Why would anyone have remained a teacher when… ?

Dear Everyone,

Not long after I began teaching Language Arts at the high school level in a Chicago suburb, I underwent very serious surgery that was unexpected. When I returned to the classroom, I was still healing and would be for many months to come. I asked several teachers in my department for any materials they were willing to share with me.

Although I knew I would do my best for my students each and every day, I was under no delusions that I was at my best. Teaching is not easy.

Those teachers and others gave me more than I ever expected. They also gave me personal notes on what they thought I should try along with suggestions on how to do it. I learned from them as they supported me. We talked whenever we could – bursts of advice and suggestions. It was an amazing experience for me. This went on for the entire school year.

I cannot tell you how thankful I was and am to those teachers and the others who simply got me through a major personal crisis.

Needless to say, I learned that life and learning are cooperative and not competitive.

Because I realized that I was ever beholden to them for what they did for me, I strove to be my best to them and for them. For years my mind was filled with the message, “Don’t screw it up.” I was not about to let what I learned from them be wasted. Friendships and trusts developed.

None of this should be surprising to most people.

But, there is something more, much more, about what actually happened.

As teachers, they all wanted the children in my classes to learn. Yes, they behaved in the best interests of children who were not under their direct care. Big children – teenagers. These children have needs just as kindergarteners do. Sometimes, even bigger needs.

I have often felt that the students I had that year received better teaching than I had ever been capable of before my surgery.

Parents don’t always know what goes on on the other side of the desk. Students don’t always know this either.

How could I not want to teach, learn, relearn, and do my best working with teachers such as those?

By the way, a few of those teachers were pains in the neck about lots of things over the years. There were even a few (?) I argued with. So what. They were teachers, not gods. Their list of imperfections is nearly as long as my own list of imperfections. My students and their parents also had imperfections galore. As for imperfections in administrators… So what. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “So it goes.”

As a retired public school teacher who never wore rose colored glasses, I clearly see what kept me teaching; and this situation is merely one that stands out in my mind.

Teaching is a career, not just a job.


- Ken Previti

AND – I’m still learning. Here I am at the Network for Public Education National Conference in Austin at the University of Texas in March of 2014 supporting public education for all.

Ken at NPE



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Teachers: Don’t waste your votes? Waste?

“Portion of people living in Illinois who say they would move elsewhere if they could: 1/2″

- Harper’s Index in the Harper’s Magazine, August 2014 issue


Who believes all the lies about the greedy, lazy, incompetent teachers who are bankrupting the state and failing their students?

When a fear-filled lie, propaganda, is repeated often enough by corporate media outlets, fear wins out and social sanity collapses. Selecting a minority group to be an “other” as a scapegoat is a common propaganda procedure. “Stinkin’ teachers!”

Illinois, Florida, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, and YOUR state use teachers as scapegoats for the financial woes created by their own legislators who annually give hundreds of millions of dollars away to each of their corporate, multimillionaire and billionaire campaign contributors. No money for schools, teachers, pensions or anything except giveaways to cronies.

(By the way, states by definition cannot go broke; states are independent taxing entities.)

IL Broke

This “Illinois Is Broke” Campaign was carried on state government’s own State of Illinois sites (Yes, paid for with tax money.), on TV ads, radio and newspaper ads, and even the billboards that greeted visitors driving to and from the airport. AstroTurf organizations, disguised as grassroots groups or think tank experts, supported by the same wealth based individuals and corporations who will benefit financially by the plundering of those state pension funds are doing this with the approval of legislators. Now, what could possibly go wrong with that?

(This particular ad is no longer in use. It served its purpose for the investors in crisis management promoted by hedge fund managers.)

Yes, 30 year Speaker of the House Mike Madigan (D) supported SB1 to steal public pensions, although he and his legislature admittedly have systematically underpaid pensions and spent the money elsewhere. His daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D), is demanding “police powers” to support her father’s legislation – in spite of the fact that both took oaths of office to protect the state constitution which specifically protects public pensions from attack and diminishment.

Yes, Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who is running for re-election, signed the bill into law as he himself is under federal investigation for criminal charges involving misuse of other state monies.

Yes, the major gubernatorial opponent in the race, billionaire Bruce Rauner (R), is deeply involved in “wrongful deaths of developmentally disabled” people under the care of his corporations. Yes, there are even more allegations of additional wrongdoings, such as supplying deplorable living conditions and other atrocious situations. Rauner proudly promises to “run Illinois like a business.”

There are no other viable candidates for governor. Nearly all ads for both contenders warned, “Do not waste your vote” by not voting for either well financed candidate. What could be a more hypocritical and defeatist message?

Perhaps the Lincoln ads should read, “Illinois is morally broke.”

Half the people in Illinois want out.

Sound familiar? What’s happening in YOUR state? How many in your state want out?



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What “Education News” is NOT supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?

“Education coverage for NBCNews.com is supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation… ” – NBCNews

NBC News from B-M Gates

Bill Gates, who financed the creation of Common Core State Standards and other major organizations for corporate education reform, makes hundreds of millions of tax-free dollars in profits monthly from his and his foundations’ investments in high stakes testing, online programs, apps, textbooks, etc. Gates and his foundation are major profiteers in the corporate-led education reform movement which is part of the Education Industrial Complex. Foundations invest money to benefit the foundations. Foundations then pay foundation executives and investors whatever the foundations choose to pay them.

What do the vast majority of Americans know about CCSS and the CCSS compliant high stakes tests sold under a variety of brand names in various states? Whatever they read and hear in the news.

Who pays to have the news report whatever paid experts are chosen to say during interviews? Whatever conclusions are reached by research paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – which also financially supports the universities and think-tank organizations that do the research? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

carl saganIn Carl Sagan’s last book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, published in 1996, he made it clear about why so many people believed what is obviously false by referring to an intelligent man he met in New York.

“He simply accepted what the most widely available and accessible sources of information claimed was true. For his naivete, he was systematically misled and bamboozled.”

Carl Sagan was referring to misleading pseudoscience. Today he would be amazed at how blatantly the misleading corporate education reform information is being financed.

So let’s ask, “What would Carl Sagan do?” Now, let’s do it.



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Randi Weingarten, Mercedes Schneider, CCSS, the NPE Panel, and the AFT Convention

Randi 2Randi plays a major role in the Banraku Puppet Theater of the Absurd in Los Angeles during the AFT Convention.

AFT President Randi Weingarten did her usual song-and-dance for Common Core State Standards at the Network for Public Education National Conference last March at the University Of Texas in Austin. Moderator Anthony Cody presented Randi, Paul Horton, Geralyn McLaughlin, Jose Luis Vilson, and Mercedes Schneider to discuss CCSS. Each panelist in turn blew Randi’s CCSS evangelizing away with the truths and insights each offered. Randi played her “personal reasons” unsharable game. (The full 40 minute video is available HERE for whenever you wish to view it.)

Mercedes Schneider, the most incredible researcher in education, presented data, facts, and conclusions against CCSS that were devastating. Randi simply kept playing her “personal reasons” unsharable game. The audience recognized it for what it was.

This weekend during the AFT Convention in Los Angeles, CTU President Karen Lewis and leaders from other cities and states who oppose CCSS are being treated to the same CCSS Rah-Rah game via Randi and the Board.

But, there is a twist.

Teachers are being told by Randi and the Board to fix CCSS themselves. “Rewrite it the way it should be.” Make a better noose around the neck of of public education; public schools, teachers and students will all play their part in this – whatever that means.

But, there is another twist of that twist.

BanrakuMercedes Schneider proves the false basis for this entire Weingarten led puppet fiasco. Since the entire AFT Board is enacting this Banraku Puppet Theater of the Absurd performance, the truth is explained for all participants of the AFT Conference to consider.

Just as the AFT Conference began, Mercedes blogged this:

“Ironically, the grant money will come from the AFT Innovation Fund formerly financed by Gates to the tune of $4.4 million and doing exactly what he financed: ‘to work on… the Common Core State Standards.’
Aside from the Gates intention being fulfilled, however, there is a much greater problem with teachers’ ‘rewriting’ CCSS. CCSS is a product owned by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Thus, any content labeled ‘CCSS’ belongs to these two organizations that control the CCSS license. Furthermore, any content in CCSS becomes static– one-size-fits-all, inflexible, unable to be adjusted– except by permission of the CCSS license owners.”

Please read Mercedes entire blog HERE.

CCSS cronies own CCSS. It is their licensed product. NGA and CCSSO are not governmental bodies. They are well financed, corporate backed organizations who “influence” governmental decisions. They even get governmental funding by influencing governmental funding decisions.

Teachers, the AFT, the NEA and anybody else who rewrites anything are being used as fronts to decisions that CCSS cronies alone will decide. We are all being chumped!

Hey, Randi! Hey, AFT Board! Stop the fiasco. You are supposed to be on the side of public education for all. We know what you are doing.

Write this on the Power Point presentation. “CCSS cronies own CCSS.”



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ACT for Kindergarteners: Redefining Childhood and Monetizing Children

ACT for kindergarteners is a form of corporate education reform greed that is so bad as to defy explanation. Let’s accept that as a challenge. Let’s attempt to explain this most recent abusive targeting of our children for the private profit of multinational corporations and hedge fund managers.

The degree of hype a company uses often determines its profits. Advertise by using paid experts as toadies. Pay media sources to use ads as press releases. Get the fast buck and to hell with the consequences from the product.

Our kindergarteners will suffer the consequences. Suffer the consequences.

Most parents are not professional educational experts. Those who want their children to have as many educational benefits as possible are actually quite normal parents. Parents generally want what is best for their children.

Put corporate hype together with what most parents want for their children, and let the buyers beware. Especially when the money comes from tax funds intended for public education.

“It’s a multimillion dollar project, ACT officials said, but will be affordable and easily accessible. Schools won’t be compelled to use the new tool, but Erickson said he anticipates that entire states or groups of states will choose to utilize it. The tool can be customized to include state-specific benchmarks and other performance measures.”
- Huffington Post
H/T for John Dillon

(In plain English, this means that ACT testing for kindergarteners will be mandated in states by legislators who will receive big bucks contributions for their re-election campaign funds, not to mention all the other special benefits handed to them.)

ACT tests in kindergarten3In addition, Dr. Rene Hackney, the Child Psychologist for Parenting Playgroups Inc., tells parents all she wants them to believe.

Read and view both the ACT article and her interview at  Huffington Post .

Of course, the ACT corporation has its own legal disclaimer. So, realize that ACT is well aware that test validity (measuring what it is supposed to measure) and reliability (reproducible results of valid tests) are not what ACT guarantees.

“Remember that any test is only a small sample of your skills and may or may not accurately represent your true level of competence. While ACT suggests that an individual’s score on this test cannot be taken as a predictor of future accomplishment, the skills CAAP measures are important for functioning in society and for doing additional college work.”

Just in case the highly touted Common Core State Standards, a non-governmental company/agency, are called into question, it also has its own disclaimer on its own page. The disclaimer is so important, CCSS itself posts it in all CAPS.



How bad is this testing and training for the children who have it inflicted on them?

Most parents read parenting magazines that sell advertising space and post corporate education reform press releases as articles. These ads and articles promote this same Corporate Industrial Complex thrust. (One state recently paid the U.K.’s Pearson Corporation $1 billion for a PARCC contract in spite of the company’s repeated failures in testing 6 to 10 million American children.)

The reality of what our children need to flourish is available from real education experts from around the world, experts who have no financial allegiances to corporate interests.

In the U.K. the importance of following the natural learning needs of children is reported in detail.

The Scandinavian countries have made their childhood education experiences pure science combined with arts of educational excellence.

The negative consequences for programmed lessons inflicted on young children are explained in this 16 minute Ted Talk. (Warning: this is about causes of childhood depression and anxiety.)

Please fight the urge to buy into the early childhood and kindergarten education hype by multinational corporations and their hedge fund managers.

Our children experience childhood only once. They were never meant to be guinea pigs for corporate testing profiteers.



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Teacher Gag Orders and Mass Graves for Contagious Pigs

How are teacher gag orders and the mass graves of pigs with contagious, deadly viruses related?

gag teacher2In 2014 America, the land of free speech for corporations, teachers are not allowed to tell the truth about Common Core State Standards, the destructive consequences for children forced to take rigged high-stakes tests, the insanity of teacher evaluations from tests taken by students they never had in classes they never taught, the defects in test questions that are seriously flawed or inappropriate for grade levels, the abuses suffered by denying the needs of special needs children, and all of the other things being done in the name of legislatively inflicted corporate education reform.

Gag orders for teachers and the destruction of due process before a teacher can be fired are the battles being waged in the attacks on public education and its teachers. If they don’t keep their mouths shut, teachers can and are crushed – fired and discredited in a manner that ends their careers in education. Why? For telling the truth and exposing what is behind corporate education reform. Crushed.

Read HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.

pig burialsIn 2014 America, the land of the free for corporations, people are criminally punished when they photograph and/or expose the death of 100,000 pigs a week in Iowa, North Carolina, Kansas and elsewhere who have deadly viruses [even to humans] and are mass buried in shallow graves that seep into water tables.

Merely taking photos of cattle feedlots can cause a reporter to be arrested and charged.

“George Steinmetz, a photographer working for National Geographic, was arrested in Kansas under the state’s ‘ag gag’ [corporate agricultural protection non-disclosure] law after using a paraglider to take photographs of cattle feedlots and other agricultural operations for an article on the food industry.
- New York Times

All major agribusiness (food industry) abuses and the twisted laws that protect them add to corporate profits. Public safety is secondary in spite of corporate spokesmen claiming the opposite.

All corporate education reform is for private profit from public education taxes.

CCSS, all brands of high stakes testing, so called non-profit charters and for profit charters, vouchers, on-line degrees, and more are for corporate profit. Student debt can begin in pre-school for their parents and continue through with college degrees that can take decades to repay.

Support public education for all of our children, public school teachers, and the legislators of education laws that keep public education taxes for public education.



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Supreme Court of Illinois Backs Pension Clause Intent! Teachers and all public employees rejoice.

Supreme Court of Illinois Backs Pension Clause Intent!

(Re-post of John Dillon’s excellent Pension Vocabulary blog of Sen. Chapin Rose letter.)




Dear Friend,

Today the Illinois Supreme Court issued a major ruling on the rights of state employees with respect to their healthcare benefits in retirement.  This is a “procedural” ruling only that simply returns the case back to the local trial court for further proceeding.  However, it cannot be understated because it also references pension issues in its findings related to healthcare and gives you a glimpse into, ultimately, how the Justices view the so-called “non-diminishment” clause in the Illinois Constitution regarding retiree benefits.  From the opinion:

“[W]e conclude that the State’s provision of health insurance premium subsidies for retirees is a benefit of membership in a pension or retirement system within the meaning of Article XIII, section 5, of the Illinois Constitution, and the General Assembly was precluded from diminishing or impairing that benefit … .”  Further, “[i]f they had intended to protect only core pension annuity benefits and to exclude the various other benefits state employees were and are entitled to receive as a result of membership in the State’s pensions systems, the drafters could have so specified. But they did not.”


Again, I stress that this ruling related to the trial court’s decision to dismiss the healthcare case and the Supreme Court was ordering it to be reinstated.  Nonetheless that the fact that Court’s opinion was issued by a 6-1 majority of the Justices with such strong language protecting both healthcare and pension benefits gives us a very direct insight into how they view the core issue of statutorily diminished benefits itself.

I might add, that the reasoning of the 6-1 majority is one of the primary reasons why I voted against both the pension bill and the healthcare bill: because any “plain reading” of the Illinois Constitution is in line with the Justice’s comments today.  

Best Regards,

State Senator
 Chapin Rose


The State of Illinois Supreme Court ruled on the case regarding State Retiree Health Insurance, Kanerva vs. Weems, UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

  • IRTA applauds the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling today in Kanerva v. Weems.  The Illinois Supreme Court has adopted a broad interpretation of the Pension Protection Clause that fully supports the interpretation advanced in Heaton v. Quinn. 
  • The Illinois Supreme Court has held yet again that, under the Pension Protection Clause of the Illinois Constitution, pension benefits shall not be diminished or impaired.  This is entirely consistent with Illinois Supreme Court precedent dating back several decades.  We believe that the Illinois Supreme Court’s consistent enforcement of the Pension Protection Clause merits serious attention from our political leaders.
  • In Kanerva, the Court reaffirmed that “it is clear that if something qualifies as a benefit of the enforceable contractual relationship resulting from membership in one of the State’s pension or retirement systems, it cannot be diminished or impaired.”

IRTA will continue to keep our members updated in the coming months.



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Corporate Free Speech and Teacher Gag Orders

The Supreme Court Five has refused freedom of speech for teachers and approved freedom of speech protections for corporations (the legal fiction of corporate personhood). Even freedom of religious rights has been granted to corporations who are allowed to refuse birth control pills as part of women’s healthcare coverage. (The vast majority of teachers are women.) This is political/corporate motivated judicial lunacy.

Gag orders against teachers for tests and evaluations, the use and abuse of Common Core State Standards, student needs, physical conditions within the school, etc. are nationwide. Gag orders. To oppose the gag orders is to lose a job and a career. This is corporate education reform lunacy.

gag teacher3

Read about CCSS gags HERE.
Read about Pearson Testing gags HERE.
Read  and view about a kindergarten teacher in Missouri who testified about being gagged HERE.
Read about Kansas teachers gagged from telling the truth about funding and truth HERE.

To tell the truth is today is often considered evil. A whisle-blower teacher is deemed dangerous. Often the term whistle-blower is now considered at least in the trouble-maker category, some might even say it is un-American. This is social lunacy.

Teachers, as some separate type of non-human rights entitled sub-category, are not permitted First Amendment rights in the United States of America. Teachers cannot be trusted to teach, but they can be trusted to carry guns in schools. This is pseudo-patriotic lunacy.


Scapegoating teachers, propaganda declaring teacher greed and incompetence, attacks against teacher unions, tenure (the right to due process and just cause when attempts are made to fire a person) safeguard removal, scripted lessons that require no actual teacher, evaluations of teachers for students they never had in courses they never taught, assessments that are totally unfair, arbitrary salary and pension cuts, and so much more are destroying the teaching profession that has made America great. This is national self-destructive lunacy.

Taking the money out of government is essential to our Bill of Rights and to our continuation as leaders of the free world. Money as free speech and other legal fiction will end when it is forced to end by citizens who choose to stop the corrupt two party system of corporate pandering – corporatism. Once there is real competition for public office, both major political parties will also run candidates who actually serve public interests.

Organize locally to create candidates who will serve the interests of children, public education and the rights of people to freedom of speech. Otherwise, America will be America in name only. The time to do something is now.



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Teachers, Birth Control, Unions, and SCOTUS

Today’s Supreme Court judges, five are judges and four are justices, decided to expose their extremist postures.

Today’s decisions are about women in particular. Women, who are the majority in America, are referred to as lesser beings with minority issues – women’s issues. Birth control is referred to as a women’s issue. How deep into our everyday lives does this reach? Even Microsoft’s spellcheck marks “women’s” issues as a spelling error.


The vast majority of teachers are women, therefore the entire issue of corporate education reform is primarily a women’s issue. Both major teachers’ unions represent women as the vast majority of their memberships. As a matter of fact, our society still considers any form of childcare women’s issues. (As a retired male teacher, I have always dealt with that. Whenever someone asked me what I did for a living, I answered, “A teacher.” And they responded, “A teacher?”)

The home healthcare worker in the union case is a woman. The majority of home healthcare providers are women.

Major media repeatedly reports on unfair treatment of women in other countries as human rights issues. The abuses of human rights issues in America are reported as women’s issues, a mere ideological trade-off of sorts.

Corporate America loves women because they can pay them less for the same job. The equal rights amendment never passed. When men and women are both in the market for the same jobs, women’s lower wage status is used by employers to have men accept lower wages. There is a corporate financial logic behind the madness.


Please do not search for any form of justice in both of today’s rulings. The Supreme Court judges and politicians/legislators of both major political parties are under corporate control. Bought and paid for.

Hobby Lobby, the healthcare industry, the Koch brothers via their related coal/oil industries and tax free foundations, the Education Industrial Complex (especially the testing affiliations) and all of the corporate paid lobbyists assert raw power via immense concentrated wealth. This controls America more than people, individual human beings, do. This is not about affluence; this is about immense multinational concentrated wealth controlling our lives and our destinies.

Unless we actively create some major changes, America is America in name only.


By the way, I am a feminist. Yes, a male feminist who believes women are equal human beings. My world has been filled and shaped by women – wife, daughter, grandmothers, great aunts, mother, aunts, sister, nieces, and women teachers. We are all human beings who deserve equal rights and true equal justice.



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Some books simply stand out: The Teachers’ Lounge (Uncensored) by Kelly Flynn


Money is tight. Books can be expensive. The Teachers’ Lounge (Uncensored) by Kelly Flynn is worth your money and your time. Parents, school board members, older students, curious taxpayers, education advocates, and teachers will all learn something from this insightful and easy to read book written for a wide audience.

The (Uncensored) aspect refers to the honesty of seeing a school filled with real human beings rather than mere data providers and testing machines. So, if you are looking for the sole salacious material, read page 133 where the word cleavage is used. To teachers, the teachers’ lounge is the designated free speech area (Uncensored) of a school where during a few brief moments of respite truths can be uttered. Kelly Flynn is a good utterer of these truths.

If you want an honest view of the state of schools today from the perspective of a perceptive teacher and writer, you have found the right book.

The full scope and direction of the book is easily viewed on Amazon’s site by reading the table of contents and a few pages selected by the author HERE.

Let the book speak for itself. Here are a few examples from elsewhere in The Teachers’ Lounge (Uncensored).

“When parents send their children off to school, of course they hope that they will learn the right answers. But it’s important that they learn to ask the right questions as well.

“Corporate reformers want to dismantle public education, sell the pieces to the highest bidder, and ultimately increase their company’s bottom line.

“Big business believes that the purpose of education is to create a better worker. And to a certain extent that’s true.

“Legislators believe that the purpose of education is to score well on standardized tests and prepare for a four-year college. And the fact that some students don’t have the desire, the smarts, or the money to go to a four-year college is irrelevant to those legislators.

“If the purpose of a K-12 education is to prepare all students for college, an initiative being promoted by states all across the country, then the kids who don’t choose college are not having their needs met. A student who plans to become an electrician, for example, does not need a college-prep curriculum.

“Facts taught out of context are not retained, and the test drill kills inquiry, curiosity, and creativity.

“Educators believe that the purpose of education is to teach students to think. A student who can think critically uses mental processes of discernment, analysis, and evaluation to make decisions and draw conclusions.

“It’s simple: If you teach a child to pass a test, he will learn for a day. If you teach a child to understand how he learns, he will learn for a lifetime.

“Educators don’t want to prepare students to take tests. They know that there is more to learning than subject matter, and that human beings play more roles than that of a worker.

“So before we move forward in education reform we need to decide: Are we educating students for a test?

Or for a lifetime?


Well, what are you waiting for? Go read The Teachers’ Lounge (Uncensored) by Kelly Flynn. HERE.



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