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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Battle Over the Reauthorization of NCLB and 2016 Presidential Politics. | Ed In The Apple

The Battle Over the Reauthorization of NCLB and 2016 Presidential Politics. | Ed In The Apple:

The Battle Over the Reauthorization of NCLB and 2016 Presidential Politics.

Hours after the November election talking heads began musing: why did the Democratic voters abandon the party? A large chunk of the Democratic voters are teachers, the heart and core of the party and living in each and every congressional district. The Duncan-Obama policies have angered and alienated teachers for years; however, a Democratic strategist told me, “Where are teachers going to go? Not the Republicans.” He was wrong, they had someplace else to go, they could stay home.
The progressive wing of the Democratic Party leads the education reform movement; Arne Duncan became the archangel, the spear carrier of the federal assault on public schools, parents and teachers. Annual high-stakes testing, punitive teacher evaluation and Duncan’s cheering the Vergara decision to strip teachers of tenure, all from the Obama administration playbook.
2014 was a Democratic disaster, record low turnouts and teachers staying home or voting for a third party.
Across the nation there is a cyber-revolution, blogs and tweets and Facebook pages reach millions of readers, teachers and public school parents. Long Island Opt Out (See Facebook page) has over 20,000 members, the Network for Public Education (NPE) has over two hundred bloggers who spin out post after post and tweet after tweet. What is so fascinating is this cyber-revolution was not organized by teacher unions; it is truly a grassroots movement, blog by blog, tweet by tweet.
Education moved from the back burner to become the darling of the progressives and the reaction, the pushback, has grown from an annoyance to a tsunami.
Millions of angry teachers and parents, locally organized on cyber platforms: where will they go in 2016?
Suddenly the long simmering reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has major political implications.
Should the Republicans pass a bill that the president can sign, or, craft a bill that he is likely to veto?
Should the Democrats support Republican bills or urge the president to veto a The Battle Over the Reauthorization of NCLB and 2016 Presidential Politics. | Ed In The Apple:

THE NEXT SUPERINTENDENT: L.A. Unified must decide on an insider or outsider as its next chief and whether to embrace aggressive reform

4LAKids - some of the news that doesn't fit: THE NEXT SUPERINTENDENT: L.A. Unified must decide on an insider or outsider as its next chief and whether to embrace aggressive reform:

THE NEXT SUPERINTENDENT: L.A. Unified must decide on an insider or outsider as its next chief and whether to embrace aggressive reform


January 7, 2015. 4:00 AM  ::  As a three-term Colorado governor, Roy Romer, a Democrat, had to deal with a combative Republican majority in his state Legislature. He later headed his party's fractious national committee.
But nothing was as difficult, he said, as running the Los Angeles Unified School District.
"Educating kids in a large urban city is difficult by default," said Romer, who headed L.A. Unified for six years. "You have a whole lot of social and economic pressures. … Los Angeles is especially tough because it's so large, so diverse."
And so political, he said.
In the eight years since Romer left, the school system has changed top leaders four times, including the October departure of John Deasy, who left under pressure.
The nation's second-largest school system now finds itself at a crossroads. Does the system go with a leader from the inside who knows the system and its players? Or does it go with an outsider who would be charged with making rapid progress and difficult decisions while working to understand a byzantine bureaucracy?
For decades, leading L.A. Unified has involved managing factions vying for leverage, including the teachers union, administrators and civic leaders. The job has become further complicated by competing visions of the best way to improve schools — a debate that has raged nationwide.
"I don't know who's going to take Los Angeles," former New York City schools Chancellor Joel Klein said. "I'm not sure they're going to want someone who's regarded as an aggressive reformer and people who are aggressive reformers may be reluctant."
Klein is among the civic and corporate elite who praise leaders such as Deasy, a veteran superintendent who arrived from a senior post at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with a "reform" mantra for rapid change. The former Los Angeles superintendent favored forceful strategies, including replacing the faculty of schools with persistently low test results and using students' scores in teacher evaluations.
Some of these superintendents have had limited tenures; most have faced pushback from employee unions and community activists. Los Angeles superintendents have been undone for a variety of reasons.
Former Supt. Ruben Zacarias, for example, was pushed out because he was widely regarded as an insider who was unwilling or unable to challenge colleagues with whom he spent his entire career. Later, outsider David Brewer, a retired admiral, pledged to shake things up. But he never mastered the district's complexities and politics, in the view of senior district officials and civic leaders.
When Deasy left, former Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, 82, returned. He said he is willing to remain until a replacement is found; a search is unlikely to start before the end of the school year.
By then, elections for four of seven board seats will have concluded. A new board majority will have to agree on whom it wants and what it wants. That dynamic, however, could change all over again in election cycles that occur every two years.
"A superintendent is a political appointee. That's all he really is," said board member George McKenna, who served as superintendent in Inglewood Unified for six years. "The board picks him — that is a political decision and the board uses that person to promote political agendas."
It follows, he added, that "the demise of the superintendent-board relationship is the biggest reason superintendents lose their job."
Urban superintendents also face the challenge of dealing with large numbers of the lowest achieving students — in Los Angeles, many of them don't speak English fluently. Even so, school chiefs are expected to show rapid progress.
And yet there's no proof that any big-city district has closed the gap in achievement that separates poor Latino and black students from white, Asian and wealthier students, said Russ Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution. He said research also suggests that superintendents have less effect on test scores than educators closer to the classroom.
Like his recent predecessors, Deasy oversaw student achievement gains. In addition, student attendance improved and suspensions, especially for minority boys, dropped sharply. He had backing from philanthropists, key civic leaders and wealthy out-of-town donors.
Those supporters say the Board of Education needs to look for a leader who will prove just as impatient on behalf of students.
"We need another superintendent to make gains as great and as quickly as John Deasy," said Bruce Reed, president of the Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation.
But such superintendents can overreach, said Jeffrey R. Henig, an education professor at Teachers College of Columbia University.
"Pushing too hard and too fast puts district leaders at risk of backlash — not just from the recalcitrant and self-interested, but from potential allies who could be won over with a more incremental and inclusive approach," Henig said.
An internal candidate would have some advantages, said David Bloomfield, professor of education leadership at Brooklyn College. "It's less about national leadership and experience as a superintendent and more about somebody who really knows the local district and can work 4LAKids - some of the news that doesn't fit: THE NEXT SUPERINTENDENT: L.A. Unified must decide on an insider or outsider as its next chief and whether to embrace aggressive reform:

Jeb Bush education foundation played leading role in mixing politics, policy - The Washington Post

Jeb Bush education foundation played leading role in mixing politics, policy - The Washington Post:

Jeb Bush education foundation played leading role in mixing politics, policy

 January 6 at 6:33 PM  
An employee of Jeb Bush’s education foundation was unequivocal when New Mexico’s top schools official needed someone to pay her travel costs to Washington to testify before Congress: The foundation would give her “whatever she needs.”
When Maine’s education commissioner, Stephen Bowen, lamented that he could not persuade the state legislature to expand online learning in schools, a foundation employee assured him that Bush “will probably want to engage Governor [Paul] LePage directly to express our support for efforts to advance a bold agenda.”
The exchanges, revealed in e-mails from 2011 and 2012, illustrate the leading role Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education has played in many states since its creation in 2008, following the Republican’s two terms as governor of Florida.
The foundation has forged an unusual role mixing politics and policy — drafting legislation and paying travel expenses for state officials, lobbying lawmakers, and connecting public officials with industry executives seeking government contracts.
It also has sustained, and even expanded, Bush’s influence in the years since he left office and would no doubt be a focal point of his likely presidential campaign — one in which he would portray himself as a candidate with intellectual heft and a record of reform on an issue that affects millions of Americans.
But the foundation, from which Bush resigned as chairman last week as part of his preparations for a possible White House bid, has been criticized as a backdoor vehicle for major corporations to urge state officials to adopt policies that would enrich the companies.
The foundation has, for instance, pushed states to embrace digital learning in public schools, a costly transition that often requires new software and hardware. Many of those digital products are made by donors to Bush’s foundation, including Microsoft, Intel, News Corp., Pearson PLC and K12 Inc..
The foundation has helped its corporate donors gain access to state education officials through a committee called Chiefs for Change, composed of as many as 10 officials from mostly Republican-led states who convene at the foundation’s annual meeting. The meetings include private two-hour gatherings with the officials and company executives.
Patricia Levesque, the Bush foundation’s chief executive, said the group does not endorse donors’ products or get involved in sales, saying that “we promote policies” but are “neutral on the providers.” She said the foundation raises money from corporate donors like any other nonprofit organization.
“There are businesses who sponsor our event just like they sponsor any other event, whether it’s board gatherings or teachers-union gatherings,” she said. “We have a definite viewpoint on policy, and our sponsors tend to share it.”
Education and 2016
The foundation is likely to become a major point of contention in a Republican primary if Bush runs. The former governor will almost certainly single out the organization as evidence of his dedication to improving public schools, particularly those in poor and minority communities, by fighting what he calls “government-run, unionized, politicized monopolies” that “trap good teachers, administrators and struggling students in a system that nobody can escape.”
But many conservatives have become skeptical of national efforts to Jeb Bush education foundation played leading role in mixing politics, policy - The Washington Post:

New Years Resolutions from Democrats for Public Education - Democrats For Public Education

New Years Resolutions from Democrats for Public Education - Democrats For Public Education:

New Years Resolutions from Democrats for Public Education

Democrats For Public Education

 As we ring in 2015, Democrats for Public Education offers the following New Years Resolutions - for those who believe in strong neighborhood public schools. We’re committed to spending 2015 fighting to make sure every child has access to a high-quality public education, with well-prepared and supported teachers. And we hope you will join us!

We resolve to fight for fair and full funding for our public schools.Public education – for all children – is both an economic necessity and a fundamental civil right. Schools should be about learning, not profit. All across the country, Republican governors and legislators are trying to gut education funding. And privatization schemes seek to siphon precious tax dollars into the hands of private, profit-seeking entities. Public education should not be a real estate bonanza for hedge fund managers. And the education of America’s children should not be cynically perceived as a tantalizing financial opportunity. We will continue fighting so taxpayer dollars go towards funding education, rather than corporate profits, CEO’s or advertising budgets.
We resolve to defend children against the destructive over-emphasis on high-stakes testing.Because science, social studies, art and music should not take a back seat to test prep. Because an increasingly narrow curriculum wrapped around standardized tests will produce citizens with narrow, standardized knowledge – not the creative, innovative thinkers America needs to compete in the global 21st century economy. And because using noisy, unreliable test data to evaluate teachers and schools is a disservice to the heard-working men and women people who have dedicated their lives to teaching and caring for our children.
We resolve to dispel misinformation about school reform.
In growing numbers, parents throughout the United States are saying “enough is enough” to reforms that demoralize educators, weaken neighborhood schools and soften the ground for those who are more interested in developing new revenue streams than fostering education. For far too long, a coordinated effort has been successful in framing a radical, false narrative that the Democratic Party is evenly spilt among those who stand strongly for public schools and those who believe public schools are detrimental to student success. This is simply untrue. With a few extremist, well-funded, vocal exceptions, Democrats remain united around a basic set of beliefs when it comes to educating our children. And we will continue showing that this is the case.
We resolve to bring people together to ensure America’s public school system endures – and thrives – for generations to come.This is about standing up for our principles, standing up for teachers, standing up for kids and standing up for public education. We will hold to account all those who seek to pull support from our neighborhood schools and leave our communities in the lurch. We’ve already received strong early backing from thousands of leaders and activists at all levels of government, from communities coast-to-coast and in every single one of the fifty states. We look forward to continue lifting up public education in America and fulfilling our collective obligation to helping all children succeed.
We invite you to join us in affirming these resolutions throughout 2015!
For more information – and to sign up as a supporter – please visit You can also follow Democrats for Public Education on Twitter (@Dems4PublicEd) and on Facebook (
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, January, 7th, 2015
Contact: Joshua Henne, 732-407-5938

Fourth Generation Teacher: Yes, I Read Nonfiction...My Top Ten of 2014

Fourth Generation Teacher: Yes, I Read Nonfiction...My Top Ten of 2014:

Yes, I Read Nonfiction...My Top Ten of 2014

These blogs are inspired by my friend and reading buddy, Nancy Flanagan. I learn so much from her, and we often appreciate the same books. We share our reading and keep each other honest. She is a treasure in my life. She posted a blog about education books she’d read this year, and I saw some books we read in common. Love her take on books.

My husband and I are both librarians…I’ve worked in schools and he’s taught in Universities. We both love to read. We literally have books in every room of our house…the laundry room is the last stop for books to be donated. We love to read and have sat together happily reading…completely different kinds of books…for nearly 50 years.

Bob teases me about my love of fiction, and I shake my head at the strange nonfiction turns his reading takes. We have read and enjoyed books together: Twain’s Letters from the Earth (as college students we actually bought two copies because the current reader would giggle too much and the partner could not stand to be left out), Killing Mr. Watson, by Peter Mathiesson, a wonderful crossover of fiction based on the life of Belle Starr. I also think we read The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance together years ago.

So, Bob expects me to read nothing but fiction and last year was surprised that I actually included nonfiction on my Top Ten.

This year I’ve done one better…a Top Ten Nonfiction list! Drum roll, please. Now, in all honesty, my new-found love of audible books really helped my nonfiction reading, as did a couple of research projects related to fiction reading, but Look at Me! I read nonfiction.

I will always read books on education, and four made my list…nearly half of my total

The Educator and the Oligarch, by Anthony Cody, is a fierce look at Bill Gates and his Foundation. Cody took on the education reformer early, and had several exchanges with folks from the Foundation. This book is a masterful compilation of these conversations, as well as a deep history of Gates’ work dismantling education. I said when I reviewed it that my favorite part was his evaluation rubric of Gates’ work in education reform. Still makes me giggle. I wrote a blog post here, with some background on Cody and his influences on my own education life.

The Teacher Wars by Dana Goldstein was enlightening. I remember stumbling into my History of Education course at Indiana University and finding out my instructor had the reputation of blowing off the history of education. So, my background was especially weak.  I learned a ton reading this book, and Goldstein put it into context for me. The research is top-notch; the writing is elegant.  I realized I didn’t review it because I was too busy collecting 10+ pages of quotes to reflect on.  Oops.

50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education by David Berliner and Gene Glass blew me away. I haven’t felt like such a book groupie about an education book since The Myths of Standardized Tests by Harris…maybe it’s the word ‘myth’. Seriously. My copy is marked and sticky-noted. What do you say when your State Representative absolutely believes voucher will save our schools? You turn to page 41 and read the research. Not opinions. Research. Everyone who cares
about public education needs to own this book.

Bad Teacher!: How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture by Kevin Kumashiro. Like Anthony’s book, I had read some of this, or had learned it. But it was put into context here…He organizes his book through questions and then investigates each.  Kumashiro is from Chicago, and he describes their efforts to build a real consensus around the schools around four visions. That was so inspiring…I wonder how it played out under the current mayor. I don’t have the heart to check right now.

So much for my professional reading…now onto nonfiction reading for pleasure.

One of my last audible ‘books’ was actually a Great Courses lecture series: Beethoven – His Life and Music, by Robert Greenberg. When I tweeted about the ‘book’, Greenberg retweeted! Fan girl moment.! Fourth Generation Teacher: Yes, I Read Nonfiction...My Top Ten of 2014:

Another E-mail Trail: Jeb Bush's Foundation and Ed Privatization | In the Public Interest

Another E-mail Trail: Jeb Bush's Foundation and Ed Privatization | In the Public Interest:

Emails Expose Jeb Bush Foundation’s Role in Shaping State Education Policy

Emails concerning Florida, Louisiana, Maine, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Rhode Island can be found here.
Washington, D.C. – As Jeb Bush moves closer to a run for President, he continues to gain attention for a history of using his power to shape state education policy to benefit his corporate allies. Today, the Washington Post looked back at a series of emails that show how the organization that Bush led after he left the Florida governor’s office played a role in state policymaking that was disturbingly similar to that of the controversial American Legislative Exchange (ALEC).

“The exchanges, revealed in e-mails, from 2011 and 2012, illustrate the leading role Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education has played in many states since its creation in 2008, following Bush’s two terms as governor of Florida,” writes Lyndsey Layton.
The emails, obtained through public records requests and published by In the Public Interest (ITPI), a comprehensive resource center on privatization and responsible contracting, show the foundation was involved in writing state education laws and regulations in ways that could benefit its corporate funders.

“Testing companies and for-profit online schools see education as big business so if companies want to go and directly lobby officials they should go do that and not hide behind a misleading 501(c) 3 designations” said ITPI Executive Director Donald Cohen. “If Jeb Bush wants to present himself as a leader in transparency, leadership, and educational reform he will need to fully explain why his organization did this.”

The emails reveal that the organization, sometimes working through its Chiefs For Change affiliate, wrote and edited laws, regulations, and executive orders, often in ways that improved profit opportunities for the organization’s financial backers. Bush has been referred to as the “godfather” of Chiefs for Change, an alliance of conservative state superintendents and education department directors with significant authority over purchasing and policy in their states.

The emails conclusively reveal that FEE staff acted to promote their corporate funders' priorities, and demonstrate the dangerous role that corporate money plays in shaping our education policy. Correspondence in Florida, New Mexico, Maine, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Louisiana paint a troubling picture of corporate money distorting democracy.

For more information about the emails or to speak with an expert on education privatization, government contracting and oversight, contact Mark McCullough at or (202) 724-6983.