Sunday, March 15, 2015

#204 March 15, 2015- Springing Backwards in Education

Spring is the time when we typically think about fresh starts and new beginnings.  Even the "loss" of an hour is viewed as a step "forward" and we enjoy increased daylight, warmer temperatures and the change from what is too often a long, cold winter here in Wisconsin.  Spring should be a season of growth and optimism.

Unfortunately, spring has become a tough season for public education and those who work and learn in our schools.  It is a time when budgets are created.  Budgets which have become tighter and tighter in recent years.   The drive to "balance" Wisconsin's state budget, as misleading as that statement has become, has resulted in devastating cuts to local school funding.  Add to those challenges the threat of money being diverted to voucher schools and the costliness of "accountability reforms" like testing and Educator Effectiveness and school districts are left with no alternative but to make deep and disruptive cuts.

Propopents of the proposal in Walker's budget say a change in state law would allow cash-strapped rural schools to save money by educating all children in a...|By Patrick Leary

The Madison School District needs to close a budget gap of at least $12.2 million.|By Molly Beck | Wisconsin State Journal

Spring is also a time when educators make their plans for the upcoming school year and allocations for staffing is announced.  All of the uncertainty around school budgets, what programming will look like and things like class size and configurations are unsettling for educators.  We see stress levels increase for students, families and educators who all are wondering what their schools will look like next year.  Increasingly, we are seeing quality educators decide to leave the profession early or move to different places where a stronger commitment to education is displayed.       

A teacher asks her state superintendent to give her and her colleagues more instructional time -- or suffer an exodus of good teachers.

Breaking education news about schools and further education. Find leading opinion, podcasts, comment and analysis on education from TES News

Enrollment at teacher training programs is down in many parts of the country, raising fears of a looming teacher shortage.

Of course it isn't all about the money.  In fact, many educators would tell you that they would continue to work for the wages we receive (although we can't absorb any more cuts to our take home pay) if we could return to the days when we really could teach our students.  The current movement towards standardization and the mythology around educator and school accountability is impacting educator morale in ways that the financial aspects of education don't come close to reaching. 

It isn't just about educators and our desire to teach students in more holistic and integrated ways.  The damage being done to our students is very real, and very disturbing.  Professional educators understand that students learn more, enjoy learning and are more engaged when they are taught in creative ways that unite disciplines and that assess their progress through meaningful and realistic methods.  The "reforms" to education that have arisen out of the assessment and standardization mindset have not impacted achievement gaps, nor have they improved the quality of education for our students.  Instead, they have increased the discontent of educators, students, families and communities and paved the way for educational profiteering and privatization.  

I used to be a public school teacher.  I have taught in four different public schools in three different states.  I have taught in very affluent areas and lower income...

Many teachers are tired of cycles of education reform that come with new trendy ideas about how they should do their job. What does all the hype look like from...

The people most often cited as 'education experts' in blogs and news stories may have the backing of influential organizations - but have little background in education and education policy, a new study suggests.

If we are going to reinstate spring as a season of hope, then it is important that we change the way we approach education, and change the power structures that exist around our schools.  Administrators need to listen to the professionals who work in the schools they lead and be willing to cede some of the power to these educators.  Educators need to be vocal in their efforts to improve our instruction and actively work to promote policies and practices that truly work for students.  Our families, students and community members need to become informed about issues that impact them and be advocates for themselves in a system that all too often favors the status quo over the needs of the individual.  It is only through a cooperative effort of those who work in, learn in and rely on our schools that a truly great system of public education can emerge from the current chaotic climate that exists around education.     

Distributed leadership is not about delegating tasks, but giving individuals ownership over outcomes and creating a culture of innovation.

Award-winning educator writes that because Congress is not expected to eliminate annual standardized testing in the new version of No Child Left...

Sometimes I scratch my head when I read about the government's efforts to improve schools: new standards and tests that have to be implemented immediately, punitive teacher evaluations, and threats of school closures and...

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .
The Good . . . The pushback against the excessive amounts of standardized testing is gaining momentum.  Now to see what happens here in Wisconsin.
My home state of South Carolina is an ideal lesson in education reform. SC is a high-poverty state (in the bottom quartile of affluence in the U.S.) that committed early to the accountability era b...

State education officials moved Wednesday to dramatically recast California's system to evaluate school quality by suspending the use...|By Los Angeles Times

The Bad . . . It seems so obvious that right to work is anything but legislation that helps workers, yet half of the states in the U.S. now have these laws on the books. 

Overhauling more than a half century of labor law in Wisconsin, Gov. Walker Monday signed so-called right-to-work legislation banning labor contracts that require private sector workers to pay labor fees.|By Meg Kissinger And Jason Stein

The initial results are not unexpected, and it is unlikely things will get better unless the law is repealed. 

Hoffman Construction, a major road building and mining company, is abandoning Wisconsin because of the Right to Work legislation just passed.

America needs unions, our nation is stronger when democracy flourishes. 

Faith in democracy, whether it be in Washington or the workplace, is fundamental to the survival of our republic.|By The Daily Take Team

If you’re in the American middle class—or what’s left of it—here’s how you probably feel. You feel like you’re struggling harder than your parents did, working longer hours than ever before, and yet falling further and further behind. The...|By Nick Hanauer

International Monetary Fund researchers are detailing just how much societies suffer — and top executives grab — when trade unions have no strong presence.

Here in Wisconsin we've been told that unions are corrupting the democratic process.  Could it be that there is another side to the story that might tell a different tale?

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel either has no understanding of campaign finance, or is willfully misleading her readers. In either case, her...

The Ugly . . . As Walker's candidacy gains momentum, we are left wondering when, if ever, the facts will finally catch up with him.

Unemployment rates are up in every Wisconsin county and major city.|By AP

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) has 2016 presidential ambitions, but he's facing budget problems in his home state. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)...

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