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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Should Low Performing Charter Schools Be Closed? Are Charter Schools in Violation of Federal Regulations and State Law? Creating an Even Playing Field | Ed In The Apple

Should Low Performing Charter Schools Be Closed? Are Charter Schools in Violation of Federal Regulations and State Law? Creating an Even Playing Field | Ed In The Apple:

Should Low Performing Charter Schools Be Closed? Are Charter Schools in Violation of Federal Regulations and State Law? Creating an Even Playing Field

This year, by happenstance, an unusually large number of charter schools are up for renewal.
A little background: the law sets a cap on the number of charter schools, a cap for NYC and one for the remainder of the state, the NYC cap has about 25 slots left and over 100 slots for the rest of the state. There are three charter authorizers, SUNY, the Board of Regents and the NYC Department of Education. The charter is the equivalent of a permit to operate a school; the charter must be renewed every five years. In the fourth year the charter authorizer examines the school; in the original application the proposed school established goals; the authorizer examines the schools data in considerable detail and determines the length of the charter renewal; from another five years down to a low of 1.5 years.
In December charter renewal recommendations from NYC came before the Regents, usually pro forma. This time, Regent members had questions, lots of questions, and asked the Department to attend the January meeting and explain their renewal criteria.
There is no question that there are many charter schools that are struggling, with little hope of improvement. Single entrepreneur charter schools have no place to go for help; maybe they can purchase a professional development package, hire a consultant, change the principal, with no guarantee that results will change. If they struggle for the first five years, what will change in the ensuing years?
The Department and the State have also identified 94 struggling public schools in NYC, about a dozen are referred to as “out of time” schools, they have not shown any progress over a number of years. The Department is closely monitoring the schools, each school has a detailed plan, and many of the schools are receiving State Incentive Grant (SIG) dollars which bring outside resources into the school. Chancellor Farina says the schools need time.
The former administration crowed that they closed over 150 schools; I believe the Regents have closed something like seventeen charter schools.
At the February Regents meeting three schools from Buffalo were up for renewal and the recommendations were: one school, 3.5 years, another 4 years and the third the full 5 years. Regent Bennett, who represents Buffalo, objected, he claimed the Regents either extended for 3 or 5 years, nothing else (He’s wrong) and urged the Regents to extend all for five years. The committee chair, Regent Should Low Performing Charter Schools Be Closed? Are Charter Schools in Violation of Federal Regulations and State Law? Creating an Even Playing Field | Ed In The Apple:

Breaking News: Court Rules Smarter Balanced Assessment Violates The U.S. Constitution | Exceptional Delaware

Breaking News: Court Rules Smarter Balanced Assessment Violates The U.S. Constitution | Exceptional Delaware:

Breaking News: Court Rules Smarter Balanced Assessment Violates The U.S. Constitution

“The Court finds that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an unlawful interstate compact to which the U.S. Congress has never consented, whose existence and operation violate the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution”
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has been ruled to be breaking many laws in our country according to Judge Daniel R. Green of the Circuit Court of Cole County in Missouri.  The most important of which is the fact that it was never passed by Congress.  The Court also found that taxpayer money must not be given to this unlawful compact.
The Missouri Coalition Against Common Core, led by Frank Sauer, filed suit against Missouri Governor Jay Nixon last year.  Judge Green, on November 26th, ordered a two week restraining order against any taxpayer dollars going to the SBAC.  Yesterday, he gave his final ruling against Governor Nixon and essentially invalidated the very premise of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
For my own state of Delaware, I will be forwarding this case to our Attorney General Matt Denn for an official legal opinion on this type of arrangement within our own state.
Special thanks to the awesome Delaware blog Minding My Matters for bringing this to my attention.
Updated, 11:33am, 2/25/15: Diane Ravitch has written a post on this as well based on an article in the Missouri News Tribune which can be read here and gives more details on the case:

No ESEA Bill Is Better Than One That Fails to Protect the Poorest Children | Marian Wright Edelman #NOonHR5

No ESEA Bill Is Better Than One That Fails to Protect the Poorest Children | Marian Wright Edelman:

No ESEA Bill Is Better Than One That Fails to Protect the Poorest Children

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#STOPHR5 #NOonHR5 US Representatives on Twitter Find your Member Hit them with a Vote No on HR5 Tweet

 For fifty years Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)has been the primary source of federal funding targeted to schools to serve poor children. Its purpose has been to raise achievement for poor children through extra support to their schools to help meet their greater educational needs. Sadly, from the beginning states didn’t keep their end of the bargain.

In 1969, the Washington Research Project (the Children’s Defense Fund’s parent organization) and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. partnered with others and examined federal audit reports on how Title I funds were being used and talked to numerous federal, state, and local officials and community leaders and parents about how those critical funds were being spent. Our report, Title I: Is It Helping Poor Children?, found the answer to our question was a resounding “No.” Rather than serving the special needs of poor and disadvantaged children, many of the millions of dollars Congress appropriated had been wasted, diverted, or otherwise misused by state and local education agencies. Title I funding was often being used as general aid and to supplant -- rather than supplement -- state and local education funds, including for construction and equipment unrelated to Title I goals. For example, Fayette County, Tennessee used 90 percent of its Title I funds for construction of a predominantly Black school despite a recent federal court order that the school system desegregate, and Memphis, Tennessee used Title I funds to purchase 18 portable swimming pools in the summer of 1966.
The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) subsequently conducted several other major studies that reinforced the importance of federal accountability for money targeted to help children most in need, especially poor children and children of color. In CDF’s first report, Children Out of School in America (1974), after knocking on thousands of doors in census tracts across the nation and interviewing many state and local school officials, we found that if a child was not White, or was White but not middle class, did not speak English, was poor, needed special help with seeing, hearing, walking, reading, learning, adjusting, or growing up, was pregnant at age 15, was not smart enough, or was too smart, then in too many places school officials decided school was not the place for that child.
We should learn from and correct our mistakes and stop repeating them over and over again for our children’s sake. It is crucial that a strong Title I program reach the children in areas of concentrated poverty if and when ESEA is reauthorized. Unfortunately the House Education and Workforce Committee, charged to lead in moving an ESEA reauthorization bill in the House of Representatives, just approved abill (H.R. 5) in a party line vote that fails to target the needs of the poorest children by adding a “portability” provision assuring these children less help. AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and many others join us in opposing the portability provision.
The portability provision in H.R. 5 would move us backwards by distributing the same amount for a poor child regardless of the wealth of the district or school she attends. This will unravel the intent of Title I by taking resources away from children in areas of concentrated poverty and offering extra resources to schools and districts with a few poor children who may not need them. The poorest students in schools with the No ESEA Bill Is Better Than One That Fails to Protect the Poorest Children | Marian Wright Edelman: 

Chicago Charter School Teachers Demand a Union - Working In These Times

Chicago Charter School Teachers Demand a Union - Working In These Times:

Chicago Charter School Teachers Demand a Union


At a press conference on Friday, Charter teachers were joined by progressive mayoral hopeful Jesus "Chuy" García, who called Mayor Rahm Emanuel's pledged support for the teachers "hypocritical." (Arielle Zionts)  
Teachers and staff at Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies and North Lawndale College Prep (NLCP) announced on Friday they are seeking to form a union, joining the growing movement to organize charter school teachers in Chicago and around the country. Friday’s announcement follows other charter school unionization efforts in Chicago including the United Neighborhood Organization network and several Chicago International Charter Schools, and came just days before the city’s mayoral race.
On Friday morning at City Hall, Urban Prep and NLCP teachers announced their desire to unionize and join the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (Chicago ACTS). Chicago ACTS is a joint program of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers. According to the Sun-Times, Chicago ACTS “already represents 800 teachers and staff at 29 of Chicago’s 130 or so charter schools.”
Later that day, several dozen people rallied outside Urban Prep’s Bronzeville campus in 10-degree weather. Speakers and supporters included teachers, staff, parents, students and union and community members, who overwhelmingly cited concern with what they say is frequent teacher turnover and a resulting instability for teachers and students.
NLCP teacher Kiel Smith said constant teacher turnover means spending time and money on new teacher training rather than on teacher development. “I have watched great teacher after great teacher leave,” Smith said. “Many of these teachers didn’t just leave NLCP, but they left teaching altogether.”
Travis Ryan, another NLCP teacher, said, “There is nothing sadder than when we see a student who has returned home from college who has lived a dream and comes to speak about it. They’re so excited to speak with their teachers—who are no longer there.” Ryan called the turnover crisis “a terrible stain on the charter school system” and believes unionizing can deliver better compensation, clearer expectations and the security of due process.
As hostility to teachers unions by some education reformers and government officials has risen in recent years, the number of charter schools—schools which are largely publicly funded but privately run—has seen a dramatic increase. As the New York Times reports, many charter school backers see teacher unions as incompatible with charters, as they say the schools “are more effective because they are free from the regulations and bureaucracies that govern traditional public schools.” Supporters of charter school unionization say collective bargaining allows teachers to secure the resources and conditions that create quality teachers and stable schools.
“I get that charter schools have great flexibility to innovate,” said union supporter Valerie Leonard of the Lawndale Alliance, a community organization. “However, this flexibility should not come at the cost of equal pay and decent work conditions.”
According to Catalyst Chicago, if Urban Prep and NLCP’s unions are recognized, “it would mean nearly one in four Chicago charter schools would be unionized, likely the highest union density of charter schools in any major school district in the country.”
Mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” García attended Friday’s announcement to support the unionization effort. When teachers asked for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s support, Emanuel spokesperson Steve Mayberry said in a statement, “Just as he was Chicago Charter School Teachers Demand a Union - Working In These Times:

Strange History of the SBAC Test Monster

Strange History of the SBAC Test Monster:

Many parents and teachers have been asking how the SBAC test monster was adopted here in Washington state - with little public awareness that such a radical change was being made. The following is the extremely strange history of the creation of the SBAC test monster. 

The corporate press likes to say that Common Core and SBAC were adopted in Washington state in 2010 or 2011. This is to make it seem that Common Core and SBAC were adopted a long time ago. Common Core was adopted by the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, in 2010 who signed some kind of informal agreement in the summer of 2010. However, Randy does not have the authority to change Washington state laws. So the actual bill to adopt Common Core and SBAC was voted on by the legislature during the last week of June 2013. The bill that actually changed Washington state law to adopt Common Core and the SBAC test in Washington state was House Bill 1450 which passed during the last week of June 2013. Here is a link to the bill:

2013 House Bill 1450 formally authorized both CCSS and SBAC. I used HB 1450 to write 2015 Senate bill 6030 to repeal CCSS and SBAC. If you look at 2015 SB 6030 and compare it to 2013 HB 1450, you will see that every place HB 1450 added new language (to more than one dozen laws), I deleted the new language and returned it to the old language. In other words, 2015 SB 6030 would repeal 2013 HB 1450. HB 1450 was written by Randy Dorn and he requested that the legislature pass HB 1450 in January 2013. 

To understand how this really happened, I interviewed several Washington state Senators and Representatives about HB 1450 and the vote to pass it. The bill was passed with little objection from either political party. No one knew what was in the bill because it was a “striker amendment” meaning the entire bill was replaced at the last minute and no one even had time to read it. The vote was done as a last minute "midnight" bill which was part of a package of bills to pass the budget (which was more than two months late that year).Without this passage, the State of Washington was facing a government shutdown on July 1, 2013. 

At the original public hearing for HB 1450, in February 2013, the bill was sold by OSPI staff as simply “stream lining” the assessment process by eliminating the algebra and geometry end of course assessments and the MSP math test - replacing all three of them with the SBAC test. Also the MSP Reading and Writing tests were combined into a single SBAC English test. So five tests would be replaced with two tests. This selling pitch was echoed in the House Bill Report from February 2013 which stated The purpose of the bill is to reduce the number and reduce testing time.” Who could be against that?

See the original House Bill Analysis at this link:

The February 2013 version of House Bill 1450 bill was supported by Randy Dorn but opposed by Wendy Rader Konofalski and Katie Carper of the Washington Education Association and Marie Sullivan, of the Washington State School Directors' Association. These three wise opponents of the bill noted that the bill might reduce some testing but would increase other tests. They urged moving away from high stakes testing to the greatest extent possible. These were the only three people to speak in opposition to this “test consolidation” bill. Here is a link to this report for the original HB 1450:

Also see the handout that was created by OSPI for the public hearing on February 8 2013 which specifically stated that the CCR test (which would later be called SBAC) would not be a graduation requirement. Here is the link to this handout.

Here is an image of this handout showing the consolidation of tests. I have placed a red box around the sentence confirming that CCR would NOT be a graduation requirement: 

strange history
In February, 2013, Representative McCoy successfully added an “appeal process” allowing parents and students to claim that the new test was culturally biased. This amendment was later removed from the final “striker version” of the bill. 

After this, despite the fact that the bill was requested by Randy Dorn, there never was a vote in the House Education committee in 2013. Instead, the bill seemed to die after the public hearing on February 8 2013. On May 13, like all other dead bills, it was “reintroduced and retained in its present state.” But then on June 21, 2013, suddenly this zombie bill came back to life. The Education Committee was “relieved of further consideration.” (I did not know this was even possible). 

A week later, on June 27, 2013, the House “rules were suspended” and the last minute striker amendment turned HB 1450 into a SBAC test monster. Suddenly, the SBAC test would be a graduation requirement and a mandatory test which all students were required to take at least once. A vote was taken on the striker bill which passed 81 to 8. The only No votes in the House were Appleton, Strange History of the SBAC Test Monster:

The one about TV ads, the Lansing School District, and misleading claims...Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

The one about TV ads, the Lansing School District, and misleading claims...

By: Dr. Mitchell Robinson

 Recently, the Lansing School District released a series of TV and radio ads designed to promote their schools ( Amid a floating stream of expertly produced and edited video of young children bouncing basketballs and playing music instruments, the voiceover claims that the Lansing Schools "offer more educational choices to students than any other school district in the greater Lansing region." This, in spite of the fact that the District decided to slash the offerings for those very children by eliminating all of the 27 elementary art, music and PE positions in the Lansing schools over a year ago, leaving the city's students with only 2 music, art and PE classes per semester, while their peers in neighboring school systems often receive these classes twice per week.

Now, if the superintendent, board of education and teachers union in Lansing had just gotten together and cut the elementary art, music and PE programs and teachers in the schools, that would have been one thing...

  • But to hear the former AMPE program now be referred to as the "Innovative Arts & Fitness" Department, as though there is anything "innovative" in firing 27 teachers and depriving thousands of children of a full and complete education...

  • To read press releases and interviews with district officials touting the current art and music offerings as being better than what was previously in place, because of the presence of "real artists and musicians" in Lansing's schools...

  • To see that the LSD held a promotional fair at the Lansing Center this past weekend, with radio and media coverage, in an effort to stem the tide of those leaving the District, largely due to the curricular narrowing and impoverished offerings now available at the elementary level...

  • And now, for the art and music teachers in Lansing who had their careers taken away to be subjected to thousands of dollars worth of TV and radio ads promoting the "rich and diverse curricular offerings" in the Lansing School District, even as the elementary curriculum has been gutted of art, music and PE, and to know that their former students are only receiving instruction in these subjects 4 TIMES PER YEAR...

Let me be clear: I believe that there are many excellent teachers in the Lansing schools, including several outstanding music teachers working in the District's high schools. I've been blown away by what the music students and faculty are doing in Lansing, especially given the Badass Teachers Association:

Rahm “45% Is Not Enough” Emanuel has smirk removed by Chuy Garcia | Reclaim Reform Vote for Chuy!!!

Rahm “45% Is Not Enough” Emanuel has smirk removed by Chuy Garcia | Reclaim Reform:

Rahm “45% Is Not Enough” Emanuel has smirk removed by Chuy Garcia

There are times to just celebrate and even gloat. This is one of them.
Here are several memes celebrating and gloating about the smirk from Rahm’s face being removed by Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. With all of the millions of dollars and endorsements gathered by Rahm Emanuel, who has closed more schools and fired more teachers than anyone in history, he garnered a mere 45% of the vote in Chicago’s Democratic primary election. 50% plus one would have been needed to win.
Now, let’s gloat. (Please feel free to share any or all memes.)
Rahm in snow
Rahm bathing cap
Rahm search
Rahm hmmnnn
and, finally
Rahm smirk
After laughing and gloating, support pro-teacher, pro-public school, anti-pension cutting, anti-high stakes testing Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the runoff election and the final election. The best thing to help happen in Chicago is to make Rahm a faded memory and Chuy the progressive Mayor of the City of Chicago.
 Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Hey Little Emperor...:

Click here to go to Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor of Chicago  Website
Big Education Ape: Chicago Inc. Rahm Emanuel Dances for Corporate Money - Vote for Chuy!!!
Big Education Ape: Elected School Board referendum wins by a landslide in 37 wards – Chicago's Students Deserve an ...

Anya Kamenetz's The Test Points the Way to the Future | John Thompson

Anya Kamenetz's The Test Points the Way to the Future | John Thompson:

Anya Kamenetz's The Test Points the Way to the Future

Anya Kamenetz's The Test will stand on its own as an excellent work of scholarship. It will not be research findings, philanthropists, the USDOE, or even teachers who will determine the role of testing in the next generation of public schools. It will be the students and the parents of the children who have endured fourteen years of test-driven schooling who will decide whether high stakes testing survives. I suspect that Kamenetz is one of the first, as well as one of the most articulate, of the voices of these new generations.

Kamenetz's book 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."
One of the best aspects of The Test is Kamenetz's vivid metaphors and her concise summaries of educators' views. She writes, "Pervasive assessment is a nightmare version of school for most students. It's like burning thirsty plants in a garden under a magnifying glass, in the hope they will grow faster under scrutiny." She summarizes the indictment of bubble-in accountability by a proponent of portfolio assessment of students, "Standardized testing leads to standardized teaching."
Even better, The Test puts faces on the children who are damaged by testing. Because she so close to the reality on the ground that top-down reformers inadvertently created, Kamenentz is a mom who can explain what education jargon means in the real world. For instance, the words "'targeted interventions'" means that "whatever subject the kids hate most ... take over all of school." She concludes, "instead of customizing learning to each student," the term really means that "standardization dictates one best way. In the end it seems pretty much everyone gets left out."
The next great thing about The Test is that it is honest about the dilemmas faced by parents, and the temptations they face in regard to testing. In the section, "The Anya Kamenetz's The Test Points the Way to the Future | John Thompson:

Anya Kamenetz

The Student Success Act—The End of Public Schools? #NOonHR5 #ESEA

The Student Success Act—The End of Public Schools?:


The Student Success Act—The End of Public Schools?

Last week on FOX News, Host Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery said, “there really shouldn’t  be public schools  anymore.” Before Democrats could shake their heads and say, “Those silly Republicans,” Steve Benen on The Rachel Maddow Show Blog, referencing Lisa’s statement, said, “what was once an unheard of idea is slowly becoming a little more common. For education proponents, this isn’t good news.”
Put this together with the proposed anti-public school changes under the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Minnesota Republican Rep. John Kline’s  Student Success Act (H.R. 5),  one wonders if we are witnessing the last rites for America’s public schools.
Well, I’m not going to buy a black outfit anytime soon. I still believe in the strong voices for public education that can readily be found on social media. Like the students in Newark who staged a sit-in last week to oppose the draconian school reforms of Superintendent Cami Anderson. Or the parents in Germantown, Tennessee who nobly attempted to change, based on well-grounded research, the morning start time at their local high school. And there are many parents and teachers pushing back high-stakes testing and charter school takeovers.
Step-by-step Americans are fighting for their public schools.
However, the proposed changes to the ESEA (changed to No Child Left Behind under President G. W. Bush ) should raise a lot of questions. The Student Success Act is troubling for many reasons. And the bill is set for a vote already this Friday by the House of Representatives.
The bill focuses on limiting the federal government’s role in education, giving states and local education associations more power. Certainly the Feds have not been kind to The Student Success Act—The End of Public Schools?:

#STOPHR5 #NOonHR5 US Representatives on Twitter Find your Member Hit them with a Vote No on HR5 Tweet