4/10/2014 – America’s Biggest Failures

THIS WEEK: Poverty Saps Instructional Time … Why Let Kids Make Rules … Chicago Charter Schools Are No Better … Do E-Books Harm Reading Comprehension … For-Profit College Capture Washington, DC


Testing Season Reveals America’s Biggest Failures

By Jeff Bryant

“It’s testing season in America, and regardless of how the students do, it’s clear who is already flunking the exams … So far, major media outlets and an entrenched education regime that’s prevailed in policy making for over 30 years are proving they’re not up to the task.”
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Poverty-Related Challenges Sap Instructional Time In High Schools

Education Week

“Poverty-related challenges steal time from high school class periods, leading students at low-income schools to receive an average of half an hour less instruction per day than their higher-income peers … Disruptions such as welcoming new students to the classrooms, and locking down the school during emergencies and drills eat away at more instructional time at high poverty schools than in lower-poverty schools … Teachers at high-poverty schools were significantly more likely to report that they experienced chronic loss of instructional time because their classrooms were noisy or needed to be cleaned and because they did not have enough qualified substitute teachers, computers, or access to the school library … Teachers in high-poverty schools also reported spending more time on important but non-instructional tasks such as connecting students to health-care providers, talking to them about future plans, and discussing problems in their lives.”
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The New School Detention, Where Kids Make Rules And A Prison Pipeline Ends

The Guardian

Dana Goldstein writes, “New kid courts, in which students are empowered to set school rules and mete out the punishments for breaking them, are sometimes called ‘restorative justice’. The concept, borrowed from the world of legal mediation, shows real evidence of working in schools … Those strategies reflect middle-class child-rearing norms … by allowing kids to explain their side of the story and then negotiate a fair set of consequences … Last year the National Institute of Health announced the first randomized study of these strategies, which will help policy-makers figure out if they live up to advocates’ hype. In the meantime, the Obama administration has asked states and schools to make suspensions and expulsions a last resort.”
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Charter Schools Show Little Difference In School Performance

Chicago Sun-Times

“Since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011, Chicago has ordered the closings of dozens of neighborhood public schools while approving a new wave of publicly financed, privately operated charter schools, in a much-touted effort to improve education … But even as many parents have embraced the new schools, there’s little evidence in standardized test results that charters are performing better than traditional schools … In fact, in 2013, CPS schools had a higher percentage of elementary students who exceeded the standards for state tests for reading and math than the schools that are privately run with Chicago taxpayer funds … As with neighborhood schools, there is a wide range in the test scores of charter schools, even within some of Chicago’s largest charter chains … Unlike charter schools, which can draw students from a broad geographic area, neighborhood schools must adhere to CPS’ attendance boundaries.”
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Early Concerns About E-Books’ Effect On Reading Comprehension, Researchers Say

Education Week

Two new research studies found, “Digital devices and online reading materials are flooding U.S. schools, but there are some early reasons to worry whether they are helping children better learn to read. … The first study found that a small sample of students comprehended traditional books at ‘a much higher level’ than they comprehended the same material when read on an iPad … The second study found that while students in 18 classrooms were ‘highly motivated by their interactions’ with interactive e-books created using Apple’s iBooks Author software, they ‘often skipped over text, where the meat of the information was’ … The early data raise some concerns and should prompt educators, policymakers, and publishers to reconsider assumptions that the skills students use to read print materials automatically transfer to the reading of digital materials.”
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The Perfect Lobby: How One Industry Captured Washington, DC

The Nation

“Many of America’s for-profit colleges have proven themselves a bad deal for the students lured by their enticing promises – as well as for US taxpayers … So why does Washington keep the money flowing? … Supporters of stronger standards to protect students from industry predation … have far fewer financial resources for the battle … The [for-profit college] industry has already displayed a willingness to spend tens of millions to manipulate the machinery of modern influence-peddling – and with a remarkable degree of success. Because most of this lobbying money is financed by taxpayers, this is a story of how Washington itself created a monster … Eventually, the predatory for-profit colleges may be forced to curb their egregious behavior as more of it comes to light. Enrollments and share prices have plummeted in recent years as the public has gotten wise. But their aggressive advertising and recruiting continues, and thousands more students will sign up this week for programs that will wreck their futures.”
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