Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, March 1, 2020


CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Making Up My Mind Edition (3/1)

Making Up My Mind Edition

I've held onto the privilege of not having to make up my mind about the Dem race, but more and more I find myself gravitating to Elizabeth Warren. Not perfect, but none of them are. I like her combination of policy, plan and temperament. And the whole smartness thing. Anyway. I figured you were just dying to know. Here's some reading from the week.

The Myths of Learning Styles  
From the Atlantic, a reminder that learning styles are bunk.

Budget Turmoil at Philly's Second Largest Charter School   
One more example of how charters manage to go off the rails, and avoid transparency while they're doing it.

Who's Behind America's Superintendents and School Transformation
Nancy Bailey takes a look at what's going on when the nation's school administrators get together. It is not encouraging.

We Need To Change the Law on Cyber Charter Schools
At PennLive, an op-ed arguing for PA's cyber charter policy makeover.

Michael Bloomberg's Disastrous Public Education Legacy
Plenty of New Yorkers have stepped forward to talk about what a disaster Mayor Bloomberg was. Leonie Haimson takes a particularly thorough look at how he trashed public education.

Democrats Are Asking the Wrong Questions To Protect Charter School Students
Adam Laats in the Washington Post providing another useful history lesson about clever education ideas.

Public oversight of Michigan charter school inadequate, report says
A Michigan-based research group has  issued a "scathing" report showing that Michigan's charters are seriously unmoored from necessary oversight and accountability.

Kids Don't Need To Stay 'On Track' To Succeed 
Madeline Levine in the Atlantic reminding us that success is not a straight line from A to B.

A Primer on Voucher Misinformation  
A look at the talking points for voucher fans in Ohio (and elsewhere), with a calm clear explanation of why these points don't hold water.

Public Education: A Love Story    
Finally, Nancy Flanagan with a personal reflection for Public Schools Week. Your must-read of the week.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Making Up My Mind Edition (3/1)


What Ever Happened To AltSchool?

You remember AltSchool, the miraculous Silicon Valley technoschool that was going to Change the Game. We've checked in on them from time to time, and it's time to see what has happened since the Altschool ship ran aground on the shores of reality a while ago. After two years of tinkering and tweaking, AltSchool burst on the scene with a flurry of PR in 2015 . Founded by Max Ventilla, formerly of G

FEB 27

How Do High Expectations Change A Classroom

Teachers know that expectations matter. They know that having high expectations in a classroom can both support (“I know you can do this”) and spur (“I’m not going to accept your bare minimum effort”) students. The power of teacher expectations is part of every college’s Teacher 101. But modern education reform has weaponized the term. “The soft bigotry of low expectations,” coined by Michael Ger
6 Things To Know About The Trump-DeVos Education Freedom Plan

As expected, Trump used a chunk of his State of the Union Address to plug a voucher-style program that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been pushing for months under the name “Education Freedom.” The Houston Chronicle reports that Ted Cruz pitched the plan to Trump ; Cruz has taken the lead on trying to turn DeVos’s dream into actual legislation . In fact, the Trump budget proposal favors t
Schools And Other Shared Public Spaces

One of my first jobs in education was minding the cassette player. The actual job was assistant marching band director, and my duties included chaperoning the freshman/sophomore bus to away games. It was the mid-80s, and the "good" schoolbuses in our district had built-in cassette players, and the students brought their favorite music, vying for control of the stereo that everyone had to listen to

FEB 25

Call for Federal Charter Transparency Law

We've been here before. For instance, in 2015 while Congress was wrestling with what would eventually become ESSA, Sherrod Brown introduced the Charter School Accountability Act , which had some modest goals-- require greater charter transparency, mandate some reporting from charter authorizers, and compel charter operators to talk to the community before opening up. The bill was promptly sent to

FEB 24

Montana and the Wall Between Church and State

Sarah Vowell is a fave of mine, with a fabulous grasp of US history and that special gift of being able to illuminate big ideas with the perfect specific detail, plus she has the gift of balance, of being able to recognize the god and the not-so-good, and most of, the gift of recognizing the humanity of the people she writes about. Her writing about colonial US history is excellent-- if you need

FEB 23

ICYMI: So Long, February Edition (2/22)

A reminder that you can help amplify the voices that you think need to be heard. Go to the original post and share with your network. Do your part to make sure folks are heard whose message speaks to you. Now for this week's list. Borrowing a Literacy Strategy from Band An interesting notion from Edutopia. After all, reading music is readin. "Reading in band has an additional hitch: Students have

FEB 22

Social and Emotional Learning Is Drawing Fire

I told you so. If you are of a Certain Age, you remember Outcome Based Education, the Next Big Education Thing of the 1990s . Its basic idea was to reduce education to observable behaviors-- all those lesson plans with "The Student Will Be Able To...," are artifacts of OBE. The architects were intent on reducing all learning to something cold, hard and observable instead of fuzzy objectives like "

NANCY BAILEY: There’s No “Science of Reading” Without School Libraries and Librarians, A Predictor of Student Success

There’s No “Science of Reading” Without School Libraries and Librarians, A Predictor of Student Success

There’s No “Science of Reading” Without School Libraries and Librarians, A Predictor of Student Success

The loss of libraries and qualified librarians in the poorest schools has reached a critical mass. Yet those who promote a Science of Reading (SoR), often supporting online reading programs, never mention the loss of school libraries or qualified librarians.
Ignoring the importance of school libraries and certified librarians delegitimizes any SoR. Children need books, reading material, and real librarians in public schools. If reading instruction doesn’t lead to reading and learning from books, what’s the point? Why should children care about decoding words if there’s no school library where they can browse and choose reading material that matters?
How do school districts prioritize reading when they shutter the only access some students have to books? Who will assist students when qualified school librarians are dismissed?
Across the country, as noted below, public school districts have chaotically closed school libraries and fired librarians. They have done this despite the fact that school libraries and qualified librarians are proven positive factors in raising reading scores in CONTINUE READING: There’s No “Science of Reading” Without School Libraries and Librarians, A Predictor of Student Success

Think school board races are sleepy? Not in Los Angeles, where big bucks and attack ads are flying - The Washington Post

Think school board races are sleepy? Not in Los Angeles, where big bucks and attack ads are flying - The Washington Post

School board races are ho-hum, right? Not in Los Angeles, where big bucks and attack ads are flying

If you think local school board races are sleepy electoral exercises, you have not been paying attention to Los Angeles.
A majority of seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education appear on Tuesday’s primary ballot. Millions of dollars in campaign contributions are flowing in. Some candidates have been attacked with false accusations, and, in one campaign, anti-Semitic propaganda.

The key issue: charter schools, and whether voters will elect a board that wants to help them expand in the district — or a board that does not.
More than $7 million has poured into campaigns — with most of it going to three candidates who support charter schools. Millions of dollars have come from people and groups outside California who support the expansion of charters, which are publicly funded but privately operated, and want to see them spread nationally.
Pro-charter forces are being funded substantially by a retired California businessman named Bill Bloomfield, according to the Los Angeles Times. He has spent nearly $2 million to help candidates who are pro-charter school. But in a letter to the Times, he said he was not acting as a “surrogate” for the political arm of the California Charter Schools Association, the Advocates. Instead, he said he was acting to help children.
Candidates who do not support the expansion of charter schools are funded largely by United Teachers Los Angeles. Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl has repeatedly called out “billionaires” who, he said in CONTINUE READING: Think school board races are sleepy? Not in Los Angeles, where big bucks and attack ads are flying - The Washington Post

Being The Black Male Educator That Students Wish They Had And Know They Need - Philly's 7th Ward

Being The Black Male Educator That Students Wish They Had And Know They Need - Philly's 7th Ward


Teaching is one of my greatest gifts. Seeing my mother’s life’s work as a teacher in Dekalb County created my blueprint for what the life of a “game-changer” looks like, and the many influential teachers I experienced during my time in Atlanta Public Schools helped me to nurture my own gifts along the way. 
I attribute my love for teaching to the influence of my first Black male educators: Mr. Gordon from F. L. Stanton Elementary School in Atlanta and my father. I didn’t realize the impact of having Black male teachers then, but I do now. They taught me invaluable life lessons that I not only use to this day, but I also incorporate them into my teaching. One important lesson they taught me was to know our history and to apply it.
Today, I’m able to incorporate Black history, Atlanta’s history and world history into my lessons—a skill that has helped me to connect people and to connect with people.


As a Black male educator, I don’t just get to talk about it; I have to be about it. Every day I have an opportunity to shift the narrative on how Black boys—who will grow into productive citizens like me—are accepted, treated, perceived and depicted in the world.
Black boys often show some of the highest levels of deficiency in areas CONTINUE READING: Being The Black Male Educator That Students Wish They Had And Know They Need - Philly's 7th Ward

Here's How Schools Are Preparing To Deal With The Coronavirus | HuffPost

Here's How Schools Are Preparing To Deal With The Coronavirus | HuffPost

Here’s How Schools Are Preparing To Deal With The Coronavirus
Districts across the country are asking how to prevent both the illness and disruptive school closures.

As the U.S. braces for a potential outbreak of the coronavirus, schools are grappling with a problem: How do you maintain a safe place for kids to gather and learn when the very act of gathering could make it unsafe?
The illness caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19, has sickened 84,000 people around the world and killed about 2,800. Only one person has died of the illness in the U.S. out of a few dozen cases, but already the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned Americans to start preparing for it to spread.
A national outbreak isn’t a question of if, but when, the agency said Tuesday.
School administrators are now asking themselves what they can do to prevent shuttering entire districts and significantly disrupting families’ lives. Many districts have sent home letters to parents to assure them they are taking the virus seriously.
The top tips schools are giving are simple: Stay home if you feel sick. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and water. Don’t touch your face. Disinfect common areas. Try not to share food.
The CDC is encouraging school administrators to keep local health officials apprised of any spikes in the number of people taking sick days.
As for perfect attendance awards? Ditch them, the agency says.
“Schools and classrooms are basically a breeding ground for germs. Kids come to school all the time with colds and fevers and all kinds of illnesses that the teachers get,” Dan CONTINUE READING: Here's How Schools Are Preparing To Deal With The Coronavirus | HuffPost

Black Futures Month – Parenting for Liberation

Black Futures Month – Parenting for Liberation
Parenting for Liberation
Black Futures Month 

Black Futures Month – Parenting for Liberation via @Parenting4Lib

At Parenting for Liberation, we believe that to truly manifest the dreams cast in the past, we must celebrate Black Futures—Black children. We launched our Black Futures campaign with a photoshoot in January inviting Black families to share what liberation looks, feels, smells like and how they embody liberation in their family. The photoshoot centered joy and play. Families played ball, blew bubbles, played with dolls, read books, sang on a karaoke mic, etc. The photoshoot disrupts many narratives around Black families and creates new possibilities for what liberation looks like. 

That is what liberation looks like—Black families playing together, CONTINUE READING:

Note from Trina: Parenting & Leading with a Grieving Heart – Parenting for Liberation via @Parenting4Lib

They say grief is like an ocean. Well on January 14, 2020, a volcano erupted under the waters of my heart causing a tsunami of grief for me when my daddy passed away unexpectedly. My dad, so full of life, my number one supporter, always rocking his Parenting for Liberation shirt was gone from this earth. Since then, I have been struggling to pick up the pieces of the wreckage, the pieces of my heart. These pieces are what keep me afloat when the waves of grief ripple in and try to take me under. From this collection, I created my own grief rituals that I wanted to share with folks who may also be grieving while parenting. While I embark on riding the waves of grief with the ebb and flow, I am also CONTINUE READING: 

This Black History Month’s Lesson: Joy – Parenting for Liberation via @Parenting4Lib

Make sure to check out A. Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez’s New York Times Parenting piece on centering Joy this Black History Month!

This Black History month, P4L has been thinking about futures and what it means to proclaim our joy publicly.

Trina reminds us “This is what liberation looks like — black families playing together, enjoying one another’s presence. This is what our ancestors fought for — our ability to be free.”

EdAction in Congress March 1, 2020 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress March 1, 2020 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress March 1, 2020

Lawmakers grill DeVos about 2021 budget proposal

House appropriators grilled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at a contentious Feb. 27 hearing. The Trump/DeVos budget proposal for fiscal year 2021, released earlier this month, would slash education funding by $6.1 billion—8.4 percent—compared to the amount Congress provided this year, which included significant increases in key programs like Title I and IDEA. Other budget lowlights include cutting and replacing key education programs with a block grant, robbing public schools of resources with yet another voucher scheme, and ending public service loan forgiveness. Tell your senators and representative to stand up for students and educators and reject these reprehensible proposals. TAKE ACTION

NEA member briefs lawmakers on lunch shaming

NEA member Marcie Villanueva was deeply troubled when she witnessed a cashier take a child’s lunch, throw it away, and replace it with a cheese sandwich, an apple, and milk. “I saw that look of distress come over that child’s face, and the cashier’s face said she was uneasy as well,” says Villanueva. But the employee had to follow the district policy: If a child’s meal account balance was $10 or more in debt, the meal had to be thrown out and replaced, even though the price of the regular lunch was still added to the child’s debt.
Villanueva delivered a straightforward message at a congressional briefing last week in the House: We can do better. Now the lead food service worker at Harlan Elementary School in Wilmington, Delaware, she started working in the field five years ago. Villaneuva urged legislators to take action to end lunch shaming, prevent students from going hungry, and keep school cafeterias from operating in the red. Congress can also help food service workers get access to the training they need. Urge your senators and representative to cosponsor the Improving Training for Food Service Workers Act. TAKE ACTION

Cheers and Jeers

By a vote of 213-195 the House passed the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 (H.R. 2339) by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to address the recent rise in tobacco use among students. The bill would extend FDA regulations on the sale, distribution, and use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
By a vote of 410-4 the House passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act (H.R. 35) by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) to designate lynching as a hate crime under federal law and correct a historic wrong.
Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Sam Graves (R-MO), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Glenn Thompson (R-PA), and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and John Tester (D-MT) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Public Schools Week resolution in their respective chambers.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Homework Gap Trust Fund Act of 2020 to help communities purchase wireless devices and ensure all students have access to the internet.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), chair of the appropriations subcommittee responsible for education funding, objected to the Trump/DeVos privatization agenda, noting that vouchers have a negative, statistically significant impact on educational achievement—i.e., more vouchers equals lower achievement.
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) raised concerns about the Trump/DeVos proposal to cut dozens of programs, including full-service community schools in her district.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) objected to the Trump/DeVos plan to stop breaking down preschool enrollment data by race and ethnicity, noting that black students comprise 20 percent of the preschool population and 50 percent of suspensions.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) noted the poor performance of many charter schools and asked Betsy DeVos what percentage are failing; she said she didn’t know.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) discussed the impact of the Trump/DeVos block grant proposal on teacher shortages—vacancies in her district increased from 195 vacancies last year to 235 this year.
Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) observed that the proposed Trump/DeVos voucher program does not include a nondiscrimination requirement.

EdAction in Congress March 1, 2020 - Education Votes