12/11/2014 – Who’s Really Failing Students

THIS WEEK: How Charter Schools Profit … Costs Of Youth Incarceration … So Many School Shootings … Schools As Tech Training Camps … More Education Doesn’t Pay Off


Who’s Really Failing Students?

By Jeff Bryant

“New standardized tests hitting most of the nation this school year have been engineered to increase failure rates, and policy leaders tell us that children and parents deserve this. The expected sharp downturn in scores will no doubt further tarnish the brand of public schools, siphon yet more precious public dollars into private operators pledging to hold schools ‘more accountable,’ and add fuel to the already raging fires of a growing anti-testing movement. But what too few are asking is who really is the failure here.”
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When Charter Schools Are Nonprofit in Name Only


“Charter schools often hire companies to handle their accounting and management functions. Sometimes the companies even take the lead in hiring teachers, finding a school building, and handling school finances … This arrangement is known as a ‘sweeps’ contract because nearly all of a school’s public dollars – anywhere from 95 to 100 percent – is “swept” into a charter-management company. The contracts are an example of how the charter schools sometimes cede control of public dollars to private companies that have no legal obligation to act in the best interests of the schools or taxpayers … Schools have agreed to such setups with both nonprofit and for-profit management companies, but it’s not clear how often. Nobody appears to be keeping track. What is clear is that it can be hard for regulators and even schools themselves to follow the money when nearly all of it goes into the accounts of a private company.”
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Hidden Costs of Youth Incarceration Nationwide Estimated To Run Between $8 Billion And $21 Billion Each Year


“33 U.S. states and jurisdictions spend $100,000 or more annually to incarcerate a young person … The first-ever estimate of the overall costs resulting from negative outcomes associated with incarceration … found that these long-term consequences of incarcerating young people could cost taxpayers $8 billion to $21 billion each year … The billions of dollars in hidden costs result from formerly incarcerated young people earning lower wages, paying less in taxes, as well as having a greater dependence upon government assistance and higher rates of recidivism. Research shows that the experience of incarceration increases the likelihood that young people will commit a new offense in the future.”
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There Has Been A Fatal School Shooting Every 5 Weeks Since Sandy Hook

Mother Jones

“In the two years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut … A total of 32 victims were killed … 11 victims were injured … 5 shooters were killed … Lockdown drills have become common at schools, and many have added armed personnel or even tested active-shooter detection systems that use technology deployed in war zones … All the same, the toll has gone on, with hundreds of children shot to death, daily violence routinely claiming multiple victims, and mass shootings becoming three times more frequent.”
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Seeking Coders, Tech Titans Turn To Schools


“The $30 million campaign to promote computer science education has been financed by the tech industry … But the campaign has also stirred unease from some educators concerned about the growing influence of corporations in public schools. And it’s raised questions about the motives of tech companies … Silicon Valley CEOs have complained for years about a huge shortage of qualified programmers … Skeptics, however, aren’t convinced that there’s a real shortage … They note that salaries in the IT industry have not increased, in real terms, since the late 1990s – unlike salaries in other fields, such as petroleum engineering … Only about two-thirds of students who earn college degrees in computer and information sciences take jobs in that field within a year of graduation … The industry’s initiative comes at a time of increasing corporate involvement in public education. High schools across the country have turned to local businesses to help them develop classes and host internships for students preparing for careers in fields as varied as hospitality, marketing, health care, and environmental planning.”
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Census: Young Americans More Educated, Not Necessarily Better Off Than Parents

Education Week

“American young adults are more likely to have attended and graduated college today than in earlier generations … but they are also more likely to be earning considerably less, and living either in poverty or with their parents … Americans ages 18 to 34 earn $2,000 less per year than earlier generations, after correcting for inflation, though the percentage graduating college has risen from a little more than 15% to more than 22% … Massachusetts’ young adults earn on average $6,500 more than they would have three decades ago, while young people in Michigan, Wyoming, and Alaska earn $9,000 less … College graduation rates in the Northeast and in Mid-Atlantic states like Maryland and Virginia have grown by double digits, but have flattened in the Midwest … Said Census analyst Jonathan Vespa … ‘Income inequality for households and families has gone up at the same time as the country as a whole has become more educated.'”
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