Comments Oct. 17th, 2018-Nov. 17, 2018

“Build and Support” news

Stanford Professor David Labaree: Public schools for private gain: The declining American commitment to serving the public good.

USA Today followed 15 of America’s teachers on a day of frustrations, pressures and hard-earned victories

Where in the world are teachers most respected?

NCEE: Nine building blocks of successful school systems.

Why is Canada a superstar in education? Low inequality, high teacher pay, and selective entry into teaching.

WestEd report on implementation. Our chief takeaways from three years of research: Implementation isn’t simple or linear. Implementation is iterative, recursive, and never-ending.

The Learning Policy Institute produces a first-rate, balanced report on school choice. Toward A System of Schools Worth Choosing

California districts make collaboration a key component of teacher evaluation

Improving teaching conditions goes hand in hand with boosting student success.

How teachers designed a school centered on caring relationships.

Michelle Pearson, a Colorado teacher of the year, argues for schools to stop neglecting social studies and civics.

Another plea for revitalized civic engagement education.

What does improvement science look like in the classroom?

School Poverty Rates: How High Before They Harm Students?

Correlation of poverty, race, and college preparation in five charts.

A must read article about how one district made huge gains in teaching reading by avoiding “balanced literacy” guessing strategies and explicitly teaching phonics.

The importance of phonics in developing foundational reading skills.

Sue Pimentel on starting a national conversation on reading instruction.

What literacy skills do students actually need?

Pamela Burdman report from Just Equations, The Mathematics of Opportunity: Rethinking the Role of Math in Educational Equity

Marc Tucker argues for better preparation of non-four-year college students.

MDRC’s review of Career/Tech programs. Finds evidence of success but raises several areas to improve.

Mike Rose proves test scores don’t accurately measure student growth.

Jack Schneider proposes broader methods of measuring schools performance. Also see Larry Cuban’s review: and Washington Post opinion piece

Another alternative way of measuring schools from Massachusetts

Connecticut’s richest women stops funding charters and instead invests in public schools

Peter Greene bemoans society’s failure to invest in schools.

Jeff Bryant: Advocating for public school support helped Democrats tremendously in Nov. elections in the Midwest.

Jeff Bryant on what school funding advocates should learn from the midterm elections.

Marc Tucker warns of teacher colleges’ performance. and

Strict immigration enforcement harms children.


Tribulations of “Reform” and Privatization policies

Diane Ravitch on Forbes article: How American is Breaking Public Education; By Forgetting the Cardinal Rule of Success (Treat your employees as professionals)

John Morrow reviews the failure of “reform”.

John Thompson: The Negative Effects of Corporate Reform and Disinvestment in Education

What happens when government services are privatized? The cautionary tale of the National Weather Service.

John Thompson: Is the Corporate Reform Goliath Truly Dead? Part One.

Report by C. Kirabo Jackson in the conservative Education Next finds that measures primarily emphasizing test scores and neglecting non-cognitive skills penalize the most effective teachers and schools. I find that, while teachers have notable effects on both test scores and non-cognitive skills, their impact on non-cognitive skills is 10 times more predictive of students’ longer-term success in high school than their impact on test scores. We cannot identify the teachers who matter most by using test-score impacts alone, because many teachers who raise test scores do not improve non-cognitive skills, and vice versa.

Review of a new book demonstrating the disastrous effects of closing 50 schools in Chicago in 2013. Eve Ewing’s new book, Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side, explores the blindness, deafness, and heartlessness of technocratic, “portfolio school reform”* as it played out in 50 school closings in Chicago at the end of the school year in 2013.

Another report on the detrimental effect of privatization in Chicago.

Examining the myth of accountability, high-stakes testing and the achievement gap

by Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig

Laura Chapman’s take on Ohio’s destructive use of report cards.

Take heart, NC teachers. You are more than you EVASS score.

Diane Ravitch reviews a report by William Gumbert on what taxpayers should know about privatization in Texas by Bill Gumbert and asks: This is an important collection of data about the funding of public schools and charter schools in Texas. Do you think that taxpayers know that they are funding two separate school systems, one governed by elected, accountable school boards and the other governed by private, self-selected, unaccountable school boards? Do you think that the public knows that district public schools outperform charter schools?

Peter Greene in Forbes magazine tells the sad story of how privatization and neglect destroyed education in Kansas City. and Tom Ultican finds a similar result.

Connecticut school district tried and rejected Summit Learning Program which focused on computer driven instruction.; New York students walkout to protest Summit Learning Program; an explanation of the walkout; and a letter to Zuckerberg by students explaining why the program wasn’t working.

Here two critiques of personalized learning, the first by a top teacher in AltSchools. and another by NPR

A three part series by Nellie Bowles in the NY Times article on how the rich are avoiding digital screens for their children while it is being foisted on poor children. Silicon Valley: “The Devil Lives in Our Phones.” Why Tech Experts Limit Access to Technology for Their Own Children.; In America’s Schools, the Rich Get Teachers, the Poor Get Computers; Why Silicon Valley Nannies Are Paid to Keep Children Away from Screens.

Michael Petrilli argues that sub-group differences may be overblown

Diane Ravitch reports on dangerous privatization efforts in San Antonio

Bruce Baker finds fault with New Orleans market reforms.

District letter grades mostly grade poverty levels.

Sweetheart deal or pure incompetence. Kansas will pay $270,000 to Teach for America for three teachers.


Charter School and Voucher Issues

The story of a successful community based charter school.

Jan Resseger: Bruce Baker’s New Book on School Finance Develops a Scathing Critique of Charter School Expansion

Sue Legg chronicles the detrimental history of school choice in Florida.;;;

NYTimes finds charter schools face backlash from a new wave of Democrats in NY and other states.

District encounters difficulties in closing a low performing charter school

Edd Doerr on the long history of voter rejection of vouchers.

Diane Ravitch warning to Arizona: Vouchers Do Not “Save  Poor Kids from Failing Schools”

Tennessee columnist rips arguments for vouchers.

Peter Greene asks “Is school choice at odds with community?

New Bedford opposes charter school expansion.

Charter founder in New Mexico goes to prison for embezzling millions

Charter operator in Florida receives 20 yr sentence for fraud and $5mil fine.

The promises charter schools don’t make.

The fraud in charter claims of 100% college acceptance rates.

Diane Ravitch: No Charter Waiting Lists! Charters Hire Firm to Market Their Brands NY city DOE busted for providing information on public school kids to outfits pitching charters..

Diane Ravitch: Stephen Dyer: The ECOT Scandal Was Even Worse Than We Knew

Another Ravitch article. Parents in Arizona use voucher money for personal not educational expenditures.

Comments 9/12/18-10/17/18


Build and Support Best Practices

Students, please take a humanities course. We will all benefit.

A massive set of research papers on what California education is doing right and where it needs to improve. Fodder for educational wonks.

A paper claiming that California’s Local Control Initiative was a success and that increased funding produced results.

The case for spending 32% more on California schools.

Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom’s cradle to career education plan for California.

New study finds that all growth of new non-BA good jobs has been in middle-skills jobs requiring community college/tech prep type education.

Marc Tucker: Trust is essential to improving school performance.

Want to improve schools? Look to teacher leaders.

How to transform a struggling school. Hint: It’s not the “reform” agenda.

The important role of principals’ supervisors.

Mike Smith on why it’s wrong to write off the Federal SIG program.

Steve Singer: the six biggest problems with data-driven instruction.

Why pre-school should not be like Amazon.


Reform Foibles

New report confirms that test scores almost perfectly mirror socio-economic status of students.

Closing 50+ Chicago schools in low-income areas was a disaster.

After seven years the failure of the state Tennessee Achievement District which took over local schools is official.

Jersey Jazzman defends NJ reducing test scores for evaluating teachers to 5%.

Larry Cuban on “personalized learning”—the difference between a policy and a strategy. and Also see Curmudgucation’s critique of personalized learning programs.

Learning from what doesn’t work in teacher evaluation—a review by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley

Diane Ravitch reviews professor Jim Miller’s article on the failure of corporate based “reform” and the power of a “build and support” approach.

Hey, Texas: Don’t Delete Helen Keller from the Curriculum: She Inspires Everyone!

The problems with college remediation policies.


Privatization and Defunding of Public Schools

I work three jobs and donate blood plasma to make ends meet. This is what it’s like to be a teacher in America.

Similarly, the NYTimes on what teachers are doing to make ends meet.

Jeff Bryant asks, “What happens when communities lose their public schools for good?  Michigan may soon find out.”

Report from the Network for Public Education: How the super-rich buy elections to undermine public schools.  Another review of the report by Curmudgucation;

Jeff Bryant on how wealthy people are destroying public education one donation at a time.

Diane Ravitch: The Guardian Reports on the Showdown Between the Koch Brothers and the Parents/Teachers of Arizona

Diane Ravitch posted: Arizona is hurtling back a century or more. The state superintendent of education has invited an anti-evolutionist to review the state science standards. The writer for the Arizona Republic, Laurie Roberts, is quick to spot frauds and quacks in the Ed world.

US shortchanged public schools by hundreds of billions of dollars.


Charter and Voucher issues

Jeff Bryant–Charter School Corruption is Changing Education Policies and Practices

Andrea Gabor—when school choice means no choice.

How charter school operators enrich themselves.

Ravitch: Hedge fund manager says that investing in charter schools is the easiest money he ever made.

Report on the malign effects of charter schools in Florida with suggestions for improvement.

Unbelievable. Diane Ravitch: Florida voucher fraud stiffs teachers and taxpayers and no one cares.

Diane Ravitch: If you want to understand where the big bucks are in the charter industry, look at the real estate deals. and Diane Ravitch blows the whistle on lucrative real estate deals by some charter schools.

What Should We Really Learn From New Orleans After the Storm? A Q&A With NEPC Fellow Bruce Baker

Disgraceful charter self-dealing in Arizona—a state with some of the most porous charter school laws in the country.

Diane Ravitch the bizarre story of a charter founder who went to prison for tax fraud with charter school funds still collects rent from the charter school.

Diane Ravitch: Texas: IDEA Charter Chain Plans to Saturate El Paso Region with 20 New Unneeded Charters

California’s new prohibition against for-profit charters plugs many loopholes but still more needs to be done.

The profiteering behind the effort to expand charter schools in Kentucky by Jeff Bryant.

Nevada Republicans promise to create more vouchers and charter schools if they win state races.

An investigation into Florida’s voucher schools finds alarming results.

Gary Rubenstein pens a rebuke to large donors to NY City’s Success Academy.

DeVos gives Delaware $10.4 million to expand charter schools despite lack of demand.

Two senators call for an investigation into online charter schools.

Charter school praised by the NYTimes is in academic distress.

Diane Ravitch on an article by Mitchell Robinson contending that Michigan charter schools have done more harm than good.

Virtual schools continue to grow in Michigan despite high failure rate.

The federal inspector general condemns DOE for lax supervision of charter dollars—again!

August/September Comments 8/12/18-9/11/18

Build and Support Discussion

Schools have a nobler purpose than just career prep.

The value of play in promoting democratic ideals.

Little known BARR program raises performance for 9th graders across the board.

Report on the advantage of early education and care around the world.

NY Times magazine report on how teachers improve student performance in Atlanta.

What does science say about sex-ed?

Teacher pay gap widening in the US.

American Progress report on the use of quality instructional materials.

Amazing results from an after-school program.

Aligned math curriculum successful.

Increased spending raises math performance.

Building a solid foundation to support quality teaching.

The state of Common Core reading in five charts.

Critique of STEM education neglecting the humanities.

Almost final version of fraction progressions by Bill McCallum

How teachers should use decodable texts in developing foundational reading skills.

Personalized learning’s weakest link.’s%20Weakest%20Link%3F&utm_campaign=August%202018%20CRPE%20newsletter

Is the decline in the humanities overstated?

Huge word gap based on socio-economics may not exist after all.


Reform Foibles

Report in Teachers College Record on Oklahoma A-F school rating system finds it is useless but invidious to schools.

Grading schools tends to reflect socio-economics not performance and some excellent schools receive low grades

Jan Resseger reviews Daniel Koretz’s The Testing Charade on how high stakes testing is ruining public education.

Andy Hargreaves: It’s time to scrap mandatory testing.

Everything important can’t be measured.

Pressuring schools to raise test scores has diminishing returns (and causes considerable collateral damage)

The racism behind state takeovers.

New Jersey trashes VAM.


Charter/Voucher Issues

California bans for-profit charter schools.

Study finds no test score gains for charters in Texas and negative impact on earnings.

This abstract summarizes their findings: “We estimate the impact of charter schools on early-life labor market outcomes using administrative data from Texas. We find that, at the mean, charter schools have no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings. No Excuses charter schools increase test scores and four-year college enrollment, but have a small and statistically insignificant impact on earnings, while other types of charter schools decrease test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings. Moving to school-level estimates, we find that charter schools that decrease test scores
also tend to decrease earnings, while charter schools that increase test scores have no discernible impact on earnings. In contrast, high school graduation effects are predictive of earnings effects throughout the distribution of school quality. The paper concludes with a speculative discussion of what might explain our set of facts.”

The mendacity at the heart of charter advocates touting charter “miracles”.

Charter school marketing guide shows how to hype charter schools.

How Chris Christie allowed charter entrepreneurs to rip off the state.

How an Arizona legislator/charter school operator sold his chain for millions or how to get very rich in the ed biz.

CEO of failing online charter school gets an $8.8 million dollar bonus.

Stephen Dyer: Ohio Charters Present a Picture of Incompetence, Ineffectiveness, and Malfeasance

Former educational official finds corruption in Ohio for-profit charter and on-line schools.

Charter scam in Ohio and Florida.

No accountability for failing charters in Nevada.

What are the real lessons of New Orleans after the storm? ;

Arizona pays 75% more for subsidizing private school students.

Oakland parent on how charters are harming traditional public schools.

NY Times opinion piece—Choice is the enemy of justice.

Democracy Prep closes its charter school in DC.

Chaotic first year at Success Academy high-school in NYC.

Zombie charter school in Philadelphia.


Privatization Efforts

Tom Ultican writes a guide on the movement to destroy public schools.

“Hijacked by Billionaires: How the Super Rich Buy Elections to Undermine Public Schools”

Jeff Bryant writes on the attempted take-over of Louisville’s public schools by dark money. and how Betsy DeVos is protecting sleazy for-profit colleges.

How Arizona is cannibalizing its public schools.

Little Rock: Please don’t steal our public schools and our democracy.

Specious arguments against the legitimacy of public schools.

Expose of the privatization movement.

Comments 7/28/18-8/11/18

Build and Support Best Practices

The crucial importance of high-quality curriculum and instructional materials in school improvement efforts.

Fordham Institute: Reading and Writing Instruction in America’s schools.

What makes a good school culture?

Five best practices of successful school-site professional development.

From the Learning Policy Institute Blog: Fifty Years of Pursuing the Promise of Equal Educational Opportunity by Arthur Wise.

Seven major issues with existing personalized learning programs by Peter Greene and a review by Larry Cuban

Charters, Vouchers, and Privatization

National Education Policy Center: Virtual Charter Schools are a Sham and Waste Taxpayers’ Dollars

Jeff Bryant: If you are against privatizing social security you should be alarmed at this new scheme aimed at public schools.

Our schools should not be for sale.

New Group Created by Rightwing Foundations to Promote More Charters in Cities by Chalkbeat, NY. The group is raising $200 million to promote the failed “portfolio” model.

An honest look in the New Yorker at one New Orleans charter school’s dilemma in facing the realities of a market driven system by a board member of the school.

Mitchell Robinson: Charter schools have caused more harm than good in Michigan. Instead of opening more of them here’s what we should do.

Another in the growing number of studies showing student’s receiving vouchers actually lose ground.

Diane Ravitch reports on a new Ohio organization formed to support public schools and fight “privatization, theft, and greed.

Ohio Taxpayers Charged $7.7 Million to Renovate Charter-School Building Valued at $2.4 Million

Diane Ravitch post an article by teacher Angie Sullivan: Everybody Is Laughing at Nevada and Its Failing Charter Schools.

Diane Ravitch reports on the buying and selling of failed charter schools to other large charter organizations. and a proposed charter school in a small rural area would devastate the existing the existing public school. Negative impact should be part of the criteria for whether a charter school is approved.

“Reform” Foibles

Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider podcast: Fear-Based “Reform” Doesn’t Work

The top ten reasons why teacher evaluation by student test scores has failed.

Jan Resseger reviews the AFT report on a decade of neglect of public schools by many states.

Jan Resseger comments on a PBS report on the massive closing of Chicago public schools causing death and destruction of student’s lives. Without a neighborhood school many students fearful of traveling to other areas just didn’t attend school.

Tom Ultican has had it with right-wing screeds against teachers and their unions.

Peter Greene: The fall of a self-promoting “reformer”.

July Comments 7/16-7/28


Build and Support

What states are doing to beef up civics education and engagement.

Civics overhaul in Massachusetts nears completion.

Principals say they want coaching not compliance from the central office.

Learning Policy Institutes review of Bruce Baker’s research report on How Money Matters for public schools.

AFT chronicles a decade of massive underfunding of public schools.

Diane Ravitch on how a problem based curriculum increases performance more then test prep.

Fragmented curriculum shortchanges students.

Fordham’s report on the state of reading and writing instruction in the US.

Seven things research does and does not reveal about AP courses.


Charter, Voucher, and Privatization Issues

Charter schools in Massachusetts temper “no excuses” approach.

Mercedes Schneider on the slowdown of growth of charter schools due to increased charter school closures.

Diane Ravitch on an insider’s view of the hoax of school choice in North Carolina.

Diane Ravitch on how the head of Ohio’s ECOT virtual charter chain embezzled millions, paid off legislators, and escaped the punishment due him.

NYC’s Success Academy’s  tribulations—huge salary for Moscowitz and 70% of its high-school teachers left this year.

Thomas Ultican on how charters and vouchers ruined public education in Milwaukee.

Deutsch29 argues that the almost all-charter school district in New Orleans is not a better way to run schools. and See also and

Jeff Bryant warns progressives about the renewed push for charter schools.

After adjusting for income private school students do no better than their traditional public school counterparts.  Private schools’ enrollment is more affluent.

Tom Ultican on how privatization is invading the San Juaquin Valley

Larry Cuban on how definitions of success have change over time.


Technology and Personalized Learning

Larry Cuban on the strengths and weaknesses of personalized learning.

Summit spreads its personalized learning curriculum.


Reform Foibles

Marc Tucker on the testing tragedy in the US. and how negative narratives not facts harm schools.

NAACP now opposes high-stakes testing.

The sad story of the failure of the Tennessee Achievement School District.

Carol Burris on the fiasco of the Gates teacher evaluation project.

Rick Hess slams Arne Duncan’s tribute to “reforms” as lessons not learned.

Comments 5/20-6/1/18 (June/July below)


Larry Cuban reports on the Democracy Prep charter chain which is emphasizing civic education.

Public School Support

Democrats unveil plan to support teachers.

Eunice Han finds that teacher unions result in higher teacher quality.

What it’s like to teach in an underfunded school.

Marc Tucker on comprehensive school improvement.


Perils of Reforms

Low or negative results for students of closed schools while large increases in community damage.

It’s time to revamp teacher evaluation.

The result of closing 50 schools in Chicago in one day: No measurable outcome improvements but widespread sorrow.

Larry Cuban on reforms and technology: skeptic or cynic.

Curriculum and Instruction

England finds organized phonics instruction to be crucial for disadvantaged children.

Charter and Voucher Problems

Peter Greene on the differences between charter schools and traditional pubic schools.

Jeff Bryant on why a proposed NC charter school plan should alarm the nation.

A new federal evaluation of the DC voucher program finds that students who used vouchers lost ground in math.

Marc Tucker finds no evidence that charter management organizations are a laboratory for more effective school systems.

Who is to blame for Ohio’s 1 billion dollar ECOT virtual school boondoggle?

A parent education advocate on what is wrong with charter schools.

June/July Comments 6/1/18-7/15/18

Public School Support

The Center for American Progress makes the case for increasing teacher’s salaries.

Low teacher salaries and how we got there.


Curriculum, Instruction, and School Organization

From me. If you get a chance, take a look at Paul Cobb and his co-authors’ book, Systems for Instructional Improvement. This book is a must read for what it actually takes to improve instruction at the school and district level and where things go wrong. Even though the context is middle grade math using a more constructivist math program, the lessons learned apply to any proposed strategy for improvement or use of materials. According to the Math in Common folks (a large, foundation funded math improvement effort in California) the  Cobb findings are consistent with what they have witnessed.

Here is a synopsis of the book:

This is the best, most sophisticated, and specific book I have seen on what it takes to build comprehensive and coherent instructional improvement which works at the school level. Their report is highly specific on issues of translating theory into practice. The project distills all we have been discussing on school implementation of instructional improvement, team building, equity, and continuous improvement. This book should be read by all  of us who are interested in implementation 2.0.

The setting is a four year effort (MIST) in four districts, with an additional four years in two of the districts, focused on middle grades math using Connected Math in three districts and as a supplement in the fourth. (The lessons learned should apply to other materials, other grades, and other subjects).They go into detail on building a coherent strategy of teaching improvement resting on (1) effective and ineffective pull-out professional development on deep math understanding and practice, pedagogical understanding and practice, and beliefs that all students can master and learn from posed problems and how to facilitate that; (2) effective and ineffective coaching; (3) effective and ineffective collaborative team building; and (4) teacher advice networks all reinforcing each other. They examine what worked, what didn’t and why, and what got in the way of improvement efforts. They also delve into the districts role in supporting these efforts especially resources, time, principal (and teacher leader) leadership, and line/staff/departments coordination..

The book is also full of the latest relevant research and where new research needs to occur. It is consistent with the findings of the Math in Common folks (a large California math improvement effort).

My only concern is how complex strategies need to be to produce results, how difficult it is to make these specific strategies effective, and how to develop the expertise and commitments to pull this off. This project, MIST, had top-level researchers and practitioners, a long time period, and continuity of district support and still a great many of the efforts were not that productive. Let’s get some of or group to read this before the presentation by the MIST people, and the set a time for more thorough discussion of how these ideas could be operationalized.


In the same vein an article arguing that investment in teacher professional development is the best way to improve math scores. and challenging myths about learning resulted in improved performance (as the Cobb book finds also).

Michael Petrilli argues for the importance of a strong curriculum and effective instructional materials as  key elements in improving schools.

State school chiefs advocate for a strong curriculum.

Morgan Polikoff agrees and argues for extensive use of quality instructional materials. The Challenges of Curriculum Materials as a Reform Lever.

States should collect more data on what curriculum districts and schools are using.

English learners excel after becoming proficient.

NPR: Let’s Stop Talking About the 30 Million Word Gap.

Pam Burdman’s new organization for effective alternative pathways for high/school mathematics.

Teach statistics not calculus.

How a school in Chicago boosted math scores by focusing early on math understanding and language.

Marc Tucker question’s the effectiveness of unrestricted school autonomy.

Marc Tucker reviews the new British Columbia curriculum and finds much to praise.

High-school grades are a better predictor of college performance than SAT or ACT scores.

Julian Heilig argues that community schools are a tried and true alternative to charter schools.

A great new site for free open education materials.   They are offering a very effective 6-8 math program from Illustrative Mathematics which was the highest rated math program ever reviewed by EdReports.



Democratic core values belong in schools.

A major report on civics in schools by the Brown Center.

The Democracy Project report: Overwhelming numbers of Americans believe that democracy is the best form of government but most believe it is getting weaker.

Parkland student’s activism traced to strong civics program.

MindShift on how social studies can help young kids make sense of the world.


Charters, Vouchers, Privatization and Defunding of Public Schools

A major new study published in Education Researcher finds that private school performance is no better than public school performance when adjusted for demographics.

Jeff Bryant reports on which states are abandoning public education.

Diane Ravitch’s op ed in the Washington Post on how charters are leading to an unhealthy divide in US education.

Jan Resseger reports on how charter schools deplete public school revenue in Ohio.

A similar article in the Washington Post on the decimation of public education in Indiana.

A similar report on how charters are eroding San Antonio’s public school system.

Jeremy Mohler: Charter Schools Are NOT Progressive, They Are a Way to Disinvest in Public Schools

Who is behind the movement to privatize our public schools?

Schneider on the myth of New Orleans educational renewal.

Anti-union forces are attempting to convince teachers to drop the union membership.

Lessons from the failure of vouchers in Chile.

Joanne Barken on death by a thousand cuts to public schools by the privatization movement.

The terrible effects of Mississippi’s failure to adequately fund its public schools.

Rob Levine argues that Minnesota charters are a costly failure after 25 years.

Jeff Brant warns of a disastrous charter plan in North Carolina.

Gary Rubenstein demolishes the NY city Kipp charter school’s claim of 96% graduation finding it to be more like 56% when you take into account attrition of students who were never replaced. He also finds that the highly touted Success Academy graduated only 16 students out of an original 73 students in 2006 (they don’t backfill) through attrition and being held back.

Also, Jeff Bryant comments on the unsuccessful massive financial support for Gavin Newsom’s opponent by wealthy charter supporters.

Diane Ravitch writes about how Michigan public schools were some of the best in the nation before the privatization and charter movement sunk them to the bottom.

An op ed supporting giving districts the right to refuse charters if they will cause substantial harm to the district.

The Hechinger Report finds that charter schools suffer from higher levels of segregation than nearby public schools.

Diane Ravitch reports on a the embezzlement by the headmaster of a  religious voucher school in North Carolina. She states: North Carolina gives out public money to private and religious schools with little or no oversight. Do not be surprised that some people take advantage of the open cash register and help themselves to taxpayers’ money that should have gone to public schools.


Failed reforms

States are moving away from flawed teacher evaluation systems.

Audrey-Amerein-Beardsley on why New Mexico’s teacher evaluation system based on test scores has been such a failure.

Chalkbeat reviews new Rand report that shows that the $575 million spent by the Gates foundation on teacher-evaluation was a bust. From the report Sites implemented new measures of teaching effectiveness and modified personnel policies accordingly but did not achieve their goals for students

Education Technology/Personalized Learning

Stephen Sawchuk argues that SF’s bold approach to detracking algebra shows promise.

Authors argue that we have an obligation to test educational technology before widespread adoption.

 Larry Cuban reviews a new School of the Future based on a technology first approach in Philadelphia which gradually shifted to using technology as a supplement to a regular academic program. At one point this school functioned very much through technology….Where our innovation is now is to get back to the fundamentals of what an educational academic program is supposed to be like, and how you get technology to mirror or augment that.

Dan Willingham’s critique of the bible of personalized learning “The End of Average”

Questions about the effectiveness of personalized learning in New Orleans.

Tom Ultican reviews the shabby story of IReady.






May Comments 5/19/18

Build and Support Issues

Stephanie Hirsh from the Learning Institute on the importance of professional learning and team building to be centered on curriculum and instruction.

The value of multiple math pathways for students.  and Pam Burdman et al.

Can schools successfully encourage civic engagement? Democracy Prep charters say “You bet”. Robert Pondiscio reports on how Democracy Prep is emphasizing civic engagement. and see Some stats from the reports: Their civic education program led to a statistically significant 24 percentage point raw increase in voter turnout in 2016.These results are even more astonishing considering that their alumni are predominantly young (18-22), first-generation college students from low-income families of color–historically some of the least likely voters of any demographic group. 

For a more skeptical view see Larry Cuban’s take. While impressed by these voting stats he raises questions about Democracy Preps “no excuses” philosophy failing to teach democratic discourse.

A school in Arkansas is combining civics and history for eighth graders.

Marc Tucker reports on the status of the publishing industry. and the value of a process reform approach over individual programmatic solutions.

Are educational videos helping poor students?

A balanced look at privacy issues with technology in schools.



Trials and Tribulations of Charters, Vouchers, Virtual Schools, and the “Reform” Agenda

Jeff Bryant provides chapter and verse on how large-scale charter expansion decimates traditional public school funding even after taking into account money saved by educating less students.

In the same vein a new Brookings report finds that charter school growth puts fiscal pressure on traditional public schools.

Similarly, a report from In the Public Interest documents how charter schools drain enormous funds from local schools districts. Here is a summary of the report on how charter schools ruin local school district budgets.; Another comment on that and similar reports by Derek Black. Charter Schools Remove Tens of Millions in Funding from Three California Districts, While Severely Under-enrolling Students with Disabilities A quote from Black:

Yesterday, I posted on Helen Ladd’s path-breaking study of the cost of charter schools to local school districts in North Carolina.  She found an “average fiscal cost of more than $3,500 for each student enrolled in charter schools.”   Today brings more troubling factual findings out of California. In the Public Interest finds that “Oakland Unified loses $5,643 a year per charter school student while San Diego Unified loses $4,913 a year and East Side Unified loses $6,000 a year.”

Diane Ravitch reports on how the “privatization” mind-set, top down dictates, and Trump administration back-room deals on top of neglect have devastated Puerto Rico’s public schools.

John Thompson explains how “reformers” attempt to excuse the failure of educational reform.

Diane Ravitch quotes Robert Shireman of the Century Foundation on how conversions of for-profit schools to non-profit status are a sham.

Derek Johnson on how aggressive expansion of charter schools is harming traditional public education.

The National Educational Policy Center issues its sixth report on virtual schools/blended learning finding major deficiencies in performance and accountability.

Three articles on major problems with the highly touted Basis charter school chain in Arizona. Carol Burris finds few black and brown students and large scale dropouts from grades 7-12 inflating scores and graduation rates. Craig Harris finds inordinate profits and high living expenditures by the couple who own it. and Mercedes Schneider asks whether Basis charter schools are a pyramid scheme as they keep taking on new debt to fund their life-style.

Another example of massive attrition rates before graduation resulting in a reduced, rarified group—this time at Yes Prep. The kicker with this charter is that they require college acceptance to graduate and then tout a 100% college attendance of the few who are left.

Similarly, Diane Ravitch has a devastating article about the spurious claims of the darling of the media—Success Academy. and the media’s neglect and false narrative about the actual high performance of poor students at many public schools. According to Gary Rubinstein, the senior class at Success Academy’s Liberal Arts High School has 17 members. When they started in kindergarten, there were 73 students. By the end of eighth grade, there were 32 students. Four years later, there were 17, all of whom were admitted to college.Gary wrote recently that we can’t be sure of the real attrition rate, it might even be worse than stated above, because some of the original 73 might have been excluded and replaced; unlike real public schools, Success Academy does not admit new students after third grade.

Tom Ultican warns of the cabal trying to privatize and destroy public education in Oakland.

Peter Greene writes on how Spellings and Duncan Get It Wrong.

Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago which educates one out of 10 high-school students in the district has come under withering criticism for harsh discipline practices including refusing menstruating girls permission to leave the class for the bathroom in emergency situations.



Privatization and the Results of Defunding Public Education.

United States teachers are among the worst paid in the developed world.

Study shows teachers on average spend about $500 of their personal money for classroom supplies.

Linda Darling-Hammond on what the teacher strikes are about.

A guide to the corporations and groups lobbying to defund our schools who are hostile to striking teachers.

ALEC and its corporate sponsors plan to privatize and defund public education.

April Comments 4/26/2018



Build and Support Successes

Larry Cuban reports on Richard Whitmire’s (a strong proponent of trendy charter schools) visit to one of the best charter schools in the nation which eschews “no excuses” and blended learning in favor of a broad curriculum, student engagement and support, and active instruction based on the research on and experience of the world’s highest performing schools, districts, and nations.

Contrary to flat NAEP growth in the rest of the country California’s NAEP 8th and 4th Grade Reading and Math Average Score has grown substantially and has posted the top growth scores in the country for the years for 8th grade reading and math and 4th grade reading. It was weak in 4th grade math but still gained. for 2009-2017 (the Common Core and Brown administration years using a base line of 2009). California has the most second language students, the most diversity, and high levels of low income children compared to other states

Reading: 8th grade: First in the nation +10 and now within 2 points of the national average.

4th grade: Tied for 2nd nationally +6  and now within 6 points of the national average.

Math: 8th grade: Tied for second nationally +6, Now within 5 points of the national average.

4th grade: Tied for 15th in growth +1. 7 points behind nationally.

Some subgroup info:

Hispanic growth scores for reading 2009-2017; 8th grade reading +10; 4th grade reading +8

Black: 8th grade +7; 4th grade -1!!!.

Hispanic growth scores for math: 8th grade +6; 4th grade +4

Black: 8th grade +5; 4th grade +1!!

Two California Urban Districts under the Trial Urban Districts Assessment (TUDA).

LA: 8th grade reading average score growth 2009-2017. +11.  1st in nation.

4th grade reading: +10;  1st in nation (Tied DC)

8th grade math:  +8 (Tied for 3rd)

4th grade math: +1 (Not good—tied for 7th)

San Diego

8th grade reading: +10. (2nd nationally after LA)

4th grade reading: +9.  (tied for 2nd nationally)

8th grade math:  +3 (tied for 7th)

4th grade math +1 (tied for 7th)

California also made substantial jumps in NAEP rankings of average scores adjusted for poverty, diversity, and special ed.

In 8th grade reading we are now 14th in the country up from the low 40’s as recently as 2013. In 4th grade reading 19th in the country up from the high 30’s in 2015.

In math we are 22nd in 8th math from the low 40’s as recently as 2013.34th in 4th grade math up from the low 40’s in 2011 and 2015.

Some confirmation of these results is provided by our most recent SBAC 11th grade reading scores. 60% now reach the “proficient” level—a level consistent with 4yr college work and the NAEP proficiency level which compares favorably to the other SBAC states that are much less diverse. To me, getting 60% of our diverse students to that level is impressive and a tribute to the hard work of our educational practitioners and policy direction. On the other hand, the state is much weaker in SBAC math performance at 11th grade (although improving) and the other testing grades. Math will be a major area of subsequent improvement efforts

What caused these increases? There is no certainty yet, but my candidates are the slow roll-out of the common core with plenty of opportunities for buy-in and understanding, the wide-spread policy coherence and educator agreement in the state grounded in a positive build and support, empowering approach rather than a more punitive strategy, a growing shift at the state and district levels from compliance to collaboration and support, the broad agreement on and willingness to use the highly-respected California curricular frameworks explicating common core and putting instruction at the core of improvement efforts, and a commitment of local schools and districts to team-building around deeper learning, professional development, continuous improvement, and adoption of quality materials. And, finally and crucially, a local control funding shift which provided significantly more funds especially for harder to educate students.

Important note: NAEP proficiency does not mean grade level but is equivalent to being prepared for a 4yr college. Many commentators suggest it is A, A-, or B+ work. See the comment by James Harvey

Peter Greene discerns a move back to the importance of a steady build-up of content in all the disciplines to effective reading comprehension.; and

Experts say that failure to attend to the build-up of knowledge through literature, history, science, humanities etc. is one of the major causes of flat NAEP scores.

Similarly the Knowledge Matters campaign makes the same point:

NAEP reading scores stagnant, time for a reading reset, say top reading experts
WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 10, 2018. Results from the biennial National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are “stubbornly flat,” said Carol Jago, Vice Chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the NAEP tests. She spoke [by video] at the official release of the 2017 NAEP scores, which showed that reading scores, generally stagnant for years, fell a point at 4th grade, leaving the 4th grade scores where they were in 2013; and rose by just 2 points at 8th grade, leaving those scores still a point behind where they were in 2013.

A panel of reading/language arts experts, speaking at the release of the results at the National Press Club, called for major changes in how reading is taught.

Panelists highlighted the need to focus reading instruction on increasing student knowledge of science and social studies topics. Cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham said, “once students are fluent decoders, the key determinant of comprehension is what a student already knows about a topic.” He said our challenge is “to assure that every child is exposed to a curriculum that is knowledge-rich and appropriately sequenced.”

Ian Rowe, CEO of New York City’s Public Prep charter school network said, “what keeps us up at night,” is figuring out how to build students “knowledge foundation.” Providing “access to a broad base of background knowledge empowers students to understand” what they’re reading.

See But how students gain that background knowledge, particularly weak readers who are frequently put into “easier books,” was a topic of central importance for the panel.

Tim Shanahan, a longtime reading expert and professor emeritus at University of Illinois/Chicago, called for doing away with the practice of assigning students to books at their “level.” He described the popular practice, which he said is used in the majority of elementary schools, as harmful. “We believed students would only be able to read if they were put in easy texts, and it became the dominant way of teaching reading.” More current research shows that, “At best, this has no positive effects and at worst, it’s been found to do real damage—to hold kids back. “

Dr. Marilyn Adams, of Brown University, said that new cognitive and neuroscience research “destroys the underpinnings of our traditional view of reading development” which drive current practice. According to Adams, the new research indicates that “the widespread practice of giving students easier texts when they’re weaker readers serves to deny them the very language and information they need to catch up and move on.”

The Knowledge Matters Campaign issued its own statement highlighting some of the same evidence the panelists cited. Panel moderator Susan Pimentel called for “a greater focus on deliberately building students’ background knowledge of the world, so they can comprehend the texts they read,” calling such an approach “the best hope for improving reading results.” Building on Pimentel’s perspective, KMC Executive Director Barbara Davidson called for a “reading reset.” For a copy of the Campaign’s full statement, see

Civic education and engagement is crucially important for children of immigrants.

A useful site for civic engagement resources. Useful materials on civic engagement for educators.

News Literacy Project helps students tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Effective English instruction is crucial for math performance for English-as-a-Second-Language children.

A powerful statistics alternative to Algebra 2 for non-stem students by Pam Burdman.

Willingham proposes that the latest research on how students learn inform teacher training.

Larry Cuban asked top teachers how they define success.

My students are successful in future classes of the same subject.

97% of the teachers agreed and strongly agreed with statement.

My students are consistently engaged in content that is intellectually challenging.

96% agreed and strongly agreed.

Other teachers whom I respect give me positive feedback on my teaching.

96% agreed and strongly agreed.

My students tell me that they enjoy being in my class and having me as a teacher. 94%

My students perform well on assessments I have created. 94%

My students consider me someone they can trust and confide in. 94%

My students consistently behave in a way that meets my expectations.93%

My school leaders give me positive feedback on my teaching.93%

My students’ parents compliment me on my work with their children.92%

My students go on to college at high rates.88%

My students perform well on my state and district standardized tests.81%

New federal report shows crime in schools dropped significantly in the last two decades.

Just 3 percent of students ages 12 to 18 reported being the victim of a crime at school during the 2015-16 school year, the most recent period for which data is available – a big drop from the 10 percent of students who said they were the victim of a crime two decades before.


“Reforms” and Public School Funding Cutbacks Hurt

A New York Times articles in which teachers chronicle dreadful conditions of public school buildings and shoddy materials. 25-Year-Old Textbooks and Holes in the Ceiling: Inside America’s Public Schools

Loss of school libraries is harming reading performance.

Who suffers from state and local tax-cut packages for attracting companies—public schools.

Indiana superintendent explains how voucher funding is draining funds from every public school.

Jeff Bryant on why teacher uprisings may hit Blue states too.

Most Americans think teachers are underpaid and here is a chart to prove it.

Rick Hess, an intellectually honest “reformer” finds fault with the “reform agenda” and the rhetoric in support of it.

Another Hess piece reports on how an uncritical “reformer” rooting section was led astray by DC schools

Another example of failed mayoral control of schools, this time in Washington, DC. i

Another research paper showing teacher evaluation using Value Added Measures based on test scores doesn’t work.

Why giving letter grades to schools is a bad policy. This school in Arizona is functioning well but received a demoralizing letter grade from the state.


Charter, Voucher, Virtual-School Travails

Teachers at a no-excuses school complain of “dehumanizing” students.

Russ on Reading argues that expanding no-excuses charters is a bad idea.

Success Academy, a charter chain in NY City claims high success rates but only a few students of the original cohorts survive and that small group is then compared to the much larger cohorts in traditional public schools. Success Academy opened in 2006 with 156 students — 83 kindergarteners and 73 first graders.  Now, eleven years later, they have their first graduating seniors, though just 17 of them.  In my last post I wondered what can be learned about the Success model by examining who exactly those 17 students are.

A big question, and one that might never be answered, is how many of those 17 students were actually among the original 73 first graders.  Since Success allows transfers up until 4th grade it is possible that some of those 17 students transferred in which would make their attrition rate even worse than the 77% that it is at a minimum.

Texas Education Agency forces conversion to charters of Houston public schools serving Black and Brown children by threatening the district with a takeover in the face of evidence that such strategies don’t work but cause severe community collateral damage.

Diane Ravitch quotes a report by Guy Brandenburg on the large number of schools (47) in Washington, D.C. which have “never opened at all, even though they had raised funds, wrote curricula, were approved by the board, hired staff, began enrolling students, but never actually got their act together to hold classes and teach students. This list also leaves out several schools where the founders were found to be using their institution mostly to enrich themselves illegally, and the charter was transferred to another institution.”

Another comment by Diane Ravitch on a study by researchers at the University of Indiana who found that Indiana students who enroll in charter schools lose ground academically for two years.  About half of them subsequently return to the traditional public schools. The remaining students then do a little better.

A third comment by Diane Ravitch on how a NY State audit found that the self-dealings of the Gulan charter schools by leasing buildings from a controlled entity wasted $3 million.

Ohio charters spend more per pupil but obtain worse results than traditional public schools.

Six years ago an expose in Maine detailed the corruption surrounding virtual schools.

March Comments 3/26/18

Successful “Build and Support” Efforts

Diane Ravitch quotes a beautiful statement about the importance and purpose of public schools by Joanne Yatvin who is president of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Far too many politicians and ordinary citizens have forgotten that the purpose of American education is as much to support a democratic society, as it is to prepare students to be active citizens, in charge of themselves and their communities. They have also forgotten that the proof of the pudding is not how well our students’ test scores compare with those of other countries but the proportion of American citizens who are leading intelligent, productive, and caring lives.

Full text here.

Mathew DiCarlo argues for the importance of building social capital in schools as key to improving educational performance.’-and-school-leaders

Massachusetts leads the way for career/tech education.

A large study reported in Scientific American demonstrates long-term benefits from pre-school education.

Some of the best ways to attract minority teachers.

83% of America’s top science students are children of immigrant parents—another reason why Trump’s immigration policy is harmful to the US.

Jeff Bryant on why the schools have become the epicenter of resistance.

Ten principles of effective assessments.

Michael Petrilli proposes changes in high-school graduation pathways to avoid gaming the system and short-changing many students.

Diane Ravitch’s blog hosts Parents Across America on the dangers of too much screen time  and media professor Douglas Rushkoff on a sane social media policy for schools.


Charter, Voucher, and On-line Travails

An important article by Johann Neem author of a history of public education in the US, Democracy’s Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America, reminds us of the broader purposes of public education and questions whether extensive charter expansion subverts those purposes.

New study shows charter schools hurt public school funding.

For example, the largest district in the study had charter enrollment of about 15 percent of the student population. The fiscal impact there was “in excess of $700 per public school student,” about $25 million total. The other five had lower charter enrollments, varying from 3 percent to 14 percent. While the impact was lower, it was still “significant.” In a couple of the districts, for example, the loss was between $200 and $500 per student.

A major report summarizing voucher research finds that on average vouchers cause a one-third of a year drop in performance.

A cost-benefit analysis of vouchers in Indiana shows large negative results.

After charter advocates claimed that low test scores justified closing public schools and expanding charters, react to findings that charters on the whole don’t increase test scores, by now saying that test scores don’t matter.

A heartfelt plea to avoid neglecting neighborhood schools to promote charters.

A teacher’s account of a horrible year spent teaching in a respected charter school.

Prof. Julian Heilig testifies before the California Senate Education Committee to support accountability for all charters and prohibiting for-profit charters. and provides a blueprint for compromise.

Five reasons not to charterize Puerto Rico’s public schools.

The Network for Public Education has just released a guide for parents on the issues with on-line learning.

A teacher calls for a ban on online schools. He calls them a sham and a fraud.

A plea for improved accountability for California’s charter schools.

A powerful critique of Arizona’s charter schools policies.

Another  Arizona charter school scandal.

Success Academy’s claims of success in “re-inventing high school” are based on huge attrition rates of students.

Diane Ravitch reports on a highly touted charter chain school in San Antonio featuring “personalized learning” and use of technology, which failed and a similar abrupt closing in Sacramento.

Another Ravitch column on an EdTrust report on unaccountable charter schools in Michigan and the failure to fix the situation supported by Devos’s  political contributions.

Tom Ultican on how Betsy Devos and her  allies ruined Detroit’s public schools.

A classic New York times article on how the proliferation of charter schools in Detroit hurt public school children.


“Reform” Foibles

Let’s never forget who wants to decimate public education.

Cutting back on education cost North Carolina a large auto plant.  An article in the New Republic argues that education investment is much more important than tax breaks in attracting new businesses.

The legislature in Arizona allows corporations to donate to vouchers and deduct the amount from their state taxes without a cap decimating funds for public schools.

Max Eden writing in the Fordham Institute blog pleads with “reformers” to heal themselves before causing  further damage.

Julian Heilig reviews the failure of “reform” efforts.

An article in the Conversation blog explains how big bets on “reforms” have failed to produce results and caused major collateral damage.

Matt DiCarlo comments on the CREDO report on school closures finding little benefit from closing schools.

Overall, then, this study illustrates the fact, which is obvious but still important to emphasize, that closing schools is very risky and not even close to the guarantee that a few diehard advocates sometimes imply. Certainly, there are at least some schools that, despite adequate time and resources to try and improve, remain dysfunctional enough that they should be closed for performance-related reasons. It would be absurd to argue otherwise (though there may be far fewer than some think). The problem is identifying them in a fair and rigorous manner. And we have done a very poor job of that so far.

Diane Ravitch reports on parents in Florida pushing back against privatization efforts and the huge exodus of teachers from Tulsa public schools due to lack of engaging “build and support” efforts and low salaries.

Tom Ultican offers a powerful warning on the destructive effects of  “privatization” of public schools.

A Daniel Koretz article in American Educator about the problems with test-driven accountability and what to do about it.   The article is drawn from his book The Testing Charade.

Jay Greene provides evidence on the disconnect between test results and later life outcomes.

Diane Ravitch reports on an achievement district in North Carolina that failed before it started.

The effects of teacher evaluation schemes have been overwhelmingly negative.

Article questions whether “personalized learning” works.

Proficiency based learning a bust in Maine.

Brookings report asks, Why is accountability primarily about teachers?

A humorous aside—Steven Colbert demolishes Betsy DeVos’s interview on 60 minutes.

While there is research that SAT and ACT tests predict success in colleges a report by Achieve argues that there are major problems using them for high school accountability.

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