Education Opportunity Network

Education Opportunity Network -

7/24/2014 – Education ‘Reform’ Loses The Netroots

THIS WEEK: Voters Overwhelmingly Want Pre-K Expansion … Teacher Dropout Crisis … Segregation Feeds Tea Party … Jeb Bush Policies Hit Obstacles … Choice Is About Sorting

TOP STORY

Education ‘Reform’ Loses The Netroots

By Jeff Bryant

“At this year’s Netroots Nation conference … those whose white-hot enthusiasm for presidential politics may be dampened by the inevitability of a Hillary Clinton candidacy, there may be no more promising alternative channel than the raging fight for public education.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Poll: 70 Percent Of Voters Support Federal Preschool Expansion

The Washington Post

“Seven in 10 voters, including 6 in 10 Republicans, support a plan for the federal government to expand quality early childhood programs for low- and middle-income families … State governors and mayors from both political parties have made strides in expanding preschool in recent years, but Obama’s proposal to increase federal funding to help states improve access to preschool has stalled in Congress … On a list of national priorities, voters ranked ‘ensuring children get a strong start’ second only to ‘increasing jobs and economic growth’ and above ‘improving the quality of our public schools’ and ‘reducing the tax burden on families’ … Key groups of swing voters also supported the proposal, including 80% of Hispanics, 75% of moderates and 72% of suburban women.”
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The Teacher Dropout Crisis

NPR

“Roughly half a million U.S. teachers either move or leave the profession each year… This kind of turnover comes at a steep cost … up to $2.2 billion a year … at-risk students suffer the most. Nearly 20% of teachers at high-poverty schools leave every year, a rate 50% higher than at more affluent schools. That’s one of every five teachers, gone by next September … Variety of reasons for the turnover, including low salaries and a lack of support … Most likely to quit are also the least experienced: 40 – 50% of new teachers leave within their first five years on the job.”
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Tea Party Support Linked To Educational Segregation, New Study Shows

Notre Dame News

“Statistical analyses show that even after accounting for many other factors, Tea Party organizations were much more likely to form in counties with high levels of residential segregation based on education levels … College graduates were more likely to indicate support for the Tea Party if they resided in a county characterized by high levels of educational segregation … ‘The commonly held view that individuals and families who are struggling to get by are undeserving of government assistance is reinforced when the highly educated have limited contact with those who have been less fortunate.’”
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Jeb Bush’s Reading Rule Loses Ground

Politico

“It was one of Jeb Bush’s signature initiatives as Florida governor: Require third-graders to repeat the year if they flunked a reading test … Now, political pressure to dilute the policies is building … In states that have already tried Common Core exams, as many as 70% of students failed, raising fears of mass retentions among teachers, parents and children … Studies have shown that retention leads to loss of self-esteem, a decreased feeling of belonging at school and negative effects on college attendance. A Harvard University study found that any positive effects of retention fade out over time. Data from Florida show that about a third of students held back for a year in 2003 never became proficient at reading … Oklahoma Education Association President Linda Hampton said … the union opposes the law and argues that retention can prove ‘detrimental to a child’s academic growth … emphasis our state has placed on a single test, on a single day to determine whether or not our 8- and 9-year-olds are prepared for the next grade level is unfair and disappointing … Education professionals, in partnership with parents, are better equipped to assess a child’s ability to read.’”
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The Big Sort: How Chicago’s School Choice System Is Tracking Kids Into Different High Schools Based On Achievement

The Hechinger Report

“Chicago is trying to expand the number of ‘quality school options’ and offer students a choice of where to go to school … An unintended consequence of the choice system: students of different ability levels are being sorted into separate high schools … The findings … raise questions about whether the city’s school choice system is actually creating better schools, or whether it’s simply sorting certain students out and leaving the weakest learners in separate, struggling schools … New York City and New Orleans see a similar dynamic … High-performing students are like gold in a school. Everybody does better around them – including other high-performing students. And it’s not just about test scores. The biggest predictor of whether a school is safe and orderly is students’ academic achievement. Having top performers makes an entire school easier to run.”
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7/17/2014 – Waking Up To Our Broken Education Policies

THIS WEEK: How Tests Screw Poor Kids … Kids Need To Move … NOLA Choice Program Is A Mess … Schools Need Libraries … Most STEM Don’t Get STEM Jobs

TOP STORY

Waking Up To Our Broken Education Policies

By Jeff Bryant

“Those in prominent news outlets tempted to jump into the fray of the nation’s education debate should be aware they are late to the scene and way behind the narrative proceeding recent events … Despite how the particulars of the debate pivot to issues about content standards, to assessment results, to school choice, to teacher tenure, grievances with inadequate and inequitable funding and lack of democratic control are what’s driving the debate – not teachers’ unions, Diane Ravitch, or the inner dynamics of the Democratic Party.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Why Poor Schools Can’t Win At Standardized Testing

The Atlantic

“Standardized tests are not based on general knowledge … They are based on specific knowledge contained in specific sets of books: the textbooks created by the test makers … Corporations write the tests, grade the tests, and publish the books that students use to prepare for the tests … Any teacher who wants his or her students to pass the tests has to give out books from the Big Three publishers … [But] no one is keeping track of what students need and what they actually have. Another problem is that there’s simply too little money in the education budget … Stop giving standardized tests that are inextricably tied to specific sets of books. At the very least, stop using test scores to evaluate teacher performance without providing the items each teacher needs to do his or her job. Most of all, avoid basing an entire education system on materials so costly that big, urban districts can’t afford to buy them. Until these things change, it will be impossible to raise standardized test scores—despite the best efforts of the teachers and students who will return to school this fall and find no new books waiting for them.”
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Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still In School Today

The Washington Post

“Over the past decade, more and more children are being coded as having attention issues and possibly ADHD … The problem … Children are not nearly moving enough, and it is really starting to become a problem … Having soccer practice once or twice a week is likely not enough movement for the child to develop a strong sensory system … Children are going to class with bodies that are less prepared to learn than ever before. With sensory systems not quite working right, they are asked to sit and pay attention. Children naturally start fidgeting in order to get the movement their body so desperately needs and is not getting enough of … They need hours of play outdoors in order to establish a healthy sensory system and to support higher-level attention and learning in the classroom.”
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Anger, Frustration As Hundreds Of New Orleans Parents Turned Away From Public School Enrollment Center

The Times-Picayune

“New Orleans public school enrollment faltered badly Wednesday when hundreds of parents arrived at the lone resource center to sign up their children – only to be turned away for lack of staff to help them. It was an embarrassing fiasco for an enrollment process that has received national praise and aims to make life easier for families.”
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College, Career And Democracy Ready? Not Without A Trained Librarian

CT News Junkie

Connecticut-based journalist Sarah Darer Littman asks, “Why are we spending so much money on testing while schools that most need functioning libraries don’t have any? … Many previous studies found that ‘regardless of how rich or how poor a community is, students tend to perform better on reading tests where, and when, their library programs are in the hands of endorsed librarians . . . At schools where library programs lose or never had an endorsed librarian, students suffer as a result’ … In the districts that need them most, we are seeing school libraries underfunded or zero funded, and endorsed school librarian hours cut or eliminated.”
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So Much For STEM: Most Science And Math Majors Don’t Work In Those Fields

Vox

“Educators and employers alike will tell you that it’s important to get US students more interested in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and math … [But] people who graduate with STEM degrees by and large don’t work in STEM jobs. Only around 1 in 4 people with what the Census classifies as science and engineering degrees works in a STEM job … To say there is a ‘STEM shortage’ doesn’t really begin to tell you meaningful things about what’s going on in the labor market … Separating jobs out into “STEM” categories may be missing the point.”
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7/9/2014 – Democrats’ Divide On Education

THIS WEEK: Era Of Majority White Students Ends … Little Kids Need Less Structure … Public Support For Education Spending … Secret Of Effective Motivation … College Remediation Rates Distorted

TOP STORY

Democratic Party’s Divide On Education Policy Gets Worse

By Jeff Bryant

“The Democratic Party’s divergence from real progressive values for governing our schools mostly went unnoticed in major media outlets until recently … Now Democratic candidates and their operatives and supporters need to decide which side makes the most sense to ally with.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

School Is Over for the Summer. So Is The Era Of Majority White U.S. Public Schools.

National Journal

“The 2013-14 school year has drawn to a close in most U.S. school districts, and with it the final period in which white students composed a majority of the nation’s K-12 public school population. When schools reopen in August and September, black, Latino, Asian, and Native American students will together make up a narrow majority of the nation’s public school students … As public schools increasingly become institutions serving large numbers of students of color, some states with largely white state legislatures and aging electorates have already proven unwilling to raise taxes or divert needed funds to meet the needs of public schools. School funding and other public resource needs will become increasingly critical as children of color go on to become the majority of the U.S. workforce and total population by 2042.”
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Study: Too Many Structured Activities May Hinder Children’s Executive Functioning

Education Week

” When children spend more time in structured activities, they get worse at working toward goals, making decisions, and regulating their behavior … Instead, kids might learn more when they have the responsibility to decide for themselves what they’re going to do with their time … When children are in control of how they spend their time, they are able to get more practice working toward goals and figuring out what to do next. For instance, the researchers write, a child with a free afternoon ahead of her might decide to read a book. Once she’s finished, she might decide to draw a picture about the book, and then she’ll decide to show the drawing to her family. This child will learn more than another child who completes the same activities, but is given explicit instructions throughout the process.”
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Gauging Public Support For Education Spending

New America Foundation

“Across all programs, inflation-adjusted federal spending on children declined by 13.6% from 2010 to 2014. Education is down 15.1%, and early childhood spending 6.2% over the same time period … Even though we know that investing in kids markedly improves their long-term life outcomes and saves public money, our representatives in Washington have been steadily cutting back on programs that support children … In sum, the data show that: 1) Americans overwhelmingly want us to do more in early childhood, 2) only a small percentage of Americans want us to spend less on education generally, and 3) we’ve been cutting education spending at the federal level over the last five years … A few things going on here. First of all, consider that education is rarely a determinative political issue at the federal level—and it’s only marginally more so at the state level … Second, education polling sometimes captures a conflicted picture of Americans because of the muddled state of American education politics.”
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The Secret Of Effective Motivation

The New York Times

“Whenever a person performs a task well, there are typically both internal and instrumental consequences. A conscientious student learns (internal) and gets good grades (instrumental) … But just because activities can have both internal and instrumental consequences does not mean that the people who thrive in these activities have both internal and instrumental motives … For students uninterested in learning, financial incentives for good attendance or pizza parties for high performance may prompt them to participate, but it may result in less well-educated students … Rendering an activity more attractive by emphasizing both internal and instrumental motives to engage in it is completely understandable, but it may have the unintended effect of weakening the internal motives so essential to success.”
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How College Remediation Rates Are Distorted – And Why

The Washington Post

Award-winning Long Island, NY high school principal Carol Burris writes, ” College remediation rates are used to justify the need for the Common Core … Facts about college remediation are distorted or framed to cause maximum alarm … One think tank created the 40% remediation rate … The 40% then made its way into another think tank’s report, which was picked up by a nameless author who posted it on the Huffington Post. A few years later, in his zeal for supporting the expansion of charter schools in Boston, Duncan further inflates the rate by telling the people of Massachusetts that 40 percent of their graduates need remediation … Remediation is complicated … It is wrong to inflate remediation numbers and then use them to justify everything from charter schools to the Common Core.”
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7/2/2014 – Leaving Educators Off The Education Agenda

THIS WEEK: Gaps Start In Kindergarten … Common Core Support Plummets … Ed-Tech Increases Achievement Gaps … States Falter On School Turnarounds … United States Of Cruelty

TOP STORY

The Cost Of Leaving Educators Off The Education Agenda

By Jeff Bryant

“As too few expectations of the policy wonks in D.C. seem to catch hold at school and classroom levels, what certainly has ‘trickled down’ is the attitude that the voices of teachers don’t matter much … Education policy leaders today make a big to-do about teachers being ‘the most important in-school factor’ in a student’s academic achievement. So what does it say when you take that factor and muzzle it … What you get … is a negative impact on learning.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

The Major Disadvantage Facing Black Students, Even In Kindergarten

The Huffington Post

“A recent analysis from liberal think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI) outlines the severe segregation that exists among kindergarten classrooms … EPI found that while white kindergarteners largely attended classrooms with fellow white students living above the poverty line, black students were much more likely to be in classrooms with low-income peers of color … The phenomenon not only denies American students the intangible benefits of learning in more integrated classrooms, but it perpetuates the achievement gap between students of different racial and class backgrounds before they barely have had an opportunity to start their educations … ‘Research makes fairly clear that racial integration – enabling white students to learn together with black and Hispanic students, and vice versa – benefits all student groups,’ the EPI report, written by researchers Emma Garcia and Elaine Weiss, states.”
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Common Core Support Among Those With School-Age Kids Plummets

Rasmussen

“Support for Common Core among Americans with school-age children has fallen dramatically … A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 34% of American Adults with children of elementary or secondary school age now favor requiring all schools nationwide to meet the same Common Core education standards. That’s an 18-point drop from 52% in early November of last year … 47% oppose the imposition of the national standards, compared to 32% in the previous survey. Little changed are the 19% who are undecided.”
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Educational Technology Isn’t Leveling The Playing Field

The Hechinger Report

“While technology has often been hailed as the great equalizer of educational opportunity, a growing body of evidence indicates that in many cases, tech is actually having the opposite effect: it is increasing the gap between rich and poor, between whites and minorities, and between the school-ready and the less-prepared … Granted access to technology, affluent kids and poor kids use tech differently. They select different programs and features, engage in different types of mental activity, and come away with different kinds of knowledge and experience … As with books and reading, the most knowledgeable, most experienced, and most supported students are those best positioned to use computers to leap further ahead … This may stem in part from the influence of adults on children’s computer activities … These different patterns of use had quantifiable effects on the children’s learning … A computer in the hands of a disadvantaged child is in an important sense not the same thing as a computer in the hands of a child of privilege.”
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NCLB Waiver States Struggle To Turn Around Low-Performing Schools

Education Week

“According to an Education Week analysis of U.S. Department of Education monitoring reports … 17 out of 34 waiver states for which waiver monitoring reports have been released by the Education Department were cited for not following through on their plans for fixing up ‘priority’ schools – those bottom 5% of performers … 17 states were hit for not doing enough to help ‘focus’ schools, which are an additional 10% of troubled schools, including those with persistent achievement gaps … 9 states for not doing enough to improve student achievement at other Title I schools (those that get federal money for serving poor kids) … Where is implementation going well? Standards and assessments.”
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The United States Of Cruelty

Esquire

Columnist Charles Pierce writes, “There is a new kind of systematized cruelty in our daily lives, in how we relate to each other, and in how we treat our fellow citizens, and, therefore, there is a new kind of systematized cruelty in our politics as well … There is something different abroad in the politics now, perhaps because we are in the middle of an era of scarcity and because we have invested ourselves in a timid culture of austerity and doubt. The system seems too full now of opportunities to grind and to bully … In our politics, we have become masters of camouflage. We practice fiscal cruelty and call it an economy. We practice legal cruelty and call it justice. We practice environmental cruelty and call it opportunity. We practice vicarious cruelty and call it entertainment. We practice rhetorical cruelty and call it debate … The time for camouflage is over. Cruelty is cruelty. It should be recognized as a fundamental heresy against the political commonwealth and wrung out of all its institutions. That is the only way out.”
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6/25/2014 – Stopping Charter School Corruption

THIS WEEK: Shocking Treatment Of School Kids … Case Against School Closures … What Closes Opportunity Gaps … D.C. Halts Test-Based Teacher Evaluation … State Regulators Go Easy On For-Profit Colleges

TOP STORY

Will Anyone Stop Charter School Corruption?

By Jeff Bryant

“Real evidence of ‘the good charters’ remains mostly anecdotal, as financial corruption and poor education results from ‘bad ones’ continue to mount with every passing month … Recent reports from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida reveal a cavalcade of corruption … Yet in the meantime, at the urging of charter school advocates and others promoting ‘school choice,’ lawmakers around the country are proposing and enacting new policies to feed more children into the charter chain pipeline.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Violent And Legal: The Shocking Ways School Kids Are Being Pinned Down, Isolated Against Their Will

Propublica

“Mental-health facilities and other institutions have worked to curtail the practice of physically restraining children or isolating them in rooms against their will. Indeed, federal rules restrict those practices … But such limits don’t apply to public schools … The practices … were used more than 267,000 times nationwide in the 2012 school year … Three-quarters of the students restrained had physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities. Children have gotten head injuries, bloody noses, broken bones and worse while being restrained or tied down … At least 20 children nationwide have reportedly died while being restrained or isolated … Often, parents remain unaware their child has been restrained or put in a scream room … Montgomery County Public Schools in Virginia … stopped using restraints and seclusion more than two decades ago … The district uses an approach called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports.”
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Report Calls For Moratorium On Chicago School Closures

Education Week

“A new report from the University of Illinois, Chicago, calls for a moratorium on school closures, turnarounds, and the expansion of charter schools in the city, citing the disruptive nature and harm those actions cause families and the lack of evidence that they have improved education … Parents felt the closures negatively impacted their children and the new schools to which they were sent were not an improvement; they felt excluded from the decisions to close the schools; and the closures left a deep distrust between parents and the Chicago Public Schools … School closures – or even plans to do so – are hot topics in urban school districts, from Philadelphia to Newark, as they struggle to address the problems confronting them.”
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Report: “Student-Centered Schools” Close Opportunity Gap

EdSource

“Personalized instruction, high expectations, and hands-on and group learning experiences are helping to close the achievement gap in four Northern California schools … Such ‘student-centered’ practices improved the outcomes for African-American and Latino students at two district schools and two district-approved independent charter schools… ‘The numbers are compelling,’ said Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University professor and SCOPE faculty director, in published comments about the report. ‘Students in the study schools showed greater achievement than their peers, had higher graduation rates, were better prepared for college and showed greater persistence in college.’”
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D.C. Dumping Test Scores From Its Teacher Evaluations

Associated Press via The Huffington Post

“The District of Columbia public school system, one of the first in the country to evaluate teachers using student test scores, announced Thursday that it would suspend the practice while students adjust to new tests based on Common Core standards … Officials are concerned it wouldn’t be fair to use the new tests until a baseline is established and any complications are worked out. The District has fired hundreds of teachers under the system, which was put in place by … Michelle Rhee … Last week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined the two largest teachers’ unions in calling for a temporary halt to evaluating teachers based on Common Core tests.”
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State Regulators Going Easy On For-Profit Colleges, Consumer Group Says

The Hechinger Report

“While state law-enforcement authorities are cracking down on abuses by private, for-profit colleges and universities, state regulators are doing little to prevent those abuses in the first place, a new report contends … The report, by the National Consumer Law Center, or NCLC, says … most [regulators] ‘continue to neglect their critical oversight and consumer protection role.’ There’s no regulation at all in most states of for-profit colleges that offer only online education … Attorneys general in at least 32 states are investigating complaints that for-profit colleges and universities use misleading marketing and leave their students with high debt. Fourteen states have reached the stage of issuing subpoenas.”
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6/19/2014 – Dirty Secret In The Education Wars

THIS WEEK: Breaking The School-To-Prison Pipeline … Business Leaders Don’t Know Education … Schools Hit In Recovery … Tests Are For Profits … How To Stop College Debt

TOP STORY

Dirty Secret In The Education Wars: Money Matters

By Jeff Bryant

“The dirty, little secret in America’s education wars is that spending more money on schools is what most people really want – and for good reason, because it really tends to help. Yet what we’ve been seeing in a ‘reform’ agenda that has dominated the debate is an emphasis on anything else but.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Breaking The School-To-Prison Pipeline: Rethinking ‘Zero Tolerance’

The American Prospect

“The first federal measure to implement ‘zero tolerance’ in schools was the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 … Districts expanded on Congress’s obligatory punishments to include possession of drugs and alcohol; many began to require one- or ten-day suspensions for minor offenses like cursing or lying to an administrator. The suspension rate soared 87 percent between 1973 and 2006 … Even as most school districts across the country were cracking down in the mid-1990s, a different approach was being tried in Minnesota … As Minnesota’s pilots showed promising results, social-justice groups started pushing for restorative justice … Restorative-justice programs don’t cost a lot to implement … but they do require schools to have sufficient staff. The support staff on which the programs rely – counselors, assistant principals, restorative-justice coordinators – are often the first to go when budget cuts hit.”
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Business Leaders Lack Knowledge About K-12, Superintendents Say

Education Week

“Just 3% of school superintendents rate business leaders as ‘well-informed’ about public education, and 14% of the survey respondents say corporate leaders are actually misinformed … 95% of superintendents say that businesses are involved in their schools, according to the survey. By a nearly 3-to-1 margin, business efforts to donate money and goods and to support individual students outnumbered deeper engagement … 90% of superintendents who responded to the nationally representative survey believe that business’ engagement leads to a positive impact on education – although only 10% say the impact of that involvement has been evaluated.”
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Public Schools Are Hurting More in the Recovery Than in the Recession

FiveThirtyEight

“The slow economic recovery is taking a toll on the nation’s public schools… And school districts around the country have used them to hire thousands of foreign teachers … Total school funding fell in 2012 for the first time since 1977 … Adjusting for inflation and growth in student enrollment, spending fell every year from 2010 to 2012, even as costs for health care, pension plans, and special education programs continued to rise faster than inflation … Nearly 90 percent of big-city school districts spent less per student in 2012 than when the recession ended in 2009… The cuts are increasingly hitting classrooms directly.”
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Why Pearson Tests Our Kids

The Huffington Post

Education blogger Alan Singer writes, “‘Pearson Personalized Learning’ is not about supporting schools; it is about replacing them. And it is about replacing them without any evidence that their products work or any concern for the impact of their products on schools and student learning … Everything is actually organized around the Pearson goal of ‘finding business models for affordable schools’ … If you want to know how Pearson plans to operate, you have to look at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm … The main job of McKinsey is to help companies maintain profitability by closing subsidies, selling assets, shifting production, and laying off workers … A fair question to ask is, do we want the business model that led to the Eron scam and these other corporate disasters employed in operating American schools?”
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College Is Ruining Lives! How To Stop Student Debt’s Paralyzing Spiral

Salon

“Wrangling over student loans and interest rates and refinancing obscures the long-term vision – public colleges and universities should be free to attend. Or at least as close to free as possible … This idea is not far-fetched … That’s the long-term vision. In the meantime, there’s a seemingly small fix that would significantly relieve student debt burdens and reduce defaults: eliminating the student loan servicer middleman … There is no real need to subcontract out monthly payment collection of direct student loans to servicers … The Education Department’s contracts with student loan servicers expire this month. Instead of renegotiating the terms of the contract, another one of the president’s executive orders … the government should cancel its contracts with the company formerly known as Sallie Mae, now called Navient.”
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6/11/2014 – Standards Scolds Get Us Nowhere

THIS WEEK: Education Is World’s #1 Priority … Student Engagement In Schools … More Trafficking Of Teachers … Parents Rebel Against Big Data … Why College Tuitions Increase

TOP STORY

Standards Scolds Are Getting Us Nowhere

By Jeff Bryant

“Support for the Common Core is eroding away, and you have to wonder what the Administration and a significant wing of the education establishment are going to be left with … The Obama administration and others who claim to be advocates for public schools do themselves and their cause no favor by listening to the standards scolds and taking the hardline on enforcing a policy that would never have led to the progress that was promised in the first place … What’s needed instead is a pivot to the issue of education inequality.’”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

U.N. Global Survey: Education Top Priority Despite Wealth

MSNBC

“Education is a top priority among developed and third-world nations alike, beating political freedoms and gender equality, according to a new global poll. Of the more than 2 million people who responded to the “My World” survey, a United Nations project, two out of three identified education as their top priority. Topping the list of other priorities was better healthcare and an honest and responsive government … ‘Education has consistently been a top issue for people around the world, no matter their country, sex, age or socioeconomic status … education is a key driver for development issues,’ said Corinne Woods, director of the UN Millennium Campaign … The survey is an ongoing project using crowdsourcing to better understand global development issues and trends.”
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More Than Half Of Students ‘Engaged’ In School, Says Poll

Education Week

“School leaders should not neglect the social and emotional factors that help students thrive, and they should empower teachers so that they are more engaged and effective in the classroom, says the “State of America’s Schools” report, a synthesis of polling data and research from the international Gallup organization … A broad focus on testing and new standards can lead schools to neglect the individualized social and emotional needs of students, the report’s authors say … Emotional engagement at school is the noncognitive factor that most directly correlates with academic achievement … A 1-percentage-point increase in a student’s score on the engagement index was associated with a 6-point increase in reading achievement and an 8-point increase in math achievement scores … Gallup recommends that principals address teacher engagement to help students succeed … The share of workers described as ‘not engaged’ among teachers, however, was slightly larger than it was for the general workforce … Among all occupations tracked in the survey, teachers were the least likely to say that their opinions counted at work.”
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School District’s Use of Worker Visa Program Draws Scrutiny

The Wall Street Journal

“The H-1B visa program allows employers to hire skilled foreigners for hard-to-fill positions … And school districts around the country have used them to hire thousands of foreign teachers … Since 2001, the U.S. Department of Labor has found more than 2,000 H-1B violations by individual schools, districts or boards … In Garland, [Texas] … foreign recruits had been hired not to increase the ranks of Spanish-speaking teachers, as intended, but instead … to enrich a rogue district executive and his associates, who charged immigrants hefty fees for legal and other services … Many of the foreign teachers hired in Garland obtained the promised green card, even as they were allegedly tricked out of thousands of dollars … Employers sponsoring a foreign worker for a green card must prove no Americans are qualified for the job.”
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Big Brother: Meet the Parents

Politico

” A months-long review by POLITICO of student privacy issues, including dozens of interviews, found the parent privacy lobby gaining momentum … The amateur activists have already claimed one trophy, torpedoing a privately run, $100 million database … Now, parents are rallying against another perceived threat: huge state databases … In the past five months, 14 states have enacted stricter student privacy protections … All told, at least 105 student privacy bills were introduced this year in 35 states … The POLITICO review found ed tech entrepreneurs and school reformers both bewildered by and anxious about the backlash – and struggling to craft a response.”
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Colleges Are Full Of It: Behind The Three-Decade Scheme To Raise Tuition, Bankrupt Generations, And Hypnotize The Media

Salon

“The price of a year at college has increased by more than 1,200% over the last 30 years… Beginning in the ’80s, university administrators … blamed utility bills … libraries … professors… government regulations … society … Those who wrote about the higher ed price problem kept expecting the Invisible Hand to assert itself and straighten this thing out … Democrats today worship education, while Republicans today worship the market, neither of which faith has brought us close to a solution … The tuition price spiral is part of the larger history of inequality … That is the offer our ever-more expensive colleges extend to their students: in a world of rich and poor, the only choice before you is whether or not you intend to purchase a place among the haves.”
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6/4/2014 – School Discipline Reform

THIS WEEK: Retention Harms Third Graders … Accountability Without Tests … Trafficking Teachers … Teachers Burn Their Evaluations … Place-Based Higher Ed Exclusion

TOP STORY

School Discipline Reform: A Model For Bottom-Up Improvement

By Jeff Bryant

The new report School Discipline Consensus Report “is a massive catalog of promising strategies for reforming school discipline policies … Praising the report is worthy for sure, but it may be even more important to recognize how the new direction in policy came about … Nowhere in any of these efforts do you see the usual suspects in what is normally referred to as the ‘education reform movement.’”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Holding Kids Back Doesn’t Help Them

Education Week

“In 2012, 13 states adopted laws targeting early reading achievement, many of which require schools to hold back elementary school students based on reading assessments. At least 10 other states have considered or are considering similar laws … A majority of peer-reviewed studies over the past 30 years have demonstrated that holding students back yields little or no long-term academic benefits and can actually be harmful to students. When improvements in achievement are linked to retention, they are not usually sustained beyond a few years, and there is some evidence for negative effects on self-esteem and emotional well-being … Retention does not help most children who have fallen behind, primarily because they are exposed to the same material in the same way that didn’t work for them the first time around. When a strategy fails to work, the solution is not to do it again; it is to change the strategy. Happily, there are more effective and less expensive alternatives.”
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In Kentucky, Moving Beyond Dependence On Tests

NPR

“Kentucky was the first state in the nation to adopt the Common Core and the tests that align with it. This spring, the 1,700-student Danville district thinks it’s found a better way … The entire curriculum at this school has been redesigned around interdisciplinary projects, which take several weeks to complete … Performance assessment has had a small, passionate group of supporters going back decades, especially among self-described progressive educators … These approaches allow students to follow their own interests and lean into their strengths … They address skills like presentation, communication, and teamwork that are common in the workplace but not part of most traditional schooling – or state-mandated testing … Supporters see it as an antidote that can be rigorous and address 21st century skills while also engaging students.”
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Trafficked Teachers: Neoliberalism’s Latest Labor Source

In These Times

“Researchers estimate that anywhere from 14,000 to 20,000 teachers, imported on temporary guest worker visas, teach in American public schools nationwide … School districts frequently justify hiring lower-paid immigrants by pointing to teacher shortages … an inevitable result of the austerity measures pushed through on a federal, state, and local level … Newly laid-off instructors are left to languish while their former employers employ underpaid replacements to fill the gaps … The idea that new teachers should be imported from halfway around the world for yearlong stints, knowing no background about the communities they are entering and the content relevant to them, is only justified if the teacher is reduced to an instrument of standardized information transmission … The phenomenon of teacher trafficking, then, doesn’t rest entirely on recruiters’ mercenary tendencies or districts’ drive to cheapen their labor. It also rests on the larger neoliberal conception of workers. In this case, teachers become moveable parts.”
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Taos Teachers Burn Their Evaluations

KRQE News 13

“Some Taos teachers say their profession is being stomped on, citing a laundry list of issues surrounding teacher evaluations. They argue the scores should factor in growth, they say they’re not even testing students on the curriculum they’re teaching and the test scores they’re basing much of the evaluations on are from last year. It’s why they decided to take a stand. After sending students off for summer break, a group of elementary school teachers in Taos received their evaluations. Then they burned them. ‘It was very freeing. It was a way for us to show that we’re not going to stand for this anymore … Our students are much more than a once-a-year pencil and bubble test sheet.’”
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Redlining Education: How Universities Exclude Students Based On Where They Live

Alternet

“Selective schools begin excluding achievers in lower-opportunity places through their recruitment process … A school with an SAT-only lens would miss more than half of the highest-ability students in Alabama and Michigan. Geographic bias continues with outreach … They focus on parts of the country with small numbers of low-income achievers and neglect regions with a lot more of them … They look for low-income students where the college is located rather than where these students can be found in large numbers … Admissions officers spend much time reaching out to … high schools that have already been cherry-picked by their competitors, contributing to the perception that the pool of disadvantaged achievers is miniscule while doing little to increase the college-attending behavior of strivers who live elsewhere … If a selective school is sincere about achieving socioeconomic diversity, then it must recruit differently to find the many poor achievers that do exist.”
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5/28/2014 – Education Accountability We Can Believe In

THIS WEEK: Boosting School Funding Erases Graduation Gap … Education’s New Jim Crow … Lawmakers Clueless On Charter Schools … Resistance To Standardized Tests … Costs Of Closing EdTech Gap

TOP STORY

Education Accountability We Can Believe In

By Jeff Bryant

“For years, education policy at nearly every level has been obsessed with an outcomes-only focus – namely, scores on standardized tests – with less and less emphasis placed on the inputs into our children’s schooling … The results have been not only detrimental to children and schools, they haven’t produced much in the way of better outcomes … Surely it’s time for alternatives to this mindless direction, and fortunately, such alternatives are being proposed from multiple sources. But are leaders paying attention?”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Boosting School Funding 20 Percent Erased The Graduation Gap Between Rich And Poor Students

Vox.com

“Spending more money on educating children in poor districts can dramatically change the trajectory of those children’s lives … Additional money spent educating a child from a poor family made that child more likely to graduate high school, less likely to fall into poverty as an adult and more likely to complete an additional year of education … On some measures, such as the high school graduation rate, the gains from a 20% boost in funding at all levels of education were enough to entirely erase the gap between poor students and students from wealthier families … The effects held even when controlling for the impact of other social programs.”
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Are School Closings The ‘New Jim Crow’? Activists File Civil Rights Complaints.

The Washington Post

“Complaints sent to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and the Justice Department, charge that students of color from Newark, Chicago and New Orleans have been disproportionately affected by school closures and charter-school expansions … Shuttered schools have been replaced by public charter schools, which are funded by taxpayers but are privately operated … Activists said local and state governments neglected and starved the neighborhood schools of resources, guaranteeing their poor quality. They argue that the charter schools that opened as replacements generally were not academically better. Meanwhile, the shuttering of neighborhood schools has damaged African American communities … Said Karran Harper Royal, a New Orleans parent and a public education advocate. ‘Most African American parents in New Orleans don’t have the choice of neighborhood schools, unlike their white counterparts.’”
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Despite Shocking Reports Of Fraud At Charter Schools, Lawmakers Miss Opportunity To Increase Oversight

The Nation

“Lawmakers in the House largely missed an opportunity to strengthen oversight of charter schools, passing a bill to encourage charter school growth by boosting federal funding without including several amendments that were offered to increase transparency and accountability. The bill … increases federal funding for charters from $250 million to $300 million … The fact that Democrats did not rally around bids for better oversight indicates how murky the party’s education platform has grown … ‘Why is it that we think this is such a valid method of instruction and structure that we are willing to invest nine figures worth of federal money in those programs when we’re starving programs like Title 1 and IDEA?’ asked Representative Tim Bishop of New York.”
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The Gathering Resistance to Standardized Tests

Rethinking Schools

“In the wake of a decade-long barrage of standardized tests unleashed by No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now the Common Core, a movement of resistance has emerged around the country in the last year … In what came to be known as ‘Education Spring’ … More affluent, predominantly white activists will need to develop an anti-racist understanding of the movement against standardized testing and the barriers that communities of color face to joining – including the very real fear from parents of color that their children’s schools will be shut down if they don’t encourage them to score well on the tests … Not only do these tests narrow the curriculum, kill creativity, and degrade the quality of education for everyone, they also funnel black and brown youth into prison in unprecedented numbers … A multiracial fightback against the testing industrial complex … has the potential to change the terms of the education reform debate.”
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How Can Schools Close The Technology Gap And How Much Will It Cost?

The Hechinger Report

“Reaching the goal of putting every teacher and student on an Internet device, and making sure it can actually connect to the Internet, will require a major financial investment … High-poverty urban and rural districts … will likely require significant help from the federal government because their budgets tend to rely more on federal funding than on state aid and local property taxes. But given the strain on school budgets in recent years, experts say middle-income districts also need help … A survey … found that only 2.3% of responding districts had wireless … 93% said the current E-rate funding didn’t fully meet their needs. 18% said they’d applied for money to fund internal systems and were rejected. 37% said they didn’t bother, although they needed the money… Solving the hardware problems by getting the broadband and devices to schools is just the first step in closing the technology gap. Once schools are wired and teachers and students have devices in hand, next they have to learn how to use them effectively.”
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5/13/2014 – Who Betrayed Brown?

THIS WEEK: Scale Pre-K Legislation … Teaching Grit Is Wrong … Digital Reading Harms Comprehension … Pisa Harms Education … Deep Learning

TOP STORY

Who Betrayed The Legacy Of Brown V. Board?

By Jeff Bryant

“60 years after Brown v. Board, what passes for advancements in civil rights is often grand gestures of ‘progress’ … that amount to empty symbolism, while more direct harm is done to minority school children every day … To get unstuck from the racists policies governing school access and resources, some have suggested we change the focus to income instead … But today’s political leaders are quick to follow a policy that not only retreats on racial equity and accomplishes very little to nothing to advance achievement for the majority of students.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

We Can Scale High-Quality Public Pre-K – Can We Scale Effective Legislating?

Ed Central

At the blog of the New America Foundation, Conor P. Williams writes, “While skeptics have stymied federal action by arguing that high-quality pre-K programs are too difficult to scale beyond intense, “boutique” pre-K programs like the famous Perry Project, officials in Boston, Oklahoma, and Washington, D.C. (among other places) have gone ahead and expanded their programs anyway … Analysis of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s program, for instance, showed academic benefits through third grade (and further research is planned to check for impacts at eighth grade). The effects were particularly strong for the math scores of boys and students who qualified for federal free- and reduced- price lunch. The results are similarly good in Boston. The study found that pre-K helped all children, but was particularly helpful in several cases. It ‘closed the school readiness gap among poor and non-poor children in mathematics,’ and eliminated early reading and math gaps between Latino and White children … At this point, we have more than enough evidence that pre-K programs can be effectively scaled … What policy folks need now, though, is to figure out how to scale effective legislating.”
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Teaching Kids ‘Grit’ Is All The Rage. Here’s What’s Wrong With It.

The New Republic

“Inspired by the field of positive psychology, character education at KIPP focuses on seven character strengths … There are three major problems with the new character education. The first is that we do not know how to teach character. The second is that character-based education is untethered from any conception of morality. And lastly, this mode of education drastically constricts the overall purpose of education … Gone are any traditional concerns with good and evil or citizenship and the commonweal. Gone, too, the impetus to bring youngsters into the fold of a community that is larger than themselves.”
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Digital Reading Poses Learning Challenges for Students

Education Week

“Comprehension may suffer when students read on the digital devices now flooding into classrooms, an emerging body of research suggests … Schools have experienced a huge influx of digital learning tools in recent years, with nearly 1 in 3 public and private school students in the United States now using a school-issued mobile computing device … Researchers now say that while many digital texts do a good job of motivating and engaging young people, such texts also pose a number of problems … Researchers have documented students’ struggles with comprehension when reading Internet-based texts on computers, although the literature on how reading e-books on computers is inconclusive. And while similar research on mobile devices is just emerging, there are worrisome signs … While acknowledging the promise of the new digital technologies, researchers say the limited knowledge of how digital reading affects comprehension should warrant a cautious approach.”
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OECD And Pisa Tests Are Damaging Education Worldwide – Academics

The Guardian

Prominent scholars from around the world write, “We are frankly concerned about the negative consequences of the Pisa rankings … Pisa has contributed to an escalation in such testing and a dramatically increased reliance on quantitative measures … has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades … takes attention away from the less measurable or immeasurable educational objectives … is naturally biased in favour of the economic role of public [state] schools … harms our children and impoverishes our classrooms.”
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Deep Learning

Academe Magazine

A new study concludes, “‘If graduates recalled having a professor who cared about them as a person, made them excited about learning, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams, their odds of being engaged at work more than doubled, as did their odds of thriving in all aspects of their well-being’ … Education, as we all should know, cannot be reduced to ‘outcomes’ or measurements. Yet it is ‘outcomes’ and ‘assessment’ that have become the rallying cries of state governments, boards of trustees, and accrediting bodies nationwide. They are reducing education to training and making it a sterile and boring task–simply because they cannot understand the unquantifiable and/or are unwilling to trust in it … Many of us members of American faculties have been advocating this sort of discussion for decades, getting nowhere as corporate ideas of vertical management have seeped into education instead.”
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