Latest News and Comment from Education

Friday, August 5, 2016

CURMUDGUCATION: Bellwether's Learning Landscape

CURMUDGUCATION: Bellwether's Learning Landscape:

CURMUDGUCATION: Bellwether's Learning Landscape

Bellwether Partners, one of the nation's leading reform right-tilted thinky tanks, have created a new report big enough to deserve its own website. The Learning Landscape is an attempt to create a broad overview of the education biz right now, and while there is much to disagree with, it's a bold attempt and an impressive collection of data and stuff. 

I've read this so that you don't have to, but be warned-- there are six big honking sections to this, so our journey will not be a brief one. It may not be a bridge too far, but it's definitely long enough to stretch over some Florida swampland.

Before We Start

Content aside, I will say this about the report-- somebody deserves a big bonus and a pat on the back for the layout and structure of this report. It is easily navigated, enormously readable, and actually takes advantage of some of the technological possibilities of a report on the internet instead of just taking a paper report and essentially scanning it into digital form. So kudos to whoever managed that. Now let's look at what the report actually says.

Chapter 1: Student Achievement

The fundamental problem with this chapter is the same old, same old-- we are saying "student achievement" when what we actually mean is "student scores on a narrow standardized test." The report hides the bad assumption behind this kind of language:

In recent decades, national focus has been on the performance of all students against state and federal standards as well as the relative performance of sub-groups of students based on race, CURMUDGUCATION: Bellwether's Learning Landscape:

The Charterization of Teacher Ed: Relay Moves into Connecticut - Living in Dialogue

The Charterization of Teacher Ed: Relay Moves into Connecticut - Living in Dialogue:

The Charterization of Teacher Ed: Relay Moves into Connecticut

By Lauren Anderson.
Just last week in Cincinnati, the NAACP voted in favor of a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools and a ramping up of regulation on existing charter schools.
A few days later in Philadelphia, the Relay Graduate School of Education proudly co-hosted its “Grit + Imagination” summer institute, right around the same time that sessions kicked off at some of its newest campuses nationwide.
On their surface these events might seem disconnected, and yet they couldn’t be more intertwined in ways the public should understand. How so?
First, civil rights groups are increasingly opposed to charter schools, given their uneven and troubling record and disproportionately negative impact on low income youth and youth of color. And yet, at the same moment that one of the nation’s leading civil rights advocacy organizations is making an historic statement cautioning against privately-managed charter schools, the same kind of privatization–what we might call “charterization”–of teacher education is rolling forward on seemingly greased rails.
In fact, while requirements placed on traditional teacher education programs have intensified over recent years, alternative non-university providers have benefitted from fewer constraints. Federal initiatives such as Race to the Top and now the Every Student Succeeds Act include incentives that to effectively increase The Charterization of Teacher Ed: Relay Moves into Connecticut - Living in Dialogue:

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: School 'reform' Chicago-style. 1,000 teachers/staff laid-off.

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: School 'reform' Chicago-style. 1,000 teachers/staff laid-off.:

School 'reform' Chicago-style. 1,000 teachers/staff laid-off.

CEO Forrest Claypool, left, with CPS general counsel and former Jenner & Block pal Ronald Marmer 
Last week, we learned that CPS chief Forrest Claypool was funneling big contracts to his Jenner & Block law firm pals.

On Wednesday, CPS announced it was maintaining and expanding it's network of high-paid, mid-level regional managers called network chiefs. They're the enforcers who give school principals marching orders and ride herd over clusters of neighborhood schools.

On Thursday, we learned that more privately run charter schools will be opening, including a new $27 million charter that's part of the development around the newly-planned Obama Library in Kenwood. The goal is to give a boost to the real estate market and promote gentrification on the city's south side.

Today, Rahm/Claypool pulled the trigger on nearly 1,000 CPS teachers and staff. That includes 494 teachers — including 256 tenured teachers. The layoffs broke down this way: 302 high school teachers and 192 elementary school teachers for a total of 494; and 352 high school Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: School 'reform' Chicago-style. 1,000 teachers/staff laid-off.:

Fethullah Gulen’s Race to the Top Is Over | Foreign Policy

Fethullah Gulen’s Race to the Top Is Over | Foreign Policy:

Fethullah Gulen’s Race to the Top Is Over

The Turkish cleric's decades-long plan to use schools to acquire political power and cultural influence has ended in shambles.

Like a cancer, this virus has metastasized,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech days after Turkey’s attempted coup. The virus to which he referred was the followers of the Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blames for orchestrating the attempt to topple him from power.
Turkey’s newly declared state of emergency has armed the government with the powers to purge Gulenists across all state institutions: More than 10,000 military personnel, including 151 generals and admirals, as well as about 3,000 police have been arrested or are now in custody, pending investigation.
But the chemotherapy appears to be focusing on education. Of the 67,000 people suspended in the first 10 days of the state of emergency, at least 42,700 are from the Ministry of National Education. By decree, 1,043 private schools have been closed and expropriated, and 15 universities and 109 student dormitories have been closed. All of the country’s 1,577 university deans have been asked to resign, though many presumably will be allowed back once their records are cleared. Meanwhile, Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz has announced that the government will hire more than 20,000 new teachers this year to make up for the loss.
Education features so prominently in the government’s response to the failed coup attempt because the Gulenists have a decades-long commitment to building a network of schools in Turkey and around the world, which has been crucial for their efforts to expand their influence. Turkey’s political class may not have created the Gulen movement, but it allowed it to move into the state apparatus relatively unhindered. It is now determined to cut it out and is starting with the part that feeds the rest: education.
Like many of Turkey’s religious movements, the Gulenist network represents a reaction to the formation of modern Turkey as a secular republic in 1923. It traces its origins to Said Nursi, a polymath known for his prodigious memory and Gandhi-like resolve who built a movement that engaged in civil disobedience against the secular government.
After Nursi’s death, several religious communities based on his teachings took form. Only one grew beyond its provincial origins — the community nurtured by Fethullah Gulen, who was 25 years old when he first went to the coastal city of Izmir and established himself as an imam known for his emotional style. “He would always cry during his sermons,” an octogenarian who attended a few during the 1960s told one of the authors.
But Gulen also had a unique charisma, and his sermons quickly became popular throughout the region. Nearly all were recorded in audio and later video format and made the rounds among the faithful. Gulen was a state-sanctioned imam at the time and did not come out openly against the Kemalist order — but, being part of the Nursi tradition, he did not condone it either.
Starting in the late 1960s, his followers set themselves apart from other religious communities by emphasizing secondary and higher education. Unlike other religious communities, the Gulenists’ educational system reached into all aspects of life. Each boy would be assigned an abi, or “older brother,” who would mentor him in his studies and also endeavor to shape his character. When girls were incorporated, they were each assigned an abla, meaning “older sister.” They would be typically only a few years older than their pupil, such as a university student mentoring a high school student. This gave members of the movement a strong sense of belonging throughout their lives and established a clear hierarchy and ideological unity.
On Turkey’s political spectrum, the Gulenists were clearly political Islamists. It was their secrecy that made them stand out: Whereas most of Turkey’s Islamists openly resisted secularism through grassroots organization and participation in the democratic system, the Gulen movement sought tosubvert secularism. Move “within the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence,” Gulen advised his followers during a now-infamoussermon.
This process should continue, Gulen went on, until his followers had amassed extraordinary influence. “You must wait until such time as you have all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey,” he counseled in the same sermon.
In Gulenist literature, those who will take the reins of the state when this time comes are among the “Golden Generation.” These people have the resolve to “cross over seas of filth,” meaning secular sin, while remaining pure in their intentions and thus bring about a kind of utopia.
But to play the long game, the movement needed a broader base in society, and the key to that was institutional education. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Gulen movement focused on training world-class teachers who could recruit children into their cause.
“I scored high enough in my university entrance exam to get into medical school, but the jamaat [a common phrase for the Gulenist movement] asked me to become a teacher, so that’s what I did,” a teacher who used to work in a Gulenist school said in an interview. As is typical for Gulenists, these teachers were willing to make huge material sacrifices over long periods of time, motivated by the status they attained in the movement and the Fethullah Gulen’s Race to the Top Is Over | Foreign Policy:

Big Education Ape: How U.S. Charter Schools May Be Tied to Turkey's Political Unrest - WNYC -

Big Education Ape: He’s 77, frail and lives in Pennsylvania. Turkey says he’s a coup mastermind. - The Washington Post -

Big Education Ape: Turks Can Agree on One Thing: U.S. Was Behind Failed Coup - The New York Times -

Big Education Ape: KILLING ED: 120 American Charter Schools and One Secretive Turkish Cleric -
Big Education Ape: Reading, writing and religion? Dallas-area charter schools come under fire (again). | Dallas Morning News -
Big Education Ape: United States must extradite Fethullah Gulen to Turkey: Ankara mayor | The Indian Express -
Big Education Ape: Texas Opens Probe Into Gulen Connection to Charter Schools - WSJ -
Big Education Ape: TBF: Charter Schools Tied to Turkey’s Gulen Movement Grow in Texas - The New York Times -
Big Education Ape: Fethullah Gulen: Moderniser or Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing? « CSS Blog Network -
Big Education Ape: Coup-attempting Gülenist group operates near 140 charter schools in US - Daily Sabah -
Big Education Ape: The Gulen Movement’s Collision Course With The Turkish State -

Big Education Ape: US Commander Campbell: The man behind the failed coup in Turkey -

Big Education Ape: Turkey’s Failed Coup Puts Spotlight on a Rural Pennsylvanian Town - WSJ -

Big Education Ape: TBFURMAN: Who's Running These Schools? Part 3 -

Big Education Ape: Turkish rivalry comes to San Jose amid allegations about Magnolia charter schools - Mercury News -

Big Education Ape: Apple Education Services Posts Its Privacy Policy… in Latin | deutsch29 -

Big Education Ape: What Would it Take for US to Extradite Muslim Cleric to Turkey? -

Big Education Ape: Yo Campbell Brown Cat got your tongue? I Guess There is NO Talking Turkey w/ YOU! -

Big Education Ape: TBFURMAN: Who's Running These Schools? -

Big Education Ape: Video shows Gülen urging followers to secretly infiltrate Turkish state institutions - Daily Sabah -

Snuffing out Democracy—the Struggle over Mayoral Control of Seattle’s School Board | The Progressive

Snuffing out Democracy—the Struggle over Mayoral Control of Seattle’s School Board | The Progressive:

Snuffing out Democracy—the Struggle over Mayoral Control of Seattle’s School Board

Seattle and the state of Washington have determinedly resisted the expanding privatization of our nation’s schools. Citizens protested standardized testing and voted three times to oppose charter schools in the state. The issue went to the state's Supreme Court when a fourth charter school initiative passed with a push from big donors. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that charter schools were unconstitutional. We watched as cities likeChicago and Detroit folded to privatization interests. We saw charter school operators take over entire districts as in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and the mostly minority communities of Michigan.
We wanted no part of it.
Seattle has taken back control of its local school board from individuals who supported a former Broad-trained Superintendent’s plans to close schools and convert public schools into charters, and who pushed discredited education reforms including an increase in high-stakes testing, use of under-qualified, short-term Teach for America, Inc. trainees, and tying teacher evaluations to student test scores.
Some other examples of the Seattle School Board’s progressive actions include: initiating later school start times to better match students’ biological needs; passing a resolution to replace the Common Core SBAC test with more fair and valid assessments; establishing a $2 million “student stability” fund to mitigate upheaval at the start of the school year; demanding that special education students be served in the city’s preschool program; moving public testimony to a time when more working parents can participate; placing a moratorium on suspensions of elementary students for non-violent offenses; cutting ties with the Gates Foundation funded Alliance for Education; reaffirming board support of public schools and its opposition to charter schools and taking a stand with the superintendent opposing law-skirting efforts by the Office of the State Superintendent to channel public funding to illegal charter schools via the tiny Mary Walker School District In Eastern Washington.
At the same time, Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray has been working behind the scenes to take mayoral control of Seattle’s School Board.
Back when he was a Washington state senator, Murray sponsored a failed bill proposing that any town or city in the state could hand over its school district to mayoral control. In the last few years Murray has assembled his own Department of Education and worked on privatizing preschool, using tax levy dollars to threaten established city- and county-subsidized preschools with a percentage of money taken away based on the number of children who do not perform well on tests.
 Big Education Ape: Mayoral control of schools worked for New York City, but other poor districts haven’t been so lucky - City & Region - The Buffalo News -

Jersey Jazzman: Steve Sweeney's Weak Case Against New Jersey Teachers & Police Unions

Jersey Jazzman: Steve Sweeney's Weak Case Against New Jersey Teachers & Police Unions:

Steve Sweeney's Weak Case Against New Jersey Teachers & Police Unions

As usual, Tom Moran -- editorial page editor of the Star-Ledger -- leaves all logic behind if it means he can get in a good whack at New Jersey's teachers unions:

Did Senate President Steve Sweeney just commit political suicide?
Sweeney (D-Gloucester) is the highest-ranking Democrat in Trenton, and wants to be governor.
But he just called for a criminal investigation of the state's largest teachers' union, the New Jersey Education Association, which is by far the richest and most powerful special interest group in the state.
"I'm not going to be bullied and I'm not going to be pushed around," Sweeney says. "Whatever it means to my future."
His charge is that leaders of the teachers' union, and the police union, may have crossed the line into bribery and extortion by explicitly linking campaign donations to a vote by the Legislature.
He may have a point. You can wink and nod about this stuff, but you can't promise money for a specific official action. [emphasis mine]
First of all, as I said before: Sweeney is claiming the unions threatened to withhold money if he didn't put a constitutional amendment on pension funding on the ballot. How can it possibly be a bribe if you don't give someone something? The NJEA hasn't promised money for a specific action; what they've said, quite rationally, is that they're not going to Jersey Jazzman: Steve Sweeney's Weak Case Against New Jersey Teachers & Police Unions:

 Big Education Ape: Jersey Jazzman: Sweeney Goes Full Trump on NJ Public Employee Unions -

A Back to School Checklist- opt out and data privacy – Missouri Education Watchdog

A Back to School Checklist- opt out and data privacy – Missouri Education Watchdog:

A Back to School Checklist- opt out and data privacy

back to school check list

Astonishing amounts of student and family data are being collected and stored online by schools and this data is also shared. Sharing your child’s personal information outside of the school should be your decision, students should be able to control their own data, but alas, they can not.
Here are some things you can do
Let the school know you are concerned about data privacy. Don’t be afraid to ASK questions and advocate for your child and don’t settle for someone telling you they don’t collect data and don’t share data outside of the school. Not all teachers or principals will know all the ways that data is collected.  Be patient, educate, don’t blame . Inform others that:  all online programs collect data and can use algorithms to predict and profile children.  Anything in a student’s education record, including IEP information, health records can be shared, anything in the state longitudinal data system, SLDS  (found in every state) can also be shared. Because of a 2011 change to a long standing federal law,  FERPA , your  child’s data can be collected and shared without your consent.  Many now realize that student data collection in out of control and soon to beeven more so with the advent of student data badges and hidden online competency based education,  tests, and data collection.  Be aware, don’t blindly sign away personal information that could be used to PREDICT or PROFILE your child; their data foot print can affect their future jobs, insurance, and chances at college.

The law states that education agencies (schools, districts, state ed departments) must keep logs of who has requested to see your student’s personally identifiable information (pii) and they must provide that information to parentsWe wrote about this  existing code requiring education providers to keep very detailed records of data requests and disclosures and they must provide that information to parents. Use this template letter , send to each education provider to see who has been given access to your child’s pii.   Under FERPA, you also have the right to inspect your child’s data in the SLDS and school education record to make sure it is accurate.

OPT OUT  and REFUSE State Mandated Standardized Tests
Check your state to see if you have adopted a law allowing students and parents to opt out of the end of year High Stakes Tests like PARCC, SAGE, SBAC, without retribution or threats.  Even if you do not have an ” opt out law” , you CAN refuse the test for your child, simply submit A Back to School Checklist- opt out and data privacy – Missouri Education Watchdog:

Corporate Reformers Spin the Test Score Data - Living in Dialogue

Corporate Reformers Spin the Test Score Data - Living in Dialogue:

Corporate Reformers Spin the Test Score Data

By John Thompson.
The education sector is plagued by “astroturf” think tanks that issue “reports” that repeatedly conclude that (surprise!) reform is working. To do so, pro-reform scholars cherry-pick data in order to provide attractive, multi-colored graphics that show an upward trajectory, or at least would indicate growth to readers who don’t carefully study the charts. The worst example may be the “meteor” theory of school improvement. It attributes growth from the late-1990s boom years to the NCLB Act of 2001. Yes! They claim that improved scores on tests taken years before NCLB were caused by the law. This teleological explanation is based on the claim that the 1990s gains were due to “consequential accountability” that was not dissimilar to NCLB. But, reformers can’t even agree on which states supposedly had consequential accountability or even what it supposedly was.

The new report from the Urban Institute about increased student performance in the District of Columbia, by Kristin Blagg and Matthew Chingos, is just as brazen of an act of misrepresenting issues. Blagg and Chingos acknowledged that “the proportion of white and Hispanic students in DC has roughly doubled, while the proportion of black students has declined.” Their analysis of NAEP scores from 2005 to 2013 indicates that those demographic changes account for only four to six points of that eight-year increase. They thus minimize the effects of D.C.’s gentrification on test score growth. But, hold on there! Doesn’t gentrification include more than a shift in children’s skin color?

Blagg and Chingos do not adjust for “any measures of family income!” And, that is not even the most intellectually dishonest part of their spin!

Any education scholar would understand why policy makers would be interested in whether D.C. scores were due to gentrification or improvements in the classroom. D.C. became the epicenter in the clash over Corporate Reformers Spin the Test Score Data - Living in Dialogue:

The Ambitious Education Plan of the Black Lives Matter Movement - The Atlantic

The Ambitious Education Plan of the Black Lives Matter Movement - The Atlantic:

How Black Lives Matter Activists Plan to Fix Schools

Activists are calling for an end to charter schools and juvenile detention centers.

 Black Lives Matter activists have already successfully pushed some colleges to address racism on campus and make curriculum more inclusive. But the movement as a whole has been less visible in the K-12 space. That’s changing.

As my colleague Vann Newkirk has noted, the Movement for Black Lives Matter coalition recently published a platform outlining a range of specific policies it would like to see take shape at the local, state, and federal levels. The education proposals are rooted in the K-12 space, activists who helped draft them told me, because the U.S. public-school system is so broken that college is never an option for many young people of color. And while many universities are privately controlled, the group sees an opportunity to return control of K-12 public schools to the students, parents, and communities they serve.

Public schools, even in the nation’s most affluent cities, remain highly segregated, with black children disproportionately likely to attend schools with fewer resources and concentrated poverty. There are more school security officers than counselors in four of the 10 biggest school districts in the country. And whereas spending on corrections increased by 324 percent between 1979 and 2013, that on education rose just 107 percent during the same time.

The coalition’s proposals are wide-ranging and, depending on who is talking, either aspirational or entirely unrealistic. They range from calling for a constitutional amendment for “fully funded” education (activists say federal funding is inadequate and not distributed equally) and a moratorium on charter schools to the removal of police from schools and the closure of all juvenile detention centers.

Mostly, said Jonathan Stith, the national coordinator for the Washington-based Alliance for Educational Justice and one of the lead authors, the propositions are an attempt to crystallize what the movement supports and to provide activists with a platform from which to move forward. “It’s always been clear what we’re against, but [articulating] what we’re for, what we want to see, was a real labor,” Stith, 41, said. The document is also an effort to connect education priorities to health care, the economy, criminal justice, and a range of other public-policy areas, and to, as Stith put it, force progress “in concert.”.

The plan, which lambasts the “privatization” of education by foundations that wield fat wallets to shape policy and criticizes charter-school networks for decimating black communities and robbing traditional neighborhood schools of resources, drew immediate criticism from education reformers who see charters and groups like Teach for America (the plan calls for its demise) as providing badly needed services to students of color. Some of these reformers said it signaled that the movement was cozy with teachers’ unions and the status quo. Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the head of the National Education Association, one of the country’s two main teachers’ unions, wrote in an emailed comment, “The NEA is honored to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and proud to be a partner The Ambitious Education Plan of the Black Lives Matter Movement - The Atlantic:

Choosing Democracy: Voting for Funding Schools Proposition 55

Choosing Democracy: Voting for Funding Schools _ Proposition 55:

Voting for Funding Schools Proposition 55

Current budget projections show that unless we maintain the current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians, our schools will face nearly $4 billion in cuts. Under Prop. 55 the wealthiest Californians will continue paying the same amount they are now to protect public schools and vital services from deep cuts.
Funding from Prop. 55 will provide local schools the money they need to hire teachers and staff and reduce class sizes. It will help community colleges offer more courses and help keep tuition rates stable. And it will help improve access to health care services for low-income children so they can stay healthy and thrive.
Join the California Democratic Party, California Teachers Association, California State PTA, California Federation of Teachers, California Labor Federation, Children's Hospital Association and so many others and please add your name in support of our kids right now! Because our children and schools matter most.
Thanks for helping us do the right thing for California's children. 
Tom Torlakson
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
 Choosing Democracy: Voting for Funding Schools _ Proposition 55:

Education Department Announces Next Step in President's Testing Action Plan | U.S. Department of Education

Education Department Announces Next Step in President's Testing Action Plan | U.S. Department of Education:

Education Department Announces Next Step in President's Testing Action Plan

The U.S. Department of Education today announced the next step in President Obama's Testing Action Plan—a grant competition to help states get the resources they need to innovate and improve the quality of assessments, enhance reporting for parents, educators and other stakeholders, and reduce redundant and ineffective tests in the state and their districts that builds on the plan released in October that sets forth principles and steps to restore the balance on testing in the nation's classrooms.
This year, the Department is focusing on working with states to improve the quality of testing items, ensure effective public reporting of scores and results, and reduce unnecessary testing.
"The President's Testing Action Plan encourages thoughtful approaches to assessments that will help to restore the balance on testing in America's classrooms by reducing unnecessary assessments while promoting equity and innovation," said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. "This grant competition is the next step as part of that plan, and will help states and districts improve tests to allow for better depiction of student and school progress so that parents, teachers, and communities have the vital information they need on academic achievement."
When done well and thoughtfully, annual assessments can provide meaningful information and provide clear, objective and actionable data that can be used to improve academic outcomes and promote equity for educators, families, the public, and students. When done poorly, assessments can provide inaccurate or misleading information and detract from valuable classroom time. This grant competition seeks to improve the quality of state assessments and provide opportunities for innovative solutions to create better, more meaningful tests so that parents and educators will have the information they need, and states and districts can better identify resources to support students and schools.
"President Obama wants to ensure that all the tests our students take are fair, worthwhile, and they are the best possible measures of student achievement," said Roberto Rodriguez, deputy assistant to the President for education. "He recognizes that too many poor-quality tests have too often taken the joy out of learning for our students, and that we must do more to ensure we are using the best possible measures of how our students are doing. These grants represent an important step forward toward that goal."
The Department will select winners that demonstrate a focus on collaborating with institutions of higher education, other research institutions, or other organizations to improve the quality, validity and reliability of state academic assessments; gauging student academic achievement using a variety of measures; charting student progress over time; and evaluating student academic achievement through the development of comprehensive academic assessment instruments, such as performance and technology-based tools. Applicants will compete for $8.86 million in grants. Applications are due by Sept. 22, 2016.
Earlier this spring, the Administration negotiated proposed regulations with stakeholders regarding the provision of Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that every state administer a high-quality assessment system that is worth taking and provides meaningful data about student success and equity. Those consensus-based regulations were released for public comment last month. In addition, in July the Administration released proposed regulations to encourage states to create the next generation of assessments through the innovative assessment demonstration pilot.
The Department expects to announce winners of the 2016 Enhanced Assessment Grants competition in January 2017.Education Department Announces Next Step in President's Testing Action Plan | U.S. Department of Education:

Ed. Dept. Announces $8.6 Million Grant Competition for States to Improve Testing - Politics K-12 - Education Week -