Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, November 10, 2019

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Happy Birthday, Mom Edition (11/10)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Happy Birthday, Mom Edition (11/10)

Happy Birthday, Mom Edition (11/10)

Today is my mother's birthday, so there will be cake involved later. She's a pretty swell lady, so it's a day worthy of cake. Also, if you look to the right, you'll see that I've revamped the blog list and added a section of websites of interest that aren't necessarily blogs. So you can poke through that if you like. In the meantime, here's some reading from last week.

What Betsy DeVos Got Wrong About Detroit Schools

From the Detroit Free Press. Spoiler alert: almost everything.

Cassellius Puts Moratorium Onn District's Standardized Tests

Boston's superintendent has concluded that an endless battery of practice and pre-tests might not be a great idea, so she's pressing pause.

The Failure of Betsy DeVos and 30 Years of Corporate Influence on Public Education

Nancy Bailey offers a brief but worthwhile history lesson about the true origins of public school problems.

The Stories of Segregation  Academies as Told By The White Students Who Attended

A fascinating new project gives us a chance to see an ugly chapter of US education history a bit more clearly.

Are Teachers Allowed To Think for Themselves

Steven Singer wants to know why teachers are highly trained, yet widely ignored.

More Testing Is Not The Answer For NYC Students, But Smaller Classes Could Be

Liat Olenick in the Gotham Gazette offers the cray thought that New York City schools might want to try a solution for which there is actual evidence of effectiveness.

What Is "Quality" Music? Choosing the Best Materials for Our Students

Nancy Flanagan is writing about the recent flap over what to include or throw out in the music ed library, but her thoughts here are useful for literature teachers, too.



CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Happy Birthday, Mom Edition (11/10)

Educators Question State Takeover of HISD | American Federation of Teachers

Educators Question State Takeover of HISD | American Federation of Teachers

Educators Question State Takeover of HISD

HOUSTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Texas AFT and Houston Federation of Teachers President Zeph Capo issued the following statements in response to the Texas Education Agency’s announcement that it plans to take over local control of the Houston Independent School District:
Capo said:
“This is a power grab to disenfranchise families in Houston—particularly families of color—who just exercised their voice in a democratic vote on control of the city’s public schools. Now, the state government wants to step in and ignore that vote and exercise state control over this community because of one below-grade school, when the rest of them are scoring in the top tier in math and reading.
“What Houston’s students and their families really need is leadership: leadership that is committed to serving the needs of our local schoolchildren and the needs of the teachers who greet them every day. Educators must be assured that they, their students and their classrooms will be the focus of every decision, and our campuses must be able to thrive as safe and welcoming places for teaching and learning, unfettered by the machinations in Austin.  
“The HFT has one goal: to look out for students—not to play politics with how we educate them.”
Weingarten said:
“This takeover by the Texas Education Agency strips the entire Houston community—particularly Houston’s families—of their basic right to have democratically governed public schools. It’s curiously timed during the exact moment the public are casting their votes to make changes in the Houston school board. But the fact remains: Teachers, parents and the community of Houston know what is best for Houston, and they have worked together over the last decade to see real improvement in Houston’s schools. Alarmingly, rather than focusing on that improvement, Austin bureaucrats are using one school’s challenges as the basis for stripping everyone in Houston of their voice.
“The state is playing a crude game of politics with public education in a shameful power grab that ignores students’ educational needs and disrespects the educators in the classroom. Using grossly flawed judgment, politicians in Austin have decided to use a blunt instrument that will undermine and disrupt the mission of community control of public education.  
”We’ve been here enough times to know that our first priority must always be students, and our national union will do whatever we have to do to support the educators in this city in standing up for their kids and their schools against the state’s overreach. Our country’s history is replete with efforts to disenfranchise people of color and women, but Texas should not go down that ugly path again with this effort to take over the Houston school system.”
# # # #
The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

For Release: 

Thursday, November 7, 2019


Oriana Korin




Digital Curriculum And Lesson Management Is A Crock
Ed Tech overpromises in so many areas, but one the great lies is that implementing This Year's Great New Program is going to save teachers just oodles of time. It never does. It particularly never does when it comes to the kind of software leviathan's used to manage curriculum and lesson plans. The sheer volume of data entry for these programs (enter the curriculum, unit plans, lesson plans, all c

NOV 08

FL: Even The State Thinks Florida Virtual School Needs To Shape Up
Virtual charter schools have a lousy track record, so bad that even bricks-and-mortar charter advocates have called for them to shape the hell up. Meanwhile, Florida has implemented every reformy method of undercutting public schools that could be imagined. So it's entirely predictable that Florida would have its own cyberschool, and that it would be a mess. But a lucrative one, as under previous

NOV 07

Hanushek Offers Teachers A Grand Bargain
If there is anything we don't lack in the education sphere, it's economists who know all about how to make education work real betterer. Two faves are Raj Chetty and Eric Hanushek, who have both pushed some super-great ideas. You probably remember the one about how the right first grade teacher can mean you'll make umpty-zillion more dollars in your lifetime , a piece of foolery that might be call

NOV 06

FL: How The State Supports Discrimination By Charters
A Florida news station has heard from the state's department of education exactly how charter schools can discriminate against students with special needs. Part of the charter sales pitch has always been a claim that charters offer alternatives to all students. Just look at this happy blurb from the National Alliance for Public [sic] Charter Schools: The answer to “Can charter schools deny student

NOV 04

PA: House Speaker Mike Turzai Is Upset, Again
PA House Speaker Mike Turzai is not a huge fan of public schools, and especially not the teachers who work. He was happy to host Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos when she visited Harrisburg. It was that visit that yielded the special moment when Turzai told some protesting teachers that they were special interests who are part of a monopoly and that they don't care about the children. Personally

NOV 03

ICYMI: It's November Already Edition (11/3)
One storm front pushes through and all of a sudden it's much less like summer and much more like winter. But when it's cold outside, that's a good time to hunker down inside and read. Remember to share, folks. Schools and Surveillance Buzzfeed offers a package of pieces about some of the creepy surveillance going on out there (for our own good, of course). It's all plenty alarming. Education Techn

NOV 02

Why Market Forces Will Not Provide Charter School Accountability
It has been a rough day at my house. The IRS is auditing me and needs me to send them money now. My computer has a virus. My Microsoft Windows is expired and will shut down soon. And if I don’t re-enter my personal information, my email, Netflix, and bank accounts will all be shut down. The only good news is that I still have a chance to buy great insurance, and I’m still waiting to hear back fro

NOV 01

DeVos Honored By Prominent Dominionist Group
Dominionism argues that the US should be a literal Christian nation, its government run by Christians. It comes in varying degrees of severity , with varying amounts of nationalism mixed in. One of the major proponents of American (i.e. US) dominionism was D. James Kennedy , a minister and broadcaster in Florida. Sample quote : To be a true Christian citizen means to "take dominion over all thing

What is ‘Quality’ Music? Choosing the Best Materials for Our Students. | Teacher in a strange land

What is ‘Quality’ Music? Choosing the Best Materials for Our Students. | Teacher in a strange land

What is ‘Quality’ Music? Choosing the Best Materials for Our Students

Back in the day, when I was an early-career teacher, I was sitting at the judges’ lunch table, at a music festival. It was my first time serving as an adjudicator and the other judges were well-known veteran band directors. One of them was expounding on the poor literature choices made by young band directors. He claimed that identifying quality music was becoming a lost art, and that most newly published band music was ‘trash,’ especially compared to the pieces from the early days of school band programs.
It was out of my mouth before I had time to think: What is ‘quality’ music? How do we know it’s worthy?
His answer was mostly eye-rolling at the other men and sputtering—but he ended by saying that his sainted mother used to listen to country music on the radio, and even as a young lad he knew that it was pure garbage. Nobody was correcting him, by the way. Certainly not me.
I did, however, start thinking more about my own judgment in deciding what music would teach my students the most. I looked for appealing pieces that had some modest challenges embedded. I made some mistakes (buying pieces that were so static and repetitive that even the students were able to see how some music is, well, static and repetitive—and boring). But I also picked some winners, pieces I used again and again, music with some cultural depth or technical tests or simply tunes that the kids loved.
Were my curricular go-tos ‘quality’ music? What features, precisely, comprise quality? Is there a set canon of high-quality titles that should be in every library?
And–who gets to say what those works are, in any discipline? Choosing the best anything is a perennial exercise in taste and appraisal—and over time, the definition of ‘quality’ shifts.
English teachers want their students to read and interact with the most delicious texts. Social Studies teachers want to wrestle with relevant issues and science teachers want to engage their students with scientific solutions to existing real-world problems. What’s most useful and attractive now may not have existed 10 years ago.
I trust teachers to sieve through the Big Ideas and choose good concepts and materials. That’s not possible in many schools, however, where all curricular decisions are made above (if that’s the correct preposition) the classroom. Replacing materials CONTINUE READING: What is ‘Quality’ Music? Choosing the Best Materials for Our Students. | Teacher in a strange land

Experts Worry Active Shooter Drills In Schools Could Be Traumatic For Students : NPR

Experts Worry Active Shooter Drills In Schools Could Be Traumatic For Students : NPR

Experts Worry Active Shooter Drills In Schools Could Be Traumatic For Students

A regular drumbeat of mass shootings in the U.S., both inside schools and out, has ramped up pressure on education and law enforcement officials to do all they can to prevent the next attack.
Close to all public schools in the U.S. conducted some kind of lockdown drill in 2015-2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Last year, 57% of teens told researchers they worry about a shooting happening at their school. A slightly higher percentage of parents of teenagers, 63%, fear a shooting at their child's school, the Pew Research Center found.
But many experts and parents are asking if the drills, some complete with simulated gunfire, are doing more harm than good.
Despite high-profile media coverage, school shootings with multiple victims are still rare. The overall number of students killed in shootings at schools is down from the early 1990s to about 0.15 per million in 2014-2015, according to researchers at Northeastern University. One Harvard instructor estimated the likelihood of a public school student being killed by a CONTINUE READING: Experts Worry Active Shooter Drills In Schools Could Be Traumatic For Students : NPR