Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, August 9, 2020

CATCH UP WITH CURMUDGUCATION + ICYMI: Rising Anxiety Edition (8/9)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Rising Anxiety Edition (8/9)

Rising Anxiety Edition (8/9)

Just trying to hold it together? Join the very large and ever-growing club. Here's some reading to pass the time.

Kindergarten Reading Push: Still Problematic During the Pandemic 
Nancy Bailey with a reminder that the attempts to force littles to read before they're ready is still a bad idea.

Re: My Nomination for US Secretary of Education 
I said what I meant and I meant what I said. A while ago I nominated some folks for the post of Secretary of Education, including the JLV. Here he leans in and discusses his possible platform for the office, thereby further convincing me that he would be a good choice.

An Open Letter To American Society 
In McSweeney's, but nothing funny here. A teacher tallies off the many requests society has made of her.

An Open Letter To Teachers 
Mitchell Robinson offers some thoughts to teachers about returning in these angry times.

Parents are Flocking to Virtual Schools and Homeschooling. They'll Find a Minefield.
Sarah Jones at the New York magazine looks at the problems lurking out there for parents ready to make the leap away from public schools.

Should We Be Worried About Learning Loss In Early Childhood? 
I love this Rae Pica piece so much, I'm going to share a paragraph from it:

I’m sorry, but how devastating could it be? What learning, specifically, is being lost? The ability to meet unrealistic standards imposed on them by people who don’t understand child development, including the ridiculous expectation that they read and write by the end of kindergarten? The capacity to fill in worksheets or stare at a computer screen, or to take useless tests? The ability to handle pressure they should never have been exposed to in the first place?

Ed Reform Now spends $57,000 on Memphis election
Chalkbeat offers the tale of how this wing of DFER is still busy trying to buy school board elections.

Betsy DeVos: The Fox in the Hen House 
Retired teacher Tom Gotsill offers an op-ed in the Cape Cod Times. Includes a good capsule history of ed reform.

The Misguided Push To Reintroduce Standardized Testing During the Pandemic 
The NEPC newsletter offers a response to all those crazy policymakers calling for testing when we hit the ground.

Report: Are Charter Schools a Big Risk for Families  
This is me at Forbes. I offer it as a gateway to the Network for Public Education report on charter school closings. I've long said that one of the drawbacks of charters is their instability; here are some numbers to back that up.

"Test, trace and isolate" will be a fiasco in schools 
Op ed from, includes some of the same sort of thing I've heard often in my region--that people will absolutely refuse to cooperate with contact tracing.

The broken windows approach to teaching is breaking our schools.  
Victoria Theisen-Horner is over at Alternet talking about how no excuses schooling is bad news for everyone.

Pandemic Pods: Parents, Privilege, Power and Politics 
The latest Have You Heard podcast (there's a transcript too) looks at how the new pod fad looks a lot like the same old exercise of privilege by those who have it (and another tool for those who want to dismantle public ed).

It's time to debunk the myth of school choice   
Jen Gibson is in the Charleston (SC) City Paper pointing out that using the pandemic to defund public ed is not great, adding to problems that South Carolina has already had inflicted upon it.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Rising Anxiety Edition (8/9)


As Schools Reopen, Beware These Five Problematic Management Styles - by @palan57 on @forbes

Report: Are Charter Schools A Big Risk For Families? - by @palan57 on @forbes

Penn State Clamps Down On Covid
Pity the poor colleges and universities. If they can't entice students to return to campus in the next few weeks, they may face a financial armageddon. For many students, a gap year is looking pretty good right now. But colleges and universities have to somehow navigate the gap between "I'm not writing huge checks and taking out tons of loans just to cyber school" and "I am not ready to risk me li
There Are No Writing Prodigies: What That Means For Writing Instruction
Mozart was composing and performing at the age of 4. Shirley Temple made her first film appearance at age 3, and within two years was a film star. Pascal wrote a treatise on vibrating bodies at age 9. Trombone Shorty was leading his own band at age 6. But there are no child prodigies in writing. No classic novels composed by a six year old. No world-altering essays written by some young person in
GA: Bad Cover-Up Management In Times Of Crisis
For years, I worked for an administration whose philosophy about any problematic or controversial issue was, "If we don't talk about it, the public won't notice and this will all blow over in a while." It was a terrible management philosophy, not just because it was dishonest and unfair, but because it failed. It failed hard. Every. Single. Time. See? Doesn't everything look better now? People alw
Cyber Outsourcing
It's a sort of cyber school bait and switch that has implications for students and teachers in public schools. Let me offer a specific example of how it works, courtesy of my old school district. On the district web page , you'll find a flyer for the newly christened Franklin Area Virtual Academy, a "100% online option for families." The flyer is a nice single page, including some photos of Frankl
Viral Overconfidence
Well, this is an interesting piece of research. A new paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that overconfidence can be transmitted socially, that being around overconfident people rubs off on other folks. As with most psycho-social research, the experimental designs leave room for considerable debate, and there are plenty of needles to thread. I find it interesting that the tran
Catholic Church Looks To Cash In On Espinoza
Well, this is not exactly a surprise. Now that SCOTUS has poked another huge hole in the wall between church and state, and now that the Catholic Church and the Trump administration have been forging closer ties over support for school choice (aka getting tax dollars to Catholic schools), and now that Betsy DeVos is insisting that financial aid intended for public schools should go to private scho
Don't Waste Time
This is personal. You may want to move on. But I need to write this out because one of the people I would ordinarily talk it out with is not here. Merrill and I taught together for just under thirty years. We were the same age, but she had gotten a late start on her career, having first worked in the world of newspaper advertising, just one of the many parts of her biography that hinted at the tou
ICYMI: August Already Edition (8/2)
So, here are some things to read. Is the push to reopen schools really a plot to dismantle them ? Accountabaloney listens to some bonus content from Have You Heard that lays out how DeVos has set up a pandemic win-win for 


Jack Schneider: Is Homeschooling The Next Big Thing? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Jack Schneider: Is Homeschooling The Next Big Thing? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Jack Schneider: Is Homeschooling The Next Big Thing?
Jack Schneider is a historian of education. In this post, which he wrote at my request, he analyzes the new push for homeschooling. In the midst of the global pandemic, with millions of children quarantined at home, its not surprising that parents are compelled to be teachers. But how many parents will want to homeschool when real schools are one day available again?
Schneider writes:

Never let a good crisis go to waste. As any policy advocate knows, the destabilizing nature of an emergency creates a rare opportunity: sweeping change can happen quickly.
Both parties have a history of exploiting difficulties and disasters. During the Great Recession, for instance, the Obama administration pushed through a series of heavy-handed federal education reforms that might otherwise have met with stiff resistance. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the most ambitious education proposals have come from Republicans, because the shuttering of schools has played to their advantage.
With state revenues shrinking before our eyes and CONTINUE READING: Jack Schneider: Is Homeschooling The Next Big Thing? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Andy Hargreaves: The Education Technology We Will and Won’t Need After the Pandemic | Diane Ravitch's blog

Andy Hargreaves: The Education Technology We Will and Won’t Need After the Pandemic | Diane Ravitch's blog

Andy Hargreaves: The Education Technology We Will and Won’t Need After the Pandemic
Andy Hargreaves is an internationally renowned scholar and author who taught for many years at Boston College. He wrote this article about education technology for Valerie Strauss’s blog “The Answer Sheet.”
I previously posted a presentation that Andy delivered at an international conference in South Korea, where he described his vision of the future post-pandemic. It was brilliant and points in the direction we should be heading.
Strauss writes about Andy (who is a personal friend of mine):
Hargreaves is a research professor at Boston College and visiting professor at the University of Ottawa who has been working for decades to improve school effectiveness. He has been awarded visiting professorships in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Sweden, Spain, Japan, Norway and Singapore. And he is past president of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement.
Hargreaves founded and serves as co-president of the Atlantic Rim Collaboratory, or ARC, a group of nine nations committed to broadly defined excellence, equity, well-being, inclusion, democracy and human rights. He has consulted with numerous governments, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, universities and professional associations. He has written more than 30 books — and received CONTINUE READING: Andy Hargreaves: The Education Technology We Will and Won’t Need After the Pandemic | Diane Ravitch's blog

Why I'm OK with my kids "falling behind" in school during the pandemic |

Why I'm OK with my kids "falling behind" in school during the pandemic |

Why I'm OK with my kids "falling behind" in school during the pandemic
Even with our many privileges, the meritocracy is still a sham. Basic needs are taking priority over acing the SATs
If being born into Generation X ever gave me anything, it has been a lifetime of training in lowered expectations. And as we chaotically hurtle toward the start of a new school year in the midst of a still explosive health crisis, my slacker parenting technique has never been stronger.
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a feature on a now all-too-familiar theme. "Worried your kid is falling behind?" the headline blared. "You're not alone." As the Times explained, "As kids start school with more online learning, parents wonder whether they'll ever catch up. Here's how to set them up for success." Granted, the article advised moms — surprise, no fathers were interviewed — on "creating fun, low-key learning opportunities," but the phrase "falling behind" nevertheless appeared three times in the body of the article. 
It was the same day my younger daughter's high school scheduled a virtual town hall to discuss plans for the new academic year. The school's invitation added, "This will help us in planning the most successful learning opportunities for your kids and providing you with what you need." 
There was that word again. Success. I've spent nearly two decades now shepherding my children from nursery school to university, and I have never gotten a satisfying answer to the basic question of how our educational system defines success. I sure as hell have even less of a concept of what constitutes success for our students right now. I only know that as far as I'm concerned, I believe what Bill Murray taught us in "Meatballs": It just doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter
A generation ago, I spent my third year of college in England, interning for a music weekly and trying not CONTINUE READING: Why I'm OK with my kids "falling behind" in school during the pandemic |

Virtual Learning Means Unequal Learning | The Pew Charitable Trusts

Virtual Learning Means Unequal Learning | The Pew Charitable Trusts

Virtual Learning Means Unequal Learning
Karen Reyes, who teaches deaf and hard-of-hearing children in Austin, Texas, worries about her first-grade pupils who will be learning online this fall. She’s concerned that virtual learning is harder for younger, special needs children, especially those who may not have as much support at home as students in more affluent communities.
“It has brought out a lot of the inequities in our district, especially in special education,” Reyes said of the distance learning program.
In her school, 93% of the students are considered economically disadvantaged, according to a city estimate.
“Either one or both of the parents have to work,” said Reyes, 31, who also is a leader in the local American Federation of Teachers chapter, in a phone interview. “That makes it even harder because small children need adults with them when they are learning.”
By contrast, in affluent Howard County, Maryland, in the outer Washington, D.C., suburbs, which is also going to virtual classes in the fall, many parents are scrambling to line up tutors to help their kids. Families also are banding together to form “pods” of children, with tutors whose rates can range from $70 an hour for tutoring one child to $29 an hour each for a pod of four.
Delaney Fox, who runs a small, independent tutoring and babysitting service in Howard County, said her phone is ringing constantly with potential clients.
“The demand?” she said. “It’s mass hysteria. We were getting calls during the Board of Ed meeting [when the remote learning policy was being set]. People wanted to be first on the list when it seemed like the board was voting that way. I’m trying to help as many people as I can.”
The contrasting examples illustrate what many educators and experts fear — that inequities in local school systems because of a lack of funding, technology or parental involvement will CONTINUE READING: Virtual Learning Means Unequal Learning | The Pew Charitable Trust

EdAction in Congress August 9, 2020 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress August 9, 2020 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress August 9, 2020

More talk, no action on next COVID package

On Friday, talks between congressional and administration leaders ended with no resolution. It is unclear if or when talks will resume. As they struggled to agree on a response to the mounting damage from COVID-19, enhanced unemployment benefits for 30 million Americans expired and a moratorium that puts 12 million renters at risk of eviction ended. For 11 weeks after the House passed the HEROES Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wasted time and did nothing. On July 27, he introduced an inadequate, unserious plan. Now, he refuses to join the negotiations.
Officially called the HEALS Act—a cruel irony—McConnell’s proposal does too little, too late about what students, parents, and educators care about most: reopening schools safely and equitably, providing meaningful distance learning, and bridging the gaps in state and local budgets that have already cost educators their jobs. Key provisions of McConnell’s proposal include liability protection, pressuring schools to reopen without regard to safety, and voucher-like schemes that rob public schools and the students most in need of scarce resources. Republicans do not have a unified position and the administration is not on board with much of what McConnell has proposed, further complicating Democratic efforts to agree on a bill.
It is unacceptable that McConnell and the administration do not and will not accept the reality and gravity of the crisis and what is needed to address it. Students, educators and the country will continue to suffer as a result of their dereliction of duty. We will continue making the case for what is needed, but to save lives, stem the economic decline, and begin the healing, the Republican-led Senate and administration need to stop playing games and help craft a bipartisan bill that can pass both chambers of Congress. The road to recovery truly does run through our schools and campuses. We are at a critical point. There is no time to waste. Please call your senators at 866-374-7034. 

These senators are standing in the way of funding to stabilize public schools

Nearly 2 million education jobs could be lost over the next three years if the Senate fails to act soon to close growing state and local budget gaps caused by COVID-19, an NEA analysis and state-by-state breakdown warned. These five senators are standing by as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to participate in negotiations and provide funding to stabilize our schools:
Susan Collins, Maine
So far, Sen. Collins has promised action on behalf of education, but there are no signs that she can succeed in moving McConnell to act on another COVID-19 relief bill. This has been a common complaint about Collins in the last few years: big talk, but little delivery on her words. Will she step up and deliver for the educators and students who are depending on Congress to help states stabilize schools? Maine educators and students sure need her now, with 11,000 educator jobs on the line in Maine alone.
Steve Daines, Montana
With Sen. Daines’ approval numbers slipping to 48 percent amid the pandemic, it is no surprise that educators in Montana feel their voices are not being heard, their students are going unrepresented, and over 7,000 jobs are on the line. Daines also filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of public funding for religious education in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The case could create a legal path for the expansion of voucher programs, further draining already scarce resources from the public schools that serve 90 percent of our nation’s students.
Cory Gardner, Colorado
Sen. Gardner has blocked the rights of educators for years, a situation that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Having previously received $49,800 from the DeVos family, Gardner has time and again supported an anti-public education agenda. Now, nearly 30,000 Colorado educator jobs are on the line.
Martha McSally, Arizona
While thousands of residents of Arizona suffered the physical and financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. McSally said that smaller cities and towns are on their own to receive funding. Instead of supporting additional funding to protect the 36,606 Arizona education jobs that could be lost over three years, she accused smaller cities of using pandemic relief as a “cash cow.” However, even with relief funding, many municipalities will still suffer from the impact of the pandemic. McSally has enabled McConnell’s obstructionism, leaving her constituents without the leadership and relief they need.
Thom Tillis, North Carolina
In a state that is projected to lose nearly 80,000 educator jobs over three years, one of the highest projections in the country, Thom Tillis has been missing in action. These educators and their families will be subject to one of the nation’s lowest unemployment benefits because of cuts made by Tillis. He has blocked Medicaid expansion and attempted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, even at the height of the pandemic.

Tell senators to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

Educators rally to pass the Voting Rights Amendment ActAugust 6 was the 55th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Voting Rights Act, key portions of which were invalidated in 2013 by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder. Recent primary elections in Wisconsin and Georgia were riddled with problems—polling place closures, long lines with hours-long waits, unfulfilled absentee ballot requests, and machine breakdowns—that could have been avoided if we had the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), a direct response to Shelby v. Holder, was recently reintroduced as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Lewis, the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, helped lead the historic 1965 march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama, that led to the passage and signing of the Voting Rights Act. The House passed the VRAA in December 2019, after a dozen hearings documenting the continued persistence of racial discrimination in voting. Now, it’s up to the Senate. TAKE ACTION

Cheers and Jeers

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) does not support filling a Supreme Court vacancy before 2021. “When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide,” she said. “If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it. So I would not support it.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced the Fair and Accurate Census Act (H.R. 7034) to maintain the expanded schedule designed Census Bureau staff to ensure all communities are fully and fairly counted despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 29 of his colleagues sent a letter urging Senate leadership not to condition receipt of education funds in the next coronavirus relief package on reopening schools for in-person instruction.
EdAction in Congress August 9, 2020 - Education Votes