All animals are equal…

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Though the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in schools, and ordered school districts in the U.S. to take steps to assure integration, the question of the legality of affirmative action programs by universities remained unresolved until 1978. Proponents argued such programs were necessary to make up for past discrimination. Opponents believed they were illegal and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

On June 28, 1978 The Supreme Court ruled affirmative action constitutional, thus allowing race to be one of several factors in college admission policy. In the so-called  Bakke decision – Justice Lewis Powell ruled affirmative action was constitutional as a “mechanism to achieve diversity(Britannica.com).

On July 3, 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded seven Obama-era guidance documents involving race and school admissions. These guidelines were created to promote racial diversity in higher education and end the growing racial isolation in K-12 classrooms. The rescinded documents supported affirmative action, stating in one, that colleges and universities were free to “voluntarily consider race to further the compelling interest of achieving diversity.”

A joint statement was released from the Justice and Education Departments. In it, Sessions said, “When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President. In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That’s wrong, and it’s not good government.”

Dennis Parker of the ACLU said DeVos’ statement “signals a dangerous hostility from this administration towards the idea that promoting racial diversity is in the best interest of America” (ACLU.org).

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said, “Affirmative action has proven to be one of the most effective ways to create diverse and inclusive classrooms. But by telling schools and universities that they should not use affirmative action to achieve inclusive classrooms, the Education Department has again failed our students (ACLU.org).

Even more frightening, said Eskelsen García  is that “Trump has indicated he intends to appoint a nominee to the Supreme Court who will declare that affirmative action is unconstitutional in our schools” (CNN.com).

Mark Bauerlein said, Fifty years of affirmative action in college admissions hasn’t led to anything like a critical mass of African-Americans in the higher reaches of academia, but it has aggravated group tensions on campuses and throughout the country. Equal protection gives Americans confidence in their nation and their place within it (Weekly Standard).

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Follow the pattern. DeVos has dismissed hundreds of civil rights cases, she advocates for charters and vouchers which do not support students of color, and now the affirmative action decision. The view of race through the white lens of government does not show the wide angle views of who we are in this country.

Equal protection under the law. I am reminded of the proclamation by the pigs who controlled the government in George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

These are my reflections for today.

07/13/18

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Results of Bill Gates’ Investment in Education

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The partnerships for effective teaching initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was a five year effort to “dramatically improve student outcomes by increasing students’ access to effective teaching” (RAND.org). According to a report by the RAND Corporation and the American Institute for Research (the largest organization in the US representing statisticians and related professionals) Bill Gates’ $575 million investment in education failed. RAND researcher Brian Stecher, lead author of the report, told EdWeek, “The initiative itself tried to pull a bunch of levers to have a big impact on student performance. The sites did in fact modify all of these levers, some more than others, but in the end, there were no big payoffs in terms of improved graduation [rates] or achievement of students in general, and low-income and minority students in particular” (NonProfitQuarterly).

EdWeek also reported Gates invested $700 million, with a majority of the money allotted to changing schools’ approach to teacher evaluations, “tying them directly to measured student learning outcomes and using the data to guide in-service training programs and staff retention decisions” (NonProfitQuarterly). Convinced that linking teacher ratings to student standardized test scores would solve America’s educational problems, Gates wanted to demonstrate that his approach worked, so he engaged three large, traditional public-school districts (Memphis, TN, Pittsburgh, PA and Hillsborough County, FL) and four charter-school networks as partners in a large-scale field test that would affect the educational experience of thousands of school children over many years (NonProfitQuarterly).

The RAND report titled “Improving Teacher Effectiveness: Final Report,” found:

Overall, the initiative did not achieve its stated goals for students, particularly LIM [low-income minority] students. By the end of 2014-2015, student outcomes were not dramatically better than outcomes in similar sites that did not participate in the IP [Intensive Partnerships] initiative. Furthermore, in the sites where these analyses could be conducted, we did not find improvement in the effectiveness of newly hired teachers relative to experienced teachers; we found very few instances of improvement in the effectiveness of the teaching force overall; we found no evidence that LIM students had greater access than non-LIM students to effective teaching; and we found no increase in the retention of effective teachers, although we did find declines in the retention of ineffective teachers in most sites.

Wendy Lecker wrote, “Since 1989, courts across this country have understood that schools require a complete array of staff, services and programs to ensure students learn. Thus, courts have ordered states to ensure adequate funding not only for teachers but for preschool, small class size, adequate facilities, adequate social, language, health and educational support services, adequate supplies, books, technology and security, and a rich curriculum” (The Advocate).

The Gates initiative was purported to result in greater equity in education for minorities from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, however, the RAND study concluded the disparity actually grew. Teacher ratings remained more or less the same. And educators rated “highly effective” were less likely to stick around than teachers rated “less effective”–the complete opposite of one of the policy’s stated goals (Heidt, 2018).

Recommendations from the RAND corporation: “A near-exclusive focus on teaching effectiveness might be insufficient to dramatically improve student outcomes. Many other factors might need to be addressed, ranging from early childhood education, to students’ social and emotional competencies, to the school learning environment, to family support. Dramatic improvement in outcomes, particularly for low income minority students, will likely require attention to many of these factors as well” (RAND.org).

Martin Levine wrote, “The disappointing outcomes didn’t come from implementation failures but as indicators that the underlying idea was flawed” (NonProfitQuarterly).  Matt Barnum suggested the Gates initiative did not lead to clear gains in student learning and did nothing to ensure  poor students of color had more access to effective teachers (Chalkbeat.org).

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Levine also said of the Gates initiative, “…the leadership, responsible only within the structure of the foundation itself, continues to wield the power of great wealth with little external control. Their investments mirror those of venture capital funds, looking for home runs and willing to accept many strikeouts along the way. But, as we can see from their work in education, their failures aren’t felt just by the Gates Foundation—they can deeply affect children, parents, teachers, and the future of our communities”  (NonProfitQuarterly).

What if Gates spent this money on resources actually proven to help children learn successfully? Teachers, administrators, countless court cases, and research studies would have provided solid evidence he was looking for an outcome many others had already determined.

These are my reflections for today.

07/06/18

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Headlines in Education

I troll various sites during the week to find topics for my blog. This week I found several I wanted to write about – some good news and some bad news. I decided to post a few (with links if you want to read more).

~At its annual meeting in Chicago, the American Medical Association came out strongly for a ban on assault weapons, and made a firm stance against arming teachers as a way to fight what they say is a “growing health crisis” (AP News). They agreed to:

Support any bans on the purchase or possession of guns and ammunition by people under 21.

Back laws that would require licensing and safety courses for gun owners and registration of all firearms.

Press for legislation that would allow relatives of suicidal people or those who have threatened imminent violence to seek court-ordered removal of guns from the home.

Encourage better training for physicians in how to recognize patients at risk for suicide.

Push to eliminate loopholes in laws preventing the purchase or possession of guns by people found guilty of domestic violence, including expanding such measures to cover convicted stalkers (AP News).

~Michigan State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck (R) this week proposed changes in what is taught in social studies in the state. Colbeck’s proposed curriculum removes all references to gay rights, Roe v. Wade and climate change  (CBSlocal.com).  It also slashes the word “democratic” and replaces it with “republic” and reduces references to the Klu Klux Klan.

Colbeck claims these changes were brought on by concerns that, “…some standards are not politically neutral or factually accurate, and to ensure students are “exposed to multiple points of view” (CBSlocal.com).  Crowds of people have gathered at the state capitol to protest these changes. **In researching for this story, I found an article titled    “11 Most Ridiculous Things Done By State Senator Patrick Colbeck”   Changes to the Social Studies curriculum in Michigan seem to be on par with some of his other decisions.  In other news, Colbeck seems to be behind in the polls in the race for governor.

~Cynthia Nixon, gubernatorial candidate for governor of New York outlined her education policy this week, promising to “tackle what she called the ‘unholy trinity’ of racial segregation, underfunding, and over-policing in schools (chalkbeat.org). Nixon said, “We have two different education systems in our state – one that sends wealthy white children to college, and another that sends poor children of color to prison (chalkbeat.org).

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A spokesperson for current Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke against Nixon and her education policy, saying she was acting as a front for parent advocacy groups. As Diane Ravitch said, “Cuomo’s education policies are controlled by hedge fund managers, billionaires, and Wall Street advocacy groups.”

~The California Teachers Association is calling for support AB 276, which would set the standards for charter schools across the state.  “AB 276 requires all charter schools to be transparent and accountable to parents and to disclose how they spend taxpayer money, including budgets and contracts. It prohibits charter school board members and their families from profiting from their schools and requires charter schools to comply with California’s open meetings, open records and conflict of interest laws (CTA.org).

~Former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) was not able to seat a state board of education because he couldn’t get his appointees approved. The new governor, Mike Parson (R), has already seated his board. The bad news is the board immediately renewed the charters for several under-performing schools in St. Louis and Kansas City despite their weak performance. The good news is the new president of the board, Charlie Shields said that it was time to review charter school laws.

Shields argued the charters in question “do not convincingly outperform St. Louis Public Schools. He said the state Legislature allowed charter schools to operate in Missouri on the premise that charter schools would be easy to open, but poor-performing charter schools should be easy to close(St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

~In a huge defeat to charters in New York, this week a judge ruled against allowing certain schools to certify their teachers. The ruling ends Success Academy’s plan to hire teachers at their discretion and removing the master’s degree requirement. Success Academy is the largest charter chain in New York.

“The regulations, approved by the State University of New York in October 2017, were designed to give charter schools more discretion over how they hired teachers. They eliminated the requirement that teachers earn master’s degrees and allowed charter schools authorized by SUNY to certify their teachers with as little as a month of classroom instruction and 40 hours of practice teaching (Chalkbeat.org).

~The Seattle Education Association voted this week for moratorium on standardized testing.  This movement began in 2013 when high school teachers refused to administer MAP tests. The superintendent threatened teachers with a 10-day suspension without pay, but teachers would not back down.  “At the end of the year, because of the overwhelming solidarity from parents, teachers, and students around the country, not only were no teachers disciplined, but the superintendent announced that the MAP test would no longer be required for Seattle’s high schools (Iamaneducator.com).

The movement in Washington has continued. In 2015, Nathan Hale High School had a 100% opt out rate on the test given to all high school juniors. As many as 60,000 families opted their children out of common core testing as well.

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~To end on a positive note, here’s an inspiring graduation speech. Dr. Louis Profeta, MD, an emergency room doctor who spoke at his alma mater, North Central High School in Indianapolis of his failure in schools, only to become a successful doctor.

These are my reflections for today.

6/29/18

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Striking teachers, low pay, and a recent national poll

Over the past year frustrated teachers have gone on strike in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina. One of the primary reasons for the strikes is low pay. In some states teachers have to work two and three jobs to pay their bills, as their salaries are not enough to cover basic living expenses.

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The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental economic organization with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. In a 2015 OECD study, teachers salaries in the United States ranked 27th out of 29 countries: #1 was Portugal, and #29 was the Czech Republic (OECD, 2015).

In a survey conducted in May, the New York Times found that nearly three in four adults — 71 percent — considered teacher pay too low, while just 6 percent felt it was too high.   Additionally, this survey found strong support for teachers.  A recent NPR survey also reported 75% of Americans agree teachers have the right to strike. Notably, that number includes 66% of Republicans, 75% of independents and nearly 90% of Democrats (NPR).

“Our teachers have not been able to have raises for the last several years and I’m certain it’s the same issue that’s going on around the country,” said Marla Hackett of Queen Creek, Ariz., who responded to the survey and said she has a daughter who is a teacher. “They are underappreciated, underpaid and they work ridiculously long hours”  (NPR).

In another survey conducted by The Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago, 78% of Americans say teachers in this country are underpaid. However, in the same poll fewer of those polled approved of walkouts by teachers to demand pay raises and increased school funding (Associated Press).

Only 50 percent of the survey participants “would support a plan to increase their taxes in order to increase teacher compensation and funding for their local public schools, while 26 percent would oppose such a plan, and 23 percent neither favor nor oppose”(Associated Press).

The majority of polled Americans agreed teachers are underpaid, and most agreed teachers have a right to strike. All good, but what’s the solution? While the AP study found half of those polled opposed to a tax increase for higher teacher salaries, the New York Times study found a majority of Americans would agree to a tax increase to increase teachers salaries.

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Dana Goldstein of the New York Times reported in May there are so many districts struggling to fill their classroom with teachers, they are recruiting from overseas.  Goldstein reported an example in Arizona where Pendergast Elementary School District has “recruited more than 50 teachers from the Philippines since 2015. They hold J-1 visas, which allow them to work temporarily in the United States, like au pairs or camp counselors, but offer no path to citizenship. More than 2,800 foreign teachers arrived on American soil last year through the J-1, according to the State Department, up from about 1,200 in 2010″ (NY Times).

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The national average for teachers salaries is $59,000, but in Arizona it is roughly $40,000. This explains the need to provide J-1 visas for overseas recruitment. What Filipino teachers earn in the Philippines is less than the paltry $40 K offered in Arizona.

One teacher who came from the Philippines took two years to pay back the recruiting organization the fees incurred to get to the US. His first year in Arizona he shared an apartment with five other Filipino teachers.

In response to the recruitment of teachers from overseas, Randy Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers said, “Rather than increase salaries, districts may once again resort to recruiting internationally as a way to solve the teacher shortage” She added that the AFT “will fight for everyone working in our communities and educating our kids to have fair wages, rights and workplace protections regardless of where they’re from, the use of the J-1 visa program to fill long-term shortages is an abuse of an exchange program” (NY Times).

Lora Bartlett, an education professor at the University of California Santa Cruz said, “There are people who have a vested interest in not finding a long-term solution. There is a whole industry that makes money every time a new teacher comes into the country. They don’t make money when a teacher stays”  (NY Times).  Bartlett has written a book called Migrant Teachers; How American Schools Import Labor.

This brings up an issue of sustainability for students when every two years the revolving door brings in new teachers.  This also brings up concern for different cultural norms internationally trained teachers bring to high poverty areas that may affect classroom management, teaching styles, and discipline.

There are plenty of qualified, licensed teachers who graduated from accredited institutions in our classrooms who are committed to students, and are only asking for living wages. I agree with Weingarten that recruiting teachers from overseas is not a solution. If recent data shows a majority of Americans support an increase in teachers salaries, then our elected officials need to make this happen. That’s a viable and necessary solution.

*One final note, the Times reporter who wrote about the overseas recruitment came upon this story accidentally. You can read Dana Goldstein’s account here.

These are my reflections for today.

6/8/18

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Santa Fe – More than words

I highly recommend reading this powerful article published in the New York Times by James Poniewozik in response to the school shooting in Texas. This Is School in America Now

Today I want to share responses to another act of violence against children in America. Reading anything about school shootings makes us sick, or feel helpless, or worse- throw our hands up as if there is nothing we can do about it. We cannot ignore it because it’s hard, or uncomfortable. This problem will not just go away.

In 2018 more children have been killed at school than service members. This is not usually the case. According to the Washington Post, there have been, to date, 29 deaths in 16 shooting incidents in US schools. Over the same period there have been 13 US service member deaths in seven incidents around the world (Sputnik News).

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a statement Friday condemning the deadly school shooting at a Texas high school. DeVos said that her “heart is heavy” after watching coverage of the shooting, which has reportedly left ten people dead and several others injured. “Our schools must be safe and nurturing environments for learning,” she said. “No student should have to experience the trauma suffered by so many today and in similar events prior. We simply cannot allow this trend to continue” (Yahoo.com).

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Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo wrote on Facebook, “I know some have strong feelings about gun rights, but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue,” he said, adding he would “de-friend” anyone who posted anything about “guns aren’t the problem” and “there’s little we can do” Acevedo closed the post saying, “This isn’t a time for prayers, and study and inaction, it’s a time for prayers, action and the asking of God’s forgiveness for our inaction (especially the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing) (CNN.com).

Donald Trump addressed the shooting,”Unfortunately, I have to begin by expressing our sadness and heartbreak over the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas,” Trump said. “This has been going on too long in our country. Too many years. Too many decades now. We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack”  (CNN.com).

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Speaking at a vigil in Santa Fe, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “Tonight all of Texas is grieving…Our entire state, and all across the country, millions are lifting this community up in prayer, are lifting the students up in prayer who went through hell this morning” NBC News.

Both Trump and Cruz are staunch supporters of the National Rifle Association and have resisted attempts to tighten gun control.

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) tweeted,

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott: “We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families. It’s time in Texas that we take action” (NPR).

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote an open letter to Trump and Congress (News12).

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NBC News reported, “While the drama was unfolding, a flag-toting man wearing a Make America Great Again cap and a pistol by his side suddenly appeared outside the school. He was immediately stopped by police.”

David Hogg, a student at Parkland High School who has led the charge for stricter gun laws tweeted –

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Parkland student Jaclyn Corin said in a tweet directed at Trump,

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Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt has offered to pay for the funerals of the victims. On Friday, Watt tweeted, “Absolutely horrific” (Washington Post).

Houston Rockets star guard Chris Paul wrote, “We need to do better by our children” Paul  told reporters that the NBA playoff series against the Golden State Warriors “is minor compared to what is taking place down in Santa Fe”  (Washington Post).

Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr, who has been outspoken in his calls for gun control, tweeted Friday that “gun owners have a responsibility to store their firearms securely.”  Sources say the two guns used in the shooting belong to the gunman’s father (Washington Post).

Houston Astros Manager A.J. Hinch told reporters he “doesn’t want to offer any more condolences.  “Lives are being lost for no real, good reason,” Hinch said Friday.  My anger is because I have kids and I can appreciate how terrible everyone has to feel … There’s no reason for our schools to be combat zones. And it’s turning that way” (Houston Chronicle).

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At a press conference, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick of Texas attributed the Santa Fe massacre to the high school having “too many entrances and too many exits.” He suggested it might be time for officials to “look at the design” of schools” moving forward. “There are not enough people to put a guard in every entrance or exit,” he argued (Salon). Patrick appeared on national TV, where he blamed mass shootings on just about everything but the weapons being used to carry them out. Patrick’s comments indicated that Republicans want to consider solutions to gun violence—as long as they don’t actually involve guns (Salon).

California Representative Eric Swalwell (D-) tweeted “Blame the doors? Anything but the weapon. Got it. Enough Is Enough.” Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (D-) who is a staunch gun control advocate and a candidate for governor—tweeted: “Updated @GOP talking point: guns don’t kill people, doors kill people.”

NRA president Oliver North said in a statement he thought the problem was Ritalin. In an interview with Fox News Sunday, North said “We’re trying like the dickens to treat the symptom without treating the disease.” He said that American youth are “steeped in a culture of violence,” and ADHD medication exacerbates that violent culture. “They’ve been drugged in most cases. Nearly all of these perpetrators are male … and they’ve come through a culture where violence is commonplace (Fox News).

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) said in a statement, “Republicans have made it very clear 100 people could die in a mass shooting and they wouldn’t take up (gun) legislation… I’m interested on working on mental health and working on school safety, but those are all efforts by Republicans to distract from the real problem which is gun laws (CNN).

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Actions speak louder than words.

These are my reflections for today.

5/25/18

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Teachers Wanted or Wanted: Teachers

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Any of you familiar with Blazing Saddles which is IMHO the second best Mel Brooks movie (Young Frankenstein being #1, of course), are familiar with this poster. My parallel today is with this poster and the charter/voucher debacle in Florida.

Last week I saw a headline from the Network for Public Education. “Raleigh charter school on state ‘watch list’ for employing teacher with suspended license.”
Under any other circumstances this is an alarming and disheartening headline.

But when I saw one from Florida, Raleigh paled in comparison. “Convicted criminals working as teachers. Welcome to voucher schools in Florida.” Orlando Sentinel reporters  Annie Martin and Leslie Postal wrote how Florida’s voucher schools are hiring convicted felons — “some of whom are supposed to be barred from teaching under state law.”

This report comes on the heels of a series of investigative reports on charter/voucher issues plaguing Florida. Scott Maxwell of the Sentinel writes, “We’re talking a billion or so dollars worth of public money and tax credits into a ‘scholarship’ system that has far fewer checks, balances and even basic requirements than public schools.”

Two convicted teachers were in classrooms, yet – according to Florida law- should be banned from teaching in any public school.

“One former convict was discovered at a Pine Hills school after she was arrested again on a child-abuse charge involving a student.”

“Another teacher was fresh out of prison on $47,000 worth of Medicare fraud — and banned from teaching in public schools — when she was hired by a voucher school the next month” Orlando Sentinel.

Hiring convicted criminals is just the most recent example of the dysfunction in Florida. Recent investigative reporting  () uncovered a host of other issues plaguing charter/voucher schools in Florida. Following are headlines from their reports:

October 17, 2017 – Florida private schools get nearly $1 billion in state scholarships with little oversight

October 17, 2017 – Florida’s school voucher and scholarship programs face little oversight

October 18, 2017 – Orlando private school with troubled history took millions of dollars in state scholarships.

October 19, 2017 – After student alleges abuse, principal shutters one private school, opens another

Betsy DeVos, while speaking at the Reagan Institute Summit on Education said, “The Sunshine State is one bright spot in otherwise gloomy national achievement results and should be an exemplar to other states”. She continued, “It’s really attributable, I think, to this concerted effort to tackle reforms on a student-focused, student-centered basis”  (The74Million).

In contrast, Maxwell wrote, “Florida’s voucher system is the Wild Wild West of education with tax dollars and children’s futures on the line” (Orlando Sentinel).

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Life is Beautiful. In this movie, Roberto Benigni’s character was at least aware life wasn’t beautiful. DeVos has no idea.

Public schools would not close in the middle of a school year leaving children at a loss, employ convicted criminals, close in one neighborhood because it’s failing only to open in another.
Billions of dollars are poured into charters/vouchers not only in Florida, but all over the country. No oversight, misappropriation of funds, child-abuse…the list goes on.
Recruit certified teachers who will work tirelessly to help children. Invest in public education.

These are my reflections for today.

5/4/18

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Drawing (obvious) Conclusions

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Results are in from the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress, also called NAEP or The Nation’s Report Card. NAEP is a national exam given to fourth and eighth grade students to “assess what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas” (The Nation’s Report Card).

Average reading scores for eighth-graders increased from 2015, yet there were no changes for reading at fourth grade or for math at either grade. Reformers say their efforts are improving scores, and public school advocates say their increase in scores- “were “flat” and “stagnating,” “mixed” and “steady” or even contained “bright spots” (Atlanta Journal Constitutional).

After reading the scores, one educational advocacy group wanted better “screening” for teachers, another more private school options. Several said schools needed stronger accountability, which usually means testing, but an anti-testing group said nearly two-decades of high-stakes tests had produced little progress (Atlanta Journal Constitutional).

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What about the achievement gap? Well, to no one’s surprise, it’s widening. “In fourth-grade reading, for example, the gap between the top 10 percent and the bottom 10 percent of students widened by four points. In fourth-grade math, the gap widened by six points” (Hechinger Report).

The gap in reading scores between the top 10% and the bottom 10% increased by three points. The gap in math scores between the top 10% and the bottom 10% increased by six points (Hechinger Report).

Students in Chicago, touted last year by the New York Times as “the most effective school district in America, based on how much students had been advancing each year from 2009 to 2015″ did not show gains this year (Hechinger Report).

After many years of impressive gains in Washington DC (now attributed to questionable practices), educational progress stalled in 2017 as students remain well below the national average. While in San Diego, Fresno, and Los Angeles, schools reported gains in fourth grade reading scores. At the same time higher income districts also showed gains.

None of this should be a surprise. Top income level students fare well on the test, and  bottom income level students do not. The gap doesn’t narrow if both groups continue to move (or not move) at the same rate. So how do we narrow the achievement gap? Continuing to take tests and report results no one finds surprising doesn’t help. Pointing fingers at who’s fault it is doesn’t help. Pointing out stagnant scores of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, though glaringly obvious, also doesn’t help.

According to Brookings Institute, “Unless we rapidly increase the rates at which we close our race-, ethnicity-, and income-based gaps, unequal access to education and the consequences of this inequality will affect students today as well as subsequent generations.”

We have to change the variables. Offer students support they need in reading and math to get better. Fund initiatives that support students who need assistance. Train teachers to be more effective with students who continue to score low.

NAEP scores are a big deal, but mostly to people who want to point fingers at each other. My dad used to say, “Figures don’t lie, liars figure.” NAEP scores tell us what we already know. What are we going to do about it? For the sake of all children, do something differently next time.

These are my reflections for today.

4/20/18

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