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Saturday, May 30, 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

Trump Backs DeVos, Vetoes Effort to Forgive Student Debt to Predatory Colleges
Trump vetoed legislation that would have protected college students burdened by debt from predatory colleges. Many of the defrauded were veterans. Trump’s support of predatory colleges should not be surprising, since Trump owned a predatory college “Trump University”), which was closed down by regulators and led to Trump being fined $25 million. From the Washington Post: President Trump on Friday
Photo of the Year: Whites Protect Black Protestors in Louisville
This is a heartening photograph showing a line of whites, apparently all female, arms locked together, defending black protestors against the police. I don’t recall whites standing up to defend black protestors in the 1960s. We must all stand together against racism, injustice, and hatred.
IDEA Charter Chain Will Pay Its CEO Tom Torkelsen Severance Pay of $900,000
Under its CEO Tom Torkelsen, the charter chain IDEA experienced explosive growth, dramatic success in winning nearly $200 million in federal funds from Betsy DeVos and the federal Charter Schools Program, but multiple scandals involving lavish spending on personal perks, like a lease on a private jet, first-class travel, and box seats at sporting events. Torkelsen announced his resignation in Apr
Stephen Dyer: Vouchers Hurt Poor Kids
Stephen Dyer, who served in the Ohio legislature and is an expert in school finance, writes here that vouchers hurt poor kids and explains why . It is important to bear in mind that no state offers vouchers large enough to pay for a high-quality private school. Most voucher students attend low-quality religious schools. When anyone claims that vouchers enable poor kids to have the same choices as
Carol Burris: Charters Are Looting Federal Funds Meant to Save Small Businesses
A few days ago, Carol Burris and Marla Kilfoyle of the Network for Public Education wrote an article in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” about the charter schools that are claiming federal funds designated for small businesses, thwarting the intention of the legislators. Public schools are not eligible for the PPP relief funds, but—presto chango—the money-hungry charters decided they are not publ
Superintendents to Tech Vendors: “Just Stop It!”
The National Superintendents Roundtable published a report calling on tech vendors to get out of the way during the pandemic and “ Just Stop It.” COVID-19 has unleashed a tsunami of work for school superintendents as they distribute food to students, implement distance learning, and prepare for a different fall school environment. What’s not helping, they say, is a flood of sales calls from techn


Robert Kuttner: Say It Ain’t So, Joe
Robert Kuttner is editor of The American Prospect. Here he writes that Biden has asked Rahm Emanuel to advise him. What Kuttner fails to mention is Rahm’s disastrous control of the Chicago public schools. He should be forever stigmatized by his decision to close 50 public schools in a single day. He was continually at war with the Chicago Teachers Union. To know him, if you value public schools,
Racism, Police Brutality, and Our Future
For those of us old enough to remember the protests against racism and police brutality in the late 1960s, the outrage of African Americans has a sad and sickening familiarity. It’s sad because yet another black man was killed by police officers although he was not resisting arrest (and even had he been 
Amy Frogge, a Hero of the Resistance, Blasts Billionaire Eli Broad and His Broadies
Amy Frogge is one of the heroes of my book SLAYING GOLIATH. A lawyer, she ran for the Metro Nashville school board with no foreknowledge of the privatization movement. She ran as a concerned citizen and a mother of children in the public schools of Nashville. The privatizers outspent her 5-1, but she won. When she got on the board, she realized that there was a sustained and well-funded campaign
Nashville: School Board Rejected Five Charter Schools
I am late with this news. I missed the email informing me. Too many emails. It happened at the end of April. But it’s important because the Disrupters have targeted Nashville as one of their prime targets for privatization. So it’s big news that the Metro Nashville school board turned down five applications for new charter schools . At a time of fiscal austerity, the board recognized that it can’
Trump Administration Still Separating Children from Immigrant Parents
While the nation is distracted by the pandemic, the Trump administration is continuing its cruel practice of separating children fromtheir immigrant parents. Show more sharing options WASHINGTON — Dad lives about 10 miles from the White House, stringing together gardening jobs, not letting the kids touch him when he gets home for fear of contagion. Mom lives in a makeshift refugee camp on the bor
Distance Learning is Horrible for Kindergarten Students
A reader with the anonymous sobriquet “Kindergarten Interlude” writes: For my kindergartners distance-learning was never fun. And Lord knows for me it is not just a challenge but truly sad. How do you connect with five and six-year-olds through a computer screen? And the parents are losing it. I give them a lot of credit! Of course I am trying to make the best of this for my students, but gone is

MAY 28

Ohio Legislators Reject the Vision of the Founding Fathers
Denis Smith, former official in the Ohio State Education Departnent, describes here the commitment of the Founding Fathers of the nation and Ohio to “common schools” or public schools. In our own day, however, radical libertarians—anarchists, in fact—have opposed the Founders’ vision and sought to replace the common schools with consumer choice. In place of the goal of equality of educational opp
Jan Resseger: Congress Must Pass Aid for States to Avoid Economic Disaster
Every state is facing financial catastrophe because of the economic consequences of the pandemic. Jan Resseger argues that Congress must pass legislation to avert draconian cuts to education, public health, and other vital public services. The states are facing a national crisis not of their making, and a responsible Congress would promptly enact fiscal relief. Under Mitch McConnel, we do not hav
Burris and Kilfoyle: The Charter Schools That Are Double-Dipping Federal CARES Funds
Are charter schools public schools or small businesses with government contracts? They claim to be public schools, even though they have private, unelected boards and private management. Yet many charter schools applied for and received federal funds from the CARES Act, at the urging of their lobbyists, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. They took money intended to save small busin
David Berliner: Kids Missing School? Don’t Worry.
David Berliner, one of our nation’s most eminent researchers, advises parents not to worry that their children are “falling behind.” School is important. Instruction is important. But “soft skills” and non—cognitive skills matter more in the long term than academic skills. Relax. He sent this advice to the blog: Worried About Those “Big” Losses on School Tests Because Of Extended Stays At Home? T

MAY 27

Betsy DeVos Takes Money from Public Schools and Small Businesses to Advance Her Agenda
Larry Buhl of Capital & Main reports on Betsy DeVos’s raid on federal funds intended for public schools and small businesses. Her cv overriding goal has been unwavering for at least 30 years: privatization of public schools. She has no intention of letting a crisis go to waste. Congress thought it was appropriating new money to help public schools, but DeVos has insisted that the money must be di
DeVos Insists That Public Schools Must Share Emergency Funds with Private Schools
Betsy DeVos has been rebuked by Congress, even by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, but she refuses to back down from her plan to force states and school districts to share emergency funding with private schools, even elite private schools. Erica L. Green writes in the New York Times: WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, defiant amid criticism that she is using the coronavirus to pursu
Andy Borowitz on Re-Locating GOP Convention
Humorist Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker recommends moving the GOP convention from North Carolina to Moscow . The GOP has friends there. No protests.
How Los Angeles Plans to Reopen
Los Angeles is trying to figure out how to reopen its schools, safely but with no assurance about how they will pay for the changes. Sixteen students to a class. One-way hallways. Students lunch at their desks. Children could get one ball to play with — alone. Masks are required. A staggered school day brings on new schedules to juggle. These campus scenarios could play out based on new Los Angel
Wall Street Journal: How Schools Are Reopening
The Wall Street Journal wrote about how different districts are planning their reopening in the fall. Students wearing masks, eating lunch in classrooms and attending school in person only two days a week are among the scenarios being looked at in school districts throughout the U.S. planning to reopen in the fall. Children who are academically behind or without internet access would get preferen
Juan Gonzalez: The Struggle to Save a Public School in New Brunswick, New Jersey, from Corporate Clutches
Juan Gonzalez is a veteran journalist who wrote a regular column for the “New York Daily News” for many years. He retired from the “News” but frequently appears on “Democracy Now” as co-host with Amy Goodman. Gonzalez is renowned as an investigative reporter and champion of justice. He wrote this post for the blog. New Brunswick, New Jersey Community Fights to Save a Public School From Corporate
Holy Moley: Oklahoma Science Standards Include Evolution and Climate Change
This would not normally be news, but in the a Trump era, when science is disregarded, it is amazing. The Oklahoma Legislature approved state science standards that include evolution and climate change! The e-word — “evolution” — is unabashedly used: for example, a high school standard for biology expects students to be able to “[c]ommunicate scientific information that common ancestry and biologi
Mother Jones: The Incredible But True Story of ECOT, Ohio’s Virtual Disaster
This is the incredible but true story of the improbable rise and precipitate collapse of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), which sucked nearly $1 billion out of public schools in Ohio over nearly 20 years. It was written by James Pogue and published by Mother Jones in 2018. Read this article in full. Pogue describes ECOT’s founder William Lager as a “washed-up lobbbyisr” with big dream
Massachusetts: The Challenges of Reopening Schools
The Boston Globe reports on the questions that public officials are trying to resolve in Massachusetts: State and city school officials haven’t made a firm commitment yet as to when Massachusetts public schools might reopen for a number of good reasons. Before they can welcome a million students back to their classrooms, administrators must resolve a seemingly endless series of hard questions. Ho

MAY 26

Washington Post: Joe Scarborough Did Not Murder His Staffer
Trump has repeatedly tweeted that MSNBC talk show host Joe Scarborough murdered a young woman in his Florida office when he was a member of Congress. Scarborough used to be a Republican, but has become an outspoken critic of Trump. Amber Phillips wrote in the Washington Post : This is a conspiracy theory that normally would not make it into this newsletter, were it not for President Trump allegin
NYCLU Wins a Victory for Black and Latinx Parents in East Ramapo, New York
The NYCLU just won a civil rights case in East Ramapo, New York, where all school board elections were at-large, guaranteeing that every member of the school board was elected by the tightly organized Orthodox Jewish community, whose children do not attend the public schools. EAST RAMAPO – A federal court today ruled that the East Ramapo Central School District’s at-large method for school board
My Zoom Talk to the Rutgers Conference on Education and Social Justice
A few days ago, I had a Zoom meeting with educators at Rutgers University, where I was invited to talk about education and social justice. Of course we talked about the pandemic and what happens next. But the theme of the day was equity. I hope you enjoy it.
An Open Letter to Joe Biden
More than 200 advocates of public education endorsed this open letter to Joe Biden, which was published on Valerie Strauss’s blog “The Answer Sheet” at the Washington Post. They call on presumptive Democratic nominee Biden to reject the stale and failed policies of the past 20 years. Their letter (our letter, since I signed it) begins with this preamble and then offers a list of specific proposal
Congressional Democrats Rebuke DeVos. She Ignores Them.
Democratic Congressional leaders wrote a stern letter to Betsy DeVos, rebuking her for turning coronavirus relief funds into cash for vouchers. They are acting in the belief that Congress decides how money is to be spent and defines who should receive federal funding. Betsy DeVos really doesn’t care what Congressional leaders say or do. She considers herself superior to Congress because she is a
G.F. Brandenburg: MAGA is a Fascist Movement
G.F. Brandenburg cites Jared Yates Sexton’s “American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the a World But Failed Its People.” I am not sure what part of the essay is Sexton and what part is Brandenburg. It almost doesn’t matter because the point is well made, that MAGA is a fascist movement. Trump’s many references to his genetic superiority, to “good blood,” “good bloodline” are unsubtle references to

MAY 25

My Interview on KFTK in St.Louis: Standardized Testing Must Go
I was recently interviewed by Dr. Randy Tobler on KFTK, a FOX news radio station in St. Louis. As I waited to go live, I heard an ad for Rush Limbaugh, whose show aired later that day. This was my second interview with Randy. His father was a public school teacher and principal. He served on his local school board. He and I hit it off. Here is the interview.
The Libertarian Plan to Privatize the Post Office
The CATO Institute believes everything should be privatized. It is funded by far-right billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes. In this post, Chris Edwards argues the libertarian view that the United States Postal Service should be privatized. In private hands, there would be fewer post offices and fewer employees and fewer mail deliveries. The union would be broken. Some towns and communities w
Calling Bill Gates! Calling Mark Zuckerberg! Calling Jeff Bezos!
People have many times asked me if I had some good ideas for the billionaires who have been foisting terrible ideas on our public schools. What could they do instead of screwing up the nation’s public schools? Like they have nothing better to do than to make students and teachers miserable with endless testing, pricey consultants, and mounds of paperwork. Like their best idea is to eliminate elec
Laura Chapman: Why Does the Center for American Progress Support the DeVos Agenda?
The Center for American Progress is identified by the mainstream media as a “liberal think tank” and as the think tank of the Democratic establishment. It protects the Obama legacy, including the toxic legacy of Arne Duncan’s failed Race to the Top. Billions were squandered for a program that was built on the foundation of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind. Twenty years have been wasted by in

MAY 24

Listen to My Podcast with “Ed’s Not Dead”
This is an enjoyable podcast where I chatted with three veteran Montgomery County, Maryland, educators. We talked about the pandemic, the Disrupters, and SLAYING GOLIATH. Their podcast is called “Ed’s Not Dead.” Listen in.
Smithsonian: What Can We Learn from the Pandemic of 1918?
What I learned from this article, among other things, is that the “Spanish flu,” which caused 50 million deaths around the world in 1918, did not start in Spain. The author argues that it actually started in Kansas and was brought to Europe by American troops who had come to make the world “safe for democracy.” And one other thing: the author, John M. Barry of Tulane, believes that Woodrow Wilson
NEPC Interview of the Month: Frank Adamson on Privatization Internationally
Chris Saldana of the National Education Policy Center interviewed Frank Adamson on privatization of education in an international context. If you have 30 minutes in your busy day, this is definitely worth listening to. BOULDER, CO (May 19, 2020) – In this month’s NEPC Education Interview of the Month, NEPC Researcher Christopher Saldaña interviews Frank Adamson, Assistant Professor of Education L
Nancy Bailey: Teachers Are the Superheroes of the Pandemic
Nancy Bailey reminds us that a decade ago, we were allegedly “Waiting for Superman” to save us, but that was a hoax because the film was propaganda for charter schools and privatization. Today, as our nation fights a deadly pandemic, we know that the genuine superheroes, the ones who protect our children, are teachers. Every state faces a budget shortfall because of the pandemic and its effect on
Our Friend Audrey Watters Suffered a Terrible Loss
In the midst of this awful time of isolation, our friend Audrey Watters lost her son Isaac. Audrey is a brilliant critic of the misuse of technology in our lives. Our hearts go out to her now, acknowledging her terrible loss.

MAY 23

Trump Regime May Conduct First Nuclear Test Since 1992
To distract from the pandemic, the Trump administration has decided to revive fears of nuclear war. A few days ago, it announced it would end an arms control agreement with Russia. Now it is hinting at conducting a nuclear bomb test, the first since 1992. The Trump administration has discussed whether to conduct the first U.S. nuclear test explosion since 1992 in a move that would have far-reachi
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 educators at five Alliance charter schools After a two-year legal battle, on Thursday, May 21, the Public Employm
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.
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

MAY 22

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