Latest News and Comment from Education

Monday, October 1, 2018




If you pick up Arne Duncan’s How Schools Work hoping to learn something about, well, unsurprisingly I suppose, about “how schools work,” you’ll be sorely disappointed. There’s no policy prescription here, no substantive analysis whatsoever, and no actual accounts or examples of how schools work. Instead we’re treated to random stories that circulate around several stuttering themes: Duncan’s dismay and then anger when poor kids are told they’re doing OK by school people when in reality they don’t have the skills to go to college; his encounters with enraged parents that happily end when they chill out after he shows them that his heart is true and his intentions pure; and his insistent defense of “big data” and high stakes standardized tests when promoting his preferred school “reform” goals.

The subtitle isn’t especially helpful either: “An Inside Account of Failure and Success from One of the Nation’s Longest-Serving Secretaries of Education.” That might have proved useful, but the reader searches in vain for fresh  perspectives or insights, for some discovery or surprise, contradiction or conflict, for an inquiring  mind thinking out loud as it engages a conversation with itself—anything at all that might be generative. What’s on offer instead is untroubled categories and settled conclusions. Arne Duncan learns nothing at all—neither in his many years at the helm of Chicago’s and then the nation’s schools, nor in the process of writing this personal account. 

Failure and success? An inside account? A good memoir might fruitfully explore all of that, but it would have to be free from the brutality of dogma and self-righteousness, which Duncan can’t quite manage. He’s a dedicated corporate reformer, avidly endorsing the underlying thesis that education is a product to be sold at the market place rather than a fundamental human right and community responsibility, and embracing the entire triple threat: reducing the definition of school success (for other people’s children) to a single metric on a standardized test; marginalizing or crushing the collective voice of teachers; and auctioning off the public space to private managers and entrepreneurs. None of this is up for discussion or review, and that makes the entire account tedious and entirely predictable.

Duncan’s opening sentence is a calculated attention-getter: “Education Continue reading: HOW SCHOOLS WORK | Bill Ayers

Rick Scott can run, but he can't hide from record - enrique baloyra

Rick Scott can run, but he can't hide from record

Rick Scott can run, but he can't hide from record

Published on Sep 30, 2018


With just over a month left before midterms elections, Florida Governor and candidate for US Senate Rick Scott is nowhere to be found. The term-limited governor seems to have gone into seclusion after a series of botched campaign appearances. Scott came out swinging early in the race, spending $5 million by late April. By now he’s spent 10s of $millions on TV ads rated “mostly false” by Politifact. He should be making daily appearances, shaking as many hands as humanly possible. Instead, Scott is cancelling events. You might remember the campaign rally in Venice two weeks ago, where hundreds of protesters booed him for cutting nearly $700 million from the state’s environmental agencies, resulting in an 11-month toxic algae blooms that’ve been killing fish, manatees, and dolphins all over the state. The governor lasted 10 minutes before running out the back door. The next day he was met by dozens of protesters at a rally in Orlando. He was supposed to end his bus tour the following day in his hometown. But he suddenly cancelled the event without explanation. Some voters might remember how his administration banned the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” “And many voters might remember how [he] and the Republican Legislature shrunk the Department of Environmental Regulation, pauperized and politicized the water management districts, fired expert scientists and rewrote regulations to allow Big Sugar and other corporate interests to police their own polluting practices.” The governor recently postponed a hearing concerning FPL’s application for a new power plant in Dania Beach until after the election. Why isn’t he inviting cameras in for the public to watch the proceedings? Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to take any questions about the nearly half $million he owns in FPL stock. Or maybe he doesn’t want a repeat of the clemency hearing he recently held to restore people’s voting rights. Reporters and cameras packed the Cabinet room, just days after the governor was skewered on national TV for making Florida “the disenfranchisement capital of America.” After running neck-and-neck for months, this week’s Marist poll has Senator Bill Nelson pulling ahead by over three points. Turns out it’s true what Nina Turner’s grandma said. “You can put truth in a river five days after a lie, truth eventually gone catch up.”

Rick Scott can run, but he can't hide from record - YouTube -

A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying | Pew Research Center

A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying | Pew Research Center

A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying
59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online, and a similar share says it's a major problem for people their age. At the same time, teens mostly think teachers, social media companies and politicians are failing at addressing this issue.

A majority of teens have been the target of cyberbullying, with name-calling and rumor-spreading being the most common forms of harassmentName-calling and rumor-spreading have long been an unpleasant and challenging aspect of adolescent life. But the proliferation of smartphones and the rise of social media has transformed where, when and how bullying takes place. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that 59% of U.S. teens have personally experienced at least one of six types of abusive online behaviors.1
The most common type of harassment youth encounter online is name-calling. Some 42% of teens say they have been called offensive names online or via their cellphone. Additionally, about a third (32%) of teens say someone has spread false rumors about them on the internet, while smaller shares have had someone other than a parent constantly ask where they are, who they’re with or what they’re doing (21%) or have been the target of physical threats online (16%).
While texting and digital messaging are a central way teens build and maintain relationships, this level of connectivity may lead to potentially troubling and nonconsensual exchanges. One-quarter of teens say they have been sent explicit images they didn’t ask for, while 7% say someone has shared explicit images of them without their consent. These experiences are particularly concerning to parents. Fully 57% of parents of teens say they worry about their teen receiving or sending explicit images, including about one-quarter who say this worries them a lot, according to a separate Center survey of parents.
The vast majority of teens (90% in this case) believe online harassment is a problem that affects people their age, and 63% say this is a major problem. But majorities of young people think key groups, such as teachers, social media companies and politicians are failing at tackling this issue. By contrast, teens have a more positive assessment of the way parents are addressing cyberbullying.
These are some of the key findings from the Center’s surveys of 743 teens and 1,058 parents living in the U.S. conducted March 7 to April 10, 2018. Throughout the report, “teens” refers to those ages 13 to 17, and “parents of teens” are those who are the parent or guardian of someone in that age range.

Similar shares of boys and girls have been harassed online – but girls are more likely to be the targets of online rumor-spreading or nonconsensual explicit messages

Teen boys and girls are equally likely to be bullied online, but girls are more likely to endure false rumors, receive explicit images they didn't ask forWhen it comes to the overall findings on the six experiences measured in this survey, teenage boys and girls are equally likely to experience cyberbullying. However, there are some differences in the specific types of harassment they encounter.
Overall, 60% of girls and 59% of boys have experienced at least one of six abusive online behaviors. While similar shares of boys and girls have encountered abuse, such as name-calling or physical threats online, other forms of cyberbullying are more prevalent among girls. Some 39% of girls say someone has spread false rumors about them online, compared with 26% of boys who say this.

Girls also are more likely than boys to report being the recipient of explicit images they did not ask for (29% vs. 20%). And being the target of these types of messages is an especially common experience for older girls: 35% of girls ages 15 to 17 say they have received Continue reading: A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying | Pew Research Center

Class Size Really Really Matters: Police Investigate After Video Of Students Engaged In Sex In New Britain High Classroom Circulates On Social Media - Hartford Courant

Police Investigate After Video Of Students Engaged In Sex In New Britain High Classroom Circulates On Social Media - Hartford Courant

Police Investigate After Video Of Students Engaged In Sex In New Britain High Classroom Circulates On Social Media

New Britain police are investigating after video of two students purportedly having sex in a crowded New Britain High School classroom circulated Thursday on several social media platforms, including Facebook and Snapchat.
New Britain detectives are conducting interviews and have been in touch with the social media companies in an attempt to have the video removed, Police Chief James Wardwell said Friday.
Wardwell said he could offer few details about the incident because the investigation is ongoing.
New Britain High School Principal Damon Pearce notified parents Thursday evening in a recorded telephone message.
“Earlier today we had an incident in the school involving inappropriate conduct between a male and female student which was later shared on social media,” Pearce said. He said school officials learned of the incident shortly after it occurred and contacted authorities. The school district is also investigating, he said.
In an email to high school staff Thursday afternoon, Pearce said the student or students who video recorded the sexual encounter between the two students shared it widely with students at the high school. He urged faculty and staff to remind students to be respectful and to ask them not to talk about the incident.
Pearce, in the email, also urged teachers to remind students to be thoughtful about the choices they make each day. “A hasty decision can last a life time,” he said, adding “Two students made a poor decision and now have to deal with the ramifications.”
New Britain Superintendent of Schools Nancy Sarra said in a statement that school Continue reading: Police Investigate After Video Of Students Engaged In Sex In New Britain High Classroom Circulates On Social Media - Hartford Courant

Tony Thurmond for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction - NPE Action

Tony Thurmond for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction - NPE Action

Tony Thurmond for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Network for Public Education Action  proudly endorsed East Bay Assemblyman, Tony Thurmond, for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
We are writing today to remind you just how important your support for Tony Thurmond is.
Marshall Tuck, a corporate reformer, is gaining ground thanks to millions supplied to his campaign by the California Charter School Association and its allies.
Here is what one of the state’s leading public school advocates Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig had to say about this race:
“Marshall Tuck would clearly be an important ally for the Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos education agenda in California. In contrast, Tony Thurmond has vowed to lead the resistance against their education agenda. Marshall Tuck has millions of campaign dollars given to him by his billionaire allies and others lobbying to privately control and privatize public education in California. While Tuck has millions, Thurmond has people power. As Superintendent of Public Instruction he would be our champion for community-based solutions and better funding for education across our state.”
It is no wonder that Tuck is the darling of the charter-school backing billionaires.
Tuck is a former charter school executive and CEO. In 2014, Tuck ran an unsuccessful campaign for State Superintendent, losing to incumbent Tom Torlakson. Tuck was heavily funded by outside money from national charter advocates, including Michael Bloomberg, Eli Broad, the Waltons, Laurene Powell Jobs, Arthur Rock and John Arnold. Thurmond stated that, “California’s voters don’t want this election to be bought by the Walton family, Eli Broad, and other billionaires who want to privatize public education.”
Thurmond is passionate about improving public schools. His public school education prepared him for a 20-year career in social work, where he ran after-school programs and taught life skills and career training. Those years of experience provided him with a unique perspective into the lives of California’s youth.
Thurmond has vowed to “lead the resistance against Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos and their agenda to undermine and defund our public education system,” promising that he will not support policies that seek to divert taxpayer dollars from public education to private schools.
Thurmond has already received numerous endorsements, including the endorsement of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. Thurmond will be on the general election ballot on November 6th. NPE Action urges our over 21,000 supporters in California to educate and inform your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues about Thurmond’s campaign and the importance of this election for the future of public education in California.
You can share this endorsement on social media using this link:
Thank you,
Tony Thurmond for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction - NPE Action

Our Public Schools, Our Democracy: Our Fight for the Future - on @Bizzabo

A False Crisis Set Education Reform Adrift for 35 Years + We Set Our Course On The Wrong Destination - The Crucial Voice of the People

A False Crisis Set Education Reform Adrift for 35 Years - The Crucial Voice of the PeopleThe Crucial Voice of the People
A False Crisis Set Education Reform Adrift for 35 Years
The false crisis created by politicians pushing a political agenda focused the nation’s attention on the wrong reforms.

The political debate that followed the release of A Nation at Risk kept the public from hearing the potential solutions offered in the report itself. While President Reagan’s report on education in America is famous for the words that helped create the false crisis, “a rising tide of mediocrity,” the lesser-known words from A Nation at Riskwere those describing the creation of a “Learning Society.”
Unfortunately, Reagan did not speak in public about a “Learning Society” — a concept that has now been redefined by a variety of organizations further muddying our political “education reform” waters.
The National Commission on Excellence in Education clearly conveyed the ideal of a Learning Society by its…
“commitment to a set of values and to a system of education that affords all members the opportunity to stretch their minds to full capacity, from early childhood through adulthood…”
The concept of the Learning Society is centered on creating life-long learning as the norm. It is about the need for our education system to ensure all children are learning how to learn. It is about becoming self-reliant in an ever-changing world.
The Commission began its study in 1981 with some well-defined items of “concern” to be addressed in their investigation. Included was “defining problems which must be faced and overcome if we are successfully to pursue the course of excellence in education.” The focus of the study was secondary schools (high schools and Continue reading: A False Crisis Set Education Reform Adrift for 35 Years - The Crucial Voice of the PeopleThe Crucial Voice of the People
We Set Our Course On The Wrong Destination

The Declaration of Independence is seen as our nation’s promise. It contains guiding principles upon which our nation was built. Its words invoked a vision, a place to be created, a destination. Because of it, America became the “separate and equal” sovereign nation it set out to be.
By 1954, it was decided that when it came to public schools “separate but unequal” was our reality. A socioeconomic and racial inequality in America was acknowledged. That fact alone was justification for the writing of federal education law in 1965. And we set our course of action on offering equal access. However, desegregation —a forced attempt to offer that access—overshadowed full implementation of the law.

But equal access alone was never enough; the American standard is one of quality.

So as 1983 rolled around, the National Commission on Excellence in Education openly questioned the quality of our public secondary schools and made the call that we were A Nation at Risk based on eleven “indicators.” The majority of those measures were standardized test scores. The course was set. The destination was higher scores.
At that time, the commission’s analysis of statistics painted a bleak picture. And even though some of us still believe their recommendations were generally in the best We Set Our Course On The Wrong Destination

The American Dream Is Harder To Find In Some Neighborhoods : NPR

The American Dream Is Harder To Find In Some Neighborhoods : NPR

The American Dream Is Harder To Find In Some Neighborhoods

Does the neighborhood you grow up in determine how far you move up the economic ladder?
A new online data tool being made public Monday finds a strong correlation between where people are raised and their chances of achieving the American dream.
Harvard University economist Raj Chetty has been working with a team of researchers on this tool — the first of its kind because it marries U.S. Census Bureau data with data from the Internal Revenue Service. And the findings are changing how researchers think about economic mobility.
This map, a screenshot from The Opportunity Atlas, shows household income in 2014-2015 for people born between 1978 and 1983 to low-income parents. In areas that are more red, people who grew up in low-income households tended to stay low-income. In areas that are more blue, people who grew up in low-income households tend to make more money.
INTERACTIVE: Explore The Opportunity Atlas
The Opportunity Atlas/Screenshot by NPR
It used to be that people born in the 1940s or '50s were virtually guaranteed to achieve the American dream of earning more than your parents did, Chetty says. But that's not the case anymore.
"You see that for kids turning 30 today, who were born in the mid-1980s, only 50 percent of them go on to earn more than their parents did," Chetty says. "It's a coin flip as to whether you are now going to achieve the American dream."
Chetty and his colleagues worked with the Census Bureau's Sonya Porter and Maggie Jones to create the The Opportunity Atlas, which is available to the public starting Monday.
At first glance, it looks a lot like a Google map, where users can see the whole country, or zoom in to local neighborhoods. The difference is in the amount of data that pops up when a neighborhood is highlighted.
Researchers hope this data will help communities understand and tackle the barriers that prevent people from climbing the economic ladder. They want policymakers to use this data to offer new solutions locally.

Chetty explains that the government data they are working with is kept anonymous. The information can help pinpoint the places where lots of kids are climbing the income ladder and "the places where the outcomes don't look as good," he says.
Chetty found that if a person moves out of a neighborhood with worse prospects into to a neighborhood with better outlooks, that move increases lifetime earnings for low-income children by an average $200,000. Of course, moving a lot of people is impractical, so researchers are instead trying to help low-performing areas improve.
Charlotte, N.C., has gotten a head start on this effort. The city has enjoyed strong economic growth over the past couple of decades and many people assumed the progress had been shared across the city. But in 2014, Chetty and his colleagues released data showing that Charlotte was dead last out of 50 cities at providing upward mobility for low-income kids.
Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, a prominent Charlotte resident, wasn't surprised the city had done poorly.
"I've been a physician for a lot of years, worked with people who live in poverty, so I Continue reading: The American Dream Is Harder To Find In Some Neighborhoods : NPR