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By Kenneth Saltman

Chicago Public Schools, the mayor, and countless editorials would have readers believe that the CTU strike “hurts kids and serves only adults.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  When I marched downtown on September 10 with the 50,000 other teachers, parents, and citizens I was pleased to see how many brought young children to march.  Those children and the children in Chicago Public Schools are learning crucial lessons from the strike:

  1. Courage and Ethics: Children learn that when workers are cheated and abused and insulted by employers the right thing and the only thing to do is to take a stand with others even if it is risky.  Children need to understand that they can’t rely on the beneficence of those who have financial interests and values that are diametrically opposed to their own well-being.  Children also learn that this isn’t just a matter of self-interest it is also an ethical matter of standing up for others who are being mistreated. (more…)
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By James Davis

The celebrated children’s writer Daniel Pinkwater has the ignominious distinction of featuring prominently in the standardized English Language Arts (ELA) test administered in several states.  A story from his novel, Borgel, highly truncated and heavily edited, was used last week, accompanied by multiple choice questions that New York’s 8th graders had to answer without referring back to the story.

The questions crafted around the story by the testing company, Pearson, pushed students, parents, teachers, and principals over the edge, generating a maelstrom of anguish and indignation.  Among the questions were:

(1) Why did the animals eat the pineapple? A) they were annoyed B) they were amused C) they were hungry D) they wanted to.

(2) Who was the wisest? A) the hare B) the moose C) the crow D) the owl.

Although Pearson has not responded thus far, New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott caved under pressure and struck this segment from the exam.  This is not the first time Pinkwater’s whimsical tale has been pressed into testing service, and the students who have been subjected to it in recent years are sufficiently numerous and enterprising as to have created a Facebook page, “The moral of the story is Pineapples don’t have sleeves,” with nearly 12,000 “likes.”

Could this be the beginning of the end of standardized testing?  (more…)

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My visit to Kent, Ohio for the 40th anniversary of the Kent State killings, when four students were killed (Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandy Scheuer, William Schroeder) and nine injured (with Dean Kahler left paralyzed and in a wheelchair for the last 40 years) was both nostalgic and informative.

Although I was not on campus the day of the killings, I did see the burning of the ROTC building and the shattered bank windows over that weekend in downtown Kent.  I also saw the Ohio National Guard occupy my campus, the FBI invade student dormitories looking for weapons and photograph classrooms to see what appeared on blackboards that May 4 morning which might have incited students to “riot,” the indictment of 24 students and one faculty member, and the exoneration of the Ohio National Guard and its leaders for any guilt in the killings. However, it was the town-gown hostility that mostly affected me. About a month after the killings, six townspeople attacked me, badly beat me, and repeatedly kicked me in the head. I reported this event to the police over the phone, but when I later checked to see what would appear in the local Kent newspaper, I was told, “Townsperson beat up by six hippie-types,” a reversal of truth that made me question every civil rights or anti-war “riot” I had ever read about.

(more…)

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