Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Fla GOP making schools separate and unequal again - YouTube

Fla GOP making schools separate and unequal again - YouTube

Fla GOP making schools separate and unequal again 

Florida Senate Republicans unveiled their education plan this week, and it’s looking very much like the governor’s.
Among the proposals, an expansion of the school voucher program, allowing general revenue taxes, which provide public school funding, to be spent on private school tuition.
The Florida Supreme Court already determined in 2006 that general funds could not be used on vouchers, because they create “an alternative system of private schools that are not subject to the ‘uniformity’ requirements for public schools.”
Lawmakers have gotten around the ruling by issuing tax credits for companies that contribute to non-profits that, in turn, fund the scholarships.
The recent appointment of three conservative justices to the state supreme court almost guarantees a favorable ruling for vouchers this time around.
Public schools are graded based on how well students score on highly controversial, scientifically unfounded standardized tests. But private schools don’t have to do that.
No accountability means private schools can claim a 100% graduation rate and not have to prove students have learned anything.
“The Orlando Sentinel [has] published stories detailing how private schools that take state money used fraudulent fire and health reports and even hired untrained teachers, some with criminal records. These private schools also freely discriminate based on religion, disability, language skills, and even sexual orientation.”
Of course, this whole plan reeks of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who for decades have preached their school privatization gospel to Wall Street. Their network of education profiteers have spent $100s millions on political action committees and public disinformation campaigns. All so that a small group of wealthy investors can get even richer.

Article IX of the Florida constitution says that it is “a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provisions for the education of all children.”
But which children are we talking about here? Certainly not the ones who were denied an education from private schools last year for wearing a natural Black hairstyle, or for being gay, or for getting pregnant, or for no reason at all. At least not one they’ll admit to aloud.
And for once I’d like to see private schools take the disproportionate number of students with disabilities that public schools are required to service.
Oh! All of the sudden there’s a waiting list.
Funny how that works.

Fla GOP making schools separate and unequal again - YouTube

EPIC FAIL ANOTHER TYPE OF CHARTER SCHOOL: Arizona 'alternative' CHARTER Schools are failing at-risk students, Republic finds

Arizona 'alternative' schools are failing at-risk students, Republic finds

Arizona's at-risk students go to 'alternative' schools. Then the system fails them
The lowest-performing students end up in the Charter schools with the least accountability, according to an analysis by The Arizona Republic.

William Hollis enrolled his son at StarShine Academy because he hoped the school would offer Matthew more one-on-one attention.
The Phoenix K-12 school’s website advertised itself as a place where students would be prepared for “college, career, life.”
But the reality was different, Hollis said. Matthew got little attention during his middle school years there. He was sometimes handed a tablet as the teacher in the classroom "babysat." He fell behind.
Hollis had no idea that StarShine was one of the state’s more than 100 "alternative" schools, a separate system intended to serve Arizona's most vulnerable students but that instead has allowed poorly performing schools to avoid academic scrutiny.
For years, the state has exempted alternative schools from annual letter grades, the chief measure of academic performance in Arizona, meaning that parents and students are often unaware schools are failing. 
The result, according to an Arizona Republic analysis of state Department of Education records, is a system where the state's lowest-performing students end up in schools with the least public accountability and the lowest expectations for progress.
For failing schools, the alternative label can help them avoid closure for poor performance.
That label also allows the schools to misrepresent themselves as an innovative alternative for unconventional students when, in fact, the schools graduate only 28 percent of their students within four years, The Republicanalysis shows.
Matthew did not fit the state's definition of an at-risk student before he entered StarShine. But after StarShine, Matthew had fallen behind and become an at-risk student, Hollis said.
“It all started with StarShine,” he said. “That just threw him backwards.”

What is an alternative school? 

Alternative schools are both little-known and a significant area of Arizona public education.
Operated mostly by charter school owners, these schools are meant to serve students who struggle or are behind academically, according to the state's definition.
But they increasingly advertise themselves online, on TV, and even on highway billboards as a more flexible charter option for high-performing students.
And the schools are growing. Since 2010, the number of Arizona students enrolled in alternative charter schools has increased by nearly 40 percent, according to The Republic's analysis.
Matthew Hollis will be among at least 30,000 students attending alternative schools in Arizona next school year. Districts operate some of the schools, but charters enroll 86 percent of all alternative school students.
Despite this growth, oversight has remained lax.
The Arizona Department of Education, which regulates alternative schools, can’t accurately verify whether schools that apply for alternative status actually serve at-risk students, The Republic found.
And the agency has enabled failing schools like StarShine to use the alternative label to shield themselves from academic scrutiny, leaving parents in the dark as they decide where to send their children to school. CONTINUE READING: Arizona 'alternative' schools are failing at-risk students, Republic finds

Help NPE-Action Keep Score on the 2020 Presidential Candidates | Diane Ravitch's blog

Help NPE-Action Keep Score on the 2020 Presidential Candidates | Diane Ravitch's blog

Help NPE-Action Keep Score on the 2020 Presidential Candidates 

The Network for Public Education Action fund is developing a web-based score card for the 2020 presidential candidates.
We need YOUR help!
We want to keep score on where the candidates stand on issues that matter to students, teachers, parents, and public schools.
We want to know if they support public schools or if they support privatization.
We will keep the website updated based on the candidates’ public statements on television and at town halls.
We will check their funding reports to see if they are funded by the usual privatization-friendly billionaires and hedge-fund managers.
We urge you to attend their town halls and ask them questions about funding for public schools, about charters and vouchers, about testing, about federal policy requiring (unnecessary) annual testing, and about (unnecessary) federal funding for charter schools.
We need your help to keep our score care up to date once it is up and running.
We will not let education be forgotten in the 2020 race!
Climate change. Health care. Taxes. These are topics that 2020 Presidential hopefuls are happy to discuss.  But as important as these topics are, we cannot let our public schools be ignored.
In cities across this nation, public schools are disappearing. The city of New Orleans is now a system of privately run charter schools. Vouchers and voucher “workarounds” send taxpayer money from public schools to private and religious schools. Religious schools are flipping themselves into charter schools in order to get public funds. The Koch Brothers have promised to target five states in which they will work to make public education disappear.
Private “choice” is trumping public voice. Test scores are the rationale to shut and shutter community schools even though charter school test scores are not better than those of public schools, and studies show that students who leave public schools with vouchers often do worse.
The Network for Public Education Action’s 2020 Candidates Project will make sure that the issue of school privatization is not ignored. We will grade candidates on their positions regarding charter schools, vouchers, and high-stakes testing. We will grade them by how much they take from the billionaires who believe in the privatization of public schools and score each candidate on the company they keep. They can run for office but they can’t hide from the hard questions we will ask about school privatization.
Help NPE-Action Keep Score on the 2020 Presidential Candidates | Diane Ravitch's blog

At What Point Do We Stop Blaming Teachers? - Teacher Habits

At What Point Do We Stop Blaming Teachers? - Teacher Habits

At What Point Do We Stop Blaming Teachers?

At the beginning of this school year, TNTP released a report called, The Opportunity Myth, in which they repeated a golden oldie from the reform agenda’s playlist:  Public schools suck and it’s mostly because public school teachers suck. They didn’t come right out and say that, of course, but it’s hard to interpret the report’s introduction any other way. Judge for yourself:
Far too many students graduate from high school still unprepared for the lives they want to lead. They enroll in college and land in remedial courses, or start jobs and discover they’re missing skills they need. We wanted to understand why.
To do this, we followed nearly 4,000 students in five diverse school systems to learn more about their experiences. What we found was unnerving: classroom after classroom filled with A and B students whose big goals for their lives are slipping further away each day, unbeknownst to them and their families—not because they can’t master challenging material, but because they’re rarely given a real chance to try.
In fact, most students—and especially students of color, those from low-income families, those with mild to moderate CONTINUE READING: At What Point Do We Stop Blaming Teachers? - Teacher Habits

Teach for America Supplements Lost Money for Oakland TFAers on Strike | deutsch29

Teach for America Supplements Lost Money for Oakland TFAers on Strike | deutsch29

Teach for America Supplements Lost Money for Oakland TFAers on Strike

One of the complications of ed reform is that its enlistees might just try to assert themselves, even in the face of being told (subtly or otherwise) that their ed reform org involvement has some fine print to which they were not privy upon signing on.
Such is the case of Teach for America (TFA) in California’s bay area, where Oakland teachers are on strike as of Thursday, February 21, 2019. The fine print in this case is that TFAers signed on for TFA’s two-year teaching stint with the lure of thousands of dollars in support from AmeriCorps, an organization that is set to pull its funds from those TFAers should they decide to participate in the strike.
Now, TFA says it neither endorses nor opposes the rights of its recruits to strike, and it is not TFA taking away funds; it’s AmeriCorps doing so.
Hence the following letter dated February 12, 2019, to TFA from the recruits that could be affected:
See the list of signatories to our public letter to TFA:
TFA Bay Area:
Thank you for meeting with our group of concerned alumni yesterday. Our takeaway from the conversation was that because TFA is an AmeriCorps program, corps members can not participate in a strike and that TFA has left it up to corps members to determine individual responses to this context.
Whereas TFA invited young people into a profession based on an expectation of a supplemental education award via AmeriCorps membership without explicitly informing them of the limits this affiliation places on their ability to participate in labor actions, we demand that Teach For America cover the lost award amount for any corps member who temporarily unenrolls in AmeriCorps so as to stand on the picket line during the anticipated teacher strike in Oakland. This action taken by Teach For America would show seriously that it recognizes corps member obligation CONTINUE WORKING: Teach for America Supplements Lost Money for Oakland TFAers on Strike | deutsch29

The Myth of the Super TFA Teacher is Crushed by TFA’s Own Research | GFBrandenburg's Blog

The Myth of the Super TFA Teacher is Crushed by TFA’s Own Research | GFBrandenburg's Blog

The Myth of the Super TFA Teacher is Crushed by TFA’s Own Research

study conducted in Texas with the cooperation of Teach for America claims to pretend that TFA teachers are more effective than their peers. We’ve all heard this claim before, including from frauds like Michelle Rhee, who made up fables about her mythical and fantastic successes during her three years as a TFA newbie in Baltimore.
However, the facts and tables in the report itself shows exactly the opposite, at least for TFA members who are in their first two years (and for many of them, their only two years) in the classroom.
For example, look at the following tables, which I cut and pasted from the report:
how TFA teachers compare with their peers
Notice what the data is saying in the first four bar graphs above. Dark blue means that the students of that group of TFA teachers were significantly more likely to pass the STAAR test than the students of other, matched, non-TFA teachers. Black means that CONTINUE READING: The Myth of the Super TFA Teacher is Crushed by TFA’s Own Research | GFBrandenburg's Blog

Louisiana Educator: Louisiana Education's Myth of High Standards

Louisiana Educator: Louisiana Education's Myth of High Standards

Louisiana Education's Myth of High Standards
If there is one thing Louisiana State Superintendent John White stands for its higher standards!

In 2012 Governor Jindal and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) engineered the appointment of John White (An individual with basically zero education credentials) to the office of State Superintendent. The one thing they expected him to implement were higher standards. Accordingly, in numerous presentations White often emphatically makes the case for higher standards. It is an article of faith to reformers such as White that if standards are set high, then teachers and students will rise to meet them. This post examines the standards that White has established for Louisiana students and the real achievement levels accomplished.

At the same time that John White was in the process of being appointed, Louisiana was in the middle of adopting the new Common Core Standards. This was a set of academic standards primarily in math and Language Arts that were considered tougher and more appropriate to prepare our kids for life. It was believed that if our students were required to master these tougher standards that they would be better prepared for college and careers.

Much of the project for the adoption of the new standards was promoted by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, whose support was obtained by a brief  high level meeting between the Gates' and the creators of the standards. The Obama administration was sold on the project by his outspoken Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. (Another person with no real experience in teaching) The Federal government then found ways around the law prohibiting the Department of Education from mandating curriculum by handing out a lot of money to states that "voluntarily" adopted the program. Louisiana adopted the standards, sight unseen, before they were even written.

Never mind that the Common Core standards had been hurriedly CONTINUE READING: 
Louisiana Educator: Louisiana Education's Myth of High Standards

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: So Long, February Edition (2/24)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: So Long, February Edition (2/24)

ICYMI: So Long, February Edition

Well, that just flew by. Here's a good batch of reading from the week. Remember, if it speaks to you, help it speak to somebody else.

Betsy DeVos vs. Student Veterans

By easing up on predatory for-profit colleges, DeVos has really stuck it to veterans trying to get an education.

TFA Celebrates New Research That Suggests That Corps Members Are Ineffective Teacher

Gary Rubinstein takes a look at TFA's odd choice of research to get excited.

A Teacher's Student Loans Were Forgiven. Then FedLoan Wrecked His Credit

An infuriating tale that highlights just how screwed up this loan program is these days.

This Personalized Ed Program That Was Supposed To Boost Scores Didn't Work 

Teach To One was supposed to totally work the personalized [sic] education magic. A new study says no, not so much.

Oakland Public School Teachers Are Striking Against Billionaire Privatizers 

Jacobin takes a look at the Oakland strike and the real issues driving it.

Are Texas Kids Failing, or Is The Staar Test Rigged?

Yet another Big Standardized Test turns out to be written at inappropriate grade levels.

Boon Or Black Hole: PA Private School Scholarship Program Considers Expansion

PA has its own tax credit scholarship program that is either awesome or disastrous, depending on whether you ask someone benefiting from it or anyone else. Now the move is on to make it bigger.

Kentucky Charter Schools Funding Shelved For Another Year

A recap/update on Kentucky's unique charter compromise-- they've created a charter law, but they won't fund it. That tradition will continue in 2019.

Charter Takeover In Atlanta Struggled

For the gazzilionth time, some school takeover experts discover that it's not nearly as easy to turn schools around as they said it would be.

P&G's Partnership With Strive

What does Cincinnati have to do with building the cradle-to-career pipeline?

I'm a Loser Baby, So Why Don't You Kill Me

Think you've read the last word on Don Jr's teacher comment. Read what Nancy Flanagan has to say last.

John White Speaks At San Francisco TFA Board Meeting

Why is the guy who helped trash public education in Louisiana talking to TFA on the left coast? Mercedes Schneider has your answer.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: So Long, February Edition (2/24)

TN: Market Forces Are Not Magical
Shelby County is running up against two of the fallacies embedded in most charter school policy. One is the modern charter policy lie-- the notion that you can run multiple parallel school systems with the same money that used to run one system. The other is that charter systems don't need a lot of regulation because the invisible hand of the market will take care of it all. Shelby County Schools
Charter Schools Are Not Public Schools
Modern charter schools prefer to attach the word "public" to their descriptions. Many of the charter advocacy groups include "public charter" in their title. And truthfully, there are no regulations attached to the term--any school can attach the word "public" to its title without having to worry about any sort of penalty. So technically, any charter school can call itself a public school. Heck,

FEB 22

OH: Lorain, HB 70, And A Reformy Attack
I began my career in Lorain, Ohio, so the ever-spinning mess there is of personal interest to me. But it is also a picture of much of the damage being inflicted on public education in the name of reform. This is going to be a really long read, the longest I've ever posted on this blog, but it's a story worth telling, because here we find most of the problems of ed reform on display. I: Lorain Back

FEB 20

What Is Your State's Grade For Data Privacy Protection?
If data is the new oil, then schools are the new Ghawar field . Nearly every single person in a generation passes through a school, and virtually all of them encounter computer-based technology. And everything that a computer assesses, measures, and facilitates, it can also record and store. You may think that such data is fiercely protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA

FEB 18

Wasting Time In School
It's tax season, so it's time for this sort of meme-- These are just another version the compliant that teachers hear all the time-- why are we learning this? When am I ever going to use it? Every discipline has its own version. English-- when will I ever need to know subjects and verbs? Math-- when will I ever need to know the quadratic equation? Phys ed-- when will I ever have to do a shuttle ru

FEB 17

ICYMI: Winter Is Forever Edition (2/17)
I do this every Sunday, so you can skip back week by week, or just search "ICYMI" in the search bar in the upper left to read some of the good stuff coming from other writers in the education world. Remember to share-- that's how this stuff gets around and finds the audience it should have. Rahm Emanuel's Non-Apolgy for Being School Privatization Cheerleader Rahm released an essay that was billed

FEB 15

PA: The Death of Cyber Charters (Maybe, Finally)
In the entire education ocean, cyber charters continue to be a festering garbage patch, and a recently proposed bill could clean them out of Pennsylvania. It is not that cyber charters could not be useful for a select group of students with special needs. But in the whole panoply of failed reform ideas, none have failed harder and more thoroughly than cyber charters. In fact, they have failed so h

FEB 14

Speedbumps on the Road to Curriculum's Golden Age
Among the recent shifts in reform thought is one to a focus on curriculum and content, and I don't hate it. One of the hugely screwed up features of the last two decades has been the content-stripped focus on hollow skills. Reading is not a set of skills that can somehow be taught and practiced in a content-free vacuum, but that's what we've been trying to do for most of the 21st century, so far.

FEB 12

NY: Parents Call For Charter Pause and Evaluation
NYC school district's parent board has come out in opposition to raising New York's charter school cap. Will Governor Cuomo hear them? The New York City schools are under mayoral control (never, ever, an ideal system), so they have no school boards. What they do have is thirty-six Community Education Councils composed of elected parents. Those CECs in turn have an Education Council Consortium, com

FEB 11

The Problem with "Monopoly."
A standard piece of charter/choice rhetoric is to refer to the public school monopoly, the suggestion being that school choice is needed in order to break the public school stranglehold. I'd argue that the term is not accurate, that it suggests a single nationwide education entity that imply doesn't exist. Can an enterprise be a monopoly if it's actually several thousand individual entities? But t

FEB 10

ICYMI: Valentine's Edition (2/10)
A handful of worthwhile reads this week. Remember to share! Defining High Quality Curriculum Nancy Flanagan wants to know why curriculum is supposed to be so hard for actual teachers. Charter Schools Are Pushing Public Education To The Brink Jeff Bryant looks at how badly charter schools squeeze public school finances. (Spoiler alert: pretty badly) Active Shooter Drills A reminder, if you need one

FEB 09

Field Guide To Strike Objectors
In my four decades of teaching, I went through a strike twice--once as a first year teacher, and once as the president of the local union. Writing about education, I have followed dozens more. No matter what kind of public support a strike is getting, there are always some familiar tunes you can expect to hear played in opposition to a teacher walkout. Here's your guide to all the classics. Don't

FEB 08

IA: Choice Is Taxation Without Representation
An Iowa state senator has caught on to one of the problematic side effects of many choice programs-- disenfranchised taxpayers. Or, as somebody put it a while ago, taxation without representation. Iowa has long allowed open enrollment; an Iowa family can enroll their student in any public school district, whether they live there or not. Currently the full per-pupil expenditure follows the student-

FEB 07

DC: Charter Leaders Make The Big Bucks
It's a phenomenon noted in many urban education-scapes. The leaders (CEO, Education Visionary, Grand High Muckity Muck, whatever) of a charter operation makes far more money than a) the local public school superintendent responsible for far more students and b) the teachers who work within the charter. But a recent Washington City Paper article by Rachel Cohen lays out some stark examples. The art
Count Them As They Go
I'm asked from time to time (mostly, I think, because some people are curious but reluctant to ask) what it's like to be in my particular spot in life. Retired from teaching, sixty-one years old, raising two babies about thirty years after I raised two other babies-- as my wife and I have said at various times over the last decade, we are kind of off the map here. So my honest answer is that I'm f

FEB 06

Portfolio School Management For Dummies
One of the issues that was hanging over the Los Angeles teacher strike is the idea of portfolio management; the UTLA asserts that Superintendent Austin Beutner already has a plan prepared for converting the LAUSD to a multi-portfolio model. In Denver, the model has already been rolled out, to less than stellar result . It's a challenging issue to discuss because so few people understand exactly h

FEB 05

Hammering the Littles: Are The Kids Really All Right?
The headline says " Kindergarten classes are getting more academic. New research says the kids are all right. " The news is that a big shiny new study shows that the increasingly academic approach to kindergarten is okee dokee. The quick take is that the study followed 20,000 kindergarten students and found that they both achieved academically and their social and emotional development was just fi

FEB 04

Reclaiming Choice
So we just froze our way through School Choice Week, the annual PR blitz in favor of privatizing public education, and I find myself troubled and annoyed by the word "choice." See, I favor choice. In all my years at our tiny small town/rural high school, we'v e graduated students who went on to become doctors, artists, teachers, welders, construction workers, lawyers, telephone linemen, and jobs y

FEB 03

ICYMI: Really Big List Edition (2/3)
Was it the cold? Did we all just have more time to wander the internet? I don't know, but it's a huge list this week. Remember to share-- that's how the word gets out. LA Strike: Charters Are An Existential Threat To Public Education The LA strike was extraordinary in that it addressed so much more than wages and benefits, but also addressed policy as well. Here's a good look at where the LA chart

FEB 01

Measuring Success: A Study in Contrasts
Two items tossed my feed this week that underline contrasting ideas about what constitutes success in education. First, let's go to the Jackson-Madison County school system of Tennessee. At JMCSS folks are pretty excited