Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, September 20, 2020

CATCH UP WITH CURMUDGUCATION + ICYMI: One More Damned Thing After Another (9/20)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: One More Damned Thing After Another (9/20)

One More Damned Thing After Another

Well, that week sucked. And there's a lot to read, too.

Let's start with something positive. Drum prodigy Nandi Bushell has been youtubing covers for a while, but a few weeks ago she challenged Dave Groh to a drum battle; it went two rounds, and then Groh finally upped the ante by writing her a song. So there's that in the world. Now on to the rest.

On Campus Testing for Distance Learners   
Oh, Florida. They agreed that parents should be able to keep their at-risk kindergartners at home. But test-lovers that they are, they may require those same littles to come in to take the kinder-readiness test. Because Florida... Accountabaloney has the story.

Proceed at Your Own Peril  
Dad Gone Wild checks in to see how things are virtually going, and reflects on how we keep asking everything from teachers.

When the Lights Go Out   
Grumpy Old Teacher provides a vivid picture of what it's like in the pandemic classroom. A nice piece of writing here.

No Way To Treat a Scholar   
Gary Rubinstein looks at one more way that Success Academy games the data and juices up their PR-- welcome to the 5th year high school program.

Selling the Future of Ed Tech  
Damn, but Audrey Watters is the best. Here's a look at some of the wacky ed tech treats that have been predicted for the future over the years. Fun, but deeply thought provoking.

How centrist Democrats paved the way for Betsy DeVos   
Have you heard talks to David Menefee-Libey about this sad bit of history. As always, you can listen to the podcast or read the transcript. Either way, Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire deliver a tasty slice of information in an entertaining sandwich.

Framing a new website forced us to consider public education's core principles    
Jan Resseger kind of gives away the game with her title. Friends of education in northern Ohio revamped their website, and it leads to a good reflection on what public education's really all about.

The Mighty Storm  
I'm glad that Russ Walsh is back to blogging. Here he starts with the Galveston hurricane disaster of 1900 and works his way over to building reading comprehension. 

Take It Easy on the Teachers, OK  
Nancy Flanagan takes through the taxonomy of pandemic school posts, including the ones that blame teachers, and she has some thoughts about those.

The difference between freedom and captivity  
Teacher Tom asks what adult sacred memories of childhood all have in common

Face-mask recognition is here  
Well, National Geographic wants your email to read this unhappy-making piece about facial recognition in general and the fact that your mask will no longer thwart it in particular.

DeVos Versus the IRS   
This is a bit wonky, but important-- it turns out that a revamp of SALT rules gets directly in the path of tax credit scholarship programs by limiting how much money rich folks can launder through this type of voucher program.

NC Judge backs $427 million to improve schools. Will anyone fund it.   
North Carolina has been working hard to bust public education. Here's one more battle on that front. From the News & Observer.

The pandemic and school building issues   
Pandemic responses are highlighting just what a rundown mess many US school buildings are. From Mat Barnum at Chalkbeat.

Betsy DeVos and the separation of church and state  
Nancy Bailey takes a look at the DeVosian view of the separation between church and state when it comes to education in the time of pandemic (Wall? What wall?)

The long history of politicizing history class   
Olivia Waxman at Time puts some historical perspective on Trump's demand that history be taught with a golden patriotic glow. We've been here before.

Ed Department has denied 94% of loan forgiveness applications   
Betsy DeVos can keep this up forever. Despite being scolded by Congress and spanked by the courts, she continues to avoid actually implementing the federal loan forgiveness program for students defrauded by predatory for profits.

I am only one person
Anya Kamanetz (NPR) said on Twitter that she has never had so many interview subjects cry during the interview. A look at how teachers (who are also parents) are coping with pandemic education.

When poorly veiled bigotry masquerades as choice   
Andre Perry at Hechinger Reports looks at how racists have always loved the word "choice"

An open letter to a parent afraid of anti-racist education   
Christina Torres is at EdWeek with a response to a woman upset and cranky about Black Lives Matter at school. I watched this twitter discussion unfold in real time before it was erased by the woman in question, and she was pretty nasty about the whole thing. Torres offers a more measured response.

Taxes on DeVos yacht could pay for school nurses  
Katelyn Kivel at The Gander takes a look at just how much tax the family avoids by registering their yachts elsewhere. It's a lot.

The ends do not justify the means  
Nobody has explained the problems with the science of reading movement better than Paul Thomas, who takes another swing here.

The epic screw-up of distance learning in Miami   
Wired has a great look at how Miami-Dade schools got themselves into such a mess by picking K12 as their distance education provider of choice. It's a tale of hubris and dumb. All it's missing is one little tidbit that you can find here--K12's large contribution to the superintendent's personal organization.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: One More Damned Thing After Another (9/20)


Where Is Joe Biden On Public Education? - by @palan57 on @forbes

Is It Time For The Internet To Be A School-Managed Public Utility? - by @palan57 on @forbes

Will China Help Pay For Trump's History Project
This, believe it or not, is about the deal involving social media sensation, Tik Tok. At first, the whole Tik Tok business looked like a basic old-fashioned shakedown. "That's a nice little tech biz you have there," said Trump. "Be a shame if anything happened to it." Okay, not really that subtle-- it was more along the lines of "I'm going to ban your business unless you give my buddies a cut." Ti
The 1776 Unites Curriculum Isn't So Great
During Dear Leader's call for more patrio-centric re-education, he referenced and Betsy DeVos praised the 1776 Unites project as an example of the kind of thing he wants to see in schools. So I went to look at it, and, well, it has some problems. What Is It, And Where Did It Come From? The "curriculum" has been launched just last week as an "inspirational alternative" to the New York Times 1619 pr
Is Betsy DeVos Flip-Flopping?
Betsy DeVos visited a private school in Grand Rapids that is currently open for face-to-face school, and she observed that not re-opening school buildings is a "tragedy." This seems like a radical shift of direction for the secretary of education. For one thing, one of her mantras has been that we should fund students, not institutions or, presumably, the buildings in which those institutions are

Check Out "On Teaching" At The Atlantic
I've been poking through the thirty-three articles posted by The Atlantic as part of their On Teaching series , and it requires a little more recommendation than my weekly Sunday round-up. If you're only going to read one batch of articles this month, read these. And if you're only going to read one article this month, start with the anchor essay, just published today. In it, Kristina Rizga writes
Scrap the Big Standardized Test This Year
When schools pushed the pandemic pause button last spring, one of the casualties was the annual ritual of taking the Big Standardized Test. There were many reasons to skip the test , but in the end, students simply weren’t in school during the usual testing time. Secretary of Education issued waivers so that states could cancel their test (which is mandated by the Every Student Succeeds Act ). Bu

SEP 14

Time To Deal With The Substitute Shortage
This is not the biggest issue facing schools right now-- but it's not nothing. And in some districts, it's about to become a critical issue. The state regional education office for our area announced a special opportunity to get quick and easy training to become an emergency certified substitute teacher. And it only costs $25! And that sound you hear is me slapping my forehead hard enough to push
School Choice Is Not For Those People
Choice fans promote the idea as one the provides each family with the school of their dreams. Everyone, declares Betsy DeVos, should have a school that provides the right fit. Well, almost everybody. Two recent stories underline that what families can choose is what the folks in charge of the marketplace decide they can choose. In Indiana, a lawsuit has emerged from one of several incidents of pr
ICYMI: Rainy Sunday Edition (9/13)
A quiet rainy morning here in PA. And can't we all use a little peace and quiet. I've got a few things for you to read this week. FLVS Frustrations A lot of money has ben pumped into the Florida Virtual School, but nobody seems to be in charge. How's that working out? Accountabaloney takes a look (and you should pay attention, because FLVS has contracted itself out to a few other states). POLITIC
About Those Digital Natives
Now that so many schools are leaping back into the ed tech abyss with both feet and a few other limbs as well, the term "digital native" is turning up again, and it's just as silly as ever. Everyone who is scared about facing off against the digital native tribe in the digitized computerized distance learning world 


It's Time for A Leadership Change at SCUSD

It's Time for A Leadership Change at SCUSD

In 46 days, voters have an opportunity to remake the Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Education. Four out of seven board of education seats are up for election.

There are four outstanding candidates who are running, each of whom has been endorsed by SCTA, SEIU Local 1021, the Sacramento Central Labor Council and the Sacramento County Democratic Party. They are:

Big Education Ape: OPPS: This Fall a Windfall: Sacramento City Unified School District Reports a Surplus of $23 Million Dollars - Sacramento City Teachers Association -


  • The 2019-20 school year finished with huge $23 million surplus after originally projecting a $12.3 million deficit, a turnaround of $35.5 million
  • This marks the eighth consecutive year of grossly inaccurate budget projections by SCUSD administrators
  • Reserve fund hits highest mark ever at $93 million
SACRAMENTO — The Chief Business Officer of the Sacramento City Unified School District, Rose Ramos, will report to the district’s board of education today that the Sac City schools finished the 2019-20 school year with a large surplus of cash and record reserves. Only last month, SCUSD leaders were predicting that the district, which educates 40,000 students in California’s capital city, would run a deficit, be out of cash in February 2021 and face state takeover next year.
Contrary to the bleak forecasts presented to the public in August, the “2019-20 Year End Financial Unaudited Actuals” report documents that SCUSD ended the 2019-20 school year with a surplus of $23,113,422.98.  In July 2019, the district projected it would end the 2019-20 school year with a $12,344,416.83 deficit — a $35.5 million turnaround from the district’s dire predictions.  Just as significantly, SCUSD now has $93,048,610.81 in its reserve fund, $82 million more than the minimum reserve fund required by the state. 
“Parents, teachers and business leaders have been bombarded with ‘the sky is falling in’ messages coming out of the budget office that are parroted by both the school board and the Sacramento County Office of Education year after year,” said Sacramento City Teachers Association President David Fisher, who also is a SCUSD parent. “Every year SCUSD goes through this exercise of telling the public that it is running out of cash and better cut programs, only to end with ‘never mind, we actually ran a surplus.’”
It is the eighth year in a row that the district financial projections have been wildly inaccurate, falsely painting a picture of SCUSD on the brink of fiscal insolvency. Among other accounting problems, a budget officer previously hired by the school board based on recommendations from Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, was forced to step down in 2019 when it was revealed SCUSD forgot to count five of the district’s schools, a $25-million mistake.
“With a surplus of $23 million from last school year and a reserve fund that now exceeds $93 million, it’s time to focus on the positive and determine how we can best redirect those resources back to the classroom,” said Fisher. “Especially now, with the added educational challenges that the pandemic brings, we need to employ more school nurses, lower class sizes, improve special education services and provide help so that our teachers can tailor virtual learning to the needs of each student.”

Big Education Ape: SCUSD No Longer Insolvent ? They Found the Money ?? -