Thursday, May 12, 2016

Education Mirages and Presidential Politics—Hillary Clinton

Education Mirages and Presidential Politics—Hillary Clinton:

Education Mirages and Presidential Politics—Hillary Clinton

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Presidential politics and education—it’s like crawling through the desert. You see the same old landscape, and then, out in the distance you see real teacher support and quality schooling! And you hear “I will make public schools great again!”
We are bombarded with statements that sound supportive of public schools and teachers, parents, and students, but as one crawls closer to the mirage, we learn it isn’t always what one hears or sees.
The closer you get the more you realize—it’s an illusion.
In the next few posts I will be looking at the Presidential candidates and mirages.
Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton gave a rousing speech for teachers where she praised public school teachers. She’s riled up about those who blame teachers for society’s problems.
But I think we should be asking her what she really means.
Standardized Tests
Hillary Clinton says she doesn’t like to see teachers blamed, but isn’t she a part of the old guard that brought about high-stakes standardized testing which has been used to blame teachers?
In all fairness, she supported lowering class size too. She cares about early childhood education, and I believe she is the only candidate who has mentioned autism. But I Education Mirages and Presidential Politics—Hillary Clinton:


SF school leaders give Teach for America a time-out - San Francisco Chronicle

SF school leaders give Teach for America a time-out - San Francisco Chronicle:

SF school leaders give Teach for America a time-out


The taxpayer-supported Teach for America program, which supplies enthusiastic if inexperienced teachers to thousands of schools in lower-income areas across the country, has fallen out of favor in San Francisco.
The city’s school board made clear this week that staffing some of the city’s neediest classrooms with recent college graduates who are on a two-year teaching stint and with just five weeks of training is no longer acceptable.
The board had been set to vote Tuesday night on a new contract to obtain 15 teachers for the upcoming school year — after reaching similar agreements each of the last eight years with the national nonprofit, which receives federal grants, private donations and fees from districts.
But before the vote, Superintendent Richard Carranza pulled the contract from consideration, acknowledging he didn’t have support despite a statewide teacher shortage and a local need to fill at least 500 teaching jobs by August.
The 15 teachers would have been placed in science, math, special education and bilingual education classrooms — the hardest positions to fill, Carranza said.
“I respect the board’s authority to make these decisions,” Carranza said in an interview Wednesday. “I just think it’s a missed opportunity for us to fill 15 classrooms (with) very scarce candidates out there.”
Pipeline of educators
Though the district won’t hire any new Teach for America teachers, the 15 heading into their second year will continue to receive support, officials said.
Teach for America, often referred to as TFA, has long been considered a valuable pipeline of new teachers, especially in low-income communities. The young teachers don’t have full credentials, but are billed as cream-of-the-crop college graduates with a desire to spend at least two years teaching in some of the country’s poorest communities.
But over the past several years, the organization has been condemned by critics, including teachers unions, as a crutch that fills the country’s neediest classrooms with inexperienced and cheap labor.
“Our goal as a district should be to get experienced, highly prepared, fully credentialed teachers with a track record of success into our high-needs, high-poverty schools,” said school board President Matt Haney. “For now, I believe that we should press pause on our contract with TFA, as we consider how best to address our own challenges of getting the best, most-prepared teachers where they are most needed.”
Financial ties questioned
Others, including school board member Jill Wynns, have opposed Teach for America’s financial connections to supporters of charter schools and market-based education reform.
Teach for America was started in 1990 by Wendy Kopp, a Princeton University graduate who SF school leaders give Teach for America a time-out - San Francisco Chronicle:


Education officials say they’re trying to protect poor children. A senator says they’re trying to break the law. - The Washington Post

Education officials say they’re trying to protect poor children. A senator says they’re trying to break the law. - The Washington Post:

Education officials say they’re trying to protect poor children. A senator says they’re trying to break the law.

An Obama administration proposal to ensure adequate resources for poor children in the nation’s schools has triggered a backlash on Capitol Hill and among the nation’s K-12 superintendents, who say that the U.S. Education Department is trying to unilaterally — and illegally — rewrite the nation’s main federal education law.
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service on Wednesday lent credence to that criticism, writing that the department’s proposal seems to conflict with language in the law and “appears to go beyond what would be required under a plain language reading of the statute.”
At issue is how thousands of school districts prove that they are using $15 billion in federal Title I dollars to provide extra help for poor children in tens of thousands of schools nationwide. Federal law says that school districts must spend the money in a way that provides extra help to poor children — that it not be used to provide basic educational services — and requires that Title I schools have comparable services to those in wealthier schools in the same district. School districts are not allowed to underfund schools in poor neighborhoods and then use the federal dollars to fill in the hole.
But because high-poverty schools often spend fewer dollars per student — sometimes thousands of dollars — the Education Department has proposed a new rule to force districts to close the gap first. School districts would have to show that they are spending enough on poorer schools before they receive the federal dollars.
Department officials believe they have not only the legal authority, but the legal obligation, to enforce that rule.
“The entire purpose of Title I funds is to truly provide the additional resources necessary to ensure that students in high poverty schools have access to equitable educational opportunity,” spokeswoman Raymonde Charles said in a statement. “If schools are being shortchanged before the federal dollars arrive, then those dollars are not supplemental.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), one of the chief architects of the new education law, is urging states to sue if the administration moves forward with the plan, arguing that it would interfere with the law’s specific intent of shifting power from Washington to state and local school officials.
“This is an intolerable situation,” Alexander said on the Senate floor. “As soon as the president Education officials say they’re trying to protect poor children. A senator says they’re trying to break the law. - The Washington Post:

Politics, Projection, Faith an Choice: A Message to Chicago – Troy LaRaviere's blog

Politics, Projection, Faith an Choice: A Message to Chicago – Troy LaRaviere's blog:

Politics, Projection, Faith an Choice: A Message to Chicago


Lessons from CPS’ Attempt to Remove an  Award-Winning Principal 
for my mother, Kay
An OverviewAccording to standards used by the Mayor’s office, there are only four schools that consistently and substantially raise student performance year after year after year.  For the past five years, I’ve led one of those four schools: Blaine  Elementary.
We have an incredibly simple philosophy for success: Take the things that have been proven to work, and implement them, while giving your staff the freedom to improvise to fit the unique circumstances of your school. Unfortunately, that’s not this administration’s strategy. Their education policies have been ideologically driven, clumsy, and scientifically baseless.
I’ve talked with so many principals who are deeply troubled by the obstacles this administration puts in their way: underfunding; a flawed school rating system; a lack of support schools that serve the most vulnerable children; a lack of respect for their work and their time; a culture of fear and intimidation; and burdensome compliance driven paperwork.  This list goes on. Under this administration, teaching, learning and leading are far more difficult than they have to be.  This is a direct result of the fact that this administration has focused on creating financial relationships that ensure their rich donors profit from our children’s losses.  It is inherently corrupt, and corruption breedsincompetence.
Instead of being guided by self interest. We must see the city as our family, and decide that the well being of everyone in that family is our priority.  That must be our vision, and we must act to make it so. I made that decision three years ago.  That my Chicago family would be the priority.  And I based my actions on that decision.
Those actions, in defense of our family, led my colleagues to nominate me for the presidency of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.  If elected I made it clear that I would work to develop systems and relationships that end the isolation of principals and administrators and brings them together to have a collective voice for policies that support student development, instead of undermining it.
When I was a lone voice the administration tolerated me. But when faced with the prospect of an organized group of education leaders speaking as one on behalf of students, they’ve moved with haste and reckless abandon to prevent that from happening.
The Charges: An Exercise in ProjectionI’ve already written about this administration’s hasty, effort to remove me.  Today I’m Politics, Projection, Faith an Choice: A Message to Chicago – Troy LaRaviere's blog:

Whitney Tilson and I Debate Education Reform and the Billionaires’ Role, Part 2 | Diane Ravitch's blog

Whitney Tilson and I Debate Education Reform and the Billionaires’ Role, Part 2 | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Whitney Tilson and I Debate Education Reform and the Billionaires’ Role, Part 2



Whitney Tilson, a key figure in the corporate reform movement, and I have continued an exchange about the teaching, charters, and the movement he represents. He was among the founders of Democrats for Education Reform and Teach for America; he is also involved in Bridge International Academies, which opens low-cost, for-profit schools in poor countries. Another in this series will appear soon. He posted this on his blog this morning. You can read it there to see my remarks are in blue; when I copied and pasted to my site, all the blue disappeared, and I didn’t have time to recolor them. My comments are marked DR, his are WT. I am engaging in this dialogue so that his readers can learn what their critics say, not filtered but straight.
From: Whitney Tilson 
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2016 9:00 AM
Subject: Round 2 of my discussion with Diane Ravitch, on who’s the status quo, charter schools, and testing
If someone forwarded you this email and you would like to be added to my email list to receive emails like this one roughly once a week, please email Leila at leilajt2+edreform@gmail.com. You can also email her if you’d like to unsubscribe. Lastly, in between emails I send out links to articles of interest via Twitter (I’m #arightdenied) so, to get them, you must sign up to follow me at: https://twitter.com/arightdenied.
———————
STOP THE PRESSES AGAIN!!!
My new BFF, Diane Ravitch, and I have continued our conversation and it’s gotten even more interesting, as we’ve moved past the high-level principles we mostly agreed on in our first exchange of emails (sent a couple of weeks ago and posted on her blog here and my blog here) and started engaging on the many issues on which we disagree.
Our ongoing discussion covers many topics:
1) Whether reformers are now the status quo
2) Charter schools
3) Tests and how they should (and shouldn’t) be used
4) Who is the underdog in this battle
5) The tone of the debate and our shared desire to focus more on the issues and less on personal attacks
6) The details of the Vergara case – namely, a) the amount of time it takes teachers to earn tenure; b) how difficult it is for administrators to fire a tenured teacher; and c) whether layoffs should be done strictly by seniority
Because of its length, we’ve agreed to break it into two parts: Round 2 is below and will cover the first three topics. Tomorrow we’ll release Round 3, covering the remaining three.
My original email is in italics, Diane’s comments are in blue (beginning with “DR:”), and my responses are in black (beginning with “WT:”).
Enjoy!
Whitney
Hi Diane,
I really enjoyed our first exchange of ideas. Thank you for engaging.
Since you had the last word, the onus is on me to respond – which, frankly, makes me feel overwhelmed because we’ve already touched on so many enormously complex and difficult issues that we could spend weeks discussing just one of them.
So, I’m going to approach this following the old maxim, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I’m not going to try to respond to everything, but rather just a few things and hopefully we can build from there.
So let’s talk about two things, one high-level and one nitty-gritty: 1) tone, language and motivations; and 2) the Vergara case.
Tone, Language and Motivations
Here’s another thing we can surely agree on: we (and our allies) have Whitney Tilson and I Debate Education Reform and the Billionaires’ Role, Part 2 | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Internal documents lay out threats to the Success Academy model | POLITICO

Internal documents lay out threats to the Success Academy model | POLITICO:
Internal documents lay out threats to the Success Academy model



 Success Academy, New York City’s largest and most influential charter network, faces multiple potential crises as it attempts to triple in size over the next decade, according to a series of internal documents obtained by POLITICO New York.

The documents, which include memos, financial documents and a comprehensive draft risk assessment, show anxiety among Success executives over a variety of external threats to the network, including a “less than friendly press corps,” a “politically dynamic environment” that could stall the network’s growth, and rising real estate costs that threaten to “destroy our financial model.”
But the documents also provide an unprecedented glimpse into the internal struggles at the network, which has received national attention for the high test scores of its students, most of whom are black or Latino and come from poor neighborhoods. 
The documents reveal uneven returns on political spending, including more than $700,000 on a pro-charter rally last year in Albany, and concerns about a pressure-filled environment that has led to high turnover and the possibility of cheating. High-ranking Success employees also expressed dismay over a major technology investment that has yet to pay dividends, and worried over the pace and direction of the organization’s expansion.
“I don’t think the question is fully answered on how we can maintain high education quality while we scale up,” said one Success executive, as quoted in a 40-page draft of a risk assessment prepared by network staff and circulated among network executives in December 2014.
Risk assessments, sometimes required for insurance purposes, are designed to predict worst-case scenarios.
The “Enterprise Risk Assessment,” based on 14 interviews with members of the network’s senior leadership team, is dominated by concerns about the organization’s inner workings, including a disappointing $20 million student data tracking system, an uncertain talent pipeline, and the lack of a clear successor to the network’s high-profile founder and CEO, Eva Moskowitz.
“This is our single point of failure and an existential risk,” said one executive, referring to the potential leadership vacuum. (This risk assessment includes “selected comments by interviewees” for each section, but does not identify them by name.)
The expressions of concern come as Moskowitz aims to harness tens of millions of dollars in public and private funds to expand the network from its current 34 schools, serving 11,000 students, to 100 schools and 50,000 students over the next decade. That ambitious plan is key to her broader aim of establishing Success as what the network describes as a “catalyst and national model for education reform efforts,” and a legitimate citywide competitor to the incumbent public school system.
Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Success, noted in an emailed response to a series of questions that the risk assessment was compiled in 2014, when the network underwent its largest-ever period of growth, opening ten schools in a single year. 
"Whether its opening 100 schools total or 100 additional schools, we will not rest until we are able to provide a high-quality education not only to our current student population, but to the tens of the thousands of children on our waiting lists who have been banished to low-performing district schools due to nothing more than political gamesmanship,” he said.
MOSKOWITZ, A FORMER DEMOCRATIC CITY COUNCILWOMAN who made a reputation for herself with stinging critiques of the powerful city teachers’ union, has long criticized New York City’s sprawling, unionized public school system for its relative rigidity and inability to respond promptly to students’ needs. She has offered her rapidly expanding network as a counterpoint to that system, and aims to grow it to a size that Internal documents lay out threats to the Success Academy model | POLITICO:

CURMUDGUCATION: Better Schools Dialogue Part III: Three Guiding Questions

CURMUDGUCATION: Better Schools Dialogue Part III: Three Guiding Questions:

Better Schools Dialogue Part III: Three Guiding Questions


I'm running a dialogue with Dmitri Mehlhorn in which we are looking for any common ground we might share on the topic of better schools. Here are links to Part I and Part II. I'll be along with my next response shortly, but in the meantime, feel free to speak up in the comments section.

Dear Curmudgucation,   

Thank you for engaging.  In response to my vision for public schools, you and your followers have raised three basic questions: (1) are these schools desirable, (2) are they possible, and (3) how can we get them?   

Are these schools desirable?   

My first post suggested that teachers should be paid more; freed from standardized testing and administrative choresand allowed to focus on their students. Studentsshould learn from each other and on their own, using Montessori methods andoutdoor activities, in learning communities that span different ages and ability levels.They should eat healthy foods. Both content and pedagogy should be personalized to their needs. I cross-posted this vision on other sites (including Medium and Citizen Ed), and received positive feedback from parents and educators.  Given the choice, I’m confident most of America, its teachers, and its students would prefer this vision to the status quo.  

You and your audience raised concerns: that by relying upon mobile computingthis vision elevates technology at the expense of humanity; and that competency-based CURMUDGUCATION: Better Schools Dialogue Part III: Three Guiding Questions:


A 'borderless' school district with lots of choices: LA's superintendent outlines priorities | 89.3 KPCC

A 'borderless' school district with lots of choices: LA's superintendent outlines priorities | 89.3 KPCC:
A 'borderless' school district with lots of choices: LA's superintendent outlines priorities




In a decade, if Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King has her way, she would run a “borderless district” where students can choose any school in the city they wish to attend.
In the nearer term, King said Wednesday, she wants L.A. Unified to focus on offering an expanded portfolio of school choices, from magnet programs to dual language immersion schools — and yes, charter schools must also play a role, King reiterated.
King has kept a low profile during her first five months on the job, doing as much listening as agenda-setting in her public appearances.
While still light on specific policy details, the list of priorities King shared at a town hall for parents at Gage Middle School in Huntington Park on Wednesday reflects broadly how the new superintendent hopes to make her mark on the district. 
  • Decentralization. "We can't run it all," King said, "from where I sit at Beaudry [the district headquarters] … Shifting the power, the control, the resources, down to the school level." The idea is not necessarily new; King's predecessor, Ramón Cortines, proposed a similar idea during his first stint as superintendent in 2000. This year, King said individual principals received a little more discretion about how to spend some of their funding. "You'll start to see that happening more and more," she said.
  • School choices. King said parents want to have the option to send their kids to "theme-based magnet" schools, as well as other options, like dual immersion, pilot programs and even single-gender schools. This has become a priority for L.A. school board members, who've urged King to develop a strategy to expand these programs. In the long term, she said she envisioned the weakening of A 'borderless' school district with lots of choices: LA's superintendent outlines priorities | 89.3 KPCC:

Everything You Need To Know About Publishing My Book | The Jose Vilson

Everything You Need To Know About Publishing My Book | The Jose Vilson:

Everything You Need To Know About Publishing My Book


In the summer of 2011, I stared at my blog and wondered if I could make a book of it. The wall I kept banging my head against was the idea that I’d get fired, piss every current and future employer with my critiques, and, offer no apology for the forthcoming expressions of passion for the work I do. By the time I set my heart to a manuscript, I partook in meetings that tested every limit of mine from a professional standpoint. As a teacher, I could close the doors shut (though I rarely did) and focus 150% of my attentions on my students and their needs (sometimes to the detriment of my own body). As a math coach, I had no choice but to listen to DOE rhetoric and the ways our system continued to perpetuate inequity through complex accountability schemes, the decimation of teacher morale, and the stunted voices of students and parents writ large.
The rest of the country was still catching up to the swindle, and I didn’t think the world would catch up fast enough.
Fast forward passed the thousands and thousands of words typed on this very keyboard, the plethora of friends and family who read over at least five different revisions of my first manuscript, the dozens of query letters I first wrote, the dozens of agents and publishing houses who rejected me, the tens of revised query letters I then wrote, the dozens of quasi-rejections under the guise of not knowing how to advertise these works, the eventual investigation into self-publishing, and the Hail Mary to Haymarket Books that eventually landed me a book deal. The first team phone call had me listening to the book’s promotion in a hotel. A few hours later, I was listening to David Coleman, Sue Pimentel, and Jason Zimba sell a handful of major districts the Common Core.
This is happening.
The meeting with my first editor Liliana Segura, the red marks scribbled all over my manuscript, the 15-minute walks telling myself “this is just part of the process, my man,” the forceful process of making myself a better writer while writing, the Anzalduas, Baldwins, Freires, Galeanos, and S. Carters-[Hamptons] I read while wrestling with my own experiences, my father passing as I almost tossed my laptop from tight deadlines, my quiet tears and rum and cokes while I reconsidered all this, and my bringing it all back to knowing I had to make Chicago Teachers Union Karen Lewis, NYU Professor Pedro Noguera, and my momma proud because these words will manifest regardless.
I was still teaching middle schoolers math 7:30am – 4pm, but don’t tell nobody because people of color aren’t supposed to work twice as hard at anything.
In 2014, when I held the first copy of my book, I didn’t want to hear anymore about my complicity Everything You Need To Know About Publishing My Book | The Jose Vilson:


Arne Duncan, Priscilla Chan Discuss Next Steps for K-12 Education - Politics K-12 - Education Week

Arne Duncan, Priscilla Chan Discuss Next Steps for K-12 Education - Politics K-12 - Education Week:

Arne Duncan, Priscilla Chan Discuss Next Steps for K-12 Education



Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been out of office for months and is now working for the Emerson Collective, a philanthropic and advocacy organization. But on Wednesday, he sat down for an exit interview at the NewSchools Venture Summit here, with Jim Shelton, his former deputy. (Shelton was recently tapped to run the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Facebook-fueled education philanthropy. More on what they're up to these days below.)
Shelton started with an easy question: What is Duncan most proud of his over his seven-year tenure as secretary?
Duncan ticked off three things: pouring $1 billion into early childhood education, an all-time high graduation rate (fact check on administration's role in making that happen here), and increasing Pell Grants. Not on the list: The two K-12 initiatives he's best known for, the $4 billion into Race to the Top initiative and the $3 billion School Improvement Grant, both of which have yielded mixed results so far.
Shelton also wanted to know what Duncan sees as his three biggest failures.
Duncan ticked off one he's mentioned a number of times before—not being able to get Congress to go along with an even bigger investment on early childhood education. The fact that so many of our children enter kindergarten behind means "we're just setting our kids up for failure from the start," he said.  
He also mentioned that the Obama administration failed to get immigration overhaul done and, therefore, didn't give immigrant kids a path to citizenship. "We could not get our Republican friends to back that," he said.
And he brought up another missed opportunity, the failure to get meaningful gun control legislation done: "In our worst nightmare we never imagined we'd have 20 babies killed and five teachers and a principal."
Not on Duncan's list of failures? Two things that many other folks would probably cite: requiring Arne Duncan, Priscilla Chan Discuss Next Steps for K-12 Education - Politics K-12 - Education Week:




California's schools will soon be on the hook for things like suspensions, attendance and graduation rates - LA Times

California's schools will soon be on the hook for things like suspensions, attendance and graduation rates - LA Times:

California's schools will soon be on the hook for things like suspensions, attendance and graduation rates



lifornia's schools are going to have to answer for more than just test scores, by the year after next. The state may also judge them on suspension rates, graduation rates, attendance and the rate at which students who are still learning English are becoming proficient.
Those are the measures the California State Board of Education voted on Wednesday to include in its new school ratings system. The vote came after more than 100 members of the public spoke about what they think a good school looks like. They pressed the board to include non-academic factors, such as surveys on school climate — a measure of how safe a school feels — parental engagement and suspension rates. 
Draquari McGhee, a Fresno high school student, told the board he could remember the moment he nearly gave up on school. It was earlier this year, when, he said, he was suspended for three days for being on his phone while walking to class. The vice principal told him he would be arrested for trespassing if he didn’t leave class, he said, and the experience left him feeling like he couldn't excel.
“My engagement deteriorated overall,” he said. “I felt like I was a bad student.” That’s why, he told the board, the state should use suspension rates as a key metric for schools.
A teacher known as “Mama B” supported McGhee and helped him get back on track. But the suspension almost derailed him, he said, as it could other students.
School discipline rates, and particularly the disproportionate numbers of students of color being punished at school, have faced recent scrutiny. Los Angeles Unified, for example, California's schools will soon be on the hook for things like suspensions, attendance and graduation rates - LA Times:
 Big Education Ape: Accountability and Continuous Improvement Report - Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education) http://bit.ly/1T7FXw3

Big Education Ape: State board to choose school improvement metrics | EdSource http://bit.ly/1rDFckb

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