Saturday, April 12, 2014

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Kim Cook, a first-grade teacher in Florida, received a bonus of $400. She donated it to the Network for Public Education to fight the failed ideas of corporate reform, which prevail in her state. She is the second teacher to donate their bonus to NPE to fight fake reforms that demean teachers and distort education. Not long ago, Kevin Strang, an instrumental music teacher from Florida, donated hi

The central feature of the Obama administration’s $5 billion “Race to the Top” program was sharply deconstructed and refuted last week by the American Statistical Association, one of the nation’s leading scholarly organizations. Spurred on by the administration’s combination of federal cash and mandates, most states are now using student test scores to rank and evaluate teachers. This method of ev

David Berliner on PISA and Poverty
Since there is always a lot of chatter about what international tests scores mean, I invited David Berliner to share his views. Berliner is one of our nation’s pre-eminent scholars of education.     Dear Diane,   A few weeks ago you asked me a question about recent PISA test results and the role that is played by poverty in the scores of the USA and other countries. As I understand it PISA doesn’t
EduShyster: What if the “Solution” Turns Out to be a Problem?
In this post on EduShyster’s always enlightening blog, goest blogger Sarah Lahm in Minneapolis examines one of the central claims of the Status Quo Reform crowd: They say that teachers should have no job protections so that it is easier to get rid of veterans (who are presumably burned out and lazy) and replace them with fresh-faced, inexperienced teachers whose expectations are supposed to produc
Advice for a Parent Confused about the Testing
A reader explains how the states’ demand for standardized testing may do harm to gifted children: “For highly gifted children, sometimes called highly sensitive children, who have high spatial intelligence, this testing is a nightmare. They will usually have signs of ADD or ADHD by 2nd or 3rd grade. That does not mean they have a disorder, but are just wired differently. They are the ones who will
Peter Greene: Do Not Eat That Poop Sandwich!
Peter Greene tries in this post to understand how “reformers” market bad ideas wrapped in good rhetoric. It is what he calls a “poop sandwich.” He thinks a bit more about grit, which everyone thinks is a good thing. But he recognizes that something else is being marketed and sold with an attractive wrapper. This is typical of what is deceptively called “reform” today. The privatizers couldn’t go t


Parents and Students Demonstrate Against Tests at Dozens of NYC Schools
Today, parents and students rallied against the state tests at dozens of schools across New York City, unassuaged by State Commissioner John King’s claims that the tests were better this year and consumed less than 1% of the year. Little children that had sat for three hours of reading tests did not take comfort in his words, and parents demanded transparency. “The protests, which drew hundreds o
Peabody (MA) School Committee Calls for Investigation of State Commissioner
The Peabody School Committee unanimously passed a resolution calling for an investigation of whether State Commissioner Mitchell Chester has a conflict of interest as national chairman of the PARCC governing board. Some people in the Bay State are still angry that school officials dropped the state’s successful standards and assessments in exchange for $75 million in Race to the Top funding. Some
If Washington State Loses Its Waiver, Then What?
Arne Duncan may withdraw the waiver he extended to Washington State because it failed to adopt a test-based teacher evaluation system, as he demanded. The first question is, what this will mean for Washington State, should Duncan withdraw the waiver? If the state reverts to the requirements of NCLB, then very likely every school and every district will be a “failing” school or district and theref
Teacher: Another Example of Common Core Madness
A teacher describes a new start up–open the link and see if you can find a teacher in the lineup of leaders–funded by Rupert Murdoch and aligned with the Common Core. Thar’s gold in them thar hills! She writes: “You probably know about this outfit already, but take a look at the team members of Teach Boost. Quite telling. I am enraged. (By the way, we are not K-12 educators. We teach at-risk yout
Peter Dreier: Why Is Public Television Against Public Schools? CORRECTION!
Peter Dreier, a professor at Occidental College and fervent advocate for public education, asks why public education continues to lavish so much favorable attention in the leaders of the privatization movement while disregarding dissenting voices or–worse–treating our nation’s public schools shabbily. He suggests that the Republican attack of public funding of PBS may have made the network depend
Michael Fiorillo: My Definition of an Ethical Charter School
In response to an earlier post, reader Michael Fiorillo offers his definition of an ethical charter school. Bear in mind as you read this, that the original charter concept was that it would be a school that took on the most difficult and challenging students, like dropouts, and had the freedom to try innovative ideas, then shared those ideas with the public schools. It was not supposed to have th
Paul Rosenberg: How Phony Scare Tactics Drive the Movement to Privatize Public Education
Paul Rosenberg writes on Salon about the well-honed Fox-News style tactic of “crying wolf,” “the sky is falling,” we are in an “unprecedented crisis” to achieve political ends, in the present case, the privatization and monetization of public education. In urban districts, the privatization is gobbling up public schools and turning them over to private corporations–both for-profit and non-profit.
Beardsley: More Evidence that VAM is a Sham
Audrey Amrein Beardsley has been studying William Sanders’ value-added assessment system for a decade or so, and she is no fan of his methodology. Here she explains why. William Sanders has argued that his methodology is not volatile, but Beardsley and other critics say otherwise. TVAAS or EVAAS is highly controversial, yet Arne Duncan praised it and claimed that Tennessee made great strides becau
Linda Darling-Hammond: Why the Status Quo Movement Has Nothing to Do with Civil Rights
The corporate style reformers–the cheerleaders for charters, vouchers-and high-stakes testing–like to claim that they are leading the civil rights movement of their day. They imagine themselves locked arm-in-arm with Martin Luther King, Jr., in their efforts to end collective bargaining rights, to eliminate teacher due process rights, and to privatize public education.   I am not sure if they actu
Sherm Koons: Down the Rabbit Hole with PARCC
Sherm Koons left this comment. Check out Sherm’s blog, Tales from the Classroom. He is a veteran high school English teacher in Ohio.   Down the Rabbit Hole with PARCC. It’s taken me a while to begin to wrap my head around what’s really going on with PARCC and what makes it so absolutely wrong, but standing in the hall after school today talking to some fellow teachers I think got a glimpse. As we
Lubienski Refutes Walmart-funded Voucher Advocates
Last year, Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski published a book called “The Public School Advantage,” which shows through careful scholarly research that public schools have inherent advantages over private schools, especially p charter schools and voucher schools. In doing so, they stirred up a hornet’s nest. In this post, Chris Lubienski responds to Patrick Wolf and Jay Greene of t
Robert Shepherd: The Remarkable But True Tale of the Birth of Common Core
Robert Shepherd, a frequent commenter on the blog, is an experienced veteran in the world of education publishing, having developed curriculum, textbooks, and assessments.     He writes:   The New York legislature just voted to dump inBloom. But Diane Ravitch’s first post about that subjected noted, wisely, that inBloom was dead “for Now.”   Don’t think for a moment that Big Data has been beaten.
What is an Ethical Charter School?
The blog known as “Better Living Through Mathematics” ponders the criteria of an ethical charter school. That would be a school that doesn’t kick other kids out of their school. And a school that enrolled the same proportion of students with disabilities and English learners as neighborhood public schools. That would be a school that has a fair discipline policy, suspending no more than neighbor

APR 10

Good Advice for Duncan and King from a Graduate Student at NYU
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and State Commissioner of Education John King spoke at the Wagner School at New York University. This comment came from a graduate student at that institution. Her insight was so on target that I thought I would share it. She writes: “I am an NYU Wagner graduate and a public school parent. I was unable to attend Commissioner King’s speech and Secretary Duncan’s
Why Brandeis Disinvited Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Withdrew Its Honorary Degree
How strange that a university founded by Jewish philanthropists would offer an honorary degree to a woman who fights for gender equality and then withdraw its offer because protestors said she was “Islamophobic.”       Here’s What I Would Have Said at Brandeis We need to make our universities temples not of dogmatic orthodoxy, but of truly critical thinking.     By AYAAN HIRSI ALI April 10, 2014 6
NYC Public School Parent Leaders Rally Against Governor Cuomo and Charter Favoritism
Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State  Legislature passed a budget bill that allows charters to have free space inside public schools, even though the charters are private corporations. Not only that, the charters that are already located inside public schools may expand as much as they want, pushing public school children out of their buildings. In some cases, the charters will push out
Commissioner John King’s Message to New York: I Won’t Back Down
State Commissioner  John King, with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan by his side, spoke this morning at New York University and sent a message to New York’s parents and educators: We are on the right track and we won’t back down! On the same day he spoke, elementary school principal Elizabeth Phillips published an op-ed article in the New York Times explaining that the state tests were too long
A Wacky Los Angeles Story: Who Needs Science Teachers?
A highly regarded high school science teacher at Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts was suspended in February because someone thought that his  students had created inappropriate projects that looked sort of like weapons. The teacher Gregg Schiller was suspended after two students turned in devices that could shoot small projectiles. Schiller reports daily to a district administrative o
Shhhh! New York’s Most Closely Guarded Secret
The deepest secret in New York used to be the disappearance of Judge Crater. Judge Crater disappeared one night in 1930 and was never heard from again. But now the state has an even deeper, darker, more consequential secret: what was on the Common Core tests. Principals and teachers have complained about the tests but they are under a strict gag order not to reveal their contents. In this post, Bi
New York Principal Explains Why the State Tests Were Terrible
Parents and teachers in New York are angry bout the state tests. There are protests and demonstrations taking place outside many schools. Last year, when the state gave the first Common Core tests, the scores plummeted. Only 31% of the students in grades 3-8 passed because the passing mark was set artificially high by State Commissioner John King, who sends how own children to a private Montessori
Kirabo Jackson: Teachers’ Effects on Non-Cognitive Skills Matter as Much or More than Test Scores
What if we have been looking for the wrong qualities in teachers? What if test scores matter no more than non-cognitive behaviors, skills, and learnings? Kirabo Jackson of Northwestern University has published a study showing that test scores may not be the most important measure of teaching. Consider the findings of this North Carolina study in 2012: This paper presents a model where teacher ef
You Too Can Score High-Stakes Tests as a Kelly Temp!
We previously learned that Pearson hires people to score tests by advertising on Craig’s List. Now we find that other testing companies are hiring test scorers through Kelly Temps. So you thought your child’s make-or-break test was scored by a retired teacher. Think again. The odds are that the written answers will be quickly skimmed and scored by someone with a BA working for just above the mini
Education Law Center: States with Most Unequal Funding Won RTTT Grants
The Education Law Center noted in 2012 that there was a pattern to the distribution of Race to the Top grants: The states and districts with the most unequal funding won a large share of RTTT grants. ELC writes: Since 2009, the US Department of Education’s (USDOE) Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative has given billions in federal funds to states conditioned on launching various education reforms. The
Forbes: Can Paul Tudor Jones Save America’s Public Schools?
When Mayor Bill de Blasio was being hammered by $5 million of emotional attack ads accusing him of “evicting” 194children from one of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy schools in Harlem, the Mayor called Paul Tudor Jones to plead for a truce. Paul Tudor Jones is a billionaire hedge fund manager who is heavily invested in privately-managed charter schools. He manages $13 billion in his business. Bei
Michigan: For-Profit Charter District Can’t Make Payroll
A few years ago, Michigan governor Rick Snyder decided that the best way to fix the financial problems of districts in deficit was to put them under the control of an emergency manager to straighten out their finances. Some districts, however, are so poor that they don’t have enough money to educate their children. It is the state’s duty to help them. In 2011, an emergency manager decided to give
Schneider Schools Sol Stern on the Common Core
Many years go, when I was a Fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, I got o know Sol Stern, who has been at that think tank for many years. Sol has an interesting history. Back in the radical 1960s, he was an editor at the leftwing Ramparts. At some point, he had a political-ideological conversion experience, and he became a zealous conservative. He is a journalist, not an educator. He wri
A Review of Some Top Charter Chains
Amanda Potterton of Arizona State University presented this paper at the recent annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Now that these charter chains are going national, it is a good time to review them. Potterton writes: Last November, I wrote a commentary published in Teachers College Record about two “highly performing” charter school management organizations (CMOs) in
Indiana: Low-Income Students Get Higher Test Scores in Public Schools Than in Charter Schools
In recent years, Indiana has gone overboard for charter schools, believing that they held the secret to raising the test scores of low-income students. But blogger Steve Hinnefeld analyzed the passing rates by income levels and discovered that public schools outperform charter schools in Indiana. He wrote: “I merged Department of Education spreadsheets with data on free and reduced-price lunch

APR 09

Politico: Duncan Backs Away from Common Core, Maybe
Stephanie Simon writes in that Arne Duncan is not really in favor of Common Core. Common what? Common who? Never heard of it. Ah, how soon politicians forget what they said last week, last month, last year. And they expect us to forget too. She writes: “COMMON CORE LOSES ITS BIGGEST CHEERLEADER: It was less than a year ago that Education Secretary Arne Duncan delivered a no-holds-bar
NYC Parent Rally Against Cuomo Charter Giveaway
Parent leaders from across Néw York City are rallying tomorrow at 4 pm to protest Governor Cuomo’s deal to give more space, more money, and free rent to the charters that enroll 6% of the children in the city’s schools. This giveaway to billionaire-funded charters occurs at the same time that many public are overcrowded, and class size is at its highest point in 15 years. BREAKING: Rally at NY P
Skeels Rebukes LA Times’ Klein for Late Awakening; I Disagree
Yesterday I gleefully reported that Karen Klein, who writes editorials about education for the Los Angeles Times, had opted her own daughter out of the state test. The Los Angeles Times has supported most aspects of what is called “reform ,” so I was glad to see that Klein had realized how the current overuse of testing had undermined the love of learning , not only for her child, but for all chil
Charter Students Used as Political Pawns in Illinois’ Legislative Battle
Charter schools regularly mobilize students and parents, put them on buses, and ship them to legislative hearings dressed in identical tee-shirts to lobby for more charter schools or more funding. This works to the benefit of the billionaire hedge fund managers who control these charters, as it expands their power to create even more racially segregated schools while boasting of their leadership i
NYC: Farina De-Emphasizes State Tests
In a big step forward for real school reform, Néw York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina announced that promotion would no longer be based in a single standardized test, but on multiple measures. This is a major change from the Bloomberg era, when test scores were the single most crucial determinant of whether students would be promoted or failed. Here is the announcement: CHANCELLOR FARIÑA A
Jersey Jazzman: Camden’s Disgraceful Exclusion of Special Education Students from Charters
Jersey Jazzman reports on Camden’s portfolio district plan. What does that mean? More charters. What is the secret of their success? Excluding children with disabilities. Excluding the kids with the highest needs. Doesn’t federal law prohibit this? Apparently this is not a priority for the U.S. Department of Education or the Obama administration. As hedge funders will sometimes acknowledge,
No $ for Newark Kids, But Lots of $$$ for Friends of Cami
Veteran journalist Bob Braun obtained a copy of Newark’s administrative payroll, and it is a shocker. Braun writes: “A third of Newark’s public school teachers face layoffs. The contracts of seven employee unions, including nurses, cafeteria workers, and laborers, have expired and the administration of state superintendent Cami Anderson refuses to settle. Counselors were laid off. Public schools
Brooklyn Teachers Saw the Common Core Tests, and They Say NO!
Parents are not allowed to see the Common Core tests. Teachers do see them. Here is what the teachers at PS 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, say about the tests. Dear Diane, WOOHOO! Don’t you feel we’ve reached a turning point? It is amazing to see all of the incredible acts of resistance bubbling up all over the country! Thank you, Michelle Kupper CEC 15 member Parent, PS 29 Brooklyn —- At PS 29 in
Ohio: Charters Keep Secrets Like….Who Runs Them, Where $$ Go
The mainstream press in Ohio is starting to take a closer look at charter schools, many of which are money pits for big donors to Governor John Kasich and the legislature. The Akron Beacon-Journal published a remarkable, three-part series on charters, looking closely at the peculiar financial operation of the for-profit White Hat management company. In this article, the reporter discovered that
John Thompson: Chetty and Kane Are Out of Touch with Real World
John Thompson, teacher and historian, here reviews the testimony in the Vergara trial of economists Raj Chetty and Tom Kane. They are believers in economic models for judging teacher quality. Thompson concludes they are seriously out of touch with the real world of teachers. Thompson reviews their testimony and writes: “Chetty, Kane, and other expert witnesses are assisting in an all-out assault
Anthony Cody on the False Promise of Standardization
Anthony Cody connects the dots. Bill Gates has invested more than $2 billion in promoting Common Core because he sees the need for a standard curriculum. When speaking to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Gates explained that the standard electrical plug in all 50 states facilitated innovation. Cody shows how the Common Core makes possible a standard platform for all kinds o
Am I a Bad Teacher?
Arne Duncan, Raj Chetty, Eric Hanushek, John King, Kevin Huffman, John White, and Michael Johnston, and the other evaluation hawks did not think about this teacher when they said full steam ahead on evaluating teachers by student scores: Beth writes: “As Diane points out, teachers are already, and always have been, evaluated. Here is the problem: I am a special education teacher in an alternativ
New Group, Affiliated with Rhee’s StudentsFirst, Defends Common Core in New York
You know Common Core is in deep trouble when Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst creates a group to rally round the cause of high expectations. Somehow this new organization pretends to be antagonists to the union but the teachers’ unions have been generally supportive of Common Core. The criticism of the state’s rushed rollout has been nearly universal. Exactly what the demonstrators are supporting is
Songer: Why Common Core Is Wrong about What Students Should Read
Gerri K. Songer maintains that the Common Core standards misunderstands how students learn to read. In a previous post, she demonstrated that the reading levels of PARCC were set so high and were so unrealistic that they would cause a very high failure rate. New Research on Text Complexity – CCSS vs. Sound Educational Practice By: Gerri K. Songer, Education Chair – Illinois Township High School D
Yong Zhao: How PISA Misleads the World
In this fourth installment in his series of posts criticizing PISA, Yong Zhao examines the claim that low-income children in China outperformed the children of professional in the rest of the developed world. He begins with the shock value of the headlines, which are guaranteed to stir nationalistic fervor: “China’s poorest beat our best pupils”—The Telegraph (UK), 2-17-2014 “Children of Shangha

APR 08

WOW! WOW! WOW! Los Angeles Times Education Editorial Writer Opts Out Her Daughter!
Karen Klein, who writes editorials for the Los Angeles Times about education (and other topics), told her 16-year-old daughter she could opt out. Like many other parents, Klein reached the breaking point where the tests didn’t make sense any more. After years of complying with the testing regime, she realized that this test was pointless. She even envied home-schoolers, who could take their child
Can Creativity Be Measured?
The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who think that the world can be divided into two kinds of people and those who don’t. No, let me try that again: those who think that everything that matters can be measured, and those who think that what matters most cannot be measured. Count me in the latter group. What matters most is love, friendship, family, imagination, joy….I see no reaso
How is Common Core Like a Drone Warship? Susan Ohanian Knows
Here is a chance to send readers to two very important blogs. Jonathan Pelto reprints Susan Ohanian’s post comparing the Common Core to a $5 billion fully automated warship. Ohanian sees the writing on the wall. She fears that the full package, once deployed, will strip teachers of any autonomy or professionalism. She notes the many professional organizations, including the unions, that have take
At Least 33,000 Students Opted Out of State Tests in New York State
Preliminary figures indicate that at least 33,000 students opted out of state tests in New York. This is a huge increase from last year, when only a few hundred students refused to take the tests. Given the growing criticism of the tests, which many teachers and principals say were “terrible” or developmentally inappropriate, the opt put movement will continue to grow. It is an awful burden to pla
Practice, Practice, Practice!
You may recall that when I went to AERA and shared a session with the wonderful, dynamic Helen Gym, she managed to pick her way carefully through the crowd that lined the wall of the room, while I managed to trip over someone’s foot and fell flat on my face. No harm done, the room was carpeted, and I landed gracefully in such a fashion that I was unhurt, indeed bounced up and proceeded to the podi
Parent in Nebraska: We Love Our School and State, But We Love Our Children More!
Jill Osler, a parent in Nebraska, wrote the following statement:   Parents Can Take a Stand Against Testing Almost one year ago, I wrote an editorial stating my belief that high-stakes standardized testing is not necessary for, and even detrimental to learning. Teachers feel pressure to spend large amounts of instructional time preparing students for Ne-SA tests—which robs students of authentic le
VAMboozled: Everything You Want to Know about VAM Research
I asked Audrey Amrein-Beardsley to compile a list of the most important VAM research.   Here are her recommendations for the top 13 research articles about Value-Added Measurement:   Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2008). Methodological concerns about the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS). Educational Researcher, 37(2), 65-75. doi: 10.3102/0013189X08316420. Amrein-Beardsley, A., & Collins,
Helen Gym: What It Means to be a Champion of Change
I previously commended Helen Gym for her activism as a parent advocate for public education in Philadelphia. She is on the honor roll as a hero and an exemplar. And, boy, Philadelphia needs her now! Philadelphia is Ground Zero for the fake reform movement. The fake reformers are well on their way to obliterating public education in that great American city and proud of it. With all the wealth and
EduShyster: “Fishin’ 4 Schools” Is For Sale
Jon Hage cashed in on the charter industry in a big way. And where else but Florida, where for-profit schools are welcome no matter what their quality. EduShyster tells the story here of Jon Hage, a non-educator who is one of Florida’s most successful charter entrepreneurs. “Have you ever encountered a story so sadly tragic that you were forced to break your own rule regarding pre-noon winebox d
Texas Superintendent Asks for Help in Stopping Failed VAM
This superintendent posted a request for help. I will be posting a summary of research on value-added-measurement later today. I think it is fair to say that while economists like VAM (they measure productivity), education researchers overwhelmingly oppose VAM because they know that most of the factors affecting test scores are beyond the control of the teacher.     I am a Superintendent in Texas
Update on United Opt Out Website
You may recall that the website of United Opt Out was hacked and taken down on the first day of state testing. It provides information to parents in every state on how to opt out. Here is the latest: Diane, I posted a fundraising account for the new website online this past Sunday. By the time I got home from work on Monday/yesterday we had raised the full amount – see here :) http://www.gofundme
Teacher: The Joy of Teaching Is Gone
A teacher in Syracuse writes, in response to comments by another teacher: Teaching has lost its joy and spontaneity. It has become “all work and no play, which makes Johnny a very dull boy.” (that goes for teachers too)! At least one third of the teachers in my elementary school are now looking for work outside the profession. My kinder class is doing literacy curriculum with imaginative play comp
Williams and Kilfoyle: Reformers, We Will Not Let You Steal Our Children, Our Schools, Our Democracy
Dr.Yohuru Williams and Maria Kilfoyle, NBCT, have a message for the corporate reformers: We will never surrender. They write: “Public education… is the cornerstone of democracy. It helps students acquire civic knowledge so that they can become participants in their democracy. It also requires students and communities to reflect on a continuous basis, through school board meetings, referendums an
MARCH for Public Schools This Thursday: NYC, 4 PM
Dear Public Education Supporter: The CEC/Citywide Working Group is a coalition of elected District and Citywide Education Councils across New York City. We – along with numerous other public school parent and pro public education groups including the Alliance for Quality Education, New York Communities for Change, Change the Stakes, Parent Voices and many others – will be convening a rally on the
Yong Zhao: PISA and Illusory Models of Excellence
Yong Zhao, who was born and educated in China, is a sharp critic of standardized testing. This article is the third in a series in which he criticizes PISA for misleading the world and promoting standardization and uniformity. In this article, he reviews the many critiques of PISA by testing expert in other actions. He writes: “From the start, the entire PISA enterprise has been designed to cap

APR 07

What Eva Won. Thanks, Billionaires!
Now that the New York state legislature has passed a law written specifically to permit Eva Moskowitz to expand her elementary school–presently co-located inside PS 149 in Harlem–into a middle school, students with disabilities will be removed from PS 149. No one knows yet where they will go, but the city has to find a place for them.   That $5 million ad campaign attacking Mayor Bill de Blasio wa
Top-Scoring NYC District Will Protest ELA Tests This Friday
District 2 in New York City–one of the city’s highest scoring districts–plans protests this Friday against the poor quality of the ELA tests given last week. State officials tried to dismiss concerns from other districts, specifically from Liz Phillips, a respected Brooklyn principal who wrote a letter to all the parents in her school saying the tests were.”terrible.” More than 500 parents and tea
Congratulations to Anthony Cody!
The Education Writers Assiciation awarded first prize to Anthony Cody for his series of posts questioning the Common Core. This is a recognition of Anthony’s excellent research and writing. In addition, it is a recognition that criticism of the Common Core exists among thoughtful and reflective educators. Anthony taught for more than 20 years in the high-poverty public schools of Oakland, Califo
BREAKING NEWS: Charters in Chicago Do Not Outperform Public Schools
A stunning article in the Chicago Sun-Times demonstrates that charter schools in Chicago do not get better results than public schools. Where differences exist, they are small. Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 neighborhood public schools, which will be replaced eventually by privately managed charter schools. But this article suggests that the results of the chaos and heartbreak in fragment
BREAKING NEWS: Kansas Eliminates Due Process for Teachers, Expands Privatization
Responding to the extremist group Americans for Prosperity, funded by the Koch brothers, the Kansas state legislature enacted legislation that strips teachers of due process and expands “school choice” (aka privatization of public schools and their funding). In the future, teachers may be fired without a hearing. The legislature used the pretext of a court ruling to equalize funding to enact prop
Federal Officials Warn Florida Not to Exempt More Students from Testing
Andrea Rediske is perplexed. After the death of her son Ethan, she thought the Florida legislature would pass a law named in his honor as “Ethan’s Law” to allow local school officials to grant waivers so that children like Ethan, in medical emergency, would not be required to take the state test. Then Pam Stewart, the state commissioner, accused Andrea of trying to advance her “political agenda,”
Chicago’s Noble Charters Are Ignoble
A reader sent a brief summary of a story in today’s Chicago Tribune. I was unable to read more than the first paragraph because it is behind a paywall. Anyone who wishes to supply greater detail about the story, please send your summary or details. I have read elsewhere that the chain collects hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines every year from poor families for minor infractions. This is t
Florida Politicians Dishonor Ethan’s Memory
Florida politicians have hearts of stone. When 12-year-old Ethan Rediske lay dying in hospice, the state wanted him to take a mandated test. After his death, his mother Andrea sought passage of a law to protect children like Ethan from harassment by state bureaucrats. Ethan’s Law would have allowed local officials to waive the testing requirement for severely impaired children, instead of seeking
Florida: League of Women Voters Finds Charters Do Not improve Achievement
A study of charter schools by the League of Women Voters in Florida found that they spend more on administration than public schools and they don’t get better academic results. “In Hillsborough, three charter schools that have opened since 2011 are owned by Charter Schools USA, a for-profit corporation, and these three alone enroll more than 20 percent of all charter students. In 2011, Woodmont C
Hoover, Alabama: “I Just Want to Teach”
I encountered this article on Twitter, and a reader was kind enough to forward it in the comments section.   I Just Want to Teach…..Not Give Useless Tests: The Current Plight of Alabama’s Hoover City School Teachers Part One: Changes in the Elementary Program by Deborah G. Camp, Ph.D   K-5 teachers at Hoover City Schools began the 2013-2014 with not only a classroom of new stu
Yong Zhao: The Secrets of China’s Success on PISA
In this post, Yong Zhao chastises Marc Tucker for admiring Chinese authoritarian education methods. Tucker, he says, praises China for its high standards and excellent exams, but he is wrong. This is part 2 of Yong Zhao’s critique of PISA. He calls this one “Gloryifying Educational Authoritarianism.”. His first was called “How Does PISA Put the Word At Risk? Romanticizing Misery.” The secret of C
What Do We Call Our Side? The Resistance
For the past decade or more, a bevy of very powerful people have savaged our nation’s public schools while calling themselves “reformers.” It is perfectly clear that they have no desire to “reform” our public schools but to privatize and monetize them. The Bush-Obama era of “measure and punish” has not reformed our public schools but has plunged them into unending disruption, demoralization, and u
A Message from a Teacher in Mexico
This comment came from a teacher in Mexico who read the post by a charter school teacher in a “no excuses” charter school. . She writes: “I am a kindergarten teacher in Mexico we belong to the so called third world and what you have described as a bad experience is what is happening here too. This kind of teaching has led us to a lack of values and a general violent citizenship. This is a wrong w
Why Are Ohio Charter Schools Different from Those in Other States?
Stephen Dyer, a former legislator, explains here why charters in Ohio are very different from those in some other states. The question he does not address is whether charters in other states operate as secretively and non-transparently as those in Ohio. Don’t expect to get an answer from the Obama administrations’ Department of Education, which loves the charter industry. We will have to wait for

APR 06

That Dumb, Dumb Portfolio Model, Not Right for Public Schools
Some districts, thinking that they have latched on to new thinking, have adopted the idea of a portfolio model. This means that they pretend that their community’s public schools are akin to a stock portfolio. They keep the winners and “dump the losers.” This is truly a dumb idea. It turns out that the “loser” schools are the ones serving the children with the highest needs, who get the lowest tes
Troubled North Carolina Charter School Collapses in Financial Mess
The North Carolina legislature recently voted to expand the number of deregulate, privately managed charter schools in the state. One that opened last fall, StudentFirst Academy in Charlotte, announced that it would close its doors on April 11, leaving nearly 300 students unprepared for state exams and scrambling to find a school. The school struggled financially almost from its first dy, when en
Breaking News: NC Court Freezes Voucher Plan
The News-Oberver in North Carolina reported that a court put a freeze on the voucher program passed by the legislature: “The state school voucher plan remains frozen after the N.C. Appeals Court this week rejected requests to lift a lower court’s injunction. “A Superior Court judge in February halted the new program that would have given parents up $4,200 in taxpayer money to help pay their child
Sara Stevenson Writes to the Wall Street Journal
Sara Stevenson, one of the heroes of this blog, reads the Wall Street Journal regularly, and she gets outraged every time the paper writes an editorial or publishe an article blasting public schools. That occurs frequently, as the WSJ supports privatization, not public schools. When Sara read an article by a charter teacher in his second year of teaching, she wrote the following letter. In what o
Georgia Parents Sue to Block Tax Credits for Religious Schools
Parents in Georgia sued to block a tax-credit program that has drained nearly $300 million from public schools since 2008. Meanwhile the public schools have had to absorb crippling budget cuts. “A controversial state program that offers tax credits to people who fund private school scholarships is unconstitutional and robs public schools of much-needed financial support, a lawsuit filed by Georgi
Cato: Obama Administration Plans to Make CCSS Permanent and Mandatory
I don’t often agree with the libertarian CATO Institute, as I am not a libertarian. I appreciate the necessity of a vigorous federal government that provides a safety net and protects the neediest. However, I don’t appreciate the federal government doing what is clearly illegal, that is, controlling, directing, and supervising curriculum and instruction via the Common Core standards. Although its
Phyllis Bush: Yes, There is Hope for Change in Indiana
Phyllis Bush, one of the founders of Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education, describes here the growing sense of hope among her fellow activists. Bush joined a contingent of colleagues in Austin for the first conference of the Network for Public Education. Bush is a member of the board of NPE. Everyone, she says, felt the energy in the room when hundreds of Resistance leaders gathered. S
Amy Prime Explains Why She Opted Her Children Out of State Tests in Iowa
Amy Prime is a parent and a teacher of second grade in Iowa. She is also a gifted writer.   Here she explains why she opted her children out of state testing, and she explains how to do it.   It is this simple:   “To Whom It May Concern: I am writing to inform you of my instruction to have my children opted out of any state testing for the 2013-2014 school year. “ If you live in the state of Iowa,
Good News: You Will Never Need to Think for Yourself Again!
Deborah Meier brought to my attention this series of workbooks that contain 180 days of Common Core worksheets in math and English. What a relief for anxious teachers! No more worrying about what to do. Here are the daily activities you need. No more planning or thinking. A standard a day keeps the evaluator away! Not only problems, but answers too! From: “Emily Self, Great Educators” Subject: 180
Testing in Texas: The True Story of a Professor, Angry Moms, and Legislators Who Listened
This is part 3 of Jeffrey Weiss’s series in the Dallas Morning News on the pushback against testing in Texas. In this article, the hero is a soft-spoken professor, Walter Stroup, who challenged the validity of Pearson’s tests. His doubts caught the attention of some legislators who were not wedded to the testing beast. Texas is where No Child Left Behind was generated and blossomed into a myth th
Why Must English Learners Take the State Tests in English?
This is a account written by Lindsay Allanbrook, a teacher in New York City. Last year, when the first Common Core tests were given, 97% of English language learners failed the test of English language. What is the point of testing these children in a language they have not mastered? She writes: State Tests and Our Newest Arrivals, by Lindsay Allanbrook It’s that time of year again, testing seaso

APR 05

Florida: A Charter Founder Who Has Raised $200 Million in Tax-Exempt Bonds
Let’s face it. Some people have the Midas touch. Take Jon Hage, the CEO of the for-profit charter chain, Charter Schools USA. He was named Floridian of the Year. He has a yacht named “Fishin’ for Schools.” And he has figured out a cool way to make his charters very profitable. This comes from Coach Bob Sikes in Florida: “This week’s hilarious story that Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage o
Dinner with Julian Vasquez Heilig Is More than Eats
As this post demonstrates, when you have dinner with Julian Vasquez Heilig, you dine with a very active and imaginative mind. There you are thinking of a stiff drink, and he is thinking of the Odyssey! You are blowing off steam about the latest outrage from Washington, and JVH is cogitating. You are comparing notes on how California and New York are dealing with federal pressure to conform and buc
David Sirota: Rahm’s Secret Slush Fund Rewards Friends, While He Cries Deficits
David Sirota, who has become one of our nation’s top investigative reporters, here tells the story about how Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel says there is no money, that public pensions have emptied the city’s coffers, and that he has to close schools because of a huge deficit. But Sirota says that the Mayor has found plenty of money for favored projects, funded by his “Tax Increment Financing distri
Peter Greene: Why Standardized Tests Are Meaningless
Our policy makers are in love with standardized tests. They can’t talk about education without talking test scores. If I could wave a magic wand, I would have every politician, every pundit, and every state commissioner take the 8th grade math test and publish their scores. Or take the PARCC test for 8th grade. If they did, the results would be interesting and there might be less complaining about
My Favorite Line from Arne Duncan: What is Yours?
For five years, I have listened to Arne Duncan lecture the American people about how terrible our public schools are.   He goes on at length about our ignorant students, our misguided parents, our ineffective teachers, our failing public schools.   In his eyes, we seem to be a nation of slackers, bums, ignoramuses, fools, and failures.   We know that he likes: charter schools, Teach for America, c
A Teacher Offers Sound Advice to Tom Friedman
John Ogozalek teaches in upstate Néw York. He read Tom Friedman’s column in the Néw York Times on Sunday and had a strong reaction of cognitive dissonance, as in, why can’t Tom be consistent? Tom Friedman’s describes a thrilling ride on a nuclear submarine, where there is no room for error. At one point, an admiral says, “There is no multiple-choice exam for running the sub’s nuclear reactor.” If
Andrea Gabor: Charters Are Harming Public Schools by Pushing Out Kids with Disabilities
Andrea Gabor, the Michael Bloomberg Professor of Journalism at Baruch College of the City University of New York, has an opinion article in today’s New York Times, where she patiently explains that charter schools enroll a smaller proportion of students with disabilities, causing the neighborhood public schools to have a larger proportion of the students with the highest needs than the charter sch
Michelle Rhee: Why Parents Must Never Opt Out (Unless Their Children Go to Private Schools)
I came across an article in the Washington Post by Michelle Rhee, in which she chastised parents who opted their children out of state tests. This article made me happy, because it shows that the Queen Bee of high-stakes testing is worried. She is worried that the opt out movement is gaining traction. She is worried that parents are sick of the Status Quo of the past dozen years. If parents opt ou
Kline and Miller Seek More Federal $$ for Charters
The charter schools are making the big money grab. Not content to have the full support of both ALEC and Obama, of hedge fund managers who control billions of dollars, of the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Dell Foundation, the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, and scores more foundations, they now seek additional federal funding. Having seen the havoc tha