"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Schools All Children Deserve

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "REFORM" ADVOCATE

There's a battle going on in Chicago for the future of the Chicago Public Schools. It mirrors the national education story in at least one way...it's a battle between vocal parents and teachers against a "reform" movement led by the rich and powerful at the expense of public education.

The Chicago Tribune, owned by the same company that owns other "reformist"-leaning media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, has been a strident voice against the teachers and for the mayor and his hand picked "school board" (which includes a member with ties to Teach for America, a charter school co-founder, a CEO of one of Chicago's largest banks, a supporter of parochial schools, as well as a couple of former CPS principals).

Wednesday, for example, the Tribune came out against the CTU because they didn't approve of the way in which the union was conducting their open strike vote - a second strike vote this year because the anti-union forces are working to negate the secret-ballot strike vote taken earlier this year. Of course, the Tribune, which compares what they claim is an undemocratic CTU to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Un, operates in a city which refuses to hold elections for school board members – Irony alert!


Earlier in the week the Tribune published their "Schoolchildren's Bill of Rights," a list that Chicago teacher and blogger Mike Klonsky said,
...has little to do with schoolchildren or their rights--except, that is, for their right to have their schools closed or privatized and their teachers debased.
Klonsky's article described the editorial...

The Tribune's so-called 'Schoolchildren's Bill of Rights'
The Trib's Bill of Rights includes not a single right for students, but instead includes things like:
  • Merit Pay for teachers, a oft-tried initiative which, according to researchers, produced no gains in measurable learning outcomes.
  • Using student test scores to evaluate teachers. Already the law in IL.
  • Widespread school "choice," the Trib's code word for school vouchers and privately-run charters. Trib editors write: "The public education industry should view ethnic, parochial or other private schools not as threats but as alternatives that enrich and diversify a community's educational offerings."
  • An end to collective bargaining, including the right to strike.
  • Parent Trigger Laws which enable a small and temporary group of parents to take over a school and hand it over to a private, for-profit company to operate. As you might expect, there's nothing about parents' right to opt-out of the plague of standardized testing.
  • Mass closing of black and Latino neighborhood schools and leaving boarded-up buildings to further blight communities or sell them off to condo developers. Again, too late. They're already doing it.
With high sounding vocabulary in the genre of "think of the children!" the Tribune succinctly gathers every "reform" practice and rolls it into one "reformy" editorial. We're supposed to have "high quality teachers" which really means teachers who teach to "the test" because "the test" is everything. We're supposed to support "choice" for parents, which really means "choice" for private schools to reject your non-standardized child. And, if that's not good enough, they want "Even more choice than that" which really means, privatize, privatize, privatize.


EDUCATORS: STUDENT ADVOCATES


Here's a "Student Bill of Rights" which would actually help students and improve education in Chicago...and the rest of the country.

It was published during the last CTU strike (2013) and is called The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve. It includes actual "proven educational reforms," not just "reformist" talking points.
  • smaller class sizes
  • education aimed at the whole child which includes recess, libraries, PE, the arts, and world languages in every school
  • wraparound services such as nurses, counselors, and social workers where needed
  • equitable funding and services
  • age-appropriate education including pre-K services and full day kindergartens
  • teachers treated as professionals with comparable salaries, adequate planning time, and professional autonomy
  • fully supported programs for students with special needs
  • well maintained and safe school buildings
  • partnerships with parents
  • full funding
Note that it assumes that others have a responsibility for public education in addition to teachers – parents, policy makers, legislators, administration.
Every student in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) deserves to have the same quality education as the children of the wealthy. This can happen, but only if decision-makers commit to providing research-based education that is fully-funded and staffed in an equitable fashion throughout the city. [emphasis added]


A Parent's Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century, by Russ Walsh

Finally, here's a Bill of Rights for children from Russ Walsh's book, A Parent's Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century (also available on his blog, here).
1. Every child has a right to a free, high quality, public education
2. Every child has a right to attend a well-staffed, well-resourced, clean and safe neighborhood school.
3. Every child has the right to be taught by well-informed, fully certified, fully engaged teachers who care about the child as a learner and as a person.
4. Every child has the right to a school that provides a rich and varied curriculum that includes the visual and performing arts, integrated technology, and physical education.
5. Every child has a right to a school that provides a rich and varied extra-curricular program including athletics, clubs, and service learning opportunities.
6. Every child has a right to instruction that is well planned, engaging, and collaborative.
7. Every child has a right to instruction that is developmentally appropriate.
8. Every elementary school child has a right to daily recess.
9. Every child has the right to go to a school with adequate support personnel including librarians, nurses, guidance counselors, and learning support specialists.
10. Every child has a right to an element of choice in the educational program, including the right to choose to take advanced level courses.
Note that Walsh's Bill of Rights, as well as the CTU's, focus on the rights of children – on what children need. There's nothing about busting unions, closing schools, or transferring tax money from public schools, which operate under public oversight, to private corporations or parochial schools. Why? It's simple.

Members of the CTU and Russ Walsh are educators. The editors of the Chicago Tribune are not. Educators know about education.


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Monday, September 19, 2016

2016 Medley #23: Time to Pay the Piper

The Teacher Shortage: Time to Pay the Piper

INDIANA'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE NATIONAL TEACHER SHORTAGE

It's no secret that the nation is suffering under a teacher shortage which promises to get worse before it gets better. The image of a career teacher, retiring after a career of 30 or 40 years is diminishing. Nearly 8% of teachers quit before retirement and new teachers leave at an alarming rate.

Why? Here is a part of what Indiana has done to create its teacher shortage...

Under the guise of "reform," policy makers in Indiana have attacked public education and the teaching profession
  • ...by restricting teachers' collective bargaining rights. School systems and teachers unions used to be able to bargain class size, insurance, pay scales, work hours, preparation time, and anything else that the two parties agreed on. Now, the only things allowed on the bargaining table are money and insurance.
  • ...by removing the right to due process. Due process in K-12 education has been mislabeled "tenure." It gave a teacher the right to a public hearing in front of an impartial judge with binding arbitration. Now, teachers can be fired without any hearing. Indiana teachers still have a right to a meeting with their superintendent or the school board. No impartial hearing is required.
  • ...by introducing testing as one of the criteria for teacher evaluations. Teachers have no control over their students' family income, neighborhood safety issues, emotional health, or the ability of their parents to provide adequate medical and dental health care. All of those issues have a bearing on students' achievement, yet teachers are the only ones "held accountable" by this bad science. The same policy makers who require that testing be a part of evaluations (aka the legislature and governor) aren't held accountable for the lack of jobs or the high levels of poverty in a neighborhood. Teachers, however, are deemed responsible even when achievement suffers due to systemic societal problems.
  • ...by diverting millions of tax dollars to testing corporations, charter schools and vouchers, resulting in reduced funding for public education. Legislators and politicians pocket campaign donations from testing companies, charter owners, and pro-voucher organizations. Testing drains public education dollars through purchase costs and lost instructional time while providing little in return. Charter schools and private schools don't perform any better than public schools.
  • ...by reducing teacher pay through merit pay schemes. Indiana school systems no longer pay teachers based on their years of experience or educational achievement. Indiana's average teacher pay dropped by 10% between 1999 and 2013. Is a falling salary an incentive to join a profession?
  • ...by changing the rules to allow untrained personnel into public school classrooms. Why would a young person want to amass $30,000 or more in college loan debt on education credentials when they knew they could be replaced by someone with no education training at all? The idea that "anyone with content knowledge can teach" reflects the ignorance with which policy makers approach the field of education.
  • ...by reducing the power of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the only state-wide elected education office.
The only good thing that I can say about the way "reformers" in Indiana have treated teachers is that it's just as bad, and sometimes worse, in other places.



TEACHER SHORTAGE ACROSS THE NATION

Plain Talk: Teacher shortage is payback for anti-teacher attitudes

Just one example...Wisconsin...
What's our Republican leaders' answer for the teacher shortage? Allow them to bargain for a raise? Help them pay off student loans? Give them more support in the classroom? Help the public better understand the key role teachers play in America's democracy? No, none of the above.

Their answer is to actually lower teaching standards instead. Allow anyone with a bachelor's degree to step in and teach a class based on his or her work experience. No education credits required. No experience dealing with slow-learning students or kids with emotional problems, handling conflicts or developing stimulating lesson plans.
The teacher shortage is a national problem caused by competition for taxpayer funds – privatizer's greed – devoted to education. The drain of money from public schools into the pocketbooks of privatizers and corporate testing accounts has added to the fiscal crisis felt by many school systems.


A COMING CRISIS IN TEACHING?

Much of the recent focus on teacher shortages is due to the release of A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S., a report by Linda Darling-Hammond's Learning Policy Institute. The report provides four recommendations. Unfortunately, each requires an economic commitment to education that the nation has been unable to muster.
Based on research reviewed on what matters for recruiting and retaining teachers, policies should focus on:

1. Creating competitive, equitable compensation packages that allow teachers to make a reasonable living across all kinds of communities...

2. Enhancing the supply of qualified teachers for high-need fields and locations through targeted training subsidies and high-retention pathways...

3. Improving teacher retention, especially in hard-to-staff schools, through improved mentoring, induction, working conditions, and career development...

4. Developing a national teacher supply market that can facilitate getting and keeping teachers in the places they are needed over the course of their careers...
Teachers salaries nationwide are about 17% behind those of comparable workers (based on weekly, not annual, earnings in order to offset the claim that teachers work less during a full year than other workers). Are states willing to increase the amount of money provided for public education? Are they willing to provide more resources based on need? Every one of the four recommendations listed above would require additional funding. Past history suggests that Americans are reluctant to pay for what's in their own best interest.


Other reports from the Learning Policy Institute:

Solving the Teacher Shortage: How to Attract and Retain Excellent Educators
Policy Recommendations

Informed by the research, the authors offer the following recommendations for federal, state, and local policymakers...
Minority Teacher Recruitment, Employment, and Retention: 1987 to 2013
Abstract

This brief summarizes the results from a study of the recruitment, employment, and retention of minority k-12 teachers. The study examines the extent and sources of the minority teacher shortage—the low proportion of minority teachers in comparison to the increasing numbers of minority students in the school system. Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Schools and Staffing Survey/Teacher Follow-Up Survey, we found that efforts over recent decades to recruit more minority teachers and place them in disadvantaged schools have been very successful. But these efforts have been undermined by the high turnover rates of minority teachers—largely because of poor working conditions in their schools. The conditions most strongly related to minority teacher turnover were the degree of teachers' classroom autonomy and input into school decisions—both increasingly important when coupled with accountability pressures.

OTHER COMMENTS

Study: Indiana ranks among lowest for teacher recruitment, retention

The Republican candidate for Indiana Governor used the same "reform"-based comments about retaining teachers. In his comments below, "high-performing" likely means a teacher whose students score high on achievement tests. His other comments seem to be exactly what we need – treat teachers as professionals, provide resources, give teachers a voice.

I'll believe it when I see it.
Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, the Republican candidate, told IndyStar the state should offer incentives for high-performing teachers to stay in the classroom.

“First and foremost, we must treat teachers as professionals and as role models, as they were for me, then equip them with the resources they need to succeed,” Holcomb said in a statement. "We also need to ensure teachers are a part of the conversation and have a seat at the table. Educators know what is best for their schools.”

Frustration. Burnout. Attrition. It's Time To Address The National Teacher Shortage

NPR has generally been supportive of school "reform" because of their ties to foundation money – the Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
We actually have a teaching situation right now that is probably as bad as it's been for many, many decades. Teacher salaries have been declining since the 1990s. Teachers are earning about 20 percent less than other college graduates who are similarly educated. Even after you adjust for the difference in the calendar work here, in 30 states a teacher who has a family of four is eligible for several sources of government assistance, including free or reduced-price lunch for their own children in school.

Teacher working conditions are worse than they've been. Most states that cut their budgets because of the recession have not even returned to pre-recession levels of spending, which means books and supplies and materials and computers are in short supply. Class sizes are larger than they used to be. Then we have more and more children in poverty, more and more children who are homeless, so in highly impacted communities, the needs that teachers have to be responsive to on behalf of the children are also very, very taxing.

The Teacher Shortage Crisis Is Here
One potential solution the researchers offer is that while much focus is placed on recruiting new teachers into the workforce, policymakers should instead focus on ways to keep the teachers that are already there, especially those working in hard-to-staff schools.

Cutting the attrition rate by half, to 4 percent, the researchers underscored, could solve the entire teacher shortage problem.

“Teaching conditions have hit a low point in the United States in terms of salaries, working conditions and access to strong preparation and mentoring – all of which would attract and keep a stronger, more sustainable teaching pool,” Darling-Hammond said.

US teacher shortage: how to keep teachers from quitting
Few teachers now work until retirement. Instead, many increasingly move to other professions, go into education administration, or stay home with their families.


Want to fix the teacher shortage? Here's how

This editorial is specific to the state of New York, but it's recommendations, with tweaks for specific states, could work everywhere.
1. Eliminate the EdTPA. This system, promoted as increasing standards for teachers, is in reality so onerous and poorly thought out that it is discouraging qualified applicants to the profession. It costs both teacher candidates and the state millions, and has resulted in teacher candidates being less prepared for teaching rather than more so.

2. Eliminate standardized testing in the public schools and for teacher candidate preparation. Research shows the best indicator of a student’s success is their GPA, not standardized test scores. Standardized testing merely adds to the coffers of the private testing industry. Reinstitute teacher-created Regent’s exams. Teacher created exams are age appropriate, more accurately test the learning of students and cost much less than corporate prepared tests.

3. Let teachers mark their own students’ tests. It’s cheaper and better.

4. Eliminate corporate “canned” teaching modules created to meet Common Core Standards, and allow teachers to create their lesson plans. Teachers are the experts; release their creativity so that they can teach students properly.

5. Make the teaching profession attractive financially. Eliminate Tiers V and VI in the teacher retirement system. One of the tradeoffs teachers had accepted for the relatively low pay for the amount of education required was a decent pension. Tiers V and VI were created to punish teachers, not reward them for their service.

6. Create a “Teacher Bar Association” to establish educational requirements for teachers for public and charter schools, thus officially recognizing that teaching is a profession. Lawyers, doctors and CPAs are experts in their fields, as are teachers in theirs.

7. Establish a program to help raise the status of teaching in the public’s consciousness. Few want to enter a profession which is constantly derided by politicians and the press.

8. Common Core has been a disaster; eliminate it. While the intent was perhaps a good one, it was created by non-educators more for political and profit motives than educational ones.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Random Thoughts on the Occasion of My 10th Blogoversary

...which is tomorrow.

Here are some random thoughts about learning, education, and other things...with a few quotes sprinkled throughout. FWIW...
  • "Lazy" students are most likely students who have given up. If there's one argument in favor of investing more in early-child education and early intervention, then this is it. It's much easier to keep a child going with successful experiences than to get a child to "restart" after they have failed and given up.
  • Misbehavior is often a cover up for academic difficulties. It's much easier to choose to be a behavior problem than it is to accept that learning is difficult and risk being labeled as "stupid."
  • Despite the chronological gap between the students I taught in 1975-1976 and the students I taught in 2015-2016, the needs of the children were the same. They wanted – and want – to learn, to be accepted for who they are, and to be loved.
  • Reflective teachers never stop learning. I have never considered myself a "master teacher" because I recognize my own inabilities and weaknesses. I don't believe that I ever "mastered" teaching. Each day there were things I could have done better.
  • "...it is the struggle itself that is most important...It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own rewards..." – Data in The Offspring


  • Criticism is worthwhile. Ask trusted colleagues for it, then accept it and use it to improve.
  • "For years we’ve been told from Wall Street entrepreneurs that we don’t need more money for these inner-city schools, we just need the same management techniques that they use on Wall Street. They say, “You can’t throw money at this problem.” But they are the ones who pull their kids out of the public school system and put them in Exeter and Andover, which now costs about $50,000 a year, or the people who live in the rich suburbs who spend $24,000 on their public schools, almost twice as much as children in New York. They say you can’t throw money at the problem, but I say it seems to work for their kids." – Jonathan Kozol An Interview with Educator and Activist Jonathan Kozol
  • Every student can learn. However, expecting that every student will learn the same thing, at the same time, and in the same way, is unreasonable. Human beings don't grow on a set schedule. We all didn't learn to walk on the 3,000 day of life and not everyone will learn to read in First Grade Kindergarten. Those who expect uniformity in child development should stay out of the classroom. Those who demand uniformity in student achievement should keep their policies out of public education. Students are not widgets. Education is not a business.


  • Every student is different. The strength of a classroom is in the diversity of its students. One way for humans to outgrow the damaging tribalism which has been responsible for most of the wars in human history is to bring together our children to play and learn.  We should celebrate and encourage infinite diversity in infinite combinations.
  • "When people have said 'poverty is no excuse,' my response has been, 'Yes, you’re right. Poverty is not an excuse. It’s a condition. It’s like gravity. Gravity affects everything you do on the planet. So does poverty.'" – Gerald Bracey, Parents, Poverty and Achieving in School
  • It's well established that children need a safe place in order to learn. No one can learn if they're afraid. The same goes for the adults in school. Teachers need a safe place to teach. Bullies don't belong in the classroom, the school office, or the central office.
  • Things I miss in today's schools: cursive writing, typewriters, card catalogues, and paper based reference materials (aka World Book Encyclopedia).
  • "Cub fans will take winning in stride. With enthusiasm, with tears of joy, perhaps, but in stride...When it happens you will find us, like our ancestors in 1908, sensitive enough to know how to be humble in the face of a miracle." – Jim Langford in The Cub Fan's Guide to Life, 1984


  • “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children...It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.” – 1983 Commission on Reading. Reading aloud is more important than standardized tests, test-prep, work sheets, homework, book reports, flash cards...
  • Teachers, you won't be able to "finally get caught up" until the end of the school year. There's too much to do and not enough time to do it. Until a better way comes to American education, teachers will have to accept that fact and prioritize.
  • Teachers, there won't be enough money for public education until the American people, through their leaders, give it a higher priority. It's the future of the nation. Public school students are the future leaders of the country. We're a nation of selfish, shortsighted people only thinking about "mine" and "now." We need to invest in our future...in public education.
  • If you retain a student in grade you're increasing to 60% the chance that he will drop out. Obviously no teacher can force a student to learn, but we need to reach students before they fail. Students need early intervention, wraparound services, and attention to the causes of their learning problems, rather than the reaction of retention. Policy makers can help by funding Pre-K education, early intervention programs, and support services. Which child isn't worth the money?
  • "Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" – Isaac Asimov
  • My first students are now adults in their late 40s. I can see how they impact the community. Teachers, quite literally, have the future of the nation in their classrooms. Today's difficult student might one day make a contribution to national defense, the national economy, or an advancement in medicine.


  • "History has proved again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less-developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference might be, the results are invariably disastrous." – Picard in Symbiosis
  • One's skill as a teacher, while important, is secondary to one's ability to understand and relate to children. My greatest successes as a teacher were with those students whose hearts I was able to touch. My greatest failure – and one stands out more than all the rest – was with the student I couldn't reach because I couldn't relate to him.
  • Technology is not "the answer." It's a tool. The same goes for educational trends like...brain training, phonics vs. whole language, multi-graded classrooms, project-based learning, and new math. Those techniques and concepts, and others like them, might be helpful for some students some times, but they are just tools. I'm more and more convinced that the "answer" is found in the relationship between teacher and student.
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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

#%@! Adults Should Quit Punishing Children

Florida has me riled up again. A few days ago Peter Greene reported about the continuing mess in Florida about retention in grade of third graders who don't pass the #%@! standardized reading test.

Before I comment on that let's look at retention in grade...



RETENTION IN GRADE DOESN'T WORK

Position Statement On Student Grade Retention And Social Promotion
Initial achievement gains may occur during the year the student is retained. However, the consistent trend across many research studies is that achievement gains decline within 2-3 years of retention, such that retained children either do no better or perform more poorly than similar groups of promoted children. This is true whether children are compared to same-grade peers or comparable students who were promoted.

What Research Says About... / Grade Retention
Jackson (1975) reviewed 44 studies that met a minimal set of methodological criteria. Finding few with significant results or even compelling patterns, he concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support the claim that grade retention is more beneficial than grade promotion. About 10 years later, Holmes and Matthews (1984) reviewed an additional 44 studies that all included some type of comparison group of students. These researchers concluded that promoted students had higher academic achievement, better personal adjustment, and more positive attitudes toward school than retained students did.

Moving ahead another 17 years, Jimerson (2001) summarized the historical research and added a carefully culled set of studies conducted between 1990 and 1999, all of which included comparison groups of promoted students. Most of the comparisons showed no significant differences between promoted and retained students on measures of achievement or personal and social adjustment. In those studies that did show a difference, the results favored the promoted students, especially on measures of achievement.

RETENTION IN GRADE IS A BIG WASTE OF MONEY

In their 2014 book, 50 Myths and Lies that Threaten America's Public Schools, David C. Berliner and Gene V. Glass asked, "Does flunking students waste money?"

They answered,
Yes. Retention in grade is not optional in about 13 states and in many school districts. Many jurisdictions have mandated retention for children not reading at grade level, usually based on a test given at 3rd grade. States and districts with this policy, therefore, have agreed to spend an extra year's cost of schooling on a child not performing well on standardized tests. This currently averages out to about $11,000 per child annually in our nation's public schools. With at least 5 million children in the system who have been left back at least once, and the commitment of American schools to an average of $11,000 per child per extra year of schooling, the United States could be spending $55 billion annually on a policy that doesn't work well for most children.

RETENTION IN GRADE CAN BE HARMFUL TO STUDENTS

Grade Retention and Promotion: Information for Parents
• In adolescence, retained students are more likely to experience problems such as poor interactions with peers, disliking school, behavior problems, and lower self-esteem.
• Students who were retained are 5–11 times more likely to drop out of school. The probability is even higher for students who are retained more than once. Actually, grade retention is one of the most powerful predictors of high school drop out.
• For most students, grade retention had a negative impact on all areas of achievement (e.g., reading, math, and oral and written language) and social and emotional adjustment (e.g., peer relationships, self-esteem, problem behaviors, and attendance).
• A study of sixth graders’ perceptions indicated that they consider retention as one of the most stressful life events.

New research suggests repeating elementary school grades — even kindergarten — is harmful
A new study ,“The Scarring Effects of Primary-Grade Retention? A Study of Cumulative Advantage in the Educational Career,” by Notre Dame sociologist Megan Andrew, published Sept. 26, 2014, in the journal Social Forces is an empirically solid analysis that adds more weight to those who say retention — what education wonks call repeating a grade — is ultimately harmful.

WHY WE RETAIN STUDENTS – A FALSE DICHOTOMY

Let's summarize. Retention...
  1. ...doesn't work
  2. ...wastes money
  3. ...harms students
    So why do we continue to do it?

    Reason number one for teachers favoring retention in grade: "The student needs a year to 'catch up.'" It may seem like it works in the year immediately following retention, but it doesn't last.

    Reason number two for teachers: "We don't have any other options. Lack of money means that there aren't enough specialists to help the kids who really need it. Special education is not indicated for every child who has difficulty reading. We didn't have money for anything which could have helped three years ago when these kids were in kindergarten (or earlier in Pre-K programs), and now we're stuck without anything else to do."

    Reason number three, the false dichotomy favored by legislators, pundits, and others who don't know squat about developmentally appropriate instruction and education: "Social promotion doesn't work and we have to do something!"

    And reason number four for the same population, "We're using the tests (which I support because I get campaign contributions from testing companies) for 'accountability.' 'Accountability' needs consequences."

    WHAT DOES WORK? – EARLY INTERVENTION

    An argument against early intervention is that it's too expensive. In fact, early intervention is poorly funded in most states because we're a nation that doesn't look forward. We only react to things when they happen. In addition, we're not willing to pay for our future. The middle class is tired of being taxed to pay for everything which benefits society while the top 1% avoids its tax responsibility.

    However, when compared to retention, early intervention is a bargain. Russ Walsh explains in his blog entry, Attention, Not Retention
    It costs, on average, about 11,000 dollars to retain a child (the cost of an extra year of school). By not retaining children, schools will save thousands of dollars in costs, not to mention all the human costs related to high drop-out rates and behavior issues related to retention. With this money schools need to give students the attention they need, in the form of programs that Berliner and Glass, among others, have found to be effective. Individual tutoring, summer programs and early intervention programs, such as Reading Recovery, have been shown to be effective ways to provide struggling students with the attention needed to “catch-up.” For high-poverty areas, the money could also be better spent on early childhood programs, wrap around health programs and smaller class sizes.



    FLORIDA STILL REQUIRES THE PUNISHMENT OF 8 AND 9 YEAR OLDS

    ...as does Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington. Other states – Colorado, Maryland, Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia – encourage it, though it's not required. Different hoops are needed to avoid it in various states. See K-3 Quality: Is there a third grade retention policy?

    These states and Florida, demand retention in grade of third graders for not learning quickly enough, or not being able to pass a standardized reading test. Retention in grade isn't remediation. Retention in grade punishes children for the failures of adults.

    Some school systems in Florida are telling parents who choose to opt their children out of the third grade reading test, that their children will not be allowed in fourth grade no matter what proof they can give of their child's ability to read. Portfolios won't work. Report Cards don't matter.

    Some of these same people – legislators, politicians, edupreneurs – will insist that all parents be given "choice" when it comes to funding for charter schools and vouchers. "Choice" for privatization means more tax money for private corporations. No "Choice" for testing means more tax money for testing companies. Follow the money.

    On Labor Day, 2016, Peter Greene, wrote,

    FL: Still Stupidly Punishing Children
    This is the kind of spectacle you get when you insist on enforcing a stupid law, and the law that says students must pass the Big Standardized Test in order to move on to fourth grade is a deeply stupid law, without a shred of science to back it up. But this is the hill on which the state has decided to fight the opt out battle, hoping that a battery of nuisance motions and legions of taxpayer-financed lawyers will somehow beat these children and their families down so that finally the Supreme Test Gods can receive their proper homage. [emphasis added]
    Legislators and politicians in Florida and other states have decided that children...8 and 9 year old children...must be punished because adults...
    • don't understand the developmental aspects of reading
    • have failed to put in place sufficient interventions for students who struggle
    • are so tied to testing – either through misinformation, or monetary connections – that they allow this child abuse
    We ought to spend money on things that will actually help children instead of wasting money lining the pockets of testing companies.

    Unfortunately, children who struggle with reading don't make campaign contributions.

    ###

    Wednesday, August 31, 2016

    2016 Medley #22

    Charters, Why Teachers Quit,
    "Failing" Schools, Local Control, Money


    PRIVATIZATION: CHARTERS

    In the eyes of the NLRB, charter schools are private, not public

    In order to cash in on public money spent on education charter school promoters insist that charters are "public schools." However, in the eyes of the charter operators themselves, when they are put under pressure by the public to "act" like public schools they become private entities. See here, here, here, and here.

    Now, the federal government has gotten into the discussion and has decided, through a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that charter schools are, indeed, private.

    In other words, charter schools are just another voucher plan that transfers money intended for public education into private pockets.
    A recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), concludes that charter schools are private and efforts to start teachers unions in them should fall under their purview, rather than the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) which oversees the public sector.

    The decision stemmed from efforts by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) to unionize teachers at the Hyde Leadership charter school in Brooklyn.

    PERB had asserted jurisdiction over the school, but the union ended up arguing that organizing efforts should be overseen by the NLRB which administers labor law in the private sector.

    The NLRB in its decision, concluded that “Hyde was not established by a state or local government, and is not itself a public school.”



    Detroit charter school closes just two weeks before first day of class

    Local public school systems generally face a significant amount of opposition when they try to close a public school. Public meetings are held, parents argue for keeping their children's school open, alumni come back to talk about the impact the school had on their lives, and citizens argue that the school is an integral part of the community. Closing a public school is often a time-consuming and traumatic experience for the community and the students (See this article about schools closing in my community).

    Free-market proponents want schools to be subject to the whims of the marketplace. In such a system, they believe, "bad" schools will close and "good" schools will be supported. The problem is that school closings hurt children. Two weeks before school started, this charter school in Detroit closed its doors. Parents are left having to frantically search for another school for their children. This, it seems to me, is an important benefit of a public school system under the oversight of an elected school board. Real public schools don't close two weeks before school starts, or in the middle of the year. School boards generally create a plan for relocating students from schools which are closed.

    But for the charter industry...school closing is a feature, not a bug.
    Just two weeks before the first day of class, a charter school on Detroit’s west side notified parents and students today that the high school has closed.

    Officials for University YES Academy held an impromptu meeting today to tell high school students they needed to find another school to attend. Only parents and students were allowed in the meeting, and they were barred from using recording devices.

    How charters became the most segregated schools in Indianapolis

    See also The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America.
    ...as charter schools expand their reach across the country and every year educate a larger share of the nation’s children, the issue of racial segregation has raised significant concerns among integration advocates who warn that it can push low-income students into low-achieving schools and reduce the resources going to high-needs schools.

    Even at schools like Tindley that are relatively high performing, critics say graduates will be less prepared to interact with people from different backgrounds later in life.

    WHY TEACHERS QUIT

    Why Do Teachers Stay? What Makes them Leave?

    How do teachers live with the cognitive dissonance inherent in today's educational environment? How can you justify government sponsored malpractice? Each teacher must decide if they can do enough to overcome the damage done by the test-and-punish education promoted by statehouses and the the US Education Department, or whether they will succumb to that which hurts their students.
    Teachers must decide…do they stay or do they go? Either way they choose, teachers usually feel guilty.

    There are some who say that teachers who recognize the draconian classroom goals and objectives and their professional emasculation, should all quit. They should announce to the world that they hate high-stakes testing, or Common Core, Competency-Based Education (CBE), or an innumerable array of insidious reforms, and then they should proudly stake their career on their beliefs and walk out the door.

    Some do this, and then they go fight like hell for the rights of teachers and students.

    Some teachers of like mind, ban together and put up a fight, like the teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School who boycotted testing.

    Some teachers cry for awhile, then they turn away. They believe the only thing they can do is work on something else that will bring joy and happiness. They focus on their corner of the world, where they feel they have some control.

    Who’s the best kind of teacher? That is not for me to judge, although I wonder about teachers who buy into every school reform that comes their way.

    Every teacher must make up their own mind what their career means to them and how to best serve the children in their care. And there are always a whole lot of deeply personal outside factors that enter into the decision.

    "FAILING" SCHOOLS?

    Grading the schools

    Are America's public schools failing? The latest PDK poll once again reports that people who have children in public schools give their schools a good rating. Approximately two-thirds of public school parents rate their local schools as an A or B. When you add a grade of C, the number increases to 90%. Nationally, schools are rated much lower. Why? Could it be that the media, politicians, pundits, and "reformers" are promoting the myth of America's "failing public schools?" What do local parents know that the general public doesn't?


    Failing schools or inaccurate reporting?

    Stephen Krashen provides an answer to the questions above...
    The explanation: Parents have direct information about the school their children attend, but their opinion of American education comes from the media. For decades, the media has been reporting more academic failure than actually exists.

    LOCAL CONTROL

    A Simple Solution to Fix the Problem of our Failing Public Education System

    No two public schools are alike...
    A simple solution infers that a single strategy, or group of strategies, will be sufficient to address problems across a wide variety of settings--in this case, our public schools. As anyone who has ever spent a day teaching in a public school knows, no two public schools are alike, so the notion that any one idea or approach holds the answer to wide-spread, systemic change in an ecosystem as large and diverse as America's public school system is either naive or disingenuous. And neither of those traits is a good thing when it comes to making suggestions about our nation's education policy.



    MONEY DOES NOT MEAN EXPERTISE

    Mr. Gates Chats with Mr. Bowling

    Bill Gates can't understand that he's not an education expert simply because he's rich. Nate Bowling does his best to explain things.
    At the beginning of 2016, Bowling wrote a widely-circulated piece entitled "The Conversation I'm Tired of Not Having" in which he comes down hard on the idea of setting aside questions of education policy until we can honestly grapple with the issues of race and poverty, charging that the powers that be and the folks in the 'burbs are actually pretty happy with The Way Things Are.

    ...if the wealthy and super-wealthy had skin in the game, public schools would get the support they need.

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