Latest News and Comment from Education

Monday, November 16, 2020


Big Education Ape


Michigan halts in-person learning in all high schools for 3 weeks as COVID cases rise via @ChalkbeatDET

DCPS And Teachers' Union Strike Deal On Reopening Schools | DCist - via @dcist

Schools want to end online classes for struggling kids, but COVID-19 cases may send everyone home via @usatoday

Racine Health Order Closes Schools After Thanksgiving, Private Schools Weigh Legal Action | WUWM -

Chicago’s steep enrollment losses hit high-poverty schools hardest - Chalkbeat Chicago - on chalkbeat

Charter schools could find it tougher to win approval in San Diego - The San Diego Union-Tribune - by @Kristen_Taketa on @sdut

Parents denounce Montgomery County COVID-19 school closures in two weekend protests - via @PhillyInquirer

Republicans plan to overhaul Ohio's school voucher system via @DispatchAlerts

Millions of Students Have Limited Contact With Teachers | Education News | US News - on @USNews

Stitt removes board president leading inquiries into Epic Charter Schools and board member conflicts of interest, appoints Christian school leader | Local News | - by @ on @tulsaworld

New Orleans students honor Ruby Bridges 60 years after she desegregated William Frantz school | Education | - on @nolanews

"To Kill a Mockingbird," other books banned from California schools over racism concerns

Michigan Republicans make it crystal clear: They are on TEAM COVID | Eclectablog - on @Eclectablog

VAMboozled!: New Teacher Evaluation Report Released by the Network for Public Education | National Education Policy Center - on @NEPCtweet

School warnings about children's weight don't work, study says - CNN -

Virginia teachers’ groups ask Gov. Northam to return state to all-virtual instruction - The Washington Post -

These educators ran for office—and won! - Education Votes

These educators ran for office—and won! - Education Votes
These educators ran for office—and won!

By Amanda Menas

When Kenneth Tang retired from teaching elementary school in California’s Garvey School District, it was his mission to do all he could to continue to help his students. When a position on the school board for his district became open, his former students urged him to run.

“[My students] were telling me that they felt unheard [at to school board meetings] and about all these issues that they had in school,” said Tang, who was elected to the Alhambra Unified School District School Board this year. “They felt that I could be their voice.”

Tang was one of more than 80 educators, including many educators of color, who ran for office in 2020 and won. He used his experience as a participant in See Educators Run–NEA’s non-partisan political candidate training program designed especially for educators–to propel his campaign to victory.

“In this political environment it is even more critical now for educators to really step into the political arena, especially running for political office, because many times decisions are being made for us outside of the classroom,” said Tang.

Sue Cahill, who teaches in the Marshalltown Community School District in Iowa, knows that well as she begins to transition back to all distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a long time educator and another participant of the See Educators Run program, Cahill knew that prioritizing education issues on her campaign platform meant not only supporting her students while they were in her classroom, but throughout their entire lives.

“Education involves from early childhood, helping families of newborns and toddlers be CONTINUE READING: These educators ran for office—and won! - Education Votes

The Election Is Over. How Do We Help Our Students (And Ourselves) Heal? - Philly's 7th Ward

The Election Is Over. How Do We Help Our Students (And Ourselves) Heal? - Philly's 7th Ward

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” -Audre Lorde

After one of the most tumultuous and fraught elections of our lifetime, Joe Biden was chosen to be our next President, and Kamala Harris the next Vice President. A time for celebration in many corners, to be sure, but let’s not forget that over 70 million Americans voted the other way.

And we cannot forget that, just two weeks ago, Walter Wallace, Jr. was senselessly murdered at the hands of the Philadelphia Police Department and, before that, Breonna Taylor’s killers went unpunished and lack of accountability across the board signaled to everyone that business will go on as usual. 2020 has been punctuated with tragedy after tragedy, trauma after trauma—the ongoing convulsions of a national reckoning with racial inequity. 

The election was clearly a divisive, stressful time for our country, and especially for our students. And this stress came on top of a nation already in shock and mourning from COVID-19 that is still forcing us to face the deadly racial and social inequities worsened by four long years of a discordant CONTINUE READING: The Election Is Over. How Do We Help Our Students (And Ourselves) Heal? - Philly's 7th Ward

Teacher Tom: Time Travel

Teacher Tom: Time Travel
Time Travel

I don't catch a whiff of cigar smoke very often these days, but I recently passed a couple of men enjoying stogies over glasses of wine and the scent carried me instantly back to my youth, playing baseball under the lights at Legion Field in Corvallis, Oregon. There was always a fan or two smoking a cigar in the stands and in an instant, my mind was transported over four decades back in time, taken there by the memories attached to that particular hot, sweet smoke.

Odor is a well-known trigger for time travel. Just the right whiff of rosemary or gasoline or a freshly mown lawn can send our minds into the the past and for a moment, however brief, we are someplace else. I've found that this happens more and more as I've aged. I imagine that this is likely because the more I've lived, the more past I've created.

One of my loved ones lost her sense of smell in her early 60's. Not long after that, she began to lose some of her memories, the beginning of the cruel process of dementia. I have no way of knowing if the two things are connected, but it seems possible given how powerfully, and uncontrollably, odor yanks us into our memories. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe scent is how we pull the past into the present.

Olfactory cues are vital to the formation of the bond between mothers and their newborns and are probably at least as CONTINUE READING: Teacher Tom: Time Travel

Betsy DeVos' Legacy: Transforming How The Education Department Treats Civil Rights | HuffPost

Betsy DeVos' Legacy: Transforming How The Education Department Treats Civil Rights | HuffPost
Betsy DeVos’ Legacy: Transforming How The Education Department Treats Civil Rights
The Education Department has been slow to investigate complaints of discrimination related to COVID-19, HuffPost has learned. Employees say it’s part of a pattern of disorganization that has emerged under Trump.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has spent months failing to make meaningful progress on urgent complaints of education discrimination relating to COVID-19, even as the pandemic continues to turn schools upside down and put vulnerable students at an even further disadvantage, according to multiple sources.  

In September, employees in at least some of the department’s regional offices were informed that civil rights complaints specific to COVID-19 ― such as for children who have not been receiving accommodations for their disability during remote learning ― would require scrutiny from the highest levels of management, a development that would substantially slow the pace by which any of these complaints could get resolved. 

A parent and an advocate have also been given the message that coronavirus-related complaints are unlikely to be addressed in the near future. After disability rights advocate Marcie Lipsitt filed several complaints on behalf of families whose children with disabilities were not receiving appropriate services from their school during shutdowns, she received a call from a department attorney informing her that complaints referencing COVID-19 were receiving greater scrutiny than non-coronavirus complaints and rewriting them without references to the pandemic could help them get processed faster. 

HuffPost has also reviewed an email from regional management to a group of employees telling them that COVID-19 complaints are requiring additional review from headquarters. Still, the Education Department has denied that such levels of scrutiny are taking place. 

“This information is categorically false and represents the viewpoint of a low-level employee CONTINUE READING:

Students deserve an explanation for the origins of the Electoral College

Students deserve an explanation for the origins of the Electoral College
TEACHER VOICE: The United States is not a democracy. Stop telling students that it is
“Students are commanded to vote, but not to judge the fundamental questions of governance not on the ballot — like the legitimacy of the Electoral College”

When U.S. voters recently cast their ballots, an unchecked pandemic raged through the nation, uprisings against racism and police violence stretched into their eighth month, and new climate change-intensified storms formed in the Atlantic.

The reactionary and undemocratic system by which we select our president was an insult to the urgency of the moment. Although millions more people voted for Joe Biden than for Donald Trump — the difference is now 5.4 million — it took several days to learn who won, thanks to the Electoral College. To the relief of many, it appears that this time — unlike in 2000 and 2016 — the candidate who got the most votes nationwide also won the presidential election.

If our students only learn about this exceptionally strange system from their corporate-produced history and government textbooks, they will have no clue why this is how we choose our president. More importantly, they will have a stunted sense of their own power — and little reason to believe they might have the potential to create something better.

To review: A voter in Montana gets 31 times the electoral bang for their presidential ballot than a voter in New York. A voter in Wyoming has 70 times the representation in the U.S. Senate as a voter in California, while citizens in Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. have none. The Republican Senate majority that recently confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court was elected by 14 million fewer votes than the 47 senators who voted against her confirmation.

Yet politicians and pundits regularly pronounce the United States a “democracy,” as if that designation is self-evident and incontrovertible. Textbooks and mainstream civics curricula make the same mistake, CONTINUE READING: Students deserve an explanation for the origins of the Electoral College

Epidemiologist: How to Reopen Schools Safely | Diane Ravitch's blog

Epidemiologist: How to Reopen Schools Safely | Diane Ravitch's blog
Epidemiologist: How to Reopen Schools Safely

Benjamin P. Linas, an epidemiologist, writes in VOX that both blue and red states are doing the wrong things about the pandemic. The blue states are too quick to close down schools and the red states are too quick to keep them open without proper safety measures. The Trump administration has provided no guidance at all and left it to states to craft their own responses, which mostly fall along partisan lines.

He describes a plan that he hopes the new Biden administration will adopt that will both contain the pandemic and enable schools to be open for in-person instruction.

Linas offers a plan that he hopes will be the basis for a new approach:

Our current political leaders are failing to provide a clear, national plan for reopening America’s schools. The incoming Biden-Harris administration has announced that it will provide new funds and guidance, but details have not yet emerged. Below are four essential elements for such a plan. 

1) Clear guidance for when and how to open (and close) schools

Such guidance includes two components. One is CONTINUE READING: Epidemiologist: How to Reopen Schools Safely | Diane Ravitch's blog

Donald Trump Exemplifies Plutocratic Populism Run Amok: the Implications for All of Us | janresseger

Donald Trump Exemplifies Plutocratic Populism Run Amok: the Implications for All of Us | janresseger
Donald Trump Exemplifies Plutocratic Populism Run Amok: the Implications for All of Us

The United States has become a textbook case, and I don’t mean merely a textbook case of pandemic denial, although that is also true.  Last July, two political science professors, Jacob Hacker of Yale University and Paul Pierson from the University of California at Berkeley, published a thorough analysis of the politics of today’s Republican Party. They explain that President Donald Trump is a mere symptom of what the Republican Party has become.

In Let Them Eat Tweets, Hacker and Pierson define “plutocratic populism.” They preview what we subsequently watched through the fall’s presidential election campaign, and what we were still observing this past weekend in Washington, D.C. as Donald Trump’s bullies paraded en masse, ending in a violent melee.  Here are Hacker and Pierson on the rise of Republican plutocratic populism over recent decades:

“As the GOP embraced plutocratic priorities, it pioneered a set of electoral appeals that were increasingly strident, alarmist, and racially charged. Encouraging white backlash and anti-government extremism, the party outsourced voter mobilization to a set of aggressive and narrow groups: the National Rifle Association, the organized Christian right, the burgeoning industry of right-wing media. When and where that proved insufficient, it adopted a ruthless focus on altering electoral rules, maximizing the sway of its base and minimizing the influence of the rest of the electorate through a variety of anti-democratic tactics, from voter disenfranchisement to extreme partisan gerrymandering to laws and practices opening the floodgates to big money. And more and more, it coupled this vote rigging with even more extreme strategies to undermine the checks and balances in our system, weakening CONTINUE READING: Donald Trump Exemplifies Plutocratic Populism Run Amok: the Implications for All of Us | janresseger

CURMUDGUCATION: Donors Choose Monday: The Extra Screen

CURMUDGUCATION: Donors Choose Monday: The Extra Screen
Donors Choose Monday: The Extra Screen

Every Monday, I'm making a donation to someone on Donors Choose, a well-rated charity site that lets folks offer financial support to teachers across the country. No, we shouldn't have to do this. Yes, some of the requests might raise an eyebrow (is that something you really need, really?) But we are where we are in the world right now, and this is a small way to help support individual classrooms in a concrete way.

This week I'm looking at a request for a second screen. Actually, there are many such requests on the site. If you have never had a second screen, well-- it's heaven. Two or three windows open at once, able to work on this without having to minimize that. And in the age of the zoom meeting (or Google Meet or whatever software you're using during the pandemess), a second screen can be one of those things that just makes life a bunch easier. It's exactly the kind of thing that a teacher can really benefit from and administration would label an unnecessary luxury.

So I'm donating to a teacher at the Young Women's Leadership School in the Bronx. The dollar CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: Donors Choose Monday: The Extra Screen

America Might Not Know Biden’s Choice for US Ed Sec Until January | deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

America Might Not Know Biden’s Choice for US Ed Sec Until January | deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog
America Might Not Know Biden’s Choice for US Ed Sec Until January

Given President-elect Joe Biden’s “deliberative approach” in choosing his Cabinet, it seems that his selection for US ed sec may well follow the January 05, 2021, runoff elections for the two US Senate seats in Georgia.

If Democrats are tied with Republicans for the number of Senate seats– which can only happen if both Georgia Democratic contenders, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, win their races– then as president of the Senate, Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris becomes the decisive vote, thus giving Democrats de facto control.

Whether the Senate is controlled by Republicans or Democrats may well determine who, exactly, Biden is able to have confirmed in his Cabinet, including in the position of US ed sec.

Both former National Education Association (NEA) president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, and current American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president, Randi Weingarten, have been in the news as potential candidates for US ed sec. However, I think it is a bad idea for Biden to choose either Eskelsen Garcia or Weingarten because they have both had lengthy careers in national union leadership, which would make it seem that the position of US secretary of education is little more than an extension of a national teachers union. California State Board of Ed president, Linda Darling-Hammond was also mentioned as a contender (and is also heading Biden’s education transition team, which she did for Obama in 2008); however, Darling-Hammond has clearly removed her name from consideration.

Biden could choose from any number of state education superintendents, which may or may not lead to someone with a solid history as a classroom teacher. There is also the possibility of Biden selecting someone with a higher ed background, a door apparently left open by CONTINUE READING: America Might Not Know Biden’s Choice for US Ed Sec Until January | deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

Who’s Whispering in Biden’s Ear? (And who is he listening too …?) | Ed In The Apple

Who’s Whispering in Biden’s Ear? (And who is he listening too …?) | Ed In The Apple
Who’s Whispering in Biden’s Ear? (And who is he listening too …?)

The late 1920’s saw seemingly everlasting increases in stock prices, the Hoover Boom Market; in September and October of 1929 the market stumbled and on October 29th, Black Tuesday the market tumbled and the nation fell into the Great Depression. President Hoover saw the “crash” as a “correction,” the “invisible hand” would intervene; the market and the economy would revive as it always had in the past; by November 1932 the nation was in a deep depression, unparalleled unemployment, and the economy continued to tumble,

On March 4th, 1933, Inauguration Day, FDR delivered his “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” speech – listen to excerpts here.

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

In the inaugural address FDR also threatened Congress,

 “I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. …

And while he “hoped” Congress would work with him he made it clear,

It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority CONTINUE READING: Who’s Whispering in Biden’s Ear? (And who is he listening too …?) | Ed In The Apple

When we return from remote… | JD2718

When we return from remote… | JD2718
When we return from remote…

Will New York City public schools switch to all remote? Wrong question. First of all, it’s not “will we go remote?”, but “when will we go remote?”. But that’s not the right question either.

When we return from all-remote, how will we return? Because blended learning sucks. There’s the question. In the real universe, in person regular school is best. Remote is bad. But blended is the worst.

Already there are schools that have made their instruction remote, and do academic, emotional and social support in school. There are other schools where students come into the building, and sign onto zoom classes. There are other schools which are blended in name only, where instruction only happens when the kids come to the building. And then there are schools where the teachers are assigned to teach in person AND remote. Many of those teachers will burn out.

Blended, the way Carranza and de Blasio defined it, and the way Mulgrew pitched it, is not the reality in most NYC schools. Didn’t make sense. Couldn’t be.

The hand off between two teachers per class was unrealistic. The erratic in school / out of school schedule is problematic. Curricula were not redesigned for this strange modality. And the agreement to almost double class size for blended remote was ridiculous.

What other options do we have? My question is about what happens when the positive rate in NYC drops back down.

Short version:

  • Expand the RECs
  • Banish Blended. Bring some students in full time. Teach the rest fully remotely.
  • Real PD, practitioner-led, for remote teaching.
  • Lower class size
  • Adjust curricula. Adapt curricula.
  • Expand prep time.
  • Go easy on the kids.
  • Suspend standardized testing.


  1. Expand the Regional Education Centers. “Staffed by DOE  CONTINUE READING: When we return from remote… | JD2718