Posted in Finland, REPA, SBOE, Teaching Career

Don’t Make Students Wait

Teachers need to be trained before-the-job…not on-the-job.

The Indiana State Board of Education has a plan, approved by a 6-5 vote, to allow non-credentialed college graduates to teach in public school classrooms. The Career Specialist Permit will provide pedagogical training on-the-job.

SUCCESSFUL COUNTRIES DO IT RIGHT

Education Reform Has Failed; Here Are Four Lessons From Abroad to Make It Succeed

In successful countries teachers are not trained on-the-job for teaching. They are experts in pedagogy first…before they’re allowed to enter the classroom. The Indiana State Board of Education is attempting to reduce the qualifications for becoming a teacher in Indiana. A slim majority of school board members favor allowing anyone with a college degree to teach. This is not education “reform.” It’s an ignorant attempt to destroy the teaching profession.

…in Finland, primary teachers are required to both major in education and minor in two subjects taught in primary education. Primary education is usually considered grades one through eight, depending on the country. Upper-level teachers are required to major in the subject they will teach. If a person has a master’s degree in a specific subject only, the person must get a master’s degree in education before teaching. All teachers spend significant time studying pedagogy, the art and science of teaching. [emphasis added]

State Board of Education member visiting schools

One of Indiana’s school board members claims that, while the new rule would allow schools to hire people with no teaching credentials, no one is being forced to. He claims that the outcry about the new rule has been “overstated” and “the sky is not falling.” Blogger Steve Hinnefield comments…

…“will not cause the sky to fall” doesn’t seem like the strongest argument for pushing through a policy with near-unanimous opposition from educators and public-school advocates.


JUSTIFICATION FOR UNTRAINED (AKA LOW-COST, AKA NON-UNION) TEACHERS

by Mark D. Naison in the Foreword to Doing The Right Thing By David Greene

While attorneys like Gordon Hendry (the Indiana State Board of Education member quoted above) would never think of allowing “anyone with a college degree” to practice law, they have no qualms about lowering the qualifications for public school teachers. Why?

– maybe because it’s legal for charter schools to hire unqualified people to teach and there’s still the attempt to claim that charter schools are “public schools.”

– maybe because it’s legal for private schools receiving public money in the form of vouchers to hire unqualified people to teach.

– maybe because it will give Teach For America temps legal standing to be in a classroom with inadequate training.

You would think, given the difficulty of the task that teachers confront–the incredibly long hours they spend preparing lessons and grading assignments, as well as the tremendous time and expense they put into decorating their classrooms–that teachers would be revered and respected by the American public. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Americans–more than any people in the world–seem to resent and even hate teachers!

How else to explain the propensity of people on all sides of the political spectrum who blame teachers for the persistence of poverty in the United States, for the failure of the United States to be economically competitive with other nations, and for disappointing test scores and graduation rates among racial minorities? We have the spectacle of the president of the United States praising the mass firing of teachers in a working-class town in Rhode Island where test scores were low; a school chancellor in the nation’s largest city demanding the publication of confidential–and often misleading–teacher-rating data in the press;and a mass-market film about the power of teachers, which focuses exclusively on privately funded charter schools, conveniently leaving out the thousands of dedicated, often brilliant, public school teachers working in the nation’s high-poverty districts.

I would like to see how well Secretary of Education Arne Duncan or New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott would do prepping students for tests if they taught in a Bronx middle school or high school where half the students are on the verge of dropping out because of family pressures or problems reading and writing in English. The teachers who come to these schools and give students love as well as instruction are not cynically collecting their paychecks; they are taking responsibility for all the problems our society has neglected and for the family and community services it fails to provide.

HENDRY GOT IT RIGHT…

                                …BUT DIDN’T KNOW IT

Union calls on state board to drop teacher licensure plan

What Gordon Hendry seems to have missed is that he, and the “young law students” he referred to below, were attending law school at the time that they “completed legal work” or “wrote [a] legal brief.” That’s very different from someone who has never learned anything about teaching coming in and taking over a classroom. In fact, it’s exactly like students who are in teacher preparation programs and studying to be educators working as interns in classrooms under the direction of professional educators!

“On-the-job-training” for a profession doesn’t mean dropping someone with no experience into the real world of an unknown field. It means taking someone who is “in-training” and giving them realtime experience. The students Mr. Hendry referred to were not untrained in the law. They were current law students working under the direction of professionals.

He was right…students in law school benefit from working as interns under the direction of professionals. Similarly, students in education schools benefit from working as interns and student teachers under the direction of professionals.

Board member Gordon Hendry compared the process a new teacher would follow under the career specialist license to the work of young law students, who often deal with clients and complete legal work before passing the state bar exam under supervision from experienced lawyers.

Hendry, himself, wrote legal brief that was submitted to an appellate court as part of an active case when he was a law student.

CREDENTIALS MATTER

from 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools by David C. Berliner and Gene V. Glass

Teachers who are trained as teachers are better for our students.

It turns out that when you compare apples to apples — that is, similar student populations — public schools actually are outperforming private schools (Lubienski and Lubienski, 2013). This might be because private school teachers tend to have fewer credentials and to cling to traditional teaching styles, such as lecturing while students sit in rows and take notes. Public school teachers, by contrast, are much more likely to be certified, to hold higher degrees, and to embrace research-based innovations in curriculum and pedagogy (Lubienski and Lubienski, 2013). Perhaps for reasons like these, results from Ohio and Wisconsin show that students who used vouchers to attend private schools did no better academically than comparable students who remained in public schools (Richards, 2010; Witte, Sterr and Thorn, 1995). A long list of studies also has demonstrated that public schools perform on par with or better than charter schools, despite the fact that public schools serve a larger percentage of students who are harder to teach because of disabilities, English language learning needs, or behavior and other challenges (see Myths 3 and 4). Once again, this may be linked to the comparatively weak credentials of charter school teachers and administrators.

Teachers should be qualified to teach the day they enter the classroom on their own. Students shouldn’t have to wait until on-the-job training kicks in before they start their school year.

Indiana citizens should write to the members of the BOE and urge that they reverse this rule.

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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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Posted in 1000 Words, Accountability, Charters, read-alouds, Testing, WaltonFamilyFoundation

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – May, 2014

Here are some graphic images from around the net — plus my own 2 cents worth of comments. Click on any image to see the full sized version.

Reading Aloud — The Incentive that Works

In the Read Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease wrote about the 1983 Commission on Reading and the subsequent report Becoming a Nation of Readers.

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.” The commission found conclusive evidence to support reading aloud not only in the home but also in the classroom.

In their wording—“ the single most important activity”—the experts were saying reading aloud was more important than work sheets, homework, book reports, and flash cards. One of the cheapest, simplest, and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better tool than anything else in the home or classroom— and it’s so simple you don’t even need a high school diploma in order to do it.

Reading is still the most important daily activity for most American adults — reading an email from their supervisor, reading a manual for installing an appliance, or reading the want ads looking for a job. During leisure time people read tweets, Facebook posts, blog entries, emails from friends and relatives, newspapers and magazines, and even books…including ebooks or tree books (traditional paper and ink books).

Has the focus on reading (through standardized tests) improved the reading of Americans? Most Americans are functionally literate…and can read enough to get through their days…some with great facility.

But deeper reading requires an incentive. That incentive is reading aloud.

On the whole, children whose parents read to them learn to read earlier, better and faster than children whose parents don’t read to them. Parents who read a lot have children who read a lot. It’s that simple.

The End-All: Testing

As adults we read for a purpose…either for work, for interest or for pleasure. Children need a purpose for reading as well. Is testing the only reason we teach reading? Sometimes it seems that way.

While politicians, school boards, principals, and teachers are focused on data and testing, students are focused on what they have always been focused on — learning about the world and developing relationships with the people around them.

We can claim that our insane obsession with testing is an appropriate way to measure learning and hold schools, teachers, and students accountable, but that doesn’t make it true.

We understand that a healthy diet is necessary for our children’s growth and long life, but we don’t seem to understand that children’s minds need a healthy diet, too.

Charter School Under Construction

Corporate charters drain funds from public schools and have about the same success rate. The difference is that public money is going into the pockets of corporate shareholders and CEOs. Meanwhile public schools are left with fewer resources, more expensive to educate students, and in some cases, less space in their building.

How much does it cost you at Walmart?

We subsidize the richest family in America — the Waltons — through our taxes. Our money goes to their workers, who make such low salaries they qualify for public assistance, and to the wealthy owners through tax breaks. Still think you’re saving money at Walmart?

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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.

~~~
Stop the Testing Insanity!
~~~
Posted in REPA, SBOE, Teaching Career

More Nonsense

KNOWLEDGE IS ALL THAT MATTERS

A nonsensical majority on the Indiana State Board of Education has demeaned, devalued, and insulted every professional educator in the state of Indiana. Six of the eleven members of the State BOE believe that anyone with a college degree can be a teacher.

These people apparently don’t care that good teachers should be well-trained professionals. To them, subject area knowledge is all that matters.

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #179 – May 21, 2014

On May 14th, the State Board of Education in a close 6-5 vote made a fundamental error in lowering the standards teachers for a teaching license in Indiana. Indiana doesn’t need lower standards for teachers.

If the adopted rules are allowed to remain anyone with a college degree could get “on-the-job-training” in a classroom with 25, 30 or even 40 students.

Union calls on state board to drop teacher licensure plan

Andrea Neal, one of the members of the board supporting the rule, said,

A very experienced educator served as my mentor…I’m not a licensed teacher. That obviously colors my view on this but some of the best teachers I know are not licensed teachers. I’m not inclined to change my mind.

Note, however, that Ms. Neal is not a public school teacher. She teaches in a private school…a school which can pick and choose its students…a school which can throw out disruptive or “difficult to educate” students…a school in which a “very experienced educator” had the time needed to mentor someone with no knowledge of child development, pedagogy, best practices, curriculum design, or any of the other dozens of skills teachers need to organize and run a public school classroom.

Perhaps if Ms. Neal could guarantee that anyone taking this route to teaching has a “very experienced educator” assigned to help them, and a class where disruptive or difficult students could be removed, then maybe I would agree with her.

Note also that she’s not open to changing her mind.

LIKE LAW STUDENTS?

Board member Gordon Hendry compared the process a new teacher would follow under the career specialist license to the work of young law students, who often deal with clients and complete legal work before passing the state bar exam under supervision from experienced lawyers.

Hendry, himself, wrote legal brief that was submitted to an appellate court as part of an active case when he was a law student.

What Mr. Hendry seems to be missing is that the “young law students” he referred to, and himself, were attending law school at the time that they “completed legal work” or “wrote [a] legal brief.” That’s very different from someone who has never learned anything about teaching coming in and taking over a classroom. In fact, it’s exactly like students who are in teacher preparation programs and studying to be educators working as interns in classrooms under the direction of professional educators!

“On-the-job-training” for a profession doesn’t mean dropping someone with no experience into the real world of an unknown field. It means taking someone who is “in-training” and giving them realtime experience. The students Mr. Hendry referred to were not untrained in the law. They were current law students working under the direction of professionals.

Indiana citizens should write to the members of the BOE and urge that they reverse this rule. But don’t expect Andrea Neal, Gordon Hendry or Daniel Elsener to change their minds.

Those who voted for this unwise set of rules don’t care about students. They don’t understand the importance and difficulty of educating children. They only seem to be interested in opening up the public schools to untrained, low paid, amateurs…which will then, of course, give them the opportunity to bloviate on how bad things are in the public schools.

See also:
Non-Sense
REPA REDUX

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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.

~~~
Stop the Testing Insanity!
~~~
Posted in Article Medleys, Charters, PositiveRelationships, Segregation, Teaching Career

2014 Medley #13

Relationships, Teaching Profession,
Segregation, Charters

RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

A friend wrote the following about a former student of hers. Her entire statement is proof of the power of positive relationships in the classroom. The goal of education should be to build lifelong learners, not test takers. Skills like perseverance will be of greater benefit than parsing sentences or finding the greatest common factor of two numbers.

Academics are important, but it’s who we are and who our students grow to be that determines our success in life…much more than the facts we know or our score on the SAT or other test.

“Intelligence is knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.”

One of the most wonderful things I have had the opportunity to experience as a teacher is watching one of my former students grow into a strong and beautiful young woman. This one student has emailed me a few times a year to keep me updated on school and her life since she moved on from my 6th grade class. Now she is graduating high school!

I went back to read the very first email she had sent me in August 2008. She made a promise to me in that email that she would try harder and she would always remember all the “lectures” (this was “real” talk) I gave and use them. She promised this because “I know you cared.” She made good on her promises!

KILLING THE PROFESSION OF TEACHING

Teaching and learning are not market transactions…

Four decades ago more than 20% of college graduates finished their studies with a degree in education. Indeed, when I received my teaching certificate in 1975 (a few years later than the data in the chart below) there was a glut of elementary school teachers. I sent out well over 100 resumes (with information about my 4.0 graduate school GPA) to public school systems in the Midwest. I received three responses…and from those three, I was able to get 2 interviews…and eventually one (1) job.

That’s all changed.

With all the “reformer’s” hype about “bad teachers” and “high quality teachers” America is systematically destroying the teaching profession. While bemoaning the fact that teachers are terrible, people like Arne Duncan, Jeb Bush and some members of the Indiana State Board of Education are supporting the placement of untrained people in public school classrooms.

Is this attitude of “reformers” simple stupidity? malice? jealousy? greed?

The graphic below shows a drop from about 20% in 1970 to about 6% today in college students graduating with education degrees. If you factor in the fact that nearly half of all beginning teachers never make it to their fifth year the number is even smaller. If someone had purposely designed a plan to destroy the profession of teaching in the public schools of America they couldn’t have done a better job. Where will tomorrow’s teachers come from? Perhaps we won’t need any.

See also:
Digest of Educational Statistics
Fewer PA college students want to be teachers
Education Majors in PA. State Universities Drop 31% – Corbett’s Mission Accomplished
Students hesitant to pursue teaching
Enrollment falling among education majors
Hard economic lesson: Education majors decline: Financial, political factors discourage would-be teachers
Education Majors Earn Less Regardless of Career
Number of teachers in training down statewide
The 5 Worst College Majors If You Want to Make Money

SCHOOL SEGREGATION CONTINUES 60 YEARS AFTER BROWN

American schools are now more segregated then they have been in the past 50 years. Charter schools have contributed to the increase in segregation, but most is due to housing patterns.

The two articles below discuss the successes and failures of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

Michigan 1 of 20 states with most-segregated schools

Segregation is still widespread at American public schools, 60 years after the landmark Brown v. Topeka Board of Education ruling, a new report shows.

And it no longer impacts just black and white students.

Black and Latino students are more likely to attend schools with mostly poor students, while white and Asian students are more likely to attend middle-class schools, according to a report released Thursday by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

Are Segregated Schools a Relic?

The 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education is a propitious time to ask if the landmark decision has achieved its primary goal. In a provocative essay, Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom acknowledge that the number of “majority-minority” schools has increased by several percentage points over the past two decades (“Brown at 60: An American Success Story,”The Wall Street Journal, May 13). But they assert that it is logistically impossible to entirely eliminate segregated schools unless mass busing is instituted.

Rucker Johnson has an interesting historical perspective on how reduced segregation improved the achievement of minority students while not harming the achievement of white students.

CHARTERS: MONEY AND POLITICS

Six Charter School Myths; my testimony before the City Council today

Leonie Haimson had this to say about charters in New York…

…charter schools are publicly funded but governed by private corporate boards, and do NOT have to follow the same laws or rules that public schools do.

…Charters are not governed by any democratically elected body, and are able to enact extreme disciplinary policies, and often exhibit high suspension and student attrition rates.

…Charter schools have also used their private status to evade federal constitutional and statutory protections for employees and students.

Everything that Charter Schools Have Taught Traditional Educators About Building Great Schools

An editorial cartoon…

The Money

A Reader Explains the Purpose of Charter School Waiting Lists and Lotteries

The bottom line for charter administrators and boards is money, not students or parents as this comment by a former charter employee shows…

I once recommended to the principal that we stop taking applications after a certain point. I had two reasons for suggesting this: 1) We were giving families false hope, as anyone other than the first five to ten on the waiting list had no realistic chance of getting in, and 2) We could make better use of the time and money being spent on processing applications for students we knew would never be accepted, and on marketing to more families when we were already at capacity. His response was that we needed to keep adding as many names as possible to the waiting list, so that we would have numbers to back up our organization’s efforts to demonstrate the need for more charter schools.

Agassi’s School Partner Aims for $1 Billion With Firm

There’s not much about students in this article about Andre Agassi’s charter school plans. They talk about high expectations, but my guess is that their talking about money. The point is once again that the goal is greed, not student learning.

The goal is to generate a profit for investors while serving a higher public purpose, said Turner, principal and chief executive officer of the new firm. Public-impact investing, which dedicates funds to issues such as education, community development, the environment and health care, has been increasing and is likely to climb further this year, according to JPMorgan Chase and Co. and the Global Impact Investing Network, which studied 125 companies that manage a total of $46 billion in such investments.

‘It’s Proven’

The Politics

Jeb Bush bashes traditional public schools (again)

Jeb Bush is running for president and he’s filling the airwaves with half truths about charter schools and public schools. The bad news is that people will hear and believe what he says.

He didn’t, of course, mention that schools in the [charter] network have a reputation for higher suspension and attrition rates than traditional schools in their districts.

…He didn’t mention the recent analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times and the Medill Data Project at Northwestern University that concluded that students at charter schools in Chicago actually don’t perform any better on state-mandated standardized tests than students in traditional public schools.

…What he didn’t mention was a big charter school study last year that concluded that Florida charter schools had math and reading test scores that were either no better or worse than traditional public schools.

…he didn’t mention that research showed private and public schools don’t educate the same populations of students and that many private schools that accept vouchers have high attrition rates and don’t have the same “accountability” measures involving high-stakes standardized testing that is required in public schools.

…He also didn’t mention a recent report by the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas, funded by pro-voucher groups, that concluded that Milwaukee’s voucher program, the oldest and largest in the country, didn’t affect student test scores but did improve graduation rates. But it should be noted that more than half of the students who enrolled in the voucher program dropped out, which, one would be reasonable to assume, affected the graduation rates.

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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.

~~~
Stop the Testing Insanity!
~~~
Posted in Common Core, Duncan, Florida, Obama, Public Ed, Ravitch, Teach For America, Teaching Career, Testing

2014 Medley #12

Learning a Language, Neighborhood Schools, Mixed Messages, Testing, Teachers Speak Out, Florida, Teach For America,
Experience Matters,

FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS

Brazilian kids learn English through heart-warming webcam chats with retired Americans

How can you learn another language? Talk to native speakers. A language school in Brazil partnered with a retirement home in Chicago and now their young students are communicating with elderly Americans in order to improve their English.

Not only are these students learning a language, but they’re building relationships, an important part of the learning process. This is a beautiful story.
(h/t Janet)

An advert for CNA language school’s ‘Speaking Exchange’ shows examples of the unlikely friendships between young Brazilians and senior Americans, many of whom live lonely lives in retirement homes.

Students are paired up with elderly residents of the Windsor Park Retirement Community in Chicago.

They then have conversations via webcam about their lives, families and future hopes, developing strong bonds in the process.

THE NEED FOR NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

Government To Public Schools: You Can’t Keep Undocumented Immigrants Out Of School

The article above deals with public schools trying to keep children of undocumented aliens out of their schools. Whether you believe that children of undocumented immigrants should attend public school, at public expense or not is not the focus of my point…

In the article Arne Duncan is quoted as saying…

Secretary Arne Duncan added, “The message here is clear: let all children who live in your district enroll in your public schools.”

All children should have good public schools in their neighborhoods. Duncan might not have been talking about neighborhood schools, but he should have been because neighborhood schools are important. In The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Diane Ravitch wrote,

The neighborhood school is the place where parents meet to share concerns about their children and the place where they learn the practice of democracy. They create a sense of community among strangers. As we lose neighborhood public schools, we lose the one local institution where people congregate and mobilize to solve local problems, where individuals learn to speak up and debate and engage in democratic give-and-take with their neighbors.

…The market is not the best way to deliver public services. Just as every neighborhood should have a reliable fire station, every neighborhood should have a good public school. Privatizing our public schools makes as much sense as privatizing the fire department or the police department.

MIXED MESSAGES

Obama Administration Sends Mixed Messages on Teachers and Testing

This president frequently contradicts himself on education policy. As a candidate he told teachers that they didn’t devote their lives to testing, they devoted their lives to teaching (see the quote and link at the top of this page). In 2011 he said that he never wanted to see “schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world.”

He did it again this year at the ceremony honoring the National Teacher of the Year.

So why does he continue to allow Arne Duncan to force an insane obsession with standardized test scores on the nation’s schools?

Is it possible that President Obama is unaware of his own education department’s policies?

“Students know that what teachers give them stays with them for a lifetime,” the president said. He noted that great teachers take on the role of counselor, that they become the inspiration for their students to do big things, and that they do more than “going through the motions of teaching to the test.”

That “teaching to the test” line, and similar statements, have made their way into the president’s remarks before. In this year’s State of the Union address, for instance, Obama called for “better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test.”

But while the president may have a view of teaching that involves more than test results, his administration’s policies have arguably failed to focus attention beyond that aspect.

COMMON CORE ARGUMENT

Diane Ravitch defends Louis C.K., takes down silly Newsweek piece: “Your belief … has no research to support it, nor is there any real-world evidence”

Comedian Louis C.K. took shots at the Common Core earlier this month and was criticized in Newseek. The author of the article in Newsweek claimed that teachers were afraid of the common core because we don’t want to be “accountable.” Nonsense. Teachers are more than willing to be accountable, if the measurements are valid.

Diane Ravitch responds.

…educators oppose the Common Core because they fear they “will be judged (and fired) if their students don’t perform adequately on the more difficult standardized tests that are a crucial component of Common Core.” Here is where Alexander betrays an ignorance of research and evidence. Surely he should know that theAmerican Statistical Association issued a report a few weeks ago warning that “value-added-measurement” (that is, judging teachers by the scores of their students) is fraught with error, inaccurate, and unstable. The ratings may change if a different test is used, for example. The ASA report said:

Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level conditions. Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality.

THE TEACHERS’ VOICE

Teachers’ Voices Heard

Indiana lost big in this year’s primary elections when the legislature’s anti-public school champion won his primary fight. It’s discouraging…but he *got money from the school choice lobby…as well as the support of the state Republican leaders so it wasn’t likely that he would lose in a low turnout election.

A public school teacher comments…

The world of education right now is suffering under people who are looking to make money off of our children – charter schools, schools that take vouchers, public schools, and private schools are all in the mix as testing companies, textbook companies, for profit charters, and many others who see education as an industry, are looking for a dollar to be had rather than being truly focused on the well-being of our children. Until society realizes this and understands that many politicians are friends with the money makers, this is where we are in education and politics. When non-educators, people who have never step foot in the classroom as the role of a teacher, think they know what is best for our children and make sweeping policy changes like the implementation of Common Core, our children’s education will not be as strong as it could. There are so many in this district I respect, admire, learn from, and trust; but their voices and the voices of teachers around the nation are not heard. These teachers, every day, come to schools giving their best to the youngest in our community. It is an act of faith, courage, and love.

IT GETS WORSE

Romano: Voucher expansion doubles down on separate but unequal schools

In Florida things are getting worse…

Students, teachers and administrators are seemingly held captive by standardized tests in public schools, and yet tax revenues flow into private schools with few checks and balances and virtually no oversight.

…You cannot have over-the-top dependency on standardized tests in public schools, and under-the-rug disregard when it comes to private schools. Not if you plan on funneling more and more taxpayer funds toward those private schools.

Look at it this way:

Florida has micromanaged public education to the point of absurdity. The state’s entire educational experience, including curriculum, revolves around the results of a handful of standardized tests that are far from infallible. These exams are so danged important, legislators even insist that profoundly disabled children are not always exempt.

This testing devotion is so disheartening to so many parents, they are seeking any type of alternative for their child’s education.

And … surprise!

That plays right into the Jeb Bush-mindset…

TEACH FOR AWHILE AMERICA

A Primer for Engaging Teach For America Supporters

Here’s how to respond to TFA supporters and the billionaires who are backing them.

In districts across the country, pro-business politicians are closing down public schools and replacing them with privately managed charter schools. Many recent court decisions have concluded that charter schools are not public schools even though they receive public money. A public entity is accountable to the public. A private enterprise is accountable to its board of directors and shareholders. Therefore, as public schools are closed and replaced by privately managed charter schools, the public school system is becoming privatized.

Teach For America’s role in this privatization agenda is by providing corps members to teach at the newly opened charter schools for wages that are often well below the first-year salary of local public school teachers. Recent documents revealed that many charter school management organizations are so dependent on Teach For America to provide them cheap labor that charter managers are reluctant to open new schools without Teach For America.

EXPERIENCE MATTERS

Frequently Reassigning Teachers Limits Their Improvement

Teaching experience matters. 

Don’t let the “reformers” tell you otherwise. Stop laying off veteran teachers and replacing them with inexperienced novices.
(h/t Janet again!)

Experienced teachers make a difference in student performance, but their experience matters most if they have continued to teach the same grade, according to a new study by a University of Illinois at Chicago researcher.

Students whose teachers have not switched grades show greater improvement in test scores than students in similar classrooms with equally experienced teachers who switched grades frequently. The study is published in the April print edition and online in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

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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!
~~~
Posted in Charters, Legislatures

Waste, Fraud and Abuse in the Charter Industry: Your Tax Dollars at Work

FEDERAL LEGISLATION

Earlier this week the Washington Post reported on legislation introduced to increase federal funding for charter schools. Once more proving that the public education privatization movement is a bipartisan idea, the Post noted that two Democrats and two Republicans have signed on to the Senate version of the bill. On the House side, there is one Democratic sponsor and one Republican sponsor. The Democrat in the House, George Miller, was the House co-sponsor (with John Boehner) of the 1971 No Child Left Behind Act.

Congress to consider charter-school legislation

“We’re going to build on the success of charter schools with this bill,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a key sponsor, who said the legislation would permit the development of 500 charter schools per year across the country.

Along with Landrieu, the bill’s supporters include Michael Bennet (D-Colo,), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Senate’s education committee.

On the other side of Congress, the effort has been spearheaded by Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the chairman and ranking member of the House education committee.

The bill would increase charter funding at the federal level from $250 million to $300 million.

Two of the people mentioned in the article, Landrieu and Kline, received campaign funding from Koch Industries…and Landrieu also pocketed campaign contributions from McGraw-Hill and Edison Schools. Michael Bennet received a large chunk from Anschutz Corporation. Oddly enough Bennet also got money from Denver Public Schools and the AFT. All the sponsors have received money from a wide range of groups and individuals from hedge fund, investment, and banking industries (See Open Secrets for more information on donors). Corporate America wants the continued privatization of public education…and their representatives in congress are working to give it to them.

It’s not a lot of money compared to other federal budget items, however when added to Race to the Top funds, which are given to states who agree to, among other things, increase the number of charter schools, it comes to quite a bit.

PRAISE AND DENUNCIATION

The announcement of the legislation coincided with Teacher Appreciation Week National Charter School Week and followed on the heels of President Obama extolling the praises of charter schools.

…we pay tribute to the role our Nation’s public charter schools play in advancing opportunity, and we salute the parents, educators, community leaders, policymakers, and philanthropists who gave rise to the charter school sector.

The President’s proclamation notwithstanding, the announcement also coincided with the release of a report detailing waste, fraud and abuse in the charter school industry.

“Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse,” authored by the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education, echoes a warning from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General. The report draws upon news reports, criminal complaints and more to detail how, in just 15 of the 42 states that have charter schools, charter operators have used school funds illegally to buy personal luxuries for themselves, support their other businesses, and more. The report also includes recommendations for policymakers on how they can address the problem of rampant fraud, waste and abuse in the charter school industry. Both organizations recommend pausing charter expansion until these problems are addressed. [emphasis added]

It seems that some of the “opportunity” the President referred to had to do with the opportunity for graft and corruption in the privatized control of public funds without any public oversight. We obviously didn’t learn anything from the banking industry’s example.

The corruption in the charter industry shouldn’t be rewarded with more money. Charters have a history of increasing racial and economic segregation and manipulating enrollment to weed out difficult to educate students. Charters do not perform better than real public schools and they don’t improve education.

TAKE CONTROL OF THE CHARTER INDUSTRY

It’s time to take back the control of the charter industry. There ought to be public oversight for charter schools and those schools ought to be transparent in their operations. For starters charters should get no more public money — federal or state — until they…

  • open their books (and keep them open) and have open board meetings
  • provide full services for all students including those with special needs and English language learners
  • take the same responsibility for students as real public schools instead of expelling hard to teach students
  • limit the salaries of CEOs, principals and executives to the same range as local public schools

Charter schools ought to be

  • non-profit — public funds should go to public schools. The bottom line should be students, not corporate profits.
  • run by local authorities, school boards, parents, and teachers
  • real — with fully qualified teachers in actual classrooms in an actual building
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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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Posted in Charters, Obama, Privatization, WaltonFamilyFoundation

Pity the Poor, Underfunded Charters

WALTONS CLAIM CHARTERS UNDERFUNDED

Last month the University of Walmart Arkansas released a report — from their Department of Education Reform — that showed charter schools are underfunded.

Max Brantley at the Arkansas Blog, no friend of the Waltons, reported the following.

Surprise: Walton-subsidized UA has another report to support Walton school agenda

The Walton-subsidized University of Arkansas has issued a news release today about a report from a Walton-financed arm of the UA, the Department of Education Reform, that more money is spent on conventional public school districts than on charter schools, which the Walton heirs are spending hundreds of millions to promote in the United States, often to the detriment of existing public school districts.

He also suggested a few reasons that charter schools are not getting as much as real public schools.

I believe there are some understandable factors that lessen the the drama about the gap, ranging from less-experienced teachers who are paid less, differences in facilities and extra money given to public school districts for such considerations as desegregation plans (money to be phased out in Little Rock, for example) and federal money for poor students.

The biggest gap is a lack of local property tax revenue for charters and state construction funding. Walton lobbyists have managed to open the door in Arkansas a crack on construction funding with a state-subsidized revolving loan fund.

The charter schools also include virtual charters with huge “class sizes” and no building maintenance costs. Not to mention the charter habit of weeding out more expensive to educate children

WALMART ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Perhaps the Walton sponsored report is correct…that charters do get less taxpayer money than real public schools, but charters also have corporate and state sponsors which subsidize their operations…for example.

A Walmart Fortune, Spreading Charter Schools

Since 2002, the [DC Prep] charter network has received close to $1.2 million from Walton in direct grants. A Walton-funded nonprofit helped DC Prep find building space when it moved its first two schools from a chapel basement into former warehouses that now have large classrooms and wide, art-filled hallways.

One-third of DC Prep’s teachers are alumni of Teach for America, whose largest private donor is Walton. A Walton-funded advocacy group fights for more public funding and autonomy for charter schools in the city. Even the local board that regulates charter schools receives funding from the Walton Family Foundation.

So aside from the fact that this charter company uses novice, untrained, and cheaper, teachers (and most charters don’t have those pesky unions to negotiate a living wage and reasonable working hours), the Waltons have dumped $1.2 million on them.

and…

In Indiana, the 2013 state legislature added to the profitability of charters by forgiving more than $90 million in start up loans.

and…

KIPP schools get corporate subsidies and foundation grants…see HERE and HERE.

Yet all that extra money given to charters don’t make them better than real public schools. Charters don’t do better than traditional public schools…meanwhile the charter industry is increasing racial and economic segregation in the nation’s schools.

ACCOUNTABILITY COMES HOME

Charter schools use public funds…but are apparently running short. Perhaps it’s in the way they are handling their budget. Unfortunately, many charters spend public money without any public oversight…and today, Bill Moyers reported on fraud, mismanagement and waste.

Charter Schools Gone Wild: Study Finds Widespread Fraud, Mismanagement and Waste

According to the study, fraud and mismanagement of charter schools fall into six categories:

  • Charter operators using public funds illegally — outright embezzlement
  • Using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses
  • Mismanagement that put children in potential danger
  • Charters illegally taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide
  • Charter operators inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues
  • General mismanagement of public funds

The report looks at problems in each of the 15 states it covers, with dozens of case studies. In some instances, charter operators used tax dollars to prop up side businesses like restaurants and health food stores — even a failing apartment complex.

TEACHER APPRECIATION CHARTER SCHOOLS WEEK

The Bush administration co-opted teacher appreciation week back in 2002 and President Obama continues the slap in the face of real public school teachers. In this year’s proclamation he wrote…

During National Charter Schools Week, we pay tribute to the role our Nation’s public charter schools play in advancing opportunity, and we salute the parents, educators, community leaders, policymakers, and philanthropists who gave rise to the charter school sector.

Let’s also pay tribute to the role charter schools play in increasing segregation, draining public funds away from real public schools, and filling the pockets of corporate cheaters.

For further reading: Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City

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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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