Thursday, July 26, 2012

Washington Post Reporter Allows College Officials to Alter Story on Controversial Test

  • Very interesting piece by Forrest Wilder of the Washington Post.  Do read between the lines on this one (scroll down for piece).  And wrap your head around this quote:
    "Some in the accountability movement, anchored in conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, view colleges and universities as bastions of indolent professors and inefficient bureaucracies ripe for market discipline. The reformers tend to favor standardized testing, measuring the value of schools and professors with data, the decoupling of research and teaching, online learning and forcing institutions to make do with less state support. At UT, regents appointed by Gov. Rick Perry and a host of conservative reformers have been pressuring the university to adopt accountability measures—an effort that faculty and many university boosters consider dangerous ideological meddling."
    Okay, I don't like how we, as faculty, are characterized in this piece.  Spend a day of life in our shoes.  Indolence is hardly an occupational hazard for us.  But then, that's not really what's at play here.  Nor is it that our students aren't learning.  Maybe WHAT they're learning and what their NOT learning — including "Judeo-Christian values," whatever that means—is really the overriding concern.  Safe guess.

    A clue comes from the Republican Party Platform that opposes higher-order thinking skills (HOTS), multicultural education, early childhood education, and sex education.  See this piece by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post, Texas GOP rejects ‘critical thinking’ skills. Really, for a synopsis.
    The whole ethics questions is a decoy for the larger issue of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) which is what this article by Wilder really should have been about.  The fairness of the CLA, how it will be used, particularly as a "disciplining" kind of role to promote worker insecurity and thus a loss of job control—much like how high-stakes testing and accountability have played out in primary- and secondary-level education in the U.S.  

    No doubt, this is an organized re-articulation of a thorough neoliberal (and neo-conservative) agenda related to a privatization and marketization of the remaining, quite vulnerable frontier, of higher education.  The West threatens to get "won again" if it acceeds to the insatiable appetite of an entire industry invested in these ginormous and growing systems of standardized testing, online learning, and ever more markets.

    Just learned about —Academically Adrift, too.  Written by 2 sociologists, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, it relies partially on the results of the CLA [the standardized test in question in this piece (see below)] to argue that students in America's system of higher education aren't learning."
    It's fine that the Observer’s reporting that it will "tighten its policies on draft sharing," but let's DO still address the issue of validity of the CLA and whether it is something that we as a public want. That is, to send higher education down the same path that K-12 took is a familiar, if profoundly misguided, "reform."  

    In short, this article is diversionary from that larger conversation that we need to be having as a state. Who is behind this move and how do they profit from it materially, psychologically, or symbolically? 

    And why should an untenable proposition that socially constructs faculty as indolent and students as not learning ever acquire respectability as a premise in any serious discussion about the immeasurable contributions that higher education makes to our state and nation—which is not fully measurable in market terms, by the way.  No system is.  

    And where is the community in all of this?  Where is the uprising for this "desperate" reform?  If anything, access and affordability are what dominate public discussions.  

    Either the community's lack of involvement in policy debates or their lack of understanding of how to engage them, enables runaway policy agendas like this one.  And it's creeping steadily across our nation.  Our communities pay taxes and they have a stake in these debates.  People who have nothing to lose should be asking powerful people and organizations the hard questions.

    Sure, there's some dead wood in our universities.  There always is.  But very little.  And not so many as to justify a draconian, highly profitable, anti-democratic, policy agenda like this one.

    We've been through this once with K-12 accountability already.  And we know where that has gotten us.  Let's not put our children or our youth through this again.


    Published on: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
    Updated Below (Thursday, July 26)

    In February, Daniel de Vise, a reporter for the Washington Post, arrived at the University of Texas at Austin campus to work on a story about a controversial standardized test sweeping the nation’s colleges and universities. The test purports to determine how much students have learned in college, part of a movement to bring No Child Left Behind-style accountability testing to higher education. University officials were nervous about what the story would say about the politically sensitive topic. Before he landed in Austin, de Vise emailed UT’s director of communications to reassure him that the article was “NOT meant to be any sort of hit piece, more of a thought-provoker.”

    De Vise’s visit was fairly routine journalism. He toured campus, visited with students and interviewed administrators. But when de Vise returned to Washington, D.C., he employed some unusual, perhaps even unethical, techniques.

    Before publication, de Vise shared at least two complete drafts of his article with UT’s press officers and allowed them to suggest critical edits, some of which ended up in the published story, according to emails obtained by The Texas Observer through a public information request.

    Journalists have traditionally been taught never to share entire drafts with sources to avoid undue influence. But in preparing his 1,300-word story—which ran on the Post’s front page on March 14 under the headline "Trying to assess learning gives colleges their own anxiety”—de Vise flouted journalistic convention and allowed UT officials to suggest substantive changes to a major news story about a politically charged topic.

    "Everything here is negotiable," de Vise wrote to Tara Doolittle, director of media outreach at UT-Austin on March 5. "Help me out by not circulating this material very far and by stressing that it is an unpublished draft. If you or anyone at the university has any concerns about it, I implore you to direct them to me. I'm one of a very few reporters here who send drafts to sources!"

    In another email, de Vise wrote that he's "never had a dissatisfied customer in this process. And that includes an article a few months ago about a school with one of the nation's worst graduation rates.”

    De Vise also noted in an email that he had shared a previous draft with two other sources, Roger Benjamin, the president of the nonprofit that oversees the test, and Richard Arum, a professor of sociology at New York University. "Both men signed off on it," de Vise wrote.
    De Vise declined comment and referred questions to his editor Nick Anderson, the education editor for the Post, who said he stands by the story. “The story was completely up to our standards,” Anderson said. “It’s a good, fair story and tough story that I think stands the test of time.” Asked about de Vise sharing drafts with sources, Anderson said that the reporter’s “interaction with sources are made in an effort to be fair, complete and accurate as possible.”
    Anderson wouldn’t comment on whether the Post has a policy on reporters sharing story drafts with sources. A call to a Post spokesperson seeking comment about editorial policy wasn’t returned.

    However, in a June 12 story on the firing of a Wall Street Journal reporter for ethical breaches, the Post, or at least one of its reporters, took an unequivocal stance on the issue: "[J]ournalists aren’t supposed to disclose unpublished stories, lest it compromise the gathering of information.”

    Two journalism ethics experts contacted for this story expressed dismay at de Vise's actions. “It's been a time-honored code that you don't show sources stories before they run," wrote Renita Coleman, a professor of journalism at UT-Austin, in an email. “Furthermore, you would certainly never change anything except factual inaccuracies because a source suggests it."
    Edward Wasserman, the Knight Chair in Journalism Ethics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, said that de Vise’s tactics were “hard to square with even the most source-friendly reporting practices.”

    But Kelly McBride—senior faculty member for ethics at the Poynter Institute, a nationally recognized nonprofit journalism school in St. Petersburg, Florida—said she saw nothing untoward in de Vise’s actions. “I actually think that what those emails show is a very genuine effort on the part of the reporter to get not only the facts right but get the truth while remaining independent,” she said.

    While she acknowledged that traditionally most reporters have been taught not to share unpublished drafts, McBride said the survival of the print news business has caused her and others to rethink the rules. “We were told that you could never, ever talk to the advertising people, the business side, and these days many, many news organizations are creating content specifically so that advertising can be sold around it.”

    In recent weeks, the issue of who controls the news and how much influence sources exert on stories has become a hot topic among journalists. A recent New York Times article detailed the increasingly common practice of “quote checking,” in which political sources insist on the right to review, reword and veto quotes prior to publication. De Vise went a step further by allowing UT officials at least two chances to review his entire story.

    De Vise has written for a variety of major newspapers, including the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Miami Herald. At the Post, he’s carved out a fruitful niche covering the business of higher education. His blog is called “College Inc.” De Vise frequently writes on the efforts of higher education reformers to impose accountability on American universities and colleges.

    Some in the accountability movement, anchored in conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, view colleges and universities as bastions of indolent professors and inefficient bureaucracies ripe for market discipline. The reformers tend to favor standardized testing, measuring the value of schools and professors with data, the decoupling of research and teaching, online learning and forcing institutions to make do with less state support. At UT, regents appointed by Gov. Rick Perry and a host of conservative reformers have been pressuring the university to adopt accountability measures—an effort that faculty and many university boosters consider dangerous ideological meddling. (It’s worth noting that the newspaper’s parent company, the Washington Post Company, also owns Kaplan, Inc., which offers test preparation services and higher education programs through its for-profit schools.)

    De Vise’s March 14 story focused on the results of the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a 90-minute test that a small group of schools, including UT-Austin, are administering to students. The test’s creators claim it can help measure how much students have learned in college—a highly controversial concept. De Vise examined how the test had been used at UT.
    University officials reacted angrily to the first draft of de Vise’s story. "It's bad," wrote Gary Susswein, UT’s director of media relations, to Doolitle. "We both need to go [through] this with a heavy red pen, pointing out errors and mischaracterizations." Later, Susswein wrote Doolittle that they would be "going to [de Vise's] editor if needed and preparing an aggressive public response if his twisted story runs as is."

    They contended that de Vise had inaccurately portrayed the UT administration as hostile to accountability reform in higher education. They had expected a friendly piece and instead got what Susswein termed a "hatchet job." In Susswein and Doolittle's account, de Vise had promised not to rehash the arguments of Academically Adrift, a book by two sociologists that has rocked the academic world. The book, published last year, relies in part on the results of the CLA to argue that students in America's system of higher education aren't learning.

    In particular, Susswein and Doolittle expressed dismay that de Vise had portrayed the UT administration as an opponent of both accountability reform and the CLA. "[T]his description is fundamentally untrue," Doolittle wrote de Vise in an email. Doolittle stressed that UT President Bill Powers, who's generated high-profile clashes with accountability reform activists close to Gov. Perry, is "an advocate of accountability." The issue, she wrote, is about the implementation of the CLA at a large, complex institution like UT.

    Doolittle emailed de Vise a copy of his story heavily marked up with comments, suggestions and edits. UT officials’ objections weren’t limited to factual corrections. They also wanted to substantively alter the story. For example, Susswein balked at the inclusion of a quote critical of the CLA test from Gretchen Ritter, a vice provost for undergraduate education at UT.
    In the first draft sent to UT, Ritter was quoted saying, “I don’t think the CLA is the main thing anyone should rely on, in the way it’s administered, to tell you how much students are learning at any university.”

    Though Ritter’s criticisms seem plain and direct, Susswein objected. “Gretchen Ritter very much believes and works towards [sic] accountability," Susswein wrote. "To use her as the lone quote to embody the academic community's tension with the accountability movement — in both the paragraph before and after — is inaccurate."

    He also flagged de Vise's description of Ritter, later in the story, as reacting with "palpable distaste" to the CLA.

    De Vise bowed to many of UT's demands. In the next draft that de Vise sent to UT on March 7, Ritter's quote critical of the CLA had been removed and her "palpable distaste" had been replaced with "reservations." Those substantive changes made it into the story that ran in the Post on March 14. Ritter’s statement was one of two quotes from critics of the CLA that de Vise removed from the story before publication.

    Meanwhile, UT officials, who were initially irate with de Vise, became somewhat reassured by his reply to their concerns. De Vise wrote to Doolittle that he could "accommodate many, if not all, of your concerns.” He also wrote, “Take a deep breath, give us some time to work on this, and then we can talk about 'next steps.'"

    Susswein, a former editor at the Austin American-Statesman, wrinkled his nose at the process. "His whole approach is bizarre, to say the least."

    But when Susswein saw the revised draft, his mood lifted. "The latest version of the story, [is] much better than yesterday," he wrote to another administrator by email.

    Update (Thursday, July 26): Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli has announced that the paper—in response to the Observer’s reporting—will tighten its policies on draft sharing. “Our current policy doesn’t prohibit a reporter from sharing a story draft with a source, but we intend to tighten it to ensure that such instances are rare without dispensation from a top editor. The practice of sharing unedited, unpublished material with sources is something we discourage,” Brauchli wrote in an email posted by the Poynter Institute.

The Party Never Ends! by Paul Burka

Very, very important read (register if you must to gain access to the entire document).  It basically says that Texas—which is 55% minority or non-Anglo—will be a swing state soon if it isn't already. This piece provides a good portrait of overall trends. For example, almost half of the Republican Party contributors are over 70 years old while the average age of convention delegates is 58.  Demographics are destiny and so to be viable, they have to diversify.  Good luck with its anti-immigrant, anti-higher-order-learning, and anti-multicultural education platform!  However, another important detail is that George P. Bush (Jeb and Columba's son) could run for statewide office (land commissioner in 2014) and ignite the Republican Latino segment of the party.


Behind the Lines

The Party Never Ends!

Or so many Republicans think. But their state chairman has some sobering news about the future—and a plan.
The man in the pink dress shirt sits a few feet away from me, rifling through a stack of papers filled with graphs and diagrams and colorful pie charts. “I couldn’t find the one for 2040,” he says ruefully, his eyes never looking up. The information he holds in his hands literally and figuratively represents the future of the Republican party in Texas. It contains page after page of demographic data, almost all of it relating to the ever-growing Hispanic population. The numbers tell the story of a state in transition from white to brown.

He hands me a graph of the GOP’s performance in elections since 1998. Lines of various colors zigzag across the page, forming shallow peaks and deep valleys. The lines represent the percentage of the vote received by the leading Republican candidate in each election year, and almost all of them trend downward. The years 2006 and 2008 were particularly bad for Republicans; 2010, with a line that ends with a pronounced upward thrust, is the outlier. What the information shows is that Republicans win races, but their share of the vote has been dropping steadily. If the party doesn’t change its strategy to attract minorities, its dominance will eventually end.

Had I been talking with a political consultant for the Democrats, these conclusions would not be news. But I am in the office of Steve Munisteri, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. You might think that he has the softest job in American politics: leading his candidates to an unending string of victories in this reddest of states. Well, it just so happens that Munisteri would beg to differ. As he sees it, Texas is becoming a swing state—maybe not today or tomorrow, but too soon for comfort. When he isn’t worrying about the size of the turnout in the May 29 primary elections or whether the party’s state convention will go smoothly for the estimated 18,000 delegates and alternates, he is studying PowerPoint presentations of demographic data and contemplating the uncertainties that lie ahead for the GOP.

Read on here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Big Test by Paul Burka

Here is the scoop on Commissioner Robert Scott from TEXAS MONTHLY in a piece titled, "Robert Scott spent his final months as the commissioner of education trying to end the state’s reliance on high-stakes standardized exams. Did he pass or fail? "


The Big Test

Cover Image
Robert Scott spent his final months as the commissioner of education trying to end the state’s reliance on high-stakes standardized exams. Did he pass or fail?
Last January, at the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) midwinter conference, education commissioner Robert Scott strode to the stage to give a presentation about student performance. A trim man with a youthful face and short blond hair, he did not begin his remarks with the kind of cheerleading that the audience had come to expect from previous meetings. “I’m going to try to do things a little bit differently this year,” he said. There was a weary tone to his remarks, which sounded almost like an apologia. 
“I’m going to start with this book I’ve been reading, Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit, written by Rick Hess and Andrew Kelly, which details the involvement of the federal government in education. As I read through this book, I was actually asked to provide a quote for the back cover. Here’s what I wrote: ‘Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit is ...
This content is available to registered members only.


Please log in or register, it’s fast, easy, and FREE!
Log in and choose “go to your account” to change your e-mail address.
 Remember me and log in automatically next time

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Does the American Elite Want Real Public Education?

Does the American Elite Want Real Public Education? with both Professor Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. and Mark Naison. Tests crowd out all the good curricula/subject areas that provide our youth with enriching experiences. Taylor and Naison make a number of good points—that it's profitable for our children NOT to have a high level of critical consciousness. Profit also comes from the "misery industries," otherwise called the school- to-prison pipeline. That's what makes education political.  So no, the American Elite Do NOT Want Real Public Education. They really never have and rhetoric like "leave no child behind" and "all children count" operates strategically to hide that agenda.


Friday, July 20, 2012

High-stakes testing and student achievement: Updated analyses with NAEP data.

Nichols, S. L., Glass, G. V, Berliner, D.C. (2012) High-stakes testing and
student achievement: Updated analyses with NAEP data. Education Policy
Analysis Archives, 20 (20) Retrieved [date], from

ABSTRACT:  The present research is a follow-up study of earlier published analyses that looked at the relationship between high-stakes testing pressure and student achievement in 25 states. Using the previously derived Accountability Pressure Index (APR) as a measure of state-level policy pressure for performance on standardized tests, a series of correlation analyses was conducted to explore relationships between high-stakes testing accountability pressure and student achievement as measured by the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) in reading and math. Consistent with earlier work, stronger positive correlations between the pressure index and NAEP performance in fourth grade math and weaker connections between pressure and fourth and eighth grade reading performance were found. Policy implications and future directions for research are discussed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Reflection on Age and Generation: The Raza Unida Party Reunion

Valenzuela: A Reflection on Age and Generation: The Raza Unida Party Reunion
Last Updated: 15 July 2012
By Angela Valenzuela          
Angela Valenzuela

AUSTIN, July 15 - I had the wonderful opportunity of celebrating the 40-year anniversary of the Raza Unida Party by attending a statewide reunion in Austin last weekend.  

I have been reflecting on a comment made by a young person attending the reunion: “You older folks need to make way for the younger generation.”  

“In whose way are they standing?” I thought to myself. Mal educado, ese muchacho. Poor manners. What a silly thing for a young person to say, generally, but particularly at a Raza Unida Party reunion attended by activists.

Just prior to the conference, one of our elders, the renowned Martha Cotera, shared this dicho with me in the context of a conversation that we were having about our political identities and nurturing the next generation: "Al que a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le cobija." ("If we get close to a good tree, a good shade covers us.") This is a statement about mentorship. We shouldn’t bask in someone’s shadow, but rather in their shade. Mentorship experiences should be nurturing and fulfilling.

We need our elders. They offer much wisdom, knowledge, and experience that the younger generation can still benefit from. As I spoke to members of this earlier generation before and during the conference, what became evident is how the movement energy lit an unquenchable fire for social justice, with many holding positions of leadership and high esteem within our communities to this very day. Martha Cotera is a great example of one of them.

This was and remains a formidable generation that has left our community and the world with a continuing and enduring legacy in the righteous struggle for civil and human rights. This was a generation that decided that being Mexican and speaking Spanish was not only a private identity, but a public one, as well.  

This generation used arguments about history and identity to lay claim to their charter member status, not as immigrants but as natives to this land of the Southwest.

This generation talked back to oppression and said: “We didn't cross the border; the border crossed us."  

As the late Gloria Anzaldua said in her landmark text, BORDERLANDS/LA FRONTERA, there isn’t a Tejano or a Tejana alive who doesn’t know that the lands were taken away. It’s in our “cultural DNA” as this knowledge provides us with the cultural antibodies that we need to endure an entire history of conquest and colonization fraught with discriminatory laws, policies, and practices.

A lot of these persons—if not most—have continued to be civically engaged in one way or another. And many of them are now retired and with more time on their hands. They were young activists 40 years ago; they are young, retiring Baby Boomers today. This was and remains an exceptional generation regardless of their age and we need them now more than ever.

Angela Valenzuela, Ph.D., is a professor at the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. Valenzuela serves as the director of the University of Texas Center for Education Policy.
Write Angela Valenzuela

A Message from my father, a missionary in Peru

My father and his wife, Doris (my Mom passed away in 2005), are missionaries in Peru and he sends me regular notices. I share this one from yesterday (July 14, 2012).  It's heart breaking.
"He that has pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he has given will He pay him again." PROVERBS 19:17

Many of the folks we minister to live in extreme poverty. Last Sunday in Ferrenafe in our Worship service we had in attendance a young woman that was pregnant. Her name is Rosa, in her 20's. Yesterday she gave birth to a baby boy, barely getting to the hospital in time.

Rosa has no mother and her father has remarried. When told his daughter had given birth he said he didn't care for her and it didn't matter to him if she died. She had been living with him. The father of the child wants nothing to do with her and says that it's not his child.

Since Rosa has no money the Hospital won't let her out until the hospital and Doctor bills are paid----the more days in, the larger the debt. Ana Torres, our school teacher at our Pre-school collected from friends about 30 dollars to help out because the new born didn't even have baby clothes ready.. Ana also took Rosa some food. The hospital does not provide and families have to take care of their own; otherwise they won't eat.

I do not write to ask you for money. I write to let you know what part of our ministry is about; and also to thank you for your contributions to PENNIES FOR PERU. We will help Rosa ASAP and the new born child. And, of course, we will give her the blessed hope that is only found in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

That is our thought for the day.

In Christ, Brother Carlos July 13, 2012
If you would like to make a contribution to help Rosa and others who are desperate like her, here are the instructions:
The checks should be made to "Miracle Village International" and mailed to 
P.O. BOX 890
Melbourne, AR. 72556
C/O David Miller
On the memo line on the check you need to note that the money is to go to Carlos or Pennies for Peru or whatever particular cause you want the money used for or you can include a note with the check explaining how you want the money used. 
All contributions are tax deductible and David Miller will send you a receipt for tax purposes. About once a month, he wires money to Villa Milagro and Nancy Diaz then puts the money in the accounts as designated. Any questions, email David Miller at this email address: David Miller .

Dallas ISD has a new chief academic officer

Dallas ISD has a new chief academic officer

Read this piece and then read these comments by conservative Donna Garner.  It's a lot to digest this Sunday morning, but it explains a lot of why we are where we are in the state of Texas.


“Bad Choice for Dallas ISD”
by Donna Garner

I hate to be the one to burst Dallas taxpayers’ bubble, but Dallas ISD Superintendent Miles’ has just “laid an egg.”  He has named Ann Smisko to be the DISD’s chief academic official at a base salary of $205,000.

Ann Smisko is the person who was responsible for “forcing” the Type #2 Philosophy of Education curriculum standards upon Texas’ public schools in 1997.  


The Type #2 Philosophy of Education was adopted when the July 1997 TEKS [under the well-orchestrated plan set out by Ann Smisko] were passed by the left-leaning State Board of Education (SBOE). These TEKS opened the door for the social justice agenda to inundate our public schools.

Type #2 Philosophy of Education: Project-based, subjective (emphasize cognitive domain – beliefs, opinions, emotions), subjectively assessed based upon value system of evaluator, multiculturalism, political correctness, environmental extremism, diversity, social justice agenda — These standards are built backwards from Grade 12 on down – and are taught mostly using the constructivist (project-based) approach.

At the Texas Education Agency under Commissioner of Education Mike Moses, Ann Smisko was the person who teamed up with the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) led by Marc Tucker, Hillary Clinton, Ira Magaziner, and Gov. Cuomo to move our country’s public schools from knowledge-based, academic skills (i.e., Type #1 Philosophy of Education) INTO what has now inundated our schools with the “the social justice agenda” (i.e., Type #2 Philosophy of Education).   

Every Texan should hold Ann Smisko responsible for the dumbing down of our Texas schools during these last 15 years. It was she and those working with her who “abused” millions of Texas public school children by destroying their chances to be successful readers, writers, spellers, and math/science students.  


Type #1 Philosophy of Education: Knowledge-based, academic, clearly worded, grade-level-specific content that is tested largely through objectively scored tests — These standards are built from the lowest grade to the highest — Pre-K through Grade 12 — and are taught mostly through direct, systematic instruction.

Type #1 standards could be referred to as the traditional method – the method of teaching that people approximately 50 years old and older experienced when they were in school – phonics, grammar, correct usage/spelling, cursive penmanship, classical literature, expository/persuasive/research writing, the four math functions taught to automaticity, U. S. History, World History, fact-based science, etc.

We Texas classroom teachers wrote the Texas Alternative Document (TAD) for English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) in 1997. This was based upon Type #1 and was an alternative to the one that the Texas Education Agency [with Ann Smisko in charge] and the left-leaning SBOE members were ruthlessly pushing through (Type #2).

During this period of time in the late 90’s, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) was under the authority of Mike Moses as Commissioner of Education [and Ann Smisko over the development of the new TEKS curriculum standards and TAKS tests).  Governor George W. Bush had brought Karl Rove into the mix to silence our TAD efforts for political reasons because Gov. Bush was running for the Presidency and did not want any controversy to sideline his campaign.

Our Texas Alternative Document (TAD) for ELAR followed the Type #1 philosophy and would have set a precedent for the rest of the other core curriculum courses if the TAD had been adopted.

Because Texas was (and still is) the largest purchaser of textbooks, the new curriculum standards as set forth in the TAD could have impacted what was implemented into textbooks throughout the country.  

However, because of the politics of the moment [orchestrated in part by Ann Smisko], the TAD was not adopted in July 1997; and Type #2 Philosophy of Education was implemented instead throughout our Texas public schools for the last 15 years.

It was Type #2 which prevailed in our Texas public schools until May 2008 at which time the voters had finally elected enough conservative SBOE members to adopt brand new ELAR curriculum standards (TEKS) that follow Type #1.

Since then, Texas has adopted Type #1 Science, Social Studies, and Math TEKS; and now new instructional materials (i.e., textbooks) and the new STAAR/EOC tests are required to be built upon Type #1.

The problem is that changing a monolithic institution such as all the public schools in Texas from Type #2 to Type #1 takes time.  It also takes money because new Type #1 instructional materials and tests have to be implemented from K-12. 

The new ELAR curriculum standards were adopted in May 2008, but most teachers did not pay any attention to the new standards until it came time for the students to take the new STAAR-EOC tests this spring.

To view the new Type #1 STAAR/EOC tests through the eyes of two Texas public school students, please go to the following article published on 3.29.12: “STAAR-EOC Tests: Picking Alpha’s and Beta’s Brains” --

Ann Smisko is not a good choice for the DISD superintendent to make because her philosophy of education is completely at odds with the one that the Texas State Board of Education and the new STAAR-EOC’s represent.

To read more about Texas education and how the two philosophies of education impact every public school student in this state, please read the following:

5.30.12 -- “The Gathering Storm in Education” - by Donna Garner --


5.13.12 -- “Texans: Must Keep STAAR/End-of-Course Tests on Schedule” -- by Donna Garner --


3.26.12 -- “Two Education Philosophies with Two Different Goals” -- by Donna Garner --

Why Women Still Can't Have It All - The Atlantic

So this piece has gotten a whole lot of attention lately and so I'm wanting to provide my own reflection.  Specifically, this personal account merits a deeper analysis here in order to see how this woman's account in government reflects professional management systems that even Hillary Clinton's office plays out as a microcosm of a larger macrocosm that is a product of historical trends in management. 

Today, as represented here in this article, this involves a disciplining of the individual and population in the interest of economy, productivity, and efficiency. All the complaints in the 1980s against "bloated government bureaucracies" brought in this neo-Taylorist, entrepreneurial discourse and its set of practices that are intended to contain costs, enhance performance in the provision of services to the public sector, and generate public support. 

In the interest of careers and social mobility, I would argue that these socially mobile women were either colonized by patriarchy and bought in to the myth and the privileges that go with it that this patriarchal vision for family and society was the way to go or they sold out their fellow feminists that were struggling for equitable salaries and humane, family-friendly working conditions. 

So the larger issue, in my mind here—affecting all of us—are the hidden costs of drawing on private-sector models of entrepreneurial management to improve public-sector performance. 

Significantly, and ironically, the significant costs here are not only to the individuals concerned but also the organization in terms of the kinds of innovation that gets stifled. Innovation gets "managed," rather than set loose to the creative impulses and talent within the organization. 

As numerous and multiple analyses of our high-stakes accountability systems in education reveal, a preponderance of evidence exists on the side of the equation which shows that these systems of management in the public sector do not work—except, of course, for the either the patriarchs or for the women that have adopted patriarchal ways of knowing and being in the world. A colleague, Brendan Maxcy, and I have actually written about this with respect to education.*

Scholars like Rhodes (1994)** argue that these “fashionable” new professional management (NPM)-style reforms actually are "working," but their working to hollow out the public sector inasmuch as they are related to an overall scaling back in the scope and nature of public sector work in this "managerial society of ours." This is a society where professional work is either more heavily managed or contracted out to private firms.

No person can have it all under this kind of system top-down, stifling, neo-Tayloristic kind of system.


*Valenzuela, A. & Maxcy, B. (2011).  Limited English proficient youth and accountability:  All children (who are tested) count.  In Leal, D. & Meier, K. J. (eds.), The Politics of Latino Education.  New York:  Teachers College Press. 
** Rhodes, R. A.W. (1994). The hollowing out of the state: The changing nature of the public service in Britain. Political Quarterly, 65(2), 138-151.

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All

It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change.

By Anne-Marie Slaughter
Phillip Toledano

Eighteen months into my job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations’ annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world. On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History. I sipped champagne, greeted foreign dignitaries, and mingled. But I could not stop thinking about my 14-year-old son, who had started eighth grade three weeks earlier and was already resuming what had become his pattern of skipping homework, disrupting classes, failing math, and tuning out any adult who tried to reach him. Over the summer, we had barely spoken to each other—or, more accurately, he had barely spoken to me. And the previous spring I had received several urgent phone calls—invariably on the day of an important meeting—that required me to take the first train from Washington, D.C., where I worked, back to Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived. My husband, who has always done everything possible to support my career, took care of him and his 12-year-old brother during the week; outside of those midweek emergencies, I came home only on weekends.
A debate on career and family See full coverage
As the evening wore on, I ran into a colleague who held a senior position in the White House. She has two sons exactly my sons’ ages, but she had chosen to move them from California to D.C. when she got her job, which meant her husband commuted back to California regularly. I told her how difficult I was finding it to be away from my son when he clearly needed me. Then I said, “When this is over, I’m going to write an op-ed titled ‘Women Can’t Have It All.’” She was horrified. “You can’t write that,” she said. “You, of all people.” What she meant was that such a statement, coming from a high-profile career woman—a role model—would be a terrible signal to younger generations of women. By the end of the evening, she had talked me out of it, but for the remainder of my stint in Washington, I was increasingly aware that the feminist beliefs on which I had built my entire career were shifting under my feet. I had always assumed that if I could get a foreign-policy job in the State Department or the White House while my party was in power, I would stay the course as long as I had the opportunity to do work I loved. But in January 2011, when my two-year public-service leave from Princeton University was up, I hurried home as fast as I could.

Continue reading here.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

As Membership Plummets, NEA Retools Mission

As Membership Plummets, NEA Retools Mission

Staggering, staggering losses by the NEA.  How will it recover?


Let Them Eat Tests

Let Them Eat Tests

by Jason Stanford/ July 11, 2012

We celebrate report cards in my family by letting the boys pick dinner. My oldest always wants steak. My youngest likes beige food—pasta, mac & cheese, and potatoes. When he finished the 3rd grade this year, he chose KFC (beige again) for getting all A’s except for two B’s. I asked him what he learned this year, and he mentioned a lesson about the double helix and that squids have three hearts.
Mike Keefe / (click to view more cartoons by Keefe)

Then he said this: “I learned strategies. How to focus and… I forget the other one. Oh yeah, practicing doing tests.” He’s talking about the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness that Texas began administering this year in the hopes that testing our children will make them smarter. Texas is paying Pearson Education $470 million over five years for STAAR test, but since Texas also cut $5.4 billion from the public school budget, the state decided the tests shouldn’t actually count towards anything.

Meanwhile, Sandy Kress sends his children to private schools in Austin where, like at 90% of Texas private schools, they don’t take the state’s standardized tests. Where his children go to school doesn’t matter, except that Kress was the “key architect” of “No Child Left Behind” and now is the lead lobbyist for Pearson.

While Kress’ kids get a first-class secondary education, his tests have incited an open revolt over the test-first, test-later culture. So far, 520 Texas school boards representing millions of schoolchildren have passed a resolution opposing over-testing. Even the Lufkin Chamber of Commerce has joined the revolution against the let-them-eat-tests oligarchy. Now the Texas protest has gone viral. A national resolution has thousands of signatories, and parents are protesting Pearson’s headquarters in New York.

Newt Gingrich won back Congress with his Contract With America by fighting this kind of out-of-touch elitism. The Contract’s first principle was that “all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress.” Nothing came of it, but this bullet point hit the bull’s eye with focus groups because of the House banking scandal, Speaker Jim Wright’s book sales to lobbyists, and Dan Rostenkowski’s corruption charges. There was the sense that Congress was not living by the same rules the rest of us did.

Some of that unfairness applies here. Americans rightfully loathe living by rules that don’t apply to those who make the rules. We don’t like that George W. Bush and other fortunate sons got into National Guard while working-class sons died in Vietnam. We can’t ignore the basic unfairness of Wall Street executives paying themselves bonuses with our bailout money while millions of others can’t find jobs. And it does not warm my heart to know that part of my school taxes are paying for Sandy Kress to send his kids to private school where they don’t have to take his tests that my kids do.

This won’t change soon. Rick Perry regularly appoints Kress to advisory boards and allows him to testify before the legislature as if he’s only representing a state board and not his testing company lobbying client. I am Kress fallen that Sandy is making money off my children while protecting his own from the STAAR test, but it’s only offensive, not illegal. His transgression is a moral one, akin to selling sugary soda to kids while forbidding his own from rotting their teeth out. He has a classic conflict of interest between his kids and mine.

All this began with such good intentions, to end social promotion by not leaving any child behind in a failing school. But Kress has led us to hell by insisting that testing our children will make them smarter. Of course it doesn’t work that way any more than marking off their growth against a wall makes them taller. That’s why Kress sends his kids to a private school with our money while our kids forgo a real education so they can take his tests.

If Kress really believed that his tests made schools better, he’d send his own kids there. And if he knows better, he’d stop selling Texas tests that we can’t afford and that school districts increasingly don’t want.
© Copyright 2012 Jason Stanford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Jason Stanford is a Democratic consultant who has helped elect or re-elect more than two dozen Members of Congress. He lives in Austin, Texas. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter @jasstanford.

Tucson’shistoric Freedom Summer and the Popol Vuh

By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

On the way to Tucson’s Freedom Summer, I’m driving with a few friends. We speak of several topics and at one point, someone laments that over the past several years, former state school’s superintendent, Tom Horne, his successor, John Huppenthal along with TUSD superintendent, John Pedicone, had managed to bury Tucson’s highly praised and highly successful Mexican American Studies (MAS) department.
That statement froze me in my tracks. Yet, immediately, an image came to my mind.
“Yes,” I said. “…Just like in the Popol Vuh.”
The Popol Vuh is the ancient creation story of the Quiche Maya, which tells the story of the creation of the universe, maíz, and human beings.

In that ancient creation story, at a certain point, the Hero Twins outsmart the Lords of Xibalba. One of the twins, Xblanque, cuts off the head of the other twin, Hunaphu and buries it, and then Hunaphu promptly comes back to life. Impressed, several of the Lords demand that they too get their heads chopped off and buried. The twins comply, but do not bury their heads. The story is complex, but in the end, burying the heads represents the planting of maíz.
In Tucson, the story, in effect, is in reverse. The state and the TUSD governing board have buried MAS, and rather than die, it is now sprouting everywhere nationwide.
This is part of the story of Tucson’s Freedom Summer. People from across the country are gathering daily. But the more remarkable part of the story is that people are going back, or will be going back, to plant the seeds. Soon, educators will be proposing to their own local school boards to implement MAS at elementary, middle schools and high schools.
It is an awesome story unfolding before our very eyes. And in a sense, this is the second time this is being playing out. The first time occurred in 1969 via El Plan de Santa Barbara. At that historic gathering, the seeds were planted and soon thereafter, hundreds of Chicano/Chicana studies programs, centers and departments sprouted on college campuses and universities nationwide. Actually, unbeknownst to most people, this discipline sprouted worldwide, from Mexico to Europe and Asia.
To their chagrin, this very same process is now beginning to take place at K-12 schools nationwide. Rather than bury Raza studies, they have and are actually contributing to the reenactment of that cosmic drama.
Amazingly, by eliminating MAS this year, another historic drama is also being reenacted. When the TUSD governing board complied with the state’s anti-Ethnic Studies HB 2281 in January of this year, purportedly because MAS teaches hate, promotes segregation and the overthrow of the government, the board did not simply eliminate a department, they did not simply ban a curriculum, its books and accompanying teaching materials. What they actually did was attempt to outlaw a worldview – a worldview that literally is related to the Popol Vuh. 
Mr. Horne and his supporters have long insisted that the MAS curriculum is outside of Western civilization. In their own definition, they are correct. MAS does not owe its roots to Greco-Roman culture, but rather to the ancient Indigenous maíz culture of this very continent.
Aside from the fact that the MAS department was highly successful, it should be an honor for Tucson and the state to be able to showcase the accomplishments of MAS. Tucson is no stranger to maíz; it is purportedly the home of the oldest (some 4,000 years) surviving cornfield in the United States, on the corner of Silver Bell and Ina. The state of New Mexico, at Bat Cave, is the site of the oldest corncob ever found in the United States, purportedly close to 6,000 years old.
Thus, there is nothing foreign about maíz; it is one of the ultimate symbols of the story of this continent.
In that spirit, as a community, we invite the detractors to cease being detractors. And we invite everyone to come to Tucson's Freedom Summer and learn what thousands of students have already learned. In that spirit, as a community, we offer you the words of In Lak’ Ech, which also come to us from the Maya, an ethos taught to our students:
In lak Ech 

Tú eres mi otro yo.
Si te hago daño a ti
Me hago daño a mí mismo.
Sí te amo y respeto,
Me amo y respeto yo.
You are my other me.
If I do harm to you,
I do harm to myself.
If I love and respect you,
I love and respect myself.

* For information regarding freedom summer, which will run through mid-August, go to:

Follow this link to learn of the attacks against former MAS director, Sean Arce and former MAS teacher, Jose Gonzalez:

Rodriguez, an assistant professor in the Mexican American Studies department at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: -

Friday, July 13, 2012

Minority Teachers In The United States – Really A Minority

Yes, a dearth of minority teachers is a massive equity issue and national crisis.  So between 1990 and today, there has indeed been an increase in Latino/a teachers but the gap remains constant.  Retention is an issue.  Quote from within:
"During the 2003 school year, for example, 47,600 minority teachers entered the profession — but approximately 56,000 left."  

So these teachers are affected by the same poor working conditions as other teachers that are leaving the profession.

These teachers—many of them older—are also among the first to be fired in today's budget-cut era because they are expensive and districts can always substitute a less expensive teacher (TFA teacher and others) in their stead.  I saw actual data on this in Texas.  Scandalously, this, too, is an equity issue and states should track this—which teachers from which ethnic groups are being given pink slips.  

I'll post later what many of us around the country are working on as part of the National Latino/a Education Research and Policy Project (NLERAP)—specifically a Grow-Your-Own (GYO) Latino/a teacher preparation pipeline in five cities in five states as follows:

Sacramento, California; Chicago, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Dallas, Texas, and Brooklyn, New York.  The act of convening a constituency around public schooling and GYO teachers across our five sites underscores community ownership of teacher preparation—not only after pre-service teachers enter the profession but also before and throughout their educational experience in their university program  Ideally, our pipeline will begin getting built in the early grades through student clubs and peer mentorship opportunities.

Our teachers need a constituency, or support network, not only so that they can be more effective teachers, but also so that they can have a backbone of support as they themselves work toward transformational change in their respective communities.  They never work alone but rather as part of a larger collective effort that supports and sustains the pipeline.

We think that this is a model that all groups can consider. 

Incidentally, Dr. Ana Maria Villegas, a member of our 35-member national consortium (or NLERAP) has researched these trends of national data if anyone wants to pursue this further (just Google her).  She, along with Jaqueline Jordan Irvine are referenced in this EdWeek Piece as per this link

Angela Valenzuela, Director
National Latino/a Education Research and Policy Project  

Patricia Lopez, Associate Director
National Latino/a Education Research and Policy Project


Minority Teachers In The United States – Really A Minority

By Hope Gillette, Voxxi

For decades, the presence of teachers representing minority groups has been sorely lacking in the education system in the United States. That’s the conclusion offered by a report from a study by Education Week  and Flora Family Foundation, that explored data from 1980-2009 taken from a U.S. Department of Education national survey of teachers and school administrators.

Researchers found a significant gap between the number of minority students and the number of minority teachers. During one test year, the percentage of children in school representing minorities was 41 percent, but only 16.5 percent of educators were from a minority demographic.

According to experts, minority teachers are important in the education system; parents of minority children often feel more comfortable discussing school issues with a teacher from similar heritage, and a diverse teacher population ensures children from all races have a supply of role models.

Research suggests that access to minority teachers may increase attendance, lead to higher test scores, and decrease the number of suspensions in the system.

As one of the fastest growing minorities, Hispanics are a prime example of the education gap. Latino children enrolled in school have far surpassed the number of Latino teachers available. The gap was recognized in the 1990s, when the Exxon Education Foundation revealed 11.8 percent of students were Hispanic and only 3.7 percent of teachers shared that heritage. More recent numbers indicate 21 percent of students are Hispanic compared to 7 percent of Hispanic teachers.
  • But why is there such a gap?

The Education Week study revealed the gap is not linked to a poor enrollment of Hispanics into college level teaching programs. In fact, the number of Latinos in such university classes have almost doubled from the 1980s, rising from 325,000 to 642,000.

What the research did show, however, was that minority teachers are 2 to 3 times more likely to accept positions in hard-to-staff systems in urban, high-poverty zones. In this manner, researchers say the minority teacher factor has been successful, but it is retention of those minority teachers which contributes to the national shortage.

The data indicates teachers from minority demographics are more likely to move from one school to another, and many leave the profession entirely. During the 2003 school year, for example, 47,600 minority teachers entered the profession — but approximately 56,000 left.

When the process was examined, researchers found that contributing to reasons minority teachers leave a school or the entire profession are issues regarding poor treatment from co-workers and superiors, and a poor work environment in hard-to-staff locations.

To combat minority teachers drop-outs, the Education Week report suggests working on two main areas: teacher recruitment and decision-making input.

Because teachers from minorities are indeed available (based on the number of graduates with a teaching degree), schools and education programs need to design recruitment programs that reach the nation’s diverse ethnic groups. Part of the recruitment process means offering competitive wages and desirable work conditions. Decision making within a school will also keep minority teachers invested in the education program, creating a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when the school succeeds as a whole.

This article was first published in Voxxi.

Hope Gillette is an award winning author and novelist. She has been active in the veterinary industry for over 10 years, and her experience extends from exotic animal care to equine sports massage. She shares her home with four cats, a dog, a horse, and her tolerant husband.