Category Archives: EdTech

School in the time of Coronavirus #2 – EdTech Wants Your School

EdTech Positions Itself for Boom Times

The Ed-tech industry is jumping into the gap left by closed schools during the coronavirus crisis. Many companies are offering temporary free options for students to use while their schools are closed. We can give them credit for offering a service for free during a crisis, but cynicism from past experience forces me to question whether it’s being done based on altruism or whether they are using the crisis to “hook” consumers on their products.

We in Indiana are well acquainted with the failure of virtual charter schools. I understand that everyone is forced into virtual schools right now — everyone except those who have little or no access to the internet — but the forced virtual schooling has only reinforced the importance of face to face relationships between teacher and student.

1: Teacher-student eye contact is important. “Eye contact makes so much difference: if students feel that the teacher is actually talking and engaging with them, they are more likely to engage with the teacher and listen to what they’re saying.”

2: Working at home has too many distractions. It’s hard enough for adults to transition to a work-from-home situation, yet we’re expecting our students to be able to change from the interaction of a live classroom to a disconnected digital environment. “…actually productively working from home can be challenging for some professionals.”

3: Students benefit from live, small-group work. “Learning in small-group contexts enhances students’ overall learning experiences in several ways. For example, it can…address gaps in students’ knowledge…provide opportunities for students to receive feedback on their learning…help students develop skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, interpersonal relations, teamwork, team leadership, and lifelong learning skills…”

Oh, and if you haven’t read The Shock Doctrine or other books by Naomi Klein, then this is the time to look them up. [Check out Hoopla or Libby. Most public libraries allow you to check out ebooks or audiobooks using one or both of those apps. Hoopla works as a phone/tablet app or online using your computer. Libby is a phone/tablet app only.]

Here’s a look at how the EdTech sector is positioning itself to “reimagine” education…

Ed-tech Startups and Investors Shift Into Overdrive Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Like drug dealers…”Here’s a free sample. Once you’re hooked we’ll sell you more…”

March 19, 2020

Many educational technology startups have shifted into overdrive, providing services free of charge, both out of moral concern and in hopes of enlisting future paying customers. Several startups have even raised funding amid the crisis.

The First Taste is Free: Ed Tech Follows Drug Dealer Sales Techniques with Schools During Coronavirus Crisis

Steven Singer who blogs at Gadfly on the Wall makes the analogy to drug dealers clearer..

April 4, 2020

How much does it cost?”

Teachers, parents, students and education activists are wary of educational technologies in the classroom, and research backs them up. Ed-tech has been shown to widen socioeconomic divides, it hasn’t lived up to its promise of increasing academic gains, and – perhaps most tellingly – Silicon Valley executives restrict their own children’s use of technology and send them to tech-free schools.

“Nothing. It’s free.”

These for-profit corporations are offering limited time promotions – they’re providing additional services for free that would normally be behind a paywall.

“Oh goodie!”

Districts are jumping at the chance. They’re encouraging teachers to use apps, services and software that have never been tried before locally in an attempt to abide by continuity of education guidelines written by departments of education.

“That’s right. Absolutely free. But if you want some more, next time I’ll have to charge you a little something…”

So when the pandemic is over and classes eventually are reopened, a great deal of the technology that schools used to get through the crisis will no longer be on the house.

The Ed Tech Vultures Circle

Peter Greene who blogs at both Curmudgucation and Forbes, includes a link to an older article for the business community about the benefits of face to face business meetings as opposed to online.

March 23, 2020

My email is filing up with pitches from more companies than I’ve ever heard of, all variations on “Your readers (aka our prospective customers) would love to hear about our cool product that is just the thing for dealing with the current pandemic crisis.” While I am sure that some companies sincerely believe they have help they can offer at this time, I am equally sure that those companies are not trying to wring a bunch of client-building PR out of it. I’m seeing these pitches because I’m an education blogger at Forbes.com–if these things are coming to me, then the big-time education journalists must be drowning in the stuff…

As school closures drag on, there are two schools of thought on the ed-tech incursion. The ed-tech vultures of Coronavirus Katrina are sure that once pushed into using the products, teachers, parents and students will fall in love and never want to go back. Others suspect that once forced to deal with this stuff, students, teachers and parents will rediscover everything there is to love about traditional live-action 3D education.

Not to say that some of these tools may well turn out to be useful in the weeks ahead. Time will tell. In the meantime, the ed-tech vultures are circling, hoping that the current crisis will provide them with a bounteous feast.

How The Ed-Tech Industry is Trying to Profit From COVID-19

March 23, 2020

Want to cut costs? Put one teacher—or an assistant—in charge of fifty or so students, seated in front of their own screens, moving through pre-packaged curriculum one personalized step at a time.

Better yet, just keep kids at home. Let them attend virtual schools or plow through lessons without a teacher on hand.

For ed-tech’s innovators, COVID-19 is an opportunity to experiment with tech-driven, less labor-intensive schooling options. But, as Watters points out, education is much more than the simple delivery of instruction or the mastery of certain skills.

Instead, schools serve as community hubs and nutrition centers, as well as safe spaces for students and families left reeling by inequality, housing instability, and the general insecurity that many live with today.

Like Vultures, They’re Still Planning to End Public Schools and a Professional Teaching Workforce!

It’s not just EdTech, either. There are those who have spent years and careers trying to bring an end to the public schools — Bill Gates, Charles Koch, Laurene Powell Jobs, Jeb Bush, Betsy DeVos. They’re looking at this pandemic as an opportunity. This is a must-read by Nancy Bailey!

April 11, 2020

There’s a movement underfoot to end the way children learn. Look carefully at who says “we need to reimagine” or “this is the time to reassess” schools. These can be signals from those who’ve led the charge to dismantle public schools for years. Like vultures, they’re scheming how to use this pandemic to put the final stamp of success on their privatization agenda…

No one denies the importance of technology, but all-technology and a loss of public schools, will omit the rich learning experiences that all children deserve. No proof can be found that all online instruction works. It will leave children and the nation at risk.

While it’s understandable that public schools will face hurdles when they return, we must ensure that a democratic public education will continue to serve the children for which it was originally designed. That funding will address learning driven by professional teachers and not be for those who seek to cash in on our students.

💻💸📡

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School in the time of Coronavirus #1 – The digital divide

The Digital Divide

Millions of American school children are at home, their school year abruptly ended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Schools and teachers have been offering pickup meals and online education activities. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has a page with educator and parent online resources for continuing students’ education during the time schools are closed.

But what about students who have no internet access? The IDOE resource page includes links to free or reduced access opportunities, but one needs access to learn about those opportunities. Some of those opportunities may not be available in all rural areas. The only access for some families is a cell phone. And some parents won’t avail themselves of the opportunities even if they are aware of them.

The chronological list of articles and blog posts below highlights the fact that under the extraordinary circumstances we now find ourselves, some students will be left behind.

We can’t (and in a free society, probably shouldn’t) try to reduce the resources that advantaged parents can give children…

But we can increase resources for other children to provide more equity…

What the coronavirus reveals about the digital divide between schools and communities

March 17, 2020

Students living in poverty and students with special needs are the ones who have lost their access to education now that schools are closed. Do we ignore them and just focus on the students who are able — economically and physically — to access and benefit from the online resources offered? Do we ignore the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) because it’s too expensive to try to educate students with special needs during a pandemic?

If you’re reading this, you have internet access. If you have children, your children have likely been able to benefit from the ability to connect to the internet and continue their learning opportunities. Unfortunately, in the economically divided America in which we live in, not all children are so lucky.

…With a disproportionate number of school-age children lacking home broadband access, the breadth of the U.S. digital divide has been revealed as schools struggle to substitute in-school resources with online instruction, electronic libraries, streaming videos, and other online tutorials.

Every U.S. student could eventually be impacted by extended school closures. New York City, whose public-school system serves more than 1.1 million students, has announced the closure of its 1,800 schools. These mounting circumstances have administrators scrambling to migrate courses online and create some level of accountability between students and teachers. However, the U.S. digital divide makes any effort fallible for certain individuals, households, and communities that are not sufficiently connected.

Broadband availability has been at the heart of the digital divide with an estimated 21.3 million people lacking access in 2019, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Virtual Learning Through Quarantine Will Leave Poor and Disabled Students Behind

March 25, 2020

Education Secretary DeVos has the right, under the $2 trillion coronavirus bill, to seek waivers to parts of the law guaranteeing an education to students with disabilities. Will she discuss this beforehand with parents and teachers of special needs students? If she can’t think of ways to teach students with special needs during a pandemic does that mean that there are none? Let’s hope that she checks with people who actually know something about education before she sets this dangerous precedent.

The U.S. Senate’s proposed coronavirus aid package includes a provision to waive existing federal law that requires all schools to provide services to special education students. Removing this specification would allow districts to move forward with virtual learning without having to worry about meeting the needs of their special education students.

Advocates worry that even a temporary suspension of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) could have devastating long term effects on students with disabilities and ultimately remove the requirement upheld for the last 45 years that they receive a free public education…

This is tantamount to prioritizing the education of some students over others. In short, if we follow DeVos’ guidelines, we will be saying that regular education students are more important than students with special needs.

It is a dangerous precedent.

Pandemic response lays bare America’s digital divide

March 21, 2020

The inequity in our nation should shame us.

While the internet provides opportunity for many to live with some modicum of normalcy amid the outbreak, millions of Americans do not have reliable access to the web. Also many industries ranging from auto-manufacturing to hospitality cannot be conducted online. Because of this stark digital divide, many are at risk of educational lapses, profound social isolation or unemployment, advocates warn.

According to the Pew Research Center, 29% of adults with household incomes less than $30,000 a year don’t own a smartphone, while 44% don’t have home broadband and 46% lack a “traditional” computer either. Pew also noted that 35% of lower-income households with school-age children don’t have a home-based broadband internet connection.

How covid-19 has laid bare the vast inequities in U.S. public education

April 14, 2020

For two decades, we have been trashing schools and blaming teachers. It is easy to assume responsibility rests with them. But the achievement gap is a product of our unequal society — the reflection of an education debt that has never been settled. It is not something schools alone will fix; and as they remain shuttered, that fact will become painfully clear.

Perhaps the present crisis, then, will prompt some deeper reflection about why students succeed. And perhaps we will awaken to the collective obligations we have for so long failed to fulfill.

Schools will eventually reopen. When they do, we should return with eyes unclouded. Rather than finding fault with our schools and the educators who bring them to life, we might begin to wrestle with what it would take for all students to enter on equal footing. Until then, even an equal education will not produce equal outcomes.

Why covid-19 will ‘explode’ existing academic achievement gaps

April 17, 2020

With schools shut, white-collar professionals with college degrees operate home-schools, sometimes with superior curricular enhancements…

Meanwhile, many parents with less education have jobs that even during the coronavirus crisis cannot be performed at home — supermarket clerks, warehouse workers, delivery truck drivers…

…too many students in low-income and rural communities don’t have Internet access: 35 percent of low-income households with school-aged children don’t have high-speed Internet; for moderate-income families it is 17 percent, and only 6 percent for middle-class and affluent families…

We can’t (and in a free society, probably shouldn’t) try to reduce the resources that advantaged parents can give children…

But we can increase resources for other children to provide more equity…

💻💸📡

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Listen to this – 2020 #1 – Wearing a Mask Edition

Meaningful quotes…

KIDS LIVING IN POVERTY DON’T HAVE ANY LOBBYISTS

Schools have closed for the coronavirus pandemic and most will likely not open again this school year. Many school systems have gone to online learning, but because a significant percentage of students have little or no access to the internet, some students are not being served.

How can schools best serve all students (including students with special learning or physical needs) and what happens next year when some students have had the benefit of online learning experiences and others have not? Do we test all the kids to see where they are? Do we retain kids? (answer: NO!) The coronavirus pandemic, like other disasters and disruptions, hurt most, the kids who need school the most and have the least.

From Steven Singer
in Virtual Learning Through Quarantine Will Leave Poor and Disabled Students Behind

This just underlines the importance of legislation. Special education students have IDEA. Poor students have nothing. There is no right to education for them at all.

From Steve Hinnefeld and Pedro Noguera
in Time for ‘educational recovery planning’

…the massive and sudden shift to online learning is exposing huge gaps in opportunity. Some communities lack reliable internet service. Many families are on the wrong side of the digital divide. As Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said, a parent and three school-age children may share a single device, often a smartphone.

“The kids who have the least are getting the least now,” UCLA education professor Pedro Noguera told Hechinger Report. “They will, in fact, be behind the kids who are learning still.”

From Peter Greene
in Should We Just Hold Students Back Next Year?

Retention in grade doesn’t help — even in the face of nation-wide disruption.

…We have been suffering for years now under the notion that kindergarten should be the new first grade; next fall, we could give students room to breathe by making first grade the new first grade. In other words, instead of moving the students back a grade to fit the structure of the school, we could shift the structure of the school to meet the actual needs of the students.

From Nancy Flanagan
in If Technology Can’t Save Us, What Will?

Most important of all…kids need their teachers. They need human interaction which improves learning — and positive teacher/student relationships, even more. See also A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP, below.

It turns out that technology cannot, will not replace the human touch, when it comes to learning that is worthwhile and sticks in our students’ brains and hearts. We already knew that, of course. But it’s gratifying to know that school—bricks and mortar, white paste and whiteboards, textbooks and senior proms—is deeply missed.

Public education is part of who we are, as a representative democracy. We’ve never gotten it right—we’ve let down millions of kids over the past century or two and done lots of flailing. There are curriculum wars that never end and bitter battles over equity, the teacher pipeline and funding streams.

But still. We need school.

IT’S TRUE WHETHER OR NOT YOU BELIEVE IN IT

From Rob Boston
in The Religious Right’s Disdain For Science Is Exactly What We Don’t Need Right Now

Science is a process, not an outcome. We must improve our science education so students understand science. We ignore science at our peril.

The rejection of science and refusal to see facts as the non-partisan things that they are have consequences, as Jerry Falwell Jr. – and his students at Liberty University in Virginia – are painfully learning. Put simply, viruses don’t care whether you believe in them or not. They will wreak their havoc either way. 

REMOVE TESTING FROM THE HANDS OF PROFIT

From Diane Ravitch
in Noted education scholar says parents now more aware of vital role of schools, by Maureen Downey.

The profit motive won’t create better tests. Teachers who know their students will.

If federal and state leaders gave any thought to change, they would drop the federal mandate for annual testing because it is useless and pointless. Students should be tested by their teachers, who know what they taught. If we can’t trust teachers to know their students, why should we trust distant corporations whose sole motive is profit and whose products undermine the joy of teaching and learning?

IT’S POVERTY — STILL

From Jitu Brown, National Director for the Journey for Justice Alliance
in One Question: What Policy Change Would Have the Biggest Impact on Alleviating Poverty?

The fact that poor children are suffering more during the current world crisis than wealthy students should not be surprising. We have always neglected our poor children.

According to the United Nations, America ranks twenty-first in education globally among high-income nations. When you remove poverty, the United States is number two. This tells me that America knows how to educate children, but refuses to educate the poor, the black, brown, and Native American.

NO MATTER WHAT THEY CALL IT, IT’S NOT PRESCHOOL

From Rhian Evans Allvin, CEO of NAEYC,
in Making Connections. There’s No Such Thing as Online Preschool

Using public dollars intended for early childhood education to give children access to a 15-minute-per-day online program does not expand access to preschool. It doesn’t address the crisis in the supply of quality, affordable child care. It doesn’t help parents participate in the workforce. And it doesn’t help families choose an “alternative” option for or version of pre-K because it is something else entirely. To what extent we want to encourage parents to access online literacy and math curricula to help their 3- and 4-year-olds prepare for school is a conversation for another column. In this one, the only question is whether these technology-based programs can be “preschool”—and the answer is no.

ACCESS TO BOOKS

From P.L. Thomas
in Misreading the Reading Wars Again (and Again)

Proponents of whole language and balanced literacy have never said that phonics wasn’t important. What they do say, however, is that other things are important, too.

Test reading is reductive (and lends itself to direct phonics instruction, hint-hint), but it is a pale measure of deep and authentic reading, much less any student’s eagerness to read.

Because of the accountability movement, then, and because of high-pressure textbook reading programs, we have for decades ignored a simple fact of research: the strongest indicator of reading growth in students is access to books in the home (not phonics programs).

A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP

From Russ Walsh
in Hula Dancing, Singing and a Teacher’s Impact

Over the years I’ve had several former students relate to me what they remembered from my class. I had a student tell me how important an art project was as a connection to his father. Another student thanked me for helping her during a difficult time in her family. A student who grew up to be a teacher and taught in my district told me that she was reading the same book to her students that I read to her class. Many students, in fact, talked about my reading aloud to them as the most important thing they remember. And a student remembered how I had trusted her to clean off the top of my desk every day after school.

I never had a student come to me and thank me for teaching them how to multiply…or spell “terrible”…or take a standardized test…or count syllables in a word. I take that as a compliment.

The messages we send to kids last a lifetime and they are not often about the times table or coordinating conjunctions or how many planets are in the skies. It is the personal messages and connections that are remembered. It is the belief a teacher instills that we can do that resonates through the years. It is that one book that made a special impression that we remember. That is a lesson we all must take into every interaction we have with a child.

SAY HELLO

From John Prine
in Hello in There

Thanks, and good night, JP.

So if you’re walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes,
Please don’t just pass ’em by and stare
As if you didn’t care, say, “Hello in there, hello.”

🎧🎤🎧

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Filed under EdTech, music, OnlineLearning, PositiveRelationships, poverty, Preschool, Quotes, reading, retention, Science, Testing

2018 Medley #24

Online Preschool, Children’s Screen Time,
Religion in School, Segregation,
Diverting Public Money to Privatization

 
ONLINE PRESCHOOL – AN OXYMORON

Should Your Three-Year-Old Attend Online School?

If you read only one blog entry from this medley, it should be this one.

The latest “reform” insanity is online preschool.

By preschool, I mean a developmentally appropriate environment where young children can experience social interaction, develop an understanding of literature by being read to, and have direct contact with the real world.

Developmentally appropriate does not mean that three- and four-year-olds do so-called “academic” work on worksheets or computers. It means approaching instruction based on research into how children develop and grow. Preschoolers need clay and water-tables, not worksheets. They need blocks, watercolors, and dress up clothes, not tablets and calculators. They need climbers, sandboxes, and slides, not standardized tests and “performance assessments.” They need to experience the world with their whole bodies and all of their senses.

Why then, would anyone think that young children would benefit from something called an “online preschool?”

We have tried it in Indiana. The legislature wasted $1 million for an online preschool…the same legislature that is filled with lawyers, businessmen, and career politicians who know nothing about early childhood education.

Peter Greene takes on online preschools in this post…including UPSTART, the program in use in Indiana.

Never mind that everything we know says this approach is wrong. Much research says that early academic gains are lost by third grade; some research says that pre-school academics actually make for worse long-term results. If most of your 5-year-olds are not ready for kindergarten, the problem is with your kindergarten, not your 5-year-olds.

Turning to technology does not help. A study released earlier this year by the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine, found that most “educational” apps aimed at children five and younger were developmentally inappropriate, ignoring what we know about how littles actually learn.

 

CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND TECHNOLOGY

“Disruption” Using Technology is Dangerous to Child Development and Public Education

Nancy Bailey discusses “disruption,” technology, and how “reformers” are finding new ways to damage the learning process.

Early childhood teachers express concern that tech is invading preschool education. We know that free play is the heart of learning.

But programs, like Waterford Early Learning, advertise online instruction including assessment for K-2. Their Upstart program advertises, At-home, online kindergarten readiness program that gives 4- and 5-year-old children early reading, math, and science lessons.

Technology is directed towards babies too! What will it mean to a child’s development if they stare at screens instead of picture books?

Defending the Early Years recently introduced a toolkit to help parents of young children navigate the use of technology with children. “Young Children in the Digital Age: A Parent’s Guide,” written by Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D., describes the kinds of learning experiences that will help them develop to be curious, engaged learners…

 

SOLVING THE SCREEN TIME PROBLEM FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE

Young Children in the Digital Age: A Parent’s Guide

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, senior advisor to Defending the Early Years, has written a guide for parents who are struggling with technology issues for their children. The Parent’s Guide is an easy to read summary of what young children need and how much screen time is appropriate. It includes tips on how to put the concepts into practice.

Many parents find it hard to make decisions about screen time for their kids because advice comes from different directions and often conflicts. In the field of child development, we have decades of theory and research that can be very helpful as a guide for screen and digital device use with young kids. These ideas can be a resource for you to depend on when you are trying to figure out about any screen, app, or digital device your child might want to use.

 

READING, NOT RELIGION, IN SCHOOL

Counterpoint: Don’t preach, teach

We live in a pluralistic society…and the founders decided that every citizen has the right to their own religious beliefs. The nation’s judicial system, charged with interpreting the Constitution, has taught us that government must remain neutral in religious questions. To that end, public schools are not allowed to indoctrinate children in a particular religion. Some teachers and administrators try, but, while they believe they are doing “the work of the Lord” they are actually breaking the law of the land.

While teaching about religion is allowed, and beneficial, there are places for religious preaching in American life…the home…the church, not the public school.

The reason for this becomes clear when you stop and think about the mandate of public education in a pluralistic society. Public schools should give all kids an equal sense of belonging and respect their rights. In the United States, where religious freedom is woven into our cultural and historical DNA, thousands of religions have flourished — and a growing number of Americans choose no faith at all. School boards, principals and teachers must embrace this reality, and this means they must not be in the business of deciding which religious beliefs matter for students, and which don’t. Decisions about when, where, how and if we pray are among the most intimate and personal ones we make. They are for families and individuals to decide.

 

SEGREGATION YESTERDAY. SEGREGATION TODAY…

We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated. This is how well your district does.

This is a long, but fascinating look at why and how our schools are still so segregated. You can even use the interactive chart to see how segregated your local school system is.

Will humans ever lose the “us” vs. “them” attitude. Americans haven’t lost it yet. People still move their families in order to get away from, and reduce the fear of “the other.” Sadly, we’re not yet mature enough to understand that we are all one people…on one planet.

Once you look at the school attendance zones this way, it becomes clearer why these lines are drawn the way they are. Groups with political clout — mainly wealthier, whiter communities — have pushed policies that help white families live in heavily white areas and attend heavily white schools.

We see this in city after city, state after state.

And often the attendance zones are gerrymandered to put white students in classrooms that are even whiter than the communities they live in.

The result is that schools today are re-segregating. In fact, schools in the South are as segregated now as they were about 50 years ago, not long after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

 

INDIANA, GET OUT OF THE PRIVATE SCHOOL BUSINESS

Public schools’ struggle correlates directly to state voucher support

Thanks to Tony Lux, former local superintendent in Indiana, for this list of ways Indiana has neglected its public schools, and how the state’s voucher program has damaged public education.

• Since 2010, the total state budget has risen 17 percent.

• Since 2010, the consumer price index (cost of living) has risen 17 percent.

• Since 2010, the education budget has only risen 10 percent.

• Vouchers cost $150 million a year, and the cost is diverted from public school funding, resulting in an actual 7 percent increase in public school funding. (More than half the Indiana voucher recipients never attended public schools.)

• Without vouchers, every public school would get an additional $150 per student.

• Property tax caps have resulted in millions of dollars lost for many school districts.

• Public schools in poor communities annually experience a 10 percent to 60 percent property tax shortfall, equaling tens of millions of lost dollars for some.

• Remedies for lost revenue are no longer provided by the state. Districts now depend on local referendums.

• Lost property taxes that pay for school debt, construction and transportation must be replaced from state dollars intended for student instruction.

• A portion of state tuition support called the “complexity index” provides special funding to meet the needs of the poorest students. Not only has the complexity index dollar amount been decreased to “equalize” the dollars per student among all schools, but the state has decreased the number of students qualifying – for some schools – by half.

• Forbes magazine points out that Indiana is ill advisedly attempting to fund three systems of schools – traditional public, charters and vouchers – with the same budget it once used for only traditional public schools.

• The “money follows the student” mantra for charter school students creates a loss of school funding that is significantly and disproportionately more damaging than the simple sum of the dollars. If a district loses 100 students, the loss can be spread over 12 grades. A classroom still needs a teacher if it has 25 students instead of 30, but the district has lost $600,000 in funding.

• Of the 20 schools or districts receiving the highest per-pupil funding, 18 are charter schools, none of which are required to report profit taking.

• Since 2010, teacher salaries have dropped 16 percent.

There needs to be an end to the expectation that the only solution for schools, especially those in the poorest communities, in response to uncontrollable losses of revenue, is to cut, cut, cut programs, teachers, support staff and salaries regardless of the negative effect on students.

 

INTERESTING EXTRAS FROM THE WORLD OF SCIENCE

Kindergarten difficulties may predict academic achievement across primary grades

Identifying factors that predict academic difficulties during elementary school should help inform efforts to help children who may be at risk. New research suggests that children’s executive functions may be a particularly important risk factor for such difficulties.

Humpback whale songs undergo a ‘cultural revolution’ every few years

Like any fad, the songs of humpback whales don’t stick around for long. Every few years, males swap their chorus of squeaks and groans for a brand new one. Now, scientists have figured out how these “cultural revolutions” take place.

🇺🇸🚌🌎

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Filed under Article Medleys, Child Development, EdTech, OnlineLearning, Preschool, Privatization, Religion, Science, ScreenTime, Segregation, vouchers

By the Numbers

Some random numbers to ponder during the Thanksgiving Recess…

TWO DOWN…AND MORE TO COME

Here’s why two Indiana school systems went broke. And others are in danger.

The Indiana Constitution states in Section 1, of Article 8, Education, that

…it should be the duty of the General Assembly to…provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall without charge, and equally open to all.

And in Section 3, that

The principal of the Common School fund shall remain a perpetual fund, which may be increased, but shall never be diminished; and the income thereof shall be inviolably appropriated to the support of Common Schools, and to no other purpose whatever.

Let’s keep those two sections of the Constitution in mind when we look at how the state has allowed…indeed, encouraged…the financial collapse of two of our public education systems.

In the rush to overhaul education, state lawmakers abandoned decades of commitment to the traditional public school system, pushing forward even as districts started closing schools, cutting programs and losing teachers.

They developed a system that encourages free-market competition with other public schools, charter schools and private ones — creating a sink-or-swim mentality that already has helped push Gary and Muncie schools into such a deep financial crisis that the state was forced to take them over.

They may not be the last.

And lest you think that it’s not a state sponsored problem, there’s this…

Breaking: Indiana didn’t set aside enough money for schools. Senate leader says a fix is ‘top priority.’

Don’t worry, though. There was plenty of money for charter schools and vouchers…

State education officials are expecting a shortfall in school funding this year that could be as high as $9 million because state and local officials underestimated Indiana’s student enrollment.

STARK DIFFERENCES

Charters and Consequences: An Investigative Series by the Network for Public Education

Diverting money to charter schools has an impact on public education. The Network for Public Education has a report focusing on charters and how they hurt real, public schools.

The data show clear, dramatic differences between the charters and the local, neighborhood schools. The neighborhood public schools have greater proportions of students who are poor, and who need special education services. Digging deeper you will  find stark differences in the handicapping conditions of students who attend charter and public schools, with public school special education students having far greater needs.

FIVE ADMISSIONS

5 times Republicans admitted they work for rich donors

Here’s why the latest Republican tax scheme favors the wealthy. Reason number three, from Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – deliver the tax breaks for the wealthy or lose political donor cash.

3. Lindsey Graham says the party’s coffers are dependent on tax plan passing.
In addition to cautioning last month that Republicans will lose seats in the House and Senate if the GOP tax reform bill doesn’t pass, Senator Graham issued a more dire warning on Thursday.

“The party fractures, most incumbents in 2018 will get a severe primary challenge, a lot of them will probably lose, the base will fracture, the financial contributions will stop,” Graham said, “other than that it’ll be fine.”

Graham has also suggested that Trump is a goner if this tax thing doesn’t happen, because the Dems will—politically speaking—take him out by attempting “to impeach him pretty quick.”

“[I]t would be just one constant investigation after another,” Graham groused, without a trace of irony. “So it’s important that we pass tax reform in a meaningful way. If we don’t, that’s probably the end of the Republican Party as we know it.”

16% CANCELLED PROGRAMS

Illinois’ teacher shortage and pension theft.

The war against public education is nationwide. Here, we read about the state-sponsored teacher shortage in Illinois and how 16% of the state’s schools had to cancel programs. Guess who benefits from the programs lost?

According to a 2015-16 school year survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, 75 percent of districts surveyed had fewer qualified candidates than in previous years, especially in rural districts and those in central and northwest Illinois.

Furthermore, 16 percent of schools canceled programs or classes because of the lack of teachers — mostly special education, language arts, math and science classes.

$170 MILLION

Tech billionaires sank $170 million into a new kind of school — now classrooms are shrinking and some parents say their kids are ‘guinea pigs’

Education is not a business, and shouldn’t be run like a business. Public schools are a public good, which should be supported by everyone, for the benefit of everyone. When the profit motive gets injected in public education, then things start to fall apart.

Here’s an idea…maybe educators, people who understand public education, ought to make the decisions impacting schools.

…some parents are bailing out of the school because they say AltSchool put its ambitions as a tech company above its responsibility to teach their children…

“We kind of came to the conclusion that, really, AltSchool as a school was kind of a front for what Max really wants to do, which is develop software that he’s selling,” a parent of a former AltSchool student told Business Insider.

FUDGING ATTENDANCE

Weekly Privatization Report 11-20-2017

Privatization of public education means profit. Profit means that the bottom line is money…not children.

Republican Gov. John Kasich’s Department of Education used Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s own attendance records to settle a dispute over student attendance at the charter operator. “When the Ohio Department of Education audited ECOT’s attendance for a second school year last summer, the embattled online charter’s verified attendance went up more than 80 percent, and the amount it was forced to repay was $19.2 million, down from $60 million the previous year.” The Columbus Dispatch reports “less than 24 percent of ECOT students spent enough time logged onto classes or participated in enough offline work that they received a full 920 hours of instruction, equal to a year of school.”

$100,000 FOR HOMELESS…OR FOR DEER?

Saving human lives is more important than killing deer

Here’s a story about a city which didn’t have enough money – $100,000 – to keep funding a homeless shelter, yet found more than that in order to kill deer damaging lawns.

America’s priorities are backwards…to say the least.

After losing $100,000 in funding last year, Ann Arbor’s Delonis Center homeless shelter was forced to close a floor full of beds that were badly needed. Meanwhile, the city is spending more than that to shoot local deer.

800,000 MORE STUDENTS AND FEWER PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEES

Subtract Teachers, Add Pupils: Math of Today’s Jammed Schools

More on the war against public education. 250,000 fewer teachers and support personnel are now responsible for 800,000 additional children. Simple math…for a simple nation.

Across the country, public schools employ about 250,000 fewer people than before the recession, according to figures from the Labor Department. Enrollment in public schools, meanwhile, has increased by more than 800,000 students. To maintain prerecession staffing ratios, public school employment should have actually grown by about 132,000 jobs in the past four years, in addition to replacing those that were lost…

8 WAYS TO SPOT FAKE NEWS

From Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Survival tips for the attack on democracy. Worth circulating.

📊➗💰

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Filed under Charters, class size, EdTech, Homeless Children, NewsMedia, Ohio, SchoolFunding, Taxes

2016 Medley #32: Still Testing After All These Years

Testing, Teacher Evaluations, EdTech,
A-F Grading System, Classroom Grades

TESTING MADNESS

In America we misuse standardized tests. We grade school systems, schools, teachers, and students, and no amount of “tweaking” testing programs will change the fact that using tests as a high stakes measurement is inappropriate.

The overuse and misuse of testing hasn’t improved education in the US, so why do we continue to do it? The answer is simple. Money.

When we decide to focus on student learning instead of trying to make a buck off of children’s education, or solve social problems with test scores, we might begin to improve education in America.

No comparing school grades to previous years

Tests measure income, pure and simple. We’ve known it for years, and it hasn’t changed in years.

…there’s still a strong correlation between grades and family income. Nearly all schools in Hamilton County — one of the lowest-poverty areas in the country — get A’s and B’s. And of the 89 Indiana schools that got F’s, over half were in the urban districts of Indianapolis Public Schools, Gary and South Bend.

Teacher bonus inequity shouldn’t be a surprise

When you have a teacher evaluation plan based on standardized tests, like Indiana’s, you reinforce the economic segregation of public schools by rewarding teachers for working in high income areas.

Schools in areas of high poverty need good teachers, but where’s the incentive for teachers to work in those schools?

Why is the US one of only three countries in the OECD who spend more money on the education of wealthy children than of poor children?

Indiana used to provide more resources for high poverty districts…one of the few states who did…until last year’s legislature turned that around.

Here in Indiana we pay teachers extra for good test scores. Guess which teachers get the big bonuses?

…The results, released last week, are what you’d expect. The biggest awards go to suburban districts where there are few low-income families. In Carmel Clay Schools, one of the lowest-poverty areas in the nation, the average award is estimated to be $2,422 per teacher…

At the other end of the scale, teachers in Indianapolis Public Schools will get an average of $128.40 In Indianapolis Wayne Township, they will get $42.50 In Kokomo, $39.79. In East Chicago, zero.

…To say this is unfair doesn’t begin to describe it. No one can argue with a straight face that teachers employed in wealthy districts deserve huge bonuses but teachers who dedicate their lives to helping poor children should get a slap in the face. Yet that’s the program the legislature gave us.

The new standardized testing craze to hit public schools

Changing the medium over which tests are administered doesn’t remove the damage caused by high stakes. And it further exacerbates the differences between schools in wealthy districts and schools in poor districts.

Parents Across America’s report on the dangers of EdTech suggests six questions parents can ask, including: which devices and programs are being used, how much time children spend on electronic devices, and what kind of data is being collected. Parents should also ask whether assessments are mostly multiple choice, how often they are administered, if some students (e.g., students with disabilities or English learners) are tested more frequently, and who controls the data and how it is being used.

Armed with detailed information, parents can fight back against technology misuse and overuse.

A failing grade: Folly of state’s school-assessment system apparent at even a cursory glance

Why stop at grading teachers based on test scores when you can misuse standardized tests even further by grading schools? Indiana jumped on the Jeb Bush bandwagon to grade schools in 2011 and while the A-F grading system hasn’t done anything to improve schools we keep using it.

The A-F Grading System continues to show us that wealthy students score higher on the tests than poor students. Did we need to spend $800 million on testing over the last 30 years to learn that?

Under Gov. Mitch Daniels and Superintendent Tony Bennett in 2011, the state board threw out the descriptive labels and adopted a letter-grade system, a practice championed by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Indiana’s new approach was broken from the start. It was revealed in 2013 that Bennett privately ordered staff to change the metrics so that dozens of school grades improved. A charter school operated by one of the state superintendent’s biggest campaign donors saw its grade boosted from a C to an A.

In spite of repeated problems and unsuccessful efforts to develop a valid grading formula, Indiana policymakers have refused to give up on their quest to attach grades to schools.

Why?

Beyond Grades: How Am I Doing?

During my 35 years of teaching (20 of those in gen-ed classrooms) I consistently struggled with grades. I would keep track of student scores, average them out, and then, at the end of the “grading period” figure out what grade all those numbers represented. More often than not I would comment to myself that “I really would like to say more” about a child’s learning than just a letter grade and a quick general comment on a report card, but with the time constraints of the structure of education in the US, I was rarely able to do more than just write down the grade and move on to the next.

Since I’m retired, I can now admit that sometimes I would “embellish” or “fudge” on grades because of the child’s effort, actual learning, or some other reason, and in that way I would rationalize to myself that the grade reflected the actual progress of the child. It would be nice if teachers had time to actually analyze their teaching and their students’ learning.

I wonder how they figure grades in Finland?

Parents believe grades have some meaning, primarily because we have tried to convince them that they do over the past 150 years. We all know better. We need to tell parents we were wrong, We need to show them there are better ways to report on learning.

Click here for part one of this series by Russ Walsh.

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Filed under A-F Grading, Article Medleys, EdTech, Evaluations, Testing