Ed News, Tuesday, June 24, 2014 Edition


 “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” 
Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, points out that the “reformers” love all kinds of competition (charters, vouchers, market-based systems, etc., etc.) EXCEPT when it comes to the Common Core when they want all the states and school districts to have the same standards.  Does he think there might be a bit of hypocrisy in that position?  You can probably guess, but still read his brief commentary anyway.
The satirical newspaper the ONION has devised a new way for charters to conduct lotteries to select students for their campuses.  I’d try to describe it but it defies explanation.  If you’re in the mood for a mid-week chuckle, give this a try.
One of the members of the team that helped draft the Foundational Reading Skills section of the Common Core State Standards was interviewed about her role in their development in Psychology Today.  Guess what?  She has some second thoughts about them and offers some specific criticisms about their appropriateness and implementation .
A previous edition of the “Ed News” highlighted a new book by Jose Vilson titled “This is Not A Test:  A New Narrative on Race, Class and Education” and suggested it as a possible topic for an ALOED book discussion.  If you’d like more information about the book and its author, EduShyster has an interview with Vilson.  
On Friday, the governor of Florida signed into law a bill that expands vouchers in his state to include middle-income families and would make it easier for low-income families to apply for the program.  The details on in a brief story from EDUCATION WEEK (via the Associated Press.)  
Many people have pointed to the education “miracle” in New Orleans where the city school district will be all-charter this September as a result of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.  How well have the schools really done in the newly created Recovery School District?  An associate professor of political science at Tulane University has a commentary on the subject.  She didn’t find much to crow about in her piece for THE NEW ORLEANS ADVOCATE titled “Charter Experiment in New Orleans A Failure.”
Anthony Cody, on his “Living in Dialogue” blog for EDUCATION WEEK, is highly suspicious of the recent announcement by the Gates Foundation requesting a two-year moratorium on the use of student test scores for teacher evaluations and other high-stakes decisions.  “Is this merely a tactic,” he asks, “to diffuse opposition at a time when it is growing?”  Cody offers some concrete suggestions about how to proceed with opposition to the Common Core.
Vergara continued:  A UCLA law professor, in an interview for SALON, describes the judge’s ruling as typical of the work of a “B- “student in his class.  He goes on to claim the legal reasoning to be “seriously weak.”  Lots of people have weighted in on the case but if you’d like a legal expert’s view, check this out.              Saturday’s L.A. Times published 3 letters in response to Michael Hiltzik’s column commenting on the opinion.            How did some of the so-called education “reformers” react to the case and the Gates Foundation’s decision to call for a 2-year moratorium on the use of student test scores on teacher evaluations–two key pieces of those “reformers'” agenda?  Gary Rubenstein, on his eponymous blog, decided to take a look.                Need a good solid reason why tenure is important to teachers?  Read what one cash-strapped district in New Jersey spent$2 million on.  Jersey Jazzman uncovered the shenanigans.  He calls it “the most egregious example of why teachers need tenure I’ve every witnessed.”
In a follow-up piece to a “Charter School Scandal-of-the-Day” story from the Friday edition of “Ed News,” the CEO of a charter management company in Hartford, Connecticut has resigned amid disclosures that he had two previous criminal convictions, had served time in prison and had falsely claimed he’d earned a doctorate from NYU.  The website of The Hartfort Courant reports on the latest developments in the case.             After a yearlong investigation, the Detroit Free Press published Sunday part 1 of a scathing weeklong series on the failure of charter schools in Michigan.    The state spends over $1 billion in support of the alternatives to the public school system that now serve over 140,000 pupils.  The paper uncovered a “range of abuses” that it details in the story.  It includes a video (3:10 minutes) interview with the president of the Michigan State Board of Education and a former schools superintendent.  Interestingly, one of the largest charter companies in the state purchased most of the ad space on the front pages of the Free Press  and Detroit News to tout their self-proclaimed successes.  An item on the eclecta blog has screen shots of the two front pages and a summary of the first article in the series.  [Ed. note: For the panicked reaction from the charters to this series be sure to click on the “This post has been updated HERE” at the top of the story or here.]  Part 2 of the Detroit Free Press series on charter schools looked at how a number of characters have been able to scam the system and make lots of money due to weak state laws and the lack of  oversight. 
A teacher of English and digital media at a high school in Louisville, KY, writes an open letter to superintendents and administrators everywhere bemoaning the fact that teachers are seldom given enough time to plan, work together with and learn valuable lessons from their colleagues.  This is an age-old complaint but one that rarely gets addressed in the constant push to improve test scores and other more “pressing issues.”  Maybe this note, which appears on Valerie Strauss’ “Answer Sheet” blog in The Washington Post, will get the attention it deserves.
The Badass Teachers Association (BATs) issued a statement on their website Sunday announcing a vote of “no confidence” in U.S. Sec. of Education Arne Duncan and called for his replacement.  They also appear to have a new logo.
A highly regarded and quite successful initiative run by L.A. County helps foster teens to become high school graduates.  It started as a pilot program in one east side supervisorial district in 2008 and expanded countywide in 2012.   It works by having social workers closely follow the academic progress of kids in foster care  to make sure they are on track to graduate from high school.  An article in yesterday’s L.A. Times chronicles the case of one young woman who donned cap and gown at Bell Gardens High Thursday evening.
A state legislative committee on Thursday voted unanimously to delay for one year the implementation of a new teacher evaluation system in Nevada.  EDUCATION WEEK (via the Associated Press) has the details and some reasons for the postponement.
2014 is not even half over and Larry Ferlazzo already has a list of the some of the best, worst and in-between education stories for an already very busy and significant year.  He teaches English and Social Studies at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento and writes a teacher advice blog for EDUCATION WEEK.  He includes links to each of the stories he lists.  His comments appear compliments of Valerie Strauss and her “Answer Sheet” column in The Washington Post.
Several former members of the Obama administration have (surprisingly?) taken up the cause of bashing education and teachers unions.  The story, in POLITICO, names names and outlines what their campaigns are aimed at.  “Teachers unions are girding for a tough fight,” it begins, “to defend tenure laws against a coming blitz of lawsuits — and an all-out public relations campaign led by former aides to President Barack Obama.”
The National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) will be holding their national conventions this summer.  [Ed. note:  AFT, in fact, is gathering in Los Angeles, July 11-14.  NEA, July 1-6 in Denver]  Michelle Gunderson, a veteran Chicago Public Schools elementary teacher, guest hosts Anthony Cody’s column on EDUCATION WEEK.  She discusses the importance of political engagement for teachers, particularly in this day and age, with all the assaults on teachers’ rights, unions and other issues.  Her simple message:  It’s critical to GET INVOLVED!
And finally, the school year is over for just about everybody.  EDUCATION WEEK solicited photos from teachers and other educators that best represent what their “last-day-of-school” was like.  See what your colleagues submitted.
 Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)


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