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Saturday, November 21, 2020

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  Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all

A site to discuss better education for all

Report from South Carolina: Rasheem and LaRonda
Arnold and Carol Hillman were educators in Pennsylvania. They retired to South Carolina and, instead of golfing and relaxing, they became involved with rural public schools. They created clubs for high school boys and girls and helped steer their kids towards college. I wrote about their work with students in rural schools several times. See here . Arnold wrote me recently to tell me about the de


Dave Pell: The Insane Clown Posse
I promised myself I would not post anything about Orange 45 unless absolutely necessary. Then I read this. Dave Pell asks a crucial question : Is a coup still a coup even if that coup is totally coup coup? Yes, Trumpist efforts to overturn the election have been laughable, lawless, and ludicrous, and have officially put the Lame into this Lame Duck session. Rudy Giuliani literally melting down du
John Ogozalek: Lots of Money for Standardized Tests, No Money for COVID Tests
John Ogozalek teaches in rural upstate New York. He wrote to tell me what’s happening during the pandemic: You can’t make this stuff up…. Schools in Western New York are facing shut downs. They’re in a “microcluster yellow zone” which requires 20% percent of the faculty and staff to be COVID tested each week. Otherwise, in-person instruction is out the window. The catch is: they don’t have the mo
Derek Black: State Courts Turn Back Voucher Cases
Derek W. Black is a professor of constitutional law who specializes in civil rights issues at the University of South Carolina. His recent book Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy is a must-read. Black writes here in an essay written for this blog about recent voucher cases in state courts: This summer in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the US Su
Rob Schofield: This Land Belongs to You and Me, Not the Privatizers
Rob Schofield of North Carolina Policy Watch lives in a state taken over by the Tea Party, who are intent on selling off whatever they can to private industry. We have fallen victim to corporate propaganda and allowed the corporate foxes into our henhouses. He has written a brilliant article about what we are losing as our public sector is diminished and privatized. Americans who are concerned ab
Johann Neem: Restoring the Promise of Public Education
Johann Neem is a historian of education. He understands the central importance of public education in our democracy. He wrote this thoughtful, important commentary about the task ahead for the Biden presidency: Restoring the Democratic Promise of Public Schools: An Integration Agenda for the Biden Administration – Guest Blog Post by Johann N. Neem The last four years have taught us just how fract

NOV 19

SomeDAM Poet: The Billionaire and the Reformer
SomeDAM Poet wrote these verses. “The Billionaire and the Reformer” (after “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” by Lewis Carroll) The pol was pining for a charter, pining with all his might: He did his very best to make The regulations sleight — Which wasn’t hard, because the pol Was charter acolyte The public was pining sulkily, Because they thought the pol Had got no business to be there After the c
What Does NAEP Really Tell Us?
James Harvey, executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable, regularly sends out news bulletins about education. His group might be thought of as the antithesis of the Broad Academy; they are educators with experience, not tyros looking to move up quickly with minimal experience. Harvey has wisely inveighed against the common perception of NAEP’s proficiency level, which advocates
Carol Burris: The Secretary of Education We Need–and Those We Don’t
Carol Burris wrote the following post. Marla Kilfoyle provided assistance. They asked me to add that there are dozens more exceptionally well qualified people who should be considered for this important post: they are career educators who believe in public education, not closing schools or privatization. The media has been filled with speculation regarding Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of Educat
Federal Judge Permanently Bars DeVos from Diverting CARES Funds to Private Schools
While Trump appointees are doing their best to impose their policies before January 20, a federal judge in California told Betsy DeVos in no equivocal terms by a federal judge that she cannot divert CARES money to private schools. The nation’s nearly 100,000 public schools received $13.2 billion in CARES funding, which they were required to share with charter schools and to private schools with l

NOV 18

NYC Schools Will Close, Despite Low Infection Rates in Schools
As the coronavirus surges across the nation, infections are returning to the east coast cities and states that hoped they were done with it. After New York City suffered more deaths than many states, the city for months boasted a low infection rate. But that rate recently hovered just below 3%. Mayor de Blasio said he would close the schools and revert to remote instruction if the positivity rate
NYC Parents Criticize de Blasio for His Inflexibilty
Mayor de Blasio has wavered about when and how to open the schools since the pandemic began. Now he has drawn a line in the sand and threatens to close all the city’s schools if the city reaches a certain level of infections. Some schools are in danger zones. Others are not. Some parents—and the New York Daily News editorial board —think the mayor should recognize that some schools are safe and a
Arthur Camins: How Do We Persuade Nearly Half of Voters that A Better Society for All is Good for Them Too?
Arthur Camins, retired science and technology educator, knows that Democrats must do a better job of reaching out and persuading nearly half of voters that we all have a stake in a better, fairer society. He writes: Celebrate! Breathe a very, very big sigh of relief. Among the record number of Americans who went to the polls and mailed in their ballots, over half voted for Joe Biden to reject and
Nancy Bailey: Business Terms Should Be Expelled from Our Schools
Last year, Nancy Bailey and I co-authored a glossary of words, terms, and the names of organizations in education today. It is called Edspeak and Doubletalk: A Glossary to Decipher Hypocrisy and Save Public Schooling . Truly, folks, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, and this book is the scorecard for education policy today. Nancy has a great eye for how language is used to deceive,
Peter Greene: What the Charter Industry Hates About the Biden Plan
If you subscribe to Peter Greene’s blog Curmudgucation, as you should, you know that Peter can toss off one or two or three fresh, smart posts a day without breaking a sweat. Here is another excellent post, on the subject of Biden’s plans for holding charter schools accountable and why the charter industry finds his plans offensive. I was in Washington, D.C., in the early 1990s when the charter i
Oklahoma: Governor Removes Chair of Virtual Charter Board Who Was Cleaning Up Conflicts ofInterest
John Harrington, chair of Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, wanted to force out two members of the board who apparently had conflicts of interest in their connection to scandal-scarred Epic charter schools. One is related to a founder of Epic, who made millions; the other received campaign donations from Epic. But before Harrington could act, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt fired h

NOV 17

Trump Fires Director of Election Security for Saying the Election Was Fair
The Boston Globe has the story, as does every other news outlet: President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election. Trump fired Christopher Krebs in a tweet, saying his recent statement defending the security of the election was “highly inaccurate.” The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee and director of the Cybersecurity and
Trump Administration Hurries to Auction Off Alaska Wilderness for Drilling
Dino Grandoni writes in the Washington Pos t that the Trump administration is rushing through actions that will be difficult for the Biden administration to reverse. One of them involves formerly protected wilderness in Alaska. President Trump refuses to acknowledge his defeat in the 2020 election. But his outgoing environmental deputies are still hurrying to complete more than a dozen agency act
Denis Smith: “I’m Alive. Nobody Else Is…They’re All Dead.”
Denis Smith is a retired educator, now living in Ohio. He remembers here a day that will forever haunt him. “I’m alive. Nobody else is … they’re all dead.” It Happened Fifty Years Ago Today. The other evening, I had a dream about hearing sirens in the distance, shrill sounds which break the silence of an otherwise uneventful and quiet night. Lest you think I’m in need of clinical attention, there
John Thompson: COVID and Schools in Oklahoma
John Thompson, historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma, is concerned about the lackadaisical responses of elected officials in his state and reliance on Big Data, not science. The headlines could not be clearer; we’re headed for a disastrous surge in COVID-19. But many of the same public health experts who previously called for shutdowns and, recently, some top journalists are pushing the posit
Nancy Flanagan: Public Schools Must Remain Public
Nancy Flanagan writes here about the assumption that whatever is “private” must be better than whatever is “public.” This may be a widespread assumption but she gives many examples of the public services and public goods that almost everyone agrees should remain public. She insists that public schools have a special place in a democracy and that they should remain public, not partially or wholly
Laura Chapman Reviews the Biden Transition Team for Education
The Biden campaign released the names of those who will serve on transition teams. Our reader, retired arts educator Laura Chapman, reviewed the members of the education transition team. According to the campaign ( cited in Valerie Strauss’s article ), the transition team will identify DeVos regulations that should be reversed, but the team will not set policy or staff. Chapman, like many readers

NOV 16

A Fresh Portrayal of Abolitionist John Brown
When I was in high school in Houston in the 1950s, we studied the Civil War. John Brown was portrayed in the American history textbook as a zealot and a terrorist. I just read about a new film in which he is shown as a visionary far ahead of his times, a man who believed unconditionally in human equality.
John Merrow: Trump’s 73 Million Voters: Can We Talk?
John Merrow looks at the deeply partisan divide in our country and thinks about ways that we can communicate with each other . Three Big Questions: 1) How many of the nearly 73 million Americans who voted for President Donald J. Trump can be persuaded to support President Joe Biden? 2) How can we connect with them? 3) Can we fix our schools so they don’t keep turning out angry and disaffected gra
Good News for Me
I wrote the other day that I am in quarantine. This was because my grandson was in a class where another student tested positive. The students in the class were masked and socially distant. My grandson tested negative. He will test again but it’s thus far looking good. All this is a reminder to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and be vigilant. Stay safe.
How FOX News Foiled Trump’s Plans to Steal the Election
The Washington Monthy writes that Trump had an elaborate plan , dreamed up by one of his inner circle (Stephen Miller?) Jared Kushner?), to demand a halt to the counting on Election Day, knowing that the mail-in ballots would favor Biden. But then FOX News called Arizona for Biden, and his plan was foiled. He was furious and demanded that FOX retract its call, but it did not back down. He even at
Epidemiologist: How to Reopen Schools Safely
Benjamin P. Linas, an epidemiologist, writes in VOX that both blue and red states are doing the wrong things about the pandemic. The blue states are too quick to close down schools and the red states are too quick to keep them open without proper safety measures. The Trump administration has provided no guidance at all and left it to states to craft their own responses, which mostly fall along pa

NOV 15

Politico: Student Loan Chaos Looms as Deadline Approaches
The Trump administration seems to have gone into hibernation since the election. The coronavirus is raging out of control, but the federal coronavirus task force is silent, with neither Trump nor its titular chair Mike Pence attending its meetings. Given the administration’s penchant for toxic actions, its inactivity may be a blessing, but in the case of student loan repayments, this is not the c
Trump Continues to Rant about “Rigged” Election
Many parents look to the president of the United States as someone who is worthy of emulation. He (and someday she) is a role model. What Donald Trump is modeling right now is how to be a sore loser, how to throw a childish temper tantrum, how to undermine the democratic system of government founded on the consent of the governed. We already have a convoluted democratic system, in which the will
Watch As Kevin Welner and I discuss His New Book “Potential Grizzlies”
I enjoyed reading Kevin Welner’s new book “Potential Grizzles.” There are many hilarious short pieces about education fads, absurd federal laws, Duncan, DeVos and more. You will enjoy reading about the innovative Ammocentric Charter School in Arizona. Or the discovery that when the bottom 5% of teachers are fired, another bottom 5% pops up the next year. Or the insight that teachers can be fairly
Sam Wineburg and Nadav Ziv: We Must Teach Students to Recognize Misinformation
Sam Wineburg and Nadav Ziv, professor and student at Stanford University, maintain that it is crucial to teach students how to recognize misinformation, a point that the recent election made clear. The Republican Party repeatedly called Democratic candidates “radical socialists” and smeared any proposal to improve the lives of people as “socialism.” They wrote in the Los Angeles Times : The 2020
Tom Ultican: EdTech Spending in North Carolina is Running Wild
Thomas Ultican took a close look at spending on education technology in North Carolina and was shocked by what he learned. He begins: A North Carolina cabal of school superintendents, politicians, consultants and technology companies has gone wild over the past seven years. In Chapel Hill, Education Elements obtained an illegitimate $767,000 contract. Chapel Hill-Carborro City Hills Schools (CHCC

NOV 14

I’m in Quarantine
We went to dinner last night at my son’s house, especially to see the grandsons ages 7 and 14. I sat next to the older boy during dinner. The boys are tested regularly at their schools, which both are half in-person and half-remote. As we finished dinner, my son opened his email and found a message from the older boy’s school that he had been in class with a student who tested positive. Consequen
In the Public Interest: Some Good News from the 2020 Elections
“In the Public Interest” is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates on behalf of the common good, an increasingly scarce resource these past four years. Here is the good news that ITPI has gathered. Add to it by contacting them directly. Even in defeat, Trump is doing it again —sucking up all the attention with aimless lawsuits and absurd tweets about voter fraud and the “Fake News M
Ohio: ECOT Treasurer Offers to Help State Recover Millions from Charter Operator
Bill Phillis, founder of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding reports that an ECOT insider has agreed to help the state in its effort to recoup some of the millions it lost by paying the low-performing virtual charter school for almost 20 years. He writes: Former ECOT treasurer willing to help press state claims against the ECOT Man, William Lager The Attorney General aske
Indiana: Public Schools Lose $100 Million due to Pandemic
Enrollments declined in public schools across Indiana, due to the pandemic. And when enrollments decline, schools suffer financial losses. Blogger Steve Hinnefeld estimates that public schools across the state will lose at least $100 million due to enrollment declines. This is a story that is happening in districts across the nation. DeVos must be thrilled. He writes: Indiana school districts sta
Rhode Island: Critics Object to Charter Expansion Plans
Under the leadership of Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island is a very charter-friendly state. Raimondo was a venture capitalist before she entered politics. Her husband was TFA. The welcome mat is out for charter schools in the state. The latest proposal for a new charter comes from Excel Academy in Boston. Linda Borg of the Providence Journal writes: PROVIDENCE — Critics of a new cha
CNN: Europe Locks Down but Keeps Schools Open
With the upsurge in the coronavirus, the U.S. and Europe are facing new shutdowns to stop the disease. But there is one big difference. European nations are keeping their schools open, as schools in the U.S. close . London 

  Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all