopher Ruszkowski (Louisiana Teach for America executive director/state ed board member, Kira Orange-Jones’ husband).

The PARCC governing board on the revamped PARCC website is listed as follows:

If one clicks the link for Skandera, one reaches a generic NM ed dept page.

Another link on revamped PARCC takes one to the “states and organizations” page— which is written in such a way to convey the misleading message that even states that are only purchasing PARCC items are certainly *taking the test*:

In the 2016-2017 school year, students in Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) will take the test.

Note that Louisiana is included as “taking the test”; however, the term “PARCC” is not even mentioned on this summary of Louisiana’s 2016-17 assessments. Not to worry, though, notes PARCC on its “assessment options” page— which includes cautions about comparability as part of an incomplete graphic presented at the top of the page. However, I preserved the PARCC testing options caveat in this November 2015 post.

The bottom line is that there is no “the test” PARCC comparison for Louisiana’s assessments using PARCC items since the 2015 Louisiana legislature voted to limit 2015-16 PARCC items to just under half of any Louisiana assessment content (see Act 342).

However, PARCC continues to try to plug along. Never mind that as of this August 2017 writing, its most recent press release is from December 2016, and its most recent featured news item is dated March 17, 2017.

And its official vendor, Pearson (still identified in graphic on the “assessment options” page) continues to shed thousands of employees in the name of *restructuring.*

PARCC and Pearson: Both floundering.

flounder

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Birthday Wish Met and Then Some!

On the late evening of August 05, 2017, I posted a thank you message to the many kind supporters of my birthday fundraiser for my attendance at the upcoming Network for Public Education (NPE) conference in Oakland, California, in October.

At the time of that posting, people had generously contributed $1,158 of my $1,350 GoFundMe goal, which was enough for airfare, hotel, and airport parking, and for which I was truly thankful.

By breakfast on the morning of August 06, 2017, not only had my goal of $1,350 been completely met but also exceeded by $300, for a remarkable campaign total of $1,650.

Your thoughtfulness is indeed touching. Thank you so very much.

And in case you were wondering, as of lunchtime today, my scrumptious birthday cake is gone, baby, gone. 🙂

birthday cake gone

 

Thank You for Supporting My Birthday Fundraiser. :)

Part of my birthday celebration on August 03, 2017, the day that I turned 50 years old, involved my launching this GoFundMe campaign to assist with financing my attendance at the Fourth Annual Network for Public Education (NPE) conference to be held in Oakland, California, on October 14-15, 2017.

To those who contributed to my campaign, I thank you wholeheartedly.

Let me tell you what you gave me:

  • My airfare (even if it is on the more expensive end; I have yet to purchase the ticket)
  • My hotel stay for both days
  • My airport parking fee

All that remains is my conference registration fee and incidentals.

In other words, through your collective thoughtfulness and generosity, you have made my out-of-pocket expenses related to my upcoming NPE attendance feather-light…

… as light as, say, what now remains of my birthday cake.

birthday cake almost gone

Thank you so much!

Regards–

–Mercedes

 

 

Today I Turn 50, and I Have a Birthday Wish…

On August 03, 2017, I turn 50 years old.

I think that is so cool.

On August 02, 2017, AARP officially invited me aboard. 🙂

50th Birthday Cake

If one wants to be technical, my birthday isn’t until 5:05 p.m., but my mother has often reminded me that she started labor at 7:30 a.m. and that it was quite the long day.

I tell her that I remember it well. 😉

This year, my major birthday wish is for those who feel so inclined to help fund my attendance to the Network for Public Education (NPE) conference in Oakland, California, on October 14-15, 2017.

To that end, I have created this GoFundMe campaign.  Please take a look.

And in case there is any doubt, let me clearly note that I do intend to consume a substantial portion of the very cake pictured above following dinner on the evening of August 3rd. (Almond cake with pineapple filling– the way a birthday cake should be.)

me at 6 months small

Me at 6 months. Hairstyle via static electricity.

 

Betsy DeVos Throws Together Superintendents Meeting in Grand Rapids, Gives Appearance of Public Involvement

If I were US secretary of education, and I really wanted to interact with public school superintendents in my home state, I would not do what US ed sec Betsy DeVos did:

Call the supporter who considers DeVos “a great win for children” and have her throw together a prescribed (manageable) number of local superintendents for a “see, I talk to public school administrators” publicity opportunity.

According to US Department of Education (USDOE) press release dated August 02, 2017, the above is exactly what DeVos did, and she used her sometimes supporter, Grand Rapids (MI) superintendent, Teresa Weatherall Neal, to both hastily organize (and limit) the event and also serve as official spokesperson for how super this orchestrated DeVos Meets Public School Supers fared:

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited Grand Rapids (MI) Public Schools today for a roundtable discussion with superintendents from across the state of Michigan. The secretary opened the conversation by asking the group: “How can I best help you serve your students?”

The superintendents and the secretary discussed the following topics, among others:

  • recruiting, honoring and retaining effective teachers
  • equipping teachers with professional development and skills not taught in many higher education institutions
  • addressing regulatory burdens that limit flexibility for local educators and pull school leaders out of the classroom
  • implementing personalized learning solutions to better meet the needs of students
  • providing services necessary to help students grow and thrive inside and outside of school

“We had a very productive and insightful conversation,” said Secretary DeVos. “I appreciate each of the superintendents traveling to Grand Rapids to share their ideas and observations on how we can better work together to serve all students. I left the meeting re-assured that giving local leaders more control is important to improving education for every student in America.”

Grand Rapids Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal who hosted the meeting, gave the following statement:

“Last week, I received a call from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ office asking me if I would host a meeting with approximately 25 superintendents from across the state. We invited a diverse group of superintendents from all corners of the state representing urban, suburban, and rural districts. The Secretary specifically asked for superintendents to share how best she and her department could better serve our districts. It was a very open, positive, respectful and constructive dialogue with superintendents sharing their issues, concerns and ideas specific to the federal budget, policy issues, regulations, reporting requirements, assessments and more. …

“I know I can speak for my colleagues when I say we are really grateful for the time and opportunity to meet with Secretary DeVos. We look forward to an on-going dialogue on how we can work together to improve education outcomes for all children.”

Today’s event followed a teacher roundtable Secretary DeVos held on Tuesday at the Van Andel Education Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As for that August 01, 2017, Van Andel visit: According to the July 31, 2017, Grand Rapids The River, USDOE did not announce DeVos’ Van Andel “teacher roundtable” (doesn’t read like anything other than rushed, brief, highly-structured PR event):

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will visit Grand Rapids Community College and Van Andel Education Institute on Tuesday, August 1.

Secretary DeVos will visit Grand Rapids Community College from 1:30pm – 3:30pm. She will tour the culinary kitchen, machine lab and apprenticeship facilities. The visit will highlight the apprenticeship and workforce development programs offered at Grand Rapids Community College.

Secretary DeVos will also visit Van Andel Education Institute on Tuesday where she will observe a student STEM program and participate in a teacher roundtable. The visit will highlight science education and STEM instruction at Van Andel.

The travel plans were announced by the U.S. Department of Education this evening.

DeVos’ schedule, posted only a week at a time but apparently not before the week begins, offers “open press” but little time for press to organize and arrive– and no real indication just how “open” DeVos’ time with the press actually is.

In short, it seems that DeVos is strategizing on how to give the appearance of interaction and availability even as she protects herself from it. And why not? The public interferes with DeVos’ plans, like her plan to have a single contractor oversee USDOE’s trillion-dollar student loan portfolio. As the August 01, 2017, Washington Post reports, that idea has been nixed:

The Trump administration on Tuesday canceled a contract solicitation that would have handed the management of the federal government’s $1.2 trillion portfolio of education loans to a single company amid growing complaints from industry stakeholders and lawmakers. …

DeVos faced a flurry of criticism when she announced plans to have one contractor instead of nine manage the federal student loan portfolio. The changes, which would have taken effect once the existing contracts expire in 2019, riled some lawmakers, advocacy groups and at least one servicing company.

If you give them time and information, that nuisance of a public will only interfere.

Best to keep ’em guessing, eh, Betsy?

 

betsy devos 4  Betsy DeVos

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Passion to Teach: A Film Celebrating the Teacher-Student Dynamic

I just finished viewing the 90-minute film, Passion to Teach, which I was asked to review by its producers, career teachers, Bart Nourse and Sandria Parsons.

A five-minute trailer is available here:

The film focuses on the experiences of Connecticut middle school teacher, Amy Lake. A central theme of Passion to Teach is the indispensability of the teacher-student relationship in fostering intrinsically-motivated, lifelong learning in students and the symbiotic nature of the teacher-student dynamic as one that contributes to lifelong learning in career teachers.

Other noteworthy contributors include

  • Ann Lieberman, noted teacher educator and author of Teacher Learning and Leadership
  • Divans Hutchinson, middle school teacher and recipient, Outstanding Teacher award, NAACP Los Angeles
  • Rob Fried, education professor and author of The Passionate Teacher, and
  • Maurice Gibbons, classroom teacher, professor, and author of the Self-Directed Learning Handbook. Gibbons’ article, “Walkabout: Searching for the Right Passage from Childhood and School,” is the all-time most requested reprint at Phi Delta Kappan.

Passion to Teach is a phenomenal film that poignantly defies the processed-food-product nature of top-down, politically-popular, test-score-centered education reforms.

I have two favorite parts. The first involves an assignment in which students and volunteer adults recreate immigrant arrival at Ellis Island and the subsequent application process for gaining US citizenship.

The second involves the end of the film, an ending that celebrates the teacher-student connection that extends well beyond a student’s time in a beloved teacher’s classroom.

However, the major point of the Parsons-Nourse film is not merely to celebrate the teacher-student relationship. It is to fuel pro-public-school activism.

As Nourse writes:

First, to be sure, our movie is just a piece of the story of ed reform. The focus of the story of Passion to Teach is on an individual as a metaphor for timeless, passionate teaching. The context of the story is institutional reform.  So, our movie is part of a work in progress, one for the long haul.  But that work always begins with a teacher.

And, second, there is the question of action after reading a book or watching a movie.  Writing letters, protesting, and joining with others are important actions.  Many such actions (and here is where we are heading) need to lead to elections and to legislation.  Democratic power lies in law-makers and laws that empower public opinion.

The state-by-state march of [US Secretary of Education Betsy] DeVos and other oligarchs and ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) amount to disastrous educational policies… but effective political strategies.  We must fight fire with fire.  We must organize second to none.  Those who would strengthen public education must strengthen their own power and legitimacy vis-a-vis the public who elects its reps.  This is how democracy works.

There are many ways to advocate for candidates, to legislate for public education.  But one way is this:  Write state legislation that constructs, brick by brick, a true teaching profession.  True professions, like doctoring and nursing, have a measure of self-regulation (e.g. overseeing certification, professional development, peer review).  Ballot initiatives advocated by teacher and parent leaders and those closest to children, laws that are intended to professionalize teaching, might well effect the enduring renewal of our workforce and our public schools.  As it is now, generations of students are bouncing back and forth with transient politics.  Our young people deserve better.

The above are critical parts of the trajectory that we hope to follow public viewings of Passion to Teach.

And I am pleased to add that the film is available for public showings through school districts, schools of education, community organizations at the modest cost of $365 per viewing– an institutional cost for an institutional venue.

To find out more about upcoming screenings in the works in Michigan, Florida, Massachusetts, and Vermont, feel free to email the producers at info@maverick2mainstream.org.

In order to find out more about hosting a screening, go to passiontoteach.org and click on the link, “host a screening.”

apple heart

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

CPS Teacher Coaches/Mentors Apparently Do Exist– and Can Be Verified Via Vendor Number

In 2016, Louisiana state superintendent John White purported to have been a teacher coach and mentor for Chicago Public Schools (CPS):

JW ed leader cert

However, White has never been hired by CPS. Teach for America (TFA) was, but not White. White worked for TFA. In, um, creatively reframing his TFA experience, White was apparently trying to pad his years of experience as a teacher. (For comprehensive details on this saga, see this post.)

Nevertheless, even though John White has never been hired by CPS to be a teacher coach and mentor, the position of CPS teacher coach and mentor apparently does exist, according to this commenter, who refers to him-/herself as “Reteach 4 America.”

This individual offers insight into how being a CPS teacher coach and mentor actually works– including the assigning of a vendor number to those independently contracted to work for CPS.

Whereas the commenter does not include his/her name, the fact that he/she can readily produce two independent contractor vendor listings from CPS for two of the years that John White reports being a teacher coach and mentor lends credibility to the comment, which I include in full below:

I was a CPS Teacher Coach/Mentor for a few years, including one of the years that White claimed to do the same. Those without Illinois certification but who had other relevant training and experience could be hired as Independent Contractors, for which they are given a vendor number. In Arne Duncan’s approval letter to TFA, a vendor number for TFA is provided, not one for White. The CPS Department of Procurement is required to report all expenditures to vendors annually and, as you can see here, TFA is listed on the reports, but not John White:

2005: http://www.csc.cps.k12.il.us/purchasing/uploadedfiles/solicitations/vendor_info_2005.html
2006: http://www.csc.cps.k12.il.us/purchasing/uploadedfiles/solicitations/vendor_info_2006.html

Without IL certification, an Independent Contractor cannot serve as a teacher in charge of a classroom of students in public schools. For White to have been qualified to do that under the TFA vendor number, I believe he would have to have been like any other TFAer, enrolled in a graduate program leading to a master’s degree with certification and gotten a provisional certificate to teach from the state. If he had been given a provisional certificate, the state would have a record of it.

I don’t think White could have been hired as a TFAer tasked with coaching and mentoring veteran teachers though, because there is very high regard for Teacher Coaches/Mentors at CPS due to their extensive training and experience, while TFAers are known to be novices.

At any rate, if White had really been a Teacher Coach/Mentor for CPS, he would have known that we provided guidance and supports to teachers, both inside their classrooms and out, and while we might have modeled some effective teaching practices for them, we did not take over their classes and teach in place of them for a couple years!

If, indeed.

Thank you, Reteach 4 America, for this useful information related to independently contracting with CPS.

No vendor number, no contract.

jackalope 2

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.