9/24/2013 – Education Nation Insults Teachers

THIS WEEK:Do America’s Schools Stink? … School Testing Errors … U.S. Illiteracy Rates Still High … A Successful School Integration … Oregon’s Experiment With College Costs


Dear NBC Education Nation, Lloyd Blankfein Is Not An ‘Education Expert’

By Jeff Bryant

“The latest indignity leveled at public school teachers came from NBC and its seasonal “back to school” Education Nation extravaganza that kicks off next week. Rather than an opportunity to make prominent the voices of teachers who do the tough work of educating the nation’s children every day, Education Nation foists onto us some of the worst actors who’ve committed egregious offenses to children and young people… the inclusion of Goldman-Sachs chairman Lloyd Blankfein raises insult to travesty. While many of Education Nation’s guest panelists have troubling track records on education – particularly Joel Klein – none of them rises to the level of the direct harm that Blankfein has meted out to the nation’s youngest citizens.”
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Do American Public Schools Really Stink? Maybe Not


“The biggest crisis facing public education is the relentless message that public education is in crisis … The percentage of kids scoring ‘below basic’ on the National Assessment of Educational Progress … has plummeted in both reading and math in both 4th and 8th grade for every racial group except Native Americans. Average reading and math scores for each subgroup in the 4th and 8th grades have also climbed steadily over the past 20 years … ‘Corporate reformers’ and ‘privatizers’ have a vested interest in making it sound like teachers and schools are failing so they’ll be invited to run their own schools or sell educational technology at a profit. Reformers say that’s ridiculous and accuse their critics of prioritizing adult concerns like teacher union jobs over children’s needs.”
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Errors Plague School Testing

Atlanta Journal Constitution

“Test-based accountability began its march across the nation’s classrooms more than a decade ago. Yet no one … has held the tests themselves accountable. While lawmakers pumped up the repercussions of lagging scores, schools opened exam booklets to find whole pages missing. Answer-sheet scanners malfunctioned. Kids puzzled over nonsensical questions. Results were miscalculated, again and again … Mishaps continue to disrupt tests and distort scores … The vast majority of states have experienced testing problems – some repeatedly … Even as testing companies received public floggings for errors, lawmakers and education officials failed to address why the tests were derailing or how government contributed to breakdowns … Advocates of test-based reform say the exams offer scientific precision. But records show thousands of students have faced questions that failed to meet basic industry standards.”
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The U.S. Illiteracy Rate Hasn’t Changed In 10 Years

The Huffington Post

“32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14% of the population. 21% of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19% of high school graduates can’t read. The current literacy rate isn’t any better than it was 10 years ago … 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a 4th grade level.”
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Once Racially Troubled, A District Shrinks The Achievement Gap

The Hechinger Report

“For years, Ossining High School … exemplified an achievement gap that is pervasive across America … The school has made significant progress, nearly doubling the percentage of minority students who graduate, and greatly narrowing the test score gap between student groups … Ossining’s focus on race dates back to the late 1960’s, when the district created an integration plan for its elementary schools … The desegregation plan was ultimately successful in evening out student populations. But in 1981, the district went a step further when it eliminated neighborhood schools altogether. Each elementary school took on one or two grade levels, and students began to move, as an integrated class, through the different schools … Graduation rates have also risen steadily in the past four years … The school’s next goal is to increase the number of graduates who are the first in their family to go to college.”
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No More Debt!: The New Plan To Destroy Tuition And Loans


David Sirota write, “If states are the laboratories of democracy, then what’s happening in Oregon’s lab seems destined to become one of the most controversial higher education experiments of all … Pay It Forward … directs the state government to develop a program that allows students to attend the state’s public universities without paying tuition – and without racking up tuition-associated debt. After an initial investment, Pay It Forward would then aim to finance itself by obligating participating students to send a set percent of their income back to Oregon for 24 years … A better way to understand the initiative is to view it less as a financing scheme than as an education-themed riff off the basic idea of insurance and risk pooling … Eliminating the prospect of a set amount of debt and basing repayment on a flat percentage of income – whatever that income happens to be – it lets participants view financial remuneration as one of many career considerations … By basing payment plans on a share of income (however small) rather than on a total amount, graduates could take more business risks without fear of defaulting on loans. That means more entrepreneurialism and potentially fewer defaults.”
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