1. A Standardized Testing Fairytale « Cooperative Catalyst

    At last the powerful men realized that the ideas were being passed down each generation through schools.

    “We must close those darn institutions,” they said.

    “Schools can shape vulnerable young minds,” they complained.

    “What if we were in charge of schools?” another asked.

    “We’ve tried to control schools for decades, but those darn teachers are too liberal,” another responded.

    They hatched a plan. They would weave a tale about the corruption of teachers and the downward spiral of schools. Since the media was controlled by them, any story they released would be BIG news, and would scare the public into ceding control of the public schools to their private interests.

    The public bought their story, especially after the highly publicized release of the movie, Waiting for Standardized-testing man.The few politicians not on their payroll did the same. Very quickly they rammed through a bill they secretly called No Children Left Free. The bill deliberately introduced mind-numbing testing. “Better to control their minds if their minds are weak,” they cackled.

    After a few years, it seemed like their plan was working when all of a sudden they hit a road block. For reasons unknown to them, a blue man had been elected to office! They panicked. They tried everything they could to prevent the blue man from taking office, but he seemed untouchable. “Foul!” they cried. “He was born on the moon!” they claimed. “He is not like us,” they implored, “he will sell our country out to his friends in the hot country.” Nothing worked, and the blue man became high ruler of the land.

    However they discovered that although the blue man was not like them, he had a weakness. He did not understand education. So they tricked him into installing one of their agents as his leader of the schools, and all was good for them again. Their agent, a servant of the dark lords of Accountability, continued their destruction of the public schools. He introduced the Race to the Top of the Mountain bill, and everyone, except some of “those darn liberals” thought it was a great idea.

    When one of the more prominent “darn liberals” spoke out against the Race to the Top of the Mountain legislation, they sent one of their attack dogs to silence her. When the teachers complained about it, they laughed and used their media servants to belittle and humiliate the teachers. “You are just being greedy,” they said as they lined their friends’ pockets with money from the government. “Stop complaining,” they laughed, as they cut services to everyone. “Education needs to be improved in this country,” they lied as they cut spending to education, and worked to destroy teachers. “Competition is healthy for schools,” they claimed, “after all businesses have to compete. Do more, with less.”

    Across the country the Race to the Top of the Mountain idea spread, until teachers felt vilified in their work, to the glee of the men, and most school districts scrambled to compete for the scraps from the trough. Some school districts even found ways to replace teachers with robots to cut costs. Others fired teachers with experience and hired rookies instead, preferring to save money over having schools which worked.

    As the public schools began to fail and be replaced by schools more to the men’s choosing, the men began to get excited.

  2. 5 Lessons from the Save Our Schools & AERO Conferences :: IDEA


    1. When building a national effort, meeting in person can quickly develop essential trust.

    IDEA knows this well, as all of our staff live in different parts of the country but meet in person as regularly as possible. Every day, we connect via email, Skype, and/or phone, but there’s nothing like talking and laughing and even arguing face to face to strengthen our relationships. Hard conversations in particular are much better had in person.

    At both SOS and AERO, I met dozens of passionate education advocates, some totally new to me and some whom I’d gotten to know through long-distance conversations. There were people whom I hugged upon meeting for the first time because I felt like I already knew them, including several of our interns — Jason Lacoste (who published this reflection on AERO), Eoin Bastable, and Kelsey Parks — and colleagues like Jing Fong, the fabulous Education Outreach Manager for YES! Magazine. Also at SOS were folks like Ken Bernstein, or teacherken, whose Daily Kos blog posts I have often shared, and Jonathan Kozol, whose books I began reading while I was still in high school.

    Even though we now tend to interact virtually with more people than we see in real life, we humans still need face-to-face contact. Meeting someone in person tells you much more about them than a phone conversation can — the most important thing being whether you trust that person. This matters very much to how well you work together remotely, especially when times get tough.

    2. We must put aside differences to get stuff done.

    Around 150 SOS participants came together the day after the march for the Congress facilitated by Scott Nine. Our goal was to figure out how to channel the energy from the march into sustained, collective action for change.

    Some very positive results came of the gathering. We split up into small groups based on region, and together we made recommendations for how we’d like SOS to proceed. When we reconvened as a large group, we fused the suggestions from each group and charged a committee of volunteers to make final decisions.

    There were also some disheartening things that happened. Two people approached Scott, crying, and said that members of their small group had told them to shut up. A woman in another small regional group rudely told someone to leave because he wasn’t from that region.

    We will not get anywhere by fighting with people who are on our side. Even when we disagree, which we surely will, we must find ways to work through or put aside our differences for the greater good of the cause. Many of us agree on what kind of changes we want in education; we just disagree on how to make them happen. Ultimately, it’s not about us and our big egos. It’s about the millions of young people who deserve a better education than they’re getting.

    3. Cross-pollinating is key to learning from each other’s experiences.

    At a national conference, you have the opportunity to hear from folks around the country about what they’re learning about and what they’re doing in their communities. You might get some new ideas for projects to try in your classroom, or learn a new strategy for getting the school board to listen. Take the time to cross-pollinate. We will all be stronger for it.

    4. Social media is increasingly important for learning and connecting around social change efforts.

    At SOS and AERO, I was among a small but mighty group of folks who were live-tweeting the conference — that is, making regular updates to Twitter about what we were experiencing moment to moment at the gathering. We quoted Diane Ravitch and Jonathan Kozol’s powerful keynotes, we broadcast the information being shared in the workshops, and we reported on what was happening at the Save Our Schools March. Because of the debt crisis in DC, the mainstream media did not give SOS as much attention as I believe it normally would have, so it was up to the folks using social media to shape the news and the national conversation ourselves.

    You can see IDEA’s Twitter feed, as well as the #sos and #aero8 conversations.

    At AERO, I was honored to present a workshop on “How to Build an Online Community” and a keynote on “How You Can Use Social Media for Social Change.” In these presentations, I shared the ways in which we can use social media to advance our change work in education — by framing the national discussion, building strong communities across boundaries, highlighting what is happening at the community and school levels, and telling powerful stories about young people. Facebook and Twitter can amplify one person’s voice so that it’s heard around the world.

    5. A movement is not sustainable without renewing its sense of hope, joy, inspiration, and fun.

    There’s a reason why singing was a core element of the Civil Rights movement. During even the most trying moments, singing unites a group and renews hope. So does laughter. We will accomplish a lot more if we bring a playful spirit to the work that we do than if we let ourselves become jaded.

  3. (via Daily Kos: Perhaps the best speech at Save Our Schools March Saturday

    was given by a fiery superintendent from Texas, John Kuhn.

    If you want to know what this march was about, please take a few minutes to watch and listen to this video.

    Then pass it on, as widely as you can.  

    Thanks)

    )

  4. SOS 2011—Matt Damon speech in support of Teachers from SOS March

  5. Also if you blog in support of the SOSmarch please use the tag #bloggermarch.

    Love to have a good tumblr presence, even if there are just short burst of support. I will reblog any post that I come across. It is important we all stand together today and tomorrow!

    -adventures in learning

    teamteachers:

    The SOS March is happening today. I recommend following the #SOSMarch hashtag on Twitter for live updates.

    Reblogged from: teamteachers
  6. Matt Damon At SOS Rally- I Think you're Awesome

    This is worth reading, thank you!

    cooperativecatalyst:

    ‘I think you’re awesome!”

    I flew overnight from Vancouver to be with you today. I landed in New York a few hours ago and caught a flight down here because I needed to tell you all in person that I think you’re awesome.

    I was raised by a teacher. My mother is a professor of early childhood education. And from the time I went to Kindergarten through my senior year in high school I went to Public Schools. I wouldn’t trade that education and experience for anything.

    I had incredible teachers. As I look at my life today, the things I value most about myself— my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity— all come from how I was parented and taught.

    And none of these qualities that I’ve just mentioned— none of these qualities that I prize so deeply, that have brought me so much joy, that have brought me so much professional success— none of these qualities that make me who I am… can be tested.

    I said before that I had incredible teachers. And that’s true. But it’s more than that. My teachers were EMPOWERED to teach me. Their time wasn’t taken up with a bunch of test prep— this silly drill and kill nonsense that any serious person knows doesn’t promote real learning. No, my teachers were free to approach me and every other kid in that classroom like an individual puzzle. They took so much care in figuring out who we were and how to best make the lessons resonate with each of us. They were empowered to unlock our potential. They were allowed to be teachers.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I did have a brush with standardized tests at one point. I remember because my mom went to the principal’s office and said, “My kid ain’t taking that. It’s stupid, it won’t tell you anything and it’ll just make him nervous.”

    I shudder to think that these tests are being used today to control where funding goes.

    I don’t know where I would be today if my teachers’ job security was based on how I performed on some standardized test. If their very survival as teachers was based not on whether I actually fell in love with the process of learning but rather if I could fill in the “right” bubble on a test. If they had to spend most of their time desperately drilling us and less time encouraging creativity and original ideas; less time knowing who we were, seeing our strengths and helping us realize our talents.

    I honestly don’t know where I’d be today if that was the type of education I had. I sure as hell wouldn’t be here, I do know that.

    This has been a horrible decade for teachers. I can’t imagine how demoralized you must feel. But I came here today to deliver an important message to you: as I get older, I appreciate more and more the teachers that I had growing up. And I’m not alone. There are millions of people just like me.

    So the next time you’re feeling down, or exhausted, or unappreciated, or at the end of your rope; the next time you turn on the TV and see yourself called “over-paid”; the next time you encounter some simple-minded, punitive policy that’s been driven into your life by some corporate reformer who has literally never taught anyone anything…

    Please know that there are millions of us behind you. You have an army of regular people standing right behind you and our appreciation for what you do is so deeply felt. We love you, we thank you, and we will always have your back.

    (:title Matt Damon Speech at the SOS rally)

    Reblogged from: cooperativecatalyst
  7. Education Week: Teachers March on Washington: A Look at the Issues

    Educators frustrated with federal policies and feeling increasingly under siege by their states will be converging on Washington, D.C., the last week of July 2011 for a rally, conference, and march to the White House. The organizers and endorsers—an array of teachers, advocates, researchers, and bloggers—have several issues that they’re pressing with the Save Our Schools rally. The chart below takes a look at the pro and con positions on seven of those issues.

    Please Join the Bloggermarch at Cooperative Catalyst or SOSmarch! and use the Tag #bloggermarch

  8. #bloggermarch : Walking to School: Why I'm Marching....

    cooperativecatalyst:

    This is a section from one of the growing number of posts in support of the #BloggerMarch and Save Our School march… please add your posts to the comment section on Cooperative Catalyst and use the tag #bloggermarch on Tumblr. Please help spread the word. I will try to post selections from as many posts as possible!

    Our Voice will be heard! If you can’t march, do your part by blogging, or commenting on other’s posts, or by just visiting the Save Our School website or Cooperative Catalyst over the next week!

    But now, the system of schooling that has produced innovation, new ideas, new ways of entertaining and communicating with others, is threatened.

    After ten years of high stakes testing, the students I now teach are often what I would describe as “tolerantly polite.”   Those who have not dropped out by the eleventh grade—often because they have disengaged from schooling long before—are fully aware of the importance of these tests which now cloud the classroom atmosphere as thickly as the humidity in Washington DC.

    Remember Marshall McLuhan:  The medium is the message.   Well, the kids have gotten the message: the test is all that matters.  The intrinsic rewards of discovery, creativity, flow, spontaneous celebration, and feeling competent after working through something hard—not emphasized.

    How this has perverted the teacher-student relationship is the real threat to our public schooling and Race to the Top—and the test makers themselves—promise to put more, not less, emphasis on testing, testing, and testing.

    There are other threats: The division of our students into groups that may never interact with each other often in guise of “school choice.”  The emphasis on solving a complicated problem by insisting on standardization rather than individualization. The inequity fostered and amplified by spending our resources on “outputs” rather than “inputs.”  Money spent on testing is money not spent on infrastructure, including well-trained teachers as well as functioning, friendly places to come together.  Our promise to our children must include access to safe, engaging places to learn—for everyone.

    I will be marching for all these reasons and more.

    But I will also be marching for three very important, pressing reasons:

    • Granddaughter Ainsley starts kindergarten in 2013.
    • Grandson Aiden begins in 2014.
    • Grandson Eli—due to arrive July 30—goes to school in 2016.

    I surely want these very special people to love school, to love kids of all colors and ethnic stripes, and to love America the way I loved my hot, steamy childhood.
    Reblogged from: cooperativecatalyst
  9. Blog For the Save Our Schools March #bloggermarch « Cooperative Catalyst

    I would really love for Teacher on Tumblr to join this cause. Please use the tag #bloggermarch… Write anything and send me a link via dm or even better on the Cooperative Catalyst post or

    ttps://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?hl=en_US&formkey=dHE3dllCcVdiblB6aUN5SUhpYnBFekE6MQ#gid=0

    ideas of blog post:

    Why you are marching?

    Why is democratic education important?

    in Support of teachers/schools/students/community/learning/holistic education/meaningful learning/work.

    or anything you think is related.

    If you can’t be in Washington DC next weekend, doesn’t mean you can’t have a voice or impact!

    -Adventures In Learning

    cooperativecatalyst:

    Will you?  http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/

    This is from the official site:

    Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action!

    July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, D.C. and around the country

    We’re putting the Public back in public schools!

    We, a collection of people from all walks of life and every corner of this nation, embody a mixture of ideas and opinions regarding how we can improve educational opportunities for all children. We stand united by one belief – it’s time for teachers and parents to organize and reclaim control of our schools.

    As concerned citizens, we demand an end to the destructive policies and rhetoric that have eroded confidence in our public schools, demoralized teachers, and reduced the education of too many of our children to nothing more than test preparation.

    A well-educated society is essential to the future of the United States of America. Our students must have access to a fully funded, world-class public education system, and it is our responsibility to hold our government accountable for providing the means to achieve it. Please join!

    It’s time to show the “powers that  be” what the people of America think of their support for education and how we should be teaching our children.  Please blog and share your link here in a comment. We’ll once again compile them. Please join us and share YOUR voice to put the public back in public schools! Use the twitter hashtag #bloggermarch to share your Blog  for the SOS March!

    Posts:

    Joe Bower: Save our Schools
    Anthony Cody: Time to Get Off Our Knees: Why Jonathan Kozol will be Marching to Save Our Schools
    Chad Sansing: What makes us citizens? #bloggermarch #sosmarch

    Nancy Flanagan: Signs of Passion 

    Reblogged from: cooperativecatalyst
  10. Blog For the Save Our Schools March #bloggermarch « Cooperative Catalyst

    Will you?  http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/

    This is from the official site:

    Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action!

    July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, D.C. and around the country

    We’re putting the Public back in public schools!

    We, a collection of people from all walks of life and every corner of this nation, embody a mixture of ideas and opinions regarding how we can improve educational opportunities for all children. We stand united by one belief – it’s time for teachers and parents to organize and reclaim control of our schools.

    As concerned citizens, we demand an end to the destructive policies and rhetoric that have eroded confidence in our public schools, demoralized teachers, and reduced the education of too many of our children to nothing more than test preparation.

    A well-educated society is essential to the future of the United States of America. Our students must have access to a fully funded, world-class public education system, and it is our responsibility to hold our government accountable for providing the means to achieve it. Please join!

    It’s time to show the “powers that  be” what the people of America think of their support for education and how we should be teaching our children.  Please blog and share your link here in a comment. We’ll once again compile them. Please join us and share YOUR voice to put the public back in public schools! Use the twitter hashtag #bloggermarch to share your Blog  for the SOS March!

Adventures in Learning

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