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Monday, June 6, 2016

The Waiting Game Sacramento City Unified’s central kitchen slow to progress | Comstock's magazine

The Waiting Game | Comstock's magazine:

The Waiting Game

Sacramento City Unified’s central kitchen slow to progress

Image of The Waiting Game
I’m a locavore — an advocate for eating local food. Local food tastes better. Sadly, kids eating school lunches rarely know the joys of a blueberry or tomato grown in their own communities. In Sacramento, school cafeterias don’t have the equipment or capacity to store and prepare fresh, local food. They’re designed mainly to warm frozen, processed food.
In 2012, taxpayers approved Measure R to fund a solution to this problem: build a “central kitchen,” a large kitchen that serves as a hub for the whole district, where meals are prepared from scratch daily and distributed same-day to all schools. Yet, four years later, kids are still waiting for a better school lunch.
On May 5, the Sacramento City Unified School District school board received an assessment from the Central Kitchen Task Force about the viability of local properties for a central kitchen site. I’m on the task force, and I joined a group of food activists at the meeting to speak in favor of building the central kitchen and to inspire a sense of urgency to keep the project on track. Two feasible sites have been identified. One is owned by the district, but not centrally located to school sites. The other is favorably located next to the SCUSD’s existing food warehouse, but isn’t owned by the district. No action has been taken yet to select a site — the first barrier standing between Sacramento students and their local watermelon. Board Member Jay Hansen, who appointed the task force, says he anticipates an action on property by August.
Let me provide context for the problems that lead to the need for a central kitchen. It’s not the fault of “lunch ladies” that our kids aren’t eating fresh school meals; it’s a systems-level problem that runs much deeper. Through my job as executive director of the Food Literacy Center and as a volunteer appointee of the SCUSD’s task force, I work closely with district staff from the Nutrition Services Department. They’re the ones banging their pots and pans the loudest to resolve the fresh food issue, working to fill school lunches with local fruits and veggies (defined by the district as grown within 250 miles). But making these dreams come true takes a lot of work.
“If Sacramento is to deliver on its promise as the Farm-to-Fork Capital, we need to start with what we feed students in our schools,” says Nutrition Services Director Brenda Padilla. With a master’s degree in human nutrition, she’s the one in charge of the meals our kids eat. And she’s eager to improve the choices offered to them.
Campuses Not Equipped
When it comes to serving local food, the story is like an orange with a very stubborn peel: It’s hard to get to the good stuff. In this case, federal school lunch regulations don’t stand in the way  — it’s a problem of equipment and infrastructure.
Many SCUSD campuses were built during an era when processed foods reigned supreme, with small kitchens designed to serve one goal: heat and serve. They are tiny spaces without much prep or The Waiting Game | Comstock's magazine:

Charter schools’ dire lesson: Deregulation invariably leads to disaster -

Charter schools’ dire lesson: Deregulation invariably leads to disaster -

Charter schools’ dire lesson: Deregulation invariably leads to disaster
Moneyed interests have turned learning laboratories into just another racket, plagued by questions of transparency

 The original concept of charter schools emerged nationally more than two decades ago and was intended to support community efforts to open up education. Albert Shanker, then president of the American Federation of Teachers union, lauded the charter idea in 1988 as way to propel social mobility for working class kids and to give teachers more decision-making power.

“There was a sense from the start that they would develop models for the broader system,” John Rogers tells Capital & Main. Rogers, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles’ Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, is director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access. He adds that charter schools were to be laboratories where parents and educators would work together to craft the best possible learning environment and to serve as engines of innovation and social equity.
But critics of today’s market-based charter movement say monied interests have turned those learning labs into models for capital capture in the Golden State and beyond–“the charter school gravy train,” as Forbes describes it. Charters are publicly funded but privately managed and, like most privately run businesses, the schools prefer to avoid transparency in their operations. This often has brought negative publicity to the schools – last month the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the principal of El Camino Real Charter High School charged more than $100,000 in expenses to his school-issued credit card, many of them for personal use.
“Information belongs to the public,” says Daniel Losen, who conducts law and policy research on education equality issues. “To the extent that you think choice should benefit parents—good choices are made with good information.” Losen co-authored a March, 2016 report about charter schools’ disciplinary policies, produced by theCenter for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.
Billions of taxpayer dollars have flowed into expanding America’s privately-run charter school system over the past two decades, including $3.3 billion in federal funds alone, reports an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy. California has the nation’s largest number of charter schools, with most of them located in Los Angeles County. But in an age when words like “accountability” and “transparency” dominate political discourse, the financial mechanics of charters receive less oversight and scrutiny than the average public school bake sale.
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools candidly spells out the Golden State’slaissez fairerules of the game on its website: “California law provides that charter schools are automatically exempt from most laws governing school districts.”
The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) has explicitly opposed state legislation that would clearly define the existing transparency laws and codes for charter schools — standards charters can now avoid despite their use of public funds.
“Charters don’t have to disclose budgets,” says Jackie Goldberg, a long-time Los Angeles school teacher and former Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board president, who also served in the California State Assembly. “Once a charter is written, it’s not subject to the Brown or the Public Records acts.”
The CCSA opposes several bills currently progressing through the state legislature that would bring charter school transparency requirements into line with those expected of public schools. One measure spells out the expectation that charters would follow the same standards as public schools when it comes to the Public Records Act that guarantees access to public records; CCSA argues that most charter schools already voluntarily comply—so the law is Charter schools’ dire lesson: Deregulation invariably leads to disaster -

Debate over transgender use of bathrooms & locker rooms | WBFO

Debate over transgender use of bathrooms & locker rooms | WBFO:

Debate over transgender use of bathrooms & locker rooms

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

Many school districts are working to draft a transgender policy to protect a student’s rights.  The transgender issue effects not only students in K through 12, but at colleges and universities. WBFO's Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley says there is no one set policy in place for schools to follow.
Inside a school bathroom.
A few weeks ago President Obama issued a directive to public schools across the U.S. stating transgender students should use a bathroom or locker room in which they 'identify with'.
"I think some districts are absolutely struggling with this situations. They want to make sure individuals, students are 100-percent protected from any discrimination,” said Traci Lopardi, Attorney, Harris Beach in Buffalo.
Traci Lopardi, Attorney, Harris Beach in Buffalo, specializes in education law.
The law firm represents more than 150-school districts across the state and more than 50-school districts in western New York. Lopardi specializes in education law. As the debate continues over a transgender student's rights in a school, Lopardi said the Obama directive was issued in a joint letter from the Department of Justice and Department of Education.
“And that guidance, while it doesn’t have the same force of law, that’s certainly that is something that various educational institutions need to consider, because otherwise they could potentially lose federal funding. We’ve seen some lawsuits around the country, but certainly the Department of Justice becoming involved with some various schools and telling them that they must provide appropriate facilities to transgender individuals, otherwise they will lose federal funds,” Lopardi explained.
Almost a year ago here in New York the State Education Department issued a Debate over transgender use of bathrooms & locker rooms | WBFO:

The Media Still Doesn't Grasp Problems with Bill Gates Control of Ed Policy | Truth in American Education

The Media Still Doesn't Grasp Problems with Bill Gates Control of Ed Policy | Truth in American Education:

The Media Still Doesn't Grasp Problems with Bill Gates Control of Ed Policy 

Photo credit: World Economic Forum (CC-By-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: World Economic Forum (CC-By-SA 2.0)

We’ve written about the Gates Foundation’s admission that its efforts to impose Common Core nationwide were misguided and ineffective. Remarkably, the mainstream media have begun to analyze the relatively unexamined problems with allowing one unelected man – even one who is very very very rich – to control public-education policy. But although they’ve taken a small step in the right direction, they still miss some essential conclusions.
Case in point: a recent column in the Los Angeles Times, promisingly entitled “Gates Foundation Failures Show Philanthropists Shouldn’t Be Setting America’s Public School Agenda.” The Timescorrectly observed that “the Gates Foundation strongly supported the proposed Common Core curriculum standards, helping to bankroll not just their development, but the political effort to have them quickly adopted and implemented by states.” Agreeing with and elaborating on the foundation’s admission of “stumbling,” the Times concluded that Gates accumulated “an unhealthy amount of power” and was given “too much sway in recent years over how schools are run.”
Too bad no one ever saw this problem before. Oh wait – thousands of parents and other concerned observers have been protesting for years now Gates’s assault on local control over education, and his blunderbuss attempts to remake schools in his own image. But not until his foundation itself admits what has been glaringly obvious for some time does the Times notice the situation.
Perhaps we shouldn’t criticize the Johnny-come-latelies in the press but rather welcome them to the train wreck. But they richly deserve criticism for still clinging to the shreds of Common Core propaganda that Gates and other proponents continue to recycle. From the same Times piece: “Financial support for Common Core isn’t a bad thing. When the standards are implemented well, The Media Still Doesn't Grasp Problems with Bill Gates Control of Ed Policy | Truth in American Education:

Does Teaching Experience Matter? Let's Count the Ways

Does Teaching Experience Matter? Let's Count the Ways:

Does Teaching Experience Matter? Let’s Count the Ways

does teaching experience matter?
One of the most popular pieces of conventional wisdom in the national debate over education is that teachers lose the capacity to further improve student achievement after only a few years in the classroom – their effectiveness plateaus early in their careers. This perception has framed debates on everything from teacher quality, professional pay, due process, and teacher retention and recruitment.
But is it supported by research? The Learning Policy Institute recently dove into existing data, surveys and reports to shed some light on the relationship between teaching experience and student outcomes.
The verdict: experience matters – even in the second decade of teaching and beyond.
“The common refrain that teaching experience does not matter after the first few years in the classroom is no longer supported by the preponderance of the research,” Tara Kini and Anne Podolsky write in Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? “We find that teaching experience is, on average, positively associated with student achievement gains throughout a teacher’s career.”
Based on their analysis of 30 studies published over the past 15 years, Kini and Podolsky find that:
  • Gains in teacher effectiveness are most striking during the first five years in the classroom, but continue to increase – albeit at a slower pace – during the second, and often third, decade of a career.
  • As teachers gain experience, students’ academic gains are not the only benefit. School attendance also improves.
  • For teachers to be effective at any point in their career, they must be a part of a supportive and collegial school environment. Stability in teaching assignments is also key. Teachers are most effective in the same grade level, subject, or district.
  • More experienced teachers support greater student learning for their colleagues and the school as a whole, as well as for their own students. Novice teachers, in particular, benefit most from having more experienced colleagues.
Why take this issue on now? Aside from the fact that recent research uses more precise and accurate methods (see figure below), Kini and Podolsky say that the Does Teaching Experience Matter? Let's Count the Ways:

SHOCKER: Walton Funds Illinois State Charter Commission, Which Blocks Closure of Failing Charter Schools Funded by Walton | Diane Ravitch's blog

SHOCKER: Walton Funds Illinois State Charter Commission, Which Blocks Closure of Failing Charter Schools Funded by Walton | Diane Ravitch's blog:

SHOCKER: Walton Funds Illinois State Charter Commission, Which Blocks Closure of Failing Charter Schools Funded by Walton

 The Chicago Sun-Times reported on a startling conflict of interest.

The rightwing, anti-union Walton Family Foundation has been funding the Illinois State Charter School Commission, a state agency, as well as many charter schools in Illinois. When the Chicago Public Schools recommended closing two charter schools because of their poor performance, the Commission blocked the closing. The two failing charters were also funded by the Walton Family Foundation.
Have you ever heard of a public agency that relied for funding on a private foundation with a political agenda of privatization?
Reporters Dan Mihalopoulos and Lauren FitzPatrick write:
A private foundation started by the late Walmart mogul Sam Walton and his wife has contributed heavily to the Illinois State Charter School Commission and to two charter operators whose schools the state agency has blocked the Chicago Board of Education from closing over poor student performance, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Even in the complex history of public education in Chicago, the situation involving the two charters, the Chicago Public Schools, the charter commission and the Arkansas-based Walton Family Foundation is unusual.
Unusual is an understatement.
For years, CPS has faced criticism for allowing the expansion and taxpayer-financed funding of privately run charters even as it shut down traditional public schools over low enrollment and bad test scores.

Aiming to show it expects charters to meet the same standards as CPS schools, the Board of Ed moved last November to cut off funding for three schools — including the Amandla Charter School in Englewood and Lighthouse Academies’ school in Bronzeville — over poor student performance. The charter commission overruled the Board of Ed and, in March, blocked CPS from closing the schools.
Beside Amandla and the Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School, the commission also saved the Betty Shabazz International Charter School’s Barbara A. Sizemore Campus in Englewood from being closed. The Walton foundation hasn’t donated to Shabazz.
CPS responded later in March by suing the state agency over its ruling, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s schools chief, Forrest Claypool, called “ill-advised and destructive.”
Over the past 20 years, the Walton foundation has given more than $45 million to educational groups in Illinois, including charter schools and the SHOCKER: Walton Funds Illinois State Charter Commission, Which Blocks Closure of Failing Charter Schools Funded by Walton | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Just Published! A Revised Edition of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education” | Diane Ravitch's blog

Just Published! A Revised Edition of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education” | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Just Published! A Revised Edition of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education”

The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education: Diane Ravitch: 9780465025572: Books -

 I am very pleased to let you know about the publication of a newly revised edition of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

Perhaps you read it when it was first released in 2010. It was big news at the time, because I broke ranks with the conservative think tanks and policymakers who had once been my allies. I spoke out against the misuse of testing and the dangers of privatization. This was unexpected from someone who had been an Assistant Secretary of Education in the administration of President George H. W. Bush, who served as part of three conservative think tanks, and who had written many articles about the “crisis” in American education.
I thought I had made a clean break with the Bush-Obama agenda. But in time I realized that I had not completely escaped the old, failed way of thinking (like a state, tinkering with people’s lives from afar). The book continued my longstanding support for a national curriculum and predicted that it would be smooth sailing now that the culture wars were over. I was wrong again!
In this new revision of the book, I have removed any endorsement for a national curriculum or national standards or national tests, and I explain why. The controversy over the Common Core standards taught me that the U.S. will never have a national curriculum, and furthermore, should never have one.
I also explain why a national curriculum and national examinations will not reduce the achievement gap among different racial and ethnic groups and will not reduce poverty. The advocacy for them–from the same people who support privatization–continues to be an excuse for avoiding the issue of poverty. And I rewrote the chapter on “A Nation at Risk,” showing how it dodged the most important issues in our society, which were economic and social, not educational.
Yes, there is a “crisis” in education, but it is not a crisis of test scores or failing schools. The crisis is caused by policymakers, federal officials, foundations, and business leaders who are imposing failed ideas on the schools. These impositions are hurting students, teachers, principals, communities, and public education itself. They have failed and failed, again and again, but those who support the Bush-Obama agenda of competition, choice, testing, and accountability refuse to re-examine their assumptions. Their inability to recognize their own failure has created disruption (which they admire), turmoil, and massive demoralization among educators.
I hope you will consider reading the book. I think that D&L continues to speak with passion to the terrible and real crisis in American education, a crisis caused by non-educators who want to turn our schools into job-training units, who want to emphasize standardized testing to the detriment of students, educators, and public schools, and who foolishly think that privatization will improve education.Just Published! A Revised Edition of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education” | Diane Ravitch's blog:

6 June 2016 Reader: Mythbuster Edition – the becoming radical

6 June 2016 Reader: Mythbuster Edition – the becoming radical:

6 June 2016 Reader: Mythbuster Edition

In the spirit that feels appropriate in the wake of the death of Muhammad Ali—and the concurrent failure of mainstream reflections ignoring or whitewashing the real history of his life—I offer below a collection of education-related links that can serve as powerful mythbusters for the ongoing false claims common in the mainstream media and among political leaders as well as edureformers.
Charter Schools
Regardless of motives, the charter initiatives in Oakland and Los Angeles together signal a significant watershed in the growth of a statewide movement that was birthed by California’s Charter Schools Act of 1992 to create classroom laboratories that might develop the dynamic new curricula and teaching methods needed to reinvigorate schools that were failing the state’s most underserved and disadvantaged children.
How that modest experiment in fixing neighborhood public schools could morph in less than 25 years into the replacement of public schools with an unproven parallel system of privately run, taxpayer-funded academies is only half the story of California’s education wars that will be examined in this series, much of which is based on conversations with both sides of the charter school debate. Over the next few days Capital & Main will also look at:
  • The influence wielded by libertarian philanthropists who bankroll the 50-50 takeovers.
  • How charter schools spend less time and money on students with learning disabilities.
  • The lack of charter school transparency and accountability.
  • How charter expansion is pushing Oakland’s public school district toward a fateful tipping point.
  • The success of less radical yet more effective reforms that get scant media coverage.
  • Nine solution takeaways for struggling schools.
Teacher Effectiveness/Experience
Based on our review of 30 studies published within the last 15 years that analyze the effect of teaching experience on student outcomes in the United States and met our methodological criteria, we find that:
  1. Teaching experience is positively associated with student achievement gains throughout a teacher’s career. Gains in teacher effectiveness associated with 6 June 2016 Reader: Mythbuster Edition – the becoming radical:




One of the dreams of ed reform has been to come up with a system that is teacher-proof, a program or script or curriculum that works exactly the same way no matter what carbon-based life form you have propped up in front of the classroom.

Systems are particularly appealing as a method of controlling "bad" actors, with "bad" defined as "does not do what I want them to do." This is a false hope, a snare and a delusion. Systems rarely fix bad actors, and frequently hamstring your best people.

You have a troupe of dancers, some of leap and soar and move with grace and beauty, and a few of whom dart around the stage like spastic rhinos. So to get the rhinos slowed down and under control, you put everyone in the company in forty-pound cement shoes. The rhinos are now chastened and restrained, but your best dancers can no longer leap and soar and move with grace and beauty.

You worry that the cooks in your restaurant have too much variety, some producing genius blends of flavor and texture and culinary awesomeness, while others can barely make meatloaf. So you create a menu system with easy instructions that anybody can follow that will always result in a predictably consistent product. Congratulations. You are now McDonalds, and nobody is ever going to go to your restaurant because they are in the mood for excellence.

You want your students to write with structure and organization, so you teach the five paragraph format. In fact, you strictly enforce the five paragraph system so that nobody wanders off the farm 

CURMUDGUCATION: Remedial Baloney

Big Education Ape: CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: June Is Busting Out


Who Uses Educational Research? And How? - Living in Dialogue

Who Uses Educational Research? And How? - Living in Dialogue:

Who Uses Educational Research? And How?

By John Thompson.
My first response to The Push and Pull of Research: Lessons from a Multi-site Study of Research Use in Education Policy, by Christopher Lubienski, Elizabeth Debray, Janelle Scott, was clichéd. Being an optimist, I’ve kept asking why education research is misused so badly, and when smart and sincere scholars will revise their methodologies to something more reality-based than the regression studies used to justify corporate school reform. So, my response to the reality-slap in the face that is “The Push and Pull of Research” was “thanks, I needed that.”
Lubienski, Debray, and Scott “conducted scores of interviews with individuals from organizations that play a brokering role between research producers and users (policymakers), including advocacy organizations, think tanks, and media outlets.” They were particularly interested in how advocacy groups and think tanks, known as intermediary organizations, “conveyed research evidence that would illuminate policy discussions.” It is bad enough that these powerful people seem to merely assume that policy must be based on incentives and disincentives, as opposed to more comprehensive and coordinated, holistic policies. I was still dismayed to read, however, that they found philanthropies to be “largely inert ‘consumers’ of research,” while intermediary organizations (IOs) were very active in “brokering or selling particular versions of research evidence to them.”
Lubienski, Debray, and Scott asked whether these IOs gained influence because of “pull factors,” or the desire of big philanthropists to make evidence-based decisions in regard to social policy and solutions. Or, did the IOs get access through “push factors,” such as their abilities in self-promotion and the cultivating institutional “brand?”
Sadly, Lubienski, Debray, and Scott discovered that “research played virtually no part in decision making for policymakers, despite their frequent rhetorical embrace of the value of research.” Instead, they documented “a remarkable amount of ‘pushing’ of research to policymakers by IOs.” They then asked “an interesting question as to why so much in the way of time and resources would be devoted to getting evidence to Who Uses Educational Research? And How? - Living in Dialogue:

Jersey Jazzman: No, Eva, You Can't Do Whatever You Want

Jersey Jazzman: No, Eva, You Can't Do Whatever You Want:

No, Eva, You Can't Do Whatever You Want

When Eva Moskowitz doesn't get exactly what she wants she stomps her feet, takes her ball and goes home:

Success Academy Charter Schools won’t offer pre-kindergarten classes next year after losing a high-profile fight with city and state officials.
The charter network has refused to sign the city’s pre-K contract, arguing that it includes inappropriate regulations about how charter schools manage their time and design their curriculum. But neither Mayor Bill de Blasio nor State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has allowed Success to bend the rules, and both have insisted that Success sign the contract or lose funding. 
In recent months, Success officials have continued their fight in court. But with no resolution in sight, the city’s largest charter-school network will close its three existing pre-K programs and will not open two more planned for next school year, CEO Eva Moskowitz announced Wednesday.
“It is unbelievably sad to tell parents and teachers that the courts won’t rescue our pre-K program from the mayor’s war on Success in time to open next year,” Moskowitz said.
There are two issues here: first, does the city have the right to demand that Success sign a contract before it gets funding for its Pre-K program? Reading Elia's decision in the matter - See more at:

Atlanta Charter Fraudster Chris Clemons was an MIT Featured Attraction in 2007 | deutsch29

Atlanta Charter Fraudster Chris Clemons was an MIT Featured Attraction in 2007 | deutsch29:

Atlanta Charter Fraudster Chris Clemons was an MIT Featured Attraction in 2007

In the summer of 2015, the board of the Latin Academy Charter School (Atlanta)reported that over $600,000 was missing from school accounts.
In April 2016, the school’s founder and leader, Chris Clemons, was arrested in his hometown of Denver and sent back to Atlanta to face charges not only related to the missing $600,000+ from Latin Academy Charter, but also for $350,000+ missing from two other Fulton County (Ga.) schools formerly overseen by Clemons.
Clemons apparently ripped off his own schools to the tune of roughly one million dollars.
However, in September 2007, when Clemons was enrolled at MIT for his MBA and featured in this News@MITSloan article, entitled, “Back to School for Schools,” no one would have guessed that less than a decade later, the same guy would be facing charges for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money entrusted to him for the education of hundreds of Georgia students.
Below are excerpts that read ironic in 2016 from the 2007 MIT feature on Clemons:
Chris Clemons was stunned when he learned that authorities often plan prison space based on how well kids read in the fourth grade. The 28-year-old earned a political science degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and had aspirations of law school, until he discovered that his real calling in life was advocating for impoverished children in urban areas. “I knew I was going to go into education. I wanted to have an impact,” he says.
To boost his teaching experience and see how the other half lived, he took as a job as a middle school teacher at the Germantown Friends School, a posh 
Atlanta Charter Fraudster Chris Clemons was an MIT Featured Attraction in 2007 | deutsch29: