Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, May 10, 2020

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Mothers Day Edition (5/10)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Mothers Day Edition (5/10)


Mothers Day Edition 

We got some take-out brunch at our house, so my wife is having what appears to be a delicious quiche (I'm not a good judge of egg-based foods) and we're going to try to ignore the return of winter. In the meantime, here's some reading for you. It's a pretty rich week-- enjoy.

Appeals Court Decision Guarantees Basic Literacy as a Right
Jan Resseger looks at the recent court decision that could change everything (if SCOTUS doesn't reverse it first).

Play, Playishness, and STEM in Preschoo
Teacher Tom has some thoughts about the unquenchable adult desire to use faux play as a cover for teaching stuff.

Let's Teach in Pajamas Forever 
Jose Vilson has seen the light. Never mind those school buildings-- let's all stay home forever.

Eva Mosckowitz's Success Academies Still Churning 
The indispensable Mercedes Schneider notes that Success hasn't stop firing and hiring, because they have to have that fresh meat, COVID be damned.

More Coronavirus Relief for Private Schools 
Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat explains how Betsy DeVos has used some creative reading of the rules to steer even more relief money to private operators.

TN governor still moving ahead on school vouchers 
Also Chalkbeat. The court may have struck down Bill Lee's voucher plan, but he doesn't much care. He's pushing ahead anyway.

Punching Down on Veteran Teachers
Nancy Flanagan looks at some of the folks who were not operating in the spirit of Teacher Appreciation Week. Not a fun list.

Fewer people pursuing teaching in New Jersey
There's a new report out looking at the health of the teaching profession in NJ. The report is from Mark Weber, so you know it's rigorous yet in clear English, but this piece gives you the simple, sad basics.

Educational Crises and Ed-Tech: A History  
Audrey Watters delivered a look back at how various crises have driven ed tech attempts to Change Everything. Yeah, the current attempt is not the first.

Fuck The Bread. The Bread Is Over.  
Don't freak over the title. This piece from Sabrina Orah Mark in the Paris Review is just beautifully written, about worth and worthiness and function and-- just read it.

Screen New Deal 
Naomi Klein (Shock Doctrine) was watching with considerable alarm when Andrew Cuomo announced that he was asking the billionaire technocrats to "build a high-tech dystopia." This is not a short read, but if you're only going to read one thing on the list this week, this should be your pick.

The Four Horsemen   
Greg Sampson blogs about the horsemen of Florida's education apocalypse. Yes, only four--well, five, actually.

The real Lord of the Flies   
Not directly related to education, but what a great albeit long forgotten story. In 1965 a group of six school boys were stranded on an island, for about fifteen months. Encouraging


CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Mothers Day Edition (5/10)

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How To Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week During The Pandemic Shutdown - https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergreene/2020/05/05/how-to-celebrate-teacher-appreciation-week-during-the-pandemic-shutdown/#a0f0f286129c by @palan57 on @forbes

Why Bill Gates Is Not The Man To Reimagine New York Education - https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergreene/2020/05/08/why-bill-gates-is-not-the-man-to-reimagine-new-york-education/#5cf009079cc6 by @palan57 on @forbes


Backpack Full of Misdirection

Jeanne Allen called it a backpack full of cash, strapped to the back of each student, who would carry it from school to school like a young mule. It's the child's money. It's the family's money. The money should follow the child. It has been the reformster mantra for years, and it is enjoying a comeback as we discuss very particular dollars, i.e. the stimulus dollars being thrown at the country to

MAY 07

"I Didn't Learn Anything"

Two stories for Teacher Appreciation Week. Story One: At the very beginning of my career, I taught middle school students. Then one year I finally moved down to the high school and, to make the transition a bit easier, I taught many of the students as ninth graders that I had also taught as middle schoolers. At the beginning of units, I often did a quick-and-dirty check for understanding. I'd ment

MAY 06

High Stakes Testing Is A Huge Threat To Post-Covid Education

High stakes testing and the relentless use of Big Standardized Test score as a proxy for everything we want from an education system--well, it has always caused problems. It has led to a terrible narrowing of education (if that class isn't On The Test, then why bother supporting it or even offering it). It has provided a large-scale demonstration of Campbell's Law , in which a measurement is mista

MAY 05

PA: The House Speaker Wants Schools Open

Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai has never been a friend of public education in the Keystone State, and he has generally been pretty clear about it. But Monday he got extra Mike Turzai-ish when posting a six minute video attacking the state education head, teachers, schools, and teachers . Just for context, let me mention two things-- Turzai is not running for re-election to the House, and h

MAY 04

Oh, Jeb! Give It A Rest.

The vultures are out in force at this point, jostling for the chance to make big bucks by picking at what they hope is the corpse of traditional public education. Education? There's an app for that, and we've got it! So it makes perfect sense that one of the grandaddies of the drive to disrupt and dismantle education would be in the Washington Post yesterday , making his pitch for "the education o

MAY 03

ICYMI: What? May?! Really??! Edition (5/3)

Well, here we still are, those of us who are fortunate enough to still be here. Let's read some things! When teaching and parenting collide I missed this when it landed at Chalkbeat a month ago-- Matt Barnum looks at teachers who have to balance virtual teaching and at-home parenting. Teachers, parents and principals tell their story Over at The Answer Sheet on the Washington Post, Carol Burris ru

MAY 02

Another Voucher Angle: Child Safety Accounts

It's one of the less common buttons pushed by reformsters intent on pushing school choice, and it might be one of the most backwards pitches out there. Child Safety Accounts seem to be particular baby of the Heartland Institute, a thinky tank that leans way right. Their mission: "to discover, develop and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems." They are big advocates for the

MAY 01



Trump Teams Up With Catholic Church For School Vouchers

The Tablet is a magazine of Catholic news and opinion; they got their hands on a recording of the April 26 conference call phone meeting between some 600 prominent American Catholics and the "best [president] in the history of 

The School Year Really Ended in March (Susan Dynarski) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

The School Year Really Ended in March (Susan Dynarski) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

The School Year Really Ended in March (Susan Dynarski)


Susan Dynarski is a professor of education, public policy and economics at the University of Michigan. This article appeared in the New York Times May 10, 2020.
School-age children across America are struggling to learn under challenging conditions. Some, no doubt, have made real progress.
But it’s time to admit that, for the vast majority of students, online learning and work sheets are no substitute for trained teachers in classrooms.For most children, the school year effectively ended in March.
If the country doesn’t recognize this fact and respond accordingly — with large federally funded programs to reverse the losses — we will do great harm to a generation of children who will learn less than those who went before them. They will read and write more poorly and be less likely to graduate from high school and college. The resulting shortage of highly trained workers will hamper the economic recovery and intensify earnings inequality.Educators, parents, students and schools are doing what they can in a harrowing situation. But for most students it isn’t nearly enough, and the United States will need to marshal enormous resources to get education back on track.
About a third of the school year has been sacrificed to the pandemic. Consider that a year of U.S. public education costs about $400 billion. That implies that about $133 billion may be needed to make up for lost instructional time.*
That’s a lot of money, roughly equivalent to the cost, in today’s dollars, of the CONTINUE READING: The School Year Really Ended in March (Susan Dynarski) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

NANCY BAILEY: Ask Moms How to Reimagine Public Schools!

Ask Moms How to Reimagine Public Schools!

Ask Moms How to Reimagine Public Schools!


I want my public schools to help children discover their unique gifts and talents so they may enter the world with confidence and purpose.
~Lyn Franklin Hoyt, Mom and Public School Advocate
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other power brokers, plan to remake public schools. The timing is right to ask the mothers of America, of which I am one, how they would like to reimagine public schools after the pandemic is over.
Moms and teachers hold the key to how schools should run. They’re closest to the student.
For Mother’s Day, I asked Moms what they wanted from their public schools. I collected their comments and added a few of my own. Feel free to add to the list.
  1. The Arts. All schools must provide arts education. Music, painting, dance, acting, students thrive with exposure to a rich arts program.
  2. Assessment. Drop the high-stakes standardized testing! Mothers know these tests were never about their children. Moms started the Opt-Out Movement! Have less assessment and more teacher-chosen tests to determine student progress.
  3. Cafeterias. Parents hope for better food for their students and a better dining CONTINUE READING: Ask Moms How to Reimagine Public Schools!

What We Lose When We Go From the Classroom to Zoom - The New York Times

What We Lose When We Go From the Classroom to Zoom - The New York Times
What We Lose When We Go From the Classroom to Zoom
Like other utopian dreams, the fiction of equality has its value.


When life was normal, my students and I gathered in classrooms.

My favorites are the small intimate ones where we face each other around a seminar table and conversation flows easily. Midsize classes meet in a square room with windows along one side. Around this time of year it becomes unbearably hot in the afternoon, as the spring sunshine streams in. My students slouch drowsily in those uncomfortable chairs with built-in desks, arranged in haphazard rows, while I pace at the front of the room, trying to arouse their interest in some arcane anthropological subject. Sometimes I’m successful. Introductory classes are held in a large lecture hall, and from my vantage point at the bottom of the room, I see rows of students fanned out neatly before me. I recently started wearing prescription glasses so I could distinguish their faces, which were beginning to smudge together as a result of encroaching middle age.

Each type of classroom presents distinct challenges and pleasures, but they all have one thing in common. In these classrooms, students meet one another as apparent equals. They sit in the same chairs.

Now we have lost our classrooms and, I fear, something vital along with them.

At the entrance to the building on the Queens College campus in Flushing, Queens, where I have taught for 14 years, I am greeted with a quote by the cultural critic bell hooks: “The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created.” In the book from which these words are taken she continues: “The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility.”

When City University of New York campuses shut down, I hastily began turning the remaining lectures for my 130-student CONTINUE READING: What We Lose When We Go From the Classroom to Zoom - The New York Times

CURMUDGUCATION: Backpack Full of Misdirection

CURMUDGUCATION: Backpack Full of Misdirection

Backpack Full of Misdirection


Jeanne Allen called it a backpack full of cash, strapped to the back of each student, who would carry it from school to school like a young mule.

It's the child's money. It's the family's money. The money should follow the child.

It has been the reformster mantra for years, and it is enjoying a comeback as we discuss very particular dollars, i.e. the stimulus dollars being thrown at the country to fix everything. Betsy DeVos has been reminding us that she has always believed that money should be tied to "students, not systems" as she does her level best to turn education stimulus money into a windfall for private and charter schools.

So it's worth remembering that the whole rhetorical device of money following children is a kind of genius bit of misdirection. Two points.

First, "the money follows the child" one ups the old passive voice trick of who's actually performing the action here. What's that money there behind you, Pat? I don't know, Mom. It just sort of followed me home.

The money follows the child. It's tied to the child. Something something empowered family. It's money that has just sort of appeared rather than having been collected from taxpayers for a specified purpose and destination. And somehow it is magically divided up into shares-per-student, something that doesn't happen with any other pile of taxpayer money (Where is my share of the CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Backpack Full of Misdirection

EdAction in Congress May 10, 2020 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress May 10, 2020 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress May 10, 2020


DeVos uses COVID-19 to push failed privatization agenda

Betsy DeVos isn’t focused on the looming crisis in education funding, educators’ need for personal protective equipment (PPE), or students’ need for internet access so they can do schoolwork at home. Instead, she’s using the coronavirus crisis to push her failed privatization agenda with schemes like “microgrants”—just another name for vouchers—and extra help for private and religious schools. “It is shameful that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would use a pandemic like the coronavirus to, once again, push her failed privatization agenda to defund public schools,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garc√≠a.
In short, Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration are pushing privatization when the focus should be state budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic—and what those massive shortfalls mean for the public schools that educate 9 out of 10 students. NEA is asking Congress for an additional $175 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund created by the CARES Act—the $30.7 billion authorized thus far is not nearly enough. The non-partisan National Governors Association is calling for even more—an additional $500 billion in direct relief to state and local governments. But Congress needs to hear from us. Right now. A decade ago, during the Great Recession, state and local governments scrapped essential student services and laid off tens of thousands of educators. We can’t let that happen again. TAKE ACTION

ESPs and other frontline educators need PPE

“We have used the district’s funds for PPE, when they could’ve been used for more meals and technology,” said Vanessa Jiminez, an education support professional in Phoenix, Arizona, at an NEA teletown hall on May 7 with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). As part of the next COVID-19 legislative package, NEA is seeking at least $56 million for personal protective equipment (PPE) for education support professionals and educators in direct contact with students. These professionals are continuing to prepare and distribute meals; clean, maintain, and secure school buildings; oversee technology needs; and perform other vital work during the pandemic. They should be considered frontline workers whose jobs are essential, and that means having PPE to protect themselves, as well as their families and communities, from infection.  TAKE ACTION

Equip students to do schoolwork at home

As part of the next COVID-19 legislative package, NEA is pushing Congress to help narrow the digital divide and close the “homework gap”—the inability to do schoolwork at home due to lack of internet access. Nationwide, as many as 12 million students are affected—roughly 1 in 5. A disproportionate share of those students are African-American, Hispanic, live in rural areas, or come from low-income families. NEA supports the Emergency Educational Connections Act, which would provide up to $4 billion for a special fund, administered by the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program, to equip students to do schoolwork at home during the COVID-19 national emergency. TAKE ACTION

Cheers and Jeers

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) is leading a “Dear Colleague” that asks Democratic leadership to include at least $175 billion in education funding in the next coronavirus bill.
Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) led a bipartisan letter urging the inclusion of increased Secure Rural Schools funding in the next COVID-19 package.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a new Title IX rule that undercuts protections for victims. “[She] ignored the voices of not only educators from public schools and higher education institutions, but also those of students who wrote to her about the chilling effect the proposed changes would have,” said NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garc√≠a.
EdAction in Congress May 10, 2020 - Education Votes