Education Opportunity Network

Education Opportunity Network -

1/22/15 – Democrats: Listen To Senator Whitehouse

THIS WEEK: Money Matters A Lot … How Parents Choose Schools … Most Students Live In Poverty … True Cost Of Teach For America … Koch Brothers/Charter School Nightmare

TOP STORY

Democrats Should Listen To What Senator Whitehouse Said About Education Policy

By Jeff Bryant

“A populist message for public education needs input from the populace, not just from Beltway wonks that have fed the policy mill at the Department of Education for years … If Democrats want to have any clout in the education arena, they must find their populist voice just as they are doing for other issues. If President Obama isn’t going to provide that, maybe Senator Whitehouse just did.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

When Public Schools Get More Money, Students Do Better

The Washington Post

“Beginning 40 years ago, a series of court rulings forced states to reallocate money for education, giving more to schools in poor neighborhoods with less in the way of local resources … A new study on those who went to school during the school-finance cases a few decades ago found that those who attended districts that were affected by the rulings were more likely to stay in school through high school and college and are making more money today … The benefits were most obvious for students from poor families … A 10% increase in the money available for each low-income student resulted in a 9.5% increase in students’ earnings as adults. A public investment in schools … returned 8.9% … The increased funding had the greatest effect if it was used to raise teachers’ salaries, reduce class sizes or lengthen the school year. ”
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A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools

NPR

“The charter school movement is built on the premise … parents, empowered by choice, will vote with their feet for academically stronger schools … An intriguing new study … suggests that parent choice doesn’t always work that way. Parents, especially low-income parents, actually show strong preferences for other qualities like location and extracurriculars – preferences that can outweigh academics … A choice-based system all by itself won’t necessarily increase equity. The most economically disadvantaged students may have parents who are making decisions differently from other families … If this is true, choice could actually increase, rather than diminish, achievement gaps.”
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Majority Of U.S. Public School Students Are In Poverty

The Washington Post

“A majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families… 51% of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 … The explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon … The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up. They are less likely to have support at home, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college. It also means that education policy, funding decisions and classroom instruction must adapt to the needy children who arrive at school each day.”
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The True Cost Of Teach For America’s Impact On Urban Schools

The American Prospect

“When public school districts hire teachers from Teach For America, they pay a greater upfront cost than if they hire traditional entry-level teachers … TFA hiring contracts are generally non-refundable, even if a teacher turns out to be a serious problem or quits early … TFA, which is built on a model of two-year teaching commitments, presents a challenge for schools that are looking to recruit teachers who will remain in their classrooms for the long haul … Districts, their students, and their communities pay a high price to support TFA’s routine teacher turnover … [TFA] receives millions of dollars from the government each year, and is increasingly funneling its recruits into charter schools. TFA reports that 33% of their recruits teach in charter schools, up from 13% in 2008. Many of these charter schools were founded by TFA.”
Read more …

Koch Brothers/Charter School Nightmare: “White kids get to go to a school with a Montessori approach while children of color get eye control”

Salon

An in-depth investigative report by Jeff Bryant from Nashville finds, “a raging Music City controversy. Conversations about public education … have exploded into acrimonious bickering, full of charges and counter-charges … Low scores on student standardized tests and other indicators led the state to designate 15 Metro Nashville Public Schools … which gives the state or district power to … hand the school over to a charter school management organization … Enforced charter takeovers like the ones being carried out in Tennessee are happening across the country … In every one of these charter takeover cases, there have been large numbers of students, parents and teachers who have spoken out in opposition … Due to the influence of federal policies, such as Race to the Top, and relentless marketing by charter school advocates, virtually every state has a methodology for designating ‘low performing’ schools as Priority and targeting them for radical solutions like charter school takeover … Charter schools have become a darling of conservative politicians, think tanks and advocates. One of those powerful advocates, nationally and in Tennessee, is the influential Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing issue group started and funded by the billionaire Charles and David Koch brothers.”
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1/16/2015 – What The Test Debate Is About

THIS WEEK: More Jails Than Colleges … What Will Derail Common Core … Jeb Bush Education Foundation … Parents Don’t Care About Teacher Ratings … Corporations Cheat Schools

TOP STORY

Why The Test Debate Is About Politics, Not Education

By Jeff Bryant

“See if this makes sense to you: Conservatives want to let states have potentially more options for wasting taxpayer money on wayward attempts in ‘accountability,’ and liberals are insisting on continuing measures that have been mostly bad for the education of black and brown students.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

The U.S. Has More Jails Than Colleges. Here’s A Map Of Where Those Prisoners Live.

The Washington Post

“There were 2.3 million prisoners in the U.S. as of the 2010 Census. It’s often been remarked that our national incarceration rate of 707 adults per every 100,000 residents is the highest in the world … Hundreds of thousands more individuals are locked up in the nation’s 3,200 local and county jails … We have slightly more jails and prisons in the U.S. – 5,000 plus – than we do degree-granting colleges and universities … Prisoners are literally every where you look in the U.S. Nearly 85 percent of U.S. counties are home to some number of incarcerated individuals.”
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Will Test-Based Teacher Evaluations Derail The Common Core?

The Hechinger Report

“The one-two punch of Common Core and new test-based accountability systems is too much to handle and leaves teachers – and students – overwhelmed … A major backlash erupted in the last year against both teacher evaluations and the Common Core. The backlash has become mainstream, no longer relegated to teachers and administrators, and has fueled legislation and multiple lawsuits aimed at dialing back the new policies … Some supporters of the new standards have blamed the Obama administration for its ambitious and controversial initiatives to overhaul American public education … Earlier this summer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation called for a two-year moratorium on states or districts basing personnel decisions on Common Core-aligned tests. And in August, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged states to delay using test results for an additional year when tabulating teacher ratings. Despite a temporary reprieve, a recent study jointly commissioned by Scholastic, the education publisher, and the Gates foundation shows that, among teachers, support for the Common Core has started to wane.”
Read more …

Jeb Bush Education Foundation Played Leading Role In Mixing Politics, Policy

The Washington Post

“[Jeb] Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education has an unusual role mixing politics and policy – drafting legislation and paying travel expenses for state officials, lobbying lawmakers, and connecting public officials with industry executives seeking government contracts … The foundation has, for instance, pushed states to embrace digital learning in public schools, a costly transition that often requires new software and hardware … The foundation has helped its corporate donors gain access to state education officials through a committee called Chiefs for Change, composed of as many as 10 officials from mostly Republican-led states who convene at the foundation’s annual meeting … his foundation has secured $5.2 million since 2010 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary funder of the campaign to promote the [Common Core] standards.”
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Parents Make Few Requests For Teacher Evaluations In New York School Districts

New York Daily News

“After battles in Albany over who should have access to results of state-mandated teacher evaluations, the group given the right to see them – parents – appears to be showing little interest … Few, if any, parents have asked for their child’s teacher’s rating since New York began requiring teachers to be classified every year as ‘highly effective,’ ‘effective,’ ‘developing’ or ‘ineffective’ … The AP found there were zero requests in Syracuse, Rochester, Batavia, Amherst, Hudson Falls and Amagansett on Long Island.”
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Cheating the Schoolkids: Corporations Don’t Pay Their State Taxes, Either

Common Dreams

“Most of the attention to corporate tax avoidance is directed at the nonpayment of federal taxes. But state taxes, which to a much greater extent fund K-12 education, are avoided at a stunning rate by America’s biggest companies. As a result, public school funding continues to be cut … The percentage of corporate profits paid as state income taxes has dropped from 7% in 1980 to about 3 percent today. It may be getting worse. A PayUpNow analysis of 25 of our nation’s largest corporations shows a total state tax payment of 2.4%, about a third of the required tax … companies play one state against another, holding their home states hostage for tax breaks under the threat of bolting to other states … The effects of state tax avoidance are seen all around the country, with impacts on schools.”
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1/8/2015 – An Education New Year’s Resolution

THIS WEEK: Crucial Year For Common Core … Teacher Diversity Problem … Preschool For Low Income Kids … Worst Way To Address STEM … Students Stuck Funding Colleges

TOP STORY

An Education New Year’s Resolution We Can All Believe In

By Jeff Bryant

“Let’s resolve to make 2015 the year we work on the most important education issue of all … Recognition of the blatant inequity in our nation’s education system is growing … Maybe 2015 can be the year that education equity gets the emphasis it deserves.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Why 2015 Is A Crucial Year For Common Core

Vox

“This spring, hundreds of thousands of students will be tested against the standards for the first time… In New York and Kentucky, two states that adopted Common Core tests early, the percentage of students considered proficient in reading and math plummeted … This year, 39 more states will join them … Many states haven’t been preparing parents for lower test scores this year. And in most states, teacher evaluations will eventually be based on students’ test scores. That means the stakes are higher … 2015 could be the year that political controversy over Common Core is revived, and with a different coalition of opponents this time.”
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Our Teacher Diversity Problem Is Not Just About Recruitment. It’s About Retention.

Slate

“For the first time in our country’s history, a majority of public school students are children of color. But most teachers – 82% in the 2011-2012 school year – are white … The number of teachers of color who left their schools or the profession altogether jumped 28% between 1980 and 2009 … Minority teachers are more likely to work in high-poverty, low-performing schools where turnover rates are higher among teachers of all races and backgrounds … A significant body of research suggests the benefits of a racially diverse teaching force are considerable … There are countless programs designed at drawing more minority teachers into public schools, but comparatively few focus on supporting them once they get there. A few promising new initiatives aim to counter this trend, however.”
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Study Endorses Preschool For Low Income Kids

Associated Press via Komo News

“A new study shows low income kids from Washington state who go to a state supported preschool are likely to do better academically than their peers at least through fifth grade … Kids who attended state funded preschool when they were 3- and 4-years old, had a 7% higher passing rate on the fifth-grade reading test and a 6% higher passing rate on the fifth-grade math test … Department of Early Learning Director Bette Hyde said … ‘This appears to dispel the myth of fade-out, or diminishing impact of early learning’ … The study does not reach the gold standard of academic research, since children were not assigned randomly to a preschool or control group. But researchers believe they got close to that standard by looking only at children who were eligible for the program and comparing those who attended with those who did not.”
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The Worst Possible Way To Push Kids Into Studying Science, Math And Engineering

The Washington Post

“President Obama has perennially championed science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as key fields for the economic success and competitiveness of the economy … The tech industry, of course, is a huge booster of STEM education … A new study from Stanford looks at what happened in Italy, when a 1961 law doubled the number of students in STEM majors graduating from the country’s universities … The first surprise: College seemed to provide no financial benefit to the students from the technical schools, who typically came from less-educated families … Italy’s experience is in part a cautionary tale … A huge increase in the number of STEM graduates sounds great, but the workers themselves didn’t seem to benefit that much financially. It’s anyone’s guess what the optimal number of science and technology workers is in an economy, but industry will always lobby for more job candidates who will compete with each other and drive down wages.”
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Student Tuition Now Officially Pays More Than States For Public College Funding

The Huffington Post

“Students now pay more of the cost of attending public universities than state governments … Tuition officially surpassed state funding in fiscal year 2012, the GAO found, accounting for 25% … State sources dipped from 32% in 2003 to 23% in 2012 … State budget cuts drive up tuition at public colleges … Many young Americans typically blame colleges – public and private – for rising student debt … The federal government’s Pell grant now covers smallest portion of the cost of college in the program’s history.”
Read more …

12/19/2014 – Education’s Newsmaker Of The Year

THIS WEEK: Wave Of Immigrant Minors Hits Schools … Climate Change Denial Goes To School … 2015 Policy Forecast … Rural Schools Hit By Cuts … Reading For Common Core

TOP STORY

Education’s Newsmaker Of The Year: Charter School Scandals

By Jeff Bryant

“In 2014, charter schools, which had always been marketed for a legendary ability to deliver promising new innovations for education, became known primarily for their ability to concoct innovative new scams … from local stories to national scandal … the charter school scandals of 2014 forever altered the narrative about what these institutions really bring to the populace.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

U.S. Schools Are Saying Goodbye To Foreign Languages

The Hechinger Report

” So far in fiscal year 2014, the number of unaccompanied minors caught on the southern border is more than triple the number apprehended in 2010 … Whatever their reasons for coming, the vast majority of the newly arrived children … are now attending the one American institution legally bound to serve them: public schools … Many new arrivals have had little formal schooling. A majority stopped attending school after sixth grade … In addition to learning English and the subject matter of their various classes, they also must learn to raise their hands to answer questions, change classes when a bell rings and never wander the halls without a bathroom pass … Students have faced starker trauma on their journey here. Several girls told staff at Oakland International that they’d been raped … Many students have lost family members to the violence in their hometowns or even seen them murdered.”
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The Plan To Get Climate-Change Denial Into Schools

The Atlantic

“Truth in Texas Textbooks coalition, a volunteer-run organization of more than 100 activists that wants global warming to be taught as an opinion rather than fact … have accused publishers of creating textbooks with an ‘anti-Christian’ and ‘anti-American’ bias … Textbooks are often the first conduit between climate science and young people. The books that the Texas truth coalition is fighting over are expected to be used by more than 5 million Texas public school students for at least a decade. Texas is also the second-largest market for textbooks behind California, and publishers often peddle best-selling Texas textbooks in other states … The coalition’s system of rating textbooks could soon spread beyond Texas. White says that activists in California, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, and Wisconsin have already contacted the coalition to learn how they can create their own rating system.”
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State Leaders Confront Full Plate Of K-12 Issues

Education Week

“Common standards, testing, and school choice are likely to dominate the education policy debate … A generally improving economic climate … could turn up the heat on lawmakers in many states to raise K-12 spending … Changes to assessment policies could attract significant bipartisan interest … Issues include whether high-performing districts should be allowed to opt out of certain tests, and whether districts should be permitted to pick tests they believe are better than those aligned with the Common Core State Standards … Pushback to the common core could also surface in legislatures.”
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Rural Schools Hit Hard By Budget Cuts

District Administration

“Funding cuts since the recession have drained the accounts of rural districts, which cannot rely on a resurgence in property tax revenues as heavily as urban school systems can. Some 9.7 million students are enrolled in rural districts, representing more than 20% of all U.S. public school students. And rural enrollment continues to rise… The average expenditure for rural students is $5,826 per pupil, compared to the national average of $11,153. With so few students, it is often more difficult for rural districts to get federal grants to pay for technology or special education. And transportation costs are high, since students are sometimes spread out over hundreds of miles. Finding and retaining teachers for upper-level math and science courses is also a challenge.”
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How The Newest High-Stakes Tests Are Stealing The Joy Of Reading From Our Kids

Alternet

Chicago teacher Katie Osgood writes, “I haven’t heard many people complain about our skill-based reading instruction that has been in vogue since before [Common Core State Standards], but now under the new standards it’s bad literacy on speed … Even when we choose beautiful pieces of literature, they become lifeless vehicles to teach a dry, decontextualized skill … That looks like reading two myths without any teaching around what myths are, about Ancient Greece, about how the myths point to our own humanity … We are told to do a ‘close read’ of stirring passages about the Underground Railroad for the sole purpose of pulling out the main idea and supporting details. We don’t actually talk about the Underground Railroad, letting the horror of slavery sink in. No, it’s simply about getting the skill, so the kids can demonstrate the same skill on the dreaded test … Schools under high-stakes accountability have been forced into this twisted form of reading instruction for many years. But things are getting worse.”
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12/11/2014 – Who’s Really Failing Students

THIS WEEK: How Charter Schools Profit … Costs Of Youth Incarceration … So Many School Shootings … Schools As Tech Training Camps … More Education Doesn’t Pay Off

TOP STORY

Who’s Really Failing Students?

By Jeff Bryant

“New standardized tests hitting most of the nation this school year have been engineered to increase failure rates, and policy leaders tell us that children and parents deserve this. The expected sharp downturn in scores will no doubt further tarnish the brand of public schools, siphon yet more precious public dollars into private operators pledging to hold schools ‘more accountable,’ and add fuel to the already raging fires of a growing anti-testing movement. But what too few are asking is who really is the failure here.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

When Charter Schools Are Nonprofit in Name Only

Propublica

“Charter schools often hire companies to handle their accounting and management functions. Sometimes the companies even take the lead in hiring teachers, finding a school building, and handling school finances … This arrangement is known as a ‘sweeps’ contract because nearly all of a school’s public dollars – anywhere from 95 to 100 percent – is “swept” into a charter-management company. The contracts are an example of how the charter schools sometimes cede control of public dollars to private companies that have no legal obligation to act in the best interests of the schools or taxpayers … Schools have agreed to such setups with both nonprofit and for-profit management companies, but it’s not clear how often. Nobody appears to be keeping track. What is clear is that it can be hard for regulators and even schools themselves to follow the money when nearly all of it goes into the accounts of a private company.”
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Hidden Costs of Youth Incarceration Nationwide Estimated To Run Between $8 Billion And $21 Billion Each Year

Reuters

“33 U.S. states and jurisdictions spend $100,000 or more annually to incarcerate a young person … The first-ever estimate of the overall costs resulting from negative outcomes associated with incarceration … found that these long-term consequences of incarcerating young people could cost taxpayers $8 billion to $21 billion each year … The billions of dollars in hidden costs result from formerly incarcerated young people earning lower wages, paying less in taxes, as well as having a greater dependence upon government assistance and higher rates of recidivism. Research shows that the experience of incarceration increases the likelihood that young people will commit a new offense in the future.”
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There Has Been A Fatal School Shooting Every 5 Weeks Since Sandy Hook

Mother Jones

“In the two years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut … A total of 32 victims were killed … 11 victims were injured … 5 shooters were killed … Lockdown drills have become common at schools, and many have added armed personnel or even tested active-shooter detection systems that use technology deployed in war zones … All the same, the toll has gone on, with hundreds of children shot to death, daily violence routinely claiming multiple victims, and mass shootings becoming three times more frequent.”
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Seeking Coders, Tech Titans Turn To Schools

Politico

“The $30 million campaign to promote computer science education has been financed by the tech industry … But the campaign has also stirred unease from some educators concerned about the growing influence of corporations in public schools. And it’s raised questions about the motives of tech companies … Silicon Valley CEOs have complained for years about a huge shortage of qualified programmers … Skeptics, however, aren’t convinced that there’s a real shortage … They note that salaries in the IT industry have not increased, in real terms, since the late 1990s – unlike salaries in other fields, such as petroleum engineering … Only about two-thirds of students who earn college degrees in computer and information sciences take jobs in that field within a year of graduation … The industry’s initiative comes at a time of increasing corporate involvement in public education. High schools across the country have turned to local businesses to help them develop classes and host internships for students preparing for careers in fields as varied as hospitality, marketing, health care, and environmental planning.”
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Census: Young Americans More Educated, Not Necessarily Better Off Than Parents

Education Week

“American young adults are more likely to have attended and graduated college today than in earlier generations … but they are also more likely to be earning considerably less, and living either in poverty or with their parents … Americans ages 18 to 34 earn $2,000 less per year than earlier generations, after correcting for inflation, though the percentage graduating college has risen from a little more than 15% to more than 22% … Massachusetts’ young adults earn on average $6,500 more than they would have three decades ago, while young people in Michigan, Wyoming, and Alaska earn $9,000 less … College graduation rates in the Northeast and in Mid-Atlantic states like Maryland and Virginia have grown by double digits, but have flattened in the Midwest … Said Census analyst Jonathan Vespa … ‘Income inequality for households and families has gone up at the same time as the country as a whole has become more educated.’”
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12/4/2014 – Award For Questioning Charter School Hype

THIS WEEK: Test Score Declines Coming … Costs Of Digital Learning … Koch Brother Influence … New Teacher-Prep Program Rules … Colleges Charge Poor Kids More

TOP STORY

EON Awarded For ‘Questioning The Charter School Hype’

By Jeff Bryant

“Charter schools have been relentlessly marketed to the American populace as a silver bullet for ‘failed’ public schools … But as these institutions proliferate, so are troubling reports of what the charter movement has unleashed.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Test Scores Are Going To Go Down Next Year. Blame The Common Core.

Vox

“Most students’ math and reading skills are going to look much worse after they take Common Core-aligned tests in spring 2015. More than half of students will probably get scores too low to be considered proficient … New York and Kentucky … have already learned that lesson. Proficiency rates dropped by about half in both … Low scores on Common Core tests will add more fuel to criticisms that the standards are too hard, lessons are too confusing, or that the whole reform is being rushed.”
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Is Digital Learning More Cost-Effective? Maybe Not

NPR

“Digital learning … a new study suggests … is neither more powerful nor cheaper than old-fashioned teaching … Researchers don’t really know what works and what doesn’t … Consumers – local school districts – are buying blind … Buzzwords like ‘personalized instruction’ and ‘personalized learning’ that sound great … are a bit nebulous … Online-only learning had no impact on student achievement and in some cases had a slightly negative impact. The results of blended learning were more mixed, but in cases where it improved student learning, it also cost more than traditional methods.”
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How The Koch Brothers Are Sneaking Their Way Into Public Schools

Aternet

“For years, the Bill of Rights Institute has … been the conduit for millions of dollars from Charles and David Koch, as the brothers seek to influence the country’s social studies curriculum … In its materials for teachers and students, the Bill of Rights Institute cherry-picks the Constitution, history, and current events to hammer home its libertarian message that the owners of private property should be free to manage their wealth as they see fit … Educator resources for “Documents of Freedom” at the BRI site underscore this business-good/government-bad message … Another Koch organization that targets public schools, Youth Entrepreneurs… produce an economics curriculum to challenge what the group identified as ‘common economic fallacies,’ including: ‘Rich get richer at the expense of the poor … What makes the Koch brothers’ focus on public schools so profoundly cynical is that they hate public schools.’”
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New Rules Would Judge Teacher-Prep Programs On Job Placements And Student Learning

The Chronicle Of Higher Education

“Proposed rules … would require states to evaluate teacher-training programs based, in part, on how many of their graduates get and keep jobs and how much their graduates’ future students learn. Only programs deemed effective by their states would be eligible to award Teach Grants, which provide students with up to $4,000 a year … Teacher unions and college lobbyists worry that the rules will punish programs whose graduates are concentrated in high-need schools, where test scores tend to be lower and teacher turnover higher. They warn that the plan could discourage colleges from placing their students in such schools … Skeptics say the existing “value added” measures are unproven. They cite a recent statement by the American Statistical Association that concluded that ‘the majority of the variation in test scores is attributable to factors outside of the teacher’s control, such as student and family background, poverty, curriculum, and unmeasured influences.’”
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Colleges That Pledged To Help Poor Families Have Been Doing The Opposite, New Figures Show

The Hechinger Report

“As institutions vie for income and prestige … net prices they’re charging the lowest-income students, after discounts and financial aid, continue to rise faster on average than the net prices they’re charging higher-income ones … This includes the 100 higher-education institutions whose leaders attended a widely publicized White House summit in January and promised to expand the opportunities for low-income students to go to college. In fact, the private universities in that group collectively raised what the poorest families pay by 10%, compared to 5% for wealthier students … Even at the 36 taxpayer-supported public universities that signed the White House pledge, poor students paid an average net price of about $8,000 in 2008-09 and almost $10,000 in 2012-13. That’s a 25% increase. During the same period, wealthier students at those schools saw their average net price go from about $18,000 to $21,000, a 16% increase.”
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11/20/2014 – People ‘Walk In’ For Public Schools

THIS WEEK: Number Homeless Children Soars … New Test Scores, More Failures … Banks Rip-Off Schools … K12 Charters Tank … $3.9 Billion For EdTech

TOP STORY

Why People Are ‘Walking In’ For Public Schools

By Jeff Bryant

“Organizations representing advocates for public schools have joined their voices today in events across the country as part of a national Week of Action for the Public Schools All Our Children Deserve. The combined groups refer to themselves as the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, a national alliance of parent, youth and community organizations and labor groups fighting for educational justice and equity in access to school resources and opportunities. The actions and appeals of today’s events vary, but there’s a unifying theme throughout: well-resourced community schools.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Number Of Homeless Children In America Surges To All-Time High: Report

The Huffington Post

“The number of homeless children in the U.S. has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30 … Nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013 … Child homelessness increased by 8 percent nationally from 2012 to 2013 … Neither federal nor state housing assistance nor incentives for developers to create low-income housing have kept pace with demand.”
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Cutoff Scores Set For Common-Core Tests

Education Week

“A consortium that is designing assessments for the Common Core State Standards released data Monday projecting that more than half of students will fall short of the marks that connote grade-level skills on its tests of English/language arts and mathematics … According to cut scores approved Friday night by the 22-state consortium, 41% of 11th graders will show proficiency in English/language arts, and 33% will do so in math. In elementary and middle school, 38% to 44% will meet the proficiency mark in English/language arts, and 32% to 39% will do so in math … If the achievement projections hold true for the first operational test next spring, state officials will be faced with a daunting public relations task: convincing policymakers and parents that the results are a painful but temporary result of asking students to dig deeper intellectually so they will be better prepared for college or good jobs.”
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How The Banks Bamboozled Chicago

Chicago Sun Times

“The City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools pay more than $100 million annually on interest rate swaps … Banks misled CPS about the risks involved with these deals … Complex financing schemes involving auction rate securities and swaps likely could cost CPS at least $100 million more than plain vanilla bonds … Banks unlawfully steered CPS into these deals without making adequate disclosures about risk … The banks have a legal and moral obligation to give back the money they have stolen from Chicago and CPS.”
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What Went Wrong At The Upstart School Milken Backed?

Bloomberg News

“K12 Inc. (LRN) was heralded as the next revolution in schooling. Billionaire Michael Milken backed it, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush praised it … Plagued by subpar test scores, the largest operator of online public schools in the U.S. has lost management contracts or been threatened with school shutdowns in five states this year … Once-soaring enrollment at the more than 60 public schools it manages has dropped almost 5%. Targeted by short sellers, who benefit from a company’s decline, K12 shares have tumbled by two-thirds.”
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FCC Proposes $3.9 Billion For School Technology Program

THE Journal

“A proposal … called for a permanent $1.5 billion increase in the cap for E-rate, up from the current $2.4 billion, that would be used to pay for technology in schools … E-rate is funded through a fee users pay as part of their phone bill. The increase in the cap, to $3.9 billion, would be covered by an increase to that fee of about $0.16 to $0.19 per month per residential ‘rate payer’ … The announcement was met with immediate support from education advocacy groups.”
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11/13/2014 – Can We Stop Using Tests To Drive Education Reform?

THIS WEEK: Where Education Won … What $160 Gets You … Importance Of School Absentee Rates … Choice Breeds Segregation … For-Profit College Stocks May Soar

TOP STORY

Can We, “Stop Using Tests To Drive Education Reform?”

By Jeff Bryant

“With the new standards seemingly a potentially beneficial ends being undone by a stifling, narrow-minded means … the best idea may be to ‘stop using tests to try to drive education reform.’ That conclusion is in fact rapidly becoming the center of the debate over education policy across the country… Reports about widespread protests against standardized tests are now routine … Politicians and public officials are starting to hear the growing chorus against testing … We’ve yet to hear a coherent answer to, ‘Can we stop using tests to drive education reform?’ But any legitimate notion of ‘reform’ will have to come up with one.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Ballot Measure Wins Show Strong Support For Pro-Public Education Policies

National Education Association

“Many voters who had the opportunity to vote on specific issues supported policies that are good for students and working families. That held true even in states that elected candidates who are less-friendly or downright hostile toward public education … Missouri voters took a stand on behalf of their educators and public schools when they voted overwhelmingly against … an initiative to change the state constitution to use student performance on high-stakes standardized tests to determine teacher pay; demote or terminate educators; or punish struggling schools … Illinois voters said ‘heck yeah’ when they were asked whether individuals with incomes greater than $1 million should pay more of their fair share in taxes in order to increase support for public schools … Voters in Hawaii rejected a ballot measure that would have used public money on private pre-kindergarten programs. Opponents of the measure strongly believe that the state should indeed expand early learning programs, but by establishing fully funded preschool through the public education system … Washington state passed its class size ballot measure. [Update here]”
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Running A School On $160

The Philadelphia Inquirer

“The number couldn’t possibly be right, Marc Gosselin thought: $160. That was the total discretionary budget he was handed as the brand-new principal of Anna Lane Lingelbach Elementary … Gosselin zeroed in on students’ reading levels – just 42% were meeting state standards. He wanted to administer short tests to gauge children’s reading … But there was no money to buy the test – or even paper to copy it … The school has no music class nor playground equipment … Nearly 90% of pupils live in poverty … Still, the school is calm. It runs smoothly, and its staff want to be there. They have been the glue holding Lingelbach together, and classrooms are bright with materials teachers have purchased themselves.”
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Absenteeism: Another Way To Measure School Poverty

The Hechinger Report

“A new report out of New York City suggests that policy makers should identify troubled schools by their absenteeism rates – a relatively easy data point to obtain – and then work to fix the schools by addressing each one’s unique problems, from homelessness and child abuse to teacher turnover and safety … Only 11% of the students at schools with chronic absenteeism passed the city’s math and reading tests in 2012-13. Other schools with similar poverty levels but better attendance rates posted much higher test scores … Schools with chronic absenteeism were likely to be beset by other poverty-related problems, such as male unemployment in the neighborhood and high rates of homelessness.”
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Cliques Thrive in Schools That Give Students More Choices, Study Says

Education Week

“Students are more likely to organize in homogenous and hierarchical cliques in schools that offer them more choices … ‘Schools that offer students more choice – more elective courses, more ways to complete requirements, a bigger range of potential friends, more freedom to select seats in a classroom – are more likely to be rank-ordered, cliquish, and segregated by race, age, gender, and social status,’ … Such tight social arrangements are less likely to form at schools that limit social choices – encouraging students to interact based on school work rather than on the basis of their social lives – and at smaller schools … Choice in schools just makes it easier for students to form those social clusters. So maybe the answer can be found in addressing those social and emotional elements, rather than taking the choices away all together.”
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Banks Urge Investors To Buy For-Profit College Stocks Now That The GOP Is Taking Back Congress

Think Progress

“The Republican resurgence on Capitol Hill makes for-profit education company stock a hot commodity, according to industry analysts who expect a GOP-controlled Congress to loosen oversight of both student lending firms and for-profit colleges … The analyses were based primarily on future legislative predictions … much friendlier to the companies that run for-profit schools … ‘diminished regulatory risk characteristics of a Republican-controlled electorate’ makes student lending company stocks likely to rise in value … Stock in Strayer Education Inc., one of the largest for-profit college companies, was up almost 10% from Tuesday morning to Thursday morning. DeVry’s stock is up nearly 3% and Apollo Education Group’s is up over 2.5% … The companies that operate these high-cost, low-value degree-granting institutions are immensely profitable, spend a billion dollars more on recruiting than on educating annually, and reward their executive officers with massive pay packages. In many cases, these companies get 90 percent of their income from federal student loan dollars.”
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10/6/2014 – Education Coalition Isn’t There, Yet

THIS WEEK: States Fund Prisons Instead Of Schools … Ant-Testing Movement Grows … Don’t Abolish Teacher Tenure … High Principal Turnover Rates Hurt … After School Programs Help

TOP STORY

The Coalition For An Education Agenda Just Isn’t There, Yet

By Jeff Bryant

“Proponents claiming the mantle of “education reform” have been quick to jump on the one-sided election results as proof-positive of widespread voter support for their ideas … But results from the midterms mostly revealed an education agenda has yet to have its day in the sun, electorally, and any agenda for the nation’s schools will have to be bound into a coalition of other, more populist, causes … There’s evidence that Democrats can get their house in order when they adopt more populist messages that align with coalitions that advocate for economic fairness and social equity. Advocates for public schools won’t reliably win elections until that they embrace that coalition and successfully push the party that direction.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

States Are Prioritizing Prisons Over Education, Budgets Show

The Huffington Post

“If state budget trends reflect the country’s policy priorities, then the U.S. currently values prisoners over children … The growth of state spending on prisons in recent years has far outpaced the growth of spending on education. After adjusting for inflation, state general fund spending on prison-related expenses increased over 140% between 1986 and 2013. During the same period, state spending on K-12 education increased only 6%9, while higher education saw an increase of less than 6% … since 2008, spending on education has actually declined in a majority of states in the wake of the Great Recession … Rates of violent crime and property crime have actually fallen over the years, even while incarceration rates have risen … States’ spending practices are ultimately harming their economies, while not making the states especially safer.”
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The Rise Of The Anti-Standardized Testing Movement

The Washington Post

At the blog hosted by Valerie Strauss, Monty Neil writes, “Across the nation, resistance to test overuse and misuse reached unprecedented heights in the spring of 2014 … Resistance erupted in more states with far more participants, and it won notable victories, such as ending, lessening or postponing graduation exams in at least eight states and easing or ending grade promotion tests … The most visible, dynamic form of resistance was to boycott the tests … Test resistance and reform campaigns used many tactics … School boards are also resisting test overkill … The ultimate goals of the movement are to dramatically reduce the amount of testing, end high stakes uses, and implement educationally sound assessments.”
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Don’t Abolish Teacher Tenure

CNN

Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile writes, “Right now, we should be lifting up and championing educators. The last thing we should be doing is discouraging or dampening the enthusiasm of a new generation … Due process policies such as tenure are put in place to protect good teachers from being fired without cause. They aren’t there to protect ‘bad’ teachers … Contrary to what some naysayers – and magazine covers – continue to hawk, the American people are proud of their public schools. And they’re proud of their teachers, too … Far too many Democrats have largely avoided this issue out of a mistaken fear that running on a pro-public education platform would be a far too risky topic for their campaigns. Turns out these Democrats are just plain wrong. They’re missing a golden opportunity to highlight this important issue.”
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Principal Turnover Takes Costly Toll On Students And Districts, Report Says

Education Week

“The high rate of principal turnover is costing school districts dearly, particularly teachers and students in high-poverty systems … A quarter of the country’s principals quit their schools each year, according to the report, and nearly 50 percent leave in their third year… That churn happens after a district typically has spent an estimated $75,000 on each leader to prepare, hire, and place that person on the job … Strong leaders contribute up to 25 percent of the school factors that influence a student’s academic performance, according to the report. And teachers often make decisions about where to teach and how long they stay at a particular school in a large part based on its leadership … A number of factors drive the principal exodus, including workload, costs – personal, psychological and financial – lack of autonomy, and isolation. Another key reason leaders leave is the lack of support and professional development that principals receive once on the job.”
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After-School Programs Can Help Teens At Risk Of Dropping Out

US News & World Report

“After-school programs … can be an important tool in preventing at-risk teens from dropping out … Students who participate in what are known as expanded learning opportunities – which includes after-school programs – show higher rates of school attendance, lower dropout rates, and improved attitudes toward school … Besides giving students something to look forward to when coming to school, students in after-school have less opportunity to be involved in illegal activities, such as drug use and gang involvement, during the critical hours immediately following school … Teachers reported students in after-school programs improved their behavior in class. Plus, the additional tutoring and homework help often provided in after-school programs can help students improve their grades.”
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10/30/2014 – Big Money Taking Over Education Politics

THIS WEEK: Civil Rights & Accountability … Don’t Dis TFA … Fewer Want To Be Teachers … Black Girls Suspended More … New Accountability Needed

TOP STORY

Big Money Taking Over Education Politics

By Jeff Bryant

“Big money from businesses and private individuals and foundations is now altering the electoral process in school board elections and state level contests for school administration. Often, the big money comes from people who associate with the Democratic Party. Further, these wealthy Democrats often collude with conservative Republicans in these school-related elections in ways they never would in other contests. This confluence of big money is often called ‘bipartisanship.’ But the results are apt to be the same we’ve seen in more popular elections – a distortion of democracy that leads to governance that is less progressive.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Civil Rights Groups Want Resources For Students To Factor in Accountability

Education Week

“Federal and state accountability has to do more than just hold schools’ feet to the fire when it comes to student outcomes, a coalition of civil rights groups said in a letter sent to President Barack Obama and congressional leaders … The systems also have to ensure that school systems and policymakers at all levels are held accountable for ‘inputs,’ including providing conditions that make it possible for learning to take place. Students – especially poor and minority kids – need equal access to resources, including good teachers; social, emotional, and health and nutrition services; and high-quality instructional materials (everything from technology to facilities). Schools must also provide tailored professional development to educators that work with diverse student populations, and sustained outreach to parents and communities.”
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This Is What Happens When You Criticize Teach For America

The Nation

“Teach For America has spent nearly $3.5 million in advertising and promotion… Much of this promotion goes toward attacking journalists … The organization, which represents less than 0.002% of America’s teaching force, enjoys disproportionate sway in the political realm … 63% of recruits work, as Teach For America puts it, ‘full time in education,’ yet a 2010 study found that 80% of Teach For America recruits quit after three years. The disparity suggests that while TFA recruits may not be able to stomach teaching, they do feel up to the task of other education-sector activities, like policy reform and foundation management … TFA alumni like [Michelle] Rhee, [John] White and [Cami] Anderson continue to be hailed as innovative policy experts … Despite much empirical evidence to the contrary, Teach For America’s premise remains tenable thanks to the enormous prestige afforded to TFA recruits. In this light, TFA’s PR extensive apparatus begins to make sense; lacking results, their image is the only thing left for the organization to stand on.”
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Steep Drops Seen In Teacher-Prep Enrollment Numbers

Education Week

“Massive changes to the profession, coupled with budget woes, appear to be shaking the image of teaching as a stable, engaging career. Nationwide, enrollments in university teacher-preparation programs have fallen by about 10% from 2004 to 2012, according to federal estimates from the U.S. Department of Education’s postsecondary data collection … Some large states, like heavyweight California, appear to have been particularly hard hit … Federal data … show an overall drop in education degree programs across all institutions … The enrollment downturns already appear to be contributing to some unsettling hiring patterns.”
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The Economic Impact Of School Suspensions

The Atlantic

“A recent report finds African-American girls were suspended at six times the rate of white girls, and more than any other group of girls (and several groups of boys). This is despite evidence that African-American students do not misbehave more frequently than their peers … The study … shows how poor educational outcomes can limit their opportunities, from lower graduation rates to setbacks in expected lifetime earnings … African-American girls are more than twice as likely as whites to be held back a grade … The reasons for such setbacks have less to do with student behavior … than with disproportionate and overly punitive disciplinary practices that remove African-Americans from classes for minor and subjective infractions (examples include violations of dress code or even wearing natural hairstyles).”
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Coalition Wants New School Accountability

USA Today

“The nation’s two largest teachers unions – along with school administration organizations, business advocacy groups and school equity leaders – on Tuesday announced a new framework for accountability that focuses more on a holistic ‘support-and-improve’ model than the longstanding ‘test-and-punish’ mindset that’s commonplace in schools nationwide … The New Accountability framework centers around making changes to three central concepts in educational accountability: standardized testing, teacher evaluation and school resource equity … Rather than advocating for an outright repeal of standardized testing, the partnering organizations say they want fewer, better tests that more accurately measure what schools and business leaders say is the most important objective for students who’ll soon have to compete in the high-tech, global economy.”
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