July 30

PROGRAM UPDATE:  Dave Alpert, his wife and Larry Lawrence attended the screening of the brand new documentary film “Go Public:  A Day in the Life of an American School District” at the All Saints Church in Pasadena on Friday.  They all agreed it was an accurate look at what goes on in a large urban public school district and that Pasadena was THE appropriate place to view the film as the “school district” in the title is Pasadena Unified.  A discussion was held after the movie that included the husband and wife film-maker team, a principal, teacher, parent and a member of the film crew.  Both Larry and Dave believe it would make an excellent ALOED event to show the movie to as wide an audience as possible on the Oxy campus.  Dave will present that idea to the next board meeting.  You can find all kinds of information about the film at http://gopublicproject.org/    If you click on “50 Films” you can get short vignettes of the stories that were covered in the full documentary.
“What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us.
 The greatest university of all is a collection of books.”
―    Thomas Carlyle
   How much time and money do schools spend on standardized testing?  VERY good question.  Valerie Strauss highlights a new study from the American Federation of Teachers that looks at two unnamed school districts in the Midwest and the East to see exactly how much time and money are committed to the testing program.  You can read her article, which includes a link to the full press release, here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/07/25/how-much-time-do-school-districts-spend-on-standardized-testing-this-much/    You can read the full report (28 pages) titled “Testing More, Testing Less:  What America’s Obsession with Student Testing Costs in Money and Lost Instructional Time” here:  http://www.aft.org/pdfs/teachers/testingmore2013.pdf
   Diane Ravitch highlights a video (4:41 minutes) made by the Badass Teachers Association, the group recently introduced to you by the “Ed News,” that looks at Eli Broad Foundation trained school superintendents and their impact on the school districts where they end up:  http://www.aft.org/pdfs/teachers/testingmore2013.pdf
   Remember the “parent-trigger” law battle over Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto in the Central Valley?  The “Ed News” followed the situation from start to finish.  Well, guess what?  The newly reconstituted campus opened its doors for the first time on Monday.  This item from EDUCATION WEEK reviews the tempestuous steps that led to opening day:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/charterschoice/2013/07/school_born_of_california_parent-trigger_law_opens_its_doors.html
   How much accountability do charter schools have?  Apparently not that much.  A story (via the AP) posted yesterday on the Tampa Bay Times web site describes how the former Indiana and current Florida schools chief changed the grade of an Indiana charter school to placate a prominent Republican campaign donor who runs the school.  Sound sleazy?  You can get all the sordid details here:  http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/emails-show-florida-education-chief-changed-indiana-grading-formula-to/2133801     Diane Ravitch had a brief comment on her blog about this developing story.  It has a link to a piece in the Miami Herald with all the latest details and the impact the scandal might have on Gov. Rick Scott’s reelection chances:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/07/30/is-tony-bennett-in-trouble-in-florida/
   Today’s L.A. Times describes a program being run at two L.A. County juvenile probation facilities that takes teenage inmates and teaches them literacy and life skills.  It apparently is a big success according to two offenders who went through the five-week program called “Freedom School:”  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-juvies-school-20130730,0,623175.story
   This item from the Education Opportunity NETWORK is from a speech the author delivered last week in Washington, D.C., to a group called “Young Elected Officials.”  He provides 5 myths about public education that, he suggests, need to be debunked if we wish to talk about reforming the field:  http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/messages-about-public-education-that-dont-sell-well-and-ones-that-will/
   Remember the whole discussion about having guns on campus after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in December?  Well, one small school district in Arkansas is allowing some of its administrators, teachers and other staff to walk around their campuses with concealed weapons.  The Huffington Post has all the details:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/30/clarksville-arkansas-armed-teachers_n_3676471.html
   And finally, Diane Ravitch received an email today from U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell who explained to her why privatization and school choice are good for students and parents.  As usual, she had some VERY strong responses:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/07/30/mitch-mcconnell-explains-why-privatization-is-good-for-you/
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

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