Latest News and Comment from Education

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Save Public Education By Raising Teacher Salaries To $60k Federal Minimum

Save Public Education By Raising Teacher Salaries To $60k Federal Minimum

Save Public Education By Raising Teacher Salaries To $60k Federal Minimum

Demonstrators hold a sign reading "Our Students Deserve Better" during a rally inside the Oklahoma State Capitol building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Photographer: Scott Heins/Bloomberg
Betsy DeVos and her for-profit “education reformer” friends would like to slash public school teacher salaries, increase class sizes, and sell more standardized testing programs to schools. They operate with the belief that teachers are the problem and that technology should replace living, breathing, loving humans in our public schools.
This approach is reckless because teachers have, by far, the single greatest measured impact on student success of any school factor. Sadly, despite this, 40 U.S. states and the District of Columbia are experiencing severe teacher shortages.
This is not a fluke. Since the No Child Left Behind era began almost 20 years ago, teacher pay has dropped an average of $30 per week when adjusted for inflation. In that period of time, pay for other college graduates has risen by $124 per week as the cost of living in the American middle class has risen by 30%. To make matters worse standardized testing, teacher evaluations, and scripted curriculum have decimated teacher creativity and autonomy. Needless to say, teacher satisfaction has plummeted and professional teachers have had to take night and summer jobs just to survive.

American public school teachers make a median annual salary of just over $55,000. Meanwhile, doctors make a median salary of just under $200,000What a demotivating embarrassment for master’s level professionals who work long hours day-in and day-out to level the very unlevel playing field here in America.
I have heard educational and political leaders argue that there is no panacea for the poor international outcomes and chronic inequity rampant in America’s public school system. As a master’s educated professional who made just over $38,000 in my first year as a classroom teacher, I couldn’t disagree more. If we want to attract and retain top talent in the teaching profession so that we can build a world-class K12 public education system, we have no choice but to Continue reading: Save Public Education By Raising Teacher Salaries To $60k Federal Minimum



In July of 2018, the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans released a comprehensive, summative longitudinal report on the effects on student outcomes of the package of reforms implemented in New Orleans following hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005. The following policy brief reviews the findings of this recent report by Douglas Harris and Matthew Larsen, offers critique of their methods and interpretation of findings and attempts to provide broader policy context for those findings.
In summary, Harris and Larsen find significant positive effects of Post-Katrina New Orleans school reforms on short-term student achievement measures, and longer term college attendance, persistence and completion. They attribute these results to the “market-based” reforms adopted following Katrina, and go to great lengths to dismiss or downplay threats to the validity of this conclusion. But for many reasons, that attribution may be misguided.
  1. First, the authors downplay the potential influence of significant changes in the concentration of poverty across neighborhoods and schools—specifically the reductions in extreme poverty which may contribute significantly to the improved student outcomes in the years following Katrina;
  2. Second, the authors understate the importance of the substantial increases to funding which occurred concurrently with organizational and governance changes in the district, specifically disclaiming the importance of increased funding by suggesting that the funding increases would not have existed but for the reforms;
  3. Third, the authors argue, without evidence, that similar funding increases provided to the old, New Orleans school system would not likely have had similar impact, claiming they would have been inefficient or wasteful. At the same time the authors sidestep the fact that much of the funding increase in the new system was allocated toward increased and duplicative overhead expenses, as well as increased transportation costs resulting from citywide choice;
  4. Fourth, the authors define the treatment as the package of market-based reforms, which are largely changes to the governance and organization of New Orleans schools, rather than focusing on the types of schools, programs and services, and qualifications of incoming staff who entered this
Adopting similar governance and organizational changes, and citywide choice in other contexts may lead to very different results. It remains unclear whether population change and redistribution, coupled with the infusion of resources could have resulted in similar effects, even without structural reforms.

Duncan and DeVos Are Both Wrong, We Need Old-School Reform Education Law Prof Blog

Education Law Prof Blog
Duncan and DeVos Are Both Wrong, We Need Old-School Reform

Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spent the last few months trying to rehabilitate his work and distinguish it from DeVos. This spring he implored us to ignore current claims that education reforms of the past have failed.  On his book tour, he has been arguing that “education lies” often drive education policy. Yet, Duncan was an extremely disappointing Secretary Education who too often fell victim to the education lies himself: money does not matter, ineffective teachers are ruining public schools, charter schools will outperform public schools, and federal leadership on rigorous standards will save us all.
To his credit, Duncan believes in public education and gets a lot right in his current critiques.  He is a strong advocate of prekindergarten education and poignantly says that presidential elections show that Americans love their guns more than the love children.  Yet, Duncan refuses to be candid about his own mistakes. So he feeds the idea that the current problem in education, like every other public policy problem, is the Trump Administration. Our education reform problems, unfortunately, are more endemic than the current administration.  They need better solutions than rose-colored glasses.
The “education reforms” that Duncan says worked—desegregation and more equalized school funding—preceded his tenure as Secretary.  He did nothing to further those reforms.  Instead, he routinely pushed through reforms that didn’t work.  An honest appraisal of the past decade reveals that Duncan caused more harm than good. 
Secretary Duncan created the Race to the Top grant program and offered states money in exchange for major policy changes. In the aftermath of the recession, he could demand almost anything he wanted. He got states to do three things: adopt new teacher evaluation systems that they could use to hire, fire, and promote teachers largely based on statistics; expand charter schools; and adopt college and career ready standard, aka Common Core. Two Continue reading: Education Law Prof Blog

The real story of New Orleans and its charter schools - The Washington Post

The real story of New Orleans and its charter schools - The Washington Post

The real story of New Orleans and its charter schools

School choice proponents love to talk about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005 and the public school system was decimated. A collection of charter schools opened to replace the troubled traditional school district that had previously existed, and since then the city is often pointed to as a success for school choice and state takeovers of local schools.
Why is this effort called a success?
Standardized test scores are up from before the hurricane. But is the increase really impressive? The 2018 results for the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program exams found that only 26 percent in the Orleans Parish-Recovery School District had achieved “mastery” or above, less than the 34 percent state average.
(It is worth nothing that I don't think test scores should be viewed as significant measures of accomplishment, but school choice proponents do, so that is why they are being cited.)
So what is really going on in the schools of New Orleans? Are whatever improvements are being made happening for the reasons that charter school supporters say? Is it the “charterness” of the schools themselves or other factors that speak to traditional public schools as well?
That's what is discussed in this post by Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is executive director of the Network for Public Education, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Burris was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the National Association of Secondary School Principals named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year. Burris has been chronicling problems with modern school reform and school choice for years on this blog. She has previously written about problems with charter schools in California and a number of other states.

By Carol Burris
New Orleans, post-Katrina, is undoubtedly the most cited example of the success of state takeovers, charters and choice.
Former education secretary Arne Duncan once said that Hurricane Katrina was the “best thing” that ever happened to education in the city (though he later apologized). The New York Times’s opinion columnist David Leonhardt recently praised the city in his series on New Orleans school reform. And the City Fund, led by Neerav Kingsland, the former chief executive of New Schools for New Orleans, uses New Orleans as a tool to pry open the coffers of philanthropy for its portfolio approach of school governance — one that would Continue reading: The real story of New Orleans and its charter schools - The Washington Post

LOIS WEINER: A Lesson Plan for Organized Labor

A Lesson Plan for Organized Labor

A Lesson Plan for Organized Labor
This Labor Day, with public opinion firmly in favor of unions and teachers racking up victories across the country, the news for the labor movement is actually hopeful.
Image result for A Lesson Plan for Organized Labor
A Chicago teacher takes a break from picketing during the union's 2012 strike. yooperann / Flickr

Despite many setbacks, this Labor Day, the news for the labor movement is hopeful. Public support for unions has been increasing with the realization that they improve working and living conditions for both unionized and non-union workers.
Sustaining this reversal requires that we fight for good unions — democratic unions that make demands for the whole working class central to their agenda, integrate struggles against social oppression, and are willing to take direct action like strikes.
This is what the past year’s #RedforEd teacher walkouts has taught labor. It’s also why we should, yet again, thank a teacher this Labor Day.
Workers are suffering from capital’s successful attacks on the political and economic gains that labor and its allies have won in a century of struggle and sacrifice. Labor is still reeling from its diminished influence in politics, and young workers especially are suffering from capitalism’s offensive. As the New York Times “workologist” advised readers, employees who are dissatisfied with their working conditions have almost no legal protections.
They may think suing an employer will bring relief, but the only legal protections workers have are in cases of discrimination. The exception, ignored by the “workologist,” is if you have a union contract and are willing to enforce it.
Labor desperately needs vision and courage. And this is the context in which teachers have demonstrated a new grammar for unions to build political support as well as win economic gains.
The state-wide walkouts in West VirginiaKentuckyOklahoma, and Arizona and a one-day protest in North Carolina occurred because working teachers dared to challenge conditions their unions had accepted as inevitable. While some teacher activists were officers of their local unions in state affiliates of the National Education Association (NEA) or the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), neither union represented more than a handful of school employees.

The vast majority of teachers who walked out were “ordinary” teachers and school workers. They weren’t union members. Moreover, this was a movement started and sustained by workers, independent of and often in defiance of the union apparatus.
The “red state” walkouts follow in the steps of teacher activists in US cities who have been transforming their unions through reform caucuses, inspired by the bold strike of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) in 2012. #RedforEd and the burgeoning movement of reform caucuses in both NEA and AFT show how we might create workers’ organizations that are democratic, defend labor’s political purposes, and build collective action at the workplace.
Unions can’t bring democracy to the workplace if they are autocratic and hierarchical, or if they continue to cast the union as a business that provides services to members, who in turn, pay dues and do little more. The term “free riders,” workers who are represented by a union but don’t join and pay dues, which the Right intends the new Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME to produce, in droves, is symptomatic of this destructive mindset. It casts workers’ alienation from their unions as an individual moral failing, as occurs when dining out with friends but then refusing to pick up your share of the bill.

Organized labor has not yet figured out how to mount a counter-offensive against what was identified forty years ago as a one-sided class war against us. Yes, we need laws that defend workplace rights. How will we win this legislation when we can’t even win the right to strike and don’t demand it from Continue reading: A Lesson Plan for Organized Labor