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

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.

🎧🎧🎧
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Posted in Florida, retention, Testing

#%@! 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.

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    Posted in Article Medleys, Charters, Florida, poverty, Privatization, SchoolFunding, SchoolShootings

    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!

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

    Posted in Article Medleys, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Teachers Unions, WhyTeachersQuit

    2015 Medley #27: Surprise! There’s a Teacher Shortage

    Surprise! There’s a Teacher Shortage

    Why are there teacher shortages in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, California, Louisiana…

    Over the past few years, I’ve written about the local and nation-wide impending teacher shortage and why teachers quit. It should come as no surprise to anyone…it has been obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. Teachers have been blamed for all the ills facing public schools especially low achievement…even though we know that low achievement accompanies low income. Poverty implies lower achievement — no other in-school or out-of-school factor is as consistent. Republican politicians are quick to blame teachers unions, and some Democrats have joined in with that song as well, but blaming unions doesn’t explain why there is such low achievement in a state like Mississippi with very few unionized teachers. It doesn’t explain why achievement is higher in states like Massachusetts and New Jersey — states with high union membership and strong unions. Poverty does.

    “Reformers” don’t seem to be willing to discuss poverty as a factor in school achievement. They don’t seem to be willing to expend as many resources and as much energy “fixing” poverty as they do destroying public education. Yet, killing the teaching profession has only made things worse.

    On the other hand, is it possible that “reformers” want to destroy the teaching profession along with public schools? No teaching profession means cheap labor as states pass laws allowing anyone to teach…it means no professionals who understand the teaching and learning process and who will call out the practices that get in the way of student learning. It means no pensions…and more profit.

    Below are articles about Michigan, Indiana, Kansas, Florida…and one final punch in the face to Chris Christie.

    MICHIGAN

    Another One Bites the Dust

    A Michigan middle school math teacher (and Facebook friend of mine) wrote a piece which was picked up by Valerie Strauss, Diane Ravitch, mlive, Common Dreams, and the Huffington Post. We originally posted it on the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE) blog and Facebook page.

    The teacher, Stephanie, wrote a heartfelt letter explaining why she decided to leave public education and take a job at a private school. In her letter she reported on what Michigan “reformers” have done to damage public education and hurt public school teachers.

    …I have been forced to comply with mandates — from the Republicans at the state level and the Democrats at the national level — that are NOT in the best interest of kids. I am tired of having to perform what I consider to be educational malpractice, in the name of “accountability”. The amount of time lost to standardized tests that are of no use to me as a classroom teacher is mind-boggling. And when you add in mandatory quarterly district-wide tests, which are used to collect data that is ignored, you get a situation that is beyond ridiculous…

    …due to a chronic, purposeful underfunding of public schools here in Michigan, my take-home pay has been frozen or decreased for the past five years, and I don’t see the situation getting any better in the near future…

    Starve the public schools, then blame the teachers for not performing miracles. Drive career teachers out and replace them with cheap temps.

    Stephanie explained that she didn’t want to leave public education. She was a product of public schools, a public school mom, a public school teacher, and a public school advocate. She has supported public schools throughout her career. Leaving is heartbreaking and difficult for her, but she, like so many others have had enough.

    Reactions

    Aside from the comments of support…and a few from the usual trolls claiming that teachers are overpaid and have it easy…

    …there was an interesting reaction (which also wasn’t a surprise) from a public school supporter.

    After reading her letter, Jim Horn at Schools Matter focused on the fact that Stephanie attended the last two Network for Public Education (NPE) conferences, and, since he drools in anticipation whenever he has an opportunity to badmouth anything to do with Diane Ravitch, he minimized Stephanie’s commitment to fighting for public education as “endless cheerleading.” Yes, because she attended the NPE conferences.

    Perhaps he wanted her to organize and rally at the state capital. Wait…she’s done that.

    Perhaps he wanted her to confront legislators and publicly go on record against anti-public school legislation. Wait…she’s done that, too.

    I’ve mentioned his Ravitch-bashing before…Anything relating to Diane Ravitch is fair game for his attacks. I think it’s clear he’s jealous that Diane Ravitch has actually done something productive by forming the NPE to help support public education. Then there’s the fact that she has a large following…whereas all he can do is complain that we all don’t agree with him 100% of the time.

    I’m not going to link to his blog. If you want to read what he wrote you can google it.

    INDIANA

    Indiana’s got a problem: Too many teachers don’t want to work there anymore

    Senate Education Committee Chair, and State Senator Dennis Kruse and his House counterpart, Representative Robert Behning want to “study” why there is a teacher shortage in Indiana. Behning has spent the last 15 years bashing teachers and trashing public schools. He entered the House of Representatives in 1992 as a Florist…but now he runs an “educational lobbying company.” Both have worked to make public education less public.

    The teacher shortage in Indiana is becoming such a problem that some state lawmakers want a legislative committee to study the issue and come up with solutions. According to the Indianapolis Star, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate education committees have asked General Assembly leaders to approve having the legislative education study committee review what is causing the drop and how the state could respond.

    For one thing, they can look in the mirror. The Republican leadership of the state — including Gov. Mike Pence — showed their respect for teachers by working very hard this year to strip power from Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a veteran educator who won election to the post in 2012 (by defeating Tony Bennett, the incumbent who was a protege of former Florida governor Jeb Bush). Oh, by the way, she is a Democrat. David Long, the Republican president of the Indiana Senate, said while explaining why the legislature would want to remove Ritz as chairman of the state Board of Education: “In all fairness, Superintendent Ritz was a librarian, okay?”

    Why a teacher shortage? Try asking a teacher

    A former principal understands what is driving student failure. He also understands that giving wealthy schools and poor schools equal per pupil funding is inherently unequal.

    …To take inner-city resources (Indianapolis, Gary, etc.) to reward “A” schools (Carmel, Zionsville, etc.), which already have abundant resources, is immoral. In other words, the competitive model of accountability does not fit in a democratic institution that cannot afford to have winners and losers.

    Everyone should have the opportunity to grow and learn. Since not every child is blessed equally, it is incumbent upon policy makers to help overcome this difference by allocating resources where they are needed most. Current policies do just the opposite. Is it any wonder why inner-city schools will have the hardest time filling teaching positions?

    Your solution, offering monetary rewards based on a test, is insulting to those who know the vagarious nature of such tests, and it falsely assumes teachers just need to work harder. Such extrinsic rewards miss the point. If the goal is to attract people to the profession, we should start by realizing teachers are motivated by something much more meaningful than money.

    …A teacher shortage? It was inevitable. It seems everyone saw it coming but the ones who tried making policy in a vacuum devoid of solid, authentic research and educational expertise.

    So, chairmen Kruse and Behning are forming a committee to study the cause of a shortage they helped create. I have a suggestion: call a teacher — any teacher — and ask them. They’ll give you the answer.

    KANSAS

    Kansas Underfunded Education And Cut Tenure. Now It Can’t Find Enough Teachers To Fill Classrooms.

    Kansas has joined with other states in the process of destroying their own public education system. Do they wonder what’s causing the teacher shortage?

    Teachers are being forced to do more with less, and not necessarily getting appreciated for it, said Dean Katt, superintendent of Hays Public Schools.

    “Teachers are working many more hours, much harder. They’re doing it on their own and don’t have the support we should be giving them,” said Katt.

    He continued, “[They face] constant bashing from the governor and legislature, [who] in my opinion are trying to privatize education and just destroy it.”

    The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment regarding the teacher shortage.

    A Memo To States: This Is How You Create A Teacher Shortage

    A satirical, but accurate look at how to destroy a profession. The links were included in the original. With very little effort we could also provide links to the same sorts of sites for Indiana…

    The How To Create A Teacher Shortage Recipe

    Ingredients:

    1 cup of rhetoric against teachers

    2 pounds of bills and programs that attempt to de-professionalize teaching (specifically, a proposed bill that would make it easier to jail teachers for teaching materials deemed offensive and a new program that lifts teacher licensure requirements in certain districts)

    3 tablespoons of a lack of due process rights for teachers

    ½ cup of finely diced repeated budget cuts amid a state revenue crisis

    1 stalk of a new school funding system that is currently being challenged in state court

    2 grinds of growing child poverty throughout the state

    3 tablespoons of low teacher pay

    1/3 cup of large numbers of teacher retirements

    FLORIDA

    Brevard teachers leave ‘in droves’ for other jobs

    Jeb’s legacy is still strong.

    Teachers in Brevard County have cited low morale as their main concern about teaching here — and many are leaving the district for greener pastures.

    Four pages worth of resignations and retirements filled part of the last school board’s agenda, citing personal reasons, relocations and other employment. On this agenda item, 73 teachers resigned and 80 retired.

    According to human resources information from Brevard Public Schools that is just one fragment of the group of teachers leaving. Data show that 368 teachers voluntarily resigned this year, the biggest number in the past five years — however that is not too far off from the 365 who voluntarily resigned or retired over the 2014-15 school year.

    The Single Most Destructive Force in Public Education

    Chris Christie said that he wanted to punch the “national teachers union in the face” and teachers unions were “the single most destructive force in public education.” Apparently Christie doesn’t know that states with strong teacher unions have higher student achievement than states with weak or non-existent unions.

    Russ Walsh turns the tables on Christie.

    The single most destructive force in public education is income inequity. Poverty has a devastating impact on a child’s educational achievement. With 25% of school children living in poverty, it is small wonder public education is struggling in impoverished areas.

    The second most destructive force in public education is politicians and corporate education reformers who wish to ignore income inequity and blame teachers unions for the problems in public education. Teachers and their unions, want a strong viable system of public education. We would like politicians and well- financed reformers to work with us and stop threatening to punch us. [emphasis added]

    ~~~

    The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

    ~~~
    Stop the Testing Insanity!
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    Posted in ALEC, Article Medleys, Cleveland, Florida, Indiana, Milwaukee, Nevada, vouchers

    2015 Medley #24 – Vouchers

    Vouchers

    VOUCHERS: FRIEDMAN’S PLAN

    It has never been about poor kids…

    The “money follows the child” philosophy has been a decades long excuse to divert tax money to private corporations and to provide tax breaks to individuals who send their children to private and religious schools.

    ALEC Admits School Vouchers Are for Kids in Suburbia

    The American Federation for Children (AFC), chaired by Amway billionaire Betsy DeVos, estimates that vouchers and voucher-like tax-credit schemes currently divert $1.5 billion of public money to private schools annually. But that is not enough. By expanding “pro-school choice legislative majorities” in state houses across the country the organization hopes that $5 billion a year will be siphoned out of public schools by 2020 and applied to for-profit and religious schools.

    With vouchers gaining momentum nationwide, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is meeting in San Diego today [June 22, 2015], has decided to drop the pretense that vouchers have anything to do with social and racial equity, and is now pushing vouchers for the middle class—a project which, if pursued enough in numbers, will progressively erode the public school system and increase the segregation of students based on race and economic standing.

    Those supporting vouchers don’t see anything wrong with draining money from the public schools. In fact, the goal is the destruction of public schools entirely.

    So what exactly was the brave new world Milton Friedman envisioned when he first floated the idea of school vouchers? While lecturing rightwing state lawmakers at a 2006 ALEC meeting, Friedman jumped at the opportunity to explain what his vision was all about. It had nothing whatsoever to do with helping “indigent” children; no, he explained to thunderous applause, vouchers were all about “abolishing the public school system.”

    Here is an excerpt from Friedman’s ALEC speech:

    …How do we get from where we are to where we want to be—to a system in which parents control the education of their children? Of course, the ideal way would be to abolish the public school system and eliminate all the taxes that pay for it.

    If you agree with Milton Friedman’s plan to do away with public schools, then you and I will never agree.

    WHY NOT VOUCHERS?

    I come to the discussion of vouchers with the following assumption…that public schools supported by the public, is a common good.

    I agree with President John Adams that…

    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.

    It is to our benefit as a society, that our citizens be educated and it’s our obligation to educate all of our citizens…not just those who have enough money.

    Vouchers don’t improve education for everyone. They don’t help poor children do better in school because the problem isn’t failing schools…it’s poverty and the failure of politicians to deal with it.

    In An Inconvenient Truth, Vice President Al Gore said,

    There are good people who are in politics in both parties, who hold this at arm’s length because if they acknowledge it and recognize it, then the moral imperative to make big changes is inescapable.

    He was referring, of course, to acknowledging global climate change, but the same can be said for child poverty in America. America’s politicians are too busy fighting each other in a partisan struggle for donor capital and reelection, to worry about actually doing anything substantive about child poverty. It’s easier to label America’s public schools as “failures” and blame the schools, “bad teachers,” unmotivated students, or lazy parents.

    The political fight results in vouchers…a false hope for parents of children in poverty. Instead of supporting a public school system which accepts all students, vouchers send public funds to private schools which, when faced with hard-to-educate students, often send them right back to the underfunded public schools.

    The case against school vouchers: Sen. Patty Murray takes a stand on Senate floor

    For one, vouchers divert much-needed resources away from public schools and re-route it to private and religious schools…

    Secondly, vouchers would send federal taxpayer dollars to private schools that are in no way accountable to the public…

    …unlike public schools, private schools do not need to serve all students…

    …they do not improve student achievement. Study after study has shown that vouchers do not pay off for students or taxpayers…

    IN PRACTICE

    • Nevada…

    Nevada’s New Voucher Plan Is Designed to Bankrupt the Public Schools

    “Starting next school year, any parent in Nevada can pull a child from the state’s public schools and take tax dollars with them, giving families the option to use public money to pay for private or parochial school or even for home schooling… Nevada’s law is singular because all of the state’s 450,000 K-12 public school children—regardless of income—are eligible to take the money to whatever school they choose…”

    “…will cause a deficit for the local district, given the fixed costs of operating the school system for all children… ESAs also create instability in district and school budgets. Districts will not know how many students will exit and how much money will be taken out of the budget during the school year. This unpredictability will make it difficult to manage public school budgets, as local administrators won’t know how many teachers and staff to hire… or how to allocate funds to provide sufficient resources to schools throughout the school year…”

    “Unlike Nevada public schools, the private and religious schools accepting ESA funds are not prohibited from discriminating based on race, gender or disability…”

    • Milwaukee…

    Vouchers don’t do much for students

    Ever since the Obama administration filed suit to freeze Louisiana’s school voucher program, high-ranking Republicans have pummeled the president for trapping poor kids in failing public schools. The entire House leadership sent a letter of protest. Majority Leader Eric Cantor blistered the president for denying poor kids “a way into a brighter future.”

    And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused the president of “ripping low-income minority students out of good schools” that could “help them achieve their dreams.”

    But behind the outrage is an inconvenient truth: Taxpayers across the U.S. will soon be spending $1 billion a year to help families pay private school tuition — and there’s little evidence that the investment yields academic gains.

    • Florida…

    Breaking News: Florida Governor Scott Signs Voucher Expansion Bill

    Rita Solnet, president of the Florida chapter of Parents Across America, said:

    “Voucher schools will not be held to Florida’s Common Core curriculum nor will they have to deliver its associated, highly trumpeted, high stakes tests that 2.6 M other FL students endure. No merit pay, no need to pursue credentialed teachers, no accountability for $3 billion of public tax dollars.

    “Had the Governor not signed SB 850 today, the voucher program would have still grown to nearly $1 billion anyways with the escalators built in.

    “Something is very wrong when the agency services 59K students in primarily religious schools and they admittedly provided false numbers for an alleged wait list. Something is very wrong when their non profit president is on video admitting to giving away a million dollars each year to legislators who favor voucher programs.

    “Siphoning $3 billion away from 2.6 M students is shameful.”

    • Cleveland…

    An Idea Whose Time Has Gone

    In Cleveland, a similar but now completed study that followed the same students over time showed dispiriting results from that city’s voucher program. Tracking the scores of students who began kindergarten in the 1997-98 school year through their sixth-grade year in 2003-04, Indiana University researchers found no significant differences in overall achievement, reading, or math scores between students who used vouchers and those who stayed in public schools, after taking into account socioeconomic differences.

    • Indiana…

    Following money …

    Voucher dollars cause confusion for public schools

    “The issue is not the money as much as the responsibility for management of the Individualized Education Plan,” said Superintendent Phil Downs, noting that the money is intended to support a student not enrolled in his district. The situation places public schools in the position of taking legal and financial responsibility for another schools’ students, and diminishing the decision-making authority of the private school…

    …School choice supporters enthusiastically embrace the idea of money following the child. It’s time for Indiana to consider applying the concept to special education funds, provided the necessary legal and financial responsibilities also follow those dollars to voucher schools.

    …now flowing in reverse

    As voucher participation grows, the number of students attending private schools at taxpayer expense has grown from 3,911 to more than 29,000, including an increasing number of students who never attended public school. While their families qualify for a generous tax break, the families of children in public schools do not.

    Report: School vouchers don’t benefit students or taxpayers

    “Vouchers don’t promote student achievement,” he said. “When you are taking public dollars and using them to subsidize decision making, you want those public dollars to generate a public good. Even supporters of the voucher system have come to the realization that vouchers don’t support student achievement.”

    Expansions underway at local schools

    …according to the law, you are allowed to use choice scholarship (money) for any education-related expenses. That could be for building, technology. You can use it for any of those things.

    ~~~

    The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

    ~~~
    Stop the Testing Insanity!
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    Posted in ADHD, Article Medleys, Florida, JebBush, Privatization, TeachersSpeakingOut, Texas, Value-Added, WhyTeachersQuit

    2015 Medley #2

    Florida’s Privatization Plan, Why Teachers Quit, VAM, Privatization, Teachers Speak Out,
    Texas SBOE, Children’s Growth, ADHD

    FLORIDA EXPORTS ‘REFORM’

    Jeb Bush’s “Florida formula” of education privatization in North Carolina

    Does this look familiar to Indiana readers? This article describes how Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education used “ALEC-like” methods to export the “Florida Formula” to other states. One way was through the “Chiefs for Change” group, a group of state education commissioners, including Indiana’s (and later Florida’s) Tony Bennett.

    Since its creation, the foundation has been largely devoted to exporting the “Florida formula,” an overhaul of public education [Jeb] Bush oversaw as governor between 1999 and 2007.

    That agenda includes ideas typically supported by conservatives and opposed by teachers unions: issuing A-to-F report cards for schools, using taxpayer vouchers for tuition at private schools, expanding charter schools, requiring third-graders to pass a reading test, and encouraging online learning and virtual charter schools.

    WHO WILL BE TOMORROW’S TEACHERS?

    Why half of the nation’s new teachers can’t leave the profession fast enough.

    One of the goals of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) is the destruction of the teaching profession. The lack of professional educators means lower overhead…lower pay, no pensions, no unions, no professionals to get in the way of for-profit “choices.”

    Around the nation teachers’ job benefits are disappearing, pensions are being blamed for the economic difficulties caused by the banking crisis, and qualifications for becoming a teacher are watered down to the point that completely untrained college graduates can walk into a classroom and start teaching.

    The “reform” movement is being directed by billionaires with no training in education, politicians with no training in education, and the media with no training in education. Soon public education will be delivered by people with no training in education.

    ….teachers quit because we have all the responsibility and little or no authority in the classroom. Administrators don’t support teachers and often don’t trust our judgment as professionals. It’s very hard to stay at a job where you are not supported, appreciated or trusted. Add disrespectful students and parents, and it becomes a daily battle to go to work.” A daily battle to go to work sounds like reason enough for anyone to leave the profession. She went on, “My stepdaughter has been teaching for three years and she’s done. It’s sad because she’s a teacher at heart – this is her calling. But she says no way. Her main reason: lack of support from administration and parents. She said she is held responsible for things she can’t possibly control.”

    Virginia Teacher of the Year Tells Why He Resigned

    Another intelligent, award winning, high quality teacher resigns.

    I’ve seen teachers cry over Standards of Learning scores. I’ve seen students cry over SOL scores. I’ve seen newspaper and TV reports sensationalize SOL scores. These are all indications of an unhealthy obsession with flawed standardized tests.

    SOL tests are inherently unfair, but we continue to invest countless hours and resources in our quest for our school to score well. This leads me to the following questions:

    • Do we care more about student progress or our appearance?
    • Why can’t we start a movement to walk away from these tests?
    • Why can’t we shift our focus to critical thinking and relevant educational experiences?

    It’s tough to acknowledge that people in Washington, D.C., and Richmond (and sometimes decision makers in Waynesboro) develop systems and policies that affect my students and me negatively. But as they retire and sail off into the sunset, we’re the ones left with the consequences of ineffective measurements and strategies.

    Our new teacher evaluations focus heavily on test scores. But while teachers are continually under pressure to be held accountable, there seems to be very little accountability for parents, the community, or district offices.

    It’s only going to get worse, and it seems that we have no intention of taking a stand or advocating against flawed assessments. Instead, we have submitted ourselves to these tools that misrepresent student growth. It is a game, and it is a game I no longer wish to play.

    Indiana education dean: Teacher measures aren’t fair

    VAM isn’t reliable. Why do we continue to use student standardized tests for the wrong purposes? Is it because testing companies don’t care what their tests are used for as long as they’re being paid (with the public dollars)? Is it because the politicians making education policy don’t know anything about educational testing? Is it because the policy makers are getting campaign contributions from said test makers?

    The answer is probably “yes” to all three questions.

    Holding teacher training programs accountable for measures such as how many graduates get jobs within a year of graduating, how well teachers perform on evaluations during their first few years of work or how much student test scores grow isn’t fair because the science behind those measures can’t be trusted, said Gerardo Gonzalez, Indiana University’s education dean.

    …“We want to blame teachers, hold them accountable, pay them less than just about every other profession and then we worry why they are leaving within five years?” Gonzalez said.

    NEED CAMPAIGN FINANCES? SUPPORT PRIVATIZATION

    Will the Media Help Destroy Public Education?

    The most important fact in American politics today is the Citizens United decision. With this, the hand of the Democratic Party was forced: in order to win major elections the party must accept major campaign funding from the Silicon Valley right libertarians, neoliberals and their financiers on Wall Street. For neoliberal Democrats who are forced to lick the Nikes of their major funders, the privatization of education has become the price they pay to get the dollars needed to win elections.

    COURAGEOUS TEACHERS STAND UP

    Teachers of Conscience

    Read the position paper…a strong statement against corporate “reform.”

    The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

    IGNORANCE IN THE TEXAS SBOE

    Texas Freedom Network: Live-Blogging the Texas Social Studies Textbook Vote

    The Founding Fathers: Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, James Madison…and Moses?

    According to the Texas State Board of Education, Moses (yes, that Moses) was a major influence in  the formation of the nation’s founding documents, aka the U.S. Constitution.

    During a months-long process, publishers made a number of improvements to their textbooks. Those improvements included removing inaccurate information promoting climate change denialism; deleting offensive cartoons comparing beneficiaries of affirmative action to space aliens; making clearer that slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War; and revising passages that had promoted unfair negative stereotypes of Muslims. Scholars and the general public had ample opportunity to review and comment on those revisions.

    However, the new textbooks also include passages that suggest Moses influenced the writing of the Constitution and that the roots of democracy can be found in the Old Testament. Scholars from across the country have said such claims are inaccurate and mislead students about the historical record.

    EMOTIONAL GROWTH

    Why Emotional Learning May Be As Important As The ABCs

    A growing body of research suggests that teaching really young kids how to recognize and express their feelings can help them into their adult lives…and save society time, money, and social stress in the long run.

    …common sense — along with a growing body of research — shows that mastering social skills early on can help people stay out of trouble all the way into their adult lives.

    ADHD

    ADHD And Creativity: New Research Says ADHD Is Being Mistreated In Schools

    Research now shows what many people who have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder — or those who parent someone who does — have long since believed there is a huge link between ADHD and creativity, often referred to as the “upside of ADHD.” And according to an extensive report by Salon, in focusing solely on the difficulties those with ADHD have — such as poor attention and impulse control — kids with ADHD are falling through the cracks, educationally speaking…

    …recent studies in the field of cognitive neuroscience draws a strong connection between ADHD and creativity, as well, showing that both creative thinkers and people with ADHD have trouble “suppressing brain activity coming from the ‘Imagination Network.’”

    All of this creativity — and with it, the inability to control those creative thoughts — can be seen as either positive or negative. Creativity is a valuable asset, but so is being able to control one’s thoughts and impulses, and obviously, a creative mind that is always spontaneously generating new ideas or constantly daydreaming interferes greatly with the ability to pay attention in the classroom.

    For parents, teachers, and significant others…

    10 Things You Should Never Tell Your Child

    Most parents, teachers, and significant others don’t say things to others to hurt their feelings on purpose, but sometimes, when living, or working with an ADHD child or adult we become frustrated and the hurtful words slip out.  Unfortunately, hurtful words stay with people, causing humiliation and embarrassment which can last into adulthood and negatively impact relationships and one’s ability to hold on to a job.

    Here’s an incomplete list of hurtful phrases ADHD folks have grown up and lived with.

    People say some pretty insensitive things. ADHD myths and misinformation don’t help. People blame us or our kids for behaviors controlled by the condition, and we know it’s wrong. But sometimes frustrating behaviors can push even the most loving parents to say things we quickly regret.

    I would add a few more to this list:

    • “Why didn’t you think!?”
    • “…if you’d only try harder…”
    • “…if you weren’t so lazy.”

    My advice to those living (or working) with people with ADHD…”Think before you speak.”

    ~~~

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

    ~~~
    Stop the Testing Insanity!
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    Posted in Chicago, Florida, Indiana, JebBush, New York, retention

    Insanity is…

    INSANITY

    …doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    The above quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, or Mark Twain, is a good representation of the American educational practice of “retention in grade.”

    For the past 100 years the “common sense” concept of “retaining,” “flunking,” or “holding students back” has been a mainstay of American education. It seems to make sense that if a child doesn’t achieve the required learning during his/her year in a particular grade, repeating the grade to reinforce the learning would help. Unfortunately for the child, the “common sense” is wrong and retention in grade usually doesn’t work.

    It may seem reasonable to give a child an extra year to “catch up,” however, research has consistently shown that retention in grade is less effective than other forms of remediation.

    Despite the research, however, the current trend is for states to require students to read “at grade level” by third grade or face retention. The mayoral controlled city school systems of Chicago and New York have also tried it and found that it didn’t work. Florida does it. North Carolina does it. Indiana does it. It’s also being used in Texas, Ohio, Iowa, and Arizona. (FYI see Chapter 7, Section 2 of the A-Plus Literacy Act by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC)

    Rather than simply expecting schools to bring all children to a Lake Wobegon standard of “at grade level” by third grade, Americans, and their legislators must understand that not all children learn at the same rate. Rather than wasting money retaining children at third grade, states ought to invest in early childhood education, early interventions like Reading Recovery and smaller class sizes.

    Holding Kids Back Doesn’t Help Them by Deborah Stipek and Michael Lombardo

    A majority of peer-reviewed studies over the past 30 years have demonstrated that holding students back yields little or no long-term academic benefits and can actually be harmful to students…

    Moreover, there is compelling evidence that retention can reduce the probability of high school graduation…

    Instead of giving children the same treatment that failed them the first time, alternative strategies provide different kinds of learning opportunities.

    Interventions should also begin long before 3rd grade. Research has provided compelling evidence that investments in preschool can reduce retention and have positive long-term payoff for individuals and society, in contrast to the negative long-term effects of holding a student back later.

    FLORIDA THINKS TWICE

    Jeb Bush’s reading rule loses ground

    Not mentioned in the article below, but included in the one above, is the fact that the gains of “retention in grade” are lost in about 2 years, and by 8th grade Florida students are still below the national average in reading proficiency.

    Many students could use the extra help: Nationally, 32 percent of fourth-graders were reading at below basic levels in 2013, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

    But it’s unclear whether the retention policies work as intended.

    One study from Florida shows that after two years of implementation, third-graders who were retained made significant reading gains relative to their socially promoted peers.

    But other studies have shown that retention leads to loss of self-esteem, a decreased feeling of belonging at school and negative effects on college attendance. A Harvard University study found that any positive effects of retention fade out over time.

    Data from Florida show that about a third of students held back for a year in 2003 never became proficient at reading. But a state official also noted that fewer students have been retained over the years because they’re getting more intensive instruction, thanks to the law.

    A benefit of the Florida law that further denies the effectiveness of grade retention is

    …retention plus being assigned to a highly effective teacher and receiving 90 minutes of additional literacy instruction per day is more effective than being promoted with no such guaranteed, high-dosage interventions.

    The Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy at the University of Denver reviewed the research on retention.

    They concluded that Florida had improved test scores according to some studies specifically because…

    Florida also has universal preschool, class size limits, and guaranteed high-quality literacy coaches, among other well-financed innovations.

    In other words, when money is provided for proven interventions, student acheivement improves.

    …since 2006 Florida has legislated a separate education fund guaranteed to be spent on literacy. This year that fund has $130M to distribute across its districts to be spent on highly qualified literacy coaches, intensive summer reading camps for lagging readers, among others. Although Florida’s unique combination of reforms and financial backing is likely largely responsible for some test score gains seen there, the effects of retention itself are not possible to isolate.

    WRONG PRIORITIES

    Until the United States finally decides to place a high priority on our early learners, especially those who are at risk due to poverty and English language learners, we’ll have an economic and linguistic learning gap. Forced retention at third grade won’t change that.

    There are sufficient data to conclude that retention in the absence of well-funded, guaranteed, and high-dosage interventions is ineffective or harmful. This includes the most recent research using the most rigorous methods to control for pre-retention differences.

    Forced retention in grade, the overuse and misuse of testing, closing schools instead of supporting them, charter schools, vouchers, invalid teacher evaluations, reducing teacher benefits, lowering requirements for educators — None of those “reforms” will help children.

    What will help is early and intensive research-based interventions for students at risk of failure.

    Unfortunately, “reformers” haven’t figured out how to make money from actually helping students.

    ~~~

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

    ~~~
    Stop the Testing Insanity!
    ~~~