Demanding education that matters, Pedro Noguera style

We think Pedro Noguera is a rock star, but not because he does anything flashy or commercial.  No, this man is a thought leader in education, and (believe it or not) a charter authorizer from New York.  Our friends over at DemocraticEducation.com posted a series of videos of Dr. Noguera’s keynote speech at the recent fall forum of the Coalition of Essential Schools.

Dr. Pedro Noguera

Dr. Noguera is a professor of Teaching and Learning at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.  Noguera is an urban sociologist whose scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment.  Dr. Noguera is also the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and the co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS).

But the videos clearly speak to the breathtaking-but-simple logic of this man.  Listen.

Video 1 of 3:

Pedro Noguera: “Demanding Education That Matters” (1/3) from Isaac Graves on Vimeo.

Video 2 of 3:

Pedro Noguera: “Demanding Education That Matters” (2/3) from Isaac Graves on Vimeo.

Video 3 of 3:

Pedro Noguera: “Demanding Education That Matters” (3/3) from Isaac Graves on Vimeo.

If you like his video, you’ll like his books, especially The Trouble With Black Boys: And Other Reflections on Race, Equity, and the Future of Public Education, available at Tattered Cover.

More mysterious DeFENSE

Apparently, DeFENSE members hide out in plain sight. Those sneaky DeFENSErs!

The picture below is from last night’s elected officials/candidate forum in Montbello, hosted by Elet Valentine.  There are DeFENSE members in the picture.  Can you pick them out?

Can you pick out the "sneaky" DeFENSE members?

The Denver Post‘s Jeremy Meyer has been pulling his hair out, trying to figure out who we are.  But we’re right here in plain sight, Jeremy.  Don’t you see us?  Perhaps your search-and-destroy mission on behalf of Boasberg is blurring your vision a bit.

Go ahead and try to figure out who we are.  We’ll be the ones trying to protect our children from inequitable education choices that only stymie their true abilities.  We’ll be the ones protecting public education and being part of the solution that makes it better for ALL kids.

An open letter from the Black Education Advisory Council on the “turnaround” plan for Far Northeast Schools

Nov. 11, 2010

Dear Denver Board of Education Members,

The Black Education Advisory Council has reviewed the “Turn Around Plan” drafted by DPS staff and the A+ led community committee.  We have grave reservations about the potential efficacy of the current plans.  We are aware of serious and sustained opposition to the current drafted plan in the FNE black and minority community as well.

Our concerns center around the disruption that will be involved for thousands of current students and their parents and the entire community for the six schools involved.  We suspect that there are already negative effects on the education being provided by teachers and staff anxious about their futures.  There has been a lack of an effective means of involving the community stakeholders in the rushed planning process.  We feel that teachers, and particularly Black teachers are being made scapegoats for a lack of DPS competence over the last decade in delivering educational services to these communities.

BEAC recommends that the Denver Board of Education delay a decision on a final “Turn Around Plan” for FNE schools until Fall of 2011, to be implemented in Fall 2012. During the interim, Denver Public Schools should take immediate steps using current resources to improve the education programs, train teachers and staff, and develop a meaningful method of obtaining participation and buy-in from all the stakeholders to a reform plan focused on a Win-Win outcome for community, staff, and students.

Sincerely,

Lawrence Borom
Chairman

The mysterious DeFENSE

Secret and mysterious!

Last night we got the following email through the contact form on this site:

From: Van Schoales <vschoales@gmail.com>
Subject: so who are you?

Message Body:
Who built this website and who is your leadership?  Are you connected to DCTA?  Do you have members and if so how many?  It seems you have about a 150 facebook friends.    I’d be interested in meeting with you.  Are they teachers?     Please send me a note.

Thanks, Van

Actually, Van, it’s more like 161 Facebook friends.

Van Schoales is the executive director of Education Reform Now! and a board member of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) in Colorado.  He recently came out in favor of vouchers as will be debated before the Douglas County school board very soon.  Since we know that DFER’s Executive Director, Joe Williams, is also pro-voucher, it’s not a stretch to imagine that Colorado DFER’s membership is too.

But we digress.

There has currently been a groundswell of support for our fledgling group from across the city, and the “edu-power brokers” are starting to take notice.  We know that some Boasberg henchmen are shaking people down, demanding to know if they’re DeFENSErs,which is something we find pretty amusing.  Hence, Van Schoales’ email to us, pretty much demanding us to take him to our leader.

Here’s what we have to say about all this.  Who are we? We are parents, teachers, community members and business leaders who are concerned about DPS and its schools.  We are concerned about the education our children are receiving.  We are concerned that minority and low-income children are being left behind by district “reforms.”  We are concerned that teachers are not being treated fairly, which is harming their ability to teach our children.  We care about schools and public education.

We hope that clears up the mystery.

A Veteran’s Day story

Back in September, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.

This has been circulating around the Internet today, and it’s so nice, we thought we’d share it.

Happy Veteran's Day!

Back in September, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building  supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom. When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks. ‘Ms. Cothren, where’re our desks?’  She replied, ‘You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn the  right to sit at a desk. They thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s our grades. ‘No,’ she said.  ‘Maybe it’s our behavior.’  She told them, ‘No, it’s not even your behavior.’

And so they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom. By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms.Cothren’s classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room. The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, Martha Cothren said,  ‘Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.’

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it. Twenty-seven (27) War Veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall….. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned…. Martha said, ‘You didn’t earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it’s  up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don’t ever forget it.’

By the way, this is a true story.

Please consider passing this along so others won’t forget that the freedoms we have in this great country were earned by War Veterans.

Education and the Public Interest on charters, segregation and the truth

I listened to an interview on Colorado Public Radio of Ken Howe, director of the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder about charter schools assessment and their effectiveness. What was extremely interesting was his view on how charters are creating segregation.

Segregation, Denver-style?

I listened to an interview on Colorado Public Radio of Ken Howe, director of the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder about charter schools assessment and their effectiveness. What was extremely interesting was his view on how charters are creating segregation. http://www.cpr.org/article/legacy-archive-2066#

Captivated I wanted to know more about this local organization. Use web link http://nepc.colorado.edu to reach the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Education. They sponsor research, produce policy briefs, and publish expert third party reviews of think tank reports. Denver Public Schools uses or has used a research think tank I believe in North Carolina. Anybody know how we can acquire the actual research reports DPS used to make decisions about charter schools in Montbello?

The following is from http://nepc.colorado.edu/think-tank-review-project

Think Tank Review Project
The Think Tank Review Project provides the public, policy makers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected think-tank publications. Reviewers for the Think Tank Review Project apply academic peer review standards to reports from think tanks and write brief reviews for the project web site. They are asked to examine the reports for the validity of assumptions, methodology, results, and strength of links between results and policy recommendations. The reviews, written in non-academic language, are intended to help policy makers, reporters, and others assess the merits of the reviewed reports. The Think Tank Review Project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. To learn more about the Think Tank Review Project, you are invited to read the follow two commentaries published in Education Week.

Truthiness in Education: Why the Bunkum Awards Were Created
At a time when America’s education policymakers have nominally embraced the idea of tying school reform to “scientifically based research,” many of the nation’s most influential reports are little more than junk science. A hodgepodge of private “think tanks” at both the state and national levels wield significant and very often undeserved influence in policy discussions by cranking out an array of well-funded and slickly produced – yet ideologically driven – research. … See the full article by clicking onthe above link.

The Privatization Infatuation
In 2007, the second year of our Think Tank Review Project (thinktankreview.org), we reviewed 18 think-tank reports about education policy. Time after time, our reviewers identified analyses that led inexorably to a privatization prescription. Even reports that offered a reasonable analysis of the No Child Left Behind Act or the dropout problem suddenly and groundlessly identified as the key policy implication of their findings the need for vouchers or other forms of privatization. … See the full article by clicking onthe above link.

NON SEQUITUR (c) 2007 Wiley Miller. Dist. By UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
NON SEQUITUR (c) 2007 Wiley Miller. Dist. By UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Far Northeast Bait and Switch

So, here are the DPS staff recommendations that will be made to the Board of Education today that are supposedly inclusive of the demands community has made.  Do you see any marked difference between the original incarnation and this plan?

DPS Staff Recommendations to Board

We don’t.  Tune in to Comcast channel 22 at 4:30 p.m. today to watch if you can’t come down to the meeting at 900 Grant Street in Denver.

Notes from 10/30 Organizing Meeting

October 30, 2010 DeFENSE Organizing Meeting

1. Debriefed the FNE DPS “Community Engagement” meeting at Rachel B. Noel school

  • a. There was not significant input from Spanish speaking families

b. The DPS proposal doesn’t detail plans for English Language Learners and Special Needs students

  • c. DPS lacks a comprehensive implementation plan

d. DPS has been secretly working on this plan for at least the last 20 months.

  • e. At the end of the meeting A+ and DPS reps stated that they were going to incorporate some of the community proposals ideas into a survey to send out to the approximately 40 A+ members. However, there was not a plan for how this information would be communicated to the broader FNE community.

f. DPS administrators are interested in some parts of our alternative transformation proposal that separates the plan into 6 individual proposals for each school, as well as increasing community and teacher engagement. However, they shouldn’t pick and choose parts of our proposal. The entire proposal should be addressed including the questions within it. Our community group should be given the courtesy of a formal response and invited to a conversation with DPS about the merits of our proposal.
Alternative Proposed Community Transformation Plan – Action steps

We need multiple approaches have our voices heard leading up to November 18th board vote

Creation of DeFENSE Community Action Teams:

  1. Messaging and Press Strategy Team
  2. Recruitment & Coalition Building Team
  3. Spanish Speaking Outreach & Inclusion Team
  4. Social Media Team
  5. Fundraising
  6. Community Action Team

Next Meeting: Saturday November 6th 9am-11am at the Colorado Education Association (CEA) office 1500 Grant Street (Colfax and Grant).