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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

PAA to Congress Ed Leaders: stop harmful ESSA regulations | Parents Across America Leadership Conference 2016

PAA to Congress Ed Leaders: stop harmful ESSA regulations | Parents Across America:

PAA to Congress Ed Leaders: stop harmful ESSA regulations

PAA sent the following message to US House and Senate education committee members:
Parents concerned that proposed new ESSA regulations push failed NCLB practices, try to retake top-down control
The US Department of Education has published draft regulations for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. Parents Across America has reviewed these draft rules and we are very concerned that the administration is trying to use them to reestablish policies and practices from NCLB?ESEA that were rejected by Congress and much of the general public.
For example, the draft regulations:
  • over-emphasize standardized test scores in school accountability ratings,
  • require states to label schools in harmful and unnecessary ways,
  • continue to promote school privatization and closure over more effective improvement strategies, and
  • require states to punish schools where large numbers of parents opt their children out of testing.
When the USDOE makes decisions that should be set at the state and local level in partnership with local educators, parents, and students, it takes away local voices that ESSA properly restored. Reducing federal micro-management of public education was a main goal of rewriting NCLB. We will submit comments reflecting this concern via the federal register.
What can you do?
Stand with us parents, along with educators, students and communities who want our schools back. Speak out against those aspects of the draft regulations that violate the intent of the ESSA reauthorization. Help us assure that ESSA is implemented in ways that:
  • focus less on standardized testing,
  • put no restrictions on families or students who opt out of or refuse high stakes standardized tests, and require no consequences for their schools or districts,
  • encourage more creativity and community-centered school improvement practices rather than continue to push NCLB/ESEA’s ineffective privatization and closure strategies, and
  • more strongly advocate for robust parent role in school, district, and statewide education policy-making.PAA to Congress Ed Leaders: stop harmful ESSA regulations | Parents Across America:
Schedule of public online sessions – PAA Leadership Conference 2016 | Parents Across America:
Schedule of public online sessions – PAA Leadership Conference 2016 | Parents Across America:
PAA’s Leadership Conference 2016 begins in less than a week (July 18-20). We have another terrific lineup of sessions and events that will help empower parents and strengthen PAA as an organization.
For those who can’t join us in person, we will be sharing most of our sessions online with non-attending PAA chapter and affiliate leaders, and two sessions with the general public. We will also record and post some of the sessions after the conference.
In order to join the two public sessions, you will need to have downloaded the Zoom online meeting program by going to It’s easy and free.
Each session has a meeting ID and a passwordthat you will need to join that session.
Here’s the schedule for sessions open to the public:

Topic: Next Steps in our Race, Poverty and Education project
Time: Jul 19, 2016 1:00 PM Eastern Time
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
Password: IRPEO
Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll): +16465588656,865532407# or +14086380968,865532407#
Or Telephone:
Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 865 532 407
International numbers available:

Topic: EdTech and Data Privacy with special guest Leonie Haimson
Time: Jul 19, 2016 2:45 PM Eastern Time
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
Password: EdTech
Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll): +14086380968,351309524# or +16465588656,351309524#
Or Telephone:
Dial: +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll) or +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 351 309 524
International numbers available:

If urban districts are failures, why is Christie's man in Newark touting progress?| Editorial |

If urban districts are failures, why is Christie's man in Newark touting progress?| Editorial |

If urban districts are failures, why is Christie's man in Newark touting progress?| Editorial

Parents, teachers and community activists protest outside the Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology, where Gov. Chris Christie met with a small, invitation-only group to discuss his "fairness formula." (Robert Sciarrino | NJ Advance Media for

Chris Christie has been traveling around the state arguing that efforts to improve urban education in New Jersey have utterly failed. But now, his own former schools chief in Newark is providing clear evidence of progress. Awkward.
The latest results show kids in Newark district schools improving their reading and math scores faster than the state average, narrowing the achievement gap with their wealthier peers.
Newark's graduation rate has risen, too, from 56 to 70 percent over the last four years. This is all according to test data provided by Christopher Cerf, the governor's former education commissioner, who more recently became head of the city's schools.
Christie starts political war, goes after poor school children | Moran
The hope is New Jerseyans will reject this demagoguery, but there's plenty to be nervous about. Christie is persuasive.

When Christie nominated Cerf to lead the state's school system back in 2010, he hailed him as "a nationally recognized expert in comprehensive school system reform." Surely the governor has no reason to doubt him now.
Other urban districts are doing even better than Newark, and some are doing If urban districts are failures, why is Christie's man in Newark touting progress?| Editorial |

Democrats make education revisions to 2016 platform — and a key reformer is furious - The Washington Post

Democrats make education revisions to 2016 platform — and a key reformer is furious - The Washington Post:

Democrats make education revisions to 2016 platform — and a key reformer is furious 

In an unexpected move, Democrats have revised the K-12 education section of their party’s 2016 platform in important ways, backing the right of parents to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized tests, qualifying support for charter schools, and opposing using test scores for high-stakes purposes to evaluate teachers and students.
Some of the changes are being welcomed by public school advocates who have been fighting corporate school reform, which includes standardized test-based accountability systems and the expansion of charter schools. Many of these activists have been worried that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, would back corporate reform, just as the Obama administration has. While it isn’t clear exactly what she will do if she becomes president — as platform language does not necessarily translate into policy — supporters of those reforms are furious at the changes, highlighting a rift in the party over how to improve K-12 education.
One of them, Shavar Jeffries, president of the Democrats for Education Reform, an influential political action committee supported heavily by hedge fund managers favoring charter schools, merit-pay tied to test scores and related reforms, issued a statement that went so far as to say that the original draft on education was “progressive and balanced” but that the new language “threatens to roll back” President Obama’s education legacy. (See full statement below.)
Negotiators on the platform committee met this past weekend in Orlando (you can watch here, starting at the 31st minute) and changed an earlier draft of the K-12 education plank (one of five education sections) that had drawn criticism from activists who wanted the Democrats to take a stand against some of the key elements of corporate reform, including on charter schools and test-based accountability. Clinton got booed recently when she appeared at the National Education Association’s convention and touted charter schools (though most of her speech was met with approval).
The first released draft said this:
Democrats are also committed to providing parents with high-quality public school options and expanding these options for low-income youth. We support great neighborhood public schools and high-quality public charter schools and we will help them to disseminate best practices to other school leaders and educators. At the same time, we oppose for-profit charter schools focused on making a profit off of public resources. Democrats also support increased transparency and accountability for all charter schools.
Critics pounced. Veteran educator Peter Greene, for example, said the Democrats needed to Democrats make education revisions to 2016 platform — and a key reformer is furious - The Washington Post:

"It's Not Your Funeral: Don't Make BLM About You"? Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

"It's Not Your Funeral: Don't Make BLM About You"?

By Matt Jungblut, Member of BATs

Regarding the recent deaths of black men by some bad police (this piece is not anti-police, there are many more good police doing a a really hard job with a lot of stress, for very little money - if you want to debate that, start another post elsewhere, please), there are many whites who have some confusion and questions as to what to say and do.
Black Lives Matter is not an anti-police or anti-white group or organization. There may be some folks who are using it that way, much in the same way that there are some Christians who hate, Muslims that bomb, Jews who cheat, and so on, but you'd be wrong to think that those bad people represent the entire group.
If you're still with me and not frothing with outrage right now, good, you're probably the target audience, a rational person who isn't instantly offended.
I am trying to support my black friends best right now by being there if they need me or ask me to be. I am also reading everything that they are writing and posting about, I am doing my best to listen.
That's right, listening, reading, and self educating. I consider America's black community to be in mourning right now. There is a lot of pain and people are expressing it as best as they can, and trying to make sense as to why this is still happening in our country. If you are unsure how to act, perhaps you should treat this situation like a funeral.
Some things I'm not doing: I'm not going on their pages and saying all lives matter. I'm not saying I completely understand how you feel. I'm not saying that we can solve this with love. I'm not saying my prayers are with you. I'm not saying white people get killed by police too. I'm not saying I don't see color. I'm not "white-splaining" the situation. It's not about me. I wouldn't go to a funeral and get up and start preaching or making a eulogy unless I was family or invited to do so.
I'm also not asking black folks to help me understand. It's 2016, these conversations should have happened already. It's not up to black folks to educate me. There's plenty books and articles out there, where black people are expressing what they think. And if you read them, you'll see that there are a thousand different viewpoints being expressed by the black community. There is no single black viewpoint; your friend, coworker, child's teacher, student, neighbor, or the person standing next to you in the elevator does not speak for the entire black community. Neither do President Obama, Al Sharpton, Beyonce, Allen West, Ben Carson, Carmelo Anthony, or Serena Williams. They only speak for themselves and from their experiences. I don't speak for you; nor does Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Mike Trout, or Steven Colbert speak for all white people. Do not expect black folks to explain Badass Teachers Association:

If Rewards Improve Test Scores, What's Really Being Tested?

If Rewards Improve Test Scores, What's Really Being Tested?:

If Rewards Improve Test Scores, What’s Really Being Tested?

standardized tests rewards

The support for high-stakes testing rests on a belief that a test score accurately measures what a student has learned. Therefore, many argue, standardized tests should be a major factor in evaluating teachers. Jeffrey Livingston,an economics professor at Bentley University, wondered what would happen if you offered students a financial reward of $90 to do well on a standardized test. Encouraged by his wife – a public school teacher suspicious of the tests’ ability to accurately measure learning – Livingston and some colleagues set up a trial with some students in Chicago. They released the findings in May. Livingston recently spoke with NEA Today about how the results call into question the value placed on standardized tests.
What was the specific question you wanted the study to adress and how exactly did the program work?
The concern we hoped to test is whether students in urban schools who are at risk of failing to meet state standards try as hard as they can on standardized tests when they have no personal stake in their score.
The experiment gives students incentives to improve their academic achievement over a two-month period, culminating with a chance to show what they have learned on an incentivized standardized test. We designed it to cover the same skills and knowledge that are tested on the official standardized test. We wanted to see the extent to which they show this same new knowledge on the test that the school administers.
Students took the official tests over one week in March and our incentivized tests the following week. Unless there is a difference in how hard students try on each exam, one would thus expect similar performance on the two exams. What we found is that students do much better on the test that is incentivized, but do not show the same gains on the official test.
There’s been quite a bit of research into these extrinsic motivators. How did your results compare with previous studies? 
Many similar experiments have been conducted, though there are differences – such as the outcome that is incentivized, the amount of the reward, and exactly what one has to do in order to earn the reward. So to some degree it is difficult to say why their results might differ.
However, most experiments which give incentives to improve grades or test scores have actually found very little impact. For example, Roland Fryer’s experiments which incentivize “outputs” such as grades and test scores have resulted in small or even If Rewards Improve Test Scores, What's Really Being Tested?:

News Flash - Pelto to run under Green Party Banner for 2nd Congressional District Seat - Wait What?

News Flash - Pelto to run under Green Party Banner for 2nd Congressional District Seat - Wait What?:
News Flash - Pelto to run under Green Party Banner for 2nd Congressional District Seat 

Wait, What? Readers:
Below is the press release that was issued this morning.  Since my gubernatorial effort in 2014, I’ve learned that the only effective way to get substantive media coverage on the important issues that challenge our state and nation is to be a candidate for office.  Since issues like the corporate education reform industry attack on public education and the nation’s unfair tax system that coddles the rich and burdens the middle class deserve far more attention, I have decided to run for Congress under the Green Party banner.  Discussing the critical issues we face is the most important step toward educating persuading and mobilizing people to stand up and speak out.  Watch for more information and a website soon.  Your support and participation would be greatly appreciated.
Meanwhile, Wait, What? will continue its work.
For Release:                                                                 For More Information Contact:
July 12, 2016                                                                Jonathan Pelto 860-428-2823
Pelto to run under Green Party Banner for 2nd Congressional District Seat
Long-time education advocate and former State Representative seeks to empower voters with issue agenda
(Storrs, Connecticut) Jonathan Pelto, a public education advocate and former Connecticut state representative, announced that he will run for Congress in Connecticut’s 2ndCongressional District this year as a member of the Green Party.  The Green Party’s nominating convention will be held on July 30 at Mansfield Public Library’s Buchanan Auditorium.
“I’m running for Congress as a Green Party candidate because this year’s election is so critical for sustaining the future of our democracy.” Pelto said, “I’m not running against Joe Courtney, whose performance in Congress has been extremely admirable, but to ensure that a variety of key issues are raised in this political campaign cycle.  Uncontested and under-contested elections reinforce apathy,  and this year, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, we need every voter to understand what is at stake and participate by voting.”
The Connecticut Green Party is the Connecticut affiliate of the Green Party of the United States. Ralph Nader, the Green Party’s Presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, is from Connecticut and signed Jonathan Pelto’s petition to run for Governor in 2014.
“A Congress that will adopt a fair and equitable tax system that requires large corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share, so that we can pay for vital services and reduce our national debt, is essential for securing the future of our country and create a healthier, safer and more equitable future for all of our citizens” Pelto added.
“In addition to highlighting the importance of an equitable and viable tax system, I will use this campaign to articulate an agenda that stops the privatization of public education and deals with the student debt crisis. Other critical issues include creating a more open and honest government, effective legislation that stops the wealthy from buying political decisions and laws that support, rather than undercut, renewable energy so that we can reduce the devastating effects of climate change.  We must also work to convert our defense industry to develop products for commercial markets,” Pelto concluded.
Over the past ten years, Green Party members have been elected to local positions in New Haven, Windham and New London.  The Connecticut Green Party holds a ballot line in the 2nd Congressional District, having received at least the required one percent of the vote in every election cycle since 2008.
“Jonathan Pelto is Connecticut’s leading voice on behalf of public education” said New London Board of Education member Mirna Martínez. “His willingness to stand up and speak out on the important issues we face will make him an outstanding candidate. We are looking forward to having him heading our Green Party slate in eastern Connecticut.”
Scott Deshefy, who gained ballot access in 2008 to become the first Green Party candidate to run in the 2nd Congressional District, added, “The Green Party is about educating and persuading voters to become better informed and more active in our democracy. Jonathan Pelto’s candidacy is a major step forward in our effort to reach more voters with our agenda of fairness, equity, social justice and grassroots democracy, which touched off the current progressive movement.”
This year’s race presents an unprecedented an opportunity to raise the visibility of the Green Party and to present sensible and humane solutions to the challenges faced by our country, state, and municipalities
“As Connecticut approaches the critically important 2018 gubernatorial campaign, the party and its Congressional candidate must receive at least one percent of the vote in the 2016 election, in order to maintain ballot access and its minor party status in the 2ndCongressional District. I hope to be able to ensure that the Green Party gets those votes” Pelto said.
Pelto, 55, has long a long record of involvement in Connecticut politics and government.  Pelto was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1984, where he served five terms.  During his legislature tenure he served in a variety of leadership positions including deputy majority leader of the House.  In 2014 Pelto was an unsuccessful petitioning candidate for governor.
Pelto is the founder and coordinator of the Education Bloggers Network, a confederation of more than 240 pro-public education bloggers around the country.  For the past six years Pelto has written the Wait, What? Blog, which is purportedly the most read commentary website in Connecticut.News Flash - Pelto to run under Green Party Banner for 2nd Congressional District Seat - Wait What?

ECOT Lawsuit Fails to Block Attendance Audit to Identify Phantom Students | janresseger

ECOT Lawsuit Fails to Block Attendance Audit to Identify Phantom Students | janresseger:

ECOT Lawsuit Fails to Block Attendance Audit to Identify Phantom Students

Everybody has suspected that Ohio’s Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Ohio’s biggest charter school and one of the nation’s largest fully online charter schools, has been collecting tens of millions of tax dollars for years for educating phantom students. Yesterday ECOT lost in its attempt to block an Ohio Department of Education audit to confirm that it is actually educating all 15,000 students it says are enrolled. Yesterday morning this blog covered ECOT’s attempt last Friday to block the audit by filing a lawsuit.
A court hearing on ECOT’s lawsuit took place promptly yesterday, and yesterday afternoon Jim Siegel of the Columbus Dispatch reported: “Franklin County Judge Stephen McIntosh denied ECOT’s request for a temporary restraining order blocking the state from moving forward with its attendance audit that was scheduled to start today (Monday).  ECOT filed suit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on Friday to block the Ohio Department of Education from poring through the online charter school’s attendance records…. School officials argue the department is improperly requiring the school to provide proof of student log-in hours to show students attended the state-minimum 920 hours of (annual) learning time.”
ECOT claims that its students should be given credit for hours of learning when they are not online, but the state is demanding documentation that students are logged in for five hours each day and actively using the online curriculum being provided by the school. ECOT claims that a 2003 contract agreement between the school and the Ohio Department of Education requires that to qualify for an annual per pupil reimbursement from the state, ECOT need merely provide five hours each day of learning opportunities, but not be required to demonstrate that students are actually using the curriculum.
Patrick O’Donnell of The Plain Dealer reports that ECOT also claimed in its lawsuit that, “the department had told online schools last year that it would start requiring more ECOT Lawsuit Fails to Block Attendance Audit to Identify Phantom Students | janresseger:
Big Education Ape: Cyber Charter school tuition criticized as unfair | sharonherald -

Big Education Ape: California Reaches Settlement With K12 Over False Claims Allegations - WSJ -

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

What My Black Student Taught Me, His White Teacher, About Black Lives | gadflyonthewallblog

What My Black Student Taught Me, His White Teacher, About Black Lives | gadflyonthewallblog:

What My Black Student Taught Me, His White Teacher, About Black Lives

I can’t tell you how many times Darnell was in detention.
After a while, it didn’t feel right if he wasn’t staying at least an hour after school.
Darnell was late to class.
Darnell swore at another student.
Darnell copied someone’s paper.
Darnell did just about everything and anything that came to his mind. And it earned him time after school with me, his newly-minted 8th grade language arts teacher.
In a class full of mostly brown and black students, many living in an impoverished high crime Pittsburgh suburb, Darnell was the standout. Or at least his misbehavior was.
At first, he complained, but I had his mom on speed dial, and she fully supported my holding him accountable.
He wanted to do his homework during this time, but I made him do busy work instead. The way I looked at it as a young teacher just starting out, if I gave him time What My Black Student Taught Me, His White Teacher, About Black Lives | gadflyonthewallblog: