Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, May 24, 2020


CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: A Year Older Edition (5/24)

A Year Older Edition

I had a birthday this week, but I feel pretty much the same. I might have taken a couple of half-days off, so let's see if the reading list looks any shorter.

After online learning flopped...
The continuing saga of failed online learning in Fairfax, VA, continues with a flood of Google-based student-on-student harassment.

Students think College Board is running a reddit scam
One fun side note to the great AP failure-- students believe there's a plant in reddit trying to sucker students in to incriminating themselves as cheaters. It's not going well.

The sheer number of districts is tilting the playing field
The New York Tims takes a look at how the   proliferation of mini-districts is creating equity issues in education.

Cuomo not inclusive in rebuilding education
Wendy Lecker is here to remind you that no matter how much you like his press coneferences, Andrew Cuomo is no friend of education.

Standards-Based Grading Must Die
Adam Sutton is at the Educator's Room with a scary picture of standards-based learning.

The reinvention schools need
In the New York Daily News, four teachers of the year push back on Cuomo's ideas about schools.

The future of K-12 schools isn't on line; it's in New Mexico
Jeff Bryant with an encouraging story of how community schools are envisioning the future.

Betsy DeVos and her hubby's political contributions
DeVos said her husband would stop his political funding once she was in office. That's not what happened.

Parents Behaving Badly: Censorship
The Citizen Teacher blog wit the tale of a parental attempt to remove a novel from the class. Instructive, and told with some wit.

Alexander questions DeVos guidance
The pandemic has unleashed Betsy DeVos as someone ready to bend the system to fir her personal agenda. Now she's actually getting push back from some GOP legislators, like Lamar Alexander.

Praxis at home? How about no Praxis at all?
I'm no fan of TNTP, but this time they have a point about scrapping the stupid Praxis test. Yes, I kn ow this is probably about their desire to de-professionalize teaching, but they aren't wrong here.

University of California drops SAT and ACT
The New York Times has the story of a sad day for the big test manufacturers.

Gates Foundation's Tactics to Remake Public Education During Pandemic Are Undemocratic
The Chronicle of Philanthropy takes a look at how Gates short-circuits democracy to do his thing.

The Role of Giant Philanthropy and Technocracy
Jan Resseger takes a deep dive into the issues represented by that whole dumb Cuomo-Gates thing.

Ignore the Vultures; Start Saving Schools
Accountabaloney takes a look at the current state of Florida education legislation. Not great.

College, Career and Cremation Benchmarks 
Akil Bello takes a look at the lunacy that is college and career readiness and the alleged benchmarking thereof by test companies.

In Search of the Great White Whale  
Dad Gone Wild with a slow thoughtful read about literature, Governor Bill Lee, vouchers, and a few other tidbits.

PA Wants You To Give A Standardized Test at Home
Steven Singer with a story of testing run amuck in the keystone state.

States of Shock: The Coming Budget Calamity
The Have You Heard podcast, complete with distinguished guests, breaks down the coming edu-finance mess and what could be done. (Transcript available for non podders)

Thinking Way Outside the Box
Nancy Flanagan with encouragement to face changes and new ideas for what's next.

A Note From Your University About Plans for Next Fall
McSweeney's does it again. Brief and hilarious and painful all at once.

Finally, I know we've seen a scadzillion of these things, but this happens to be two friends and former colleagues and their students from my former school and my adopted other former school, so I'm particularly delighted. Enjoy.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: A Year Older Edition (5/24)


Without The Big Standardized Test, Would Schools Be Flying Blind? - by @palan57 on @forbes

Changing To Personalized Learning Would Be Huge Mistake. What If We Tried Personalized Learning Instead. - by @palan57 on @forbes

MAY 22

Gifts for Grads and Dads
Shop great gifts for grads and perfect presents for dads in HP's Grads and Dads Gift Guide!
How Hard Are CDC Guidelines To Follow
So now everyone is freaked out about the CDC "guidelines" as reported on that blue meme that was going around. This, of course, was the point-- to sell the idea that public schools will be like prisons, so everyone should pull their kids out. Because in the spirit of never letting a crisis go to waste, there are folks from your neighbor with the tin hat all the way up to the US Secretary of Educat

MAY 21

Betsy DeVos Has, In Fact, Become Arne Duncan 2.0
When this originally ran at, there was still some qujestion about the premise. Since then I've updated it with new info from DeVos herself. For many conservatives, one of the greatest sins perpetrated by Obama’s secretary of education was using the powers of his office to bypass the legislature. Arne Duncan oversaw Race to the Top, which was instrumental in pushing Common Core and othe

MAY 20

19 Rules for Life (2020 Edition)
I first posted this list when I turned 60, and have made it an annual tradition to get it out on my birthday and re-examine it, edit it, and remind myself why I thought such things in the first place. I will keep my original observation-- that this list does not represent any particular signs of wisdom on my part, because I discovered these rules much in the same way that a dim cow discovers an e

MAY 19

Student-Run Start-Up Takes On Civics Education
When you pull up the front page for LexGen , it looks like many other slick, professional websites. It’s clean and open and focuses attention on the organization name and their goal— “to make civics education simple, fun and accessible.” Scroll through the site, and you see that LexGen has big goals. They are concerned about the level of civics education in this country and their rallying cry is

MAY 18

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,

MAY 17

ICYMI: Shorts and T-Shirt Edition (5/17)
So it's finally almost summery here, for what that's worth. We can at least sit out on the porch. Meantime, here's some stuff to read. Well, a lot of stuff, actually. Why High Stakes Testing Was Cancelled This Year Steven Singer looks at some of the less-obvious reasons the Big Standardized Test is 

‘So many kids were sad before this’ - The Washington Post

‘So many kids were sad before this’ - The Washington Post

‘So many kids were sad before this’

We are hearing increasingly about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the mental health of young people.
But as T. Elijah Hawkes, a veteran public school principal, explains in this post, it is important to remember that many of them weren’t doing well even before the crisis.
Hawkes is the author of the recently published book “School for the Age of Upheaval: Classrooms that Get Personal, Get Political, and Get to Work,” and was the founding principal of the James Baldwin School in New York.
His writings about adolescence, public school and democracy have appeared in numerous publications, and he has written two previous books, “The New Teacher Book” and “Rethinking Sexism, Gender and Sexuality.” You can follow him on Twitter @ElijahHawkes.
By T. Elijah Hawkes
I got the call in the middle of the afternoon. Schools had been closed for about a month. I’m sure some school principals got the call sooner, others not yet. A student was in the hospital, and it wasn’t the virus; it was a suicide attempt.
I knew the call would come because so many kids were sad before this. The social isolation and family stress of the covid-19 emergency are exacerbating what was already a crisis of youth sadness.
Earlier this year, not long before school closure, I remember a week when three students from my central Vermont school were in emergency rooms waiting for beds at facilities for adolescents in crisis.
The suicidal ideation we see in some children is an extreme, felt by a small but increasing minority. Varying degrees of hopelessness, however, are felt by many. Recent statistics are astounding.
In 2019, 40 percent of girls in my state reported prolonged feelings of sadness or hopelessness, so much so that daily routines of life were interrupted, according to the Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey. This was an 18-point increase over 2017. CONTINUE READING: ‘So many kids were sad before this’ - The Washington Post

‘I’m on edge all day long.’ Schoolwork a mere afterthought for homeless youth - The Hechinger Report

‘I’m on edge all day long.’ Schoolwork a mere afterthought for homeless youth - The Hechinger Report

‘I’m on edge all day long.’ Schoolwork a mere afterthought for homeless youth
As homeless youth attempt to shelter in place without a shelter, taking care of their basic needs and ingratiating themselves with their hosts take priority over distance learning.

On a recent weekend, Destiny, 17, spent an unusually sunny spring day canoeing near her temporary home in Western Washington. Technically homeless, Destiny has been staying with her grandmother. She went to sleep that night on the living room couch with a slight ache in her throat.

She woke with a start the next morning, drenched in sweat, with a fever over 100, her throat nearly completely closed.
Lacking a car to get to a nearby clinic, her grandmother dialed 911 for an ambulance. Paramedics quickly arrived, wearing face masks and shields and full-body hazmat suits.
“They were talking so loud because they couldn’t hear themselves,” Destiny said. “They came in, grabbed me and took me out to the fire truck. They kept telling me everything was OK, but I was in tears. I was so scared.”
At the hospital, nurses interrogated her: Where had she last traveled, who did she see in person recently, any signs of a cough? “When I didn’t give them the info they were looking for, they just stuck the swabs up my nose,” Destiny said. CONTINUE READING: ‘I’m on edge all day long.’ Schoolwork a mere afterthought for homeless youth - The Hechinger Report

EdAction in Congress May 24, 2020 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress May 24, 2020 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress May 24, 2020

COVID-19 bill passed by House stalls in Senate—for now

Senate Republican leadership is in no rush to take up—or even amend—the HEROES Act passed by the House despite the urgent need to help struggling families cope with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The longer Congress delays, the greater the likelihood we’ll see a repeat of the Great Recession, during which financially strapped state and local governments cut essential student services and laid off tens of thousands of educators. This time, the damage could be even worse.
The hallmark of the HEROES Act is $915 billion in direct relief for state and local governments that can be used pay educators and other vital workers. The bill also provides $90 billion to stabilize education funding, takes steps to narrow the digital divide and close the homework gap, and recognizes the pressing need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for educators and other frontline workers. Senators are back in their states for the Memorial Day “recess,” so it’s a good time to reach out. Make sure they know delaying action will only worsen our health and economic crisis. TAKE ACTION 

DeVos diverts COVID-19 funds to voucher schemes

Once again, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is making news for the wrong reasons. The headline of a New York Times story published on May 15—the same day the House passed the HEROES Act—sums it up this way: “DeVos Funnels Coronavirus Relief Funds to Favored Private and Religious Schools.” The ensuing story describes how she is diverting millions of dollars intended for public schools to voucher schemes repeatedly rejected by Congress—“microgrants” are just the latest example. The HEROES Act would prohibit using COVID-19 funds for voucher schemes and require DeVos to follow the law and provide equitable services. TAKE ACTION

NEA leaders urge congressional leaders to act

NEA’s leaders meet regularly with congressional leaders to help build support for our positions on the issues. Last Wednesday, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García participated in a virtual briefing with some 30 senators, led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), on the impact of COVID-19 on schools, students and educators—and what we need from the Senate. Last Tuesday, NEA Vice President Becky Pringle participated in a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) virtual teletown hall on how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting African Americans, along with CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-CA), House Education & Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL). Check it out!

Cheers and Jeers

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)sent a letter urging Betsy DeVos to rescind “equitable service” guidance on COVID-19 funding that “repurpose[s] hundreds-of-millions of taxpayer dollars intended for public school students to provide services for private school students, in contravention of both the plain reading of the statute and the intent of Congress.”
EdAction in Congress May 24, 2020 - Education Votes

Reopening Schools Is the Easy Part - The Atlantic

Reopening Schools Is the Easy Part - The Atlantic

For Schools, the List of Obstacles Grows and Grows

As schools around the world cautiously reopen, we in the United States are seeing an unsettling glimpse of our future. Some images filtering in from other countries are deeply depressing (French children cordoned off in white squares on a playground) while others evoke wary amusement (Chinese children in masks and handmade propeller beanies with four-foot wingspans). A few are actually inspiring (an outdoor music class in Denmark). Adults are now debating how and when American schools can safely reopen. What’s clear is that the educational landscape has incalculably changed, and not only in ways obvious from photographs.
To prevent the erosion of emotional and academic growth, especially in vulnerable children for whom school can be a lifeline, educators in the U.S. urgently need imaginative strategies that go beyond quirky hats and four-foot-square boxes. When children do return, K–12 schools and child-care programs should be guided by four core principles: knowledge of child development and all its variation; prioritization of the youngest and most vulnerable students; flexibility for families and teaching staff; and a shared sense of purpose and duty.
Whenever schools welcome students back, the logistical and pedagogical challenges will be enormous, and simply re-creating the pre-shutdown norm will be neither possible nor desirable. The pandemic has offered educators yet another reminder that the pre-coronavirus status quo didn’t serve every student well, and this tumultuous period might even offer new insights into how to remedy that.
Amid a rushed experiment in distance education, a small fraction of children appear to be doing fine—even better than when they were in school. An elementary-school principal in the Vermont town where my family lives recently used a farm analogy to describe the impact of remote learning on his students: CONTINUE READING: Reopening Schools Is the Easy Part - The Atlantic