Ed News, Friday, July 14, 2017 Edition

The ED NEWS

 A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

“A teacher can kindle your mind and let you memorize information, 
but true education is often self-education.” 

LAUSD Board Pay Raises

Last Friday’s “Ed News” highlighted a story in the L.A. Times that day about an up to 174% pay increase for members of the LAUSD board of education.  An editorial in Wednesday’s paper urges readers not to be too angered by the increase because it believes the board deserves the raise “A very big pay raise is long overdue; in fact, this page said as much four years ago.  L.A. schools aren’t what they were a couple of decades ago,” the piece suggests.  “The board isn’t just responsible for the six or seven hours of daily lessons the district’s schools provide to more than 600,000 children and teenagers — a big job on its own.  It also oversees after-school care, parent centers and some basic healthcare.  It’s a major feeder of kids too, supplying more than half of the weekday’s nourishment for many of its students through the lunch program and the largest breakfast program in the nation.”  Question: I wonder how vociferous the editorial board of the Times will be in advocating for a substantial raise for LAUSD teachers?  I’m not holding my breath!               2 letters appear in yesterday’s Times in reaction to the paper’s story on Friday about the 174% salary increase for LAUSD board members (see above).  The first, like me, wonders if teachers, who also put in long hours doing critical work will get a similar substantial increase.  “While I appreciate the importance of providing a raise to Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education members because they have not seen an increase in years, what I do take umbrage with is not only the incredible jump in some of the salaries, but also some of the reasoning that I’ve heard involving the long hours these board members work, including nights and weekends.  Having been a full-time teacher,” the author pens, “I know that any passionate, responsible teacher’s day is often 10 hours long or more, and every weekend involves some sort of preparation and grading as well.  However, I also know I was never compensated with the wages one would expect for working these long hours.”  Hear! Hear!                2 additional letters appear in today’s Times regarding the sizable pay increase for LAUSD board members (see both items above).  The first one, from the wife of a former district board member, believes the increase is justified.  The second, from a retired teacher, is appalled at the amount:  “So, board members put in hard work day in and day out and therefore deserve an obscene salary increase of 174%.  They should try teaching.”
 
Self-Driving School Vehicles?
The era of self-driving vehicles may be fast approaching.  How might this major innovation in transportation effect education?  Can you envision a self-driving “bus” bringing students to and from their school?  Tom Vander Ark, on his “Vander Ark on Innovation” column for EDUCATION WEEK takes a peek into the not too distant future to predict what’s in store for student transportation.  “Considering the trends in autonomous vehicles, we can begin to imagine the rather dramatic ways that will impact education.  Here’s a plausible scenario of how urban pupil transportation will work in forward leaning districts in 2025.  The yellow buses have been sold off,” he envisions.  “The district contracts with the regional transportation districts for self-driving buses and vans (6-12 passenger) and with transport companies for pool cars (think Uber Pool with a background check hauling 3-6 passengers). . . .  For dedicated pupil transport, the vans and buses will have a monitor (usually a high school student or parent) riding along, trained to keep the peace and deal with emergency situations–student, transport or otherwise.  (You can remind the troublemakers that with facial recognition you can run, but you can’t hide).” Vander Ark refers to this as “swarm transport” and predicts how it will change schools of the future.
 
Betsy DeVos
3 letters appear in Wednesday’s L.A. Times in reaction to an editorial in Monday’s paper that upbraided Betsy DeVos for favoring for-profit colleges over students who were being exploited by predatory lending practices and other actions.  All 3 were very critical of the Secretary of Education over her decision to delay protections instituted by the Obama administration that were aimed at providing relief to students who were taken advantage of.  “Not only is DeVos not qualified on any level to propose educational policy,” the first one charges, “but by suspending Obama administration rules intended to provide relief to debt-laden students who were essentially defrauded by for-profit colleges, she also has proved herself prejudicial against students and honest institutions of higher learning everywhere.”               Is Betsy DeVos leaning toward instituting Dept. of Education regulations that offer more protections to the perpetrators of K-12 and college sexual assault over the victims?  It’s a tough call and highly speculative but a series of recent “listening sessions” she held offers some clues.  Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post is worried about where the Sec. of Education is headed on this critical issue.  “DeVos is considering rolling back guidance issued in 2011 which detailed how K-12 schools and colleges must handle sexual assault allegations,” Strauss explains.  “That guidance was, the Obama Education Department said, a clarification of the obligations that schools already had under federal law, known as Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination at schools that receive federal funds.  Sexual assault survivors hailed the administration for providing them with long-overdue protections, while critics accused the Obama administration of federal micromanaging and pushing colleges to find students guilty.”               The term “vouchers” has a rather negative connotation as of late so proponents have taken to calling them “Education Scholarship Accounts” or tax credits.  Those terms  are much more palatable to the uninformed public.  Only problem is, whatever you call them, they still work like vouchers.  An article in The Progressive is titled “Four Things Betsy DeVos  Doesn’t Want You to Know About Education Tax Credits.” The author explains what tax credits are and how they compare to vouchers.   Upon reading the 4 items they sure sound like vouchers to me.  Here’s one example from the list: “#4 Education tax credit programs divert public money to religious indoctrination.”
 
Charters
Here’s a novel concept.  The newly appointed superintendent of the struggling Detroit Public Schools is recommending the district stop authorizing new charter schools and instead concentrate on improving the traditional campuses in the district.  DPS currently has 13 charters each of which are authorized for 5 years.  The Detroit Free Press has the story. “The push to focus on traditional public schools is happening during a time of academic turmoil in the district.  Students have been the worst-performing in the nation,” it notes, “among big-city school districts on a rigorous national exam.  On the state’s standardized exam, they don’t perform much better, with wide swaths of the student population failing the annual exam the last time results were released last summer.  Charter school students serving primarily Detroit students haven’t performed much better.”
Charter schools were originally conceived as incubators for educational innovation and experimentation.  They were going to operate under different rules than the traditional public school system and successful techniques and styles would be demonstrated for all to adopt.  Mark Naison, professor of History and African-American Studies at Fordham University, writing on the With A Brooklyn Accent blog, finds just the opposite is occurring in a brief essay titled “How Charter Schools Have Stifled Educational Innovation and Fought the Opt Out Movement.”  He focuses on the effect charters have had in New York City but his criticisms can certainly be applied nationwide.  “Although charter schools were originally promoted as a vehicle to encourage educational experimentation,” Naison begins, “their meteoric growth in influence has actually coincided with a REDUCTION in innovation in schools because those promoting them most have also pushed for national testing and test based accountability measures for rating schools.”               Why do charter schools seem to have inordinately high teacher turnover?  Rann Miller, a former charter school teacher in New Jersey, provides some answers and postulates, rather surprisingly, that charters actually like it that way.  ALTERNET provides the platform for his story.  “Teachers leave charters at significantly higher rates when compared to traditional public schools.  Among urban charter schools,” he acquaints, “it’s not uncommon to see teachers turning over at a rate of 30, 40 or even 50% a year.  I’ve witnessed first hand—and experienced—why this is such a problem, and what causes teachers to flee.  But I’ve also seen for myself that there are charter schools and networks that don’t mind high levels of teacher turnover.  Turmoil and churn work for organizations that are determined to control both the makeup and the mindset of their faculty.”  Diane Ravitch says about this item: “Read it all.  Quite a story.”               A controversy is brewing in New York over a proposal to allow charters to certify their own teachers, thus bypassing traditional state credentialing requirements.  If the regulations are approved, charters authorized by SUNY (State University of New York) could set their own qualifications for teacher certification.  Daniel Katz, chair of the Educational Studies Department at Seton Hall University, on his Daniel Katz, Ph.D. website, discusses the plan and why it’s not such a good idea.  “This system almost certainly appeals to charter school chains who rely upon a rapidly turning over cohort of new teachers,” he suggests, “some of whom stay if they adapt quickly to the in-house system, but most of whom eventually leave teaching altogether [Ed. note: See item above].  Shortening teacher preparation into 30 instructional hours and 100 classroom hours certainly makes it easier for these schools to recycle teachers at a rapid clip while not having to worry about regulations requiring them to retain teachers whose preparation experiences make them far more likely to want to stay in the profession – and whose accumulated coursework and classroom experiences may give them ideas of their own about how teaching and learning happen that might contradict the in-house model.”
 
Spotlight on Community Schools
Community schools, also known as “whole-child” initiatives, are gaining adherents as a way to deal with student poverty and the concomitant problems of absenteeism, lack of social and medical support and poor academics.  A profile in EDUCATION WEEK spotlights P.S. 123, a K-8 campus in Harlem, that adopted the community school model in 2013.  “Flooding impoverished schools with a range of services and resources is not new, and there’s still lively debate in education circles about whether it’s something schools should take on. . . .  The approach has been used in districts from Tacoma, Wash., to Cincinnati for several years,” it points out, “but the movement has picked up steam more recently amid a backlash against single-measure, test-based accountability and as an alternative to closing long-struggling schools.  It’s gotten robust support from the nation’s teachers’ unions.  And some states are looking to incorporate the features of community schools in their plans required by the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.”
 
New Style Parent-Teacher Conferences
Most of you are familiar with the traditional format of parent-teacher conferences: mom and/or dad show up for a formal meeting with the teacher of their child.  They discuss how junior is doing in class and teacher offers some suggestions how son/daughter can improve.  Mom/dad asks questions, teacher responds and the meeting is concluded.  As students/parents/teachers, we’re all aware of the routine.  However, a new style of parent conference called Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT) debuted in classrooms in Phoenix in 2009.  The “Teacher Beat” column for EDUCATION WEEK explains how APTTs work and how they were created by a former teacher.  The piece is titled “This Isn’t Your Mom’s Parent-Teacher Conference.”  “The revamped version of the parent-teacher conference,” it describes, “swaps private meetings for three 75-minute group meetings and one 35-minute individual meeting over the course of a school year. Teachers inform parents about the skills students need in order to master their particular grade, like subtraction or reading comprehension, and parents learn how their child is doing on those skills compared with other students.”
 
The Teaching Profession
Are you aware of what a high impact learning environment is?  It has to do with jettisoning traditional classroom setups and introducing a mixture of technology, innovative classroom design, teacher creativity and even importing some new furniture.  Is it possible that all of this could boost student engagement and improve achievement?  An item in the “Education Futures” column for EDUCATION WEEK introduces you tohigh impact learning environments.  It focuses on one school district in Texas that partnered with an educational services company to transform the way it teaches students and demonstrates how classroom surroundings can effect student achievement.  “It’s interesting how something as simple as an innovative approach to furniture creation coupled with the right technology has such a huge effect on student achievement.  As a result of this experiment,” the article concludes, “students can perform at a higher level, and teachers can enjoy the success that accompanies it.”              The teacher lecture is a standard of much pedagogy at the high school and college level.  Alfie Kohn, an ALOED Book Club author, explains why the technique can be deadly and what educators can do about it on his Alfie Kohn blog.  “To question the effectiveness of lectures is not to deny that teachers know more than students do, a common straw-man objection offered defensively by traditionalists.  Rather,” he writes, “it suggests that having someone with more information talk at those who have less doesn’t necessarily lead to that information’s being retained by the latter.  And the more ambitious one’s goal, cognitively speaking, the less likely one is to reach it by having students sit and listen. This is true because we are not empty receptacles into which knowledge is poured; we are active meaning makers.”
 
Are Our Schools Truly “Failing?”
Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, has a major problem with the characterization that our traditional public schools are “failing.”  He decries the use of standardized test scores to rate U.S. schools.  He believes that focusing solely on those results diverts attention from the larger issues of under funding and poor support (Singer labels it “strategic disinvestment”).  When corporate “reformers,” privatizers and their allies panic and fixate on test scores they tend to offer drastic solutions.  “The argument goes like this: Our Kids Are Failing!?  Quick!  Standardize and Privatize Their Schools! . . . .  The sad fact is that there are an awful lot of poor children attending public school. The U.S. has one of the highest child poverty rates in the industrialized world.  And despite spending a lot on our middle class and wealthy students,” Singer reminds readers, “we’re doing next to nothing to actually help our neediest children.  A large portion of U.S. public schools have been left to their own devices for decades.  What’s worse, when they struggle to meet students’ needs, we don’t swoop in with help.  We level blame.  We fire teachers, close buildings and privatize.”
 
Interview With Lily Eskelsen García
And finally, NEA Pres. Lily Eskelsen García sat down with EDUCATION WEEK for a wide ranging Q & A on a number of key issues facing her union including relations with Betsy DeVos, a looming Supreme Court case about agency fees and the NEA’s policy toward charter schools.  In response to a question about working with the head of the U.S. Dept. of Education, the union head answered this way: “We don’t trust these people.  We look at what they did to Michigan public schools.  DeVos destroyed them on purpose to create customers, so they were joyless, underfunded, overcrowded places that people didn’t want to work in, and they didn’t want their kids in those schools.  It was only to create a demand for what she calls the private charter industry.”  Sounds like fighting words to me!               Jeff Bryant, on the Education Opportunity NETWORK, analyzes NEA Pres. Lily Eskelsen García’s comments about not being able to “trust” Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos which she delivered during her keynote address to her organization’s annual convention earlier this month and in a recent interview with ED WEEK (see above).  Bryant agrees she shouldn’t be trusted either as he headlines his essay “Why Teachers Don’t Trust Betsy DeVos, and Neither Should You.”  “Does Garcia’s contention that DeVos is simply not to be trusted have any validity? . . .  There are, in fact,” he answers, “numerous concerns that cast doubt on DeVos’s trustworthiness.”
 
 
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Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)  
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.             
                 

Ed News, Tuesday, July 11, 2017

                        

The ED NEWS

 A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

Education lifts a people to greater ability and achievement.” 
Betsy DeVos
18 states, including California, and the District of Columbia are not going to take Betsy DeVos’ policies sitting down.  They’ve filed suit in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., against her recent delay of regulations implemented by the Obama administration and set to take effect July 1, that would protect college students from predatory loan practices.  Several consumer groups filed a separate suit on similar issues.  POLITICO provides the details.  “Both lawsuits argue that DeVos’ delay of the rules violates the Administrative Procedure Act,” it explains, “and ask a federal court to order the administration to enforce the rules.”               An extended editorial in yesterday’s L.A. Times takes DeVos to task for delaying regulations from the Obama administration that would protect students at for-profit colleges from fraudulent and unfair loan policies (see above).  It wonders why she is protecting the interests (and profits) of private companies over those of students.  Of course DeVos has always seemed to favor those private profits over consumer protections.  “Even the leaders of a wholly dysfunctional administration must recognize that fraud is fraud.  Out-and-out cheating, lying to potential customers, isn’t just unethical,” the piece reminds readers.  “It’s illegal.  And the worst fraud in the higher education world during recent decades has been perpetrated by for-profit colleges that grossly overstate their graduates’ ability to land good jobs, that talked students into applying for loans they would almost certainly be unable to repay and that bamboozled them into signing away their right to sue should they discover how dishonestly they had been treated.”                Mercedes Schneider, on her “EduBlog” at deutsch29, has an analysis of the lawsuit filed against DeVos regarding the delay of regulations pertaining to predatory student loan practices (see first item above).   Schneider has several excerpts from the suit brought by the Attorney’s General of the 18 states and the District of Columbia and a breakdown of the key points.  “And so, as is par for the course in corporate ed reform,” she concludes, “America once again waits to hear from the court.  As for Betsy DeVos: She would rather put money in the crooked corporate pocket than enforce any sensible legislation regulating corporate greed.”             DeVos is planning to take a hard line on the new ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) that was signed into law by Pres. Obama in Dec., 2015.  A story in The New York Times is titled “DeVos’ Hard Line on New Education Law Surprises States.”  “In the Education Department’s feedback to states about their plans to put the new law into effect,” it notes, “it applied strict interpretations of statutes, required extensive detail and even deemed some state education goals lackluster. . . .  After more than a decade of strict federal education standards and standardized testing regimes, the Every Student Succeeds Act was to return latitude to the states to come up with plans to improve student achievement and hold schools accountable for student performance.”                   MAD magazine (how many of you out there remember MAD magazine?) has a “Betsy DeVos Poster We’d Like to See.”  Check it out; print it off; share it with your friends and colleagues and post it in a prominent place.
The Teaching Profession
What’s the best way for principals to fairly and honestly evaluate the teachers on their staff?  The “Teacher Beat” column for EDUCATION WEEK takes on that question by reviewing a recent report on the topic that studied how 100 principals in Miami-Dade County schools rated their teachers.  One key finding: remove the high stakes that are attached to so many evaluation systems.
School Choice and Vouchers
It’s no secret that the Trump administration strongly favors school “choice” and vouchers.  How would those policies effect rural schools?  Simple answer?  They could be devastating as a video segment (3:14 minutes) from CBS News demonstrates using Kentucky as an example.  Interestingly, Trump got much of his support in the election from voters who would be impacted the most.                The billionaire Koch brothers are throwing their substantial financial and political clout into a battle for school “choice” and vouchers in Colorado.  An article in The Denver Post describes the Koch’s influence and what it could mean in the Centennial State and beyond.  “Five states currently offer [education savings] accounts as a school-choice option,” it points out, “according to the bipartisan Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.  The program allows parents to use taxpayer dollars for private school tuition, online learning programs, books or tutoring.  And Colorado, which doesn’t yet offer ESAs, is one of five states where the Koch network is looking to expand or establish the program through legislation or a ballot measure.”               Emmanuel Felton, an African-American who, as a student, came from a relatively well off family in New Orleans that could afford to send him to private schools and pay full tuition, wonders what a federal voucher program like the one promoted by the Trump administration will to do the communities that students leave behind.  What happens to the traditional public education system if some of the most highly motivated families pull their children out in order to send them to a private or religious school in a different neighborhood?  He’s not particularly encouraged by what he foresees.  His commentary appears in THE HECHINGER REPORT.  Felton revisits his hometown of New Orleans and also reports on the impact of vouchers in Milwaukee.  “School choice by its very nature,” he points out, “uproots its customers from their communities, increasing the proportion of Americans without any stake in what’s going on in public schools, the schools that will always serve the children most in need of attention.”
KIPP High School In New York City Submitted Suspicious Data
A couple of previous editions of the “Ed News” reported on the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of the “Best High Schools in America.”  They also included two items from Gary Rubinstein’s Blog that noticed some discrepancies and suspicious data regarding AP test results submitted by one KIPP high school in New York.  U.S. News must have reviewed Rubinstein’s findings because they have removed the offending school from their most recent ratings.  Several publications touted the “success” of this particular KIPP school.  “In my years of blogging and uncovering things like this,” Rubinstein writes, “this is a nice tangible ‘victory.’   I’m pretty sure that if I had never discovered this discrepancy, this correction would have not happened.  KIPP had done the same thing with this school for a few years and have surely been using it in fund raising materials and maybe even grants.  In the scheme of things it is a pretty small victory but still worth feeling good about. “
 
Teacher-Written Blogs vs Corporate Media
Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONETHEWALLBLOG, has a bone to pick with the corporate media.  For various reasons, which he delineates, he doesn’t believe they can fairly and accurately report on education issues.  Who does he think can do a better job?  Teacher-written blogs from people who are in the classroom now or in the past.  [Ed. note:  That describes me 100%!]  Singer believes the corporate media is too beholden to the bottom line.  “These are the reasons why teacher-written education blogs are superior to the competition.  They aren’t beholden to corporate money or influence,” he maintains.  “They have first-hand experience of the subject.  Journalists have a hard job and they deserve our respect. But they can’t compare to the expertise of practicing educators.  If editors included our voices more, perhaps the mainstream media wouldn’t be so skewed towards corporate interests.”
 
New LAUSD Board Majority
2 letters in Sunday’s L.A. Times reacted to the story in Friday’s paper about the new pro-charter majority on the LAUSD  board.  The first was encouraged by that situation, the second, a current district teacher, was disheartened.  “It’s outrageous that the pro-charter school board members,” the author of the second letter deplores, “would suddenly ask for unity and to turn away from the divisive politics of yesterday when they themselves have been so truculently divisive.”
 
Charter School “Scandal of the Day”
This one is beyond comprehension.  Lori Bergeron, a convicted felon (for arson, fraud and writing bad checks), was selected as the board president of Manatee School of Arts and Sciences, a small elementary charter in Bradenton, Florida, and now she’s headed back to prison for stealing over $27,500 from the school.  This is the kind of story you find in a fictional Hollywood movie but this one is pure fact.  One has to truly ask how this could happen.  These are the kinds of events that take place when certain types of schools lack accountability and transparency, which most charters seem to insist on.  The Bradenton Herald has all the shocking details about Ms. Bergeron.  “Bergeron is a convicted felon with multiple arrests in her history.  She spent close to four years in prison from 2003 to 2007 after pleading no contest to charges of grand theft and arson, according to the state department of corrections.  She was ordered to pay $100,171 restitution in the grand theft case. . . .  The school district provided a background check on Bergeron to previous school administrators, but she was allowed to serve on the board anyway.”  She sounds like the perfect person to head the board of a charter school.  I don’t know about you, but this kind of news make me sick to my stomach.  
 
More Money for LAUSD’s Neediest Students
The LAUSD board approved a settlement of a lawsuit that will send more funds to the district’s low-income students.  A story in yesterday’s L.A. Times discusses the board’s action.  “Community Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group, filed a complaint with the California Department of Education and sued the district in 2015 with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union,” it explains, “alleging that the district was misspending up to $450 million meant for low-income students, English learners and foster youth.”
 
Testing
Roy Turrentine, a current teacher who frequently comments on Diane Ravitch’s blog, has a concise response to why standardized testing is so bad for kids.  Be sure to read the even briefer comment from SomeDam poet at the end of the piece titled “What Testing Destroys.”  “Why is it so impossible,” he asks plaintively, “to convince some of our leaders of the deleterious effects of testing?”
 
Segregation Returning to Southern Schools
Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v Board of Education in 1954 and the civil rights movement of the 60s and 70s, the schools in the South were the most segregated in the U.S.  For a time after these 2 events integration arrived in the South and their schools were no longer the most segregated in the country.  Now, it seems, all that is changing once again and it’s not for the better.  An interesting article on The BITTER SOUTHERNER website discusses the resegregation of southern classrooms and asks “Are These the Schools Southerners Want?”  “Within the current political and cultural climate, there looms a growing sense of separation, where private interests replace democratic interests,” it laments, “and the rich and powerful profit while the poor and underserved continue to struggle.  You might think we were living in the 1930s or 1940s.  This is, however, 2017, and the resegregation of public schools is increasing at an alarming rate.”  Diane Ravitch calls this “a soul-searching article.”
 
Few Foreign Language Classes Found in K-12
The number of foreign language classes in the U.S. in K-12 education can be summed up like this: few and far between.  A story in EDUCATION WEEK describes the state of foreign language instruction in this country.  It features surveys by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Councils for International Education.  Their reports found only about 1 in 5 students enrolled in a foreign language course in 2014-15.  What languages are those students learning? The top 3 were Spanish (69%), French (12%) and German (3%).  “Researchers say the shortcomings are most glaring in so-called critical-need languages, such as Arabic, that are considered crucial to national security, but are among the least commonly taught and also considered the most difficult to learn. . . .  Arabic is also the second-most spoken home language for English-language learners in the nation’s K-12 public schools,” it surprisingly notes, “trailing only Spanish, according to 2013-14 federal data.  That adds up to nearly 110,000 students in the nation’s classrooms who report Arabic as their home language.”  Links to the two papers are included in the ED WEEK article.
 
What’s It Like to be the Parent of a Special Needs Child?
Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, it may not be possible to understand what it means to be the parent of a special needs child.  Teaches sometimes have a special needs student in their classroom but what is it like to be the parent of that child?  Melissa Tomlinson, writing on the BATs (Badass Teachers Association) website, offers some observations about her experience with her young son Jharid.  “Special needs parenting is highly emotional and highly complicated,” Tomlinson begins.  “We have to develop really thick skin.  At home, our kids are normal.  In the street, it sometimes surprises us how different our babies are.”
 
LAUSD Board Members Get HUGE Pay Increase
And finally, members of the LAUSD school board will be getting up to a 174% pay increase in 60 days.  A little-known city commission voted on Monday to give the 7 elected officials the pay increase.  Salaries for board members had not been raised since 2007 according to a story in today’s L.A. Times.  “Board members who have no other outside employment will see their pay increase to $125,000 a year from $45,637.  Board members who receive any salary or honorarium elsewhere,” it reports, “will receive $50,000 a year, compared with the old figure of $26,437.  Under the city charter, Board of Education compensation is set every five years by the LAUSD Board of Education Compensation Review Committee.  The seven-member body is appointed by local officials outside the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Mayor Eric Garcetti has two appointees, as does City Council President Herb Wesson.”  Question: In light of this news, LAUSD teachers should be in line for a substantial increase also, yes/no?
 
Hope everyone is surviving our scorching temperatures!
 
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Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)  
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.             
                 

Ed News, Friday, July 7, 2017 Edition

The ED NEWS

 A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

“Education helps you to find beauty, but you are responsible to see it.” 

― Debasish Mridha

Charter Schools
An editorial in last Friday’s L.A. Times is critical of the CTA (California Teachers Association) for some of its actions in battling the expansion of charters in the state.  The paper lists some undertakings it hopes the union would back off from while, at the same time, noting there are areas where charters need oversight that the union can provide.  The item is titled “It’s Time For the Teachers Union to Stop Tilting at Charter School Windmills.”  “CTA resistance to charter schools, when well thought out and well-played, does have an important role in setting policy,” the editorial board points out.  “The union serves as a counterweight to a movement that has been allowed to grow without the necessary safeguards and oversight.”  Thanks to reader Don Hagen for sending this along.               On Independence Day the NEA (National Education Association) passed a resolution supporting accountability and transparency for charter schools at their 2017 Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly in Boston.  You can find the statement on the nea website by clicking here.  “The growth of separate and unequal systems of charter schools that are not subject to the same basic safeguards and standards that apply to public schools threatens our students and our public education system.  The purpose of this policy statement is to make plain NEA’s opposition to the failed experiment of largely unaccountable privately managed charter schools,” it reads, “while clarifying NEA’s continued support for those public charter schools that are authorized and held accountable by local democratically elected school boards or their equivalent.”               The “Teacher Beat” column for EDUCATION WEEK has a guest blogger attending the NEA Annual Meeting and reporting on some of its actions.  Stephen Sawchuk, an associate editor of ED WEEK, offers an analysis of the Policy Statement the organization passed regarding its stance on charter schools (see above).  “Under its new policy, the National Education Association will accept only charters that look a lot more like traditional public schools.
The policy statement,” 
he writes, “approved by delegates to the union’s annual convention July 4, allows the NEA to support only those charters that are authorized by school districts and are subject to the same open-records laws, safety rules, and accountability measures as other schools.  It would effectively rule out any charters run by private entities, including those operated by major networks of charters, such as KIPP, Achievement First, or Uncommon Schools.”               Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, uncovers the scam that are charter school lotteries.  Does the fact that some charters hold lotteries for admission prove that they take any and all students?  Not according to what Singer reports and even when they do, he demonstrates how they make a major effort to discourage certain types of students from entering their lotteries in the first place.  His commentary is titled “Charter School Lotteries–Why Most Families Don’t Even Apply.”               Jeff Bryant, on the Education Opportunity NETWORK, thinks it would be a wise move for Democrats to call for a charter school moratorium in order to get in step with their labor and civil rights allies.  He reviews some of the previous actions by various groups and discusses what a moratorium would achieve.  “Democrats who continue to support charter school expansions under current circumstances,” Bryant concludes, “risk muddying the waters at a time when there should be clear differences with what Trump-DeVos want.  A moratorium on charter schools draws a bright line between a political regime intent on serving the privileged and a Democratic party that seeks to uphold labor and civil rights.  Democrats should step across that line.”
 
Forgetting and Remembering
How does the act of forgetting and remembering effect our memories?  A op-ed in The New York Times looks at the latest brain science to offer some insights.  Now please try to remember them.  The piece is titled “Forgot Where You Parked? Good.”  “The notion that forgetting is a hidden educational virtue goes back a century or more.  In a series of studies, the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus found that when people relearn information, they’re more likely to recall that information in the future,”  the piece notes.  “Research explains why forgetting delivers this memory boost.  Memories don’t fly out of our brains like sparrows from a barn.  Instead, our brain will make memories more or less accessible.  Some recollections, like the name of a close friend, are easily recalled.  Other details, like the color of your childhood bedroom, have been tucked into deep storage and are much harder — if not impossible — to retrieve.”  Thanks to ALOED member Randy Traweek for unearthing this and remembering to send it to me.
 
New LAUSD Board Members Take Seats 
This week marked an important milestone in the history of the LAUSD school board.  Two new pro-charter members took their seats giving the panel a 4-3 charter proponent majority for the first time.  An article in Saturday’s L.A. Times offers a Q & A with Kelly Gonez who shares her ideas for education reform of the district.   The piece also includes “Gonez’s To-Do List.”  Here’s one example: “* Bringing different factions together for the sake of students.”  Gonez represents District 6 which covers the east San Fernando Valley and was formerly the seat of Monica Ratliff.  [Ed. note: The June 13th edition of the “Ed News” highlights a similar interview with new board member Nick Melvoin.]               This week, for the first time, charter proponents will hold a 4-3 majority on the LAUSD school board.  What does that shift portend for the board’s relationship with Supt. Michelle King?  The “Education Watch” column in Wednesday’s Times offers some key issues, in the form of 4 questions, to look for in the future between King and the board.  Here’s one of those questions: “What’s ahead for the teachers union?”               What kinds of issues will the new pro-charter majority on the LAUSD board be facing?  That question is addressed in an extended editorial in the same paper which explains what it expects from board members in regards to several critical issues including charter schools, the budget, board meetings and defining a clear vision for the future.  “Charters have stirred up most of the controversy [on the board in the past], but budget planning is by far the bigger area where the new board majority needs to step in,” the item suggests.  “The district is expected to face serious shortfalls within a couple of years, and kicking the can down the road, as it’s been doing, is not an acceptable strategy.  If the district wants to retain students, it needs the money to offer reasonable class sizes and enticing programs.”                It was big enough news to make the front page of yesterday’s Times.  Two new LAUSD board members Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez, who were strongly backed by charter proponents, officially took their seats yesterday giving pro-charter members a 4-3 majority on the board.  What might be in store for the nation’s second-largest school district?  “Near the top of the pro-charter agenda is likely to be an easier process for approving new schools,” the item suggests, “and renewing existing charters, which advocates have long decried as too difficult.  They also want charters to take over more space on district-owned campuses.  Some hardcore charter backers have favored a more radical agenda: a massive charter school expansion or even using charters as the vehicle to dismantle the school system entirely.”               It didn’t take long for the new pro-charter majority to stamp their authority on the LAUSD school board.  Yesterday, at the panel’s first official public meeting of the 2017-18 school year, they chose charter proponent Ref Rodriguez as the new board president on a 4-3 vote as well as directing Supt. Michelle King to take a “students first” approach to any future initiatives.  A story in today’s Times describes what took place at yesterday’s meeting.  “The board’s charter-backed bloc,” it lists, “consists of Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez, who were elected in May; Monica Garcia, who was reelected by winning a majority in the March primary; and Rodriguez, who was not on the ballot this year.”  George McKenna, Richard Vladovic and Scott Schmerelson are the other members of the board.
 
Public Education Heroes
Diane Ravitch’s blog chose the July 4th holiday to provide a list of groups and individuals who she believes are standing strong in support of public education.  You should recognize a number of the names as they have been highlighted on numerous occasions in the “Ed News.”  Here are just a few: “The BATs (Badass Teachers Association), Valerie Strauss, Mercedes Schneider, Carol Burris, NAACP, Black Lives Matter, Julian Vasquez Heilig, Jeff Bryant, FairtTest, Opt-Out New York and many others.   Ravitch has this comment about some of those heroes in Los Angeles: “Carl Peterson, Robert Skeels, Karen Wolfe, Ellen Lubic, Scott Schmerelson [she spelled his name wrong–I corrected it], and all the other parents and educators in Los Angeles who keep hope alive for the survival of public schools in that billionaire-ridden city.”
 
LAUSD’s “Credit-Recovery” Courses Questioned
An extended “Education” investigative feature in Sunday’s L.A. Times explores the murky world of “credit-recovery” courses being offered in the LAUSD to assist students who fall behind on the road to graduation.  The Times has been skeptical in the past about the program and several previous editions of the “Ed News” have highlighted stories and editorials in the paper about it.  This one goes into depth on the subject and emerges still unconvinced of the efficacy of the classes.  “Schools Are Boosting Graduation Rates by Offering ‘Credit Recovery.’  But What Are Students Learning?” the headline asks.  The story focuses on one student at Garfield High and his experiences with the program.  “Since 2015, [the student’s] sophomore year, the Los Angeles Unified School District has poured $30 million into intervention programs such as online and compressed ‘credit-recovery’ courses,” the item reveals, “to give students more, and often much speedier, ways to pull their grades up from failure.  But it’s hard to know whether students in these classes are getting the same level of education as they would in a regular class, or even as their peers in other credit-recovery courses.  The district lacks such records as how many students tried and failed to complete such courses, and how long it took them to finish a class.  Measuring the rigor of credit-recovery methods is difficult, too, because of a lack of consistency in how the programs are run from school to school.”
 
The Teaching Profession
The National Education Association (NEA), at its annual convention this week held in Boston, predicts a serious drop in membership for the near future.  The U.S. Supreme Court could take up a case that may make matters even worse according to a story in the “Teacher Beat” Column for EDUCATION WEEK.  “The National Education Association,” it explains, “is projecting a significant membership dip over its 2017-18 budget year.  And that may be only the beginning. . . .  The union anticipates legislation in the statehouses that would, for example, strip collective bargaining rights or prevent union dues from being automatically deducted from teachers’ paychecks, and as a result projects losing 20,000 full-time-equivalent active teachers and paraprofessionals.”               Despite an anticipated drop in union membership by teachers (see above), another story in ED WEEK offers a glimmer of hope.  It seems more and more teachers at charter schools are looking to join unions.  “Of the 6,900 charter schools nationally, only about 1 in 10 have unions.  That percentage has stayed steady in recent years,” it spells out, “even while charter enrollment has risen.  While largely symbolic for now, the recent big-city union victories could energize similar campaigns in other nearby charter schools, experts say.  Chicago, Philadelphia, and Sacramento have also seen upticks in organizing efforts among charter school teachers.”
 
Trump and Education
Lily Eskelsen García, president of the NEA (National Education Association), delivered the keynote address at the group’s 96th Representative Assembly in Boston this week.  One of her key themes was her mistrust of the education policies of the Trump administration.  Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, analyzes the speech and reprints the full text.  “The president of the country’s largest labor union, Lily Eskelsen García of the National Education Association, told delegates at her organization’s annual gathering,” Strauss begins, “that they would not work with the Trump administration because the president and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos could not be trusted to do what is in the best interests of children.”               Here’s a short Q & A about the Trump administration’s plans for school choice.  It appears courtesy of the “Politics K-12” column in EDUCATION WEEK.  There are still few specifics at this points but some information can still be gleaned from various sources.   “President Donald Trump’s budget includes some new initiatives aimed at ramping up school choice,” it explains, “including $250 million for a private school voucher demonstration program, and allowing $1 billion in Title I money to follow students to the public school of their choice.  But, again, there are ton of questions—both big picture and nitty-gritty—about how those proposals would work.”
 
Proposed LAUSD Budget Cuts Restored
Last week the LAUSD board approved a budget that includes some $40 million in cuts to some programs (see the June 23 edition of the “Ed News).  This week almost all those reductions were restored.  A story in Wednesday’s L.A. Times discusses the latest budget developments and wonders why the cuts were made in the first place.  “The planned $40-million reduction would have affected more than 700 campuses, about 70% of district schools.  The cut in the anti-poverty funds was about 16.5% at each affected campus,” it points out, “about $113 per student at most schools.  Now, all but 2% of the cut will be restored, officials said Friday, and the remainder could be added later as well.”
 
Personalized Learning Questioned
If you’re getting a little tired of READING articles in the “Ed News,”  you may wish to LISTEN  to co-hosts Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider discussing with a guest how personalized learning is disrupting public education on their podcast HAVE YOU HEARD.  The segment runs 35:24 minutes and is titled “Putting the ‘i” in Personalized Learning and the Disruption of Public Education.”               Sorry, back to the reading.  Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, is not enamored of personalized learning either (see above).  He likens the technique to a “bait and switch.”  “Personalized Learning is getting the hard sell these days.  It’s marketable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that nobody really knows what Personalized Learning is.  What it suggests,” Greene complains, “is something appealing, like Individualized Education Programs for everyone. . . .  An educational program custom designed for each individual learner.  Custom designed like a meal at a restaurant where you can choose the protein and spices and sauces and dishes and means of cooking and order exactly what you are hungry for.  But as Personalized Learning rolls out, that’s not what it’s like at all.” 
   
Lynwood USD Singled Out for AP Success
The Lynwood Unified School District, located south of downtown L.A., has a growing number of  minority and low-income Latino and Black students taking and PASSING Advanced Placement classes and exams.  An article in yesterday’s L.A. Times describes the district’s success and how it was achieved.  It focuses one one Lynwood High senior who has taken and passed a number of AP tests and is headed to Columbia University in the fall.  Her parents only progressed to the sixth grade.  “This year, Lynwood became one of two L.A. County school systems named to the College Board’s honor roll,” the story relates, “for significantly increasing their number of students taking and passing AP exams.  (The other was comparatively prosperous Arcadia Unified School District.) . . .  In 2013, 427 students at the district’s two comprehensive high schools took a total of 849 AP tests. This year, 823 students took 1,554 tests.  The scores aren’t yet in for this year, but the student pass rate has improved somewhat over the first seven years of the effort, from 20% to 25%.  The average pass rate in the United States is 22%.”                Advanced Placement news is not all rosy for students in California.  It appears over 840 exams taken by 540 students at Scripps Ranch High School in the San Diego USD will need to be retaken due to an inappropriate seating arrangement at the testing site.  Yes, you read that correctly. The students were not accused of cheating  but they were not seated per College Board and Educational Testing Service protocols according to a story in The San Diego Union-Tribune.  “Among new requirements [instituted 2 years ago], students taking the tests must be at 8-foot-long tables,” it describes, “so they have space between one another, and partitions are not allowed on the tables.  At Scripps Ranch this year, many students were at 6-foot tables with partitions, which previously had been allowed.”
 
Pasadena USD Battles Declining Enrollment
The Pasadena Unified School District has been trying to reverse declining enrollment for a number of years.  It is trying some innovative solutions to stem the decline including dual-language programs, an International Baccalaureate program at the high school and middle school level and more emphasis on the arts.  A piece in yesterday’s L.A. Times has the details.  “For many, the tinkering is paying off.  The number of families requesting to enroll children in the district rose last year — 365 out-of-district students were permitted to enroll and 169 students received approval to leave, according to Pasadena Unified spokeswoman Hilda Ramirez Horvath.   While overall enrollment, like that in other California districts, continues to decrease,” it mentions, “the rate of decline in Pasadena began to flatten about three years ago — a positive sign, said board member Scott Phelps.”
 
The U.S. Supreme Court and K-12 Education
The U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up its 2016-17 term at the end of June.  EDUCATION WEEK offers a review of the court’s decisions as they relate to education issues.  Among the topics covered include special education, religion and public schools, free speech and private schools.  “The U.S. Supreme Court had one of its most significant terms for K-12 education in several years,” the item points out, “even after it decided to remand to a lower court a case it had decided to hear about transgender rights in education.”  The drawings that accompany the article are well worth a gander.
School Diversity Pays Off
A new study out of UCLA finds that students who attend more racially diverse campuses feel safer and more comfortable with their peers.  The report is featured in a story in yesterday’s L.A. Times.  “The study is based on surveys from about 4,300 sixth-grade students in public urban schools in Northern and Southern California, including some in L.A. Unified.  A ‘diverse’ school is defined as one that has a relatively equal number of students in each of several racial groups,” it notes.  “That student body makeup may create a balance of power, the study suggests. . . .  Other studies have examined the effects of diversity on academic achievement.  But focusing on the emotional effects on children is important because their state of mind affects their ability to learn, the study’s authors say.”
 
Betsy DeVos
Humorist Andy Borowitz takes a pot shot at Betsy DeVos in his satiric column for The NEW YORKER.  He suggests that she’s the only person who can deal with the nuclear threats emanating from North Korea by devastating their math and science education.  Remember: this is comedy and purely for humor.  It’s short.  Try not to laugh too hard. “DeVos, who is expected to arrive in Pyongyang later this week,” Borowitz deadpans, “plans to throw a monkey wrench in North Korea’s swiftly advancing nuclear program by replacing its current system of training scientists with a dizzying array of vouchers, sources said.”
 
School Segregation Stubbornly Continues
You might believe that school segregation has been gradually fazed out after the U.S. Supreme court’s decision in Brown v Board of Education in 1954.  In fact, segregation seems to be getting worse!  Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, surveys what’s happened over the past 60+ years and why integration is going backwards in a piece titled “Where Did All the Integrated School Go?  Why Segregation is Still Bad.”  “After initial progress, our traditional public schools have been allowed to slip back into segregation.  In many parts of the country, they are actually more segregated today than they were at the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s,” Singer painfully explains.  “According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, from 2000 to 2014, school segregation has more than doubled nationwide.  That’s twice the number of schools comprised almost entirely of students living in high poverty and/or students of color.”  Singer includes a segment John Oliver did about school “Segregation” (17:58 minutes) on his show “This Week Tonight” back at the end of October.  It was highlighted in the Nov. 1, edition of the “Ed News” which goes to show how cutting edge and topical this blog is.  
 
School’s Out!
And finally, the 2016-17 school year is now over.  EDUCATION WEEK offers an album of images from students and educators illustrating impressions of that important day.  2 of the photos are from California.               Now that summer break is in full swing, 2 educators, writing on the BATs (Badass Teachers Association) website, identify “The 5 Phases of Summer” as seen through the eyes of a classroom teacher.  Does their view of “vacation” match your experiences?
                                                                                                                                      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, June 27, 2017 Edition

The ED NEWS

 A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

The Independence Day holiday is next Tuesday, July 4.
The United States will be 241 years old.
       Inline image 1
[The “Ed News” will be taking a short break to enjoy the holiday. 
Look for the next issue on Friday, July 7.]
 
And now to the news.
“There is no nobler profession, nor no greater calling, 
than to be among those unheralded many who gave and give their lives 
to the preservation of human knowledge, passed with commitment and care 
from one generation to the next.”
Montebello USD Awards Questionable Painting Contract
A investigative piece in Saturday’s L.A. Times raises some questions about the awarding of a $2.5 million painting contract last year by the Montebello Unified School District to a company that didn’t submit the lowest bid.  “An internal document obtained by The Times,” it reveals, “shows that a district finance manager had become alarmed by what he saw as pressure to reward certain companies in the contract bidding. Kevin Lee wrote in notes of a meeting with other officials that he told them they were ‘very close to breaking the law’ as they discussed ways to structure the bid so Castlerock Environmental Inc. and another company would get the work.”
 
Betsy DeVos
Gail Collins is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times.  She recently conducted a reader poll to discover the “worst Trump cabinet member.”  The results are in.  The envelop please.  And the winner is  . . . . none other than the Sec. of Education, Betsy DeVos [ wild applause].  “DeVos really hates public schools — something you don’t find often in a secretary of education,” Collins points out.  “Her goal seems to be replacing them with charter schools, none of which will need much oversight because, you know, the choice thing.  Many readers noted that our secretary of education does not seem to be … all that bright.”  Collins includes a number of remarks from readers about their various choices. Most are hilarious.  [Ed. note:  Thanks to ALOED member Randy Traweek for sending this out to all the Discussion Group participants.  I added this item for people who read the “Ed News” on the internet.]               Jennifer Berkshire turns her HAVE YOU HEARD blog over to Alicia, an educator who assists students at different levels to become better writers and consumers of information.  Alicia, interestingly, blames herself for the appointment of Betsy DeVos to head the federal Dept. of Education.  Her rationale for that position is rather intriguing.  “How are you or I responsible for the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education?  It was President Trump who picked her, which makes sense, as his own for-profit education company defrauded thousands of students.  But you and I also helped DeVos get to her position,” Alicia suggests.  “We’re implicated too, despite our protest of the selection of a woman who has used her financial and social capital to undermine public education.  My contribution to Betsy DeVos’ appointment is that I consistently failed to pay attention to what was occurring in public education.”  She goes on to further explain why she places the blame for DeVos’ appointment on herself. 34 Democratic U.S. Senators have serious concerns about how Betsy DeVos may or may not enforce civil rights policies in her Dept. of Education.  They’ve sent her a strongly worded letter expressing their apprehensions.  The Politics K-12″ column for EDUCATION WEEK discusses the note.  “The Democratic lawmakers point to recent actions taken by DeVos’ department.  Those include,” the story mentions, “a new policy surrounding Office of Civil Rights investigations announced by acting assistant secretary for civil rights Candice Jackson.  That policy, announced in an internal memo first obtained by ProPublica, calls for a lot less emphasis on examining individual complaints for evidence of  systemic discrimination.”  You can find a full copy of the 6-page letter by clicking here. Both California senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris signed the letter.
 
Health Care and Education
Last week, Senate Republicans made public their secret health care bill.  How will it impact education if passed in its current form?  That question is tackled by the “Politics K-12” column for EDUCATION WEEK.  It discusses several areas where the legislation could have a direct effect on education policies and issues including special education funding, teacher health plans and mental health coverage.  “The Trump administration and congressional Republicans,” it begins, “are in the midst of trying to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—better known as ‘Obamacare’—with big implications for the nation’s schools when it come to special education funding, teacher benefits, and more.”
 
Gov. Christie Removes State Board of Ed. Pres. and VP
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be out of office due to term limits after the Nov., 2017, gubernatorial election.  Ahead of that event he removed the president and vice president of the State Board of Education.  Observers interpreted this action as an attempt to keep control of the board after Christie leaves office according to a story on the NJ Advance Media website.  “The controversial moves on Monday and Thursday [last week] come as Christie attempts to remake the board with a flurry of nominations,” it reports, “before he leaves office, a tactic that has raised concerns about transparency and confounded the board’s former leaders. . . .  The state’s largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, accused Christie of attempting to ‘stack the board’ before he leaves office.”
 
Acute Teacher Shortage Plagues Arizona
An analysis by the Arizona Republic finds that 22% of teachers in Arizona lack the proper qualifications.  The problem is a severe teacher shortage that is causing many states to fill classroom positions with unqualified candidates.  “Many in that 22 percent did have a college education and teacher training, but had less than two years in the classroom, a time frame when they don’t qualify for the state’s full credential — a standard certificate.   Many others lacked even more basic qualifications,” it notes.  “Nearly 2,000 had no formal teacher training.  Dozens lacked a college degree.  Parents, educators and advocates argue the proliferation of teachers with less than full credentials harms student performance.”  The story describes one principal’s futile attempt to recruit qualified candidates and also profiles problems faced by a small rural school district.  
 
Vouchers
An opinion piece in U.S. News and World Report makes the argument to avoid investing taxpayer dollars in vouchers and instead direct the money to the public schools in order to improve education for all students in this country.  The author, Scott Sargrad, is the managing director for K-12 education policy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization.  The op-ed is simply titled “Don’t Gamble on Vouchers.”  “The argument that policymakers should continue to experiment with vouchers is also a dangerous one.  While some studies have found some benefits for some groups of students,” he writes, “the most recent high-quality research has shown that vouchers have clear – and large – negative impacts on students.  From Indiana, to Ohio, to Louisiana, to the District of Columbia, voucher schemes have, on balance, harmed students – not helped them.”  Sargrad proceeds to review the research into voucher programs in those states and the District of Columbia.
 
Jay Mathews Admits Errors in His High School Rankings
Jay Mathews, education columnist for The Washington Post, has been compiling his “America’s Most Challenging High Schools” list for almost 20 years.  But Carol Burris, a former high school principal in New York and current executive director of the Network for Public Education (NPE), pointed out some errors in the data supplied by the IDEA Public Schools charter network in Texas that had boosted their ratings on Mathews’ list.  Burris’ findings ware highlighted  in the “Ed News.”  Matthews issues a mea culpa for the misinformation and explains how it all came about in his column for the Post, giving proper credit for the sleuthing Burris did to uncover the inaccuracies.  “The IDEA Public Schools charter network in Texas told me it provided incorrect numbers of Advanced Placement tests at six of its schools for the 2017 list published in May,” he writes.  “As a result, the five IDEA schools that were in the top 10 have dropped several places on the corrected list.  ‘We messed up,’ said IDEA founder and chief executive Tom Torkelson.”     A blogger who writes under the moniker “Democracy” agrees with Carol Burris’ criticisms of Jay Matthews’ high school rankings (see above) but reckons she didn’t go far enough. He believes that using AP classes and test results is not a true indicator of high school excellence.  “Democracy’s” essay appears on Diane Ravitch’s blog.  He dissects the content and quality of AP courses and questions the academic level of the exams.  “The primary reason many students take AP is not to ‘learn’ or to gain ‘college readiness,’ but to game the admissions process,” he suggests.  “Students feel like they have to put AP on their transcripts or they won’t get into the college of their choice. It’s all about ‘looking good,’ and boosting the grade point average.”
  
New Study Compares Charters and Traditional Schools
There are things for both sides in the debate between charters and traditional schools to hang their hats on in a new study about both types of schools in Oakland.  The findings were produced by Education Research Strategies out of Massachusetts based on data from the 2014-15 school year.  An article about the survey appears in Sunday’s L.A. Times.  “The research commissioned by a coalition of educational and philanthropic organizations focused on charter schools in Oakland.  It determined that they have received less public funding than Oakland’s traditional public schools,” the article suggests, “but that traditional schools have had a more challenging student population to educate.”  [Ed. note: The article in the print edition is much more detailed than my link to what appears on the paper’s website. I’m not quite sure why.]
How Are Schools Dealing With Students’ Social Media?
A short item on the “Ed Week Video” column for EDUCATION WEEK provides 2 videos (the first runs 8:09 minutes and deals with high school pupils.  The second lasts 2:03 minutes and talks with 2 middle school students) on how schools are monitoring their students’ social media posts without infringing on free speech and privacy rights.
Supreme Court Rules in Church-State Case
In a highly anticipated ruling regarding the 1st Amendment and the separation of church and state, The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday, the final day of its 2016-17 term, on a 7-2 vote decided in favor of a Missouri church.   The church wanted state funding to resurface its school playground.  The “Ed News” has closely followed this case and its possible ramifications for church-state relations.  The “Courts & Law” column for The Washington Post provides the details of Trinity Lutheran v. Comer.  “Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., brought the case because it was excluded from a state program that reimburses the cost of rubberizing the surface of playgrounds.  The church scored high in the grant process,” it explains, “but Missouri’s state constitution, like those in about three dozen states, forbade government from spending public money on ‘any church, sect, or denomination of religion.’” The article includes a video (3:54 minutes) reviewing the decision.               For additional analysis, the “School Law” column for EDUCATION WEEK also reports on the key U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued yesterday regarding the separation of church and state (see above).  It’s titled “Supreme Court Issues Narrow Ruling in Case With Voucher Implications.”  “The court decided the case on relatively narrow grounds,” it suggests, “that left the implications for state barriers to religious school vouchers and other school choice measures unclear.  The farther-reaching question underlying the case was whether state constitutional provisions that strictly bar government aid to religion violate religious freedom protections in the First Amendment.  Those state-level measures are considered among the last legal barriers to expanding vouchers and tax credits for use at private religious schools.”   Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented in the ruling.               Valerie Strauss, on her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, weighs in on the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer (see items above) as it relates to vouchers.  “Supporters of school voucher programs,” she points out, “are already cheering the decision as boding well for the expansion of school choice.  They are looking for that opportunity in a Colorado case the justices may agree to hear, Taxpayers for Public Education v. Douglas County School District.  In 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court struck down a school voucher program, saying it violated  . . . . the state constitution.”               An editorial in today’s L.A. Times supports the Supreme Court ruling in the church-state case (see 3 pieces above) and was glad it was a narrow decision.  The item is titled “The Supreme Court Rules a Playground Isn’t a Pulpit.”  “On Monday, the Supreme Court decided a case that despite its mundane subject matter — the resurfacing of a preschool playground — was viewed by some conservatives as an opportunity for the court to radically redefine the constitutional relationship between church and state.  Fortunately,” it begins, “the court did no such thing.  That’s good news at a time when the culture wars over the role of religion in public life have become inflamed.”               Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, offers his analysis of the court decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer.  He headlines his commentary “Supremes Breaking Down Church State Wall.”  He reviews some of the language contained in the opinions and discusses the implications of the decision for vouchers and other policies.  ” The Supremes just punched a huge hole in the wall and a bunch of voucher-loving religious private schools are about to start sucking up public tax money through that breach.  A bunch of public tax money is about to disappear into a black hole,” he laments, “and we won’t know where it went or how it was used.  Education, religion, law, and American society will all be a little bit worse for it.”               Lily Eskelsen García, president of the NEA, has doubts whether the court’s decision regarding the use of public funds to help pave a church’s preschool playground (refer to items above) will open the door to vouchers or similar programs.  She believes the narrowness of the ruling could prevent such an outcome and she quotes from a footnote [#3] of the court’s ruling to support her case in her commentary for THE HECHINGER REPORT.  “In a 7-2 ruling, the justices ruled that while Missouri could not refuse a playground grant to a church solely due to the fact that the church is a religious institution,” she writes, “the court was not ‘address[ing] religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination.’  In other words, the ruling was not a green light for school vouchers.”  You can read the entire opinion (53 pages) in the Trinity Lutheran v. Comer case by clicking here.  Footnote #3 is found on p. 14 of the main opinion (p. 18 of the complete document).               Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, has a different perspective on the significance of the key U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding the separation of church and state.  He makes the plausible argument that if churches can accept taxpayer money for various reasons, that could open the door to taxing church property, let’s say, or controlling what’s taught in church schools.  Think about it.  The court’s decision in the case could cut both ways as he clearly explains.  “Now that the state has been shown to be responsible to support the church, the reverse has also been proven: the church has responsibilities to support the state.  That’s right.  No more tax free status for houses of worship. . . .  What conservatives seem to forget,” he reminds readers, “is that the wall of separation between church and state wasn’t erected just to protect the state from influence by religion.  It also was set up to protect religion from the state.  Once you have money flowing from one to the other, regulations are soon to follow.”
 
Michigan’s Achievement District to Close
Michigan’s 6-year experiment with a state-run district for low achieving schools will close down at the end of the current school year due to  unproductive results.  The 15 campuses in the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) will revert back to the Detroit Public School Community District according to a report from Michigan Radio, part of the NPR digital network.  “The EAA was created in 2011 to turn around Detroit’s lowest performing schools,” it describes.  “But, according to Michigan State University education professor David Arsen, it fell far short of that goal.   ‘The EAA could fairly be regarded as a train wreck of educational policy,’ Arsen said.   Arsen says a rushed policy process, plus a lack of state investment, meant the EAA had little chance of turning around Detroit’s failing schools.   In the state’s latest rankings, two-thirds of the EAA’s schools were in the bottom five percent.”  So much for that failed corporate “reform” undertaking.  Tennessee, Nevada and a few other states have similar state-controlled achievement districts.
 
The Teaching Profession
And finally, which state in the union is doing the best job of destroying public education within its boundaries and  deprofessionalizing the job of teaching?  Stuart Egan, on his CAFFEINATED RAGE blog, makes the case for North Carolina.  He talks about the latest transgressions from the Republican controlled legislature, making veteran teachers extinct, by way of policies that are aimed at reducing salaries and benefits to the point that long-time teachers are pretty much forced to leave the profession.  “In the last four years, new teachers entering the profession in North Carolina,” Egan explains, “have seen the removal of graduate degree pay bumps and due-process rights. While the ‘average”’ salary increases have been most friendly to newer teachers, those pay ‘increases’ do plateau at about Year 15 in a teacher’s career.  Afterwards, nothing really happens.  Teachers in that position may have to make career-ending decisions.”               What happens when first and second-year teachers are provided with a mentor?  Well, for one thing their students’ outcomes in math and English Language Arts improve considerably according to a new study.  A story in the “Teaching NOW” column for EDUCATION WEEK features the report from SRI Education, a nonprofit research institute headquartered in Menlo Park, California.  “In the evaluation, SRI studied teacher and student outcomes over a three-year period (2013-14 to 2015-16).  Researchers compared a group of teachers who received NTC [New Teacher Center] induction mentoring to a group of teachers who received the usual new-teacher supports provided by the district.   Both groups of teachers,” the piece explains, “had similar retention rates and ratings on instructional effectiveness.  The major difference was their students’ achievement—the students in grades 4-8 of teachers who received NTC mentoring for two years outperformed their peers in both English/language arts and mathematics.  Those students performed better than expected on state standardized tests, representing gains of about two to three-and-a-half additional months of learning in ELA, and two to four-and-a-half months in math, depending on the student’s grade level.”
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Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)  
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.             
                   

 

Ed News, Friday, June 23, 2017 Edition

The ED NEWS

 A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

 Summer officially arrived at 9:24 pm,
PDT, on Tuesday
               Inline image 1

And now to the news.

“The more I learn, the more doors of information and opportunity are open to me.” 

LAUSD Approves New Budget        

The LAUSD board on Tuesday approved a $7.5 billion budget for the 2017-18 school year.  Although no teachers are scheduled to receive pink slips, library aides, clerks and other support staff are slated for lay-offs.  Approximately 150 central office administrative positions are also slated to be let go.  Due to seniority, many of them could bump down into school site administrative or classroom jobs.  The district’s enrollment is projected to continue to decline because of continuing inroads being made by charter schools population loss and other factors according to a story in Wednesday’s LA. Times “The budget, [Supt. Michelle] King said, puts more money into early learning, such as transitional kindergarten,” it notes, “and restorative justice, which seeks to end suspensions and expulsions through counseling.  Arts education also retains its funding levels, she said.” Check out the graph at the end of this item with enrollment figures for district and charter schools from 2010 to 2019 (projected).
Ed Tech
How is technology impacting the nation’s classrooms?  A short item in EDUCATION WEEK make use of 5 charts to illustrate the effect.  There’s no doubt ed tech is much more pervasive in schools than it was 5 or 10 years ago.  However, the article identifies 2 disturbing trends according to a survey of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress by the Education Week Research Center.  “Despite the promise of building ’21st century skills,’ such as creativity and problem-solving,” it suggests in pinpointing the 2 negative developments, “students report using computers in school most often for activities that involve rote practice.  And even as their classrooms have been inundated with new devices and software, the percent of students with teachers who say they’ve received training on how to effectively use such technology has remained flat, with a persistent divide between high- and low-poverty schools.”              The story above is part of a series from ED WEEK titled “Technology Counts 2017: Classroom Tech: Where Schools Stand.”  You can see an annotated list, with links, of all the articles in the series by clicking here.               Here’s another piece from the EDUCATION WEEK Ed Tech series (see 2 items above):  It’s a Q & A with 5 tech experts and what they see as “The Future of Classroom Technology.”  In response to a question about what tech will look like in the future, one expert remarked: “A key difference you’ll see is that right now we’re still largely using technology to deliver content.  It’s largely about presenting information.  It’s high-quality information and interactive—we’re doing some good stuff.  But a shift you’ll see down the road,” he continues, “is that tech will be used less for presenting content and more as a tool to design and create and explore and connect to other learners, to experts around the world.  It will be much more of a tool to enable new types of learning than it will be a tool for distributing content.”  Check out what the other experts have to say on the subject.  Their answers are quite interesting.
Charter Schools and Vouchers
Another charter school founder is accused of financial irregularities.  [Ed. note: Reporting on this stuff is getting tiring.  But I’ll keep doing it!]  This time the mischief is taking place in Florida.  The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union has the discouraging details.  “Prosecutors say Marcus May, owner of Newpoint Education Partners, is accused of misusing and co-mingling charter school money,” it explains, “as well as taking excessive payments and ‘kickback’ fees, and spending the proceeds on such things as cruises, numerous trips to foreign countries, plastic surgery, home mortgages and a personal watercraft.”  Diane Ravitch asks in regards to this story: “When will the citizens of Florida say ‘Enough is enough’?  When will taxpayers stop subsidizing frauds who open charter schools?”              Can anyone figure this next one out?  Stephen Dyer is a practicing attorney and the Education Policy Fellow at Innovation Ohio.  He writes, on his 10th Period blog, that vouchers in Ohio are “failing” and yet the state legislature has proposed expanding them to an even larger number of students in the Buckeye state.  Does that make any sense?  If something is demonstrably not working (Dyer provides ample evidence) why would anyone want to increase it?  Beats me!  “The Ohio Senate and House are considering bills that would expand voucher eligibility to 75 percent of Ohio’s school children, despite the overwhelming evidence these vouchers aren’t helping,” he contends incredulously.  “And, of course, current U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a huge voucher supporter, and President Trump’s initial budget calls for a $1.4 billion voucher expansion, with plans to move that up to $20 billion shortly.”              The ELC (EDUCATION LAW CENTER) and a prominent law firm are launching “Voucher Watch” to keep a close eye  on and oppose state and federal plans to create and/or expand voucher programs.  It’s key goal is to prevent the use of public, taxpayer dollars to pay for private and religious schools.  “Voucher Watch, located on the ELC website, will track voucher proposals in state legislatures and from the federal government,” the announcement states, “provide details on existing state voucher programs, and compile research on the impact of vouchers on student outcomes.”               Here’s a major surprise.  Newly elected pro-charter LAUSD board member Nick Melvoin tells EdSource that his main task is not to expand charter schools in the nation’s second largest school district.  Are the billionaire charter proponents who bankrolled his recent victory over incumbent board Pres. Steve Zimmer aware of this position?  What do they thing about it?  Buyers remorse, maybe?  The story has a Q & A with Melvoin in which he discusses his priorities for his new job.               There is no doubt that the Trump/Pence/DeVos team is pro-charter, pro-voucher and pro-“choice” and they love to talk up those policies whenever the opportunity presents itself.  However, as Carol Burris points out on Valerie Strauss’ “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post, there are a number of detrimental characteristics about charters that they’ll never mention.  Last summer the NAACP took a principled stand against the expansion of charters, calling for a moratorium until 4 key issues were addressed.  Burris revisits those 4 concerns and details how they are currently playing out.  Here are the four: (1) “Transparency and Accountability” (2) “Public funds diverted from public schools to charter schools” (3) “Student expulsion, suspensions and push-outs and (4) “De facto segregation.”               A charter school in New Jersey that was ordered to shut down on June 30, by the State Department of Education due to poor standardized test scores decided to stiff teachers for 2 months worth of pay.  Teachers at the Merit Preparatory Charter School in Newark work a 10-month schedule and have their pay spread out over 12 months.  Although the educators are not unionized they appealed to the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey for assistance in the matter according to a story on the NJ Advance Media website.  “Merit Prep opened in 2012,” it mentions, “and has about 381 students in grades 6-9, according to state data.  It employed about 40-45 teachers at the start of this school year, according to the AFT-NJ. . . .  The case underscores a lack of accountability in charter schools run by outside management companies, said Nat Bender, the AFT-NJ’s spokesman.”  How often does something like this happen at traditional public schools? Just asking.               Jeff Bryant, on the Educational Opportunity NETWORK reviews some recent stories about some of the “bad stuff” charters schools do because they seem to be able to get away with it.  He gets quite specific in citing examples!  Here’s one illustration from California:  “In Oakland, California, a state-based news outlet reports charter school enrollment practices ensure charter schools get an advantage over district schools when academic performance comparisons are made.  The advantage comes from charters,” he points out, “being able to enroll students who are more ‘academically prepared’ than students who attend district-run schools.  Oakland charters, when compared to public schools, also tend to enroll fewer students with special needs and fewer students who enter the school year late and are, thus, often academically behind.”
 
The Teaching Profession
Can anyone explain why the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) AND a number of charter schools in the nation’s capital seem to have high attrition rates among teachers?  Valerie Jablow, a DCPS parent who pens the educationdc blog, did some digging into the numbers and offers several reasons for the disturbing statistics.  “While we have DC city leaders lining up to express concern about DCPS teacher attrition . . . . maybe somebody in DC’s leadership circles,” she urges, “will work up a head of steam about the (apparently worse) teacher attrition in charter schools–you know, the schools that educate almost half of DC’s students?               Is the “war on teachers” heating up?  Nancy Flanagan, who writes the “Teacher in a Strange Land” column for EDUCATION WEEK, wasn’t sure until she ran across a survey put out by a parents union group in California that invited respondents to describe “poor” teaching they were familiar with and even to name individual “terrible” teachers who should be fired.  “I would argue that we have genuinely reached a tipping point, one where we’re struggling to get young people to go into teaching as professional career (as opposed to two-year adventure before law school).  Our state legislators are openly declaring that teaching is now a short-term technical job, not a career, and thus public school educators don’t really need a stable state pension.  That’s not only a war on individual teachers,” she protests, “but a war on teaching itself.”               The corporate “reformers,” privatizers and their political allies like to stress that schools need to be run more like businesses and collect and analyze reams of data.  Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, titles his commentary “Teachers Don’t Want All This Useless Data.”  “I always thought the purpose behind student data was to help the teacher teach,” he reminds readers.  “But it has become an end to itself. . . .  The point is not the data.  It is what the data reveals.  However, some people have become so seduced by the cult of data that they’re blind to what’s right in front of their eyes. . . .  The skill is no longer important.  It is the assessment of the skill.
 
Appointed School Boards?
Here’s another prime example of why billionaires should NOT be allowed to make education policy.  Does the name Reed Hastings ring a bell?  He’s the billionaire co-founder and CEO of Netflix.  You have to hand it to him, he certainly knows how to create and run an entertainment company.  But does that make him and his fellow wealthy philanthropists experts on schools?  He thinks so.  His latest “bright” idea?  Do away with elected school boards and  just appoint the members.  I’d be willing to bet he’d be first in line to pick who gets to sit on a school board.  And oh, by the way, whatever happened to that important concept we call democracy?  I guess it’s not relevant in this situation.  It should also be pointed out that Hastings has no problem funding pro-charter candidates for school board seats chosen by election.  Hastings delivered a talk to 4,500 enthusiastic attendees at the annual conference of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools held recently in Washington, D.C.  He suggested, in his remarks, that school boards be appointed like they are for most charter schools.  His speech and the ideas contained in it are reviewed on the EdSource website.  “Hastings . . . .says that school boards are the single biggest impediment to educational improvement in the United States,” the article notes.  “Elected boards, he said, are prone to instability and frequent change, upsetting educational progress in the pursuit of  short-term political agendas.  He holds up self-appointed boards like those governing nonprofit charter schools as a far better model.”
 
Betsy DeVos
And finally, does this just beat all?  Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos just appointed A. Wayne Johnson, the CEO of a private student loan company, to head the student loan division of her Dept. of Education.  Talk about the wolf guarding the hen house!  And to top it all off, why was that key bit of information about his current job cleansed from his résumé when his new position was announced?  Probably just a simple oversight!  I’m sure he’ll be able to clean up the student loan mess and reign in those unscrupulous for-profit schools that are taking advantage of unsuspecting students through predatory loan practices. BuzzFeedNews has this latest astounding bit of news.  “What wasn’t noted [in the DoE’s announcement] was Johnson is currently the CEO of Reunion Student Loan Services,” it mentions, “a detail confirmed by a company representative reached by phone on Tuesday afternoon.  Reunion originates and services private student loans, and offers refinancing and consolidation for existing loans.”
 
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Dave Alpert (Oxy, ’71)  
Member ALOED, Alumni of Occidental in Education
That’s me working diligently on the blog.             
                 

Ed News, Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The ED NEWS

 A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

“The worth of a book is infinite.” 
Betsy DeVos
Betsy DeVos and the Dept. of Education (DoE) are at it again!  Friday’s edition of the “Ed News” highlighted a story about how she was “delaying” (ending?) two Obama era regulations that would have curtailed abuses of student by for-profit colleges.  Now she’s announcing she’ll be cutting back civil rights enforcement at the nation’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities.  I guess civil rights are no longer a problem in this country according to Sec. DeVos.  The New York Times has the disappointing details about this latest action.  “The new directives are the first steps taken under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos,” it reports, “to reshape her agency’s approach to civil rights enforcement, which was bolstered while President Barack Obama was in office.  The efforts during Mr. Obama’s administration resulted in far-reaching investigations and resolutions that required schools and colleges to overhaul policies addressing a number of civil rights concerns.”  The announcement of this new direction came in a memo first published by ProPublica, which the Times reprints.               The Civil Rights Commission recently announced it will be looking into the civil rights practices of several federal agencies under the Trump administration including the DoE.  Maybe they could see what was coming (see above).  The “Politics K-12” column for EDUCATION WEEK describes this latest development.  “The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent agency charged with advising Congress and the President,” it begins, “has launched a two-year investigation into civil rights practices at several federal agencies under the Trump administration, including the U.S. Department of Education. . . .  The panel is particularly concerned that the Trump administration is seeking to cut the budgets of the civil rights arms of these agencies.  And it is bothered by statements by some cabinet officials, including U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, that the commission says may demonstrate that the Trump administration isn’t going to take civil rights enforcement seriously.  (DeVos is, in fact, the only cabinet official the statement mentions by name).”  [Ed. note: This article references the story from the N.Y. Times (see above).]               There’s lots not to like about Betsy DeVos and her education policies, but she’s having a positive impact on one area: more and more Democrats are joining progressive organizations and mentioning her name can be a boon for fundraising or signing petitions for certain groups.  The full story from POLITICO, titled “DeVos Becomes Digital Lighting Rod for Democrats,” requires a paid subscription but you can read the beginning of it by clicking here.  “First it was Karl Rove.  Then it was the Koch brothers.  Now, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has taken over as Senate Democrats’ top online bogeyman,” it begins.  “POLITICO’s Maggie Severns reports that anti-DeVos statements, petitions and especially fundraising emails have become a staple of Democratic digital campaigns in 2017.  Emails citing DeVos are raising money at a faster clip than others and driving engagement from supporters.”
School “Choice” and Vouchers
School “choice” doesn’t seem to be the solution in the Detroit Public Schools, according to Nancy Kaffer, columnist for The Detroit Free Press.  She uses as an example one charter school from the city.  ” Detroit is home to some excellent schools.  This city’s children are as bright,” she concludes, “and hardworking as any in Michigan. And every parent in this city loves his or her children as much as you love yours.  Those teachers, parents and kids need all the help they can get.  School choice?  Not helping.” Be sure to check out the cartoon video (1:11 minutes) about Betsy DeVos and her security detail that leads off the piece.  It’s a hoot!               Christopher Lubienski is a professor of education policy at the University of Indiana and Sarah Theule Lubienski is a professor of mathematics education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  They co-authored an interesting book titled “The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools” in 2013.  They’ve written a piece for EDUCATION WEEK discussing why vouchers aren’t working and they cite a number of research studies to buttress their premise.  “There is a disturbing disconnect between the predictable, negative effects that vouchers are having on students,” they maintain, “and the continued enthusiasm policymakers show for these programs despite the growing consensus that they are causing harm.  Do we, as parents, taxpayers, and voters, want to fund programs that elevate choice, but lead to detrimental outcomes for children?  Is choice a means or an end?  Do we want choice for its own sake, or do we want it to improve achievement for all children?”
 
PBS Airs One-Sided “School Inc.”
Friday’s edition of the “Ed News” highlighted a couple of items about the biased pro-privatization, pro-charter, pro-school choice 3-part series on PBS titled “School Inc.”  The janresseger blog comments on the program and discusses a number of other reviews of this unbalanced documentary.  “The Public Broadcasting System has been airing a three part documentary, School Inc., on the local PBS stations that have chosen to pick up the program.  It is a piece of libertarian propaganda,” she complains, “and makes no attempt to balance its advocacy for privatized and unregulated schooling.  The film was created and is narrated by Andrew Coulson, who, for ten years before his premature death of brain cancer at age 48, served as director of the  libertarian, Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.”               If you are so inclined, the DAILY KOS has put together a petition that you can sign demanding that PBS air two additional programs in response to their airing of “School Inc” (see above). “I am outraged that PBS would air a right-wing propaganda video like Schools Inc. that attacks public education,” the petition is worded.  “If you are going ahead with this airing, please broadcast Assistant Education Secretary Diane Ravitch’s response to the film—and air the documentary ‘Backpack Full of Cash.'”  [Ed. note:  The ALOED Educational Film Series is trying to arrange a screening of “Backpack Full of Cash” on the Occidental College campus in the near future.  It tells the story of the how the corporate “reformers” are making a major effort to privatize the public school system.  You can find more information about the film on the official website by clicking here.  Click on “See the Film” to view the trailer (2:24 minutes).]  Add you signature to the petition.  I did.               Amy Shuffelton, Associate Professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University, Chicago, has a scholarly review of the propaganda piece “School Inc.” and wonders why PBS would run such a series.  Her commentary appears on the Phi Delta Kappan website.  “The series breezes past evidence and arguments,” she concludes, “that contradict its commitment to unfettered free markets in schooling.  Valuable though it is for PBS viewers to encounter a wide range of ideas, it also matters that arguments take account of all the available evidence.”
 
The Teaching Profession
Some 1000 teachers at 32 charter campuses in Chicago voted to merge their organization with the militant CTU (Chicago Teachers Union) which represents teachers in the Chicago Public Schools.  An additional vote by CTU members will need to take place in the fall before the planned association can be finalized, according to an item from IN THESE TIMES.  “The decision to formally merge the two locals came in response to the election of Donald Trump.  Realizing that education and workers’ rights were under threat,” one union leader suggested, “leaders and activists from both locals felt it was the right time to pursue a formal merger.”                 Nationwide, 18% of teachers are nonwhite.  Just over 50% of students are in that category.  11 states have committed to reach parity between the percentage of nonwhite teachers and students by 2040.  California is not among them.  The “Teaching Now” column for EDUCATION WEEK looks at the issue and wonders if that goal is realistic.  “A recent study found that low-income black students are more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college if they have just one black teacher in elementary school.  Another study,” it indicates, “found that black students are less likely to be suspended, expelled, or placed in detention by black teachers.”
 
La Cañada High Shifts Start of School Day
Students at La Cañada High School will be able to get 45 additional minutes of sleep when the new school year begins in the fall.  The La Cañada USD board voted to delay the start of school from 7:45 am to 8:30 am as a 1-year experiment.  A short story in Saturday’s L.A. Times about the action will not put you to sleep.  “The decision to try the schedule change for one year was made last month,” it reports, “in a special meeting to let board members review data from a survey of district parents and students.  Responses indicated overwhelming support for pushing back the schedule to allow teens more brain-nourishing sleep, according to board member Brent Kuszyk.”
 
LAUSD Closed Down Two Charters So They Changed Names and REOPENED
The LAUSD board voted not to renew the charters of two Celerity Education Group Schools for questionable financial dealings and the dubious use of school credit cards.  They will close on June 30, but presto, change-o, they will REOPEN on July 1 in the same buildings, with the same principals and with most of the same students.  How did they do that?  THEY CHANGED THE NAMES OF THE SCHOOLS!!!  Neat trick.  The author of the School Data Nerd blog is “a classroom teacher with experience in LAUSD and Charter Schools” and she/he tells this incredible tale.  “The charter management organization that oversees several schools in Los Angeles has been dogged by controversy, primarily surrounding their finances and board structure,” the author reminds readers.  “In October, the LAUSD board voted to deny the charter renewal for two of their schools: Celerity Dyad and Celerity Troika. Then, in January, Federal agents raided their offices.  And finally, in May, the state board refused to accept the appeal to keep those two schools open, meaning they will close down for good at the end of this month.  But celerity, after all, means quickness.  [Ed. note: It actually does.  I looked it up.  Surprise].  And the leaders of Celerity sure are quick on their feet to fill this hole.  While those two schools will close down, Celerity will open two new schools on July 1, which were approved by the state board before all of this bad press.”   Check out the sidebar timeline which lays out for you how all this played out over the past 8 months.  UNBELIEVABLE!!!
 
Testing
Here’s a great example why standardized test results should NEVER be used for any high stakes reasons.  Educational materials and testing giant Pearson really messed up some test scores in Mississippi for about 1,000 high school seniors.  Things got so screwed up that some students were able to graduate even though their scores didn’t warrant them doing so and other students failed to graduate even though they scored high enough to earn a diploma.  This is not the first time Pearson mucked up Mississippi’s testing protocols so the state’s Department of Education promptly cancelled its contract with the company.  Mercedes Schneider, on her “EduBlog” at deutsch29, provides the troubling details of this fiasco.  
 
Teach for America
Just what exactly is Teach for America telling its new recruits about the state of public education today?  Gary Rubinstein, who went through the TFA program shortly after it began, writing on his Gary Rubinstein’s Blog, is rather skeptical of the message.  His essay is titled “What TFA Tells the New Recruits About ‘The System.'”  He critiques some of the training new cohort members receive.  He finds it of questionable value and lacking a measure of reality.  “To me these messages are not the sorts of things that are productive for new TFA corps members to be told to believe in their first days of institute.  I don’t think they should start with the premise that the system is broken,” he complains, “and a-la-Betsy Devos, it can’t get much worse, and then that the TFA teacher’s role is to somehow single handedly undo the deliberate decisions that have led to this.  Instead I’d rather they were told that teaching is very hard and that teachers all over the country are working very hard despite limited resources and that TFA teachers are going to fight alongside these other teachers and try to learn from them and hope that they can quickly become like those experienced teachers so they won’t increase educational inequity for their own students.”
 
Vision Impaired Students Take Part in National Competition
With so much negative news floating around the field of education these days, here’s a story to warm the cockles of your heart.  50 low-vision and blind student finalists from around the country and Canada, including 5 from California, gathered at USC on Saturday to participate in the Braille Challenge national competition for kids aged 6 to 19.  A great story in Sunday’s L.A. Times describes their experiences.  “During the day, students — divided into five age groups — proofread passages, interpreted charts and graphs, answered questions about selected readings, and transcribed other selections as quickly and accurately as possible. The younger age groups also completed a spelling test. . . .  To get to Los Angeles, the students first had to qualify in preliminary rounds, held January through March. In total, students from 22 states and two Canadian provinces competed in the finals Saturday.”
 
An Excellent Education
Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, discusses an interesting distinction.  He believes we are now trying to guarantee every student the CHANCE at an excellent education when we should really be guaranteeing them an EXCELLENT education, period.  “Imagine if, instead, we started from this proposition: every child in America will be provided with an excellent education,” Singer suggests.  “Sound impossible?  Maybe. But it’s certainly a better goal than the one we’re using.”  He explains what’s wrong with the current system and offers some hints how to attain his objective.
Charter Schools
Virtual, online charters have a poor reputation even from some charter advocates.  In South Carolina the online charters are a $350 million industry but more and more people are questioning just what kind of bang South Carolinians are getting for their buck.  An investigative piece in the Charleston Post and Courier discovers “disappointing returns” from the cyber charters in the state.  “Today, the state has five virtual charter schools that together enroll roughly 10,000 students, up dramatically from about 2,100 students nine years ago when the state’s first cyber schools opened.  A 2007 bipartisan bill fueled their growth by authorizing the state’s virtual schools program, and since then, taxpayers have footed the bill to the tune of more than $350 million.  Despite this hefty investment,” it points out, “online charter schools have produced dismal results on almost all academic metrics, according to state and district data.  On average, less than half of their students graduate on time.  At one cyber school, nearly a third of students dropped out last school year. Data from the S.C Public Charter School District, which oversees these schools, shows just one in two virtual students enroll for a full year. . . .  On almost every measure of student achievement, virtual schools lag behind their brick-and-mortar counterparts.”  That’s not much of a track record for an over third of a billion dollar taxpayer investment.  Keep in mind the online charter folks are the same “reformers” who want schools to be run like businesses.  If a private business was getting results that poor it would have been shuddered long ago.               A charter school in Washington, D.C., recently voted to become the first charter in the nation’s capital to unionize.  As the author of this article ironically points out, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School is named after the California champion of farm worker unionization.  Mike Klonsky’s SmallTalk Blog relates the latest developments.  “When you think about it, it’s kind of amazing that for all these years, there’s been schools named after the renowned union leader, Cesar Chavez, that resisted unionization and collective bargaining rights for teachers.  Detroit’s Cesar Chavez Charter School was unionized back in 2013.  I’m remembering back 10 years ago,” Klonsky recalls, “debating with anti-union charter school backers and ‘choice’ advocates.  I pointed out back then, the hypocrisy of naming a charter school after a great union organizer like Chavez, where teachers were working without a contract, without a real voice in educational decisions, or without union representation.”
 
An Idea for College Rankings
Karin Klein, an editorial board writer for the L.A. Times who specializes in education issues, has an op-ed in yesterday’s paper with some suggestions for how to improve those college rankings in order to make them more user friendly and precise.  Her commentary features a recent Gallup poll with results from 95,000 college dropouts to people who earned PhDs who reflect on their post-secondary experiences.  “Colleges should poll their own students and alumni about their educational experiences on a regular basis.  And so that the results can be compared from one school to another,” Klein recommends, “the questions and methodologies should be standardized across schools.  Fewer cash-strapped students would attend private schools if they knew they were about as likely to be satisfied with a public university at less than half the price.”  You at least have to check out the photo, at the outset of the piece, of the message a student added to her/his mortarboard during graduation from CSU Sacramento.  It’s a classic!
Steve Zimmer Reflects
And finally, Steve Zimmer’s 8-year, two-term stint on the LAUSD school board will come to an end on June 30.  He spent the last couple of years as president of the board and is also an instructor in the Urban Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College.  He was defeated in a run-off election in May by charter proponent Nick Melvoin.  He sent out an email to friends and supporters reflecting on his service to the LAUSD and his painful defeat in the election.  Diane Ravitch’s blog reprints his ruminations.  “This was no ordinary election.  We did lose and we did lose badly.  And the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) and their wealthy funders won and won big.  But they did not win fairly and they did not win honestly,” he observes bitterly.  “The CCSA effort was precise in its science and its analytics.  They recruited or encouraged a group of the right candidates to keep me just under 50% in the March primary and then they waged a vicious negative campaign during the run-off.  It was the most expensive school board race in the history of the nation.  CCSA had a singularly unique mix of unlimited money, unbridled ambition and the complete absence of any moral or ethical code.  It was a perfect electoral storm.”
                                                                                                                                              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, Friday, June 16, 2017 Edition

 The ED NEWS

 A Blog with News and Views of Critical Education Issues

“If you can read, write and think, you have liberated yourself 
from any darkness into the wonderful light.” 
Corporate “Reform” Series on PBS
WARNING: The Public Broadcasting Service (yes, PBS) ran a 3-part series titled “School, Inc.” that Diane Ravitch’s blog describes as “an error-ridden attack on public education.”  She was interviewed on the ‘METROFOCUS” program on the PBS affiliate, Channel 13, in New York City. about the pro-charter, pro-choice, pro-market based slant of the program.  You can view the Q & A (11:19 minutes by clicking here.  “It is puzzling that PBS would accept millions of dollars for this lavish and one-sided production from a group of foundations with a singular devotion to the privatization of public services,” she writes on her blog about the series.  “The PBS decision to air this series is even stranger when you stop to consider that these kinds of anti-government political foundations are likely to advocate for the elimination of public funding for PBS.  After all, in a free market of television, where there are so many choices available, why should the federal government pay for a television channel?”               The NPE (Network for Public Education) invites you to send an email (link provided) to the PBS  and contact you local station protesting the one-sided nature of the program “School Inc.” (see above) and suggesting some alternative programming the stations can offer to provide some balance.  “This month the Public Broadcasting System is showing a ‘documentary’ that tells a one-sided story of school privatization as told by Libertarian Andrew Coulson,” the NPE announcement states.  “This three-hour broadcast, called  ‘School, Inc.,’  airs nationwide in three PBS broadcasts.  It can be best described as anti-public education propaganda.”
 
School Board Elections
L.A. just experienced the most expensive school board race in the nation’s history as Nick Melvoin defeated incumbent LAUSD board Pres. Steve Zimmer.  Was that an anomaly or something that we are apt to see more of in the future?  Co-hosts Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider interview Rebecca Jacobsen, associate professor of teacher education at Michigan State, about the growing role of big money in school board elections.  The Q & A appears as a podcast (31:37 minutes), titled “Buying Influence: Big Money and School Board Election,” on the HAVE YOU HEARD website.  “I think I’m just constantly astounded at just how much is being spent,” Jacobsen responded to one question at the outset of the interview.  “You opened with the recent LA election, and the LA Times reported that $144 was spent for every vote cast on the reform side, and then on the union side it was $81 for every vote received by the teacher union backed candidate.  And I just think about how much money that is, you know I would have never dreamt that there would be a 15 million dollar school board election.  And so I think that’s probably one of the things that I find most surprising.
 
Betsy DeVos
Tuesday’s edition of the “Ed News” mentioned that Betsy DeVos would be delivering a speech to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools on Tuesday of this week.  Peter Greene, on his CURMUDGUCATION blog, offers an analysis of what she said.  Greene draws an interesting distinction between backers of charters and those who support vouchers.  I must admit I hadn’t really considered the fact those two camps are often at cross purposes.  He believes that if you look carefully at that speech she gave this week, she has come down firmly in support of the charter proponents.  He titles his commentary “DeVos Doctrine Reaches Out to Charter Fans.”  Interesting.  Leave it to Greene to ascertain that dichotomy.               Are Betsy DeVos and ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) BFFs?  ALEC is the organization of conservative state legislators and business representatives that meets to draft model bills for state legislatures.  Mercedes Schneider, on her “EduBog” at deutsch29, reports on ALEC’s invitation to have DeVos speak at their Denver conference next month and what it means.  “In Betsy DeVos,” Schneider suggests, “ALEC has a woman more than willing to deregulate a wide path leading from USDOE [Dept. of Education] to the corporate-profiteering doorstep.”              For-profit colleges have a poor track record of over-charging students who run up huge student loan debt and under-providing marketable academic and career skills.  The Obama administration issued a number of regulations to reign in the most serious abuses.  So. what does Sec. of Ed. Betsy DeVos do?  She is delaying a couple of the key rules that were set to take effect July 1, according to a story in the “Business” section of today’s L.A. Times. “The changes came as critics complained that for-profit colleges,” it reports, “which expanded aggressively starting in 2000, over-promised their ability to give graduates the skills that would land good jobs. Those students, often minorities or those with low incomes, in many cases were loaded up with federally backed and private student loans.”  [Ed. note: I wonder if this policy delay has anything to do with the fact that Pres. Trump ran the for-profit Trump University until it closed for alleged fraud?  Just asking.]
 
The Teaching Profession
Besides being a classroom teacher, have you ever contemplated becoming a teacher leader?  The “CTQ Collaboratory” column for EDUCATION WEEK has a piece titled: “Here Are Four Things Every Teacher Can Do to Become a Teacher Leader.”  Author Carl Draeger is a National Board-certified math teacher from Illinois who’s taught at the high school and community college level.  “With the growing political divide, a less than perfect public image of the teaching profession, and the financial realities facing our schools, numerous pressures have converged to raise challenges for educators across the nation.  As these and other pressures mount,” he begins, “there has never been a better time for teachers to insert themselves into the change equation by becoming teacher leaders.”
  
Charter Schools
With 4 charter schools closing in the Detroit area, guess who came to the rescue of these newly displaced students and their families?  You’ll never guess!  It’s the traditional Detroit Public Schools.  New DPS Supt. Nikolai Vitti is taking an aggressive approach (turnaround is fair play, as they say) to drawing back wayward students who left the district in the first place.  Chalkbeat Detroit has the details of this back-and-forth.  “Vitti personally visited an enrollment fair Tuesday at the closing Woodward Academy,” it reports, “in hopes of drawing parents to the district.  Lawn signs have popped up at city intersections asking parents: ‘Is your charter school closing?’ with a phone number urging them to call the district.”               Jeff Bryant, on the Education Opportunity NETWORK, discusses the differences between for-profit and nonprofit charter schools.  He also references the speech Betsy DeVos delivered last week (see the “Betsy DeVos” section above) in which she seemed to support charter backers over those pushing for vouchers and the discord between those two groups.               Eva Moscowitz’s Success Academy Charter School network in New York City is involved in another controversy.  This time it involves a 4th grade mother’s use of the word “damn” in front of some students.  Latasha Battle was banned from entering the school and she feared she’d be unable to attend her child’s 4th grade graduation unless she issued a formal apology.  A letter from the principal demanding the apology also hinted that she could withdraw her child from the school.  The New York Daily News picks up the story and its aftermath.  “The exile began a few weeks back when Battle and other parents and children were stuck standing outside the school in a downpour,” it relates, “because the school doesn’t open the building until 7:35 a.m. sharp.  When the doors finally opened, she admits that she angrily said, ‘It’s a damn shame the school made these kids stand in the pouring rain.’  That apparently infuriated Principal Brittany Davis-Roberti, who within hours fired off a caustic letter to Battle with the tone of an adult chiding a child.”               Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott has signed a $419 million K-12 education bill that could do serious harm to the state’s traditional public schools.  To make matters worse, he held the signing ceremony at a private Catholic school in Orlando.  Valerie Strauss, in her “Answer Sheet” blog for The Washington Post tells the tale.   “The measure, popular among many but not all Republicans and pro-school choice forces,” she writes, “sparked a tsunami of opposition from parents, school boards, district superintendents and unions.  They have argued that it will harm traditional public school districts, threaten services for students who live in poverty and curb local control of education while promoting charter schools and a state-funded voucher program.”  Strauss reprints a letter from the Florida Association of District School Superintendents to Gov. Scott explaining the problems they perceive in the law.  
 
The Basic Idea of an Education
Arthur H. Camins, science educator and education policy writer, explains “Why We Should Care About the Education of Other People’s Children” in a thought provoking piece for the HUFFPOST.  “It is time to care about the education of other people’s children,” he urges.  “Other people’s children are or will be our neighbors.  Other people’s children – from almost anywhere in the United States and beyond – could end up as our coworkers.  Other people’s children are tomorrow’s potential voters.  How, what, and with whom they learn impacts us all.  That is why we have public schools, paid for with pooled taxes.  They are designed to serve the public good, not just to suit individual parent’s desires.”
 
LAUSD Board Extends Supt. King’s Contract
With just 2 weeks to go before 2 charter proponents take their seats on the LAUSD school board, tipping the balance in their favor 4-3, the old board engineered a 2-year contract extension for Supt. Michelle King to run until the end of June, 2020.  A front-page story in yesterday’s L.A. Times reviews the political calculations involved in the decision.  “But before [the new members] could take office, the current board majority, which has concerns about unlimited charter growth, had one or two last chances to get things done.  The most daring move Tuesday,” it suggests, “was King’s contract extension.”
 
Personalized Learning
Would you like a peek at what computer-based, personalized (aka blended) learning looks like?  THE HECHINGER REPORT takes you on a tour of the Carpe Diem schools which began in Arizona in 2012 and have since expanded to Texas, Ohio and Indiana.  This week, one of the campuses in the latter state closed amid growing problems with the whole concept.  “One of the key weaknesses was how central the technology was at Carpe Diem.  Teachers didn’t have enough power over the learning.  And too little attention was paid to how students are motivated by the ability to pursue their own interests.  Others possible flaws,” the article recounts, “included a lack of flexibility for teachers (who had a tightly scripted day), too small a budget for in-person instruction, over-reliance on computers, a lack of extracurricular activities and a call-center-style layout that left students clicking away at screens alone for much of the day.”  It all sounds pretty unappealing if you’re a student or a teacher.  The photo of the classroom that accompanies the story is quite revealing of how education takes place.               Did the NEA (National Education Association), the nation’s largest union, just endorse personalized learning (see above)?  Steven Singer, on his GADFLYONTHEWALLBLOG, is aghast at an article the organization published on its website (link included) about how more schools are adopting the computer-based blended learning approach.  “This is not merely an examination of changing teaching practices.  It is a movement by tech giants,” he complains, “to further standardize and privatize America’s public schools.  This isn’t to say that technology can’t enhance learning.  But classroom teachers with any kind of experience know that simply plopping a child in front of a computer screen is a terrible way to do it.  It’s the equivalent of having all your questions answered by an automated voice on the telephone versus being able to ask questions of a living, breathing person.  And they have the gall to call it ‘personalized learning’ as if it were meeting all the needs of students one-on-one. It isn’t.”  Be sure to check out the “No Teacher Left Behind” cartoon at the bottom of Singer’s piece that illustrates his concern that a national TEACHERS union is promoting a technique that would make most teaching jobs redundant.
Billionaires and Education
The “Ed News” has recently highlighted several articles about the impact certain billionaires and philanthropists are having on school board elections.  Why are they so enamored of corporate “reform” and privatization of the traditional public school system?  Wayne Gersen, on his Network Schools blog, offers an intriguing answer.  If those billionaires and wealthy philanthropists can succeed in privatizing public education that would reduce the taxes needed to be collected to pay for that system and they would have to pay substantially less.  So it boils down to this simple formula: eliminate the public school system = much lower taxes for those billionaires and wealthy philanthropists.  Pretty straightforward, huh?  Interestingly, Gersen references several of the articles that previous editions of the “Ed News” have highlighted for you.
LAUSD Board Moves Closer to a ‘One-Stop” Enrollment Plan
The LAUSD board on Tuesday took steps to implement a more easily negotiated enrollment process for parents looking to select the best school for their child.  The new system carries a price tag of $24 million according to a story in yesterday’s L.A. Times.  “During a six-week window, parents should be able to fill out a single online application,” it explains, “to apply to three options for the 2018-19 school year: magnet programs, dual-language programs and a small permit program that allows minority students to attend a school in another part of the district if their enrollment would promote racial integration.  Other district options are supposed to be added over the following two years.”
 
School Closing Impacts Community
And finally, “Arkansas Community Shrinks After Its Schools Shut Down” reads the headline in a story for EDUCATION WEEK.  The elementary and secondary schools in Hughes, Ark., were closed in 2012 by the Arkansas education department for declining enrollment.  “Hughes’ former schools are among the hundreds of schools nationwide that close for a variety of reasons,”  it points out.  “But research suggests that such closures sometimes have a disparate—and disruptive—effect on communities.”  The article proceeds to describe the effect on the community that had a population of 1,441 based on the 2010 census.  The closures tend to impact low-income and minority towns more often than not.  The story features a study from the University of Arkansas that looked into what happens to communities in the Natural State when schools are closed.
Stay cool this weekend and into next week as extreme heat
is predicted for most areas of southern California.
                                                                                                                                              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.