Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Please consider signing! Obama Appointment for Sec. of Ed.

I admit it, I have a lot of issues with No Child Left Behind, the current incarnation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In the past 6 years, testing has become the only focus of public education, with student success in learning being reduced to nothing more than a test score. "Proven teaching methods" have become little more than test prep, skill and drill, and a list of strategies that have little to do with how children really learn.

On top of that, the sanctions for failing schools ultimately put public school monies into the hands of private tutoring groups, charter schools, and private school hands. While there is much improvement needed in public education, the solution should not be to end public education.

Today I received two alerts from colleagues about the short list of people Obama is looking at. One of them is Commissioner Joel Klein of NYC and the other is Chicago CEO Arne Duncan. Both have records of being anti-teacher, anti-union, and anti-democratic. While I understand the Department of Education needs a forward-looking steward, I am not sure installing a leader who wants to further undermine public education should be our only choice.

Please consider reading and signing the two petitions below.


The Petition to oppose the appointment of Joel Klein.

We, the undersigned, devoted thousands of hours of volunteer time to the election of Barack Obama as President. As Professional educators we were encouraged by the promise to have an open and respectful dialogue within the educational community about NCLB, its limits, and its failures.

Now, a trial balloon has been advanced in the media for Joel Klein, Chancellor of NYC schools to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education in an Obama Administration. ( It is quite possible that Klein himself promoted the trial balloon.) Trial balloons are trials. They are floated to see how people will react.

This petition is a reaction.

The administration of Joel Klein as Chancellor of Schools in New York City is representative of a particular rigid approach to school change promoted by NCLB which we oppose. Rather than take the advice of educators, Chancellor Klein repeatedly championed and implemented policies that support corporate interests as opposed to children. The NY City Department of Education under Joel Klein has been run like a ruthless dictatorship – with no input from parents or educators. Teachers have not been respected, consulted, nor listened to. And little thought has been devoted to how the policies he has imposed on our schools have been destructive to the children and their futures.

Citizens, educators, and future educators, read the entire petition and sign it at:

And, the second.

Say YES to public education. Say NO to privatization.

Dear supporters of public education,
Many of you have by now heard the rumors of Obama's potential appointees to the position of Secretary of Education. This list includes several people whose records show a history of dismantling democratic public education in the name of private interests. As people committed to public education, this strikes a hard and fast blow in the euphoria that we have felt since Tuesday, November 4th. But it's not too late to make our voices heard once again. Let's build on the sense of representation and democracy we have just experienced to send a clear message to the Obama Administration.

Please visit in order to sign the following statement that voices our concerns about the kind of Education Secretary that we want. Additionally, please FORWARD this message to your friends and colleagues who are also concerned about the future of public education.

Thank you!
The National Network of Teacher Activist Groups

Statement on the selection of the U.S. Secretary of Education

Today, we celebrate Barack Obama?s momentous election as President of the United States. We recognize it as a historic culmination of the centuries-long effort for dignity and justice, human and civil rights, and enfranchisement of the U.S. people, and we pay particular tribute to the African American freedom struggle, which played a decisive role in bringing the first Black man to the presidency.

We look forward, as educators, parents and students, to participating in the opportunities for change afforded by this moment. We are excited about the possibilities for improving educational opportunities for all students. Our vision of educational justice, access, opportunity, and equity includes having a Department of Education whose officials embrace the idea of a quality education as part of the common good. We wish to turn away from a corporate model of education that claims that teaching and learning can only improve by imposing market perspectives and processes onto our public education system. Education should be a fundamental human right, not subject to privatization by firms whose primary concern is a profit motive and the bottom line. We have all witnessed the failures of this free market system in recent months and do not support this model for our public schools.

Toward these ends, we urge President-elect Obama and his transition team to choose a Secretary of Education who is committed to the full development of human beings who are prepared to actively participate in civil society. We strongly encourage the selection of someone dedicated to equity and the education of all children with a proven track record in these areas, such as Linda Darling-Hammond, a key member of Mr. Obama?s education team. We want a person who is a professional, experienced, and knowledgeable educator, not a corporate executive such as New York City?s Education Chancellor Joel Klein or Chicago CEO Arne Duncan, who have demonstrated their vision of privatized, corporatized, and anti-democratic schools.

Over the last 20 years in the U.S., education is becoming the business of education, and we emphatically reject that model. We call upon the President-elect to choose someone who will embrace the ideas of civic involvement and public participation. We look forward to collaborating with that person, as well as with students, parents, and the broader public, in developing a truly meaningful and just education for all students in the U.S.

Endorse this statement by visiting

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Annotated Bibliography entry

Ginsberg, R. and Lyche, L. F. (2008). The culture of fear and the politics of education. Educational Policy, 22(1), 10-27.

Research on crises, whether real or created, displays their impact on framing the policy agenda, and critical events research shows that they, rather than actual performance, dramatically affect the evaluation of institutions such as public education. (Ginsberg and Lyche, 2008, p.14).

Ginsberg and Lyche’s work examines the public’s concerns regarding public education and how the culture of fear has permeated the media’s representation of teachers, tests, schools, and math/science. They also not the rise of conservative thinking tanks as being used as a viable source of information, even as the news papers themselves fail to acknowledge the political ideologies of their sources. Thus, the problems and solutions are presented in very specific terms that reflect the perspective of those surveyed. They note

“Television and radio commentators, think tanks and foundations, presidential candidates, and other politicians decry the failure of our schools and spew a variety of remedies. Although their claims and antidotes mostly lack theoretical support or credible research, widespread agreement on this matter is simply assumed or passed over” (Ginsberg and Lyche, 2008, p. 11).

Ginsberg and Lyche’s study of the media and the culture of fear surrounding public education is particularly useful in the development of the current research project because it illustrates how the media aids in the support of particular points of view, even in the absence of significant research support. The article also lends support to using the NYT online as a data source, and it will help me to frame the conversation about negativity in the press.

Other interesting quotes:

The political reality is clear: Education is high on the public agenda and is not insulated from the public’s view or the politician’s glare” (Ginsberg and Lyche, 2008, p. 12).


There is no single defining event, but rather a constant promotion of a culture of fear regarding the failure of education at both pre-K-12 and higher education levels, involving speculative conclusions drawn about the sorry state of affairs in education and their scary potential outcomes, which seemingly has become the dominant means for projecting issues on to the educational policy agenda. Whether these conclusions are accurate is almost irrelevant. Getting particular beliefs established and alternative policy ideas promoted through fear are the main objectives. (Ginsberg and Lyche, 2008, p.14).

My Inquiry Project Introduction/general stuff (no lit review)

I spent the rest of last week tweaking the idea for this project and reading. Below you will find a DRAFT of what I have completed so far. Clearly, it is still very rough, and I will be working on it more this weekend. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, etc.

And for those of you interested in following the paper about the urban students and identity construction, you can find it here.


Making the Front Page: NCLB and urban education in the press

Since its inception in Texas, the education plan that ultimately became known as the No Child Left Behind Act (PL XX-XXX) has made news headlines. As the nation turns the page on the Bush Administration and elects a new President, questions about the future of No Child Left Behind abound as the candidates present their vision of public education in troubled economic times. Even so, one has to wonder, what impression the public has of the current state of NCLB and public education, particularly as it relates to urban schools, their teachers, and students. Perhaps, more important, and the focus of this article, is the role major media outlets have played in framing NCLB and urban education.

As a source of information, traditional major media outlets, like local and regional newspapers, are under more pressure to compete with emerging forms of digital news, while facing criticisms of partisan bias (XXX; XXX). This is significant; even so, an exploration of how a traditional news outlet, like the New York Times, frames issues related to NCLB and urban education provides useful information to policy makers and educators alike as they strive to understand what shapes the public’s point of view.

This article will illustrate how the NYT has framed NCLB and urban education in its front-page news. Using the NYT archives, I will illustrate how the NYT has constructed a view of NCLB and urban education in terms of how it frames urban teachers, students, and schools. INSERT FINAL SECTION ABOUT PAPER AFTER DATA ANALYSIS

The data set: The data discussed in this article are part of a data set from a larger research study examining the political discourse surrounding No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s landmark education legislation. The larger study examines speeches and press releases from the Federal Department of Education (ED) and media outlet sources like the NYT, Time, Newsweek, and other outlets frequently read by the public. While other aspects of the study have focused on the discourse of equality and social justice in the speeches of the Secretaries of Education (see, for instance, Goldstein and Beutel, 2008), the political construction of teachers as soldiers of democracy AND enemies of the state (see for instance, Goldstein and Beutel, in review; Goldstein, in review), this article will focus on the role one media outlet, the New York Times, has played in shaping public perception.

The NYT archives were search using a key word search of “urban education and No Child Left Behind,” with a date limitation of January 1, 2001 to November 4, 2008. XXX articles were identified. Of those XXX articles, XX were front-page features. These xx articles serve as the data set for analysis.

Critical Media Studies and Discourse Analysis

The research questions:
1. What are the key issues that the NYT identifies in regard to NCLB and urban education?
2. Who are the stakeholders most frequently identified?
3. Who are the “experts” most frequently utilized by the authors and editors of the NYT?
4. What does the discourse reveal as the primary problems surrounding NCLB and urban education?
5. What solutions does the discourse reveal?