Teach for America Deletes Educator Counter-Narratives; Educators Repost EVERY SINGLE ONE!

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On Sept. 23, Teach for America (TFA) published an article on its Website about the “Badass Women of Teach for America.”

Many of the more than 56,000 members of the Badass Teachers Association (BATS) commented on this article.

A few days later, all comments were deleted and the ability to make any additional comments was disabled. TFA then published two additional articles about the comments BATS had made. The authors of these new articles then attempted to debunk what had been written about them but was too dangerous to be left for their readers to see for themselves.

The counter-narratives of hundreds of people had been erased. But as any good public school teacher will tell you – nothing that is posted on the Internet is ever lost.

Below is every comment made on the original TFA article.

And, yes, I mean –

EVERY. SINGLE. COMMENT.


COMMENTS:

Badass Teachers don’t Teach For Awhile, they earn valid
credentials and commit their lives to public service. They speak
out against sham operations like TFA that pretend to have the
neediest of children at heart, but which really deprive them of
skilled professional guidance. I earned my M.Ed degree in 1990,
the year TFA crawled out of a dark hole…how many TFAers who
began that year remain as active educators? Badass is as badass
does.
David Sudmeier,
Redmond Middle School
WA State Badass Teachers


Bad? Yes! Badass? Definitely not! While there are a few
exceptions, TFA sends “teachers” into classrooms completely ill
prepared for the realities of teaching. MANY quit before the end
of the year. Few make it more than 2 years. They are
disillusioned, overwhelmed, ineffective, and soon become very
angry about the propaganda that landed them in the horrible
situation they find themselves in.
JD


If TFA wants to stop the bashing — why not actually try and
improve your program rather than airily dismiss the criticisms? I
am a professor who regularly seeing her students hired for TFA –
and trust me — these kids that go on to TFA are not ready to
teach anybody anything. They are totally clueless and have no
idea about the outside world other than academia and upper
middle class suburbia. These are kids who have spent the past
four years grade grubbing and cheerleading and organizing frat
parties. They all say very clearly that they do this to get into law
school. And then they are expected to actually teach other
human beings on a daily basis? Hey TFA — why not put your
teachers in white middle class school districts and see what the
response would be. I’m pretty sure it would be negative. Why? No
one wants a 23 year old with no life experience other than
running sorority rush to teach their kids in second grade.
Alana


TFA is totally NOT’ badass’. If TFA were, it would require its
recruits to take several courses, practicums, supervised trial
teachers with experienced mentors and have them take the
appropriate certification exams. Shame on you.
Robin P.


Hahahaha, tried to co-opt our skills as teachers, largely
failed(ing), now trying to co-opt our skills as activists, FAILING!
You are NOT teachers, nor badasses. True teachers stay and
make a difference! WE are teachers and badasses!
Karen Adlum


Shame on you, TFA. Badass Teachers are those with years of
training, education and experience, not some wide-eyed kids
who are given five weeks of training, brainwashed with feel-good
propaganda, and promised more money to help pay off student
loan debts.
Karen


The badasses are the teachers who stick it out instead of using
teaching as a steppingstone to a career in administration or ed.
policy. I’ve known a few TFAers who have stuck around for the
long haul, but most have left after some pretty shaky years as
fledgling educators. The former are badasses, the latter are not.
Badass Veteran


Sorry, TFA…..but you’re not badass. You use teaching as a
stepping stone; you think 5 WEEKS of training prepares you for
the classroom; you don’t support your recruits; and, worst of all,
you ENCOURAGE them to use their newfound “leadership skills”
to the detriment of children everywhere. Good work.
A trained teacher


I think maybe there is a misunderstanding. This is about kids, not
celebrating ourselves or our personal adult successes. This is
supposed to be about children and communities, especially the
marginalized and disenfranchised. I’m sorry (really) that you are
offended. We are fighting for OUR (yours too) children and this
democratic way of life. It’s impossible for someone who lacks
experience overtime to see the big picture. It just is. Veteran
teachers have that.
A Teacher


TFA is as far from BadAss as you can get. First you co-opt our
professional status with a 5 week training course of inspirational
YouTube videos, now your’re trying to co-opt the name of an
organization that exists to oppose you and all other education
deformers. Get a real teaching degree, TFA, and then we’ll talk.
Linda Meo


You have got to be kidding. You’re “bad ass” because you can
teach based on a five-week training course? You’re not qualified
to teach three-year-olds. What you are doing is trying to destroy
the public education system of this country for your own personal
profit in game for your own personal profit and gain. And for that
you should be ashamed. And don’t be surprised that we have NO
respect much less appreciation for you. Quit trying to co-op the
badass teachers association, the real BAT’s who are trying to
save publication in this country.. Being a copycat only actually
gives credit to the real organization that you’re correctly
acknowledging does an incredibly much better job than you do.
JoAnna Chocooj, BAT


Wow, I could go to school for less than one semester and be
qualified to teach? Why aren’t we doing this for medicine?
Because you could never learn enough in one summer to safely
and properly diagnos and treat patients in one summer. Why do
you devalue education so much that you think we can properly
serve our students with just a basic understanding and limited
exposure to educational and developmental theory. That’s not
badass, that’s bad practice.
SCG


Getting paid a mid six-figure salary to participate in the neoliberal
assault on public education is far from badass. Basass implies
fighting against the powers that be; TFA is embedded in the
power structures that uphold racism and growing economic
inequality. Teach For America is a central cog in the
anti-democratic, racist machine working to privatize public
education. Their influence has severely impacted the teaching
profession and worsened the educational experiences and
opportunities for our neediest students. In addition, badass
means putting yourself at risk, but these women have by and
large personally profited from their work in the education
industrial complex.

I agree with the other comments on this website. This post is an
affront to all the hard-working teachers, activists, and justice
seekers who have risked financial and even bodily harm to fight
against all that TFA stands for. I’m stealing what others have said,
“TFA is not badass, it’s just bad.”
Katie O


TFA is not helping our kids, but rather hurting our great
educational system. Assuming that someone can train for 5
weeks and then teach is a complete nonsensical idea. Kids and
schools are more complex than 5 weeks could ever train one for.
Teaching is an ART and not everyone is cut out for it, particularly
but TFA people. Shame on Wendy Kopp for doing nothing but
trying to PROFIT from our kids! This is not a fast food job. It is a
career dealing with the most precious resources we have: our
children. Go flip burgers but leave our kids alone! Shame on
these profiteers!!!
Allyson


Wow. TFA folks are far from badass. Teasing is the hardest thing
I’ve ever done and I have energy and intellect for miles. I went to
six funerals of my students last year. I teach sixth grade. I have
been at it for about 10 years. They think they’re badass for
serving to? If this piece of so-called journalism called any further
up the corporate butt hole, it would be rubbing against the uvula
of TFA itself. After all, aren’t corporations people?
John Simms


Yes, I know I said teasing instead of teaching. That’s what
happens on a Sunday morning when you are on your way
to feed a family of five. A family, I might add, is not my own.
John Simms


You know what’s really Badass? Remaining a committed teacher
in the face of tremendous adversity. This is something rarely seen
amongst the ranks of those who are working as “teachers” for
TFA.
Rebekah L


If I had known all I had to do to be badass was to study for a few
weeks and act like I knew what I was doing, I could have saved
myself a whole lot of grief, time, and money. If you REALLY cared
about the kids and not your own egos, you’d actually get an
education instead of teaching kids that it’s okay to take short cuts
as long as you’re “making difference.”
Susan G


Oh, please! The term “badass” is fitting for members of the
Badass Teachers Association. TFA is NOT badass in any way,
shape, or form. Go co-opt someone else’s movement!
APaar


Aren’t the real bad asses the children whose bodies and futures
these careers were “fueled” by? (Your word choice)
I think this is the type of op-ed that drives the people trying to do
good within TFA completely nuts. It’s is straight out of the
appropriate, self-promote and leave playbook that TFA claims to
not subscribe to.

Also the parts about TFA being more persecuted than any other
organization sound privileged as hell.
There are great stories in here. I deeply respect Packnett’s work.
But putting her next to Cunningham is really gross. This whole
framing is disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Xian


TFA is NOT “badass”. You are part of the corporate education
reform movement which Badass Teachers are fighting everyday.
You do not stand with teachers who have gone through
extensive training and have worked for years to help our children
to surmount the obstacles they face in their lives through
education provided by professionals. We are the long term
committed, tested by time and by the efforts of educational
deformers to tear down the teaching profession, public education
and community.
EGlynn


TFA stands for Teach For Awhile. Not doing our students any
good. Most TFA’s are just “warm bodies” for one or two years and
nothing more. They are teaching to pay off their loans.
Richard Martin


You are not “badass.” That label is for real teachers, who stand
with teachers. TFA are pawns for the coporate take-over of
education, most of whom never teach more than a few years to
have their loans forgiven and pad their resume. Shame.
David Topitzer


We can’t forget that our public education system was never
created to educate all children. Thus, it’s not broken; it’s doing
what it was created to do. If what activist and social critic James
Baldwin noted is true, “Education for whites is indoctrination.
Education for blacks is subjugation,” then the traditional public
system is colonial and TfA represents neo-colonialism. TfA is
entering its DNA into the education system at various levels. If
they were there to liberate my urban students, i would support
them, but since no TfA member I met (male or female) are
themselves liberated, I can’t. Wendy Kopp has no clue she’s just
got lots of social capital and money. The only purpose of the use
of “bad” in BAW by TfA is that they want to be “hip” and “cool” SO
bad.
John


I think woman achieving and being successful is great for all
women. I am curious to find out however how many TFA alum are
still teaching 5,10, and 15+ years versus how many leave
education to persue other fields. Real success for TFA will be
achieved when your great alumni continue long term the noble
profession of teaching.
K


Badass? Dumbass…….TFA needs to fold. You’re already folding
education.
Ron J


Who the hell is TFA to call themselves Badass? They are the
scabs in the education-field. They are the recipient of hedge fund
destroyers of public ed. They are the garbage that rich, mostly
white, entitled brats go to in order to move up the ladder and on
the backs of the urban and rural poor.
Myles Hoenig


Who inspires me to badass? My mother a career teacher who
didn’t receive 5 weeks of training, teach for 2 years then leave
the classroom to go to the upper echelons of your organization
to get big bucks while leaving countless children and an entire
generation with a substandard education. A career teacher who
dedicates her whole life to improving outcomes for students and
constantly educates herself to do that job better, NOW THATS
BADASS. I think you have the definition wrong.
Proud daughter


Teach for America … little more than camp counselors without the
pine trees on their shirts.

Imagine for a moment the instant promotion of butchers to
surgeons … or deck builders to bridge engineers. Imagine Cub
Scout troop leaders as military generals … or menu makers as the
next classic authors.

There’s something so odd about teaching … and it’s seldom
ending grading that snatches away your Sundays, faculty and
department meetings, parent confabs, planning, gathering things
you need and resources you want. Colleague exchanges and
innovative thinking. Blend in some school politics and the usual
work-place agita … and maybe some deep intrigue at times. Oh,
and don’t forget your family … those folks you bump into when
you’re half dressed. They want a piece of you, too.

I’m certain that five week preparation period offered by the
Teach for America leadership is gonna arm those greenhorn
teachers to the max? If that’s true, I’m only four or five hundred
practice swings from the major leagues. When do I get my
contract and uniform?

I’m not angry that people assume they can do my job. I’m
amused. You know, I’ve been thinking … wondering what I might
do when I’m done in the classroom. I think I might dabble in some
surgery … or maybe aeronautics. Looks easy from where I sit.
Pluto … here I come!
Denis Ian


Great propaganda. Read this, also http://www.alternet.org
/education/teach-america-bait-and-switch-youll-be-making- difference-youre-making-excuses
Bobbi


Excuse me. Public education teachers are badass! No one with a
5 week training period should even think about calling
themselves a badass. Unless it was a typo and you meant, Teach
for America is “bad,” for education. And anyone who uses TFA is
an ass! That I would agree too.
Paula Garfield


“It’s no accident that Teach For America has fueled the careers of
so many extraordinary women—it’s by design.”

WHAT?!?!? Use your critical thinking skills you honed in college
and think about that. The design is that you go into a
marginalized school where parents can’t or don’t know to
complain about the random (albeit book smart in another subject
besides education) unprepared person teaching their kids. And
YOU are then ‘fueled’ by and off the backs of disadvantaged
children! to then leave and become individually ‘extraordinary’ in
another career. And you admit it. You HIGHLIGHT it! You are
using these most deserving children, families and communities
for your own gain. It’s actually quite shameful. And the damage
left behind you wouldn’t know.

Teaching is about uplifting children and developing productive,
happy and empowered citizens in a democratic society for the
LONG HAUL not a spring board for some ‘badass’ career. So sad
for kids, families and our democracy actually and definitely NOT
BADASS.

Badass teachers know the depth of knowledge and experience
OVERTIME that is needed for BADASSNESS. They are committed
public servants NOT ever thinking about personal gain. Sorry,
good people, TFA is not anywhere in the realm of Badass.
A Teacher


How very typical. You claim you are teachers , after only 5 weeks
of training. Then as you ‘donate’ two years of time in the
classroom to pad your resume, you claim you are “a badass
woman”. NO! A Badass Teacher is one who has earned
credentials through 4 years of university undergrad, hones their
craft while teaching by extending their credits to include behavior
management, motivation, child development, collaborative
learning environments while likely juggling a home and a family
of their own. A real BADASS Teacher is not afraid to examine the
behind the scenes manipulations of a ‘reformer’ agenda. You are
all PAWNS – People Allowing Whiny Newbies to destroy Public
Schools. <o>
Jan


Being an underprepared instructor drone who is not committed
to the education profession or staying in the classroom and
perfecting your craft is NOT badass. It’s just bad.
Steven Singer


Is Katie Cunningham taking full responsibility for the race baiting
ad that is running in New York right now?
And, to say that these women are not self promoting when they
are in the news regularly is disingenuous at best.
NYGAL


My favorite quote ” It’s received a fair degree of attention for
organizational effectiveness” – fair is as good as marginal!!! You
are marginally correct – TFAers are Bad…case in point – you can’t
even come up with your own slogan – you have to steal it from
others…
Angela Reynolds


As an educator, I find this article insulting to my chosen
profession of 21 years!! I chose education and began teaching
after completing my B.A. in Education and my master’s degree. I
am currently working on my doctorate in Education while I am still
in the classroom! TFA teachers, I challenge you to spend more
than one or two years in a classroom. I challenge you to join a
district as a person with a degree who wants to teach, and I want
you to apply for alternative certification, a process that takes
about 2-3 years. I challenge you, as a new teacher, to join the
local teacher union, so that you can understand the importance
of banding together. I want you to explain to me how you
differentiate in a class of 27 students–where you have 12 of them
with IEPS, 2 ESOL students, and 6 students with 504s. I want to
challenge you to one year in my classroom at my high school or
ANY Title One school in our country. I want you to be there for
the football games, dances, lockdown drills, medical
emergencies, and Homecoming Spirit Weeks. I pity you, because
you will NEVER have the satisfaction of seeing the younger
siblings of families come through your classes, you will never
have the joy of celebrating school milestones, and you will never
have the respect of the community because “she left after a year
or two”. And you will never….be Badass. That takes courage and
commitment.
Cheryl Vinson


Helping to destroy the public school system does not make TFA
employees badass; it just makes them pawns for corporations
that want to turn education into a for-profit operation, to the
detriment of the students and their communities. Being used is
the polar opposite of badass—they should be embarrassed, not
proud.
Peggy ^O^


Why don’t you go establish a settlement house in a slum
somewhere instead of writing PR like this?
Splendidanomaly


As a Bad Ass Teacher(BAT), I am highly insulted as a woman that
you are naming these TFA’s Bad Ass Women. They are not the
only women juggling a Career (not a job), families and everything
else it entails. I have been doing so for the last 25 years while
battling the decimation of public education including the attack of
TFA on the teaching profession!
Cynthia Pelosi, M.S.


These are NOT teachers. Teachers are trained for more than 5
weeks. I find it insulting that TFA keeps putting these untrained
people in the classroom and calling them teachers. Teachers
have the backround and training to understand how to develop
the entire child…..not just follow a script. Why don’t they do this in
other professions? Why do lawyers, doctors, accountants,
plumbers, or anyone need training or college.? These people
think with 5 weeks training they can do this important job as well
as the trained professionals!!!! Sad ….. very sad.
Daisy


Anyone who falls for this propaganda has their head in the sand.
TFA has been called out for what it is: An opportuni$tic grab to
displace experienced, qualified teachers with 2 year ambitiou$
young career climbers who have no intention of staying in the
classroom. Well, I hope you realize that you just abandoned
Johnny, again, and helped destabilize a community’s school
along the way. Nice resume padding, $cab.
Erin Rafferty


Most TFA-temps can’t handle 1 year in a tough classroom. TFA’ers
aren’t badass they’re dropouts.
Joan Grim


Teach For America (TFA) is a Dumb Ass Scam (DAS).
Chris


I don’t think Badass means what you think it means….unless you
think it means hopeless posers who have NO idea how to teach
with a mere 5 weeks of training. Badass teachers have years of
preparations. Badass teachers advocate for and promote their
students, not themselves. You people are disgusting.
BASS


Badass Teachers Teach for Life
RBA


Imposters.
Scabs.
Pretenders.
You people have absolutely no right to stand in front of a
classroom of children.
John Christopher Nolan


Teaching and corporate America are not compatible. How dare
TFA try to Kopp(sic) the name. Bad Ass women? More like
Gordon Gekko, greedy poseurs. Hypocrites of the lowest
echelon.
Char Ashton


If by “transforming the landscape,” you mean the strip mining of
the education reform movement, then yes, the landscape is
“transformed.” No, it is not pretty. If you think that makes you
badass, than you are very confused as to what a real badass
teacher is.
FLBadassTeacher


No amount of propaganda can make me believe that TFA Corp
members are teachers.
Another Real Teacher!


Badass Teachers are in the profession for the long run, not for
resume building. We are there for the kids long after you TFA
employees move on and your charter schools shut down. Stop
pretending to compare yourselves to real classroom
professionals.
David Burks


Just wondering if you would also promote dentists, doctors,
nurses or lawyers who trained for 5 weeks instead of the 5+
years a true professional would undergo? Will you put you teeth,
surgery, hospital care, or legal case in the hands of a summer
trainee? Stop belittling the true expertise of a properly trained
educator. Teaching is NOT glorified babysitting. I believe my
library offers a babysitting certification in about the same time as
your ‘TFA’ training. Shameful!
ProudProfessionalEducator


Stealing, by imitating, the name of another group, namely the
BadAss Teachers (BATS), is unethical.
Sensei


Nice try Wendy. There is nothing badass about TFA. Now BadAss
Teachers know how to truly reform education in this country. Your
scabs are trying to help those who would destroy public
education and leave our most vulnerable children behind.
Laura Fleming


Basically Awaiting White (collar job)
Boldly Accomplishing What?
5yearstoyour5weeks


It’s telling that the accomplishments highlighted in the article deal
with actions outside the classroom. Figures.
Real Teacher


Badass Teachers are college trained professionals. I put in 20 ye,
with an education masters, plus National Board. TFA are naive
kids that damage the community with their cheap, inexperienced
labor then leave to say they worked with the poor. TFA is Teach
For A while.
Lucia, Real Badass Teacher


YOU CALL YOURSELVES TEACHERS ALSO,YOU CAN BELIEVE
WE ALL KNOW YOU ARE NOT BADASS TEACHERS BECAUSE
BADASS TEACHERS KNOW THE REAL TRUTH!
Wanda Ryals


TFA employees (I can’t call them teachers when the organization
calls them corps members and the organization doesn’t think
they are, either) don’t deserve the label “badass.” They may work
hard and raise families, but they were never as dedicated to their
students as the many thousands of real teachers who, knowing
the long hours and low pay, still went through the full education
program to be fully qualified as teachers and who have
dedicated decades to teaching. Temps for Awhile get this
attitude of superiority and idea that they can move into an area,
impose rigid discipline and scripted instruction, and leave after
two years to start their “real” careers. Even your founder, Wendy
Kopp, admits the deception. In 2011 she said, “We’re a leadership
development organization, not a teaching organization. I think if
you don’t understand that, of course it’s easy to tear the whole
thing apart.” Yet, she named it “Teach for America.” Why not,
“Leadership Development for America”? I call that “deceptive,”
not “Badass!”
Lisa ^O^


TFA is not and will never be a badass organization. The women
of TFA are not badass. They are temporary school personnel
committed only for two years of “teaching” despite the lack of
teacher training and skill obtained by credentialed teachers. TFA
takes money from public school districts as a headhunter would
for providing temporary, untrained personnel who will be gone as
soon as they begin to develop skills. That is not badass, but
greedy, shortsighted, and asinine.
Karen Rosa


Bad Ass Teachers aren’t “fueling” a career by teaching for two
years, we teach for a lifetime! TFA recruits are being terribly
deceived by articles like this. I hope they realize they have been
duped…students deserve career teachers. ^0^
Donna Mace ^O^


Wondering since TFA is so much more enlightened than us
properly trained EDUCATORS, why could you not come up with a
better moniker for your women than bad ass? Does seem odd
that you wanted to be called by the same name as us, so called
no good teachers who actually got a degree in education and
have put our hearts and souls into every precious child we teach
YEAR AFTER YEAR……meaning 10, 15, 20, 30 years….not an
“activity” to add to our resume for that “big job” in a couple of
years.
Badass Certified, Highly Qualified,
Highly Effective Trained Teacher


Perhaps the likes of Teach for America will go down in history as
one of the vulture capitalists’ most damaging privatization
enterprises to US public schools. The treatment of children as
commodities is weak and inhumane, not Badass. Feigning highly
qualified status is weak, not Badass. Taking jobs away from truly
highly qualified professionals is weak, not Badass. Using
propaganda to hide the truth of the impacts of poverty is weak,
not Badass. Going along with TFA’s cultish indoctrination without
using critical thinking (i.e. How can I possibly be highly qualified
to teach our neediest children after only 5 weeks of training
when it takes more training than 5 weeks to be licensed to be a
nail technician in a salon?) is weak, not Badass. Becoming an
insider to promote corporate propaganda in other leadership
roles when you’ve seen the ineffectiveness for personal gain and
profit is weak, not Badass. Protecting the profits of the 1% while
feigning good works for needy children is weak, not Badass.
Teach for America is a sham, not Badass. The harm done by TFA
and all who were complicit in this parasitic organization will go
down in history as personal weakness and unprofessional
conduct, as greedy and shameful behavior, not Badassery.
Susan DuFresne


You are not “Badass” at all. Maybe you should change to
“Wimpass.” Sounds a lot better and matches the crappy fake
teacher crap you promote.
Glenn


Sorry, the Badass moniker is taken by real Badass Teachers.
Don’t co-op the name, style and message of legitimate, highly
trained teachers – it’s just a sleazy move.
Joanne OBrien


Badass you are not.
Bad, edutourists, teach for a while, those who use students as
resume bullets, eduprenuers, fake, policy writers, wanna be a
politician, teacherprenuers and teacher wanna be are the correct
adjectives for you.
StandingProud


TFA are basically scabs, they teach for two years to pay for part
of a college education!
They are not committed to our children, they are committed to
lowering their student loan payments!!!
Food Safety Chef


Only a person from TFA (without teaching experience) would think
what they do is “badass”. You’re a joke and thankfully, despite all
of your self promotional efforts, the public is now aware of what a
sham you really are.
Proud Public School Parent Against TFA


Badass? Not a chance. A real badass ^0^ teacher knows that it
takes more than five weeks to develop her craft and years to
become a fully formed professional. Also, real badasses don’t
feel the need to promote themselves; they advocate for their
students. Real badasses study for years to be the best educator
they can be. Real badasses are in it for the long haul, not for a
few years. Please stop trying to be something you’re not…you are
not badasses
20 Year Badass ^O^


Obviously, the author of this article has a bias against real
teachers. Who would want their child to be taught by a poorly
trained college student? This is not OK. In no other profession
would you want a newbie working with you or your kids.
The idea that anyone can teach with just a little bit of training is
what’s wrong with education in this country. Do we want really
want a bunch of untrained, low-paid drones teaching our kids
through computers? Free thought, creativity, and a real zest for
learning would be casualties of this plan.
Shame on you for your fluff-piece!
Irving Milbury


You STOLE the name of our major teaching group. Some things
beggar belief–that some people believe throwing a kid with 5
weeks training into a high risk environment is a recipe for
success, for instance, or that the same people think it is okay to
steal a concept name that doesn’t belong to them and never will.
Shaking my head, TFA. Shaking my head.
Mr. Jay


Treating poor students and students of color as stepping stones
to your “better” career is not badass…it is selfish and morally
reprehensible.
Lynn


Wow – really? You can’t even come up with something original for
female TFA workers? And yes, workers because they are not
trained, highly qualified professionals, like teachers are. They are
pretenders and led to believe by an organization that they are
being well-trained in 5 weeks to withstand the demands of
modern teaching. Which is just like you trying to use “badass”
that already belongs to the Badass Teachers Association –
pretender.
C Andrews


You remind me of a group that co-opted the Children’s’ Defense
League’s motto, “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” ! Real teachers go
through 2 to 5 years of training as teachers, real educators jump
through hoops TFA doesn’t even begin to address! To quote the
Childrens’ Defense League, “my boat is so small and the ocean is
so big”. Please don’t steal from real Bad Ass Teachers and we
won’t pretend to be nurses or paralegals or whatever other
career choices that take 2-5 years past the B.A.
Cynthia Mann


Not Cool… you have NOT EARNED the right to be “Badass” until
you earn your TEACHING DEGREE.
KAT


I am waiting for a Dentists for America. I can drill and fill cavities
in 5 weeks and tell other dentists how to do things more
effectively.
Robby G


Why do you need to “borrow” the essence of the name of an
actual Badass organization like Badass Teachers? A group of
highly trained REAL educators who despise the very thought of a
crash course for people to become teachers. Could it be that you
hope to take advantage of people who may not be aware of
TFA’s tactics? Could it be that you’re scared of the power and
influence that real BATs hold? I think so.
Real Badass Teacher


You are neither “Bad Ass” nor highly qualified. And worse, you
take the place of a teacher who is not only Bad Ass and highly
qualified, BUT who also plans to make it a life’s work. Shame!
Artmisse


http://www.alternet.org/education/teach-america-bait-and-switch- youll-be-making-difference-youre-making-excuses
John teacher


YOU ARE NOT BADASS. HORSE’S ASS, FOOL ASS AND GREEDY
ASS, THAT’S WHAT TFA IS. YOU CAN’T CALL YOURSELF
BADASS WITH ANY DEGREE OF CREDIBILITY IF YOUR GOAL IS
TO DESTROY THE PROFESSION OF TEACHING AND TURN IT
INTO A PART TIME GIG WHILE YOU’RE WAITING TO GET A REAL
JOB.
Michael Dominguez


TFA is dumbass, not badass. Anyone willing to believe that
inexperienced and poorly trained people who are in and out of
schools are somehow changing education in America for the
better is seriously confused. TFA is a private entity being used to
help privatize our country’s public education system. While TFA
recruits may put their hearts into their jobs, they just can’t
compete with a traditionally trained teacher. Edreformers tout
TFA but are the very reason there is a teacher shortage. If you
want to teach, don’t be a dumbass, go to school and get a
teaching degree.
Phil Sorensen


Holy neocolonialism, Batman! Could you be any more transparent
in your attempt to appropriate the badassery of the Badass
Teachers Association? This is pretty much what we expect from
an organization devoted to dismantling what’s left of public
education in support of a neoliberal corporate agenda.
Will Valenti


You are not bad ass. 5 weeks does not prepare you at all to teach
in education. I have taught for almost ten years and I have met
only two TFA worth anything. Most are simple a body in a class,
not knowledgable and certainly not a teacher. Your program is
NOT a solution, it is part of the problem. Shame on you for
pretending to be teachers!
Kelly


You are not bad ass. Far from it. You are part of the problem, not
the solution. 5 weeks of training is nothing. BATs work hard to
make changes in the system that benefit our students. We are
there everyday. Year after year. Becoming part of the community.
Your people don’t last in education. Your program is a joke.
Teresa Brown


SHAME ON YOU!! Claiming to be something you are when you
aren’t! You’re trying to take jobs from PROFESSIONALLY trained &
licensed teachers.
Mary


This is not even teaching, let alone badass teaching! Stop lying.
You have summer camp training at best. You are changing the
landscape of public education by harming the very children who
need the most stability. The real ‘badass’ teachers devote their
lives to their students, parents and communities. You use them to
further your NON educational career. How dare you call
yourselves teachers? You are destroyers of public education.
Shame on you.
Lesa Wilbert


Professional education, experience, and hard-won expertise are
badass. Long -term commitment and professional development
are badass. Pretending to expertise while blocking true
educators from jobs is not badass. Thinking that five weeks
creates a teacher is sheer ignorant folly.
Prof.teacher


Seriously you have 5 weeks of training to be a teacher. You are
not badass. ^o^
^O^


Forgetting the fact that you lifted the notion of being a badass
teacher directly from an established group of actual badass
teachers (and you know you did), this whole post smacks of fake
and flimsy rhetoric and degrades the common sense of intelligent
women.

My friend’s daughter fell for your “badass” pitch. She lasted a day
in New Orleans. A day. She realized immediately that she had
absolutely no support and was not prepared for the job that you
need a 4-5 year degree to do.
TFA= Teach For Awhile.
Al


This article is such ridiculous drivel! Who in their right mind
WANTS to entrust the education of their children to a person who
was trained for only 5 weeks?! While standing by and
watching/listening to HIGHLY QUALIFIED public school teachers
who are VERIFIABLY BADASS be villainized! This TFA program
has been used to de-professionalize the teaching profession, to
attack public school educators, and to fuel the drive for
ed-reformers to privatize and charter-ize public schools (oh
surprise! The same program’s advisory board the author of this
piece serves is driven toward ed-reform! I wonder if she also
knows & loves Michelle Rhee). Then, after 2 years or so, the
“teachers” from TFA leave teaching to pursue a different career
entirely! Though the examples listed above are family-related,
there are but six of them. All this TFA garble really tells me is that
there is a dangerous lack of knowledge of what it takes to truly
be a badass. Shameful.
A Highly Qualified Public School Teacher


Tfa is far from Badass! 5 weeks of training is a joke. Nothing can
replace the college training, internships in schools during college,
and student teaching that real teachers go through. No to
mention the continuing education in graduate school and the
years of experience that go into becoming a great teacher.
Teachem


Thinking you can become a teacher in 5 weeks is far from
badass. Going through a real education program and devoting
your life to teaching children – that is badass!
Marla Kilfoyle


If TFA was so great, why are white affluent districts standing in
line to hire these “teachers”? I guess if you are poor or a person
of color you don’t need a professional teacher! Instead, any hack
with 5 weeks of training looking to beef up their resume will do!
^o^
Eve Shippens


TFA=another attack on the public schools. Destroying truly
dedicated teachers who are getting forced out of the profession
(a profession is field of work you prepare for seriously and work
in for a prolonged period of time). All as a cheap alternative.
Charmbla


This is not badass, how dare you try to co-opt the badass theme!
Come at me ten, fifteen years from now when you’ve earned
comparable qualifications (not the ones handed to you), and
stayed in the classroom and not used is as a jump to the
boardroom.
TFA is pathetic. Gl
eelo


Putting TFA clones into staff office in the House of
Representatives is the moral equivalent of stuffing a ballot box;
Putting people with 5 weeks training into inner city classrooms is
gentrification and is the moral equivalent of breaking and
entering; calling yourself badass is a joke. No one is laughing.
sue


You are not badass. You are destroying public education with
dirty money.
^O^


TFA=Teach for awhile 5 weeks of summer training do not make
for a highly trained teacher, but a babysitter. School systems pay
TFA per placement – how much $? The money would be better
spent on hiring qualified, trained teachers who choose teaching
as a career, not a resume building experience. It takes years to
become a master teacher. How will the two-year churn of teacher
turnover with TFA teachers benefit the schools they work in?
NOVAOptOut


Hope that TFAers who read this post are aware of how dishonest
and derivative this BAW idea is. If I hadn’t been so before and I
were a TFAer I would finally be humiliated by being a member of
TFA. Is there anyone reading our comments who is puzzled?
Well, if you are one such person figure it out.
ann


Badass? For how long? 2 years? Then on to another career
where you make twice as much and talk about how you tried to
help poor minorities at some cocktail party? Please. Teaching is
not for weak or for people who give up on it.
JSmom

You are not in any way, shape, or form badass. 5 weeks of
training does not equal a REAL teacher.
^o^ Maggie Coffinet, one badass teacher and proud member of
the Badass Teachers Association


“These women are so badass that they don’t have time for
self-promotion;…..” followed by a page of promotion? I am
thinking that this blatant co-opted, copy-cat messaging is a sign
of desperate times.
Cindy Hamilton


Badass??? Really??? 5 week training course and you don’t make
a career out of education you use it as a stepping stone for
another job that pays better. How “badass” is that? There is no
“love” of the job, “love” for the children, no true calling…REAL
BAD ASS TEACHERS have degrees 4 and 5 years long with
Master Degrees to boot…we do what we do for decades in the
classrooms…talk to me when you’ve been in the classroom as
long as I have! I have been in college learning HOW to teach
longer than most of your members have been teaching in
classrooms! THAT’S BADASS!
One seriously Badass Teacher


Pathetic Imitation is the pathetically sincerest form of pathetic
flattery. or something . . . heh heh. I mean, this just beats all!
Pathetic. Se also https://www.facebook.com/groups
/BadAssTeachers/
Bert Downs


These women aren’t badass. They are exploiting the poor,
compromising public education and responsible for putting the
most untrained, temporary teachers into our most underserved
schools. Not badass – just self-serving.
Pamela Casey Nagler


Are you trying to co opt the language of the Badass Teachers
movement? Five week trained scabs are not bad ass nor
teachers. Nice try but we aren’t fooled.
Ro Jensen


NOTE: This article also was published on the Badass Teachers Association blog.

 

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Stopgap Budget a 4-inch Crap Sandwich for Pennsylvanians Who Rejected a Footlong

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If you won’t pass 12 months of our crappy budget, pass 4 months of it.

That’s the plan of Pennsylvania Republicans to swindle voters into accepting lower expectations out of state government.

While Governor Wolf talks compromise, GOP lawmakers stamp their feet, cross their arms and pretend that’s somehow doing their jobs.

Three months passed the deadline for a year-long state spending plan, Republicans in both the House and Senate pushed through a stopgap budget along party lines that could only see the light of day because of their numerical majority.

Gov. Wolf vetoed their year-long budget in June because it failed to fix the damage of four years of budget cuts to essential public services like education. Now Republicans are demanding he accept four months of the same and we’ll talk about the rest later.

Wolf is expected to veto this stopgap measure on Monday.

But this doesn’t mean the newly-elected Democratic governor is unwilling to compromise. That’s all he’s been trying to do for the passed 90 days! He’s offered major concessions to the GOP including proposals for private management of the state liquor system and limits to traditional pensions for future state and public school workers.

The response? Nothing.

I guess Republicans don’t get how compromise is supposed to work. One side gives up something and then the other side does the same until both parties can meet in the middle. But in Harrisburg it’s been all give from the governor and nothing from the Republican legislature.

‘Give us everything we want for 4 months’ is not a compromise!

This is what happens when you let billionaires buy our government. You get a state of gerrymandered districts. The majority of residents voted for Wolf because he promised to overturn these Republican policies, but with the state chopped up into voting districts along party lines, the GOP gains a majority in the legislature though they do not have a numerical one of residents. And this Republican majority relies on the votes of Tea Party ideologues who will accept no discussion, no bargaining, no give-and-take.

That’s exactly what the 1% funding these stubborn legislators want. The super rich lounging behind their thick walls and glittering gates want the rest of us to become fed up with our government. They want us to give up on Democratic process as a way to ensure public goods. They are sabotaging our oldest and most revered institutions to prove to us how badly they work.

You see, they don’t care about public goods because these things don’t directly impact them. Why should they care if our public schools are dying of starvation? Their kids don’t go to public schools.

Moreover, if we actually go with Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget and fund elementary, middle and high schools, the rich will have to help pay for it. They’ll have to pay their fair share. That’s something these leeches will never do willingly.

For four years under the previous Republican governor our public schools had been put on a starvation diet cutting almost $1 billion a year from a system that already was one of the least equitable in the country.

Public schools are funded mostly by state and local governments. If you ranked all 50 states in the country by which ones shoulders the highest burden of education costs, Pennsylvania comes in 45th. The Commonwealth only pays 36.1% of the bill – far below the national average of 45.5%. Wolf wants to bring that up to 50%, but when it comes to doing right by children, Republicans apparently are fine with being below average.

But exactly how low can you go?

Not only does the Commonwealth skimp on all its children, it gives up on the poor. The money train makes long luxurious stops at rich districts but barely even comes to a halt at poor ones before chugging on down the line.

We spend less on our poor students compared to our rich ones than ANY OTHER STATE! When it comes to cheating impoverished kids out of an education, we’re number one!

Nationwide, rich schools already spend on average 15.6% more than high poverty schools. But in Pennsylvania, the difference is 33%!

We are systematically short-changing our neediest children year-after-year, and instead of fixing that, Republicans demand another 4 months of neglect!

But as lawmakers bicker, without a state budget, schools aren’t getting the funding they had expected. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, poor schools are forced to dip into their reserves to keep their doors open.

Districts were required by law to complete their spending plans months ago making educated guesses how much they’d get from the state. Without that money coming in, they’re surviving on their rainy day funds – and as usual storm clouds are pouring on our schools.

Districts serving poor communities often don’t have much left over to continue running while Harrisburg plays political games. If something isn’t done soon, poor districts might not be able to continue functioning.

And that’s just what Republicans are expecting.

Look at all the damage the Democrats are doing by not accepting our stopgap budget, they say. Sure! Our spending plan shortchanges these kids, but at least it gives them something! Can you really be so hard hearted that you’ll deny them anything at all!?

So our state politics has come down to a desperate game of chicken. Can our schools hold out while the Democrats try to bargain for a better deal? Will the public realize it’s really Republicans who are being unreasonable?

Does anyone care anymore? Has everyone just checked out because the whole situation is too ugly to watch?

I mean you can eat a crap sandwich if you don’t have to see yourself doing it.

In Puerto Rico, Students Go On Strike to Stop Teacher Relocations

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Students streamed out of their classrooms chanting in unison in the mountainous Utuado region of Puerto Rico earlier this month.

They took over the halls and doorways of Luis Muñoz Rivera High School on Thursday, Sept. 10, locking their arms together to create a human chain.

They paralyzed their school, shut it down, and allowed no one in or out.

The reason? Not too much homework. Not lack of choice in the cafeteria. Not an unfair dress code.

These roughly 100 teenagers were protesting the loss of their teachers. And they vowed to occupy their own school until the government gave them back.

Six educators had been ordered to other schools, which would have ballooned classes at the Rivera School to 35-40 students per classroom.

Government officials claimed the high school had too few students to justify the cost. However, with more than 500 young people enrolled, the school has more than double the island average.

“These teachers provide education to almost 140 students,” said Sharymel Montalvo Vélez, a senior at the school. “Do you think this is not enough (to justify the) tuition?”

“Those teachers are excellent. I was their student. I learned with them. I’m grateful for it. Their teaching quality is amazing. I can prove that.”

The students including Vélez, 17, called an assembly to discuss the situation where they voted unanimously to take action. They blocked two gates and wrote a document demanding the Puerto Rican Department of Education revoke the decision to remove their teachers.

Later that day, Sonia González, a representative of the Secretary of Education, met with students and signed the document promising to keep the teachers at the Rivera School. Three parents and one student also signed.

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The affected teachers are Alex Natal, a 10th grade physical education instructor; Naixa Maldonado, an 11th grade Math educator; José Cruz, a 10th and 11th grade History teacher; María Medina, a 12th grade Physics instructor; Damaris Figueroa, an 11th grade Spanish educator; and an 11th grade English teacher.

Vélez said she’s surprised the government agreed to students’ demands. “ I was willing to keep the strike all the time necessary to solve our problem and get our teachers back,” she said.

“I experienced a large class size some years back, and it was hard on both teacher and students. It’s not that easy to make 30 students understand something and go explaining it chair by chair. Every student likes to show his/her ideas and in a large class there is not enough time for everyone.”

What happened in the Rivera School is not an isolated incident. All across the island, communities are fighting government mandates to relocate teachers, increase class size and shutter more schools.

This Tuesday at Pablo Casals School, an arts institution in Bayamon along the north coast, students protested the government decision to relocate their theater teacher, Heyda Salaman.

About 100 students hung the Puerto Rican flag upside down and taped their mouths shut to represent the state of the government and the silence officials expect from the community.

Young people at the specialized arts school which offers visual arts, theater, music and dance as well as academic classes, protested with music and chants of “injustice!”

Just like in the case of the Rivera School, the government eventually relented and agreed to keep the teacher with her students.

The teachers union – the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) – has supported student protesters throughout the island.

“The Teachers Federation from Puerto Rico is proud of the actions these students performed,” said union president Mercedes Martinez about student actions at both facilities.

“Schools belong to our communities according to the law, so the communities have every right to fight for the school they deserve. No more cutting funds to create over-sized classrooms.”

Vélez echoes that statement.

“We have a good education and excellent teachers but the administration is failing their workers,” she said.

“The government is cutting rights and benefits to the teachers and employees and soon there will be no teachers. Maybe our schools get privatized and then only people with money will send their children to (public) school.”

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The Commonwealth government has closed 150 schools in the past 5 years in the U.S. Territory.

Officials warn the government may be out of money to pay its bills by as early as 2016. Over the next five years, it may have to close nearly 600 more schools – almost half of the remaining facilities!

The island is besieged by vulture capitalists encouraging damaging rewrites to the tax code while buying and selling Puerto Rican debt.

Hundreds of American private equity moguls and entrepreneurs are using the Commonwealth as a tax haven.

As a result, tax revenues to fund public goods like education are drying up while the super rich rake in profits.

The indigenous population has suffered at the hands of western conquerors since Columbus, but the newest fruit of Colonialism may be these corporate education reform policies.

Young people like Vélez aren’t revolutionaries. They look just like any ordinary teenage boys and girls wearing t-shirts and blue jeans, baseball caps turned backwards, backpacks slung across their shoulders.

But they have had enough. They aren’t going to accept the low expectations of the corporate world about what constitutes a fair education.

Viva Puerto Rico!


NOTE: This article also was quoted extensively on Diane Ravitch’s blog and published in full on the Badass Teachers Association blog.

The NEA May Be About to Endorse Hillary Clinton Without Input From Majority of Members

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The largest labor union in the United States may be about to endorse Hillary Clinton for President without a poll of its membership.

Leadership at the National Education Association (NEA) has been making troubling moves toward endorsing Clinton that could commit the organization to supporting the Democratic presidential hopeful with no regard for the wishes of its 3.2 million members.

An endorsement could come as early as Oct. 2-3 when President Lily Eskelsen Garcia is expected to propose a primary endorsement of Clinton at the NEA Board meeting, according to multiple NEA sources. Then the PAC council would vote. If approved, it would go to the board for a final decision.

However, since this is only an endorsement for the primary election, the matter would not need to go before the Representative Assembly (RA). In effect, the move could sidestep the voices of the RA’s 8,000 delegates representing state and local affiliates, student members, retired members, and other segments of the united education profession.

The decision would be made by a handful of leaders and the PAC council. Though there are thousands of PAC council votes, they are distributed by the amount of money raised by each state’s members. This means that little states like Delaware – where members donate greatly – have a larger vote relative to their membership than other states.

The voices of the great majority of members would be silenced.

Already leadership at the highest levels seems to be trying to consolidate Clinton support.

Last Wednesday NEA Directors were invited to an hour-long conference call with Clinton. Few directors were allowed to ask questions and only if those questions had been submitted in advance.

After Clinton left the call, only three state presidents had a moment to speak; all gave positive reflections on Clinton and how she supports teachers and public education.

Despite the fact that several Democrats have been courting the NEA’s endorsement, only Clinton was invited to this call.

Last summer, the NEA invited all presidential candidates to participate in the union’s endorsement process. Only Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders did so. Each made a video statement that was shown at the summer’s RA meeting and posted by many to their local groups. Though more candidates have entered the race since then, none have chosen to interview with the NEA.

Ironically, at the same RA meeting, the assembly voted specifically NOT to ignore rank and file membership before endorsing a Presidential candidate. New Business Item 79 states:

NEA, as an organization, will actively engage in conversation and outreach on the NEA endorsement process with all 2016 Presidential campaigns prior to the consideration of a primary recommendation.

It seems if the leadership goes through with the primary endorsement as outlined above, they may be violating NBI 79.

The move is doubly troubling because of the strong-armed manner in which the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) endorsed Clinton in July.

Though the AFT Executive Board voted to endorse Clinton, there is little evidence it did so after adequately gauging members opinions through claimed multiple surveys and telephone town halls. The move caused an uproar and claims the AFT endorsed too early and without rank and file support.

Despite politics at the national level of the NEA, some state affiliates have already made endorsements. For instance, Vermont NEA already endorsed Sanders, their state’s Senator.

“We want to let the whole country in on what we in Vermont have long known,” Vermont NEA president Martha Allen said in a statement. “Bernie’s core values are in line with ours: He is pro-family, pro-worker, pro-education and pro-labor and we believe the time has come for his vision to become a national reality.”

Alternatively, the New Hampshire NEA endorsed Clinton in September. Scott McGilvray, NEA-NH president, called Clinton a “tireless fighter” for students and teachers.

However, Sanders is gaining on Clinton in the polls in the first two primary states. A new Monmouth University poll of likely Democratic voters in New Hampshire gives Sanders the lead over Clinton by a 43-36 margin. Sanders also leads Clinton in Iowa by a 41-40 margin. This is a huge gain from July when Clinton was beating Sanders by 49-25 in that state.

A major endorsement from a union the size of the NEA at this time might give Clinton the boost she needs to solidify her front runner status.

Whatever happens, no matter who the NEA decides to endorse, if anyone, it should be someone leadership can demonstratively prove has the support of the majority of its members.


NOTE: This article also was published on the LA Progressive and the Badass Teachers Association Blog

You Can’t Win a Rigged Game – Standardized Tests as “Proof” of Failure

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One of my dearest high school friends was a bit of a doofus.

Who am I kidding? So was I!

One of our favorite things to do after school was plop on the coach and play shoot ‘em up video games. “Smash TV” was a particular favorite.

We’d bob and weave while clutching controllers and rapidly jamming our thumbs on the buttons.

And at such times, we‘d talk.

No great philosophical problems were solved during these mid-afternoon gaming sessions. We’d talk trash, dissing each other’s gaming skills, bragging about our own, and occasionally quizzing each other with trivia on a shared topic of interest.

We both loved movies, so my buddy used to shout out cinematic quotations and ask me to name where they came from.

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

“Luke, I am your father!”

“Go ahead, punk. Make my day!”

None of these famous quotes made my buddy’s list. He preferred lines like these:

“Run!”

“Look out!”

“Holy S&*t!”

As you can imagine, I rarely got any of them right.

I’d laugh, punch him in the arm good-naturedly and go on shooting virtual enemies.

It was good dumb fun. But now – more than two decades later – my students are forced to take my buddy’s quiz – and if they don’t pass, the government is threatening to shut down their schools and fire me, their teacher.

No, learners don’t have to identify impossible movie quotes. Instead, they’re forced to answer impossibly bad multiple choice questions. But the results are pretty much the same.

In my home state, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and the Keystone Exams are high stakes versions of my buddy’s moronic quiz. The purpose isn’t to fairly assess: it’s to stump as many kids as possible.

And it’s working. For the fourth year in a row, student test scores have declined statewide. Previously, students had been doing relatively well. Why the change?

It began with budget cuts. The legislature slashed almost $1 billion every year in school funding. That means higher class sizes, less teachers, fewer electives, tutoring, nurses, services, etc. And districts like mine weren’t exactly drowning in money to begin with.

Students now have less resources, therefore they can’t prepare as well for the tests.

So what did the legislature do? Did our lawmakers fix the problem by putting back the money they had repurposed as gifts to the natural gas industry?

Heck no! They made the tests even more unnecessarily difficult.

As a result, the steady decline in test scores this year fell off a cliff!

After all, this was the first year in which the Commonwealth fully aligned every question of its mandatory testing with the Pennsylvania Core Standards – which are similar, but not identical to the Common Core standards adopted in other states.

Proficiency rates in grades 3 through 8 dropped by an average of 35.4 percent in math and 9.4 percent in English language arts on the PSSA. Nearly half of all seventh and eighth graders dropped an entire proficiency level in math in just one year.

If I made up a test like this in my own classroom, gave it to my students and got results like these, my first assumption would be that there was something horribly wrong with the test. I must have messed something up to fail so many students! Teachers are always on the lookout for unclear or bad questions on their self-created exams. The for-profit corporations that create our state-mandated tests? Not so much.

Though state Department of Education officials acknowledge the continued decline in scores, they insist problems will work themselves out in subsequent years – as if a 4-year trend is just an anomaly. Move along. Nothing to see here, folks.

My students used to make impressive gains on the tests. My principal stopped by today to give me the scores for my current students and those I taught last year. No surprise. Very few passed.

Are my students now lazier and less intelligent than those I taught four years ago? No. Students who scored well before the budget cuts, often score badly now.

Am I a worse teacher? Absolutely not. I have the same skills I did then. I spend the same amount of time at school – maybe more.

So what changed in my classroom? Lack of reconnaissance.

Teachers like myself used to know exactly what was expected of students on these assessments. We had plenty of materials with which to prepare them. Now the exams change every year – and I don’t mean just the individual questions, I mean what is tested!

Back in the day, when my buddy first shouted out, “Run!” and asked me which movie it came from, I had no idea. But after he did it long enough, I’d start to anticipate him. I’d learn that he was thinking of James Cameron’s “The Terminator.”

That’s how the PSSA’s used to be. Teachers knew how the test makers wanted kids to answer. And we could prepare them to do so. The tests didn’t accurately assess student learning even then. It was a game, but at least it was more fair.

Let’s be honest. These tests have never been particularly good. You can’t honestly expect to assess higher order thinking skills on a multiple choice test. Basic skills, maybe. But anything complex simply cannot be measured in this manner. We’ve known that for over a century!

It’s like my buddy’s movie quiz. I have little doubt that someone really did shout “Run!” in “The Terminator.” However, that same line probably appears in at least a dozen more action movies. There’s no way to determine a single correct answer. And shouting out a different quote instead like “Look out!” doesn’t help either.

So please stop the talk about “Rigor.” We’re not raising standards. We’re changing them. My buddy found a new bunch of movies from which to shout out impossible quotes. That’s all.

Anyone who wants to argue validity to these new test questions has to leap a host of hurdles to accomplish his goal.

First, one would have to prove PA Core – and by extension Common Core – Standards actually improve student learning. Good luck. It’s never been done and all the evidence is against you.

Second, one would have to gain access to an individual year’s worth of test questions. Again, good luck. They’re corporate property. The public is not allowed to see the questions. If a principal, student or teacher were to copy a question or snap a photo of a test, they could be subject to prosecution in a court of law.

Such a lack of transparency in government is a sure sign of malfeasance.

It’s almost impossible to avoid certain conclusions about this whole process. Standardized testing is designed to fail students – just like my buddy’s movie quiz was designed to stump me.

These tests constitute fake proof of inadequacy. They attempt to “prove” our public schools are failing and should, therefore, be replaced by private corporations – maybe even by subsidiaries of the same for-profit companies that make and grade these tests!

When my buddy unfairly stumped me, we both knew it was a joke. We’d laugh and play another video game.

But there’s nothing funny about this when it’s perpetrated by the state and federal government.

Pennsylvania’s standardized test scores are a farce just like the scores in every state and territory throughout the country. They’re lies told by corporations, permitted and supported by lawmakers, and swallowed whole by the media and far too much of the public.

We always seem on the verge of waking up. Tomorrow we will stop the state-sanctioned abuse of children by the testing industry. Tomorrow we’ll take responsibility for this sick system we allow.

But when will tomorrow come? I’m tired of waiting.


NOTE: This article also was quoted extensively on Diane Ravitch’s blog and published in full on the Badass Teachers Association blog.

Why Were So Many Education Reformers Bad Students?

 


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Bad students often hate school.

Not exactly shocking, I know.

But perhaps more surprising is the pattern of low, sloppy or inconsistent academic achievement by so many of those adults who consider themselves education reformers, particularly corporate school reformers.

Our ideas of school are certainly formed during our years in it. Those working so diligently to destroy the public school system and reshape it to resemble the business model are so often people who didn’t fit in. They earned low grades or only excelled in subjects they really liked. Perhaps school failed them or perhaps they failed school. There’s no way to know for sure since school records are almost always kept private. But details do trickle through and display a clear pattern – a pattern that certainly gives the appearance of an ulterior motive.

Are these former bad students more interested in fixing the perceived problems they see with the system? Or are they consciously or unconsciously seeking revenge against a system that found them to be inadequate?

Take Scott Walker.

The Wisconsin Governor-cum-Presidential candidate has been one of the most virulent enemies of public education and public school teachers in the past decade.

But when he was a lowly student, he wasn’t anywhere near the head of the class. His grade school years are mostly shrouded in mystery, but his college career is ablaze in controversy.

He claims to have been a solid C-student with a 2.59 grade point average. Contemporaries say it was closer to a 2.3.

“I had some classes I was more interested in than others, I suppose,” he admits.

In any case, college wasn’t for him. He attended Marquette University for almost four full years before dropping out. He only had a year or more to go before earning a bachelors degree.

Why did he quit? Numerous contemporaries allege he was expelled for cheating in student government. Walker says he simply accepted a full-time job and had to devote his time there.

The facts are these: Walker unsuccessfully ran for student body president with a tumultuous campaign. He was found guilty of campaigning a week early thereby losing campaign privileges at one facility and a day of campaigning at another.
When the student paper endorsed his opponent, the edition mysteriously vanished from the stands. Students reported seeing Walker staff taking almost all of the papers and replacing them with campaign literature against his opponent.

An investigation was conducted but the university refuses to release it saying the results are either private or have been destroyed.

However, the university denies that Walker was ever in bad standing or that he had been expelled.

The matter could easily be cleared up if Walker released his academic records to the public, but unlike most Presidential candidates of either major political party, he refuses to do so. (All while continuing to criticize President Barrack Obama for not releasing a birth certificate that the President clearly released to the public.)

Not exactly student of the year. Nor would the preacher’s son ever win “Most Ethical” in the student superlative section of his college yearbook.

It’s easy to see why someone who had such difficulty in college would spend so much time as Governor attacking that world.

He reduced state funding to Wisconsin colleges by 13% and then mandated they freeze tuition for 4 years. He recommending replacing University of Wisconsin leadership with a private authority governed by his own appointees. He proposed the university change its fundamental commitment from “a search for truth” to the goal of workforce readiness.

That’ll show ‘em, I guess.

But he didn’t just attack post-secondary education. He went after high, middle and elementary schools, too. He signed a law mandating high stakes reading testing begin in kindergarten. That’s right – kindergarten! Teachers and principals, of course, had to be evaluated based on these scores. Oh and don’t forget the massive school budget cuts.

He also presided over the largest roll back of collective bargaining rights in state history – and who make up the biggest unions? Teachers. Other working people are just more grist for the mill of his petty power trip.

If Walker had studied harder, spent less time on extra-curricular politics and finished his degree – I wonder if he wouldn’t have such animosity towards education. Maybe then he wouldn’t spend his days congratulating himself for hobbling colleges and public schools while trampling on workers rights.

Moving from politics to punditry, few people have devoted their careers to destroying the teaching profession as much as former anchorperson Campbell Brown.

Since being quietly let go from CNN when her news program was cancelled for low ratings, Brown has become an outspoken corporate education reformer. School choice, the destruction of teacher tenure and labor unions – there are few supply side education ideas she doesn’t support. Most notably, she serves on the board of directors for the infamous Success Academy Charter Schools – a system that uses student humiliation to ensure children swallow a curriculum consisting almost entirely of standardized test prep. Moreover, her husband, Dan Senor, is on the board of StudentsFirstNY, a corporate school reform organization affiliated with Michelle Rhee.

How anyone so personally invested in the factory schools model could possibly claim she was impartial enough to serve in a journalistic capacity on this matter is beyond belief. But that’s just what Brown does. This summer she even co-founded The Seventy Four – a news site dedicated to covering education. She claims it’s all “non-partisan” and “non-profit.” Ha! Her husband is a former adviser to the Romney campaign and spokesman for the Bush administration’s Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq! Her “news” site is like Fox News for schools – which given the supply side bias of MOST news organizations is really saying something!

Is it any surprise that when Brown was in school, herself, she wasn’t exactly honor roll material?

She describes herself as a “terrible student” in Catholic school, but immediately justifies her academic performance by saying the teachers were awful, too. Since she had such a horrible parochial school experience, it’s a wonder she reserves her rancor for the public school system where she has little first hand knowledge. A child of privilege, Brown was a private school girl.

At Virginia’s elite Madeira School, she was kicked out for sneaking off campus for a party. She eventually earned a GED, and briefly attended Louisiana State University before waitressing in Colorado and enrolling in a Catholic college in Denver. It was there that a priest who taught political philosophy finally reached her. She eventually earned a B.S. in political science.

It was a long, difficult academic road for Brown. I wonder how she would have done at Success Academy where mostly poor Black and Hispanic students must sit with hands clasped and eyes following the speaker; where reading passages must be neatly annotated with a main idea; where her teachers would be inexperienced drones forced to work 11-hour days and face high turnover.

Something tells me as a student she’d find those teachers just “awful,” too. It’s a hard thing to take responsibility for one’s own actions especially as a child. If only the teacher had taught me better, if only I had gone to the good school, if only someone had done this or that. Poor little rich girl.

Now Brown is a professional at casting blame on our public school system in favor of unproven or disastrous education models. She’s come from the back of the class to the front – where she can criticize and wag her finger.

But to do the most damage to the school system, you need to be more than a politician or a pundit – you need to be an ideologue. And you need so much cash you don’t now what to do with it all.

No one has had a greater negative impact on public education than Bill Gates and his billions in so-called philanthropic contributions. As one of the richest men in the world, he has steered the course of education policy away from research-based policies to a business-minded approach favored by corporate raiders.

Common Core State Standards would not exist without his backing and financial bribery of federal and state governments. The man of ideas who instinctively understands the world of computers extends his hubris to encase all subjects. For clearly, what is true of a network of calculating machines must be true of young minds. Gates knows best, and where he is contradicted by one peer-reviewed study, he can pay for several independent ones to back up his pet ideas.

But whatever you say of Gates, he differs dramatically from Walker and Brown. Gates is clearly brilliant. He was a National Merit Scholar who scored a 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs. One would think his academic record must be impeccable. But one would be wrong.

While he excelled in subjects he cared about, he neglected others that weren’t immediately interesting. According to a college friend:

Gates was a typical freshman in many ways, thrown off pace by the new requirements and a higher level of competition. He skipped classes, spent days on end in the computer lab working on his own projects, played poker all night, and slept in a bed without sheets when he did go
 to bed. Other students recall that he often went without sleep for 18 to 36 hours.

Even at Harvard, Gates continued his pattern of 
getting good grades in the subjects he liked and disdaining those that were of little interest. His heart didn’t seem to be in his studies. Gates joined few college activities unless his friend Steve Ballmer dragged him off to a party.

School was of little interest to him. He dropped out of Harvard before getting a degree to start his computer software company.

Some tell it as a story of an eccentric’s unstoppable rise, but few tarry long enough to remark on the privilege from which Gates emerged. He didn’t have a public school education. He attended an elite preparatory school since he was 13. Once again someone with such little experience of public school is a self-appointed expert in reforming it.

His parents also instilled in him a peculiar marker for success. In his home, the family encouraged competition. One visitor reported, “it didn’t matter whether it was hearts or pickleball or swimming to the dock … there was always a reward for winning and there was always a penalty for losing.” How interesting that this same philosophy has become Gate’s vision for all school children! Schools must compete against each other for resources and the losers get shut down. Yet what irony that his own personal success relies on ignoring his weaknesses and focusing solely on his successes! We excuse the inconsistent grades and dropping out of college. But would Gates-backed education policies do the same for other children?

Gates, the student, easily might have wilted under the education policies of Gates, the edu-preneur. How hard it is to see oneself clearly. How hard to admit one has limitations. Especially when one is brilliant in one narrow field and has too much money and free time.

And so the enemies of America’s public education system gather round. Many of them may have axes to grind. Of course this doesn’t hold in every case. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, for example, is no friend to schools. Yet by all accounts he personally had a relatively trouble free academic experience.

However, the case holds often enough to be instructive. An awful lot of C-students think corporate education reform is needed to fix our schools. Heck! Most of these policies come from No Child Left Behind legislation proposed by the most infamous C-student in American history – President George W. Bush!

These kinds of psychological conflicts of interest should give us pause. Do we really want to support such personal crusades? Should all the power of public policy really back the revenge of indifferent students?

Corporate education reform policies don’t work. They never have worked. They’re destroying our system of public education.

Doesn’t there come a time when you have to get over your personal childhood traumas and pay attention to the facts?


NOTE: This article also was mentioned on Diane Ravitch’s blog and published in the LA Progressive and the Badass Teachers Association blog.

White People Need to Stop Snickering at Black Names

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As a public school teacher, few things give me as much anxiety as getting my student rosters for the first time.

I look over the list of names for my incoming children and cringe.

How do I pronounce that?

Every year it never fails – there’s always at least four or five names I’ve never seen before – or at least never spelled quite like THAT!

As a white teacher in a district with a majority of black students but very few black teachers, there’s not really many people to turn to for guidance.

And if I don’t figure it out soon, I’ll be making a pretty terrible first impression. No one likes to have their name butchered, especially children, especially if an adult is doing it, especially if that adult is white.

The only solution I’ve found is to soldier on with the first day’s attendance and just try my best:

Me: Shah-NEE-Qwa?

Child: Shah-NAY-Qwa.

Me: JAY-Marcus?

Child: JAH-Marcus.

It’s uncomfortable, but I get through it and eventually learn.

However, one thing I’ve stopped doing is going to other white people for help. That’s a recipe for disaster.

It almost always turns into an exercise in subtle racism and white supremacy. No matter who the person is, no matter how kind, caring or empathetic, the reaction to unique black names is most often derision.

White people snicker and use the situation as the impetus for telling stories about other black names that they thought were even more outrageous.

It’s not that we’re trying to be hateful. I don’t think we even recognize it as racist, but it is.

We use the situation as an opportunity for bonding. THOSE people who are not like you and me – THEY name their children things like THIS! Not like you and me who name our children more respectably.

Make no mistake. This is racist behavior. We are emphasizing the otherness of an entire group of people to put ourselves over and above them.

It’s bigoted, discriminatory, prejudicial and just plain dumb.

What’s wrong with black names anyway? What about them is so unacceptable?

We act as if only European and Anglicized names are reasonable. But I don’t have to go far down my rosters to find white kids with names like Braelyn, Declyn, Jaydon, Jaxon, Gunner or Hunter. I’ve never heard white folks yucking it up over those names.

I can’t imagine why white people even expect people of color to have the same sorts of names as we do. When you pick the label by which your child will be known, you often resort to a shared cultural history. My great-great-grandfather was David, so I’ll honor his memory by calling my firstborn son the same. Jennifer is a name that’s been in my family for generations so I’ll reconnect with that history by calling my daughter by the same name.

Few black people in America share this same culture with white people. If a black man’s great-great-grandfather’s name was David, that might not be the name he was born with – it may have been chosen for him – forced upon him – by his slave master. It should be obvious why African Americans may be uncomfortable reconnecting with that history.

Many modern black names are, in fact, an attempt to reconnect with the history that was stolen from them. Names like Ashanti, Imani and Kenya have African origins. Others are religious. Names like Aaliyah, Tanisha and Aisha are traditionally Muslim. Some come from other languages such as Monique, Chantal, and Andre come from French. I can’t understand why any of that is seen as worthy of ridicule.

Still other names don’t attempt to reconnect with a lost past – they try to forge ahead and create a new future. The creativity and invention of black names is seldom recognized by White America. We pretend that creating names anew shows a lack of imagination when in reality, it shows just the opposite!

Creating something new can be as simple as taking an Anglicized name and spelling it in inventive ways. Punctuation marks also can be utilized in unusual positions to add even more distinctiveness such as in the names Mo’nique and D’Andre.

At other times, they follow a cultural pattern to signify as uniquely African American using prefixes such as La/Le, Da/De, Ra/Re, or Ja/Je and suffixes such as -ique/iqua, -isha, and -aun/-awn.

And for the ultimate in creativity, try mixing and matching various influences and techniques. For instance, LaKeisha has elements from both French and African roots. Other names like LaTanisha, DeShawn, JaMarcus, DeAndre, and Shaniqua were created in the same way.

This is something all cultures do. They evolve to meet the needs of people in a given time and place. Yet when it comes to people of color, we, white folks, whoop and guffaw at it. Heck! When we can’t find black names far enough out of our mainstream, we even make them up!

Don’t believe me? Have you heard of La-a? The story goes that a black girl was given that name and a white person asked how it was pronounced. The black woman said her name was La-DASH-ah. This is often followed by a punchline of black vernacular.

Har! Har! Har!

But it’s not even true! According to Snopes, this is a made up story. It’s the American version of a Polish joke and demonstrates how far white people will go to laugh at black culture.

The great comedy duo Key and Peele tried to call attention to this in their outstanding substitute teacher sketches. In a series of short routines, an almost exclusively white classroom gets a black substitute teacher from the inner city schools. Mr. Garvey is expecting black names, so he pronounces the students’ middle class white names as if they were African American.

Almost everyone loves this sketch. It gets universal laughs, but wait until it’s over. Too many white folks try to continue the giggles by then talking about crazy black names they’ve encountered. But that’s not at all the point Key and Peel were trying to make! They were trying to show how cultural context shapes our expectations of proper names. Mr. Garvey is worthy of our laughter because his expectations are out-of-sync with his surroundings. When we expect all African Americans to have European or Anglicized names, we’re just as out of touch as Mr. Garvey. But like Dave Chapelle’s comedy, sometimes the person laughing the loudest is getting something the comedian didn’t intend at all.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if black names just generated snickers. However, white culture actually selects against people with black sounding names.

Countless studies have shown how much more difficult it is for someone with a black sounding name to get a job, a loan or an apartment than it is for someone with a white sounding name. It’s one of the most obvious features of white supremacy. You may not like black names, personally, but do these people deserve to suffer for embracing their own culture?

Moreover, having a European or Anglicized name is no guarantee of fair treatment. It certainly didn’t help Michael Brown or Freddie Gray.

If we’re really going to treat people equitably, an easy place to begin is with black names. White people, stop the laughter and giggles. I used to do it, myself, until I thought about it. Yes, I’m guilty of the same thing. But I stopped. You can, too.

It’s not the biggest thing in the world. It’s not even the most pressing thing. It’s not a matter of guilt. It’s a matter of fairness.

Because when the final role is taken of all America’s racists and bigots, do you really want your name to be on it?


NOTE: This article also was published on Everyday Feminism and the Badass Teachers Association blog.