Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, February 9, 2020



Ice Edition (2/9)

It's the weekend of our b ig ice carving festival here in town, and the weather is perfect. There are cool sculptures to see, and it's the perfect festival for people who don't like crowds because nobody wants to stand around in the cold. And the Board of Directors has a lovely time.

In the meantime, here is some reading from the week.

Nashville Art School Will Purge Non-Christian Faculty
A religious university took over the school; now to root out all those non-believers.

Agassi scores again with $61 million charter school sale
A reminder that for some folks, the charter biz is just about making in real estate. Just like flipping houses, only more profitable.

He stood up against a school takeover. The Democratic Party threw him out.
From Rochester, a reminder that plenty of Dems are not the friends of public education.

Top-down teacher evaluation models are flawed.
I don't know that I agree with all of this, but I'll pass it along for this one line: "most of the time teachers are on their own. Most of the improvements they generate emanate from their own self-evaluation. By miles."

Learning "useless" things in school is (usually) not useless.
Learning Scientists with a great explanation of why not everything in school is about some obviously utilitarian purpose.

Dress codes are the new "whites only" signs.
Andre Perry at Hechinger Report responds to the latest round of racist-as-hell moves by schools to enforce dress and hair codes.

Bradenton school refuses "homosexual" parents
News continues to roll in from Florida, where the legislature is committed to spending pulic tax dollars on schools that discriminate against LGBTQ folks.

Schools trial body cameras
In England, another creepy leap forward for the surveillance state-- body cameras on teachers. Great. Just great.

Dallas and Tulsa: A Tale of two blockchains
Wrench in the Gears travels to Dallas and Tulsa and lays out some more bout the world of human capital investment. With many useful charts.

A Room Is Enough
One of those great moments in teaching, courtesy of the JLV.



What Charter Advocates Want From States

What exactly would charter proponents like to see in state charter regulations? As it turns out, we don't have to guess, because the National Alliance of Public [sic] Charter Schools regularly publishes a ranking of the states based on the "strength" of their charter laws. This year's edition is the 11th, and it's available right now ! Woot! If you are concerned about the rankings, I can give you

FEB 06

PA: DeVos Stumps For Trump, Masters Lying

So this is apparently the school choice lie that Trumpists are going to lean on: “They want government control of everything — your health care, your wallet, your child’s education,” DeVos said. Democrats “want complete control over where, how, and what American students learn,” she said. “ They want to close every charter school , take away every educational option from low-income families, limit
NY: Police State High School Is On Line

A while back, I wrote about Lockport, NY, where for some damn reason, school officials had decided that what the district really needed was facial recognition software watching the students . As with most expansions of the surveillance state, the excuse was the ol d "This is for your own good." Facial recognition and tracking software will add an unprecedented level of security at the schools. Dis

FEB 05

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 B

FEB 03

USED Pitches Privatization To Wyoming

Mitchell Zais , Deputy Secretary of Education, last week visited Wyoming to stump for school choice . He wrote for the Wyoming Parent his version of the department's sales pitch for Betsy DeVos's Education Freedom vouchery program. Wyoming parents (and taxpayers), this is a bit of a snow job. Let me explain. He opens by recognizing that humans are individuals, so that he can say this: So why does
I Shot An Arrow Into The Air

I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; -- " The Arrow and the Song " Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Rick Hess recently wrote an EdWeek post offering f our insights about education policymaking , and as if often the case with Hess, I started to write a reply in the comments section and then it got too long and so here I am. Here's a quick recap of his four ideas-- This might

FEB 02

ICYMI: Sportsball Sunday Edition (2/2)

Human beings are funny creatures. Today we'll celebrate the prognostication of a giant rodent, invest a gazillion dollars in a sportsball contest, and get all excited because our date-labeling system will cough up a palindrome today 

John Thompson: Diane Ravitch's Slaying Goliath Explains How the Disruptors Have Failed - Living in Dialogue

John Thompson: Diane Ravitch's Slaying Goliath Explains How the Disruptors Have Failed - Living in Dialogue

Diane Ravitch's Slaying Goliath Explains How the Disruptors Have Failed

By John Thompson.
Part One of Two.
Diane Ravitch’s Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools is the history of the rise and fall of corporate school reform, but it is much more. It isn’t that surprising that a scholar like Ravitch, like so many researchers and practitioners, predicted over a decade ago how data-driven, competition-driven “reform” would fail. Technocratic “reformers,” who Ravitch calls “Goliath,” started with a dubious hunch, that socio-engineering a “better teacher” could overcome poverty and inequality, and then ignored the science that explained why evaluating teachers based on test score growth would backfire.
It may be surprising that Ravitch, an academic who had once worked in the Education Department of President George H. W. Bush, and served on the board of the conservative Fordham Foundation, become the leader of the grass roots uprising of parents, students, and educators which she dubs the “Resistance.” But it soon became clear why Ravitch inspired and guided the Resistance. In contrast to Goliath, who “ignored decades of research” and assumed the worst of their opponents, Ravitch respected and listened to practitioners and patrons.
One big surprise, which is explained in Slaying Goliath, is how Ravitch presciently understood why output-driven, charter-driven reform devolved into “privatization.”  She had firsthand experience with the hubris of the Billionaires Boys Club, understanding the danger of their desire to hurriedly “scale up” transformational change. And being an accomplished scholar, she had insights into how top-down technocrats’ embrace of behaviorism in the tradition of Edward Thorndike and B.F. Skinner, led to their commitment to “rigidly prescribed conditioning via punishments and rewards.”
Ravitch was among the first experts to fully grasp how, “Behaviorists, and the Disrupters who mimic them today, lack appreciation for the value of divergent thinking, and the creative potential of variety. And they emphatically discount mere ‘feelings.’”
Ravitch witnessed how corporate reformers “admire disruptive innovation, because high-tech businesses do it, so it must be good.” Rather than take the time to heed the wisdom of those who had no choice but to CONTINUE READING: John Thompson: Diane Ravitch's Slaying Goliath Explains How the Disruptors Have Failed - Living in Dialogue

NANCY BAILEY: Fake Film History Demeans the Education of Young Women

Fake Film History Demeans the Education of Young Women

Fake Film History Demeans the Education of Young Women

Helping girls grow into strong women must be built on truth, not lies. Tonight, many will watch the Academy Awards. I thought it appropriate to write about the movies and their effect on young women.
Public schools should be places that encourage all students to be good at sports, mathematics, engineering, at being the President of the United States, or anything they choose. Teachers rely on books and film to provide realistic instruction. It’s critical to reference history correctly.
Because films are such a part of our culture, the movie industry should not create false narratives about women, no matter how well-meaning. I don’t know if this movie is up for any Oscars, or if it is eligible for an award. But it highlights the point I want to make about film.
The Aeronauts is an exciting movie. It’s cringe-worthy if you have acrophobia, but it’s based on real historical events. The filming is spectacular, and I recommend it, but it is important to know a glaring untruth.
The movie is about James Glaisher, an early meteorologist who believed you could predict weather. His courageous copilot is Amelia Wren. Wren steals the show with her courageous heart-stopping feats that include climbing to the top of an icy hot air CONTINUE READING: Fake Film History Demeans the Education of Young Women

Trump Lied About Philly Student in “Failing Government School” | Diane Ravitch's blog

Trump Lied About Philly Student in “Failing Government School” | Diane Ravitch's blog

Trump Lied About Philly Student in “Failing Government School”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Trump singled out a child from Philadelphia who, he said, was “trapped in a failing government school.” In fact, the child attends one of the city’s most elite charter schools. Didn’t Betsy DeVos realize she had given $1.3 million to the self-same charter school in 2019?
President Donald Trump turned a Philadelphia fourth grader into a poster child for the school-choice movement Tuesday when he told the nation that thousands of students were “trapped in failing government schools” and announced that the girl was at last getting a scholarship to attend the school of her choice.

But Janiyah Davis already attends one of the city’s most sought-after charter schools, The Inquirer has learned. In September, months before she was an honored guest at Trump’s State of the Union address, she entered Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III.
MaST III opened in the fall in a gleaming facility on the site of the former Crown Cork & Seal headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia, part of a charter network so CONTINUE READING: Trump Lied About Philly Student in “Failing Government School” | Diane Ravitch's blog

Book Tour, San Francisco, Part 2 | Diane Ravitch's blog

Book Tour, San Francisco, Part 2 | Diane Ravitch's blog

Book Tour, San Francisco, Part 2

Despite my ongoing struggle to overcome the remnants of the flu, I managed to get through an event last night with the United Educators of San Francisco. I have become very comfortable with a new format, in which I don’t give a speech but instead engage in conversation with the interlocutor. Last night, my partner was Susan Solomon, the union president. I learned from her about the difficulty that teachers have affording a place to live in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. A one-bedroom apartment typically costs about $3,500 a month, she said. Most teachers have long commutes, and many move to districts where living costs are affordable.
Teachers in San Francisco seem hopeful, as they enter contract negotiations, because the elected school board has their back. The board banned TFA because it did not want a continuing influx of inexperienced, unprepared teachers to instruct the highest-needs students. The district has few charters and doesn’t want more. What it wants is more funding from the state. Even though California is one of the richest states in the nation, its per-pupil spending is about at the national median, or somewhat below. Last year when I checked, I found that California’s per-pupil funding on par with South Carolina.
As you walk through this affluent, booming city, it’s hard CONTINUE READING: Book Tour, San Francisco, Part 2 | Diane Ravitch's blog

Shawgi Tell: Charter Schools Fail to Eradicate the Achievement Gap | Dissident Voice

Charter Schools Fail to Eradicate the Achievement Gap | Dissident Voice

Charter Schools Fail to Eradicate the Achievement Gap

Numerous inequalities characterize societies in which the majority produce the wealth but only a handful own it. The so-called “achievement gap” is mainly an expression of the harsh social class divide in society that keeps growing.
One of the conceited claims of charter school advocates is that privately-owned-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools will close the nagging “achievement gap” in America. Charter schools are supposedly a panacea because they will “out-perform” America’s “failing” public schools, rescue kids, empower parents, and provide a brighter future for all.
But nearly 30 years later, with hundreds of studies and endless real-life examples, privately-owned-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools have not eradicated or narrowed the “achievement gap.” On the contrary, thousands of online and brick-and-mortar charter schools perform poorly every year and at least 3,000 charter schools have closed since their inception in the early 1990s. More than 765 charter schools closed between 2014-15 and 2016-2017 alone,1 leaving thousands of families out in the cold. This figure represents more than one out of ten charter schools in the country by today’s numbers. The reality is that many non-profit and for-profit charter schools do not strengthen student proficiency in reading, math, and other subjects.
The track record of charter schools is even more unimpressive when considering the fraud and corruption plaguing this crisis-prone sector.
Decades later, charter school advocates are still struggling to produce a CONTINUE READING: Charter Schools Fail to Eradicate the Achievement Gap | Dissident Voice

UTLA Shames the “Corporate Special Interests” with Billboards | Diane Ravitch's blog

UTLA Shames the “Corporate Special Interests” with Billboards | Diane Ravitch's blog

UTLA Shames the “Corporate Special Interests” with Billboards

The United Teachers of Los Angeles is militantly fighting back against the privatizers who are attacking public schools and seek to divert public money to charters and vouchers. The UTLA embodies Resistance to privatization and to those who oppose full funding of Los Angeles’ public schools.
UTLA has created a billboard portraying the “Corporate Special Interests Vs. Our Public Schools.”
Open the link to see the billboard.
The billboard portrays Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, and others who are undermining the funding of public schools attended by the majority of students.
Los Angeles— United Teachers Los Angeles has launched a new phase of the “We Are Public Schools” campaign that includes more than 75 billboards across LA. One billboard features Donald Trump and posted the same day he attacked teachers and called public schools “failed government schools” in his State of the Union CONTINUE READING: UTLA Shames the “Corporate Special Interests” with Billboards | Diane Ravitch's blog

Michael Mulgrew: The “Inconvenient Truth” Behind “Successful” Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog

Michael Mulgrew: The “Inconvenient Truth” Behind “Successful” Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog

MIchael Mulgrew: The “Inconvenient Truth” Behind “Successful” Charter Schools

Michael Mulgrew is president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, the largest local in the nation and in the American Federation of Teachers.
He published this article in the New York Daily News, which is strongly pro-charter and often writes about the “success” of the city’s charter schools compared to its public schools. Mulgrew explains here the secrets of charter “success.”
Careful selection, exclusion, and attrition are keys to charter success.
Mulgrew writes:
Cheerleaders for New York City’s charter school sector typically trumpet the academic achievements of charter school students.
But there is an inconvenient truth about these schools that charter supporters rarely discuss, or even admit. The schools’ “success” is due not to any superior instructional strategy but rather to segregation — segregation based on students’ academic and social needs.
Though charters are open to all by lottery, as a group CONTINUE READING: MIchael Mulgrew: The “Inconvenient Truth” Behind “Successful” Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog