Posted in ALEC, Article Medleys, Charters, Equity, Finland, kindergarten, poverty, Racism, Teacher Licensing, Teaching Career, Testing

Instead of Equity

Inequity, both economic and racial, in the U.S. is so common, so embedded in our society that no one in America should be surprised to hear what John Green has to say about life expectancy in the video below.

In the doobly doo, below his video, Green links to a study – Inequalities in Life Expectancy Among US Counties, 1980 to 2014, wherein we learn…

Much of the variation in life expectancy among [U.S.] counties can be explained by a combination of socioeconomic and race/ethnicity factors, behavioral and metabolic risk factors, and health care factors.

So, life expectancies, like test scores, are correlated to ZIP codes…

SCHOOL IS ABOUT FINDING YOUR HAPPINESS…

In contrast to the inequity in the U.S., Finland is one of the most equitable societies on the planet. This equity is reflected in Finland’s education system. In his 2015 documentary, Where to Invade Next, Michael Moore asked the Finnish Minister of Education, “If you don’t have standardized tests here in Finland, how do you know which schools are the best?” She responded…

The neighborhood school is the best school. It is not different than the school which can be, for example, situated in the town center, because all the schools in Finland, they are equal.

Equity.

In Finland, the richest families send their children to the same schools as the poorest families. That means, as Moore says,

…the rich parents have to make sure that the public schools are great. And by making the rich kids go to school with everyone else, they grow up with those other kids as friends. And when they become wealthy adults, they have to think twice before they screw them over.

Equity.

Equity in the nation yields equity in education. Equity in education yields high achievement and reinforces equity in the nation. If we were actually interested in improving American education we would do what the Finns have done…and, as Moore said elsewhere in the documentary, the Finnish education system is based on ideas from the United States. We just have to do what we already know.

But, whine the contrarians, “Finland is not the U.S. We can’t just import their whole education system. They’re a smaller country…not so diverse!”

True.

In order to do what Finland has done we would have to support and invest in our children, eliminate the inequity in our society, and…

  • end the racism inherent in America. We would have to heal the damage done by Jim Crow and the nation’s slave past. We can’t build an educationally equitable nation until we have a racially equitable nation.
  • stop dismantling our public schools. When a school system, riddled with poverty, inevitably fails, the solution in the United States is to privatize…to close the schools and replace them with charter schools…instead of working to change the environment and support the schools. Charter schools, however, aren’t the cure to low achievement.

See also…

  • quit trying to fund two or three parallel school systems. We need one public school system for all Americans, poor and wealthy, black and white. As long as there are multiple school systems divided and ranked by economic and racial privilege, there will be “haves” and “have nots.” There will be inequity.

…INSTEAD WE BLAME TEACHERS

A school is not a factory; teaching is a process

Instead of increasing educational equity we point fingers and try to find someone to blame. “Reformers” love to blame teachers.

Instead of giving teachers the professional responsibility of teaching, politicians and policy makers make decisions for public schools. They decide what should be taught and how it should be taught. Then, when their ignorant and inappropriate interference doesn’t result in higher test scores, they blame the teachers.

On every occasion possible, they talk about incompetent and ineffective teachers as if they are the norm instead of the rare exception. They create policies that tie teachers’ hands, making it more and more difficult for them to be effective. They cut budgets, eliminate classroom positions, overload classrooms, remove supports, choose ineffective and downright useless instructional tools, set up barriers to providing academic assistance, and then very quickly stand up and point fingers at teachers, blaming them for every failure of American society, and washing their own hands of any blame.

…INSTEAD WE LOWER STANDARDS FOR TEACHERS

In Arizona, teachers can now be hired with absolutely no training in how to teach

We pass legislation damaging the teaching profession. Then, when fewer young people want to become teachers and a teacher shortage is wreaking havoc on public schools, we claim that “we have to get more ‘good people’ into the classroom,” so we remove licensing restrictions and let anyone teach…

New legislation signed into law in Arizona by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will allow teachers to be hired with no formal teaching training, as long as they have five years of experience in fields “relevant” to the subject they are teaching. What’s “relevant” isn’t clear.

The Arizona law is part of a disturbing trend nationwide to allow teachers without certification or even any teacher preparation to be hired and put immediately to work in the classroom in large part to help close persistent teacher shortages. It plays into a misconception that anyone can teach if they know a particular subject and that it is not really necessary to first learn about curriculum, classroom management and instruction.

ALEC: ALTERNATIVE CERTIFICATION ACT

ALEC is a voice for lowering standards for teaching. They say, “certification requirements prevent many individuals from entering the teaching profession.” That’s true, and that’s as it should be.

They say, “comprehensive alternative certification programs improve teacher quality by opening up the profession to well-educated, qualified, and mature individuals.” What is their definition of “improved teacher quality?” What is their definition of “qualified?”

Teachers need to understand and know their subject area, of course, but they also need to understand educational methods, theory, and style (whatever that means) which ALEC so disrespectfully dismisses.

Why should teachers know anything about education methods, learning theory, classroom management, or child development? If you’re ALEC, the answer is “they don’t.”

Teacher quality is crucial to the improvement of instruction and student performance. However, certification requirements that correspond to state-approved education programs in most states prevent many individuals from entering the teaching profession. To obtain an education degree, students must often complete requirements in educational methods, theory, and style rather than in-depth study in a chosen subject area. Comprehensive alternative certification programs improve teacher quality by opening up the profession to well-educated, qualified, and mature individuals. States should enact alternative teacher certification programs to prepare persons with subject area expertise and life experience to become teachers through a demonstration of competency and a comprehensive mentoring program.

Paul Lauter: Why Do Dentists Need to be Licensed?

In response to ALEC…

I think we should propose doing away with dental licenses. After all, there’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a piece of string and a door knob.

…INSTEAD WE OBSESS OVER TESTING

An advertisement from Facebook.

Is this what we ought to be focusing on…better test-prep? In America the purpose of education has become the tests.

Don’t Use Kindergarten Readiness Assessments for Accountability

I’m afraid we have completely lost any valid use of tests in the U.S. Now there’s a move to use Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (KRAs) in order to grade schools and children.

Tests should only be used for the purpose for which they were developed. Any other use is educational malpractice.

…there are also several tempting ways to misuse the results. The Ounce delves into three potential misuses. First, the results should not be used to keep children from entering kindergarten. Not only were these assessments not designed for this purpose, but researchers have cautioned against this practice as it could be harmful to children’s learning.

Another misuse of KRA results is for school or program accountability. According to the Ounce report, some states have begun using these results to hold early learning providers accountable. One example the report highlights is Florida. While Florida has since made changes, the Florida State Board of Education previously used the results from its Kindergarten Readiness Screener to determine how well a state Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) provider prepared 4-year-olds for kindergarten…

…Finally, the Ounce report raised issues with using KRA results for pre-K and kindergarten teacher evaluation. Once again, the assessments are not designed for this purpose…[emphasis added]

INSTEAD…

…of making excuses and blaming school systems, schools, teachers, and students, policy makers should take responsibility for low achievement caused by the nation’s shamefully high rate of child poverty.

…of wasting tax dollars on a second (charters) and third (vouchers) set of schools of dubious quality, trying to duplicate our already neglected public schools, we should invest in our children, in our future, and fully fund a single, free, equitable, public school system.

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Posted in Achievement Gap, Article Medleys, Competition, DeVos, Equity, Jonathan Kozol, Lead, poverty, Privatization, Public Ed

2017 Medley #4

Privatization, DeVos,
Public Education: A Common Good,
Poverty, Inequity, Achievement Gaps,
Lead, Competition, Words Matter

PRIVATIZATION

The dangerous rise of privatization and corporate education reform

The passage below is from an excellent post about the “fundamental elements” of the privatization movement.

When we first started fighting the corporate “reformers” in Indiana we were told that, since public schools were “failing” (NOTE: they’re not…see below, U.S. Public Schools: Success), “reform” was necessary in order to help students achieve at a higher level. Providing money to send children to private schools would help those students “stuck” in “failing” schools and give them the opportunity to achieve more.

Once it became clear that privatized schools (charters or private schools) weren’t better at raising student achievement than real public schools, the achievement of children no longer was a legitimate argument for defunding and privatizing public education. Now, the Indiana “reformers” have switched their argument to “choice” for “choice’s” sake. The money should follow the child and parents have complete control of public funds used to send their children to whatever school they choose. This means, of course, that tax money is spent with no public oversight and is no more rational than a citizen “choosing” to use tax money to fund a trip to the bookstore instead of supporting funding of the public library.

It’s also true that in many cases, attendance at a particular privately run school is the school’s choice rather than the parent’s. “Is your child expensive to educate? Sorry we’re not equipped to handle his needs.” “Does your child need special education services? Sorry, we don’t have the facilities to deal with her.” “Are there unaddressed behavior problems getting in the way of your child’s education? You’ll have to take your child to another school until he can behave himself.”

The point of school “reform” has never been about student achievement. It’s about segregation and moving tax money into the hands of private corporations and religious organizations.

The charter school industry and their allies in the corporate education reform movement are making unprecedented gains in their effort to privatize public education in the United States.

With Betsy DeVos on the verge of becoming the United States Secretary of Education and President Donald Trump promising to divert $20 billion in federal funding from public schools to privatization through school choice programs, the movement to undermine public education must be deliriously excited about their prospects over the next four years.

Of course, the proponents of corporate education reform have been riding high for more than two decades thanks to the policies and politics of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom used their time in office to promote charter schools and the broader corporate reform agenda.

AS LONG AS WE’RE TALKING ABOUT DEVOS

Here’s How Much Betsy DeVos And Her Family Paid To Back GOP Senators Who Will Support Her

How much did Betsy DeVos spend to buy your senator’s vote?

THE COMMON GOOD

Universal Public Education and the Common Good

Jan Resseger, in her blog, quotes Jonathan Kozol about public education…

“Slice it any way you want. Argue, as we must, that every family ought to have the right to make whatever choice they like in the interests of their child, no matter what damage it may do to other people’s children. As an individual decision, it’s absolutely human; but setting up this kind of competition, in which parents with the greatest social capital are encouraged to abandon their most vulnerable neighbors, is rotten social policy. What this represents is a state supported shriveling of civic virtue, a narrowing of moral obligation to the smallest possible parameters. It isn’t good for Massachusetts, and it’s not good for democracy.”

…and William Barber

In the United States, expanding opportunity for marginalized populations of students in our so-called universal education system has involved two centuries of political struggle —securing admittance and equal opportunity for girls, for American Indians, for African American children of former slaves, for immigrant students, and for disabled students—many of them formerly institutionalized. In the words of the Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP, “We’ve come too far to go back now.”

See also Vote ‘no’ on charter schools by Jonathan Kozol

POVERTY: NEEDED SUPPORT ABSENT

Priorities In a School System Where Nearly Half of Students Live in Poverty

Technology is an important part of public education, and children from high poverty backgrounds need the benefits of technology just as much as wealthy children, but they also need good teachers, small classes sizes, support services (nurses, social workers, etc), a well-rounded curriculum, quality facilities, well-stocked school libraries, and a host of other social and material benefits which the wealthy insist upon for their own children (See The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve).

We spend millions of dollars on education every year, but it’s still not a priority. States are scrambling to find the money to support their schools, but the political winds are blowing in the “no more taxes” direction. We don’t want to pay taxes to benefit someone else’s children. Our current plan is to move towards privatization, thinking that some private corporation will pay for educating our children not realizing that the price for privatization is too high.

In its massive diversion of funds towards technology, the proposed Operating Budget of Baltimore County Public Schools does not address the great need of all students for more support staff, and subjects the existing School support staff to ever more crushing workloads.

INEQUITY

Stopping a Disastrous Cycle

To be involved in public education is to be aware of the disparities and inequities in the nation’s schools. Instead of providing more resources where they are needed, American public schools too often provide fewer resources where more are needed. This is because the locations where more resources are needed are, by definition, those places where fewer resources exist. Until we change from a society which provides more for children of the wealthy than children of the poor, our “achievement gap” will remain.

There’s a telling question in this Kappa Delta Pi article. “…why do we send our children into schools every day with…unsafe surroundings, lack of necessary materials and resources, and a staff without the specialities needed…?”

The answer, of course, is that we, as a nation, don’t consider poor kids “ours.” Poor kids are “theirs.” “Ours” vs. “theirs” is why the US is one of three advanced nations to provide fewer resources to poor students than to wealthy students. Americans haven’t learned yet that there is a cost for providing less for some students than others – a cost of continued poverty and the need for welfare, higher rates of incarceration, and more social stratification.

“Ours” vs. “theirs” is the basis for the entire privatization movement. It’s reasonable for every parent to want what is best for their own child, but the “competition theory” which pits private and privately run schools against public schools guarantees that there will be winners and losers. The goal for Americans should be to emulate the Finns and make what is “best for my child” the same for all children. Eliminating “losers” by providing adequate resources won’t hurt the “winners” and it will provide society with a larger pool of productive and participating citizens.

Imagine going into the hospital to have your tonsils removed and the operating room is filthy, the doctor is using decades-old instruments, and there are no nurses available to assist.

Most of us would turn around and run.

So, why do we send our children into schools every day with the same conditions—unsafe surroundings, lack of necessary materials and resources, and a staff without the specialties needed to address critical social-emotional issues that stand in the way of academic success?

Sadly, these students can’t turn around and run away, or at least not until they get older and drop out.

POVERTY: ACHIEVEMENT GAP

FACT – Hunger is a major contributing factor to the Education Achievement Gap.

Instead of focusing on ways to deprive public schools of the resources they need and transfer tax dollars to private corporations, our leaders’ attention ought to be directed to ending the high rate of child poverty in the U.S.

The evidence is overwhelming that the lack of sufficient food undermines an individual’s ability to function and it has an especially devastating impact on children.

And hunger is a very real problem in this country, especially when it comes to a significant number of the nation’s children.

POVERTY: LEAD

House GOP quietly closes investigation into Flint water crisis

The governor’s policies have poisoned thousands of children. The children of Flint – and thousands of other children around the country – are being thrown away because we can’t afford to clean up our water and neighborhoods.

Here’s a plan for Bill Gates, the Walton Family, Eli Broad or any other billionaire who wants to spend money on education…invest your money in cleaning up lead poisoning instead of privatizing public education…you’ll get better results.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, senior Democrat on the oversight panel, said he wants Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to produce key Flint-related documents within 30 days. Cummings said Snyder and his administration have obstructed the committee’s investigation into the Flint crisis for a year, refusing to provide — or even search for — key documents.

Snyder’s intransigence has thwarted committee efforts to answer critical questions about what he knew as the crisis unfolded and why he didn’t act sooner to fix Flint’s water problem, Cummings said.

“Requiring Governor Snyder to finally comply with the committee’s request will allow us to complete our investigation and offer concrete findings and recommendations to help prevent a catastrophe like this from happening again,” Cummings wrote to Chaffetz. “In contrast, allowing Governor Snyder to flout the committee’s authority will deny the people of Flint the answers they deserve.”

U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: SUCCESS

U.S. Public Schools Are NOT Failing. They’re Among the Best in the World

It’s common knowledge that America’s public schools are failing. Common knowledge is wrong.

As ever, far right politicians on both sides of the aisle, whether they be Democratic Neoliberals or Republican Tea Partiers, are using falsehoods about our public schools to sell an alternative. They say our public schools are beyond saving and that we need to privatize. They call it school choice but it’s really just an attempt to destroy the system that has so much going for it.

We should strengthen public education not undermine it. We should roll up our sleeves and fix the real problems we have, not invent fake ones.

COMPETITION

Competition vs. Quality

Peter Greene provides us with a beautiful metaphor for our national garden of children…

The goal of public education is excellence for everyone, but competition produces excellence for only a few, and sometimes not even that. It’s a lousy metaphorical framework for education. Better, say, to talk about a garden on which we focus the full resources of the community to plant and water and tend living things to grow and mature without worrying about which one is tallest, sweetest or most vibrantly colored, or how we could best deprive one flower of water so that another can win a greenery contest. Education is not a race, and competition will not improve it.

WORDS MATTER

Five Strategies for Motivating the Student Who was Retained Last Year

I very much want to believe that the author of this article didn’t mean for it to sound the way it did. I want to believe that she doesn’t consider a child with special needs (identified or not) a burden. I want to believe that she doesn’t consider children who struggle an onerous responsibility. I want to believe that she just made a poor choice of words when she said that a teacher is “saddled” with a child who is retained in grade.

Saddle, according to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, has as one of its meanings: to place under a burden or encumbrance.

No child, especially those who have special learning needs, should be made to feel like they are a burden to adults whose job it is to educate them.

For my comments on retention in grade as a method of remediation, see Retention.

Have you ever been saddled with a student who failed the previous year in your subject and found that they were either just as motivated or less motivated than the year before? Yeah. Me too. I took some time to research some strategies that will help us motivate those students who just didn’t make it the year before and got retained. These strategies are geared toward students who failed due to lack of work ethic, not lack of ability. That’s an article for another day!

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Posted in Charters, Election, Equity, Gulen, Indiana, Politics, Privatization, read-alouds, reading, TeacherShortage, TFA

2016 Medley #24

Teacher Shortage, Teach for America,
Reading, Privatization, Politics, Read Aloud

TEACHER SHORTAGE

Understanding the Teacher Shortage Crisis and the Solutions to Fix it

Those of us who have watched the destruction of public education and the vilifying of teachers by legislators, state (and national) executives, and billionaire “reformers,” are not at all surprised by a teacher shortage.

The reasons for the decline in the number of teachers are correlated to teacher evaluation systems blended with high stakes standardized testing implemented over the past ten years, a shrinking student base in teacher education programs, a lack of respect for the teaching profession, and low salaries and benefits.

Candidates present their cases

Eric Holcomb, Republican Candidate for Governor of Indiana, says that the teacher shortage is “not just in Indiana,” which is true. However, the reasons are the same nationally and locally. Teachers in Indiana have lost collective bargaining rights, lost due process rights, lost classroom autonomy, and gained salary stagnation. The state legislature, the governor, and the State Board of Education all contributed just like similar politicians in North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Florida…

In addition, Holcomb’s comment “lawmakers have increased K-12 funding” is misleading and disingenuous. A big chunk of that money is going for “reform” schemes like the overuse of standardized testing, private school vouchers, and charter schools…all pushed by the Republican governor and the Republican supermajority in the state legislature.

The issue of teacher shortages arose, and Holcomb pointed out it’s a national problem, not just one in Indiana.

He said lawmakers have increased K-12 funding, but “it’s about where that money ends up.” For instance, he said, too much is going to administrative costs instead of salaries.

But Gregg said, “we created this teacher shortage in the last few years by the way we have demeaned those in the education profession.” He promised to bring teachers back to the table on policy and testing decisions – one thing he said will help attract and retain teachers.

DESTROYING THE TEACHING PROFESSION WITH TEACH FOR AMERICA

Do Americans Hate Teachers, Or are they Duped by Teach for America?

Teach for America gives its “corps members” – students from the nation’s highest ranked colleges and universities – only five weeks of training to prepare them to teach poor, urban students.

Is there any other profession which would let recent graduates take on professional responsibilities without serious preparation? I have a masters degree in Elementary Education, a Reading Specialization, and nearly four decades of experience in elementary school classrooms. Would I be prepared to practice corporate law with five weeks of “training?”

Yet school systems (and states) around the country regularly allow these untrained novices into classrooms with the neediest students.

“But there is no one else who will take this job!” the school systems respond. Aside from the fact that that’s not always true the problem then becomes one of recruitment. Maybe teachers ought to be given salaries commensurate with their training. Maybe they ought to have more autonomy, prep time, and time for collaboration with other teachers. Maybe states should stop bashing teachers and do what’s needed to make the profession more attractive.

Do Americans understand that by contributing to a turnaround group of young novices to be teachers, they are destroying the American teaching profession? Do they know that sooner or later there will be no more real, qualified teachers to instruct their students?

Are they not aware that fast-track trained beginners, who focus on data, digital instruction, and classroom control, and who are never intent on becoming teachers until they recruited, are not the best individuals to lead a classroom?

Are they confused and think they are doing something nice, or are they hell-bent on destroying public education?

TEACHING READING

Teaching Struggling Readers: Focus on Meaning

Thanks to Russ Walsh for his thoughtful discussion of how to improve literacy instruction. Educators must take back instruction from statehouses and billionaire board rooms.

The key thing to understand in designing a support program for readers is that reading is communication. If we begin our search for the best way to help a struggling reader with the idea that language is meaningful and reading is about making sense of written language, then we have a better chance to help struggling readers.

What does this mean for instruction? One thing it means is we need to provide interventions early, before children experience too much failure and adopt too many “confusions” about how reading works. Secondly, it means that rather than doubling down on phonics instruction, we need to double down on meaning making. If a student struggles to make meaning from text, we must scaffold the meaning sufficiently to assist the student in decoding the words.

Most instruction for struggling readers, in other words, has it backward.

PRIVATIZATION: GULEN CHARTERS

Who Is Watching? Turkish Cleric, Accused of Motivating Military Coup, Controls Large Network of Charter Schools in the U.S.

Did you know that the reclusive Turkish primary school graduate preacher, former imam, writer, and political figure who failed in a coup attempt in Turkey is running one of the largest networks of charter schools in the US?

The lack of transparency of the Gulen charter network and the failure of federal and state oversight are warning signs of the dangers involved in turning over taxpayer dollars for public education to private charter operators. In the case of the Gulen network, the amount of money involved is enormous—hundreds of millions of dollars. Shouldn’t there be government investigations? A moratorium on adding more schools to these networks? Where is the voice of the charter industry for due diligence in schools where we send our children? Our children deserve better.

PRIVATIZATION: INCREASES INEQUITY

Report: How privatization increases inequality and here (full report)

“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.” — John Adams

Section 5: Privatization perpetuates socioeconomic and racial segregation

… implications of this increasing segregation can especially be felt in districts with rapid charter growth. In Durham County, North Carolina, the fast growth of charters has increased racial segregation at the financial expense of the public school district. Neighborhood schools have lost middle class children to charter schools and have been left with a higher concentration of poor students and students of color. Charter schools are exempt from providing student transportation or free and reduced price lunch, making it less likely that poor students can attend charter schools that don’t provide these critical services.

Charter school expansion has been destabilizing for the school district. One recent study estimates that the net cost to the Durham Public Schools could be as high as $2,000 per charter school student. The school district estimated in 2014 that charter schools take $14.9 million each year from neighborhood schools. This means that the traditional public schools in the district, which contain higher proportions of lower-income students, students of color, and more expensive-to-educate children (such as those with disabilities) are financially strained, as the district is unable to reduce its spending proportionally with the loss of charter students due to unavoidable fixed costs.286 Unfortunately, this financial loss hurts the public school district’s ability to provide quality education to its remaining students, who lose out even more as schools become more racially isolated and segregated.

POLITICS

10 Emotional Abuse Tactics That Trump Blatantly Used in the First Debate

A lot of people are saying that this guy is abusive. Is he? I don’t know. Maybe he is.

His speeches are filled with language such as “it’s a disaster,” “this is tremendous,” “we are in a big, fat, ugly bubble,” “it’s unbelievable,” and “it’s the greatest.” He also loves to use language of “everyone” and “always.” He cushions many of his egregious claims with statements like “everyone tells me” – a claim that is very difficult to prove or disprove or fact-check.

Apophasis

…a rhetorical device wherein the speaker or writer brings up a subject by either denying it, or denying that it should be brought up.

Trump’s Definition of the “High Ground”

Donald Trump claimed the high ground after the September 26th Presidential Debate.

“I’m very happy that I was able to hold back on the indiscretions with respect to Bill Clinton, because I have a lot of respect for Chelsea Clinton and I just didn’t want to say what I was going to say.”

He Would Never Say It, But This Is Donald Trump’s Favorite Rhetorical Device

“I was going to say ‘dummy’ Bush; I won’t say it. I won’t say it,” Trump said in January.

Trump referenced then-GOP hopeful Carly Fiorina’s rocky tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard in a similar way.

“I promised I would not say that she ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground, that she laid off tens of thousands of people and she got viciously fired,” he said. “I said I will not say it, so I will not say it.”

…“I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct,” he wrote on Twitter. “Instead, I will only call her a lightweight reporter!”

And of the former host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Trump stated that, “unlike others, I never attacked dopey Jon Stewart for his phony last name. Would never do that!”

READ ALOUD

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Posted in ADHD, Article Medleys, Equity, Public Ed, reform, RightWing, RtI, scripted teaching, VirtualSchools

2016 Medley #17

Equity, Corporate Reform, Failure, Charters, ADHD, the War on Public Education, Community Schools, RtI

EQUITY

Chris Christie Punches Poor School Children in the Face

In the last session of the Indiana General Assembly the state’s legislators decided to provide more money to wealthy districts and less money to poor districts. Now, New Jersey’s Chris Christie has done the same. It’s what Republican “reformist” policy makers do.

Rick Riordan wrote in his young adult novel The Red Pyramid, “Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need.” That, in a nutshell, is the difference between equality and equity. With equality every school gets the same. With equity every school gets what it needs. As long as our policy makers are unable, or unwilling, to deal with the massive level of child poverty in the country, our schools, and all our public services for children, need to focus on equity.

It is, of course, clear that impoverished urban areas need more money to provide a decent education to children hobbled by the impact of poverty, poor nutrition, poor health care, high crime rates and unemployment. Recognition of this is what made New Jersey a national leader in providing extra resources to urban schools through the Abbott decisions of three decades ago. Christie says that the urban schools are getting the extra money, but are under-performing. He should know since for the last six years many of those districts have been under his control and he has failed at every turn to make improvements…

Christie’s one-size-fits-all plan for taxation does not meet our most basic understandings of fairness and justice.

TRAIN WRECK

Going Off the Rails

Corporate education “reform” is a train wreck failure. “Failing” schools closed throughout the country have been replaced with other schools that, based on “reformers'” favorite metric, test scores, were “failures.”

No matter how hard you work, malnourished and traumatized children will not score as high on standardized tests as children of the wealthy. No matter how well trained the teacher is, children who lack medical and dental care will not learn as well. No matter how much you threaten, teachers alone cannot overcome all the deleterious effects of poverty, segregation, and racism.

How long will we keep feeding fuel to a train wreck?

At what point after a locomotive crashes should the engineer and fireman stop shoveling coal?

I would think the first priorities in the above scenario would be to clean up the wreckage, investigate the cause of the crash, and then work to correct the reasons why the train went off the tracks in the first place.

That’s if you believe train wrecks are generally something to be avoided.

Therefore, adding more fuel to the flame by continuing to shovel coal into a broken train engine would be rather idiotic, right?

FAILURE

The Failure of Failure

Alfie Kohn reminds us that progressive education works better than canned programs and “teacher–proof” scripts.

A few years ago, two researchers in Singapore published a study that compared the effect of traditional and progressive instruction in middle-school math. The traditional approach consisted of having students listen to lectures and individually solve practice problems with clearly defined right answers. The progressive approach was defined by collaboration, discovery, and open-ended questions.

If you’re surprised to learn that the latter turned out to be much more effective — producing “deeper conceptual understanding without compromising performance [on conventional measures of achievement]” across “a spectrum of. . .ability levels” — well, chances are you haven’t been following the research in this area. It’s long been clear that direct instruction and other traditional practices aren’t very effective in general and are particularly counterproductive with younger children.

VIRTUAL CHARTERS: GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD

A Call to Action to Improve the Quality of Full-Time Virtual Charter Public Schools

Virtual (online) charter schools are so bad even charter school advocacy groups admit it.

This report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers reinforces the fact that virtual charter schools are failures. Their solution? Have the public pay to continue the failed experiment through continued funding of such schools. Let the profit continue while the privatizers try to fix things.

The well-documented, disturbingly low performance by too many full-time virtual charter public schools should serve as a call to action to state leaders and authorizers across the country.

It is time for state leaders to make the tough policy changes necessary to ensure that this model works more effectively than it currently does for the students it serves.

It is also time for authorizers to close chronically low-performing virtual charter schools.

Our organizations plan to work actively with state leaders and authorizers as they embark on these efforts.

ADHD

When ADHD Collides With Grit: What to Do?

I grew up with untreated “minimal brain dysfunction” (the name for ADHD in the 50s and 60s)…and struggled as a student. I kept hearing “you’re just lazy,” “you need to try harder,” and “you give up too easily.” Year after year (decade after decade) of the same negative messages has a tendency to damage one’s confidence (to say the least). It’s still something I struggle with daily half a century later!

Demanding “grit” in students with ADHD is contraindicated. The one size fits all mentality (aka ‘learn or be punished’) damages our most vulnerable students and denies them of their right to an appropriate education.

…is today’s grit more punitive than helpful? Is it just an excuse to browbeat students into accomplishing unproven school agendas, or to insist that they put up with the lousy conditions adults fail to fix?

Think about the loss of recess. Is that supposed to teach grit?

In special education the goal for students with ADHD, or other differences, has always been about helping students find what they do best.

THE WAR AGAINST PUBLIC EDUCATION

Why the right hates American history

In light of Oklahoma’s recent attack on AP History, it would be easy to argue that today’s Republicans don’t recognize the value of a good education. However, the reality is that they do, and that the spreading attack on public education is far more sinister.

When the Patriot Act was signed, Bush and his ilk claimed the power to violate citizens’ private lives because, they said, there is no “right to privacy” in the United States. In that, they – perhaps purposefully – overlooked the history of America and the Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776. And they missed a basic understanding of the evolution of language in the United States.

Of course, they weren’t the first to have made these mistakes. And, the Conservatives waging today’s war on education hope that they won’t be the last.

COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

A Community Is More of a Community When It Has a School

Public schools provide an anchor for communities. They provide stability for children…something lacking when “failing” schools – i.e. schools in poor communities – are closed and replaced by charters which don’t do any better.

Local schools are important for both urban and rural communities. “Churn” and disruption might be good for business, but it doesn’t help children.

…while a community school reflects and preserves the strengths of its community, it also reflects the problems and weaknesses as well. But I also know, and have seen with my own eyes, that a community is more of a community when it has a school, a place where all members of that community come together to care for and nurture one of their most precious resources—their children. In a democratic society, that has to count for something.

RTI FAILS

Response to Intervention Falls Short

I was talking to a former colleague last week – a special education teacher – about Response to Intervention (RtI) and how it isn’t working. We agreed that it seemed to be a way of keeping children from getting the special educational services they deserved – saving the school system money.

Many schools and school systems adopted RtI plans because money needed to fully support special education services was inadequate – public schools are still waiting for promised federal support. There are just too many kids who need help, and not enough special education teachers – as well as not enough money to pay special education teachers – to go around.

If we, as a nation, actually cared about our children (as opposed to “my children“) we would make sure that extra help was provided when needed. Instead we dump the impossible task of fulfilling every classroom need on overworked and under–supported classroom teachers…and then blame them when it doesn’t work.

A US Department of Education study evaluated RtI and found that there was little research basis for using it as a method of helping students. In fact, the report reports that RtI was worse than ineffective. It actually made things worse for some students.

…this study examined over 20,000 students in 13 states and found that first grade students who received RTI actually performed worse than a similar peer group that did not. Instead of catching up to grade level, the students receiving RTI lost the equivalent of one-tenth of a school year. To quote one of the study’s authors: “[T]his turns out to be what RTI looks like when it plays out in daily life.”

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Posted in A-F Grading, Charters, Choice, Equity, Privatization, Public Ed, Quotes, REPA, SchoolFunding, Testing, Value-Added, WhyTeachersQuit

Random Quotes – June 2016

THIS DOESN’T WORK…

Johnson Academy receives charter renewal

Hypocrisy at work.

The constant barrage of disdain against public schools by the legislature and the governor has led to an increase in the investment in privatization and the contrasting defunding of public education. “Public schools are ‘failing'” the refrain goes, “so we need to divert tax money from the public schools to vouchers and charters.”

Then we read something like this…

from The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette

Education One, a public charter school-authorizing entity based at Trine University, granted the Timothy L. Johnson Academy a two-year charter renewal.

The academy on Werling Drive in Fort Wayne now has a two-year charter effective June 30 through June 30, 2018.

The school was rated an “F” school in the A-F state accountability rating system for 2014. The two previous years, the school received a “D.”

The school, founded in 2002, lost its charter with Ball State University in 2013.

THIS DOESN’T EITHER…

Unqualified, Uncertified Teachers: Where is the Outrage?

How “reformers” have worked to destroy the teaching profession – Indiana version.

Problem: Career professional teachers, supported by professional teachers unions, demand higher wages and benefits. This stands in the way of privatization in two ways; 1) higher personnel costs results in lower corporate profits, and 2) education professionals support increased resources for their students thereby further reducing profits.

Answer: Destroy the teaching profession (and public schools along with it) through the following steps:

1. Claim that public schools are “failing” and blame it on “bad teachers.”

2. Evaluate teachers using test scores and restrict salary increases for teachers whose students score high. This reinforces the “bad teachers” myth and allows the destruction of the salary structure for all teachers. [Odd how “bad teachers” seem to congregate in schools with high levels of poverty. Oh, and deny that poverty is relevant to achievement.]

3. Threaten the livelihoods of teachers who work with hard-to-educate students, ESL students, students who live in poverty, and students with special needs, through punishments for teaching students with low test scores.

3. Attack and threaten teacher training institutions for turning out all those “bad teachers.”

4. Divert funding from public education to vouchers and charter schools providing less funding for “failing” schools. Budgets are cut. Class sizes rise. Test scores suffer. Continue to blame “bad teachers.”

5. Deny that experience matters. End seniority, salary schedules, and incentives for increased education or advanced degrees.

6. Once all these are in place and a teacher shortage develops, lower qualifications for teaching through state board of education policies.

7. Ignore all research about poverty and achievement, the effectiveness of experienced teachers, and the importance of investment in public education.

Success: Using non-professional, non-career teachers, with higher turnover rates, results in lower personnel costs and higher profits.

from Russ Walsh

I would like to see the business model of any successful company that says, “Let’s forget trying to make the job more attractive to top candidates, we can just hire someone who is unqualified for the job.”

NOR DOES THIS…

The Disconnect Between Changing Test Scores and Changing Later Life Outcomes Strikes Again

A child is more than a test score.

from Jay Greene

If we think we can know which schools of choice are good and ought to be expanded and which are bad and ought to be closed based primarily on annual test score gains, we are sadly mistaken.

WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING

Report Demonstrates that Greater Investment, Well Distributed, Raises School Achievement

Mind the Gap: 20 Years of Progress and Retrenchment in School Funding, Staffing Resources, and Achievement Gaps

Instead of diverting funds away from public education we ought to be investing in our local public schools.

from Jan Resseger

“(A)cross states, over the past decade and a half in particular, states with lower pupil-to-teacher ratios and fairer distribution of staffing tend to have both higher outcomes among children from low-income families and smaller (economic) achievement gaps…. We also have evidence that states in which teacher wages are more competitive have smaller achievement gaps and higher scores for children from lower income families.”

Her conclusion…

…you get what you pay for, and if you want to close achievement gaps between poor children and their privileged peers, you should spend what you need to to ensure that the children living in the poorest communities get the added attention they need from highly qualified teachers.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Across the Nation, Education is Getting Short Shrift

Tax dollars earmarked for public education are being diverted to privatization schemes such as vouchers and charters. Americans, through their legislators, bought and paid for by corporate donors, are neglecting their future.

From Jeff Bryant at The Progressive

You can place blame for the country’s education funding crisis squarely at the feet of state lawmakers and policy leaders who simply refuse to fund schools.

STUDENT DREAMS

Second graders imagine their dream school. It isn’t what you might think.

What would you have wished for when you were in second grade?

Second graders at a Boston elementary school said they wish for a school with

  • “…pencils, markers, and glue sticks…”
  • “…a shiny and new school…”
  • “…a room with soft things and people to talk to…”
  • “…a better playground…”
  • “…a class pet and field trips to far-away places…”
  • “…a whole library…”

What kind of school do your kids deserve?

from Lily Holland via Valerie Strauss

I think I’ve changed my mind. When I introduced this activity, I originally said I dreamed of a school with an outdoor garden that my students and I could use to grow healthy food. Now I think I dream of a school where 7-year-olds don’t have to just dream about the schools they deserve.

WHY TEACHERS LEAVE

Teaching, GOP lose frustrated Hoosier

Professional, career teachers are leaving education. The loss will be felt in years to come when our leaders only come from the elites who could afford quality education and our voting population consists of adults whose education was damaged by greed and shortsightedness.

From Brenda Yoder in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette

Establishment Republicans don’t seem to care about these students or others who need caring teachers more than they need six weeks of ISTEP+. They don’t care about the rural communities where schools are fighting just to stay alive. They don’t care about excellent teachers who do their best for the students they love.

They care about the money they can get from ALEC, Pearson and from being elected by the “voucher” bandwagon. Seriously, vouchers aren’t the issue anymore. Integrity, real needs, and change are.

CHOICE HAS BRED CHAOS

We Can Recover From The School Choice Movement

The “choice” in education has always been available for those who were wealthy. “Choice” now means that privatized schools can choose their students. Parents who are confused and without a well-staffed, well funded neighborhood school to rely on, are left to struggle with the system.

from Ed Berger, Ed.D

“Choice” is a marketplace idea wrongly applied to education. The assumption that most parents have the information they need to make intelligent decisions about the education their children need, and the education children need to be effective citizens, has been proven wrong. School choice has failed to improve our schools. In fact, choice has created a chaos of confusion for parents who have risked (gambled) on moving their children out of comprehensive education programs to place them in partial education programs. The costs of these misguided experiments is evident in high dropout rates, incomplete educations, and damaged children.

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Posted in Article Medleys, Equity, Evaluations, Test Cheating, Testing

2013 Medley #2

Equity in Public Education, Testing,
Evaluations, Data, Those Who Can…Teach.

EQUITABLE PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR EVERYONE

Katie Osgood: Choice or Equity — You Can’t Have Both

Katie Osgood asks the questions and gives the answers which must be given for education to become equitable in the US. The “reformers” aren’t interested in equitable education. They want the private sector to take it over…for money…on principle…for whatever reason. We can’t allow them to succeed in privatizing public education.

[reformated from original to highlight questions and answers]

  • [I]s it possible to fight for a system that leaves no children behind, which promotes equity and equal opportunity for ALL?
  • Can we commit to spending the MOST resources on the neediest children to address safety and learning issues?
  • Can we commit to addressing the underlying poverty which creates so many of the behavior, learning, and safety issues in schools?
  • Can we commit to ensuring that no matter where you live, you will have a well-kept, EQUITABLY-resourced (more resources for needier schools), properly staffed school, complete with access to libraries and librarians, up-to-date technology, social workers, counselors, and foreign language, arts, and music?

…This vision of schooling is what the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike to create. It is indeed possible to achieve this seemingly utopian model of education. The CTU has discovered numerous ways to create the schools all children deserve.

  • We can increase funding.
  • We can fight to ensure the funding we currently have is directed towards the neediest children, NOT wasted on testing, data systems, complicated, flawed, and unnecessary new evaluation systems, and the agendas of the politically connected.
  • We can fight poverty.
  • We can call attention to the very real effects of poverty on our students’ lives.

But it will not happen without a struggle.

TESTING

Systemic issues prevent teaching success, not individual teachers

Teachers are singled out as being responsible for school “failure.” Pundits, politicians and policy makers need to accept responsibility for the conditions which lead to student failure.

The publicity given to the latest Gates Foundation report on teacher evaluation [“Gates: Test scores not enough for teacher reviews,” seattletimes.com, Jan. 9] adds strength to the common view that there is something very wrong with American teachers. There is, for example, no pressing concern about how we should evaluate nurses, carpenters, doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, plumbers, butchers, newspaper reporters, etc.

Every profession has some inferior practitioners, but the available evidence says that American teachers as a group are excellent. When we control for the effects of poverty, our international test scores are very good, ranking at or near the top of world.

The Great Stuff In Public Schools That Tests Can’t Measure

Honesty, pride in accomplishment, desire to improve — “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” This is a must read…

Do you reformy types still want to try to convince me that our public education system is a failure? A system that produces outstanding, upright, decent young people like this?

Do you really think any stupid bubble test put out by some corporate education provider can capture the true learning that happened that day in New Jersey? That some stupid question about pineapples and rabbits is more important than the character these beautiful young people and their teachers showed this day?

I’ll say it until the day I die: I am proud to be an American public school teacher. I am proud of the great kids of this country. I am proud to be a part of a system that produces such fine young men and women.

You people who constantly bemoan and mock the “achievement” of our children need to step aside in shame. These kids – and their teachers – are far better people than you will ever be.

[emphasis in original]

Time for Michelle Rhee to probe test tampering

Michelle Rhee needs to be held accountable for the cheating which went on in the DC Public Schools under her so-called leadership.

Last week, she released a statement concluding there was “no evidence of widespread cheating” on D.C. tests from 2008 to 2010. Her proof? A series of superficial investigations, the parameters controlled by D.C. school brass, that never called on the expertise of psychometricians, never dug into the data, and lacked any reasonable explanations of how such erasures could have been made by anyone but adults.

A Standardized Testing Revolt

Over the past year, there’s been a steady and ongoing revolt in Texas. Not about secession or guns or the many other fringe topics that the state is usually associated with. This battle has been waged primarily by parents and teachers, and the demand is relatively simple—cut back on testing our kids. There’s been similar sentiments simmering in states across the country, but in Texas a new set of tests, put in place last year, sparked the outcry. Now, the push that began in school board and PTA meetings has finally reached the halls of power…

…Texas’ shift on testing could well have national repercussions. After all, it did more than any other state to bring the country into an era of Number 2 pencils and filling in bubbles. It might also be the state that leads us out.

Seattle Public Schools: Support Garfield High School teachers refusing to administer the MAP!

Teachers in one Seattle high school have said enough is enough. High stakes tests do not improve achievement.

• Seattle Public School staff has notified us that the test is not a valid test at the high school level. For these students, the margin of error is greater than the expected gain. We object to spending time, money, and staffing on an assessment even SPS agrees is not valid…

• We are not allowed to see the contents of the test, but an analysis of the alignment between the Common Core and MAP shows little overlap. We object to our students being tested on content we are not expected to teach…

• Even the NWEA itself, the parent company to MAP, has advised districts to carefully restrict the use of the test and its results. NWEA also cautions to ensure 100% random selection of students enrolled in any course if the test is used for evaluation and to take into consideration statistical error in designing evaluation policies. NWEA says that problems become “particularly profound at the high school level.” None of these or other criteria urged by NWEA has been met. We object to being evaluated by a test whose author suggests extreme caution in its use and warns against valid legal action if the test is used in personnel decisions…

Related: The Impact of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Program on Student Reading Achievement

The results of the study indicate that the MAP program was implemented with moderate fidelity but that MAP teachers were not more likely than control group teachers to have applied differentiated instructional practices in their classes. Overall, the MAP program did not have a statistically significant impact on students’ reading achievement in either grade 4 or grade 5.

EVALUATIONS

Kasich Pulls a Fast One

Governor John Kasich of Ohio is in the same class as Wisconsin’s, Florida’s, Michigan’s, and other governor’s throughout the country. Their goal is to privatize the public sector. Kasich and Ohio has joined the growing list of states using invalid and unreliable methods to evaluate teachers.

HB 555 radically changes the method of calculating evaluations for about 1/3 of Ohio’s teachers. If a teacher’s schedule is comprised only of courses or subjects for which the value-added progress dimension is applicable – then only their value-add score can now be used as part of the 50% of an evaluation based on student growth. Gone is the ability to use multiple measures of student growth…the rules of the game [have] changed at the 11th hour…the growing list of research that demonstrates the very real and serious problems with heavy reliance on value-add, and the need to offset these problems by using multiple measures of student growth.

AIR: VAM Not Ready for Prime Time

John Kasich et al, should read this report from the American Institutes for Research. You’ll find the entire report HERE.

“We cannot at this time encourage anyone to use VAM in a high stakes endeavor. If one has to use VAM, then we suggest a two-step process to initially use statistical models to identify outliers (e.g., low-performing teachers) and then to verify these results with additional data. Using independent information that can confirm or disconfirm is helpful in many contexts. The value of this use of evaluative change results could be explored in further research efforts….”

DATA OBSESSION

Datapalooza at the U. S. Department of Education

Check out the list of speakers at the “Datapalooza” —  not one practicing teacher among them. Duncan’s blog said, “…imagine an easy-to-read virtual dashboard for parents to track the academic performance of their children.” Academic performance is, of course, standardized test scores.

It turns out this U. S. Department of Education was following in the footsteps of a White House-sponsored Health Datapalooza and Energy Datapalooza. I’m waiting for the White House extravagant party where a plethora of concerned citizens talk about the dangers of the overweening government worship of data.

THOSE WHO CAN…TEACH

Our Nation’s Goofy Education Debate

Teachers know more about teaching than pundits, politicians and policy makers. Yet the laws and rules of public education are being made in board rooms and business offices.

You mean we shouldn’t just accept everything that comes from the Gates Foundation?

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Stop the Testing Insanity!
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