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Monday, May 18, 2020

A Privatization Fever Dream for Post-Crisis Public Education | The New Republic

A Privatization Fever Dream for Post-Crisis Public Education | The New Republic

A Privatization Fever Dream for Post-Crisis Public Education
Millions of students are now learning from home, and pro-charter, anti-teacher forces are trying to seize the moment.

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his state will partner with the Gates Foundation to “reimagine education.” “The old model of everybody goes and sits in a classroom, and the teacher is in front of that classroom and teaches that class, and you do that all across the city, all across the state; all these buildings, all these physical classrooms; why, with all the technology you have?” he asked at the briefing. It was a revealing, troubling question.

Meaningful education is built on connection, and fostering relationships requires proximity. This is what a classroom does. It’s a space for students to establish relationships while experimenting with being in public. And while we don’t yet know the details of Cuomo’s plan, there’s reason to be suspicious. The Gates Foundation’s top-down approach to education reform, along with Cuomo’s history of supporting charter schools, inconsistency around unions, and exclusion of New York City educators from the project’s council, suggest a deeply undemocratic push to defund and privatize the public school system.

American public schools—“all these buildings, all these physical classrooms”—are cultural spaces as much as they are physical locations. Cuomo’s reimagining threatens to flatten public education into informational transaction, turning teachers into tech support in the process.

We have long struggled, as a country, to use technology to provide public education at scale. In the first half of the nineteenth century, an English schemer named Joseph Lancaster sold a system of mechanized mass schooling across the continent. Replacing all but one teacher per thousand children with older student “monitors” and teaching reading and writing through drilling, dictation, surveillance, and repetition was cheap, but it made education hollow. The system relied on conformity and demonstration of short-term results through testing. (Sound familiar?) In New York City, a Lancasterian school was the first in the city to be funded by tax revenue, in part because the Public Education Society, the Department of Education’s predecessor, was won over by the idea of a clean, efficient system for the masses. But Lancasterian schools lacked soul and, in turn, integrity. They relied on strict adherence to rules, behaviors, and mannerisms; as public interest in funding education grew through the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Public Education Society’s dominion waned. In 1916, after the Lancasterian system fell out of favor, one critic wrote, “What this experiment did especially exemplify is the insufficiency of CONTINUE READING: A Privatization Fever Dream for Post-Crisis Public Education | The New Republic

Andrea Gabor: States Should Not Forsake the Neediest Children When Setting Budgets | Diane Ravitch's blog

Andrea Gabor: States Should Not Forsake the Neediest Children When Setting Budgets | Diane Ravitch's blog

Andrea Gabor: States Should Not Forsake the Neediest Children When Setting Budgets

Andrea Gabor spells out what many educators and parents fear: the collapse of state revenues will endanger our most vulnerable children. After 20 years of pouring billions into testing and consultants, let’s see how many “reformers” demand smaller classes and insist on protecting school funding.
How many state leaders will have the will and the courage to protect the children?
She begins:
The New York State budget recently signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered a one-two punch to public schools. It wiped out the benefits of $716.9 million in federal stimulus aid and hit poor school districts hardest
New York’s double-whammy could be replayed in states nationwide as the coronavirus pandemic devastates state and local finances. In Massachusetts, business groups are recommending that the state delay meeting the obligations of last year’s ground-breaking school-funding law, which called for $1.5 billion in extra spending over CONTINUE READING: Andrea Gabor: States Should Not Forsake the Neediest Children When Setting Budgets | Diane Ravitch's blog

Teaching Remotely During the Pandemic | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Teaching Remotely During the Pandemic | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Teaching Remotely During the Pandemic
Cartoonists have acerbic pens. read some storiesIn the New York Times, kindergarten teacher Rachel Miller in Georgetown, Massachusetts described teaching her class from home.
Last week, I ran my first virtual small-group kindergarten class. We read a book, practiced our letters and sounds, and did some math; all this to the tune of a dying, chirping fire detector, the clanging of dishes being put away, a dog barking and radio silence from the child whose audio wasn’t working. One student would disappear and return carrying her cat, then lie down on the couch, while another wriggled and squirmed, clearly uncomfortable in his too-big chair.
It was every bit as awkward and wonderful as I’d imagined. Not only did I see my kids, but I saw my kids in one of the most authentic ways possible: at home, in their space, with their families (and pets). Don’t get me wrong. Virtual teaching and learning is less than ideal. But I’m beginning to get a glimpse into the lives of my students outside of school in a way that has never been possible. Also, they saw my dog walk by in the background, and it dawned on them that teachers have houses and families, too.
In public schools across the United States, we rush and race to get through content to prepare students for a standardized test. All of it feels (dare I say, is) inauthentic and procedural, but on that Thursday, as I sat in my kitchen with three of my kindergartners, in all of its awkwardness and discomfort, all I felt
CONTINUE READING: Teaching Remotely During the Pandemic | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

The Brothers Grim: Bill and Mike’s Pandemic Panopticon – Wrench in the Gears

The Brothers Grim: Bill and Mike’s Pandemic Panopticon – Wrench in the Gears

The Brothers Grim: Bill and Mike’s Pandemic Panopticon

Bill and Melinda Gates have leading roles to play in the unfolding drama that is Covid-19. Everything seems to be advancing according to Davos’s plan. The soon-to-be trillionaire couple has provided useful cover for their fellow billionaires, the ones backstage pulling the ropes that will drop the Fourth Industrial Revolution scenery for the techno-fascist second act. Even now a chorus line of contact tracers assembles in the wings. In short order they’ll take center stage – donning newly minted digital certificates of compliance and indoctrination.
This post is about one of the production’s underwriters, Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg, in coordination with New York governor Andrew Cuomo, paid Johns Hopkins to choreograph this viral surveillance roll out with the Rockefeller Foundation looking on from the royal box.
John’s Hopkins School of Public Health uploaded a digital contact-tracing training module to Coursera this week. The videos therein are meant to ensure synchronized fidelity of the chorus’s high-kicks across state lines. Almost 130,000 people signed up in the first week. Free enrollment, while CONTINUE READING: The Brothers Grim: Bill and Mike’s Pandemic Panopticon – Wrench in the Gears
Bloomberg Philanthropies Covid 19 Contact Tracing

Teaching across an abyss of silence |

Teaching across an abyss of silence |

Teaching across an abyss of silence
In the classroom that Zoom built

Do you hear that silence?
That's the absence of footsteps echoing through our nation's public school hallways. It's the silence of teaching in a virtual space populated with students on mute who lack a physical presence. It's the crushing silence of those who are now missing, who can't attend the classroom that Zoom and Google built.
Maybe you heard the shouted pleas of teachers across the country last year as we walked out of our classrooms and into the streets, begging for affordable housinghealth care, and access to equitable funding and resources for our students? Or maybe you heard the impassioned screams of frightened kids as they stormed into the streets and onto the news, demanding safety and an end to the threat of gun violence in our nation's school buildings? Now, there's nothing left to hear.
Today, all we're left with is a deafening silence that muffles the sound of so much suffering. The unfolding public health, mental health, and economic crisis of Covid-19 has laid bare the fragility of what was. The institutions charged with caring for and guiding our most valuable assets — our children — were already gutted by half a century of chronic underfunding, misguided curricular policies that prioritized testing over real learning, and social policies that favored austerity over taking care of the most vulnerable members of our society. Now that so many teachers are sequestered and alone or locked away with family, our bonds of proximity broken, we're forced to stare into that void, scrambling to find and care for our students across an abyss of silence. The system is broken. The empire has no clothes.
Not so many weeks ago, I used to be a teacher in a sprawling public high school outside Portland, Oregon. Before the virus arrived, I taught painting, drawing, ceramics, and filmmaking in three different studio classrooms. There, groups of students ranging across the economic, ethnic, religious, racial, CONTINUE READING: Teaching across an abyss of silence |

The Training Wheel Fallacy for Teaching Writing – radical eyes for equity

The Training Wheel Fallacy for Teaching Writing – radical eyes for equity

The Training Wheel Fallacy for Teaching Writing

The Swamp Rabbit Trail System is a paved multi-use path running from the city of Greenville, South Carolina to Travelers Rest, to the north. As an avid road cyclist, I venture onto the trail occasionally since it runs near my university and allows a somewhat relaxed ride, free of the threat of car traffic (except for the crossings).
Riding a bicycle is often discussed as if it is a universal experience and a skill once learned, never forgotten. As a serious cyclist for well over thirty years, I can attest that observations along the Swamp Rabbit Trail offer a data set that leads to a different theory.
Riding a bicycle requires two essential skills, pedaling and balancing the bicycle. When I see small children and inexperienced cyclists along Swamp Rabbit, I see an oddly similar struggle—cyclists wildly fighting the steering by swinging the handlebars aggressively and pedaling in ways that are counter to gaining momentum and balance.
A stark sign of a less than competent cyclists is the weaving motion as the cyclist approaches, a dramatic contrast to the rail-steady balance of experienced riders. But the oddest thing I see in beginning and inexperienced cyclists is trying to start off by placing one foot on a pedal with the crank arm down and then frantically lifting the other foot to start the pedaling with the crank arm that is up.
That technique is a recipe for disaster, but when successful, those first pedal strokes are combined with some pretty awful weaving that covers the space two or three experienced cyclists could fit into easily.
Holding your line (riding rail straight) and riding without your hands are some CONTINUE READING: The Training Wheel Fallacy for Teaching Writing – radical eyes for equity

The Lochner Era & "Substantive Due Process" (Part One and Part 2) | Blue Cereal Education

The Lochner Era & "Substantive Due Process" (Part One) | Blue Cereal Education

The Lochner Era & "Substantive Due Process" (Part One)

The Lochner Era (Introduction)

City Bakeries

There are several periods in the history of the Supreme Court in which tend to be remembered for an overall approach and lasting impact rather than for a specific case or two. Often they’re simply referred to by the name of the Chief Justice at the time – the Marshall Court of the early 19th century promoted federal power in the early days of the United States, the Warren Court discovered a slew of new rights and protections for the accused in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Roberts Court…
Well, it’s a bit early to make that call.
The Lochner Era (1897 – 1937), however, is named for a case representing a judicial philosophy which dominated the nation’s highest court for nearly forty years. For over a generation, the Court pushed back against the reform efforts of the Progressive Era and gave FDR fits by overturning many of his best efforts to regulate industry during the Great Depression. They laid the foundation for the modern “school choice” movement by uncovering new rights related to parenting and families. In the process, they brought to life an understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment that would end up securing the rights of American citizens to contraception, gay sex, and abortions.
Who saw THAT coming?

The 20th Century Begins

The Spanish-American War was over, the U.S. was quickly becoming a leader in imperialist expansion, and World War I wasn’t yet a twinkle in the Kaiser’s eye. The Second Industrial Revolution was in full swing; massive manufacturing and swelling CONTINUE READING: The Lochner Era & "Substantive Due Process" (Part One) | Blue Cereal Education

The Lochner Era & "Substantive Due Process" (Part Two)

NOTE: If you haven't already done so, you should probably start with Part One of this post. I mean, I can't force you or anything, but...

“Economic Substantive Due Process” in the Lochner Era

Lochner Era Court“School choice” wouldn’t emerge onto the national scene until after Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the various forays into moral corruption and social decay wouldn’t become staples of the nation’s highest court until a decade after that. The rest of the Lochner Era was largely about how freedom meant letting corporations do whatever they wanted to workers because those being exploited had just as much theoretical control over the outcome as their gilded overlords did. (They didn’t put it in those exact terms.) Between 1897 – 1937, the Supreme Court struck down nearly 200 different statues, most as violations of “freedom of contract” or other violation of “economic substantive due process.”
The Court acknowledged in principle that state and even sometimes federal government had some limited authority to regulate workplaces in order to promote safety and the general welfare, but only in cases involving explicit physical danger. Efforts to regulate mining, for example, might have a chance; restricting the hours during which one could safely bake bread, on the other hand… not so much.
Any such regulations should avoid restricting “market choices”; they couldn’t interfere with the ability of men to sign up for whatever working conditions they choose at whatever wages are available. The Lochner Era had little use for Congress’s claims to CONTINUE READING: The Lochner Era & "Substantive Due Process" (Part Two)

YONG ZHAO: Can and Should Creativity be Assessed? Ep1 of Creativity in Crisis - Education in the Age of Globalization

Education in the Age of Globalization » Blog Archive » Can and Should Creativity be Assessed? Ep1 of Creativity in Crisis

Can and Should Creativity be Assessed? Ep1 of Creativity in Crisis

Creativity in Crisis: Prisoners of Our Own Imagination

Toward getting past our own imagined fears and toward realizing our creative potential.

A Bi-weekly Live Conversation about Creativity and Education on YouTube.

11am-12pm first Fridays US Pacific Time (Each Month)

Hosts: Ron Beghetto and Yong Zhao



Human creativity has gained heightened recognition in the 21st century as a means of helping us navigate the uncertainties of an increasingly complex and changing world. Despite decades of research, many fundamental issues about creativity remain unsettled. This is particularly true when it comes to cultivating creativity in educational settings. There is often a disconnection among the various stakeholders of creativity and education: creativity researchers, education researchers, policy makers, educators, parents, creative professionals, and the general public.  Even though there is wide recognition that we are all capable of approaching teaching, learning and life more creatively, we often find it difficult to get past our own imaginations and fears of trying out new ideas and creative approaches in education.

Creativity in Crisis aims to build a bridge among the different stakeholders, to serve as a platform for the various groups of stakeholders to share and exchange ideas using a more commonly accessible medium rather than academic papers, conference presentations, or workshops, which are often attended to by separated communities of practices.

Creativity in Crisis is also intended to make public the disagreements, debates and different views that exist among researchers. Furthermore, the show aims to synthesize current perspectives from and beyond the field of creativity studies — highlighting what we know and what we don’t know so as to develop a deeper understanding of creativity in and beyond educational settings.

Design and Format

We envisioned the show as a curated exhibition of different, and even contradictory, perspectives on significant issues related to creativity and education

Every 10 episodes make one thematic volume. Each volume follows a theme. Each episode focuses on a significant topic concerning creativity and education. 

For each episode, the hosts present their propositions, assumptions, conjectures about the chosen focal question. The guests are invited to engage with and even refute them in spirited conversation aimed at leading us to deepening our understanding of creativity-related topics and provoke new insights and perspectives.

Creativity in Crisis guests are selected based on the following criteria.

Expertise: The guests have deep knowledge of the topic to be discussed.

Diversity of Perspectives: The guests represent different perspectives and professions.

Multi disciplinary: The guests are from a wide range of disciplines (e.g., psychology, education, creative industries, etc.)

Creativity in Crisis: Prisoners of Our Own Imagination

11am-12pm first Fridays US Pacific Time June 05 2020 Episode 1
As creativity becomes an increasing significant attribute/ability for students today, there is an increasing call for assessment. Is it possible to assess creativity? Are there any creativity assessments that have TRULY the power to predict individuals’ creativity capacity in the future? Are there any meaningful ways to assess creativity that is actually productive?
Furthermore, as schools and education systems began to struggle with creativity assessment, large international organizations such as the OECD has also begun to seriously consider creativity as an important educational outcomes. OECD’s Program for International Students Assessment (PISA) has announced that it will start creativity assessment in 2021. If you are curious, here is the 2021 PISA Creative Thinking Framework.
So, our first episode of Creativity in Crisis: Prisoners of Our Own Imagination is about creativity assessment. We will explore two large issues:
  1. What are the potential promises and pitfall of large scale creativity assessment of school-age children (e.g., PISA Creativity Assessment)?
  2. Even if we can assess creativity using international comparative assessments, should we?
Joining us are two scholars who are certainly more than qualified to explore the questions: James C. Kaufman and Bill Lucas.
James C. Kaufman is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. He is the author/editor of more than 35 books, including Creativity 101 (2nd Edition, 2016) and the Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (2nd Edition, 2019; with Robert Sternberg). He has published more than 300 papers, including the study that spawned the “Sylvia Plath Effect,” and three well-known theories of creativity, including (with Ron Beghetto) the Four-C Model of Creativity. He is a past president of Division 10 of the American Psychological Association. James has won many awards, including Mensa’s research award, the Torrance Award from the National Association for Gifted Children, and APA’s Berlyne and Farnsworth awards. He co-founded two major journals (Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the CONTINUE READING: Education in the Age of Globalization » Blog Archive » Can and Should Creativity be Assessed? Ep1 of Creativity in Crisis

What’s with Cuomo and Others Advocating for a “Shock Doctrine” Shift to Online Education? | janresseger

What’s with Cuomo and Others Advocating for a “Shock Doctrine” Shift to Online Education? | janresseger

What’s with Cuomo and Others Advocating for a “Shock Doctrine” Shift to Online Education?

We need to figure out a way to open public schools in the fall.
Parents are going to need to go back to work, and children need supervision, routine, intellectual stimulation and the socialization that comes with going to school.  And, as we have been observing during these recent months, for millions of children, the public school is the only institution positioned to provide opportunities that may be unavailable at home.
A lot of what I am reading about reopening schools and childcare centers, however, addresses some important needs of adults without carefully considering the developmental needs of the children who will be served.  And some of what is being promoted addresses the priorities of the promoters themselves without considering what is needed for the students.
The agenda of Jeb Bush, Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates falls in that last category.  Back in 2007, two years after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Naomi Klein published a book about promoters and philanthropists who took advantage of the New Orleans disaster by pushing desperate politicians to adopt public policies that would benefit the promoter’s ideological obsession or, in some cases, the promoter’s bottom line.  In The Shock Doctrine, Klein explains: “In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid was brought back online, the auctioning off of New Orleans’ school system took place with military speed and precision.  Within nineteen months, with most of the city’s poor residents still in exile, New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools… New Orleans was now, according to the New York Times, ‘the nation’s preeminent laboratory for the widespread use of charter schools…. I call these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities, ‘disaster capitalism.'” (The Shock Doctrine, pp. 5-6)   You will remember that the state’s seizure of New Orleans’ public schools and the eventual creation of an all-charter school district experiment was helped along by a big grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with grants from several other foundations.
This same sort of temptation to repurpose a catastrophe seems to have taken possession of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Last week he announced a plan to work with with Bill CONTINUE READING: What’s with Cuomo and Others Advocating for a “Shock Doctrine” Shift to Online Education? | janresseger

CURMUDGUCATION: AEI's Back To School "Blueprint"

CURMUDGUCATION: AEI's Back To School "Blueprint"

AEI's Back To School "Blueprint"

Everyone has ideas about how schools can re-open again, from thoughtful and responsible educators to gun-waving loons on the steps of capitals. So why not have the American Enterprise Institute take a shot at it by calling together a reformsters' roundtable to look at the issue.

The blueprint brought together a "task force" loaded with familiar names-- Chris Cerf, Sharif El-Mekki, Kaya Henderson, Candice McQueen, Nina Rees, Gerard Robinson, Andrew Rotherman, Hanna Skandera and John White, to name a few. But hey-- they aren't waving guns or yelling threats at people in masks, so that makes them part of the rational part of the right tilted world, so let's see what they've come up with.

Let me begin with a digression on the nature of thinky tanks

Rick Hess and John Bailey are the nominal authors of this, and I want to pause for a moment to note that they offer an actual explanation for why thinky tanks should even be messing with this kind of thing:

At times like this, think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute can play a constructive role. Because we are not burdened with the day-to-day responsibilities of serving students and families, we have the luxury to look further ahead. We can also bring together experts and veteran leaders who are versed in the particulars of what schools are facing and give them a platform to share their recommendations and guidance. Equally important, we can do all this with a degree of autonomy and independence, which can be more difficult for professional associations or partisan entities. 

The "this is our only job" argument is indeed part of the thinky tank raison d'etre; not having CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: AEI's Back To School "Blueprint"

What Happens to a Neighborhood When a School Closes? – Next City

What Happens to a Neighborhood When a School Closes? – Next City

Neighborhood When a School Closes?
Author and scholar Andre Perry digs into how one shuttered elementary school in a majority-Black neighborhood has maintained its community connections.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities,” by Andre Perry, published by Brookings Institution Press. In it, the author takes readers on a tour of six Black-majority cities whose assets and strengths are radically undervalued — a legacy of the structural racism that has characterized American capitalism. Here, he revisits his former primary school in Wilkinsburg, outside of Pittsburgh, which closed in 2012 and has found new life as a business and community incubator.

Mom’s husband possessed a car, a luxury for families on my block. My brothers, friends, and I bobbed joyously on the sidewalk next to his tan sedan, ecstatic about the first day of school at Johnston Elementary in Wilkinsburg in 1975. That tan car and that first day are some of my earliest memories growing up in Wilkinsburg. Usually, Teddy left for work before the break of dawn. But that day, he must have wanted to extend to us that luxury and celebrate our first day of school. After a three-month summer break, the day after Labor Day represented an un-calendared holiday in the ’hood. In Black America, an education represents freedom in a literal and metaphorical way—a real opportunity to escape the hardships of life.
Abolitionist, statesman, and civil rights leader Frederick Douglass once said that denying a person an education means adding another link in the chain of their servitude. Quoting his owner in his book Life of an American Slave, Douglass wrote, “If you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave.” Mom would always tell us to get as much education as we could. She didn’t necessarily show us how in deed; she only had an eighth-grade education. But she always encouraged the kids toward academic achievement.
It was the month before I turned five. Knowing me, I probably clung to my brother Kevin’s side. I remember the sense of security he provided. And Kevin already had two years of school under his belt, so he was accustomed to school; that day meant something different for him. My lifelong friend Dave Brown, who was also starting kindergarten with me, joined us beside the car, along with a few other children on the block. I remember piling inside Teddy’s car, sans seatbelt, with our parents in the front.
I have a vivid memory of passing the school as we found a place to park. We all moved to the driver’s side window. Jaws dropped as we slowly passed the sturdy, three-storied, concrete facility, which sat along one of the busiest intersections in town just off the highway. I remember thinking the school was enormous. In reality, it was fairly large. The entire facility takes up 45,000 square feet and housed twenty 900-square-foot classrooms, a playground, and ample parking space.
Whereas the trip to the school was rowdy, we held silence on our walk up the steps, in awe of the school. I recall my anxiety and how I looked for Kevin; when he was nowhere to be found, I clutched Mom’s hand for support. The concrete steps leading up to the entrance seemed so big at the time, and they probably were for a five-year-old. But Mom was there for me. Looking back, schools represented some of the most loving and violent places in my life. In high school, the regular fights in Wilkinsburg reflected a divestment of the civic and social infrastructure of Wilkinsburg. However, I deeply treasure the memories of parents rallying for their children throughout my time in Wilkinsburg schools.


Schools are linchpins of a community’s overall physical landscape and what researcher Eric Klinenberg defines as social infrastructure: the physical places and organizations that shape the way people interact. Schools in cities are located mostly for convenience. People can walk or drive to them fairly easily. It’s why we use them as polling stations and for neighborhood association meetings. Many students have fun on the playgrounds when the school is closed. In addition, a school’s vitality helps support the economy; they employ numerous workers, many of whom are middle-class professionals. And they help hold the history and culture of a place through yearbooks, trophy cases, and photo archives. School traditions often connect one generation to the next, providing a sense of CONTINUE READING: What Happens to a Neighborhood When a School Closes? – Next City