October Comments 10/15/17

Effective School Improvement Measures

The national teacher organizations NEA and AFT initiate a nationwide effort to involve their locals in improving schools through teacher engagement. Our TURN:  Revitalizing Public Education and Strengthening Our Democracy  Through the Collective Wisdom of Teachers http://www.turnweb.org/attachments/196/Final%20Report%20-%20%20Our%20TURN_October%202017.pdf

9th grade student grade point averages has been found to be the most effective prediction of high school success. https://p.feedblitz.com/r3.asp?l=143044603&f=945019&c=5783331&u=27575903


A major report on the state of civics education in the US. The Republic Is (Still) at Risk and Civics is Part of the Solution http://www.civxsummit.org/documents/v1/SummitWhitePaper.pdf

Another study showing the low level of understanding of our democratic and constitutional values and the need for civic education and engagement in our schools. https://cdn.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Civics-survey-Sept-2017-complete.pdf

Civic education needs a makeover. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning_deeply/2017/10/civics_needs_a_makeover_now_how_keep_it_student-centered_stupid.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=learningdeeply

An debunking of the recent articles asserting that college students don’t value free speech. https://www.alternet.org/activism/college-students-and-first-amendment-what-right-doesnt-want-you-know?akid=16182.2679055.rBOPRh&rd=1&src=newsletter1083584&t=22

Some good news from California

There has been a huge expansion on the numbers of students eligible for the University of California and the California State University systems prepared by California educators. Applying eligibility rates to the number of students graduating from California public high schools gives an estimate of the number of students eligible, for each system. For UC, the 2015 eligibility pool was an estimated 60,000, up from 46,800 in 2007. The CSU eligibility pool was up from 114,400 in 2007 to 175,400 in 2015, an increase of over 50%. This reflects acceleration of a trend that had already emerged (in 2007, the CSU pool grew by 20% relative to 2003). http://www.opr.ca.gov/docs/RTI_Eligibility_Report_071417_FINALtoOPR.pdf

Charter and Voucher Travails

A community in Florida successfully organized to stop the giant Charter Schools USA from expanding into their district. http://www.gainesville.com/news/20171002/no-application-from-charter-school-giant

Researchers find charter schools enroll easier to educate students, spend more per student (after adjusting for student population), suffer from wide variation in spending with large sums from some sponsors and for-profits devoting significantly less to classrooms, and exacerbate segregation.https://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/incompatible-policy-preferences-comparability-expanded-choice/

Since 2007 the states that expanded charter schools the most also cut funding for the regular public schools the most. https://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/choice-as-a-substitute-for-adequacy/

How not to improve schools. The terrible results of Michigan’s reliance on charters and choice and regular school cutbacks. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2017/09/11/michigan-shows-nation-not-improve-schools/?utm_source=cerkl&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter-09272017&cerkl_id=497524&cerkl_ue=gn0yTs8anzhtPwP92BJYA4qgHtvxcGpagv9WsJZDr1A%3D

ProPublica and USA today slam a drop-out recovery charter program Ohio which has had terrible results and claimed funding for non-existent students but is still being funded by the state. https://www.propublica.org/article/for-profit-schools-get-state-dollars-for-dropouts-who-rarely-drop-in

The Ohio ECOT chain continues to be funded after numerous studies showing low-performance, fraud, and mismanagement. The latest scam is a $20 million overbilling of the state. Diane Ravitch writes:
Ohio legislators and the State Department of Education continue to fund the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, despite scandal after scandal.

Phantom students.

The lowest graduation rate of any school in the nation.

And now auditors discover that ECOT overbilled the state by another $20 million last year, by inflating the number of students it claimed to enroll.

Read the article to see what an awful “school” this is. Only 2.9% of its graduates earn a college degree within six years.

What an amazing trick can be accomplished with campaign contributions! Ohio officials should be ashamed. https://dianeravitch.net/2017/09/29/ohio-low-performing-ecot-overbilled-state-by-at-least-20-million-last-year/

In Ohio, school districts in the bottom 5% of districts are subject to charter school expansion. The problem: 9 out of ten charter schools which aim to replace them score worse than these low scoring districts. https://10thperiod.blogspot.com/2017/10/the-quiet-importance-of-ohios.html

An Arizona reporter published an expose on how a Tucson charter chain turned itself into a huge money-making machine using tax dollars. https://news.azpm.org/p/news-articles/2017/9/29/117489-public-schools-inc-when-public-education-turns-into-big-business/

Arizona charter advocate can’t believe the school she started got an F in new state grading. Maybe school grades aren’t that accurate. https://dianeravitch.net/2017/10/15/arizona-charter-school-graded-f-in-home-district-of-charter-booster/

Another article about the failure of voucher programs. This time in Washington DC. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-weakness-in-dcs-voucher-program/2017/09/01/09a61694-8cd5-11e7-84c0-02cc069f2c37_story.html?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.2564dd20365f

Study shows that Wisconsin voucher program has caused a rise in inequitable education funding in the state. http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/funding

Under a new state law Cleveland tried to stop a horribly performing charter school but was prevented by an overly charter friendly state Superintendent. https://dianeravitch.net/2017/10/15/cleveland-tries-to-block-low-performing-charter-authorizer-state-says-no/

A North Carolina newspaper reports that charter school students in that state are richer and whiter than the remaining public school attendees and that charters have become the enablers of white flight. http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article178022436.html

Parents in North Carolina organize to stop their schools from being in the state’s Opportunity School District as being low performing. The recently adopted state district is based on the Tennessee model which was an abject failure. https://dianeravitch.net/2017/10/02/north-carolina-forges-ahead-with-plan-to-copy-tennessees-failed-achievement-school-district/

The largest virtual charter school network in Oklahoma (a state notoriously lax in charter accountability) is growing rapidly despite extremely low test scores and graduation rates, high profits, and questionable accounting practices. http://www.woodwardnews.net/news/epic-charter-school-growing-at-breakneck-pace/article_6ec5541c-86f1-11e6-880d-bf916eee0dc7.html

Jeff Bryant reports on Betsy DeVos providing massive federal funding for low performing and largely unaccountable charter schools in Indiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico. http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/new-federal-grant-feeds-charter-school-gravy-train-in-new-mexico/  Also see this article revealing the notoriously lax auditing and accountability of fraud and illegal practices in  New Mexico charter schools. https://www.abqjournal.com/1071709/previous-audits-of-la-promesa-questioned.html

The mayor of Allentown, PA helps contributor turn a $32 million dollar profit (on an $850,000 investment) by expediting the rezoning of an abandoned building purchased by the contributor to a charter school. https://dianeravitch.net/2017/09/28/mayor-of-allentown-helps-real-estate-developer-make-huge-profit-by-converting-empty-building-to-charter-school/

Test-score teacher evaluation woes

After a judge finds the test-score VAM teacher evaluation program arbitrary and unjustified Houston abandoned the program. http://vamboozled.com/breaking-news-the-end-of-value-added-measures-for-teacher-termination-in-houston/  


Three lesson from a review of the technology research. http://hechingerreport.org/three-lessons-rigorous-research-education-technology/

Tech reporter questions whether the push for teaching coding is warranted. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/21/coding-education-teaching-silicon-valley-wages

Some teacher’s takes on how technology helps or hinders classroom instruction on Larry Cuban’s blog. (who has done a magnificent job of discussing technology issues) https://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/a-few-teachers-speak-out-on-technology-in-their-classrooms/

Another two teachers on the misuse of technology. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/hitting-the-return-key-on-education/2017/10/08/01215334-a932-11e7-b3aa-c0e2e1d41e38_story.html?utm_term=.fd2dfa46c8c2


Fred Hess reviews Dan Koretz’s new book The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better. Both point out major deficiencies in how tests are used. http://educationnext.org/five-thoughts-dan-koretzs-testing-charade/

Curriculum and Instruction

Joy Hakim has produced powerful science history books about the ideas and people that matter in science. https://www.google.com/search?q=joy+hakim+science+books&ie=&oe= and has updated her popular and award winning A History of US http://www.joyhakim.com/newsletter.htm

An insightful article on why fractions are so hard. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/talking-apes/201709/why-is-doing-arithmetic-fractions-so-difficult

Community Schools

Evaluation of community schools in NY finds positive results but implementation complexity. https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2017/10/11/five-takeaways-from-a-new-study-of-new-york-citys-massive-community-schools-program/

Policy and Politics

Social policy and economics are more important than education in economic mobility according to Jesse Rothstein’s new study reviewed by Rachel Cohen in the Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/09/education-and-economic-mobility/541041/  Mike Petrilli rebuts by arguing that just because social, geographic, and economic forces influence the ability of education to enable youngsters to escape poverty, for individual students who succeed it is still a potent way to get to the middle class. https://edexcellence.net/articles/education-is-still-a-sturdy-path-to-upward-mobility?utm_source=Fordham+Updates&utm_campaign=0749ff8ac1-20160918_LateLateBell9_16_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d9e8246adf-0749ff8ac1-71491225&mc_cid=0749ff8ac1&mc_eid=ebbe04a807

John Oliver explains why ALEC is such a malign influence on educational funding and policy (as well as other important social expenditures). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIMgfBZrrZ8


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