FairTest.org honored Karen Lewis and Lein Botstein last night in NYC. Debbie Meier, my new BFF, reigned as many honored her for her lifetime of applying democratic principles to public education. A few “our crowd” in my pics:
Debbie, Randy Weingarten, Diane Ravitch, John Merrow (The News Hour).
When they discovered that fewer than 5% of all teachers in NYS public schools were found to be “ineffective” the gov was disappointed. Turns out their untested, poorly designed evaluation system that links student test scores to teacher effectiveness, wasn’t blaming teachers effectively enough. So yesterday, the governor announced plans to up the ratio of student test scores to teacher effectiveness. Now, instead of it being 40% of a teacher’s score, it’s up to 50%.
Hopefully, more “ineffective” teachers will show up in the ratings. Then we can get rid of them. After all, we all know that teachers are singularly responsibile for poverty, learning disabilities and poor language skills.
Maybe next year they will raise the percentage to 99%. That should give us a nice, fat glut of lousy pedagogues.
I just read this young lady, Katherine Silva Lopez’s story. It’s remarkable and to me, and to all the teachers who have had the privilege to welcome these kids into our classes, unremarkable. My ancestors did the heavy lifting for me and our family, as my cousin, psychotherapist Lynne Spevack noted. They fled pograms in Vilnius and the Ukraine. They traveled in danger and settled in squalor when they arrived here. I don’t know about you…but I NEED Katharine Silva Lopez to become successful in America. She is the one doing the heavy lifting for her descendants. I’ve lived a privileged life because of the courage and ambition of my ancestors. Let’s give her the same chance. After all, her daughter might be the next Sonia Sotomayor…right?
“We literally know everything about what you know and how you learn best, everything,” These are the proud words of Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton, which is one of the top collectors of educational data about our children – an $8 billion industry.
His words are so comforting: “We have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has,” he says in the video. “We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’s not even close.”
“Wednesday!” I greet the security guard cheerfully as I walk in.
“You got it,” she replies.
“Goin’ slow, right?”
“Oh my Gawd.” She shakes her head.
“It’s because of Memorial Day, right? It goes so slow waiting for Friday.”
“You can say that again. I’m goin’ crazy. I cannot wait.” These guards work hard for the money. Their shifts can be extremely long, from 6:30 am to 10 pm, depending on the needs of the building. It’s easy to walk into a school and see a couple of uniformed school safety officers laughing and “sitting around.” However, they are the eyes and ears of the school. Everyone depends on them. Everything bumps up to their desks: flaring tempers, flying fists, crabby administrators, sobbing children, threats, litter, personal secrets from isolated adolescents. They don’t get rewarded with long summer vacations like teachers. They have to keep up with their training sessions. They are serious guardians of the peace. They need to maintain their sense of humor. They have their own families with children, often students in the public schools. They are role models, adult confidants for kids who wake up in shelters or single-parent homes where parenting takes second and third place to survival issues. They keep the school safe. They help keep the kids straight. They are surrogate parents, psychologists, friends and nurturers. They are tough, strong and big hearted. When you visit a school, make friends with them. They might be the ones you call on in your moment of need. They got your back.
If you have absolutely nothing better to do with your day, you may listen to our first interview with Ian Williams, host of “The Catskill Review of Books.”
1) Ian is VERY well informed about the current state of educational policy making.
2) Best if I talk about the kids I met during my wacky year teaching in 25 Manhattan public high schools. There are some brilliant spokespersons on the BIG issues: Diane Ravitch, Mark Naison, Ian Williams…
3) Good start. Note to self: Talk about the kids. Keep it funny.
Pre-orders for “Yo Miz!” the book are postponed for a minute. I’ll get back to you on this.
Funny, entertaining, heartwarming, provocative first reading from “Yo Miz!” by me: October 10, 6 pm, Jeffersonville Public Library, Jeffersonville, NY.