What is measured in Michelle Rhee’s bogus state report card?

No one who actually knows anything about education believes a word this woman says, but unfortunately the hedge fund billionaires think she’s God:

I quote from the report in black, bold, and add some comments in red italics.

Objectives combined for SPRC Scoring :

■ Reduce legal barriers to entry into teaching profession and permit alternate certification programs to provisionally place teachers in the classroom (In other words, make a 5-week summer program like TFA, or no program at all, the legal equivalent to a traditional one- or two-year professional teaching license system.)

■ Pay structures based on effectiveness and performance pay (In other words, make teachers’ pay dependent on the score from an arcane mathematical algorithm that no one understands (VAM) and which jumps around widely and wildly from year to year for the same teacher; and which correlates with nothing else. BTW, none of the many studies conducted on performance pay has yet shown that ‘performance pay’ for teachers does anything to help students. What’s more, many teachers in jurisdictions that have bonuses for teachers who score high on these formulas refuse to accept the bonuses, because of the ‘poison pills’ attached to the bonuses.)

■ Parental notification and parental consent for student placement with ineffective teachers (in other words, public shaming of teachers who happen to end up on the short end of the VAM yardstick; this is part of Rhee’s Orwellian use of the phrase “Elevate the Teaching Profession”

■ Remove arbitrary caps on public charter establishment and establish alternative authorizing and fast-track process for high-performing public charters (We now know that charter schools are frankly aimed at destroying public education, not improving it. We also know that in 5/6 of the cases, charter schools do the same as OR WORSE THAN their peer public schools. We also know that the few charter schools that have good student achievement records do so by winnowing out all of the problem students — who are sent back to the public schools — and by having longer days, longer years, and summer programs, all of which cost more money.)

■ Provide comparable funding and prohibit authorizers from charging fees from public charter schools for oversight and administration (In other words, make sure that charters get MORE money per pupil than the regular schools, since just about all charter schools receive large private donations. My administrator friends in DCPS and elsewhere tell me that private donors essentially refuse to give anything to regular public schools these days, no matter how worthy the program.)

Now go look at the rankings of the states that do what she suggests.

Bernie Sanders

Will fuck your shit up, Mitch McConnell:

Sanders said, “The question that we have to debate as a nation is that deficit reduction is a very important point, but we have to understand that today at 15.7% our revenue as part of GDP is the lowest that’s it has been in sixty years. So when Sen. McConnell says revenue is not the issue, he is dead wrong. Revenue is very much the issue. The American people have been very clear. They do not want to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. They do want to ask the wealthy and corporations to pay more in taxes.”

Sen. Sanders explained why the government is spending so much money right now, “Do you know why we are spending a lot of money? Because we are in the midst of a terrible Wall Street caused recession. Where real unemployment is close to 15%, and if we do not expand the Food Stamp program children in America go hungry. And if you do not provide unemployment compensation, workers will be out on the street having lost everything. Historically what happens when you are in the midst of this terrible, terrible recession, and again real unemployment close to 15%, what the American society has got to do as a society, is take care of people in need. As the economy improves, as fewer people are on unemployment, those spending programs should go down. But you can’t leave fellow Americans out there on the street.”

Sen. Sanders is correct. The government has historically spent money to keep people from starving and losing everything during economic downturns. When the economy gets better, and there are fewer people in need, the government spends less on these programs. Republicans have no evidence to support their position that cutting spending on economic assistance will grow the economy, and history has proven that what Republicans are advocating will only make things worse.

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‘Exceptional’ heatwave in Australia

I wonder if they’re ever going to connect the dots between the heat and their heavy use of coal:

“The extreme January heat has prompted the Bureau of Meteorology to issue a special climate statement, with further updates planned as the scorching temperatures continue.”

[…] “This event is ongoing with significant records likely to be set,” the bureau statement said. “A particular feature of this heatwave event has been the exceptional spatial extent of high temperatures.”

The final four months of 2012 were the hottest on record for Australia and January is making an early run at adding to the sequence of especially hot weather.

“Australia-wide, and for individual states, we are currently well above average by many degrees,” said Aaron Coutts-Smith, the bureau’s NSW manager for climate services.

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