Ohio isn’t just a battle ground for President Obama, it’s ground zero for public education and our teachers.

Look at this mess in Ohio, all brought about by Michelle Rhee and her relentless demonizing  of teachers and bastardizing of teacher evaluation systems.

Michelle Rhee is the national education reformer most well-known for her cross-country tour promoting the anti-public education film “Waiting for Superman”, including an appearance at a screening with Ohio’s own John Kasich.  Prior to that, Rhee spent a couple of years at the head of the D.C. Public Schools, a couple of years promoting Teach for America, and she even spent a few years as a classroom teacher (TFA corps member).

These days, Rhee is the head of Students First, a non-profit organization that purports to promote public schools, but in truth only serves to promote charter schools, parent choice, and the dismantling of teacher involvement in the creation of employment contracts.  Strangely, Rhee is still a media darling and has even appeared on morning talk shows representing herself as . . . a Democrat.  Rhee’s political viewpoint and the work of Students First most assuredly do not represent the progressive educational perspective, but many media outlets still take Rhee at her word when she claims to be . . . a Democrat.

Now, here in Ohio, Michelle Rhee’s true colors simply cannot be ignored.  Rhee has chosen to fund multiple candidates in Ohio who are running for the Ohio House this year, citing their individual votes to support the Kasich budget that cut public education funding by $1.8 billion as a reason for Students First’s support.  Let me restate that: Students First supports these candidates because they supported Kasich’s budget that cut $1.8 billion from school funding.

Read the Whole sordid mess here:PlunderBund (http://s.tt/1rpCF)


Fordham Institute rates the DSEA 19/51 for strength of union. #netDE

News Journal Ed Board offers a facile and ignorant basis for supporting @GovernorMarkell for re-election

From today’s News Journal: http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20121031/OPINION11/310310013/Delawareans-should-re-elect-Markell-Denn?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|p


Gov. Markell also has taken on educational reform. Under him, Delaware was a big winner in the federal Race to the Top money. The administration instituted a new student assessment system and an evaluation program for teachers.

Will they work? His opponents say all he has done is create a bigger bureaucracy and a complicated system that is choking education in the state. But Gov. Markell didn’t make the Race to the Top rules and the student assessment system is a great improvement over what went before it. In addition, the administration managed to develop a teacher evaluation system with the help of the teachers union. That is something other states have failed miserably at.School improvements need time to develop.

Here’s the problem with their analysis: Race to the Top is a prescriptive, VOLUNTARY, federal competition. Saying that he didn’t make the rules is an answer to a question not asked. The correct question for Ed Board’s with intellectual curiosity would be “Why did we apply/should we have applied?” No doubt that News Journal would answer yes to those two questions given their amazing conclusion that “School improvements need time to develop” when no other sincere effort since 1983 has been given time. Truly amazing ignorance going on right there.  So the choking and the evaluation of success based on tests move on, damn the consequences, with the News Journal’s ignorant blessing. I hope you enjoy your future job applicants, here’s a preview:


Jack Markell has done some very good things for Delaware and has championed citizens with disabilities and he has supported progressive reforms in state hiring and discrimination. He’ll be re-elected easily. Preferably he could win his lame duck term without the News Journal Editorial Board’s blathering ignorance.

Change the Stakes

The New York State Education Department has assigned 169 NYC schools to give “field tests” between October 23rd and 25th (for the list of schools, see Attention Parents – Get Ready for Another Surprise: More Tests in October.  Testing companies use these exams to try out questions for future tests, such as the ELA and math exams that will be given in April.

This will be the third time this year that our children have been subjected to experimental testing solely for the benefit of the state’s test development contractor, NCS Pearson, Inc., with out parent’s consent.

Field tests are not mandatory for children. They have no consequences for your child’s grades or placement. If your child does not take the test, s/he will not be asked to take a make-up exam.
If you share these concerns, please download the FAQs and Letters below and join with other…

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California Super gets it on RTTT. #netDE

From The Answer Sheet at the Washington Post:

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has lauded Race to the Top as one of President Obama’s two most innovative domestic initiatives. As superintendent of California’s 12th largest public school district, I must respectfully disagree. I would argue that Race to the Top is hardly innovative – government using “carrot and stick” incentives to spur change is a centuries-old concept.  In fact, I would go a step further: Race to the Top’s heavy-handed, top-down mandates create division and derision within the public education community at precisely a time all sides should be coming together.

 No one would argue with Mr. Friedman’s assertion that “the only high-wage jobs, whether in manufacturing or services, will be high-skilled ones, requiring more and better education.” The need to prepare our children for college and 21st century careers should be our country’s top priority. Local school districts, states and the federal government should be working together to meet this goal. Instead, Race to the Top is dividing what should be a united front into “winners” and “losers.”

 On a local level, Race to the Top, while well intentioned, throws education stakeholders into enemy camps by prescribing the kind of evaluative system for teachers that must be put in place for a state to receive badly needed federal dollars. I am in favor of creating robust accountability models for teachers. I also back using accountability systems that create a culture of development and improvement…

For Secretary Duncan or the President to claim that Race to the Top has been a success because we have seen as much reform from those “who did not get a nickel as those got $100 million” ignores the needs of districts that cannot or will not run this race. Major urban school districts in California, a state where one out of eight American public school children live, have been utterly abandoned by this system of “winners” and “losers.” “Winners,” by the way, like Chicago. Would Mr. Duncan count the chaos in Chicago last month as a success? True, teacher evaluations there will change. But at what cost? How long will it take the wounds to heal? How can provoking a bitter battle among people who have to work together be looked at as anything other than negative?

 Race to the Top’s zealous and prescriptive focus on accountability, human capital and technology at the expense of capacity building, collaboration, teaching practice and social capital is like the game we sometimes see children play on a school yard. They stand in a circle and place their hands on top of each other, with the hand on the top eventually getting pushed down to the bottom. It’s a futile exercise. Being married to a former public school teacher, Mr. Friedman should know better.

 Jonathan Raymond


Sacramento City Unified School District

If only Delaware had leaders in Dover save for a few, bright progressives in Leg Hall that understood what this Superintendent clearly does. If only.

The Presidential Debate they do not want you to have or see. #netDE

The World of Special Olympics

The following is a guest post in the form of an open letter from Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens to Ann Coulter after this tweet during last night’s Presidential debate.

Dear Ann Coulter,

Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow.  So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?

I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow.  I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you.  In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.

I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child…

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