Latest News and Comment from Education

Saturday, December 26, 2020


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

A site to discuss better education for all

If You Love Public Higher Education, Fight for It
I posted a delightful article by Jennifer Raab, President of Hunter College, celebrating the importance of public higher education, which has provided opportunity to so many students from low-income and immigrant families. A faculty member of the City University of New York wrote to say that budget cuts are strangling the promise of public higher education. He wrote: Public education requires mor
Merry Christmas to All!
Merry Christmas to everyone who reads these words. This has been a difficult year for people all over the world. The end is in sight, as vaccines become available to more and more people. You can help to curb the pandemic by following expert advice: Wear a mask, avoid crowds, maintain social distance, wash your hands frequently. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa, or whether y
Christmas Gift for You: The Trump Countdown Clock
Wondering how many days, hours, minutes, seconds until noon on January 20, 2021? Wonder no more. Here is the Trump Countdown Clock.
Snopes: The True Story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Did you ever stop to think about the origins of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Probably not. But it’s a true story with a happy ending. It starts like this: Rudolph came to life in 1939 when the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward company asked one of their copywriters, 34-year-old Robert L. May, to come up with a Christmas story they could give away in booklet form to shoppers as a promotional gimmic
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus: It’s Called Public Education
This is a beautiful article by Jennifer Raab , president of Hunter College, which is part of the City University of New York. It appeared in the New York Daily News. When Virginia O’Hanlon attended Hunter College, the City University was tuition-free. In 1976, CUNY began to charge tuition, but it remains far less than private colleges and universities, and many students can piece together aid pac

DEC 24

Biden Picks Former President of Broad Foundation as Deputy Chief of Staff
President-Elect announced that Bruce Reed will be his Deputy Chief of Staff. This is alarming news, though not surprising. Reed previously served as Biden’s chief of staff when he was vice president. The toxic Broad Foundation gave grants to some of Betsy DeVos’s favorite causes. This report from TYT (The Young Turks) describes why we should keep a close watch on Reed. He is not a friend of publi
Fred Smith: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
We have a pride of poets on this blog. The following was written by testing expert Fred Smith, who advised the New York City Board of Education back in the days before Testmania. Fred now advises opt out parent groups. ‘Twas the night before Christmas and in the Snow House Sat a duck-assed old fat man with botoxic spouse. This may be my last chance to go through the list, And give gifts to people
My Review of Three Important Books About Education
I think you will find this book review interesting. I reviewed Katherine Stewart, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism ; Steve Suitts, Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement ; and Derek W. Black, Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy. The review is titled “The Dark History of Scho
John Thompson in Oklahoma: Grifters Gonna Keep Grifting
John Thompson, historian and retired teacher, writes often about what is happening in Oklahoma. It is often not good for public schools and teachers because of the state’s awful legislature, controlled by oil-and-gas billionaire Harold Hamm, and its Republican Governor Kevin Stitt. The best education leader in the state is state Commissioner Joy Hofmeister, who continues to protect students and t
Massive Tax Giveaways Tucked into COVID Relief Bill
There is no money in the COVID relief bill for states and cities that are verging on bankruptcy due to the collapse of tax revenues. Those states and cities support our schools. But there was lots of money for special interests. The Washington Post reports that Congress tacked on billions of dollars in tax breaks to their favorite lobbyists. When a bill is more than 5,000 pages long, it takes tim

DEC 23

Education Week: Where Cardona Stands on the Issues
Eve Blad wrote in Education Week about where Miguel Cardona , Biden’s choice for Secretary of Education, stands on the issues: On reopening schools during the pandemic: He favors in-person instruction, but has not mandated it. He recommends face masks. “We all know remote learning will never replace the classroom experience,” Cardona wrote in a November opinion piece published in the Connecticut
Pennsylvania: For-Profit Charter Destroys Public School District
I recently received a letter from a teacher in Chester-Upland, Pennsylvania. I have written about this district many times, as a large charter company owned by a Philadelphia lawyer is draining it of resources and students for his low-performing charter school. The district is like a lamb led to slaughter, with rapacious wolves ready to gobble it up. See here and here and here and here . See Caro
Education Week: What Is in the COVID Relief Bill for K-12 Schools?
Andrew Ujifusa explains here what the latest COVID relief bill contains for education. Republicans refused to fund cities and states, which supply most of the funding for schools. They also insisted on setting aside $2.75 billion specifically for private schools. It remains to be seen whether charter schools will double dip into both the public school money and the money set aside for small busin
Politico: Will Dr. Cardona Push 2021 Testing?
Not many people outside Connecticut are familiar with President-Elect Biden’s choice for Secretary of Education. He went to public schools. He has worked in public schools his entire career. His children go to public schools in Meriden, where he lives. He is not aligned with DFER or Chiefs for Change or any billionaire-funded “reform” group. Politico points out two stances that Dr. Cardona has ta
Doyle and Sahlberg: After the Pandemic, Children Need to Play
William Doyle and Pasi Sahlberg have a proposal for what children should do after the pandemic: Play. They write at When the novel coronavirus is no longer as great a threat and schools finally reopen, we should give children the one thing they will need most after enduring months of isolation, stress, physical restraint and woefully inadequate, screen-based remote learning. We should gi

DEC 22

Tune In Tomorrow Morning to “Democracy Now”
Wednesday morning from 8 a.m. to 8:30, somewhere in that time slot, I will be on “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. We will be discussing the new Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. I hope you can watch. We will be on Skype, so you can see my home office!
Biden Picks Connecticut Commissioner Miguel Cardonas as Secretary of Education
President-Elect Joe Biden selected Dr. Miguel Cardona, Commissioner of Education in Connecticut, to be his administration’s Secretary of Education. The Washington Post wrote about him: President-elect Joe Biden is set to nominate the commissioner of public schools in Connecticut as his education secretary, settling on a low-profile candidate who has pushed to reopen schools and is not aligned wit
Nancy Bailey: The Critique of Dr. Biden’s Credentials Was an Attack on Teachers and Public Schools
Nancy Bailey deconstructs Joseph Epstein’s much-reviled critique of Dr. Jill Biden’s right to be called “Dr. Biden.” She believes that its true message was an attack on teachers, the teaching profession, education schools, and public schools. She writes, in part: Belittling University Education Schools Dr. Biden’s criticism indirectly attacks the University of Delaware and their education school,
Lou Dobbs Forced to Retract Libelous Claims on Air
The Washington Post reported that FOX Business News commentator, Lou Dobbs, a big fan of Trump’s, was compelled to air a segment retracting his statements about a voting machine vendor, under threat of a lawsuit. In addition, Newsmax apologized fully for its slanders against the two major voting machine companies, stating that they were not part of any conspiracy to rig the election. Please watch
Laura Chapman: Charters in Ohio Shaking the PPP Money Tree
Our reader Laura Chapman lives in Ohio. She contacted NPE Execurive Director Carol Burris to find out which Ohio charter schools asked for and received money from the Paycheck Protection Program, even though they already received funding allotted to public schools; even though they lost no income, unlike the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that were closed by the pandemic and had NO inc

DEC 21

Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick for Secretary of Education
President-Elect Joe Biden will soon announce his choice for Secretary of Education. He promised to choose a person with experience as a teacher. He said he wants a Secretary who is committed to public education. Here is my choice. I can’t think of anyone better qualified to be Secretary of Education than Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick, other than Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, who is chair of the Biden educat
Bill Barr: No Need for Special Counsel to Investigate Election or Hunter Biden
Having submitted his resignation (or been fired), Bill Barr must now be hoping to rebuild his reputation as a responsible lawyer. At his last press conference as Attorney General, he rejected several of Trump’s vengeful ideas. He sees no reason to seize voting machines. He agreed with Mike Pompeo that the cyberbreach appeared to be attributable to Russia. He sees no reason for a special counsel t
Capital & Main: Five Ways to “De-DeVos” the U.S. Department of Education
After four years of Betsy DeVos and her antagonism toward public schools, civil rights protection, and students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges, the U.S. Department of Education needs a thorough makeover. A house-cleaning. A thorough disinfecting. Larry Buhl of Capital &Main describes in this article what the Biden administration must do to de-DeVos the Department. Is it possible to rev
John Thompson on Ta-Nehisi Coates and Bruce Springsteen
John Thompson, historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma, shares ideas about teaching in difficult times. My high school and GED students always loved wrestling with the ideas presented by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Bruce Springsteen. I’m sure they would now agree that America needs both – Coates’ Between the World and Me , centered around Coates’ letter to 15-year-old son, and the 71-year-old Springst
Brian Stelter: Rightwing Media Are Promoting Dangerous Radicalization
Brian Stelter has an always interesting show on CNN on Sunday mornings, where he discusses the media. He is not a “both sides” commentator. Watch this powerful analysis of the “mass “”radicalization” promoted by Trump and his baseless conspiracy theories. Trump allies talk about martial law, overturning the election, seizing voting machines. Bottom line: Our democracy was known for years as highl
What the Congressional Deal Means for Education
Phyllis W. Jordan of Future-Ed, a D.C. think tank, explains here what the latest Congressional agreement on COVID aid means for education and compares it to last spring’s CARES Act as well as to the HEROES Act passed in May by the House of Representatives. The agreement does not include any aid for cities or states. President-Elect Joe Biden has pledged another relief package after he takes offic

DEC 20

Will New Federal Funding Shower Money on Private Schools?
Manu Raju, senior Congressional correspondent, for CNN, reported on Twitter that the parties are now battling over how much money to send to private schools. @mkraju Two sides are still going back-and-forth over a handful of issues, including how private schools should be treated in the more than $80B in aid for education. GOP had been pushing for $5B for private schools — but Dems had tried to c
Happy Birthday, Sandra Cisneros!
From Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac”: Today is the birthday of the poet and novelist Sandra Cisneros ( books by this author ), born in Chicago (1954) and best known for the highly acclaimed coming-of-age novel The House on Mango Street (1984). Although the book was largely ignored when it was first published, its popularity grew, and soon Cisneros became the first Mexican-American woman
Los Angeles: Billionaire-funded Group Complains about Remote Learning Pact
In Los Angeles, the UTLA reached an agreement with the LAUSD and superintendent to extend remote learning as COVID surges and every ICU bed is filled in the city. The billionaire-funded “Parent Revolution” complained (billionaires are parents although they have no children in LA public schools).
Arizona Charters Hit Jackpot with Federal Paycheck Protection Program
The federal CARES Act included the Paycheck Protection Program to help struggling small businesses and nonprofits survive the pandemic. Lobbyists for the charter industry slipped in a provision enabling charter schools to apply for PPP funding, even though they experienced no financial losses. Charter schools got a share of the $13.2 billion allotted to the nation’s early 100,000 public schools.
Republican Leader: The Election Is Over
Trevor Potter is a Republican who was former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and president of the Campaign Legal Center. He writes here about efforts by Trump and his surrogates to promote their belief that the election can be overturned to Congress on January 6, when the Electoral College results are presented to Congress. The Trump campaign has chosen “alternate slates of electors”
Missouri Grants First Charter Outside Two Biggest Districts
Up until now, the only districts with charters in Missouri were St. Louis and Kansas City, the state’s two biggest districts. But the state board just granted a charter for a new school in the Normandy district, one of the state’s poorest and lowest performing. The state board of education approved the charter with six votes in favor, one against, and one abstention. Normandy lost its state accre

DEC 19

The Madness of King Donald
Trump is obsessed with overturning the election he lost. He continues to tweet that he won and that the election was tainted by widespread fraud, even though his campaign lost every lawsuit in state and federal courts for lack of evidence and was twice rejected by the US Supreme Court. Trump appears to be delusional, egged on by conspiracy theorists and his inflated ego and raging narcissism. The
Russian Spies Hack into Major Goverment Agencies
Trump spent four years cultivating his friendship with Putin. No matter what Vlad did to violate human rights, Trump was silent. Now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledges what reports reported for days: the Russian government hacked into the “secure” networks of every federal agency, where they roamed at will for several months. No word yet from Trump. He has abandoned his day job and spend
How the Trump Administration Tried to Destroy the CDC
For many years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was a respected voice in American public health. Over the course of the pandemic, however, the CDC was pressured by the Trump administration to revise its guidance to the public to satisfy the political needs of the administration, which wanted to minimize the seriousness of the pandemic. The New York Times published this article by N
Politico: Will Biden Bring Teachers’ Unions in from the Cold?
The past two decades have been rough times for the two big teachers’ unions. Republicans have demonized them. The Obama administration courted their support but did little to help them as they were attacked by the right in Republican state houses and the Courts. Duncan gleefully promoted the misguided use of test scores to evaluate teachers, despite repeated warnings by eminent researchers that t
New York City: Pandemic Leads de Blasio to Drop Screens for Middle School Admissions
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that middle schools will drop their screens –e.g., test scores, grades, etc.–for admissions and will choose students by lottery if they have more applicants than places. The administration of Michael 

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