Norway Changes Its Name to Shithole


I discourage use of profanity but when the President of The US introduces certain words into public discourse, the rules change.

Norway announced that it was renaming itself Shithole to show solidarity with countries insyltedby Trump.

This dispatch comes from Oslo, Shithole.

from sarah


John Thompson on Daniel Koretz’s “The Testing Charade”


John Thompson wrote an excellent review of Daniel Koretz’s “The Testing Charade” in the Huffington Post. 

“Daniel Koretz’ TheTesting Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better may be the best book on testing since his Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us. We should all be grateful to Koretz’ editor who told him to stop “pulling your punches.” That’s why The Testing Charade “finally” uses “honest adjectives to describe the harm high-stakes testing has done to students and teachers.”

“That being said, Koretz had been correct to use “carefully measured” academic language in his earlier discussions of education policy. Since he was such a respected scholar, even the most true-believing, accountability-driven reformers had to listen to Koretz’ advice. He also had to be diplomatic in order to negotiate access to data that school systems carefully guard, and advise superintendents and other education leaders. In some of the most valuable parts of the book, Koretz is thus able to explain the edu-politics that created a testing regime that remains “Beyond All Reason.” (Emphasis is Koretz’)

“These conversations illustrate why Koretz had to conclude his analysis with a reminder that thirty years ago he and other social scientists warned that test-based accountability “wouldn’t succeed.” The stakes attached to tests were much smaller back then but he predicted that even those milder accountability systems would “face only three options: cheat, find other ways to cut corners, or fail.” However, neither Koretz or anyone else “predicted just how extreme the failures of test-based reform would be.” He didn’t anticipate cheating on the scale that it occurred. He expected bad test prep, but he “didn’t expect states and districts would openly peddle it to their teachers.”

Read the Review. Read the book.

from sarah

Carol Burris: California’s Charter Law Invites Corruption, Fraud, Malfeasance




Carol Burris, the amazing and talented executive director of the Network for Public Education, wrote this stunning investigative report on charter fraud in California. It is titled “Charters and Consequences.”

The report details the fraud and financial scams permitted by California’s weak charter law. So weak is that law that it not only tolerates fraud, it encourages it.

As you read the report, you will ask yourself why taxpayers are not outraged. They should be.

from sarah

The Damage that Trump Has Inflicted on America in One Year



It is easy to accept Trump’s near-daily outrages as normal because they seem to be “the new normal.” It is important not to let this man destroy our sense of right and wrong.

This is the best summary I have seen of Trump’s disastrous year. 

It was written by James Mann and appears in the New York Review of Books.

As the illustration shows, this man is taking a sledgehammer to the United Dtates and wantonly destroying our institutions, norms, and values, apparently for fun or to show what a big man he is.

It is hard to say where he has done the most damage, but the judiciary, the environment, and foreign policy are way up at the top, in close competition. There is also the matter of his vulgarity and lack of dignity.

We will be cleaning these Augean stables for years to come to rid them of his stench. In the case of the judiciary, an entire generation may pass before his hardline right wingers are replaced.



from sarah

New York Superintendents Invite David Coleman as Keynote Speaker


Peter Greene writes here about the decision by the  New York Council of Dchool Diperintendents to invite David Coleman to address its annual conference.

Coleman, as you know, was the architect of the Common Core and is now CEO of the College Board, which administers the SAT. The SAT has been aligned with the Common Core.

Nothing in education  has been as controversial as the CC.  it has come under fire from left and right. During the recent presidential election, candidate Trump called it a disaster and promised to get rid of it.  Betsy DeVos, a close associate of Jeb Bush, who championed the Common Core, never mentions it. Bush candidly admitted that he loved the CC because it would show how terrible the nation’s public schools are and precipitate a parent stampede to charters and vouchers.

Arne Duncan so loved the CC that he spent $360 million creating two testing consortia—PARCC and Dmarter Balanced Asessment—that enlisted almost every state but have rapidly lost state members and are now on like support.

Will David Coleman explain how the Common Core became toxic?

from sarah

The Washington Post: A memo for the ‘invisible class’ seeking financial liberation

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died for the less fortunate. When King was killed, he was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers who were fighting for better pay and working conditions. (Branden Camp/AP)

By Michelle Singletary January 13 at 12:09 PM 

Have you ever felt like you didn’t get the memo?

I’m talking about a life instruction sheet that lays out what you should do to get ahead, especially economically.

On Jan. 15, we celebrate the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights icon who fought and died for the less fortunate. When King was killed, he was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers who were fighting for better pay and working conditions. 

Decades after King’s death, so many people are still struggling for financial justice and a life above the poverty line. For many of them, the road to a more financially stable future begins with approaching wealth a different way.

To help them in their journey, I picked for this month’s Color of Money Book Club “The Memo: Five Rules For Your Economic Liberation” (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, $24.95). The book is by John Hope Bryant, founder and chief executive of Operation HOPE, an organization in Atlanta dedicated to economic empowerment for low- to moderate-income individuals and families in underserved communities.

Bryant says he wrote this book for what he calls the “invisible class.” This includes:

Read the complete article in The Washington Post here.

The post The Washington Post: A memo for the ‘invisible class’ seeking financial liberation appeared first on

from sarah

Day Three in Saigon

We visit the Presidential Palace, now a museum. The heat is intense, large crowds. On the grounds are replicas of the first two tanks to crash into the palace gates and lead the onslaught. The originals are in the War Museum in Hanoi. The palace is elegant yet simple. It is more an office complex than a palace. It is no Versailles. We see the rooms where the President met honored guests, held strategy meetings, cabinet meetings, official dining rooms. In the basement is a bunker with communications devices, meeting rooms, a map room, even a bedroom for the President. One of our guides says, “The Americans came to help us resist the Communist invasion. So did the Australians, the South Koreans, others.” He gives us a capsule summary of events. We did not get the party line. It’s complicated. He tries to be careful not to express his views. He is Catholic.

We visit the Post Office, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Beautiful. Very French. A high barrel glass ceiling. Directly next to this beautiful and historic building: MacDonald’s. Across the street: the Grand Norte Dame Cathedral, now covered with scaffolding. In the distance, we see, is the old CIA building, not tall or impressive, but the scene of the desperate helicopter evacuations in 1975.

I begin to understand that the official name of the city may be Ho Chi Minh City, but locals call it Saigon. They say it is because the word Saigon has two syllables, while HMC has five. They insist it’s not political. The listener is not sure.

We stop to visit a lacquer factory but I’m too tired to take the tour. We return to the hotel and go out for lunch. The guide tells us the secret of crossing streets: walk steadily and quickly, never pause or stop. The scooters will avoid you but they can do this only if you walk at a steady clip. It worked. The city has millions of scooters.

The heat, the crowds, the jet lag are getting to me today. At night we (about 48 people) take a dinner cruise on the Saigon River. The city is lit up. Tomorrow we embark on the cruise on the Mekong River. (Several other passengers are retired New York City school teachers.)


from sarah

Buried Under a Mountain of Debt That Never Gets Smaller



Sarah Pool took out a student loan six years ago when she was 25. She earned a master’s degree and was $60,000 in debt. She pays what she owes with regularity, but the debt is now $69,000. That is more than twice her annual salary as a children’s librarian.

”The glimmer of hope Sarah clings to is her enrollment in a public service student loan forgiveness program that would clear her remaining debt if she puts in seven more years of work with the government and continues to make payments on time. But she’s heard horror stories of borrowers being disqualified from the program — which is available to people who work for the government or certain nonprofits after they have paid their loans on time for 10 years — because of a paperwork error. And she’s terrified the program will be quietly eliminated. (President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal did suggest cutting it for new borrowers but would still forgive debts of people currently enrolled.)
 Not having the program, she says, would “kind of end my life. I‘ll be paying student loans until I’m dead, basically. Which is really scary.”

There has been a huge push to raise the college completion rate. At the same time, people like Sarah are forced to live near the poverty line to pay off their debt. Logic suggests that we as a society really don’t want more people to go to college. States have reduced their support for higher education, shifting the costs to students. Countries that want more students to attend and complete college degrees reduce costs. We don’t.

from sarah

California: Will Democrats Have the Guts to Kick the Charter Lobbyists Out of the Party?


Karen Wolfe reports that leading figures in the charter industry were booed when their names or faces appeared at a meeting of the state Democratic Party Conference. But the top candidate for governor, Gavin Newsom, is taking Charter Industry money and has the endorsement of the California Teachers Association. The California Charter School Association, which fights accountability, is probably the richest lobby in the state.

Will the Democratic Party fight privatization or sell itself to Eli Broad and the Silicon Valley Billionaires?









from sarah