"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

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012 Medley #14

Public Education, Class Size, Tenure, Teacher Evaluations, Corporate Charters, Privatization, Politics, Testing.

PUBLIC EDUCATION

Platform of NEIFPE, the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education
To build a school, family, and community partnership that fosters learning, creativ- ity, critical thinking skills, and success among our children:

1. We believe tax money should support public education in the state of Indiana. All school districts in Indiana deserve equitable funding....
See the rest at http://neifpe.blogspot.com/

Indiana Teachers Would Like to See State Surplus Fund Education

This is a case of "put your money where your mouth is." Politicians talk about supporting schools, but when it comes to actually doing something, like replacing the millions which were cut because "times were tough" they often come up short.
INDIANAPOLIS — Though Indiana's fiscal year closing with a $2 billion reserve means $100 refunds for taxpayers, some educators say the surplus should be used to fund programs and budgets that were cut.

The Indiana State Teachers Association would prefer to see the money go toward K-12 education, where Gov. Mitch Daniels implemented $300 million in funding cuts in 2010 and 2011 as the recession forced the state to slash its budget, said spokesman Mark Shoup.

Shoup said the state has cut funding for K-12 education and has imposed cuts on higher education and unemployment benefits. He said he would like to have seen the surplus used to increase funding for those programs.

CLASS SIZE

Politicians Ignore Research, Say Smaller Class Size Makes No Difference
...research including long-term experiments such as Tennessee’s 1980’s Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (Project STAR), which has long been heralded as definitive proof of the difference class size makes in student achievement, and Wisconsin’s Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program.

In examining both Project STAR and SAGE, experts found that students in the smaller classes performed better than those in larger classes. Minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students made the most gains, according to the Center for Public Education (CPE).

TENURE

Teacher Tenure Is Still Needed

The people who are in the schools, every day, working with children and following the mandates of districts, states and the federal government, are the ones we need to rely on to keep America's schools honest. This teacher was fired for telling the truth...for doing what was best for children...and for standing up to corruption. Tenure protects teachers.
Bruno Mpoy...was fired from Ludlow Elementary School in the District of Columbia after he told former Chancellor Michelle Rhee that his principal had instructed teachers to "change and falsify student records, to alter test scores on standardized assessments, and to fabricate levels of student achievement"...The judge allowed the suit to continue under the D.C. Whistleblower Act and the D.C. Human Rights Act, along with breach of contract, retaliation and wrongful termination.

TEACHER EVALUATIONS

Georgia professors blast teacher evaluation system

When are the no-nothings going to start listening to education professionals?
...No evidence exists that evaluation systems that incorporate student test scores produce gains in student achievement. In order to determine if there is such a relationship, researchers recommend long-term, small-scale pilot testing of such systems. Furthermore, student test scores have not been found to be a strong predictor of the quality of teaching as measured by other instruments or approaches[5].

CORPORATE CHARTERS*

Seize the Charters

Tony Bennett, the "Superintendent of Department of Education" is busy traveling around the country selling the public school students of Indiana.
An article in the Yuma, Ariz., Sun confirms that not only is the Indiana superintendent of public instruction eagerly supporting charter schools, he's also actively recruiting them.
Now It Can Be Told! The Secrets to Success and Riches

How would your local public school do with funding like the Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone, for example?
His schools spend nearly three times as much per-pupil as the nearby neighborhood school, yet he unabashedly claims it is the great teaching alone which makes all the difference, again as a way to market the schools. (emphasis added)
Diane Ravitch explores what public schools could do with some of the same "rights" as corporate charters.
The same things that “work” in charter schools should also work in public schools.
  • First, the best charters spend considerably more money...
  • Second, the charters are free of burdensome regulation by the states and districts.
  • Third, the charters do not accept the same proportion of students with special needs or students who are English language learners.
  • Fourth, the charters have even more money to spend because of the small proportion of children with disabilities and English language learners...
  • Fifth, the charters make their own disciplinary rules and can toss out kids who misbehave by their rules...
  • Sixth, the charters have longer school days, longer school weeks, and a longer school year. More time to teach...
  • Seventh, charters keep their costs low by encouraging or tolerating or not minding constant turnover among the teachers...
Linda Sutton to Washington State Voters
...cutting the budgets, demonizing teachers, and trashing unions help make "bad" schools a self-fulfilling prophesy. And the public and parents, disgusted with what is left in these money-starved and dumbed-down curriculums (caused by teach-to-the-test), grasp for any straw of hope. Thus, the corporate-driven propaganda constantly tells them that charters are the answer.

PRIVATIZATION

Let Big Business Save Our Schools and Our Children

Shall we give our schools to the same hedge fund managers who brought us "Economy 2008?"

Students from middle to high income schools in America have among the highest scores on international tests. Poverty is the factor that lowers our scores compared to other nations. With our child poverty rate growing beyond 22% our "average" scores are diminished internationally.
P. S. No one seemed to notice that the "school crisis" in America was still limited almost entirely to the poorest inner cities and poorest rural areas.

No one seemed to notice that in the very best public school districts, teachers were still unionized.

No one noticed that Japan always ranked near the top in education; but that the Japanese economy stalled out in the 1990s and hasn't grown a bit since. And none of the right-wing thinkers bothered to explain how--if schools were failing--we were losing jobs to Mexico and Bangladesh and not Finland and South Korea.
Ten Years of “Reform” and Still So Much Failure
The New York Daily News has an editorial this morning complaining about an arbitrator’s decision to stop Mayor Michael Bloomberg from closing 24 schools.

As usual, the editorial lambastes the teachers’ union, which is supposedly the font of all evil in education. The editorial writer forgets that the city Department of Education agreed to enter into binding arbitration. Having lost the decision, the city and the newspaper forget the plain meaning of the word “binding.”

The crucial issue: No question is raised about why so many schools continue to “fail” after a full decade of “reform” in New York City.

How many years must it take before the failure stops? Twenty? Thirty? Forty?

The Daily News editorial writers will never hold the mayor accountable for improving the schools, over which he has had total control for ten years. He has a puppet board, which routinely approves whatever the mayor wants. Never in ten years has the board said no to any decision of his. He negotiates with no one.
When is a school not a school? When it’s a profit center.
...if the education reformers have their way it soon will be. No matter what direction the so-called reform comes from, and no matter what level it’s aimed at, all the solutions to what ails education in America today have one thing in common: taking money from public institutions and putting it into private pockets.

POLITICS

Mitt Romney unveils education reform plan heavy on 'parental choice'

This is the man who wants American students to have the best education that they can afford. His policies will mean mediocre or worse for whoever is unable to "afford" the best.
“As president, I will pursue bold policy changes,” said Romney. “Dramatically expanding parental choice, making schools responsible for results by giving parents access to clear and instructive information, and attracting and rewarding our best teachers – these changes can help ensure that every parent has a choice and every child has a chance.”

TESTING

How Indiana Students Fared On This Year’s ISTEP+ Exams

Testing can be an important educational tool, but it's being misused. The information in this report shows -- once again -- that our students who live in poverty are struggling. That's where we need to focus our attention.

This information should not be used to punish schools or school systems, to evaluate teachers, or to enrich the pockets of corporate edupreneurs. Test results give us an indication of where our public resources need to be directed. We need to fix and support our public schools...not privatize them.
Overall ISTEP+ scores are higher than they’ve ever been, but stubborn socio-economic achievement gaps remain. While low-income and minority students’ scores have increased slightly faster than the population as a whole, they still lag behind.
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*References to charters generally imply corporate, for-profit charter schools. Quotes from other writers reflect their opinions only. See It's Important to Look in a Mirror Now and Then

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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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