Temporary-jobs-Wanted
Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools, Uncategorized

The Phantom of Phalen Learning Academies: Part 2, Working the Middle-Man-Game like Pros

The Phantom of Phalen Learning Academies: Part 2, Working the Middle-Man-Game like Pros

Temporary-jobs-Wanted

***Note: Links are bold and faintly underscored***

When chain-style charters come into a new area, such as the Phalen Leadership Academy (or Learning—I have seen it written both ways) who are trying to wheedle their way into Cincinnati, they bring along all of their transient and temporary employee plans.

It is not a new ‘think-tank’ like the reformers like to taut, but rather a crew that has been trained to puppet the reform talk. This is why I wrote such a harsh statement in the first piece of this 3-part series, insisting that they (these businesses) are “cult-like”. It might seem like a million different battles with thousands of different names, but in reality it is all one greedy game, and the foundational pieces are all the same. The selling points are part of the training programs in a brain-washing manner.

June 13th, was a crucial meeting
for the Cincinnati Board of Education to “explore” the possibilities of opening an expansion charter(s) from the cluster of the PLAs in Indianapolis. The vote should not have even gone forth because the charter(s) are too new. PLA was in operation for only one year prior (2015-2016). This ‘newness’ detail does not surprise me. Tom Vander Ark, who is the original visionary of all of these privatization and personalization takeovers, was considered an education expert after he happed into a position as a suburban school superintendent. Only one school, in only one area (Federal Way, Washington), for only one single time slot of five years with no prior education-related experience or degree and Bill Gates deemed newbie Tom Vander Ark worthy of having enough knowledge to completely redo all education premises in the United States. Billions upon billions of dollars and two decades later, and Tom Vander Ark (having left Gates’ Foundation to make the millions on his own),  is still turning tricks and selling his bullshit in all forms and forums. Oh, and he is still using Gates’ and others’ money pots. Phalen charters are a sickening example of all of this.

These type of charters are notorious for rough starts while they move and jostle their own people all around. Transient environments are the last thing these community members seek. Stability is a rare commodity that children and their families from socio-financially disadvantaged areas need. But they will not reap that as a benefit from PLAs. One month (July 2015) before Phalen Leadership Academy was to open in Indiana, their reform pick (to the tune of a $100,000 MindTrust fellowship grant), was suddenly and without explanation, out of the picture. ““Yes, Marlon [Llewellyn] has done a great job during his fellowship year but will not be leading us forward as the school leader next year,” Phalen said in an email Thursday. Phalen has not responded to requests for further clarification as to why Llewellyn was removed. Llewellyn did not respond to a request for comment.” This was not a one-time fluke. Such are the broad patterns of such dysfunctional happenings with charter business startups.

“Findings: Our analyses show that charter schools had a higher principal turnover rate than traditional schools and very different principal transition patterns.” (Yongmei Ni, Min Sun, and Andrea Rorrer, Principal Turnover: Upheaval and Uncertainty in Charter Schools? Educational Administration Quarterly August 2015 51: 409-437, first published on June 26, 2014)
A Hechinger Report article stated “…nearly 30 percent of principals who lead troubled schools quit every year. By Year 3, more than half of all principals leave their jobs.”  Add this in with the fact that turnover rate is much higher in charters and one spells ‘disaster’.

The article went on to say that “ Looking broadly at the effect of principal turnover on student learning, a researcher from Mount Holyoke College studied 12 years of data from North Carolina public schools. They found that when principals leave, student achievement generally declines for two years.” So these commonplace leadership attrition rates are a huge realistic risk for Cincinnati. It is a dangerous dance of one fancy faux step forward and several irreparable steps backwards.

Principals are not the only temporary hires of MindTrust. Teachers are pulled from TFA (Teach For America) and TNTP (The New Teacher Project). For more background see this article; the author, Doug Martin, has been fighting MindTrust’s ways and writing about such in Indiana for a long time.  A study out of Vanderbilt University lays teacher turnover out in a comprehensive manner: “Using multi-nomial logistic regression, we found the odds of a charter school teacher leaving the profession versus staying in the same school are 132% greater than those of a traditional public school teacher. The odds of a charter school teacher moving schools are 76% greater. Our analysis confirms that much of the explanation of this “turnover gap” lies in differences in the types of teachers that charter schools and traditional public schools hire.” (Italic emphasis mine)

This “type of teacher” is one who has had no previous classroom experience, with extremely abbreviated training times, and whom are promised yet other roles in reform if they meet the contingency of teaching in one of these startup urban situations. Ads are perpetually run. When we, the Badass Teachers Association, lobbied in DC in 2015, we were startled at how very many Representatives’ and Senators’ Education Aides were directly from TFA. Dr. Mitchell Robinson writes: “Teach for America uses its teaching program as a direct line into legislative assistant positions through the Capital Hill Fellows Program.” This is no coincidence on TFA & reformers’ parts. It is intentional through and through. For these fellowship teachers, entrance wages are ridiculously low, the newness pressures are exasperatingly high, and the non-union positions are precariously unprotected. The reward is that they can move on. Teaching is temporary. Never mind the tire tracks on the children’s backs.

Is this the environment that best serves America’s most vulnerable students?

Now, as a final consideration about the atrocious attrition rates associated with opening new charters, please consider the language in THIS CONTRACT. It is the EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF PROPOSED INNOVATION NETWORK SCHOOL AGREEMENT BETWEEN PHALEN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY-INDIANA, INC. AND IPS [Indiana Public Schools] FOR OPERATION OF GEORGE FISHER AS INNOVATION NETWORK SCHOOL. This one sentence leapt out at me:

“In addition, given the importance of having staff experienced in implementing the Project: RESTORE model, if staff turnover exceeds 75 percent in any year, IPS may terminate the agreement.”

Am I the only one totally perturbed and disturbed by that number?? So, in actuality it is A-OKAY……for just shy of three-quarters of the entire school staff from top down and middle to middle, to turnover, creating chaos and churn. Never mind the time and energy resources to replace. Don’t worry about the training aspects, TFA and TNTP can carry that all off in five weeks. Don’t fret about the folks being from the community itself; they will be complete passers-by, stopping in for a brief stay and then headed out to the next time and place. Game board pieces with their marching orders.

FLIP THE TABLES!

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A-misty-phantom (1)
Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools

The Phantom of Phalen Learning Academies

The Phantom of Phalen Learning Academies: Part 1, Forming the Foundations

A-misty-phantom (1)

***Note: Links are in bold and faintly underlined***

Positioned atop of his self-made pinnacle of one of the most cult-like pyramiding schemes I have ever seen, is none other than Tom Vander Ark. But somehow he seems to go unnamed and unnoticed most of the time, misting about like a phantom in all aspects of ruinous reform.

phan·tomˈ fan(t)əm/ noun (Google definitions)
*a ghost. synonyms: ghost, apparition, spirit, specter, wraith
*a figment of the imagination.synonyms: delusion, figment of the imagination, hallucination, illusion, chimera, vision, mirage*denoting a financial arrangement or transaction that has been invented for fraudulent purposes but that does not really exist.modifier noun: phantom”he diverted an estimated $1,500,000 into “phantom” bank accounts”

In Ohio, I have more than learned, any time something related to education reform arises, that Tom and his profit-pointed poisons and, purposefully-packaged propaganda will be forming the fortunes in the foundation, working the middle-man-game like pros and gleaning the gold dust that seems to magically disappear into thin air.  His public school takeover plans or new charter start-ups are quite the practiced prescribed sales pitches. Through iNACOL and NACSA (and a score more of such groups), he uses heavily-lobbied-legislation which he templates and passes out like addictive-drug-laced-candy to the well-intentioned, the unaware, or the greedy.  A combination of these three sectors works the best for Tom’s charismatic churning up of yet another minefield of coffers for him and his collaborators. And, there are an extensive amount of the zombie-bitten ones on the public education deathship at this point. I know, I know, no one will wade through this (I certainly have not all the way, but rather have skimmed numerous times and I long for the time to go line by line through it and bring along all of the articles of related FAILURES, CHANGE-UPS and SCANDAL) but here is a 270 page paper that covers so much of Tom Vander Ark’s vision and the connections.

Through the scope of his financial engineering (Tom: “I’m an engineer by training, and moved into finance.”) Cincinnati has long been a target of Tom’s.  Yes, a long time, to answer Michelle Dillingham’s wonderings about how long they have been planning the takeover of taxpayers’ turf. Specifically, Mind Trust has been looking to set up their (scholarly-sounding) scheme for quite the while. In a manner similar to the buying and selling of fast-food chain restaurants, a formula has been finited and the exponential spread of the ‘brain-washed marching repeaters’ are ready to be strategically inserted into YOUR CHILD’s education world. They (Mind Trust and Tom Vander Ark) have been deviously developing this formula for privatization since 2006.

Tom Vander is the CEO of Getting Smart, and under that are all of his books, blogs, and hashtags by the same names: #SmartStates #SmartCities #SmartParents. This is one of the main ways he pumps his pompous unproven ideas. This is one of the hundreds upon hundreds of avenues from which he gets paid. It is all a huge hype for his one-man-show on how he (and all of his fortune-seeking followers) are going to set about to transform schools or get rich depending on which tongue Tom is using in the discussion.

Mind Trust and Cincinnati are discussed numerous times in the same articles in his tons of different blogs and tweets. Search it– you will immediately see.  I will give him this, he is OBSESSIVELY PROLIFIC and DETERMINED, but that does not make him any less WRONG, and at this point EVIL for all the irreparable demise that has come about in education realms.

His engineering degree was in mining. He writes about the barriers to completely overhauling education, and compares those barriers of experienced teachers, unions, local boards, legislation and so on as being “Gordian knots”. But he has bore through those barriers like he is using the largest mountain-tunneling machine ever built along with the similarities of using large amounts of dynamite to open up deep, dangerous shafts. Imagine the noise of such devices and the permanent scarring to the landscape. And yet, to my utter frustration and lack of understanding, he has done it all nearly as silently as though he were an apparition walking through walls. By this I mean there have been 100s of conferences leading into this current proposal push in Cincinnati, but we who are fighting to preserve PUBLIC education, seem to only hear about all of it when it is already a done deal. Most find it unbelieveable when I try to show all the areas Tom is haunting.

The next time I write about Vander Ark, I truly would like to really show in as full-blown of a manner as I can, how dastardly his omnipresence in Ohio has become. Each time I set out to write about how Tom is connected to and orchestrating so much of this reform, I become almost instantly overwhelmed with a sickening migraine. It is that much. It is that big. It is that nauseating. But, for the here and now, I am about to bombard the readers with as much as I can, as it will relate to the current Cincinnati cash clutch. Here is where it all is headed. This is what it will look and sound like. Not at all like the ‘MIND TWISTS’ they will paint for you as the future.   Just insert Cincinnati where you read Indianapolis.

“The Indianapolis Star tells us The Mind Trust is sticking its fingers in the affairs of our Indianapolis Public School system again. The nonprofit education group, which is nothing more than a front organization for wealthy education profiteers, is awarding two $50,000 grants to IPS to transform George Fisher School 93 and Cold Spring School into what is called “innovation network schools.” These schools are in fact charter schools operating for profit within the IPS district using our public school property and tax dollars to operate schools free from all of the burdens and regulations imposed on traditional public schools.”

“[IPS] to the Phalen Leadership Academy to operate its for-profit charter school using our public school property and tax dollars. You heard that right. As much as $3 million has been given to operate their for-profit charter school within the IPS network. Phalen’s hands aren’t tied by the collective bargaining agreement IPS has with its schools. Phalen pays nothing to use our public school building. The entire tab and then some is picked up by IPS. How’s that for driving a good bargain? Thanks to a state law passed by state lawmakers who accepted large campaign contributions from the very people who profit from charter schools, it’s all legal. Under an agreement IPS entered into with The Mind Trust, it will eventually convert 15%, or about nine schools altogether, into profit centers for these greedy bastards.”

“ All of the $100,000 paid to the two school in these grants will go to a group of consultants and attorneys who will work out the logistics of transitioning the schools into for-profit places of learning according to The Mind Trust’s spokesman, Steve Campbell, another political crony of former Mayor Bart Peterson. Naturally, there is no disclosure in advance to whom those consulting and legal fees will be paid. Don’t be surprised if it includes people listed on the campaign finance reports of the best school board money can buy. This IPS board doesn’t approve anything unless there’s something in it for their political cronies.” (taken from the comments section)

“With $1.19M in surplus revenue and an 84.7% margin in 2013, Phalen Leadership Academy-indiana Inc. was profitable.”

I could go on and on for great lengths of time establishing the FOR-PROFIT side of all of this. I want to wrap this piece up by shedding light in one or two more dark and dank dreads of going forward with this Cincinnati. So, please skim through this 24 page pdf: Boosting Impact: Why Foundations Should Invest in Education Venture Funds.” Getting Smart, March 2014.   It is Tom speaking in his non-child-concerned true voice. It is the language of the lust for money. It is mind mining. Written to those who have money and want more money. By the time it all gets to the public, it is donning a shimmery, sugary sheath of ‘save the children’.  But underneath is an ugly specter looking to suck the very souls from our schools. Enter the Eerie Era of Educational Entrepreneurships.
The Phalen Phantom strikes again and again.

The Phantom of Phalen Learning Academies: Part 2, Working the Middle-Man-Game Like Pros

The Phantom of Phalen Learning Academies: Part 3, Gleaning the Gold Dust that Seems to Magically Disappear Into Thin Air

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open letter
Education, Ohio, Opt out, Public Schools, Schools, Test Refusal

What is Your Point Pearson?

open letter

Here is the critique of the 4th grade PARCC exam  by an anonymous teacher, as it originally appeared on Celia Oyler’s blog before she was threatened by PARCC and deleted key sections.  See also my post about my tweet that was deleted  after PARCC absurdly complained to Twitter that it infringed on their copyright!

As an act of collective disobedience to the reigning testocracy, I urge all other fellow bloggers to paste the below critique and copy it into their blogs as well.

As the teacher points out below, “we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States. ”

No high-stakes test that is used to judge students, teachers and schools should be allowed to be kept secret to escape accountability for the test-makers — especially ones as flawed as these!

 

The PARCC Test: Exposed

The author of this blog posting is a public school teacher who will remain anonymous.

I will not reveal my district or my role due to the intense legal ramifications for exercising my Constitutional First Amendment rights in a public forum. I was compelled to sign a security form that stated I would not be “Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication” as this would be considered a “Security Breach.” In response to this demand, I can only ask—whom are we protecting?

There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction? Yet, that very question assumes that this test is something worth planning for. The fact is that schools that try to plan their curriculum exclusively to prepare students for this test are ignoring the body of educational research that tells us how children learn, and how to create developmentally appropriate activities to engage students in the act of learning. This article will attempt to provide evidence for these claims as a snapshot of what is happening as a result of current policies.

The PARCC test is developmentally inappropriate

In order to discuss the claim that the PARCC test is “developmentally inappropriate,” examine three of the most recent PARCC 4th grade items.

A book leveling system, designed by Fountas and Pinnell, was made “more rigorous” in order to match the Common Core State Standards. These newly updated benchmarks state that 4th Graders should be reading at a Level S by the end of the year in order to be considered reading “on grade level.” [Celia’s note: I do not endorse leveling books or readers, nor do I think it appropriate that all 9 year olds should be reading a Level S book to be thought of as making good progress.]

The PARCC, which is supposedly a test of the Common Core State Standards, appears to have taken liberties with regard to grade level texts. For example, on the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according to Scholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y (using the same Fountas and Pinnell scale).

Even by the reform movement’s own standards, according to MetaMetrics’ reference material on Text Complexity Grade Bands and Lexile Bands, the newly CCSS aligned “Stretch” lexile level of 1020 falls in the 6-8 grade range. This begs the question, what is the purpose of standardizing text complexity bands if testing companies do not have to adhere to them? Also, what is the purpose of a standardized test that surpasses agreed-upon lexile levels?

So, right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.

Finally, students must synthesize two or three of these advanced texts and compose an original essay. The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts. These are the prompts from the 2016 Spring PARCC exam for 4th Graders along with my analysis of why these prompts do not reflect the true intention of the Common Core State Standards.

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #1

Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.

  1. Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”

Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.

The above prompt probably attempts to assess the Common Core standard RL.4.5: “Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”

However, the Common Core State Standards for writing do not require students to write essays comparing the text structures of different genres. The Grade 4 CCSS for writing about reading demand that students write about characters, settings, and events in literature, or that they write about how authors support their points in informational texts. Nowhere in the standards are students asked to write comparative essays on the structures of writing. The reading standards ask students to “explain” structural elements, but not in writing. There is a huge developmental leap between explaining something and writing an analytical essay about it. [Celia’s note: The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures in elementary school – a 1940’s and 50’s college English approach called “New Criticism” — is ridiculous for 9 year olds anyway.]

The PARCC does not assess what it attempts to assess

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #2

Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.

 Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.

It would be a stretch to say that this question assesses CCSS W.4.9.B: “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.”

In fact, this prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles. Even CCSS W.4.7, “Conduct research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic,” does not demand that students compile information from different sources to create an essay. The closest the standards come to demanding this sort of work is in the reading standards; CCSS RI.4.9 says: “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. One could argue that this PARCC prompt assesses CCSS RI.4.9.

However, the fact that the texts presented for students to “use” for the essay are at a middle school reading level automatically disqualifies this essay prompt from being able to assess what it attempts to assess. (It is like trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem with words that the child cannot read.)

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #3

  1. In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.

Clearly, these questions are poorly designed assessments of 4th graders CCSS learning. (We are setting aside the disagreements we have with those standards in the first place, and simply assessing the PARCC on its utility for measuring what it was intended to measure.)

Rather than debate the CCSS we instead want to expose the tragic reality of the countless public schools organizing their entire instruction around trying to raise students’ PARCC scores.

Without naming any names, I can tell you that schools are disregarding research-proven methods of literacy learning. The “wisdom” coming “down the pipeline” is that children need to be exposed to more complex texts because that is what PARCC demands of them. So children are being denied independent and guided reading time with texts of high interest and potential access and instead are handed texts that are much too hard (frustration level) all year long without ever being given the chance to grow as readers in their Zone of Proximal Development (pardon my reference to those pesky educational researchers like Vygotsky.)

So not only are students who are reading “on grade level” going to be frustrated by these so-called “complex texts,” but newcomers to the U.S. and English Language Learners and any student reading below the proficiency line will never learn the foundational skills they need, will never know the enjoyment of reading and writing from intrinsic motivation, and will, sadly, be denied the opportunity to become a critical reader and writer of media. Critical literacies are foundational for active participation in a democracy.

We can look carefully at one sample to examine the health of the entire system– such as testing a drop of water to assess the ocean. So too, we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States.

In this sample, the system is pathetically failing a generation of children who deserve better, and when they are adults, they may not have the skills needed to engage as citizens and problem-solvers. So it is up to us, those of us who remember a better way and can imagine a way out, to make the case for stopping standardized tests like PARCC from corrupting the educational opportunities of so many of our children.

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Education, Ohio, Schools, Uncategorized

Colorless, Cold Kindergarten

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This was/is a “catalyst” KINDERGARTEN classroom in Mentor, Ohio (pic from 2014). This picture truly gives me the chills. It is void of anything vibrant, enticing, or living. It is so deathly dismal grey. It is so opposite of how my 4-5s classroom looks— gratefully! The above appears to me like children have been implanted into some unnatural, doldrum business office setting. It looks like kinders sitting in on some corporate board (bored) meeting.

This is Tom Vander Ark’s ‘branchild.’ He ultimately sees classrooms just like this,  with minimal amounts of teachers who would be translated into “facilitators.” Their jobs would be to guide the children towards online programs which would suit children’s individualized learning plans. The teachers are to become robotic sales clerks essentially for all of the products Vander Ark has for sale related to online learning. Information in turn would be documented at each and every keystroke, into the students’ “digital portfolio backpacks.”

I defy this “disruptive innovation,” though I do think the ‘disruptive’ part of the name is very apropos. Children, and their love for learning has been my life since I was a 13 years old, when I began teaching cooking and craft classes for our local YWCA. I am a half a century (plus two) years old and have taught hundreds of children of all ages, in a variety of settings over four decades. The learning  pictured above (and discussed in this accompanying article) is, to say the least, lackluster. To me it is outright nightmarish, and sends shivers down my spine when I think of this being spread everywhere. It is all being packaged and sold with all of these alluring word pictures that paint it as though it is education ultimate utopia. But, I know literally hundreds of teachers who would agree with me in a heartbeat, that this is cold and lifeless; not at all conducive to how the whole child learns and develops. It is a sterile environment that strips away and stifles multi-faceted, dynamic, dimensional learning.

I could fill this blog with citation after reference after article link with research, but I do not think all of that is necessary. I think the opinions I am about to share are obvious and observable anywhere really, with any age group. But for the sake of this blog we will stay with the early learners.

The greatest contrast I can offer from just the other day, in my own PreK class, was that my 4s and 5s were able to play MahJonng on my tablet. We have had the real game in the class since the beginning of the year. I bought it at a garage sale years ago for $4. (I believe the tiles might be real ivory.) The kids mastered the smooth fingering and sliding of the tablet in seconds really. Their bodies grow very still while they play the online game (I think their minds do also.)  After two days, they grew bored of it all, even with 16 set ups for the play, 8 designs of tiles, and choices of background music. The actual game itself, has been a hit in my classroom for months. Some children enjoy just building with the tiles. Some actually set up the game which in and of itself is intellectually challenging, and many more than one or two can play simultaneously. Some children love the sounds those tiles make when they are poured out or clacked together (which is why I do believe they are possibly ivory because they do not sound at all like plastic). Some children made a weighing game and compared them with other toys. Some like running their fingers on the engravings and one little gal traced them on paper. Some do a domino line with them. Some count them. Some match them in a memory game. They play and play and play with those MahJonng tiles in a very engaged educational manner.

I could go on for hours truly about all of the reasons I am so against all of this “technology” being impelled into our young children’s lives. But, for all of the specific examples I could give, it all seems to boil down to this main notion: I have never seen a child not be able to work a computer once such was made available. Their age or prior experience did not seem to matter. But, I have seen far, far too many children (unto teens and even young adults) who could not do some of the most simple of  tasks. Tasks that play into every day life on many levels. Like, using scissors for one example.

The ‘press and play’ results that come about via video games, in front of computer screens or on any hand-held devices, remind me of the pop-up boxes we put in front of crawling babies. The tot presses the blue button and the duck pops up; the green button produces a dog. The baby closes the 4 lids and then can do the same thing all over again. That to me is how much thinking is required to use computers. You press this and this happens. You click on this and this appears. Close the laptop and open it and you can do the same thing all over again. It is all very one-dimensional.

For the project pictured above, they choose a teacher and a class and stick them into a one-way mirrored glass classroom (interrogation room look, or what?) and give them a bunch of “free” technology. Everyone is invited to watch how ‘innovating’ they are. Then the teacher is given $10,000 to spend in his/her classroom on equipment.

As a PreK teacher in NE Ohio, I make $9 an hour, so just a bit more annually than the ‘barbed-hook-sales-pitch’ the “Catalyst”program offers. I would give my eye teeth without Novocaine for  folks to view what all “innovation” occurred in my classroom yesterday and then reward me ten thousand dollars for classroom equipment and I assure you it would not be on software.

We have been for two weeks doing a unit theme on “shoes.” Our house center was converted into a Shoe Shop with 4 of the actual clunky metal foot measuring rulers. We had a variety of stickers, signs and price tags from actual shoe stores. Our little drawer-opening cash register took toy debit/credit cards, that made beeping noises when scanned. Shoes of all types and sizes were “for sale.” There were name badges which had super strong magnets in order for the children to be able to clip them onto their shirts. The children on their own rearranged it all so that doll strollers could be pushed in. They also came up with some kind of PA system to announce sales, created this elaborate price scanning system, and invented a phone system.

Our sensory table (since I could not really think of one that matched our shoe theme) held salt, and sprinklings of other herbs and spices. I had super cleaned out my spice cupboard and gave them all of those different size empty containers (unwashed, so they were still very aromatic). They spent hours on end, fitting the different lids on and off, and cooking a ton of recipes they were making up.  The table for the entire two weeks ALWAYS had three children around it, interacting, sharing, weighing, pouring, sorting, sifting, categorizing, smelling, discussing, dividing, stacking, matching, measuring, feeling, and THINKING. Seriously, I should have videoed all of the ways they played when it first was opened to them.

Just yesterday alone, the supplies in the art center that were used by the children were staplers, liquid glue, glue sticks, 3 kinds of tape, hole punchers, scissors (all kinds of scissors actually), playdough, rolling pins, cookie cutters, plastic knives, quilling strips and tools, wax sticks (Benderoos), 7 kinds (textures) of paper, tempera paints, watercolor paints, finger paints, crayons, markers, pencils, chalk, stamps and ink pads, easel, 4 kinds of paintbrushes, Q-tips, popsicle sticks, rulers, straws, paperclips, and several other miscellaneous items I am sure I am forgetting to list. Talk about innovation—the things they thought to make and do were so creative, useful, fun, big, little, colorful, symmetric, asymmetric, spontaneous, planned, and surprising. Individual, and collaborative efforts occurred.

Out of our window, we watched birds and squirrels with their spring antics. We were quiet and still for the longest of time, schnuggling and just watching.  They plunked logs into puddles during one of our THREE recess times outside. The childlings of their own volition, made some kind of splash/balancing board and in some innocent competition, measured whose arc of mud went the highest or the widest, easily creating 5 foot mud rainbows, dependent on how they landed on the board when they jumped. A block tower inside was built taller than I am (5’4″) and that was, of course, without them being able to stand on chairs. How did they get the last ones on top? I’ll never tell their cooperative trade secrets. Perhaps one could search for the answers online using a flat, smooth surface.

Truly, who thinks GREY is a kindergarten color anyways? That is likely last on my list.

mud

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Brittany's letter
Education, Ohio, Opt out, Public Schools, Schools, Test Refusal

Email to the Education Committee

Brittany's letter

I am sharing because I believe doing so strengthens others.
My email to the Ed Committee about HB420.

Dear Members of the Ohio House Education Committee,

I am writing in response to Amended HB420. The proposal to criminalize what should be in the realm of free speech and academic freedom for Ohio’s educators is misguided at best.

I am not sure exactly when it happened, but it does appear that many legislators lack trust in our educators. Instead of trusting the judgement and discernment of educators as professionals, this proposal hamstrings the very work they dedicate their lives to doing. It is their job to educate. It is their job to put the well-being of their students above all else. These are the very people who should be advocating for whatever their students may need, up to and including the refusing of any standardized test.

Educators should not have to choose between doing the job they were called to do and maintaining their livelihood. It is counterintuitive to suggest that stifling educators will somehow enrich or further the goals of their students. The work of teaching and learning is relational.

I find it ironic that during the week in which school choice is being celebrated nationwide, this body is entertaining legislation that undermines parents’ ability to choose whether or not their child(ren) will participate in standardized tests.

As a professional educator, I understand the fine line I must walk within the walls of my classroom or otherwise in my contractual time. But beyond those hours, I am quite active in a number of education organizations. I give my personal time because I love my profession and I love my students. I firmly stand behind any parent who chooses to refuse standardized tests for their child(ren).

I am asking you to trust in my professionalism, and that of my colleagues. I am asking you to respect the decision of the parents who refuse testing. For whatever the reason.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter,
Brittany Alexander
Ohio educator

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Day 14
Uncategorized

50 Days Worth of Blogs About ‘Tornadic’ Tom Vander Ark: Day 14

Day 14

Tom Vander Ark must think he is some kind of Greek God. The destruction he causes is in his mind somehow is his right or duty to mankind; never mind the abject effects on men (women and children), communities, cities or whole entire states.

He cleverly disguises his demolition of public education in geek talk – “Mentioning “disruptive innovation” adds a veneer of sophistication to bread-and-butter speeches about education…” (economist.com)  He storms on completely oblivious to the damage from the death blows he deals daily.

I really think that the way he skirts mentally around the mass exodus of teachers (irreparable complete brain drain on education), the repeated reported mass failures and closures of charters, and the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of organizations and parents forming the largest ever groups of civil disobedience in education history, is by convincing himself that it is all for the good and the betterment of country. I am not lying when I say I think he has some major personality disorder(s) and psychological hang-ups. He lives in some self-formed world of denial of the real repercussions reeling all around him, and in some twisted sick manner actually takes all of the negative outcome of his efforts as that he is being successful at “disruptive innovation” which is one of his all time favorite overused phrases. The whole twenty years that he has skinned education alive he has never once stopped to express remorse or regret for the lives he has ruined.

“A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.” (wikipedia.com)
I am sorry to tell you teachers, but you all are an “earlier technology” in Tom’s plans.

“Disruptive innovation, a term of art coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.” (claytonchristensen.com) Tom worships this fellow!

Here TVA quotes Christensen’s nonprofit think tank Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, Cofounder Michael Horn : “These struggles aren’t unique to education. Businesses struggle consistently with the innovator’s dilemma—the ability to prioritize disruptive innovations that would cannibalize their existing business,” (gettingsmart.com) Michael Horn is another one that Tom worships.

“Expanding on the notion of “disruptive,” Horn said that schools’ standard practices and measures would need to change to incorporate blended learning. Seat-time requirements for students, geographic boundaries limiting the sources of online subject matter, teacher certification, and funding are some of the conventions and practices that would be disrupted.” (crpe.org)

In this 4 year old article, http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2011/12/18/small-and-nimble-also-key/ Tom Braggart Ark talks about his small business companies will trump larger companies’ abilities to be a disruptive force in the education market.  “First, big companies are “less comfortable with disruptive innovation.” It’s likely to be the case that the big players will focus on incremental innovations and that the really disruptive stuff will come from the edges. And, second, the Economist suggests that progress tends to come from growth companies regardless of whether they are big or start small. No question that we’ll see more innovation from Edmodo than HMH.” (Edmodo is supposedly a non-profit company in underneath Tom Vander Ark’s 48 companies housed all business-like in a row under his Learn Capital,LLC.)

“Students currently enjoy powerful technology that continuously assesses skill and interest and customizes content delivery. Unfortunately it occurs after school when they play games. Clayton Christensen and colleagues describe how disruptive technologies will personalize and, as a result, revolutionize learning. Every education leader should read this book, set aside their next staff meeting to discuss it, and figure out how than can be part of the improvement wave to come.”
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Day 13
Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools

50 Days Worth of Blogs About ‘Tornadic’ Tom Vander Ark: Day 13

Day 13

LINKS ARE IN BOLD PRINT!

Getting Smart…..Tom Vander Ark’s big big thing. The only problem is that one little letter is out of place. The “S” in Smart. ANY of Tom Vander Ark’s writings or ideas need that “S” on the end not at the beginning. Getting MartS. Oh wait, one more detail. Pierce the “S” with a stick. Getting Mart$. And in the instance of Tom who is the lover of Tom so much so that daily it is his name and his trumped up credentials that he types more than anything else, so we have to put TOM in it. Getting Tom Mart$. There now we have the reeking reality of his virtual ventures.

I was doing so good daily posting exposures about Tom Vander Ark. I was getting into a rhythm of being able to break things down into topics and just present one part at a time. But, I was interrupted by hell week in education in Ohio. In matter of a little over 36 hours, my city, Youngstown, Ohio was sold into the market place. A non-union market place. Several TomMart$ will be built. The fast and furious rushed-through legislation had obviously been transcribed ‘behind the scenes’ quite a while ago; the dictation is to be model legislation for other TomMart$ Takeovers in Ohio and can be found circulated in almost verbatim manner in too many other states. (I bet if I had the time and energy to put towards it, I could prove that in fact it is close to this tier in all states). Check your state for any of the names of companies, entities, corporations or connections written in this blog series, it might take you a bit but you WILL FIND him.

In one same brief time frame window (the last week in June), our ALEC-founder Governor let it be known that he will announce presidential candidacy on July 21st. #NeverVote4Kasich.  While a crucial charter accountability bill just ooops never really made it all the way on the schedule, other bills slid in budgets made very exacting lopsided proposals for TomMart$ (charters, community schools, blended schools, non-profit schools, online schools, and so on would go the AKAs), PARCC was taken down and Florida’s Jeb Bush’s bullshit AIR put up. No voice of the people. Sheer reform control drove all of this. TomMART$ voice drove it all except for the candidacy announcement. It was preDICTATED.

Throughout this whole round after round of machine gun fire to PUBLIC schools, I kept feeling ‘this is Tom’. ‘Tom is doing this.’ ‘This is directly relates to what I am researching about Tom.’ ‘This is all of pages and pages of research about Tom in government actions right in front of my eyes.’ But, then I would shake off the feelings and think to myself– ‘No, no one person— no one person could be this powerful.’ ‘No one person could cause this level of destruction.’ ‘No one person could dictate this diatribe of destructive directional changes.’ ‘No one person could be this calculating and cold.’ ‘This is America in 2015’ I told myself. One man’s ideas could never dominate and destroy a backbone social institution to this depth. We are a democracy. We vote. Our Voice not One Voice is the American way.

And then the bomb dropped. The Tom bomb. Tom is not only in my state here and there at a handful of schools as I thought. I was going to spend several blogs revealing as though warning that he was coming through Reynoldsburg, Mentor, and Columbus schools. BUT TOM IS HERE. TOM MART$ are here. (Tom the sixth letter of the alphabet expletive ending in -ing) ‘Tornado’ is here. This article was posted in Ohio. iNACOL is Tom. Tom is iNACOL. TomDoom is upon us.

Here is where OHIO is mentioned in the article:

“Ohio Passes Pilot Program for Competency-based Education – Ohio continues to push innovation in helping schools modernize teaching and learning. The budget provides $1 million per year for up to five districts or schools to receive up to $200,000 each for a competency-based education pilot program. The program will begin with planning in the 2015-2016 school year and implementation for three years after that. With this and other efforts already underway in the state, Ohio is working to bring the current one-size-fits-all education system towards a student-based approach, with flexible pacing for student instruction and credit decisions based on competency rather than seat time. The Ohio Budget Bill contains the language on the competency-based education pilot program. Most of the language on the pilot are in the following sections: 263.280, 733.30. (A), and 3317.23. (A).

A summary is below; a more detailed version with additional legislative information is available in the members-only iNACOL Member Forums. We track policy priorities and issues related to the field’s needs as outlined annually in the iNACOL State Policy Frameworks. This report provides background information and recommendations for issues on the critical policy shifts needed to transform K-12 education.”

I was prepared for writing and posting the next two blogs in this series with about twenty four links opened in the two windows and two full pages of notes in OneNote. And now I feel as though I have had the wind knocked completely out of me.  I feel I can not go fast enough, big enough, detailed enough, or long enough to let you know the pervasiveness of TVA’s goals for his TomMART$

iNACOL stands for the International Association of K-12 Online Learning. Tom is currently the treasurer and was at one point the president, but mostly he describes himself as being a DIRECTOR of iNACOL. Typical of anything Tom has his hands in, it is difficult to draw a complete picture of what all is connected and falls ‘underneath’ iNACOL’s directorship. As with all the other groups that Tom ‘directs’. most of what comes up when you search iNACOL are things Tom has written; and if he did not write them, they contain things that he was among the first to be saying or has obviously delegated/demanded that they type. This fact alone of how powerful and present iNACOL is,  would be something he would consider as a boast and it would prove to him that his grand scale compulsion is successfully penetrating what he considers a fossilized social institution. He has financially finagled and egotistically engineered a very exact way and plan  to completely dominate anything written on the topic of education reform.

I am saying flat-out that he intends to change the world. He is almost at an insane level of compulsion in his goal. And he is thoroughly convinced he has the good and right way of it all, and alludes to it all being a “calling” in his life. A ‘God mission’ for which he has been exclusively chosen. And he is succeeding. In his pomposity he, as this self-proclaimed visionary pioneer, TVA is blind to the pain, problems, and poisonous results of his upward ever-broadening spiral surge to his personal summit. He is so maniacal that he is not seeing the negative human factor erasure effects (a blog on that subject later). And if he does see them, he thinks it is all sacrificially necessary. He is in a most deliberate manner killing public schools and the profession of teaching.

From legislation down to the smallest (constant) online plugs for his companies (remember he owns 48 just under the one name of one of his numerous non-profit entities Learn Capital,LLC). iNACOL is his equivalent of air raids of innocent citizenry.

iNACOL is ALEC on a more laser-beamed focus. It is model legislation being methodically pushed upon our state governments. The laws being put in place are securing for TVA the paths by which he will pave paradise and put up his TomMART$.

Tom’s obsessive compulsive goal is to carry ALL PUBLIC SCHOOLS to a place where they can be “charterized” ( yes, I made that word up because cauterized is truly more like what it actually is) into PRIVATE SECTORS with the private sectors under CEOs control of boards which he directs and trains through several of his other non-profit organizations so that he can implement blended schooling (a partial version of his idea) which in turn is the platform on which he can build his TomMART$. His brain scheme ultimate goal, is that every single student (55 million children) in the United States, will have their OWN PERSONALIZED EDUCATION. If you have ever used PANDORA, that is what he shoots for  it to resemble. (so it will be adaptive to each child’s learner needs), with the basics reading, writing, and arithmetic defined by what…. can anyone guess?  Yes, the STANDARDS. Common Core, or better still AIR (his buddy Jeb Bush’s FEE bit). *Much more on all of this in other blogs to come. I wonder at this point if 50 Blogs will be enough space.

dictator (n.) Look up dictator at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Latin dictator, agent noun from dictare (see dictate (v.)). Transferred sense of “one who has absolute power or authority” in any sphere is from c. 1600. In Latin use, a dictator was a judge in the Roman republic temporarily invested with absolute power.

From Latin dictātor (“a chief magistrate”), from dictō (“dictate, prescribe”), from dīcō (“say, speak”).

Surface analysis is dictate +‎ -or (“(agent)”) “one who dictates”. (wiktionary)

Tom Vander Ark is completing controlling the social media and any and all think tanks related to reform.

Tom Vander Ark is in absolute terms dictating reform. Tom Vander Ark is the DICTATOR of REFORM.Day 13Day 13

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