Monday, March 23, 2020

Jeff Bryant: Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Could Weaken the School Privatization Agenda - LA Progressive

Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Could Weaken the School Privatization Agenda - LA Progressive

Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Could Weaken the School Privatization Agenda


The COVID-19 crisis reveals the true intentions of people,” Kathleen Oropeza told me during a phone call. Oropeza is a public school mom in Orlando and founder of Fund Education Now, a non-partisan grassroots effort to advocate for public education in Florida.
Her remark was in the context of concerns about how state officials were governing schools as the coronavirus was spreading across the state and generating fears of how the disease would affect schools and families.
Days after the first victims tested positive in the state and the first deaths were reported, Florida lawmakers in the House seemed oblivious to the impending crisis and instead passed new legislation to expand the state’s voucher program, thus diverting an additional $200 million from the state’s public schools.
The bill passed despite evidence that many of the private schools that would receive the voucher money openly discriminate against LGBTQ children and families, are not required to hire certified teachers, and generally provide a subpar education.
When Florida schools extended their spring breaks to slow the mounting epidemic, Oropeza received a tip from an anonymous trusted source that state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran had called local school superintendents to urge them to restart schools March 30, primarily so school leaders could prepare for state-required standardized tests scheduled to begin April 1. According to Oropeza’s source, Corcoran made it clear the state considers test scores necessary for policy-making even if the scores would be much lower due to school schedule disruptions.
Oropeza and her fellow activists also noticed a “blitz” of new marketing pitches from online education providers, most of whom operate for-profit. The fear she and others had is that tests CONTINUE READING: Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Could Weaken the School Privatization Agenda - LA Progressive

Schools and students with disabilities likely to struggle with special ed at a distance - HoustonChronicle.com

Schools and students with disabilities likely to struggle with special ed at a distance - HoustonChronicle.com

Schools and students with disabilities likely to struggle with special ed at a distance


Big Education Ape: Is Congress Using Crisis to Suspend IDEA? | Diane Ravitch's blog - https://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2020/03/is-congress-using-crisis-to-suspend.html

Caleb Cook already had three meltdowns by 11:30 in the morning Wednesday.
It was his third day home since Fort Bend ISD and virtually every other Houston school announced they would close their campuses until at least April 10. Unlike his first and sixth grade sisters, 14-year-old Caleb, who is autistic, has several intellectual disabilities and microcephaly, in which a child is born with a significantly smaller head, often caused by abnormal brain development.


“I think everybody, special needs and not, is nervous to see how this is going to go,” Cook said. “We’re waiting on direction from the district, but I have to trust they will do everything in their power to accommodate students.”
As schools pivot to online learning in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus and the illness it produces, COVID-19, education leaders are scrambling to figure out how to best serve their students with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, including English language learners.
So far, it is proving a challenge.
As long as general education students are receiving any type of instruction, the U.S. Department of Education and the Texas Education Agency require schools to provide services to students with disabilities, as spelled out in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Students with so-called 504 plans, which offer accommodations such as more time to take tests, must be given equitable access to school work. CONTINUE READING: Schools and students with disabilities likely to struggle with special ed at a distance - HoustonChronicle.com

Introducing the Loving Communities Response Fund | Schott Foundation for Public Education

Introducing the Loving Communities Response Fund | Schott Foundation for Public Education

Introducing the Loving Communities Response Fund


Like us, you are likely asking how you can most effectively support life-saving work in our nation’s most vulnerable communities — if so, please read on.
Organizations and communities supported by the Schott Foundation come from generations of people grounded in community, organized and resilient in the face of structural violence and institutionalized racism. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the inequities and challenges they must confront now are even greater. We must stand in solidarity to sustain and strengthen this vital network of advocates and the families and students whom they support, to both survive in the months ahead and sow the seeds of a better world in the future.
Schott’s partners are providing critically needed aid in their communities, just as they’ve done during previous crises. At the same time, they are fighting to ensure those most impacted by school closures, job and housing insecurity, and hunger are included in shaping policies and allocating resources. 
In response to this extraordinary moment, Schott has created the Loving Communities Response Fund. Every dollar you donate to this fund will go directly to support community-led grassroots organizations who serve youth and families directly impacted.
We must act in solidarity and do all we can: join us in giving today!
Donate Now!
Share on Facebook! Tweet this!
Introducing the Loving Communities Response Fund | Schott Foundation for Public Education

Resources for Parents and Teachers - Network For Public Education

Resources for Parents and Teachers - Network For Public Education

Resources for Parents and Teachers


Education Resources General/Multiple Subjects

Below are educational resources for children during these difficult days of social distancing. We will add additional high-quality, free resources as we find them. Please feel free to send along your suggestions by using the button we provide below.
HippoCampus 7,000 free videos across 13 subjects 
Arcademics Improve your child’s knowledge in math, geography, typing, spelling, and language arts (Grades 1-6)
Advice for online instruction from Parents for Privacy
Scholastic Learning Day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing
PBS Kids Newsletter has activities geared for younger ages
Brain Pop Resources that span topics like arts and music, English, science, and technology.
National Geographic Kids
NY PBS Learning Media Free, standards-aligned videos, interactives, lesson plans, and more
Scholastics Learn at Home “Active learning journeys” designed to keep students engaged while they’re out of the classroom (pre-K -9)
Let Grow Build independence, develop life lessons, and experience social-emotional learning
Highlights for Kids Online activities across subject areas 

Los Angeles: Schools Discover Snafus of Distance Learning | Diane Ravitch's blog

Los Angeles: Schools Discover Snafus of Distance Learning | Diane Ravitch's blog

Los Angeles: Schools Discover Snafus of Distance Learning


The Los Angeles Times published a disturbing article about the problems and obstacles that students and teachers are encountering as online learning becomes the new normal. For many children, instruction is inaccessible.
The gaps between the haves and have-nots are glaring.
“ Misti Kemmer, a fourth-grade teacher at Russell Elementary School in South Los Angeles, is working hard to keep her students learning now that schools are closed. She shares detailed lesson plans on Google Drive, sends messages to families every day and delivers YouTube lectures from her home.
She’s trying to look at all this stuff on a tiny cellphone after dinner hours,” Kemmer said. “How much is a 9- year-old going to get done?”
“There’s this whole distance-learning thing, but how much learning is actually going on?” she added.
“But only three or four of her 28 students accessed their schoolwork last week, she said. Some don’t have computers and others are without internet access. One CONTINUE READING: Los Angeles: Schools Discover Snafus of Distance Learning | Diane Ravitch's blog

An Appeal to Educators and Scholars of Color: Please Sign This Statement! | Diane Ravitch's blog

An Appeal to Educators and Scholars of Color: Please Sign This Statement! | Diane Ravitch's blog

An Appeal to Educators and Scholars of Color: Please Sign This Statement!


Kevin Kumashiro, leader of a Deans for Justice and Equity, has written an appeal addressed to Educators and Scholars of Color. It invites their endorsement of a statement opposing failed “reforms” that have stigmatized and harmed children of color and other vulnerable students. Please share this statement with your friends and colleagues. Invite them to sign to demonstrate that they do not believe that failed “reforms” should be foisted on students who need experienced teachers and well-funded classrooms.
Dear Friends and Colleagues: All educators of color and educational scholars of color in the United States are invited to sign onto a statement (“This Must End Now: Educators and Scholars of Color Against Failed Educational “Reforms”) that calls for an end to billionaire-backed, so-called “reforms” that are devastating schools, particularly for students of color and low-income students.
If you are eligible, please review the statement and consider joining this nationwide collective; and whether or not you are eligible, please help to spread the word to other educators/scholars of color (including academics, K-12 educators and leaders, etc.) to join us as we build and leverage our collective voices in reframing the public narrative, speaking out against failed initiatives, and putting forth a more just vision for our schools and communities.
The deadline to sign is March 31st, and the statement will be released publicly soon after. Here’s the statement and the form to sign on:
We are particularly eager to move this forward in the midst of a public health crisis, which is significantly CONTINUE READING: An Appeal to Educators and Scholars of Color: Please Sign This Statement! | Diane Ravitch's blog

Stephen Sawchuk: This Was the Week We Learned How Vital Our Public Schools Are | Diane Ravitch's blog

Stephen Sawchuk: This Was the Week We Learned How Vital Our Public Schools Are | Diane Ravitch's blog

Stephen Sawchuk: This Was the Week We Learned How Vital Our Public Schools Are


This is one of the best articles I have ever read in Education Week. It is not an opinion piece. It is a news article by veteran journalist Stephen Sawchuk.
He begins:
This was the week that American schools across the country closed their doors.
It was the week that our public schools—often dismissed as mediocre, inequitable, or bureaucratic—showed just how much they mean to American society by their very absence.
The unprecedented shutdown public and private schools in dozens of states last week has illuminated one easily forgotten truism about schools: They are an absolute necessity for the functioning of civic culture, and even more fundamentally than that, daily life.
Schools are the centers of communities. They provide indispensible student-welfare services, like free meals, health care, and even dentistry. They care for children while parents work. And all those services do much to check the effects of America’s economically stratified systems of employment and health care on young students.
These insights came into focus last week as the nation’s governors, in the absence of a coherent message from federal officials, took charge and shuttered tens of thousands of American schools, affecting tens of millions of students, in an effort to curb the menacing spread of the new coronavirus,or COVID-19.
Education historians and researchers struggled to come up with a historical precedent to this brave new school-less world. The only certainty, they said, is that the long-term impacts for students will be severe, and most likely long lasting.


Student learning will suffer in general—and longstanding gaps in performance between advantaged and vulnerable students will widen, they predicted, a combination both of CONTINUE READING: Stephen Sawchuk: This Was the Week We Learned How Vital Our Public Schools Are | Diane Ravitch's blog

Schools are shut, so how will kids learn amid the covid-19 pandemic? - The Washington Post

Schools are shut, so how will kids learn amid the covid-19 pandemic? - The Washington Post

Schools are shut, so how will kids learn amid the covid-19 pandemic?



Schools may be shuttered and families hunkered down, but teacher Tim Rodman is keeping his Maryland classroom going during the coronavirus pandemic — ever the energetic voice of AP Macroeconomics as he hosts a video call with students who live 40 miles away.
“It’s a little bit of normalcy during a crisis,” said Rodman, a teacher at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda.


A week into school closings across the Washington region, Rodman’s 45-minute daily sessions on Zoom — one in economics, one in government — are more a glimpse of what is possible than a real-time reality for hundreds of thousands of public school students.
School systems in the region are moving toward distance learning, but the ramp-up has been gradual in many cases, posing an array of challenges.
It is complicated by uncertainties about whether schools are closed for two weeks, a month — or, some worry, until the school year ends in June. The District just extended school closings until late April.
In Virginia, public school students do not have required assignments or grades for the next few weeks, following guidance from state officials.
Fairfax County Superintendent Scott Brabrand said that’s because school leaders “cannot ensure equity in access” to resources, including computers and Internet service.
“We . . . know our families are concerned about instruction and learning for our students,” Brabrand wrote in a message to families in the 188,000-student system. “Please know our teachers care and want to support their students.”
If the closure extends beyond mid-April, Fairfax will offer instruction through online exer­cises or hard-copy packets, he said. Teachers will begin “distance learning training” to prepare for that possibility over the next two weeks.

3 Minute Privatization Video: Must See | Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

3 Minute Privatization Video: Must See | Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

3 Minute Privatization Video: Must See





3 Minute Privatization Video: Must See | Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

Immediate And Peripheral Vigilance: LAUSD’s Schoolboard Election … Then Covid19 – Los Angeles Education Examiner

Immediate And Peripheral Vigilance: LAUSD’s Schoolboard Election … Then Covid19 – Los Angeles Education Examiner

Immediate And Peripheral Vigilance: LAUSD’s Schoolboard Election … Then Covid19


A running section will follow below with information and links on Covid-19.
In the meantime a primary election was held less than three weeks ago in LA County that is still being actively counted. Results continue to be updated twice-weekly with (2,101,601) ballots comprising more than 38% of the over 5.5m registered voters counted. As of March 17, 2020 there are 64K ballots left to count. A small subset of these will include yet-outstanding ballots from LAUSD schoolboard voters.
Representation on the LAUSD schoolboard matters all the more now under threat of pandemic than ever, since the unusual circumstances expose enormous issues regarding Education policy. The protective closing of classrooms forces into a limelight matters of online learning, homeschooling, equity and teaching and the role of Big Tech vs human practitioners in guiding, mentoring, instructing and raising our young. Front and center as the District is forced to all-online learning are issues of context and practice – is public education fundamentally industrial training or contextual critical thinking (and in what proportion)? These questions intrinsic to District policy will inform future learning as a function of what is being developed right now. By virtue of its size and the imperative of the moment, the LAUSD school board’s policies and actions with regard to blended learning will affect public education for years to come.
The board races in LAUSD1 and LAUSD5 cover southeast, northeast and south central LA. Incumbents George McKenna in LAUSD1 and Jackie Goldberg in LAUSD5 won their respective elections outright with more than CONTINUE READING: Immediate And Peripheral Vigilance: LAUSD’s Schoolboard Election … Then Covid19 – Los Angeles Education Examiner

Pandemic: School Closures Past, Present, Future – Have You Heard

Pandemic: School Closures Past, Present, Future – Have You Heard

Pandemic: School Closures Past, Present, Future


This isn’t the first time schools have shuttered in the wake of a pandemic. Resident education historian Jack Schneider on what we can learn from school closures past. Meanwhile, the absence of schools seems to have awakened even their critics to how key they are. (Psst: turns out that they’re not just places to develop *human capital*…) And what of the future? Resident paranoid Jennifer Berkshire says it’s never too soon to start fretting over whether schools will ever reopen – especially in states where pols have been feverishly focused on dismantling them. Transcript available here.
The financial support of listeners like you keeps this podcast going. Please donate at Patreon.com/HaveYouHeardPodcast


Pandemic: School Closures Past, Present, Future – Have You Heard

Teacher Tom: "I Have an Idea!": The Essence of Intellectual Development

Teacher Tom: "I Have an Idea!": The Essence of Intellectual Development

"I Have an Idea!": The Essence of Intellectual Development


"I have an idea!"

It's a call that rises from the playground, from the classroom, from wherever it is that children are playing together. "I have an idea!" Eureka! Aha!

You don't hear it often, if ever, when children are bent over their lessons, doing what they've been told, but the moment they are free to play, free to engage their world, to pursue their own questions, it fills the air. They share their idea, in shouts or whispers. These ideas are theories about the world, perhaps not original in the history of human ideas, but always original to the one doing the thinking.



"I've got an idea!" He shows us his idea by using a block as an oversized drumstick, creating a rhythm on a cardboard box. His friends then, one by one, join him, trying out his idea, making it bigger, louder. They smile at one another, at the sound they are making together. This is not my idea. This is not what I wanted to have happen today. My idea was that they build with the blocks or put things in the cardboard box, CONTINUE READING: 
Teacher Tom: "I Have an Idea!": The Essence of Intellectual Development


Some advice and guidance for the week ahead | Class Size Matters

Some advice and guidance for the week ahead | Class Size Matters Some advice and guidance for the week ahead | A clearinghouse for information on class size & the proven benefits of smaller classes

Some advice and guidance for the week ahead

Dear Friend,
  1. A lot of news to catch up on. Tomorrow starts remote learning for NYC public school students. If you don’t have an online device for your child, the Chancellor said on Friday you can pick up written packets of homework at the 400 school sites that are distributing food. If you need a device, you can fill out this form or call 718-935-5100 and then press #5. But be aware that for many kids, paper and pencil works better anyway. You can also enroll online about the Regional Enrichment Centers which will be providing child care for first responders, health care, transit workers, as well as other essential members of the work force.
  2. Some parent leaders have created a guide on setting up Google classroom, available in several languages, which will be used in many schools. The ASD Nest support group at NYU has also provided advice, primarily meant for Autistic spectrum kids, in how to establish a calm and focused learning environment, but this could be beneficial for any child. Our Parent Coalition for Student Privacy has basic info on how to retain maximum privacy and minimize screen time during these trying times.
  3. Encourage your child to read books! If you don’t have enough physical books at home, you can sign up for a NYC library card and download books for free on an ipad or Kindle. Just go to https://nypl.org and log into the catalog. If you don’t have a library card, download SimplyE on iTunes or Google Play.
  4. Don’t force yourself or your kids to focus on academics too much. Check out this great piece in the NYT by an educator; or the wise counsel of Audrey Watters on my Talk out of School podcast, which also featured interviews with Jasmine Gripper of AQE on the state education budget negotiations and CM Mark Treyger on next steps for NYC schools.
  5. FYI, the NY State Education  has now wisely cancelled most all state-mandated tests. Next Wed. at 10 AM on WBAI-FM 99.5 we will interview Akil Bello, testing expert, on what is happening with other exams,  including the SATs and ACTs, and what he thinks should happen in the future with high-stakes tests in general.  We will be letting listeners to call in with their questions and concerns.
  6. Finally, I’d love to hear from each of you — parents, students and teachers — about what’s working here in NYC and elsewhere with our new national experiment with online learning, as I described it to LoHud News. Please let me know by responding to this message or emailing me at info@classsizematters.org .   I’d like to feature some of your experiences as well on my blog;  let me know if I can share them, and if so, if I should remove your name to preserve your anonymity.
Hoping you and your family stay strong and healthy during these challenging times,
Leonie
Some advice and guidance for the week ahead | Class Size Matters Some advice and guidance for the week ahead | A clearinghouse for information on class size & the proven benefits of smaller classes

Is the Ohio Senate Intent on Running Out the Clock to Enable Vast Voucher Expansion on April 1? | janresseger

Is the Ohio Senate Intent on Running Out the Clock to Enable Vast Voucher Expansion on April 1? | janresseger

Is the Ohio Senate Intent on Running Out the Clock to Enable Vast Voucher Expansion on April 1?


Yesterday a member of the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial board, Thomas Suddes commented on problems in the Ohio Legislature, but he wasn’t describing merely the delays imposed by the coronavirus, which has stopped the Legislature from meeting and eliminated in-person deliberation and voting. The headline on Suddes’ column in the print edition of the newspaper says: “A Crisis Brings to Light Where Legislature Has Come Up Short.”
Suddes’ column emphasizes Ohio’s current constitutional dilemma.  Last week, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Governor delayed the primary election, but House Speaker Larry Householder believes: “Legal authority to change the date rests with the Ohio General Assembly—not the courts and not via executive fiat.”  In Ohio, legislators are not permitted to vote except in person, which means that Householder is pushing to have the legislators come into a short session, despite the danger of viral transmission during an in-person meeting, just to set a date for the primary election. But scheduling the primary election is not the only matter unresolved by the Ohio Legislature.
Suddes reminds readers that legislative dysfunction has affected a number of other important matters including public education policy: “As for rescheduling the primary, it’d be easier to have confidence in the General Assembly if it would stop yammering and start legislating. For instance, if you haven’t heard from your school superintendent about the financial mess your district faces thanks to Ohio’s school voucher circus, you haven’t been listening. Legislation to address that is stalled in the legislature”
Here is a short summary of the Legislature’s failure on EdChoice vouchers, a debacle which has created a crisis for Ohio’s school districts and left the Ohio Legislature blocked.  It is a disagreement among Ohio Republicans who dominate both legislative chambers.  Last CONTINUE READING: Is the Ohio Senate Intent on Running Out the Clock to Enable Vast Voucher Expansion on April 1? | janresseger

AFT Endorses Joe Biden | Diane Ravitch's blog

AFT Endorses Joe Biden | Diane Ravitch's blog

AFT Endorses Joe Biden


American Federation of Teachers Endorses Joe Biden for President
WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers’ executive council voted today to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic primary as the party’s nominee for president in 2020p. The union represents 1.7 million educators, healthcare professionals and public employees across more than 3,000 locals.
The announcement comes after an unprecedented year of AFT member engagement around the 2020 election and the endorsement process, with more than 300,000 members nationwide participating in candidate events, town halls, polls, regional conferences and other efforts to maximize member participation leading up to the November election.
The AFT’s endorsement decision has been guided by three criteria: selecting a candidate who shares the union’s values, who has the support of the union’s members, and who can ultimately defeat President Trump in November. Internal union polling over the last two weeks has demonstrated that members, like Democrats across the nation, have coalesced behind the former vice president: he earned a majority (60 percent) of member support in all of the union’s constituencies and leads his nearest competitor by a 2 to 1 margin. 75 percent of the Democratic membership support the AFT making an endorsement in the primary.
“Before the COVID-19 epidemic, the 2020 election was about the soul of our country. Now it’s about our soul, our safety, our health, our security and our economic well- CONTINUE READING: AFT Endorses Joe Biden | Diane Ravitch's blog

CURMUDGUCATION: Virus and Vouchers

CURMUDGUCATION: Virus and Vouchers

Virus and Vouchers


US education has essentially ground to a halt. Districts have announced that no work done distantly will count, largely out of fear that they cannot properly serve IEP students and therefor distance schooling would be illegal (aka "likely to prompt a lawsuit from a special ed family's lawyer). Where distance learning is occuring, the gap between haves and have-nots is being highlighted as it grows. Some districts, staring into the digital divide, have thrown up their hands and said, "We don't have the resources to build a bridge across that." Meanwhile, here's a district that might buy 700 hot spots for its students (cost approx: $200K).

I've been in a couple of conversations now with folks who have said that if the public schools can't educate everyone, they should just give the parents the money (the feds seem to be thinking in a different direction--just bypass IDEA). This is just another way to state the case for vouchers, but it's a framing that makes it clear why I think vouchers, in all their various forms, are a lousy idea.

Because what a voucher says is, "To get out of any obligation to educate your child, we're just going to cut you a check." It says, "You know, educating your child is hard. I'm willing to write you a check in order to get out of doing it."

That's a lousy deal. You can argue that the public education system has failed in too many schools to CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Virus and Vouchers