Education Opportunity Network

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4/2/2014 – A ‘Fair Shot’ Agenda For Education

THIS WEEK: The Public School Brand … Common Core Lost Opportunity … Charter Schools And Inequity … Obama’s Boldest Civil Rights Reform … Who Is ‘College Material’?


Time For A ‘Fair Shot’ Agenda For Education

By Jeff Bryant

“There’s an issue rife with populist discontent that Democrats have left out of the Fair Shot agenda: K-12 education … If Democrats want to put forth and fight for a compelling agenda for education they need to draw a sharp contrast with Republicans who espouse the current doctrine of testing, failing, closing, and privatizing … Democrats should have something better than “hope” to ensure they’re not the ones who deserve to get tossed.”
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The Biggest Public School Problem Might Be the Brand


“Most people believe that charter and private schools are preferable alternatives to traditional public schools … Yet private schools are often outperformed by their public counterparts … Charter school performance also fails to match public perceptions … What accounts for the split between popular perception and actual results … is marketing … Exclusivity also plays a part … The media has a role, as well … Knowing this, we might conduct fewer conversations about an ostensible crisis in public education … and, instead, concentrate on the importance of cultivating positive reputations among the vast majority of public schools that are doing just fine.”
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The Lost Opportunity Of The Common Core State Standards

Phi Delta Kappan

Education research expert Kevin Welner writes, “The Common Core standards themselves are fine … But the unfortunate reality is that whatever its potential benefits, the actual Common Core package will almost certainly exacerbate the policy failures of the past decade … Test-based accountability policies still advocated by politicians disregard the opportunity side of the equation … Many well-intentioned and smart people are working to advance the Common Core and make it successful. But unless and until our politicians reverse course and focus on closing opportunity gaps, the Common Core will be part of the problem.”
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What Applying To Charter Schools Showed Me About Inequality

The Atlantic

A parent in the Washington D.C. public schools system writes, “School choice is much less about choice than it looks … When the good being transferred and traded is something that should be a baseline public good for all students, the market solution starts to run into trouble … A system of lotteries can still tilt in favor of families with sufficient resources and free time to get around town and apply to as many as possible … Lotteries also reward families who can afford to live close to high-performing charter schools … Attempts to adjust the lottery unquestionably threaten the ethical neutrality of the school choice model … It opens the door to charges of inequity … In the absence of a school system that provides access to an excellent education for all students … we shouldn’t confuse a Band-Aid for a solution.”
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Relaxing Zero Tolerance In Schools Could Be Obama’s Boldest Civil Rights Reform

The Conversation

Education professor Paul Thomas writes, “The recent government initiative on discipline in schools could salvage the hope that education reform can turn in the direction of better equity for all students … The Obama administration is calling for an end to harsh discipline policies, such as zero tolerance, that ‘disproportionately affect minorities’ … Just as many of the current education reform commitments – such as those related to high-stakes testing, grade retention, charter schools, and Teach for America – are failing to address, and often intensifying, educational inequity, the discipline policies in US schools represent patterns that must be corrected. Although the Obama administration appears unwilling to change course on academic reform policies, a call for addressing discipline inequities could serve as a turning point that fulfills the claim that education reform in the 21st century is the civil rights issue of our time.”
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College Material Or Not: Who Should Decide?

The Washington Post

Welner joins award-winning principal Carol Burris to write, “We can all agree: college is not for everybody. But should school officials and top-down policy makers decide based, for example, on Common Core college readiness test scores, or should the decision be left to parents and students after schools have given them meaningful, enriching, equitable opportunities to learn? … History tells us that schools should not be in the business of foreclosing children’s options … When schools sort in this way, it is the disadvantaged children who are directed toward lower-tier tracks … To say in a supposedly neutral way that not all students will go to college is disingenuous without first acknowledging something else: that what’s really being said is that we should accept that college is for the already advantaged … High schools have an obligation to do their best to prepare students for college and career; preparation for both has more overlap than often assumed.”
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Category: EON Newsletters

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