Saturday, September 12, 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

Happy Birthday, H.L. Mencken!
Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac” notes the birthday of journalist-humorist-cynic H. L. Mencken. I always think of his reference to the “booboisee.” I would love to see him and Molly Ivins writing today, as our national politics have hit a nadir. It’s the birthday of German-American satirist, cultural critic, and journalist H.L. Mencken (1880) (books by this author), born Henry Louis Menc
John Merrow: Bob Woodward Had a Duty to Tell the Public Sooner about Trump’s Lies
Veteran journalist John Merrow poses the ethical dilemma of the journalist: if you see a child drowning, do you save the child or take a great photo? He says, you act as a citizen and save the child. Thus, he criticizes Bob Woodward for saving his tapes of Trump lying about the severity of COVID. Woodward saved them for his book, knowing that the book would make lots more money than an article th
Miami-Dade Schools Sever Ties with K12 Online Corp.
The Miami-Dade school board voted to sever ties with the notoriously awful for-profit K12 online corporation. K12 has long been known as a huge money-maker that produces bad education and high attrition rates. The Miami-Dade County School Board has voted unanimously to stop using My School Online, the district’s controversial new online learning platform many say is at the center of the failed st
David Gamberg: A New Vision is Needed Now for Education!
David Gamberg recently retired as superintendent of schools in two adjoining towns on New York’s Long Island—Southold and Greenport—where he was beloved for his child-centered approach to schooling. In this article, he calls for new thinking and the courage to break free of the obsession with standardized testing and punitive accountability. He announced his retirement in January, not knowing wha
Please sign up and join the discussion between Steve Suitts and me on Zoom on Wednesday September 16. We will be talking about Steve’s new book Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement. You will be amazed to learn of the true history of school choice. It the true history of school choice. It is definitely not the “civil rights issue of our time,” as Trump and DeVos claim. Steve has been involv


Arkansas: Public School Advocates Demand End to Failed Voucher Program
PUBLIC SCHOOL ADVOCATES URGE ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE TO END BROKEN VOUCHER PROGRAM In a letter sent to Arkansas legislative leaders last week, Public Funds Public Schools, along with other state and national organizations, urged the Arkansas General Assembly to end the state’s harmful and inequitable private school voucher program. The letter highlights alarming information revealed in the recently
Institute for Policy Studies: Reimagining School Safety
This valuable report analyzes how money could be better spent to protect students at school. It’s findings are stunning. We as a nation are spending vast sums on police in schools but insignificant amounts on mental health services and counselors who interact directly with students. KEY FINDINGS & OBSERVATIONS *Since 2018, states have allocated an additional $965 million to law enforcement in sch
Peter Greene: Will Biden Revive the Failed Obama Education “Reforms”?
Peter Greene assures is that Trump and DeVos are a disaster for education. We know that. No one could be worse. They want to blow up public schools. No question. But he’s worried that Biden will bring back the staffers from the Obama era of high-stakes testing, charter love, and Commin Core. In particular, he’s worried about Carmel Martin, a perennial favorite of Democratic neoliberals. My one en
Tom Ultican: School Choice is a Costly Fraud
Tom Ultican, retired teacher of physics and advanced mathematics in California, writes frequently about school “reform,” aka school choice, as a substitute for adequate funding. In this post , he explains the fraud of school choice and why billionaires and rightwing zealots promote it. To read it in full,as well as his kinks, open the full post. He begins: Birthed in the bowels of the 1950’s segr
Remembering 9/11
I was in New York City on 9/11/01. I lived about a mile from the World Trade Center, across the Brooklyn Bridge. I literally felt the impact when the first airplane his the first of the Twin Towers. I rushed to the waterfront and saw the second plane fly into the second tower. I was traumatized for months afterwards, maybe longer. I will never forget. Please pause and remember the nearly 3,000 so

SEP 10

Trump Lists 3 Rightwing Zealots on Short List for Supreme Court
In an effort to fire up his base, Trump identified three of the most extreme rightwing Senators as next in line for a Supreme Court appointment. One is Ted Cruz of Texas. During the 2016 campaign, Trump claimed that Ted Cruz was a key figure in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Apparently he told author Bob Woodward that he placed the story in the National Enquirer, even picked the
Happy Birthday, Mary Oliver!
A tribute posted in Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac”: It’s the birthday of the late poet Mary Oliver, born in Maple Heights, Ohio (1935). From the time she was young, she knew that writers didn’t make very much money, so she sat down and made a list of all the things in life she would never be able to have — a nice car, fancy clothes, and eating out at expensive restaurants were all on t
Paul Horton: What You Should Know About the History of the Confederacy
Paul Horton is a history teacher at the University of Chicago Lab School, one of the few private schools in the nation that has a teachers’ union. He has studied the history of the Confederacy, and he wrote four posts for Anthony Cody’s blog called Living in Dialogue. Anthony is a co-founder with me of the Network for Public Education. Here is Paul’s first article, “Historians and the ‘Lost Cause
Trump Threatens to Withdraw Federal Funds from Schools That Teach Anti-Racism Courses
Trump has been on a rant about teaching history, despite the fact that his own knowledge of American and world history is limited, possibly non-existent. He wants history to remain as it was taught in textbooks sixty years ago, when he was a student. This would be a white-centered, triumphal story of the American past, where the only blacks ever mentioned were George Washington Carver and (maybe)
Steven Singer: Why Does Trump Hate COVID Testing But Love Standardized Testing?
Steven Singer, teacher in Pennsylvania, cannot understand why Trump hates COVID testing–which is necessary–but loves standardized testing which is not. Consider that America became a great and powerful nation long before the reign of standardized testing. When people think about the “Greatest Generation,” they are remembering a generation that never took a standardized test that had any impact on
Nancy Bailey: Who Should Be the Next Secretary of Education?
Veteran educator Nancy Bailey has some very clear ideas about the next Secretary of Education. All her proposals are premised on Trump’s defeat, since billionaire Betsy DeVos would want to hang on and finish the job of destroying public schools and enriching religious and private schools. Let’s hope that the next Secretary of Education has the wisdom and vision to liberate children and teachers f

SEP 09

Dana Milbank: Trump’s Narcissism is Deadly
Dana Milbank is a regular contributor to the Washington Post, where this article appeared: It was a life-or-death decision, and President Trump chose . . . himself. To end the pandemic, there must be widespread vaccination among a public already skeptical about inoculations. If Americans think the covid-19 vaccine has been rushed for political reasons, tens of millions won’t take it — and herd im
Today: A New Film about Trump’s Mishandling of the Pandemic: American Pathogen
More than 190,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus. The United States leads the world in infections, and the virus is still claiming lives. Soon, it will exceed 200,000. Today is the premiere of, American Pathogen , a 30-minute documentary puts on record Trump’s historic mishandling of the Coronavirus pandemic. The message is clear: this tragedy was avoidable. Watch it here (and share!) – A
Mike Rose Offers Advice to Biden and Harris
Mike Rose blogs once every few weeks. One day I will copy his excellent model. But this season it is hard to cut back, in view of the pandemic, the uncertainty about keeping our students and staff safe, and the most consequential national election of many, many years. Those who know Mike Rose’s work usually become Mike Rose Fan Boys or Fan Girls I am grateful that he shared his latest post , in w
Former IDEA Leader Wants to Turn San Antonio into Charter Mecca
Tom Torkelson, former leader of the free-spending IDEA Network, has landed in San Antonio, where he hopes to flood the city and its surrounding districts with charter schools and obliterate public schools that belong to the community. Torkelson hopes to place 150,000 students in charters, draining funding from public schools. Not long ago, the IDEA corporate chain bought out Torkelson’s contract
Peter Greene: Will DeVos Use the Pandemic to Get $5 Billion for Vouchers?
Peter Greene warns us not to let down our guard. DeVos, with the help of the loathsome Ted Cruz, wants to use the pandemic to sneak in $5 billion for vouchers. Remember that DeVos has not had a new idea for at least thirty years and she is obsessed with taking money away from public schools and giving it to private and religious schools. Greene writes: Betsy DeVos has been pitching “Education Fre
Mercedes Schneider: Standardized Testing Is Indispensable to Those Who Are Not Subjected to It
Mercedes Schneider has written an indispensable post about standardized testing: She noticed that the annual testing mandated by the federal government is beloved by those who are farthest from the classroom and have nothing to do with teaching and learning. Perhaps she is responding to the recent report that Betsy DeVos will not allow waivers from the mandated testing next year, since the tests

SEP 08

Dana Milbank: How to Raise Money for the Financially Strapped Trump Campaign
Dana Milbank, regular columnist for the Washington Post, has some fundraising tips for the Trump campaign. Well, this is embarrassing. Seems President Trump has run his reelection campaign into financial distress, a status that will not surprise those familiar with the Trump Taj Mahal, the Trump Castle, the Trump Plaza Atlantic City, the Trump Plaza New York, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, Trum
David Dayen: The Rise and Possible Prosecution of the Postmaster General
David Dayen covers the daily news, usually related to the coronavirus crisis. This post is about political corruption, or the giant swamp surrounding Trump. As usual, open the post to read the links. Dayen writes: Straw Postman Let’s check in on our favorite Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy. When we last left our hero, he was implementing policy changes at the post office that were demonstrably sl
Join #ScholarStrike in Solidarity Protest Against Racial Injustice
The National Education Policy Center posted this notification about #ScholarStrike, inviting higher education professionals to speak out together against racial violence and injustice. I joined. Will you? Today and tomorrow, scholars at colleges across America will follow in the footsteps of the NBA, Major League Baseball and celebrities in speaking out against racial violence and unjust policing
NYC: Parents at Success Academy Worry about Stress of All-Remote “No Excuses” Discipline
New York City’s vaunted Success Academy, which boasts the highest test scores in the state, the highest teacher turnover rate, and very likely the highest student attrition rate (unsure because unreleased by city authorities), has announced that it will be all-remote until at least January. Success Academy is famed for its strict no-excuses policy and its readiness to eject any student who does n
Laura Chapman: EdTech Is Driven by the Profit Motive
Laura Chapman read Andy Hargreaves’ provocative article about the educational technology we will need in the future, and she responded with this comment: Andy Hargreaves says: “We need to create conditions for technologically enhanced learning that are universal, public and free to those who need it.” Yes. But that is unlikely to happen in the United States, even if available elsewhere. In our ma
Victoria Theisen Homer: The Tyranny of Remote Learning
Victoria Theisen Homer writes in Salon about the ways that remote learning distorts and devalues human relationships. She writes: Think of your favorite teacher. Whenever I ask people to do this, they usually tell me about a teacher who saw them: the one who took them aside and encouraged them to pursue art or computer science, who helped counsel them through a personal issue, who attended their
Gayle Greene: EdTech Cashes in on the Pandemic
One lesson learned since March is that remote learning is a very inferior way to conduct school. Students are bored, and teachers are frustrated. Distance learning may be necessary but it’s a poor substitute for in-person learning. Gayle Greene writes in The American Prospect about the bonanza struck by EdTech due to the pandemic. As she shows, EdTech has a shabby history in the classroom but now

SEP 07

Today: The Anniversary of the Blitz
From Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac”: The Blitz began on this date in 1940. “Blitz” comes from the German word “Blitzkrieg,” which means “lightning war.” Germany had successfully invaded France, and now Hitler was determined to conquer Britain as well. The German Luftwaffe, or air force, had been engaging the Royal Air Force for a few months, but without much success. Hitler changed his
Hero Pilot Captain Sully Denounces Trump
Eleven years ago, an airline pilot named Captain Sully Sullenberger had to carry out an emergency landing with a flight filled with 155 passengers. He couldn’t make it to the airport, and he coolly landed his plane in the center of the Hudson River, smack dab in New York City. The craft was soon surrounded by small boats that ferried the stunned passengers to land. Not a life was lost. Captain Su
Bob Shepherd: Donald in the Twilight Zone
Bob Shepherd writes a segment for Rod Serling in “The Twilight Zone”: INT. OVAL OFFICE – DAY Trump sitting behind the Resolute Desk. Camera back to reveal Rod Serling standing D.R. SERLING His name, Mr. Little. A man with little education, little taste, little knowledge, little concern for other people. Neglected as a child, he grew into a black hole of neediness. And so he used Daddy’s money to
Peter Greene: The Rebecca Friedrichs Reader
Peter Greene has been following the career path of Rebecca Friedrichs , a teacher who became the face of anti-unionism. Friedrichs lent her name to a Supreme Court case that didn’t get decided (it was eventually superseded by the Janus case, whose attempt to defund the teachers’ unions won in the Supreme Court but has thus far not defunded the teachers’ unions. I have often heard the rightwing cr
I Am a Proud Anti-Fascist
Trump and Barr have warned about the dangers of a group called “Antifa.” I had never heard of them and don’t know anyone who belongs to this group. I did a small amount of digging and learned that Antifa means “anti-fascist.” That confused me. How can it be wrong to be anti-fascism? Hitler and Mussolini were fascists. We fought a world war from 1941-1945 to save the world from fascism. During Wor
FDR on Social Security and Trump’s Plan to Bankrupt It
People who work for a living count on the fact that when they retire, they will have Social Security. They pay taxes to fund the Social Security fund, and they deserve what they have paid for to protect them from living in poverty after they stop working. But Trump is threatening to eliminate the tax we all pay into the Social Security fund. Trump recently issued an executive order deferring the

SEP 06

California Fire: “A Rescue Like No Other”
This dramatic story was just reported in the Los Angeles Times. Members of the California National Guard, firefighters, and law enforcement groups risked their lives to save others. Why would they do this? There was no money in it for them. There was service, duty, courage, valor. Call it heroic. The call came in to the California National Guard at 3:15 p.m. Saturday. A fast-moving brush fire had
Happy Birthday, Jane Addams!
Today is the birthday of a great American, Jane Addams. Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac” offers this tribute. It’s the birthday of the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize: public health worker, community organizer, and social activist Jane Addams (books by this author), born to a wealthy Quaker family in Cedarville, Illinois in 1860. She suffered from depression and went to
John Thompson: Politics and the Coronavirus in Oklahoma
John Thompson, historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma, contributes frequently here. He writes: If you want to get really depressed about today’s politics, look at the New York Times’ Upshot, which asked: Should Children Go Back to School? Sadly, the answer has been, “It depends in part on your politics.” One source the Times cited was a Brookings Institute analysis of data which found that “po
Nancy Bailey: A Nation Confused And Leaderless About Schools and COVID
Nancy Bailey provides 91 examples of the confusion that surrounds returning or not returning to school during the pandemic. The complete lack of national leadership has contributed to the confusion. Her opening quote from Betsy DeVos, who said that the coronavirus is “a good thing” for the schools because it is forcing necessary changes; it’s a statement that ranks right up there with Arne Duncan
Capital & Main: Why Aren’t Democrats Supporting the Rollback of Proposition 13?
Back in the late 1970s, a conservative California businessman named Howard Jarvis put a proposition on the state ballot to cap property taxes. It was called Proposition 13. It passed. It has caused massive defunding of public services, especially public education. Prop 13 “rolled back both residential and commercial property taxes in California. In so doing, the conservative businessman set in mo
Teacher: Let’s All Pull Together
Melanie Sirof is a teacher in the Bellmore-Merrick School District on Long Island innNew York. “Let’s start rowing in the same direction”. “Posting this now, before I walk into the first day of meetings that signal the start of school. I’m sure by three o’clock I will feel overwhelmed & frustrated, so I write this now, while I am still clear-eyed: Know this, parents, we teachers are going to make

SEP 05

FEMA Will No Longer Spend Emergency Funds on Cleaning Schools, Other Public Spaces
The New York Daily News reported that the Trump administration has changed rules for spending federal funds on emergency spaces , which means that subways and public schools will no longer receive funds for cleaning during the pandemic. Transit systems, schools and other public facilities in New York could soon become a whole lot dirtier because of a policy change enacted by the Trump administrat
DeVos Warns: No Testing Waivers Next Year!
Due to the pandemic, and the fact that schools across the nation were closed, Betsy DeVos raced to catch up and canceled federally mandated tests this past spring. But, she warned, don’t expect a waiver from testing next spring! Just because the nation’s schools are in turmoil and are uncertain about whether and when to resume in-person is no reason to ease up on the Big Stabdardized Tests! The g
Mercedes Schneider: No, Mr. Biden, Being “In the Classroom” Is Not Enough
Mercedes Schneider heard an interview with Jill Biden in which she pledged that a future President Bidennwoyld choose a Secretary of Education who has spent time “in the classroom.” That set Mercedes’ teeth on edge. “In the classroom” could mean a Teach for America tyro who spent two years “in the classroom.” No, sir-ee. If you want the votes of millions of teachers, you have to do better than ma
David Dayen: How Little Can the GOP Do for Working People?
David Dayen writes a daily update on the pandemic crisis for the American Prospect. It is called “Unsanitized.” I highly recommend it. In this post , he recounts the GOP’s lack of interest in helping anyone but their funders. How about going to the voters with a promise to help the 1%, not them? Or just 

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