Monday, July 22, 2019

Cynthia Liu: California’s Strong Charter Accountability Bills Weakened by the Governor—Why? - Progressive.org

California’s Strong Charter Accountability Bills Weakened by the Governor—Why? - Progressive.org

California’s Strong Charter Accountability Bills Weakened by the Governor—Why?
A grassroots effort to close charter loopholes made its way to the State Assembly, just to be undermined by the state’s highest office.






Two 2019 teacher strikes in California capped a series of walkouts in 2018 for better student learning conditions, crucial student mental and physical health and college readiness supports, and increased funding to school facilities and teachers.

The grassroots have spoken. We see it in the tens of thousands who rallied in support of charter accountability, in picket lines at hundreds of individual schools in Oakland and Los Angeles, in public comments offered in Sacramento at state legislative committee meetings, in petitions to lawmakers, in resolutions from the California Democratic Party to support a charter moratorium, and that public funds be prioritized for public schools with public oversight.



We also see it in the election of candidates who oppose the charter lobby, including Governor Gavin Newsom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, and Los Angeles Unified School Board member Jackie Goldberg. We see it in school board resolutions calling for a statewide moratorium on charters and charter school accountability, and in numerous unanimously agreed-upon CONTINUE READING: California’s Strong Charter Accountability Bills Weakened by the Governor—Why? - Progressive.org


Jersey Jazzman: How Student "Creaming" Works

Jersey Jazzman: How Student "Creaming" Works

How Student "Creaming" Works



There is, as usual, so much wrong in this Star-Ledger editorial on Camden's schools that it will probably take several posts for me to correct all of its mistakes. But there's one assertion, right at the very top, that folks have been making recently about Newark's schools that needs to be corrected immediately:


Last year, for the first time ever, the low-income, mostly minority kids in Newark charter schools beat the state’s average scores in reading and math in grades 3-8 – incredible, given the far more affluent pool of kids they were competing against.
This is yet another example, like previous ones, of a talking point that is factually correct but utterly meaningless for evaluating the effectiveness of education policies like charter schooling. It betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of test scores and student characteristics, which keeps the people who make statements like this from having to answer the questions that really matter.

The question in this case is: Do "successful" urban charter schools get their higher test scores, at least in part, by "creaming" students?

Creaming has become a central issue in the whole debate about the effectiveness of charters. A school "creams" when it enrolls students who are more likely to get higher scores on tests due to their personal characteristics and/or their backgrounds. The fact that Newark's charter schools enroll, as a group, fewer students with special education needs -- particularly high-cost needs -- and many fewer students who are English language learners CONTINUE READING:
 Jersey Jazzman: How Student "Creaming" Works


CURMUDGUCATION: What Killed Lesson Planning?

CURMUDGUCATION: What Killed Lesson Planning?

What Killed Lesson Planning?

Are lesson plans a big fat waste of time? Well, yes, and no. But is something currently killing them? Sadly, yes.

Why Lesson Planning Is Invaluable

I read this piece arguing against them and kind of dismissed it and forgot about it until Nancy Flanagan brought the subject up again (Do you follow Nancy Flanagan regularly? You should). As usual, I agree with most everything she said in defense of lesson planning-- but I think there's another factor that can make lesson plans a waste of blood, sweat and tears. 

The original piece is, well, bunk. In its six reasons, it starts with the obvious (lesson plans are often works of fiction) and escalates quickly (lesson plans ruin teacher morale and chase people out of the profession). Somewhere in the middle it makes the real argument (they take a bunch of time and I don't wanna). 

Flanagan talks about how writing lesson plans helped her refine her practice, and that was my experience as well-- it helped me find focus with what I actually wanted to do. 

And I have a confession to make-- I often assigned lesson planning for my student teachers, and while writing a lesson plan is proof of good teaching, being unable (or, in one case, unwilling) to write a coherent lesson plan at all has always been a giant billowing red flag. 

Part of the value in lesson planning is the requirement to focus on specifics. Neo-teachers were sometimes much too obsessed with the big picture, leading to this conversation:

Me: So what are you planning to do tomorrow?

Ms. McNewbie: We're going to read the poem and then discuss it and in so doing, make the world CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: What Killed Lesson Planning?

2019 Medley #12: Reading | Live Long and Prosper

2019 Medley #12: Reading | Live Long and Prosper

2019 Medley #12: Reading

What is reading? Is it more than decoding? Is it only comprehension? Reading Hall of Fame member Richard Allington has a nuanced discussion about it here.
When should we teach reading? Do four-year-olds need “reading instruction? Five-year-olds? High achieving Finland doesn’t teach five- or six-year-olds to read…unless the teacher determines that they’re ready. In the U.S. it’s one-size-fits-all in kindergarten (aka the new first grade).
When children have trouble reading at age nine or younger, what should we do? Do we remediate them? Or do we retain them in grade for another year?
READING WARS REDUX
The “Reading Wars” have ignited again. We start with an article from Australia which divides us into two simplistic sides — a pro-phonics tribe and an anti-phonics tribe. While attempting to sound unbiased the author assumes we all know that “science” is on the side of the pro-phonics tribe and it’s only those foolish “regular educators; teachers and educationists in schools” who refuse to see that systematic phonics is the “only way.”
I taught reading for 35 years and always included phonics even when I was using the “whole language” method of Reading Recovery. The difference is how you use phonics instruction.
Over time, as the scientific evidence in favour of the efficacy of phonics instruction became overwhelming, the whole language movement CONTINUE READING: 2019 Medley #12: Reading | Live Long and Prosper

MetWest High School Story (Part 4) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

MetWest High School Story (Part 4) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

MetWest High School Story (Part 4)

Big Picture Learning schools have as part of their design “Authentic Assessment.” It means that “[s]tudents are assessed not by tests, but by public displays of learning that track growth and progress in the student’s area of interest. Assessment criteria are individualized to the student and the real world standards of a project. Students present multiple exhibitions each year and discuss their learning growth with staff, parents, peers, and mentors.”
At MetWest, “authentic assessment” is the Senior Thesis Project and the end-of-the-year Exhibition. I sat in one student-driven Senior Thesis Project Defense. Here I what I observed in March 2019.
As in other Big Picture schools, all MetWest 12th graders must do a Senior Thesis Project (STP). [i]
Seniors present their projects to a group of teacher/advisors, administrators, and staff who judge the worth of the presentation and determine whether student has passed or not. Each Defense has to include an action project linked to their research and anchored in social justice. Each student gets three chances to pass. Most often the STP is anchored in the student’s Learning Through Internship (LTI). Passing the STP prepares seniors for their final Exhibition, usually on the same subject, before an audience of students, teachers, family, and invited guests.
Each STP has a format in which the student prepares his or her slides to the jury of teachers. Each project has to have a question, a way of answering the question, the theory behind an answer, gathering evidence, analysis of data presented, and a conclusion. It is a format familiar in college and graduate work. MetWest CONTINUE READING: MetWest High School Story (Part 4) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Charter school management full of schemers and scams. Kentucky should avoid them. | Lexington Herald Leader

Charter school management in other states if full of schemers and scams Kentucky should avoid them | Lexington Herald Leader

Charter school management full of schemers and scams. Kentucky should avoid them.

In 2016, Jeff Yass, the billionaire founder of a Pennsylvania global trading company donated $100,000 to a political action committee called Kentuckians for Strong Leadership.
The PAC, according to its website, is dedicated to preserving the political fortunes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and in 2016, ensuring Republican victory in the Kentucky House.
All kinds of people donate to McConnell, of course, but Yass is interesting because he’s most well known for his passionate advocacy of charter schools and vouchers, including a plan torevolutionize the Philadelphia schools with school choice (as well as cutting teacher pay and benefits).
Yass, along with his business partners, Joel Greenberg and Arthur Dantchik, are major players in political circles in Pennsylvania, donating to pro-school choice candidates. He obviously thought $100,000 was a good investment here, and while it might be pocket change to him, it’s a pretty big donation by Kentucky standards.
I bring this up because in the past two or three years of incessant discussion about charter schools, and Kentucky’s legislation to approve them, we’ve heard a lot about the pros and cons of charter schools, but we haven’t heard that much about what other states have discovered: the vast potential that charter school management has for making money off public tax dollars.
Our charter school legislation, passed in 2017, allows interested parties to start nonprofit charter schools. Less discussed is that the law also allows for-profit management companies to operate them. This is the model around the country, and it’s caused plenty of problems. ProPublica has also detailed numerous examples of management companies that make millions because they rent space and equipment to charter schools, with little oversight or competitive bidding. One of the most famous examples is a huge investigation of self-dealing among charter operators in Arizona by the Arizona Republic. Google “charter management companies” and you can find example after example of lax oversight and missing money.
Last year, in fact, none other than that well-known left wing rag, Forbes Magazine, published an article “How to Profit From Your NonProfit Charter School.”
“Charter schools, whether nominally for-profit or nonprofit, face the same basic problem,” notes CONTINUE READING: Charter school management in other states if full of schemers and scams Kentucky should avoid them | Lexington Herald Leader

Opinions harden amid Epic investigation

Opinions harden amid Epic investigation

Opinions harden amid Epic investigation

Over the past several years the Epic Charter Schools system has become one of the most disruptive forces in Oklahoma education, quickly growing into the state’s largest virtual school that critics say operates in the shadows of the law, while supporters see an alternative education model bringing necessary change to the status quo.




Those differing opinions hardened this week when The Oklahoman reported the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation alleged the school had falsified enrollment records and paid several families, schools and learning centers to dual-enroll children who were home-schooled or attended private and sectarian schools, and that the school's leaders had embezzled millions.


Epic, which has 23,000 students enrolled, is a public charter school that receives state education funding for each student enrolled. There is no cost to students to attend.

This week, Epic officials denied the allegations and said the OSBI investigation was simply a response from an education community frustrated with change.

“This latest attack comes at a time when our growth makes status quo education lobbying groups uncomfortable,” said Shelly Hickman, assistant superintendent of communications at Epic.

Epic has also used a similar rebuttal to recent media coverage.

Following an article this month by Oklahoma Watch spotlighting questionable enrollment CONTINUE READING: Opinions harden amid Epic investigation



Related content

OSBI warrant: 'Ghost students' at EpicStitt, Hofmeister call for audit of EpicDocument: View Stitt's audit requestDocument: View the OSBI search warrantOklahoma state senator questions Epic blended center fundingState lawmakers request studies into virtual schoolsEpic far above state average for students dropped after absencesEx-Epic teachers tell of pressure to manipulate enrollment



The Country’s Largest Charter School Expands into a Construction Zone

The Country’s Largest Charter School Expands into a Construction Zone

The Country’s Largest Charter School Expands into a Construction Zone
Planning: A basic management function involving formulation of one or more detailed plans to achieve optimum balance of needs or demands with the available resources. The planning process (1) identifies the goals or objectives to be achieved, (2) formulates strategies to achieve them, (3) arranges or creates the means required, and (4) implements, directs, and monitors all steps in their proper sequence.– BusinessDictionary
As the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) prepared to consider a Material Revision that would authorize Granada Hills Charter High School to expand to a TK-12 program, it was noted that they were proposing placing the 1,425 Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through eighth-grade students in a facility that previously held 448 students. The Charter School Division (CSD) responded that “GHCHS has provided Certificates of Occupancy…that verify the Devonshire site has a maximum occupancy of 1,523.” The district’s regulators were also asked if the existing buildings would be replaced before the proposed expansion took place, but the CSD left out an answer in their response.
Over the objection of LAUSD Board Member Scott Schmerelson, the LAUSD School Board authorized Granada’s Expansion, which will make this one school larger than 86% of all school districtsnationwide. The first students in the new program will start classes CONTINUE READING: The Country’s Largest Charter School Expands into a Construction Zone

Lesson Plans and Other Problematic Tools of Teaching | Teacher in a strange land

Lesson Plans and Other Problematic Tools of Teaching | Teacher in a strange land

Lesson Plans and Other Problematic Tools of Teaching


Once, back in the early days of teacher blogging, I was part of a cadre of ‘recognized’ educators (I know—the term makes me cringe, too), who were pumping out blogs for a national magazine making the transition to an online format. We were posting every two days, because our editor was a little manic about fresh content as key to increased traffic.
What this meant was that I was writing feverishly, coordinating topics with my fellow teacher-writers so that we didn’t all write about the same thing. There was little responding to current policy issues or op-eds popping up on critical national questions. Instead, there was a whole lot of generic, one-in-the-can education writing.
What I remember was that after a year, the editor evaluated our personal relevance via tracking the most-read blog topics. The number one draw? A blog about faculty meetings. Seriously.
Evidently, teachers wanted to read about their ordinary, daily practice. The ultimate tinkering around the edges, pedestrian things that get griped about in the faculty lounge.  This hasn’t changed—my FB and Twitter feeds have been overrun last week by a piece on a recent Hechinger Report entitled ‘Does Lunch Have to Be 45 Minutes?’
This preference for the prosaic bubbles up in mid-summer when the school supplies displays appear (and scary teacher dreams return). Teaching is one of those professions where satisfaction and mastery of the work depends heavily on accruing and curating a wide array of craft knowledge. Good teachers really do have strong opinions on staff meetings and optimum lunch breaks. They matter.
In my building, having your lunch time attached to your planning period–some 90 continuous discretionary minutes–was highly coveted, something given to 20-year CONTINUE READING: Lesson Plans and Other Problematic Tools of Teaching | Teacher in a strange land

Should all teachers be certified? Charter school leaders say no… | Eclectablog

Should all teachers be certified? Charter school leaders say no… | Eclectablog

Should all teachers be certified? Charter school leaders say no…

“I wouldn’t want to be the one that tells Gov. Jerry Brown that he can’t teach a government class because he would otherwise have to go back to college,” said Myrna Castrej√≥n, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association.
I would.
Because Jerry Brown is in no way qualified, prepared, certified, or remotely capable of being a teacher.
Would Gov. Brown know how to write a lesson plan?
Would Gov. Brown know what to do with 30 second graders when that lesson plan goes down in flames?
Would Gov. Brown know how to make an assessment plan for his middle school choir?
Would Gov. Brown know how to run an IEP meeting?
Would Gov. Brown know what an IEP, or a 504 plan is, or how they are different?
Would Gov. Brown know how to run a parent-teacher conference?
Would Gov. Brown know how to get his 29 kindergarten students down to the cafegymnatorium for the band concert, seated quietly in their assigned spots on the floor, and back to class without losing one or more kids?
Would Gov. Brown know how to teach a science lesson with no lab equipment, textbooks, or CONTINUE READING: Should all teachers be certified? Charter school leaders say no… | Eclectablog

St. Paul: Will a Historic Church Be Razed to Make Room for a Segregated White Charter School? | Diane Ravitch's blog

St. Paul: Will a Historic Church Be Razed to Make Room for a Segregated White Charter School? | Diane Ravitch's blog

St. Paul: Will a Historic Church Be Razed to Make Room for a Segregated White Charter School?


The church in question is St. Andrew’s. Built in 1927 in the Romanesque Revival style, the brown brick church boasts an impressive, multicolored terra-cotta tile roof and a handsome bell tower. From the street, it looks alive and well kept, although Mass hasn’t been celebrated there since 2011.
Back then, the shrinking parish was merged with another one nearby while the building sat in limbo for two years. In 2013, the Twin Cities German Immersion School, a growing charter school in search of a permanent home, began leasing the church building and its accompanying school site by taking on $8 million in construction and real-estate debt.
The local community didn’t mind that the charter school moved in. It does object, however, to plans to tear it down. The St. Paul NAACP joined the opposition to the charter’s plan to grow.
But money isn’t the reason the St. Paul NAACP opposedthe proposed expansion of the Twin Cities German Immersion School. Instead, it is segregation. The group, CONTINUE READING: St. Paul: Will a Historic Church Be Razed to Make Room for a Segregated White Charter School? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Illinois pension buyout plan is a bust and I’m shocked – shocked – to know there’s gambling going on. – Fred Klonsky

Illinois pension buyout plan is a bust and I’m shocked – shocked – to know there’s gambling going on. – Fred Klonsky

ILLINOIS PENSION BUYOUT PLAN IS A BUST AND I’M SHOCKED – SHOCKED – TO KNOW THERE’S GAMBLING GOING ON.

Those running this state never give up on trying to avoid confronting the state’s huge public pension debt with anything but stupid schemes instead of timely, actuarial payments.

They tried their schemes again when they all praised themselves for agreeing to Rauner’s third budget try.
They included a pension buyout plan in the bill.
I said it was stupid at the time.
Their brilliant idea was that the savings would come from voluntary buyout programs for people eligible for state pensions. Former public workers who are vested in the pension system would have the option to completely cash out their pensions at 60 percent of the value, which they could then invest on their own.
Well, hell, what retiree with a constitutionally guaranteed pension with an annual 3% compounded increase wouldn’t want to cash in their pension at 60% of its value?
I guess I might think about it if I was suffering from dementia and nobody was watching out for me, or on my death bed.
Illinois legislators promised this would save hundreds of millions of dollars in pension costs and cited actuarial studies showing the same.
Only the legislature’s actuaries, according to a report by the Civic Federation, studied CONTINUE READING: Illinois pension buyout plan is a bust and I’m shocked – shocked – to know there’s gambling going on. – Fred Klonsky



A Tempest in a Sterling Silver Teapot | janresseger

A Tempest in a Sterling Silver Teapot | janresseger

A Tempest in a Sterling Silver Teapot

Fortunately, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recognizes injustice at least in instances when it results from political fights among those who can manipulate  power and money on a grand scale.  We can be thankful that he vetoed one amendment slipped into the state budget right at the last minute without any debate.
The amendment was added by Ohio Senator Matt Dolan, a Republican whose family owns the Cleveland Indians, and who represents some of the wealthiest communities in the state of Ohio. Dolan chairs the Ohio Senate Finance Committee, and he was an influential member of the House-Senate conference committee which finalized the new budget.
The amendment involved local property tax assessments in the Orange City School District, which includes several of Ohio’s most affluent communities: Pepper Pike, Orange, Moreland Hills, and Hunting Valley. Hunting Valley has been lobbying for a change in its school funding.  Its residents say they shouldn’t have to pay so much property tax to the Orange City Schools—the school district in which Hunting Valley is situated. They point out that a lot of older residents in Hunting Valley do not have children in school, and many families with young children use exclusive private schools. Hunting Valley had sought the state budget amendment to stipulate that Hunting Valley’s residents would pay their school property taxes as a sort of per-pupil tuition in instances when a Hunting Valley student enrolls in the Orange Schools. Sen. Matt Dolan’s district includes Hunting Valley.
The Plain Dealer‘s Andrew Tobias summarizes the provision that Governor DeWine ultimately vetoed: “The measure, backed by Senate leadership including Chagrin Falls Republican Sen. Matt Dolan, a key figure in budget negotiations on tax issues, would have capped the amount CONTINUE READING: