Sunday, May 27, 2012

Standing Up to Pearson: Speaking Out, Sharing Stories, Growing Resistance

Download mp3s from internet archive and audioport

Some of the 67 UMass students who said no to Pearson with Barbara Madeloni.
Education Radio has been following the developments of the University of Massachusetts student teacher resistance to the Pearson supported Teacher Performance Assessment. The attempt to impose a corporate sponsored standard assessment on pre-service teachers is one more example of the corporatization of public education and the surveillance, silencing and demands for obedience that accompany it. Following our report of March 24, Mike Winerip ran an article that brought the students’ resistance to readers of the New York Times. As we have shared on our blog, the response has been nothing short of astonishing as teachers, teacher educators, parents, students and community members from across the country contacted education radio producer Barbara Madeloni and the students to speak their support and share their own stories of the destructiveness of Pearson and problems with the Teacher Performance Assessment.
Rachel Hoogstraten, Alex Hoyo, Katie Smith, Danielle Nelson

Steven Cohen
In this week’s program, we speak with some of those supporters about why they felt compelled to contact Barbara, how Pearson and/or the TPA are impacting their lives, and how we might further this resistance. Judith Kocik, director of an adult education program and Kip Fonsh, school committee member and director of education for a county jail, explain the devastating impact of Pearson's purchase of the GED.  Parent and community member Alex Pirie talks about his delight that University students are taking a stand against corporatization of the University and teacher educator Steven Cohen, from Tufts University, helps us understand how contrary is the TPA to the needs of developing teachers. We also hear from Ginette Delandshire, from Indiana University Bloomington, who was involved in the first iteration of the teacher performance assessment, her critiques of it, and how these critiques have been ignored.  As well, we speak with some of the UMass students who engaged in the resistance about how they felt about the article, about the response to it, and about how this action will impact their work as teachers.
Alex Pirie

Ginette Delandshere
In developing this program, we discovered more detail about the menacing and destructive reach of the testing giant Pearson and its profiteering on the most marginalized and vulnerable of our community.  And we discovered a broad range of people who are articulate and angry about the neoliberal assault on public education.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Reality of Virtual Schooling

Follow the links below to download this show as a podcast:
Internet Archive
Audioport (podcast) 

In this week's program, we explore the proliferation of virtual schools. Virtual schools offer on-line education to primary and secondary school students without the added expenses associated with brick and mortar structures and unionized teachers and support staff.  

We hear opinions on virtual schools from well-known education scholars Jonathon Kozol and Diane Ravitch. We investigate one such virtual school, the Massachusetts Virtual Academy in Greenfield, Massachusetts. We talk with the superintendent of schools, Susan Hollins, who was the driving force behind the opening of that school in 2010, and we also speak with two Greenfield School Committee members, Maryelen Calderwood and Andrew Blais, who opposed it. Finally, we turn to early childhood education scholar Nancy Carlsson-Paige, who talks about the vitally important social, emotional and cognitive needs of young children that are in danger of not being met by virtual schools.

We also explore K12 Inc., a for-profit publicly traded technology-based education company that touts itself as the largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs for primary and secondary students in the United States. It is also one of the fastest growing operators of virtual charter schools worldwide. K-12 Inc. was founded in 1999 by Michael Milken and William J. Bennett, a former Reagan Secretary of Education and Bush senior drug czar.  We take some time to talk about the background of these men, along with several others involved with this company, as a means to expose the insidious nature of companies like K12 Inc. 

To learn more about virtual schools and about what you hear on this program, visit the following links:
Education According to Mike Milken by John Hechinger
Virtual Schools Expand Students' Network by Laura Insensee
Outsourcing Information: The Rise of Virtual Schools by Nancy Hanover
The Massachusetts Virtual Academy
Susan Ohanian on K-12

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pearson's Teacher Performance Assessment: Exposed!

You can download mp3s of the program here: 
Audioport (podcast) 
Internet Archive 

"From one educator to another, thank you for taking a stand!

In this weeks program, we listen to an episode we originally aired back in March about the development of a national Teacher Performance Assessment, driven by the testing giant, Pearson, Inc. Thanks to a recent story in the New York Times, this topic has gained new relevance and has opened up the discussion to a wider audience. Michael Winerip's article, "New Procedure for Teaching LicenseDraws Protest," appeared in the New York Times on Monday, May 7th. The story featured University of Massachusetts Amherst student teachers and instructors who are refusing to take part in the field test of a Teacher Performance Assessment being implemented by Pearson, Inc., a private company and the largest assessment and testing provider in the United States.

Both our program and the NYTimes article feature teacher educator, and Education Radio producer, Barbara Madeloni and her student teachers explaining what the TPA is and why they are resisting it. After our original broadcast, we heard from teachers and teacher educators from around the country who were also struggling with ways to resist. The article in the Times has, excitingly, further opened the discussion of the privatization of teacher training and resistance to this national audience. Since the story was published, we've received an incredible amount of feedback and comments that have affirmed the work of Barbara and her student teachers. This outcry of parents, teachers, activists and others who have contacted Barbara or commented on the article should remind us all that there are many out there who disagree with the current trend of privatizing public education. And that the act of teacher training cannot and should not be reduced to an assembly-line, Taylorist logic.

A sampling of comments from around the country that were sent to Barbara Madeloni, with identifying information removed, can be found after the jump...
1)  I just wanted to say that the story in the NYT was the best thing I've read in a long time and so inspiring. Thanks so much for what your doing and please pass my gratitude along to your students as well.  Their courage and activism really gives me hope.
2) I was very moved by the article I read about you and your students yesterday in the New York Times.  I retired from teaching two years ago after having had an amazing career as a special educator for close to 40 years. …  I have to say that I was so inspired by what you and your students are doing in taking a stand against this absurd Teacher Licensing Process.  I wish I could meet your students to tell them how wonderful I think they are for refusing to participate in this bizarre assessment.  Please let them know that I  hope that the future teachers of America will be people like them.  I am having a hard time understanding why more of the education schools around the country aren't standing in solidarity with you and your students.  Hopefully they will wake up and step up to block this outrageous licensing process.

3) Keep up the fight, you and your students are clearly fighting an uphill battle. Best of luck.

4) From one educator to another, thank you for taking a stand!

5) I just read the NY Times article "Move to Outsource Teacher Licensing Process Draws Protest" and wanted to offer my support. I am extraordinarily proud that I have gone through the teacher education program at UMass. Keep up the good work!

6) The NY Times article describing your and your students' resistance to Pearson was one of the most heartening things I've read about education in a very long time.

7) I just read the NYTimes article  and I applaud you and your students.  How can we stand firm and not allow this "recipe" attitude for teaching to take over?  I am a retired educator. I had a fantastic professor for my undergraduate teacher training (that was in the 1950's).   Daily lesson plans, daily discussions, weekly observations, (no 10 minute videos that are evaluated by a person who doesn't know you).  This professor… really turned me on to, not only, the responsibility of education but a love of the profession.  I felt prepared and proud when I had my first classroom… Children are our most important resource, they must not be shortchanged.  Stay firm in your opposition to this new but unwise  approach to education.

Best of luck to you and your students,

8) Bravo to you and your students for bringing the issue of outsourcing teacher
licensing to our attention. As a retired teacher I am becoming increasingly alarmed 
at the undermining of public education and confidence in teachers through some
very erroneous beliefs about the benefits of privatization.  After 30 years in classrooms
of every type over my career, from alternative to gifted, elementary to secondary,
I know there are few shortcuts to becoming a good teacher. In the early years, ones
youth, energy, enthusiasm and extra time can make up for a lack of experience and skills;
later, as a teacher gains more experience and confidence, he/she gradually masters the
profession. Thank you for the work you do helping our young teachers enter the profession
with integrity and committment. 

9) I want to express my admiration for the stand that you and your students have taken in response to the commercialization of teacher training undertaken by the juggernaut known as Pearson. They have also taken over the GED Testing Service and have moved into the GED testing market. By 2014 they will introduce a computerized GED test that will cost more than triple the current cost. They are creeping into the lives of hundreds of thousands of people without so much as a whisper by anyone who might be able to control this commodification of public education. I applaud you and your students and I would volunteer to help you in any way I can to maintain control of teacher education and licensure under the auspices of those individuals and institutions dedicated to improve public education and its proponents and not destroy it.

10) (Written to the state legislature) 
As a voter and taxpayer in Massachusetts (and parent of a recent UMass Amherst grad), I’d like to call your attention to the article in today’s (05/07/12) New York Times, “Move to Outsource Teacher Licensing Process Draws Protest.” 

I can’t tell you how proud I am of these young people for standing up to the corporate desire to own (and profit) from everything. And how outraged I am that UMass Amherst could have been snookered into cooperating with this absurd effort to boost the shareholder benefits of an “international company” with its home base in England. 

Pearson has managed to acquire companies that vertically integrate almost the entire educational spectrum and at enormous expense to the American parent – the profit has to come out of somebody’s hide. 

The simple minded and, in my opinion, useless Pearson test scheme is also part of their business plan with students evidently expected to cough up $300 to pay for the privilege of having to take a 40 page test and provide a very brief video tape of themselves reviewed by just about anybody who has a little free time on their hands and wants to be an evaluator. I’m (almost) beyond outraged. It’s hard enough to find committed and creative young people who would even consider the currently punishing and unrewarding field of education at this point and this initiative seems like just one more nail in the coffin of what was once a state committed to and pioneering in the field of education. 

Since I am currently inundated with calls from work study students at UMass looking for donations (I politely suggest that when my daughter’s student financial obligations are through, then I will consider a donation) and that the extraordinary amount of compensation provided the administrators (not to mention our obligation to William Bulger for his pension requirements!) is a continuing drain on our resources and on anyone truly concerned with education in this state, and now this… 

I’d suggest that the legislature take a serious look at what is going on. 

11) Thank you for standing up against the loss of regional distinctions in our schools and in favor of local (vs. corporate and federal)  teachers.

12) I just read the piece in the NY Times about your refusal, together with that of your students, to participate in the ludicrous new procedure for testing potential teachers. As a parent of two elementary school students I thank you profoundly for taking this stand publicly, and I hope others will join you.

13) Congratulations on your effort.  I recently retired from ….College, where capitulation to Pearson is in vogue.   Your news is most welcome to those of us who find the corporate model for teacher education and the reduction of knowledge and skills to package, commodified modules within an all-encompassing market economy counter human. 

Thank you and your students. 

14) I am part way through my NY Times ed article on your efforts to slow things down.


I just retired from publiv ed, 40 years of wonder!!

Stay in the hunt!!

15) I read Mike Winerip's piece in the Times this morning and just wanted to say: well done.
 I work in the Ed Dept at XXXX and thank you and your students for your efforts.

16) Cheers to you and your students, Ms. Madeloni. …  Putting students and teachers in the hands of corporations is scary stuff.  Hopefully, our country will wake up to the dangers.

17) I  read an article about you and your students pushing back against Pearson’s intrusion into teacher education.  We in adult basic education (literacy, pre-GED, GED, English for Speakers of Other Languages) were shocked to learn recently that Pearson now owns the rights to the GED and will be controlling the content, pricing, administration, and scoring of the test, with the result that many of our students will no longer be able to acquire the GED credential.  

I wonder if there’s any way that adult basic ed and higher ed can work together to resist this force.  I am not sure exactly what I am proposing here, but I was very heartened to hear that UMASS/Amherst is out there fighting the good fight and I thought it might help to know you’re not alone in your outrage at Pearson’s tactics.

18) I saw this in the paper. WAY to go. Rock on!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Detracking for Education Equity: A Lecture by Carol Burris

You can down load mp3s of this program here:
Audioport (podcast)                                                                         
Internet archive                                                                        
In this week's program we will be listening to a speech by Dr. Carol Corbett Burris about the negative impacts of tracking and the possibilities and opportunities that exist when schools detrack students.  This speech was delivered as part of the Simmons College/Beacon press Race, Education & Democracy Lectures on March 31, 2012. 

Beginning her career as a Spanish teacher Dr. Burris is now the principal of South Side High School in the Rockville Center School District in suburban Long Island, which has seen a staggering increases in student achievement and the near elimination of the achievement gap as a result of detracking.  Dr Burris received her PhD from Teachers College in 2003 where her award-winning dissertation detailed the positive effects seen on student achievement when her district began detracking math classes.

Dr. Burris recently made headlines with the Open Letter of Concern she co-authored with Wheatley school principal Sean Fenny protesting the use of evaluating teachers and principles by student test scores. As of today over 1400 New York state principals have signed this letter of resistance to neoliberal education reform.