Day 34 Friday May 28, 2010: “You Are Like a Hurricane”


Today is still Friday, May 28, 2010 and Day 34 on my time left at the Mont.


A lot can happen in one day.


Anthony Cody works with a team of experienced science teacher-coaches who support the many novice teachers in Oakland. He is a National Board-certified teacher and an active member of the Teacher Leaders Network. He has also been responsible for bringing Fremont attention through his blog, Living in Dialog at and “Teachers’ Letters to Obama” or TLO. on Facebook.

He is also responsible for getting me involved in the conversation with Arne Duncan.


Why are we doing this? As the intro to Anthony’s blog states, education is at a crossroads. We as teachers have a moral responsibility not to be bystanders, but to be active participants in where we must go, and where we must take education. So I am re-posting Anthony’s latest, which appears on Facebook, as well as a number of other sites. Even if you disagree with where Fremont is headed, please read, please think, please act upon what you will read next.


“Welcome to the Summer of Teacher Discontent
Monday we finally had our talk with Secretary Duncan. As I have written on my blog, we tried to carry the messages from the two thousand members of this group. We worked for hours to prepare our six topics. But in the end, we felt largely unheard, in part because the time was so short, the phone line so poor, the words too few to convey the depth of frustration we all feel about where education is headed.

“We have their attention. Somebody up there finally has awoken to the fact that teachers can make a difference -- in politics as well as in the classroom. Perhaps it was the thousands of teachers who mobilized in
Florida to stop Senate Bill 6. Perhaps it was the backlash to the administration's support of the firing of teachers in Rhode Island
. But all of a sudden, for some reason, they care what we think. We need to make sure they know exactly what we think, in no uncertain terms.

“Two months ago we polled the members of Teachers' Letters to Obama and asked what issues we should raise when we spoke with Secretary Duncan. The top three issues are: Overreliance on test scores for high stakes decisions (93%), narrowing of the curriculum due to over-reliance on test scores (87%), and tying teacher pay and evaluations to test scores (84%). But in our call to Secretary Duncan, the Department of Education seemed to have quick answers to every point we raised around these issues. We need to develop our understanding, including current proposals, so we can weigh in effectively on the policies being decided upon. We need to do a bit of homework, and sharpen our thinking. Then we need to get out there and take a strong stand on what we believe in.

“We need you. We are proposing a summer of teacher activism focused on getting smart, getting clear, and getting involved in the policies that are affecting all of us -- too often in terrible ways. Here is how this will look:

“Discussion Openers: What is wrong about the ways tests are being used? What are the negative consequences? What are alternatives to this approach?

“For the month of June, we are asking everyone to jump on this topic. If you have a blog, write about it. If you have books about this, read them. And most importantly, come to the Teachers' Letters to Obama discussion forums and discuss. We need clarity. What do we want tests to be used for? What do we want to change about the ways they are used? We need to reach a consensus, as teachers, and decide on concrete policies we will support that will enact our vision. We will also have threads where we can suggest ways to affect change: who to pressure, what legislation to support, where to protest, where to write.

“We will organize two large webinars for the month of June. The first will be designed as a learning session. We will invite a few experts, teacher leaders and advocates to share some key understandings about standardized tests and the ways they are being used and abused, and some possible alternative approaches. The webinar will be open to all, and there will be channels for participation. This will be followed by a period of active discussion, where we will seek the consensus we need to speak powerfully on this matter. Then we will hold the second webinar, which will be Teacher Roundtable, where we will allow prominent and powerful voices from the discussion to speak out publicly. We will invite the Department of Education, members of Congress, and the press to attend. This will be their chance to hear teachers. And our voices will reflect not just the ideas of the few who are speaking, but will carry the power of all who have been involved and contributing. The policy ideas that emerge will become the items that we will ask the Department of Education and members of Congress to act on in the months to come.

“What do you say? Will you join in this process and make your voice heard?

“Please join us on the Teachers' Letters Discussion forum to discuss this process, and the big questions we are raising about our obsession with testing.


Anthony Cody


Okay, Chuck again. Got some sites for you to check out:


Marsha Ratzel,

Heather Wolpert-Gawron,

Mary Tedrow,

Renee Moore,

Elena Aguilar,

Rian Fike,

Nancy Flanagan,

Accomplished California Teachers,


Time to stand and be counted.




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    Chuck Olynyk is a Social Studies teacher who saw the effects of reconstitution upon John C. Fremont High in Los Angeles. These are reposting of his original blogs from the Save Fremont website.


    August 2010



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