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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Editorial: California can't track billions of education dollars

Editorial: California can't track billions of education dollars

Editorial: California can’t account for billions of education dollars 
Inexcusable that, six years after K-12 spending revamp, audit finds needy kids aren’t getting help they should

It’s been six years since California lawmakers revamped the state funding formula for local schools.
It was heralded by then-Gov. Jerry Brown as a way to simplify K-12 education spending and close the state’s achievement gap by giving more money to districts that disproportionately serve needy kids.

Since then, state spending on schools has increased about 50%. But, as state Auditor Elaine Howle explained in a troubling report last month, there is no way to track whether money is being spent as it should.
School officials across California have co-mingled billions of dollars of state money that was supposed to be used for children who fall into one of three categories: English learners, low-income or in foster care.
Howle’s findings confirm what critics have been saying for years: Rather than specifically helping needy kids, the money has simply been used to boost general spending.
That partially explains why California students’ test scores continue lagging the national average and the state has failed to close the achievement gap that divides along racial and economic lines.
If California has any hope of narrowing that divide, legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom should require accountability for the $63 billion of state money currently spent annually on K-12 education.
It’s time to end this reckless spending. As we enter the state budget cycle for the 2020-21 fiscal year, lawmakers must stop doling out money without a meaningful tracking system for how it’s spent.
Brown’s original plan made sense. State spending for schools had become far too complicated, with more than 110 special “categorical” programs that had different funding and eligibility requirements.
The plan was to eliminate the categorical programs and give local school districts more control over the money. Hence, the Local Control Funding Formula was created.
LCFF is pretty simple. School districts receive a base amount determined by students’ attendance figures and grade levels. In addition, they receive a supplemental 20% for students falling into one of the three needy categories. And in districts with concentrations of more than 55% needy students, per-pupil funding increases 50% for each kid beyond the 55% threshold.
The so-called supplemental and concentration funding is supposed to be spent to provide additional help for those targeted children. But when Howle audited a sample of three school districts — Oakland, Clovis and San Diego — only Clovis tracked how the money was spent.
That’s because there are no state regulations to ensure districts separately account for the extra funds. Moreover, if the districts don’t spend the money on those needy students the year they receive the funds, they can spend it on anything the following year.
Hence, there are no rules to ensure Brown’s law is being followed. Indeed, while he was in office, Brown repeatedly resisted such a requirement. Consequently, there is no way to determine whether the additional funding is producing measurable student performance improvements.
The idea behind LCFF was to provide more local control. Parents were supposed have input into how the money is spent — something that’s meaningless if they’re not provided useful data — and school districts were supposed to be freed from the restrictions of hundreds of categorical spending programs.
But LCFF was never intended to be a giveaway of funds without obligations. Our neediest students were supposed to be better served. There’s no way to know whether that’s happened.
The lack of accountability — for how the money is spent and whether it’s producing results — is no longer acceptable.

PISA Scores Are Out. Ours Are Not Great. So What?

PISA Scores Are Out. Ours Are Not Great. So What?

PISA Scores Are Out. Ours Are Not Great. So What?

It’s PISA Day, the day when the Programme for International Student Assessment scores are released by OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). This is traditionally followed by a great deal of hand-wringing.
A typically glum assessment was written by Dana Goldstein for the New York Times this morning. “The performance of American teenagers has been stagnant since 2000,” Goldstein reports. As education historian Diane Ravitch notes every time PISA scores come out, the U.S. results have always been mediocre. There has never been a golden age when the U.S. led the world in PISA results.
The top scores this year come from the usual batch of test takers, including the Chinese, who give the test to students from wealthy provinces who could not* be remotely considered a cross-section of the nation as a whole. PISA day is also the one day that some folks hear about Estonia, the tiny nation that somehow has not conquered the world even though their students do well on the PISA.
PISA coverage tends to overlook one major question—why should anyone care about these scores? Where is the research showing a connection between PISA scores and a nation’s economic, political, or global success? What is the conclusion to the statement, “Because they get high PISA scores, the citizens of [insert nation here] enjoy CONTINUE READING: PISA Scores Are Out. Ours Are Not Great. So What?

The Lucrative Loophole That Charter Operators Exploit | Diane Ravitch's blog

The Lucrative Loophole That Charter Operators Exploit | Diane Ravitch's blog

The Lucrative Loophole That Charter Operators Exploit

This article about charter real estate dealings was written by Professors Preston Green III, Bruce Baker, and Derek W. Black.
They argue that lax state laws allow charter operators to reap profits while maintaining an ostensibly “nonprofit” status.
While critics charge that charter schools are siphoning money away from public schools, a more fundamental issue frequently flies under the radar: the questionable business practices that allow people who own and run charter schools to make large profits.
Charter school supporters are reluctant to acknowledge, much less stop, these practices.
Given that charter schools are growing rapidly – from 1 million students in 2006 to more than 3.1 million students attending approximately 7,000 charter schoolsnow – shining a light on these practices can’t come too soon. The first challenge, however, is simply understanding the complex space in which charters operate – somewhere between public and private.

Unregulated competition

Charters were founded on the theory that market forces and competition would benefit public education. But CONTINUE READING: The Lucrative Loophole That Charter Operators Exploit | Diane Ravitch's blog

Andre Perry: Support for the charter school movement in this election comes with a price

Support for the charter school movement in this election comes with a price

Support for charters in 2020 election comes with a price
Black leaders must not sacrifice jobs, communities for false charter promises
At a campaign rally in Atlanta for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a day after the fifth presidential debate in November, dozens of charter school supporters interrupted Warren’s speech to protest the presidential candidate’s plan to curb charter school growth. The New York Times reported that the protesters were members of the Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, an alliance of black and Latino education leaders, who toted signs that read “Charter schools = self-determination,” and “Black Democrats want charters!”
Rep. Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, a black lawmaker and Warren surrogate, threw the presidential candidate a life preserver. “We are grateful for your activism and your voice and you are welcome here,” Pressley told the activists. But she also made it very clear that Warren’s voice would not be silenced.
It was, once again, an example of black leaders rushing to the rescue. Oddly enough, the charter activists and Pressley were both coming to the defense of white-led causes that could stand more vigorous feedback from black people. Because Democrats have to earn the black vote in black cities, the black community has leverage to demand that our concerns be addressed.
Warren needs to learn from black voices — but the charter school movement is not ours to defend.
Organizations such as the charter school advocacy group Families for Excellent Schools have orchestrated statewide campaigns using dark money to influence state ballots to increase the number of charter schools, hiding who’s actually behind the movement. The Associated Press reported in December of 2018 that an advocacy group that CONTINUE READING: Support for the charter school movement in this election comes with a price

Does #MeToo Apply to Students in Charter Schools?

Does #MeToo Apply to Students in Charter Schools?

Does #MeToo Apply to Students in Charter Schools?

NVMI notes that allegations contained in the disclosable public records were unfounded and strongly denied by NVMI. Further, evidence indicated the social media account(s) of the former employee may have been hacked. Please be advised that publication of any of the information or photographs contained therein will be at your own risk and NVMI bears no risk to liability for such publication.”– Law Offices of Young, Minney & Corr, LLPThe Charter Law Firm
According to a lawsuit filed on June 14, 2017, an administrator at the North Valley Military Institute College Preparatory Academy (NVMI) was alleged to have “exposed Plaintiffs and other minor children to inappropriate sexual language (including phrases like ‘suck my dick’)…exposed Plaintiffs to hardcore pornographic images…[and] assaulted and battered at least one of the minor Plaintiffs”. As a public entity that “supervised and oversaw NVMI’ s operations under an approved charter”, the LAUSD was also named in the suit with the allegation that it “had the means, resources, and oversight power to prevent the practices that led to the abuse of students” but did not do so. According to court records, this case appears to have been settled with both plaintiffs receiving monetary compensation. Left unanswered is the extent to which anyone reached out to other potential victims or what steps any entity has taken to ensure that other employees at NVMI will be properly supervised in the future.   
As this case was winding its way through the courts, high-profile actresses were helping to shine a light on the issue of institutionalized sexual harassment and assault as the #MeToo movement gained traction. Unfortunately, it appears that these students, who attended a school where 87.8% of the students receive free and reduced-price lunch, were ignored. According to the lawsuit, the parents brought the alleged conduct to the attention of school administrators but were CONTINUE READING: Does #MeToo Apply to Students in Charter Schools?

PISA 2018 results - (PISA) examines what students know in reading, mathematics and science

Publications - PISA

PISA 2018 results
The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) examines what students know in reading, mathematics and science, and what they can do with what they know. It provides the most comprehensive and rigorous international assessment of student learning outcomes to date. Results from PISA indicate the quality and equity of learning outcomes attained around the world, and allow educators and policy makers to learn from the policies and practices applied in other countries. This is one of six volumes that present the results of the PISA 2018 survey, the seventh round of the triennial assessment. Volume I, What Students Know and Can Do, provides a detailed examination of student performance in reading, mathematics and science, and describes how performance has changed since previous PISA assessments.


Country-specific overviews
Colombia - EnglishSpanish
France - EnglishFrench
Germany - EnglishGerman
Italy - EnglishItalian
Japan - EnglishJapanese
Mexico - EnglishSpanish
Spain - EnglishSpanish

Country snapshots

Full reports and data
Publications - PISA

DID YOU MISS DIANE RAVITCH'S BLOG TODAY? | A site to discuss better education for all

Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all


Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America's Public Schools

SLAYING GOLIATH will be published on January 21. Please consider giving a pre-order for Xmas to your friends. On that date, I will appear in conversation with Carol Burris to discuss the book and the issues it raises. That event will be sponsored by the Community Bookstore at Congregation Beth Elohim at 274 Garfield Place (Eighth Avenue) in Park Slope, Brooklyn at 6:30 pm on January 21. The books
Fred Klonsky: Pete Buttigieg Discovers Segregated Schools in His Hometown

Fred Klonsky writes with amazement that Mayor Pete Buttigieg just realized that there are segregated schools in his hometown of South Bend. He acknowledges that he was slow to come to this realization. Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told Reverend William Barber that he didn’t notice South Bend’s public schools were segregated. Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend. “I have to con
Yong Zhao: How PISA Created the Illusion of Education Quality and Marketed It to the World

Yong Zhao, the brilliant education analyst, writes here about the great PISA illusion. If you have not read any of Zhao’s books, do so now. If you have not heard him speak, google him or invite him to your next big conference. He is insightful, provocative, thoughtful, absolutely delightful! He is a master at making people think and debunking hoaxes. Please read the entire post to learn how we an


More on PISA Results from Politico

Politico Morning Education reports : U.S. SCORES IN READING, MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE LITERACY REMAINED ESSENTIALLY FLAT FROM 2015 in the latest Program for International Student Assessment results, but U.S. rankings improved because other education systems worsened. — The 2018 PISA results showed U.S. average scores in reading and science literacy were higher than the average of about three dozen
Teresa Hanafin on Apple’s World Remapping

Teresa Hanafin wrote this morning in Fast Foreard for the Boston Hlobe. “Just spotted this disturbing story: Another major US company caved to the demands of an autocrat in the name of profit. Apple changed its map and weather apps for users in Russia, redrawing the borders of Crimea to show it as part of Russia instead of Ukraine, capitulating to Russian President Vladimir Putin. As you know, Ru
Chris Whittle Tries a Splashy Comeback

Chris Whittle is the Uber entrepreneur of for-profit education. Back in the 1990s, he launched the Edison Project, assuming that George H.W. Bush would be re-elected and would get a voucher plan through Congress. That didn’t happen, so Edison sought contracts to run low-performing schools. Lots of push back from districts and parents. The share price plummeted. To learn th3 story of Edison, read
New Hampshire: Legislature Puts $46 Million Federal Charter School Grant on Hold

New Hampshire has divided government. The governor is a Republican, who chooses the State Commissioner. But in the last election in 2018, Democrats won control of the legislature. The State Commissioner is a home-schooling parent who is hostile to public schools. He comes from the Betsy DeVos mold. Speaking of DeVos, she gave New Hampshire $46 million from the federal Charter Schools Program, whi
An Ongoing Debate about Charter Support Among Black and Latino Families

On November 26, the New York Times published an article that had this headline: ‘Minority Voters Chafe As Democratic Candidates Abandon Charter Schools.’ The point of the article was that many black and Latino families are very disappointed that all the Democratic candidates have turned their backs on charter schools, excepting Cory Booker, currently polling around 1-2%. The article was especiall
Indiana: Karen Francisco on Shady Charter Real Estate Deals

Indiana legislators have rewritten state laws to favor privatization of public assets. If a public school is considered unutilized, a charter operator can claim it for only $1. When the West Lafayette school district sued to challenge the law, a judge sided with the legislators. Give the public school away to a private operator, even though it belongs to the public who paid for it! Karen Francisc

PISA: Another Bad Showing for “Reformers”

The PISA results were released, and they put the test-and-punish reforms of the past two decades in a harsh light. Billions have been spent on testing and spurious teacher evaluations. Dana Goldstein writes in the New York Times: 
Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all