"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.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, May 5, 2012

2012 Medley #9

Education and Poverty, IREAD, Privatization; Closing Philly's Schools, Charters in AL, Privatization in CT, Protest in LA, ALEC.

Education and the income gap: Darling-Hammond

This is (IMHO) one of the most important pieces I've ever entered on these pages. Linda Darling-Hammond reports on the Capitol Hill briefing on the impact of poverty on education and what we can do about it which was sponsored jointly by the Broader Bolder Approach to Education and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.

The 90 minute video embedded on the Capitol Hill briefing page is not the best quality...the sound kicks out near the beginning, but comes back after a short while. Still, it's worth listening to either at the Capitol Hill briefing page or it's Youtube location.

One of the most important points brought up during the Capitol Hill briefing is that the "gap" between children in poverty and middle or high income children begins before children get to school. The gap does not increase significantly during the child's school years. Think about that for a while...
Our children who attend schools in low-poverty contexts are doing quite well. In fact, U.S. students in schools in which less than 10 percent of children live in poverty score first in the world in reading, out-performing even the famously excellent Finns.

In high-achieving countries like Finland and Singapore, strong social safety nets ensure that virtually all schools have fewer than 10 percent of their students living in poverty. Although the poverty-test score association is similar across 14 wealthy nations (with the average scores of the poorest 5 percent of students just over half those of their wealthiest peers), our poverty rate for children is much higher than others: 22 percent of all U.S. children and 25 percent of young children live in poverty.

Furthermore, our supports to counter it are much weaker. As a result, many children lack preschool education, health care, and social supports. The proportion of children who lack even the basic support of stable housing has increased dramatically in the past few years, with 1 child in every 10 now homeless in many California school districts near my home...

...We cannot pretend that multiple layers of growing inequality — in home, community, and school resources — don’t matter for student learning, or that solutions to our education problems can be enforced without strategic investments in a level playing field. Our challenge is to confront the reality of growing up in America today and to design in- and out-of-school supports that will allow children a fair shot at the American Dream.
Senator agrees: Indiana education board overreached with reading retention rule
Sen. Luke Kenley (R) has affirmed that Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and the Indiana State Board of Education went beyond the bounds of state law when they adopted a rule that requires third-graders to pass a reading test or face grade-level retention.
Privatization Watch

The following entries are all from Privatization Watch. It's an excellent resource if you'd like to keep track of how the Friedmanesque obsession with privatizing all public services is progressing. All the following appears in Privatization Watch from May 1, 2012 through May 4, 2012.
PA: Who’s killing Philly public schools?
…The plan is bold — after all, closing just eight schools this year prompted an uproar. It’s also terrifying, says former Philadelphia School District superintendent David Hornbeck, considering the poor academic records and corruption at many charter schools. “What is being proposed, in effect, is ‘charterizing’ the whole district, when there is a lot of evidence that at best [charters] have no positive effect on student achievement, and there is a lot of evidence they cost more,” he tells City Paper. And “charters in many instances, in Philadelphia and elsewhere, have served private interests — sometimes of public officials.” Philadelphia City Paper

AL: Senate OKs charter schools bill
Senate Republicans pushed through legislation Wednesday that would allow school districts in the state’s largest cities to create charter schools to replace failing schools, while allowing other areas flexibility in addressing their needs…The GOP made charter schools a top priority in the current session, although the version the Senate passed 23-12 included a variety of changes and limits charter schools to Montgomery, Mobile, Birmingham and Huntsville. The number of charters also would be capped at 20 statewide. Charter schools have been a controversial issue, but vocal opposition was minimal during the relatively brief debate Wednesday evening. Montgomery Advertiser

CT: Privatization an issue in Conn. education bill
The prospect of greater privatization of Connecticut schools has emerged as a hurdle in closed-door negotiations over Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposals to overhaul public education. Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr. told the Associated Press this week that Malloy’s proposal to give the state’s education commissioner the discretion to allow private companies to run certain low-performing schools “continues to be one of the many ongoing issues” being discussed in the closed-door talks, even though language to that effect was stripped from the governor’s original bill last month. Williams said he has serious concerns about the prospect of state money being spent to “enrich private vendors” instead of benefiting students. “It’s a critical discussion that’s going on across the country: How do we define public education?” he said. “Is public education truly public? Is it run and accountable at the local level with input from parents in the community, or is it turned over to private companies where, as time goes by, accountability and local input disappears?” Lawmakers and the governor are facing a May 9 deadline, when the regular legislative session is scheduled to adjourn. AP via CanadianBusiness.com

LA: Grass-roots organization assembles ed reform protest
Even though Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed sweeping education reforms, parents, teachers and community members say they will not be silenced from expressing their concerns. The various Caddo Parish residents gathered in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse on Wednesday after to protest “the privatizing of education” under the voucher and charter school bill approved this legislative session and to announce the formation of a new grass-roots education group tasked with starting a new conversation for real education reforms…Wednesday’s protest brought together personalities not normally seen as bedfellows from school board members to teachers’ organization members and parents agreeing the answer to public education is not found in the new laws. “If we really care about public education, we should address the real issue, and that is socioeconomic,” said Jackie Lansdale, president of Red River United. Shreveport Times

Ravitch: A primer on the group driving school reform
Since the 2010 elections, when Republicans took control of many states, there has been an explosion of legislation advancing privatization of public schools and stripping teachers of job protections and collective bargaining rights…This outburst of anti-public school, anti-teacher legislation is no accident. It is the work of a shadowy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Founded in 1973, ALEC is an organization of nearly 2,000 conservative state legislators. Its hallmark is promotion of privatization and corporate interests in every sphere, not only education, but healthcare, the environment, the economy, voting laws, public safety, etc. It drafts model legislation that conservative legislators take back to their states and introduce as their own “reform” ideas. ALEC is the guiding force behind state-level efforts to privatize public education and to turn teachers into at-will employees who may be fired for any reason. The ALEC agenda is today the “reform” agenda for education. Washington Post

CT: Charter school model not permitted for turnaround schools
Charter school advocates were stunned — and now are angry — that the latest proposal for education reform does not include charter schools as an acceptable model to turn around low-performing schools. …Malloy’s original education bill gave the commissioner the authority to turn around a network of low-perfoming schools by choosing from among a variety of school models, including charter schools… However, a staff member for the Senate Democrats suggested contacting Kenneth Saltman, a professor in education policy studies and research at DePaul University in Chicago, who is writing a book to be published in June called “The Failure of Corporate School Reform.” In an interview Tuesday, Saltman criticized charter schools as less accountable than public schools. He also said charter schools have high teacher turnover; can be used as a tool to get rid of teachers unions; and that nationally, charter school students perform on standardized tests about as well or worse than students who attend traditional public schools. The Hartford Courant
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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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