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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