Tag Archives: teachers

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy your day.

If you are not making dinner, go to a church or homeless shelter to volunteer to serve others. It will remind you of your blessings and good fortune. Former President Obama helped prepare food bags for those in need in Chicago

The spirit of giving is contagious.

When we think of those to whom we are thankful, we Think first of family and loved ones.

We think of you, who take time from your day to read what we write.

We think of the teachers in Maryland, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado, North Carolina, and Arizona who taught the nation a lesson.

We think of all those who work tirelessly for others to make our communities better places to live.

Despite our woes in Maryland and in Prince George’s county in particular, we have much to be thankful for.

Reform Sasscer Movement’s secretariat.

PGCPS Administrator on Leave After Charge He Chased Student for Littering

B678CA98-D9EB-48DB-A296-D8EDD6496E71An administrator for Prince George’s County Public Schools is on administrative leave after he was accused of chasing a student and grabbing her because she allegedly threw garbage out of a school bus window and it hit his car.

Associate Superintendent Mark Fossett is on administrative leave pending an investigation, officials confirmed.

“We expect all of our administrators to behave professionally, which is why we’re investigating,” PGCPS spokesman John White said.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told News4 that on Friday, Dec. 1 a student at Wise High School in Upper Marlboro was headed to school on a bus when she threw some trash, possibly an empty potato chip bag, out of a window.

Fossett happened to be driving behind the bus. The trash hit his car, White said school officials were told.
Once the bus got to the school, Fossett got on board and yelled at the students, the source said.

The teen who allegedly littered got so upset that she jumped off the bus and started running to the school.
Fossett then chased her, and the student said he grabbed her by the arm, the source said. He denied that he grabbed her, according to the source.

White declined to comment on the specific charges and said an investigation is underway.

via NBC4

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Here’s the real reason teachers are quitting

(it’s not just the money)

The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters workshop

EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Left to right) Teacher Katie Fowler with year 5 pupils Danielle Minkah and Leila Diogo Costaferreira during The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters workshop at St John and St James Primary School in Hackney, London, marking the 100th workshop organised by a partnership between BT and Unicef UK, which aims to empower children and young people to become digitally confident and to safely enjoy the benefits of the internet.

Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools has complained about a “brain drain” of teachers leaving the country to work abroad – and, as a teacher and now lecturer, I’ve known a number of colleagues who have made that choice. But let’s not forget the other looming type of flight: of teachers from the profession itself.

Wilshaw warned that 18,000 teachers had left the UK to teach in international schools last year, more than the 17,000 who trained via the postgraduate route. He suggested that teachers could be given “golden handcuffs” to keep them: “working in the state system that trained them for a period of time.”

I don’t agree. I think instead we need to improve the working conditions in the state system so that we persuade teachers to stay because they want to – rather than forcing them to.

There are a combination of factors which make teachers leave – both to work abroad and to quit the profession entirely.

Over the past decade, teachers have had to endure constant, chaotic policy change. These have included changes to school structures, through the introduction of academies and free schools, changes to the curriculum and exams, changes to the inspection framework, changes to policies for children with special needs, and much more.

Central government has put unprecedented pressure on schools to attain “top” exam results, with those schools failing to achieve certain benchmarks threatened with takeover or closure.

The issue here is that even the government itself has pointed out that many of these exams are “not fit for purpose”: they do not lead to productive learning in the classroom, but rather mean that teachers are forced to teach to the test.

Testing times. David Davies/PA Archive

The high-stakes nature of England’s current testing system means that teachers I’ve worked with and interviewed feel oppressed by the mechanistic ways in which they are obliged to assess students. The bureaucracy involved in creating the data needed for assessment can be very time-consuming.

This pressure comes to a head with visits from the schools inspectorate Ofsted. Teachers often work in fear that they will be judged as failing by the inspectorate or even by someone acting out the role of inspector – school senior leadership teams frequently run “Mocksteds” whereby teachers have to undergo a “mock” Ofsted, usually run by senior staff.

Not in it for the long-haul

Government policies have encouraged candidates to see the profession as a short-term career option. Teach First is a classic example of this: the very name “Teach First” suggests that its graduate trainees should try teaching “first” and then move on to something better.

The millions that the government has cut from university-led Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) programmes has further exacerbated the problem of the “brain drain”.

PGCEs are much better at producing graduates who stay in the profession. In a blog last year, Sam Freedman, acting executive director or programmes for Teach First, said that data for the charity’s school-based trainees who gained qualified teacher status in 2005 showed that only 42% were teaching four years later – compared to 73% among those who took a mainstream PGCE.

And yet, PGCE courses – including our own at Goldsmiths – are under threat: the government aims to double the number of teachers completing their training in schools and speed-up reductions in university-based places. A big step to solving the recruitment crisis would be to provide better funding and support for PGCEs, which recent research has shown are still the best way of training teachers.

One of the most recent and thorough academic reviews of school-based training routes, as opposed to university-based ones, says that practitioners believe that the recent changes are: “Leading to a narrowing field of expertise … changes in the structure, length and type of school placements are further strengthening such fears.”

Results on a plate

There are other pressures too, and the expectations of parents and students have become increasingly unrealistic. Education has become marketised: teachers are expected by the government, parents and many students to be more like “customer service agents” delivering a product – a good grade for a student – rather than entering into a meaningful dialogue with learners and their carers about the best ways to learn.

Parents and students have come to expect “results on a plate” and can become very angry with teachers who “don’t deliver”. Over the last few years, pedagogues have endured rising numbers of unwarranted complaints from parents and students. I know of a brilliant, experienced teacher who was verbally abused and threatened at a recent parents’ evening by an angry mother who felt that this teacher should have “got” a better result for her child. The onus has shifted away from students to work for themselves and instead has been placed on the teacher to do the work for the student.

Messages in the media that teachers are “lazy” and “incompetent” don’t help this situation, regular mainstream media pundits such as Melanie Phillips, Katie Hopkins, Toby Youngand Rod Liddle all represent teachers in negative ways.

I don’t think that Wilshaw’s idea to simply give trainee teachers “golden handcuffs” to stay in the state-school system is the best way of solving the teaching recruitment crisis. Rather, the government needs to provide more resources to universities to train teachers, improve conditions of service in schools by cutting back on such high pressure testing and giving teachers more time to assess and prepare lessons. In a nutshell, politicians need to be much more supportive of teachers and the work they do.

via The Conversation US Pilot.

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Seattle teachers vote to strike

CN7zWszVEAAb8KbTheir existing contract with the district expired at the end of August and despite lengthy negotiations over several months, there is no tentative agreement.

SEATTLE —

Thousands of Seattle Public Schools teachers and support staff gathered Thursday evening and voted to strike.

Seattle educators will strike starting the first day of school, Sept. 9, if the Seattle School Board fails to negotiate a tentative contract agreement before then.

Their existing contract with the district expired at the end of August and despite lengthy negotiations over several months, there is no tentative agreement.

The Seattle Education Association said they disagree with the district on a variety of issues, including teacher salaries, standardized tests, discrepancy in discipline rates among students of different backgrounds and recess time.

Click here to see the debate over teacher salaries.

Some teachers told KIRO 7 they have not heard of any other teacher negotiations across the country making recess such an important issue.

“Low-income students are disproportionately affected by recess. Some are getting as little as 15 minutes, as opposed to some students on the north end are getting 45 minutes,” said Michael Tamayo, a teacher at Leschi Elementary School.

An investigation by KUOW last year found the same thing, as well as the fact that recess time in the district had diminished over the years.

“It is so unfair. I had the opportunity to visit some of our other schools and I was shocked. I didn’t even know that it was not equal,” said Glory Wilson, who teaches kindergarten at Stanley Elementary School.

In comparison (to what?), at the private Bright Water School in Capitol Hill, students get outdoor time ranging from one hour to four hours a day.

Flora McEachern, the assistant head of school, said, “If you’re always cramming new information into a child, they get indigestion. Just like if you eat too much.”

She said that their Waldorf curriculum relies heavily on experiencing and learning ideas outside.

McEachern said students learn how to solve problems by facing challenges in social interactions during recess that do not happen indoors.

But some public school principals told KUOW last year that conflicts during longer recess time often result in challenging discipline issues.

via KIRO 7

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Transforming Education: How Children Learn

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Like every other public institution in the United States, our education system is simultaneously under attack and flailing in its attempt to defend itself. Politicians and pundits jump into the fray as No Child Left Behind morphs into Race To The Top. Schools are forced to comply with high stakes testing in order to get funding. Budgets are cut to the bone and teachers, struggling to make ends meet, are forced to teach to tests that seem to be designed to ensure that many schools, teachers and children will fail. The vaunted Common Core, for example, that will replace the STAR tests in California and most other states in 2015, is not developmentally appropriate, particularly in the younger grades. It was not designed by teachers who know what children can actually do at different ages. When it was previewed this year in New York schools, the testers had a new problem to solve: what to do with tests that stressed children had vomited on. Really.

Public schools, once seen as the keystone of democracy and the agent of an informed and responsible citizenry, are now facing takeovers by for-profit charter schools that cut teacher salaries and spending per pupil while pocketing profit from federal funding. How did we come to such a pass? When I was growing up, California boasted the world’s best educational system. My four years at U.C. Berkeley were essentially free. With health care included, I paid the Regents $150 a year in student fees. I did not have to take standardized tests or honors courses to be admitted. U.C. accepted my application with a transcript of courses and GPA. My ability to attend this prestigious university was considered an earned right, supported by the citizens of California through their taxes.

A student entering UCB next year will pay $13,200 in tuition. If her parents are not wealthy, she will most probably be indentured for decades to a usurious student loan scam. According to a recent article in Education Week, California now ranks 49th among the states in per pupil spending. Last year at the school where I was Education Director, the administration decided to take a 5% cut in salary and our teachers gave up five days of instruction in order to maintain our bare bones program. This, in one of the richest states in the richest country in the world.

The reasons for this devolution are complex, reflecting the values of our late stage neoliberal free market economic system that seems unable to correct its trajectory towards catastrophe. That said, corporate influence in public education has been pernicious for many years. A passionately engaged English and Drama teacher, I was horrified in the mid 1980′s that my new local public school required teachers to be on the same page on the same day in the same text throughout the district. That a school district would have so little respect for its teachers to force them into a scripted straightjacket violated everything I understood about creativity and learning. The idea that teachers did not know how to teach and needed to be guided by “experts” had taken hold. Textbook companies and corporate testing “services” increasingly determined how and what should be “taught” to children. I am not surprised that schools with a history of such rigid curricular mandates are floundering.

>>> Read more Popular Resistance

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FREE SPEECH RIGHTS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS.

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Speech Outside of School

Teachers do not forfeit the right to comment publicly on matters of public importance simply because they accept a public school teaching position. Teachers cannot be fired or disciplined for statements about matters of public importance unless it can be demonstrated that the teacher’s speech created a substantial adverse impact on school functioning. A teacher’s off-campus statements regarding the war or participation in an off-campus political demonstration are not acceptable bases for job discipline or termination.

Speech Inside the Classroom

A teacher appears to speak for the school district when he or she teaches, so the district administration has a strong interest in determining the content of the message its teachers will deliver. While courts sometimes protect the academic freedom of college and university professors to pursue novel teaching methods and curriculum, these principles do not apply with equal force to K-12 teachers. It does not violate a teacher’s free speech rights when the district insists, for example, that she teach physics and not political science, or that she not lead students in prayer – even though both have the result of limiting what the teacher says in the classroom.

Washington courts have upheld the authority of school districts to prescribe both course content and teaching methods. Courts in other jurisdictions have ruled that teachers have no free speech rights to include unapproved materials on reading lists.

Although the boundaries are not precise, there are limits to a school district’s ability to control teachers’ controversial speech in the classroom. Courts have sometimes ruled that schools may not punish teachers for uttering particular words or concepts in class that are otherwise consistent with the school curriculum, where the school has no legitimate pedagogical purpose for the restriction, or where the restriction harms students’ ability to receive important ideas that are relevant to the curriculum.

A school district might choose not to include discussion about a controversial issue in its curriculum and direct teachers to avoid the topic unless it arises through student contributions to classroom discussion. Depending on the circumstances, a court might well approve such a rule. This assumes that the school is neutral in its implementation of the rule. If a school permits anti-war lesson plans but forbids pro-war lesson plans, such action would raise questions about viewpoint discrimination.

>>> Read more 

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Hundreds of Maryland teachers disciplined by the state.

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WASHINGTON — Nearly 400 teachers in Maryland have had their teaching licenses yanked in just the last few years many without proper due process of the law due to a culture of impunity currently in progress within the Maryland State Department of Education and elsewhere within the counties. Child sex abuse. Child exploitation. Drug and alcohol use. The list goes on and on. The whole system needs a major change with the top leadership in the state level fired without much delay.

“It’s completely mortifying. It should not be happening in this day and age,” said Susan Burkinshaw, a parent and child safety advocate.

The database comes from the Maryland State Department of Education. It includes teachers facing disciplinary action from 2008 until now. The list consists of 397 teachers in seven years. Fourteen of them are from Montgomery County. The list does not include other school personnel or contractors facing similar accusations.

Here’s a breakdown of disciplinary action against teachers by county and by cause:http://bit.ly/1FY9u5f

Maryland State Revocation %26amp; Suspension List

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent of schools (Pictured above) has been criticized for showing very poor leadership skills in various ways including discriminatory conduct. She has received an F grade for Common Core meetings and other reform implementations in Maryland so far. Above all, she does not believe in the due process of the law and continues to contribute to the culture of impunity.

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In our opinion, We aver and therefore believe Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes (shown here) has demonstrated a culture of corrupt leadership style and continues “an integrated pattern of pay to play,” High suspension rates, violation of due process rights, manipulation inter alia during her tenure as President for Maryland State Board of Education.

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Educator Excoriates TIME “Rotten Apple” Story.

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Nancy F. Chewning, an assistant principal in Roanoke, Virginia, eviscerated TIME magazine for its cover story about teachers who are allegedly “Rotten Apples.” This impassioned article went viral.

“Have you characterized doctors or nurses on your cover as Rotten Apples? You have not. Is the government setting impossible benchmarks for doctors and nurses to make to correct this problem? No, they are not. Why? Because money talks in this country. The American Medical Association spent $18,250,000 in 2013 and $15,070,000 so far in 2014 lobbying our government; in fact, they rank number 8 in terms of organizations lobbying our government for influence. The NEA isn’t even in the ball park with the AMA, as they rank 221st.

“As Senator Elizabeth Warren has so aptly stated, “The system is rigged,” and it is definitely rigged against public education. In the latest Gallup poll, 75% of American parents said they were satisfied with the quality of education their child was receiving in public schools. However, the latest Gallup poll showed that only 14% of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job. Have you done a cover calling Congress Rotten Apples? Why no, you have not. In fact, I checked your covers for the last two years and not once have you said a disparaging word about Congress on your cover. Yet, the approval rating for teachers is 75%, and you have chosen to go after them. Why is that? Is it because as Gawker revealed earlier this year that your writers and editorial staff are required to “produce content that is beneficial to advertiser relationship”? So, was this attack on teachers really about pleasing advertisers and perhaps a billionaire from Silicon Valley with deep pockets as well?”

She notes that no teachers were interviewed for the story.

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