Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Carol Burris Rates the Candidates at the Public Education Forum in Pittsburgh | Diane Ravitch's blog

Carol Burris Rates the Candidates at the Public Education Forum in Pittsburgh | Diane Ravitch's blog

Carol Burris Rates the Candidates at the Public Education Forum in Pittsburgh

Carol Burris led the delegation from the Network for Public Education at the Public Education Forum in Pittsburgh. Here are her reflections on the candidates;
There were roughly 1000 attendees at yesterday’s Public Education Forum 2020.  The group was diverse in both race and age. Students accompanied by parents sat side by side with senior citizens. It was a captivated audience, the vast majority of whom stayed until the end at around 4:00 pm. 
Outside the forum there was a small protest. When I entered the building in the morning, I counted 35 people. One news report said that the protest grew to 100. Michael Bennet was the only candidate who engaged with the protestors—that encounter can be viewed here.
Support was voiced by the candidates for community schools, increased school funding for Title I schools, increased pay for teachers, support for unions, fully-funded pre-schools, increasing the number of teachers of color, student loan forgiveness, and other equity issues which have commonly appeared in candidates’ platforms. In short, it was a positive agenda that acknowledged that resources do matter and recognized the complex difficulties that our schools and our teachers face.
It is not my intent to influence anyone’s vote with this account. What follows is my review of the candidates’ performance by giving each the award I believe they most deserve based on what I heard during the forum as CONTINUE READING: Carol Burris Rates the Candidates at the Public Education Forum in Pittsburgh | Diane Ravitch's blog

CATCH UP WITH CURMUDGUCATION + ICYMI: Ed Forum Weekend Edition (12/15)


Ed Forum Weekend Edition (12/15)

Yesterday I spent the day in Pittsburgh at the ed forum, then decorating at my in-laws, then banging out a summary. But I still have a few things for you to read from the week. Remember to share!

Common Core: The Rest of the Story

Blogger and ed historian Adam Laats fills in some gaps in the NYT history of everyone's favorite standards.

GRE Fails To Identify Successful PhD Students  

Shocked. I am shocked. But the GRE isn't a great predictor of grad school success.

New Filipino Grad Requirement

Well, here's an actual cool idea. Filipino students now need to plant trees in order to graduate.

I Taught At a For-Profit College. They're Predatory Disasters. 

From the Guardian, a look inside the world of for-profit higher ed. It is not pretty.

No New Charter Applications In Chicago   

If you had any doubts that the charter boom is over, here's a look from Chalkbeat Chicago at a new development-- a year without any charter applications.

An Outright Lie

Remember that Ohio law that says students can't be dinged for getting facts wrong? Turns out that's part of the infamous Project Blitz, as is the legislator who proposed it. The Guardian has the story.

Mayor Pete and Charter Backers

Not from an education site, but Vice. Here's how charter money is bolstering Buttigieg.

Kentucky Ed Commissioner Resigns 

Kentucky governor-elect promised to clean house in th education department and replace the old charter-loving crew. He's done it. It's a new day in Kentucky.

DeVos Defends Restricting Debt Relief 

Erica Green at NYT with some great coverage of DeVos's latest visit to Congress, and her deep desire not to actually do debt relief.

The $191 Million Settlement with University of Phoenix  

Who finally nailed these bunco artists? Not the ed department-- the FCC.

Word Pedometers   

From the not-the-onion terrible idea file.



A Look At The Democratic Education Forum

After live-tweeting the day, I've worked up a summary, which you'll find over at my Forbes spot. Sorry to bait and switch, but that's where you can find my take on the day...

DEC 13

When Betsy DeVos Tells You Who She Is, Listen

Yesterday, Erica Green did a masterful job of covering Betsy DeVos's appearance before the House Education Committee to defend her continued efforts to resist any sort of debt relief for students bilked by for-profit schools. The New York Times article isn't accessible to everybody, and that's too bad, because the hearings are a perfect little picture of what values drive DeVos through her work at

DEC 12

Fordham: Teachers Are Downloading Junk

Fordham Institute, the right-tilted thinky tank and tireless ed reform advocacy group, just released a new study that actually raises some interesting questions. " The Supplemental Curriculum Bazaar " takes a look at the materials teachers are downloading, and it finds them, well, not delightful. While I'm only going to argue with their findings a little, there are aspects of their methods that I

DEC 11

Privatization Is Their North Star

Remember when ed reform was complicated, when it felt as if the whole business was a perfect storm of hydra heads, and it was all a public school supporter could do to try to track all the heads, let alone the body of the beast to which they were all attached? Things have changed. And the change tells us a lot about the body of the beast, as the many heads of the hydra have become neglected or eve

DEC 10

Can Rich Content Improve Education?

Modern high-stakes testing really kicked into gear with No Child Left Behind, and then got another huge boost with the advent of Common Core. All through that era, teachers pushed back against the fracturing of reading instruction , the idea that reading is a suite of discrete skills that can be taught independent of any particular content . The pendulum has begun its swing back. Content knowledg

DEC 09

Kristen Bell, Celebrity Charity, Flaming Possums

Sigh. I was already thinking about this, about how Dana Goldstein's Common Core retrospective for the New York Times collapsed a lot of history, but still had room for that time that pre-disgraced Louis CK made a crack about Common Core math. A great reminder of how a gazillion teachers and parents can comment on the quality of the Core, but a celebrity makes a comment and suddenly people listen.

DEC 08

Next Saturday: Dem Education Forum in Pittsburgh (Yes, I'll Be There)

Next Saturday, December 14, some assortment of Democratic Presidential hopefuls will offer their two cents about education . The crowd will be an invitation-only group of about a thousand public education stakeholders, including yours truly. The Network for Public Education kindly gave me the chance to attend this event, and I am looking forward to it. If you are not among the thousand invitees, y

ICYMI: New Car Edition (12/8)

So yesterday we replaced my wife's car, which has lost an argument with an errant deer. Used car shopping is a pain, but if you want to talk about something that has truly and completely been disrupted by technology. Little browsing, because everyone does that on line. Little haggling compared to the old says because everyone can go online and see what the car is worth. Few tremendous bargains, bu

Sharing the history of Illinois’ pension fight with teachers in Kentucky. We need a national strategy. – Fred Klonsky

Sharing the history of Illinois’ pension fight with teachers in Kentucky. We need a national strategy. – Fred Klonsky


I was asked by Randy Wieck of the Kentucky Teacher Retirement Legal Fund to write a brief history of Illinois’ public pension battle, published on their Facebook page:
National education blogger FRED KLONSKY, retired from Illinois public education, and long a hardened warrior in the public education, pension-plunder battle – responds to TRELF’s invitation to relate Illinois’ teachers’ pension destruction, VERY similar to Kentucky’s. There is a pattern here.
For decades Illinois politicians have failed to make the annual required contributions to the state’s pension systems. Hamstrung by constitutional limits on revenue sources, they took the path of least resistance by paying for services and for their “pet projects” without raising taxes and by pension underfunding. In 1995 they invented a flawed re-funding schedule, a funding ramp that only made matters worse. They refused to re-amortize the pension systems’ unfunded liabilities. Favoring corporate interests rather than the interests of retirees or the state’s over-taxed working families, the unfunded liability has continued to grow. It now has climbed to $130,000,000,000, with no end in sight. Seventy cents on the dollar goes to interest on the debt.
In 2013, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and the Democratic controlled General Assembly passed a bill cutting benefits to current and future state employees. Illinois passed a pension reform bill which reduced retiree cost of living increases, raised the retirement age, limited pensionable salaries, lowered the amounts current employees CONTINUE READING: Sharing the history of Illinois’ pension fight with teachers in Kentucky. We need a national strategy. – Fred Klonsky

EdAction in Congress December 15, 2019 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress December 15, 2019 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress December 15, 2019

House to vote soon on doubling educator tax deduction

The full House could vote this Tuesday on NEA-endorsed legislation that doubles the educator tax deduction and lifts the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction for two years to help ensure adequate funding for public education and other essential services. The Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act (H.R. 5377) would increase the annual educator tax deduction from $250 to $500—the actual amount 94 percent of public school teachers spent on classroom supplies and instructional materials during the 2014-15 school year, according to a U.S. Department of Education survey. The same survey showed that 1 in 10 teachers spent even more—in excess of $1,000. Email your representatives and tell them to support H.R. 5377. TAKE ACTION

Put rural schools on a firm financial footing

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to extend the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) and Community Self-Determination Act (S. 430) for two years. First enacted in 2000, the law supports public education and community services in over 4,400 schools in 770 rural counties located near national forests. But funding has been inconsistent for the last three years—the law expired at the end of 2018. As a result, rural areas across the country are facing budgetary shortfalls that could force big cuts in public education and other essential community services. Tell your representatives to put the SRS program on a firm financial footing. TAKE ACTION

Victory! Congress votes to guarantee funding for HBCUs and MSIs

The bipartisan FUTURE Act heads to President Trump to be signed into law after passing the House by a vote of 319-96 and the Senate by voice vote. The bill permanently reauthorizes and provides $255 million in annual mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). The FUTURE Act also takes steps to streamline the financial aid process, including simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and eliminating unnecessary paperwork for federal student loan borrowers on income-driven repayment plans.

Cheers and Jeers

Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) led a letter to Senate leadership signed by 70 members of the House opposing Lawrence VanDyke’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act (S. 256) by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) has passed both chambers and is headed to President Trump to be signed into law. The bill helps preserve native languages and indigenous dialects.
Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) introduced the New Way Forward Act (H.R. 5383) to fight criminalizing immigrants and restore fundamental due process to our immigration system.
The House passed the Building Blocks of STEM Act (S. 737) by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV). The bill directs the National Science Foundation to support research on factors that discourage or encourage girls to engage in STEM activities, including computer science.
Reps. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)Jahana Hayes (D-CT)Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)Josh Harder (D-CA), and others grilled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at a Dec. 12 Education and Labor Committee hearing on debt relief for defrauded students.
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined the chorus of outrage at the failure of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to stand up for students defrauded by for-profit colleges.

96 members of the House voted against the FUTURE Act—in effect, against ensuring that HBCUS and MSIs receive critical funding.

EdAction in Congress December 15, 2019 - Education Votes

Public Education Forum Attracts Seven Democratic Presidential Candidates To Pittsburgh – CBS Pittsburgh

Public Education Forum Attracts Seven Democratic Presidential Candidates To Pittsburgh – CBS Pittsburgh

Public Education Forum Attracts Seven Democratic Presidential Candidates To Pittsburgh

Image result for Public Education Forum Attracts Seven Democratic Presidential Candidates To Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh hosted a unique presidential forum on Saturday.
It was not a debate, but a chance for the Democratic presidential candidates to share their views on public education.
The day-long Public Education Forum allowed seven Democrats to answer questions from a diverse audience.
Over a thousand public school supporters heard from Democratic presidential candidates at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
“I am the son of two educators, and I am married to a teacher who is literally going to be grading everything I say today,” declared Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“We have to massively increase what we pay teachers in this country,” said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, a former Denver school superintendent.
“The idea that cutting education is cutting expense is the stupidest idea that I have ever heard,” noted California billionaire Tom Steyer.
Some candidates had a way to pay for better education.
“It’s time for a wealth tax in America. This is a two-cent tax on the top one-tenth of one percent,” said U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Others shared surprising snippets about their past.
“I taught at at-risk schools when I was going through law school, and I was a bus driver,” said former Vice President Joe Biden. “And by the way, bus drivers and the folks in the cafeteria know a hell of a lot about what’s going on.”
WATCH: Charter School Protesters Gather Outside Of Education Forum

And there was some politics, too.
“You win big when you win states like Pennsylvania big that we lost in that last election,” noted U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who made a side trip to support UPMC CONTINUE READING: Public Education Forum Attracts Seven Democratic Presidential Candidates To Pittsburgh – CBS Pittsburgh