Education Opportunity Network

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5/28/2015 – Education Makes The Progressive Punchlist

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

TOP STORY

Education Makes The Progressive Punchlist

By Jeff Bryant

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

NEWS AND VIEWS

The States Where Parents Spend The Most On Child Care

The Washington Post

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

Education Week

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

Tampa Bay Times

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

The Washington Post

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

Campaign For America’s Future

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

5/21/2015 – Charter Schools Won’t Solve Racial Injustice

THIS WEEK: Resisting Tests Promotes Equity … No Accountability for Billions Spent On Charters … Teachers Feel Underappreciated … For-Profit College Lobbying … Pre-K Spending Rises

TOP STORY

Charter Schools Won’t Solve Racial Injustice In Baltimore, Or Anywhere Else

By Jeff Bryant

“After riots broke out in Baltimore, prominent advocates for charter schools contended these schools had the power to ‘save’ the city … What plagues public schools in Baltimore, and other big cities for that matter, is not lack of charter schools … Rather than calling for unproven gimmicks like charter schools, advocates for racial equity and social justice would do more for their cause by urging government and policy leaders to actually address these problems directly.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Resistance To High Stakes Tests Serves The Cause Of Equity In Education

The Network For Public Education

Seattle high school teacher Jesse Hagopian writes, “High stakes tests are doing more harm than good to the interests of students of color … The United States is currently experiencing the largest uprising against high-stakes standardized testing in the nation’s history … Increasing numbers of people from communities of color are leading this movement … it is vital to understand the disparities that exist in education and to detail the opportunity gap that exists between students of color and white students … Yet we know that high-stakes standardized tests, rather than reducing the opportunity gap, have been used to rank, sort, label, and punish students of color … Standardized testing is not the only, or the most important, method to know that students of color are being underserved … Inequitable opportunities are manifestly evident to anyone who cares to look. The use of tests for this purpose has become part of the problem, rather than a solution.”
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Feds Failed To Keep Tabs On $3b In Aid Doled Out To Charter Schools

New York Daily News

“The federal government shelled out $3.3 billion over the past 20 years to launch new charter schools nationwide, yet failed to monitor how that money was used … Federal spending to launch charter schools zoomed from a mere $4.5 million in 1995 to more than $253 million today … with President Obama now asking Congress for a whopping increase to $375 million for next year … That’s on top of billions of dollars state governments spend for charter school operations … The U.S. Department of Education doesn’t even bother to keep a public record of which charter schools get money.”
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The Stark Inequality Of U.S. Public Schools, Mapped

City Lab

“Earlier this year, the Southern Education Foundation released a report that … examined concentrated poverty in American public schools by state. Now, the Urban Institute has taken a deeper dive by mapping the data by county, illuminating how poverty and race are distributed in public schools across the country. There are three main takeaways … 1) Poor kids are six times more likely to attend ‘high-poverty’ public schools … 2) Poverty isn’t just concentrated in inner-city public schools … 3) Black students are six times more likely to attend high-poverty schools … The key to resolving these disparities may lie in combining fair housing policies with education policies geared toward integration.”
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For-Profit Colleges Flex Political Muscle

Miami Herald

“For more than a decade, ‘accountability’ has been the education buzzword in Florida … The rules are different at for-profit colleges … Florida’s Legislature continues to encourage the growth of the industry … Lawmakers have increased funding sources and reduced quality standards and oversight … A Herald examination of campaign records since 2008 found that for-profit colleges have contributed more than $1.2 million to state lawmakers and political parties. The Legislature, in turn, passed 15 laws benefiting the industry … As state lawmakers have turned the for-profit colleges’ wish lists into legislation, they also have passed at least three bills that hindered community colleges, which directly compete for many of the same students … The for-profit colleges have made their voice heard in Washington as well, while passing out nearly $400,000 in campaign contributions to Florida-based candidates.”
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National Report: Preschool Spending, Enrollment Up Incrementally

Education Week

“40 states with state preschool programs and the District of Columbia spent $116 million more on public preschool in the 2013-14 school year than they did in 2012-13 … Enrollment increased overall by 8,535 children, with several states increasing enrollment and other decreasing enrollment … Across the country, 29% of 4-year-olds and 4% of 3-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded preschool. Including Head Start, 41.5% of 4-year-olds were enrolled and 14.5% of 3-year-olds. … Washington, D.C. is winning on 3-year-old enrollment. The district enrolls 69 percent of its 3-year-olds in publicly funded preschool … Spending per child ranged from less than $2,000 in South Carolina and Arizona to $15,732 in the District of Columbia.”
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4/23/2015 – An Alternative To Failed Education Reform

THIS WEEK: Opt-Out Movement Grows … Low-Income Kids Need Music Class … More Schools Have Longer Days, Years … More Scholarships Go To Wealthier Kids … Students’ Race Affects Teachers’ Perceptions

TOP STORY

An Alternative To Failed Education ‘Reform,’ If We Want One

By Jeff Bryant

“It would seem that at a time, such as now, when the nation’s education policy is in such disarray, and incoherence rules the day, it would be good to pivot to alternatives that might provide a more positive path forward. Indeed, such an alternative approach is at hand … California – the state with by far the most K-12 students, one in eight – has started to take education policy in a different direction … Instead of fiscal austerity and top-down accountability, financial support for local schools has grown, local authorities have been empowered to create change, and trust and verification have taken over from rigid oversight.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Opt-Out Movement Accelerates Amid Common-Core Testing

Associated Press via ABC News

“Thousands of students are opting out of new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards … This ‘opt-out’ movement remains scattered but is growing fast … Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers … Opposition runs across the political spectrum … From pre-kindergarten through grade 12, students take an average of 113 standardized tests … Teachers now devote 30 percent of their work time on testing-related tasks.”
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Low-Income Kids Benefit From Music Class, Show Greater Reading Skills

Medical Daily

“Music classes are usually cut first when schools reevaluate their budget. But a new study … shows these classes are valuable, especially to low-income children … Since music and language skills stem from auditory processing, researchers decided to measure the impact music classes have on low-income children … Children taking a music class showed greater reading abilities in comparison to children not taking a music class … Researchers added they interpreted these results to mean “auditory enrichment” offered in a music class may improve literacy skills and combat the otherwise negative impact of a low-income environment.”
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Longer School Days And Years Catching On In Public K-12

Education Week

“Twice as many schools today have a longer school day or year than just two years ago … Of the 2,009 schools that had expanded learning time last year, 1,208 – or 61% – were regular public schools … In the past two legislative sessions, lawmakers in all 50 states introduced hundreds of bills giving schools and districts the scheduling flexibility and funding to go long. More than 40 of them passed … The majority of expanded time schools serve low-income, high needs students.”
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Wealthier Students More Likely Than Poor To Get Private Scholarships

The Hechinger Report

“Federal data show that poor families that need the private scholarships the most are less likely to get them than higher-income ones … Nearly 13% of students from families that make more than $106,000 a year get private scholarships, compared with about 9% of those whose families earn less than $30,000 … Two-thirds of parents with incomes of $75,000 or more could name scholarships as potential sources of financial aid, only one in four with incomes under $25,000 a year could … Wealthier students are more likely to go to private or well-funded suburban high schools with knowledgeable college counselors… Students at private and suburban schools were significantly more likely to have spoken with a college counselor than those at urban schools … Private scholarships have grown to represent 13% of all direct grants given to American college students.”
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Students’ Race Affects How Teachers Judge Misbehavior, Study Says

Education Week Teacher

“Racial disparities in school discipline are well-documented … A new study … aims to dig a little deeper into this by looking at how a student’s race may play into teachers’ reactions to discipline problems … Studies … presented a total of 244 K-12 teachers … with a fictional student’s disciplinary records. The records were labeled with either a stereotypically black name (Deshawn or Darnell) or a stereotypically white one (Greg or Jake) … Teachers who had the black student’s file were more likely to feel ‘troubled’ by the student’s behavior and to recommend more severe punishments for him after the second instance of misbehavior … Researchers also asked the teachers to rate how certain they were of the student’s race. They found that teachers who were more sure that the student was black were also more likely to feel that the student was a ‘troublemaker’ and that his behaviors were part of a pattern … Teachers involved in the study were predominantly white and female, much like the teaching profession.”
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4/17/2015 – Worthy Revision Of NCLB

THIS WEEK: Arne Duncan Needs To Pay Better Wages … Little Kids Don’t Need Academics … New York Parents Rebel Against Testing … Where’s Hillary Clinton On Education … Colleges Tap More Tuition Dollars

TOP STORY

Is A Worthy Revision Of NCLB Really Possible?

By Jeff Bryant

“Senators are now also advancing a bipartisan bill … a bipartisan revision to the law known as No Child Left Behind … Education policy experts who often don’t agree … found something positive in the bill… Should the bill reach the Senate floor, and get acted on in the House, Democrats at some point should come forth with a proposal to include some provision that would ensure more equitable resources for schools that face the most difficult challenges. And Republicans need to heed those in their party who genuinely want to govern, and abandon any school privatization schemes.’
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Workers Who Clean Our Government Offices Say They’re Being Ripped Off

Gawker

“Even the janitor who cleans the Secretary of Education’s office says she’s not being paid what she deserves … Cleaners at Department of Education headquarters report being paid between $9 and $10 an hour without benefits, in violation of the [Service Contract Act] janitorial wage rate of $11.83 per hour plus $4.02 per hour in benefits. … Sonia Chavez, who works as a janitor for a contracting company that deals with the US Department of Education, says that she is being ripped off for her due wages, even as she cleans the office of US Education Secretary Arne Duncan each night … ‘We’re surviving day by day. We regularly get eviction notices because we can’t afford to pay rent on time.’”
Read more …

Report Debunks ‘Earlier Is Better’ Academic Instruction For Young Children

The Washington Post

“The debate about appropriate curriculum for young children generally centers on two options: free play and basic activities vs. straight academics … A new report … says that beyond free play and academics, ‘another major component of education … must be to provide a wide range of experiences, opportunities, resources and contexts’ … Longitudinal studies of the effects of different kinds of preschool curriculum models debunk the seemingly common-sense notion that ‘earlier is better’ in terms of academic instruction … ‘Intellectual dispositions’ of young children may actually be ‘weakened or even damaged by excessive and premature formal instruction.’”
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It’s Not Multiple Choice, It’s A Resounding No As Fed-Up Parents Revolt Against New York’s Standardized Exams In Historic Fashion

New York Daily News

“The entire structure of high-stakes testing in New York crumbled Tuesday, as tens of thousands of fed-up public school parents rebelled against Albany’s fixation with standardized tests and refused to allow their children to take the annual English Language Arts state exam … More than half the pupils at several Long Island and upstate school districts joined in – at some schools in New York City boycott percentages neared 40% … Conservatives … have formed an unusual alliance with liberal education advocates who claim the test … This was not provoked by any politician or the teachers unions … Tens of thousands of parents got tired of being ignored.”
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Hillary Clinton And Education: What’s Her Record? What Will She Campaign On?

Education Week

“Where would Clinton take the nation – and a divided Democratic Party – when it comes to testing, the Common Core State Standards, accountability, charter schools, and education funding? … As first lady of Arkansas, she helped … bring rigorous coursework to far-flung corners of the Natural State… Clinton helped to push Early Head Start and programs for foster children. And she was a fan of after-school programs … As a senator, Clinton voted in 2001 for the No Child Left Behind Act … but expressed qualms behind the scenes about the bill’s impact on high-flying suburban districts. And, when the Senate was mulling an NCLB rewrite in 2007 … she wanted to add a preschool grant program… One big thing from the 2008 primary season: Clinton was not in favor of merit pay for individual teachers based on test scores, an idea that then-candidate and later President Barack Obama embraced. And she’s a fan of charter schools.”
Read more …

Public Colleges’ Revenue Shift

Inside Higher Ed

“Tuition dollars made up roughly 47% of revenues for public higher education for the third straight year in 2014, cementing a trend in which tuition revenue now rivals state appropriations as the main funder of public colleges and universities … Public colleges rely on tuition dollars nearly a third more than they did before the recession. In the five years preceding the economic decline, tuition accounted for a significantly smaller share of public higher education revenues, hovering around 36% … Twenty-five states generate more than half their public higher education revenue from tuition, with 15 states generating more than 60 percent from tuition.”
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4/9/2015 – Populist Progressives Meet The Education Spring

THIS WEEK: More Schools Feed Hungry Kids … Atlanta Cheating Scandal … What’s Inside A High Performing Charter … Corporate Fundraiser Ripoffs … Predators Of Public Schools

TOP STORY

Why Populist Progressives Must Embrace The Education Spring

By Jeff Bryant

“The recent Chicago mayoral election where Democratic incumbent Rahm Emanuel, ‘tagged as the mayor of the 1 percent,’ went from an ‘expected coronation’ to ‘an unprecedented runoff’ … What likely animated voters’ desire to oust Emanuel was his attacks on public schools and school teachers … In 2013, the Chicago teachers’ strike became a symbol, as well as a catalyst for other actions, for a national movement – an Education Spring – that has since swept the country and now defines the political debate in education policy … Because 2016 will be a general election drawing from a wider swath of the electorate, support for public education is apt to matter more … Until Democrats are solidly supportive of public education, it is difficult to see how they will effectively counter Republicans.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Schools Becoming The ‘Last Frontier’ For Hungry Kids

USA Today

“The number of low-income children in public schools has been persistent and steadily rising over the past several decades … Such a stark trend has meant more schools are feeding children … More schools provide not just breakfast and lunch but dinner, too … Nationwide, one in five households with children are considered food insecure … More states are providing after-school meals … More schools are opening permanent or mobile food pantries … More than a third of teachers, 37%, buy food more than once a month for students.”
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America Is Criminalizing Black Teachers: Atlanta’s Cheating Scandal And The Racist Underbelly Of Education Reform

Salon

Rutgers University professor Brittney Cooper writes, “Last week, an Atlanta jury convicted 11 teachers and school administrators of racketeering in a system-wide cheating scandal … Scapegoating Black teachers for failing in a system that is designed for Black children, in particular, not to succeed is the real corruption here … Black children have for generations been … disproportionately poor, over-disciplined, and systematically ‘tracked’ out of high-performing classrooms. And yet we expect teachers to work magic in conditions that are set up for failure … Locking up Black women for racketeering when the system couldn’t be bothered to lock up even one of the bankers who gave disproportionate amounts of terrible home loans to Black women leading to a national economic crash… is patently unjust … Nothing is just about making Black women sacrificial lambs of an educational system hellbent on throwing Black children away. Meanwhile, the real racket – privatization and defunding of public schools … gets obscured.”
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At Success Academy Charter Schools, High Scores And Polarizing Tactics

The New York Times

“Though it serves primarily poor, mostly black and Hispanic students, Success [Academy] is a testing dynamo, outscoring schools … Rules are explicit and expectations precise. Students must sit with hands clasped and eyes following the speaker … Incentives are offered, such as candy for good behavior … For those deemed not trying hard enough, there is ‘effort academy,’ which is part detention, part study hall. For teachers, who are not unionized and usually just out of college, 11-hour days are the norm, and each one is under constant monitoring … One consequence of the competitive environment is a high rate of teacher turnover … Former staff members described students in third grade and above wetting themselves during practice tests, either because teachers did not allow them to go to the restroom … or because the students themselves felt so much pressure that they did not want to lose time on the test.”
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These Corporations That Raise Money For Schools Keep 48 Percent For Themselves

Think Progress

“Booster Enterprises, which says it currently hosts Boosterthon events in schools in about 35 states, is one of several firms offering to outsource fundraisers known as ‘fun runs.’ In 16 states, kids are participating in a similar program hosted by an Arizona-based company … Still other schools use … FundRunners … The companies send a team to each school to promote ‘character education,’ fitness, and pledges. They host pep rallies, spend several days getting the kids excited for the fundraiser, and then cheer on the students … And they take a large percentage of the haul … These programs are emblematic of a national move toward more corporate involvement in public education … little more than marketing arrangements that have few benefits for schools … Programs like these fun run companies take up school time for things that are simply not part of the school’s curriculum.”
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Predatory Equity Leads to Subprime Schools

The Huffington Post

The Black Institute’s Bertha Lewis writes, “Financial institutions used to ‘redline’ communities of color, denying us access to credit for purchasing homes or starting businesses. Then they realized we were the perfect target for predatory lending that would eventually make the U.S. economy crash and burn … New York State government has ‘redlined’ poor school districts for decades, shortchanging them billions even after New York State’s highest court ordered it to make restitution. But instead of granting communities of color the ‘credit’ needed to educate children in public school, the predatory equity crowd swooped in with a new option they said would work for us – just like they did with subprime loans … If we allow these same bad actors to continue down the path of expanding charter schools and privatizing public education, then we’re placing the future of our children in the hands of predators.”
Read more …

4/2/2015 – Resistance To Standardized Testing Not Going Away

THIS WEEK: Test Companies Spend Big On Lobbying … Teacher Attrition Costs Billions … Teacher Experience Matters … Competition Doesn’t Improve Education … Wall Street’s Schemes

TOP STORY

Resistance To Standardized Testing Not Going Away

By Jeff Bryant

“What just happened in New York has implications nationwide, as the rollout of new tests in practically every state are prompting widespread opposition … Journalists aren’t describing the resistance well because anger, by it’s very nature, often comes across first as incoherence to those who aren’t yet angry. But make no mistake; it really is ‘something big.’”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Report: Big Education Firms Spend Millions Lobbying For Pro-Testing Policies

The Washington Post

“Corporations that dominate the U.S. standardized testing market spend millions of dollars lobbying state and federal officials … to persuade them to favor policies that include mandated student assessments, helping to fuel a nearly $2 billion annual testing business … Pearson Education … underwrote untold sums on luxury trips for school officials …The company is currently embroiled in a lawsuit in New Mexico for alleged bid rigging when landing an ‘unprecedented’ $1 billion contract for K-12 testing … [Educational Testing Service] ETS lobbied heavily for the introduction of a statewide testing system in California and against a bill requiring test agencies to ‘immediately initiate an investigation’ after complaints on ‘inadequate’ testing conditions … Testing companies have donated to the Foundation for Excellence in Education, founded by former Florida governor Jeb Bush, with Pearson writing three checks totaling at least $125,000 between 2012 and 2014. The foundation is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC.”
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Revolving Door Of Teachers Costs Schools Billions Every Year

NPR

An interview with education professor Richard Ingersoll explains, “There’s a revolving door of teacher turnover that costs school districts upwards of $2.2 billion a year. … Beginning teachers are more likely to drop out. Those from top colleges … are more likely to drop out … Minority teachers are more likely to drop out … One of the main factors is … having say, and being able to have input into the key decisions in the building … something that teachers usually have very little of … Shrinking classroom autonomy is now the biggest dissatisfaction of math teachers nationally… One thing that we’ve found that’s effective is freeing up time for the beginning teachers so that they can meet with other colleagues.”
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New Studies Find That, for Teachers, Experience Really Does Matter

Education Week

“The notion that teachers improve over their first three or so years in the classroom and plateau thereafter is deeply ingrained in K-12 policy discussions … But findings from a handful of recently released studies … suggest the average teacher’s ability to boost student achievement increases for at least the first decade of his or her career – and likely longer … Teachers improved their ability to boost student test scores on average by 40% between their 10th and their 30th year on the job… As teachers gained experience, they were linked to lower rates of student absenteeism. The researchers postulate that more experienced teachers got better at motivating students and in classroom management, resulting in better attendance and fewer infractions.”
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How Do Schools Respond To Competition? Not As You Might Expect.

The Washington Post

“The school-choice movement is built on the philosophy that competition forces schools to improve. But new research on New Orleans – arguably the nation’s most competitive school market – suggests that school leaders are less likely to work on improving academics than to use other tactics in their efforts to attract students. Of the 30 schools examined in the study, leaders at just 10 … said they competed for students by trying to improve their academic programs or operations … Far more schools – 25 – said they competed by marketing their existing programs … 10 schools exercised some sort of student recruiting or screening, even though almost all of them were supposed to be open-enrollment schools where such selection practices were not permitted”
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Wall Street’s New Student Loan Scheme: Subprime Loans Are Coming To Financial Aid

Salon

Jeff Bryant writes, “Education debt is rapidly becoming a cradle to grave omnipresence … With edu-debt levels mounting higher and higher at every turn, cash-strapped parents, municipal governments and education institutions have turned to solutions from Wall Street … An alphabet soup of new financial vehicles – SLABS, CABS, PPPs, ISAs – that’s been created in the edu-debt sphere spells disaster, as Wall Street tightens its control of how – or even whether – the nation educates its future workers and citizens.”
Read more …

3/26/2015 – Revisiting A Progressive Education Agenda

THIS WEEK: Will 9 Billionaires Remake NY Public Schools? … Civil Right Complaints Hit Record High … Zeroing Out Zero Tolerance … Hillary Clinton And Progressive Education … Will Progressives Support Public Schools

TOP STORY

Revisiting A Progressive Education Agenda: What’s Happened Since?

By Jeff Bryant

“Two years since we heard multiple calls for a progressive education agenda based on equity of opportunity … what we see instead … is an education policy landscape mired in controversy and fraught with politics. What went wrong?”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

9 Billionaires Are About To Remake New York’s Public Schools – Here’s Their Story

The Nation

“[New York Governor Andrew] Cuomo declared that as governor he would work to enact long-term measures to ‘break’ public education … A few years ago, such blunt threats against public schools … would have been unthinkable. Yet over the last year, a dark-money charter-school advocacy group, Families for Excellent Schools, smashed almost all lobbying records in Albany and a Super PAC, New Yorkers’ for a balanced Albany poured $4.3 million into six Senate races, helping tip the Senate Republican … Several hedge fund–backed organizations have been laying the groundwork for this maneuver for years, even before Cuomo took office. The current push for education reform in New York is not an expression of the vast majority of New York’s parents and children but the result of a five-year-long billionaire hedge-funders’ campaign to realize their own vision for public schools … The hedge-fund community’s fervent advocacy of the charter-school movement reflects its neoliberal social vision.”
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Civil Rights Complaints To U.S. Department Of Education Reach A Record High

The Washington Post

“Attorneys and investigators in the civil rights office have seen their workloads double since 2007, and the number of unresolved cases mushroom, as complaints have poured in from around the country about students from kindergarten through college facing discrimination on the basis of race, sex and disabilities … Complaints of discrimination to the department have soared … There was no single category of grievance that accounted for the rise in complaints. But a breakdown of agency statistics show that the category of sex discrimination has grown from 391 in 2010 to 2,354 in 2014.”
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Zeroing Out Zero Tolerance

The Atlantic

“Massive districts are rejuvenating the ‘whole-child’ approach integral to what’s known as ‘progressive education’ – a model that was once viewed as incompatible with urban school systems … Many of the country’s schools are a long way off from enjoying the values typical of progressive education … The nation’s schools since 2009 have, on average, reported an annual suspension rate of 10 percent, the highest it’s ever been … In some charter-school networks … nearly a third of students are suspended annually … It turns out that there are plenty of options, and that’s where progressive education steps in … Progressive schools deemphasized testing and discipline, replacing those practices with student-driven, hands-on learning; collaboration among schools and families; and social-emotional well-being … Evidence demonstrating their benefits has been largely anecdotal … But now that large school districts are adopting similar practices, however, clearer evidence is emerging.”
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Hillary Clinton Caught Between Dueling Forces On Education: Teachers And Wealthy Donors

The New York Times

“The last time she ran for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton did not have to take a position on the Common Core, Race to the Top or teacher evaluations in tenure decisions … Now, as she prepares for a likely second run at the White House, Mrs. Clinton … is re-entering the fray … She is being pulled in opposite directions on education. The pressure is from not only the teachers … but also from a group of wealthy and influential Democratic financiers who staunchly support many of the same policies – charter schools and changes to teacher tenure and testing – that the teachers’ unions have resisted … The growing pressure on education points out a deeper problem that Mrs. Clinton will have to contend with repeatedly, at least until the Iowa caucuses: On a number of divisive domestic issues that flared up during the Obama administration – trade pacts, regulation of Wall Street, tax policy – she will face dueling demands from centrists and the liberal base of the Democratic Party.”
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When Will ‘Progressives’ Defend Public Education?

Living In Dialogue

Former public school teacher and public education activist Anthony Cody writes on his personal blog, “This morning I opened my email to find a message from ‘Bold Progressives,’ who exist to rally support for Democratic Party candidates willing to fight for real change … The message was a survey from the ‘Progressive Change Campaign Committee,’ asking if I thought Hillary Clinton should face a primary challenge … There is no mention of K12 education. No mention of the issues confronting public schools, the attempts to privatize, voucherize and charterize our schools. No mention of school closures in African American and Latino neighborhoods. No mention of assaults on teacher unions and due process rights. No mention of the test obsession destroying the quality of education in our schools, leading students to walk out by the thousands. Will we go through another election where Republicans rail at the ‘public school monopoly,’ and Democrats say virtually nothing? … I reached out to the Bold Progressives after posting this, and their representative has responded positively. I invited them to send a representative to the Network for Public Education conference in Chicago in April. There is a lot of common ground to build upon. ”
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3/19/2015 – The Education Spring Goes To College

THIS WEEK: Richer Schools Get More Money … Education Not An Equalizer … Hedge Funders Back Cuomo … NCLB Hasn’t Worked … Bad Republican House Budget

TOP STORY

The Education Spring Goes To College

By Jeff Bryant

” The Education Spring has become an influential force in higher education too. The popular groundswell of grievances with higher education policy differs in some important ways from what’s driving anger in the K-12 community. Particularly egregious is how government disinvestment in higher education has coupled with a predatory loan policy to hike college student debt levels to an unimaginable $1.3 trillion. But the unifying theme is the same – that We the People – not political ideologues, bureaucrats, or corporate profiteers – should be in control of our education destinies.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

In 23 States, Richer School Districts Get More Local Funding Than Poorer Districts

The Washington Post

“In 23 states, state and local governments are together spending less per pupil in the poorest school districts than they are in the most affluent school districts … Nationwide, states and localities are spending an average of 15% less per pupil in the poorest school districts … than they are in the most affluent … Wealthier towns and counties are able to raise more money through taxes to support their schools than poorer localities can … State aid is often not enough to make up the difference Federal spending … is serving as an equalizer … But federal spending was never intended to equalize funding for poor children … It was meant to add more money for students who need more services.”
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Education Is Not Great Equalizer for Black Americans

NBC News

“New research is showing that getting another degree or a higher paying job may do less than believed to make good on the American Dream for families of color. Black Americans with college degrees have less in savings and other assets than white Americans who dropped out of high school … Just as education does not erase wealth divides, racial disparities in savings and assets remain persistent even when black workers earn more. The median black family earning an income in the middle fifth of all wage earners had slightly less accumulated wealth than the median white family earning incomes in the bottom of fifth of earners … Black families with some wealth are often compelled to use those extra dollars make up for longstanding economic gaps … The majority – 7 out of 10 – of African Americans kids born into families in the middle fifth of wage earners will fall out of the middle class as adults.”
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Hedge Fund Executives Give ‘Til It Hurts To Politicians, Especially Cuomo, To Get More Charter Schools

New York Daily News

“Hedge fund executives have unleashed a tsunami of money the past few years aimed at getting New York’s politicians to close more public schools and expand charter schools. They’ve done it through direct political contributions, through huge donations to a web of pro-charter lobbying groups, and through massive TV and radio commercials … Since 2000, 570 hedge fund managers have shelled out nearly $40 million in political contributions in New York State, according to a recent report by Hedge Clippers, a union-backed research group. The single biggest beneficiary has been Andrew Cuomo, who received $4.8 million from them … direct donations don’t tell the full story … The indirect contributions are even more astounding … Cuomo and the Legislature approved up to $2,600 more per pupil for charter school facilities … Now, the governor wants the Legislature to increase the state limit on charter schools.”
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No Child Left Behind: What Standardized Test Scores Reveal About Its Legacy

The Washington Post

Monty Neill, executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing writes, “NCLB provided that the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) should be the primary means for evaluating the success … Here are key findings … The rate of progress on NAEP at grades 4 and 8 was generally faster in the decade before NCLB took effect than since … The slowdown in math was pronounced, especially at grade 4 … Score gains slowed after NCLB for English language learners, while score gaps increased between ELLs and non-ELLs … Scores for students with disabilities flattened or declined… Scores for high school students have stagnated … NCLB’s failure to even raise scores on other standardized exams should be considered in light of widespread evidence of curriculum narrowing and extensive teaching to the test.”
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House Budget, Short on Education Details, Would Lock In Sequester

Education Week

“House Republicans unveiled their fiscal year 2016 budget … The nonbinding spending blueprint would cap discretionary spending for things like federal education programs at sequester level, making it extremely difficult to obtain any of the increases proposed in the president’s budget. And it outlines even steeper cuts for fiscal year 2017 and beyond for a total overall decrease of $759 billion, or 14 percent below the current caps … It asks each committee, including the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to recommend $1 billion in funding cuts for programs from fiscal 2016 through fiscal 2025 … On Monday, the president addressed the funding discrepancy … ‘I can tell you that if the budget maintains sequester-level funding, then we would actually be spending less on pre-K to 12th grade in America’s schools in terms of federal support than we were back in 2000.’”
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3/12/2015 Ending The Testing War

THIS WEEK: Over-Testing In Kindergarten … White Privilege And Resegregation … Blogger Derails NCLB … Charter Schools Aren’t Reform … Teach For America Teachers Don’t Stay

TOP STORY

How We End The War Over Standardized Testing

By Jeff Bryant

“Anyone who grew up in the 1960s remembers our nation’s response to the threat of nuclear war … Today, we’re sliding into a Cold War of a different sort, where earnest proponents of ‘school accountability’ square off against ardent activists who demand freedom from ‘government regulation’ … At a time such as this, when anger is setting in and ideological positions are hardening, it’s good to remember what really did help protect us from the threat of nuclear extinction … it was a dialogue … A policy that encourages trust and collaboration but enforces verification that includes a two-pronged assessment system of student and systemic outcomes could resolve the testing war.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Welcome To Kindergarten. Take This Test. And This One.

Slate

“As test anxiety spread through the upper grades, the more rigorous academic demands trickled down, and kindergarten teachers inherited a new normal. Many states, districts, and schools are starting to evaluate even kindergarten instructors’ performance based partly on their students’ test scores, necessitating more testing in that grad … By June, some Florida teachers will have spent as many as 80 out of 180 school days administering standardized test … Overtesting doesn’t just add up to lost class hours: It has changed the way kindergarten teachers teach … It has become harder to teach core literacy and mathematical concepts through play, since administrators expect to see more formal academic lessons, partly intended to prepare students for tests.”
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The 1 Percent’s White Privilege Con: Elites Hold ‘Conversations’ About Race, While Resegregating Our Schools

Salon

Political science professor Cory Robin writes, “In school, white children are taught to be conscious of race and racism in a way I never was when I was as a kid in the 1970s. Yet they go to schools that are in some respects more segregated now than they were in the 1970s … Instead of confronting social inequality with mass political action and state redistribution, we prefer to educate poor children to wealth … But one need only compare the facilities at the Park Slope school my daughter attends with those of an elementary school in East New York … to see we’re a long way from even that minimal redistribution … The reason our schools are unequal is that our society is unequal.”
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How A Conservative Blogger Helped Derail The House NCLB Rewrite

Education Week

“Efforts to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act hit the skids in the House … So how did that happen? After all, the bill had the support of GOP leadership … This blog post, written by Christel Swasey, a former high school English teacher from Utah, which quickly went viral … called the bill a ‘betrayal’ … Swasey said she’s worried that the bill would force states to stick with the Common Core State Standards, and trample on the rights of private schools, especially religious schools, and homeschoolers. And since the bill keeps the NCLB law’s testing schedule in place, she sees it as passing federal mandates onto states, not getting rid of them entirely … Both the Heritage Action Fund and the Club for Growth came out swinging against the bill, which was likely even more damaging. Still, the blog post seems to have helped fuel the fire.”
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Charter Schools Do Not Equal Education Reform

The Baltimore Sun

Former Philadelphia school superintendent David Hornbeck writes, “I recommended the approval of more than 30 charter schools because I thought it would improve educational opportunity for our 215,000 students. The last 20 years make it clear I was wrong … Charters, on the whole, do not result in significant improvement in student performance … Charter funding is also negatively affecting regular public schools … Charters do not serve students with the greatest challenges … Charters are not substitutes for broader proven reforms … Let’s do what we know works.”
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Most Teach For America Instructors Plan to Flee Teaching

Bloomberg

“More than 87% of TFA teachers say they don’t plan on remaining teachers throughout their careers, compared with 26.3% of non-TFA teachers working in the same subjects, grades, and schools … The risk of turnover is relatively high for the recent grads that become teachers through TFA’s program. A full 25% of them said they would quit teaching after the current school year, compared with only 6.7% of non-TFA teachers. And of those who plan to quit, 42.9% of TFA teachers anticipated leaving education altogether, compared with 6.7% of non-TFA teachers … What makes TFA’s attrition particularly damning is that the organization puts teachers in exactly the types of low-income, under-resourced schools that could benefit from consistent leadership.”
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2/25/2015 – Dumb And Dumber In The House Education Bill

THIS WEEK: Testing Wrong Things … Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School … Problems With Virtual Education … Suspension Rates Too High, Racially Biased … Education ‘Experts’ Aren’t Experts

TOP STORY

Dumb And Dumber In The Republican House Education Bill

By Jeff Bryant

“The bill, HR5 the Student Success Act, was written completely by Republicans, passed through committee without any Democratic support, and has already drawn strong opposition from the Obama administration and others … Should the bill pass, as is predicted, Democrats then must continue to insist that any revision of NCLB must ensure equity and quality rather than austerity and further privatization.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

We’re Testing Children On The Wrong Things

The New York Times Magazine

NPR’s education reporter Anya Kamenetz writes, “Are we measuring what we really want to measure in education? A flood of recent research has supported the idea that creative problem solving, oral and written communication skills, and critical thinking, plus social and emotional factors, including grit, motivation, and the ability to collaborate, are just as important in determining success as traditional academics. All of these are largely outside the scope of most standardized tests, including the new Common Core–aligned tests … So some important things we don’t test because the tests aren’t up to it. Some we could test but don’t bother. And for the things we do test, the tests are actually too small a sample of behavior to make wide-ranging judgments.”
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Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School

Slate

“While learning from a teacher may help children get to a specific answer more quickly, it also makes them less likely to discover new information about a problem and to create a new and unexpected solution … Direct instruction really can limit young children’s learning. Teaching is a very effective way to get children to learn something specific … But it also makes children less likely to discover unexpected information and to draw unexpected conclusions … Adults often assume that most learning is the result of teaching and that exploratory, spontaneous learning is unusual. But actually, spontaneous learning is more fundamental. It’s this kind of learning, in fact, that allows kids to learn from teachers in the first place … It’s more important than ever to give children’s remarkable, spontaneous learning abilities free rein. That means a rich, stable, and safe world, with affectionate and supportive grown-ups, and lots of opportunities for exploration and play. Not school for babies.”
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Virtual Education: Genuine Benefits Or Real-Time Demerits?

The Atlantic

“Proponents, including [Jeb] Bush … argue that conventional learning is holding students back and that virtual education, both in and out of K-12 classrooms, is allowing them to advance at their own rate … The outcomes are hardly positive. In fact, due to the way many virtual courses are structured … the temptation to cheat is almost irresistible. These students not only understand how to get around the system, they also know they can pad their GPAs with As in honors and AP courses … They can take multiple online courses per semester. And they often learn nothing unless the course is so outdated they can’t find the test answers online … This could be just why some states, like New York and New Jersey – which according to Bush’s report received failing grades on various aspects of digital learning – are leery about accepting virtual credits … Other states are backtracking on virtual-education efforts.”
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Suspended Students Lose Millions Of Days Of Instruction While Out Of School

The Washington Post

“Suspension rates dropped for many of the nation’s school districts … but US students still lost about 18 million days of instruction to out-of-school punishments in the 2011-2012 school year… School systems in Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania … showed ‘alarming’ suspension rates of 20% or higher for elementary school children … National suspension rates have not changed in a meaningful way and racial gaps persist … 16% of black students were suspended in 2011-2012, compared with 7% of Hispanic students and 5% of white students.”
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Education ‘Experts’ May Lack Expertise, Study Finds

phys.org

“Prominent interest groups are promoting reform agendas and striving to influence policymakers and public opinion using individuals who have substantial media relations skills but little or no expertise in education … People associated with the American Enterprise Institute were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be cited in education media … Likewise, experts were 1.78 and 1.5 times more likely to be mentioned in blogs if they were affiliated with Cato or the American Enterprise Institute, respectively … Perhaps the most troubling finding was that possession of a doctoral degree was associated with 67% fewer blog citations and 60 % fewer newspaper mentions, and fewer Klout points, which indicates that academic researchers with empirical expertise in education are often far removed from popular and policy conversations.”
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