Latest News and Comment from Education

Monday, May 15, 2017

Elite or Selective?: Reconsidering Who We Educate and How | radical eyes for equity

Elite or Selective?: Reconsidering Who We Educate and How | radical eyes for equity:

Elite or Selective?: Reconsidering Who We Educate and How

Image result for eeny meeny miny moe animated gif

Sharde Miller’s California teen describes his road from Compton to Harvard University offers a powerful subtext about the American Dream as well as the enduring belief in education as the “great equalizer,” embodied by Elijah Devaughn Jr.:
Devaughn grew up in a single-parent household in Compton, California, a city that has been plagued by gun violence and gang activity for decades….
“Getting accepted into a prestigious university like Harvard, I think it means the world,” Devaughn said. “It means God is able. It means that hard work pays off. It means that, you know, struggles end.”
What if we unpack the label of “prestigious” by making an important caveat: Is Harvard University elite or selective?
As a point of reference, over the past three decades of high-stakes accountability in public education, schools have been annually labeled as excelling and failing; however, once we look beneath the A-F rankings, a strong and consistent correlation persists between schools identified as excelling or failing and the socio-economic status of the students [1] (as well as the racial and language demographics).
Consider also that for every year of the SAT being administered, average scores have fallen perfectly in correlation with parental income and parental years of education [2].
My university has begun gathering data to analyze our impact on students. The university is selective, having high standards for the academic backgrounds and achievements of students.
Some initial data are telling. When students with high preparation are compared to students with low preparation, extrapolating over four years of college, high preparation students are more successful and the gap with low preparation students widens during years 2 and 3 and then never closes by year 4 (year 1 and year 4 gaps are about the same).
If we persist in suggesting that education is the great equalizer (despite ample evidence education does not, in fact, equalize) and a foundational mechanism of the American Dream, we must reconsider how and why we identify any schools as “prestigious.”

Don't Grade Teachers With a Bad Algorithm - Bloomberg

Don't Grade Teachers With a Bad Algorithm - Bloomberg:

Don't Grade Teachers With a Bad Algorithm

The Value-Added Model has done more to confuse and oppress than to motivate.

Image result for big education ape vam

For more than a decade, a glitchy and unaccountable algorithm has been making life difficult for America's teachers. The good news is that its reign of terror might finally be drawing to a close.
I first became acquainted with the Value-Added Model in 2011, when a friend of mine, a high school principal in Brooklyn, told me that a complex mathematical system was being used to assess her teachers -- and to help decide such important matters as tenure. I offered to explain the formula to her if she could get it. She said she had tried, but had been told “it’s math, you wouldn’t understand it.”
This was the first sign that something very weird was going on, and that somebody was avoiding scrutiny by invoking the authority and trustworthiness of mathematics. Not cool. The results have actually been terrible, and may be partly to blame for a national teacher shortage.
The VAM -- actually a family of algorithms -- purports to determine how much “value” an individual teacher adds to a classroom. It goes by standardized test scores, and holds teachers accountable for what’s called student growth, which comes down to the difference between how well students performed on a test and how well a predictive model “expected” them to do.
Derived in the 1980s from agricultural crop models, VAM got a big boost from the education reform movements of presidents Bush and Obama. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act called for federal standards, and Obama’s Race To The Top Act offered states some $350 billion in federal funds in exchange for instituting formal teacher assessments. Many states went for VAM, sometimes with bonuses and firings attached to the results.
Fundamental problems immediately arose. Inconsistency was the most notable, statistically speaking: The same person teaching the same course in the same way to similar students could get wildly different scores from year to year. Teachers sometimes received scores for classes they hadn’t taught, or lost their jobs due to mistakes in code. Some cheated to raise their students' test scores, creating false baselines that could leadto the firing of subsequent teachers (assuming they didn’t cheat, too).
Perhaps most galling was the sheer lack of accountability. The code was proprietary, which meant administrators didn't really understand the scores and appealing the model's conclusions was next to impossible. Although economists studied such things as the effects of high-scoring teachers on students' longer-term income, nobody paid Don't Grade Teachers With a Bad Algorithm - Bloomberg:
 Big Education Ape: Rest In Peace EVAAS Developer William L. Sanders | VAMboozled!

The Standardized Test Monopoly That Secretly Runs America’s High Schools | GOOD Education

The Standardized Test Monopoly That Secretly Runs America’s High Schools | GOOD Education:

The Standardized Test Monopoly That Secretly Runs America’s High Schools

“Anyone who works in education knows there are no silver bullets. There is no holy water here”

Image result for big education ape college board
Image result for big education ape college board

IN APRIL, MY 10TH-GRADE SON DID SOMETHING I NEVER MANAGED TO DO IN ANY CLASS EVER: He finished his entire world history textbook. All 1,258 pages of it. Some parents might breathe a sigh of relief over this accomplishment (as in, whew, my kid is not a slacker), but I was skeptical.
Did you actually learn anything?” I asked him. “Yeah, kinda,” he shrugged, though he admitted that he whipped through some chapters in two or three days. Say what? “Well, we had to finish so we can get ready for the test,” he said.
Ah, yes, the test. By that, he means the Advanced Placement World History Exam, taken by high school students across the United States last Thursday. During the first two weeks of May, the College Board, the nonprofit organization that owns the SAT and the advanced placement program, administered AP exams in world history and 37 other subjects. About 2.7 million high schoolers across the nation took a total of 4.9 million AP exams, which the College Board called “the culmination of their hard work in AP courses throughout the school year.”
 High school students like my son crank through chapters, study for hours each night, and take weekly tests because an AP class is supposed to be the equivalent of a college-level course. These teens hope to score high enough on the AP exam to earn college credit or to be placed in a more advanced course, which, given the ever-rising costs of college, seems like a smart move. And colleges, especially top ones, tell students that to be a competitive candidate for admissions, they should take the toughest classes possible, which generally means taking AP.

Last year, Nat Malkus, a researcher from the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning, Washington, D.C.-based think tank, wrote that “AP might be the single happiest education story of the century,” in part because it has “substantially increased access to advanced coursework for all public school students, and the College Board has made that access possible by taking concrete steps to maintain program quality and increase access to underserved students.”
It’s possible the AP exam really does prepare students for higher education, while saving them money in the process. But it’s also likely, as some critics say, that the tests don’t do much other than stress teens out, contribute to the college admissions arms race, and earn the College Board plenty of cash.
We are agnostic about AP,” says Bob Schaeffer, the public education director of FairTest, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing. “To the extent that they serve as a gateway rather than a gatekeeper to access higher education, that’s fine.” But he adds that “the Pollyanna picture that the College Board paints to sell its product leaves out some important facts. Many colleges are questioning the value The Standardized Test Monopoly That Secretly Runs America’s High Schools | GOOD Education:
Image result for big education ape college board

US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists - World Socialist Web Site

US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists - World Socialist Web Site:

US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists

Image result for big education ape devos
Image result for big education ape  vulture capitalists

On May 9, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered the keynote address for the annual Arizona State University + Global Silicon Valley (ASU+GSV) Summit in Salt Lake City. The event took place the day before the billionaire heiress was roundly booed by the graduating class at Bethune-Cookman University.

Addressing a standing-room only audience of venture capitalists and school privatizers, DeVos dismissed the American education system as “an outdated Prussian education model.” She emphasized her desire to end government’s role in education and called for scrapping the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Apparently, the US secretary views with contempt the pioneering of free, tax-funded and public education established in the north German state in the early 1800s. The “Prussian model,” which was deeply influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, was to become the international model for modern mass education. Minister of Education Wilhelm von Humboldt, appointed in 1809, is largely credited for this vision of education based on inculcating literacy, broad general knowledge, cosmopolitan-mindedness and academic freedom.
The system was already groundbreaking by the 1830s, featuring professional teacher training, a national curriculum, an extended school year to accommodate rural children, a basic salary for teachers, funding for school buildings and even free and mandatory kindergarten. “The Prussian approach was used for example in the Michigan Constitution of 1835, which fully embraced the Prussian system by introducing a range of primary schools, secondary schools, and the University of Michigan itself, all administered by the state and supported with tax-based funding,” according to Wikipedia.
In 1843 Horace Mann, considered the “father of the common school movement” in the US, visited Germany to study and replicate the “Prussian model.” France and Great Britain enacted compulsory schooling in the 1880s.
It is interesting to note that the “Prussian model” contrasted with a type of Calvinistic utilitarianism promoted by English and Swiss education reformers. DeVos has traced her ideological influences to Andrew Kuyper, a neo-Calvinist opponent of secular education.
DeVos is fully conscious of the scale of the social counterrevolution she wants to impose on American education. Schooling should be largely returned to the churches, according to this arch-reactionary, along with for-profit education companies.
DeVos went on to tell the friendly crowd of edu-business investors and speculators that she was for “get[ing] the federal government out of the way so you can do your job…. It’s time for us to break out of the confines of the federal government’s arcane approach to education,” she emphasized, according to the website EdSurge.
She made her usual “school choice” arguments couched in populist bromides, as in, “Those who are closest to the problem are those best equipped to solve it.” She restated her hostility to universal public education: “Our education-delivery method should be as diverse as the kids they serve, instead of our habit of forcing them into a one-size-fits-all model.” The assembled entrepreneurs were all aware these were code words for opening up the education “market” for profiteering, in addition to slotting poorer children into low-skill utilitarian jobs.
She promised to “cut the red tape” for education businesses and described the education technology industry as a “thousand flowers, and we haven’t planted the whole garden yet.”
The gathering consisted primarily of representatives from GSV Corporation, a NASDAQ-listed bank with substantial venture capital investments in education technology including JAMF Software, coursera, Chegg, and Course Hero.

At the conclusion of her address, DeVos was asked about the pending reauthorization of the 1965 Higher Education Act, originally signed by Lyndon Johnson as part of his Great Society programs. “Why would we re-authorize US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists - World Socialist Web Site:
Image result for big education ape birds of a feather

Voucher proposals expose rift in school choice movement

Voucher proposals expose rift in school choice movement:

Voucher proposals expose rift in school choice movement

Image result for big education ape who can best destroy public education

For two decades, a loose-knit group that includes some of the country’s wealthiest people has underwritten the political push for school choice, promoting ballot initiatives and candidates who favor competition for traditional public schools.
But when a member of this elite group was elevated to education secretary, the appointment opened a philosophical schism that now threatens to shatter the alliance, turn billionaires against each other and possibly lead some school-choice advocates to join with teachers’ unions, their archenemies.
Fueling the split is the anticipation of a plan from President Donald Trump’s administration that could offer parents federal dollars to send their children to private schools, including religious and for-profit institutions.
“As much as we are aligned on change, we aren’t always aligned on how much change or how. Sometimes we fight,” said Derrell Bradford, executive vice president of the school-reform group 50CAN.
The movement has been cleaved into two camps: those who want to use choice to improve public schools and others, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who want to go further by allowing tax money to flow to private schools through vouchers, government-funded scholarships or corporate tax credits.
The differences that once seemed minor are at the heart of a potential seismic shift in the school-choice movement.
School-choice programs were first proposed in the 1950s by Nobel Prize-winning free-market economist Milton Friedman. Since the beginning of this century, they have grown quickly, although the overwhelming majority of students still attend traditional public schools.
Thirty states plus Washington, D.C., have some combination of vouchers, government-subsidized education savings accounts or tax credits that help families afford private-school tuition or encourage private groups to fund scholarships, according to EdChoice, an advocacy group founded by Friedman and his wife.
Still, less than 1 percent of children in kindergarten through high school used vouchers to attend private schools in 2015. Just 5 percent of students were in charter schools that year, when charters were operating in more than 40 states. That’s up from about 3 percent in 2008, according to the Department of Education.
Charter schools are public but in several states are not held to the same accountability standards as traditional schools, which in theory gives them more freedom to innovate.
When standardized test scores of children who switched to charter schools or used vouchers are compared with those of students who remained in traditional public schools, some results have been promising. Other studies have shown little effect or even worse outcomes.
Wal-Mart’s Walton family, Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad and the father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates have been some of the largest political contributors to the school-reform movement, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of campaign-finance records compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics and state campaign-finance regulators.
Microsoft’s Bill Gates avoids political contributions. His family’s massive foundation — which his father, Bill Gates Sr., co-chairs — is a major contributor to education-reform nonprofits. The elder Gates contributes personally as well.
In the past, contributions have flowed to reform-minded groups regardless of whether they supported public charter schools, vouchers for private schools or a combination. Now those funders are beginning to split into competing camps.
Groups such as Stand for Children, which pushes for charter schools among other educational changes, are being more vocal now because “the level of ambition of the efforts to expand vouchers is so high,” said Jonah Edelman, Voucher proposals expose rift in school choice movement:

 Image result for big education ape billionaires

Steve Zimmer: The Case Against Myself - LA Progressive

Steve Zimmer: The Case Against Myself - LA Progressive:

Steve Zimmer: The Case Against Myself

Steve Zimmer Corrects Record

Iwant to present four legitimate arguments against me. These are good and fair reasons to vote against me on May 16th.

I know this is unusual, but because my opponent has lied so much about my record, I thought I would just go ahead and do this myself.

I know this is unusual, but because my opponent has lied so much about my record, I thought I would just go ahead and do this myself. I hope you will share this with your friends and family and explain to them that everything they are reading about me is a lie whether it on the television, on the radio, or wrapped around their Sunday newspaper. Give them the real reasons to vote against me. Here they are:
  • I believe independent charter schools need to be regulated to ensure that they serve every student that comes to their school house door. I believe independent, privately operated charter schools must be accountable for all public funds they receive. I believe charter schools should operate in the district that authorizes them. If you believe independent charter schools should be completely de-regulated, you should vote against me.
  • I have moved resources to meet the needs of district students living in the highest concentrations of poverty, including thousands in my own district. In real and understandable ways, this has been difficult for certain schools in my district. But I believe it is the only moral way to do this job when 83% of students in the LAUSD live below the poverty line. Some voters may be concerned about these decisions and choose to support my opponent who has only focused his campaign in the more affluent areas of the district.
  • I have been endorsed by the teachers and school employees of our district. I work with our teachers and I work with their union. I vote against their recommendations when I think they are wrong. But it is priority for me to build trust with our the people who deliver education to our students to be an allies in our struggle for equity as we make significant improvement in LAUSD schools. If you don’t believe I should engage our teachers and their unions then I understand why you vote against me.
  • I oppose the ranking of teachers, students, and schools. I oppose high stakes standardized testing. I believe that the things that are the most beautiful and wondrous about children can never be measured by standardized test. If you believe we should be constantly testing and ranking students, teachers and schools then I understand why you wouldn’t support me.
This is what I have done. I understand some people can’t vote for someone who has done these things.
But Nick Melvoin hasn’t used any of these. Instead he has lied and he distorted. Here are some of the lies he tells about me. I can’t stop someone from lying, but I can certainly tell you that this is not how you should win an election. Here are some of the lies:
The iPads were my programThe iPad program was started by Melvoin supporter John Deasy. I voted to end the program once we knew Deasy had lied to the board and lied to the public.
I created a $1.4 billion deficitI have balanced our budget every year. With the Governor’s announcement , we will have our budget balanced for 10 years straight.
I lowered graduation standardsI raised the rigor for all students by ensuring for all students to be enrolled in college prep courses. While we increased rigor, we have raised grad rates to record levels, from 56% to over 75%
I laid off teachers I anchored the difficult negotiations that allowed us to save our schools and save thousands of jobs
I laid off teachersI anchored the difficult negotiations that allowed us to save our schools and save thousands of jobs
I cut arts educationI stopped the cuts to arts education and have added over $18 million to the arts budget each year.
I respect the democratic process and I value debate about the important issues facing our public schools. But that’s not what’s happened in this election. I am not perfect and I try to be a better Board Member every day. If Nick and the California Charter Schools Association waged an honest campaign I would not be writing this argument against myself. It terrifies me that such an important election could be determined solely on lies and distortions. It should scare us all.
There is much more than even the control of our public schools that is on the line this Tuesday.
Our democratic values and the value of truth itself seem to have worked their way into this moment. I am proud to stand for honesty and service. I hope we can set a better example for our kids.
Steve Zimmer

As good times roll, ed funds ruled by recession relief valve :: SI&A Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet

As good times roll, ed funds ruled by recession relief valve :: SI&A Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet:

As good times roll, ed funds ruled by recession relief valve

Image result for big education ape Jerry Brown
Image result for big education ape Jerry Brown

(Calif.) Despite a robust economy and a surging stock market, Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget plan would trim state payments to schools by invoking an arcane funding formula typically associated with recession and bad times.
Under the byzantine workings of the Proposition 98 funding guarantee, the state’s current revenue picture is such that money for schools this fiscal year is governed by the “Test 3” formula.
Test 3 was most recently used from 2006 through 2009 as California and much of the nation suffered through the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression and resulted in billions of dollars in cuts to schools.
The formula, which generally allows the Legislature to decide how much money to give schools, would seem an unlikely regulator given that unemployment is at its lowest point in a decade, that the housing industry is booming in many regions and the S&P stock index continues to press past record highs.
But, administration officials said Friday, Test 3 is operative for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
“There’s no question about it,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the governor’s Department of Finance. “The state is doing well, it’s just not doing as well as the economy.”
Proposition 98, approved by voters in 1988, imposed on the Legislature a requirement that K-12 schools and community colleges receive a minimum share of state revenues. Originally, there were just two formulas: Test 1, which calls for about 40 percent of state tax collections to go to schools; and Test 2, where funding is based on prior year funding adjusted for student attendance and per capita spending.
Test 3 was added to give lawmakers the ability to fund schools at a lower level during poor economic times, with the condition that those lost dollars are paid back once the economy has recovered.
Under state law, deciding which of the three tests are operative is a function of relatively simple math.
“The formula looks at year-over-year growth in revenues versus year-over-year growth in per-capita per-income,” Palmer said. “When year-over-year growth in per-capita per-income is higher than the year-over-year growth in revenues, that triggers the Test 3.”
Use of Test 3 during the recession was needed to make drastic reductions in school spending, but Brown’s May budget would take advantage of only part of the provision.
The concept of the Test 3 was to give lawmakers the ability to suspend the minimum funding guarantee so that schools didn’t take too big a share of the budget, leaving other programs and services to be scaled back dramatically. But to ensure that schools didn’t get cut back too much, a provision was added that mandated schools receive a supplemental payment intended to keep Proposition 98 spending at the same rate as the rest of the budget.
It is this supplemental payment, known as Test 3B, that Brown wants to eliminate for this fiscal year, in 2018-19 and on through 2020-21. These payment suspensions, however, would only be needed if the state’s economic conditions would also trigger Test 3 overall.
In the past the 3B payments have ranged from a low of $68 million in 1990-91 to $1.4 billion in 2001-02.
At issue for the governor are concerns that the state will end this fiscal year having over appropriated schools by close to $478 million.
“When we passed the budget last year and we funded Prop 98 for 2016-17 at what was at the time a minimum guarantee projected by the numbers we had at the time,” said Palmer. “In January, we updated our revenue forecast and low and behold, they’re a lot lower for the current fiscal year than we projected back in June.”
To resolve the problem, the governor proposed in January to cut school funding in the current fiscal year significantly and impose an $860 million payment deferral.
Palmer said the state’s revenues have improved in recent months, allowing the governor to eliminate As good times roll, ed funds ruled by recession relief valve :: SI&A Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet:
Image result for big education ape Jerry Brown

Image result for big education ape Jerry Brown

Barron Trump to attend private St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Maryland this fall - The Washington Post

Barron Trump to attend private St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Maryland this fall - The Washington Post:

Barron Trump to attend private St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Maryland this fall

save image

Barron Trump, the 11-year-old son of President Trump and first lady Melania Trump, will attend the private St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Md., this fall after he moves from New York to Washington with his mother.
Barron Trump is finishing out the current school year at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where he is believed to be in fifth grade. He is expected to move to Washington this summer. He will be the first presidential child to attend St. Andrew’s, a coeducational college preparatory school that was founded in 1978 and educates about 580 students from prekindergarten through 12th grade.
The White House had planned to hold off until summer to make the announcement — in part because of concern that St. Andrew’s might become the site of protests while school was still in session. But parents began to ask questions and express security concerns as rumors surfaced, and school leaders decided to tell their community on Monday in a letter.  In response to that decision, first lady Melania Trump said in a statement:
“We are very excited for our son to attend St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. It is known for its diverse community and commitment to academic excellence. The mission of St. Andrew’s is ‘to know and inspire each child in an inclusive community dedicated to exceptional teaching, learning, and service,’ all of which appealed to our family. We look forward to the coming school years at St. Andrew’s.”
St. Andrew’s officials did not immediately return calls about Barron Trump. Late Friday, the head of the school, Robert Kosasky, said in an email that theBarron Trump to attend private St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Maryland this fall - The Washington Post