Latest News and Comment from Education

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Have You Heard Graduate Student Research Contest Is Back! – Have You Heard

The Have You Heard Graduate Student Research Contest Is Back! – Have You Heard
The Have You Heard Graduate Student Research Contest Is Back!

Are you a graduate student whose research on K-12 or higher education is ready for the podcast limelight? Then we have 30 minutes of prime audio real estate with your name on it.

Have You Heard is a biweekly education policy podcast, featuring scholar Jack Schneider and journalist Jennifer Berkshire. Seeking to move past the headlines and the talking points, the show presents important academic research in a humorous, easy-to-listen-to format. It may not be peer-reviewed, but Have You Heard does reach thousands of listeners with each episode, giving graduate students an audience many times larger than even the biggest AERA conference room.

To learn more about the show, check out the Have You Heard blog. Or better yet, pick your way through the show’s archives on iTunesSoundcloud or wherever you get your podcasts. You may be particularly interested in episodes we did with previous winners and runners-up: #69, #75, #95, #96.

To apply, send a brief (200-300 word) description of your research. Then, in no more than two sentences, make the case for why you think it belongs in a podcast. Tell us, too, where you’re in school and what program you’re enrolled in. A round of finalists will be invited to submit full versions of their research, and the winner of the Graduate Student Research Contest will appear on a spring 2021 episode.

Deadline: January 31, 2021

Contact: (our great grad assistant!)

What Joe Biden actually promised about replacing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos - The Washington Post

What Joe Biden actually promised about replacing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos - The Washington Post
What Biden actually promised about replacing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

On July 5, 2019, while talking with a crowd of K-12 teachers, Joe Biden promised that he would hire a teacher to replace Betsy DeVos as education secretary.

Biden wasn’t the only Democratic presidential candidate to make such a promise. But now that he is the one who is going to be president, there is high interest about his pick, who will lead the administration’s efforts to roll back DeVos’s agenda of pushing school choice and for-profit education. Biden’s choice will also signal how far he plans to deviate from the education policies of President Barack Obama, under whom he served for eight years as vice president.

Biden was at a candidates event in Houston with National Education Association members in July 2019 when he said: “First thing, as president of United States — not a joke — first thing I will do is make sure that the secretary of education is not Betsy DeVos. It is a teacher. A teacher. Promise.”

That promise has led many K-12 teachers from public schools to expect that he would pick an education secretary from their ranks, and many will be disappointed if that doesn’t happen.

Obama’s long-serving education secretary Arne Duncan infuriated teachers with school overhauls that used standardized test scores as key metrics for evaluating schools and teachers as well as other measures. They are expecting a different education agenda from Biden, whose platform includes big supports for teachers and public schools.

But Biden’s promise of a teacher as education secretary could also mean someone from higher education — even though the word “teacher” usually refers to the K-12 world. Speculation that the nomination might come from the higher education sector was fueled on Oct. 22, when Stef Feldman, the Biden campaign’s national policy director talked about education issues during a conversation with CONTINUE READING: 

J4J Open Letter to President-Elect Biden | Schott Foundation for Public Education

J4J Open Letter to President-Elect Biden | Schott Foundation for Public Education
J4J Open Letter to President-Elect Biden

The Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J), a grassroots education justice organization with dozens of local chapters across the country, highlighted candidate Joe Biden’s pledge to be “the best friend of public education” as they urged the President-Elect to choose a Secretary of Education committed to education justice. J4J’s open letter emphasizes the importance of the moment to undo the damage caused by years of disinvestment and privatization and to enact a positive vision of equity and education justice. Like J4J, Schott has been clear that the next Department of Education should center community voices and work to undo the effects of resource inequity and structural racism on our public education system. (Click here to see Biden's education promises at the historic grassroots education forum.)

November 23, 2020
Contact Jitu Brown (773) 317-6343

Letter to President-elect Joe Biden

President-elect Joseph Biden
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230
Dear President-elect Biden,

On behalf of the parents, students and community organizations that make up the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J) in over 30 cities across the United States, we congratulate you on your historic election victory. Your incoming administration has an enormous opportunity to prioritize equity for Black, Brown, and Indigenous families to address deep-rooted systemic racism in housing, health care, policing, the environment, and especially public education. 

Over the past 20 years, our communities have suffered through thousands of school closures, punitive standardized testing, students funneled into the school to prison pipeline and the expansion of the for-profit and non-profit charter industry as the government ignored the harm to our students and as the inequity created an apartheid system of education in our communities. The evidence is clear; 5 out of 6 Americans want their neighborhood public schools improved and not closed and an overwhelming majority of the public want fully resourced, equitably funded public schools as opposed to the charter industry and vouchers that have drained billions from our public schools.

The next Secretary of Education should not only be an educator but firmly committed to racial justice and uniting education expertise with community wisdom to finally create education equity in the United States.  Appointing another pro-privatization Secretary of Education would cause more harm to Black, Brown, Indigenous and LGBTQIA students and would be disrespectful the struggle and sacrifices of the education justice movement. J4J co-sponsored the historic presidential forum that you attended last December in Pittsburgh, Public Education Forum 2020; Equity and Opportunity for All which was attended by over 1000 people and viewed on MSNBC. It was clear from the forum that Black, Brown, and Indigenous parents, students, and educators across the U.S. are calling for equity: not the illusion of school choice.

At that forum, you told us that if you were in the White House, we would “not ever have a better friend for education.” We are eager to see the results of that promise, beginning with the critical selection of the Secretary to lead the Department of Education.

We are recommending the following people for Education Secretary as they have the expertise and the track record that would be a beacon of light for our communities.

  1. Dr. Judith Browne Dianis-Executive Director of the Advancement Project.  Dr. Browne Dianis has consistently championed the civil rights of public education students and stood with communities in the struggle for education equity.  Dr. Browne Dianis is hailed as an expert on voting rights, education equity and is a pioneer in the struggle to end the school to prison pipeline. The Title VI Civil Rights complaint that her office filed with parents from Newark, New Jersey successfully proved that school closings harmed Black students.
  2. Dr. Julian Vasquez Helig, University of Kentucky College of Education Dean-Dr. Vasquez is an award winning, teacher, researcher, leader, and dynamic voice for equity in public education.  Dr. Vasquez is a leader in the NAACP as well as a board member of the Network for Public Education. 
  3. Dr. John H. Jackson-President of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Dr. Jackson has been a leader in moving philanthropy to support Black-led community organizing for education justice.  He has been a leader in the NAACP and was appointed by President Clinton to be a senior advisor for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.  He is from Chicago, a product of Chicago Public Schools and a graduate of HBCU, Xavier University of Louisiana.
  4. Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers-Representing over 1.7 million educators across the United States, Mrs. Weingarten has over 30 years in the classroom and stood side by side with Black and Brown communities to expand evidence based education strategies such as sustainable community schools and resisting harmful practices such as school closings and the expansion of the charter industry.  She has demonstrated the ability to hear our communities appeals for racial justice and education equity and responded as a friend to public education.      

President-elect Biden, Black Lives Matter must mean more than slogans, marches or the take down of confederate statues. For us, it means transforming how institutions function in Black communities and dismantling educational racism. You have an enormous opportunity to transform public education and we humbly, yet vehemently assert that any of these selections would be a courageous step in the right direction. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter with you and your team.

Jitu Brown
National Director
Journey for Justice Alliance

Teacher Tom: Something That Always "Works"

Teacher Tom: Something That Always "Works"
Something That Always "Works"

A two-year-old was standing at the gate, his fingers through the slats, crying after his mommy who had left. The grandmother of another child was sitting with him. I wanted to go take her place, not because she was doing anything wrong, but it was the first day of a summer session, I imagined she was there to enjoy it with her own grandson, and I see it as a big part of my job to be with the kids when they struggle with the transition into their time with us. That said, there were some 30 other kids to be welcomed, along with their parents, and I had several other things to do to get things launched, so I left them there, knowing that at least the poor boy wasn't abandoned, even if he was feeling a bit that way.

It took about 10 minutes in order to carve out the time to get to them. He was still crying. This was the first time we had spoken, other than me saying, "I'm happy to see you," when he first arrived in his mother's arms. I sat beside him on the steps, used his name, and asked by way of confirmation, "Are you sad because your mommy left?"

He nodded.

Several of my old friends had followed me, excited to see me after a break, wanting to be in my sphere for a bit to start CONTINUE READING: 
Teacher Tom: Something That Always "Works"

Kevin Welner: The Urgent De-Vos-Ing of the Department of Education | Diane Ravitch's blog

Kevin Welner: The Urgent De-Vos-Ing of the Department of Education | Diane Ravitch's blog
Kevin Welner: The Urgent De-Vos-Ing of the Department of Education

I recently had the pleasure of reading Kevin Welner’s terrific new Onion-like book, “Potential Grizzlies: Making the Nonsense Bearable.” In tweets, I described Kevin as the Stephen Colbert and Groucho Marx of American education. Kevin and I had fun discussing the book on a Zoom sponsored by the Network for Public Education. (WATCH: Diane Ravitch in Conversation with Kevin Welner). Kevin has pledged all royalties he earns to the Network for Public Education. I hope you will watch, then buy the book, which makes a great holiday gift! To give you a feel for the book, here’s a new piece Kevin just wrote.

Perilous De-DeVos-ing Cleanup Is Underway

The Biden education transition team today assured a worried public that it is carefully following established procedures for the clean-up of the U.S. Department of Education. “The de-DeVos-ing process is indeed grueling, but all necessary precautions are being taken to assure a safe and complete mission,” said spokesperson Darcy Wiggins.

Four years of policy contaminants are reported to have CONTINUE READING: Kevin Welner: The Urgent De-Vos-Ing of the Department of Education | Diane Ravitch's blog

ANDRE PERRY: Black students: Don’t let white efforts at miseducation deny your legacy

Black students: Don’t let white efforts at miseducation deny your legacy
 Dear Black students: Don’t let white efforts at miseducation deny your legacy
‘The upholders of white supremacy have always tried to control us by obstructing our path to the schoolhouse through law, propaganda and duplicity. They are doing it again.’

Dear Black students,

The last seven months have presented you with a whirlwind of challenges that undoubtedly disrupted your schooling: The coronavirus pandemic, police killings of unarmed Black people, uprisings for racial justice, Western wildfires and a contentious presidential election in which efforts to disenfranchise voters in Black-majority cities have been bold and deliberate. You have to make sense of misinformation campaigns by politicians who think saying “fake news” will make their lies go away.

With all the distractions and attacks, it may sometimes be difficult to recall our legacy. For generations, we have fought for freedom and freedom’s antecedent, a quality education. Always, the upholders of white supremacy have tried to control us by obstructing our path to the schoolhouse through law, propaganda and duplicity. Now, they are doing it again.

Quoting his owner in his book, Life of an American Slavethe abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote, “[I]f you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave.” Douglass knew that an undereducated populace will be controlled. What we witnessed during this election was evidence that miseducation doesn’t just allow the continued control of Black people. The 57 percent of white people who cast their ballot for Donald Trump — who has yet to accept the truth and concede the election — represents a white achievement gap that marks a generation unfit for the workforce, college and democracy.

Even if half of America chooses ignorance, we should not. CONTINUE READING: Black students: Don’t let white efforts at miseducation deny your legacy

What Happened to the School in New Orleans That Was First to Desegregate? | Diane Ravitch's blog

What Happened to the School in New Orleans That Was First to Desegregate? | Diane Ravitch's blog
What Happened to the School in New Orleans That Was First to Desegregate?

You may recall the iconic painting of little Ruby Bridges, a first-grader, who was the first African American student to enroll in a previously all-white segregated school in New Orleans. If you don’t, be sure to read this article, which tells what happened to the William Franz Public School.

Three scholars–Connie L. Schaffer, Martha Graham Viator, and Meg White–tell the story. The three are also the co-authors of a book titled: William Frantz Public School: A Story of Race, Resistance, Resilience, and Recovery in New Orleans, which I am reading now and expect to review.

They write:

If that building’s walls could talk, they certainly would tell the well-known story of its desegregation. But those same walls could tell another story, too. That story is about continued racism as well as efforts to dismantle and privatize public education in America over the past six decades.

When little Ruby Bridges enrolled in November 1960, she was escorted by four federal marshalls. Crowds of angry CONTINUE READING: What Happened to the School in New Orleans That Was First to Desegregate? | Diane Ravitch's blog

To Test or Not to Test, That Is the Question | Diane Ravitch's blog

To Test or Not to Test, That Is the Question | Diane Ravitch's blog
To Test or Not to Test, That Is the Question

Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether the mandated federal tests should be administered this spring. When the pandemic was first acknowledged last March, Betsy DeVos offered waivers to states that wanted to suspend the testing. Although Biden has publicly expressed disdain for standardized testing, there has been no hint of whether he will appoint a Secretary of Education with instructions to do as much as DeVos did in deferring the annual testing.

My view: Resumption of standardized testing is completely ridiculous in the midst of a pandemic. The validity of the tests has always been an issue; their validity in the midst of a national crisis will be zero. They will show, even more starkly, that students who are in economically secure families have higher test scores than those who do not. They will show that children in poverty and children with disabilities have suffered disproportionately due to lack of schooling. We already know that. Why put pressure on students and teachers to demonstrate what we already know? At this point, we don’t even know whether all students will have the advantage of in-person instruction by March.

If anything, we need a thorough review of the value, validity, and reliability of annual standardized testing, a practice that is unknown in any high-performing nation in CONTINUE READING: To Test or Not to Test, That Is the Question | Diane Ravitch's blog

Shawgi Tell: Charter School Promoters Complain About Inability to Pilfer More Public Funds | Dissident Voice

Charter School Promoters Complain About Inability to Pilfer More Public Funds | Dissident Voice
Charter School Promoters Complain About Inability to Pilfer More Public Funds

While they have constantly been at it, every now and then charter school advocates self-servingly complain more vociferously than usual about how they are unable to funnel even more public funds from public schools into the hands of narrow private interests.

A quick review of charter school news in recent days shows no fewer than a dozen well-coordinated articles about how privately-operated charter schools are not receiving their “fair share” of public funds and that public schools are getting more money than them and this supposedly puts charter schools “at a disadvantage.” The well-synchronized news articles revolve around a November 2020 “study” from the University of Arkansas, Department of Education Reform, titled: “Charter School Funding: Inequity Surges in the Cities.”1 Not surprisingly, the Department of Education Reform is funded by the main billionaire supporters of school privatization such as the Walton Foundation. Such “studies” are usually capital-centered disinformation pieces, not rigorous research conducted on the basis of fidelity to the public interest.2

First and foremost, crisis-prone charter schools are privatized education arrangements that operate according to the outdated ideologies of individualism, consumerism, and the “free market.” Charter schools are contract schools, not state agencies like public schools. Charter schools are not public schools in the proper sense of the word. Charter schools and public schools are different entities with different legal, social, historical, and economic profiles and aims. They cannot be equated. It is a misnomer to call CONTINUE READING: Charter School Promoters Complain About Inability to Pilfer More Public Funds | Dissident Voice

CURMUDGUCATION: The False God Data Fails Again

CURMUDGUCATION: The False God Data Fails Again
The False God Data Fails Again

The dream of the Cult of Data is that for any issue, we simply design an instrument for collecting the data, analyze the Data, and select a solution suggested by the Data. Phrases like "data driven" or "data informed" are used to express the assumption that decisions backed by Data are inherently smarter, better, stronger, and wiser than Those Other Kinds of decisions. 

But what if they aren't? What if Data doesn't actually solve anythung?

I've made this point before while writing about the NAEP, the gold standard, America's report card, the test that is supposed to give us data that is clear and clean and objective and allows us to make wise decisions. Except that it doesn't. The Data come out, the arguments follow, and the hard data from the NAEP test settles exactly nothing.

Now here we go again. 

Matt Barnum, my personal favorite Chalkbeat reporter, took a look at a recent gathering of education experts who wanted to look at a simple question- are the gaps in test scores between the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy closing? Seems straightforward, and yet...

No one could answer the question. Or, more precisely, no one could agree on the answer. One researcher claimed the gap was growing, another said it was shrinking, and a third argued that it hadn’t changed much in decades.

It depends. It depends on which Data you look at, which data you trust, which data represents what you think it represents. And as Barnum points out, this is a particularly remarkable question to be stumped by, because the test score gap (aka "the CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: The False God Data Fails Again

NYC Educator: UFT Town Hall November 23, 2020

NYC Educator: UFT Town Hall November 23, 2020
UFT Town Hall November 23, 2020

By special guest Mindy Rosier


UFT President Michael Mulgrew % PM

Thank you for coming on. Thank you for all you are doing. I want to use today to explain what we are dealing with. We have a lot to cover. 

I really wanted to do this Town Hall this week because it's Thanksgiving. Be safe, follow advice of the medical professionals.  You all heard about instances of family gatherings and it spreads. 

When we first put our plan together, we also needed a plan in place to reopen. We fought for the cleaning, procedures, small class sizes, ple, we had guidance in place what would happen if the rates go up. 

There was no state plan until Oct. There are 2 different plans and its confusing. The difference is the city doesn't have the legal authority to shut businesses down. The state does. The city threshold was 3%. . The state is always recalculating. There are always two sets of numbers. They calculated things differently.  The state us right now a little lower in the city. A couple of weeks ago they were higher. 

 3 is the mayor's number. The epidemiologist said that was fine, though certain districts can shut the whole city down. 

We should have only plan. The state was closing schools at a very rapid pace in their system. We like it with the colors. Testing ramps up in yellow. Orange is when they start shutting things down and red nothing is working. 

The two plans look ridiculous to the public. Think of where we started. We came up with the plan and we have to follow the plan. The mayor did the right thing to follow this plan. But the state has a better plan. The city didn't want to do it this way. We knew it would be much better that if there was an area that's a problem,that area would close the schools of that area. The people in the schools, they are all doing their jobs keeping the schools safe. But we can't s control the community. We need to all work together. Schools won't stay safe if the rates go up. It is important we have a plan in place, having 2 plans do not make sense. The state did not have a plan before but the state is much more aggressive with testing. As we move thru this, there will be more challenges. Six or seven districts caused the whole system to shut down. The city plan was approved by the state. The state will continue to kove forward with testing and remote if necessary.  

Decisions need to be made to keep a of us safe and our families. These constantly changes, everything gets politicized. Vaccine info is looking good. We are going to see when this goes. When will we open? Everyone is getting very concerned and with traveling for Thanksgiving.  City expects the state to put the whole city in orange. We need to get the CONTINUE READING: NYC Educator: UFT Town Hall November 23, 2020

This Giving Tuesday Support NPE - Network For Public Education

This Giving Tuesday Support NPE - Network For Public Education