Friday, October 4, 2019

CURMUDGUCATION: A Teacher's Final Lesson

CURMUDGUCATION: A Teacher's Final Lesson

A Teacher's Final Lesson

If you live in western Pennsylvania, you may already know the story of Ashley Kuzma. If you don't, I'd like to share it with you.

Kuzma was born in Beaver County, PA, and graduated from Freedom Area High School in 2005. She attended Pitt where she earned a Bachelor's in History and Poli Sci, and Edinboro University, where she earned a Master's in Education and a teaching certificate. She worked as a long term sub teaching social studies, then later became a gifted support teacher for Lancaster schools, then taught gifted at McDowell Intermediate High School.


Teaching was a challenge as she suffered from throat problems that made her increasingly hoarse. A biopsy revealed those problems to be the result of laryngeal cancer. She went through radiation treatments, then a partial laryngectomy. She returned for the final day of school with a feeding tube. Then the cancer came back. In September  of 2018, she went into the Cleveland Clinic for a total laryngectomy, plus 30 radiation and 5 chemotherapy treatments. She returned to the classroom, able to speak softly with the aid of a prosthesis held against a permanent opening in her neck. As a young teacher, she did not have nearly enough sick days accumulated to cover her absences, so much of her treatment occurred during unpaid leave.

Her story became more widely known when a friend entered her in a Norwegian Cruise Lines contest that offered free cruises for 30 teachers who showed a passion for teaching. Kuzma was one of the winners.

Before it was time to leave for the cruise, Kuzma learned that her cancer was back. She traveled to Mexico and Chichen Itza. Her treatment options were limited.

On September 22, Ashley Kuzma died at the age of 32.

Before she passed away, Kuzma completed one other exceptional act. She wrote her own obituary. Here are some excerpts:

When you have recurrent laryngeal cancer that just won't take no for an answer, you have a lot of CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: A Teacher's Final Lesson


How America Killed Play—and What We Can Do to Bring it Back | STACK

How America Killed Play—and What We Can Do to Bring it Back | STACK

How America Killed Play—and What We Can Do to Bring it Back

In our last piece from our interview with play expert Dr. Peter Gray, we outlined the five criteria of play. For an activity to truly be considered play, it must:
  • Be self-chosen and self-directed
  • Be done for its own sake and not an outside reward
  • Have some sort of rules/structure
  • Have an element of imagination
  • Be conducted in an alert frame of mind
When you break it down like that, much of what modern parents think of as play doesn't actually qualify. The truth is play has been gradually declining for the past five or six decades, but it seems to have come to a head in the last 10 years. According to the Child Mind Institute, American kids now spend an average of just 4-7 minutes a day on unstructured outdoor play, and elementary schools across the country are reducing or entirely eliminating recess. Play is an absolutely critical part of our youth, as it develops life skills in a way which is very hard to replicate elsewhere. How did this crucial component of the human experience get so diminished?
The 1950s were something of a "golden era" of play. The post-World War II baby boom left no shortage of potential playmates for a kid, and child labor laws passed in the late 1930s meant children could no longer be forced to toil inside factories or coal mines. Schools had multiple recesses throughout the day, the concept of homework barely existed, and the school year itself was about 4-5 weeks shorter.
"School was not the big deal it is today. Parents were not involved. You went home, you were home. School happened at school, when you were out of school, you were out of school," says Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College and the author of the book Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life. The culmination of these factors created a generation where kids played for hours each and every day.
"You could go out anytime during daylight and you'd find kids playing with no adults around. Parents shoo'd you outdoors, they didn't want you in the house—moms especially," Gray says. Organized youth sports were still in their infancy, and if they did occur, they were a far cry from some of the ultra-expensive, ultra- CONTINUE READING: How America Killed Play—and What We Can Do to Bring it Back | STACK

Parents' Complaint: Nick Melvoin's Lips Weren't Sealed | Capital & Main

Parents' Complaint: Nick Melvoin's Lips Weren't Sealed | Capital & Main

Parents’ Complaint: Nick Melvoin’s Lips Weren’t Sealed
Did a Los Angeles school board member leak confidential information to charter school lobbyists?

An ethics heat advisory in effect for Los Angeles Unified school board member Nick Melvoin got considerably hotter last week after a group of “concerned” district moms and public school supporters signed letters requesting formal investigations into alleged misbehavior by the pro-charter board rep. The letters were appended with 500 signatures from the group’s online petition, said parent activist Emiliana Dore, one of the five parents who signed the letters. According to Dore the informal group, which had met on social media boards like Public School Families and Parents Supporting Teachers, filed complaints with the L.A. city attorney’s office, the LAUSD inspector general and the State Bar of California. Their accusations are based on California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) meeting memos obtained under the state’s Public Records Act and published in July by the independent online muckraker site Michael Kohlhaas dot org. The charge? That at a private, February 20, 2018 meeting between Melvoin (a non-practicing attorney and CalBar member), local CCSA political operatives and L.A. charter school operators, Melvoin leaked confidential district legal strategy that proved beneficial to CCSA.

Learning Curves” is a weekly roundup of news items, profiles and dish about the intersection of education and inequality. Send tips, feedback and announcements of upcoming events to braden@capitalandmain.com, @BillRaden.

At the time, the charter group was suing the district to make it easier for charters to shop, seize and co-locate on LAUSD campuses. (Charter schools won the right to occupy district facilities under California’s Proposition 39.) “This isn’t about attacking charters,” Dore insisted to Learning Curves. “I think they have a place in the system. It just seemed to us that an elected official who’s supposed to be representing all of LAUSD shouldn’t [be] sharing confidential information he got as a board member.” Neither Melvoin nor his office responded to a request for comment on this story.
The parents had already been pressing the board to investigate Melvoin over a February 21 CCSA-penned draft summary of Melvoin’s progress in delivering two board resolutions. Together these would legislate for CCSA what its lawsuit ultimately failed to litigate: “a complete [online] inventory of all LAUSD school facilities,” and, according to the meeting memo, what the charter sector hoped would be a mechanism to close down struggling schools — both public and charter — thereby potentially making available their vacated campuses. The latter plan is Melvoin’s vaunted School Performance Framework (SPF), a Yelp-like, one-to-five scale online schools ranking metric that was touted by the LAUSD board’s former pro-charter voting majority as a way to give parents and educators a simple and accessible measure of campus performance.

But as this email makes clear, CCSA lobbyist Jason Rudolph saw the SPF as “another pathway for [charter] access to facilities” occupied by public schools that posted subpar SPF numbers. SPF will next get a hearing on October 8, when the board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee considers a Jackie Goldberg-authored resolution to pull its plug. Dore and the moms are demanding swift board action on what their online petition asserts is at the very least a violation of Melvoin’s “oath to represent the interests of all of the students in his district (LAUSD District 4)‚ not just the students attending charter schools.”
Score this week’s signing into law of state Senate Bill 206 as another missed opportunity for California to reaffirm the democratizing raison d’être of public higher ed still enshrined by Article 9 of the state constitution. Instead, beginning January 1, 2023, college athletes at the CONTINUE READING: Parents' Complaint: Nick Melvoin's Lips Weren't Sealed | Capital & Main

California: A Charter Chain So Awful That the Charter Lobby Expelled It | Diane Ravitch's blog

California: A Charter Chain So Awful That the Charter Lobby Expelled It | Diane Ravitch's blog

California: A Charter Chain So Awful That the Charter Lobby Expelled It

Inspire Charter Schools does not inspire confidence in its academics, its finances, or its integrity. Inspire makes money by getting state money to underwrite home schooling, with state-subsidized field trips and lots of folderol.
Things got so bad that the Inspire chain was kicked out by the California Charter Schools Association, the powerhouse lobbyists for the charter industry. There is just so much embarrassment that the CCSA can tolerate and this is one of those rare occasions. In the past, CCSA has defended criminal charter operators, but drew the line at Inspire and called for an independent audit of its financials.
The California Charter Schools Association has expelled the Inspire home charter school network from its membership and is now calling for a third-party investigation, citing concerns about the network’s operational and governance practices.
At the same time, a group of county superintendents from across the state has asked a state agency to audit Inspire, though the scope of that audit request and the list of superintendents requesting it have not yet been finalized.
Meanwhile, a tiny California school district said it believes CONTINUE READING: California: A Charter Chain So Awful That the Charter Lobby Expelled It | Diane Ravitch's blog

What Can We Learn From Betsy DeVos' School Visits? Explore Our Interactive Map - Politics K-12 - Education Week

What Can We Learn From Betsy DeVos' School Visits? Explore Our Interactive Map - Politics K-12 - Education Week

What Can We Learn From Betsy DeVos' School Visits? Explore Our Interactive Map
Updated.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos often attracts a cloud of attention when she visits a school. At the very beginning of her tenure, she was met with protesters , angered by her support of policies like private school vouchers, who tried to bar her from entering a Washington, D.C., middle school. When she stopped at a Poway, Calif., school in May, her staff asked the district not to publicize the visit in advance, a decision that was later met with backlash online.
But she's also been greeted warmly by Native Alaskan children in remote schools, watched as students at an Indianapolis charter school designed T-shirt cannons as part of a project-based learning program, and read books with young students who probably didn't know anything about the controversy that tends to follow her.
When DeVos took office, Education Week set out to track every school visit she made. We recently did a massive update of our interactive visit tracker with dozens of new visits and accompanying photos, videos, social media, and related news coverage.
Click here to visit "Tracking School Visits by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos." You can also explore the map at the bottom of this post.
Here are three things to know about DeVos' school visits:

As education secretary, most of DeVos' visits have been to public schools.

DeVos has spent her life—and her tenure as secretary—advocating for school choice. While supporters contend that families—particularly low-income families—benefit from alternatives to traditional, district-run public schools, opponents argue those alternatives can divert money from the traditional public schools that most children attend. And, beyond more broadly accepted options like charter schools, DeVos has championed public programs to support private school choice. That includes her proposal for a $5 billion tax-credit scholarship program.
So it may surprise some DeVos detractors to see the patterns in her school visits. By our count, the secretary has visited 77 schools so far, and majority of those schools, 44, were district-operated CONTINUE READING: What Can We Learn From Betsy DeVos' School Visits? Explore Our Interactive Map - Politics K-12 - Education Week



Presidential candidates focus on gun violence, school safety at policy forum - Education Votes

Presidential candidates focus on gun violence, school safety at policy forum - Education Votes

Presidential candidates focus on gun violence, school safety at policy forum

Any political candidate would agree that students and educators deserve better than to live in fear of a shooting at their school. But what do the 2020 presidential candidates actually plan to do about the issue of rampant gun violence in America?
Nine presidential candidates got on stage to answer that question at a forum in Las Vegas on Wednesday, nearly 2 years to the day after a gunman killed 58 people at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.
(Sen. Bernie Sanders planned to be at the forum, but was forced to cancel after undergoing a heart procedure.)
The forum was organized by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and March for Our Lives, the organization founded by student survivors of last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which seventeen students and educators were killed.
In the audience were many activists whose lives have been touched by gun violence—not only mass shootings, but also suicides, accidental shootings, and unrelenting, commonplace gun violence on the streets of their communities. Nearly 40,000 Americans died from gunshot CONTINUE READING: Presidential candidates focus on gun violence, school safety at policy forum - Education Votes


NANCY BAILEY: It’s Time to Erase Harmful, Recycled Education Policy!

It’s Time to Erase Harmful, Recycled Education Policy!

It’s Time to Erase Harmful, Recycled Education Policy!

Serious education issues in public schools are recycled because the ulterior motive of some is to end public education. Research is repeatedly ignored. Why are school administrators clueless? How is it that legislators repeatedly recreate policy we know is harmful for students? Each heading contains a link to proof.
End Retention. Research is clear that retained students might appear to improve at first, but they fall back into a cycle of failure. The connection between retention and dropping out is real. So why is Alabama signing on to third grade retention? Not only should they drop it like a hot potato, states like Michigan and Florida should end it too. There are other ways to help children catch up, like looping and multi-level class placement. Schools need to be creatively responsive to students with what works. If schools weren’t ruled with an iron fist, teachers could do this.
End huge class sizes. All classes don’t need to be lowered, like P.E. and band. But early elementary classes where children are learning to read would be better smaller. Middle and high school classes where teachers can better get to know students would benefit by having smaller numbers.
End homework/busywork. Even our youngest students spend hours on busy work. Teachers should ease up. They are promoting unproven accountability measures.
Denying recess is detrimental . Like retention, the amount of research in favor of CONTINUE READING: It’s Time to Erase Harmful, Recycled Education Policy!

What Does Educational Opportunity Mean? | janresseger

What Does Educational Opportunity Mean? | janresseger

What Does Educational Opportunity Mean?

Mike Rose, the education writer and professor of education at UCLA, has spent a good part of his life examining the meaning of educational opportunity.  In Why School? (2009 and expanded in 2014), Rose considers how students experience opportunity at school: “I’m especially interested in what opportunity feels like. Discussions of opportunity are often abstract—as in ideological debate—or conducted at a broad structural level—as in policy deliberation.  But what is the experience of opportunity?” (Why School?, p. 14)
In a much earlier exploration, the 1989, Lives on the Boundary, part of it biographical, Rose investigates the ways educators connect with students and the role of quality literacy and remedial education: “Lives on the Boundary concerns language and human connection, literacy and culture, and it focuses on those who have trouble reading and writing in the schools and the workplace. It is a book about the abilities hidden by class and cultural barriers. And it is a book about movement: about what happens as people who have failed begin to participate in the educational system that has seemed so harsh and distant to them. We are a nation obsessed with evaluating our children, with calibrating their exact distance from some ideal benchmark… All students cringe under the scrutiny, but those most harshly affected, least successful in the completion, possess some of our greatest unperceived riches.” (Lives on the Boundary, p. xi)
In the 2012, Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education, Rose explores the role of  community college programs to educate adults and provide technical training: “Equal opportunity is something every conservative affirms as a core American value. Yet in no realistic sense of the word does anything like equal opportunity exist toward the bottom of the income ladder… Recent studies show that parental income has a greater effect on children’s success in America than in other developed countries… Many of the students I’ve taught at UCLA who come from well-to-do families grew up in a world of museums, music lessons, tutoring, sports programs, travel, up-to-date educational CONTINUE READING: What Does Educational Opportunity Mean? | janresseger

Chicago teachers vote to authorize strike amid contentious contract talks - The Washington Post

Chicago teachers vote to authorize strike amid contentious contract talks - The Washington Post

Chicago teachers vote to strike Oct. 17 if contentious contract talks are not settled


Chicago teachers have voted to strike Oct. 17 if contentious contract negotiations with city officials are not resolved, affecting some 300,000 public school students in the nation’s third-largest district.
School support staff and park district workers — who are represented by a different union — also set Oct. 17 as the day to strike if their contract talks are not resolved, meaning that unionized teachers could be striking at the classroom at the same time public parks could be closed. The city’s contract with the Chicago Teachers Union expired in June.

If Chicago teachers walk off the job, it would be the latest strike by educators in a string of job actions that began in early 2018 in states controlled by Republicans and Democrats. This year, teachers went on strike in Los Angeles, Denver, Oakland and Sacramento. Teachers have been seeking not only higher pay but more resources for cash-strapped schools.
Chicago teachers voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to strike in two weeks if their demands — which include higher pay and benefits, fully staffed schools, smaller class sizes — are not met by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration. Some class sizes exceed 40 students, the union said, and many schools do not have sufficient staff, including nurses, social workers and librarians.
Other union demands involve social issues, including affordable housing for teachers, students and parents; an expansion of community schools that provide services for students and their families (including counseling, medical and dental care, food support); and an extension of the city’s moratorium on charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated.
Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Janice K. Jackson said that even though they are doing “everything in our power to reach a fair deal” to avoid a strike, they are making preparations for one, and they pledged to keep schools open during school hours “to ensure students CONTINUE READING: Chicago teachers vote to authorize strike amid contentious contract talks - The Washington Post

The Cost Of The Dalio Deal Was Too High | Real Learning CT

The Cost Of The Dalio Deal Was Too High | Real Learning CT

The Cost Of The Dalio Deal Was Too High


Everyone would agree: If we are doing good, we welcome others knowing about it.
Why, then, does the Dalio Foundation make it a condition of giving a $hundred million to Connecticut’s schools that its decisions be kept secret?
 Everyone would agree: Taxpayers have a right to know how their tax dollars are spent.
Why, then, does the Dalio Foundation require that its $hundred million be matched by a $hundred million in taxpayer funds but refuse to tell the taxpayers how it will go about spending their money and demand exemption from Freedom of Information regulations which provide transparency and accountability?
The CT Mirror reported on October 2, 2019 that Gwen Samuel, a Connecticut parent who has children in Connecticut public schools and is a vocal advocate for educational equity for all of Connecticut’s children, asked those same questions of the Connecticut State Board of Education:
The leader of the Connecticut Parents Union made an impassioned plea Wednesday for members of the state Board of Education to review the provision that exempts the new partnership between the state and Dalio Philanthropies from disclosure and ethics rules.
“My main concern, and I’m sure I speak for many parents, is the fact that this could all be done in secret,” Gwen CONTINUE READING: The Cost Of The Dalio Deal Was Too High | Real Learning CT

Bill Phillis: Beware Privatizers Running for Local School Boards! | Diane Ravitch's blog

Bill Phillis: Beware Privatizers Running for Local School Boards! | Diane Ravitch's blog

Bill Phillis: Beware Privatizers Running for Local School Boards!

Bill Phillis, founder of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, warns that privatizers run for local school boards, as they have in Atlanta and other cities. Teach for America has a special outfit called “Leadership for Educational Equity,” which trains its recruits to go into politics and helps to fund their campaigns.
Bill Phillis writes:
Anti-public school advocates run for seats on boards of education to attempt to completely privatize districts
Privatization of the public common schools takes many forms:
·        Charter schools
·        Vouchers
·        Tuition tax credits
·        Education savings accounts
·        Portfolio districts
·        State takeover that can eventually result in turning the district over to private operators
The most ruinous privatization tactic is for privatizers to take control of boards of education
Michelle Dillingham, with the Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition, reports that some “fierce” school choice candidates are running for board of education seats in Cincinnati. The Justice Coalition has published a list of “qualities” that voters should CONTINUE READING: Bill Phillis: Beware Privatizers Running for Local School Boards! | Diane Ravitch's blog