Posted in IN Gen.Assembly, SchoolFunding, TeacherAppreciation, Teaching Career

Appreciation? Not From the Legislature…

Teacher appreciation week has ended for another year, so now politicians and privatizers can go back to trying to undermine the work and livelihood of our nation’s public school educators.

In my last post I quoted Corinne Driscoll of Syracuse who, in 2012 wrote about politicians statements during Teachers Appreciation Week,

All of these words are empty and merely paying lip service to something they do not believe. By their actions, these “leaders” have made it obvious that they neither appreciate, admire, respect nor comprehend the jobs of the people who spend their days with the nation’s children. Nor do they understand the first thing about the children in those classrooms.

Not much has changed in the last 6 years since that was written except perhaps, that the role of public school educator has gotten more difficult, with more restrictions and barriers placed in our way by those who would destroy public education.

Despite the change in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2015 (ESSA), students are still forced to spend too much of their school career testing. Here in Indiana the legislative supermajority has taken the flexibility offered to the states by ESSA and doubled down on testing. Teachers and schools are still being punished for enrolling students of poverty. Teachers are still being evaluated by unreliable student test scores, and schools are still being closed, privatized through charters, or taken over by the state instead of being helped and supported.

POLITICIANS MAKE THE RULES…

Driscoll continued…

They cut budgets, eliminate classroom positions, overload classrooms, remove supports, choose ineffective and downright useless instructional tools, set up barriers to providing academic assistance, and then very quickly stand up and point fingers at teachers, blaming them for every failure of American society, and washing their own hands of any blame.

Indiana’s public schools are trying to survive while sharing their funding with charters and voucher schools. Some are doing well, especially those in wealthier areas. Some, however, are losing the battle.

For example, in two days (May 14, 2018) the state legislature will vote to take over two school systems because of fiscal mismanagement. The school systems obviously need some help, and already have the benefit of emergency managers. In the past, the state legislature has provided loans to charter schools and then forgiven those loans – to the tune of $90 million. But, instead of simply providing loans to these two distressed school systems along with the emergency managers, the one-party ruled state legislature is poised to allow a take-over of the schools, silencing the local school boards and by extension, the voters. The bill, HB1315, also eliminates transparency and excuses one of the two systems from following hundreds of regulations required of other public schools

…THEN BLAME THE TEACHERS

The bill rewards [sic] teachers for their hard work in the classroom with the loss of collective bargaining rights, and gives the emergency manager the right to lay off 5% of their numbers in the middle of the school year (the latter applies to any emergency manager, in any school system in the state). Teachers, then, are being held responsible for the condition of the school system’s finances!

And some of these same legislators wonder why young people don’t want to go into teaching!

In other words, policy makers have made the rules, restrictions, and requirements for education in this state, and then blame teachers when things don’t work.

So much for appreciation.

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Posted in Article Medleys, Charters, CommonGood, SchoolFunding, Taxes, Teaching Career

2018 Medley #12

The Common Good,
(Lack of) Teacher Appreciation Week,
The Cost of Charters,
How Would You Change Public Education?

“THE TREADMILL AND THE POOR LAW ARE IN FULL VIGOUR, THEN?” – Ebenezer Scrooge

Republicans are paying for teacher raises with taxes and fees that hit working- and middle-class taxpayers

Ebenezer Scrooge believed that the poor should be sent to prison or poor houses paid for by the state. He believed that he had his fortune, and others could, if they were able, get their own. On the other hand, even Scrooge, at least according to Dickens, paid taxes to support facilities for the poor…

Most people are willing to pay more in taxes to support their public education systems so it makes sense for states to raise more funds to pay for public schools.

Politicians in Arizona have found a way to increase funding for schools without raising taxes on their wealthy donors. As punishment for teachers daring to ask for more money for themselves and their students, Gov. Ducey and his cronies are raising the money through regressive taxation which disproportionately impacts the poor and middle class. For example, one of the new taxes is a new $18 registration fee for cars, which represents a larger percentage of annual income for low wage earners.

There will also be a change in how the state pays for desegregation of public schools, paid for by higher property taxes in low-income school districts.

Similar types of revenue plans are on the table in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. Corporate taxes are untouched, with the poor and middle classes carrying the load for the increased spending.

The concept of the “public good” is lost on these people.

Arizona teachers returned to class on May 4 after ending a six-day strike that closed nearly all of the state’s 2,000-plus schools. Educators returned to work after the state legislature gave them a 20 percent salary raise over three years and some extra funding for public education.

But there’s a catch: Lawmakers are going to make them and other middle- and working-class Arizonans pay for the raise.

(LACK OF) TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK

A school is not a factory; teaching is a process

This letter, written during Teacher Appreciation Week of 2012, is still current. Politicians and pundits talk a good game, but when it comes to actually appreciating what teachers do, they come up short.

The Indiana legislature, for example, is set to take over two public school systems. Included in the law which takes away the right of the people to elect their local school boards, are provisions rescinding rights for teachers.

This week is the annual celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week. Politicians of every stripe and school superintendents everywhere will write letters and make proclamations stating how much they value the service and dedication of teachers everywhere. All of these words are empty and merely paying lip service to something they do not believe. By their actions, these ”leaders” have made it obvious that they neither appreciate, admire, respect nor comprehend the jobs of the people who spend their days with the nation’s children. Nor do they understand the first thing about the children in those classrooms.

Finn’s Trouble with Teacher Strikes

How dare teachers ask for decent working conditions, up-to-date materials, and a professional salary. Just in time for Teacher Appreciation Week, Chester Finn wishes teachers were more compliant.

Finn’s argument against the strikes range from the creatively misguided to old-school insulting. He has, of course, completely ignored the part of this that is flummoxing many conservatives– the strikes are not simply about teacher wages but about teaching conditions. When you say teachers should suck it up and teach classes of forty kids, you are saying that parents should be happy to put their kids in forty-student classes. When you argue that teachers should stop whining about moldy rooms, you are saying that students should gladly sit in those rooms as well. When you argue that teachers should not get fussy about forty-year-old textbooks, you are saying that students should be happy with those books as well. Teachers work conditions really are student learning conditions, and when those conditions have been deliberately degraded by people who want to save a buck or leaders who want to drive more families into charter schools– in short, when those lousy conditions are the result of deliberate bad choices made by legislators, then all the teacher shaming in the world isn’t really going to help.

Finn says that if we want to ameliorate these conditions, “a great many things need to change in very big ways.” He’s correct, but those many things are less about teachers being uppity and more about state leaders actually committing to support public education.

CHARTERS – GREED IS NOT GOOD FOR CHILDREN

Are charter schools private? In Texas courts, it depends why you’re asking

When it comes to taking public tax money, charter school operators shout, “Charter schools are public schools!” On the other hand, if there are requirements required of public schools that charter operators don’t like, then charter schools are “private companies.”

It’s not just Texas, either. See here, here, here, and here.

In 2006, in Dallas, a construction company sued a charter school, alleging that the school stiffed workers on a building contract to the tune of a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Eight years later, in Houston, a third grade teacher sued the charter school where she worked, alleging that it had falsified test scores, that it failed to properly provide for students with disabilities and that mold in her classroom had made her sick.

Their claims did not make it very far.

The teacher couldn’t sue the charter because, the Texas Supreme Court said, it’s not a government entity. The construction company couldn’t sue, the same court said years earlier, because it was.

Report: The Cost of Charter Schools for Public School Districts

How exactly do charter schools drain money from public schools? In the Public Interest has a report.

In a first-of-its-kind analysis, In the Public Interest has found that public school students in three California school districts are bearing the cost of the unchecked expansion of privately managed charter schools.

The report, Breaking Point: The Cost of Charter Schools for Public School Districts, calculates the fiscal impact of charter schools on Oakland Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, and San Jose’s East Side Union High School District.

  • Charter schools cost Oakland Unified $57.3 million per year. That’s $1,500 less in funding for each student that attends a neighborhood school.
  • The annual cost of charter schools to the San Diego Unified is $65.9 million.
  • In East Side Union, the net impact of charter schools amounts to a loss of $19.3 million per year.

FUND OUR FUTURE

If You Could Make ONE change….

John Merrow asks, “If YOU had the power to make ONE major change in American public education immediately, what would you choose to do?”

Unfortunately, ONE change won’t fix the problems associated with public schools since they reflect the society in which they exist. Schools need funding for more than simply one important resource. They need…

  • a well rounded curriculum including physical education and the arts
  • support services including school nurses, social workers, counselors, psychologists, transportation, and academic specialists
  • early childhood education
  • special education
  • bilingual education
  • a stable, diverse, well-trained teaching force
  • teaching assistants
  • well maintained school facilities

In other words, all schools need the resources given to wealthy students, like those who attend Scarsdale Union Free School District, New York, or Weston School District, Connecticut.

The choices made by Merrow and his dinner companions were important, but only two of them acknowledged that the key to any change that stood a chance of having an impact on students was money. To his credit, Merrow’s suggestion, eliminating standardized testing, was the only suggestion of the five which would be free, and in fact save money. I would agree that, among other things, eliminating the waste that is the standardized testing program in the U.S. would be a benefit for all public school students and teachers.

Nothing will change, however, until the United States decides that its children are as important as, for example, its military.

“More money is a great idea, and so are equity and universal pre-school,” he said, “But I would want to do something that would make society commit to quality education.” He paused. “If I had the power, I would require every state to pledge to support the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because it states that education is a fundamental human right. That would move the needle.”

Later that evening I looked up the 1948 document, which has been translated into more than 500 languages. Sure enough, Article 26 states:

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

At that point everyone turned to me, and, even though I am much more comfortable asking questions than answering them, I plunged ahead. “I would eliminate standardized testing.”

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Posted in Article Medleys, CommonGood, Lead, reading, reform, SchoolFunding, Testing, vouchers, writing

2018 Medley #9

Lead, Trump’s Spelling Problem,
Vouchers, Testing, School Funding,
The Common Good, Bi-partisan Privatizers

STILL POISONING CHILDREN

Less than a month after tests show elevated lead levels in Flint, state stops distributing bottled water

The State of Michigan has declared the Flint Water Crisis over even though some elementary school water tests still show high lead limits.

Long term effects of childhood lead exposure include learning disabilities, speech disorders, lowered IQ, behavioral disorders, and hyperactivity. The city of around 100,000 is more than 50% African-American. 41% of its residents live below the poverty line.

Nestlé, on the other hand, gets all the crystal clear Michigan water it wants.

“Recent water tests at elementary schools in Flint have found an increase in samples showing lead levels above the federal action limit.”

That’s the opening line in an article in The Detroit News less than one month ago. Despite this, the state of Michigan, just days after turning control over the city back to local elected officials, declared the Flint Water Crisis over and announced that it is discontinuing providing bottled water to the city’s residents.

…the decision was announced a mere three days after the Snyder administration announced that it was approving a permit for Nestlé Waters North America to increase its withdrawal of ground water to produce Ice Mountain bottle water from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute — 576,000 gallons per day.

…as of April 11, 2018.

IMPROOV YUR SPELING

Trump would be better at spelling if he read

Stephen Krashen has some advice for our president. Less tweeting. More reading.

The March 26 letter “B-I-A-S” suggested that The Post has reached a “new low” in commenting on President Trump’s spelling errors. I don’t think The Post went deep enough. Mr. Trump’s poor spelling reflects problems far more serious than a failure to proofread. My research on language acquisition shows that poor spelling is often the result of not having a reading habit. Studies also show that those who read a lot know more about history and science. They also have greater empathy for others and understand that the world is complex. Mr. Trump is a perfect example of a nonreader, and his lack of a reading habit has hurt all of us.

VOUCHERS

Cumulative effect: Individual district budgets don’t fully reflect vouchers’ drain

Benjamin Franklin, in a 1780 letter to Richard Price, wrote

When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig’d to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.

The same is true of religious schools, which is why tax dollars should be reserved for public schools.

98% of schools receiving vouchers in Indiana are parochial schools. The other 2% are non-religious private schools.

The impact of the voucher program is not based on how many vouchers are used in your district. It is based on each year’s voucher program cost to the Tuition Support budget across the state, regardless of the number of vouchers used within the district. For example, Lebanon Schools lost more than $530,000, Plainfield Schools lost more than $770,000, and Carmel Schools lost more than $2,365,000 this year. Currently, there are 23 school districts where no vouchers are used. They are small districts and the voucher program costs them more than $4 million this year combined. Peru Schools is the largest of these districts and it lost more than $321,000.

Here are this year’s losses in Allen County: East Allen County Schools, $1.38 million; Fort Wayne Community Schools, $4.47 million; Northwest Allen County Schools, $1.13 million; and Southwest Allen County Schools, $1.08 million.

To make this complicated issue much simpler, and in honor of Fiona and Pi Day (March 14), think of a loganberry pie. Indiana has baked a smaller pie and expects it to feed a larger number of people. More kids, fewer dollars.

TESTING

The Testing Thermostat

A standardized test is like a home thermostat. A thermostat measures one thing – the temperature in one room. It doesn’t measure the quality of the roof construction, though that may have an impact on the temperature. It doesn’t measure the quality of the kitchen appliances, though that, too, might have an impact on the temperature.

Standardized tests should be used, like thermostats, to measure that for which they were designed. Using tests for measuring other things is a misuse of the test, and, if done for an entire school or state, educational malpractice.

Likewise, we will fail if we try to use the thermostat read-out to evaluate the efficiency of the power generating and delivery capabilities of our electric company, or evaluate the contractor who built the house (in my case, almost a hundred years ago), or evaluate the health and well-being of the people who live in the house– or to jump from there to judging the effectiveness of the doctor who treats the people who live in the house, or the medical school that trained that doctor.

At the end of the day, the thermostat really only measures one thing– the temperature right there, in the place where the thermostat is mounted. To use it to measure any other part of the house, or any other aspect of any other part of the house, or any aspect of the people who live in the other parts of the house– well, that just means we’re moving further and further out on a shaky limb of the Huge Inaccuracy Tree.

In this way, the thermostat is much like the Big Standardized Test– really only good at measuring one small thing, and not a reliable proxy for anything else.

Why the Best Teachers Don’t Give Tests

Alfie Kohn argues against tests…any tests.

Even allowing for variation in the design of the tests and the motives of the testers, however, the bottom line is that these instruments are typically more about measuring the number of facts that have been crammed into students’ short-term memories than they are about assessing understanding. Tests, including those that involve essays, are part of a traditional model of instruction in which information is transmitted to students (by means of lectures and textbooks) so that it can be disgorged later on command. That’s why it’s so disconcerting to find teachers who are proud of their student-centered approach to instruction, who embrace active and interactive forms of learning, yet continue to rely on tests as the primary, or even sole, form of assessment in their classrooms. (Some conflate the two ideas to the point that when they refer to “an assessment,” they never mean anything more than a test.)

SCHOOL FUNDING

Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card

Some students cost more to educate than others. That’s why charter schools and private voucher receiving schools work the system to avoid enrolling them.

Even among public schools however, there are some students who need more resources, specialized teachers, or specialized equipment. Those students will cost more to educate.

Students who grow up in high-poverty schools are often among those who are more expensive to educate. They need wraparound services not usually found in wealthier suburban schools. Their schools will need more teaching assistants, transportation options, nurses, social workers, counselors, and psychologists. States which fund schools equally are short-changing their students who grow up in poverty. Equality does not necessarily mean equity.

The majority of states have unfair funding systems with “flat” or “regressive” funding
distribution patterns that ignore the need for additional funding in high-poverty
districts. In 2015, only eleven states had progressive funding systems, down from a high
of twenty-two in 2008.

THE COMMON GOOD

If Not Now, When?

The common good stems from “promote the general welfare.” Government has a responsibility to take care of all the people, not just the wealthy. Public water systems, government maintained roads, highways and bridges, public parks, public libraries, and public schools are benefits for all. Even if you don’t drive the roads provide a way for goods and services to reach your home. Even if you don’t have children the public schools support the growth of the next generation of citizens. The common good, by definition, is good for everyone.

Their value is a strain of individualism that stands in opposition to the common good. Their strategies are: Promote fear and undermine public confidence in government as a vehicle to keep people safe. The goal is the further enrichment of the already privileged.

CORPORATE ED REFORM IS BIPARTISAN

Would Democrats Really Do Better Than Betsy DeVos on Education?

Are the Democrats in Indiana against the Republican privatization agenda because they believe in public schools, or just because they’re the opposition party? If the Democrats ever become the majority will they be able to resist the lure of corporate/privatization campaign dollars?

So THAT’S their game!

CAP is playing the long con here. They are putting forward a bunch of puppy dog and teddy bear proposals to contrast with Trump and DeVos.

These aren’t policies as much as they are advertisements for the Democratic party. It’s the equivalent of saying, “We promise we’ll do good things like THESE if you elect Democrats – despite the fact that we mainly focused on standardization and privatization when we were in power.”

Look. Maybe I’m being too cynical.

Maybe the Democrats really, really are going to do a better job this time, cross their hearts and hope to die, if we give them just one more chance.

But words aren’t nearly enough.

I like many of these policy suggestions. But I just don’t trust the Democrats.

The brand has been tainted for me by the Clinton and Obama administrations – by leadership from the same people who are making these suggestions.

In short – I’ll believe it when I see it.

Former Secretaries of Education Duncan (Obama) and Spellings (G.W.Bush)
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Posted in DeVos, Oklahoma, SchoolFunding

DeVos Doesn’t Understand “what’s right for kids.”

[This post is being republished. The original post had an erroneous quote. I appreciate all the “proofreaders” among readers who keep me focused and offer corrections when I make an error.]

Teachers in Oklahoma (and Kentucky, West Virginia, perhaps Arizona, and maybe your state, next), are up in arms about low pay, poor working conditions, and the general lack of support for public schools. Tax breaks for the wealthy means reduced state revenues and less support for public schools, public school teachers, and public school students.

So teachers have walked out.

Cue Betsy DeVos, the billionaire who never worked a day in her life, who knows nothing about public education (having never experienced it as a student, teacher, or parent), and who bought her job as Secretary of Education by bribing senators with campaign contributions.

Betsy DeVos to Oklahoma teachers: ‘Serve the students’

“I think about the kids,” DeVos said Thursday, according to The Dallas Morning News. She had been touring a middle school and meeting with leaders of an anti-violence initiative in Dallas. “I think we need to stay focused on what’s right for kids. And I hope that adults would keep adult disagreements and disputes in a separate place, and serve the students that are there to be served.”

DeVos is conveniently able to compartmentalize adult and child…to keep them separate. If she had any experience with public education, however, she’d understand that separating the needs of children and adults in an educational setting is damn near impossible.

She seems to think, for example, that adults who work in a school work in a vacuum into which the outside world doesn’t reach. She fails to understand that every cut in funding, every increase in testing (and accompanying costs), every job lost, every incident of gun violence, every increase in ICE detentions, every dollar lost to corporate tax breaks, has an impact on our classrooms.

Perhaps she believes, like Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, that teachers are just striking so they can get a better car.

IT’S MORE THAN JUST SALARIES

Most news reporting, while sometimes mentioning the lack of school funding, focuses on teachers salaries, because, in the past, when a group of workers has gone on strike, it’s been for higher wages and better working conditions. Workers have rarely, if ever, gone on strike to improve conditions for their clients.

So it’s hard for selfish, “I’ve got mine, get your own,” anti-common-good, no-more-taxers (on the rich) to understand that there are reasons for the current teacher actions that go beyond teacher salaries.

Teachers across the country have finally had enough of the teacher pay penalty

Teachers are concerned with a range of issues, from books and supplies to safe buildings.

These crumbling textbooks show why Oklahoma teachers are walking out

Scarberry is one of several teachers and parents in Oklahoma who have shared photos and stories via social media of crumbling, outdated textbooks as part of their plea for more education funding. Some are posted on the “Oklahoma Teacher Walkout — The Time Is Now!” Facebook page.

The state of the textbooks go a long way toward explaining why thousands of teachers in Oklahoma left their classrooms and rallied at the state capital on Monday and Tuesday, asking for teacher and support staff raises, as well as better funding for their schools and students.

Would you want your child sitting on one of these broken desks?

…or using these Government and History books circa 19?? and a dozen books doesn’t seem like it’s enough for a whole class, does it?

Teachers know it’s not just about salaries.

  • Teachers want clean, up-to-date textbooks – enough for an entire class.
  • Teachers want to stop spending an average of $500 a year on classroom supplies (that’s a national average, so the actual amount spent in high-poverty schools, and schools without adequate funding, is probably more).
  • Teachers want to work in schools where they – and their students – have clean, working bathrooms.

Teachers are not the only ones affected if schools don’t have supplies, adequate facilities, up to date learning materials, and safe classrooms.

It has an impact on our children…the children who will make up the citizenry of the future…so, by extension, all of us.

On the other hand, perhaps DeVos understands this all too well. Improvements in public education would sabotage her efforts to have all public schools labeled as “failing” which would, in turn, sabotage her dream of nation-wide school privatization.

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Posted in Children'sLiterature, Public Ed, Quotes, Racism, research, SchoolFunding, Teaching Career

Listen to This #16

THE FUTURE

The United States seems to be going out of its way to damage public education and discourage public school teachers. We ignore the voices of educators and ignore current educational research (much of which is done in the U.S.) used by high achieving nations. Instead we listen to edupreneurs interested in profit, politicians looking for kickbacks, and policy makers who don’t know anything about teaching, public schools, or public education.

We create “failing schools” by defining success using narrow, standardized test-based results and force teachers to teach in ways they know are developmentally or academically inappropriate. In addition we ignore out of school factors that lead to lowered student standardized test-based achievement.

Finally, we create educational models which discourage young people from choosing education as a career and push out current career teachers. We use “failing schools” as an excuse to blame teachers, bust unions, and privatize. Meanwhile, the needs of our most vulnerable students are being neglected.

From Carl Sagan in 1989.

…we have permitted the amount of poverty in children to increase. Before the end of this century more than half the kids in America may be below the poverty line.

What kind of a future do we build for the country if we raise all these kids as disadvantaged, as unable to cope with the society, as resentful for the injustice served up to them. This is stupid.

DISCOURAGING TEACHERS

How America Is Breaking Public Education

From Ethan Siegel, Forbes

…despite knowing what a spectacular teacher looks like, the educational models we have in place actively discourage every one of these.

TEACHING IS MORE THAN FACT TRANSFER

Open Letter to Fellow NC Public School Teachers – What We Do Still Cannot Really Be Measured

This is true for teachers everywhere…

From Stu Egan

How schools and students are measured rarely takes into account that so much more defines the academic and social terrain of a school culture than a standardized test can measure. Why? Because there really is not anything like a standardized student. Experienced teachers understand that because they look at students as individuals who are the sum of their experiences, backgrounds, work ethic, and self-worth. Yet, our General Assembly measures them with the very same criteria across the board with an impersonal test.

WALK A MILE IN OUR SHOES

The Educational Malpractice of Ms. Moskowitz

tl;dr: Before you tell teachers what and how to teach, do it yourself. Then, after you’ve taught for a lifetime, let us know how you feel about someone who has never spent a day in a classroom calling you “stupid” and “lazy.”

This is a long quote, but well worth it…and click the link above to read the whole article.

From Mitchell Robinson on Eclectablog

I am beyond tired—beyond exhausted, really—of persons who have never taught anyone anything lecturing the rest of us who have about what we are doing wrong, how stupid we are, how lazy we are, and how they know better than we do when it comes to everything about teaching and learning. How about this, Eva and Elizabeth?–instead of pontificating about things you are equally arrogant and ignorant of, why don’t you each go back to school, get an education degree, or two, or three, get certified, do an internship (for free–in fact, pay a bunch of money to do so), or two, or three, then see if you can find a job in a school. Then, teach.I don’t care what you teach; what grade level; what subject. But stick it out for at least a school year. Write your lesson plans. Grade your papers and projects. Go to all of those grade level meetings, and IEP meetings, and school board meetings, and budget negotiation meetings, and union meetings, and curriculum revision meetings, and curriculum re-revision meetings, and teacher evaluation meetings, and “special area” meetings, and state department of education meetings, and professional development in-services, and parent-teacher conferences, and open houses, and attend all those concerts, and football games, and dance recitals, and basketball games, and soccer matches, and lacrosse games, and honor band concerts, and school musicals, and tennis matches, and plays, and debates, and quiz bowl competitions, and marching band shows, and cheerleading competitions, and swim meets.

Then do it all 10, or 20, or 30 more times, and let me know how you feel about someone who never did ANY of these things, even for a “few lessons“, telling you how stupid, and lazy you are, and how you’re being a “defender of the status quo” if you’re not really excited to immediately implement their “radical, disruptive” ideas about how to “save public education.”

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF EDUCATION?

IN: Diminishing Education

The Indiana State Board of Education ignored the input of dozens of teachers and administrators. They didn’t ignore the input from the Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Manufacturers Association by a vote of 7-4. All four of the “no” votes came from experienced educators.

Who do you think knows more about public education, educators or business people?

From Peter Greene

But to say that you cannot graduate until you prove that you can be a useful meat widget for a future employer– that idea represents a hollowing out of educational goals. Be a good citizen? Become a fine parent? Lifelong learning? Developing a deeper, better more well-rounded picture of who you can become as a person, while better understanding what it means to be human in the world? Screw that stuff, kid. Your future employer has the only question that matters– “What can you do for me, kid?”

Earning an Indiana high school diploma just became a lot more complicated

From NWI.com

The new requirements are strongly supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Manufacturers Association…

Teachers, principals and superintendents from across Indiana told the state school board during six hours of public testimony Wednesday that the rush to adopt graduation pathways before finalizing how they’ll work inevitably will result in another Indiana education fiasco, akin to extra-long standardized testing and the repeatedly revised school accountability grades.

WHY DON’T WE USE OUR OWN RESEARCH?

FreshEd #97 – Should we copy Finland’s education system? (Pasi Sahlberg)

This run-on quote by Finnish educator Past Sahlberg asks why high performing nations are using the newest research on education, much of it coming out of the United States…but we, in the U.S. are ignoring it and continuing our test and punish ways?

From Pasi Sahlberg

…why people are not really taking their own research seriously? How can it be that in the United States, day in and day out, people come across great books and research reports and others and they say, no, this is not how it goes, but when you cross the border, just north of the US, go to Canada, and you see how differently policy makers, politicians, and everybody takes the global international research nowadays, and they consider their findings and look at the findings of the research compared to their own practice and policies and their finding inconsistencies there just like in Finland, they are willing and able to change the course. But not in the US.

BUDGET CONSTRAINTS

Billionaires get handouts. My students don’t even get toilet paper.

Would you work at a place where the budget was so tight that you were allotted one roll of toilet paper a year?

Could you run your classroom on one roll of toilet paper per school year? How can a “civilized” society treat any of its citizens in this manner? How can we treat our children like this?

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela.

From Katherine Brezler, a second-grade teacher in The Bronx and a candidate for New York State Senate in the 37th District.

While billionaires get a handout, my students — and students across the country — get one roll of toilet paper. Every year that I’ve been a teacher, that roll is gone well before the year is over. Simple hygienic necessities should not be subject to budget constraints. Our teachers and students deserve dignity and respect.

FACING RACISM

Looking Back: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I’ve been saving this quote. It contains material which has been difficult for me to confront. The Looking Back article, from the blog, Reading While White, deals with the children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, its racist content, and the racism of its author, Roald Dahl.

There is no denying that Roald Dahl was a racist and anti-semite and those prejudices leaked into his work. [See here, here, and here.] I accept that.

I accept the fact that Dahl and his agents attempted to purge the book of its more blatant expressions of racism by rewriting the Oompa Loompas as non-black and non-African pygmies in the second and later editions, as well as the movies based on the book. I also accept that those rewrites did not completely remove all offensive elements from the book.

The quote below deals with how to come to terms with a beloved book, and I do love this book, which is so obviously flawed. The author wonders if her love of the book was not based on the actual book, but on the circumstances of her exposure: a favorite teacher and a highly motivating environment and study of the book.

What if, she asks, we had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory critically?

[Full disclosure: My son, a children’s librarian in the Midwest, is one of the authors of the Reading While White blog, though he did not write this particular post.]

From Elisa Gall in Reading While White

…every time that critical voice or bubble of discomfort arose, I chose not to pay attention to it. It was selective memory, because I did not want to let this book go. I have to call that what it really is: White fragility (and other kinds of fragility, considering the myriad ways this book is problematic). I can’t help but wonder now if my love for this book wasn’t caused by Dahl’s craft at all, but by the joy of remembering reading the book all by myself, or the kickass teacher who made her class immersive and fun (let’s not forget the bathtub). Still, it’s worth noting that criticisms of this book are not new. As long as there have been children’s books, there have been people working against racism in children’s books. My teacher was awesome in a lot of ways, but she did put time and effort into a celebration of THAT title. What if we had read something else? Or what if we had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory critically?

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Posted in Article Medleys, Charters, Equity, NPE, OECD, PISA, SchoolFunding, Segregation, special education, Testing

A Report on Reports

Need something to do this weekend?

Here is a chance to get dig deeper into some issues important to public education. Below are links to reports about school inequity, special education, vouchers, segregation, charter schools, and other topics of interest.

You can learn how

  • the election of 2016 has caused stress and conflict in the nation’s high schools
  • public investment in education has declined
  • international test scores don’t tell the whole story about public education in the U.S.
  • charter schools drain money and resources from actual public schools
  • socio-economic status continues to be the most accurate predictor of academic success

ISSUES ABOUT MONEY, FUNDING, AND POVERTY

Education inequalities at the school starting gate

Economic inequities abound in the U.S. and schools are not equipped to address all the issues facing children alone. Policy makers and legislators must work with schools by providing funding for wraparound services, a fully funded school curriculum, and strategies to improve economic development in communities. Ignoring inequity, or asking schools to perform miracles without necessary resources is a guarantee of failure.

From Emma García and Elaine Weiss, the Economic Policy Institute

What this study finds: Extensive research has conclusively demonstrated that children’s social class is one of the most significant predictors—if not the single most significant predictor—of their educational success. Moreover, it is increasingly apparent that performance gaps by social class take root in the earliest years of children’s lives and fail to narrow in the years that follow. That is, children who start behind stay behind—they are rarely able to make up the lost ground…

What can be done about it: Greater investments in pre-K programs can narrow the gaps between students at the start of school. And to ensure that these early gains are maintained, districts can provide continued comprehensive academic, health, nutrition, and emotional support for children through their academic years, including meaningful engagement of parents and communities. Such strategies have been successfully implemented in districts around the country, as described in this report, and can serve to mitigate the impact of economic inequalities on children’s educational achievement and improve their future life and work prospects.

A Punishing Decade for School Funding

We are ignoring the underfunding of schools and services for our children and the future of the nation is at stake. Instead of planning for the future with an investment in our children, we’re living “paycheck to paycheck” and ignoring the fact that we are limiting the future of a huge number of our children…which limits the future of our nation.

From Michael Leachman, Kathleen Masterson, and Eric Figueroa, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Public investment in K-12 schools — crucial for communities to thrive and the U.S. economy to offer broad opportunity — has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade. Worse, some of the deepest-cutting states have also cut income tax rates, weakening their main revenue source for supporting schools.

Separate and Unequal: A Comparison of Student Outcomes in New York City’s Most and Least Diverse Schools

Yet another study which shows that diverse school populations helps children and segregation harms them. Have we given up trying to abide by the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling?

From David E. Kirkland and Joy L. Sanzone, NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of School

Diversity along lines of race and socioeconomic status seemed to modestly close achievement gaps (i.e., opportunity gaps), while hyper-segregation seemed to greatly exacerbate them (i.e., opportunity barrier). 

Deconstructing the Myth of American Public Schooling Inefficiency

Betsy DeVos continues to use international rankings in order to criticize, blame, and demean our nation’s public schools. Rarely, if ever, does she include the fact that poverty has been, and continues to be, the societal problem which contributes the most to our average achievement. She rarely discusses the fact that American students from low-poverty schools score higher than any students in the world. She only uses the “failure” of public education as a tool to transfer the billions of education dollars into private pocketbooks.

The following report discusses some of the apples-to-oranges problems of comparing the U.S. to other advanced nations.

From Bruce D. Baker and Mark Weber, the Albert Shanker Institute

The United States is faced with a combination of seemingly high education expense, but noncompetitive compensation for its teachers, average to large classes, and high child poverty. Again, it’s hard to conceive how such a combination would render the U.S. comparable in raw test scores to low-poverty nations like Korea or Finland, or small, segregated, homogeneous enclaves like Singapore or Shanghai…

Finally, it is equally important to understand the magnitude and heterogeneity of the U.S. education system in the context of OECD comparisons, which mainly involve more centralized and much smaller education systems. Lower-poverty, higher-spending states that have been included in international comparisons, like Connecticut and Massachusetts, do quite well, while lower-spending higher-poverty states like Florida do not. This unsurprising finding, however, also tells us little about relative efficiency, and provides little policy guidance for how we might make Florida more like Massachusetts, other than by waving a wand and making it richer, more educated and perhaps several degrees colder.

POLITICS AND ITS IMPACT ON EDUCATION

Teaching and Learning in the Age of Trump: Increasing Stress and Hostility in America’s High Schools

During the years I taught I often stopped to reflect upon how politicians and policy makers seemed intent at making the job of teaching harder.

Today’s political climate is no different. The election of 2016 has had an impact on our public schools beyond policy…

From John Rogers, UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access

VI. Educators can mitigate some of these challenges, but they need more support. Ultimately, political leaders need to address the underlying causes of campus incivility and stress.

  • 72.3% of teachers surveyed agreed that: “My school leadership should provide more guidance, support, and professional development opportunities on how to promote civil exchange and greater understanding across lines of difference.”
  • 91.6% of teachers surveyed agreed that: “national, state, and local leaders should encourage and model civil exchange and greater understanding across lines of difference.” Almost as many (83.9%) agreed that national and state leaders should “work to alleviate the underlying factors that create stress and anxiety for young people and their families.”

PRIVATIZATION

Charters and Consequences: An Investigative Series

The Network for Public Education reports on charter schools and their impact on real public schools, public school systems, public educators, and our nation’s students, the vast majority of whom attend public schools.

[Full disclosure: I contribute to, and am a member of, the Network for Public Education.]

From the Network for Public Education

• An immediate moratorium on the creation of new charter schools, including no replication or expansion of existing charter schools
• The transformation of for-profit charters to non-profit charters
• The transformation of for-profit management organizations to non-profit management organizations
• All due process rights for charter students that are afforded public school students, in all matters of discipline
• Required certification of all school teaching and administrative staff
• Complete transparency in all expenditures and income
• Requirements that student bodies reflect the demographics of the served community
• Open meetings of the board of directors, posted at least 2 weeks prior on the charter’s website
• Annual audits available to the public
• Requirements to follow bidding laws and regulations
• Requirements that all properties owned by the charter school become the property of the local public school if the charter closes
• Requirements that all charter facilities meet building codes
• Requirements that charters offer free or reduced-price lunch programs for students
• Full compensation from the state for all expenditures incurred when a student leaves the public school to attend a charter
• Authorization, oversight and renewal of charters transferred to the local district in which they are located
• A rejection of all ALEC legislation regarding charter schools that advocates for less transparency, less accountability, and the removal of requirements for teacher certification.

SPECIAL EDUATION

Federal Actions Needed to Ensure Parents Are Notified About Changes in Rights for Students with Disabilities

Two things in this section, first, an article discussing the GAO Report. Then a short blurb from the report itself.

From Elise Helgesen Aguilar, Americans United for Separation of Church and State

A New Government Report Shows Private School Voucher Programs Fail To Provide Information, Especially To Families Of Students With Disabilities

Specifically, it found that most private school voucher programs do not provide necessary or even accurate information to parents of students with disabilities about the rights those students forfeit by enrolling at a private voucher school.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that students with disabilities are provided with certain rights and services in public schools, including a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs.

But students who leave the public schools with a voucher forfeit many of those protections because they are considered parentally placed in private schools. For example, students accepting vouchers are not entitled to FAPE or to the due process rights that students in public schools have.

Many parents are not aware that they are giving up those rights when enroll their child in a private school voucher program. In fact, the report found that one-third of all voucher programs across the country do not provide any information to parents about the loss of procedural safeguards and due process protections under IDEA.

From the U.S. Government Accountability Office

Our draft report also included a recommendation for Education to require states to notify parents/guardians of changes in students’ federal special education rights, including that key IDEA rights and protections do not apply when a student with a disability is moved from public to private school by their parent. In response, Education stated that IDEA does not include statutory authority to require such notice, and suggested that the department instead encourage states to notify parents. However, as noted in our draft report, Education already strongly encourages states and school districts to provide such notice. Despite these efforts, we found that in 2016-17, more than 80 percent of students nationwide who are enrolled in private choice programs designed for students with about changes in IDEA rights, or provided some inaccurate information about these changes. We therefore continue to believe that states should be required, not merely encouraged, to notify parents/guardians about key changes in federal special education rights when a parent moves a child with a disability from public to private school. To this end, we have converted our recommendation into a Matter for Congressional Consideration to require such notice.

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Posted in Charters, class size, EdTech, Homeless Children, NewsMedia, Ohio, SchoolFunding, Taxes

By the Numbers

Some random numbers to ponder during the Thanksgiving Recess…

TWO DOWN…AND MORE TO COME

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

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

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

And in Section 3, that

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

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

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

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

They may not be the last.

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

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

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

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

STARK DIFFERENCES

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

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

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

FIVE ADMISSIONS

5 times Republicans admitted they work for rich donors

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

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

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

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

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

16% CANCELLED PROGRAMS

Illinois’ teacher shortage and pension theft.

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

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

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

$170 MILLION

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

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

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

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

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

FUDGING ATTENDANCE

Weekly Privatization Report 11-20-2017

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

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

$100,000 FOR HOMELESS…OR FOR DEER?

Saving human lives is more important than killing deer

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

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

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

800,000 MORE STUDENTS AND FEWER PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEES

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

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

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

8 WAYS TO SPOT FAKE NEWS

From Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Survival tips for the attack on democracy. Worth circulating.

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