"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, December 30, 2017

...in which I rant about poor word choices and ignorant teachers.

Arghhh! The ignorance! The dumbassiness! It hurts!

SUPERIOR

In a recent post (which I first read about in Mercedes Schneider's blog entry, Teacher Workload vs. Teacher Salary: And the Winner Is...) blogger Paul Murphy wrote that teachers complain about their workload and low pay because it makes them feel superior.
Teachers who talk about working 12-hour days and going in on weekends and spending thousands of their own dollars aren’t actually complaining about it. They’re proud of it. They believe it’s proof of their dedication. It makes them feel superior to those who aren’t as selfless.
Wrong!


I was a teacher for nearly four decades...and I talked about how much work it was to be a teacher, but it wasn't bragging. Most of the time I was trying to explain to people who have no clue what teaching actually entails, that it's a real job. It takes a lot of work to do it well.

I never felt "pride" that I was working for free or paying for classroom supplies with my own money. On the contrary, I often felt it was shameful that our nation's children were such a low priority that the workers felt obligated to subsidize the employers.

Teachers spend extra money and time on our classrooms because we put our students first. Pride? Not really. Necessity? You bet. Murphy even admits that he wouldn’t stop doing those extra things…and he goes on in a subsequent post to explain further. Teachers need to organize, work the contract and by doing so, let their employers know that they won't work for nothing. This, he admits, is easier said than done. I agree.

My disagreement with Murphy is in his language choices. Teachers don't talk about their jobs to "feel superior." We're not "proud" of our sacrifices. We do them because we care about our students.

DECORATIONS

He added,
With the end of summer closing in, many teachers will be heading into their classrooms to donate some work. They’ll spend hours decorating their rooms...
Murphy was speaking specifically of elementary teachers (although I know secondary teachers who go in early and stay late, as well). We go in early and we donate work. Why? Because the work has to get done, and if we only work the hours for which we're paid our students will be the poorer for it.

And, I should add, it's not all decorating, something Murphy, as an elementary teacher, ought to know. Decorating a classroom is not like putting up Christmas lights, Thanksgiving turkeys, or Valentine's Day hearts, although that might be part of it. We also display motivational posters, calendars, word walls, charts, maps. Those are better labeled teaching tools not decorations. We use those teaching tools for the benefit of the students. So, when I went in to school a week early to get things ready, aside from making sure that materials were ready for students, and making sure that the classroom looked inviting, I also made sure that there were necessary teaching tools available for use during classroom instruction.


WHINING

Finally, he wrote,
...what struck me, as it always does, is the contradiction between whining about low pay and bragging about working for free.
Again, not bragging! And not whining about low pay, either. Are school boards accused of whining about money when they claim, "we haven't got enough money for a 1% across the board raise"? Are legislators accused of whining when they say, "this is all we can afford to budget for public education this year"?

Our so-called "whining" about pay is really an objection to the lack of full funding from the state. Local school systems are forced to choose between providing a full curriculum with sufficient materials, or a well paid staff. They often cannot do both.

HOW HARD CAN IT BE?

But, again, the common knowledge is that teachers don't really work that hard, so why pay them like other professionals? Teaching is easy. After all, they have all that time off in the summer, get to go home at 3 pm every day, and only have to spend their days with a bunch of kids. How hard can it be?

That "common knowledge" is the reason teachers need to talk about how much work they do, how much they spend on their classrooms, and how little they're paid in relation to how much they do and how much other professionals with equal training are paid.

My objections (whining?) are with Murphy's word choices...I agree with much of what he wrote, but bragging, decorating, and whining, are not only incorrect descriptions of what teachers do, they're (IMHO) demeaning. Words matter.


And, as if on cue, there appeared a comment to Mercedes Schneider's blog supporting the aforementioned "common knowledge" about teachers...
Socrates

Those elementary teachers sure are precious, aren’t they? They ought to spend some time trying to grade labs or essays only during the time that they’re at school. Working overtime as a high school teacher *is* doing the minimum. Sheesh.
Yes, it's true. The comment about how easy teachers have it (in this case, elementary teachers) was written by...a teacher.

Socrates is apparently a high school teacher who thinks that elementary teachers have it easy because we don't have to grade labs or essays and we don't have to work extra hours. We are, apparently, "precious" because we have it so easy, and if we really want to work hard we would have become secondary teachers!

Socrates is obviously ignorant about what goes on in an elementary classroom.

Now it wouldn't be hard to find an elementary teacher who is equally ignorant about secondary teachers – Someone who might say, "they get to go home early every day"..."they don't have to worry about recess duty, bus duty, or cafeteria duty"..."they get a whole period for prep time (or lunch)"..."they may have two or three preps a day, but elementary teachers have seven, eight, or even nine different subjects they have to teach every day"...and so on.

Luckily for both sets of ignoramuses, I know differently. I know from experience how hard elementary teachers work. I know from observation how hard secondary teachers work.

There are differences between elementary and secondary teachers, which we won't get into right now. Suffice it to say, however, that those secondary teachers, like Socrates, who think that elementary teachers don't work just as hard as they do, are wrong...wrong...wrong.

And vice versa.

It's teachers like Socrates who perpetuate the stereotype of "teaching as an easy job," and Murphy, who use demeaning language, perpetuating the myth that teachers complain without justification, who make life hard for the rest of us.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

My Year-End Favorites

The "Year's Bests" and "Year's Mosts" list...images, blog posts, quotes, podcasts, and books.

Thanks for reading...

MY FAVORITE BLOG POST OF THE YEAR: by SOMEONE ELSE

The Success of America's Public Schools

U.S. Public Schools Are NOT Failing. They’re Among the Best in the World

In which Steven Singer teaches us how well our public schools are doing. Facts matter.

From Steven Singer
...America’s public schools are NOT failing. They are among the best in the world. Really!

Here’s why: the United States educates everyone. Most other countries do not.

We have made a commitment to every single child regardless of what their parents can afford to pay, regardless of their access to transportation, regardless of whether they can afford uniforms, lunch or even if they have a home. Heck! We even provide education to children who are here illegally.


FAVORITE BLOG POSTS: MINE

My Own Favorite Blog Post of the Year

The Myth of America's Failing Public Schools

I follow Steven Singer's post with one of my own about the amazing success of America's public schools.
When she looks at the U.S. international test scores, Secretary DeVos, and other policy makers see "failing schools." This is wrong. The low average scores, and the even lower scores aggregated for low income students, indicate that economic inequity is overwhelming the infrastructure of our public school systems. Instead of blaming public schools, politicians and policy makers must take responsibility for ending the shameful rate of child poverty and inequity in America.

My Most Popular Blog Post of the Year

Kill the Teaching Profession: Indiana and Wisconsin Show How It's Done

This post about how Indiana and Wisconsin are destroying the teaching profession,  received the most attention of anything I wrote this year, picking up several thousand hits.

From Live Long and Prosper
...in order to offset the loss of teaching staff in the state, rules for becoming a teacher have been relaxed...

...because nothing says increased achievement more than hiring under qualified personnel.

FAVORITE IMAGE

Trump fires Lady Liberty.

Retired Chicago-area teacher Fred Klonsky provides an editorial comment about the nation's immigration policy. This sums up the year accurately...

From Fred Klonsky


FAVORITE ED PODCAST

Have you Heard: Truth in Edvertising

With a "market-based" education economy comes advertising. Jennifer Berkshire, Jack Schneider, and their guest, Sarah Butler Jessen, discuss "edvertising". If you are at all concerned about the privatization of public education you owe it to yourself to listen to this.

From Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider
...in schooling certainly there is a private good aspect to it. But schooling is also a public good. It's something that benefits our society, our neighborhoods, our communities. It benefits the most advantaged, but it also benefits the least advantaged at least theoretically. So when we acting as consumers, we're only acting in alignment with the private good aspect of education.

So think for instance, buying an alarm for your house versus trying to cultivate safer cities or safer neighborhoods. Whereas one of those is an inherently private good. The alarm is only going to protect me and my family. The public good is going to benefit everyone in the community and that's not something I can promote via shopping.
FAVORITE QUOTABLES

My favorite quotes from the year...from actual, real-life educators.

The Hypocrisy of "Choice"

Testing Opt Out: Parent Wants Conference; School Calls Police *Just in Case*

From Mercedes Schneider
One of the great contradictions within corporate ed reform is the promoting of a “parental choice” that stops short of the parent’s choice to opt his or her children out of federal- and state-mandated standardized testing.


Poverty

School Choice Opponents and the Status Quo

From Russ Walsh
Those of us who continue to point out that poverty is the real issue in education are accused of using poverty as an excuse to do nothing. Right up front let me say I am against the status quo and I have spent a lifetime in education trying to improve teacher instruction and educational opportunities for the struggling readers and writers I have worked with. To point out the obvious, that poverty is the number one cause of educational inequity, does not make me a champion for the status quo. It simply means that I will not fall prey to the false promise of super-teachers, standardized test driven accountability, merit pay, charter schools, and vouchers, all of which are futile efforts to put a thumb in the overflowing dyke that is systematic discrimination, segregation, income inequity, and, yes, poverty.

2 School Districts, 1 Ugly Truth

From John Kuhn
Educational malpractice doesn't happen in the classroom. The greatest educational malpractice in the Unites States happens in the statehouse not the school house.

If we truly cared about how our students end up, we would have shared accountability, where everyone whose fingerprints are on these students of ours, has to answer for the choices that they make.

MOST IMPORTANT BOOK I READ IN 2017

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century

We need to learn from history.

By Timothy Snyder
Lesson 10: Believe in Truth: To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
Publisher's Description
The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.
Here's a video of Timothy Snyder talking about his book, HERE.


2018 TO-READ BOOK LIST

Books I hope to get to in 2018...

The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better, by Daniel Koretz

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America, by Nancy MacLean

These Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can't Afford to Abandon Our Public Schools, by Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi

Addicted to Reform: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education, by John Merrow

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

2017 Medley #34

Reading Crisis in California, Ed-Reform in Indiana,
Civics Education, Charters, Politics, 

READING CRISIS: IT'S POVERTY, STUPID

California’s Reading Crisis: Why Aren’t U.S. Kids Reading Well?

Why are so many kids struggling with reading? The vast majority of students' reading difficulties are due to lack of opportunities...before they even get to school. Students who grow up in poverty deal with out-of-school factors which contribute to lowered achievement. David C. Berliner lists seven such factors which get in the way of achievement.
(1) low birth-weight and non-genetic prenatal influences on children;
(2) inadequate medical, dental, and vision care, often a result of inadequate or no medical insurance;
(3) food insecurity;
(4) environmental pollutants;
(5) family relations and family stress;
(6) neighborhood characteristics;
(7) extended learning opportunities, such as preschool, after school, and summer school programs that can help to mitigate some of the harm caused by the first six factors.
Until we can successfully eliminate or reduce the shameful rate of childhood poverty in the United States we'll continue to have an economic/racial achievement gap. No amount of charter schools, testing, school closings, vouchers, or other ed "reform" will change that.
But in order to learn how to read it’s important to look at other areas in a child’s life.

If a child doesn’t have access to good health care and they are sick and hungry, they probably aren’t going to learn to read well.


THE DANIELS-PENCE ED-REFORM IN INDIANA

A telling story of school ‘reform’ in Mike Pence’s home state, Indiana

Carol Burris, the Executive Director of the Network for Public Education has researched the ed-reform debacle in Indiana. This is the first of a three part series.
Daniels, who was governor from 2005 to 2013, would earn national recognition for his methodical and persistent undermining of public schools and their teachers in the name of reform.

Pence would follow Daniels as governor, pushing privatization even further. Pence would award even more tax dollars to charter schools and make Indiana’s voucher program one the largest in the country.

Klipsch would start and run a political action committee, Hoosiers for Economic Growth (a.k.a. Hoosiers for Quality Education), that would play a major role in creating a Republican majority in the Indiana House to redistrict the state to assure future Republican control.


A NATION OF IGNORANCE

We Urgently Need Civics Education

Yes, we do!

The decreased focus on civics coincides with No Child Left Behind. No surprise there...
A functioning democracy depends on an informed citizenry, including baseline knowledge of societal laws and institutions. Bafflingly, many schools no longer teach children how our government works, and what basic rights Americans are guaranteed.

Between 2001 and 2007, 36 percent of American school districts decreased focus on social studies and civics, according to a study by George Washington University’s Center on Education Policy. By 2006, just 27 percent of 12th graders were proficient in civics and government, said the National Center for Education Statistics.


PRIVATIZATION: CHARTERS

Schools Choosing Students: How Arizona Charter Schools Engage in Illegal and Exclusionary Student Enrollment Practices and How It Should Be Fixed

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a report about the charter industry in Arizona. They discovered that [surprise!] charter schools have found ways to avoid the accountability forced upon public schools. This is worth examining carefully.
The analysis focused on whether charter schools:

• Discourage the enrollment of students who don’t have strong grades or test scores
• Set an enrollment limit on students with special education needs or have questions in their enrollment documents that may suppress the enrollment of these students
• Discourage or preclude the enrollment of students with disciplinary records
• Have questions in their enrollment documents that may have a chilling effect on non-English speaking parents and students
• Discourage or preclude immigrant students from enrolling by requiring them to provide Social Security numbers or other citizenship information
• Require students and parents to complete pre-enrollment requirements, such as essays, interviews or school tours
• Refuse to enroll students until their parents commit to volunteer at the school or donate money to the school
• Require parents to pay impermissible fees that create barriers to enrollment
• Present other barriers for enrollment or continued enrollment

Some of these exclusionary policies violate state and/or federal laws. The fact that so many Arizona charter schools’ enrollment policies and procedures contain plain legal violations demonstrates a clear failure of accountability. The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools authorizes and governs the vast majority of charter schools. The agency is responsible for ensuring that charter schools follow all laws and abide by the terms of their charter contracts. It is concerning that they have missed these violations of the law, most of which are publicly posted on schools’ websites or written into other widely available documents like student handbooks.

Though similar issues may be occurring within district schools, the ACLU of Arizona chose to focus its research on charter schools after hearing from several parents whose children were denied enrollment or faced barriers to enrollment at charter schools across Arizona.


UNQUALIFIED!

Republican Senator exposes Trump's clueless and wildly unqualified judicial nominee

The Trump administration has nominated candidates to federal judicial positions who are blatantly unqualified. This, for example...



The administration has also appointed cabinet members who want to destroy the department they are in charge of, or have absolutely no idea ("oops") what their department does.

When we talk about unqualified cabinet members we can't forget Betsy DeVos...

Trump education pick painted by Dems as unqualified

This is a good time to remind everyone that the current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is just as unqualified as the nominee for judge in the previous clip.
  • She has no education background.
  • She has no experience in public education, either as a student, parent, or teacher.
  • She knows absolutely nothing about what goes on in a public school.
DeVos is just the latest, and most egregiously unqualified Secretary of Education in a long line of unqualified Secretaries of Education.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, forced DeVos to admit that she has never led an organization akin to the Education Department, and has never used any of the financial aid products she will offer to students as head of it.

"So you have no experience with college financial aid or management of higher education," Warren said.

DeVos was also pressed on civil rights laws dealing with students with disabilities, saying early in the hearing implementation should be left up to the states.

Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire circled back to DeVos near the end of the hearing, informing her the law was a federal statute.

"Federal law must be followed when federal dollars are in play," DeVos said.

"So were you unaware when I just asked you about the (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) that it was a federal law?" Hassan asked.

"I may have confused it," DeVos said.

Require Ed. Secretary Betsy DeVos to Teach in a Public School
Betsy DeVos and any corporate reformer who impacts school policy should be required to spend at least a month each year teaching in a public school classroom.

DeVos just attended Gov. Jeb Bush’s ExcelinEd meeting in Nashville. Let Jeb Bush and his corporate friends and politicians who drive corporate reform also teach for a month.

None of these individuals understand the problems they have created in the classroom. If they taught a class for a month they would see firsthand what they have done.


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Thursday, December 21, 2017

It's Those Other Schools

How good are the public schools in your community? If you're a parent/guardian of a school child, or a teacher in the local schools, chances are you think your schools are pretty good.

If you don't work in a local school, or don't have children who attend local schools, how do you judge the quality of your local schools? Should you rely on news media reports? How about state test scores, or state A-F grades?


LOCAL SCHOOLS GOOD, NATIONAL SCHOOLS BAD

In the annual PDK Poll of the Public's Attitudes Towards Public Schools, published last September, seventy-one percent, almost three-fourths of public school children's parents/guardians, gave their local schools a grade of A or B. Parents of children who attend public schools are among the people who know the schools the best.

Local parents know that their children are more than test scores. They know the teachers, administrators, and staff. Their neighbors work in the cafeteria or on the custodial staff. They appreciate the hard work of school employees.

Why, then, do they ignore the same concepts when it comes to the quality of schools nationally? Only 24% give the nation's schools a grade of A or B. Those same parents who understand that the news media, or test-based school grades don't tell the whole story when it comes to their local community's school, believe the opposite when it comes to schools nationally.

EDUCATORS AGREE

Earlier this month, another survey was published. In this survey it was educators who were asked about the quality of public schools. The results were reported in Education Week's Educator Political Perceptions: A National Survey.

And, surprise! The educators responses were nearly identical to those of parents and guardians of public school students. American educators gave their local schools, the ones they worked in and knew the best, high grades, but nationally, not so much. Seventy-two percent gave their own school systems an A or B. Only 35% graded the nation's schools as an A or B.

From Education Week
Across the board, educators give the public schools in their district better grades than those in the nation as a whole. While 25 percent assign A’s to public schools in their districts, just 3 percent allot that grade to schools in the nation as whole. Clinton and Trump voters assign similar grades both to their own schools and the nation’s schools. Compared to teachers and school-based leaders, district leaders are slightly easier graders of both their districts’ schools and schools in the nation as whole. For example, 34 percent of district leaders assign their districts’ schools an A as compared to 24 percent of teachers and school-based leaders.
In other words, the folks who have the closest contact with schools, either as parents or professionals, grade their local schools high, but their opinions about schools nationally are much lower.

Mathematically, of course, this doesn't make sense. How can the majority of parents and educators "know" that the nation's schools are poor, when that same majority "knows" that their local schools are excellent? Where are all the "failing" schools if not in local communities nationwide? Where are all the "excellent" schools, if not in other people's local communities as well as ours?

There is, of course, a logical answer. People hear about all the "failing" public schools across the nation from the news media, pundits, and politicians. At the same time, they experience relief that their own public schools aren't anything like "those other schools."

Those people whose children attend public schools and those who work in local public schools know more about how the schools are run. They see the work that goes into them. They are the stakeholders. They realize that schools are not perfect – no human institution is – but they understand that schools are more than the sum of their parts.
  • children are more than test scores
  • teachers are more than their students' test scores
  • local schools are more than state grades
But, thanks to politicians, pundits, and policy makers, that understanding doesn't seem to extend to the public schools of the nation, as a whole.

WHO TO BELIEVE

My own local schools, for example, are excellent. I know this is true because my children and grandchildren have attended them...and I have worked in them. I know the teachers, administrators, families, and children. I know that the teachers who work there spend more than just their contracted working hours in order to make the schools responsive to the needs of the children who attend them.

But you might live on the other side of the county (or state, or country)...and you might see that my local schools are not perfect. Sure, this school in the district received a grade of A from the state, and that one got a B, but there's one on the other side of the district which got an F...and one with a D [and you might also notice that the school grades correspond to the neighborhood economic status!]. There are students who struggle, teachers and administrators who fail in their responsibilities, and administrators who have been out of the classroom too long. You might see my local schools' A-F grades and conclude that, at least some of them, are failures.

If these were your local schools, what criteria would you use to determine their quality? Would you listen to the parents and teachers who know what goes on in the school? Or would you rely on the test scores and state A-F grades?

How do we really know how the nation's schools are performing? Are student test scores the most reliable criterion upon which to judge a school?


Further Reading:

For a good discussion of the political perceptions in the Education Week Survey, see Curmudgucation's The Teacher in the Next Room

Are America's public schools "failing?" – The Myth of America's Failing Public Schools

The Myth of America's Failing Public Schools, Part 2

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Listen to This #16

THE FUTURE

The United States seems to be going out of its way to damage public education and discourage public school teachers. We ignore the voices of educators and ignore current educational research (much of which is done in the U.S.) used by high achieving nations. Instead we listen to edupreneurs interested in profit, politicians looking for kickbacks, and policy makers who don't know anything about teaching, public schools, or public education.

We create "failing schools" by defining success using narrow, standardized test-based results and force teachers to teach in ways they know are developmentally or academically inappropriate. In addition we ignore out of school factors that lead to lowered student standardized test-based achievement.

Finally, we create educational models which discourage young people from choosing education as a career and push out current career teachers. We use "failing schools" as an excuse to blame teachers, bust unions, and privatize. Meanwhile, the needs of our most vulnerable students are being neglected.

From Carl Sagan in 1989.
...we have permitted the amount of poverty in children to increase. Before the end of this century more than half the kids in America may be below the poverty line.

What kind of a future do we build for the country if we raise all these kids as disadvantaged, as unable to cope with the society, as resentful for the injustice served up to them. This is stupid.



DISCOURAGING TEACHERS

How America Is Breaking Public Education

From Ethan Siegel, Forbes
...despite knowing what a spectacular teacher looks like, the educational models we have in place actively discourage every one of these.


TEACHING IS MORE THAN FACT TRANSFER

Open Letter to Fellow NC Public School Teachers – What We Do Still Cannot Really Be Measured

This is true for teachers everywhere...

From Stu Egan
How schools and students are measured rarely takes into account that so much more defines the academic and social terrain of a school culture than a standardized test can measure. Why? Because there really is not anything like a standardized student. Experienced teachers understand that because they look at students as individuals who are the sum of their experiences, backgrounds, work ethic, and self-worth. Yet, our General Assembly measures them with the very same criteria across the board with an impersonal test.


WALK A MILE IN OUR SHOES

The Educational Malpractice of Ms. Moskowitz

tl;dr: Before you tell teachers what and how to teach, do it yourself. Then, after you've taught for a lifetime, let us know how you feel about someone who has never spent a day in a classroom calling you "stupid" and "lazy."

This is a long quote, but well worth it...and click the link above to read the whole article.

From Mitchell Robinson on Eclectablog
I am beyond tired—beyond exhausted, really—of persons who have never taught anyone anything lecturing the rest of us who have about what we are doing wrong, how stupid we are, how lazy we are, and how they know better than we do when it comes to everything about teaching and learning. How about this, Eva and Elizabeth?–instead of pontificating about things you are equally arrogant and ignorant of, why don’t you each go back to school, get an education degree, or two, or three, get certified, do an internship (for free–in fact, pay a bunch of money to do so), or two, or three, then see if you can find a job in a school. Then, teach.I don’t care what you teach; what grade level; what subject. But stick it out for at least a school year. Write your lesson plans. Grade your papers and projects. Go to all of those grade level meetings, and IEP meetings, and school board meetings, and budget negotiation meetings, and union meetings, and curriculum revision meetings, and curriculum re-revision meetings, and teacher evaluation meetings, and “special area” meetings, and state department of education meetings, and professional development in-services, and parent-teacher conferences, and open houses, and attend all those concerts, and football games, and dance recitals, and basketball games, and soccer matches, and lacrosse games, and honor band concerts, and school musicals, and tennis matches, and plays, and debates, and quiz bowl competitions, and marching band shows, and cheerleading competitions, and swim meets.

Then do it all 10, or 20, or 30 more times, and let me know how you feel about someone who never did ANY of these things, even for a “few lessons“, telling you how stupid, and lazy you are, and how you’re being a “defender of the status quo” if you’re not really excited to immediately implement their “radical, disruptive” ideas about how to “save public education.”


WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF EDUCATION?

IN: Diminishing Education

The Indiana State Board of Education ignored the input of dozens of teachers and administrators. They didn't ignore the input from the Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Manufacturers Association by a vote of 7-4. All four of the "no" votes came from experienced educators.

Who do you think knows more about public education, educators or business people?

From Peter Greene
But to say that you cannot graduate until you prove that you can be a useful meat widget for a future employer-- that idea represents a hollowing out of educational goals. Be a good citizen? Become a fine parent? Lifelong learning? Developing a deeper, better more well-rounded picture of who you can become as a person, while better understanding what it means to be human in the world? Screw that stuff, kid. Your future employer has the only question that matters-- "What can you do for me, kid?"

Earning an Indiana high school diploma just became a lot more complicated

From NWI.com
The new requirements are strongly supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Manufacturers Association...

Teachers, principals and superintendents from across Indiana told the state school board during six hours of public testimony Wednesday that the rush to adopt graduation pathways before finalizing how they'll work inevitably will result in another Indiana education fiasco, akin to extra-long standardized testing and the repeatedly revised school accountability grades.


WHY DON'T WE USE OUR OWN RESEARCH?

FreshEd #97 - Should we copy Finland’s education system? (Pasi Sahlberg)

This run-on quote by Finnish educator Past Sahlberg asks why high performing nations are using the newest research on education, much of it coming out of the United States...but we, in the U.S. are ignoring it and continuing our test and punish ways?

From Pasi Sahlberg
...why people are not really taking their own research seriously? How can it be that in the United States, day in and day out, people come across great books and research reports and others and they say, no, this is not how it goes, but when you cross the border, just north of the US, go to Canada, and you see how differently policy makers, politicians, and everybody takes the global international research nowadays, and they consider their findings and look at the findings of the research compared to their own practice and policies and their finding inconsistencies there just like in Finland, they are willing and able to change the course. But not in the US.


BUDGET CONSTRAINTS

Billionaires get handouts. My students don’t even get toilet paper.

Would you work at a place where the budget was so tight that you were allotted one roll of toilet paper a year?

Could you run your classroom on one roll of toilet paper per school year? How can a "civilized" society treat any of its citizens in this manner? How can we treat our children like this?

"There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children." – Nelson Mandela.

From Katherine Brezler, a second-grade teacher in The Bronx and a candidate for New York State Senate in the 37th District.
While billionaires get a handout, my students — and students across the country — get one roll of toilet paper. Every year that I’ve been a teacher, that roll is gone well before the year is over. Simple hygienic necessities should not be subject to budget constraints. Our teachers and students deserve dignity and respect.


FACING RACISM

Looking Back: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I've been saving this quote. It contains material which has been difficult for me to confront. The Looking Back article, from the blog, Reading While White, deals with the children's book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, its racist content, and the racism of its author, Roald Dahl.

There is no denying that Roald Dahl was a racist and anti-semite and those prejudices leaked into his work. [See here, here, and here.] I accept that.

I accept the fact that Dahl and his agents attempted to purge the book of its more blatant expressions of racism by rewriting the Oompa Loompas as non-black and non-African pygmies in the second and later editions, as well as the movies based on the book. I also accept that those rewrites did not completely remove all offensive elements from the book.

The quote below deals with how to come to terms with a beloved book, and I do love this book, which is so obviously flawed. The author wonders if her love of the book was not based on the actual book, but on the circumstances of her exposure: a favorite teacher and a highly motivating environment and study of the book.

What if, she asks, we had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory critically?

[Full disclosure: My son, a children's librarian in the Midwest, is one of the authors of the Reading While White blog, though he did not write this particular post.]

From Elisa Gall in Reading While White
...every time that critical voice or bubble of discomfort arose, I chose not to pay attention to it. It was selective memory, because I did not want to let this book go. I have to call that what it really is: White fragility (and other kinds of fragility, considering the myriad ways this book is problematic). I can’t help but wonder now if my love for this book wasn’t caused by Dahl’s craft at all, but by the joy of remembering reading the book all by myself, or the kickass teacher who made her class immersive and fun (let’s not forget the bathtub). Still, it's worth noting that criticisms of this book are not new. As long as there have been children's books, there have been people working against racism in children's books. My teacher was awesome in a lot of ways, but she did put time and effort into a celebration of THAT title. What if we had read something else? Or what if we had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory critically?


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Friday, December 15, 2017

The Bill of Rights, 1791

The United States Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, was ratified on this date, December 15, in 1791.


THE FIRST AMENDMENT: CURRENT CIVIC IGNORANCE

The First Amendment within the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, religion, a free press, assembly, and petition.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
Today, many Americans are unfamiliar with the details of the First Amendment. The recent Annenberg Center civics survey revealed that American's knowledge of the First Amendment is sorely lacking.
Nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) say that freedom of speech is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment. But, unprompted, 37 percent could not name any First Amendment rights. And far fewer people could name the other First Amendment rights: 15 percent of respondents say freedom of religion; 14 percent say freedom of the press; 10 percent say the right of assembly; and only 3 percent say the right to petition the government.
The chart below shows the number associated with each First Amendment guaranteed Freedom, as well as the percent of people who included things which are not included in the First Amendment (6, 7, and 8). A full 37% of Americans surveyed could not name even one freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.


The apparent ignorance of Americans about their own government is disheartening.

[For a recent example, see the TV interview with a spokesman for a U.S. Senatorial campaign and his ignorance of the Constitution.]

THE FIRST AMENDMENT: RELIGION

As a child, I listened to my grandfather tell stories about growing up in Dvinsk, Russia (now Daugavpils, Latvia). One story which stands out in my memory was about his hiding in their home during one of the frequent pogroms against the Jewish communities. He emerged when it was over only to be told that his grandfather had been killed by the Tzar's cossacks.

That story has given me a strong feeling of gratitude to the American Founders for the First Amendment. Because of its scope, the First Amendment is, to me, the full expression of the intent of America. It acknowledges the freedom of thought which is, as Jefferson (or possibly another member of the Committee of the Five) put it, the unalienable right of every citizen.

The guarantee of religious freedom is that part of the first amendment which comes to mind when I think about my grandfather's story, and for that we have Jefferson (The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom) and Madison (Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments) to thank.

The Virginia Statute was the first time an English speaking country or colony, in this case, the Colony of Virginia, DE-ESTABLISHED the state-sponsored church and gave full religious freedom to people of both all religious faiths and no religious faith. Because of Jefferson's leadership in this context, when my grandfather became a citizen in the early part of the 20th century, he was not taxed to pay for a state-sponsored religion, and he was given the same rights of citizenship as everyone else.


THE FIRST AMENDMENT: SPEECH

Eleanor Roosevelt said,
...freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.
The First Amendment provides Americans with great freedom...which we tend to take for granted.

We have the freedom to misunderstand, ignore, or be ignorant of, the responsibilities of citizenship. Freedom of Speech is one area where many people do not seem to understand the relationship between freedom and responsibility.

Simply put, Americans' right to self-expression is extensive, but there are limits. You can say what you want, unless you're putting others in danger (e.g. shouting "fire" in a crowded theater), or lying about someone or group of someones (e.g. libel laws). For a comprehensive discussion of limits to free speech, see United States free speech exceptions.

Consequences

Finally, within the limits discussed above, we can say what we want, but with that freedom-with-responsibility comes consequences.

This concept is difficult for some Americans to understand. If you call your boss a vulgar name, you won't be arrested for your speech, but chances are you will be looking for another job. If you make a controversial statement, you will likely be criticized.

Criticism of your speech is not an abridgment of your right to say it. Criticism of a political candidate's speech is not an abridgment of his or her right to say things. When a controversial speaker is denied a platform by a University or civic group, the speaker's Freedom of Speech is not abridged. The speaker is free to speak to other groups, or write and publish his ideas.

There are way too many Americans who believe that criticism of someone's opinions is akin to restricting their freedom of speech. It's just not so.


CIVIC EDUCATION

Understanding how our government works should be an essential part of the education of American citizens. Unfortunately, the obsession with standardized tests in U.S. schools has pushed out content areas including Social Studies and Civics. It's time to change that.

Jefferson wrote,
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...
In order to maintain our freedom it's the responsibility of every citizen to understand the basis of, and the processes involved, in running our nation. It's our responsibility as a society to give every citizen the opportunity to learn how the government works, our rights under the law, and our responsibilities as citizens. When we neglect the Civics Education of our children, we fail in our duty to raise up the next generation of citizens.

We require immigrants to learn basic Civics in order to attain citizenship. We ought to require the same for our children.

How's your civics knowledge? Take the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Civics Practice Test.


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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Picture Walk – December 2017

Some images from around the internet related to children, education, and teaching.

CHILD POISONERS STILL IN POWER

Chris Savage, at Eclectablog, has been tracking the condition of water in Flint, Michigan. Would this environmental travesty still be a unresolved if the city wasn't Flint, with an average income of $30,567? Would you expect this problem to drag on for more than two years in a place like Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, with an average income of $108,432? Most definitely not.

Yet, the people who have been responsible for this are still in power and still making decisions which impact people's lives.

The same type of behavior towards communities made up of predominantly low income and/or people of color continues, as Governor Rick Snyder has recently shown. Snyder decided that Michigan's 13th district (covering parts of Detroit and Dearborn Heights) must wait until next November to choose a replacement for John Conyers who resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. This means that approximately 700,000 Michiganders, the majority of them people of color, will be unrepresented for the next eleven months – effectively punishing the voters for their representative's indiscretions. They will be unrepresented when the House votes on the Donor Relief Act of 2017 – aka the Republican tax bill. They will be unrepresented when votes are taken to keep the government running. They will be unrepresented when they pay their taxes on April 15th.

Back in Flint, the children (and their families) are still exposed to poisoned water daily. When the public schools "fail" because the children were exposed to toxic levels of lead in their water, who will get the blame? The children...the teachers...the schools...or the municipal and state leaders who are actually responsible?

Since this graphic was posted on December 12. 2017, it's now (as of this writing) 806 days.


NO-NOTHINGS KILLING PUBLIC EDUCATION

Betsy DeVos knows nothing about education, yet she lectures the public on the "failure" of the public schools.

Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, George W. Bush, and Margaret Spellings knew nothing about education, yet they had no trouble making policy for the 50+ million public school students in the U.S.

Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Mark Zuckerberg, Reed Hastings, and Jeff Bezos know nothing about education, yet they spend their money and time working on the privatization of public schools.

Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels knew nothing about education, yet they damaged the teaching profession and made policy damaging to public schools.

The Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly (Bob Behning, et al) know nothing about public education and work tirelessly to allow the privatization and destruction of the state's public education.

Educators have the expertise. Educators deserve a voice.


THE MAYOR'S IMPACT ON THE SCHOOLS


Rahm Emanuel appeared on Stephen Colbert's Late Show earlier this week. Colbert asked no questions about public education. He asked no questions about the closing of community schools in poor neighborhoods, and, I assume, their eventual replacement with charter schools with no record of higher performance...since the problem is poverty, not the schools. There were no questions about the lack of funding for public schools. There were no questions about the difference in the way schools are treated in different neighborhoods.

The Chicago Sun-Times, a slightly more progressive media outlet than the conservative Tribune, has called for the democratization of CPS, the Chicago Public Schools, by including elected members of the Board of Education. Because of its size, Chicago has local school councils which are elected, but the Board of Education, which makes most of the large decisions, is appointed by the Mayor. The local school councils can object if one of their school's is marked for closing, but they have no real power. That's why closing schools can be based on demographics – which it has been under Mayor Emmanuel.

The real problem is twofold. First, the schools marked for closing over the last few years have been in less affluent areas of the city. Once again we have schools targeted because they were/are "failing" – which in "reform" language, means filled with low income students who need more services (and which the city is unable, or unwilling to provide). The second problem in Chicago is the Emmanuel's penchant for charter schools. Despite the scandals involving charter payoffs, and despite the fact that charters do not improve educational outcomes for students, the Mayor continues to push for charters.

Emmanuel went on The Late Show in order to join Colbert in bashing President Trump. He claims that Chicago has been declared a "Trump-Free Zone," and is a sanctuary city (in Emmanuel's words, a "welcoming" city), welcoming immigrants. This is all very well and good, IMHO. I applaud cities which are fighting the current administration's anti-immigrant policies (as well as the policies which deny and exacerbate climate change which Emmanuel also mentioned).

Still, the damage that Mayoral Control is doing to the Chicago Public Schools should be acknowledged.

In 2012 the Chicago Teachers Union produced a report titled, The Schools Chicago Students Deserve. Mayor Emmanuel ought to read it...and follow its advice.

Here's Fred Klonsky's drawing describing the Mayor's impact on the city schools.


LIBRARIES

A repost from years past...support your local library.


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Monday, December 11, 2017

Listen to This #15: From John Kuhn

QUOTES BY JOHN KUHN

John Kuhn is the superintendent of Mineral Wells ISD near Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. He is an outspoken supporter of public schools and an advocate for equity in funding.

I've been following him on this blog since his speech at the 2011 Save Our Schools Rally, and have quoted him frequently.

In the last few days several hundred thousand people have watched the video below, 2 School Districts, 1 Ugly Truth. More quotes, videos, and links, follow...

2 School Districts, 1 Ugly Truth

From John Kuhn
Educational malpractice doesn't happen in the classroom. The greatest educational malpractice in the Unites States happens in the statehouse not the school house.

If we truly cared about how our students end up, we would have shared accountability, where everyone whose fingerprints are on these students of ours, has to answer for the choices that they make.



More...from his books, twitter feed and speeches.

PROMISE
Public Education is a promise we make to the children of our society, and to their children, and to their children.

LET TEACHERS TEACH
Everyone just kind of assumes that the people telling teachers how to teach actually know something about teaching that the teachers don't know.

AYP FOR LAWMAKERS
I ask you, where is the label for the lawmaker whose policies fail to clean up the poorest neighborhoods? Why do we not demand that our leaders make “Adequate Yearly Progress”?


John Kuhn at the Save Our Schools Rally in Washington D.C., July 2011

A TEAM EFFORT
If the teacher is the quarterback, Congress is the offensive line. Their performance impacts our performance, but they keep letting us get sacked by poverty, broken homes, student mobility, hunger, health care. And they just say "Oops" as that linebacker blows by them and buries his facemask in our chest. Then we get back to the huddle and they say, "You gotta complete your passes." We're aware of that. Make your blocks, legislators. Give us time to stand in the pocket and throw good passes. Do your job. It doesn't take a great quarterback rating to win games; it takes a team effort.

EQUITY
As soon as the data shows that the average black student has the same opportunity to live and learn and hope and dream in America as the average white student, and as soon as the data shows that the average poor kid drinks water just as clean and breathes air just as pure as the average rich kid, then educators like me will no longer cry foul when this society sends us children and says: Get them all over the same hurdle.

STUDENTS, NOT TEST SCORES
I will never follow the lead of those who exclude the kids who need education the most so that my precious scores will rise.



WHAT THE BEST AND WISEST PARENT WANTS FOR HIS OWN CHILD...

From Fear and Learning in America (Teachers College Press, 2014)
Politically powerful parents in America won't accept inadequate public schooling for their children – they have minimum expectations that just happen to align nicely with Bloom's taxonomy and John Dewey's quote about what the best and wisest parents want for their children; and they have the voices and the votes to realize at least an approximation of those expectations. Suburban public school parents want for their children precisely what author Jonathan Kozol has vividly described as the components of the wonderful education poor children deserve (and need, if they are to enter into the full promise of this nation). These parents want their children's schools to have well-appointed libraries, reasonable class sizes, ample time for exploration and play, comfortable climate-controlled buildings, safe surroundings, and green grass.

The only difference is that poor people have little more to cling to than Jonathan Kozol's eloquence; suburbanites have political heft and can actually make sure their children get something approaching their loving standard of educational quality.


A BLIND EYE TO EQUITY

From Test-and-Punish: How the Texas Education Model Gave America Accountability Without Equity (Park Place Publications, 2013)
The school reform movement that today fixates on outcomes and turns a blind eye to equity was born out of this intractable conflict between twin titans of political heft: business executives and politically engaged upper middle–class parents. Inequity ws the obvious and time–honored solution to align these two camps. The legislature could keep both influential constituencies happy by building and maintaining a system just like the one it had constructed, a system of selective adequacy wherein upper– and middle–class neighborhoods boasted great public schools, and poor neighborhoods got “efficient” ones. If you had to shortchange education, it was good politics to shortchange it in minority neighborhoods.
Test-and-Punish: How the Texas Education Model Gave America Accountability Without Equity is reviewed HERE.

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

2017 Medley #33

Republicans, Facebook, Testing, Poverty, Reading Comprehension, Vouchers, IDEA


DO REPUBLICANS HATE PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC SCHOOL CHILDREN?

The Republican tax bill punishes American families who use public schools

Incentives for parents who send their children to private schools, but none for public school parents.
That means that the "school tuition" that parents of public school kids are paying, in the form of state and local taxes, isn’t deductible from their federal taxes, and public schools themselves will have less money to spend on kids. But rich families who can afford private school get a brand new tax break. That’s a win for the 10%.


The Republican War on Children

No health insurance for poor children...tax incentives for wealthy children.
Let me ask you a question; take your time in answering it. Would you be willing to take health care away from a thousand children with the bad luck to have been born into low-income families so that you could give millions of extra dollars to just one wealthy heir?

You might think that this question is silly, hypothetical and has an obvious answer. But it’s not at all hypothetical, and the answer apparently isn’t obvious. For it’s a literal description of the choice Republicans in Congress seem to be making as you read this.

TOSSED OFF FACEBOOK

The False Paradise of School Privatization

Why did Facebook suspend Steven Singer's (Gadfly On The Wall Blog) Facebook account for the second time in two months?

The first time was when he published School Choice is a Lie. It Does Not Mean More Options. It Means Less. This time it's for The False Paradise of School Privatization. Could it be there's someone working for Facebook who doesn't like the politics of public education?

If you haven't had a chance to read Singer's post, The False Paradise of School Privatization, be sure to do so. Then, when you've finished that, check out Two Theories Why Facebook Keeps Blocking Me When I Write About School Privatization.
One person’s paradise is another person’s Hell.

So the idea of designing one system that fits all is essentially bound to fail.

But doesn’t that support the charter and voucher school ideal? They are marketed, after all, as “school choice.” They allegedly give parents and children a choice about which schools to attend.

Unfortunately, this is just a marketing term.

Charter and voucher schools don’t actually provide more choice. They provide less.

Think about it.

Who gets to choose whether you attend one of these schools? Not you.

Certainly you have to apply, but it’s totally up to the charter or voucher school operators whether they want to accept you.

It is the public school system that gives you choice. You decide to live in a certain community – you get to go to that community’s schools. Period.


READING: TESTING

PIRLS: The effect of phonics, poverty, and pleasure reading.

The last half of my 35 year teaching career was spent working with students who had difficulties with reading. I worked in rural schools with small, but significant numbers of low-income students. We knew then, and we know now, that child poverty is the main factor in low school achievement. We also know that factors associated with poverty, like low birth weight, poor nutrition, exposure to environmental toxins, and lack of health care, have an impact on a child's learning. These out-of-school factors are rarely discussed when politicians and policy makers blame schools and teachers for low student achievement.

You may have read about the recent release of the PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) scores along with much pearl-clutching because of the nation's poor performance. Most reporters focus on comparing scores of American students with students in other countries (We fall somewhere in the middle). Rarely is the impact of poverty noted.

Stephen Krashen continues to educate.
Kevin Courtney is right about the negative influence of poverty on PIRLS tests; two of our studies confirm this. He is also right in rejecting phonics instruction as the force responsible for the recent improvement in PIRLS scores: Studies show that intensive phonics instruction only improves performance on tests in which children have to pronounce words presented in a list. Heavy phonics does not contribute to performance on tests of reading comprehension. In fact, several scholars have concluded that knowledge of phonics rules, beyond the simplest ones, is acquired from reading.

For Further Reading: 

Valerie Strauss has a guest post from James Harvey, executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable which gives the PIRLS tests a more nuanced analysis.

Also from Valerie Strauss – Ten things you need to know about international assessments

READING: POVERTY

The Reading Achievement Gap: Why Do Poor Students Lag Behind Rich Students in Reading Development?

This article was published in 2015 by Richard Allington. Here he reinforces the need for access to books for low-income children.
Students from lower-income families experience summer reading loss because they don’t read much, if at all, during the summer months. Students from middle-class families, on the other hand, are far more likely to read during this same summer period. Low-income students don’t read during the summer months because they don’t own any books, and they live in neighborhoods where there are few, if any, places to purchase books. Middle-class students have bedroom libraries and live in neighborhoods where children’s books are readily available, even in the grocery stores where their parents shop. Middle-class kids are more likely to live in a neighborhood where one can find a child-friendly public library than is the case with children living in low-income areas. These children live in neighborhoods best described as book deserts.

Historically, low-income students relied primarily on schools as sources for the books they read. Ironically, too many high-poverty schools have small libraries, and there are too many classrooms that have no classroom library for kids to select books to read. Too many high-poverty schools ban library books (and textbooks) from leaving the building (fear of loss of the books, I’m usually told). However, even with fewer books in their schools and more restrictive book-lending policies, these kids do get most of the books they read from the schools they attend. But not during the summer months when school is not in session!


READING: COMPREHENSION

How To Get Your Mind To Read (Daniel Willingham)

Reading teachers understand that students' comprehension improves when teachers activate prior knowledge before having students read a passage (or before they read aloud). What happens, however, when students don't have the knowledge they need?
...students who score well on reading tests are those with broad knowledge; they usually know at least a little about the topics of the passages on the test. One experiment tested 11th graders’ general knowledge with questions from science (“pneumonia affects which part of the body?”), history (“which American president resigned because of the Watergate scandal?”), as well as the arts, civics, geography, athletics and literature. Scores on this general knowledge test were highly associated with reading test scores.

Current education practices show that reading comprehension is misunderstood. It’s treated like a general skill that can be applied with equal success to all texts. Rather, comprehension is intimately intertwined with knowledge. That suggests three significant changes in schooling.

VOUCHERS

Voucher Programs and the Constitutional Ethic
Acceptance of a voucher by a private school should be subject to that school’s compliance with certain basic requirements. At a minimum, school buildings should meet relevant code requirements and fire safety standards; teachers should be able to offer evidence that they are equipped to teach their subject matter; and the school should both teach and model foundational constitutional values and behaviors. Ideally, schools receiving public funds should not be permitted to discriminate on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation (religious schools have a constitutional right to discriminate on the basis of religion in certain situations, although they do not have a right to do so on the taxpayer’s dime) and should be required to afford both students and staff at least a minimum of due process. At present, we are unaware of any voucher program that requires these commitm


GIVING UP RIGHTS FOR PROFIT

DeVos Won’t Publicize a School Voucher Downside, But It’s Leaking Out Anyway

DeVos admits that students who attend private schools lose their rights under IDEA.

DeVos seems to forget that she's the Secretary of Education for the entire United States, not just for private and privately owned schools.
There’s another key issue at stake in the conversation about vouchers for students with disabilities — one Jennifer and Joe asked DeVos about during their private conversation.

Do students with disabilities lose their rights to a fair and appropriate education — a guarantee under the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — if they use vouchers to attend private schools?

Yes, DeVos said.

“She answered point blank,” Joe said.


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