Education Opportunity Network

Education Opportunity Network -

2/4/2016 – An Emerging New Narrative For Education

THIS WEEK: How Bernie Would Improve Schools … Poverty Sprawl … Black Students Get Harsher Discipline … Test Rebellion Gets Bigger … Which Students Get Newer Teachers

TOP STORY

An Emerging New Narrative For Education

By Jeff Bryant

“The simple story about education no longer works – at least the one we’ve been hearing for the past 20 years … Fortunately, a new narrative is emerging from sources outside the usual think tanks and policy shops … It’s a radical departure from the current policy that constricts educational opportunity by imposing financial austerity, expanding private ownership of the system, and using narrow-minded measures of what constitutes ‘results.’”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

Bernie Sanders Has A Bold, Simple Idea For Improving Public Education

Vox

“Bernie Sanders came out in favor of a massive change in the way the US funds schools … Bernie’s right: The property tax system of funding schools is inherently regressive, granting fewer resources to poorer towns with lower property values and more to rich towns with high property values. Federalizing funding of public schools … would be a huge boon for both economic and racial equality … Done right, it can improve school quality while maintaining a degree of local autonomy … Federalizing education spending would entail raising federal spending on the order of $500 billion a year … It’s … possible to raise a big chunk of that revenue by, for example, raising the top income tax rate to 50%.”
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What Will Poverty Sprawl Mean For School Districts?

Education Week

“The geography of child poverty is changing, and research suggests educators may need to tailor their supports for disadvantaged students in rural, suburban, and urban areas … Urban poor students tend to have more chronic stressors … Urban poor areas generally have a wider variety of programs … Rural poor students may have lower crime and costs of living and better access to nature and play areas, but may be more economically … isolated … have fewer early-childhood or school-age support and welfare programs … Suburban poor students tend to have lower stressors and higher resources … but they may face more frequent discrimination from wealthier peers.”
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Black Students In South Twice As Likely As Whites To Be Physically Disciplined And Suspended, Report Shows

Atlanta Black Star

“Black students in the South are twice as likely to receive corporal punishment … One in 100 Black Georgia students reported being struck by a teacher… Black male students were more likely to receive physical punishment … 42,000 Black male students reported being beaten … Black students are not just physically punished at a higher rate. They also have higher rates of suspension than white students … 15% of Black students will be suspended in a given year and Black students are twice as likely to receive in-school suspension.”
Read more …

The Testing Opt-Out Movement Is Growing, Despite Government Efforts To Kill It

The Washington Post

Award-winning New York school principal Carol Burris writes, “The testing ‘opt out’ movement is gaining momentum, even as efforts to derail it ramp up … The Ohio legislature is considering a bill that would take opt out students out of accountability reporting … which would, in turn, result in less local resistance to parent requests … In Delaware, the State PTA led the fight to overturn their governor’s veto of a bill that would have made it easier for parents to opt their children out … The leader of the Florida House Democrats, Mark Pafford, publicly urged parents to opt their students out of the tests, which he characterized as meaningless … Keep an on eye on the state that accounted for nearly half of the half million opt outs last year – New York. Despite attempts to convince the public that there will be real change to the standards, testing and teacher evaluation, the parents’ opt out movement is gearing up.”
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Black, Hispanic Students Tend To Have Less Experienced Math Teachers

Education Week

“Black and Hispanic students are much more likely to have an 8th grade math teacher with five or fewer years’ experience than are their white and Asian peers … There’s good proof that experience begets quality, at least to a point – a recent study found that the average teacher’s ability to boost student achievement increases for the first 10 years of teaching, and possibly longer … 36% of black students and 33% of Hispanic students have a math teacher who has taught secondary math for five years or less.”
Read more …

1/28/2016 – The School Choice We Have Vs. The Choice We Want

THIS WEEK: Spending On Schools Falls Again … Defending Detroit Teachers Strike … Graduation Gap For Special Ed … What Arne Duncan Did Wrong … How Parent Debt Affects Kids

TOP STORY

The School Choice We Have Vs. The Choice We Want

By Jeff Bryant

“It’s that time of year when National School Choice Week is staged by – well, we really don’t know who – to elevate ‘education options,’ primarily, charter schools and vouchers, for K-12 students … But this year’s celebration of ‘choice’ plays out against a more compelling national news story in Detroit, where teachers have been staging a series of ‘sickouts’ to protest the deplorable conditions in their public schools … What we see in Detroit is increasing evidence of the ‘school choice’ American communities really have, especially in low-income communities of color. What kind of ‘choice’ is this?”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Spending In Nation’s Schools Falls Again, With Wide Variation Across States

The Washington Post

“The nation’s per-pupil spending on K-12 public schools dropped in 2013 for the third year in a row … It shows that, in many places, funding for public education has not rebounded as the economy recovered from the Great Recession. 20 states saw per-pupil spending decline by 1% or more in the 2012-2013 school year, and some saw much larger decreases … State funding accounts for about 45% of schools’ revenue, and it declined two-tenths of a percent in 2013 … Federal spending on education dropped more dramatically – by nearly 10% … Local governments ponied up nearly 1% more … But in most states, local governments depend on property taxes to raise money for education, which means that poor communities have less wherewithal than affluent ones to fill budget holes.”
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Sick of Inequality: The Case For The Detroit Teacher Strike

The Progressive

New York City school teacher Jose Luis Vilson writes, “National attention is focused on inhumane conditions in two Michigan cities: Flint’s lead-filled drinking water and Detroit’s rotten public schools. The former has garnered the attention … The crisis in Detroit’s public schools has a long history but has not gotten the attention it deserves. For years, teachers have been complaining about miserable learning conditions for students … Part of the lack of media attention to DPS may have to do with the narratives about Detroit public schools told by current education ‘reformers.’ Charter schools and free market choice advocates have capitalized on the discord and lack of resources in public schools to recruit students … To whom is it not obvious that schooling is as much a public good as safe drinking water?”
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Special Education Graduation Disparities Highlighted In New Report

Education Week

“Many states are still doing a dismal job in getting students with disabilities across the high school finish line on time with a standard diploma. Fewer than half of the students with disabilities in Alaska, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, Mississippi, and South Carolina graduated with a regular diploma … 33 states graduated fewer than 70% of their students with disabilities.”
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New Education Secretary To Teachers: Our Bad

US News And World Report

“Acting Education Secretary John King offered teachers an olive branch … acknowledging his department’s role in creating a politicized education environment … King … addressed the Education Department’s laser-like focus on getting states to adopt new teacher evaluations that take into account student test scores … The Obama administration’s hallmark competitive grant program, Race to the Top, and its offer of waivers from the then-federal education law, No Child Left Behind, both pushed states to adopt new evaluation systems … Despite his previous comments about not always being inclusive of teachers, King reiterated the Obama administration’s continued belief that students’ test scores should be part of an evaluation system.”
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Parents’ Financial Debt Linked To Behavioral Problems In Their Kids

Live Science

“Children whose parents have certain kinds of financial debt may be more likely to have behavioral problems, a new study suggests … Children in the study whose parents had ‘unsecured debt,’ such as credit card debt or unpaid medical bills, were more likely to experience behavioral difficulties than kids whose parents did not have this type of debt … This type of debt may trigger stress and anxiety in parents, which may affect their parenting and, in turn, their kids’ emotional well-being … The researchers found that, among the parents who had unsecured debt, the average amount of the debt was $10,000.”
Read more …

1/21/2016 – A Ruling In Favor Of Friedrichs Will Hurt Education

THIS WEEK: Childhood Trauma Hurts … Ethnic Studies Increase Overall Achievement … Why School Suspensions Decline … No To School Metal Detectors … Surge In College Debt Forgiveness

TOP STORY

A Ruling In Favor Of Friedrichs Will Hurt Education

By Jeff Bryant

“Earlier this month, news about a US Supreme Court case Friedrichs v California Teachers Association raised concerns for progressives everywhere – and for good reason … Should the court decide to uphold the plaintiffs in the case, and not the teachers union … please understand the judges’ decision won’t just hurt teachers’ paychecks and their rights to organize and speak out. It will hurt our children’s education.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

Kindergartners With Traumatic Life Experiences Struggle More in School

HealthDay

“Childhood traumas of various sorts can cause kindergartners to struggle in class as well as life … Those with difficult experiences up until age 5 had math and reading difficulties and difficulty focusing in kindergarten, and were also more likely to have social problems and to be aggressive toward others. The experiences included neglect or physical, sexual or psychological abuse. They also included living in a household with domestic abuse or with a household member who was in jail or prison, had a mental illness or had an addiction or substance abuse problem … Caregivers of just over 1,000 children found that slightly more than half of the kids had faced at least one out of nine adverse experiences; 12% had experienced three of them.”
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Study Suggests Academic Benefits To Ethnic Studies Courses

Phyz.org

“A high school ethnic studies course examining the roles of race, nationality and culture on identity and experience boosted attendance and academic performance of students at risk of dropping out … Students not only made gains in attendance and grades, they also increased the number of course credits they earned to graduate … The findings come as educators and policymakers in Arizona, California, Oregon, and other states debate adding or taking away such curriculum … Ethnic studies proponents contend the courses can help address academic disparities … Opponents have argued they are anti-American.”
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Suspensions And Expulsions Decline As Districts Adopt Alternatives, State Says

EdSource

“The number of students expelled and suspended from California schools continued to decline in 2014-15 as more school districts focused on resolving behavior issues without taking students out of class … Advocates praised the decline in punitive discipline and called for continued training and support for school employees … In addition … The state’s education finance system introduced in July 2013, known as the Local Control Funding Formula, has been ‘a game changer’ for school discipline practices … The funding accountability plan requires school districts to track measures of school climate, including rates of suspensions and expulsions and results from student, parent and staff surveys about the welcoming environment on campus.”
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Do Metal Detectors in Schools Do More Harm Than Good?

The Atlantic

“Almost as many New York City students run the gauntlet of X-ray machines each day as pass through the scanners at busy Miami International Airport. And the procedure is numbingly similar … The daily ritual is borne disproportionately by students of color … The metal detectors were first installed in the early 1990s when crime rates were much higher and have stayed in place even as crime in the public schools has fallen 48% over the past 10 year … In the approximately 3 million scans conducted in the first two months of this school year, only a tiny number of contraband items were discovered … Some school officials believe the daily security checks actually lead to behavior problems among the students … The metal detectors send a message to the students that ‘we don’t trust you. And even if we trusted you, we don’t necessarily trust the guy behind you.’”
Read more …

Thousands Apply To U.S. To Forgive Their Student Loans, Saying Schools Defrauded Them

The Wall Street Journal

“Americans are flooding the government with appeals to have their student loans forgiven on the grounds that schools deceived them with false promises of a well-paying career … In the past six months, more than 7,500 borrowers owing $164 million have applied to have their student debt expunged under an obscure federal law … The law forgives debt for borrowers who prove their schools used illegal tactics to recruit them, such as by lying about their graduates’ earnings … The program could prove to be one of the few lifelines for hundreds of thousands of Americans buried in student debt … The surge in applications reflects the growing savvy of student activists, who discovered the law last year after it had largely sat dormant for two decades.”
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1/14/2016 – How Much De We Hate Our Children?

THIS WEEK: Fixing Urban Schools … Computers Widen Achievement Gap … Closing Schools Hurts Students … College Degree Gap Grows … Why We Need Unions

TOP STORY

How Much De We Hate Our Children?

By Jeff Bryant

“Conversations with Americans still elicit lots of sentiment for the well-being of kids. But it’s increasingly harder to see that sentiment reflected in policy … Big numbers don’t tell the whole story … Anecdotal evidence of our, not just neglect, but abject militancy toward the needs of children is even more disturbing. But there are recent examples of adults taking actions to change policies and practices to address the needs of children, and those examples are growing and spreading.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

How To Fix the Country’s Failing Schools. And How Not To.

The New York Times

Public policy professor David Kirp writes, “A quarter-century ago, Newark and nearby Union City epitomized the failure of American urban school systems … Today Union City, which opted for homegrown gradualism, is regarded as a poster child for good urban education. Newark, despite huge infusions of money and outside talent, has struggled … Newark’s big mistake was not so much that the school officials embraced one solution or another but that they placed their faith in the idea of disruptive change and charismatic leaders. Union City adopted the opposite approach, embracing the idea of gradual change and working within existing structure.”
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Using Computers Widens The Achievement Gap In Writing, A Federal Study Finds

The Hechinger Report

“Last year, more than half of U.S. states gave computer-based writing tests to children as young as third-graders … The majority used a computer … High-performing students did substantially better on the computer than with pencil and paper. But the opposite was true for average and low-performing students. They crafted better sentences using pencil and paper than they did using the computer. Low-income and black and Hispanic students tended to be in this latter category … [Children] do better writing by hand if they’re less experienced [with computers]. And if they’re more experienced, then there may actually be an advantage toward writing on the computer.”
Read more …

Students Attending Closing Schools Graduated With Less Rigorous Diplomas

Education Week

“What happens to the students who are still attending low-performing high schools while those schools are being phased out? A new look at such students … found that those students … were less likely to graduate college-ready when compared to peers at demographically similar low-performing schools that had not been targeted for closure. In addition, students … were less likely to graduate on time when compared to students at low-performing schools that were not scheduled to close … School closures and their impacts on students are fraught with controversy as schools officials and policymakers continue to wrestle with the best ways to turn around low-performing schools.”
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College Degree Gap Grows Wider Between Whites, Blacks And Latinos

The Hechinger Report

“The racial gap in who’s graduating from college has widened since 2007 … Companies that have benefited from the loan program range from debt servicer While more blacks and Latinos are graduating from college now, the percentage of whites graduating has grown even faster … At the same time, states have cut the funding they provide to public colleges, per student, by 21% since the economic collapse in 2008, and have raised tuition by 28%. As public colleges become more costly, it’s harder for low-income students to finish a degree. In many states, those students are disproportionately black and Latino … The widely accepted prediction is that 65% of jobs by 2020 will require education beyond high school. So state economies and the wellbeing of states’ residents could suffer if these trends continue.”
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Strong Unions, Strong Democracy

The New York Times

Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation writes, “In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association … the ruling bloc of conservative justices appears ready to render a decision later this year that would significantly weaken public sector labor unions. By stripping these unions of key financial resources – their fair share of fees provided by nonmembers – the court would upend a longstanding precedent. A decision in favor of the plaintiff would effectively slam the door on an era in which some conservatives joined liberals in recognizing that vibrant unions help make our democracy work. This is radicalism, not conservatism … Because today’s conservatives are typically hostile to unions, it’s easy to forget that they were not always opposed to unionism or fair share fees … Teachers unions are strong champions of American public schooling, which undergirds our democracy … Unions aren’t faultless, but they are a crucial source of stability and strength for our democracy.”
Read more …

1/7/2016 – Five Education Stories To Keep Your Eye On In 2016

THIS WEEK: Students Are Over-Stressed … Millions Go To Failed Charter Schools … Instead Of Suspensions … Who Profits From College Debt … Why Standardized Tests Suck

TOP STORY

Five Education Stories To Keep Your Eye On In 2016

By Jeff Bryant

“Here are five stories to look for … Vulnerable governors … Charter schools … The Test Rebellion … Friedrichs … Chicago.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Is The Drive For Success Making Our Children Sick?

The New York Times

“Expectations surrounding education have spun out of control … Even those not bound for college are ground down by the constant measurement in schools under pressure to push through mountains of rote, impersonal material as early as preschool … This drive for success is eroding children’s health and undermining their potential. Modern education is actually making them sick … A growing body of medical evidence suggests that long-term childhood stress is linked not only with a higher risk of adult depression and anxiety, but with poor physical health outcomes, as well … Working together, parents, educators and students can make small but important changes.”
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Florida Gave About $70 Million To Charter Schools That Later Closed; State Recouped Little

Miami Herald

“Charter schools, which are public schools run by private groups, have received more than $760 million from [Florida] taxpayers since 2000 … Yet charter schools in 30 districts have wound up closing after receiving as much as $70 million combined in such funding … Taxpayers usually can’t recover the capital money invested in those schools because most of it has been spent on rent or leasing costs. The Department of Education reported it has taken back just $133,000 in the last three years from schools that closed.”
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What Happens When Instead Of Suspensions, Kids Talk Out Their Mistakes?

The Hechinger Report

“There is now strong research that shows pulling students out of class as punishment can hurt their long-term academic prospects. What’s more, data show that punishments are often unequal. Nationally, more black students are suspended than white students … Alternative programs like restorative justice are gaining popularity in public schools from Maine to Oregon. Early adopters of the practice report dramatic declines in school discipline problems, as well as improved climates on campuses and even gains in student achievement … In addition … there is now federal pressure for districts to rethink their practices: Schools may face sanctions if discipline policies are found to unfairly target minority students. That is a significant milestone.”
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Who’s Profiting From $1.2 Trillion Of Federal Student Loans?

Bloomberg Business

“Congress created the loan program 50 years ago with the goal of encouraging students to attend college. Today, the Education Department is one of the largest financial institutions in the country. If it were a bank, it would rank fifth in the U.S. in assets … Companies that have benefited from the loan program range from debt servicer Affiliated Computer Services … to Education Management, which operates for-profit colleges … FMS Investment … was paid $227 million by the Education Department from October 2011 through September of this year… Florida Coastal is part of the InfiLaw System … A principal investor in InfiLaw is Sterling Partners, a private-equity firm that also owns a stake in Laureate Education Inc., which is planning an initial public offering next year … FMS’s parent, Ceannate, is one of about two dozen collection firms paid a total of $963 million in the fiscal year that ended in September… That’s down from a record $1.1 billion the previous year.”
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Straight Talk About Standardized Tests

The Progressive

Pennsylvania classroom teacher Peter Greene writes, “It may seem odd or even hypocritical for teachers to complain about standardized tests … These tests are scored by seasonal, minimum wage workers in temporary test-scoring sweatshops. The emphasis is on speed … The line drawn between success and failure … is drawn only after the tests have been scored … So students will not be able to find out what they need to do until after they have taken a test … This after-the-fact level setting also means that the line can be drawn differently every year … All of this means that even if they were great tests (that’s another conversation), they would not give parents or policymakers a picture of how a school is doing.”
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12/17/2015 – The Important Education Issue Leaders Are Still Ignoring

THIS WEEK: Worst Schools In America … Problems With New Fed Ed Law … States Still Cutting School Funding … Fighting Charter School Takeovers … Science Textbooks Botch Climate Change

TOP STORY

The Important Education Issue Leaders Are Still Ignoring

By Jeff Bryant

“The issue that remains mostly unaddressed in education policy is the massive under-funding that most states continue to inflict on public schools … The new [Center on Budget and Policy Priority] report finds, ‘Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools – in some cases, much less – than before the Great Recession’ … State funding is a key factor in any assessment of the health and well being of the nation’s public schools … Alternative sources of education funding have not come forward to address the downturn.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

How Washington Created Some Of The Worst Schools In America

Politico

“The network of schools for Native American children run by an obscure agency of the Interior Department remains arguably the worst school system in the United States, a disgrace the government has known about for eight decades and never successfully reformed … No Child Left Behind program, which aimed to bring accountability to schools, was especially hard to implement at BIE. Administrators struggle to comply with local tests and standards in 23 different states … During the Obama administration’s first term … school construction budgets for schools dwindled under competing administration priorities and twice the administration didn’t propose any money for new BIE schools. Meanwhile, a parade of directors – three in four years – gave the agency inconsistent oversight.”
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The Successor To No Child Left Behind Has, It Turns Out, Big Problems Of Its Own

The Washington Post

Valerie Strauss writes, “Anybody expecting the Every Student Succeeds Act to be a fix-all will be disappointed … Use of federal funds for ‘Pay for Success’ programs allow wealthy investors to make profits from education investments … States will be required to fund ‘equitable services’ for children in private and religious schools who are deemed eligible … Provisions in the legislation for the establishment of teacher preparation academies are written to primarily support non-traditional, non-university programs … ESSA is a compromise bill.”
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K-12 Funding Cuts Persist

Center On Budget And Policy Priorities

“Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools … than before the Great Recession … 31 states provided less state funding per student in the 2014 school year … than in the 2008 school year … In at least 18 states, local government funding per student fell over the same period … This year … 12 states imposed new cuts, even as the national economy continues to improve.”
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L.A. School Communities Resist Take Over By Charter Schools’ ‘Hurricane Eli’

The Progressive

Los Angeles public school parent Cynthia Liu writes, “In September of 2015, the LA Times broke the story that Eli Broad’s foundation planned to spend $490 million over approximately eight years to push its plan to convert half of the schools in the district to charter schools run by private operators … Broad’s leaked plan exposes the top-down nature of the charter sector. Never before has it been so glaringly evident how a single wealthy benefactor can rearrange a public school district according to his own ambitions. Families who previously viewed charter schools as a life raft for their children now must confront the sweeping nature of Broad’s plan: is it still “school choice” if a Broad-sponsored charter wave is the tsunami that eventually removes any other kind of school? … The immediate revelation of the top-down, high-handed Broad plan sparked outrage and protest by UTLA and various community groups. Teachers, parents, and community members pushed back.”
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Textbooks Out Of Step With Scientists On Climate Change, Study Says

Education Week

“Researchers looked at four 6th grade science textbooks that were published nearly a decade ago and are still being used in some California schools. In those texts, ‘the causes of climate change were shrouded in uncertainty’ … he texts often refer to what climate scientists ‘believe’ and “think,’ using verbs that convey uncertainty, rather than discussing what they’ve done such as collecting data … Materials adoptions in California, which serves more than 6 million public school students, have historically had a hefty impact on the textbook market nationally … The study points to 2011 research saying that only about half of U.S. teens believe climate change is occurring. And it says that teachers are reliant on textbooks to guide their instruction.”
Read more …

Happy Holidays

Next week EON is taking a holiday break from publishing. Best wishes for the season and the New Year.

12/10/2015 – New Report Shines A Light Into The Charter School Black Box

THIS WEEK: Becoming California … High-Poverty Kids Get Substitutes … Education Doesn’t Fix Poverty … Poor Pay For Pre-K Teachers … Unions Improve Teacher Quality

TOP STORY

New Report Shines A Light Into The Charter School Black Box

By Jeff Bryant

“Charter schools are now the most rapidly growing form of schools in the nation’s education system … So little is known about how charter schools are organized and operated that they’re often referred to as a ‘black box’ … A new policy brief from the National Education Policy Center pries at the lid of the charter school black box to shine a light into these institutions and reveal how charter schools blur the line from what it means to be a ‘public school’ and, by their very design, expand opportunities to profiteer from public tax dollars and privatize public assets.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

No Child Left Behind Replacement Would Give Other States The Freedom California Has Already Claimed

Los Angeles Times

“With No Child Left Behind one step closer to being a thing of the past, the governance of schools in other states is poised to look a lot more like California’s … California is already in the process of changing its school accountability system … a new system that includes factors such as attendance, how quickly students who don’t speak English are learning the language, college readiness, dropout rates and suspensions … California has a strong recent history of bucking federal dictates on education.”
Read more …

High-Poverty Schools Often Staffed By Rotating Cast Of Substitutes

The Washington Post

“In the troubled schools that serve some of the nation’s neediest children, it is not uncommon for classrooms to churn with substitutes as teachers leave in large numbers each June, or quit midyear, and principals struggle to fill the positions … The frequent use of substitutes with varying levels of skill and commitment effectively steal learning time from students who can least afford it … Just 27 states require substitutes to be certified teachers … The problem appears to be growing as teacher shortages intensify nationwide, leaving school systems struggling to fill vacancies.”
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Why Education Does Not Fix Poverty

Demos

Matt Bruenig writes, “Since 1991 … we steadily reduced the share of adults in the ‘less than high school’ and ‘high school’ … By 2014 … the share of adults with an Associate degree went up 3.9 points, the share with a Bachelor’s degree went up 8.3 points, and the share with a post-Bachelor’s degree went up 4.8 points… The poverty rate for each educational [level] went up over this time and overall poverty didn’t decline at all. In fact it went up … Handing out more high school and college diplomas doesn’t magically create more good-paying jobs … The big things that cause poverty for adults over the age of 25 in a low-welfare capitalist society … do not go away just because you have a better degree.”
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The Teachers Who Educate Our Youngest Kids Are Struggling To Make Ends Meet

The Huffington Post

“A new report … shows that a majority of voters think early childhood educators deserve more pay … Early childhood educators earn notoriously little money. A 2014 report … found that preschool teachers typically only make six dollars more an hour than fast-food workers … though early childhood educators are often required to have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree … Over 50% of early childhood educators said that finding a job with sufficient salary and benefits was a major obstacle. 84 % of preschool teachers said that low pay is a big challenge facing their profession.”
Read more …

Study Finds Unions Improve Teacher Quality, Lead To Lower Dropout Rates

Campaign For America’s Future

“A recent report … uses empirical data analysis to correct the record on the effects of unions … Teachers in districts where collective bargaining is allowed are more likely to remain in teaching than teachers in districts where bargaining is prohibited … Higher salaries that unions demand through collective bargaining encourages school districts to carefully evaluate new teachers’ performances during probationary periods and weed out ineffective teachers, in order to avoid paying the even higher wages once these teachers receive tenure … In districts where teachers are legally able to negotiate salaries and benefits … high school dropout rates decline.”
Read more …

12/3/2015 – Pass Every Student Succeeds Act, But Don’t Celebrate It

THIS WEEK: US Falling Behind … College Attendance Rates Fall … Diversity Works … California’s Alternative To Testing … Teacher-Powered Schools Grow

TOP STORY

Go Ahead, Pass Every Student Succeeds Act, But Don’t Celebrate It

By Jeff Bryant

“On Wednesday afternoon, the House overwhelmingly passed the proposed Every Student Succeeds Act. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure this month, and the White House has signaled President Obama’s willingness to sign it … For sure, there are things to like and dislike about the bill, but while lawmakers and policy wonks are back-slapping and glad-handing each other, this is also an opportune time to reflect on where we are in the evolution of education policy compared to where we should be.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

US Falls Behind Other Nations In The Global Knowledge Economy, Says 46-Country Report

The Hechinger Report

“The United States continues to fall behind internationally in producing a college-educated workforce … In the very early years, many countries are now sending a much higher percentage of their kids to preschool than the United States … In several countries, nearly 60% of 25- to 34-year-olds have a college education … In the United States, by contrast, only 46% of the younger generation has a college education … On the early childhood front, the United States has one of the lowest enrollment rates among OECD countries, where, on average, more than 70% of young children attend preschool … In the United States, only 41% of 3-year-olds and 66% of 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschools.”
Read more …

College Enrollment Rates Are Dropping, Especially Among Low-Income Students

The Washington Post

“Low-income high school graduates were far less likely to enroll in higher education in 2013 than in 2008, a downward trend that came at the same time the Obama administration was pushing to boost college access and completion … College enrollment rates have fallen for all students since 2008 … But the enrollment rates among the poorest students has fallen much faster … Enrollment was dropping at the same time as federal and private grant aid was increasing and high school graduation rates were rising – two trends that higher education advocates hoped would boost college access for poor youth.”
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Study Finds Diversity Plan Lessened Wake County School Segregation

The News & Observer

“Wake County’s efforts to balance schools by income kept it more diverse than other large North Carolina school systems and also helped to reduce the achievement gap between white and black students … Wake switched in 2000 to trying to balance the percentages of students receiving subsidized lunches in its schools while the other districts moved to neighborhood schools and choice … Wake County’s math and reading scores rose slightly and the achievement gap between black and white students narrowed after the switch.”
Read more …

California Leads Drive To Reverse Focus On Standardized Tests

Ed Source

“California is … in the middle of devising a new accountability system, a massive and complex undertaking in a state as large and diverse as California, that is intended to go far beyond a narrow preoccupation with test scores … Gov. Jerry Brown has been consistent in challenging the role of testing – and has clashed repeatedly with the Obama administration on this issue … The state is moving toward establishing a much broader accountability system, of which tests – improved ones, according to proponents – will comprise just one part. In California, the new accountability system will be based on ‘multiple measures’ rooted in eight “priority areas” established by the state in the 2013 Local Control Funding Formula law championed by Brown … All this is taking place as Congress, after years of gridlock on the issue, appears to be moving to replace the No Child Left Behind law with one that will move the nation distinctly in the direction California is already going.”
Read more …

Why Teacher-Powered Schools Are Picking Up Momentum

Center for Teaching Quality

Barnett Berry, the executive director of the Center for Teaching Quality writes, “In teacher-powered schools, students are at the center of every decision. Teachers secure autonomy to make the big choices about a wide array of factors, such as the learning program, school-community partnerships, and budgeting … The teacher-powered model isn’t new, but it’s definitely picking up momentum. More than 80 public teacher-powered schools currently operate in at least 15 states … New research reveals not only the positive effects of teacher collaboration on student achievement, but also the specific factors that contribute most to teachers’ professional growth and leadership … Polling data reveal that the vast majority of parents have trust and confidence in teachers, and while they want more school choices, they are most interested in teachers leading.”
Read more …

11/24/2015 – Teacher Evaluations Fall Off The Education ‘Reform’ Agenda

THIS WEEK: Opt Outs Hit Half Million … Teachers Need Affordable Housing … NCLB For Higher Ed … High School Student Activism … States Take Over Education

TOP STORY

Teacher Evaluations Fall Off The Education ‘Reform’ Agenda

By Jeff Bryant

“Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently shook up the education policy world when she challenged one of the pillars of the education establishment for the last 10-15 years, that teachers’ job evaluations and pay should be linked to how students – even students they don’t teach – perform on standardized tests … The important story isn’t as much about what Clinton said as it is about the response it got from the establishment that’s been in charge of education policy for nearly three decades.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

At Least 500,000 Students In 7 States Sat Out Standardized Tests This Past Spring

The Washington Post

“About 500,000 public school students in seven states ‘opted out’ and refused to take federally required standardized tests in math and reading in the spring … New York 240,000 students opted out, New Jersey 110,000, Colorado 100,000, Washington state 50,000, Oregon 20,000, Illinois 20,000 and New Mexico 10,000… A study released last month found that the number of standardized tests US public school students take has exploded in the past decade, with most schools requiring too many tests of dubious value.”
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Can Affordable Housing Help Retain Teachers?

American Prospect

“A great deal of evidence has shown how homelessness and housing insecurity can negatively impact a student’s behavior … Less attention has been paid to the relationship between educators and their housing … Efforts to attract, or retain, teachers through subsidized housing is growing more pronounced, and debates over how such projects impact their surrounding communities are likely to intensify in the coming years … Maybe subsidized housing that targets young professionals won’t be what it takes to help attract career educators, yet it’s clear that cities do want to help recruit and retain educators who actually live in the communities in which they serve – an effort that may require more than just a salary increase.”
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The University Of North Carolina’s New President Should Scare Anyone Who Cares About Higher Ed

The Nation

Zoë Carpenter writes, “After the board that governs the University of North Carolina unexpectedly fired system president Tom Ross … it chose someone outside the state’s conservative machinery: Margaret Spellings, former secretary of education under George W. Bush. Spellings is a seasoned political operative; Karl Rove introduced her to Bush … Spellings went on to work in the troubled for-profit [college] industry after leaving the White House – an experience, she told UNC’s board of governors, that taught her ‘a lot about how we can serve our students and think of them as customers in providing a product in convenient ways for them.'”
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The Other Student Activists

The Atlantic

“A surge of student activism has swept across academia in recent weeks as black students and their allies forcefully call attention to racist climates on American college campuses … High-school youth are flexing their collective muscles for equity: fighting budget cuts and out-of-school suspensions as they take on racial issues and academic offerings …. Many youth today are not content to be on the sidelines. Like several hundred Chicago teens who rallied against public-school cutbacks and potential teacher layoffs earlier this month … Similarly, Philadelphia students, rocked by a severe school-funding crisis, took to the streets this fall to protest cuts to neighborhood schools … At the root of student organizing is the demand for fair and equal treatment.”
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The Fight Over K-12 Education Appears Headed Back To The States

The Washington Post

“Congress is expected to take a final vote on a bill to replace No Child Left Behind, the current federal law, after Thanksgiving … The bill is expected to pass and the White House has indicated that President Obama will sign it … The greatest change in the proposed law is a dismantling of the federal accountability system that defined whether K-12 schools were successful, prescribed actions to improve struggling schools, and imposed penalties on states and schools that failed to make progress. It also prevents the federal government from requiring states to evaluate teachers and principals and adopt specific academic standards … Decisions about how to identify successful and struggling schools and teachers, how much weight to give to test scores, and how and when to intervene in struggling schools will be left to each state.”
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11/19/2015 – What Education Policy Makers Can Learn From A ‘Failing School’

THIS WEEK: Clinton Splits With Obama … Test-Based Teacher Evaluations … Kids With Guns In Schools … Effective Anti-Bullying … How To Beat Big Money

TOP STORY

What Education Policy Makers Can Learn From A ‘Failing School’

By Jeff Bryant

“‘How can someone make a decision about a school they’ve never even walked into?’ That question is at the heart of Kristina Rizga’s terrific new book Mission High … Rizga uses her considerable journalistic skills … to involve readers in the lives of students and educators at Mission High, a San Francisco public school with a proud history but a ‘failing school’ label … Rizga came to see a very different story about the school – one of committed educators and persevering learners doing all they can to succeed despite the judgments and prescriptions of policy makers.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Clinton Says ‘No Evidence’ That Teachers Can Be Judged By Student Test Scores

The Washington Post

“Hillary Rodham Clinton said she is opposed to using student test scores as a way to judge a teacher’s performance, dismissing a key feature of education policies promoted by the Obama administration … According to the transcript, Clinton responded … ‘I have for a very long time also been against the idea that you tie teacher evaluation and even teacher pay to test outcomes,’ she said. ‘There’s no evidence’ … In the last few years, nearly every state has implemented systems to evaluate teachers based in part on student test scores, largely because the Obama administration made it a condition for states to receive either a grant under Race to the Top or a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.”
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Research Group Latest To Caution Use Of ‘Value Added’ For Teachers

Education Week

“The membership group representing education researchers has released a statement warning of the ‘potentially serious negative consequences’ of using ‘value added’ models to judge individual teachers or teacher-preparation programs … Such models, which are based on growth in students’ test scores over time, potentially misidentify teachers and programs … Many states use some form of student-growth data in their teacher-evaluation systems; others use it, in the aggregate, as a component in reviewing teacher-preparation programs.”
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Kids Are Bringing Guns To School On An Almost Daily Basis This Academic Year

The Trace

“Since the start of the school year … students from kindergarten through high school have been caught bringing guns onto campus at least 77 times … Excluding weekends, that works out to once every 29 hours … The five Gulf Coast states … account for nearly a quarter of reported incidents …. where gun ownership is surging, even as the share of Americans who live in a household with at least one gun (32%) …. is lower than it’s ever been … Some states have laws designed to hold adults accountable when a child brings a gun to school, but they are rarely enforced … Often times, it is the child who is led away in handcuffs.”
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What’s The Recipe For An Effective Anti-Bullying Policy?

The Atlantic

“Anti-bullying efforts, including laws many states have passed in the past five years, appear to be helping the 20 percent of kids in the U.S. who say they’ve been bullied in the past 12 months… Those who attended schools in states with anti-bullying legislation that included …. recommended key components were 24% less likely to report that they’d been bullied in the last year, and 20% less likely to say they’d been cyberbullied … Understanding which programs work and why is more complex …. Despite the imperfections of many anti-bullying laws and programs, most agree that we need them.”
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How Denver Parents Beat Back Big Money, Charter Schools, Right-Wing Lies

Salon

Jeff Bryant writes, “A school board race in Jefferson County, Colorado, just outside Denver … is an important story of how communities fighting to control their education destinies can win against big-moneyed interests and a charter school industry that want to dictate what schooling is like across the country … This outstanding school district – where real innovation is taking place in the public schools – is under assault by right-wing groups, some with connections to evangelical Christianity, and a powerful charter school industry … The Jeffco school board win is reflective of other education-relevant races around the country, growing evidence of an Education Spring, where progressives scored equally notable victories.”
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