Ed News, Tuesday, July 28, 2015 Edition


“There are all kinds of ignorance in the world. Education, learning to read and write,
doesn’t necessarily give us knowledge. We have to learn to use our minds
to see what is really happening.” 
 Linda Leaming, Married to Bhutan  

Next LAUSD Superintendent
Two letters were published in Saturday’s L.A. Times  reacting to the op-ed  by Diane Ravitch in Thursday’s paper about what characteristics she’s like to see in the next superintendent for the LAUSD.  [Ed. note: Did you catch that the last part of that sentence rhymes?  Purely unintentional.]   One letter appeared in Sunday’s paper from the Los Angeles director of Teach for America commenting on the Ravitch op-ed.               The California Charter Schools Association was besides itself regarding Ravitch’s commentary. Sarah Angel, their Managing Directory, Regional Advocacy–Los Angeles, was quick to fire back at her lack of enthusiasm for charter schools (who would have guessed).  The LA SCHOOL REPORT published her response to Ravitch’s piece.  To be fair, they printed Ravitch’s op-ed the previous day.   “In a recent L.A. Times op-ed,” Angel commences, “pundit Diane Ravitch called on the LAUSD board to hire a superintendent who would prevent new charter public schools from opening.  Vilifying charters as an enemy of public education, Ravitch hurls her usual accusations against the charter school community, including its teachers and students.  But just because she repeats the same incendiary messages over and over again, that doesn’t make them true.”
Charter Schools
Can a state agency that promotes charter schools also properly regulate them?  Seems like a conflict of interest, no?  Not in Ohio where the state Department of Education not only pushes for more and more charters and funding for them but also is tasked with rating and regulation.  Might that not lead to abuses in the system?  Ohio has become a prime example of how not to deal with charters.  An article from PB (Plunderbund) reviews the latest scandal(s) with the ODE and its dealings with the state’s charter schools.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)
Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, goes after former U.S. Sec. of Education Bill Bennett for his defense of the Common Core on Campbell Brown’s new website “The Seventy Four.”  (Greene conveniently includes a link to Bennett’s original piece for you to peruse.)  “Bennett is entitled to be bitter and disappointed that same political winds that once filled CCSS sails have now deserted the SS Common Core,” Greene concludes.  “He is not entitled to pretend that the SS Common Core was built to be some sort of mighty, nimble ocean vessel when in fact it was always, from day one, a wobbly, leaky dinghy with a brick for a rudder.”                 Speaking of Campbell Brown . . . . an article inThe Washington Post wonders if her new website is going to concentrate on “news or advocacy?”  The reporter writes “the answer appears to be yes” and goes on to describe where her funding is coming from.  That’s often a tip-off as to what direction a blog is headed.  [Ed. note: The “Ed News” is pleased to disclose that it receives NO FUNDING from any outside sources and has a total budget of $0, as in zero dollars.  But I digress!]  “Brown — who has advocated on behalf of charter schools and is opposed to tenure for teachers — says she doesn’t consider education restructuring ‘to be a partisan issue, I don’t like the word ‘partisan,’ because people think it means Democrat versus Republican, and that’s not us.  I agree we have a point of view; it’s a ­nonpartisan point of view.  It’s a clear point of view, and that is that the public education system, in its current form, is broken, and there’s an urgency to fix it’,” the reporter quotes Brown.
School Bonds Questioned
A suspicious new report from the California Policy Center (CPC), a right-wing pressure group, is featured in a story in The Fresno Bee.  It’s critical of voter approved school bond issues in California claiming they tend to create huge amounts of debt and lead to conflicts of interest.  “The report calls for more oversight and a push for transparency regarding bond issues,” the article states, “saying many voters don’t have a clear picture of what they’re approving.  Bonds also perpetuate conflicts of interest with contractors who would benefit from their approval, according to the report.”  The article includes a link to the full study (362 pages) titled “For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More From Wealthy Investors for Educational Instruction.”  [Ed. note:  Might this “study” be a thinly veiled way to deprive the public schools of much needed funding by the corporate “reformers” seeking to privatize the system for their own PROFIT?  Just a thought.  It should be further noted that the Bee story only characterized the CPC as a “non-profit think tank.”  For more on the CPC, aka the California Public Policy Center, see this profile on the “SOURCEWATCH” website from The Center for Media and Democracy.  It’s quite illuminating.]
New Book
The LIVING in DIALOGUE blog has an excerpt from a new book, published Friday, titled Returning Sanity to the Classroom: Ending the Testing Mania.  The author, Horace (Rog) Lucido has taught Physics and Math for 38 years at public, private and charter schools and served as a Master Teacher at both Fresno State and Fresno Pacific universities.  He was one of the founding members of Educators and Parents Against Testing Abuse (EPATA). 
A Teacher as Lobbyist
Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, describes his day lobbying various members of Congress with the Badass Teachers Association on important educational issues.  “And what a day it was!,” he relates.   “I met with Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Corey Booker (D-NJ).  I met with U.S. Reps Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).  Well, actually I met with their legislative aides.  None of the actual lawmakers made time to sit down with a flesh and blood teacher.  In one case, a legislator seemingly went out of his way to avoid me.”
The Teaching Profession
A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that the quality of teacher applicants went up during the recent Great Recession according to a story on the “Teacher Beat” blog atEDUCATION WEEK.  “The authors [of the study] found that teachers hired during recession periods were more effective than teachers hired during better economic times,” the article states, “and that that difference couldn’t be explained away by other factors like teacher-turnover rates or age differences.  The idea that more people want to enter teaching relative to other, lesser-paid or less-stable professions during tough economic times makes perfect common sense,” it continues.  “But this is still among the first papers to look empirically at how recessions affect the teacher labor market.”               The July 24th edition of the “Ed News” had a frightening item about a teacher in Lawrence, Massachusetts, whose middle school has adopted the teaching technique called “No Nonsense Nurturing.”  The educator believed it was turning her into a robot.  A regular reader and contributor toDiane Ravitch’s blog did some digging into NNN and came up with some eye-opening information.
The Opt-Out Movement
The United Opt-Out (UOO) group has published An Activist’s Handbook for the Education Revolution: United Opt-Out’s Test of Courage.”  Anthony Cody on his LIVING in DIALOGUE blog reviews the new volume.  “In their book,”  he relates, t”he seven leaders of UOO make it clear that their vision extends far beyond the act of opting out of tests. They are trying to spark a social movement.”
Battling Corporate “Reform”
The founder of the Long Island Opt-Out campaign and the New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) has come practical advice on how to fight the corporate “reform” movement that wants to privatize public education.  Writing on the website of the Badass Teachers Association, she offers 10 concrete ideas for joining the fray.  
Arne Duncan
Summer break is often a  time of reflection for educators.  How did the past year go?  What changes can and should be made for the new school year?  What does one want to accomplish in the future?  The “Politics K-12” column on EDUCATION WEEK provides an item headlined “Five Things on Arne Duncan’s To-Do List.” 
Every Child Achieves Act 
The author of the Peg With Pen blog has had quite a bit of time this summer to relax and contemplate the compromises that were necessary to obtain passage of the ECAA in the U.S. Senate.  She’s not happy with what she sees!  She believes that too many people were willing to compromise on their bedrock values in order to get the legislation approved.  “I go back to school next week.  A beautiful school with children who deserve it all – a school with amazing teachers – where we will be drowned once again,” she complains, “in corporate reform with additional layers set in place this year to further our goal to raise test scores in an attempt not to ‘fail.’  It’s all lies.  And ECAA is just one more lie that supports failing my school and our children.”  Thanks to ALOED member Larry Lawrence for sending this one along.
Teach for America
And finally, Mitchell Robinson, on his eponymous blog, has some pointed suggestions for Teach for America based on what he finds are their true values.  He even helps them “revise” their mission statement based on those values.   

Dave Alpert

(Occidental College, ’71)
That’s me working diligently on the blog.



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