Education Opportunity Network

Education Opportunity Network -

3/26/2015 – Revisiting A Progressive Education Agenda

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

TOP STORY

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

By Jeff Bryant

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

NEWS AND VIEWS

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

The Nation

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

Civil Rights Complaints To U.S. Department Of Education Reach A Record High

The Washington Post

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

Zeroing Out Zero Tolerance

The Atlantic

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

Hillary Clinton Caught Between Dueling Forces On Education: Teachers And Wealthy Donors

The New York Times

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

When Will ‘Progressives’ Defend Public Education?

Living In Dialogue

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

3/19/2015 – The Education Spring Goes To College

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

TOP STORY

The Education Spring Goes To College

By Jeff Bryant

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

NEWS AND VIEWS

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

The Washington Post

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

Education Is Not Great Equalizer for Black Americans

NBC News

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

Hedge Fund Executives Give ‘Til It Hurts To Politicians, Especially Cuomo, To Get More Charter Schools

New York Daily News

“Hedge fund executives have unleashed a tsunami of money the past few years aimed at getting New York’s politicians to close more public schools and expand charter schools. They’ve done it through direct political contributions, through huge donations to a web of pro-charter lobbying groups, and through massive TV and radio commercials … Since 2000, 570 hedge fund managers have shelled out nearly $40 million in political contributions in New York State, according to a recent report by Hedge Clippers, a union-backed research group. The single biggest beneficiary has been Andrew Cuomo, who received $4.8 million from them … direct donations don’t tell the full story … The indirect contributions are even more astounding … Cuomo and the Legislature approved up to $2,600 more per pupil for charter school facilities … Now, the governor wants the Legislature to increase the state limit on charter schools.”
Read more …

No Child Left Behind: What Standardized Test Scores Reveal About Its Legacy

The Washington Post

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

House Budget, Short on Education Details, Would Lock In Sequester

Education Week

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

3/12/2015 Ending The Testing War

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

TOP STORY

How We End The War Over Standardized Testing

By Jeff Bryant

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

NEWS AND VIEWS

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

Slate

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

The 1 Percent’s White Privilege Con: Elites Hold ‘Conversations’ About Race, While Resegregating Our Schools

Salon

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

How A Conservative Blogger Helped Derail The House NCLB Rewrite

Education Week

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

Charter Schools Do Not Equal Education Reform

The Baltimore Sun

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

Most Teach For America Instructors Plan to Flee Teaching

Bloomberg

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

2/25/2015 – Dumb And Dumber In The House Education Bill

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

TOP STORY

Dumb And Dumber In The Republican House Education Bill

By Jeff Bryant

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

NEWS AND VIEWS

We’re Testing Children On The Wrong Things

The New York Times Magazine

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

Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School

Slate

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

Virtual Education: Genuine Benefits Or Real-Time Demerits?

The Atlantic

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

Suspended Students Lose Millions Of Days Of Instruction While Out Of School

The Washington Post

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

Education ‘Experts’ May Lack Expertise, Study Finds

phys.org

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

2/19/2015 – Testing Isn’t Helping

THIS WEEK: Young Black Males In Crisis … Scott Walker’s Bad Priorities … Charter Schools’ Low Performance … NCLB’s Test-Based Reforms Failed … Student Loan Defaults Rise

TOP STORY

Memo To Civil Rights Activists: Testing Isn’t Helping

By Jeff Bryant

“Is forcing every child to take annual standardized tests in reading and math a civil rights issue? That certainly seems to be one of the questions most in consideration in Washington, DC, since deliberations began on how to rewrite the federal government’s most significant education policy No Child Left Behind … However, the civil rights argument for The Big Annual Test continues to devolve into circular reasoning: Justifications for the tests are based exclusively on what the tests produce – that we need to test every poor black and brown child every year to see what their test scores are. We know what to do when we’re going in circles. Change directions.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

In The Nation’s Capital, Fewer Than Half Of Black Males Graduate From High School

Mother Jones

“A new report on the state of black youth in the public schools, looks at suspension and graduation rates and points to some alarming trends … 15% of black males nationwide have been suspended from school, versus only 5% of white boys … Suspensions increase the likelihood of students dropping out, and many end up in the criminal justice system … Only 59% of black males graduate from high school, versus 80% of white males. The worst rates were found in Washington, DC, and in Nevada.”
Read more …

WI Gov Walker Budget Cuts $300 Million From UW, Sets Aside $220 Million For NBA Stadium

National Education Association

“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker revealed his priorities this month when he announced a massive $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin (UW) system – and a $220 million donation of public funds to the Milwaukee Bucks to build a new basketball arena … The cuts are ‘way too big’ … at UW-Madison alone, they would equal 650 faculty positions or 1,083 staff positions – or the total budgets of five smaller colleges within UW-Madison … In Maine, where Walker’s cohort Gov. Paul LePage cut support for the University of Maine system, the University of Southern Maine responded this year by eliminating its geoscience and applied medicine programs, as well as New England studies, the classics, and 10 others. More than 50 faculty – basically 1 out of every 5 or 6 – are gone.”
Read more …

Charter Schools Struggling To Meet Academic Growth

StarTribune

“Students in most Minnesota charter schools are failing to hit learning targets and are not achieving adequate academic growth … The gulf between the academic success of its white and minority students widened at nearly two-thirds of those schools last year. Slightly more than half of charter schools students were proficient in reading, dramatically worse than traditional public schools, where 72% were proficient … Minnesota is the birthplace of the charter school movement … But the new information is fueling critics who say the charter school experiment has failed … Just like traditional public schools, the highest-performing charter schools tend to serve students from more affluent families.”
Read more …

No Child Left Behind’s Test-Based Policies Failed. Will Congress Keep Them Anyway?

The Washington Post

At The Answer Sheet blog by Valerie Strauss, education research experts with the National Education Policy Center write, “There is now a parent-led backlash against ‘over-testing’ … Nevertheless, the debate in Washington, D.C., largely ignores the fundamental criticism leveled by parents and others: testing should not be driving reform … We as a nation have devoted enormous amounts of time and money to the focused goal of increasing test scores, and we have almost nothing to show for it … Some state and federal initiatives are aimed at evidence-based reforms, such as expanding high-quality early childhood education and community schools. These remain small exceptions, however, within a system that still has test-based accountability at its core.”
Read more …

Student Loan Defaults Rise Throughout 2014

Washington Examiner

“Student loan balances and delinquencies are rising … The broader picture of household indebtedness is more encouraging … Total household debt is still nearly 7% below the late 2008 peak … But within that trend … is the explosion of student debt, which has doubled since the start of the recession to $1.16 trillion. The share of student loan balances at least 90 days past due rose from 11.1% to 11.3% in the quarter, higher than any other form of consumer credit … Many economists expect student loan delinquencies to keep rising as the effects of the recession wear off, as the large cohort of students who entered college during the worst of the jobs crisis end their post-college grace periods and begin repayments.”
Read more …

2/12/2014 – Why Reject Bobby Jindal’s Education Plan

THIS WEEK: More State Takeovers Of Schools … Teachers Mixed On Common Core … New SAT Problems … More College Freshmen Depressed … TFA’s Truth Problem

TOP STORY

Why Democrats Must Categorically Reject Bobby Jindal’s Education Plan

By Jeff Bryant

“Education is one front where the apparent strength of newfound Republican populist rhetoric threatens the Democrat Party’s traditional ‘ownership of the issues’ … This week, Bobby Jindal came to the nation’s capital to proclaim a ‘sweeping education plan’ … Unfortunately, for Jindal, conservatives in charge of education policy in Louisiana have produced some very troubling results … The Republicans’ track record for education is their undoing. So seeking ‘the center’ and copying Republican education policies, as Democrats have a tendency to do, will likely lead to more assurance of a Democratic Party defeat.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

More State Takeovers Of Public Schools Possible

USA Today

“The recent takeover of the Little Rock School District by the Arkansas State Board of Education has angered parents … but as schools nationwide begin to see the results of new math and reading tests based on tougher Common Core standards, they could find themselves the targets of similar moves … Proposed reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law – which orders states to assess academic achievement at specific grade levels – would give state governments more power over troubled school districts. That means more potential takeovers … Several analyses have predicted that more students will fail to hit academic goals laid out by new Common Core standards.”
Read more …

Teachers Mixed On Common Core, Support Blended Learning

THE Journal

“More than 9 out of 10 teachers in America report using technology in the classroom. Two-thirds said they support the idea of a blended classroom, where students spend part of the school day working with a teacher and part working on a computer. A similar number of teachers said they like the idea of requiring students to take at least one online course … The Common Core isn’t a big favorite among the country’s educators. Slightly more than half said they have an “unfavorable” opinion about the learning standards. Only three out of 10 teachers said they believe the standards will improve the quality of education in their communities or state; 36% said they believe they’ll have no impact; and 34% said they believe they’ll have an ‘adverse effect.’”
Read more …

New SAT, New Problems

The Atlantic

“The new [SAT] test will correspond with the Common Core Standards … That means the new SAT could have the opposite of its intended effect … closing opportunities for students who aren’t yet well-versed in the standards. Kids who lack access to in-person test preparation … could also suffer. The most vulnerable students are those who live in low-income areas or don’t speak English as a first language … It will force students and schools to play a long game of catch-up … Students at struggling schools – where teachers tend to have less experience and support and where Common Core-related textbooks can be scarce – could be at a disadvantage.”
Read more …

Emotional Well-Being Of College Freshmen At All-Time Low Levels, Survey Shows

Education Week

“A new survey of college freshmen finds stress and depression is on the rise, with students rating their emotional health at the lowest level in 30 years … Among the freshman class entering in the fall of 2014, about half considered their emotional well-being above average or in the highest 10% of their peer group … The other half described themselves as average, below average, or in the lowest 10% in the emotional health categories … In the mid-1980s and then only about one-third of students put themselves in the lowest three categories … The survey also revealed nearly 1 in 10 students in last fall’s incoming freshman class reported feeling “frequently” depressed – the highest level since 1988 … Students report spending less time socializing, partying, drinking, and smoking than in previous years.”
Read more …

Teach For America’s Truth Problem: TFA Advocates Aren’t Being Honest About Education Reform

Salon

At Salon, Jeff Bryant writes, “Evidence of Teach for America’s academic benefits to students continues to be a mixed picture at best … Meanwhile, costs of hiring TFA recruits continue to overtake costs of hiring traditionally prepared teachers … So why all the clamor to support, even expand, TFA? … We must remember hard truths of American schools revealed to self-proclaimed reformers … are not revelations about schools their own children attend. Their drive-by prescriptions … are meant for ‘other people’s children,’ not theirs.”
Read more …

2/5/2015 – An End To Education Austerity?

THIS WEEK: Pre-K Save On Special Ed … School Spending Drops, Again … The Activity Gap … More Churches In Schools … Lani Guinier On Meritocracy Lie

TOP STORY

Is This The End Of Education Austerity?

By Jeff Bryant

“Don’t get too excited yet, but there are signs we may have finally turned a corner for the better in the war for public school financing. Recently, government officials and politicians – from the Beltway to the heartland – have declared allegiance to do what has been, up until now, the unmentionable: Spend more money on public education.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

Study: Early Childhood Programs In NC Reduce Special Education

Raleigh News & Observer

“Children enrolled in North Carolina’s state-supported early education programs have a reduced chance of being placed in special education by third grade, Duke University researchers say. The findings suggest that state investment in quality early childhood programs can prevent costly special education later … Access to the state’s prekindergarten program for 4-year-olds (at the 2009 funding of $1,110 per child) reduced the likelihood of third-grade special education placements by 32% … The study confirmed … there are conditions in young children that could be improved by high-quality early childhood education … Even children who were not funded for an NC Pre-K slot benefited.”
Read more …

School Spending Per Student Drops For The Second Year In A Row

The Hechinger Report

“The most recent data, from the 2011-12 school year … show that average per-pupil spending fell 2.8%, to $10,667, from the previous school year. That’s the second year in a row that per-student spending fell … the steepest drops were in Arizona, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. … One major reason is that federal funding to schools fell by more than 20% … The U.S. has a higher percentage of children in poverty than other top performing countries, and many experts say that poor children need more resources … It is troubling to see the rise in poverty and a decline in education spending happen at the same time.”
Read more …

The Activity Gap

The Atlantic

“Income-based differences in extracurricular participation are on the rise, and these differences greatly affect later outcomes. This disparity exacerbates the already-growing income achievement gap that has kept poor children behind in school and later in life. While upper- and middle-class students have become more active in school clubs and sports teams over the past four decades, their working-class peers ‘have become increasingly disengaged and disconnected,’ particularly since their participation rates started plummeting in the ’90s … While there’s always been a gap in access to extracurriculars, participation numbers for the two groups increased at about the same rate until they started to diverge precipitously – in the early 1980s for non-athletic activities and in the early 1990s for sports teams … outside experiences have just as much impact on a child’s life as the classroom ones.”
Read more …

The Movement To Put A Church In Every School Is Growing

The Nation

“The fusion of church and school … is an increasingly common phenomenon in the U.S. Indeed, a number of national and international franchise networks are dedicated to planting churches in public schools across the country, sometimes providing services that fill in the vacuum left by the government underfunding of public education. The mingling of church and school has also been encouraged by some poorly understood but profound changes originating in recent Supreme Court decisions about the relationship between religion and public education … Evangelical networks that have planted churches in public schools across the U.S. … The religious right has invested in legal-advocacy organizations that promote a certain version of Christianity in public life and seek to destroy the separation of church and state.”
Read more …

Lani Guinier On Our Ivy League Meritocracy Lie

Salon

In a Salon interview with Lani Guinier, Jeff Bryant writes, “You remember Lani Guinier. In the early days of the Bill Clinton presidential administration, she became a lightning rod for wingnut conservatives when news broke that Clinton would nominate her to be the first black woman to head the Civil Rights … In her new book, ‘The Tyranny of the Meritocracy,’ she once again takes on a component of right-wing authoritarianism … Guinier argues for a radically different view of how merit is awarded in American society starting with the college admission process. Guinier does not confine her argument to higher education, but merely uses the college admission process as a launching pad to critical examinations of K-12 education policy and the greater public arena. ‘We need a culture shift,’ she writes, “about how we reevaluate the meaning of merit by measuring its democratic values rather than its testocratic machinery.’”
Read more …

1/29/2015 – Senator Warren Clarifies The Money Matter

THIS WEEK: Get Rid Of College Debt … Common Core Is Less Common … School Choice Is Hard … Teacher Run Schools … Rich Kids Get Most School Funds

TOP STORY

Senator Warren Clarifies The Money Matter In Revising NCLB

By Jeff Bryant

“Where can Democrats find clarity in the current debate over how to rewrite No Child Left Behind legislation? … The federal government spends nearly $79 billion annually on primary and secondary education programs, and state governments eagerly want to get their hands on that money … What’s sorely needed in the revision of the federal statues is to put the emphasis back on its original intent to spend money where it’s needed most. Senator Warren has provided a powerful corrective message that Democrats everywhere should heed.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

Liberate 41 Million Americans From Student Loan Debt

Campaign For America’s Future

“It is time for a truly transformative idea: Let’s abolish all student loan debt in America. If you agree, click here

to take action … Our massive student debt burden is a moral and ethical challenge. This debt draws upon the as-yet unearned wealth of each new generation, mortgaging tomorrow’s wealth and inhibiting the prosperity of the future … We are not naïve. We know that this idea will meet with bitter resistance from those who argue that it ‘rewards the undeserving’ … There are those who will argue that the idea is fiscally irresponsible, despite the fact that it will have a positive economic impact in the long-term … This is a new idea to most people. It represents a fundamental shift in our moral universe … These shifts don’t come easily. They take time, and debate – and an organized movement. We hope you will join us

.”
Read more …

What Happens When The Common Core Becomes Less … Common?

The Washington Post

“The Common Core State Standards were envisioned as a way to measure most of the nation’s students against a shared benchmark, but education experts say political upheaval and the messy reality of on-the-ground implementation is threatening that original goal … As some states head into their first round of testing, the picture has fragmented amid political blowback from parents and conservative lawmakers … There has been even broader resistance to the common standardized tests … Opposition to the Common Core tests has come amid a broader national debate about standardized testing, which many parents and teachers argue has warped public education.”
Read more …

Parents Confront Obstacles as School Choice Expands

Education Week

“Research shows that an abundance of school choice doesn’t guarantee access, and many parents in high-choice cities struggle to find adequate information, transportation, and, ultimately, the right school for their children … Part of the argument for school choice is based on the idea that consumer demand for good schools will increase their supply and starve out their poorly performing counterparts. But parents, especially those with less education or with children who have special needs, face multiple barriers when choosing a school … As choices multiply, new problems crop up, often with no clear entity to take charge of solving them … Having a large enough supply of good choices is also a challenge.”
Read more …

Let Teachers Run The Schools

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Teachers are in charge of at least 70 public schools in 15 states; most, but not all, are charter schools. Ten more teacher-run schools … are in the planning stages. These schools are not only redesigning the learning process to better engage students, they’re improving student performance. On top of that, they’re stemming the high dropout rate among teachers … Most teachers have no say in their schools’ decisions about hiring, promotions, firing, budgets, pay levels, curriculum or scheduling. This lack of control is a big reason they leave the profession … Having more control keeps teachers and students more engaged … There are many different teacher-run models; some schools have principals, but teachers make the key decisions, even selecting the principal … The biggest obstacles to the spread of teacher-run schools are school districts’ central rules, most of which make it impossible to use unusual personnel configurations, alter budgets and make myriad other changes the teacher-run model demands.”
Read more …

Rich Kids In Low-Income Countries Get Most Of The Public Education Money: UN

International Business Times

“A new United Nations report finds … almost half of public education resources spent in low-income countries of the developing world goes to benefit just 10% of the best-educated students, who tend to come from affluent families … The trend documented by the report shows poor, developing-world countries mimicking a trend in the United States … In the United States ‘many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding’ … Unicef is calling on wealthy countries and corporations to devote more international aid to education initiatives that will more fairly distribute resources.”
Read more …

1/22/15 – Democrats: Listen To Senator Whitehouse

THIS WEEK: Money Matters A Lot … How Parents Choose Schools … Most Students Live In Poverty … True Cost Of Teach For America … Koch Brothers/Charter School Nightmare

TOP STORY

Democrats Should Listen To What Senator Whitehouse Said About Education Policy

By Jeff Bryant

“A populist message for public education needs input from the populace, not just from Beltway wonks that have fed the policy mill at the Department of Education for years … If Democrats want to have any clout in the education arena, they must find their populist voice just as they are doing for other issues. If President Obama isn’t going to provide that, maybe Senator Whitehouse just did.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

When Public Schools Get More Money, Students Do Better

The Washington Post

“Beginning 40 years ago, a series of court rulings forced states to reallocate money for education, giving more to schools in poor neighborhoods with less in the way of local resources … A new study on those who went to school during the school-finance cases a few decades ago found that those who attended districts that were affected by the rulings were more likely to stay in school through high school and college and are making more money today … The benefits were most obvious for students from poor families … A 10% increase in the money available for each low-income student resulted in a 9.5% increase in students’ earnings as adults. A public investment in schools … returned 8.9% … The increased funding had the greatest effect if it was used to raise teachers’ salaries, reduce class sizes or lengthen the school year. ”
Read more …

A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools

NPR

“The charter school movement is built on the premise … parents, empowered by choice, will vote with their feet for academically stronger schools … An intriguing new study … suggests that parent choice doesn’t always work that way. Parents, especially low-income parents, actually show strong preferences for other qualities like location and extracurriculars – preferences that can outweigh academics … A choice-based system all by itself won’t necessarily increase equity. The most economically disadvantaged students may have parents who are making decisions differently from other families … If this is true, choice could actually increase, rather than diminish, achievement gaps.”
Read more …

Majority Of U.S. Public School Students Are In Poverty

The Washington Post

“A majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families… 51% of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 … The explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon … The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up. They are less likely to have support at home, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college. It also means that education policy, funding decisions and classroom instruction must adapt to the needy children who arrive at school each day.”
Read more …

The True Cost Of Teach For America’s Impact On Urban Schools

The American Prospect

“When public school districts hire teachers from Teach For America, they pay a greater upfront cost than if they hire traditional entry-level teachers … TFA hiring contracts are generally non-refundable, even if a teacher turns out to be a serious problem or quits early … TFA, which is built on a model of two-year teaching commitments, presents a challenge for schools that are looking to recruit teachers who will remain in their classrooms for the long haul … Districts, their students, and their communities pay a high price to support TFA’s routine teacher turnover … [TFA] receives millions of dollars from the government each year, and is increasingly funneling its recruits into charter schools. TFA reports that 33% of their recruits teach in charter schools, up from 13% in 2008. Many of these charter schools were founded by TFA.”
Read more …

Koch Brothers/Charter School Nightmare: “White kids get to go to a school with a Montessori approach while children of color get eye control”

Salon

An in-depth investigative report by Jeff Bryant from Nashville finds, “a raging Music City controversy. Conversations about public education … have exploded into acrimonious bickering, full of charges and counter-charges … Low scores on student standardized tests and other indicators led the state to designate 15 Metro Nashville Public Schools … which gives the state or district power to … hand the school over to a charter school management organization … Enforced charter takeovers like the ones being carried out in Tennessee are happening across the country … In every one of these charter takeover cases, there have been large numbers of students, parents and teachers who have spoken out in opposition … Due to the influence of federal policies, such as Race to the Top, and relentless marketing by charter school advocates, virtually every state has a methodology for designating ‘low performing’ schools as Priority and targeting them for radical solutions like charter school takeover … Charter schools have become a darling of conservative politicians, think tanks and advocates. One of those powerful advocates, nationally and in Tennessee, is the influential Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing issue group started and funded by the billionaire Charles and David Koch brothers.”
Read more …

1/16/2015 – What The Test Debate Is About

THIS WEEK: More Jails Than Colleges … What Will Derail Common Core … Jeb Bush Education Foundation … Parents Don’t Care About Teacher Ratings … Corporations Cheat Schools

TOP STORY

Why The Test Debate Is About Politics, Not Education

By Jeff Bryant

“See if this makes sense to you: Conservatives want to let states have potentially more options for wasting taxpayer money on wayward attempts in ‘accountability,’ and liberals are insisting on continuing measures that have been mostly bad for the education of black and brown students.”
Read more …

NEWS AND VIEWS

The U.S. Has More Jails Than Colleges. Here’s A Map Of Where Those Prisoners Live.

The Washington Post

“There were 2.3 million prisoners in the U.S. as of the 2010 Census. It’s often been remarked that our national incarceration rate of 707 adults per every 100,000 residents is the highest in the world … Hundreds of thousands more individuals are locked up in the nation’s 3,200 local and county jails … We have slightly more jails and prisons in the U.S. – 5,000 plus – than we do degree-granting colleges and universities … Prisoners are literally every where you look in the U.S. Nearly 85 percent of U.S. counties are home to some number of incarcerated individuals.”
Read more …

Will Test-Based Teacher Evaluations Derail The Common Core?

The Hechinger Report

“The one-two punch of Common Core and new test-based accountability systems is too much to handle and leaves teachers – and students – overwhelmed … A major backlash erupted in the last year against both teacher evaluations and the Common Core. The backlash has become mainstream, no longer relegated to teachers and administrators, and has fueled legislation and multiple lawsuits aimed at dialing back the new policies … Some supporters of the new standards have blamed the Obama administration for its ambitious and controversial initiatives to overhaul American public education … Earlier this summer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation called for a two-year moratorium on states or districts basing personnel decisions on Common Core-aligned tests. And in August, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged states to delay using test results for an additional year when tabulating teacher ratings. Despite a temporary reprieve, a recent study jointly commissioned by Scholastic, the education publisher, and the Gates foundation shows that, among teachers, support for the Common Core has started to wane.”
Read more …

Jeb Bush Education Foundation Played Leading Role In Mixing Politics, Policy

The Washington Post

“[Jeb] Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education has an unusual role mixing politics and policy – drafting legislation and paying travel expenses for state officials, lobbying lawmakers, and connecting public officials with industry executives seeking government contracts … The foundation has, for instance, pushed states to embrace digital learning in public schools, a costly transition that often requires new software and hardware … The foundation has helped its corporate donors gain access to state education officials through a committee called Chiefs for Change, composed of as many as 10 officials from mostly Republican-led states who convene at the foundation’s annual meeting … his foundation has secured $5.2 million since 2010 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary funder of the campaign to promote the [Common Core] standards.”
Read more …

Parents Make Few Requests For Teacher Evaluations In New York School Districts

New York Daily News

“After battles in Albany over who should have access to results of state-mandated teacher evaluations, the group given the right to see them – parents – appears to be showing little interest … Few, if any, parents have asked for their child’s teacher’s rating since New York began requiring teachers to be classified every year as ‘highly effective,’ ‘effective,’ ‘developing’ or ‘ineffective’ … The AP found there were zero requests in Syracuse, Rochester, Batavia, Amherst, Hudson Falls and Amagansett on Long Island.”
Read more …

Cheating the Schoolkids: Corporations Don’t Pay Their State Taxes, Either

Common Dreams

“Most of the attention to corporate tax avoidance is directed at the nonpayment of federal taxes. But state taxes, which to a much greater extent fund K-12 education, are avoided at a stunning rate by America’s biggest companies. As a result, public school funding continues to be cut … The percentage of corporate profits paid as state income taxes has dropped from 7% in 1980 to about 3 percent today. It may be getting worse. A PayUpNow analysis of 25 of our nation’s largest corporations shows a total state tax payment of 2.4%, about a third of the required tax … companies play one state against another, holding their home states hostage for tax breaks under the threat of bolting to other states … The effects of state tax avoidance are seen all around the country, with impacts on schools.”
Read more …