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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Obama's state of the union 2014 transcript on education

President Barack Obama State of the Union speech didn't  offer anything new in education funding or policy changes except to pull together various stakeholders in the private sector to fund his early childhood education initiatives, including high speed broadband connection for schools, and redesigning high schools through partnerships with colleges and businesses to provide access to training and the job market. Yet, for millions of students struggling to pay their student loan debt, there is hardly any relief in sight because the 10% student loan cap only applies to students taking out loans after 2012 or later.

Education transcript:

"Of course, it's not enough to train today's workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow's workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education. (Applause.)

Estiven Rodriguez couldn't speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age 9. But last month, thanks to the support of great teachers and an innovative tutoring program, he led a march of his classmates through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he's going to college this fall. (Applause.)

Five years ago we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C., are making big strides in preparing students with the skills for the new economy -- problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, math.

Now, some of this change is hard.

It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it is worth it -- and it is working.

The problem is we're still not reaching enough kids, and we're not reaching them in time, and that has to change.

Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education. (Applause.) Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old. And as a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight.

But in the meantime, 30 states have raised pre-k funding on their own. They know we can't wait. So just as we worked with states to reform our schools, this year we'll invest in new partnerships with states and communities across the country in a race to the top for our youngest children. And as Congress decides what it's going to do, I'm going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K that they need. (Applause.) It is right for America. We need to get this done.

Last year, I also pledged to connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over the next four years. Tonight I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we've got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit. (Cheers, applause.)

We're working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career. We're shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle- class kid is priced out of a college education. We're offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt. (Applause.)

And I'm reaching out to some of America's leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential."

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lester Diaz, basketball senior sensation at Lafayette High School, Buffalo, N.Y

 Lester Diaz, Lafayette’s senior sensation, is averaging over 30 points a game with a style equal parts elusive, fast, versatile, and potent.  This is NOT hyperbole, folks.  “Lester Basketball” is catching people’s attention!  One of the area’s top officials commented to Lafayette head coach Karl Maggiore, “His statistics speak for themselves.” 

 After Diaz eluded three trapping defenders in the capacious-challenged Lafayette gym, Olmsted’s head coach incredulously turned to a security guard, “I hope you got that on film!”  The security guard, also a formidable player and student of the game, has closely observed Diaz these past two years.  With each gravity-defying move, he shakes his head in wonder and repeats a negative-affirmative for point of emphasis, “Lester’s moves are just plain nasty!”
 Defenders know how nasty it can be to guard Diaz.  Almost no one can check the Lafayette point guard one on one because his speed, quickness, and ability to hang in the air are uncanny.  As team’s attempt to trap him, they commit costly fouls when he spins, crosses over, or surges through a gap that is seemingly only inches wide.  Over the last three games, Diaz has scored 43, 42, and 41 points respectively, to lead the Violets to three straight wins and a share of first place in the Yale Cup League II.  Unquestionably he is a prolific scorer, but Maggiore instead lauds Lester as one of the most unselfish players he has ever coached.

One thing is for sure, “Lester Basketball” promises to make the Yale Cup and the Sectionals in Western New York very interesting this year.  Diaz will no doubt have maddening effects on opposing defenses as the basketball faithful enthusiastically brace for the intensity of March Madness.  

Story by Patrick Foster

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Randi Weingarten sides with Common Core?

January 13, 2014 

I think it's plain to see that I never suggested that Diane should "attack" Randi Weingarten.

I think it's also plain to see that there are some very serious questions posed that Randi Weingarten should attempt to answer. Diane avoided each and every one of them in her response to my comment.

Given that there is no sound basis for the Common Core, and that it is supported by some of the biggest ($$) and baddest financial players in the country who want to blame public education for the economic problems they caused, why is Weingarten (still) taking their side on Common Core?

Asking such a question can hardly be construed as "ideological purity." It's what Smith and Hullfish referred to as reflective inquiry. Common Core enthusiasts call it critical thinking (though they seem loathe to engage in it themselves). Frankly, I think it's just common sense.

If more "rigor" and more standards and more testing and more "accountability" have not "improved" public education – and may well have done it damage – then why do we need more of it?
The Answer Sheet
Washington Post, 1/13/14

College and workplace readiness hype

As I've noted previously, the ACT and the products of the College Board (the PSAT SAT, and AP) are more hype than useful educational resources. They just don't do much in predicting college (or workplace) readiness or success. But they are big business. And contrary to what they say, they stack the deck AGAINST opportunity for all students. As Matthew Quirk wrote, "The ACT and the College Board don't just sell hundreds of thousands of student profiles to schools; they also offer software and consulting services that can be used to set crude wealth and test-score cutoffs, to target or eliminate students before they apply...That students are rejected on the basis of income is one of the most closely held secrets in admissions; enrollment managers say the practice is far more prevalent than most schools let on." 

So, why is Randi Weingarten siding with "the big boys?" And why does Diane keep assisting her?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Achieve instigator of Common Core

Achieve was one of the instigators of Common Core. (along with the ACT and the College Board). It just so happens that Achieve is funded by groups like Battelle (which argues for STEM when there is no STEM shortage), the Gates Foundation, Prudential and State Farm and Travelers, Boeing, GE, JPMorgan Chase, Intel, IBM, the Helmsley Foundation, DuPont, Cisco, Chevron, Microsoft....many of these companies pay little or no taxes. You can read about Microsoft, just to pick one, here:

Achieve's board of directors is here:

From The Answer Sheer
Washington Post 1/13/14

Friday, January 10, 2014

Gov. Cuomo's State of the State on education

But whether it is upstate of downstate, the best long term economic development strategy is to have the best education system in the world, period and that is our focus. We are in the midst of an education reinvention. Replacing a 1950’s bureaucracy with a 2020 performance organization, we formed the new New York education reform Commission headed by Dick Parsons, they have done extraordinary work; they have called for a full day Pre-K, extending school days and for performance pay. The next step now in our journey is to reinvent our classrooms with new technology. We must transform our classrooms from the classrooms of yesterday to the classrooms of tomorrow. Experts said that technology would be the great equalizer, they said that the information superhighway would be a democratizer of education and that is correct and they are right. If you are on the information superhighway, but if you are not on the information super highway it could leave you behind at 100 miles per hour. And there are great disparities in education, at some schools there are children who are on the internet. Some schools don’t even have a basketball net. There are some schools with sophisticated new computer systems in the first grade. There are some schools where the most sophisticated piece of electronic equipment is the metal detector that you walk through on the way to the classroom and that is just wrong in the state of New York.

We can do better, we must do better, we will do better, lets invest in the future, lets reimagine our classrooms for the next generation, let’s have the smartest classrooms in the nation because our children deserve nothing less than the best. Let’s go to the people of this state, let’s be bold, let’s go to them in November with a bond referendum with a smart schools initiative lets invest $2 billion in providing the technology of tomorrow today to bring our classrooms up to speed. What this new technology means, it means that every child learns that his or her own pace. The students get the skills they need to succeed within the 21st century economy, the y have access to advanced courses, parents and teachers can communicate and teachers can access the assistance and training that they need. It is not going to be about growing the bureaucracy it’s going to be about helping students. It is going to be used for equipment such as laptops, desktops, tablets, infrastructure upgrades and high speed broadband. There will be strict eligibility for the use of funds and each district must submit a technology plan for approval by the state. And while we remake our class rooms for tomorrow, we must get young minds engaged as early as possible. In 2013 in the State of the State, we called for expanded full day Pre-K. The assembly has long championed the same. It is time for New York State to have universal full day Pre-K statewide.

Quality teachers are the backbone of our education system and let’s recognize and welcome our master teacher Abbey Albright who did the introduction and for being here today, thank you again Abbey. We are going to continue the transformation of our system and reward performance by creating a teacher excellence fund. It is going to be the first statewide teacher performance bonus program that actually rewards performance for teachers and incentivizes teachers who perform well. Teachers who are rated highly effective on their evaluations, which is the highest statewide rank, would be eligible to receive $20,000 as a bonus, in performance pay, which is on average 27% of their salaries. You want teachers who can perform and do perform? Then incentivize performance with a performance bonus and pay them like the professionals they are.

When it comes to higher education our SUNY 2020 and CUNY 2020 reinvestment and capital programs are working, we want to continue them for a second round the future of the economy is in STEM jobs, we should be incentivizing our education system to fill those openings we want to provide to the top ten percent of high school graduates full scholarships to any SUNY or CUNY school if they pursue a math of science career and agree to work in the state of New York for five years.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A virtual charter school tale

15 Months in Virtual Charter Hell: A Teacher's Tale

Guest post by Darcy Bedortha. 

In late August, 2012, I took a job in a school that is part of the largest virtual charter school chain in the nation. While I had misgivings about the nature of the school, I thought perhaps if I were diligent, I could serve my students well. In November 2013 I decided I could no longer continue as a teacher. This is my story. 

From Education Week

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Home income matters in academic performance

School Fantasies

Incomes, outcomes, and impasse

At the Grabiarz elementary and middle school on Lawn Avenue in Buffalo, 95 percent of the 530 kids in grades five through eight were eligible last year for free and reduced-price meals. Half the kids are black, a quarter are white, about a fifth are hispanic, with multi-racial, native Americans, and Asians making up the rest. The white kids do slightly better than the other kids on the statewide standardized tests of performance at grade level on math and English, but we’re talking about the difference between 42 percent and 31 percent performing at grade level.

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