Education Opportunity Network

Education Opportunity Network -

4/23/2014 – Parental Advice To Education Policy Makers

THIS WEEK: English Learning Neglected … Bullying Effects Last … Most Teachers Not “Engaged” … TFA Takes Teachers’ Jobs … Public Schools Out-Perform Voucher Schools

TOP STORY

Parental Advice To Education Policy Makers

By Jeff Bryant

“A recent spate of new research studies have revealed current education policies … as being dangerously misaligned with parenting and the multiple roles it plays not only in child development and achievement but also in school governance. Alternative approaches more in tune with the parental role in education attainment are being tried and used successfully in schools. But too little attention and resources are being focused on these potentially more positive policy directions.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

ELL Students Neglected In School Turnaround Efforts

THE Journal

“A new evaluation of School Improvement Grant (SIG) recipients shows that even in schools with high percentages of English language learners, ELL students were poorly represented in strategic reform efforts … Only moderate attention was paid to the unique needs of ELLs. For the most part, only limited attention was given. No schools achieved the highest category, ‘strategic attention’ … Schools in the study focused most of their early efforts under SIG to the broader student population, such as efforts to curb behavior problems, revamping math and reading curricula and focusing on general teacher development.”
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Forty Years On, Bullying Takes Its Toll On Health And Wealth

Reuters

“The negative social, physical and mental health effects of childhood bullying are still evident nearly 40 years later… People who were frequently bullied in childhood were at an increased risk of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and experiencing suicidal thoughts. Victims of bullying were also more likely to have lower educational levels, less likely to be in a relationship and more likely to report lower quality of life. Men who had been bullied were also more likely to be unemployed and earn less.”
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Gallup Poll Finds Majority Of Teachers “Not Engaged”

Education Week

Veteran teacher John Thompson reports, “Gallup’s latest study found that 56% of teachers polled are ‘not engaged.’ They may be satisfied with their jobs, but they are not emotionally connected to their schools. Another 13% are ‘actively disengaged’ … Teachers are dead last among occupational groups in terms of their opinions being heard at work … Gallup concludes that the ‘increased use of high-stakes testing at the state and district levels may be exacerbating this problem’ … The first step in improving schools, Gallup finds, is asking teachers about curriculum, pedagogy, and other issues, and then incorporating their feedback into the decision-making … Gallup emphasizes the need to improve working conditions, grant teachers greater (not less) autonomy, and professional development.”
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Teachers Are Losing Their Jobs, But Teach For America’s Expanding. What’s Wrong With That?

The Hechinger Report

“Since the recession, with education funding across the country drying up, teacher layoffs have become more of an issue than teacher shortages … With Teach for America’s expansion outpacing needs, it has been forced to find new places for its recruits … where teaching jobs – not teachers – are scarce … TFA’s growth also increasingly hinges on fueling the country’s thriving charter movement … [According to] TFA founder Wendy Kopp … people often misunderstand the function of TFA. “We’re a leadership development organization, not a teaching organization” … The organization’s lobbying data indicate that it has spent nearly as much on lobbying since 2010 as it did in the previous decade.”
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Once Again, WI Public Schools Outperform Taxpayer-Funded Voucher Schools

National Education Association

“The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has just released new test results that show public school students in Milwaukee and Racine are outperforming those kids who attend voucher schools in both locations. Test results show the same is true even for those students who are categorized as ‘economically disadvantaged’ … Given the research on voucher schools, why would Gov. Scott Walker and the state legislature expand vouchers over the last two budget cycles? Walker and state legislative leaders are taking their cues from outside groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – which is pro-privatization and one of the biggest adversaries of public education.”
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4/16/2014 – Education Reform’s Biggest Bust

THIS WEEK: Reform Harms Civic Engagement … Public School Advantage … Digital Divide In Schools … Teens Can’t Find Work … More College Students Battle Hunger

TOP STORY

Are Teacher Evaluations Education ‘Reform’s’ Biggest Bust?

By Jeff Bryant

“Just this week, a key underpinning to the whole teacher evaluation program pushed by the Obama administration was cast into doubt … These new schemes are doing great harm to teachers and, consequentially, the students in their charge … Meantime, the only response from those in charge has been to ‘stay the course.’”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Education: States’ Standardized Tests Have A Negative Impact On Parents’ Civic Engagement

Science Daily

“New research has found that parents of public school students in states with more extensive and stringent student assessment systems express lower trust in government and more negative views of their children’s schools … Highly developed assessment policies alienate parents from government and discourage parental involvement in education … Parents in states with more developed assessment systems were less likely to become engaged in some parental involvement behaviors, especially contacting teachers and participating in school fundraisers … These policies tend to depress civic engagement among parents because they provide few opportunities for parental input and can introduce undesirable changes into schools.”
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The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools

Stanford Social Innovation Review

“Evidence … points to a new, emerging view of the academic performance and impact of public schools in contrast to the outcomes of their more autonomous counterparts in the charter and private sectors … The data show that the more regulated public school sector embraces more innovative and effective professional practices, while independent schools often use their greater autonomy to avoid such reforms, leading to curricular stagnation … Despite what many reformers, policy makers, media elites, and even parents may believe, these public schools are, on average, actually providing a more effective educational service relative to schools in the independent sector.”
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Vast Digital Divide Exists In K-12 Schools, E-Rate Analysis Shows

Education Week

“Applications for federal E-rate money show broad gaps between wealthy and poor school systems’ access to high-quality technologies, and varying abilities among districts to purchase connectivity at affordable rates … The country’s schools – particularly its most impoverished ones – have a long way to go … Schools with higher levels of technology buy at cheaper prices … Many districts, even those who in theory could obtain connectivity, often can’t afford it … Many technology advocates, meanwhile, have called for raising the [federal E-rate] program’s yearly budget from the current $2.4 billion to as much as $5 billion.”
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What Happens When American Teenagers Can’t Find Work

National Journal

“The employment rates for teenagers, ages 16 to 19, plummeted from 45 percent in 2000 to just 26 percent in 2011 … the lowest rate of teen employment in the post-World War II era. The teens hardest hit by the tough labor market also happen to be the least fortunate ones: those with less education, from poorer households, or from minority backgrounds … Study after study shows that early work experience helps teens and young adults build confidence and pick up crucial soft skills, like how to arrive at work on-time and not irritate one’s boss … Prescriptions: Incorporating more apprenticeships and internships into educational settings; giving teenagers access to skills training that a particular region will need in the future; and more robust career counseling to make teens think ahead.”
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More College Students Battle Hunger As Education And Living Costs Rise

The Washington Post

“A problem known as ‘food insecurity’ – a lack of nutritional food … is increasingly on the radar of administrators, who report seeing more hungry students, especially at schools that enroll a high percentage of youths who are from low-income families or are the first generation to attend college … As campuses look for solutions, the number of university food pantries has shot up, from four in 2008 to 121 today … Although there are no comprehensive nationwide surveys of student hunger, experts said, there is evidence that it is rising and may be much higher than the national average for all age groups.”
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4/10/2014 – America’s Biggest Failures

THIS WEEK: Poverty Saps Instructional Time … Why Let Kids Make Rules … Chicago Charter Schools Are No Better … Do E-Books Harm Reading Comprehension … For-Profit College Capture Washington, DC

TOP STORY

Testing Season Reveals America’s Biggest Failures

By Jeff Bryant

“It’s testing season in America, and regardless of how the students do, it’s clear who is already flunking the exams … So far, major media outlets and an entrenched education regime that’s prevailed in policy making for over 30 years are proving they’re not up to the task.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Poverty-Related Challenges Sap Instructional Time In High Schools

Education Week

“Poverty-related challenges steal time from high school class periods, leading students at low-income schools to receive an average of half an hour less instruction per day than their higher-income peers … Disruptions such as welcoming new students to the classrooms, and locking down the school during emergencies and drills eat away at more instructional time at high poverty schools than in lower-poverty schools … Teachers at high-poverty schools were significantly more likely to report that they experienced chronic loss of instructional time because their classrooms were noisy or needed to be cleaned and because they did not have enough qualified substitute teachers, computers, or access to the school library … Teachers in high-poverty schools also reported spending more time on important but non-instructional tasks such as connecting students to health-care providers, talking to them about future plans, and discussing problems in their lives.”
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The New School Detention, Where Kids Make Rules And A Prison Pipeline Ends

The Guardian

Dana Goldstein writes, “New kid courts, in which students are empowered to set school rules and mete out the punishments for breaking them, are sometimes called ‘restorative justice’. The concept, borrowed from the world of legal mediation, shows real evidence of working in schools … Those strategies reflect middle-class child-rearing norms … by allowing kids to explain their side of the story and then negotiate a fair set of consequences … Last year the National Institute of Health announced the first randomized study of these strategies, which will help policy-makers figure out if they live up to advocates’ hype. In the meantime, the Obama administration has asked states and schools to make suspensions and expulsions a last resort.”
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Charter Schools Show Little Difference In School Performance

Chicago Sun-Times

“Since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011, Chicago has ordered the closings of dozens of neighborhood public schools while approving a new wave of publicly financed, privately operated charter schools, in a much-touted effort to improve education … But even as many parents have embraced the new schools, there’s little evidence in standardized test results that charters are performing better than traditional schools … In fact, in 2013, CPS schools had a higher percentage of elementary students who exceeded the standards for state tests for reading and math than the schools that are privately run with Chicago taxpayer funds … As with neighborhood schools, there is a wide range in the test scores of charter schools, even within some of Chicago’s largest charter chains … Unlike charter schools, which can draw students from a broad geographic area, neighborhood schools must adhere to CPS’ attendance boundaries.”
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Early Concerns About E-Books’ Effect On Reading Comprehension, Researchers Say

Education Week

Two new research studies found, “Digital devices and online reading materials are flooding U.S. schools, but there are some early reasons to worry whether they are helping children better learn to read. … The first study found that a small sample of students comprehended traditional books at ‘a much higher level’ than they comprehended the same material when read on an iPad … The second study found that while students in 18 classrooms were ‘highly motivated by their interactions’ with interactive e-books created using Apple’s iBooks Author software, they ‘often skipped over text, where the meat of the information was’ … The early data raise some concerns and should prompt educators, policymakers, and publishers to reconsider assumptions that the skills students use to read print materials automatically transfer to the reading of digital materials.”
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The Perfect Lobby: How One Industry Captured Washington, DC

The Nation

“Many of America’s for-profit colleges have proven themselves a bad deal for the students lured by their enticing promises – as well as for US taxpayers … So why does Washington keep the money flowing? … Supporters of stronger standards to protect students from industry predation … have far fewer financial resources for the battle … The [for-profit college] industry has already displayed a willingness to spend tens of millions to manipulate the machinery of modern influence-peddling – and with a remarkable degree of success. Because most of this lobbying money is financed by taxpayers, this is a story of how Washington itself created a monster … Eventually, the predatory for-profit colleges may be forced to curb their egregious behavior as more of it comes to light. Enrollments and share prices have plummeted in recent years as the public has gotten wise. But their aggressive advertising and recruiting continues, and thousands more students will sign up this week for programs that will wreck their futures.”
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4/2/2014 – A ‘Fair Shot’ Agenda For Education

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

TOP STORY

Time For A ‘Fair Shot’ Agenda For Education

By Jeff Bryant

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

The Biggest Public School Problem Might Be the Brand

Takepart

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

Phi Delta Kappan

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

The Atlantic

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

The Conversation

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

The Washington Post

Welner joins award-winning principal Carol Burris to write, “We can all agree: college is not for everybody. But should school officials and top-down policy makers decide based, for example, on Common Core college readiness test scores, or should the decision be left to parents and students after schools have given them meaningful, enriching, equitable opportunities to learn? … History tells us that schools should not be in the business of foreclosing children’s options … When schools sort in this way, it is the disadvantaged children who are directed toward lower-tier tracks … To say in a supposedly neutral way that not all students will go to college is disingenuous without first acknowledging something else: that what’s really being said is that we should accept that college is for the already advantaged … High schools have an obligation to do their best to prepare students for college and career; preparation for both has more overlap than often assumed.”
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3/26/2014 – When ‘Reform’ Perpetuates Racial Inequity

THIS WEEK: Demographics Affect Teacher Retention … Education Inequality Is Racial … Taxpayers Fund Creationism … Charter Pay Stays Secret … Community Colleges In Crisis

TOP STORY

How ‘Education Reform’ Perpetuates Racial Disparity

By Jeff Bryant

“America was shocked, shocked, by new data from the U.S. Department of Education last week showing that a child’s education destiny in the nation’s public schools is strongly determined by race … As the information made the rounds from one media outlet to another, exclamations of concern ensued. Most telling though was that few people bothered to ask how such overt racial disparity came about and why – and what to do to change the trajectory.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Report: As Teacher Demographics Change, Districts Must Prioritize Retention

Education Week

“Between 1988 and 2008, annual teacher attrition increased 41%. Nearly one third of teachers exit the field within the first three years … In urban school systems… more than two thirds of teachers in those schools leave within 5 years. The attrition rate in high poverty schools is 50 percent greater than it is in other schools. Teachers of color leave at much higher rates than white teachers … Teacher attrition costs school districts more than $7 billion to recruit and induct new teachers … Because lower-income urban schools have a particularly hard time with teacher retention, their students on average receive weaker instruction … A national survey of teachers found that over half planned to leave the profession; new teachers who entered the profession through non-traditional routes, including Teach For America, were even more likely to express this outlook.”
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School Data Finds Pattern of Inequality Along Racial Lines

The New York Times

“Racial minorities are more likely than white students to be suspended from school, to have less access to rigorous math and science classes, and to be taught by lower-paid teachers with less experience … Black students are suspended and expelled at three times the rate of white students. A quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students do not offer any Algebra II courses, while a third of those schools do not have any chemistry classes. Black students are more than four times as likely as white students – and Latino students are twice as likely – to attend schools where one out of every five teachers does not meet all state teaching requirements … Even as early as preschool, black students face harsher discipline than other students.’”
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Special Report: Taxpayers Fund Creationism In The Classroom

POLITICO

“Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies. Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way from Alaska to New York, a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment … About 250,000 students take advantage of vouchers and tax-credit scholarships … up about 30% from 2010. Some states have built growth into their laws … Voucher proponents often describe the programs as a chance for students to escape failing public schools and obtain a better education. Yet the review of school websites and curricula found that some voucher schools openly declare that academics come second to their chief mission: training students to obey and glorify the Lord.”
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Can NC Charter School Pay Stay Secret?

The Charlotte Observer

“North Carolina charter schools don’t have to disclose employee salaries like other public schools do, even though they receive hundreds of millions of dollars in public money, state education officials said … The state is spending $304.5 million for 127 charter schools that serve about 58,700 students, with counties required to kick in millions more. Twenty-six more charter schools will open in August … People active in education and government … had always assumed that charter schools had to disclose the same salary information that school districts do … But leaders of the state’s two charter school associations … said charter schools’ spending gets adequate oversight through required audits and monitoring by the state Office of Charter Schools.”
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Community Of Equals?

Democracy Journal

New Century’s Richard Kahlneberg writes, “Community colleges, where a whopping 11 million students are enrolled, or 44% of all undergraduates in the country… do a great job of providing access but a dismal job of helping students complete degrees … When you ask new community college students what they aspire to, 81% say they would eventually like to get a four-year degree. But the reality is that after six years, only 12% of entering community college students graduate with a four-year degree … Increasing segregation and inadequate funding correlate with disappointing outcomes in community colleges … So how can community colleges recapture the dream of promoting social mobility and American competitiveness? Three strategies look promising: scaling up best practices; reforming the way we fund colleges; and reducing racial and economic segregation of students.”
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3/19/2014 – Extremists In The Education Debate

THIS WEEK: Georgia Pre-K Program Results … Schools Discriminate Against Students Of Color … Charter School ‘Backfill’ … New Bill Would Curb Testing … Crack Down On For-Profit Universities

TOP STORY

New Extremists In The Education Debate

By Jeff Bryant

“The new extremists in the education debate … represent a mindset unwilling to fight things out on a democratic playing field, no matter how unlevel. Instead, they aim to eliminate the playing field altogether … What extremists in the education debate are calling for now is to remove all trust and respect from ordinary people and deposit that faith into a competitive market system operated by people who more often than not don’t even live in the same community the children and parents do.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Those in Georgia’s Universal Pre-K Tested Better Than Unenrolled Peers, Study Says

Education Week

“Children in Georgia’s state-funded, universal pre-K program produced higher scores in language, literacy, and math than children who were not enrolled, and those not in the program scored at or below the national norm, a new study reported. The findings could lend credence to those who are pushing for similar programs at the state and national levels … Participation in the program ‘significantly improved children’s school readiness skills across most domains of learning’ by half a standard deviation, the report concluded … Georgia’s universal pre-K program is free for 4-year-olds no matter what the family’s income level.”
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Yes, Schools Do Discriminate Against Students Of Color

The Huffington Post

“African-American students and students with disabilities are suspended at ‘hugely disproportionate rates compared to white students,’ said a report … Latino students, girls of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students also were disproportionately suspended – a punishment the report said increases dropout risks and helps push troubled students out of classrooms and into the justice system … Research shows that removing so-called ‘bad kids’ from the classroom doesn’t help non-disruptive kids learn, according to the collaborative … Some restorative justice programs and prevention programs that call for more student-teacher engagement can help lower suspension rates and minimize disruptions. The researchers also found that school police often make arrests for ‘what might otherwise be considered adolescent misbehaviors.’”
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The Quieter Charter School Divide: What You Need To Know About ‘Backfill’

Chalkbeat New York

“What happens to space vacated by students who leave charter schools? Some schools, seeking to fulfill a larger mission and bolster their finances, fill those spots by calling students off of their waiting lists. Other schools focus on teaching the students who remain, avoiding a potential drop in test scores and the social and academic disruption of adding new students. The debate over which policy is best has long divided the charter sector, as critics have charged that schools that do not backfill are not serving their share of high-needs students … Research has shown that students who leave charter schools tend to be lower-performing academically, so not replacing them can boost scores overall – a move that benefits charter schools that are eager to prove their value … Charter schools … authorizers have been loath to require charters to adopt one backfill policy or another … so schools frequently include vague language in their charters..”
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Bill Aims To Curb High-Stakes Testing Mandates

THE Journal

“A bipartisan bill that aims to cut the number of standardized tests the federal can impose on states … introduced last week by Reps. Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) … would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to change the number of federally mandated standardized tests state would be required to administer under the current law, eliminating annual testing and replacing it with grade-span testing … According to Rep. Gibson: ‘In the decade since No Child Left Behind was signed into law the focus in education has shifted from teaching to testing. But data shows the current testing regime established in No Child Left Behind has not led to higher standards. Teachers are spending more time preparing students to take tests and less time educating, while students are spending more time taking tests and less time learning.’”
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States Crack Down On For-Profit Universities

The Hechinger Report

“Attorneys general across the country are investigating for-profit colleges accused of leaving students with overwhelming loan debt and without marketable job skills. At least 32 states are working together to investigate the schools … In cooperation with several of these states, the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau … has sued ITT Education Services for predatory lending practices … Corinthian Colleges … has also noted in regulatory filings that the CFPB was considering legal action against it … Critics say the industry’s lobbying arm … is a main reason Congress and the White House have not been able to crack down on dubious practices..”
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3/12/2014 – De Blasio Is Right About Charters

THIS WEEK: Schools Need Nearly $200 Billion To Improve Facilities … School Funding Declared Unconstitutional … Education Reform Drives Gentrification … Socialization Technique Helps Academic Achievement … College Aid Benefits The Rich

TOP STORY

Mayor De Blasio Has It Right On Charter Schools

By Jeff Bryant

“Newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has become the target of charter school proponents … This is what the debate about education policy – and charter schools in particular – so often comes to: So much sturm and drang about a favored trinket from the ‘education reform’ tool box while matters of way more importance get neglected or even abused.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Public Schools Need Nearly $200 Billion To Improve Facilities, Survey Finds

Education Week

“Upgrading the nation’s public K-12 school buildings to a ‘good overall condition’ would cost about $200 billion … 53% of public schools need to spend money on repairs, renovations, and modernizations … For schools where 75% or more of students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, the percentage in need of substantial upgrades to reach good condition is 60%. A higher percentage of schools in the Western states (59%) reported a need for major repairs and renovations than in the three other major regions of the country… 31% of public schools use portable buildings for classroom space on their sites, but such temporary buildings are more commonly found in schools that serve large numbers of poor and minority students.”
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Kansas School Funding Declared Unconstitutional By State Supreme Court

The Huffington Post

“The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday ruled the state’s funding of public schools to be unconstitutional … The opinion sets no legal precedent outside Kansas. But it provides clear language on school funding that may influence courts in New York, Texas and Connecticut that are considering similar cases that argue states are not funding schools adequately and equitably … The court ruled the state must immediately restore two matching funding streams … that had helped poorer school districts compensate for property tax bases significantly smaller than wealthy districts. The legislature had slashed the funds after the recession.”
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How Education Reform Drives Gentrification

Aljazeera

“Public school teachers in Portland, OR … This is a process playing out nationwide … Middle-class families eye Northeast Portland for its undervalued homes but choose different schools because neighborhood ones are pegged as bad. Declining enrollment bleeds money from already underfunded schools, making them less attractive and creating a downward spiral in which the schools are rated as failing, subsequently closed and eventually replaced by charter schools that can cherry-pick students … As public schools in Northeast Portland shutter, black households are displaced as redevelopment pushes rents upward … The success of Portland teachers in fighting off misguided educational policies could help counter the swelling inequality that is pulverizing the city’s neighborhoods.”
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Socialization Technique Helps In Academic Achievement, Trial Study Finds

The Washington Post

“In a randomized, controlled trial that examined the technique known as Responsive Classroom, researchers found that children in classrooms where the technique was fully used scored significantly higher in math and reading tests than students in classrooms where it wasn’t applied … The practices that form the backbone of the technique are designed to create positive classroom relationships – between teachers and students and among students. They aim to teach young children to cooperate with each other and feel that they are part of a ‘community’ that cares about them … The academic gains made by children in Responsive Classes were of the same magnitude, regardless of whether they came from poor or affluent families.”
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College, Federal Financial Aid Increasingly Benefits The Rich

The Hechinger Report

“Tuition tax credits and other tax breaks to offset the cost of higher education … disproportionally benefit more affluent Americans. So do tax-deductible savings plans and the federal work-study program … Even though only one-fifth of American households earn more than $100,000 per year, that group got more than half of the deductions for tuition, fees and exemptions … A new coalition of advocacy organizations … is pushing for the tax credits to be streamlined and redirected to the poor … A bill in the U.S. House … would gradually lower the income eligibility to $86,000 from the current $180,000.”
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3/6/2014 – Standoff Over Testing

THIS WEEK: Open Education Didn’t Fail … Community Schools Work … Switching Schools Hurts Kids … States Cut Education Despite More Students … Flunking Kids Adds To Discipline Woes

TOP STORY

Options In The Standoff Over Test-Based Education Policy

By Jeff Bryant

“What we have is a standoff over testing as the chief means to determine the fate of the nation’s schools, its teachers, and indeed the well being of the vast majority of American school children. As in every standoff, someone eventually has to give … The dissenting crowd is providing some possible answers: slow-downs or moratoriums, Congressional hearings, something more valid. But “More of the same” isn’t one of the options.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Why We Think 1970s Open Education Failed, And Considering What The Truth Really Is…

SpEd Change

Special Education expert Ira Socol writes, “Whereas in 1960 US classrooms … were generally a one-size-fits-all environment … by the late 1970s many, many students were experiencing something quite different … Open education, the open classroom and the schools-without-walls, succeeded … In terms of expanding opportunity, no period can touch the years between 1965 and 1985, the high water mark of alternative education and humanistic educational theories. The mixture of changed pedagogies, racial integration, and aggressive anti-poverty efforts … altered, fundamentally, the achievement gap.”
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Research Review Gives Thumbs Up To Community Schools Approach

Education Week

“A study … concludes that research and theory support the concept of community schools that seek to boost academic performance by offering mentoring, counseling, healthcare, and other wraparound services that extend well beyond the classroom … The report contains both a review of past research and an original analysis suggesting that myriad school, home, and student-related factors influence academic achievement … The review also found that that wraparound interventions were cost-effective, with returns on investments ranging from $4 to $15 saved for every $1 spent.”
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Switching Schools Frequently Linked With Mental Health Problems In Kids (STUDY)

The Huffington Post

A new study found, ” Kids who frequently change schools are more likely to hear voices, have delusions and experience other symptoms linked with psychosis in adolescence … Children who switched schools more than three times were 60% more likely to have such symptoms at age 12, compared with kids who made fewer school moves up to this age … It’s possible that the feeling of being an outsider is so stressful that it primes the brain for future mental illness.”
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States That Spend The Least On Students Set To Grow The Most

Education Writers Association

“New projections on student enrollment from the federal government hint at the financial pressure many states will face as their student populations rise … The states expected to grow the most also are among those that spend the least per student … While states in the Northeast tend to spend more per pupil, student populations in that region are set to stay flat … The Southwest and Southern states expected to grow the most will have to ramp up spending on students just to keep per-pupil spending flat.”
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Duke Study: Discipline Problems Increase When Students Repeat A Grade

Raleigh News & Observer

“A new study by researchers at Duke University documented a ripple effect of behavioral problems in middle schools where higher numbers of students repeated a grade … In schools with high numbers of students who repeated a grade, there were more suspensions, substance abuse problems, fights and classroom disruptions. Researchers say the study indicates the decision to hold students back can have negative consequences for their classmates … Educators tend to focus on how individual students fare when they are held back. Just as important may be the question of how that decision affects other children … Critics of social promotion have advocated holding struggling students back … The downside is trouble with behavior.”
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2/26/2014 – Education Spring Year Of Action

THIS WEEK: Public School Failure Myth … Vouchers For Religious Schools … Common Core Textbook ‘Sham’ … Better School Discipline … Student Debt Review

TOP STORY

Education Spring ‘Year Of Action’ Revs Up

By Jeff Bryant

“Last year’s emerging Education Spring that revealed a nationwide movement of diverse factions opposed to unpopular education policies has now developed substantial new organizational capacity and a more powerful voice. The ‘new populism … that is defining the economic debate in 2014 is also firing a new populist movement to reject failed education policy mandates and call for new reforms of our public education system … This year, the voices of dissent are louder and the stakes are far higher.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

The Myth Behind Public School Failure

Yes Magazine

“To truly understand how we came to believe our educational system is broken, we need a history lesson… To make the case for vouchers, free-market conservatives, corporate strategists, and opportunistic politicians looked for any way to build a myth that public schools were failing, that teachers (and of course their unions) were at fault, and that the cure was vouchers and privatization … In truth, standardized-test scores were going up for every economic and ethnic segment of students – it’s just that, as more and more students began taking these tests … It wasn’t a teacher problem. It was a statistical misread … Corporations recognized privatization as a euphemism for profits. ‘Our schools are failing’ became the slogan for those who wanted public-treasury vouchers to move money into private schools. These cries continue today.”
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NC Voucher Money Likely To Go To Unaccountable Religious Institutions

Raleigh News & Observer

“A new report on private schools in North Carolina finds that most of the schools available to voucher recipients are very small, unaccredited religious schools with uncertified teachers, nonstandard curricula and no public accountability … Among the key findings of the report … Only 35% of schools charge tuition that could be fully paid by a voucher (i.e., $4,200 per year or less). Of those schools, more than 90% are religious schools. At the middle and high school level, about 95% are religious schools … The voucher can be offered to any ‘nonpublic school’ in North Carolina. North Carolina has no approval process for nonpublic schools and does not require any type of accreditation or educational standards for the schools. The state does not interfere with the selection of curriculum or teachers. Although nonpublic schools must administer annual testing and make the results known to the parents, they are not required to make their test results public.”
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Boasts About Textbooks Aligned To Common Core A ‘Sham,’ Say Researchers

Education Week

“Claims from publishers that traditional instructional materials are aligned to Common Core State Standards are largely a ‘sham,’ say two researchers who have conducted extensive reviews of classroom textbooks … [The report] analyzed 40-50 textbooks covering first through ninth grades – books that are used by roughly 60 percent of U.S. school children – that were purportedly aligned to the new standards … Many were identical to the old, pre-standards textbooks … Textbook publishers generally don’t want to do thorough, meaningful revisions to accommodate the new standards … because such work is expensive and difficult.”
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Real Discipline In Schools

The New York Times

“Too many schools still use severe and ineffective practices to address student misbehavior … Rather than teaching kids a lesson, these practices increase dropout rates and arrest rates – with severe social and economic consequences. They also disproportionately affect students of color and students with learning disabilities … But these patterns can be reversed, in innovative school districts and with help from teachers’ unions … Improving school climates lessens the need for suspensions and expulsions and creates an atmosphere more conducive to learning.”
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The Student Debt Review

The New America Foundation

“Nearly 70% of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2012 took out debt for their education (above), and those with loans owed $29,400 on average (below). That represents an increase of nearly 20% in real terms over just four years. And it is a record high in both the percentage borrowing and average amount owed … The ‘Student Debt Review’ finds … especially rapid rises in student debt at private for-profit colleges: bachelor’s degree graduates at these institutions, for instance, now pay $95 more each month than their peers in 2003-04, and $153 more than students earning the same credential at public colleges.”
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2/19/2013 – When Being ‘For The Kids’ Really Isn’t

THIS WEEK: Pre-K And Wealth Redistribution … Effects Of Disadvantaged Students … Guards Outnumber Educators … Big Fights Over Tests … Value Of High School Exit Exams

TOP STORY

When Being ‘For The Kids’ Doesn’t Do Much Good

By Jeff Bryant

“Much in the same way policy leaders have resorted to duck-and-cover drills as a way put the responsibility of school violence on children, our youngest citizens are being commanded to take on the problems of widespread poverty by making it a personal task to succeed academically despite all odds … As more of these remedies for ratcheting down on students’ schoolwork roll out, too few leaders at the top question what has been produced, and when does reform become abuse.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

How Universal Pre-K Could Redistribute Wealth – Right Here, Right Now

The Nation

“Something’s being lost in the battle of the pre-K plans … The problem that universal pre-K programs address is not simply the need for more enriching early childhood education. The bigger problem is the huge and growing gap between the rich and everyone else … [New York City Mayor Bill] de Blasio’s plan, in particular, is designed to exert a more certain and immediate impact on inequality by offering relief to ordinary working parents … and asking the city’s most prosperous residents to pay for it … The mayor’s plan also includes universal afterschool for middle schoolers, filling another urgent need for non-rich New York families … Nationally, imposing a financial transactions tax and dedicating the revenues to a universal pre-K and childcare program … would be a huge boon to working mothers, and it would even make a dent in the gender pay gap … The economic benefits of such an investment will be felt long before any that may arise from a spike in poor kids’ future earnings.”
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Disadvantaged Children Can Hurt Achievement Of Others In Their Classrooms, Study Finds

The Washington Post

“Large numbers of low-income children who begin formal schooling with many disadvantages … not only struggle with schoolwork but hurt the achievement of other children in their classrooms … In schools with a high concentration of children with “risk factors,” the academic performance of all children – not just those with disadvantages – was negatively affected … [The] research suggests that the national movement that holds schools accountable by tracking the academic performance of children by subgroups … may be too blunt and doesn’t recognize that ‘at risk’ students can affect their peers. A better approach to accountability would be to target support and interventions to certain ‘at risk’ children, so that the entire school could benefit.”
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One Nation Under Guard

The New York Times

“Another dubious first for America: We now employ as many private security guards as high school teachers … That’s just a small fraction of what we call ‘guard labor’: … a total of 5.2 million workers in 2011. That is a far larger number than we have of teachers at all levels. What is happening in America today is both unprecedented in our history, and virtually unique among Western democratic nations … It seems to go along with economic inequality.”
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A Fight Is Brewing Over Tests In The Common Core

The Washington Post

“Educators are questioning the purpose of testing, lawmakers in several states are pushing back against federal regulations, and a momentous standoff between California – the state with the largest number of public school students – and the Obama administration looms … Forty-five states and the District of Columbia are teaching math and reading differently as a result of new academic standards … But the accompanying standardized tests won’t be ready until next year. That leaves states in a bind … Teachers and administrators are particularly alarmed because student test scores on standardized tests are increasingly used to make decisions that reward or punish schools and educators … But the Obama administration will not back down from the requirement that every state test every student in certain grades, even if that means giving old tests that don’t match the current curriculum.”
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Study Finds Years in School Matter More Than High School Diploma

Education Week

“According to the findings of a recent study, two academically similar groups of 12th graders ended up earning virtually the same amount of money even though one group had passed their high school exit exams and the other group had failed … The study’s authors suggest that employers may rely on … other information rather than distinguishing those who have earned a high school diploma versus, say, a certificate of completion. The findings also suggest that schooling and the ability to remain in school are more meaningful than merely possessing the high school diploma credential … Although the exams themselves were not the focus of this study, the findings do raise questions about the validity of denying diplomas to students who scored just below the cutoff point … For students who are more academically inclined, the lack of a high school diploma would have made it difficult to earn postsecondary degrees, which are associated with higher earnings.”
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