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Monday, June 13, 2016

Florida Shooter’s Strongest Ally Was The American Gun Lobby | gadflyonthewallblog

Florida Shooter’s Strongest Ally Was The American Gun Lobby | gadflyonthewallblog:

Florida Shooter’s Strongest Ally Was The American Gun Lobby


“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”
-American-born al-Qaeda spokesmen Adam Yahiye Gadahn
Omar Mateen considered himself a terrorist.
He wanted to make that clear to posterity before ending a shooting rampage he initiated in Florida yesterday that left 50 dead and dozens more injured – the worst mass shooting in U.S. history (so far).
During the carnage at an Orlando gay nightclub, he allegedly called 911 to pledge his allegiance to ISIS. He just wanted us to know that.
Now that the shooter’s gone, just as he would have wished, pundits are making a lot of this phone call. Though his family claims he wasn’t particularly religious, media Florida Shooter’s Strongest Ally Was The American Gun Lobby | gadflyonthewallblog:

Education and the Commercial Mindset | Deborah Meier on Education

Education and the Commercial Mindset | Deborah Meier on Education:

Education and the Commercial Mindset
This is book that you should rush out and buy/read. The author, Samuel E. Abrams is currently the director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teachers College, Columbia. When I first saw the title and the source, I did not think it would be a book I would be enthusiastic about.
However, I discovered immediately that the author taught for a number of years at NYC’s Beacon High School, which I know and respect. So I decided maybe my biases were unfair. Indeed I was wrong to be wary. Chapter One should be a must for all those who want (or should want) to understand the period we are in and the issues confronting us. If you can’t imagine reading the whole book—start there. Then decide.
Actually every chapter that follows is important including one on charters with a focus on KIPP—which Abrams is more sympathetic to than I am. But like the rest of the book he presents the issues with lots of documentation and data, and he presents KIPP fairly. He covers considerable territory with some historical background on every topic he deals with for those who love it. His final chapters on schooling in other distant lands focuses on the Nordic nations with a lot, of course, on Finland.
I could quibble with this or that, I won’t until after you’ve had a chance to read it.
The books gave me insights that make me realize the task we face here in the United Statesis in some ways harder. Most of the other countries he describes—and in fact most of the nations in the world—are more homogeneous than the United States. In addition, as Abrams reminds us over and over, none of the nations that get compared with us have anywhere close to the inequality in wealth of the USA, nor the degree of poverty. This shocks me over and over again. It is easier to imagine that what you want for your child should be available to all children when you imagine that all children could be yours. The “others” are too foreign—in all senses—for too many Americans. It is easier to create a sense of grievance—an us versus them mindset in the USA. It is easier to believe that some kinds of families don’t deserve to get the best because they will only misuse it, squander it, or it wouldn’t even be good for them—they need something different (and cheaper).
The countries he describes, he argues, have a very strong sense of the communal Education and the Commercial Mindset | Deborah Meier on Education:

CURMUDGUCATION: Jeb Bush's Education Vision

CURMUDGUCATION: Jeb Bush's Education Vision:

Jeb Bush's Education Vision

After his attempt to be the New Coke of GOP Presidential politics, Jeb Bush has retreated to his signature issue-- privatizing education. He's back at the head of his advocacy group the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), and he's even back to cranking out magazine copy about his vision of a better tomorrow for US schools.

The National Review has given Bush a platform with "Saving America's Education System" (though the URL reads, weirdly, "jeb-bush-education-school-reform-future-disruption-technology"), and it presents one more re-vision of unapologetic reformsterism. So now that Bush has gotten the band back together, will he play some of his greatest hits for us? Let's see.

Don't Throw Money

One of our favorites kicks in in the very first sentence, where Bush notes that the school year has now ended and "another $620 billion has been spent." He follows that up immediately with the observation that we spend more money on education than almost any other industrialized nation. But we still have achievement gaps. Also, Bush will throw in the most bogus of bogus statistics, saying that "only 8 percent of high school grads are truly college and career ready."

That's wrong for several reasons. First, the Education Trust report from which he plucks that statistic actually says that "only 8 percent of high school graduates in 2013 completed a full college- and career-prep curriculum." That is a bizarrely demanding definition of college and career ready that would, for just one example, rule out a student who attended a CTE welding program. But then, Education Trust is a Gates-funded, reform-pushing advocacy group, so it's not surprising that they would push a statistic that is so easily debunked (are 92% of college freshmen in remedial courses and/or flunking out because they were unprepared for college?)

Of course, we don't really know, still, what college and career ready look like. We have no proven 
CURMUDGUCATION: Jeb Bush's Education Vision:

Sticking to Democracy Is Hard - Bridging Differences - Education Week

Sticking to Democracy Is Hard - Bridging Differences - Education Week:

Sticking to Democracy Is Hard

Editor's Note: Bridging Differences will be on a hiatus after this post. It will return in September.
Deborah Meier continues her conversation with Harry Boyte. To read their full exchange, please visit here.
Dear Harry and friends,
Yes, the culture that enables us to maintain democracy is hard to create and sustain. Without it, the society seems always to be "returning" to one or another top-down structure. I use the term "return" because I suspect that some form of "patriarchy"—rule of the "strong"—may be the easier path, the one we too often fall back on in desperate times. "If only" there were a leader who could, we too often complain....
What makes it harder is that few places really believe in the mission of educating people for democracy. It would be odd indeed if schools to prepare cooks never did any cooking, or a shoe-makers training didn't include the making of shoes. I find it equally odd that schools to prepare the young to assume the obligations of running their society—of being members of its ruling class, its citizens—have no opportunity to rule anything (except surreptitiously ruling those weaker than them), or to witness and experience what self-rule is like even for the adults in their world in precisely the institutions designed to prepare them to practice democracy. It's so odd, one is right to question intent. Not even well-educated adults in schools can honestly say to their charges: "The rules in this place are here because we the adults have decided they should be."
While required to argue in behalf of democracy's virtue in running the city, state, and nation, we hardly explain even to ourselves why it won't work in the far less complex setting of school x or y. In 1930 there were 150,000 school boards with significant authority. Today there are fewer than 15,000, while the population has doubled. That shift was man-made. In fact, the idea that those closest to the life of the school are provided with virtually no power and those furthest from the individual school are given substantial power is taken for granted today. What is taught, what is important and what not, how to assess it, how its members are disciplined, how long recess will be if at all, how to choose its employees and principals, as well as how to fire them, what and how families can or can't be involved, etc., are not even in the hands of most principals, who in turn are accountable not to his or her constituents but to superintendents, mayors, legislators, powerful foundations, et al.
Democracy may be the greatest invention. But is it too complicated to expect it to work in an individual school?
It's related to the difference between "organizing" and "mobilizing." Even organizing rests essentially on to what degree the people have "organized themselves." The term "self-governance" implies this, but does it represent what really happens? It's why I've never liked the term "change agent"—and even find "organizer" suspect.
When one's independence is fragile, if nonexistent, and one's family's safety dependent almost totally on others, democracy looks utopian. Solidarity is a response to such powerlessness. This too is risky. It takes a leap of faith that is not always easy to call upon. Example: A timid teacher asks me if I will present her grievance at the next principal-led meeting. I agree. But after I have presented her grievance the principal asks, "Who else is worrying about this?" Silence.
And this happened even though the formal rules of the game protected her from retribution. But it requires a "culture" of solidarity and democracy—in the union and the staff—that even schools, especially schools, discourage.
Designing and sustaining such a culture for a single school, within a system operating otherwise, is tough. This past month, having watched a small democratically designed NYC school being wiped out—even if sometimes for "good reasons" that do not, however, convince those on site—I'm reminded, Harry, of your other point. Over and over one has to start where people are, to get to know and care for each other, which is an advantage small schools like CPE have had. CPE, for example, was started without a principal position and with fewer than six to seven classrooms in mind. The city eventually demanded a licensed principal and a larger population. Still, it received flexibility from the union contract, e.g., with regard to staff decisions on many issues generally spelled out in a contract and from an unusual local district re: curriculum and much else. But its democratic internal life became ever thinner.
What such schools often counted on, alas, was a godfather with the singular power to give needed protection. A thin reed to rest on for a healthy democracy.
I'm watching the decline of schools like CPE after more than 40 years—endangered as well by gentrification, privatization, and standardization. But there are new efforts afoot to take back "subsidiarity"! (Look it up. It's a useful concept for our times.) We will, I see it emerging, rebuild a force within our public schools, and maybe some of the mom and pop charters, on behalf of a simple idea: Education for democracy works when it's for, by, and of the people.

Ed Dept Proposes New Regulations to Protect Students and Taxpayers from Predatory Institutions

Education Department Proposes New Regulations to Protect Students and Taxpayers from Predatory Institutions | U.S. Department of Education:

Education Department Proposes New Regulations to Protect Students and Taxpayers from Predatory Institutions

The Department of Education today proposed regulations to further protect student borrowers and taxpayers against predatory practices by postsecondary institutions. The regulations clarify, simplify, and strengthen existing regulations that grant students loan forgiveness if they were defrauded or deceived by an institution. The proposed regulations would also hold financially risky institutions accountable for their behavior and ban schools’ use of legal clauses to sidestep accountability.
This new regulatory effort builds on the Obama Administration's commitment to protect taxpayers' and students' investments and ensure that all Direct Loan borrowers can engage in a process that is efficient, transparent and fair when applying for a loan discharge based on the misconduct of the institution.
“We won’t sit idly by while dodgy schools leave students with piles of debt and taxpayers holding the bag,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “All students who are defrauded deserve an efficient, transparent, and fair path to the relief they are owed, and the schools should be held responsible for their actions.”
The proposed regulations would streamline relief for student borrowers who have been wronged and create a process for group-wide loan discharges when whole groups of students have been subject to the misconduct. They also establish triggers that would require institutions to put up funds if they engage in misconduct or exhibit signs of financial risk.
Additionally, the proposed regulations require financially risky schools and proprietary schools in which students have poor loan outcomes to provide clear, plain-language warnings to prospective and current students, and the public. The rules also make it simpler for eligible students to receive closed-school discharge.
Finally, in a major step to protect student borrowers and prevent schools from shirking responsibility for the injury they cause, the proposed regulations would prohibit the use of so-called mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses and class action waivers that deny students their day in court if they are wronged. Under these regulations, schools would no longer be able to use their enrollment agreements, or other pre-dispute arbitration agreements or clauses in other documents, in order to force students to go it alone by signing away their right to pursue relief as a group, or to impose gag rules that silence students from speaking out.
“These regulations would prevent institutions from using these clauses as a shield toskirtaccountabilityto their students, to the Department and to taxpayers,” saidU.S.Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell.“By allowing students to bringlawsuits againstaschool for alleged wrongdoing,the regulations removethe veil of secrecy, create increased transparency, and give borrowers full access to legal redress."
Last September, the Department began a negotiated rulemaking process to clarify how Direct Loan borrowers who believe they have been wronged by their institutions can seek relief and to strengthen provisions to hold colleges accountable for their actions. Current provisions in federal law and regulations allow borrowers to seek discharge of their Direct Loans if their college's acts give rise to a state law cause of action.
The third and final session of negotiated rulemaking was held in March, but the committee did not come to a consensus on a draft of the rule. The Department took the committee’s feedback into account when drafting this proposed regulation.
The proposed rule publishes in the Federal Register on June 16, and the public comment period ends Aug. 1. The Department will publish a final regulation by Nov. 1.
The proposed regulations build on years of work by the Obama Administration to protect students and taxpayers from fraudulent or failing institutions of higher education. Those efforts include the landmark Gainful Employment regulations ending Federal student aid eligibility for career colleges that are not paying off for their students, establishing tougher regulations targeting misleading claims by colleges and incentives that drove sales people to enroll students through dubious promises, requiring States to step up their oversight through the state authorization regulation, creating a new Enforcement Unit to protect students and taxpayers from unscrupulous colleges, and calling for improved accreditation practices that focus on student outcomes.Education Department Proposes New Regulations to Protect Students and Taxpayers from Predatory Institutions | U.S. Department of Education:
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Crowded field for Washington schools chief race | KOMO

Crowded field for Washington schools chief race | KOMO:

Crowded field for Washington schools chief race 

SEATTLE -- There's a crowded field of candidates vying to be Washington's next superintendent of public instruction, but the three top candidates all bring something new to the contest.
The list includes a lawmaker and community college administrator, an award-winning teacher and administrator, a school nurse who runs the school health program across the state, and six others who mostly want to have their voices heard.
Incumbent Randy Dorn has decided not to seek re-election, leading several candidates to enter the field.
Chris Reykdal, who has represented Tumwater in the state Legislature for five years, would be the first superintendent in recent history with children in public school if elected.
Erin Jones, who works for the Tacoma School District as a teaching coach and program administrator, is the first African-American woman to run for statewide office in Washington state.
Robin Fleming, who runs Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction's health services program, would be the first nurse to become superintendent of public instruction.
Only Reykdal, Jones and Fleming have raised more than a few hundred dollars for their campaigns, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission, although a fourth candidate who dropped out of the race also had raised thousands of dollars.
The field will be narrowed in the Aug. 2 state primary. The top two candidates will advance to the Nov. 8 general election.
The three leading candidates bring different approaches to the job held by Dorn for the past eight years. Dorn, a former lawmaker and union official, was hard to miss in Olympia and made sure his views were heard by lawmakers and the Washington Supreme Court, which decided in 2012 that the way the state pays for public schools was unconstitutional.
Fleming says she would leave the work of how to finish answering the Supreme Court's so-called McCleary decision up to lawmakers and would not follow Dorn's more bombastic Crowded field for Washington schools chief race | KOMO:

We Can Recover From The School Choice Movement | Dr. Edward F. Berger

We Can Recover From The School Choice Movement | Dr. Edward F. Berger:

We Can Recover From The School Choice Movement

We have over 20 years of data about charter schools (partial schools) and how they have benefited or damaged public education and children. Originally, the purpose of charter schools was to free educators with new insights and give them the support they needed to create education programs that would improve our public schools. Many effective educators believed they could demonstrate ways to break out of the old top-down coercive systems (the factory system) and make our public schools more effective. Now, after 20+ years of experimenting, we must identify the effective charter schools and make certain that what they have learned and demonstrated is integrated into our comprehensive schools.
“Choice” is a marketplace idea wrongly applied to education. The assumption that most parents have the information they need to make intelligent decisions about the education their children need, and the education children need to be effective citizens, has been proven wrong. School choice has failed to improve our schools. In fact, choice has created a chaos of confusion for parents who have risked (gambled) on moving their children out of comprehensive education programs to place them in partial education programs. The costs of these misguided experiments is evident in high dropout rates, incomplete educations, and damaged children. Criminal activities created by intentional lack of accountability and unfettered access to our public tax dollars is horrendous. In addition, the experiment has resulted in massive duplication of services that sap money needed for our children and increase the cost of education for no valid reasons.
Politicians, ideologues, so-called libertarians, and crooks attracted by profit motives, took over the charter school experiment. They decided, with no educational data to back their decisions, that charter schools, regardless of whether they worked for children or not, whether they served America’s need for an educated populous or not, would become stand-alone schools that could be run with little accountability, certification, or even democratically elected boards. Now, tax money is often used to create private Real Estate empires. Our tax dollars that we pay for children and their education are siphoned off to individuals, corporations, and companies that contract with charters to provide “services.” Is it any wonder that hedge fund operators and the self-appointed reformers see charter schools and outfits like K-12 as income generators? Is it any wonder that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies cannot keep up with the criminal activities of those milking the system? These thefts are criminal even if approved by legislatures. Are you surprised that the largest Charter School operator in America is a We Can Recover From The School Choice Movement | Dr. Edward F. Berger:

A void in oversight of charter schools (By Wendy Lecker) - Wait What?

A void in oversight of charter schools (By Wendy Lecker) - Wait What?:

A void in oversight of charter schools (By Wendy Lecker)

Surprise!  Connecticut taxpayers are giving privately owned and operated charter schools more than $110 million a year, with little to no oversight.  Meanwhile, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic controlled state legislature are implementing the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools.  The budget cuts, along with the inadequate funding allocated for public schools mean Connecticut’s public school students will be getting less, while local property taxpayers will be charged even more.
In another MUST READ piece, public education advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker reports on the void in oversight of Connecticut’s charter schools.
Wendy Lecker writes;
One would think that after the scandals involving Connecticut’s two large charter chains, Jumoke and Achievement First, Connecticut’s education officials would finally exert some meaningful oversight over Connecticut’s charter sector.
One would be wrong.
This week the Connecticut Mirror reported that Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell dismissed a complaint against Bridgeport Achievement First, for using uncertified teachers for 47 percent of its staff, in violation of Connecticut statute. Wentzell unilaterally decided that the law allowing complaints against public schools does not apply to charters; despite the fact that charters receive more than $100 million each year in public taxpayer dollars.
Wentzell disregarded the data showing Achievement First’s misdeeds, claiming the State Department of Education (SDE) will wait until the charter 
A void in oversight of charter schools (By Wendy Lecker) - Wait What?:

CURMUDGUCATION: An Educated Person

CURMUDGUCATION: An Educated Person:

An Educated Person

A while back, blogger Starr Sackstein took a whack a two part question-- has the definition of an educated person changed, and should our education delivery system change with it. My gut reaction, my visceral answer, is "Not really, and not really." But I didn't really have anything to back up my gut, so I've been mulling over this for a while. What were my viscera thinking when they passed along this answer.

Part of my reaction is to some embedded assumptions that Sackstein includes in the question. She contemplates the twelve years of education in various disciplines, and then pivots to larger questions:

Upon successful completion of high school, being "educated" meant a student went to a college of his/her choosing to major in a subject area that would yield a respectable job and potentially go on to higher education to ensure relevancy in his/her career path.  

Students in my generation and earlier generations did this dutifully, if being "educated" was a value they or their families' held.

I'm not sure I buy this narrative, particularly if we go back a few generations. High schools only really caught on during the period between 1910 and 1940 (ish). You can find a variety of numbers, but the basic pattern is evident-- in 1910 only about 20% of US teens were enrolled in high school, and only about half of those finished. The Depression kicked the crap out of high school education, with teachers widely unemployed and many school districts simply shutting down. By 1940, high school attendance was still far, far short of 100%.

And if we're talking about college education, while it's stylistically appropriate for Sackstein to use "his/her," in 1947 barely half a million women went to college. In 1970, roughly a third of all 
CURMUDGUCATION: An Educated Person:

Tough Spells Out What Kids Need: Does Any Reformer Care? - Living in Dialogue

Tough Spells Out What Kids Need: Does Any Reformer Care? - Living in Dialogue:

Tough Spells Out What Kids Need: Does Any Reformer Care?

By John Thompson.
A first post summarized the way that Paul Tough’s new article, previewing his new Helping Children Succeed,explains why we must celebrate the fact that “the much-criticized No Child Left Behind Act, which dominated federal education policy for the past decade and a half, was finally euthanized.” I had hoped that Tough’s previous masterpiece, How Children Succeed, would convince corporate reformers to pull the plug on test-driven, competition-driven mandates. This second post explains why I fear that the Billionaires Boys Club will spin his new work as a justification for their test, sort, reward, and punish approach to school improvement.
Tough’s conclusion is unambiguously great:
Here’s a hopeful thought: Perhaps with the demise of the law, the education debates that raged so furiously during the No Child Left Behind era—on charter schools and Common Core, teacher contracts and standardized testing—might now give way to more-productive discussions about what low-income children need to succeed. We know a lot more than we did when the law was passed about the powerful environmental forces that are acting on many low-income children, beginning in infancy. And we know a lot more than we used to about what interventions and strategies—both at home and in the classroom—most effectively help these young people thrive in school and beyond. A national conversation that starts from this growing scientific consensus and moves forward into policy might be our best chance to improve the lives of the 51 percent of American public-school students who most need our help.
But, then comes the following:
This article is adapted from Paul Tough’s new book, Helping Children Succeed: 
Tough Spells Out What Kids Need: Does Any Reformer Care? - Living in Dialogue:

The Washington Teacher: No WTU Elections For You: Teachers' Ballots ARE NOT IN THE MAIL!!!

The Washington Teacher: No WTU Elections For You: Teachers' Ballots ARE NOT IN THE MAIL!!!:

No WTU Elections For You: Teachers' Ballots ARE NOT IN THE MAIL!!!

By Candi Peterson, WTU General Vice President

Statements or expressions of opinions herein 'do not' represent the views or official positions of DCPS, AFT, Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) or its members. Views are my own.

Disclaimer: I am not a member of the WTU Contract Negotiations team.

Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) officer elections have been marred with confusion and delays under the helm of President Liz Davis and her Chief of Staff due to failure to submit a union membership list to TrueBallot according to a schedule established in May by the duly elected elections committee.

TrueBallot is the company selected several months ago as the lowest bidder to hold WTU's election in May 2016. Only one other time in the union’s history have officer elections been delayed. In 2006, American Federation of Teachers' (AFT), WTU’s parent organization assumed a "limited administratorship" to take over elections when the then-president Parker failed to hold elections according to schedule.

WTU Officers and the Board are elected to a term of three years. That term will soon expire on June 30, 2016.

Many teachers have been asking the obvious question; where is my ballot? Certainly, it’s not in the mail.

In their efforts to facilitate a timely election, the WTU Elections Committee, an independent elected body responsible for creating an election schedule and  overseeing union elections in May of the final year of current leadership term (2016), has been thwarted at every turn by President Liz Davis and Chief of Staff Dorothy Egbufor.

WTU Executive Board members voted unanimously on June 4th at their final meeting, for WTU Chief of Staff Egbufor to send the union membership list to TrueBallot by June 6th at 12 noon and offer an apology for defamatory statements and a threat from Egbufor to withhold payment to TrueBallot. While the membership list was finally mailed to TrueBallot by Egbufor on June 6th, she failed to provide the required apology as voted on by the Executive Board.

Further, the Executive Board, also voted unanimously for President Davis to offer TrueBallot an assurance on June 4th that their contract with WTU would be honored. While President Davis finally sent an email several days later on June 6th to TrueBallot's representative, however, he considered it more of an excuse than an The Washington Teacher: No WTU Elections For You: Teachers' Ballots ARE NOT IN THE MAIL!!!

New Scholarship on Discipline in Charter Schools - Education Law Prof Blog

Education Law Prof Blog:

New Scholarship on Discipline in Charter Schools

Susan DeJarnatt, Kerrin C. Wolf, and Mary Kate Kalinich have posted their new paper, Charting School Discipline, on ssrn.  It focuses on discipline in charter schools and their potentially distinct approaches.  As recent civil rights complaints in New Orleans and due process litigation in California have shown, charter school discipline is of growing importance to the overall conversation regarding necessary reforms to school discipline.  DeJarnatt and her colleagues offers this abstract:
Exclusionary school discipline can steer students away from educational opportunities and towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems. As many public school systems have turned to exclusionary school discipline practices over the past two decades, they have also increasingly adopted charter schools as alternatives to traditional public schools. This research is examines the student codes of conduct for the charter schools in the School District of Philadelphia to consider the role of their disciplinary practices and the potential effects on charter students.
We analyzed every disciplinary code provided to the Philadelphia School District by charter schools within Philadelphia during the 2014-2015 school year. Our goal was to examine the provisions relating to detention, suspension, and expulsion, along with other disciplinary responses, to determine what conduct can result in disciplinary consequences, what responses are available for various types of misbehavior, and whether the code language is clear or ambiguous or even accessible to students or potential students and their parents or caregivers. We conclude that too many of the codes are not well drafted, and too many follow models of punitive discipline that can be used to push out non-compliant or challenging students. Some codes grant almost complete discretion to school administrators to impose punitive discipline for any behavior the administrator deems problematic.
We hope that this work will spur future research on implementation of charter school discipline policies to illustrate how charter schools are using their codes. Further, we hope to see the charter sector develop model disciplinary codes that move away from a zero tolerance punitive model towards disciplinary systems based on restorative principles.

Hate Kills. Again. #OrlandoUnited - Lily's Blackboard

Hate Kills. Again. #OrlandoUnited - Lily's Blackboard:

Hate Kills. Again. #OrlandoUnited

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 11.25.25 AM

June 17, 2015. One year ago. Almost to the day.  A shooter sat in silence for an hour listening to a Bible class being taught at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. He stood up and began shooting without mercy, executing nine innocent people.
June 12, 2016. Yesterday. A shooter walked into a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando. He began shooting without mercy, killing 49 innocent people and wounding 53 others.
According to the news, in South Carolina the shooter was an American white man born in Columbia, S.C. Twenty-two years old. He was listed on the roles of a local Lutheran congregation. He had sympathies with white supremacist groups. The shooting followed a horrific year of unarmed young black men and boys being killed by police officers and contentious debates about the appropriateness of the Confederate battle flag as an official state symbol throughout the South. The shooter targeted African Americans.
epa05360127 People stamp their painted hands in a banner made by the Chicago’s artist, Greg Marchuk, supporting the victims of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, USA, 12 June 2016. At least 50 people were killed and many others injured in a mass shooting at an LGBT club in the early hours of 12 June, according to media reports. The shooter was killed in the police operation that followed. EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA

This time, according to the news in Orlando, the shooter was an American of Afghan descent. Twenty-nine years old. He was Muslim. He had sympathies with terrorist groups.
The shooting followed a year when the Supreme Court declared that gay marriage was protected by the Constitution, and at least seven states immediately turned their attention, as if simultaneously choreographed, to the transgender community and contentious debates on legislation to require them to use the restroom that corresponds to their birth certificates instead of the one that corresponded to their outward appearance and internal identity. The shooter targeted LGBT people.
Donald Trump issued an instant I Told You So tweet: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”
Right? Smart? From a man who defines narrow-minded ignorance? He implies that he is “right” in that the Orlando tragedy occurred because there are Muslims in our country. His “smart” plan is to ban all Hate Kills. Again. #OrlandoUnited - Lily's Blackboard:
How to Talk to Students About the Mass Shooting in Orlando

mass shooting in orlando
In the wake of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, it’s inevitable that school kids of all ages will hear snippets of the news and be confused and even afraid. At least 49 people are dead and 53 are wounded after a lone gunman, identified as Omar Sassiqui Mateen, targeted the LGBTQ community when he opened fire at a popular Orlando gay nightclub. The shooting is being investigated as a terror attack and analysis and reactions to the attack are dominating headlines.
“Although it’s still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate,” President Obama said in a statement. “And as Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.”
Mass shootings are no longer rare occurrences and it’s understandable that children will be worried that something might happen to them or to those they love. They will have questions and it’s important that trusted adults like parents and educators address their concerns rather than trying to shelter them.
It’s also important to emphasize that no group of people should be feared because of the act of one person. The responsibility of educators includes battling hate and teaching tolerance and understanding of all people, especially in the aftermath of a horrific attack like the one in Orlando.
“Good people are dead again because of easy hate and easy guns. You cannot build a wall to protect against that. You have to fight it from within and speak the truth, standing up to those to teach hate and those who learn hate,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Orlando, we are holding you in love. In a thousand ways, we will turn our powerful love into powerful actions and stand against the hate that was unleashed against you.  Hate cannot stand against the love we hold within our universal humanity.”
The National Association of School Psychologists offers the following tips for talking to your students about mass shootings and other national tragedies:
Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let

The Fiscal Abandonment of Chicago Public Schools: What it Says about our Nation

The Fiscal Abandonment of Chicago Public Schools: What it Says about our Nation:

The Fiscal Abandonment of Chicago Public Schools: What it Says about our Nation

Big Education Ape: Mindless Underfunding Of Schools Continues, Doing Irreparable Harm To Kids -

By Gina Caneva
Recently, principals across CPS notified their staff to brace themselves for a 40% budget cut, delivering a further devastating blow to our students and to educational equity. In Springfield, lawmakers remain at odds in deciding on a budget and have entered into a special session, leaving our students and schools in jeopardy. Governor Rauner has pushed the burden of funding back on the city of Chicago by proposing over $70 million less funding to CPS. Nationally, lawmakers in Washington D.C. have done little to ensure that pre-K through 12 education is equally funded. CPS has become an orphaned district that is a microcosm of what’s wrong with the funding of our nation’s public schools.
Decisions at the local level are as difficult to come by as those at the state legislature. In our most desperate of times, the city of Chicago has not diverted TIF money to CPS; rather, in recent years, Mayor Emanuel has pushed our city to invest TIF funds to promote tourism in odd ways. The basketball stadium in the South Loop which is supposed to support DePaul’s Basketball programs, comes to mind as DePaul is located on the north side of Chicago and is a privately funded university. These types of initiatives are taking precedence over the use of additional funding for our schools.
The majority of U.S. school funding comes at the state and local levels which can vary from state-to-state and district-to-district. Yet we are often taken aback when we see data that shows American students falling behind their peers academically when compared to students in foreign countries. According to the Pew Research Center, American 15-year-olds rank 35th out of 64 countries in math and 27th out of 64 countries in science. Might this be because we are fiscally abandoning students in our poorest communities locally, regionally, and nationally as we continue to hold them to international standards? Why aren’t we leveling the playing field by providing all American students with equal funding across the nation?
This year marks the 62nd anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education, which declared that “separate educational facilities” are “inherently unequal.” This was a case based on race, but it now resonates with socioeconomic class as students in poverty are receiving separate funding and often educational facilities of lower quality than their peers in the middle and upper classes. According to a recent report from NPR, school districts and/or parents are suing thirteen states across the The Fiscal Abandonment of Chicago Public Schools: What it Says about our Nation:
 Big Education Ape: CPS Budget lies and budget liars - Substance News -

Less test-iness over L.A. teacher evaluations - LA Times

Less test-iness over L.A. teacher evaluations - LA Times:

Less test-iness over L.A. teacher evaluations

Sebastian, who goes by one name, takes issue with the new teacher evaluation system in Los Angeles. Her rating has declined, unfairly in her view.
The San Pedro High teacher is hardly the only one with concerns.
Some see the observation-based system — negotiated by the district and unions  — as too friendly toward teachers. Others say it's too cumbersome or too reliant on principals with limited expertise.
Supporters see the district’s approach as breaking ground, even leading the nation. Critics say the kind of political compromise it was born of inevitably promotes mediocrity and fails to help students.
The latest revisions to the one-year-old system are expected to win formal approval at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting. The pact was achieved with far less acrimony than usually has accompanied efforts here and elsewhere to overhaul how teachers are assessed.
But, said Dan Goldhaber, a professor at the University of Washington with extensive experience in teacher-evaluation research, “The ultimate test is: Is this having positive, measurable effects on teachers and students?”
In L.A., it’s still too early to say, even more than six years into a sweeping endeavor to revamp how instruction is measured and improved. 
Notably missing in the latest system is any direct reliance on student standardized test scores to determine whether teachers keep their jobs. Test scores now are to be used instead for analyzing student needs, setting goals and reviewing progress toward achieving them.
Until recently, the Obama administration pushed hard for test-based evaluations, as did well-heeled foundations with an outsize influence on the nation’s education policy. But opponents called them inconsistent and unfair.
Across the country, aligning against them along with teachers were many parents, who  Less test-iness over L.A. teacher evaluations - LA Times: