Monthly Archives: May 2014

May 27, 2014

 The ED NEWS
“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating…too often fathers neglect it
because they get so caught up in making a living they forget to make a life.”
An article in THE Nation identifies a “new secessionist” movement that is causing increased school segregation and contributing to the rise in inequality in this country.  It describes how many white, upper-income neighborhoods are leaving urban and suburban districts to create their own educational enclaves thus ending attempts at integration.
Thanks to ALOED board member Susie Smith for sending along this video clip (6:12 minutes) from TED Talks.  It features a former management consultant who changed careers to teach math in a New York City middle school.  She tackles the characteristic of “grit” as key factor in student learning and success.            Valerie Strauss includes another TED Talks video (17:02 minutes) from a high school math teacher in Orange County, Florida, who believes we’ve reached a “toxic culture of education.”  He identifies accountability, testing, for-profit companies and other education “reforms” as the main culprits.  “Let’s stop measuring fish,” he concludes, “by how well they climb trees.” Along with the video, Strauss includes a full transcript of the lecture.
It has often been alleged that charter schools “skim” the highest performing students and leave the disadvantaged and special education pupils for the public schools to contend with.  True or false?  A story in the Chicago Tribune describes how one public district in Illinois sued a charter school for just such a breach.  Check out the article and find out what happened.
When some parents decide to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized testing they have been subjected to some rather (illegal?) strong-arm tactics.  This piece, from THE ART OF TEACHING SCIENCE includes a couple of examples and goes on to explain why parents have every right to follow that path and lists some of the organizations and resources that support them in their decision.
Could this be another test score scandal in the making?  The author of the Crazy Crawfish’s Blog (“Zesty Louisiana Education Politics”) believes he may have uncovered an attempt to “improve” the results of the newly created charter schools after Hurricane Katrina to show they did better than the few remaining traditional schools in New Orleans.
Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, wonders what is the best way to determine if a school is successful or not.  Interestingly, he downplays the use of “research” in this quest.  “Research doesn’t mean jack,” he states rather frankly.  “Or rather, by the time the research starts, the people who commissioned it have already picked the winners and losers.”  If you think that makes him sound rather uninformed, hear him out and read his thoughts!
The 4LAKIDS website has several detailed accounts of the removal of a citizen member from the LAUSD Bond Oversight Committee who was critical of the districts iPad-for-all plan.  It includes the original L.A. Times story that appeared in the paper on Friday (and was highlighted in the previous edition of the “Ed News”) that recounted the event.
In the special election June 3, to fill the vacant seat on the LAUSD school board that was created with the death of Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, one candidate stands way above the others in his ability to raise campaign funds.  Alex Johnson has opened a huge advantage over the other six people on the ballot.  Through May 17, he had spend more than all the others combined and that  figure represented 70% of all monies paid out so far according to a story posted on the L.A. Times website Friday morning.       EDUCATION WEEK profiles the two main contenders in an increasingly quarrelsome campaign, incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck, and a third candidate in the race for California Superintendent of Public Instruction on the June 3, primary ballot.  If no one garners 50% of the vote, a run-off will be held between the top two contenders in the general election in November.
George Klump sent along this article, first printed in Aug., 2013, that was reprinted on the Eagle Forum’s “Education Reporter” website about a KIPP charter elementary school founded in 2010 in South L.A. that achieved some remarkable results on the API.
An extended editorial in yesterday’s L.A. Times chides the Congress over its long delay in overhauling No Child Left Behind (NCLB) that Pres. Bush signed into law in 2001.  “No Child Left Behind,” it scolds, “will surely rank as one of the most poorly constructed laws of its time.”  The piece goes on to include some recommended revisions to NCLB.
New Mexico has instituted a controversial new teacher evaluation that includes value-added scores among other criteria.  When the results were made public last week a protest ensued at an Albuquerque Public Schools board meeting when educators claimed they were rife with errors, missing data and inconsistencies.  The NEW MEXICO COMPASS reports on another instance of these evaluations gone awry and includes specific examples of teacher complaints about them.
Yong Zhao, a former ALOED book club author, describes, on his blog, how Shanghai, recently ranked #1 on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests may drop out of the program.  He explains why they no longer wish to be included in the ratings.
The LAUSD travesty known as “teacher jail” whereby educators ACCUSED of serious offenses were housed in various district offices, often for extended periods of time (months/years), pending outcome of their cases is being revised to something closer to “house arrest.”  You can find all the sordid details about how the system operates and how it is supposed to change in a story in today’s L.A. Times.
Diane Ravitch prints a piece from a teacher in El Paso, Texas, who describes a conference she attended and how it changed her life and empowered her to fight back against the powers that are attempting to destroy public education.  It’s titled “I Am A Teacher–Hear Me Roar.”
And finally, you need to block out a period of time (10:40 minutes) to view this parody “infomercial” on YouTube from a “frequently nonprofit firm” that promises to help improve teacher evaluations through a number of specialized “products” that they have created.  Those of you from UCLA may recognize the “pitchman.”  It’s none other than W. James Popham, a nationally recognized expert on educational assessment who taught for almost 30 years at the Graduate School of Education at UCLA.  If you’re not sure if this is totally tongue-in-cheek, check out the “website” of his company at the end of the segment.
 

 

Dave Alpert (’71)
Chief Commissar 
Advertisements

Friday, May 30

“Teachers are the one and only people who save nations.”
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
On Tuesday, the League of Women Voters of Florida released a report that Diane Ravitch describes as “a bombshell study of charters across the state.”  It revealed that they do NOT perform better than public schools, they are more segregated, many of them channel taxpayer money to religious programs and many charters operate for profit.  You can find the full report (20 pages) titled “Statewide Study on School Choice and Consensus Report on Charter Schools” here.  It includes a list of recommendations that the state should follow regarding charter schools.            Last week the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners selected a for-profit company to open possibly the largest charter school in the State of Florida.  It could ultimately hold up to 3,000 “student stations” according to a brief piece from the Miami Herald.
 
Every teacher enjoys working with those highly motivated, bright students.  A class full of them can be both a pleasure and a challenge.  But how do educators deal with those designated as “reluctant learners?”  A National Board Certified Teacher at Revere High School in Massachusetts, who has taught for 19 years, offers “10 tips for motivating reluctant learners” that were recently provided to her by a former “reluctant learner” who was a member of her class 6 years ago.  The insights appear in a story for EDUCATION WEEK.  It has a surprising and very gratifying ending!
The Jersey Jazzman wonders why the financial elite in this country are so enamored of charter schools.  Besides making gobs of money for investors he believes they like the idea of destroying teachers’ unions.  If nothing else, check out the cartoon he includes in his post titled “Top 10 Ways Teacher’s Unions Caused the Economic Crisis.”
 
“Accountability” has been a key watchword in education reform for many years.  However, not all systems are the same.  That’s the emphasis of this commentary from Jeff Bryant on the Education Opportunity NETWORK who looks back at the evolution of accountability and offers some suggestions for a program that might even work.  “For years, education policy at nearly every level,” he points out, “has been obsessed with an outcomes-only focus – namely, scores on standardized tests – with less and less emphasis placed on the inputs into our children’s schooling.”
 
Can increased school funding by as much as 20% help reduce the achievement and graduation gaps between wealthy and low-income students?  That’s the intriguing premise of a new paper highlighted on the Vox website.  It was produced by researchers at Northwestern University and UC Berkeley.  “Additional money spent educating a child from a poor family,” the piece begins, “made that child more likely to graduate high school, less likely to fall into poverty as an adult and more likely to complete an additional year of education.” 

 

A new, short documentary film (26:22 minutes) on YouTube called “Jesse’s Journey–Boycott in Seattle” describes the protest at Garfield High School against Washington State standardized tests that was led by teacher Jesse Hagopian.   If you might be thinking of joining the movement this provides a step-by-step guide of how to proceed.
 
Creating an effective teacher evaluation that really does what it is supposed to do is a very hot topic in education circles these days.  A number of states and districts have come up with examples and many of them have been highlighted in the “Ed News.”  The current superintendent of the New London Schools in Connecticut takes a general look at what characteristics need to be included and explains the system used in his district in this item from EDUCATION WEEK.  It’s titled “How to Build a Better Teacher Evaluation.”              Teachers in New Mexico were quite upset when the state’s new evaluation results were released last week.  Over 50 of them took their complaints directly to the Albuquerque Board of Education (highlighted in a previous edition of the “Ed News).  In a throwback to the 60s, station KRQE reports on its website that a number of educators in Taos and Albuquerque burned their evaluations.  The piece includes a short news segment video (2:09 minutes) about the protests.
 
Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, on her VAMboozled website, reviews a TED Talk delivered by the Tennessee Education Commissioner, Kevin Huffman, who touts the state’s advances on test scores since it implemented valued-added models and other so-called education “reforms.”  Amrein-Beardsley, however, points out that Huffman and others have seriously misused the data that they so proudly utilize to make their case.  Her blog includes the original talk (21:13 minutes) so you can see for yourself what he Huffman is claiming.
 
The Obama administration laid out a goal of providing all students in the country with high-speed wireless internet connections for their schools and libraries by 2018.  The program was designated “E-Rate.”  A recent study revealed that as much as $3.2 billion will be required to reach that ambitious objective according to an article in EDUCATION WEEK.
 
Just about every issue becomes politicized these days in the hyper-partisan climate of Washington, D.C.  Whether it be healthcare, gun rights, immigration reform, Benghazi, etc., etc., the finger pointing and blame games are rampant.  Given that context, what about education?  Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog answers the question “Did President Obama Ruin CCSS?”  
 
A judge in New Mexico Tuesday ordered a temporary halt, until an appeal could be heard, to a very lucrative contract recently awarded to Pearson by the PARCC testing consortium (a story highlighted in a previous edition of the “Ed News”) for the development of Common Core assessment materials.  A competing bidder, the American Institutes for Research,  claimed the process was “unfair and biased” as reported in EDUCATION WEEK. 
 
An article in yesterday’s L.A. Times profiled the seven candidates vying to fill a vacant seat on the LAUSD board of education in a special election on Tuesday.  The piece points out that the race is wide open and predicting a winner is difficult.  Both the union and the Coalition for School Reform are pretty much sitting this one out and waiting to see if a run-off is needed (most likely) and what two candidates emerge.
 
To retain a student who is not up to grade level is always a very difficult decision.  Is it an effective technique?  Not according to two California experts who title their piece “Holding Kids Back Doesn’t Help Them.”  A majority of peer-reviewed studies over the past 30 years,” they discovered, “have demonstrated that holding students back yields little or no long-term academic benefits and can actually be harmful to students.”    Their commentary appeared in EDUCATION WEEK.
California’s public schools have a high percentage of minority students.  What is is like to be a member of a “model minority” (Asian-American)?  The HECHINGER REPORT has been running a series of essays called “Student Voices” in which pupils address issues of major concern to schools in the Golden State.  This one is titled “Being a Model Minority Comes With a Price.”  It  provides a first person view of what the Asian-American experience is like at Alhambra High where almost 45% of the student body is Asian-American or Pacific Islander.
When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other areas along the Gulf coast in 2005, the schools in that city were also ravaged.  So-called education “reformers” saw a golden opportunity to re-do the district from the ground up.  Their work has apparently reached fruition as the Recovery School District that was created in the wake of the storm is now an all-charter system.  A short story in EDUCATION WEEK describes the make-over.
Diane Ravitch is featuring on her blog a new study that describes how the New Schools Venture Fund, among other groups, is making a major push to privatize the nations’ teacher education programs.  Spoiler alert: Ted Mitchell, former president of Occidental College was the groups most recent CEO before he was recently confirmed as an Undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Education.  Ravitch’s piece includes a summary of the report.  The full study costs $12 and to access the executive summary requires a membership.
If one can’t change education through legislation, protests or boycotts, etc., you can always file a lawsuit.  Earlier this year there was the Vergara case (decision still pending) heard in a L.A. Superior Court that had to do with teacher tenure, due process and seniority rights.  Several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a suit yesterday in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of students from  seven districts around the state claiming California was not providing an adequate education due to chaotic conditions on their campuses, high teacher turnover and a lack of proper resources.  Two of the districts are in L.A. County (LAUSD and Compton).  The case, Cruz vs. California is detailed in an article in today’s L.A. Times.
And finally, the New York State United Teachers issued a statement today calling for the end of student participation in field tests and in support of those districts that have chosen to opt-out of state standardized testing this year that is scheduled to run from June 2-11.  The full declaration is on the group’s website nysut.

 

Dave Alpert (’71)
Chief Commissar 

May 28, 2014

“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating…too often fathers neglect it
because they get so caught up in making a living they forget to make a life.”
An article in THE Nation identifies a “new secessionist” movement that is causing increased school segregation and contributing to the rise in inequality in this country.  It describes how many white, upper-income neighborhoods are leaving urban and suburban districts to create their own educational enclaves thus ending attempts at integration.
Thanks to ALOED board member Susie Smith for sending along this video clip (6:12 minutes) from TED Talks.  It features a former management consultant who changed careers to teach math in a New York City middle school.  She tackles the characteristic of “grit” as key factor in student learning and success.            Valerie Strauss includes another TED Talks video (17:02 minutes) from a high school math teacher in Orange County, Florida, who believes we’ve reached a “toxic culture of education.”  He identifies accountability, testing, for-profit companies and other education “reforms” as the main culprits.  “Let’s stop measuring fish,” he concludes, “by how well they climb trees.” Along with the video, Strauss includes a full transcript of the lecture.
It has often been alleged that charter schools “skim” the highest performing students and leave the disadvantaged and special education pupils for the public schools to contend with.  True or false?  A story in the Chicago Tribune describes how one public district in Illinois sued a charter school for just such a breach.  Check out the article and find out what happened.
When some parents decide to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized testing they have been subjected to some rather (illegal?) strong-arm tactics.  This piece, from THE ART OF TEACHING SCIENCE includes a couple of examples and goes on to explain why parents have every right to follow that path and lists some of the organizations and resources that support them in their decision.
Could this be another test score scandal in the making?  The author of the Crazy Crawfish’s Blog (“Zesty Louisiana Education Politics”) believes he may have uncovered an attempt to “improve” the results of the newly created charter schools after Hurricane Katrina to show they did better than the few remaining traditional schools in New Orleans.
Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, wonders what is the best way to determine if a school is successful or not.  Interestingly, he downplays the use of “research” in this quest.  “Research doesn’t mean jack,” he states rather frankly.  “Or rather, by the time the research starts, the people who commissioned it have already picked the winners and losers.”  If you think that makes him sound rather uninformed, hear him out and read his thoughts!
The 4LAKIDS website has several detailed accounts of the removal of a citizen member from the LAUSD Bond Oversight Committee who was critical of the districts iPad-for-all plan.  It includes the original L.A. Times story that appeared in the paper on Friday (and was highlighted in the previous edition of the “Ed News”) that recounted the event.
In the special election June 3, to fill the vacant seat on the LAUSD school board that was created with the death of Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, one candidate stands way above the others in his ability to raise campaign funds.  Alex Johnson has opened a huge advantage over the other six people on the ballot.  Through May 17, he had spend more than all the others combined and that  figure represented 70% of all monies paid out so far according to a story posted on the L.A. Times website Friday morning.       EDUCATION WEEK profiles the two main contenders in an increasingly quarrelsome campaign, incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck, and a third candidate in the race for California Superintendent of Public Instruction on the June 3, primary ballot.  If no one garners 50% of the vote, a run-off will be held between the top two contenders in the general election in November.
George Klump sent along this article, first printed in Aug., 2013, that was reprinted on the Eagle Forum’s “Education Reporter” website about a KIPP charter elementary school founded in 2010 in South L.A. that achieved some remarkable results on the API.
An extended editorial in yesterday’s L.A. Times chides the Congress over its long delay in overhauling No Child Left Behind (NCLB) that Pres. Bush signed into law in 2001.  “No Child Left Behind,” it scolds, “will surely rank as one of the most poorly constructed laws of its time.”  The piece goes on to include some recommended revisions to NCLB.
New Mexico has instituted a controversial new teacher evaluation that includes value-added scores among other criteria.  When the results were made public last week a protest ensued at an Albuquerque Public Schools board meeting when educators claimed they were rife with errors, missing data and inconsistencies.  The NEW MEXICO COMPASS reports on another instance of these evaluations gone awry and includes specific examples of teacher complaints about them.
Yong Zhao, a former ALOED book club author, describes, on his blog, how Shanghai, recently ranked #1 on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests may drop out of the program.  He explains why they no longer wish to be included in the ratings.
The LAUSD travesty known as “teacher jail” whereby educators ACCUSED of serious offenses were housed in various district offices, often for extended periods of time (months/years), pending outcome of their cases is being revised to something closer to “house arrest.”  You can find all the sordid details about how the system operates and how it is supposed to change in a story in today’s L.A. Times.
Diane Ravitch prints a piece from a teacher in El Paso, Texas, who describes a conference she attended and how it changed her life and empowered her to fight back against the powers that are attempting to destroy public education.  It’s titled “I Am A Teacher–Hear Me Roar.”
And finally, you need to block out a period of time (10:40 minutes) to view this parody “infomercial” on YouTube from a “frequently nonprofit firm” that promises to help improve teacher evaluations through a number of specialized “products” that they have created.  Those of you from UCLA may recognize the “pitchman.”  It’s none other than W. James Popham, a nationally recognized expert on educational assessment who taught for almost 30 years at the Graduate School of Education at UCLA.  If you’re not sure if this is totally tongue-in-cheek, check out the “website” of his company at the end of the segment.
 

 

Dave Alpert (’71)
Chief Commissar