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Friday, December 26, 2014

Russ on Reading: What Do We Want from Public Schools?

Russ on Reading: What Do We Want from Public Schools?:

What Do We Want from Public Schools?

Ok students, let’s start today with a quick multiple choice question.

Which of the following represents the best reason for having a highly functioning system of public schools?

a)    economic stability

b)    social stability

c)    political stability

d)    joy of the individual

Yes I know. I hated these “best reason” questions when I was taking standardized tests, too. It always seemed to me that these questions were asking you to guess what was in the test makers head. Nonetheless, your answer to this question will go a long way to determining what kind of schools you champion.

If your answer to the question is a) economic stability, you are part of a long tradition in American education that sees education for its utilitarian value. One early proponent of the economic stability argument was Booker T. Washington, who argued that the best way for newly freed African Americans to find their place in an American society that they had been brought to in chains was to learn a trade. Later on, public school districts throughout the country built vocational schools where high school students learned practical skills to ensure employment. In this day and age, when a high school diploma seems inadequate for earning a living wage, those who focus on economic stability are likely to champion educational standards that promise to get students “college and career ready.” If your concern is maintaining the economic status quo, you may choose economic stability as the goal of public schooling.

If your answer is b) social stability, you also have history on your side. As Michael Katz has shown in his book The Irony of Early Education Reform, a driving motive behind the reform movement in public education in the 19th century was to convert the children of factory workers and recent Russ on Reading: What Do We Want from Public Schools?:

Celebrating Ten Years of Post-Katrina, New Orleans Charters– And You Are Not Invited | deutsch29

Celebrating Ten Years of Post-Katrina, New Orleans Charters– And You Are Not Invited | deutsch29:

Celebrating Ten Years of Post-Katrina, New Orleans Charters– And You Are Not Invited

December 26, 2014

In modern America, when it comes to selling a product, the question of whether the product actually works as promised becomes irrelevant. The narrow concern for the profit-driven ends with effectively marketing the product.

Sales result from effective marketing– not the least of which is repeatedly telling the consumer that the product works.

Tell consumers that the product works. Tell them repeatedly.

They then mistake repetition for truth, and voila! the product moves off of the retailer’s shelf.

This is the story of the now-all-charter Recovery School District (RSD) in New Orleans: It is an inferior product that continues to be pushed as a nationwide model of charter school success, yet it is a failure. A flop. Nothing more than marketing hype.

And certainly no miracle.

RSD Backdrop

Contrary to what many believe, RSD did not originate following the August 2005 devastation of New Orleans via Hurricane Katrina. RSD was formed pre-Katrina, in 2003 via Act 9, and it was a statewide district.  Former Governor Kathleen Blanco supported Act 9. Based upon the legislated criteria set to determine a 2003 “failing” school as any that had a school performance score below 60, RSD only garnered five former Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) schools pre-Katrina. At the time that the hurricane hit, OPSB still operated 117 schools.

OPSB’s retaining so many schools was not supposed to happen.

The hidden agenda behind formation of RSD was for the state to assume control over all OPSB schools and convert OPSB into an all-charter district. To this end, Act 9 in 2003 was not enough.

The powers that be who wanted to “solve” the OPSB “problem” with under-regulated market forces would find their moment to strike within two years.

When Katrina destroyed New Orleans in August 2005, those eyeballing the New Orleans schools for complete charter conversion–not the least of whom was the late State Superintendent Cecil Picard– urged former Governor Kathleen Blanco to push the Louisiana legislature for Act 35. Former BESE member Leslie Jacobs isCelebrating Ten Years of Post-Katrina, New Orleans Charters– And You Are Not Invited | deutsch29:

How Charter Operators Get Rich | Help Change The World. The Future Of The County Is Now.

How Charter Operators Get Rich | Help Change The World. The Future Of The County Is Now.:

How Charter Operators Get Rich

Charter Schools USA is a very successful for-profit business. It is very profitable. Its CEO Jonathan Hage is an entrepreneur, not an educator. The company’s headquarters are in Florida but it operates 70 charter schools in seven states. It hopes to take over the entire York, Pennsylvania, school district. The money to operate the charter schools come out of money that would otherwise go to district public schools.
How does Hage and the corporation make big money? It is not the management fee of 5%. It’s the rent.
As Channel 10 learned in its investigation, charters profit handsomely by paying outsize rent to themselves.
“When the company helps open a new school, its development arm, Red Apple Development, acquires land and constructs a school. Then, CUSA charges the school high rent.
“For example, Winthrop Charter in Riverview may struggle to balance its budget this year thanks to a $2 million rent payment to CUSA/Red Apple Development. The payment will equate to approximately 23% of its budget, even though CUSA CEO Jon Hage has been quoted as saying charter school rent should not exceed 20%.”
The corporation says that as long as test scores are high and parents are happy, the profits are no problem.
“But among CUSA’s critics is the League of Women Voters, which recently released a study suggesting a troubling lack of separation between a charter school’s advisory board and for-profit How Charter Operators Get Rich | Help Change The World. The Future Of The County Is Now.:

The “Evil” MORE Must Fight « Movement of Rank and File Educators

The “Evil” MORE Must Fight « Movement of Rank and File Educators:

The “Evil” MORE Must Fight

December 26, 2014 — Leave a comment
By Mindy Rosier
There are many forces set to destroy public education that we must fight, but fighting this “evil” is near and dear to my heart. I received information last week that there will be a Public Hearing on Success Academy in District 1 on January 8th. I also kept seeing Eva Moskowitz in the media.
As usual, the more I read, the more angry I got. First came a link claiming the city is dawdling in their charter school plans here. So she planned a City Hall press conference which she canceled after Farina said she anticipates on accommodating up to 8 out 14 of Moskowitz’s schools, though no locations were mentioned. Farina further stated that if any of her schools could not be co-located within existing public schools, the city could seek funding for her to receive private space in the article found here. Thank you Governor Cuomo! Then a little birdie on Twitter shared this gem with me. It is of Success Academy’s 990 Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax for the period of 07/01/2012-06/30/2013. During this time period, Success Academy’s annual revenue more than doubled. Yet Moskowitz can’t afford to pay rent??? We all remember that statement don’t we?
The next day, NY Daily News Reporter Ben Chapman, who must have heard from this birdie too, put out this article. Not only does he state what I just did, he also reported that Moskowitz’s salary jumped, too.  Campbell Brown put in her two cents by saying, “she is worth every penny.” What’s that saying…. “birds of a feather flock together,” it is all so true.
By last Friday, a report on Mayor de Blasio written by Juan Gonzalez from the NY Daily News came out, and it is my opinion that de Blasio made some bold statements that he needs to uphold. He should not cave in to Moskowitz or Cuomo. This article can be found here. On charter schools, “We would never take our kids out of (public) school for a political purpose, and that’s what it was,” de Blasio said. “I think anyone who helped organize those protests [against Success Academy’s not being given free space] took advantage of those kids and used them as political pawns.” The city’s cooperation “comes with some rules,” he said. “We expect (charter schools) to represent the same population as in the district they are housed, meaning just as many English-language learners, just as many special ed kids, (and) not move out kids who don’t test as well.” Finally on this issue, “there was an election,” de Blasio added. “I said what I believed in. We’re (implementing) these policies. They can protest like anyone else, but we’re following through on a vision that I put forward to the people of this city.” I know many have a problem with our mayor for so many things. I personally do not agree with everything he says or does. However, in general, I have found that it is impossible to please everyone, but we either have to make do or fight back. I choose to fight back.
So now we get to why this issue is near and dear to me, I will start by saying that I know what it is like to be in co-location with Moskowitz. Her chain of Success Academy schools began in my building eight years ago. She has gutted my District 75 school over and over. During these eight The “Evil” MORE Must Fight « Movement of Rank and File Educators:

Teachers grow more unhappy with Common Core changes - Renton Reporter

Teachers grow more unhappy with Common Core changes - Renton Reporter:

Teachers grow more unhappy with Common Core changes

Cascade Elementary students in Hilary Vargas’  fourth-grade class work on a writing assignment. - Courtesy Renton School District
Cascade Elementary students in Hilary Vargas’ fourth-grade class work on a writing assignment.
— Image Credit: Courtesy Renton School District
Teachers and staff in the Renton School District are expressing their frustrations about a lack of support for aligning curriculum with the new national reading, writing and math standards adopted by Washington state.
At a recent school board meeting on Dec. 10, four teachers spoke during the comment period, one near tears, addressing problems with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The standards are academic benchmarks for reading and math that lay out what students should know and do at each grade level and after high school.
Fighting back tears, Katie Thorleifson, a teacher at Campbell Hill Elementary, reported that 11 out of 14 teachers informally surveyed at her school said they have thought about quitting.
The teachers spoke of a lack of curriculum for the Common Core Standards, changing leadership at their schools, low morale, a lack of training on the standards, increasing teacher/student ratios, problems with technology and a lack of the teachers’ voice in major decisions.
“They are at the tipping point; there’s so much piled on them that they are at their last straw,” said Cami Kiel in an interview Dec. 16. She is the president of the teacher’s union, the Renton Education Association. Kiel also offered her testimony at the school board of what she’s hearing from teachers.
Teachers have expressed concern about their colleagues and there’s minimal and very limited tools to align the Common Core Standards, she said.
“When we finally do adopt the curriculum, there’s no time for teachers to sit down and learn it,” said Kiel.
A substitute teacher shortage is also contributing to these issues as teachers can’t break away from their classrooms to get the training they need on the new standards. However, the district administration is aware of the problems and interested in listening to the concerns, Kiel said.
“They are really interested in problem-solving, but there are so many problems where do we begin,” she said.
The district has been working with teams of teachers for many months to adjust Renton’s Teachers grow more unhappy with Common Core changes - Renton Reporter: