10/2/2014 – Student Protests Are A Big Deal

THIS WEEK: Transformation, Not Reform … No Art For Poor Kids … Lowering Test Score Influence … Online Reading Gap Worse … Wealthy Fuel Education Gap


Student Protests Are A Bigger Deal Than You Think

By Jeff Bryant

“When hundreds of high school students across a suburban school district outside of Denver, CO recently walked out of classes to protest a history curriculum, it quickly became national news … But it’s even bigger than you think.”
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Public Education System Needs Transformation Not-Reform

The Nation

Editors of The Nation write, “The strategies pursued by education reformers frequently dovetail with those of austerity hawks. The latter burnish their conservative credentials by cutting budgets and defunding schools. The reformers sweep in to capitalize on the situation … The havoc wreaked by so-called education reform has had the upside of crystallizing a movement of parents, teachers, school staffers and kids who are fighting for education justice … A truly progressive vision for public education shouldn’t focus on stories of how a few kids competed their way out of blighted neighborhoods. Instead, it should focus on taking back that stream of money going to charter chains and corporate tax cuts and redirecting it toward schools anchored in strong communities and using proven methods for teaching kids.”
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Why The Kids Who Most Need Arts Education Aren’t Getting It

The Washington Post

On the blog of education journalist Valerie Strauss, Michael Sokolove writes, “Arts instruction in America’s schools is something that almost everyone agrees is a great idea. Just, apparently, not for all children … The reason is no great mystery: The accountability movement in education … has resulted in a zero-sum equation in America’s schools. Time spent on anything other than the essential mission of elevating test scores is too often perceived as time wasted … Arts education is not just for privileged kids. It’s not an extra or a frill, no matter how desperately some students may struggle to grasp the basics of reading and math.”
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New School Evaluations Will Lower Test Scores’ Influence

The New York Times

“New York City is overhauling its system for evaluating schools, de-emphasizing test scores in favor of measures like the strength of the curriculum and the school environment, and doing away with an overall A-through-F grade for each school … Under the old system … 85 percent of the overall letter grade was based on test scores… The new assessment … ranks the school from poor to excellent on questions like ‘How interesting and challenging is the curriculum?’ and ‘How clearly are high expectations communicated to students and staff?’ … It also rates the school from poor to excellent on students’ improvement on state English and math tests.”
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Growth Of Online Reading Fuels New Achievement Gap, Researchers Say

Education Week

“A new study … found ‘a large and significant achievement gap, based on income inequality, in an important new area for learning – the ability to read on the Internet to learn information’… In an age where the Internet is an increasingly essential daily tool for finding answers, seeking understanding, and communicating, that spells big trouble … [Researcher Donald Leu explains] ‘Kids are reading both online and offline, and we have to account for both components, because the achievement gap is even greater than we thought it was … The most economically challenged schools are under greater pressure to raise test scores. In wealthier districts, there is certainly pressure, but there are many more degrees of freedom to explore things, and as a result, there is better integration of the Internet into the classroom.'”
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School Spending By Affluent Is Widening Wealth Gap

Associated Press via Yahoo News

“Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they’re widening the nation’s wealth gap. When the Great Recession struck in late 2007 and squeezed most family budgets, the top 10 percent of earners – with incomes averaging $253,146 – went in a different direction … Their average education spending per child jumped 35 percent to $5,210 a year during the recession compared with the two preceding years – and they sustained that faster pace through the recovery … Research has linked the additional dollars to increased SAT scores, a greater likelihood of graduating from college, and the prospect of future job security and high salaries.”
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