It seems that with the tragedy of the shooting of an innocent young man in Florida, the dominoes have started to fall for ALEC.

As described very clearly on The ED Show by Van Jones, ALEC  pushes a right-wing pro big-money agenda. As many of us have been aware of for a while now, their reach has gone as far as our educational system where they have templates that legislators can use to simply plug in the appropriate words and voila! ed reform in a nice package, corporate style. For additional information on how ALEC has affected our school districts around the country, see ALEC Exposed.

This morning I was reading gubernatorial candidate Inslee’s proposals regarding education in the state of Washington and went from concerned to horrified. His words were right out of the ed-reform playbook particularly when he referred to Innovation Schools which comes right out of ALEC.

Unfortunately our school district swallowed this one hook, line and sinker all by themselves. Just about the only thing that changed between what ALEC would want to see happen and what Seattle did, with Enfield’s lead, was to change the name from Innovative Schools to “Creative Approach Schools”, providing teachers with less union protections as a trade for more curriculum autonomy which many of the progressive alternative schools already had. Hmmm.

So the trade was, we (SPS administration) will take away your (the progressive alternative schools) academic freedom to develop your own curriculum based on a student oriented educational philosophy because you now have to align with Common Core Standards, curriculum alignment. Now, if you want your academic freedom back, well.. have we got a deal for you! Less union protection for your teachers and you have a little more autonomy. Wow, what a bargain.

Getting back to Inslee and his big ideas on education in our state, he goes on and on about Innovation Schools, what a bargain online learning would be for our students, it would cost so much less not having to pay all those teacher salaries, and closing the “achievement gap” with more testing including the testing of children before they are even in kindergarten as part of the early learning program. Wonderful.

Will someone please give this guy a clue? Or is he already in the back pocket of big money in our state as others are?

Moving on to the issue of teachers and their unions, according to an article on the WBEZ website, Chicago teachers ready to strike, union says:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing for big changes at Chicago Public Schools next year, including a longer school day, a different calendar and new teacher evaluations.

Chicago Teachers Union officials say teachers at more than 150 schools are ready to go on strike.

Union president Karen Lewis told reporters Thursday that teachers at those schools are testing the “pro-strike sentiment” through informal polls.

“Teachers and paraprofessionals there have voted overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly, to strike should contract negotiations fail and CPS and the mayor does not reverse the hostile climate against us,” Lewis said.

Additional information can be found in the Chicago Sun Times, ‘Fed up’ teachers at 150 schools support strike: union chief.

And speaking of bullies, and by that I am referring to Rahm Emmanuel, check out:

The Bullying Politics of Education Reform in the Daily Kos, an excerpt:

While the bullying can be witnessed in the discourse coming from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former-chancellor Michelle Rhee, and billionaire-reformer Bill Gates, one of the most corrosive and powerful dynamics embracing bully politics is the rise of self-appointed think-tank entities claiming to evaluate and rank teacher education programs. A key player in bully politics is the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

NCTQ represents, first, the rise of think tanks and the ability of those think tanks to mask their ideologies while receiving disproportionate and unchallenged support from the media.

Think tanks have adopted the format and pose of scholarship, producing well crafted documents filled with citations and language that frame ideology as “fair and balanced” conclusions drawn from the evidence.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

NCTQ grew out of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and the Education Leaders Council (ELC), which is associated with the Center for Education Reform, securing in the process unsolicited federal funds (over $9 million under George W. Bush).

In short, NCTQ is not an unbiased and scholarly enterprise to evaluate and reform teacher education. NCTQ is a right-wing, agenda-driven think tank entity determined to marginalize and discredit teacher education in order to promote a wide range of market-based ideologies related specifically to public education.

Further, and powerfully connected to the bully politics of NCTQ, is the association between NCTQ and U.S. News & World Report. In other words, NCTQ lacks educational and scholarly credentials and credibility, but gains its influence and power through direct and indirect endorsements from government, the media, and entrepreneurs (re: Gates foundation and funding).

Remember when NCTQ  came to Seattle and how that was the start of all things ed reform in our state? Ah yes, I remember it well…

I will leave you this week with Noam Chomsky, a quiet voice of reason, and his essay The Assault on Public Education in truthout. To follow is an excerpt:

“There has been a shift from the belief that we as a nation benefit from higher education, to a belief that it’s the people receiving the education who primarily benefit and so they should foot the bill,” concludes Ronald G. Ehrenberg, a trustee of the State University system of New York and director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.

A more accurate description, I think, is “Failure by Design,” the title of a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, which has long been a major source of reliable information and analysis on the state of the economy.

To read this article in full, go to truthout.

Have a nice Spring break Seattle.