Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It Ain't the Oscars: 2015 Broadie Winners: The Annual Corporate Education Reform Awards

2015 Broadie Winners: 
The Annual Corporate Education Reform Awards

Malice in Wonderland Starring Campbell Brown with Michele Rhee, Bill Gates and Arne Duncan  

in a Leading Role
Arne Duncan starring in No Waiver for You

in a Leading Role
Eva Moskowitz in The Rent is Too Damn High

in a Supporting Role
Andy Cuomo in I Took Charter School Money

in a Supporting Role
Gloria Romero in Little Bo Peep and Her Corporate Sheep

Arne Duncan Eli Broad Bill Gate
Jacking Your Public Schools

Teachers across America are fighting for their students – Where the hell are CT’s teacher unions - Wait What?

Teachers across America are fighting for their students – Where the hell are CT’s teacher unions - Wait What?:

Teachers across America are fighting for their students – Where the hell are CT’s teacher unions

Governor Malloy has made it painfully clear – he intends to stay the course on the discriminatory, unfair and inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).
This from the Governor who said he didn’t mind teachers teaching to the test as long as the test scores went up.
The truth is that Common Core SBAC Test is rigged to ensure that the majority of Connecticut students are deemed failures.
Furthermore, the outrageous and absurd Common Core Test is particularly unfair for children of color, children who aren’t fluent in the English Language and children who require special educations services.
Despite these facts, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education voted to set the pass/fail mark at a level that as many as 7 in 10 students will fail and the State Department of Education continues to instruct local superintendents to mislead parents into believing that they do not have the fundamental right to protect their children by opting them out of this dangerous testing scheme.
But of course, parents have the fundamental right to protect their children and there is absolutely no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the state or local school districts to punish children whose parents refuse to allow their children to be abused by this Common Core testing system.
In state’s across the nation, public teachers are stepping forward and risking their jobs to say enough is enough and that the massive and inappropriate Common Core Testing Teachers across America are fighting for their students – Where the hell are CT’s teacher unions - Wait What?:

“All politics is local,” Will Governor Cuomo Listen to the Folks in the Provinces? | Ed In The Apple

“All politics is local,” Will Governor Cuomo Listen to the Folks in the Provinces? | Ed In The Apple:

“All politics is local,” Will Governor Cuomo Listen to the Folks in the Provinces?

“All politics is local,” Tip O’Neill, Speaker of the House (1977-87)
Presidents, senators, speakers of the house, governors, political parties and the hordes who spin fight for the hearts and minds of the American people, well, at least the less than half of the American people who bother to vote.
The election cycle never ends.
Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration, response to the Russians in the Ukraine, fighting ISIS, and on and on, each side tries to “win” the intellectual and visceral fight, from Fox on the right, to CNN to MSNBC on the left; however, networks and cable stations no longer have the influence they once had.
Newspaper sales decline every year, cyberspace is the battlefield. Americans get their “news” from websites, from Facebook, and, increasingly from Twitter.Hashtags rule.
Slowly and inexorably the fight over education appears to be tilting against the Obama/Duncan/Cuomo agenda.
Rubin Diaz is the Borough President of the Bronx, an anachronistic elected position, with the demise of the Board of Estimate in 1990 the borough president has no vote and no control over legislation or budgets, the borough president is the cheerleader for their borough. Diaz is highly popular and dependent on the governor, the state legislature, the mayor and the council to fund projects. In his sixth State of the Borough address, a long list of job creation achievements, new housing and economic development projects, he added the line, “Children shouldn’t be defined by one test.” The line was greeted with applause from the “All politics is local,” Will Governor Cuomo Listen to the Folks in the Provinces? | Ed In The Apple:

Are You Willing? Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

Are You Willing?

By: Larry Proffitt

 Today was a usual snow day for this educator. I visited the General Assembly to discuss education bills proposed and policies in our state. It isn't a hardship; it is my profession. If I am not willing to do everything in my power to secure good public schools, then I don't consider myself vested. It is the charge we take as educators. We prepare for our classrooms daily and teach our students about the curriculum and ideas that will lead them into the future, or do we? I think it is our intent, but policies over an extended period of time have moved the needle of our calibration methods. It has been moved in favor of almost complete dependency on test scores. What does it mean? I'll tell you my opinion. It means a tremendous amount of time is spent RACING to a test instead of delving into curriculum. What is the compromise? How about the next generation? I truly believe that is what is at stake.

I sat with a state representative today and discussed the sacrifice being made by poorly designed and thought out education policy. His question to me, "What is the end result?" It came to me clearly without a moment of thought. The next generation of our citizens will be excellent test takers, but they will fail poorly at solving the problems necessary to carry us into the future in a great democracy. Time spent on test preparation has grown exponentially over the past five years alone. It is a race, a contest or a competition. Who's school has the best scores? Is it a failing school? Are the students failing, or more importantly, in the bottom five percent? Students, teachers and schools are judged upon those scores, so we push and push. Faster paths through curriculum and standards to cover all we can is the task at hand. Creativity is sacrificed and our path ultimately becomes skewed.

How do we correct our path and stave off the test-crazed push for perfect scores? We get involved. One of the most effective teaching strategies is modeling, so we model. We talk to our board members, commission members and legislators. We sit and do not complain, but we state problems and offer solutions. It is what educators do. It is what we must do. "I just want to teach!" Yes, I've Badass Teachers Association:

Kamenetz on The Test: Can What We Measure What We Truly Value? - Living in Dialogue

Kamenetz on The Test: Can What We Measure What We Truly Value? - Living in Dialogue:

Kamenetz on The Test: Can What We Measure What We Truly Value?

 By John Thompson.

Anya Kamenetz’s The Test comes from the conversation she’s had again and again with parents. She and they have “seen how high-stakes standardized tests are stunting children’s spirits, adding stress to family life, demoralizing teachers, undermining schools, paralyzing the education debate, and gutting our country’s future competitiveness.” Like so many Gen X and Gen Y parents, Kamenetz sees how “the test obsession is making public schools … into unhappy places.”
Kamenetz covers ten arguments against testing, starting with “We’re testing the wrong things,” and ending with “The next generation of tests will make things even worse.” I’d say the second most destructive of the reasons is #4 “They are making teachers hate teaching.” The most awful is #3 “They are making students hate school and turning parents into preppers.”
The second half of Kamenetz’s great work starts with the Opt Out movement, the grassroots parent revolt. She recalls the disgusting practices that drive families to opt out. Under-the-gun schools have resorted to “petty intimidation” of eight-year-olds, even forcing a nine-year opt-outer old to watch test takers rewarded with ice cream and candy, and requiring student opt-outers to sit and stare without books or diversions for hours while classmates take tests.
Kamenetz then presents alternative approaches to high-stakes testing. She explores four different types of assessments that could replace standardized testing. In doing so, she reminds us that “…education’s purpose in the twenty-first century is to prepare students to excel at the very tasks that computers can’t master …”
We already have three alternative approaches to testing that would not require test, sort, and punish:
Team Robot tests conventional subjects (math, reading, writing) in unconventional ways (invisible, integrated, electronic).
Team Monkey tests unconventional qualities (mindset, grit) in conventional ways (multiple –choice surveys).
Team Butterfly, which Kamenetz would use as the basis for a new system, integrates learning with assessment and covers twenty-first-century skills without quantifying the outcomes in a way that’s familiar or easily comparable …
A fourth, Team Unicorn, which is still emerging, relies heavily on video games. She offers an intriguing Kamenetz on The Test: Can What We Measure What We Truly Value? - Living in Dialogue:

Partners for Corporatiziing Schools: Naming Names(Susan Ohanian Speaks Out)

Data Command Force (Susan Ohanian Speaks Out):

    Partners for Corporatiziing Schools: Naming Names

    information gathered by Susan Ohanian 

    News Item 

    HISD spent $60 million on Apollo 20, created by Harvard EdLabs'Roland Fryer. Billed as a turnaround plan for troubled schools, it was largely a test-prep program. The results were sharp declines in AP (Advanced Placement) scores, as shown by HISD's own figures; no sustained STAAR gains; and 25 percent enrollment declines in many Apollo schools. Even with such poor results, the HISD board subsequently approved another contract with EdLabs for a similar program, Leverage Leadership.-- Houston Chronicle, Feb.17, 2015

    Summary of Leverage Leadership provided by Houston Chronicle

    Leverage Leadership mandates a dramatic expansion of benchmark testing.

    • Students take four district-based assessments in the first 13 weeks of school with four more scheduled for the spring.
    • These tests are district-created with minimal teacher input and vetted by Harvard EdLabs. They often cover content not yet taught and differ substantively from the original teacher version.
    • Administrators are required to observe teachers (20 min/wk) and discuss data (30 min/wk) with each teacher. For a 15 teacher load, this translates to 2.3 hrs/day. This is more than 25% of a workday and is not inclusive of evaluation.

    LL is demoralizing students.
    • Children do not see connections between their instruction and their assessments.
    • Many schools assign students test grades for snapshots.
    • Students are discouraged by assessments that test them over content they have not yet learned.
    • The snapshots derail instruction the week prior to the snapshot as teachers only receive snapshots one week ahead of district-mandated testing windows.
    • Students from pre-K through high school are taking benchmarks.
    Leverage Leadership damages our schools.
    • Requiring administrators to spend 25% of their day on LL activities means less time for creating and monitoring a safe school environment, facilities management, and building relationships with students, faculty, staff and community.
    • This program is modeled after EdLab’s Apollo program, which saw no significant change in ELA scores, no sustained math gains, a precipitous drop in student enrollment and massive teacher turnover.

    LL is a dangerous diversion of time, energy, and resources from meaningful instruction and evaluation.

    • HISD will pay $1.25 million over two years for LL assessments and coaching.
    • Benchmarking reduces
    Data Command Force (Susan Ohanian Speaks Out):

HR 5: Student Success Act: Some Thoughts on the Testing | deutsch29

HR 5: Student Success Act: Some Thoughts on the Testing | deutsch29:

HR 5: Student Success Act: Some Thoughts on the Testing

In this post, I offer some commentary on HR 5, known as the Student Success Act (SSA), a massive piece of legislation for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), that has been approved by the House Education Committee and is headed to the House for a vote possibly as soon as Friday, February 27, 2015.
The full text of the bill (597 pages) can be found here: student_success_act_text.
Specifically, my commentary in this post concerns the mandated standardized testing detailed in the first 52 pages of SSA.
As I read these 52 pages, I did so while thinking like a lawyer.
Here goes:
On page 26, SSA notes that states must select English and math assessments that are to be used to evaluate schools. However, one of the requirements of these assessments– assessments measuring student outcomes– is that such “be used for purposes for which such assessments are valid and reliable.”
Reliability in assessment has no tie to how the assessment it used. An assessment is “reliable” to the degree that it consistently measures something.
The problem for the federal government is that no assessment designed to determine student achievement can be “validly” used to grade a school or ateacher. Thus, states can challenge SSA on this point. The burden of proof then rests with the assessment companies– if they peddle the assessment as one measuring student achievement– even if such is supposedly “aligned” to a set of achievement standards– then to advertise the assessment as useful for measuring schools or teachers is to violate validity.
By the way, I have yet to read an ad from an assessment company to the effect that their standards-aligned assessments are useful for grading schools and teachers. To advertise as much is to become legally liable.
Also regarding assessment as delineated in SSA pages 26 – 31, it is possible for states to administer such assessments without using student names on the HR 5: Student Success Act: Some Thoughts on the Testing | deutsch29:
Big Education Ape: Tell Congress: Vote NO on H.R. 5 – The Student Success Act

“Student Success Act” to Crush Religious Freedom, Private School Autonomy, Parental Rights: #NO on HR5 | COMMON CORE

“Student Success Act” to Crush Religious Freedom, Private School Autonomy, Parental Rights: #NO on HR5 | COMMON CORE:

“Student Success Act” to Crush Religious Freedom, Private School Autonomy, Parental Rights: #NO on HR5 

This one is such a betrayal.
I’ve never been so shocked and angry over a proposed Congressional bill that I burst into tears.  Not until tonight.
I’d been quietly reading and taking notes on H.R. 5, “Student Success Act” (SSA) when my husband simply, offhandedly asked me how I was doing.   Though I’d been quiet, I was boiling over as I read tucked-away portions of this 600+ page bill which,  despite the local-control-touting, anti-Common Core-sounding words (on page 10 and elsewhere), is terrible. When my husband asked how I was doing, I stood up, walked to the couch and explained through my hot, angry tears what destruction and reduction of vital freedoms will take place if this bill passes:
It ends private schools’ religious freedom from government control.  It harms funding freedom in private schools.  It puts into question parental rights and control over education.  It pushes sameness of testing.  Those are just a few things.  There are more.
We have conscious deceivers in D.C. pushing this bill:  its damages are so painfully ironic.  The bill is touted specifically to “reduce the federal footprint and restore local control while empowering parents“. What a poignant lie.
If H.R. 5 passes this week, in exchange for billions in federal funding, we will be crushed in the following ways.  The federal Department of Education aims to take over:

H.R. 5  the “Student Success Act” won’t be enforced for five years– plenty of time for its promoters to plan implementation, and for the opposition to burn out, give up, to feel there’s no way to rein it in.

Big Education Ape: Tell Congress: Vote NO on H.R. 5 – The Student Success Act

Corporatizing a Child’s Basic Needs: Another Worry

Corporatizing a Child’s Basic Needs: Another Worry:


Corporatizing a Child’s Basic Needs: Another Worry

I have been reading about the “Pay to Potty” plans in two schools where children had accidents and parents rightly got mad. You would think such a thing couldn’t have happened, and I know that in both situations the schools backed off. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the plan resurfaced again later. While these particular incidents sparked controversy with some, and others thought it was just unfortunate and no big deal, the Pay to Potty plan is right up the corporate alley of using harsh discipline to keep students in line.
Think of the revered school activities that have been discontinued under the appearance of helping students learn better. Who would have ever thought that young children would be made to sit for long periods with few breaks…tested over-and-over…with tests that will fire teachers and close schools?
Did you ever think children would lose recess? And who can believe how the use of personal information is given little consideration when it comes to student confidentiality? Strictly regulating bathroom visits seems like just another controlling feature of new corporate school reforms.
Children are viewed as products to be managed–not human beings with normal needs.
A child’s bathroom etiquette fits deceptively into this plan of harsh discipline involving children. There probably isn’t a teacher around who hasn’t dealt with a student who Corporatizing a Child’s Basic Needs: Another Worry:

Do PARCC Reading Passages Exceed Tested Grade Levels?

Do PARCC Reading Passages Exceed Tested Grade Levels?:

The apparent answer is a resounding YES.
We’ve had numerous readers contact us to share what they have discovered while looking at the publicly available PARCC practice reading tests, and the information is appalling.  Using an online tool — — we followed-up on readers’ tips and have independently analyzed the reading levels of every single passage on all of the PARCC practice reading tests.  Our analysis reveals that the majority of the passages are above the grade level for which the test is designed.  With the actual PARCC assessments hidden from public view, this analysis is all that can be performed objectively and we must assume that these tests are an accurate representation of the those that students will be taking that will determine their “ability” and be used to assign grades to Ohio’s teachers, schools, and districts.
Each grade level (3-8) has two practice tests available.  The first is the Performance-Based Assessment (PBA) that is to be given in February, and an End Of Year (EOY) test that is given in April.  The results you’ll see are reported by a number where the whole number represents the grade and the decimal represents the month.  For example, a reading level of 5.4 means that the reading selection is appropriate for the fifth grade, fourth month (i.e., approximately December of Grade 5).
It’s one thing to provide enough “stretch” on the assessments to allow advanced students to demonstrate higher ability, but when more than half of the test questions are based on these higher-level passages, even the “average” student is likely going to obtain a result that is not reflective of their true knowledge or ability (specifically see EOY assessments for grades 4-7).
The results for all of the practice test passages are below (Title of Passage, followed by reading-level analyses).
3rd Grade PBA:
3rd PBA 1 Johnny Chuck
3rd PBA 2 Me First
3rd PBA 3 A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Mark Ferrulo: Education community overwhelmingly opposes punitive testing - SaintPetersBlog

Mark Ferrulo: Education community overwhelmingly opposes punitive testing - SaintPetersBlog:

Mark Ferrulo: Education community overwhelmingly opposes punitive testing

By  on February 22, 2015
florida testing
Do you think Florida’s school accountability system, with punitive high-stakes testing and unreasonable mandates, is out of control? To teachers and other folks on the front lines in the fight to improve our public schools, it most definitely is.
Last week, more than 6,000 teachers, parents, education advocates and other concerned Floridians participated in the “Speaking Up for Students” tele-town hall sponsored by Progress Florida. The overwhelming sentiment of participants – expressed both through online polling and the town hall discussion itself – is that it’s time to reclaim Florida’s public schools from toxic high-stakes testing.
More than 63 percent who attended the tele-town hall were teachers, while 23 percent said their main connection to education was as a parent. During the event, participants were asked if our schools were on the right track and only 13 percent thought so. More than 69 percent said our schools are headed in the wrong direction.
When asked to name their greatest concern regarding Florida’s public schools, nearly 50 percent of respondents cited too much standardized testing. Vouchers taking away public school resources and lack of funding for essential services were the primary concern of 18 percent and 16 percent of those polled, respectively.
Similarly, when asked what would most strengthen our education system, the runaway winner was reducing standardized tests at 43.5 percent. Greater parental involvement (25 percent), increased school funding (10 percent) and better technology in the classroom (9 percent) were also mentioned. But clearly, to the people that are closest to our schools, the one-size-fits-all testing regimen that has hamstrung public education in Florida desperately needs fixing.
The pushback against out-of-control testing has extended beyond teachers and parents. Some school districts such as Miami-Dade have opted out of certain standardized tests. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are finally realizing that Florida’s rash of accountability mandates have created a cynical environment where teachers, students and parents are distrusting of a system that wastes valuable classroom instruction time.
The 2015 legislative session offers lawmakers a chance to change course and implement a less intrusive system of assessment that gives educators and school districts needed flexibility, rather than the testing mandates the Legislature has imposed on our schools. A bill has been introduced to limit student testing times, but some districts do not have adequate mechanisms in place to track this information and there are concerns it will not have the desired effect.
What is clear from the growing furor over high-stakes testing is that the current system needMark Ferrulo: Education community overwhelmingly opposes punitive testing - SaintPetersBlog:

New Analysis Shatters Narrative of Charter School Success

New Analysis Shatters Narrative of Charter School Success:

New Analysis Shatters Narrative of Charter School Success

Public schools are outperforming charter schools in Minnesota, in some cases "dramatically," according to a new analysis by the state's Star-Tribune newspaper.
In addition, many charter schools fail to adequately support minority students, close examination of the data revealed.
Journalist Kim McGuire looked at 128 of the state's 157 charter schools and found "that the gulfbetween the academic success of its white and minority students widened at nearly two-thirds of those schools last year. Slightly more than half of charter schools students were proficient in reading, dramatically worse than traditional public schools, where 72 percent were proficient."
Between 2011 and 2014, McGuire reported, 20 charter schools failed to meet the state’s expectations for academic growth each year, "signaling that some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable students had stagnated academically."
Charlene Briner, the Minnesota Department of Education’s chief of staff, told the newspaper that she was troubled by the information, "which runs counter to 'the public narrative' that charter schools are generally superior to public schools."
"Minnesota is the birthplace of the charter school movement and a handful of schools have received national acclaim for their accomplishments, particularly when it comes to making strong academic gains with low-income students of color," the Star-Tribune claims. "But the new information is fueling critics who say the charter school experiment has failed to deliver on teaching innovation."
Education analyst Diane Ravitch notes: "Minnesota was the home of the charter movement, which began with high expectations as a progressive experiment but has turned into a favorite mechanism in many states to promote privatization of public education and to generate profits for charter corporations like Imagine, Charter Schools USA, and K12. Today, charter advocates claim that their privately managed charters will 'save low-income students from failing public schools,' but the Minnesota experience suggests that charters face the same challenges as public schools, which is magnified by high teacher turnover in charter schools."
The findings back up a report (pdf) put out last fall by the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota Law School, which examined the success and failures of the charter school system in Chicago, Illinois.
That study concluded:
Sadly the charters schools, which on average score lower that the Chicago public schools, have not improved the Chicago school system, but perhaps made it even weaker. Further 
New Analysis Shatters Narrative of Charter School Success:

Scott Walker Loses Education Control Fight in Court

Scott Walker Loses Education Control Fight in Court:

Still just as dumb as he looks.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R-DonateBigMoneyToMeAndI'llDoYourBidding) has a sad today.
A unanimous state appeals court on Thursday deemed unconstitutional a portion of a 2011 law that gave Gov. Scott Walker the ability to halt administrative rules by Schools Superintendent Tony Evers, who is independently elected.
The ruling by the Madison-based District 4 Court of Appeals upholds a 2012 decision by Dane County Circuit Judge Amy Smith.
Walker signed the law in May 2011, which gave his administration a greater say in writing administrative rules, which are used to implement state laws. Administrative rules include more specifics than state statutes and carry the force of law.
Looks like Scott Walker got caught ignoring the State Constitution:
The state constitution says that "the supervision of public instruction shall be vested in a state superintendent and such other officers as the Legislature shall direct." In a 1996 case that the appeals court repeatedly cited, the state Supreme Court held that lawmakers and the governor cannot give "equal or superior authority" over public education to any other official.
The Supreme Court's ruling found that the state constitution prevented then-Gov. Tommy Thompson from transferring powers from the Department of Public Instruction to a new Department of Education overseen by the governor's administration.
"In sum, the Legislature has the authority to give, to not give, or to take away (the school superintendent's) supervisory powers, including rule-making power. What the Legislature may not do is give the (superintendent) a supervisory power relating to education and then fail to maintain the (superintendent's) supremacy with respect to that power," Appeals Judge Gary Sherman wrote for the court in Thursday's decision.

No, Scott Walker, you can't control state education. You've defunded K-12 education by $2 billion and you're stripping $300 million from our previously wonderful State University system. You've made taxpayers fund the private education of rich kids, too.
You have already done more than enough damage.
Since his 2011 inauguration, he's taken complete control of virtually ALL state agencies and has been hard at work on legislation giving him complete control over Scott Walker Loses Education Control Fight in Court:

TODAY on The War Report on Public Education - School to Prison Pipeline and how it affects our youth of color

The War Report on Public Education with Dr James Avington Miller Jr | BBS Radio:

 Black History Month continues on The War Report on Public Education as Dr. James Avington Miller Jr. and Arash Daneshzadeh ( ELA teacher at San Quentin Prison ) discuss the School to Prison Pipeline and how it affects our youth of color. Don't miss this conversation.

Show Times: 
2 PM Pacific
4 PM Central
5 PM Eastern

UPDATE! War Report will have a 2nd hour tomorrow and our guest host will be Tanaisa Brown reporting to us on the Newark Students Union's occupation in Newark this week! Hold on to your hats - this is going to be one awesome show!

Everyone is invited to listen, call in, and become part of the conversation:
A direct listen-in line only
Station 1 - 716-748-0150
To call-in and interact live
Station 1 - 888-627-6008

at 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Starts in about 4 hours