Friday, September 20, 2013

How I teach 2.6 months more of math in a year than the rest of you slackers | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

How I teach 2.6 months more of math in a year than the rest of you slackers | Gary Rubinstein's Blog:

How I teach 2.6 months more of math in a year than the rest of you slackers

report was recently released which according to some TFA defenders “settles the issue” about the effectiveness of Teach For America teachers.  By comparing the standardized test scores of TFA teachers with varying amounts of experience to non-TFA teachers teaching in the same buildings, the study concludes that the students of TFA secondary math teachers progress an amazing 2.6 months more than their non-TFA counterparts.  In the introduction to the paper they describe this as follows:
TFA teachers were more effective than the teachers with whom they were compared. On average, students assigned to TFA teachers scored 0.07 standard deviations higher on end-of-year math assessments than students assigned to comparison teachers, a statistically significant difference. This impact is equivalent to an additional 2.6 months of school for the average student nationwide.
As you might expect, this conclusion was celebrated throughout Twitter.
As a TFA secondary math teacher myself, I was torn about how I felt about this.  I mean, I knew that I was good, but I didn’t realize that I was that good.  Then my humility set in and I had to admit to myself that this study’s conclusion was pretty outrageous and merited a closer look.  And though others, particularly Jersey Jazzman and Julian Vasquez Helig, have examined different aspects of this report and there will surely be others who delve into it more deeply, I will focus on one aspect which easily demonstrates how absurd and really irresponsible this claim is.
The issue I wanted to investigate most is how they came up with the number 2.6 months.  When a student takes some kind of standardized tests, lets say it has fifty questions, their score is some kind of raw score, like 24 correct out of 50.  It isn’t measure in ‘months.’  So there must 

All eyes on pre-k when Arne Duncan and U.S. business leaders... | Get Schooled |

All eyes on pre-k when Arne Duncan and U.S. business leaders... | Get Schooled |

All eyes on pre-k when Arne Duncan and U.S. business leaders converge here Monday 

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President Barack Obama uses a spy glass to play with a young girl at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center during a visit to Decatur Schools earlier this year. On Monday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will attend a conference where the value of pre-k will again be highlighted. JOHNNY CRAWFORD / JCRAWFORD@AJC.COM
Stephanie Blank is the chairman of the board of directors of GEEARS, the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students. Carol Tome is the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Corporate Services of The Home Depot. 
They wrote this guest column to highlight Monday's 2013 National Business Leader Summit in Atlanta where U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will discuss the importance of investment in early learning to strengthen the economy and global competitiveness. 
 The summit, hosted by ReadyNation-America’s Promise Alliance and the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS), will bring together business executives and public officials to discuss support for early learning to build the nation’s workforce and strengthen the economy. 
  By Stephanie Blank and Carol Tome
Having been involved with the home improvement industry for many years, we have learned that there is most certainly a right way to construct a building. And the part you don’t see – the foundation – is actually the most critical in ensuring a home that is solid, level and without structural defects.
The exact same thing can be said about building a prepared student who is ready for success in 

Choosing Democracy: Reign of Error- Ravitch 2

Choosing Democracy: Reign of Error- Ravitch 2:

Reign of Error- Ravitch 2

reign of errorDefinitely go out and buy Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to Americas Public Schools by Diane Ravitch, which just been launched with proper publicity. She is a phenomenal woman—sending out a half-dozen e-mails a day, two books in the last decade, and traveling to speak throughout the USA. And…while she’s younger than me, she’s old enough to have rested on her laurels. Maybe it helps to change your mind, because my exhaustion comes (in part) from feeling it’s all been said before (including by me).
Reign of Error lays out step by step the relentless thirty year drive to either centralize the education of the young—on one hand—or divest it entirely into privatized hands on the other. Finally, the two sides have joined forces on a strategy that simultaneously does both. While this coalition has many old roots, in its current form it began with the fanfare around the publication of A Nation at Risk (1983). Ravitch was, at that time, a supporter of this bold statement that more or less accused America’s teachers and school boards of a plot to undermine American health and welfare of the international scene. We were, said the signers, at risk of becoming a second rate nation if we didn’t take this crisis seriously. I asked my colleague on the NBPTS, AFT leader Al Shanker, why he had signed on. He said it was a good strategy because only in a crisis is the nation willing to put the money into schooling needed to make it really first-rate. He said—as I recall (paraphrased), ‘It’s true our schools are not as bad as the report suggests, but we are entering a new period and they either have to change dramatically or what the report accuses them of will become true. We need a smarter citizenry.’
The trouble is that crying “wolf” has never been a great way to make sensible policy. Sometimes there is no choice (like Pearl Harbor). But the 

For District Leaders Considering Adopting the New Orleans “Miracle” Model | deutsch29

For District Leaders Considering Adopting the New Orleans “Miracle” Model | deutsch29:

For District Leaders Considering Adopting the New Orleans “Miracle” Model

September 20, 2013

New Orleans’ Recovery School District (RSD) is being promoted nationwide as a model of corporate reform “turnaround.”  Thus, numerous legislatures, superintendents and school boards across the country are facing the question of whether or not to emulate RSD.
In this post, I address school officials who are tempted to believe and adopt the RSD “miracle.”  RSD success is a lie.  I have written extensively on the RSD façade. All of my posts are well documented; I am a trained researcher, and I know the value of supporting my assertions with evidence. I realize that elected and appointed officials also need documentation to support critical education decisions.  Read my work. You will be well informed.
As for the state-run schools in New Orleans: There is no miracle. The show is being staged.
Jindal et. al Are Selling an Image
In this post, I examine several points worthy of serious consideration by those with the power to hand their districts over to the New Orleans veneer of reform.  The first issue concerns Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s ability to sell an illusion. As Louisiana blogger Cenlamar observes regarding Louisiana’s failed voucher program:
Even though Jindal’s voucher school program has lost all credibility in Louisiana, it could still appeal nationally, as a concept, because while Bobby Jindal may not be 

Virtual Book Club by United Opt-Out: Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch | Reclaim Reform

Virtual Book Club by United Opt-Out: Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch | Reclaim Reform:

Virtual Book Club by United Opt-Out: Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch

Join the Virtual Book Club discussing Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.
V-Book-Club Reign of Error
Go HERE to see what’s what and please feel free to take part. Participate or observe. Learn and decide what you wish to do to help your child and your school. UNITED OPT OUT NATIONAL: the Movement to End Corporate Education Reform created this forum under the expert leadership and oversight of Peggy Richardson.
It is also available on Facebook at OPT OUT OF THE STATE TEST HERE.
This is a unique opportunity to widen your perspective about the realities of high stakes testing and more. Readers from all over the USA are involved. Take part, now!

Robert Reich asks Bill Moyers: ‘When do you reach a point where inequality is simply too much?’ | The Raw Story

Robert Reich asks Bill Moyers: ‘When do you reach a point where inequality is simply too much?’ | The Raw Story:

Robert Reich asks Bill Moyers: ‘When do you reach a point where inequality is simply too much?’

By Arturo Garcia
Friday, September 20, 2013 19:34 EDT
Robert Reich and Bill Moyers discuss financial inequality []
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Economist Robert Reich found himself slightly agreeing with former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum in an interview with Bill Moyers, arguing that while he doesn’t support “equality of results,” the problem with the U.S. financial system is a lack of equality when it comes to opportunity.
“The question is not inequality, per se,” Reich told Moyers on Friday. “The question is, at what point do you tip over, do you get to a tipping point where the degree of inequality actually is threatening your economy, your society, your democracy? When do you reach a point where inequality is simply too much? Where most of your people feel like the game is rigged.”
Reich told Moyers that when the country’s tax laws are weighed in favor of the wealthy, that 

8 issues Obama should address at the Congressional Black Caucus conference — MSNBC

8 issues Obama should address at the Congressional Black Caucus conference — MSNBC:

In major cities across the country, including Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia, school districts are shuttering public schools in mostly African-American communities. Thousands of black and Latino youth are being forced from their neighborhood schools, often into unfamiliar or unwelcoming neighborhoods. Chicago closed 50 schools this year and 88% of the affected students were black. In Philadelphia, 23 schools were closed and 81% of those students affected were black. In both cities, 93% or more of the young people affected were low-income students. Opponents of the closures believe the school closings are an attack on public education, teachers unions and minority students. What ever happened to Obama’s Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans?

8 issues Obama should address at the Congressional Black Caucus conference

Women speak with an employment recruiter at the "Beyond the Dream" job fair at the  Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn on August 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Women speak with an employment recruiter at the “Beyond the Dream” job fair at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn on August 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama will join members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other political heavyweights at the group’s annual Phoenix Awards Dinner during its legislative conference in Washington, DC on Saturday. Obama, the dinner’s keynote speaker, made waves during the same event in 2011 at the height of the CBC’s demands that Obama do more about the economic woes of African-Americans, when he told the group to “stop complaining” and get to work with him.
But those were the bad old days of Obama’s first term, when black members of Congress echoed the frustration and disappointment of their constituents, in districts that bore the brunt of  the economic crisis. Obama’s second term has offered an opportunity for the president and the CBC to get back on the good foot.
The president’s responses to the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman–his articulation of African-Americans’ pain–recast the community’s perception of Obama as  tone-deaf and absent on black cultural issues.
Still, the economic forecast for blacks remains dismal. And a range of other issues affecting 

John Thompson: GAO and Elaine Weiss Converge on Harsh Appraisal of Race to the Top - Living in Dialogue - Education Week Teacher

John Thompson: GAO and Elaine Weiss Converge on Harsh Appraisal of Race to the Top - Living in Dialogue - Education Week Teacher:

John Thompson: GAO and Elaine Weiss Converge on Harsh Appraisal of Race to the Top

Guest post by John Thompson.

Elaine Weiss' "Mismatches in Race to the Top Limit Education Improvement" and the General Accounting Office's (GAO's) "Race to the Top: States Implementing Teacher and Principal Evaluation Systems Despite Challenges" make a fine set of bookends for the considerable evidence documenting the problems with the RttT. In the sections that deal with the experimental evaluation systems that were imposed on teachers and principals, an objective and careful reader would be hard pressed to tell from the evidence presented whether it was Weiss or the GAO who was explaining the RttT's mistakes. After all, their basic methodology, of reviewing the written record and interviewing state, local, and federal officials, was the same. Weiss simply supplemented those resources with the work of a far greater number of scholars and journalists. 

For instance, it was the GAO, not Weiss, who presented this indictment of the RttT's intrusion into teacher evaluation, 
Officials in 11 (of 12) states said teacher concerns about the scale of change, such as the use of student academic growth data and consequences attached to evaluations, challenged state

solidaridad: Solidarity picket for Mexican teachers today 9/20/2013

solidaridad: Solidarity picket for Mexican teachers today 9/20/2013:

Solidarity picket for Mexican teachers today 9/20/2013

Common Core State Standards CCSS represent the corporate sector's latest attempts to privatize education and cash in on harmful standardized testing
Please join the Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education in a picket of the Mexican Consulate, 

to protest the repression of the Mexican teachers and attempts to privatize public education in Mexico.
Where: The Consulate is at 2401 W 6th St., at the NW corner of McArthur Park.

There is a Metro stop at Westlake/MacArthur Park Station on both the Red and Purple lines.

When: Friday (9/20) -- 3:30-5:30 pm
Please put the word out to all appropriate lists and activists, and tell your colleagues!
(See some suggested slogans at end of this letter)

Just as the government here has been pushing for a so-called reform of public education, which will
ultimately allow corporations to turn education into a business, the Mexican teachers and students
face the same attack only much more extreme.  The Mexican government has actually CHANGED 
* use standardized tests to determine if teachers can be hired or maintain their
* cut federal funding of the schools so that local schools and communities have to find their own
   sources of money- opening the schools up to private entities
*use standardized test to  evaluate all students, which will have the most negative impact on the poorest
  states which also have the largest number of indigenous students who often do not even speak Spanish.

The teachers of CNTE (the democratic alternative to SNTE, the corrupt national teachers union,  are on strike
in Oaxaca, Guerrero and Michoacan and have been marching and protesting in 25 of Mexico's 31 states and in Mexico City.  
CNTE members in the multi-state occupation of the Zocalo were violently removed by federal police on Sept. 14th and have been
attacked in other states.  CNTE members have regrouped in the capital and have been joined by students from UNAM 
and  other universities who voted for a 2-day boycott of their classes.  Other citizens have joined with them as well, especially
in the face of the governments plan to open up Pemex, Mexico's national oil company to privatization.
Protests are occurring at Mexican consulates and  embassies in a number of countries and here in New York City.
Letters of solidarity can be sent to: 
Coalicion Trinacional en Defensa de la Educación Publica- Mexico  The Mexican section do the Trinational will translate
them if necessary & circulate them in Mexico. 

Letters of protest can be sent to: 
Presidente Constitucional de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Secretario de Estado
Secretaria de Educación Pública

                   MEXICO -  USA

*              MEXICAN TEACHERS

                 IT'S A HUMAN RIGHT


In solidarity,
Rosemary Lee * Marc Rich
for Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education-USA

What's happening with class size? | Philadelphia Public School Notebook

What's happening with class size? | Philadelphia Public School Notebook:

What's happening with class size?

by Dale Mezzacappa on Sep 20 2013 Posted in Latest news

Two weeks into a school year unlike any other, with severe cutbacks in teachers and other personnel in schools, the District is about to start its process of "leveling," or reassigning teachers based on where the students are.
According to District officials, fears of huge class sizes have not materialized.
They say that they have budgeted enough money to deploy 50 additional teachers around the District to reduce class size and eliminate split grades. So far, they say, they have deployed 26 of those -- meaning that they still have money set aside to recall or hire an additional 24.
Spokesman Fernando Gallard said that he had no information on where the 26 teachers were assigned.
He also said the District would not release information on class size until after the leveling is completed. He said that the goal is to get all classes below the limits in the recently expired teachers' contract -- 30 in grades K-3 and 33 in grades 4-12.
The District started the year with about 100 split classes, in which students from different grades are taught together in order to save money on teachers. But there is as yet no information on how many of these remain.
While there have been anecdotal stories of classrooms lacking enough desks, chairs and materials, the District has yet to provide an general accounting of conditions in the schools, although Gallard said that officials are tracking them.
Is there a split grade or an oversized classroom in your school? Let us know by commenting on this story or emailing

Saying goodbye to 24 Philadelphia schools
Last December, Superintendent William Hite announced plans to close or relocate 44 Philadelphia schools at the end of the school year. At most of the schools, parents, teachers, students, and other community members were outraged by the plan. Rallies to save the schools ensued, and the District dropped a dozen schools from the list; four others were spared by the School Reform Commission. But a m
Notes from the news, Sept. 20
Analyzing the role of charter school funding in the District's budget problems. Notebook New, school-friendly tax-abatement plan in works. Inquirer South Philadelphia nonprofit creates pop-up libraries for students. CBS Philly ASPIRA: We respect the rights of our employees to vote to unionize. Notebook Boy sought help from the top in changing schools. Inquirer What Philly-area schools serve for lu


Analyzing the role of charter school funding in the District's budget problems
School Reform Commission member Joseph Dworetzky sent the following observations and analysis of charter funding in response to a story on the District's budget gap that appears in the Notebook's latest issue on "Schools in Crisis."  by Joseph A. Dworetzky I wanted to compliment you on the piece you wrote about the budget gap. Despite all the complexity, I thought that you did a great
ASPIRA: We respect the rights of our employees to vote to unionize
This is a response to the commentary "ASPIRA teachers must be free to speak out," which was published here on Sept. 6. by Fred Ramirez The Olney Charter School Board received the right to operate Olney Charter High School two years ago. Before that, the school was failing. The facilities had significantly deteriorated. Students were not being prepared for their future and, many times, t
When students with dreams or traumas seek counseling, the office is often empty
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks In the halls of any public school in Philadelphia and behind each classroom door, you're bound to meet students brimming with the stress and strain of life in a big city. At South Philadelphia High School, 11th grader Amber Holmes dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon and getting out of a neighborhood where, she says, people live by looking over their shoulders — worrie
Notes from the news, Sept. 19
​When Philly students with dreams or traumas seek counseling, the office is often empty. NewsWorks Walton Family Foundation gives generous grant to PSP for city schools. Inquirer Teacher to Corbett, Nutter: Try my job for an hour. Inquirer Will Phila. be the graveyard of public education? Inquirer Activists ask Aspira: where's the $3.3 million? City Paper Two Near-Opposite Views for Fixing Philade

SEP 18

State unveils new rating system for schools
Pennsylvania is moving to a new school performance rating system that replaces the much-criticized AYP, or Adequate Yearly Progress, with a more complex evaluation that includes student proficiency in science and writing as well as reading and math. Barring unforeseen problems, test scores and other academic indicators for each school in the state --  charters and cyber charters included -- will b
Questions and answers about the District’s budget gap
Author:  by Paul Socolar Author Bio:  Contact Notebook editor Paul Socolar at How did the School District get into such a financial mess? The $304 million budget gap announced last winter didn’t happen overnight. In fact, the District has faced budget crises almost annually for decades. The fundamental issue is that Philadelphia is a vast district, responsible fo
Education scholar Diane Ravitch critiques charters, standardized tests in Philly
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks Diane Ravitch, a New York University education professor, was once a passionate champion of charter schools and standardized testing. She has since done a 180-degree turn, becoming a nationally known critic of pro-competition reform. read more
Notes from the news, Sept. 18
Pew poll: Most Philly residents give public schools poor grade. NewsWorks New poll: Phila. residents give schools bad grades. Inquirer Residents give school district bad grades in Pew poll. Daily News Philly blames Corbett and Nutter, not teachers, for schools crisis. City Paper Study Says Philadelphians Think Poorly of its Public Schools. NBC 10 A smooth opening or slow-brewing disaster? Notebook