Latest News and Comment from Education

Friday, December 12, 2014

Live Long and Prosper...: Tell Duncan He's Wrong!

Live Long and Prosper...: Tell Duncan He's Wrong!:

Tell Duncan He's Wrong!

Arne Duncan and the Obama Department of Education have redirected their attack on public schools to post-secondary schools of education. Duncan has proposed that colleges be judged based on the test scores of their graduates' students and the ability of their graduates to get hired. There is simply no research which indicates that this is an accurate measure of the success of a school of education. Simple common sense says that there are other factors which come into play...most notably, the socio-economic status of the children teachers teach. Poverty is the number one factor in student test scores, not their teachers' SAT scores or school of education.

Of course, it's important for teachers to be competent at what they do. Good training is vital, and why Duncan is going after schools of education instead of Teach for America is a topic for another post (think $$$).

In the meantime, using VAM to measure the effectiveness of schools of education is no more appropriate as using VAM to measure the effectiveness of classroom teachers. It is simply invalid.

Student achievement test scores should be used for tracking student achievement and determining the instructional needs of students. That is what achievement tests were designed for...and that's what they should be used for. Anyone who has ever learned anything about standardized tests ought to know that tests should be used only for that which they have been designed. Period.

You have a chance to tell Secretary Duncan how wrong he is.

Anthony Cody, a blogger, public education activist, author, teacher, and founding member of the Network for Public Education, writes...
We have a short window -- just until Jan. 2, to submit public comments for consideration by the Department of Ed in response to their proposed new regulations affecting teacher education.

These regulations are aimed at wiping out "ideological resistance" to high stakes tests.

The proposal states that the new regulations will evaluate teacher education programs based on the following criteria:
  • Employment outcomes: New teacher placement and three-year retention rates in high-need schools and in all schools.
  • New teacher and employer feedback: Surveys on the effectiveness of preparation.
  • Student learning outcomes: Impact of new teachers as measured by student growth, teacher evaluation, or both.
  • Assurance of specialized accreditation or evidence that a program produces high-quality candidates.
Please let the US DOE know that VAM is inappropriate for evaluating teachers, schools, school systems, and post secondary teacher training schools. Anthony Cody has all the information in his Live Long and Prosper...: Tell Duncan He's Wrong!:

parentingthecore | A Parent's Thoughts on Education in the Era of Reform

parentingthecore | A Parent's Thoughts on Education in the Era of Reform:


Writing Off “Those Kids”

Just curious… does anyone else find this New York Times “Room For Debate” piece by Michael Petrilli, president of The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which ran under the headline “Charters Can Do What’s Best For Students Who Care,” as breathtakingly offensive as I do? What boggles my mind is that this man is a leading voice among the so-called education reformers. His honesty is, at least, honest, I suppose. Unlike the DFERs, at least he’s not out there shouting that access to charter schools is the new civil rights movement of our time. He’s not out there suggesting that charter schools don’t cherry-pick and weed out students. So there’s that. I guess.
Instead, Petrilli’s saying that the fact that tax-dollar-funded charter schools kick out large numbers of students is “a feature, not a bug.” And that when it comes to discipline, “[t]raditional public schools that serve all comers have to find a middle ground, as best they can, which often pleases no one.”
And this guy is a thought-leader for the education reform movement.  His institute’s tagline is “Advancing Educational Excellence.”  I guess a more accurate version would read, “Advancing Education Excellent For Some.”
Judge for yourself.  Here are the money paragraphs from Petrilli:
Because [charter schools] are schools of choice, they have many advantages, including that everyone is there voluntarily. Thus they can make their discipline codes clear to incoming families (and teachers); those who find the approach too strict can go elsewhere.
This is a good compromise to a difficult problem: Not all parents (or educators) agree on how strict is too strict. Traditional public schools that serve all comers have to find a middle ground, as best they can, which often pleases no one. Schools of choice, including charters, need not make such compromises. That’s a feature, not a bug.
It’s not too strong to say that disruption is classroom cancer. It depresses achievement and makes schools unpleasant, unsafe and unconducive to learning. We need to think long and hard about taking tools away from schools — especially schools of choice — that allow their students to flourish.
In other words, we should divide students into those who care and those who don’t. We should provide resources to those who care, and warehouse the rest.  And when our public schools actually attempt to meet kids where they are and parentingthecore | A Parent's Thoughts on Education in the Era of Reform:

Charter Schools May Actually Be Re-Segregating America’s School System - In These Times

Charter Schools May Actually Be Re-Segregating America’s School System - In These Times:

Charter Schools May Actually Be Re-Segregating America’s School System

Charters’ defenders like to position themselves as 21st century civil rights activists. But a Delaware lawsuit alleges that charters are actually worsening racial inequality in the state.

Charter schools are often promoted as a tool to address educational inequities, but a potential precedent-setting legal case launched earlier this month says the opposite. In filings with the U.S. Department of Education, two Delaware nonprofit groups allege that some of the state's publicly funded, privately managed schools are actively resegregating the education system—and in a way that violates federal civil rights law.
The complaint, by the Delaware branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Community Legal Aid Society, cites data showing that more than three-quarters of Delaware's charter schools are “racially identifiable”—a term that describes schools whose demographics are substantially different from the surrounding community. 
According to the complaint, “High-performing charter schools are almost entirely racially identifiable as white” while “low-income students and students with disabilities are disproportionately relegated to failing charter schools and charter schools that are racially identifiable as African-American or Hispanic.” 
The groups are asking the Obama administration to take specific steps, including prohibiting subjective admissions policies for charter schools and barring extra fees for attending charter schools—factors they say discriminate against low-income, disabled and minority students. 
Because the case is being filed with the federal government, these actions could have implications for school districts everywhere—and there is already plenty of data tying charter schools to segregation. 
In 2010, a University of Colorado report analyzing charter schools found that “as compared with the public school district in which the charter school resided, the charter schools were substantially more segregated by race, wealth, disabling condition and language.” Similarly, in reviewing a decade worth of research about charter schools, George Washington University education researcher Iris Rotberg earlier this year concluded that “charter schools often lead to increased school segregation … and lead to the stratification of students who were previously in integrated environments.” 
Meanwhile, a General Accountability Office study in 2012 showed that “charter schools enrolled a lower percentage of students with disabilities than traditional public schools.”
The causes of educational segregation are a point of debate. Charter school defenders, for example, argue that the trends may merely reflect geography.
“A naive examination … appears to show that the critics are right: More choice is associated with minority students attending less diverse schools,” wrote the Brookings Institution's Matthew M. Chingos in his 2013 study of education data. “Of course, this relationship ignores the fact that charters tend to locate in areas that serve large shares of disadvantaged students and members of minority groups. As a result, this simple correlation tells us nothing about whether charters increase segregation or just tend to locate in areas where the schools are already segregated.”
Yet, in the Delaware case, the nonprofit groups blame charter schools' admissions requirements for effectively promoting discrimination. 
“These requirements include high examination scores, essays written by parents to explain why a school is a good choice for their child, access to gifted and talented elementary and middle school programs that help increase academic performance, annual activities fees, mandatory parent involvement and mandatory high-cost uniform purchases,” the ACLU said in astatement announcing the complaint. “Such barriers prevent students from low-income African-American and Hispanic families from having the same access to high-quality charter schools that middle- and upper-class families have.” 
In May, the Department of Education warned charter school administrators that their admissions policies “may not use Charter Schools May Actually Be Re-Segregating America’s School System - In These Times:

"Teach For America" Trojan Horse Among Ferguson Activists? | Black Agenda Report

"Teach For America" Trojan Horse Among Ferguson Activists? | Black Agenda Report:

"Teach For America" Trojan Horse Among Ferguson Activists?

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Some minor revisions and additional links have been inserted in this article since its Dece. 10 publication.
It's hard to imagine more ruthless, murderous and insanely wealthy corporate criminals than theKoch Bros. What if one of their executive vice presidents was black? What if she came from Florissant MO, only a few minutes from the spot where Michael Brown was murdered? What if the Koch VP had kicked it with some of the demonstrators and activists early on, maybe even taken an arrest or three, run around some corners and huffed some tear gas with them?
Now suppose that black Koch VP from Florissant got picked as one of the “young black leaders” whomet with President Obama at the White House last week. The black Koch VP does not offer to resign her position or denounce her employer, and the Koch Bros empire certainly won't stop doing any of the reprehensible things it does in Richmond CA, in Louisiana, and everywhere else in the world.
  1. Is this OK? Should the activists in motion over police murder of black people be good with this? Should they just look away and say well, the other stuff she's involved in, that her employer's involved in IS a concern butthis here is about the police. Should they say that concern ain't THIS concern, that concern ain't OUR concern???? Is this the way a broad new social movement against injustice and oppression is supposed to act?
  2. Can they really doubt that the Koch PR team will NOT use the black VP's participation in their movement to confuse and disadvantage oppressed people somewhere else?
  3. And would it be right for those with misgivings and questions about whether the Koch VP really belongs at the table, numbered among movement activists, to keep their reservations private, restricted to personal and closely held conference phone calls, private emails and the like? Or is this everybody's movement and therefore everybody's business, not just the affair of the designated "leaders"?
Something much like this is actually occurring around Ferguson. One of the “young black activists” who met with President Obama last week was Brittney Packnett, a Florissant native who happens to be executive director for the St. Louis office of Teach For America.
TFA is a nonprofit organization backed to the tune of hundreds of millions per year by Wal-Mart, the Broad Foundation, Monsanto and a long list of corporate villains and hedge fund predators intent upon dismantling, destroying and privatizing public education in black and brown neighborhoods, turning public education into a private profit center. Privatizing public education is also the bipartisan aim of top Republicans and Democrats across the country, so the Obama Department of Education has also provided tens of millions per year in federal funding for Teach For America.
Teach For America recruits young, mostly white grads from elite colleges to undergo a 5 week training program which supposedly enables them to replace experienced, mostly black teachers in inner city schools. Although TFA used to claim it sends its recruits to “underserved” schools where experienced teachers don't want to go, the facts are that underprepared TFA temps have replaced tens of thousands of experienced teachers in Newark, Chicago, St. Louis, and dozens of other cities around the country. Teach For America contends that inner-city public schools are NOT underfunded, that chronic poverty, joblessness, homelessness and short staffing are merely “excuses” used to protect the "bad teachers" which its mostly white temps are replacing. This is precisely the opposite of what knowledgeable young activists like the Dream Defenders Phillip Agnew will tell you.
For those not up on the criminal role Teach For America plays in black communities around the country, here are a few links....
In this context, the Teach For America rep sitting among the “young black activists” is a Trojan Horse.
No, it won't do any good to take Ms. Packnett aside and “talk to her” about this. That's naïve. She has a 

 "Teach For America" Trojan Horse Among Ferguson Activists? | Black Agenda Report: