Archive for the ‘Teachers’ Category

Howard Stephenson and PCE’s Judi Clark, pushing the vouchers you can’t refuse

Don Corleone

Virtual Vouchers and the key to the public treasury

Early in 2010 when the Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) pirates began planning their 2011 campaign to sneak education vouchers through Utah’s back door, they knew they’d need a little more than a hijacked charter school association and a lobbying hitman to get their legislation passed.  Two strategies were crucial.  The first would be to split their wishlist into as many different moving targets as possible, but the second would be to have a legislator who could be trusted to shepherd the whole project to conclusion.

Utah Sen. Howard Stephenson - photo: Brian Nicholson, Des. News

After Sheldon Killpack, the Utah legislator and charter school go-to guy was suddenly indisposed last spring, PCE would be forced to turn to Utah’s lobbyist/legislator godfather, next to whom PCE/UAPCS lobbyist Chris Bleak is a mere piker.  I’m talking of course, about Howard Stephenson.

Stephenson, the Utah Taxpayer Association Don who is famous for never having seen a piece of pro-business legislation he didn’t like, and whose answer to the immigration debate is a full-employment act for bounty hunters funded by the runaway slaves themselves, wasted no time.  With PCE’s Judi Clark doing the drafting and Killpack’s abandoned campaign war-chest to draw from (Killpack donated an astonishing $4,000 to Stephenson in 2010), the result was a fistful of bills friendly to charters and hostile to school districts. Continue reading

Unmasking the anti-teacher/anti-public school rhetoric (VIDEOS)

Today, two great video tutorials to understand the truth behind the anti-teacher/anti-public school rhetoric, whether it’s coming from Parents for Choice in Education, their poster child Jeb Bush, or Barack Obama.  The attack on public education in Utah and the rest of the United States is not a partisan one.  It’s a neoliberal one.  Bush’s No Child Left Standing Behind is the godfather of Obama’s Race to the Top.  It’s a heads I win, tails you lose sort of thing: heads the privateers win, tails children (society) lose(s).

First, this one from Daniel Willingham, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.  It’s a very short, engaging explanation of the problem with judging teacher performance through “value added measures” in order to hand out raises/bonuses.

In this second one, Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union explains to Paul Jay of The Real News Network why what U.S. schools are facing in this time of economic crisis is a “perfect storm of disaster”.  But she also explains how teachers are being unfairly “painted with the bad teacher brush,” how people have got to get over thinking of schools as “magic castles” disconnected from the reality around them, and finally, how using tests that are designed to measure student achievement as a basis for “high stakes decisions” about teachers/schools is a totally flawed concept. Nine minutes that will help you sort the truth from the hype.