3/19/2014 – Extremists In The Education Debate

THIS WEEK: Georgia Pre-K Program Results … Schools Discriminate Against Students Of Color … Charter School ‘Backfill’ … New Bill Would Curb Testing … Crack Down On For-Profit Universities


New Extremists In The Education Debate

By Jeff Bryant

“The new extremists in the education debate … represent a mindset unwilling to fight things out on a democratic playing field, no matter how unlevel. Instead, they aim to eliminate the playing field altogether … What extremists in the education debate are calling for now is to remove all trust and respect from ordinary people and deposit that faith into a competitive market system operated by people who more often than not don’t even live in the same community the children and parents do.”
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Those in Georgia’s Universal Pre-K Tested Better Than Unenrolled Peers, Study Says

Education Week

“Children in Georgia’s state-funded, universal pre-K program produced higher scores in language, literacy, and math than children who were not enrolled, and those not in the program scored at or below the national norm, a new study reported. The findings could lend credence to those who are pushing for similar programs at the state and national levels … Participation in the program ‘significantly improved children’s school readiness skills across most domains of learning’ by half a standard deviation, the report concluded … Georgia’s universal pre-K program is free for 4-year-olds no matter what the family’s income level.”
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Yes, Schools Do Discriminate Against Students Of Color

The Huffington Post

“African-American students and students with disabilities are suspended at ‘hugely disproportionate rates compared to white students,’ said a report … Latino students, girls of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students also were disproportionately suspended – a punishment the report said increases dropout risks and helps push troubled students out of classrooms and into the justice system … Research shows that removing so-called ‘bad kids’ from the classroom doesn’t help non-disruptive kids learn, according to the collaborative … Some restorative justice programs and prevention programs that call for more student-teacher engagement can help lower suspension rates and minimize disruptions. The researchers also found that school police often make arrests for ‘what might otherwise be considered adolescent misbehaviors.'”
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The Quieter Charter School Divide: What You Need To Know About ‘Backfill’

Chalkbeat New York

“What happens to space vacated by students who leave charter schools? Some schools, seeking to fulfill a larger mission and bolster their finances, fill those spots by calling students off of their waiting lists. Other schools focus on teaching the students who remain, avoiding a potential drop in test scores and the social and academic disruption of adding new students. The debate over which policy is best has long divided the charter sector, as critics have charged that schools that do not backfill are not serving their share of high-needs students … Research has shown that students who leave charter schools tend to be lower-performing academically, so not replacing them can boost scores overall – a move that benefits charter schools that are eager to prove their value … Charter schools … authorizers have been loath to require charters to adopt one backfill policy or another … so schools frequently include vague language in their charters..”
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Bill Aims To Curb High-Stakes Testing Mandates

THE Journal

“A bipartisan bill that aims to cut the number of standardized tests the federal can impose on states … introduced last week by Reps. Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) … would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to change the number of federally mandated standardized tests state would be required to administer under the current law, eliminating annual testing and replacing it with grade-span testing … According to Rep. Gibson: ‘In the decade since No Child Left Behind was signed into law the focus in education has shifted from teaching to testing. But data shows the current testing regime established in No Child Left Behind has not led to higher standards. Teachers are spending more time preparing students to take tests and less time educating, while students are spending more time taking tests and less time learning.'”
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States Crack Down On For-Profit Universities

The Hechinger Report

“Attorneys general across the country are investigating for-profit colleges accused of leaving students with overwhelming loan debt and without marketable job skills. At least 32 states are working together to investigate the schools … In cooperation with several of these states, the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau … has sued ITT Education Services for predatory lending practices … Corinthian Colleges … has also noted in regulatory filings that the CFPB was considering legal action against it … Critics say the industry’s lobbying arm … is a main reason Congress and the White House have not been able to crack down on dubious practices..”
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