Saturday, October 24, 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

Ohio: The Staggering Cost of Privatization of Public Money
Bill Phillis, founder of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Advocacy, is a retired state superintendent in the state. He has focused like a laser on the importance of funding public education equitably and adequately. He writes here about the staggering cost of privatizing public money to pay for charters, virtual charters, and vouchers. This is money deducted from the public schools, which outper
The Future of Public Education is on the Ballot on November 3! Vote!
Derek Black, Jack Schneider, and Jennifer Berkshire wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the future of public education is on the ballot on November 3 (for the record, I got a credit for doing some minor editing). Should Trump be re-elected, you can count on him and Betsy DeVos to continue their brazen assault on public schools and to continue their demand to transfer public funds to private a
NPE Action Endorses Melissa Romano for Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction!
The Network for Public Education Action is proud to endorse Melissa Romano in her campaign to become Superintendent of Public Instruction in Montana. Romano, a 16-year career elementary math teacher and the 2018 Montana Teacher of the Year, has been recognized as a leader in her field. This is Romano’s second race against opponent Elsie Arntzen. In 2016 Romano lost the election by a narrow 3% mar


Los Angeles: Support Scott!!
The charter industry and the billionaires want to replace Scott Schmerelson with a charter employee. They want to buy control of the LAUSD school board. Don’t let them! Stand with Scott, a veteran educator and a champion of public schools. Tell the billionaires that the public schools of Los Angeles are not for sale!
Trump, Pence, and Sessions Kidnapped 545 Children
During the last Trump-Biden debate, the moderator asked about the children separated from their parents. Trump said they were brought across the border by “coyotes,” and that they had never experienced such clean and pleasant surroundings. Biden expressed great remorse for the children who were wrenched from the arms of their parents (not “coyotes”) and left alone. In my view, this cruel policy o
Dana Milbank: McConnell “Helps” Working Families by Blocking Relief Bill
Dana Milbank is a regular writer for the Washington Post. He writes in this column about Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy. The Trump administration and House Democratic leaders are in striking range of a deal to send $1,200 stimulus checks to American families and to pump $2 trillion into the flagging economy. But Rich Mitch is having none of it. As The Post reported , Senate Majority Leader Mitch McC
Anya Kamenetz: Are the Risks of Reopening Schools Exaggerated?
Anya Kamenetz, education reporter for NPR, writes here about research findings that suggest the risk of reopening schools during the pandemic have been exaggerated. Of course, there is good reason to be concerned because the U.S. Congress has not passed the funding needed by schools for safe reopening. Congress has bailed out major corporations, but allotted only $13.2 billion for the nation’s ne
New York Teacher: Suspend Annual Testing and Focus on Student Needs
I received this sensible email from Melissa McMullan, who teaches sixth grade students on Long Island in New York State. I am a sixth grade teacher in Comsewogue School District, Port Jefferson Station, NY. I have a PhD in Literacy Studies from Hofstra University. You have previously published my writing on your blog as it pertains to 3-8 testing and APPR. This year it is imperative that the stat
Calling Joe Biden: You Promised to Cut Back Federal Testing Mandates, Remember?
Joe Biden needs to have a talk with his policy director Stef Feldman. During the campaign, Biden made specific commitments to reduce the mandates for standardized testing and to reduce the stakes attached to testing. But Stef Feldman met with the Education Writers Association and she didn’t seem to know anything about what Biden had repeatedly said about the misuse and overuse of standardized tes
Oakland, California: Elect a Slate of Pro-Public School Candidates!
Oakland has been a playground for the privatization industry for many years. The state took control of Oakland in 2003 because of a budget deficit and removed its school board. Billionaire Eli Broad selected its new superintendent (and his successors), and reformers took charge, opening charter schools and promising revolutionary improvement. Their goal was to turn the public schools into a “free

OCT 22

The Last Presidential Debate
In the first debate, Trump was so rude and arrogant that he was unwatchable. In the second debate, he was relatively restrained (a very low bar after the first one). He was still unwatchable. As he looked at Biden, his face expressed his disgust for his opponent. He lied and lied. He treated the pandemic as no big deal and insisted that 99% of those who got it recovered quickly and fully. (Lie.)
Today is the Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Anyone who was old enough to read and understand the news remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. At the time, it seemed the world was on the precipice of a nuclear was between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. American intelligence determined that the Soviets were building nuclear missile sites in Cuba. The missiles had not yet been delivered. President Kennedy warned Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
California: Charter Industry Pours Money into Santa Clara School Board Election
In the Public Interest, a nonpartisan group dedicated to protecting public services and the common good, writes about the school board election in Santa Clara County, California. The intervention of outside money makes it difficult for ordinary citizens to be competitive in local races: California : Charter school politics is influencing the Santa Clara County Board of Education Area 1 race , wit
TIME: The Swedish Approach to COVID-19 is a “Disaster”
In a story in TIME magazine, two Swedish writers declare that Sweden’s approach to the Coronovirus has been a disaster. The authors are KELLY BJORKLUND AND ANDREW EWING . Kelly Bjorklund is a writer and human rights activist who has worked on public policy and advocacy with elected officials, civil society and media for two decades. Andrew Ewing is a professor of molecular biology and chemistry a
What Happened When a Nice Guy Ran Against a QAnon Candidate
Stephanie McCrummen wrote this story in the Washington Post about what happened when Kevin Van Ausdal ran against a member of QAnon in a Congressional district in Georgia. There was a time when Kevin Van Ausdal had not yet been called a “loser” and “a disgrace” and hustled out of Georgia. He had not yet punched a wall, or been labeled a “communist,” or a person “who’d probably cry like a baby if
How Many Justices Should Be on the Supreme Court?
Joe Scarborough, the host of “Morning Joe” and a former Republican Congressman, wrote this provocative article for The Washington Post, where he is a columnist. Deep suspicion surrounded the new president and his plans for the Supreme Court. He had been attacking the high court’s rulings for years and even groused publicly nine months after being sworn in that “the country generally has outgrown
Please Help Our Friend Joyce Elliott in Arkansas!
Joyce Elliott is running for Congress in Arkansas. She is a wonderful, dynamic woman, and I ask you to send whatever you can to help her win the election. Joyce was born in Willisville, Arkansas (population 152). She was only the second black student to integrate the local high school (her older sister was first). She was a high school English teacher for thirty years. In 2001, she was elected to

OCT 21

Law Professor: Barrett’s “Originalism” Is Incoherent
Kevin Tobia, an assistant professor of law at Georgetown Law Center, wrote in Salon that Amy Coney Barrett’s “originalist” interpretation of law is incoherent . Tobia writes: Many fear that Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation will erode the established rights of women and LGBTQ+ persons, given Barrett’s private convictions . At last week’s hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee
The Reading Wars Are Over! Lucy Calkins Endorses Phonics
Lucy Calkins is one of the most influential reading researchers In the nation. She created the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, whose teaching materials have been widely adopted and is a proponent of “balanced literacy.” BL prominently opposed the “phonics first” approach. In my book Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform, ” I described in detail the long-standing debates
Former Director of CDC: The Pursuit of “Herd Immunity” Would Cost Half a Million Lives
Tom Frieden, a physician, is former director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His article appeared in the Washington Post. He writes: As the covid-19 pandemic continues in the United States and many parts of the world, millions of Americans are increasingly impatient for the economy and society to regain a more normal footing. Some “maverick scientists” with “an audience in
Jan Resseger: An “Originalist” Judge Cannot Understand Education
Jan Resseger writes here about the misfit between an “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution and the field of education, which has evolved very far from its condition in the 1770s. It is likely that an originalist, as Judge Amy Coney Barrett claims to be, would have nothing to say about contemporary issues in education, since there were no public schools, no Catholic schools, no organize
Michigan: Gary Peters Deserves Our Support
Senator Gary Peters is in a close race for re-election. He is a strong supporter of public schools. He has shared reports of the Network for Public Education with his colleagues. He needs us. I just sent him a contribution. I hope you will do the same. Gaining the majority in the Senate is crucial. Gary Peters deserves our support. Four years ago, Donald Trump won Michigan by only a few thousand

OCT 20

Trump’s Coronavirus Advisor Says Masks Are Ineffective; Experts Say He is Wrong
In recent months, Trump has increasingly turned to Dr. Scott Atlas for advice on the coronavirus, even though Dr. Atlas is a radiologist with no experience in epidemiology or infectious diseases. A few days ago, Dr. Atlas tweeted that masks don’t work, and Twitter blocked his tweet because it is inaccurate and misleading. People’s lives are at stake. MarketWatch reported: Twitter Inc. on Sunday b
Commonweal: Stop Using Catholic Schools to Shame Public Schools
There was a time long ago when public schools were thriving, and Catholic schools were also thriving. They were not in competition for students or money. But as our financial demands began pressing on both sectors, Catholic schools began closing and struggling to survive. Among rightwing ideologues, it became conventional to proclaim Catholic schools as “better” than public schools because they w
Washington Post: Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force Squabbles Over Direction
Trump saw Dr. Scott Atlas on FOX News and decided to bring him onto the administration’s coronavirus task force. Since Atlas’s arrival, the task force has been riven with dissent. Drs. Birk and Fauci have fallen out of favor. Atlas has been accused of favoring “herd immunity,” which he denies. But he is close to Trump, and Trump listens to his advice. As summer faded into autumn and the novel cor
Brookings: What Happens if the Supreme Court Overturns Obamacare?
Christen Linke Young explains what would happen if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA or Obamacare): chaos. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about the future of ACA on November 10. The Republican-controlled Senate is rushing through the confirmation vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett so that she can be seated before the election. Her writings indicate that
Stephen Dyer Evaluates Flawed Fordham Charter Report
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a report on Ohio charters, claiming that they were very successful. (TBF is a rightwing organization that supports charters and vouchers.) The Columbus Dispatch wrote that the report demonstrated that charter schools in Ohio are more successful than the state’s public schools. But Stephen Dyer reviewed the report and concluded that its findings are based o

OCT 19

Good News! New York City’s Public Schools Are Surprisingly Safe
The New York Times reports that the public schools of New York City have been conducting random drug tests, and the results reveal a surprisingly small number of COVID-19 infections. The city might be a “national model.” For months, as New York City struggled to start part-time, in-person classes, fear grew that its 1,800 public schools would become vectors of coronavirus infection, a citywide ar
“Financial Times”: Is QAnon a Game Gone Wrong?
We have heard a lot about some cult-like group called QAnon, but I for one know very little about it. I think it had some connection to Pizzagate, the incident when some guy rushed into a pizza place in D.C. with an assault weapon, in search of a basement where Hillary Clinton supposedly had imprisoned little children who were going to be sexually abused or someone was planning to drink their blo
Steven Singer: An “Originalist” View of Public Schools
Steven Singer tries to understand today’s public schools through the eyes of an “original story,” someone who judges court cases based on the original intent of those who wrote the Constitution. He writes: Let’s say you went to a restaurant and ordered a big ol’ meat sandwich only to find nothing but straw between two pieces of bread. “Waiter!” You say, calling over a server. “What’s wrong, Sir?”

OCT 18

Whitmer to Trump: Stop Targeting Me
Trump was in Michigan recently for a campaign rally, where he insulted his usual enemies, which include Governor Gretchen Whitmer. His attacks on her inspired chants of “lock her up.” Trump’s encouragement of violence are fascistic, not what the public expects from the president. Governor Whitmer responded this morning on a Sunday talk show . MICHIGAN GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER spoke with CHUCK TODD o
Nancy Bailey: Charter Schools Use Pandemic as a Marketing Opportunity
Nancy Bailey checks in on Betsy DeVos and reports that she is still hating on the public schools that the overwhelming majority of American students attend. Moreover, she discovers that charter schools are taking advantage of the pandemic to market their class sizes. Wouldn’t every public school teacher like to have small class sizes? Of course. But it won’t happen without funding to make it poss
Laura Chapman: Can Teachers Be Measured by the Same Methods Used for Cows?
Our wonderful reader Laura Chapman reports here on the origins of the laws that purport to measure teacher quality by the test scores of their students. The founding father of this methodology was the late William Sanders, an agricultural statistician who believed that the same productivity used to measure cows could be used to measure teachers. His ideas were adopted and promoted by Arne Duncan’
EdWeek: Teacher Evaluations Resume, Despite Pandemic and Chaotic Conditions
Madeline Will wrote in Education Week that many states plan to resume teacher evaluations, despite the pandemic and the difficulties of teaching remotely and/or in-person. Some will incorporate student test scores, which is absurd. Many teachers believe this is unfair, since teaching conditions are adverse. Unfortunately, Will relied on the “National Council on Teacher Quality” for its “expertise
The New York Times: Trump Is “the Worst American President in Modern History”
The New York Times published this editorial for its Sunday edition, accompanied by articles detailing the multiple failures of Donald Trump. This is my favorite line: “ the lesson of the last four years is that he cannot solve the nation’s pressing problems because he is the nation’s most pressing problem. ” The title of the editorial is: “End Our National Crisis: The Case Against Donald Trump.”
See This NBC Documentary
After watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC on Friday night, I stay tuned for a documentary called “As I See It.” It is a great show and I urge you to look for it as it will likely be repeated. It’s the story of Pete Souza, the White House photographer for Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Lots of unscripted moments with both, behind the scenes banter, intimate photos. When Pete starts talking about Obam

OCT 17

Robert Kuttner: How Trump Might Overturn the Election
Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect. He writes occasional columns online called “Kuttner on Tap .” Someone’s Crazy Uncle NBC redeemed itself, sort of, with moderator Savannah Guthrie, whose tough questioning of Trump put other media pushovers like Chris Wallace to shame. Best line of the night, maybe of the year: “You’re the president. You’re not, like, someone’s c
Oklahoma: State Begins Contract Termination Process for Epic Charter Schools
A recent state audit of Epic Charter Schools documented many financial problems. As a result, the state’s Virtual Charter School Board has initiated a contract termination process in which Epic will have a chance to present its case against closure. The board voted 3-1. The one board member who voted no was Phyllis Shepherd. It turns out that she is related to the founder of the Epic charter scho
Peter Greene: Watch Out, Maine, the Charter Pushers Have a New Name, Same Game
Peter Greene writes about a new push to expand charters in Maine by the same-old group that has failed in the past to disrupt the state’s devotion to public schools. Wake up, Maine! Don’t be fooled. They want you to divert money from public schools to privately managed schools run by entrepreneurs and corporate chains. He begins: Maine has suffered through its own brands of education disruption.
Indiana: ACB Served on the Board of a School That Discriminated Against Gays
Steve Hinnefeld, a regular commentator on education in Indiana, regrets that Amy Coney Barrett was not asked about vouchers during her hearings . He notes that she served on the board of a Catholic school in Indiana that received state voucher funds and that openly discriminated against same-sex families. Barrett served from 2015-17 on the board of Trinity School at Greenlawn, a South Bend Cathol
ProPublica: How the Trump Administration Tried to Destroy the CDC
A government agency that has long been trusted as nonpartisan relies on public trust for the information it releases. When that agency is the Centers for Disease Control, public trust is essential to persuading the public that its advisories represent the work of scientists, unaffected by political considerations. This article by ProPublica describes how the Trump administration persistently inte
More than 1,000 CDC officers Condemn U.S. Response to Pandemic
The Wall Street Journal reports that more than 1,000 current and former officials at the Centers for Disease Control denounced the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19. More than 1,000 current and forme

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