Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nashua students rally to support teachers

I am appalled that parents are not distressed over this matter, it only goes to show the many decades of indoctrination into socialism that has gone on in our public schools. My guess is that these children have no idea as to how much these teachers actually make, the benefits they receive, how many hours they actually work and the how much their constitutionally protected pensions will be in the future. These children may also have no idea as to how much their parents pay in taxes and how that is taking away from their very own college funds. My guess is that these children have no concept of free markets or economics.

According to the NECAP scores 45% of eleventh graders tested "substantially below proficient" in math. Do you think these children can really understand the consequences of a teachers contract and the impact it has on the community and the pension system.

The following article appeared in the Union Leader.

Nashua students rally to support teachers
Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA – A group of fired-up students stood in the early morning cold outside their school yesterday to show support for their teachers, who have been working without a contract since September 2006.

About 60 Nashua High School North students held signs with slogans, including "Our Teachers are Priceless" and "Time for a Contract," as they urged passing cars to honk to show their support.

Students Megan Caron, Billy Flynn and Sonia Baker said they organized the rally to show the teachers they're behind them.

"No matter what our differences are on the contract, we all support our teachers," Caron said.

Teachers are on a work-to-rule schedule, so there are fewer clubs or other extracurricular activities, said Caron.

"I support the work to rule," she said. "The teachers are having a hard time with it."

Nashua High School North students Katie Delaney, Kaitlin Scheerhoorn and Elizabeth Amaral demonstrate outside their school yesterday to show support for their teachers, who have been working without a contract for 18 months. (SUZANNE BATES)

Nashua North Principal David Ryan said he was aware of the demonstration and that he admired the students for supporting their teachers.

He said his only request was that participating students make it to class on time. The 22 students who stayed out past the morning bell will probably receive detention, he said.

Negotiations between teachers and district officials have been going on for 18 months. Several contracts have been sent to the board of aldermen for a vote, but none have made it through untouched.

The rhetoric on both sides heated up this week when teachers responded to the city's actions on the newest version of the long-contested contract.

City aldermen approved the tentative agreement, but the number of supporters wasn't enough to add the money it would have taken to fully fund the contract.

After Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau used a line-item veto to strike retroactive raises from the contract -- raises teachers would have received for the 2006-07 school year -- teachers voted Tuesday to give union officials the authority to call any type of job action, including a strike.

Under New Hampshire law, it is illegal for teachers to strike.

"Teachers and school nurses have reached the end of their rope.

They have compromised and conceded enough. It is time for the city leaders to get serious and agree to a package that shows respect and fairness for these professionals," said Robert Sherman, teacher union president, in a press release.

Yesterday, union and district negotiators released a press release saying they were at an impasse over the mayor's actions and would move to mediation.

A meeting, to be moderated by the mediator, will be held in two weeks, according to the release. Lozeau, Nashua Superintendent Christopher Hottell, representatives from the Board of Alderman, the Board of Education and union officials are expected to attend.

Relevant Quotes to the article above.

The millions of dollars which we devote every year to high-school education are, for the most part, money spent for the retarding of intelligence, the discouragement of efficiency, the stunting of character.
– Bernard Iddings Bell (1949)

Academies that are founded at public expense are instituted not so much to cultivate men's natural abilities as to restrain them.

– Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)

[T]he child should be taught to consider his instructor...superior to the parent in point of authority.... The vulgar impression that parents have a legal right to dictate to teachers is entirely erroneous.... Parents have no remedy as against the teacher.
– John Swett, Superintendent of California Public School System (1860s)

Friday, February 22, 2008

NECAP math scores fall short

In the story below the Education Commissioner states. "We need to dig deep and find out what's happening here," when talking about the poor test scores of our 11th grade public educated students. 45% of these students tested "substantially below proficient." I will tell you what is happening. Our pubic schools are failing to properly educate our students and in turn jeopardizing the future of our country. Tenure, empty education degrees, legislators bent on kowtowing to the demands of teachers unions and useless educrats, teachers bent on protecting their special interests and the public education system as their own entitlement program. Between 1960 and 2000 education spending in the United States went up 240 percent adjusted for inflation yet proficiency on standardized tests have remained flat.

Our public education system does not work. It is time to fund the child and not the system. It is time for choice. If New Hampshire legislators truly care about our system they will fund the child, get rid of tenure and get rid of the useless requirement of a teaching degree. Scientist need to be teaching science, mathematicians need to teach math, english majors need to teach english, etc.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein, (attributed)
US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)

The following story appeared in the Union Leader.

NECAP math scores fall short
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff

CONCORD – Education Commissioner Lyonel Tracy didn't try to put a good spin on test results that show a majority of the state's high school juniors aren't doing well in math.

"We need to dig deep and find out what's happening here," Tracy said at a Department of Education press conference yesterday.

Citing the fact that 45 percent of the state's 11th-graders tested "substantially below proficient" in math on a test designed by teachers and aligned with DOE-endorsed curriculum, Tracy promised "no excuses."

"It's impossible to accept that," he said.

The New England Common Assessment Program was given to New Hampshire 11th-graders for the first time last October. Results were made public yesterday.

Elementary and middle school students have taken the NECAP the past three years.

Scores are used to determine the status of schools and districts under No Child Left Behind.

Along with mathematics, students were tested in reading and writing, but it was abysmal math scores that drew most of Tracy's attention yesterday.

"No educator in New Hampshire should be pleased with these scores" he said.

Four levels
Four achievement levels are used in reporting NECAP scores: proficient with distinction, proficient, partially proficient, and substantially below proficient.

In math, 15,546 students took the test, and 7,026 of them scored in the bottom level. Just 244 students statewide tested at the top.

►Merrimack students do a little better than statewide average
►Click here to view NECAP results and analysis.

The news was nearly as bleak in writing, with 33 percent of the state's students testing at least proficient; just 3 percent, or 470 students, tested at the top.

Reading scores provided a bright spot, with 67 percent of students scoring proficient or better.

Deb Wiswell, who heads the DOE's Bureau of Accountability, said staffers will fan out across the state to talk with students and teachers about curriculum.

The NECAP has "a lot of algebra and geometry," she said, and schools need to make sure all students are studying that material.

The test also requires students to explain their work, she said, so teachers need to put more emphasis on writing.

"(Students) really need to write every day in all content areas," said Wiswell.

Tracy rejected the idea that the test was too hard.

"Our teachers set very high standards in New Hampshire, and they should be commended for that," said Tracy. "We're going to be looking for these scores to dramatically improve in mathematics next year."

The DOE polled students after they took the test. Forty percent said the math test was harder than their typical school work, and 17 percent said the same about the writing test.

Manchester's numbers
John Rist, principal of Manchester Central High, said it's self-evident the math test was too difficult when 78 percent of students statewide essentially failed.

"I know at Central we're doing better than that," said Rist.

Central's math scores mirrored state averages. The school's reading scores were slightly lower, but its writing results were higher.

Though just 39 percent of Central students passed the writing test at proficient or better, that was 13 percent higher than the district average and 6 percent higher than the state average.

Rist said Central places a priority on writing, with English teachers providing material to science, math and other disciplines to incorporate in curriculum.

Manchester Memorial High had the district's highest reading scores, with 62 percent of students testing at least proficient. But Memorial also had the district's lowest scores in writing and math.

District-wide, Manchester's scores were lower than state averages in all three subjects.

Acting Superintendent Henry Aliberti said teachers and administrators at the city's high schools will dig deep into the results.

"We have formed building-level data teams," he said. "Those teams of teachers and administrators will take a look at this NECAP information and analyze it."

The teams will identify students who need help and come up with a concrete plan to provide it.

"The same process started last year in elementary schools," he said, "and we're seeing the benefits of implementing those plans this year."

Tracy said every school needs to align its curriculum with "grade level expectations" established at the DOE.

Just 29 percent of schools have done so, 55 percent have begun the process, and 16 percent haven't started, according to DOE statistics.

Londonderry, Pinkerton
NECAP results for 11th graders in Londonderry and at Pinkerton Academy told a familiar tale: Students are faring well in reading and writing but have a lot of work to do in math.

In Londonderry, just 34 percent of high school juniors scored proficient or better on the standardized tests -- above the state average of 28 percent but not good enough for Superintendent Nate Greenberg.

"We're not particularly pleased with the scores as they came through, but at the same time I don't believe you can judge individual student performance by one assessment," he said.

In reading, 74 percent of students scored proficient or better, while 54 percent did in writing.

At Derry's Pinkerton Academy -- New Hampshire's largest high school -- NECAP scores settled right at state averages.

In reading, 67 percent of students were proficient or better, while 33 percent were proficient or better in writing.

Just 28 percent were proficient or better in math. School officials were not immediately available for comment.

Greenberg said while meaningful, NECAP scores are part of a larger picture when it comes to fully assessing student achievement.

"Obviously, any time you take a measure of performance, it may raise a red flag for you. And if you're testing the right way, you can use it as an assessment tool," he said. "We'll take a look at the test items, how our kids took the test and whether there's certain things we should make adjustments on."

Campbell High School
In Litchfield, Campbell High School students achieved only 20 percent proficiency in math and 27 percent in writing. Reading scores were slightly better, with 65 percent of Campbell students meeting requirements compared to a state average of 67 percent.

Principal Bob Manseau, who is new this year to Campbell, said he would've liked to have seen higher scores.

"I think we have some work to do in terms of student achievement," he said.

Test results were also reported based on different categories of students.

Female Campbell high school students achieved higher results in reading and writing -- 70 percent of girls met standards in reading compared to 61 percent for boys, while 35 percent of girls achieved proficiency in writing compared to 19 percent for boys.

The opposite was true of math scores -- only 11 percent of girls achieved proficiency in math, while 29 percent of boys met the standards.

Union Leader Correspondents Suzanne Bates and Adam Benson contributed to this report.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Retired Teacher Reveals He Was Illiterate Until Age 48

The following story appeared on KGTV's website. This article helps to highlight the problems of what a useless degree teaching degrees are, no one should be able to earn a degree without being able to read. This also points out the need for competency testing which the teachers and their unions constantly fight to have in place. Because teaching degrees are so easily obtainable school districts should have the right to test their teachers for competency since they have the responsibility of educating our children.

Retired Teacher Reveals He Was Illiterate Until Age 48

By: Charisse Yu

OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- John Corcoran graduated from college and taught high school for 17 years without being able to read, write or spell.

Corcoran's life of secrecy started at a young age. He said his teachers moved him up from grade to grade. Often placed in what he calls the "dumb row," the images of his tribulations in the classroom are still vividly clear.

"I can remember when I was eight years old saying my prayers at night saying, 'please, God, tomorrow when it's my turn to read please let me read.' You just pretend that you are invisible and when the teacher says, 'Johnnie read,' you just wait the teacher out because you know the teacher has to go away at some point," said Corcoran.

Corcoran eventually started acting up to hide his illiteracy. From fifth through seventh grade he was expelled, suspended and spent most of his days at the principal's office.

The former teacher said he came from a loving family that always supported him.

"My parents came to school and it no longer was a problem for me reading because this boy Johnnie -- the native alien, I call him -- he didn't have a reading problem as far as the teachers were concerned. He had an emotional problem. He had a psychological problem. He had a behavioral problem," said Corcoran.

Corcoran later attended Palo Verde High School in Blythe, Calif. He cheated his way through high school, receiving his diploma in June 1956.

"When I was a child I was just sort of just moved along. When I got to high school I wanted to participate in athletics. At that time in high school I went underground. I decided to behave myself and do what it took. I started cheating by turning in other peoples' paper, dated the valedictorian and ran around with college prep kids," said Corcoran.

"I couldn't read words but I could read the system and I could read people," adds Corcoran.

He stole tests and persuaded friends to complete his assignments. Corcoran earned an athletic scholarship to Texas Western College. He said his cheating intensified, claiming he cheated in every class.

"I passed a bluebook out the window to a friend I painstakingly copied four essay questions off the board in U.S. government class that was required, and hoped my friend would get it back to me with the right answers," Corcoran said.

In 1961, Corcoran graduated with a bachelor's degree in education, while still illiterate he contends. He then went on to
become a teacher during a teacher shortage.

"When I graduated from the university, the school district in El Paso, where I went to school, gave almost all the college education graduates a job," said Corcoran.

For 17 years Corcoran taught high school for the Oceanside School District. Relying on teacher's assistants for help and oral lesson plans, he said he did a great job at teaching his students.

"What I did was I created an oral and visual environment. There wasn't the written word in there. I always had two or three teacher's assistants in each class to do board work or read the bulletin," said Corcoran.

In retrospect, Corcoran said, his deceit took him a long time to accept.

"As a teacher it really made me sick to think that I was a teacher who couldn't read. It is embarrassing for me, and it's embarrassing for this nation and it's embarrassing for schools that we're failing to teach our children how to read, write and spell!"

While still teaching, Corcoran dabbled in real estate. He was granted a leave of absence, eventually becoming a successful real estate developer.

It wasn't until he was 48 years old that he gave reading and writing another chance. He drove to an inconspicuous office with a sign he couldn't read. He studied and worked with a tutor at the Literacy Center of Carlsbad. Assigned to a 65-year-old volunteer tutor, Eleanor Condit, he was able to read at a sixth-grade level within a year.

"I'm just an optimistic hopeful person that believes in the impossible and miracles," said Corcoran.

Carlsbad City Library literacy coordinator Carrie Scott said people of all walks of life go through the reading program, including teachers.

Corcoran is now an education advocate.

"I believe that illiteracy in America is a form of child neglect and child abuse and the child is blamed and they carry the shame, if we just teach our people how to read we'd give them a fair chance," Corcoran said.

He has written two books, "The Teacher Who Couldn't Read" and "Bridge to Literacy." He is also the founder of the John Corcoran Foundation. The foundation is state-approved as a supplemental service provider for literacy in Colorado and California – providing tutoring programs for over 600 students in small group settings, and individually in homes through an online program.

Find out more about John Corcoran at his Web site: