Jeb Bush offends minority milk in education speech

From the Miami News Times, By Kyle Munzenrieder

Last night, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush addressed the Republican National Convention on the topic of eduction. Well, education and milk. He talked a lot about milk, and how many different types of milk there are. Even during a night in which an old man talked to an empty chair on national television, Jeb’s milk obsession stood out.

Here is the critical milk portion of Jeb’s speech:
Go down any supermarket aisle — you’ll find an incredible selection of milk.

You can get whole milk, 2 percent milk, low-fat milk or skim milk. Organic milk, and milk with extra Vitamin D.

There’s flavored milk — chocolate, strawberry or vanilla — and it doesn’t even taste like milk.

They even make milk for people who can’t drink milk.
Now, before we move on, we would just like to FACT CHECK one portion of this excerpt. You can in fact NOT find milk in any supermarket aisle. You can usually only find it in the dairy aisle. Just trying to keep them honest. That’s what we in the media are here for folks.

That being said, if you will allow us to editorialize here for a moment, we are generally concerned that Jeb only mentioned those well known milks. The mainstream milks if you will. But what of those minority milks you never here about? Is this not America? Should not every milk be counted? Even those on the bottom shelf?

Because Jeb decided to apply his dairy elitism, Riptide would like to shine a light on those forgotten milks who apparently were left out of the “big tent” of the modern Republican party.

Powdered milk
Goat’s milk
Soy milk
1% milk
Cookies and Cream flavored milk
Almond milk
Condensed milk
Breast milk
rBST free milk
Rice milk
Hemp milk
The 2008 Academy Award winning film, Milk
Banana flavored milk
Milk of magnesia
Milk shakes
Evaporated milk
Banana flavored milk
UHT milk
M.I.L.K., a Korean pop girl group
Raw milk
Camel’s milk
Boiled milk
Muscle Milk (yeah, bro)
The 1989 Red Hot Chili Pepper’s album, Mother’s Milk

Is Jeb Bush Clueless or completely clueless

Last night during his blame the teacher’s union education speech, where he went on and on about his debunked Florida miracle he said a lot of things that were either wrong or self serving but what got me the most was when he compared education to buying milk.

(paraphrased) Look at when you go to the grocery store and you walk down the milk aisle, you have 2%, low fat, vitamin D, chocolate, strawberry, and whole milk too, why can’t choosing a school for our children be like that.

First education is a bit more complicated and nuanced than buying milk, to compare the two is more than a little insulting but far more important is educating our children is a solemn trust, an important duty that one generation does for the next. It shouldn’t be diluted and fractured, splintered to the four winds or outsourced to people seeking to profit off our children something the Bush family has done.

Friends the evidence is coming in, vouchers don’t work, charter schools aren’t better, standardized testing does not make better students, value added evaluations lie, merit pay judges the students in a class not the teacher of that class and school choice is just a fancy way of saying, somebody is going to get rich off your child.

The truth is public education despite its warts is the best thing going and it is a society that is okay that 20% of our kids live in poverty and another 20% just above it, that is letting our schools down, not the other way around.

Education is the same as buying milk, and this guy was a governor, people listen to him? Sheesh!!!

America comes in 24th

From the Diane Ravitch blog:

Economist magazine has published a major international survey of early childhood education.

The survey establishes the importance of early childhood education, which is supported by extensive research.

It says: “This Index assumes that all children, regardless of their background, legal status and ability to pay, have a right to affordable, quality preschool provision.”

Then, it ranks 45 nations by their provision of early childhood education.

The United States is #24, tied with the United Arab Emirates.

Can we expect to see editorials across the U.S. about this shockingly poor performance?

Can we expect to see a Hollywood film–documentary or fictionalized–about this shameful statistic?

Will we soon hear reformers insisting that all three- and four-year-olds should be able to participate in a high-quality program that has well-prepared and credentialed teachers and small class sizes?

Now that’s a reform movement we could all support.

In This World Ranking, We Are #24

Why TFA and KIPP can’t be trusted

From the Diane Ravitch blog,

Michael Paul Goldenberg explains why progressives are suspicious of KIPP and TFA:

There are a couple of key issues that seem to arise (or sit just below the surface) in nearly every conversation about educational policy these days. No one who is critical of the school deform movement (in which I squarely place KIPP and TFA) thinks that because poverty is such a devastating factor that no one should try to create better schools with great teachers, and in other ways to improve education for the nearly 25% of American children living below the poverty line. It’s grossly unfair to suggest that in criticizing deformers, their motives, and their policies, Diane Ravitch and many others are saying, “Until poverty is addressed, do nothing about education.”

KIPP, TFA, and other programs may well have started out as well-intentioned attempts to make things better for underserved students, schools, and neighborhoods despite poverty. But they have morphed over time into fiscal and social conservative models for how to create miracles without needing to address critical social and economic issues. Whether that transformation reflects the political views of those running these programs or simply represents mission slip combined with the influx of capital from those who saw an opportunity to promote panaceas meant to convince politicians and the general public that obviously most public schools were horrible (and please note, this analysis slyly shifts tactics by starting with the neediest, most disadvantaged schools and communities but then creating policies like NCLB that are guaranteed to make the vast majority of public schools appear to be “failing” because of doubtful criteria and truly crazy mathematics). Once the notion that “US public schools are failing” becomes accepted common wisdom, the financial vultures move in with a host of projects that are almost entirely about making a profit from a crisis. This is the way disaster capitalism operates.

So maybe KIPP, TFA, and other magic bullets are “pure of heart,” but looking at them over time, it appears reasonable to start picking at all the ways in which they have become cult-like, absurdly self-promoting, creating and/or believing all the hype that arises about them, and desperately denying any and all criticism raised about what they’re actually doing. And so we hear some people suggesting that these are examples of people really doing something good, really making a difference, and being unfairly bashed by mean-spirited critics like Diane Ravitch.

Two points I have to try to make here. First, KIPP et al., will look either like pawns or frauds as long as they are so unwilling to recognize their role in a national crisis that goes far beyond schools, one that is fundamentally about the concentration of unprecedented wealth and power in the hands of the few coupled with unprecedented levels of poverty and need among a scandalously high percentage of the nation. They fight so hard to stave off reasonable questions and criticism that I can’t see how Schorr expects people not to continue to get a clearer picture of what’s behind the hype.

But perhaps at least as important is the TYPE of education KIPP provides, the kind of teaching TFA promotes, and what that means for students. On my view, KIPP is a very regressive philosophy. It’s “work hard, be nice” mantra sounds wonderful to many people, but to me, given that KIPP is working mostly with poor students of color, it sounds very much like “get back in your place. Don’t complain. Do what you’re told.” And given that there is so much emphasis on chanting, rote, and in general the sort of bunch o’ facts education that none of its wealthy backers and cheerleaders would EVER accept for themselves or their children, it feels racist, classist, and reactionary: designed to ensure that inner-city students of color and poverty are pacified with marginal and minimal skills that will not lead them to satisfying, challenging lives with competitive salaries. Frankly, I would scream if my son were in a KIPP-style school, and so would most educated parents.

I can’t possibly develop this argument completely here, but I hope I’ve raised a couple of key points that will get some folks who don’t understand why there is a great deal of animus towards KIPP, TFA, and other projects coming from progressives. We want a better analysis of the social/economic justice issues to inform the debate. And we want a better kind of education for all students, not just those whose parents can afford Sidwell-Friends and the like. The day President Obama puts his daughters in a KIPP school or one staffed with TFA novices is the day I’ll start considering that he really believes those are fine approaches to education.

Why Progressives Distrust KIPP and TFA

Republican leaders pile on public education

From, by Félix Pérez

Today is the third and final day of the Republican National Convention (nominee Mitt Romney delivers his acceptance speech tonight), and keynote speakers at the gathering and the party’s newly adopted platform spared little opportunity to heap blistering criticism on public education, educators and the unions that represent them.

Leading the way in bashing public education and teacher unions was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has a national reputation for shouting down teachers and voters in public forums. Christie reused the approach that backfired on Bob Dole when he ran unsuccessfully for president in 1996, namely, seeking to drive a wedge between teachers and the unions of which they are members and on which they rely to have a voice in the classroom.

“They said it was impossible to speak the truth to the teachers union. They were just too powerful. Real teacher tenure reform that demands accountability and ends the guarantee of a job for life regardless of performance would never happen.” He went on, “They [Democrats] believe in pitting unions against teachers, educators against parents, and lobbyists against children.”

Again, playing to the argument that teachers are separate and apart from the unions that they themselves created and lead, Christie narrowed his eyes, looked sternly into the camera and said, “They believe in teachers unions. We believe in teachers.”

Education Week blogger and retired North Carolina special education teacher John Wilson said Christie is no friend of teachers.

Governor Christie, diminishing pension benefits does not demonstrate a belief in teachers. Raising class sizes so that the rich can have lower taxes than the middle class — which includes educators — does not benefit teachers. Freezing or, even worse, cutting salaries is not a gift that teachers welcome. Refusing to fund education for our kids and claiming that money does not matter is not a believable argument for teachers. No, Governor Christie, you and your fellow Republicans have not shown the respect for teachers that they deserve.

Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan spent the bulk of his remarks last night shredding President Barack Obama, steering clear of offering specific proposals on what he and Romney would do about education and failing to mention his budget proposal, which would impose severe cuts on education, health care and other programs and services that serve students and children.

Romney has hailed Ryan’s budget as a “bold and exciting effort” that is “very much consistent with what I put out earlier.”

Fox News and the National Journal were among the news outlets that questioned the truthfulness of Ryan’s remarks. Fox news writer Sally Kohn wrote, “Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.” National Journal wrote: “Facts matter. Ryan ignored them, and thus loses moral authority . . .”

Other speakers featured at the convention were governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio. Both men have spearheaded efforts to slash funding to schools and take away the right of educators to speak out on behalf of their students through collective bargaining.

The platform approved at the convention by the party and the Romney-Ryan ticket remained true to longtime education proposals that do not reflect what educators know firsthand works best for students.

Diverting money from public schools for private school vouchers retained its central status. “School choice — whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits — is important for all children . . .”

Also trotted out anew was the GOP’s preference for allowing states to decide how to spend federal funds targeted at poor students and students with disabilities, an approach that ignores the historic and current trend among many states to cut funding for education services for children with special needs.

Who is picking the next superintendent? Gary Chartrand or the school board

I find it very interesting that Nickolai Vitti didn’t apply for the Pinellas County superintendent position. Quite frankly they are in much better shape than we are. Now it could be that he really likes a challenge but I suspect it is something else, make that someone else, Gary Chartrand.

Gray Chartrand isn’t about fixing the problems in public education he is about privatizing public education and because of this I believe he is one of the most dangerous men around, however he is also one of the most influential men around too.

Despite the fact he has never been a teacher or as far as I can tell ever worked in a school, he runs the Chartrand foundation a sort of education think tank, he is on the board of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, the State Board of Education and he also ran his protégé Ashley Juarez-Smith for school board. Just for grins and giggles he was instrumental in bringing both KIPP and TFA to town as well. He is huge in education circles in Jacksonville and Florida, the same circles that often excludes and blame teachers for things beyond their control and is seeking to privatize public education.

To give you an idea about what he does and doesn’t believe in, Mr. Chartrand doesn’t believe in smaller class sizes, teaching experience and is a big fan of merit pay and standardized tests, in affect he goes with his gut rather than evidence or the thoughts of teachers.

The rumor on the street is that Vitti waited to apply for the Jacksonville position because of his close ties to Chartrand and because Chartrand often dictates to the school board what they should and should not do. If this rumor is true then it is something we should all be concerned about.

Jax superintendent candidate Kriner Cash lauded and criticized

From the Charlotte Observor, by By Andrew Dunn

There’s no doubt that Kriner Cash, superintendent of Memphis City Schools, is strong-willed and reform-minded.

He has brought in tens of millions in grant money. And he has been making some academic progress in the historically poor-performing district since taking the job in 2008.

But the urban school district’s polarizing merger with suburban Shelby County schools means he would bring some baggage with him to North Carolina, should he be selected Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ superintendent.

Supporters say he has modernized the Memphis district’s business operations, improved graduation rates, initiated groundbreaking management policies and kept money in the classroom despite budget cuts. But others note that progress has been slow, and question his handling of recent controversies.

“Dr. Cash has come in with some extraordinarily ambitious goals. … And he certainly has some great successes,” school board member David Pickler said. “Unfortunately, there has not been the level of actual change exhibited.”

Cash’s candidacy comes as his future in Memphis is uncertain. A year ago, the Memphis City Schools board extended Cash’s contract through August 2013, when the consolidation is expected to finish.

At the time, he made it clear that he would not stay with the district if he weren’t chosen for the top job.

“I cannot report to anybody,” Cash said, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Cash did not return a phone message seeking comment.

‘New day’ in Memphis

Cash was the Memphis board’s unanimous choice to lead the district, which is 92 percent minority students, and he brought with him a reform agenda based on best-practices management and data.

“A new day is dawning for Memphis City Schools,” Cash said on his selection day, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Starting today, the sun is going to shine for the whole world to see on the mighty bluff of Tennessee.”

He’s had some success.

The district’s graduation rate hit 73 percent in 2011, up from 62 percent two years before, and test scores have inched up as well.

Cash was also key in securing a seven-year, $90 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Memphis district also won $70 million in the federal Race to the Top competition.

And last May, President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Memphis’s Booker T. Washington High School after the school won a national competition for the honor.

Handling missteps

One of Cash’s signature accomplishments, however, is controversial – as are a few of his stances and his handling of a number of high-profile missteps among those who work for him.

Cash pushed for a new teacher evaluation system that draws from a model piloted in Washington, D.C., schools. It evaluates teachers on 11 areas during 15-minute observations. It’s meant to provide a more nuanced view of quality in teaching, but critics say it dampens creativity and leads to widespread firings.

A few months after Obama’s visit, Cash defended the school’s principal after it came to light that she had been suspended in 2009 for altering students’ test scores and attendance records.

Most recently, Cash’s second-in-command was forced to step down after an incident at a party to celebrate Cash’s bid for the top post in the combined school district.

During the Feb. 18 bring-your-own-beverage party, Deputy Superintendent Irving Hamer reportedly made comments about the breast size of a secretary. After an investigation, Hamer resigned, though he will be allowed to work at the district through April 30.

“There was a certain degree of tone-deafness (by Cash) I thought that exhibited,” Pickler said.

Read more here:

Memphis polls yield low grades for Jacksonville superintendent candidate Kriner Cash

From the Charlotte Observor, by Ann Doss Helms

This is a story they wrote about him when he was applying for their superintendnet position.

Most teachers and staff of Memphis City Schools gave Superintendent Kriner Cash below-average grades in a survey released while Cash was in Charlotte auditioning for the superintendent’s job.

The random-sample email poll of employees was commissioned by a panel overseeing the merger of Cash’s urban district with the suburban Shelby County Schools. A report says it was done to identify “confusion and concern” among employees of the two districts.

Cash, one of three finalists to be superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, got an A for overall job performance from 3.5 percent of the 1,225 Memphis City Schools staff, mostly teachers, who responded. He got a B from 14 percent, a C from 30 percent, a D from 22 percent and an F from 26 percent (some did not answer that question). The survey has a 2.9 percent margin of error for city schools employees, according to a report posted late last week by the Shelby County Transition Planning Commission.

A March phone survey of just over 1,200 members of the public in Memphis and the surrounding county yielded similar grades for Cash.

Cash and the president of the Memphis teachers’ union both said Monday they don’t believe the staff survey accurately represents the views of the district’s 16,000 employees.

“There’s a lot of anxiety in the climate right now, but it is not reflective of my leadership,” Cash said.

Like teachers in CMS, those in Memphis have faced job cuts and a new system of rating teacher effectiveness based on “value-added” test score numbers, classroom observations and other factors. But those in Memphis also face the looming merger with the smaller Shelby County district.

Cash said “you’re not going to win popularity contests” while trying to make a “sea change” in the culture of low-performing schools. But he said his recently deceased wife was a longtime teacher and he values that work.
“I have the highest respect for good teachers,” Cash said. “Everything I do is with teachers at the helm.”

Keith Williams, president of the Memphis Education Association, said he thinks the survey was designed to ensure that Cash isn’t chosen to lead the merged district. Memphis serves mostly black and low-income students, while Shelby County Schools are predominantly white and not as poor. Williams said the Transition Planning Commission has “really overreached the bounds” of its mission and is “trying to destroy Dr. Cash.”

Employees of both districts, but especially Shelby County Schools, gave county Superintendent John Aitken more favorable grades than Cash’s.

Williams described Cash as personable and a good listener who lets teachers have a voice in change. “I would think that Charlotte would benefit greatly from someone of his expertise and skill levels to bring people together,” he said.

Cash, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Chief Academic Officer Ann Clark and Heath Morrison, superintendent in Reno, Nev., spoke at a series of public forums and had private interviews with the school board last week. The board is scheduled to meet again Wednesday and Thursday in closed session.

Whether the Memphis survey would affect the CMS decision wasn’t clear Monday. Board Chairman Ericka Ellis-Stewart and Vice Chairman Mary McCray couldn’t be reached for comment. Neither could Randolph Frierson, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators, who helped interview candidates last week.

Judy Kidd, president of the Classroom Teachers Association, has voiced support for Clark as “the only person who can hit the ground running to get this district moving forward.” Her group emailed members urging them to support Clark in an online poll being conducted by the research/advocacy group MeckEd. As of Monday evening it had garnered almost 1,700 responses, 75 percent supporting Clark. Morrison got 13 percent, and Cash 11 percent.

Read more here:

Is the fix in for Superintendent Applicant, Nikolai Vitti

When the county first started to look for a new superintendent, about two years too late if you ask me, I thought we should target the number 2 person from a district like Miami Dade, Tampa or Charlotte, an up and comer from a district that has a similar size and demographic makeup and one that was doing better than ours. So in that sense, the board by putting Vitti in the final three has done well.

However the more I learn about Dr. Vitti, how he thinks we can fix problems through perception and how he doesn’t think teachers are professionals or experience matters, the more reservations I have about him. Then let’s face it on opening night when the envisioning committee interviewed him and during his questioning by the school board the next day he was very lackluster and furthermore he doesn’t have the experience that the other two candidates has.

What does he have going for him? Well he is an up and comer, though some have described him as a coattail rider, and he has close ties with the state board of education. The latter means he has close ties with Gary Chartrand (who the school board asks how high, when he says jump) who is no friend of public education. The state board also has a shelf life of about two more years as I can’t see Rick Scott winning reelection so ultimately that would give us no benefit.

Do I know empirically that Vitti would be bad for schools? No, I just have his statements, anecdotal evidence; the turnaround schools in Miami didn’t display eye popping improvements and a sprinkle of guilt by association.

The thing is I don’t have any of these reservations/questions about the other candidates. In my opinion picking Vitti is really risky and yeah I could concievably see high rewards but the thing is whith what the district has been through over the last few years, a safer pick seems more in order.