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Saturday, June 20, 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

“America” from the Cast of Hamilton
This is a wonderful song and dance performed by the cast of HAMILTON in 2016. There is a bonus: Lin-Manuel Miranda performing “Alexander Hamilton” at the Obama White House in 2015. It’s perfect for the moment.
Federal Judge Denies Trump-Barr Request to Block Publication of Bolton Book
A federal judge in D.C. denied the Trump administration effort to block publication of John Bolton’s book. The book will be officially published on Tuesday. The publisher has already shipped hundreds of thousands of copies. The judge said he would hold more hearings, to what purpose it is unclear. The main effect of the effort to squelch the book will be to sell more copies. Censorship usually ba
G.F. Brandenburg: The U.S. Has Surrendered to COVID-19
G.F. Brandenburg writes in this post about the apparent abandonment of the fight against the global pandemic. Trump has completely lost interest. No good headlines for him, so he has ignored the pandemic altogether. His attitude—and his stubborn refusal to wear a mask—signals that the danger is past. He has made clear that the stock market means more to him than death rates, so no more attention
Virginia Heffernan: Trump’s Rally is a Really Bad Idea
Virginia Heffernan is a regular columnist for the Los Angeles Times, where this article appeared. President Trump’s zeal for rally mode is rising almost as steeply as coronavirus cases in Tulsa, Okla., where his campaign plans to hold a little get-together on Saturday. The weather in Tulsa is expected to be muggy and nearly 90 degrees, with a high chance of thunder and lightning. You don’t say. “
John Thompson, retired teacher and historian in Oklahoma, is keeping a close watch on the Trump rally and its risks to public health. He reports from the front lines of a city that’s about to dare COVID-19 to show its stuff at tonight’s indoor rally for 19,000 people. You can be sure that Trump will nTrump will notwear a mask. Not wearing a mask in the midst of a global pandemic is the mark of….a brave mach


Breaking News: U.S. Attorney Fired By Barr and Trump Refuses to Step Down
Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York—the most prestigious federal prosecutor in the nation other than the U.S. Attorney General—has announced that he refuses to step aside until the Senate confirms his replacement. CNN reported: Washington (CNN)Geoffrey Berman, the powerful US attorney for the Southern District of New York who has investigated a number of assoc
Trump Fires U.S. Attorney Who Investigated His Associates Too Aggressively
Late on Friday, Attorney General William Barr fired Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, whose aggressive investigations into the Trump orbit had annoyed Trump. When politicians want to do dirty deeds, they do it late on Friday, when the press is not watching closely. Trump usually fires independent Inspectors General late on Fridays. The New York Times reports: T
Paycheck Over $1,500? Make These 6 Moves ASAP
It's important to make these moves before payday.
Trump Rally in Tulsa Will Proceed, Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules
The Oklahoma Supreme Court just rejected a n effort to block the rally that Trump will hold tomorrow for 19,000 people in Tulsa. The court said that the state’s June 1 reopening plan allowed business owners to use discretion over social distancing measures, and they were not mandatory as the plaintiffs had asserted. Paul Waldman of the Washington Post expresses the reasons that Trump’s return to
A Response to Diana Senechal Regarding Robert Pondiscio
Alex Zimmerman wrote an article about Black teachers at Success Academy charter schools questioning what some regarded as racist treatment of children and parents at the charters. After reviewing their complaints, Zimmerman asked Robert Pondiscio his view of the controversy. Pondiscio wrote a book about the chain after spending a year observing it. You can read the article here. I summarized the
Harvard Drops SAT for New Class of 2021, More Will Follow
Harvard University has dropped the SAT as a Condition of admission for the new class entering in fall 2021. The Boston Globe reports: In a pivotal decision that will likely ripple across higher education, Harvard University announced on Monday that it will not require next year’s undergraduate applicants to submit standardized test scores. The decision comes amid fallout from the COVID-19 pandemi
Newsweek: Betsy DeVos Steals from the Poor and Gives to the Rich
Readers of this blog know that Betsy DeVos decoded, against federal law and precedent, that CARES coronavirus funding should be divided among all students, rich, middle-income, and poor. She stuck to this decision even after her fellow Republican, Senator Lamar Alexander, pointed out that the money was for the neediest students, not all students. Betsy ignored him. It’s heartening to see that New
Educators of Color and Education Scholars of Color Speak Out Against Failed Billionaire-Backed “Reforms”
Over 600 educators of color and education scholars of color have signed a statement opposing failed billionaire-backed “reforms” intended to privatize public schools and deprofessionalize teaching. The statement was drafted by Kevin Kumashiro and can be found on his website , along with the list of those who signed it. People continue to sign on to demonstrate to the public that their rightwing c
Ohio: Private School Enrollment Drops by 14% But Public Funding Grows
Steven Dyer writes here of a seeming paradox: Enrollment in Ohio’s private schools has dropped by 14% since 2008 but its funding has increased by 135% over the same period. No paradox but a demonstration of the power of the lobbyists for private schools, who have drained money away from the state’s public schools. He begins: If you ever wondered what power looks like, I give you Ohio’s private sc
Stop Honoring Confederate Heroes
Today is Juneteenth, a day that marks the end of slavery. Juneteenth is the day in 1865 when black people in Texas finally got the news that slavery had been abolished. There is currently a movement to make Juneteenth a national holiday . Many large corporations already recognize its importance. Now, as the nation is rocked by demonstrations and protests against racism, is a good time to stop hon

JUN 18

Leonie Haimson: NYC DOE Finds $6 Million for Pearson
Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, reports that the NYC Department of Education plans to award $6 million to testing giant Pearson, despite the pandemic and looming budget cuts. She notes: Of that six million dollars, $1.7 million is for a one -year extension of Pearson’s controversial assessment to test four-year-old children for their “giftedness” – a standardized exam wh
G. F. Brandenburg: How Did the Swedish Experiment Turn Out?
Sweden decided not to close down its economy. It took a bet that its population would quickly develop “herd immunity,” so it allowed life to proceed without restricting gatherings or requiring quarantines and social distancing. In other words, the Swedes acted from the start as many governors are acting now. Don’t worry about the pandemic. Life goes on as usual. G.F. Brandenburg reports on how th
Staff at Success Academy Complain about Eva Moskowitz’s Insensitivity to Racism
A teacher at the acclaimed Success Academy charter chain in New York City publicly complained about Eva Moskowitz’s silence after the murder of George Floyd. Alex Zimmerman of Chalkbeat reported: Four days after the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, a Brooklyn Success Academy teacher emailed her network’s CEO, one of the nation’s most prominent charter school leaders, asking why
BREAKING NEWS: US Supreme Court Rules in Favor of DACA!
Led by Chief Justice John Roberts, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of DACA, against the wishes of the Trump administration. Justice Roberts has become a wild card on the Court. He was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005 and is considered a conservative, but has voted with the liberal bloc on several important decisions, including this one. Protecting the “Dreamers” has been a priori
Mercedes Schneider: As New Superintendent Takes Over, TFA Executives Head for the Exits
Thanks to the reporting of Mercedes Schneider, we have followed the travails of that state over several years of “reform” leadership: Republican Governor Jindal pushed charters and vouchers. Out-of-State money elected a pro-Jindal Board. That board selected John White as state superintendent. White was TFA and Broadies. He had worked for Joel Klein, then briefly ran the New Orleans Recovery Schoo
In the Public Interest: Charter Schools in Oakland Are Tapping into Coronavirus Relief Funds
The nonprofit, nonpartisan “In the Public Interest” joined forces with Parents United for Public Schools in Oakland to investigate whether charter schools in that city were double-dipping, taking public school money and also taking federal funds intended for small businesses. Their conclusion: Oakland charters have collected close to $19 million that was intended for small businesses. Their joint

JUN 17

Dana Milbank: How a Very Stable Genius Will End the Pandemic
Dana Milbank has become my favorite columnist. I hope you can open this column from the Washington Post, because he has added links to everything, too many for me to copy by hand. Since the Washington Post, like the New York Times, is making coverage of the pandemic open access, you might be able to open it. The title: “This Cure for the Pandemic Is the Work of a Very Stable Genius.” Forget vacci
DeVos Allows Charters to Tap into Federal $$ for Start Ups
In 1994, the Clinton administration allocated $6 million to help start charter schools, a brand-new idea that had no track record and looked promising. That money was intended for teacher-led innovative schools or mom-and-pop start ups. The federal Charter Schools Program has since grown into an annual pot of $440 million, which mostly goes to corporate charter chains like IDEA and KIPP, which ar
National Education Policy Center Interview of the Month: Yours Truly
This is a really fun interview with Chris Saldana of NEPC, in which we talk about the important education issues of our time. I think you will enjoy it. Tuesday, June 16, 2020 Publication Announcement NEPC’s June Education Interview of the Month: Teacher Strikes, Philanthropy, and Public Education KEY TAKEAWAY: NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-tim
Billionaire Reed Hastings Plans Luxury Resort to Train Teachers to Think Like Him
VOX reports on billionaire Reed Hastings’ grandiose plans to build a fabulous resort in Colorado for teachers, where they will learn to love charter schools, high-stakes testing, test-based accountability for teachers, and other failed reform strategies. Hastings has $5 billion and he doesn’t seem to know what to do with it, even though California has many people who are homeless and many hotbeds
Texas: IDEA Charter Chain Promises to Curb Its Big Spending
The IDEA charter chain has ambitious plans to expand, with the help of more than $200 million from Betsy DeVos’s charter slush fund (also known as the federal Charter Schools Program, which was created to help start-ups, not to expand corporate empires). The IDEA profile is a business model, not a public school model. It pushes into new markets aggressively and spends lavishly on executive perks,

JUN 16

Politico: Pence Changes His Tune about the Pandemic
Politico wrote today about Mike Pence’s new stance on the coronavirus pandemic. Pence pretended to be thoughtful while he was head of the coronavirus task force. Now that the task force seems to have disappeared, he is free to echo Trump without any pretense of balance or thoughtfulness. VEEP IN THOUGHT — Since February there has been a rift inside the White House between the scientists and the p
Robert Shepherd Transcribed Trump’s Remarks on School Choice, with Commentary
Donald Trump spoke today, presumably in response to massive demonstrations across the country against racism and police brutality. Someone decided this would be a good time to make a pitch for school choice. Robert Shepherd, author and editor, transcribed Trump’s remarks and added his own commentary. Here, in his typical toddler English, our part-time president in the orange clown makeup, IQ45, s
No, School Choice is NOT “the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time”
In his speech about reforming policing, Trump veered off into a bizarre claim that school choice is the “civil rights issue of our time.” See the video here. At a time when hundreds of thousands of people are demonstrating for social and economic justice and against police brutality and racism, it is odd to hear Trump veer off into school choice as the solution for the evils that stain our societ
Andrea Gabor Asks for Your Help to Elect a Texan
Andrea Gabor is a friend and a wise writer about education. She sent the following appeal: Dear Friends, First and foremost, I hope this note finds you safe and healthy. As many of you know, I was supposed to lead another student, political-reporting trip this spring, this time to the Texas border; Covid19 foiled our travel plans and, instead, my students produced a fabulous pack of articles on l
Peter Greene: How to Replace Distance Learning with Genuine Personalized Learning
Peter Greene knows, as do we, that the tech industry has stolen and misused the term “personalized learning,” which to them means a student in front of a computer that holds his or her data. In this post, he reimagines a future of genuine personalized learning, in which there are small classes and one to one instruction. But what if we reclaimed the term “personalized education”? What if we decid
Pawan Dhingra on “Hyper Education” and Its Consequences
I recently read Pawan Dhingra’s new book Hyper Education, which explores the competitiveness that some parents feel about their children’s schooling and their fear that their children might be “falling behind.” This pressure, as many here have noted, makes children feel stressed out and deprives them of imaginative and creative activities. I invited Professor Dhingra to write a précis of his book
FairTest: More Than Half of Nation’s Universities Drop Entry Tests for 2021
FairTest has been battling the abuse, misuse, and overuse of standardized testing since the early 1970s. It took a global pandemic to demonstrate that students applying to college need not take a standardized test for admission. How will colleges decide whom to admit? They will figure it out. Just watch. Many colleges and universities went test-optional years ago and managed to choose their first

JUN 15

We Are No. 1! In New Coronavirus Infections
Thanks to a complete absence of national leadership in the United States, the coronavirus is spreading. Other countries have shut it down. Not us! We are free to get diseased! Dana Milbank writes here about what happens when a nation has leadership and what happens when it does not. How nice it would be to be in Tokyo today. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government moved to its last stage of reopening o
FDA Drops Trump’s Favorite Drug, Hydroxychloroquine
Politico reports that the Federal Drug Administration has withdrawn authorization for emergency use of a drugs repeatedly endorsed by Trump. Based on various trials, the FDA concluded that the drug is not effective at preventing the coronavirus nor is it effective as a treatment for the virus. Trump recently claimed that he was taking the drug himself. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she worried
Shocker! Supreme Court Supports Rights of LGBT Workers
In a stunning surprise, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that LGBT workers are protected by the Civil Rights Act. In the biggest surprise, the decision was 6-3 and was written by Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch. What a nice surprise for Pride Month! Adam Liptak of the New York Times wrote: The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace
New York Times Exposes Charter Schools for Collecting Aid Meant for Small Bisinesses
Erica L. Green of the New York Times wrote a detailed expose of charter schools , some with the backing of billionaire donors like Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, that have sought and received federal coronavirus aid intended for small businesses. Thus, they collect funding as “public schools,” yet collect federal aid as small businesses. Peer-reviewed studies have shown that charter schools, a
Yale Drops SAT Requirement for Class Entering in 2021
Bad news for the College Board, which owns the SAT. Yale University is going test-optional for the class entering in fall 2021. Today Yale became the fifth Ivy League school to adopt a test-optional policy for the class of undergraduates who will be applying for admission in the fall of 2021. It joins Cornell, Columbia, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania who have also announced they wou
John Thompson on Trump’s Big Rally in Tulsa
John Thompson is a retired teacher and historian in Oklahoma. He writes here about the resumption of Trump’s big political rallies, beginning in Tulsa. The attendees will have to sign a waiver releasing the campaign of any liability if they fall sick with COVID. Will Trump promote the disease amongst his enthusiastic base? He won’t wear a mask. To show their macho, his followers will copy him, in
Little Rock: Peaceful Protestors Shut Down Four Walmarts
For many years, the Walton family has owned the state of Arkansas. Their collective wealth exceeds $150 billion, yet Arkansas is one of the poorest states in the nation. All that money, and very little has trickled down. Perhaps you have seen the ads on national television about how much Walmart cares about its neighbors. The people of Little Rock know better. Veteran journalist Cathy Frye report

JUN 14

Twitter Goes Atwitter About Trump’s Health
Twitter is alive with tweets about Trump’s health, pointing to a video showing him walking very slowly and unsteadily down a ramp after he addressed graduates at West Point, accompanied by an officer. Another clip from his speech showed him taking a drink of water during his speech and using both hands to steady his grip. These clips produced the hashtag #TrumpIsNotWell, and many clips of Obama b
Please Listen to This Hilarious Short Story
Christine Baranski, the gifted actress who has appeared in many films (including “Mama Mia”), reads a very, very funny short story by Thomas Mehran before a live audience In New York City B.P. (BeforePandemic). I almost cried with laughter. Enjoy! Thomas Mehan’s utterly hilarious short story “Yma Dream” is one of our perennial favorites to listen to–especially in the hands of the incredible Chris
Frank Splitt Reviews SLAYING GOLIATH
Frank Splitt is a retired electrical engineer with a distinguished resume and wide-ranging interests, including education. A friend gave him the hostile review of SLAYING GOLIATH that appeared in The New York Times. He decided to read the book and reach his own judgment. He wrote the following review for Amazon: An Educational Whodunit with a Happy Ending For anyone still wondering about what hap
Sam Wineburg and Nadav Ziv: Do Not Trust the .org Domain
Sam Wineburg, an education professor at Stanford, and Nadav Ziv, his student, delved into the .org domain and explain here why it is deceptive. Readers assume that .org implies a trustworthy site. It does not. They write: Dot-org symbolizes neither quality nor trustworthiness. It’s a marketing tool that relies on a widespread but false association with credibility….The dot-org domain is controlle
Mercedes Schneider: TFA Will Send Green Teachers into the Classroom with No Teaching Experience
Mercedes Schneider, a veteran high school teacher in Louisiana with a Ph.D. in research and statistics, was stunned to learn that Teach for America teachers—recent college Gradiates—will begin teaching with no actual teaching experience. In this time of school closures and social distancing, teacher temp agency, Teach for America (TFA), has decided to “train” its 2020 corps members online. As for

JUN 13

A Beautiful Story of a Righteous Man in a POW Camp
A friend shared this 15-minute video with me. It is the story of a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army who was captured with his men in World War II. Their captors wanted to separate the Jewish troops, but this brave man would not let it happen. We are reminded of the goodness and courage that exists in the world. We need that reminder now.
New Book: Melania Renegotiated Her Prenuptial Deal
Washington Post reporter Mary Jordan just published a new book about Melania and how she outsmarted The Donald. When Melania Trump stayed behind in New York after her husband’s presidential inauguration, she said it was because she didn’t want to interrupt their then-10-year-old son Barron’s school year. News stories at the time concentrated on an apparent frostiness between the first couple and
Wendy Lecker: Combatting Racism—on the Streets and in School
Wendy Lecker is a civil rights lawyer who writes frequently for the Stamford (CT) Advocate, where this article appeared. The brutal police killing of yet another unarmed African-American man, Minneapolis’ George Floyd, preceded by the midnight police killing of EMT Breonna Taylor in her home in Louisville, and followed by the police killing of Louisville restaurant owner David McAtee, reinforce t
School Funding in the COVID-19 Era
The coronavirus has caused incalculable harm to millions of people. Two million people have been infected. More than 100,000 have died. The death toll increases daily. The scientific response to the pandemic—close down the 
Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all