Latest News and Comment from Education

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Community Expresses Outrage Over California Charter Schools Association Expenditures In California 43rd Assembly Race |

Community Expresses Outrage Over Special Interest Expenditures In California 43rd Assembly Race |

Community Expresses Outrage Over California Charter Schools Association  Expenditures In California 43rd Assembly Race

 GLENDALE—Education leaders gathered to jointly condemn the California Charter Schools Association and the Laura Friedman for Assembly campaign for disseminating misinformation to voters and trying to buy the 43rd California Assembly race. The press conference featured over a dozen community leaders including Los Angeles Unified School Board President Steve Zimmer and Glendale Board of Education Member Christine Walters.

“It’s very important that we’re here today in the 43rd Assembly District that has become the latest battle ground in the effort to privatize, corporatize, and takeover our public education system here in Los Angeles County,” stated LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer in his remarks before concerned parents, local teachers, representatives of the California School Employees Association (CSEA) and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA).
“I’m very proud to stand with colleagues today, to stand with Ardy Kassakhian, who has become the latest target in this effort. Let me be very, very clear: there are interest groups in the State of California – most especially the California Charter Schools Association – who are attempting to outright buy Assembly seats, Senate seats, local school board seats,” highlighted Zimmer.
Financial disclosures show that over $1,000,000 has been spent by the special interest group to influence the outcome of the election by smearing Ardy Kassakhian’s record as Glendale City Clerk contrary to the truth, including reporting by the Los Angeles Times that has noted that Ardy Kassakhian has “greatly improved the voting experience for Glendale’s citizens.”
“I chose to support Ardy a long time ago because Ardy has authentically supported public schools since long before he decided to run for this job,” stated Glendale Board of Education Member Christine Walters. “The reason I’m here today is less about Ardy and more about the ugliness and deception that I have seen over the last few weeks.”
Prominent community activist and President of the East Area Progressive Democrats Hans Johnson noted, “We are here out of a profound concern that outside interests are seeking to buy this election and unduly influence the outcome through spending from outside Glendale.”
Frank Higginbotham from the Glendale Teachers Association stated, “The Glendale Teachers Association endorses Ardy Kassakhian for the 43rd Assembly District.  He is the only candidate that fully supports public education and will give our children a voice in Sacramento.”  Higginbotham concluded by noting that Ardy “is the only candidate we trust to stand up for public schools and to fight the billionaires trying to privatize our public education system for their profit.”
The press conference was attended by a host of other local leaders including Glendale City Council Member Zareh Sinanyan, Glendale City Treasurer Rafi Manoukian, Glendale Community College Board President Tony Tartaglia, Glendale Community College Board Member Dr. Vahé Peroomian, Glendale Board of Education Member (ret.) Sandy Russell, Burbank Board of Education Member Dr. Armond Aghakhanian, and Former Burbank Teachers Association President Kim Allender.
About Ardy Kassakhian
Ardy Kassakhian grew up and attended public schools in Glendale. He was first elected Glendale City Clerk in 2005. As Clerk, he has reduced government waste by introducing environmentally sound practices, made election information easier to access and worked to increase voter participation. Ardy graduated from UCLA and the Executive Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He lives with his wife Courtney and their young son in Glendale.
Ardy Kassakhian is running to represent Assembly District 43, which includes the communities of Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta-Montrose and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz and Silver Lake. The primary election will be held on June 7, 2016. To learn more about Ardy Kassakhian, visit his website at or follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Community Expresses Outrage Over Special Interest Expenditures In California 43rd Assembly Race |

Republic of Turkey Targets Houston-Based Charter School | The Texas Tribune

Republic of Turkey Targets Houston-Based Charter School | The Texas Tribune:

Republic of Turkey Targets Houston-Based Charter School

Lawyers working for the Turkish government plan to file a complaint with the Texas Education Agency next week against Houston-based Harmony Public Schools, alleging financial malfeasance and other misconduct, school officials said.
The Republic of Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is waging a well-documented war against critics, hiredLondon-based Amsterdam & Partners last fall “to conduct a global investigation into the activities of the organization led by moderate Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen,” according to the firm's website. Gulen is a reclusive Turkish expatriate living in Pennsylvania whom news reports have linked to Harmony and other U.S. charter schools. Harmony, which focuses on science and math education, is the second-largest charter network in the United States and the largest in Texas. It operates 46 schools here where nearly 31,000 students are enrolled.
Amsterdam filed a civil lawsuit against Gulen in December in U.S. district court accusing him of being a terrorist and building a "parallel structure" within the police and judiciary to topple the government, according to a Reuters report. In March, Turkish authorities issuedan arrest warrant for Gulen and his brother. 
Harmony officials have vehemently denied any connection to Gulen and say the complaint, which they learned about by accident, is a politically motivated attack by Erdogan following a June 2015 election in which his party lost its 13-year majority control.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) regained its hold on parliament in a subsequent vote, but Harmony officials note that Erdogan’s party received little support in the summer election among Turkish Americans who voted absentee.
“It’s a witch hunt,” said Soner Tarim, Harmony’s CEO.
An Amsterdam & Associates lawyer, John Martin, on Thursday confirmed the firm's plans to file a complaint with the state against Harmony but declined to immediately offer further details. The firm has enlisted the help of longtime Austin lobbyist and Republican political consultant Jim Arnold, who registered as an agent for the Turkish government last month. Arnold did not respond to calls or an email requesting comment. 
In February, the firm filed a complaint with the California Department of Education urging the agency to conduct an investigation into the financial practices of the Magnolia Public Republic of Turkey Targets Houston-Based Charter School | The Texas Tribune:
Big Education Ape: Every parent and community member should see the Killing Ed film | Parents Across America

Are We Addicted to ‘School Reform’? | The Merrow Report

Are We Addicted to ‘School Reform’? | The Merrow Report:

Are We Addicted to ‘School Reform’?

I recently came across a blog I posted in early 2012, one that was ‘liked’ by more than 4,700 readers.  It’s called “Drowning in a Rising Tide of….” and I wrote it while the latest National Commission was studying the state of public education.
Here’s part of what I wrote back then, followed by what the Equity and Excellence Commission eventually reported, and then by my own observations.

MY BLOG EXCERPTS: “The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”
Surely everyone recognizes the 5-word phrase. Some of you may have garbled the phrase on occasion — I have — into something like ‘Our schools are drowning in a rising tide of mediocrity.”
But that’s not what “A Nation at Risk” said back in 1983. The report, issued by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, was a call to action on many levels, not an attack on schools and colleges. “Our societyand its educational institutions seem to have lost sight of the basic purposes of schooling,” the Report states, immediately after noting that America has been “committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.” (emphasis added) Schools aren’t the villain in “A Nation at Risk;” rather, they are a vehicle for solving the problem.
Suppose that report were to come out now? What sort of tide is eroding our educational foundations? “A rising tide of (fill in the blank)?”
This is a relevant question because sometime in the next few months another National Commission, this one on“Education Equity and Excellence,” will issue its report. This Are We Addicted to ‘School Reform’? | The Merrow Report:

Every parent and community member should see the Killing Ed film | Parents Across America

Every parent and community member should see the Killing Ed film | Parents Across America:

Every parent and community member should see the Killing Ed film


For less than $20, you can learn everything you need to know about the Gulen (aka Charter/Harmony/etc.) chain of charter schools and the Turkish imam behind the largest charter school network in the United States.
The Killing Ed film is now available on dvd online.
Our wonderful founding member, Sharon Higgins, is truly the star of this important documentary. Her brave and persistent digging into the Gulen movement and its power strategy was critical to public exposure of the sinister workings of this cult which uses charter schools as a front for collecting U.S. taxpayer dollars for its operations and for bringing its members into the U.S. from Turkey.
Turkey 2Why do so many parents allow their children to attend these schools? Some may be unaware of the schools’ deep connection to Turkey. The public relations effort by Gulen is as powerful as it is misleading. But even a little attention ought to raise some red flags…starting with the Turkish flags the schools display and the fact that many or most of the teachers, administrators, and board members are Turkish.
Gulenists like to accuse their critics of bigotry or racism. Killing Ed makes it clear that all parents and communities should be up in arms against this organized threat to democratic public schooling which our tax dollars are funding.
Buy a copy of Killing Ed and watch it with your friends and family. And instead of watching our congressional representatives take off on yet another junket to Turkey courtesy of the Gulen movement, we should insist that they turn off the pipeline of funds flowing freely to a secretive cult. We should insist that they put an end to any federal support for charter schools that are not accountable to the public through elected school boards. And each one of us should send our Senators and Congresspeople a copy of Killing Ed so that they will stop being the dupes of this dangerous organization.
- See more at:

NJ Charter schools on the rise, but critics worry about the kids left behind | New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV

NJ Charter schools on the rise, but critics worry about the kids left behind | New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV:
NJ Charter schools on the rise, but critics worry about the kids left behind

 HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Charter schools are growing across our region, and they’re expanding rapidly in New Jersey.
Governor Christie visited Bergen Arts & Science Charter School in Hackensack today, where he touted the school’s 93 percent graduation rate.
“It’s the type of accomplishment that we want to replicate at charter schools throughout the state, and at traditional public schools as well,” said the Governor.
Christie pointed to senior Abigail Yashiro as an example of what can be accomplished in the right educational setting. Yashiro was 1 of only 2 New Jersey students chosen to represent the state in the United States Senate Youth Program, an honor that Governor Christie had earned when he was in high school.
“I can confidently say that my attendance here has given me personalized attention that has made me the best student and the best leader I can be,” said Yashiro.
But critics are still concerned about the children charters do not take from the traditional public schools.
“The charters kind of cream off the less expensive, easier to educate students,” said Dr. Julia Sass Rubin, an associate professor at Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. "The more challenging students are left concentrated in the district schools.”
New Jersey Department of Education data shows that traditional public schools keep a higher percentage of children with special needs, kids learning to speak english and the poorest of the poor.
In Hackensack for example, 7 percent of charter school students have special needs. In Hackensack’s traditional public schools, 18 percent of the student population are special needs.
School districts also see their funding cut when charters move in. Tax dollars follow the students who transfer and state aid must be divided. Meanwhile, the traditional public school district continues to bear the brunt of many costs.
"For example, districts pay all transportation expenses for district residents who attend charter, private, and district schools,” she said, "Charter schools do not pick up any of that."
Recently, the Superintendent of Schools in Montclair, New Jersey drafted a letter to the state listing finances as the number one reason why a charter school should not be allowed to move in.
“The diversion of funds would be a tremendous financial burden to the school district,” said Roland Bolandi, Montclair’s Interim Superintendent.
He estimates the district will lose about $2.6 million if the proposed Fulbright Academy Charter School is allowed to open. If Fulbright grows as projected, that amount could rise to $4.7 million.
“Furthermore, budget reductions due to the loss of state aid have already impacted staff, NJ Charter schools on the rise, but critics worry about the kids left behind | New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV:

Public Schools With a President Bernie Sanders

Public Schools With a President Bernie Sanders:

Public Schools With a President Bernie Sanders

A green tree alone in sand desert
What would education be like with a President Bernie Sanders? Would he stand by public schools and public school career teachers?
I think between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders would be better to fight against the troubling school reforms that have plagued public schools for years. Most of what can be gathered about Sanders and his educational agenda supports that.
But there are still concerns which I list below.
Here are the positives:
  • He voted against No Child Left Behind and was especially against high-stakes standardized testing.
  • He stood by Chicago’s principal and public school activist Troy LaRaviere and students, teachers and parents. He spoke out against LaRaviere’s firing.
  • He, like Clinton, opposes private charter schools and school vouchers.
  • He gets that poverty directly affects students and is concerned about health care, mental health, nutrition, and other supports. He wants wrap-around Public Schools With a President Bernie Sanders:

New Study Connects the Dots Between School Funding Choices and Student Achievement Education Law Prof Blog

Education Law Prof Blog:

New Study Connects the Dots Between School Funding Choices and Student Achievement, Highlighting the Dangers of Retrenchment in Courts

 The Educational Testing Service (ETS) released a new study by Bruce D. Baker, Danielle Farrie, and David G. Sciarra, analyzing the connections between improving school finance systems,improving educational outcomes and closing achievement gaps. After working through multiple factors and layers of data, the report zeroes in on the effects of school funding on pupil-teacher ratios and salaries.  It them shows how those two factors relate to the achievement gap between low and middle-income students.  The findings are rather impressive:

  • These higher spending levels translate into higher statewide staffing levels—more teaching staff per pupil.
  • These higher spending levels translate into more competitive statewide teacher wages.
  • Increased targeted staffing to higher poverty schools within states is associated both with higher measured outcomes of children from low-income families and with smaller achievement gaps between children from low-income and children from non-low-income families.
More specifically, they "show that the level and distribution of pupil-to-teacher ratios are highly and consistently sensitive, both across states and over time, to changes to the level and distribution of school district current spending; that is, more spending, holding other factors constant, drives lower pupil-to-teacher ratios, and fairer spending across districts within states drives fairer pupil-to-teacher ratios. Spending also drives the competitiveness of teacher wages. States with higher spending have more competitive wages, all else being equal. And as one might expect, available spending and the equity of that spending remain contingent on the revenues that support that spending. Increased state support provides the opportunity for improved equity of current spending, whereas the stability of both state and local revenues dictates the overall level of spending."
The point about sensitivity to change "over time" is key to appreciating the significance of the deep cuts in education funding since the recession and the failure to replenish those funds even once state tax revenues rebounded. As I argue in a recent article, courts would normally serve as the check against states' wholesale abandonment of their constitutional duty to deliver equal and adequate educational opportunities.  Unfortunately, as the Texas Supreme Court decision from last week shows, courts are increasingly shying away from their duty. As they do so, they place the very right to education in jeopardy both in the short and long term--the effects of which will be far worse than the legislative stand-offs that courts are seeking to avoid now. A full discussion of this new trend is available here.

Russ on Reading: What is a "Just-Right" Class Size in Public Schools?

Russ on Reading: What is a "Just-Right" Class Size in Public Schools?:

What is a "Just-Right" Class Size in Public Schools?

This post is adapted from my book, A Parent's Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century, now available in print and Kindle versions.

Class size matters. Class size matters because it is an issue that impacts the lives of the children in the classroom, the work load of the teacher and the school budget. Teachers and their representatives argue for smaller class sizes, while school boards try to balance parent and teacher desires for small classes, with the demands of keeping the budget under control. Apparently, private schools think class size matters. They advertise small class size in an effort to attract students to their schools.

Intuitively, most parents and teachers think class size matters, but from a research standpoint the impact of class size has been harder to pin down.  At the heart of the argument is the question, “Do the academic gains achieved through smaller class sizes justify the cost of hiring more teachers to accommodate those lower class sizes?” Some education reformers have even suggested that children would be better off if schools would identify their best teachers and then pay those teachers more to accept more students in their classes.

A research study done in Tennessee is considered the gold standard of class size studies because of its rigorous experimental design. This so-called STAR study(1995) found that students in small classes learned more than students in larger classes and were more likely to complete school and attend college, but those small classes were so small that the STAR study simply rekindled the cost/benefit debate.

More recently, Northwestern University professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach published a study through the National Education Policy Centerthat summarized what we know about class size. Considering all the research as a whole Schanzenbach concluded that

·         Class size is an important determinant of student outcomes, and one that can be directly determined by policy.
·         The evidence suggests that increasing class size will harm not only children’s test scores in the short run, but also their long-run human capital formation. Money saved today by increasing class sizes will result in more substantial social and educational costs in the future.
·         The payoff from class-size reduction is greater for low-income and minority children, while any increases in class size will likely be most harmful to these populations.
·         Policymakers should carefully weigh the efficacy of class-size policy against other potential uses of funds. While lower class size has a demonstrable cost, it may prove the more cost-effective policy overall (NEPC, 2014).

So, class size does matter and it matters especially for low-income and minority children and it is likely to be worth the taxpayers’ money to attempt to keep Russ on Reading: What is a "Just-Right" Class Size in Public Schools?:

This ed-reform trend is supposed to motivate students. Instead, it shames them. - The Washington Post

This ed-reform trend is supposed to motivate students. Instead, it shames them. - The Washington Post:

This ed-reform trend is supposed to motivate students. Instead, it shames them.

A third-grade teacher on why "data walls" don't work.

Launa Hall says posting her students’ test scores made it harder to connect with them. (iStock)

 My third-graders tumbled into the classroom, and one child I’d especially been watching for — I need to protect her privacy, so I’ll call her Janie — immediately noticed the two poster-size charts I’d hung low on the wall. Still wearing her jacket, she let her backpack drop to the floor and raised one finger to touch her name on the math achievement chart. Slowly, she traced the row of dots representing her scores for each state standard on the latest practice test. Red, red, yellow, red, green, red, red. Janie is a child capable of much drama, but that morning she just lowered her gaze to the floor and shuffled to her chair.

In our test-mired public schools, those charts are known as data walls, and before I caved in and made some for my Northern Virginia classroom last spring, they’d been proliferating in schools across the country — an outgrowth of “data-driven instruction” and the scramble for test scores at all costs. Making data public, say advocates such as Boston Plan for Excellence, instills a “healthy competitive culture.” But that’s not what I saw in my classroom.
The data walls concept originated with University of Chicago education researcher David Kerbow, who in the late 1990s promoted visual displays to chart students’ progress in reading. Kerbow called these displays “assessment walls,” and he meant them to be for faculty eyes only, as tools for discussion and planning. But when that fundamentally sound idea met constant anxiety over test scores in K-12 schools across the United States, data walls leaked out of staff-room doors and down the halls. Today, a quick search on Pinterest yields hundreds of versions of children’s test scores hung in public view.
Diving Into Data,” a 2014 paper published jointly by the nonprofit Jobs for the Future and the U.S. Education Department, offers step-by-step instructions for data walls that “encourage student engagement” and “ensure students know the classroom or school improvement goals and provide a path for students to reach those goals.” The assumption is that students will want to take that path — that seeing their scores in relationship to others’ will motivate them to new heights of academic achievement. They are meant to think: Oh, the green dots show my hard work, yellow means I have more work to do, and red means wow, I really need to buckle down. Now I will pay attention in class and ask questions! I have a plan!
How efficient it would be if simply publishing our weaknesses galvanized us to learn exactly This ed-reform trend is supposed to motivate students. Instead, it shames them. - The Washington Post:

News Analysis: Education fight ‘over shades of Democrat’ | CALmatters

News Analysis: Education fight ‘over shades of Democrat’ | CALmatters:
Education fight ‘over shades of Democrat’

A group that lobbies to change public education is pouring money into a handful of Northern California legislative races ahead of the June 7 election, aiming to influence the kind of Democrats who hold power in the state Capitol.

Democrats make up a solid majority of the Legislature, but they do not agree on everything. A band of business-friendly Democrats has gained enough clout to buck more liberal Democrats on some environmental issues. Campaign spending by EdVoice, an advocacy group that supports charter schools and tying student test scores to teacher evaluations, reveals an attempt to build a cohort of Democrats who might break from their colleagues on some education issues, too. At stake are pressing questions about how to help the most disadvantaged students succeed in the nation’s largest public school system.

“In California, we’re fighting over shades of Democrat,” said political consultant Phil Giarrizzo, who represents Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, one of the Democrats backed by EdVoice.

Teachers unions have been a prevailing influence on Democrats for decades. EdVoice, funded by philanthropists from the business world, is part of a counterforce that often supports policies opposed by organized labor. Unions and school reformers have sparred over charter schools, teacher tenure and how to measure school performance – dividing Democrats at many levels of government.

The tension has been obvious in the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama, who’s come under fire from national teachers unions. It surfaced in California’s 2014 race for state superintendent, when the California Teachers Association spent big to elect Democrat Tom Torlakson, while reform groups put money behind Democratic challenger Marshall Tuck.

Now it’s emerging in a cluster of legislative races that stretch from the Bay Area cities of Concord and Vallejo to rural swaths of Yolo and Napa counties. With super-PAC style independent expenditures, EdVoice has spent nearly $2.3 million as of May 17 on four races, blanketing the region with mailers supporting Democrats who are not endorsed by the California Teachers Association. EdVoice has spent more on these races in the last month than the candidates themselves did in the first four months of the year. On May 16, the group poured about $86,000 into a fifth race based in Silicon Valley.

Two of the races are for open Assembly seats and demonstrate a clear schism between EdVoice, supporting lesser-known Democrats, and the CTA, backing those with family ties to elected officials:

In the 4th Assembly District (mostly Napa, Yolo and Sonoma counties) EdVoice is supporting Winters Mayor Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, while CTA has endorsed Davis Mayor Dan Wolk, son of outgoing-Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis).

Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (left) and Dan Wolk (right).

In the 14th Assembly District (mostly Contra Costa and Solano counties) EdVoice is supporting Concord Mayor Tim Grayson, while CTA has endorsed Mae Torlakson, wife of the state superintendent.

 Wolk and Torlakson each received $8,500 contributions from CTA, but the union has not spent money on independent campaigns so far. CTA spokeswoman Claudia Briggs wouldn’t say if the union plans to do so. Its endorsements, she said, reflect vetting by local teachers and school employees.

“The candidate that gets their recommendation is somebody who is … committed to working alongside them to make sure our students across this state have everything they need,” Briggs said.

The other two races where EdVoice is funding campaigns are in Senate districts where CTA has not made endorsements. EdVoice is supporting incumbent Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), a moderate Democrat who was opposed by labor in earlier elections, and Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa), a former Republican who registered as a Democrat in 2012. The seats overlap the 4th and 14th Assembly districts.News Analysis: Education fight ‘over shades of Democrat’ | CALmatters:

Judge calls Redding charter school’s bankruptcy bid “inappropriate gamesmanship”

Judge calls Redding charter school’s bankruptcy bid “inappropriate gamesmanship”:

Judge calls Redding charter school’s bankruptcy bid “inappropriate gamesmanship”

Record Searchlight file photo  Members of the California Teachers Association, parents and students protest outside a meeting of the Academy of Personalized Learning in 2014 in Redding.
Record Searchlight file photo Members of the California Teachers Association, parents and students protest outside a meeting of the Academy of Personalized Learning in 2014 in Redding.

A federal judge says a Redding charter school only tried to file for bankruptcy to get out of further hearings on accusations it retaliated against union employees — an "in appropriate gamesmanship" tactic that showed "a disregard for the availability of this court's resources."

Now that the judge has not only rebuked the school but ruled against its bid for bankruptcy — which opponents say the school argued would have exempted it from simultaneous hearings — the Academy of Personalized Learning will have to face those hearings after all.

The newly formed union, Academy of Personalized Learning Education Association, has said from the beginning that the academy's bid for Chapter 11 bankruptcy only seemed to be a strategy to avoid the ongoing court case alleging school executives fired teachers for unionizing, since its budget numbers weren't actually in the red when the filing was announced late last year.

 But the judge's condemnation of the maneuver is now validation of that, said former teacher Candy Woodson, one of the fired union members.

"It was really refreshing to see somebody ... who is a trained judge look at all this stuff and say, 'Baloney. This is a ploy,'" Woodson said.

Fellow former teacher Mark Youmans agreed.

"It looks like the system actually works, because we felt all along the bankruptcy filing was simply to avoid (the hearings)," he said.

Youmans and Woodson said they formed a union in the first place not for benefits or wage increases but because they and other teachers had concerns with the direction the school was taking. Among their chief allegations was that — despite its public school status — school officials treated it like an elite private school that would only take high-achieving students in order to look better.

APL's executive director, Patricia Dougherty, didn't return messages seeking comment Wednesday, nor did Gateway Unified School District Superintendent Jim Judge calls Redding charter school’s bankruptcy bid “inappropriate gamesmanship”:

Don’t let statistics do a number on our children – The Review

Don’t let statistics do a number on our children – The Review:

Don’t let statistics do a number on our children 

More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing | Haymarket Books

 Think back to graduating high school.  While you’re celebrating with friends and devouring yummy food at your graduation party, did it ever cross your mind, that you were part of the 2.9 million out of the 3.8 million high schoolers graduating in 2015? What might have happened to the other 900,000 high school students who should’ve walked across the stage too? Some of these statistics we know all too well. According to the Washington Post,

  • Black students had only a 69% graduation rate,
  • Hispanic students had a 73% rate,
  • Asian students had a 88% graduation rate and
  • Caucasian students had an 86% rate.
Rather than helping level the playing field, our education system promotes inequality but the failure of our system does not stop with inequality. While the inequality amongst students is a factor, the problem starts long before graduation.  It starts with the teacher.
Teachers are the key to every student’s success. The way we are rewarding teachers arose from the federal law, The No Child Left Behind Act. In order to achieve the goal of being above average on state standardized tests, schools pay teachers based on student performance.
The result of this is teachers are teaching to the state standardized tests rather than physical education, arts, and history—all the things we found joy in learning about.
Without performance pay looming over their head the teacher could provide extra nourishment to children who lack a stable and positive home life. The extra nourishment could be all the child needs to stay motivated in school; however, it is nearly impossible for this to happen when the teacher is required to focus on the standardized test which will increase their below average salary of 40,000 dollars if students perform well.
Just how bad are American schools? Even the strongest schools are unable to compete globally.
The problems our children face stem from issues having nothing to do with education but in the end, wind up impacting it.
Flashback to your time in high school. Which is the easiest to remember? The anticipation of senior prom or Pythagorean’s Theorem? When social engagement between students was evaluated the United States came out in first.
To put things in perspective, for the majority of us, high school was a time to socialize, “working” in groups to finish an assignment as fast as possible so we could get back to playing each other in Trivia Crack.
While there are some benefits to social engagement, a study done by the National Center for Education Statistics shows when measuring academic engagement we came in far lower than our chief economic rivals. High schools in the United States require the bare minimum to graduate and that is setting up young students to fail in college. The social aspect of high school is a small factor that contributes to why less than 25% of our graduates are ready to attend a college or university.
A reason for the lack of preparedness can be seen in a poll distributed by CNN showing, 75% of high school students engage in “serious cheating” which entails:
  • Plagiarism
  • Using phones during an exam
  • Copying work from classmates.
After the results were calculated CNN came to the conclusion that to alleviate the mounting stress to constantly perform at the highest level, students cheat, compromising their own education as a Don’t let statistics do a number on our children – The Review:

Primary dollars: It’s David vs. Goliath vs. Ant-Man in the battle to be Sacramento’s next mayor - Sacramento News & Review

Sacramento News & Review - Primary dollars: It’s David vs. Goliath vs. Ant-Man in the battle to be Sacramento’s next mayor - Feature Story - Local Stories - May 19, 2016:

Primary dollars: It’s David vs. Goliath vs. Ant-Man in the battle to be Sacramento’s next mayor

Follow the dollar trail with our breakdown of each candidate’s most spendy supporters

Darrell Steinberg

 You can learn a lot by digging through people’s financial records.

Case in point: In the race to be Sacramento’s next mayor, the varying support for former state Sen. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Councilwoman Angelique Ashby—the top contenders to replace outgoing Mayor Kevin Johnson—comes down to scale.
According to the most recent batch of campaign disclosure statements filed to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, covering January 1 through April 23, Steinberg and Ashby receive monetary tributes from many of the same interests—builders and developers, public safety unions and attorneys, retirees—and sometimes the very same people. (24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov has some explaining to do at the next fundraiser.)
It’s just that Steinberg has received a whole lot more from a larger variety of zip codes.
It’s kind of an apples-and-oranges deal. The termed-out senate leader recently transferred approximately $1.4 million from an untapped lieutenant governor campaign account. In doing so, he capsized a midmarket political race that may end up being the city’s most expensive.
But what is all this money buying—and what favors could Sacramento’s next mayor owe when she or he takes up the gavel? SN&R combed hundreds of pages of financial records to find out.
While it’s too soon to say whether money can buy the love of Sacramento voters, it has injected drama into what was once a polite affair.
Some other things to note: Due to the transfer, more than two-thirds’ of Steinberg’s war chest originates from outside the city of Sacramento. Which makes sense, since he was a state politician storing up for a possible statewide run that didn’t materialize.

The Sacramento City Teachers Association and the Sacramento City Unified School District are on a collision course.Sacramento News & Review

Sacramento News & Review - Basic budgeting - Greenlight - Opinions - May 19, 2016:

The Sacramento City Teachers Association and the Sacramento City Unified School District are on a collision course.

Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.

Basic budgeting

Health benefit savings could have paid for wage increases

The Sacramento City Teachers Association and the Sacramento City Unified School District are on a collision course. The negotiations have been stalled for months. The district has proposed a 2.5 percent wage hike and the teachers association wants 5 percent instead. On May 12, the union escalated the tensions, with the SCTA work council unanimously approving a one-day-strike vote. If the membership approves, then the SCTA bargaining team can set the date for a strike.
The union correctly points out that its teachers are paid less than other California teachers, particularly those in the Bay Area and the big districts in Southern California. The district correctly points out that the costs for health benefits for SCTA are significantly more than other California teachers’. SCTA teachers receive around $20,000 in benefits annually, while the average cost of a teacher’s benefits in California is $13,000.
The union says that the lower wages have made it hard for the district to find qualified teachers. The district counters that if you include the cost of benefits, SCTA teachers’ total compensation is actually higher than compensation in the districts that are the most comparable to Sacramento’s cost of living—Elk Grove and San Juan.
While there will and should be differences of opinion between the union representatives and the district administrators, what is frustrating about this dispute is that it could possibly have been avoided with just a bit more cooperation between the union and the district.
Here’s how. According to the district, the difference between the offered 2.5 percent and the Sacramento News & Review - Basic budgeting - Greenlight - Opinions - May 19, 2016:

Who’s Blocking Obama From Helping Poor Schools? -- NYMag

Who’s Blocking Obama From Helping Poor Schools? -- NYMag:

Who’s Blocking Obama From Helping Poor Schools? 

John King Jr., Lamar Alexander, Bobby Scott
Senate Education Committee Chairman Senator Lamar Alexander with Education Secretary Dr. John King Jr. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP
Congress is embroiled in an education policy fight that, while it revolves around esoteric policy details, profoundly clarifies the strange new battle lines on education policy that have been formed by the Obama administration’s education reforms. The debate centers on a plan to increase funding for poor public schools. In favor of the plan are the Obama administration and civil-rights groups. Standing in opposition are congressional Republicans and teachers unions. This strange collection of allies is not an anomaly. This is what the education policy fight looks like now.
The policy fight in question is an Obama administration proposal to require school districts to use Title I funds to help their poorest schools more than their richest ones. (Even within a school districts, more affluent schools often spend more per child than poorer schools.) Not surprisingly, organizations like the NAACP, the Children’s Defense Fund, and the National Council of La Raza support this idea. Also unsurprisingly, Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate Education Committee, opposes it. What may be surprising to some is who has joined Alexander: the two giant teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, who have signed a letter supporting Alexander.
Why would the unions oppose a plan to shift resources to poor public schools? Because one of the reasons for the disparity in funding between rich and poor schools is the structure of teacher contracts, which tie Who’s Blocking Obama From Helping Poor Schools? -- NYMag:

PARCC's ultimatim in test leak riles educators |

Publisher's ultimatim in test leak riles educators |

PARCC's ultimatim in test leak riles educators

A long-simmering dissatisfaction over standardized testing came to a head this month when an academic uploaded a handful of test items to the Internet and promptly got a note from the test’s creator, threatening legal action if she didn’t take down the items — and name her source.
The academic, Celia Oyler of Columbia University’s Teachers College, took down the items, which she said came to her anonymously. But the episode is irking educators and other observers who already believe that the powerful forces behind the tests are hijacking not just the educations of millions of children but, in this case, teachers’ rights to free speech. They note, for instance, that tweets about the episode have been taken down at the test publisher's request.
The controversy began nearly two weeks ago, when Oyler posted a lengthy essay by an anonymous teacher who set out to show that the fourth-grade reading test designed by the non-profit Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, is “developmentally inappropriate” for the children taking it this spring in a handful of states. The blog post included details from three test items.
Five days later, after other bloggers had shared the post, Oyler got an e-mail from PARCC CEO Laura Slover, who respectfully asked her to remove the items. They were protected by copyright, she said, and were “live” test questions, still being used in schools. The postings, Slover said, “threaten the utility of the assessments, both as their administration is completed over the next few weeks and in versions of the assessment to be administered in the future.” 
She said the anonymous teacher, who’d admitted in the essay that he or she had “breached a written undertaking not to reveal any of the material,” was clearly avoiding personal responsibility by remaining anonymous. Slover said PARCC would waive any damage claims if Oyler would take down the items and “turn over to us any information you may have about the teacher.”
She had 24 hours to comply.
In an interview, Oyler said that if PARCC set out to threaten her, it worked: “It took me five minutes to take those items down,” she said. “Of course it took me another 10 minutes to start finding a lawyer.”
PARCC is one of two groups commissioned to create tests based on new Common Core standards in math and reading. The standards — and the tests — have come under fire from critics on both the left and right, with a few educators saying the tests are poorly written and force teachers to squeeze out more satisfying subjects that schools have traditionally taught.
“You’re no longer permitted in many places to engage in rich, project-based, authentic learning, which is how we know children learn,” Oyler said. “We know this from years and years of research.”
In a few cases, tests items simply didn’t make sense: in one incident in 2012, students piloting a Common Core reading test complained about a baffling question involving a talking Publisher's ultimatim in test leak riles educators |
 Big Education Ape: Ed Bloggers Take On PARCC Test, Defying Intimidation Efforts - Living in Dialogue

Big Education Ape: No secrecy for tests used on our children! | Parents Across America