Education Opportunity Network

Education Opportunity Network -

7/2/2015 – Making It Work For American Families

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

TOP STORY

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

By Jeff Bryant

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

Report: Education Media Coverage More About Sports Than Policy

Education News

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

Raw Story

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

The New York Times

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

Associated Press via ABC News

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

The Atlantic

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

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

TOP STORY

Lessons To Be Learned From New Orleans Style Education Reform

By Jeff Bryant

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

Walton Foundation-Funded Charter Schools Marred By Fiscal Mismanagement

Alternet

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

Education Week

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

The Washington Post

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

Live Science

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

Center On Budget And Policy Priorities

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

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

TOP STORY

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

By Jeff Bryant

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

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

The Washington Post

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

The National Education Association

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

Education Week

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

The Washington Post

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

The New York Times

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

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

TOP STORY

Education Policy Descends Into A Sad Proxy Battle

By Jeff Bryant

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

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

The Washington Post

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

NPR

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

Aljazeera America

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

US New & World Report

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

Education Week

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

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

TOP STORY

Dumb Arguments About The Common Core Distract From What Matters Most

By Jeff Bryant

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

DC Civil Rights Organizations Fail To Represent Education Civil Rights Agenda

The Hill

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

Associated Press Via US New And World Report

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

NPR

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

Politico

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

Inside Higher Ed

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

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

TOP STORY

Education Makes The Progressive Punchlist

By Jeff Bryant

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

The States Where Parents Spend The Most On Child Care

The Washington Post

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

Education Week

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

Tampa Bay Times

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

The Washington Post

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

Campaign For America’s Future

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

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.”
Read more …

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.’”
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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.”
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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.”
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