10/8/2015 – The Ugly Charter School Scandal Arne Duncan Is Leaving Behind

THIS WEEK: Common Core Has Inconsistent Results … Bad Reasons For Good Programs … Race Influences School Funding … Unions Advance Achievement … Reformers Heart School Bankruptcy


The Ugly Charter School Scandal Arne Duncan Is Leaving Behind

By Jeff Bryant

“US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s surprise announcement to leave his position in December is making headlines and driving lots of commentary, but an important story lost in the media clutter happened three days before he gave notice … Duncan rattled the education policy world with news of a controversial grant of $249 million ($157 the first year) to the charter school industry … Even more perplexing is that the largest grant of $71 million ($32.5 the first year) is going to Ohio, the state that has the worst reputation for charter schools.
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Test Scores Under Common Core Show That ‘Proficient’ Varies By State

The New York Times

“Similar scores on the same tests meant something quite different in Illinois … Massachusetts … Ohio … That kind of inconsistency in educational standards is what the Common Core … was intended to redress … As the results from the first Common Core tests have rolled out, education officials again seem to be subtly broadening definitions of success … More confusion is to come … A growing number of parents, balking at what they view as an oppressive testing culture, have opted their children out of standardized tests altogether.”
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Do This And You’ll Get That: A Bad Way To Defend Good Programs

Education Week

Author and education consultant Alfie Kohn writes, “When we’re not sure people will support our cause, it’s tempting to link it to something more popular … Efforts to bring music to children’s lives are often defended on the grounds of improved performance in math … The reason to get behind nursery school, we’re told, is that it will enrich the treasury by reducing government spending once we see tots as ‘human capital’ … Corporate executives reflexively invoke the ‘competitive 21st-century global economy’ whenever they want to make a case that schooling matters … This strategy …. devalues the very thing you support … ‘Do this in order to get that’ deprives us of an opportunity to build a constituency for ‘this’ … We ought to embrace and expand these efforts rather than offer bad reasons to advance good ideas.”
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The Data Are Damning: How Race Influences School Funding

The Atlantic

“In America, schools with a lot of minority students are chronically underfunded. Is that the case because these students are poor … Or, is it because of the color of these students’ skin? … Recent research from data scientist David Mosenkis finds that poverty alone does not explain the underfunding … No matter how rich or poor the district in question, funding gaps existed solely based on the racial composition of the school. Just the increased presence of minority students actually deflated a district’s funding level … The compounding issue of low-income neighborhoods and scarce (or biased) funding leaves such schools with little money or resources to educate their students, and thus little hope of breaking the poverty cycle. These disparities become especially disheartening when looking at the current state of school segregation.”
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How An Area’s Union Membership Can Predict Children’s Advancement

The New York Times

“It is well established that unions provide benefits to workers … Unions may also help children move up the economic ladder … Children born to low-income families typically ascend to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher. The size of the effect is small, but there aren’t many other factors that are as strongly correlated with mobility … The most interesting explanation is that unions are effective at pushing the political system to deliver policies – like a higher minimum wage and greater spending on schools and other government programs – that broadly benefit workers … The benefits aren’t exclusive to low-income children … A 10-percentage-point increase in the rate of union membership is associated with a 3-4.5% increase in the incomes of all children – regardless of their parents’ income.”
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Bankruptcy Is A ‘Huge Opportunity’ To Privatize Schools Says EdBuild

The Center For Media And Democracy

“The transition to for-profit education has been too slow for some advocates who have some new and rather drastic ideas … In the absence of a new hurricane that would sweep away public schools, a man-made calamity might do the trick. Such was the argument of Rebecca Sibilia, who is the CEO of a new non-profit education group: Edbuild … Detroit came to provide a blueprint for how bankruptcy (or the mere threat of bankruptcy) could be used to radically restructure or privatize public assets … Not only did she suggest that this was the solution the corporate school reform movement has been waiting for; she also made it clear that once bankruptcy is declared, the current public school teachers have got to go: ‘The schools of choice that will largely replace the old schools have new teachers.'”
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