Latest News and Comment from Education

Thursday, October 15, 2020

MARK WEBER: COVID-19 shows NJ school funding iniquities | NJ Spotlight News

Op-Ed: COVID-19 shows NJ school funding iniquities | NJ Spotlight News

 COVID-19 highlights racial inequities in school funding

Disparities in education are nothing new for New Jersey. But the current pandemic has heightened the differences in schooling between students of different races: The latest data confirm that white students are more likely to have access to at least some in-person schooling, compared to students of color.
And the differences in schooling, according to an analysis I’ve published with the New Jersey Policy Perspective, appear to be driven by differences in funding.
This past summer, the Murphy administration urged New Jersey’s school districts to prepare to open the doors of their buildings at least part-time for students. Districts could implement “hybrid” schooling plans, where students would mix online and in-person learning. Students would be separated into cohorts that would switch off between attending school and learning from home; this way, social distancing could be maintained in smaller classes.
It quickly became apparent, however, that some school districts would not be able to implement a hybrid plan in time for the September opening of school. Superintendents across the state began requesting waivers, which the state reviewed and, in many cases, granted.

A look at the available data

On Sept. 13, NJ Spotlight News published a list of districts that had been granted waivers, as well as the plans of most other school districts and charter schools for the fall. In our analysis, we combined this list with enrollment and fiscal data to determine how school reopening plans might be different for students of different races.
Our analysis shows that only about one-third of New Jersey’s students are in a district that CONTINUE READING: Op-Ed: COVID-19 shows NJ school funding iniquities | NJ Spotlight News

One Week from Today, I Will Be Speaking to Education Activists in Texas | Diane Ravitch's blog

One Week from Today, I Will Be Speaking to Education Activists in Texas | Diane Ravitch's blog

One Week from Today, I Will Be Speaking to Education Activists in Texas

One week today, I will participate in a statewide Zoom meeting with education activists in Texas, hosted by Pastors for Texas Children.
It is a fundraising event for the important work of Pastors for Texas Children, which is a great friend to the five million children who attend public schools in Texas. PTC has been a powerful force in the effort by parents and civil groups to block vouchers in Texas. They have done this by reminding people that separation of church and state is the best protection of religious liberty and that we all have a civic duty to support our community public schools and make them better for all children. PTC, in addition, has helped to organize similar organizations in other states where public schools are under assault by privatizers.
One Week from Today
Next week at this time, we hope you will be tuning in to our virtual event with Diane Ravitch. We are going to make the most out of our time together, and we guarantee that you will leave more informed and inspired to keep up the good work of serving our public school children.

Here's what you can expect:
  • PTC President Rev. John Ogletree, a pastor from Houston and school board member of Cypress-Fairbanks ISD will open us with prayer and introductions.
  • A riveting conversation between Diane and Texas Tribune's Evan Smith. They will discuss the hottest topics in public education, like privatization (through vouchers and also charter schools), school choice, and school funding.
  • A motivating message directly from Diane. 
  • PTC leader and pastor from Odessa, Rev. Dawn Darwin-Weaks, will close us in prayer.

Thank you to our event sponsors!

Raise Your Hand Texas
Huckabee & Associates
5 Energy
Texas Association of School Boards
Texas AFT
Association of Texas Professional Educators
Texas Association of School Administrators
Texas Classroom Teachers Association
Wilshire Baptist Church
Fund for Children
The Ratliff Group
Texas State Teachers Association
Anette Carlisle
Coalition for Education Funding
Faith Commons
Powell Youngblood & Taylor, LLP
VLK Architects
Walsh Gallegos
Friends of Texas Public Schools
Texas Freedom Network

There are more sponsorships available. If you or your organization would like to consider sponsorship, email us for more information at

Where Will You Get Your Educators of Color From Now? [Medium] | The Jose Vilson

Where Will You Get Your Educators of Color From Now? [Medium] | The Jose Vilson


In my latest post for Medium, I explore the connections between the current pandemic, the racial uprising, and NYC’s efforts to recruit and retain educators of color:
“… it’s the same educators who saw the litany of issues that encumbered their work in NYC schools that ought to serve as our schools’ best ambassadors. But the lack of real vision and leadership, the silencing of those who could provide that leadership, the systemic attitudes towards folks who even attempt to elevate social justice, the sheer number of deaths happening around friends and families, the reverberations of the voices they hear in their own communities about this pandemic, and the colleagues who fear being called racist over actually addressing and redressing racism in their own professional spaces makes for a concoction that might make this profession too much to bear.
It’s visible aggression.

There’s No Democracy without Public Education – Have You Heard

There’s No Democracy without Public Education – Have You Heard

There’s No Democracy without Public Education

Have You Heard talks with legal scholar Derek Black about his new book Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy. Despite the title (not to mention the charred pencil imagery) this is a deeply optimistic book. That’s because as Black immersed himself in a people’s history of the post-civil war years, he encountered a commitment to public education that astonished and inspired him. Public education, argues Black, is as central to American democracy as the right to vote.
Complete transcript of the episode is here. The financial support of listeners like you keeps this podcast going. Subscribe on Patreon or donate on PayPal.
Jennifer and Jack’s forthcoming book, A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door, will be out on November 17 and is now available for pre-order.

There’s No Democracy without Public Education – Have You Heard

CURMUDGUCATION: Update #1 From The Pandemic's Trailing Edge

CURMUDGUCATION: Update #1 From The Pandemic's Trailing Edge

Update #1 From The Pandemic's Trailing Edge

 About a month ago, I told you that if it can work anywhere, it can work here.

I'm in Northwest PA, a rural/small town county with a little under 50,000 people. As of a month ago, we had about 70-ish confirmed cases. Schools re-opened, almost entirely face-to-face five days a week. 

Well, things have changed. Our confirmed case number has doubled in about five weeks. The norm was days with zero or one or two new cases; now we are having some days with double digits. 

In two of the local four high schools, this week we learned that there were two cases in each of two high schools. In each case, one student and one adult. One school has closed for two days for a round of deep cleaning; the other has reportedly sent 40-some students and staff into quarantine. 

If you're wondering why the responses are inconsistent, well, that's what you get when a pandemic hits at a time like now. There are no rules, and words don't mean anything, so local districts have to just figure it out themselves. At another local elementary school, a teacher has been sent home for fourteen days because her son was sent home from his school (a different one than the one where she teaches) with a fever. That determination was made by the school nurse. 

That situation highlights another feature of the area. There are four different school districts, but CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: Update #1 From The Pandemic's Trailing Edge

Teacher Tom: The Pygmalion Effect

Teacher Tom: The Pygmalion Effect

The Pygmalion Effect

He lifts up both his hands to feel the work,
and wonders if it can be ivory,
because it seems to him more truly flesh. --
his mind refusing to conceive of it
as ivory, he kisses it and feels
his kisses are returned. And speaking love,
caresses it with loving hands that seem
to make an impress, on the parts they touch,
so real that he fears he then may bruise
her by his eager pressing.
                                 ~Ovid, Metamorphosis

Throughout most of my academic life I was a good student in the most common usage of that term: I managed pretty good grades. I did receive a few clinkers here and there, but for the most part I was a solid A-B student. During my sophomore year in high school, mom convinced me to take a typing class, because, she reasoned, it would help me when I had papers to write for college. Fair enough, I thought, but on our first day of class, the teacher, a seasoned typing teacher, told us, "If you're a boy, the best grade you can expect is a C. Your fingers are just too big and clumsy."

Well this was news. I'd never been told anything other than "the sky's the limit." Recalling this today as a middle class white man, I can see how much that was a function of simply being a white male, but at the time I treated it as a novel experienced. There were no particular expectations on me and I lived up to them, not only receiving and C, but doing the quality of work and giving an effort that barely deserved a C. 

This is a very obvious example of a very well-researched CONTINUE READING: Teacher Tom: The Pygmalion Effect

glen brown: "Neither FERPA or HIPAA prevents schools from sharing non-identifiable information with the media and the general public"

glen brown: "Neither FERPA or HIPAA prevents schools from sharing non-identifiable information with the media and the general public"

"Neither FERPA or HIPAA prevents schools from sharing non-identifiable information with the media and the general public"

“…Legal experts and government transparency advocates say schools, as a whole, have a long track record of abusing privacy laws to keep information secret and force the public to enter costly lawsuits to gain access to records. Justin Silverman, who leads the New England First Amendment Coalition, said several states also had cited HIPAA as a reason for withholding coronavirus case counts at nursing homes, although many later reversed course and released that information.
“Although there’s a fine balance between the public’s right to know and personal privacy, many health experts said clear and consistent disclosure of even basic case numbers is essential for sound decision-making. 
“Dr. Nathaniel Beers, who serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on School Health, suggested school districts should have a tiered communication approach: providing the most detailed information to people with direct exposure; a more generic notification with health screening guidance for others in the school; and basic information on case counts and response for the general community. ‘For schools to be open, you need staff to feel like safety is first. You need students, [teachers and staff] and parents to feel safety is first. You need the broader community to feel like the school is taking care of business and not putting everyone else in harm’s way,’ said Beers, who also is president of the HSC Health Care System in Washington, D.C. ‘That’s where the broader communication is really critical.’ 
Standing guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that HIPAA does not apply to elementary and secondary schools. 
“In particular, the agency notes they are ‘not a HIPAA covered entity,’ which CONTINUE READING: glen brown: "Neither FERPA or HIPAA prevents schools from sharing non-identifiable information with the media and the general public"

Mike Klonsky's Blog: I'm missing live radio

Mike Klonsky's Blog: I'm missing live radio

I'm missing live radio

CORONA BLUES...I'm badly missing doing live, in-studio radio. Hitting Left With the Klonsky Brothers has been on hiatus since June and we've been out of the studio since March. Brother Fred and I did podcast two months' worth of shows from home but it wasn't the same. 

No Friday morning planning meetings at Bridgeport Coffee and no live connection with the studio crew at Lumpen Radio. Doing the show over Zoom left us feeling empty, similar in a way to how many teachers I know are feeling doing remote teaching. 

All three years of archived shows are available and still getting lots of downloads at, and wherever else you get your podcasts. 

The clouds lifted a little last night when I got a chance to talk ed/politics live on The Rick Smith Show. Thanks, Rick. 

Rick wanted my take on why, with public education teetering on the brink, there's so little campaign debate over ed issues? Why especially aren't Biden and Harris taking it to Trump and his ed secretary, DeVos for the way they have diverted billions in public education funding to CONTINUE READING: Mike Klonsky's Blog: I'm missing live radio

Charter Updates - Legislative Update - Safety Power Shut Off - CDE Emergency Response Fund (CA Dept of Education)

Charter Updates - Charter Schools (CA Dept of Education)

Charter Updates
Updates and information from the California Department of Education, Charter Schools Division to charter schools, authorizers, and stakeholders

Welcome to Charter Updates

This web page, launched in fall 2020, serves as a means for the California Department of Education, Charter Schools Division to provide timely and relevant information to the state’s charter school community, including, but not limited to, charter school administrators, charter school authorizers, charter school stakeholders, and the general public.
Updates are organized in reverse chronological order by release date. To receive notifications of new charters updates, join the Charter Schools Listserv.
#Release DateTopic(s)
  • Assembly Bills 1505 and 1507
    • Enrollment Data
    • Enrollment Data Technical Assistance Webinar
  • Charter Schools Program Fiscal Year 2020 Grant
  • Funding Determinations for Renewing Nonclassroom-Based Charter Schools
  • Senate Bills 98 and 820 Frequently Asked Questions
  • State Board of Education Appeal Submission Deadlines

Return to Charter Schools
Questions:   Charter Schools Division | | 916-322-6029

CDE Emergency Response Fund - Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education) -

Legislative Update – Assembly Bill 827 - Nutrition (CA Dept of Education) -

Public Safety Power Shutoff Event October 14, 2020 - Nutrition (CA Dept of Education) -

COVID Learning Loss Over-Hyped | tultican

COVID Learning Loss Over-Hyped | tultican

COVID Learning Loss Over-Hyped

By Thomas Ultican 10/15/2020
Warnings about learning losses due to the pandemic dominate education media; especially the media created and financed by billionaires. Based on a briefing by NWEA, McKinsey & Company claims “the average K–12 student in the United States could lose $61,000 to $82,000 in lifetime earnings (in constant 2020 dollars) … solely as a result of COVID-19–related learning losses.” The Hoover Institute’s CREDO warns “the findings are chilling.”
One of my favorite education bloggers, Nancy Flanagan, says it well,
“Test-data estimates, alarmist language and shady research do nothing to help us with the most critical problem we have right now: keeping kids connected to their schoolwork and their teachers. However that’s offered and as imperfect as it may be.”
The popular blogger Peter Greene goes to the essence of the issue noting:
“So why has CREDO decided to throw its weight behind this baloney? Well, the testing industry is in a bit of a stir right now. The BS Test was canceled last spring, and nobody is very excited about bringing it back this year, either. So the testing industry and their reformy friends are trying to sell the notion that students and schools and teachers are adrift right now, and the only way anyone will know how students are doing is to break out the industry’s products and start generating some revenue data.”

The Billionaire Created Echo Chamber

The first COVID-slide bang on the bell came from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) which sells MAP tests. Their computer delivered assessments of mathematics and English are given three times each school year; fall, winter and spring. The tests are not aligned to one class level so they are only partially aligned with state curricular standards.
Using data from approximately 350,000 students who took MAP tests in school years 2017-18 and 2018-19, analysts at NWEA created a paper that guessed at what the negative education effects from the school shut downs would be. The paper was published on May 27, 2020 by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University.
In the paper, NWEA stated,
“In this study, we produce a series of projections of COVID-19-related CONTINUE READING: COVID Learning Loss Over-Hyped | tultican

NYC Public School Parents: "Talk out of School" on "integration fatigue" and what's happening in Finland's schools during the pandemic

NYC Public School Parents: "Talk out of School" on "integration fatigue" and what's happening in Finland's schools during the pandemic

"Talk out of School" on "integration fatigue" and what's happening in Finland's schools during the pandemic

Today, on my podcast "Talk out of School," I interviewed Prof. Noliwe Rooks and author William Doyle.

First, I recapped some of the latest news from NYC, including that despite last week's order from Governor Cuomo to close more than 300 public and private schools in COVID hotspots in Brooklyn and Queens, it has been reported that little enforcement has been done to close the Ultra-orthodox Yeshivas in these neighborhoods. 

Then I greeted back to the show Prof. Noliwe Rooks of Cornell University, whom I spoke to last week as well.  Prof. Rooks, the author of "Cutting School," explained how successful independent schools run by Black educators in the 1960s and 1970s had closed due to the expansion of well-connected charter chains. Prof. Rooks also described why many Black parents and other advocates were suffering from “integration fatigue,” and provided her thoughts about how should the planned reopening of city schools should have proceeded this fall, instead of what actually happened. 
William Doyle, whose book “Let the Children Play” is about to come out on paperback, then joined us. He is living in Finland this year, researching a book on that nation’s education system, and his 7th grade son is attending a public school in Helsinki. Doyle described how Finland is dealing with the pandemic and more specifically what's happening in the school his son attends. He also explained how Finland’s education system provided important lessons for the future direction of US public schools. You can find previous podcasts and//or subscribe here.&nbsp.
Links and Resources:

NYC Public School Parents: "Talk out of School" on "integration fatigue" and what's happening in Finland's schools during the pandemic

CURMUDGUCATION: ME: Charter Pushers Quietly Switch To New Product

CURMUDGUCATION: ME: Charter Pushers Quietly Switch To New Product

ME: Charter Pushers Quietly Switch To New Product

Maine has suffered through its own brands of education disruption. Most notably, they became the target for a bunch folks who wanted to use Maine as a proof of concept state for proficiency based learning grafted onto standards based grading. At best they showed that a poorly implemented and underfunded disruption of this sort is disastrous; at worst, they showed that re-organizing education around the needs of data miners is a terrible idea. However you slice it, Maine's little experiment failed hard.

But what education in Maine hasn't had to deal with much is the rise of charter schools. The charter industry hasn't infected Maine as badly as, say, Ohio or Indiana. There are ten charters, with fewer than a total of 3,000 students enrolled. There are plenty of possible explanations, not the least of which is that once you get away from Theme Park Maine on the coast, Maine is pretty rural (I have an old friend who used to describe his central Maine high school as fifteen miles and an hour and a half away from the nearest rival). But that limited role for charteristas may be about to change.

Like every state where charters are legal, Maine has a group that promotes, advocates, lobbies and generally cheerleads for the charter industry-- the Maine Association for Charter Schools, whose stated purpose is to promote "high-quality options for all children within Maine's public education system." But last year the legislature indefinitely extended a charter school cap. 10 is all the charters they may ever have.

So what's a chartery education disruption group to do? 

How about renaming yourself? And rebranding yourself with a whole new mission by declaring CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: ME: Charter Pushers Quietly Switch To New Product