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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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.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Bagel Summit" for Randi and Campbell?

Washington D.C. - American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and former CNN journalist Campbell Brown received an unexpected invitation today from President Barack Obama. At a press conference, Obama invited both women to the White House for “some bagels and lox” (a nod to the fact that both women are Jews or have lived in New York City we don’t know which).  He expressed his hope that the “Bagel Summit” would "cool things off between the two."

The women have been digitally feuding since Ms. Brown charged, in a Wall Street Journal piece, that teacher unions allow sexual predators to stay in the classroom.  Ms. Weingarten shot back that this was nonsense, citing both the language of the UFT/NYC contract and the Fourth Amendment. The two then exchanged battling tweets for 48-hours. The Twitter war caught the eye of some in the beltway, including Politico and the Washington Post. Thus bringing it to the president's attention.

“The fact that it [the Twitter war] has garnered so much attention is a testimony to the fact that this is a sensitive issue,” the President said.  “They are both outstanding people who just, you know, lost their goddamn minds." Asked to comment on the President’s words, Weingarten said, “Well one of us is outstanding.”

The invitation has its critics. Michelle Rhee suggested that the summit might have a negative impact on education reform.  “Quite frankly, we don’t want union leaders to be seen eating in public. It is not in our best interests that they be perceived as human.”

At last report, neither Campbell nor Weingarten had accepted the president's offer.

Reality Alert: Interested in how we came to write this? Read Sara Jaffe here.

NYC Charter School Accepts First High Needs Student

Press Release: NYC DOE
Joining the ranks of Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks, ten-year-old Brandon Martinez struck a blow for educational civil rights this week when he became the first special needs student accepted for enrollment by a NYC charter school.  "I'm excited for this opportunity," the boy smiled naively.

Amid growing evidence that some charter schools weed out children they presume will underperform on high stakes examinations, Profit Is Power Charter School (PIP) admitted Brandon to its program. PIP, which shares space with eight other public schools in a building in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood, is excited to have him.  "We look forward to the challenge and to counseling him out in a few months," smiled Dick Hatch, founder and Chief Executive Officer of PIP.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Got Wood? If You're a Male Student In LA, You Better Hope Not

Louisiana - Caving into pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Delhi Charter School in Louisiana has apparently backed away from its policy of forcing female students to take pregnancy tests and then expelling them if the tests are positive.  After receiving a letter from the ACLU stating the practice was "unconstitutional" and threatening further legal action, the school reversed its policy.

Instead, the school is now seeking to attack the problem at its root (so to speak).  According to a statement released by the school today, male students who get an erection during school hours will be asked to take a daily dose of potassium nitrate, aka salterpeter, to be administered by the school nurse.  If the student refuses to take the chemical compound, which is thought to induce impotence, he can be expelled.  The ACLU is examining the new practice.  "We may have to go after this one too," said Marjorie Esman who has the thankless job of being the Executive Director of the ACLU in Louisiana.

Teacher administrator Nicki Roaark had no comment about the use of saltpeter but lots of the seventh grade male students did.  However, due to the content of their language, none of those comments are publishable.

Reality Alert: Interested in how we came to write this? Read real story here.

Ravitch Home Raided

Police Blotter - New York
Police personnel from the Critical Incident Unit broke into education historian Diane Ravitch's home after she failed to Tweet or blog for a full forty-five minutes yesterday.

"Our department received numerous 911 calls from concerned followers of Ravitch's Twitter and blog accounts, so we had to respond," explained Captain Mark Deral.

It turns out the outspoken critic of educational policies such as high-stakes testing was merely taking a nap.  "She was very surprised to see us while we were mostly relieved." Deral said.

Through a spokesperson, Ravitch said she would try to be more vigilant in her communication.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Grin and Bear It: Teachers Paddled in Texas

Laredo - A New York Times editorial entitled, "Carrots and Sticks for Schools" called for rewards for "good teachers while easing chronic low performers out of the system."  What they apparently didn't know is that a small charter school in Texas beat them to it - literally.

"When the principal first told me to bend over and accept the paddling, I thought he had lost his mind," recounts Jeremy Finn of Harmony Science Academy in Laredo.  "But now I understand and can even see that he was right.  When my students do well on tests, I get rewarded with coupons for food." And when they don't?  Finn bows his head and recites, "Well then I haven't done my job and deserve to be paddled."

Food coupons entitle teachers and their families to eat for free at local eateries such as Sonic Drive-in, the Corn House and Posh Sushi Express. Fifth grade teacher Mary Robinson, who amazingly hasn't had a student fail a test in three years, speaks very highly of the program. "I'm uncertified so I get paid less than other teachers and the coupons really help my family make ends meet."

"The system works for us," smiled James McFadden principal of Harmony while brandishing an long wooden paddle.  "Usually I only have to swat a teacher once and then they learn to get those kids to pass the test but fast....or they quit."

Turnover has been high at Harmony with more than 75% of teachers leaving during the 2011-2012 school year, the year the school first began sticking it to teachers.  However, with only minor improvements in the economy, many educators feel they have little choice but to grin and bear it. Last year, turnover was just over 40% and McFadden thinks that number will go down farther still.  "As long as you hire young teachers, they don't know any better."  As for the older ones who have hung around, principal McFadden has his own theory, "I think we have a few staffers who like it."

The paddles were paid for by a generous grant from the Walton Foundation while a soothing balm is distributed courtesy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Reality Alert: Interested in how we came to write this? Read NYTimes here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Vultures Reported at Area Schools

Police Blotter:
Police received several calls this week from concerned community members and several teachers who reported seeing vultures on the grounds of neighborhood schools.  Police investigated but made no arrests when it turned out it was just educational vendors hawking Common Core materials.

Reality Alert: 

Sit Down for Education

Press Release:
Recognizing the needs of lazy Americans, Michelle Rhee and Jonah Edelman have announced they are forming a new organization to be called, "Sit Down for Education."  It will align its efforts with Edelman's other organization, Stand Up for Education.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the self-important Ms. Rhee explained, "Many Americans would like to support our efforts to blindly make educational changes without checking for efficacy but they have complained that they just don't want to make the effort. With our new organization, they can Tweet and sign on-line petitions from the comfort of their own beds."

Mr. Edelman, most famous for disappointing his civil rights advocating mother, continued, "Now lazy people can also participate in over-simplifying complex issues and maligning educators without the unnecessary effort of having to get up, learn about the topics or understand what they're talking about."

Joel Klein, who will serve on the board of Sit Down for Education, praised Rhee, "I was gobsmacked when she shared this idea with me." Conversely, Marian Wright Edelman refused to comment on her son's efforts to privatize public education through the joint efforts of powerful financiers and weak-minded politicians, "I have nothing to say about that young man."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cheating on Exams: Teacher Colleges Offer New Course

This Just In...
Several teacher colleges are now offering classes designed to improve student exam scores the old fashioned way: by cheating.

"Yesterday we practiced coughing and saying the letter "B" at the same time," said Martha Whitely a fourth grade teacher at John Lindsey Public School in Staten Island.  "Next week we are going to learn how to seat students so they can share answers."

Fordham University's Dean of Education is pleased with the course's popularity.  "We have opened three sections of 'Cheating for Success' and we still can't meet demand," smiled Dean Dorothy Eppis.

When asked to comment, Mayor Bloomberg said he was glad to know that next year's math and ELA scores will be good ones.

Teachers Suck More Than They Used To

Washington D.C. - There is an epidemic of bad teaching in U.S. schools, reports the federal Centers for Disease Control and it shows no signs of waning.  At a press conference on Tuesday, Dr. Haniff Gupta said, "Based on flawed tests administered once a year to students, we have determined that teachers suck more than they used to.  We're trying to get this under control but we're not sure what is causing it."  

The highest rates of infection among teachers seem to be in neighborhoods with the greatest percentage of students qualifying for free lunch. Additionally, the disease seems especially virulent among middle school teachers.  "I don't know what I did wrong.  It's a really difficult job," whined 7th grade English teacher Jennifer Rose of I.S. 200 in the Bronx. Dr. Gupta, whose study was partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, noted that "bellyaching" was one of the symptoms of Bad Teaching Disease (BTD).  Other signs include pointing to studies that evidence no relationship between student exams and teacher competence and following Diane Ravitch on Twitter.

Scientists are also having a difficult time determining why the plague seems localized to under-served communities.  "While we are grateful it hasn't spread, it is an unusual phenomenon," noted Gupta.  

"Thank God, it hasn't infected our schools," said Mindy DeHoog whose daughter Blakely attends the Gifted and Talented School for the Children of Job Creators (GTSCJC), a public school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. "I would hate to have to move to the suburbs."

The CDC's press release noted that, "The public should rest assured knowing the government is doing everything it can to blame teachers unions for the outbreak.  Meanwhile, our best scientists are on the case and we expect to announce an untested cure as soon as Michelle Rhee tells us what it is."

Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, could not be reached for comment though she was spotted wearing a surgical mask.

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