Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Tucson‘s ’Mexican-American Studies’ Curriculum‏

Earlier today we brought you the story of how students chained themselves together at a local Tucson school board chamber to protest administrators who wanted to change the Mexican-American studies curriculum. Currently, a class that teaches history from a Mexican-American perspective is allowed to substitute for the required U.S. history class. But the school superintendent also wants to reevaluate the entire program (and possibly get rid of the class),* in part because it advocates the overthrow of the U.S. government.

Below are excerpts from the controversial curriculum, which (among other things) calls for abolishing Thanksgiving for a National Day of Atonement and includes the headline “Death to the Invader!”

But first, we‘ve also uncovered the superintendent’s findings, which he presented after he reviewed the curriculum. According to him, the Mexican-American Studies Program was found to include all of the below elements that are banned by state law:
Here are the words taken directly from the superintendent’s findings:

So what is so egregious about this program? We’ll let the documents (which were distributed as handouts) speak for themselves (courtesy of Tucsonans United for Sound Districts):

You can see more excerpts, including those from the class “Social Justice, Resistance, and Latino Literature,” here.

Included in the superintendent’s findings was a startling testimonial from a former Hispanic teacher in the district:

Considering the excerpts, it’s not hard to understand how that happened.


Christie Brings Message of Change to Harvard Education School

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has called his state’s teachers’ union “a bunch of political thugs,” took his message of change to Harvard University’s school for educators today.

“There are now smoldering around the country the embers of revolution” in public schools, Christie said in a speech at the Ivy League institution’s Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “The need for revolutionary change is as appropriate as anything in public life today.”

The first-term Republican, whose proposals to change government pension and benefit plans sparked a surge in teacher retirements last year, spoke to a packed audience that included those in a 270-seat auditorium and three satellite rooms around the campus across the Charles River from Boston. Christie, 48, has said 2011 will be “the year of education reform” as he pushes to change tenure, link teacher pay to performance and make it easier to fire educators deemed ineffective.

“We have an education system that is set up for the ease, comfort and security of those who operate it,” the governor said. This week, New Jersey voters approved 80 percent of school budgets. A year ago, they rejected a record 59 percent after Christie urged them to do so in districts where teachers rejected wage freezes.

New Jersey spends $17,620 per pupil annually, more than any other U.S. state, yet more than 100,000 students are trapped in failing schools, Christie has said. “Money is not the answer to that problem,” Christie said in his remarks. “New Jersey is the laboratory that proves that.”

While New Jersey has 150,000 teachers, just 17 have been removed for incompetence in the past decade, he has said, blaming tenure rules. The New Jersey Education Association, the union representing 200,000 current and retired school employees, spent $6.6 million on broadcast advertising last year, the most of any lobbying group in the state, according to the Election Law Enforcement Commission in Trenton. Many ads attacked Christie.

Christie likened leaders of the teachers’ union to “political thugs” in an ABC News interview this month with Diane Sawyer.

“The reason I’m engaged in this fight with the teachers’ unions is because it is the only fight worth having,” Christie said to applause. He said that he has tried to focus his attacks on a system that protects poor-performing teachers and favors the system instead of the students.

Teacher retirements surged 95 percent last year, the largest increase of any government group, according to state Treasury Department data.

“I’m in no way condoning every aspect of Christie’s agenda, but he’s at least putting himself out there and I respect that,” student David Donaldson, who invited the New Jersey governor to speak, said in a telephone interview. When Christie entered the room, he was met with a standing ovation.

Donaldson, 26, is head of the Education Policy and Management Student Association speaker series at Harvard, the oldest and richest U.S. university. Other speakers this year include Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

The typical speaker event attracts about 125 people, Donaldson said. More than 400 were expected at Christie’s speech, he said.

“Christie is among the most prominent governors when it comes to education issues,” said Michael Rodman, a spokesman for the graduate school. “Certainly he’s controversial but we welcome controversy and we think his ideas should be discussed and debated.”

Christie urged his audience, many of whom may become leaders of schools, to be “disruptors.” He said they should disrupt “fat, rich and entitled unions” because that’s what’s needed to fix U.S. public schools.


Australia's best teachers to be financially rewarded with bonus payments

The country's best teachers will be offered bonus pay under a budget plan announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

"The forthcoming budget will deliver on our promise to invest in rewarding great teachers around the country," Ms Gillard told reporters at a Canberra primary school this morning.

"We will design a system where teachers who are performing well can get additional pay and additional reward to recognise that great performance."

The bonus pay will cost the commonwealth $425 million over the next four years and a total of $1.3 billion to 2018, the government says.

The first bonuses will be based on the 2013 school year and be paid in early 2014.

Bonuses will range from $5400 to $8100, depending on the teacher's experience.

Ms Gillard says an estimated 25,000 teachers, or around one in 10, will receive incentives under the scheme.


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