"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, June 24, 2015

2015 Medley #20

Privatization, Poverty, Teachers, CCSS, Support for Public Education, End High Stakes Testing


PRIVATIZATION

Does the average American really understand what's happening to our system of public education? The common knowledge portrayed by the media and corporatizers is based on myths and outright falsehood. Such as...
  • ...the growth of charter schools and vouchers are necessary because public schools are failures. People believe this since the media blasts it out every chance it gets...the media supported and paid for by the privatizers, of course. The truth is that American public schools are not failing. American society is failing to deal with the level of poverty in our nation.
  • objections to privatization from teachers are suspect because teachers unions are "only in it for the money." The fact that states with strong unions have higher achieving students than states with weak unions doesn't get mentioned. Is it coincidence that lower achieving states, with weak unions, also have higher levels of poverty? Teachers and their unions aren't the problem. Poverty is.
  • teaching isn't really that hard to do...with short days, high pay, and summers off. No mention is made of the extremely high turnover rate in teaching (due to the difference between its perceived simplicity and its actual difficulty), the length of time teachers actually work on any given day, and the amount of work done during "vacations."
  • See (Myths and Facts)
  • K-12 tenure means that people believe teachers continue to teach even after they are past their prime -- and have a job for life no matter how ineffective they are. Tenure, in K-12 education, is simply "due process" which isn't explained well and is commonly misunderstood. Privatizers encourage this misunderstanding.
  • standardized testing is necessary to hold teachers and schools accountable. The fact is that tests are misused by people who should know better. Those who do -- the testing companies -- aren't going to cut into their profits by telling states and school systems to use fewer tests. No one admits that the tests are invalid for evaluating teachers and schools. Privatizers gloss over the fact that poverty level is the single most important factor in a child's score on a standardized test.
These myths are ubiquitous. How can we help people learn the truth beyond the corporate party line?


State throwing good money after bad

Privatization in Indiana continues. More and more money is being diverted from public education into a growing number of charter schools and the state's voucher program. Charter schools in Indiana, for example, got a raise this year including the opportunity to use $50 million in loans...on top of the $90 million of forgiven loans from 2013.
As the Indiana legislative session for 2015 entered its final hours, a last-minute gift was thrown into the budget for the state’s 79 charter schools. They were given a boost of $500 per pupil in new funding, along with the ability to tap into $50 million in loans for capital projects. The addition was made without discussion, without a hearing, without public input, and obviously without concern for the taxpayers.

Gov. Mike Pence has made it his mission to “improve” education in the state by taking money away from the public school system, rearranging funding to benefit suburban, affluent, predominately Caucasian schools, and otherwise bending the system to the advantage of those most likely to vote for him next fall. Meanwhile, public schools serving those students most in need of resources continue to struggle and are encouraged to compete against one another for the high-achieving students who bring with them the promise of greater funding via performance incentives.

Indiana: $50 Million Loan Program for Charters Needs Scrutiny
“The main concern: Who will be on the hook if charter schools don’t repay the loans?”

The usual answer: the taxpayers of Indiana.

“In 2013, the state forgave and paid off more than $90 million in charter school loans. The move drew protests from traditional public schools whose loans were not forgiven and consequently charter schools were no longer given access to the loan money.

“Kenley said Pence and House Speaker Brian Bosma plan to do the same thing again with the new loan program — an assertion that neither denied outright.

“It’s always a possibility in the future,” Bosma said.


Report: Cost of school vouchers jumps from $16M to $40M

Indiana taxpayers are supporting religious schools...and that support (as well as support for secular private schools accepting vouchers) has increased from $16 million to $40 million in one year. The state supreme court has ruled that vouchers are not "tax supported religion" which would be disallowed by the state constitution, so the church (and synagogue and mosque) coffers continue to swell with our tax dollars.
The cost of Indiana’s private school voucher program jumped from $16 million to $40 million during the past school year, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Department of Education.

Critics of the voucher program say the report proves that subsidizing private education is costly and unsustainable. But supporters say the new figure is misleading.

At issue are publicly funded vouchers that families who meet certain income requirements can use to send students to private schools.

More than 29,100 students received vouchers during the recently completed academic year, up from about 19,800 the year before. Those numbers make Indiana’s program one of the largest in the nation.
What are the privatizers motives? For some, it's simply money. Textbook and test publishing companies like Pearson are reaping huge profits from the privatization of public education and the myth of public school failure.

For other privatizers the motive is ideological. Friedmanesque privatizers are true believers when it comes to the marketplace. They believe that the "free market," and only the "free market," will provide good results. My interpretation of what they understand as "good results" is "Them that's got shall have...Them that's not shall lose."

Religious privatizers believe that public schools teach communism, atheism, secular humanism, and other blasphemous philosophies. These theocrats want a church controlled nation with church controlled education.

Peter Greene gives us a good overview of the privatization movement focusing on the money motive...

Privatizing Primer
You may wonder how this is sustainable. It isn't, and it isn't meant to be. Charters routinely drop out of the business, move on, dissolve and reform under new names, getting out of Dodge before they have to offer proof of success. This churn and burn is a feature, not a bug, and it is supposed to foster excellence. To date, there is no evidence that it does so.

But in the long term, we get a two-tier system. One is composed of private, profit-generating school-like businesses that will serve some of the students. The other is a vestigal public system, under-funded and under-served, but still serving as "proof" that public schools are failure factories and so we must have a state-run system.

POVERTY

Poverty matters. Two more articles reminding us that the problem with America's public education system is not bad teachers or low test scores, but the fact that nearly one-fourth of our children live in poverty.

Stress in low-income families can affect children's learning
Children living in low-income households who endure family instability and emotionally distant caregivers are at risk of having impaired cognitive abilities according to new research from the University of Rochester.

Poverty's enduring hold on school success
...poverty remains a frustratingly accurate predictor of how well schools will perform. Schools full of middle-class kids rarely perform below average on state tests; schools made up of low-income kids rarely score above.

In fact, test score data in Illinois indicate that the degree to which poverty is tied to school performance is slightly stronger than it was a decade ago—despite reforms that have included school re-staffings, closures, consolidations, new state standards and more stringent guidelines for evaluating teachers. 



FEWER TEACHERS ENTERING...MORE TEACHERS LEAVING

More and more teachers in Indiana opt for early retirement

The privatizers' plan for the teaching profession? Make teaching unattractive so professionals will leave or not even start. Lower standards to include inadequately trained personnel. Hire temps (TFA) at lower costs.

Not only are schools of education enrolling fewer teacher candidates, but more and more current teachers are leaving the profession early.
While some would argue this is only a short term problem, others say this makes teaching less attractive and creates another long term problem.

"They're going to have to find a way to make the profession attractive again for new teachers to say in the profession and for teachers who are experienced to stay in the profession until retirement," Lynn said.



COMMON CORE TESTING MACHINE

Can We Rescue the Common Core Standards from the Testing Machine?

The Common Core is money machine...driving up profits for Pearson.
Well, if I am enriching above and beyond the CCSS, what do I need the CCSS for? If the CCSS is not laying out a path for a full, quality education, what path is it marking?

It’s laying out the path to the test. The CCSS are just the largest scale test-prep guide ever created. The CCSS tell us what we need to cover for the test, and the test tells us how well we covered it. If there were no test, the CCSS would not matter.

The CCSS are also, of course, about making money. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) also wanted to bust into the big piggy bank that is public school funding, but NCLB was a big, blunt hammer; CCSS is a more sophisticated machine with many interlocking parts.

In fact, the biggest reason that CCSS cannot be rescued is directly related to the difficulties those of us who write about education have had in explaining the problems with CCSS. And it is probably the biggest lesson that the powers that be learned from NCLB.


BLOGGERS: SUPPORT FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

Teachers: Who’s on your side? Where can you go for people dedicated to truth-telling for democracy?

Here is where you can get information about the privatization movement and its impact on public education. Read and learn.
There are times when a teacher needs to have the facts, simple or complex. For complex information, very often there are multiple facets that need to be examined from different points of view. Who can you turn to when faced with the overwhelming problems that surround you? Who has no personal power base or money to gain from the information? What group of people will offer you unbiased facts and their experienced perspectives for you to consider?

The EduBloggersNetwork, a group of over 200 individual bloggers with solid education backgrounds and unique perspectives from schools across the country, are respected for their varied experiences and focus. They do not march in lock-step nor are they paid by billionaires and their tax-free mega-wealthy foundations which are heavily invested (for profit) in corporate education reform.

During one of the online conversations that questioned each blogger’s reasoning for blogging in support of teachers against incredible pressures backed by billionaire investors, one blogger’s comment in particular touched the heart of the subject.



OPPOSE HIGH STAKES TESTING

NPE Forms Coalition of Education and Civil Rights Groups to Oppose High-Stakes Testing
We, the below undersigned organizations, oppose high-stakes testing because we believe these tests are causing harm to students, to public schools, and to the cause of educational equity. High-stakes standardized tests, rather than reducing the opportunity gap, have been used to rank, sort, label, and punish Black and Latino students, and recent immigrants to this country.

We oppose high-stakes tests because:
There is no evidence that these tests contribute to the quality of education, have led to improved educational equity in funding or programs, or have helped close the “achievement gap.”

High-stakes testing has become intrusive in our schools, consuming huge amounts of time and resources, and narrowing instruction to focus on test preparation.

Many of these tests have never been independently validated or shown to be reliable and/or free from racial and ethnic bias.

High-stakes tests are being used as a political weapon to claim large numbers of students are failing, to close neighborhood public schools, and to fire teachers, all in the effort to disrupt and privatize the public education system.


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The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.
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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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