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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Big Education Ape Is On Vacation

Big Education Ape Is On Vacation
Will Return to Regular Posting after the 4th 

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Happy the 4th of July - The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.

"But the educated citizen knows how much more there is to know. He knows that "knowledge is power," more so today than ever before. He knows that only an educated and informed people will be a free people, that the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all, and that if we can, as Jefferson put it, "enlighten the people generally ... tyranny and the oppressions of mind and body will vanish, like evil spirits at the dawn of day." And, therefore, the educated citizen has a special obligation to encourage the pursuit of learning, to promote exploration of the unknown, to preserve the freedom of inquiry, to support the advancement of research, and to assist at every level of government the improvement of education for all Americans, from grade school to graduate school." John F. Kennedy




A Parent's Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century: Navigating Education Reform to Get the Best Education for My Child: Russ Walsh: 9781942146339: Books -

Russ Walsh, an educator, public education advocate and fellow education blogger has written a new MUST READ book.
Every parent or prospective parent of a public school student, along with every elected official, should take the time to read Russ Walsh’s “A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century.”
Russ Walsh’s well-researched, substantive and accessible description of the state of public education and the very serious threat posed by the charter school industry and its corporate education reform allies, serves as a powerful guide for those who seek to advocate on behalf of their children and the children of their community.
The knowledge and tools Russ Walsh provides his readers serve as the antidote to the rhetoric and false narrative that is being spewed by the corporate education reformer movement and those who seek to privatize public education.
Available at local bookstores, , on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and as an Ebook, A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century provides parents with extremely important information about what is taking place in the nation’s public schools.
The nation’s federal, state and local officials would also find Walsh’s book a useful primer for what to do and not to do if they are truly dedicated to supporting a comprehensive public education system that  ensure that every child has access to an education that allows that to live broader and more fulfilling lives.
As Carol Burris, the Executive Director of Diane Ravtich’s Network for Public Education wrote in her review of the book;
“When a parent walks their kindergartener through a schoolhouse door for the first time, their heart goes with them. They want to feel secure that they are entrusting their child to a learning environment in which they will thrive. As they listen to sensational reports about ‘failing schools’, it is no wonder that many parents feel doubt. That is why Russ Walsh’s Parent’s Guide is a must read for any parent who is trying to make the best educational decision for their children. It is a clear, thoughtful response that will give parents wisdom, confidence and ease. Walsh is not only a professional, life-long educator, he is a beautiful writer whose style is thoughtful, clear and easy to read. A Parent’s Guide is the best guide for anyone who cares about public schools.”
– Carol Corbett Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education.
And Garn Press, the publisher of A PARENT’S GUIDE TO PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY adds;
What is a parent to make of the current narrative about public education in the United States? We hear that our public schools are mediocre at best and dysfunctional and unsafe at worst. We hear politicians and pundits arguing that the country will fall behind economic competitors like China and Japan, if our schools do not improve. We hear education reformers, well-funded by corporate lions like Bill Gates and the Walton family, suggesting a smorgasbord of solutions from school choice to more rigorous standards and from increased standardized tests to test-based teacher accountability.
What is education reform and how will it impact schools, children and parents? What are charter schools and should I send my child to one? What is the impact of standardized testing on my child? Should I opt my child out of standardized testing? How can I make sure my child gets a good teacher? What does good reading and writing instruction look like? How should technology be used in the schools and at home?
A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century is written to answer these questions and help today’s parents sort through the weeds of educational reform to make informed decisions designed to get the best possible education for their children. The book starts from the point of view that public education is a vital institution, central to our democracy and economic independence, and then suggests ways that parents can not only get the best of education for their own children, but also support policies that will make the institution of public education stronger for future generations.

Context, Local Control, Democracy, and Public Schools | The Patiently Impatient Teacher

Context, Local Control, Democracy, and Public Schools | The Patiently Impatient Teacher:
Context, Local Control, Democracy, and Public Schools

photo credit: Mika Twietmeyer @mikajhunter

Context matters. It is pretty simple idea. One of the most solid indictments of the education reform movement is the fact that they advocate blanket policies that impact all schools, all districts, and all states based on experience in just a few districts. From an analysis of a few urban centers, generally in the Northeast, assumptions have been made, policies have been written, and lines have been drawn in the sand. From reading the ed reform blogosphere, it would appear that New York State is an assumed to be an analog for the entire country—urban, suburban, and rural. The conversation about rural poverty is slim, often based on wrong assumption that rural poverty does not impact students of color or that issues in rural schooling are similar to those in urban settings. The constant discussion and debate about teacher’s unions ignores the large number of non-unionized teacher work forces in this country. Also ignored are the varying histories of segregation and desegregation in different regions or the existence (or lack thereof) of a traditional presence of private schooling.
More concerning that the ignorance that education reform advocates seem to have about important structural and contextual factors is the fact that many seem to simply not care. Whatever they perceive is the “crisis” in public education is the only thing that matters. Everyone else be damned, even if we can clearly demonstrate the negative consequences of those blanket education policies on disadvantaged students in other contexts. Perhaps they don’t believe the evidence. Perhaps they play moral equivalency games and decide that these students over here are somehow more worthy or somehow more vulnerable than students over there. Maybe it is simply a game of “out of sight, out of mind” and they just choose to ignore the problems that aren’t visible to them every day.
Given that, it is refreshing when someone in the ed reform camp can drop a little of the arrogance and spend some time contemplating larger implications of their policy positions. Andy Smarick does that just a bit in this article, while simultaneously demonstrating the many flaws within education reform logic.
Many education reformers once thought that parental choice was the “ultimate local control.” When opponents of choice programs defended the district monopoly system by rhetorically Context, Local Control, Democracy, and Public Schools | The Patiently Impatient Teacher:

NEA Delegates Arrive in Washington, DC, for 154th Annual Meeting - 2016 NEA Annual Meeting

NEA Delegates Arrive in Washington, DC, for 154th Annual Meeting - 2016 NEA Annual Meeting:

NEA Delegates Arrive in Washington, DC, for 154th Annual Meeting

It’s about that time again, when thousands of delegates will arrive in our nation’s capital for the 154th NEA Annual Meeting and 95th Representative Assembly. Embracing this year’s theme of “Unite. Inspire. Lead!: Harnessing the Power of Our Diversity,” more than 7,500 delegates will gather to vote on major issues surrounding public schools, students and teachers and to create an enhanced learning environment nationwide. The decisions made will impact the entire NEA body of nearly 3 million members.
2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes will address delegates to the Representative Assembly.
2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes will address delegates to the Representative Assembly.
The NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly (RA), also known as the world’s largest democratic deliberative body, takes place this year June 27 – July 4  at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Delegates will collectively vote on a strategic plan and budget, resolutions and ways to advance NEA’s legislative program, as well as NEA’s organizational policies. Sessions and workshops will also be available to educators for tackling issues that will help them provide a better learning experience for their students regardless of race, gender, class, immigration status, disability and sexuality.
The NEA  2016 Joint Conference on Concerns of Minorities and Womenbegins June 30, surrounding what is likely the most provocative presidential election in United State’s history from a political standpoint. There, prominent social justice activists Maria Elena Durazo (widely considered one of the nation’s most powerful and savvy organizers) and Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown (the youngest person to serve as the White House’s Indian Education advisor) will speak. Following the speeches, NEA will present the award for Social Justice Activist of the Year. The awardee will be an exceptional NEA member, who possesses the qualities of leadership and organization, as well as the ability to engage parents, educators and their community in advocating for social justice issues that impact students, fellow teachers and those who dwell in their surroundings.
NEA Student Program Chair Chelsey Jo Herrig at the 2015 Legacy Project.
NEA Student Program Chair Chelsey Jo Herrig at the 2015 Legacy Project.
The NEA Student Program will present its second annual LEGACY Project on Friday, July 1, when student member volunteers take part in a series of service projects, including the filling of backpacks with school supplies and encouraging notes, and assist in building 25 “Little Free Libraries” that will be donated to under-served communities.
On Saturday, July 2, and Sunday, July 3, NEA will host aRead Across America “Reading Lounge” at the ballpark during Nationals games. Young Nats fans will have the opportunity to take a selfie with The Cat in the Hat in the photo booth. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García will deliver the national anthem on July 3, before the Nationals take on the Cincinnati Reds. NEA members have the opportunity to purchase discounted ticketsto Nationals games from now until July 6.
Educators raise their hands at the 2015 Empowered Educators Day event.
Educators raise their hands at the 2015 Empowered Educators Day event.
Sunday, July 3, is Empowered Educators Day, where attendees will engage in breakout sessions focused on family-community engagement and policy leadership in regards to the Every Student Succeeds Act. Later that evening, 13 human and civil rights leaders within the organization will shine a light on their current activism at the Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner. The 50th anniversary of NEA’s merger with the American Teachers Association, which represented Black teachers in segregated schools, will also be celebrated. ATA originally created the Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner that has honored many civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and César Chavez. When NEA and ATA merged in 1966, NEA chose to carry on this important tradition.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García will open the RA with the keynote address on July 4, beginning four days of democratic debate and policy-setting for the Association.
It’s an election year in the nation’s capital, and Secretary Hillary Clinton, presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee, will address delegates on Tuesday, July 5. In October, NEA educators recommended Secretary Clinton in the Democratic Primary.
RA delegates will also be addressed by NEA Executive Director John Stocks, who will speak on the need to give educators an elevated voice in issues affecting teaching and learning; NEA’s Education Support Professional of the Year paraeducator Doreen McGuire-Grigg and the National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes.
NEA will also present its highest honor the Friend of Education Award to U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) for their work to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Visit for regular updates from the meeting. For a full agenda go to
NEA Delegates Arrive in Washington, DC, for 154th Annual Meeting - 2016 NEA Annual Meeting:

Schools Are Finally Applying Lessons From the Coleman Report and Integrating Based on Class - The Atlantic

Schools Are Finally Applying Lessons From the Coleman Report and Integrating Based on Class - The Atlantic:

Why Did It Take So Long for Class-Based School Integration to Take Hold?

Half a century ago, the Coleman Report revealed that socioeconomic diversity is key to removing racial inequalities in education.

Fifty years ago—on July 2, 1966—the federal government published “Equality of Educational Opportunity,”a landmark study by the Johns Hopkins University sociologist James Coleman that gave support for a novel idea about education: that schools should integrate based on the socioeconomic status of students.

A dozen years earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education had famously declared that schools segregated by race were inherently unequal and ushered in decades of efforts to desegregate schools by race. But the Coleman Report, which Education Week said is “widely regarded as the most important education study of the 20th century,” put a twist on Brown. It found that if one’s goal were to raise the academic achievement of pupils, then promoting a socioeconomic mix of students was even more important than changing the racial composition of the school.

The impetus for the study was to get at the root of educational inequality by race. Authorized by Congress as part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the study was designed to examine inequality of opportunity in education “by reasons of race, color, religion or national origin.” Many expected the report to find the source of inequality in achievement between racial groups to be unequal spending between black and white schools, or racial school segregation itself.
Instead, the report, which The New Yorker’s Nicholas Lemann called “probably the single best-known piece of quantitative social science in American history,” found that the biggest predictors of academic achievement were the socioeconomic status of the family a child comes from and the socioeconomic status of the classmates in the school she attends. Coleman wrote, “The educational resources provided by a child’s fellow students are more important for his achievement than are the resources provided by the school board.”

A report conceived of as part of an effort to address racial inequality found that class inequality—and class segregation—mattered most. Racial school integration did generally benefit black students, the report found, but the “beneficial effect of a student body with a high proportion of white students comes not from racial composition per se but from the better educational background and higher educational aspirations that are, on average, found among whites.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the U.S. Senator who assembled a Harvard University study group to examine the Coleman Report’s findings, suggested, “we should begin to see that the underlying reality is not race but social class.” Dozens of subsequent studies, using more sophisticated techniques than those available to Coleman, have affirmed his results.

For years after its publication, the Coleman Report’s key finding about socioeconomic integration was largely ignored by shapers of public policy, in part because it was seen as politically volatile. Liberals focused on equalizing school spending and racially desegregating schools, while conservatives advocated teacher accountability measures and private school vouchers. Once exception was Duluth, Minnesota, where, in 1972, policymakers floated the idea of integrating schools by socioeconomic status. In an interview, Coleman endorsed the proposal, saying “a child’s performance, especially a working-class child’s performance, is greatly benefited by going to a school with children who come from educationally stronger backgrounds.” But the Duluth plan met political resistance and never got off the ground.
Advocates of racial desegregation noted that while the Constitution requires the desegregation of schools that were once officially segregated by race, the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t say anything about desegregation by economic status. This was unfortunate from an educational standpoint, Coleman noted, because racial desegregation did not always result in economic desegregation. For example, in Boston, Coleman noted, the racial-desegregation plan “involved primarily lower-class communities,” exempting “most of the higher-achieving middle-class schools in the suburbs” and was therefore unlikely to yield “beneficial effects on achievement.” By contrast, in places like Charlotte, North Carolina, racial school integration involved both working-class black students Schools Are Finally Applying Lessons From the Coleman Report and Integrating Based on Class - The Atlantic:

Big Education Ape: Education Secretary John King Will Call for More Diverse Schools in Orlando Speech - The Atlantic -

These Children Are Our Children! - LA Progressive

These Children Are Our Children! - LA Progressive:

These Children Are Our Children!

Remember all too recently when thousands of unaccompanied children crossed the border into our country as they fled from torture and certain death in their homelands, particularly in Central America? Yet, instead of greeting these innocent children with open arms, we treated them like criminals, turning them away—caring nothing about what would await them if they were forced to return to their countries of birth.
Amazingly, those protesters (in places like Murrieta, California, and Oracle, Arizona) held sway, the FBI gave in, and, carrying those frightened, apprehensive, and panic-stricken children, the buses took away the real victims of this controversy. That whole scene reminded me of how the U. S. government turned the Jews away who had crossed the ocean to escape the Nazi terror, only to be returned to European concentration camps, torture, starvation, “scientific” experiments, and death. Aren’t we admonished to Never Forget?!
Have you thought (since then) what has come of them? I have continued to worry about them (the pictures are burned into my memory) and, thus, have gotten involved in programs whose aims are to do what our government at many levels has generally not done. One such advocacy group is CLUE—Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. It is through its staffers that I was introduced to people from the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the secular CARECEN (Central American Resource Center), the Catholic Esperanza (hope/promise) Immigrant Rights Project, and the North Hills United Methodist Church (with a congregation of about 65-70% Central Americans) and its Welcome Center for Unaccompanied Minors (whose leader is Pastor Fred Morris who has spent many years in Nicaragua and Brazil, the latter of which is where he, many years ago, was tortured for his championing of human rights).
I must add, before I continue, how proud I am of Congressmember Tony Cárdenas who has taken an active role in advocating for the rights of these and all undocumented people—those who deserve a right to come out of the shadows and be allowed to become or continue to be contributors to their communities without fear of penalties and punishments, let alone deportation and separation from family.
I am so grateful for all the time Pastor Morris granted me as he enlightened me about many of the situations of which I would not ordinarily have been aware. What follows reflects much of the information he so generously shared during our conversation.
You probably have heard stories of the thousands of young people who have left their families, friends, and homelands with the hope they will arrive in America where they can survive in peace. Yet, we have heard of the risky trips, escaping from those at home who would enlist them in gang patrols or kill them, the rugged terrain they must traverse if they manage to get away, the trains on which they grittily hold for dear life, the hunger and dehydration, the assault and rape that must be endured.
And if they manage to overcome all those obstacles, there are still the gangs in Mexico which might kidnap them when those innocents make it that far and hold them for ransom to be paid by These Children Are Our Children! - LA Progressive:

NEA Convention 2016: What to Expect - Teacher Beat - Education Week

NEA Convention 2016: What to Expect - Teacher Beat - Education Week:

NEA Convention 2016: What to Expect

Teacher Beat
Beginning July 3, we will be bringing you our annual coverage from the National Education Association's annual convention. What's on the table this year? Read on.

A Clinton speech. The apparent Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, is expected to address the NEA at some point. This could be a strictly by-the-numbers speech to a generally supportive audience that she will need to rely on as canvassers during the general election, or it could be the place where she decides to lay out more specifically her plans for K-12 education, which have been in short supply to date.
This doesn't mean that Clinton is going to be well received by all. The union's PAC Committee and board of directors' votes on Clinton were far from unanimous, and there were murmurs of disapproval from Sanders supporters that both the NEA and the AFT endorsed Clinton so early. I wouldn't necessarily expect any open protests, but it is possible we could see a New Business Item seeking to change the endorsement process.

A Push on LGBT issues. The union's major policy statements are expected to include items on supporting LGBT students in the wake of the attack in Orlando, and one from the union's board of directors on the "school to prison pipeline." As with last year's debate on structural racism, it remains unclear what resources the union will put forward to bring these statement out of the clouds and into reality.  
The Friend of Education award. This year, the NEA's Friend of Education Award will go to Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), presumably for their roles in getting the Every Student Succeeds Act to the finish line. Murray is a past recipient of the award from just a few years ago (2013), and she has long enjoyed a close relationship with the union.
But Alexander is a different story. In the 1980s, he waged a long battle with the union's Tennessee affiliate over a career-ladder system he wanted to implement. It left such a sore spot that Alexanderbrought up the disagreement in the mid-2000s, when the Teacher Incentive Fund, a federal performance pay program, was getting underway. It will be interesting to see if he shows up to collect this thing in person.
(Fun fact: Hillary Clinton won the Friend of Education award in 1999.) NEA Convention 2016: What to Expect - Teacher Beat - Education Week:
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CURMUDGUCATION: Writing Junk + Discovering Gloria Jean Merriex


Writing Junk

First, we need to understand that the state of writing instruction has never been great.

If you are of a Certain Age (say, mine) you may recall a type of writing instruction that we could call the Lego Building Approach. In this method, students are first taught to construct sentences. Then they are taught how to arrange a certain number of sentences into a paragraph. Finally, they are taught to assemble those paragraphs into full essays.

This is junk. It assumes that the basic building block of a piece of writing is a sentence. No-- the basic building block of a piece of writing is an idea. To try to say something without having any idea what you want to say is a fool's errand.

Not that the Lego Building Approach should feel bad for being junk. The instructional writing landscape is littered with junk, clogged with junk, sometimes obscured by the broad shadow of towering junk. And on almost-weekly basis, folks try to sort out what the junk is and how best to clear it away.

Here's John Warner at Inside Higher Ed trying to answer the question, "Why can't my new employees write?" Warner reports that he hears that question often from employers. With a little probing he determines that what they mean by "can't write," is "They primarily observe a fundamental lack of clarity and perceive a gap between the purpose of the writing and the result of what’s been written, a lack of awareness of audience and occasion."

In other words, they don't seem to get the idea that they are supposed to be communicating real ideas and information in a real way to real people. It's not a question of rigor or expectations, Warner notes. It's that they were trained to do something else entirely.

I believe that in many cases, these young professionals have never encountered a genuine and meaningful rhetorical situation in an academic or professional context. They are highly skilled at a 

 Discovering Gloria Jean Merriex

Gloria Jean Merriex grew up in Gainesville, Florida. Gainesville is a city of extremes; on the one hand, it's the home of the University of Florida and has many of the features of a big college town; on the other hand, the southern and eastern neighborhoods of Gainesboro are home to crushing poverty. Charles Duval Elementary School is located in the center of an eastern neighborhood filled with crime and poverty.

Merriex saw teaching as a path out of the poverty of her neighborhood, but she did not choose to leave the neighborhood itself. Once she had her degree, she chose to teach at Duval Elementary, where for about twenty-five years she was a middle-of-the-road, competent-but-not-exceptional teacher.

I became acquainted with Merriex through the work of filmmaker Boaz Dvir; my nephew, who studied film at Penn State, had Dvir as a teacher and thought we might have a few things to say to each other. But years ago, Dvir was a professor in Florida who heard about Merriex and decided to tell her story. The result is a documentary in progress entitled "Discovering Gloria." I've watched a rough cut of the film, and it is a challenging and moving story.
 Discovering Gloria Jean Merriex

Russ on Reading: Grammar as Meaningful Work

Russ on Reading: Grammar as Meaningful Work:

Grammar as Meaningful Work

Probably no issue in the teaching of English can fire more debate than grammar instruction. Google, "Should grammar be taught?" and you can find literally thousands of arguments on either side. By the way, notice that I just used "Google" as a verb, which would drive my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. McGarry, up a wall; but I digress. The issue, of course, is not whether grammar should be taught, but how. On this issue the answer is clear: one-hundred years of research has consistently demonstrated that skill and drill, learn the rules, underline the subject and predicate, diagram the sentence, do practice lesson 12 in your Warriner's, type instruction does not improve writing.

Grammar instruction must begin with what students already know about grammar (quite a lot it turns out) and build from there based on the student's own writing. Like most learning, context is everything, and the best context for learning grammar is the student's own writing. Instead of thinking of grammar as a set of rules to be followed, we need to think of grammar as a set of tools to be used by the writer in the process of meaning making.

One of the great things about teaching writing is that evidence of what students know and don't know is constantly available on the page right in front of us. When we see second grade students beginning every sentence with "and", we know we can teach a lesson on sentence variety and have students practice in their own writing. This is so much more effective than decontextualized lessons about the "rule" of not starting a sentence with a conjunction, which by the way is not a rule. There is no rule in English that says we should not start a sentence with a conjunction. It is just that stylistically it is not a good idea to over use that structure.

If our third grade students are using a lot of short choppy sentences in their writing, we know to teach a lesson on sentence combining and coordination. If students are using dialogue in their writing, it is a good idea to teach 
Russ on Reading: Grammar as Meaningful Work:

Seattle Schools Community Forum: Seattle School Board's Lollapalooza of a Meeting Yesterday

Seattle Schools Community Forum: Seattle School Board's Lollapalooza of a Meeting Yesterday:

Seattle School Board's Lollapalooza of a Meeting Yesterday

As I previously reported, the Board was having an Audit&Finance Committee Meeting of the Whole and then had an Executive Committee Meeting of the Whole and then a Work Session on the 2016-2017 Budget to figure out to do with this $11M underspend that was found. 

All the Board members were present except for Sue Peters (on the phone the entire meeting) and Stephan Blanford whose absence was not explained.  Also to note, during committee meetings of the whole (COW - how's that for an acronym?), only members of the committee vote on items but all Board members can partake in the discussion.

The meeting also was a first look at the new CFO, JoLynn Berge.  The rest of the room was filled out by staff.  I was the only member of the public present. 

While the meeting was marked at times with laughter and the tone was respectful, it was also a sober meeting.

There were only two items to discuss, both of them Technology items.  Representing DOTS (Department of Technology Services) was Nancy Petersen and David Oestreicher, Director of Technology Infrastructure.  Former head Carmen Rahm left the district in early June.  Like many senior staff before him, he left some real problems.  The two items on the agenda were notable for that reason.

One was a BAR for the next Board meeting on July 6th for purchase of technology for BEX IV schools, capacity classrooms, K-3 class size reductions and  Special Education classrooms.  (This includes 85 capacity classrooms that have been created out of other spaces.) 

It didn't start well as Deputy Superintendent Steve Nielsen had to confess that the BAR had left out an Apple contract that would move the cost on the BAR from $1.5M to $2M. 

That's a pretty big issue right that there anyone could read a BAR on a contract 
Seattle Schools Community Forum: Seattle School Board's Lollapalooza of a Meeting Yesterday:

Michigan's shortchanging its kids. Why?

Michigan's shortchanging its kids. Why?:

Michigan's shortchanging its kids. Why?

Eight months ago, the State of Michigan set out to learn what it would cost per year to provide each school-age child in this state an adequate education.
Now we know the answer: $8,667. At minimum.
In the next school year, Michigan's per-pupil allowance will range from $7,511 to $8,229 — although some districts will spend significantly more — numbers that fall short of the study's findings. That's troubling enough.
But the implications of this state-commissioned report provide the answer to another question, one its researchers weren't charged with answering: This state is in serious, serious trouble.
In commissioning the report, the state asked consulting firm Augenblick, Palaich and Associates to determine how much districts in which students scored above state averages for proficiency in tested subjects spend per pupil.
But here’s the thing — Michigan student performance, across the board, is not good. In just one subject tested are more than 50% of students, on average, ranked proficient.
That's what the state paid a consulting firm $399,000 to find out: How much it would cost to ensure that Michigan kids do better than current state averages, even when those state averages are dismal. The report's authors answered that question, but also developed a different methodology, looking at districts that perform significantly better than state averages. There are only 58.
spokesman for Gov. Rick Snyder told Free Press reporter Lori Higgins that this report is important, and that a commission Snyder recently created to improve Michigan education would review the report.
This is the equivalent of ringing a small hand bell to alert an apartment block that there is a raging fire in progress.
The adequate education study is the third report in the last two months that should have Michigan lawmakers panicking — both Education Trust Midwest, an education policy advocacy group, and the annual Annie E. Casey KidsCount report found that Michigan ranks in the bottom third for education in this country; EdTrust's results indicate that Michigan will rank 48th in the country by 2030 unless we make drastic changes.
Education in Michigan is not working. This is indisputably clear.
Districts with fewer at-risk or non-English-speaking students had better outcomes than districts with high poverty rates and kids who can't speak the language in which much instruction is given. This news should shock no one. Nor should the report's finding that the state should spend up to 40% more to provide adequate education for at-risk or non-English-speaking students than the report's recommended baseline.
Further, the state's school funding system, modified in 1994 to provide equitable funding across districts, isn't cutting it: Some districts spend nearly $10,000 more per student, often with demonstrably better outcomes. While the report's authors found that a few districts spent less money to achieve better results, the research also showed that state school funding is becoming less equitable — districts with higher taxable property value tend to spend more on education, for example, a gulf that has the potential to widen. The taxable value of property in Michigan school districts ranges from $2.5 million to roughly $35,000 per student. It's a huge disparity.
Nor does the state's funding system account for varying student needs. Districts with high populations of students who are at-risk or who speak little to no English often have fewer dollars available to provide services that should be more comprehensive, if improved performance is the desired outcome.
This report isn't an outlier — a 2014 analysis found that nationally, 38 out of 39 studies recommended more dollars for public education, Higgins reported.
These findings should surprise no one, despite the dogged right-wing insistence that spending isn't linked to better educational outcomes. It's a convenient excuse that allows legislators who don't really care that much about kids who don't live in their districts, who perhaps don't look like them, to throw up their hands, insisting that spending more won't help, so why bother?
It's a wearying cynicism that exists solely to excuse inaction. And It's a dim-sighted view of success: The idea that Michigan can thrive, if only some of our children are offered opportunity.