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Monday, January 12, 2015

More Evidence That Public Beats Private in Education

More Evidence That Public Beats Private in Education:

More Evidence That Public Beats Private in Education

2015.1.12.Buchheit.BF"In the mindset of big business, the best education is in learning how to make money off the children," writes Buchheit. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In fact, except for the debilitating effects of poverty, our public school system may be the best in the world.

The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that the U.S. ranked high, relative to other OECD countries, inreadingmath, and science (especially in reading, and in all areas better in 4th grade than in 8th grade). Some U.S. private schools were included, but a separate evaluation was done for Florida, inpublic schools only, and their results werehigher than the U.S. average.

Perhaps most significant in the NCES readingresults is that schools with less than 25% free-lunch eligibility scored higher than the average in ALL OTHER COUNTRIES.

The Obvious: Reduce Poverty and Improve Education.

What should be obvious to our legislators is apparently not. K-12 funding declined in 2011 for the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping records. A 2014 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that "States' new budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago — often far less."

It gets worse. Numerous studies have shown that pre-school helps all children to achieve more and earn more through adulthood, with the most disadvantaged benefiting the most. But the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the developed world in the percentage of 4-year-olds in early childhood education. And yet Head Start was recently hit with the worst cutbacks in its history.

The evidence for national improvement is staring us in the face, but the people in charge are ignoring facts and experience and turning instead to the corporate profit-seekers.

How Education Funding Is Put in the Hands of the Super-Rich

Tax money that should be used for education is either deferred or simply not paid, by both corporations and individuals. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, for example, has deferred $44 billion in recent years, and Boeing, Caterpillar, and Verizon are a few of the leading non-payers of state taxes, some of which would go toward public education.

Wealthy individuals, who took much of the nearly $5 trillion in stock market gains in 2013, defer taxes until they cash in the stocks, and then pay a lower capital gains rate. They can also get tax breaks by putting some of this money into their reform-minded educational foundations.

Using the Corporate Model on Our Children

Much of the vast new wealth of the super-rich is being used for the purpose of educational 'reform.' Rupert Murdoch called K-12 "a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed." Forbesadded, "The charter school movement [is] quickly becoming a backdoor for corporate profit." Most recently, the Wall Street Journal reported, "As states race to implement the Common Core academic standards, companies are fighting for a slice of the accompanying testing market, expected to be worth billions of dollars in coming years."

The result of private educational reform is seen in unproven charter schools that eat up budgetsovercharge on a per-student basis, pay CEOs many times more than their public school counterparts, and, in one case, double the pay of executives in just one year.

These are unsustainable costs for long-term educational success.

The Business of School Children

In Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren said, " a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." In the mindset of big business, the best education is in learning how to make More Evidence That Public Beats Private in Education:

AFT’s Weingarten on Secretary Duncan’s ESEA Reauthorization Remarks

AFT - American Federation of Teachers - A Union of Professionals:

AFT’s Weingarten on Secretary Duncan’s ESEA Reauthorization Remarks

WASHINGTON— Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s speech regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

"As I've said before, any law that doesn't address our biggest challenges—funding inequity, segregation, the effects of poverty—will fail to make the sweeping transformation our kids and our schools need. Today, it was promising to hear Secretary Duncan make a call for equity, stressing, as we did through the Equity and Excellence Commission, the importance of early childhood education and engaging curriculum. It was encouraging to hear him laud the hard work of educators, who have had to overcome polarization and deep cuts after a harsh recession. And it was heartening to hear him acknowledge the progress our schools have made. However, the robust progress we saw in the first 40 years after the passage of ESEA has slowed over the last 10 years.

“On testing, we are glad the secretary has acknowledged that ‘there are too many tests that take up too much time’ and that ‘we need to take action to support a better balance.’ However, current federal educational policy—No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and waivers—has enshrined a focus on testing, not learning, especially high-stakes testing and the consequences and sanctions that flow from it. That's wrong, and that’s why there is a clarion call for change. The waiver strategy and Race to the Top exacerbated the test-fixation that was put in place with NCLB, allowing sanctions and consequences to eclipse all else. From his words today, it seems the secretary may want to justify and enshrine that status quo and that's worrisome.

“Yes, we need to get parents, educators and communities the information they need. And all of us must be accountable and responsible for helping all children succeed. That's why we have suggested some new interventions, like community schools and wraparound services; project-based learning; service internships; and individual plans for over-age students, under-credited students and those who are not reading at grade level by third grade.

“If one test per year can cause an entire school to be shuttered or all the teachers fired, something is wrong with the way that test is being used. Even in the District of Columbia, where the secretary spoke from today, the school district has pulled back from the consequential nature of these tests.

"At the end of the day, the most important part of the debate shouldn't happen in big speeches. It should happen in real conversations with parents, students and teachers, who are closest to the classroom. Communities understand the huge positive effect ESEA had for impoverished and at-risk communities 50 years ago. Those communities are saying loudly and clearly that they want more supports for students and schools, and data used to inform and improve, not sanction. It's my hope that, in the coming weeks, leaders in Congress and the administration will listen to these voices and shape a law that reflects the needs of all our kids."

Postscript: An advanced copy of Secretary Duncan’s remarks today included a quote from Albert Shanker, former president of the AFT, on accountability. To this, Weingarten responded, “If the secretary wants to invoke Shanker on accountability, then invoke him on his proposals for grade-span over annual testing. Shanker once called for ‘an immediate end to standardized tests as they are now,’ instead favoring testing over five-year intervals.”

LeBrun: A disaster dressed up as 'reform' - Times Union

LeBrun: A disaster dressed up as 'reform' - Times Union:

LeBrun: A disaster dressed up as 'reform'

"I'm big on knowing what I don't know ... If you don't know, don't dabble.
— Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the decision to ban fracking in the state.

Cynics among us might snort that this classic platitude from the dark prince is yet another example of his word rising to nothing more than the essential stuff that grows mushrooms best.
I prefer to see it as a rare example of blinding insight, which the governor does everything he can to suppress.
Properly and justly dealing with the considerable problems of public education in this state has been his greatest failure.
But he continues to fiercely dabble in it anyway, because he can. Now he's trying to convince us that by giving him more power and taking key decisions away from local school boards, he can "reform" public education. In reality what he proposes is a formula for disaster.
Additionally, he says that in the coming legislative session he aims to pin the tail on the wrong donkey yet again — on teachers, for failures in student achievement. They and their union had the audacity not to support him in the last election, and they have to be punished. Never missing a chance to bully your enemies is a Cuomo trademark.
Where that tail actually belongs is well within the governor's reach. Chronic underfunding of public education by the state, particularly in high needs districts, has become scandalous and is entirely in the governor's hands to correct.
Half the school districts in the state, including most of those high needs districts, are getting less state aid today than they got in 2008.
It seems that the governor is trying to starve traditional public education. It's more than just being tone deaf to public education and prone to listening, not for the first time, to the wrong people. He's caught up in the national, deeply conservative charter school movement, dear to the hearts of the 1 percent in this country.
The cynics I mentioned earlier might see this as a grand design to prepare the field for privatizing public schools with more charters at taxpayer expense; which would accomplish another Cuomo trademark gesture, rewarding his biggest donors, those hedge fund billionaires who wolfishly look at public education in New York as a profit making opportunity.
As to public school funding by the state, we're in crisis, and something's got to give. As we go forward in 2015 with a $5 billion state budget surplus, if a significant portion is not applied to the deepening imbalance that is crippling public education, to help relieve the pressure on LeBrun: A disaster dressed up as 'reform' - Times Union:

Education Secretary Says Administration Is Committed to Testing -

Education Secretary Says Administration Is Committed to Testing -

Education Secretary Says Administration Is Committed to Testing


With debates about the appropriate role for the federal government in public education increasingly polarized, the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, insisted on Monday that the administration would not back away from annual testing for students and performance evaluations of teachers based in part on the results of the tests.
In a speech on Monday to outline the administration’s priorities for a revision of No Child Left Behind, the signature Bush-era education law, Mr. Duncan said that “parents, teachers and students have both the right and the need to know how much progress all students are making each year towards college- and career-readiness.”
Annual testing has become a point of contention in the often-bitter discussions about how best to improve public education.
In July, the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers’ union, called for an end to mandated yearly testing, and a growing group of parents and educators has been pushing back against what they see as rampant testing and test preparation.
In August, Mr. Duncan said that testing issues were “sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools” and allowed states to delay using test scores in teacher evaluations.
The requirement that schools test students every year in reading and math between third and eighth grade and once in high school was enshrined in the No Child Left Behind Act. The tests were intended as a way for schools to see whether all student groups, but particularly minorities and poor students, were being taught adequately.
That law, which governs how $23.3 billion in federal education funding is spent and was passed with bipartisan fanfare in 2001, has been up for reauthorization since 2007. So far, Congress has been unable to agree on a new version. The House passed a bill in 2013, but the Senate version did not make it out of the Education Committee.
In a telephone interview Sunday night, Mr. Duncan said the primary purpose of the education law was to guarantee that public school students all have a chance at educational and economic mobility.
“Is this simply a good idea for some or is it important for all?” he said. “I don’t think any of us should feel comfortable if we’re going to just do Education Secretary Says Administration Is Committed to Testing -

4 ways privatization is ruining our education system -

4 ways privatization is ruining our education system -

4 ways privatization is ruining our education system

Its most deleterious effect: The proliferation of charter schools means underperforming children get left behind

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
AlterNetProfit-seeking in the banking and health care industries has victimized Americans. Now it’s beginning to happen in education, with our children as the products.
There are good reasons – powerful reasons – to stop the privatization efforts before the winner-take-all free market creates a new vehicle for inequality. At the very least we need the good sense to slow it down while we examine the evidence about charters and vouchers.
1. Charter Schools Have Not Improved Education
The recently updated CREDO study at Stanford revealed that while charters have made progress since 2009, their performance is about the same as that of public schools. The differences are, in the words of the National Education Policy Center, “so small as to be regarded, without hyperbole, as trivial.” Furthermore, the four-year improvement demonstrated by charters may have been due to the closing of schools that underperformed in the earlier study, and also by a variety of means to discourage the attendance of lower-performing students.

Ample evidence exists beyond CREDO to question the effectiveness of charter schools (although they continue to have both supporters and detractors). In Ohio, charters were deemed inferior to traditional schools in all grade/subject combinations. Texas charters had a much lower graduation rate in 2012 than traditional schools. In Louisiana, where Governor Bobby Jindal proudly announced that “we’re doing something about [failing schools],” about two-thirds of charters received a D or an F from the Louisiana State Department of Education in 2013. Furthermore, charters in New Orleans rely heavily on inexperienced teachers, and even its model charter school Sci Academy has experienced a skyrocketing suspension rate, the second highest in the city. More trouble looms for the over-chartered city in a lawsuitfiled by families of disabled students contending that equal educational access has not been provided for their children.
2. The Profit Motive Perverts the Goals of Education
Forbes notes: “The charter school movement began as a grassroots attempt to improve public education. It’s quickly becoming a backdoor for corporate profit.” A McKinsey report estimates that education can be a $1.1 trillion business in the United States. Meanwhile, state educational funding continues to be cut, and budget imbalances are worsened by the transfer of public tax money to charter schools.
Education funding continues to be cut largely because corporations aren’t paying their state taxes.
So philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch and Jeff Bezos and the Walton family, who have little educational experience among them, and who have little accountability to the public, are riding the free-market wave and promoting “education reform” with lots of standardized testing.
—–Just Like the Fast-Food Industry: Profits for CEOs, Low Wages for the Servers
Our nation’s impulsive experiment with privatization is causing our schools to look more like boardrooms than classrooms. Charter administrators make a lot more money than their public school counterparts, and their numbers are rapidly increasing. Teachers, on the other hand, are paid less, and they have fewer years of experience and a higher turnover rate. The patriotic-sounding “Teach for America” charges public school districts $3,000 to $5,000 per instructor per year. Teachers don’t get that money, business owners do.
—–Good Business Strategy: Cut Employees, Use Machines to Teach
The profit motive also leads to shortcuts in the educational methods practiced on our children. Like “virtual” instruction. The video-game-named Rocketship Schools have $15/hour instructors monitoring up to 130 kids at a timeas they work on computers. In Wisconsin, half the students in virtual settings are attending schools that are not 4 ways privatization is ruining our education system -

Mandates of and from Our Hearts | Poetic Justice

Mandates of and from Our Hearts | Poetic Justice:

Mandates of and from Our Hearts

We are being mandated to death. A mandate is an official order, a commission to do something, a law. I am tired of official orders and of commissions and of the law. I need the mandate paradigm to be shifted now.
I am sitting in front of a blank screen on this Sunday evening – almost Monday morning – just thinking about the mandates we educators are under. We have mandates from our school, our departments, our district, our state, and, yes, from the government. We have mandates to test our young children and mandates to write up goals on our own evaluations based on those tests. We have mandates to enter data every month, every week, every day, and every period of every day. We have mandates to meet in data teams to manipulate and further extrapolate more data from the data. We educators are being mandated to death.
Then I began thinking about the mandates our children are under. They are mandated to attend school and to pursue an education. They are mandated to take evaluative and standardized tests. Then they are mandated to sit in review sessions if they do not pass the tests. They are mandated to practice taking tests so that they can pass the end of the year mandated standardized test. They are mandated to be obedient and compliant and they are mandated to dress and act according to school, district, state, and federal codes. They are mandated to sit in meetings if they do not pass the tests. They are mandated to be college and career ready. And they are mandated to take tests to see if they are college and career ready before, during, and after they are in college or on a career path. Our students are being mandated to death.
I remember when the new mandate paradigm first appeared in my school. I was told in no uncertain terms that our reading/writing program could no longer exist and that we had to adopt a comprehensive school curriculum where all grades and all subjects would all be doing the same thing at the same time according to the new curriculum. This was my first mandate and it broke my heart because it destroyed years of successful creative and innovative Mandates of and from Our Hearts | Poetic Justice: