Monday, September 23, 2019

Movies, Word Finds, and Coloring Sheets - Teacher Habits

Movies, Word Finds, and Coloring Sheets - Teacher Habits

Movies, Word Finds, and Coloring Sheets

My daughter is in eighth grade now. She’s doing math I don’t remember and solved some problems the other night that I couldn’t help her with (luckily, Alexa could). She’s taking German and is all guten this and guten that when she gets home. She’s a programmer on her robotics team. She’s read “The Lottery” and “The Monkey’s Paw” in English class. She’s getting better at playing along with Jeopardy!
She has also brought home a coloring assignment and a word find during the first four weeks of school.
In sixth grade, we joked that one of her classes should have been called Watching Movies I’ve Already Seen.
I am supposed to be upset about this. The teacher in me (who gave up word finds and coloring sheets as assignments many years ago) should be outraged. I should follow the lead of many other teachers and parents who demand more of schools and post my CONTINUE READING: Movies, Word Finds, and Coloring Sheets - Teacher Habits

Just how intertwined are racial segregation and economic inequality?

Just how intertwined are racial segregation and economic inequality?

An analysis of achievement gaps in every school in America shows that poverty is the biggest hurdle
A Stanford study finds that racial segregation matters because black and Hispanic students are concentrated in high poverty schools

Here’s a tale of three cities: Atlanta, New York and Detroit.

In all three cities, there is a high degree of racial segregation in the schools. White students go to schools with relatively few black and Hispanic students. Black and Hispanic students attend schools that don’t have many white students. When Sean Reardon, a sociologist at Stanford University, measures the racial isolation in a quantitative way, he finds that the schools in the three cities are “equally racially segregated.”
But the poverty rates in the schools are very different. In Atlanta, blacks students go to schools with very high poverty rates. The students in these schools tend to come from families whose income is low enough that the children qualify for free or reduced priced lunches, a federal measure of poverty. The white students in Atlanta tend to go to schools with very low poverty rates. In New York City, Reardon finds the same pattern but not to the same extreme. Meanwhile, in Detroit, this pattern isn’t true at all. White and black students attend different schools, but the poverty levels are high in both white and black schools.

It turns out, according to Reardon’s calculations, that the differences in poverty rates between the black and white schools are very predictive of the achievement gaps between black and white students. “The achievement gap is very small, virtually zero in Detroit,” said Reardon, in an interview. “It’s quite big, but not enormous in New York City. And it’s among one of the two or three biggest in the country in Atlanta.”
This example arises from a new study of achievement gaps and racial segregation in nearly every school in the United States. In the study, Reardon finds that racial segregation is a very strong predictor of the gaps in academic achievement between white and black or Hispanic students, but it’s school poverty — not the student’s race — that accounts for these big gaps. When the difference in poverty rates between black and white schools is larger, the achievement gaps CONTINUE READING: Just how intertwined are racial segregation and economic inequality?

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice | Just another WordPress.com weblog

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice | Just another WordPress.com weblog

Techno-Optimism Meets Schools: Schools Win (Part 1)

From Thomas Edison’s words on film revolutionizing teaching and learning in the early 1900s to the acclaim accompanying desktop computers overhauling K-12 schools in the early 1980s to MOOCs in the 2010s transforming higher education to BrainCo–software that tracks and uses students’ brainwaves in 2019–enthusiasm for the latest technological innovation is boundless.  Every ill has a cure, every problem has a solution, and every school needs the latest software to boost students’ math test scores (Dreambox) or make English-speaking students fluent in French (Duolingo).
Anyone over the age of 40 recognizes this repetitive hype and dashed expectations when it comes to the promise of new technologies in schools. What is often missed in this familiarity with exaggerated claims for new technologies (i.e., access and use of new hardware, software, and now social media) is that schools do, indeed, end up extensively using the new stuff. They domesticate the technology to fit what already exists.
In other words, techno-optimists win in getting much of their hardware and software into schools and classrooms but lose badly in seeing that what occurs as a result falls far short of their dreams of faster, more, better, and personalized teaching and learning. And schools win by having access to new technologies while tailoring their use to fit the “grammar of schooling.”
Nearly three decades ago, I wrote a few pieces on this techno-optimism (see here and here) when it comes to public schools and posed three scenarios then. In the intervening decades, each of these scenarios have real-life evidence that they occurred. Yet one in particular–here’s the spoiler–exists now.
Here are the three scenarios I sketched out in 1992.
The techno-optimist’s dream: electronic schools of the future now. These are CONTINUE READING: Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice | Just another WordPress.com weblog

Is the Long Alliance of Betsy DeVos and Cory Booker Really Over? | janresseger

Is the Long Alliance of Betsy DeVos and Cory Booker Really Over? | janresseger

Is the Long Alliance of Betsy DeVos and Cory Booker Really Over?

I am not one for complimenting U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, but you have to give her credit for one virtue: she is not an opportunist.  She remains a dogged school choice fanatic even though for three years now, she has been unable to get Congress to fund her highest priority, her Education Freedom Scholarship neovoucher-tuition tax credit program.
This year she launched her beginning-of-school-year tour at a Lutheran school in Milwaukee, home of the oldest school voucher program in the country. The Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss describes the start of DeVos’s September tour: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began her 2019 back-to-school tour Monday.  Given that she runs a publicly funded department and that most U.S. students attend schools in traditional public systems, you might think she would go to one in a district working hard to improve its academic performance.  Nope.  She didn’t go to a public school, and she didn’t choose a city because of the achievements of its public schools.  Rather, she went to St. Marcus Lutheran School in Milwaukee and touted that city as the ‘birthplace of modern education freedom.’  That is a reference to a program started under a 1989 law that was the first in the country to give substantial public funding for students to use for private, nonsectarian schools.  It later expanded to include religious schools.  That program was part of what grew to be known as the ‘school choice’ movement, which seeks to find alternatives to traditional public school districts so families can decide for themselves where to send their children and to serve as an escape for children who have poor educational options in their neighborhoods.  For decades, DeVos has played a key role in that movement, pushing against critics who argue that using public funds to support choice schools undermines the traditional public system, and that it aims at privatizing the nation’s most important civic institution.”
This week, for the Washington PostMichael Kranish profiles a politician who, unlike DeVos, has demonstrated that he is the consummate opportunist, Cory Booker, who is running for president as a Democrat and who is claiming this year that he has abjured his previous CONTINUE READING: Is the Long Alliance of Betsy DeVos and Cory Booker Really Over? | janresseger

“Important Parent Meeting” About College Funding, Yet Sponsor Withholds Identity from Mailer | deutsch29

“Important Parent Meeting” About College Funding, Yet Sponsor Withholds Identity from Mailer | deutsch29

“Important Parent Meeting” About College Funding, Yet Sponsor Withholds Identity from Mailer

On September 13, 2019, I received a mailer that at first glance appeared to be one that my southern Louisiana school district might send: No frills; just an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of white paper, xeroxed ad folded three times. However, in the place of the return address was written, “Important Parent Meeting.” No address, obviously a means of getting people to open and read the mailer. This would be unusual for our district, which identified itself in the return address as the sender of mail. Still, I thought, it could be the district.
Except for the Cleveland, Ohio, postal permit.
When I opened the mailer, the first words at the top, in large type, were, “Free College Workshop.” As I continued to read, I realized that I was being invited to a meeting requiring a reservation for attendance and promising lots of “FREE” help with college financial aid, including learning
  • How to send your child to a private college for less than a state school
  • How to create a plan to pay for college in an economy without relying on 529 plans, expensive private student loans or raiding your retirement accounts
  • How to lower your “out of pocket” costs and get the maximum amount of financial aid from each school
  • How to increase your college-related tax deductions and tax credits
Sounds great!
To seal the deal regarding the marvels of this *FREE College Funding Workshop,” at the bottom of the flier were several supposed testimonials:
“Guessing I’ll gain thousands of dollars of financial aid just from what I learned in the first 30 minutes.” –Robert T, Parent of High School Junior
“Opened my eyes to look at colleges we thought were out of our price range.” –John S., Parent of High School Junior
“Extremely informative presentation– clear, concise and easy to understand.” –Emily W., Parent of High School Senior
“Where were you when I sent my first kid to college?” –Jeffrey W., Parent of High School Sophomore
Lots of words on this mailer.
Lots of enticing promises.
Not one hint of who sent it. Not even a “sponsored by” in the finest of print.
IMG_1577
Someone wanted me to trust him/her with my financial planning without trusting me to make an informed decision about who, exactly, was asking to CONTINUE READING: “Important Parent Meeting” About College Funding, Yet Sponsor Withholds Identity from Mailer | deutsch29

Oh, Aight [Giving Them The First Word] | The Jose Vilson

Oh, Aight [Giving Them The First Word] | The Jose Vilson

OH, AIGHT [GIVING THEM THE FIRST WORD]

A little noise. A small plastic flick. A few curses. A thwop. A burst of laughter. A myriad of ways for Student X to distract themselves from the classroom activity of the moment.
I put up one finger, give myself a three-second time out and say, “I’ll be patient with you.” Student X does Action Y again. “That’s twice now and I’m asking you to please focus on the Do Now / Objective / Lesson for now.” But, but, but … “I’m not blaming you or anything like that, and if you’d like some time to discuss, we can make time for it during classwork, but not right now.” Then Student X does Action Y for the third time. “Aight, cool, let me finish what I’m doing now and I’ll deal with it then.”
The students start taking out looseleaf or get handed a sheet of problems to work on together and I look back at the student who thought I forgot. “Can we speak outside?” My firm and dulcet tone belie my sharp and directive eyes. The student usually obliges out of respect and, for a moment, we’ve suspended the routine for a quick relationship refresher.
“OK, you first. How you feeling, you good?”
[silence]
“What’s up today? How are we doing?”
[puts their head down or paces around a few tiles in the hallway looking like they just learned another pee-pee dance]
“You have nothing to say now?”
“OK, Mr. Vilson, so what happened was …”
He did. She did. They did. They shouldn’t have. I was just trying to. I don’t know, it’s just that.
“I hear you, and I don’t want to take CONTINUE READING: Oh, Aight [Giving Them The First Word] | The Jose Vilson



How The Other 1/300th Learns | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

How The Other 1/300th Learns | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

How The Other 1/300th Learns

Robert Pondiscio’s new book “How The Other Half Learns” (Avery September 2019) answers the age old question:  Can a bunch of twenty-something teachers who know nothing about education, nothing about child development, and nothing about what it is like to be a parent, get a non-random sampling of students of color to pass standardized tests?


In addition to answering that question in the affirmative, Pondiscio skillfully paints the most thorough picture of what exactly goes on behind the closed doors of Success Academy charter schools.  We get to meet the teachers, the administrators, the ‘scholars’, and the parents. I found the book very illuminating and recommend it highly.
There is a pretty short list of writers who Eva Moskowitz might trust enough to allow them to observe in a school for a year.  I’m glad that it was Pondiscio. He is one of the few reformers I have any respect for. We disagree on some things and we agree on some other things.  I even once went out to lunch with him and had a very pleasant time.
Before the book came out he wrote a blog post on The74 called “I Just Wrote a Book About Success Academy Charter Schools. It Does Not Support Your Preferred Narrative. I Hope You Hate It.”  Not to dash his hopes, but I, for one, did not hate it. Overall I thought it was great which means that only reformers who are willing to be honest with themselves will actually hate this book.
One premise of the book is that the fundamental secret to Success Academy’s amazing standardized test scores, mentioned throughout the work is the filtering of the right families.  On page 266 he writes “The common criticism leveled at Moskowitz and her schools is that they cherry pick students, attracting bright children and shedding the CONTINUE READING: How The Other 1/300th Learns | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

Sunday, September 22, 2019

“Sustainability” for Financiers: What Climate Marchers Need to Know About the UN Sustainable Development Goals – Wrench in the Gears

“Sustainability” for Financiers: What Climate Marchers Need to Know About the UN Sustainable Development Goals – Wrench in the Gears

“Sustainability” for Financiers: What Climate Marchers Need to Know About the UN Sustainable Development Goals

I’m writing the day after the climate strike. With so many people taking to the streets, it made me wonder how much people actually know about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs)? Why is that important? Well, there are powerful interests seeking to misdirect people who want to do the right thing. If we go down the wrong path, irreversible harm will be inflicted in the name of “carbon trading,” “green” growth, “financial-inclusion,” and “resilient cities.”

In 2009 the UN advanced a Global Green Deal. The policy brief was prepared in the aftermath of the housing crisis with the intention of directing stimulus money into “green” economic activities managed through the World Bank, centering technology and innovative finance. 2009 was also the year the Global Impact Investment Network was founded, having been shepherded along by former University of Pennsylvania president Judith Rodin and the Rockefeller Foundation. It now has over 20,000 members.
Today, the United Nations Development Program is working in cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to set global standards for impact measurement that will drive investment, in part, into SDG projects. This effort, the Impact Management Project, has too many participants to list (2,000!) but includes Ronald Cohen’s Social Finance, Bain spin-off Bridgespan, and Larry Fink’s Blackrock, the largest asset manager in the world.
Clearly there is an endless supply of money to throw at the environmental crisis, but only if profit can be readily captured for those who already have most of the resources. Capturing that profit means data, and in today’s CONTINUE READING: “Sustainability” for Financiers: What Climate Marchers Need to Know About the UN Sustainable Development Goals – Wrench in the Gears


Now In the Minority, A School Board Member Changes His Tune

Now In the Minority, A School Board Member Changes His Tune

Now In the Minority, A School Board Member Changes His Tune

The means of one’s success can become the means of one’s downfall.


As the Vice-President of the LAUSD School Board, Nick Melvoin constantly reminded the minority members of their status and how if they wanted a say they would need to win elections. This majority pushed through the hiring of Superintendent Austin Beutner without bothering to build consensus and asked the district attorney to investigate Scott Schmerelson when in an act that promoted transparency he dared to tell the public about what went on behind the scenes during the hiring process.
With the conviction of Ref Rodriguez and the election of Jackie Goldberg to replace him, Melvoin’s block has lost its majority status. Now, the lawyer from the West Side is singing a different tune. Apparently, policies should no longer be dictated by the majority. Instead, we should have “collaboration.”


Melvoin sits on the LAUSD Board because supporters of the California Charter School Association (CCSA) spent millions on a dirty campaign against former Board President Steve Zimmer. This race wasn’t based on policy. Instead, the charter school industry was not CONTINUE READING: Now In the Minority, A School Board Member Changes His Tune


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ALEC Issues A Report Card, But Still Fails

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the corporate Match.com for wealthy mover-shakers and legislators looking for someone to do their homework together. Among their many favorite issues is education, and to that end, ALEC trots out a report card every year rating the states. It is not unlike a sort of businessperson's prospect overview, and it contains a mountain of thinly sliced b
Why Directing Community Theater Is Like Teaching

Readers of this blog generally get a dose of whatever is on my mind, and what's on my mind at the moment is theater. I'm coming down to the wire on one more community theater production; The Music Man opens one week from tomorrow (by all means, feel free to stop by ). I've been doing this and school theater for thirty-some years, and yes, it's an awful lot like teaching. Once we get the obvious ou

SEP 18

PA: Zombie Board Says Charter Free To Do Whatever The Heck It Wants

In education, as in most things, Philadelphia is its own little state-within-the-state. The public system has a long and messy history , including a state takeover. The district is often used as Exhibit A for pro-choice legislators ("But we must give the poor children of Philadelphia a way to escape their terrible school system even as we refuse to adequately fund that system!") and is consequentl

SEP 17

OH: Meaningless School Grades And Money

Over at Cleveland.com , Rich Exner has done yeoman's work taking Ohio's school ratings and connecting them with census information from the US Census Bureaus 2017 American Communities Survey. Ohio is another one of those states that believes it can reduce the entire issue of a school's quality to a single letter grade. This is a dumb idea, and there is no state that has ever implemented it in whi
Yes, Teachers Are Spending Money On Their Own Classrooms

Like the cost of a romantic date at Valentine's Day or the price of the Twelve Days of Christmas, the amount of money that teachers spend on their own classroom has become a reliable seasonal story. This year the word is that o n average teachers spend, depending on your source, somewhere between $400 and $500. But that's not the whole story. The Economic Policy Institute has crunched the numbers

SEP 16

Chiefs For Change Would Like You To Shut Up

Chiefs For Change caused a brief flurry of attention by whinging a demand that people talk nicer about their pet projects . It's just one more sad episode for a group that was supposed to be Jeb Bush's Educational Justice League of America. It's been over three years since the last time I noticed they were headed downhill: That's how you glower! Pity the Chiefs for Change. They were destined to be

SEP 15

ICYMI: My Wife's Birthday Edition (9/15)

Happy birthday to one of the best people ever to walk on the face of the earth! But you can have cake and read some worthwhile education pieces as well. So here you go-- AI in Education Hype John Warner takes a look at one more technological product in search of a problem to "solve." Effects of the Flipped Classroom An Annenberg working paper suggests that there are no big benefits to flipping, a

SEP 13

DeVos Saying The Quiet Parts Out Loud

Betsy DeVos will be kicking off her "Back To School" tour next week. And it will start by announcing loudly and clearly what her preferred goal for education is. No reading between the lines will be necessary. The announcement notes that she will head to Milwaukee, "home of the first-ever education freedom program that allowed parents, no matter their income, to select the school that was the best


Dammit, Chan-Zuckerberg! Not Elmo, Too! (And Not Philanthropy, Either.)

If you haven't been paying particularly close attention, you may have missed the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative slowly inserting its hyper-wealthy proboscis into a hundred different corners of modern life, using its not-quite-philanthropy LLC 
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