Other People’s Children

Black child 400

Mark Naison: School reform, as it is being implemented today, destabilizes poor communities and inflicts a regimen of test prep on the nation’s children which destroys their joy of learning but the policy makers are buffered from the consequences of the decisions they make for other people’s children.

Why Create a Teacher Oral History Project?

united opt out

Mark Naison: Our goal is to have teachers around the country to describe how they have experienced No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, and the policies stemming from them, in their professional lives.

Has the War on Teachers Morphed Into a War on Children?

opt out of school testing

Mark Naison: As I have become involved with an Opt Out movement in New York State that has inspired thousands of families to demand that their children be allowed to sit out state tests, I have become even more appalled by what current school policies are doing to children.

A Teacher’s Message to President Obama: Teachers Not the Problem, Poverty Is

obama with school kids

Mark Naison: “For anyone who says teachers are to blame for our students failing, I have one thing to say: How DARE you? Teachers are heroes to a lot of children who have none!”

Why School Test Resistance May Be About to Sweep the Nation

morna mcdermott

Mark Naison: As high-stakes tests have proliferated in our public schools, and are increasingly used as the basis of closing schools and firing teachers, more and more people despair of challenging policies that have bi-partisan support, are championed by the media, have the nation’s economic elite pressing for their implementation.

Why Tenure Matters

architecture professor

Mark Naison: Workers who approach their jobs with real autonomy and creativity are a threat to a system that thrives on intimidation and micromanagement as ways of extracting “productivity.” And in which productivity gains almost exclusively accrue to those at the top.

The Atrophied Conscience of Apartheid America

stop and frisk

Mark Naison: What is daily life for young people of color who are poor is quite literally out of sight and out of mind, and thereby unimaginable, not only for middle class and wealthy residents of cities, but for the mayors of thoses cities.

The School Reform Credo

school reformers

Mark Naison: We must also unleash the genius of the business world into the system by subcontracting test development and evaluation to corporations with the resources to do these well and have all school employees wages and salaries targeted to performance the way virtually all business do.

Teacher Oral History Project to Document the Destructive Impact of School Reform

mark naison and students

Mark Naison: It is one thing to show, as a Met Life Survey has, that teacher satisfaction has plunged to the lowest level on record, dropping 25 percent since Barack Obama took office, it is another to describe in detail why this has taken place, and what the texture of teachers lives has been since policy makers have started evaluating schools and individual teachers on the basis of student test scores

Why School Boards Love Temporary Teachers

young teacher

Mark Naison: Why any school district would want to bring in teachers who have been trained for five weeks and have no classroom experience to replace teachers with years of training, experience, and mentoring would seem to defy common sense unless one considers the budgetary considerations at stake.

The Making of an “Educational Saboteur”

obama school kids

Mark Naison: In the last five years, I have had to switch gears and devote large amounts of time to protecting my profession and the institutions I have built, against powerful forces seeking to reduce teaching and learning to quantifiable “outcomes.”

How Trying to Get Rid of Bad Teachers Has Demoralized Our Best

teacher and student

Mark Naison: When presidents, or governors, or mayors create educational policy or school reform commissions, they make sure that business leaders and foundation heads have the determining voice, with lifetime educators, especially teachers, often entirely excluded.

Public Schools as Community Centers

Basketball jump - dark silhouettes

Mark Naison: After school and night centers were a fixture of every public school in New York City until they were closed during the NYC fiscal crisis of the 1970’s.

Looming Crisis in Higher Education

Student Loans 400

Mark Naison: Too many college graduates are leaving college with huge debt and no realistic prospects of paying off the debt

Teachers as Collateral Damage

Mark Naison: Teachers have become “collateral damage” of an effort to transform public education from above, financed and implemented by people who regard teachers with contempt.

10 Education Reform Tactics That Hurt Students and Don’t Improve Education

black student

Mark Naison: Deluging schools with tests in every grade and every subject beginning with pre-kindergarten, to the point where little else goes on in school but preparing for tests.

Double Whammy: School Reform Amidst Austerity

basketball court

Mark Naison: the most tragic thing about this kind of austerity is that school districts have shown they are far more willing to use increasingly scarce funds on testing and evaluation rather than art, music, sports, gym, and school counselors and librarians.

When Profits Rise but Wages Stagnate

Greed wide

Mark Naison: The last time we had an extended period of profits rising while wages stagnated was the 1920′s – many historians view this as the most significant underlying cause of the Great Depression.

My Vision for Revitalizing Public Education

Mark Naison: I think you begin with creating a child-friendly environment. That means sharply reducing the number of tests, leaving ample room for exercise and play, giving primacy to the arts, and having instructions in subject areas, when possible, incorporate hands-on learning and project based activity.

Diane Ravitch Warnings Ignored

Diane Ravitch

Mark Naison: Ravitch, an Undersecretary of Education in the Bush Administration, and an initial supporter of “No Child Left Behind” warned against many of the policies that are destroying our public education system.

When It’s Revolutionary For Militants NOT to Carry Guns

obesity-wide

Mark Naison: At a time when the connection between guns and radical activism is being fiercely debated, I want to point to two moments in American Labor history where militants chose NOT to carry guns

Are Our Best Teachers an Endangered Species?

teacher pencil

Mark Naison: Given the fault lines that have been revealed in our society by Hurricane Sandy, the last election, and the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, do we really want to make our schools so impersonal and bureaucratic that the best teachers leave

Teach for America Leaders: This Generation’s Robert McNamara’s and McGeorge Bundy’s?

robert mcnamara

Mark Naison: Policies which claim to be in the “public interest” that only affect other people’s children and affirm race and class privilege, should be subject to the most careful kind of scrutiny.

The Power of Kindness: Young Men and Violence

angry young man

Mark Naison: We need to have more people reaching out with love and support to the wounded children who surround us, inside and outside of our schools.

Hope for Embattled Educators

Standardized Testing Students wide

Mark Naison: We now have a Counter Narrative, based on strong scholarship as well as experience, which warns that Reform policies are likely to widen educational disparities rooted in race and class and weaken the nation’s schools by driving out the most committed teachers.

Occupy, Wal Mart Strikes, and the Contagion of Solidarity

occupy la

Mark Naison: The only weapon working people have against the power of concentrated wealth is a contagion of Solidarity.

School Closings and Public Policy: The Anatomy of a Catastrophe

michael bloomberg

Mark Naison: The idea of closing low performing schools, designated as such entirely on the basis of student test scores, removing half of their teaching staff and all of their administrators, and replacing them with a new school, has tremendous appeal among business leaders and almost none among educators.

Occupy Sandy Builds on Longstanding Progressive Tradition

occupy sandy food line

Mark Naison: The Occupy Movement is making a turn to communal action and mutual aid that the most effective radical organizations in American history all employed at key points in their history.

Why Iowans Doubled-Down on Obama

farm holiday association

Mark Naison: Some people are astonished that a 92 percent white state, which is heavily agricultural, voted for President Obama in two straight elections.

Sorry, Occupy

occupy sandy

Mark Naison: The transformative role that Occupy activists have played in coordinating relief to the hardest hit victims of Hurricane Sandy has shown me that the Occupy networks that survived the evictions were much stronger than I realized.

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