Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, September 6, 2020

CATCH UP WITH CURMUDGUCATION + ICYMI: Labor Day Weekend Edition (9/6)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Labor Day Weekend Edition (9/6)

Labor Day Weekend Edition 

While you're enjoying your socially distant cookouts and celebrations this weekend, take a moment to thank the labor movement that made things like weekends possible. In the meantime, here's some reading from the week.

This Teacher Turned Remote Learning Into A Road Trip  
There are many cool parts to this story (including the part where her administration greenlights it, because administrators who say yes to things are a real treat). 3000 miles on the road for this Texas history teacher, remote teaching a la Carmen Sandiego.

Robot Teachers, Racist Algorithms, and Disaster Pedagogy  
Audrey Watters is doing guest spots in classes, and here's one of her most recent, touching on algorithms, the British grading scandal, racist AI, and other ed tech shenanigans. Always, always worth the read (and you should be subscribing).

Biden and Democrats Turn Away from Two Decades of Test-Based Accountability
Jan Resseger takes a long, thoughtful, and optimistic look at the evolution of the Democrats on the whole ed reform biz.

Borrowers Demand Answers About Blanket Denials of Loan Forgiveness   
Remember that federal loan forgiveness program where your college loans are supposed to be forgiven if you were the victim of fraud by a predatory for-profit college? Remember how DeVos simply refused to actually truly implement it, and then the court slammed her for it and told her to get on with it, or else? Here's an update, and it is going about as well as you'd expect.

The Myth of Charter Schools and Local Control   
Carl Peterson takes a close look at a candidate for the LAUSD board who has some thoughts about school management that don't quite match how she helps run a charter school.

Arizona Charter Schools Can Double Dip
Laurie Roberts at the Arizona Republic is pretty steamed about how Arizona charters cashed in on the PPP program, and the state is okay with that.

Pasco's Future Crimes Division  
Not directly tied to education, but more about the creeping surveillance state. From the Tampa Bay Times, a look at a sheriff's program for stopping crime before it happens. Exceptionally creepy and appalling.

Success Academy Delays In-Person Learning Till January  
I included a couple of these just because some folks are trying hard to push the narrative that teachers' unions are the force behind the closing of school buildings. And yet, it seems that some folks who aren't the Evil Union are also shifting to distance.

Cyberattacks persist ; K12 a Florida mess
Miami-Dade schools have a variety of problems. Come to this Miami Herald story for the district screw-ups (still no signed contract with K12) and stay for the reminder that increased online learning means increased exposure to hackers etc.

Idaho Considers Dropping Common Core   
Williamson Evers at the Independent Institute pens a pointed response to one of Mike Petrilli's ubiquitous Common Core cheerleading op-eds. Not in 100% agreement, but he does bring some heat.

Standardized Testing: Indispensable to Those Who Are Not Subjected To It
The indispensable Mercedes Schneider offers a good vivid portrait of the Big Standardized Test. I love a good extended simile.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Labor Day Weekend Edition (9/6)


Strike Three! Another Federal Court Ends Betsy DeVos A Plan To Use Public Money For Private Schools - by @palan57 on @forbes

The Problem With Betsy DeVos And The ‘Right Fit’ - by @palan57 on @forbes

Second Federal Judge Slams DeVos Plan To Send Federal Funds To Private Schools - by @palan57 on @forbes

Will The Pandemic Give DeVos Her $5 Billion Voucher Scheme
Betsy DeVos has been pitching "Education Freedom" as long as she's been in office. It's a tax credit scholarship scheme, which is to say, a voucher program that would blow a $5 billion hole in the federal budget, but would be a real treat for rich folks who A) like private schools better than public ones and B) would rather not pay taxes to the feds. This frickin' guy The Education Freedom pitch h
A Seventh Grader Kicks Edgenuity's Dumb Robograding Butt
The story comes to us from Francesca Paris at NPR's Here and Now , and it can serve as our sixty-gazillionth reminder that computer algorithms-- even ones that are marketed as Artificial Intelligence-- cannot grade student work to save their cybernetic lives. A student in LAUSD's virtual school was dismayed when his first history assignment came back an F. It was short written responses, and the s
DeVos Stands Up For Testocracy
Thursday, Betsy DeVos issued a letter clarifying the Department of Education's position on postponing the Big Standardized Test this year, and it closes one of the few remaining gaps between DeVos and Arne Duncan. In a letter to chief state school officers, DeVos noted that there has been a pandemic. She thanked the school leaders for their efforts to meet the needs of all students (forgetting, pe
As Schools Reopen, Beware These Five Bad Management Approaches
Not all schools are blessed with excellent management teams (a million teachers just rolled their eyes and said, “No kidding.”) But while schools can succeed in spite of bad management in the good times, in times of crisis, bad management can really derail the whole train. Trying to launch a school year during a pandemic with little to no help from state and federal governments will test every sch
TX: Why Vouchers For Private Schools Are A Bad Idea
Texas is a happy playground for charter operators, but fans of school voucher program using public taxpayer dollars to fund private school tuition-- well, they're been mighty disappointed on a regular basis. Even as US Senator Ted Cruz (yes, he's really from Texas) has tried to help push the Betsy DeVos voucher plan , a state-level program has been shot down again and again. Mind you, they don't g
DeVos Continues Transformation Into Arne Duncan
Arne Duncan said many not-so-swift things, often revealing his true attitudes about the dismantling and privatization of public education. But one of his truly revealing moments came in 2010 when he famously argued that Hurricane Katrina was "the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans." For the many Black teachers who lost their jobs to Teach for America tourists, and the
Trump Demands Patriotic Classrooms
Trump's education agenda is, well, terse. Eleven words, two items. And the second of the two is "Teach American Exceptionalism." Monday, Trump expanded on that idea, saying that the nation needs to install "patriotic education" in schools. It's his plan for quelling rebellion in cities and countering "lies" about US racism (i.e. the "lie" that it exists). Gotta counter that "left-wing indoctrinat
ME: Pandemic Excuses More Uncertified Teacher Replacements
On August 26, Governor Mills of Maine issued an executive order that any warm body with any kind of college degree (or maybe even without) may be certified as a teacher. The executive order actually has three parts. One gives instructions on how to count attendance if you want your state subsidy. One gives some loose instruction on facility disinfection. And one expands the eligibility for emergen
ICYMI: This Month Can't End Too Soon Edition (8/30)
Sometimes you're just really ready to get to te next chapter, or just the next page. Not an uncommon feeling these days, even though it's not clear that the next chapter will be any less troublesome than this one. We'll see soon enough. In the meantime, here are some readings from the week. As 

Remote learning is turning classrooms into police states |

Remote learning is turning classrooms into police states |

Remote learning is turning classrooms into police states
Virtual classrooms make punishment easier to dole out than connection. It doesn’t have to be this way

Think of your favorite teacher. Whenever I ask people to do this, they usually tell me about a teacher who saw them: the one who took them aside and encouraged them to pursue art or computer science, who helped counsel them through a personal issue, who attended their Quinceañera — who, ultimately, just cared. By connecting with us in meaningful ways, these teachers not only earned a permanent place in our memories, they also engaged, challenged, and inspired us. Today, our nation's 56.6 million elementary and secondary students could all use teachers like this, to help shepherd them through the pandemic and into a better future. But even in the best of times, school structures are more conducive to punitive discipline than meaningful teacher-student relationships, especially in our least-resourced schools. Today, with the challenges of virtual learning and the urgent messaging around "COVID slide" – the learning loss students may have suffered while they were out of school – relationships in schools are under further threat, just when students need them most.

Across the U.S., the pandemic has put a strain on families and children, many of whom continue to suffer from food insecurity, job loss, or the death of loved ones to COVID-19. So as kids begin school this year, they require connection, understanding, and nurturance from their teachers. While positive relationships with significant adult figures like teachers help children cope with trauma, such relationships also facilitate better learning. When students have meaningful relationships with their teachers, they are more likely to engage in class, more likely to feel like they can complete their school work, more likely to grow and CONTINUE READING: Remote learning is turning classrooms into police states |

John Thompson: Politics and the Coronavirus in Oklahoma | Diane Ravitch's blog

John Thompson: Politics and the Coronavirus in Oklahoma | Diane Ravitch's blog

John Thompson: Politics and the Coronavirus in Oklahoma

John Thompson, historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma, contributes frequently here.
He writes:
If you want to get really depressed about today’s politics, look at the New York Times’ Upshot, which asked: Should Children Go Back to School? Sadly, the answer has been, “It depends in part on your politics.”
One source the Times cited was a Brookings Institute analysis of data which found that “politics, more than public health, was driving school districts’ reopening plans.” Brookings discovered:
No relationship between school districts’ plans and their counties’ infection rates. Instead, there was a strong correlation between a district’s plans and a county’s support for Mr. Trump in 2016.
We should all be horrified that President Trump and his supporters have put ideology and short term politics over the health of students. When we get through this nightmare, deep soul searching will be necessary as we CONTINUE READING: John Thompson: Politics and the Coronavirus in Oklahoma | Diane Ravitch's blog

No PPE in School? Here’s What We Do | JD2718

No PPE in School? Here’s What We Do | JD2718

No PPE in School? Here’s What We Do

The UFT has a good protocol in place for missing PPE – it came in an email over Mulgrew’s signature Friday evening:
Your school must have personal protective equipment  in place when staff return on Tuesday, Sept. 8. If PPE is not available, immediately discuss the situation with your principal, the custodian or the leader of your school’s COVID-19 building response team. If the issue cannot be resolved immediately, call the union’s hotline at 212-701-9677. The hotline operator will triage your call to a UFT staff member, who will promptly come to your building to confirm your report and take further action. UFT members should leave the building and wait outside.
Those directions are for your school’s UFT Chapter Leader. (unless they CL is recalcitrant, they are the one who should probably make the call)
Chapter Leaders – I hope you have been in contact with your principal, and know the status of the PPE. Even better if you inspect it yourself. If some or all PPE is missing, be ready to consult quickly with your principal Tuesday early early in the morning, with your committee if you have one, and then call the hotline if necessary. If you have not been in contact with the principal, please email today. Seriously today. Don’t wait. They get bothered by the DoE at all hours for nonsense – and this is actually important.
Chapter Leaders – if you did not update your members late last week, please do so before Tuesday. Let them know what to expect, especially if there are immediate problems.
Members – I hope your Chapter Leader has been updating you. If not, you should check with them what the status of the PPE is.
Members – Tuesday morning, if you have questions about PPE, find your Chapter Leader before you enter the building.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – the UFT has a list: CONTINUE READING: No PPE in School? Here’s What We Do | JD2718

NYC Educator: Like, DUDE, the chancellor can't stop, like, WRITING to us

NYC Educator: Like, DUDE, the chancellor can't stop, like, WRITING to us

Like, DUDE, the chancellor can't stop, like, WRITING to us

Dear School-Based Staff,

Like, Blaz and I were out last night, and he’s all like, DUDE, your emails are KILLING it, and I’m all like, yeah man but what am I gonna say NOW? And he’s all, “I hope you found time to rest and recharge and spend time with family and friends this summer,” and I’m all like DUDE if they did that they probably have COVID. And he’s all, well they won’t be in Tweed or City Hall, and I’m like WHEW that’s a relief. So he’s all, like, say, “As always, your health and safety, along with that of our students and families, is our number one priority,” and I’m like DUDE, NO ONE believes that anymore.

So like, here’s the frigging calendar, you losers and haters, and like STOP bitching about it already!. Like, you’re all, like TEACHERS and stuff, so, like, the dog ate my frigging homework, okay? So it’s, like six months late but THERE, you have it. And just because you were such a frigging BUMMER, like, there are no more SNOW DAYS, you will frigging teach REMOTELY.

So, like DUDE, you’re gonna have to teach remotely on Election Day too, okay? No more taking four hours off to VOTE, dude, because you’ll be, like, at HOME and stuff. So, like, that’s ONE remote day, and there are like, just 179 more to GO, dude.

Second, dude, in partnership with the NYC Department of Health, you know, the ones who failed to close schools with COVID all over the CONTINUE READING: 
NYC Educator: Like, DUDE, the chancellor can't stop, like, WRITING to us