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Thursday, March 28, 2019

NEA - U.S. Senate approves bill recognizing education support professionals and classified school employees

NEA - U.S. Senate approves bill recognizing education support professionals and classified school employees

U.S. Senate approves bill recognizing education support professionals and classified school employees
Legislation creates national, annual award program for ESPs

WASHINGTON - March 28, 2019 -
The U.S. Senate today approved the Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act (H.R. 276), legislation that provides long-overdue recognition for the outstanding contributions of education support professionals and classified school employees to the nation’s public schools and the students they serve. The legislation directs the U.S. Secretary of Education to establish a national award program recognizing the excellence exhibited by public school system employees who provide services to students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The National Education Association already annually recognizes such educators with its prestigious Education Support Professionals (ESP) of the Year award.
"Education support professionals are an integral part of the nation’s public education system and the more than 50 million students it serves," said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. "They often are the first in the building and the last to leave. They promote student achievement, ensure student safety, and contribute to the establishment and promotion of a positive instructional environment every day."
"Our school support staff are fully committed to student success," said Matthew Powell, the 2019 NEA ESP of the Year, and a custodial supervisor, special events bus driver, and night watchman at Central Elementary School in Mayfield, Kentucky. "Although they seldom seek the spotlight, I am pleased this national award will increase the awareness of the important roles they play because our ESPs have a depth of knowledge and experience that, when paired with their hearts for students, can make a tremendous and positive difference."
There are almost 3 million classified education support employees in our nation’s public schools, colleges, and universities and they make up one-third of the public education workforce.

"Whether driving a bus, working a computer lab, assisting a teacher in the classroom, serving lunch to students, or making sure the building is clean and healthy, they work hard every day knowing the important role they play in creating learning environments that help students reach their fullest potential. They are the gears that keep school operations moving," continued Eskelsen García.
"After many years by educators of advocating for such a national award, Congress is right to recognize the unsung and often unseen heroes of the education professions – education support professionals and classified school employees. In particular, we thank Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) for sponsoring the bill as well as the members from both sides of the political aisle of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. This long-overdue bill appropriately respects and rightly acknowledges the hard work, dedication, skills, and expertise of our ESPs," concluded Eskelsen García.
Of NEA’s 3 million members, almost 500,000 are Education Support Professionals represented in the following nine career families:
  • Clerical services
  • Custodial and maintenance services
  • Food services
  • Health and student services
  • Paraeducators
  • Security services
  • Skilled trade services
  • Technical services
  • Transportation services
For more information on education support professionals, visit:
                                 Follow us on twitter @NEAMedia and @NEArESPect
The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.
CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez
(202) 822-7823,
NEA - U.S. Senate approves bill recognizing education support professionals and classified school employees

How Charter Schools Lost Real Democrats' Support

How Charter Schools Lost Democrats' Support

How Charter Schools Lost Real Democrats' Support

Last December, after two years of negotiation that hadn’t produced a contract, the United Teachers of Los Angeles took to the streets. Thousands of them marched in their red shirts past the glimmering towers of revitalized downtown Los Angeles. They finished their march at The Broad, a contemporary art museum where union leaders held a rally before dismissing the crowd. Their demands were clear: smaller class sizes and a limit to the explosive growth of charter schools. 
The final destination was as deliberate as the demands. The target of their rage was Eli Broad, the billionaire philanthropist who is a modern-day Medici in Los Angeles. He backs the arts. His bid to buy the Los Angeles Times was widely supported by locals. And his museum attracts nearly a million visitors a year. But as labor negotiations slowed and then stalled last year, the teachers turned their anger toward the city’s civic hero. The reason was simple: Broad is a passionate supporter of charter schools.
California is home to 1,306 charters -- more than any other state in the country. And Los Angeles is the state’s most fertile ground for these schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District has 277 of them. Control of the nation’s second-largest school district rests with its school board, where Broad has wielded influence for years. In the last two election cycles he gave more than $2 million to school board candidates. After the 2017 campaign -- the most expensive school board election in the nation’s history -- yielded a 4-3 pro-charter majority, Broad’s influence over the school district grew even stronger. The board picked as its new school superintendent Austin Beutner, an investment banker with no experience running a school district or even a school, but with close connections to Broad, who had helped Beutner land a job as L.A.’s deputy mayor. Beutner, like Broad, is a charter supporter, having served on the boards of several charter operations.
With the labor dispute in its second year, Beutner pushed a plan to reshape the school system. He proposed forming 32 networks across the district, meant to foster a decentralization of power. Autonomy would be returned to the schools and, by extension, to parents. But to the powerful teachers union in Los Angeles, Beutner’s plan was a move toward still more charters and to school privatization. “Decentralization is a common refrain in so-called portfolio districts -- like New Orleans, Newark and Detroit -- cities that are riddled with a patchwork of privatization schemes that do not improve student outcomes,” the union said in a statement released in November. “Clusters of schools compete against each other for resources and support, creating a system of haves and have nots and exacerbating segregation and equity issues.” 

Beutner’s plan galvanized the anti-charter forces. Parents joined teachers on the picket lines, swelling the ranks of those who descended on The Broad museum to roughly 50,000 on the day of the march. “The thing Beutner didn’t see,” says Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers union, “was the overwhelming support of traditional public schools in Los Angeles.” 
Mayor Eric Garcetti broke the labor stalemate in January, forging a deal between the union and Beutner. The union got a commitment to the smaller class sizes it had long demanded. And the mayor, who had once called for the expansion of charter schools in Los Angeles, got the school board to vote up-or-down on a union-backed resolution asking the state to place a cap on charter schools. In short, Garcetti delivered a win for the teachers in a place where the charter movement had won some of its most significant victories. The school board eventually approved the resolution calling for the charter cap in a 5 to 1 vote. In February, state leaders agreed to form a task force to examine the fiscal impact charter schools have on traditional public school funding. The union claims that charters drain resources from regular public schools.  
The concessions by the school district didn’t happen in a vacuum. From coast to coast, the charter movement has seen its political support declining, especially among progressive Democrats. The movement was CONTINUE READING: How Charter Schools Lost Democrats' Support

Big Education Ape: California: Now Is the Time to Reform Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog -

California: Now Is the Time to Reform Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog

California: Now Is the Time to Reform Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog

California: Now Is the Time to Reform Charter Schools

California has more charter schools and students than any other state, due to its size and its notoriously weak charter law. Add to that a progressive Governor with a blind spot for charters (Jerry Brown opened two when he was mayor of Oakland) and to a gaggle of billionaires in both parties who favor privatization.
in the new report by the Network for Public Education, Asleep At the Wheel, California was home to a large proportion of phantom charters. An amazing 39% of federally funded charters in California either never opened or closed soon after opening.
A new organization has been founded in California to encourage charter school reform, which can happen only by revising the state charter law.
The organization is “Reform Charter Schools.”
What a difference two California strikes make — Reform Charter Schools started in 2016 when the environment for demanding that charter schools function under the same rules as neighborhood public schools was much more hostile. Some brave activists in Orange County were among the first to call out charter corruption. Now the group has rebooted to spread the message that even ordinary well-run charters defund and depopulate public schools by virtue of their business model.
Reform Charter Schools has developed a place for people to read about and learn what the bills say as they go through the committee process, and a petition calling for strong charter accountability here:
The site has resources for those who want to launch their own school board resolution to call for a moratorium on charters, and is starting to offer the petition in multiple languages. (The simplified Chinese version to sign is here.) Some pro-public ed grassroots groups have already started meeting with their Assembly representatives.
Californians, go to Reform Charter Schools and get the ball rolling.
Links for all of the above in case they don’t copy over, in the order they appear:

California: Now Is the Time to Reform Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog

“A case for why both sides in the ‘reading wars’ debate are wrong — and a proposed solution” Is 50% Wrong | radical eyes for equity

“A case for why both sides in the ‘reading wars’ debate are wrong — and a proposed solution” Is 50% Wrong | radical eyes for equity

“A case for why both sides in the ‘reading wars’ debate are wrong — and a proposed solution” Is 50% Wrong

In her The Answer Sheet, Valerie Strauss offers yet another post about the current Reading War/Crisis: A case for why both sides in the ‘reading wars’ debate are wrong — and a proposed solution.
Strauss explains before offering the long post:
This is an unusual post about the “reading wars,” that seemingly never-ending battle about how to best teach reading to students — systematic phonics or whole language. This argues that both sides have it wrong, and the authors, two brothers who are literacy experts, suggest a new way.
While this is a provocative, often nuanced, and compelling, it makes a fatal flaw common in the seemingly never-ending false war between phonics and whole language by misdefining whole language and then failing to take care when citing research that seems to show neither systematic phonics nor whole language are more effective than the other.
First, let me offer an example of this type of failure in a slightly different context, the powerful and complicated work of Lisa Delpit.
Delpit has made for many years a strong case about the inequity of educational opportunities that cheat black students (as well as many other vulnerable populations). At times, Delpit’s work has been co-opted by traditional advocates for education—notably those calling for intensive phonics and isolated grammar instruction.
Here, Delpit make a very direct refuting of that sort of co-opting:
I do not advocate a simplistic ‘basic skills’ approach for children outside of the culture of power. It would be (and has been) tragic to operate as if these children were incapable of critical and higher-order thinking and reasoning. Rather, I suggest that schools must provide these children the CONTINUE READING: “A case for why both sides in the ‘reading wars’ debate are wrong — and a proposed solution” Is 50% Wrong | radical eyes for equity

Does Homework Work? - The Atlantic

Does Homework Work? - The Atlantic

The Cult of Homework
America’s devotion to the practice stems in part from the fact that it’s what today’s parents and teachers grew up with themselves

America has long had a fickle relationship with homework. A century or so ago, progressive reformers argued that it made kids unduly stressed, which later led in some cases to district-level bans on it for all grades under seventh. This anti-homework sentiment faded, though, amid mid-century fears that the U.S. was falling behind the Soviet Union (which led to more homework), only to resurface in the 1960s and ’70s, when a more open culture came to see homework as stifling play and creativity (which led to less). But this didn’t last either: In the ’80s, government researchers blamed America’s schools for its economic troubles and recommended ramping homework up once more.
The 21st century has so far been a homework-heavy era, with American teenagers now averaging about twice as much time spent on homework each day as their predecessors did in the 1990s. Even little kids are asked to bring school home with them. A 2015 study, for instance, found that kindergarteners, who researchers tend to agree shouldn’t have any take-home work, were spending about 25 minutes a night on it.
But not without pushback. As many children, not to mention their parents and teachers, are drained by their daily workload, some schools and districts are rethinking how homework should work—and some teachers are doing away with it entirely. They’re reviewing the research on homework (which, it should be noted, is contested) and concluding that it’s time to revisit the subject.

Hillsborough, California, an affluent suburb of San Francisco, is one district that has changed its ways. The district, which includes three elementary schools and a middle school, worked with teachers and convened panels of parents in order to come up with a homework policy that would allow students more unscheduled time to spend with their families or to play. In August 2017, it rolled out an updated policy, which emphasized that homework should be “meaningful” and banned due dates that fell on the day after a weekend or a break.
“The first year was a bit bumpy,” says Louann Carlomagno, the district’s superintendent. She says the adjustment was at times hard for the teachers, some of whom had been doing their job in a similar fashion for a quarter of a century. Parents’ expectations were also an issue. Carlomagno says they took some time to “realize that it was okay not to have an hour of homework for a CONTINUE READING: Does Homework Work? - The Atlantic

SAT and ACT costs: Why college admission testing is so expensive - Vox

SAT and ACT costs: Why college admission testing is so expensive - Vox

The cost of taking the SAT and ACT, explained
The SAT’s baseline price is $47.50 and the ACT’s is $50.50. Where does that money go?

It costs a lot of money to get into college. There’s the cost of high school extracurriculars and test prep, all the things that are supposed to give a student a better shot at getting into the “best” school. There’s trips to visit potential schools to prove that your student is deeply interested in attending. There’s bribery for “side door” acceptance, if you’re into that sort of thing. But even if you don’t spend thousands on upping your potential to get into college, there’s one cost that is basically unavoidable: the cost of taking the SAT or ACT.
The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and ACT (originally American College Testing) are standardized tests that are functionally mandatory for admission at many colleges across the country, from elite universities to community college. Currently, it costs $47.50 to take the SAT ($64.50 with the Essay portion), and $22 for each of the SAT subject tests, not including the $26 registration fee. The ACT costs $50.50 ($67 with the Writing portion), and for each test there are extra costs for late registration. Advanced Placement (AP) tests cost $94. Fee waivers are available, but considering most college counselors suggest students take these tests multiple times, odds are many students and their families are paying hundreds of dollars just to be considered, turning college testing into a billion dollar industry.
Recently, these tests made the news again in the college admissions scandal centered around “counselor” William “Rick” Singer. Part of this particular scam involved bribed proctors either allowing professionals to take these tests in place of students, or editing the test results before sending them in. And thus, a decades-old conversation about bias and corruption in college testing — and whether the SAT and ACT should exist at all — was given a shot of adrenaline.
The college testing industry is run by two nonprofits: the College Board, which develops the SAT, PSAT, and AP curriculum, and ACT Inc., which administers the test of the same name. And for decades, the two have been accused of abusing their nonprofit status by holding a monopoly on college testing and, thus, admission. However, in recent years, more colleges and universities have been deeming these entrance tests optional or entirely unnecessary, often in order to promote a more diverse applicant pool — and to weed out unfair advantages. Even without a crime ring, “Well-to-do people buy their kids all kinds of advantages,” Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “These so-called objective numbers are very easily manipulated in a way that creates a tilted playing field.”
Schools going test-optional, or eliminating them altogether, could mean a huge blow to the big business of testing. Or it could just drastically change the way the system is gamed. CONTINUE READING: SAT and ACT costs: Why college admission testing is so expensive - Vox

Struggling districts profit by approving charter schools with little oversight - Los Angeles Times

Struggling districts profit by approving charter schools with little oversight - Los Angeles Times

Struggling districts profit by approving charter schools with little oversight

The superintendent’s plan was born of necessity.
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, as tax revenue plummeted, small school districts across California quickly felt the pain. Many were already lean, where administrators did the work of two or three, and students were counted in tens, not thousands. The economic collapse threatened their very existence.
In Superintendent Brent Woodard’s rural district, which covered the towns of Acton and Agua Dulce about 45 miles north of Los Angeles, enrollment in 2013 had fallen by more than a quarter over five years. The area’s population had aged, the birthrate declined and some students were choosing to attend schools outside the district. Without increasing revenue or making harmful cuts, the district was facing insolvency and the threat of a state takeover.
In California’s charter school law, Woodard saw financial salvation.
In the years to come, some would praise his creativity. Others would accuse him of embarrassing the district. Everyone agreed that his strategy was entrepreneurial, though not everyone meant it as a compliment.
Woodard did not respond to several requests for comment. Court records detail how — methodically and rapidly — the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District began approving new charter schools. The first year, there were two. The next: 11. By 2017, the district, which operates only three schools of its own, had authorized 17 charter schools.

Some were located outside the district’s geographical boundaries, in places like L.A., Santa Clarita and Pasadena. Some were based entirely online.
Each charter brought the district something it badly needed: Money.
“It was common knowledge ... just go to [Acton-Agua Dulce], they’ll sponsor anyone,” said Ken Pfalzgraf, who won a seat on the district’s board in 2016.
Across California, other small districts hatched similar plans as word spread that they could fix their financial problems by approving certain types of charters and then charging them for a range of services.

State law allows school districts to charge charters fees that are meant to cover the cost of monitoring the schools, but it does not restrict how districts use the money. As a result, districts have spent charter oversight fees on sports coaches, textbooks and computers for their own schools.
When the California Legislature passed the Charter Schools Act in 1992, it was intended to introduce competition into public education as well as an incentive for districts to experiment. There was supposed to be a marketplace of ideas about new ways of teaching and learning. But what has evolved in some parts of the state resembles an actual marketplace in which charter schools can shop for lenient authorizers and school districts can rake in much-needed cash.
Before he was elected to the school board for Acton-Agua Dulce, Pfalzgraf recalls attending meetings and watching with growing concern as a line of charter operators sought approval to open new schools. He remembers those meetings as breezy, friendly affairs in which the CONTINUE READING: Struggling districts profit by approving charter schools with little oversight - Los Angeles Times

Teachers union lawsuit says layoff call made in closed session | The Sacramento Bee

Teachers union lawsuit says layoff call made in closed session | The Sacramento Bee

Lawsuit says Sacramento school district made teacher layoff decision behind closed doors

The city teachers union filed a lawsuit against the Sacramento City Unified School District on Monday, claiming the district unlawfully engaged in discussions regarding budget cuts in closed session meetings in recent months.
The Sacramento City Teachers Association lawsuit claims the financially-troubled district violated California’s open meeting law, which details the provisions of when and how the public can be excluded from closed session meetings, and what can be discussed during those meetings.
The teachers union said the district had closed session meetings in February and March, and then adopted resolutions for layoffs that relied on discussions around budgetary matters. The district voted to lay off 163 teachers in recent weeks in an effort to identify a $35 million budget gap and prevent a state takeover.
The provisions in the Ralph M. Brown Act allow for closed session meetings, but mandates discussion of “general budgetary matters in open session so that the board’s deliberations are open to the public and available for public scrutiny and input,” according to the lawsuit filed in Sacramento Superior Court.
The district denies the union’s allegations and said the focus should be on saving the district of 48,000 students from a state takeover.
“Although the district does not believe it has violated the Brown Act, we take these allegations seriously and will provide an appropriate response through the legal process,” read a statement from the district. “In the meantime, we will continue encouraging SCTA leaders to come to the table and commence negotiations that are focused on saving our schools.”
The union said the decision to lay off teachers should be “null and void.”
“If the district is to be believed, the school board is making huge decisions that will impact the CONTINUE READING: Teachers union lawsuit says layoff call made in closed session | The Sacramento Bee

Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all

Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all

Diane Ravitch's blog 
 A site to discuss better education for all

A Teacher in Arizona Reports on the Slow Strangulation of Public Schools

An Arizona Teacher left this comment: “I teach in an AZ public school–title 1 school. The poverty in this school is astonishing. This is my first year teaching in AZ after moving here from another state. I taught almost 20 years in a public school that was also a Title 1 school before moving to AZ. I have a lot of experience teaching in poverty schools. I have never seen anything as dysfunctional
John Merrow: Eight Fixes for the College Admissions Mess

John Merrow noted the intense media attention on the recent college admission scandal, where rich parents found ways to buy higher test scores or pay for guarantees of admissions by pretending they were star athletes or paying off coaches to ask for them to be admitted or hiring a ringer to take the SAT for them. He offers eight ways to repair the college admissions process. Here are a few of his
Tennessee Decides About Vouchers Today

Today is V-day in Tennessee. The Shelby County Board of Education (Memphis) opposes the plan, accurately protesting that the plan would divert dollars from their already underfunded schools. Meanwhile, six charter schools in Memphis have made a deal with the Catholic church to lease space, while pledging not to teach anything contrary to Catholic teaching. ”The Compass Community Schools network s
Texas: New Study Finds That Readability Levels on State Tests are Misaligned

A new study of the STAAR tests in Texas finds that the readability levels are far above the grade levels tested. Professor Susan Szabo and Professor Becky Barton Sinclair of the Texas A&M at Commerce reviewed STAAR tests and report that readability levels were 1-3 years above the grade level tested. Why is the state giving children tests that are above their grade levels? Is it trying to fail chi


Anthony Cody At DeVos Hearing

Anthony Cody, co-founder of the Network for Public Education, arrived at the DeVos budget hearing very early. He was there at 7:30 am and chose a seat directly behind where the speaker would be. He was directly over her left shoulder, scowling. I remembered the guy in the plaid shirt at a Trump rally, similarly located, shaking his head no and making quizzical expressions. Anthony did not hear an
BREAKING: Los Angeles Times Exposes Charter School Fraud and Profiteering

Anna Phillips of the Los Angeles Times has written a powerful expose of California’s “Wild West” charter industry. This is the first of three articles. The article is titled: “How a couple worked charter school regulations to make millions” The article begins: “The warning signs appeared soon after Denise Kawamoto accepted a job at Today’s Fresh Start Charter School in South Los Angeles. “Though
DeVos Wants to Defund Special Olympics, Boost Funding for School Choice

Betsy DeVos was grilled yesterday in Congressional hearings about her budget proposals. She was repeatedly questioned about her desire to increase charter school funding from $440 million to $500 million a year. The Network for Public Education report on the waste, fraud, and abuse in this program was cited. While increasing the charter budget, DeVos wants to cut $18 million from the Special Olym
Muncie, Indiana: Voucher School for 6 Students Condemned, Deplorable Conditions

Fire and building inspectors condemned the Delaware Christian Academy after entering the building and finding its six students huddled around a heater for warmth. Betsy DeVos always says that parents always know best, but why did these parents send their children to school in an unsafe building? ”Fire and building inspectors say they found six students at the private Delaware Christian Academy “h
Kentucky: Parents and Teachers Confront a Hostile GOP Legislature and State Commissioner

Gay Adelmann, Parent Activist in Jefferson County and Leader of Save Our Schools Kentucky, writes about the hostile actions of the Kentucky Legislature: Privatization or Potential Punishment: Are Louisville Teachers Being Forced To Choose The Lesser of Two Evils? “The beatings will continue until morale improves,” seems to be the mantra of the Kentucky GOP when it comes to public education. In th
Tom Ultican: Atlanta School Board Votes for Privatization

Tom Ultican has been writing about differentcities where the Destroy Public Education Movement has made extraordinary gains. Atlanta has fallen into the clutches of the DPE as a result of Teach for America’s success in electing its alumni to the school board, which hired a superintendent committedto the DPE agenda. Ultican writes : “On March 4, the Atlanta Public School (APS) board voted 5 to 3 t
Valerie Strauss: Is It Time to Dump the SAT and ACT?

Reflecting on the recentmassive scandal of rigging college acceptances, Valerie Strauss discusses the debate about whether the SAT and ACT are necessary. Research indicates that a student’s four year record reveals more about his or her college readiness than either of the two big standardized tests. Wealthy parents have always had advantages, including the ability to pay tutors to help their chi

MAR 26

Join the Network for Public Education: It Is Free and Gives You Power

If you liked the NPE report ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL, released today by the Network for Public Education, please consider joining. It is free. We rely on donations. We believe in the power of numbers, combined with a small but amazing staff. If you sign up, you will get alerts about what is happening in DC and in your own state, where your participation can make a difference. You will be asked to send
John Rogers: School and Society in the Age of Trump

John Rogers and his research team at UCLA have completed a valuable study of the effect of Trump and his ideology on schools, students, and society. If you go to the link, you can open the report. Here is a summary: “This study examines how a broad set of social issues at the forefront of the Trump presidency are felt and affect students and educators within America’s high schools. We look closel
A Student in Kansas Writes about How Standardized Testing Makes Her Feel

Kevin Bosworth, a teacherat Olathe East High School in Olathe, Kansas, wrote to tell me about a class discussion of grades and tests. A student sharedher poem with the class, and Kevin shared it with me. The reformers and disrupters now say they are intrigued with social and emotional learning. Let them read this and see what they have learned. Hello my name is worthless Name number and date Stat
Jose Luis Vilson: NYC’s Exam for Specialized High Schools Is Racist

New York City has a peculiar high school admissions system. To gain admission to the city’s five most elite high schools, one must excel on a highly competitive examination called the Secondary High School Admissions Test. Nothing else counts but that one score on one test. I am not aware of any selective institution in the nation that relies on only one score for admission. Every year, the media
Bombshell Report: Congress Wastes Nearly $1 Billion on Defunct Charter Schools

The Network for Public Education released a shocking report about waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal charter school program. This year, Congress handed out $440 million to charter schools, many of which will never open or quickly close. Trump and DeVos want to increase the annual sum to $500 million. The Washington Post covered the findings. Valerie Strauss writes: ”The U.S. government has wa

MAR 25

Rhode Island: About the Charter School That Will Offer a Master’s Degree

How great is a Charter School that is given permission by the state to offer a master’s degree in education? I decided to check out the Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls, which just got the go-ahead and $500,000 to train teachers and award master’s degrees. Surely this must be an extraordinary school, or you would expect the Providence Journal to let you know whether it’s up to t
Rhode Island Allows Charter School to Award Master’s Degrees

The Providence Journal asked me to remove this story because it is copyrighted. I was asked to replace it with a summary. Summary: A charter school called The Learning Community is creating a phony graduate school of education, where students will pay $35,000 to get a phony master’s degree. Philanthropists have agreed to underwrite scholarships. First the charters undermine public schools by comp
Philadelphia: It Takes Years and Millions to Close Failing Charter Schools and the Public Pays for Everything

Lisa Haver, Parent Activist in Philadelphia, writes here about how it takes years and millions of dollars to close failing charter schools. The public must pay the cost of challenging the charter and pay the cost of defending the charter. The charter operator gets a free ride for failing. Only the taxpayers and students lose. Why is it easy to close a public school but hard to close a charter sch
Public Schools Week Starts Today! Support Our Public Schools!

Public Schools Week is March 25-29. Download the toolkit of the Network for Public Education and do your part to support public schools! The forces of privatization are rising up, making promises and failing to keep any of those promises. Public schools are the bedrock of democracy, doors open to all. Certified teachers in every classroom. Public schools strive for equality of educational opportu
Stephen Dyer: Ohio’s Failing Charter Sector Wants a 22% Funding Increase

I remember when the charter idea was first launched, in 1988. Al Shanker thought charters would be schools-within-schools, that they would be started by teachers, that they would be approved by the other teachers in the rest of the school and the local board, that they would be unionized, and that they would collaborate, not compete, with the existing schools. More than three decades later, we kn

MAR 24

NPE Action Endorses Pam Harbin for Pittsburgh School Board

The Network for Public Education Action fund is happy to endorse Pam Harbin for Pittsburgh school board! She is running in District 4. Pam has a long history of supporting public school students and public schools. She has been working on the ground for twelve years in the fight to improve and save public education in Pittsburgh as a parent, community organizer and a long-time disability rights a
California: An Alert for Supporters of Public Schools!

A reader in California asks for help to fix one of the charter reform bill that has a big loophole. He writes: “Thank you for all you do for public education. In California right now are 4 assembly Bills – AB-1505 – AB-1508. “AB-1508 in particular is intended to enable local school districts to consider the financial, program and facilities impacts when approving/denying new charter petitions. Th
Billionaire Charter Founder Michael Steinhardt Accused of Sexual Harassment

Billionaire Michael Steinhardt, founder of a charter school chain called “Hebrew Language Academies,” was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment. A story in the New York Times began: “Sheila Katz was a young executive at Hillel International, the Jewish college outreach organization, when she was sent to visit the philanthropist Michael H. Steinhardt, a New York billionaire. He had once b
Tony Thurmond: “Without Public Schools, I Might Not Be State Superintendent Today”

TonyThurmond, elected as California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction last fall, spoke out strongly on behalf of public schools at a recent public event. He also insisted that the state must fund its pension promises and invest more in education. Competition doesn’t work in education, he said. The goal of education must be to help every student must develop his talents, not to spur com
Stuart Egan: Sanders’ EVASS Has Lost in Court, But NC Won’t Let It Go

William Sanders was an agricultural statistician who developed a secret, patented formula for measuring teacher effectiveness. It’s call EVASS. It was tossed out by a Houston judge who said it was wrong to judge teachers by a secret algorithm that they could neither examine nor question. As Stuart Egan reports , North Carolina clings to EVASS, no matter how many times it has been discredited (by

MAR 23

SomeDAM Poet on the Rallying Cry of the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter School Association recently held a rally in front of the State Capitol and declared that its motto was “Stand for All Children.” Only 10% of children in California are enrolled in charter schools. Our blog poet, SomeDAM Poet, wrote a poem to go with the CCSA slogan: “Stand for All (10% of) Students” (SAP) Stand for ten percent Stand for self-dealt rent Stand for charter sca
Arizona Republic Wins Prestigious George Polk Award for Education Reporting for Expose of Charter School Corruption

A crack investigative team at the Arizona Republic won the prestigious George Polk Award for their fearless expose of charter school corruption in the state . Now we might wonder where are the think tanks like the Center for American Progress and the Brookings Institution, which never utter a critical word about charter school corruption and malfeasance. CAP and Brookings are supposedly “liberal”
Steven Singer: Accountability Begins at the Top, not in the Classroom

Steven Singer has a straightforward and sensible proposition: accountability should begin with the people who make the rules and allocate resources. Instead they have created a blame game for those who try to play by the rules they created, not matter how wrong those rules are. Read the following and read his post to learn the Code of Conduct he has devised for those who make the rules. He writes
Texas: Can the State Afford to Buy One Snickers Bar Per Student?

This is a clever and short video explaining the magnitude of Texas’s school finance problem. Texas has more than 5 million students. Its schools are perennially underfunded. They took a big hit in 2011 when the legislature cut their budget by more than $5 BILLION dollars, which the schools have never recovered from. For the past several years, the State Senate and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick have tr
Defending the Early Years: Kisha Reid Explains How Little Children Learn Best

As the tentacles of Ed Reform reachdown into the earliest years, forcing standardized tests on young children, Defending the Early Years is there to block the monster from strangling the children’s loveof learning. In this short video , early childhood educator Kisha Reid explains what young children need most to thrive. Play. When children play together, they collaborate. They solve problems. No

MAR 22

Watch the Videos of the Jackson Heights Parents for Public Education (and Meet AOC)

Michael Elliott, professional videographer and ally of every New York parent group that opposes high-stakes testing, filmed the events on March 16, when AOC joined a community discussion in Jackson Heights, Queens, about public education. With the help of Kemala Karmen, he has broken up the day into segments that you can watch at your leisure. Each of them is short–mostly 3-5 minutes. PUBLIC EDUC
Karen Francisco: Portait of a Lifelong Teacher

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, wrote a moving tribute to our dear friend Phyllis Bush. She called Phyllis “a lifelong teacher.” She taught for 32 years. When she retired, however, she never stopped teaching. Francisco quotes some of Phyllis’s former students, who describe how Phyllis Bush changed their lives. The editorial includes a photograph that catc
Arizona: Acclaimed BASIS Charter Schools Are $44 Million in Red, Audit Shows

US News & World Report and Newsweek ranked BASIS charter schools in Arizona as the best high schools in the nation, without noting their dramatic attrition rates and demographics that heavily favor whites and Asians. But a new audit shows that BASIS is in deep financial trouble. “The globally renowned BASIS charter school system is nearly $44 million in the red, according to a recent report from
Fred Smith Explains That AOC was Right, and I Was Wrong, About the Test She Took

At the meeting of Jackson Heights Parents for Public Schools on March 16, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes said that she took a high-stakes standardized test, and her teacher told her she was in the 99th percentile. I thought she must have taken an Iowa Test of Basic Skills since NCLB test scores are not reported as percentiles but as 1-4 or “below basic, basic, proficient, advanced.” That sent the far-r
Mercedes Schneider On Campbell Brown’s Short But Rewarding Life as an Education Reformer

Ah, Campbell Brown, we hardly knew ye! Brown blazed across the Deform firmament like a shooting star, fighting sexual predators in the classroom, unions, tenure, and all other things that crossed her fevered brow. She raised millions, and now she’s off to a new life at Facebook. Gone and forgotten. Mercedes Schneider tells the story here.

MAR 21

Right-Wing Blogs Spread Lies about AOC Appearance in Jackson Heights Public Education Forum

I wrote a post about my very pleasant experience meeting the wonderful, charming, brilliant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Jackson Heights, and I described her as “warm, comfortable in her skin, somewhat taken aback by her sudden fame, and unpretentious.” I said that she paid attention, and that she came to listen and learn. Everyone at the meeting was thrilled to meet her, and she took the time to
Rhode Island: New Commissioner Pledges Dramatic Improvements

Governor Gina Raimondo selected the deputy commissioner from New York to lead Rhode Island. She is a Reformer, already chosen by Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change as a future member of their group. “PROVIDENCE, R.I. — When Gov. Gina M. Raimondo began her search for the state’s next Education Commissioner, her conversations with experts, teachers, and other leaders in the field of education kept coming
California: Parent Opposes Berkeley’s Choice of Wendy Kopp as Commencement Speaker

Jane Nylund is a Parent Activist in Oakland who has fought the privatization machine. She wrote an open public letter opposing Berkeley’s selection of Wendy Kopp as its commencement speaker. UC Berkeley should not support and condone school privatization : Rescind your offer to TFA Wendy Kopp as commencement speaker As a public school advocate, and a product of California public schools (father a
Do You Want an Out-of-State Billionaire to Put Money into Your Local School Board Election?

Three political scientists have written a book about billionaires putting money into local school board elections. Typically, the wealthy are not writing checks for their own school board elections, but even if they were, they are able to swamp the spending of others. The book is titled Outside Money in School Board Elections: The Nationalization of Education Politic s. It was published by Harvar
Julian Vasquez Heilig: The Real Scandal Over Buying an Education

Julian Vasquez Heilig writes in The Progressive about a scandal bigger than buying seats in college. What we read about in the headlines was illegal. What we don’t see in the headlines is education that is legally purchased. He writes: “Research is catching up to what is not exactly a well-kept secret: the nicer house an American family can buy, the better public school that family will have acce
Leonie Haimson: Why Is NYC Chancellor Carranza Sending Struggling Schools into a Death Spiral?

Leonie Haimson questions why NYC Chancellor Carranza sent a letter to every parent in schools rated CSI (Comprehensive Support & Improvement) by the state to let them know that they could transfer to another school. Although he claimed otherwise, he was not required to do so. Some schools are on the list because of opt outs. Carranza is destroying schools instead of supporting them. No school eve

MAR 20

New Zealand Bans Military Assault Weapons

The latest news: New Zealand will ban military style semi-automatics and assault rifles and establish a nationwide buyback of the weapons in the wake of a terrorist attack on two mosques that left 50 people dead. The ban takes immediate effect to prevent the stockpiling of weapons while the legislation is being drafted, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters Thursday. “I strongly believe th
Shawgi Tell: The Issue Is Not Standardized Test Scores But the Theft of Public Property

Shawgi Tell is a professor of education at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. In this post , Shawgi Tell describes the massive misuse of standardized tests created by mega-corporations. He writes: Charter school supporters and promoters have long been severely obsessed with comparing charter school and public school students’ scores on expensive curriculum-narrowing high-stakes standardized
AOC Did Not Disappoint

Last Saturday, I attended a forum on public schools organized by Jackson Heights Parents for Public Schools. Thanks to the appearance of superstar Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, the event drew some of the city’s leading education stars, such as State Senator Robert Jackson, who has been leading the fight for increased state funding for the city’s public schools for many years. There were
Edward Johnson: Does the Atlanta School Board Know Who Dr. Alonzo A. Crim Was?

Ed Johnson fights day after day to try to budge the Atlanta School Board, which is following the disastrous path of corporate reform, which has failed everywhere. The Atlanta School Board is controlled by individuals who formerly were part of Teach for America, and it is their dream to turn Atlanta in a portfolio district with many privately managed schools. He writes: Does pursuing “Excellent Sc

Education Law Center Criticizes Equity Practices in Philadelphia Charter Sector

The Education Law Center is one of the nation’s leading legal organizations defending the civil rights of students. In this important new report, it presents a critical analysis of Philadelphia’s charter sector and its indifference to the civil 
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