Education Opportunity Network

Education Opportunity Network -

7/30/2015 – We Won’t Get Great Teachers By Treating Them Badly

THIS WEEK: Poverty Hurts Kids’ Brains … Toll Of Inequitable School Funding … Kasich’s Lousy Education Record … Teacher Bathroom Privileges … Teachers Stuck With Classroom Costs

TOP STORY

We Won’t Get Great Teachers By Treating Them Badly

By Jeff Bryant

“The bigger, unaddressed issues affecting teachers’ work environments are the current love affair with economic efficiency and the cognitive dissonance among believers in the education “reform” movement that although teachers are the ‘single most significant’ determiner of student academic outcomes, we need to make their jobs harder and less secure.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Poverty Disturbs Children’s Brain Development And Academic Performance

Scientific American

“For children, growing up poor hinders brain development and leads to poorer performance in schools … Up to 20% of the achievement gap between high- and low-income children may be explained by differences in brain development … Children who grew up in families below the federal poverty line had gray matter volumes 8 to 10% below normal development. [The researchers] did not find differences between children from middle class and affluent families but those only 50% above the poverty line showed gray matter volumes 3 to 4% below the norm … More money does not necessary mean better outcomes but at a certain point a ‘drop-off’ effect of income occurs where a lack of financial resources is detrimental to development.”
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‘These Kids Are Just Pawns’: The Rising Toll of Inequitable School Funding

NEA Today

“Reading, Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s poorest cities … Tour Reading’s 19 schools and you’ll see mostly aging buildings with broken floor tiles, leaky ceilings sprouting patches of mold, students crammed into too-small classrooms, and feral cats squatting under classroom trailers … Just a mile and a bridge away, Wyomissing Area School District – where 77% of students are White – spends a whopping $4,000 more per pupil each year. Students attend bright and modern schools, have a rich curriculum, and smaller class sizes … Research shows that students in districts with concentrated poverty benefit greatly from high-quality early childhood education, tutoring, ELL programs, dropout prevention measures, and other services … Those are the very programs that have been scaled back or cut altogether due to lack of funding in Reading schools.”
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What Ohio Gov. John Kasich Is Doing To Public Education In His State

The Washington Post

“With two-term Ohio Gov. John Kasich joining the crowd of candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, it’s a good time to look at the public education mess that has developed in his state … Under his watch, funding for traditional public schools … declined by some half a billion dollars, while funding for charter schools has increased at least 27% … despite the fact that many charters are rated lower than traditional public schools … Ohio charters … misspend tax dollars more than any other public sector.”
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Using The Restroom: A Privilege – If You’re A Teacher

The Atlantic

“A recent survey conducted jointly by the American Federation of Teachers and Badass Teachers Association asked educators about the quality of their worklife … 3 in 4 respondents said they ‘often’ feel stressed by their jobs… Of the various everyday workplace stressors educators could check off, one of the most popular was ‘lack of opportunity to use restroom’ … putting it in third place only after time pressure and disciplinary issues … One of the most pervasive strains on teachers’ lives at work has little to do (at least directly) with the problems that get the most attention in policy circles and the media.”
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Teachers Are Spending Thousands to Stock Classrooms With Basic Supplies

Alternet

Classroom teacher Bronwyn Harris writes, “During my last year of teaching, I spent over $5,000 of my own money on my classroom during the year, and I know I wasn’t alone. On an annual salary of $42,000, that was hardly pocket change … Many public schools, even districts located in wealthy areas, do not give their teachers any money for supplies … Even the more generous PTA grants of $500 or higher don’t provide for much past the initial setting up of a classroom … Relying on private donations only works in middle- and upper-class areas … You often find teachers purchasing food for children who don’t eat enough at home. I’ve had friends buy clothing for children, especially socks and underwear, and I even know one teacher who bought a bed for a student who didn’t have one.”
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7/23/2015 – Get Ready For The Next Wave Of Education “Reform”

THIS WEEK: Pre-K Reduces Special Ed Placements … Teach Kids To Share … Kids In Poverty … STEM Myth … Real Education Matters

TOP STORY

Get Ready For The Next Wave Of Education “Reform”

By Jeff Bryant

“Education activists are rejoicing that the latest versions of No Child Left Behind reauthorization coursing through Congress may give struggling schools a way to have more control over their own governance and destiny … As anti-democratic pressures appear to be easing on the federal front, they are ratcheting up in states across the country. In fact, the next form of education “reform” may be as bad or worse than what NCLB imposed.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

How Early Education Can Reduce Special Education Placements

New America Foundation

“Two effective early childhood programs implemented in North Carolina … decreased third grade special education placements through early intervention … Third grade enrollment in special education is a critical benchmark, because transitions out of special education decrease dramatically after third grade … The study found that when combined, the programs reduced special education placements by 39% This not only means that almost 40% fewer children would be enrolled in special education at the end of third grade, improving their later in life outcomes, but also presents significant cost savings to the state … They further add to the research that proves the myriad benefits of high quality early education programs, especially for our most at risk students.”
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If You Want Your Children To Succeed, Teach Them To Share In Kindergarten

The Washington Post

“Kindergartners who share, cooperate and are helpful are more likely to have a college degree and a job 20 years later than children who lack those social skills … Kids who get along well with others also are less likely to have substance-abuse problems and run-ins with the law… Early-childhood education programs and schools could identify children with weak social skills early on, when they are still very receptive to learning how to behave differently … Children who interact well as kindergartners are more likely to make friends and get positive feedback from teachers and, therefore, are more likely to like school and stay in school.”
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More Children Are In Poverty Today Than Before The Great Recession

PBS

“One out of five American children live in poverty … 22% of children live in poverty, up from 18% in 2008 … Minnesota led the United States in children’s overall well-being … Minnesota has one of the lowest rates of uninsured children in the country. The state also maintains ongoing early childhood education programs … At a time when economic crisis gripped the nation, and when many states cut social welfare programs in a desperate attempt to manage budget deficits, Minnesota preserved many of these programs designed to help low-income individuals and families … At the bottom is Mississippi, where the child-poverty rate is a staggering one in three.”
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The Frenzy About High-Tech Talent

The New York Review Of Books

“In Falling Behind?, Michael Teitelbaum … vehemently denies that we are lagging in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, now commonly abbreviated as STEM … The US has all the high-tech brains and bodies it needs, or at least that the economy can absorb … Of 19.5 million holders of degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, only 5.4 million were working in those fields … 28% of engineers and 38% of computer scientists were either unemployed or holding jobs that did not need their training … In the decade ending in 2022, the number of engineering jobs will have increased only by 8.6%, which falls short of the 10.6% rise expected for the workforce as a whole. Most striking are forecasts for the chemical, mechanical, and electrical specialties, long mainstays of the profession. Together, the three are estimated to grow by only 4.3%, well under half the expected growth in the workforce.”
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Real Education Still Matters: Exposing the Limits And Myths of Educational Instrumentalism

Teachers College Record

Sociology professor at Georgetown University Peter Cookson writes, “The dominant narrative concerning the purposes of education has become increasingly narrowed and instrumental … Educational instrumentalism … elevates the quantifiable ‘products’ of education such as paper credentials and time spent in school above the complex, adventurous, and rebellious processes that characterize transformative education … Educational instrumentalism is the background metaphor and rationale of much of contemporary educational policy discussions … Progressive education in the tradition of John Dewey … is desperately needed today. Not only because it is based on ethical principles of freedom that are essential for the preservation of democracy, but expressive, progressive education is the only educational philosophy that can actually prepare today’s students for tomorrow.”
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7/16/2015 – Why Arne Duncan Is A Flop

THIS WEEK: Corporate School Takeover … What Common Core Textbooks? … State Responses To Overtesting … Stupid Teacher Evaluations … End High Stakes Testing

TOP STORY

Why Arne Duncan Has Been A Monumental Flop As Education Secretary

By Jeff Bryant

“U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, was the bipartisan stud when the Obama administration debuted but has now devolved into the bipartisan flop as new bills in Congress seek to do all they can to neuter the secretary and make sure future secretaries never do what he did ever again… What’s particularly unfortunate about that policy direction is that the federal government historically has had a mostly positive influence in public schools … So the biggest tragedy of Arne Duncan is not only the millions of students and families ill-served under his tenure but the millions that will likely be ill-served in the future because it looks like his self-righteous, narrow-minded zeal will leave the federal government’s role in education marginalized for the immediate and foreseeable future.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Education: The Next Corporate Frontier

Counterpunch

Kristen Steele, Associate Programs Director at Local Futures (International Society for Ecology and Culture) writes, “Over the last 30 years or so, private corporations have been steadily taking over school systems all around the world … In every country, the identical argument is used: public schools are failing, reform is needed and big business will do it best, providing choice and efficiency … Like in all sectors, resistance to these policies takes coordinated effort with a broad base of support. Yet, so far, the fight against privatization in education has been left mostly to teachers, parents, students, and other education activists … Those of us in the new economy and environmental movements need to join our voices to those of the education activists and resist further privatization.”
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The Great Common Core Textbook Swindle

The Daily Beast

“In response to the new standards, textbook publishers touted new editions they said were aligned to the Common Core. But nearly all of them were just repackaged versions of earlier books. And even 5 years later, the vast majority of textbooks say they’re aligned with the Common Core when they actually aren’t, creating a huge burden for teachers whose performance is often tied to their students’ test scores based on those standards … Publishing giant Pearson … had zero textbooks evaluated as being aligned with the Common Core … If a teacher is saddled with a textbook that doesn’t align with the Common Core, they need to spend time patching together materials that will … That is crucial but time-consuming work and … less time he or she has to plan the kind of deep, meaningful lessons.”
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Amid Cries Of Overtesting, A Crazy Quilt Of State Responses

Education Week

“After years of outcry and intensifying public debate about whether students are overtested, many states are attempting to definitively address the issue this year. But there’s no consistent strategy across the country … 39 states are examining how to reduce overtesting or cut redundant tests in some fashion … Although new tests tied to the Common Core State Standards have triggered much of the discussion about overtesting, many state chiefs and elected officials support how those tests will inform their policy decisions, or else can’t dramatically cut back their administration because of federal law … The burden of cutting tests is also falling on many district administrators, who have to tread carefully.”
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Why Are Some Teachers Being Evaluated Using The Test Scores Of Kids They Didn’t Teach?

Slate

“Forty-two states across the country have moved in recent years to evaluate all teachers at least in part on student test score growth … But tens of thousands of teachers work with students in grades that aren’t tested … Officials in Nevada are even considering how they might hold support staff – like school nurses and counselors – responsible for student test results … Are educators narrow-subject-area specialists? Or are they generalists who should all be held responsible for teaching foundational skills … As states fumble through policy changes that are very much trial and error, teachers and their students could ultimately pay the price.”
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Fix Public Education, End High Stakes Testing, Pass ESEA

The Hill

Rev. William J. Barber II writes, “Congress is preparing to vote on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on its 50th anniversary. What they decide now can change the course of federal aid to education for decades to come … When Congress enacted the ESEA in 1965, everyone knew education opportunities for black children were radically unequal to the opportunities for white students. Now, 50 years later, these gaps persist and are widening – despite the law’s promise … The last time Congress reauthorized ESEA, they and President George W. Bush established high-stakes testing, labeling, and policies that punish schools if kids flunked the tests. Tests don’t teach … Congress has a chance to fix the high stakes testing regime that has failed.”
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7/9/2015 – State Governments Continue An Assault On Public Schools

THIS WEEK: Texas’ Skewed Version Of History … Every Child Achieves Act … Better Discipline Measures … School Choices Spurs Disruption … Philly Schools A ‘Health Threat’

TOP STORY

State Governments Continue An Assault On Public Schools

By Jeff Bryant

“Despite generally favorable, although modest, improvements in state revenue collections and budget growth … political leaders in many states are struggling to pass budgets, often because funding education is the biggest impediment … Some of the individual actions these state governments are taking are just atrocious … To break political impasses, state lawmakers should consider proposals that reflect the entire repertoire of potential measures available to governing bodies … School children everywhere need political leaders to come through for their sake.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Texas Officials: Schools Should Teach That Slavery Was ‘Side Issue’ To Civil War

The Washington Post

“Five million public school students in Texas will begin using new social studies textbooks this fall based on state academic standards that barely address racial segregation … When it comes to the Civil War, children are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by ‘sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery’ – written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role … Slavery was a ‘side issue to the Civil War,’ said Pat Hardy, a Republican board member … Historians acknowledge that disagreements over states’ rights played a role in the Civil War. But the states’ rights issue was inseparable from slavery … Nearly half of Americans – 48% – believe that states’ rights was the main cause of the war, compared to 38% who said the main cause was slavery.”
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Leonie Haimson: Setting The Record Straight About The Every Child Achieves Act

Diane Ravitch’s Blog

At the personal blogsite of education historian Diane Ravitch, founder and president of Class Size Matters Leonie Haimson says, “For nearly 13 years, students have suffered under the high-stakes testing regime of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) … The bi-partisan bill to be debated this week in the Senate, called ECAA, or Every Child Achieves Act … represents a critical step forward … It expressly bars the feds from requiring or even incentivizing states to adopt any particular set of standards … It would also bar the feds from requiring that teachers be judged by student test scores, which is not only statistically unreliable according to most experts, but also damaging to the quality of education kids receive … The bill would prevent the feds from imposing any particular school improvement strategy or mandating which schools need improvement – now based simplistically on test scores … ECAA … deserves the support of every parent and teacher.”
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What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?

Mother Jones

“How we deal with the most challenging kids remains rooted in B.F. Skinner’s mid-20th-century philosophy that human behavior is determined by consequences and bad behavior must be punished … Contemporary psychological studies suggest that, far from resolving children’s behavior problems, these standard disciplinary methods often exacerbate them … Remarkable research that is starting to revolutionize discipline from juvenile jails to elementary schools … Results thus far have been dramatic, with schools reporting drops as great as 80% in disciplinary referrals, suspensions, and incidents of peer aggression.”
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Thousands Move In And Out Of Schools During The Year, Creating Disruptions

The Washington Post

“More than 10,000 students transferred into or out of the District [of Columbia]’s public schools during the 2013-2014 school year, a massive ebb and flow that experts say is linked to lower achievement and faltering graduation rates … Dozens of schools in the District gained or lost the equivalent of 10% of their enrollment… The District also is a national leader in school choice, with 44 percent of students enrolled in public charter schools and a lottery system that allows students to enroll in traditional schools throughout the city. Policies that allow for expansive school choice – which communities across the country are beginning to embrace – are intended to improve educational opportunities. But some say they have an unintended consequence … Traditional schools bear the brunt of mid-year turnover. Many charter schools do not admit students after the beginning of the school year, while neighborhood schools are required to enroll students at any point.”
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Controller: City Schools A Health Threat

The Philadelphia Enquirer

“In a sweep of Philadelphia public schools, investigators from the City Controller’s Office found a litany of health and safety threats … Water damage was discovered at 95% of schools visited, he said. In some bathrooms, cockroaches were found on floors, and toilets perpetually had waste in them … Electrical hazards were found at 70% of schools visited, according to the report, while fire hazards were found at 75% … The report … underscores the need for more school funding … The city’s teachers’ union has long sounded an alarm over physical conditions inside schools.”
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7/2/2015 – Making It Work For American Families

THIS WEEK: Media Neglect Education News … Texas Schools Leader Homeschooled … Colorado Vouchers Nixed … Teachers Lack Common Core Materials … Teacher Protests Go Worldwide

TOP STORY

Can The 2016 Election Be About Making It Work For American Families?

By Jeff Bryant

Elaine Weiss of the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education writes, “The United States has spent the past few decades gradually becoming the least family- and child-friendly nation in the Western world … This election must be about changing that reality and giving our children and their families a real future … These ingredients – a strong early start for children, sensitive and well-targeted supports for struggling parents, and new hope, with reason to believe in it – are key to reviving the middle class that is the basis for a thriving democracy.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Report: Education Media Coverage More About Sports Than Policy

Education News

“According to a recent report … almost 7% of all regional news coverage was found to pertain to education in comparison to the 2.3% of national news stories that was found to cover education … Almost 25% of all K-12 news stories focused on school sports, local school events, or education funding, with 13.6% of all education coverage involving sports – almost twice as high as any other topic. Special events, including open houses and field trips, came in second with 5% of all reporting … Stories pertaining to education policy were found to be on the decline. All policy-related reporting done by local, regional and state news sources was found to account for just 7.5% of all education news. Policy topics that saw an increase in coverage in 2014 included education standards, school safety, and school choice.”
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Picks Homeschooler To Chair State Board of Education

Raw Story

“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott … announced that he was appointing Houston Republican Donna Bahorich, a former communications director for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, to chair the Board of Education. According to Texas Public Radio, Bahorich homeschooled her own sons before sending them to a private high school. The Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog group, warned that Bahorich would ‘put culture war agendas ahead of educating more than 5 million Texas kids’ … Even Republican State Board member Thomas Ratliff called the move a mistake. ‘Public school isn’t for everybody, but when 94% of our students in Texas attend public schools I think it ought to be a baseline requirement that the chair of the State Board of Education have at least some experience in that realm.’”
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Colorado Court Rules Use of Public Funds for Private Schools Is Unconstitutional

The New York Times

“Colorado’s highest court … struck down a voucher program that allowed parents in a conservative suburban school district to use taxpayer dollars to send their children to private schools. The split decision … was a blow to conservative education advocates and those who want to redefine public education to funnel tax dollars directly to families who then choose the type of schooling they want for their children … The court’s decision will also stop other school districts around Colorado from pursuing similar voucher programs … Many states are moving forward with programs that allow families to apply public money toward private school tuition.”
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Years Into Common Core, Teachers Lament Lack of Materials

Associated Press via ABC News

“Five years into the implementation of Common Core, standards meant to steer students from rote memorization toward critical thinking, 45% of school districts reported ‘major problems’ finding good aligned textbooks, and another 45% reported ‘minor problems’ … Publishing industry executives said some education publishers produced materials more quickly than others, but other factors have been at play. Most significant are the shift to digital learning and the lingering effects of the recession, which left many school districts without money to replace textbooks published before the new standards took hold … Even some textbooks that say they are Common Core-aligned aren’t necessarily so, analyses have shown.”
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When Teachers Protest

The Atlantic

“In an effort to voice their frustration, conquer injustice, or show how integral they are to the social fabric, teachers often resort to protest … Educators around the world have taken to the streets to speak out against issues such as failing schools and subpar working conditions. The discontent seems to be particularly intense in certain countries and regions – throughout Latin America, for example – and sometimes these are the same areas where teachers’ status in society is notably low … Although better wages are the common thread throughout most of the demonstrations … most of the world’s teacher protests probably amount to something much deeper than a call for fair pay. They’re a desperate effort to salvage education when it feels like the government is abandoning it.”
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6/25/2015 – Lessons From New Orleans Education Reform

THIS WEEK: Walmart’s Charter Schools … Achievement Gap Forms Very Early … DC Achievement Gap Persists … Teen Health A Huge Factor … US House Budget Bill Cuts Education

TOP STORY

Lessons To Be Learned From New Orleans Style Education Reform

By Jeff Bryant

“As the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, you can count on seeing a lot of glowing stories about the great education progress made in New Orleans … You should be very suspicious of this marketing campaign … To those people who initially backed the plan for NOLA school reform – but who demurred from becoming blatant propagandists for it – there now appears to be a sense of frustration and disappointment with a realization that there’s a long way to go before this product should go to market.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Walton Foundation-Funded Charter Schools Marred By Fiscal Mismanagement

Alternet

“The Walton Family Foundation’s billion-dollar effort to create a parallel school system – charter schools mostly funded by tax dollars … has become known for a stunning lack of transparency and accountability … The foundation has ties to 1,500 of the charter school across the country. It gives more than $200 million a year to a range of charter school initiatives … This business model and intentionally disruptive mindset has led to foundation spending that has not only fueled the rapid growth of unregulated charters … but also “hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud, mismanagement and poor oversight … Even though the Walton Family Foundation does not publish independent audits, its fast and loose education strategy has left a stunning trail of … mismanagement, financial fraud, lawsuits blocking accountability to state governments – as well as a record of anti-democratic education practices, from cherry-picking students to fighting efforts to help poorer students.”
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Young Children Held Back By Social Class, Study Finds

Education Week

“Children enter kindergarten with academic and ‘soft skills’ gaps that can be linked directly to their socioeconomic status… Race-based gaps in skills such as reading, math, eagerness to learn, persistence, and focus shrink significantly when socioeconomic status is taken into account … About 46% of black children live in poverty … 63% of Hispanic ELLs live in poverty … Closing the wide disparities will require a two-pronged approach … Disadvantaged families need more access to programs such as home visiting, high-quality child care, and preschool … Stronger policies also have to be implemented that cut down on the number of poor people.”
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Despite Progress, D.C. Students Are Still Not Up To Par, Report Says

The Washington Post

“The 2007 Public Education Reform Amendment Act created a governance structure for education in the city that gave the chancellor unprecedented freedom to implement reforms. It also helped pave the way for the city’s charter schools to grow … 7 years after the reforms took root, the District’s poor and minority students are still far less likely to have a quality teacher in their classrooms, perform at grade level, and graduate from high school in four years. Although performance on standardized tests has improved for all groups, the city’s academic achievement gap has not diminished.”
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Unhealthy Teens Face College And Job Obstacles

Live Science

“Being in poor health as a teenager can have a long-term influence on someone’s educational and job opportunities in adulthood … Teens with either mental health or chronic physical health conditions were less likely to graduate high school or finish college, and were more likely to be unemployed or have lower-income jobs … Teens with mental health problems fared worse than those with physical health issues in terms of economic and academic outcomes … Teens with mental health conditions were more than twice as likely to not complete high school compared with healthy teens … Schools should think of their students’ health as part of the institution’s core business.”
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House Bill Slices Billions From Education And Health

Center On Budget And Policy Priorities

CBPP Senior Policy Consultant David Reich writes, “The 2016 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill from a House subcommittee cuts funding $3.7 billion below the 2015 level, with its cuts particularly targeted to education and to some health programs … The Department of Education absorbs two-thirds of the bill’s cuts, receiving $2.5 billion less for 2016 than for 2015. The bill eliminates some programs entirely, including grants for improving math and science education and programs to improve school safety. While the bill boosts special education by roughly $500 million, it provides no increase for ‘Title I’ grants to school districts – the basic federal program that assists schools in educating disadvantaged children – leaving that program with less funding than six years earlier… The bill adds $192 million to Head Start (a 2.2% increase). But, because it eliminates the Education Department’s Preschool Development Grants program (funded at $250 million in 2015), the result is a net drop in funding for early childhood education.”
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6/18/2016 – Clear Choices For Education In 2016, So Far

THIS WEEK: Jeb Bush’s Shoddy Education Record … Congress Shorts Special Ed Kids … Whole Child Approach Works … Factors Outside School Affect Learning … Sen Warren Calls For Student Loan Reform

TOP STORY

Political Parties Present Clear Choices For Education In 2016, So Far

By Jeff Bryant

“For years, there’s been an agreement – a ‘Washington consensus’ – among Beltway policy makers and political elites that America’s schools are in ‘crisis’ and only a punitive program of standards, testing, and accountability can remedy them … ‘Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have been happily copying each other’ on education policy … But there are signs this era may be coming to a close … As prospective and declared candidates in the 2016 presidential race kick off their campaigns, what we’re hearing are clear divisions between Republicans and Democrats. So far.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Here’s What Jeb Bush Really Did To Public Education In Florida

The Washington Post

Education journalist Valerie Strauss writes on her blog, “Now that Jeb Bush is officially in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, expect his campaign to talk a lot about school reforms he spearheaded in Florida when he was governor … Here’s what you won’t hear … Bush advocates using public money for students to use to pay for private school tuition … The Florida Senate, controlled by Republicans, refused his request to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot repealing a provision in the state constitution separating church and state … He likes outsourcing public education to for-profit education companies who open public charter schools … He doesn’t mention a 2014 report that Florida charter schools had math and reading test scores that were either no better or worse than traditional public schools. Or that under his program of assigning letter grades to schools based on test scores, a disproportionate number of charters get failing academic letter grades … Or that Florida’s charter sector has been marred by numerous closures of charters – some even during the school year – and repeated financial mismanagement scandals.”
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Congress’ Broken Promise On IDEA Hurts State Budgets, Special Education Students

The National Education Association

“Before IDEA, U.S. schools educated only one of every five children with disabilities … Since then, the majority of children with disabilities have been educated in their neighborhood public schools in the general classroom. Their high school graduation rates, college enrollments, and job opportunities increased dramatically … Although Congress committed to paying 40% of the average cost to educate a child with disabilities, it has never met even half of that commitment. Currently, the federal share of funding for special education services to approximately 6.9 million students is about 16% … Each year, the remaining costs are shifted to the states … The federal cost shift to states in 2014 alone was $17.6 billion … Some members of Congress are working to fix the problem.”
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City Year Schools Twice As Likely to See Math, English Boosts, Study Finds

Education Week

“Pleasant View School was one of a slew of high poverty schools in Providence, RI, marked for an overhaul in 2012, but three years later, it is out of academic crisis … A big part of the school’s revival … the City Year program’s ‘Whole School, Whole Child’ school wide initiative … Schools that participated in City Year’s 150 school wide programs in 22 cities were more likely to see overall improvements on their states’ mathematics and English/language arts tests than similar schools that did not participate … Rhode Island schools participating in City Year in 2012-13 were 25 percent more likely to improve in language arts during the study and 11 percent more likely to improve in math.”
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Researchers: Five Ignored Factors Affect Outcomes For Poor Children

The Washington Post

“School leaders and policymakers trying to improve academic results for disadvantaged children need to look outside the classroom at social and economic conditions that directly affect a child’s ability to learn … Five factors that new research suggests hinder the achievement of poor children: parenting practices in low-income households, single parenthood, irregular work schedules of parents in low-wage jobs, poor access to health care and exposure to lead … Efforts to improve academic outcomes for the increasing number of poor children in public schools focus too heavily on incentives aimed at teachers and schools instead of taking on the underlying conditions that hamper children even before their formal schooling begins.”
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Elizabeth Warren Calls Out Education Department Over Student Loans

The New York Times

“Senator Elizabeth Warren took the Department of Education to task … calling for external checks to be placed on the department, including moving the student loan complaint system from the department to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and granting borrowers the right to take legal action against loan contractors … Ms. Warren laid out a plan for making college more affordable and relieving growing student debt. In doing so, Ms. Warren did not limit her criticism to the Education Department, assigning blame to colleges and universities, as well as to state governments. She also renewed calls to refinance outstanding student loans and reform the federal Pell grant program … College affordability and student debt has become a leading topic for both Democrats and Republicans on the presidential campaign trail.”
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6/11/2015 – Education Policy Descends Into A Sad Proxy Battle

THIS WEEK: Many States Screw Poor Kids On School Funding … The Truth About Graduation Rates … Saving Charter Schools … Shoddy School Infrastructure Hurts Learning … Poor Schools Get More Inexperienced Teachers

TOP STORY

Education Policy Descends Into A Sad Proxy Battle

By Jeff Bryant

“As the policy battle over mandatory testing is waged across the nation, new evidence of a real civil rights concern is being completely ignored by federal leaders and the policy elite in Washington, DC … And what really matters in education policy continues to take a back seat to a sad and ineffectual proxy battle over testing … Our more disadvantaged students are worse off for it.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Inequitable School Funding Called ‘One Of The Sleeper Civil Rights Issues Of Our Time’

The Washington Post

“A Funding for public education in most states is inadequate and inequitable, creating a huge obstacle for the nation’s growing number of poor children … In most states school districts in wealthy areas spend as much or more per pupil than districts with high concentrations of poverty … Just 15 states had school funding systems that funnel more resources to students in poor districts than those in affluent districts … The remaining states either devote the same funding to the poorest and richest districts, or they send more to districts serving the most affluent students … Many students in the poorest districts come to school hungry, are in need of health care or lack a stable home life. Such children generally are considered more expensive to educate.”
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The Truth About America’s Graduation Rate

NPR

“Graduation rates have been rising since 2002 … We identified three major ways that states and districts try to improve their graduation rates … Stepping in early to keep kids on track … Lowering the bar by offering alternate and easier routes … Gaming the system by moving likely dropouts off the books, transferring or misclassifying them … Texas is tied with a few other states with the second-highest graduation rate in the country: 88% … But that figure excludes lots of students – more than 50,000 … The Chicago district is misclassifying hundreds of students who enroll at alternative schools … by saying they left the district … All these strategies – good, bad and ambiguous – raise the question: What does a high school diploma mean?”
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Saving The Charter School Movement From Itself

Aljazeera America

Century Foundation fellow Amy Dean writes, “Advocates of charter schools argue that they are innovative laboratories of experimentation. But … policies that led to the creation of these schools have been used to advance a political agenda … If the charter school movement is going to play the positive role in education reform that it was supposed to, it will have to do three things: restore its commitment to public accountability for public resources, support increased funding across the system, and respect the rights of teachers … We risk further fragmenting our education system, increasing the inequities of our school funding and foreclosing on the dream of a free and quality education for all.”
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If You Build It, They’ll Learn Better

US New & World Report

A senior fellow for the Center for American Progress writes, “Many students attend inadequate, outdated school buildings … Even seemingly minor issues like weak air quality can lower achievement … Students from low-income families often get the short end of the infrastructure stick … Low-income districts often get less money from the state, and they have less wealth to tax locally. It can also be challenging for low-income districts to get their communities to support the school bonds that help fund infrastructure projects … The federal government should start collecting data on the current state of our nation’s buildings … make targeted investments … look at states like Massachusetts, which have created a ‘pay-as-you-build’ system that can lower expenditures and shore-up local support for building projects.”
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Ed. Dept.: Poorest Districts Have More Trainee Teachers

Education Week

“Teachers in high-poverty school districts were about twice as likely to still be learning the ropes as teachers working in the flushest districts in 2011-12 … States reported that 1.5 percent of public school teachers are still completing their preparation – but are nevertheless considered ‘highly qualified’ under federal law … Assuming 25 students in each of the interns’ classes, these teachers are reaching about 800,000 students … Under that 2002 regulation, teachers in alternative-preparation programs – typically career-changers or those in programs like Teach For America – were permitted to be deemed ‘highly qualified’ … even though they were still being prepared.”
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6/4/2015 – Common Core Distracts From What Matters Most

THIS WEEK:The Education Civil Rights Agenda … Key School Stats … What To Call Skills … Jeb Bush And Common Core … Community Colleges Get Screwed

TOP STORY

Dumb Arguments About The Common Core Distract From What Matters Most

By Jeff Bryant

“When the subject turns to Common Core, there is a tendency among Democrats to immediately assert their support for the policy because of concerns for equity in the public school system For sure, inequity is a problem – if not the problem – in American schools … If Democrats want to have some credibility in the debate on equity in the public school system, they should focus on policy proposals that really have something to do with equity.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

DC Civil Rights Organizations Fail To Represent Education Civil Rights Agenda

The Hill

A trio of prominent civil rights leaders outside Washington, DC write, “A few national civil rights organizations … uniting under the banner of the Washington, DC-based Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights … are urging parents to comply with annual testing requirements. We strongly disagree. Data from these annual assessments are not a reasonable proxy for educational opportunity, and even more, educational equity … Children of color are more likely to be subjected to over-testing and a narrowing of curriculum in the name of test preparation … We now know students cannot be tested out of poverty, and while NCLB did take us a step forward by requiring schools to produce evidence that students were learning, it took us several steps backward when that evidence was reduced to how well a student performed on a standardized test.”
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Key Numbers From A Government Report To Congress On The Status Of US Education

Associated Press Via US New And World Report

“More U.S. school-age kids live in poverty and need English-language services … Enrollment in public schools is up, including in charter schools … Smaller numbers of children attend private schools. Fewer students are dropping out of high school. And, while more undergraduate students seek financial aid to obtain a four-year degree, college graduates continue to earn more than their peers.”
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Nonacademic Skills Are Key To Success. But What Should We Call Them?

NPR

“More and more people in education agree on the importance of learning stuff other than academics. But no one agrees on what to call that ‘stuff’. There are least seven major overlapping terms in play … 21st century skills … Character education … grit … growth mindset … noncognitive traits and habits … social and emotional skills … soft skills … Maybe one day there will be a pithy acronym or portmanteau to wrap all these skills up.”
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On Common Core, Jeb Bush Is A Party Of One

Politico

“The Republican flip-flop on the Common Core is nearly complete … Virtually every 2016 Republican presidential candidate has turned against the education standards, other than former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush … Bush has said the Common Core should serve as a floor for quality and rigor if states are looking to replace the standards. But this month he said the standards must be state driven, a statement appealing to conservatives … ‘Common Core means a lot of things to different people, so they could be right based on what’s in front of them,’ Bush said.”
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How Higher Education Funding Shortchanges Community Colleges

Inside Higher Ed

“Community colleges tend to receive the least amount of public financial support compared to other institutions, yet they are asked to push high numbers of low-income students into the middle class with few resources … The most funding tends to go toward highly selective four-year colleges … Wealthy colleges also receive huge tax subsidies … From 2001 to 2011 … funding increased substantially at public and private research universities, while public community colleges actually saw a $904 decline in real funding … A number of states are devising performance-based funding approaches that recognize low-income students have additional needs and need additional support.”
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5/28/2015 – Education Makes The Progressive Punchlist

THIS WEEK: Costs Of Child Care Balloon … Poor Kids Need Lenient Schools … Poverty Hurts Teacher Morale … What Top Teachers Want … Make College Debt Free

TOP STORY

Education Makes The Progressive Punchlist

By Jeff Bryant

“For years, the progressive punchlist of issues has neglected education policy … But there are now signs education – in its entirety, from pre-K through college – may be taking its place as a mainstay on progressive platforms … In its video series on ‘The Big Picture: 10 Ideas to Save the Economy’ MoveOn features [Robert] Reich … addresses not only the now required support for universal pre-K and college loan debt relief, but also addresses K-12 agenda policy … Like Fight for $15 and Black Lives Matter, the movement to resist and reform the nation’s policies governing public education has now gone mainstream and become woven into the media narrative of grassroots discontent surging across the country. Some progressives are starting to get this.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

The States Where Parents Spend The Most On Child Care

The Washington Post

“Over the last three decades, weekly out-of-pocket spending on child-care for families with an employed mother has almost doubled … The average annual cost of daycare is now higher than the price of in-state college tuition in 31 states – and exceeds 40% of the average annual income of single mothers in 22 states … Expensive, unreliable child-care is often why many new mothers have trouble getting ahead in the workplace … Average annual cost of daycare for an infant in Alabama is $5,547 … about one-sixth of the average working woman’s income … Working mothers devote a third of the average annual income in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York.”
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Long-Term Gains Seen For Kids Who Leave Poor Neighborhoods

Education Week

“The younger children are when they move out of impoverished neighborhoods, the better their long-term outcomes are … Those results may derive in part from the likelihood that children in low-poverty neighborhoods are more liable to be given second chances … The relative leniency of schools and authorities in lower-poverty areas may have a positive effect on educational outcomes even if the academic programs don’t differ significantly … Children who moved to low-poverty neighborhoods before age 13 earned an annual income as adults that was $3,477, or 31%, higher than their counterparts who stayed in high-poverty neighborhoods … Though the neighborhoods that families moved to were substantially less impoverished than their previous neighborhoods, the schools their children attended were only modestly different from their previous schools as measured by poverty rates and test scores.”
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High-Poverty Schools Continue To Wear On Teachers, Surveys Show

Tampa Bay Times

“It’s hard to teach at a high-poverty school. There’s less buy-in from parents. Kids don’t follow the rules. There aren’t even enough computers. And staff turnover is sky high … Although 77% of teachers countywide were satisfied with their jobs, those numbers were 56, 58 and 60% at … The challenge of staffing high-needs schools stymies many districts, as seasoned teachers often opt for less stressful jobs in middle-class neighborhoods. Despite their best efforts, districts end up filling vacancies in their highest-poverty schools with teachers who are new to the district or right out of college.”
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Poverty, Family Stress Are Thwarting Student Success, Top Teachers Say

The Washington Post

“The greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students have little to do with anything that goes on in the classroom, according to the nation’s top teachers: It is family stress, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems … The survey comes at a time when studies show a large percentage of U.S. public school students come from low-income families … Asked to identify three top school funding priorities, the teachers ranked ‘anti-poverty initiatives’ as their top choice, followed by early learning and ‘reducing barriers to learning’ … Few thought access to technology needed more investment and none thought funding should be devoted to research. And funding for testing and accountability had little support, ranking near the bottom.”
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Tell Congress College Should Be Debt-Free

Campaign For America’s Future

The movement for debt-free education is growing. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Keith Ellison, Brian Schatz and Raul Grijalva have sponsored a resolution that gets at the heart of the student debt issue: “Resolved, that Congress supports efforts to ensure that, through a combination of efforts, all students have access to debt-free higher education, defined to mean having no debt upon graduation from all public institutions of higher education.” Tell Congress you support this resolution.
Click here to sign the petition telling Congress to pass this resolution and support debt-free college