1. Standardized Testing Stories - Google Docs

    Share the impact Standardized Testing has had on your Personal life, be it as a teacher, or taking one yourself. Share stories of your class or how they have changed your teaching or the impact on your students or own children. The more stories the harder it is for policy people to hide behind numbers and data.

    Please either post the link to your blog or your story below… I will put together a list. and repost on Tumblr and probably the Cooperative Catalyst as often as I can! We should start to speak up about standardized testing from a personal level and share the stories of the damage these tests are doing  to our children and our teaching.

    Remember to use the #standardizedtestingstories or #stopstandardizedtesting and #education…

    Add your name or web site, the name of the article/post and the website

    1. John t spencer:  10-ways-to-fight-standardization
    2. Miss Brave Teaches NYC: i-aint-taking-no-deep-breaths
    3. Youth Voices: Students: Too many tests given; no pay for performance
  2. We’re Not Getting Paid « Cooperative Catalyst

    If you read one article today you should read this one! Please share! We must be open to the saying that just because you have money doesn’t mean you should get to control how schools are run! Support real change effort, but those funded by Gates, or Broad!


    Over here at the COOP, we’re not getting paid to “influence” the reform discourse in education.

    Are we ever missing the gravy train.

    Returning from a weekend practicing mindfulness for educators (so wrong side of the tracks), I blithely take some deep breaths, settle onto my ergonomic knee chair, and catch up on my emails from the last two days.  Only to discover, to the detriment of our personal bank accounts, that none of us here at the COOP have been receiving half a million dollars a year from the Gates Foundation to personally influence public opinion to promote favored educational reform initiatives.

    In an straightforward, just-the-facts-ma’am expose in the Sunday New York Times, Sam Dillon takes the reader through the rise of “The Big Three” educational foundation’s increasing focus on not just funding projects strategically designed to affect the shape of educational reform, but to influence the formation of opinion about those projects themselves. “We’ve learned that school-level investments aren’t enough to drive systemic changes,” the Times article quotes the president of the Gates Foundation’s United States program saying. “The importance of advocacy has gotten clearer and clearer.”

    Since 2005, Gates has quadrupled the amount spent on opinion and influence advocacy, for instance paying the always-passionate, and always-passionate-that-he-is right Rick Hess $500,000 in 2009 “to influence the national educational debates.”  And we thought all those Ed Week blog posts, edited volumes, books, research papers and endless opinion pieces were coming straight from his heart and sense of moral purpose.

    “Given the scale of the philanthropy,” the Times article notes drily, “some worry that the Foundation’s assertive philanthropy is squelching independent thought.”  Hmmm.

    Gates in fact gave 360 educational grants in 2009, many to EdWeek, research organizations that produce papers that support their initiatives, and “grassroots advocates” who are paid to organize in their local communities to support their priorities and initiatives.  Ever wonder why the common core and the Gates Foundation are featured so prominently on the first page of EdWeek?  Ever wonder why those lengthy pieces on new teacher evaluation efforts seem so in bed with the objectives of “value added” research, also funded by Gates?  The Times article also notes that Fordham Foundation’s president, Checker Finn, long-time advocate of national standards and test-based accountability back from my graduate school days, received $959,000 from Gates to “review common core materials and develop supportive materials,” which I found amusing since I had JUST sent Chad a seemingly impartial blog post by Checker Finn from last week, in which Finn calls critiques of the common core “silliness” (okay, Dad) and a bit later, agrees with none other than–Rick Hess!  (Small world, ain’t it?).  Arne Duncan himself often quotes a study about teacher evaluation effectiveness produced by the New Teacher Project, which received funding from the Gates Foundation.  While one funder says he feels “free to speak out” when he thinks the Foundation is wrongheaded, the influence of half to a million dollars may quell some folk’s appetite for dispassionate analysis.   In the Times piece again, Rick Hess says, “everyone is implicated.”

    To influence public opinion and push its reform agenda, the Gates Foundation, “establish[es] strong ties to local journalists” who are paid, for instance, to “go toe to toe” with union officials say, about the policies of teachers unions, presumably to discredit them.  But to avoid appearing to be a “tool of the foundation,” grantees are urged to “maintain a low public profile,” about their funding sources.

    So what do the BIG THREE (Gates, Broad, Wallace) generally like to fund, and how has their influence grow?  In another great post by Dana Goldstein, the big three educational foundations have aggressively quadrupled their educational spending overall to since 2005 to support their priorities.  And what are their priorities?  Sound familiar?  Common core standards, aggressive advocacy for school choice and charter schools, mayoral control of educational systems, and teacher evaluation tied to test scores, among others.  Add this to the aggressive opinion intervention techniques and priorities, and you realize how dramatically the entire mainstream discourse is affected, and perhaps controlled by, big money.  In fact, what is talked about, what kinds of knowledge is considered acceptable and valid, whose research gets play, and whose experiences and perceptions are honored, is all a part of this strategic funding and influence web.

    Ever feel like you are a voice in the wilderness?  It ain’t just your imagination.  Others are being paid to make you feel that way.

    Are we here at the COOP–we, the humble UNPAID–talking back to this effectively?  Have our priorities: a consistent focus on the classroom experiences of teachers, parents, and administrators, as we reflective about learning; our profound interest in students’ experiences of learning; our acknowledgement of the complexity of teaching and the mysteries of learning; and the effect of  policy on people who are deeply committed to teaching; being expressed as vociferously and effectively as we can possibly articulate?

    Because our David, to their Goliath, is real. This funding web of influence and control is,  ”Orwellian,” says Bruce Fuller, education professor at UC Berkley, also in the Times piece.   “Through this vast funding they start to control even how we tacitly think about the problems facing public education,” Fuller notes.

    Perhaps instead of a COOP badge, our blog should feature a badge that says, “The COOP does not receive funds from major educational foundations to forward their opinions and objectives?”

    Are we standing up?


    Reblogged from: cooperativecatalyst
  3. I know the team Teacher summer reading book is already selected….but this book is a must. One of the best book on Education written in the last ten years! We can read two books this summer right… we are teachers… we have nothing to do during the summer :)
(via Amazon.com: An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students (9780325005966): Ron Berger: Books)

    I know the team Teacher summer reading book is already selected….but this book is a must. One of the best book on Education written in the last ten years! We can read two books this summer right… we are teachers… we have nothing to do during the summer :)

    (via Amazon.com: An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students (9780325005966): Ron Berger: Books)

  4. Poverty: Is there an app for that?

    If you read one blog today….this should be it! Click through for full post! and join the conversation/discussion! Good Primer for all Team Teacher Book Club readers~!


    “Development is the gradual emergence of a problem-solving system.”

    via Poverty: Is there an app for that?.

    If you substitute “learning” for “development” , then you have one of the most…

    Reblogged from: cooperativecatalyst
  5. Rereading my comments,  I can see how they came off as an attack and not a challenge like I wanted them to be…. I understand maybe the tag post was not the best way to start this discussion… what I wanted to present was that words do matter in terms when we talk about building a learning community and culture.

    My girlfriend pointed out that when you say Classroom Management… you might be meaning the same thing as when I say learning environment or the culture…

    This was more a critique of the system of education and the way in which we structure the curriculum, classroom and our teaching than an attack on teachers.

    I  believe we need to look deeper at or unpack the use of behavior and classroom management, which are often based on the behaviorist teaching of Skinner… (who believe everything can be conditioned….including creativity)…even if we add the term Positive in the front of them…    I think we need to question why we need to use them in the first place…is it because we believe children need to be control for them to want to learn or is it because we created a system is build on the foundation of controlling students not engaging them… Is it really effective long term or are we just creating children and later adults who need to be reward and punished to “behavior”… I am not the first or last person to talk about these issues… I would point to Alfie Kohn or a recent post on Cooperative Catalyst...

    I could shift the conversation via tags to be more about how we might help students and people in general to find the control and discipline within… and what that looks like pragmatically in a learning community…. I hope to offer up some of my own experience soon and search out the sources on the web that do… and will share them here or with the tag #holisticeducation or my personal blogs Humanscaleschools and Adventures in learning….

    I know a lot of the current system would need to change including classroom size and more time for relationship building….but I would also say it doesn’t have to just happen in the classroom and that is what I guess I was trying to get at…this is not just about the classroom  because learning is not something you just do at school with a teacher… we learn more without teachers or in schools than we do with them…. maybe it is the John Holt in me….or the love of some of the principles of Free schools… that is coming out here… ..

    Either way I think it is a good discussion to engage in. Sorry if my tone came off differently than I had hoped… My coffee fueled comments have a life of their own. 

    More than this issue, I would like to throw this question out there…

    Can the coming together of teachers on tumblr help to encourage a more honest and open discussion how to help change the system that most of us struggle with everyday?

    I see us “teachers of Tumblr” as a powerful voice on education… and would encourage us to not be just be a resource but a source of best practices and a place to help move education forward… warts and all!

    Thanks again for challenging me to think deeper than a comment… and for forming this community! I would hope that maybe Team holistic teacher can provide the space for more of these discussions if team teacher wants to focus on other tasks…  please do join me and hopefully a lot of others there.

    I would also encourage everyone to challenge me on any of my posts or often my more passion filled “rants”… which maybe my other comments came off as!…. as I often learn best by a good healthy challenge!

    Thanks Team Teacher!

  6. Fairy Dust Teaching: No More Green Light, Yellow Light, Red Light Behavior Management Plan!

    I have tried the famous Red Light Classroom Management plan that is used in classrooms across America.   (Every child begins each day on a green light.  Certain behaviors and choices will change their light to yellow or red.  Usually, yellow and red lights had consequences attached to them like loss of recess and so forth.)  As a behavior management tool, it simply did not work in helping children learn to make better choices.  It did succeed in providing consequences for misbehaving children - an important fact!  But those same children kept “misbehaving.”   It was not teaching them new skills. 

    More over, it seemed to dampen the hearts of those who could not seem to control themselves.  For example, once a boy in my class slugged another child right when he got to school and was immediately put on a red light with a note going home.  He looked at me and said, “Who cares?!  It doesn’t matter how I act now - I am already on red.”  How true!  He had 6 hours left in school and it really did not matter what he did - he was going home with a red light!  It was an aha moment that this little fellow had no chance to save face and make better choices.  He had no opportunity to redeem himself!

    I took the Red Light system down that day.  As I reflected on what was the most important thing I wanted in my classroom I realized it was for the children to be safe physically, emotionally, and mentally.  The Red Light system could not address a child’s needs on all these levels.

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