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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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Sitcom Star Is Born?

Will Duncan become a television star?
Los Angeles - The celebrity news website TMZ is reporting that former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was spotted at cable and satellite television network TLC corporate headquarters.

After handing in his resignation to President Obama earlier today, Arne Duncan then flew to L.A. and met with several Hollywood bigwigs.

Reportedly Mr. Duncan is in negotiations with producers for his own prime time program.

Several sources have confirmed that the show will likely be a sitcom that pokes fun of Arne's penchant for misspeaking. Possible titles being bandied about include:
  • That's So Arne
  • Sons of Inanity
  • The Clumsy and the Clueless
  • IArne
  • Curb Your Enigmatic Spasms
  • That Darn Arne
  • Oops I Did It Again, and
  • Arne the Quagmired Mansplainer

"I'm not saying it's a sure thing," cautioned TLC producer Tampa Talla. "But given Arne Duncan's ability to both infuriate and bemuse... well let's just say he's got an unusual talent."

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Go to: A Top Ten of Duncan's Inanity

Sunday, November 17, 2013

White Suburban Moms Declared A Terrorist Group

Anti-Common Core terrorism will not be tolerated
Washington D.C. - Citing national security concerns, "white suburban moms" have been classified as a terrorist group.

The announcement was made by Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference held late Sunday evening. In an unusual move, Kerry stood alongside Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who was a key player in the decision. "It has been well-established that the poor state of public education is a grave national security risk. Given that the Common Core Standards (CCS) are the only acceptable solution to this security crisis and given that a good deal of the opposition to the CCS comes from these mothers, it has become obvious that the White Suburban Moms (WSM) are a threat to our national security."

Several reporters expressed concern that the administration's position was extreme. Duncan responded, "Unusual? Yes. Extreme? No. Have you seen these women when they attack? They are a voracious group. New York State Education Commissioner John King has tried to engage them on several occasions and each time he barely escaped with his life."

Although President Obama has not yet asked Congress for a declaration of war on the WSM, Secretary Kerry wouldn't rule it out. "We are looking to end this peaceably but at the same time, we are keeping all our options open.  In many ways, it reminds me of of Syria."

Asked if the moms who voiced complaints about the Common Core would be considered enemy combatants, Kerry looked at Duncan who responded, "Perhaps."

One such potential enemy combatant is Mary Bellmar of Long Island, New York. Mother of three and a part-time real estate agent, Mary began to grow concerned about the new standards when her sixth grade daughter declared that she hated school. "I spoke to her teacher about it and the woman told me the new standards coupled with testing pressures have led many students to make the same declaration. So I decided to get involved."

She began attending local school board and PTA meetings. "I spoke out against the Common Core Standards because they are untested. Is the government going to come after me for voicing my opinion?"

As if in response to Mary's concerns, Kerry closed his press conference with these words, "We are willing to negotiate with the WSM but we are not against using force if necessary. The Common Core will not be stopped. And these moms should know that Guantanamo Bay is capable of handling thousands of detainees if it comes to that. We're hoping, of course, that it won't come to that but well you never know."

Reality Alert: 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The King's Dictionary

The King's Dictionary has altered the meaning of
several terms. 
New York - The reigning Commissioner of Education for the State of New York, John King, has released the following dictionary of terms that he would like distributed at any other town hall meetings he deigns to attend.

accountability: fireability, what the King is above

child: learning unit available for sale to corporations (notable exceptions include: King's child(ren))

critical voices: that to which the King is deaf

democracy: a form of government in which people choose their leaders and their leaders choose not to listen to them because it is time-consuming and inconvenient

dissent:  that to which the King is impervious

education: marketplace

educators: pawns

experience: overblown requirement for teaching

evidence:  that which does not exist to support the use of Common Core Standards

knowledge: facts, information and skills not necessarily required before implementing state-wide learning standards

money: short cut around democratic process

parent:  easily manipulated adult unit in charge of child (see above)

Ravitch: she who must not be named

respect: what silent acquiescence shows

rigor: developmentally inappropriate

schooled: what the King got on October 10, 2013 in Poughkeepsie, NY

special interests:  those who disagree with the King's policies

Town Hall meeting: gathering at which the King speaks and you listen

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Go to: Parents Voice Concern About Common Core: NY Dept of Ed Cancels Further Hearings and video Commissioner King Gets Spanked.  

To call for John King's resignation, go to:  Terminate the Employment of John King

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Haunted School

The Michelle Rhee room proves scary
for both children and adults
New York City - Outside of P.S. 129 in the Bronx is a sign written in chalk on an old blackboard that invites children and adults to "Brave the haunted halls of education reform....if you dare." But if you plan on accepting the chilling invitation to enter, be prepared to wait a while because this modern take on a haunted house is so popular that getting inside can take as long as two hours.

The brainchild of PTA president Molly Shannon has been raking in thousands and thousands of dollars. "We do something like this every year to raise money for the school. But this year the response has just been incredible. We've made more money on our first weekend than we did all last year." The idea came to Shannon when she overheard a conversation between some teachers. "They were talking about how frightening all the changes in education were. Basically it just mushroomed from there."
Governor Cuomo is pro-death penalty for schools

So what exactly is so scary about the Haunted School? To find out, my husband, our two children and I decided to enter at our "own risk."

Upon entering the school, we were greeted by a robot-like coed sporting a Teach for America t-shirt and a forced smile. She promised to guide us through the house but one minute later she mysteriously disappeared and we entered the first leg of our tour without her. Jarring though that was, it was nothing compared to what awaited us. Without warning, "Michelle Rhee" leapt at our oldest child trying to tape his mouth shut. As my son cowered behind me, she threatened to remove my tenure while menacing me with a copy of the Common Core. As we escaped into the hallway, a new TFA guide greeted us. We asked him what happened to our old guide to which he cryptically replied, "She moved on."

In the next room, "Executioner Andrew Cuomo" threatened to execute our school if it failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress. "AYP," Cuomo screamed as he brandished his axe. That made my little girl cry so we stepped into the hall for a breather. Yet another new TFA guide got her some water. She too had no idea what had happened to our previous guides. "Change is good," she said to no one in particular.

Common Core bubble tests prove to
be the most frightening thing of all
Two kids were crying outside the room we next approached. One of them sniffled, "Please don't make me go back in there." What lurked inside? The scariest thing of all, a standardized test hanging from a corporate shill was enough to make both my children ask to go home. So unfortunately, I cannot tell you about the other terrible things that lay in wait for you at the Haunted School.

On a funny note, as we were looking for the exit (our guide had abandoned us again) we wandered into what we thought was a roomful of zombie children but it turned out they were actual kids just preparing for the specialized high school exam.

The haunted school is open daily from 4pm - 10pm. Admission is $5.00 for children under 12 and $10.00 for adults. There is also a hay ride, pumpkin patch and an Arne Duncan clown who hilariously attempts to juggle ethics and money.

Reality Alert: 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Big Box Charter School

Students wear name tags and
Walmart blue vests
Arkansas - The Walton family of Walmart fame has decided to open their own chain of for-profit charter schools. The first "Big Box Charter School" (BBCS) will be located in Bentonville, Arkansas which also serves as Walmart's corporate headquarters.

BBCS CEO P. Louis Bergoff announced, "Our flagship school will open its doors in August of 2014. As is the Walmart way, we will deliver a quality product while cutting costs. Thereby reaping huge profits for our investors."

Bergoff explained that the school will feature many of the same practices that have made the Walmart Corporation so profitable. "A new teacher can expect to earn $7.50 an hour, while those with experience might earn up to $12.50."

Bergoff admitted that it had been a struggle to attract qualified teachers at those wages. "American workers expect to be compensated fairly and they want things like health insurance so we decided to recruit abroad." All of the staff has been flown in from other countries including China, Haiti and Indonesia and will be housed in trailers behind the school. And since they live on campus, staff will be expected to supervise after-school activities and sports programs for no additional pay.

Bergoff bragged about other cost saving opportunities the school had already uncovered. "For instance, we are saving lots of money on cafeteria aides. Because our teachers qualify for the same free lunch program as their students, we expect them to supervise their students while they eat their government subsidized lunch in the cafeteria."

Asked if the teachers union had objected to the low pay and uncompensated additional duties, Bergoff responded, "Our company, I mean school, is union free. We have an open door policy with our employees and don't feel the need for any go-betweens. Employees can go straight to their supervisors if they have a problem and of course they are always free to seek employment elsewhere if they are unhappy."

What can students expect at the BBCS? According to the literature prepared for interested parents and made available to reporters during the press conference, students will be referred to as "associates" and issued blue vests with their names on name tags. "We think it is good practice for them," smiled Bergoff. Another hallmark of the school will be its "level of efficiency." Page two of a pamphlet describing the school day states, "We expect staff and students to regularly seek and find efficiencies. Students can expect to be timed during daily tasks by their stop watch carrying teachers and teachers can expect the same from their supervisors." Another glaring difference between the BBCS and Arkansas public schools seemed to lie in the school's curriculum which offers some unusual classes for older students such as a history class called, "The Regressive Era: How Unions Ruined America," a science class called, "Evolution Schmevolution" and a math class entitled, "How To Live On A Minimum Wage."

Representing her family, a beaming Alice Walton described the motivation for this undertaking, "For years, the Walton Family Foundation has donated money to support charter schools. Now we feel it's time they support us."

As is the Walmart way, the company/school plans to expand. "Initially we will open only one school but the following year we expect to open ten Big Box Charter Schools and we're shooting for 100 more the year after that," explained Bergoff. One can only hope.

Reality Alert: 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Finnished (stet)

Finnish president halts American visits to his country's schools
Helsinki - President Sauli Niinisto of Finland has called for a moratorium on tours of their schools by American visitors.

In a speech given Tuesday at the Presidential Palace, Niinisto cited both uselessness and human fatigue as reasons for discontinuing educational visits. "We are a kind and generous people and we are certainly flattered by your interest in our educational system. However, we have answered all your questions and shared all of our wisdom. It is up to the United States to actually do something with the knowledge it has gained. I believe Americans might say it is time to, 'Put up or shut up.' After all how many times can we tell you that we trust and respect teachers and don't administer standardized tests until students are almost ready for college?"

Finnish schools need a little "me time"
Moreover President Niinisto suggested the constant scrutiny was having a deleterious effect on teaching and learning. "We are exhausted from all your visits to our schools. Last year, just one of our schools hosted more than 200 reporters and 850 U.S. school superintendents. Students are having a difficult time focusing because of all the camera clicking. Teachers have no time to write lessons because they are being interviewed by reporters. Principals are so busy acting as tour guides that they have no time to run meetings or plan for the next school year. If we are to maintain our intellectual superiority, we must return to educating our populace."

President Niinisto finished his speech with these words, "We expected education reformers would do something in response to all they had learned from us but for some reason Americans just don't seem to be learning. Perhaps they have something other than improving public education as their goal."

Reality Alert: 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Replaceable You

A chart from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrates
that eventually every American will be a teacher
Washington D.C. - Have you ever dreamed of being a teacher? Well whether you have or you haven't, odds are that one day you will be employed as a classroom teacher. On Tuesday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report which predicted that by the year 2025 100% of Americans over the age of 24 will have worked as a teacher at some point in their life. Statistician Anzahl Lugner elaborated, "Given current trends, we feel it is inevitable that every American will eventually be able to say that he or she is or was a teacher."

How is this even possible? Lugner explained, "You've got baby boomers retiring coupled with the inevitable effects of linking teacher evaluations to student test scores. Some cities like Chicago are laying off teachers and finding cheaper and less qualified replacements while others are seeing an improving economy which has increased options for educators who feel disrespected, disgruntled and overworked. Finally, you have charter schools whose philosophy is to use up teachers and them spit 'em out." In fact, Lugner anticipates that in the very near future a 'veteran teacher' will be someone who has taught for 18 months.

According to the report, another possible ramification of high teacher turnover, will be the lowering of requirements for new teachers. Precedent for such a move already exists. For example, programs such as Teach for America wave certification requirements for incoming "teachers." It's possible that to fill empty positions, states will drop the requirement that teachers have college degrees. They might even be forced to drop the high school diploma expectation which would lead to the interesting and ironic situation of high school drop-outs teaching high school students."

When reached for comment Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, called Lugner's predictions, "Ridiculous but not surprising. The surprising thing is that anyone, anywhere wants to enter the revolving door that the teaching profession has become."

Reality Alert: 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Baby-faced Blackmailers

NYC's youngest criminals
major in reading, writing
and extortion
New York - Sometime on Thursday several elementary school students, who thought they were going on a field trip, were instead ushered into a police van and then taken to the local precinct. Their crime? The gang of eight-year-olds allegedly tried to shakedown their teachers.

At a press conference held by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. Friday morning, prosecutors shared some information about the suspects in the plot to extort favors from two of their teachers.

D.A. Vance said that four third graders from P.S. 6, whose names were being witheld because of their youth, had been charged with several counts of larceny. Further, it was revealed that over the course of several weeks, math teacher Sharon Norbury and physical education teacher Mi Yagi were repeatedly threatened with poor evaluations by the students if they failed to cooperate with student demands.

Prosecutors shared a letter written by the students and addressed to the teachers which said, "Even through [sic] you'r [sic] jobs suk [sic] , we bet u'd [sic] like to keep them. We can make that hapen [sic] for a price."

Eventually the educators reported the blackmailers to police and agreed to wear recording devices during negotiations with the pint-sized hooligans. On the recordings you can hear students promising to give teachers positive feedback on the newly implemented Tripod Student Survey if the teachers did what the students wanted. Demands included pizza parties, providing "lots of stickers" and extra recess time.

Neither Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott nor State Education Commissioner John King were available for comment about these recent developments, though they are largely responsible for giving third graders the burden/responsibility of rating teachers. However, Principal Willis DeWitt admitted that he should have known something was up, "I mean how many pizza parties can you have in one week? It was like a bacchanal in there. Kids dancing, eating paste, running with scissors, throwing Legos. One time I walked in and Ms. Norbury was tied up. She looked frightened but told me they were studying knot tying. I should have known better."

An arraignment is scheduled for Friday at 2:15pm.

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Go to: King Unveils Long-Awaited Evaluations Systems For City Educators

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Top Ten Reasons I Joined Teach for America by Kai Merikal

Kai is an eager
TFA recruit
Kai Merikal, a twenty-two-year-old from Wisconsin, will be teaching fourth graders in Newark, New Jersey beginning in September. Below she shares her reasons for joining Teach for America.

10.  I didn't get into law school yet.
  9.  I want to be sainted.
  8.  I believe if I believe hard enough that my students can learn, they will.
  7.  How difficult could teaching really be?
  6.  Because I'm blind to the long-term consequences of my actions.
  5.  My other temp job didn't offer health insurance.
  4.  I ran out of things to blog about.
  3.  After just two TFA years, I'm qualified to head up just about any school district
       that education reformers can get their hands on.
  2.  It's the only way I could get TFA recruiters to stop calling and emailing me.
  1.  The kids I'm going to teach are already so screwed up, how much harm can      
       having an untrained teacher do?

Reality Alert: 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Common Core: Education Aberrations

Please note: This is NOT satire. 

Visited a school the other day and saw this:
How did China's command economy change in the 1980's?

To which grade was this question addressed?
Third grade, which for most kids is 8 years old. Any answer they give will only be a parrotting of what the teacher said. It will not reflect any true understanding on the part of these young students. How could it? 

It is a perfect example of the crap they pass off as education today. More difficult work does NOT automatically mean more learning - particularly when it is not cognitively appropriate. If it were otherwise, then kindergarteners should write theses.

Please share your own Common Core aberrations of education.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

This Test Brought To You By....

McDonalds is just one of many
 corporations interested in the program 
Albany, NY - Responding to budget cuts, officials at New York State's Education Department unveiled a new program for public schools that has the potential to raise millions of dollars - product placement. At a press conference on Friday inside the newly named "Staples Building," Commissioner of Education Dr. John King was all smiles as he described the novel program. "With a nod to the movie-making industry and the recognition that many of our school districts are financially strapped, we have decided to allow corporations to place their product names in state and local tests administered to students throughout the year."

As described by Commissioner King, the program works much as it does in Hollywood, with corporations paying for the right to have their name (or a product's name) featured prominently during a movie or in this case, an exam. The program has already been tested at several schools around the state, including on this year's Common Core English Language Arts exam. "Oh sure, somebody always complains about something," responded King to a question about selling the state's young to the highest bidder. "But we need the money and the kids are so used to advertising anyhow. They probably won't even notice."

Students at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, which was part of the pilot program, may or may not have noticed that their eighth grade science exam featured several questions "bought" by corporations. For instance, one of the questions prodded students to, "Name a carnivore you see in this drawing." The drawing showed an idyllic pond surrounded by trees and animals such as hawks, deer, fish and a bear. In the background was a factory bearing the name, "Union Carbide."

Another question was sponsored by energy company Con Edison which paid to have its name placed on the roof of a building in a diagram of an electric power plant built next to a river. The accompanying question read, "Describe one positive impact on this type of power plant on the environment." Later Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke admitted that the company doesn't actually operate a single dam.

Other companies wove their product placements in more subtly. For example, one question related to the sexual reproduction of rabbits, featured a footnote that read, "Offspring can be prevented with the use of protection." Although the company's name was not present, Dr. King revealed that Church and Dwight Company, which produces Trojan condoms, had paid for that footnote.

"Sometimes a company wants to put out a message but not have their name directly affiliated with that message and we're o.k. with that," explained King. Though the Commissioner was all smiles at the press conference, there have been some hitches.

Commissioner King enthusiastically
described the program.
An anonymous source at New York's Education Department revealed that Walmart was hoping to sponsor the United States History and Government Regents Examination. However, the company objected to the number and nature of questions related to the rise of labor unions. The state refused to change the questions on the test but a spokesperson said that they might reconsider for next year's exam, "If the price was right." And Walmart wasn't the only disappointed corporation. Although R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company negotiated for days with an elementary school in Somers, NY, they were unable to convince officials to place sunglasses on the picture of a camel which accompanied a story about the desert on a third grade English exam.

Still King is enthusiastic about the program's potential. "It could raise an enormous amount of money for some really strapped schools." He gleefully pointed out that Citicorp, Goldman Sachs and AIG are currently in a "very competitive bidding war" to gain the rights to sponsor every exam given at Stuyvesant High School, located in the financial district. "I think they see a natural affiliation with the student body," commented King. "I have instructed my staff that their top priority is to speed and facilitate negotiations between interested parties so that we can see the results on this year's tests and of course in our budgets."

When asked if he saw anything ironic in Dunkin' Donuts sponsoring the final exam for a Mt. Vernon High School class entitled, "Nutrition for the 21st Century," Commissioner King said he would not make such judgments. "Our attitude is that everything is open for discussion."

Several corporation heads were also on hand to answer questions from reporters including, Pepsico's CEO Indra Nooyi. She described the opportunity as, "a marketing dream." "Getting our message out to young people when they are in an excited state, as they most certainly are during an exam, is giving us the chance to create a mental tattoo for our brand." Pepsico paid an undisclosed amount to place their Frito Lay brand throughout the health class midterms at Niagra Falls High School.

Although not yet sponsors, the Education Department admitted that they are currently in negotiation with several high profile companies including: Anheuser-Busch, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, BP Global and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Go to New Standardized Tests Feature Plugs for Commercial Products and Learn ABC's - & IBM's. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Queen Bee's Radical Promotions

New York City - As we've previously reported, Michelle Rhee has been garnering publicity for her book "Radical" by engaging in unusual stunts around media outlet rich New York City. Today's stunt placed Ms. Rhee at the Barnes and Noble on Broadway and 82nd Street where she swallowed bumble bees at the rate of two every ten seconds. While this may seem like an odd way to garner attention for a book, HarperCollins, the book's publisher, reminded us that Ms. Rhee gained respect from her first class by swatting and then swallowing a bee in front of them. You can't make this stuff up, folks (well maybe just a little bit).

Reality Alert: 
Interested in how we came to write this? Go to: The Michelle Rhee You Don't Know and Michelle Rhee's Book is a Huge Failure

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cherry-picking: It Isn't Just For Fruit Anymore

Philadelphia - Global Alliance Charter School is scrambling today to respond to questions from the School District of Philadelphia about its complicated and some say overbearing application process.

Should charter schools be allowed
to have barriers to admission?
The application, which is more than 10-pages in length, requires  a 3,000-word essay, responses to 20 short-answer questions, proof of citizenship for the child and parents, three recommendations, and an interview. Additionally, parents of Global applicants have to complete a lengthy obstacle course which includes:  outrunning a pack of wild dogs, scaling an 8-foot fence, bench pressing their own body weight and trying to stay awake while watching, "Won't Back Down" (a movie about turning a public school into a charter school).

"I thought I could do it," explained Marlena Johnson, a parent who failed to complete the application process. "I knew the dogs would be tough but what I didn't count on was that movie. I fell asleep ten minutes into it."

Does cherry-picking students
lead to higher test scores?
Charter schools have come under frequent criticism from several sources, most notably teacher unions, for their admission process which weeds out "undesirable" children. Exactly who are the "undesirable" students? Those notorious for bringing down test scores such as English language learners, children from troubled or disinterested homes and those with special needs.

"These barriers to admission are a disgrace. More people got around the Berlin Wall than manage to get into these charter schools," complained Jerry T. Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. "And then people want to know why those schools perform better on standardized tests. It's because they rig the system - cherry-picking students."

Asked to explain why the process to get into a so-called public charter school was so difficult, Global's founder and Chief Executive Officer Ronald Mulla had this to say, "We stand by our application process. After all, it's called 'school-choice' for a reason. Our school is merely choosing which students are admitted."

Meanwhile just down the street from Global sits Andrew Jackson Elementary a real public school. It requires just three things before admitting a student: proof of address, age and vaccinations. "Basically we take everyone who comes through the door. We believe it's what public education is meant to do," said naive principal Mike Larts. Asked if he thought the application process might in some part be responsible for Global besting his students on last year's state exams, Mr. Larts shook his head, "I don't know, but it sure is hard to win the beauty contest when you've got all the ugly kids."

Reality Alert: 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Time To Be Cruelty-Free

Unlike school children, lab rats
enjoy some protection from testing
Virginia – Well-known for their anti-fur advertisements featuring naked celebrities, this week People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) came out against another type of testing – standardized testing of students. At a press conference on Wednesday held at their Norfolk headquarters a spokesperson articulated the organization’s position as follows:

As most people know, PETA is focused on ending animal suffering. Typically we work to protect animals such as rats, rabbits and chickens from cruelty in laboratories and on farms. However, today we are speaking on behalf of human animals, namely the American public school student. Every year millions of children are routinely tortured in the name of educational measurement by the standardized testing industry. They suffer through unnecessary field, diagnostic and predictive testing. We were sickened to learn that at any given minute during the school day, more than 1,100 American children are being tested in some capacity. There are rats in pharmaceutical labs that undergo less testing.

Even chickens  destined for  your
dinner plate get some sunlight
Caged in their classrooms for hours prepping for exams, schoolchildren see less sun than a Purdue chicken. Moreover, these unnecessary examinations teach us nothing about a child's intelligence or their level of understanding because students of different abilities absorb, process and make meaning of information differently. This made us wonder: why are there limits on the number of performances a Ringling Brother's elephant can be in, but no limits on testing children?

PETA urges parents and guardians to choose cruelty-free schools for their children, that is those schools in which standardized testing is not used as the predominant measure of student learning. How can you tell which schools are cruelty-free? They are the ones to which wealthy people send their children. Of course, another option would be to consider opting-out of tests.

To keep pressure on those responsible for these cruel and never-ending examinations sign the petitions below and join the thousands of caring Americans who refuse to participate in the excessive testing of the most innocent of animals - school children.

National petitionNew York's petitionAmerican Federation of Teachers petition,
South Carolina's petitionChicago's petitionPresident petition

Reality Alert: 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Radical Promoter

A sticky mishap cost Rhee the world record
New York City - To promote the release of her new book, "Radical," Michelle Rhee attempted to set a world record by duct taping the mouths of twenty children in less than a minute. The old record (yes, there is one) of 18 people in one minute, was held by a serial killer from Indiana. Sadly Ms. Rhee's efforts fell short. She had a strong start, applying the adhesive material flawlessly to the first eight children but at the ninth, the tape stuck to her fingers and it threw off her timing. She fell far short of the record, managing to seal the mouths of only 14 kids in 60 seconds. Commenting on her performance, Ms. Rhee admitted, "I should have practiced more. You can't just rest on your laurels."

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Giving New Meaning To Class Action Lawsuit

Newark, NJ - On Thursday morning, there was a shouting match outside of Elma Street Elementary School as a teacher and several parents exchanged angry words.

"I deserve that $5,000 bonus," the teacher yelled.

"Well if you're such a good teacher then why didn't my boy pass that exam?" countered a parent.

What was the hullabaloo about? Several parents had discovered that they and their children were being sued by fourth grade teacher Sandra Wettfeld. In a legal maneuver widely acknowledged to be the first of its kind, the New Jersey educator filed suit against five of her former students and their families for loss of income. The basis for Wettfeld's lawsuit was explained that afternoon at the law offices of Slaughter & Hem.

Lawrence Slaughter, who specializes in educational law, described Ms. Wettfeld's case, "Basically, we are suing because under the Newark Teachers Union contract, Ms. Wettfeld can earn an extra $5,000 if she is rated as "Highly Effective" which is largely based on her students' test scores. Several of her students did not perform as they should have which resulted in her losing that bonus money. So she's looking to be compensated by those students and their families who failed to live up to expectations."

Wettfeld explained, "No one teaches to the test better than I do. So I knew I would get some bonus money when the scores came back." She paused to wipe a tear from her eye, "I stayed late, wrote great lessons and offered extra help but I've got students who don't come to school regularly. Students who don't sit still because they're hungry or distracted. Students who don't do their homework or go to bed on time. And those things are not my fault; they're the kids' fault and the parents' fault. Why should I suffer?"

Though not yet named as defendants, Slaughter's law partner May Hem is researching the viability of adding the school district and teachers union to the lawsuit. "Let's face it, we're going after the families because their kids failed the tests but if you want to get justice, you have to go after the clowns who thought this type of compensation was just.

Although the school district and mayor's office both refused to comment on the lawsuit, Newark Teachers Union President Joseph Del Grosso called it, "a step in the wrong direction." Addressing the media on Friday, Mr. Del Grosso said, "Parents, teachers and students should not have an adversarial relationship but once money is introduced, well that has a way of changing things." Asked if he should have thought of that before agreeing to the contract that ties teacher income to student test performance, Del Grosso commented, "I think some things are unforeseeable."

Perhaps less unforeseeable, the slew of virtually identical lawsuits that have been filed in other states since Wettfeld's press conference. Though the legal ground for such cases is still swampy, in just a few days eight similar suits have been filed in Washington D.C. and Oregon where merit pay systems are also in place. Legal pundits are watching to see the outcome of these cases with great interest. Slaughter put it this way, "We understand this case is charting new territory which of course carries some risks. However, this territory has the potential to be quite lucrative."

Back at Elma Street Elementary, parent and named defendant Sam Oliver seemed less annoyed than embarrassed and frightened as he looked over legal documents, "Our family had a tough year. I lost my job and well maybe we weren't as academically-focused at home as we could have been but... we just don't have this kind of money. I don't even know if I can afford a lawyer."

Michelle Rhee's organization StudentsFirst released this bold statement in reference to the suit, "To paraphrase Arne Duncan's iconic quote about the education opportunities Hurricane Katrina created, we believe that tying teacher income to student scores was the best thing to happen in Newark schools because strife creates opportunity."

Reality Alert: 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Infraction Transaction: City To Fine Students For Misbehaving

New York City - Facing a shortfall of almost half a billion dollars because his administration failed to reach an agreement with city teachers over an evaluation system, Mayor Bloomberg has decided to borrow an idea from charter schools to raise funds for education. He's allowing NYC schools to fine students for violations of Department of Education policies.

Under new DOE rules, schools will collect
fines from unruly students
"The idea of there being consequences for actions is not a new one," said hizzoner on Friday at a press conference announcing the new program entitled, "Infraction Transaction." "It's just that this time, the consequences will contain a financial pinch. Beginning next year, students will be fined if they break school rules. While the amounts will be minimal, anywhere from a quarter to $5.00 per infraction, we expect the results will be tremendous."

When asked if he was worried that some students and their families might not be able to afford the fines, the billionaire laughingly scoffed, "Don't do the crime if you ain't got a dime."

Several administrators from schools that utilized financial deterrents as part of a pilot program were on hand to answer questions. They touted the idea but not because it effectively improved student behavior. Instead administrators praised the program as a great way to increase revenue. Assistant Principal Beau Argent of Midwood High School in Brooklyn explained, "Last year we couldn't afford to buy paper. But this year because of all the money we collected, we were able to buy an entire year's worth of paper and two new copy machines."

A bit of research also revealed that individual teachers had successfully used financial penalty systems in their classrooms for years. Mr. Dan Ero, who teaches American History at Lehman High School in the Bronx, credits its stringent implementation with enabling him to retire early.

"I demand a quarter for each rule infraction," explained Ero as he pointed to a jar half-filled with quarters. "I expected to retire after the 2019-2020 school year but because of this jar, I will be able to retire at the end of this year. I just wish I had thought of it sooner."

With a promise of maintaining their anonymity, two students voiced their dissatisfaction with Mr. Ero's costly consequences. "It used to kind of make sense, like put a quarter in the jar when you cursed or when you were late to school. Then it got stricter," complained one student.

"Now you have to kick in when you're out sick, when you use a pen instead of a pencil or when he thinks you're not paying attention. Last week I got fined because my shoes were untied."  noted another pupil.

Parent advocate and founder of the NYC Public School Parent blog, Leonie Haimson was not pleased with the new program. "The mayor continues to demonstrate the sensitivity of a skunk in a perfume factory when it comes to the needs of working families."

It what the city claims is unrelated news, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced New York City public schools will implement a new stricter disciplinary code effective next year.

Reality Alert: 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Where Have All The Instructional Days Gone?

Albany - An examination of the New York State testing schedule for this school year holds a surprise. For the first time in the state's history, more days will be spent on testing and test preparation than on actual instruction.

In any given month, there are approximately
eight instructional days
New York State's Education Commissioner John King held a press conference to confirm this unusual occurrence. "We acknowledge that given the number of days for benchmark assessments, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, state tests, mid-terms, finals, exams for English Language Learners and those taking alternative assessments, unit tests, make-up days for those who were absent and given that teachers typically use the weeks before a high-stakes exam for test preparation, that for the first time in New York State history there are actually fewer instructional days than testing days."

Asked if he saw anything wrong with requiring more testing than teaching, Commissioner King responded, "I don't really give a crap. My children attend private school."

The president of New York State's largest teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew issued this statement, "In response to the shifting job responsibilities of our membership, we have changed our name to the United Federation of Test Administers. We want to reassure our membership that the UFTA will continue to work to protect their rights and to defend public education." When someone in the crowd snorted, Mulgrew had him forcibly removed.

Outside of PS 61 in Brooklyn, ten-year-old Aaron Bossier was asked how he felt about the new schedule. "I used to like school. We went on trips and did fun projects. Now it's all bundles and tests, bundles and tests.  Aren't we going to learn anything?"