Tuesday, November 12, 2019

NYC Public School Parents: What's really behind the city, state and national drop in NAEP scores

NYC Public School Parents: What's really behind the city, state and national drop in NAEP scores

What's really behind the city, state and national drop in NAEP scores

The results of the biennual national tests called NAEPs were released on October 30, showing stagnant or declining test scores in reading and math in nearly all states in the decade since 2009. 
“Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest-performing students are doing worse,” said Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the NAEP. “In fact, over the long term in reading, the lowest-performing students—those readers who struggle the most—have made no progress from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago.”
The poor results are most likely a consequence of several factors, including the damaging double whammy experienced by schools in 2009-2011 – when the great recession hit, which led to thousands of teacher jobs lost and class sizes increasing sharply, and the imposition of the Common Core standards.
Concerning the recession, see the chart below from the Economic Policy Institute, showing a current shortfall of more than 300,000 public education jobs starting in about 2010:

Many states and districts, including NYC, still have not recovered from the sharp increase in class size that occurred starting in 2008.   Just as class size reduction benefits CONTINUE READING: NYC Public School Parents: What's really behind the city, state and national drop in NAEP scores

Schools Matter: TN's Latest Grades on School Funding

Schools Matter: TN's Latest Grades on School Funding

TN's Latest Grades on School Funding

Tennessee has been at or near the forefront of education reformers' thirty-year crusade to come up with a cheap and easily-measured scheme to gauge education productivity.  In 1992, Tennessee formalized its chosen "accountability" strategy by writing into state statute Bill Sanders' value-added algorithms, which the wizened tobacco-chewing agricultural statistician had sold to the State as a "good and cheap" way to convince taxpayers that schools, teachers, and students were being held accountable for the millions of pennies that state politicians were demanding for K-12 education.

The incredible story of value-added modeling (VAM), first researched by Dr. Denise Wilburn, was a core part of The Mismeasure of Education, our historical survey of American educational malpractice in the 20th Century.

In being focused solely on educational improvements that required the State to do nothing whatsoever about the vast structural inequity and inequalities that influence educational opportunity or lack thereof, Tennessee became the darling of the U.S. Dept. of Education when it came time to try out the latest miseducative reform thought disorder for bribing and extorting better school performance as measured by racist and classist standardized tests.

As a result, Tennessee has come to depend upon a continuing stream of federal grants to keep the state's school doors open.  It is this diseased kind of symbiosis that led Sen. Marsha Blackburn to step forward and offer a new home for the U. S. Department of Education in Tennessee, if Republicans can finagle a way to CONTINUE READING: 
Schools Matter: TN's Latest Grades on School Funding



Are teachers allowed to think — or expected to simply follow directions? - The Washington Post

Are teachers allowed to think — or expected to simply follow directions? - The Washington Post

Are teachers allowed to think — or expected to simply follow directions?


Last week I published a story about the degrading exercise teachers go through in securing basic supplies for their students because the schools don’t. I asked teachers to tell me about their supply stories and received more than 1,200 responses, and they are still coming in.
This is a look at another problem teachers face, by a teacher who faces it every school day: Are teachers really allowed to think for themselves or are their days scripted for them by non-educators?

This was written by Steven Singer, a veteran National Board certified teacher in Pennsylvania with a masters in education. He is a father, public education advocate and blogger. This piece appeared on his Gadfly on the Wall blog, and he gave me permission to republish it.
By Steve Singer
As a public school teacher, I am often told what to do and how to do it.
Go teach this class.
Report to lunch duty at this time.
Monitor this student’s progress in this way, that student’s progress in another way, differentiate the following, document this medical condition, write up this behavior, check for that kind of hall pass, post and teach these academic standards, etc., etc., etc.
Some of these directives I agree with and others I do not. But that is treated as an irrelevance because the one thing I’m never told to do is to think for myself. The one thing that seems to be expressly forbidden — is that I think for myself.
In fact, it’s such a glaring omission, I often wonder if it’s actually prohibited or so obviously necessary CONTINUE READING: Are teachers allowed to think — or expected to simply follow directions? - The Washington Post

St. Paul group steps up fight against new charter schools - StarTribune.com

St. Paul group steps up fight against new charter schools - StarTribune.com

St. Paul group steps up fight against new charter schools
District board chairwoman signs onto the campaign seeking moratorium. 


A group committed to reining in charter school growth in St. Paul is sharpening its message and strategy.
Members appeared before the school board recently to pursue support for a moratorium on new charter schools and the expansion of existing ones.
Such moves are challenging in a state that prides itself on school choice. But the group, Parents for St. Paul Schools, now can count Board Chairwoman Zuki Ellis among its allies.
Earlier this year, when the district’s teachers union first floated the idea, Ellis was not ready to commit. But she jumped on board recently when Parents for St. Paul Schools quizzed board candidates before last week’s elections.
Ellis was re-elected Tuesday, as was board vice chairman Steve Marchese. He said this spring that he supports the idea. Chauntyll Allen, the Black Lives Matter activist who won a seat Tuesday, also answered in the affirmative.
“I agree that we should take a step back and assess the charter schools that have opened, ideally before adding new ones,” Allen wrote in an exchange between candidates and Parents for St. Paul Schools that was posted on the group’s Facebook page.
The public, she said, needs to know how much charter schools cost the district.
The fourth member elected last week, parent-activist Jessica Kopp, said she needed to know who would authorize and enforce a moratorium and how long it would last.
Parents for St. Paul Schools launched this spring while new charter schools were preparing to open in the fall and while the school district grappled with yet another potential budget deficit due in part to declining enrollment.
The group’s members include Clayton Howatt, a former Galtier Community CONTINUE READING: St. Paul group steps up fight against new charter schools - StarTribune.com

Little Rock teachers to go on strike over district's control

Little Rock teachers to go on strike over district's control

Little Rock teachers to go on strike over district’s control
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Little Rock teachers will go on strike for one day this week over an Arkansas panel’s decision to strip their collective bargaining power and complaints about state control of the 23,000-student district, union officials said Monday.
Full Coverage: Strikes
The strike that will take place Thursday will be only the second time teachers have walked out of the job in Little Rock history. The Little Rock Education Association’s announcement comes after the state Board of Education in October voted to no longer recognize the union when the contract expired Oct. 31.
The union has been calling for the state to give them back their bargaining power. Before the contract ended on Oct. 31, the Little Rock School District had been the only one in Arkansas where a teachers union had collective bargaining power. But union leaders said Thursday’s strike was focused more broadly on returning full local control to the district.
Arkansas has run Little Rock’s schools since the state board took over the district in January 2015 because of low test scores at several schools. The state board has voted to put the district under a local board that will be elected in November 2020, but with limits on its authority. The strike will occur the day the state panel is expected to vote on establishing the zones for the new local board.
“As educators, we would rather be in the classroom with our students, not on the picket line,” Teresa Knapp Gordon, the union’s president, said at a news conference outside Little Rock Central High School. “However, this community and the passionate, dedicated educators of this district will do what is necessary to protect the futures of our students.”
While the union billed it as a one-day strike, Gordon left open the possibility of it stretching beyond Thursday if the panel doesn’t return full local control.
“No options are off the table at this point,” she said.
The only other teachers strike in the district was in 1987, when Little Rock students missed six days of school before a new two-year contract was approved.
Little Rock Superintendent Michael Poore said the district’s schools will remain open and buses CONTINUE READING: Little Rock teachers to go on strike over district's control
LRSD superintendent says no decision yet on whether striking teachers will be disciplined or terminated - Arkansas Times - https://arktimes.com/?p=457768 via @arktimes
Image result for Little Rock teachers to go on strike over district’s control

On Poetry and Prose: Defining the Undefinable | radical eyes for equity

On Poetry and Prose: Defining the Undefinable | radical eyes for equity

On Poetry and Prose: Defining the Undefinable


As a professor of first-year writing, I spend a good deal of time helping students unpack what they have learned about the essay as a form and about writing in order to set much of that aside and embrace more nuanced and authentic awareness about both.
person taking photo of book lot
Photo by Taylor Ann Wright on Unsplash
Teaching writing is also necessarily entangled with teaching reading. In my young adult literature course, then, I often ask students, undergraduate and graduate (many practicing teachers), to do similar unpacking about their assumptions concerning writing and reading.
I have noted before that my first-year students often mangle what I would consider to be very basic labels for writing forms and genres—calling a short prose piece a poem and identifying a play as a novel because they read both in book form.
Because of the ways students have been taught writing to comply with CONTINUE READINGOn Poetry and Prose: Defining the Undefinable | radical eyes for equity

HISD teachers' union believe TEA takeover is politically motivated | abc13.com

HISD teachers' union believe TEA takeover is politically motivated | abc13.com

'We need answers': HISD teachers still in dark over takeover



HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Five days after the state announced it was taking over HISD, plenty of questions remain.

At union headquarters Monday afternoon, the Houston Federation of Teachers offered its take on the Texas Education Agency's decision to appoint a board of managers and superintendent to oversee the state's largest school district.

"We have a lot of concerns. We have a lot of questions. Educators, parents and community. We need answers," said HFT President Zeph Capo. "Schooling is not easy, particularly when we have kids who are in such need. You don't help them by closing school districts. You don't help them by closing schools. "

How will the move impact classrooms, students, parents, and teachers? We don't know.

HFT suggests the move is politically motivated, an effort to privatize part of the district. Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, echoed that sentiment.

"This is a power grab," said Weingarten. "It has nothing to do with student achievement and it is actually going to hurt the community in Houston. "

The state has opened up the application process and is asking those interested to apply. TEA has said those with close ties to HISD will comprise a majority of the board.

What exactly does that mean? It's a concern for those at Monday afternoon's press conference, including Kendra Yarbrough Camarena, a teacher at Wheatley High School. It's the campus which didn't meet state standards and is at the center of the takeover.

"We have concerns," said Camarena. "We want to know what's going to happen. We've been the ones on the ground and we've been working really, really hard. What is it going to look like?"

According to the union, the one certainty is that teachers will keep doing their best to educate children. They say that won't change regardless of who's in charge.

RELATED

This is how HISD's collapse played out
After years of bad grades, in-house bickering and revolving superintendents, the state says "enough" and takes over HISD.
HISD's takeover by Texas education brass official

As anticipated, HISD is getting taken over by the Texas Education Agency, a day after elections inserted two newcomers to its board.
Follow Tom Abrahams on Twitter and Facebook.

HISD teachers' union believe TEA takeover is politically motivated | abc13.com

Are Black girls being pushed out of San Francisco Schools? - SF PUBLIC SCHOOL MOM

Are Black girls being pushed out of San Francisco Schools? - SF PUBLIC SCHOOL MOM

Are Black girls being pushed out of San Francisco Schools?

I’ve been reading Dr. Monique Morris’ book “Sign and Rhythm, Dance the Blues this long weekend. It has so many great quotes, I can’t stop highlighting it!
This quote serves as a summary of the themes covered in her book:
“Black girls, are overrepresented along the school discipline continuum, we need to understand the conditions they perceive as threatening to their well-being, then understand that their behavior is a response to those conditions.”— Dr. Monique Morris
This has me thinking a lot lately about the ways women of color and especially Black girls are treated in our schools. I know first-hand this treatment extends to Black mothers, aunties, and grandmothers. (and even to famous news journalists like Jemele Hill!) Criminalization, marginalization, erasure. We have study after study about the adultification of Black girls; the ways people minimize Black pain; and the sexualization of Black girls/women. Nonetheless, when systems talk about ways to address these societal problems, they always focus on individual approaches.
Racism is by its nature systemic. Addressing systemic problems with a case-management approach is willfully avoiding the problem.
I’m no longer interested in looking at charts of Black, Native American, Latinx, and Samoan/Pacific Islander lack of success in our schools. I’m interested in seeing what SFUSD students are saying about the system. Do they feel welcomed, valued, visible, cared-for, supported, heard, loved?
This video Black Girls Breaking Silence on School Push-Out, highlights the ways Black girls are made to feel unwelcome in our education system.



Watching the video below made me realize I need to go on a tour of SFUSD. I want to talk with Black girls and see how they are experiencing our schools.

On a positive note…

I’m already working on addressing anti-black racism and positive school culture in our schools. For the first time in SFUSD history, our district will CONTINUE READING: Are Black girls being pushed out of San Francisco Schools? - SF PUBLIC SCHOOL MOM

Jane Nylund: Oakland Is in the Sights of the “Destroy Public Education” Crowd, Who Control the Board | Diane Ravitch's blog

Jane Nylund: Oakland Is in the Sights of the “Destroy Public Education” Crowd, Who Control the Board | Diane Ravitch's blog

Jane Nylund: Oakland Is in the Sights of the “Destroy Public Education” Crowd, Who Control the Board


Jane Nylund, parent activist in Oakland, wrote the following warning after reading about the ouster of the Disrupters in Denver. Parents and activists and concerned citizens must organize and oust the agents of Disruption:
Oakland also must flip 4 board seats next year. The Walton-bought board has recently closed two schools, Roots and Kaiser Elementary, and there is talk of accelerating the “Blueprint process”, which is basically a plan to close and consolidate schools. Oakland’s portfolio model, which was only supposed to close “low performing” schools (nearly all of which were privatized into charters), has now morphed into the Citywide plan, in which no school is safe from the threat of closure. Kaiser was an exemplary model for a popular, well-supported, diverse neighborhood public school that attracted families both within and outside its boundaries. It also supported a significant number of LGBT families. It’s enrollment had been steady for years. Its closure (and planned consolidation with Sankofa, a struggling elementary school several miles away with a freeway in between) means that the beautiful piece of property where Kaiser is located (with SF bay views) will either be sold or handed over to a charter. Kaiser’s closure was a sacrifice, a political pawn in the school closure game, to show that the school board can be “bold” and not just close schools in high-needs neighborhoods. Look at us, we can close anything, and we will! This is the not-so-new normal for OUSD.
Jane Nylund: Oakland Is in the Sights of the “Destroy Public Education” Crowd, Who Control the Board | Diane Ravitch's blog

How Schools Are Using The Trump Impeachment Inquiry To Teach Key Skills : NPR

How Schools Are Using The Trump Impeachment Inquiry To Teach Key Skills : NPR

How Schools Are Using The Trump Impeachment Inquiry As A Teachable Moment

For the fourth time in history, Congress is considering impeaching the president of the United States. For teachers around the country, it's an opportunity to explore concepts and skills that are often relegated to textbooks.
We asked social studies teachers from around the country how — if at all — they're using this teachable moment, navigating the nationally polarizing topic and trying to sidestep the often asked question, "What do you think?"
Many educators told us they're embracing the opportunity to bring concepts such as checks and balances to life. Some say they don't have much time to address current events in class because of the amount of material they have to cover in a year.
Still, others may have the time to address impeachment in class but are avoiding the divisive topic because of how polarizing it can be, says Rwany Sibaja, who trains future social studies teachers at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Despite those potential challenges, "teachers who ignore [impeachment] and don't allow students to ask questions and to be critical thinkers," Sibaja argues, "I think that's sort of a lost opportunity."
Teachers who have the time and choose to tackle impeachment told us they often have to start with the basics, like, "What is CONTINUE READING: How Schools Are Using The Trump Impeachment Inquiry To Teach Key Skills : NPR

When a Bake Sale Isn't Enough: Crowdfunding for School Projects

When a Bake Sale Isn't Enough: Crowdfunding for School Projects

When a Bake Sale Isn’t Enough: Crowdfunding for School Projects

From international food festivals and popcorn sales to fun runs and penny wars, many educators are taking matters into their own hands to raise much-needed funds. With nearly half of public school funding nationwide coming from local taxes, annual budgets vary drastically from one school district to another. According to the National Center for Education, funding can range from less than $4,000 per student in the least affluent areas to more than $15,000 per student in the wealthiest districts.

In Oakland, Calif., where Ashley Wallace teaches humanities and theater arts, the city faced a $23-million budget deficit in 2018, and millions more in cuts are expected in the 2019 – 2020 school year. “Funding doesn’t often come to our school,” Wallace says. “I need to get things for my students as quickly as I can.”

With few options, Wallace turns to crowdfunding to find resources for her students. In the last three years, Wallace has raised more than $35,000 for her school on Donors Choose. org, a crowdfunding site that connects teachers in high-need communities with donors (corporations, foundations, and/or individuals) who want to help fund classroom projects.

“The economic problems we have in Oakland don’t allow for our kids to participate in traditional school fundraising events,” Wallace says. “This is not an area where kids are walking around selling candy bars—and there’s only so much candy you can sell teachers.”

How Does Crowdfunding for School Work?
DonorsChoose.orgcrowdfunding for schoolDigitalWish.com, and Fundly.com are all popular crowdfunding sites. While each site is a little different, educators follow the same basic steps: Create a description of a fundraising project; fill the online cart with items from the listed businesses or make special requests for items not found on the site; and wait.

The sites vet the requests and cost for each item and then track donations as they arrive. Sometimes sites offer dollar-for-dollar matches for donations—some offer even more! When the project is fully funded, the site orders the requested items and ships them to the teacher’s school.

Wallace’s crowdfunding efforts have landed supplies for the parent and student hygiene pantry as well as a washer and dryer for students to wash their uniforms.

Extreme Makeover-Classroom Edition

In summer 2019, Wallace listed three projects needed for a classroom redesign. “I CONTINUE READING: When a Bake Sale Isn't Enough: Crowdfunding for School Projects

Record levels of stress ‘put teachers at breaking point’ | Education | The Guardian

Record levels of stress ‘put teachers at breaking point’ | Education | The Guardian

Record levels of stress ‘put teachers at breaking point’
‘Burnt-out’ school staff are suffering severe psychological problems, reveals report

Teachers are suffering from more severe psychological problems than at any point this century, experts have warned. In an alarming report they reveal the school workforce is being pushed to “breaking point”.
Education Support, a charity that gives mental health help to education professionals, predicts school standards will fall and mental health problems in the classroom will multiply if the government does not act quickly to offer teachers more support.
Seen exclusively by the Observer, the charity’s teacher wellbeing index indicates that stress levels among teachers and school leaders have ratcheted up for the third consecutive year to the highest levels ever. Nearly three-quarters of teachers and 84% of school leaders now describe themselves as “stressed”, and more than a third of education professionals have experienced a mental health issue in the past academic year. Almost half (49%) believe their workplace is having a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
“Overwork has become normalised. Education professionals don’t feel trusted,” said the charity’s chief executive, SinĂ©ad Mc Brearty. “They are almost twice as anxious as the general population. That’s a measure of how harsh our accountability systems are and the way in which accountability in education is so reductive. This report has to be a very loud wake-up call for all concerned.”
She said the sector was now at breaking point: “We are beyond ‘crisis’. We are in a state of distress.” If the situation continued, she warned, it would result in “burnt-out leaders on an industrial scale” and schools would face huge problems recruiting and retaining staff.
“We know that [the] performance of anyone in any job is compromised by stress and poor wellbeing. We are going to see that in our classrooms. As it is, 10 million children are spending a significant amount of time every year in high-stress environments – and that is going to affect them.”
The charity is calling for the government to make educational reforms that will increase teachers’ autonomy and change the accountability system to reduce “unproductive tension and anxiety”. It also wants all CONTINUE READING: Record levels of stress ‘put teachers at breaking point’ | Education | The Guardian

Success Academy Class Of 2020 Sheds 239 Scholars Along The Way | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

Success Academy Class Of 2020 Sheds 239 Scholars Along The Way | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

Success Academy Class Of 2020 Sheds 239 Scholars Along The Way

The New York Post recently ran an editorial about the SAT scores of the Success Academy senior class of 2020.  Of all the different numbers they referenced, one that I took note of was 114 — the apparent number of students in the senior class.
The class of 2020 is the third graduating class of Success Academy.  The class of 2018 had 17 seniors out of a cohort of 73 first graders in 2006-2007.  The class of 2019 had 26 seniors out of a cohort of 83 kindergartners in 2006-2007.  Some of the class of 2019 were students who had been held back from the class of 2018 — probably in a comparable number to the number of 2019 students who will graduate this year.  So the 26 out of 83, or 31% persistence rate probably accounts for students who take an extra year to graduate.
For the class of 2020, things get a bit more complicated since in 2008 Success Academy did its first expansion and grew from one school, now called Harlem 1, into four schools now including Harlem 2, Harlem 3, and Harlem 4.  Some of the past records are incomplete for these schools, but when the 2020 cohort was in 2nd grade in 2009-2010, I find that there was a combined 353 students in the cohort.  By 6th grade, they were down to 263 students and by 9th grade it was 191.  In 10th grade they were 161 students and in 11th grade, 146.  And now, according to the New York Post article based on a Success Academy press release, they have 114 seniors.  So only 32% of the students who were there in second grade made it through their program.  And even more startling is that of the 191 9th graders that had been at Success Academy for 10 years, only 59% of them are on track to graduate three years later.
SA2020
[all data gotten from https://data.nysed.gov/%5D
This 32% persistence rate doesn’t even include the students who ‘backfilled’ some of the empty spots for students who have left over the years.  Without access to more granular data, this isn’t something I can study right now.  From Robert Pondiscio’s book about CONTINUE READING: Success Academy Class Of 2020 Sheds 239 Scholars Along The Way | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

Seattle Schools Community Forum: Stand Up for Student Data Privacy

Seattle Schools Community Forum: Stand Up for Student Data Privacy

Stand Up for Student Data Privacy

Don't let the feds do to COPPA what they did to FERPA.  Is your child's information for sale to the highest bidder? I hope not.

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a law created to protect the privacy of children under 13.  
 
From the Missouri Watchdog blog:

The Federal Trade Commission is considering several changes to this law that protects children’s online information.  The FTC is accepting comments from the public, deadline December 9, 2019. 


  • COPPA is a federal law whose mission is to put parents in control over what information is collected from their young child online, but that could change. The FTC is about to weaken this law that protects children.
  • See here (Section E. Question 23 covers the edtech consent exception) Exceptions to Verifiable Parental Consent:
    “Should the Commission consider a specific exception to parental consent for the use of education technology used in the schools? Should this exception have similar requirements to the “school official exception” found in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”)…?”
Let them hear from you and tell the FTC:  

  • Do NOT Weaken COPPA. 
  • Do NOT Give Edtech a Consent Exception.   
  • See Sample letters hereherehere, and here.
With the ever expanding use of computers, online curriculum, apps, videos, social media in the classroom, kids deserve to be protected at school.



Seattle Schools Community Forum: Stand Up for Student Data Privacy