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Jeff Bernstein

Jersey Jazzman: Whitty Nails "Won't Back Down" - 0 views

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    "Stephen Whitty of the Star-Ledger has Won't Back Down all figured out"
Jeff Bernstein

Instructions for the October 17 Campaign for Our Public Schools « Diane Ravit... - 0 views

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    "Anthony Cody, experienced middle school science teacher and fabulous blogger, has offered to coordinate our campaign to write President Obama on October 17.

    We call it the Campaign for Our Public Schools."
Jeff Bernstein

Kopp to Kozol: Your New Book Didn't Mention Me Once! | EduShyster - 0 views

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    "If you were thinking of ponying up $20 to buy Jonathan Kozol's latest book, Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America, don't bother. EduShyster has it on EXCELLENT authority that the book suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. While I haven't actually read Fire in the Ashes, I know someone who has-Teach for America foundress Wendy Kopp-and she thought it was a real dud.

    You see Kozol has spent the past 642 years writing about the scourge of poverty among America's children, racial segregation in the public schools and inequities in education funding-all of which we now know DO NOT MATTER AT ALL. In fact just by mentioning these non-mattering factors Kozol is practically a one man excuse factory."
Jeff Bernstein

Julie Cavanagh: The Truth Behind Won't Back Down - 0 views

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    "This week a film partially funded by Walden Media, which is owned by entrepreneur and conservative Philip Anschutz, will be released in theaters. The film, Won't Back Down, is a work of fiction but claims to be based on real life events and tells the story of a teacher and a parent in a 'failing' school who join forces to 'save their school.' Walden Media also funded Waiting for Superman, which was billed as a documentary on education and chronicled the stories of several families navigating the educational landscape intermixed with commentary from journalists, economists, philanthropists, and business folks who surmised the troubles of public education today. These two films differ in style, but their substance is aligned and their conclusion is the same: teacher unions are the obstacle to student achievement."
Jeff Bernstein

Leonie Haimson: Don't be fooled by "Won't Back Down"! - 0 views

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    "Last night I attended a screening of the controversial new film, "Won't Back Down" about a parent and a teacher who take over their "failing" public school.  I have written a FAQ about the movie which is posted here.  The film was produced by Walden Media, owned by right-wing billionaire Phillip Anschutz, who also co-produced "Waiting for 'Superman.'" 
    Advance screenings have been held around the country, organized by Michelle Rhee's Students First and other pro-charter lobbying organizations, to promote the "Parent Trigger," which allows a school to be turned over to a charter operator if 51% of the parents sign a petition calling for this. Here is a good analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy.  
    The movie itself is badly written, poorly acted, and full of exaggerated characterizations and unconvincing plot twists. Its message, transmitted with sledgehammer subtlety, is that the only reason that schools in poor communities are failing is because of incompetent lazy teachers who are protected by the union. "
Jeff Bernstein

Won't Back Down Movie Review: My (ex) PTA President's Point of View « Beccarama - 0 views

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    "This week I went to a screening of Won't Back Down starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal.  The movie is about a mom and a teacher who band together and use the Parent Trigger law (which is never mentioned by name) to take over and turnaround a failing elementary school in Pittsburgh.  The film is loosely based on real events (though in my research I couldn't find anything other than the Los Angeles based parent trigger law, which was backed by a big charter school organization), and produced by the same man who produced Waiting for Superman. As someone who has been deeply embroiled in the discussion and reality of parents advocating for better schools, for student and parent rights, and as a PA C0-President who has worked closely with many teachers and administrators, this movie got to me on many levels. So, I have decided to break it down in two parts: As a movie and then as a propaganda film."
Jeff Bernstein

Gary Rubinstein reviews 'Won't Back Down' (spoiler alert) - 0 views

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    "As the lights dimmed and the opening credits rolled during my preview of 'Won't Back Down,' I got a little nervous.  Based on some of the commercials I had seen, I thought there was a chance that it was going to be a good 'film.'  I do think that a good film could be made about any subject, even one I might not agree with its underlying premise."
Jeff Bernstein

Shanker Blog » Five Recommendations For Reporting On (Or Just Interpreting) S... - 0 views

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    "From my experience, education reporters are smart, knowledgeable, and attentive to detail. That said, the bulk of the stories about testing data - in big cities and suburbs, in this year and in previous years - could be better.

    Listen, I know it's unreasonable to expect every reporter and editor to address every little detail when they try to write accessible copy about complicated issues, such as test data interpretation. Moreover, I fully acknowledge that some of the errors to which I object - such as calling proficiency rates "scores" - are well within tolerable limits, and that news stories need not interpret data in the same way as researchers. Nevertheless, no matter what you think about the role of test scores in our public discourse, it is in everyone's interest that the coverage of them be reliable. And there are a few mostly easy suggestions that I think would help a great deal.

    Below are five such recommendations. They are of course not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather a quick compilation of points, all of which I've discussed in previous posts, and all of which might also be useful to non-journalists."
Jeff Bernstein

Sabrina Stevens: Why 'Won't Back Down' Just Doesn't Stack Up | Alternet - 0 views

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    "As a former union teacher and present union staff member, what struck me most profoundly while watching Won't Back Down was the stark disconnect between the way people and schools were characterized in the film and the way they are in the real world. That isn't surprising given that it's a Hollywood film, but it is harmful -- precisely because these kinds of stereotypes often fuel destructive and unnecessary divisions and tensions among parents, teachers and students in real life. Those divisions often stop people from working together to find effective, win-win solutions to problems that affect all of us."
Jeff Bernstein

Walmart, Right-Wing Media Company Hold Star-Studded Benefit Promoting Education Reform ... - 0 views

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    "The world's largest private-sector employer and the country's most prominent conservative entertainment company have teamed up to sponsor a fundraiser called "Teachers Rock." Backed by Walmart and Anschutz Film Group, the August 14 event will feature live performances from musicians like Josh Groban and appearances from actresses like Viola Davis; it will be broadcast August 17 as a CBS special with messages from actresses like Meryl Streep. And it will promote the upcoming feature film Won't Back Down, Anschutz's entry in the "education reform" wars.

    Won't Back Down is reportedly a highly sympathetic fictional portrayal of "parent trigger" laws, a major flashpoint in debates over education and collective bargaining. Under such laws, the submission of signatures from a majority of parents in a school triggers a "turnaround option," which can mean the replacement of a unionized school with a non-union charter. Such laws have been passed in several states, but due to court challenges, the "trigger" process has never been fully implemented."
Jeff Bernstein

Randi Weingarten Responds to Parent Trigger Film « Diane Ravitch's blog - 0 views

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    "One can't help but be moved by the characters and story portrayed in Walden Media's film "Won't Back Down." The film is successful in driving home the sense of urgency parents and educators feel to do everything they can to provide the best possible education for their children. That is abundantly evident in this film-it's what I hear as I visit schools across the country, and it's what I heard when I sat down with parent and community groups from across the country last week.

    We share that pain and frustration. And we firmly believe that every public school should be a school where every parent would want to send his or her child and where every teacher would want to teach. Unfortunately, using the most blatant stereotypes and caricatures I have ever seen-even worse than those in "Waiting for 'Superman'"-the film affixes blame on the wrong culprit: America's teachers unions."
Jeff Bernstein

'Won't Back Down': Realities the movie ignores - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post - 0 views

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    "Though the film "Won't Back Down," starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal, is not being released in theaters until the end of September, its backers are already drumming up support for it and its subject: the controversial "parent trigger" laws that have passed in a few states and are being considered by many others."
Jeff Bernstein

If we really want to #protectourkids, let's have an honest conversation. :: Sabrina Joy... - 0 views

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    "As a society, one of our most important shared responsibilities is the one we take to raise children who are ready to become productive, engaged members of our communities. It's up to all of us to keep them safe, healthy and whole, so they can do the hard work of learning and meeting their full potential. Keeping kids safe and healthy requires trust and cooperation among the adults in each child's life, as well as vigilance among the members of the broader community. This is why we have laws and policies against child abuse and neglect, as well as policies and practices that aim to prevent-or in the awful cases when that fails, to report and prosecute-such abuse.

    This is a serious issue, which is why it's incredibly offensive and dangerous for it to be politicized and trivialized, as has happened over the past few days.

    Last week, former journalist Campbell Brown published an incendiary op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, falsely accusing unions of failing to protect children."
Jeff Bernstein

Shanker Blog » Schools Aren't The Only Reason Test Scores Change - 0 views

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    "In all my many posts about the interpretation of state testing data, it seems that I may have failed to articulate one major implication, which is almost always ignored in the news coverage of the release of annual testing data. That is: raw, unadjusted changes in student test scores are not by themselves very good measures of schools' test-based effectiveness.

    In other words, schools can have a substantial impact on performance, but student test scores also increase, decrease or remain flat for reasons that have little or nothing to do with schools."
Jeff Bernstein

What's Campbell Brown Doing Smearing Teachers All Over the Media? | Alternet - 0 views

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    "Brown, a former CNN and NBC reporter, is arguing against teachers' unions--but doesn't want to disclose that her husband is on the board of Michelle Rhee's anti-union organization."
Jeff Bernstein

Jersey Jazzman: The Economist Fails On Charter Schools - 0 views

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    Last week, The Economist decided it wanted to try to do charters, giving us yet another opportunity to see how the press so often gets education wrong. As is apparently taught at all journalism schools, the story starts with an example of chartery success
Jeff Bernstein

Shanker Blog » The Busy Intersection Of Test-Based Accountability And Public ... - 0 views

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    We've all become accustomed to this selective, exaggerated presentation of testing data, which is of course not at all limited to NYC. And it illustrates the obvious fact that test-based accountability plays out in multiple arenas, formal and informal, including the court of public opinion.

    Some of the errors found in press releases and other official communications, in NYC and elsewhere, are common and probably unintentional (e.g., all three of the mistakes I discussed in this post). In other instances, however, results are misinterpreted in such a blatant fashion as to be a little absurd.
Jeff Bernstein

New York State teachers union leader Dick Iannuzzi bends on evaluations  - NY... - 0 views

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    The head of the state teachers union signaled for the first time Friday a willingness to let parents see teacher evaluations - but nobody else.

    New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi said the union could accept parents having limited access to teacher evaluations, if it were done to help individual students and not shame teachers.

    He steadfastly opposed the widespread release of the teacher report cards, a position favored by Mayor Bloomberg.
Jeff Bernstein

Bill Gates: Making Teacher Evaluations Public 'Not Conducive To Openness' : The Two-Way... - 0 views

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    Gates made a splash back in February when he came out against making Teacher Data Reports - or evaluations - public in New York City. Los Angeles Public Schools released similar data.

    This is a big deal, because his foundation has advocated for tougher accountability standards for teachers, something teachers unions haven't fully embraced.

    In an interview with Weekend Edition Saturday's host Scott Simon, Gates explained himself.

    "The goal is to help teachers be better," Gates said. "And when we run personnel systems where we want to be frank with employees about where they need to improve, having [evaluations] publicly available is not conducive to openness and a free exchange of views."
Jeff Bernstein

Shanker Blog » Measuring Journalist Quality - 0 views

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    Journalists play an essential role in our society. They are charged with informing the public, a vital function in a representative democracy. Yet, year after year, large pockets of the electorate remain poorly-informed on both foreign and domestic affairs. For a long time, commentators have blamed any number of different culprits for this problem, including poverty, education, increasing work hours and the rapid proliferation of entertainment media.

    There is no doubt that these and other factors matter a great deal. Recently, however, there is growing evidence that the factors shaping the degree to which people are informed about current events include not only social and economic conditions, but journalist quality as well. Put simply, better journalists produce better stories, which in turn attract more readers. On the whole, the U.S. journalist community is world class. But there is, as always, a tremendous amount of underlying variation. It's likely that improving the overall quality of reporters would not only result in higher quality information, but it would also bring in more readers. Both outcomes would contribute to a better-informed, more active electorate.

    We at the Shanker Institute feel that it is time to start a public conversation about this issue. We have requested and received datasets documenting the story-by-story readership of the websites of U.S. newspapers, large and small. We are using these data in statistical models that we call "Readers-Added Models," or "RAMs."
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