Ed News, Friday, July 29, 2016 Edition

The ED NEWS

A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

 “[Math] curriculum is obsessed with jargon and nomenclature seemingly for no other purpose than to     provide teachers with something to test the students on.” 
Corporate “Reform”
Many local district school boards have been targeted for takeover by the corporate “reformers” and privatizers who would like to implement their agenda of charter expansion, teacher evaluations based on student test scores and anti-union policies like the elimination of tenure and seniority, etc.  The “Ed News” has highlighted a number of those stories.  The latest target appears to be Nashville, Tennessee, according to a detailed story in theNASHVILLE SCENE, the alternative weekly in the Music City.  “Even in a city that hosts the state legislature every year,”  it explains, “the politics of education in Nashville have been the most hard-fought game in town since at least 2012, when money poured into campaign coffers in six-digit sums, producing the costliest school board races in Metro history.  The stakes then were high as ever, with charter school organizations looking to expand their footprint in Nashville and the hire of a new superintendent on the horizon.               The Nevada Supreme Court held two hearings today dealing with the state’s wide ranging voucher program(known as “education savings accounts”).  The plan allows Nevada parents to spent up to $5,100 of taxpayer funds on just about any public, private, charter or parochial school of their choice.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal reviews the details of the two cases and the impact they could have nationwide.  “Proponents,” it notes, “argue the voucher-style program grants families more options to meet the unique needs of their students; opponents claim SB302 will drain resources from an underfunded public education system and funnel taxpayer money into religious schools” and the law violates the Nevada Constitution’s prohibition on the spending of public money for sectarian purposes.          Want a peak at what corporate “reform” policies over the last decade and a half and almost 8 years of some Obama administration education initiatives have done to one large urban public school system?  Look no farther than Philadelphia where, apropos, the Democrats wrapped up their convention this week.  THE HECHINGER REPORT chronicles how charters and other “reforms” have decimated the Philadelphia Public Schools and the local union, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT).  The story is titled “Have Obama’s Education Policies Weakened the Democratic Party??”  Union membership has declined from 21,000 to 11,000 and “a third of Philadelphia’s public school students attend charter schools and the union has withered, in a state that will be a key battleground this November,”  it suggests.  “In Ohio, another key state, three in 10 public school students now attend charters in Dayton and in Cleveland.  As the Democratic Party gather[ed] in Philadelphia for its convention this week, an open question is whether Obama’s education policies weakened a key element of the party’s political machinery — and whether Hillary Clinton, the presidential nominee, will continue those policies.”
 
Charter and Virtual Charter Schools
A number of states, including California, Ohio and Georgia have cracked down on virtual (online) charter schools.  The “Ed News” has highlighted a number of these stories.  Add Oklahoma to that list according to the Oklahoma Watch website.  “Oklahoma education officials are taking their first action ever to shut down a virtual charter school, but the school is fighting the effort,”  it reports.  “The five-member Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, the sole authorizer and sponsor of online charter schools, has moved to terminate its contract with ABLE Charter School for noncompliance with the law.  ABLE, whose offices are in Oklahoma City, is the newest and smallest of five virtual charter schools in Oklahoma.”
 
Election 2016
The Democrats wrapped up their national convention yesterday in Philadelphia.  Douglas Harris, Professor of Economics and the University Endowed Chair in Public Education at Tulane University in New Orleans, offers his commentary on the party’s platform as it relates to education.  His piece is titled “The Democratic Platform: More of a Victory for Reformers Than it Seems.”  It appears inEDUCATION WEEK and focuses on 4 key strands that he identifies.      What does the selection of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton’s running mate mean for the ticket’s policies about education?  Jeff Bryant, on the Education Opportunity NETWORK, reviews what a number of other pundits have said about the topic and draws some of this own conclusions.  “There’s no guarantee Kaine will influence the education policy direction of a Clinton administration,” Bryant writes.  “Nor is this to say Kaine is perfect on education or even the most progressive of possible VP candidates Clinton could have picked.”               The pro-corporate “reform” group Democrats for Education Now, an affiliate of the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), met in Philadelphia on Monday at the start of the Democratic convention to discuss how they might influence the party even more towards their agenda of charters, choice, privatization and accountability.  The president of DFER had earlier found the party’s platform on education less that satisfactory.  truthout has a description of the gathering on Monday and what the organization hopes to accomplish.              Diane Ravitch’s blog invited Rachel Levy, a Bernie Sanders supporter, Virginia resident, former teacher, blogger and current PhD. student at the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University, to evaluate Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine as her running mate.  [Kaine and his wife] have unapologetically and unwaveringly dedicated their lives to being public servants, to serving their country, state, and local communities,”  she concludes her analysis.  “Isn’t that at least in part what Bernie Sanders campaign was all about?  We rarely see someone like Tim Kaine in politics and now we have the chance to have him serve as Vice President of our country.  It’s time to stop working against him and start envisioning what can be done when he starts working with us.”               Wednesday’s session of the Democratic conventionincluded several speakers who mentioned K-12 policies, the need for expanded preschool programs and condemned gun violence on our nation’s campuses.  EDUCATION WEEK highlights some of the personalities and their comments on education.             Election campaigns offer teachers an excellent  opportunity for their students to learn about politics and government but also carry some risks according to an article in ED WEEK.  The author of the piece, David Cohen, is a veteran high school English teacher in Palo Alto, California.  “In an election year I see a particular benefit to considering our role in educating our youngest citizens regarding our government and politics,” he writes.  “Naturally, an election year also increases the stakes for teachers to handle this responsibility with the utmost planning and care.”              THE HECHINGER REPORT assesses a number of speakers at the just concluded Democratic Convention.  On the topic of education, several commented on preschool programs and solving the college student debt problem but otherwise there was little mention of other K-12 issues.  The critical topic of education, at least to us educators, seems to be a forgotten issue when it comes to our two main political parties.  “Absent [from both conventions] were specific policy proposals about the K-12 education system,” it points out.  “Almost no speaker, including Clinton, addressed such contentious issues as charter schools, excessive testing, the achievement gap, the technology-access gap, Common Core standards and the current racial segregation in so many of the nation’s schools.”
 
A Black Principal Chimes In
What’s it like to be a black principal in our current racial and political climate?  LeeAndra Khan is the mother of a son and the principal of an integrated middle school in Oak Park, a suburb west of Chicago.  She responds to that question and addresses some of the challenges she faces “leading (schools) while black.” Catalyst CHICAGO has her story.  “The struggle is real, but this is leadership on the ground and we must actively look for solutions to problems,” she relates.  “To start, leaders can’t be afraid to have tough conversations about race and inequality.  Districts need to invest time and money in developing school leaders and teacher-leaders on how to facilitate these conversations.  And leaders are best supported with data and with narratives from and about children.”
 
“What are the Schools Our Children Deserve?”
That’s the title of an audio program from a special edition on the Bust*ED Pencils website.  It features a number of interviews with such education luminaries as Alfie Kohn, Anthony Cody, Peter Greene, Julian Vasquez Heilig and several others.  The segment runs 20:55 minutes and centers on Kohn’s 1999 book “The Schools Our Children Deserve.”
 
The Teaching Profession
Here’s an intriguing question for both veteran teachers and newbies: “Does Teaching Get Easier With Time?”  It’s addressed by Starr Sackstein, a 14-year veteran writing and journalism teacher in New York City.  She has two interesting lists in her piece that appears in EDUCATION WEEK.  One with “some aspects of teaching [that] do get easier” over time and one with things that “will never get easier.”   Check out both her lists and see what you think. 
 
Finland
And finally, Finland is often held up as having an exemplary education system.  Their students continually rank among the highest scorers on various international assessments.  Peter DeWitt’s commentary on the Finding Common Ground” column forEDUCATION WEEK offers “3 Reasons We May Never Be Like Finland.”  “Sure, we want to be like Finland but we seem to want their results without putting in the work to get there.  That work involves working collaboratively in our school communities,” he maintains.  “We need less drill, kill and bubble fill, and  more of a focus on learning.  We need to have a more authentic understanding of what we want out of our education system.  Finland doesn’t get caught up in the test scores, as much as they focus on understanding what progress looks like, and creating a love for learning and a respect for education among their students and families.  That seems to be the thing we think of the least in the US.”

                                                                                                   http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.             

                 

 

Ed News, Tuesday, July 26, 2016 Edition

The ED NEWS

A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

      “Respect is not the equivalent to ‘liking’ a student or teacher; 
       it is the ability to have a high regard for the role of another.
       In order to receive respect, we should demonstrate it first…” 

― Tanya R. LivermanMemoirs of an Educarer: An Inspiration for Education

 
Election 2016
Friday’s edition of the “Ed News” had several articles castigating Donald Trump Jr. for his disparaging remarks about the public schools during a speech he delivered at the Republican Convention last Tuesday evening.  Several of them were from veteran educators.  Jennifer Rumsey has been a public school teacher in Texas for the past 17 years and she too took umbrage with his remarks.  Her commentary appears in the Austin American-Statesman “The truth is that Trump and the public school bashers like him don’t know anything about public education. I am proud to be an American public school teacher,”  she concludes defiantly, “and I have heard enough of the un-American rhetoric that politicians and businessmen like him use to tear down a truly American establishment and condemn the millions of Americans working hard to care for the children of this nation.”               Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana is now the Republican vice presidential candidate.  An anonymous retired Hoosier State teacher writes about Pence’s education policies and what they did to the state on the Live Long and Prosper . . . blog.  “In Indiana, Pence’s education policies have negatively impacted every aspect of education,” the author complains.  “While [previous Gov.] Mitch Daniel’s administration made sweeping changes by introducing vouchers, state-mandated teacher evaluations, salary caps, and high stakes testing, Mike Pence continued the excessive executive power, disregard of law, and hostile aggression towards educators.  Mr. Pence devalued the teaching profession by lowering requirements for qualified teachers and establishing Pearson created competency testing.  He legislated how teachers are evaluated and paid, resulting in high-stakes evaluations and minuscule performance pay.”               With the Democratic National Convention now in full swing in Philadelphia, we can pick on them for a change.  You may not know too much about Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s pick for vice president, but you should be aware that his wife, Anne, was the Sec. of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia until she stepped down from that post today to assist with her husband’s campaign for vice president.  Tim Kaine, former mayor of Richmond, governor of Virginia and current U.S. Senator, wrote 2 1/2 years ago a very encouraging piece about his experiences with the public school system in his state.  It’s titled “Lessons From 40 Years as a Richmond Public Schools Parent” and appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  He offers 7 things he’d like to change about K-12 education.  Here’s one example: “Too many great prospective teachers never enter the profession and too many great teachers leave too early over low salaries, high-stakes testing pressure, discipline challenges and an overall belief that society doesn’t value the profession.  We need a robust debate about how to value and attract good teachers.”  If you want to get some good insights into his thoughts about K-12 education and contrast them with the Trump/Pence ticket, you should check this out.              The Washington Post has a detailed profile of Tim Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, and her long history of advocating for children even before she became Virginia’s Sec. of Education in 2014 under Gov. Terry McAuliffe.  “Like most of her fellow Democrats in the state, she has opposed the expansion of charter schools and other school-choice measures,”  it points out, “and she has pushed for greater investments in public education, including teacher pay raises.”               Steven Singer, on hisGADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, draws some interesting parallelsbetween the scam of Trump University and Donald Trump’s belief in “school choice.” Singer finds the whole proposition of a Pres. Trump setting K-12 education policy rather “ironic.”              While out on the primary campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has often repeated that she would continue many of the policies of the Obama administration.  Does that include following Obama’s K-12 education initiatives which some Democrats and most progressives were not pleased with? The “Politics K-12” column inEDUCATION WEEK takes a look at just how closely Clinton might mirror the incumbent’s education policies.  “Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, loves to tell voters that her administration would pick up the policy baton from President Barack Obama,” it begins.  “But, with the Democratic National Convention kicking off [this week], it’s tough to say how true that will be when it comes to K-12 education. That’s an area where Obama has antagonized many of the teachers that make up the Democratic Party base during his first six years in office, by tying teacher evaluation to test scores, encouraging districts to turn their low-performing schools into charters, and more.”              As the Democratic National Convention continues this week in Philadelphia, ED WEEK offers another analysis of the official party platform as it pertains to education.  “The platform reflects several of the top K-12 policy priorities of American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association,”  it relates, “both of which have backed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. . . .  It’s a strong repudiation of groups that favor test-based accountability as a key tool in identifying and addressing the needs of minority students and struggling schools.  There’s a pledge in there as well to end the ‘test-and-punish version of accountability.’  Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, there are still federally required state tests—but states have a lot more freedom in how they use them to judge students, teachers, and schools.”  The piece includes two links to the full platform (55 pages) one at the beginning and one at the very end.              Two teachers from Nevada, both NEA members and delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week, have differing views on whether they will support Hillary Clinton now that she is officially the party’s nominee.  ED WEEK profiles the pair who work in the same district in Clark County (Las Vegas).              Sen. Bernie Sanders delivered a stirring speech to the DNC last night.  He vowed to do everything he could to defeat Donald Trump in November.  In addition, he made some brief comments about K-12 education and college students who graduate from school deeply in debt.  ED WEEK reviews his address and compares the education policies of Hillary Clinton and Sanders.  “He highlighted a proposal he and Clinton crafted together,” it mentions, “that would guarantee tuition-free access to public college and universities for children in families earning under $125,000 a year—the vast majority of Americans, he said.”
 
The Teaching Profession
How would you feel if a prominent person in your state believed that half of the teachers in your district “are virtually illiterate?”  If you don’t think that would ever happen you need to read a shocking item in the Chicago Tribune which obtained some emails about comments  regarding the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) written byBruce Rauner in 2011 prior to his becoming governor of Illinois.  “Rauner’s remarks were included in a batch of emails the Chicago Tribune requested from [Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel’s office more than a year ago,” it explains, “in connection with its reporting about a controversial $20.5 million no-bid CPS principal training program at the center of former district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s guilty plea to federal fraud charges last year.  The mayor’s office heavily redacted some of the messages or withheld them entirely.  The Tribune then sued the Emanuel administration, and  . . . .Cook County Judge Anna Demacopoulos ruled the mayor’s office largely violated the state’s open records laws and ordered City Hall to turn over the emails.”               6 of America’s best teachers spent several days in Finland last month studying that country’s highly successful education system. The “Teaching Now” column for ED WEEK spoke with two of them to see what they learned.  It mentions 4 take-aways from that trip including these two: 1) “Finnish Teachers Are Trusted, Seen as Experts” and 2) “A Well-Rounded Education Is About More Than Grades “
 
Testing & Common Core
Could the use of certain digital devices for standardized testsnegatively effect student scores on those exams?  That’s the rather disturbing issue raised by an article in EDUCATION WEEK, particularly as more and more districts move to the online administration of those assessments.  “To date, however, relatively little is known about how comparable state tests are when delivered on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, or Chromebooks.  Each type of device,”  the piece indicates, “has different screen sizes and ways of manipulating material—touchscreen vs. mouse, for example—and inputting information—say onscreen vs. detached keyboard—factors that could contribute to different experiences and results for students.”               Diane Ravitch has an op-ed inThe New York Times blasting the Common Core State Standardsand the tests that accompany them.  She reviews many of the arguments she and others have made in the past against the standards.  “What is called ‘the achievement gap’ is actually an ‘opportunity gap.’  What we need,” she suggests, :are schools where all children have the same chance to learn.  That doesn’t require national standards or national tests, which improve neither teaching nor learning, and do nothing to help poor children at racially segregated schools.  We need to focus on that, not on promoting failed ideas.”
 
Charter Schools and Online Academies
What is it about charter schools that gets advocates of traditional public schools so upset?  According to Carol Burris, retired award-winning New York principal and current executive director of the NPE (Network for Public Education), what gets their dander up most is referring to them as “public” schools.  Guest blogging, as she often does, on Valerie’s Strauss’ “Answer Sheet” column in The Washington Post, Burris explains why its such an affront to attach that adjective.  “Charters, regardless of their original intent, have become a threat to democratically governed, neighborhood public schools,”  Burris maintains, “and questions about their practices, opacity and lack of accountability are increasing as their numbers grow.  Placing the adjective ‘public’ in front of ‘charter’ is an affront to those who deeply believe in the mission of public schools.  Charter schools are privately run academies funded by the taxpayer.  Many are governed by larger corporations, known as CMOs [Charter Management Organizations]. Some are for-profit; others are not for profit yet still present financial ‘opportunities.'”               Georgia, like California, is not getting a very good return on its investment in online charters.  Several previous editions of the “Ed News” highlighted problems the Golden State has been having with online schools run by K12 Inc., the company that gets millions in taxpayer funding and gets very poor results for those dollars.  Georgia is experiencing similar problems according to an extensive investigative article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution titled “Georgia’s Largest Online School Paid Millions, Earns a D.”  “Georgians spend tens of millions of dollars a year on one of the biggest online schools in the nation,” it notes, “yet nearly every measure indicates the high-tech, online education model has not worked for many of its more than 13,000 students. . . .  But results show that most of them lag state performance on everything from standardized test scores to graduation rates.”
 
Great News
And finally, last November the ALOED Education Film Series sponsored a screening, for a group of students, professors, alumni and guests on the Occidental College campus, of the documentary film “Education, Inc.” which chronicled an attempted corporate “reform” takeover of a suburban Denver School District.  A lively panel discussion was part of the event.  The movie recently won a Heartland Emmy award for Best Documentary.  [Ed. note: Can we pick em, or what?] Stay tuned for future screenings and congratulations to Brian Malone, producer/director/editor of this fascinating and timely film.  You can find out all about the award onFacebook.

                                                                                                   http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.             

                 

 

Ed News, Friday, July 22, 2016 Editon

The ED NEWS

             A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

               “In an age in which the media broadcast countless pieces of foolishness,
                 the educated man is defined not by what he knows, but by what he doesn’t know.” 

― Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Teach for America Goes Global–Look Out World!
Teach for America has been providing teachers to low-income, inner city schools and charters for 25 years.  Did you know it provides similar services to a number of countries around the world?  THE Nation has an extensive profile of what TFA is doing in India where the program is referred to as, you guessed it, “Teach for India.”  “Since 2007,” it mentions, “adaptations of Teach for America’s controversial model have been implemented in 40 countries, on every continent except Antarctica, thanks to [ TFA founder Wendy] Kopp’s Teach for All network.  Though the organizations are financed through varying mixes of corporate, foundation, and state funding, there’s a remarkable continuity in the network’s so-called ‘Theory of Change,’ regardless of national differences in teacher training, student enrollment, and infrastructure quality.  Given the burgeoning presence of Teach for India in the nation’s troubled school system, the project of exporting the Teach for America model is being put to a high-profile test.  If deemed successful, this model will be poised to deliver large portions of India’s education system—and, indeed, others all over the world—into the control of the private sector on a for-profit basis.” 
 
Testing
Ever wonder how much those standardized assessments, SBAC and PARCC, cost districts and states?  A law passed in 2015 in Oregon requires the Sec. of State to conduct an audit to determine just how much the testing program is costing the taxpayers of the Beaver State.  A story on the PARENTS ACROSS AMERICA–OREGON website details the costs involved.  The numbers may surprise you and remember, Oregon is not one of our most populous states (it ranks #27 out of 50 in population).  “The original text of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965,” the item suggests after reporting the cost figures, “mentions the word ‘test’ exactly one time.  And, it doesn’t refer to the testing of children at all.  It says that the bill, or the program created by the bill, should contain an evaluation of itself.  ‘ncluding pilot projects designed to test the effectiveness of plans so developed’   It’s time to stop mercilessly testing children and to  adhere to the original intent of ESEA.  It is time to ‘test the effectiveness of the plans so developed’ — in this case by ESSA — and act accordingly in the best interest of children.”
 
Belmont High Serves Large Number of Unaccompanied Minors
The U.S. has been experiencing an influx of unaccompanied minors in the past 5 years fleeing violence in their home countries in Central America.  Many of those children and teens have been showing up at schools throughout Southern California and particularly the LAUSD.  A front-page story in Wednesday’s L.A. Times reports that nearly a quarter of the 1,000 students at Belmont High (LAUSD) in downtown L.A. have arrived from Central America, many without their parents.  It tells the story of one young orphan man from Guatemala who is struggling to make his way in America.  “At Belmont, teachers contend with the trauma many of these children suffered in their countries of origin or along the treacherous journey north,” it explains.  “Some of the students struggle against resentment and abandonment issues while getting to know a mother, father or family member who left them behind. Some run away.”              The above article about Belmont High School and its large number of immigrant students, many of them unaccompanied minors, drew two letters that appear in today’s L.A. Times.  “This important story reminds us what courage is, what tenacity is,”  the first one writes, “and how lucky we are to have these brave young people who embody the best American values here with us. The article shows what the mission of our schools should be.”
 
Online vs Traditional Classroom Learning
A new study from Northwestern University finds that 8th grade students who look an online Algebra I class did not score as well on tests as their peers who took the course in a traditional classroom setting.  A brief item about the research appears on theNorthwestern School of Education and Social Policywebsite.  The full report can be found in the journal Economics of Education Review but requires a paid subscription.
 
Election 2016
Few of the presidential candidates, both Democrat and Republican, spent much time talking about education issues on the primary campaign trail.  Now that the GOP has settled on its Trump/Pence ticket, it’s time to focus on what they might offer as future proposals related to education by looking back at some of their previous pronouncements and policies.  An article in The New York Timesputs veep selection Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s record on educationunder review. It focuses on 3 key issues: Charter Schools and Vouchers, Common Core and Testing and Preschool Expansion.  “As a congressman, [Pence] was one of just two dozen Republicans to vote against the No Child Left Behind act championed by President George W. Bush,” the piece mentions.  “Mr. Pence said he was concerned about federal intrusion into what had been a state and local issue.  He has largely hewed to Republican ideas of more school choice and a smaller federal role in education. But he has also alienated some members of his own party, who said Mr. Pence paid more attention to politics than to policy.”           Donald Trump’s son, Donald, Jr., delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention Tuesday night that included a scathing attack on traditional public schools in this country.  Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, reviews the address and points out the son’s attitudes toward education are nearly identical to his father’s.  “Trump Jr. never went to a public school.  He attended private schools until he went to college at the University of Pennsylvania,” she points out.  “What does Donald Trump, the candidate, think? Education wasn’t high on the list of discussion topics during the primary season, but he has long been a supporter of school choice and a critic of traditional public schools.”               A member of the Badass Teachers Association (BATs) and a teacher in New York was up in arms over the speech by Donald Trump Jr., at the GOP convention Tuesday night (see above).  “Okay, not sure of the rest of the stupid arguments against teachers,”  he disgustingly concludes, “but those are the good old standards that the ignorant always roll out.  Just figured I would put all the nastiness in one place, save us time on moving from thread to thread defending our chosen profession.  God help this country.”     Another veteran New York City high school teacher, Arthur Goldstein, takes Donald Trump Jr. to task for his pejorative comments about teachers in his Tuesday evening address to the Republican Convention (see two items directly above).  His analysis appears on the nyc educator blog as he offers a point-by-point rebuttal to a number of the charges against educators leveled by Trump Jr..  “It’s absurd and obscene,” Goldstein concludes, “that we who devote our lives to helping children are vilified by the same people who make it impossible to fund their schools.  It’s even worse that their remedy for public schools is making it easier for zillionaires to profit from them.”            The Jersey Jazzman, aka Mark Weber, is having some problems with recent comments about education made by both Donald Trump Jr. and Hillary Clinton.  He has some major concerns about how public schools are funded and where Donald Trump and the Clintons sent their own children to school.  This item includes a video of  the speech by Donald Trump Jr. at the GOP Convention (16:39 minutes) and one by Hillary Clinton before the American Federation of Teachers in Minneapolis (31:51 minutes).             Gene V. Glass, on his Education in Two Worlds blog, prints a copy of the section of the GOP Platform on education without comment or analysis.                Big thanks to ALOED member Larry Lawrence for sending a hilarious  (scary?) (depending on your political point-of-view) item from The Atlantic titled “Why Are Third-Graders Afraid of Donald Trump?”  It profiles a pair of third-graders from Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb west of Boston, who have formed a “Kids Against Trump” group on their campus.  “Their group isn’t very big.  It’s just them and a few friends and neighbors,” the article points out, “plus they have support from about 200 people who have so far signed their Change.org petition.  Also, close to 500 people follow the group’s Facebook page, and have offered virtual support from far-flung states.”               Andrew Rotherman, who formerly worked in the Clinton administration and is a cofounder and partner of Bellwether Education Partners, a national nonprofit that supports corporate “reform” and privatization, suggests that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are not yet done with those kinds of reforms.  Writing inU.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, he maintains that despite the wording of the party’s platform and recent comments Clinton made to the NEA and AFT, he wants to assure his readers that she’s still in favor of the things the corporate “reformers” want.  Rotherman’s commentary is titled “Democrats Aren’t Done With Education–Don’t Write Off Hillary Clinton or Democratic Party When it Comes to Education Reform.”             Donald Trump’s nomination acceptance speech at the Republican Convention last night was short on education specifics.  Few of the addresses during the 4-day parlay concentrated on that topic.  Two items from EDUCATION WEEK touch on the GOP and education policies.  The first reviews Trumps speech and some other comments that were made at the convention in Cleveland.  “Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump,”  it notes, “gave a shout-out to a long-treasured GOP priority, school choice, in his nomination acceptance speech here Thursday, and in a section on education attacked a long-time party bogeyman, “bureaucrats”. . . . But anyone who wanted policy details about where Trump stood on education before the convention kicked off on Monday was just as in the dark when the balloons hit the floor four days later.”  The second highlights some Trump pronouncements over the course of the campaign and before on K-12 policy.  Here’s one sample:“On who he listens to about education:  ‘I was with Dr. Ben Carson today [a one-time rival for the nomination] … We spoke for over an hour on education.  And he has such a great handle on it.  He wants competitive schools.  He wants a lot of different things that are terrific, including charter schools, by the way, that the unions are fighting like crazy.  But charter schools work, and they work very well.’ – GOP debate in Miami, March 2016”
 
The Teaching Profession
THE HECHINGER REPORT provides 4 concrete ways to improve math instruction for elementary teachers.  The ideas came from Finland, Japan and China. “Why don’t American students really get math?” it begins,  “Because their elementary school teachers don’t either, says Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a policy institute that studies what America can learn from the world’s best-performing education systems.”  Here is lesson #2 from the article: “Require that elementary school teachers specialize in content areas.  Most primary school teachers in the U.S. teach all subjects.  In many top countries, teacher candidates specialize in either math and science or language and social studies.”                The corporate “reformers” love to paint teachers unions as the bogeyman when it comes to improving education.  “What if Everything You Thought You Knew About Teachers Unions Turned Out to Be Wrong” is the title of a piece on Jennifer Berkshire’s EduShyster blog that features some new research about those unions.  She interviews the author of a brand new study by Eunice Han, who has a PhD in Economics from Harvard University and will be joining the economics faculty of the University of Utah in the fall.  Dr. Han’s report looks at a number of fallacies some politicians and privatizers love to perpetuate about teachers unions.  “By demanding higher salaries for teachers, unions give school districts a strong incentive to dismiss ineffective teachers before they get tenure,” Han explains in response to one question.  “Highly unionized districts dismiss more bad teachers because it costs more to keep them.  Using three different kinds of survey data from the National Center for Education Statistics, I confirmed that unionized districts dismiss more low-quality teachers than those with weak unions or no unions.  Unionized districts also retain more high-quality teachers relative to district with weak unionism.  No matter how and when I measured unionism I found that unions lowered teacher attrition.”  Berkshire’s article includes a link to the full report (62 pages) titled “The Myths of Unions’ Overprotection of Bad Teachers” that was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.  Diane Ravitch suggests you “Send this link to Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, and any other reformers you can think of.”              A nine-year veteran English teacher in Louisiana tackles some of those myths about teachersshe’s heard over the years.  One of the myths she dispels: “Whining about how bad we have it.”  Her comments appear on THE EDUCATOR’S ROOM website.               POP QUIZ time.  What is a “VLC?”  If you answered “virtual learning community” you are correct.  For EXTRA POINTS can you describe what a VLC is?  Briefly they are online professional development resources for teachers often through group or peer-to-peer learning communities. Need/want more information about VLCs?  The “CTQ Collaboratoy” column at EDUCATION WEEK has a piece titled “How Teachers Can Benefit From Virtual Learning Communities” which provides a primer for you so you can score 100% on the next quiz about VLCs.  “Part of the challenge of teaching in the 21st century is that many (most?) of us received 20th century educations,” the author writes.  “We connected to others through face-to-face study groups and relied heavily on in-class discussions.  We worked largely in isolation outside of school, or in face-to-face collaboration during the school day.  Only in the last decade or two have we increasingly relied on virtual collaboration as a way to connect, collaborate, and improve our individual and collective practice.”
Grit
Paul Tough, in his book “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character” (A previous ALOED Book Club title), was one of the early proponents of the concept of teaching “grit” to students, particularly low-income ones.  In his latest volume, “Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why” he walks that idea back a bit.  John Thompson, on the LIVING in DIALOGUE blog, reviews Tough’s latest title and comes away much more encouraged about what he’s read.  Thompson’s essay is titled “Paul Tough Turns Away From Punitive Education Reforms.”  “What most separates reformers and educators who oppose them is their punishment fetish.  We don’t deny that accountability and consequences are facts of life,” he concludes, “and those extrinsic measures have a role to play.  Corporate reformers remain firm that the punitive must play a decisive part in school improvement.  These measures also are a tactical device aimed at discrediting, disrupting and replacing public schools.  Tough speaks softly as he articulates a constructive message that emphasizes the better angels of human beings.  Perhaps he will help win the competition-driven reformers over to his collaborative vision.  Or, maybe, they won’t change until they taste defeat.  I hope we don’t have to wait until that final battle before incorporating Tough’s wisdom into a new era of school improvement.”
 
Fethullah Gülen and the Attempted Turkish Coup (Continued)
An attempted coup in Turkey failed last Friday (the previous edition of the “Ed News” contained several items relating to the event).  The surviving Turkish government has accused a reclusive Turkish Imam, Fethullah Gülen, who resides in the Pocono Mountains in the northeastern portion of Pennsylvania as the leader behind the coup.  Interestingly, Gülen owns one of the largest charter chains in the U.S.  Valerie Strauss, in her column in The Washington Post,details several actions the government has taken to curtail the activities of Gülen.  “The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked education officials in Texas and California to investigate publicly funded charter schools in those states,” it begins, “that it says are linked to a Muslim cleric living in the United States, a man the government alleges was the mastermind of a coup attempt this month.  The Turkish government also is planning to bring more complaints in other parts of the U.S.”  Strauss includes a link to the formal legal complaint filed in California against the Magnolia Public Schools that are connected to Gülen.
 
Educational Inequality
Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, offers a “modest proposal” for dealing with educational inequality: let the rich kids get the same teachers, schools, curricula and tests, i,e. corporate “reform,”as the low-income ones.  Not following any of this?  Check out his piece and he’ll explain in his own unique style.  “So I’m asking, please, let the children of the rich and powerful experience these same corporate educate reforms.  Every child deserves the right to be taught by an untrained instructor,” he suggests.  “Every child should have an education devised by non-experts making huge profits off the results.  Every child’s success should be determined through mass marketed, standardized, A,B,C exams.  Every child should get to go to a school where the administration can reduce services and maximize profit.  Only then can we finally compare test scores between rich and poor. Only then will be one America!  Only then will no rich child be left behind.”
 
Charter Schools
The vehemently anti-charter United Teachers Los Angeles and a local charter (most charters are rabidly anti-union) actually came to an agreement on a key issue. A previous edition of the “Ed News” highlighted a battle between 9 teachers at El Camino Real Charter High School and the LAUSD.  The charter did not want to pay retiree benefits and offered to pay the group of teachers to return to the district just long enough so that it would be on the hook for their benefits.  That’s when UTLA jumped in on the side of the charter!  If this all sounds rather convoluted, it is!  Check out a story in the “Education Watch” column in today’s L.A. Times that sorts it all out for you.  “El Camino is unionized,” it explains, “which is a main reason the teachers have retiree health benefits in the first place.  These benefits help cover what isn’t handled by Medicare, the federal health program for retirees.  Union president Alex Caputo-Pearl said his organization would fight ‘to enforce our members’ rights under the UTLA/LAUSD contract.’  He noted that the district agreed to give El Camino teachers up to five years to return to L.A. Unified after El Camino became a charter.”                 Are charter schools leading the way to the re-segregation of our public schools?  Jeff Bryant, writing for ALTERNET, tackles that question and he uses what’s been taking place in Little Rock, Arkansas, as his example.  His extended essay is titled “Charter Schools and the Waltons Take Little Rock Back to its Segregated Past.”  “This time, those being accused of segregating students aren’t local bigots. Instead,” Bryant maintains, “Little Rock citizens see segregation as being imposed upon them by outsiders, operating under the guise of a reform agenda. . . .  And new entities, such as charter schools (publicly funded schools that are privately operated) and private foundations controlled by a small number of rich people, sow divisions in the community.”
 
Proposed New School Accountability System
And finally, the previous two editions of the “Ed News” (July 15 and 19) contained items about a draft proposal from the California State Board of Education about a new school accountability system.  It is much more detailed than the old single number rating API (Academic Performance Index).  The new plan uses a number of different criteria to measure school growth and progress and a series of color-coded boxes.  The draft proposal drew the ire of theL.A. Times.  An editorial in today’s paper took the board to task for making the process overly cumbersome and difficult to understand.  “The board’s determination to measure schools by more than merely test scores is laudable and has led national thinking on the topic.  But the new system is more than overly warm and fuzzy,” it complains. “Making sense of it is practically impossible.”

                                                                                                   http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.             

                 

 

Ed News, Tuesday, July 19, 2016 Edition

The ED NEWS

             A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

                “An educator will teach the students. An Educarer will reach the students.”

― Tanya R. LivermanMemoirs of an Educarer: An Inspiration for Education

 
Possible New School Accountability System for California

Friday’s “Ed News” highlighted a review by Anthony Cody on his LIVING in DIALOGUE blog of the proposed school accountability system being hammered out for California.  Saturday’s L. A. Timeshas an additional analysis of the new plan.  The new system would rate schools with a series of colored boxes rather than a single number–the old Academic Performance Index (API).  “The latest proposal,” it explains, “presented Wednesday at a meeting of the State Board of Education in Sacramento, is ‘the California Model,’ a display of 17 colored boxes that summarizes how a school is doing in such categories as math or career readiness, both in terms of current status and progress over time.  Performance is rated on indicators set by state and federal law as well as those evaluated under the state’s new school funding formula.”
 
Charter Schools
A new study of the voucher program in Ohio (known as “EdChoice”) from the conservative, nonprofit THOMAS B. FORDHAM INSTITUTE, an education policy think tank that supports charters and school choice, produced some rather surprising findings.  You can read a very brief summary of the report by clicking here.  One of the key findings:  “The students who used vouchers to attend private schools fared worse on state exams compared to their closely matched peers remaining in public schools.”  The piece includes a link to the full report (62 pages) titled “Evaluation of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program: Selection, Competition and Performance Effects.”  
 
U.S. Students Win World Math Olympiad
Why do the corporate “reformers” keep insisting American students lag behind their peers in the rest of the world?  6 U.S. students just won the 2016 International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) for THE SECOND YEAR-IN-A-ROW.  The competition was held in Hong Kong and the DAILY KOS has the brief encouraging details.  “Huge Congratulations to Team USA for this remarkable performance!  This is a repeat of last year’s winning performance,”it explains, “which was considered a true breakthrough after 20 years without a win.  The USA team was not very competitive for a long stretch in this time frame.”              Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, has a more detailed article about the U.S. win at the world Math Olympiad (see above) including 3 problems from the competition (and a link to 3 additional problems if you want extra credit).  Go ahead, solve them!  “Americans are generally lousy at math, right?  At least that’s what we hear,” Strauss begins, “every time there is an international test and the United States doesn’t come in close to the top.  But consider this: The U.S. team of high school students just won the International Math Olympiad — said to be the most prestigious competition for high school math problem-solving.  And there’s more: It was the second consecutive win for the American team at the Olympiad, and Po-Shen Loh, head coach, thinks it says something important about Americans and their math ability.”
 
The Opt-Out Movement and Testing
The State of New York, and particularly Long Island, is ground zero of the opt-out movement and the phenomenon is spreading.  TheLas Vegas Sun reports that the number of students opting out of standardized testing this year was up slightly in the state.  “While Clark County [Las Vegas] saw a decrease, opt-outs statewide are slightly up from last year,” it notes,  “In Washoe County, the second largest school district in the state, schools saw a nearly 58 percent increase in SBAC opt-outs and test refusals over last year.  Most of those were in grades four and seven.”
 
SOS Gathering
It’s summertime and if you have a lot of extra time and want to watch a series of videos from the Save Our Scho0ls gathering you can view the events of the morning of July 8th (3:23 HOURS) and the afternoon of July 8th (2:02 hours).  Both have links to additional videos of events from Saturday, July 9th.  All appear on the livestream website.
 
Rafe Esquith
The Tuesday edition of the “Ed News” had an update on the Rafe Esquith case.  A Superior Court judge in Los Angeles ruled last week that his defamation suit against the LAUSD could proceed.  Diane Ravitch’s blog prints a detailed review of Esquith’s case from an anonymous blogger who is a 20-year veteran of the LAUSD who goes by the name “Geronimo.”  “I know who he is; I have met him. But I am not telling,” Ravitch teases.             What has Esquith been up to since he was fired by the district in October?  Apparently, he’s not been sitting around moping about his situation according to one of his biggest supporters, Jay Matthews, in The Washington Post.  “After months of silence, Esquith has revealed that he moved his intricate, multi-layered teaching to a new classroom months ago,” Matthews writes, “and next year will revive his annual series of Shakespearean plays put on by elementary school students.  In the new program, whose location and sponsorship he did not specify, ‘the kids read four Shakespeare plays in addition to Great Expectations,’ he said in an email addressed to ‘Friends.’”
 
Charter School Ties to Attempted Turkish Coup?
Yes, you read the headline correctly.  The president of Turkey, a NATO ally of the U.S., has survived a coup attempt and quickly accused a reclusive Turkish Imam, Fethullah Gülen for the attempted overthrow of his democratically elected government.  “So,” you ask,” where’s the connection to charter schools in this country?”  Gülen happens to own one of the largest charter networks in the U.S.!  “You’ve got to be kidding,” you reply, “where did you see this?”  In no less an authority than  a story in Sunday’s L.A. Times [Ed. note: It was NOT in the National Enquirer–I promise] that sorts out all the wild details.  [Gülen’s]influence is chiefly felt through Hizmet [the name for his personal movement], which includes think tanks, media enterprises and an international network of schools, including about 130 public charter schools in the United States,”  it points out at the very end of the story.  “The schools, including Truebright Science Academy in Philadelphia and two others in Pennsylvania, teach no religion.  All emphasize science, math and technology.  Still, suspicions linger.  Four years ago, a Gulen-linked group unsuccessfully tried to open a charter school in Allentown, an hour north of Philadelphia.  School directors cited the group’s evasiveness over its ties to Gulen as one of their concerns, though ultimately rejected the application on other grounds.”  Charters have been accused, and in too many cases found guilty, of fraud, embezzlement and other serious charges but having a connection, albeit a tenuous one, to a coup attempt is certainly unprecedented.  For a list of Gülen Charter Schools in the U.S., including almost a dozen in California, check out the chart on the CHARTER SCHOOL SCANDALS blog.              Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, also weighs in on Fethullah Gülen, his charter network, and claims he was involved in the coup attempt in Turkey.  “The man that Turkey’s leaders have blamed for a failed coup attempt by a group of army officers is an Islamic scholar named Fethullah Gulen,” it says, “who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and who has inspired a network said to include more than 160 charter schools in the United States.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that the coup attempt Friday was the work of army officers who are followers of Gulen, who had once been an ally but whose movement has become critical of the increasingly authoritarian regime.”              Who is Fethullah Gülen?   What is his Hizmet Movement?  How is this connected to the attempted coup in Turkey?  The Jersey Jazzman tries to connect all the dots for you and provides some answers to those questions.  “It’s well past time to clean up the charter school sector.  Standards of transparency and accountability have got to become much tougher,”  he suggests,  “Americans have every right to know who, exactly, is running their schools and under what circumstances.  If the Turkish coup and the growth of Gulen-linked charter schools teaches us anything, it’s that the consequences for not properly regulating the charter sector are potentially serious and far-ranging.”              EDUCATION WEEK weighs in on the connection betweenGülen’s charter schools and the failed coup in Turkey. The piece is titled “The Bizarre Link Between Some U.S. Charters and the Failed Coup in Turkey.”  “Fethullah Gulen, the founder of what is often described as a moderate Islamic movement which remains strong in Turkey,” it suggests, “has also been linked to science- and math-focused charter schools run by Turkish educators across this country.    Most recently, local media outlets in California, Ohio, and Texas have reported on charter schools with alleged ties to Gulen, though he does not directly run any charters.”             [Ed. note: In early November the ALOED Education Film Series is considering screening  the provocative documentary “Killing Ed” about “charter schools, corruption and the Gulen Movement.” Here’s a brief description of the film from the official website: “KILLING ED is a new documentary feature film that exposes a shocking truth: that one of the largest networks of taxpayer-funded charter schools in the U.S. are a worst-case-scenario—operated with questionable academic, labor, and H1-B visa standards by members of the “Gülen Movement” – a rapidly expanding, global Islamic group whose leader, Fethullah Gülen, lives in seclusion in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  KILLING ED enlightens its audiences everywhere with a shocking, first-hand look inside the schools while revealing the corruption of those attempting to privatize our public schools through education ‘reform’ in America.”   With what’s been going on in Turkey our timing (we have been thinking about showing it for a month or two) couldn’t be better.  Stay tuned for more specific details.  Based on recent headlines, you won’t want to miss this one.]
 
San Diego County Schools Superintendent to be Placed on Leave
It’s not just individuals at charters who get involved with  financial shenanigans.  This blog has chronicled a number of those examples.  Now, yesterday’s L.A. Times reports, the San Diego County Schools Superintendent, Randy Ward, will be placed on administrative leave while the school board conducts an audit looking into possible fraud and mismanagement.  Already one lawsuit has been filed and another is threatened.  “In the lawsuit,[attorney Cory] Briggs alleges the superintendent paid himself illegal retroactive increases without going to the board and accuses him of conflict of interest, self-dealing and abuse of public office,” the article points out.  “At least $100,000 should be paid back to taxpayers, Briggs said.   According to the lawsuit, Ward illegally authorized salary boosts for senior managers, including[Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Laura] Duzyk.  Duzyk is accused of acting improperly in her role as chief financial officer.”
 
Election 2016
This doesn’t have anything to do with education but since the Republican National Convention kicked off in Cleveland yesterday, I thought I’d drop it into this edition of the “Ed News.”  Peter Dreier, Professor of Politics at Occidental College has penned a hilarious poem about the Trump/Pence presidential ticket.  It’s titled “The Donald Makes a Choice” and appears on THE HUFFINGTON POST.  Diane Ravitch calls it “funny.”  Here are two sample stanzas:
 
“We know that both are anti-gay
And both support the NRA;
Pence thinks that smoking makes you healthy
And busting unions makes you wealthy;”
 
The “Politics K-12” column in EDUCATION WEEK caught up with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee, as the GOP convention in Cleveland got under way, who chatted about various education issues related to Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton and a future head of the Dept. of Education if Trump wins, among others.  Regarding the latter, Alexander wouldn’t name any names.            When the 2016-17 school year begins, the general election campaign will be in full swing.  A segment of “The Making the Grade” PBS NEWSHOUR program (6:26 minutes) looks at how U.S. Government teachers are approaching the issues, personalities and rhetoric of this election.  It focuses on one high school in Maryland.  [Ed. note: I taught U.S.  Government and U.S. History for 26 years and elections were always an exciting and interesting time to teach both those courses.  Talk about teachable moments.  Almost every day we had a topic straight from the newspaper or television about a particular candidate, issue or how the process worked.  I retired in 2009 and so will have to miss out on working with juniors and seniors (some of whom could vote) in this unique (bizarre?) election cycle.]               The “Ed News,” over the last couple of issues has highlighted a number of items dissecting the Democratic Platform as it relates to education.  With the Republicans wrapping up day 2 of their gathering in Cleveland today, it’s time to shift the focus to the GOP Platform.  An article inEDUCATION WEEK features some of the key components regarding education.  It includes a full copy of the document (66 pages) at the end of the item and a link to just the education section.  “The Republican Party has released its 2016 platform on education, and while much remains unchanged from the 2012 platform,”  The ED WEEK article begins, “there are a few notable shifts from four years ago on the Common Core State Standards and other issues.”
The Teaching Profession
The “Education” column in yesterday’s L.A. Times features a heartwarming feature about Keith Christian, a totally blind teacher, who works with students who are blind or visually impaired at the Clara Barton Elementary School in Anaheim.  He was recently named the National Braille Teacher of the Year and is the first completely blind educator to win that honor.  “Christian became a teacher, he said, because he hoped to help children avoid his steep learning curve.  He also wanted to have summers off with his kids,” the piece recounts, “and he was lucky enough to be near his son and daughter during the year too, while they attended the school.”               If some or all of your students have cellphones at school, be prepared when the new school year commences, for the wildly popular new mobile device game “Pokémon Go.”  Since its introduction early this month it has become the biggest mobile game ever.  The “Digital Education” column in EDUCATION WEEK reviews how the sensational new game works and weighs the pros and cons.  “The unexpected summer surge has parents and educators buzzing about the potential for educational applications,” it relates, “and fretting about privacy and safety risks they’d prefer children to avoid.  Educators say they see opportunities to capitalize on students’ love for the game in the teaching of subjects like social studies, local history, math, mapping, and literacy.”
 
Detroit
And finally, the plight of the woefully underfunded Detroit Public Schools (DPS) only seems to be getting worse under state control.  The district is deeply in debt and saddled with dilapidated school buildings and deteriorating infrastructure.  The Detroit Free Press continues its coverage of the situation.  “Michigan’s Emergency Loan Board on Monday approved measures to implement a $617-million financial rescue and restructuring plan for Detroit’s public schools,” it explains, “over the vocal objections of elected school board members and others who attended the meeting in Lansing. . . . Critics say the plan treats Detroit public school students as second-class citizens because they would be the only Michigan public school students who could be taught by uncertified teachers.  They also say much of the debt addressed by the plan was rung up while Detroit schools were under state control.”

                                                                                                           http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.             

                 

 

Ed News, Friday, July 15, 2016 Edition

                            The ED NEWS

                                 A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

                “there is one right thing for the student to do, that is, to develop the habit of weighing worths,
                 of sensing the relative values of the facts that he meets.” 

― Frank Morton McMurryHow to Study and Teaching How to Study

 
New LAUSD Student School Board Member
The “Education Watch” column in Wednesday’s L.A. Times has a profile of Karen Calderon, the newest student member of the LAUSD board.  She was elected by other student leaders in the district, was sworn in on July 6, doesn’t have a vote on the board but has plans to serve as a strong representative of her 650,000 constituents.  “The newest Los Angeles Unified School District student board member — elected by other high school student leaders in the district — will have a voice at school board meetings,” the piece explains.  “At 16, she will be able to put items on the agenda up for discussion at meetings, comment and vote.  But her vote is just advisory, so it doesn’t factor into decision-making. . . .  So she plans to dig into the issues she cares about — financial literacy, access to better drinking water, rigorous graduation standards — before board meetings.  To make her voice count, she wants to talk to board members when they’re making the decisions. It’s a strategy that Steve Zimmer, the (adult) board president himself, applauds.”
 
Election 2016
A very brief item in the “Teacher Beat” column for EDUCATION WEEK reports that 84% of the delegates who attended the Representative Assembly at the recent National Education Association (NEA) convention endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.                Jeff Bryant, writing on the Education Opportunity NETWORK, reviews the battles that took place over education issues during the drafting of the Democratic platform.  He zeroes in on the eventual wording that was agreed to by both Sanders and Clinton supporters regarding the party’s stance on charter schools.  “The ascendancy of the populist rebellion in the Democratic Party being led by Sanders and others,” Bryant concludes, “has been very much driven by the values of democracy and support for the public good over private interests and profit.  Education has yet to advance to the forefront of this rebellion, but it will not be immune to it.”               The Tuesday edition of the “Ed News” had several items with copies of the Democratic Party’s Platform on education policy and analysis by various commentators.  You can find a copy (4 pages) of the latest iteration by clicking here.  For an unofficial transcript of the session (7 pages) where the document was hammered out on July 8 and 9 click here.             An article in the “Early Years”column in EDUCATION WEEK indicates the Republican platform on education rejects the idea of public prekindergarten.  “One of the 112 members of the committee,” it relates, “said the party’s opposition comes because pre-K ‘inserts the state in the family relationship in the very early stages of a child’s life’.”              The previous edition of the “Ed News” highlighted an item in which Anthony Cody, on his LIVING in DIALOGUE blog, questioned some of his FaceBook friends about some key election issues and he published responses from 11 of them.  In a follow-up piece he prints some additional perspectives that came in after his original was published.   He titles this one “Election 2016: Education Activist Views Part 2.”                When choosing which political candidate to support, what are the most important issues among adults aged 18-30?  A “GenForward” poll of over 1,950 respondents found that education was one of the top political issues among this demographic according to an item in the “Politics K-12” column in EDUCATION WEEK.  “Results were also broken down by responses from African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites,” it notes, “who were asked about a variety of public policy issues.  Among those four groups, African-Americans were the most likely to select education as a top issue—35 percent did so—while whites were least likely to single out education.”  The item also provides some results from a Pew Research Center survey of registered voters and what are their key issues.  A copy of the “GenForward” survey (34 pages) is included at the end of the story.       The Republican National Convention kicks off in Cleveland on Monday.  Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump is expected to formally name Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate tomorrow.  Jonathan Pelto, on his Wait What? blog, describes Pence as an extreme anti-public education supporter. “Not only is Indiana Governor Mike Pence the most anti-choice governor in the country, he is nothing short of a puppet for the charter school industry and its corporate education reform allies.  As Indiana’s governor,” he points out, “Pence has driven an anti-teacher, anti-public education political and legislative agenda that has included dramatically expanding charter schools and diverting scarce public funds to voucher programs that, in turn, have allowed private individuals to use taxpayer money to send their children to religious schools.”              Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, notes that Gov. Pence continues to go against the will of Indiana voters in regard to various education issues.  She describes the ongoing battle between the Republican Pence and Glenda Ritz, the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction and the only statewide elected Democratic official, who actually garnered more votes than Pence in the 2012 election .  Ritz is currently involved in an re-election campaign while Pence is joining the Republican presidential ticket.  “Ritz and Pence fought over school choice, with the governor pushing the expansion of charter schools and vouchers, and Ritz thinking that these initiatives took public money away from traditional public schools that educated most students,” Strauss writes.  “Earlier this year, Ritz urged state lawmakers not to expand vouchers — which are essentially tax dollars used to pay private school tuition for students — which cover nearly 2.9 percent of Indiana’s students.”               EDUCATION WEEK has an interactive feature comparing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on various education issues like “Academic Standards,” “School Choice,” “Testing” and “Teacher Quality” among others.  You can click on the topic you’d like to compare Clinton and Trump.
 
Spending Increases for Education Lag Way Behind Increases for Prisons!
A article in The Washington Post is depressingly titled “Since 1980, Spending on Prisons Has Grown Three Times as Much as Spending on Public Education.” How can that possibly be true?  An analysis of federal data by the U.S. Dept. of Education bears out this reality.  “From 1980 to 2013,” the story reviews, “state and local spending on public schools doubled, from $258 billion to $534 billion, according to the analysis.  Over the same period, the number of people incarcerated in state and local prisons more than quadrupled, and spending also increased by more than four times, from $17 billion to $71 billion.”  Check out the state-by-state chart comparing school spending to prison outlays.
Charter Schools
Are charter schools public? “Why, of course,” the corporate “reformers” maintain.  Ann Berlak, a reader of Diane Ravitch’s blog, begs to differ as she makes the argument they aren’t.  “Most public schools are accountable to an elected school board made up of community
members.  Residents of that community have the right to be present at Board meetings, weigh in
 on votes and debates, and access public financial documents,” Berlak argues.  “Charter schools are run by executive boards, committees or corporations whose members often
 live outside the community in which they are located and are not accountable to parents or
 the taxpayers/community members who fund them.
”  She proceeds to offer some more compelling reasons why charters aren’t public schools.           The Supreme Court in the State of Washington ruled that the state’s funding of charter schools was unconstitutional.  The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit this week making the same claim against Mississippi’s system.  It’s based on a recent change made by the Mississippi legislature regarding how charters are funded.  Jackson, the state capital, has the only two charters in the state with a third to open in the fall.  A story in THE HECHINGER REPORT has the details about the action.            Add Nevada to the list of states where challenges have been filed against charter schools and voucher programs.  On July 29, the state’s Supreme Court will hear a case claiming the Silver State’s“voucher program is unconstitutional and illegal.”  Diane Ravitch’s blog prints a statement from Educate Nevada Now (ENN) about the suit.  “Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESA) voucher program,” the announcement reads, “would siphon off critically needed funds from Nevada’s public schools – as much as $30 million a year!  That money would be available to any Nevada family to pay for private education, even if that family already has the means to pay and currently affords private education for their children.”         The Jersy Jazzman, aka Mark Weber, blasts the charter industry and those pushing charters for convincing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to divert funds from the traditional public school system into the charter business.  His piece is titled “How the Charter Cheerleading Industry is Abetting the Destruction of Public Schools.”  “I know I swore off wasting my time (and yours),”Weber begins, “criticizing reformy edu-bloggers.  But I’ve been watching a back-and-forth on social media for the past few days that is such a good example of how destructive the charter cheerleading industry has become (fueled with an insane amount of money from ideological foundations) that I have no choice but to comment.”  He illustrates his piece with several charts and graphs to buttress his points.               A new study finds that charter schools in Michigan are causing major financial problems for the traditional public schools in that state. Jennifer Berkshire, aka theEduShyster, interviews the lead author of the report.  She has several links to the full report (45 pages) titled “Which Districts Get Into Financial Trouble and Why: The Michigan Story” from The Education Policy Center at Michigan State University.

 

New Science Standards
The Next Generation Science Standards have been adopted by 18 states, including California.  The “Making the Grade” program on the PBS NEWSHOUR has a video segment on how the standards are being implemented in schools in Wyoming.  You can view the program (7:59 minutes) and/or read a transcript by clicking here.               EDUCATION WEEK has a brief item about the above program on the new science standards.  It includes a map showing which states have adopted them and which ones have not.
 
Reducing Student Suspensions
Building a sense of respect and empathy between pupils and teachers can lead to a reduction in student suspensions according to some new research led by a social psychologist from Stanford University that’s featured in a story in EDUCATION WEEK.  “A one-time intervention to help teachers and students empathize with each other,” the article reports, “halved the number of suspensions at five diverse California middle schools, and helped students who had previously been suspended feel more connected at school.”
 
Rafe Esquith
Well-known Hobart Blvd. Elementary School (LAUSD) teacher Rafe Esquith, who was fired after allegations of inappropriate behavior, won a victory in an L.A. Superior Court when a judge ruled his defamation suit against the district could proceed.  An article in yesterday’s L.A. Times has the latest details on the ongoing case.  “Esquith has not been charged with any crimes,” it points out, “and his lawyers have denied any misconduct.  [One of Esquith’s attorneys] contends that other allegations from the district are also false and an attempt to undermine Esquith’s credibility after he began to criticize the district’s handling of teacher investigations.”
 
SOS Gathering
The SOS (Save Our Schools) march and conference met last Friday and Saturday in Washington, D.C.  Diane Ravitch addressed the participants on Friday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  You can watch her remarks (9:46 minutes), courtesy of the LIVING in DIALOGUE blog.  
 
New Book on School Privatization 
“Education and the Commercial Mindset” is the relatively unrevealing title of an important new book that makes the point that privatizing public education is not a good idea.  The author, Samuel E. Abrams, is the Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University and a former teacher at Beacon High School in New York City.  Valerie Strauss, in her column for The Washington Post,has an interview with the author.  Strauss includes a link to a review of the book Deborah Meier.  Meier gives it 5 out of 5 stars and states at the outset of her piece “This is a book that you should rush out and buy/read.”
 
                             Inline image 2
 

Want an idea of what corporate “reform” and privatization looks like and what the future might hold for your district?  You don’t have to go any farther than the Denver Public School system which went all in on school “choice.”  The author of this piece is a guest blogger on the EduShyster website and is a recent teacher with the DPS.  “Much of Denver’s school reform has focused on the creation of new charter schools,” she laments.  “Since 2005, DPS has opened more than 70 schools, most of which are charters.  One of these opened near my former school, causing our enrollment to decline, which then triggered more budget cuts in our already bare-bones staffing.  But at least my school stayed open.  Forty eight schools have closed in the past ten years.  In fact, DPS officials attributed the enrollment loss that triggered the most recent round of budget cuts and teacher layoffs in part to school closures.”                Why does it seem that most of the billionaire philanthropists and wealthy foundations, who claim to want to “help kids,” direct most of their money to charter schools?  Wouldn’t it “help kids” if they spent some of those billions on the public school system?  Thomas Ultican, a high school math and physics teacher in San Diego, writing on his TULTICAN blog, looks at how the influential San Diego Foundation pours million of dollars into mostly private and charter schools.  His commentary is titled “San Diego Foundation Biased Toward Privatizing Schools.”  He includes a list of some of the foundations involved in the same types of practices in Los Angeles.  “It is clear that all recent education agendas coming from corporate entities have been about what is good for the adults at those corporations.  Reform has become,” he suggests, “almost exclusively about fleecing taxpayers at the expense of their children.”

 
Proposed School Accountability Measures in California

And finally, Anthony Cody, on his LIVING in DIALOGUE blog, assesses the proposed school accountability system in California.  “The new system being proposed for California schools,” he explains, “was designed by technicians at West Ed, and it creates a matrix of color-coded squares that indicate both the absolute status and the direction of change for ten different categories of data.  Thus we get a system with ten categories of information, and seventeen color coded boxes.” Cody lists the 10 categories and provides a prototype of what a school’s report card might look like.  He’s glad California will no longer use a single number, the API (Academic Progress Index),  that was closely tied to student test scores to rate schools but he’s not totally enamored of the proposed new system either.

                                                                                                           http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.             

                 

 

Ed News, Tuesday, July 12, 2016 Edition

The ED NEWS

             A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

            “Children are our future. We teach them today; what will they do tomorrow?”

― Tanya R. LivermanMemoirs of an Educarer: An Inspiration for Education

LAUSD’s Graduation Rates Questioned 
The second of a two-part editorial in the June 26th L.A. Times(highlighted in the June 28th edition of the “Ed News”) raised a number of questions about how the LAUSD was going about increasing its graduation rates.  It prompted 3 letters in the June 29th paper.                Diane Ravitch’s blog comments on the two editorials published in the L.A. Times about graduation rates in the LAUSD.  “Chasing better data is not the purpose of education,” she relates, “and we make a grave error by doing so.  As the LA Times acknowledges, most of what has been produced at a cost of many billions over the past 15 years are creative efforts to game the system.”
 
Is The Opt-Out Movement Under Siege?
Are the new regulations being promulgated by the U.S. Dept. of Education for the Every Student Succeeds Act  targeting the opt-out movement?  That’s the premise of a commentary in the Socialist Worker.  As Opt-Out grows in strength it continues to threaten the push for more standardized tests that reached a zenith under NCLB and continued under the Obama administration’s Race to The Top program.  The overuse of the assessments was supposed to be addressed under the ESSA.  “But in what can only be read as a tightening of the noose around the growing movement to ‘opt out’ of state tests, [DoE Sec. John] King’s new regulations threaten states with financial sanctions should they fail to put a stop to test boycotting.”
 
SF Mime Troupe Performs “Schooled”
All sorts of organizations, groups, individuals and platforms are weighing in on the topic of education and schools.  Even the San Francisco Mime Troupe which is offering its 57th season of free shows in various parks and venues in Northern California with a performance of ‘Schooled” now through Labor Day.  The San Francisco Chronicle describes the program and reviews the show.  “In ‘Schooled,’ the San Francisco Mime Troupe argues that the purpose of education is to build citizens, to prepare young adults to make informed decisions in their civic life,” it reports.  “The company’s free summer show of its 57th season also makes a compelling case that art is foundational to a healthy democracy. . . . The Mime Troupe is run as a Democratic Socialist collective, and all its shows impart that same philosophy.  ‘Schooled’ is no different.  It pillories the flaws in the U.S. education system, especially its dependency on digital technology as a Band-Aid for deeper structural problems — underfunding, the achievement gap — and, in tandem, its overreliance on the corporations that profit from that technology.”  If you can’t catch a live performance, the piece includes a short video (51 seconds) promoting the show by a member of the Troupe and a 33 part slide show with pictures from the July 4th program in Dolores Park in San Francisco’s Mission District.
 
Teacher Tenure and Seniority
George Skelton’s “Capitol Journal” column in the June 27th L.A. Times (also highlighted in the June 28th “Ed News”) described a California Assemblywoman and former teacher who was battling the big, bad California Teachers Association over trying to alter the rules for teachers in the state regarding tenure and seniority rules.  It elicited a single letter that appeared in the June 30th edition of the paper.
 
Corporate “Reformers” 
Diane Ravitch had a chapter in her 2010 best seller (and ALOED Book Club Selection) “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” titled “The Billionaire Boys Club” which delves into the individual corporate philanthropists who have been bankrolling the charter and privatization movements.  Jonathan Pelto, on hisWait What? blog, updates the list and provides a detailed chart of the main players in a piece titled “The Bevy of Billionaires Undermining Public Education.”  “The colossal and disastrous effort to privatize public education in the United States is alive and well thanks to a plethora of billionaires who, although they’d never send their own children to a public school,” he charges, “have decided that individually and collectively, they know what is best for the nation’s students, parents, teachers and public schools.”  If you’ve ever wondered who the characters are, how much they are worth and how they are spending their billions, check out Pelto’s spreadsheet.  It’s a real eyeopener!                Here’s the latest strategy for privatizing the public schools by the corporate “reformers” and conservative politicians–refer to the traditional public schools by the phrase “government schools.”  That will certainly raise the ire of the Tea Partiers and the right-wingers.  Case in point: the State of Kansas.  An article in The New York Times details the ploy. “Kansas has for years been the stage for a messy school funding fight that has shaken the Legislature and reached the State Supreme Court.  Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican,” it relates, “and his political allies threatened to defy the court on education spending and slashed income taxes in their effort to make the state a model of conservatism.  Somewhere along the way, the term ‘government schools’ entered the lexicon in place of references to the public school system.”  [Ed. note: I’d like to get in on this game.  When the corporate “reformers” refer to “failing” or “bad” public schools, I think we should, instead, characterize them as “under-funded and poorly supported” public schools.]              Diane Ravitch’s blog reacts to the article (see above) in The New York Times about the use of the term “government schools.”  A reader of the blog from New York, who teaches high school, comments on the Times article and draws some interesting parallels with the privatization of the prison industry.  “The New York Times published an article about how critics of public schools now call them ‘government schools.’  This is supposed to conjure up an image of a faceless, unaccountable bureaucracy, like the IRS,” Ravitch writes, “not your neighborhood public school whose teachers you know well.  I first heard this term used at the Hoover Institution.  At first I didn’t know what they were talking about, then I realized that the public schools were, in their minds, ‘government schools,’ a heinous institution that should be replaced by private schools, vouchers, religious schools, charters, home schooling, anything but those hated ‘government schools.’  I began to wonder if they referred to highways as ‘government highways’ and found a way to avoid them; if they referred to public parks as ‘government parks,’ to be avoided or privatized; if they referred to public beaches as ‘government beaches’.”
Weapon Searches on LAUSD Campuses
An article in an earlier L.A. Times featured a dispute over the policy of conducting random weapon searches of students on LAUSD middle and high school campuses using hand-held wands.  The Green Dot Charter Chain, which shares space on LAUSD campuses, objected.   An editorial in the July 5th edition of the paper chastises Green Dot by not abiding by district policy AND the LAUSD for not reviewing the efficacy of that 23-year old procedure. “The district gets to make the rules for its campuses, and Green Dot has to obey them when it operates on district property,”  it concludes.  “But just because the L.A. Unified policy goes back 23 years, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily the best method to reduce weapons on campus.  L.A. Unified should examine the metal-detection policy with an open mind to ensure that it is both effective and fair — and listen to critics to consider whether there are other, better or additional, ways to improve campus safety.”
 
Election 2016
With the Republican National Convention set to convene in Cleveland from July 18-21 and the Democrats gathering in Philadelphia the following week (July 25-28), Anthony Cody decided to question a few of his FaceBook friends about some key education issues.  He publishes their responses on his LIVING in DIALOGUE blog.  “The 2016 presidential election has generated equal portions of hope and frustration,” he suggests.  “The Democrats are likely to offer us Clinton, and with Trump as the chief rival, some feel we have little choice but to support her, even though she does not offer much evidence that she will take on the issues we care about most.  But that choice is such a narrow question, and leaves out where we are in this moment in history.  There are many choices far more important than this that are available to us, and I hope we can engage in the vital discussion of how to make real change beyond the framework of this year’s election. . . . Here are the three questions I posed:  What should we do as activists beyond the vote?  What should we do about the Democratic party?  Who will get your vote in November?”              Ahead of Hillary Clinton’s speech to the annual convention of the NEA (National Education Association) on July 4th, the “Politics K-12” column in EDUCATION WEEK asks “What’s Hillary Clinton’s Record on Teachers?”  The piece looks back at her time as first lady of Arkansas and her time in the White House when husband Bill was president, some of her proposals as a U.S. Senator from New York and a sampling of her rhetoric on the current campaign trail.              Hillary Clinton addressed the national convention of the NEA last Tuesday and while her speech was generally well received, Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” column in The Washington Post, explains why the likely Democratic nominee for president experienced a few boos, despite the fact the union’s leadership endorsed her candidacy back in October.  “Why did teachers from the association boo the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee?  And for that matter,” Strauss writes, “why are education activists upset with the draft version of the Clinton-led education plank of the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform?  The bottom line: The activists are worried that if she becomes president, she won’t depart much from President Obama’s education reform policies, which critics say have contributed to the privatization of public education.”  Of additional interest, Strauss publishes a draft of the education portion of the Democrats Party Platform.              Peter Greene got a hold of that draft and was not happy with what it contains.  He had some choice ideas about where it could go. The picture he repeats three times in his piece on hisCURMUDGUCATION blog will give you a strong hint.  “So if you were hoping for a sign that the Democratic Party even knows what the issues in public education are or has any interest in addressing them, the early draft is not encouraging.  They could more honestly address toxic testing,” he proposes, “or they could make an actual commitment to the institution of public education instead of the business of charter schools. They could speak out against the privatization of a historic and foundational public resource.  They could express some sort of meaningful support for the teaching profession.  And they could make a commitment to getting each school the funding that it needs and deserves.  Who knows?  Maybe they’ll do all that in the next draft.  But mostly I’m afraid that if you had hopes that the Democratic Party would emerge as a champion of public schools and the teachers who work there, well, I think I know where those hopes can go.”               Jeff Bryant, on the Education Opportunity NETWORK, is a little more kind towards the draft Democratic Platform proposals on education. But only a little bit.  To start his analysis, he compares the Dems version to that of the Republicans (and includes a link to the GOP document).  “The Republican document gets education policy wrong from  the very first sentence,” he bemoans, “by asserting, ‘Parents are responsible for the education of their children.’  Although it’s true parents certainly need to be involved in their children’s education, have a voice in how schools are run, and take responsibility for encouraging and maintaining their children’s educational development, putting the sole burden for education on parents guarantees inequity of education opportunity and is, frankly, un-American.”              Local L.A. blogger Karen Wolfe (who was a panelist at ALOED’s Education Film Series screening in November), on her PS connect website, comments on the latest amendments to the education section of the Democratic platform. “There has been much debate in the last week about whether the Democratic Party is signaling a change in education policy, and this weekend’s Convention Platform meeting provides the best measure,” Wolfe speculates.  She provides the complete texts of the amendments and a sampling of comments about each.               Peter Greene, aka the author of the CURMUDGUCATIONblog, zeroed in on just the portion of the platform that dealt with charter schools.  His piece is titled “The Dem Platform, Randi and Charters.”  He’s not totally enamored of the outcome, but I’ll let him tell the story in his own unique way.  “Come November,” he concludes, “public education is still screwed– but at least for one moment, we got the Democratic Party to sort of pay attention to real, substantive criticism of charter schools. ‘It could have been worse’ is not a phrase I live by, but still, this could have been worse, and in this election cycle, I think that’s as good as it’s ever going to get.  But sucking less and not sucking at all are still two different things.”               If you’d like to watch some of the discussion and debate over the Democratic platform regardingcharters and testing check out the video (19:06 minutes) courtesy of the LIVING in DIALOGUE blog.  If you are really into this whole platform discussion on education, C-SPAN has nearly complete coverage (2:41:59 hours) for your viewing pleasure.              Valerie Strauss, in her column for The Washington Post, looks at the changes the Democrats made in their platform pertaining to education issues.  “In an unexpected move,” she announces, “Democrats have revised the K-12 education section of their party’s 2016 platform in important ways, backing the right of parents to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized tests, qualifying support for charter schools, and opposing using test scores for high-stakes purposes to evaluate teachers and students.  Some of the changes are being welcomed by public school advocates who have been fighting corporate school reform, which includes standardized test-based accountability systems and the expansion of charter schools.”
 
Improving Schools
Great Public Scho0ls Now (GPSN), a nonprofit pushing for charter expansion in (or the takeover of?) the LAUSD has the latest panacea for  improving what it calls “failing” or “bad” schools–find ones that are succeeding and simply clone them.  That is easier said then done, but whatever.  The organization, which is basically a front for the Broad Foundation, wants to identify thriving campuses and replicate them.  I’ll bet the only schools they find that are worth duplicating are charters, despite what GPSN claims, but that’s just my humble opinion.  An item in the July 4th edition of the L.A. Times is titled “Cloning Great Schools is Latest in Long Line of School Reforms.”  “To skeptics, including L.A. school board President Steve Zimmer, the newly unwrapped plan looks like a thinly veiled effort to spur the rapid growth of charter schools, which he opposes,” the item relates.  “He believes the loss of student funding to charters would leave the district with limited resources to help students left behind — likely the most expensive and difficult to serve.”
 
The Teaching Profession
For various reasons that have been explored in previous editions of the “Ed News,” it’s getting harder and harder to attract good candidates into the teaching profession.   A new survey, highlighted in a brief item in the “High School & Beyond” column inEDUCATION WEEK discouragingly reports that even high school students are showing less and less interest in entering the field.  “An ACT survey of high school graduates who took its college-entrance exam shows that in the class of 2015, only 4 percent said they planned to become teachers, counselors, or administrators.  In 2014,” the article reports, “5 percent said they had such plans, and in 2010, 7 percent did.  Twenty years ago, 9 percent of high school students who took the ACT said they were planning education careers.”              With the tragic events of the last couple of weeks in Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas and others before those, Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post,offers “Teaching About Race,Racism and Police Violence: Resources for Educators and Parents.”  She has a long list of valuable materials(with links) from the Teaching Tolerance project and other sources. I know its the summer and most teachers aren’t in their classrooms but school will be in session soon and these issues will still be critical and on the minds of your students.  The materials Strauss provides will prove helpful to parents and grandparents, too.  These are resources “that teachers and parents can use to help educate children about race, racism and police violence,” she explains, “at a time when the country is reeling from a string of killings of black men at the hands of police in cities across the country, as well as the killing of five white police officers by a black gunman in Dallas.”
 
Students And Exercise
Adults hear it all the time–exercise is important for overall health.  It applies to students and learning, as well, according to a new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that is highlighted in a story in the July 5th L.A. Times.  A group of researchers from the U.S., Canada and Europe issued a “Consensus Statement” on the issue addressing “Children, Youth, And Physical Activity in Schools and During Leisure Time.”  “The experts, from a variety of disciplines, gathered in Copenhagen this spring to assess the value of all kinds of exercise, including recess and physical education classes in school, organized youth sports leagues and old-fashioned outdoor play,” the piece reports.  “Though all of these activities take kids out of the classroom or away from their homework, they are still a good investment in academic achievement, the consensus statement says.  Even a single break for moderate-intensity exercise can boost ‘brain function, cognition and scholastic performance,’ according to the statement.”  You can read the full statement (1 1/2 pages) with 4 key “Themes” and/or you can access the Press Release (1 page) by clicking here.
 
SOS Gathering
The SOS (Save Our Schools) march and conference met Friday and Saturday in Washington, D.C.  Julian Vasquez Heilig addressed the participants on Friday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  You can watch his short remarks (5:50 minutes) titled “Will You Answer the Call For Education and Democracy?” on YouTube.              Becca Ritchie, a member of the Badass Teachers Association (BATs), attended the SOS march and conference (see above) along with participating in some other activities boosting public education while she was in the nation’s capital.  She offers a “Reflection” of what she did while there and what she experienced.  “A full week of my life,” she begins, “has been an incredible blur of advocacy for our profession, our communities, and our students.”
 
Suit Filed Against New California Vaccination Law
California’s new vaccination law took effect on July 1.  Opponents of the new legislation immediately filed a lawsuit to block its implementation, according to a piece in Wednesday’s L.A. Times.  “The new law, which took effect [July 1],” it explains, “bars parents from citing religion or other personal beliefs as reasons to not vaccinate their kids.  SB 277 is one of the toughest mandatory vaccination laws in the country and drew many protesters when it was debated in Sacramento.   A group of parents and the nonprofit Education 4 All filed a suit Friday to overturn the law in U.S. District Court in San Diego.  The suit claims that the law violates California children’s right to an education under the state’s constitution.”
 
Ed Tech
With the rise in use of technology in the classroom, the need for credential programs to provide tech training to new teachers becomes more and more necessary.  What happens when teachers don’t have the background to properly utilize the hardware and software to supplement their lessons?  They make use of tech coaches if they are available.  EDUCATION WEEK has a timely piece titled “Ed-Tech Coaches Becoming Steadier Fixture in Classrooms” that looks at how this is accomplished.  Programs in schools in South Carolina and Virginia are featured.  “The use of technology coaches in classrooms,”  it mentions, “is on the rise, according to ed-tech experts.  While coaches still meet with teachers outside the school day to plan, rehearse, and reflect, they are now becoming a steadier fixture inside classrooms.  They do everything from observing to co-teaching, passing on their knowledge about technology so that teachers can be more productive and effective.”
 
LAUSD’s 20th St. Elementary Turned Over to a Nonprofit
After a protracted battle over control of 20th St. Elementary Schoolthat involved the parent-trigger law, a compromise has been reached that will see management of the campus turned over to the nonprofit (and non-charter) Partnership for L.A. Schools, which already controls 17 campuses in the LAUSD.  An article in Wednesday’s L.A. Times details the negotiations that took place around the agreement.  “United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl wrote in an email,” it points our, that he is ‘troubled’ by the agreement because the school’s faculty and many parents have not shown support for the Partnership taking control of the school.”
 
Charter Schools
Diane Ravitch’s blog publicizes an event on July 30 in Richmond, California, that will be fighting the expansion of charter schools in the state.  She includes a link to the flyer for the all-day conference for your information.  “California public education is threatened with destruction,”  it begins.  “In 1992 the Charter laws passed that set up a two-tier system in our state.  While public schools have to have transparency and accept all students, charter schools are exempt from such rules and they are run by a private board without democratic accountability. . . .  This education conference will look at what the charters are, who is behind them and what they are doing to public education.  It will also look at how we can defend our public schools,” it continues, “and also educate teachers, parents and our communities about these schools.  The time to act is NOW.”              Why would charter schools need guidance on how to manage their credit card spending?  BECAUSE SO MANY OF THEM ABUSE THE PROCESS!!!  Mercedes Schneider, on her “EduBlog” atdeutsch29, discovered a service that assists charters (and other businesses) with controlling their purchasing habits so they, hopefully, won’t get themselves into trouble.  It’s called “Procurify” and it provides software for organization to manage their purchases.  On its website it offers “6 Reasons Why Charter Schools Fail” that relate to budgeting, expenses, oversight and accountability.               They didn’t have to admit any wrongdoing (naturally) but the online California Virtual Academy (CAVA) reached an $168.5 million settlement on Friday with Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office.  The San Jose Mercury-News,which published an extensive investigative series into the practices of CAVA and its parent company, K12 Inc., has the latest developments in the case.  “Harris’ office found that K12 and the 14 California Virtual Academies,” it explains, “used deceptive advertising to mislead families about students’ academic progress, parents’ satisfaction with the program and their graduates’ eligibility for University of California and California State University admission — issues that were exposed in this news organization’s April report.  The settlement could help spur legislation that would prevent for-profit companies like K12 from operating public schools in California.  The Attorney General’s office also found that K12 and its affiliated schools collected more state funding from the California Department of Education than they were entitled to by submitting inflated student attendance data . . . .”  Yesterday’s L.A. Times had a similar story with a local slant and some slightly different details including a different dollar amount for the settlement (POLITICO notes why the figures are in dispute.  Scroll about half way down to the heading “-Speaking of Charter School”).              At least in California the online schools reach a settlement and move in.  Not in Ohio!  The largest online charter school, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), sued the Department of Education in an attempt to prevent an audit of attendance figures.  The Columbus Dispatch has the details.  “The state’s preliminary attendance review of ECOT in May raised questions,”  it reports, “noting that ‘most log-in times from these files did not substantiate 5 hours per day of log-in time for the students reviewed.’  The accuracy of attendance figures is crucial because they are the key factor in determining how much state money a school receives.  ECOT gets about $107 million per year for more than 15,000 students.”  [Ed. note:  Why would anyone refuse to turn over attendance records?  Silly question, Dave.  THEY MUST BE HIDING SOMETHING!  Public schools records are available for audit at any time.  Sounds like a double standard to me.]               An Ohio judge yesterday denied a motion by ECOT to block a state audit of its attendance records (see above) according to a piece in the “Digital Education” column for EDUCATION WEEK.  “Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow Superintendent Rick Teeters warned the review could ultimately lead to the closure of the 15,000-student school,” it notes, “long under scrutiny by media and state officials for its poor performance.”  [Ed. note:  Why might they have to close?  Silly question, Dave.  They won’t be able to operate with the amount of taxpayer funds they will properly be getting from the state.]
   
LAUSD Board Reelects Zimmer As President
LAUSD board president Steve Zimmer, who is an Occidental College Professor and participated in a panel discussion at a screening of the ALOED Education Film Series last November, was unanimously reelected to serve a second 1-year term at the group’s meeting Wednesday.  An item in Thursday’s L.A. Times reports on this latest action.  “In his first year, Zimmer frequently became the public face of resistance to a proposal, spearheaded by local philanthropist Eli Broad,”  it reports, “to move at least half of district students into charter schools, based on the premise that the school system performed abysmally. . . .  Zimmer personally was a staunch opponent of the charter expansion but tried to modulate his tone when speaking for the board, whose members have a diversity of perspectives.”
Teacher Training
Diane Ravitch’s blog and several others have been highly skeptical of the Relay “Graduate School of Education” and Match “Graduate School of Education.”  She describes them as simply charter school teachers training others to become charter school educators in order to raise test scores and work in “no excuse” environments.  Ravitch adds to that list of institutions Aspire “University” and reprints some of the publicity about the program.  “These are programs where charter teachers teach future charter teachers how to raise test scores.  It is an insult to all graduate schools of education,” she complains, “to call Relay and Match ‘graduate schools of education.’  There is not a single doctorate on their ‘faculties,’ just charter teachers.  They teach how to raise test scores and how to control classes.  These institutions award master’s degrees.  They have no research capacity, no studies of psychology, child development, economics, history, politics, testing, or sociology.  They are a sham. “
The U.S. Supreme Court and Education
The U.S. Supreme Court recently wrapped up its 2015-16 term. EDUCATION WEEK takes a look book and some of the key decisions from the court regarding k-12 and post-secondary education.  “The high court’s recently concluded term,” it begins, “had the potential to be more momentous for education than it turned out to be—the Feb. 13 death of Justice Antonin Scalia at age 79 dominated the second half and resulted in deadlocks for two major cases of importance to educators, one involving teachers’ union fees and the other, undocumented immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children.  Still, the court issued important rulings on affirmative action, public employees, and voting rights.”
U.S. Invests Very Little in its Youngest Children
And finally, the U.S. does one of the worst jobs of investing in children under the age of 5 among the developed nations of the world.  That’s the disheartening conclusion of a story in THE HECHINGER REPORT titled “What Do We Invest in the Country’s Youngest?  Little or Nothing.”  “A growing body of research has demonstrated the value of high-quality preschool for both children and their communities,” it maintains.  “Nearly every industrialized country has recognized that value and begun offering a version of universal public preschool for its children.  Not the U.S.  On every level — local, state and federal — this country invests little to nothing in the first five years of a child’s life, putting us decades and dollars behind the rest of the developed world.”

                                                                                                           http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.             

                 

 

Ed News, Tuesday, June 28, 2016 Edition

The ED NEWS

             A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

                
               Monday is the Independence Day holiday. 
            It marks the 240th birthday of the United States of America.
               Inline image 1
 [Ed. note:  The “Ed News” will be taking a short break for the holiday.  Look for the next edition on July 12th.]
                “Privatizing our public schools makes as much sense as privatizing 
                  the fire department or or the police department” 

― Diane Ravitch

And now to the news.

Charter Schools
Another legislative deal yields some big prizes for charter schools in New York.  Republicans in the state legislature in Albany  agreed to grant New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio one more year of control over his city’s schools in return for 2 major provisions that charter schools have been seeking.  A story in The New York Timesdiscusses the trade-offs.   One major victory for charters will now allow them to hire even more uncertified teachers than is currently allowed.                What happens when a school with a large number of high needs students is turned over to a private company for a makeover and a turnaround?  Great things, right?  NOT so fast, pardner!  Case in point?  Boston’s Paul S. Dever Elementary Schoolwas turned over to Blueprint Schools in 2014 and in the two years since, things have not gone so well.  The June 21st edition of the “Ed News” highlighted a story from the Boston Globe that detailed what took place at the school.  Jennifer Berkshire, on her EduShysterblog, takes a closer look at the Globe article and adds some analysis to what happened at the school and why in a piece titled “As the School Spins.”  Sub headline: “A Boston School Turnaround Spins Our of Control. . .”  “Today’s topic: what happens when state officials hand a school whose students are among the highest needs in Boston to a team of outside turner-arounders who have never before run a school?” she begins.  “The answer, as [the June 20th] Boston Globe report indicated, is nothing good.  But might there be more, by which I mean less, to this story than meets the eye?  Grab your handrails, reader, and steer clear of the fairground corn dogs. Things are about to get awfully spinny around here.”               An Alameda County, Calif., grand jury report found that charter schools in Oakland ” aren’t outperforming their district-run counterparts, and on average, performed worse last year in statewide results,” according to a story in The San Jose Mercury News.  In addition, the report called for better management of the schools and more oversight.  “The grand jury chose to examine Oakland’s charter schools because the district has the highest number of any city in the county,” the article notes.  “Nearly 25 percent of the city’s public school children attend charters, compared with the national average of 6 percent.”  You can find the full report (134 pages, see pages 85-94 for the charter school chapter) titled “2015-16, Alameda County Grand Jury Final Report” by clicking here.               Two education non-profits have merged.  5 years ago former LAUSD Supt. John Deasy announced an ambitious plan to raise $200 million through a partnership with wealthy philanthropist Megan Chernin to aid students in the LAUSD.  That organization, the Los Angeles Fund for Education, fell far short of its goal and this week announced a merger with LA’s Promise a group that currently manages 3 district schools.  The new group will be called the LA Promise Fund whose goal will be to help form and support charter schools (what else?).  An article in today’sL.A. Times has all the details.  “While L.A. Unified students are expected to derive some benefit,” the piece suggests, “the mega-district now is left without an outside foundation devoted to supporting the 550,000 students in district-operated schools.  By contrast, the target of the Beverly Hills Education Foundation is to raise an average of $1,000 per student, or about $4 million annually for its more than 4,000 students.”                What happens when the parents of some students at a cyber charter become suspicious of some financial chicanery and other monkey business and begin asking questions?  Why the founder of the school turns around and sues six of the parents for slander, libel and civil conspiracy!  You don’t believe that could happen?  Read what occurred to some parents of the Agoura Cyber Charter in Pennsylvania in a story in the Philadelphia Enquirer.   “The parents denied the allegations and said they had merely sought information about the taxpayer-funded school their children attended,” it explains.  “The parents – and several legal experts – said the case had all the marks of a suit aimed at quashing public debate or stopping criticism of officials known as a ‘strategic lawsuit against public participation’ (SLAPP).”  Diane Ravitch calls this “one of the strangest stories of the week or year.”
 
Teacher Training Programs

A coalition of alternative teacher training groups has written a letter to Congress and the U.S. Dept. of Education asking them to create a system for evaluating teacher preparation programs based on a number of metrics.  Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATIONblog was unable to hide his disdain for this idea.  “Yes, it’s one of the Top Ten Dumbest Reform Ideas Ever, back for another round of zombie policy debate.  The same VAM-soaked high stakes test scores that has been debunked by everyone from principals to statisticians to teachers, the same sort of system that was called ‘arbitrary and capricious’ by a New York judge, the same sort of system just thrown out by Houston– let’s use that not just to judge teachers, but to judge the colleges from which those teachers graduated.   Why would we do something so glaringly dumb? The signatories of the letter say that consumers need information.”  Greene includes a link to the group’s original letter (3 pages) with a list of some of the metric they’d like to see included, for your perusal.               The two authors of a story in THE HECHINGER REPORT are involved in the Seattle Teacher Residency program and make a case for projects like theirs as being the best way to train teachers.  Although residencies can be expensive, they claim that in the long run they are much more cost effective than traditional teacher training methods.  “The residency model is a better way,”they argue.  “It’s an investment, streamlining the costs of hiring and turnover in a district while mitigating the negative impact that chronic turnover has on a school culture and the education of a child.  Most importantly, this approach prepares teachers to deliver on the promise of public education for every child, preparing students for lasting success in the classroom and beyond.  So we ask again – can we afford not to train our teachers this way?”
 
Corporate “Reform”
Has it really become one of the goals of certain corporate “reformers” and privatizers to have kids fail more?  If you don’t believe that you need to be introduced to the concept of “productive failure.”  Yes, you read that right, “productive failure.”  Alfie Kohn, author of a number of books on education, parenting and human behavior, looks at the idea and finds it rather wanting.  This piece, from his Alfie Kohn website, is headlined “The Failure of Failure” and is adapted from his book “The Myth of the Spoiled Child” that was published in paperback in March of this year.  “We may wishthat students who do poorly at something,” he mentions, “will react by squaring their shoulders and redoubling their efforts until, gosh darn it, they turn things around.  But that result is more the exception than the rule.  When kids ‘learn from failure,’ what they’re likely to learn is that they’re failures.”               Does offering parents more choices of where to send their children to school mean better schools?  If you listen to the corporate “reformers,” the answer is “absolutely!”  The facts tell a different story.  Case in point–Detroit.  An extensive investigative item in The New York Times ,titled “For Detroit’s Children, More School Choice But Not Better Schools,” puts the lie to that corporate “reform” argument.  “While the idea was to foster academic competition, the unchecked growth of charters [in Detroit] has created a glut of schools,” it reveals, “competing for some of the nation’s poorest students, enticing them to enroll with cash bonuses, laptops, raffle tickets for iPads and bicycles.  Leaders of charter and traditional schools alike say they are being cannibalized, fighting so hard over students and the limited public dollars that follow them that no one thrives.”
 
School Funding
A few states, like California, are attempting to provide extra funds to schools with the highest needs students.  The Golden State’s Local Control Funding Formula has been accomplishing that now for a couple of years.  NOT New Jersey.  Republican Gov. Chris Christie has proposed a budget plan that would provide an equal number of dollars to all districts.  An editorial in The New York Times is rather astounded at Christie’s hubris.  “While it sounds reasonable, a flat amount would make it impossible for poor communities to provide a sound education,” it points out, “for disadvantaged children who need classrooms with more resources.  The state is required by law to send more money to those communities because they simply don’t have the tax base or property values to raise additional revenues on their own.”  Christie wants to amend the New Jersey constitution to do away with that provision in order to provide property tax cuts for the wealthy.  
 
Graduation Rates Questioned
An extended editorial in Sunday’s L.A. Times raises some questions about those increases in graduation rates that many districts and states are reporting.  It is the second in a 2-part series on graduation rates.  A link to the first editorial is included in this one.  The first one, which was highlighted in last Tuesday’s “Ed News” was skeptical about LAUSD’s “recovery courses” for students to make-up credits towards graduation.  Part 2 outlines a number of ways the Times believes states and districts are artificially increasing those graduation rates, i.e., simplifying or doing away with exit exams, not counting all students and offering those “watered down” credit recovery  classes.  “The question, though, is whether schools will bring those [graduation rates] up the hard way, by improving the quality of education – or by falling back on shortcuts and gimmicks,” this editorial wonders.  “Early indications suggest that they’ll do a combination of both.  States and school districts, not just locally but across the nation, have already come up with a wide array of ways to make graduation rates look good on paper.”
 
Killing Teachers in Mexico
The June 21st edition of the “Ed News” highlighted several items about a rally in Mexico over proposed education reforms in whichseveral teachers were killed by police in a violent clash on June 20th.  Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG,  weighs in on the deaths in a piece titled “Killed For Being A Teacher–Mexico’s Corporate Education Reform.”  “Conflict between teachers and governments has become commonplace across the globe,” he suggests, “as austerity and neoliberalism have become the policies du jour.  Tax cuts for the rich lead to shrinking public services.  And investment in the next generation through public education becomes a thing of the past. . . . Though in America educators have been ignored, unjustly fired and even arrested for such protests, the Mexican government has resorted to all out murder.”
 
New LAUSD Budget
The LAUSD school board approved a $7.6 billion budget for the 2016-17 school year at their regular meeting last week.  The “Explainer” column in yesterday’s L.A. Times takes a look at 3 key issues regarding how the dollars will/should be spent.  
 
A Little History of School Desegregation in California
70 years ago, when Sylvia Mendez was 10 years old, her parents filed a lawsuit in California to allow her to attend a predominantly white school in her Orange County neighborhood.  Their case was the first to challenge segregated education in the country and after two court rulings in their favor legislation was signed making the Golden State the first to ban segregated neighborhood schools.  She was recently the graduation speaker at a school that bears her name, Mendez High in Boyle Heights that opened in 2009.  The “Education Watch” column in yesterday’s L.A. Times tells her story and profiles the now 80-year old pioneer for school integration.  “When Mendez entered elementary school during World War II,” it relates, “about 80% of Mexican American students in Orange County attended segregated schools where speaking Spanish was prohibited, boys trained for industrial jobs, and girls were taught how to cook and crochet.”
 
The Teaching Profession
In the past the “Ed News” has highlighted stories about student absenteeism.  Now comes a study about teacher absenteeism from the Education Week Research Center that dug deeper into data provided by the U.S. Dept. of Education.  It found that slightly more than 25% of teachers missed 10 or more days a year reports an article in EDUCATION WEEK. Hawaii (75%) and Nevada (49%) had the highest rates of teachers missing 10 days or more while Utah (16%), South Dakota (17%) and Idaho (18%) had the lowest figures. California?  24%.  Check out the interactive map with figures for all 50 states.  “Both Education Week’s analysis and a 2013 study by NCTQ found teacher absenteeism was virtually the same for schools with high and low concentrations of students in poverty,” the piece mentions.  “Schools with high concentrations of low-income students were about equally likely to have high rates of teacher absenteeism as other schools.  (The Education Week analysis did not include racial data.)”                Amazon is getting into the education materials business.  Yesterday, the company announced the launch of “Amazon Inspire” which will be a free service providing digital education resources for teachers and other educators.  Another Story in ED WEEK has a preview of the site.  According to the article the site will contain ” thousands of free lesson plans, activities, and other instructional materials for teachers.”  You can access the amazoninspire beta site by clicking here.
 
Co-Location in LAUSD
A recent edition of the “Ed News” highlighted the topic of “co-location,” the sharing of space on LAUSD campuses with charter schools and the battles being fought between the two sides.  Last week the school board voted to create a committee to deal with the contentious issue according to a story in yesterday’s L.A. Times “The school board directed the superintendent to form a group,” it explains, “that will suggest ways to make the process for giving charter schools space on district school campuses more transparent for all those it affects.  The group could include parents, district school principals, teachers and charter school leaders. . . .  In 2015-16, about 50 charter schools used space on campuses of L.A. Unified schools.”
 
Tenure and Seniority
In the initial ruling in the Vergara case in 2014 the judge tossed out teacher tenure and seniority rights claiming they violated the California constitution.  In April of this year a state appellate court overturned that decision and now the state supreme court is contemplating whether to take up the case.  In the interimAssemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) introduced legislation to deal with some of the issue raised in the original lawsuit.  George Skelton, in his “Capitol Journal” column in yesterday’s L.A. Timesdescribes her battles with the CTA (California Teachers Association), which he calls “ arguably the most powerful labor union in the state.”  Regrettably, he makes the union out to be the ogre in the fray. 
 
Election 2017 (That’s Not a Misprint) 
The charter movement continues making inroads into the world of politics.  If they’re not getting involved in school board races or state legislative contests they are looking for other offices to conquer, i.e., mayor of Los Angeles.  Steve Barr, founder of the Green Dot Charter chain in L.A., announced that he would challenge incumbent Eric Garcetti for mayor of L.A. in 2017.  A front-page story in today’sL.A. Times profiles Barr and his strategy for the race.  “Barr’s entry into the 2017 race,” it mentions, “comes amid a historic push by local activists to expand charter schools as an answer to problems in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and is likely to revive debate around a recurrent theme in L.A. government: the relationship between LAUSD and City Hall. L.A.’s mayor, unlike those in Chicago or New York City, has no formal authority over the school district.”
 
SOS Event July 8-10
And finally, the Save Our Schools “People’s March for Public Education and Social Justice” is taking place this year on July 8-10 in Washington, D.C.  For information about the event, a detailed schedule of activities and to register click here.  “The big news is that the march and rally will be at the Lincoln Memorial,” the publicity states, “and the SOS Activists Conference will be at Howard University!  Our coalition of grassroots groups, union organizations, and activists is growing, so join the mass gathering of children and adults who are rallying and marching in support of education and social justice this summer!”  ALOED member Larry Lawrence will once again be attending.

                                                                                                           http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.