Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, October 18, 2020

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Leaf Watching Edition (10/18)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Leaf Watching Edition (10/18)

Leaf Watching Edition (10/18)

Well, it's really beautiful out in the world right now, so we've got that going for us. In the meanime, here's some reading from the week. 

There's a Better Way: Trust Based Observation   
Craig Randall guests at Peter DeWitt's EdWeek blog spot talking about a better way to handle teacher evaluations and, really, school management in general.

Separate and Unequal: School Funding in PA   
In the Pocono Record, an op-ed looking at the eternally unsolved issue of school funding in PA, by a student in Harrisburg.

School Boards, Public Schools, and Home Rule  
Accountabaloney lays out the many ways that the Florida legislature has tried to strip school boards of their power. Because Florida is just the worst.

Fix America by Undoing Decades of Privatization  
At the Atlantic, K. Sabeel Rahman puts the attack on public education in the larger context of privatization in the US.

Students Use Tik Tok to document test-taking surveillance software   
At Jezebel, a look at the software surveillance programs that are turning test taking into an unholy nightmare, and how students are fighting back.

Ohio: Who Pays for Vouchers 
Over at Diane Ravitch's blog, a look at a study showing  how the costs of vouchering in Ohio are really getting covered.

Covid Learning Loss Overhyped
Thomas Ultican has a good overview of the many folks who are trying to chicken little the heck out of the "covid slide." Guess what-- they'd all like to sell you something.

Governor Lee Calls For Suspension of Testing  
Go figure. Bill Lee of all people is standing up against the Big Standardized Test. The Tennessean has the story.

Boston students shivering in the cold  
An early look at one of the next pandemic school crises--schools that have decided to solve ventilation problems by opening windows in places where winter is a thing.

Charter Schools hitting same roadblocks as public schools    
At Chalkbeat, Kalyn Belsha and Mat Barnum counter the standard narrative on resistance to school openings ("it's those damned unions") by showing that charter schools are having similar problems.

Don't Believe the Hype  
Akil Bello explains why you can ignore the bleating of the test industry and their insistence that they provide students with opportunities.

Who's Watching This Class   
The indispensable Mercedes Schneider takes a look at the substitute teacher crisis. It was already bad; the pandemic has made it far worse.

Behaviorism Won  
Audrey Watters continues to share the guest appearances she does for teachers. This time she's talking about B. F. Skinner and the ways that his ideas captured bot society and education. Probably won't make you feel better, but you'll understand a little more.

Originalism and Education  
With the coming elevation of dead hand constitutionalist Amy Barrett to the supreme court, many folks have been observing that 18th century ideas may not be the way to go with schools. Here are two good pieces-- Steven Singer brings passion and energy to his post, and Jan Resseger digs into some illuminating scholarship.

Closing Ed Schools: A Bad Omen   
Nancy Bailey reminds us that with colleges shutting down, one of the things that's being hurt is the new teacher pipeline. Uh-oh.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Leaf Watching Edition (10/18)


US Education versus Confucius
Last Wednesday, the Education and State departments in DC announced that it was time to clamp down on Chinese influence in US classrooms. The letter, which appears over the signatures of Betsy DeVos and Mike Pompeo, addresses the issue of the Confucius Classroom program . The program is a cultural outreach of the Chinese government; it has been around for a while and has always been viewed with s
Today in Teacher Depreciation
When you're in the work, the general noise from the chorus of teacher devaluators can become a faint background buzz. And then something happens, and you're reminded suddenly, "Oh, yeah. That's a thing." Happened twice to me on Twitter in the past 24 hours. First, there was the noise surrounding the Trump thing on the teevee last night, including this little punch from Mercedes Schlapp, a senior
McKinsey Has Ideas For Fixing Schools (Pandemic Edition)
McKinsey is the 800-pound consulting gorilla with its hairy hands in everything. That includes dabbling in education; they've consulted with Boston schools and shown how to slash and privatize the crap out of the district, they've made data based advanced analytics explanations of how to improve test scores, and they've made the argument for computerizing classrooms . Their world view is captured
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
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 arou
Orphaned Education, Forgotten Children
These are depressing times. Let me tell you why I'm bummed, but first, let me tell you a story. Almost a decade ago, I was the local union president during a contentious contract negotiation that became a strike. That was probably the lowest part of my teaching career. If you've taught for more than a year or two, you know, somewhere back in the back of your mind, that a lot of people are not rea
Not Politics In The Classroom
Distance learning seems to have pumped new life into the debate about politics in the classroom. From parents freaking out over a Black Lives Matter poster, to simple declarations that teachers should never, ever talk politic s, to the Pesident's adoption of the call for more patriotic education, we're back to arguing about how much political content should make it into a classroom. I actually ag
ICYMI: PA Fake Summer Edition (10/11)
Every Fall, in Western PA, we get a week or so of fake summer. This year it's particularly nice to get another pass at playing outside in shorts and sweatshirt weather. The board of directors has suddenly taken an interest in gardening, and the timing is perfect since there's hardly anything going on


A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door – Have You Heard

A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door – Have You Heard

A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door

The hosts of your favorite education podcast have written a book! A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door will be out on November 17 and is available for pre-order now.
If America’s public schools don’t survive the COVID-19 pandemic, it won’t just be due to the virus. Opponents of public education have long sought to dismantle our system of free, universal, and taxpayer-funded schooling. But the present crisis has provided them with their best opportunity ever to realize that aim. Books like Jane Mayer’s Dark Money and Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains sounded a clear warning about the influence that right-wing plutocrats increasingly exert over American politics. Now, A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door takes their analyses a step further, addressing an urgent question: Why is the right so fixated on dismantling public education in the United States?
Education historian Jack Schneider and journalist Jennifer Berkshire trace the war on public education to its origins, offering the deep backstory necessary to understand the threat presently posed to America’s schools. The book also looks forward to imagine how current policy efforts will reshape the educational landscape and remake America’s future. A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door offers readers a lively, accessible, yet scholarly view of a decades-long conservative cause: unmaking the system that serves over 90% of students in the U.S. With Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, and COVID-19 posing unprecedented threats to our already besieged public schools, the book could not be more timely.
For media requests or to invite the authors to speak to an event or class, just drop us a line.

Laura Chapman: Can Teachers Be Measured by the Same Methods Used for Cows? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Laura Chapman: Can Teachers Be Measured by the Same Methods Used for Cows? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Laura Chapman: Can Teachers Be Measured by the Same Methods Used for Cows?

Our wonderful reader Laura Chapman reports here on the origins of the laws that purport to measure teacher quality by the test scores of their students. The founding father of this methodology was the late William Sanders, an agricultural statistician who believed that the same productivity used to measure cows could be used to measure teachers. His ideas were adopted and promoted by Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top, which required states to adopt “value-added methodology” if they wanted to compete for a share of billions of federal dollars. The Gates Foundation also embraced test-based accountability. These methods proved to be ineffective at measuring teacher quality; they are inaccurate and demoralizing.
According to a 2019 report coauthored by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, 15 states are still inflicting teacher evaluations by VAM (value added measures) and 28 are using the equally invalid process of writing up Student Learning Objectives (SLOs). SLOs require you to predict the end-of-year (or end of unit) achievements of students, among CONTINUE READING: Laura Chapman: Can Teachers Be Measured by the Same Methods Used for Cows? | Diane Ravitch's blog

‘Out of Control’: When Schools Opened in a Utah Coronavirus Hot Spot - The New York Times

‘Out of Control’: When Schools Opened in a Utah Coronavirus Hot Spot - The New York Times

‘Out of Control’: When Schools Opened in a Virus Hot Spot
In a suburban Salt Lake City district, coronavirus cases spiked as students returned to their classrooms.

On a Friday in mid-September, Sunny Washington got a text from another mother at her daughter’s high school in an affluent suburb of Salt Lake City. Three weeks into the school year, the number of coronavirus cases at the school was rising, and the district was considering shifting to online instruction. The text urged parents to beg the school board to keep classrooms open.
Ms. Washington ignored the text — she thought the school should be taking advice from public health experts, not parents. But other parents flooded the board with messages, and the school stayed open. Within a week, the number of cases had nearly quadrupled. A teacher was hospitalized and put on a ventilator. When the board finally closed the school temporarily, 77 students and staff members, including Ms. Washington’s daughter, had tested positive.
“We’re talking 30 days in, and it went completely out of control,” Ms. Washington said.
Her daughter’s school, Corner Canyon High School, experienced one of the biggest coronavirus outbreaks at a school in Utah, and possibly the country, with 90 cases within two weeks — most likely an undercount, since not all students and staff who were exposed or symptomatic got tested.
And Corner Canyon was not the only school in the district to have an outbreak. By Sept. 28, Canyons School District, with roughly 33,000 students, had temporarily closed three high schools and a middle school, telling about 8,000 students to learn from home. CONTINUE READING: ‘Out of Control’: When Schools Opened in a Utah Coronavirus Hot Spot - The New York Times

Schools and the Pandemic Recession | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Schools and the Pandemic Recession | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Schools and the Pandemic Recession

As a tempered optimist about the power of schools to shape the lives of both adults and children, this post, I confess, will depress readers. Stop reading if you already feel blue during the pandemic.
I have no upbeat news. For schools, as for the rest of the economy, the news is downbeat. Uncertainty continues to surround any prevention and treatment of Covid-19. The lack of any coherent guidelines for opening schools and proper ways of dealing with the stubborn virus from the President and U.S. Secretary of Education is shocking in its negligence of an institution critical to the nation’s future.
Of even greater importance is that the President and Congress have yet to agree on a stimulus package to reduce unemployment and rescue small and medium-sized businesses from permanent closure. And with the election weeks away, chances of another federally funded trillion dollar-plus infusion into the economy, including schools is, well, dim. Already states–the primary funder of public schools across the nation’s 13,000-plus districts–have begun to either CONTINUE READING: Schools and the Pandemic Recession | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice