Monday, May 30, 2011

Avoiding the Poverty Issue at NYT

Avoiding the Poverty Issue

@ NYT's Room for Debate

Testing Students to Grade Teachers


And kindly reposted by Susan Ohanian:

Avoiding the Poverty Issue
Paul Thomas
New York Times Online Room For Debate

New York Times online forum Room for Debate asked the question  What do we know about using student achievement tests to judge teacher performance? Paul Thomas was the only respondent who addressed the real issue.


And at NEPC

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Just submitted a piece for an upcoming Room for Debate at The New York Times:

Will post when/if this is accepted; on teacher evaluations tied to test scores. . .

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New book on Obama and Education from IAP

Edited by:
Paul R. Carr, Lakehead University
Bradley Porfilio, Lewis University in Romeoville, IL

Who should read this book? Anyone who is touched by public education – teachers, administrators, teacher-educators, students, parents, politicians, pundits, and citizens – ought to read this book. It will speak to educators, policymakers and citizens who are concerned about the future of education and its relation to a robust, participatory democracy. The perspectives offered by a wonderfully diverse collection of contributors provide a glimpse into the complex, multilayered factors that shape, and are shaped by, institutions of schooling today. The analyses presented in this text are critical of how globalization and neoliberalism exert increasing levels of control over the public institutions meant to support the common good. Readers of this book will be well prepared to participate in the dialogue that will influence the future of public education in this nation – a dialogue that must seek the kind of change that represents hope for all students.

As for the question contained in the title of the book--Can hope audaciously trump neoliberalism?--, Carr and Porfilio develop a framework that integrates the work of the contributors, including Christine Sleeter and Dennis Carlson, who wrote the forward and afterword respectively, that problematizes how the Obama administration has presented an extremely constrained, conservative notion of change in and through education. The rhetoric has not been matched by meaningful, tangible, transformative proposals, policies and programs aimed at transformative change. There are many reasons for this, and, according to the contributors to this book, it is clear that neoliberalism is a major obstacle to stimulating the hope that so many have been hoping for. Addressing systemic inequities embedded within neoliberalism, Carr and Porfilio argue, is key to achieving the hope so brilliantly presented by Obama during the campaign that brought him to the presidency.
Acknowledgements. Foreword: Challenging the Empire’s Agenda for Education, Christine E. Sleeter. SECTION I: USING HISTORICAL AND THEORETICAL INSIGHTS TO UNDERSTAND OBAMA’S EDUCATIONAL AGENDA. More of the Same: How Free Market-Capitalism Dominates the Economy and Education, David Hursh. Concocting Crises to Create Consent: The Importance of “The Shock Doctrine” to Understanding Current Educational Policy, Virginia Lea. Educational Hope Ignored Under Obama: The Persistent Failure of Crisis Discourse and Utopian Expectations, P. L. Thomas. Competing Definitions of Hope in Obama’s Education Marketplace: Media Representations of School Reform, Equality, and Social Justice, Rebecca A. Goldstein, Sheila Macrine, Nataly Z. Chesky, and Alexandra Perry. SECTION II: THE PERILS OF NEOLIBERAL SCHOOLING: CRITIQUING CORPORATIZED FORMS OF SCHOOLING AND A SOBER ASSESSMENT OF WHERE OBAMA IS TAKING US. Charting a New Course for Public Education Through Charter Schools: Where is Obama Taking Us? Mary Christianakis and Richard Mora. Manufactured Consent: Latino/a Themed Charter Schools, in Whose Interests? Theresa Montaño and Lynne Aoki. Whose Schools are These Anyway—American Dream or Nightmare? Countering the Corporate Takeover of Schools in California, Roberta Ahlquist. Obama, Escucha! Estamos en la Lucha! Challenging Neoliberalism in Los Angeles Schools, Theresa Montaño. Standardized Teacher Performance Assessment: Obama/Duncan’s Quick Fix for What They Think it is That Ails Us, Ann Berlak. The Political Economy of Educational Restructuring: On the Origin of Performance Pay and Obama’s “Blueprint” for Education, Mark Garrison. SECTION III: ENVISIONING NEW SCHOOLS AND A NEW SOCIAL WORLD: STORIES OF RESISTENCE, HOPE, AND TRANSFORMATION. The Education Agenda is a War Agenda: Connecting Reason to Power and Power to Resistance, Rich Gibson and E. Wayne Ross. Connecting Communities and Schools: Accountability in the Post-NCLB Era, Tina Wagle and Paul Theobald. If There is Anyone Out There, Peter McLaren. Afterword: Working the Contradictions: The Obama Administration’s Educational Policy, and Democracy Will Come, Dennis Carlson. Biographies.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Call for Manuscripts

Critical Literacy Teaching Series: Challenging Authors and Genres

Series Editor: P. L. Thomas, EdD, Furman University

Kincheloe (2005) offers a foundational argument about the role of critical pedagogy in our classrooms:
[P]roponents of critical pedagogy understand that every dimension of schooling and every form of educational practice are politically contested spaces. Shaped by history and challenged by a wide range of interest groups, educational practice is a fuzzy concept as it takes place in numerous settings, is shaped by a plethora of often-invisible forces, and can operate even in the name of democracy and justice to be totalitarian and oppressive. (p. 2)

This series will explore major authors and genres through a critical literacy lens that seeks to offer students opportunities as readers and writers to embrace and act upon their own empowerment. Further, the volumes in this series are guided by Freire (2005) as well:
One of the violences perpetuated by illiteracy is the suffocation of the consciousness and the expressiveness of men and women who are forbidden from reading and writing, thus limiting their capacity to write about their reading of the world so they can rethink about their original reading of it. (p. 2)

We are seeking proposals for volumes in this new series. Volumes may address individual authors or genres of literature.

Volume ideas may include (but are not limited to) the following:

Authors:                                     Genres:
Sandra Cisneros                        Graphic novels and comics
Louise Erdrich                          Children’s literature
Rachel Carson                           Poetry
Alice Walker                              Novels

Send proposal ideas or questions about potential volumes to the series editor, P. L. Thomas, by email ( Additional materials (such as vita, writing samples, etc.) may be requested along with proposals.

Series Editorial Board:

Karen Stein, PhD, University of Rhode Island

Shirley Steinberg, PhD, McGill University

Jeanne Gerlach, EdD, University of Texas-Arlington

Leila Christenbury, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University

Renita Schmidt, PhD, Furman University

Ken Lindblom, PhD, Stony Brook University

Superman is fantasy, teaching is reality

Thomas, P. L. (2011, May 6). Superman is fantasy, teaching is reality. Daily Kos.

The Cutthroat Curriculum by Adam Bessie

The Cutthroat Curriculum by Adam Bessie