May 27, 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 

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