Monday, May 23, 2016

CURMUDGUCATION: The Future Ready Pledge

CURMUDGUCATION: The Future Ready Pledge:
The Future Ready Pledge


Has your superintendent taken the pledge?

Probably not-- the Future Ready Schools pledge is yet another one of those federal bully pulpit PR initiatives that must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but refused to go viral.

But the pledge, whipped up in October of 2014, is worth a look because it tells us what the USED thought the future would look like back in those halcyon days of Almost Two Years Ago.

FRS got tangled up with the Alliance for Excellence in Education in 2015. A4EE is one of those groups that exists in a magic land, the place where the revolving door between government agencies, private interests, and "advocacy" groups is spinning so fast that it looks like all three types of organizations are really just the same people wearing different party hats. A4EE is headed by former WV governor Bob Wise and includes Linda Darling-Hammond (Stanford), Frederick Frelow (from the Ford Foundation), N. Gerry House (former superintendent, current big cheese at Educational Testing Services), some tech guys (amazon), and some policy wonks. A4EE loves it some reformy stew, from Common Core to digital learning.

The Alliance "partnered" with the USED to push Future Ready Schools through the first half of 2015. They sold the pledge hard, along with the various policies attached to it. What is the pledge, you ask? Let's take a look.

The opening is simple enough:

I, _______________________, Superintendent of _________________________ do hereby affirm the commitment of this district to work with students, educators, families, and members of our community to become Future Ready by engaging in a wide range of activities such as:

And then we get to the List of Goodies. 

Fostering and Leading a Culture of Digital Learning Within Our Schools.

The language here is plenty familiar. Leaders are supposed to use "the power of technology to help drive continuous improvement."

Helping Schools and Families Transition to High-speed Connectivity.

The pledging district is supposed to do analysis of tech connections, which is not a biggy. I regularly analyze my students' access to high-speed connectivity by a technique I like to call "Asking them." FRS are supposed to "work with community partners to leverage local, state, and federal resources to support home Internet access outside of traditional school hours." What do you mean, "leverage?" High speed internet connections cost money, both to pay for the connection as well as the equipment needed to connect. That equipment will have to be upgraded, maintained and replaced on a regular basis. Again, this is not rocket science-- it takes money. In rural areas like mine, a big pile of money that nobody here has
CURMUDGUCATION: The Future Ready Pledge: "The Future Ready Pledge"

Getting Derailed Parent-Teacher Relationships Back on Track

Getting Derailed Parent-Teacher Relationships Back on Track:

Getting Derailed Parent-Teacher Relationships Back on Track

building better teacher-parent relationships
Hello and welcome to the Blame Game, where parent blame teachers and teachers blame parents for low grades, mischievous behavior, and everything under the sun. I’m your host, and today we have two contestants who will … 
Wait! What? Stop!
While this game show doesn’t exist, and may exaggerate what actually happens, it’s not too far from the truth. Just at the comment section of any article or blog post on education. It’s not unusual to find comments like, “my son hates school because of his teacher” or “parents don’t care.”
“People make assumptions all the time,” says Bonnie M. Davis, a retired educator of 30 years from Missouri. “You’ll hear, ‘Kid doesn’t do homework because parents don’t care.’ But most people do care and they try to do their best.”
Most teachers are understanding of parents, too.
In a Reddit thread dubbed, When Parents Blame You, one user commented, “I don’t blame the parents. They are usually super stressed out. [I’ve] had parents go from irate to crying in 20 minutes. As soon as I can identify the underlying fear and address that directly, we can get on the same page and come up with a plan.”
“Try not to take it personally,” suggests Davis, “and give each other a break.”
The trigger, in a lot of cases, is that the communication between the educator and the parent has fallen to the wayside. That’s especially true amid the heavy demands of educating students and the weight of raising children. “Everyone is stressed,” says Davis, who taught in the Clayton School District just outside St. Louis.
Take a look at the statements below. Which sentiment belongs to whom? The parent or the teacher?
  • I’m doing everything I can
  • I need more hours in the day
  • I’m so tired
  • I feel like I work all the time
  • I’m so stressed
  • I have no “me” time
If you said a teacher and a parent could have said each one, you’re right. The good news is that a lot of parents already have strong relationships with educators.
In 2012, Parenting magazine and NEA surveyed 1,000 public school parents and Getting Derailed Parent-Teacher Relationships Back on Track:
Big Education Ape: WTF: Washington State PTA to Members: Not Qualified to Talk about Money for Education http://bit.ly/243dxVM

Today’s School Reforms and the Destruction of Invention

Today’s School Reforms and the Destruction of Invention:

Today’s School Reforms and the Destruction of Invention

Thomas Edison (1847-1931) on antique print from 1899.  American inventor and businessman. After A.Anderson and published in the 19th century in portraits, Germany, 1899.

Currently, school reformers impact schools in such a way that little is done to assist students to be inventors. To teach young people to invent means looking at them as individuals with interests and uniqueness—hopes and dreams.
It means providing experiences that foster those interests–introducing them to new ideas.
Schools need to encourage and trust students to have time to think on their own, and teachers need to have time to assist them to explore how the world works.
There is nothing to encourage invention when students focus mostly on reading and math performance for the high-stakes testing. Students spend much of their time doing classroom drill like they are in the army. Sit still, shape up, and do not break eye contact!
And, of course, obtain a high test score.
Students don’t even learn the beauty of reading and math as subjects!
Where are the other classes to inspire? What happened to learning science, social studies and the arts? Where’s music to make life joyful and worth exploring?
When students are highly controlled, they will act the way they are told, to get what the Today’s School Reforms and the Destruction of Invention:

Seattle Schools Community Forum: State Superintendent Questionnaire: David Spring

Seattle Schools Community Forum: State Superintendent Questionnaire: David Spring:

State Superintendent Questionnaire: David Spring

Spring for Better Schools! http://bit.ly/1NHw1sM

David Spring is one of four candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  

About David (partial from his website):


I am a parent and teacher from North Bend, where I have lived for more than 20 years. My daughter, Sierra, is now a 10th Grader Honors student at Mount Si High School. 

Education & Teaching Background
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Science Education from Washington State University and a Master’s Degree in Education and Child Development from the University of Washington. After graduating from WSU, I served as a VISTA volunteer developing an alternative educational program for at-risk youth in Rapid City, South Dakota. 

I then spent over 20 years teaching, mainly at Bellevue College, where I taught courses in problem solving and conflict resolution. I am also a ski instructor, climbing instructor and climb leader. I have successfully and safely led over 100 teams of climbers to the summit of Mount Rainier. I therefore know how to lead teams confronted with difficult circumstances and keep them moving towards a goal in the face of adversity. I am also a former Rescue Leader with King County Search and Rescue.
Spring has also served two terms in the Washington State Legislature. 

Here's his website and you can e-mail him with questions at David(at)SpringForBetterSchools.org.

1. Why are you running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction and what do you believe the role of the superintendent is to public education in Washington State?
I am running for Superintendent in order to fully and immediately fund our public schools. One of my opponents (Chris Reykdal) claims that the legislature has made "progress"; in funding our schools. But here are the facts. In the four years since January2012, when our Supreme Court ruled that the legislature has failed to meet their Constitutional Paramount Duty to fully fund our schools, the number of students in our state has increased 30,000 while the number of teachers has decreased by 1,000.

Every year class sizes for the past 20 years class sizes have gone up. Every year the number of students attending schools that do not meet either the health code or earthquake code standards has gotten worse. Legislators like Chris Reykdal have written draconian bills like House Bill 2214 to hold our kids and teachers accountable with horrible tests like the SBAC test -a test that is so difficult that almost no one in the legislature can pass. It is time to hold the legislature accountable for the harm they have inflicted on our kids and our schools. I will end the excuses, delays and gridlock in Olympia by going around the State legislature and asking the Supreme Court to repeal$10 billion per year in corporate tax breaks in order to double school funding, build hundreds of urgently needed schools, hire tens of thousands of teachers and increase the pay of teachers by 40% to increase teacher retention so that struggling students can get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life.

As for the role of Superintendent, many people (including the past three superintendents and my opponents in the current race) think the Superintendent is simply a rubber stamping figure head with no real power and no real duties. However, Article 3, Section 22 of our State Constitution states that the Superintendent"shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools." Furthermore, Article 9, Section 1 states: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders." Note that it is not 
Seattle Schools Community Forum: State Superintendent Questionnaire: David Spring:



Three Sanders Opportunities: Bernie or… - Living in Dialogue

Three Sanders Opportunities: Bernie or… - Living in Dialogue:

Three Sanders Opportunities: Bernie or… 



 The Bernie Sanders candidacy offers the American people several important opportunities that should not be missed. First and foremost, he offers us the chance to put forth a principled candidate as the Democratic nominee. If this is accomplished then we can begin the hard work of reclaiming the party from the careerist sellouts that have been in charge for decades. He has said he will replace Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chair of the DNC, and there are many more changes that can be made to ensure more democracy in the party. We can seriously take on campaign finance reform because the party will have a standard bearer who will have prevailed without billionaire support.

While this is by far the best opportunity, it is not the only one. There is another set of opportunities that await if Sanders fails to get the nomination.
To consider this, we have to engage in a bit of speculation, because the options depend somewhat on how history unfolds in the next few months.
For the second opportunity we have, let’s assume that Sanders fails to secure the nomination, but that the Democratic party leadership recognizes that Clinton doomed without the enthusiastic support of millions of Sanders voters. As a result, Clinton and other party leaders embrace key parts of the Sanders platform – a $15 minimum wage, real campaign finance reform, breaking up the banks, health care for all, an end to the super delegates, no more imperial wars, and end to mass deportations, criminal and racial justice reform, and so on. In this case it is possible that distrust of Clinton and party leadership could be overcome, and she could build a winning coalition to defeat Trump. If, and this is a very big if, she and party leaders stayed true to these principles, then the Democratic Party could once again become a party capable of representing working and poor people. I do not rate this possibility as very likely, unfortunately.
There is a third scenario that is less optimistic. Let’s assume for our third possible future history that Clinton secures the nomination through the use of super delegates and insider maneuvers. And she and party leaders believe (as they seem to believe now) that everyone will flock to vote for her because Trump is such a loathsome alternative, and therefore make little effort to win over Sanders voters. They do not embrace campaign finance reform, or any of the other key elements of the Sanders platform. Let’s assume, for the sake of this speculation, that Clinton actually manages to defeat Trump. While she is far more vulnerable to him than Sanders would be, she still could defeat the misogynistic blowhard. And we should support her, although it will be tough to muster much enthusiasm.
Under this scenario, we have a third term of Clintons in the White House. Based on the first two Clinton terms, and on her more recent work as Secretary of State, we can expect more corporate trade deals, more promotion of globalization and privatization, more military aggression, and little in the way of real change. In Three Sanders Opportunities: Bernie or… - Living in Dialogue:

What if... | A letter from the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | Impatient Optimists

What if... | A letter from the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | Impatient Optimists:

Lessons in U.S. Education

 
From the beginning, Bill and Melinda wanted their foundation to be a learning organization; one that evolves and course corrects based on evidence. We want to get continually smarter. One of our greatest areas of learning has been our work in K-12 U.S. education.
We are firm believers that education is a bridge to opportunity in America. My colleague, Allan Golston,spoke passionately about this at a gathering of education experts last year.
However, we’re facing the fact that it is a real struggle to make system-wide change.
For too many students today, the bridge to a prosperous and fulfilling life is obstructed and uncertain. In 2015, the ACT Condition of Career and College Readiness study revealed that only 40 percent of students met three of the four college-readiness standards across English, reading, math, and science. And performance was much lower for students of color.
That statistic reads like part of a bad word problem, but it is real. It is really tough to create more great public schools.
However, I’m optimistic that all students can thrive when they are held to high standards. And when educators have clear and consistent expectations of what students should be able to do at the end of each year, the bridge to opportunity opens. The Common Core State Standards help set those expectations.
We’ve begun to see signs of improvement in student performance in some of the states that have embraced the Common Core. Kentucky, the first state to adopt the standards, is a prime example.
To implement the Common Core, Kentucky engaged the community and worked with parents, teachers and school leaders to build an interconnected system of standards, teacher feedback and support, and measurement over time. As a result, Kentucky has increased from 27 percent to 33 percent students meeting three out of four ACT benchmarks for college readiness since 2011. The same metric nationally has remained flat since 2011, so a 6 percentage point increase is a sign of real progress.
Common Core
Deep and deliberate engagement is essential to success. Rigorous standards and high expectations are meaningless if teachers aren’t equipped to help students meet them.
Unfortunately, our foundation underestimated the level of resources and support required for our public education systems to be well-equipped to implement the standards. We missed an early opportunity to sufficiently engage educators – particularly teachers – but also parents and communities so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning.
This has been a challenging lesson for us to absorb, but we take it to heart. The mission of improving education in America is both vast and complicated, and the Gates Foundation doesn’t have all the answers.
But every tough lesson only reinforces our commitment to teachers and student success.
All teachers and students should have access to learning materials of the highest quality. But far too many districts report that identifying or developing Common Core-aligned materials is a challenge, meaning that teachers spend their time adapting or creating curriculum, developing lessons, and searching for supplemental materials.
One of the best parts of my job is getting to hear from educators. And no one knows teaching like teachers. So, we’re doubling down on our efforts to make sure teachers have what they need to make the most of their unique capabilities.
Digital content and tools that provide support for lesson planning – including LearnZillionBetter Lesson, and EngageNY – are providing millions of teachers with an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional textbooks.
We’re supporting a partnership with EdReports.org, the Consumer Reports of K-12 curriculum, to provide free and open-access teacher-led reviews and evidence on instructional materials. This will increase the capacity of educators across the country to seek, develop, and demand high-quality, aligned instructional materials.
Our learning journey in U.S. education is far from over, but we are in it for the long haul. I’m optimistic that the lessons we learn from our partners – and, crucially, from educators – will help the American school system once again become the powerful engine of equity we all believe it should be.What if... | A letter from the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | Impatient Optimists:

Why Oppressing Transgender Students Is An Attack On Public Education

Why Oppressing Transgender Students Is An Attack On Public Education:

Why Oppressing Transgender Students Is An Attack On Public Education

It didn’t take long for conservatives to turn their attack on the rights of transgender students into an attack on another favorite target of theirs: public schools.
In the pages of the conservative journal National Review, the latest screed declares, “The Obama administration just destroyed the traditional American public school.”
First, it’s not hard to miss the dog whistle language in this piece, primarily, using “traditional” as a code word for white, straight and Christian and posing as a victim while arguing for “the right” to discriminate against a vulnerable minority.
Nevertheless, the target of conservative ire is the recent joint announcement from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education that public schools must allow transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
As an article in Education Week explains, “Amid an escalating legal battle with the state of North Carolina that has thrust that state’s schools into the center of a fight over transgender rights, the letter to the nation’s roughly 14,000 school districts made clear the administration’s position that restricting transgender students’ access to restrooms and locker rooms is discriminatory and could put federal funding at risk.”
Conservative politicians and overly cautious intellectuals are accusing the Obama administration of “overreach” and “being too hasty” in issuing this directive. But many public schools had already been steadily working at ways to accommodate transgender students well before North Carolina started its attack on transgender rights and conservatives around the country gleefully piled on.
Obama’s directive, rather than sparking a new firestorm, merely reinforces what traditional (for real) public schools are meant to ensure all along. And that’s what conservatives hate most.
What Schools Are Already Doing
“Many schools already accommodate transgender students,” another Education Week article reports.
As Evie Blad explains, the furious response to the Obama administration’s guidance on treatment of transgender students “made it seem as if the directions came with no warning or precedent … But followers of school law and transgender student advocacy will tell you that the federal agency already enforced this interpretation in the past and that many schools were already making such accommodations.”
Blad spotlights 14 states with nondiscrimination laws and policies that include gender identity. But numerous local districts and local school districts have also acted to ensure Why Oppressing Transgender Students Is An Attack On Public Education:


“The Data Walls Must Come Down”: My Email To All Delaware Superintendents & Charter Chiefs – Exceptional Delaware

“The Data Walls Must Come Down”: My Email To All Delaware Superintendents & Charter Chiefs – Exceptional Delaware:

“The Data Walls Must Come Down”: My Email To All Delaware Superintendents & Charter Chiefs

When I say I am going to do something, I mean it.  Therefore, in response to my article about the atrocious data walls in Delaware schools I just emailed every single Delaware Superintendent and Charter Chief.  I will be emailing each district or charter school’s board of education as well and ask them to bring forth policy to eliminate these walls of shame.  To echo the departed President Ronald Reagan: “Delaware schools, tear down these data walls!” Like I did last year when I emailed all of them about opt out ignorance in Delaware schools, I am posting the email to this blog:
Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To: Burrows Matthew L. <matthew.burrows@appo.k12.de.us>; Holodick Mark <mark.holodick@bsd.k12.de.us>; Fitzgerald Kevin (K12) <kevin.fitzgerald@cr.k12.de.us>; Fulton Robert <robert.fulton@cape.k12.de.us>; Shelton Dan <dan.shelton@capital.k12.de.us>; ANDRZEJEWSKI ROBERT <robert.andrzejewski@christina.k12.de.us>; Blakey Dolan (K12) <dolan.blakey@colonial.k12.de.us>; Phillips Charity <charity.phillips@delmar.k12.de.us>; “susan.bunting@irsd.k12.de.us” <susan.bunting@irsd.k12.de.us>; “bgwynder@lf.k12.de.us” <bgwynder@lf.k12.de.us>; “shawn.larrimore@laurel.k12.de.us” <shawn.larrimore@laurel.k12.de.us>; Phyllis Kohel <pkohel@msd.k12.de.us>; Gehrt Vicki (K12) <vicki.gehrt@nccvt.k12.de.us>; Zych Deborah (K12) <deborah.zych@polytech.k12.de.us>; Daugherty Mervin B. <mervin.daugherty@redclay.k12.de.us>; Marshall Cheri <cheri.marshall@aod.k12.de.us>; “mark.phelps@academia.k12.de.us” <mark.phelps@academia.k12.de.us>; “margie.lopezwaite@laaa.k12.de.us” <margie.lopezwaite@laaa.k12.de.us>; Catherine Balsley <catherine.balsley@ccs.k12.de.us>; “spaoli@charterschool.org” <spaoli@charterschool.org>; “sandra.wilson-hypes@dapss.k12.de.us” <sandra.wilson-hypes@dapss.k12.de.us>; “Angela.Dennis@dcpa.k12.de.us” <angela.dennis@dcpa.k12.de.us>; “calvarez@design-labschools.org” <calvarez@design-labschools.org>; “anthony.pullela@dma.k12.de.us” <anthony.pullela@dma.k12.de.us>; Lamont Browne <lamont.browne@escs.k12.de.us>; “evelyn.edney@echs.k12.de.us” <evelyn.edney@echs.k12.de.us>; “rachel.valentin@ffa.k12.de.us” <rachel.valentin@ffa.k12.de.us>; Patrick Gallucci <patrick.gallucci@fsmilitary.k12.de.us>; “felicia.wennell@Freirecharterschool.org” <felicia.wennell@Freirecharterschool.org>; “tim.griffiths@gls.k12.de.us” <tim.griffiths@gls.k12.de.us>; “kchilds@greatoakscharter.org” <kchilds@greatoakscharter.org>; “smaldonado@kuumba.k12.de.us” <smaldonado@kuumba.k12.de.us>; “courtney.fox@fsma.k12.de.us” <courtney.fox@fsma.k12.de.us>; Linda Jennings <linda.jennings@mot.k12.de.us>; Meece Gregory <gregory.meece@ncs.k12.de.us>; Nick Manolakos <nick.manolakos@odyssey.k12.de.us>; “ed.emmett@pocs.k12.de.us” <ed.emmett@pocs.k12.de.us>; “cordie.greenlea@pa.k12.de.us” <cordie.greenlea@pa.k12.de.us>; Chuck Taylor <chuck.taylor@pca.k12.de.us>; “patricia.oliphant@saas.k12.de.us” <patricia.oliphant@saas.k12.de.us>; “Salome.Thomas-EL@tecs.k12.de.us” <salome.thomas-el@tecs.k12.de.us>
Sunday, May 22, 2016 9:09 PM
Good evening Delaware Superintendents and Charter Chiefs,
The last time I wrote most of you in unison like this was in regards to parent opt out last year when some of you were giving parents a hard time about making a choice for their child.  Today I write to you in regards to data walls in some of your schools.  While I recognize this may not even apply to some of you, I felt it was fair to include everyone to make myself very clear.
Any data wall showing any type of progress by a child compared to others, whether in the classroom, outside of the classroom, in a hallway, in the school lobby, or on any type of system (including a computer system) where even students can see how they rate against their peers is morally and ethically wrong.  Some schools post the names of students and I have seen pictures of students on some.  This needs to stop, right here, right now.  Those of you who are participating in this: do you have any clue what that does to a child?  Especially the ones who rate the lowest all the time.  Do you know what that does to a child’s self-confidence?  You could be comparing someone with an iq of 75 iq to a person with an iq of 125.  In what possible way are any of you okay with this?  Not to mention the potential FERPA violations with some of these.
Therefore, I request that all Delaware public schools take down their data walls by this Thursday, May 26th.  If they aren’t down, I will file FERPA “The Data Walls Must Come Down”: My Email To All Delaware Superintendents & Charter Chiefs – Exceptional Delaware:

Why a social media fight between Campbell Brown and her critics matters - The Washington Post

Why a social media fight between Campbell Brown and her critics matters - The Washington Post:

Why a social media fight between Campbell Brown and her critics matters

Big Education Ape: Campbell Brown Has Blocked Me From Twitter | deutsch29 http://bit.ly/1WJPeNl


Another day, another fight in the education world. This one is worth delving into because it is really not about who said what but about fundamental understandings — and misunderstandings — of standardized testing data and how it drives policy.
This one started when education activist Campbell Brown said that two-thirds of U.S. eighth graders are below grade level in reading and math. Tom Loveless, a former Harvard professor and teacher who researches student achievement, then tweeted that he has never seen data showing that, and asked Brown to explain her sourcing. She said that she was referring to proficiency rates on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
NAEP, as the test is known, is sometimes referred to as “the nation’s report card” because it is seen as the most consistent measure of U.S. student achievement since the 1990s. It is administered every two years to groups of U.S. students in the fourth and eighth grades, and less frequently to high school students. When Loveless told her that NAEP proficiency scores do not refer to grade level, a social media fight ensued between Campbell and her critics.
In this post, Carol Burris, a former award-winning high school principal who got involved in the Twitter exchange, explains why the substance of this debate matters.
I asked Brown to comment about her statement that two out of three eighth graders cannot read or do math at grade level  and why she thinks NAEP proficiency means grade level. She said in an emailed response, which you can see in full below, that “if I were trying to be completely and utterly precise then I would have specified ‘grade-level proficiency,’ instead of ‘grade level’ in the context of NAEP score,” and that “any reasonable person or parent” would understand what she meant.
By Carol Burris
“Two out of three eighth graders in this country cannot read or do math at grade level. We are not preparing our kids for what the future holds.”
The above was the lead message that Slate used to introduce education activist Campbell Brown’s “advice for the next president” video that it posted.  The claim is false.
When Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit think tank in Washington D.C., asked Brown to retract her assertion, an angry, and sometimes amusing, series of Twitter posts and blogs began. Loveless is a former teacher and Harvard professor who is an expert on school reform and student achievement.
Brown’s resistance to correct the record and her dismissal of Loveless’ request is a story worth telling.  It speaks to the problems that arise when advocacy is demanded due to philanthropic funding of a news website, and it speaks to how rhetoric drives the reform agenda, while dismissing any critique as an attack.
Brown was a journalist for years with NBC News and an anchorwoman for CNN, and for a time, had her own series for CNN, entitled “No Bias, No Bull.” The show was canceled in 2010, and Brown reemerged in 2014 speaking out in favor of charter schools and against teacher tenure.
In July 2015, The Washington’s Post’s Paul Farhi reported that Brown was leading a new education news agency called the Seventy Four.  In his description of the new venture, Farhi questioned whether the Seventy Four reported news or advocacy.  He used as examples Brown’s Why a social media fight between Campbell Brown and her critics matters - The Washington Post:

Opt Out 2.0: Snapshot of Spring Testing Season - Education Writers Association

Opt Out 2.0: Snapshot of Spring Testing Season - Education Writers Association:

Opt Out 2.0: Snapshot of Spring Testing Season

With state testing season wrapping up, the decision by some families to skip the K-12 exams in protest this spring has once again sparked widespread discussion – and news coverage around the country.
In San Diego, for example, teachers handed out fliers to parents earlier this month informing them of the right to keep their children from taking state tests, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. A local teachers’ union official cited worries about the amount of testing, as well as its relevance and accuracy for gauging student learning.
In Tennessee, where the opt-out movement appeared to be gaining steam this spring, as reported by Chalkbeat Tennessee and other outlets, it became a moot point after the bulk of state testing for grades 3-8 was canceled altogether in April. That decision followed a series of problems with the administration of the assessments for English language arts and math.
The actions come as concerns have risen about the volume of standardized testing at the K-12 level, its perceived impact on instruction, and its use in evaluating schools, students and teachers.
It will likely be some time before the volume of students skipping state exams this year is clear, and whether the number is higher or lower than in spring 2015, when the issue hit the national education radar in a big way.
In the meantime, debates over the wisdom of having students skip the exams continue to rage.
“Many opt-out leaders see what they’re doing as an act of civil disobedience,” said Robert Schaeffer of the advocacy groupFairTest, during an Education Writers Association seminar in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Schaeffer, who has worked closely with opt-out activists around the country, cautioned that parents and others promoting the cause do not speak with a uniform voice, nor do their agendas necessarily align.
“The opt-out movement needs to be understood as not a top-down thing, but a genuine grassroots, bottom-up movement in which different people in different states have different agendas,” said Schaeffer. He sees opting out as a powerful strategy to build pressure to reduce testing, remove “high stakes” from assessments, and “create space for the development of new and better forms of assessment and accountability.”
Chris Stewart, the director of outreach and external affairs forOpt Out 2.0: Snapshot of Spring Testing Season - Education Writers Association:


Segregation — Racial, Ethnic, and Economic — Dominates Nation’s Schools | janresseger

Segregation — Racial, Ethnic, and Economic — Dominates Nation’s Schools | janresseger:

Segregation — Racial, Ethnic, and Economic — Dominates Nation’s Schools


Last week marked the 62nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education to end school segregation.  Coincidentally last week, a small school district in the Delta town of Cleveland, Mississippi that has held out for half a century to preserve separate schools for black and white students was ordered by a federal court to merge its segregated middle and high schools.  The court order ends what Jimmie Gates of the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger calls “a five-decade legal battle to desegregate schools in the 12,000-population city in north Mississippi.”  Ironically the court order to desegregate this small, Mississippi school district runs counter to what’s happening as the rest of the nation resegregates.
To recognize the anniversary of the Brown decision, researchers who have been tracking school segregation, desegregation, and resegregation for years at UCLA’s Civil Rights Project—Gary Orfield, Jongyeon Ee, Erica Frankenberg and Genevieve Siegel-Hawley—have publisheda research brief that tracks how the courts and and policy makers have turned away from efforts  to desegregate the nation’s public schools racially, ethnically, and economically.
According to the Civil Rights Project’s researchers, the most racially segregated states today are New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, and New Jersey.  They add: “The relative decline in the ranking of Michigan, which was often up with Illinois and New York as most segregated, probably relates to the drastic shrinkage of the Detroit Public Schools and suburbanization of black families in that metropolitan area.”
Today, the nation’s most populous and urban northern states post the highest rates of black-white school segregation, while the Brown decision was quite successful in integrating the schools across the South.  Why is that?  “Because of the dramatic changes in southern segregation produced by the enforcement of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, none of the 17 states that completely segregated schools by law (e.g., the type of mandatory segregation that was the focus of the Brown decision) have headed this list since 1970…. The ironic historic reality Segregation — Racial, Ethnic, and Economic — Dominates Nation’s Schools | janresseger:

The Plutocrat’s Lament | EduShyster

The Plutocrat’s Lament | EduShyster:

The Plutocrat’s Lament



Writer Joanne Barkan argues that for plutocrats like Bill Gates, democracy is a nuisance…
gates-billionaire.jpg (400×266)EduShyster: You’re the author of a recent case study on what you call Bill Gates’ *charitable plutocracy,* his years’ long, and many millions-ed campaign to bring charter schools to Washington State. In the interest of the data to which Gates himself is so committed, can you reduce your argument down to a series of numbers? Oh, and please speak in bullet points.
Joanne Barkan:
  • Number of years required to pass a charter school enabling law in Washington State: 17 (1995-2012).
  • Number of statewide ballot initiatives required: 4 (1996, 2000, 2004, and 2012).
  • Total dollars spent by charter school supporters in the 2000, 2004, and 2012 ballot initiatives: $18.7 million. (Practically no money was spent by either side in 1996.)
  • Total dollars spent by charter school opponents in the 2000, 2004, and 2012 ballot initiatives: $2.04 million.
  • Money spent by the Gates Foundation *to give public charter schools in Washington State a strong start* in 2013-2015: $31 million.
And a few other data points your readers might be interested in:
  • Net worth of Bill Gates in 2015: $76 billion
  • Assets of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2016: $44.3 billion.
  • Total receipts of the National Education Association in 2015: $388.8 million.
  • Total receipts of the American Federation of Teachers in 2015: $327.6 million.
  • Average salary of an elementary public school teacher in Washington state (except in special education) in 2015: $60,140.
EduShyster: One digit missing from the tally above is the number nine. That’s the The Plutocrat’s Lament | EduShyster:


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LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION

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