Latest News and Comment from Education

Friday, September 27, 2019

AFT and Medicare for All - Randi Weingarten - Medium

AFT and Medicare for All - Randi Weingarten - Medium

AFT and Medicare for All

This was submitted as a letter to the editor of Jacobin magazine.
In his Sept. 26 Jacobin article — “Why Is Teachers Union President Randi Weingarten Attacking Medicare for All?” — AFT member Ben Curttright says he was upset and disappointed by my advocacy for universal healthcare coverage as well as my effort to lift up all of the 2020 Democratic candidates’ proposals to expand coverage. He wants me simply and exclusively to champion “Medicare for All.”
It’s Ben’s right to champion Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal, and I am supportive of AFT members fighting for diverse viewpoints and positions. We agree that we must make healthcare a basic, universal human right — a right that too many people are still living without — which is what I argued for in my op-ed with which he takes issue. But where Ben and I differ is that I don’t believe there is just one way to get there. The conversation about how to provide that access to healthcare is an important one, but asserting that every progressive in America wants an immediate and permanent transition to one public system is inaccurate.
I argued for Medicare for all as a floor, not a ceiling, with a role if people want for private insurance. This exists right now for people like my father CONTINUE READING: AFT and Medicare for All - Randi Weingarten - Medium

CURMUDGUCATION: Stanford: Opportunity And Testing Baloney

CURMUDGUCATION: Stanford: Opportunity And Testing Baloney

Stanford: Opportunity And Testing Baloney

Look, it's not that I want everyone to stop any discussion of Big Standardized Test scores at all forever (okay, I might, but I recognize that I'm a radical in this issue and I also recognize that reasonable people may disagree with me). But what I really want everyone to stop pretending that the BS Test scores are an acceptable proxy for other factors.

But here comes a new "data tool" from Stanford, and watch how EdWeek opens its piece about the new tool:

An interactive data tool from the Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University creates the first database that attempts to measure the performance of every elementary and middle school in the country.

The data set not only provides academic achievement for schools, districts, and states around the country, but it also allows those entities to be compared to one another, even though they don't all use the same state tests.


No no no no no NO no no no hell no. The tool does not measure the performance of every school in the country, and it does not provide academic achievement either. It allows folks to compare the math and reading scores on the BS Tests across state lines. That's it. That's all. It's a clever method of comparing apples to oranges, but that's all. Academic achievement? It covers two academic areas, and not very well at that.

(And while I'm ranting, let me also point out that schools do not perform. Students, teachers, staff, other human beings-- they perform. Schools sit there. If we start talking about performing schools, before you know it we start spouting dumb things like "low-achieving schools have a large number of low-scoring students" as if that's an analysis and not a definition.)

But maybe this is a press and reporting CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Stanford: Opportunity And Testing Baloney

Shawgi Tell: No Justification for the Existence of Charter Schools | Dissident Voice

No Justification for the Existence of Charter Schools | Dissident Voice

No Justification for the Existence of Charter Schools

One of the main claims to fame of privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools is that they will deliver bigger and better results than public schools in exchange for greater flexibility and autonomy to operate than public schools.
Two recent reports, however, build on extensive previous research which shows that academic performance in privately operated charter schools, which have been around nearly 30 years, is weak or no better than academic performance in public schools.
Charter schools, which annually siphon billions of dollars from public schools and are often rife with corruption, have not delivered on the big promises they have made for decades.
First Report
New Mexico passed legislation enabling the creation of privately-operated charter schools more than 20 years ago. Currently, the state has about 25,000 students enrolled in approximately 100 charter schools.
In September 2019, the neoliberal pro-charter school Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University published a detailed report showing that academic performance in privately-operated charter CONTINUE READING: No Justification for the Existence of Charter Schools | Dissident Voice

Sacramento, Calif., Cops Who Shot and Killed an Unarmed #StephonClark Are Headed Back to the Streets

Sacramento, Calif., Cops Who Shot and Killed an Unarmed #StephonClark Are Headed Back to the Streets

Sacramento, Calif., Cops Who Shot and Killed an Unarmed #StephonClark Are Headed Back to the Streets

The two Sacramento, Calif., cops who shot and killed an unarmed Stephon Clark as he stood in his grandparents’ backyard last year not only will face no charges—but they have been cleared to return to duty.
Minutes after the Justice Department decided not to pursue civil rights charges against Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet in the March 2018 shooting death of Clark, Sacramento police on Thursday announced they had cleared them as well, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Echoing the Justice Department’s finding of no culpability on Mercadal’s and Robinet’s parts, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said, “The use of deadly force in this case was lawful. Our internal investigation concluded that there were no violations of department policy or training.”
But while that finding came as no surprise, no matter how unwelcome for Clark’s family, Hahn’s next statement was jarring:
“The officers involved in this case will return to full, active duty.”
Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, in a Facebook message he posted Thursday as he and other family members met with DOJ and Sacramento police officials, expressed bitterness about the outcome.
“These people have failed when it comes to #Accountability,” he wrote, the Sacramento Bee reports, later telling the paper: “I’m not surprised or shocked, we’ve been denied justice for generations. The only thing that caught me off CONTINUE READING: Sacramento, Calif., Cops Who Shot and Killed an Unarmed #StephonClark Are Headed Back to the Streets


Education Research Report



Do Kids Fall Behind in Math Because There Isn’t Enough Grade-Level Material, or Because There’s Too Much? It’s Both

Complete report New Classrooms Innovation Partners W alk into almost any classroom in America, and you’ll find at least some students who’ve fallen behind the academic standards for their grade — meaning they’re at risk of not learning everything they’ll need to be ready for college and the lives they want to lead. Helping these students get back on the path to grade-level proficiency is one of t
Automatic Enrollment Increases Contributions to Supplement Retirement Programs by K-12 and University Employees

This study examines the impact of the adoption of automatic enrollment provisions by schools and universities in the state of South Dakota for its supplemental retirement saving plan (SRP). In South Dakota, educational personnel are also covered by a defined benefit pension plan and by Social Security. Thus, career public employees in South Dakota can expect a life time annuity from these two pro
The School to Prison Pipeline: Long-Run Impacts of School Suspensions on Adult Crime

. Schools face important policy tradeoffs in monitoring and managing student behavior. Strict discipline policies may stigmatize suspended students and expose them to the criminal justice system at a young age. On the other hand, strict discipline acts as a deterrent and limits harmful spillovers of misbehavior onto other students. This paper estimates the net impact of school discipline on stude
Breaking Down Barriers: Understanding Hispanic High School Students’ Perceptions on the Transition to College

. Hispanic students make up roughly 18 percent of all college students and are one of the largest minority groups on U.S. campuses. However, Hispanic students tend to meet ACT College Readiness Benchmarks at lower rates, on average, than their non-Hispanic White counterparts. In addition, Hispanic students may face added barriers in navigating the landscape of the college application process, le
SEPTEMBER 2019 Using Chronic Absence Data to Improve Conditions for Learning

Reducing chronic absence goes hand in hand with cultivating positive conditions for learning. When schools provide engaging, supportive, welcoming and culturally responsive environments, families are inclined to help their children get to school, and students are motivated to attend, even when there are hurdles to getting there. Likewise, when students attend class consistently, positive conditio
Mathematics Anxiety in the Transition From Elementary School to Junior High

Mathematics anxiety negatively impacts cognitive processing, performance, expectations, motivation, and future choices. However, research has not examined patterns in students’ mathematics anxiety levels over time. The current study addresses this gap by exploring group-based trajectories in mathematics anxiety during the transition to junior high school. Five trajectories are described: consiste


Kids in poor, urban schools learn just as much as others

Schools serving disadvantaged and minority children teach as much to their students as those serving more advantaged kids, according to a new nationwide study. The results may seem surprising, given that student test 
Education Research Report

Confessions of a Reluctant Radical | Diane Ravitch's blog

Confessions of a Reluctant Radical | Diane Ravitch's blog

Confessions of a Reluctant Radical

Cheryl Gibbs was not an activist. She just wanted to teach her children in a Virginia public school and ignore politics. But step by step, she realized that there was a coordinated attack on public schools. One thing led to another. She joined the union. She became a union rep. She became a BAT.
And when she retired, she became a full-fledged member of the Resistance. The Resistance fights privatization. It fights the replacement of experienced teachers by TFA and artificial intelligence. It fights for real education, real teachers, real public schools.
She begins:
When I began teaching twenty years ago, my activism was caring about children; loving them, helping them discover their most complete, healthy, and most fulfilled selves as they grew. I  read the mainstream news and voted. That was about the extent of it. 
I joined the union, like many teachers, to have the liability insurance that I knew a teacher might need when classes included at-risk and emotionally disordered students. When I was asked to be a union co-rep for my building, the promise was, “You only have to attend one meeting a month and fill-in when the “real rep” isn’t available.” I reluctantly agreed to serve.
Yet here I am. 
Voluntarily retired two years earlier CONTINUE READING: Confessions of a Reluctant Radical | Diane Ravitch's blog

Stigma Buster: Schools Look at Mental Health Days for Students

Stigma Buster: Schools Look at Mental Health Days for Students

Stigma Buster: Schools Look at Mental Health Days for Students

As more school districts across the country implement programs to address student mental health, cutting through the stigma that surrounds this issue is a formidable challenge. Too often a discussion about mental health is constrained by uncomfortable silences, suggestions that teenagers are maybe just lazy or incapable of handling any sort of pressure, or just outright denial.
This past summer, a group of students in Oregon did their part to help open up the conversation. They successfully lobbied the state legislature to pass a law that added mental health to the list of excusable absences. When the bill was signed into law in June, Oregon joined Utah as the one of the only states in the country to establish mental health days for students.
To skeptics, the law seemed unnecessary (many schools already permit these absences) and liable to spark a surge in absentee students.
Supporters say these concerns miss the point. The law is important because it opens up lines of communication, says Debbie Plotnick of Mental Health America. She hopes the change will help kids feel more comfortable talking with their parents and teachers.
“Acknowledging that students may be experiencing a mental health issue and allowing them to be excused to tend to their mental health encourages CONTINUE READING: Stigma Buster: Schools Look at Mental Health Days for Students

The AFT’s Randi Weingarten attacks Medicare for All. – Fred Klonsky

The AFT’s Randi Weingarten attacks Medicare for All. – Fred Klonsky


The president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten has decided to go against her own union’s official position and join her centrist Democratic allies in opposing national health care, also known as Medicare for All.
In 2018, the AFT approved a resolution in support of defending and expanding the Affordable Care Act, then under attack by the Republicans.
RESOLVED, that the AFT reaffirms that the most sensible and cost-effective solution for health coverage is a single-payer system modeled after the federal Medicare system, such as that proposed by S.B. 1804 and H.R. 676; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT will educate and mobilize its members and our broader community to support universal healthcare coverage.
On Monday, Weingarten wrote a commentary for Politico defending work-based health insurance and  therefore opposing Medicare for All, calling them “false choices.”
Like many other labor leaders, I have sat across a bargaining CONTINUE READING: The AFT’s Randi Weingarten attacks Medicare for All. – Fred Klonsky

Lavish Lobbying Ensures that Washington, D.C. Charter Schools Remain Unregulated | janresseger

Lavish Lobbying Ensures that Washington, D.C. Charter Schools Remain Unregulated | janresseger

Lavish Lobbying Ensures that Washington, D.C. Charter Schools Remain Unregulated

Rachel M. Cohen is a fine investigative reporter, whose stories have appeared in The American ProspectThe InterceptThe Atlantic, the Washington PostSlateThe Nation, and a number of other publications. Her most recent investigation explores a topic that is much in the news: the seeming impossibility of regulating charter schools more than two decades after enabling legislation across state legislatures—and Congressional legislation for Washington, D.C.—created them as an experiment in innovation.
Government oversight of charter schools makes sense to many of us.  Charter schools are a form of government contracting.  They are publicly funded and privately operated.  As publicly funded institutions, they ought to be responsible for adhering to the laws that protect their students’ rights.  And surely, charter schools ought to be regulated to protect the investment of tax dollars. But in Washington, D.C., as in many other places, charter school operators and advocates continue to push hard against even modest public oversight.
For the Washington City PaperCohen investigates the all the forces that have prevented public oversight of charter schools in the nation’s capital—a city where Congress is directly involved in local school district affairs: “When (Bill) Clinton signed the School Reform Act into law in the spring of 1996, it was over the strong objection of D.C.’s non-voting Congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, who protested Congress’ interference in the city’s local affairs.” “In 2001, D.C.’s inspector general and its chief financial officer, Charles Maddox and Natwar Gandhi, respectively, testified before Congress asking for greater authority to oversee local charter school finances. The following year Gandhi turned to the (D.C.) Council to ask for legislative authority over the schools, saying that all charters should be assessed by a single auditing firm, selected by the D.C. government.”
Local leaders demanded additional oversight of charter schools in the District of Columbia for CONTINUE READING: Lavish Lobbying Ensures that Washington, D.C. Charter Schools Remain Unregulated | janresseger

Chicago: CTU Votes Overwhelmingly to Strike | Diane Ravitch's blog #REDFORED

Chicago: CTU Votes Overwhelmingly to Strike | Diane Ravitch's blog

Chicago: CTU Votes Overwhelmingly to Strike

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Ronnie Reese

Ninety-four percent of CTU members vote to authorize strike for schools Chicago’s students deserve

Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates governing body will set strike date at Wednesday, Oct. 2, meeting.
CHICAGO, September 26, 2019—The Chicago Teachers Union this evening released totals of the Sept. 24-26 strike authorization vote. The CTU Rules and Election Committee reported that as of 9:30 p.m., the Union passed the 75 percent threshold of members voting “yes.” Ninety-four percent of teachers, clinicians, PSRPs, nurses, librarians voted to authorize a strike to win the schools Chicago’s students deserve.
The vote stands as a mandate from CTU members for Chicago Public Schools to uphold promises of equity and educational justice made by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and that those promises must be in writing in an enforceable contract. This is the only way to hold the district to its word after decades of austerity, budget cuts, understaffing, school closings and privatization.
The CTU House of Delegates will convene for its next scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 2, to set a strike date. The earliest the Union could CONTINUE READING: Chicago: CTU Votes Overwhelmingly to Strike | Diane Ravitch's blog