Wednesday, March 6, 2013

UPDATE: Voters send mixed signals to school reformers in L.A. + How closing schools hurts neighborhoods

How closing schools hurts neighborhoods:

Voters send mixed signals to school reformers in L.A.

laVoters keep sending signals that they have very mixed feelings about corporate-based school reform. The latest signs come from Los Angeles, where Tuesday’s races for three Board of Education seats resulted in one defeat, one win, and one runoff for supporters of school reform.
The reason it matters is that Los Angeles is the second largest public school district in the country, and people around the country were watching the elections as a kind of bellwether of public support for controversial reforms.
The biggest news was that Steve Zimmer, the school board member in Los Angeles who has proposed halting the opening of new charter schools and evaluating teachers with student test scores, beat a challenger who had backing from big reformers outside California, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Los Angeles Times said Zimmer won 52.1 percent of the vote in District 4 in a close race against Kate Anderson, who garnered 47.9 percent of the vote.
The Zimmer-Anderson race was the most expensive and publicized of three races for the Board of Education in the Los Angeles Unified School District in Tuesday’s elections. Anderson was backed by a coalition of donors, which was put together by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and included Bloomberg, who gave $1 million, and Michelle Rhee, whose StudentsFirst organization gave $250,000.
Another race for the school board was won by the exceptionally well-funded incumbent 

How closing schools hurts neighborhoods

On Thursday, the Philadelphia school district’s governing board, the School Reform Commission, will be voting on the most massive one-time downsizing of the system ever proposed. The district’s recently revised plan, which has encountered widespread community and teacher opposition, calls for closing 29 out of 239 district schools next fall – a step down from the original proposal to shutter 37 schools. The system is grappling with a budget gap of $1.1 billion over five years and has seen enrollment decline as more than 80 charter schools have been created since the late 1990s.
Here’s a piece on what the school closing really mean to neighborhoods, by Elaine Simon, co-director of the Urban Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She has studied and written about Philadelphia school reform for almost three decades and for the last six years taught a project-based learning course, “Schools and Community Development,”  in collaboration with teachers in West Philadelphia high schools. This appeared  on the

Why the ‘learning pyramid’ is wrong

A lot of people believe that the “learning pyramid” that lists learning scenarios and average student retention rates is reliable. Here’s cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham to explain why it isn’t.  Willingham is professor and director of graduate studies in psychology … Continue reading →