Notable Quotes

“Teacher pay-for-performance is the latest reform idea sweeping the nation. The claims that these magic merit pay programs will improve teacher effectiveness and raise student achievement are a utopian illusion. Political grandstanding, teacher bashing and unfunded government mandates do not address any of the real problems facing the nation’s public schools.”

“If there has ever been a classic example of lockstep, one-size-fits-all, individuality-out-the-door, ideological gobbledygook, this is it. If, indeed, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, No Child Left Behind is educational asphalt.”

“To date there is no consistent evidence that high-stakes testing works to increase achievement.”

“I have the feeling that 60% of what you say is crap.”

“Schools alone can’t cure fetal alcohol syndrome, lead poisoning, low birth-weight-induced cognitive deficits, undetected hearing and vision deficits or asthma, rampant in some urban areas. Educators alone cannot insure that poor mothers-to-be get proper prenatal care or that poor children get the kinds of eye and dental examinations they need or treatment for ear infections, infections which if treated are nothing serious but if not can cause hearing loss, etc. Schools alone cannot eliminate dangerous working conditions, sub-poverty wages or erratic housing patterns. “

“Our children have been hijacked and shackled by bad policy and bad politics. “

“One day in McKee High School I made a breakthrough of some kind, and for me there was kind of a white blazing light in the room and I went, ‘Jesus, this is absolutely orgasmic in an intellectual and emotional sense.’

We were dealing with a poem and it was called–the poem was called ‘My Papa’s Waltz.’ You’re always telling the kids, ‘Look for the deeper meaning,’ and then there would be a test. But I said to the kids, ‘Let’s get inside the poem. What’s going on in here?’ And there was an explosion for me at that moment because we were doing it together. I wasn’t a teacher anymore, as in ‘I know everything and you’re just out there. I tell you what you need to know.’ Instead I said, ‘You tell me what’s happening. Tell me what’s going on in here.’ That was a turning point that colored my whole teaching career. “

“There are stark and causal relationships between economic status and school “achievement” in the US and every other country that tracks the relevant data. Census Bureau figures show that between 1967 and 2001, the share of total income flowing to the bottom 60% of US households fell from 32% to 27%. The share of total income to the top 5% rose from under 18% to over 22%. The percentage to the group in the middle barely changed. Those percentages could easily be said to mirror test scores except, of course, the “achievement gap” has closed a bit in contrast to the economic gap. In that context the schools have been doing a bang-up job. For someone from the educated middle class to be pointing fingers at the lack of parenting skills of those living under the burdens of decades of grinding poverty, systematic racism, and governmental neglect is…well, insensitive doesn’t quite capture it all. I’m not sure what does. “

“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves. “

“I teach EBD and LD high school students. One of my students who is extremely bright but has a very slow processing speed was compelled to spend 26.36 actual hours (4.2 instructional days) on the WKCE, and even then he wasn’t finished, so his score still will not reflect his true ability. There are reams of existing information on this young man from school and outside psychologists documenting his skills; nevertheless, he was taken out of 24 instructional periods BEYOND what the school had already allotted for testing so that he could achieve a score close to representative of his already VERY well-documented skills. Because of his unique learning style, this student struggles to keep up in school in spite of his above-average intelligence-he repeatedly questioned the value of a test that would cause him to miss the equivalent of three additional days of class beyond the time already missed by his classmates. Clearly, this test format is highly disruptive and very inappropriate for such a young man, but he would never qualify for that very small percentage of alternative assessment students because he is not cognitively disabled. The obvious practical answer would be to skip the extra-time accommodation, but then his scores would have been inaccurate AND harmful to the school’s AYP. The test is actually interfering with his education. “

“Which takes longer: Form a new government in Iraq or fund schools in Texas?

Three months ago, Iraq held elections and began the process of forming a government after decades of dictatorship.

Three months ago, the Texas Legislature met with the primary job of finding a way to adequately pay for the state’s public schools.

90 days later and the Iraqis have a government.

90 days later, the Texas Legislature is seized up worse than a ’69 Falcon with an empty crankcase.”

“Children have become faceless student numbers computer-matched to student scores, individuals being forced into the same mold with no recognition of their differences. School is monotonous drill instead of the creative, exciting, stimulating environment that it should be. “

“The paperwork and meetings involved to support an IEP are intensive. They are also worthless, as these kids must pass the same test as “normal” students without all of the accommodations they are familiar with. It is like taking a deaf person’s hearing aid away and expecting him to pass an oral quiz. “

“We don’t need people who can spit back facts. We’ve got Google.”

“Free the markets. Screw the people.”

” The Department has posted sample tests for students and parents to use, including the correct answers, so they can work on weak areas and be prepared for the test; for the first time the test questions are written by Arizona teachers so the questions will be a good match to what is taught in class; and the student reports will be sent to parents in early June as opposed to September in the event that a student may need any tutoring or other assistance over the summer.”

“The No Child Left Behind Act is the most damaging, intrusive piece of legislation to enter education in my 32 years as a public school administrator. “

“He made no resistance whatever, and was stabbed in the back.”

“Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose American hegemony.”

“We look forward to analyzing and working with legislation that will make–it would hope–put a free press’s mind at ease that you’re not being denied information you shouldn’t see.”

Reliable data should enter the language as a new euphemism for budget cuts to programs that serve the poor.”

“If the federal government is forced to fund NCLB, it’ll still be bad. Washington is defining accountability and achievement all wrong. Funding the wrong thing still leaves a wrong thing. “

“”Institutions like Juilliard have the responsibility to differentiate between the marketplace and the art form. Knowing…that demand is not at its peak, you don’t create an organ department of 50 majors; right now, we have nine. But [we] have a responsibility to educate individuals who can knowledgeably carry forward the traditions of this great instrument. If you develop everything based on the marketplace,you’ll eventually have a school dedicated to ‘American Idol.'”