"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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2014 Medley #13

Relationships, Teaching Profession,
Segregation, Charters


A friend wrote the following about a former student of hers. Her entire statement is proof of the power of positive relationships in the classroom. The goal of education should be to build lifelong learners, not test takers. Skills like perseverance will be of greater benefit than parsing sentences or finding the greatest common factor of two numbers.

Academics are important, but it's who we are and who our students grow to be that determines our success in life...much more than the facts we know or our score on the SAT or other test.

"Intelligence is knowing what to do when you don't know what to do."
One of the most wonderful things I have had the opportunity to experience as a teacher is watching one of my former students grow into a strong and beautiful young woman. This one student has emailed me a few times a year to keep me updated on school and her life since she moved on from my 6th grade class. Now she is graduating high school!

I went back to read the very first email she had sent me in August 2008. She made a promise to me in that email that she would try harder and she would always remember all the "lectures" (this was "real" talk) I gave and use them. She promised this because "I know you cared." She made good on her promises!


Teaching and learning are not market transactions...

Four decades ago more than 20% of college graduates finished their studies with a degree in education. Indeed, when I received my teaching certificate in 1975 (a few years later than the data in the chart below) there was a glut of elementary school teachers. I sent out well over 100 resumes (with information about my 4.0 graduate school GPA) to public school systems in the Midwest. I received three responses...and from those three, I was able to get 2 interviews...and eventually one (1) job.

That's all changed.

With all the "reformer's" hype about "bad teachers" and "high quality teachers" America is systematically destroying the teaching profession. While bemoaning the fact that teachers are terrible, people like Arne Duncan, Jeb Bush and some members of the Indiana State Board of Education are supporting the placement of untrained people in public school classrooms.

Is this attitude of "reformers" simple stupidity? malice? jealousy? greed?

The graphic below shows a drop from about 20% in 1970 to about 6% today in college students graduating with education degrees. If you factor in the fact that nearly half of all beginning teachers never make it to their fifth year the number is even smaller. If someone had purposely designed a plan to destroy the profession of teaching in the public schools of America they couldn't have done a better job. Where will tomorrow's teachers come from? Perhaps we won't need any.

See also:
Digest of Educational Statistics
Fewer PA college students want to be teachers
Education Majors in PA. State Universities Drop 31% - Corbett's Mission Accomplished
Students hesitant to pursue teaching
Enrollment falling among education majors
Hard economic lesson: Education majors decline: Financial, political factors discourage would-be teachers
Education Majors Earn Less Regardless of Career
Number of teachers in training down statewide
The 5 Worst College Majors If You Want to Make Money


American schools are now more segregated then they have been in the past 50 years. Charter schools have contributed to the increase in segregation, but most is due to housing patterns.

The two articles below discuss the successes and failures of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

Michigan 1 of 20 states with most-segregated schools
Segregation is still widespread at American public schools, 60 years after the landmark Brown v. Topeka Board of Education ruling, a new report shows.

And it no longer impacts just black and white students.

Black and Latino students are more likely to attend schools with mostly poor students, while white and Asian students are more likely to attend middle-class schools, according to a report released Thursday by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.
Are Segregated Schools a Relic?
The 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education is a propitious time to ask if the landmark decision has achieved its primary goal. In a provocative essay, Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom acknowledge that the number of "majority-minority" schools has increased by several percentage points over the past two decades ("Brown at 60: An American Success Story,"The Wall Street Journal, May 13). But they assert that it is logistically impossible to entirely eliminate segregated schools unless mass busing is instituted.
Rucker Johnson has an interesting historical perspective on how reduced segregation improved the achievement of minority students while not harming the achievement of white students.


Six Charter School Myths; my testimony before the City Council today

Leonie Haimson had this to say about charters in New York...
...charter schools are publicly funded but governed by private corporate boards, and do NOT have to follow the same laws or rules that public schools do.

...Charters are not governed by any democratically elected body, and are able to enact extreme disciplinary policies, and often exhibit high suspension and student attrition rates.

...Charter schools have also used their private status to evade federal constitutional and statutory protections for employees and students.
Everything that Charter Schools Have Taught Traditional Educators About Building Great Schools

An editorial cartoon...

The Money

A Reader Explains the Purpose of Charter School Waiting Lists and Lotteries

The bottom line for charter administrators and boards is money, not students or parents as this comment by a former charter employee shows...
I once recommended to the principal that we stop taking applications after a certain point. I had two reasons for suggesting this: 1) We were giving families false hope, as anyone other than the first five to ten on the waiting list had no realistic chance of getting in, and 2) We could make better use of the time and money being spent on processing applications for students we knew would never be accepted, and on marketing to more families when we were already at capacity. His response was that we needed to keep adding as many names as possible to the waiting list, so that we would have numbers to back up our organization’s efforts to demonstrate the need for more charter schools.
Agassi’s School Partner Aims for $1 Billion With Firm

There's not much about students in this article about Andre Agassi's charter school plans. They talk about high expectations, but my guess is that their talking about money. The point is once again that the goal is greed, not student learning.
The goal is to generate a profit for investors while serving a higher public purpose, said Turner, principal and chief executive officer of the new firm. Public-impact investing, which dedicates funds to issues such as education, community development, the environment and health care, has been increasing and is likely to climb further this year, according to JPMorgan Chase and Co. and the Global Impact Investing Network, which studied 125 companies that manage a total of $46 billion in such investments.

‘It’s Proven’
The Politics

Jeb Bush bashes traditional public schools (again)

Jeb Bush is running for president and he's filling the airwaves with half truths about charter schools and public schools. The bad news is that people will hear and believe what he says.
He didn’t, of course, mention that schools in the [charter] network have a reputation for higher suspension and attrition rates than traditional schools in their districts.

...He didn’t mention the recent analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times and the Medill Data Project at Northwestern University that concluded that students at charter schools in Chicago actually don’t perform any better on state-mandated standardized tests than students in traditional public schools.

...What he didn’t mention was a big charter school study last year that concluded that Florida charter schools had math and reading test scores that were either no better or worse than traditional public schools.

...he didn’t mention that research showed private and public schools don’t educate the same populations of students and that many private schools that accept vouchers have high attrition rates and don’t have the same “accountability” measures involving high-stakes standardized testing that is required in public schools.

...He also didn’t mention a recent report by the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas, funded by pro-voucher groups, that concluded that Milwaukee’s voucher program, the oldest and largest in the country, didn’t affect student test scores but did improve graduation rates. But it should be noted that more than half of the students who enrolled in the voucher program dropped out, which, one would be reasonable to assume, affected the graduation rates.


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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