Tag Archives: Arne Duncan

SUBMISSION: It is Time to Hear From the Teachers

Submission by  Dana R. Casey. I want to thank Ms. Casey for this submission. It is spot-on and to the point. This is the insanity we have to deal with on a daily basis, while incompetent, unqualified progressive fools like Arne Duncan, Jeb Bush, and Bill Gates tinker with things they don’t understand and have never experienced. I wish more teachers would speak out like this! 

This Wednesday morning, I am sitting in a classroom acting as a co-proctor for a retest of the English assessment, one of a battery of tests which are a state graduation requirement. The students testing today are juniors and seniors who did not pass the test in their sophomore year. There are six testing rooms, each assigned 20-30 students. I was supposed to be proctoring 28 students, but only twelve of those chose to come to school today. The test contains three sections which take 50, 55, and 50 minutes respectively. The student does not have to complete the section to receive a passing score.

However, the majority of the students completed each section in less than 30 minutes and then put their heads down to go to sleep. Contrary to what you may think, the students’ speed does not indicate that the test is that simple, instead it indicates that the students are making little effort on the test. Each section contains several reading passages and, though I read at quite an accelerated speed, it took me 35 minutes to read through an entire section and answer the questions thoughtfully.

What is really discouraging to me is that I taught the majority of the juniors last year as sophomores, the year the English test is taken. Everything that was on the test was taught and retaught and practiced in my class, not because I was teaching to the test, but because I was teaching classic English skills and content. No student who did the work in my class last year with honest effort and who then put that same honest effort into the test could have failed. But they did, because too few choose to do one or the other or both. Those who did do both passed the test.

While my co-proctor took her turn monitoring the test, I become even more discouraged as I used the time to organize information on my freshman IEP and 504 students[i]. I currently have 120 students, 30 of whom have IEPs and 1 of whom has a 504. It is October 2nd and I still have not been provided all of the information I need for these students, but I am trying to set up a matrix in each class section so that I have a manageable way of providing and documenting each student’s needs.

The first student for whom I tried to create this matrix has so many needs that I cannot fit them all into the two page grid I was given. He needs a “human reader” for every test he is given. He needs spelling and grammar devices (which I do not have), visual organizers, graphic organizers, extended time, multiple or frequent breaks, reduced distraction to the student and from the student, checks for understanding, proofreading checklists, altered or modified assignments, “chunking” of texts, word banks, and a modified grading system. There is more, but I will not list them all here. Further examination of his IEP indicates that he is reading on a third grade level. It also indicates that he is not supposed to be in a general education classroom full time, but should be in a self-contained classroom with a special education teacher and a small class size.

Although I am supposed to have support in my classroom for IEP students, no one will arrive and there is no resource room where he can receive help. I have one year to prepare him for the assessment or my evaluation and pay may be affected. I do not have the skills or resources to help this student. He has three years left in a school system that is not providing him the support he needs to be even functionally literate in the future. It is a bleak future he is facing indeed.

I look at the next student who has a 504. Her paperwork indicates that she needs multiple or frequent breaks, extended time on assignments, preferential seating, repetition of directions, graphic organizers, rescheduling of formal tests, single task worksheets, and reduced distractions from and to other students.

The next student requires a human reader, visual cues, notes and outlines for every lesson ahead of time, a scribe to write down his answers, visual organizers, graphic organizers, extended time, frequent breaks, frequent changes in activity or opportunity for movement, reduced spelling expectations, and assignments broken down into smaller units.

Thirty-one students; thirty-one different sets of requirements; ninety “non-disabled” students who also need daily attention.

Each requirement must be met and documented daily or when applicable, as in the case of testing. AND each requirement must show differentiation from all other students’ requirements so as to prove it is individualized to that student; therefore, even though a graphic organizer is required for all three students and a graphic organizer is useful to the whole class, if I give it to the whole class, it no longer counts as differentiation.

In addition to the gargantuan and humanly impossible task of differentiating and documenting 300+ adaptations a day for those 31 students, I have five ESOL students (English for speakers of Other Languages) from Napal and Yemen, some of whom speak little English, others functioning at various levels, and all of whom need their own culturally sensitive adaptation. I have no training or resources to help them either.

Furthermore, I am required to maintain documentation and file weekly reports on 13 of my students who are in a program sponsored by the court and the local law university for repeatedly absent and tardy students. For each of the 13 students I need to provide weekly absence and tardy reports, current grade averages, strengths and weaknesses, positive comments, and suggestions for improving the current grade.

At the same time, I must adapt for the various learning modalities of ALL of my students: visual, kinesthetic, or auditory. I must try to find the special interest of each child. I must create a positive and student centered learning environment. I must be prepared to recognize and report on abuse or neglect to any student (or go to jail if I fail to do so). I must document student failures, successes, behavior infractions, and anything else for which I may be held accountable in the future. I must recognize bullying and move to prevent it. I must refer a student who may be showing signs of depression, anxiety, anorexia, ADHD, or a multitude of emotional disorders. I must complete forms for the IEP department, for students’ doctors, for Social Services, and even the Social Security Administration. I must call parents for failures, infractions, and absences even though half of the phone numbers are invalid and I would need to make 10-20 phone calls a day. I must make sure that I do not call on one gender more than the other or hold one gender more responsible for behaviors than another or say anything that might be deemed politically incorrect. I must maintain cultural sensitivity throughout. Are you exhausted yet?

Let’s not forget that I must complete daily lesson plans covering reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical thinking. In order to do this, I must create activities which connect to the new Common Core Standards and implement the new (and poorly planned) Common Core inspired curriculum which has ridiculously unrealistic expectations and for which I am lacking in resources and materials (such as paper which I mostly supply myself), but for which I will be held accountable. Don’t get me started on the time I spend grading at home.

I must deliver these lessons to a classroom full of students who have had a substandard education for the previous eight years of their schooling, who have not been held accountable for basic expectations of work standards or behavior, and who WILL not be held accountable by many of their parents and others in the system for this year either, students who believe that I owe them a passing grade, and for whom I will be blamed when they do not pass the test which they are sleeping through as I write this!

This is the reality of teachers across this once-great nation, who are being vilified throughout society as the root cause of failure in our schools, while daily they struggle through the Sisyphean task of teaching in the twenty-first century. As tragic as this is for teachers, it is even more tragic for students who are provided with a substandard education because of the system, standards, paradigms, and policies in place, policies which have been promoted by politicians, academics, school boards, well-meaning but seriously misguided do-gooders, and not-so-well-meaning social engineers. Many of these jargon-wielding experts have had no direct classroom experience or their experience is completely inadequate. Too few people know or speak the truth about the problems in education, but, the people who really know, the teachers, are seldom given a voice. It is time to hear from the teachers.

[1] IEP and 504 are terms applied to special education students. IEP stands for Individualized Educational Plan and 504 is an Americans with Disabilities Act which applies to students whose disabilities are not disruptive enough to a student’s education to qualify for an IEP, but still may have an impact on that student’s learning.


Dana R. Casey is a veteran High School English teacher of more than two decades in an East-coast urban system. She is a life-long student of theology, philosophy, and politics, dedicated to the true Liberalism of the Enlightenment, as defined by our Founders and enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.

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Filed under Guest Post, Speaking Out

Brief Thoughts on @ArneDuncan’s Attack on White, Suburban Mothers

For those that have not heard, Arne Duncan recently told a group of state school superintendents that he found it “fascinating” that opposition to the Common Core comes from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — [realize] their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t as good as they thought they were.”

So, here’s a couple of things I find fascinating. I find it fascinating that Mr. Duncan has never taught a day in his life. I find it fascinating that Mr. Duncan has never been a principal of a school at any level. But somehow, this guy with a sociology degree from Harvard, ended up the head of Chicago Public Schools for seven years and then would go on to head the Federal Department of Education. Who says people of inability can’t rise to greatness? Arne Duncan is quite possibly the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on education.

Now, Mr. Duncan has decided to generalize and stereotype an entire race of females. I thought that all progressives like Mr. Duncan were above this type of behavior? I thought they loved all women and all races of people? I thought they were highly educated intellectuals who saw the world in such a profound and deep way that little old me would never understand?

This comment is indicative of the worldview of Mr. Duncan and our Dear Leader, President Obama. They only see the world through race, gender, and class. Progressives can not stand being questioned by those they believe to be less educated than them. And people (that includes women and men and people of other skin color) are starting to question their “brilliant” education deform initiative called Common Core.

Keep it up! The more you push these people the more their true colors are revealed and the mask comes off. It shows you are making a difference once they start attacking you in ways such as this. People will eventually get tired of the middle school attacks that Common Core proponents often levy against the opposition. We just need to be ready for a solution when this thing comes crumbling down.

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

#QuoteOfTheDay 11/18/2013 #politicians #inhuman

This one reminded me of our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing which sounded human.

– Albert Camus

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by | November 18, 2013 · 1:00 PM

Education Department Releases Pamphlet Regarding Pregnant Students

by Brian Koenig

The U.S. Department of Education, under the guidance of ED Secretary Arne Duncan, has released a “Dear Colleague” letter with a pamphlet to support academic achievement for pregnant and parenting students under Title IX.

The document was submitted to school districts across the nation to offer information on “school retention” issues relating to problems with young parents and pregnant mothers. While the directive focuses primarily on secondary schools, it also applies to post-secondary institutions that receive federal financial assistance.

“We need to do more to help the hundreds of thousands of students who become mothers and fathers each year graduate from high school ready for college and successful careers,” Mr. Duncan affirmed. “We must support pregnant and parenting students so that they can build better lives for themselves and their children.”

The letter offers some interesting advice (or directives, rather), such as the illegality for “schools to exclude pregnant students (or students who have been pregnant) from participating in any part of an educational program, including extracurricular activities.”

So the Education Department is mandating that pregnant students cannot be excluded from anyextracurricular activities, including interscholastic sports (it’s in there). The “female student playing football” charade has already surfaced. The verdict on pregnant female students being permitted to play football is in: If she wants to be the high school’s next star quarterback, she’s made the team.

The safety concerns regarding this particular provision are just playing hooky for the day.

A dramatic scenario, maybe, but the point is clear: Political correctness trumps sound reasoning.

But, naturally, there’s more: “[A] student who is pregnant or given birth may not be required to submit medical certification for school participation unless such certification is also required for all other students with physical or emotional conditions requiring the attention of a physician.”

In effect, they must be treated the same as other students.

Sort of. But not really, because… Schools must offer special assistance to pregnant students, such as providing a “larger desk,” or allowing “frequent trips to the bathroom,” or  permitting “access to elevators” that may otherwise not be available to other students.

Antagonism is not lost on today’s education system.

And don’t forget this directive also applies to post-secondary institutions, such as colleges and other higher-education institutions. So if Joe Fratboy decides he needs a couple of months off school, he must not be “discriminated” against. Moreover, whether Joe Fratboy takes time off from his studies, his absences must not be penalized. That, it sure seems, is what the ED indicates, considering this applies to pregnant students and “young parents” of post-secondary institutions as well as secondary schools.

Sure, some of the pamphlet’s provisions are vague, and up for slight interpretation, but they surely chain the hands of school officials. The Department of Education is, as usual, discounting the “common sense” factor in achieving academic success. After all, as the pamphlet notes, “When a student returns to school, she must be allowed to return to the same academic and extracurricular status as before her medical leave began.”

Thanks, Mr.Duncan, for another brilliant maneuver.

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Filed under Federal Department of Education

Video: Chicago History Teacher Paul Horton on Common Core and Corporate Collusion

We are cross-posting this piece from Christel Swasey of Common Core: Education Without Representation. Common Core is a perfect example of crony-capitalism. Common Core is the final marriage between education companies and our government. 

Today, Alisa and I spoke with Chicago History teacher Paul Horton about Common Core and his group, Citizens Against Corporate Collusion.  A few highlights:

1.  What’s wrong with high stakes testing?

2.  How does Common Core turn teacher artisans into teacher widgets?

3.  Dept. of Ed Secretary Arne Duncan graduated from the high school where Horton teaches; what does Horton say about Sec. Duncan?

4.  Why does Pearson Company stand to face legal trouble?

5.  What does Horton see Bill Gates doing Common Core pushing for?

6.  Why are Democrats and Republicans increasingly seeing eye to eye on the need to stop common core?

Here’s the segment.


Filed under National Standards (Common Core)