"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

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Medley #1

Victories for Public Education, Testing, Charters, 
Privatization, Evaluations, Teaching Careers, Poverty.

The Best of 2012

Diane Ravitch has a list of pro-public education victories for the year 2012 including:

  • Tony Bennett in Indiana
  • Luna Laws in Idaho
  • Vouchers in Florida
  • Mayoral Control in Bridgeport Connecticut
  • Parent Trigger in Florida
  • "Won't Back Down"
  • Louisiana Judge strikes down Voucher plan
  • Anna Song for school board in Santa Clara County, California
  • More than 80% of School Boards in Texas sign resolutions against high-stakes testing
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg, NC Superintendent Morrison Calls for a Moratorium on Testing
  • Perrin-Whitt, TX Superintendent John Kuhn continues to speak out
...and more. Read about them.
2012 was a year in which supporters of public education–parents, educators and concerned citizens–won some huge victories against the privatization movement.


National Opt Out Day January 7

Here's a good idea for everyone who works with children. Make it a point to end the depersonalization of children through test scores and "data points."
Teachers, as you plan how to resist corporate education reform and rebuild public schools on National Opt Out Day (Jan.7th) - or any day for that matter - here is one way to do it - do not allow others to refer to children based on their test scores. Children cannot be called "UnSats" or "Partials" or any other label attached to a number.


The Hoover Institute's Amazing Discoveries

Corporate charters continue to show that the problem with education in the US is poverty.
“Charter School Performance in New Jersey,” includes a repudiation of everything that the Hoover Institute has advocated. It compares outcomes for 77% of their study's charter school students with those of their peers in traditional public schools (TPS). It finds that in four of the five major cities with the most charters (Camden, Trenton, Jersey City, and Paterson) that charter students learn significantly less than their (TPS) peers in reading, and there are no differences in learning gains in math. CREDO’s charter school advocates acknowledge that, “much of the motivation for developing charter schools aims at improving education outcomes for students in poverty," as they report that low income charter students received no significant benefits in reading.

The Selling Out of Newark's Schools: Part II

Children as widgets...
What do Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Skype CFO Jonathan Chadwick, Benchmark Capital general partner Bill Gurley and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings have in common, besides the filthy rich tech rockstar thing?

They’re among a dozen or so Silicon Valley personalities who’ve put money into Rocketship Education this year. Rocketship is a network of “hybrid” charter schools that put kids in front of computers for a large amount of the school day. Many in the education industry hope Rocketship’s model will prove Silicon Valley can disrupt (and make money in) the k-12 school system.

Corporate Charters are Private Schools Using Public Funds

Here are two responses to the decision that, for labor relations purposes, Charters are private entities. The sham that corporate charters are public schools has been blown apart. They are simply private companies who divert taxpayer money from real public schools.

Charter school ruled private entity for labor relations
Now we have a decision by the board, made last month and just publicized, involving efforts by teachers at the Chicago Math and Science Academy to form a union. Teachers organized under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, which regulates labor relations between public schools and their employees, with two-thirds of the teachers voting in favor, according to WBEZ.org. The private managers of the academy, however, wanted the process to be held under federal law and appealed to the NLRB, which handles labor relations in the private sector.

There is variation in how different states deal with labor issues regarding charter schools, WBEZ said. Some don’t allow charter school teachers to unionize, while others mandate that charter teachers belong to the same union as teachers in traditional public schools.

The evidence that public education is being privatized keeps mounting.

It's Official: Charters are NOT Public Schools
Sorry, but it's not gray in the slightest. Charters are not subject to the same oversight, accountability, and legislation as public schools. They don't have to take every student who shows up at their door at any time of year. They don't have to serve the same population of students as their neighboring public schools: often, they don't.

And now we know charter school teachers are subject to different laws - laws governing private companies - than public school teachers.

The next time some reformy charter cheerleader tries to tell you that charters are public schools, tell them the federal government already settled the issue:

Charters are not public schools.

The debate is over.

ADDING: Oh, my...

Boy, that privatization is working out so awesome, ain't it?

Privatization or Public Education?

It's worth your time to follow Privatization Watch. Privatization is not just happening to public education. Other public sector services are under attack -- toll roads, lotteries, prisons, parking meters, airports, welfare benefits, vehicle driver licensing. Tax money is given to private contractors. This has always happened, of course, but when a private company owns the toll roads, for example, where is the public oversight for handing out bids for maintenance and repair? The assumption that "private is always better than government" isn't always true as we witnessed in 2008.
“[Privatization] severs the connection between public schools and the civic purposes for which they were established and that justify the use of taxpayer dollars to fund them. Implicit in this vision is the notion that the benefits of education accrue first and foremost to individuals and that public benefits are simply the sum of private ones.

“Second, it rejects the notion of an education system. Those who view education primarily as a collection of independent schools serving private interests have few incentives to assure that multiple stakeholders — students, teachers, administrators, policy makers, the business community and others — work together through democratic institutions in pursuit of common goals.

“Third, the private education vision leaves little room for principles of social justice and the commitment to equal educational opportunity for all children. By emphasizing privatization and competition rather than community and cooperation, it trivializes the whole notion of “public” education. Nor does it take responsibility for addressing the special challenges that disadvantaged children bring with them when they walk through the schoolhouse door.


The fundamental flaws of ‘value added’ teacher evaluation

Departments of education, state legislatures, governor's offices, and other so-called "reformers" continue to push for value added models for teacher evaluations.
  1. Value-added models of teacher effectiveness are highly unstable. Teachers’ ratings differ substantially from class to class and from year to year, as well as from one test to another.
  2. Teachers’ value-added ratings are significantly affected by differences in the students who are assigned to them, even when models try to control for prior achievement and student demographic variables. In particular, teachers with large numbers of new English learners and others with special needs have been found to show lower gains than the same teachers who are teaching other students.
  3. Value-added ratings cannot disentangle the many influences on student progress. These include home, school and student factors that influence student learning gains and that matter more than the individual teacher in explaining changes in test scores.


Why schools used to be better

Marion Brady offers some insight into how the so-called "reform" movement has damaged education in America.
Up until this generation of kids — before business leaders and politicians took control of schooling, before No Child Left Behind, before Race to the Top, before high-stakes testing, before the drive to super-standardize, before the not-enough-rigor hysteria — a usefully descriptive word for America’s system of education was “loose.”

In that earlier era, I taught in four high schools. They differed — rural, urban, rich, poor, big, small — but on certain measures, they were alike.

...my professional judgment was respected. I was free to capitalize on what educators call “teachable moments,” free to make use of local issues, free to appropriately pace instruction, free to experiment with alternative approaches, free to adapt to a class’s distinctive “personality.” And probably most importantly, I was free from mandates directing me to try to standardize kids

...all the schools offered more elective classes than are now available

...no test-based, stress-creating fog of fear permeated the four schools


Two articles by Stephen Krashen focusing on the true villain in American education...a child poverty rate nearing 25%.

The "real hurdle" in educational reform: Poverty
We are investing billions in new standards and tests, and there is no research indicating that this will help children. Instead, we should be investing in improved nutrition programs, improved health care, and a greater investment in libraries and librarians, a move that is well-supported by research.

We need to invest in feeding the animal, not just weighing it.
Fiction/nonfiction debate a diversion from the big question: Should we have common core standards?
The rational for the standards is the belief that our schools are "broken." There is no evidence this is true: Middle class American students who attend well-funded schools score at the top of the world on international tests. Our unspectacular scores are because US has such a high percentage of child poverty, 23.1%, the second-highest percentage among 34 economically advanced countries. High-scoring Finland has less than 5.3% child poverty.

*References to charters generally imply corporate, for-profit charter schools. Quotes from other writers reflect their opinions only. See It's Important to Look in a Mirror Now and Then.


Stop the Testing Insanity!


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