Thursday, May 30, 2019

An Urban Teacher's Education: A Critique of Standards-Based Grading

An Urban Teacher's Education: A Critique of Standards-Based Grading

A Critique of Standards-Based Grading

It first happened to me about ten years ago. I was beginning my third year of teaching in a new school in Washington, DC. Social studies teachers were sitting at a department meeting, and the assistant principal assigned as our department head was explaining to us why standards-based grading was going to close the achievement gap.

"This is all very interesting," I said, "and I'm happy to get on board, but besides standards-based grading, what other legitimate grading practices are out there?"

"Well, whatever they are, we don't practice them here. Standards are about raising expectations, and that's what we're about." His response seemed designed to discourage me from inquiring further. In other words, my principal didn't seem to know.

I spent that year, and many of the years since that meeting, working furiously to become the best standards-based grader I could possibly be. That was not easy, as most teachers know that standards-based grading can be a pretty confusing endeavor. It comes with all sorts of differences in philosophy and application. I've had principals attempt to mandate everything from a no zero policy to a no homework policy to a "you can give homework, you just can't grade it" policy. Then there are CONTINUE READING: An Urban Teacher's Education: A Critique of Standards-Based Grading


CAN TV – The Future of Chicago Public Schools

CAN TV – The Future of Chicago Public Schools

The Future of Chicago Public Schools



Panelists present their vision and roadmaps for Chicago Public Schools in order to achieve greater racial justice in the city’s public education system and society at large at this event hosted by Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP). This program was recorded by Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV).

CURMUDGUCATION: OH: Takeover Battle Comes To Senate

CURMUDGUCATION: OH: Takeover Battle Comes To Senate

OH: Takeover Battle Comes To Senate
Image result for takeover bill, HB 70.

Our story so far: The Ohio House has passed a bill scrapping Ohio's disastrous takeover bill, HB 70. The new language was incorporated into the budget (HB 166) and, having cleared the House, must go to the Senate, where education committee chair Peggy Lehner is not particularly sympathetic to public education. So Lehner and a committee of various "interested parties" put together their own proposal for offering "relief" from HB 70. It's another version of a state takeover, packed with $20 million in pork for "consultants."

Wednesday, May 29, was the Senate's day to hold a hearing about the issue, and all the players came out of the woodwork, some offering audacious and amazing words for or against the bill, with particular emphasis on Lorain, Ohio, a city and school system that has caused all sorts of problems by refusing to roll over and play dead.


Mark Ballard, hearing MVP
But we have lots of testimony to look at, all of which paints a picture of a direct head-to-head clash between pub lic education and those who would like to privatize it.  In fact, before we wade into this, let's start with some of the testimony from Lorain School Board President Mark Ballard, because this may win the Quote of the Day award:

A new law is being crafted, in secret, AGAIN - because you admit the last two laws were ineffective - all while Lorain is dealing with the negative consequences of those bills.

Now, if this new bill is approved, we will be required to collaborate with our CEO, even though he doesn’t believe in collaboration and refuses to meet with us.

And our end goal is to create a plan that is exactly...the... same...as what we already had in place before you gave us a CEO?

Please remember this: If the state of Ohio thinks it can continue to experiment with it’s poor CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: OH: Takeover Battle Comes To Senate


2020 Vision: The Democratic Presidential Candidates on Education – Have You Heard

2020 Vision: The Democratic Presidential Candidates on Education – Have You Heard

2020 Vision: The Democratic Presidential Candidates on Education

 From Bernie Sanders on charter schools and segregation to Cory Booker stating, once again, that he is a believer in public education, to higher pay for teachers and free-er college for all (or some), the Democratic presidential candidates can’t stop talking about education. In the latest episode of Have You Heard, Jennifer and Jack go beyond the headlines to explore why public education may just be the hottest-button issue of this endless campaign season.

And if you like what you hear, please consider supporting us on Patreon.


Charter schools accused of stealing $50M from California

Charter schools accused of stealing $50M from California

Charter schools accused of stealing $50M from California

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A network of charter schools in California stole more than $50 million from the state by creating phantom institutions that enrolled unwitting students it found through other schools and youth programs, prosecutors said Wednesday.
A3 Education recruited small public school districts to sponsor the charter schools in exchange for oversight fees. Prosecutors say A3 enrolled about 40,000 students throughout the state, none of whom received any services.
The company that operated a network of 19 online-only schools is accused of paying sports leagues as little as $25 a student for information used for enrollment. School districts are funded by the state based on the number of students.
The students didn’t know how their names were being used, said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, calling them victims.
“These kids are being used for just a name and the ability to pull money using their name, and then the paperwork, a lot of is just manufactured,” Stephan said at a news conference.
Prosecutors identified Sean McManus, 46, and Jason Schrock, 44, as the ringleaders. They didn’t immediately return phone messages seeking comment. McManus is believed to be in Australia.
The 235-page indictment is another black eye for charters, at a perilous time for what was once a thriving sector, especially in California.
The California Charter Schools Association said it raised concerns about A3 more than a year ago with the state education department and urged an investigation.
“To be clear, there is no room for bad actors and irresponsible authorizers in California’s charter public school movement,” said Myrna Castrej√≥n, the group’s president.
The Dehesa Elementary School District, which has only about 150 students east of San Diego, authorized several charter schools with oversight for 20,000 students, Stephan said. The $2 million in oversight fees collected one year was more than the district’s annual payroll.
Nancy Hauer, Dehesa’s superintendent, was among 11 people charged in the case. Other CONTINUE READING: Charter schools accused of stealing $50M from California

My New Book Was Just Announced! | Diane Ravitch's blog

My New Book Was Just Announced! | Diane Ravitch's blog

My New Book Was Just Announced!

I am very excited!
My new book was just announced!
It will be published on January 14, 2020, by Knopf, the most prestigious publisher in America. The editor is the brilliant Victoria Wilson, who is also an author, having written the definitive biography of Barbara Stanwyck.
In Slaying Goliath, you will read about the heroes of the Resistance, those who stood up to Big Money and defeated disruption in their schools, their communities, their cities, their states.
It is a book of inspiration and hope.
It shows how determined citizens—parents, students, teachers, everyone—can stand up for democracy, can stand up to the billionaires, and win.
Please consider pre-ordering your copy so you can be sure to get the first edition.
Amazon.com: Slaying Goliath: The Impassioned Fight to Defeat the Privatization Movement and Save America's Public Schools (9780525655374): Diane Ravitch: Gateway -



My New Book Was Just Announced! | Diane Ravitch's blog



Vote Woman | radical eyes for equity

Vote Woman | radical eyes for equity

Vote Woman


Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, I taught in the very conservative small town where I was born and attended school. This added a second layer to the moral imperative I felt as a calling to teach.
I recall to this day sitting in a first-year college English class and suddenly feeling out of place. There was something, or some things, I simply didn’t get.
Later I would have a word for my deficit—provincialism—and by the time I chose to be a high school English teacher, I felt compelled to provide my students with a worldview I had been denied.
Literature was a magical vehicle for that mission, and one recurring aspect of two works I taught nearly every year resonate heavily with me now.
In Advanced Placement Literature, we read and discussed Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Both works are solidly in the white male canon—works buoyed by New Criticism’s premium placed on craft—but both also have an important topic in common—examinations of abortion that address the experience without ever naming it directly.
The dark comedy of the Bundren’s pilgrimage to bury the matriarch, Addie, includes Dewey Dell, a teen, seeking an abortion as a subplot of Faulkner’s experimental classic. Hemingway’s short story is heralded as a narrative tour de force that depends on “[t]he American and the girl”  negotiating the CONTINUE READING: Vote Woman | radical eyes for equity

Pearson Wants to Expand Its Virtual Schools Market; Its “Connections Academy” in Louisiana Is No Selling Factor | deutsch29

Pearson Wants to Expand Its Virtual Schools Market; Its “Connections Academy” in Louisiana Is No Selling Factor | deutsch29

Pearson Wants to Expand Its Virtual Schools Market; Its “Connections Academy” in Louisiana Is No Selling Factor


Connections Academy is a virtual K12 (and possibly pre-K12) school operated by education business mammoth, Pearson.
According to Pearson’s February 2019 earnings call, Pearson is focused on expanding its Connections Academy market. Pearson is undergoing restructuring; it has (and continues to) reduce its workforce and has been selling off less-profitable companies in an effort to recover from unrealized profits, including those Pearson expected from Common Core (CC) and CC-related PARCC testing.
(For Pearson’s market performance over the last decade, click here.)
Pearson reports that the US virtual schools market is worth more than $1.5B and that it sees a “strong pipeline of 2 – 5 new schools in 2019,” with a plan to “scale up in existing states [and] target states with high growth potential.”
In April 2018, Pearson announced opening three new Connections Academies. The way that Pearson establishes its virtual schools in the US is as charter schools:
In our virtual schools business we partner with charter boards to run fully online schools.
Regarding its virtual-ed Connections Academies, Pearson also reports a “competitive advantage” in its “strong brand” and “good learning outcomes.”
Good learning outcomes. Reads like Pearson is aiming for increasing sales of (at best) a mediocre product.
Just so long as it sells, amIright?
Louisiana has one of Pearson’s Connections Academies. It filed documents with the Lousiana Secretary of State in April 2009 as a limited liability company (LLC) and also as an associated nonprofit in March 2009, with the nonprofit (“Friends of Louisiana Connections Academy”) paying the LLC as an “independent CONTINUE READING: Pearson Wants to Expand Its Virtual Schools Market; Its “Connections Academy” in Louisiana Is No Selling Factor | deutsch29

US News And World Report Closes Cheating Loophole — Charters Tank | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

US News And World Report Closes Cheating Loophole — Charters Tank | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

US News And World Report Closes Cheating Loophole — Charters Tank

U.S. News & World Report produces several influential annual ‘best of’ lists in all kinds of categories.  In education they rank colleges, graduate schools, and, of course, high schools.
In recent years, charter schools have been dominating the U.S. News high school rankings.  Reform propaganda outlets, like The74, gleefully touted the success of charter schools in the U.S. News & World Report rankings in columns like this and this.
Two years ago I wrote about how the KIPP New York City high school was ranked as the 4th best high school in New York State and then I uncovered that they actually cheated on this by assigning their students to four different schools, one of which became a top performing school.  Based on my research, KIPP was eventually disqualified off the list.
While KIPP’s cheating scheme was truly dishonest, other charter schools gamed the ranking system another way.  Before this year, the ranking was based primarily on the percent of seniors to pass an AP exam.  So if you were a charter school with high attrition and had 25 seniors in your graduating class, despite the fact that you had 150 ninth graders three years earlier, if all 25 of those seniors passed at least one AP test, you could be one of top rated schools in the country.
But this year — finally — U.S. News & World Report closed this loophole for their 2019 results.
Now the rankings are based on (from U.S. News website):
30% College Readiness, which is the percent of 12th graders taking and passing an AP CONTINUE READING: US News And World Report Closes Cheating Loophole — Charters Tank | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

The New York State Legislature, Charter Schools and the “Big Ugly:” A Lesson in Civics (aka, Realpolitics) | Ed In The Apple

The New York State Legislature, Charter Schools and the “Big Ugly:” A Lesson in Civics (aka, Realpolitics) | Ed In The Apple

The New York State Legislature, Charter Schools and the “Big Ugly:” A Lesson in Civics (aka, Realpolitics)



Realpolitics: political realism or practical politics especially based on power as well as on ideals.
Why is politics so contentious? Why can’t people get along? Why is everything so partisan?
I can also ask why don’t Mets and Yankee fans get along. Giant and Jets fans?
Politics is contentious, sports are contentious, factions are part of human nature and factions can be passionate.
In Federalist # 10 Madison wrote,
AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice
 Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.
 Madison acknowledges that factions are at the heart of a democracy,
 Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its  CONTINUE READING: The New York State Legislature, Charter Schools and the “Big Ugly:” A Lesson in Civics (aka, Realpolitics) | Ed In The Apple

NYC Public School Parents: We file an appeal in our class size lawsuit to require NYC Department of Education to lower class size in all grades

NYC Public School Parents: We file an appeal in our class size lawsuit to require NYC Department of Education to lower class size in all grades

We file an appeal in our class size lawsuit to require NYC Department of Education to lower class size in all grades

On Thursday May 23, 2019 the Education Law Center filed an appeal on behalf of nine NYC parents, Class Size Matters and the Alliance for Quality Education, urging the Appellate court to order the Department of Education to reduce class size in all grades as the Contracts for Excellence law requires. Our original lawsuit, Agostini vs. Eliawas filed in April 2018 when the State Education Commissioner refused to take action and enforce the law.   

In December 2018, Acting Supreme Court Judge Henry Zwack ruled against us in a brief decision that engaged with neither the law or the facts of the case, and merely claimed that this was a matter for Commissioner to decide.  She in turn had argued that any class size obligations on the part of the DOE had expired years ago. Our appeal demonstrates how that view is false -- and if the Legislature wanted to eliminate DOE's legal obligation to lower class size on they would have changed the law.  Oral arguments in the case will likely occur late this summer.

The press release from ELC is here and below. -- Leonie Haimson 

LAWSUIT TO ENFORCE MANDATE TO REDUCE CLASS SIZE IN NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS MOVES FORWARD
The plaintiffs in a legal action to enforce a mandate to reduce class size in New York City public schools filed their brief on May 23 in an Albany appellate court. The lawsuit began in June 2017 as an administrative petition demanding that the State Commissioner of Education, MaryEllen Elia, order the NYC Schools Chancellor, the New York City Department of Education, and the New York City Board of Education to comply with the law. When the Commissioner dismissed the petition, the plaintiffs brought the case to court.
The plaintiffs in the case are nine New York City public school parents, as well as Class Size Matters and the Alliance for Quality Education, two prominent New York public school advocacy organizations. Education Law Center Senior Attorney Wendy Lecker is representing the plaintiffs.
Under a state law known as the Contract for Excellence, or "C4E," the NYC Chancellor and the Department and Board of Education are required to develop a five-year plan to reduce class size to target averages in three grade spans: K-3, 4-8, and 9-12. After the law was enacted in 2007, New York City developed a plan which was approved by the Commissioner in 2007.
The City never fulfilled the 2007 plan within five years, or by 2012. Nor has the City implemented the 2007 plan or any other plan that complies with the C4E law. As a result, class sizes now are as large or even larger than they were in 2007. Between 2007-2016, for example, the number of students in classes of 30 or more in grades 1-3 increased by 4,000% to over 40,000.
In dismissing the Petition in 2017, the Commissioner ruled that since the 2007 plan "concluded" in 2012, or five years after it was approved, the petition was moot even though the City never implemented the plan. The plaintiffs challenged the Commissioner's decision in State Supreme Court, which "deferred" to the Commissioner's interpretation of the term "within five years" in the C4E law.
The plaintiffs have now appealed to the Appellate Division. They argue that the Commissioner misinterpreted the C4E law. The five-year endpoint in the law was the deadline the Legislature imposed to accomplish class size reduction. It was not the date at which the City's legal obligation would magically disappear. Moreover, the lower court wrongly deferred to the Commissioner's interpretation of the C4E law.
"The NYC Department of Education has violated the Contract for Excellence Law for over a decade because of its refusal to reduce class size," said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. "As a result, more than 336,000 students were crammed into classes of thirty or more this fall. Our thanks to the Education Law Center for representing Class Size Matters and nine NYC parent plaintiffs in this important appeal. If the Appellate Court decides on the basis of the law and the facts, it will require that NYC students finally receive their right to a sound basic education with the smaller classes they need and deserve."
"Class size is an important factor in determining whether students have the opportunity to succeed in school. Ensuring that every student has a chance to succeed is our moral duty. Following the law shouldn't be a choice. We hope the court ensures that the students of New York receive their constitutionally granted right to 'a sound basic education,'" said Marina Marcou-O'Malley, Operations and Policy Director for the Alliance for Quality Education.
Oral argument in the appeal will likely take place in the late summer.
Education Law Center Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24


NYC Public School Parents: We file an appeal in our class size lawsuit to require NYC Department of Education to lower class size in all grades

How Closing Schools Traumatizes Students and Communities - NEA Today

How Closing Schools Traumatizes Students and Communities - NEA Today

How Closing Schools Traumatizes Students and Communities

Since 2004, Oakland Unified School District has closed 16 schools and is now targeting an additional 24 by the start of the 2019-20 school year. District officials call it “right-sizing,” a term borrowed from corporate America – appropriate given that many of the shuttered schools will be converted into for-profit charters. While policymakers see failing or “bad” schools, parents, students and educators see pillars of the community that have not been adequately funded and are worth fighting for.
Closing down his school, one Oakland seventh grader testified in January, “is like putting me up for adoption ..[My school] made me who I am.”
These are scenes that have been playing out in urban school districts across the country. In 2013, Chicago announced it was closing 50 schools, 90 percent of which served all-black student populations. The plan triggered massive protests from parents, educators, students and community members.  The mobilization to save their neighborhood schools is recounted in “Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side,” by Eve L. Ewing.
In the book, Ewing, who in addition to being an assistant professor at the University of Chicago is also a poet and podcaster, vividly describes the anger, destabilization and sense of displacement felt by the families impacted most by school closings. 
These are the voices that need to be heard as policymakers make decisions that put children’s lives on the line, Ewing says. And, as she recently told NEA Today, no amount of  bureaucratic jargon and cherry-picked data can conceal the racist underpinnings behind the top-down, punitive policies that have dominated the CONTINUE READING: How Closing Schools Traumatizes Students and Communities - NEA Today
Big Education Ape: My Review of Eve L. Ewing’s “Ghosts in the Schoolyard” | Diane Ravitch's blog - https://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2018/11/my-review-of-eve-l-ewings-ghosts-in.html

Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side: Eve L. Ewing: 9780226526027: Amazon.com: Books - https://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Schoolyard-Racism-Closings-Chicagos/dp/022652602X

New report on virtual education: ‘It sure sounds good. As it turns out, it’s too good to be true.’ - The Washington Post

New report on virtual education: ‘It sure sounds good. As it turns out, it’s too good to be true.’ - The Washington Post

New report on virtual education: ‘It sure sounds good. As it turns out, it’s too good to be true.’


The future of education, you might hear some enthusiasts say, is virtual: Online schools have grown significantly over the past decade, as have traditional schools that use online curriculum, and the promise of virtual education is boundless.
Or not.
Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2019, a report published annually by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, looks at the research on this form of education and suggests that some brakes ought to be put on the virtual education revolution.
Why? The report says:
Many argue that online curriculum can be tailored to individual students more effectively than curriculum in traditional classrooms, giving it the potential to promote greater student achievement than can be realized in traditional brick-and-mortar schools. These claims are not supported by the research evidence; nonetheless, the promise of lower costs —primarily for instructional personnel and facilities—continues to make virtual schools financially appealing to both policymakers and for-profit providers.
The report, the seventh annual look on virtual education by the NEPC, is in three parts and has a number of authors: Alex Molnar, Gary Miron, Najat Elgeberi, Michael K. Barbour, Luis Huerta, Sheryl Rankin Shafer and Jennifer King Rice.
Molnar is a research professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the NEPC publications director; Miron is professor of evaluation, measurement and research at Western Michigan University; Elgeberi is a graduate student at Western Michigan University; Barbour is associate professor of instructional design for the College of Education and Health Sciences at Touro University California; Huerta is associate professor of education and public policy at Teachers College at Columbia University; Rankin Shafer is an independent writer, researcher and editor focusing on educational leadership and business communications; King Rice is dean of the College of Education at the University of Maryland.
The first part of the report looks at enrollment, performance and student characteristics of full-time virtual and blended schools; the second part reveals what the available research on virtual and blended education shows; the third part reviews recent policymaking relating to virtual schools in the areas of finance and governance, and instructional and teacher quality.
Molnar, who is a co-author and editor of the new report, wrote the following summary of Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2019 for The Answer Sheet.

By Alex Molnar
The report documents the steady growth over the last decade of virtual schools and schools that “blend” virtual learning programs and live classroom experiences.
Since the National Education Policy Center released its first report on virtual schools in 2013, the number of virtual schools included has risen from 311 schools, enrolling slightly less than 200,000 students, to 501 schools enrolling almost 300,000 students. The 2019 report also documents 300 blended schools enrolling CONTINUE READING: New report on virtual education: ‘It sure sounds good. As it turns out, it’s too good to be true.’ - The Washington Post