Latest News and Comment from Education

Monday, June 20, 2016

My Visit to Sandy Hook, Connecticut | deutsch29

My Visit to Sandy Hook, Connecticut | deutsch29:

My Visit to Sandy Hook, Connecticut

 On Monday, June 13, 2016, I was driving from Massachusetts to New Jersey along I-84, which took me through Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Only days prior, on Saturday, June 11, 2016, I realized I was near Sandy Hook when I decided upon an alternate route from New Jersey to Massachusetts. I was initially on I-95, but the stop-and-go traffic along the Connecticut coast soon wore me out and had me looking for an alternative route. I traveled directly north along Connecticut’s Highway 25 and realized I would pick up I-84 near Sandy Hook.
I remember that terrible December day in 2012. Just as our Louisiana high school was taking in for the day, news of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy had teachers leaving their televisions on during the day in shock, sadness and sympathy. School is supposed to be a safe, happy learning community. Such a terrible day.
I did not stop in Sandy Hook on my way to Massachusetts, but on my way back to New Jersey, I thought, “When is the next time I will be driving through Sandy Hook, Connecticut?” Maybe never.
I had already passed the exit. I turned around at the next one.
Sandy Hook is a beautiful small town, and the weather that day complemented the geography of rolling roads, leafy foliage, inviting sidewalks, and homey businesses. It turned out that I had stopped on the last day of school for the 2015-16 year, and school was dismissing students right as I was driving through town, shortly after My Visit to Sandy Hook, Connecticut | deutsch29:

Summer Break – the Least Understood and Most Maligned Aspect of a Teacher’s Life | gadflyonthewallblog

Summer Break – the Least Understood and Most Maligned Aspect of a Teacher’s Life | gadflyonthewallblog:

Summer Break – the Least Understood and Most Maligned Aspect of a Teacher’s Life

Screen shot 2016-06-20 at 4.18.07 PM

It’s inevitable.
Once the weather gets warm and school lets out, it’s no longer safe for teachers to be out in public.
You’ve got to stay indoors, get off the Internet, hide the cell phone – do whatever you can to stay away from non-educators.
Because if, like me, you happen to be out and about – let’s say standing in line at your favorite neighborhood burger joint waiting for a juicy slab of ground beef to stop sizzling on the grill – you’re bound to hear the kind of willful ignorance that sets a teacher’s nerves permanently on edge.
Imagine just two normal people – they seem nice enough – standing in line having a friendly conversation. It’s hot outside, so you might hear the usual topics discussed: the weather, the best place to buy ice cream, which public pool has the best prices – that an oh I don’t know, how easy teachers have it with their summers off.
Son of a…!
Normal folks, I know you often get the urge to talk about this. You think it’s just another topic of polite conversation. It’s nothing serious. You think it’s just like Summer Break – the Least Understood and Most Maligned Aspect of a Teacher’s Life | gadflyonthewallblog:

$15,000 LA Times VAM Mystery Solved - Living in Dialogue

$15,000 LA Times VAM Mystery Solved - Living in Dialogue:

$15,000 LA Times VAM Mystery Solved

By Anthony Cody.
In my recent research into the 2010 LA Times series on “teacher effectiveness,” I learned that $15,000 was used to help pay for someone to generate the VAM analysis used to create thousands of teacher ratings that the newspaper published. These funds came from a 2010 grant from the Hechinger Institute. Since I have been especially interested in the role the Gates Foundation has played in promoting VAM and other misguided “reforms,” I wondered if this 2009 grant from the Gates Foundation to Teachers College was possibly the source of this funding.
Today I got an answer, from Richard Lee Colvin, who was then the Director of The Hechinger Institute, and now works for the US Department of Education under John King. He told me by phone that the source of the $15,000 was a pool of funds that included Gates money, but also included grants from the Broad Foundation, Ford, Carnegie, and others. There was not, according to him, any direct line from the Gates Foundation to this grant of $15,000, and the decision to provide this funding was made independently, by staff at Hechinger, interested in promoting good journalism.
So there you have it. The VAM analysis used by the LA Times to rate the effectiveness of thousands of teachers was partly paid for by a conglomeration of corporate foundations that included the Gates Foundation, among others. The Hechinger Institute was interested in what the test score data would show, and provided the funding, but did not endorse the publication of teacher names their funding made possible.
So we are left with the task of figuring out if this represents anything harmful, in an ethical sense, to the integrity of journalism and the public interest.
We have assurances from everyone involved that there was no direct influence. Nobody at the Gates Foundation told The Hechinger Report “When we give you a grant to support education journalism, here is a list of stories we want to see.”
The grant money to any one project is not directly linked to any one funding source. There is an intermediary $15,000 LA Times VAM Mystery Solved - Living in Dialogue:

Sherrod Brown Demands Additional Federal Oversight of Ohio’s Charter Schools Following Reports Exposing Their Failures

Brown Demands Additional Federal Oversight of Ohio’s Charter Schools Following Reports Exposing Their Failures | Press Releases | United States Senator Sherrod Brown:

Brown Demands Additional Federal Oversight of Ohio’s Charter Schools Following Reports Exposing Their Failures

$30 Million in Taxpayer Dollars Was Spent on Now-Defunct or Non-Existent Ohio Charter Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a report that uncovered attendance rates of less than 50 percent at some dropout recovery and prevention charter schools – along with areport that exposed Ohio’s misuse of charter school grant funds – Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today urged additional oversight of Ohio’s charter school sector. In a letter to U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary John King, Brown requested that ED also investigate how the academic performance and closing rate of Charter School Program (CSP) grant recipients in Ohio compares to CSP grant recipients nationwide, and, upon disbursement of a $71 million federal grant to the state, that ED appoint a special monitor to review each expenditure Ohio makes of the grant to ensure that funds are being spent for their intended purpose.
“The lack of oversight of Ohio’s charter schools disadvantages students and wastes taxpayers’ money,” Brown said. “I’m grateful the U.S. Department of Education is taking steps to address this scandal but the failures of Ohio’s charter school sector require an additional level of scrutiny. By increasing accountability and transparency, we can ensure that the funding awarded to Ohio will be spent on educating students, not fraud and abuse.”
In October 2015, amidst reports that certain charter schools in Ohio are misspending taxpayer dollars and falsifying data, Brown led members of the Ohio delegation in a lettercalling on ED to strengthen accountability and transparency for Ohio’s charter schools. The members of Congress asked ED Secretary Arne Duncan to clarify how ED ensured that falsified data was not used to evaluate an Ohio grant application and to take steps to ensure that the funding awarded to Ohio will be used appropriately. In response, ED asked Ohio for further information regarding their grant application and the state’s charter school sector and announced that they would not approve any expenditures by ODE of the $71 million in CSP funds awarded in September 2015 until they were satisfied that Ohio had adequate controls in place in order to administer these funds appropriately.
In July 2015, Brown introduced the Charter School Accountability Act  parts of which were included in the Senate-passed Every Child Achieves Act, legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Reauthorization Act. The bill would strengthen charter school accountability and transparency, prevent fraud, and increase community involvement.

June 20, 2016

The Honorable John King
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202

Dear Secretary King: 
I write regarding the Department of Education’s (ED) continued engagement with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) about the $71 million September 2015 Charter School Program (CSP) grant awarded to the state.  While I was encouraged to see that ED has not disbursed this money, has placed special conditions on the grant, and has engaged in multiple fact finding efforts with ODE, I remain concerned regarding the performance and oversight of the state’s charter school sector.  It is incumbent upon ED to take additional steps to increase oversight, accountability, and transparency before this grant money is disseminated.
Last month, the Charter School Accountability Project published a report titled “Belly Up: A Review of Federal Charter School Program Grants” which analyzed the use of CSP grant dollars in Ohio’s charter schools. This report found that during the CSP’s 20 year history Ohio has received $99.6 million in CSP funding, a number surpassed by only Florida and California.  Of the 292 Ohio charter schools that received this funding, over one-third have closed or never opened, meaning that almost $30 million in taxpayer dollars was spent on now-defunct or non-existent schools.  Nearly $4 million in CSP funds was given to 26 Ohio charters that never opened.  
The dismal state of the Ohio charter school sector has been further demonstrated by Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost’s May 2016 report regarding poor attendance at many of the state’s charter schools.  Yost’s report highlighted problems with ODE’s oversight of attendance reporting and found particular problems with the attendance reports at drop-out recovery prevention charter schools, some of which had attendance rates of less than fifty percent during the surprise inspections.  He further found that while the Ohio General Assembly has taken action to reform charter schools, ODE still has significant weaknesses in evaluating the effectiveness and reliability of the charter schools sector.  He went on to state that ODE was "among the worst, if not the worst-run state agency in state government."
In your November 2015 response letter to the members of the Ohio Congressional delegation, you outlined a number of steps ED has taken and will continue to take to verify the accuracy and completeness of ODE’s grant application.  I appreciate these steps, but more must be done to provide order to the state’s chaotic charter school sector.  In light of this report, I ask that you examine the performance of Ohio charter schools who have received CSP grants to determine whether grant recipients are failing or closing at a higher rate than those in other states and how the academic performance of CSP grant recipients in Ohio compares to CSP grant recipients nationwide.  I further ask that when Ohio has satisfied all necessary conditions for this grant money to be released that you appoint a special monitor to review every expenditure made pursuant to this grant in order to ensure that all funds are being spent for their intended purpose. 
Ohio’s current lack of oversight wastes taxpayer’s money and undermines the ostensible goal of charters: providing more high-quality educational opportunities for children.  There exists a pattern of waste, fraud, and abuse that is far too common and requires extra scrutiny.  Federal investment in high-quality education is important and funds from the most recent CSP grant could greatly benefit students in Ohio if spent appropriately.  This, however, would require that only high-quality operators with a history of student success have access to these important resources.  Such an approach would include greater scrutiny of taxpayer spending and detailed analysis of academic performance.
I ask that you keep me and my staff apprised with your evaluation of ODE’s application for CSP funding and the subsequent disbursement of funds.

Big Education Ape: Ohio Congressman questions Arne Duncan’s $32 million charter grant - The Washington Post - 

Big Education Ape: Ohio’s charter chaos - Toledo Blade - 

Big Education Ape: Shame on the Ohio House for pushing off action on critical charter school reform bill:

Big Education Ape: Will John Kasich Stand Up to the Republican Donors Taking Billions from Ohio’s Charter Program? ...

Big Education Ape: Could Charter School Scandal Weaken The Kasich Campaign? | John A. Tures

CURMUDGUCATION: Mexico: How Bad Can the Ed Debates Get?

CURMUDGUCATION: Mexico: How Bad Can the Ed Debates Get?:

Mexico: How Bad Can the Ed Debates Get?

Negotiation? Strike? I'm not sure we have any English words for a teacher protest that really rise to this occasion

I try to be careful with word choice. I've been reluctant to call the reformster-driven ed debates in this country a "war" or even an "assault" because when we inflate the nature of some conflict, we dilute the meaning of words, words that we may need when something that does more closely resemble an actual war, with fighting and shooting and killing. Which takes us to Mexico.

Reformsterism is, of course, not strictly a USA phenomenon. Lots of nations are experiencing the loving embrace of neo-liberalism and the attempts to create a test-centric school system that puts teachers in their place. But in Mexico, leaders have stopped acting like reformsters and started acting like gangsters.

Before I dig in, I do want to be clear on one point-- I have been trying to make sense of ed reform in the US for roughly 1800 posts over three years. I am now going to address Mexico in just one post. Corners will be cut in discussing what is clearly a complex situation. If this moves you to a high level of concern, I suggest you do what I'm doing-- start reading and then go find some more stuff and read that, too.

Mexico has everything other reformster-infected countries have-- but they have everything on steroids.

Educational crisis? Yup. Writing about Mexico repeatedly points at their PISA scores, and while I'm not deeply respectful of the PISA's diagnostic value, Mexico is almost dead last among members of the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation nations. Mexico also has one of the highest dropout rates in OECD nations. And while their ed spending as a budget percentage is high among Latin American nations, it has the highest student-teacher ratio of OECD countries and spends less per pupil than any other country. I don't consider any of those data points critical measures of education excellence, but it's pretty hard to look at Mexico's whole picture and think, "Well, yeah, it could still be a great education system."

The country was pretty sure that Something had to be done. But the Something they picked was a pretty direct run at the teachers' union of Mexico, and that may not have been a great tactical 
CURMUDGUCATION: Mexico: How Bad Can the Ed Debates Get?:

Live Blogging Ed Reform Marriage Counseling Session

A few weeks ago, Robert Pondiscio wrote what seemed to me to be a fairly well-measured piece about the uneasy and possibly-unraveling collaboration between reformy conservatives and reformy liberals. I even wrote a vaguely thoughtful response. But lots of folks absolutely lost their heads, and the post and various responses to it bounced all over the reformy side of the blogoverse.

That seems to have led to a counseling session, brought to the web by an unprecedented team-up between the right-tilted Fordham Institute and the left-tilted Education Post. Mike Petrilli will be ringmaster in just a few minutes, hosting Derrell Bradford (50CAN), Valentina Korkes (Ed Post), Valley Varro (50CAN), and Lindsay Hill (Raikes Foundation). Because it's summer, and I love a challenge, I am going to attempt my first live-blogging of the event.

I'm really hoping for the moment when everyone says, "You know what? We're all just neo-liberals here. There's no reason we can't get along!" But that's probably not what's going to happen. Let's just see what happens when this kicks off at 4:30 EDT (assuming that I can get all my technology balanced on my desk.)


Well, the live link for the webcast doesn't seem to be happening yet.


Still not actually seeing anything, though twitter is abuzz. I always have to remind myself that only in Teacher World do things start exactly to the minute. If this were my class, I would be freaking out about now.


Well, we have 

Live Blogging Ed Reform Marriage Counseling Session

ON TEACHING THE JOURNALISTS | DCGEducator: Doing The Right Thing

ON TEACHING THE JOURNALISTS | DCGEducator: Doing The Right Thing:


This article really pissed me off. Why does this objective reporter use only one “school”of sources? Why infer that only reformers know how to teach teaching?  

ON TEACHING THE TEACHERS: The Economist June 11, 2016
Whoever said this? Great teaching has long been seen as an innate skill.”
“But reformers are showing that the best teachers are made, not born.”
 How condescending can this be? This article implies that teachers don’t know that?
Mr. Cavanagh is the product of a new way of training teachers. Rather than spending their time musing on the meaning of education, he and his peers have been drilled in the craft of the classroom.”
This is not new. He is actually the result of good training that has gone on for a long time. Hey guess what… reformers haven’t reinvented the wheel.
“Like doctors on the wards of teaching hospitals, its students often train at excellent institutions, learning from experienced high-caliber peers.” 
This has been true for decades! It is how I learned from a cooperative master teacher when I student taught for a semester and how I received mentoring from my Principals, Assistant Principals, and department chairs for 38 years, not just the first.
This too has always been true: “teaching for what it is: not an innate gift, nor a refuge for those who, as the old saw has it, “can’t do, but ‘an incredibly ON TEACHING THE JOURNALISTS | DCGEducator: Doing The Right Thing:

Marie Corfield: IMMEDIATE Action Needed to Reduce Gun Violence!

Marie Corfield: IMMEDIATE Action Needed to Reduce Gun Violence!:

IMMEDIATE Action Needed to Reduce Gun Violence!

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them without doing anything." 

~ Albert Einstein. 

Since the massacre in Orlando just 8 days ago there have been 9 more mass shootings in the US, most of which have not been reported by the mainstream media. Since the beginning of this year, 6,239 people have been killed, and almost 13,000 have been injured—over 1500 of them were children and teenagers. And it's only June. But thanks to the Gun Violence Archive, this information is now readily available and regularly updated.

Next to public education, ending gun violence is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, partly because far too often, gun violence happens in schools.

The only way we as a nation can stop the bloodshed is to demand our legislators take action. On this issue we all should be shouting from the rooftops and marching in the streets.

This morning I received this email from Carol Stiller of the Mercer Co. (NJ) chapter of the Million Moms March/Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence. I urge every person reading this to take action today by making calls and forwarding this to your contacts. Please do not delay. This vote is happening TODAY at 5:30 pm.

If you cannot make calls, there is a quick and easy way to contact these Senators through your cell phone. I highlighted it in yellow. 

There are also two rallies in NJ today: one with Senators Booker and Menendez at 11:30 in Newark; the other with Reps. Pallone and Watson-Coleman at 2:00 in Trenton. Details are below. I plan to be at the Trenton rally.

Please take action today. Please help stop the bloodshed. Please help reduce gun violence. Please make your voice heard.


As most of you already know, the U.S. Senate will be holding a vote today, MONDAY, JUNE 20, at 5:30 P.M. on closing the Terror Gap that allows suspected terrorists to buy guns, and on Universal Background Checks. WE ALL need to make calls to the offices of those Senators who we feel could make the difference in a win or loss.

Here are 20 targets for calls. Some are Republicans, some are Democrats. We cannot take these votes for granted, one way or the other. We REALLY NEED ALL of these to get to 60 votes and win! It will only take a couple minutes for each call. These kinds of opportunities don’t come often — WE MUST ACT NOW. Their phone numbers are listed below… 

if you have a cell phone, the EASIEST and QUICKEST way to contact every one is to text DISARM HATE to 877-877 and you will be automatically connected to one of the targets. WHEN you call again, you will be connected to a different one, and so on. PLEASE MAKE THESE CALLS. We must hold them accountable!

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) - 202-224-2854

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) - 202-224-2235

Sen. RIchard Burr (R-NC) - 202-224-3154

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) - 202-224-2043

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) - 202-224-3324

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)  - 202-224-6244

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) - 202-224-3353

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) - 202-224-4814

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) - 202-224-2523

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) - 202-224-2644

Sen. Robert  Casey (D-PA) - 202-224-6324

Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) - 202-224-4254

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) - 202-224-2023

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) - 202-224-3954

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) - 202-224-4521

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) - 202-224-3643

Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) - 202-224-5623

Sen. Tim Sott (R-SC) - 202-224-6121

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) - 202-224-4944

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) 202-224-5323

Ask them to vote YES on Senator Feinstein's amendment to prevent those on the Terror Watch List from buying firearms and NO on the weak substitute amendment being introduced by NRA-supported Senator Cornyn of Texas. 

Ask them to vote YES on Senator Murphy’s universal background check amendment and NO on the weak substitute amendment being introduced by NRA-supported Senator Grassley of Iowa. 

Tell the staffer that answers:
“Hi, my name is _____________.  Please tell Senator ______ to vote YES on Senator Feinstein’s Terror Gap Amendment and Senator Murphy’s Background Check Amendment, and NO on the Cornyn/Grassley substitute amendments. Thank you.”

Please leave a message for the Senator if you can’t reach a staffer.

We are so fortunate that both Senators Booker and Menendez will be voting the right way. If you haven’t already, please call to thank them:
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) - 202-224-3224
Sen. Robert Menende (D-NJ) - 202-224-4744

Remember that you can watch LIVE Senate floor proceedings on MONDAY5:30 p.m. (other archived proceedings are also available): 

If you know anyone in the DC area who would like to join a group who will sit in the Senate Gallery during the proceedings, have them contact their senator’s office for tickets.

THEN after you make your calls or while calling on the way, come out to attend a rally and/or press conference — one in NEWARK with Senators Booker and Menendez at 11:30 a.m. and one in TRENTON with Representatives Pallone and Watson Colman at 2:00 p.m.  See the attached media releases for details. We need to keep up the momentum on these important common sense gun violence solutions!

I know this seems like a lot, but so worth the effort.  And if you need some incentive, listen to my Oakland CA MMM friend Lorrain Taylor’s “It’s Time to Take a Stand”. Devastatingly, Lorrain lost her twin 22-year-old sons to gun violence while they were working on a car. 
“…But now its time for us to stand together as one voice…Its time to let the world know that gun violence is not our choice.” 

THANK YOU EVERYONE. Together we CAN make a difference.


    REMEMBERING JIM and SARAH BRADY!No Background Check - No Gun - No Excuses 
UNIVERSAL Background Checks!
Marie Corfield: IMMEDIATE Action Needed to Reduce Gun Violence!:

Stench of corruption grows around Malloy - Wait What?

Stench of corruption grows around Malloy - Wait What?:

Stench of corruption grows around Malloy

When running for re-election in 2014, Governor Dannel Malloy took a $6+ million public finance grant to pay for his campaign.  In exchange for the taxpayer funds, Malloy swore, under oath, that he would not solicit, accept or use other funds to pay for his campaign expenses.
But Malloy lied and solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists, state contractors and those who have benefited from his corporate welfare programs.  That money, which in the end totaled more than $5 million, was funneled through a special account within the Democratic Party.
Last week a plea bargain deal with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission ended with Malloy’s political operatives paying a fine of $325,000 to the state, rather than the $6 million Malloy should have paid.
Not only were Connecticut citizens saddled with four more years of Dannel Malloy, but Connecticut taxpayers are out more than $5.7 million.
Meanwhile, it a separate situation, David Sirota, the nationally renowned investigative reporter has been covering Malloy’s actions as they relate to the attempt by CIGNA and Anthem to merge.  Both entities, but especially CIGNA have close political ties to Malloy and the Democratic incumbent has benefited from significant campaign donations from CIGNA and its executive team.
David Sirota is the senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times.  Sirota’s investigation has led to the following stories in the International Business Times:
Each one deserves a complete read-through, but Wait, What? readers should pay special Stench of corruption grows around Malloy - Wait What?:

Yes, Long Experience Makes Better Teachers | janresseger

Yes, Long Experience Makes Better Teachers | janresseger:

Yes, Long Experience Makes Better Teachers

As I sat for a morning recently in a meeting where a number of elementary and secondary school teachers described how our state legislature’s policies are affecting their schools, I found myself thinking not so much about the policies but instead about the teachers and their work.  It struck me in a new way that teachers are among the hardest working people I know.  They must work with large groups of young people all day every day, manage their classrooms to create order and a respectful climate, be fully present in their classrooms—paying attention to each student  and finding ways to be understanding and supportive, prepare each day, and organize the curriculum to engage the students in learning and thinking critically. Then they must read and grade papers and exams. And they have to keep it all going in good spirit.
Our nation has been flooded by a great wave of blaming and trashing teachers. After all, as a human endeavor, teaching is old-fashioned.  Teachers are human beings working in a personal way; the tech experts suggest machines would be a cheap replacement.  And anyway, teachers have not succeeded in raising test scores across the board.
But perhaps there are signs that the wave of teacher-bashing is at least ebbing. Teach for America promised that college graduates without formal college training in teaching (except for a five week summer program) would be able to step right into classrooms and raise test scores. But TFA is struggling.  Emma Brown of the Washington Post pointed out early this month that, “Teach for America has spent most of its 25 years working to expand, growing from a concept outlined in a Princeton student’s honors thesis to an education-reform juggernaut that places thousands of idealistic college graduates in some of the nation’s neediest classrooms.  But that growth has stalled.  Applications for TFA’s two-year teaching stints have plummeted 35 percent during the past three years, forcing the organization to reexamine and reinvent how it sells itself to prospective corps members.”  Brown explains that Teach for America, “faces singular challenges, having been buffeted by critics who say that the organization does not address educational inequity but instead amplifies it, institutionalizing teacher turnover and saddling disadvantaged kids with novice instructors who won’t stay around long enough to really make a difference.” The quick, alternative certification programs like TFA are not as popular as they once were.
And the Every Student Succeeds Act has unbuckled—as a federal mandate—the demand that Yes, Long Experience Makes Better Teachers | janresseger:

Schooling in the Ownership Society: Privatization has become the standard conservative response

Schooling in the Ownership Society: Privatization has become the standard conservative response:

Privatization has become the standard conservative response

Privatization guru Milton Friedman

Donald Cohen at TPM gives us a good history of privatization and the current attack on public space and public decision making.

Today, after 50 years of attack on government, privatization is a standard conservative response to tight public budgets, a key pillar of attacks on government, and a lucrative market opportunity for domestic and global corporations. Large corporations operate virtually every type of public service including prisons, welfare systems, infrastructure, water and sewer, trash, and schools. For example:

In 1988 AFT president Al Shanker proposed a new idea: To create charter schools where teachers could experiment and innovate and bring new ideas to the nation’s public schools. Today, nearly 3 million children attend charters, and large corporate chains and billionaires are funding the rapid growth of privatized, publicly funded charters.
“Cities have been discovering that public services do not necessarily have to be reduced by government or paid for by taxes,” the Privatization Council’s David Seader told the Milwaukee Journal in 1986. Individuals can pay for what they use Schooling in the Ownership Society: Privatization has become the standard conservative response:

Court Overturns Zero Tolerance Punishment Based on Stand Your Ground Law, But New Book Details Even Bigger Problems Education Law Prof Blog

Education Law Prof Blog:

Court Overturns Zero Tolerance Punishment Based on Stand Your Ground Law, But New Book Details Even Bigger Problems

In a battle of absurd public policies, a Georgia stand your ground law has trumped a school discipline policy of zero tolerance toward fighting.  Last week, a Georgia court found that school administrators violated the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law when they expelled a student for fighting.  Matt Smith writes that
S.G. . . . threw the first punch in the January 2014 scuffle — but only after her antagonist had pursued her across the school’s parking lot and backed her up against a brick pillar, according to court records. Her lawyers argued that the resulting expulsion violated state law, which lets someone use force to respond to a threat without having to retreat first.
Georgia’s Court of Appeals has agreed, ruling that the student had the right to defend herself. State law “did not require S.G. to be hit first before defending herself; nor was S.G. required to have lost the fight in order to claim self-defense,” the judges concluded. And they found school officials in Henry County, in the Atlanta-area suburbs, have a policy of expelling students “regardless of whether the student was acting in self-defense.”
The irony here is that courts so often upheld suspensions and expulsions for equally, if not more, compelling circumstances.  In other words, only a student availing him or herself of a stand your ground law has a reasonable chance of challenging zero tolerance and overly harsh discipline policies.  A student who just accidentally does the wrong thing, misbehaves in the exact way we expect of young students, or even tries to do the "right" thing can be thrown out of school with no recourse. Take Benjamin Ratner, for instance.  As I detail in my forthcoming bookEnding Zero Tolerance
in the outer suburbs of our nation’s capital, an average thirteen-year-old boy named Benjamin Ratner received a note from one of his friends. In the note, Benjamin’s friend told him that she had felt suicidal over the Education Law Prof Blog:

Draining The Semantic Swamp of “Personalized Learning”–A View from Silicon Valley (Part 1) | Larry Cuban

Draining The Semantic Swamp of “Personalized Learning”–A View from Silicon Valley (Part 1) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Draining The Semantic Swamp of “Personalized Learning”–A View from Silicon Valley (Part 1)

No surprise that a catch-phrase like “personalized learning,” using technology to upend traditional whole group  lessons, has birthed a gaggle of different meanings. Is it  updated “competency-based learning?” Or “differentiated learning” in new clothes or “individualized learning” redecorated?  (see here,here and here). Such proliferation of school reforms into slogans is as familiar as photos of sunsets. “Blended learning,” “project-based teaching,” and “21st Century skills” are a few recent bumper stickers–how about “flipped classrooms?”– that have generated many meanings as they get converted by policymakers, marketeers, researchers, wannabe reformers, and, yes, teachers into daily lessons.
For decades, I have seen such phrases become semantic swamps where educational progressives and conservatives argue for their version of the “true” meaning of the words. As a researcher trained in history, since the early 1980s, I have tracked policies as they get put into practice in schools and classrooms.  After all, the first step in science is to observe systematically the phenomenon or as Yogi Berra put it: “You can observe a lot by watching.” The second step is to describe and tell others what was seen and explain it.
Over the past few months, I have visited eight schools and 17 teachers in “Silicon Valley,” that near-mythical stretch of the Bay area in Northern California encompassing San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland and their environs. I went into schools and classrooms that administrators, policymakers, researchers, and others identified for me as “best cases,” or exemplars of integrating use of technology into daily lessons. Many, but not all, told me that they had integrated technology into their lessons to “personalize learning.”
The questions I asked myself while observing a class was simply: What are teachers and students doing when computer use is integrated into a lesson? Toward what ends is such use aimed?
Teachers and principals invited me to observe.  There were no tours or group visits. I went to each school and talked with principals, various teachers, and read online documents describing the school. I sat in 90-minute lessons, listened to students in and out of class–even shadowing a student at one school for a Draining The Semantic Swamp of “Personalized Learning”–A View from Silicon Valley (Part 1) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice: