Latest News and Comment from Education

Saturday, February 6, 2021


  Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all

A site to discuss better education for all

Dana Milbank: The GOP Has an Anti-Semitism Problem
Dana Milbank is a regular opinion writer for the Washington Post. He wrote about the Republicans’ anti-Semitism problem. They refuse to denounce anti-Semitism. Bigotry multiplies. For more than five years, I begged Republicans to reject the creeping anti-Semitism Donald Trump brought to the party, noting on the eve of the 2016 election that “when a demagogue begins to identify scapegoats, the Jew
North Carolina Adopts New Social Studies Curriculum, Despite Opposition of Black Lieutenant Governor
North Carolina adopted a new social studies curriculum, despite the efforts of the newly elected Lieutenant Governor to remove any references to “systemic racism.” (CNN)The North Carolina State Board of Education has passed a new standard for teaching social studies that will include a more diverse perspective of history. The board added language for educators to teach about racism, discriminatio


Tennessee: State Supreme Court Will Review Voucher Case
The Tennessee legislature passed a voucher law. It was declared unconstitutional by lower courts. However the State Supreme Court will revisit the issue. Voucher advocates are hopeful. Think of all the low-cost, low-quality religious schools that will drain public dollars away from the state’s public schools. Vouchers will not only take money away from the public schools, they will lower the over
Summing Up the Work of the NPE Grassroots Network: 2020
Marla Kilfoyle, director of the Network for Public Education’s Grassroots Network, summarizes the work of the 160 or so organizations across the nation in 2020, that used their energies to promote, defend, and improve public schools. Marla begins like this: The NPE Grassroots Education Network is a network of over 160 grassroots organizations nationwide who have joined together to preserve, promo
SOS Arizona Asks for Your Help to Stand Up for Public Schools
AZ lawmakers think they can pull a fast one on AZ voters: They’re trying to force through Senate Bill 1452, a gigantic expansion of ESA vouchers that robs funds from public education in ways even more harmful and wide-ranging than any of their previous attempts. SB1452, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chair and *charter school teacher* Paul Boyer (Republican, Legislative District 20), is
Carol Burris: Cardona Is a Public School Guy
Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, watched the Senate confirmation hearings of Miguel Cardona for Secretary of Education. She was delighted to hear his responses on issues that matter to friends of the public schools. She wrote for this blog: On February 3, I tuned in and listened to Dr. Miguel Cardona’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education. I was anx
New Hampshire: “Historic” Turnout Against Proposed Universal Voucher Plan
New Hampshire has a Republican Governor, Chris Sununu, who appointed the state Commissioner of Education, Frank Edelblut. The commissioner home-schooled his children. He hates public schools and would like to defund them. If you thought Betsy DeVos was bad because of her zeal for privatization, Edelblut is far worse. At the first public hearing about Edelblut’s radical voucher plan, public turnou
Texas: Stop the STAAR Test. It’s a Waste of Money and Students’ Time
David Berliner and Sharon Nichols wrote this opinion article for the San Antonio Express-News. The headline: “STAAR Outcome Obvious; Test Is a Waste of $90 Million.” Nichols is a professor at the University of Texas in San Antonio and Berliner is an emeritus professor at Arizona State University. They write: Published in the San-Antonio Express-News, Wednesday 2/3/2021 STOP THE STAAR TESTING—TEXA

FEB 04

Rachel Levy Is Running for the Virginia House of Delegates. She Deserves Our Support!
I have known Rachel Levy for about a decade as a strong and fearless supporter of public schools. She just announced her candidacy for the Virginia House of Delegates. I will help her in every way possible, including a donation to her campaign. I hope you will help her too. Dear Friends, It’s time. I’m ready. I’m running. I am a teacher, a parent, and a community leader with a PhD in education. I
Houston: School Board Seeks to Squelch Student Activism
In 2015, I wrote about a group of high school students in Houston who sued the state for underfunding public schools. Valerie Strauss wrote about them too. She wrote: ““The two students who filed the brief on behalf of the HISD Student Congress, an organization that represents about 215,000 students in the district, are Zaakir Tameez, a member of the 2015 class of Carnegie Vanguard High School, a
EdTrust and Other Groups Ask Cardona NOT to Allow Testing Waivers
One of the first and most important decisions that Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona will make is whether to grant waivers to the states that want to suspend the annual federal testing mandated by the Every Student Succeeds Act. Some states–like New York–intend to request waivers, in light of the turmoil and unequal access to education caused by the pandemic. Others–like Texas and Arkansas–plan
Jeff Bryant: DeVos Is Gone, But the Voucher Movement Presses Forward
Jeff Bryant writes in Alternet about the renewed strength of the voucher forces, which have been energized by Republican gains in the states in the 2020 elections. They aim to defund the public schools that enroll most children and send public money to private and religious schools, even to home schoolers and entrepreneurs. He begins: Supporters of public education and school teachers were reliev
What You Need to Know About Standardized Testing
Valerie Strauss posted this article that I wrote on her Washington Post site “The Answer Sheet.” The tests now required by federal law are worthless. The results are reported too late to matter. The reports to teachers do not tell them what students do or do not know. The tests tell students whether they did well or poorly on a test they took six months ago. They do not measure “learning loss.” D

FEB 03

Andrew Tobias: The Madness of Crowds
Andrew Tobias blogs occasionally, usually around 1 a.m., and he usually has interesting perspectives on politics, culture, and economics. This is a good one: The Madness Of Crowds More than a third of Republicans believe the QAnon conspiracy that Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a shadowy cabal of paedophile cannibals is “mostly true” . . . So, for the record: > No Democrat I know has
Armed Protesters Are Making Protests Dangerous and Risky
This article in the New York Times magazine describes a protest at the Capitol in Virginia on January 20, 2020. It is supposed to be an annual event where people peaceably assemble to exercise their Constitutional rights and express support for their causes. But last year was different. And it raises this question: Can Americans peaceably assemble when many of them are armed with military-grade w
New Hampshire: Republicans Introduce Sweeping Voucher Legislation
One of the casualties of the 2020 election was public education in New Hampshire, because Republicans regained control of the legislature. They already hold the Governorship (Chris Sununu, son of John Sununu, who was also Governor of New Hampshire and chief of staff to the first President Bush). The Republicans’ top priority is school vouchers. Their program, if enacted, would be the most expansi
Axios: Inside the Craziest Meeting of the Trump Presidency
Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu interviewed people who were in the “room where it happened,” the meeting where Trump’s lawyers duked it out with conspiracy theorists in the White House on December 18. Their account of the meeting is gripping. Four conspiracy theorists marched into the Oval Office. It was early evening on Friday, Dec. 18 — more than a month after the election had been declared for

FEB 02

Florida: Stop the Mega-Voucher Bill!
The Constitution of the state of Florida bans the transfer of public funds to religious schools or any religious institution. The ban is unequivocal. It says: “No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” In 20
As Trump Era Ends, “School Choice Movement” Must Confront Its Conservative Roots
Avi Wolfman-Arent writes at the Philadelphia PBS website WHYY about the uncomfortable dilemma of the “school choice movement.” At least some of the choice champions had not come to grips with the fact that their movement was funded by Trump supporters. Perhaps the reckoning might have caused them to wonder if they were being used. It’s easy to forget–or perhaps never realize–that the school choic
Oh, No! The Culture Wars Are Back (If They Ever Left)!
Back in the 1980s, the culture wars were at full pitch, with ethnic groups competing with one another for time and space in the social studies and history curriculum. In 1987, Jesse Jackson led a demonstration of 500 protesters at Stanford University chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western civ has got to go!” In 1989, the introductory Western Culture program was replaced by “Culture, Ideas, and Valu
Pastors For Texas Children Ask U.S. Department of Education: Please Regulate the Growth of New Charters in Texas
The Pastors for Texas Children sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education seeking relief from the deluge of federal funding for charters that is inundating Texas and undermining its underfunded public schools. PTC asks for regulations to prevent harm to the public schools that enroll the vast majority of children. Read its letter in the PDF attached here .
Mercedes Schneider and I: New Members of the House Education and Labor Committee
We start the day today with reports from Mercedes Schneider and from me on the new members of the House Education and Labor Committee. We both spent several hours on Sunday putting together posts, not aware that the other was doing the same thing. Mercedes reviewed the backgrounds of the Republicans just added to the committee, and she picked up some very interesting information that I missed. I

FEB 01

Republicans Want to Slash Funding for Schools in COVID Relief Bill
Politico reports that Republicans have come up with a “compromise” COVID relief bill that slashes funding for schools. President Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion relief bill, that includes $170 billion for schools. Republicans have offered a COVID relief bill of $600 billion with a dramatic cut for schools, reducing the school aid to $20 billion. In the previous COVID relief (the CARES Act), ch
Joel Westheimer: Americans Are Losing Faith in Democracy
Joel Westheimer is American-born but lives in Canada, where he teaches Democracy and Education at the University of Ottawa. He writes: The attack on the U.S. Capitol building was shocking but not a surprise to those studying extremism in the United States where support for democracy has been plummeting. In 1995, just one in sixteen Americans agreed with the idea that it would be “good” or “very g
Oklahoma: Second-Grade Girl Expelled Because She Admits She Likes Another Girl
Rejoice Christian School in Owasso, Oklahoma, was expelled because she told another girl that she had a crush on her. If every little girl who had the same feelings for a best friend admitted the same, there would be very few little girls left in school. Children at that age are not thinking about sex, although their elders are. Should public funds support religious schools? Of course not.
Jake Jacobs Reviewed Hillary’s Dreadful Education Plan
Jake Jacobs, an art teacher in New York City, a leader of New York BadAss Teachers, and a writer for The Progressive, read and reviewed Hillary Clinton’s policy briefing book in 2017 and reviewed the education section for Alternet. I missed his article, but it’s worth reading now to understand how advocates of privatization have inserted themselves into both political parties and use their vast w
2016: Hillary’s Dreadful Education Plan
I recently received a copy of Hillary Clinton’s policy book, assembled for her by her most trusted advisors in 2014. This policy book was released in 2016 by Wikileaks after it hacked into John Podesta’s emails. The education section begins on page 156. Clinton’s lead education advisor was Ann O’Leary, who is now chief of staff to California Governor Gavin Newsom. Let me say at the outset that if

JAN 31

Guess Who Paid for Trump’s January 6 Rally?
The Wall Street Journal has the details on the money behind Trump’s incendiary “Stop the Steal—Save America” rally of January 6, which preceded a violent attack on the nation’s Capitol: The rally in Washington’s Ellipse that preceded the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was arranged and funded by a small group including a top Trump campaign fundraiser and donor facilitated by far-right show host A
FBI Probes Planning for Violent Coup on January 6
How close we came to a bloody coup. Only a few yards and a few minutes separated the terrorists from their targets, the leaders of Congress and the Vice-President. Thanks to the overwhelmed Capitol Police who did their jobs, many lives were saved when a mob of thousands of people, stirred up by Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, attacked the U.S. Capitol. The FBI has been investigating those who plan
Peter Greene: The Robograding Fraud
The ultimate killer of robograding os Dr. Les Perelman of MIT, who recently retired as a professor teaching writing to students at MIT. Les Perelman and his students cracked the code of robograders and showed how easy it is to fool the computer scoring essays. Use long sentences. Use o score or multisyllabic words. Don’t worry about whether your assertions make sense or are correct. The robograde
North Carolina Hopes to Demolish Its Public Schools, Too
A few days ago, I published a list of states that are considering new legislation to defund their public schools while expanding the corporate charter sector and increasing the funding of vouchers for failing religious schools. One state was inexplicably left off that list of infamy: North Carolina. A bill has been filed in that state peppered with words like “equity” and “opportunity,” a typical
John Thompson: Oklahoma’s Disastrous Efforts to Privatize Everything
John Thompson is a historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma. He keeps us abreast of what is happening in his home state. He writes: Now that Oklahoma voters rejected Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recommendations and chose to accept hundreds of millions of dollars a year of Medicaid Expansion funds , policy-makers must ask what could go wrong with Stitt’s current effort to privatize up to $2 billion in Okla
Texas Requires Students to Take State Test in Person
While other states are requesting waivers from federally-mandated tests this spring, Texas is moving forward, requiring all students to take in-person tests. Given the stress and dislocation caused by the pandemic, this is madness. State Commissioner Mike Morath was never an educator, and apparently he lacks common decency. Instruction has been uneven for almost a year, and many students have exp

JAN 30

Who is Madison Cawthorn?
Madison Cawthorn is a Republican member of Congress from North Carolina. He was elected last fall when he was only 24, the youngest person ever elected to Congress. He spoke at the Trump rally that preceded the violent siege of Congress on January 6. He is to the very far-right of the Republican Party. He uses a wheelchair due to an automobile accident that almost took his life. He is considered
Iran: The Fight Against Privatization of Education 40 Years After the Revolution
This is a fascinating report on the state of education in Iran, forty years after the revolution, emphasizing the resistance to privatization. The authors are Mohammad Reza Niknejad and Behnam Zoghi Roudsari . The authors shared the article with me. I was surprised and delighted to learn that my book Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Publi
Steve Hinnefeld Reviews “A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door” by Schneider and Berkshire
Steve Hinnefeld, an Indiana blogger, reviews Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire’s new book A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door and finds that it resonates with his own experience in Indiana. He writes: “A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door” focuses on a fundamental debate on the nature of schools. Education, the authors argue, is best treated as a public good that belongs to everyone. “Like clean air, a

  Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all