Our son Kevin performed tonight with the rest of the Cabrillo Chorale, in their winter concert.
In the pieces with the entire Chorale (1-5, 10-13), he’s second from right, top row. In the pieces with only the men (7-9), he’s front right.
The last tune, “Cantique de Jean Racine” by French composer Gabriel Fauré, was performed as a tribute to the people of France and the victims of terrorism everywhere, in remembrance of the terrorist attacks in Paris just 1 week ago.
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.
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.
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.
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…
At 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.
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.
It’s simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralized model that much of the Western world uses.
And here are the 26 things he lists:
Finnish children don’t start school until they are 7.
Compared with other systems, they rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens.
The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.
There is only one mandatory standardized test in Finland, taken when children are 16.
All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms.
Finland spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States.
30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.
66 percent of students go to college. (The highest rate in Europe)
The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the World. [Ted note: I assume they mean academically, not physically.]
Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments every class.
93 percent of Finns graduate from high school. (17.5% higher than in U.S.)
43 percent of Finnish high-school students go to vocational schools.
Elementary school students get 75 minutes of recess a day in Finnish versus an average of 27 minutes in the US.
Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for “professional development.”
Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students. (600,000 students compared to 1.1 million in NYC.)
The school system is 100% state funded.
All teachers in Finland must have a masters degree, which is fully subsidized.
The national curriculum is only broad guidelines.
Teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates.
In 2010, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots.
The average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 in 2008. (Compared with $36,000 in the United States.)
However, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what other college graduates make. (In the US, this figure is 62%.)
There is no merit pay for teachers.
Teachers are effectively given the same status as doctors and lawyers.
In an international standardized measurement in 2001, Finnish children came top or very close to the top for science, reading and mathematics. (It’s consistently come top or very near every time since.)
And despite the differences between Finland and the US, it easily beats countries with a similar demographic. (Neighbor Norway, of a similar size and featuring a similar homogeneous culture, follows the same same strategies as the USA and achieves similar rankings in international studies.)
There is so much I could say about this… and I’ll try to write more about it soon. In the meanwhile, here are links to various news articles, analyses, responses and perspectives on the ruling and its larger meanings/implications… to which I will continue to add…