Monday, October 20, 2014

Follow the Money! Right out of Taxpayer's Wallets!

Oklahoma's winter testing will cost taxpayers $3.4 million this year. Well, that doesn't sound like a whole lot, but considering many school districts are cutting services such as cleaning classrooms daily. They are cutting programs such as art, physical education, educational field trips and yes, classroom teachers. So, IT IS A BIG DEAL! What should this really be signalling to all of you? Well, to me it signals that testing is a big money making scheme all on the backs of our kids to perform and it is a financial burden on you and me. Also, that no matter how well our kids are doing or not doing, the testing will only increase until YOU do something to demand that it stop!

Now, let's do a little applied math lesson shall we? Multiply 3.4 million out by all 50 states! Then multiply that times all the tests that are mandated annually. Then multiply that times the amount of Administrator and teacher's salaries used in order to implement the multiple tests that our kids take annually. Then add in the cost of local, state and federal agencies in place to fund said tests. Then add in the number of supplemental programs (all non-profit of course) that are put into action to make up for the assumed inadequacies of the tests that were put in place to measure the effectiveness of instruction, or the lack thereof. (You see if we are spending up to 5 weeks or more a year in testing, THERE IS NO INSTRUCTION taking place! Testing is not instruction. It is not teaching!)

Maybe it is time for taxpayers to spend more time questioning where the money goes and why it is that suddenly the generation of children that entered our schools beginning in 2000 need to be tested to the nth degree. Maybe it is time for them to start defending their school district, children and their teachers and pointed the finger of blame where it belongs at the governmental agencies that are in collusion with the publishing companies!

Oh but wait! We have an entire nation filled with parents who bow down to the First Lady when she, not the President or Congress, when she says our school lunches are not adequate! Well sorry to tell you but, I did not elect the First Lady and you are not a paid representation of this nation! Am I the only one thinking outside the box around here?

http://newsok.com/oklahoma-board-of-education-approves-contract-with-current-vendor-for-winter-testing-window/article/5357679

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sleep Deprivation and a Link to Low Test Scores

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/artseesdiner/2014/09/06/talk-with-me-sleep-deprivation-and-the-impact-on-american-learners A huge issue facing American Schools. Sleep deprivation. There is a simple fix, so why won't we do it? Our First Lady has made it her priority to end obesity in children by controlling what they eat, but, one of the leading causes in obesity is being ignore AND it also causes learning impairment, and an increase in adolescent disease! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Broader Bolder Approach to Education Elaine Weiss joins Mary E. LaLuna_Education and Poverty

Check Out Current Events Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with ArtSees Diner Radio on BlogTalkRadio

A Must Read on Education Reform, "Rhetoric Trumps Reality"

Market-oriented education reforms’ rhetoric trumps reality

"Reforms fail when they ignore the poverty related causes of achievement gaps."

:High turnover rates harm students." As is evidenced under Michelle Rhee's leadership in DCPS. Tom Carroll, The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future indicates that like in any profession, experience matters. "As Tom Carroll, president of the commission, notes, this figure ignores “what may in fact be the largest costs of teacher turnover: lost teaching quality and effectiveness”

Commentary by, MELaLuna, the greatest problem that I have with Michelle Rhee, the reformers, congressional leaders, publishing companies all the way to Marzano, Hunter, and the other "leaders in education" is that if you look deep into their portfolios, financial supporters and CV/resumes, you will discover that they spent little time in the classroom and/or have not been in the classroom for so long that they have lost touch with what a classroom today looks like. Then follow the $$$.Many of them have never felt or seen poverty first hand. I equate it to someone I knew who was on her 3rd marriage in 15 years. She had known her new husband for less than a year before they married. They had only been married for less than 2 years. They had both been married 2 times before and all 4 marriages between them had failed. As I was sitting eating dinner with them one night they shared that they were going to write a book on marriage, what works. I had to keep myself from choking on my food as I wanted to laugh hysterically. I had been married for 17 years at that time, and had known the man I married 3 years before we married. I knew then that there was no way these 2 could possibly write the perfect "how to" book. They never wrote the book, and 8 years later their marriage ended tragically as she discovered he had been cheating with her contemporary for over a year. The moral of the story is...people who have little working knowledge of the profession have no business imposing their concept of reform on a system that has been evolving for over 200 years in the United States and for centuries before that. If you want to know what teaches human beings, spend some time with Moms and Dads who are their children's first teachers. Go back in history and explore how the greats before us and without formal education evolved to become president, scientists, discoverers and leaders. Then look at our classrooms and ask if we are possibly doing anything to develop the next generation.

In short, do a reality check, the reform is not all you think it is. The scandal that Michelle Rhee was involved with is not unusual and has happened in numerous school districts under fire, seeking to prove that their way works. I witnessed it happening at a school I worked and I had to report it. It is a huge part of the problem and maybe one of the reasons why so many schools seek inexperienced, alternatively trained teachers. Those of us who when through traditional programs were developed over time to keep to a certain standard and we have years to figure out what school looks like.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Today's Education Reflection and Noam Chomsky

I have been reading, listening and watching Noam Chomsky's view on education. I am not surprised at all to discover that his formative years in education was deeply entrenched in literature, a Dewey school, and did not know what a grade was until High School. He commented that when he went into High School he did not know that he was considered smart, and found it absurd that people were ranked academically. The more I personally look at it, the more I think it is absurd as well. Making meaning in your lives has little to do with a grade on a report card, or even a degree for that matter. After striving to attain 4.0's and 2 masters degrees all I have is the reality that I can and did. It has not gotten me economic advancement, but, rather is some regards has worked against me. I saw a billboard of an older gentleman holding a book. The sign said, Herbert was not able to read this sign until he was 70...literacy matters. To that I wanted to laugh. Why? Because the man made it into his 70's without being able to read and he is retired and happy! He was able to hold down a job, raise his family, work in this nation. He needed to be able to crunch numbers. Wake up America! The way we are schooling our kids does not develop freedom of thought, knowledge and potential wealth. It actually works against the original belief in America. Ask yourself do you want a child who can think freely, question the world around them, seek answers and be the change? Or do you want a child who is a grunt incapable of developing an individual thought and only spewing back information that comes to them on a test? Your answer to this question will in fact determine your value and opinion about standardized testing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

NCLB: No Change, Learning Backpeddles...

Tonight I was reading Michael Deshotels, Louisiana Educator article discussing the one thing wrong with President Obama's education lack of reform, and I was hearkened back to a set of articles that I wrote immediately after Obama took office. The series of 5 blogs outline what was in my opinion the only way to really move us away from a failed NCLB and into a new era of reform. What has happened is that NCLB has been strengthened, fewer educators are involved in making an impact and it seems that the greatest of change has come in the way of what our kids would be allowed to eat! Sadly, this major reform did not even come by way of Arne Duncan, but rather the woman behind the man! In truth, we are further behind and we are yet again facing failure and it is not on our kids report cards, but, rather Washington DC, is more appropriately Washington D-F!
If you have nothing better to do, and you are curious about what this educator had to say in January of 2009, then go for it!
I apologize if there are any major errors in spelling or in grammar as I am unable to access my own blog through wordpress. Due to some bizarre change over at some point my account was compromised and now it sits with my branded/copyrighted name, ArtSees Diner attached to it. This preceded the development of PBL3. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Governor Mike Pence Is At IT Again! Or, playground bullying isn't isolated to grade school?

Abuse of Power is an Epidemic So It Seems;Too Many Selfie's Maybe? 

It seems that White House isn't the only place where there seems to be a misuse power in order to steamroll an agenda. Indiana Governor Mike Pence is at it too. Our state openly and honestly elected Superintendent Glenda Ritz, yet it seems that Mike Pence is doing everything in his power to remove her power as head of education in Indiana.

I personally believed in Ritz as she embodies everything that is right in education and stands against everything that has gone wrong. She represents the possibility that a person can be chosen for a position regardless of political connections, or correctness. Public education, like most government run agencies has become a cesspool of nepotism, political ties, and what is most pervasive cronyism! Glenda's appointment was refreshing because it sent a message to people everywhere. That message simply stated is; do a good job, be a good person, and you can move to the head of the class. Her appointment embodies what public education is!

Well, it seems that whether you are dealing with State level education or a local school yard, bullies do in fact troll the halls and playgrounds just waiting to find someone to bully and minimize. I truly believe that Glenda Ritz is being grossly disrespected by Governor Mike Pence. Is it because she never held a local superintendent position or is because she is a woman, she supports public education and republican Governor Mike Pence is misogynistic? My suspicion is that it is both. Please read a letter sent to me by the Indiana State Teacher's Association. It is time for union members across the nation to stand together and demand the badgering against public educators stop!


ISTA has learned that the State Board of Education intends to further diminish Superintendent Ritz’s role as Chair of the board and transfer some responsibilities to the board’s staff at the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI). The actions will take place at the board
meeting on Wednesday .

The board will propose dramatic new board procedures through approving a resolution that will form a one-time, ad hoc committee that will approve the new measures intended to cut into the Superintendent’s traditional role as Chair.

It’s no secret that the Governor and the CECI have wanted to remove Superintendent Ritz as Chair of the State Board of Education. In December, it was disclosed in a leaked CECI memo that Ritz being the Chair was perceived as a “problem” that should be addressed by the legislature. The goal then was to have the Chair appointed by the Governor.

This latest move coincides with efforts to seemingly make the Department of Education a minor administrative bureaucracy folded within one agency under the Governor’s office. 

Efforts first began when the Governor, with the stroke of a pen and without legislative approval, created and diverted funding for his duplicate education agency, the CECI.

We learned just weeks ago that the Governor’s Indiana Career Council has adopted a new strategic plan that includes consolidating more than 30 state agencies and programs, including the Department of Education, totaling more than $650 million, under one lead agency directed by the Governor.

This new resolution brought forth by the governor-appointed state board of education members is the latest in this fixation over gaining singular power at the expense of the authority of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Please contact the members of the State Board of Education and urge them to work WITH Superintendent Ritz instead of continuing on this path of disrespect for her, the office she holds and the 1.3 million voters who elected her.

Tony Walker - tony@walkerlawgroup.biz

Dr. Brad Oliver - brad4education@gmail.com

Dr. David Freitas - drdavidfreitas@comcast.net

Daniel Elsener - delsener@marian.edu

Cari Whicker - cwhicker@hccsc.k12.in.us

B.J. Watts - bj.watts@evsc.k12.in.us

Sarah O’Brien - sobrien4cd@yahoo.com

Troy Albert - talbert@wclark.k12.in.us

Andrea Neal - aneal@inpolicy.org

Gordon Hendry - education@gordonhendry.com

Monday, June 30, 2014

More Misplaced Investments and Why the Government Needs To Ask the Professionals!

Two government agencies are working to lower the cost of wi-fi so that lower income schools can have internet access for their students. While this sounds noble, they are missing out on some key features and misplacing investment $$.

For one thing, there is absolutely no reason that any public school should have to pay for wi-fi if they have more than a 75% free and reduced lunch situation. Title I money needs to be allotted for that. Simply put, there are enough billionaires in this country who made their billions off of telecommunication and pay no taxes to warrant that form of investment. Furthermore, while Michelle Obama and her husband are focused on costing school districts far more than ever before in food service in order to curb fat, sodium and sugar, they are overlooking the sad reality that far too many of our children, especially our free and reduced children go without any 21st century skill training once they leave school. Cell phones does not warrant 21st century skill development!

Secondly, as we increase up blended learning, (for those who do not know what that is, it is combining online education with traditional teacher to student instruction) we are leaving more and more children behind as they do not have internet at home. They do not have access to a Chromebook or a PC. Every home that has a school-aged child should have at their disposal a PC or at the very least a Chromebook. Smart phones does not constitute a true 21st skill development modem. You would be amazed at the limitations educators have in assigning skill development exercises, report writing, in short homework that involves the digital age. Why? Because far too many children do not have internet at their disposal. Far too many children do not have working computers at their disposal. While we can provide after school access to computers that merely imposes more financial impact on the school district as well as limits a healthy home/school link.

I believe it is necessary to prioritize our investment dollars. Wi-Fi, should be available for all public schools free of charge, or at least free of charge for our Free and Reduced population. There is absolutely no economic reason that it is not. Then, the money that is being put out for wi-fi, needs to be placed into the homes of our children who need to have extended learning time. Textbooks which are quickly becoming antiquated need to be replaced with digital formats and the billions of dollars spent every year on traditional textbooks need to go to the cupboard once and for all! The textbook rental money should go into purchasing affordable Chromebooks. At an approximate cost of $250 each, it is a long term investment that cannot be overlooked.

I call upon President Obama to do with "Learning Devices" ie, PC's, Chromebooks, what he did with "Obama" phones. Does anyone realize the 21st century skills that can be taught with providing Chromebooks for example? Does anyone realize that with wi-fi and a Chromebook a person does not need a phone as they are able to call from their Chromebooks? Or what a person can do with Skype and a PC? Now that is teaching real 21st skills to our students.

Sadly, I continue to see more and more students falling behind in skills that the adult workforce assumes they have because they are so "tech" savy with Facebook, social networking, all because of smart phones. The truth is, smart phones have dummified our kids. Far too many do not know how to properly utilize email, they cannot attach documents. They have succumb to saving passwords on desk tops or googling rather than typing in url's. They do not understand code, or how computers work. The list goes on and on regarding the necessary skills to go on to post-secondary education. Our kids need access to in-home technology in order to further development true 21st century skills and to do today's homework.

Read the article here.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

“Reflections on Teacher Appreciation Week 2014; a Letter to Congress”




As we enter Teacher Appreciation Week throughout this nation, I cannot help but reach out to you and implore you to intervene on behalf of Teachers, communities, and most importantly our children.

I currently work with Michigan City Area Schools. I moved here in 2008 and purchased a home with my partner, Steve Champagne. We have evolved to the point that we consider Michigan City our hometown. That concept speaks volumes in this day and age. It also speaks volumes as Michigan City and many parts of Northwest Indiana have developed a reputation as not one of the best places to live. While many seek out Valparaiso, Chesterton, etc., we chose to live here. I chose to work here. We have invested into our community. Today I celebrate as I was not RIF'd or "non-renewed." I feel for my fellow educators who did not make it past the chopping block. However I languish in rumors that my investment will take a nose dive over the next year due to economic woes of the district, not brought on by me or my fellow employees. WE did our jobs. WE worked tirelessly to raise our student's scores, morale, as well as raising the morale of our community. Our Administrators will be forced to impose, not a well earned salary increase for dedication, but, are being forced to ask us to absorb the loss of funds. I, along with my co-workers will be forced to take the economic hit.

While many are saying it is only a 2% or so cut, it is actually a 4% as we are not getting a cost of living increase, plus we will take a cut. We will have higher premiums on our insurance because of changes due to *ObamaCare* and other government mandates. (In order to maintain the same level of health care coverage, I will be paying an additional $50.00 per month)WE have already committed to investments with our 401 programs for the coming year with less income. What does this really mean?
  • Lower retirement investment, so there is a long term loss.
  • Lower credit ratings, because our earning power has been diminished.
  • Lower investment in the local community.
  • My spending at restaurants, shops, donations to local endeavors, etc., will all be diminished as my income is being diminished.
The local community will be impacted by the unfortunate economic imposition.

Will our scores continue to rise if morale is low? Will our scores continue to rise if some of the best and brightest see this as an time to leave the community? When will that loss ever be regained? How many years will it take until those of us who have little time left before retirement reclaim our loss? Will we ever without leaving the community?

These are realities that I am sure you are very much aware of. As a dedicated veteran educator I am asking you to help change the direction of education in this country. The current direction has a rapidly spiraling downward effect for your constituency. With 1/3 of all new teachers leaving the profession within the first 3 years, how does this nation and local communities reward those of us who have stayed in and demanded the best for our kids?
What costs are the State and Federal entities imposing upon our learning communities which time and time again, yet, do little to prepare our kids for careers and a sound future? Can we depend upon you to help secure our future along with the future of our schools? Without a sound, logical/pragmatic approach towards fixing the problem, there is little future for our kids.(By the way, standardized testing does not teach children, and it actually costs the United States' taxpayers, over a half a billion dollar annually and that is a minimum! There is only one entity that is reaping the harvest off of our kids test scores: THE PUBLISHERS!)

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Letter to Congress On The First Day of Teacher Appreciation Day, 2014!

As we enter Teacher Appreciation Week throughout this nation, I cannot help but reach out to you and implore you to intervene on behalf of Teachers, communities, and most importantly our children. Show us appreciation!

I languish in the rumors that we will take a financial hit due to economic woes of the district, the community, eh state and more. not brought on by me or my fellow employees as,WE did our jobs. WE worked tirelessly to raise our student's scores, moral, as well as raising the moral of our community. Our Administrators will be forced to impose, not a well earned salary increase for dedication, but, they are being forced to ask us to absorb the loss of funds. They are put in a bad position as well.

While many are saying it is only a 2% or so cut, it is actually a 4% as we are not getting a cost of living increase, plus we will take a cut. We will have higher premiums on our insurance because of changes due to Obama Care, and other government mandates. What does this really mean? My district is no different than many other districts or industries. What does it all mean?

*Lower retirement investment, so there is a long term loss.

*Lower credit ratings, because our earning power has been diminished.

8Lower investment in the local community.

My spending at restaurants, shops, donations to local endeavors, etc., will all be diminished as my income is being diminished.

The local community will be impacted by the unfortunate economic imposition. My Administrators who believe in public education, who believe in this community are being forced to do what so many families are doing. "Robbing Peter to pay Paul." "Old Mother Hubbard's cupboards are bare!" "Where has all the money gone?" All cliches aside, we need transformation! It is broke system and I cannot help but believe that governmental interference is to blame! Throwing a test at something that is broken is like throwing an anchor to a drowning man. (look to publishing companies, pie in the sky programs, and standardized testing along with Federally mandated programs that are in actuality unconstitutional!) TESTS DO NOT TEACH! It is time and money lost on nothing more than a game of witch hunt! After decades of testing, your way doesn't work!

Will the only thing that matters to congress, our test scores continue to rise if moral is low? Will our scores continue to rise if some of the best and brightest see this as an time to leave the learning community? When will that loss ever be regained? How many years will it take until those of us who have little time left before retirement reclaim our loss? Will we ever without leaving the community?

These are realities that I am sure you are very much aware of. As a dedicated veteran educator I am asking you to help change the direction of education in this country. The current direction has a rapidly spiraling downward effect for your constituency. With 1/3 of all new teachers leaving the profession within the first 3 years, how does this nation and local communities reward those of us who have stayed in and demanded the best for our kids?

What costs is the State and Federal entities imposing upon our learning communities which time and time again, does nothing to prepare our kids for careers and a sound future? (I welcome the opportunity to speak with you about these wasted programs, etc.)What cuts can be made now by the Governmental bodies that will ensure more teachers, good teachers? I challenge you imagine this simple truth! One good teacher can have more impact, than any textbook, reader, computer program, pie in the sky program, and a standardized test will ever have. I stand on this reality. Our nation has been built upon the shoulders of teachers who had only one thing in their satchel...passion for knowledge and a desire to share that passion! The current means of financing schools is as antiquated.

I trust that we can depend upon you to help secure our future along with the future of our schools. Without that, there is little hope. Show how much you appreciate teachers, LET US TEACH!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! You MAKE a HUGE Difference!