09/22/2017
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On Oct. 21 Gov. Peter Shumlin Tweeted: “Congratulations to Luke Foley for winning the #VT Teacher of the Year Award!” Better late than never. Luke Foley was named Vermont Teacher of the Year nearly a week earlier, on Oct. 15. I was disappointed that Gov. Shumlin couldn’t make it nearly next door to Northfield Middle High School to congratulate Luke Foley in person — and demonstrate to the students filling the auditorium what an important even this was. Shumlin’s schedule listed no commitments the day Foley received his award. Maybe Shumlin was resting up for his next day 7:30 a.m. appearance at the ribbon cutting for the new Walmart in St. Albans. A week or so later, he was available to travel to Dartmouth to introduce Diane Ravitch....
This year, my tax bill to support public education in Vermont is $9,478.32, and, historically, I've felt it was money well spent. Right now, though, I'm frustrated that the Vermont Secretary of Education's answers to my 28 Questions about the Common Core aren't worth a plug nickel. I wanted to know the decision-making process that led Vermont to embrace the Common Core. Secretary of Education Vilaseca tells me, "The answers to many of the questions that you ask are available through work done by national organizations, and I would encourage you use those resources to gain information and answers to your questions."  Duh.  I am well acquainted with the positions of the national organizations subsidized by the Bill and Melinda Gates...
The Common Core State [sic] Standards are corporate, top-down educational imperatives brought to Vermont villages and towns by money provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and political muscle  provided by the Obama administration.  We didn't ask for them and had the citizenry known what was involved, there would have been outrage against them. Here's one tiny example of what the Common Core curriculum--written by people who have never set foot in a classroom since their own student days--will mean.  In the Vermont Standards, standards which put us at the top of achievement by national and international measures (Vermont Literacy Grade Level Expectations Formatted by Grade Level) we find this expectation: Grade 7: clear pronoun...
Given the origins of the historic Vermont Design for Education, a 1968 Vermont State Department of Education document guiding education that resulted from  policy makers in Montpelier asking local communities what they want for and from their schools, it is more than ironic   that these days politicos traveling under the banner of 'progressive' are determined to wrest the last crumb of public school policy and practice away from us locals. The Vermont Design for Education focuses on the needs of individual learners and states explicitly in Tenet 5 that "Education should strive to maintain the individuality and orginality of the learners" declaring that "The school's function is to expand the differences between individuals and create a...
In iPads for All: Public Schools in Northwestern Vermont Make Education Interactive Seven Days reporter Andy Bromage presented an uncritical homage to the classroom iPad. With all due respect, Principal Walsh's claim that this electronic whizbang gizmos will "level the playing field" for students provokes me to suggest that we all make an early New Year's Resolution and promise never never to make any arguments about education using the terribly inappropriate "level the playing field" metaphor. The fact that it's Thomas Friedman's favorite metaphor is reason enough to shun it. Does any device the school can offer alter: whether children come from a home with adequate housing, food, health care; whether children come from a two-...
“[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.”  Thus, Common Core Standards architect David Coleman delivered[1] the core pedagogy of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)  to educators gathered at the New York State Department of Education in April 2011.  Listen to a few more of Coleman’s proclamations and you have to ask yourself if this is a man of deep experience and rectitude or just a cuckoo bird let loose on a hapless bunch of educrats who don’t know how to voice dissent. Coleman was on stage one hour 59 minutes  in Chancellor’s Hall decreeing the new reality of teaching in public schools across America.  No one in the audience  challenged his bizarre...
On Monday Oct. 3, I listened in on a special meeting of the Vermont Board of Education via conference call. Commissioner of Education Armando Vilaseca pushed the Board for the go-ahead to submit a waiver application to the U. S. Department of Education for relief from some of the more troubling parts of No Child Left Behind (NCLB)--or as the Feds call it "ESEA Flexibility Design." Vilaseca sought Board approval to send a not-yet-written waiver. Board members balked. Longtime Vermont schools superintendent and current managing director of the National Education Policy Center William Mathis said, "I'm not about to write such a blank check. We don't need to be rushed like this--like we're being hustled by a used car salesman." Commissioner...
  The US Department of Education's own data (Data Express) reveals that in 2008-09, 44.2% of students in US public schools were identified as low income. The Obama/Duncan education solution is to send in the scripts. The US Department of Education has just handed Success for All bucketfuls of money, as in $50 million--for an Investing in Education (i3) grant to expend in Title 1 Schools. This means schools on script  will more than double in the next five years. This targets poor children, children, who have fewer books in their homes, less access to neighborhood libraries, children who need to be read to, need to be able to choose what they want to read. Children of affluence get book clubs; children of poverty get scripts. And more...
Think about how you'd feel if you had an invitation from the New York Times, putting you among "experts" offered to contribute 300 words. 12/9 6:45 p.m. From New York Times to Susan Ohanian: We are putting together a discussion on our online opinion forum, Room for Debate, about stress among high school students. These discussions are meant to be mini op-eds (about 300 words by a variety of experts addressing a specific question. Here's the question: A new documentary, "Race to Nowhere," is hitting a nerve among parents across the country who are worried about the levels of stress that their school-age children are experiencing: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/education/09nowhere.html?src=me&ref=homepage. What can schools --...
  NOTE: I attended the meeting on the Vermont State Board of Education on August 17, 2010, where they unanimously voted to adopt the Common Core standards, promoted by U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and financed by the William and Melinda Gates Foundation.  I was upset to find myself the only member of "the public" commenting on these standards at the morning session of the Board meeting, but this was because so few people in Vermont know about this radical change in our education policy. Certainly our media has published no information. It's odd that a couple divorcing has to publish public declarations about their debts but our State Board of Education has no obligation to inform the public about an impeding radical...

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