Mamie Till Mobley

"There was an important mission for me, to shape so many...young minds as a teacher. God took away one child but...(gave) me thousands. And I have been grateful for the blessing." Mamie Till Mobley

Monday, December 31, 2012

Diane Ravitch blog

The Very Expensive Mandates of Race to the Top The states unlucky enough to “win” Race to the Top funding are arriving at a startling conclusion: Race to the Top mandates cost more than the money that was awarded to the state and the districts. Ken Mitchell, a superintendent in Rockland County, New York, did the math. Mitchell determined that school districts in his county are spending far more than they receive as they try to implement the mandates. When you consider that Governor Cuomo enacted rigid tax caps on every public school district in the state, it means that costs (for Race to the Top) are soaring at the same time that the district cannot raise new sources of revenue. The result: layoffs, program cuts, larger class sizes. Mitchell writes that in six districts in his county, the cost of RTTT implementation will be $11 million, but the revenues will be only $400,000. This is a deficit of more than $10 million that must be covered by district funds. Where will the money come from? When you consider that there is no research base to support the initiatives demanded by the Race to the Top, this is, as he puts it, “a grand and costly experiment that has the potential to take public education in the wrong direction…” That is putting it politely. The word is getting out. Race to the Top has no research base. Race to the Top is a burden on the states that “won” the money. It will be a burden on the districts that have the misfortune to “win” funding. The United Teachers of Los Angeles were wise to refuse to sign on to their district’s application. If they won, the district would soon by laying off teachers to pay for consultants and experimental programs of no value. Race to the Top makes guinea pigs of the nation’s public schools and their pupils. I will vote for Obama despite this terrible program.

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No research to support future competitive funding

Move On! By David G. Sciarra

Putting aside pronouncements from inside-the-beltway pundits, there is no research to support continuation of competitive grants in general, and Race to the Top (RTTT) in particular. There is simply no evidence that RTTT has improved, or even has the potential to improve, education opportunities and outcomes for the our nation’s students, especially those in attending public schools in high need

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Portland Public Schools postpone RTTT application

I have been an educational evaluation professional, teacher, and author for 35 years. I've published three books and 38 technical articles on teacher evaluation. I directed three U.S. Department of Education teacher evaluation grants, and was president of the national Consortium for Research on Educational Accountability and Teacher Evaluation. I have conducted pilot programs in real schools with real teachers and administrators. It's always a good idea to have the widest community participation in teacher evaluation development. However, at this time because of technical and sociological reasons, I commend the educators of Portland Public Schools for postponing application for Race to the Top grant funding. Race to the Top programs usually feature a kind of student

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Skeptical unions pose challenge to districts’ Race to the Top

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How are state ed departments managing and supporting RTTT reforms? New Research.....

But little research has explored how states are managing and supporting the implementation of these reforms.

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Los Angeles teacher's union passes on RTTT application super disagreed

However, that's not the reason that UTLA president, Warren Fletcher, gave for refusing to sign the application. "Race to the Top costs more than it brings in," Fletcher told the Daily News. "You're essentially setting up a system with a lot of bureaucracy,and those pieces have to stay in place after the grant period." "There were enough issues out there that were complex enough that we could not get to the point where we could get together with the district," he continued. However, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who tried to come to an agreement with Fletcher and UTLA but failed, had a different account. He said that the teachers union was wary of the grant because of requirements that included “a new, robust teacher evaluation

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LA teachers union didn't sign Race to the Top application: comment

The union is right, the cost of implementing RTTT is more than the grant money the district would receive. RTTT requires way more student testing that costs money and loses time on actual learning. The amount of time needed for professional development is another added cost and more loss to time on learning. The amount of training of in the new methods for evaluations, the additional amount of time needed for additional supervision of teachers is more added costs. The mountains of data collection and storage is costly as well. How do I know this? Because even though my district chose not to sign on the RTTT, we are required by law to implement it because our state did sign on to RTTT. We have to implement by 2014. It's very expensive, the districts that needed the money were eligible for federal funds before RTTT. The RTTT is re-worked federal programs that were formally targeted to needy school districts. Arne Duncan thought of this clever program to spread this money around to even wealthy districts as a carrot to get states to buy into his education policy. A policy that is unproven in terms of raising student achievement. It's all smoke and mirrors. LA teachers made the right choice.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Should teachers be armed? A national debate, yes or no?

Teachers armed with guns in Texas school

There is a school of thought that staff should be armed in schools, while others continue to believe in gun free zone laws in schools.

If so, should  teachers and administrators  be required to take coursework for certification  that includes training  and workshops in knowledge of second amendment rights, proper use of firearms, and permit to carry a gun in schools?

There are school districts in the nation that quietly allow for  armed staff, teachers and administrators.

Yet to have stopped Adam Lanza it would have taken more than a pistol, but a school security plan that included access to high power weapons locked up ready for use by specially trained school staff to prevent what happened at Sandy Hook and Columbine.

Several years ago, a man  walked into the front office of a school shot his wife.

This scenario is repeated too often in schools across the nation so the question many are asking is how do we prevent school violence?

Should there be a national dialogue about violence in schools that includes security plans for allowing  armed staff?

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Gov. Cuomo negotiates sweet deal with Ralph Wilson amid cash strapped school districts

Although, King Andrew Cuomo imposed a property tax cap strangling state school districts, he allocated  millions of taxpayers funds  to Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson to keep a losing football team in the area.

And included in the sweet deal was $11 million over the life of the lease for operating costs more than in 1998, because the duration of the agreement is shorter.

While, King Cuomo sends his top aides in commercial jets to negotiate these unprofitable and questionable investments across the state, he threatened to deny impoverished and cash strapped school districts an  increase in funding if they  failed  to meet a January deadline to submit teacher evaluation plans to  the State Ed folks in Albany.

Mean while, State Ed is unable to review the flood of evaluations districts are sending in because its still hiring the staff according to the Buffalo News perusal of the website.

The Governor called himself a "lobbyist" for children, but he's more of a mouthpiece for the hedge fund investors that contributed heavily to his campaign "the most hedge fund money – nearly $2.6 million for his 2010 campaign ..." helped by Democrats for Education Reform. They sit on his newly created Education Reform Commission and appoints educational advisors to his staff with ties to these investors, especially charter school advocates. Legal challenges to his education policies similar to the one on the property cap because of its devastating impact on school districts in New York State likewise might be needed with Cuomo's threat to withhold funds for not submitting teacher evaluation plans by January 17.

One official said the total public investment of $226 million between the county and state compares to about $214 million in the 1998 deal. But that older deal only called for about $68 million in stadium investments, with none of the money coming from the team.

In all, when all the pots are added up, the total deal is $271.52 million, Poloncarz said. Of that total, the Bills will pay $44.6 million (16.5 percent), the state will pay $123.5 million (45.5 percent), and the county will pay $103.3 million (38 percent). Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Overabundance of tests in schools sends wrong message

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Adam Lanza and Columbine black battle fatigues and a military vest

Adam Lanza wore black battle fatigues similar to the one the  two Columbine students used when they opened fire in the school cafeteria.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School

I left work on Friday, listening to the Principal of the high school asking us for a moment of silence for the victims, 20 children and 7 adults bodies riddled with bullets from a young man obviously mentally ill using semi-auto weapons at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. 

My fingers froze on the computer, but it wasn't until I got home and researched the shooting did   I realized the magnitude of what had happened at the school. 

I kept looking for updates on the internet  like so many  in the nation hearing, seeing and reading about the horrific tragedy.

The  20 children  ages 6 and 7 in a  in first grade massacred along with the school principal, psychologist, and the others all teachers some beginning their careers, while two nearing retirement age   7 all women.

And the perpetrator age 20, believed to have killed his mother first at their home located in an  upper-class Newtown neighborhood used her car to transport himself and his weapons to the elementary school where his mother may have worked. Nancy Lanza got custody of her son Adam Lanza after parents divorced in 2009. There is another sibling Ryan Lanza that mistakenly was blamed as the perpetrator of one of the worst massacres in an elementary school in the United States.

Mrs. Lanza got to keep the estate on 3 acres of land along with  child support settlements starting  at $10, 000 monthly to  increase to  over $13,000 at another period in later years.

The father is a tax expert, a VP of a company, and adjunct professor in taxes at a college in Massachusetts. Mrs. Lanza  has been profile as a teacher aide, school volunteer, and substitute teacher, though NYTimes article cited superintendent of the district saying there wasn't any connection. Mrs. Lanza dressed classy, a nice person, while one report said she was rigid.

Mother Jones Magazine featured a store in a video where she shopped, the customers and merchants describing her as a happy person. Adam was portrayed in some  news reports as very bright, an honors student, socially awkward with a disability specifically autism and home school because of battles Mrs. Lanza had with school officials.

It was  eerie to read how the children he shot were his own age, 6 years old when a similar massacre occurred at the Columbine High School. And  the youths involved in the shootings wore similar clothing a "black battle fatigues and a military vest,"and  weapons as though he was mimicking them. 

The reports of why this young man committed this horrific crime on 20 innocent children and 7 adult women at Sandy Hook Elementary School still are being updated on the internet, but mental illness and school safety certainly are going  to be part of the dialogue because Lanza shot his way into a school with a security system that was supposed to be designed to prevent what had happened , while the state of mental illnesses supports has not improved for young people since Columbine.

Mass Shootings: Maybe What We Need Is a Better Mental-Health Policy | Mother Jones

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Can anybody even explain how the Triborough Amendment can be overridden by Cuomo? (For those who don't know, the Triborough Amendment is a New York State law that states that when a municipal contract expires, the rules of that contract stay in place until a new contract is negotiated) Now with the new evaluation there will be unannounced visits, "validators" and only 13% of teachers will be able to appeal ineffective ratings. None of these items are in our current UFT contract. As a matter of fact, none of these items are in any New York State teachers contracts which are all covered by the Triborough Amendment. Can the state simply override these contracts? Don't the rank and file teachers have ANY say in this? 

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New York City no evaluation plan yet

Overall, 633 of the state’s 694 districts have submitted plans, but only 274 have had them approved. The New York City school system, which educates 38 percent of the state’s students, also has not submitted its evaluation plan.

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Yonkers school district no teacher evaluation plan yet

District officials have been unable to reach an agreement with the Yonkers Federation of Teachers, despite all-day meetings on Tuesday and Thursday. State law requires that key elements of the evaluation plans be decided through collective bargaining.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)
"Let’s be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we’re going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.Whitney Tilson, hedge fund manager and major funding angel for the school privatizing Democrats for Education Reform, thinks there’s not enough rich, educated white folks.( Preaprez) click photo to his blog.

Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education, click photo