Education Opportunity Network

Education Opportunity Network -

1/18/2018 – Trump Fills The Swamp To Exploit College Students

THIS WEEK: Segregated Gerrymandering … Funding Cuts Hurt Students … Texas Broke SpEd Law … Costs Of Charters … Discipline Guidelines At Risk

TOP STORY

Trump Fills The Swamp To Exploit College Students

By Jeff Bryant

“President Trump ran on promises to ‘drain the swamp’ of special interests and corporate lobbyists in Washington, DC, but higher education policy in his administration is a quagmire of Okefenokee proportions … Filling the swamp with higher education exploiters has severe negative financial consequences not only to college loan holders, but also to the public treasury, and according to a new report, the fallout to taxpayers is likely worse than what’s widely understood.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

We Can Draw School Zones To Make Classrooms Less Segregated. This Is How Well Your District Does.

Vox

“Once you look at the school attendance zones … it becomes clearer … groups with political clout – mainly wealthier, whiter communities – have pushed policies that help white families live in heavily white areas and attend heavily white schools … Often the attendance zones are gerrymandered to put white students in classrooms that are even whiter than the communities they live in. The result is that schools today are re-segregating … But this exact strategy – gerrymandering school districts to include certain kinds of students and exclude others – can also be used to integrate a school, rather than segregate them.”
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Less Money For Schools After The Recession Meant Lower Test Scores And Graduation Rates, Study Finds

Chalkbeat

“The Great Recession did real damage to student learning … The latest analysis… found that the impact of the spending cuts was substantial. Cutting per-student spending by 10 percent throughout a student’s high-school years reduced their likelihood of graduating by nearly 3 percentage points… Those spending cuts also led to lower scores on the federal NAEP test … Spending has bounced back … but … by 2015, 29 states were still spending less per student than they were in 2008.”
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Texas Illegally Excluded Thousands From Special Education, Federal Officials Say

The New York Times

“Texas education officials illegally led schools across the state to deny therapy, tutoring and counseling to tens of thousands of children with disabilities … The state agency’s decision to set a ‘target’ for the maximum percentage of students who should receive special education services had violated federal laws … The target, enacted in 2004 and eliminated last year, was set at 8.5% of enrollment … even though the state and national averages had both long been about 12% … The target had forced [teachers] to withhold services from students with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, mental illnesses, speech impairments, or even blindness and deafness.”
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Charter Schools Are Taking Money Away From NC School Districts, Study Says

The News & Observer

“Charter schools in North Carolina are taking money away from traditional public schools and reducing what services those school districts can provide to their students … In the case of Durham, NC, the study found that charter schools are creating a fiscal burden for the district between $500 and $700 per student … The study found smaller but what it still called significant negative fiscal effects on the five other districts examined … The study says that state leaders may want to consider providing transitional aid to smooth or mitigate the revenue losses for school districts as charter schools continue to expand.”
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Keep Guidelines In Place That Work To Ensure Fair Discipline For Black, Brown Students

USA Today

Two advocates for school discipline reforms warn, “The Trump administration is gearing up to kill the [federal school discipline] guidelines, worsening the damage to black and brown children caused by unfair discipline … Black students are expelled, suspended and thrown in juvenile detention more frequently than their white counterparts for the same behaviors … Federal guidance plays a key role in keeping all kids in school and helping schools to implement in-school disciplinary measures … In many places, since the 2014 guidance was issued, suspensions have gone down. The guidance has helped thousands of parents and students understand their rights and schools’ responsibilities.”
Read more …

1/11/2018 – Why America’s School Funding Crisis Is A Race And Gender Justice Issue

THIS WEEK: Teacher Shortage Crisis … Vouchers Discriminate … Child Health Imperiled … Rural Schools Hurting … DeVos Harms College Students

TOP STORY

Why America’s School Funding Crisis Is A Race And Gender Justice Issue

By Jeff Bryant

“At a time when wildly popular hashtag-driven campaigns are whipping up intense public fervor for the rights of black lives and women, now might be a good time to address how nonwhite children and women are being treated in our public school system.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

As Teacher Shortages Plague Every State, Some Take Action

Governing

“All 50 states began the current school year short on teachers. And schools nationwide still are scrambling to fill positions in a range of subjects … Districts that can’t find a qualified teacher may stop offering a certain class or hire a rookie … Lawmakers in several states took action … States that have sought to increase the supply of teachers by changing their licensure rules to make it easier for people who didn’t complete a traditional teacher preparation program to enter the classroom … Other states have tried to increase the supply of teachers by making education degrees less expensive or shortening the time required to get one … Some states … are raising teacher salaries.”
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These Schools Get Millions Of Tax Dollars To Discriminate Against LGBTQ Students

HuffPo

“[Of the] private schools that receive taxpayer dollars through voucher or tax credit programs… at least 14% of religious schools take an active stance against LGBTQ staff and students. Some of these schools have policies on their websites generally broadcasting their opposition to same-sex marriage or even stating their belief that homosexuality is a sin on par with bestiality. Others have harsher policies … Many more of these schools belong to larger churches that preach anti-LGBTQ sentiment … Since President Donald Trump and his secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, have expressed the desire to use federal dollars to increase private school choice, it’s worth closely examining which students are served and which are not.”
Read more …

It’s Been 100 Days Since CHIP Funding Expired

Vox

“Congress let the funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program expire … that covers 9 million American children … Short-term CHIP extension that passed in December, which was supposed to last through March, could actually only guarantee the program would stay funded through January 19 … The price tag for extending CHIP for 5 years has shrunk dramatically. The CBO estimated the five-year extension Congress is considering now costs only $800 million, down from $8.3 billion … If Congress continues to leave CHIP unfunded, families have basically two options: enroll in ACA coverage or become uninsured. Health care could become unaffordable for millions of families, and they could be forced to skip needed appointments and treatments.”
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America’s Rural Schools Are Hurting And Wisconsin Shows Why

The Progressive

“Rural communities, already facing dying main streets, now contend with reduced services and eliminated public sector jobs that once anchored their towns. Students from rural school districts are especially struggling … Left behind are shrinking rural school districts, struggling to serve some of the state’s poorest children while relying on funding policies that place them further and further … The general policy responses of ‘choice’ and ‘flexibility,’ hurt rural America in uniquely damaging ways … As rural schools … reel in the wake of continued cuts … our political leaders seem intent on imposing more ‘quick and easy’ solutions. But the answer is … increased investment in these communities.”
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Betsy DeVos Harms Higher Ed More Than K-12 In 2017

OurFuture

Jeff Bryant writes, “The big surprise at the end of 2017 is that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been arguably worse for higher education than she has been for K-12… While protestors have dogged DeVos across the country to attack her support of ‘school choice’ and call her out for neglecting the civil rights of K-12 students, she has been far more effective at gutting regulations protecting the rights of college students and college student loan borrowers … These developments would seem to indicate that DeVos is much less a zealous advocate for a cause she personally espouses than she is a surrogate for the Republican party and its donors and lobbyists.”
Read more …

12/21/2017 – Republican Tax Plan Opens Backdoor To Federally-Supported School Vouchers

THIS WEEK: Ending Internet Equity … Pushing Students Into Special Ed … Driving Out Black Children … #MeToo In Schools … Portfolio Model Flawed

TOP STORY

Republican Tax Plan Opens Backdoor To Federally-Supported School Vouchers

By Jeff Bryant

“Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has insisted that her lifelong support for school vouchers and other forms of school privatization does not mean the Trump administration will ‘mandate’ these ‘school choice’ policies, but her Republican friends in Congress put into their tax plan new provisions that will have essentially the same impact as a federally-supported school voucher program and will redirect millions of dollars from public treasuries to private schools.'”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

From Neutrality To Inequality: Why The FCC Is Dismantling Equal Access And What It Could Mean For Education

EdSurge

“Faculty members who teach face-to-face may imagine that last week’s vote by the Federal Communications Commission to dismantle net neutrality doesn’t touch them … Unfortunately, they’re mistaken … Institutions offering online programs may be required to pay ISPs a premium … It’s possible that universities will be slapped with extra charges for using their relatively new cloud-based storage and services … Institutions that rely on low-cost connections may see their online content moved to a slow lane … Under the previous FCC rules, ISPs were prohibited from charging more in rural areas, but that protection has been removed … As web costs go up for colleges, the institutions may pass them along to the last in line – the nation’s students.”
Read more …

Education Department Seeks Rollback Of Special Education Racial-Disparity Rule

Education Week

“The U.S. Department of Education is proposing a two-year delay of a rule that would require states to take a stricter approach to identifying whether their districts have wide racial or ethnic disparities in special education … Under the rule, states still have some flexibility, but would have to use a ‘reasonable’ threshold of disproportionality … The Education Department is not sure how many districts will ultimately be affected. The department is in the process of … efforts throughout the government to ‘lower regulatory burdens on the American people,’ as President Donald Trump wrote in an executive order.”
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Thousands Of Black Students Leave Chicago For Other Segregated Districts

Chicago Reporter

“Chicago … is pushing out poor black families. In less than two decades, Chicago lost one-quarter of its black population, or more than 250,000 people … The school district, which was majority black for half a century, is on pace to become majority Latino … Many of the families fleeing the poorest pockets of Chicago venture no farther than the south suburbs or northwest Indiana. And their children end up in cash-strapped segregated schools like the ones they left behind … Often, the receiving school districts … were chronically underfunded. Research shows poor black students in Illinois perform worse academically in such districts … Chicago… closed neighborhood schools and mental health clinics; failed to rebuild public housing, dispersing thousands of poor black families across the region, and inadequately responded to gun violence, unemployment and foreclosures in black communities.”
Read more …

What Does #MeToo Mean For Schools After The Rollback Of Title IX?

The Progressive

“President Donald Trump … seems to do everything in his authority to enable sexual harassment, from endorsing candidate [Roy] Moore to reversing a rule that forbid federal contractors from keeping cases of sexual harassment secret. The Trump Administration’s promise to rollback of Title IX provisions for campus sexual assault victims fits right in line. This first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination in schools protected not only college students but their younger peers in public K-12 schools too … Schools must step up to the fill the gap … Comprehensive sex education is not only essential to gender equality and school safety, but is foundational to an equal education for all.”
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A Former Superintendent Wonders: What’s Missing From The Discussion About The Portfolio Model?

Chalkbeat

Joshua Starr writes, “School reforms of the last two decades have pursued mainly structural solutions to instructional problems … We need to focus on the substance of what goes on in schools, not just the formal structures … It’s unhelpful for supporters of portfolio schools to make one-sided attacks on the unions, ignoring the essential protections they’ve given to generations of teachers … Leaders of that movement [should] be a little more humble, a lot more willing to adapt themselves to the values and wishes of community members, much less eager to prescribe structural solutions … for complex problems, and much more mindful of the need to ground school improvement in the everyday work of teaching and learning.”
Read more …

Editorial Note

EON is taking a break over the holidays. Watch for the next edition in your in-box on January 11.

12/14/2017 – Is Betsy DeVos About To Pump Up The School-To-Prison Pipeline?

THIS WEEK: Tax Plan Hurts Schools … Vouchers Spread Religious Indoctrination … Who’s Pushing ‘Portfolio’ Model? … Educators Oppose Choice … Pre-K Pays Off

TOP STORY

Is Betsy DeVos About To Pump Up The School-To-Prison Pipeline?

By Jeff Bryant

“The Trump administration’s repeal of Obama-era guidelines allowing transgender students to use the school bathroom of their preference was just the beginning of a long list of regulatory reversals including efforts to ensure school discipline practices don’t discriminate against students by race or disability and disproportionally push students into a school-to-prison pipeline.'”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

Does The 2017 Tax Reform Bill Help Private Schools And Hurt Public Schools?

Snopes

“Changes proposed in the 2017 tax reform bill working its way through Congress will have palpable repercussions in many areas of American life, including education … Repealing the state and local tax (SALT) deduction … would have adverse impact on public schools … The SALT deduction and local tax rates are so interlinked that the former amounts to a federal subsidy … Private schools would fare much better. A revision of Section 529 of the existing federal tax code extends the applicability of so-called 529 plans (tax-exempt savings accounts covering higher education expenses) to tuitions for K-12 private and parochial schools, as well as the costs of homeschooling … The benefits could be significant for well-to-do families who send their children to private schools.”
Read more …

Voucher Schools Championed By Betsy DeVos Can Teach Whatever They Want. Turns Out They Teach Lies.

HuffPost

“Fundamentalist religious schools… are among thousands in the United States that participate in private school choice programs, which most often come in the form of state-level voucher or tax credit scholarships … There are thousands of kids receiving an extremist and ultraconservative education at the expense of taxpayers … About 75 percent of voucher schools across the country are religious … Most states have little oversight on the curriculum used in schools that participate in private school choice programs. Some states have zero regulations on the topic … With taxpayers footing the bill for religious private schools, the separation of church and state, a cornerstone of American democracy, becomes a murky line.”
Read more …

A ‘Portfolio’ Of Schools? How A Nationwide Effort To Disrupt Urban School Districts Is Gaining Traction

Chalkbeat

“A growing number of philanthropists, advocates, and policymakers say the way to improve schools is to upend the traditional school district … They want to see more charter schools and more district schools run like charter schools … Those ideas make up what’s known as the ‘portfolio model’ for managing schools, and its advocates are making a significant mark on a number of American school districts … A loosely connected network of nonprofit groups is working to reshape the way their school districts function. Their national scope has gone mostly unexamined.”
Read more …

Many Educators Skeptical Of School Choice, Including Conservatives, Survey Shows

Education Week

“Classroom teachers, principals, and district superintendents are highly skeptical of vouchers, charter schools, and tax-credit scholarships. And that includes many who voted for President Donald Trump, and even some who teach at private schools… A plurality of those surveyed – 45% – ‘fully oppose’ charter schools, while another 26% ‘somewhat oppose’ them. And 58% don’t support using government funds to help students cover the cost of private school, while 19% said they ‘somewhat oppose’ vouchers. Meanwhile, about half oppose or ‘somewhat oppose’ tax-credit scholarships, which give individuals and corporations a tax break for donating to scholarship-granting organizations.”
Read more …

Does Preschool Pay Off? Tulsa Says Yes

NPR

“Researchers were able to show that Tulsa’s pre-K program has significant, positive effects on students’ outcomes and well-being through middle school … Why is this study a big deal? Because it’s the first long-term study of a universal pre-K program that shows how kids benefit. Middle school students who were in pre-K years earlier have higher math test scores, are more likely to enroll in honors courses, and are noticeably less likely to have been retained in grade … The long-term benefits of the Tulsa program exceed the short-term costs by at least two to one in current dollars.”
Read more …

12/7/2017 – Republican War On Learning Takes Aim At Higher Education

THIS WEEK: Charter Schools Segregate … Charter Naming Rights … CHIP Endangered … Schools Need Net Neutrality … Record Graduation Rates

TOP STORY

Republican War On Learning Takes Aim At Higher Education

By Jeff Bryant

“Like recent tax bills passed by the GOP-controlled House and Senate, [a] proposed rewrite of the Higher Education Act (HEA) will have the effect of further constricting learning opportunities for students, adding to the costs students and families take on for education, and steering more public money for learning to private businesses … A primary purpose of the remake … is to address the ‘skills gap’ … The so-called skills gap is a myth, and a college degree in liberal arts or other non-technical subjects is as relevant as it ever was … ‘One of the biggest winners in the new higher-education legislation is the for-profit college industry.'”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

U.S. Charter Schools Put Growing Numbers in Racial Isolation

Associated Press

“National enrollment data shows that charters are vastly over-represented among schools where minorities study in the most extreme racial isolation … Those levels of segregation correspond with low achievement levels at schools of all kinds … Schools that enroll 99% minorities – both charters and traditional public schools – on average have fewer students reaching state standards for proficiency in reading and math … Charter schools, which are funded publicly and run privately, enroll more than 2.7 million nationwide, a number that has tripled over the last decade.”
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KIPP Houston, BBVA Compass Reach $1.8M Deal For Campus Naming Rights

Houston Chronicle

“Leaders of KIPP Houston [charter school] and BBVA Compass [a bank] … celebrated a $1.8 million naming-rights agreement that will help fund the charter network’s newest campus. Under the deal … the campus of KIPP Nexus on Houston’s northwest side will be called BBVA Compass Opportunity Campus. The agreement marks the first time a KIPP network has sold naming rights to a campus, continuing a slow-moving trend of schools selling naming rights to facilities as a way to generate revenue … Said Mike Feinberg, co-founder of the KIPP charter school network … ‘If people have a problem with that, I would simply say, Get over it.'”
Read more …

The CHIP Program Is Beloved. Why Is Its Funding In Danger?

The New York Times

” CHIP, that covers nearly nine million children whose parents earn too much for Medicaid, but not enough to afford other coverage … is now in limbo … Its federal funds ran out on Sept. 30, and Congress has not agreed on a plan to renew the roughly $14 billion a year it spends on the program … Congressional leaders may provide some temporary relief to a handful of states that expect to exhaust their CHIP funds before the end of this year. It would be tucked into a short-term spending bill intended to avert a government shutdown … States are weighing whether to freeze enrollment in CHIP, shut down their programs or find money from other sources … The House passed a bill to extend the CHIP program. But most Democrats voted against it because the legislation would have cut funds for other public health programs and ended insurance coverage for several hundred thousand people who had failed to pay their share of premiums for insurance purchased under the Affordable Care Act.”
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Without Net Neutrality, How Would Internet Companies Treat K-12 Districts?

EdWeek Market Brief

“One of the main fears that school officials have about curtailing “net neutrality” is that internet service companies will have new powers to throttle or block the flow of online content that serves as academic lifeblood for many districts … Net neutrality’s strongest backers point to instances over the past 10-15 years where internet service providers were accused of slowing or derailing content coming from various sources to internet users … Districts need access to content without ‘having gatekeepers dictate what services are available online.'”
Read more …

U.S. Graduation Rate Hits New All-Time High, With Gains In All Student Groups

Education Week

“The national high school graduation rate has risen to a new all-time high: 84%, the fifth straight year of increases … nearly a whole point higher than the one for the previous year’s class … All groups of students showed improvements, a notable feat. The graduation rates for black students and for students who are learning English each rose 1.8 percentage points in one year. The rates for low-income students and Hispanic students each rose 1.5 points since the previous year. Students with disabilities saw a gain of nearly a full percentage point.”
Read more …

11/30/2017 – GOP War On Learning Continues In Senate Tax Plan, State Funding Cuts

THIS WEEK: States Shorting Schools … NOLA Reform Myth … Breaking Schools … Hurting Teachers Unions … Reform Ate Democrats

TOP STORY

GOP War On Learning Continues In Senate Tax Plan, State Funding Cuts

By Jeff Bryant

“As the Republican-controlled Congress continues to advance tax plans that slash funding from public education, a new report reveals how state and local government officials, especially where GOP leadership dominates, have continued a decade-long campaign to keep school funding below levels that preceded the Great Recession … Perhaps, the whole strategy behind GOP tax plans and budget cuts boils down to a short-term need to cut education in order to offset the large cuts Republicans are providing to wealthy families and corporations. But next year’s mid-term elections – in which a third of the Senate, 36 governors, and three quarters of states’ legislators are up for re-election – will give the rest of us a chance to speak up.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

K-12 Spending in Most States Still Far Below Pre-Recession Levels, Report Says

Education Week

“Overall K-12 spending in at least 29 states is still less than what it was before the housing industry collapsed in 2007… While housing values have somewhat rebounded in some areas, people aren’t spending at the levels they used to, and websites such as Amazon continue to siphon off a large portion of sales tax revenue. In at least 12 states … school spending cuts were especially alarming … ‘State level cuts have real and damaging consequences for local school districts.'”
Read more …

Faking The Grade

New Orleans Tribune

“The latest School Performance Scores for the state of Louisiana are in. And that makes now a pretty good time to finally come to terms with the fallacy of the miracle in New Orleans … We have known for quite some time now that the miracle was really a myth and that this reform and its purveyors, along with the state, the RSD and the charter operations to which they have given our public school students, our facilities and our money were failing our children and our communities … It’s been 12 years since our schools were hijacked. And 12 years later, many of them are performing just as poorly as they were before they were stolen … This brings us to the bogus notion of school ‘choice’ that reformers have held up as a blessing for parents and students, when, in fact, the only entities that exercise any real choice in admissions have been the charter schools—not parents, not students.”
Read more …

Here’s Why Two Indiana School Systems Went Broke. And Others Are In Danger.

IndyStar

“In the rush to overhaul education, [Indiana] lawmakers abandoned decades of commitment to the traditional public school system, pushing forward even as districts started closing schools, cutting programs and losing teachers. They developed a system that encourages free-market competition with other public schools, charter schools and private ones – creating a sink-or-swim mentality that already has helped push Gary and Muncie schools into such a deep financial crisis that the state was forced to take them over … School leaders across the state, though, say the way Indiana funds them only deepens the disparity in education between wealthy and impoverished areas … The state knowingly destabilized traditional public school funding, crippling some urban and rural school districts and creating a system of winners and losers that shows no sign of slowing. Statewide, the big question now is how many more school districts are headed toward the precipice.”
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Gutting Wisconsin Teachers Unions Hurt Students, Study Finds

Chalkbeat

“Weakening unions led to declines in test scores, particularly in math and science. The effects were fairly large, comparable to sharply increasing class sizes. And the harm was not evenly distributed: Schools that started out furthest behind were hurt the most, while higher achieving schools saw no impact … The law led to big cuts in teacher compensation, particularly for veteran teachers and especially in health insurance and retirement benefits … There was also a spike in teacher retirement immediately following the law’s passage. As compensation drops, it may become harder for district and teachers to recruit and keep teachers. An increase in retirement also reduces teacher experience, which has been linked to effectiveness … ‘High-performing schools filled vacancies from teacher retirements by poaching high-quality teachers from low-performing schools through attractive compensation schemes.'”
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How Education Reform Ate The Democratic Party

The Baffler

Jennifer Berkshire writes, “To begin to chronicle the origin of the Democrats’ war on their own – the public school teachers and their unions that provide the troops and the dough in each new campaign cycle to elect the Democrats – is to enter murky territory. The Clintons were early adopters … Redistribution and government intervention were out; investment and public-private partnerships were the way to go … This new cult of education wasn’t grounded in John Dewey’s vision of education-as-democracy, or in the recent civil-rights battles … Teachers unions were impeding progress … Following the political demonology pioneered by Arkansas’ first couple, neoliberal policy innovators routinely cast teachers as self-interested dunderheads, impeding progress, civil rights advancement, even global economic competitiveness … Today’s Democratic school reformers – a team heavy on billionaires, pols on the move, and paid advocates … got their start as Bill Clinton’s policy shop, branded as the intellectual home for New Democrats … Four decades after the neo-Democrats set their sights on the education bureaucracy, the journey has reached its predictable destination: with a paler version of what the right has been offering all along.”
Read more …

11/16/2017 – The Republican Tax Plan Is A Declaration Of War On Learning

THIS WEEK: Vouchers With No Oversight … Charter Marketing … Better Tests Myth … Zero-Sum Ed … De-Personaliozed Learning

TOP STORY

The Republican Tax Plan Is A Declaration Of War On Learning

By Jeff Bryant

“What the Republicans propose in their tax plans is not just a raid on education-related budget items for the sake of fiscal efficiency; their plans are part of a strategic offensive against the very idea that all children and youth have a right to a free and high-quality education … The transformation they want would make the nation collectively dumber and much more dependent on profit-making businesses for scarcer services with far fewer opportunities for citizens to better themselves through education. We must reject that future.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

‘There Is No Oversight’: Private-School Vouchers Can Leave Parents On Their Own

Education Week

“When families use a voucher to enroll in private school, they give up, knowingly or not, most of the protections that federal law requires for special education students. If a private school decides not to admit a student, or to ask a student to leave, there’s little legal recourse for parents to challenge those decisions … Despite a bulging roster of Florida students attending private schools with the state’s help, there’s scant data and information available to show how they do … Private schools receiving state aid don’t have to track or tell the state how many students graduate from their schools, nor how many are bullied, expelled, or drop out – some of the most basic measures of student success. Private schools do not receive letter grades based on how well students perform on state standardized tests as their public school peers do, and they are not required to be accredited by an independent agency.”
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The Super Wealthy Oxycontin Family Supports School Privatization With Tactics Similar To Those That Fueled the Opioid Epidemic

Alternet

“As a copywriter at a medical advertising agency, Arthur Sackler devised strategies to promote drugs like Librium and Valium. Now, some of those same strategies are now being used with the aim of promoting charter schools. Jonathan Sackler, Arthur’s nephew, is a well-known name in the education reform movement … The Sackler ‘special sauce’ is vertical integration … The marketing of OxyContin was ‘unprecedented … and was … aggressive and inappropriate’ … The description … will sound familiar to anyone who has witnessed one of the no-expenses-spared charter school rallies that are a specialty of Sackler-funded organizations … There is the dizzying array of astroturf front groups all created for the purpose of demanding more charter schools.”
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Better Tests Don’t Lead To Better Teaching, Study Finds

The Hechinger Report

“Researchers … found that a more demanding test didn’t help improve the quality of the teacher’s instruction. A teacher’s test-prep lessons were generally of lower instructional quality than when the same teacher wasn’t prepping students for the test …The quality gap between a teacher’s regular lessons and her test-prep lessons was largest in a school district where the teaching quality was the highest … Instructional quality sank a lot when these excellent teachers were delivering test-prep lessons. In districts with lower teaching quality … test-prep lessons weren’t much worse. But they didn’t raise instructional quality.'”
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Lessons From North Carolina: How Charter Schools Force ‘Zero-Sum’ Education

The Progressive

Jeff Bryant writes, “In [Betsy] DeVos’s brave new world where ‘money follows the child’ from one school to another, schools and communities will increasingly see education as a zero-sum affair, where every student gained is a plus in the financial ledger and every student lost is a minus … The truth is, education has always been a zero-sum game … In the post-Civil War years, white conservatives were generally opposed to public schools … The landmark Supreme Court Brown v Board decision was the turning point in extending education opportunities to African American students …The ideology driving charter school expansions … takes emphasis away from a unified and equitable system of education.”
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The Case(s) Against Personalized Learning

Education Week

“Dozens of companies now tout a wide range of software, platforms, and apps as transformative tools for personalizing student learning … Many critics believe that personalized learning boils down to kids working alone on software, an approach they say ignores the crucial social aspects of learning … What’s marketed as ‘personalized learning’ amounts to little more than breaking knowledge and ideas down into ‘itty-bitty parts,’ then using extrinsic rewards to ‘march kids through a series of decontextualized skills they had no meaningful role in choosing’ … ‘When Facebook promises personalization …it’s really about massive data collection.'”
Read more …

11/9/2017 – Did Support For Education Save The Democrats’ Bacon In The Virginia Governor’s Race?

THIS WEEK: Stealth School Vouchers … Puerto Rico Privatization … Silicon Valley Fail … Tests Screw Teacher Evaluations … For-Profit College Dropouts

TOP STORY

Did Support For Education Save The Democrats’ Bacon In The Virginia Governor’s Race?

By Jeff Bryant

“Ralph Northam’s big win for the Democratic party in the Virginia governor’s election is being hailed as a ‘rebuke of President Trump.’ But it’s also a rebuke of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos … In the Virginia governor’s contest, education was the voters’ “top concern,” according to at least one poll … Northam was backed by teachers unions while Gillespie got financial backing from the DeVos family … Northam got education right not only by differing from Betsy DeVos but also by distancing his views from some views held by Democrats too, especially those Democrats aligned with leftover policy ideas from the Barack Obama presidential administration.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

The GOP Has A New Vehicle For School Choice, But Are The Wealthy At The Wheel?

Education Week

“The House GOP’s plan to overhaul the tax code includes a provision that would allow 529 college savings plans to be used for K-12 expenses, including private school tuition … The average value of the savings account was $19,800 … in 2015 … 57% of account holders were from households making $100,000 to $250,000 annually … For wealthier families that can save for both K-12 and higher education, ‘it’s just a giveaway.'”
Read more …

Puerto Ricans Fear Schools Will Be Privatized In The Wake of Hurricane Maria

The Intercept

“[A] guerrilla campaign to open schools is running headlong into a separate effort from the top, to use the storm to accomplish the long-standing goal of privatizing Puerto Rico’s public schools, using New Orleans post-Katrina as a model … Puerto Rico’s Public-Private Partnerships Authority director spoke optimistically about leveraging federal money with companies interested in privatizing public infrastructure … Puerto Rico’s Education Department is purposefully putting off opening of schools to justify permanent closures down the road. The department has not clearly defined its criteria for determining whether a school is ready to open … Schools have been operating without authorization, desperate to restore order and provide children with food and learning opportunities.”
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Silicon Valley Tried To Reinvent Schools. Now It’s Rebooting

Bloomberg

“The education system is one of the few industries that has resisted technological reinvention. It’s not for a lack of capital. [Facebook’s Mark] Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Netflix Inc.’s Reed Hastings, Salesforce.com Inc.’s Marc Benioff and many others have poured money into reform efforts, with mixed results … Venture investors spent $2.35 billion on education-technology startups globally last year … But companies haven’t come up with a formula students will embrace or that can be deployed efficiently and profitably. The hype around online education has largely dissipated as dropout rates skyrocketed.”
Read more …

Using Test Scores Tends To Lower Teacher-Evaluation Ratings, Study Shows

Education Week

“States and districts have waffled on whether and how student achievement should be incorporated into a teacher’s rating. Should value-added scores – which aim to isolate how much a teacher has contributed to a student’s learning, as measured by tests – be a part of the calculation?… A new study [finds] … when value-added scores are incorporated into evaluations, the ratings tend to go down. And the more weight a system puts on value-added scoring, the lower the scores are likely to be … That’s because value-added scores tend to be relative measures … ‘Everybody can’t be good with value added.'”
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Federal Data Shows 3.9 Million Students Dropped Out Of College With Debt In 2015 And 2016

The Hechinger Report

“3.9 million undergraduates with federal student loan debt dropped out during fiscal years 2015 and 2016 … More than 900,000 of these students dropped out of for-profit universities. That’s 23% of all the indebted dropouts, even though only 10% of all undergraduate students attend for-profit schools … Almost 2.5 million … had attended public institutions … But the public sector’s share of dropouts exactly matches its share of the student population: 64% Private nonprofit colleges seem to be doing a better job, accounting for 13% of the dropouts while educating a quarter of all U.S. undergraduates… The Trump Administration has delayed and sought to ease regulations of for-profit universities.”
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11/2/2017 – How The Republican Tax Scheme Will Screw Your Local Schools

THIS WEEK: Students Are Stressed … Teachers Are Too … New Koch Attack … School Choice Screws Small Towns … College Inequity Grows

TOP STORY

How The Republican Tax Scheme Will Screw Your Local Schools

By Jeff Bryant

“There’s a lot that’s bad in the tax scheme Republicans are cooking up on Capitol Hill right now, but one particularly odious ingredient is a proposal to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) which could end up undercutting funding for education … Eliminating the SALT deduction would be ‘an assault on local governance’ and the ‘long-term economic stability in our communities.'”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Teachers Report Stressed, Anxious Students In The ‘Age Of Trump’

NPR

“Teachers report that in the current political climate, some of their students fear for themselves and their families. Others reported that students seem more ’emboldened’ to express racist and derogatory views … 79% of teachers reported that students have expressed concerns for their well-being … 51% of teachers reported more students experiencing ‘high levels of stress and anxiety’ … 44% of teachers reported that students’ concerns were affecting learning.”
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Survey: Teachers’ Mental Health Declining Amid Job Stress

USA Today

“A long list of anxieties … is taking a toll on teachers, a new survey shows … 58% said their mental health was ‘not good’ for seven or more of the previous 30 days. A similar survey in 2015 found just 34% of respondents felt the same … the vast majority – 86% – did not feel respected by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos … 61% of educators, as well as school staff, say their work ‘always’ or ‘often’ stressful. They also don’t appear to get much sleep.”
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How The Kochs Are Trying To Shake Up Public Schools, One State At A Time

Politico

“The billionaire Koch brothers’ network is engaged in state-by-state battles … to push for public funding of private and charter schools. One of the newest campaigns is the Libre Initiative … targeting Hispanic families in 11 … under the umbrella of … Americans for Prosperity … The group has had some initial success – for instance, helping to thwart a moratorium on charter school expansion in New Mexico. But it’s also created bitter divisions in the Latino community and led to accusations the Kochs are trying to undermine public education.”
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In Rural America, School Choice Poses Agonizing Choices

Alternet

“Indiana is a poster state for the kinds of education policies pushed by President Trump and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. But for small rural communities, the growth of school choice over the past six years is now forcing another choice: whether to close the public schools that are at their heart as competing schools pull students and money away … As the voucher and charter programs were explained and advertised as ‘school choice’ to the public, one corollary fact was not included: Indiana residents might lose a choice that many of us have taken for granted for decades– the ability to send our kids to a local, well-resourced public school.”
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Top Public Universities Are Shutting Out Poor Students, Report Says

The Washington Post

“Since the late 1990s, almost two-thirds of selective public universities have reduced the share of students they enroll who come from families earning less than $37,000 a year … A near-identical share of these schools have increased the percentage of students they enroll who come from families earning at least $110,000 … Public colleges and universities carry the load in higher education by enrolling the vast majority of the nation’s college students … Yet these and other public colleges are contending with tepid state investment in higher education that has sent some looking elsewhere for revenue.”
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10/26/2017 – Center For American Progress’s Failed ‘Progressive Case’ For Charter Schools

THIS WEEK: Tax Reform Fears … LA Charter School Scandal … Charter School Rift … Don’t Dis Print … College Aid Declines

TOP STORY

Center For American Progress’s Failed ‘Progressive Case’ For Charter Schools

By Jeff Bryant

“President Donald Trump swept into office on a platform that included support for charter schools … so it’s surprising to see the Center for American Progress, originators of the #Resist campaign, issue a ‘Progressive Case for Charter Schools’ … But CAP’s argument for charters is flawed and unconvincing in multiple ways.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

The Unnoticed Threat to Public Schools

Democracy Journal

“While the eyes of public education advocates remain transfixed on Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Trump’s private school voucher and ‘skinny budget’ aspirations, they are missing the far graver threat to public schools – tax reform … Consider the existing federal tax deduction for state and local property taxes, which overwhelmingly fund local schools … The best hope for protecting public education from the worst of the Republican budget and tax agenda lies in communicating loudly and widely that deep reduction or elimination of the state and local tax deduction would decimate public education.”
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A Los Angeles School Board Scandal Could Upend Plans By Charter Backers To Take Over Public Schools

The Intercept

“The district attorney of Los Angeles County filed criminal charges this month against Ref Rodriguez, the school board president of the nation’s second-largest public school district. Accused of laundering money into his 2015 political campaign with the help of his cousin, Rodriguez faces three felony charges and 25 misdemeanors … Rodriguez became the first charter school operator to join the Los Angeles school board. He was backed by the well-heeled charter school movement, which spent more than $2 million to help elect him. This past spring, education reform advocates won three more seats, giving the board a slim pro-charter majority for the first time ever … How this all plays out in California will almost surely affect education politics elsewhere.”
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The Rift Among Charter Schools

The American Prospect

“So-called ‘independent charters’ – freestanding schools not run by networked chains – have also begun to organize collectively. They’re saying their interests and reputations can suffer when they’re lumped in with the rest of the charter movement… 60% of the nation’s charters are independent … Ultimately, leaders of independent charters are trying to figure out how to save, or redefine, the brand of the charter school movement.”
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A New Study Shows That Students Learn Way More Effectively From Print Textbooks Than Screens

Business Insider

“While new forms of classroom technology like digital textbooks are more accessible and portable, it would be wrong to assume that students will automatically be better served by digital reading … Students said they preferred and performed better when reading on screens. But their actual performance tended to suffer … Students were able to better comprehend information in print for texts that were more than a page in length. This appears to be related to the disruptive effect that scrolling has on comprehension … There are significant costs and consequences to discounting the printed word’s value for learning and academic development.”
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College Prices Rise Moderately, But Still Outstrip Student Aid

Education Week

“College prices increased moderately in the past year, but they still outstrip the aid students get to pay the bills … For community college students, and in-state students at public, four-year institutions, room and board eats up a bigger part of their budgets than tuition and fees … The average total aid for a fulltime undergraduate in 2016-17 was $14,400 … In 2015-16, average total aid for a fulltime undergraduate was $14,460.”
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