Monthly Archives: November 2015

Ed News, Tuesday, November 24, 2015 Edition

The ED NEWS

           A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

            
                       
                 [Ed. Note:  The “Ed News” will be taking a short break for the Thanksgiving Holiday.
            Look for the next edition on Friday, Dec. 4.]
 
             Inline image 1
 
     “What all good teachers have in common, however, is that they set high standards 
               for their students and do not settle for anything less.”
              ― Marva CollinsMarva Collins’ Way: Updated
           
Oxy Protests End
As the student protests on the Occidental College campus continued, a sort of backlash is developing against the dissidents by other students and some faculty who believe they are going too far.  A front-page item in Saturday’s L.A. Times describes what’s beginning to happen on the Eagle Rock campus and others around the country.  It’s headlined “Sharp Divisions Emerge on Campuses as Some Criticize Activists’ Tactics as Intimidation.”  “Protests at Occidental, Claremont McKenna, Yale, Ithaca, Brown and other campuses throughout the nation appear to have wide support,” it points out, “as they demand action to address the bias some minority students say they face.  But sharp dissent over the movement’s tactics is also emerging, as critics have begun to step forward.”               The “Mailbag” feature in the same paper includes a comment from the paper’s letters editor and 4 letters addressing the topic of the campus protests.  All were critical of the campus “crybullies.”                 The “Numbers and Letters” feature in Saturday’s Times noted the “838 printable letters to the editor were received between last Friday and this Friday.  354 letters were about the attacks in Paris and the aftermath, the week’s most discussed topic. . . . 37 readers discussed the protests on U.S. college campuses, the runner-up topic.”                Student leaders of the sit-in at Occidental College announced they ended the action late Friday but that they would continue their fight to end racial discrimination on the campus.  A story in Sunday’s L.A. Times provides the details.  “Since Monday [Nov. 16], students have occupied the Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center, demanding greater funding for minorities, more diverse faculty,”the article explains, “and the resignation of President Jonathan Veitch, among other things. . . . Veitch refused to step down.  But he announced he agreed with several of the student demands this week, including diversifying the faculty, creating a black studies program, increasing funding for diversity initiatives and training all campus staff on minority student needs.”
 
Role of Principals
EDUCATION WEEK has put together a package of articles about the role of and challenges faced by school principals today.  Two of the  contributors wrote about how to keep good principals.  You can find links and short summaries of each item by clicking here.  “The job of the school principal is a difficult and demanding one,” the introduction to the collection points out, “and the attrition rate bears this out: According to a 2014 study from the School Leaders Network, 25 percent of principals leave their schools each year, and 50 percent of new principals quit during their third year.”
 
The Teacher Shortage
The “Ed News” has highlighted a number of articles about the recent teacher shortage in California and other states.  Stephen Mucher, head of the Bard College MAT program here in L.A. and an attendee at several recent ALOED events, analyzes why so many college graduates are hesitant to enter the profession and offers some concrete suggestions for alleviating the shortfall.  His commentary appears on Valerie Strauss’ “Answer Sheet” column in The Washington Post.  “When our brightest young college graduates, especially those who reflect the increasing diversity found in our public schools, eschew teaching we need to ask why,”he urges.  Mucher mentions Occidental briefly in his essay.
 
Reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB
First it was the plain vanilla titled Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  Next was the more grandiose No Child Left Behind (NCLB)  and after that the athletic sounding Race to The Top (RtTT).  The latest iteration of the federal education law that a Senate/House Conference committee is grappling with is called the rather grandiloquent Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  EDUCATION WEEK takes a very detailed look at what it covers regarding the critical issue of accountability.  The proposed legislation still requires math and English testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school.  “But beyond that, states get wide discretion in setting goals, figuring out just what to hold schools and districts accountable for, and deciding how to intervene in low-performing schools,” the article explains.  “And while tests still have to be a part of state accountability systems, states must incorporate other factors that get at students’ opportunity to learn, like school-climate and teacher engagement, or access to and success in advanced coursework.   And, in a big switch from the waivers, there would be no role for the feds whatsoever in teacher evaluation.”
 
Need Some Education Information?
Have you ever wanted some historical information about a particular aspect of education?  If so, you may want to check out a valuable publication from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).  It’s titled “120 Years of American Education: A Statistical Portrait” and you may want to bookmark it for future reference.  [Ed. note: I just did.]  The paper (115 pages) was published by the U.S. Department of Education in 1993 but that shouldn’t discourage you from at least being aware of its existence as an excellent factual reference.  It is chock full of tables, charts and graphs with all sorts of data from the past.  Just one example of many is Table 20 on page 56: “Public Scho0l Districts and Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools, 1929-30 to 1990-91” which outlines the number of schools by type listed.  Check out the declining number of “one-teacher” elementary schools in the U.S. during that 60-year period.  Interesting.  Diane Ravitch helped work on the publication while she was an Assistant Sec. of Education.  “I can say now in retrospect that this publication was the most useful thing I did during my two years in the federal government,” she confesses.  “You too can browse its pages and charts and graphs via the Internet to see the growth of education in the United States.  Although not many people know of its existence, it is still the only reliable source of historical data on American education.”
 
The Teaching Profession
A teacher in Ohio was taking her state’s mandated training regarding bullying when she all of a sudden came to the realization that by the definition she was being presented with her state was guilty of harassing her and her fellow teachers.  Peggy Robinson, on her Peg With Pen blog, has some brief comments about the issue and reprints the proposed lawsuit the teacher intends to file against the state.  “As a teacher in the State of Ohio,” she charges, “I suddenly realized that I am being harassed by the Ohio Department of Education’s own legal definition as well as from legislators who are passing harmful laws to hurt me as well as many harmful laws that hurt my students.”              The arrival of the Thanksgiving Holiday provides everyone with a moment to reflect on all the things we should be thankful for.  EDUCATION WEEK has an inspirational piece explaining why teachers should be among those we give thanks to.  “This time of year is notoriously tough for teachers, especially those who feel their efforts are not being appreciated,” the author of the piece notes.  “As our way of expressing gratitude for the hard work educators do, we have compiled some of our favorite inspirational posts from the EdWeek archives into a Storify to serve as a pick-me-up for any teachers who might need an extra boost to get through the year.”  Take some time the next couple of days to read why what teachers do is so important.  It will make you feel as good as that glass of wine or that cocktail. 
 
Teacher Preparation
The latest initiative from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will ultimately channel $34.7 million over the next 3 years to several different teacher preparation programs.  Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog in The Washington Post, provides a list of where the funds are going and mentions several other programs and how much they’ve been granted.  Some of the groups on the list raise some eyebrows: Relay Graduate School of Education, The New Teacher Project and Teach for America.  “There are already excellent working models for just about everything that Gates has funded in public education in the last 15 years — how to design and operate small schools, quality standards, fair and reliable teacher evaluation, and now, teacher prep.  How many times.” Strauss complains, “do educators need to attempt to reinvent the wheel just because someone with deep pockets wants to try when the money could almost certainly be more usefully spent somewhere else?”
 
Corporate “Reform”
Anthony Cody, founder of the LIVING in DIALOGUE blog, was recently invited to speak at a conference on education.  He was not able to deliver the address in person so he recorded a video (11:46 minutes) of his remarks.  Topic: “Privateers and Profiteers in Our Schools.”  He looks at how the corporate “reform” movement is trying to privatize the public school system in order to make money.  You can read a transcript of his talk and/or view the video by clicking here.  “As we near the end of the Obama administration, it is a good time to take a closer look at what has happened to public education over the past seven years.  Some very powerful people have used money and the political influence that money buys, he maintains, “to undermine and set the stage for the elimination of public education as we have known it for the past 100 years.”  He concludes with some sound suggestions for improving education without having to privatize the system.
 
U.S. Continues to Fall Behind Other Countries
A new study finds the U.S. continuing to fall behind other nations in the number of college-educated graduates we turn out AND the number of our children enrolled in preschool programs.  THE HECHINGER REPORT highlights the new survey released todayfrom the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that provides data from the educational systems of 46 countries.  “The United States continues to fall behind internationally in producing a college-educated workforce as other nations send more of their citizens to university.  And in the very early years,” the article begins, “many countries are now sending a much higher percentage of their kids to preschool than the United States.”  If you really have a lot of time you can read the full report (568 pages) titled “Education at a Glance 2015, OECD Indicators” by clicking here.
 
Common Core and Testing
Diane Ravitch’s blog reprints a “public service announcement” from Bob Shepherd, a veteran curriculum and assessment designer, who now teaches in Florida,  He has some interesting thoughts about the Common Core Curriculum Commissariat College and Career Ready Assessment Program which he refers to with the acronym CCCCCCRAP.  He also suggests that readers take the PARCC test and spell it backwards to see what he thinks of it, too.  Shepherd strongly believes both the standards and the tests should be eliminated and provides some highly readable reasons why.  Have an extra minute between the turkey and the dessert?  Check out some of the comments.
 
Texas Teen Sues Over Clock Incident
And finally, remember the story of Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas teen who brought a self-made clock to school in mid-September and was handcuffed, arrested and suspended for three days when school police thought his experiment was a bomb?  The “Ed News” highlighted the incident at the time.  EDUCATION WEEK reports he has now brought a $15 million suit  in damages against the city of Irving and the Irving school district.
                                        http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk                    

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.

 

Ed News, Friday, November 20, 2015 Edition

The ED NEWS

           A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

           
                         “It’s not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong,
but a wrong idea from the word go. 
             It’s a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens,
cut off from the rest of life.” 
                           ― John Holt
LAUSD Supt. Search
The LAUSD school board is getting down to serious business in regard to selecting a new superintendent.  Current chief Ramon Cortines has expressed a desire to return to his retirement at the end of this year.  That’s less than 2 months away.  The board has winnowed down a list of characteristics suggested during a series of public meetings to some workable ones. [Ed. note: Sounds a little like they’ve created a rubric, but I digress.]  A story in Wednesday’sL.A. Times gets you up-to-date on the latest on the search for an acceptable candidate.  [Ed. note: Now, if that person will take the job of not is another story, but I digress (again).]  The piece is titled “Board Tweaks Qualities for Next LAUSD Chief Down to a T.”  “Among the desired characteristics,” it asserts, “is a leader who is ‘politically savvy,’ can develop ‘productive working relationships with all LAUSD labor unions’ and has ‘experience as a teacher and a principal working in an urban environment.’  A candidate would not be eliminated for not meeting all the desired qualities.”
 
What’s Up With Michelle Rhee?
Michelle Rhee, a darling of the corporate “reform” movement, has faded from public view recently.  A story in The Sacramento Beespeculates about her future and wonders why she’s been maintaining such a low profile lately.  The latter could be related to some previous charges that re-emerged against her husband Kevin Johnson, former pro basketball star and current mayor of Sacramento, regarding sexual molestation and harassment.  “Her recent absence is a change for Rhee, 45,” the piece points out, “who despite living in Sacramento part time often has accompanied her husband to [Sacramento] Kings [basketball] games and other public events.  She stepped back from her own political activism last year and focused more of her attention on working with Johnson.
 
“iPadgate” Redux
Remember last December 1, when the FBI removed 20 cartons of documents from LAUSD headquarters related to the district’s controversial “iPad-for-all” program?  Whatever happened to that investigation?  The LA SCHOOL REPORT revisits the case and brings it up-to-date with some speculation about what might come of it.  “Since that day [in December] little if any new information has been publicly revealed about the investigation’s status,” it points out, “and that is primarily due to the secrecy laws that surround federal grand juries. Unless the jury issues an indictment or an investigative report, the evidence and testimony is by law to remain forever sealed, and leaks of federal grand jury evidence are extremely rare.”
 
Election 2016
Where does Hillary Clinton stand on charter schools?  In favor? Opposed?  After making some recent comments about them her position seems to have been muddled by differing interpretations of what she said.  Ann O’Leary, an education advisor to the Clinton campaign, attempts to set the record straight on the blog theMedium.  In an attempt to get it right, I will provide the full title of the essay: “Yes, Hillary Clinton Supports Charter Schools.  She Also Supports Equity and Inclusion.”  To bolster her case, O’Leary quotes extensively from previous Clinton statements on the topic and includes a couple of graphs for persuasion and clarity.  Does it all clear up Clinton’s position for you?               Diane Ravitch’ blogstill seems confused by the whole situation.  She reacts to Clinton’s comments and O’Leary’s statement about them (see above).  “Please, Hillary, think about it some more,” Ravitch urges.  “Or better yet, meet with me so I can walk you through the issue.”
Corporate “Reform”
Paul Thomas, on his the becoming radical blog, takes the rather audacious step of pointing out 4 ways Bill Gates is “delusional”about his ideas on educational reform.  Thomas accuses Gates of “spouting what at best are misrepresentations and at worst out-and-out lies about education reform [and this] is just another example of the very persistent delusions of billionaire-edureformers.               The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundationannounced Wednesday on their website a series of grants totaling $34.7 million over 3 years “To Help Improve Teacher Preparation Programs.”  That sounds encouraging but to paraphrase that old adage: “Beware of Gates bearing gifts.”  This is from the conclusion of the official press release which you can read on the foundation website: “For too long, teacher preparation providers have not supplied the teachers students deserve,” said Tom Stritikus, deputy director of innovation on the College Ready team at the foundation. “We’re excited to work with these programs to learn how we can better prepare teachers to help students succeed, and we look forward to sharing our findings with the entire field.”               One of the popular tactics of the corporate “reformers” is to close schools that are under performing.  Leonie Haimson, writing on theNYC Public School Parents blog, analyzes a new report on closures of schools in New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg that concludes the actions were effective.  Haimson is skeptical of the findings for a number of reasons including that the group who published the report, the Research Alliance, was founded with backing from the Gates Foundation [Ed. note: Not them again!] and is staffed by people who push the corporate “reform” agenda.  
 
Student Protests at Oxy
Occidental College was the focus of two articles in the L.A. Timeson Tuesday and Wednesday about student protests and an occupation of the Administration building.  Both pieces were in the context of similar protests around the country at the University of Missouri, Yale University, Ithaca College, Claremont-McKenna College and some others.  “After several days of protesting Occidental College’s handling of diversity issues,” the first onedetails, “students occupied an administrative building Monday, demanding that the school president step down if officials don’t take such steps as creating a black studies major and hiring more minority faculty.”  The second story appears on the front-page of the Times.  It provides additional details about the specific actions at Oxy and other campuses around the U.S. in recent weeks.  It also looks at how the protests differ from previous college activism over the Vietnam War, civil rights, apartheid and the Womens’ movement.  A key difference is the role being played by social media. The item includes a short video (1:20 minutes) about the activities on the Eagle Rock campus.  In emails distributed to the Oxy community, the Board of Trustees has strongly supported the college president.              A follow-up item in today’s Times updates what’s been happening with the student protests and occupation of the Administration building on Oxy’s campus.  It includes quotes from a number of students participating in the action telling why they are there and what their demands are.  “The students say it’s their right to protest problems on campus,” the article notes, “and the administration is largely letting them do so with little resistance.  Students who sleep overnight inside the hall have plenty of bottled water, snacks, hand sanitizer, phone chargers and laptops that illuminate their protest zone at night.  There have been between 70 and 120 campers each night.”              3 lettersappear in the same paper reacting to the articles in the Times about current campus protests, in general, and the actions at Oxy, in particular.  The first one is from a student who attended Oxy for 1 year in 1956.
 
How An Over Burdened Principal Copes
Teachers rightly complain about overwhelming responsibilities.  An elementary school principal in Portland, Oregon, has a similar lament about an overloaded schedule.  He offers some suggestions about how he uses technology to help manage his long day in a commentary on EDUCATION WEEK.  “One of the benefits of ubiquitous wireless access in a school, and lightweight laptop computers and smartphones, is that it gives administrators the ability to get out of their offices and spend more time in classrooms,” he reveals.  “Not being tied to a desktop computer to deal with school business allows an administrator the opportunity to keep up with that work while out and about in the school.” How does he keep from being tied to his desktop?  He describes a new technology tool called “iBeacons” and how it allows him to be more efficient at the many tasks he’s asked to perform.  
 
Teacher Evaluations
The State of New York bet heavily on teacher evaluations that relied to a large extent on the inclusion of student standardized test scores.  The system debuted last year, cost a lot of money and is now being placed on hold for this school year as advocates step back and wonder what they have wrought.  Award-winning and now retired New York Principal Carol Burris, writing on Valerie Strauss’ “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, titles her piece “New York’s Costly Experiment in Test-based Educator Evaluations is Crashing.” Burris, who predicted the new evaluations were of questionable value back in 2011, writes today that “New York is not alone in this folly.  Over half of all states adopted evaluation systems that give student test scores an oversized role, of up to 50 percent in teacher evaluations.  Even those states that have minimized tests scores have created enormous paperwork for teachers and principals, forcing them to be the collectors of evidence rather than the instructors of children,” she continues.  “These tedious and ineffective teacher evaluation systems were funded in some school districts by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Duncan’s Education Department coerced states to adopt them with Race to the Top dollars and No Child Left Behind waivers.  But there was never any evidence that they would work, or serve the best interest of kids.”
 
LAUSD Hiring TFA Interns to Teach Special Ed Students
A group of education experts has posted a petition on theMoveOn.org website demanding that the LAUSD terminate its contract with Teach for America to hire interns to work with Special Education students.  The coalition of public school advocates promoting the action includes, among others, Anthony Cody, Cynthia Liu, Julian Vasquez Heilig and Karen Wolfe, who participated on the panel after the ALOED screening of the timely and provocative documentary “Education, Inc.” last Wednesday at Oxy.  You can read the particulars of the petition and its background and sign it if you wish by clicking here.  “Los Angeles Unified School District ratified a contract with Teach For America,” the background states, “to provide trainees to fill 25 teaching positions in special education at its November 10, 2015, board meeting. There was no debate on the matter; it was hidden in the consent calendar with attachments of attachments buried deep.
 
The Teaching Profession
A small-town Texas business owner, whose wife has taught primary school for a number of years, describes his experiences volunteering in his wife’s second grade class and what he learned about what it means to be a teacher.  His commentary appears on NPR affiliateKERA in Dallas.  You can listen to his piece (2:28 minutes) and/or read a transcript.  It’s titled “Dark Secrets in the Classroom” and it’s short but quite powerful.               A veteran high school Biology teacher in North Carolina headlines her piece in the “CTQ Collaboratory” column in EDUCATION WEEK “Why I’ve ‘Softened’ My Classroom-Management Style.”  She goes on to describe how she adopted the technique of restorative justice in her classroom rather than a more punitive system.  [Ed. note: The poorly implemented roll-out of this technique in the LAUSD was highlighted in the “Ed News” last week.]  Note the shout-out she gives to Garfield High in the LAUSD for its highly effective use of restorative justice.                The battle to unionize the largest charter chain in L.A., the Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, is not only causing fissures between management and teachers.  Parents are also chiming in on the dispute on both sides according to a story in yesterday’s L.A. Times.  “At a news conference Wednesday,” it notes, “a small group of parents, community organizers and United Teachers Los Angeles members complained that they felt pressured by Alliance College-Ready Public Schools to take a stance against unionization.”               It is indeed sad when we arrive at this state of affairs.  A former elementary school principal in Houston urges her daughter NOT to follow in her footsteps and enter the teaching profession.  Her assessment of the career appears on The Urban Edge blog under the heading “I Was A Teacher.  I’m Worried My Daughter Will Follow in my Footsteps.”  “The state of teaching has taken some unexpected twists and turns that would make any parent concerned about it as a career choice for her child.  What I have not shared with my daughter,” she somberly continues, “are the stories of administrators and teachers who have been marginalized by a system that values testing more than people.  I haven’t spoken with her about the ambivalence many leaders have about the vast turnover of teachers who leave schools year after year.  Often, it’s an issue that goes unaddressed, since the unspoken assumption is that those who left were not good enough to stay.  But that couldn’t be further from the truth.”              Valerie Strauss turns her “Answer Sheet” blog in The Washington Post over to a Teach for America alum and a former member of the Executive Board of the San Jose Teachers Association who explains in simple but detailed terms the criticalimportance for public employee labor unions of the Friedrichs vs California Teachers Association case soon to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The “Ed News” has highlighted this case several times in the past but it is now reaching a critical point.  If you are familiar with the case or not the author of this piece lays out for you just what’s at stake.  He does the same thing for a second case Bain vs. California Teachers Association.  “The fact that Friedrichs and Bain rely on a variety of misleading and/or dishonest claims illustrates what’s really driving these lawsuits.  They aren’t about free speech or free choice and they’re not about constructing sensible policy.  Instead, they’re about undermining organized labor and further diminishing union strength and worker bargaining power,” the author concludes.  “For wealthy interests who benefit when workers lose and those congenitally opposed to teachers unions, these lawsuits are thus welcome.  But those who truly care about workers’ rights and are interested in the facts would do well to oppose both Friedrichs and Bain.”
 
LAUSD Charter Expansion
One way to remove villain Eli Broad from fronting the drive to turn the LAUSD into a district with at least 50% of students attending charters is to create a really highfalutin sounding nonprofit that doesn’t include his name.  They wouldn’t do that, would they?  Yup!  They just did.  Ever hear of the Great Public Schools Now organization?  [Ed. note: How’s that for a fancy, deceptive title?]   No?  Don’t feel bad.  It was just formed to do exactly what’s describes in the first sentence of this entry.  Wednesday’s L.A. Times reveals this latest slight-of-hand tactic and it is certainly a sneaky one.  You have to hand it to who ever came up with that moniker.  The Times, bless their hearts, is on to the subterfuge.  “The nonprofit will be run by two executives from ExED, a local company that specializes in helping charter schools manage their business operations.  Former banker William E.B. Siart will chair the governing board; Anita Landecker will serve as interim executive director.  No other individuals or foundations are being included in a Wednesday release about the organization, an apparent effort to distance it from the Broad Foundation,” the reporter uncovers, “which became a target of critics of the proposal. Eli Broad or a designee, however, is expected to occupy one seat on an 11-member board of trustees.”  Please be sure to read the disclaimer at the end of this and most Times items about education.  Did I detect Eli Broad’s name?  Hmmm.               Charles Kerchner, a professor and research scholar at the Claremont Graduate University, foresees a  “charter school war” developing in the LAUSD over the plan to turn up to 50% of the district campuses into charter schools.  He writes the “On California” column forEDUCATION WEEK and offers a 5-point peace plan to avoid “bloodshed’ in the looming “conflict.”  “The charter school war will not be a short or limited conflict.  It will spread beyond the bounds of Los Angeles and influence politics at the state and national levels,” he predicts.  “Those who have studied past education wars know that they grind on for a long time.  15 years of school reform wars in Los Angeles have produced no winners.”
 
Reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB
The Senate/House Conference Committee working on a compromise bill from their two competing versions to rewrite the ESEA/NCLB law make quick work of their task yesterday.  By a vote of 39-1 they reported out a single bill, titled “Every Student Succeeds Act,”  that now heads separately to the Senate and House for final action.  EDUCATION WEEK has an extensive report on this latest development along with several summaries (they call them cheat-sheets) of what’s included in the compromise legislation and prospects for final passage of the law.  A copy of the full “ESEA Conference Framework” (3 pages) is provided.  “After more than a decade, Congress seems to be on the verge of leaving the almost-universally despised No Child Left Behind Act … well, behind,” the story begins.  “Lawmakers on the U.S. Senate education committee and more than a dozen House members—amid much bipartisan backslapping—voted Thursday 39-1 to approve a bicameral, bipartisan compromise measure that would scale back the federal role in education in the underlying Elementary and Secondary Education Act for the first time since the early 1980s.”
 
Charter School Appeal Denied in Washington
In September the Washington State Supreme Court issued a blockbuster ruling that the state’s voter approved charter law was unconstitutional.  Yesterday it denied an appeal of that decision.  An article in The (Tacoma) News Tribune has the latest details.  “The high court had been asked to reconsider its decision by several parties,”the item explains, “including the state charter school association, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a bipartisan group of 10 legislators and four former state attorneys general.”The court’s official ruling (5 pages) in turning down the appeal is included at the end of the story.
 
How Much Classroom Time is Taken Up by Testing?
How much time is really devoted to those standardized tests?  According to a new report the time spent is often underestimated.  The study was done by the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz which looked at the situation in New York.  It’s highlighted on Valerie Strauss’ column in The Washington Post who turns her space over to the two authors of the report.  Strauss embeds the complete document (16 pages) titled “Time on Test–The Fixed Costs of 3-8 Standardized Testing in New York State” at the end of her blog.  The two authors also include a link to a pdf copy as part of their comments.
 
VAM Score Developed for Sec. Duncan
And finally, a group called “Educators for Shared Responsibility” writing on the LIVING in DIALOGUE blog have developed avalue-added score for U.S. Sec. of Education Arne Duncan as he prepares to leave his post at the end of this year after an almost 7-year tenure.  They actually rated all the secretaries to 1979 when the cabinet position was created. They came up with criteria for measurement and plugged in all the data and came up with the scores.  It’s all explained in the article.  “If our children are failing to meet academic expectations, Educators for Shared Accountability believed it to be tremendously dishonest—though politically useful—to pretend that teachers alone bear the fault,”the group complains.  “Instruction is not the only input affecting the education of children.  Is funding equal from school to school?  Teachers have no say over this.  Are resources sufficient?  Teachers have no say. Are schools crumbling?  Are libraries stocked?  Are nurses available?  Are there arts or other creative opportunities available to the children? Extracurricular activities?  Are adequate social supports in place for students?  Teachers have no say.”
           

                                        http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk                    

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.

Ed News, Tuesday, November 17 Edition

The ED NEWS

            A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

            
                   “You musn’t neglect your education
                              in favor of your studies.”
― Nick O’DonohoeThe Magic and the Healing
The Teaching Profession
Last month, NEA President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia was presented with a “Progressive Champions” award from the CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA’S FUTURE.  She spoke at their gala and delivered a short but sweet picture of what teachers do.  You can view the video of her talk and read a brief description of the award on the organizations website.               Unfortunately, here’s another one of those all to common “I Quit Letters.”  This one is from a thoroughlyfrustrated elementary school teacher in Florida and like all the previous ones the author hits the nail on the head.  It appears on theDAILY KOS website and thanks to ALOED member Ron Oswald for sending it.  “Like many other teachers across the nation,” she writes, “I have become more and more disturbed by the misguided reforms taking place which are robbing my students of a developmentally appropriate education.”  Don’t think these are hitting a nerve around the country?  Take a minute and peruse the LONG list of comments written about this post.                TheNational Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) published its latest study titled “2015, State of the States. Evaluating Teaching, Leading and Learning” this month.  It offers a state-by-state analysis of teacher and principal evaluations and how they are being used to inform instruction.  You can find the full report (106 pages) by clicking here.                Peter Greene, on hisCURMUDGUCATION blog has never been impressed with NCTQ studies and publications and this latest one is no different.  How do I know he’s not impressed?  Read on about just his impressions of the organization itself.  “The National Council on Teacher Quality’s continued presence in the education world is one of the great mysteries of the reformster era (or maybe just one of the great con jobs),” he leads off.  “This ‘national council’ includes a staff composed almost exclusively of former TFA [Teach for America] folks and professional bureaucrats and a board of directors that contains no teachers.  Let me say that again– this group that has declared itself the arbiter of teacher quality for the country has no career teachers in positions of authority.  None.”  The rest of his critique of the NCTQ is not any more positive, to wit: “There are people and organizations in the reformster world that can, I believe, be taken seriously.  I may disagree with almost everything they conclude, but they are sincere, thoughtful, and at least to some degree intellectually honest.  They raise questions that are worth wrestling with, and they challenge those of us who support public schools in ways that are good for us.  I have a whole list of people with whom I disagree, but whom I’m happy to read or talk to because they are serious people who deserve to be taken seriously.  NCTQ is not on that list.”  How’s that for an endorsement?               Teachers at California’s largest online charter organization, California Virtual Academies (CAVA) , won theopportunity to be represented by the California Virtual Educators (CVE) union under the auspices of the CTA, the statewide NEA affiliate. [Ed. note: Wow, a lot of acronyms in that sentence.]  The state’s Public Employees Relations Board issued the ruling at the end of last month.  The San Bernadino Sun has the details.               Valerie Strauss reprints 15 remarkable photographs from Reuters, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, that show classroom situations from around the world from the poorest to the most wealthy.  If you think you have poor working conditions you have to check out the pictures from Afghanistan and the Ivory Coast; think your class is over crowded–peak at the first photo from Pakistan (there are two in this collection.)
 
#TeachStrong
Friday’s edition of the “Ed News” highlighted several warnings about a new educational partnership called #TeachStrong that included both the AFT and NEA which raised some serious red flags from several sources.  Mitchell Robinson, on his eponymousMitchell Robinson Blog, speculates that the corporate “reform” movement may have finally met its Waterloo.  “These are the acts of desperate people. They know their window for gaining control of public education is closing,” he suggests, “and are responding by coming up with ridiculous, outlandish ideas in an attempt to attract attention from the public and the media.  Their actions are not unlike the lunacy of Trump and Carson in the Presidential campaign. Walls and pyramids, anyone?  Although it looks pretty dark out there for students and teachers, now is the time for those of us in the resistance to redouble our efforts.  Our opponents are scared, and we have them on the run; and rightfully so–because they know they are on the wrong side of history.  Stand up and speak out!”
 
School Choice
A Chicago parent explains, on the Chicago Public Fools website [Ed. note: That’s NOT a misprint.], why she would rather not have school choice but would much prefer a good neighborhood school “Most of us are savvy enough,” she concludes, “to know that the future goal and end game of ‘school choice’ is the breakdown of a fully funded public school system in favor of full privatization.  But there’s more going on here, and it has to do with the breakdown of our democratic voice as we are spoon-fed false promises of individual consumer preference. Is this a trade we’re really willing to make?”
 
Charter Schools
Several articles and an editorial relating to charter schools in last week’s L.A. Times drew responses from 4 letter writers in Saturday’s paper.
 
Obama’s Dept. of Education Failures
Now that Arne Duncan has announced that he’s leaving his post as Secretary of the Department of Education at the end of this year after a tumultuous 7-year term, John Thompson, writing on theLIVING in DIALOGUE blog, wonders if he and Pres. Obama will own up to their failed policies. Thompson cites programs like Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants and waivers from NCLB among the programs that DoE helped promulgate and implement.
 
LAUSD Supt. Search
Steve Lopez, in his Sunday column in the L.A. Times, reviews some of the pluses and minuses in the LAUSD and believes the best characteristic of the new superintendent should be plain and simplestrong leadership.  He explains what that would entail:“Focus on instruction.  Track down, study and clone the best principals.  Find ways to give teachers the gift of smaller classes.  Turn schools into after-hours community centers.  Do some screaming about California’s shameful national ranking in student funding.  Celebrate and replicate the district’s many strong magnets and other schools, so parents don’t go looking for charter alternatives.”               Yesterday’s Times opens its “Op-Ed” section to various education experts, teachers, parents, students and others to opine briefly on what the LAUSD’s priorities should be as it selects a new superintendent.  Among the familiar names who took the paper up on it’s offer are Alex Caputo-Pearl, President of UTLA, David L. Kirp, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley (who spoke at Oxy a year-and-a-half ago), Marco Petruzzi, the head of Green Dot Public Charter Schools, Pedro A. Noguera, professor of Education at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and information Services abd Walt Gardner, a 28-year teacher in the LAUSD and a columnist for EDUCATION WEEK.  The web version of this piece has several more entries than the print version.
 
School Reform
Remember Bill Honig, former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1982-94?  Diane Ravitch’s blog reprints a commentary he wrote about how school reform should not be the current “test and punish” system but should be more like “build and support.”  “As more educators, parents, community, political, and opinion leaders become aware of the harm done and the lack of results from high-stakes accountability based on reading and math test scores ( ‘test and punish’) and privatization (‘choice, charter, and competition’), they are increasingly open to alternative strategies.  A viable replacement is staring us right in the face–not primarily from the limited number of excellent charter examples but mainly from our most successful schools, districts, and states which follow a more positive, engaging ‘build and support’ agenda.”  He points to what’s going on in Massachusetts as a great example of this.               THE NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION has created an infographic and newsletter to illustrate the damage Bill Gates and his “reform” ideas have done to the public school system over the past 15 years.  The project is headed by Carol Burris and Anthony Cody.  It includes expanded comments about policies Gates has helped create and pursue in various states written by a number of education experts.  You can click on any or all of them to read their take on a particular situation.  “For Bill Gates this has all been a grand experiment,”Burris and Cody write by way of introduction to their project, “one that he believes he is entitled to conduct on our children, our teachers and our schools.  It is astounding that a man, who has no qualifications to guide our nation’s educational system has been allowed, by virtue of his fortune, to meddle in it as he has.”                The protest against corporate “reform” is spreading beyond our shores.  Teachers in Puerto Rico planned a one-day strike today against efforts to charterize and privatize the public schools on their island, a territory of the U.S.  Just because they have a body of water between them and the the lower 48 states doesn’t mean they’re immune from moves to take over their system reports Steven Singer on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG.  “The protest is in response to Project 1456 which would close more than 380 public schools,” he writes.  “The government has already closed 150 schools in the past 5 years.  This would force many students into even more overcrowded classrooms. Thousands of children would have to be relocated to schools far from their homes.  But that’s not all.  The proposed legislation would also privatize 15% of those schools left standing. Unlike the mainland, Puerto Rico has no charter schools. Teachers went on a 10-day strike in 2008 which only ended after the island Secretary of Education Rafael Aragunde signed an agreement promising not to open any charters.”              The Badass Teachers Association (BATs)issued a statement, in both English and Spanish, in support of the action in Puerto Rico today (see above).  “The Badass Teachers Association stands in strong solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico,” it ends, “who are fighting for the very foundation of their democracy – the survival of their public school system which is under assault by the 1% who seek to close it up and deny Puerto Rican children a right to an education.  It is time to stop the attacks on the very foundation that elevates all children in the world – a strong public education system.”         Many corporate “reformers’ want to blame teachers for poor student outcomes.  The mayor of Newark (and former high school principal in that city) realizes it takes more than an excellent teacher to cure the ills of poverty.  THE HECHINGER REPORT prints his authoritative commentary.  “Our schools need a comprehensive and expanded approach to school transformation,” he argues, “because it takes more than a teacher to disentangle a child from the barriers and lack of opportunity that poverty creates for their development.”
 
Importance of Reading to Student Achievement
THE HECHINGER REPORT highlights a recent study that found that a small increase in reading (4.7 minutes to be exact) could lead to major gains in academic achievement.  The report, titled “What Kids are Reading” was published by Renaissance Learning the creator of an online reading program which might make the results a little suspect but before you give up on that account, read the piece anyway.  “Teachers typically recommend 20 to 30 minutes of reading practice a night,” the item concludes.  “One data mining lesson here is that you can get away with a lot less and still make extraordinary gains.”
 
Election 2016
EDUCATION WEEK has an article titled “Four Ways Hillary Clinton Differs From Obama on K-12 Policy.”  Clinton participated in a roundtable discussion with AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten and several other members of the organization last Monday.  The story distills some of her policy differences with the present administration in areas like charters, teacher evaluations and early childhood education.  “Given her record and how controversial some of the Obama administration’s K-12 policies have become with both the Democratic base and other voters,” the analysis concludes, “there’s a decent chance Clinton would put less emphasis on K-12 issues, particularly if ESEA is reauthorized this Congress, and pivot to the early-childhood arena, where she might also stand a chance of having greater success of the bipartisan kind.”
 
More LAUSD News
The LAUSD is looking into whether students of military familiesmay need some extra support services.  “The Los Angeles school system,” the story in yesterday’s L.A. Times begins, “is taking steps this week to better determine whether students in military families need special help.  Those students, officials say, could be at a higher risk for stress, behavioral problems and other issues that could be addressed at school.  Over the summer, L.A. Unified School District included some new questions on the emergency forms sent to all students, asking whether they have family members serving in the military or who are veterans.”  The piece reprints a portion of the new mandatory Emergency Information Cards with the new sections related to military service.              Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs, is expanding her program, “College Track,” to LAUSD’s Jordan High School.  “It will support dozens of students attending Jordan High School in Watts,” the article in yesterday’s Times explains, “through a program designed to help them prepare for college and then earn a degree.  College Track has established a similar program at Roosevelt High in Boyle Heights.  The program is underwritten in large part by Emerson Collective, a Bay Area-based group also headed by Powell Jobs.”
 
Common Core, Testing & Opt Out
EDUCATION WEEK has an interactive map with the latest test score results along with an analysis of where the nation is at this point regrading standardized assessments and the Common Core.  You can click on individual states to see how they are faring.  “The 2014-15 school year marked a big change for many states because they switched to tests that for the first time reflect the Common Core State Standards [i.e., California]. . . .  Please use caution,” it reminds, “when interpreting these results.”               Oregon’s legislature passed a law enabling parents to opt their children out of standardized tests if they wish.  However, the state’s Dept. of Education was not happy with that and added some language to the form that contains some rather intimidating language explaining what might happen if they decide to opt-out.  The Portland Oregonian describes what’s going on.  “The portion of the form that has testing opponents most livid,” it notes, “are the two sentences above the line where a parent must put their signature to get their child out of testing: ‘I understand that by signing this form I may lose valuable information about how well my child is progressing in English language arts and math. In addition, opting out may impact my school and district’s efforts to equitably distribute resources and support student learning.'”                OPT-OUT OREGON was highly disturbed when they saw the new forms (see above) and promptly issued a scathing commentary which includes a copy of the offending section with a comment overlaid on it in red ink.  “As in other states, Oregon will start to see building principals, district administrators, superintendents,”  it predicts, “stepping forward about the harmful effects of high-stakes testing.  School board members, teachers, specialists, parents, and students have been speaking up, and the numbers continue to grow. ODE adding that phrase above the signature is not only misleading, it’s obnoxious, and on the wrong side of history.”                 Not sure of the impact the anti-testing movementis having?  Valerie Strauss, in her column in The Washington Post, highlights a new report from FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which has been fighting to end the misuse of standardized assessments.  The document is titled “Testing Reform Victories 2015: Growing Grassroots Movement Rolls Back Testing Overkill.”  Strauss embeds the full report (26 pages) in her article and includes a link to it if you wish to read it  as a pdf.  
 
Reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB
And finally, the author of this piece from THE HECHINGER REPORT, a Senior Fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, D.C.,  believes that the prospect of the U.S. Senate and House reaching an acceptable compromise to the rewrite of the ESEA portends a possible “new era in education policy.”  He reviews some of the key aspects of the legislation and the prospects of their inclusion in the final bill.  “For more than a decade,” he concludes, “the NCLB system has defined school practice, for good or ill, and the law has been a convenient target for anyone with concerns about what has happened in schools.  The new law would create new possibilities, and new challenges.  Let’s see what happens.”                Next step for the legislation (see above)?  Appointing members of a Senate/House Conference Committee to work out a compromise bill between the two chambers’ competing versions.  EDUCATION WEEK points out that the House selected their members and now awaits the Senate’s picks.  It further details what is likely to emerge from that process and the likelihood of its final passage by the House and Senate.  “After eight years and at least three serious attempts,” it begins, “Congress is finally moving forward on bipartisan, bicameral legislation to rewrite the almost-universally-despised No Child Left Behind Act, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  The preliminary agreement—or ‘framework”‘—as the lead negotiators, Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., are calling it—is not the final word.  Instead, it’s a jumping off point to set the stage for an official conference committee that is likely to begin—and maybe even end—this week.”
           

                                http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk                    

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.

 

Ed News, Friday, November 13, 2015 Edition

The ED NEWS

             A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

             
 
                “I may not have a degree, but I certainly got an education.” 
                           ― Jodi PicoultLone Wolf
LAUSD Supt. Search
After a number of open forums held around the district during the last two weeks of October drew over 1,400 participants and an online survey attracted 9,400 respondents, the search firm hired by the LAUSD to assist in selecting a new superintendent presented a report to the school board on Tuesday about what the community is looking for in the next leader.  The findings boiled down to someone with the powers of Superman or Superwoman according to an article in Wednesday’s L.A. Times.  It presents a number of the characteristics people around the district are hoping to find in the new chief.  “The consultants described defining characteristics that could frame the board’s choice,” the story notes.  “They reported, for example, that an educator is favored, someone with ‘experience as a teacher and a principal working in an urban environment,’ preferably with a doctorate from a fully accredited institution of higher learning.  This preference alone would disqualify two of the last four superintendents — David Brewer, a retired Navy admiral, and Roy Romer, a three-term governor of Colorado.  And Cortines, though a career educator, lacks a doctorate.”               An editorial in the same paper describes what qualities the Times would like to see the new superintendent possess.  It focuses on the short, stormy tenure of John Deasy as the chief of the LAUSD to illustrate its point-of-view.
 
Education Coverage Criticized
The L.A. Times takes a lot of flack for its pro-charter, anti-public school coverage.  Now Susan Ohanian, writing on thecounterpunch site, looks at “Bias at the New York Times on Education Reform.”  She reviews a number of misstatements in the NYT about education issues.  “The New York Times education coverage,” she complains, “has become quasi-governmental, promoting the corporate push for standardization of public schools.”
 
Effect of Vouchers on Student Achievement is Minimal

Chris Lubienski, professor of education policy and the Director of the Forum on the Future of Public Education at the University of Illinois, testified before a U.S. Senate committee last week about theimpact on student academic achievement of various voucher programs around the U.S.  Diane Ravitch’s blog  briefly discusses his findings and includes a link to his 12 page opening statement.  “The academic impacts of vouchers on student achievement are generally lacking, and sporadic and inconsistent, at best,” the professor writes in his statement.  “Even focusing only on the studies highlighted by the pro-voucher Friedman Foundation, most found no effect for the clear majority of overall and subgroup analyses.”  If you are really into the subject, Ravitch also links to a video of the full committee hearing (146:35 minutes–that’s almost 2 and 1/2 hours).  If you don’t want all that information, she summarizes his conclusions in about a half-a-page.

High School Dropout Rates Continue to Decline
A new study released this week documents the continuing decline in the nation’s high school dropout rate.  The figures dropped 25% from about 1 million in 2008 to 750,000 in 2012 according to a story in The Washington Post that features the report. “The number of ‘dropout factories’ — high schools in which fewer than 60 percent of freshmen graduate in four years — declined significantly during the same period,” the article additionally provides, “according to the study by a coalition of education groups.”
ALOED Presents Documentary Film Screening
Over 60 students and non students attended a screening presented as part of the ongoing ALOED Education Film Series of the timely and informative documentary “Education, Inc.” on Wednesday evening on the Occidental Campus.  A contingent from Antioch University and the BARD MAT program were also among the audience.  A panel that included Oxy professor and LAUSD board president Steve Zimmer, Oxy professor and newly elected member of the South Pasadena USD school board Suzie Abajian and Venice resident and parent activist Karen Wolfe reacted to the film after the screening and fielded questions from the rapt audience.  The event was co-sponsored by the Oxy Ed. Dept. which provided  refreshments for those in attendance.  For more information about the movie and to view the trailer go to the official website by clicking here.

Beware #TeachStrong
Tuesday’s edition of the “Ed News” had a warning from Peter Greene about a new “reform” organization called #TeachStrong.  He was particularly disturbed that the AFT and NEA were part of the group and believed it is just a front for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.  More red flags are being raised about the association.  Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director of the Badass Teachers Association (BATs), had a negative reaction upon learning about the organization.  She points out why she has problems with #TeachStrong and looks at where much of their funding comes from.  She appends to her piece her own 5-point plan to help children and teachers.               Greene, on hisCURMUDGUCATION blog, delves deeper into what concerns him about #Teach Strong.  He looks at their 9-point program and finds a few of them “laudable.”  He disagrees with the rest of their proposals and explains point-by-point why.  “Because the devil is in the details, and all nine of these are items that have been used as reformster dog whistles, as ways of saying what folks will assume means one thing when the plan is something else entirely,” he intones.  “And given that the TeachStrong partners are mostly a big pile of reformsters, I’m not inclined to trust their intentions. . . .  Until somebody with the campaign fills in the blanks, I have to assume this is just deep-fried baloney.”  [Ed. note: Greene has toned down his language a little.  He referred to their ideas as “a steaming pile of manure” in his first post.]               Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, responded to the storm of criticism when her organization signed on to the the new group #TeachStrong (refer to first story in this section).  She writes on the Medium website a piece titled “Why the Hell Would AFT Sign On to TeachStrong?”  This is what she writes to begin her rebuttal:  “Here’s why we signed on: The tide is turning — rejecting the blame-and-shame and test-based sanctioning policies of the last decade — but educators must have a role in what replaces that flawed ‘reform.’”               Peter Greeneand his CURMUDGUCATION blog quickly jumped back into the fray with a column about Weingarten’s mea culpa.  He’s not convinced by her arguments.  “Man, Weingarten talks so pretty.  But we have meandered a far distance away form our original question,” he concludes, “which is why the hell did AFT sign off on a piece of reheated recycled reformster leftovers that put AFT and NEA in the same camp as some of the most relentlessly anti-teacher, anti-public education groups in the country?  That’s the question I came to hear answered, and I still haven’t heard a satisfactory answer to it.  I’m still waiting.”
 
LAUSD’s New Discipline Procedures
A front-page story in Sunday’s L.A. Times described how the LAUSD is trying to reduce student suspensions and institute a restorative justice system for dealing with student misbehavior.  As is all too typical with new initiatives in the district, the planning, training and implementation of these new policies left much to be desired.  The piece drew 5 responses from letter writers published in Wednesday’s paper.  All were critical of the LAUSD’s handling of the entire situation.
 
Value-Added Models Criticized AGAIN
The “Ed News” has highlighted several scholarly reviews of value-added models (VAMs) for evaluating teachers.  None of them have been supportive.  Along comes an AERA (American Educational Research Association) report that adds to the negative findings.  The 5-page official document appears on the SAGE journals website.  “Many states and districts have incorporated VAM in a comprehensive system to evaluate teachers, principals, and educator preparation programs,” it states in the conclusion.  “There are considerable risks of misclassification and misinterpretation in the use of VAM to inform these evaluations.”              Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, on her VAMboozled blog, reviews the findings about VAMs from the AERA report (see above).  She contributed to the research prior to its final revising and vetting process and summarizes the 8 technical findings for how VAMs should be properly used.
 
Teachers Priced Out of  San Francisco Real Estate Market
The booming real estate market in San Francisco has made it next to impossible for teachers in the city to be able to afford to live there.  Many other middle class workers are facing the same problem.  An article in the “Explainer” column in yesterday’s L.A. Timesdescribes an innovative program being implemented to provideloans and affordable housing for the city’s educators.  “In a city where full-time teachers make a median salary of $66,960 and median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,670 a month,” the piece notes, “many educators are living outside the school district, said Matthew Hardy, spokesman for the district’s teachers union, United Educators of San Francisco.  The lengthened commute is expensive, Hartley said, and can prevent teachers from being as involved in their communities or in after-school activities as they would like.  The expensive housing can also deter teachers from coming to the district altogether.”
 
Election 2016
The Seventy Four’s Editor-in-Chief Campbell Brown has two exclusive interviews with GOP presidential candidates Dr. Ben Carson and Senator Marco Rubio about their education policies.  Each includes a video of the Q & A (Carson’s is 24:38 minutes and Rubio’s is 11:18 minutes) and an Education Card (it’s like a baseball card) with “stats” regarding specific positions on key issues and biographical information.               Hillary Clinton seems to be making inroads with the education vote this week with her comments about charters while her key opponent Senator Bernie Sanders remains surprisingly silent on many K-12 issues.  Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONETHEWALLBLOG, takes a look at the top two Democrats and their views on education policies ahead of the second debate tomorrow from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.  It will be broadcast on CBS starting at 6 pm PST.               Jeff Bryant, writing on the Education Opportunity NETWORK, outlines the “education battle” taking place currently in the Democratic Party.  He reviews some of the key issues and what various pundits, reporters and bloggers are writing about them and how the candidates positions are panning out.
 
Is LAUSD Going Bankrupt?
You hate to toss around terms like “deficits” and “bankruptcy,” but they certainly get peoples’ attention.  An independent panel delivered a sobering report to the LAUSD board at its meeting on Tuesday about projected district finances for the next couple of years.  A previous edition of the “Ed News” highlighted some speculation about what the report contained but the stark reality was on display when the findings were made public this week, according to a story in yesterday’s L.A. Times.  “Declining enrollment along with the cost of providing employee benefits and special education services for students are among the key drivers contributing to a projected long-term deficit at the Los Angeles Unified School District,” it begins, “according to an independent financial review panel.  The eight-member panel convened by Supt. Ramon Cortines presented its findings at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.  It warned that the district could face a budget deficit of $333 million in the 2017-18 school year, which would grow to $600 million by 2019-20.”  The document focuses on the usual culprits for the red ink, employee compensation and special education students, among others, but the article was relatively quiet about costly district fiascoes (iPads, student information systems and others) which drain vital funds from district coffers and the possibility of future revenue sources from the state.
 
Friedrichs vs CTA Case
The Badass Teachers Association (BATs) today filed a friend of the court brief in the pivotal U.S. Supreme Court Case Friedrichs vs CTA  that challenges the requirement that people who don’t wish to pay union dues at least pay an agency fee to cover representation costs.  The short item includes two links to previous articles that summarize the case if you need to catch up and includes the entire 48-page brief filed with the court if you are into reading that kind of document.
 
Another Milestone for Ravitch
Diane Ravitch’s blog reached 24 million page views yesterday.  Her timely and informative column began in 2012.  “Thank you for joining the Resistance,” she writes.  “Thank you for fighting the Status Quo.  Together we will prevail because the people financing the assault on public education have no successes; all their policies have failed.  We fight for real education, where children can experience the joy of learning and the quest to know.  We oppose the monetization and privatization of public education.  We oppose high-stakes testing.  We support the teaching profession.  We support children’s right to learn without fear or labels or rankings or ratings.”
 
The Teaching Profession
The previous edition of the “Ed News” highlighted a militant blog from Peter Greene in the form of a “I’m Not Quitting Letter.”  Emily Talmadge of Save Maine Schools pens her own “Dear Reformers” missive explaining why she’s not giving up and, in fact, plans to fight back.  “I am here to tell you that there is a growing army of us – yes, army – who are refusing to quit, despite the havoc you are wreaking on our profession.  I am here to tell you that not only have we vowed not to quit – we have also vowed to fight,” she thunders.  “We are getting organized, and are rapidly growing in our ranks.  So let it be clear that just as you have declared war on us, we have declared war on you.”               What types of challenges do women face in the classroom?  Sacramento high school English and Social Studies teacher Larry Ferlazzo, author of the “Classroom Q & A” column for EDUCATION WEEK, opens his blog up to various educators who identify some of those challenges and offer some hints on how to deal with them.  Least you think his column is being a might sexist in only dealing with women, he provides a link to a previous piece he wrote about challenges facing men.  “Women make up the majority of the teaching force,” one of Ferlazzo’s contributors points out, “yet there are still challenges that we face in the classroom.  Much of these challenges have to do with power, communication, and unresolved biases.”               The same publication has an extensive special report titled “Understanding Formative Assessment” that includes 11 distinct and detailed stories about various aspects of this key teaching tool.  You can access the cover sheet for the entire report by clicking here “Formative assessment is one of the most widely used—but poorly understood—instructional techniques,” the introduction states.  “This special report highlights common misconceptions about the approach and shows how formative assessment differs from other kinds of assessments, such as summative or benchmark tests.  It also illuminates some ways that educators can use formative assessment in their classrooms to find out on the spot whether students are really ‘getting it.'”
 
LAUSD Prepares for El Niño
In case you hadn’t heard, a major El Niño weather pattern is predicted for this winter.  The last time this situation developed was in 1997-98.  Forecasters are looking at up to double the normal amount of rain falling in southern California this season.  A story in today’s L.A. Times describes how the LAUSD is preparing for the potential deluge and its impact on district campuses including roof repairs and the stockpiling of sandbags.  “Custodial staffs at each school have checklists of the supplies and activities they need to complete to make sure their schools are prepared.  That means reporting roof leaks or other damages that could be worsened in a storm,” it explains, “and cleaning out roofs, gutters, downspouts and drains to make sure there isn’t a build-up of leaves and dirt.  Each of the district’s seven geographic field offices also has supplies including sandbags, plastic sheeting, rain gear and shovels to send to schools if necessary.  They’re already sending out sandbags to the schools that have had flooding in the past.”
 
Charter Expansion’s Impact on LAUSD
How would the Broad Foundation’s proposal to increase student enrollment in charters to 50% over the next 8 years effect the LAUSD?  An invitation-only forum held near downtown was thefirst public discussion of the massive expansion plan.  A story in today’s L.A. Times offers arguments on both sides of the charter school debate.  Proponents claim it will improve choices for parents whose children are stuck in the “failing” school system while opponents fear it could mark the death knell of traditional public education in the city.  “Facing off with [Broad Foundation Executive Director Gregory] McGinity was school board President Steve Zimmer,” the piece reports, “who swiftly and strongly opposed the Broad plan when The Times made it public in September.  Zimmer said that he is not sure L.A. Unified can survive the charter plan, and that students would be harmed as a result.”  [Ed. note:  Steve Zimmer was one of the panelists who participated in the post-screening discussion of the documentary “Education, Inc.” that ALOED co-sponsored with the Oxy Ed. Dept. on Wednesday evening (see the fifth story from the top of this edition).]
 
Reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB
Could the logjam holding up the rewrite of ESEA/NCLB finally be breaking up?  A joint statement from leaders of the Senate and House Education committees seems to indicate that is the case.  EDUCATION WEEK reprints their declaration, the outlines of a possible compromise and explains the ramifications.  “The next step: a conference committee, which could kick off in coming days,”the piece delineates.  “The goal is to pass a bill to revise the ESEA—the current version of which is the No Child Left Behind Act—for the first time in 15 years, by the end of 2015.”
 
Poverty and Academic Achievement
And finally, corporate “reformers” like to ignore the impact of poverty on student achievement.  Most researchers have found that factors like low-income have a major effect on how students learn.  In 2014, for the first time in this country. over 50% of public school student were children of color.  This year the percentage of public school students labeled as low-income reached 51% for the first time ever.  An op-ed from today’s L.A. Times points out that in order to fix the achievement gap an emphasis must be placed on improving the socio-economics of neighborhoods.
 
Enjoy the weekend and keep in mind Thanksgiving is just around the corner!
                         http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk                    

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.

 

Ed News, Tuesday, November 10, 2015 Edition

The ED NEWS

              A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

           
 
 
Tomorrow is Veterans Day. Why not treat yourself by attending the ALOED screening on the Oxy campus of the timely documentary “Education, Inc.” from 6:30 to 9 pm in Mosher 1. For more information and to RSVP please click here.
Inline image 1
 
Our present education is geared to industrialization and war, its principal aim being to develop efficiency;
and we are caught in this machine of ruthless competition and mutual destruction.
If education leads to war, if it teaches us to destroy or be destroyed, has it not utterly failed?”
                              
Cops on Campus
In light of the recent incident in South Carolina where a teen aged African-American girl was pulled from her desk by a campus police officer, thrown to the floor and handcuffed, THE Nation takes a look at the history of armed offices on school grounds and some of the violent interactions they’ve had with students.  It’s titled “A Short History of Cops Terrorizing Students.”  “The massive expansion of school police is predicated on the idea that this makes schools safer, but this just isn’t true,” the article maintains.  “Students in schools with heavy police presence consistently report feeling less safe than students in similar schools with no police.  There is no evidence that [school resource officers] reduce crime or have prevented any mass-shooting incidents.”               The event in South Carolina referenced above is not an isolated incident according to a commentary from the The Center for Public Integrity.  It chronicles several previous incidents of police violence against students as young as 11 and includes a brief video (15 seconds) of what happened in South Carolina if you still haven’t seen it by now.  “Nationwide, in incidents that rarely get publicly aired, thousands of students are also getting arrested, ticketed, interrogated and searched by police officers, often in connection with minor indiscretions or allegations they were disruptive.”  At the end of the piece is an interactive graphic titled  “A State-by-State Look at Students Referred to Law Enforcement.”   Virginia comes in at number 1 with 15.8 per thousand, Delaware is second at 14.6.  The national average is 5.7 and California is 20th among all the states at a rate just behind that of 5.6.
 
Arts Education Lacking in the State
A recent edition of the “Ed News” highlighted an L.A. Times article that discovered a major lack of arts education in the LAUSD.  However, the problem is not confined to just that district according to a follow-up piece that outlines deficiencies up and down California.  “Arts programs across California have waned in the wake of budget cuts,” it notes, “and a sharpened focus on academic subjects measured on standardized tests.  Thousands of students in the state don’t have access to arts classes, a violation of state law. . . .  State law requires that schools provide music, art, theater and dance at every grade level.  But the law lacks teeth and few districts across the state live up to the requirement.”
 
Charter Schools
Do some charter school target disruptive students in order to get rid of them?  That’s the essence of a story in The New York Times titled “At A Success Academy Charter School, Singling Out Pupils Who Have ‘Got to Go.'”  “Success Academy, the high-performing charter school network in New York City, has long been dogged by accusations that its remarkable accomplishments are due, in part, to a practice of weeding out weak or difficult students.  The network has always denied it.  But documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with 10 current and former Success employees at five schools,” it uncovers, “suggest that some administrators in the network have singled out children they would like to see leave.”               Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, responds to an articlewritten by Mike Petrelli who argues that charter schools serve a valuable purpose by providing a place where low-income, high achieving students can learn in an environment away from students whose behavior is disruptive.  Greene suggests that instead of charters pushing out disruptive students (see story above), maybe they should become the repository of those pupils who misbehave and let the public schools work with those “low-income strivers” that Petrelli addresses.  By the way, Greene includes a link to Petrelli’s original piece from Bloomberg View in his article.               The Badass Teachers Association (BATs) has begun what they promise to be an ongoing series on “Charter Fraud and Mismanagement.”  Part 1 lists articles from a number of states experiencing problems with their charters.  Links are included and, it should be noted, some of the items were highlighted in previous editions of the “Ed News.”  The article about New York is actually featured in this edition (see first article in this section).                Is Boston going the same route as L.A.?  Eli Broad and his billionaire cronies have a plan to convert 50% of LAUSD campuses into charters by 2023.  The new mayor of Boston may be planning something similar in his city.  Charles Pierce, writing in Esquire,reports on a plan to close 36 Boston city schools and turn them over to charters or the parochial system. Pierce refers to this as pulling a “full Scott Walker” (he explains that phrase) in “honor” of the governor of Wisconsin.              Mayor Walsh’s Chief Communication Officer issued a prompt rebuttal to Charles Pierce’s article about closing schools in Boston (see above).  It appears on Diane Ravitch’s blog.                The boston.com website reviews Walsh’s statement and includes a follow-up reaction to it by Charles Pierce who stands by his original piece.           The LAUSD school board is considering two proposals at its meeting today that deal with charter expansion and transparency.  “One of those,” according to a front-page story in today’s L.A. Times, would have the school board go on record opposing plans by the Broad Foundation and others to enroll half the district’s 650,000 students in charter schools within the next eight years.  The other would require charters to disclose much more information about their operations, including salaries, actions taken by the board against the schools and the services available to disabled students.”  Two of the seven board members appear to be in favor of the first item, two are opposed and the remaining three have “expressed reservations about the charter expansion.”               “It’s Time to Stop Whining About Charter Schools” is the headline of an editorial in today’sL.A. Times referring to the proposal to oppose charter expansion that the LAUSD board is considering today (see previous story above).  “Here is the charter school resolution,” the item concludes, “that L.A. Unified needs: It’s time to end the conjecture about whether charter schools enroll students selectively or whether they make the achievements of their students look better by pushing out low performers.  L.A. Unified should research the issue.  If charters are doing that, go after them; if not, stop complaining about them.”           Diane Ravitch’s blog had some pithy comments in reaction to the above Times editorial and Eli Broad’s role in charter expansion.  To further see how people feel about Broad, check out some of the comments at the end of Ravitch’s piece.               How pervasive are charter schools becoming?  The 10th annual report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools provides all kinds of numbers.  A brief story in EDUCATION WEEK, that highlights the survey, notes that 6 school districts now have at least 40% of students attending charters.  Number 1 is New Orleans (93%), Detroit is second (53%) and Flint (Michigan) is third (47%).  Did you know that the LAUSD tops the list of districts with the highest number of students attending charters?  New York City is second and Philadelphia is third in that category.  The article contains several links to the full report (14 pages) titled “A Growing Movement: America’s Largest Charter School Communities” with lots of charts, graphs and a map.
 
The Teaching Profession
Nancy Bailey is former special education teacher,  current author and activist who blogs on her Nancy Bailey’s  Education Website.  She was taken aback when Bill and Melinda Gates (she refers to them as the “Common Core king and queen) said that working to reform the education system was harder than finding a cure for malaria.  “Duh” might have been her response.  She proceeds to challenge the Gates to spend some time in the public schools and provides them with a (long) list of things that make education truly hard for teachers, students and parents.  “I could go on with this list but it is tiring.  A lot of children and their teachers are not being treated well in a country that should honor both. And I for one do not understand why the U.S. of America would let a rich individual take over the public schools that should be owned by the people.  So at least I can make this request,” Bailey concludes, “come down from your ivory tower, visit some schools, spend a longer period of time talking to teachers and parents about Common Core and the other issues you are involved in, and see what it is really like to face hardship in school.”              Alabama’s 2014-15 Teacher of the Year and a veteran educator has decided to quit after being informed she would need additional certifications to continue teaching the grades she’s worked with for 21 years.  Mercedes Schneider, on her “EduBlog” for deutsch29,
fills you in on the sad (outrageous) details.  Schneider includes excerpts of notes the teacher sent to her school board and to her students.                 Peter Greene, aka the author of theCURMUDGUCATION blog, has read too many of those “why I am quitting” letters and decided it’s time to fight back.  So he sat down and penned what he headlines as “A Not Quitting Letter.”  It contains a few salty terms so I can’t quote it directly or it won’t get past those filters on some of your school email servers.  If you’ve ever felt discouraged about the way the profession is heading, take a moment a read what Greene has to say.  He is speaking for a lot of us out there.
 
Testing
A group of 38 public high schools in New York, the New York Performance Standards Consortium (highlighted in the “Ed News” previously), has waivers from the state to skip most standardized tests AND  has higher graduation rates as compared to other schools.  Is there a message to be cleaned from those two facts?  THE HECHINGER REPORT has a Q & A with the executive director of the consortium who explains how her students are assessed if it’s not by standardized exams.  “While most New York students must pass state exams in five subjects to graduate,” the introduction to the interview relates, “the consortium’s 38 schools have a state waiver allowing their students to earn a diploma by passing just one exam: comprehensive English.  (An additional nine schools have a  partial waiver.)  Instead, in all subjects including English, the students must demonstrate skill mastery in practical terms.  They design experiments, make presentations, write reports and defend their work to outside experts.”                Anthony Cody is beside himself over Pres. Obama’s latest “Testing Action Plan.”  First it was testing under No Child Left Behind and then it was new, improved testing under Race to The Top and now the president and his Education Department are pushing even better testing under the guise of “competency-based learning.” Cody explains what this latest “panacea” is and how it’s supposed to cure all that ails education today just like the previous attempts promised.  “There are two unwritten assumptions that are constant from the beginning of NCLB and carry through to this new version.  Teachers are not trusted to make judgments about what students learn, how they learn it, or how learning is assessed,” he maintains.  “Assessment is defined as the external monitoring of the work inside the classroom.  The second assumption is that data and technology must be instrumental in whatever process is devised.  The main innovation here is the more thorough and intrusive penetration of the classroom via computers capable of monitoring learning.  Both of these assumptions are unsupported by any evidence or track record, in terms of their ability to enhance learning.”  [Ed. note, Cody references, positively, the type of work being done by the New York Performance Standards Consortium (see story above)].
 
LAUSD Rolling Out New Approach to Discipline Problems
A prominent front-page story in Sunday’s L.A. Times describes anew approach to handling discipline problems in the LAUSD.  The district is turning to a system called restorative justice to deal with student misbehavior.  But like many new initiatives in the massive LAUSD, this one is not without its complications.  The biggest complaints from some teachers and administrators is a lack of proper training prior to implementation.  The LAUSD is trying to cut down on student suspensions and has banned them for “willful defiance.”    ” [Many teachers] blame the district for failing to provide the staff and training needed to effectively shift to the new approach — and their complaints are backed up by L.A. schools Supt.Ramon Cortines,” the piece notes.  “He said the new discipline policies, which were pushed through by the Board of Education and former Supt. John Deasy and which he supports, were poorly executed.  He compared the implementation to the flawed effort to equip students and teachers with Apple tablets.”               Sandy Banks, in her column in today’s L.A. Times, delves deeper into the issue of restorative justice and the rocky roll-out the discipline system has received in the LAUSD (see story above).  Banks visited Westchester High School last week and describes how the program works and some of the problems that have surfaced during its implementation.  “But — with good intentions and bad planning — Los Angeles school officials put the cart before the horse: A restorative justice process should have been in place when the no-suspension policy took effect,” she offers.  “Instead, the district is phasing it in so slowly that two-thirds of campuses haven’t been trained on what it is and how it works.”
 
Election 2016
Hillary Clinton answered some questions about her ideas and policies regarding charter schools during a town hall meeting in South Carolina.  Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog forThe Washington Post, reviews and comments on her responses.  In answer to whether she supports the expansion of charters Clinton answered: “I have for many years now, about 30 years, supported the idea of charter schools, but not as a substitute for the public schools, but as a supplement for the public schools.”  [Ed note: Interestingly, Strauss references the first story in the “Charter Schools” section above.]               Steven Singer, on hisGADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, thinks Clinton’s answers about charters (see above) indicate she has a “Charter School Problem.”  He thinks she wants to have it both ways.  “So Clinton’s solution to the charter school crisis is what exactly?  She seems to be saying that charter schools have major problems, but the best way to fix them is to redouble our belief in this flawed and failing system. . . . It’s a non-answer,” he points out, “an evasion.  It’s the kind of politics Hillary Clinton excels at – say something so empty and middle-of-the-road that both sides of a position can find something to like about it.  Take something and focus group the hell out of it until it’s almost meaningless.”
 
Teach for America Wins $50 Million Grant
The Walton Family Foundation presented a $50 million grant to Teach for America.  The money will support 4,000 instructors over the next 3 years in southern California and around the country.  The foundation is the charitable arm of the founders of WalMart.  A story in yesterday’s L.A. Times provides the details.  “The Arkansas-based Walton foundation has provided millions of dollars in start-up funding for charters,” it explains, “and is a major supporter of the California Charter Schools Assn.  Both Walton and TFA are potential major players in a proposal, spearheaded by philanthropist Eli Broad, that would move half of L.A. students into charter schools over the next eight years.  About 70% of TFA instructors work in charter schools in the L.A. area.”
 
Is it Time to End the Use of All That Education Jargon?
A long-time education reporter who now works for THE HECHINGER REPORT revisits the issue of a burgeoning vocabulary of education terms (she refers to them as “edu-speak”) that make it difficult for laypeople to join the conversation.  “I’ve ranted about this before, but now I’m determined to fight back,”she exclaims, “and I’m urging all journalists who cover education to do the same.  In the name of public service, let’s agree to stop abetting the school establishment’s ‘edu-speak.’  Stop passing along empty buzzwords and clichés. Let’s finally make the conversation about challenges and solutions accessible to all.”
 
Warning About New Education “Reform” Group
And finally, beware of a new education “reform” group called#TeachStrong.  Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, explains why you need to watch out.  He lists what organizations make up this bunch (including the AFT and NEA!) and what their goals and mission are.  “As for NEA and AFT?  I don’t even know how to wrap my brain around their willingness to break bread with charlatans like NCTQ or the TFA folks who have conducted a frontal assault on the profession for years.  If this is the seat at the table that we’ve been angling for– well, the table is a lousy table, and we should probably not be sitting at it,” Greene complains, “so much as throwing it over.  The #TeachStrong launch party is today, and I’m sure we’ll be learning more in the weeks and months ahead. But mostly this looks like a big steaming pile of manure.”
 
 
                         http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk                    

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.

Ed News, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 Edition

The ED NEWS

               A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

        
 
Upcoming Event Reminder: The always timely and informative ALOED Educational Film Series continues on Wed. with a screening of the provocative documentary “Education, Inc.” on the Oxy campus from 6:30 to 9 pm in Mosher 1.  A stimulating panel discussion will follow the viewing.  You don’t want to miss any ALOED event and you certainly don’t want to miss this one.  Light refreshments will be provided by the Oxy Education Department, which is co-sponsoring the screening.  For more information and to RSVP please click here.
 

 
“I would say, then, that you are faced with a future in which education 
is going to be number one amongst the great world industries.” 
― R. Buckminster FullerEducation Automation: Freeing the Scholar to Return to His Studies

Homeschooling Court Case

Do school districts have the right to demand proof that home-schooled children are actually learning?  That is the situation facing the Texas Supreme Court in a case heard on Monday, according to a story in Tuesday’s L.A. Times. “Texas and 10 other states do not require home-schooling parents to register with the school district or state,” it points out, “or provide assessments on their children’s education.  Home-schooled students in Texas don’t have to take standardized tests, learn a specific curriculum or be instructed by certified teachers.  Texas requires only that home-schooling include five subjects: good citizenship, math, reading, spelling and grammar.”
 
Charter Schools
What’s the difference between a magnet and a charter school?  Raise your hands if you’d like to answer that one.  OK, Peter Greene, author of the CURMUDGUCATION blog, what have you to say on the subject?  Greene offers a series of 4 hypothetical “conversations”to help illustrate his response.
 
Student Motivation
What really motivates students to work harder?  Is it money?  Rewards handed out at school?  Something else?  THE CONVERSATION website highlights a study out of Vanderbilt University that looked at several ways of motivating students to see what worked the best.  The results may surprise you in that financial incentives did not prove to be the most effective option.  “We found that the students who were offered up to $100 for regular attendance [at a free, afterschool tutoring program] were no more likely to attend sessions than if they were offered nothing at all,”the authors of the study discovered.  ” In other words, money made no difference.  Alternatively, when students received a certificate of recognition for attending tutoring sessions regularly, the differences were dramatic.  The students in the certificate group attended 42.5% more of their allotted tutoring hours than those assigned to the control group.”
 
High School’s Art Collection on Display at the Autry
Some high schools are known for their athletic teams, others for their band and music programs and a few for their academic achievements, but how often is a school singled out for its art collection?  A fascinating story in the “Calendar” section of yesterday’s L.A. Times describes how Gardena High School(LAUSD) students collected world class art beginning in 1919 in an initiative started by the principal at that time and continuing until 1956 when the school moved to a new campus.  “The program, launched at the suggestion of then-principal John Whitely, was a veritable community event for Gardena,” it reveals.  “Students would visit art galleries and meet with artists as part of their research and the student body would then vote on which works would be acquired.  Once a work had been chosen, it was exhibited along with other pieces from the collection, as well as others the students had seen along the way.  The annual exhibition was such an event that in 1930 California’s lieutenant governor showed up to give a speech.”  A current exhibition at the Autry National Center of the American West, running through October of next year, features 9 of some 90 works from Gardena’s collection.
 
Oxy Prof Wins School Board Seat
Suzie Abajian, Assistant Professor of Education at Occidental College, won a South Pasadena USD school board seat on her second try on Tuesday.  A brief item from the Pasadena Star-News has some details about the results.  [Ed. note: Dr. Abajian will be one of the panelists discussing the documentary “Education, Inc.” sponsored by ALOED and The Oxy Ed Department on Wednesday.  See the “Upcoming Event Reminder” at the very top of this edition.]
 
Inline image 2                             Newest SPUSD school board member Dr. Suzie Abajian
                                                           

In other 2015 election news, voters in Mississippi turned down a proposal to fully fund public schools in their state. Nearly complete returns showed 54% against Measure 42 and 46% in favor.  The(Jackson) Clarion-Ledger has the sad details.   “Voters on Tuesday night rejected Initiative 42,”  it begins, “a proposed constitutional amendment supporters hoped would force lawmakers to fully fund public schools after nearly 18 years of underfunding.”


“What Makes a Good School?”
That’s the headline of an editorial in Wednesday’s L.A. Timeswhich points out that California is ahead of the rest of the nation in holding schools accountable.  With the advent of Common Core assessments, the state is in the process of revising how it ranks the effectiveness of schools.  The state Board of Education jettisoned the old API (Academic Performance Index) as a way to measure schools and met this week to select new criteria for grading campuses.  Standardized test scores may play a very minor role or none at all. The Times believes that test scores provide an easy way for parents and the general public to compare how schools are doing and should  be retained, in some way, as the state formulates new accountability measures.
 
Teacher Evaluations
A Florida school district is terminating its partnership with the Gates Foundation which promised to fund, to the tune of $100 million in 2009, a Gates supported remake of the teacher evaluation system in the district.  Why the falling out?  The process the two parties came up with WASN’T WORKING!  It relied on student test scores for 40% of the rating and the other 60% on observations by “peer evaluators.”  In the end the system wasn’t meeting its goals and ended up costing much more than the district anticipated according to a story in the Tampa Bay Times.  “After six years of effort, high hopes and more than $180 million spent,” the piece begins, “the Hillsborough County school system is unraveling the teacher evaluation system it developed with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. . . . [The news] arrived as the once-cordial relationship between the district and its teachers union imploded Thursday. The two sides walked away from each other in anger as talks over a salary agreement for the current school year broke down.”               You may find this next one hard to believe.  Mitchell Robinson on his Mitchell Robinson blog describes a new way to evaluate student teachers using a “virtual classroom” with “avatars as students.”  You read that correctly.  This new system is brought to you by the ETS (Educational Testing Service)–the same people that provide the SAT, GRE and the AP Exams which raises some red flags from the get-go.  Could this be another profit-making product for a private education company?  You’ll just have to read Robinson’s piece to get all the disturbing details.  “It is also worth mentioning,” he adds, “that the funders for this initiative include the New Schools Venture Fund, Gates, Broad, Walton, Pearson, Bloomberg; aka, the usual suspects when it comes to corporate reform projects.”
 
The Teaching Profession
Why do people choose to go into teaching in the first place?  That’s the question tackled by a new United Kingdom-based surveyhighlighted in EDUCATION WEEK that was commissioned by LKMco and Pearson, Inc.  It used answers from  a questionnaire that 1000 U.K. teachers filled out.  “Researchers found that, in addition to making a difference in students’ lives, the most common reason those surveyed cited for going into teaching is that they thought they would be good at it, with 93 percent also citing that as an important factor,” the story reveals.  “A love for the subject, the chance to make a difference in society, and the desire to work with young people were also among top five reasons for going into teaching.”  It also looks at reasons why educators remain in the profession.  You can find the full report, titled “Why Teach?” by clicking here.
 
Election 2016
In answer to a question about the Common Core, GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson ends up praising homeschoolers and criticizing public education.  The short clip (1:05 minutes) is from earlier this year and appears courtesy of C-SPAN.   
 
Principal Prep Programs
EDUCATION WEEK describes some new training programs for principals that emphasize business practices.  The piece features several specific plans that offer leadership and management training around the U.S.  “As organizational leaders,” the item explains, “principals need to have the same kinds of skill sets that effective managers in other professions possess: the ability to create a compelling vision, lead high-performing teams, think like problem-solvers, put strategic plans in place, and execute on those plans.”
 
LAUSD Supt. Search
The L.A. Times posted an intriguing graphic on its website on Wednesday with pictures and background information about 43 possible candidates to fill of the position of LAUSD superintendent.  You can sort the list by a number of criteria including “Chance of Being a Contender.”  Familiar names the paper includes: Antonia Villaraigosa, Eric Holder, Jr., Henry Cisneros, Ted Mitchell (former Oxy president), Caprice Young and Marshall Tuck.  Click on each picture to get more information.  Who do you think the school board will select?               The LAUSD has been hosting a number of open forums around the district for the past two weeks to elicit input from the community about selecting the next superintendent.  The response from the public has been underwhelming as described in a front-page story in yesterday’s Times.  “According to the search consultants, more than 1,200 people attended at least one of more than 100 scheduled meetings,”  the article relates, “an average of fewer than 12 per meeting.  In addition, consultants sought input on written and online surveys; about 8,000 of them were returned through last week.”
 
Corporal Punishment
In light of the incident last week where a South Carolina African American teenage girl was violently pulled from her desk, slammed to the floor and handcuffed by a school police officer for a situation involving her cellphone, Anthony Cody, on his LIVING in DIALOGUE blog revisits the issue of corporal punishment in schools.  “There is a related issue that has smoldered under the surface for decades,” he suggests.  “While all fifty states have laws against intentional cruelty to animals, in 19 states it is legal to paddle students for misbehavior.  Recent attention has been drawn to the fact that African American and disabled students are more likely to be suspended or expelled – and this pattern is seen in the use of corporal punishment as well.”  Cody references a documentary film about corporal punishment titled “The Board of Education.”  He includes the trailer (2:55 minutes) of the film in his article and has a link to the full movie (32:35 minutes).
 
Teens and Their Smartphones
If you teach tweens/teens, are a parent of one or more or will be or just know a few this story from the “Business” section of Wednesday’s L.A. Times could prove to be a real eyeopener (or not).  It highlights a recent study of over 2,500 8 to 18 year-olds that found the teens (13-18) spend, on average, 9 (!) hours a day staring at the screens of their smartphones, watching television or listening to music.  Now if most of that time was looking up history or science information, reading a classic novel or viewing lessons from the Khan Academy most educators and parents would have nothing to complain about. However, the research finds that a huge chunk of those hours is spent on, you guessed it, social media.              A follow-up piece on the above item, posted on the Times website Tuesday morning delves deeper into the study that was done by Common Sense Media.  Ever wonder why that homework doesn’t get done or is completed poorly?  “Multitasking is the new normal when it comes to homework time.  Most teens listen to music while doing their work, but many also watch TV (51%), use social media (50%) and text (60%).  And, no, they don’t think it’s a problem,”this article suggests.  “Most, in fact, think multitasking has little impact on the quality of their work.  The jury’s still out on this one. But there’s evidence suggesting that multitasking makes it harder to retain information, according to Common Sense.”
 
Reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB
Jeff Bryant, on the Education Opportunity NETWORK, revisits the status of the rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (and its current iteration, No Child Left Behind).  He approves of the revisions that reduce the amount of testing, allow parents to opt their children out of the assessments and eliminates the AYP (Average Yearly Progress) measure that was used to punish under achieving schools.  He doesn’t believe either the House of Senate versions go far enough in correcting the serious flaws of NCLB but understands, and explains, the political realities in Congress in trying to get a compromise bill passed and signed into law.  “What would be preferable, of course, is to have federal education policy based on a more robust idea of what works and designed to achieve outcomes that are truly desirable,” he concludes.  “But if stopping the tyranny of the testocracy is the best we can do right now, that alone seems a good enough reason to hope Congress acts and passes a revision of NCLB before the year’s end.”
 
Other LAUSD News
3 letters were published in Wednesday’s L.A. Times reacting to the paper’s story on Monday (highlighted in the “Ed News”) about the lack of funding for arts education in the LAUSD.  All 3 were critical of the district’s actions although 1 pointed out how after-school-programs help pick up the slack.               A panel of outside experts released a report that warns the LAUSD may be facing bankruptcy in the near future.  The causes of the looming deficits were blamed on overgenerous employee compensation agreements (cough!, cough!), bloated bureaucracy (that’s more like it) and declining student enrollments due to inroads made by charter schools (that’s pretty obvious).  An article in today’s Timesdescribes the situation and what the panel recommends.  “The panel made numerous recommendations,” it points out, “including: improving student and teacher attendance, offering an early retirement program, advocating for increased funding and reducing the total staffing in line with declining enrollment.  The report also called for lowering the cost of services provided to disabled students.  The committee will formally present its findings at next week’s school board meeting.”  [Ed note: Former LAUSD teacher and board member David Tokofsky was interviewed on KNX 1070 “News Radio” this morning.  He was highly critical of the panel’s predictions, noting they focused on district expenditures and seemed to ignore the possibility of increased revenue from the state.]               Another story in the same paper describes the settlement that was reached in answer to a lawsuit filed against the LAUSD that prevents students from being programmed into “fake” classes that offer no credit or that simply send students home instead of having them enrolled in academic courses.  “Students in six schools in Oakland, Compton and Los Angeles that are predominantly low-income and minority were taking these types of classes,” the item notes.  “The schools are Castlemont High School and Fremont High School in the Oakland Unified School District; John C. Fremont High, Thomas B. Jefferson High School and Susan Miller Dorsey High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District; and Compton High School in the Compton Unified School District.”
 
Common Core
And finally, Steven Singer, author of theGADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, is baffled why so many teachers still support the Common Core.  He reports that 76% of educators supported the standards two years ago.  Today that figure has plummeted to 40%.  “The only explanation I can come up with,” he suggests, “is Stockholm syndrome.  The phenomena, also called capture-bonding, occurs when hostages empathize with their captors.  Kidnapping victims sometimes feel sorry for the very people who abducted them.  Something similar seems to be happening with the few hardcore supporters of Common Core that are left.”  Singer reviews some of the myths surrounding the creation of the Common Core.
                         http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk                    

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.

Ed News, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015 Edition

The ED NEWS

               A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

             
 
Upcoming event: The always timely and informative ALOED Educational Film Series continues on Wed., Nov. 11, from 6:30 to 9 pm with a screening of the provocative documentary “Education, Inc.” in Mosher 1 on the Oxy campus.  A stimulating panel discussion will follow the viewing.  You don’t want to miss any ALOED event and you certainly don’t want to miss this one.  Light refreshments will be provided by the Oxy Education Department, which is co-sponsoring the screening.  For more information and to RSVP please click here.
 
Inline image 1
 
 
“I had always insisted that a good education was a synthesis of book learning and involvement in social action, 
that each enriched the other. I wanted my students to know that the accumulation of knowledge, 
while fascinating in itself, is not sufficient as long as so many people in the world 
have no opportunity to experience that fascination.”
LAUSD Supt. Search
The L.A. Times, over the past week or so, had several articles as the search for a new LAUSD superintendent kicks into high gear.  The first one appeared in the Oct. 21, edition and reported on thefirst in a series of public forums held to give community members input in the selection process.  This one only drew about 2 dozen participants, according to the report.  “L.A. Unified hopes to select a superintendent by the end of the year, which is when current Supt. Ramon C. Cortines has said he would like to step down,” it explains.  “The Board of Education has decided to recruit, evaluate and interview applicants confidentially, but it also insists that community input matters to them.  School board President Steve Zimmer attended the forum, but he did not take part.”                Two days later the Times printed a front-page story speculating on who might want the job of LAUSD superintendent and wondering why anyone would even want the very difficult position.  The piece named several specific people who might be interested.  “Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school system, is widely viewed as a management minefield.  The district leader reports to seven elected board members, with differing politics and priorities,” it relates.  “The superintendent runs a $12.6-billion entity, develops and carries out policies, and negotiates contracts with employee unions — all the while confronting lagging academic achievement and declining enrollment.”               An editorial in the same paper questions how much input the community should have in the process.  It’s all in favor of the board gathering information from community members in the district but ultimately they need to make the important final decision.  “In a district as politicized as L.A. Unified, an open search process would be more likely to backfire than to bring about a moment of clasped hands among the various factions.  Divisions over the candidates would form between reform and labor leaders,” the piece suggests.  “And what if the board ultimately ignored the committee’s recommendation?  The bad feelings would start even before the new L.A. Unified boss’ first day on the job.”
Teacher Strikes
EDUCATION WEEK has an excellent primer on teacher strikesthis year with comparisons to previous years.  Over the past 6 years, 8 states, including California, have experienced labor actions.  Pennsylvania leads the way with 20 during that stretch; Illinois is second with 16 and the Golden State is tied for third with 5.  The article also discusses why teachers have been willing to walk picket lines.  “A casual observer may think there have been an inordinate number of teachers’ strikes this year,” the piece relates.  “An Education Week Teacher analysis of public school teachers’ strikes over the past six years, however, shows that the pace of such strikes hasn’t increased or decreased significantly.  And considering how many school districts there are,strikes are rare occurrences, attention-grabbing though they may be.”                 A teachers’ strike that began on Oct. 1, in East St. Louis came to an end yesterday when educators returned to their classrooms after one of the longest labor actions of 2015.  A short item inEDUCATION WEEK reviews the strike and outlines the key provisions of the new contract.  “Students will have to make up the lost instructional days,” the story notes.  “District spokesperson Kelli Hawkins told the Belleville News-Democrat that holiday breaks may be shortened, and classes would likely extend into summer.  Some of the more than 6,000 students transferred to other districts as the strike dragged on.”
 
Charter Schools
A major criticism of most charter schools is that they have high turnover rates among their faculties.  The author of this article, on the Journalist’s Resource website, looks at some the causes of that phenomenon.  He’s an assistant professor of Education Leadership at Montclair State University in New Jersey.  His post is titled “How Teacher Turnover, Burnout, Can Impact ‘No-Excuses’ Charter Schools.”  “My findings about teacher burnout and turnover,” he reports, “suggest that teachers and students should have more input into the creation and adaptation of rules about behavior.  A more consultative and adaptive approach might reduce conflict, resistance, and teacher turnover.  Recognizing the sorts of realities I have documented, some charter schools have started to experiment with alternative approaches to discipline.”               Sunday’s L.A. Times reports that an L.A. County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order against the Alliance College-Ready Public School charter chain that prohibits them from interfering in unionization efforts on its campuses.  “The order, signed by attorneys from Alliance and United Teachers Los Angeles,” the story notes, “states that the city’s largest charter group cannot coerce or ask teachers about their positions on unionization, must let organizers onto campuses, cannot block emails from the union and must stay 100 feet away from organizers.”               How effective are online charters?  A new study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University is extremely critical of them.  Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, looks at the recent findings.  17 states, including California, enroll students in these types of “schools.”   “There’s still some possibility that there’s positive learning,” one of the authors of the report is quoted as saying, “but it’s so statistically significantly different from the average, it is literally as if the kid did not go to school for an entire year.”
 
Testing and Opt-Out
Is the federal government finally backing away from its over-emphasis on standardized testing that kicked into high gear under Pres. George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and continued under Pres. Obama’s Race to the Top?  A prominent front-page story in last Sunday’s L.A. Times describes how the Obama administration is attempting to limit the amount of classroom time spent on the assessments.  “In the new policy, the administration acknowledged the focus on testing was ‘consuming too much instructional time and creating undue stress for educators and students.’  It called on states and school districts,” the item notes, “to cap the time spent on assessments at no more than 2% of classroom hours and pledged to ask Congress to enact the limit into law.”               TheBadass Teachers Association (BATS) issued a statement in reaction to the President’s new policies.  “The blame and punish test agenda has not closed either the education or opportunity gap,” it maintains.  “We are reluctantly pleased that the President and his administration are finally taking a stand, but sadly the devastation has already been done.  We are confident that if the President and his administration make a commitment to work with educators, parents, and students we can fix it and make it right.”  The press release also includes several specific quotes from members of the BATS board.               In a follow-up post the BATsformulated a letter to Pres. Obama about his Testing Action Plan.  It contains additional reactions and specific comments regarding some of the states that were mentioned in it.  “Your New Testing Plan, though obviously in the planning for many months,” it complains, “does not tackle the single most significant issue affecting student performance, poverty and funding inequities.”               Peggy Robertson, on her Peg With Pen blog is totally nonplussed with Obama’s new proposals regarding testing.  The title of her brief response is equally brief: “No Victory.”               Steven Singer, aka the GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, also weighs in on the highly disappointed side of the President’s plan.  “The Obama Administration must think the nation’s parents, teachers and students are pretty darn dumb,” he begins rather bluntly.  “President Barack Obama and his hand-picked Department of Education are solely responsible for the knuckle dragging academic policies strangling our public schools day in, day out.  Yet instead of doing anything to reverse course to proven methods that might actually help kids learn, the department trudges out its annual apology.”  Singer goes on to explain why he finds this latest revision simply another “apology.”           Lamar Alexander, former U.S. Sec. of Education and current chair of the Senate Education Committee, comments on Obama’s recommendations about testing in the current edition (Nov. 9) of TIME magazine.  “I am glad to see the president’s focus on over-testing,” he writes.  “But let’s not make the same mistake twice by decreeing from Washington exactly how much time to spend on tests or what the tests should be. States and 3 million teachers in 100,000 public schools are in the best position to know what to do about over-testing.               A “Back Story” feature in last Sunday’s L.A. Times offers a 15-question multiple-choice quiz about standardized testing.  The test is self-scoring.  [Ed. note: I’ll tell you how I did if you tell me how you did.]                An editorial in last Monday’s Times was critical of Obama’s new proposal “If Obama is sincere about easing the testing frenzy,” it concludes, “he should drop the teacher evaluation mandate and support intensive help, rather than punishment, for struggling schools.  His existing proposal would treat the symptoms more than the cause.”               With the controversy over standardized testing continuing, Anthony Cody on his LIVING in DIALOGUE blog asks a key question: “What Sort of Assessment DOES Enhance Learning?”   About 15 years ago Cody was involved in some research with Stanford University that helps answer the question.  He quotes extensively from one of the authors of that study.  “There are ways to assess learning that DO enhance learning,” Cody suggests, “rather than stifle it.  This assessment is done by the classroom teacher, and is directly connected to the work they have students do on a daily basis.  This is called ‘formative’ assessment, and it informs the teacher and the student about what the student is able to do.  It helps the teacher shape their instruction to their students’ needs, and also provides feedback to students so they can stretch and grow.             Jesse Hagopian, history teacher at Garfield High in Seattle and one of the first educators to speak out against the overuse of standardized testing, appeared on an PBS “NEWSHOUR” segment talking about the assessments and the opt-out movement.  He is interviewed by the networks correspondent Gwen Ifill.  You can view the segment (6:35 minutes), listen to an audio and/or read a transcript byclicking here.  Thanks to ALOED member Larry Lawrence for sending it.                Lawrence also alerted the editor of the “Ed News” to the fact that Hagopian will be speaking in the L.A. area on Monday, Nov. 9, on the local campus of Antioch University in Culver City for their “Friends of Education SPEAKER SERIES.”  The event is free and open to the public.  Lawrence and Dave Alpert, the “Ed News” editor, are planning to attend.  Please click here for more information.
 
NAEP Scores Decline for First Time in Almost 20 Years
Scores for 4th and 8th grade math and English on the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) declined for the first time in almost 2 decades.  The results, on what is often referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card,” prompted a flurry of finger-pointing in many directions.  EDUCATION WEEK looks at what factors are being blamed for the highly disappointing results and offers some analysis of the numbers.  You can find more detailed figures from The Nation’s Report Card website by clicking here.  
 
A Popular AND Successful LAUSD Public School
As more and more parents opt for charter or private schools they may be overlooking some highly successful traditional public campuses.  A story in last Monday’s L.A. Times profiles the K-8 Porter Ranch Community School which is part of the LAUSD.  “The 10-acre campus features a gleaming gym, science and computer labs, a library and performing arts spaces,” the item describes.  “Parents also say they chose the school because of the dynamic principal, dedicated teachers, close community and what they find to be a rich and engaging educational program.  The school offers a Korean-English dual language program, along with third-grade Spanish and after-school Korean and Mandarin Chinese.”
 
Chicago
What is going on in Chicago?  Amid continuing budget cuts from the state capital and the city school board, the latter approved two new charters for the Chicago Public School system.  The Chicago Sun-Times reports on this latest decision.  “While Chicago Public Schools continues to beg Springfield for $480 million to balance its budget and enrollment has dropped another 4,400 students,” the item begins, “the Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously decided to open two new charter schools in the fall.”     The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which struck the district in 2012, is so fed up with the ongoing budget crisis that it is warning its rank-and-file of the possibility of another labor action.  Diane Ravitch’s blogreprints a press release from the Union explaining why it’s preparing members for another strike.  
 
Declining Arts Education in LAUSD
The LAUSD repeatedly says it wants to expand arts education in the district but it still has a number of campuses with limited or noofferings in art and music.  A prominent front-page story in yesterday’s L.A. Times reviews the situation and looks at attempts to correct it.  “Budget cuts and a narrow focus on subjects that are measured on standardized tests have contributed to a vast reduction of public school arts programs across the country,” the article points out.  “The deterioration has been particularly jarring in Los Angeles, the epicenter of the entertainment industry.  The Los Angeles Unified School District is discovering the extent of those cuts as it seeks to regain the vibrancy that once made it a leader in arts education.”  Be sure to click on the “Database” sidebar titled “Grading the Arts in LAUSD” for individual ratings of over 700 schools in the district.  The LAUSD can spend millions of dollars on testing and technology (“iPads-for-all-program) but dramatically shortchanges arts education as described in this article.  SHAME!  SHAME!!
 
Common Core
And finally, are the Common Core State Standards in trouble?  A piece in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL answers in the affirmative.  It looks at the reasons why a number of states arequestioning their initial support for the Common Core.  “One reason is that Common Core became a hypercharged political issue,” it suggests, “with grass-roots movements pressing elected leaders to back off.  Some conservatives saw the shared standards as a federal intrusion into state matters, in part because the Obama administration provided grant funding. Some liberals and conservatives decried what they saw as excessive testing and convoluted teaching materials.”  Be sure to check out the graphic of the map of the U.S. showing the status of the Common Core in each state.                 Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, has an “I could have told you so” reaction to the WSJ article (see above).  “And no, the Wall Street Journal does not, technically declare Common Core dead,” he concludes.  “They just describe how the body is laid out on a slab, its nationally unifying heartbeat stilled and its collective testing brain silent.  Is a thing true if we describe the condition but don’t say the word?  I don’t know.  That’s such a complex question that I need a computer to answer it.”  [Ed. note: Greene really likes the map that accompanies the WSJ story.  So it you don’t want to take my advice to look at it, at least take his.]
   
                                      http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/images/editor/iModules%2520Tiger.jpg&imgrefurl=http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?pgid=254&h=535&w=589&tbnid=HpSKtombb69zFM:&zoom=1&docid=b__GuALUiVQjxM&hl=en&ei=eoUbVY37HJXhoASho4KgDg&tbm=isch&ved=0CCYQMygJMAk                    

Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)
ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.