Saturday, May 23, 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

Former Trump Aide Wins $3 Million Contract to Produce Masks, Many Defective
ProPublica dug up a shameful story, just one more for an era of shameful stories. I wrote previously that the Trump presidency will make Teapot Dome look like a tea party. For those of you who don’t know, Teapot Dome was taught in the textbooks as the prime example of political corruption. The following is a textbook case of profiteering at the expense of vulnerable people. A former White House a
Los Angeles: After Long Battle, 5 Charter Schools Join UTLA
Yesterday, the United Teachers of Los Angeles scores a big victory, and so did the teachers in five charter schools, who won the right to unionize. For Immediate Release May 22, 2020 Media Contact: Anna Bakalis, 213-305-9654 PERB rules in UTLA’s favor, the union will now represent all educator

Kids Are Miserable Because of Distance Learning
Catherine Pearson writes at Huffington Post that children are depressed and miserable because of distance learning. The fun of remote learning is gone. They miss their friends and activities. In the past month, my 5-year-old has gone from being excited about video calls for school and virtual “play dates” to basically hating it all. Sometimes he’s into it — like yesterday, when he was totally eng
Peter Greene Reviews the CDC Guidance for Reopening Schools During the Pandemic
Peter Greene explains the CDC guidance for schools. He does so in his inimitable style. He links to the official guidelines and reviews them. Bear in mind that most parents, teachers, and students want to return to real school, but with precautions in place.
More than $1K in the Bank? Make These 4 Moves
It's important you move quickly here.
Chicago Public Schools Decides to Kick Out Privatized Custodial Services
The Chicago Board of Education voted to end their relationships with two private companies t hat received hundreds of millions of dollars for custodial services but did a lousy job. The companies got a one-year renewal while the school system prepares to restore their own custodians. Chicago Public Schools plans to end its maligned relationship worth hundreds of millions of dollars with two facil
Paul Tough: Kill the SAT, and Good Riddance
Paul Tough has written several books, including most recently, “The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us.” He also wrote a book about Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone, and the best-selling “How Children Succeed.” In this article in the New York Times , Tough explains that the decision by the University of California to drop the SAT may be the beginning of the end f


Trump Says There Will Be No More Shutdowns
Trump says even if the coronavirus comes back for a second round, there will be no more shutdowns. That means that even if there is a sharp increase in infections and deaths, the economy will keep humming, no matter the risk to life. The Boston Globe wrote: President Trump said on Thursday that “we’re not gonna close the country” again if the coronavirus sees a resurgence. During a tour of a Ford
Congress to DeVos: We Did Not Intend to Fund Private Schools; DeVos to Congress: I Don’t Care
As I mentioned in the 2 pm post, even Republican Lamar Alexander chastised Betsy DeVos for diverting money from the CARES coronavirus fund to private schools. Here is the Washington Post report on the same events: DeVos is playing Reverse Robin Hood: Steal from the poor and give to the Rich. She is thumbing her nose at Congress. She doesn’t care what their intent was. Education Secretary Betsy De
Trump Makes False Claims in Letter to World Health Organization
Salvador Rizzo of the Washington Post writes about a letter sent by Trump to the World Health Organization, in which he made false claims. Trump is poorly staffed. He is ignorant and he is surrounded by sycophants who are dumber than he is. He is an international laughing stock. Rizzo writes: Any letter signed by the U.S. president and sent to an international organization would have gotten a tho
Lamar Alexander Disagrees with Betsy DeVos About Giving CARES Funds to Private Schools
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, publicly questioned Betsy DeVos’s guidance to states to include private schools when distributing federal funding of coronavirus relief. DeVos says the money should be divided according to enrollment. Alexander says it was supposed to follow the Title I funding and go to the nee
Meet a Different Kind of Superintendent
I recently had a discussion with Dr. Michael Hynes, the district superintendent in Port Washington, New York. Our ZOOM discussion was sponsored by the Network for Public Education. Mike Hynes is unusual because he believes in whole-child education. He is a revolutionary. He doesn’t think that test scores are important. He thinks schools should be places of joy. He believes in collaboration with s
Education Law Center Calls on Cuomo to Reject DeVos “Guidance”
Without Congressional authorization, Betsy DeVos has urged states to dispense CARES Act funding based on enrollment, to include private schools, not based on economic need. As usual, she is using her authority to promote privatization of public funds intended for public schools. The Education Law Center wrote an appeal to Governor Cuomo, urging him to reject the DeVos formula, which will divert m
Stan Karp: Betsy DeVos Uses the Pandemic to Pursue Her War Against Public Schools
Stan Karp has written a brilliant critique of federal policy and Betsy DeVos’s audacious and vicious assault on our nation’s public schools and their students. Don’t believe those who say that Congress has blocked her most horrendous actions. She has used her authority and exceeded the intent of Congress to advance her single-minded and narrow-minded pursuit of privatization. When Congress tries
My Thoughts on the Election
I will vote for Joe Biden. I will vote for him with enthusiasm. The alternative is almost too horrible to contemplate. Donald Trump is a wannabe fascist. Under Mitch McConnell’s direction (or control), Trump is filling the federal judiciary with rightwing extremists and incompetents. Trump is vicious. He has not an ounce of empathy. He is incompetent, and he has surrounded himself with incompeten

MAY 21

A Virtual Choir and Orchestra of 300 Sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
Enjoy this beautiful rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, performed by 300 people from 15 countries. Here are the liner notes: In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, 300 people from 15 different countries came together to participate in a virtual rendition of the beautiful song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel
SomeDam Poet: Protect Your Children from the Trolls!
SomeDam Poet warns: The trolls are waiting under bridge To pounce upon the passing kids Disguised as broads and billy goats With candy and with diet kochs
The New York Philharmonic Honors NYC’s Healthcare Workers
This is a special virtual performance by the New York Philharmonic, playing Ravel’s “Bolero, ” to honor the city’s brave healthcare workers. Enjoy!
Commonweal: Trump Administration’s Cruel Efforts to Strangle People of Cuba
In 2013, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Cuba with my partner and two friends. The Obama administration had relaxed restrictions on travel, and we visited as part of a people-to-people program. Our group flew to Miami, then boarded an American Airlines charter jet that brought us in less than an hour to Jose Marti airport in Havana. Many of our fellow passengers were a Cubans carry
Michael A. Cohen: The Era of Stupid
Michael A. Cohen is a regular columnist for the Boston Globe. He has determined that the current era will henceforth be called “the Era of Stupid.” President Trump’s moronic behavior is the defining feature of American life. Americans have long divided our nearly 244-year history into eras. There was the Era of Good Feelings in the 1810s and 1820s; the Gilded Age in the late 19th century; the New
Peter Greene: Kudos to Dr. Les Perelman, the Slayer of the RoboGrader!
Peter Greene recognizes one of the great education heroes of our age , Dr. Lester Perelman, who retired a few years ago from MIT, where he taught writing. Les Perelman carefully and thoroughly debunked “robograding” of student essays. ETS had a robograder that allegedly graded thousands of essays in a minute or less. Perelman showed that students could write nonsensical paragraphs containing blat
Bill Phillis: Ohio Supreme Court Strikes Down Local Control of Schools
Perhaps you recall that Republicans used to favor local control of public schools by elected boards. That time is now gone, since Republicans bought into the idea of privatization of public funds. Now they support state takeovers, even though there is no evidence that state takeovers have ever been successful, and a good deal of evidence (see the Michigan “Education Achievement Authority” and the
Ross Barkan: Andrew Cuomo’s War on Public Higher Education
Perhaps you know New York Governor Andrew Cuomo only through his daily coronavirus briefings, where he has been thoughtful, strong, and compassionate. But there is another side to Cuomo. He doesn’t like public education or teachers. And as Ross Barkan writes in the Nation, he definitely doesn’t like public higher education. Cuomo has governed New York state since 2011. State aid to CUNY, adjusted

MAY 20

BREAKING NEWS: Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against College Board for Botched AP Exams
Valerie Strauss writes in the Washington Post about a class-action lawsuit filed against the College Board: A class-action lawsuit has been filed in federal court on behalf of students who took online Advanced Placement tests last week and ran into technical trouble submitting their answers. It demands that the College Board score their answers instead of requiring them to retake the test in June
Indiana: State Chief Jennifer McCormick Turns Down DeVos Guidance
Hooray for State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick of Indiana! She rejected Betsy DeVos’ guidance to share CARES relief funding between public and private schools. No wonder Republicans are planning to get rid of her and replace her with an appointed state superintendent whom they can control, on behalf of charter schools and voucher schools. The state education department estimates that if they
Las Vegas Sun: This is What a Budding Dictatorship Looks Like. Will You Take a Stand?
We have all read mealy-mouthed articles and editorials in which the writers tiptoe around the unquestioned fact that Donald Trump lies without shame. We know he has fired anyone in the federal government who has dared to question his often absurd judgments. We know he has fired several independent Inspectors General whose job is to monitor Cabinet agencies for waste, fraud, and abuse. Most recent
The Girl Who Died Twice
The Washington Post published this story of a child who became ill with a disease that afflicted her gmheart, caused by the coronavirus. The CDC calls it MIS-C, which is defined in the story. This same disease is also called the Kawasaki disease. The day Juliet Daly’s heart gave out started much like every other Monday during the quarantine. The 12-year-old from Covington, La., padded out of her
Tennessee Takes DeVos Advice to Give Federal Aid to Private Schools
Tennessee’s public schools will share federal CARES funding with private schools, as Secretary of Efucation Betsy DeVos recommends. DeVos never skips a chance to funnel federal money to non public schools. Tennessee has a Trumper Governor, and together they are harming the state’s public schools. DeVos has slyly turned the CARES Act funding into the voucher funding that Congress has consistently
Arthur Camins: Why We Must Support Biden
Arthur Camins, retired science teacher and former director of innovation in engineering and science at Stevens Institute of Technology, intends to vote for Joe Biden. He explains why: I supported Bernie Sanders for president. I also would have been thrilled if Elizabeth Warren was nominated. I will now vote for Joe Biden. He is the only potential Democratic nominee at this point. So, either he wi

MAY 19

Trump Attacks Medical Researchers Who Cast Doubt on His Favorite Anti-COVID 19 Drug
The Washington Post published a remarkable story by Philip Bump about Trump’s ongoing battle with medical research. Any researcher who challenges the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, he believes, is a political enemy, a “Never Trumper.” Trump doesn’t believe in science. He says he is taking the drug to prove that it works. How does he know it works? People have told him so. He is a very stupid, na
Garrison Keillor: Today is the Birthday of Malcolm X
Garrison Keillor writes today about the life and achievements of Malcolm X. Today is his birthday. Just a small apercu: on February 21, 1965, I read in the newspaper about a sale of Tiffany lamps in uptown Manhattan. Growing up in Texas, I had never seen a Tiffany lamp. I was a young housewife in search of a lamp. I took the subway and was about to go inside the shop when I saw a huge commotion a
Why Are Charter Schools Taking Money Intended to Save Small Businesses?
The charter industry lobbied to make sure that privately-managed charter schools would be eligible to apply for and receive federal coronavirus relief funds that were intended to save small businesses. An unknown number of charter schools have indeed received large federal monies from the stimulus money, despite the fact that no charter school has suffered any loss of funding due to the pandemic.
Valerie Jablow: Why Is D.C. Giving Away Public Space to Charters in Shady Real Estate Deals?
Valerie Jablow, parent advocate in the District of Columbia, has untangled a tangled knot of obscure real estate deals, all derived from what is supposedly public property. It begins with a large D.C. public school building formerly known as Taft junior high school. At 201,000 square feet, Taft is a very large, DC-owned former DCPS junior high school adjacent to a public recreation area. It was c
Texas: Faith-Based Charter School Hopes to Open in Dallas Area
Parent advocates in Dallas are concerned about the fiscal impact of new charter schools at a time when the budget of the public schools are stretched thin. Lori Kirkpatrick wrote here about the dangers of introducing new and unwanted charters. Public education advocates don’t understand how it makes sense to introduce new charters when existing public schools are in fiscal trouble. They expressed
North Carolina: Civil Rights Challenge Charter Schools’ Racial Segregation
Civil rights groups are suing to block the use of charter schools to desegregate public schools in North Carolina. About Us News Facebook ‌ Twitter ‌ May 18, 2020 LAWSUIT CHALLENGES NORTH CAROLINA LAW ALLOWING BREAKAWAY, SEGREGATED CHARTER SCHOOLS By Wendy Lecker Parents and civil rights groups in North Carolina have sued the State challenging a law passed in 2018 authorizing predominately white,

MAY 18

TIME: How the Real Estate Industry Got $160 Billion in the CARES Act
TIME magazine has a depressing expose about the $160 billion in tax breaks that the CARES Act awards to the real estate industry, including the family business of Jared Kushner. The CARES Act is the coronavirus relief package of $2 trillion intended to save mom-and-pop businesses and other small businesses at risk of failing due to the prolonged shutdown. When Democrats realized that the real est
New York Times Twists the Facts by “Neutrality”
Erik Wemple of the Washington Post criticizes the New York Times for not allowing its reporters to tell the unvarnished truth. The Times suffers from “both side-ism.” The Times’s pretense of neutrality ends up falsifying the truth and distorting reality. The reality is that the president of the United States is an ignorant and malicious tyrant who endangers our democracy, our future, and the worl
Andrea Gabor: States Should Not Forsake the Neediest Children When Setting Budgets
Andrea Gabor spells out what many educators and parents fear: the collapse of state revenues will endanger our most vulnerable children. After 20 years of pouring billions into testing and consultants, let’s see how many “reformers” demand smaller classes and insist on protecting school funding. How many state leaders will have the will and the courage to protect the children? She begins: The New
Steven Singer: Why the Standardized Tests Were Canceled and Might be Canceled Again Next Year
Steven Singer digs into Betsy DeVos’s decision to eliminate federally mandated standardized tests this year. And he goes farther to predict that the tests might be canceled again next year. The real danger (to the tests, not the students), he says, is that they would not be secure if they were offered online. Under ordinary circumstances, security during testing time is tight. Everyone–students a
Randy Abraham: A Few Good Reasons to Support Joe Biden
I have one good reason to support Joe Biden. It can be summed up in one five-letter word: Trump. Reader Randy Abraham offers more reasons: The twittersphere has recently been aflame over Bernie Sanders’ decision to suspend his presidential campaign, and then his recent endorsement of frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden. His most fervent supporters contend that Biden offers them nothing b
Thomas Ultican: CREDO Studies Are Biased to Favor Charter Schools
Thomas Ultican investigated CREDO, the Stanford-Hoover organization that specializes in the study of charter school performance. Ultican reviews the origin and history of CREDO and concludes that its long association with conservative and libertarian funders and groups influence its conclusions. He maintains that its methodology is flawed and biased to favor charter schools. He argues that its fi

MAY 17

Garrison Keillor on a Great and Little-Known Inventuon
This entry in today’s “Writer’s Almanac” astounded me. On this day in 1902, archaeologist Valerios Stais discovered the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient analog computer from the first or second century B.C., that was used to calculate the position of the sun, moon, and stars in relationship to the observer’s position on the surface of the earth. For many decades, archaeologists did not recognize
Nancy Bailey: Who Does the Biden/Sanders Education Unity Panel Unite?
Nancy Bailey is well aware of the dangers to public education today, especially the threats of privatization, data mining, and technological takeover. She saw that the campaigns of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders created an education unity group and she wondered who was included and who was not included. Here is her analysis. She begins with who was left out: Many want to say good riddance to Educat
David Kristofferson: The AP Problem Was Caused by the College Board’s Server and Bandwidth, not by Student Browsers
As I noted in the previous post, thousands of students who took AP exams found that their submissions were rejected. The College Board claimed that the fault was in the students’ browsers. It was, of course, blameless. David Kristofferson–teacher, scientist, IT expert– clarifies the problem. The fault was with the College Board’s overloaded server and bandwidth, not the students’ browsers. Every
Mercedes Schneider: The College Board Blames Students for Its Botched AP Exams
By now, almost everyone knows that the College Board offered a shortened version of AP exams–only 45 minutes–and that thousands of students took the exams at home, online, only to have their answers rejected. When asked about this phenomenon, which was so deeply upsetting to the affected students, the College Board responded that the problem was the students’ browsers. Some students (including on
Annie Abrams: Privatization Vultures Are Circling Our Public Schools
Writing in the New Republic, New York City public school teacher Annie Abrams warns about the vultures circling public schools during the pandemic , hoping to make remote learning a feature, not a temporary emergency measure. She cites the recent comments by Governor Cuomo about the seeming obsolescence of “all these buildings, all these physical classrooms; why, with all the technology you have?

MAY 16

NYC: Carranza Says He Can’t Cut $34 Billion Budget
Ricard Carranza, NYC Schools Chancellor, says he can’t cut the schools’ $34 billion budget. He says has has cut the budget “to the bone.” Advocates don’t agree . “ There is no fat to cut, there is no meat to cut — we are at the bone,” Carranza testified Tuesday at a City Council budget hearing. Education advocates and DOE staffers say his claim belies the bureaucratic bloat and bonanza of pay rai
My Pandemic Appearance on the Samantha Bee Show
Thanks to a recommendation by my good friend Andy Hargreaves, I got a call from the Samantha Bee Show, which interviewed me about education and the pandemic. Here is the link . I will make a confession: I have not seen it yet. I hate to watch myself on television. I have a mental image of myself looking younger, much younger (like, 35-40), and on television every line shows, especially when you a
Dr. Michael Hynes and I Will Talk Next Wednesday: Join Us!
On May 20, I will ZOOM with Dr. Michael Hynes, the most interesting and inspiring superintendent I know. Mike Hynes is superintendent of the Port Washington school district on Long Island, In New York. He is a visionary. His new book—about educational leadership—is Staying Grounded . He truly believes in whole-child education. He supports the parent opt-out movement. He believes that what matters
SPLC: Southern States Slowly Remove Confederate Symbols
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports on the status of Confederate monuments and symbols. This subject may not be uppermost on your mind in the midst of the pandemic, but it remains a sore subject in the South, where most of these memorials are located. They are an affront to African American citizens and to anyone else who recognizes the injustices of the antebellum South and the continuing ra
Two Christian Leaders Speak Out Against Public Funding of Religious Schools
Recently Trump promised Catholic leaders that if he is re-elected, he would fund Catholic schools. These two Christian leaders explain why that’s a terrible idea. Valerie Strauss introduced the essay: Late last month, President Trump had a phone conversation with Catholic leaders, educators and others, during which he promised to seek federal financial support for parochial schools to help them w
Arthur Goldstein: Will Mitch McConnell Destroy Our Public Services?
Veteran teacher Arthur Goldstein fears that Republican Senator Mitch McConnell will use his power to destroy public services in New York and other states whose revenues have been devastated by the pandemic. He writes: If we want to continue to get care when we’re sick, give our children education, 

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