Saturday, September 02, 2006

Myths and Misconceptions About Teaching: What Really Happens in Classrooms

Heads up to a comment on Cal Skinner's Blog that lead to this post on the TC Record The Voice of Scholarship in Education website.

Myths and Misconceptions About Teaching: What Really Happens in Classrooms

Recent trends in education have encouraged democratic and holistic approaches to learning through discovery-oriented teaching approaches. At the same time, research on teaching for students with learning difficulties and disabilities suggests that direct instruction, explicit teaching, and highly regulated learning environments are the best practice for teaching special education classes. These distinct theoretical approaches have been used to argue that regular classrooms are inappropriate learning environments for students with learning difficulty, disabilities, or behavior disorders (Kauffman, 1999; Kauffman & Sasso, 2006). Vicki Snider’s new book, Myths and Misconceptions About Teaching: What Really Happens in the Classroom, challenges whether regular classrooms with holistic, discovery-oriented and democratic philosophies are appropriate teaching environments for any students. Snider suggests that the most effective teaching methods are direct instruction, explicit teaching, and highly structured curricular environments. She bases this argument on empirical evidence of the effectiveness of these teaching methods.

Snider proposes that many teaching strategies have come from theories of learning that have not been empirically tested, such as multiple intelligence, and that student failures to a large extent can be explained by the fact that education systems do not empirically test teaching methods and curricula. She argues that the trend toward whole language, discovery-oriented, and experiential approaches to learning hinders learning at best, and at worst, actually causes some students to have learning difficulties. Snider instead advocates curriculum that is proven successful in rigorous testing. She uses extensive reading research as an example, pointing out that the scrutiny of reading instruction indicates that phonics and direct instruction are proven effective teaching strategies. Current general education practice, Snider suggests, has been undermined by six myths or misconceptions about teaching that arise from untested theories that have become widely accepted. These myths are as follows:

• that learning outcomes are not as important as learning process;
• that learning has to be fun and interesting rather than hard work and sometimes difficult;
• that good teaching is always eclectic rather than due to proven methods that work for most children;
• that teachers have intrinsic characteristics that make them good teachers;
• that individual students have unique learning styles;
• and that learning difficulties or disabilities are intrinsic characteristics of students rather than the result of poor teaching.

To view the full article go to the TC Record The Voice of Scholarship in Education website.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Teachers And Unions Disregard For Laws And Ethical Behavior

Time and time again teachers and unions put their interests ahead of the very children they are to educate and the communities they serve. Public school teachers are no longer the noble professionals they once were. Public School Teachers are the first to whine and complain about the children they teach. Maybe if public school teachers would improve their actions and behaviors they would not have as many problems with behavioral issues in the classroom.

This past week we saw the highest paid teachers in Indiana go on strike. In Indiana teachers went on strike despite being illegal under Indiana statutes. Visit the Chicago Tribune website to see the full story.

The Education Intelligence agency reports how Detriot Teachers disregard the no strike law in Michigan.

The EIA further reports how Washington Teachers blatantly disregard the no strike laws. Teachers Union Lawyer Kathy O'Toole stated "They are not going to put 850 of you away," Gee what great examples public school teachers set for our children.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Teacher retirement fund consultant facing lawsuit

The following article appeared in the Chicago Tribune.
The allegations below are just part of the chronic problems that face our public school system (government schools). Yet another reason to do away with public pensions and switch to self-funding individual retirement accounts for government school employees.

Teacher retirement fund consultant facing lawsuit

By Michael Higgins
Tribune staff reporter
Published August 31, 2006

A former top consultant to the state's teacher retirement fund took in millions of dollars in fees from money managers, including managers that the consultant later recommended for lucrative state work, a retired school official alleges in a lawsuit.

By taking the fees, Callan Associates, based in San Francisco, violated its duty to serve only the interests of the state's school teachers, who depended on Callan to provide fair and objective recommendations, contends Patrick Patt, a retired school superintendent from Lake Forest.

"The Illinois Pension Code is clear," said Brian McTigue of Washington, an attorney representing Patt. "You cannot have an investment manager with a conflict of interest. ... Callan should pay for any losses that result from the conflict."

Patt is seeking class-action status of the suit, filed last week in Cook County Circuit Court.

Officials at Callan, which faces similar allegations in a lawsuit by city officials in San Diego, declined to comment.

Officials at the Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois said this week that Callan disclosed the potential conflict, as required under its state contract, and that no investor money was lost. With Callan as adviser, the pension fund ranked in the top 10 percent among funds of similar size, said Jon Bauman, executive director of Teachers' Retirement System.

The performance "was excellent and does not indicate any substandard managers," Bauman said.

But officials at Teachers' Retirement System, which is not named as a defendant in the suit, also acknowledge that they downsized Callan's consulting role in March and that the outside fees were "a consideration" in making that decision.

Callan was a primary investment consultant to the retirement fund from December 2001 to March 2006. The state paid Callan about $2.8 million in fees from fiscal 2002 to 2006, state officials said.

At the same time, Callan was receiving fees from money managers, who paid to attend Callan seminars, such as its Callan College and Callan Investments Institute, the suit alleges.

Teachers' Retirement System officials said they studied the matter in 2004 and found that various state consultants had collected combined fees of $6 million to $7 million per year from money managers from 2001 to 2003, and that Callan's share of that was millions of dollars. State officials said they could not determine on Wednesday how many of the money managers that paid fees to Callan received the consultant's recommendation or how many the state ultimately hired.

Patt is seeking to force Callan to return its fees from Teachers' Retirement System to the state fund. Patt's attorneys said that as part of the litigation, they also will investigate whether Callan's influence regarding the choice of investment managers caused the retirement fund to lose money.


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

District 300 Hires Northwest Herald’s Allison Smith to Run Public Relations

Cal Skinner has a great piece on his Blog about Allison Smith. Allison Smith was a Northwest Herald reporter who is now the District 300 public relations person. Ms. Smith has been biased towards the education establishment and referenda throughout her reporting career at the Northwest Herald. When reading future reports in our local newspapers supporting referenda keep this story in the back of your mind. How many other reporters when supporting referenda our vying for the lucrative position as a public relations person in our government schools? Ms. Smith has gained financially from her pushing of the passing of the referenda. We ask the residents of District 300 is this how you expected your tax increase to be spent when you voted yes for these referenda?

Here is the introduction to Cal Skinner's post on his BLOG.

8/29/6 - At last night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Ken Arndt welcomed Northwest Herald reporter Allison Smith as the new communications director for District 300.

Smith covered School District 300 for the Northwest Herald during the past referendum and gave the tax hikers fits.

She will be paid $60,707, which has to be a substantial increase from her Northwest Herald salary, where she worked about three years. She starts her new job Sept. 5th.

She must be getting at least a 50% pay hike. And, that’s assuming that the Northwest Herald pays a lot better than I think they do.

Maybe she doubled or almost doubled her salary (as would be the case if she were earning $30,000 before).

There was a good political reason for District 300’s hiring of Allison Smith.

To view the rest of Cal Skinner's piece click here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

East Side schools will ask for tax hike

The following story appeared in the Beacon News Newspaper. A fellow taxpayer from District 131 asked us to put this story on the CRAFT Blog.

Bruce Schurbert asked the school board members the following questions: "Why not impart a salary freeze?" and "Where is the deficit reduction plan?" Mr. Schurbert this referendum is about teachers, administrators and school employees salaries. Salary freezes when and if ever given in school districts are always repaid in later years with even larger salary increases. This is about greed and not need. The only interests the tax increase will serve is school employees and their bank accounts.

This same scenario is playing out around school districts across Illinois. Once referendum pass large salary increases always follow just ask voters in District 15 McHenry and District 158 in Huntley.

To view the District 131 salaries go to

East Side schools will ask for tax hike

By Justina Wang
Staff writer

AURORA — The East Aurora School Board gave their approval Monday for a November referendum that will ask voters for a tax rate increase of 85 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.

The hike, which will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an estimated $283 more in taxes the first year, is lower than earlier numbers proposed by administrators.

At a public forum this month, school officials presented four scenarios that would raise the tax rate by anywhere from 95 cents to $1.25 per $100 of assessed valuation and cost owners of a $100,000 home between $316 and $416 in the first year.

"We challenged the administration to come up with an even lower rate," Board Member Russell Pietrowiak said during Monday's meeting. "We have tried to come down and listen to people's concerns."

Several residents who attended Monday's meeting said they believe the district will still have a hard time passing a referendum in an area with many low-income families.

"The thing is, people here don't want to give you more money," resident Rayanne Carlson told Board members.

Carlson and another East side resident, Bruce Schubert, also questioned teacher and administrator salary increases, which make up large portions of the district's budget.

"Why not impart a salary freeze?" Schubert asked School Board members. "Where is the deficit reduction plan?"

School Board members responded that they cut dozens of positions in 2004, and that many of the larger pay raises were because of promotions to administrative positions. Board Vice President Dan Barreiro added that the district has to negotiate with teacher's unions and needs to offer a salary schedule that is competitive enough to attract top educators so that East Aurora will "stop being a training ground for other school districts" and "retain our best."

"We're being asked, I think, to look at making cuts, but we've made cuts and it's hard to make cuts when you have growth," Barreiro said. "We're going to have to ask voters to help us get over this hurdle."

School officials said a tax hike is needed to prevent a projected $21.9 million deficit by 2010, a year when a new state law requires all districts to have a balanced budget. The district's last operating fund rate increase passed in 1993.

If the referendum is successful, the new tax rate would be locked in for four years and would not be subject to tax caps. The hike would leave the district with a $15 million balance in all funds in the 2009-2010 school year.

East Aurora tax hike referendum

The district's proposed tax hike of .85 cent per $100 of equalized assessed valuation would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an estimated:

• $283 in the first year

• $306 in 2007

• $332 in 2008

• $359 in 2009

Monday, August 28, 2006

Are U.S. History Textbooks Still Full of Lies and Half-Truths?

The piece below by Ray Raphael appeared on the History News Network website.

Are U.S. History Textbooks Still Full of Lies and Half-Truths?

By Ray Raphael


It’s been a quarter century since Frances Fitzgerald in America Revised critiqued our history texts, and a decade since Jim Loewen in Lies My Teacher Told Me revealed many of the biases that lingered on. Where are we now? Have we gotten any better?

Textbooks in recent years have certainly become more inclusive, but giving the nod to multiculturalism is not synonymous with getting the story right. We’ve come a long way, baby — but we have a long way to go.

In conjunction with my latest book, Founding Myths: Stories that Hide our Patriotic Past, I have reviewed twenty-two current elementary, middle school, and high school texts. Fourteen were displayed at a recent National Council for the Social Studies convention, while eight are approved for use in California, which has among the strictest criteria in the nation. I compared the mythologies of the American Revolution discussed in my book with those perpetuated in these texts, and the results are startling. Although some texts fare better than others, all are culpable of some serious lapses.

Most texts do mention African American participation in the war, but they focus primarily on those who sided with the Americans. In fact, those who sided with the British were far more numerous, but you’d never guess it from reading the texts. When they offer numbers, they typically compare the estimated number of black patriot soldiers during the course of the entire war (5,000) with the number of slaves who sought freedom with the British in a single week (generally cited as 300).

Likewise, current texts include some mention of the Native American presence in the Revolutionary War, but their narratives display a serious bias. In chapters on the post-war period — right at the moment of the greatest white incursion onto Native lands in United States history— the Indian presence mysteriously disappears. Discussions of white conquest appear earlier and later in these texts, but not at the critical point of our nation’s founding, when it is most relevant but also most embarrassing. The pan-Indian resistance movements of the 1780s — again, the largest coalitions of Native Americans in our history — are entirely neglected. With nary a nod to the impact on indigenous people, the texts celebrate the ordinances of 1785 and 1787 — blueprints for westward expansion and death knells for Indian sovereignty.

To read the rest of the post go to the History News Network website.