Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fifty Years Later. In Detroit the End of Brown: Separate and Unequal | educarenow

Fifty Years Later. In Detroit the End of Brown: Separate and Unequal | educarenow:



Fifty Years Later. In Detroit the End of Brown: Separate and Unequal

This  guest post, written by Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman, was originally printed in On the Edge, the Detroit Catholic Worker paper. (http://issuu.com/ontheedge-detroit/docs/ontheedge_winter2014_issuu/0). It offers a history of the loosening of Detroit Public Schools from democratically elected, publicly accountable local control.  Please read it while keeping two things in mind:  1.  Martin Luther King’s dictum, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 2. Wherever you are, this extraction of education from what we now refer to as “public” and for the common good is on its way to you.
The Detroit Public Schools are being dismantled by design and effectively looted. Though Detroiters and the elected school board are consistently blamed for their demise, for twelve of the last fifteen years DPS has been under state control.
Mother Helen Moore, an attorney who heads the Education Task Force has become notorious for her fight on behalf of the schools, and tells the story over and over in community meetings. It’s well documented.
When the Detroit schools were first taken over in 1999, enrollment was stable (at 200,000 students), test scores were middle range compared to state averages and rising, an “Afro-centric” curriculum developed by the district over a number of years was in use, there was a $93 million budget surplus, and $1.2 billion from a bond issue intended by residents for building improvements. It was the latter, not any financial emergency, which drew the takeover. Then Governor Engler was determined that those improvement dollars not go to local minority contractors, but to suburban and outstate builders. Follow the money.
When control was returned to the board seven years later, the fund deficit was $200 million, enrollment had dropped to 118,000, the curriculum was gone, as was the bond money spent at shamefully inflated prices. One hundred million simply disappeared without audit or indictment. This is the background of Fifty Years Later. In Detroit the End of Brown: Separate and Unequal | educarenow:

Public education advocate Diane Ravitch on testing, school choice and the teaching profession | AZEdNews

Public education advocate Diane Ravitch on testing, school choice and the teaching profession | AZEdNews:



Public education advocate Diane Ravitch on testing, school choice and the teaching profession



 Public education is a civic responsibility not a consumer good, said Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education at New York University, to a recent gathering of Arizona educators and school board members.

“Protecting our public schools against privatization and saving them for future generations of American children is the civil rights issue of our time,” said Ravitch, author of Reign of Error and 11 other books on education.
Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education at New York University, to a recent gathering of Arizona educators and school board members in Phoenix on Dec. 11, 2014.
Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education at New York University, to a recent gathering of Arizona educators and school board members in Phoenix on Dec. 11, 2014.
Ravitch served as assistant secretary of education at the U.S. Department of Education from 1991 to 1993, and was a member of the board overseeing the National Assessment of Educational Progress from 1997 to 2004. Once considered a critic of American public education, she is now considered a leading advocate.
“The purpose of education is not to race to higher test scores, but to prepare children for the responsibilities of citizenship” such as voting, serving on juries and making wise decisions about their lives and American society, Ravitch said.
“What matters most is that we have schools where students learn to think about the consequences of their actions, where they learn to treat other people with respect, where they learn how to live and work in a world of rapid change, and where they gain the knowledge and skills they need,” Ravitch said.
In her remarks, Ravitch countered claims about the standardized test scores of U.S. students, graduation rates, and the “dropout crisis.”
According to Ravitch, data shows that test scores are now the highest that they have ever been for all groups of children, graduation rates are the highest in American history, and dropout rates are the lowest ever.
“Reformers say our schools are failing, our schools are broken, our schools are obsolete,” Ravitch said. “And as I demonstrated in my last book, Reign of Error, using charts from the U.S. Department of Education, each of these claims is wrong.”
During her speech at the annual conference of the Arizona School Boards Association and Arizona School Administrators, Ravitch spoke about test scores, funding, charter schools and a variety of issues. Her appearance was co-sponsored by Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.
Test scores and funding
Ravitch questioned the “growing sense of panic” about U.S. public schools, which she said started with a 1983 report from the federal government called “A Nation at Risk,” Ravitch said.
“That report warned that our nation was falling behind the rest of the world because of our terrible schools, that our scores on international tests were embarrassingly low, that other nations were beating us economically – stealing our industries – and that we were in danger of losing our very identity as a nation,” Ravitch said.
“Yet 31 years later, the United States is indeed a world leader in technology, power, cultural innovations, democratic institutions, and military might,” Ravitch said. “We have surpassed all of those nations that seemed to be ahead of us in 1983 in test scores.”
She acknowledged that the U.S. public education system faces significant challenges, but criticized several legislative and policy efforts implemented to improve outcomes.
“The highest-performing nations spend more money on poor kids than rich kids. We don’t,” Ravitch said. “They have no charters. They have no vouchers. They have a respected education profession. No amateurs are allowed as teachers, principals, superintendents or state superintendents.”
Ravitch said she believes a shift in policy focus is needed.
“We know what makes good schools – caring and involved families, experienced and dedicated teachers and administrators, a responsible school board, a curriculum that includes not just the basic skills but arts,
- See more at: http://azednews.com/2014/12/17/diane-ravitch-on-test-scores-equity-charter-schools-and-the-teaching-profession/#sthash.7LN8Dcu4.dpuf


Chris Christie: School Bully | The Progressive

Chris Christie: School Bully | The Progressive:



     
Chris Christie excoriates a teacher in front of a crowd.

This story appears in the current issue of our magazine. Subscribe to read the full issue online. 
I will always remember the first time I saw Governor Chris Christie verbally abuse a teacher.
It was September of 2010, and it was becoming increasingly clear that New Jersey’s first-year governor was not the friend of public education he had pretended to be during his campaign. Christie had presented himself as a moderate Republican, in the mold of former Governor Tom Kean. This meant, for many, that Christie might still be a friend to the public schools, long considered one of the best statewide systems in the nation. 
But schools need money, and Christie was not about to raise taxes to make up for a severe and growing gap in education funding. To the contrary, in one of his first acts as governor, Christie refused to renew a “millionaire’s tax” on the state’s wealthiest citizens, making New Jersey’s fiscal problems even worse.
Lack of funds meant education spending had to be cut. In just his first year, Christie slashed state aid to schools by more than $1 billion. At the same time, he instituted a property tax cap that kept the wealthier suburban districts—his political base—from making up the difference with local revenues.
While many of his suburban constituents initially applauded this effort, the opening of the school year brought rumblings of discontent. New Jersey’s suburban schools are the crown jewels of the state, consistently producing results that are the envy of the nation. Now, thanks to Christie’s meddling, class sizes were increasing, extracurricular activities and electives were threatened, and student support services were being slashed.
New Jersey’s suburban voters pay big money to buy homes in towns where the schools are considered world-class; Christie’s cuts threatened their investment by degrading the education their children were receiving. It didn’t matter much to Christie’s political future that his budget cuts had hit the poorer cities, reliant on state aid, even harder; the people living there were never going to vote for him anyway. What really concerned the governor’s political apparatus was the possibility of losing the suburban soccer moms and dads who had put him in office in the first place.
What Chris Christie needed more than anything was a scapegoat. He couldn’t admit he had cut state aid so he could keep tax rates on the wealthy low and give more than $4 billion in subsidies to corporations. He had to make a case, instead, that school spending was out of control, and that he was forcing it back to reasonable levels.
And so, on that warm September day, in front of a sympathetic crowd at one of his highly scripted “town halls,” Christie fully committed to his war on teachers.
Christie had been battling with the teachers’ union for some time before. Abetted by a
- See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/12/187940/chris-christie-school-bully#sthash.kHLGppGR.dpuf

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

An Alternative To Suspension And Expulsion: 'Circle Up!' : NPR Ed : NPR

An Alternative To Suspension And Expulsion: 'Circle Up!' : NPR Ed : NPR:



An Alternative To Suspension And Expulsion: 'Circle Up!'



 A restorative justice circle at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif.


One by one, in a room just off the gym floor at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif., seventh-graders go on the interview hot seat.
Some 80 students have applied to be "peer leaders" in the school's new, alternative discipline program called "restorative justice."
Kyle McClerkins, the program's director, grills them on aspects of adolescent life: "What is the biggest challenge for middle school girls? What has changed about you from sixth grade to now?"
This school and the Oakland Unified School District are at the forefront of a new approach to school misconduct and discipline. Instead of suspending or expelling students who get into fights or act out, restorative justice seeks to resolve conflicts and build school community through talking and group dialogue.
Its proponents say it could be an answer to the cycle of disruption and suspension, especially in minority communities where expulsion rates are higher than in predominantly white schools.
Oakland Unified, one of California's largest districts, has been a national leader in expanding restorative justice. The district is one-third African-American and more than 70 percent low-income. The program was expanded after a federal civil rights agreement in 2012 to reduce school discipline inequity for African-American students.
At Edna Brewer Middle School, the fact that students are taking the lead — that so many want to be part of this effort — shows that it's starting to take root.
"Instead of throwing a punch, they're asking for a circle, they're backing off and asking to mediate it peacefully with words," says Ta-Biti Gibson, the school's restorative justice co-director. "And that's a great thing."
Last school year — the program's first year — Gibson says, kids weren't ready to talk things out. "Last year there was a lot of different conflicts, An Alternative To Suspension And Expulsion: 'Circle Up!' : NPR Ed : NPR:

2014’s Best and Worst Players in Public Education - Democrats For Public Education

2014’s Best and Worst Players in Public Education - Democrats For Public Education:





2014’s Best and Worst Players in Public Education

December 17, 2014 | Posted in:Articles, News


2014 saw the formation of a much-needed and long overdue new organization to advocate for public schools. Democrats for Public Education (DPE) was launched in June by Ted Strickland, former governor of Ohio, and political consultant Donna Brazile. U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin was soon named co-chair. According to the group’s mission statement, DPE believes every student should have “access to a strong and safe neighborhood school with well-prepared and supported teachers, deep and engaging curriculum and social services to meet their mental, social and physical needs.”  Their message is clear: public education is a fundamental civil right and schools cannot be improved by cutting funding and attacking the very profession that is charged with teaching our students.

Many charter schools funded better than public schools, website shows - Chronicle-Telegram

Many charter schools funded better than public schools, website shows - Chronicle-Telegram:



Many charter schools funded better than public schools, website shows

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The Ohio Charter School Accountability Project, a joint venture of the Ohio Education Association teachers’ union and Innovation Ohio, released figures of the study on the websiteknowyourcharter.com. It provides the number of students enrolled in charter schools in every district in Ohio, as well as the grades associated with those charter schools and funding they receive.
In addition to providing insight into the funds provided to charter schools, the figures also show that many of the charter schools received lower grades than their traditional public school counterparts.
According to information provided by Innovation Ohio, the average school district last year received $4,149 per pupil, which is $1,596 less than the $5,745 base amount paid to charter schools. Local school districts have to make up that $1,596 state funding shortfall through local revenue or reductions.
The state spends more than $900 million on the 122,019 students enrolled full-time in charter schools, with 511 of 613 public school districts receiving less money per pupil than charter schools do, according to information provided by the Lorain County Educational Services Center.
In Lorain County, 3,800 students are enrolled in charter schools and more than $29 million is spent on those students, with more than $4.2 million coming from local funds. Six of the county’s 14 districts, Avon, Avon Lake, Clearview, Columbia, North Ridgeville and Sheffield, pay more in local dollars to charters than is deducted from the state foundation on a per pupil funding basis.
Two local educators, Greg Ring and Jay Arbaugh, traveled to Columbus on Tuesday to talk about charter school funding at Innovation Ohio headquarters.
“Charter schools really divert local tax dollars away from local districts,” Arbaugh, superintendent of Keystone Schools, said during a phone interview after the meeting. “That’s certainly not the intent of the people who are paying the local taxes.”
Ring, superintendent of the Lorain County Educational Services Center, said a county survey regarding charter schools was conducted earlier this year and 62 percent of respondents said they were opposed to local tax dollars leaving their districts to support for-profit and other charter schools.
“We know there are local tax dollars leaving to follow students into their charter schools,” Ring said. “Our survey results showed people were resoundingly against that, because sometimes those dollars are going to for-profit institutions which generally have lower ratings.”
Ring said local school boards and administrations have no control over the situation.
“Most people don’t understand this and when they realize what’s happening, they have a problem with it,” Ring said. “I think people vote on local levies expecting that the money will stay in our school systems.”
Arbaugh, who said he is not opposed to parents having a choice of where they send their children to school, said the funding issue needs to be addressed, especially since local governments are facing more revenue challenges than they ever have.
“I’m all for choice and competition,” Arbaugh said. “But when students in my district are going to charter schools that have an average grade of a D or less, and local tax dollars are being funneled to those Many charter schools funded better than public schools, website shows - Chronicle-Telegram:

MY DINNER WITH DEASY : The Unseemly Schemes of UTLA POWER SLATE andLAUSD's Scandal Barron, John Deasy

HEMLOCK ON THE ROCKS: MY DINNER WITH DEASY : The Unseemly Schemes of UTLA POWER SLATE andLAUSD's Scandal Barron, John Deasy:



MY DINNER WITH DEASY : The Unseemly Schemes of UTLA POWER SLATE andLAUSD's Scandal Barron, John Deasy

Ladies and gentlemen,
I got this information from Ms. Cathy Brava where she indicates names and last names of  people who met with John Deasy. Let me now tell  you the whole story.
Just  before his death, Matt Taylor, stood up at the South Area Meeting and asked Ms. Ingrid Villeda, South Area Director, to explain a little more about the meeting she and other Board of Directors had with John Deasy, the LAUSD SUperintendent. Ms. Ingrid Villeda, as usually happens, began to talk  about a meeting she and others  previously had at the LAUSD headquarters with Deasy. She indicated that Deasy had directed  her and other teachers to meet with him to discuss the issue of problematic principals.  Immediately, Matt Taylor interrupted and clarified to Ms. Villeda that he was not asking about the meeting they had at the LAUSD headquarters, but the other meeting they had with Deasy  in a private restaurant.  Ms. Villeda  strongly refused to talk about the meeting and claimed the meeting never took place.

Then, Matt Taylor re-addressed  his question and asked Ms. Villeda  to explain the reasons  for her and other UTLA members, to meet with Mr. Deasy in a private restaurant without  Warren Fletcher being present.  Ms. Villeda ignored Mr. Taylor questions  and forced a different issue on the agenda. Mr. Taylor asked her again and again and Ms. Ingrid continued to avoid the issue. She repeatedly said that Matt was interrupting and she was not going to discuss any of that with him or anybody else. Frustrated for not getting any answer, Mr. Taylor  decided to leave the room. As Mr. Taylor walked toward the exit, a few teachers approached Mr. Taylor and asked him about the issue. He indicated that a group of UTLA Directors had met with Deasy secretly  and Ingrid  was part of it.
Later,  Mrs. Cathy Brava  published a document titled “The Animals Farm”, and also made public that John Deasy requested a secret meeting to discuss several issues that concerned the District.  She did not give specific  details but other sources have made  public that the meeting involved several members of the “Union Power” slate and other Board of Directors. For example, it is indicated that  the Union Power slate members who attended the meeting with Deasy were: Cecily Myart-Cruz, Colleen Schwab and Daniel Barnhart. From the other group were present: Jose Lara and Ingrid Villeda.
In later  postings, teachers  began to ask questions about  this issue. In response, Ms. Villeda accused these teachers of spreading venom, distrust and rumors that only hurt the union. However, It is not Ms. Villeda’s  duty, in any way, to take unilateral action to meet with Dr. Deasy  regardless of how frustrating it could have been for her and other teachers that Mr. Fletcher did not take actions that she and her friends would have expected.  Instead of meeting with Deasy secretly, she should have forced Trygstad and Schwab to do the job that they were getting paid  to do by our union members to represent our members.If there were legal problems, why didn't the UTLA lawyers meet with Deasy to discuss any legal  issues? 
It is crystal clear that the meeting they had with Deasy had a purpose. As we can now see, most of those who met with Deasy are now  office. Let's not forget that The Union Power members visited a large number of  schools  during working hours for 43 days HEMLOCK ON THE ROCKS: MY DINNER WITH DEASY : The Unseemly Schemes of UTLA POWER SLATE andLAUSD's Scandal Barron, John Deasy:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Video: Jeopardy Names a Category “Common Core Math” | deutsch29

Video: Jeopardy Names a Category “Common Core Math” | deutsch29:



 Video: Jeopardy Names a Category “Common Core Math”

December 16, 2014





In its kids version, the game show Jeopardy makes fun of Common Core math via its category name of mental math problems as captured in this one-minute video clip:










Too straightforward for the nonsense that is now widely recognized as “Common Core math.” Now, if the answer involved Alex Trebecq moving sticky notes and engaging in philosophical discussions of The Meaning of Math–and if the prepackaged math materials were riddled with errors– that would be “Common Core math.” Video: Jeopardy Names a Category “Common Core Math” | deutsch29:


Geaux Teacher!: Open Letter to Louisiana Legislature Joint Education Committee Members

Geaux Teacher!: Open Letter to Louisiana Legislature Joint Education Committee Members:



Open Letter to Louisiana Legislature Joint Education Committee Members




Ladies and Gentlemen:
 
The controversy is raging as to the procurement of our Common Assessment.  John White submits that the test will be the PARCC test although there is no contract with Pearson who has been awarded the PARCC contract signed by Sec. Hannah Skandera of the New Mexico Department of Education on behalf of all PARCC states.  States must individually enter into this  contract with Pearson to acquire their own test.
 
Supt. White has created an untenable situation by misrepresenting our state assessment as the PARCC test.  Teachers and students are preparing for the PARCC test using materials provided by PARCC online and the Department of Education.   Our state participated in the PARCC field test last spring (which was free).  Under the circumstances, there is no way that Louisiana can administer a faux PARCC test and consider the results to be reliable or valid.  
 
 
I am providing you with some information regarding the special interests and conflicts that Supt. White and others appear to have regarding the procurement of this test through Pearson, Inc.  First I offer the latest information regarding the latest legal problems facing Pearson that should factor into any decision to do business with that corporation and should prompt you to question the propriety and legality of Louisiana's proposed procurement of the PARCC test through another provider, Data Recognition Corporation.  Please open the links provided for supporting evidence. 

***********
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/pearson-education-can-run_b_6327566.html

Bad news for Pearson Education may be good news for the rest of us. The testing and publishing mega-giant is on the run, but it looks like it will not be able to hide. Pearson Education is closing its foundation; it is under investigation by the FBI for possible insider dealings in the Los Angeles iPad fiasco; the company is being sued by former employees for wrongful termination; and its PARCC exams are losing customers.

(A) Pearson's Foundation Closing

 Pearson has tried to give it a positive spin, but the reality is that Pearson the for-profit company is closing down its partner not-for-profit Pearson Foundation after having trouble with the law in both New York and California. In 2013, the Pearson Charitable Foundation paid $7.7 million in fines in New York State to reach an out-of-court settlement after the Office of the State Attorney General found the Foundation had broken state laws by generating business for the for-profit company.

According to the settlement agreement, "The Foundation's staff has consisted of Pearson employees; the Foundation's board was comprised entirely of Pearson executives until 2012; select Foundation programs have been conducted with the advice and participation of senior Pearson executives; and the Foundation continues to rely heavily upon Pearson Inc. for administrative support." While the Pearson Foundation neither admitted to nor denied the charges, it agreed to pay the fines.

In September 2014, Annie Gilbertson, education reporter for 88.3 KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, uncovered emails that appear to show complicity between officials in LAUSD, Pearson, the Pearson Foundation, representatives of Apple, and America Choice, a Pearson affiliate, to influence a LAUSD contract decision and circumvent the bidding process.

This was followed on November 18, 2014 by an announcement by the Pearson Charitable Foundation's Board of Directors of their "intent to cease Foundation operations and close the Pearson Foundation at the end of the year." They claimed that Pearson Education no longer needed "the Foundation as the primary vehicle for its philanthropic and community activities."

In an internal memo to Foundation employees that was passed along to me, Pearson promised to place many of them with other groups working on its projects and denied it was closing the Foundation "because it was unable to comply with the New York Attorney General settlement." It claimed that, "Over the last two years, Pearson has undertaken a review of all its business activities and investments, including its corporate responsibility activity. We feel strongly that there is significant potential to scale Pearson's social impact efforts by leveraging the full resources of our global operations, networks, and expertise." Maybe it is true; I just do not believe them, especially given the FBI investigation in Los Angeles.

(B) FBI Raid in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had seized twenty boxes of records about the LAUSD's $1.3 billion plan to provide iPads to every student and a federal grand jury is examining the matter. A Geaux Teacher!: Open Letter to Louisiana Legislature Joint Education Committee Members:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pearson Education Can Run, But It Cannot Hide | Alan Singer

Pearson Education Can Run, But It Cannot Hide | Alan Singer:



Pearson Education Can Run, But It Cannot Hide



Bad news for Pearson Education may be good news for the rest of us. The testing and publishing mega-giant is on the run, but it looks like it will not be able to hide. Pearson Education is closing its foundation; it is under investigation by the FBI for possible insider dealings in the Los Angeles iPad fiasco; the company is being sued by former employees for wrongful termination; and its PARCC exams are losing customers.
(A) Pearson's Foundation Closing 
Pearson has tried to give it a positive spin, but the reality is that Pearson the for-profit company is closing down its partner not-for-profit Pearson Foundation after having trouble with the law in both New York and California. In 2013, the Pearson Charitable Foundation paid $7.7 million in fines in New York State to reach an out-of-courtsettlement after the Office of the State Attorney General found the Foundation had broken state laws by generating business for the for-profit company. According to thesettlement agreement, "The Foundation's staff has consisted of Pearson employees; the Foundation's board was comprised entirely of Pearson executives until 2012; select Foundation programs have been conducted with the advice and participation of senior Pearson executives; and the Foundation continues to rely heavily upon Pearson Inc. for administrative support." While the Pearson Foundation neither admitted to nor denied the charges, it agreed to pay the fines.
In September 2014, Annie Gilbertson, education reporter for 88.3 KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, uncovered emails that appear to show complicity between officials in LAUSD, Pearson, the Pearson Foundation, representatives of Apple, and America Choice, a Pearson affiliate, to influence a LAUSD contract decision and circumvent the bidding process.
This was followed on November 18, 2014 by an announcement by the Pearson Charitable Foundation's Board of Directors of their "intent to cease Foundation operations and close the Pearson Foundation at the end of the year." They claimed that Pearson Education no longer needed "the Foundation as the primary vehicle for its philanthropic and community activities."
In an internal memo to Foundation employees that was passed along to me, Pearson promised to place many of them with other groups working on its projects and denied it was closing the Foundation "because it was unable to comply with the New York Attorney General settlement." It claimed that, "Over the last two years, Pearson has undertaken a review of all its business activities and investments, including its corporate responsibility activity. We feel strongly that there is significant potential to scale Pearson's social impact efforts by leveraging the full resources of our global operations, networks, and expertise." Maybe it is true; I just do not believe them, Pearson Education Can Run, But It Cannot Hide | Alan Singer:

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