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Friday, March 27, 2020

CURMUDGUCATION: Business and Humanity (When People Tell You Who They Are)

CURMUDGUCATION: Business and Humanity (When People Tell You Who They Are)

Business and Humanity (When People Tell You Who They Are)


It has been a central conflict in education for decades now. Should education be organized around the needs of the business world, guided by the invisible hand in service to The Economy.

We've heard it over and over again. Business is the customer for the product created by schools, so schools should be organized around cranking out the kinds of meat widgets that corporations want. And while we're at it, schools should be run more like a business, steered by visionary CEOs who don't have to answer to unions and government regulations. Data. Efficiency. Outputs. All of these things matter far more than all that fuzzy talk about whole children and, you know, education. We've been listening to it since A Nation at Risk cranked up the clarion call that the state of schooling was scary, not threatening our citizens' happiness or wisdom or humanity, but threatening our economy, our ability to compete globally. Our invisible hand is in danger of losing an arm wrestling match with their invisible hand.

We've known all along, some of us, that this is fundamentally wrong, not just anti-education, but anti-human (I've got literally several thousand posts on this blog about it).


And now we have arrived at the starkest expression of this business-over-humans attitude yet. Trump wants people to get back to work. Dan Patrick thinks that a few dead oldsters is a small price to pay for keeping The Economy humming along. The line-up of commentators arguing that, well, sure, human life is nice and all, but you have to balance that against a healthy economy-- well, it's staggering.

It's not new or surprising. I've argued for a while that many of the dysfunctions of our society exist because of the ways we have valued what's best for business over what's best for citizens. Yes, yes, yes, I know-- without a functioning economy of some sort, humans tend to starve. But without any functioning moral center, economies tend to rot from the center, doing a crappier and crappier job for more and more people while a handful of wealthy enjoy a nice massage from the invisible hand.

We've been trending more and more in the latter direction, which is how we arrive at the spot CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Business and Humanity (When People Tell You Who They Are)


Another Charter School Attempts A Hostile Takeover - Carl J. Petersen - Medium

Another Charter School Attempts A Hostile Takeover - Carl J. Petersen - Medium

Another Charter School Attempts A Hostile Takeover
Shirley Elementary is the latest LAUSD school to find its campus under siege by Citizens of the World. When will the district fight back?

First and foremost we have every right to stay here-Citizens of the World Charters Schools during a previous Prop 39 co-location battle
While one would think that finding a location would be the responsibility of the administration of a charter school, Citizens of the World Charter (CWC) could not be bothered. This chain of publicly funded private schools would rather leave that responsibility to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Using a provision of Proposition 39 that allowed charters to take over unused district space, CWC is trying to expand into the San Fernando Valley by forcing itself onto the campus of Shirley Elementary. The problem is that these spaces are vital to the successful programs at this neighborhood public school.
As noted by Board Member Scott Schmerelson, Shirley “is a shining example of how our public schools can be the anchor for surrounding communities.” In order to fulfill this mission, many of its classrooms are used for enrichment activities and services. These include a computer lab, a robotics room, an art and music room, a room for working one on one with students and space for afterschool programs. The Parent Center offers Adult ESL and Parenting classes and hosts meetings. Space is also provided for Mommy and Me classes that are offered to the community. However, since a teacher is not assigned to these rooms, the California Charter School CONTINUE READING: Another Charter School Attempts A Hostile Takeover - Carl J. Petersen - Medium

Congress responds to educators' calls for a COVID stimulus package that helps students and educators - Education Votes

Congress responds to educators' calls for a COVID stimulus package that helps students and educators - Education Votes

Congress responds to educators’ calls for a COVID stimulus package that helps students and educators


By Amanda Menas
America’s public schools are the economic engines of tens of thousands of communities across the country, providing not only quality education for students, but also jobs and community-sustaining economic benefits for millions of professionals. As lawmakers pressed forward in drafting a stimulus package to address the COVID-19 crisis, it was clear they heard educators’ warning that school closures forced by the epidemic could bring terrible consequences for students, families and local economies.
Last night, the Senate by a 96-0 vote passed the $2.2 trillion relief package that includes more than $30 billion in emergency education funding. The House is expected to pass it Friday. Key provisions expand unemployment insurance for laid off workers, provide direct stimulus checks to households, and provide student loan relief.

Coronavirus Relief Package Offers Up More Than $30 Billion For Education | 89.3 KPCC - https://www.scpr.org/news/2020/03/26/91431/coronavirus-relief-package-offers-up-more-than-30/
“Our economy cannot rebound if we do not address the immediate health crisis and prioritize support for educators, students and their families. The bill is not perfect, but it does address many urgent needs of our students, educators and schools,” said NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garc√≠a.
Last week, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a good first step that helps ensure that the 20 million students who rely on school lunches won’t go hungry, and protects educators who continue to work to help students and families through this pandemic. 
NEA’s government relations team worked night and day to ensure the needs of students and educators were addressed in this bill. Thanks in part to the thousands of educators who reached out to their senators, this new legislation builds on the initial work to protect workers now, and once this is over. However, educators will not stop here. In the coming weeks, they will advocate for more funding to address the homework gap to help with distance learning, housing and food insecurity, and student loan cancelation.
Here are six of the measures NEA pushed for in this current bill before Congress:

Provides immediate stimulus checks to households

Congress will send up to $1,200 to most adults, and $500 per child depending on family income to shore up those especially in need during this crisis. Many educators and parents will benefit from this funding, which will aid in combating the inequities that are negatively impacting communities of color and other marginalized people.

Creates a fund to boost learning opportunities for students

An Education Stabilization Fund was created to help fill emerging budget gaps, get more money into schools and the potential to help states avoid laying off educators in preK-12 and higher education. This could allow public schools to continue paying hourly workers like education support professionals (ESPs), and campuses to continue paying adjunct and contingent faculty who may lose paychecks with school closures.
The inclusion in this bill of an education stabilization fund was essential, but Congress must understand that tens of billions dollars more will be needed to truly support all students, counter the learning loss happening through school closures and prevent educator layoffs. 

Cancels student loan payments for six months

Following the announcement that monthly payments would be suspended and interest rates dropped to 0 percent, the new legislation provides relief for federal student loan debt for six CONTINUE READING: Congress responds to educators' calls for a COVID stimulus package that helps students and educators - Education Votes

1.5 billion children around globe affected by school closure. What countries are doing to keep kids learning during pandemic. - The Washington Post

1.5 billion children around globe affected by school closure. What countries are doing to keep kids learning during pandemic. - The Washington Post

1.5 billion children around globe affected by school closure. What countries are doing to keep kids learning during pandemic.



There are now nearly 1.5 billion children around the globe — or 87 percent of Earth’s student population — whose schools have closed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and more than 60 million teachers are home as well, according to a United Nations agency.
Schools in nearly 165 countries have shuttered, the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says, while education officials seek to scale up measures to help children and parents cope with the hasty shift to learning from home. One agency official said that students need not only academic support but also emotional support.

There were, as of Friday morning, approximately 540,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus around the world, with more than 24,000 deaths, including some 1,300 in the United States. Public life in most countries has virtually stopped in an attempt to stop the spread of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. UNESCO said some 1.52 billion students are out of school worldwide.
At a virtual UNESCO meeting this week, an ad hoc group of education ministers from 11 countries — Costa Rica, Croatia, Egypt, France, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru and Senegal — discussed efforts to keep education continuing with schools shut, and the challenges ahead.
“We cannot replace the presence of teachers and pedagogical relationships, but we have no choice and must do our best to support principals, teachers, parents and learners while ensuring their safety,” Italian Education Minister Lucia Azzolina said, according to UNESCO. “We are using social media tools to keep alive the relationship between teachers and students, and keep up their motivation.”
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said “the responsibility to act is a collective one” and announced the creation of a Global Covid-19 Education Coalition to bring together expertise from around the world to boost efforts in various countries to keep kids learning. One key focus should be on emotional skills, according to Stefania Giannini, UNESCO’s assistant director-general for education. CONTINUE READING: 1.5 billion children around globe affected by school closure. What countries are doing to keep kids learning during pandemic. - The Washington Post

What Students Are Saying About Living Through a Pandemic - The New York Times

What Students Are Saying About Living Through a Pandemic - The New York Times

What Students Are Saying About Living Through a Pandemic
Teenage comments in response to our recent writing prompts, and an invitation to join the ongoing conversation.


The rapidly-developing coronavirus crisis is dominating global headlines and altering life as we know it. Many schools worldwide have closed. In the United States alone, 55 million students are rapidly adjusting to learning and socializing remotely, spending more time with family, and sacrificing comfort and convenience for the greater good.
For this week’s roundup of student comments on our writing prompts, it was only fitting to ask teenagers to react to various dimensions of this unprecedented situation: how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting their daily lives, how we can all help one another during the crisis and what thoughts or stories the term “social distancing” conjures for them.
Every week, we shout out new schools who have commented on our writing prompts. This week, perhaps because of many districts’ move to remote online learning, we had nearly 90 new classes join us from around the world. Welcome to the conversation to students from:
Academy of St. Elizabeth; Abilene, Tex.; Alabama; Anna High School, Tex.; Arlington, Va.; Austria-Hungary; Baltimore, Md.; Bellingham, Wash.; Ben Lippen School; Bloomington, Ind.; Branham High School, San Jose, Calif.; Boston; Buffalo High School, Wyo.; Camdenton, Mo.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Collierville, Tenn.; Dawson High School, Tex.; Denmark; Desert Vista High School; Doylestown, Penn.; Dublin, Calif.; Dunkirk, N.Y.Eleanor Murray Fallon Middle School; Elmhurst, Ill.; Fairfax, Va.; Framingham, Mass.; Frederick, Md.; Hartford, Conn.; Jefferson, N.J.; Kantonschule Uster, Switzerland; Laconia, N.H.; Las Vegas; Lashon Academy; Lebanon, N.H.; Ledyard High School; Leuzinger High School; Livonia, Mich.; Manistee Middle School; Miami, Fla.; Melrose High School; Milton Hershey School, Hershey, Penn.; Milwaukee; Montreal; Naguabo, Puerto Rico; Nebraska; Nessacus Regional Middle School; New Rochelle, N.Y.; Newport, Ky.; Newton, Mass.; North Stanly High School; Oakland, Calif.; Papillion Middle School; Polaris Expeditionary Learning School; Pomona, Calif.; Portsmouth, N.H.; Pueblo, Colo.; Reading, Mass.; Redmond Wash.; Richland, Wash.; Richmond Hill Ontario; Ridgeley, W.Va.; Rockford, Mich.; Rovereto, Italy; Salem, Mass.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Seattle, Wash.; Sequoyah School Pasadena; Shackelford Junior High, Arlington, Tex.; South El Monte High School; Sugar Grove, Ill.; St. Louis, Mo.; Timberview High School; Topsfield, Mass.; Valley Stream North High School; Vienna, Va.; Waupun, Wis.; Wauwatosa, Wis.; Wenatchee, Wash.; Westborough Mass.; White Oak Middle School, Ohio; and Winter Park High School.
We’re so glad to have you here! Now, on to this week’s comments.
Please note: Student comments have been lightly edited for length, but otherwise appear as they were originally submitted.
CONTINUE READING: What Students Are Saying About Living Through a Pandemic - The New York Times

Desperate parents need help as coronavirus forces us into homeschooling

Desperate parents need help as coronavirus forces us into homeschooling

Desperate parents need help as coronavirus upends our lives
We’re all exhausted, some of us are going hungry, and more and more of us are getting sick
As an education reporter, I’ve watched hundreds of teachers lead classrooms and I’ve learned that their job is one of the hardest in the world. The best teachers seem to have endless supplies of energy, patience and creativity. They manage to inspire both love and awe, keeping kids simultaneously inspired and on task.
It’s a job I know I could never do myself. And yet here I am. Here we all are.
My 4-year-old and 6-year-old attend public school in New York City, which closed schools Monday, March 15, to slow the virulent spread of the coronavirus here. During the first week, our school sent home a handful of worksheets and some links to educational software and shows. I made a color-coded schedule accounting for every hour of the day that usually fell apart by 10am.
A week later, we were hit with a flurry of instructions about how to set up remote schooling on laptops and iPads in our homes (parents who needed devices were instructed to apply for them online, of all things). The Google Classroom page for my first grader included multiple assignments from multiple teachers, plus instructions on how to teach her to type in a pdf.
That first day seems like years ago. I feel exhausted and frayed by this new expectation that I add homeschooling to the already CONTINUE READING: Desperate parents need help as coronavirus forces us into homeschooling

Kennedy HS whistleblower sues charter group | The Lens

Kennedy HS whistleblower sues charter group | The Lens

Kennedy HS whistleblower sues charter group

A former charter school network administrator who was fired last year after alerting superiors to suspicious grade changes at John F. Kennedy High School, is suing the school’s charter operator — the New Beginnings Schools Foundation — citing the state’s whistleblower law. 
In the suit, the former administrator, Runell King, alleges he was fired immediately after threatening to go to the media when the charter group dismissed his concerns. 
The timing, the suit charges, suggests that his refusal to participate in apparent grade inflation, telling his bosses about it and then threatening to go public were why he was fired. 
King ultimately did go public with his concerns last year, shortly after his firing. In March 2019, he told The Lens that higher-ups at the New Beginnings Schools Foundation initially failed to conduct a thorough investigation into about a dozen instances of students’ grades being inflated at the Gentilly high school. Shortly after the story was published, the network’s board authorized a new investigation, which eventually uncovered much deeper problems at the school. 
The network’s internal investigation — along with work by a contractor hired to help manage the network and probes by the state and NOLA Public Schools district — uncovered widespread mismanagement, special education problems and student CONTINUE READING: Kennedy HS whistleblower sues charter group | The Lens

Ohio Legislature Allows Continued Growth of EdChoice Vouchers in Schools Where EdChoice Now Operates | janresseger

Ohio Legislature Allows Continued Growth of EdChoice Vouchers in Schools Where EdChoice Now Operates | janresseger

Ohio Legislature Allows Continued Growth of EdChoice Vouchers in Schools Where EdChoice Now Operates


Both chambers of the Ohio Legislature came into session on Wednesday to pass an omnibus “coronavirus” bill, which sets the date of the now delayed primary election, waives mandated standardized testing in schools that have been closed during the pandemic emergency, and allows seniors to graduate from high school as long as they were on track to graduate before their school was closed.
The bill also freezes the threatened April 1, 2020, expansion of the number of Ohio’s public school buildings where students can qualify for an EdChoice voucher. The Statehouse News Bureau‘s Karen Kasler reports: “The legislation freezes the number of EdChoice buildings at 517, the same number as this school year—though new rules on criteria for determining whether a building was failing and the students were EdChoice eligible were supposed to have that number soaring to over 1200.”  The number of EdChoice Designated public schools was supposed to have jumped on February 1, but in late January, unable to agree on a plan, members of the legislature gave themselves a two-month extension until April 1.  By acting on Wednesday to freeze the number of voucher-eligible buildings, legislators at least blocked what would have been next week’s massive expansion of the program.
However, the legislature’s EdChoice freeze on the number of eligible buildings will slow but not stop the number of new vouchers students are taking from their local school districts through something called “the school-district deduction.”
In a statement on Wednesday, the  President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, Melissa Cropper explains why the emergency bill, passed on Wednesday to stop the number of voucher-eligible schools from exploding to 1,200 on April 1, won’t solve the problem for school districts: “The Ohio (Legislature) took action today to freeze building eligibility for EdChoice CONTINUE READING: Ohio Legislature Allows Continued Growth of EdChoice Vouchers in Schools Where EdChoice Now Operates | janresseger

CURMUDGUCATION: Why Teach Literature Stuff: #3 Knowing Stuff Is Useful

CURMUDGUCATION: Why Teach Literature Stuff: #3 Knowing Stuff Is Useful

Why Teach Literature Stuff: #3 Knowing Stuff Is Useful


When I was teaching, and I had extra time on my hands, I would reflect on the work--the whys and hows and whats. So in solidarity with my former colleagues, I'm going to write a series about every English teacher's favorite thing-- teaching literature, and why we do it. There will be some number of posts (I don't have a plan here).

Also, it would be nice to write and read about something positive, and I don't know anything much more positive than what teachers do and why they do it.

It is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that school is about taking material in so that one can just spit it out again on command, like some bites of vegetable that one holds in ones mouth but neither chews nor swallows.

But it is useful to know stuff. Not in a get a good score on the test way, but in a live your life way. Yes, it's useful because it helps you understand the world and how to be in it (see #2). But there's more to it.


You can see patterns, and see that this thing over here is a lot like that thing over there. You can see that events over here are unfolding much like those events way back then. In my years in the classroom, I taught an awful lot by analogy, by examples. The foundation for that was my old-fashioned liberal arts education; I know a little bit about a lot of things, but not everything about anything. And to be able to pull in connections that meant something to my students, I read up on current youth cultury stuff (for a while I knew waaaayyyy more than I wanted to about The Hills).

I know a little bit about a lot of things the only way someone can-- I read. And that has made a difference in my ability to see patterns and similarities and differences, which are all things you CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Why Teach Literature Stuff: #3 Knowing Stuff Is Useful

Audio: The Biggest Distance-Learning Experiment In History: Week One | 89.3 KPCC

Audio: The Biggest Distance-Learning Experiment In History: Week One | 89.3 KPCC

The Biggest Distance-Learning Experiment In History: Week One


For 6-year-old Sadie Hernandez, the first day of online school started at her round, wooden kitchen table in Jacksonville, Fla. She turned on an iPad and started talking to her first grade teacher, Robin Nelson.

"Are you ready to do this online stuff?" her teacher asks, in a video sent to NPR by Hernandez's mother, Audrey.

"Yeah," Sadie responds.
"It's kind of scary isn't it?"
"Kind of."

Sadie's teacher reminds her that they'll be using the educational software that she is already familiar with from her face-to-face classes at Ortega Elementary School: "It's iReady, so we've got that. And we've got WritingCity. And now you know how to meet me in the morning."

Every state has closed at least some public schools to fight the spread of coronavirus, and some are starting to say they expect to be closed through the end of the school year.
Thrown into the breach, public schools are setting out on an unprecedented experiment: With little training and even fewer resources, in a matter of days they're shifting from a system of education that for centuries has focused on face to face interaction, to one that works entirely at a distance.

Diana Greene, the superintendent of Duval County Schools where Robin Nelson teaches, sent an email to her staff on Friday, March 20 that illustrates the magnitude of the effort educators around the country are faced with:

"It is amazing to me that it was just 3 days ago that we made the decision to close CONTINUE READING: 
Audio: The Biggest Distance-Learning Experiment In History: Week One | 89.3 KPCC

Please Don’t Call It ‘HOMESCHOOLING’ | The Merrow Report

Please Don’t Call It ‘HOMESCHOOLING’ | The Merrow Report

Please Don’t Call It ‘HOMESCHOOLING’

Now that nearly all public schools have closed their doors because of Covid-19, about 50 million school-age children are being ‘Homeschooled,’ and parents are being told that they should be dividing their children’s days into time periods for academic subjects and following lesson plans. That’s how The Today Show approached the subject recently, giving parents a step-by-step map, the first step being “Set Up School.”  That’s exactly the wrong advice, in my view, a recipe for failure on every level.
Unfortunately, it’s not just The Today Show, because a lot of school systems seem to be reflexively behaving as if they could simply transplant school’s routines to the home.  Some are emailing or posting lesson plans that they expect students (and parents) to follow. Distance Learning and on-line instruction are all the rage, but most of this seems to be “same old, same old”–the straightforward presentation of information.  While these may be understandable responses to the crisis, they’re not particularly helpful in my view.
While anxiety is understandable, it’s healthier to look for the opportunities that Covid-19 is creating.  Let’s begin by abandoning the term ‘Homeschooling,’ because no one should be trying to turn homes into schools.  Schools are organized for crowd control and group instruction, which is why they have established periods of time for individual subjects, bells, and lesson plans in order to run smoothly. Homes don’t need bells, et cetera.
But don’t take my word for it, because there’s plenty of sensible advice out there, including this: “Learning doesn’t have to take the form of worksheets and spelling tests. Young children have such a strong desire for knowledge. If you can trust them to lead the way, you may be surprised by how they choose to spend their time and where their curiosity takes CONTINUE READING: Please Don’t Call It ‘HOMESCHOOLING’ | The Merrow Report

NEA Tele-Town Hall with Lily Eskelsen Garc√≠a on COVID-19   - NEA Today

NEA Tele-Town Hall with Lily Eskelsen Garc√≠a on COVID-19   - NEA Today

NEA Tele-Town Hall with Lily Eskelsen García on COVID-19




Understanding the need for clear and accurate information during a time that’s filled with fear and uncertainty led NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garc√≠a to host a tele-town hall meeting on March 25 with more than a thousand association leaders around the country.
While there was much to celebrate on the call—from the valiant efforts of educators who are continuing to teach and support students to the announcement of NEA’s 2020 ESP of the Year—there was also business to conduct.


“The NEA building is closed during this national emergency, but…we’re working by phone, email, and any way to maintain connections [and] we’ve been working day and night to protect our members, students, and our communities,” says Eskelsen Garc√≠a, who was hunkered in place in her home.
The hour-long call focused on policy, advocacy, and legislation, including the $2 trillion stimulus plan out of Congress. Here are some key takeaways:

Policy: Testing, Students with Disabilities, Student Loans, and Meals.

  • Testing: The U.S. Department of Education has offered some flexibility, specifically for K-12 (higher education to come), on testing and accountability requirements for the 2019-2020 school year. The Every Student Succeeds Act requires annual testing as an accountability measure of student and school performance. However, states can apply for a waiver and bypass standardized testing. So far, well over half of the states have received a waiver—and every state is eligible to apply.
  • Students with disabilities: Additionally, the education department released guidance around supporting students with disabilities and underscored that schools “should not opt to close or decline to provide distance instruction, at the expense of students, to address matters pertaining to services for students with disabilities.” Schools must provide a free and appropriate public education to those with disabilities, the fact sheet states, but the way that’s achieved during a coronavirus-related closure might be different. Educators and parents should work together to find ways to meet students’ needs through digital platforms, over the phone as well as through low-tech options like instructional packets and projects.
  • English language learners: While the department of education has yet to release guidance on how to support English language learners, NEA is urging school officials to include this population as part of their planning.
  • Student loans: All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for a period of at least 60 days. Plus, each of these borrowers can apply to postpone their payments for at least two months, temporarily stopping their payments without worrying about accruing interest. This is retroactive to March 13, when the national emergency was declared. Lastly, wage garnishments and collection actions will be held for any borrowers who were moving into a default status.
  • Meals: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made it easier for all 50 states and U.S. territories to ensure students have meals. The implementation of how students will get fed has now moved to state, district, and school level decision makers.

Advocacy: Keep Pressure on Congress.

Members of Congress have seen first-hand how educators quickly work to make sure students are supported—even during a national emergency—as well as how public schools are the economic drivers for employment and the economic vitality of communities CONTINUE READING: NEA Tele-Town Hall with Lily Eskelsen Garc√≠a on COVID-19   - NEA Today