8/6/2013 – Bennett-gate And School-Grading Politics

August 6, 2013

THIS WEEK: Voters Want Pre-K … Suspension Reform Keep Students In School … Flaw In Market-Based School Reform … A Story About Michelle Rhee … Economic Segregation In Higher Ed


‘Bennett Gate’ And The Politics Of Grading Schools

By Jeff Bryant

“A quick take of the Bennett affair would be that here was just one bad actor working in a system whose integrity is still beyond dispute. That would be a mistake … School grading systems have been sold to voters as accurate measures of school quality … The consequences of school grading systems are what catapult them from the realm of cold, calculation into the white, hot mess of politics … Bennett is hardly the first person to be a reformer turned faker … maybe now more journalists will be eager to expose the fake reforms of failed reformers.”
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National Survey Finds Overwhelming Support For Public Investments In Early Learning

Madison, Ct. Patch.com

“Democrats, Republicans and Independents support a plan to help states and local communities provide better early childhood education programs to parents of children from birth to age five … Ensuring children get a strong start in life was seen as an important national priority by 86% of respondents – second only to increasing jobs and economic growth … Voters say the country is not doing enough on this issue, with 70% saying it is an area we need to ‘do more’ … Voters also want Congress to take action now.”
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Suspension Reform Keeps Students In School

Teaching Tolerance

“For years, students in Mobile, Ala., endured school climates in which they were regularly suspended for such minor infractions as tardiness, talking and uniform violations … The problem isn’t isolated in Mobile. Suspensions have been steadily increasing across the nation since the 1970s … Research has shown that students who are suspended even once are more likely to drop out – and that suspensions are an ineffective method of changing behavior … In a recent legal settlement with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mobile County Public Schools agreed to make significant changes … Suspensions will be imposed only for serious infractions … A group of parents, teachers, students and other community members will develop research-based alternatives to suspension.”
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Key Flaw In Market-Based School Reform: A Misunderstanding Of The Civil Rights Struggle

The Washington Post

At her blog, Valerie Strauss has an excerpt from a new book that says, “For at least two decades, conservatives have argued that school choice was the last unachieved civil right. In 2010, some powerful moderate voices echoed their view and invoked the name of Rosa Parks to support it … It is clear that leading school reformers seem to largely view the great civil rights struggle as the work of atomized individuals … Certainly, the liberty and dignity of each individual were key tenets of the civil rights movement. But freedom activists kept their eyes on the prize of benefits for entire communities and worked to democratize schools and other institutions … Can we imagine Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Ella Baker, or Rosa Parks marching on Washington to secure the right for parents to compete in lotteries for spaces in free-market schools?”
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A Story About Michelle Rhee That No One Will Print

Learning Matters

At his blog, veteran education journalist John Merrow writes, “Six years after Michelle Rhee rode into town, the [Washington, D.C.] public schools seem to be worse off by almost every conceivable measure … Half of all newly hired teachers … leave within two years … It has been a revolving door for principals as well … The central office today is considerably larger, with more administrators per teachers … Per pupil expenditures have gone up sharply … The most disturbing effect of Ms. Rhee’s reform effort is the widening gap in academic performance between low-income and upper-income students … DC doesn’t fare well in national comparisons either.”
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How To Fight Growing Economic And Racial Segregation In Higher Ed

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation writes, “More minority students are going to college than ever before … but those students are being channeled increasingly into open-access institutions, while white students increasingly head off to selective four-year colleges … Heightened economic and racial segregation matters in higher education … because there are huge disparities in the resources devoted to the education of students at different levels … While universities have long claimed that race-neutral strategies are ineffective at producing racial diversity, powerful evidence suggests they often work … Including poverty concentrations and wealth as admissions criteria can increase the racial dividend of class-based affirmative action … Updated policies will not step back from the goal of racial diversity, but will move forward significantly to deal with America’s growing economic divide.”
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