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Saturday, April 25, 2020

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

A site to discuss better education for all


Texas: Public Schools Outperform Charter Schools
William Gumbert relies on data from the Texas State Education Departmentvto demonstrate they the state’s woefully underfunded public schools outperform the well-funded overhyped charter schools. The real puzzle in Texas and elsewhere is why billionaires and financiers continue to fund failure. See the analysis here .
Texas: Charter Schools Grow Rapidly Despite Inferior Performance Compared to Public Schools
William Gumbert prepared a graphic portrayal of the dramatic growth of privately managed charter schools in Texas. Two facts stand out from his presentation: 1) Charter schools are diverting billions of dollars from the state’s underfunded public schools. 2) Public schools perform better than charter schools. Public officials are turning public money over to entrepreneurs at a furious pace withou
Carl Cohn: Teachers Are the Foundation for Superintendents’ Success Plus Some Memories of San Diego
Carl Cohn is a veteran educator who served as superintendent in Long Beach and in San Diego. He has received many awards for his service. The selection of a new superintendent in Long Beach prompted him to write his thoughts about previous crises faced by the district and about the importance of teachers today. No superintendent can succeed without building relationships of mutual respect and col
Vicki Cobb: Why Does Science Matter?
The Trump administration is the most anti-science federal government in modern history. In every department and agency, Trump minions have pushed out scientists and replaced them with religious fanatics, Trump loyalists, or incompetents, is some combination thereof. Vicki Cobb, author of science 
NY Times: Economic Stimulus Bill is a Bonanza for Wealthiest

Jesse Drucker of the New York Times writes that the federal stimulus bill will bestow a bonanza on the nation’s wealthiest individuals and corporations. While millions of Americans are jobless, and countless small businesses are facing bankruptcy, the 1% are scooping up unearned benefits, thanks to the unscrupulous strategies of Senate Republicans. Drucker writes: As the federal government dispen
New York City: Parents and Advocates Write to Mayor and Chancellor

What happens now to students in New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic? Here is an open letter to Mayor DeBlasio and Chancellor Carranza from the city’s leading advocates for children: April 24, 2020 Dear Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza, The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the ugliest inequities in our society into the glaring light for all to see. We must not continue the
Arkansas: An Urgent Appeal to State Officials

This letter was written by Rev./Dr. Anika Whitfield of Grassroots Arkansas: The LRSD should not and must not force employees to report to work against the wisdom of the CDC, national standards and criteria during this pandemic. LRSD paraprofessionals should not have to ignore their own health concerns for themselves, their families, and their communities to prevent job or compensation loss. The w
Help Amy McGrath Defeat Mitch McConnell! Save America from the Grim Reaper!

Mitch McConnell is a national menace. He wants states to declare bankruptcy and break all their pension contracts. He brags about being “the Grim Reaper,” the man who kills any legislation that might help regular people. If states are forced to go bankrupt, it will destroy the retirement security of teachers, police, firefighters, and all public sector workers. He takes care of his fat cat donors
Arkansas: Reasons Why Governor Hutchinson Should Care About Virus in the Prisons

Blogger “Like a Renegade” observes that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is indifferent to the presence of COVID 19 in the prison population. The blogger reminds the governor that prisoners interact with a large number of staff who then go out into the general population and may spread the disease. She also points out that most inmates are in jail for a term, or for a death sentence. The virus is
Hail and Farewell! Achieve Is Finished!

Unless you are a policy wonk or live inside the Beltway, you probably never heard of Achieve. Achieve is an organization that was founded in 1996 by governors and business leaders to raise academic standards and to advocate for college and career readiness. Achieve is closing its doors this summer. Is the job done or did the money run out or did people just get tired of the same old same old? Yea
William Doyle and Pasi Sahlberg Explain to Checker Finn Why Play Is Good for ALL Children

A few months ago, William Doyle and Pasi Sahlberg published their book about the importance of play, called Let the Children Play: How More Play Will Save Our Schools and Help Children Thrive . Checker Finn Jr. criticized their book in the conservative journal Education Next, maintaining that middle-class and affluent kids need to play, but poor kids need to keep their noses to the academic grind
Manufacturer of Lysol: Please Don’t Drink Lysol

Trump, who is not a medical doctor, suggested at his daily campaign rally yesterday, that his experts should study the effects of ingesting disinfectants, since they are known to kill coronavirus. Or inserting ultraviolet light inside the body or staying in bright sunshine. The manufacturer of Lysol, a leading disinfectant, released a warning to the public: Do not ingest Lysol. Anderson Cooper as
Former Labradoodle Breeder Selected to Lead U.S. Coronavirus Task Force

The New York Times reported that Alex Azar , the head of Health and Human Services, had chosen a former labradoodle breeder to lead the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. No, this is not a story from the Onion. This one takes the cake. Lincoln, said historian Doris Kearns, was surrounded by a “team of rivals.” Trump has surrounded himself with a team of incompetents. WASHI
Mitch McConnell to Kentucky and Other States: Drop Dead!

Mitch McConnell, Senator from Kentucky, says that the federal government should let the states go bankrupt. This would destroy the pensions and health insurance of every public sector worker, including teachers, police, fire fighters, and others. Workers in McConnell’s home state, his own constituents, would be grievously harmed. So would public sector workers in every other state that was forced

APR 23

FOX News Falls Silent About Trump’s Favorite Virus Drug

For several weeks, Trump has been promoting an anti-malaria drug called hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. FOX News has enthusiastically echoed Trump’s claims, disregarding the judgment of medical doctors who warned that the drug’s effectiveness had not been proven in clinical trials. But suddenly FOX went silent. The Washington Post reporters Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi explained. At the heigh
Michigan: Federal Appeals Court Rules that Students in Detroit Have a Fundamental Right to Literacy

In a major decision affecting students in Detroit, a federal appeals court overruled a lower court decision and concluded that students have a fundamental right to literacy. The dissenting judge, appointed by Trump, ruled that there is no such right. The case began in 2016, when Rick Snyder was governor. The Detroit News reported: The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Detroi
Teresa Hanafin: There He Goes Again, More Lies from the Trumpeter

Teresa Hanafin in Fast Forward in the Boston Globe : Some interesting quotes for your reading pleasure: CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield to The Washington Post: “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through. We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.” Tr
David Dayen: Who Will the Federal Reserve Bail Out? Big Corporations? Wall Street?

David Dayen writes a daily report on COVID-19 for The American Prospect. Today’s post is very disturbing, and it has so many links included that you will have to open the post to read the source of his data and assertions. Bear in mind that the Fed is giving away OUR money, not theirs and certainly not Trump’s. Who is getting it? That’s a secret. Dayen writes: Yesterday we found out that two luxu
Senate Intelligence Committee Agrees that Russia Intervened in 2016 Election

For the entirety of Trump’s time in office, he has ridiculed the claim that Russia intervened in the 2016 election. He called this the “Russia hoax” and has attempted repeatedly to discredit the government intelligence agencies that reached this conclusion. He portrays himself as the victim of a “deep state” conspiracy to undermine the legitimacy of his election. He even tasked Attorney General W
Alexander and Blunt: Government Needs a “Shark Tank” Competition to Produce More Virus Tests

Lamar Alexander and Roy Blunt are senior Republican Senators who chair important committees. In this article, they propose a “shark tank” competition for government agencies, believing that the funding and the competition will ramp up the number of tests produced. They admit that the federal government has failed to supply the numbers of reliable tests needed by the American public to feel safe a
NAEP Scores Drop in History, Civics: DeVos Blames Public Schools, Not NCLB, RTTT, ESSA, CCSS

The National Center for Education Statistics released NAEP scores in history and geography, which declined, and in civics, which were flat. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos went into her customary rant against public schools, but the real culprit is a failed federal policy of high-stakes testing narrowly focused on reading and math. If DeVos were able to produce data to demonstrate that scores
George Packer: America Is a Failed State

In an illuminating article in The Atlantic, George Packer argues that America is a failed state. Trump didn’t “make America great again.” He took its weaknesses, frailties, fault lines, and failures and deepened them. He didn’t create them. They were there, the bullies, the racists, the white nationalists, the haters. He gave them license to come into the daylight. He encouraged them. When the vi
Heritage Foundation’s “National Coronavirus Task Force” Recommends Universal Vouchers and Uncertified Teachers

Talk about taking advantage of a crisis! The rightwing extremist Heritage Foundation has issued its own report on how to recover from the pandemic. They cover it with patriotic glitz to make it appear like a government report, which it is not. It calls itself the “National Coronavirus Recovery Commission. But it is just a self-aggrandizing report from a rightwing think tank funded by the usual su

APR 22

Stuart Egan: The Step-by-Step Destruction of Democracy in North Carolina

In this powerful post , NBCT teacher Stuart Egan describes the calculated attack on democracy and social justice in North Carolina. The state was once considered one of the most enlightened in the South. It is now one of the most regressive, taken down by the Tea Party, by a legislature dominated by ALEC, and by politicians determined to destroy opportunity for people of color and poor people. Eg
Andy Hargreaves: What to Do and What Not to Do When You Are Teaching Kids at Home

Andy Hargreaves recently retired from his position at Boston College, where he won international acclaim for his work supporting teachers and promoting excellence and equity in schooling. He has been a leader in researching and disseminating strategies for educational effectiveness. In this article that was published on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog in the Washington Post, Hargreaves offers
NYC: Success Academy Lays Off Employees, Fires Teachers

Alex Zimmerman of Chalkbeat reports that Success Academy is laying off employees and firing teachers . The layoffs, about 4% of “non-core” employees, were laid because of the financial crunch caused by the pandemic. The teachers were fired, the chain said, because of their performance. SA has a board of billionaires and millionaires and is known for its lavish spending on test prep rallies (“Slam
An Open Letter to Joe Biden, by Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris

Carol Burris and I wrote “ An Open Letter to Joe Biden, ” which was published by Valerie Strauss on her blog “The Answer Sheet” at the Washington Post. Valerie Strauss begins: During the Obama administration, public school advocates led by Diane Ravitch opposed the education agenda of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who had embraced standardized testing, charter schools and the Common Core State

APR 21

CDC Director Warns of Resurgence of Virus Next Winter

The stringent restrictions in place are “flattening the curve,” but the director of the Centers for Disease Control warned of the possibility of a new outbreak next winter. Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is like
Betsy DeVos Hands Out Another $200 Million, Mostly to Rich Corporate Charter Chains

In 1994, the Clinton administration started a small federal program and funded it with $4.5 million to help launch new charter schools. At the time, charter schools were a new idea, and there were not many of them. The first charter school had opened in Minnesota in 1991, and six states passed laws authorizing charters in 1992. In 1994, the idea was too new to have produced results or research. S
Peter Greene: Why Business Ideas Don’t Work in Education

Peter Greene once again nails a basic fact: education is not a business, and it can’t be run like a business. Business ideas work well in the world of commerce, where businesses compete to provide a better product or better service. Probably there will be readers who question how well business is functioning right now, as megastores like Walmart gobble up neighborhood stores, destroying Main Stre
John Thompson Reviews Rachel Maddow’s Book “Blowout”

Who better to review a book about the depredations of the fossil fuel industry than John Thompson, who lives in Oklahoma, where that industry controls the legislature? Thompson pointed out when he sent this review that the federal government spends ten times more to subsidize fossil fuels than it spends on education. He writes: Rachel Maddow’s Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia , an
Steven Singer: No, You Can’t Risk My Children’s Lives to Restart Your Economy

Steven Singer hears the growing demand to reopen schools in the midst of the pandemic , and he sees an ulterior motive. The clamor to reopen the schools is not about education or even the lives of children, but freeing their parents to go back to work. He writes that despite the lack of testing or vaccines, the Trump administration is eager to open up the economy, and reopening schools is central

APR 20

Charles Blow: Stop Covering Trump’s Fake Daily Briefings

For months, the Trump administration refused to hold press conferences to avoid answering questions from the press. Then came the pandemic, and two things happened. First, Trump stopped holding rallies for his base because it was too dangerous to hold them (ironic since he sides with the protestors who believe the pandemic is a hoax). Second, Trump realized that he could substitute daily “briefin
Jonathan Lovell: Rest In Peace, Dear Friend

On April 14, we lost a dear friend of this blog, of public education, of the Network for Public Education, and of me personally. Dr. Jonathan Lovell, emeritus professor of writing at San Jose State University in California died in his sleep. Jonathan was the director of the San Jose Area Writing Project. He described himself this way on LinkedIn: “I am a teacher of teachers, with a specific focus
Boston Globe: Parents Are Frustrated by Trying to School Their Children at Home

The Boston Globe interviewed parents and discovered a groundswell of exhaustion and frustration caused by the closure of schools and their new roles at home. I don’t think these parents will want more of the same when school reopens. The kids and their parents will be thrilled to see their teachers and classmates again when that happy day arrives. It was music class that finally drove Melissa Maw
An End to Schooling as We Know It? To Grocery Stores? To Concerts? To Live Plays? To Dances? To Offices?

A wise reader, who is anonymous, posted this comment a few days ago. I thought it was wise because we hear so many Disrupters cheering about “the end of schooling as we know it” when the reality is that most parents and students can’t wait for real school to start again. You don’t hear those same voices saying that no one will ever work in an office again; no one will every go to a concert or a p
Nancy Bailey: Stop the Talk about “Reinventing” and “Reimagining” Schools After the Pandemic Unless You Are a Parent or Teacher

Nancy Bailey has grown disgusted with the talk of “reinventing” and “reimagining” the school when the talk is coming from the same people who have wrecked the schools with their uninformed and harmful ideas for the past 20 years. If there is going to be any “reinvention,” it should be done by parents and teachers at their own schools, she says. Those who have failed us in the past should not be a

APR 19

Washington Post: Trump’s Claims About WHO Were Wrong

Trump froze funding to the World Health Organization on grounds that it had not given forewarning about the virus but had parroted the Chinese government line that it was contained. Dr. Birx dutifully parroted the Trump line. The Washington Post disagreed in an editorial. More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control an
Leonie Haimson: Why is NYC Spending Millions on Idle Buses?

Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters asks why the NYC Department of Education is spending millions for school buses that are useless while planning to cut the budget of the schools by $827 million? She writes: If DOE suspended our busing contracts now, the DOE would save $700 million through the end of the year – even after paying for the two weeks in March when they were used. This would prevent
San Francisco School Board Decides to Give All Students an A

The San Francisco school board resolved the question of how to grade students for a school year cut short by giving everyone an A. The city’s school board settled on the idea during a meeting Tuesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The grades will be given to every middle school and high school student. Elementary schoolers don’t receive letter grades. “Why not just give students As,”
Tim Wu: How America Outsourced Its Ability to Fight Pandemic

Tim Wu is a law professor at Columbia University. He ran for Lt. Governor in New York on a progressive ticket with Zephyr Teachout. On April 24, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s principal gatekeeper for health care mergers, published an innocuous-seeming notice granting a request for “early termination” of its review of a $108 million health care acquisition. Newport Medical Instr
CEO of Scandal-Ridden IDEA Charter Chain Resigns

Tom Torkelson, c-founder of the IDEA charter chain, has stepped down as CEO and will be replaced by the other co-founder JoAnn Gama. Based in Texas, IDEA is a favorite of Betsy DeVos, who has sent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to the chain to help it expand. Less than two weeks ago, DeVos gave another $72 million to IDEA. The chain previously had received more than $200 million from De
An Open Letter to the New New Left from the Old New Left: Vote for Biden

Veterans of the political struggles of the 1960s explain in this open letter published in The Natio n why they will vote for Joe Biden. In my view, anyone who opposes racism, fascism, and the dominance of the fanatical religious right should vote for Biden. The letter begins: On April 13, 2020, Senator Bernie Sanders urged his supporters to vote for the presumptive Democratic nominee, former vice

APR 18

Washington Post: U.S. Shipped Millions of Dollars of Face Masks, Ventilators to China in January

One reason that the U.S. was unprepared for the pandemic is that we were shipping medical supplies to a China even though government officials had been warned that the disease was likely to reach our country. U.S. manufacturers shipped millions of dollars of face masks and other protective medical equipment to China in January and February with encouragement from the federal government, a Washing
Teachers and Principals in Oakland Give More to Neediest than Billionaires

The blog started today with an account of the paltry amounts of money that our leading edu-philanthropists are contributing to alleviate the suffering of students and families during this crisis and to help public schools through the crisis. By contrast, some principals and teachers in the Oakland Education Association have agreed to give half or all of their stimulus checks to the families of un
CNN: Four Countries that Were Most Successful in Confronting Pandemic

CNN describes what four countries did to achieve control over coronavirus . The key to success, it appears, is to be prepared, to test extensively, and to act decisively. The four countries are Taiwan, Iceland, South Korea, and Germany. Their infection rates and death rates are well below those in the U.S., where states have had to compete for supplies and testing has been inaccessible for most p
New York Times: Kids Say They Miss School

The New York Times asked children how they felt about learning online at home and most said they would rather be at school. This article was written by Henry Dodd, age 11, whose father works for the Times. Kids are getting more bored by the day. We wish we could go back to school to see our friends. But some of us are also really scared about getting the coronavirus, and we don’t want our friends
Richard Rothstein: Pandemic Reveals Dramatic Economic and Social Inequities

Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law an d the classic Class and Schools has written an important article showing how the coronavirus is exposing and deepening the inequities in our society. This article was originally published by Shelterforce: The Voice of Community Development . Richard Rothstein writes: The COVID-19 pandemic will take existing academic achievement differences between

Chalkbeat: Big Education Philanthropists Are Missing in Action on Coronavirus Response

Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat checked to see what the billionaire philanthropists are doing in response to the coronavirus. The answer: Not much. When asked to underwrite charter schools, Teach for America, and wacky teacher-
Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all