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Julie Woestehoff
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Entries by Julie Woestehoff

Won't Back Down: Myth-Making Can't Stand Up to Real Life Education Heroes

(14) Comments | Posted October 1, 2012 | 10:59 AM

Walden Media's Won't Back Down portrays the heroism of one parent and one teacher fighting harmful educational practices by taking over their school. Their victory is as mythic as it is misleading. Those who should be celebrated by such media attention are the real-life heroes at the grassroots who have...

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The Three Big Lies in Won't Back Down

(9) Comments | Posted September 27, 2012 | 5:56 PM

I saw Won't Back Down last week. The crowd loved it, and I might have liked it too, if I hadn't known why it was produced or been aware of the three big lies at the heart of the movie.

After all, it's just a movie, right? And a somewhat...

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Are Charter Schools the Answer to - or One Reason for - Chicago's Violence?

(2) Comments | Posted July 17, 2012 | 12:03 PM

Twenty-four students were fatally shot during the school year that ended June 15, four fewer than in the 2010-11 year. But the overall shooting toll -- 319 -- was the highest in four years and a nearly 22 percent increase from the previous school year.

The rise in shootings of...

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Stop the Churn: Give Schools Back to the Community

(11) Comments | Posted December 6, 2011 | 11:30 AM

"Churn rate (sometimes called attrition rate), in its broadest sense, is a measure of the number of individuals or items moving into or out of a collective over a specific period of time.... The phrase is based on the English verb "churn," meaning 'to agitate or produce violent motion.'" --...

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Parents to Senate Education Committee: You Need our Input on ESEA!

(0) Comments | Posted November 10, 2011 | 11:03 AM

Parents Across America (PAA) has sent a letter to the members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee after noting that panelists testifying at this week's committee hearing on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education law included no parent representatives.

PAA has reached out to...

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Education "Reformers" Next Target? "One-Size-Fits-All" Democracy

(11) Comments | Posted September 7, 2011 | 1:37 PM

Now that they've had some success destroying public education, the school reform privateers are setting their sights on something even more precious and fundamental to our nation -- our democracy.

You see, democracy is "messy" and "one-size-fits-all" and has a pesky habit of getting in the way of even more...

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New Illinois Law: Education Reform or Mere Distraction?

(16) Comments | Posted June 15, 2011 | 12:35 PM

From the way our esteemed Illinois politicians and their supporters have been preening the past couple of days, you'd think they had cured cancer or ended racism. Nope, it's what they and the media have been relentlessly calling a "historic" new education reform law.

Parents across Chicago haven't...

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What if the Fad Was Med Reform, not Ed Reform?

(10) Comments | Posted June 13, 2011 | 10:36 AM

What if corporate honchos, politicos and other non-professionals decided to give up on education and stick their reforming noses into medicine instead? (We know that Bill Gates is already doing this in Africa, so it's not so far-fetched). If past performance is any indication of future actions, here's...

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My Advice to Mayor Rahm: How to Be a Real Education Mayor

(2) Comments | Posted May 23, 2011 | 12:39 PM

Mayor Emanuel, welcome! It's great to have a new mayor who says that improving our schools is his number one priority. That's a great place to start.

More potentially positive steps: you chose an actual educator as Chief Executive Officer for the Chicago Public Schools instead of the non-educator...

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Illinois: Not Ready for Reform in School Facility Decisions?

(5) Comments | Posted May 12, 2011 | 1:49 PM

With one governor currently serving time and another on deck, you would think that the Illinois state legislature would at least try to look as if it's in favor of open, transparent, democratic decision making.

Here's one way we can be sure that they're not.

The Illinois General...

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Is Supt. Brizard's Chicago Honeymoon Over Before It Started?

(14) Comments | Posted April 22, 2011 | 4:36 PM

On the first day of spring break for the Chicago Public Schools, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel came out with guns blazing, drawing clear battle lines with Chicago teachers and parents by announcing that he will appoint Jean-Claude Brizard as the district's Chief Executive Officer.

Brizard has been school superintendent in...

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Obama, Duncan Want 'Better Tests'? We Need Better Answers First

(51) Comments | Posted April 14, 2011 | 2:13 PM

A few days ago at a student forum, a young woman asked President Obama, "Could you reduce the amount of tests?"

The President didn't say yes. What he did say is that "we have piled on a lot of standardized tests on our kids." He asserted that such...

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Yes, Rahm, People Want Change -- Stop the False Charter School Rhetoric

(8) Comments | Posted April 6, 2011 | 6:00 PM

Rahm just doesn't get it.

Back in February, a group of Chicago Public Schools high-schoolers busted Chicago mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's chops in a YouTube video for making false statements about charter schools on the campaign trail:

Rahm had claimed that, outside of two selective enrollment CPS high schools, the seven top-performing high schools were charters. The students didn't think that sounded right, did some research, and found out that, in fact, none of the top seven were charter schools, and they explained that in their video.

That didn't stop Rahm, though. He used the same false statement last month at a student forum. The Sun-Times actually ran an inset to the story correcting Rahm's assertion, a public tsk-ing almost unheard of in Chicago's mainstream media.

Then, Monday, he did it again. This time, he called for more schools like the Young Women's Leadership Charter School. Here's what WBEZ's Linda Lutton had to say about that:

Emanuel called the school's results 'quite impressive,' though state records show only 15 percent of high-schoolers there met state standards. The mayor-elect... cited a 'hundred percent graduation rate' at the charter school. But that number does not take into account students who dropped out before their senior year.

So, it seems that Rahm is going to base his education plan on fakery and overblown rhetoric. Sadly, that's way too much like the "change" President Obama offered us -- and we believed in -- until he appointed Arne Duncan as Education Secretary. That's not the change people want.

I have to agree with Christina Henriquez, one of the students on the YouTube video, who said that statements like Rahm's show "that the people that people think know everything aren't really looking into the problems they say they want to fix."

Christina and her friends deserve much, much better than...

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Rahm as "Da Bachelor" and Other Reality TV Ideas for Chicago's Schools

(5) Comments | Posted March 30, 2011 | 12:31 PM

Well, a few days ago some folks were beefing about the fact that the college-admission SAT asked about reality TV in a prompt for an essay question on the test given earlier this month:

How authentic can these shows be when producers design challenges for the participants and...
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Common Sense and Jeb Bush's 'Seismic Path' to Teacher Merit Pay

(14) Comments | Posted March 22, 2011 | 3:00 PM

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush writes in a recent op-ed about the new teacher evaluation system just enacted by the Florida legislature. The law will link teacher jobs to student standardized test scores. He praises the move as "forging a seismic path for modernizing the teaching profession nationwide."

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Chicago Public School Students: 'When Will We Ever Be Good Enough?'

(28) Comments | Posted February 15, 2011 | 11:12 AM

"You want a real school turnaround? Invest in us!"

That's the heartwarming (and heartbreaking) message from Chicago Public Schools students who have been speaking out forcefully in the last few days, calling on public officials to stop looking down on them and start working for all students, not just some.

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Why Do Students March Across the Street Every Day?

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2011 | 11:20 AM

Well, it's not just to get to the other side.

Since Monday, a handful of Advanced Placement students from Chicago's South Shore Schools of the Arts and of Technology have been marching across the street for a mere 50 minutes of class in the brand-new, otherwise empty South Shore International...

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Our Children: Cannon Fodder in Obama's War to Win the Future?

(41) Comments | Posted January 28, 2011 | 2:11 PM

I don't actually think that the phrase "Sputnik moment" accurately describes the vision for education that President Obama shared with us in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

Yes, there were clear overtones of the space race era, a time when America feared that our nation...

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Students Graded on Their Body Mass Index: a Scale as Arbitrary as Some Value-Added Teacher Scores

(2) Comments | Posted January 21, 2011 | 6:03 PM

In a world of high-stakes measures, this one really takes the cake.

Until this week, an elementary school in Elmhurst, Illinois, has been using students' Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements as part of their physical fitness grades. The BMI is an individual's body weight divided by the square of his...

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Enacting Dr. King's 'Boycott Agenda' Today

(0) Comments | Posted January 18, 2011 | 1:12 PM

The day before he was killed, in his famous "Mountaintop" speech, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for a boycott of Coca-Cola and Wonder Bread. Here's what he said:

We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad...
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