Category Archives: Florida

2019 Medley #8

Grade Level, Student Achievement,
Society’s Mirror, Teacher Shortages,
Charter Accountability,
Disenfranchising the Voters

CHILDREN DON’T EAT ON GRADE LEVEL

When Betsy DeVos “Likes” Your “Research”…

This post isn’t about reading, but Mitchell Robinson brings up important information we should remember.

Last month, third graders in Indiana took the IREAD-3, a reading achievement test. Those who fail to achieve the arbitrarily designated cut score must take the test again during the summer. Those who fail it again must repeat third grade.

The concept of grade level should be flexible, not based on an arbitrary cut score. It should reflect the average reading level of a child in a particular grade instead of a goal for every child to achieve on a given test day. We should teach children at their zone of proximal development — the level just beyond the child’s independent level, not at the level the test insists upon.

Would we like all children to be above average? Of course, but we can’t ignore the math which renders that impossible. Additionally, we can’t ignore the detrimental impact of poverty on school achievement. Our job, as teachers, is to analyze a child’s achievement and make our plans based on what will help him progress as quickly as possible. That means starting where the child is…not at some vague “grade-level” determined by an outside source.

By setting a cut score on a test, and using the test to determine grade placement, the state is ignoring this basic concept of academic achievement and development, usurping the professional judgment of the classroom teacher, and ignoring the best interests of children in a misguided quest to get a number with which to label teachers, schools and school districts.

I agree with Robinson when he says that we can set “goals as teachers for when we introduce various literacy concepts to our students.” We do that by understanding the reading process and observing our students. [emphasis in original]

Children don’t “read on grade level” anymore than they “eat on grade level” or “care about their friends on grade level.” Anyone who has actually helped a child learn how to read, or play a music instrument, or ride a bike, knows that kids will accomplish these goals “when they are ready.” Not by “grade level.”

So, kids will read when they have a need to read, and when what they are reading is relevant to their lives. Not when they are supposed to read as measured by their grade level. Can we set our own goals as teachers for when we introduce various literacy concepts to our students? Sure. And teachers do that, every day in every public school in the nation.

But the only thing that measuring reading by “grade level” does is make a lot of kids–and teachers–feel dumb when they are not, and turn reading into drudgery instead of the life-long pursuit of joy, knowledge, and enjoyment it’s meant to be.

FOOD IMPACTS ACHIEVEMENT

Food for thought: Students’ test scores rise a few weeks after families get food stamps

What’s this? Students learn better when they are well fed? Go figure!

…scores were highest around three weeks after families received benefits, and lowest at the beginning and end of that cycle. The differences were modest, but statistically significant.

It’s not fully clear why scores spike around that three-week mark, but the researchers suggest that the academic benefits of better access to food, like improved nutrition and reduced stress, take some time to accrue.

“Students with peak test performance (who received SNAP around two weeks prior to their test date) may have benefited from access to sufficient food resources and lowered stress not only on the day of the test but for the previous two weeks,” Gassman-Pines and Bellows write.

Source: Food Instability and Academic Achievement: A Quasi-Experiment Using SNAP Benefit Timing

SCHOOLS ARE THE MIRROR OF THE NATION

‘As society goes, school goes:’ New report details toll on schools in President Trump’s America

Children learn what they live. Guess what happens when they live in a society filled with hatred and bigotry…in a society where truth has no meaning…in a society where disagreements are solved by shooting those who you disagree with…

John Rogers and his colleagues (Michael Ishimoto, Alexander Kwako, Anthony Berryman, and Claudia Diera) at UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 500 public high school principals from across the country and found this:

* 89 percent reported that “incivility and contentiousness in the broader political environment has considerably affected their school community.”

* 83 percent of principals note these tensions are fueled by “untrustworthy or disputed information,” and over 90 percent report students sharing “hateful posts on social media.”

* Almost all principals rate the threat of gun violence as a major concern, and one in three principals report that their school received in the previous year threats of mass shooting or bombing or both.

There’s more: In schools with a sizable immigrant population, principals report the significant negative effects that federal immigration policy and its associated anti-immigrant rhetoric have on student performance and family stability.

And schools that are in the areas of the country hardest hit by the opioid crisis are directly affected by addiction, overdose, and family devastation.

Source: School and Society in the Age of Trump

TOMORROW’S TEACHERS

The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought

The right-wing war on the teaching profession is succeeding. Fewer young people are going into education. The number of uncertified teachers is increasing. Class sizes will increase.

As might be expected, this has the greatest impact on high-poverty schools.

What can we do? Who will be tomorrow’s teachers? Will there still be a well staffed, local public school for our children and grandchildren?

Schools struggle to find and retain highly qualified individuals to teach, and this struggle is tougher in high-poverty schools…

Low teacher pay is reducing the attractiveness of teaching jobs, and is an even bigger problem in high-poverty schools…

The tough school environment is demoralizing to teachers, especially so in high-poverty schools…

Teachers—especially in high-poverty schools—aren’t getting the training, early career support, and professional development opportunities they need to succeed and this too is keeping them, or driving them, out of the profession…

THERE MUST BE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR CHARTERS, TOO

Weekly privatization report: Charter special ed failure in Louisiana

In the Public Interest‘s weekly privatization report for April 8, 2019, is all about charter schools. Fully ten of the fifteen education articles have to do with charters failing to do the job that taxpayers were giving them money to do. Charters should not be allowed to open in areas where an additional school isn’t needed. Charters must be fiscally and academically accountable, just like real public schools.

Louisiana officials are recommending to close a charter school amid allegations of financial mismanagement and a failure to provide proper special education services to the roughly 40 percent of enrolled students with disabilities.

DISENFRANCHISEMENT FOLLIES

Editorial: Republican legislators insult voters who support public schools

What does it say about a political party which wins elections by preventing citizens from voting…by arranging districts so that politicians choose their voters, not the other way around…and by going against the will of the voters to divert money from public institutions to privatization?

Republicans in Indiana tried this during the 2019 legislative session and didn’t get away with it. I don’t doubt that they will try again.

Pinellas County voters reapproved a special property tax in 2016 to improve teacher salaries and arts programs, not to subsidize charter schools. Miami-Dade voters approved a property tax increase last year to raise teacher salaries and hire more school resource officers, not to subsidize charter schools. Yet now Republicans in the Florida Legislature want to change the rules and force local school districts to share money from local tax increases with privately operated charter schools. Their efforts to undermine traditional public schools and ignore the intent of the voters know no boundaries.

💰📖🚌

Comments Off on 2019 Medley #8

Filed under Achievement, Article Medleys, Charters, DeVos, Florida, IREAD-3, Legislatures, Privatization, Public Ed, reading, TeacherShortage, Testing

Doing the Same Thing and Expecting Different Results

FLORIDA’S THIRD GRADE READING LAW IS JUST LIKE THE OTHERS

Florida has a third-grade retention law, just like Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, fifteen other states and the District of Columbia. Learning to read by third grade is so important, according to The National Council of State Legislators, that some states find it necessary to retain children who can’t read.

Learning to read by third grade is important because

Research has demonstrated that students not reading proficiently at the end of third grade are four times more likely to not finish high school. Further, the levels of reading proficiency for third graders are linked to specific long-term outcomes: 23 percent of below-basic readers fail to finish high school, compared to 9 percent of basic-scoring readers and 4 percent of proficient readers.

…not to mention the fact that…

Researchers have pointed out that unintended consequences of retention can include increased costs for school districts (national average of $10,700 per retained student).

So it’s an economic issue, too. [I would agree with that, although the problem is the economic status of the children.] And it’s almost as an afterthought that NCSL mentions that retention-in-grade can have detrimental academic results, as well.

Additionally, retention can negatively impact students’ long-term achievement (i.e. high school graduation rates).

The source for the statement that retention can have a negative impact on graduation rates is titled, New research suggests repeating elementary school grades — even kindergarten — is harmful. The authors of this 2014 article claim that the research on retention-in-grade is “muddied” and the research they report on makes it even “muddier.”

Is that true? Is the research “muddied?”

Not much.

RETENTION HAS QUESTIONABLE VALUE

Research going back decades is consistent that the long term impact of retention-in-grade is negative.

The National Council of State Legislatures has a concern about third graders going on to fourth grade without sufficient reading skills and they are ok with the assumption that retention-in-grade will help kids “catch up.” That assumption isn’t supported by research.

Third-grade Reading Legislation

To encourage local schools and districts to take this milestone seriously, several states have enacted legislation that requires students not reading proficiently by the end of third grade to be retained.

Note that third-grade retention states punish 8 and 9-year-olds as an incentive to get them to read better. Furthermore, the implication is that punishing children will “encourage” schools and districts to take the third-grade reading challenge seriously.

Why?

  • …because schools and districts don’t really worry when third graders can’t read unless they’re given some incentive?
  • Are teachers and schools somehow “holding back” their best effort to teach children to read until the state steps in and “encourages” them to teach better by threatening to punish their students with retention?
  • Are the children not learning to read because they aren’t given the incentive of “not flunking?” Will the threat of retention spur the students to learn more?

The answers to those questions and assumptions are the same. NO!

Teachers are doing their best to help children. Retention does not motivate children. Reading is a complicated process that can’t be improved by “incentives” or threats.

Do you want children to read better? Institute early interventions for children who are having difficulties in kindergarten and first grade. Establish high-quality pre-schools for all children. Pay for these improvements by eliminating the third-grade standardized reading tests used for placement decision. Retention-in-grade is a waste of time, money, and causes real emotional damage.

FLORIDA’S THIRD-GRADE PUNISHMENT LAW DOESN’T WORK EITHER

The Florida third-grade punishment law has yielded another study showing that holding kids back in third grade is not only not helpful, but downright damaging.

The Effects of Mandated 3rd Grade Retention: An Analysis of Florida’s A+ Plan

  • 93% of the retained group in the study remained below a level 3 on the Grade 10 Reading FCAT. In addition, 67% remained at a level one on the Grade 10 Reading FCAT. 
  • 41% of the retained students did not graduate with a standard high school diploma.

  • The non-retained group were 14.7% more likely to graduate with a standard diploma than the retained group.

  • Between 2003-2013, it cost Florida tax payers approximately $587 million FTE funding for the retained students.
  • Approximately 6% of white students were retained while 20% of nonwhite students were retained. Of the students retained in 2003-2004, 69.8% were on free or reduced price lunch.
  • There was a statistically significant difference between retained students and nonretained students regarding Grade 10 Reading FCAT mean scale scores (.000). There was also a statistically significant difference between ethnicity and Grade 10 Reading FCAT scores (.003).

(See the full report HERE.)

JUST STOP IT

Can we just stop flunking kids, and use the money we save from repeating a grade and foolish third-grade retention tests to give them the support they need in the years leading up to third grade?

For more of my rants against retention-in-grade, including lots of references, click HERE.

👧🏾🎓👦🏻

Comments Off on Doing the Same Thing and Expecting Different Results

Filed under Florida, reading, retention, Testing

The Lord Hates a Lying Tongue

A response to those who claim school shootings are because we’ve “removed God from school.”

A few hours after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida I saw the following in my Facebook feed…

WE INTERRUPT THIS POST TO ADD…

This…

I was finished writing this and was just about to post it when I was distracted by an article from the Washington Post about the Florida House of Representatives.

The day after they rejected an assault weapons ban and passed a resolution against pornography, the Florida House of Representatives voted to require all public schools to display the state motto: In God We Trust.

Rep. Kim Daniels (R), who runs a ministry, said it would help provide needed “light” in the state’s schools, according to the Tampa Bay Times. It quoted her as saying: “He is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is not black or white. He is the light, and our schools need light in them like never before.”

While telling other House members why she thought it was important to pass the legislation, she said: “We cannot put God in a closet when the issues we face are bigger than us.”

Presumably, the members of the Florida House believe having “God” displayed in the school would have stopped Nikolas Cruz from killing 17 people. The vote on the bill was 97-10. House members applauded after it was passed.

Question: How many of those 97 House members received campaign contributions from the NRA?

HAS GOD BEEN BANNED FROM SCHOOLS?

The meme above claims that God is not allowed in school. It implies that since the Supreme Court banned school (government) sponsored prayer in public schools, God has somehow been removed.

First of all, I think most conservative Christians – for example, someone who might have posted such a meme – believe their God is everywhere. If that’s the case, then no act by mere humans can remove God. Do they believe that the U.S. Supreme Court has the power to eliminate their God from a particular location? I doubt it.

Do they believe that God ignores children and ceases to watch over them the moment they enter a public school? The children, after all, aren’t the ones who made the decision stopping government sponsored prayer. Why should they be punished?

What about school shootings at parochial schools? The Supreme Court decision didn’t force private religious schools to stop praying with their students. Was God not allowed in the Christian university near Oakland in 2012 where seven people were killed? What about the shooting at the Apostolic Revival Center and Christian School in Fort Myers, Florida, or the Agape Christian Academy in Pine Hills, Florida? Were those schools stripped of their God by the SCOTUS? Was there no prayer allowed in any of those schools? Were the children and young adults who attended those schools somehow unworthy of their God’s protection?

Churches, too. The nine people who died at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston S.C. and the twenty-six people who died at the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas were surely under God’s protection. How did that happen?

Apparently “allowing” God and prayer in a building won’t stop bullets.

PRAYER IS ALLOWED!

That meme is false. Prayer IS allowed in public schools as long as it doesn’t disrupt the educational process.

Students can pray before or after school, before they eat, before they take a test, at recess, or during a time when they are working on their own as long as they don’t interrupt the learning process or harass other students with aggressive proselytization.

Students can express their religious beliefs in their school work, as long as their work fulfills the requirements of the assignment. In other words, if I assign a science experiment dealing with the nature of sound, I would not expect to see information about my students’ religious beliefs. On the other hand, if I ask the students to write about something important to them, their religious beliefs might be an appropriate topic.

Schools are governmental institutions. Teachers and administrators, as agents of a governmental institution, may not lead students in prayer.

Simply put, individual, non-disruptive prayer is allowed in public schools. Government sponsored prayer is not.

Read that again.

Individual, non-disruptive prayer is allowed in public schools. Government sponsored prayer is not.

As I wrote last month in Public School Prayer and the Constitution – Conflict in Louisiana

…every child, in every public school in America, already has the right to pray whenever they want to as long as they don’t disrupt the learning process and as long as they don’t harass their fellow students.

According to the Joint Statement of Current Law and Religion in the Public Schools, a document signed by 35 religious and civic groups,

Students have the right to pray individually or in groups or to discuss their religious views with their peers so long as they are not disruptive…

[Note: The Joint Statement clearly explains what sorts of things are and are not allowed. Teachers who are interested in exploring the subject further should also read A Teacher’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools.]

And according to A Parent’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools from the First Amendment Center,

Didn’t the Supreme Court rule against student prayer in public schools?

No. The Supreme Court has struck down state sponsored or state-organized prayer in public schools. The Court has interpreted the First Amendment to mean that government must be neutral among religions and between religion and nonreligion. This means that school officials may not organize, mandate, or participate in student religious activities, including prayer…

It seems, then, that God has not been banned from public schools. Students’ private, non-disruptive prayers have not been banned from public schools. The meme at the top of this post is misleading at best, and, at worst, a lie. The repeated deaths of school children is not about prayer (or lack thereof), but about the fact that, in the U.S. we simply don’t care about our nation’s children.

A LIE

I’ve read that not telling the truth, or “bearing false witness” is something to be avoided. People who perpetuate the lie that God and prayer are somehow “not allowed” in public schools should research that topic, I think.

They might start with Proverbs 6:16-19.

~~~

UPDATE: See also James Kirylo: God Never Left Our Public Schools

🕍⛪️🕌

Comments Off on The Lord Hates a Lying Tongue

Filed under Florida, Religion, School Prayer, SchoolShootings

2017 Medley #32: The Teacher Shortage

The Teacher Shortage: Poverty,
Special Education, Evaluations,
Untrained teachers, and Accountability

THE TEACHER SHORTAGE

The poverty problem

Why it’s a big problem that so many teachers quit — and what to do about it

As with most other results of the corporate “reform” movement in education, the most damage is done to students, teachers, and schools in areas that can least afford it: low-income areas and special education.

Linda Darling-Hammond and researchers from the Learning Policy Institute report on research detailing the effects of the current teacher shortage, and how it damages the education of low-income students in particular. The shortage is advanced by anti-teacher and anti-public education legislation and a bipartisan, public campaign against teachers that is ubiquitous. There no longer needs to be any discussion about which state is “the worst” for public education – Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan – it’s everywhere.

Our research on teacher shortages and the turnover that contributes to them emphasizes how much these conditions vary across teaching fields, types of schools, and locations. We document how they are much more problematic in some regions, states, and districts than others; more widespread in particular subjects; and most pronounced in schools that serve students of color and those from low-income families.

Research shows that high teacher turnover rates in schools negatively impact student achievement for all the students in a school, not just those in a new teacher’s classroom. These rates are highest in schools serving low-income students and students of color. [emphasis added]

Caring for ‘the least of these’

Funding cuts spell trouble for special education in Indiana

Indiana’s particular brand of “reform” has resulted in an education funding shortfall. Budget cuts would, of course, hurt the students most, who need the most help. The shortage of special education teachers, who are the strongest advocates for their students, makes this especially troubling.

Advocating for students in special ed will become more and more difficult. We can expect to have to fight for these services for special education children who need them, even though the IDOE memo states: “Please remember that funding is not a topic for case conference committee discussion. No decisions about services should be based on whether DOE is able to help schools with funding.”

Evaluations

There will never be enough bad teachers to satisfy some people (The Chicago Tribune).

Illinois “reformers” wonder how there can be so many highly-rated teachers when there are so many “failing” schools?

The editorial board of the Chicago Tribune is still unhappy with the way teachers in Illinois are evaluated because the current system still has too many teachers rated in the top two tiers of the ranking categories.

We had the same problem here in Indiana a few years ago.

Study finds 87 percent of Indiana teachers “effective”

Given that one in four Hoosier children are not passing the state ISTEP assessment, how is it that 97 percent of those teachers who were rated have been classified in the top two categories of effectiveness? Today’s data simply does not correlate with the student results we’re seeing in the classroom.

The data does, indeed, correlate, because student test scores are not a valid measure of teacher effectiveness. The “failing schools” narrative is more complicated than “reformers” will admit. Schools can’t be judged by test scores alone and the quality of teachers isn’t the only variable that has an impact on student achievement.

“Reformers,” however, are interested in damaging the teaching profession in order to lower salaries and increase profits. Blaming teachers is good for the privatization business.

Once the profession is damaged, and fewer young people seek a career in education, the lowering of standards (and consequent increase in profits) can continue. Florida, for example…

Damaging the profession

Florida’s Teacher Gap Is No Mystery

Florida is “solving” the problem by opening up alternative paths, because the way to get better teachers and fill teaching jobs is by making it possible to slap any warm body into a classroom. My favorite bar-lowering idea― Florida Atlantic University will give Palm Beach Schools a list of students who flunked out of medical and science programs so that those students can be recruited to teach. And meanwhile the remaining dedicated, qualified teachers of Florida wonder how much longer they can hold on.

…and Michigan…

We don’t need no education

The Michigan legislators and governor are a match for Indiana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and the rest of the nation by showing how easy it is to cause a teacher shortage.

Snyder seems to show few actual emotions of any kind. But his fellow Republicans in the legislature are vindictive and nasty. They seem to hate teachers, even more than they hate most in the public sector, and especially hate teachers’ unions.

Five years ago, they passed a law preventing local districts from paying more than a certain percentage of health care coverage for their teachers.

Republican lawmakers also rammed through right-to-work in a lame duck session at the end of 2012, gloating as they did it that this was bound to weaken the MEA and other unions who traditionally give money to try and defeat them.

If that weren’t enough, they also promptly passed a law that would make it so public school districts are no longer required to deduct union dues from teachers’ paychecks, as had been common practice for decades.

Nor were they done humiliating educators:

New teachers traditionally started at a low salary, then advanced year by year on a negotiated schedule till they reached something like a middle-class life style. But the benevolent legislators also pulled the rug out from under teachers in that way too, passing another law in 2012 that allowed school districts to not move teachers up on the salary schedule.

“As a result, we have teachers across the state in many districts who haven’t seen a raise in five years,” the MEA’s Crim says. Couple that with inflation and the rising cost of benefits, and it’s no wonder that a lot of students have had second thoughts about going into the profession.

How do you think the state of Michigan will deal with the lack of teacher? Again, like Indiana and Wisconsin…

Others have suggested we just drop the requirement for a teaching certificate and let retired professionals take a crack at the classroom.

That might make some sense at the university level, though being able to do a job doesn’t automatically mean you can teach others the subject matter. But it doesn’t work at high school and especially for elementary school.

Who will accept responsibility?

Label the Lawmakers

Accountability measures for public school achievement are universally aimed at teachers, students, and school systems. Sometimes parents are part of the mix, but rarely are one of the most important stakeholders in public school achievement included in accountability legislation and provisions.

Those unaccountable stakeholders? They are the legislators and policy makers who control the funding for education and the out of school conditions in which children live.

John Kuhn, superintendent of Mineral Wells ISD in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, wrote this letter several years ago. Nothing has changed. 100% of the blame for low achievement is still being heaped on teachers and schools. Legislators and policy makers are still doing their best to damage the teaching profession and avoid their own responsibility.

It’s time to revive this post…

The age of accountability should be renamed the age of blame, when teachers wear the scarlet letter for the failings of a nation. We send teachers into pockets of poverty that our leaders can’t or won’t eradicate, and when those teachers fail to work miracles among devastated children, we stamp ‘unacceptable’ on their foreheads.

I ask you, where is the label for the lawmaker whose policies fail to clean up the poorest neighborhoods? Why do we not demand that our leaders make “Adequate Yearly Progress”? We have data about poverty, health care, crime, and drug abuse in every legislative district. We know that those factors directly impact our ability to teach kids. Why have we not established annual targets for our legislators to meet? Why do they not join us beneath these vinyl banners that read “exemplary” in the suburbs and “unacceptable” in the slums?

Let us label lawmakers like we label teachers, and we can eliminate 100 percent of poverty, crime, drug abuse, and preventable illness by 2014! It is easy for elected officials to tell teachers to “Race to the top” when no one has a stopwatch on them! Lace up your sneakers, Senators! Come race with us!

🚌✏️📓

Comments Off on 2017 Medley #32: The Teacher Shortage

Filed under Accountability, Article Medleys, Evaluations, Florida, John Kuhn, Michigan, poverty, reform, special education, TeacherShortage

Listen to This #8

MEN IN EARLY CHILDHOOD

Calling Nurturing Men to the Teaching Profession

Most of my 35 years as a teacher was spent with students in grades K through 3. The quote below from Nancy Bailey suggests that it was difficult because of the strong-willed women I worked with. I can think of only one or two cases where I was made to feel unwelcome at the primary level from my colleagues.

It was much more difficult to deal with parents who were skeptical that a man could give their child the nurturing education necessary in the primary grades. Even worse, were those (few times) when parents actually requested another teacher because they didn’t want their daughters in my class. I understand the fear that makes a parent do that. The news stories of teachers who betray the trust parents have put in them and abuse children are frequent enough that there are some parents who would be scared to take a chance. I understood the parent request…but it saddened me.

From Nancy Bailey

Men who teach early childhood education have a lot of moxie. It can’t be easy to walk into an elementary school of strong-willed women who know the craft of teaching.

Some of my third grade students during recess on the last day of school, 1976-1977.

PRIVATIZATION: VOUCHERS

Why Churches Should Hate School Vouchers

Normally, I like to keep quotes short…one or two sentences, or a paragraph at the most. With this quote from Peter Greene, however, I felt like I needed to include two paragraphs.

Vouchers entangle Church and State, despite the ruling of the Indiana Supreme Court, and as such, are a danger to both the public schools and the church schools accepting vouchers.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State listed ten reasons for rejecting vouchers. At the top of the list…Vouchers Undermine Religious Liberty. They wrote,

…vouchers force Americans to pay taxes to support religion. This runs counter to the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty. In America, all religious activities should be supported with voluntary contributions.

James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and other Founders strongly supported the separation of church and state and opposed taxation to support religion. As Ben Franklin succinctly put it: “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, ‘tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

From Peter Greene (Curmudgucation)

Somebody is going to try to cash in on voucher money or make a point or indulge in performance art, and taxpayers will be horrified to learn that their tax dollars are going to support a school that promotes satanism or pushes sharia law or teaches that all white folks are evil (I am confining myself to outrageous things that will outrage people– the list of outrageous things that people will happily put up with is a longer list).

So in the storm of outrage, taxpayers will demand that government make sure not to send voucher dollars to That School That Teaches Those Awful Things. Politicians will ride that wave, and before you know it, we will have a government agency whose mandate is to decide which churches are “legitimate” and voila– the Government Bureau of Church Regulation.

Op-ed: Myth busting Indiana’s voucher system

From Rocky Killion (See Rise Above the Mark)

Instead of throwing more money at this unproven two-system approach, Indiana legislators should use Indiana’s resources on proven strategies that will improve public education, including early childhood education, reducing class size, investing in professional development for educators, and assisting students who live in poverty. These are the strategies the best education systems in the world have implemented to become the best.

PRIVATIZATION: CHARTERS: FLORIDA

FL: Death To Public Education

Indiana, North Carolina, Arizona, Ohio…all the states in which wealthy privateers are doing damage to public education…don’t reach the heights of damage done to the public schools and public school children of Florida, according to Peter Greene at Curmudgucation. And Florida is, frankly, a terrible place to be a public school student right now. In this post, Greene lists many of the things that Florida has done to support privatization while neglecting or punishing public schools. The third paragraph in the article contains a list of actions so despicable that only the most ardent “reformer” would fail to see the damage done to children.

The most recent legislation diverts millions of dollars from public schools to charter schools.

From Florida State Senator Linda Stewart quoted by Peter Greene (Curmudgucation)

The legislation you signed today gives to the charter school industry a free hand and promises them a bountiful reward. It allows corporations with no track record of success, no obligation to struggling students, and no mandated standards of accountability to flourish, with the sole obligation to their shareholders. Not the public. Not to well-intentioned parents desperate to see their children succeed – but to a group of investors who have made a business decision to add these companies to their portfolios because they are interested in making money.

HYPOCRISY

More Truth in Teacher-Written Education Blogs Than Corporate Media

The entire “reform” movement – the obsession with standardized tests, the growth of charters and vouchers – has grown up and taken over as the status quo of American education with virtually no input from professional educators.

  • Have teachers been left out because teaching is a traditionally female dominated profession so the good-old-boys in state legislatures and board rooms across the country disrespect teachers as easily as they disrespect women in general?
  • Have teachers been ignored because “reformers” assume that going to school is enough “experience” to dictate how education ought to be?
  • Have teachers been silenced because millionaires and billionaires must be smart or they wouldn’t be rich, so we must listen to their “new” ideas for education?
  • Teachers comprise the last and largest labor unions left in the U.S. Are teachers shunned because destroying America’s unions in order to raise up the oligarchy won’t be complete until the NEA and AFT are relegated to the ineffectual level of other unions?

The hypocritical conflicts of interest within the political system are rampant, in which legislators and policy makers with economic and political ties to textbook and testing companies, charter management companies, and parochial schools, make policy for public education. Yet teachers aren’t consulted about public education policy because they might be “biased.”

From Steven Singer (Gadflyonthewall)

For some people, my position as an educator discredits my knowledge of schools. Yet getting paid by huge testing corporations doesn’t discredit journalists!?

POVERTY

School Choice Opponents and the Status Quo

  • The status quo in American education is testing and punishing children, teachers, and schools. 
  • The status quo in American education is diverting public tax dollars from public schools to religious, private, and privately owned schools.
  • The status quo in American education is requiring “accountability” from public schools, while charters and voucher schools need not be transparent.
  • The status quo in American education is closing public schools and replacing them with charters instead of fixing them.
  • The status quo in American education is blaming teachers for student low achievement without society accepting a share of the responsibility for communities struggling with gun violence, drug and alcohol abuse, toxic environments, lack of health care facilities, and other effects of poverty.

From Russ Walsh

Those of us who continue to point out that poverty is the real issue in education are accused of using poverty as an excuse to do nothing. Right up front let me say I am against the status quo and I have spent a lifetime in education trying to improve teacher instruction and educational opportunities for the struggling readers and writers I have worked with. To point out the obvious, that poverty is the number one cause of educational inequity, does not make me a champion for the status quo. It simply means that I will not fall prey to the false promise of super-teachers, standardized test driven accountability, merit pay, charter schools, and vouchers, all of which are futile efforts to put a thumb in the overflowing dyke that is systematic discrimination, segregation, income inequity, and, yes, poverty.

POLITICS

About That Partisan Divide

From Sheila Kennedy

Today’s Republicans and Democrats do not share a belief in the nature of the common good. Democrats believe that government has a responsibility to ensure access to healthcare. Republicans don’t.

🎧🎧🎧

Comments Off on Listen to This #8

Filed under Curmudgucation, Early Childhood, Florida, Gadflyonthewall, ICPE-MCSCI, Killion, Politics, poverty, Quotes, RiseAbovetheMark, vouchers, Walsh

#%@! Adults Should Quit Punishing Children

Florida has me riled up again. A few days ago Peter Greene reported about the continuing mess in Florida about retention in grade of third graders who don’t pass the #%@! standardized reading test.

Before I comment on that let’s look at retention in grade…

RETENTION IN GRADE DOESN’T WORK

Position Statement On Student Grade Retention And Social Promotion

Initial achievement gains may occur during the year the student is retained. However, the consistent trend across many research studies is that achievement gains decline within 2-3 years of retention, such that retained children either do no better or perform more poorly than similar groups of promoted children. This is true whether children are compared to same-grade peers or comparable students who were promoted.

What Research Says About… / Grade Retention

Jackson (1975) reviewed 44 studies that met a minimal set of methodological criteria. Finding few with significant results or even compelling patterns, he concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support the claim that grade retention is more beneficial than grade promotion. About 10 years later, Holmes and Matthews (1984) reviewed an additional 44 studies that all included some type of comparison group of students. These researchers concluded that promoted students had higher academic achievement, better personal adjustment, and more positive attitudes toward school than retained students did.

Moving ahead another 17 years, Jimerson (2001) summarized the historical research and added a carefully culled set of studies conducted between 1990 and 1999, all of which included comparison groups of promoted students. Most of the comparisons showed no significant differences between promoted and retained students on measures of achievement or personal and social adjustment. In those studies that did show a difference, the results favored the promoted students, especially on measures of achievement.

RETENTION IN GRADE IS A BIG WASTE OF MONEY

In their 2014 book, 50 Myths and Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools, David C. Berliner and Gene V. Glass asked, “Does flunking students waste money?”

They answered,

Yes. Retention in grade is not optional in about 13 states and in many school districts. Many jurisdictions have mandated retention for children not reading at grade level, usually based on a test given at 3rd grade. States and districts with this policy, therefore, have agreed to spend an extra year’s cost of schooling on a child not performing well on standardized tests. This currently averages out to about $11,000 per child annually in our nation’s public schools. With at least 5 million children in the system who have been left back at least once, and the commitment of American schools to an average of $11,000 per child per extra year of schooling, the United States could be spending $55 billion annually on a policy that doesn’t work well for most children.

RETENTION IN GRADE CAN BE HARMFUL TO STUDENTS

Grade Retention and Promotion: Information for Parents

• In adolescence, retained students are more likely to experience problems such as poor interactions with peers, disliking school, behavior problems, and lower self-esteem.
• Students who were retained are 5–11 times more likely to drop out of school. The probability is even higher for students who are retained more than once. Actually, grade retention is one of the most powerful predictors of high school drop out.
• For most students, grade retention had a negative impact on all areas of achievement (e.g., reading, math, and oral and written language) and social and emotional adjustment (e.g., peer relationships, self-esteem, problem behaviors, and attendance).
• A study of sixth graders’ perceptions indicated that they consider retention as one of the most stressful life events.

New research suggests repeating elementary school grades — even kindergarten — is harmful

A new study ,“The Scarring Effects of Primary-Grade Retention? A Study of Cumulative Advantage in the Educational Career,” by Notre Dame sociologist Megan Andrew, published Sept. 26, 2014, in the journal Social Forces is an empirically solid analysis that adds more weight to those who say retention — what education wonks call repeating a grade — is ultimately harmful.

WHY WE RETAIN STUDENTS – A FALSE DICHOTOMY

Let’s summarize. Retention…

  1. …doesn’t work
  2. …wastes money
  3. …harms students

    So why do we continue to do it?

    Reason number one for teachers favoring retention in grade: “The student needs a year to ‘catch up.'” It may seem like it works in the year immediately following retention, but it doesn’t last.

    Reason number two for teachers: “We don’t have any other options. Lack of money means that there aren’t enough specialists to help the kids who really need it. Special education is not indicated for every child who has difficulty reading. We didn’t have money for anything which could have helped three years ago when these kids were in kindergarten (or earlier in Pre-K programs), and now we’re stuck without anything else to do.”

    Reason number three, the false dichotomy favored by legislators, pundits, and others who don’t know squat about developmentally appropriate instruction and education: “Social promotion doesn’t work and we have to do something!”

    And reason number four for the same population, “We’re using the tests (which I support because I get campaign contributions from testing companies) for ‘accountability.’ ‘Accountability’ needs consequences.”

    WHAT DOES WORK? – EARLY INTERVENTION

    An argument against early intervention is that it’s too expensive. In fact, early intervention is poorly funded in most states because we’re a nation that doesn’t look forward. We only react to things when they happen. In addition, we’re not willing to pay for our future. The middle class is tired of being taxed to pay for everything which benefits society while the top 1% avoids its tax responsibility.

    However, when compared to retention, early intervention is a bargain. Russ Walsh explains in his blog entry, Attention, Not Retention

    It costs, on average, about 11,000 dollars to retain a child (the cost of an extra year of school). By not retaining children, schools will save thousands of dollars in costs, not to mention all the human costs related to high drop-out rates and behavior issues related to retention. With this money schools need to give students the attention they need, in the form of programs that Berliner and Glass, among others, have found to be effective. Individual tutoring, summer programs and early intervention programs, such as Reading Recovery, have been shown to be effective ways to provide struggling students with the attention needed to “catch-up.” For high-poverty areas, the money could also be better spent on early childhood programs, wrap around health programs and smaller class sizes.

    FLORIDA STILL REQUIRES THE PUNISHMENT OF 8 AND 9 YEAR OLDS

    …as does Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington. Other states – Colorado, Maryland, Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia – encourage it, though it’s not required. Different hoops are needed to avoid it in various states. See K-3 Quality: Is there a third grade retention policy?

    These states and Florida, demand retention in grade of third graders for not learning quickly enough, or not being able to pass a standardized reading test. Retention in grade isn’t remediation. Retention in grade punishes children for the failures of adults.

    Some school systems in Florida are telling parents who choose to opt their children out of the third grade reading test, that their children will not be allowed in fourth grade no matter what proof they can give of their child’s ability to read. Portfolios won’t work. Report Cards don’t matter.

    Some of these same people – legislators, politicians, edupreneurs – will insist that all parents be given “choice” when it comes to funding for charter schools and vouchers. “Choice” for privatization means more tax money for private corporations. No “Choice” for testing means more tax money for testing companies. Follow the money.

    On Labor Day, 2016, Peter Greene, wrote,

    FL: Still Stupidly Punishing Children

    This is the kind of spectacle you get when you insist on enforcing a stupid law, and the law that says students must pass the Big Standardized Test in order to move on to fourth grade is a deeply stupid law, without a shred of science to back it up. But this is the hill on which the state has decided to fight the opt out battle, hoping that a battery of nuisance motions and legions of taxpayer-financed lawyers will somehow beat these children and their families down so that finally the Supreme Test Gods can receive their proper homage. [emphasis added]

    Legislators and politicians in Florida and other states have decided that children…8 and 9 year old children…must be punished because adults…

    • don’t understand the developmental aspects of reading
    • have failed to put in place sufficient interventions for students who struggle
    • are so tied to testing – either through misinformation, or monetary connections – that they allow this child abuse

    We ought to spend money on things that will actually help children instead of wasting money lining the pockets of testing companies.

    Unfortunately, children who struggle with reading don’t make campaign contributions.

    ###

    Comments Off on #%@! Adults Should Quit Punishing Children

    Filed under Florida, retention, Testing

    2015 Medley #37

    Privatization, Poverty, YGWYPF,
    Bullet-Proof Blankets

    PRIVATIZATION – THE FALSE CHOICE

    The adventures of Timmy in Public Schools…

    You’ve got homework!

    Gayle Cosby is a member of the Indianapolis Public Schools school board. In this entry she links to an excellent video of what has happened to education in New Orleans since charters moved in. Watch this if you care about public education…the falsehoods about “choice” will be coming to your town or state soon, if they’re not already there.

    Go watch this 16 minute video. Share it on social media. Talk about it. I’ll let it sink in for a little while…give you some time to think about how similar this is to Indianapolis… then I’ll be back with a little discussion for ya.

    Florida Has a Plan to Eliminate Public Education

    The good news about ESSA is that it has moved some important education decision making to the states, instead of leaving it with the federal government. The bad news is that for some states, like Florida, that means nothing changed. State legislators can no longer blame the federal government for tying their hands and privatizing public education. Contact your state representatives now. End the use of tax revenue for private and religious profit. End the overuse and misuse of standardized testing.

    Diverting……the name of the game in Florida and it is growing.

    TALLAHASSEE — Without a word of debate Friday, the Florida House approved a controversial proposal that could require school districts to share tens of millions of dollars in construction funds with rival charter schools.

    Just follow the money to find the corruption…..

    The bill was one of four high-profile education proposals that won the support of the Republican-dominated House to end the week. The others would:

    • Ease the penalties for schools that fail to comply with the constitutionally mandated limits on class size.
    • Create a pilot program to give principals more control over hiring and budget decisions.
    • Encourage school districts to adopt mandatory school uniform policies for children in grades K-8 by offering incentive money.

    All of the Democrats in attendance voted against the charter school bill, HB 7037. But none debated the measure on the floor

    On top of everything else, the incentives of money to local districts to enforce school uniforms was added into the mix. I wonder which uniform company has major stockholders sitting in the legislature. 

    New report: Charter schools great at making money for private business, not much else

    Read this important report. The motive for public spending on education should be to provide education for the community not to provide a profit for corporate education amateurs.

    Charter schools are able to siphon off large quantities of public money for private gain — and only substantial changes to state policies regarding charter schools can stop this, according to the authors of the report from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at University of Colorado Boulder.

    The Adventures of Timmy, Part 2

    Growing Evidence that Charter Schools Are Failing

    “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “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

    Sometimes regulation is necessary. The education of our children is one of those areas where the public needs to keep tabs on what’s going on for two reasons. First, charters and voucher schools use public tax money and they need to be held accountable to the taxpayers. Second, education is a public trust. The nation depends on an educated populace for its continuation. It is in our national best interest to make sure that public schools are fully supported.

    Performance aside, charters have other serious issues. The Nation called them “stunningly opaque…black boxes.” Indeed, the federal government has spent billions on charter development without basic forms of accountability, even for the causes and details of school closings. The charter system is so unregulated that oversight often comes from whistleblowers who feel disturbed enough, and courageous enough, to report abuses.

    The report Cashing in on Kids notes that the Walton Foundation, one of the biggest charter school supporters, has “supported the unregulated growth of a privatized education industry.” The Walton-funded New York Charter School Association, which takes considerable public money and advertises itself as “independently-run public schools,” refused state audits, arguing that they were run by boards outside the public domain. Charter operators want the best of both worlds. As Diane Ravitch explains, “When it is time for funds to be distributed, they want to be considered public schools. But when they are involved in litigation, charter operators insist they are private organizations.”

    POVERTY

    Are Low U.S. Scores on International Tests Caused by High Child Poverty or Bad Schools?

    Poverty negatively affects student achievement. Students who are hungry or hurt by the effects of poverty, have trouble achieving at as high a level as students who don’t live in poverty. This isn’t new information. Politicians and policy makers can’t solve the problems of poverty so they continue to deflect the blame to schools instead of taking responsibility.

    Do schools need to improve? Of course, but schools in high poverty areas need extra support, and politicians are loathe to provide it. Citizens in high poverty areas are rarely campaign donors.

    …Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond explores the many ways childhood poverty affects the lives of America’s poorest children—their child and adolescent development, their health, their academic potential, and their life prospects. Desmond begins with the story of Crystal, a premature baby born after her mother was stabbed. Crystal’s father is imprisoned; she is molested as a preschooler, placed, at age five, in foster care where she begins a life with “dozens of group homes and sets of foster parents.” Crystal drops out of school at sixteen, ages out of foster care at eighteen, and after a litany of other problems, becomes a homeless adult. Desmond continues: “Should we say Crystal is ‘poor’? She certainly is that—but living in mere poverty would be a tremendous blessing for Crystal. Poverty is defined officially as an income cutoff, a threshold. But there are many depths below the poverty line. Poverty is qualitatively different from ‘deep poverty’ (half below the poverty line), which in turn is a world apart from ‘extreme poverty’ (living on $2 a day). There is poverty, and then there is poverty. Recent debates about poverty measurement have focused largely on its material attributes…. These debates are necessary and productive, but a relatively small income is but one of any obstacles preventing Crystal from living a full, productive, and healthy life. Like many people from disadvantaged families, she experienced setbacks at a very young age (even before birth) and never fully recovered from them. Poverty is more than a material condition.” Surely we need to improve our public schools, but just as surely we need to learn how to identify and address challenges like Crystal’s. Today, we pretty much talk as though we expect school teachers to be able, on their own, to turn such children’s lives around.

    YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

    Eight Years Under the Ax

    How have schools fared since the “great recession?”

    Wall Street tanked the economy, resulting in a big bunch of cutbacks as every state tried to deal with a sudden lack of money. That part of the story we already knew.

    The second part of the story, which you may have suspected, is that once states got in the habit of slashing education budgets, the just kept on doing it even after the economy began to recover. CBPP does not bury the lede on this one:

    Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools — in some cases, much less — than before the Great Recession.

    BULLETPROOF BLANKETS

    Now you can buy a bulletproof blanket specifically made for your kids to use during school shootings

    This article reminded me of my own childhood growing up during the Cold War. During monthly “air raid drills” we would hunker down under our desks and listen in fear for the sounds of Soviet planes ready to drop bombs on us. For most of the years of my childhood I would stop at the sound of every plane overhead and search the skies to see if I could see the bomber with the red star. This was especially disruptive since I lived on the incoming air route to O’Hare Field in Chicago…

    Now that our leaders are too afraid of the NRA to provide sensible solutions to mass murder we will raise another generation of children growing up in fear.

    If mass shootings weren’t such an integrated part of our culture, you’d think The Bodyguard Blanket was an SNL skit or an Onion article. Kids are being gunned down in their 1st grade classrooms, but what can we do? No we’re not talking about gun laws, just arm your children with these bulletproof shields!

    ###

    Article Medleys, Charters, poverty, Privatization, SchoolFunding, SchoolShootings

    Comments Off on 2015 Medley #37

    Filed under Article Medleys, Charters, Florida, poverty, Privatization, SchoolFunding, SchoolShootings