Thursday, February 6, 2020

Congress: Don’t forget public schools in infrastructure plan - Education Votes

Congress: Don’t forget public schools in infrastructure plan - Education Votes

Congress: Don’t forget public schools in infrastructure plan


By Amanda Menas / Photo: NEA President Lily Eskelsen García makes the case for rebuilding schools at an event on Capitol Hill last year.
Decaying school buildings and lack of up-to-date technology are a reality for millions of students and educators across the nation. Half of America’s public schools are more than 50 years old, and campuses in poorer rural and urban areas tend to have the worst facilities because they lack local revenue to pay for school upkeep and modernization projects.
K-12 public schools are the second largest national infrastructure sector, topped only by highways. Yet there is no dedicated federal funding for school facilities. 
The overall condition of public school facilities gets a D+ on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 infrastructure report cardOver 19,000 schools serving 11.6 million students are without the minimum connectivity necessary for digital learning. Cuts to state education budgets over the last decade have only exacerbated the issue of aging buildings. 
That’s why educators are embracing a plan by House and Senate Democrats to invest more than $100 billion in America’s public schools.
The Rebuild America’s Schools Act would fund $70 billion in grants and $30 billion in bonds to help states address critical physical and digital infrastructure needs. Specifically, the bonds target high-poverty schools whose facilities pose health and safety risks to students and staff. The act is an important step in securing safe, high-quality public schools for every student.
The total infrastructure package unveiled by House Democrats would improve roads, bridges, and transit systems, also influential in the day-to-day lives of our students and educators. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said school modernization also needs to happen this year; but timing is unclear. It’s up to us to make sure Congress knows that schools and the Rebuild CONTINUE READING: Congress: Don’t forget public schools in infrastructure plan - Education Votes

What Our White Colleagues Need to Understand: White Supremacy Doesn’t Stop at the Schoolhouse Door - Philly's 7th Ward

What Our White Colleagues Need to Understand: White Supremacy Doesn’t Stop at the Schoolhouse Door - Philly's 7th Ward

WHAT OUR WHITE COLLEAGUES NEED TO UNDERSTAND: WHITE SUPREMACY DOESN’T STOP AT THE SCHOOLHOUSE DOOR

As educators doing antiracism work, we often focus extensively on the impact that white supremacy has on students. But even though we recognize that white supremacy shapes all of our lives and work, we spend little time talking about its impact on educators.
For the past three years, we’ve worked as colleagues in our Philadelphia high school’s humanities department and with teacher-led racial justice organizations. Clarice is a Black, biracial woman, and Charlie is a white man.
We know we all live in the same society of racism and white supremacy. We know white educators have the privilege to ignore these conditions and often do. And we know our collaboration is the exception, not the rule.
For this article, we interviewed eight educators of color across the country to hear about their work with white colleagues. We found disheartening trends. Educators of color report that they’re expected to take on a disproportionate share of work supporting students and teaching about race and racism. This work, they say, is often made more difficult by the indifference—and sometimes resistance—of white colleagues. While all educators of color carry the burden of white supremacy, Black teachers have even more weight placed on them. To highlight their voices, we included six Black educators among the CONTINUE READING: What Our White Colleagues Need to Understand: White Supremacy Doesn’t Stop at the Schoolhouse Door - Philly's 7th Ward

The Soft Bigotry of Hard Grading | Teacher in a strange land

The Soft Bigotry of Hard Grading | Teacher in a strange land

The Soft Bigotry of Hard Grading


Whoever wrote the phrase ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ back in the early days of the Bush (W) administration, was a genius. In one nifty sound bite, the blame for the so-called achievement gap was placed squarely on the shoulders of educators, those barrel-bottom, unimaginative civil servants slogging along in low-paying careers.
Not only were veteran teachers unable to conceive of their students’ success (presumably, getting into a competitive-admissions college)—they were also bigots, kind of. Perhaps they hadn’t read 25 books on racism, been hooked on The Wire, or stayed for two grueling years in a no-excuses charter before heading off to Goldman Sachs. They were just stuck in those dead-end teaching jobs.
Early in the ‘reform’ days—a couple decades ago—Disruptor types were prone to proclaiming that high expectations for all students were, in fact, a positive disruption to what they assumed was the low and unimaginative level of teaching practice endemic in public education. Especially in schools filled with kids who took home backpacks full of peanut butter and whole wheat crackers every Friday.
If only teachers had faith in their students, cracking the academic whip and believing they could someday rise above their circumstances and excel—well, then things would be different. What we needed was new—high and rigorous—standards, better aligned CONTINUE READING:The Soft Bigotry of Hard Grading | Teacher in a strange land

Racing to Nowhere: Ways Teacher Evaluation Reform Devalues Teachers | VAMboozled!

Racing to Nowhere: Ways Teacher Evaluation Reform Devalues Teachers | VAMboozled!

Racing to Nowhere: Ways Teacher Evaluation Reform Devalues Teachers


In a recent blog (see here), I posted about a teacher evaluation brief written by Alyson Lavigne and Thomas Good for Division 15 of the American Psychological Association (see here). There, Lavigne and Good voiced their concerns about inadequate teacher evaluation practices that did not help teachers improve instruction, and they described in detail the weaknesses of testing and observation practices used in current teacher evaluation practices.
In their book, Enhancing Teacher Education, Development, and Evaluation, they discuss other factors which diminish the value of teachers and teaching. They note that for decades many various federal documents, special commissions, summits, and foundation reports periodically issue reports that blatantly assert (with limited or no evidence) that American schools and teachers are tragically flawed and at times the finger has even been pointed at our students (e.g., A Nation at Risk chided students for their poor effort and performance). These reports, ranging from the Sputnik fear to the Race to the Top crisis, have pointed to an immediate and dangerous crisis. The cause of the crisis: Our inadequate schools that places America at scientific, military, or economic peril. 
Given the plethora of media reports that follow these pronouncements of school crises (and pending doom) citizens are taught at least implicitly that schools are a mess, but the solutions are easy…if only teachers worked hard enough. Thus, when reforms fail, many policy makers scapegoat teachers as inadequate or uncaring. Lavigne and CONTINUE READING: Racing to Nowhere: Ways Teacher Evaluation Reform Devalues Teachers | VAMboozled!

Milton Friedman’s Day in Court – Have You Heard

Milton Friedman’s Day in Court – Have You Heard

Milton Friedman’s Day in Court


The raging debate about whether public money should fund private religious education is a very old one. What’s new is the increasingly complex education landscape and the mainstreaming of once radical free market ideas. Education historian Ethan Hutt helps us make sense of the recent Supreme Court case, Montana vs. Espinoza and what’s next for the school choice wars. Full transcript available here.
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Milton Friedman’s Day in Court – Have You Heard

Our Community, Our Children and Education Equity: What the Data Reveals | Ogo Okoye-Johnson

Our Community, Our Children and Education Equity: What the Data Reveals | Ogo Okoye-Johnson

Our Community, Our Children and Education Equity: What the Data Reveals

The persistent disparity in the academic achievement of students from different socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds based on the results of various research studies examining the standardized and school level test results of students in the United States has been reported extensively. As we welcome the year 2020, it is important to reflect on the state of education in our community and beyond. Priority this year and this decade should be focused on ensuring that all our children are provided the necessary competences to lead successful lives in adulthood which in turn enhances our community. Performance scores, like any data, are meaningless unless the scores are analyzed and used to guide intentional decision-making and actions that lead to improved outcomes.
At the National Level                                                                                                                        The 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment, (PISA), a test of reading, mathematics and science administered every three years to fifteen-year-old students around the world released on December 3, 2019 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlight an increased gap in the mathematics and reading scores between socio-economically disadvantaged students and the not socio-economically disadvantaged students in United States, which is larger than the gap between both sub-groups in the top performing countries.
The scores of the 2019 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report card, released on October 30, 2019 highlight the persistent education inequity in the nation and specifically in California because of the lasting gap between high and low performing students. NAEP has been used to measure and compare students’ academic performance across the nation since 1969 for the purpose of improving the US education system.
  At the State Level                                                                                                                             
The 2019 8th grade NAEP scores declined in both reading and mathematics in California. 

About Those “Failing-Government” Schools | deutsch29

About Those “Failing-Government” Schools | deutsch29

About Those “Failing-Government” Schools


In promoting US ed sec Betsy DeVos’ pet project of private school vouchers during his February 04, 2020, State of the Union address, President Donald Trump used a far-right, DeVosian description of America’s public schools as “failing government schools.”
Never mind that Trump heads the government and that DeVos heads those “government schools.” What is needed, according to DeVos-via-Trump, is a private-school escape.
DeVos 2
Betsy DeVos
I just want to note for the record that I agree with Trump and DeVos about “failing” and “government” in connection to America’s public schools, but, being an English teacher, I will add one wee mark of punctuation to their phrase, clarifying it as such:
Failing-government schools.
For decades, the government (federal and state) has been failing America’s public schools.
That little hyphen says it all.
First came the Texas miracle under then-governor George W. Bush, which was no miracle at all, it turns out:
Scores on the Texas test rose, but SAT scores for prospective college CONTINUE READING: About Those “Failing-Government” Schools | deutsch29

Gov. Wolf Proposes Saving $280 Million a Year in PA With Charter School Reform | gadflyonthewallblog

Gov. Wolf Proposes Saving $280 Million a Year in PA With Charter School Reform | gadflyonthewallblog

Gov. Wolf Proposes Saving $280 Million a Year in PA With Charter School Reform
Charter schools waste taxpayer money.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf proposes we stop wasting that money by holding charter schools as accountable as the state’s authentic public schools.
The Democratic governor made his most recent proposal yesterday as part of his 2020-21 budget address.
It’s a common sense proposal that only seems revolutionary because officials have been so blinded with school privatization fantasies.
Charter schools are funded with tax dollars but can be run by business interests thereby forgoing elected school boards and a host of regulations meant to safeguard children and the community’s investment.
The Commonwealth is infamous for allowing some of the most permissive charter school policies in the nation, which destabilize authentic public schools and force local tax increases and reductions in student services while charter operators get CONTINUE READING: Gov. Wolf Proposes Saving $280 Million a Year in PA With Charter School Reform | gadflyonthewallblog

FAQ for parents and teachers on Regents “exit exams” and why they should be eliminated | Class Size Matters

FAQ for parents and teachers on Regents “exit exams” and why they should be eliminated | Class Size Matters | A clearinghouse for information on class size & the proven benefits of smaller classes

FAQ for parents and teachers on Regents “exit exams” and why they should be eliminated



The Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department are re-examining the use of Regents “exit exams” as a requirement for high school graduation, and are holding a series of regional public sessions to gather input from parents, teachers and other stakeholders before making any changes to the current policy. 
These meetings will be held in Brooklyn Feb. 26-27; Queens on March 10, and Staten Island on March 11, with others to be added in Bronx and Manhattan.   The list of sessions statewide is posted here, along with dates, times and locations.
NY State Allies for Public Education and Class Size Matters have prepared the following fact sheet for parents, educators and concerned citizens in preparation for these sessions.  It summarizes the research showing the negative impact of exit exams on drop out and incarceration rates, and the fact that in recent years, most states that once required them have now eliminated them.
If you want your voice heard on this critical issue, please attend these meetings while bringing copies of the fact sheet to share with other parents, and/or email the State Education Department to express your views at GradMeasures@nysed.gov. 


FAQ for parents and teachers on Regents “exit exams” and why they should be eliminated | Class Size Matters | A clearinghouse for information on class size & the proven benefits of smaller classes

Trumpublicans and the Gotcha Politics of the Right – radical eyes for equity

Trumpublicans and the Gotcha Politics of the Right – radical eyes for equity

Trumpublicans and the Gotcha Politics of the Right


This is now the third installment that frames the presidency of Trump as a real-life Harrison Bergeron, the often misread totalitarian clown in Kurt Vonnegut’s eponymous dystopian short story.
For the U.S., February 4, 2020, now stands as the peak moment of converting the Republican Party into the Trumpublican Party. No longer are we citizens of this so-called free country confronted by empty-suit politicians or even an emperor with no clothes, but by the most brazen and crass reality that the very worst types of adolescents now run the country bolstered by a loyal base that revels in believing that being stupid is cool and that bullies are funny.
Two moments calcify this new reality of U.S. gotcha politics—Nancy Pelosi ripping up the State of the Union address behind Trump as he spoke and Trump awarding the Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh.
Instead of using the Pelosi ripping meme either to demonize Pelosi (see Trump supporters) or to lionize Pelosi (see partisan Democrats), we would all be better served to pause at this reduction of democracy to the cult of celebrity that ultimately distracts from the real politics of government policies that directly impact people’s lives.
Let me turn again to Vonnegut, his brilliant novel Cat’s Cradle, as I have discussed before:
Readers soon learn that Bokonon creates a religion “’to provide the people with better and better lies’” (p. 172), foma, and a central aspect of that strategy involves the fabricated war between the government CONTINUE READING: Trumpublicans and the Gotcha Politics of the Right – radical eyes for equity

CURMUDGUCATION: Eli Broad Goes To Yale

CURMUDGUCATION: Eli Broad Goes To Yale

Eli Broad Goes To Yale


This ran over at Forbes back in early December, and in the Christmas rush I just forgot to port it over here to the mother ship for those of you who don't read me at Forbes. So it's not fresh, shiny news-- but it still matters.

Billionaire Eli Broad has long worked to impose business solutions on U.S. education, believing that education has a management problem, not an education problem. As one Broad fan is quoted in the Washingtoin Post, “You think a superintendent is like the lead principal or lead teacher for a school district, but you have to think more like a CEO of a major corporation." It’s not unlike the belief that a private sector CEO doesn’t need to know about the industry in which he’s working—he just needs to be a good CEO. 
Broad is a bit of a scrapper who has described himself as a “sore winner.” He has backed his version of education reform in many ways, from pushing a plan to put half of Los Angeles students in charters schools, to making big money pushes for his favored LAUSD board candidates. His foundation disperses money to many of the big ed reform groups, and in 2014 he approached former Arne Duncan aide Peter Cunningham about creating a sort of war room rapid response press outfit to get the reformer point of view out there (Education Post was the result). The Broad Foundation has been one of the “Big Three” funders of education reform, just behind the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. The foundation aims to “advance entrepreneurship” for education, favoring business models over traditional democratic ones; they literally wrote a handbook for closing down and replacing public schools. 
Perhaps most central to Broad’s vision for remaking U.S. education is the Broad Academy. Created in 2002, and part of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, the Academy was an CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: Eli Broad Goes To Yale

Last Week, Water. This Week, AIR. (The Series Continues) | The Merrow Report

Last Week, Water. This Week, AIR. (The Series Continues) | The Merrow Report

Last Week, Water. This Week, AIR. (The Series Continues)


Last week in this space I recommended studying one of life’s essentials, the water we drink.  I also endorsed project-based learning because it demands that students become producers of knowledge, not mere regurgitators of canned information.  
A number of readers asked for more, and so here’s a second recommendation: let’s study the air that we breath every minute of every hour of every day.  This particular project is also a good example of how technology can support genuine learning.
For this project, an elementary school needs a portable air quality indicator, one of which costs about $250.  Suppose that three or four times each school day students carry their monitor outside, turn it on, and record the measurements–which would be automatically entered into an accessible data base. Back in class, they could compare the daily and hourly readings for their playground and look for changes.  They would need to know how to interpret readings, which would require some basic science research and direct instruction from their teacher.  Perhaps they would ask local scientists to come in and talk and also Skype with experts from all over the globe. 
They’d be studying the science of air quality and learning about the specifics of air pollution, the causes and consequences of asthma, et cetera, et cetera.  Perhaps they’ll become curious about the incidence of asthma and other lung-related conditions in their town or state and begin trying to plot and graph air quality CONTINUE READING: Last Week, Water. This Week, AIR. (The Series Continues) | The Merrow Report