Latest News and Comment from Education

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Catch up with CURMUDGUCATION: Data-Driven Racism


Catch up with

Data-Driven Racism
Upper Darby is a school district in the Philly part of Pennsylvania with problems deep enough that I will not attempt to sort them out from the other end of the state. Financial issues, segregation, proposed new schools, and a ballbusting superintendent who was put on leave by the board in a non-public meeting-- it's clearly a huge mess with several local issues intersecting . But one of the issue


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
Gaiman: Why We Read
Courtesy of Maria Popova's indispensable website Brain Pickings comes a look into one of author Neil Gaiman's awesomely uplifting essays, this one originally delivered at The Reading Agency , an English charity devoted to developing young readers (you can find the full essay in The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction ). The riches of this essay are considerable. On the business of makin

AUG 04

More Moskowitz Baloney
Eva Moskowitz was given some space by her buddies at the New York Post to run one more advertisement for her Success Academies, this time featuring a twisty interpretation of recently released test scores. She actually starts from an accurate place, noting that the mayor and chancellor are not really entitled to victory laps about the test results because, as State Ed Honcho Elia already noted , t
Rocketship: Redesigning Children
Rocketship Academy's blog recently ran a piece by one of their teachers that really captures some critical problems with their entire approach to education. Step One, it suggests, is to get children to not behave like children. Kindergartners Conquering Personalized “Quests” Learn To Love Reading was contributed by Lauren Berry, who has a solid modern charter background-- after graduating from USC

AUG 03

Milton Friedman's Vision
The Friedman Foundation for Choice in Education has a new name-- EdChoice . The organization considers the change of their "brand" in the pages of its blog . Milton and Rose Friedman are both currently dead, but they apparently left a plan for making sure the group outlived them and kept its focus on its mission, not its deceased beneficiaries. They remain committed to choice, but We don
King's No Excuses
Well, of course it was about no excuses for the students. That was pretty much the whole point . It's the kind of setting Those People need. "We don't a care if you're poor or dyslexic or homeless or just plain not very bright. We are going to demand that you succeed." That's what Those Children need, and it's what No Excuses schools have always promised and demanded. So the first part

AUG 01

Cyber Schools Slammed by Charters (Again)
The Thomas Fordham Foundation releases a report today looking at cyber charters in Ohio , and the cover of the report signals pretty clearly where we're headed. Ouchies! Stock Photo Lad is clearly not prepared to sing the joyous praises of his virtual school, and that bored and contemptuous face pretty much sets the tone for the report (presumably he is a cyber charter student, and not someone who
DFER Scrambles for Leverage
Camp Philos was not so swank this year. In previous years, the Very Deeply Thoughty reformster retreat has taken place at luxurious retreat locations. But this year the Festival of Reforminess was held in Philadelphia in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention. That makes a certain amount of sense because Camp Philos is a project of the Democrats for Education Reform, and DFER is a pro

JUL 31

Common Core Defenders Still Flailing Away
I think of Common Core defenders as a little like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster-- folks kind of believe they're out there, but only a handful of folks will admit to having seen them. After all, neither major party will admit to loving the Core any more, and lots of policy folks have adopted the more generic and less civilian-alarming "college and career ready" for describing any kind
ICYMI: All of July Edition
It's been a few weeks since I had a reading list for you, and this is certainly not the complete list of what I could recommend, but there are still only so many hours in a Sunday. Tea Party Charter Leader Admits Becoming a Cyber School Was Simply a Way To Get a Charter From Eclectablog, which should be on your must-read list, one more example of how the charter sector (particularly in Ohio) is a

What if every kid got to go to summer camp … during the school year?

What if every kid got to go to summer camp … during the school year?:

What if every kid got to go to summer camp … during the school year?

Oregon could be the first state to fund “outdoor school” for all

Students and counselors play a game of “gaga ball,” a bit like dodge ball, before dinner at Crook County’s spring outdoor school at an old summer camp in the Deschutes National Forest. 
SCHUTES NATIONAL FOREST, Ore. — It was early evening in late May. Dinner was done and caper crews of students — “caper” is camp-speak for “chore” — had stacked the firewood into wheelbarrows, swept the dining hall floor, and (eew!) cleaned the bathrooms. The fading spring light slanted through the trees as the girls from Dogwood Cabin headed back to their bunks to practice their end-of-week skit.
“It’s not that bad,” a counselor the campers called Ivy told the 11- and 12-year-olds, nervous about their upcoming acting debuts. “I remember doing it when I went to camp. It’s actually fun.”
“Ivy” is really Kelsee Morgan, 16, a junior in high school. Like every girl in her tent, she attends school in Crook County, Oregon. And, like every girl in her tent, she went to this camp in May of her sixth grade year.
For many in the rural county, once home to loggers and now newly home to Facebook and Google server farms, this summer camp-like experience is one their parents couldn’t have afforded. About two thirds of the district’s students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, a federal measure of poverty.
But here they are. They sleep in cabins named after trees — Aspen, Manzanita and Tamarack. They dip their water bottles in the crystal clear headwaters of Jack Creek — a mountain stream bubbling out of the earth in the shadow of a jagged volcanic peak called Three Fingered Jack. They wander the well-worn pine needle paths of this old Methodist summer camp in the midst of the sprawling Deschutes National Forest, arms linked at the elbows, baseball caps on What if every kid got to go to summer camp … during the school year?:

‘Ashamed’ of Trump, Harvard Republican Club won’t endorse top GOP nominee for first time since 1888 - The Washington Post

‘Ashamed’ of Trump, Harvard Republican Club won’t endorse top GOP nominee for first time since 1888 - The Washington Post:

‘Ashamed’ of Trump, Harvard Republican Club won’t endorse top GOP nominee for first time since 1888

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds baby cousins Evelyn Kate Keane, 6 months old, and Kellen Campbell, 3 months old, following his speech at the Gallogly Events Center at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Friday, July 29, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Stacie Scott/The Gazette via AP)

The Harvard Republican Club was founded in 1888, and is the oldest College Republican chapter in the country. Its website says the club exists to “promote Republican principles, policies and candidates” and members are “proud” of their “rich history of Republican advocacy.”  At least, until Donald Trump won the 2016 Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
The Harvard Republican Club has issued a statement (read in full below) saying that for the first time in its history, it will not endorse their party’s presidential candidate. Why? Because the club is “ashamed” of Trump. He is, the statement says, a “threat to the survival” of the United States.
The Harvard Crimson, a student newspaper, reported that the club polled members this week to see who they were supporting for president. Ten percent said they would support Trump, while 80 percent said they would not. Another 10 percent were undecided.
The antagonism toward Trump among college Republicans is not universal, however. Late last month, the Texas Federation of College Republicans issued a statement congratulating Trump on his nomination. You can see that whole statement below.
An organization called Students for Trump says on its website that it has dozens of chapters at colleges and universities across the country. You can see the list here. The website includes a blog with a post titled, “Convincing a Disgruntled Voter to Ride the Trump Train.”
That said, Trump, according to polls, isn’t popular with young people. A new McClatchy pollshows Trump now getting 1 in 10 votes  among Americans under 30 years old. That’s 9 percent, compared to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s 41 percent. Trump doesn’t even have as much support with young people, according to the poll, than the Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson, who has 23 percent of the youth vote, or Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who has 16 percent.  Trump can take comfort in that he is slightly ahead of the 8 percent in the “undecided” camp.
Here’s the Harvard Republican Club’s statement:
Dear Members and Alumni,
In every presidential election since 1888, the members and Executive Board of the Harvard Republican Club have gathered to discuss, debate, and eventually endorse the standard-bearer of our party. But for the first time in 128 years, we, ‘Ashamed’ of Trump, Harvard Republican Club won’t endorse top GOP nominee for first time since 1888 - The Washington Post:

Amy Frogge, Nashville Hero, Won Re-Election with “An Army of Moms” | Diane Ravitch's blog

Amy Frogge, Nashville Hero, Won Re-Election with “An Army of Moms” | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Amy Frogge, Nashville Hero, Won Re-Election with “An Army of Moms”

Amy Frogge is a member of the Metro Nashville School board. She is a lawyer and a parent of children in the Nashville public schools. When she was first elected four years ago, the charter industry spent $125,000 in an effort to defeat her. At the time, she was running as a concerned parent who thought there was too much testing, and she was unaware of the battles behind the scene between privatizers and supporters of public schools. She was outspent 5-1, and yet she won. For the past four years, she has been an intrepid supporter of public schools and has helped to repel the rapacious charter movement. For her courage and dedication to children, she is on the honor roll of this blog.
In the election this past week, the “reformers” spent $150,000 to taker her out, and she won again, overwhelmingly.
She was attacked by the local newspaper and by mailers that smeared and defamed her. There were even “push polls,” in which voters were falsely told that Amy defended child molesters and pornographers. Amy has never had criminal clients, and she is not currently practicing law (her husband was a public defender). Other pro-public school candidates were targets of similar smear tactics. It was an amazingly dirty campaign, funded by the usual corporate types, which funneled their money through Stand for Children.
The people of Nashville gave a sound thrashing to Stand for Children and its dirty politics and dark money.
How did Amy do it? She mobilized parents to work as volunteers in her campaign. Stand for Children dubbed them “an army of moms.” Great name!
To see a picture of Amy and some of her “Army of Moms,” look at her Facebook page.
I made an error in reporting the Nashville election results. One of Stand’s pro-charter candidates, incumbent Sharon Gentry, was re-elected. However, another pro-charter incumbent, Elissa Kim, stepped down and her seat was won by former teacher Christiane Buggs. (Kim was until recently head of recruitment for TFA nationwide.) Buggs will be an ally of the pro-public school members. There are nine board members. Only three are strongly pro-charter.
A great night for Nashville public schools, and a great lesson about how parents can beat Dark Money. Amy Frogge, Nashville Hero, Won Re-Election with “An Army of Moms” | Diane Ravitch's blog:

New Social-Emotional Standards to Complement Common Core

New Social-Emotional Standards to Complement Common Core:

New Social-Emotional Standards to Complement Common Core

Crumpled paper ball with red words "Bad idea" and background with words "idea" in woman hand.

If you thought Common Core State Standards were bad, look out! Here come the new social-emotional standards to complement Common Core—because nothing says children have feelings more than benchmarks!
Today’s Common Core State Standards are aligned to high-stakes testing that closes schools and pushes good teachers out.
Of course, many parents have not been happy with Common Core—so much so that it has been likened politically to a “third rail” topic with the Democrats. The Republicans seem to have dropped it from their platform as well. So don’t strain your ears listening for those words on the campaign trail.
But according to Education Week, there is an effort underway to produce standards to create caring, nurturing children. The Every Student Succeeds Act includes the push New Social-Emotional Standards to Complement Common Core:

Pittsburgh School Director Donates Kidney to 7-Year-Old Student | gadflyonthewallblog

Pittsburgh School Director Donates Kidney to 7-Year-Old Student | gadflyonthewallblog:

Pittsburgh School Director Donates Kidney to 7-Year-Old Student

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 12.13.07 AM

 Moira Kaleida represents the best of public service.

Some people would give you the shirt off their backs.
She gave a sick child a kidney out of her body.
The Pittsburgh School Board Director isn’t related to the 7-year-old student. She is barely an acquaintance. She doesn’t even represent the ward in which he and his family live. But when she read a Facebook request asking for donors, she says it was a “no-brainer.”
“I thought if it were my kid, I’d want to know someone was out there trying,” Kaleida says.
“It really doesn’t affect my everyday life beyond the couple of weeks of recovery. But for him, it’s something that changes his life drastically.”
The child, Laith Dougherty, had already undergone two heart transplants, one when he was 3 months old and another when he was 3 years old. But in 2012, a test showed his kidneys were working at only 35 percent capacity. After a series of illnesses in the fall, they were down to 6 percent and he was on dialysis.
None of his immediate family was a match and his B blood type made finding one Pittsburgh School Director Donates Kidney to 7-Year-Old Student | gadflyonthewallblog:

How Newark Charter School Cooked Their Books To Break The Law In Delaware – Exceptional Delaware

How Newark Charter School Cooked Their Books To Break The Law In Delaware – Exceptional Delaware:
How Newark Charter School Cooked Their Books To Break The Law In Delaware

Newark Charter School found a way to overtly break Delaware charter school laws and they are using parents and students to do it.
Yesterday, an anonymous source informed Mike Matthews that Newark Charter School’s student body activity funds are legit.  Be that as it may, they aren’t reporting the revenue generated from these activities.  Instead, they are putting at as an expense on their monthly budget.  They aren’t reporting this revenue anywhere.  But they are showing the expense on their monthly budget.  How much are they getting overall?  That is unknown, but I was able to find out they are using student body activity revenue to pay for items they should not be according to Delaware law.
Newark Charter School does not post a 990 IRS tax form on their website.  They are exempt from even filing this return.  Why?  Because way back during the Bill Clinton years, they had elected officials on their founding board.  Granted, none of those elected officials are there anymore.  No one has ever questioned NCS at a state level about this before and they just assume it is alright.  Even though the IRS issued very specific guidance to charter schools about this type of exemption.  But of course Newark Charter School takes advantage of this ambiguity.  Until the IRS determines they are not exempt, they will continue to not file tax returns.  Even though they should and the reasons for them not doing so are the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  On IRS 990 tax forms, non-profit corporations are required to show any revenue they receive.  They don’t have to pay taxes at all, but they are required to show their numbers.
There are a multitude of reasons why Newark Charter School would not want to file an IRS tax return.  They are the only Delaware charter school specifically exempt from this.  Academy of Dover had their corporation status rescinded by the IRS some years ago, but the Delaware Dept. of Education turned a blind eye to this glaring fact during the school’s formal review last year which was in part over financial viability.  Eventually, Academy of Dover was able to restore this status and are now filing their 990 forms on their website.  But Newark Charter School took advantage of the bogus loopholes in this IRS regulation and have had a field day with it ever since.
This was my biggest issue with any changes to House Bill 186, the original charter school audit bill.  My sense was that anything even associated with charter school audit legislation would only be tainted by Senator David Sokola.  This would somehow benefit Newark Charter School and keep their finances in the dark.  Anyone can make a budget and show numbers on it, but a true audit and an IRS return would show a lot of information.  They would have to report the revenue they receive from students or their parents for field trips and How Newark Charter School Cooked Their Books To Break The Law In Delaware – Exceptional Delaware:

Feds Spar With NAACP Over Criticism of Charter Schools | TakePart

Feds Spar With NAACP Over Criticism of Charter Schools | TakePart:

Feds Spar With NAACP Over Criticism of Charter Schools

The civil rights group blames the schools for many ills, including resegregation of classrooms.

In Cincinnati last week, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for a national moratorium on charter schools, declaring their proliferation in poor, urban neighborhoods the educational equivalent of “predatory lending practices” responsible for issues ranging from unequal discipline to school resegregation.
Education Secretary John King pushed back on the NAACP’s declaration in Washington on Thursday, insisting there shouldn’t be “artificial barriers” to the growth of quality, taxpayer-funded, locally controlled schools that are “drivers of opportunity for kids.”
There are “places around the country that you will find characters that are closing the achievement gap, charters that are sending all of their students on to college when the local neighborhood school is sending hardly any students on to college,” King told reporters at the annual National Association of Black Journalists–National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention, just hours after the NAACP approved its resolution in Baltimore.
Still, “there are charters that are not good, and states need to act to improve those schools or close those schools,” King said in a one-on-one interview with journalist Maria Hinojosa. “So our role at the federal level is to both encourage the creation of schools that are good and also encourage charter operators to take their responsibility to act” when schools come up short.
The one-day, long-distance debate between King, the top education official in the country, and the NAACP, arguably the nation’s most august civil rights organization, mirrors the national controversy around charter schools.
As cash-strapped states and school districts struggle to adequately fund public schools, particularly in urban areas, the appetite for charters has grown among policy makers and education reformers (and like-minded conservative politicians).
Supporters point to charters as a way for communities, parents, and educators to work together, creating a coherent, tailored plan to teach kids based on where they live and what they need. They argue that charters offer parents in struggling neighborhoods a choice, increasing competition for failing traditional public schools.
Opponents, however, say the charter school system sacrifices accountability—and the fight between affluent and poor districts for equitable school funding—on the altar of local control. With less accountability, they say, those schools have a reputation of shortchanging students, mismanaging publicly funded budgets, and overworking teachers, with little government oversight.
According to the U.S. Department of Education,the number of charter schools nationwide has more than tripled since 2000, from 1.7 percent to 6.2 percent, with the total number of public charter schools increasing from 1,500 to 6,100. They also got bigger over the same time. The number of schools that have between 500 and 1,000 students doubled, from 11 percent to 22 percent.
A series of studies has revealed that, propelled by housing trends and income inequality, an eyebrow-raising number of charter schools and public schools are more likely to be Feds Spar With NAACP Over Criticism of Charter Schools | TakePart: