Posted in Article Medleys, Common Core, Corp Interest, poverty, Privatization, Stephen Krashen, Teach For America

2013 Medley #15

Poverty, Common Core,
Corporate “Reform, Privatization

POVERTY

Krashen: To the editor

Stephen Krashen has been saying the same thing over and over again. He consistently includes research to back up his comments.

Poverty matters. When you control for poverty our students test scores are among the best in the world. It’s time the “reformers” listened.

But the major reason for our unspectacular school achievement is our level of child poverty, now 23%, the second highest level among 35 “economically advanced” countries (23.5% in California). Poverty has a devastating impact on school performance. When we control for poverty, American students’ test scores are near the top of the world.

Control for poverty: Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/).

“There is no evidence standards and tests have improved student learning: Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1).

OECD. Tienken, C., 2011. Common core standards: An example of data-less decision-making. Journal of Scholarship and Practice. American Association of School Administrators [AASA], 7(4): 3-18.

“Strengthening food programs, increasing health care, providing more access to books”: Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit.

Krashen, S., Lee, SY, and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is The Library Important? Multivariate Studies at the National and International Level Journal of Language and Literacy Education: 8(1).

Child Poverty in New Mexico

Because of the Richardson tax cuts for the rich, which contributed to a significant loss of state revenues, the state Human Services Department was one of those in six states in 2011 that cut income support benefits to try to balance state budgets on the backs of the very poor. When adjusted for inflation, New Mexico “benefits” have declined 31 percent in real dollars since President Clinton signed welfare reform in 1996.

Goodbye Big Brother, hello local control … maybe

Schools with high numbers of students living in poverty don’t need inexperienced teachers, crowded classrooms, leaky roofs, or poor resources…they need more to help fight the effects of poverty. It appears that California is beginning to understand this…

California proposes to address poverty by, well, addressing poverty.

Indeed, the LCFF reform shifts the conversation back to a focus on the extra resources and support that low-income students and English Learners need to succeed. And rather than shutting down low-performing schools first and asking questions later, LCFF proposes to send schools that have high concentrations of low-income students even more resources.

CCSS

Common Core Assessments: More Tests, But Not Much Better

The Common Core is untried. No one knows how it will effect children’s education, yet, nationally we’re dumping all our eggs into the Common Core basket.  Fairtest has a warning…

  • More grades will be tested, with more testing per grade.
  • Lured by federal funds, states agreed to buy “pigs in a poke.”
  • The new exams are a mixed bag, only marginally better than current tests.
  • High-stakes misuses of test scores remain unchanged, extending the damaging effects of NCLB.
  • Companies with poor track records will design, administer and score Common Core exams.
  • Poor districts will have to cut instructional staff and other basic services to divert money to testing.
  • Enormous amounts of time will be wasted.

America’s children, teachers, parents, communities and the nation deserve better. High-quality assessment can improve teaching and learning and provide useful information about schools. Examples of better assessments include well-designed formative assessments (FairTest, 2006), performance assessments that are part of the curriculum (New York Performance Standards Consortium), and portfolios or Learning Records (FairTest, 2007) of actual student work. Schools can be evaluated using multiple sources of evidence that includes limited, low-stakes testing, school quality reviews, and samples of ongoing student work (Neill, 2010).

CORPORATE “REFORM”

Doctor for America to Debut This Fall

It’s easy to spot this as a spoof because everyone understands that being a doctor takes years of training. Why don’t we see that it’s the same with teachers? Why do people who have never worked in schools consider themselves experts at education? Why do we think that young college graduates with only 5 weeks of training can counter the effects of a lifetime of poverty?

“These people in the poorest communities in America have scandalous health care. The statistics show that they are dying at a far greater rate from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and injuries. We think the most talented kids in America, those from the elite schools like I and my friends attended, can solve this problem.”

DFA doctors will be placed in emergency rooms, surgery theaters, oncology clinics and throughout the hospital to provide immediate care. They will receive a summer training before starting their rounds and will take some classes in evenings and on weekends.

Kopp scoffs at the idea that doctors need rigorous and extensive training. “Ninety percent of the things doctors do are routine. Computers spit out the data, you can Google the diagnosis. What’s the big deal?”

Meet the Teach for America Resistance Movement That’s Growing From Within

Some TFA critics are seeing a resistance movement growing.

Twenty-four years running, the rap on Teach for America (TFA) is a sampled, re-sampled, burned-out record: The organization’s five-week training program is too short to prepare its recruits to teach, especially in chronically under-served urban and rural districts; corps members only have to commit to teach for two years, which destabilizes schools, undermines the teaching profession, and undercuts teachers unions; and TFA, with the help of its 501(c)4 spin-off, Leadership for Educational Equity, is a leading force in the movement to close “failing” schools, expand charter schools, and tie teachers’ job security to their students’ standardized test scores. Critics burn TFA in internet-effigy across the universe of teacher listservs and labor-friendly blogs.

The Anti-Equality Movement

This is an important piece. We are recreating a two-tiered system of education…for the haves and the have-nots.

Our national focus has shifted so completely to educational quality that there is no one minding the store of educational equality.

Let us imagine, for the sake of this commentary, that today’s reform movement is completely successful in carrying out the fullness of its agenda. Let’s imagine that Diane Ravitch and all the concerned teachers who listen to her are whipped into submission and stop resisting the glories of reform, that Michelle Rhee finally proves that her principals didn’t cheat to get higher test scores in Washington, D.C., and that Arne Duncan and Barack Obama stop wavering on their reformer principles by talking about things like universal pre-K, and get back to cheering the mass firings of public school teachers like in the good old days.

Wealthy men who now shed crocodile tears while talking about “the civil rights issue of our time” will clink champagne glasses with the business elites who propped them up and together they will celebrate their coup–a permanent reduction in the dollars taxed against the rich to pay for the secular education of poor and middle class children, and a permanent tuition subsidy for the religious and private education of the children of the meritorious haves.

When Joel Klein and Condi Rice Accused Public Schools of Endangering National Security

Rod Paige, George W. Bush’s first Secretary of Education, called America’s teachers (specifically those in the NEA) “terrorists.” Joel Klein and Condi Rice said that public education is endangering National Security. Klein spent his years in New York working to create the very two-tiered education system he describes…but now blames public education.

Klein advocates more testing, merit pay through “value-added” evaluations, more charter schools and vouchers as “innovative” reforms. There is little or no research to support any of them.

Klein blames the current economic quagmire on public education. He writes that we used to “have a successful middle class,” but “that’s changed markedly since 1980.” Klein says “we’re rapidly moving toward two America’s –– a wealthy elite and an increasingly large underclass that lacks the skills to succeed.” His answer to the problem? The market, since “markets impose accountability.” A person would have to be moronic to make – or believe – such a claim.

PRIVATIZATION

Chicago Teachers Union’s Battle Against Privatization Opposed By Conservative Philanthropists

The Windy City is is undergoing a tumultuous historical moment, with the uprising of the Chicago Teachers Union occurring alongside the ongoing restructuring and privatization of the Chicago Public Schools system.

Most recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel oversaw the closing of 50 public schools, many of which will be replaced by charter schools. A bulk of the 550 laid-off teachers will be replaced by Teach for America contractors, many of whom teach in charter schools.

“Statewide enrollment in charter schools has surged from 6,152 students in 2000 to 54,054 this school year — with most of them in Chicago — according to the Illinois State Board of Education,” an April Chicago Tribune editorial explained. “The first charter school in Illinois opened in 1996. Now there are 132 campuses operating under 58 charters.”

False Choice: Wisc. Private Schools Are Happy To Take Tax Money But Don’t Want Certain Students

Some private schools want taxpayers money without the responsibility of educating all children. Instead of giving vouchers to schools who say, “I’m sorry, we’re not equipped to deal with your child’s problems,” we need to reserve public money for public schools and provide places where all students can receive a free, appropriate education.

Unfortunately, all of the rhetoric in the world doesn’t do you any good when it comes to vouchers because you don’t really have the choice. The private school does. Many of those schools will simply choose not to admit your child.

Some parents in Wisconsin are learning that the hard way.

WisconsinWatch.org, a project of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, recently took a hard look at vouchers in the Badger State, specifically how students with learning disabilities and other challenges are faring in private schools.

The answer is not too well – because the private schools taking part in the voucher program mostly refuse to serve them.

More school vouchers offered

Private schools can reject students with disabilities, saying “we’re not equipped to handle your child’s learning problems.” Tax dollars are being drained from public schools, which are required by law to take every child and provide a free, appropriate education for them. Public schools don’t have the option of saying, in effect, “your child is too expensive to educate, so we don’t want him.” That’s not competition. That’s simply taking tax money from public schools and giving it to private schools.

Peters said Queen of All Saints can handle some special accommodations, such as allowing students extra test time or having to read a test to a student. But she said the school doesn’t have the staff to provide one-on-one learning and “that gap was difficult for us to fill.”

…Wiley predicts most of the increase in the program this year will be from this new provision, as opposed to the larger-scale exodus from public to private schools in the last two years.

“The largest migration is over,” she said. “We’ve had the voucher program for two years and we are starting to see that choice has provided competition and forced everyone to up their game,” she said.

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All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!
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Author:

Retired after 35 years in public education.