Saturday, May 9, 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

Denis Smith: Is Andrew Brenner the Dumbest Politician in Ohio?
Perhaps you have never heard of State Senator Andrew Brenner. Read Denis Smith’s recent post about Brenner, and you will learn about an elected official who is “radioactive,” “disingenuous,” tone-deaf, and possibly the dumbest elected official in Ohio. While chairing the education committee, he described public education as “socialist.” But that’s only a small part of his infamy. Smith writes: Ye
Washington Post: 34 Days of Indecision, Panic, Confusion, Politics–Inside the White House
A team of reporters from the Washington Post interviewed 82 sources, including administration officials, advisors, and outside experts to tell the story of what happened inside the White House during a crucial period in responding to the pandemic. Trump was indecisive, he vacillated, he consistently put politics over science. He was more willing to listen to FOX News hosts and political advisors
Seattle: Beware Coronavirus Capitalism!
Dora Taylor, parent activist in Seattle, warns of the dangers of coronavirus capitalism. She notes that some elected boards have granted unusual powers to their superintendents to make contracts. Seattle’s superintendent, she says, has signed some doozies. It is especially sad to see Seattle in this trouble, as the parents and educators there have been unusually vigilant in protecting their publi
Naomi Klein: Beware the Tech Billionaires and Their “Pandemic Shock Doctrine”
Naomi Klein coined the iconic book Shock Doctrine, about the way that the powerful elites use emergencies to expand their power because of the crisis. New Orleans was one of her prime examples of “disaster capitalism,” where 

Excellent Source of Information about Spread of COVID-19: Worldometer

This is a valuable source of information a bout the occurrence and consequences of the coronavirus and governments’ response to it. It is called Worldometers. It provides excellent graphs about the spread and intensity of the virus. Most interesting to me are the country figures (their accuracy depends on reporting, and I suspect some nations may undercount occurrences and fatality rates). Consid
Dana Milbank: Our “Wartime” President Declares Victory After Two Months and Gives Up

During the Vietnam War, some critics used to say, “Why don’t we just declare victory and go home.” That’s what Trump is doing after declaring himself a “wartime president.” Two months of battle was enough for him. Dana Milbank writes that the United States has decided to abandon the war on COVID-19. Now is the spring of our disgrace. Around the world, countries are winning the battle against the
Arthur Camins: We Need a Government Accountable to the American People!

Arthur Camins writes here about the disastrous consequences of governmental incompetence and failed leadership. We need a government that is accountable to the people, one that protects us from catastrophes like the present, one that looks forward and prepares. What we have instead is indifference and incompetence at the highest levels. Recently Trump mused aloud about the value of ingesting pois
A Rap About Betsy DeVos: RESIGN BETSY

Watch this video by Jeff Grossi, a high school math teacher in Buffalo, who loves rap music. His rapping name is MC ZiLL.
Karen Tumulty: Spare Us All from Jared Kushner

As we all know, Jared Kushner is Trump’s son-in-law. He is also a boy-wonder. At the start of the administration, he was tasked with find a solution to the Middle East impasse; so far, nothing. He was also supposed to reorganize the entire federal government; so far, nothing. He was in charge also of building the wall that Mexico would pay for; the Wall is moving forward, but smugglers have sawed
Michigan: District Votes to Turn Alternative School into Virtual School

Maybe this won’t seem like a big deal to you, but it’s a portent of the future. It’s not a lot of students or teachers, but it signifies what’s coming down the pike. A small alternative school in Avondale, Michigan, is going to be converted to a full-time virtual school. All seven teachers will be replaced. The district pretends that the decision was for the sake of the students, but in reality,
Doyle and Hynes: We Welcome Bill Gates to New York if He Agrees to Three Conditions

Author William Doyle and Superintendent Michael Hynes—both known for supporting whole-child education—- say that they would welcome Bill Gates to New York if he agrees to meet three conditions. They suggest that Gates has a chance to redeem his reputation after 20 years of failure in education. They write: The Gates Foundation has been a driving force behind nearly 20 years of consistently failed

MAY 07

Remember the Tradition of Bipartisanship in National Crisis? Trump Doesn’t

Veteran journalist Mark Liebovich notes in this opinion article In the New York Times how Trump has ditched the long-time tradition of bipartisan unity in the face of national crisis. There used to be a tradition that politics stops at the water’s edge, meaning a bipartisan foreign policy. That’s gone. In the aftermath of 9/11, politics was replaced by shared mourning. Liebovich notes the failure
Nancy Bailey: How Betsy DeVos Fostered Squalid Learning Conditions in Detroit

Nancy Bailey just keeps getting better and better as she points her pen and her blog at malfeasance in education. In this post, she points to the recent landmark decision that recognized that the children of Detroit have a right to literacy, a right not previously acknowledged by any court (or overturned on appeal). The court quite correctly decided that young people cannot exercise their rights
Arthur Goldstein: Andrew Cuomo is a Cynical Liar

Arthur Goldstein is a New York City high school teacher. He is currently teaching by distance learning. He noted that Governor Cuomo wants to work with Bill Gates to make distance learning a major feature in the public schools, and Goldstein is outraged. He writes: It doesn’t take a genius to know that remote learning is a pale echo of the real thing. I’ve been trying to reach my kids for six wee
Daniel Katz: What Cuomo Really Said About Reinventing Schools

Daniel Katz sets Governor Cuomo’s pursuit of “reinventing schools” in perspective. He invited Bill Gates to reimagine schools in post-pandemic New York because he shares Gates’ oft-expressed view that schools are obsolete (a view shared by Betsy DeVos). Forget the fact that most parents and students are dismayed, bored and frustrated by distance learning. When you call in a tech guy to hsndle you
New York: Cuomo’s Pathetic Attempt to Pretend He is Not Really Asking Bill Gates to Reinvent Education

When Governor Cuomo got the blowback from parents and educators who were outraged at the idea that he invited Bill Gates (and now Eric Schmidt of Google) to “reinvent” education in the state, he pretended he didn’t say it. He (or someone on his staff) wrote a message yesterday on his Facebook page: “Teachers are heroes & nothing could ever replace in-person learning — COVID has reinforced that. T

MAY 06

What George Conway Wrote About Trump, the Loser-in-Chief

Since the Washington Post is behind a paywall, and since I teased you with Teacher Ken’s brief summary, I thought I would share what Mr. Conway wrote. It was scathing. No matter how low your opinion is of the man who sits in the White House, his is even lower. He sees Trump as the loser and phony that he is. The bottom line is that Trump doesn’t care how many people die. He only cares about himse
Teacher Ken Calls Attention to George Conway’s Latest Blast at Don the Con

Teacher Ken (aka Kenneth Bernstein) writes here about George T. Conway’s latest article ripping his wife’s employer, aka Donald J. Trump. Some strange arrangement here where Mr. Conway rips Trump to shreds, while his wife Kellyanne supports her boss. Wouldn’t it be interesting to be a fly on the wall at the Conway dinner table?
Rep. DeLauro Denounces DeVos Rule to Water Down Protection for Rape Victims

Predictably, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took a stand against the victims of sexual violence, and did it while the world was distracted by the pandemic. Count on her to identify with predatory lenders, for-profit colleges, and anyone who exploits students. Rep. Rosa DeLauro called out DeVos’s latest regulatory guidance that affects rape victims. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 6, 2020 CONTACT: W
Tell Governor Cuomo and Bill Gates: Hands Off Our Public Schools!

Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked billionaire Bill Gates to “reimagine” New York’s schools. We have had more than enough of Bill Gates’ ideas in New York. Remember the infamous inBloom, which was meant to collect personally identifiable student data and store it in a “cloud”? Thanks to parent protests, inBloom collapsed. Remember the rollout of the Common Core standards and testing, which launched
NY: Cuomo Adds Another Billionaire To His Team to “Reimagine” Education Post-Pandemic

Governor Andrew Cuomo just announced that he has tapped a second billionaires to “reinvent” education in New York state after the pandemic. According to the New York Post , Cuomo sees distance learning as “the wave of the future,” so who better to enlist as his advisers than Bill Gates and now Eric Schmidt of Google. Reporter Rebecca C. Lewis of “City and State” just tweeted this report: Cuomo ha
Take a Tour of the Luscious Cherry Blossom Trees in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Right now, the cherry blossoms are at their peak . Usually, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens would have large crowds of people, who want to see this wonderful explosion of color. Now the gardens are empty. But open the link and enjoy the splendor.
Bill Becker: What Is Joe Biden’s Vision for Climate Change and Energy?

Bill Becker worked for two decades in the U.S. Department of Energy. Bill is the executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. I had the good fortune to meet him at a conference at Oberlin College a year or so ago. I have been on the mailing list for his blog ever since. He wrote: Wanted: A Vision for America By William S. Becker Joe Biden has just released an updated clean-energ
Shawgi Tell: Charter Entrepreneurs Cash in on Public Funding During Pandemic

Shawgi Tell, professor at Nazareth College in New York, describes the multiple ways in which corporate charter chains are cashing in during the pandemic. He begins: While private businesses like non-profit and for-profit charter schools have been seizing enormous sums of public money for decades,1 they continue to seize hundreds of millions of public dollars during the “COVID Pandemic”—a move tha
A Brief History of Anti-Government Rhetoric

Donald Cohen of the nonpartisan “In the Public Interest” has assembled a brief history of anti-government rhetoric. He has assembled quotations from the anti-government crowd. It is only 12 pages and a quick, enlightening read. It is called The Anti-Government Echo Chamber . Here is the introduction on the ITPI website: “They play to your fear, government plays to your fear.” “Will you resist the
Steven Singer: Save Our Schools from the Biggest Budget Cuts in History

Steven Singer warns that public schools are facing deep cuts in state funding due to revenue losses caused by the pandemic. Hey, it’s Teacher Appreciation Week, just the time to start mobilizing against cuts that could cause the layoff of nearly 300,000 teachers. That means larger class sizes, fewer electives, cuts to the arts, to everything that is not tested. Don’t expect Trump to stand up for
How New Zealand Effectively Eliminated Coronavirus

An article in the National Geographic describes how New Zealand effectively eliminated coronavirus. New Zealand has had a small number of infections and fewer than two dozen deaths. Travel journalist Aaron Gulley was in New Zealand when the pandemic was recognized. He writes: If there is a bright spot in the global response to the pandemic, it is surely New Zealand. While governments worldwide ha

MAY 05

New Evidence That Children Transmit the Virus

The New York Times reported two studies that found that children transmit the virus. Among the most important unanswered questions about Covid-19 is this: What role do children play in keeping the pandemic going? Fewer children seem to get infected by the coronavirus than adults, and most of those who do have mild symptoms, if any. But do they pass the virus on to adults and continue the chain of
New York: Parent Groups Denounce Cuomo Outreach to Gates

Well, that was fast! Only minutes after news broke that Governor Cuomo had asked Bill Gates and his foundation to help “reimagine” education in New York, parent groups responded with a loud NO! Don’t mess with New York parents! Remember, they started the biggest opt-out from state testing in history. Here is their public letter: May 5, 2020 To Governor Cuomo: As educators, parents and school boar
Trump and Conway Have a Slugfest on Twitter

If you are ready for a hilarious read, read this. Kellyanne Conway’s husband George is a conservative lawyer. He despises Trump. He is now leading an anti-Trump group of prominent Republicans called the Lincoln Project. They recently aired an ad called “Mourning in America,” on FOX News. Trump saw it and went crazy. He began tweeting insults at George Conway, who fielded them with grace and wit,
Nightmare Vision for New York Schools Post-Pandemic

Governor Andrew Cuomo announces that he is working with Bill Gates to re-imagine education in New York after the pandemic. @ ZackFinkNews .@NYGovCuomo says New York State will be working with @gatesfoundation to develop a blueprint to “reimagine education” in New York State in post-COVID19 world. Obviously Cuomo knows that Gates is one of the richest men in the world. Obviously he does not know t
Washington Post: Trump Blocks All Oversight by Congress

James Hohmann of the Washington Post summarizes Trump’s calculated effort to destroy all oversight of his administration, including firing independent Inspectors General and refusing to send anyone to testify in hearings conducted by the House of Representatives. He believes he rules by divine right. He has all the makings of a fascist dictator. Do not be surprised if he cancels the November elec
“The Economist” Says Schools Should Reopen Immediately

The Economist is an influential publication based in London. It writes, as its name suggests, about world economic affairs. In its current issue, the publication makes the case that the schools must quickly reopen in order to restart the economy. The Economist contends governments across the world should open schools as soon as possible. It argues that so long as schools are closed, the achieveme
Mercedes Schneider: Why is Eva Moskowitz Laying Off Staff While Hiring New Staff?

Mercedes Schneider describes a great puzzle at Eva Moskowitz’s celebrated Success Academy charter chain. Moskowitz laid off staff, allegedly because of state budget cuts, which cost her chain $60 million. At the same time, she is hiring new staff. And the chain has $60 million in reserves. And if it is austerity time, why didn’t Eva cut her own compensation of $889,000 a year? You know, as a gest
Study: Watching Sean Hannity Contributed to Spread of Coronavirus

A new study reported in VOX contends that viewers of the Sean Hannity program on FOX News were likely to spread the coronavirus because of his assurances that it was not dangerous. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, media critics have warned that the decision from leading Fox News hosts to downplay the outbreak could cost lives. A new study provides statistical evidence that, in the case of Sea
Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren: There’s No Oversight of Coronavirus Relief–Because That’s What Trump Wants

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote this opinion piece, which appeared in McClatchy newspapers across the country, including the Miami Herald. Please open the link and read it in full. Biden and Warren write: Relief legislation passed by Congress provides critical support for hospitals, families, small businesses and local governments — efforts that will sa

MAY 04

Tennessee: Details About the Ruling Against Vouchers

Media Contacts: Ashley Levett, SPLC, / 334-296-0084 Sharon Krengel, ELC, / 973-624-1815, x24 Lindsay Kee, ACLU-TN, / 615-320-7142 Christopher Wood, Robbins Geller, / 615- 244-2203 Judge Strikes Down Tennessee School Voucher Law NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Public school children in Tennessee won today when Dav
BREAKING NEWS: Tennessee Judge Declares Voucher Law Unconstitutional

The Education Law Center, a legal group that litigates on behalf of civil rights, just tweeted this: @EdLawCenter: Breaking: Judge declares Tennessee voucher law unconstitutional, enjoins State from implementing program @pfpsorg @splcenter The tweet was copied by ELC to Public Funds Public Schools and the Southern Poverty Law Center. As soon as I learn more about this decision, I will post it.
Justin Trudeau Bans All Military-Grade Weapons in Canada

After a massacre that took 22 lives, Justin Trudeau announced a complete b an on all military-grade weapons in Canada. Assault-style weapons are banned in Canada effective immediately, the country’s prime minister said Friday. The move comes less than two weeks after Canada’s deadliest rampage in modern history, when a gunman in Nova Scotia killed 22 people after a 12-hour reign of terror. “You d
Denis Smith: The Mystery of the Memorial to Governor Rhodes

Denis Smith wrote the following, to commemorate a date that is notorious to those of us who recall the Kent State Massacre, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed college student protesters: May 4, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of the deaths of four students at Kent State University. The shootings by a contingent of the Ohio National Guard, which were ordered into the city by Ohio
Valerie Jablow: Why Does D.C. Government Give Away Public Property?

Valerie Jablow, parent activist in the District of Columbia, posts often about the D.C. government and its passion for giving away public property. In this post , she questions what happened to the playing field of a Duke Ellington High School of the Arts. Some time in February, Ellington Field–the field that belonged for most of a century by court order to DCPS’s Duke Ellington High School of th
John Ewing: We Should Listen to the Real Education Experts: Teachers

John Ewing, a mathematician and president of Math for America, wrote in Forbes about a conference he recently attended about education. He noticed that none of the experts at the conference were teachers. When he asked the conference leader, his question was dismissed. He remembered that Mike Rose had done a check of articles in the “New Yorker.” Most of the articles about medicine were written b
Texas: Parent Complains to State Superintendent About Approval of Unwanted Charter School

Dr. Theresa Trevino, a public school parent in Austin, wrote to Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath to complain about the insertion of a BASIS charter school into a community where the school is neither wanted nor needed. BASIS is owned by a couple who pay themselves $10 million a year. Their charter schools require students to pass multiple AP exams, which effectively winnows out low-per
Social Justice Catholics Speak Out Against Cardinal Dolan’s Support for Trump

I thank reader Catherine King for pointing out this protest by social justice Catholics against New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s pledge of support for Donald Trump. The letter they signed can be found here. The strong tradition of social justice within the Roman Catholic faith is at odds with Trump’s craven disregard for human life and human dignity, with his racism and xenophobia, with his pref

MAY 03

Seven Northeastern States Form Consortium to Buy PPE

In the complete absence of federal leadership, governors have been required to make do and find medical equipment and supplies on their own during the national emergency. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that seven states would form a regional consortium to ensure that they were ready for any future emergency with a 90-day supply of personal protective equipment. LONG ISLAND, NY — On Sund
New York City: Don’t Cut the Budget of Our Public Schools!

Parents in New York City are pleading with Mayor DeBlasio NOT to cut the budget of the public schools. Please add your name to their petition to Corey Johnson, Speaker of the City Council. All – Please help NYC public school students by signing and circulating this petition directed to Corey Johnson, Speaker of City Council, to stop Mayor DeBlasio’s proposed 827 million dollar budget cut to NYC p
Stephanie Jones: Which Part of the Pandemic is a Real Crisis?

In this excellent article, Stephanie Jones, Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Georgia, draws a contrast between a real crisis–the pandemic–and the scare rhetoric of children “falling behind” in some mythical race. The only beneficiaries of the fake crisis are the testing corporations. Jones writes: Some crises are real and extremely difficult to prevent and respond to, like a
Peter Greene: Catholic Leaders Make a Deal with Trump

Peter Greene reports here on a conference call that Catholic leaders held with the execrable Trump. He promised them unparalleled financial support for Catholic schools, and they promised their support to the man who separates families and puts children in cages. It was a nasty, revolting transaction. Greene links to the National Catholic Education Reporter, which says that the transaction was re
California: Charter Leaders Charged with Breaking Securities Law; No Criminal Charges

As the old saying goes, better to steal a million dollars than to steal a loaf of bread. The former is smart thinking, the latter is a crime. In Livermore, California, the leaders of a charter chain were charged with securities fraud. But they got off without any criminal charges or jail time. When you read this story, you realize what clever guys they were to figure out such a complex scheme. Yo
Elite Private Schools Collect Federal Aid, Including Barron Trump’s

Barron Trump’s elite private school collected federal coronavirus relief aid , as did several other private schools with multi-million dollar endowments. That includes the private school that Stephen Mnuchin’s children attend in Los Angeles. The elite Maryland private school attended by Donald Trump’s son Barron is collecting taxpayer stimulus aid — and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is demandi
Gary Rubinstein: What Percent of Success Academy’s Students Graduated?

Gary Rubinstein saw an article in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post claiming that 100% of the 98 students in the graduating class of Success Academy’s high school had been accepted into college. Based on Success Academy’s long history of high attrition, he knew this claim was likely false. So he checked and his hunch was right. He asked: Is 98 really all the students in the class of 2020? The answer

MAY 02

NPE Grassroots Education Network Invites You to Join!

The monthly newsletter of the Grassroots Education Network of the Network for Public Education is out! Connect with grassroots organizations fighting for public schools, their students, and their educators! Learn what they are doing in the newsletter. Together we will have to fight the budget cuts that are in the horizon. Let’s stand together and demand that the states and federal government inve
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 Patchogue-Medford school district on Long Island in New York. The article appears in Kappan

MAY 01

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 fa├žade 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 cl
Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all