Latest News and Comment from Education

Friday, October 23, 2020




Happy Friday. With just over a week until the election, I am asking Sacramento City voters to please use your people power to make fundamental change on the Sacramento City Unified School District Board, which I truly believe is the most dysfunctional and broken governing body in this city. We have four wonderful candidates who are prepared to make positive change for our entire Sac City Schools community. But first we must be honest that if we insist on returning incumbent board members to their positions the dysfunction will only metastasize.
Nothing will improve with the same people in charge who, among other things:
* falsely and repeatedly claim the district is about to run out of money while simultaneously amassing historically large budget surpluses,
* renege on labor contracts,
* sue their own teachers and later issue cease and desist orders against them,
* negligently lay-off hundreds of teachers, resulting in a severe staffing crisis,
* leave thousands of kids languishing for months in classes without credentialed teachers and lesson plans,
* neglect our most vulnerable students by failing to provide necessary Special Education and English Language Learning supports, services and teachers,
* fail to implement district-wide restorative justice programs as promised,
* refuse to negotiate distance learning plans in good faith with their teachers and support staff.
We must insist on better. That's the whole reason why we have elections, to hold folks accountable and make change when needed. And change is definitely needed. That starts by electing:

Lavinia Grace Phillips for School Board
Area 7: Oak Park, Hollywood Park, City Farms, Mangan Park #neighborsforgracie

, Nailah Pope-Harden Area 4: Stockton, Fruitridge, Power Inn, Elder Creek, Franklin, Florin

Chinua Rhodes For School Board 2020
Area 5: South Sac, Meadowview

Thank you.


, Nailah Pope-Harden Area 4: Stockton, Fruitridge, Power Inn, Elder Creek, Franklin, Florin

Instead of Funding Public Education, Oklahoma Bankrolled a For-Profit Virtual Charter School -

Instead of Funding Public Education, Oklahoma Bankrolled a For-Profit Virtual Charter School -
Instead of Funding Public Education, Oklahoma Bankrolled a For-Profit Virtual Charter School
Outsourcing online learning to for-profit providers was never a good idea. The pandemic has made it worse.

As public schools continue to struggle to reopen during the pandemic, many parents are refusing to send their students into school buildings. And, given the risk of in-person learning, it’s understandable that some families would turn to online charter schools, whose enrollments have soared in recent weeks. 

But the controversy surrounding a popular online charter school in Oklahoma provides a cautionary tale of how this trend can put public education dollars in jeopardy, rather than alleviate students’ lost educational opportunities.

On October 12, Oklahoma’s Board of Education demanded that Epic Charter Schools, a statewide online charter, refund $11 million to the state. The decision came after the first part of a state audit showed that Epic charged the school district for $8.4 million in improperly classified administrative costs between 2015 and 2019, as well as millions of dollars for violations that the state previously failed to address.

The second part of the audit will investigate the $79 million in public money that was directed to a “learning fund,” an $800 to $1,000 stipend for students enrolled in Epic’s “One-on-One” individual learning program. While the funds were intended to cover educational expenses, a search warrant issued by the Oklahoma State Board of Investigation found that they may have been used to entice “ghost students,” or students that were technically enrolled—and therefore counted in Epic’s per-pupil funding requests to the state—but received minimal instruction from teachers.

Despite the controversy surrounding Epic, the school has received a total of $458 million in state funds since 2015, according to the audit report. More than $125 million of this money went to Epic Youth Services, a for-profit management company owned by the school’s co-founders, David Chaney and Ben Harris. 

Following the audit’s release, the Oklahoma Virtual Charter School board CONTINUE READING: Instead of Funding Public Education, Oklahoma Bankrolled a For-Profit Virtual Charter School -

Trump and Biden Finally Talk Schools - The New York Times

Trump and Biden Finally Talk Schools - The New York Times
Trump and Biden Finally Talk Schools
School reopening hasn’t been an issue in the presidential campaign — until last night.

The debate over when and how to reopen schools has been a burning question for parents since the pandemic began. But you wouldn’t know it from the presidential campaign — much to the frustration of families and educators whose daily lives have been disrupted.

“Remote schooling in particular has upended so many parents’ lives for months on end, not to mention the effect it’s having on kids,” said our colleague Abby Goodnough, who wrote about the issue this week. “If nothing else, I think families would like to hear the candidates acknowledge the strain they are under.”

Schools did get some airtime in Thursday night’s debate — but only briefly.

“They need a lot of money to open,” Joe Biden said. “They need to deal with ventilation systems, smaller classes, more teachers, more pods. And [Trump has] refused to support that money, at least until now.” Biden touted his “five-step road map” for reopening schools, and called for “clear, consistent, effective” national guidelines, but did not offer specifics, saying those decisions should be made at the state and local level.

That approach reflects a tactical dilemma: Biden’s supporters are split over whether schools should reopen at all. Some of his strongest support comes from teachers’ unions, which generally have opposed efforts to reopen schools. Other Biden backers, particularly some white college-educated parents, are pushing for schools to open with precautions where community spread is under control.

“In my district, everybody has their Biden yard signs but it’s about a 50-50 split as to who wants their kids back in school,” said Sarah Reckhow, an associate professor of political science at Michigan State University who studies education politics. “It’s a tricky calculus for him.”

President Trump, for his part in the debate, downplayed the risk that teachers and students would contract the coronavirus. He repeated his calls for schools to open, without offering details about additional funding or support from the federal government. “The transmittal rate to the teachers is very small,” he said. “I want to open the schools. The cure cannot be worse than the problem CONTINUE READING: Trump and Biden Finally Talk Schools - The New York Times

CURMUDGUCATION: VA: Teacher Ejected From Board Meeting For Live Covid Demo

CURMUDGUCATION: VA: Teacher Ejected From Board Meeting For Live Covid Demo
VA: Teacher Ejected From Board Meeting For Live Covid Demo

Henrico County Public School District is a Virginia school district that sits right beside Richmond. For the first part of the school year, they have been using distance learning, and finding it just as unsatisfactory as pretty much everyone else.

So the board has proposed a phased in return to a four-day week (with Wednesday off for cleaning). Students will have the option of remaining full virtual if they prefer. Like many districts Henrico has done some surveying of its stakeholders, and as in many districts, it hasn't clarified much. 50% of families want to stay on line. About 70% of the staff is willing to return to the classroom. 

The proposed phase in will start after Thanksgiving for elementary students, and secondary will be back in February. The "after Thanksgiving" part, given family holiday travel and gatherings, has some folks a bit nervous

One HCPS teacher decided to give the board a taste of that concern with the board by way of dramatic demonstration. Teacher Brent Halstead approached the board, stood about six feet away, took off his mask and opened up a bag of chips and some drink. This, he explained to the board, is CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: VA: Teacher Ejected From Board Meeting For Live Covid Demo

A patriotic education should include Black history

A patriotic education should include Black history
Here is what patriotic education should look like

resident Donald Trump recently announced his intention to create a 1776 Commission, charged with restoring patriotic, “pro-America” education to public schools.

Trump pointed to The New York Times’ 1619 Project, which explored the legacy of slavery in modern America and has been adopted by many districts across the country, as an example of framing America’s founding around “the principle of oppression, not freedom.”

The president fails to understand that acknowledging our shortcomings doesn’t mean perpetuating a story of oppression. We can admit our mistakes while also celebrating the heroes of our history — which must include Black history.

A truly patriotic education should inspire our students to reach their greatest potential — to lead movements, solve unsolvable problems, create new enterprises and fight for freedom. And to do that, we must build an education system that embraces Black history and cultures for the sake of all our children. 

A patriotic education should include the contribution of a Black doctor named Dr. Charles Drew, who developed techniques for preserving blood plasma — the very techniques that are showing promise in treatments for Covid-19 today. 

A patriotic education should include the story of  Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, the first doctor to perform open-heart surgery and a Black man who graduated from medical school just 18 years after the abolition of slavery. And it should include Gladys Westa Black mathematician whose work CONTINUE READING: A patriotic education should include Black history

U.S. Neglects Tomorrow | Live Long and Prosper

U.S. Neglects Tomorrow | Live Long and Prosper
U.S. Neglects Tomorrow

In Aesop’s tale of the ant and the grasshopper, the busy ant made preparations for the coming winter, while the flighty grasshopper played away the summer. When winter came, the ant was prepared with substantial food for the winter while the grasshopper was starving.

The United States seems determined to play the grasshopper when it comes to our future. We use up our energy without a thought of what will happen when it runs out — and fossil fuels, no matter what other arguments one might make about them — are a finite resource. We fill our landfills to bursting…and recycling is failing in its promise. We ignore the changing climate that is drying out the “nation’s breadbasket” and burning up California’s farmland. And, most important, we don’t seem concerned with preparing our future citizens and leaders, our children.

In 1989 Carl Sagan said,

…we have permitted the amount of poverty in children to increase. Before the end of this century, more than half the kids in America may be below the CONTINUE READING: U.S. Neglects Tomorrow | Live Long and Prosper