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Friday, July 12, 2019

CURMUDGUCATION: Are These Lessons To Learn From Cyberschools?

CURMUDGUCATION: Are These Lessons To Learn From Cyberschools?

Are These Lessons To Learn From Cyberschools?

At this stage of the game, there's no reason to keep imagining that cyberschools are a viable option for education on any sort of scale. There's a small group of students with specialized needs that they can serve well, but mostly they've failed big time. But they are also excellent money-makers, and so we periodically find folks trying to rehabilitate the cyberschool image. Here comes another such attempt.

Where did this one come from?

North Carolina-based Public Impact is yet another reform group dedicated to advocacy for charter schools etc. It has all the usual features. For instance, the jargon-soaked product line:


Using our unmatched thought leadership and experience with charter schools, turnarounds, and innovations for great teachers and principals, school design, funding, technology, parent support, community engagement and data analysis to help states, localities, districts, charter organizations, funders, and nonprofits choose the right strategies for dramatic improvements.
And the leadership which, you will be shocked to learn, involves a minimum of actual educators. Co-President Bryan Hassel is a big-time consultant and "recognized expert" (recognized by who, one wonders) on charters and turnarounds and funding systems and writing pieces for Education Next and EdWeek. His Co-President is Emily Hassel, who provides thought leadership and oversight. They're both Pahara-Aspen Education Fellows, which puts them in the company of many other charter and reformster folks. Lucy Steiner is the senior vp for "educator excellence and implementation services," and she has some actual classroom background-- she taught English from 1993-1996.

Like most such groups, Public Impact likes to crank out "reports" that serve as slickly packaged advocacy for one reform thing or another. Two of their folk have just whipped together such a CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Are These Lessons To Learn From Cyberschools?


Will This Be On The Test? | gadflyonthewallblog

Will This Be On The Test? | gadflyonthewallblog

Will This Be On The Test?
As a public school teacher, I’m confronted with an awful lot of urgent questions.
Sometimes all at once and in rapid fire succession.
But perhaps the most frequent one I get is this:
“Mr. Singer, will this be on the test?”
Seriously?
Will this be on the test?
In 8th grade Language Arts, we’re discussing the relative merits of the death penalty vs. life imprisonment – or the history behind the Nazi invasion of Holland – or the origin of Dill Harris’ obsession with Boo Radley — and this little kid wants to know if any of it is going to be on the test!?
What in the almighty universe does he think we’re doing here!?
I pause, take a deep breath and reflect.
After all, it could be worse. The kiddo could have interrupted the flow just to ask to CONTINUE READING: 

Summer Reading/Bike Donations | The Merrow Report

Summer Reading/Bike Donations | The Merrow Report

Summer Reading/Bike Donations
First, let’s follow the money!  Apparently quite a few of you contributed to a favorite causes, including Planned Parenthood, Chess in the Schools, and the Network for Public Education.  From what was reported to me, the total seems to be just north of $8,000. Thank you, because having that public challenge provided a major incentive NOT to quit!   And, believe me, there were a few times during my 78-mile ride when my 78-year-old body cried out for a nap!
(Sorry to be so late with this news: We have had a houseful of family and, full disclosure, the Women’s World Cup was a very high priority in our home!)
Summer reading for education wonks:  My list includes David Kirp’s forthcoming CONTINUE READING: Summer Reading/Bike Donations | The Merrow Report

The Campaign Finance Problem is About to Get Worse

The Campaign Finance Problem is About to Get Worse

The Campaign Finance Problem is About to Get Worse

Follow the instructions on the BMD (Ballot Marking Device) and begin making your selections OR scan your Poll Pass at the BMD to expedite your voting experience.– Los Angeles County
The new Ballot Marking Device





Up through the August 13, 2019, special election, the 5,346,339 registered voters of Los Angeles County will be using a voting system that was created before man landed on the moon. It was designed when we interacted with computers through punch cards, telephones were used exclusively for phone calls and all mail was sent by the speed of a snail. In short, our world has changed a lot, but the underlying system behind our elections has not.
This will all change when Los Angeles voters go to the polls for the 2020 Presidential Primary (and LAUSD School Board) Election. Under the Voting Solutions for All People initiative, precinct-based polling places will be replaced by county-wide Vote Centers. While this will greatly reduce the number of voting locations, it will expand options:
  • Voters will not be assigned to one specific voting location but will be able to use any vote center in the county.
  • Some vote centers will be open for 11 days prior to election day with additional sites being open for four days. 
  • Mobile and pop-up vote centers will be able to serve populations that have difficulties getting to the polls.
The updated technology will also allow same-day voter registration to occur including the ability to re-register with a different political party for the primary elections. People with disabilities will have greater access to the same voting booths being used by all the other voters for a “private and independent voting experience.” The touchscreen will allow voters to “read or listen to [their] ballot in 13 languages” and video-conferencing will be built into the Electronic Pollbooks that will replace the printed list of voters so that voters can receive assistance CONTINUE READING: The Campaign Finance Problem is About to Get Worse



Vox Interviews Edgar Villanueva on the Racial Philanthropy Gap | Schott Foundation for Public Education

Vox Interviews Edgar Villanueva on the Racial Philanthropy Gap | Schott Foundation for Public Education

Vox Interviews Edgar Villanueva on the Racial Philanthropy Gap
In a recent interview by Dylan Matthews at Vox, Schott Vice President of Programs and Advocacy Edgar Villanueva described how the racial wealth gap has translated to a similar gap in philanthropic giving: a bias in how that wealth is dispersed, which keeps control away from people of color, and minimizes donations to groups run by people of color for the benefit of communities of color.

Dylan Matthews

Walk me through some of the racial equity problems facing philanthropy: What are some of the representational and grant-making gaps you’ve discovered?

Edgar Villanueva

Many families and many institutions that have amassed wealth have done so on the backs of people of color and indigenous people. One example I often share is my first job in philanthropy was in North Carolina, and it was all tobacco money. My office was on a plantation.
The R.J. Reynolds family had amassed all this wealth through the tobacco industry. Clearly, slave labor was a major part of that and helped to build this family’s fortune. There are multiple Reynolds foundations that now exist. I think that [money] should be given in a way that sort of centers and prioritizes giving in communities of color that helped amass that wealth.
The latest research that came out from the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equality shows that only about 8-9 percent of grant-making from foundations goes into communities of color [in the US].
And so, when you take the historical account as to how indigenous communities and how people of color have contributed to building wealth in this country, and the trauma that exists because of how wealth was accumulated, I think that it’s an easy case to make that philanthropic capital should at least be more inclusive of those communities.
I also think [part of the] race conversation [is] around who actually gets to control, allocate, manage, and spend that CONTINUE READING: Vox Interviews Edgar Villanueva on the Racial Philanthropy Gap | Schott Foundation for Public Education

AFT’s Weingarten: We survived our battle with ‘billionaires and ideologues’

AFT’s Weingarten: We survived our battle with ‘billionaires and ideologues’

AFT’s Weingarten: We survived our battle with ‘billionaires and ideologues’
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten took what amounted to a victory lap on Thursday, telling union members they had survived a decade-long battle with “billionaires and ideologues.”
“To our enemies’ vexation, we are thriving,” Weingarten told attendees of the union’s conference in Washington D.C. 
“Remember the false narrative about public schools a decade ago — about so-called bad teachers, failing students, and a system supposedly so broken that privatization and austerity were the only answers? We’ve busted up those myths, one by one.”
The speech reflected the union’s confidence, which has been buoyed by widespread support for teacher strikes and walkouts over the past year, backlash toward charter schools, and, for now, the union’s ability to avoid a budget crisis in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision.
Still, the union can hardly claim total victory: charters have continued to grow, albeit more slowly, and they maintain political support among many black and Hispanic Democrats; a number of red states have passed legislation favorable to charters and private school vouchers; and Weingarten acknowledged that AFT has lost fee-payers in the wake of Janus.
“Ten years ago, Time magazine emblazoned its cover with this image of a school superintendent sweeping out so-called ‘bad teachers,’” Weingarten said, referring to CONTINUE READING: AFT’s Weingarten: We survived our battle with ‘billionaires and ideologues’

Powerful Koch network taking on school choice with new group - The Washington Post

Powerful Koch network taking on school choice with new group - The Washington Post

Powerful Koch network taking on school choice with new group

SEATTLE — Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch’s powerful network that’s known for influencing state policy is now targeting education issues like school choice as the movement battles a new wave of hostility from Democrats who oppose charter schools and private school vouchers that use taxpayer money.
Koch in June announced the Yes Every Kid initiative as the latest addition to his sprawling network of wealthy donors, political groups and tax-exempt advocacy organizations best known for pushing anti-regulation, small-government policies. Its political arm, Americans for Prosperity, has made waves supporting the tea party and fighting former President Barack Obama’s health care law.
The Yes Every Kid group is tasked with monitoring statehouses where it can be influential on school choice, said Stacy Hock, a Texas philanthropist who is among hundreds of donors each contributing at least $100,000 annually to the Koch network’s wide-ranging agenda.
Hock and officials with the Koch network said it’s too early to provide specifics about what policies the group is pushing.
“The priority is to go where there is a political appetite to be open to policy change and lean in there,” said Hock, who also leads the Texans for Education Opportunity advocacy group that supports charters and other education alternatives.
She cited Texas, West Virginia, Tennessee and Florida as priority states where school choice proposals have flourished.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, called Koch’s new effort a public relations stunt.
“To date, the Koch strategy has been to profit from and compete with public schools, while trying to ‘defund and defang’ anyone who got in their way,” Weingarten said in a statement.
Koch’s new education reform lobbying group comes as the conservative icon recalibrates his priorities, both CONTINUE READING: Powerful Koch network taking on school choice with new group - The Washington Post



What the SAT really measures - Vox

What the SAT really measures - Vox

What the SAT really measures
Predicting what we might do can’t be untangled from where we’ve been.
A few months ago, an FBI investigation found that rich parents — including celebrities like Felicity Huffman — were cheating to get their kids into elite colleges.
It involved an elaborate scam to get higher SAT scores for their children.
This isn’t the first time people paid for higher SAT scores. In 2011, about 20 teenagers in Long Island were accused of paying as much as $3,600 to have someone else take the SAT for them. And a few years ago, 15 Chinese nationals were accused of the same thing, paying nearly $6,000 for the higher score.
And this is for good reason.
Colleges often say the SAT score is just a small part of the admissions decision, but survey data of colleges shows that it’s actually one of the biggest factors. In addition, the CONTINUE READING: What the SAT really measures - Vox

Bob Shepherd: Assessing E.D. Hirsch Jr. and Cultural Literacy | Diane Ravitch's blog

Bob Shepherd: Assessing E.D. Hirsch Jr. and Cultural Literacy | Diane Ravitch's blog

Bob Shepherd: Assessing E.D. Hirsch Jr. and Cultural Literacy

Bob Shepherd writes here about E.D. Hirsch Jr.’s work, and how it was wrongly appropriated by conservatives in their fight for the canon of “great white men.”
I first met Don Hirsch in 1983 at a conference where we both spoke. We became good friends. We even served on the Koret Task Force together at the Hoover Institution, which we both quit, perhaps for different reasons or maybe for the same reason. While there, we had a public debate with Paul Peterson and Caroline Hoxby. The topic was: Curriculum and instruction are more important than markets and choice. We argued for the proposition, and they argued against. Given that we were at the Hoover Institution, the audience favored the negative. Of course.
Bob Shepherd writes:
There was a lot of willful (e.g., intentional) misreading of Hirsch’s work, which wasn’t helped by the fact that his work was embraced by far-right conservatives who thought that he was all about defending the canon of work by dead white men against multiculturalism. And, unfortunately, his Core Knowledge Foundation had a brief flirtation with Common [sic] Core [sic] advocates, which Hirsch later renounced as a mistake.
So, here, a brief tutorial on his major ideas:
Hirsch first made his name as a proponent of a particular approach to literary interpretation, or hermeneutics. He was a champion of the traditional notion that the meaning of a literary work lies in the intention of the author and that the practice of interpretation is about recovering that intention, which requires not only close reading but also familiarity with the author’s life, the social and historical context of the work, and the literary genres and tropes employed in the work. Well, this poem was written by a CONTINUE READING: Bob Shepherd: Assessing E.D. Hirsch Jr. and Cultural Literacy | Diane Ravitch's blog

Despite Cruel Conditions at the Border and Threatened ICE Raids, Educators Across U.S. Strive to Serve Immigrant Children | janresseger

Despite Cruel Conditions at the Border and Threatened ICE Raids, Educators Across U.S. Strive to Serve Immigrant Children | janresseger

Despite Cruel Conditions at the Border and Threatened ICE Raids, Educators Across U.S. Strive to Serve Immigrant Children

There is a disconnect between the education policy debates and what is really happening in public schools.  In Wednesday’s NY TimesMiriam Jordan captured that reality.  Jordon’s story describes public school educators’ work across the country to serve the needs of children whose schooling has been delayed and interrupted by the journeys they and their families have undertaken.
While legislators have been haggling over the state budgets that generally underfund our public schools, and while our U.S. Secretary of Education and her fellow advocates promote various kinds of school vouchers and privately operated charter schools, Jordan describes the hard work of school district professionals trying to serve the needs of immigrant students who may worry about threatened ICE raids, who may have survived harrowing border crossings, or who may have endured long stays in the detention centers where children are being warehoused.
The 1982, U.S. Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe protects the right of every child living in the United States to a free and accessible public education. Jordan writes: “Under a 1982 Supreme Court decision, all children, regardless of immigration status, are entitled to a K through 12 education. With hundreds of thousands of new parents and children crossing the border in recent months, districts across the country are having to transfer teachers to affected schools, expand bilingual training for staff and prepare for students who may be traumatized.”
Most of us are satisfied not to think too much about what happens to immigrant children at school.  Maybe we just assume that public schools will somehow take care of the needs of these children; many of us are willing to criticize schools when the children fail to learn English or catch up with their studies in a mere matter of months.  Few of us try to imagine CONTINUE READING: Despite Cruel Conditions at the Border and Threatened ICE Raids, Educators Across U.S. Strive to Serve Immigrant Children | janresseger

Leaders of teachers unions: America’s democracy is at risk - The Washington Post

Leaders of teachers unions: America’s democracy is at risk - The Washington Post

Leaders of teachers unions: America’s democracy is at risk

The presidents of the nation’s two major teachers union — together, they count close to 5 million members — told delegates at their annual conventions that America’s democracy is at risk and placed the blame squarely on President Trump.
Lily Eskelsen Garc√≠a, president of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union in the country with some 3 million members, said this month in Houston that she believes “our democracy itself is in grave danger of being corrupted.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which is among the country’s largest unions with 1.7 million members, said: “Our democracy is under assault. . . . While our democracy has never been perfect, today its very existence is threatened.”
The two leaders gave scathing appraisals of Trump’s performance, saying that he has assaulted America’s fundamental institutions and that U.S. democracy could be lost if citizens don’t fight back. Though these unions have long offered political support for Democrats, their leaders have never used such stark language to describe the state of the nation.
Eskelsen Garc√≠a and Weingarten also blasted Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, a longtime critic of labor unions. Weingarten announced Thursday that the AFT was suing DeVos, accusing the Education Department of making it “virtually impossible” for people to secure public service loan forgiveness.
Labor voting power has diminished over the past several decades as the structure of the economy has changed, but the union movement, and these two unions, could determine an election. Their support of Hillary Clinton in 2016 was not enough to send her to the White House, but Democratic candidates have not been shy about seeking endorsements.
There were predictions — even by union leaders — of steep membership drops after the Supreme Court ruling last year in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The court declared CONTINUE READING: Leaders of teachers unions: America’s democracy is at risk - The Washington Post

Jonetta Rose Barras and Thomas Byrd: on 7/11/19 Education Town Hall – Education Town Hall Forum

Jonetta Rose Barras and Thomas Byrd: on 7/11/19 Education Town Hall – Education Town Hall Forum

JONETTA ROSE BARRAS AND THOMAS BYRD: ON 7/11/19 EDUCATION TOWN HALL

On the July 11, 2019 show of Education Town Hall, host Thomas Byrd explored a variety of topics about DC’s schools with DC investigative reporter and political commentator Jonetta Rose Barras.


They began their wide-ranging conversation discussing mayoral control of DCPS schools, which began in 2007, and how it has effectively resulted in mayors who have been disengaged from schools, with the council not fulfilling an effective watchdog role. For instance, recent underfunding of Ward 7 & Ward 8 DCPS schools follows historic patterns of disinvestment in the city’s poorest wards. Yet, with new selective high schools (Bard and an expanded Banneker), high schools in those wards will lose yet more students and resources, which in turn ensures the entire system of schools of right suffers.
They also discussed the difficult budgeting that principals are forced into because of how money is designated and allocated, including at risk funds, designated for some of the city’s most vulnerable children, not getting to the students who need it the most.
And they discussed charter schools, including the harm caused by charter proliferation in DC; the irony of charters being created to foster innovation, not choice; and the problems of charters as private businesses, including SEED using DC tax money to grow its business in other jurisdictions.
— V. Jablow, 7/11/19
The Education Town Hall with Thomas Byrd
broadcasts from Historic Anacostia
in Washington, DC, on We Act Radio,
Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. Eastern
New programming 2nd and 4th Thursdays, alternating with classic shows.
Listen live via TuneIn.
Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.
After years of weekly broadcasts, the program now focuses one show each month on local issues and one on “the BUS,” organized by BadAss TeachersUnited Opt Out, and SOS March.

Charter Schools: Your Time Is Up | Real Learning CT

Charter Schools: Your Time Is Up | Real Learning CT

Charter Schools: Your Time Is Up

In 1954 in Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.
In 1996 in Sheff vs. O’Neill, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the state had an affirmative obligation to provide Connecticut’s school children with a substantially equal educational opportunity and that this constitutionally guaranteed right encompasses the access to a public education which is not substantially and materially impaired by racial and ethnic isolation.
In 2019, the Connecticut State Board of Education allows charter schools in Connecticut to violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. the Board of Education and violate the Connecticut Supreme Court ruling in Sheff vs. O’Neill.
For shame.
Wendy Lecker and Robert Cotto, Jr. explain how the charter school industry reinforces racial segregation and provides children in Connecticut charter schools with an education that is separate and unequal.
Charter schools do not work.
We must have just one public school system in Connecticut funded by our tax dollars. We must have just one public school system in Connecticut that CONTINUE READING: Charter Schools: Your Time Is Up | Real Learning CT

Is *Progressive Charter School* an Oxymoron? – Have You Heard

Is *Progressive Charter School* an Oxymoron? – Have You Heard

Is *Progressive Charter School* an Oxymoron?

Remember back in the early days of the charter school movement when charter proponents used to talk about 1,000 flowers blooming? Well, a funny thing happened to all of those flowers when they encountered an education marketplace where test scores and competition reign supreme. In this episode we meet the winner of the first-ever Have You Heard graduate student research contest, Elise Castillo, who researched the fate of three progressive New York City charter schools. We talk to Elise about what she learned and why market-based education reform may finally be losing its, well, market share. Warning: this episode contains multiple references to Jennifer’s favorite buzzword! Full transcript available here. And if you like the pod, supporting us on Patreon.