Latest News and Comment from Education

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Diane Ravitch: Worldwide, Public Education Is Up for Sale | Best Countries | US News

Worldwide, Public Education Is Up for Sale | Best Countries | US News:

Worldwide, Public Education Is Up for Sale
From the U.K. to Liberia, the school privatization movement gathers steam.

For the past three decades, critics of public education in the United States have assailed it and used its flaws to promote publicly funded privatization. Corporate and political interests have attacked the very concept of public education, claiming that the private sector is invariably superior to the public sector.
These developments are by no means limited to the U.S.; the same movement to privatize public schools is occurring in the United Kingdom, Africa and other regions – with troubling implications

In the U.K., the Conservative Party government wants to turn all public schools into private academies, funded by taxpayers. The British multinational corporation Pearson has ambitions to open for-profit schools using its products in many nations across the world. In Africa, a corporation called Bridge International Academies (BIA) is opening for-profit schools in poor countries that cost $1 a week. Liberia is considering outsourcing its entire elementary program to BIA, which is funded by American billionaires Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and others from Wall Street.
The Economist magazine wrote a glowing article about BIA's plan to make low-cost schooling available in Africa, because existing public schools are so poorly resourced. The potential market of hundreds of millions of children is alluring and sure to be profitable. Teachers in the Bridge schools are uncertified; They teach a scripted curriculum from a notebook computer. Many families cannot afford even $1 a week, especially if they have more than one child. Meanwhile, the state is relieved of responsibility to supply what is being outsourced to private enterprise.
Many of the plans to privatize education globally can trace their beginnings back to ideas and funding that started in the United States.
In the U.S., the attack on public education can be traced to a 1983 report by a commission appointed by the Reagan administration. Titled "A Nation at Risk," it warned that the public schools were so mediocre that the future prosperity of the nation was endangered by them. Advocates of privatization saw an opportunity to advance their cause and joined in the Worldwide, Public Education Is Up for Sale | Best Countries | US News:

Obama administration accused of trying to dictate education policy to states — again - The Washington Post

Obama administration accused of trying to dictate education policy to states — again - The Washington Post:

Obama administration accused of trying to dictate education policy to states — again

 The U.S. Education Department solicited public comment on draft regulations it has created for states to implement the school “accountability” and data reporting provisions of the new Every Student Succeeds Act — and, boy, did it get feedback, some of it scathing.

When Education Secretary John B. King Jr. announced the proposed rules in May, he said they were designed to “give states the opportunity to work all of their stakeholders … to protect all students’ right to a high-quality education,” and that they “give educators room to reclaim for all of their students the joy and promise of a well-rounded educational experience.”
King was referring to the mess created by No Child Left Behind, the K-12 education law that ESSA was passed last December to replace. NCLB, with accountability goals literally impossible to meet, had led to a severe narrowing of the curriculum and an over-emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing. Congress finally replaced No Child Left Behind — eight years late — because of NCLB’s flaws and because of criticism from across the political spectrum that the Obama administration had become too prescriptive and heavy-handed in education policy
Now, the deadline for public comment of the proposed regulations has just passed, and education officials in some states as well as teachers, superintendents and others have told the Obama administration that it is still overreaching with its proposed ESSA regulations — and in at least one instance, went further and blasted the Education Department. Here’s a taste of a letter from the Vermont Board of Education, signed by chairman Stephan A. Morse (and you Obama administration accused of trying to dictate education policy to states — again - The Washington Post:

BACK TO SCHOOL: A parent’s guide to K-12 school success

A parent’s guide to K-12 school success

The teacher pay gap is wider than ever: Teachers’ pay continues to fall further behind pay of comparable workers | Economic Policy Institute

The teacher pay gap is wider than ever: Teachers’ pay continues to fall further behind pay of comparable workers | Economic Policy Institute:

The teacher pay gap is wider than ever

Teachers’ pay continues to fall further behind pay of comparable workers


What this report finds: The teacher pay penalty is bigger than ever. In 2015, public school teachers’ weekly wages were 17.0 percent lower than those of comparable workers—compared with just 1.8 percent lower in 1994. This erosion of relative teacher wages has fallen more heavily on experienced teachers than on entry-level teachers. Importantly, collective bargaining can help to abate this teacher wage penalty. Some of the increase in the teacher wage penalty may be attributed to a trade-off between wages and benefits. Even so, teachers’ compensation (wages plus benefits) was 11.1 percent lower than that of comparable workers in 2015.
Why this matters: An effective teacher is the most important school-based determinant of education outcomes. It is therefore crucial that school districts recruit and retain high-quality teachers. This is particularly difficult at a time when the supply of teachers is constrained by high turnover rates, annual retirements of longtime teachers, and a decline in students opting for a teaching career—and when demand for teachers is rising due to rigorous national student performance standards and many locales’ mandates to shrink class sizes. In light of these challenges, providing adequate wages and benefits is a crucial tool for attracting and keeping the teachers America’s children need.

Introduction and key findings

An effective teacher is the most important school-based determinant of education outcomes.1 Therefore it is crucial that school districts recruit and retain high-quality teachers. This is increasingly challenging given that the supply of teachers has been greatly affected by high early to mid-career turnover rates, annual retirements of longtime teachers, and a decline in students opting for a teaching career.2 At the same time, many factors are increasing the demand for teachers, including shrinking class sizes, the desire to improve diversity, and the need to meet high standards. In short, the demand for teachers is escalating, while simultaneously the supply of teachers is faltering.
The supply of teachers is diminishing at every stage of the career ladder. On the front end, fewer students are entering the profession. Generally speaking, the small fraction of the most cognitively skilled college students who elect to become teachers has declined for decades (Corcoran, Evans, and Schwab 2004). Several factors have helped to drive this trend. Over the long run, employment opportunities for women have greatly expanded, and thus the teaching profession can no longer rely on what was a somewhat captive labor pool. At the same time, teachers are less satisfied and more stressed as standardized testing has been elevated as a tool for student, school, and teacher evaluations.3


Cost of lead poisoning in Flint: $458 million - The Atlantic

Cost of lead poisoning in Flint: $458 million - The Atlantic:

Cost of Lead Poisoning in Flint Now Estimated at $458 Million

A case for investing in human health rather than paying for the consequences of inaction

 Switching to the Flint River as the city’s primary water source was an attempt to save around $5 million over the course of two years in Flint, Michigan.

Instead it has cost $458 million.

That’s according to calculations from analyst Peter Muennig at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Only $58 million of that is expenditure by the state on medical care and unleaded water. The bulk of the number includes the social costs: Exposures leaking IQ points from children and disposing them to aggression and violence later in life, which leads to lower economic productivity, greater dependence on welfare programs, and greater costs to the criminal justice system.

The lifelong bill for each case of low-level lead poisoning is about $50,000 and 0.2 years of perfect health, based on CDC data. Flint has already seen more than 8,000 documented exposures, while each year there are some 90,000 across the country. When it comes to low-level exposure, Muenning and many others believe that drinking-water is the most common source. Chewing on paint tends to cause higher lead levels.
Muenning explained to me that while the chain of events may not be immediately evident, it’s important to follow backward as a matter of avoiding a common fallacy: considering the costs of action (primarily in economic and financial terms) while ignoring the costs of inaction. Those costs can be rendered in the interest of maximizing human well-being or simply protecting a municipal bottom line, depending on one’s priorities.
Either way, confronting the cost up-front—for public-health measures as for so many things in life—tends to be difficult. It also tends to divide people along political lines.
“Hopefully these numbers generate some feedback and controversy,” he laughs.
I wondered if there were something controversial about his calculations that I was overlooking.
“No,” he explained, “I just think it’ll be controversial because people feel weird Cost of lead poisoning in Flint: $458 million - The Atlantic:

Big Education Ape: Flint Water Crisis: Mr. Shuette I Am Shocked -

Wendy Lecker: Policy can foster positive relationships for kids - StamfordAdvocate

Wendy Lecker: Policy can foster positive relationships for kids - StamfordAdvocate:

Wendy Lecker: Policy can foster positive relationships for kids

 Photo: Donna Grethen
Current education policy focuses on a failed strategy of school and district “turnarounds;” characterized by staff shake-ups and pedagogical practices that focus narrowly on raising test scores. This reform has been the Malloy Administration’s approach to school “improvement” since 2012. The evidence demonstrates that turnarounds produce at best temporary small increases in test scores, but at the high cost of destabilizing schools and communities in the long run.
While policymakers stubbornly pursue this dead end, they ignore evidence from science and educational practice pointing to methods that result in long-lasting improvements in both academic and life outcomes, especially for at-risk children.
A recent article in the science magazine, Mosaic, described a longitudinal study of children in Hawaii that examined why some at-risk children develop significant problems while others do not. The researchers found that for the one-third of at-risk children who did not develop problems, positive relationships, whether in the context of a community or one adult, were key. Even those who engaged in risky behavior as teens were able to turn their lives around with the help of a personal connection.
One of the researchers observed that resilience, often described as a trait, is instead an adaptive process; one that is helped by relationships.
Education reformers misread resilience as a trait they like to call “grit,” and consequently develop misguided policies such as the recent announcement by the federal government that the National Assessment of Educational Progress will create a standardized test to determine whether children have “grit.”
Understanding resilience the way these scientists have come to understand it would lead to a focus on more successful educational policies. Consistent with what science has discovered, it turns out that school programs and policies that promote the development of relationships are the ones that provide long-term educational and life benefits, especially to disadvantaged children.
It stands to reason that school mechanisms promoting a personal connection improve learning as well as social development. Neuroscientists have found that the brain does not recognize a sharp distinction between cognitive, social and motor functions. Consequently, research has shown that feelings of social isolation impair key cognitive abilities involved in learning.
Though they require substantial initial investments, educational policies that foster relationships save money in the long run.
Developmentally-appropriate preschool, with an emphasis on play, enables children to acquire the skills necessary to form healthy relationships. There is near universal consensus that quality preschool benefits children, increasing the chance of Wendy Lecker: Policy can foster positive relationships for kids - StamfordAdvocate:

School Nutrition Programs (SNP) Reimbursement Rates - Rates, Eligibility Scales, & Funding (CA Dept of Education)

2016-17 CNP Reimbursement Rates - Rates, Eligibility Scales, & Funding (CA Dept of Education):

School Nutrition Programs (SNP)

Reimbursement Rates for
July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017

SNP Reimbursement Rates Sheet for 2016-17 (DOC)
Schools/agencies can download this sheet for an easy reference for SNP Reimbursement Rates for 2016-17.

School Breakfast Program

Basic Breakfast$1.71$1.41$0.29
Especially Needy Breakfast$2.04$1.74$0.29
Note: Especially Needy Breakfast is for approved sites that served 40 percent or more free and reduced-price lunches in 2014-15.

National School Lunch Program

 FreeFree+6 cents*Reduced-PriceReduced-Price+6 cents*PaidPaid+6 cents*
Agencies that served less than 60% free/reduced-price lunches in 2014–15$3.16$3.22$2.76$2.82$0.30$0.36
Agencies that served 60% or more free/reduced-price lunches in 2014–15$3.18$3.24$2.78$2.84$0.32$0.38
Commodity ValueNot AvailableNot AvailableNot AvailableNot AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Note: Payments listed for free and reduced-price lunches include both section 4 and section 11 funds of the National School Lunch Act.
*Certified SFAs are eligible to receive performance-based cash assistance for each reimbursable lunch served beginning October 1, 2012.

Meal Supplements (After-School Snacks) in the National School Lunch Program


State Meal Program and State Meal Reimbursement for Public SFAs Serving Breakfasts and Lunches in Federal Programs

Prop 98 Agencies certified with EC sections 49430, 49430.5, & 49430.7
Not Applicable
 Prop 98 Agencies not certified with EC sections 49430, 49430.5, & 49430.7
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
All Other (or non-Prop 98) 
Not ApplicableNot ApplicableNot Applicable

Special Milk Program

Average cost per half pint
Not Applicable
Per half pint: $0.1975

Summer Food Service Program

Reimbursement Rates for
January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016

Total (Combined) Reimbursement

Includes operating and administrative components.
Type of MealRural or Self-PrepAll Other Site Types
Lunch or Supper

Family Affair – EduShyster

Family Affair – EduShyster:

Family Affair

Political scientist Maurice Cunningham says the campaign to lift the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts is driven by GOP operatives and a handful of wealthy Republican families…

EduShyster: Ads in support of Question 2, the ballot initiative that will dramatically expand the number of charter schools in the Bay State, arerunning during the Olympics, and come with the tagline: *more money for public education.* I was prepared to give them a gold medal for, um, dexterity, but since the ads are being produced by the team that made the infamous Swift Boat ads that cost John Kerry the 2012 presidential election, I suspect there’s plenty more where that came from.
Maurice Cunningham: I think we can expect some rough stuff. This is a Republican effort, it’s a big money effort, and it’s a conservative effort. That’s where they tend to go.
EduShysterThere’s a well-funded effort underway to paint the campaign to lift the charter cap in Massachusetts as a progressive cause. But what you’ve found in yourresearch is that this is basically a Republican production from top to bottom.
CunninghamThat’s right. There are a handful of wealthy families that are funding this. They largely give to Republicans and they represent the financial industry, basically. They’re out of Bain, they’re out of Baupost, they’re out of High Fields Capital Management. Billionaire Seth Klarman, for example, has been described as the largest GOP donor in New England, and he gives a lot of money to free market, anti-Family Affair – EduShyster:

Bipartisan group of state lawmakers calls for big changes to improve U.S. public schools - The Washington Post

Bipartisan group of state lawmakers calls for big changes to improve U.S. public schools - The Washington Post:

Bipartisan group of state lawmakers calls for big changes to improve U.S. public schools

What will it take for U.S. schools to improve — not incrementally, but dramatically?
That’s the question that a bipartisan group of state lawmakers from around the country set out to answer two years ago, when they embarked on a study of the world’s highest-performing school systems. They compiled their answers in a report released Tuesday at the annual summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“The bad news is most state education systems are falling dangerously behind the world in a number of international comparisons,” says the report. “The good news is, by studying these other high-performing systems, we are discovering what seems to work.”
The group examined 10 nations that fare well on international comparisons, including China, Canada, Singapore, Estonia, Japan, Poland and Korea, and discovered common elements: strong early childhood education, especially for disadvantaged children; more selective teacher preparation programs; better pay and professional working conditions for teachers; and time to help build curriculum linked to high standards.
It also says that high-performing countries tend not to administer standardized tests annually, as the United States does, but instead at key transition points in a student’s career. The assessments emphasize essays over multiple-choice in an effort to gauge students’ complex thinking skills, according to the report. And the tests cost more than states are used to paying for standardized tests, but “these countries prioritize this investment as a small fraction of the total cost of their education system, knowing that cheaper, less effective, less rigorous assessments will not lead to world-class teaching or high student achievement.”
The report — which comes as a new federal education law returns considerable power to shape public education to the states — urges state lawmakers to build a coherent vision for better schools instead of adopting piecemeal reforms.
“Education is first and foremost a state responsibility. Each state can develop its own strategies for building a modern education system that is globally competitive, similar to the approach taken by other high-performing countries,” the report says. “But we must begin now. There’s no time to lose.”
The report does not address some of the more controversial and partisan issues that state legislatures face, such as the role of charter schools, vouchers and other school-choice initiatives.
The report’s findings echo many of the ideas that teachers unions support. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, praised the bipartisan committee, saying it had “set aside political ideologies to work together for what’s best for students and educators.”
The new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, “creates an educational reset, with the states now being the movers and shakers,” Weingarten said. “This is a rare opportunity in the United States to look at some of the best international practices and apply them here.”
Here are the members of the committee that worked on the report:
State legislators
Rep. Robert Behning, Ind.
Rep. Harry Brooks, Tenn.
Rep. Tom Dickson, Ga.
Rep. Ken Dunkin, Ill.
Sen.  Joyce Elliot, Ark.
Sen. John Ford, Okla.
Rep. Eric Fresen, Fla.
Rep. Lynn Gattis, Alaska
Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, N.H.
Rep. Wendy Horman, Idaho
Rep. Betty Komp, Ore.
Sen. Peggy Lehner, Ohio
Sen. Rich Madaleno, Md.
Sen. Luther Olsen, Wis.
Rep. Alice Peisch, Mass.
Sen. Robert Plymale, W.Va.
Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, Wash.
Rep. Jacqueline Sly, S.D.
Sen. David Sokola, Del.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, Utah
Rep. Roy Takumi, Hawaii
Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, Nev.
State legislative staff
Ben Boggs, legislative analyst, Ky. legislature
Todd Butterworth, senior research analyst, Nev. legislature
Rachel Hise, lead principal analyst, Md. legislature
Julie Pelegrin, assistant director of the office of legislative legal services, Colo. legislature
Phil McCarthy, senior analyst, Maine legislature
Anita Thomas, legal counsel, N.D. legislature
NCSL education staff
Julie Davis Bell, group director
Michelle Exstrom, program director
Lee Posey, federal affairs counsel
Madeleine Webster, policy associate
Barbara Houlik, staff coordinator
Project partners
Daaiyah Bilal-Threats, National Education Association
Dane Linn, Business Roundtable
Scott S. Montgomery, ACT
Chris Runge, American Federation of Teachers
Adrian Wilson, Microsoft Corp.
National Center on Education and the Economy
and Center on International Education Benchmarking Staff:
Marc Tucker, president
Betsy Brown Ruzzi, vice president and director of CIEB
Nathan Driskell, policy analyst
 Bipartisan group of state lawmakers calls for big changes to improve U.S. public schools - The Washington Post: