The Tom Mooney Institute

The Tom Mooney Institute for Teacher and Union Leadership is an effort by seasoned local leaders within the teacher union movement to develop the leadership skills and organizational capacity of the next generation of reform minded teacher unionists. We promote a progressive vision of the role of the teachers’ union. Our goal is to help local union leaders to be bold, collaborative, creative advocates for the improvement of public education.

What's the Alternative to Test Driven Teacher Evaluation?

Stan KarpStan KarpIn fact, we have successful models for what great, collaborative teacher evaluation looks like, but the feds and the philanthropists have asiduously avoided looking at them. Rethinking Schools journalist, Stan Karp just published an insightful piece about a long-standing model in Montgomery County Maryland, and what makes it very different from the approach now in fashion and being pushed by the corporate reformers.

Marc Tucker Clears The Air With an Insightful Piece On Teacher Unions

Marc TuckerMarc TuckerMarc Tucker's overview of what's wrong with the current fashion of all-out war on teacher unions in the just released Winter 2012 issue of Education Next is worth circulating. While he paints with a bit of a broad brush characterizing what unions have fought for, assuming that there are no union locals focused on the quality of teaching and learning or locals taking a collaborative road at present, his reasoning for why politicians and district administrators have to refrain from attacking unions if they want teachers on-board with education reform is spot on. His warning to US policy makers that they have to learn from those heavily unionized nations who are now out-performing us is just common sense.

Steve Brill's Book, "Class Warfare," Attacks Unions and Engenders a Very Useful Debate

Steven BrillSteven Brill

Diane Ravitch offers a powerful critique in her New York Review of Books review of "Class Warfare" of hedge-fund managers who have claimed leadership of the reform movement as their pet cause. She contrasts Brill's myth-making with the truth-telling of a compassionate teacher from the Bronx, Janet Grossbach Mayer, in her new book, As Bad As They Say?

Steve Brill's new book is an unreleneting attack on teacher unions as the single source of what ails public education, but according to Dana Goldstein in The Nation it also is guilty of perpetuating the myth that the role of poverty in low student achievement is just not important. Her review is worth a read. Richard Rothstein's review in Slate shows how Brill's simple good vs evil narrative falls apart in the face of the facts just like the larger reform narrative being promoted by the education establishment. Toward the end of the book Brill's main heroine burns out and quits her job teaching at a charter school. She takes a job at a traditional school, protected by a union contract. Rothstein's complete review is well worth a read here.


Photos from the SOS Rally and March July 30, 2011

IEA Engages in Collaborative Endgame Behind Statewide Changes in Teacher Evaluation, Tenure and Teacher Quality Procedures

Audrey SoglinAudrey SoglinAt an event in Washington Thursday at the Center for American Progress, IEA Executive Director, Audrey Soglin and representatives from the State Board of Education and State Legislature described the five month process of intense collaboration that led to Senate Bill 7. The result is big changes in teacher tenure, evaluation, and dismissal procedures. The event revealed details like an agreement not to use current state standardized test scores as measures of student achievement, and a recognition that snap judgement of teacher quality are unreliable. Its a unique picture of the hard work involved and an interesting result under very difficult political circumstances.

Meanwhile, a video clip has been circulating the blogisphere showing "Stand for Children" head Jonah Edelman bragging to an audience at the Aspen Institute's Ideas Conference about how he and his organization outmaneuvered and outspent the unions, taking credit for SB7. Edelman's display of arrogance also reveals the true purpose of his organization as a front for monied interests trying to counter the political and financial power of unions. It is worth watching as an object lesson in what posers and "reformer" opportunists look like.

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Diane Ravitch -- The Anti-Michelle Rhee

Diane RavitchDiane RavitchWashington DC's City Paper published an article this week detailing how Diane Ravitch got to be the clearest voice in oppostion to the reform narrative espoused by Michelle Rhee. It's a good read. According to Dana Goldstein's story, Ravitch may be the country's most prolific education user of Twitter. It turns out she tweets to her 13,000 followers as much as 99 times in one day.

Labor -Management Case Studies presented at the US Department of Education Conference in Denver, February, 2011

DS Dept.of EducationDS Dept.of EducationThis past February The US Department of Education brought together 150 local/district teams from 150 school districts to talk about what makes labor managment collaboration work. The focus was on exemplar districts and the Case Studies have now been written up in a US Department of Educaiton Publication released this month.

Could the Past Decade of Test-Based Accountability be a Fraud?

TestingTestingAccording to an article in Ed Week today, a new report by the National Accademy of Sciences looked at the real academic gains after a decade of NCLB and other test-based accountability requirements and found the gains to be slight or non-existant. The report, titled "Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education," co-published with NAS by the Board on Testing and Assessment(BOTA) and Behavioral Social Sciences and Education (BSSE) was authored by a committee of 17. The research and assessment luminaries who authored the report explain what standardized tests are useful for, what they should not be used for and why the strategies underlying the reform movement being promoted so assiduously by the federal government and large corportate philanthropies ReportReport

didn't work, and won't work. The book/report, is now available for pre-publication purchase from NAS. It's about time that the accountability movement be held accountable for its stunning lack of success over more than a decade.

NEA Seeking Reasonable Policy Shift on Use of Test Scores in Teacher Evaluation

Dennis Van RoekelDennis Van RoekelNEA's Board of Directors voted May 7th to bring a proposed policy shift on teacher evaluation to it's summer Representative Assembly. Delegates will be asked to consider responsible use of student test scores and other multiple measures to strengthen teacher evaluation systems. Ed Week reports this week that now both the NEA and AFT seem to be articulating leadership positions that are being viewed as both resonable and principled. Researcher Julie Koppich sees this as an important step forward, according to Ed Week. The NEA RA will also consider a report from a new independent Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching that will be making recommendations on teacher quality more broadly. 

Michelle Rhee's Record in DC Under Scrutiny

An investigative article in Michelle RheeMichelle RheeUSA Today March 28th revealed possible cheating in up to 103 DC Public schools with unusually high rates of erasures on standardized test answer sheets over the past two years. Michelle Rhee and her former deputy, now Chancellor, Kaya Henderson have taken a defensive posture, at first denying cheating took place and attacking the authors of the article, but later acknowledging that the calls for an investigation were appropriate. Once it became clear that it was likely that administrators and other adults may have erased student answers in order to raise student test scores, a local grass-roots organization, Teachers and Parents for Real Education Reform DC called for a federal investigation of "erasure-gate." They want to get to the bottom of a possible cover-up by district leadership. A real investigation is needed to uncover the consequences of the high-stakes, fear-based culture in DCPS that may have created the motivation to cheat. A serious investigation is particularly important given the national role Michelle Rhee plays promoting the strategies she applied in DC Public Schools.

President Obama Suggests New Principles on Testing and Accountability

President ObamaPresident ObamaIn response to a question from a high school student, president Obama this week articulated some new principles on testing and accountability that seem to conflict with the controversial approach the US Department of Educaiton has taken over the past couple of years. The publicly reported statement gives educators a sense of hope that perhaps at least the president gets it.

The Craft of Teaching is Becoming Degraded in the Name of Reform

Both the Daily Kos and Valarie Strauss posted on their blogs a letter from a teacher that exposes the contradiction between improved teaching and learning and what is being done in the name of corporate "reform." Among other things, the teacher points out that she has never been expected as a teacher to design units and lessons, and that the needs of students has become secondary to a hierarchical production mentality. The piece is worth a read.

Are Teachers' Unions Anachronistic?

Barnett BerryBarnett Berry

In the wake of the attack on collective bargaining in Wisconsin, one of the NY Times editors, A.G. Sulzberger, asks last week, whether teacher's unions, and unions in general are perhaps anachronistic. Barnett Berry on his blog gives a good answer that's worth a read. Unions are necessary, he argues, if the voice of teachers is needed in policy debates -- provided that's what unions offer.

Andy Stern Argues for Union Reform

Ezra KleinEzra KleinIn Today's Washington Post, columnist Ezra Klein interviews former SEIU president Andy Stern about why the Republican message seems to have been so successful and how unions need to change to counter the myths. Klein, who's Washington Post Column covers the economy, health care, labor, and education,  has become one of the more thoughtful commentators with another piece March 1st on what teacher unions need to do differently.

Constrict Collective Bargaining? Quite the Opposite, It Needs to Be Expanded

Richard KahlenbergRichard KahlenbergEducation Author Richard Kahlenberg argues in today's Wahington Post that Republican attacks on public sector collective bargaining were aided and abetted by democrats like Michelle Rhee and Barak Obama. Both unfairly and illogically painted teachers and their unions as the problem, eschewing collaborative approaches to school improvement. Although the recent US Department of Education convening on union/management collaboration might be perhaps a hopeful tilt in a better direction. 

Kahlenberg further argues that restricting collective bargaining to pay and benefits is a trap that will imply to the world that teachers and others are just self-serving.  When it comes to teachers, the opposite is the case. Unions need to capitalize on the truth that the real agenda of teachers is also what is in the best interest of students.

The Spirit of the Uprising in Wisconsin

All Week the numbers were building, 10,000, than 20,000, then 30,000 on Thursday, slightly down on Friday due to snow and ice, but then up to 100,000 by Saturday -- Students, teachers, fire-fighters, and public sector workers all there to say "kill the bill" that would destroy collective bargaining in the public sector in Wisconsin. But Where is the national News Media on this story??? Its hardly being covered says The democratic uprising has finally come to the US. Watch:

How to Really Fix Our Schools

Broader, Bolder ApproachBroader, Bolder ApproachThe Economic Policy Institute has published two documents that make clear that the dominant reform narrative, while perhaps well meaning, is clearly on the wrong track in this country. The first is a response penned by Richard Rothstein to the Klein/Rhee "Manifesto." The second is a new report on Problems with Using Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers. These approaches will have counter-productive effects, say the researchers, and are the wrong agenda for education reform. The ten researchers who authored the Problems with Using Test Scores report are inviting researchers and educators to sign on to their statement here. 

The Myth of Charter Schools

Teachers and defenders of public education are reeling this month from the unprecedented attack on their profession, their unions and on the very existance of public schools. Diane Ravitch reviews the film Waiting for Diane RavitchDiane RavitchSuperman in The New York Review of Books. She details the blatant inaccuracies in the film but more importantly, places the film in its context as "the most important public relations coup that the critics of public education have made so far." Ravitch warns liberals who are being seduced by the film, "There is a clash of ideas occurring in education right now... Waiting for Superman is a powerful weapon on behalf of those championing the "free market" and privatization." Barbara Miner completes the backstory in her investigation of the sources of funding for the film with The Ultimate Superpower -- Supersized dollars drive Waiting for Superman agenda on the Not Waiting for Superman Web Site. These two thoughtful pieces help us understand the forces behind the film. 

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