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Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Gree(n)ding of American Education | BustED Pencils

The Greening of American Education | BustED Pencils:

The Greending of American Education

By Todd Lilly

As I have been traveling this summer talking to K12 and college faculty about the total transformation of American schools that is taking place right under our noses, people get this confused look on their faces: “What are you talking about?” That’s understandable; hard-working educators don’t have time to be watching their backs to make sure they are not about to be stabbed (metaphorically speaking). This, my first blog and the other blogs here on Busted Pencils are our way of looking out for you… but only if you read them…
650 billion dollars… That’s about how much America spends each year to educate our children. That’s not nearly as much as we spend on health care (about 250 TRILLIONdollars), and less than we spend on our military operations (about 750 billion), but still, it is a prodigious sum. If you had that kind of money at birth and spent a million dollars each and every day of your life until your timely demise, you would still have hundreds of BILLIONS to leave to your surviving spouse, your surviving children, your surviving grandchildren, and your favorite animal shelter. Wow!
I know what you’re thinking: That’s a lot of money to spend on kids. How can I get a chunk of that change? Well, maybe you can. There are many who are making big bucks at the education trough. If you’re an entrepreneur who is thinking about getting your share of the 650 billion or if you’ve been sleeping for the last 30 years and just woke up, I’ve put together a short chronicle of events to bring you up to speed. Read on.
You’ll be happy to know you won’t need to start from scratch. The first and most important step towards setting the stage to rake in tax dollars was to convince the public that there was “trouble in River City.” (Meredith Willson’s Music Man isn’t a bad analogy if you take out the Madam Librarian bit.) You can thank the Reagan administration for putting a big one in the win column (another one for the Gipper). In 1981 his Secretary of Education (think: Robert Preston, a guy who can’t sing but plays the lead in a musical) put together a committee comprised overwhelmingly of school administrators and one token teacher (and no educational scholars) who looked at some student test scores and concluded that The Greening of American Education | BustED Pencils:

CURMUDGUCATION: ALEC's Resolution for Big Brother

CURMUDGUCATION: ALEC's Resolution for Big Brother:

ALEC's Resolution for Big Brother

ALEC, you may recall, is the fun club for conservative elected officials and conservative corporate folks. They get together, cook up some "sample" legislation, and send those out as templates for various state legislatures to turn into laws. Not only are they not open to ordinary citizens, butthey're pretty adamant about keeping away reporters.

ALEC is interested in many, many aspects of government, but they occasionally take a whack at education, and they have a fun new "resolution" apparently on deck for later this month. If you think that some folks are just a little too paranoid about the whole data mining thing, just have a seat as I walk you through this. Those of you who actually are fully paranoid about data mining may want to strap yourselves in.

It's called the "Resolution in Support of Student-Centered Accountability Systems." Remember when you were a child and some adult would threaten you with how a bit of misbehavior would stay on your permanent record and follow you for the rest of your life? Well, as it turns out, they had no idea how right they were.

Every good resolution starts with some "whereas" business, a list of premises that are supposed to lead us to the "resolved" part. ALEC has a full thirteen piece of wherassing for us. So let's see what our premises are here:


1) ESSA put states back in the driver's seat for public ed accountability. Okay, there are some folks still arguing about that one, but you're technically correct.

2) ALEC supports federalism and likes having states in the driver's seat for accountability. I'm wondering what ALEC means, exactly, by "federalism," but okay again.

3) The purpose of education accountability is to insure "the best possible education for every 
CURMUDGUCATION: ALEC's Resolution for Big Brother:

Parent Coalition for Student Privacy opposes dangerous “model” employee & student privacy legislation | Parent Coalition for Student Privacy

Parent Coalition for Student Privacy opposes dangerous “model” employee & student privacy legislation | Parent Coalition for Student Privacy:


big-brother foto

Adapted from the EFF website.
The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation,  ACLU, and a coalition of nearly two-dozen civil liberties and advocacy organizations  to urge the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) to vote down dangerous model employee and student privacy legislation.
The bill, the Employee and Student Online Privacy Protection Act (ESOPPA), is ostensibly aimed at protecting employee and student privacy. But its broad and vaguely worded exceptions and limitations overshadow any protections the bill attempts to provide. As the letter below explains, ESOPPA will result in only further invasions of student and employee privacy.
The ULC is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to researching, drafting, and promoting the enactment of uniform state laws, which it drafts and circulates as “models.” The ULC will vote on ESOPPA on July 11 at its annual meeting, and if it passes, the ULC will circulate the bill to legislators across the country in the hope of uniform adoption in all fifty states. But ESOPPA falls far short of its goal and does not live up to the prevailing standard for protecting social media privacy currently being enacted by the states and as required by the U.S. Constitution.
Social media accounts include vast quantities of sensitive personal information. As the U.S. Supreme Court made clear in Riley v. California, searches of digital devices are grave invasions of personal privacy in ways that physical searches could never be. Yet ESOPPA does next to nothing to prevent school administrators and employers—including public school employees and state officials—from coercing or requiring students and employees to turn over private, non-publicly available information from such accounts. The bill not only fails to comport with protections afforded to such sensitive personal communication under the Constitution, but the few protections it purports to provide are ripe for abuse and without measures to ensure accountability.
Furthermore, ESOPPA applies only to students at the college level and beyond, leaving the privacy of K12 students completely exposed.
That’s why we’re asking the ULC to either address ESOPPA’s deficiencies or reject the bill outright at its upcoming meeting. Other organizations, including the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), have also sent their own letter to the ULC opposing the current draft of ESOPPA.
You can read the full text of the letter below.
July 6, 2016
Members of the Uniform Law Commission
111 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 1010
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Oppose Unless Amended: Employment and Student Online Privacy Protection Act
Dear Commissioner:
As civil liberties groups, advocacy organizations, student and parent rights coalitions, and a union representative, we write to you today to express deep concern over the Employee and Student Online Privacy Protection Act (“ESOPPA”). We appreciate the ULC’s interest in protecting the privacy of employees and students alike, but the version of the bill submitted to the full ULC committee for approval at the upcoming annual meeting fails to accomplish that goal in light of its significant deficiencies. While it purports to Parent Coalition for Student Privacy opposes dangerous “model” employee & student privacy legislation | Parent Coalition for Student Privacy:

Children are more than test scores: I could have been anywhere today

Children are more than test scores: I could have been anywhere today:

I could have been anywhere today

Today I could hear James Weldon Johnson in my head
"Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won."

I could have been anywhere today.

"Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet"

James, you warned me the road would be stony,
the chastening rod would be bitter, 
our feet would be weary.

I came 500 miles today James.
I stood under the 100 degree Washington DC sun,
I marched under that hot sun,
I sang under that hot sun,
I dance in the afternoon rain...

I could have been anywhere today, 
But, they're closing down our schools today,
But, they're putting For Sale signs on our public schools today,
But, America's Senators and Members of Congress are dinning with Hedge Fund Managers today, 
But, Governor and Mayors are slashing schools budgets today, 
Charter School Pirates are buying our local schools today,
Secretary John King and his Alphabet Boys and Girls at the United States Department of Education are cooking new soups NCLB, RTTT, ESSA, and CBE today,

I could have been anywhere today,
But, they're pushing Rigor to children today,
Children are more than test scores: I could have been anywhere today:

John Thompson: Chronic absenteeism fundamental to schools' failures - NonDoc

Chronic absenteeism fundamental to schools' failures - NonDoc:

Chronic absenteeism fundamental to schools’ failures

Chronic absenteeism

On the eve of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the John Marshall High School I taught at had an attendance rate of 80 percent. We knew we had a serious problem; students can’t learn if they are not in class. So, we made a major effort to address absenteeism, but it was simply impossible for our overburdened staff to make the systematic extra efforts necessary to get truancy under control.
Our problems grew much worse, however, when NCLB mandated that we dramatically raise attendance rates or face repercussions. As data-driven reformers should have known, high-challenge schools had to choose between a focus on the complex challenge of getting more students to come to school more often or the more doable task of just “juking the stats” and making sure absences disappeared from the district’s computer system.
Let me quickly get the following issue out of the way: The OKCPS responded to this maddeningly complicated dilemma like virtually every urban school system. While the district deserves criticism for playing statistical games to comply with test-driven reform, it didn’t create the output-driven policies that took low-performing inner-city schools and made them worse.
As a result, who knows how much of the subsequent reductions of absenteeism rates were Chronic absenteeism fundamental to schools' failures - NonDoc:

Will you answer the call for democracy and education? – Cloaking Inequity

Will you answer the call for democracy and education? – Cloaking Inequity:

Will you answer the call for democracy and education?

My entire life I have been inspired by the 1963 March on Washington. If I close my eyes, I can see and hear Martin Luther King Jr. delivering the I Have a Dream speech. Our generation must, we MUST continue the social change that this nation requires. The 2016 SOS Coalition People’s March for Public Education & Social Justice occurred on the step of the Lincoln Memorial on July 8.
coalition of grassroots groups, union organizations, and activists gathered to organize and march for:
Full, equitable funding for all public schools; safe, racially just schools and communities; community leadership in public school policies; professional, diverse educators for all students; child-centered, culturally appropriate curriculum for all; and no high-stakes standardized testing!  
It was incredible to be a part of the mass gathering of children and adults who rallyied and marched in support of education and social justice this summer!
In my speech at the Lincoln Memorial I implored those listening to answer the call for democracy and education. I also asked attendees to press for community-based solutions in education policy.
My Great Grandmother Z. Louise Scott was at the 1963 March on Washington. In fact, she also heard the I Have a Dream Speech when it was given first in Detroit by Dr. King. So, I was very emotional when I started the speech, you can probably hear my voice cracking.
But her memory, and her remembering her  on the mall more than 50 years ago gave me the strength to give the most important speech of my life to date.

John Thompson: What’s Behind the “Third Wave” of Resegregation | Diane Ravitch's blog

John Thompson: What’s Behind the “Third Wave” of Resegregation | Diane Ravitch's blog:

John Thompson: What’s Behind the “Third Wave” of Resegregation

John Thompson, teacher and historian in Oklahoma, writes here about the resurgence of segregation in America’s schools.
He writes:
Are we heading into another resegregation era? A half century ago, at least in terms of urban education, “White Flight” gave Jim Crow a new lease on life. Then, Reaganomics subsidized more “suburban flight” as “Supply Side Economics” provided subsidies for moving good-paying jobs from cities to the exurbs. This further stimulated the “Big Sort,” or resegregation based on personal preferences. Segregation by choice, this time accompanied by gentrification and competition-driven corporate school reform, fired a second shotgun blast at inner city schools; this occurred as the Rightwing accelerated the destruction of our industrial base, and they were followed by New Democrats seeking to “end of welfare as we know it.”
Research by Cornell’s Kendra Bischoff, Stanford’s Sean Reardon, Ann Owens of the University of Southern California, and others raise the specter of a third wave of resegregation. Bischoff and Reardon recall that income segregation increased by 4.5% per decade since 1970. It has accelerated greatly since 2007. By 2012, more than 1/3rd of families in large metropolitan areas lived “in neighborhoods of concentrated affluence or concentrated poverty,” as “middle-class neighborhoods have become less common.” Moreover, Bischoff further explains why this segregation is so damaging to schools, “Local environments are important for children’s early and adolescent development, so the more polarized communities become, the more unequal the opportunities available to high- and low-income children.”
Reardon and Ann Owens add nuance to the sorry tale that we’ve always known – how flight from desegregated urban schools played a huge part in dividing modern America against itself. In doing so, it severely damaged our social and physical environments and our physical as well as moral health. Owens finds “that neighborhoods in the 100 largest cities became steadily more isolated by income between 1990 and 2010–but the segregation was driven by families with school-age children.”
Whenever we talk about neighborhood and school segregation, they really go hand-in-hand. … There’s really a feedback loop, and it’s often framed as, we can never have integrated schools while we have John Thompson: What’s Behind the “Third Wave” of Resegregation | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Seattle Schools Community Forum: "De-Tracking" on Track in SPS

Seattle Schools Community Forum: "De-Tracking" on Track in SPS:

"De-Tracking" on Track in SPS
Welcome to NPE! - Network For Public Education -

The Times has an article this morning on "de-tracking" which is quite illuminating.

First, the expert they site, Carol Burris, is the head of a group I belong to, the Network for Public Education.

Carol Corbett Burris became Executive Director of the Network for Public Education Foundation in August 2015, after serving as principal of South Side High School in the Rockville Centre School District in NY since 2000.  Prior to becoming a principal, she was a teacher at both the middle and high school level. 

Dr. Burris co-authored Detracking for Excellence and Equity (2008) and Opening the Common Core: How to Bring ALL Students to College and Career Readiness (2012), and authored On the Same Track: How Schools Can Join the 21st Century Struggle against Re-segregation (2014).
She is one of the brightest lights in pushing back on corporate ed reform and a great thinker on public education.  

The Times' article cites her work in New York where she helped her district's de-track middle/high school students and that work showed an increase for African-American students as well as white, Latinos and Asian students, for the Regents Diploma (for A-A students, the rise was from 32-82% in four years.)

I again note that Maple Elementary tried this in 2006 by having Spectrum-level teaching in all their classrooms. It worked but Maple had to fund this on their own and when they found they could not carry on, the district did not step 
Seattle Schools Community Forum: "De-Tracking" on Track in SPS:

Facing tough questions from Calif. officials, virtual charter school operator settles with attorney general | 89.3 KPCC

Facing tough questions from Calif. officials, virtual charter school operator settles with attorney general | 89.3 KPCC:

Facing tough questions from Calif. officials, virtual charter school operator settles with attorney general

A national operator of online schools has agreed to pay $8.5 million in settlement costs and complete a long checklist of reforms at the 14 online charter schools it runs in California, all as part of a deal to close a long-running investigation by the state Attorney General’s office.
In exchange, the A.G.’s office will not pursue civil suits against that operator — Virginia-based K12, Inc. — and the California Virtual Academies on claims the schools falsely inflated their attendance numbers and made misleading claims about their course offerings, class sizes and student test scores.
Additionally, K12 will write off $160 million-worth of credit it had extended to the California Virtual Academies, also known collectively as “CAVA," as part of a settlement filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday.
Though a company spokesperson said K12 never expected repayment of these credits, officials with the A.G.’s office said they felt expunging these credits was an important step toward putting more distance between the for-profit K12 and the individual, non-profit CAVA schools.
“This settlement ensures K12 and its schools are held accountable and make much-needed improvements,” said California Attorney General Kamala Harris in a statement, which also noted K12 had cooperated with the state’s inquiry.
More than 13,000 students attend California Virtual Academies. Different school districts across the state hold the charters for each individual CAVA school; for instance, the West Covina Unified School District authorizes the two L.A. County-based virtual campuses, which enroll a combined total of 3,700 kids.
But each of these individual non-profit entities has a curriculum provider and administrative office in common: K12, Inc. The company furnished everything necessary for students to attend courses and complete assignments entirely online.
In 2012, a whistleblower alleged CAVA teachers were fudging attendance records, counting students who’d logged in for as little as one minute as being present for a full day. This, the attorney general’s office alleged, had the effect of inflating the schools’ funding, since in California, daily attendance determines a school’s funding level.
As part of Friday's settlement, K12 and the CAVA schools agreed to several fixes designed to ensure teachers accurately record attendance and account for students' learning time. They also agreed to remedy a litany of other problems unearthed in the California Department of Justice's lengthy investigation. A few of them:
  • The California Virtual Academies will hire a third-party expert to review and recommend changes to the schools' special education policies. The schools must create a staff training program to "ensure effective understanding of legal requirements related to delivery of special education services."
  • The schools will correct several claims on CAVA websites and in advertisements and that the A.G. described as misleading. (They had said CAVA's public communications included inflated statistics about the growth in students' academic test scores, claims that parent satisfaction rates exceeded 94 percent when they were in fact lower; and false advertisements for class sizes ranging between 15 and 20 pupils, when in actuality, class sizes occasionally topped 30 students.)
  • CAVA schools will provide a $20 subsidy each month to each household to help pay for access to high-speed internet.
  • "To ensure an arms-length relationship between the not-for-profit CAVA schools and the for-profit education management company," each school will adopt conflicts of interest policies preventing K12 employees or their family members from holding seats on the boards of any individual California Virtual Academy. K12 officials will also remove themselves from check writing authority from CAVA schools' bank accounts.
Spurred on by an investigation into CAVA's practices by The San Jose Mercury News, California lawmakers are now considering whether to bar non-profit schools from contracting with for-profit firms to provide instructional services.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the California Charter Schools Association condemned what she termed "the predatory and dishonest practices employed by K12, Inc. to dupe parents using misleading marketing schemes, siphon taxpayer dollars with inflated student attendance data, and coerce CAVA School nonprofit employees into dubious contracting arrangements."
But K12 CEO Stuart Udell pushed back in a written statement of his own, pointing out the settlement did not include a statement of fault or wrongdoing from either the company or the individual schools.
"Opponents of K12 and skeptics of public online education have spent years making wild, attention-grabbing charges about us and our business,” Udell. “The State of California used the full authority and investigative resources of the Office of the Attorney General to investigate these charges for over eight months. In the end, we demonstrated industry leading levels of service and compliance with regulations and benefits to families."
Of K12's $8.5 million total settlement payout, $6 million will reimburse the state for the costs of its investigation.
An audit by the California State Controller's Office into the CAVA schools, which state schools superintendent Tom Torlakson requested in late June based on similar concerns, will still continue. The settlement does not preclude further action based on new findings in that inquiry.Facing tough questions from Calif. officials, virtual charter school operator settles with attorney general | 89.3 KPCC:

Just Released: My 3rd Book, School Choice: The End of Public Education? | deutsch29

Just Released: My 3rd Book, School Choice: The End of Public Education? | deutsch29:

Just Released: My 3rd Book, School Choice: The End of Public Education?

school choice cover

It is now officially published. (As of this writing, it is only available in paperback; stay tuned for the electronic version.)
Here is a brief promo summary of the book:
Proponents of market-driven education reform view vouchers and charters as superior to local-board-run, community-based public schools. However, the author of this timely volume argues that there is no clear research supporting this view. In fact, she claims there is increasing evidence of charter mismanagement–with public funding all-too-often being squandered while public schools are being closed or consolidated. Tracing the origins of vouchers and charters in the United States, this book examines the push to ”globally compete” with education systems in countries such as China and Finland. It documents issues important to the school choice debate, including the impoverishment of public schools to support privatized schools, the abandonment of long-held principles of public education, questionable disciplinary practices, and community disruption.School Choice: The End of Public Education? is essential reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the past and future of public education in America.
Book Features:
* Provides a comprehensive historical account of the origins of vouchers and charters.
* Includes accounts of intriguing historical experiences.
* Examines the defunding of neighborhood public schools in favor of often-under-regulated charters.
* Reveals charter school ”churn” that often follows the closing of a mismanaged charter.
* Provides a cogent counternarrative to the claim that charters are necessary for America to compete globally.
And here is the enticing table of contents (click images to enlarge):

school choice TC 2
school choice TC 3
school choice TC 4
school choice TC 5
In upcoming posts, I will feature some excerpts.
Until then, feel free to pore over my table of contents.
Thank you for reading.
all 3 books

Schneider’s other books are A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 Just Released: My 3rd Book, School Choice: The End of Public Education? | deutsch29:

The Outcome Based Goal of Public Education & The Judiciary Has Been Realized: CITIZENS DON’T MATTER – Missouri Education Watchdog

The Outcome Based Goal of Public Education & The Judiciary Has Been Realized: CITIZENS DON’T MATTER – Missouri Education Watchdog:

The Outcome Based Goal of Public Education & The Judiciary Has Been Realized: CITIZENS DON’T MATTER

price of philanthropy
Why did a Gates supported NGO (Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education) oppose a citizen’s petition to allow those citizens to determine their state’s educational policies?

The only remedy to yet another blatant public education takeover (allowed by the judiciary) to special interests is to take your child out of public school.  The judiciary has adopted the tactics of the education reformers (NGOs) and the Federal Department of Education: it has ignored the right of citizen redress of government/NGO unaccountability.  A Massachusetts citizens’ petition, to decide whether to keep Common Core or revert to the state’s own educational standards, was set aside on a technicality by Chief Justice Margot Botsford.  Sandra Stotsky writes in Our judiciary failed our public schools – and our democracy:

Last week, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts stopped voters from weighing in on a citizen-backed initiative to repeal Common Core.
In her opinion, Chief Justice Margot Botsford blocked on a technicality the petition to let voters decide whether to keep Common Core or revert to the state’s own educational standards. Her reasoning? The measure, she wrote, was unconstitutional because the portion of the ballot question that required the state to release used test items is unrelated to the transparency of state tests.
Got that? Justice Botsford thinks that release of used test items is unrelated to the transparency of state tests and standards as a matter of coherent public policy.

The petition had been approved by the Attorney General’s office and the arguments raised by the judge run contrary to past educational practice in Massachusetts:

It was an oddly-reasoned decision since any classroom teacher in Massachusetts could have told her that the annual release of all used MCAS test items in the Bay State, from 1998 to 2007, was clearly related to the transparency of the state tests and very useful to classroom teachers. Among other things, the information allowed teachers to find out exactly what students in their classes did or did not do well and to improve their teaching skills for the next year’s cohort of students.
Botsford could have asked test experts as well. Any test expert would also have told her that the transparency of an assessment begins with an examination of the test items on it, followed up first by the names and positions of the experts who vetted the items on all tests at each grade level, and then by information on how the pass/fail scores for each performance level were determined, and the names and The Outcome Based Goal of Public Education & The Judiciary Has Been Realized: CITIZENS DON’T MATTER – Missouri Education Watchdog: