10/29/2013 – The Education Reform Conversation We Need

THIS WEEK: Poor Children Suffer A Language Gap … Number Of Homeless Children Hit New Record … 389,000 Teachers Missing … Private School Aren’t Worth Cost … MOOCs Won’t Save Higher Ed


The Education Reform Conversation We Need Vs. The One We Have

By Jeff Bryant

“This past week, two videos captured just about everything you need to know about the status of the movement known as ‘education reform’ … Emerging from these contrasting videos – the former, an exchange between purveyors of education reform, versus the latter, skeptics of education reform who question its actual results – was a clarifying ‘aha moment’ about a conversation America ought to be having but currently isn’t.”
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Language-Gap Study Bolsters A Push For Pre-K

The New York Times

“New research … showed that at 18 months children from wealthier homes could identify pictures of simple words they knew – ‘dog’ or ‘ball” – much faster than children from low-income families. By age 2, the study found, affluent children had learned 30% more words in the intervening months than the children from low-income homes … Since oral language and vocabulary are so connected to reading comprehension, the most disadvantaged children face increased challenges once they enter school and start learning to read … At a time when a majority of public schoolchildren in about a third of the states come from low-income families … those who are pushing for higher preschool enrollment say that investing in the youngest children could save public spending later on.”
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Record Number Of Homeless Children Enrolled In Public Schools, New Data Show

The Washington Post

Education journalist Valerie Strauss writes, “U.S. public schools are now enrolling a record number of homeless children and youth – over 1.1 million … The new homeless statistics, for the 2011-12 school year, are 10% higher than the year before and 72% higher than before the recession. Still, the reported figure – 1,168,354 homeless students – is known to actually underestimate the number of homeless children … Advocates for children and the homeless urged the federal government to take new steps to better protect homeless children and families.”
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American Schools Are Missing 389,000 Teachers

Think Progress

“Over the last five years, the number of students enrolled in K-12 schools has gone up by 1.6 percent, and to keep up with that growth, the country would have needed to hire an additional 132,000 teachers, according to analysis from the Economic Policy Institute. But instead, over that period the U.S. slashed 258,000 jobs in local education, a group mostly made up of teachers (although one that also includes counselors, administration, and aides). That leaves the country with a deficit of 389,000 educators.”
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Are Private Schools Worth It?

The Atlantic

“When controlling for demographic factors, public schools are doing a better job academically than private schools. It seems that private school students have higher scores because they come from more affluent backgrounds, not because the schools they attend are better educational institutions … Our typical and our best public schools are doing a pretty great job – it’s just the national averages are often dragged down by the fact that we have a lot of schools with poor-performing students who happen to also be poor… It appears that there is a danger in the autonomy that private schools have. The teachers aren’t required to be certified, there is less professional development happening, they’re not held accountable to the same kinds of state curriculum standards and tests.”
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MOOCs: Corporate Welfare For Credit


“For all the hype about innovation and disruption, the MOOC providers … are following a previously beaten path, one laid out by earlier proponents of for-profit education in the charter school reform movement … MOOCs are aping the way of the charter movement – use the media access of major investors to create a crisis that your product is designed to solve, then use their political leverage to secure a legally privileged place in the system … Higher education does have a crisis – not one of initial access, but of retention – and it is not a crisis that will be solved by MOOCs … The Silicon Valley gospel of ‘innovation’ and ‘disruption’ may work very well for driving stock prices and attracting investors, but is it not a panacea for our nation’s most vulnerable students.”
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