Education Opportunity Network

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10/23/2014 – Will Education Save The Democrats?

THIS WEEK: States Decrease Per-Student Spending … Demand For After-School Programs … More Private Money For Public Schools … Real Accountability … School To Prison Pipeline

TOP STORY

Will Education Save The Democrats?

By Jeff Bryant

“Democratic-leaning activists have stepped up their ground game to make support for public education a wedge issue in campaigns around the country … Should the actions of grassroots public schools supporters help bail out the campaigns of some Democratic candidates, there are lessons to be learned and potentially intriguing shifts in how the Democratic Party treats education policy ahead.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

School Funding: Most States Have Decreased Per-Student Expenses Since Recession

International Business Times

“A majority of states are still providing less cash for schools than they were prior to the recession … Although most states have increased their per-student funding in the current school year compared with the last … that funding has not increased enough to make up for cuts in recent years. Some 46% of total education spending in the U.S. relies on state funds … Costs of state-funded services have surged as a result of inflation, growing needs and a shift in demographics. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that there are about 725,000 more K-12 students … Additionally, more than 37,000 unaccompanied child migrants between January and July have joined adult sponsors and family members in communities across the nation. All are entitled to a public-school education … The state-level education cuts have a national impact, as they’ve slowed the nation’s economic recovery from the recession.”
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Demand For After-School Programs Outstrips Supply by Millions

Education Week

“Interest in after-school programs over the past decade has far surpassed their growth, shutting out millions of families that need a safe place to send their children while parents are at work … More than 10 million children attend after-school programs, up from 6.5 million in 2004 … 89% of parents said they were satisfied with their child’s program and 83% agreed that having after-school programs available helps working parents keep their jobs … Nationwide, there are 19.4 million students – two for every child enrolled – whose parents want them in an after-school program, but can’t find anything available or affordable … 11.3 million children – 800,000 of them in elementary school – are on their own after school, with no adult supervision.”
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Nation’s Wealthy Places Pour Private Money Into Public Schools, Study Finds

The New York Times

“Private groups are raising an increasing amount of money for public schools in wealthier communities, highlighting concerns about inequality … Nonprofits organized by parents and community leaders more than tripled in number and more than quadrupled the dollars they generated between 1995 and 2010. Communities with higher median incomes were more likely to have these fund-raising groups in the first place and, perhaps not surprisingly, more likely to raise more money per student than those in less affluent neighborhoods … In some communities, the amounts can rise to four figures per student … State funding for education has fallen since the beginning of the recession, however, at a time when schools are being asked to incorporate new, academically rigorous standards and tests and support a growing group of students from low-income families and students who are learning English as a second language … Private fund-raising has not filled the public gap.”
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Report Urges Revamping Student Testing

EdSource

“A new report … recommends alternatives to annual standardized tests … Schools should focus more on ‘formative assessments,’ the curriculum-based problems and quizzes that teachers give to students throughout the school year for feedback on how students are doing, in addition to locally developed alternatives to assessments, … science experiments, literary essays, classroom projects and, by the senior year of high school, internship experiences and portfolios that students can present to employers and colleges … It is critical to stop using annual tests as the chief gauge of school success and student achievement … Congress would give states more flexibility to create strategies addressing student achievement, an equitable distribution of resources and teacher preparation.”
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For More Teens, Arrests By Police Replace School Discipline

The Wall Street Journal

“A generation ago, schoolchildren caught fighting in the corridors, sassing a teacher or skipping class might have ended up in detention. Today, there’s a good chance they will end up in police custody … At school, talking back or disrupting class can be called disorderly conduct, and a fight can lead to assault and battery charges … Some jurisdictions are so overwhelmed that they are experimenting with routing schoolchildren into specially designed courts that would keep first-time offenders from being saddled with an arrest record. Others have passed new laws or policies to dial back police involvement in school discipline … Police, judges and civil-rights organizations all say schools are increasingly the way young people enter the justice system.”
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10/16/2014 – Why Change How We Talk About Education

THIS WEEK: Parent Trigger Misfire … Republicans Vulnerable On Education … Calls For Fewer Tests Build … Blended Learning Is About Making Money … Free College, Not For-Profit College

TOP STORY

Why To Change The Way We Talk About Education

By Jeff Bryant

“At a time like this when policy ideas that once seemed so resolute become shaken by strong voices of opposition, it’s important to reflect back on what kind of thinking went into the policy to begin with … Fortunately, there’s a new book to help us in the serious work of rethinking the nation’s education agenda. What it proposes is to start that work by changing the way we talk about education.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Adelanto Report Card: Year Zero of the Parent Trigger Revolution

Capital & Main

“Throughout 2011 and 2012, the eyes of the education world were focused on Adelanto … and the Desert Trails Preparatory Academy, the first (and so far, only) school in California and the U.S. to be fully chartered under a Parent Trigger law… At the end of Desert Trail’s inaugural, 2013-14 school year, a group of eight former Desert Trails teachers hand-delivered a 15-page complaint to the Adelanto Elementary School District (AESD), charging Desert Trails with an array of improprieties and its executive director, Debra Tarver, with unprofessional and sometimes unethical conduct … Among the most serious accusations are charges that administrative chaos at Desert Trails has resulted in both a stampede of exiting teachers and staff; that uncredentialed instructors have taught in its classrooms; and that Desert Trails had an unwritten policy of dissuading parents of students with special learning needs from seeking special education … The school’s extreme miserliness shortchanged teachers and students on basic classroom tools … Only nine of Desert Trails’ first-year teacher roster – or 33 percent – are returnees this year.”
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This Is What Happens When Republicans Try to Destroy Public Education

The Nation

“Republican candidates around the country are confronting a shared, and significant, vulnerability: education … Several Republicans could fall victim … Conservatives are on the defensive in Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin over their records on education… Polls in several states show education as a top-tier issue … Democrats running for Senate in red and purple states are also picking on education to highlight the impact of Republican policies … Education is also a hot issue in local elections, where some races are attracting a flood of big money.”
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Fewer Tests: Momentum Building, But for Different Solutions

Education Week

“There is a swirl of new activity on the anti-testing front, and it’s yet another sign that the fervor to cut back on testing is moving from the grassroots into the policy world of Washington … A certain angle on the evolving conversation about rethinking testing … seems to be that if we can only clear all the underbrush and make way for PARCC and Smarter Balanced, our testing problem would be solved … But the argument that Smarter Balanced and PARCC will collectively address the nation’s testing problems is unlikely to win universal acclaim … There is a growing chorus of folks out there who don’t see testing as a solution to testing. To put it a different way, they want less testing, or no testing, not different tests. The agitation of those parents, teachers and activists is helping light a fire under the discussions that are creeping increasingly into the salons of Washington’s alphabet-soup groups.”
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Rocketship To Profits

Rethinking Schools

“Blended learning, the hallmark of the Rocketship education model, is based on using computers more and teachers less. Its roots lie in a [Silicon] Valley dominated by high-tech factories … Where do teachers fit into this picture? Rocketship’s charter application in Morgan Hill specified that its staffing ratio would go from 35.92 students per teacher in 2014-15 to 41.27 in 2016-17. Many teachers are hired from Teach For America, and noncredentialed paraprofessionals staff the learning lab … In Silicon Valley the commodification of education is proceeding rapidly. But the takeover of privatized education isn’t inevitable … The Morgan Hill district rejected the corporate charter petitions because of a strong mobilization by the union and other groups.”
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How To Pay For A Free, Non-Racist Higher Education

Black Agenda Report

“The dominos are falling in the for-profit college racket, a cauldron of corruption that has crushed the dreams of millions of African Americans … Corinthian College’s stock fell from a peak of $33 a share, ten years ago, to 33 cents last month, when it became clear that the federal government intended to pull the plug on the $1.6 billion a year rip-off … Corinthian is only the third or fourth-worst offender in the pantheon of for-profit colleges created for the sole purpose of diverting public money to the coffers of hedge funds and mega-banks … Players like the University of Phoenix and Ashford University have become the top producers of baccalaureate degrees among Blacks. But the [Obama]administration – and the Democratic Party, as an institution – also worships at the alter of privatization. Rather than eliminate the felonious educational enterprises root and branch – and spend the money on a nationalized system of free education – Obama will continue to provide tens of billions to nourish the poisoned tree … The for-profits should be put out of business with all deliberate speed, but it would be a further crime to shift that portion of federal aid to schools that have never demonstrated a willingness or competence to serve the demographic so cruelly exploited by the likes of Corinthian.”
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10/9/2014 – Education ‘Reformers’ Have Lost Their PR War

THIS WEEK: Absenteeism Hurts Achievement … Cheating Is Widespread … Teachers Souring On Common Core … Suburban Schools’ Uncertain Future … Don’t Major In Business

TOP STORY

Education ‘Reformers’ Have Lost Their PR War, So Now What?

By Jeff Bryant

“Americans have become accustomed to seeing the figureheads of big-money interests distort reality to suit their needs and get a lot of well-meaning folks to agree with them in turn … But despite nearly a generation of browbeating and finger wagging, the efforts of the ‘education reform’ campaign have completely and utterly failed. Popular opinion appears to be more behind public schools than ever. Few of the measures that have been mandated by self-anointed “reformers” appear to be widely held in favor. And those reform measures that still have some support are not generally well understood by most people and therefore remain shaky.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Chronic Absenteeism Can Devastate K-12 Learning

Education Week

“Half of all students who miss two to four days of school in the first month will go on to miss nearly a month of school in excused or unexcused absences … Nine out of 10 students who missed five or more days in the first month went on to be chronically absent – defined as missing 10 percent of the school year in excused and unexcused absences – for the year … In the early grades, students who are chronically absent have lower reading and math scores, as well as weaker social-emotional skills than they need to persist in school … Chronic absence in middle school is another red flag that a student will drop out of high school. By high school, attendance is a better dropout indicator than test scores … Poor attendance can be turned around if schools and community partners work together with families to monitor who is at risk for poor attendance, nurture a habit of regular attendance, and identify and address the challenges that prevent students from getting to school. The key is using data to identify and intervene early, before students have missed so much school they can’t catch up.”
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Shockingly Widespread Standardized Test Cheating In Schools In 39 States

Alternet

“The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) … has found documented cases of cheating, and in some cases, systematic manipulation of scores, in 39 states and the District of Columbia, over the last five years alone. The organization has also identified more than 60 methods administrators and teachers have used to alter student scores on these tests, from urging low-scorers to be absent the day of the test, to shouting out and otherwise indicating correct answers during testing … FairTest’s director of public education, Bob Schaeffer says … ‘The cheating scandals are one reason among many why the U.S. needs to adopt a new direction in school assessment. We need to move away from testing overuse and misuse, and towards systems of performance-based assessment, in which we look at the real work students do over time, which is much harder to game.’”
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More Teachers Are Souring On Common Core, Finds One Survey

The Hechinger Report

“Fewer teachers are enthusiastic about Common Core implementation and fewer think the new standards will help their students … The percentage of teachers who are enthusiastic about Common Core … is down from 73% last year to 68 … The percentage of teachers in the survey who think the Common Core standards will be good for most of their students is down sharply from 57% in last year’s poll. The percentage of teachers who think it will hurt has more than doubled from 8 percent to 17 percent. And the percentage of teachers who think the standards won’t make much of a difference remained the same at 35 percent … Teacher enthusiasm appears to be declining despite the fact that more teachers report that they are prepared to teach Common Core … teachers with negative views of the core are more likely to express concerns that the standards are not grade appropriate and more likely to worry about how student standardized test results will affect teacher evaluations.”
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America’s Suburban Schools Facing New Pressures

The Washington Post

On the blog of Valerie Strauss, professors Amy Stuart Wells and Douglas Ready write, “In suburbs across the country, we see this 21st Century version of ‘white flight’ leading to a declining tax base and too often increasing racial tension … Our nation’s K-12 public school population – now more than 50 percent ‘minority’ – implies that suburban public schools will be the front line of these changes moving forward … The number of Americans living below the federal poverty line is now greater in the suburbs than the cities, and fewer than 20% of people in the largest metropolitan areas still live in predominantly white suburbs … Once predominantly white and middle-class communities and their public schools begin to change demographically, absent a concerted effort to stabilize the housing market and public schools, a downward fiscal and educational spiral can ensue.”
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In U.S., Business Grads Lag Other Majors in Work Interest

Gallup

“U.S. college graduates who majored in business are the least likely of those who majored in the four large major categories – social sciences/education, sciences/engineering, arts and humanities, and business – to express strong interest in the work they now do, regardless of what career path they may have followed after graduation … Fewer than two in five U.S. college graduates with a business-related degree (37%) strongly agree that they are deeply interested in the work they do, notably lower than majors in the social sciences/education (47%), sciences/engineering (43%) and arts and humanities (43%) … Those who majored in business also lag by a substantial margin behind their academic peers in the critical area of purpose well-being … Less than half of business majors (48%) are thriving … Despite the perceived marketability of business fields that should help boost a person’s earning potential, business majors do not enjoy clear leads over other majors in the area of financial well-being.”
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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

TOP STORY

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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NEWS AND VIEWS

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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9/25/2014 – Democrats Can Win With A Public Education Agenda

THIS WEEK: Homeless Students At Record High … Right Way To Look At Ed Tech … Solar Powered Schools … Business School Fund-Raisers Bomb … Colleges Prefer Rich Kids

TOP STORY

Democrats Can Win With A Public Education Agenda – By Fighting To Fund It

By Jeff Bryant

“Both anecdotal information and empirical data drawn from surveys confirm that voters don’t just value public education; they want candidates who will support classroom teachers and oppose funding cuts to public schools. The evidence is strong that Democrats can make support for public education a winning issue – if they’re willing to take the advice.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Number Of Homeless Students Reaches All-Time High

U.S. News & World Report

“There are more homeless students in the nation than ever before, and many are living completely on their own, without parents or guardians … During the 2012-13 school year, 1,258,182 students enrolled in public school across the country were homeless … an 8% increase from the previous school year, and more than an 85% increase from the 2006-07 school year … The number of homeless children is likely under-reported … 81% of homeless youths are essentially invisible under the current guidelines … Studies show homelessness contributes to a range of other problems facing students, including physical and psychological problems, safety fears and academic struggles. Because homeless children move frequently, they’re more likely to miss school and have lower test scores.”
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You Are Asking The Wrong Questions About Education Technology

Forbes

Contributing op-ed writer Jordan Shapiro says, “Hardly a day goes by that I don’t read an article or have a conversation in which someone makes the familiar argument that ‘education is the one industry that hasn’t embraced the technologies of the 21st Century’ … The very notion of education as an industry is problematic. School is about transmitting values and principles from one generation to the next, not skillfully organizing labor toward productivity … For industry, however, applicability is always prioritized over ideology. Thus, running schools according to the wisdom of the business world is precisely the thought paradigm which led to the high stakes testing procedures that currently plague the United States … We’ve chosen the wrong perspective … We need to make sure that these tools are also aligned with learning outcomes which prioritize human dignity rather than haste, consumption, and algorithmic metrics.”
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Putting Solar Panels On School Roofs Could Dramatically Increase America’s Solar Capacity

Think Progress

“If schools took advantage of their full potential for solar, they would add 5.4 gigawatts to the country’s solar capacity … That would be enough to power roughly one million homes, and a carbon emissions reduction equivalent to taking around one million passenger vehicles off the road … The electricity generated by the 3,727 school solar systems already in place adds up to $77.8 million in utility bills per year, freeing up enough money to pay 2,200 new teachers a starting annual salary of $35,672 … 450 individual school districts who currently lack solar could save themselves $1,000,000 each over a 30-year period by installing a solar system … Solar systems could provide teachers with an opportunity to give their students a hands-on educational experience in science, technology, engineering, and related subjects.”
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Schools’ Activities to Raise Money With Businesses Don’t Pay, Researchers Say

Education Week

“School districts that boost their coffers by entering into money-making agreements with companies rarely gain much in return … [The] impact is marginal, and the cost of administering and maintaining such contracts is seldom factored into the equation … Looking for alternate sources to raise revenues and to provide tax relief … the numbers don’t add up … The efforts might not be worth the potential down side, which includes exposing children as a ‘captive audience’ to the commercial messages, and promoting unhealthy products.”
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Colleges Let Taxpayers Help Poor Students While They Go After Rich, Report Says

The Hechinger Report

“Universities and colleges are shifting their financial aid from low-income students to high-income ones to bolster their prestige and raise them up the rankings … Universities are leaving their poorest families to vie for a piece of billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded Pell Grants … Because of this, the federal government continues to spend more and more on Pell grants … The proportion of private, nonprofit universities and colleges that now charge the poorest families $15,000 or more in tuition and fees – even after financial aid and discounts are accounted for – is rising sharply. That means the neediest students are paying an amount that equals at least half of their families’ annual incomes … The trend is not confined to private institutions. Forty percent of public universities and colleges also now charge $10,000 or more a year to students from families in the $30,000-or-less income bracket.”
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9/18/2014 – What’s The Matter With Kansas Education Policy?

THIS WEEK: Americans Want Highly-Qualified Teachers … Teachers Find Greener Pastures … Schools Arming Up … High School Rankings Make No Sense … Student College Loan Debt Hits Elderly Too

TOP STORY

What’s The Matter With Kansas Education Policy?

By Jeff Bryant

“Since the nation’s Great Recession, public education in Kansas has seen state funding cut repeatedly … Kansas is not the only place … Even now, as some state budgets see some recovery, and national leaders agree on new appropriations (the few times they can), most public school budgets are still unable to get back to funding levels they were prior to the recession … The American populace is increasingly angered by the financial calamity that has befallen their schools, and there are signs some politicians may have rude awakenings in upcoming elections this November and beyond.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Americans Want Teachers To Take A Bar Exam

The Atlantic

“In a new poll out today, Americans say they want teacher preparation programs to raise the bar for entrance, provide longer training periods for practice teaching, and require new teachers to pass a rigorous certification exam … Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans said they had ‘trust and confidence’ in public-school teachers … The percentage of Americans who say they favor tying a teacher’s evaluation to her student’s test scores has been steadily declining, to 38% this year from 52% in 2012 … There’s been a steep plummet in the percentage of Americans who said a college education was ‘very important’: 43% this year, down from a high of 75% in 2010.”
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Half Of Those Leaving Teaching Report Better Working Conditions In Other Jobs

Education Week

“Of the 3.4 million public school teachers teaching in 2011-12 … 84% stayed at their schools, 8% went to a different school, and 8% left the profession … Teachers in years 1-3 of teaching were more likely to move to a different school (13%), but actually less likely to leave the profession altogether (7%) … Teachers who left the teaching profession in 2012-13, 51 percent said they had a more manageable work load and 53% reported better working conditions in their current positions.”
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Schools Acquire Grenade Launchers, MRAPs and Other Military Equipment – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Alternet

“More than 20 school districts across the county have been acquiring surplus military equipment from the Pentagon … The school districts and campus security forces range in size from small Saddleback College in southern California, whose nine-member squad received a MRAP – mine resistant ambush protected – vehicle … to Los Angeles Unified School District, which received 61 M16 assault rifles, three grenade launchers and one MRAP … San Diego’s school district also requested and received an MRAP …In Edinburg, Texas, the district has its own SWAT team … ‘It is frankly difficult to imagine how a grenade launcher, or any of these items, could be safely used in any scenario involving schools,’ the [NAACP] wrote in a letter to the federal program’s administrators.”
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Ranking High Schools Tells You Which Schools Are Rich Or Selective

Vox

Education journalist Libby Nelson writes, “The recent spread of rankings mania to high schools makes no sense … The public schools that top these lists are mostly selective magnet schools that get to pick which students they educate. If they’re not, they’re much likely to enroll fewer poor students than public schools as a whole … Knowing what the best high school is doesn’t matter if you can’t afford to live in its attendance area or if you don’t have the test scores to get in … The problem is that most of this isn’t about what the schools themselves are doing … Nobody should take these rankings seriously.”
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Student Debt Collections Are Leaving The Elderly In Poverty

Businessweek

“Elderly Americans have more student loan debt than ever and are more likely to become chronically unable to make payments than younger borrowers … Federal student debt among Americans 65 and older increased six-fold since 2005 … Over 80% of elderly borrowers were still struggling to pay off loans they took out to pay for their education … Some 31% of the student loans held by Americans aged 65 and older were in default last year. That makes the elderly about twice as likely to hold defaulted loans as Americans under the age of 50 … Most of those who saw Social Security payments slashed to repay student loans in 2013 were living on benefit income that was under the poverty line.”
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9/11/2014 – Real Leadership For Education Progress

THIS WEEK: U.S. Teachers Work Harder For Less … We’re #1 On Cutting Education Spending … Anti-Testing Movement Grows … Teaching In Ferguson … Government Partnering With College Debt Collectors

TOP STORY

Recognizing Real Leadership For Education Progress: Mayor Bill de Blasio

By Jeff Bryant

“Despite all the interest, access to high-quality early education opportunities for every child … remains elusive … Politicians seem incapable of coming up with the money. Mayor de Blasio is the exception. Not only did he make campaign promises to expand pre-k programs, but he has proven that a capable leader can make those promises reality.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

American Teachers Spend More Time In The Classroom Than World Peers, Says Report

The Huffington Post

“American elementary school teachers spend more hours actually teaching students than peers in any other surveyed country … American middle school and high school teachers spend more time educating students than peers in every OECD country except Chile … In addition to classroom time, U.S. teachers are required to be at school for more hours than most of their international peers. Despite the long hours, American teachers aren’t well compensated … While U.S. raw teacher salaries are high compared with the rest of the world, the pay lags behind that of similarly educated American workers.”
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U.S. Is Often An Outlier In Global Education

AAAS

“The United States cut back on education spending after the Great Recession, whereas the government of the United Kingdom poured more money into its schools. Those two contrasting data points are part of a massive new analysis of the state of education around the world … The U.S. remains the world leader in overall education spending … Even so, spending dropped by 3% in real terms for the 3 years after the global financial meltdown in 2008. Only five other countries chose to go that route … The data on education mobility – whether an adult child completed more education than his or her parents did – are sobering. Along with Germany, the U.S. sits in the bottom tier of countries when it comes to giving the next generation a leg up the skills ladder. Only 30% of U.S. adults no longer in school, and 25% in Germany, have surpassed their parents in the classroom.”
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Anti-Testing Movement Growing, Finding Success Around Country

The Washington Post

“A new report on growing resistance to high-stakes standardized testing around the country finds that the movement is growing and meeting some success in numerous states where officials have decided to cut back on the numbers of tests students must take and/or the consequences for students and educators … A national look at how states are responding to growing resistance … found … States repealing high school graduation requirements and rolling back other test requirements … States postponing the consequences of Common Core testing … Successful, high-profile protests in the form of opt outs, boycotts and other actions … Opinion polls showing shifts in public attitudes against high-stakes testing … Candidates winning office by speaking out clearly against high-stakes testing.”
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Teaching In The Shadow Of The Ferguson Shooting

Education Week

A teacher from Michael Brown’s school district writes, “Even before the shooting and the dramatic aftermath broadcast around the world, our district was accustomed to being and bearing bad news. Normandy is a poor, predominantly African-American community beset by challenges in housing, employment, and access to social, emotional, and physical health care … Now, factor in the shooting … There is the unspoken but ever-present awareness, especially among the boys, that life can end in a flash, even for the kids – like Michael Brown – who manage to navigate the system and graduate. So how do you tell a 14-year-old about the value of staying in school, given what happened here? Believe me, I’m trying. The other day, I watched a group of my students – all boys, unprompted – wordlessly re-enact the shooting from beginning to end, using a fistful of my newly sharpened pencils as the cigarillos Michael allegedly stole before he was gunned down … I’m one adult alone in a room with other people’s children in the heart of a community in pain.”
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The Education Department’s Problematic Billion-Dollar Partnership With Debt Collection Agencies

BuzzFeed

“A new report … claims that the $1 billion per year partnership between the Education Department and private loan collectors leads to abuse and hurts students borrowers because of its ratings system and compensation structure for debt collection … Because those private agencies are driven by profit … they often act in their own financial interests, rather than those of borrowers … Under their partnership, the government pays sizable, percentage-based commissions to debt collection agencies if borrowers pay down their balances or have their wages garnished, but pays out only small administrative fees if borrowers switch to income-based repayment plans or have their loans cancelled because of disabilities … The system also makes it less likely that borrowers receive services like disability or bankruptcy discharges.”
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9/3/2014 – The Education Conversation ‘Reformers’ Want Versus The One They Get

THIS WEEK: Hating Teachers … Grit Not So Good … Music Lessons Help Disadvantaged Kids … Never-Ending Testing … Fox News Lauds Arming Teachers

TOP STORY

The Education Conversation ‘Reformers’ Want Versus The One They Get

By Jeff Bryant

“Recent calls for more “civility” in discussions about education and for taking ‘the politics’ and ‘partisanship’ out of policy debates are suddenly all the rage among the edu-policy crowd gravitating around Washington, D.C. There are reasons why Beltway-inspired education wonks are calling out the tone police – but it’s got very little to do with honesty and ‘facts.’ Instead, read a little more deeply into these calls for taking ‘the politics’ out of the debate, and what you find is itself a rather political agenda.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Why Do Americans Love To Blame Teachers?

The Atlantic

In reviewing Dana Goldstein’s new book The Teacher Wars, Noah Berlatsky writes, “Discussions of education in the U.S. have repeatedly been framed in terms of moral panics. A moral panic, she says, occurs when ‘policymakers and the media focus on a single class of people … as emblems of a large, complex social problem’ … That helps to explain the otherwise mystifying path that current school reform has taken … The dream… seems to be that if only our schools could get rid of the career educators and install angels instead, the millennium would arrive … Our education system has many problems, but one of the biggest is that we define those problems in terms of ‘teacher wars’ – and then try to solve them through a war on teachers.”
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‘Grit’ May Not Spur Creative Success, Scholars Say

Education Week

“Studies … have found that a person’s ‘grit’ – a measure of conscientiousness and perseverance – could predict everything from graduation rates at West Point to National Spelling Bee champions. Those findings have sparked intense interest among educators in nurturing student motivation … Two separate analyses … found that neither grit nor two related characteristics of consistency and perseverance predicted a student’s success in various types of creative endeavors, including visual and performing art, writing, scientific ingenuity, or even creativeness in everyday problem-solving … A student’s openness to new experiences was most closely associated with his or her likelihood of accomplishing creative works.”
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Music Lessons Enhance Brain Function in Disadvantaged Kids

Pacific Standard

“New research finds one important aspect of neural functioning is gradually strengthened when underprivileged children engage in a challenging but fun activity: Music lessons … ‘Community music programs can literally remodel children’s brains in a way that improves sound processing, which could lead to better learning and language skills,’ reports lead author Nina Kraus … Researchers found this particular benefit of music education doesn’t kick in until after two full years of training. A few lessons won’t do it … It all adds to the mass of evidence … that music training impacts young brains in ways that go far beyond aesthetic appreciation.”
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In Miami-Dade Schools, Testing Doesn’t End

Miami Herald

In the nation’s 5th largest school district, “Out of the 180-day academic year, Miami-Dade County schools will administer standardized tests on every day but eight. Though not every student will take every test, the number and consequences of testing are facing a growing backlash from parents, teachers and even some district officials … Bound by state and federal rules, Dade officials say they have little control over how many tests they have to give, and when they have to give them … In Florida, standardized test scores can mean the difference between a student’s passing or failing a grade. For teachers, student test results can lead to a raise or a pink slip. Schools can face closure if students consistently under-perform.”
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As Children Go Back To School, Fox News Hosts Push Discredited Plan To Arm Teachers

MediaMatters

“The hosts of Fox & Friends roundly endorsed a Texas school district that allows teachers to carry guns, even though security experts reject the idea of armed teachers and civilians with concealed guns have not stopped past mass shooting incidents … There is no evidence that teachers carrying guns will prevent future school shooting incidents … Mass shootings at schools have even occurred where schools have armed guards … Programs that arm teachers are opposed by the National Education Association … School safety expert Bill Bond, who works for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, has also noted that the responsibility of carrying a gun would distract teachers from their prerogative to educate students.”
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8/28/14 – Charter Schools Don’t Need An Ad Campaign

THIS WEEK: Widening Inequality … Report Urges Fewer Tests … Arne Duncan’s Harmful Policies … High Teacher Turnover … Student Loan Apocalypse

TOP STORY

Charter Schools Don’t Need An Ad Campaign, They Need Regulation

By Jeff Bryant

“This time of year, while classroom teachers and administrators in public schools are busy welcoming students back to a new school year and figuring out how they’re going to cope with devastating financial constraints, advocates in the charter schools industry are propping up their image with an extensive new public relations campaign, called ‘Truth About Charters.’ That contrast alone pretty much tells you everything you need to know about where we are in the nation’s parallel education narratives, in which a gritty documentary competes with what is essentially an advertising campaign for a shiny, new product.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Back To School, And To Widening Inequality

Robert Reich

Economist Robert Reich writes on his personal blog, “The achievement gap between poor kids and wealthy kids isn’t mainly about race … It’s a reflection of the nation’s widening gulf between poor and wealthy families. And also about how schools in poor and rich communities are financed … As we segregate by income into different communities, schools in lower-income areas have fewer resources than ever. The result is widening disparities in funding per pupil … The wealthiest highest-spending districts are now providing about twice as much funding per student as are the lowest-spending districts … The United States is one of only three, out of 34 advanced nations surveyed by the OECD, whose schools serving higher-income children have more funding per pupil and lower student-teacher ratios than do schools serving poor students … Until we recognize we’re systematically hobbling schools serving disadvantaged kids, we’re unlikely to make much headway ”
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Accountability Report Urges Fewer Tests, More Peer Review

Education Week

“Accountability for the public schools should be far less test-driven and more the product of teachers holding one another to high professional standards, the National Center on Education and the Economy proposes in a report … Essentially, the NCEE calls on the U.S. to administer tests only in 4th, 8th, and 10th grades, and to use tests that focus largely on performance tasks. In other grades, tests would be taken by random samples of students. To ensure coverage of the full curriculum, these tests would gradually test science and other subjects in addition to English and math. If the results of these exams suggested that a school was falling behind the state curriculum or not sufficiently educating vulnerable students, they could trigger school inspections … The report also urges states to help set up “career ladders” in which experienced teachers would take on roles mentoring colleagues and refining teaching practices; teachers would be held to high standards by their peers.”
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Is Doing Less Harm Enough For Education Secretary Duncan?

The Washington Post

Barnett Berry, chief executive officer at the Center for Teaching Quality writes, “It has taken [Secretary of Education Arne] Duncan far too long to heed educators’ concerns about new evaluation systems reliant on tests not yet aligned with new college- and career-ready standards … So, what next? … The federal government could spread best practices for evaluation found in top-performing nations like Singapore … The U.S. Department of Education could help to ensure that evaluation systems yield useful information by encouraging states to implement serious peer review systems that give teachers information and support … The USDOE should maximize its new Teach to Lead initiative—inviting accomplished teachers to create and lead professional learning systems that spread expertise to improve student outcomes.”
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Half Of Teachers Leave The Job After Five Years. Here’s What To Do About It.

The Hechinger Report

“A new report … found that about 13% of the nation’s 3.4 million teachers move schools or leave the profession every year, costing states up to $2 billion. Researchers estimate that over 1 million teachers move in and out of schools annually, and between 40 and 50% quit within five years … The high turnover rates are sometimes due to layoffs, ‘but the primary reason they leave is because they’re dissatisfied’ … New teachers need more on-the-job training and mentor programs for the first two years that’s designed to keep them in the profession. Called ‘comprehensive induction,’ the training should include a high-quality, pre-screened mentor who is an experienced teacher, common planning time with other teachers, regular and rigorous training, and ongoing contact with school leaders.”
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These 9 Charts Show America’s Coming Student Loan Apocalypse

The Huffington Post

“More than half of Direct Loans … aren’t being repaid on time or as expected … Nearly half of the loans in repayment are in plans scheduled to take longer than 10 years. The number of loans in distress is rising. The increase in troubled loans comes as the average amount of student debt has significantly outpaced wage growth … The Education Department released data this month providing a much more detailed snapshot into how borrowers are coping with their federal student loans and how the government’s handpicked loan companies are juggling their obligations to borrowers and taxpayers … With a lackluster economy, tepid wage growth and vast numbers of Americans still looking for full-time work, some federal policymakers fear current borrowers will need more time to repay their loans than previous generations … The larger fear … ‘Will we have a generation of people who hit age 65 or 70 without any assets?’”
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8/20/2014 – Schools White People Cannot See

THIS WEEK: Obama Losing Public Support … Bad News For Common Core … Justice Panels Instead Of Suspensions … NCLB Waivers Lose Favor … What To Teach About Michael Brown

TOP STORY

Back To Schools White People Cannot See

By Jeff Bryant

“The ‘oxymoronic’ term ‘majority-minority’ is another ‘clear indicator’ of how white people continue to perceive themselves as a “majority” even when statistically they no longer are, in many respects. Public education, in particular, is now one of those ‘majority-minority’ arenas … Given this understanding of the way white privilege distorts perceptions of reality, it’s not a leap of logic to suggest that political and policy leaders have a distorted understanding of the conditions in schools populated by children who look nothing like them. And it’s not unfair in the least to wonder if these leaders are incapable of really seeing the schools they purport to render policy direction for.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Obama Losing Public Support On Education Issues, New Poll Finds

The Washington Post

“Results of a well-regarded annual poll: Support for President Obama on education issues is waning – with only 27% giving him an A or B … A majority of the public … have more trust in their local school board than in the federal government … Support for Obama in education has fallen every year since 2011… A majority of Americans cite the biggest problem facing public schools today as lack of financial support.”
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Bad Week For The Common Core

Politico

“Two new national polls … found the public souring on the academic standards … One … found a steep plunge in support for the standards among public school teachers … [Another] … found that 80% of Americans have heard about the Common Core … Familiarity has apparently bred distrust: Fully 60% of respondents said they opposed using the standards to guide instruction in their community … Among those naysayers, more than three-quarters told pollsters their opposition was motivated at least in part by a belief that local teachers don’t support the standards … Though the major unions both back the Common Core, leaders have complained that their members lack the training, resources and support to implement the standards properly.”
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Schools Find Justice Panels More Effective Than Suspending Students

Alternet

“Children’s advocates, teachers and principals have long argued that suspensions are ineffective at improving student behavior … One suspension more often that not leads to many more; students who are suspended are also more likely to drop out of school, break the law and eventually end up in jail. By using justice panels, student mentoring and peer-led conflict resolution, schools … But restorative justice comes with its own difficulties. The student must take responsibility for his or her actions.”
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Sheen Fades as NCLB Waivers Near Three-Year Mark

Education Week

“In 2011, states chafing under the badly outdated No Child Left Behind Act leapt at the Obama administration’s offer of relief … The biggest policy pothole experts identify over and over again: The waivers tied together the controversial Common Core State Standards, new aligned assessments, and teacher performance … The combination has led to political strife in states … Even state officials with a generally positive view of the waivers say the Education Department has at times fallen short of its rhetoric on collaboration … The waivers have been panned by the administration’s own congressional allies … as a retreat from accountability, particularly for the poor and minority students that the NCLB law was designed to protect.”
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What Do We Teach When Kids Are Dying? #MichaelBrown

Practical Theory

Chris Lehmann principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA writes on his personal blog, “When I heard that Mike Brown was shot – unarmed, multiple times – by a police officer, my thoughts immediately went to the many stories I have heard over the years from my students of color about their experiences with the police … Conversations I have heard have spoken to a deep level of distrust and fear between students of color and the police … The reaction of the authorities in Ferguson, MO since Mike Brown was shot … has looked more like a police state than anything I can remember in America in my lifetime. All over the country, students are on social media asking – what kind of country does this to its own citizens? … It is incredibly daunting to think about how we frame this issue in our classrooms, but that cannot be the reason for educators to shy away from it. And, if nothing else, now is a moment where educators need to listen deeply to students who need to express what they are feeling … Mike Brown’s death must serve to remind us that there is no such thing … as passive anti-racism. His death – and the police state that Ferguson, MO has become since his death – must remind us that institutional racism is the norm in this country and therefore we have to actively work to do better.”
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