Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ed News, Tuesday, March 29, 2016 Edition

The ED NEWS

             A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

            
 
   “If it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor
and council or any other general authority of the government,
than by the parents within each ward,
it is a belief against all experience.” 
Teach for America
Tuesday’s edition of the “Ed News” highlighted an item about some job cuts and retrenchment at Teach for America.  TFA spun the actions as a “new strategic direction.”  Mercedes Schneider, on her “EduBlog” at deutsch29, takes her usual analytic look at what’s taking place at the organization.  “TFA has a problem,” she concludes, “and it is one that image polish, a gentle Bellwether report, and a ‘leaner, more agile central structure’ cannot fix.  A growing number of former TFAers are voicing their discontent with the damage TFA inflicts upon community-rooted education, discontent that will likely only increase over time.”  Diane Ravitch describes Schneider’s article thusly: “Schneider’s post is a long read, but well worth your time.”              Gary Rubenstein was an early member of Teach for America.  He taught for a few years in Houston and then became a trainer for TFA.  A couple of years ago he had a change of heart about the organization and became a strong critic.  He decided to attend their 25th anniversary celebration and came away with some interesting observations about how TFA may be changing to stay up with the times.  You can read his extended views of the gathering on his Gary Rubenstein’s Blog in a post titled “TFA25 Post Mortem.”  “My feeling is that TFA is changing their messaging to stay current with the current strategy of the US Department of Education and the different ed reform groups,” he offers in summation.  “They realize that their anti-teacher narrative is wearing thin and it is time to be a lot nicer.  Are they doing this because they want to or because they have to, I think it is because they have to.  Still, they do ‘appear’ to be improving.”
 
Common Core & Testing
The Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive public policy research and advocacy think tank out of Washington, D.C., has produced a short video (1:39 minutes) that pokes fun at critics of the Common Core.  You can view it courtesy of the FUNNY OR DIEwebsite.              Peter Greene, aka the author of theCURMUDGUCATION blog, couldn’t wait to continue his critique of CAP and its video about the standards (see above).  “One thing you can say about the Center for American Progress.  Well, two things,” he begins. “One is that John Podesta’s little hobby lobby advocacy group has been a great holding pen for Clintonian staffers during the interregnum.  The other is that they have 
emerged as the most devotedly pro-Common Core group on the planet.”                 Greene was aghast to discover the existence of a “Standardized Testing Bill of Rights” from the#testbetter(dot)org website.  He provides a link to their Bill of Rights or you can find it by clicking here.  On hisCURMUDGUCATION blog Greene engages in a point-by-point analysis of the ideas contained in the Bill of Rights.  He asks who is funding this group and here is his answer: “The usual gang of testocrats.  CAP [see item #1 in this section]. High Achievement New York. Educators 4 Excellence. National PTA.  The usual assortment of astro-turfed Gates-funded corporate stooges who are always there to assure us that tests are swell and we should all love them . . . .”
 
Charter Schools
The previous edition of the “Ed News” included an item about Success Academy Charter founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz embarking on a PR offensive to counter some recent negative publicity about her network of schools in New York City.  POLITICO NEW YORK obtained a copy of a memo circulated to Success Academy staff from its lawyers warning of certain mistakes that need to be avoided in the future.  It clearly demonstrates why the network has a PR problem.  “Success Academy’s legal team is hoping to help the charter school network get a handle on its public image with a new list of twenty ‘mistakes’ the charter network’s staffers should be careful to avoid,” the article reveals.  “The common pitfalls described in the memo include providing any information — even seemingly innocuous facts — to journalists or politicians, engaging in arguments with parents over text message or email and informing the network’s legal team too late about accusations against teachers or students.”               Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, quickly pounced on the memo to Success Academy staff (see above) as proof, once and for all, thatthese charters are NOT public schools, despite what they constantly claim (and is also the justification for them receiving taxpayer dollars).  “Success Academy charters are not accountable schools.  They are not even accountable to the invisible hand of the free market (how do parents make informed choices when they are barred from having information).  And finally, and most importantly, Success Academy charters are not public schools,” he concludes, “and they should stop getting a single, solitary public tax dollar.”              The spate of negative publicity for embattled Eva Moskowitz continues as a group of 5 current and former Success Academy parents are asking, in an open letter to Gov. Cuomo, to withdraw funding and increase oversight and accountability of charter schools in New York.  The GOTHAM GAZETTE  has the latest details.  “The parents cite instances where their children were routinely suspended, singled out, and shamed or excluded from field trips,” it points out.  “They say Success often called them midday to pick up their children without reporting these events as suspensions.  And, they claim Success Academy retaliated by calling the Administration for Children’s Services on them when they spoke out against these practices.”
Mastery Charter Schools, a chain of campuses in Philadelphia, ismoving away from the strict, zero-tolerance “no-excuses” model of behavior management and is having some success as it does so.  THE HECHINGER REPORT has an in-depth profile of the experiment and Mastery’s CEO Scott Gordon.  “He frequently takes on the worst of the worst – and he’s had some success.  As a result, he has become an increasingly important figure in the burgeoning charter school movement. . . . Yet not everyone is so charitable,”the piece suggests.  “Critics accuse him of being an outsider who is dismantling the city’s public schools in an attempt  to create a private education empire.  Now Gordon faces his severest test yet.  He is shifting his approach in running the schools away from a ‘no excuses’ model that has defined much of the urban charter school movement to a more supportive approach that takes into account students’ backgrounds.”               The Chicago Sun Times has an investigative piece about the wild spending habits of taxpayer money by officials of the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) charter network.  Funds were spent on expensive restaurant meals, travel, spa visits and a lobbying firm among other things.  “Despite being almost entirely government-funded, UNO leaders fought to keep the spending records secret,” the piece reveals, “arguing that they didn’t have to comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Act because UNO is a private organization.  But they ultimately released the records in a recent legal settlement with the Sun-Times.”   Just another example of how charters what to have it both ways.  They claim they are “public” when requesting millions of dollars of taxpayer money but argue they are “private” when asked to be accountable and transparent.  
 
Virtual Field Trips–For Real
All of you know what a school field trip is and have certainly taken some during your student days and possibly led a few during your teaching career.  Ever heard of a “virtual field trip (VFT)?”  The “Time and Learning” column in EDUCATION WEEK has an interesting piece about how one school district in North Carolina takes students on virtual field trips in order to save time and money.  “Dacia Jones’ official title is district science specialist for Durham Public Schools in Durham, N.C.,” it explains.  “But her unofficial title is something like virtual field trip coordinator for the district.  She describes these events as ‘an in-class experience to an out-of-this-world place’ and plans more than 100 of these trips every year primarily for K-5 students in 30 Durham schools.  But, she says, typically students in more than 200 schools across North America watch along with them.  All of these virtual field trips are filmed and archived so schools can watch them anytime.”  The article includes a Q & A with Jones who describes how she sets up and runs the VFTs.  It includes a audio soundcloud segment (2:08 minutes) with Jones describing a trip to an amusement park.  Hang on tight during the ride!
 
CTU Votes for One Day Strike April 1
[Ed note: I was incorrect when I stated in Tuesday’s “Ed News” that what the Chicago Teachers Union voted to do on April 1 wasn’t a strike.]  Michelle Gunderson, writing on the LIVING in DIALOGUE blog, provides an insiders account of what took place  and the reasons for it when the CTU took their vote.  Gunderson is a good person to provide this information as she is a veteran elementary school teacher in Chicago and attended the union meeting.
 
Senate Confirms John King as New Sec. of U.S. Dept. of Education
This picture appeared on the Badass Teachers Association (BATs) website regarding the confirmation of John King.  It requires no further comment:
 
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L.A. County Office of Education Has a New Head
LAUSD has a new superintendent who was promoted from within.  Now the L.A. County Office of Education has a new head and she comes from the LAUSD also.  Debra Duardo was selected by the County Board of Supervisors over two other candidates in a unanimous vote last week.  Yesterday’s L.A. Times has a profile of her and the job she’ll be taking over on July 1.“Duardo, a veteran administrator, comes over from the mammoth L.A. Unified School District,” it mentions, “where she’s worked for two decades and heads the student health and human services division.”
 
Series on High School Exit Exams Continues
LIVING in DIALOGUE author Denise Hertzog Pursche continues her series titled “Why High School Exit Exam, Not Students, Are Worthless.”  In Part 3 she interestingly reviews some of the discussions within the California Dept. of Education which has put that state’s exit exam (the CAHSEE) on hold while it determines its value and whether it can be aligned to the Common Core.  “It is my suspicion that the California Department of Education has already made up its mind about the worth of the high school exit exam,” she suggests, “and based on these conversations, I fully expect the exit exam is not on its way out, but will be reinstated at some time in the future, either via SAT, ACT, or a consortia exit exam.”
 
Opt-Out Movement
Jeanette Deutermann, founder of the Long Island Opt-Out Movement, takes a minute to respond to the local Newsday newspaper’s editorial staff who have been consistently anti-teacher, anti-public education and anti-opt-out movement.  “So don’t beat yourself up that your biased, angry, personal attacks are not hitting the mark,” she concludes, “(and gee wiz, it almost seems like it’s giving them more fuel!!).  It’s not you.  It’s us.  We just can’t seem to get the well being of our children out of our heads.”
 
LAUSD Seeks Increase in Funding for After-School Programs
The LAUSD is seeking a $1 increase per pupil per day in state funding to help expand after-school programs.  That works out to a boost of 13%.  A story in yesterday’s L.A. Times describes what the district is hoping to obtain and why they are asking for the increase.  “These programs allow parents to work full-time while their children are in a safe environment,”  it notes, “and provide academic and extracurricular support that students might not receive at home, L.A. City Councilman David Ryu said in a news conference Friday, after the City Council approved a resolution supporting the increase.”
 
Broad-Trained Supt. Causing Chaos in Oakland
Tuesday’s edition of the “Ed News” highlighted an article about how Broad Academy-trained superintendents were causing problems in Oklahoma City and Oakland.  THE POST NEWS GROUP, the largest African American news weekly in northern California, has a much more detailed look at what’s going on in Oakland.  Their piece is titled “Oakland Schools in Turmoil as District Threatens to Remove 17 Principals.”  “Seventeen principals have received warning letters that they may be removed or reassigned,” it relates.  “A number of schools have learned that they may have to move for charter schools to ‘co-locate’ onto their campuses and a large number of new teachers have just learned they will be fired at the end of June.”
 
BREAKING NEWS!  Supreme Court Issues 
Friedrichs Ruling
And finally, some big, breaking news.  The U.S. Supreme Court this morning upheld the charging of fees by public employee unions on a 4-4 vote in the landmark Friedrichs v California Teachers Association case.  Because of the tie, the action upholds the decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Most court watchers were predicting that the conservative majority on the court would rule in favor of a group of Orange County teachers who sued to have the agency fee concept overturned.  The unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month robbed the majority of a decisive fifth vote that most likely would have upheld the plaintiffs in the case and ended the idea of agency fees.  The L.A. Times posted a story about the decision on their website this morning.  Look for a prominent (front-page?) article in the print edition tomorrow.  “If the high court had overturned its 1977 precedent and struck down these fees on 1st Amendment grounds,” the post explains, “the decision could have had a crippling effect on public employee unions. Their officials feared that many employees, even those who favored the union, would choose not to pay the fees to support one if they were free to do so.”             The Friedrichs case was argued before the court on Jan. 11 this year.  For a more legalistic analysis of the ruling check out the authoritative SCOTUSblog by clicking here “The most important labor union controversy to reach the Supreme Court in years sputtered to an end on Tuesday, with a four-to-four split, no explanation, and nothing settled definitely.  The one-sentence result in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association will leave intact, but on an uncertain legal foundation, a system of ‘agency fees’ for non-union teachers in California — with the legal doubts for public workers’ unions across the nation probably lingering until a ninth Justice joins the Court at some point in the future.               The “School Law” column in EDUCATION WEEK naturally checks in on the ruling.  Itrecaps the case and discusses the impact of the decision.  “Backers of the challenge to the union fees have said that in the event of a deadlock, they would ask the high court for a rehearing,” the story spells out, “to be conducted after the vacancy on the court is filled.  The court rarely grants rehearings for any reason, and the political uncertainty over President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick B. Garland to fill Scalia’s seat would seem to make that possibility in this case highly unlikely.”       The “Teacher Beat” blog in ED WEEK offers some union reaction to the decision announced this morning.  It references the item from the SCOTUSblog (see above) 
 
 
                                    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)
Member of ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.

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Ed News, Friday, March 25, 2016 Edition

The ED NEWS

             A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

           
       Sunday is Easter
 
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“There are, and always have been, destructive pseudo-scientific notions linked to race and religion; 
these are the most widespread and damaging. Hopefully, educated people can succeed in shedding light 
into these areas of prejudice and ignorance, for as Voltaire once said: 
Men will commit atrocities as long as they believe absurdities.” 
― Martin Gardner
            
Religion in the Classroom
Can Christian teachers share aspects of their faith with their public school students?  That tricky issue is tackled in an article in The Washington Post titled “These Christian Teachers Want to Bring Jesus Into Public Schools.”  It describes an organization, The Christian Educators Association International, that is challenging the concept of the separation of church and state in the classroom through various events and activities aimed at elementary and secondary school students.  “The organization is a nonprofit with broad goals that include supporting Christian teachers and ‘transforming public schools through God’s love and truth.’  It is a professional association that serves as an alternative to traditional teachers unions,” the story points out, “offering its approximately 6,000 members liability insurance and other benefits.  Although the Christian Educators Association is small, it is at the center of a pending Supreme Court case that has the potential to substantially weaken public sector unions in more than two dozen states.  The association is a plaintiff in the case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which challenges the right of teachers unions to collect dues from nonmembers.”
 
Student Activism in High Schools on the Rise
High school students around the county are become more active in political causes that impact their lives and their schools according to a story in The CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR.  It details student movements in Boston, Chicago, Newark, Detroit and Houston and suggests that social media is playing a role in the protests.  “The lightning-fast social networking of students has stunned organizers who came of age in the era of circulating fliers and knocking on doors,” the item points out.  “But social media’s role in student activism has been evident for at least a decade.  In 2006, 100,000 students around the country walked out of public schools in the course of a week.  The walkouts were largely sparked by undocumented immigrant students who took to Myspace.com calling for protests against a tough immigration bill proposed in Congress that they feared would break up their families.”
 
The Teaching Profession
A middle school language arts teacher in Wisconsin explains how hereads aloud to his students.  He and a teaching partner use the technique to share novels and short stories with their pupils.  His piece appears courtesy of EDUCATION WEEK.  “Reading aloud is also a way to differentiate,” he explains.  “The common texts allow all students to share a foundation from which they can build upon with their own experience and ideas.  Each year I have a few students that come to loathe reading and writing.  Many times it is due to low reading skills, but not always.  They’ve spent so many years simply trying to figure out how to say the words in a text, instead of becoming immersed in the story itself.”
Are you involved in Twitter?  If so, do you think it’s a useful tool for teachers?  The author of this item on EDUCATION WEEK looks at the social media platform and answers some questions for those who may not be that familiar with it and how it can be used effectively by educators.  “Twitter bloomed into a global behemoth since being launched in 2006,” he mentions by way of introduction, “but while many educators extol its virtues as a tool for communication and professional development, many others continue to wonder if it’s worthwhile. . . .  We will try to answer some of the central questions that those who are still reluctant to join Twitter may have, and demonstrate how educators and others have addressed some of these concerns.”
Ever Heard of “DFER?”
DFER or Democrats for Education Reform (sounds pretty innocuous) is one of those groups whose name belies what they really stand for.  As The Center for Media and Democracy’s  “PR Watch” points out it might be more accurate to call the group “Hedge Funders For Education Reform” (HFFER) because that is what they really are.  “It was co-founded by hedge fund managers,”the investigative piece notes, “even though DFER’s board has been chosen to show the faces of a diverse group–of former or failed Democratic politicians.  In fact, ‘former’ is the first word in each of their bios on the DFER site.  (For example, DFER Board Member Adrian Fenty lost his bid for second term as DC mayor; KenChavous lost his bid for re-election to the DC Council; Craig Johnson lost his bid for re-election to the New York state senate; Maureen Stapleton lost her bid for re-election to the Michigan state house; Mary Ann Sullivan lost her bid for the state senate; and the others left their elected positions.)”  In the latter category is former California Senate leader Gloria Romero who leads DFER’sCalifornia affiliate and who helped lead the push to pass Prop 32 in 2012.  That measure would have limited the ability of public unions to get involved in elections. Thanks to ALOED member Larry Lawrence for passing this article along.   [Ed. note: For more information about Prop 32 click here.]
Education Vocabulary
Peter DeWitt has a 2-part series in EDUCATION WEEK about education vocabulary.  His first piece is titled “Should These 10 Educational Words be Banished?”  It includes such terms as grit, rigor, accountability and high stakes testing among others.  His second offering is headlined “12 Words That Should Be in our Educational Vocabulary” and on it he includes learning, collaboration, engagement and growth.  He offers you the opportunity to comment on his lists and invites readers to add their own to each.  They certainly make for an interesting discussion.  Check out the comments at the end of each of his articles for some valuable insights.
 
Make Your Plans to Attend the NPEConference in Raleigh
The Network for Public Education is holding their 3rd annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17.  The focus this year is on civil rights.  Get your income tax forms in early and plan to attend.  Anthony Cody, on hisLIVING in DIALOGUE blog extends a personal invitation and lists some of the highlights of the gathering.  Be sure to note the Movie Night event on Friday evening prior to the formal conference.  Dawn O’Keefe will be sharing segments from her fascinating documentary “Go Public: A Day in the Life of an American School District” about the Pasadena Unified system.  The film was screened on the Occidental College campus as part of the ongoing ALOED Education Film Festival in Oct., 2014, and featured a stimulating panel discussion with the filmmakers, Dawn and her husband.  In addition, Diane Ravitch and Jesse Hagopian will be featured speakers.  The former spoke at Oxy and the latter gave a talk in L.A. that was attended by two ALOED members. With all that going on, you can’t afford to miss this one!  Cody’s article includes links to the conference schedule and registration information.
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April 16 – 17, 2016
Raleigh, North Carolina

Common Core

The Common Core State Standards have sparked a lot of controversy and discussion.  No where is this illustrated more than the attitudes toward them here in California.  The “Teacher Beat” column in EDUCATION WEEK features a new survey fromWestEd that reports that teachers and administrators in the Golden State disagree on how well the implementation of the standards is proceeding.  “While over 70 percent of district leaders deemed their[CCSS] progress as either good or excellent,” the story notes, “teachers say there’s room for improvement and have a wish list for moving forward.”  The article raises some questions about the low rate of responses and if the data is statistically significant.  It includes a link to the full report (4 pages) titled “California Standards Implementation: WestEd Insights.”
 
Chicago Teachers Vote for a “Day Of Action” April 1
The Chicago Teachers Union voted overwhelmingly to hold a “Day of Action” April 1st to protest ongoing budget cuts, furlough days and the  underfunding of  schools.  Targets of the action include Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.  The DNAinfo website provides the details.  “The action is needed because the budget impasse and political stalemate in the [state legislature] have led to unfair working conditions for teachers in Chicago Public Schools,”  it reports.  “The lack of a state budget has placed tremendous financial burden on the school system.  Teachers already have been asked to take three furlough days so the district can save $30 million, with the first furlough day scheduled for [today]. . . .  The district has not yet followed through on threats to force teachers to pay a 7 percent pension contribution it has previously picked up — a cut in take-home pay teachers said would be a violation of the contract they’re now working under.”  [Ed. note: The headline on this article states the teachers voted to “strike.”  That’s not what they did.  They will be taking part in a 1-day protest action. As the story points out, the union must go through certain steps prior to going out on strike.]
 
Corporate “Reform”
A Broad Academy-trained superintendent has stirred up a racially tinged hornets nest  after taking over as chief of the Oakland School District.  Author of the piece, John Thompson,writing on theLIVING in DIALOGUE blog, works for the Oklahoma City Public Schools and describes some similar things taking place there after a Broad Academy superintendent took control.  “Words alone – whether they are sincere or whether they are just the Broad’s spin – won’t defuse the bitter and dangerous situations that corporate reformers have created.  Across the nation,” Thompson accuses, “Broad and other market-driven reformers are stepping up the use of mass school closures to defeat teachers, unions, and parents who oppose them.”
 
How the Anti-Government Movement is Hurting Kids
Jeff Bryant, on the Education Opportunity NETWORK, has an intriguing essay about how the anti-big government movement  and the politicians and leaders who support it is doing major harm to the nation’s children. He uses two examples to make his point: lead in the water in Flint and the deteriorating urban schools.  “After years of electing people who declare, ‘Government is the problem’ and who avow to ‘drown it in a bathtub,’ the results are apparent that, yeah, government might not work so well when you have people who hate it in charge,” he begins.  “New reports reveal that years of hating government are taking their toll on the nation’s infrastructure, in particular, those government services, such as safe drinking water and public schools, which are essential to children.”
 
Testing
The number of states utilizing the PARCC or SBAC Common Core-aligned assessments in 2015-16 has dwindled from 45 six year ago to only 21 today.  A survey in EDUCATION WEEK discovered the declining numbers as more and more states seek alternatives to the two major shared exams.  California is sticking with the SBAC test for now.  The ED WEEK story has several interactive charts and tables describing the status of testing in each state.  Some are relying on the SAT or ACT at the high school level or have created non-consortium exams of their own.  Click on the box in the middle of the story marked “State Testing” for state-by-state breakdowns.
 
Opt Out
Teachers in New York are being threatened not to speak ill of the state’s standardized tests or encourage opting out.  A piece in The New Times explains how some administrators are reacting to teachers informing parents about the exams and their right to refuse to have their children take them.  “Several principals said they had been told by either the schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, or their superintendents that they and their teachers should not encourage opting out,” it explains.  “There were no specific consequences mentioned, but the warnings were enough to deter some educators.  Devora Kaye, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said that teachers were free to express themselves on matters of public concern as private citizens, but not as representatives of the department, and that if they crossed that line they could be disciplined.  Asked what the disciplinary measures might be, Ms. Kaye said they were determined case by case.”
 
Private Kindergartens
Tuesday’s edition of the “Ed News” highlighted an “Education Watch” column in Monday’s L.A. Times about the competition to get into private kindergartens in L.A.  The item prompted a singleletter that appears in today’s edition of the paper that was critical of what kindergartens have become in the age of Common Core.  It was written by the former director of the UCLA Child Care Services.  “Preschools and kindergartens should not be run like businesses; rather,” she writes, “they should provide humane, accepting and loving adventures where children may make mistakes, learn from them and become good citizens.
 
Ravitch’s Blog Hits a New Milestone
And finally, congratulations to fellow blogger Diane Ravitch.  HerDiane Ravitch’s blog reached 26 million page views last night.  She started it in April, 2012.  “The goal of the blog is ‘a better education for all.’  Not a better education for a few,” Ravitchexplains, “but a better education for all.  Great nations have great public school systems, not choice programs that privilege a few and impoverish everyone else; not entrepreneurial schools run by rank amateurs, wannabe educators, and charlatans.  Great nations treat their teachers with respect.”  Hear! Hear!
                                    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)
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.

                 

 

Ed News, Tuesday, March 22, 2016 Edition

The ED NEWS

             A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

           
             Spring officially arrived at 9:30 pm Saturday.
 
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                “Hey there, Hallie, welcome to the next place we need a Deer Crossing sign.’
I didn’t know that deers could read.’
They can in Cosgrove County. It’s part of the No Deer Left Behind program.” 

― Laura PedersenBest Bet

Toxic Levels of Lead in School Water Supplies

The disaster in Flint, Michigan, regarding highly toxic levels of lead in the municipal water supply is well known by now.  What is not so well known is that similar problems are beginning to plague school campuses around the country.  telesur provides some rather disturbing details in an article titled “Beyond Flint: US Schools Suffer Toxic Water Contamination.”                EDUCATION WEEKweighed in on the same topic.  It identifies of number of school districts with issues of unsafe levels of lead in drinking water and describes how some are working to mitigate the problems.  “School districts are not required to annually test their drinking water for lead if they use their city’s water source,”  the article mentions.  “A common source of lead-tainted water in schools is from leaching of old lead pipes in the schools or the solder used to weld pipes together.”
 
Opting Out

The “bald piano guy,” whose song parodies have been featured before on the “Ed News,” has a new contribution titled “It’s Still Opting Out to Me.”  You can listen to it on facebook (1:29 minutes).  This one takes a Billy Joel song “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me.”  You can hear  the original on You Tube (3:03 minutes).               Peggy Robertson, on her Peg With Pen blog, describes how several districts in Colorado, including her own, downplay a parent’s right to opt out his/her child from standardized testing in the state. Parents legally have that right but many districts make it next to impossible for families to know about the law and how they can take advantage of it.  Robertson concludes with a basic opt-out letter (in both English and Spanish) that parents in Colorado can complete and send to school with their child.

Student Discipline
Corporal punishment has been outlawed in California since 1986 (the LAUSD disallowed the practice in 1984).  30 other states ban its use in public schools but only two states, New Jersey and Iowa, prohibit its use in private schools.  truthout takes a look atdisciplinary practices around the nation and you may be surprised to learn that they include the use of mace, stun guns, tasers, restraints and other techniques that might sound more appropriate to the middle ages.  “The 12 to 15 percent of public school students living with disabilities also experience disproportionate corporal punishment,” it mentions, “regardless of race and regardless of whether they have learning disorders, are autistic or have illnesses ranging from cerebral palsy to asthma.  According to the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, children with disabilities are between two and five times more likely to be hit than other students.”  The item goes on to discuss other forms of punishment.  
 
Trouble for TFA
 Diane Ravitch’s blog has a note from a “current high-level administrative employee at Teach for America,” who wishes to remain anonymous, who chronicles some major shake-ups in the upper ranks of TFA.  “Despite the flashy celebration at TFA’s 25th Anniversary Summit held in Washington D.C. last month,” the insider reveals, “TFA did not meet its recruiting target for the second year in a row.  2015 was the first time in its history that TFA laid off employees, and now it’s happening again.  But something appears to be different this time around.  It’s not just the rank and file staff employees who are getting the ax, like they did in Spring 2015.  This year it goes all the way up to the C-suite. Sources say several senior leaders are ‘voluntarily’ resigning amid alleged rumors of mismanagement and questionable business practices by the nonprofit organization.”  You can read the official announcement about the cut-backs and the group’s “new strategic direction” on the TEACHFORAMERICA website.               Valerie Strauss comments on the difficulties facing TFA on her “Answer Sheet” column in The Washington Post.”  The piece includes an interview that Jennifer Berkshire (“EduShyster”)  conducted with the author of an article about the problems confronting TFA.  Strauss also references the item by Diane Ravitch above.
 
Corporate “Reform”
ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the organization that brings together conservative and right wing legislators with corporate representatives to influence legislation at the state level had a busy year in 2015 promoting bills to privatize the public school system.  The Center for Media and Democracy’s “PR WATCH” details some of the over 170 measures ALEC formulated to “reform” public education. “ALEC’s education task force has pushed legislation for decades to privatize public schools, weaken teacher’s unions, and lower teaching standards.  ALEC’s agenda would transform public education from a public and accountable institution that serves the public into one that serves private, for-profit interests,”  it notes.  “ALEC model bills divert taxpayer money from public to private schools through a variety of ‘voucher’ and ‘tuition tax credit’ programs. They promote unaccountable charter schools and shift power away from democratically elected local school boards.”  The end of the article contains a detailed list of the bills, by state, pushed by ALEC (California was spared).               Jeff Bryant discusses how the Walmart model is being used to privatize and “reform” (eradicate?) the public school system. His analysis appears on ALTERNET as he delves deeply into the background, philosophy and business model of the Walton Family Foundation (WFF) which recently announced a $1 billion (that’s with a “b”) grant to expand charter schools and other methods of school choice.  “Meanwhile, as WFF contemplates how to best ‘soften the ground’ for increased school choice, and policy makers ponder the growing impact of philanthropists in education,” Bryant writes, “more communities may have to contend with the reality of schools, public or charter, coming and going based on forces not in their control.  Completely lost in the discussion, though, is whether it’s right for the American populace to have its access to education determined by the values and philosophy of a few rich people.”               The corporate “reformers” continually claim that excellent schools, by themselves, can solve all the problems facing education today.  Valerie Strauss’s blog for The Washington Post invites Kevin Wellner, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education and director of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the school, to demonstrate through an infographic and a written explanation why those schools can’t solve all of education’s and society’s problems.  “The basic premise underlying school reform today is that great schools can perform wonders, lifting students out of poverty and closing achievement gaps,” Strauss writes by way of introduction.  “They can’t.  Research and practice prove that schools can’t do it alone in any systemic way, though policymakers continue to pretend that they can.”
 
Income Inequality Impacts High School Dropout Rates
A story in The CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR features a new report from the Brookings Institute that finds a causal relationship between income inequality and increased high school dropout rates “By comparing low-income students who go to school with middle class students with low-income students whose classmates are in the same socioeconomic bracket,” it notes, “the researchers show that the former group – those more exposed to inequality – are considerably more likely to drop out of high school.” This article includes a link to the full report (73 pages) and concludes with some brief recommendations from the research on how to combat the problem.
 
Charter Schools
A recently released study from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project finds that charter schools nationwide have higher student suspension rates than traditional public schools.  This situation falls particularly hard on black and disabled students.  The new data is featured in an article from The New York Times.  “The report is likely to fuel an often fierce debate about disciplinary practices in charter schools,”it suggest, “which are publicly funded but privately run.  Some charter networks have come under fire for ‘no excuses’ behavioral codes, under which students can be suspended for offenses like clothing violations.”  Interestingly, the L.A. Times has a slightly different take on the data.  The reporter raises questions about the timeliness of the information.  “The results reflect data that’s a few years old,” she points out, “and between then and now, much has changed in the ways schools discipline their students. . . .  A lot has changed since the survey was administered, in part because  the topic of school discipline has become a flash point in the debate about racial equity after videos of students being physically or verbally punished in classrooms attracted media attention.”  You can read the full report (36 pages), titled “Charter Schools, Civil Rights and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review,” and decide for yourself who has the more accurate story by clicking here.              Thomas Ultican, on his TULTICAN blog, has had it with charter schools and thinks they should be totally abolished in California.  Ultican is a high school physics and math teacher in the Golden State.  He reviews several other bloggers and commentators who have written about charters and concludes his piece thusly:“The charter school movement (aka privatization of public schools) is dangerous for children and for society.  It is time to pull the plug on profiteers and fools raiding public coffers.”                Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter network in New York City, and her schools have taken some heavy flak of late over high rates of suspending primary students, getting rid of pupils who don’t fit in and a video of a teacher verbally abusing a young student.  So what does she do?  She goes on a public relations offensive by hiring an expensive PR company and appealing to her media allies for more positive coverage.  John Merrow, on his THE MERROW REPORT, explains what’s going on.  “Eva Moskowitz is fighting  hard to maintain her position as the face and voice of the charter school movement here in New York City–and perhaps beyond.  In my private conversations with leaders of other charter networks here,” Merrow writes, “they have told me that they wish this weren’t so, but so far they have not been willing to stand up and be counted.”               When charter schools open they often seek to share space on public school campuses.  This is known as “co-location.”  Valerie Strauss turns her “Answer Sheet” column in The Washington Post over to former New York high school principal Carol Burris who describes how this works in practice.  Burris uses as an example a public middle school in Brooklyn.  “Imagine this.  You get a call telling you that another family will now occupy the second floor of your home.   After you recover from your initial shock, you complain. ‘Outrageous, you say. That is where I have my office, our second bathroom and the guest bedroom for when my mother comes to stay.’  You quickly learn the decision is not yours to make.  This is a top-down order, and you must comply.  As far-fetched as the above might seem,”Burris suggests, “the above is what principals in New York City and other cities around the country face when charter schools demand space.  And although principals may not ‘own’ their schools, the community that surrounds the school surely does.  Yet, no matter how strongly they protest, community voices are nearly always ignored.”               Charter vs traditional public school?  You can compare the two on a number of different issues but here’s one the “Ed News” hasn’t seen before: school violence.  THE Nation took some data put out by Families for Excellent Schools, a pro-charter group, about the level of violence in New York schools and came up with some surprising (at least to charter advocates) conclusions.  The item is titled “Why Has Charter School Violence Spiked At Double the Rate of Public Schools?”  “A Nation analysis of the charter school group’s data, however, suggests the move may backfire,” it points out, “since the numbers also show that charter schools themselves reported a far higher spike in incidents of school violence, 54 percent, more than double that of the public school average between the 2014 and 2015 school years.”
 
60 Minutes Segment on St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey
Sunday’s edition of CBS’s “60 Minutes” featured a segment (13:49 minutes) on St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark which you can view along with a brief article on the “Education and the Media” column on EDUCATION WEEK “The private school run by Benedictine monks serves more than 500 boys, mostly from low-income African-American or Hispanic families,” the article mentions.  “Student group leaders help run the school, and all they have to do is raise a hand to silence an assembly of boisterous teenagers.  And the school has a no-nonsense leader in the Rev. Edwin D. Leahy.  Father Ed, as he is known, is one of the monks of Newark Abbey.”
 
Election 2016
Jeff Bryant, on the Education Opportunity NETWORK,comments on an apparent stumble by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders over his understanding of charter schools.  Bryant points out that Sanders isn’t the only person who seems to be confused about what charters really are.  His piece is titled “Don’t Blame Bernie; Most People Don’t Get Charter Schools” and Bryant reviews a number of other articles that attempt to discern what charters are and what they aren’t.              Diane Ravitch’s blog commented on Sanders’ response and the question that drew it out.              Steven Singer has an item titled “The One Reason Bernie Sanders is the Best Mainstream Candidate for Parents and Teachers” on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG.  Singer likes the fact that Sanders is firmly against the privatization of the public schools and that’s a key factor for him.  “America’s parents and teachers are fighting a battle for our children’s schools.  Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stand against us.  They are giving away the store” Singer complains.  “They are selling our system of public education – once the envy of the world – to for-profit corporations piece-by-piece.  They are stealing our schools out from under us, giving them to unscrupulous charter school operators who are stripping away services for our children so that they can pad their own bottom line.  And only Bernie truly stands against them.”
 

Parent-Trigger Law

Here’s one way for school districts to avoid the parent trigger law.  Decide it doesn’t apply to them.  Parents at 20th Street Elementary School in the LAUSD are trying to take over the campus using the parent trigger legislation and the district is claiming it doesn’t apply.  A story in Thursday’s L.A. Times describes this novel tactic.   “In rejecting the petition concerning 20th Street Elementary School,” it notes, “the district said that California’s 2010 ‘parent trigger law,’ which allows parents to take over low-performing schools if they gather enough signatures, is not valid because it asks for outdated performance measurements.  An attorney for the district, David Holmquist, argued in a letter rejecting the petition that even if the law were valid, the district has a federal waiver that exempts it from using the Academic Performance Index and Academic Yearly Progress as performance measures.”              Aneditorial in Friday’s Times urges the California Board of Education and the legislature to remedy the outdated parent trigger law and bring it up to date concerning the Common Core and the assessment measurements that go along with the standards.  “The dismantling of the API and AYP has had a strange effect on California’s parent trigger law,” the item explains, “a reform that was pioneered in this state in 2010 but that has been faltering here of late.  The law allows parents at low-performing schools to force change, such as a switch to charter status or new campus leadership, if a majority of them sign a petition.  But under the law, the trigger can be invoked only at schools that have fallen short of an 800 API and missed their AYP targets.  With those measurements gone or rendered meaningless, is the trigger dead?”             How are parent trigger-like laws faring in other states?  The author of the “K-12 Parents and the Public” column forEDUCATION WEEK reviews what’s been taking place around the country.  Trivia question:  Do you know how many states, including California, have parent trigger laws?  (A) 42   (B) 6   (C) 29   (D) 17.  The correct answer is . . . . “B.”  It used to be 7 states but Connecticut recently backed away from its legislation.  California, BTW, was the first state to have a parent trigger law.  It was passed in 2010.  “Josh Cunningham, a senior education policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures,” the author notes, “checked on whether state legislatures are advancing new parent trigger laws this year for me.  He found out that lawmakers in four states—Iowa, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania—have introduced bills to create parent-trigger laws.  But no action has been taken.”
 
“Why Finland Has the Best Schools”                                                  
That’s the title of an op-ed piece in Friday’s L.A. Times by a 2015-16 Fulbright scholar and lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland who enrolled his 7-year-old in a primary school in the Nordic nation for 5 months.  He offers a number of reasons why Finland has earned that accolade.  Among them are this one: “Finland doesn’t waste time or money on low-quality mass standardized testing.  Instead, children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality ‘personalized learning device’ ever created — flesh-and-blood teachers.”              The above op-ed about Finland’s schools elicited 3 letters that appear in today’s L.A. Times.  The first one is from a teacher and school board member in the Garvey School District.  “Finland decided to professionalize education — to view all educators not as employees,”  he writes, “but as professional educators.  Sadly, most Americans still believe that it is the teacher’s ‘job’ to teach.”
 
John King Confirmed as Sec. of DoE
While the “Ed News” was on hiatus John B. King was confirmed March 14, by the U.S. Senate on a vote of 49-40 to the job of Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Education.  Sunday’s L.A. Times has a “Back Story” feature on King that reviews his background and discusses some of the challenges he will face in the remaining 10 months of his tenure.  “Even though King is going to be schools chief only until Obama leaves office in January, he has a long road ahead, and a full plate. The Department of Education must regulate the Every Student Succeeds Act, the bipartisan replacement for the No Child Left Behind Act, the country’s sweeping education law.”  You can read about King’s confirmation in a piece from The Washington Post by clicking here.  In case you’re interested, 7 Republicans voted in favor of King and one Democrat, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York voted “no.”  Both California senators voted “yea.”             The Badass Teachers Association (BATs) immediately issued a press release condemning the confirmation of John King to be the next Sec.of Education.  They describe it as “A Blow to Public Education in America.”  “John King consistently showed a lack of interest in listening to parents and educators in New York State,” the announcement concludes.  “We anticipate that not much will change as he takes control of the USDOE. What we know for sure is that the policies he initiated in New York State will become national education policy, and this will be detrimental to our children and our public education system.”
Academic Decathlon
Granada Hills Charter High (LAUSD) won the state Academic Decathlon competition held in Sacramento.  The results of the 3-day competition were announced Sunday and are featured in a story in yesterday’s L.A. Times.  The winning team also happens to be the defending national champions and 5 of the top 10 schools in the statewide event were from the LAUSD.  9-member teams represented 68 schools in the 10-event competition.  The theme this year was “India.”  Granada Hills will represent California in the national championship next month in Anchorage, Alaska.
 
March Madness Academic Style
All college basketball fans know it’s “March Madness” time when the college hoop playoffs ultimately determine the national champion.  However, what if that tournament was not based on lay-ups, rebounds, steals and 3-point shots?  What if is was purely determined by things like player graduation success rates and  academic progress rates?  Believe it or not, the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports released its annual report of all 68 schools selected to compete this year and the author of the article about it in EDUCATION WEEK completed a tournament bracket based solely on those academic measures.  Guess which school emerged as champion based on that?  You’ll have to read the article to find out and see how the metrics were established and the methodology of the data.  Interesting stuff whether you’re a basketball fan or not.
 
Competition for Private Kindergarten
Many people are aware of the pressure and stress felt by parents and  students to get into a top college or university.  It can also be pretty nerve-wracking trying to gain entrance to a highly regarded magnet school or top charter.  But what about getting your toddler into an exclusive private kindergarten?  The “Education Watch” column in yesterday’s L.A. Times has a print edition story titled “A Different Type of  (Rug-) Rat Race” that details the elaborate steps families go through to get their child into a top private kindergarten. Be sure to check out the graph that illustrates how much it costs to attend a private kindergarten in Los Angeles.  “For some of the most exclusive schools,” the article points out, “the admissions process is demanding, requiring essays, open houses, parent interviews, child assessments and in some cases even IQ tests.  And most schools send their acceptance letters on the same Friday afternoon in March, a day that mothers have long dubbed ‘Black Friday.'”  The author concludes with some strategies that are NOT recommended for getting your child accepted.
 
New York Board of Regents Has a New Leader
The New York State Board of Regents has a new leader and Diane Ravitch’s blog is singing her praises in a brief announcement about the selection.  “This is a huge setback for corporate reform in New York,” she proclaims.  “A great victory for NY’s students!!”               Chalkbeat NEW YORK has an early profile of Betty Rosa, the new head of the New York Board of Regents, who says that if she were a parent she’d “opt out” her children from standardized testing.  “Rosa’s statements underscore the striking nature of Monday’s leadership shift,” it suggests.  “Former Chancellor Merryl Tisch was a staunch defender of the exams, which grew more difficult to pass under her leadership as they incorporated the Common Core standards. Last year, frustrations about testing led to one in five eligible students not taking the tests statewide.”                Retired New York principal Carol Burris is often a guest columnist on Valerie Strauss’ column in The Washington Post.  This time Burris writes about the positive direction New York seems to be headed with the selection of Betty Rosa as leader of the state’s Board of Regents.  “I have known and admired Betty Rosa since 2011,” Burris concludes.  “I worked with her on the Schools of Opportunity program last year.  She holds high standards for schools and those who work in them, but also brings a deep understanding of the challenges that schools and students face.  She understands that our public schools are the pillar of our democracy.  She knows there are no ‘silver bullets’ for school improvement.  Over time her leadership will bring meaningful change and real solutions for the students of New York State.”
 
Teacher Prep
The U.S. Dept. of Education last week released some recent data regarding enrollment in teacher prep programs that is featured in an article in EDUCATION WEEK.    The bottom line?  Those numbers continue to decline but not as steeply as before.  The graphic that accompanies the piece puts the situation in clear terms.  California’s “Report Card” can be accessed by clicking here.
 
The Teaching Profession
And finally, we will leave you with this story from the “Teaching Now” column at EDUCATION WEEK about a hero teacher who decides to donate a kidney to her very little first grade student who was born with chronic kidney disease.  [Ed. note: Be sure to have a couple of boxes of tissue handy.  It’s a real tearjerker.  You’ll go through one box just reading the story.  Viewing the video (3:12 minutes) will require another box or two.]
 
                                                                                                          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)
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.

                 

 

Ed News, Tuesday, March 8, 2016 Edition

The ED NEWS

             A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

           
[The “Ed News” is going to take a 2-week break.  Look for the next edition on Tuesday, March 22.]
 
Daylight Saving Time Begins Officially at 2 am Sunday.  Turn your clocks ahead one hour.
Inline image 1
 
                “The more Adams thought about the future of his country, the more convinced he became that it rested on education. Before any great things are accomplished, he wrote to a correspondent, a memorable change must be made in the system of education and knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher. 
The education of a nation instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, 
must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many.” 

― David McCulloughJohn Adams

 
Charter Schools 

What is it about unionization that drives charter schools batty?  An article in THE Nation explores the issue through the lens of L.A.’s largest charter network and it’s battle to prevent teachers from unionizing.  The author of the piece describes some of the nasty and underhanded tactics adopted by Alliance College-Ready Public Schools to fight unionization on its campuses.  “As of now, it is unclear where the union drive is headed,” it relates.  “Since starting from 70 teachers publicly on board last March, the union claimed its support was up to 140 teachers as of last summer.  Alliance, on the other hand, claims that despite a yearlong campaign, “the majority of Alliance teachers have shown no interest in allowing UTLA leadership to speak on their behalf,’ according to a statement from spokesperson Catherine Suitor.  It remains to be seen whether the pro-union teachers can convince their colleagues that a union is the best way to be heard.”               The California chapter of the Badass Teachers Association (BATs) is circulating a petition requesting the State of California investigate the Magnolia Charter Chain in the Golden State which is affiliated with the Gulen Schools.  They have a post on their Facebook page which you can read by clicking here.  It includes links to a list of the schools in question, the petition, if you’d like to sign it and a review of the formal complaint that has been filed against the network.               Jeff Bryant, writing on the Education Opportunity NETWORK, discusses a new poll that finds public attitudes towards charters is starting to wear “thin.”  “A new survey of voters across the country reveals growing concerns about charter schools.  The poll, conducted by an objective third party firm for Washington, DC advocacy groups In the Public Interest and the Center for Popular Democracy,”  he reports, “found the public has generally very positive views of their existing local public schools and generally opposes expansion of charters.  Huge majorities in the poll expressed strong support for a wide range of charter schools reforms that the industry often opposes.”  Bryant includes a link to the full poll (6 pages) conducted by GBA strategies.  Here is one of the “Key Findings” from the survey of 1,000 registered voters nationwide: “Voters offer public schools and public school teachers very high ratings. Sixty-four percent of voters rate the quality of education at public schools in their neighborhood excellent or good, while just 29 percent rate them fair or poor.  Voters are more likely to say public schools in their neighborhood are getting better (30 percent) than getting worse (17 percent), while a 43 percent plurality are not seeing much change either way.  By 8:1, voters are more likely to have favorable than unfavorable views of public school teachers (72 percent favorable – 9 percent unfavorable).”

 
Teacher Evaluations

Remember the hew and cry from the corporate “reformers” about the dire need to alter teacher evaluations and include student test scores?  People were promised that this would help get rid of all those “bad” teachers.  What’s become of all that?  A story in The Washington Post titled “Very Few Teachers Receive Poor Job Ratings, And New Evaluations Haven’t Changed That” features a new study by two researchers from Brown University and Vanderbilt that examines the issue.  They looked at 19 states that changed their teacher evaluations (California is not among them) to include test scores or other measures of student achievement. 
 
California’s Teacher Shortage
Thanks to ALOED member Ron Oswald for sending this article from EdSource about the California teacher shortage.  It’s the first in a series of pieces on the subject and this one deals with some proposals for what the state can do to alleviate the problem.  One of the co-authors is Linda Darling-Hammond.  Ron points out that one suggestion for attracting new teachers, increase salaries, is not among the ideas for ending the shortage.  Interesting.  “California has solved this problem before and can do so again,” the authors suggest, “by restoring programs that worked, investing in teacher recruitment and training, and signaling the value with which the state views its teachers.  These investments can offer long-term payoffs by increasing retention, saving the dollars wasted on high turnover, and improving outcomes for all of California’s students.”
 
Vouchers

Ever wonder how a school that accepts vouchers works?  Lindsay Wagner, on the NC POLICY WATCH websitetakes you inside a small private school in rural North Carolina so you can get a sense of how taxpayer money is being spent.  “Star Christian has received more than $75,000 in state funds since 2014 through the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarships program, created by the legislature in 2013,” she explains.  “It provides low-income families with vouchers worth $4,200 per year that can be applied to tuition at private schools. There is nothing to prevent schools such as Star Christian from continuing to receive the state money.  The law establishing the program contains no meaningful standards for accountability or transparency in terms of how public funds are spent.  It sets no minimum qualifications for teachers (except that they must have a high school diploma), no requirements regarding the curriculum, and no means of assessing student performance.”  That doesn’t sound very encouraging, but keep reading, it gets worse.              Diane Ravitch’s blog highlights a piece by Christopher Lubienski who is a professor at the College of Education at the University of Illinois.  He reviews some of thelatest research on vouchers and finds them to be, in some cases, academically harmful to students.  Vouchers were once considered a panacea for the corporate “reform” crowd but their efficacy is more and more being called into question.  “Now, a slew of new studies and reviews — including some conducted by the same voucher advocates that had previously found vouchers ‘do no harm’ — is telling quite a different story,” Lubienski points out.  “New reviews of existing voucher studies are pointing out that, overall, the impact on the test scores for students using vouchers are sporadic, inconsistent, and generally have ‘an effect on achievement that is statistically indistinguishable from zero.” But some new studies on vouchers in Louisiana raise substantial concerns, finding that students using vouchers were significantly injured by using vouchers to attend private schools.”

Teaching Grit?
Jan Resseger, a social justice activist from Ohio, on herjanresseger blog, addresses the issue of character education or teaching “grit,” which was the topic of the book “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough (a previous ALOED Book Club selection).  She actually references the book in her piece headlined “Teaching ‘Grit,” Blaming the Poor, and Undermining the Public Will to Address Poverty.”  Resseger also cites an article in The New York Times which reports on several school districts in California that are attempting to teach character education and test for its success.  Ironically, one of the foremost proponents of teaching grit, Angela Duckworth, is strongly opposed to trying to test for the learning of those character skills.  You can read that Times story by clicking here.               Valerie Strauss turns her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post over to two professors of education from the University of Pennsylvania who also object to trying to test for the acquisition of traits like grit.  “The intrusion of non-cognitive teaching and testing into schools is not a prospect we welcome,”they write. ” Our opposition is based on two claims: teaching and testing this loose amalgam of traits is impossible to do well and would be undesirable even if feasible.  It cannot realistically be done.”
 
Testing

The “Ed News” has pointed out a number of ways standardized tests are and have been misused.  Here is the anatomy of another bad idea.  Currently, New Jersey is the ONLY state that requires passage of their Common Core aligned standardized test, the PARCC, as a graduation requirement.  Why is this such a bad idea?  The president of a school board in the state pens an op-ed on theNJSPOTLIGHT website laying out her case.  “New Jersey is the only state in the nation that mandates passing PARCC as a requirement for a high school diploma; as a result,” she worries, “a significant number of our qualified students are now at risk of not meeting graduation requirements.”
  
Teacher Pension Investments Questioned
The California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) is tasked with paying out teacher pensions and investing, wisely, the money deducted from educators’ monthly paychecks for future pension payouts.  Anthony Cody, on his LIVING in DIALOGUEblog, wonders why CalSTRS chooses to invest in enterprises likeonline charter schools and private prison corporations.  Why has is chosen to invest in businesses that seem to work against teachers’ best interests, he asks?  One reason, online charters and private prison groups provide high returns on investment.
 
Confirmation of John King as U.S. DoE Secretary
 A large group of  students, parents and education activists has signed on to a letter urging the Senate education committee not to confirm John King to become secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.  Valerie Strauss, on her blog for The Washington Post, comments on the action and includes a copy of the letter and the list of prominent signatories.  “The Senate education committee held confirmation hearings last week,” Strauss writes in introducing the letter, “and his confirmation by the panel and the full Senate is expected this month.  But a growing number of King critics are speaking out, including a few school boards in New York, which passed resolutions against his confirmation.  Now a letter signed by a long list of individuals and organizations warns senators not to be ‘misled’ by King’s ‘vague promises to do better.’”
 
Election 2016
Most of the Republican candidates for president have, at one time or another, promised to “do away with Common Core” when they become president.  Why is this an empty promise at best?  Valerie Strauss explains in her column in The Washington Post why presidents can’t unilaterally end the standards.  “If students in any state are being taught the Common Core State Standards, it is because their state legislatures approved it — and at one point, nearly all states had done so,” she points out.  “. . . Some states  have repealed the Core, but in many of those cases, similar standards were chosen to replace them.  No president can force the states to end Common Core.”               EDUCATION WEEK takes a look at some education policies of a possible Pres. Trump administration.  ” When education policy mavens and advocates contemplate a Donald Trump administration and its impact on K-12, what do they see?  In many cases,” it maintains, “they’re confused or uncertain about what a Trump-led U.S. Department of Education would do, or not do, if it even survives.  But in some cases they have clear concerns, or other thoughts about how he might significantly alter what’s been happening with federal education policy.”              Another piece in the same publication reports on some (rare) discussion of education issues at the Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, on Sunday night.  It seems like candidates from both major parties are shying away from topics like Common Core, testing, the new ESSA, unions, teacher shortages, etc.  A few of those subjects were broached by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders during the course of the evening.  “The Detroit debate may have been the number one K-12 bonanza of the Democratic race so far,” it concludes.  “And there were plenty of smaller edu-moments, including discussion of gun control, and the impact of the water crisis in Flint on student learning.”              Anthony Cody, on his LIVING in DIALOGUE blog, provides acomplete transcript (courtesy of The New York Times) of the give-and-take between Clinton and Sanders at Sunday’s debate. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, happens to hold a second job as a lobbyist who supports standardized testing, Common Core and charter schools.  Clinton’s chief educator advisor, Ann O’Leary, also has a strong corporate “reform” background.  Steven Singer, on hisGADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, is troubled by this and he includes a number of quotes from both Podesta and O’Leary that support their positions.  “If Hillary Clinton really wants to forge a new path for U. S. schools, it’s surprising she’s surrounding herself with the same people responsible for the status quo.  Funded by wealthy privatizers, advised by standardization true believers,”Singer worries, “it is difficult to accept a second Clinton Administration would be anything more than a seamless continuation of the Testocracy.”
 
The New SAT
The newly revised SAT made its debut for test-takers on Saturday.  How has it changed?  Let me count the ways.  Saturday’s L.A. Times has a “pop quiz,” in the form of 15 multiple-choice questions to get you up to speed and see what you know about the new exam.  “The new version marks the first major change to the SAT since a grammar and essay section was added in 2005. It comes amid widespread opposition to standardized testing, but the College Board says that more tests mean more opportunity for poor and minority kids whose potential might otherwise go unrecognized.”  Take the “test” that is part of this article and see how you did.  The answers are provided.               On the same topic, who truly benefitsfrom the newly revised SAT asks Karin Klein, who writes about education issues for the Times editorial board.  Is it the students?  Admission officers?  Her answer may surprise you–The College Board, which owns the SAT, and the test-prep industry.  “The revamp,” she suggests, “might do more for the College Board’s bottom line than for the needs of colleges, universities and students.”  She proceeds to explain her position.               One letterappeared in today’s Times in reaction to Karin Klein’s op-ed about the SAT (see above).               Does the name David Cameron ring a bell?  [Ed. note: That’s not James Cameron–he’s the filmmaker, director, producer, etc.]  David Cameron is the president of the College Board.  The Washington Post offers a profile of the man who is the main figure behind the Common Core and the SAT.  “Coleman, 46, came to the College Board in 2012 after helping to lead the development of the Common Core State Standards,” the story explains.  “Those standards, for what students should learn in math and English language arts from kindergarten through high school, have been widely adopted but are deeply controversial.”
Tackling Corporate “Reform” Head On
How should you respond to someone from the general public who has questions or comments about the corporate “reform” movement?  Diane Ravitch, on her Diane Ravitch’s blog, worked together with a reader to come up with some “appropriate” responses to those queries from those not in the field and who are not staying up-to-date on the latest issues.  “I received an email from a daily reader of the blog,” Ravitch writes, “who asked me how she could explain the downside of corporate reform to friends at a dinner party in the suburbs who know nothing at all about the issues.  She said that her friends were liberal Democrats, but their own children are grown, and they don’t read the blogs. What could she say that was direct, accurate, and informative?  We exchanged emails and began creating a list of snappy explanatory comments.”  Ravitch and the reader provides some early ideas and solicit additional suggestions from followers of the blog.
 
Anti-Sexting Bill Introduced
A bill (AB 2536) that would allow school districts to expel or suspend students for sexting was introduced in the California legislature last month.  A story in Sunday’s L.A. Times provides the details.  “This bill is more specific than existing cyberbullying, revenge porn and child pornography laws already on the books in California,” it explains.  “It gives school districts a way to discipline students who have directed their sexting at classmates or teachers but whose actions don’t reach a legal threshold for criminality.”
 
Two Book Reviews
Diane Ravitch reviews 2 books in the current (March 24) issue ofThe New York Review of Books.  The first is “The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?” by Dale Russakoff about how Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to the Newark schools went mostly to waste and the second is “Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students  and Teachers  Who Made it Triumph” by Kristina Rizga.  It’s about a school in San Francisco that was labeled a “failure” and how the staff and the community were able to turn it around.  It is, by the way, being considered as a selection for the ALOED Book Club next year.  [Ed. note:  I was in San Francisco this month and my wife and I drove by the campus to see what it was like and to snap some pictures of the outside to be shared when we discuss the book.  I also purchased a copy of the book at a local bay area bookstore.]  “Mission is a good example of bottom-up reform, where teachers work together and lead the changes that benefit the students,” Ravitch notes.  “The principal of Mission, Eric Guthertz, has twenty-eight years of experience in urban schools.  He encourages his teachers not to ‘teach to the test,’ but to use a rich curriculum, hands-on projects, field trips, art and music classes, elective courses, and student clubs.  In view of the diversity of the students, Guthertz believes in the value of such clubs as well as after-school programs, and extracurricular activities that teach important skills, like getting along with students from different cultures.”
 
“We’re #7, We’re #7”
And finally, it’s not exactly something to brag about.  The U.S. ranked number 7 among over 60 nations that were rated on how literate they are.  Number 1? Finland.  Number 2? Norway.  The study was conducted by the president of Central State Connecticut University and is featured in Valerie Strauss’ blog in The Washington Post.  “The rankings look at variables related to tested literacy achievement — scores on the PIRLS, or Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, and on the PISA, Programme for International Student Assessment — as well as to literate behavior characteristics,” she points out.  “Those include 15 variables grouped in five categories: Libraries, Newspapers, Education System – Inputs, Education System – Outputs, and Computer Availability, as well as population, which is used for establishing per capita ratios.”
 
                                                                                                               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)
Member of ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.

                 

Ed News, Tuesday, March 1, 2016 Edition

The ED NEWS

             A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

            
 
[The “Ed News” is going to take a very brief break. 
Look for the next edition on Tuesday, March 8]
 
                 “Here is a truth that most teachers will not tell you, even if they know it: 
             Good training is a continual friend and a solace; it helps you now, 
                 and assures you of help in the future. Good education is a continual pain in the neck, 
               and assures you always of more of the same.” 

― Richard MitchellThe Gift of Fire

 
Climate Change and the Classroom

How is the teaching of climate change being handled in the nation’s middle- and high-school classrooms?  The answer, according to a story in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, is with much “confusion.”  “Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that climate change is driven by human action,” it begins, “but middle- and high-school teachers seem to have missed that message. The majority of teachers are not aware of this consensus and teach climate change as an ongoing debate in the scientific community.”

 
Charter Schools

The charter school movement has been growing by leaps and bounds.  However, its attempt to expand within the LAUSD has hit some roadblocks as of late according to a item from ALTERNET.  The piece reviews the explosive growth of charters around the U.S. and, in particular, in Los Angeles and details efforts to derail that plan, led by UTLA and the local school board.  “It is important to note that all charter schools are not the same; charter chains come in different sizes with contrasting objectives,” the piece points out.  “In many cities, there are charter schools idealistically developed by parents, teachers and local communities who seek to improve the environment for their children and bring values of openness and cooperation to the task. . . . But overall and increasingly, the charter movement has been co-opted and dominated by corporate-run chains and franchises mixing for-profit and nonprofit operations.”                 THE HECHINGER REPORT (the same story appears in the “Education Matters” column in today’s L.A. Times) features a extended profile singing the praises of a network of 10 charter schools, Summit Public Schools, in the Bay area with 8 campuses plus 2 in Washington State, that utilize a “blended learning” approach but with a much more human face.  “What’s happening inside the ‘new’ Summit schools is still human-centered work, but supported by a silent high-tech filing cabinet,” the article explains.  “The computer system, dubbed the ‘Personalized Learning Plan,’ is more than a database, though.  It stores projects, curriculums, mentoring materials and academic assessments.  Teachers can quickly pull materials from a curated list, to create lessons that are the right fit, neither too easy nor too hard.  They can also search for advice from colleagues about which lessons have worked well for a particular concept or project.  Students can also use the system, but they don’t sit around clicking through computer screens all day long.  They have traditional classrooms with teachers,” it continues, “as well as real-world projects.  Outside of class, and at designated times during the school day, they can log into the computer network and work as fast or as slowly as they want through various lessons.  As they progress, a line on the screen chugs forward like a pace car through a list of the lessons, showing students (and their parents and teachers) if they are ahead of or behind where they need to be to complete the course on time.”
 
Community Schools
EDUCATION WEEK’s annual “Leaders to Learn From” profiles two administrators in the Vancouver, Washington school district who have transformed the academic growth of their students by incorporating a “community schools” model.  “The district set out in 2008 to incorporate a bold vision into its strategic plan: Vancouver would create an ‘opportunity zone’ where schools would focus on addressing the impact of poverty that can affect students’ classroom performance. . . . In several phases,” the item reports, “schools in the opportunity zone each set aside space for a family- and community-resource center staffed by a coordinator to help meet the needs of students and their families.  Each resource center developed its own menu of services that are tailored to the specific needs of the school community, offering such help as food pantries, free clothing, referrals to mental-health services, family-literacy classes, GED prep programs for parents, and on-site dental care through mobile dental vans.”  The article proceeds to feature how things are working at one district campus, Hudson Bay High School.  Because of the innovations taking place in Vancouver, the district has seen increases in graduation rates, parent involvement and student enrollment in AP classes.
 
Corporate “Reformers” Target Steve Zimmer
The next LAUSD school board elections are more than a year away but the corporate “reformers” and privatizers are already targeting board president Steve Zimmer’s seat in what could turn out to be a battle royal for control of the nation’s second largest school district. Nick Melvoin has already announced his challenge to Zimmer’s seat.  The LA progressive website describes a fight that could turn out to be more interesting than the current race for president and could last even longer. “Zimmer’s District 4 race will be the most publicized race in the nation,” the piece predicts.  “Here we have the Reform candidate announcing his candidacy over a year before the election as if he were running for U.S. President.  We all know how great the nationwide stakes are in these ‘piddly’ school board battles and this race is the humdinger.  Here is where I have to groan in misery. We are now looking at a year of tsunami fundraising the likes America has never seen for a school board race.  Most of the money on Melvoin’s behalf will come through the dark money contributions,” it continues, “that have fueled all Reform races nationwide and Los Angeles in particular.  The Who’s Who of contributors is well known to all of us who know these billionaires as pop stars.  Every charter group, hedge fund and corporate entity will pour massive resources into this race for Melvoin.”
 
Election 2016
Friday’s edition of the “Ed News” highlighted Hillary Clinton’s response to an audience member’s question at a town hall in South Carolina last week about extending the school day and year.  It appears to have been a leading question.  Karen Wolfe, local L.A. activist and author of the PS connect blog, did some investigating and discovered the questioner was actually the principal of an online virtual charter school and he was pushing a particular agenda which Wolfe gladly exposes.  “Given the limited attention K-12 schools have received in any of the presidential campaigns, education voters were glad for an opportunity to evaluate a candidate’s position.  Public education advocates recognize this particular question as a talking point of Democrats for Education Reform [DFER], ‘Third Way’ dems who seek to turn public education into a business,” Wolfe relates.  “They’re supported by disruptive innovators poised to receive massive amounts of public money to provide the services.  It wasn’t surprising that this question would come from a charter administrator.”              Steven Singer bumped into Jill Stein, the little-known Green Party candidate for president, before she addressed the United Opt Out Conference in Philadelphia over the weekend and on hisGADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG gushes “Dr. Jill Stein is the Best 2016 Presidential Candidate, But Can She Win?”  He especially likes her specificity on education issues, unlike most of the other candidates on the Democratic and Republican sides, and Singer thinks her overall platform is vastly superior to any other person running.
 
The Teaching Profession
A new book titled “The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School” tells the all too familiar tale of an idealistic teacher who believes he can change the word only to be chewed up and spit out by a lack of proper training and placement in a difficult teaching situation.  An item in The New York Times discusses the book and interviews its author who recounts his trials teaching 9th grade history.  “Mr. Boland [the book’s author] said he hoped people would not conclude from his book that the students were to blame for their chaotic classrooms, or that poor kids could not be taught,” the article explains.  “He wrote the book, he said, to dispel the myth of the hero teacher, and the idea that just caring was enough.  In the book’s final section, he blames poverty for the school dysfunction, nodding only briefly to the teachers and the methods that succeed with impoverished students, even where others fail.”
 
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Alan Singer, writing on the HUFFPOST EDUCATION blog,didn’t have much positive to say about “The Battle for Room 314” (see above), titling his critique “Nobody Told Him How to Take A Cellphone Away From a Kid.”  “My fear,” he writes, “is that this will book will be used as another weapon in assaults on public schools and teacher certification programs.”   Singer proceeds to list “10 Teaching Tips”  he would have proffered to Boland to help him get through that very difficult first year of teaching.             Another blogger was equally unimpressed with Boland’s book.  John Warner, on the INSIDE HIGHER ED website, talks about certain“education tourists” who drop by for a visit and claim to be “experts” on education reform.  He includes David Coleman, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and author Ed Boland in that classification and he explains why.  “People like Ed Boland and these other reformers are not saviors,” Warner complains.  “They are education tourists.  Boland has used his year as an education tourist to launch a book that’s been reviewed everywhere, and is now a sought after public speaker, a supposed expert on education and our educational system.  This is like a student pilot who crashes on his inaugural flight being asked by the FAA about aeronautical safety.  More and more I’m starting to think we need someone who can save us from the saviors.”
Paul Thomas, on his the becoming radical blog skewers The New York Times piece about Ed Boland’s book (he even references Alan Singer’s and John Warner’s pieces cited above). Thomas has never been very impressed with how the non-education media tends to cover education issues and this one is no exception.  “So Ed Boland wrote a really bad edu-book that all the mainstream media adores because, well, you know,”  Thomas begins, “nobody gives a crap what a teacher thinks, but let ANYbody dip a toe in education who isn’t an educator and then everyone is all gaga.”              Ed Boland, book author and focus of The New York Times’s article, responds to some of the criticisms he and the paper have received on Diane Ravitch’s blog.  “I’m trying to call attention to the fact that we are expecting teachers in high poverty schools to do too much,” he notes.  “We must end the myth of the hero teacher.”  Ravitch was somewhat sympathetic to his point-of-view.               With many states currently experiencing teacher shortages (including California) the issue of supporting and retaining new educatorscomes to the fore.  THE HECHINGER REPORT features a study released today from the nonprofit New Teacher Center out of Santa Cruz, California, and includes a conversation with Liam Goldrick, policy director of the NTC, who talks about what his group’s new teacher support looks like.  “Since 2012, the number of states that require schools to provide support for new teachers has increased slightly, from 27 to 29,”  the story points out by way of introduction.  “Only 15 of those states require that teachers be supported during their first and second years, and only nine states require support for new teachers beyond the first two years.  Twelve states mandate a minimum amount of contact time between a mentor and a new teacher, whether it’s per week, semester or year.  Yet only 16 states have dedicated funding for this teacher support, and that number is shrinking.”  This item includes links to different parts of the full report.  For a look at the “Policy Report” for how California retains and supports its new teachers (4 pages) please click here.

Vergara Appeal

Arguments were heard in the appeal of Vergara vs. California on Thursday.  Friday’s edition of the “Ed News” carried a story from theL.A. Times that reviewed the oral arguments in the case.  That story prompted two letters that appeared in Saturday’s paper.  Both were upset that plaintiffs in the case want to blame teachers for all that ails education today.  “Of course, some teachers are better skilled than others,” the first one remarks, “but teachers are only one part of the equation.  Stop blaming them and start focusing on the root cause of our dire education situation: social and economic conditions.”
 
United Opt Out Conference Highlights
The United Opt Out (UOO) conference was held in Philadelphia over the weekend.  [Ed. note: ALOED member Larry Lawrence attended the gathering.]  Steven Singer, on hisGADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, offers some convention highlights.  On Friday Dr. Stephen Krashen delivered the keynote address directing his comments to the role of technology, both positive and negative, in education.  Krashen was especially wary of the latest panacea, competency based education (CBE).  “CBE is touted as a way to reduce high stakes standardized testing,” Singer summarizes Krashen, “by allowing students to work at their own pace while on various computer programs.  However, Krashen sees this is an increase in testing.  In effect, it’s testing everyday.  The computer programs used in CBE are little more than the same kinds of questions you’d see on a standardized test.  An emphasis on CBE would replace a robust school curriculum with never-ending test preparation and multiple-choice assessment.”              Singer continues his “musings” about the UOO conference.  Saturday’s keynote speech was delivered by Chris Hedges who talked about what it will take to bring effective, positive change to our public schools: “Rebellion, [Hedges] said, is not about changing the world.  It’s about changing yourself.  When you stand up for what is right, you become a better person – whether you achieve your goal or not.  In a sense, it doesn’t matter if we destroy the testocracy.  But in trying, we transmute ourselves into something better.”  Some of the other speakers that day addressed the same issue.
 
Confirmation of John King to Head U.S. Dept. of Education
Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, was rather astounded at the ease with which John King was treated before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during his confirmation hearing last week.  This is in particular contrast to how Republicans have reacted to Pres. Obama’s attempt to appoint a justice to fill the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court created by the death of Antonin Scalia.  “Some New Yorkers are upset with the elevation of King at the U.S. Education Department,” she reminds readers, “and a few school boards have gone to the trouble of passing resolutions urging that King not be approved — which nevertheless is expected both by the Senate panel and the full Senate.”  King was treated with kid gloves by both Democrats and Republicans and asked mostly softball questions of which a few he didn’t or couldn’t answer.
 
SAT and ACT Test Security
And finally, Valerie Strauss, on her column in The Washington Post, reports on an interesting development regarding the SAT and ACT.  It’s widely known that companies and organizations that provide test prep for these exams like to take them so they can coach students to do better.  The College Board, which owns the SAT, has moved to prohibit this practice and the organization that owns the ACT has followed suit.  “The College Board, which owns the SAT,” Strauss writes, “says that it has instituted a new security measure that is meant to keep anybody from taking the college entrance exam for any purpose other than applying to a college, a financial aid program or any other program that requires a college entrance score.”
                                                                                                               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)
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.