Monthly Archives: September 2017

September Comments 9/23/2017

The Fight for Public Education in the US.

An extremely important article appeared in the Atlantic about the efforts in the US to cripple public education and the key role of public schools in fostering attachment to our democratic ideals.

Joann Neem writes in the Washington Post about the importance of public common schools not schools of choice. The Founding Fathers Wanted Public Schools; We Should Protect Their Vision.


Positive “Build and Support” Efforts

Michael Fullan compliments California’s school improvement efforts and recommends some next steps.

A survey of teachers’ views of professional learning opportunities by Learning Forward.


Charter School and Privatization Disasters

The New York Times exposes the charter school debacle in Michigan. and the chaos caused by charter schools in Detroit.

The Grand Canyon Institute released a report which shows that Arizona with notoriously lax charter school accountability suffers from one of the highest incidences of charter school scams.  Here is a quote from the review in Curmudgucation: The Grand Canyon Institute (“Arizona’s Centrist Think Tank”) has just released a meta-study of twenty years of Arizona charters. “Following the Money” comes to some fairly appalling conclusions that suggest that Arizona is one of America’s pre-eminent charter scam factories and that taxpayers are getting hosed. Here are some of the conclusions reached by this forensic analysis. They list self-dealing (77% of charters implicated), high executive salaries, questionable profit distribution, low classroom spending, academic underperformance, and financial irregularities.

Also see Curt Cardine’s review which covers that report and two others. Since 1994, 424 charter schools have shuttered their doors, a failure rate of 43 percent. Thirty-four percent of all charters that fail do not meet the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools Financial Performance Recommendation. Another 90 charter groups that failed did not meet the Cash Flow Standard.

Another expose in Harpers about the disinvestment in Arizona public schools while encouraging unregulated and for-profit alternatives.

Jeff Bryant reports on the destruction of the public schools in St. Louis by privatization policies.

Another article by Bryant on how Republican privatization policies have decimated Florida’s public schools.

Why the DC Voucher Program is Failing by the Crumudgucation blog.

Failing Florida charter school resurrects itself as a voucher school.

Even school districts cheat under the charter laws. A California district is under investigation for creating an online virtual academy which received payment for students already enrolled in a Catholic school.

Atlanta charter school founder charged with stealing $1.3 million.

Pennsylvania non-profit charters use loophole in state law to reap millions in real estate transactions. See the section on Charters by Rich Lord in the extensive expose of the non-profit sector. Charter schools spin off building ownership to nonprofits, reap money from quirk in state law.

Diane Ravitch reports on the findings of Bill Phillis, an Ohio watchdog, who . . . reports that the state of Ohio has allowed the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) to use public money [$33 million] in its public relations blitz to avoid accountability for inflation of enrollment and the state’s efforts to claw back more than $60 million. ECOT is notable for having the lowest graduation rate of any high school in the nation, as well as dubious quality standards. Its founder is a major contributor to elected officials. In return, he has collected many millions of dollars of profit. Bill Phillis writes: According to a September 3 Columbus Dispatch article, ECOT has spent $33 million on TV ads, lobbyists, lawsuits and William Lager’s for-profit companies since January 2016, all in pursuit of gaining state approval to continue to count students that are not participating.

State Auditor in New Mexico finds likely embezzlement by charter school employee who siphoned $500,000 of school funds to a personal account. Lax laws encourage fraud.

Florida charter school closes leaving academic failure and a mountain of debt.

Chalkbeat of NY reviews the latest CREDO study on school closures.


Failures of “Reform Nostrums”; Special Reform Districts and Closing Schools

Tennessee’s Achievement School District, a reform favorite, has been a bust.

Mercedes Schneider refutes the New Orleans “miracle” story by showing extremely low ACT scores for the state takeover district.

Study shows closing schools doesn’t improve test scores (the questionable measure used to close the school) but does result in wide-spread community damage.  The CREDO report can be found here.


Far Right Follies

New Mexico scrubs any mention of the earth’s age or climate change in its science standards to appease the far right.


Education Funding

While the rest of the world is increasing investments in education, the US is cutting back.

North Carolina, whose principals are fiftieth in the country in salaries, just made severe cuts in veteran principals pay and many are leaving the profession according to local NC reporters as covered in Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Another refutation of the canard that US school funding has increased while scores have decreased.


The Purposes of Public Education, Content and Civic Engagement

A compendium of the civic engagement portions of the new California History/Social Studies framework is now available at

The Aspen Institute issued a report on the evidence for social, emotional and academic learning The Evidence Base for How We Learn; Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional and Academic Development

Daniel Willingham debunks the continuing erroneous belief in learning styles by many educators and speculates why it persists.


Future Jobs

Many high paying jobs in the future won’t require a 4yr degree but a rigorous tech/prep community college degree or certificate. Here is a list of 42 of the most promising of them (and 10 to avoid)

Hal Sulzman, an economist from Rutgers university, challenges the conventional wisdom that there is a shortage of STEM graduates.  See the review of his interview by Diane Ravitch

Another study on taking a more realistic view of job projections.


New Teachers/Teacher Shortages/Teacher Pay

An article by Jeff Bryant, What Happened to All the Teachers.

The best way to beat the teacher shortage– lower attrition rates by fostering teacher engagement. New report by the Learning Policy Institute Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It.

According to OECD’s Education at a Glance, (2017) US teachers earn 60% of what professionals with similar educational levels earn in other industrialized countries (below every other country) and US teachers work significantly more hours than their international counterparts. U.S. teachers make less than 60 cents on every dollar made by others with their education level, the biggest gap of any OECD country. And at every grade level, U.S. teachers work longer hours than their international counterparts. In America, for example, a 7th grade teacher puts in 1,366 hours at school each year, including more than 980 hours of teaching—which is nearly 270 more hours of teaching than the international average. Also see

America Needs More Teachers of Color and a More Selective Teaching Profession, a new report by the Center for American Progress.



School Finance 101 blog questions the promise of edupreneurs and tech-based solutions and misguided innovation.

Do we learn better from printed books than digital versions? The answer from researchers is a qualified yes.  EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_08_28&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a4f3e0748b-55f36c9c7b-296190865


School Performance

Marc Tucker reports that in the US within school variance is much greater than between schools, which is much different than what occurs in other countries. One big reason–our teachers don’t get the time or resources to work together to improve performance compared to other countries.



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