"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

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012 Medley #17

Testing, Online Learning,
Chicago Teachers Union vs. Democrats, Tony Bennett,
Corporate Charters, "Reformers," Politics.

TESTING

Outing ACT: Test-and-Punish Doesn't Educate, but It's Profitable for Testing Companies

This reminds me of the 1960s album by the Mothers of Invention titled, We're Only In It For The Money.
Future historians, trying to explain why America, at the turn of the 21st century, chose a path to education reform that made catastrophe all but inevitable, will have a difficult time unraveling the tangled weave of ideology, ignorance, hubris, secrecy, naiveté, greed and unexamined assumptions that contributed to that catastrophe.

Why, they'll wonder, would the citizens of a country that had become the richest and most powerful in the world, a country that had accumulated patents, Pulitzers, Nobels, and other national and international awards out of all proportion to the size of its population - why would it hand over its system of education to corporations, politicians and a wealthy guy who went to private schools?

The Costs of High Stakes Testing

Did you know that testing in Indiana costs more than $46 million? Did you know that students lose days of instruction every year so that they can be tested over and over again? Want to see what you can do to change things?
What Informed Citizens Need to Know about Standardized Testing in Our Public Schools

ONLINE LEARNING

The reality and the hype behind online learning and the "School of One"

"No significant achievement gains" from online learning...
Today’s Daily News has a story about a new negative evaluation of DOE’s much vaunted “School of One” program. This study, which found no significant achievement gains from the program, was quietly placed on the Research Alliance website in the middle of summer with no apparent outreach to the media or the public.

This contrasts with the huge publicity machine promoting this online program that has operated since its inception as a pilot started in the summer of 2009.

CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION vs. the DEMOCRATS

As Chicago Teachers Head Toward Strike, Democrats Turn on Their Union

Teachers don't have a political party to which they can turn any longer. The Democrats are no longer the party of public education. NEA and AFT have given their endorsement without receiving anything in return as the Obama administration continues to sell America's public schools to corporate interests. Why are we, as a profession, supporting people who are determined to destroy us? Forget the seat at the table. Stand up for public education.
Have Democrats abandoned teacher unions in their pursuit of a corporate-backed education overhaul? From the looks of the Democratic National Convention, it would seem so.

At the podium, speakers like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt praised the Obama administration’s willingness to embrace such change, singling out the controversial Race to the Top program for special attention. The program requires states to link teacher evaluations to student standardized test scores and pushes charter schools and ‘turnarounds’—in which at least 50 percent of teachers are fired—to replace struggling public schools.

TONY BENNETT

Bennett Wants Ability To Take Over Entire School Districts

The Republicans used to be the party of "local control." Tony Bennett is all for taking control away from the people.
Bennett says his department is already grading districts the way individual schools are assigned letter grades. House Education committee chairman Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) says state takeover of entire school districts is an avenue worth exploring.

CORPORATE CHARTERS

WWC Review of the Report “Charter-School* Management Organizations: Diverse Strategies and Diverse Student Impacts”

Yet another study finding that charter schools are not the magic bullet. They are no better than public schools. The problem is not public education or public school teachers. It's poverty. What other nation in the world would accept a poverty rate of nearly one fourth of its children?
The study found that, on average, CMOs did not have a statistically significant impact on middle school student performance on state assessments in math, reading, science, or social studies. Similarly, there was not a statistically significant impact of CMOs on graduation rates and rates of post-secondary enrollment for high school students. However, there was substantial variation in the direction, magnitude and statistical significance of the impacts for individual CMOs.

"REFORMERS"

School ‘Reform’: A Failing Grade
So, yes, there is a crisis in education, a crisis caused by ill-considered federal legislation that sets utopian targets and then punishes schools and educators when they cannot meet impossible goals. As a result, cheating scandals have been discovered in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Baltimore, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. Some people do terrible things when faced with unreasonable targets and draconian punishment.

The response to the current crisis in education tends to reflect two different worldviews. On one side are those who call themselves “reformers.” The reformers believe that the schools can be improved by more testing, more punishment of educators (also known as “accountability”), more charter schools, and strict adherence to free-market principles in relation to employees (teachers) and consumers (students). On the other are those who reject the reformers’ proposals and emphasize the importance of addressing the social conditions—especially poverty—that are the root causes of poor academic achievement. Many of these people—often parents in the public school system, experienced teachers, and scholars of education—favor changes based on improving curriculum, facilities, and materials, improving teacher recruitment and preparation, and attending to the cognitive, social, and emotional development of children. The critics of test-based accountability and free-market policies do not have a name, so the reformers call them “anti-reform.” It might be better to describe them as defenders of common sense and sound education.

POLITICS

“Failing Schools” Narrative a Tactic to Privatize Public Education and Destroy Unions
The Obama campaign has recently tried to squeeze their opponent on the issue of education, leading to anomalous situations like Obama criticizing Romney for supporting class size increases that his own Education Secretary agrees with. There is probably a debate to be had between the two campaigns over education, one that comes down mostly to resources. But the philosophy underpinning both sides on education comes from a similar place – the idea that America is slipping behind the rest of the world on education, and that drastic measures must be taken to reverse that trend. Usually these drastic measures fall directly on the heads of teachers and more specifically their unions.

There’s one problem with this scenario – the premise is wrong.
Both political parties are in favor of things which research has shown don't work; merit pay for teachers, evaluations of teachers and schools based on students' test scores, increasing numbers of charter schools, and the general privatization of America's public education. No Child Left Behind has been a failure. Race to the Top forces states to adopt unproven strategies for education. Neither has provided more support to struggling schools.

See pages 35 to 37 of the Republican Platform.
See page 5 (and following) of the Democratic Platform.

*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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