Latest News and Comment from Education

Monday, January 5, 2015 - Proposed Rule Document Feds Takeover Teacher Training - Proposed Rule Document:

Deadline in 4 Weeks: A Letter to Educators (Part II)

Last week, I published a piece calling educators to action about a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) working its way through the US Department of Education: Deadline in 5 Weeks: A Letter to Educators. The post received a personal record-breaking 8,635 hits last week – and for that I thank you for sharing! However, out of all those people, only 126 even looked at site to possibly post a comment – that’s only 1%.
We can do better.
Now, the number of comments on the NPRM have gone up from 71 to 272. Out of 272 comments, 5 are in favor of the proposed changes. That’s almost 3%. The rest, a full 97%, are AGAINST the NPRM. That’s good, but we need so many more than that. We need thousands of comments, not hundreds, to even make a dent.
urge you to post a comment, and soon.
But if you cannot, and I am sure that with so many of you back in session this week your time is extremely limited, I am planning to write up a comment that will also take the form of a petition so that others can sign on in agreement against the proposed rule changes.
Please post a comment to the US Department of Education HERE; share the information with as many as possible through facebook, newsletters, newspapers, etc (you all have my permission to use last week’s post however you see fit, but please give credit), and pass the word along to as many as you can – and in as many states as you can – about my upcoming comment. We only have 4 weeks to do this.. so let’s do it!

Deadline in 5 weeks: A Letter to Educators

Dear Educators,
In just five weeks time, a deadline concerning teacher preparation programs – on a national scale – will pass… will you have educated yourself on the issue and made your opinion known? Recently,the ED “announced” new guidelines that many were not happy with; I put quotes aroundannounced because it was actually announced years before in the Federal Register, but many educators missed it… years later, just days before the new guidelines are effective, many teachers and parents are left wondering how they could have missed it, if there is there anything that can be done in these final days, and how can they make their opposition known.
Sadly, the boat may have sailed for those rule changes. However, there is a new boat on the horizon that you shouldn’t miss…
Don’t let the implementation dates in 2017-2019 fool you, this is a normal implementation timeline – and you don’t want to be left scratching your head in a couple years wondering where the new legislation came from. If you have an opinion, let it be known now – while there is still time to make alterations.. or scrap the rule changes all together.
I read through most of the 200-page proposal. It gave me a headache. To save you that, I have outlined the changes below – this outline is obviously not exhaustive, but it highlights the main issues others have had after reading such a long-winded draft. And there is opposition – mostly opposition – almost complete opposition. Of the 71 public comments available so far, only one – ONE – was positive.
To give you some warning, this is what some people are saying about this proposed legislation:
“[It] is at best unworkable.”
“[It is] likely to produce dire unintended consequences for public schools”
“This proposal uses flawed tools and will do great damage”
“the proposed new regulations … would be an unmitigated disaster.”
“These regulations are both dangerous and irresponsible.”
“Some of this is benign, some of it is deceptive, and some of it is rank foolishness.”
“I find the proposal … horrendous.”
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) re: Teacher Preparation Issues…
To paraphrase the summary for this rule change, Duncan proposes:
(1) that annual State report cards provide more meaningful data on the performance of each teacher preparation program in the State, and
(2) to amend the regulations governing the TEACH Grant Program to consider teacher preparation program quality when determining a program’s eligibility to participate in the TEACH Grant Program and to update, clarify, and improve the current regulations
The reason behind these changes is that the Federal Government feels that “[current] State and IHE reporting requirements have not produced information that is sufficiently helpful to programs, the public, or the Secretary in improving low-performing teacher preparation.” As such, “Rather than focusing on outcome measures of program quality, the title II reporting system currently relies on States to establish their own indicators of program effectiveness”.
The ED states that the goal of this proposed legislation would provide “access to more meaningful indicators of teacher preparation program performance.” By establishing these changes, the ED would be “Creating a feedback loop between school districts and higher education [that] will not only facilitate program improvement, but will also provide information that can be used, for example, by potential employers to guide their hiring decisions and by prospective teachers to guide their application decisions.”
It all kind of sounds like unicorns and rainbows, right? I mean, more access to how a teacher prep program is doing sounds like an excellent idea to students that are deciding where to go to grad school, to employers hiring new graduates, and to the public as a whole for providing a means to make sure their public institutions of higher education (IHEs) are doing a good job preparing teachers to educate their children.
But how does the Federal Government measure program performance? How do they define these “meaningful indicators”? Therein lies the ruse. First, the Federal Government, and not the States, will be supplying these definitions. Second, to provide consistency, these definitions are aligned with Departmental initiatives such as Race to the Top. And third, and possibly the biggest thorn of all, these indicators would link test scores of K-12 students to the institutions that trained the teacher – and allow the use VAM to do it.
The four meaningful indicators:
  1. Student learning outcomes: would be defined as data on the aggregate learning outcomes of students taught by new teachers trained by each teacher preparation program in the State.
    This would be measured by student growth, which would be newly defined as the change
    in student achievement in tested grades and subjects, as well as the change in student
    achievement in non-tested grades and subjects for an individual student between two or
    more points in time. The draft also states that this measurement could be a simple
    comparison of achievement between two points in time or a more complex “value-added
    Student achievement would be determined using
    (a) a student’s score on the State’s assessments, and,
    (b) as appropriate, other measures of student learning described in the definition of
    “student achievement in non-tested grades and subjects” that are rigorous and
    comparable across schools and consistent with State requirements.
    For non-tested grades and subjects, achievement would be determined by measures of
    student learning and performance, such as students’ results on pre-tests and end-of-
    course-tests, objective performance-based assessments, student learning objectives,
    student performance on English language proficiency assessments, and other measures
    of student achievement, that are rigorous and comparable across schools and consistent
    with State requirements.
  2. Employment outcomes: defined to include the teacher placement rate, the teacher placement rate calculated for high-need schools, the teacher retention rate, and the teacher retention rate calculated for high-need schools.
    In addition, a State could, at its discretion, assess traditional and alternative route teacher
    preparation programs differently based on whether there are differences in the programs
    that affect employment outcomes, provided that varied assessments result in equivalent
    levels of accountability and reporting.
  3. Survey outcomes: is defined as qualitative and quantitative data collected through survey instruments, including, but not limited to, a teacher survey and an employer survey, designed to capture perceptions of whether new teachers who are employed as teachers in their first year of teaching in the State where the teacher preparation program is located have the skills needed to succeed in the classroom.
  4. Accreditation or State Approval To Provide Teacher Candidates With Content and Pedagogical Knowledge and Quality Clinical Preparation and as Having Rigorous Teacher Candidate Entry and Exit Qualifications: this would be a determination of whether:
    (a) the teacher preparation program is accredited by a specialized accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary for accreditation of professional teacher education programs or, alternatively,
    (b) that the program:
    1. Produces teacher candidates with content and pedagogical knowledge;
    2. Produces teacher candidates with quality clinical preparation; and
    3. Produces teacher candidates who have met rigorous teacher candidate entry and exitqualifications.
Now, if you didn’t quite catch the main drift of this proposal from the language above, don’t worry… they hid all that (and more) in 200 pages of legal gibberish, so even I didn’t catch on at first. But after a few hours of ripping it apart piece by piece, a couple themes became apparent to me: through this proposed legislation, the ED is crafting, and possibly controlling, teacher prep programs to their liking by explicitly defining the methods States must use to assess programs and then specifying the consequences for the “State-determined” label attached to each program (exceptional, effective, at risk, or low-performing); it is also embedding Race to the Top language into law – making it much harder to revise – even though RTTT is not law in itself, but an optional contest laid out in the ARRA of 2009 (which is Federal law); and finally, the ED is solidifying standardized testing as high-stakes for yet another group: IHEs – rating teacher prep programs almost entirely by the grades of a teacher’s students on standardized tests.
I will come out and say that I believe teacher prep programs need to be part of the move to realign our education system, and even that some of the ideas in this proposal aren’t bad at all.. but, as a whole, this is absolutely not the way to do it. The proposal should be majorly revised, or possibly scrapped, if the ED cannot dissect the draft appropriately. If you agree – or, even better, if your group or organization agrees – you can comment on the proposed regulations HERE. Don’t be sorry you never did…
And I will leave you with my favorite comment excerpt yet:
“So here’s my modest proposal: Arne Duncan has been secretary of education for six years, and in that role he is ultimately responsible for the educational progress of all U.S. students. According to the most recent PISA results, U.S. students’ scores haven’t improved on Duncan’s watch. Therefore, by Duncan’s own logic, I propose that we deprive his alma mater — Harvard University — of some federal funding for its current students because Duncan’s failure to improve U.S. PISA scores demonstrates that Harvard (which educated Duncan) is responsible for U.S. students’ flat scores on the PISA exam. If Duncan and Harvard don’t like the logic of my modest proposal, then Duncan should withdraw his proposed scheme for rating teacher preparation programs based on the educational outcomes of their alumni’s students, as my logic simply tracks his own.”
— Sarah Blaine, parentingthecore blog

Susan Schneider

On The Education Enterprise

Off the Beaten Gadfly – the Best Education Blog Pieces You Never Read in 2014 | gadflyonthewallblog

Off the Beaten Gadfly – the Best Education Blog Pieces You Never Read in 2014 | gadflyonthewallblog:

Off the Beaten Gadfly – the Best Education Blog Pieces You Never Read in 2014

Wonderfull illusion art painting
So you’re interested in education.

You’ve read your Diane Ravich. You peruse Peter Greene’s blog with your morning coffee. You have a Badass Teachers Association jersey on under your button down work shirt and tie.
But you need something more.
Well, friend, have I got a treat for you!
Please to enjoy Gadflyonthewallblog! This is the site where all the cool intellectuals go – the folks who want an edge to fight corporate school reform.
You probably already read Gadfly’s Top 10 Posts of 2014. That wouldn’t get by a discerning customer like you. But have you seen this – Gadfly Deep Tracks?
That’s right! These are the five posts selected by the author that maybe didn’t get the page views of the popular articles but are really worth your time.
Take a look. There’s some really good stuff here!
So for your continued edification, elucidation and just plain old enjoyment, I present to you the Top 5 Gadfly Rarities:


Views: 50  shutterstock_pickpocket
Publication: July 22
Description: Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall and listen to a secret meeting of corporate education reformers to hear what they REALLY think? Well, here’s your chance. I came across a conservative think tank paper that outlines ways to manipulate school boards to reduce teachers pension benefits. It’s all right here: Teach for America, Disaster Capitalism, Reducing School Budgets, etc. This is a smoking gun.
Fun Facts: My first post. It’s where I got the name for my blog. I thought this was really important, but not many people saw it. Here’s my attempt to change that.


Views: 152  Labor-Unions
Publication: Nov. 1
Description: Why do some people hate labor unions so much? Maybe it’s because they don’t understand them. In this article I outline the philosophy behind unions and debunk many common criticisms.
Fun Facts: Strong union folks loved this. Randi Weingarten was a fan. But it never gained the audience I feel it deserves. This is important. At best, it’s a way to Off the Beaten Gadfly – the Best Education Blog Pieces You Never Read in 2014 | gadflyonthewallblog:

Repercussions of Losing Part-Time Resource Classes for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities

Repercussions of Losing Part-Time Resource Classes for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities:


Repercussions of Losing Part-Time Resource Classes for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities

It is interesting that so many titles and posts I write involving school reform have to do with loss. The resource class for students with learning disabilities and sometimes behavioral problems is one more loss when it comes to students and their public schools.
Resource classes were designed to help students in elementary, middle and high school by providing more individualized assistance in areas like reading, English, language arts and math. They also provided classes in other subjects, sometimes, especially, at the high school level. Such classes offered an important bridge for students with mild/moderate disabilities to help them get on the right track.
Resource class teachers focused on the latest research ideas, learning strategies, accommodations, strengthening weak areas and helping students to adapt to lessons they found difficult. Teachers with special education backgrounds and certification in learning disabilities were uniquely qualified to address areas like dyslexia, reading and math disabilities, gross and fine motor skills, writing, spelling, and hyperactivity. Students with serious reading disabilities often found the resource class a place of refuge.
The resource class also helped students pick up the skills they needed to successfully spend the rest of their school day in their mainstreamed regular classes. When done right, special education resource teachers collaborated with regular education teachers to make sure students did their best in the regular classes. Indeed, part of the objective of the resource class was to arm students with the necessary tools to succeed in regular classes.
Sadly, the resource class for students with learning disabilities is on its way out, if it isn’t already gone. I am always saddened when I hear parents complain that their child Repercussions of Losing Part-Time Resource Classes for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities:

Another WI voucher school closes, calls for accountability increase « Education Votes

Another WI voucher school closes, calls for accountability increase « Education Votes:

Another WI voucher school closes, calls for accountability increase

by Colleen Flaherty
Another voucher school in the Milwaukee area is closing its doors after failing to meet state requirements. Travis Technology High Schools will no longer receive taxpayer money, and about 200 teenagers will have to find different schools to attend when winter break ends.


Don’t miss out on the kind of education, legislative and political news you can only get with EdVotes. CLICK HERE ›
This is a common story for the state’s voucher program, according to a recent study by the Wisconsin State Journal. Wisconsin has spent $139 million on school vouchers to private schools that were eventually disqualified from the state’s program. Eleven schools participating in the program were removed within a year of opening due to poor educational standards, which costs taxpayers $4.1 million.
As Gov. Scott Walker proposes to expand the program by an estimated $200 million annually, the voucher program needs to be looked at for its lack of accountability standards and transparency, said Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan who requested a review by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
“Every child in Wisconsin and across the United States deserves the right to a high-quality education,” said Pocan. “Before Governor Walker tries to expand the state’s voucher program, Wisconsin taxpayers deserve to know more about the widespread reports of discrimination against students with disabilities and the insufficient academic accountability of choice schools.”
The voucher program has a poor track record when it comes to equity concerning students with special needs. Of the approximately 21,000 students who attend private school using state-subsidized vouchers, only 1.6 percent are identified as having special education plans. By comparison, nearly 20 percent of the approximately 81,000 students enrolled in the Milwaukee Public Schools have special education plans in place.
“We owe it to every student to ensure publicly funded schools – including voucher schools – provide high-quality education and protect the rights of students with disabilities,” said Pocan.
The recently shut voucher school is one of two in Milwaukee run by Ceria M. Travis Academy Inc. CEO Dorothy Travis Moore heads with operation with her daughter, Executive Director Wilnekia Brinson, who both receive six-figure compensation packages despite the school lacking textbooks and other adequate classroom materials.
Funding these institutions that lack accountability and equity with taxpayer money don’t only hurt students who attend these schools, according to Bob Peterson, president of the Milwaukee Another WI voucher school closes, calls for accountability increase « Education Votes:

Cheating the School Kids: Corporations Don't Pay Their State Taxes, Either

Cheating the School Kids: Corporations Don't Pay Their State Taxes, Either:

Cheating the School Kids: Corporations Don't Pay Their State Taxes, Either

As a result of the decline in state tax money, education gets cut. (Photo: Sakkra Paiboon / Flickr)

An Apple executive recently said, "The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need."

It's hard for a nation to build work skills when its corporations, the beneficiaries of a half-century of public support, have largely stopped paying for education.

Most of the attention to corporate tax avoidance is directed at the nonpayment of federal taxes. But state taxes, which to a much greater extent fund K-12 education, are avoided at a stunning rate by America's biggest companies. As a result, public school funding continues to be cut, and the worsening performance of neglected schools adds fuel to the reckless demands for privatization. Inner-city schools are being devastated by this insidious process.

Chronic Nonpayment

A 2011 report by Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) showed that corporations pay less than half of their required state taxes, which in addition to K-12 educational funding provide a significant part of pension funding. More recently, the report The Disappearing Corporate Tax Base found that the percentage of corporate profits paid as state income taxes has dropped from 7 percent in 1980 to about 3 percent today.

It may be getting worse. A PayUpNow analysis of 25 of our nation's largest corporations shows a total state tax payment of 2.4%, about a third of the required tax, based on the average maximum state tax rate of 7.3%. Among them were:

----Boeing, which paid zero federal taxes last year, and about 1/50 of its required state taxes.

----Caterpillar, which paid less than a quarter of its tax bill after recently threatening to leave Illinois. Rand Paulsaid Caterpillar should get "an award" for saving money.

----Verizon, which paid about one-tenth of its required tax. A company spokesman recently said, "Verizon fully complies with all tax laws and pays its fair share of taxes."

----Google, which paid less than a quarter of its state tax bill. Referring to tax havens, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said, "I am very proud of the structure that we set up."

Starving the Public Schools

As a result of the decline in state tax money, education gets cut. Overall spending on K-12 public school students fell in 2011 for the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping records over three decades ago. The cuts have continued to the present day.

Games Corporations Play to Take Our Education Funding

A Good Jobs First report describes how companies play one state against another, holding their home states hostage for tax breaks under the threat of bolting to other states. Incompetent or complicit governors simply play along.

A related report explains the personal income tax (PIT) subsidy, through which employers simply take the state tax paid by their workers. States are pressured into such agreements to keep corporations from Cheating the School Kids: Corporations Don't Pay Their State Taxes, Either: