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You may remember… Only two states were accepted in the first Race to The Top Competition… Delaware..*yay* and  Tennessee.   Same agenda. Same connections to the Governor’s Association and Chiefs For Change… Same influences, etc…

Let me tell you where Tennessee is now…

In three weeks, they start their school year… yes, August 3rd.   This past year they instituted a non-renewal policy that said if you’re scores were not above standard, your contract would not be renewed… AND you would be marked as ineligible for rehire. 

(Someone thought the threat of firing would cause scores to rise.)

One of their larger districts is undergoing some pain right now…

The Metro- Nashville Public School system is experiencing a teacher shortage… 

  • So far, 320 new teachers have been hired- 42 are TFA ( which is the maxamim limit of them which MNPS is allowed to hire)
  • The average # of new teachers hired each year (based upon the last 5 years) is 574
  • 19% of schools will have new principals
  • Currently, MNPS needs to hire 189 new teachers before school starts in three weeks
  • MNPS still needs to hire 7 principals.
  • There are 74  (out of 153) schools with major teacher vacancies
  • The top needs are: Exceptional Ed (22), Math (19), English Learners (10) and Spanish (9)
  • Just 21 (15 working) days to the start of school.

 

Obviously the strict discipline enforced on teachers has made the upcoming year to be one of survival; not excellence…. Just keeping open the doors will be a challenge, heaven help the test scores of 2017…

Also keep in mind that many of those teachers whose contracts were not renewed, were once considered excellent teachers before we started using Common Core’s tests.  from the district’s website:

  • Sixty-one percent of MNPS teachers hold a master’s degree or higher and 99.75 percent are highly qualified in at least one subject area

That 0.25 % not qualified matches up with the TFA candidates…..

Which proves as all have said, the folly of putting all education’s blame on teachers… Now, you have no teachers so what are you going to do?

Well the MNPS plans to contract out to a computer teaching service for its classes having no bodies in front of it… as well as wave all certification requirements for anyone willing to stand up in front of a class.

Yes.

NOW FOR THE GREAT NEWS…………………………………………………………………………..

This isn’t happening in Delaware.

Why?

Mostly because of you, who objected to insanity and would not be silenced… Though corporate money could buy out Earl Jacques, corporate money could buy out Dave Sokola, it could not buy out parents, it could not buy out teachers, and it could not tamper with the communication system set up between them…..

As a historian I am prone to look for those important moments and speculate had they gone differently, what the new outcome would be… I know that is a weakness of mine. But saying so, if one were to ask this historian where Delaware avoided the train wreak its sister is now going through, I would have to point to the pivot as being John Young of Christina’s Board of Education…

Keep in mind we are a small state.  The Metro-Nashville school district alone has 80,000 students.  That is two thirds the size of our entire state school system and they are but one district.  Therefore each citizen here has a larger percentage of a voice in their government than do almost everyone else.

We also do not have a television station all turn to for local news. There is a definite knowledge gap which most smart people have found is best adequately filled through the blogosphere.  Our blogosphere has more investigative reporters then the entire state’s news conglomeration of radio stations and newspapers combined…

As a result of all of this, here it was hard to only give “one side” of the story (though Dave Sokola certainly tried). The other story got out, sometimes too late to change legislation, but not to late to now hold those perpetrators who pushed it, accountable for the damage they have caused Delaware’s children in lost opportunities…

(Remember how our educational measurements soared, up until they hit the Common Core legislation these crooks pushed through?)

With all those kept in mind, it was John Young who pointed the direction long before anyone else publicly, that corporate schemes were behind this new “push” for improving education…  I confess, I remember glossing over Kilroy’s exclamations of Markell’s Wall Street connections with glazed eye before John passed on an illuminating tidbit on what was wrong with American education…

What struck me in that video was how on a map, it was very obvious that the diagnosis of ADHD in children starts in Oklahoma and grows exponentially as it heads to the east Coast.  Pretty much mirroring the graph for average amounts of extra disposable income after necessary expenses have been met on a state by state basis….

That and the failure Common Core was having among children who were in the test classes for it… Failures as high as 85% in those test classes, which the DOE still as yet has not divulged. These failures included some of the previous years’ top students… Something was seriously wrong.

Bottom line, Delaware did not go down the path as did Tennessee because the people exerted enough pressure here to slow the process and force the inclusion of parents, teachers, and “active” administrators in the formulation of policy….

No, we still do not have a perfect solution… we still need to fight on… But in all glaring truth, we also do not have Tennessee…..

And that, is a victory for truth, justice, and the will of the American people…. We should be proud of ourselves for what we stopped…. and we should tip our hats to John Young in congratulatory thanks for first sounding the alarm which mobilized us into action….

In a great measure due to him, we are much better than Tennessee.

 

 

 

 

 

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There is a reason we call it “Special Education.”

It was simply because “regular education” was not enough for some human beings…  We had to do different things, teach in different ways, and expect different results… Some of these have disabilities that prevent them from being productive in adult life.. That is the cast of fate’s die.  But a super-majority of those who pass through the halls of special education do acquire basic skills that allow them to hold down jobs, and live lives that benefit both them, and society at large…..

So this new idea coming from Arne Duncun that we have to test those in “special education” with the very difficult tests we are giving their peers, a test all adults think if gibberish, is very bizarre.

It would be the equivalent in the world of transportation, of forcing the Amish to feed their horses gasoline, so we can have a better theoretical on how much gas we might someday need in our future.

It is just bizarre.

Special Education has the word “special” for the very reason it is not like main stream education… It requires teachers of “special” talents.  It requires environments that are “special” in that they lack normal distractions.  It requires closer supervision because of great chances that something might go wrong… I mean who would ever think of trying to teach 40 special educational kids of all types in one classroom?

Up until the 20th Century people who were “special” were locked away.  Resources to deal with them were just too costly.  It is only in the most recent blip in human history that we have ever attempted to give them lives of meaning. Most of us would think doing so was a noble cause.

It all comes down to money really…

Our big Phama companies no longer research drugs for diseases that affect small numbers of people  which could actually heal and do some good, focusing only on things affecting the largest amount of people, such as high blood pressure, stomach cramps, and erectile dysfunction. They want 100 million to buy their product, as opposed to 10,000….

Which in business I must say, makes sense…   What doesn’t make sense is that no one else is filling in the gap….

So it is with special education.   Special Education is a problem, a pebble in the cog, of becoming more efficient. You will see larger classes this year for all students… That is because like the Pharma companies, if one product (teacher) is able to address larger numbers, the efficiency rate goes up….  If the efficiency rate goes up, those in administration can say “look, I’m saving you money.”….

…with no regard for the product they produce.

It is a very common ailment in most start up companies btw.  Someone makes a cookie that everyone loves.  They start a business and it grows fast.  But they lack business sense or want to enjoy the financial spoils they have earned, and sell out to a management company to run it… The company starts cutting back.  Benefits, hours, and even substituting sugared sawdust for parts of the original ingredients.  It takes time but eventually people decide other cookies are better, or these don’t taste as they remember them, or there is a bitter aftertaste another new start-up brand does not have, and sales decline.  Of course the drop in sales causes drastic cutbacks at the plant, and soon, no one will buy any of their cookies anymore.

It is far more common than you think and it has a name… corporate philosophy…  for you see during the interim between purchase of the company and its bankruptcy, a lot of money was made… When one focuses only on the temporal results, the money earned outweighed the purchase price and therefore the operation was considered a success….

It wasn’t a success for the original inventor.  He now is the butt of all jokes regarding really bad cookies.  It wasn’t a success for the original employees,  they all got poorer.  It wasn’t a success for the shareholders.  They got left with junk. It wasn’t a success for consumers who having just one bite of that original cookie could pretty much justify their entire day… They moved on, though those memories of those great emotional moments still lingered.

There is a lot of hurt behind “corporate philosophy”….   It has a cost.  but that cost is not counted on those books we deem important…  And in the big picture that has got to change…

It did once…

FDR and the New Deal experimented and changed the world’s way of looking at things… and Reagan started the undoing, like when someone pulls one loop out of your tied shoelace, so with each step things get looser and looser. Eventually you have to stop.

Looking back it is clear… What FDR’s New Deal basically accomplished, was putting the full cost of corporate philosophy on the corporations themselves…  and of course they didn’t make as much money back then.  But they all did ok. In fact they lasted quite a few years longer than most companies last today… (Here in Delaware I’m thinking of the quick successive buyouts of Delaware Trust and Bank of Delaware; how fast they went as we erased New Deal legislation)… When we changed our laws to send more to the wealthy, we became those ones bearing what used be the true cost of corporations…

Why should that be?

Why do we structure the law so that corporations only pay half of the cost they create and get to keep their money in the process… yet we who have less money now, have to bear the costs of all their misdoings?

Simply put… it is in who you elected… You put people in power who thought corporations making money was more important then YOU making money…  it is not partisan, both parties are now guilty although one, the Republican, is far more dependent on corporate funding than the other…

(Btw… only one candidate right now is taking on this grand problem… Pay attention to him.)

This is what is behind the eradication of “Special” Education… This is what is behind the rational of simply putting “Special” education into mainstream classrooms.  This is what is behind cutting back on “Special” Education because per student, it uses more funding than allotted to “mainstream” students…  This is what is behind the assumption that all children are the same….

This is THE big problem..  allowing special privileges to corporations while sticking you with the cost…

It has been going on in societies ever since the beginning of human civilization.. What is a miracle, is that for once, our lifetimes, it was stopped…..

To do so, it took a Great Depression illuminating the complete dysfunction by the corporatists to fix it, that created the massive one-sided election FDR rode the waves on.  We don’t have to have another Great Depression to do it again… We just need to pay attention to who supports real people, and who is a flakey for corporations to know our answer… And then once we know,… we can let nothing get in our way…

Our Special Ed kids are counting on us… Everyone is counting on us.  You and me, are counting on us….