Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Charter Schools' Katrina Memory Hole

Charter Schools' Katrina Memory Hole:

CHARTER SCHOOLS' KATRINA MEMORY HOLE

Pre-Katrina New Orleans graduation numbers are charter school advocates' exhibit A for reform. One problem: the U.S. and Louisiana Departments of Education say they don't exist.




We’ve heard the narrative so many times we know it by heart. "Results-based" charter schools "turned around" a "broken education system" using "accountability" and "data" to "rescue" it from the clutches of "failed school boards" and the dreaded teachers' unions. No city in America better illustrating this trope than Katrina-ravaged New Orleans; with its clear before and after division of charter and "traditional" eras, it was the A-B tested anecdote the pundit classes loved to cite. It's no surprise then that when seeking a statistic to support this axiom as part of the recently revitalized debate on charter schools, otherwise careful media outlets like the Christian Science Monitorthe Atlantic and Vox.com cited, without question, NOLA.com's 2013 claim that the graduation rate for New Orleans improved from 54.4% in 2004 to 77.8 in 2012.

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After all, it was vaguely consistent with concurrent media reports, namely the 2013 60 Minutes New Orleans "Turn Around School" infomercial by Scott Pelley.
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This stat said it all - a roughly 50% increase in high school graduations from before to after Katrina. Liberal, conservative, whatever - the data was in. Serious People™ knew charter schools got results. There’s only one problem:

PRE-KATRINA GRADUATION RATES FOR NEW ORLEANS DON'T EXIST.

The reality is that no one - including the journalist who first cited the figure - knows where the pre-Katrina graduation statistic came from. Official government figures on New Orleans graduation rates from both state and federal Department of Education sources are nonexistent, lost either in the wake of Katrina or at some point during the many incarnations of Louisiana's Department of Education. In this post I attempt to trace the origins of this trope, how it spread unquestioned, and why a dystopian vision of pre-Katrina New Orleans is so essential to the broader "school reform" value proposition.

BEFORE THE FALL

A thought experiment:
Imagine, for a moment, that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had said five years after 9/11:
"I think the best thing that happened to the defense system in New York and Washington was 9/11. That defense system was a disaster, and it took 9/11 to wake up the community to say that 'we have to do better’.”
We would rightfully find this crude and opportunistic. But in 2010 when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said
“I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that 'we have to do better'."
the media either shrugged it off or embraced its thesis. The political and moral rot of the New Orleans education system pre-Katrina wasn't just taken for granted - our political classes saw it as so manifestly depraved and corrupt that it validated the deaths of 1,833 people. Such is the hysteria with which conventional wisdom cements itself. Like a tale out of an Ayn Rand variation of Genesis, the story of Katrina wasn't one of nature's caprice or racism's legacy, it was instead the fortunate and righteous correction of liberal excess. And though graduation rates are not the only Charter Schools' Katrina Memory Hole:

Tweetable: Friedman on Think Tanks | deutsch29

Tweetable: Friedman on Think Tanks | deutsch29:

Tweetable: Friedman on Think Tanks




I am not on Twitter. I don’t have the time for it. But if I were on Twitter, I would tweet the excerpt below from a 1995 interview with “father of school choice,” economist Milton Friedman.
I would tweet it not because I endorse Friedman’s ideas on school choice and what translates into the reckless bankrupting of American public education, but because what he says is funny.
In this excerpt, Friedman is observing to free-market publication Reason magazine senior editor Brian Doherty that the number of free market publications and organizations has grown. Friedman’s words start out as complimentary, but then Friedman keeps going:
Friedman:  But look at the situation today. You have REASON magazine, you have Liberty magazine. You’ve got all of this stuff that spouts out from the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a half dozen other think tanks. In fact, I think there are too damn many think tanks now.
Doherty: Why do you say there are too many?
Friedman: You don’t have the talent for it.
Too many think tanks; not enough talent to staff them.
Now that’s funny.
______________________________________________

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has her second book available on pre-order, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, due for publication June 12, 2015.

both books

It is summer, and I am working on my third book, this one on school choice (e.g., vouchers, charter schools). (For those who might be concerned that I do not know how enjoy summer, I also lounge in the pool almost daily and intentionally schedule visits with friends so that I do not become a crazy, book-writing hermit crab.)

The late economist Milton Friedman is considered to be the “father of school choice,” and so, I am including information on Friedman my school choice book.

While working on my chapter on Friedman, I came across a 1995 interview that Friedman did with An Interesting Statement by Milton Friedman

The tough tests facing New York’s new state education commissioner - The Washington Post

The tough tests facing New York’s new state education commissioner - The Washington Post:

The tough tests facing New York’s new state education commissioner






Last month,  New York tapped a new state education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia. She is the 2015 Florida Superintendent of the Year who led the public schools in Hillsborough County for a decade before she was fired by the school board this past January with more than two years left on her contract.
Her firing surprised many people because Elia, a former teacher, had a good deal of support in Florida, not only from the Republican political and business establishment but also from the Florida Education Association, a teachers union, whose president, Andy Ford, said in a statement after she was hired in New York that she worked “to bring people together” and toward a “positive, proactive agenda.” He said: “New York will be lucky to have MaryEllen.”
Yet the Hillsborough board majority, which officially fired her without cause, had been on record as criticizing her, among other things, how she dealt with the panel, constituent complaints about too much high-stakes standardized testing, and a lack of services for special-needs students.
There has also been criticism about some of the reform policies she instituted in Hillsborough, which are analyzed in this post by Carol Burris, an award-winning principal in New York. Burris suggests how Elia can close divisions in the state’s education world that have resulted from the controversial implementation of the Common Core and Core-aligned tests under former commissioner John King. He quit last December after N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed unhappiness with him over botched Core implementation. Now King is managing the U.S. Education Department’s operations as a senior adviser to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Burris, of South Side High School in the Rockville Centre School District,  was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and was tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She has also written several books, numerous articles and posts on this blog about New York’s troubled implementation of school reform.
By Carol Burris
On May 26, the New York Board of Regents unexpectedly assembled in Albany to vote on a single item–the appointment of MaryEllen Elia as the new education commissioner of New York State. With the transparency of a papal selection, the vote was taken and then her name was announced, prompting New Yorkers to ask, “who?”
MaryEllen Elia was not an unknown for long. Internet sleuths shared newspaper articles, videos and tweets about the policies and practices of the woman who will be New York’s new education chief. She helped. She quickly The tough tests facing New York’s new state education commissioner - The Washington Post:

LAUSD RELAXES GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS- FAIRNESS OR MORE PREMEDITATED FRAUD? - Perdaily.com

LAUSD RELAXES GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS- FAIRNESS OR MORE PREMEDITATED FRAUD? - Perdaily.com:

LAUSD RELAXES GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS- FAIRNESS OR MORE PREMEDITATED FRAUD?



A-G requirements.jpeg


(Mensaje se repite en Español)



Rather than address its longstanding failure to educate students in a timely age-sensitive manner, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has now voted to further degrade the value of a high school diploma by letting students pass an A-G college requirement course with a "D". LAUSD itself has created this regrettable situation by continuing for what is now generations to socially promotion students, whether or not they have objectively met a course's standards, so that now when they take these higher skills A-G college prep courses, too many do not have the underlying basic language and math skills necessary to do passing work.

Serious remediation at an early enough age would have made habitual social promotion and predictable failure unnecessary. But now the LAUSD board has taken the counterintuitive step of further degrading the value of a high school diploma by no longer requiring at least a "C" average in the A-G requirements courses that are necessary to be considered for admission to colleges and universities in California and elsewhere. One might say that rather than once and for all fixing this longstanding and purposefully failed public education system, they have decided to "fix" the public education system by eliminating any objective standard of what is acceptable work.

If anybody had bothered to look, student predictable failure would have been easy to identify and deal with in a timely manner. With 75% of new students to junior colleges in California taking remedial and not college level classes, it should have been obvious- to anybody who bothered to look- that the high school diplomas and California High School Exit Exams (CAHSEE) these students supposedly passed were achieved were not worth the paper they were written on. But it seems that the American press has lost the ability to report the truth to hold powerful people accountable, if it ruffles the feathers of corporate interests- especially those interests seeking the privatization of public education for profit- that is if they want to keep their jobs.

LAUSD administrators are part of a culture that for generations has shown that it knows everything about LAUSD RELAXES GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS- FAIRNESS OR MORE PREMEDITATED FRAUD? - Perdaily.com:

“Sociopath” was too small a word for a Feudal Lord | Reclaim Reform

“Sociopath” was too small a word for a Feudal Lord | Reclaim Reform:

“Sociopath” was too small a word for a Feudal Lord

Incredibly, some people felt that “sociopath” was a mere prejudicial term to describe the billionaire (a-few-dollars-short-of-being-a-billionare) governor who is now attempting to purchase an entire new legislature of his own, thus combining personal money and power to tax supported money and power. Power he himself would control in one part of America. That would make Bruce Rauner a Feudal Lord.
rauner sociopath 1a
The governor of the State of Illinois would transform government to his own advantage and to the advantage of his billionaire buddies and corporate cohorts. Legally, but not morally.
This nightmare scenario is not “just another conspiracy theory.” It is a conspiracy of wealth and power to transform and control Illinois. Needless to say, since it is in process in one state, it will in all likelihood be attempted in other states.
The following are excerpts from the full superb article by Sacha Feinman in Think Progress.
“To have individuals first get elected and then govern with wealth is a new development in our system,” said Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and current president and general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center.
“In the past, there were people like the Rockefellers that used their fortune for campaigns, but, as far as I know, once they were elected, they acted as other officials did and worked within the system rather than using their wealth to create a new political base.”
In Rauner and his network, the United States may have the first-of-its-kind and ultimate incarnation of a major political coalition that wields the bulk of its might from the unencumbered spending permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision and subsequent 
“Sociopath” was too small a word for a Feudal Lord | Reclaim Reform:





NYC Educator: UFT DA Not Ready to Vote No Confidence in Reformy MaryEllen Elia

NYC Educator: UFT DA Not Ready to Vote No Confidence in Reformy MaryEllen Elia:

UFT DA Not Ready to Vote No Confidence in Reformy MaryEllen Elia





President’s report

Mulgrew thanks DA for our work (but notably, does not offer us cake). Says we have implemented contract but not far enough. Says we had no idea Cuomo would become nemesis. Makes me wonder why he chooses to disregard those of us who recognized this eight years ago.

National

AFT has started process on presidential election next year. Pension cuts are threatened throughout country. Concerns about how US Supreme Court may rule. Says our enemies are really bad and evil, have cut revenue via tax systems. Boasts of surplus in NY because we fought back austerity measures. Speaks of other locals with huge increases to health care.  

Says it’s tough to get things done because DC is very focused on upcoming Presidential election, that many want to take, I suppose Hillary, down. 

State


NYSED—we will have a new evaluation system next November 15th, maybe. Waiver application may be available for one year only. Believes by next September there will be another system. Says when we have momentum we will make system better. 

Stresses it was important to get this out of governor’s hands and to NYSED. Says that is our strategy. Ridicules choice of November 15th to enact evaluation system. Screams about it repeatedly. 

Mentions tuition tax credit and charter cap still face us and thanks those helping us. Mentions tax credit is now tied to rent control. Says the well-being, shelter and safety of 2 million people is tied to a tax credit for billionaires. Says we have informed people about it but questions why he did it. Says it will cost teachers $300 to get promised $200 tax credit, and that only very rich will be able to take advantage of it. 

Says 13 million has been spent to raise charter cap and push tax credit. Says charter push is to destabilize public education. Says now presidential candidates will openly say charters are an attempt to privatize education. 

Local

Mayor pushing for mayoral control, but public is not receptive. Mulgrew says Bloomberg has tainted mayoral control. Says UFT supports mayoral control with checks and balances. Gets scattered applause. Speaks of our support for rent control. 

Chapter leader survey—Says we need more info to determine whether contract is being implemented. Says he may get more people to schools to help build chapters. 

Renewal schools—Says it’s tough but better than school closures. Says no member is mandated to work extra time, but it is available for pay. Says we need to make those schools work to prove we know “how to fix failing schools.” Speaks also of “out of time” schools that don’t need NYC Educator: UFT DA Not Ready to Vote No Confidence in Reformy MaryEllen Elia:


Special Nite Cap: Catch Up on Today's Post 6/10/15



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