Diane Speaks

I just wanted to put forth some of what Diane Ravitch talked about in her recent appearance here in Seattle at the elementary/middle school principals convention. 

  •  She opened by pointing to the Chehalis Caribbean band who had been entertaining the crowd beautifully as people filtered into the room.  To big applause she asked, "Where does that show up on a test?"
  • She pointed out that no nation whose K-12 students are performing well are using any of the tactics/techniques being pushed here in the U.S.  Not charters, not frequent student/teacher testing, not merit pay and not vouchers.  
  • She said that 40-50% of teachers leave within five years and there should be a way to make teaching more stable and attractive.  That said, she stated she could understand why, in the last five years, more teachers have left.  No one wants to be overworked, underpaid AND now, demonized by people who should know better. 
  • She got a big laugh when she said that carrots and sticks were for donkeys, not people. 
  • She received a big hand when she pointed out that a lot of ed reform takes away local control.  That's a good point and I wonder how ed reformers explain that one.  
  • Another big hand came when she explained that when you put concentrated poverty in the same school with racial isolation, the outcome is lower test scores.  
  • Diane visited Finland and said there is virtually no attrition in teaching and very few children living in poverty.  She said the U.S. leads the world in child poverty which is now at 20% in our country.  This, she said, is the REAL crisis.  
  • Another round of applause when she said that state legislators, who know very little about education, should stop telling teachers and principals how to do their jobs.  
  • She explained her theory of why merit pay does not work.  She said teachers want to collaborate, not compete against each other.
  • She mentioned that Louisiana is moving toward a voucher program for about half the children in the state.  She pointed out that Milwaukee, WI has had a voucher program for the last 21 years but their test scores have not radically improved.  
  • She got nervous laughter when she pointed out the dangers for teachers if kids figure out/find out that their teacher is being assessed on their test scores.
  • In NYC, where they recently made public every single public school teacher's test scores, the teacher dubbed "the worst" had her photo on the front page of the New York Post, was harassed at her home and so was her elderly father at his home.  This teacher has taught recent-to-the-country ELL students for the last 10 years.  
  • Diane called RTTT "NCLB 2.0".
  • She called the cheating scandal in Atlanta "organizational midconduct."
  • The biggest applause of her speech?  That the feds should fully-fund their 40% of Special Education costs.  Clearly an issue everywhere in our country.


David said…
Great points, and thanks for summarizing the talk.

By the way, if others are wondering who Diane Ravitch is (I didn't know), here is her background:

Anonymous said…
I concur, great points.

Former teacher
mitt said…
Did Jay Inslee attend? How about Michael DeBell? Doubtful. They've already made up their minds, it appears, that teachers are the problem.
Watching said…
Any comment regarding school board members wanting to give up their power? This is another area to keep watching.
mirmac1 said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dan dempsey said…
This is NOT just about DeBell and Inslee. Remember most all of this nonsense is a part of 6696 and the Common Core State Standards, which the legislature overwhelmingly approved. Gov. Gregoire was 100% pushing these actions.

Ravitch is correct that there is NO Reason any of this stuff should be pushed. The fact is there are many problems with USA Education but these a "Faux" solutions ... hardly the real deal.

John Hattie in "Visible Learning" and "Visible Learning for Teachers" gives a very sound research basis for what should be done. --- None of which looks anything like the "Nonsense" pushed by the "Ed Reform" powers that be.

This "Ed Reform" folly was clearly shown by the SPS directors when they voted 4-3 for TFA and failed to conduct a legally requires review of all oprions to the use of conditionally certified TFA Corps Members.

You know things stink .... when elected Board members ignore the law to implement practices known NOT to work. .... This falls right inline with the legislature's mindless approval of the Common Core State Standards and all the other "Race to the Top" ridiculous "Ed Reform" actions.

We are currently stuck as politicians have no interest in evidence and they are all driving counterproductive proposals, rather than focusing on the research to fix "WA Ed" problems.


Most of the Board members over the last several years have failed to use their power to improve the academic situation for students..... The State Auditor's Office must be horrified at the law breaking as well as regular bumbling.

Meanwhile Enfield gets $220,000 per year to keep the Ed Reform push going.

WA Ed is in deep deep trouble.
Anonymous said…
meanwhile, out there at the kiddie table, our union "leaders" are getting their watery tea, their mush, their bibs, their sporks and their nappies -

since they've all rushed to kiss the ... rings of Jay the Savior and Barack the Bold -

and 3/4 of the teachers don't bother voting in an SEA leadership election -

these generations didn't have to fight for what little they have, so they're not going to fight to keep from losing it -

Anonymous said…
Noam Chomsky is talking here about Social Security, specifically, but it transfers to education or any other attempt to privatize:

"But if you can defund it, it won't be in good shape. And there is a standard technique of privatization, namely defund what you want to privatize. Like when Thatcher wanted to privatize the railroads, first thing to do is defund them, then they don't work and people get angry and they want a change. You say okay, privatize them and then they get worse. In that case the government had to step in and rescue it.

"That's the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don't work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital."

So...Dan Dempsey...if privatization of schools is the ultimate goal, then doing what works would increase the life span of public schools.

Maybe there is a reason that the opposite of works keeps being chosen. Or maybe the stupidity is simply as rampant as it appears. Or some of both.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
As far as only 25% of members voting...

Are they so traumatized, hopeless or cynical that they didn't have the energy to vote?

Or, like a lot of Seattle liberals, do they like things better in the abstract than in reality? Speaking up and taking a stand can get messy.

Maybe they are just fat and happy enough. I know I couldn't handle the complacency any longer.

The reality: SEA voted in Knapp.
That speaks volumes.

--enough already
dan dempsey said…
Mr. J. Knapp, SEA, and WEA have all supported 6696 and the adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

This is union leadership. Many members are likely too busy working to notice the damaging positions taken by their leaders funded at $70+/month in dues.
Anonymous said…
Yes, I voted for Knapp and please do not say anything else that is demonizing the union. It doesn't help our profession. Ravitch is summarized here on this blog as follows:

"Another round of applause when she said that state legislators, who know very little about education, should stop telling teachers and principals how to do their jobs."

Yet I am frequently reading so many entries here of people telling us teachers what we should do and shouldn't do. If you think of teaching as a profession, then please have some respect for the profession.

- Teacher who is voting and caring in Seattle
Anonymous said…
To "Teacher who is voting ..."

You might consider many of the other things Ravitch said about the attacks on public education, and you might want to consider that the Obama administration AND many Washington State Democrats are pedal to the metal with those attacks, and you might want to consider that YOUR union "leaders" are breaking bread with these Democratic turncoats -

but then you might have to speak up and take a stand,

and it is a lot easier to attack the messengers !!

Why did 75% of SEA membership not vote? Possibly, years and years of inside the clique democracy has left so many people on the outside that they don't even bother figuring out why they're on the outside anymore? Possibly, the fear of change caused a few hundred to rally to the flag, even though their champions will be selling them down river at the next Arne - Jay - Maria - Dwight Pow Wow of rubber chicken and conventional wisdom?

Anonymous said…
After watching how TFA and charters went down, I'm more than happy to let teachers defend their profession. They certainly have the numbers, political power, and money if they want to exert their might. It's great to let that burden go and get back to teaching my kids in the evenings, weekends, and during breaks.

Anonymous said…
PS: I no longer confuse teaching profession with education.

dan dempsey said…
Dear Teacher who is voting and caring,

No the SEA and WEA should not get a free pass for incompetence and failure to perform.

What would help the profession would be a Union that acted more like a professional organization than SEA and WEA.

Salander mentioned in another thread that the State Human Rights Commission is investigating the forcing of veteran teachers out of education. The Union has been a no show on this ongoing fiasco. Some Administrators have decided that some teachers who take stances that are "anti-Ed Reform Kool Aid" ... needed to leave the district to improve education. The Union will facilitate the buyout but not defend the rights of the employee.
.... This is part of the push to make provisions of RttT and 6696 the law of the land. Such action is illegal in the workplace of public schools. (SO WHAT .. so was the way TFA was done.... after an initial objection to TFA... Union leadership became a big no show.)

The Union should not be confused with a Professional Organization. The SEA and WEA fail to act on actual research or have a clue about what are "Real Best Practices" in teaching. (The School Board Action Reports are appalling in their use of best practices and one sided research.) Think about Heart Surgeons or Engineers; they have actual professional organizations. Education exists in a morass of Ed Fads and flavors of the year because of "Baloney Research" which fails to meet the protocols of real scientific research. The SEA just watches the "crap" go by in action report after action report. {Little wonder that Wendy Kimball got a job at Central Admin as the person in charge of coordinating National Board certification when she left her position as do nothing SEA Union president.}

Take a glance at the What Works Clearing House and notice all the "Research" that does not meet the requirements to claim what has been claimed. Read "Visible Learning" and see how many of SB Action Report claimed "Best Practices" are NOT.

Take a look at how the SPS wound up with Everyday Math and "Discovering Algebra" etc.

Interestingly the Union was a participant in bringing the Value Added Measuring of Teachers by test scores to SPS evaluations at the same time EDM was being adopted. .... What Nonsense.... adopted texts known not to work and then hold teachers accountable for performance.

This is one sorry sorry mess. The Union does not get off the hook for being "Totally Lame". What has SEA contributed to achievement gap thinking and possible solutions? SEA is clearly not a professional organization.

Some schools of education are likely doing a great job in preparing teachers in many subject areas but some are not. Some schools of education turn out endless "Ed Refrom" baloney and call their results "research". In general most Ed Research does not meet the protocols for research. It largely just keeps the grant money flowing into Universities and keeps folks employed "for no apparent reason".

You wrote:
Yet I am frequently reading so many entries here of people telling us teachers what we should do and shouldn't do. If you think of teaching as a profession, then please have some respect for the profession.

... (continued) ...
dan dempsey said…
... continued ...

I no longer see teaching in the current environment of misdirection as a part of a profession.

I certainly see many teachers who are professionals but they are professionals in spite of current leadership and the situation. Leadership from Obama/Duncan, the Legislature, SPI and OSPI, WEA, SEA, NEA, AFT and many Central Office Administrators can hardly be termed either professional or research based. Try reading John Hattie's "Visible Learning for Teachers" to confirm all of the above and to see how on the mark are so many of Diane Ravitch's statements.

As for many of the SB Action Reports approved by the SPS Board ... there is no basis in reality for such actions, if the goal is to improve the education of students. NO NOT PROFESSIONAL.

--- Supreme Court => Students' article IX constitutional rights are being violated .... but that's OK because there is a plan ... so the Supreme's will get serious in 2018.

In NY State a similar lawsuit brought immediate legal action toward a remedy. An actual dollar amount was determined to provide the education required and the court order it to be raised.

WA ED = not professional and the SEA and WEA collect the dues ... and do very little.
StopTFA said…
"Why did 75% of SEA membership not vote? Possibly, years and years of inside the clique democracy has left so many people on the outside..."

Yes, it is disheartening to those of us without "skin in the game".
Anonymous said…
Frankly, I wish you had posted some of these very astute comments on Publicola. As it was, A+WA and Kristin B-F got a lot of pats on the back from other Teachers United I guess. And she posted nothing that supported her claims. There is more information on this blog that is linked and supported by evidence than anything I read over there. The intelligence and articulation level on this blog is surprisingly high. More people need to read you.

Why don't teachers vote? Why don't citizens vote? Americans have become pretty dismissive and "if it isn't my house burning down, I don't give a ..." and I think a lot of people will have to hit rock bottom before they wake up and fight back.

It is a fight. We have to be heard.

The pen is mightier than the sword . . .

Does anybody think that union leadership should fight when members don't support them? Talk about being left out on a limb.

dan dempsey said…
Dear n....,

You wrote:
Does anybody think that union leadership should fight when members don't support them? Talk about being left out on a limb.

Please explain. I want to know more about the function of leadership.



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