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Saturday, May 2, 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

GregB.: Do We Really Care About Life?
In the midst of the pandemic, with the death toll rising, there are insistent calls to reopen the economy and get back to work, to reopen schools so parents can leave home to go to work, to return to business as usual. The president himself has encouraged his supporters to “liberate” their states (but only in states with Democratic governors) from restrictions meant to save lives. Recently a larg
Norman Solomon: Trump is a Neo-Fascist
Progressive activist Norman Solomon was a Sanders delegate to the Democratic convention in 2016. He now is national director of RootsAction. In this article in LA Progressive, he warns that Trump is a neofascist and that his re-election will end all hope for progressive change. He quotes Noam Chomsky: But here’s a key point: People who deny or downplay the real threat of neo-fascism consolidating
Mercedes Schneider: Jeb Bush Wants Relief $$ for Private Schools
Mercedes Schneider reports that Jeb Bush has staked a claim on Coronavirus relief dollars to benefit private schools. When it comes to supporting voucher schools, including those that openly engage in discrimination, no dollar will be left behind.
Sahlberg and Doyle on the Play Revolution on Long Island
Pasi Sahlberg and William Doyle celebrate the importance of play in their new book, Let the Children Play: How More Play Will Save Our Schools and Help Children Thrive , published by Oxford University Press. This article, excerpted from their book, features the work of Superintendent Michael Hynes and the 

Congressional Leaders Rebuke DeVos for Excluding 7.5 Million Students from Emergency Aid

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a hard, cruel woman. We all knew she is a billionaire. What was not yet clear is that she is utterly heartless. She drew up a list of students who would not get any federal assistance during the pandemic, although Congress did not authorize her to exclude anyone. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 1, 2020 Contact: Madeleine Russak: 202-224-5398 (Murray) Will Serio: 20
Boston Globe: New Report Details Harvard Ties to Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein received very special treatment at Harvard, according to a new report. He even had his own office, in recognition of his donations to the university. Disgraced sex offender Jeffrey Epstein had his own office in a Harvard University department and visited there more than 40 times after he was released from jail in 2010 up until 2018, according to review of the university’s ties to

Twice Denied Testing, Young Black Teacher Dies of COVID-19

This is a tragic story. A 30-year-old woman, the first in her family to go to college, felt sick and sought testing in Brooklyn. Both times she was rejected. The hospital gave her Tylenol and sent her home. She died of COVID-19. Rana Zoe Mungin was a black woman. Was she brushed off because of her race? She must have been a remarkable young woman. She was a graduate of Wellesley College, where ad
Luxury Hotel Provides Free Housing for Health Care Workers

The New Yorker describes an act of civic generosity : The New York Four Seasons is not the most welcoming hotel, architecturally speaking. Designed by I. M. Pei and situated on East Fifty-seventh Street, between Madison and Park, it greets visitors with an intimidating slab of limestone façade and a metal awning that seems to want to clobber you. Reviewing the building in the Times when it opened
Edweek: A Third of Teachers Are at Risk of Severe Illness from COVID-19

Education Week warns that almost a third of teachers are at risk of severe illness if schools reopen before COVID-19 is contained. Madeline Will writes: As states begin to consider what reopening schools might look like, a new analysis of federal data warns that teachers could be more susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19. About 29 percent of teachers are aged 50 and older, federal data sho
Dana Milbank: Can the Coronavirus Be Defeated by Lies?

Dana Milbank is an opinion writer for the Washington Post. In this recent column, he suggests that Trump hopes to defeat the pandemic by lying about how successful he is in responding to it. In his “whole of America” approach to fighting the pandemic, President Trump has begun clinical trials testing his most promising antidote: Can the novel coronavirus be killed with a lie? Trump has at times s
John Merrow: What’s Needed Now: Think Like a Librarian!

John Merrow has some good suggestions in this essay about the month of May and how to use it wisely and well: May has been an educational ‘dead zone’ for years. Because of our national obsession with standardized test scores, teachers–particularly in low income areas–spend class time showing students how to guess at answers, giving practice tests, and even teaching children how to fill in bubbles
Peter Greene: What Happens to “Accountability” After the Pandemic?

Peter Greene thinks that we should use this respite from the pressure of high-stakes testing to rethink accountability. Our current accountability system was cobbled together hastily in 2001 during the writing of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law. The NCLB law was based on a hoax, a fallacious claim that there had been a Texas miracle, all due to testing every child every year. Congress b

APR 30

A Conversation about the Pandemic and Early Childhood Education

Every Wednesday at 7:40 pm EST, the Network for Public Education has hosted a conversation about education. All the conversations are archived here. In the first one, I discussed my new book SLAYING GOLIATH with Carol Burris. In the second one, I talked to Pastor Charles Foster Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children about their fight against vouchers and for public schools. In the third one, I ask
Jan Resseger: The Pandemic Shows Why Betsy DeVos Is Wrong

Jan Resseger points out that Betsy DeVos has spent her years in office berating public schools and claiming that children and families are on their own when it comes to school choice. She reminds us of a speech DeVos gave at an ALEC conference where she scoffed at the very idea of a school system. Each of us, in her view, rows our own boat, without regard for others. We are definitely not in this
Tom Ultican: Who Paid to Make Indianapolis the Second Most Privatized School District in the Nation?

In this post, Tom Ultican takes a close look at the takeover and privatization of the Indianapolis school district, funded by billionaires and managed by a well-funded group called The Mind Trust (which, of course, claims to be deeply concerned about “civil rights,” while stripping parents of color of their right to elect a school board that represents them). By Ultican’s reckoning, nearly 64% of
Andy Hargreaves: What We Have Learned So Far from the Coronavirus Pandemic

Andy Hargreaves consults with eight education ministries about education strategy, after a long career as professor and researcher at Boston College. He is currently working with Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Iceland, Finland, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Uruguay. This article in The Conversation summarizes what schools have learned thus far in responding to the pandemic. What will schools look like
Gary Rubinstein: KIPP Flees the Edsel of School Reform in Tennessee

Gary Rubinstein reports that KIPP has taken advantage of the coronavirus shutdown of schools to close two of its charters in the ill-fated “Achievement School District” in Tennessee. Once hailed as a model for other states to copy, the ASD has been a flop. Rubinstein has followed the ASD from its early days, so filled with promise and boasting, to its collapse. The Tennessee Achievement School Di

APR 29

AFT Releases Guidelines to Reopen Schools

For Immediate Release April 29, 2020 Contact: Andrew Crook 607-280-6603 AFT Launches Landmark Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities Union issues blueprint for imagining a new normal for public education, public health and our economy in the age of COVID-19 WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers has released a detailed road map that, in t
Cuomo Forms Task Force of 116 to Plan Reopening of New York, Without Any K-12 Educators

Andrew Cuomo is once again revealing his marked disdain for K-12 education in New York. He created a task force with 116 members that includes a broad cross-section of people from across the state, including at least 10 from higher education, but also big wheels in the real estate industry, the financial sector, sports teams, and leaders of commerce . The only significant group not represented on
Teachers Unions Warn of Strikes and Protests if Schools Are Opened Too Soon

Randi Weingarten of the AFT and Lily Eskelsen Garcia of the NEA warned that teachers would take action if schools were opened before it was safe to do so. The nation’s two biggest teachers unions say they would consider strikes or major protests if schools reopen without the proper safety measures in place or against the advice of medical experts — raising the possibility of yet more school disru
Andrew Cuomo Wants to Cut Billions from Public Services But Will Not Raise Taxes on the 1%

Andrew Cuomo has become a national star because of his calm, sane commentaries about New York’s fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus and his compassion for those who have lost their lives and those who risk their lives. But, Liam Olenick writes, Cuomo is already reverting to his role as a fiscal conservative at a time when additional cuts to public services will endanger those who need the
Stop Cuomo’s Devastating Budget Cuts Now!

The Alliance for Quality Education, which advocates for full funding of public schools, urges all New Yorkers to contact their legislators to prevent Governor Andrew Cuomo from slashing the budget. From: Jasmine Gripper Subject: Urgent action to stop Cuomo’s cuts to public schools! Reply-To: Governor Cuomo is about to make devastating cuts to public school funding, as early as next
Nancy Bailey: 8 Ways to Save Public Schools from Draconian Budget Cuts

Veteran educator Nancy Bailey knows that public schools will be confronted with the threat of deep Bridget cuts in the wake of the pandemic. She here presents eight excellent ideas to stave off the pain of budget cuts and save public schools. Betsy DeVos offered her ideas, which are the same-old same-old stale voucher schemes. Privatization only hurts public schools, which enroll the vast majorit
Watch Tennessee Voucher Trial Live— Now

Tennessee vouchers are on trial right now. The court proceedings are being live-streamed. Major civil liberties organizations are opposing the voucher legislation, which applies only to two cities—Nashville and Memphis—whose representatives voted against vouchers. The law passed by one vote—after a reluctant legislator changed his vote when promised that his district would not get vouchers. The A
Christine Langhoff: The Great Boston School Heist

Christine Langhoff is a retired teachers in Massachusetts who is an activist on behalf of public schools. She warns here about the unfolding plot to impose a state takeover of Boston public schools. Having been decisively rebuffed at the polls by the state’s voters in 2016, the Walton allies on the state board have found another way to disrupt and control the Boston public schools and install Bro
In the Public Interest: The Pandemic Reminds Us of the Importance of Public Schools

Donald Cohen of “In the Public Interest” writes that the pandemic reminds the public of the importance and value of public schools. They serve the entire community. They are public, and they belong to the public , not to corporate chains or entrepreneurs. He writes: The worst of the COVID-19 outbreak is likely yet to come. But it’s worth taking a moment to think about why it took so long to close
Corruption Watch: DeVos Awarded $72 Million to IDEA Charter Chain Despite Negative Staff Reviews!

Three whistleblowers in the U.S. Department of Education filed complaints that Betsy DeVos overruled internal reviews to award $72 million to the IDEA charter chain. This is not the way federal grants are supposed to work. Funds are supposed to be awarded based on peer reviews and staff reviews, not awarded as plums by political appointees. This is political interference at the highest level. Thi

APR 28

Los Angeles: UTLA Responds to Governor Newsom’s Suggestion to Open Schools in Mid-Summer

Governor Gavin Newsom laid out his thoughts about a phased reopening of the state, including the possibility of opening schools as early as late a July or early August. The United Teachers of Los Angeles responded with their thoughts. The union said: An early start to the school year in LA would have to be bargained between UTLA and the LA Unified School District, and there has been no discussion
California: Will Schools Open in Late July or Early August?

Governor Gavin Newsom has addressed the coronavirus pandemic with admirable calm. Today, he announced his views about a gradual reopening of the state, depending on the state’s progress in combatting the virus. Part of his plan–or at least speculation–was the possibility that schools might reopen in late July or early August. Is this a wise move? I don’t know, neither does anyone else? Will the d
The Federal Reserve Is Giving $500 Billion to Large Corporations without Restrictions

The Washington Post reports that the Federal Reserve is handing out $500 billion (that’s BILLIONS, not millions) to large corporations, without requiring them to save jobs or limit executive compensation. Under the program, the central bank will buy up to $500 billion in bonds issued by large companies. The companies will use the influx of cash as a financial lifeline but are required to pay it b
BREAKING NEWS! Trump Suggests Governors Should Consider Reopening Schools

CNN reports that Trump urged the nation’s governors to give serious consideration to reopening schools. “ Some of you might start thinking about school openings, because a lot of people are wanting to have school openings. It’s not a big subject, young children have done very well in this disaster that we’ve all gone through,” Trump told the governors on a teleconference call, according to audio
Bald Piano Guy Serenades Betsy DeVos!

The Bald Piano Guy is a very clever public school teacher in Great Neck, New York, who posts musical videos on YouTube expressing his views about education and politics, always with a smile. I erred in thinking he was a NYC teacher. In this video , he has advice for Betsy DeVos: “ Go back to selling Amway/ Teaching really isn’t your thing.”
This is What National Leadership Looks Like: Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel’s political star appeared to be on the decline until the pandemic erupted across the world. Suddenly Germany had exactly the leader it needed. An experienced public figure with a scientific background and a calm demeanor. The Atlantic has the story here. BERLIN—Today, we face the global outbreak of a disease that has the potential to catalyze what the historian Eva Schlotheuber term
Gary Rubinstein: Some TFA Leaders Can’t Stop Bashing Teachers

Gary Rubinstein started his teaching career in Teach for America, and he knows many of its successful alums. Unlike many of them, he became a career teacher in New York City, and he began to see the world differently. About a decade ago, he became a critic of TFA, though always a civil critic. In this post , he calls out certain TFA leaders because of their contempt for public school teachers. So
You Read It Here First: Betsy Uses Relief Funds to Push Vouchers and Online Ed

I posted yesterday that Betsy DeVos set aside more than $300 million of the billions in coronavirus aid to advance her personal agenda of undermining public schools. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who is chair of the House subcommittee that oversees education appropriations, criticized her misuse of the funds. Chalkbeat has the story. Betsy thinks the days of learning in physical buildings are obsolete. I ha
Eleven Warning Signs that Privatizers Are Invading Your School District During the Pandemic

“In The Public Interest,” a nonpartisan organization that supports a healthy public sector, has identified eleven warning signs that privatizers are targeting your school district. Read them and be prepared to defend your public schools from privatizers and profiteers! Here are the first six. Open the link and learn about the other five: As students, parents, educators, and school districts strug

APR 27

Watch Steven Sondheim’s 90th Tonight: “Take Me to the World”

If you love Broadway shows, if you love Sondheim, watch “ Take Me to the World,” a celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday, featuring great Broadway stars. I don’t know how long it will be available—for a day, a week, or forever. I’m watching now. Join me! Don’t miss it.
Secretary DeVos’ Sneaky Effort to Divert Coronavirus Dollars to Virtual Charters and Non-Public Schools

I earlier posted Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s outspoken criticism of Secretary DeVos for diverting CARES (coronavirus relief) funds to her pet projects (anything but public schools). DeVos wants to liberate America’s students from public schools, despite the fact that the legislation does not authorize her to follow her own wishes. DeVos has this wacky idea that learning online is “student-centered,” when
Rep. DeLauro Criticizes Betsy DeVos for Using Coronavirus Relief Funds to Promote Vouchers

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has never made a secret of her contempt for public schools. Rep. Rosa DeLauro criticized DeVos for encouraging vouchers while dispensing coronavirus relief funds. This was never part of the intent of Congress. DeVos does whatever she wants to do without regard to Congressional intent. Usually, it is a bad idea for a Cabinet officer to ignore the appropriators. D
Tennessee: Court Hearing April 29 on Vouchers

Three major civil rights legal teams are challenging vouchers in Tennessee: the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Education Law Center. MEDIA ADVISORY April 27, 2020 Ashley Levett, SPLC, / 334-296-0084 Sharon Krengel, ELC, / 973-624-1815, x24 Lindsay Kee, ACLU-TN, / 615-320-7142 Christopher Wood, Robbins
Carol Burris on NPE Survey of Emergency Remote Learning

Carol Burris conducted a survey of teachers, parents, and principals on behalf of the Network for Public Education to learn about how this extended period of emergency remote learning is affecting them. The summary is reported in this article posted on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog. This period of emergency remote learning is taking an emotional toll on many. Burris writes: When I asked Bro
In America, Farmers Destroy Their Crops–While People are Starving

This is a conundrum. See if you can make sense of it. According to the New York Times, farmers are destroying the food they produce because demand has fallen due to restaurants closing in response to the pandemic. The New York Times reports: In Wisconsin and Ohio, farmers are dumping thousands of gallons of fresh milk into lagoons and manure pits. An Idaho farmer has dug huge ditches to bury 1 mi
Peter Greene: A Pathetic Attempt, Funded by Billionaires, to Revive the Big Standatdized Tests

Once again, Peter Greene has done us a great favor by reading a tedious billionaire-funded report that tries to prove what we know to be absurd: that the students and teachers of these United States really really need standardized testing. Having taught for 39 years, Peter knows this is hogwash. Somehow, the United States became the most prosperous nation in the world long before the Big Standard
Jeff Bryant: How Betsy DeVos Is Using the Pandemic to Push Her Privatization Agenda for Charters and Vouchers

Jeff Bryant has kept tabs on Betsy DeVos, who is quietly turning the pandemic into an opportunity to advance her personal agenda of privatizing public schools. She is not going to let this massive national crisis and tragedy go to waste. She came to her position determined to “advance God’s Kingdom” and what better time to do that than now, as the nation is staggering with sickness and death? Ple

APR 26

Did the Pandemic Come Out of Nowhere? The Washington Post Says No

Did anyone ever warn that we were unprepared for a pandemic? Here is what the editorial board of the Washington Post says: “CAME OUT of nowhere,” President Trump said March 6 of the coronavirus pandemic. “I just think this is something . . . that you can never really think is going to happen.” A few weeks later, he added, “I would view it as something that just surprised the whole world.” Mr. Tru
Randy Rainbow: A Spoonful of Disinfectant Knocks the Coronavirus Out

Parodist and entertainer Randy Rainbow is at his best up iF this video, explaining how a disinfectant will kill the coronavirus, and kill you too!
Oklahoma: Governor Stitt Puts Trumpism Above Reality and Common Sense

John Thompson writes about the latest madness in his home state of Oklahoma: The shocking headline was that the price of oil dropped to below $1 a barrel. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt was on the phone with Vice President Mike Pence when he heard the news. The legislature now faces “a loss of $1.3 billion in revenue for appropriation between FY 2020 and FY 2022.” So, why has Gov. Stitt been talki
Michael Hynes: A New Vision for Education After the Pandemic

Michael Hynes is the superintendent of schools in the Port Washington school district on Long Island in New York. He is one of the most creative, innovative, and unconventional thinkers in education today. His new book was just published , offering advice to school leaders and, frankly, to everyone, about what is most important in life. Mike Hynes is my candidate for the next State Commissioner o

APR 25

A Statement by the Center for Educational Equity on the Landmark Detroit Decision

The Center for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, issued this statement on the landmark decision in Michigan that students in Detroit have a fundamental right to education to prepare for citizenship. In a landmark decision issued yesterday in the Gary B. v. Whitmer case, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held there is a “fundamental right to a basic minimum
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 books for children, explains here why science matters. She begins like this: This quote from the Washi

APR 24

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