10/22/2013 – Michelle Rhee’s Empty Harvest

THIS WEEK: Poor Children Are The Majority … Negative Impact Of Charter Boom… The Politics Of TFA… Schools Learn Tablets’ Limits … Poverty’s Effects On College Attendance


The Empty Harvest From Michelle Rhee

By Jeff Bryant

“Without doubt the poster person for the reform movement has been ex-chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public school system Michelle Rhee … But it is Rhee’s spectacular rise and fall that in many ways symbolizes the fallen arc of the education reform movement … Rhee exemplified the reform creed of ‘data-driven decision making’” and a ‘produce or else’ mentality relying on student test scores … But the wealth of improvement stemming from expensive new assessment systems has yet to fill the account left barren by the nation’s reluctance to invest in our children’s education.”
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Study: Poor Children Are Now The Majority In American Public Schools In South, West

The Washington Post

“A majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades … Children from those low-income families dominated classrooms in 13 states … A decade earlier, just four states reported poor children as a majority of the student population in their public schools … The change helps explain why the United States is lagging in comparison with other countries in international tests … National efforts to improve public education … have been focused on the wrong problems.”
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Charter Boom May Have Negative Fiscal Impact On Districts, Report Says

Education Week

“Certain risk factors are making it harder for districts in economically challenged areas to remain financially viable as charters continue to grow … In places where school districts are already facing declining enrollment, and therefore dwindling amounts of per-pupil funding, they may find it necessary to cut back on academic programs and services. That can lead to more students leaving the district in favor of charter schools … Because charter schools pull students from a variety of grade levels across a district, it is challenging for district officials to make strategic decisions to cut back on expenses, such as consolidating classrooms or schools.”
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Teach For America Rises As Political Powerhouse


“With a $100 million endowment and annual revenues approaching $300 million, Teach for America is flush with cash and ambition. Its clout on Capitol Hill was demonstrated last week when a bipartisan group of lawmakers made time during the frenzied budget negotiations to secure the nonprofit its top legislative priority … TFA has already produced an astounding number of alumni who have transformed the education landscape in states from Tennessee to Texas … TFA is now embedding select alumni in congressional offices and in high-ranking jobs in major school districts … When TFA alumni gain political clout, they often push to expand TFA’s role in their communities, a cycle that has fueled TFA’s rapid growth in recent years … Signs of a backlash are emerging.”
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Schools Learn Tablets’ Limits

The Wall Street Journal

“As schools rush to embrace computer tablets as teaching tools, glitches have officials in a few districts rethinking the usefulness and even security of the latest technology trend … The highest-profile snafu came in Los Angeles … a $1 billion program … The fitful Los Angeles rollout comes as K-12 schools nationwide are expected to spend $9.7 billion on technology in 2013 … Officials in Fort Bend Independent School District in suburban Houston scrapped a $16 million iPad initiative after an audit this month … Officials in Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, N.C., suspended a $30 million effort … Skeptics say schools are racing into the digital promise with little forethought and, in some cases, expecting computer tools to boost academic outcomes even though the research on the issue is inconclusive.”
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School Poverty – More Than Race – Affects Students’ College-Going, Study Finds

Education Week

“High-poverty schools sent significantly fewer graduates to college in 2012 than higher-income schools, regardless of the schools’ geographic location or racial makeup … Schools with more than half of their students in poverty had lower rates of enrollment and lower rates of persistence in two- or four-year colleges than did higher-income schools … Only in higher-income schools was the racial makeup of schools associated with lower college attendance, and even there, it was smaller than the gap between rich and poor.”
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