Author Archives: ted

Paz en Watsonville, Peace in Watsonville

2014 was a tough year with far too many gang-related homicides. Here I am with PVFT President and PVUSD educator Francisco Rodriguez, at the Vigil for Peace and Unity, Callaghan Park, 28 December, 2014. Many more pics on Facebook:

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Sadly, just a couple hours before the vigil, Watsonville’s 10th homicide of the year occurred not far from Callaghan Park. Police now attribute the murder to “road rage” but it is unclear whether it was also gang-related.

Best & Worst in 2014 Education News

Washington Post  Journalist, author and blogger Valerie Strauss wrote a great article about the Best and Worst education news from 2014. Read her article at www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/12/25/best-and-worst-education-news-of-2014-a-teachers-list/. Here’s a summary of her list (copy-pasted, though most have more info than I’ve copied here):

Best Education News of 2014:

  • State after state implementing unfair and arbitrary teacher evaluation methods this year nonetheless found an infinitesimal number of teachers to be “ineffective” — including Florida, Rhode Island, Maryland and New York.
  • High school graduate rates are at their all-time high, drop-out rates have decreased and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test results increased, with the biggest improvement among students of color.
  • Colorado students organized a successful large-scale protest campaign that stopped their district from making changes in their Advanced Placement History course curriculum.
  • Ras Baraka was elected mayor of Newark, New Jersey, with opposition to the state’s “One Newark” reform plan for that city’s schools.
  • Two destructive “school reformers” left the public scene:
  • Lily Eskelsen García was elected president of the National Education Association and will provide a powerful voice, along with her counterpart at the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, to support teachers, students and their families with a progressive and positive education agenda.
  • It was a very rough election night, though there were two clear education bright spots that had a lot to do with the support the candidates received from teachers — Tom Wolf was elected governor of Pennsylvania and Tom Torlakson was re-elected California State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • The good news is that Karen Lewis of the Chicago Teachers Union is recovering from surgery on a brain tumor.
  • Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The central role of standardized testing in schools came under increasing attack from many different directions and has even forced some major proponents to at least make rhetorical retreats.
  • Dana Goldstein’s book, The Teacher Wars, was published and became a bestseller.
  • The millions of students who had great learning experiences in their schools this year.

Worst Education News of 2014:

  • Two particularly awful tragedies struck educators and their students in other countries this year — the apparent murder of 43 student teachers in Mexico by police and drug traffickers and the massacre of 148 students and teachers at a Pakistan school by the Taliban.
  • Of course, the United States was not immune from the killings of young people. (Ferguson, MO, Cleveland, OH)
  • In another attempt to blame teachers for challenges facing schools, California judge ruled in the Vergara lawsuit that tenure and due process is to blame and not poverty, lack of resources for schools in under-served communities, or minimal professional support.
  • The Obama administration appeared to learn little from its countless missteps it has made in the name of “accountability” for K-12 public schools and announced plans to start treating colleges and universities the same way.
  • The Atlanta test cheating scandal has resulted in an endless trial that is still continuing, with terrible revelations.
  • TIME Magazine published a cover insulting to teachers everywhere and sparking a justifiable backlash from educators.
  • Social Emotional Learning threatens to become just another in a long line of good ideas manipulated and used by school reformers in harmful ways.
  • A video from a Chicago professional development session showed why teachers are going out of their minds.
  • A new study found that less than one-half of one-percent of research studies related to education were replicated.
  • The millions of students who should be getting a better education than they are receiving.

The Most Important “In-Between” Education News Of 2014

The Common Core Standards continue to be under attack, with a few states withdrawing their support.

Jazz @ 3:00

Kevin has been loving his music studies this semester at Cabrillo, including vocal jazz. Here are 4 of the 5 songs they performed at Friday’s concert:

Web Design Using WordPress

I am so very busy in my new job (Academic Coordinator, comparable to Ass’t. Principal) at E. A. Hall MS, I really should not add more to my plate… but I am a fool and I can’t resist, so I am teaching a 1 day/week class in the after school program, on Web Design Using WordPress.

I’ll post updates on the class at my own web design website, www.agoramediaservices.com, but figured I’d post this “life update” here as well.

February 2015 Update: Well, I had the best intentions, but the class just didn’t fly… A few kids were interested, but it was a lot harder for them than I expected, and they lost interest, so it was like pulling teeth trying to get them to actually do the work and build out their sites… There are now a couple dozen abandoned sites at wordpress.com… Oh well…

Zoe is off to Berlin and points beyond!

With an emotional mix of excitement for her grand adventure, and trepidation about our “little girl” heading off to Europe alone and with very little planned out… We bid farewell to Zoe, as she was about to leave for the Oakland airport and then flying to Berlin, GERMANY! She has a 1-way ticket and a few thousand $$$ int he bank, and hopes to travel and live on the cheap, and hopes her money will last through fall-winter-spring, maybe all the way to June and beyond…

You can follow her travel blog at www.wolfmigration.wordpress.com.

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Updates on Vergara

Media coverage of the aftermath of the Vergara ruling continues, and other sordid actors have joined the misguided battle against teachers.

Now California State Superintendent of Public Instruction is himself going to seek an appeal of the ruling. Here’s Diane Ravitch’s article about this.

Judge Rolf M. Treu has now affirmed the ruling, as described at Politico.

And now Governor Jerry Brown is himself appealing the ruling!  (LA Times coverage)

5 October, 2014: “What’s wrong with the Vergara ruling?” by Carl Cohn, former school superintendent in Long Beach and San Diego, director of the Urban Leadership Program at Claremont Graduate University and a member of the State Board of Education. He is also chair of the American College Testing (ACT) Board of Directors, and a member of the EdSource Board of Directors. (edsource.org/2014/whats-wrong-with-the-vergara-ruling/)

More on Teacher “Tenure”

A few weeks ago I posted a summary of news and information about the Vergara case, here in California. This post will continue that process, with more recent articles about teacher tenure in general as well as the Vergara case.

Boycott Staples!

AFT 2014 National Convention logoAt the 2014 AFT National Convention, to which I was a delegate from PVFT, we learned about the UPWA’s call for a boycott of Staples, because of the arrangement between the USPS and Staples, Corp., that will outsource postal services to Staples stores. By doing so, the USPS is replacing unionized public sector postal workers with non-union, private sector workers, being paid minimum or near-minimum wages. The APWU has called for a boycott of Staples, and the AFT stands in full support and solidarity of this boycott. We rallied in front of the Staples Center with APWU members during the convention. AFT’s joining of the call for a boycott definitely got Staples Corp’s attention, as nearly ⅓ of their total revenue comes from school supplies sales! And the big back-to-school rush is about to commence. Check out  www.apwu.org/issues/stop-staples for more information, and www.apwu.org/issues/stop-staples/staples-materials for downloadable materials, including a flier in Spanish and English.AFT rallies in support of APWU call for a Boycott of Staples

Check out www.apwu.org/news/web-news-article/aft-delegates-adopt-dont-buy-staples-resolution-rally-support-us-postal for APWU’s write-up of AFT’s support. Visit www.aft.org/about/resolution_detail.cfm?articleid=19592 for the Resolution in support of U.S. Postal Workers. And APWU posted about the strong impact AFT’s support had on Staples Corp.: www.apwu.org/news/news-bulletin/aft-strikes-fear-heart-staples-ceo.

AFT rallies in support of APWU call for a Boycott of Staples    AFT-APWU-staples4
d-flyer-Public-Espanol     d-flyer-Public

The Hardest Part of Teaching

From Peter Greene at Huff Post (7/6/2014):

They never tell you in teacher school, and it’s rarely discussed elsewhere. It is never, ever portrayed in movies and tv shows about teaching. Teachers rarely bring it up around non-teachers for fear it will make us look weak or inadequate.

Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post once [12/27/2013] put together a series of quotes to answer the question “How hard is teaching?” and asked for more in the comments section. My rant didn’t entirely fit there, so I’m putting it here, because it is on the list of Top Ten Things They Never Tell You in Teacher School.

The hard part of teaching is coming to grips with this:

There is never enough.

There is never enough time. There are never enough resources. There is never enough you.

It’s worth reading the rest of his rant.