Latest News and Comment from Education

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Bernie Sanders Has Rung the Bell, and it Cannot be Un-Rung - Living in Dialogue

Bernie Sanders Has Rung the Bell, and it Cannot be Un-Rung - Living in Dialogue:

Bernie Sanders Has Rung the Bell, and it Cannot be Un-Rung

By Anthony Cody.
Many of us are in a state of deep frustration over the strong possibility that Bernie Sanders will not be the Democratic Party’s nominee in the presidential race this fall. Circumstances may yet occur to upset the presumptions that are now being made, so I think it is legitimate to wait until the convention in Philadelphia to see who the actual nominee will be. But the feelings of frustration have some important roots, and should not be discarded lightly, because they point the way forward.
As Chris Hedges has suggested, we are living in a shadow sort of pseudo-democracy, where our political choices are constrained by what we are told is possible, and what is impossible. Hope is discouraged. Participation is futile.
In spite of the fact that the US has the wealthiest, most productive economy in the world, we have been told that there is not enough money to pay for:
  • Health care for all
  • Higher education for all
  • Adequate funding for public schools
We are told that public schools are so broken that further investment in them is unwarranted, and money should be funneled into a parallel system of supposedly innovative, largely non-union charter schools, which intensify patterns of segregation and inequity.
We are told fracking can be made safe for the environment, even as we see groundwater polluted coast to coast.
We have been told that businesses cannot afford to pay workers a living wage, even as they swim in profits.
We have been told that public sector jobs are somehow inherently wasteful, while corporations like Walmart Bernie Sanders Has Rung the Bell, and it Cannot be Un-Rung - Living in Dialogue:

TBFURMAN: Amsterdam Sounds The Alarm On Gulen

TBFURMAN: Amsterdam Sounds The Alarm On Gulen:

Amsterdam Sounds The Alarm On Gulen

Big Education Ape: KILLING ED: 120 American Charter Schools and One Secretive Turkish Cleric -

Turkey's Canadian lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, issued a very public statement to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, about the Gulen Movement activity in the United States.

There are people who point out that the Turkish president is an autocrat, a theocrat, and a generally unpleasant person, and all of these observations are correct. And many of those people are reluctant to acknowledge the truth behind Mr. Amsterdam's statements because he represents just such an autocrat in this case.

As for me, I've been studying this issue now for a number of years, and I can only tell you that it's all true--- the statements Amsterdam makes in the video below are true. And the phenomenon is much bigger and more deeply established than what I've written about on these pages. And I'm to the left of Bernie Sanders on virtually everything.

At this point I think we would all be very lucky here if all we had was a secretive criminal organization entrenched in our public education system. When you look at these two men--- Erdogan and Gulen--- and you consider the mutual enemies they have--- I think what we have here is a blinking red-light emergency-in-the-making.

Here's Amsterdam.

The only thing I'd take issue with is the assertion that the charter school industry is rallying to their defense. From where I sit, it looks to me like the industry is basically neutral TBFURMAN: Amsterdam Sounds The Alarm On Gulen:

 June 19, 2016

Big Education Ape: Update: Gulen Harmony charter school network accused of bias and self-dealing Dallas Morning News -
Big Education Ape: Turkey Links Texas Charter Schools to Dissident - WSJ -

Big Education Ape: Magnolia Science Academy - A Gulen Charter School: Gulen Magnolia Science Academy links discussed at LAUSD board meeting -

CURMUDGUCATION: Back to the Children's Table

CURMUDGUCATION: Back to the Children's Table:
Back to the Children's Table

Do you remember?

It was going to be our year. Education-- the issue, the American institution, the highly contested battleground of policy, politics, and pedagogy-- was going to be on the front burner. Presidential politics would be the Big Event, and education was going to be seated at the Big Table.

Lots of folks thought so. Jeb! Bush had spent ages first fine-tuning his education organization as a Florida-based group, and then scaled it up so that he would have a national profile built around his aggressive and forward-thinking reform of public education. He mounted all sorts of clever PR pushes like Learn More Go Further to help push his education cred into the public eye. He even stepped down from running the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which in retrospect is kind of cute-- like a candidate for governor who resigns from his job as watchman at the junkyard because he doesn't want to look like he's getting an unethical advantage. Jeb! was ready to ride the Big Education Wave right to the White House.

Campbell Brown thought it was our year. Her website/advocacy group/hobby business The 74 Million was poised to ride the wave-- education was going to leading the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and Brown was going to be there waiting for it, staking out the eduterritory so that she could set the proper agenda. She was going to be a king-maker; everyone who wanted to be President would have to talk about education, and everyone who wanted to talk about education would have to talk to her.

And if we're being hones, we can't fault Brown or Bush for what now looks like childlike faith. At 
CURMUDGUCATION: Back to the Children's Table:

CURMUDGUCATION: TX: Yet Another Testing Screw-up -

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: No, Gov.Rauner. Schools are not 'crumbling prisons'. But they are in big trouble.

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: No, Gov.Rauner. Schools are not 'crumbling prisons'. But they are in big trouble.:

No, Gov.Rauner. Schools are not 'crumbling prisons'. But they are in big trouble.

When asked by reporters to name any ‘Crumbling’ CPS schools he’s visited, he couldn't come up with one.
Gov. Rauner is delusional if he thinks equating Chicago's public schools with "crumbling prisons" is a political winner for him. He has succeeded only in uniting forces, from classroom teachers to parents, unions, Rahm/Claypool and Dem machine pols, AGAINST HIM. The same forces that a year ago were at war against each other.

#Notaprison tweets have gone viral with hundreds of snapshots and positive stories of great teaching by great teachers and wonderful learning opportunities for city kids, despite old, dirty, worn out, and toxic facilities in which teacher/learning take place. Chicago teachers are responsible for the many gains that have been reported (some exaggerated for political purposes) in measurable learning outcomes.

Most recently, for example, we learned that it's the neighborhood schools (not charters), as run-down as many of them are, that have been driving increased graduation rates.

And all these great achievements by students and educators, are now being threatened as Rauner holds school budgets hostage for the past year.

When pushed by reporters to name even one school he visited that was like a "crumbling prison", Rauner couldn't come up with one. How could he? He's more familiar with elite selective-enrollment schools like Walter Payton H.S., the school he clouted his own daughter into, with the help of Arne Duncan. Payton certainly is no crumbling prison.

As we pull together in opposition to our sociopath governor, let's not lose sight of the fact that Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: No, Gov.Rauner. Schools are not 'crumbling prisons'. But they are in big trouble.:

Mindless Underfunding Of Schools Continues, Doing Irreparable Harm To Kids

Mindless Underfunding Of Schools Continues, Doing Irreparable Harm To Kids:

Mindless Underfunding Of Schools Continues, Doing Irreparable Harm To Kids

High school graduation season is in full bloom in many communities around the nation, but in some places, parents with kids still in schools have to be worried about the conditions of their schools they’ll return to in the fall – or even if the schools will open at all.
As states wrap up their budget seasons, many lawmakers are proving they simply aren’t up to the task of adequately funding schools. State spending, which accounts for about half of most public school districts’ budgets, has been in steep decline for a number of years in most states, leaving most local taxing authorities, which provide about the other half, unable to keep up unless the populace is wealthy enough to withstand higher property taxes. (Federal spending accounts for less than 10 percent of school funding, historically.)
Many of these lawmakers say the problem with the nation’s education system is lack of accountability, but  school kids and their teachers are being hurt by government officials not being accountable to adequately and equitably fund our schools.
In Chicago, the nation’s fourth largest school system, the district’s school chief announced schools may not open in the fall due to a budget impasse in the state capital. Separate funding bills in the state House and Senate have drawn the ire of conservative Republican Governor Bruce Rauner who would prefer to inflict on schools a program of tough love that includes a $74 million cut in funding to Chicago.
It’s not like the city’s schools are living in the lap of luxury. Inadequate Mindless Underfunding Of Schools Continues, Doing Irreparable Harm To Kids:

How should online teacher programs be judged? - The Hechinger Report

How should online teacher programs be judged? - The Hechinger Report:

How should online teacher programs be judged?

A fight over accountability pits Obama administration against online teaching schools

 teachers who learn the job online perform as well as teachers trained in the same kind of brick-and-mortar classroom they’re likely to teach in? A new set of proposals to regulate online teacher preparation programs from the federal government is an effort to find out which programs are working and which aren’t, but it’s facing widespread opposition from the world of distance learning.
Late in 2014, the Department of Education revealed its plans to ramp up accountability for education schools, which have come under fire in recent years for lax admissions standards and questionable rigor. The move sparked a deluge of 4,800 mostly critical letters, calling out federal overreach into state affairs and denouncing reforms that would “extend the ‘test and punish’ accountability model into higher education.”
Now the DOE is grappling with how to apply its controversial rules to online teacher preparation programs, which have become the top providers of education degrees in the country. (A month-long public comment period closed on May 2.) The country’s 2,100 education schools offer a staggering 28,000 teacher certification and degree programs. At a fundamental level, online schools fear that having separate evaluation methods from brick-and-mortar campuses would set them apart and diminish their status.
The DOE’s proposal requires every state to issue a rating to online programs that grant 25 or more teaching certificates in that state. This means, for example, that the University of Phoenix, a for-profit institution which operates online in 42 states, would potentially receive 42 separate ratings. Beyond the bureaucratic burden, online universities argue that comparing ratings will be useless since each state can assign different weight to the four evaluation metrics, creating an “apples to oranges” How should online teacher programs be judged? - The Hechinger Report:

Why do disparities by race and disability persist despite a sharp drop in school suspensions? - The Hechinger Report

Why do disparities by race and disability persist despite a sharp drop in school suspensions? - The Hechinger Report:

Why do disparities by race and disability persist despite a sharp drop in school suspensions?

Civil Rights Data and closing the achievement gap

spite a sharp decline in school suspensions, stubborn inequities remain in how discipline is administered in school.
That’s the bottom line on the U.S. Department of Education’s release this week of new data from the 2013-14 school year on how the nation’s schools measure up in protecting students’ right to an equal education. The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) now requires every school district in the country to report a wealth of data on educational opportunity every two years.
The good news? School suspensions are down a full 20 percent over the previous two years. More recent data from the nation’s largest school districts suggests that national rates of suspension have likely declined even further since 2013-14. Out-of-school suspensions dropped a whopping 53 percent inLos Angeles Public Schools between 2013 and 2015. In New York City, suspensions declined by 17 percent and school arrests by 27 percent between 2014 and 2015.
Educators are clearly heeding warnings from researchers that suspension does grave harm to student outcomes.
Studies show that a single suspension in the ninth grade correlates with a doubling of the drop out rate, and a tripling of the chance that a child will end up in the juvenile or criminal justice system.  Fewer suspensions mean more instructional time and fewer opportunities for unsupervised kids toWhy do disparities by race and disability persist despite a sharp drop in school suspensions? - The Hechinger Report:

Disenfranchised Berners Need to Push for Election Reform NOW! | gadflyonthewallblog

Disenfranchised Berners Need to Push for Election Reform NOW! | gadflyonthewallblog:

Disenfranchised Berners Need to Push for Election Reform NOW!

So we lost the Democratic primary.
Bernie Sanders is out and Hillary Clinton is in. She will almost definitely face Donald Trump in the general election for President.
If you’re like me, you’re still in shock.
She drew crowds of hundreds. He drew crowd of tens of thousands.
Exit polls consistently showed him winning, but when the votes were counted, he ended up losing.
There have been consistent reports of rampant tampering with voter registration resulting in hundreds of thousands of voters being removed from the rolls; party affiliations being changed without voter consent so they cannot cast a ballot; polling places being reduced significantly so voters have to wait for hours resulting in voters leaving before casting a ballot. And that’s not even counting the mainstream media’s portrayal of Clinton as inevitable by conflating superdelegate votes (which at this point are only non-binding polls of how these party insiders MIGHT vote in July) with actual votes that are already tallied and unchangable.
Really it shouldn’t be so shocking.
Our democracy has been a smoking shell of itself for a long time now.

Gates Foundation’s Mega Philanthropy Keeps on Colliding with Democracy | janresseger

Gates Foundation’s Mega Philanthropy Keeps on Colliding with Democracy | janresseger:

Gates Foundation’s Mega Philanthropy Keeps on Colliding with Democracy

In her annual letter summing up the year’s accomplishments of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation’s CEO, Sue Desmond-Hellmann, offers a sort of mea culpa to explain what has happened in the organization’s philanthropy in education. Gates has been at the forefront of strategic philanthropy, by which a foundation sets the priorities and tries to accomplish particular reforms its chosen “experts” have identified.
Here is what Desmond-Hellmann confesses, specifically regarding the Foundation’s push for the Common Core Standards: “Unfortunately, our foundation underestimated the level of resources and support required for our public education systems to be well-equipped to implement the standards.  We missed an early opportunity to sufficiently engage educators—particularly teachers—but also parents and communities so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning… This has been a challenging lesson for us to absorb, but we take it to heart.  The mission of improving education in America is both vast and complicated, and the Gates Foundation doesn’t have all the answers.”  Desmond-Hellman also explains that the Gates Foundation is committed to evidence-based experimentation: “From the beginning, Bill and Melinda wanted their foundation to be a learning organization; one that evolves and course corrects based on evidence.”
Desmond-Hellmann doesn’t seem to question the wisdom of the foundation’s strategy, merely that the Foundation missed engaging all the stakeholders.  And she seems to assume that a sort of apology will cover any worry about the collateral damage inflicted by mega-experiments, most particularly the experiments that were abandoned.

A Clarion Call for Action – Superintendent Scarice speaks out for students, parents, teachers and Connecticut - Wait What?

A Clarion Call for Action – Superintendent Scarice speaks out for students, parents, teachers and Connecticut - Wait What?:

A Clarion Call for Action – Superintendent Scarice speaks out for students, parents, teachers and Connecticut

Madison, Connecticut Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice has been named a public education champion by Diane Ravitch, the nation’s leading education advocate.  His willingness to stand up and speak out on behalf of students, parents, teachers and public schools has earned him accolades and praise from the Washington Post to the Wait, What Blog and from many others.
In his latest piece, which first appeared in the CT Mirror, Thomas Scarice lays down the gauntlet saying, An education revolution beckons. In Connecticut, who will lead?.
Superintendent Scarice writes;
Recently I had the opportunity to testify before the Education Committee of the Connecticut Legislature.  I commented that education policy in our state sadly resembles the phenomenon of the “Macarena.”
Play along for a moment.  Let your mind drift back 20 years or so to any random wedding.  When the “Rent a DJ” wanted to get the dance floor moving you could hear the drumbeat and the lyrics, “Dale a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena.” Suddenly, the house was jumping, hips were swaying, hands were clapping, and everyone from your 5-year-old nephew to your great aunt were doing the Macarena.
Now fast forward to present day.  The same stale “Rent a DJ” reaches back and tries to conjure up some dance magic.  You hear that familiar drumbeat.  But, instead of filling up the dance floor, all that is left are two embarrassing 
A Clarion Call for Action – Superintendent Scarice speaks out for students, parents, teachers and Connecticut - Wait What?:

Joint Venture: Activists Make Sure Marijuana Taxes Help Schools - Lily's Blackboard

Joint Venture: Activists Make Sure Marijuana Taxes Help Schools - Lily's Blackboard:

Joint Venture: Activists Make Sure Marijuana Taxes Help Schools

The first thing you notice about Barbara Clementi and Carole Partin is that gorgeous silver hair. (Pictures just don’t do it justice.) But listen to the retired Pueblo County, Colo. teachers talk, and it’s clear that their fervor for ensuring that all students have the opportunity for a great education is just as unforgettable as their sparkling manes. 
“Retirement” in the traditional sense of the word just isn’t for them. Yet they don’t want to do anything full time. So they approach post-retirement activism as a twosome, sharing the responsibilities and “subbing in” when one or the other needed a break.
Recently, they were named to Pueblo County’s marijuana licensing board, quite possibly making them the first teachers anywhere to serve on this kind of panel.
Now let’s get something straight at the outset: They always taught their middle-school students to steer clear of drugs and alcohol, and that is still their message. However, they are pragmatists. When Coloradans voted in 2012 to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and Pueblo County decided to allow growing, cultivating, and selling marijuana, the friends wanted to make sure public education would benefit from the revenue. That meant having a voice on the licensing board.
Colorado schools are desperate for resources. Since voters in 1992 passed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, the most restrictive tax and spending limitation in the nation, funding for schools has plummeted. Within a decade of adopting the law, Colorado dropped from 35th in the country to 49th in spending on K-12 education as a Joint Venture: Activists Make Sure Marijuana Taxes Help Schools - Lily's Blackboard:

Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

My Wife is a Teacher, A Very Good Teacher

By: The husband of BAT Cathy Drew Benjamin

My husband of 41 years (a non-educator) posted this to his Facebook, as our local association begins to feel the wrath of an unkind BOE during failed/failing contract negotiations (~gulp! 25%increase in health care contribution! - among other issues). I love my family. They "get" it.
One of my heroes was Andy Rooney. I decided to write this in his style:

My wife is a teacher.

She goes to work before me and works an 11 hour day.
She takes so much pride in her job and her students.
Their successes and failures belong to her.
She knows because they come back years later to tell her and say thank you.
If she didn’t spend her own money on supplies her students would go without.
The Board of Education doesn’t supply enough. Sometimes she doesn’t even have textbooks.
The State stole some of her retirement money so they wouldn’t have to raise taxes.
It was never paid back. Now the state wants her to pay back the money they stole!
Isn’t that a little crazy? I guess the state thought so because they passed a law that said they would pay it back.
Well, the state broke that law too and now they still want my wife to pay back what they stole.
She never made a lot of money considering all the education she has.
She likes her job. It was never about the money or even benefits.
It was always implied “We’ll give you a decentBadass Teachers Association:

CURMUDGUCATION: The GOP Education Vision

CURMUDGUCATION: The GOP Education Vision:

The GOP Education Vision

Earlier this week, House Republicans released a... well, a thing. A reporty kind of thing, straight from the House GOP "Task Force" on Poverty, Opportunity and Upward Mobility. There's a website that goes with it, and the language there is pretty blunt and direct:

Our nation is on the wrong path. We can complain about it, but that won't help things. To get America back on track, we have to raise our gaze. We have to be bold. That's what A Better Way is about. It is a full slate of ideas to address some of the biggest challenges of our times. Developed with input from around the country, it looks past this president to what we can achieve in 2017 and beyond...

We can complain about it??!! You're the freakin' US Congress-- there's a hell of a lot more you can do than complain. But I get it-- if you're in the party that somehow just nominated a blustering dumpster fire of a con man for the highest office in the land, I can see how you might be feeling a little helpless right now. Or inclined to just fast-forward to next year. It is perhaps a bit of projection that Paul Ryan and his crew have set a goal of a "confident" America, because the Republican Party of Donald Trump certainly isn't looking very confident right now. Blustery, noisy, overcompensatingly bullyish, all laid over a second level of party members who can't decide whether they want to stand for some sort of principle or whether they would support a wet paper bag filled with dog poop as long as it had "Republican" written on the outside-- all that, but not confident. 

But hey. "Biggest challenges of our times." That must include education, right? Well, no. The six areas on the website are the economy, health care, poverty, national security, tax reform, and the Constitution.

Now, the GOP has noticed that many US citizens are "stuck." Let's shift over to the more easily-navigable position paper:

The American Dream is the idea that, no matter who you are or where you come from, if you work hard and give it your all, you will succeed. But for too many people today, that’s simply not true. Thirty-four percent of Americans raised in the bottom fifth of the income scale are still stuck there 
CURMUDGUCATION: The GOP Education Vision:

Maligned and Misunderstood: Muslim Students Speak Out

Maligned and Misunderstood: Muslim Students Speak Out:

Maligned and Misunderstood: Muslim Students Speak Out

muslim students

Seventeen-year-old Entsar Mohamed is proud to be Muslim, but she admits it isn’t easy.
“Being a Muslim in America today is getting harder and I am worried that it will get worse,” says the senior at Mission High School in San Francisco, Calif. “Because of ISIS, Muslims are seen as bad and violent people.”
Anti-Islamic rhetoric has reached a fever pitch in America, spouting not only from presidential candidates and governors, but even from school board members, like one in Philadelphia who posted that she is “officially against Muslims” and “We don’t want them in America” on her Facebook page.
In New York, Chicago, and in Mohamed’s hometown of San Francisco, city bus ads paid for by millionaire Pamela Geller showed pictures of ISIS atrocities and proclaimed, “It’s not Islamophobia. It’s Islamorealism.”
For Muslims who ride city buses—including hundreds of school kids—the message was loud and clear: “Muslims are terrorists and must be feared.”
“It’s scary, unfair, and weird how we are in the year 2016 and people are allowed to be so openly biased and hateful,” says Mohamed Omar, 18, a senior at San Francisco’s Raul Wallenberg High School. “People look at us in a damning way, they have this image of us that’s hard to change, and it bothers me that Pamela Geller can have freedom of speech, but where is my freedom of religion?”

Islamophobia at School

Not surprisingly, Islamophobia from the larger society filters down into our schools. More than half of California’s Muslim students have experienced religion-based bullying, a rate double that of their non-Muslim peers nationally, according to a study of the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Fakhra Shah, a teacher at Mission High School, knows first-hand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of anti-Muslim slurs and stereotyping. A Muslim who grew up in the Bay Area, she’s experienced them her whole life. One of her goals as an educator is to prevent bullying by teaching tolerance, which she does by demonstrating it, accepting perspectives, and creating a warm environment where all students feel loved and accepted.
“Growing up, I remember having to constantly start conversations with people about how ‘not all Muslims are…’ That’s a pretty terrible way to get to know people or make friends,” she says. “I still remember having to defend myself to my seventh-grade Maligned and Misunderstood: Muslim Students Speak Out:

Former College Board Exec: New SAT Hastily Thrown Together; Students: March SAT Recycled in June | deutsch29

Former College Board Exec: New SAT Hastily Thrown Together; Students: March SAT Recycled in June | deutsch29:

Former College Board Exec: New SAT Hastily Thrown Together; Students: March SAT Recycled in June

Manuel Alfaro is the former executive director of assessment design and development at the College Board.
Beginning on May 15, 2016, Alfaro has published a series of posts on Linkedin in an apparent effort to reveal the haphazard construction of the new SAT, released and first administered in March 2016 and again, in June. (He is also posting info on Twitter: @SATinsider.)
Below are excerpts from Alfaro’s Linkedin posts, all of which provide an enlightening read concerning the sham Coleman has thrown together and labeled the “new SAT.”
On May 15, 2016, Alfaro writes:
My name is Manuel Alfaro, former executive director with the College Board. I was recruited in 2013 by David Coleman, President of the College Board, to reform the SAT. The College Board will tell you that I am a disgruntled employee. This statement would not be entirely wrong, but it would not be entirely correct either. I am a disillusioned idealist, shocked by the reality I encountered at the College Board.
I just started a petition on the White House Petitions site, We the People to ask the federal government to investigate the College Board for making false claims about the redesigned SAT: …
My first assignment with the College Board was to review a draft of the test specifications for the redesigned SAT. The document had been created by two of David Coleman’s cronies, two authors of the Common Core. This document is now known as the “research-based, empirical backbone” of the SAT Suite of Assessments. Back then, it was a subset of standards taken straight from the high school and middle school Common Core. My instructions were to rubberstamp the selection of standards and to rewrite the standard descriptions to make them unrecognizable, so that no one could tell they were Common Core.
David Coleman and the College Board have made transparency a key selling point of the redesigned SAT. Their commitment to transparency is proclaimed proudly in public documents and in public speeches and presentations. However, public documents, such as the Test Specifications for the Redesigned SAT (, contain crucial statements and claims that are fabrications. Similar false claims are also included in proposals the College Board wrote in bids for state assessments—I got the proposals from states that make them public.
To corroborate my statements and allegations, I needed the College Board to administer the tests. If I had gone public before the tests were administered, the College Board could have spun this whole matter as “research” orFormer College Board Exec: New SAT Hastily Thrown Together; Students: March SAT Recycled in June | deutsch29