Latest News and Comment from Education

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Mixed ruling on claims Alliance charter school leaders obstructed teachers union organizing | 89.3 KPCC

Mixed ruling on claims Alliance charter school leaders obstructed teachers union organizing | 89.3 KPCC:

Mixed ruling on claims Alliance charter school leaders obstructed teachers union organizing

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Did Los Angeles' largest chain of charter schools attempt to bust its teachers' efforts to unionize? Yes and no, a judge has ruled.
On one hand, Administrative Law Judge Kent Morizawa found administrators at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools acted unlawfully when they blocked teachers union organizers from two campuses and redirected the union's emails to teachers' spam folders for a time.
But in his decision last Friday, he also ruled that three written communications Alliance leaders sent to the charter networks' teachers and parents — all of which criticized the union in the midst of the organizing effort — were in-bounds.
Both the union and the charter network's leaders found something to like in Morizawa's ruling for the state's Public Employment Relations Board.
Representatives of the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, cheered Morizawa's ruling that Alliance's central office, which oversees a network of 27 schools, is subject to state labor laws just like its individual schools — a point the charter network's leaders had disputed.
That portion of the ruling is "absolutely precedent-setting," said attorney Jesús Quiñonez, who represents UTLA. "It’s a major issue with respect to charter schools and labor relations in California."
But while Morizawa ordered the charter network to "cease and desist" from violating those labor laws, Alliance spokesperson Catherine Suitor said Tuesday Mixed ruling on claims Alliance charter school leaders obstructed teachers union organizing | 89.3 KPCC:

Is this part of Teach for America’s rejuvenation effort — or a PR stunt? - The Washington Post

Is this part of Teach for America’s rejuvenation effort — or a PR stunt? - The Washington Post:

Is this part of Teach for America’s rejuvenation effort — or a PR stunt?

Things aren’t going all that well for Teach for America, what with recruitment significantly down and the bloom off of its rosy cachet, so it is now trying to rejuvenate, so to speak.
This story by my Post colleague Emma Brown spells it out, noting that applications have fallen 35 percent during the past three years and that the organization is working to find new ways to attract recruits and putting a broader mission front and center.
What’s that broader mission? Social justice, apparently. How is it getting out the word? Any way it can, including on social media with some rather unusual advertising. In fact, one former TFA member calls its a “PR stunt.”
Formed 25 years ago by Wendy Kopp from an idea she developed in a thesis at Princeton University, TFA is famous for recruiting new college graduates, giving them five or so weeks of training in the summer, and then placing them in high-needs schools, all on the theory that smart young people can, presto, be great teachers with little training and that such a program could help end teaching shortages and student achievement gaps.
TFA became the darling of the pro-market school reform crowd, taking in millions of dollars from wealthy education philanthropists and the Obama administration. What drove critics crazy, along with the minimal training, was that TFA asked its corps members to commit to only two years in a classroom, building in a revolving door that many educators say was unhealthy for students with high needs who need consistency. The two-year commitment was part of TFA’s overall goal, as Kopp said, to create an army of educated people who would take powerful jobs in American society and advocate for public education. As education historianJack Schneider wrote:
TFA’s message about promoting national political and economic aims was equally clear. The organization’s early recruiting letters, for instance, noted that “our nation faces a number of internal threats that call for the help of our brightest young minds.” Implicitly referencing the decline of American manufacturing and the increasing importance of a college education for maintaining economic competitiveness, they asserted that “one thing on which business and government leaders from different industries and political parties agree is that the state of the educational system is threatening America’s future.” As the organization’s first recruiter at Harvard University noted, TFA’s effort to “make America stronger” was “clearly patriotic.”
It also was a great way for corps members to beef up their résumés. In her story, Brown wrote Is this part of Teach for America’s rejuvenation effort — or a PR stunt? - The Washington Post:

I Wish I Could be Saying "Happy Graduation Day" - Lily's Blackboard

I Wish I Could be Saying "Happy Graduation Day" - Lily's Blackboard:

I Wish I Could be Saying “Happy Graduation Day”

This is a letter from Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association to Wildin Acosta and other youth detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who live in fear of deportation. You can add yourown letter here.
Querido Wildin, 
How I wish I could be saying “Happy Graduation Day” to you today.  I know that your heart is heavy that instead of putting on a cap and gown today, as your friends are doing, you are sitting in a deportation center waiting to hear if you can return to your grieving family in North Carolina.13012864_140823686315764_1028463786277179206_n
I want you to know that you are an inspiration to so many of us, Wildin.  You left the violence and danger of your home country seeking legal asylum here.  You made your case to the authorities and worked hard in school while you were waiting for their decision.  You were on your way to school when you were whisked away by those authorities, separated from your mom who is still out of her mind with fear for your safety.  I’m a mom, so I can imagine how she feels.
But it is not fear you inspire, Wildin.  It is courage and hope and determination you inspire.  It took courage to come.  You came because of hope.  You showed determination in not wasting one second of the time you were here demonstrating to the world how much you had to give by studying hard, respecting the community and making friends, including winning the friendship of your teachers and the school support professionals who have organized to help free you.
We believe in you, Wildin.  You have a strong case.  You deserve to be free.  You deserve the graduation day you worked so hard for.  I know this is not a happy graduation day for you.  But it is an important day because it inspires us, as you inspire us, to stand up for you, for Yefri, for Pedro, and all of the other detained youth and for all our students who are fighting to make something of their lives. 
We love you, Wildin.  Stay strong.  We will stay strong for you.
·       Send your own letter of support and hope to Wildin and the other detained students      
National Call in Day to DHS:  Stop the Raids!
JUNE 8th, 2016
9am -5pm
Tell DHS Secretary Johnson to release detained youth now and to halt the raids that are separating families. Call 202-282-8000
I Wish I Could be Saying "Happy Graduation Day" - Lily's Blackboard:

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: If school reform is the 'civil rights issue of our time', it's been a dismal flop.

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: If school reform is the 'civil rights issue of our time', it's been a dismal flop.:

If school reform is the 'civil rights issue of our time', it's been a dismal flop.

During Arne Duncan's seven-year hitch as Obama's Ed. Sec., while he was using federal funds to punish mostly black and Latino, inner-city schools for their low test scores under Race To The Top, he was fond of calling school reform, "the civil rights issue of our time".  It's a claim being repeated by his successor John King.

Well if corporate-style reform, ie. testing madness, turnarounds, school closings, mass teacher firings and charters, is aimed at promoting equity and civil rights, it's been a dismal failure by all measures.

For example, there been a strong link established between "school choice" programs and an increase in student segregation by race, ethnicity, and income. Studies in a number of different states and school districts show that charter schools also contribute to increased school segregation

A review of the today's release from the Civil Rights Data Collection, also confirms the point. It shows the damage left in the wake of RTTT.

According to this report, Nationwide, 2.8 million students were suspended from public schools during the 2013-2014 school year. But black students were nearly four times as likely to be suspended as white students, and nearly twice as likely to be expelled. The same pattern showed up in preschool: Black children represented 19% of all preschoolers but accounted for 47% of those who received suspensions.

I know what you're thinking: "preschoolers suspended?" Yes, especially black preschoolers.

The latest data show that even as the nation's high school graduation rate has risen, many Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: If school reform is the 'civil rights issue of our time', it's been a dismal flop.:

Was the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 a Civil Rights Law? – Federal Education Policy History

Was the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 a Civil Rights Law? – Federal Education Policy History:

Was the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 a Civil Rights Law?

LBJ Signing the ESEA
Newly arrived Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., is in hot water with Congress, state governors and various school reformers. The Department of Education is moving forward with rules that would turn the Every Student Succeeds Act’s “supplement not supplant” provision into a cudgel to force states to equalize school spending.
It’s easy to see why folks are ticked. Not least, there is the fact that the ESSA took years to negotiate and a ton of time was spent building a bipartisan coalition to support the legislation. President Barack Obama signed it in December, and a mere three months later, the department jammed a finger in Congress’ eye with its rulemaking, which splits supporters of the ESSA.
There also is the small matter of the law: the department’s proposed new take on “supplement not supplant” goes way beyond the plain language of the law and is contrary to its legislative history and spirit:
“A State educational agency or local educational agency shall use Federal funds received under this part only to supplement the funds that would, in the absence of such Federal funds, be made available from State and local sources for the education of students participating in programs assisted under this part, and not to supplant such funds.”
Plainly, the provision aims to ensure that states do not treat incoming federal dollars as an excuse to reduce their own spending on schools. This sort of requirement is common to federal grant programs. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who knows the ESSA better than anyone, called King out. “I will use every power of Congress to see that this law is implemented the way Congress wrote it.” (Alexander, it is worth recalling, has been working on education reform since the 1980s, when King was a kid, and Alexander himself has served as secretary of the Department of Education.)
King has made matters worse by trying to justify the department’s overreach as keeping with the legislation’s history – going back to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 – as a civil-rights measure.
“Six decades after Brown v. Board, we have failed to close opportunity and achievement gaps for our African-American and Latino students at every level of education. And in far too many schools, we continue to offer them less—less access to the best teachers and the most challenging courses; less access to the services and supports that affluent students often take for granted, and less access to what it takes to succeed academically.
“So we have urgent work to do as a country to truly provide equitable educational opportunities for all students. But we believe we stand better positioned to move forward, because of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As you know, ESSA reauthorized the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) signed by President Johnson in 1965. It was a civil rights law then, as it is now.”
Perhaps King was echoing President Obama, who also has contended the original ESEA was a civil-rights law. Regardless, this rhetoric is inherently nasty—if you disagree with the new regulations, the logic goes, then you’re against civil rights. Additionally, it’s a mischaracterization. The ESEA was an anti-poverty policy, a key part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, comprising Was the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 a Civil Rights Law? – Federal Education Policy History:

Will Teachers Be Replaced by A1 (Artificial Intelligence)? – Missouri Education Watchdog

Will Teachers Be Replaced by A1 (Artificial Intelligence)? – Missouri Education Watchdog:

Will Teachers Be Replaced by A1 (Artificial Intelligence)?

A1 and the guides on the side
A1 (aka Watson) and Jeopardy’s ‘Guides on the Side’

The question of the day: Will A1 ‘Watsons’ replace teachers?
With robots (otherwise known as A1: Artificial Intelligence) being able to teach special needs children, speak several languages, and now being able to understand context and relationships and derive meaning through reasoning with evidence, why are human teachers needed?  From Watson learns to understand Korean life and language:

Learning a language goes far beyond translation. Watson is trained to understand the cultural context of a word, sentence and nuances of unique idiomatic expression. With experienced gained from learning Japanese in partnership with Softbank last year, Watson is now learning languages at a faster rate. As Watson’s capability continues to grow, the system’s utility will also increase across industry domains.
For Watson, the process of learning a language is similar to learning about domains like medicine, engineering, law or marketing, for example. More than words, Watson needs to understand context and relationships and derive meaning through reasoning with evidence. Watson’s intelligence is very much determined by the quality of education or data received.  Like humans, the Watson system starts to learn by reading.
Watson will learn Korean by consuming roughly 10,000 sentences and deconstruct them in the form of diagrams that indicate syntax and semantic structure. This information will then be tested to fix errors and feed corrections back into the system so Watson can learn from its mistakes. And Watson never forgets, which is a skill that we humans do not posses.
Watson is also learning to master Japanese and is a data miner’s dream:
Luckily, Watson comes to this challenge armed with a tool that we humans do not possess, namely a solid state memory, which is a huge plus when it comes to the type of pattern recognition necessary when 
Will Teachers Be Replaced by A1 (Artificial Intelligence)? – Missouri Education Watchdog:

Schott’s National Opportunity To Learn Campaign | Education Reform For Equity And Opportunity

Schott Foundation for Public Education:

Schott’s Opportunity to Learn Network

We work to unite a growing coalition of advocates and organizers from across the country working to ensure that all students have access to a high quality public education.
The OTL Network includes local, state and national organizations, grassroots community leaders, policymakers, youth organizers, business leaders and philanthropic partnersLearn more about our OTL Network
The Boston Alliance of LGBTQ Youth (BAGLY)
BAGLY: The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, is a youth led, adult supported social support organization, committed to social justice, and creating, sustaining and advocating for programs, policies and services for the LGBTQ youth community.http://www.bagly.org Northeast
Philadelphia Student Union
The Philadelphia Student Union is a youth-led organization that builds the power of young people to demand a high quality education in the Philadelphia public school system.http://www.philadelphiastudentunion.org Northeast
Massachusetts Communities Action Network (MCAN)
Massachusetts Communities Action Network (MCAN) is a network of faith-based community organizations in MA working for economic and racial justice. Northeast
Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools
Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools is a youth organizing and leadership development organization that uses participatory education and action research to build organizing and leadership skills of New Orleans youth.http://www.therethinkers.org South
Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC)
Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) is a grassroots membership-based organization working to transform the systems that put children at risk of prison.http://www.fflic.org South
Executives' Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color
The Executives’ Alliance is a national philanthropic alliance that will evaluate promising approaches, advocate for effective public policy and systems change, and invest in young men as assets for America’s future. National
Education Voters of Pennsylvania
Education Voters Pennsylvania works to ensure our political leaders adopt and implement a pro-public education agenda. Ed Voters PA holds political leaders accountable if they fail to do so and supports elected officials who lead the way to high quality public education. Northeast
BreakOUT! seeks to end the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth to build a safer and more just New Orleans. South
Coalition for Educational Justice
Led by parents, the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice is organizing a movement to end the inequities in the city’s public school system. CEJ is a collaborative of community-based organizations and unions whose members include culturally diverse parents, community members, students and educators.http://www.nyccej.org Northeast
Arkansas United Community Coalition (AUCC)
Founded in 2010, AUCC works to build capacity in Arkansas’ immigrant and multiethnic communities through grassroots organizing, trainings, awareness- and coalition-building campaigns and guided practice in community building.http://arkansascoalition.org South
Schott Foundation for Public Education:

The civil rights problem in US schools: 10 new numbers | 89.3 KPCC

The civil rights problem in US schools: 10 new numbers | 89.3 KPCC:

The civil rights problem in US schools: 10 new numbers

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It's a rare and remarkable view into America's public schools and the challenges that continue some 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education: The Civil Rights Data Collection survey.
Since 1968, the federal government has been sending it to the nation's schools to gauge educational access and enforce civil rights law.
Today, the U.S. Education Department released its 2013-2014 CRDC results, covering more than 95,000 schools and 50 million students.
Needless to say, there's a lot to wade through, but these are some of the numbers that jumped out at us (links are to previous NPR coverage).
  • 49.7 percent of public school students are students of color: 24.7 percent Hispanic or Latino of any race, 15.5 percent black or African-American, 4.8 percent Asian, 3.1 percent two or more races.
  • 6.5 million students missed 15 days of school or more. That's 13 percent of all students and 18 percent of all high school students. This chronic absenteeismindicator is new to this year's report.
  • Black preschoolers are 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than white preschoolers.
  • 51 percent of high schools with high black and Latino enrollment also haveassigned police officers.
  • 1.6 million students attend a high school with a police officer but no guidance counselor.
  • Black students are 2.3 times more likely than white students to be referred to law enforcement or arrested as a result of a school incident.
  • Fewer than 3 percent of English language learners are in gifted programs, though they make up 11 percent of students at the schools that offer those programs. Similar disparities exist for black and Hispanic students.
  • For the first time, the Education Department asked about educational services for young people in justice facilities, including jails and prisons. 21 percent of these facilities offer less than a full school year of instruction.
  • Black and Latino students make up 38 percent of those enrolled at schools that offer AP courses — but less than a third of students taking AP courses. Similar disparities were found in advanced math and science courses like chemistry, physics, algebra II and calculus.
  • In schools with high black and Latino enrollment, 10 percent of teachers were in their first year, compared to 5 percent in largely white schools.

 The civil rights problem in US schools: 10 new numbers | 89.3 KPCC:

Millions of U.S. Students Chronically Absent | US News

Millions of U.S. Students Chronically Absent | US News:

Millions of U.S. Students Chronically Absent

18 percent of high school students are chronically absent.

 Nearly 1 in 5 high school students is "chronically absent" from classes, and the percentage of students who miss at least 15 days in the course of an academic year only rises among students of color.

The findings, Secretary of Education John King said, “tear at the moral fabric of the nation.”
“These data should serve as a sobering reality check,” he said on a press call Monday.
The data come from the latest release from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The biennial data set provides a snapshot of the education experiences of more than 50 million students in 95,000 schools across the U.S. during the 2013-2014 school year.
“The civil rights data collection shows a picture of opportunity offered and opportunity denied and to whom,” said Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary at the Office for Civil Rights. “It represents the real experiences of real students.”
For the first time, the data set includes in-depth information on chronic absenteeism, as defined by students who miss 15 or more of the school year's roughly 180 days.
In total, more than 6.5 million students – 13 percent of all students in the U.S. – are chronically absent. That figure includes 18 percent of all high school students, or 3 million students, and 11 percent of elementary school students, or 3.5 million students.
In high school, 20 percent or more black, Latino, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders are chronically absent, as are multiracial students and those still learning English.
The data also show that chronic student absenteeism exists where the majority of teachers are also frequently absent. For example, black students represent 15 percent of all students, but 21 percent of chronically absent students who attend schools where more than half of teachers were absent for more than 10 days.
“These data are a call for action and an urgent call for action,” King said “Particularly distressing are the numbers for students of color. When you think about the impact, more than one-fifth of African-American students in high school being chronically absent Millions of U.S. Students Chronically Absent | US News: