The Ed News June 6, 2014


“Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, 
is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.” 
truthout features an interview with Leo Casey, executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute, who addresses a number of current issues related to education.  The item is titled “Why Does the Obama Administration Keep Getting it Wrong on Education Policy?” 
BTW, there’s an opening for a Deputy Superintendent of Instruction with the LAUSD.  Salary is $250,000, including benefits for the 12-month position.  For more information and to apply check out this announcement.
As previously reported in the “Ed News” the New Orleans Recovery School District will become the first all-charter system in the country in September.  How well are the schools doing on academic and other performance measurements?  According to an article in THE LOUISIANA WEEKLY the answer is “not very well.”  “Even by the state’s own haphazard standards,” it indicates, “the now all-charter RSD New Orleans continues to remain at the bottom of state rankings.”            A retired Lousiana educator who taught secondary science writes on his Louisiana Educator blog that “The ‘Success’ of the Louisiana Recovery District Has Been A Great Big Fraud!”  He cites some of the same findings as the story above (he references it in his piece)  and adds his own “two-cents-worth.”  He believes the reason why so many outsiders have bought the notion that the district is succeeding is good old  PUBLIC RELATIONS!
A former elementary school principal, author and presenter asks the possibly embarrassing questions about teachers: “Do You Talk Too Much in Class?”  He offers some ways to tell if you do or not and presents some techniques for finding that middle ground.  His comments appear in EDUCATION WEEK.
Could the Common Core State Standards be altered even slightly to fit local needs?  That’s the question tackled by Peter Greene on his CURMUDGUCATION blog.  He discovered that they are copyrighted but believes the “standards police” would probably not go after any district that made some minor changes.            What could happen if some states that have already approved the standards decide to drop them completely?  That key issue was discussed by Diane Ravitch on her blog.             Deciding to drop the standards is no longer a hypothetical.  The governor of Oklahoma signed a bill into law yesterday that jettisons the CCSS and substitutes new standards created specifically for the state.  EDUCATION WEEK has the story which also points out that the governor of South Carolina signed a similar bill in her state on May 30, that mandates the CCSS be replaced for the 2015-16 school year.            The National Association of Secondary School Principals is requesting a delay in the roll out of the CCSS.  The group cites concerns about implementation and training for faculties and staff in calling for the pause.  They issued a new policy brief (8 pages) that offers suggestions to federal, state and local officials for continuing the process.  It was included at the end of an article by Valerie Strauss.
Were you aware that anywhere between 14,000 and 20,000 teachers have been invited into the U.S. under temporary guest visas to work in public schools?  Many of them were very poorly paid and terribly exploited.  Many of them, but not all, were brought in by private contractors who took advantage of their limited knowledge of U.S. work rules.  The entire, sordid, situation is described in an article from IN THESE TIMES.
Wednesday’s L.A. Times included two letters reacting to the paper’s article on Sunday questioning decreasing suspension rates in the LAUSD. 
The previous issue of the “Ed News” highlighted a new study from the National Council on Teacher Quality regarding TEACHER attendance statistics.  A commentary from EDUCATION WEEK refers to that report and and offers some personal insights from a 28-year veteran LAUSD teacher and lecturer at the UCLA Graduate School of Education.  He offers an interesting suggestion for cutting down on teacher absences.
Jeff Bryant at the Education Opportunity NETWORK reviews some of the latest research and studies regarding the issue of student discipline including a newly released, massive report (461 pages!) from The Council of State Governments Justice Center.  It’s titled “The School Discipline:  Consensus Report” (he includes a link to it).  He cites some specific school districts, including LAUSD, and describes some of the new policies they are implementing.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the federal Securities and Exchange Commission is filing a civil suit against the large and influential Illinois charter company  United Neighborhood Organization for misleading statements that defrauded bond investors.  The group has agreed to settle the suit but the SEC indicated the probe into UNO’s activities has not ended.
Bilingual education is back in the news.  In 1998, with the passage of Prop. 227, almost all instruction other than in English was eliminated in California public schools.  A bill has been introduced in the state legislature that would resurrect many types of bilingual programs.  SB1174, if passed, would place a measure on the Nov., 2016, ballot to allow individual districts to decide if they want to bring back bilingual education.  An editorial in yesterday’s L.A. Times asks the question: “Is Bilingual Education Worth Bringing Back?”  
EDUCATION WEEK is offering a free live webinar titled “The Empowered Learner: The Future History of Education” from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT on Monday, June 16.  “Join education veteran, Cameron Evans, CTO and harbinger of education transformation at Microsoft,” the course description explains, “on field-tested and research-proven insights on empowering the learner.”  For more information and to register (required) click here.
There were two education-related races on the June 3 primary ballot.  One had to do with filling the vacant District 1 seat on the LAUSD school board.  After the votes were counted an August special election run-off will be held between George McKenna (44.3% of the vote) and Alex Johnson (24.7%).  An item posted on the L.A. Times website Wednesday evening previews the upcoming race between the two top finishers.             The other race, for Superintendent of Public Instruction, will also see a run-off.  It will take place in November between the incumbent, Tom Torlakson (47% of the vote) and runner-up, Marshall Tuck (29%).  A brief story in the Sacramento Bee described the results.
Technology has often been offered as a panacea for all that ails education.  If may not be the answer to every problem but the author of a piece on The HECHINGER REPORT believes it can be a very helpful tool for dealing with special-education students.  She offers a number of specific examples of lessons and techniques that make use of computers, tablets, whiteboards, websites and apps.
Valerie Strauss turns her column in The Washington Post over to popular author and lecturer Alfie Kohn who takes on the key education reform question dealing with what actually is worth learning.  The commentary is titled “The Education Question We Should Be Asking.”
Here we go again!  pandodaily has uncovered the inconvenient fact that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helped surreptitiously finance the “Teaching Channel” which aired on a number of PBS stations around the country.  The programs heavily promoted the Common Core State Standards that Gates money supported.  “While the Teaching Channel proudly promotes the Common Core,” the expose reports, “it is far less forthcoming about the fact that its primary backer is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – aka the philanthrocapitalist enterprise that has spent somewhere between $200 million and $2.3 billion to champion the Common Core State Standards in schools and in the political arena.”
How to engage students and motivate them to learn is an age-old challenge in education.  A piece in EDUCATION WEEK looks at some of the latest attempts to focus on this key issue. 
A testing expert has some advice for the chancellor of the New York City Schools as to why the district should forgo the Pearson field tests of new standardized assessments.  His comments were directed toward New York but his points apply universally.  The piece appeared on the NPR station WNYC’s website.
Charters don’t always win.  Parents at a Philadelphia public elementary school voted overwhelmingly to reject a takeover of their campus by the ASPIRA Charter Company.  Two schools were tapped by the district to be converted to charters this year and now both have turned thumbs down.  A story from the Philadelphia Inquirer details the vote.
And finally, California is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), one of two organizations developing testing materials aligned with the Common Core State Standards.  Today the group announced a timeline for the delivery and roll out of its products for the 2014-15 school year.  Valerie Strauss outlines the planned schedule and what some of the materials are on her blog.


Dave Alpert (’71)
Chief Commissar 

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