What you are about to read is NOT real news. It is satire. Where possible we have provided links to the real stories/issues that inspire us at the bottom of each article.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Have You Heard The One About....

...the woman who enrolled her child in a new school?  After the principal welcomed them to the learning community, the mother made a request, "It is very important to me that my child have a first year teacher."

The principal responded with a nod, "We have several first year teachers on staff."

The woman continued, "And can you guarantee that my child will get the teacher who has received the least amount of preparation for the job?"

"Um, two of our new teachers only attended five weeks of training this summer," the confused principal replied.

"Wonderful," the woman answered. "And of those two teachers, would you please ensure that my child gets the one who is most likely to leave the profession?"

The puzzled principal hesitated for a moment, "I'm afraid they will both probably leave teaching in two to three years."

"Well then either one will do," the satisfied mother smiled.

"While I'm glad you are satisfied, I must say your request is an unusual one. May I ask why you would want the teacher who is least experienced, least trained and least likely to stay in the profession?"

The woman smiled knowingly, "Oh that's easy. Michelle Rhee said they make the best teachers."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Four R's

Wayne LaPiere addressing the press
Fairfax, Virginia - Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association has devised a plan to prevent further gun violence at our nation's schools. At a press conference at the NRA's headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, LaPierre urged arming students. "More guns equals less crime," began LaPierre, echoing the headline of his November 27th commentary. "Therefore, it just seems logical that this tragedy could have been prevented if the students had been armed. Our schools need to become a center for the four Rs: reading, writing, arithmetic and rifles. "

Maria Heil, NRA board member, who spoke only briefly as she was having difficulty removing blood from under her fingernails, added, "Many weapons are perfectly designed for small hands. My daughter owns a Colt .380 with a "Hello Kitty" grip. I think good mothers arm their children."

David Keene, President of the NRA, recounted the days when he used to bring a shotgun to school and described how his organization envisions the future. "We could start by teaching gun safety in pre-K. We would then incorporate target practice into the school day. Finally once a kid has passed both a performance-based and standardized test on how to handle and fire a gun, we would equip him or her with a weapon. It's totally a win-win situation. Plus I bet it would put an end to school-yard bullying."

The NRA representatives could not answer questions about funding of such a vast undertaking. When asked about the results from any studies investigating the efficacy of such a plan, LaPierre retorted angrily, "Nobody asked David Coleman for his studies," referencing the whole cloth adoption of the Common Core standards without data evidencing their effectiveness.

LaPierre ended the press conference with these impassioned words, "The NRA is not going to surrender, submit or succumb to the extremists in our society who want to regulate our right to bear arms. We too want to prevent gun violence and we think arming children is part of that solution."

When reached for comment, filmmaker Michael Moore, a well-known advocate for stronger gun-control laws, said, "Put guns IN schools? Are you shitting me?"

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Go to the White House's website for petitions or the NRA website or Meet the NRA.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Over the Educational Cliff

Washington D.C. - In an unusual moment of candor for a politician, U.S. Senator LaLa Verdad of New York sent this letter to her constituents yesterday:

"Louise, no matter what happens, I'm glad I came with you."
Lately my office has been receiving communication from constituents about the state of education. Some of you have expressed annoyance over the frequency and length of the tests your child has had to take. Some of you were surprised to find out that the teacher you and your child love has been deemed "ineffective" as determined by value-added measures. A few of you were worried that the government maintains decades of data on your child. Some of you are angry that the unproven Common Core is forcing teachers to robotically deliver lessons and demanding six-year-olds read oodles of non-fiction. My question to you is: where the hell were you people as our children went over the "educational cliff?"

I know, I know you didn't realize all these "reforms" were effecting your kid or your school district so you didn't care. Well now that it's dawned on you that it is your kid and your district perhaps you will wake up and force me (and all your political leaders) to do something about it. I am, after all, largely your puppet. I display very little leadership on my own, preferring instead to form my opinions and choose my battles based on public opinion and advice from generous campaign donors.

So if I hear from Michelle Rhee and her well-financed political action committee (I mean 501(c)4 organization) Students First more than I hear from you, guess who I'm going to listen to? And if you are so uninformed that you think Students for Educational Reform is actually run by a grassroots band of students then you won't mind if I have a few drinks with their hedge fund-, charter school-affiliated, no hidden agenda here board of directors.

Our country drove over the educational cliff years ago with Michelle "Thelma" Rhee, Wendy "Louise" Kopp and a host of other bad drivers taking turns at the wheel. So if you'd like to hoist them from the driver's seat then you must act. Dear constituents, get your panties in a twist and let me know how No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and now the Common Core standards have negatively altered the playing field for your American schoolchild. Because otherwise, I just don't give a shit.

To contact any member of Congress: Contacting the Congress

Reality Alert: 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Results: Public Education Loses

New York City - From their broadcast studios at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City, MSNBC called the presidential election only one minute after polls had closed on election night. At 9:01pm EST, Rachel Maddow announced that public education had lost. "With only 1% of precincts reporting, MSNBC can confirm with a 0% margin of error that public education has lost." Citing the 100% likelihood that either President Obama or Mitt Romney would win Maddow said, "Given that both candidates support policies that promote privatization of education while ignoring fundamental flaws in our economic system that perpetuate childhoods spent in poverty, we are confident in declaring public education a loser this evening."

Comments on the loss came from many circles. NBC broadcaster Brian Williams expressed relief, "I was afraid we might have to actually invite some public school teachers to next year's Education Nation but with this defeat, it is clear we can continue to pander to the union-crushing corporate privatizing agenda." Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, issued this statement, "No matter who wins, we will semi-respectfully hold our nose to work with him." Michelle Rhee, CEO of Students First, was too drunk to comment, having begun her celebratory consumption of libations some time in October.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not Our Usual Fare

We know you come to this site for a laugh but some things are just NOT funny. Here's a non-satirical editorial from Students Last.
How nice to be told by the presidential candidates, during their last debate, that they "love teachers." Too bad it's bullshit, like the flowers a woman gets the day after her abuser gives her a black eye. And it's not just the candidates who are "loving" teachers to death. America itself has, at least as of late, quite the abusive relationship with teachers - claiming to love teachers but repeatedly disrespecting them in a myriad of ways. What teachers need is fewer meaningless words and a helluva a lot more deeds of respect.

When teachers tell you that standardized testing is robbing instructional time, narrowing curriculum and encouraging cheating but you act like their concerns are a ploy to avoid accountability, you are NOT showing love to teachers.

When you hold education conferences and there are no public school teachers on the panel but there are five CEO's, you are NOT showing love to teachers.

When the solution to turning around a failing school is to fire half the staff, you are NOT showing love to teachers.

When you accuse teacher unions of protecting child molesters, you are NOT showing love to teachers.

When teachers tell you that generational poverty hangs over the lives of their students like an impenetrable fog dampening desire, fostering anger, distracting young minds and you think they are making excuses, you are NOT showing love to teachers.

When you refer to teachers as "professionals" but then dilute their ranks with those who have ten-watts of enthusiasm and five-weeks of training, shoving them into the neediest schools where they cut their teaching teeth on defenseless children, you are NOT showing love to teachers.

When the most well-known names in education today are people who taught for three years or....never, you are NOT showing love to teachers.

When, despite teachers' knowledgeable objections, your idea of measuring teaching and learning is to administer more and more flawed bubble exams to younger and younger students, you are NOT showing love to teachers.

When you laud the test results of charter schools that cherry pick their students, receive extraordinary private funding, create an aura of fear with high suspension rates coupled with the expulsion of under-performing students, you are NOT showing love to teachers.

When those who make policy send their children to private schools while shoveling mounds of unvetted nonsense onto the overburdened shoulders of public schools, you are NOT showing love to teachers.

Perpetrators of domestic abuse tell their victims they love them and moments later clench their fists, preparing to strike another blow. So candidates, so America, hold onto your amorous bouquets and stop mouthing words you clearly do not mean or understand.

"Love" us less. Respect us a helluva a lot more.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Teacher Suspended For Using Same Grading Policy As Her Employer

New York City - Seventh grade English Language Arts teacher Dianne Smith, who teaches at Brooklyn's Intermediate School 114, is facing disciplinary charges because of her grading policy. Her exact crime? She used the same grading policy for her students that the New York City Department of Education uses to provide grades to its schools.  

"I thought that if it was good enough for the DOE then it should be good enough for me," explained Ms. Smith over a cup of coffee at a diner near her school. Apparently not. After receiving numerous parental complaints, the DOE launched an investigation into Smith's grading policy and found it lacking. She has been suspended with pay while DOE officials scramble to determine how to handle the matter.

Parents objected to the idea that a pre-determined number of students would receive each grade; thus ensuring failures even if all students did exceedingly well on every student measure. For example, 30% of students had to receive an 'A' while 35% of students had to receive a 'B', 25% had to receive a 'C; while 10% were guaranteed a 'D' or 'F'

Perhaps more troubling, however, is the fact that in order to have 30% of students achieve an 'A', Ms. Smith lowered what qualified as such to include grades of 65 or higher - just like the DOE did for schools. The chart below details the grade range employed by both Smith and the DOE.

Grade      Score Range
  A            65 or  higher
  B            51.7 - 65.4 
  C            36.3 - 51.6 
  D            23.2 - 26.2 
  F             23.1 or lower

Ms. Smith, a thirty-something brunette with half-moon glasses propped on the tip of her nose, was shocked when parent complaints made their way from her ears to the principal's office and then into the corridors of the DOE. "I guess I was naive. Sure I thought the policy was wonky but I figured since none of the parents objected to the system being used to rate schools, then they wouldn't object to my using it to report on their children." Looking out the window, Smith sighed, "And I certainly never expected the DOE to object to its own practices."

When asked how they justified giving schools an 'A' that barely scored more than a 65, the DOE would only comment that it is their policy not to comment on on-going investigations. It remains unclear if the DOE would object to teachers utilizing this policy.

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Go to If Teachers Ran Their Classes Like NYC Runs Schools Then... and I Don't Know About Art, But I Know What I Don't Like and  'A' For Awful As Top-Rated Middle Schools Fail To Prepare Kids For High School and The Stability and Fairness of New York City's School Ratings and Making the Grade in New York City and  NYC Progress Report page and click on "2011-2012 Progress Report Results for Elementary/Middle/K-8 Schools" at top of page. It will download an Excel spreadsheet. Compare the "2011- 2012 Overall Grade" column to the "2011-2012 Overall Score" column.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Who Should Be More Insulted? Courts Will Decide

Coulter objects to being compared to Rhee...
Los Angeles - Ann Coulter has filed a lawsuit against writer Jeff Bryant alleging defamation of character. The offending comment by Bryant appeared in a recently authored piece for "Campaign for America's Future" in which he referred to founder and CEO of Students First Michelle Rhee as "a sort of - 'education Ann Coulter.'"

At a press conference Coulter's attorney, Max Dewey explained his client's lawsuit as follows, "Throughout her career, Ms. Coulter has been called some pretty foul names but to compare her to Michelle Rhee sinks below even the lowest of journalistic integrity levels."

No doubt when Mr. Bryant wrote the article entitled, "Michelle Rhee Misreads 'Shift Among Democrats' On Education" he expected to stir the education policy pot. After all, he describes Rhee as a "lobbyist" and shill for the billionaire-funded so-called "education reform" movement. However, it is also probably true that he did not anticipate being sued by the likes of confrontational, conservative commentator Coulter as she has been called just about every name in the book. However, that is not how her attorneys see it.

.... and Rhee objects to being compared to Coulter
Sanford Cheatem, another partner at the high-powered firm representing Coulter, raised what will no doubt be a point of contention during litigation, when he characterized the statement by Bryant as "disparaging" and said that it had "had negative effects on Coulter's image."

The press conference ended with a plea from the law firm's managing partner Clifford Howe. "People should be aware that words have the power to hurt. Our client's emotional well-being has been compromised by this comparison to Michelle Rhee and we will not let it stand."

When reached for a comment about the lawsuit, Michelle Rhee said she was also considering suing Jeff Bryant for defamation. "Maybe I can join Coulter's suit. After all, no one wants to be compared to her either."

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read Michelle Rhee Misreads 'Shift Among Democrats' On Education

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Worst Womb in New York City

New York City - As we reported last month, Pearson PLC and New York City's Department of Education announced that utilizing nano technology Pearson scientists had developed a way to administer standardized exams to fetuses. Today the DOE revealed how data from those tests will be used.

At a City Hall press conference, Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott explained that fetus exam results will be used to determine the mother's value add measurement (VAM). Walcott explained, "Using a complicated algorithm, we can estimate the mother's contribution to her fetus' test performance compared to other mothers." According to the chancellor if a mother's VAM is in the lowest quartile, then she might be deemed an 'ineffective gestational carrier' and "the DOE would suggest some changes to her maternal practices."

Should mothers be held accountable
for their fetus' test scores?
Both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott refused to respond to reporters' repeated questions about the reliability of such measurements nor did they want to discuss what might happen if the mother refused to or was unable to 'change her maternal practice.' When one reporter referred to VAM as 'junk science' the mayor responded angrily, "Everybody says an evaluation system is important...until you try to use it. I get evaluated everyday and I think fetuses and their carriers should be no different."

In related news, the New York Post vowed to publish photos of the "worst wombs in New York" as determined by VAM scores. The United Federation of Mothers (UFM) is looking into the evaluation system and is expected to comment on it later in the week.

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read Value-Added Nonsense and Connecticut Adds New Tests for Kindergarten, 1 and 2 Grades as well as comments associated with piece. Also Analysis: Shaming Teachers Is Not Good Educational Policy

Friday, October 5, 2012

Invisibility Cloak: For All Your Testing Needs

Need to hide a few students for upcoming exams? Afraid your school's test scores will be dragged down by low-performing special education students? Certain the English Language Learners will fail to make annual yearly progress?  Will students with poor attendance impact your whole school with their lousy test performance?

Invisibility Cloak (IC) can help.

IC uses a two-prong approach to optimize your student testing population. With our first approach, undesirable test-takers will be encouraged through a series of pre-written letters, engaging videos and scripted counseling sessions to leave your school using three different scenarios. Package A urges students to pursue their GED; Package B gently suggests students transfer to a different school; and Package C advises students to exercise the dropout option. You choose the package that is most convenient for you.

IC's second approach uses state-of-the-art software technology to make your undesirable students vanish. With a simple click of a button, up to four hundred problem-students will simply disappear from your school roster. And once they're gone, your school should have no problems generating the positive test scores needed to satisfy No Child Left Behind requirements. Of course, you can restore them after testing is complete.

Success guaranteed.

"IC is a life-saver. With just a small upfront investment, our school administrators were able to secure bonuses of more than $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Education because our test scores appeared to go up," - anonymous Texas principal.

"I wish they had offered this type of training a few years ago." - assistant principal Atlanta, Georgia.

"We all know it's a game and with IC's software, gaming the the system becomes child's play." - district superintendent, Florida.

Coming soon: On-line professional development course in how to help students pass high-stakes exams. Hear from our team of experts on optimal seating arrangement to facilitate answer exchange among students, when and where to host erasure parties and the effective use of hand signaling during multiple choice tests.

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read The Wicked Spawn of NCLB and El Paso School District Rebuilds After Fraudulent Testing Practices By Administrators

Monday, October 1, 2012

Charter School Miracle?

Some in the charter school business are
praying to be recognized as a miracle
Newark New Jersey - Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, filed a petition with the Catholic Church urging that charter schools be deemed "miracles." "Charter schools are a blessing from God. The work they do is truly extraordinary," said an enthusiastic Booker on the steps of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The petition is an unusual one for the mayor. "Well, I've been kissing their asses for so long, this was just the next natural step," commented Booker in a rare moment of political candor.  

The designation of "miracle" is not one easily given. The Church has a very specific definition for miracles and the investigative process is a tough one which can take years. "We have to determine if God had a hand in it or not," advised Newark's Archbishop John J. Myers. "It is not something we do lightly."

Charter School founders had mixed reactions. Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City, welcomed the investigation. "Bring it on. Despite my own religious persuasion, I've been saying for years that I should be canonized so it just follows that what I do is miraculous." Conversely, Vahan Gureghian, whose Pennsylvania-located Chester Community Charter School is under investigation for possible cheating on state exams, was unavailable for formal comment. However, people close to Mr. Gureghian report that he is concerned about the scrutiny.  

The arduous approval process is not the only thing standing in the way of charter schools being designated as "miracles." Public school teachers have also come out against the title. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) all issued statements opposing the nomination. CTU president Karen Lewis' statement read in part, "While we agree that schools and their teachers make extraordinary contributions to the lives of children, we do not believe that charter schools do anything that rises to the level of miracle and we have the data to prove it." She then read a litany of statistics that she claimed showed charter schools were at best mediocre education providers. Michael Mulgrew of New York City's UFT began his press conference by saying, "I know Eva Moskowitz and Eva Moskowitz is no Mother Theresa." He also recited statistics proving charter school performance is unremarkable but reporters were distracted when Kim Kardashian tweeted that she and Kanye had broken up.

The ghost of famed antitheist, author and journalist Christopher Hitchens also issued a statement against the designation which read, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read Still Searching for Miracle Schools and Superguy and Miracle Schools: Where Are They Now?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stripper Fired For Being A Teacher

Teachers rejected: "We have our standards"
Grand Rapids, Michigan - Stripper Bunny Halter has filed a federal employment discrimination lawsuit against her former employer strip club White Glove, claiming she was fired one year ago due to her previous employment as a teacher.

"I know I made some bad choices," Ms. Halter apologized at a press conference organized by her attorney Gloria Allred. "But I've left the education field now and I don't think I should be punished for trying to support my family. I've really turned my life around."

Ms. Halter took a job as a teacher briefly when a medical issue left her unable to pole dance. "The bills kept piling up and I didn't know what else to do. I was desperate. I'm not proud of what I did but at the time taking a job as a lazy greedy fifth grade teacher seemed like my only choice," Bunny sniffed into the microphone before burying her head in her lawyer's shoulder.

White Glove owner, Sid Vasdeferens held his own press conference in front of his popular establishment. "For God's sake, I'm trying to run a business and even we have our standards," implored Vasdeferens. "Once our clients found out we employed teachers, they were turned off. We don't need no teachers giving us a bad name."

Attorney Allred said her client was suing for $110,000 in lost wages, which is what Bunny anticipated earning as an exotic dance last year. Interestingly that sum is almost twice as much as the average teacher's salary in Michigan.

Reached for comment by phone, President David Hecker of the Michigan chapter of the American Federation of Teachers said, "This is what happens when a profession is attacked day after day. Respect for the teaching profession has been suffering a death of a thousand cuts and it has got to stop." Meanwhile the president of the American Federation of Strippers union, Randy Randi said she was, "Looking into the merits of Ms. Halter's lawsuit."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pallets for Pedagogues

Georgia - "It's not good for my back," winced forty-two-year-old Sara Freeman of Mason, Georgia as she pulled herself up from her cot. "But at least I can get some sleep."  For the second time this week, Sara slept at her school.

Heavy workloads have made sleeping at
school a necessity for some teachers
Sara teaches third graders at a Power Is Power (PIP) charter school, one of a growing number of schools offering cots for teachers who want to sleep in the building so they don't waste time going home.  "I would rather be home in my own bed but that's not always possible. By the time I'm done tutoring students, grading homework and tests, updating my bulletin boards, reviewing student data, writing my lesson plans and individualized education plans, it can be very late.  So I just pull the cot out of the closet and try to catch a few winks."

Sara is not alone.  Teachers in Arizona began sleeping at their schools last year after their districts began providing on-site sleeping accommodations. According to the National Center on Time and Learning, a nonprofit research group in Boston, about 100 schools - more than 90 of them charter schools - across the country provide sleeping accommodations for their teachers. Martin Shell, Tucson school board president is convinced it will ultimately benefit students. "It really is a time saver for our employees.  Now as soon as they wake up, they can work.  The more time teachers are at work, the more work they do and we are convinced that will result in higher test scores."

Although it may sound extreme, some teachers seem to make the most of it.  Darren Smithfield, who teaches seventh grade math in Tucson, showed us around his classroom/bedroom. His desk discreetly hid the cot and contained his toothbrush and electric razor.  "My wife came by and visited on Wednesday night. It was nice, we ate together in the cafeteria, the kids read books in the library while she and I talked about what we would do this weekend if they let me leave, I mean if I go home." He added quickly, "And you know the cot is not so bad, you get used to it after a while."

The cots were paid for by a generous grant from the Walton Foundation while the blankets and pillows were given by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read Survey: Teachers Work 53 Hours Per Week On Average

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Tiniest Test Takers

London - Pearson PLC, the world's leading learning company, announced a new product that will allow the company to begin administering standardized tests to the nation's youngest students - fetuses.

Pearson-provided sonogram of fetus taking ELA exam. Sadly,
test scores prove the fetus is merely average.
New Pearson CEO John Fallon gushed, "We couldn't be more excited about this development."

Mr. Fallon explained to reporters how Pearson scientists used nano technology to create tiny number two pencils that can be placed into a woman's uterus. "If you look very closely, you can see that we have been able to provide the fetus with a bubble test and a number two pencil," boasted Fallon while pointing to a sonogram.

Scientists associated with the project agree that the new development is quite a feat. "Shrinking the pencil wasn't too difficult," explains Dr. Michelle Benito. "But creating test booklets and bubble sheets resistant to amniotic fluid, well that took a good deal of effort."

Benito describes the testing process, "Testing materials are injected into the mother's uterus utilizing the same needles employed during amniocentesis. Then we guide the materials into the fetus' hands using probes and prod it to take the exam. We give the unborn about an hour to complete the test and then we suction the materials out through the needle. The only problems we have encountered are fetuses who refuse to take the exam and fetuses who eat the pencils."

Asked by one reporter if standardized testing of the unborn was perhaps "ridiculous" Fallon responded irately, "Our philosophy is that you can never test too early or too often. Clients that agree will purchase and implement this product; clients that don't, won't."

When asked to comment on this new Pearson initiative, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten responded with a question of her own, "Can we finally agree that testing is out of control?"

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read the Jason Standford: Cashing in on Pre-K TestingConnecticut Adds New Tests for Kindergarten, 1 and 2 Grades as well as comments associated with piece. Also Florida Gets Tough on 5-Year-Olds.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Uber Teachers Are Uber Powerful: New Study Finds

Good news for the poor. There is no need to improve the lives of people who live in poverty because a great teacher will fix all their problems - eventually.... at some unspecified time in the future.

According to a research project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a great teacher, "[c]an make a dramatic difference in the lives of low-income students." Gates spokesperson Stacey Scott elaborated on the project's findings, "We are pleased to self-satisfactorily declare that uber-educators can make so great a difference in the lives of their students that all daily stresses such as low-paying unstable jobs, inadequate dental, vision and medical care, classism, predatory lending practices, underfunded retirement, inaccessible child care and neighborhood environmental exploitation are practically eliminated."

Mrs. Wilcox, whose thirteen-year-old daughter attends Jeb Bush Middle School in Tampa, Florida agrees, "Before my daughter got her new teacher she had lots of problems. But ever since Miss Cary got here, with her five weeks of enthusiastic training, my daughter doesn't worry about my being unemployed. She waves at the slumlord, even though he hasn't removed the lead paint from the hallway. She scoots by the crack addicts and ignores the rats, bed bugs and roaches. Now that she has Ms. Cary, all her troubles seem to have melted away."

Other people were less enthusiastic about the proclamation. "Not sure any teacher can solve my problems," responded fifteen-year-old Luis Martinez of Bedford Stuyvesant. "I've had a lot of great teachers but I don't see no difference. I sure would like to though because a lot of the time I'm hungry and my moms needs her diabetes medication, my dad hasn't worked in two years and my older brother wants me to join his gang. What's a teacher going to do about that?"

Reality Alert: 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Drug Dealers Defeat Teachers: New Poll

Some surprising results turned up in a new Gallup poll. The poll asked parents to rank occupations according to how much they hoped their children aspired to the profession. Among the most desired were perennial favorites, doctors and lawyers. Nurses also did well. Although they fell 3% from last year's ranking, nurses still managed to come in third place.

Teachers, however, did not fair so well. Two years ago they came in third place; this year they scored below drug dealers. Asked to comment on the poll results, Karen Lewis, who heads the Chicago Teachers Union said, "We have been attacked for years. So I'm not surprised that parents do not see our profession as a viable career choice for their children."

Still teachers can take solace in knowing that they continue to score above dentists, who have come in last place for ten consecutive years.

The full poll results were as follows:


% of Parents Ranking Profession First
Drug Dealer

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read The Chicago strike is typical of American politicians' war on teacher

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Best Buds: Bloomberg Calms a Nervous Walcott

New York City - During a press conference marking the beginning of the school year for students, Mayor Bloomberg revealed, “As I was walking down the street with the Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott towards the cameras, he asked me to hold his hand. He was so nervous because of the first day."  Although the mayor claimed he declined the request, this photo suggests otherwise.

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read Back to Class for NYC Public School Students

Sunday, September 2, 2012

From Slime to Self-flagellation: Teachers Prepare for New School Year

New York City - While some teachers prepare to return to their classrooms by reviewing curriculum and purchasing needed supplies, many veteran educators get ready in less traditional ways.  We sent reporters to each of the boroughs to uncover their secrets.

Staten Island
Beginning early in August, Ginny Evans, who has taught middle schoolers at I.S. 352 for twelve years, practices holding her urine. "When school lets out, I get used to peeing when I want to.  Then when August comes around, I can barely go four hours without urinating and that will just not do," Mrs. Evans shakes her head. "I've done a lot of Kegels and had a few accidents but now I can hold it for almost nine hours. My bladder is almost ready for back-to-back coverages plus lunch duty on an after-school tutoring day," Evans says with a proud smile.

Meanwhile over in Queens, you can find pre-K teacher Valerie Winkle in her backyard, donning
goggles and standing in a kiddie pool. "Fire away," she yells to her ten-year-old son Bobby, who is
Slime helps Winkle prepare for the coming school year
armed with a toy gun filled with Nickeloden slime. Dutifully and delightedly, Bobby pulls the trigger. Almost instantly his mom is covered in gooey green muck. Winkle calmly wipes the ooze from her face and forces these words, "That's ok sweetheart." She repeats this cycle approximately twelve times a day during the summer months. The eight-year veteran of Community School 142 explains her training matter-of-factly, "Since I teach the little ones, I know that several times during the year I will be the displeased recipient of bodily fluids which are not my own. This training allows me to graciously handle all the vomit, snot etcetera that awaits me."

Mr. Gold practices dodging spit balls
While some teachers focus on controlling fluids, high school teachers build up other skills. "I've practiced dodging projectiles for years but with the relaxed discipline code, it's especially important," advises seventeen-year veteran William Gold, who will teach ninth grade English at John Lindsay High School. Many times throughout the day and always without warning, Gold can count on his wife Mabel to hurl paper clips and/or spit balls at him. Mabel smiles as she describes her husband's progress, "At the end of July, I nailed him almost every time but now he anticipates my every move." During a demonstration of his skills, the fifty-two-year-old impressed with Matrix-like speed and agility. Assessing his own preparedness, Mr. Gold boasts, "I'm ready for the little pishers."

Silence is the hallmark of Mr. Wallace Edwards' school preparation. "I've taught for nineteen years at the Murdoch School for Communication and for fifteen of them, I've practiced biting my tongue." Edwards says he mostly utilizes the skill during staff meetings and professional development. "Sometimes you want to make suggestions or point out more effective ways to do something but over the years I've realized the administration doesn't really want to hear from teachers." Wallace, whose tongue shows visible scarring, says the skill is also useful at home. "I'm pretty sure our relationship is better for having perfected this skill."  His life-partner Dan Engels is not so sure. "Did he tell you he suffers from ulcers?"

Teacher Lori uses self-flagellation to
prepare for annual abuse
Perhaps the most grueling efforts are made by Dominic Lori, a veteran educator of twenty-five years. "I beat myself twelve to fifteen times a day with a cat o' nine tails." Asked why he practices self-flagellation the soft-spoken Lori explains, "It hardens me to abuse." But if you're thinking Lori instructs hostile juvenile delinquents, think again. "Oh heavens no. The students are fabulous but at every other level, people seem bent on vilifying teachers so it's just my way of getting ready for it." Who exactly is abusing teachers? The Edward Grout High School history teacher has no trouble describing the culprits. "There's Mayor Bloomberg who shifted the responsibility of learning from students to teachers and then shamed us with the publication of discredited value-add scores. We have political leaders like Jeb Bush who compare neighborhood public schools to choosing milk. And of course other reformers like Michelle Rhee conveniently ignore the effects of poverty on student achievement and never discuss the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores which are at their highest point in history for many student groups." Mr. Lori sees the status quo in education as revolving around teacher attacks. "My training simply acclimates me to the pain," Lori says glumly. When it was suggested that perhaps the United Federation of Teachers could help, Lori volunteered, "They already have. They bought me a hair shirt."

Reality Alert: 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Defender of the Status Quo: America's Newest Superhero

"Holy Incompetent Teachers!" Rhee will be
generously supported by her many minions,
including Joel Klein and Arne Duncan.
California - Faster than dismissal on a Friday. More powerful than the smell of cafeteria pizza. Able to shut down a public school in a single bound.

Look! Over in Sacramento! It's a self-promoter. It's an education deformer. It's the Defender of the Status Quo, Michelle Rhee.

Strange visitor from a another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of union presidents. Defender of the Status Quo - uses tests scores for unintended purposes, ignores facts that do not support her specious arguments, and, with her many minions, fights the never-ending battle to crush American unions.

How did Rhee, already Queen of StudentsFirst, win this noble position? A bi-partisan board of electors made the unanimous selection. "There really was no other choice," explained billionaire David Koch, who was flanked by fellow board members billionaire Bill Gates and billionaire Eli Broad at a press conference announcing the honor. Koch beamed, "Her ability to keep the media and public focused on false notions about education is unrivaled."

Rhee's number one responsibility will be to continue to manipulate the public into believing there is an education crisis related, not to poverty but to, lazy 53 hour-a-week working, over-paid Hyundai-driving, whine about a need to test for efficacy before instituting Common Core standards, so-called "educators." 

Like any great superhero, Rhee has her enemies including, the evil math genius Mr. Brandenburg, the fearless Leo Nie and Biting Burris. Her arch nemesis, however, is The Ravitch, a nimble character whose superpowers include tweeting at incredible speeds, telling the truth and knowledgeably citing education history.

Still, most people are betting on the DSQ. David Koch certainly is; he ended his press conference with these words, "I'm sure I speak for all of America when I say thank you Defender of the Status Quo for your incomparable service to our country and its corporations, um I mean children."

Reality Alert: 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Teacherbots: Tomorrow's Solution Today?

Alaska - "How can we use technology so that we require fewer human teachers?" This was the question posed by Miles Katzman, founder and CEO of Teacherbots Inc,. as he stood before a roomful of attentive school district representatives from around the country. With budgets being cut, lots of districts are looking for ways to reduce personnel costs while still maintaining high educational standards. Katzman believes he has the solution: Teacherbots or TBs.

Teacherbots are being used at Sara
Palin Elementary School in Alaska
"TBs are tomorrow's solution today," quips Katzman.  What exactly are Teacherbots?  "They're state of the art approximations of human educators.  A happy marriage between manequins and intelligent robotic technology."

At Sara Palin Elementary School in Alaska, where robotic teachers have taught for more than two months, the experiment has been deemed a success. "We like them because they follow lesson plans exactly, don't take sick days and so far haven't tried to unionize," declares principal Tripp Glarick. The school still employs human teachers, known as "HBs" which is short for human beings. "Contractually we have to keep the HBs around for a few more years," explains principal Glarick.  "Otherwise they'd be gone already."

Some HB teachers seem to approve of their robotic colleagues. Michelle Luddite, a fourth grade teacher, explains, "When the number of students in my room hit 54, I was glad to get the bot. She processes student data, analyzes which computer programs will best address student weaknesses and programs assignments proven to improve test scores. My role is different. I attend IEP meetings, call parents and try to keep the 'needy kids' on task." What exactly is a 'needy kid'? Ms. Ludite explains, "Needy kids are those students who want to talk. They learn best by bouncing ideas off other people. You know, the ones who want to interact." Asked if she misses her role as a traditional classroom teacher Mrs. Luddite pauses to reflect. "I guess what I miss most is sharing the joy of the learning experience, exploring each individual child's gifts..." She trails off as Mr. Glarick approaches. "Well now don't go getting me all sentimental. You have to change with the times or else."

This brave new educational world has drawn significant interest from investors.  Venture capital firms have bet more than $9 million on Teacherbots Inc. whose corporate motto is, "Education should run like a well-oiled machine." CEO Katzman credits the adoption of common standards and shared assessments for making his brainchild financially viable. He explains, "Standardizing the standards has led to a standardized education and that translates to money for us. Now that there's a common definition of what 'good' looks like, education entrepreneurs can enjoy national markets where the best products can be taken to scale."

Whether or not robotic teachers are "the best products" for our nation's children has yet to be determined. Critics say Teacherbots lack flexibility and are impersonal. Leonie Haimson, one of the founders of Parents Across America has been vocal in her disapproval of TBs.  "They're just plain creepy."

"So was my seventh grade gym teacher," counters Glarick with a chuckle.  Becoming more serious, he continues, "Are there some kinks? Sure, but you know with every new gadget you have to work out the bugs. With time, I'm sure the bots will become more human-like but with none of the outrageous demands of humans like needing bathroom breaks or wanting a duty-free lunch."

Some of the most vocal critics of TBs have been students. Fifth grader Johanna Stephens, who has organized several protests against the bots, refused to go to school after spending just one day with her classroom TB. "I hated her. She didn't look at me, just kind of at my forehead. She never asked me for my opinion or about my feelings. All she knew was my data," claims Johanna.

Principal Glarick tries to explain away Johanna's response, "Some students find it difficult at first but then they adjust. Students are used to having teachers that respect their opinions but if I can paraphrase David Coleman (one of the architects of the Common Core standards), our TBs really don't give a crap about what students feel or think. The bots are programmed to only accept correct answers and cited evidence. The kids will catch on eventually."

And maybe so will the bots.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Breaking News: Teacher Invited to Education Conference

New York City - Setting aside a long-held tradition, the New York Times has invited an actual public school teacher to participate in their upcoming "Schools of Tomorrow" conference.

Elaine Doctris, who teaches fifth graders at PS 800 in Queens, is the chosen one. "I'm honored and a little confused," she confessed.  "I mean they've never asked a public school teacher to speak before. I hope it isn't a mistake."

According to Kirstie Hepburn, one of the event's organizers, picking Ms. Doctris was no mistake. "We used New York City's Teacher Data Release to obtain the names of public school teachers. Then we dumped all the names into a giant hat and picked one. You know, kind of like 'The Hunger Games.'"

Teachers are infamous for slowing up corporate-driven discussion panels by providing facts, suggesting methods be tested before implementation and by sharing real life experiences. So why did the Times have a change of heart and include an educator? Ms. Hepburn admitted, "Teachers are really good at whining and frankly we just got tired of them complaining on their blogs about not being included at this event."

While incessant whining may have finally resulted in a begrudging invitation, it is still unclear if Ms. Doctris will attend.  "I really want to go but it's on a Thursday, during the day, at the beginning of the school year.  I'm not sure it's fair to my students," she explained. May the odds be always in your favor, Elaine.

In related news, the New York Times is also reportedly toying with the idea of inviting practicing physicians to its annual "Future of Medicine" conference. Scheduled speakers to this event currently include: GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty, Pfizer Chairman of the Board and CEO Ian Read and celebrity/oxycontin user Rush Limbaugh.

Reality Alert: Interested in how we came to write this? Read The Jose Vilson blog and see Schools of Tomorrow speakers list.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Teacher Families Have Had Enough!

"I strained my back carrying boxes of paper to her car," complained Walter Jee of Queens, N.Y. whose wife works at PS 899.  "It happens every year.  It's just too much."

Tired of being asked to assist with school responsibilities, family members of teachers organized themselves into a group called Fed Up Families (FUF).  "A few of us met when we traveled with our loved ones to a teacher conference.  We had so much in common we decided to stay in touch. It grew from there," explained President Lucille Nana, whose daughter teaches in Chicago.

Nana describes many of the group's early meetings as "bitch sessions." "We had a lot to get off our chests. For instance, every time my daughter visits, I can't find my craft scissors.  Some of us have been mistreated for years."

As their membership grew, the children, spouses, parents and siblings of educators decided to work via Skype to draft a list of their complaints.  This list includes:
  • countless hours spent in teacher stores, Staples, Office Max and Target
  • hoarder-like conditions at home 
  • lugging school materials to and from the car

"We're fed up," cried fourteen-year-old Patty Walborn of Norfolk, Virginia.  "Last week my mom dragged me to her classroom twice.  I helped her put-up bulletin boards, level books and wash curse words off desks.  I'm sick of it."

Patty's sentiments echo those of many FUF members. "The problem is no one understands the sacrifices we make to support our teacher family members," explained President Nana.  "We just want to raise awareness about some of the issues we face." The group is considering holding an October rally in Washington D.C.  Others think more drastic action is needed.

"I think we should go on strike," Patty eagerly suggested. She had more to say on the subject but her mother, a middle school teacher, pulled her away.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"No Teachers Will Be Hurt"

This story updates an older one entitled, "Stoning Teachers Raises Some Eyebrows"


August 12, 2012 9:00am EST
"Who would have thought that a concert that was supposed to honor teachers could engender so much controversy?" With these words, a sheepish Les Moonves, CBS President and CEO, began apologizing for his network's support of a concert at which attendees could throw rocks at teachers. At a press conference held yesterday in Los Angeles, CBS's head honcho explained, “We will still broadcast ‘Teachers Rock’ but absolutely no public school teachers will be hurt. Not in jest. Not for fun. Not at all.”

Inundated with complaints from an outraged public, those involved with the production, including corporate monstrosity Walmart, were forced to issue a public apology and cancel the stoning booth which for the cost of one dollar would have allowed participants to “Rock-a-Teacher.”  Among those present for the mea culpa was concert producer Ken Ehrlich. "I guess it wasn't as funny as we thought," he confessed to reporters.

Even before the stoning booth controversy, teachers had criticized the concert, which is a publicity event for a soon-to-be-released movie entitled, "Won't Back Down." Many in the education field see the movie as just one more way to malign public schools. Influential education historian and prolific blogger Diane Ravitch described the film, starring Viola Davis and Jake Gyllenhaal's sister, as a "sneaky push for privatization." Already facing ridicule, how did producers manage to make things worse?

A perosn who attended several production meetings but wishes to remain anonymous, revealed that while discussing vendors for the concert, which included the typical food and tee-shirt hawkers, Walmart and Walden Media representatives suggested having a dunking booth.  Later someone proposed the "dunkee" be a teacher. Our source explained, "Everybody laughed."  The tone in the room began to change rather quickly. “One thing led to another and all of a sudden we were talking about stoning public school teachers. I'm not really sure how it happened. It just got out of hand." However outrageous it sounds now, the idea must have seemed like a good one as no one put a stop to it.

Interestingly, the canceled stoning still has its defenders. "It was supposed to be a joke. They weren't even really stones," explained Paul Anschutz, who financed “Waiting for Superman.” “They were more like pebbles. And all the teachers were going to be paid union wages plus they were allowed to wear helmets."

Michelle Rhee also expressed disappointment over the cancellation. "I was going to drive all the way down from Sacramento for this opportunity. I even had my own rocks."

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read Diane Ravitch and Parents Across America twice.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stoning Teachers Raises Some Eyebrows - with Updates

This story has been UPDATED at "No Teachers Will Be Hurt"


August 9, 2012 2:30pm EST
Los Angeles – When nineteen-year-old Marsha Felton of Santa Monica heard about a concert honoring teachers, she wanted to go. After all her mother Jane is a public school teacher.  This may account for why she was so angry when she came across an on-line advertisement for “Teachers Rock.”  "I couldn't believe what I was reading.  It just seemed wrong.”

What bothered Ms. Felton lies in the fine print at the bottom of the concert promotion. Alongside food and tee-shirt vendors is listed an entertainment booth entitled "Rock-a-Teacher.” Further description reads, “Like an old fashioned dunking booth only better.  Live teachers. Real stones. C’mon, you know you’ve always wanted to.”

Marsha was shocked. “I read it over and over again." She began to spread her rage, as so many do, by sending a Tweet that linked to the advertisement and read, "Teachers Rock=Rocks@Teachers.”

Almost as quick as you can say, “publicity gaffe,” Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, began to rally her troops.  "This is outrageous!" was the opening salvo in a daunting and unrelenting number of emails sent from Weingarten's Twitter account complaining about the planned stoning. Concert producers Walmart and Walden Media and CBS, which is supposed to broadcast the concert later this month, have been swamped with vitriolic communications from labor leaders and their constituents demanding the booth be removed.  “I will nevr by yr resnbly priced scool supplies again,” threatened @CheapTechr in a Tweet directed at Walmart.

While no decision has been made about the fate of the booth, CBS, Walmart and Walden Media issued a joint statement, which read, “The matter is currently under examination.”

Update: Stars Threaten to Walk
August 10, 2012 9:00am EST
Los Angeles - TMZ is reporting that several stars scheduled to appear at the "Teachers Rock" concert have threatened to pull out if teachers are actually rocked.  According to TMZ sources, Leslee Dart, Meryl Streep's publicist, made a fury-filled phone call to CBS, which is scheduled to record and broadcast the concert later this month.  She is quoted as screaming at CBS President and CEO Les Moonves, "Meryl's in a god damn union for Christ's sake.  She has to work with Teamsters.  Damn right she wants this rectified."  No word yet on Moonves' reaction.  

Also unhappy about the "sport" of stoning teachers is Josh Groban.  People magazine is reporting that Groban expressed his concerns to Walmart and Walden Media producers after getting an earful from his art teacher mom. According to sources close to the star, Groban's mother is angry about more than just the stoning booth. She objects to the entire event which is a publicity vehicle for the movie "Don't Give Up." "I don't want you lending your time and talents to a movie that glorifies yet another way to turn public schools over to charter chains," Lindy Groban is reported as saying. "They can call it whatever they want, but this concert is not about honoring teachers. It's being put together by the same people who did 'Waiting for Superman.'"

Update: No Rocks Allowed
August 10, 2012 4:35pm EST
Los Angeles - Well that didn't take long.  After receiving hundreds of thousands of phone calls, emails, on-line petitions and tweets, the concert producers of "Teachers Rock" waved the white flag.  Through a Walden Media and Walmart spokesperson, it was announced moments ago that the Rock-a-Teacher booth will no longer be a part of the concert event.  Reading from a prepared statement, the spokesperson said, "No teachers will be harmed during the concert.  Not in a booth. Not by a youth. Not in the parking lot.  Not by an angry tot.  Not here. Not there. Not anywhere."

Les Moonves, President and CEO of CBS, is expected to issue a formal apology tomorrow.

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Read Diane Ravitch and Parents Across America twice.