Latest News and Comment from Education

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Catch up with CURMUDGUCATION: PA: Charters Spend Less on Teaching



PA: Charters Spend Less on Teaching
This week the Pennsylvania School Boards Association released a report looking at what charter schools are doing with all that taxpayer money. Short answer-- spending a whole lot of it on administration, and not quite so much on actual instruction of students. But when have I ever settled for a short answer. Let's stroll through this report and check out the many highlights. Piercing the Charter C


Do Rock Star Teachers Really Need A Union???
Raymond J. Ankrum, Sr., is a teacher-blogger who put in some years in the Baltimore school system and who now is working a charter gig. And in a recent post, he asks the question that lots of union critics think, but don't always have the nerve to articulate. The question often comes from people not working in public education-- why do you need a union or tenure or a lock-step pay grid? Isn't all

AUG 18

No, CAP-- CCSS Is Not the Path to Better Reading
At this point, there is nobody-- absolutely nobody-- who can match the Center for American Progress in senseless devotion to the Common Core State [sic] Standards. CAP, the left-tilted thinky tank founded by Hillary Clinton's campaign chief John Podesta, has remained absolutely unflinching in their support of the standards, no matter how little sense they are making. For instance, yesterday we get
Post #2000
This is the 2,000th post on this blog, which coincidentally goes up just two days after the three year birthday of this blog. I'm not a big fan of blogging about blogging, but it's good now and then to reflect on what you're doing. 2,000 posts are a big pile of posts, even if some of them are brief and/or not so special. Sometime today I'll also pass the 3,400,000 hits mark. It's humbling to imagi
AEI: Comparing Public and Charter Schools
The folks at the American Enterprise Institute have released a study comparing charter schools to public schools. " Difference on Balance: National Comparisons of Charter and Traditional Public Schools " announces in its title that AEI continues to support the modern charter school industry (charter schools are not public schools in any meaningful way except their willingness to accept p

AUG 17

The Ledger: Lab Rat America
Oh my God. Oh my effing God. If you want to see where Competency Based Education, data mining, the cradle to career pipeline, the gig economy, and the transformation into a master and servant class society all intersect-- boy, have I got a video for you. Spoiler alert: this is also one way that public education dies. I'm going to walk you through the video, embed it for your own viewing, and tell

AUG 16

Zephyr Teachout Is A Badass
Zephyr Teachout is a badass. You may remember her from the last New York gubernatorial primary, when she humiliated Andrew Cuomo and stomped on his Presidential dreams by making him fight for his life in a primary race that was supposed to be a walk. The Vermont-born law professor is energetic, positive, and a strong voice for public education-- among other things. She's an old-school Democrat, by

AUG 15

Resolve To See
For the next couple of weeks, as the beginning of my school year approaches. I'm going to write to renew my resolve to keep focus in my practice. This is one of that series of posts. I'm not sure that anybody has it harder in school than the invisible kids. Bullied students are a subset of the invisible students. Bullied students are seen-but-not-really. They are seen for the one characteristic f

AUG 14

Resolve To Listen
For the next couple of weeks, as the beginning of my school year approaches. I'm going to write to renew my resolve to keep focus in my practice. This is one of that series of posts. It is easy to stop listening. Oh, it's easy to act like you're listening, to look like you're listening. People take management classes on how to fake listening (not that it's described in those terms), to pretend to
Born To Teach
The romantic notion has always been there, and plenty of teachers feed into it-- some people are just born teachers. But the belief in born teachers has two seriously destructive side effects, one of which is becoming obvious and the other, perhaps less so. Training If teachers are born and not made, then teacher certification programs are a waste of time. A smart person with an ivy league degree
ICYMI for August 14
Yeah, I don't have a clever way to tie all this together. These are just some worthwhile reads. Student Test Scores: How the Sausage Is Made and Why You Should Care How can I not feature a Brookings article when they finally manage to post something that's not complete baloney? This is a little technical, but 

Key Ohio Officials Doing Business With The ECOT Family Of Businesses

Key Ohio Officials Doing Business With The ECOT Family Of Businesses:

Key Ohio Officials Doing Business With The ECOT Family Of Businesses

Ohio’s largest for-profit charter school, ECOT, is embroiled in a contentious lawsuit with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the rhetoric has been ramping up all summer long, with ECOT now running regular commercials claiming that ODE is trying to shut down the school.  We recently shared that the media company employed by ECOT (via the school’s management company). Third Wave Communications, is run by Jessica Lager Harris, the daughter of Altair and IQ Innovations owner, and ECOT founder, Bill Lager.
For the past decade plus, Bill Lager has been a major donor to campaigns of many of Ohio’s public officials, including key individuals who are in positions to enact stronger accountability rules for charters, including ECOT, but have continued to instead put off such changes, instead taking positions that favor the e-school.
It turns out that the money is flowing both ways…
Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger was the keynote speaker at the ECOT Graduation ceremony this school year, following a long list of Republican officials who graced that stage:
John Kasich spoke at the 2011 ECOT graduation.  Republican Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell spoke in 2013. In 2014, House Speaker Bill Batchelder spoke at the ECOT graduation ceremony and a year later, after retiring from the Ohio House, joined the lobbying firm representing ECOT. Last year [2015]  Ohio Auditor David Yost spoke at the graduation.
Conveniently, the Ohio House Republican Caucus (OHROC) has turned around and hired Third Wave Communications to produce a variety of commercials for them, starting with a personal introduction for Rosenberger:
When the Ohio House Republican Caucus wanted to produce a commercial Key Ohio Officials Doing Business With The ECOT Family Of Businesses:

Randi Weingarten: Trump’s Dystopian Vision for Schools — Medium

Trump’s Dystopian Vision for Schools — Medium:

Trump’s Dystopian Vision for Schools

I frankly was shocked that Donald Trump finally mentioned children and schooling in a speech Tuesday night; these days, educators are used to dealing with the toxic climate he has created with his bullying and bigotry. So I stopped what I was doing and listened to his speech.
Imagine my surprise that Trump recognized — or someone noted it for him — that too many kids don’t get a fair shot to pursue their dreams, especially in poor urban and rural communities.
Unfortunately, the things he proposed would just make the situation worse.
Trump is dead wrong on the root causes of some kids’ failure to succeed. And rather than propose even one proven strategy that would help kids, he dusted off the status quo Republican playbook of worn-out establishment ideas that simply would destabilize neighborhoods and schools and make it harder and harder to attract, retain and support great teachers.
We have a shared responsibility to ensure all children can receive a high-quality public education, regardless of their ZIP code or background. But nearly two decades of the market-based solutions Trump peddles have overpromised and underdelivered, and in places like Detroit they’ve left kids even worse off.
Trump calls for “school choice” — marketer code for private charters, vouchers and selling off our schools to private firms. While there are some exceptional charters, charters on average perform about the same as traditional public schools, and the sector is rife with fraud and corruption, often discriminatesagainst high-needs students, and has undermined public districts in cities likePhiladelphiaDetroit and Chicago.
That’s part of why social justice groups like the NAACP and Black Lives Matterare speaking out against charter school proliferation and the privatization of our public schools, going so far as to propose a moratorium on charters in a recent NAACP resolution.
And Trump’s other big “choice” idea — vouchers? Voucher programs simply don’t work. They’ve been ruled unconstitutional in multiple states, includingColorado and Florida. Students who attend schools using vouchers often do worse than those who stayed in their neighborhood public schools.
Real school choice is a public system with options that give kids multiple pathways to pursue their passions and learn critical skills like creativity, problem solving and teamwork. We need thriving traditional public schools that anchor neighborhoods, powerful instruction that engages kids, and supports that address students’ and families’ well-being. That can includemagnet schools with specialized programscommunity schools that support children and families in hard-hit areas; charters that are part of — not in place of — a public district; and robust career and technical, IB, early college and other programs to prepare kids for college, trades and careers. This starts with an investment in what works, not cutting educational spending as Trump Trump’s Dystopian Vision for Schools — Medium:

Union Busting board ousts member who was accused of breach of loyalty on union comment | The Lens

Lusher board ousts member who was accused of violating policy on union | The Lens:

Lusher board ousts member who was accused of violating policy on union

The divisions created at Lusher Charter School during a spring union drive re-emerged Saturday when the board re-elected all but one member.
All nine board members were present Saturday. Secretary Rachel Wisdom made a motion to re-elect eight — excluding Chunlin Leonhard.
It was a break from the agenda, which called for the “reelection of current board members.” Generally, Lusher elects all of its board members in one vote.
Leonhard asked Wisdom to explain why she was left out.
“Despite our passing a neutrality resolution you went to the press and advocated acceptance of a union here,” Wisdom said.
Wisdom was referencing the board’s resolution to remain neutral on the union drive, passed in April, and a May 10 letter she wrote to Uptown Messenger.
Leonhard said her letter did not endorse a union.
“To argue that was breach of loyalty to the board and to Lusher, I strongly disagree,” Leonhard said.
Member Alysia Loshbaugh stood with Wisdom: “To me that was a violation of the neutrality agreement.”
“I respectfully disagree,” Leonhard said. “Because the neutrality resolution does not mean I give up my right to free speech.”
Leonhard said Wisdom called her prior to Saturday’s meeting and asked her not to seek re-election. Wisdom further outlined her reasons for leaving Leonhard off the slate in front of about 30 members of the public, some parents, others Lusher staff.
“I did not speak to the press other than to tell them it was not a letter that reflected the position of the board,” Wisdom said. “And you indeed violated our neutrality resolution by doing that.”
Loshbaugh bolstered her side with a pop culture reference to the neutrality agreement.
“The first rule about fight club is you don’t talk about fight club,” she said.
After further discussion, Loshbaugh said she’d prefer to move on to public comment as nothing would change her mind.
Board President Blaine LeCesne offered an amendment to add Leonhard to the slate.
“I really had hoped the entire board would be re-elected,” LeCesne said. “She has been a zealous advocate for Lusher throughout her tenure here.”
Wisdom did not accept the amendment.
The board then took public comment.
Parent Jana Lipman said she thought the board as a whole violated the neutrality resolution by arguing to include a jurisdictional challenge against the union when it filed for recognition by the National Labor Relations Board.
“That is not a neutral position,” she said.
Touching on a larger topic, she questioned the method by which all charter boards are chosen.
“I’m concerned about the idea that the board chooses the board and that the board elects the board,” Lipman said.
Union organizer and Lusher teacher Jerome White said he’s seen some of his union-supporting colleagues lose their jobs at Lusher. To have Leonhard ousted brought back similar feelings, he said.
“What the intent is I don’t know, but it’s sending a loud and clear message,” White said.
Another man thought the action was just: “I think as a board this is something that is perfectly appropriate for you to do.”
Leonhard questioned why she was being singled out.
“That neutrality policy was not enforced,” she said, citing the jurisdictional challenge and a letter from the administration to teachers regarding the union.
Wisdom fired back.
“They had permission to do what they did,” she said.
The discussion continued and member Kiki Huston said it illustrated a board division.
“I think this is a perfect example of how damaged the relationship is,” she said. “But I feel like the trust moving forward has been damaged.”
Member Reuben Teague said he thought everyone should have the benefit of the doubt.
“I think those disagreements were good faith disagreements, not bad ones,” he said.
Parent Sue Kohn said Leonhard shouldn’t be singled out for violating the policy
“To me it was violated by almost everyone on this board,” she said.
Board member Paul Barron said he would make a motion to re-elect Leonhard so the board could move on and vote on the motion at hand.
The motion to re-elect eight members passed 8-1. LeCesne voted against it due to Leonhard’s exclusion.
Barron then moved that Leonhard be re-elected.
Lusher teacher Julie Sanders said she thought Leonhard was wrongly targeted. “I think your problem, Ms.Wisdom, is with a policy not with a person.”
Another teacher chimed in with a sincere speech.
“I just want all the people at this table…whether they’re staff or parents or the press to just have at the forefront of whatever they’re doing or thinking to be in the best interest of this school,” she said. She described the last few months as a trauma, and said it was hard for her to come to work now.
“Stop all the focus on finger pointing please,” she said. “I can’t stand all the accusations.”
Another audience member offered a final comment, “I hope that we keep our entire family together.”
Members called for a vote.
Members LeCesne, Leonhard and Teague voted in favor of re-electing Leonhard.
Loshbaugh, Huston, Ann Salzer, Richard Cortizas, Barron and Wisdom voted against.
The vote to re-elect Leonhard failed 3-6.
The board then elected Wisdom as its new president, Cortizas as vice president, Loshbaugh will continue to serve as treasurer and Salzer will serve as secretary.Lusher board ousts member who was accused of violating policy on union | The Lens: