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NRA stooges oppose this kind of arming

by The Big E on February 5, 2013 · 2 comments

Here’s the kind of “arming” that I’m sure the NRA stooges oppose:


Scene – after hours at some school somewhere in Minnesota:

Principal: Thanks for staying late on such short notice for this meeting, but this issue that arose today is very important. As most of you know, someone didn’t use the staff restrooms, but used the student facilities. Someone then forgot his or her Glock 9mm in said student bathroom.

We’ll be able to replace the toilets that were shot up, they were old and two of the three didn’t work all that well anyway.

Teachers: [rumble mumble]

Principal: But that’s not the point. The point is that you all had your one hour gun safety classes. Do I have to spend the training budget for more gun safety classes? Hmmm?

Teachers: [grmbl]

Think that sounds too fantastic? Too far-fetched?

Rep. Tony Cornish’s (R-Good Thunder) said he plans to introduce bill to arm teachers. Personally, I think this idea is thunderously stupid.

Not everybody are geniuses like Tony Cornish.

Well consider this:

Just days after calling its newly hired armed security guard “a tremendous asset to the safety of our students,” a Michigan school released a statement saying the retired firearms instructor had caused a “breach in security protocol” by leaving his handgun unattended in the school’s bathroom.

Clark Arnold, formerly of the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Office, was hired as a security officer by the Chatfield School in Lapeer following a review of security procedures in the wake of last month’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“It’s probably slim to next to none that someone’s going to be needed in the school, but it’s that slim you have to worry about,” Arnold told TV5 earlier this week.

What I want to know is WHO FOUND THE GUN?


        The question of who “won” in the Chicago Teachers Strike, is somewhat offensive. In modern day reform, there have to be winners and losers in a market based world of competition. Instead of demanding that every kid has a quality school in their neighborhood, we play a musical chairs with the most vulnerable students who need the most consistency. Meanwhile, those already ahead don’t have to worry that they will be disrupted, displaced, or uprooted. So this idea of who won and who lost is not one I will entertain. However, it is very informative to discover just what the strike resulted in.

      First, the strike resulted in both improvements for teachers and for students. I do not think the union should apologize for trying to improve teacher morale. Modern reformers act as if poor teacher morale canot possibly affect the learning environment. However, common sense tells us that the teachers working environment is, in fact, the students learning environment. In a symbiotic relationship of support, having both parties strong is a worthy goal.

      So, what were the results? First, the union defeated the Mayor’s merit pay scheme. Merit pay is the antithesis of what works in countries with top education programs. Educators know that the way to close the achievement gap is with all teachers working in constructive collaboration for all kids. Modern reform would pit teacher against teacher in destructive competition. The most comprehensive study on merit pay illustrates what a colossal waste of resources it is. It has no effect.  The union effectively blocked this cornerstone of Rahm’s modern day reform.

    The idea that just one person can come in and close the achievement gap makes for good Hollywood drama. Educators understand that “Waiting for Superman” is not scalable or reproducible. A metaphor that actually applies to functional schools might be “Waiting for the Avengers”. Different folks with unique strengths, and yes, weaknesses, working together on a common goal. Also, a way better movie too.

    The union secured raises of 3%, 2%, and 2% with an optional 3% 4th year of the contract. In addition, the lane and step sequence of salary increases is secured. Again, these are obviously teacher benefits. There should be no apologies for improving your professional position.

    Next, and to me this is huge, the union secured positions for 512 Art, Language, Music, and Physical Education teachers. The  leaders and kids of leaders in our country get a broad based, critical thinking curriculum. For example, the Chicago Lab High School has no less than seven Art Teachers. This is where Rahm sends his children. The last similar size CPS high school that Rahm  shuttered had zero Art Teachers. Modern reformers are not fighting for schools like their children go to, but the union is.

     Job security was a big piece in the unions struggle. They secured new anti-bullying language, counter acting some of the rampant principal and administration abuses in the schools. They also compromised on the re-hiring of laid of teachers, ensuring at least half of new hires would be from the pool of laid off workers.

     Research shows that identifying with a teacher can boost a student’s achievement. It’s also common sense. They aren’t emotionless widgets to be screwed into place. With that in mind, the union fought for policies that will increase racial diversity.

     You see, modern reform school closures tend to disproportionately terminate minority teachers. This is because minority teachers often choose to go into the toughest neighborhoods. Their schools are the first ones targeted for closure. Their reward for bravely going where few would? It used to be certain termination. Before this, the district laid off a record number of African American teachers. Now the district is committed to a diverse workforce that is good for students.

   The new contract also addresses non-research based teacher evaluations. The union ensured that test scores would be used for the state mandated minimum 30%, while observations would count for 70% of evaluations. This is in line with the National Academies of Research, Educational Testing Services (ETS), and RAND Testing who all caution against using test scores for high stakes hiring and firing decisions. Rahm wanted a rating scheme more in line with A.L.E.C. legislation, backed by no research.

    There were several other items that may seem small, but are huge in the lives of disadvantaged kids. Each elementary school will now have a school counselor. In fact, the board has committed to hiring more social workers and nurses as well as counselors.

     The teachers will get a $250 resources fund for supplies. In addition, they will also be guaranteed to have text books on the first day of class. Things like a guaranteed lunch brought a lot of cheer from staff. Being able to eat lunch is a healthy way to get through the day. They also added parents to the class size monitoring team. Before, there was no enforcement of class sizes. The union wanted parents on the board so they would have access to class size data. The mayor wanted parents in the dark because he does not believe class size matters, except at the Lab School where he sends his children.  

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     In  surprising article, the right wing group Freedom Foundation of Minnesota actually makes a strong case for increasing teacher’s salaries.  The Freedom Foundation recently looked over the financial disclosures of Education Minnesota and reported that 49 members of the union made in excess of $100,000, with Tom Dooher topping out at $190,000.

   Meanwhile, the average teacher in Minnesota only makes about $54,000. (Please remember that fact the next time some conservative claims the average teachers makes six figures). This disparity seems, at first blush, pretty outrageous. The obvious and reasonable conclusion is that teachers simply do not make enough.

  Now, I know some of you may have come to a different conclusion. There are some conservatives who believe that if one group is making a good living, and another group is struggling, the moral thing to do is tear the successful group down. I cannot believe that the Freedom Foundation is that petty and juvenile. America is supposed to be about marketing your skills at top market value. A group with freedom in their name cannot possibly be against that. therefore, the only logical conclusion is the the Freedom Foundation wants to close this disparity, not by tearing down leaders, but by raising up teachers.

   The Freedom Foundation goes on to talk about how the leaders at Education Minnesota are paid by union dues. Teachers pay, in general, around 2% or less of their salaries in union dues. For that 2% they get representation in contract negotiations, representation in workplace disputes, and $1,000,000 in liability coverage. For 2% or less.

    Imagine if teachers had to hire a private party to negotiate for them. The going rate for private contract negotiation ranges between 5%-10%. Education Minnesota represents over 84,000 clients. Can you imagine a law firm that represented over 84,000 clients? Can you imagine a business being on retainer for 84,000 clients. Can you imagine the top dog at that firm earning less than a quarter million? In essence, the union is a private firm representing 84,000 clients at less than half the going rate. Free market libertarians like the Freedom Foundation should be wondering why Tom Dooher is working so cheap! Doesn’t he realize he should be giving himself obscene bonuses like the bankers?

     In closing, I would like to thank the Minnesota Freedom Foundation for pointing out that teachers just do not make enough money. While many folks might think they are just shamelessly trying to tear down unions, I believe better of them. I really think they want to close the gap by lifting up teachers, not tearing down leaders. Kudos to you Freedom Foundation of Minnesota!!


      Once Scott Walker was done destroying the teachers union, he passed his bi-partisan teacher bashing torch to Rahm Emmanuel in Chicago. The Chicago Teacher’s Union learned from the devastating losses in Wisconsin. The saddest lesson was to believe the worst, and prepare. Rahm followed the same path as Walker. Step 1, neuter the union. Step 2, with no one to speak for individual teachers, treat them like second class pawns in their education privatization scheme.

       The first step in Illinois was to make it impossible to strike. They increased the threshold for a strike from a majority of members, to a 75% super majority among all members, not just those voting. Any member not voting would count as a No vote. With the union out of the way, Rahm was free to impose his school privatization will. They followed through with their plan. When it came time to vote on a strike, they must have been sitting back and laughing. They were not laughing when the result came back over 90% of all members in favor of striking. Over 20,000 teachers are set to go on strike on September 10th.

        From that day forward, teachers were the enemy. Rahm would boldly declare that class sizes did not matter, while he sent his kids to schools with ten kids in a class. The entire district is being transformed into a quasi-private charter/traditional cyborg. Schools that are closing disproportionately affect the minority teachers that we are trying so desperately to add. The district is trying to add 20% to the teachers work day, without any reasonable increase in pay. An independent arbitrator sided with the teachers, but that was ignored.

       Now, because of the dedicated movement to privatize education, 400000 students will be without classes. Chicago Public schools is planning on spending $25 million dollars to keep the strike going as long as possible. Students won’t be learning, but they will have schools to go sit in from 8:30 to 12:30. The union has a comprehensive plan to improve Chicago Schools, but their ideas are not valued or even listened to. They are fighting for their students and their schools. You can read their one page summary HERE All of their proposals are research based on student outcomes.  


MNGOP Attacks Teachers at ALEC’s Request

by Alec on February 23, 2012 · 2 comments

     There’s another ALEC Bill in the pipeline. This one comes from the Bill Gates funded education arm of ALEC. The latest right that Republicans want to take away is teachers’ right to strike over compensation.

    We know that the MNGOP loves legislating solutions to problems that do not exist. A historical look at teacher strikes in Minnesota is in order. In 1946, the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers held the first teacher’s strike in the nation. Since 1946, that pioneering teachers union has gone on strike an additional zero times. In the last decade there have been less than five teacher strikes statewide.

    One of the things that has kept teacher strikes so few is the January deadline for contracts to settle. Past January there has been a pretty stiff penalty for districts that have not settled. This has helped Minnesota stay relatively strike free. The MNGOP removed that law.

  In addition, the MNGOP wants to remove the stipulation that automatic cost of living increases or other benefits continue while negotiating new contracts. This means, when an old contract expired, any language of how they would operate while negotiating a new contract would be moot. There would actually be incentive for management to drag negotiations out for as long as possible. Finally, when the new contract is settled, there would be no retroactive pay if any increases were negotiated for in the interim.

  So, let’s review.

1) Take away the deadline for contracts to be settled, removing penalties for drawn out negotiations.  

2) Complain that negotiations go too long, and distract from learning.

3) Remove workers right to strike.

4) Don’t allow for previously negotiated increases to take place during negotiations of new contract.

5) Don’t allow for retroactive pay for any new benefits negotiated for.

It’s another ALEC jobs bill!!


         In a state struggling to get better at teaching all students, every reform has a glaring omission. Some reforms want to pay special teachers more. As if there are Blackwater mercenary teachers out there, ready to storm the castle and kick down the achievement gap.  They even tried this to the extreme in New York, luring in teachers with $100,000 salaries to get the cream of the crop. It didn’t really work. A University of Vanderbilt study, the most extensive on performance pay, concluded there was no correlation between closing the gap and performance pay. They value purpose more than profit. Teachers do not sit around all day brooding upon what their colleagues may or may not make. They deserve professional pay, but teachers are neither mercenaries nor missionaries some folks want to reform how we pay teachers. They pay no attention to reforming how they teach.

         Some leaders want to change how long we teach. What we are doing now is not working for all students. It’s not working, so let’s do it for an extra hour or all year round? The idea is ludicrous unless it is attached changing how we teach. There are very successful year round and extended day Saint Paul public schools right now, but their staff of teachers and principles changed how they taught as much as how long.  The modern reformers think changing how long will magically cure education, without changing the how.

        Some reformers want to change who teaches, as if teachers are born out of whole cloth and not made through hard work. Again, they do not address how we teach. There are reform programs that take this to the ultimate extreme; giving recruits a five-week boot camp on how to teach, and then putting them in the classroom. Alternative licensure programs are rich in value. We have career engineers and business folks coming to the teaching profession. Bringing a treasure trove of real world experience. The problem is that modern reformers want the credentials without the teaching. Again, they address who teaches, but not how.

        The reformers want to change where we teach. If we could just set up a system where there are winners and losers, things will improve. Instead of focusing on how  we teach, we’ll just close down schools we do not like. Granted, those schools will always be in poorer neighborhoods.  The educations disrupted will always be those students with the least voice. Instead of fixing a struggling student’s school, we will tell them to start all over somewhere new. Build relationships all over. Travel to a new neighborhood. Ride a bus longer. This will improve your education.

        None of these modern reforms address, in the least, how we teach. I will let you in on a dirty little secret: this is intentional. You see, the folks making the rules benefited from how we have taught for the last two hundred years. For two centuries, we have had a model where teachers, working independently, shut their classroom doors and ruled over their own classroom kingdom. This model worked for the people who are successful. It has never, ever, worked for all kids, or even most kids.

         The leading reformers of this country had a twelve-year internship in an education style that worked for them. They now believe they are experts in how to teach. We don’t even have to change how we teach because that part served them well. We just have to change where, how long, how we are paid, and who we hire. Forget about addressing how we teach.

So what do we do? Read on.
           Obviously, real reform has to change how we teach. The teacher as independent contractor ruling over his or her own kingdom has to end.  The difficult thing is that the reformers reinforce this antiquated, dysfunctional model of teaching. At a time when teachers must come together, the reformers want to pit teacher against teacher in some sort of gladiatorial battle of test scores. I will state again for emphasis, the reformers want to reinforce a style of teaching that worked for them and few others. That is why teachers and principals are hardly ever brought into the debate on reform. The reformers already know how to teach. They just want to change everything else.

             What is working in schools is a complete paradigm shift from our past, teachers working together on all students. Instead of disaggregating my students versus yours, teachers are forced to get out of their classrooms and work together where my students are your students and all students are our students. No longer can we get our keys in September, go in and teach, and not see anyone until we turn our keys in June. This is a hard change to make for teachers who have been successful in the same broken paradigm as our leaders. It is even harder when our leaders try and keep us divided in competition instead of healthy collaboration.

            How does this paradigm shift work? Teachers are given time each day to get out of their classrooms and work together on students. There is a laser-like focus on student data. The reformers focus on data as if it is the end of a marathon and they are looking for winners and losers. The real focus on student data needs to be weekly or even daily.  Instead of just looking at the finish line, data needs to focus on the day-to-day training.

           When teachers work together on students in this way, they can make changes in time. If the data shows that my students didn’t get a concept on Monday, my colleagues will see this immediately, and together we can work out a better way to teach it and do better on Tuesday. The alternative is to sit in my classroom by myself. Do the best I can. Wait until the test results come out in June and hope we meet AYP and that I “beat” the other teachers.  Instead, we know weekly what we need to improve, and we lean on each other to constantly change how we teach.

            Real reform like this is not flashy like closing a school. It is not big and bold like firing an entire staff. It is not heart wrenching like forcing a thousand students to find a new school. Real reform doesn’t satisfy our cultural need for competition, with winners and losers. However, reforming how we teach works. If we want to close the gap, we have to change how we have taught for the last two hundred years. We have to let go of the silly idea that one teacher is the only one affecting a student.

  We have to support teachers working together, teaching each other. There can be no greater accountability measure than having to share student data with fellow teachers. Having to show my colleagues my student data every single week can be scary, but it is the professional thing to do. It holds us accountable, and makes us better. I trust my colleagues to help me when I falter, and I help them when they do. Set us in competition against each other and that goes out the window.

   The other reason why reformers do not focus on changing how we teach is that it is expensive. The reform I speak of is based on the very successful Lesson Study model used in Japan. It requires that teachers meet on a regular basis, during the school day. It costs money to staff classrooms while other teachers are meeting to discuss student data. It is not cheap, but it works. If we want to close the achievement gap we have to change how we teach. Changing where, when, who, how long, how we are paid, are all flashy rearrangements of deck chairs on the Titanic.  


Top Ten Rheeform Moments of 2011

by Alec on December 29, 2011 · 0 comments


    What is Rheeform? It is a catchall for the market based, destructive reforms that have become vogue since No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Michelle Rhee became the darling of the movement, gave it a personality, and a “liberal” that the plutocrats could hide behind.

   The defining characteristic of market based Rheeform is what it does not do. Rheeform does not try and change how we teach. They want to change where we teach. How long we teach. What we teach. How we are hired, fired, and compensated. Who is allowed to teach. All of these are part of Rheeform, except, of course, how we teach.

   This approach is not an oversight. The way we have taught for the last two hundred years has benefited and worked for almost all in power. The idea of a solitary teacher making a difference worked for them. The model of a teacher as some sort of independent contractor operating in an isolated classroom kingdom was effective for our politicians, business leaders, and school leaders themselves. As far as they are concerned, how we have taught is just fabulous. It worked for them after all. There are some real reforms with real promise that change how we operate as teachers, but that is a discussion for another day. Rheeform not only do not change how we teach. Rheeform reinforces a two centuries old model that failed most students. The consequences of focusing on the profit motive to guide education instead of the education motive, are obvious and inevitable. After the break, I will list my Top 10 outcomes of the Rheeform movement for 2011.
In no particular order    

1 Washington D.C. caught cheating.

D.C. was the epicenter of Rheeform. This is where Michelle Rhee got her start, closing schools, firing teachers, and stirring the pot. Competition, they said, will cure all of our ills. The problem with market based competition is that someone, or even most, have to lose for someone to win. Rhee may not have been directly responsible for the D.C. cheating, but her philosophies had the obvious outcome. Most of her touted schools cheated. The odds they did not cheat were said to be akin to winning the lottery several times.

2. Atlanta Cheating Scandal An investigation started in 2009 concluded rampant cheating in Georgia’s largest school district. Superintendent Beverly Hall denied all knowledge. Unlike Rhee, Beverly Hall spent forty years fighting the good fight in urban schools. She actually might be blameless, but is just another casualty of the inevitable outcomes of Rheeform.

3. Another Georgia county caught cheatingNot content with one major Rheeform cheating scandal, Dougherty County, Georgia got into the action in 2011. With no union protection, teachers were told by administrators to give students answers. Who were they to report to? their boss? It is no coincidence that most most of these scandals are happening where teachers have nowhere to turn when they are told to cheat. Destroying a balancing voice has its benefits for those in charge.

4.Rheeformed D.C. schools have the largest black-white achievement gap
Oh, also the largest Hispanic-white achievement gap. On the fourth grade math test, the D.C. gap was more than twice the national average gap. Our nation as a whole has a terrible gap, but theirs is twice that. Rhee’s biggest bragging point about D.C. is that she increased dramatically the amount of charter schools. You see, the market based goal of expanded competition is a goal in and of itself. When schools are closed under Rheeform, it is always the poor and underprivileged who have to move and find new schools. That is what competition does. It forces the kids who have the least to start over somewhere else, instead of making where they are, better.

“If what we’ve done in five years is to grow the enrollment and diversify the enrollment and brought the achievement levels up, but [when] we look at low-income black kids’ scores, they are no different than when I got here, then I would say I have failed,” Michelle Rhee

5. Milwaukee free market voucher Program no better than public schools After twenty years of public spending, the Department of Public Instruction finally decided to test Voucher School students in the same manner as public. It turns out the thing vouchers do best is siphon money from traditional public schools. They certainly don’t do any better at educating them. Even more importantly, the voucher schools do not educate the most costly students, the learning disabled, emotionally behavior disordered, or English Language Learners. The market based answer to the failed voucher program? Quit testing them and expand the program.

6. Success of Online Charter Schools I say success in the sense that they are fabulously profitable for the owner operators. This is at tax payer expense of course.

  Once again, the voracious beast that is the profit motive has superseded any societal motive to education. You see, online charter schools are failing our students. That is why we must expand them. They are wonderfully efficient. The free marketeers drool at the prospect of one teacher teaching a thousand students. Less labor, and enrichment for a publicly traded company. All funded by us. To complete the incestuous cycle, Pearsons Publishing just bought the second largest online school, with $190 million in revenue. I wonder which text books Peasrons will require for its students, at taxpayer expense of course? Like choosy vultures, these online schools set up in the poorest districts because those districts can get the most state and federal aid.

A Stanford University group, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, tracked students in eight virtual schools in Pennsylvania, including Agora, comparing them with similar students in regular schools. The study found that “in every subgroup, with significant effects, cyber charter performance is lower.”

Successful indeed. On Wall Street.

7. The synergy of Billionaires and Plutocrats Bill Gates funds a great study on which states have the best teacher policies. By great, I mean for cheap labor. You see, according to the Gate’s funded study, the states with the best teacher policies just means “right-to-work” states. the top Gates states are actually pretty poor when it comes to educational outcomes. Once again, the market motive makes them rank high even when the educational motive shows them lacking. Then Gates bankrolled the corporate front group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for them to write education policy favorable to those folks who don’t like to pay taxes.

8. Students literally tagged with test performance
In California they branded students with color coded ID’s based on test scores. What better way to motivate students than through humiliation. Those with the wrong ID’s had their own special lines. Privileges went to those with the correct ID. I wonder if they had separate drinking fountains. Market ideals.

9. Teaching Profession Relegated to Trash Heap
Wisconsin teacher retirements doubled after union rights were destroyed in Scott Walkerstan. The combined wisdom and knowledge drain was unprecedented.

   States after states are using public workers and teachers as the tool to balance their budgets. In an economy ruined by private market players, rights are being taken away from teachers in order to fix our problems. The professional incentives for becoming a teacher are almost nil. These incentives have little to do with salary. They have to do with professional respect and appreciation.

10. Pay for Performance Doesn’t Work In the largest study of its kind, Vanderbilt University showed conclusively that pay for performance had little effect on test scores. This is obvious to those who understand human motivation. We are motivated to fulfill our basic needs first, but once we have achieved those, purpose is more important than profit. This is not to say that money is not important.

  It is important to fairly compensate highly educated professionals. However, past a certain threshold people don’t obsess about money. Very few folks are actually motivated by money once they reach about $60,000. Money has been shown to motivate for menial, repetitive tasks, but not creative and intellectual tasks. Professionals just don’t sit around brooding about how much or how little their coworkers make. It’s just not something that matters day to day. Pay teachers fairly, but performance pay is a waste and insulting.


      Is it any wonder that the teaching profession no longer attracts the best and the brightest talent? With an achievement gap that is a national shame, we need to gain and then retain the most qualified teachers we can. Our kids need great teachers. Focusing, almost exclusively, on getting rid of bad teachers while ignoring the problem of keeping good ones does not serve our children. No one argues that ineffective teachers have to go. The equation has two sides though. Recruitment and retention, almost universally ignored by these “reformers” is the other side.

      The latest onslaught against the teaching profession comes from the group Put Kids First Minneapolis. These are progressive, noble, heartfelt folks. They are trying to do noble, progressive, heartfelt things. They are also pounding another nail into the teaching profession with their contract on teachers. The contract, has several good ideas, but there is no context or balance.

    Put Kids First comes off as just another group trying to reform the human resources office, not the education classroom. They arrogantly claim that teacher contracts have always put adult needs ahead of kids. They say this as if support and well being of teachers can be divorced from their ability to teachers.

   Imagine there are three major problems with the teaching profession. One, attracting top quality and talent of new professionals. Two, retaining those top professionals. Lastly, getting rid of inefficient teachers. All three problems need solving. Of the three, which will have the biggest impact on our kids? Which one should we focus on?

    There is absolutely zero correlation between due process rights, collective bargaining, and seniority rules and student achievement. Zero. On the other hand, there is a huge correlation between teacher turnover and student achievement. There is also a strong correlation between expert teacher staff and student achievement.

   For example, “For instance, black and Hispanic students are twice as likely as white students to be taught by out-of-field teachers (Education Trust 2008)”. It’s all well and good to get rid of bad teachers, but there is obviously not a flood of qualified teachers trying to get into these urban schools. You can treat teachers like indentured servants, and force them to teach where they don’t want to, or you can entice them to. Right now, the reformers are making it almost insane for anyone to want to teach in the toughest schools.

   Kids First claims to have the research, so let’s take a look. My claim is that there is zero correlation between unions and achievement, therefore there is no good reason to try and diminish teacher rights. I make no claim that unions cause achievement, but they certainly have not harmed achievement.  
This is from Harvard Educational Review:

Comparison of standardized test scores and degree of teacher unionization in states found a statistically significant and positive relationship between the presence of teacher unions and stronger state performance on tests. Taking into account the percentage of students taking the tests, states with greater percentages of teachers in unions reported higher test performance. (Contains 95 references.)

States with more unions had better test scores. Why make unions the focus of your attacks? How about finding ways to get the best teachers, while still working on getting rid of the bad ones?

   Andy Rotherman, of Bellweather Education Partners says, “Sweeping statements one way or the other on this should be viewed with suspicion.”

   I would go as far as to say that the “reformers” relentless pursuit of human resources office reform is harmful to student achievement. The environment for teachers is acidic. Wisconsin just experienced a massive brain drain because of the way they treated teachers. Why is it so hard to understand that how you treat teachers affects students too?

   Teacher turnover in our toughest schools is 20%. According to Forbes Magazine research, teacher turnover has substantial costs, and undermines at-risk schools. At-risk schools could recoup these costs by better teacher retention. The costs approach seven billion. At-risk schools are twice as likely to have inexperienced teachers.

  I have taught for ten years in at-risk, large, urban schools. I have been through three NCLB restructurings. Each time I have been selected for retention because I am good at what I do. Each time I have stayed because of the kids. However, it is becoming harder and harder to be a teacher. There is no respect for the profession any more. It hurts even more when it comes from historical allies and fellow progressives. It is not evil for teachers to fight for good working conditions. It is not even harmful. I wish folks would quit trying to reform the labor movement and focus on our kids and educational issues.  


Districts that are seeking to raise achievement should consider seeking teachers with the observable characteristics that are associated with effectiveness: Certification, academic credentials, and experience. In addition, districts might consider consciously placing teachers who are likely to be effective in schools with low-income and minority students.

 from the Center For Public Education


What’s an unpopular Strongman to do, when confronted with the prospect of losing his grip on power?  Well, for Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott “Baseball Bat” Walker, rigging the rules seems to be the strategy!

Republicans try to rewrite recall rules
The goal: Give Gov. Walker a better chance at keeping his job
Ruth Conniff on Thursday 10/13/2011

Now that state Republicans have weakened Wisconsin’s campaign finance and disclosure rules and made it harder for students, poor people and minorities to vote, they are turning their attention to another urgent matter: getting control over the recall process for Gov. Scott Walker.
As Sun Prairie Democrat Gary Hebl pointed out during the Thursday hearing, the Republicans are trying to turn the GAB from a watchdog into a lapdog. First, they proposed an “emergency rule change” to address the GAB’s decision. That’s handy for them, because while they can’t reverse GAB decisions, they can kill a rule.

Also handy: They just rejiggered the rule-making process so every administrative rule change has to go through the governor’s office, and the governor has full veto power.

In other words, the governor himself would have final say over the process for recalling him.
(more, here)

Can’t you just see ol’ Milhous Nixon smiling over THAT one??!?

So, why would ol’ “Baseball Bat” Walker need to rig the recall rules?

The Walker Recall: By The Numbers
Monday, October 24, 2011

Just weeks before the official kickoff to the Recall Walker movement, things aren’t looking too good for the puppet governor of Corporate America.  The Democrats have just released the numbers related to a survey of Wisconsinites regarding Walker and his job performance.

Walker must be reaching for the industrial-sized bottle of antacid whenever he sees these numbers.

(more, at CognitiveDissidence)

And there’s little doubt  ol’ “Baseball Bat” Walker will – WILL – be recalled;  Milwaulkee’s AM620 WTMJ reports Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and former US Rep. David Obey were there and both names are being floated as possible candidates to depose GOPer Strongman Scott Walker – and end their report with this line:  “Organizers plan to start heading door to door with recall petitions on November 15th.”

As well they should; GOPer Walker is but one example of why I always say “Republicans run on the platform ‘Government doesn’t work!’ – and once elected, they prove it.”

Oh – and be sure to link here for A Campaign Message From The Governor’s Office.

(previous Strongman Report graphics below the fold)

(Strongman Report – 11 August 2011)

(Strongman Report – 14 April 2011)

(Strongman Report – 14 April 2011)

(Strongman Report – 30 March 2011)

(Strongman Report – 20 March 2011)

(Strongman Report – 08 March 2011)

(Strongman Report – 05 March 2011)

(Strongman Report – 01 March 2011)