Latest News and Comment from Education

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

NYC Public School Parents: Commissioner Elia resigns; let's hope for a better one next time!

NYC Public School Parents: Commissioner Elia resigns; let's hope for a better one next time!

Commissioner Elia resigns; let's hope for a better one next time!

The serious concerns we expressed yesterday and shared with the Board of Regents about NYSED's new proposed privacy regs were overwhelmed in news of CommissionerElia's sudden resignation.  What wasn't reported on in the media crush, at least as far as I've noticed, is that the Regents were set to discuss whether to fire her during their annual retreat that started yesterday afternoon.  Clearly, Elia jumped the gun with her announcement and as a result, she was able to control the narrative, with many of the news stories featured overly positive review of her regime.

Last year, the final RAND report on the teacher evaluation project was released, showing that the initiative she led in Hillsborough County before she was fired by that school board and came to NY had no positive results and in fact, resulted in less access to effective teachers for high-needs kids.  In addition, the initiative left the district in severe fiscal disarray.

I recall when NYSAPE members and I met with her after she was first appointed in 2015.  We detailed the issues with the invalid, overly long and developmentally inappropriate state tests and Common Core standards, as well as many other problems ranging from the state's refusal to oversee the increases in NYC class sizes to their laggardly pace in enforcing the 2014 student privacy law.  She said very little, but ended by claiming that somehow, all the problems with the tests would be solved by putting them online. Never did I suspect it would take four more years for them to issue regulations to enact the 2014 student privacy law, and when they did they would attempt to eliminate the ban against selling student data or using it for marketing purposes.


During her time in NY, she never seemed to grasp just how awful the tests were, and compounded their abusive nature by administering them untimed, which led to some CONTINUE READING: 
NYC Public School Parents: Commissioner Elia resigns; let's hope for a better one next time!


CURMUDGUCATION: Eight Weeks Of Summer: Getting It Done

CURMUDGUCATION: Eight Weeks Of Summer: Getting It Done

Eight Weeks Of Summer: Getting It Done

This post is week 6 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

I've been doing this challenge because why not. I answer the prompts as my pre-tirement self. Here's this week's question:

How are you planning to implement change next school year?

This often depended on the change. For lots of changes, I just did it. Changing how I approached vocabulary? Just did it. Changing the reading list for Honors English? Just did it. Experimenting with my room lay out (like the year I got rid of desks)-- get help from the custodial staff, and then just did it.


My school was generally supportive of teacher autonomy in many areas (whether this was a matter of trust or indifference was always a topic of discussion), and so I was free to do a lot of implementing on my own. However, there was one element that was supremely important--

Communication.

I worked with a wide variety of principals over my career, and I can't say that any of them were that concerned with the nuts and bolts of English classroom instruction. Nevertheless, I still told them what was going on. In particular, my rule at all times with administrators is that anything that might result in a phone call had to be communicated to them first.

Everybody wants a supportive boss, but you make being supportive hard when you set your boss up to be blindsided. If she's getting a call asking, "What the hell does Mr. Greene think he's doing with CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Eight Weeks Of Summer: Getting It Done





As Hate Incidents Rise, States Require Teaching the Holocaust | The Pew Charitable Trusts

As Hate Incidents Rise, States Require Teaching the Holocaust | The Pew Charitable Trusts

As Hate Incidents Rise, States Require Teaching the Holocaust



The Pew Charitable Trusts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Claire Sarnowski of Lake Oswego, Oregon, met Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener at a school event five years ago when she was 9 years old.
Because her aunt had arranged the talk by the Holocaust survivor, and served as his escort to the school and back, Sarnowski got to ride along when Wiener was driven home. The two started talking and formed an immediate bond. They kept in touch, with Sarnowski often persuading someone to drive her to see Wiener at his home in Hillsboro, Oregon, about an hour away from where he spoke. They shared meals and stories. Sarnowski became increasingly interested in Wiener’s tales of living under Hitler during World War II and his life since then.
She thought other kids should learn about them too and began a campaign to get a state law requiring Holocaust education in Oregon schools. Last month, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown signed that law, with Sarnowski, now age 14, looking on. Even though Wiener died late last year at 92, Oregon students will continue to learn the lessons he shared.
Oregon is the 12th state to enact such a law, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Most of the states have acted in the past few years, and bills are pending in another dozen states.


In a telephone interview, Sarnowski said it’s very hard for young people to relate to the Holocaust, particularly in that there are fewer survivors around for them to talk to. It was the personal talks with Wiener, she said, that made it real for her. Surveys show that Sarnowski’s instinct is on target regarding young people.
Ignorance about the Holocaust is growing, particularly among young people. A survey last year showed that two-thirds of U.S. millennials were not familiar with Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp complex, located near Krakow, Poland. More than 1.1 million people were gassed, shot or starved at Auschwitz, including nearly a million Jews. Overall, the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, plus millions of Roma, homosexuals and others.
The Holocaust was the largest genocide in history, but not the last one. More recent examples include the Khmer Rouge’s killing of about 2 million Cambodian dissidents CONTINUE READING: As Hate Incidents Rise, States Require Teaching the Holocaust | The Pew Charitable Trusts

DeVos' use of personal email as secretary probed by House Democrats - POLITICO

DeVos' use of personal email as secretary probed by House Democrats - POLITICO

DeVos' use of personal email as secretary probed by House Democrats

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings said Monday that he is expanding an investigation into the use of personal email by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Cummings told DeVos in a letter that his move came after "disturbing new revelations" released by the Education Department's inspector general in May about how DeVos had used personal email while on the job.

“New information has now come to light indicating that you and other Department officials violated the Department’s prohibition on using personal email accounts to conduct official business, violated the requirement in the Federal Records Act to forward these emails to your official account within 20 days, and violated the requirement in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to produce relevant records in response to public requests,” wrote Cummings (D-Md.).

Cummings told DeVos the new information indicates that she "withheld from the Committee information it has been seeking on a bipartisan basis over the past two years.” He also sought new related documents by July 29.

In response, Liz Hill, a department spokesperson, said the letter was "nothing more than political grandstanding."

"The IG has already done a thorough report on this issue. There is nothing to see here," Hill said in an email. CONTINUE READING: DeVos' use of personal email as secretary probed by House Democrats - POLITICO



Are Phones Distracting Teachers Too? - Teacher Habits

Are Phones Distracting Teachers Too? - Teacher Habits

Are Phones Distracting Teachers Too?

Guest Writer: Frankie Wallace
It’s hard to find anyone without a smartphone nowadays. Adults and kids alike seem to be glued to these handheld devices around the clock. While smartphones are meant to keep us connected and help us access useful information and tools, they can also end up causing a lot of problems — especially in the classroom. 
In 2015, Apple sold 300 million devices, which equates to just under 1 million devices being sold each day. The smartphone trend hasn’t stopped from there. In 2019, the number of smartphone users is expected to increase to 2.5 billion. It’s not just adults using these devices, either; about 56% of kids ages 8-12 in the U.S. have a smartphone, and that number increases when it comes to teenagers. It’s no surprise that smartphones in the classroom have become a problem in recent years. 
Cell phones can obviously be a distraction to students in school with so many apps, social media, and the ability to text friends. They’ve become such a problem, in fact, that some schools have pushed to ban them from the classroom. But is it just students who are distracted by smartphones, or are teachers struggling too? 

What Are the Risks of Too Much Smartphone Use?

Smartphone addiction is real, and the risk of it affecting adults is dangerously high. Don’t think you have a problem? Consider this: On average, smartphone users look at their device 80 times a day. This CONTINUE READING: Are Phones Distracting Teachers Too? - Teacher Habits

AFT PRESIDENT WEINGARTEN: PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR RICARDO ROSSELLO IS “REPREHENSIBLE” MUST RESIGN “IMMEDIATELY” | Black Star News

AFT PRESIDENT WEINGARTEN: PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR RICARDO ROSSELLO IS “REPREHENSIBLE” MUST RESIGN “IMMEDIATELY” | Black Star News

AFT PRESIDENT WEINGARTEN: PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR RICARDO ROSSELLO IS “REPREHENSIBLE” MUST RESIGN “IMMEDIATELY”

[Puerto Rico News]
AFT's Weingarten: says to Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello "it’s time to uphold your promise to lead by example and quit.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
AFT President Weingarten demands Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello resign because of "vile, hateful and criminal statements."
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement calling on Puerto Rico’s governor to resign immediately:
“When Gov. Rossello took the oath of office, he stated that he would lead by example and set high expectations for his government. We see now that the example he has set is one of corruption, cronyism and contempt for the people of Puerto Rico.
“In the last few days, evidence has surfaced showing the governor, his top aides, consultants and cabinet members engaging in online conversations over many months that are full of vile, hateful and criminal statements.
“It’s not simply what the governor or former chief financial officer Christian Sobrino have said about people in the diaspora who have tried to help the island, like entertainer Ricky Martin or Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former speaker of the New York City Council; that is disgusting enough. What the governor and his administration have said and done to the workers, the teachers of Puerto Rico, rises to a different level of outrage.
“In a dispute over teacher pay with Asociaci贸n de Maestros de Puerto Rico president Aida D铆az Rivera, Sobrino wrote, “I’m salivating to shoot her.” The governor answered that this would be “a favor” to him. In another conversation, he called the teachers union a group of “terrorists” and stated that he would not negotiate with them.
“Julia Keleher, former secretary of the island’s Department of Education, was arrested last week by the FBI for an alleged corruption scheme that CONTINUE READING: AFT PRESIDENT WEINGARTEN: PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR RICARDO ROSSELLO IS “REPREHENSIBLE” MUST RESIGN “IMMEDIATELY” | Black Star News



With A Brooklyn Accent: The Faces of Deported Children in the French Holocaust Museum #NEVERAGAIN!

With A Brooklyn Accent: The Faces of Deported Children in the French Holocaust Museum

The Faces of Deported Children in the French Holocaust Museum
Along with the literally scores of positive memories that I will treasure from our 10 day trip to France, there is one image that will haunt me for all my days
. It comes from the Shoah ( Holocaust) Museum in Paris and it was inspired by a small room, with chairs in the middle, that contains 4,000 photographs, mounted floor to ceiling, of Jewish children deported from France to death camps during World War 2. For twenty minutes, Liz and I started at the faces. Some were baby pictures, some school pictures, some candid shots of teenagers enjoying one another or photos of children at play. That these innocent youngsters saw their promising lives erased because of hatred so great that it saw them as a danger reminds us how destructive, irrational and truly evil racism is.

This is not just history and it is not just France. The devaluation of children's lives, as my friend Stacy Patton has written eloquently, has been an integral part of how African Americans have been treated in the US, and it has resurfaced  in the deportation and detention policies of this Administration.
Deportations and Detention camps for children, are sad to say, integral parts of our current political reality in the USA.
After viewing the pictures of deported and dead children in the Paris Shoah Museum, I will resist those policies with every ounce of energy at my disposal
With A Brooklyn Accent: The Faces of Deported Children in the French Holocaust Museum

The MetWest High School Story (Part 1) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

The MetWest High School Story (Part 1) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

The MetWest High School Story (Part 1)


Readers who have followed this blog know that I am writing a book about success and failure in American schools. Over the past year I have posted sections including descriptions of teachers I observed in two California high schools: Social Justice Humanitas Academy in Los Angeles Unified School District and MetWest High School in Oakland Unified School District. I have already posted the history and operation of SJHA and in a multi-part series, I now describe MetWest High School.
Oakland Unified School District: MetWest High School
MetWest High School is neither a magnet nor charter. Founded in 2002 as a Big Picture Learning school (more below), it is part of OUSD’s decades-long effort to create small innovative, academically strong, and caring schools for children of color in a district that is largely minority and poor, and low-performing on state metrics of “success.” That small schools strategy begun in the early 1990s yielded many new schools yet strained a district budget subject to school board overspending, accounting errors and poor projections. Oakland Unified’s history of financial crises was well known in the Bay area including a state takeover for fiscal mismanagement. [i]
OUSD has an average daily attendance of over 34,000 students distributed across 121 elementary, middle, and high schools (2018). Of the 121 schools, nearly one out of four is a charter (2018). In addition to charter schools, OUSD has alternative schools, magnets, and thematic schools. The district has 87 of those schools with an average size of 412 students (2018), prompting repeated public calls amid annual budget deficits to close the smallest of these schools.[ii]
In 2019, it faced a fiscal deficit requiring substantial budget cuts, identifying CONTINUE READING: The MetWest High School Story (Part 1) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice



Schooling in the Ownership Society: K12 Inc. Data Breach Puts thousands of students at risk

Schooling in the Ownership Society: K12 Inc. Data Breach Puts thousands of students at risk

K12 Inc. Data Breach Puts thousands of students at risk

It's hard to believe school districts are still contracting with this horrible company.

K12 Inc. is the largest for-profit online alternative to actual public schooling. Trump's Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos touts the company and other for-profit cyber charter schools as a viable alternative to public schools. But her support for K12 Inc. and other private companies that run them, may have more to do with her and her husband's investment portfolio than with any positive results for students.

The company has been rocked with scandal and has long been under investigation for its shady business dealings. Here's the latest...


A K12 Inc. company database that included information for 19,000 students was available for anyone with an internet connection to see for at least a week, according to a report from Comparitech, which describes itself as a pro-consumer organization that offers security services.
It's not clear that anyone with ill intentions accessed the information during the data exposure, which lasted from June 23 until July 1.
The data came from the for-profit virtual education provider's A+nyWhere Learning System, a software package used by more than CONTINUE READING: Schooling in the Ownership Society: K12 Inc. Data Breach Puts thousands of students at risk