"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

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012 Medley #24

Tony Bennett, "Bad" Schools, International Tests, Poverty,
Why Teachers Quit, Privatization.


TONY BENNETT: Sha-na-na-na, Good-bye.

Much has been written about the State of Florida picking up the contract of Indiana's rejected education leader.

School chief Bennett is chosen for Florida post

Of course...Bennett can't accept that the voters decided he wasn't doing what they wanted him to do. Instead of looking at reality he again credits 58,000 Indiana teachers, only some of whom are members of the Indiana State Teachers Association and Indiana Federation of teachers, for garnering 1.3 million votes against him.
“Many people would say that the Indiana teachers unions are probably part of the reason I wasn’t elected because of much of the same blowback,” Bennett said then.
Who are the "many people" who would say that? Right...Tony and Mitch. Good-bye and good riddance to both of you.


Bennett to Florida: Sure, why not?
Personally I wish Bennett well. One hopes he learned from the election that, if you want to build a consensus for reform, you shouldn’t start by bashing teachers and going out of your way to undermine support for public schools.

But it will be interesting to see how he fares politically in a state that’s bigger and more diverse than Indiana. As the Indiana schools chief, Bennett was the front man, but he was implementing an agenda that was strongly supported by Gov. Mitch Daniels. After the 2010 elections, Republicans dominated the House and Senate and were willing to do whatever Daniels and Bennett wanted.

Florida is under Republican control, too. But Gov. Rick Scott has been quoted as saying the state’s emphasis on test-based accountability may have gone too far, an idea that would be anathema to Bennett and his national supporters. Scott’s statement welcoming Bennett’s appointment focused not on Bennett but on his own education agenda, which centers on college and career readiness.
Tony Bennett Lands on his Feet in Florida
Bennett is the hero to the rightwing “reform” sector, a champion of privatization, vouchers, charters, online for-profit schools, and the Common Core. His last action in Indiana was to lower standards for new trackers and principals, so that no preparation was needed to become a teacher and anyone could become a principal with only two years of experience as a teacher, even in higher education.
A trip south for Tony Bennett
His appointment won't please a number of education groups, whose leaders submitted a letter to Gov. Rick Scott asking him to reject Bennett and the two other finalists for the job.

"We will not be silent as our state Board of Education, who serves at your pleasure, considers candidates who are a comfortable fit for them, but a poor choice for the 2.74 million public school children who will bear the brunt of this decision," states the letter. "We strongly urge you to convince the Board of Education to reject these last-minute political applicants, who are not the product of a thoughtful search independent of ideology."

The letter is signed by the president of the Florida PTA and representatives of eight other education groups, including Parents Across America.

IF IT AIN'T BROKE...

Poll: Majority happy with public schools

The changes to Indiana's public education system -- decreased teacher rights, merit pay, increased testing, increased charters, vouchers -- were all done because of the so-called failure of our public schools.
Most of us are satisfied with the quality of public school education in Indiana.

That's one of the conclusions of the new, WISH-TV / Ball State University Hoosier Survey.

Considering some of what we heard around Election Day, that may be a little surprising. Part of the election's education argument hinged on school vouchers, using public money to send kids to private or parochial schools.

Our poll found 28% of the people surveyed support expanding the voucher program. That's down six points from last year.
It's interesting that the cry of "failing schools" and "bad teachers" is shouted even though most parents give their local schools and teachers high grades.

Where are all the "bad" schools?
Where are all the Bad Teachers?



INTERNATIONAL TESTS

The latest TIMSS and PIRLS test results have been published and the hand-wringing has begun. Here are a couple of rational responses...

The Test Ranking Obsession
The results from the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study showed our fourth- and eighth-grade students continuing to lag behind their counterparts in several East Asian and some European countries. The results from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study showed our fourth-graders coming in sixth....

...too little emphasis is given to the role that poverty plays in test results. The U.S. has the highest rate of childhood poverty of any country in the industrialized world...Research has shown time and again the correlation between poverty and performance. For example, middle-class students in suburban schools score near the top on tests of international competition. If poverty is an excuse, as critics assert, then how do they explain this finding? I've never heard a convincing answer.
Exclusive! Pasi Sahlberg on TIMSS and PIRLS
One may also conclude that these international standardized tests are becoming global curriculum standards. Indeed, OECD has observed that its PISA test is already playing an important role in national policy making and education reforms in many countries. Schools, teachers and students are now prepared in advance to take these tests. Learning materials are adjusted to fit to the style of these assessments. Life in many schools around the world is becoming split into important academic study that these tests measure, and other not-so-important study that these measurements don’t cover. Kind of a GERM in grand scale.

POVERTY

Today's Assignment

This is phrased incorrectly. There is no secret. The proponents of the status quo of testing, closing schools and privatization simply ignore the fact of poverty.
The dirty little secret of education reform is that one of the greatest predictors of academic success is household income. Even the standardized tests used for college admissions, like the S.A.T.s, are essentially proxies for income: students from better-off backgrounds get higher scores. The educational system is supposed to be an engine of opportunity and social readjustment, but in some ways it operates as a perpetuator of the status quo.

WHY TEACHERS QUIT

RI Teacher Says"I Quit!"

Teachers are frustrated by being forced to run their classrooms in ways which they know are detrimental to student learning. How many good teachers are quitting to get away from the mind-numbing insanity of more tests, school closings and teacher bashing?
“I would rather leave my secure $70,000 a year job, with benefits and tutor in Connecticut for free than be part of a system that is diamterically opposed to everything I believe education should be.”






PRIVATIZATION and CHARTERS*

School privatization reduces choice – public schools ensure community ownership, innovation and local control

Privatizing public education...taking the decision making away from the community and giving it to corporate interests...limits choices.
Each of the following rights or choices under current law would be notably absent if public funds were used to support private schools:
  1. Your choice of which trustees to vote for and elect to represent the community and oversee how the school district spends taxpayer funds.
  2. Your choice of whether to support requests for funding and other voted matters required to be placed before the voters by public schools.
  3. Your right to observe, participate in and challenge the deliberations and decisions of public schools through open meeting laws.
  4. Your right to know and assess how well the schools you are supporting with your taxes are performing on various standardized measures of student performance. Private schools are exempt assessing and disclosing their performance to the public.
  5. Your right to enroll your child in a school. Unlike public schools, which are required to serve all resident school-aged children, private schools have the right to deny admission for a variety of reasons that would be unlawful if used as a basis for denial of admission in a public school.
 Charter Schools Under-Enroll Students With Special Needs, New Review Finds

The results of a charter study in New York. Do charters, as a whole, push out (or not accept to begin with) difficult to education students? You bet they do.
...the results are very much consistent. It confirms that charter schools are systematically under-enrolling students with special needs.

The report, New York State Special Education Enrollment Analysis, by Robin Lake, Betheny Gross, and Patrick Denice, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by professor Bruce Baker of Rutgers University. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

“While the report does show that under-enrollment patterns vary by grade level and to some extent by location, it downplays the fact that the largest subset of charter schools in its sample—elementary and K-8 schools, most of which are in New York City—do systematically under-enroll such children,” Baker writes.

Baker offers praise for some elements of the study but also points out that the authors skewed the selection of schools they examined in ways that stacked the deck in favor of finding less of an imbalance. But the report still found that district schools enrolled proportionally more disabled children than charters – albeit not to the degree that an unskewed comparison of schools would likely have found.

*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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