Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sen. Alexander's ESEA Draft Offers Two Options on Testing - Politics K-12 - Education Week

Sen. Alexander's ESEA Draft Offers Two Options on Testing - Politics K-12 - Education Week:



Sen. Alexander's ESEA Draft Offers Two Options on Testing

By Lauren Camera and Alyson Klein

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, kicked off the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, by saying he wants to start a dialogue about testing.
And Tuesday, he did just that, releasing a 400-page draft bill, obtained by Education Week, to renew the law that outlines two different potential paths for the committee to take on the sticky issue of whether to continue with the law's annual, statewide assessments.
Option A: Give states lots of leeway on how they assess students, a sort of choose-your-own testing-adventure option. States could test only in certain grade spans, use portfolios, try out competency based tests (an idea that New Hampshire wants to move forward on), or use a system of local assesments. States could also go their own way on testing. And they would not have to submit any testing ideas for approval to the Education Secretary.
or
Option B: Stick with the assessment language we pretty much already have in current law, where states test in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school.
Otherwise, the bill seems to hew pretty closely to Alexander's own ESEA renewal bill from 2013. For example, under the bill teacher evaluation through test scores would be optional. The bill would also eliminate a host of programs, including the 21st Century Community Schools program, which offers grants for after-school programs and education technology state grants. And it would scrap the School Improvement Grant program, a key priority for the administration.
Other vestiges of the NCLB law, including an ultimate goal for student achievement and language requiring teachers to be highly qualified (meaning hold a bachelors' degree and state certification in the subject they are teaching) would also be stripped out, giving more control of educator quality back to states.
The measure also includes language that would allow federal Title I dollars to follow students to the public school of their choice. That's a huge priority for conservatives and a similar proposal was Sen. Alexander's ESEA Draft Offers Two Options on Testing - Politics K-12 - Education Week:

Ex-LAUSD chief John Deasy joins Broad leadership academy | 89.3 KPCC

Ex-LAUSD chief John Deasy joins Broad leadership academy | 89.3 KPCC:



Ex-LAUSD chief John Deasy joins Broad leadership academy

John Deasy, former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, is joining a training academy funded by philanthropist Eli Broad, Deasy's long-time supporter.




Deasy resigned from LAUSD in October after issues with technology projects and growing tension with the school board. He remained on the district's payroll until the end of December.
In his new position at The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems,
Deasy will serve as a consultant and superintendent-in-residence for the Broad Academy, the center's training and coaching program for urban public education leaders, according to a center news release.
Deasy served for over three years as head of LAUSD, the country's second largest school district. His supporters pointed to achievements in student performance during his tenure and management of the district's budget in lean times. But his detractors criticized his sometimes abrasive style, which alienated key district players, including the teachers union.
“John Deasy’s long history of boosting opportunity and achievement for all kids is a testimony to his relentless drive for social justice and fundamental belief in what’s possible when school systems are organized around what is best for students,” said Christina Heitz, managing director of The Broad Academy. Ex-LAUSD chief John Deasy joins Broad leadership academy | 89.3 KPCC:





Congressional Hearings on Testing – The Network For Public Education |

The Network For Public Education | NPE Calls for Congressional Hearings – Full Text:





 Your voice has been HEARD! Congressional hearings on testing announced!


Congressional Hearings on Testing

At the conclusion of NPE's first national conference in Austin, TX we requested that the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee holdhearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized testing in the nation's K-12 public schools. In our statement we asked 11 essential questions about testing which you can read here.

We asked you to call and write your representatives, and you responded.

You have been heard, and now the Committee has questions of its own.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R) was Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, and selected NPE President Diane Ravitch as his Asst. Secretary for Research. Sen. Alexander became the Chair and ranking Republican on the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, on January 7, 2015 and now he has questions he wants answered too.

"Every parent, every teacher in 100,000 public schools is asking the question, 'Are there too many tests?' "Alexander said in an interview Thursday. "I don't know the answer. I'm asking the question. And the United States Senate ought to be asking that question as we think about No Child Left Behind."

It has been widely reported that on Tuesday, January 20th, the same day as the State of the Union address, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will indeed hold hearings on testing as part of Sen. Alexander's desire to oversee a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that has been stalled since 2007.

Secretary Duncan unmoved

In a prepared speech yesterday, delivered at Seaton Elementary School in Washington DC, Secretary Arne Duncan made clear that the administration is committed to annual standardized testing.










"All students need to take annual state standardized tests that are aligned to their teacher's classroom instruction in reading and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school." - Arne Duncan, January 12, 2015


The trouble for Secretary Duncan is the tests remain wildly unpopular with parents and teachers, and since the advent of NCLB the focus on testing has done little to raise student achievement or diminish inequities in our schools. Pushback is mounting nationwide with parent groups and teachers unions leading the charge. Opt-out groups are growing exponentially, and are expected to only continue to gain momentum as Common Core aligned PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests are administered for the first time this spring.

Secretary Duncan does have allies in his quest to maintain the federal mandate for annual testing, however. Some are likely allies, such as theCouncil of Chief State School Officers and the Business Roundtable, which is "an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies."

Some are less likely, including a group of civil rights organizations that released a statement in support of the reauthorization of ESEA, including the need for annual testing.

The debate is certain to be lively and passionate, and we want you to be a part of it! NPE will provide frequent updates as information becomes available, so please make sure you like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter. We will also send newsletters and action alerts as necessary.

 
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WE ARE MANY. THERE IS POWER IN OUR NUMBERS. TOGETHER WE WILL SAVE OUR SCHOOLS.
 
United Opt Out Holds Fourth Annual Conference, January 16-18
 
 It's not too late!

NPE ally UNITED OPT OUT 
NATIONAL is hosting their fourth annual conference, Standing Up For Action, at the Broward Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. There is still time to register for the conference which runs from January 16th - 18th!

Standing Up For Action is a working session for local and national activists, concerned parents, educators, students and all who have a general interest in equitable and quality public education.

The conference will include speakers, panelists and group leaders including:

Author, Living in Dialogue blogger, and NPE Board Member Anthony Cody
Author and educator Sam Anderson

Chicago Teachers Union activist Michelle Gunderson

Author and University of Southern California Professor Stephen Krashen

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Barbara Madeloni

FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer

Orange County School Board member Rick Roach

City University of New York Professor Ira Shor

Youth representatives from Dream Defenders, Baltimore Youth Dreamers, and Detroit BAMN

UOO Administrators will also be on hand to sign their newly published book titledAn Activist Handbook for the Education Revolution: United Opt Out's Test of Courage.

Three-day attendees are asked to register in advance here and one day attendees to RSVP on Facebook and register upon arrival. 

Support The Network for Public Education

The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society.

Over the past year, donations to The Network for Public Education helped us put on our first National Conference, and the first PUBLIC Education Nation. In the coming year, we will hold more events, webinars, and work on the issues that our members and donors care about the most!

To Make a Donation, go to the NPE website and click the donate button. We accept donations using PayPal, the most trusted site used to make on-line payments.

The war against critics of charter schools | Bob Braun's Ledger

The war against critics of charter schools | Bob Braun's Ledger:



The war against critics of charter schools

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Julia Sass Rubin
Julia Sass Rubin
Julia Sass Rubin, a tenured faculty member and researcher at Rutgers University’s Edward Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, and Mark Weber, a university graduate student who blogs under the title “Jersey Jazzman,” are publishing aseries of monographs that analyze publicly available data about New Jersey’s privately-operated, publicly-funded charter schools. In response to the first installment of the series, a lobbying group, the New Jersey Charter Schools Association (NJCSA),  filed state ethics charges against Rubin and sent press releases about the charges to main-stream media outlets.
The NJCSA, which has notoriously failed to police ethical lapses among its own member organizations, invoked state power to silence critics of charter schools while, at the same time, it sought to shame Rubin and Weber by using clueless media outlets to spread the smear against critics whose work is backed by hard, empirical evidence.
Because charter schools cannot refute the evidence on its merits, they have chosen to try to intimidate those who make the facts available to the public. To ruin their reputations and future job prospects.
In a New Jersey run  by Chris Christie, a governor who prides himself in acting the puerile bully, the charter school lobby is aping the same behavior. Little surprise here–since charter schools have been the recipients of tens of millions of dollars in state economic development aid, doled out by Christie’s special friend, Michele Brown, a woman who once borrowed money from Christie  in an unrecordedThe war against critics of charter schools | Bob Braun's Ledger:

New Jersey Charter School Law, Race and Equal Protection « New Jersey Education Policy Forum

New Jersey Charter School Law, Race and Equal Protection « New Jersey Education Policy Forum:



New Jersey Charter School Law, Race and Equal Protection

 Charter Schools - Dividing Communities since 1991


New Jersey Charter School Law, Race and Equal Protection

Joseph O. Oluwole, Montclair State University

Introduction

This brief addresses the constitutional import of the New Jersey Charter School Program Act’s race-conscious student enrollment mandates. The New Jersey Charter School Program Act provides that charter schools must not discriminate on any “basis that would be illegal if used by a school district.”[1] It also provides that charter schools must “be open to all students on a space available basis.”[2] If the school gets more applicants than the spaces available, the charter school must use a random selection process to determine admittees.[3] Despite these non-discrimination and space-available admission requirements, the law allows schools to exercise preferential treatment in admissions: a charter school can restrict admission to specific grade levels or to the school’s subject areas of concentration.[4] These subject areas include the arts, sciences or mathematics.[5]
Additionally, despite the non-discrimination requirement, the Charter School Program Act mandates certain discriminatory practices which are not readily subject to legal challenges. For instance, the Charter School Program Act dictates that students in the resident district of the charter school must be given enrollment preference over other prospective students.[6] If more resident students apply than space available, these students will then be subjected to the random-selection process as well.[7]
Another preference in the law deals with the enrollment of continuing students. The Charter School Program Act provides that, as long as a charter school has the requisite grade level at the school, it must give enrollment preference to students who attended the school in the immediate prior school year.[8]
The Charter School Program Act also authorizes but does not require enrollment discrimination on the basis of family ties. In particular, the law states that “[a] charter school may give enrollment priority to a sibling of a student enrolled in the charter school.”[9] Charter schools are also authorized but not required to craft and incorporate into their charter, criteria that is reasonable for evaluating prospective students.[10] However, such criteria must not discriminate against prospective students because of their intellect, handicap status, athleticism, English language proficiency, aptitude measures, achievement measures, or other ground that would be legally invalid for a school district to use.[11]
Notwithstanding the non-discrimination and space-available admission requirements, the Charter School Program Act requires charter schools to incorporate race in their enrollment decisions in order to ensure that a cross section of the community is represented in the school’s enrollment. Specifically, the law provides:
The admission policy of the charter school shall, to the maximum extent practicable, seek the enrollment of a cross section of the community’s school age population including racial and academic factors.[12]
This provision is important because of the tendency of charter schools to become one-race charter schools. There are also many charter schools in heavily-minority districts furthering segregation. This makes it important to ensure that diversity rather than segregation persists in those districts.
This brief examines the constitutionality of this and other race-conscious mandates of the New Jersey Charter School Program Act under the United States Equal Protection Clause. It also analyzes the mandates under the New Jersey Equal Protection constitutional provision.

Race-Conscious Mandates in the New Jersey Charter School Program Act

As noted earlier, even though the Charter School Program Act prohibits discrimination on any ground that would be legally invalid if employed by school districts, it also provides that:
The admission policy of the charter school shall, to the maximum extent practicable, seek the enrollment of a cross section of the community’s school age population including racial and academic factors.[13]
The language of this mandate suggests that it is a race-conscious provision rather than a racial quota. It is evident that it is not a quota since it does not require reservation of specific number of seats for a particular race(s).[14]
There are other race-conscious mandates in the state laws governing charter schools. For instance, the New Jersey Department of Education regulations provide that:
Prior to the granting of the charter, the Commissioner shall assess the student composition of a charter school and the segregative effect that the loss of the students may have on its district of residence.[15]
Further, the regulations state that:
On an annual basis, the Commissioner shall assess the student composition of a charter school and the segregative effect that the loss of the students may have on its district of residence.[16]
If the Commissioner finds that the charter school has segregative effect, the Commissioner can impose a remedy.[17] According to the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division, if a charter school has already been approved, a school district must wait until the school actually has a segregative effect on the district before seeking judicial or administrative remedial action for the segregative effect.[18]
The New Jersey Department of Education regulations require that charter schools seeking to be regional schools include in their application a “plan to ensure the enrollment of a cross section of the school-age population of the region of residence, including racial and academic factors.”[19]
The regulations empower the commissioner to deny or grant charter renewals based on the “annual assessments of student composition of the charter school.”[20] The regulations also provide that:
No later than January 15 of subsequent school years [after the initial recruitment period for a charter school], a charter school shall submit to the Commissioner the number of students by grade level, gender and race/ethnicity from each district selected for enrollment from its initial recruitment period for the following school year.[21]
What is evident from the above provisions is that New Jersey places a premium on the racial composition of its charter schools.

The United States Equal Protection Clause and New Jersey’s Charter School Laws’ Race-Consciousness

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides:
No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.[22]
The Equal Protection Clause is designed to protect people from discrimination on the basis of various characteristics including race.
The scope of the Equal Protection Clause with respect to voluntary race-conscious mandates was muddled for many years because the United States remained silent on the constitutionality of such mandates. Unlike in desegregation cases which seek to remedy legally-sanctioned segregation,[23]race-conscious cases involve voluntary efforts to promote diversity. In 2007, in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1,[24] the United Supreme Court finally ruled on the constitutionality of race-conscious measures. Even though the Parents Involved case involved race-conscious New Jersey Charter School Law, Race and Equal Protection « New Jersey Education Policy Forum:

The Future of Test-Driven Accountability Is Bleak | John Thompson

The Future of Test-Driven Accountability Is Bleak | John Thompson:



The Future of Test-Driven Accountability Is Bleak

Posted: Updated: 

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 The best single prediction for the top education stories of 2015 was made by the conservative Rick Hess who anticipates:

Proposals for "Smart" Policy Disappoint, Yielding Calls for "Smarter" Policy. We will hear a lot of anguished, thoughtful calls for "smart" regulation and policy. When those regulations and policies are adopted and don't work as intended, we'll be told that it's an "implementation problem." The solution to this problem will be new proposals for "smarter" regulations and policies.
In their predictions for 2015, the mainstream education press bumps into several of the classic themes that Hess spoofs. More earnest prognosticators ask whether the "smart" standards known as Common Core will be implemented. Will "smarter" tests, survive and influence national politics, and will blended learning finally start to live up to its hype? There seems to be little doubt, however, that objective analysts anticipate the escalation our testing wars.

National Public Radio's Claudio Sanchez predicts, #1 Standardized Testing Under Fire. The new tests tied to the Common Core, PARCC and Smarter Balanced, will continue to be targets as calls for a high stakes testing moratorium gather steam. Even Bill Gates and Arne Duncan could become allies in opposing the testing mania.
Also, #2. More Troubles For The Common Core, leads to the prediction that "more (Republican-led) legislatures will call for long, drawn-out reviews, or the outright repeal, and ... Some states may simply 're-brand' the core to satisfy opposition groups." So, CCSS opponents will face a tougher battle in defeating the standards, even if they successfully attack Common Core tests.
Politico's Maggie Severns, in her analysis of next year's battle over reauthorizing No Child Left Behind, also focuses on testing, and concludes with a similar prediction. In 2015, anti-testing advocates will offer alternatives to test, sort, and punish, such as testing students every other year or a few times throughout their school careers, or testing a sample of students. Reformers (such as Bill Gates and Arne Duncan?) will likely reject these common sense ideas because they hold firm to value-added evaluations of teachers and principals.
Although the Republicans will attack Duncan's obsession with test-driven accountability, in doing so they might be "capitalizing on the chance to grab hold of an issue they can use as a bargaining chip down the line." And that leads to the most likely outcome of NCLB Reauthorization. As conservative Mike Petrilli predicts: "The president vetoes a long-awaited rewrite of NCLB, 'and Republicans have a bill that they could run on.'"
Regardless of the accuracy their speculations on these edu-political horse races, nothing in these journalists' predictions indicate that smarter high-stakes testing can be implemented in ways that actually improve schools.
I hope Larry Ferlazzo's predictions turn out to be the most accurate. His #2 prognostication seems to be wishful thinking: the Gates Foundation "will cease its support of Value Added Measurements as a tool for teacher evaluation." His 4th prediction, however, seems pretty safe to me. The appeal of the anti-due processThe Future of Test-Driven Accountability Is Bleak | John Thompson:

A Supreme Court case that public education advocates should be watching - The Washington Post

A Supreme Court case that public education advocates should be watching - The Washington Post:



A Supreme Court case that public education advocates should be watching



Critics of education reform that focuses on standardized tests for accountability purposes and the expansion of “choice” correctly point out that what happens in a classroom is impossible to entirely divorce from what happens to children outside their school buildings. Government housing, tax and other policies affect public schools, though they are very rarely considered when people talk about how to close the achievement gap or about how to provide more college access to children from low-income families. In the following piece, scholar Richard Rothstein looks at a coming U.S. Supreme Court case that he says could indirectly be the most important public school desegregation case since Brown vs. Board of Education was handed down in 1954 and ruled unconstitutional all state laws that created separate public schools for black and white children. In fact, in a piece last year on the 60th anniversary of Brown vs. Board, Rothstein noted that public schools remain segregated today because neighborhoods in which they are located are segregated, and he wrote, “Education policy is housing policy.”
Rothstein is  a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit created in 1986 to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers. He is also senior fellow of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law, and he is the author of books including  “Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right,  and “Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap.” He was a national education writer for The New York Times as well. This appeared on the EPI website and I am republishing it with Rothstein’s permission.
Public education advocates should be watching this case.
By Richard Rothstein
The U.S. Supreme Court could be on the verge of issuing a major setback to neighborhood integration, and thus to school improvement, in a case that has attracted little attention outside the fair housing community. Educators should take note: The segregation of low-income minority schools undermines efforts to narrow achievement gaps between middle class and low-income minority students.
When a few children in a classroom come from homes with less literacy and without the benefit of high-quality early childhood care, a skilled teacher can give those children special attention. But when most children in that classroom have these disadvantages, the average instructional level must decline. The most skilled teachers must devote more time to A Supreme Court case that public education advocates should be watching - The Washington Post:

Gov. Snyder proves his rhetoric on Michigan’s Emergency Manager law was lies, will appoint new EM for Detroit schools | Eclectablog

Gov. Snyder proves his rhetoric on Michigan’s Emergency Manager law was lies, will appoint new EM for Detroit schools | Eclectablog:



Gov. Snyder proves his rhetoric on Michigan’s Emergency Manager law was lies, will appoint new EM for Detroit schools

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