Wednesday, June 15, 2016

CURMUDGUCATION: Houston Slams VAM (Plus: All About SAS)

CURMUDGUCATION: Houston Slams VAM (Plus: All About SAS):

Houston Slams VAM (Plus: All About SAS)



As a Pennsylvanian teacher, I am paying particular attention to the news from Houston, where VAM just suffered another well-deserved loss. I'll get to that in a second, but let me set the stage and tell you a little story of how we arrived here.

Houston and Reformsters 

The Houston Independent School District has always been out in front of education reformsterism. It was Houston where Superintendent Rod Paige performed the "Texas Miracle" of  raising test scores even for non-wealthy, non-white students. The Texas Miracle became part of the justification for the test-driven baloney of No Child Left Behind, and Rod Paige was whisked to Washington to employ his miracle-inducing powers as George Bush's Secretary of Education.

Only, there was no Texas Miracle. Houston was not an example of how test-centered accountability could create excellence; instead, it was an example of Campbell's Law, of how using bad measure as proxy for a complex social behavior just leads to increasing corruption (aka gaming, spinning and cheating) of that measure. Houston schools had pushed low-scoring students out the door, or held them back a year and then leapfrogged them over the testing grade.

Fast forward a few years, and we find HISD signing on with SAS to use their nifty Value-Added instrument called EVAAS.

The SAS Story 

SAS has been in the analytics for a while ("Giving you the power to know since 1976"). FounderJames H. Goodnight was born in 1943 in North Carolina. He earned a Masters in statistics; that combined with some programming background landed him a job with a company that built 
CURMUDGUCATION: Houston Slams VAM (Plus: All About SAS):

L.A. education reform group names board, signals shift from charter-school-only focus - LA Times

L.A. education reform group names board, signals shift from charter-school-only focus - LA Times:

L.A. education reform group names board, signals shift from charter-school-only focus

Controversial group that began with the mission of rapidly expanding charter schools in Los Angeles has named its board of directors, come out with a plan and publicly defined its mission as supporting new, successful public schools of any kind.
The board for Great Public Schools Now mostly includes faces and groups that are familiar in the education reform wars of L.A., including representatives from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
The chair of the nonprofit is retired banker Bill Siart, the only board member who had been previously announced. In 1997, Siart vied to become superintendent of L.A. Unified, losing out to insider Ruben Zacarias. Later, Siart founded ExED, a company that provides specialized office services to charter schools.
Nearly all the other board members are widely regarded as pro-charter, even though their backgrounds are diverse.
Charters are independently operated, free public schools that are exempt from some rules that govern traditional campuses. Most are nonunion.
Siart said he hopes L.A. Unified will work with the nonprofit to create superior schools.
“They have some very good schools — some magnet schools and traditional schools — that are performing well for kids,” he said, then added, “and they have other schools that don’t,” even after repeated turnaround efforts.
“A lot of turnarounds don’t turn around,” Siart said. “We need to see demonstrated success, not hope.”
The group’s glossy, 16-page plan identifies 10 low-income, low-achievement neighborhoods as areas of focus. Clustered in the east San Fernando Valley and south and east of downtown, they include Boyle Heights, Pacoima and South Gate. 
Although the plan is short on specifics, the group plans to announce its first grants L.A. education reform group names board, signals shift from charter-school-only focus - LA Times:

Tevlin: Plot twists in case of Minneapolis drama teacher's arrest - StarTribune.com

Tevlin: Plot twists in case of Minneapolis drama teacher's arrest - StarTribune.com:

Tevlin: Plot twists in case of Minneapolis drama teacher's arrest

Crystal Spring, a Washburn High School drama teacher, was arrested in May by Minneapolis police after she stopped to witness an altercation and was facing firing until Tuesday.
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It’s a plot you might see in a student theater production: A young white high school drama teacher on the way home from a long day stops to witness the arrest of a black man. Police tell her to move along; this is not your business.
The teacher, Crystal Spring, whose students perform self-written plays on social justice issues, continues to monitor the arrest to make sure the man’s rights are not violated. Police arrest the teacher for obstruction and disorderly conduct. The witnesses against her are three black employees of a fast-food restaurant, where the call to report the man originated.
While in the squad car, handcuffed next to the man she sought to protect, the man predicts the teacher would be let go because she is white. Instead, she is jailed, later placed on administrative leave and faced a likely firing.
Until Tuesday afternoon, when in advance of a planned rally at a school board meeting, Michael Thomas, Minneapolis Public Schools interim superintendent, issued the following statement:
“Crystal Spring has been removed from administrative leave and will be receiving an apology from all of us. It is imperative to be thorough when recommending the termination of an employee, and due diligence was not followed in this case. We will review our termination processes and are committed to making all necessary changes to prevent this from happening in the future.”
“It’s kind of a tragic comedy here,” said Jordan Kushner, Spring’s attorney.
Spring, a Washburn High School drama teacher and creator of the school’s lauded Black Box Theatre program, was arrested May 19 by police in south Minneapolis after she stopped to witness the altercation. Police say Spring ignored orders to move away, ran in the streets and yelled at officers. She spent the night in jail.
The Minneapolis Public Schools administration is normally about as nimble and fleet-footed as a team of oxen, but this time Steven Barrett, executive director of HR operations at MPS, quickly took the police report as gospel. In a letter, Barrett said the district was moving to fire Spring “ … due to concerns relating to conduct unbecoming a teacher.”
The letter continued: “You did not know the circumstances of why the police were taking someone into custody. Yet you determined that repeatedly confronting the police officers, and shouting accusations about the officers to potential witnesses to the police investigation, was necessary.”
Except Kushner said that didn’t happen. He said Spring twice obeyed orders to move and was only exercising her right to observe an incident between police and a citizen.
The Minneapolis school board was set to abruptly determine Spring’s fate at Tuesday’s board meeting, but an uprising of support from students and parents caused it to take the issue off the agenda and instead put Spring on Tevlin: Plot twists in case of Minneapolis drama teacher's arrest - StarTribune.com:


CURMUDGUCATION: PA: School Funding Emerges from Time Warp

CURMUDGUCATION: PA: School Funding Emerges from Time Warp:

PA: School Funding Emerges from Time Warp






Pennsylvania now has a formula for distributing education dollars to school districts.

You will notice that I didn't say "new formula." That's because, contrary to what rational human beings might assume, Pennsylvania hasn't had a formula for decades. Well, that's not exactly true. The formula has been Y times some-percent-usually-less-than-two of Y, with Y equalling "whatever you got last year." And this process, called "hold harmless" in PA, has been in place since around 1991. We fiddled with it a bit from 2008-2010, but it's only sort of an oversimplification to say that the foundation of our funding system has been 1991 enrollment figures.




That means if your enrollment has been increasing, your state funding has not increased to match it. Of course, it also means if enrollment has been dropping, your state funding hasn't dropped with it.

And it needs to be noted that since Pennsylvania ranks 44th in the percentage of state funding for public ed (36% overall), state funding is not critical for all districts. Districts that are able simply make up that difference locally. Districts that are not able just become increasingly poor and financially distressed. On top of that, add a mismanaged pension system that now has huge balloon payments come due, a charter reimbursement system that rips the guts out of public school funding, and an unregulated charter system that lets those charter claws reach the guts of even small rural districts. Also, a few years ago we totally used that stimulus money to replace the regular education budget funds, which meant that the end of stimulus funds left a huge hole in school funding. Oh, and last year when we couldn't settle a budget for nine months (ten, really, by the time we were done with the details)-- that didn't exactly help, either. Fun fact: back in 1971, the state was providing about 54% of public school funding. We've been in free fall ever since.

The effect is that the 36% figure is grossly misleading. A poor district like Reading gets 72% of its funding from the state; a rich district like New Hope-Solebury gets about 15%. That's not because Reading is getting so much more state money; that's because Reading is only able to kick in a small amount of local money.

The effect is also that we have major school finance crises in PA. This is how you get a district where teachers work for free or a district that considers closing down all its high schools or a district that is handed over to a bunch of political appointees to run. 

At any rate, Harrisburg has now developed a formula. It came up with the formula by surveying eighty public school districts and fourteen charters (because "Disproportionate Representation of and Care for Charters" is our middle name), then running the data through a bunch of politicians. It 
CURMUDGUCATION: PA: School Funding Emerges from Time Warp:

Stop Treating Public Schools as Society’s Whipping Boy | gadflyonthewallblog

Stop Treating Public Schools as Society’s Whipping Boy | gadflyonthewallblog:

Stop Treating Public Schools as Society’s Whipping Boy

The United States is no stranger to stupidity and ignorance.
A significant portion of the population doesn’t know basic science facts like that the Earth revolves around the sun.
We only learn history and geography by going to war or drone striking countries usually  filled with brown people.
And when it comes to basic math and English, just read the poorly spelled placards at our political conventions calling for more trickle down economics.
Heck! We’re the country that elected C-student George W. Bush President!
Twice!
And lest you think that was a fluke, Donald Trump, a xenophobic reality TV star with zero political experience, is the presumptive Republican candidate for the same office RIGHT NOW!
Yet whenever so-called intelligent people bring up these and countless other examples of American idiocy, they invariably simplify the blame.
We’re a country of more than 320 million people made up of various cultures, nationalities, ideologies, economic brackets and living in a wide range of geographic areas and circumstances. Yet we think the cause of our national ignorance somehow isn’t complex and multifaceted.
No. That would be too much for us to understand. Instead, we take the easy way out and put the blame squarely in one solitary place – public schools.
It’s always the school’s fault. That and those lazy, complacent teachers.


Republican Detroit Plan Invests Too Little, Fails to Regulate Out-of-Control Charter Sector | janresseger

Republican Detroit Plan Invests Too Little, Fails to Regulate Out-of-Control Charter Sector | janresseger:
Republican Detroit Plan Invests Too Little, Fails to Regulate Out-of-Control Charter Sector


To consider the Detroit Schools “rescue” plan passed by both houses of Michigan’s legislature last week and sent to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature, one can benefit from a review of some background:
  • Michigan is among the 22 states in which the governor and both houses of the legislature are dominated by Republican majorities.
  • According to Gary Miron in a 2013 report for the National Education Policy Center, Michigan is unique among the states in the number of charter schools managed by for-profit Education Management Organizations: “Michigan stands out as an anomaly with 79% of its charter schools operated by for-profit EMOs and another 10 of its charter schools operated by nonprofit EMOs.”
  • Even Robin Lake, of the pro-charter Center on Reinventing Public Education, expressed dismay after a trip to Detroit back in 2014: “Whose job is it to fix the problems facing parents in Detroit?  Our interviews with leaders in the city suggest that no one knows the answer.  It is not the state, which defers oversight to local education agencies and charter authorizers.  It is not DPS (Detroit Public Schools), which views charters as a threat to its survival.  It is not charter school authorizers, who are only responsible for ensuring that the schools they sponsor comply with the state’s charter-school law.  It is not the mayor, who thus far sees education as beyond his purview.  And it is not the schools themselves, which only want to fill their seats and serve the children they enroll.  No one in Detroit is responsible for ensuring that all neighborhoods and students have high-quality options or that parents have the information and resources they need to choose a school.  ‘It’s a free-for-all,’ one observer said. ‘We have all these crummy schools around, and nobody can figure out how to get quality back under control….’”
It seemed there was agreement in Michigan’s legislature about the need for some regulation of an out-of-control charter school sector, and the state senate had included in its plan a Detroit Education Commission whose purpose was to oversee the authorization and placement of charter schools in Detroit to ensure, for example, that schools remain available for children in all neighborhoods.  The Washington Post‘s Emma Brown explains why a Detroit Education Commission had been included in the Senate’s plan:  “Currently, charter schools can open with the approval of any one of a number of independent authorizers, such as universities, and there is little coordinated planning about which schools should be allowed to open and where they will be located.  Many Detroiters and state Democrats believe that any school rescue Republican Detroit Plan Invests Too Little, Fails to Regulate Out-of-Control Charter Sector | janresseger:


Building a Progressive Agenda for Public Schools - Living in Dialogue

Building a Progressive Agenda for Public Schools - Living in Dialogue:

Building a Progressive Agenda for Public Schools 



 By Wayne Ross, David Gabbard, Kathleen Kesson, Sandra Mathison, and Kevin D. Vinson.

If public schools are to realize their democratizing potential, progressive activists must organize and act on an agenda that counters the neo-liberal view of education that currently dominates. We want to believe that public schools serve us, the public, “We, the people.” We want to believe that schools strengthen our democracy, our ability to meaningfully participate in the decision-making processes that impact our communities and our lives. Educational resources need to be directed towards increasing people’s awareness of the relevant facts about their lives, and to increase people’s abilities to act upon these facts in their own true interests. For the past twenty years significant efforts have been made to establish a statist view of schools that treats teachers as mere appendages to the machinery of the state and seeks to hold them accountable to serving the interests of state and corporate power. Linked as it is to the interests of private wealth, this view defines children’s value in life as human resources and future consumers. In order to combat this movement, progressive media outlets must begin doing more to alert the public to the disastrous consequences it holds for our schools, our children, and our democracy.
Progressives everywhere must begin doing more to demand that our institutions of public education foster critical citizenship skills to advance a more viable and vibrant democratic society. They must push for schools to become organized around preparing young people for active, democratic citizenship through engagement with real-world issues, problem-solving, and critical thinking, and through active participation in civic and political processes. Informed citizenship in a broad-based, grassroots democracy must be based on principles of cooperation with others, non-violent conflict resolution, dialogue, inquiry and rational debate, environmental activism, and the preservation and expansion of human rights. These skills, capacities, and dispositions need to be taught and practiced in our nation’s schools.
Progressives must also push harder to ensure that all schools are funded equally and fully, eliminating the dependence on private corporate funds and on the property tax, which creates a two-tiered educational system by distributing educational monies inequitably. Promoting greater equality in educational opportunity must also include demands for universal pre-k and tuition-free higher education for all qualified students in state universities. The past two decades have witnessed the increasing involvement of corporations in education in terms of supplementing public spending in exchange for school-based Building a Progressive Agenda for Public Schools - Living in Dialogue:

Peas in a pod - Malloy ally Cuomo appoints Finch to run New York Thruway system - Wait What?

Peas in a pod - Malloy ally Cuomo appoints Finch to run New York Thruway system - Wait What?:

Peas in a pod – Malloy ally Cuomo appoints Finch to run New York Thruway system

In a move that would make the likes of Donald Trump, or any other example of the Peter Principle proud, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has appointed defeated Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch to run the $2 billion a year New York Thruway system
Finch, who as mayor of Bridgeport undermined Bridgeport’s public schools, supported and defended education reformer extraordinaire Paul Vallas, handed tens of millions of dollars in public funds to the charter school industry and used his power for personal gain, has landed nicely on his feet, after getting thrown out of office by Bridgeport voters.  Earlier this week, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo handed Finch a $175,000 high-profile political appointment.
Responses:
“Finch didn’t leave office in Bridgeport on the best of terms, approving $2.5 million in retroactive raises for himself, city supervisors and political appointees that Ganim has said contributed to a $20 million budget deficit.”  CT Post (6-15-16)
“That’s insane.  I’m lost for words. He’s never exhibited any kind of positive managerial ability. He nearly bankrupted us completely — a city in shambles.” Enrique “Rick” Torres, a former City Council member who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year.  (As quoted in the CT Post)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated Finch on Monday to lead theNew York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corp., a surprise choice 
Peas in a pod - Malloy ally Cuomo appoints Finch to run New York Thruway system - Wait What?:


Why a Charter School Takeover Might Be Coming to Your Town | TakePart

Why a Charter School Takeover Might Be Coming to Your Town | TakePart:

Why a Charter School Takeover Might Be Coming to Your Town

Upheaval in the Detroit public schools could signal the fate of other cash-strapped districts.

Big Education Ape: Mindless Underfunding Of Schools Continues, Doing Irreparable Harm To Kids -http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/06/mindless-underfunding-of-schools.html

It seems like good news: Detroit public schools are set to receive more than $600 million in funds from the state legislature—badly needed cash to prop up a crumbling system deep in debt. A closer look reveals the catch: a sweeping plan to revamp the urban school system, undermine public schools, and create more charter schools. 
If you live in a red state, analysts say, that type of plan could be coming to an urban school district near you—if it hasn’t already. 
Detroit’s plan is the latest in twin national trends, experts say: red-state struggles to adequately fund public schools, particularly in urban areas, coupled with a growing appetite among education reformers (and like-minded conservative politicians) to replace them with charter schools with less accountability and a reputation of shortchanging minority students and poor communities. 
“It’s not totally clear that [Detroit public schools] are getting enough money” to make badly needed upgrades to neighborhood schools, said Jeffrey Bryant, an associate fellow at Campaign for America’s Future and the director of the Education Opportunity Network website. “It’s like treating a gunshot victim, and all you do is stop the bleeding.” 
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of charter schools nationwide has more than tripled since 2000 from 1.7 percent to 6.2 percent, with the total number of public charter schools increasing from 1,500 to 6,100. But they’ve also gotten bigger over the same time: The number of schools with between 500 and 1,000 students doubled from 11 percent to 22 percent. 
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, revamped the city’s school system with an emphasis on charter schools,with mixed results. Ditto Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, who helped shift Indianapolis schools toward a charter model.
In Detroit, a population drain of more than 1.1 million people since the 1950s led to a collapse of school funding, and dozens of schools across the city shuttered. Deep in debt, administrators of the remaining schools sought help from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-dominated state legislature. 
Under the resulting plan, the 100 remaining schools will be split into two districts—one that will remain for tax-collection purposes to help settle the $617 million debt and a newer district that will get an infusion of money to help. 
Though lawmakers in Michigan have signaled charter schools will be a part of the new Detroit school landscape, Kimberly Quick, an education analyst at The Century Foundation, said officials should proceed with caution.
“Republicans supposedly removed language that made it easier for failing charters to remain open while traditional public schools had to automatically close,” Quick wrote in an email to TakePart. “I’m not comfortable saying whether or not the plan is designed to undermine traditional public schools (I would need to read the actual legislation), but I Why a Charter School Takeover Might Be Coming to Your Town | TakePart:

School Reform Is the New Ed School - Rick Hess Straight Up - Education Week

School Reform Is the New Ed School - Rick Hess Straight Up - Education Week:

School Reform Is the New Ed School


The other week, I noted that "today's 'school reform' community bears an eerie resemblance to the education schools that I fled long ago, including a stifling orthodoxy so ingrained that it's invisible to its adherents." Several friends, readers, and colleagues responded along the lines of, "What are you talking about?" Well, I spent much of the 1990s and early 2000s in and around schools of education as an M.Ed. student, supervisor of student teachers, doctoral student, and professor. Especially back then, ed schools were marked by oppressive consensus on key questions: tests were bad, charter schooling and school vouchers were very bad, Teach For America was terrible, schools were underfunded, market forces had no place in education, and so on.
To disagree with any of this was seen as churlish and professionally problematic. This state of affairs made it hard to ask tough questions, challenge assumptions, break out of stale debates, or learn from mistakes. The echo chamber made it easy to overestimate the broader popularity of ed school thinking. Nobody in the ed schools gave any of this much thought; they just knew that any educated observer would think this way. In fact, to talk of orthodoxy was to be waved off by people who would point to disagreements over site-based management or curricular models as evidence that such talk was silly. In the face of all this, I found refuge in a "school reform" community that, at the time, took pride in its heterodoxy and welcomed a remarkable breadth of thought. Things have changed, though. Today, I no longer see "school reform" as a refuge; rather, I see a community as consumed by its own groupthink as the ed schools were. I could go on at length, but I'll just flag five similarities that strike me.
Orthodoxy reigns without being formally demanded or commanded. In the ed schools, orthodoxy was a product of broadly shared biases among leading faculty, advocates, and funders. Influential faculty drew confidence and sway from their close relationships with friends at key foundations like Pew, Ford, Carnegie, and Annenberg. Those in power gave out the prizes, edited the key journals, and sat on the review committees for research funding. Nobody needed to scheme in order for the groupthink to persist; it was the product of key people happening to see the world in similar ways. The dynamic feels remarkably similar to what now prevails in school reform—though the names and titles of the taste-makers have changed, and the consensus now operates mostly through partnerships, projects, consulting arrangements, and foundation initiatives.
Open disagreement about values is deemed unpleasant and unnecessary. In ed schools, hardly anyone disagreed with the prevailing orthodoxy. Dissenters, whether students or faculty, were dismissed as troublemakers. When I'd express my lack of enthusiasm for books by Jonathan Kozol or Carol Gilligan to folks in ed schools, I'd be told that I was just trying to be contrary—that I wasn't willing to talk about hard issues, rejected dialogue, and clearly wasn't serious about educational improvement. When I'd tell my friends in the "school reform" world about all this, they'd laugh. You could go years in an ed school without encountering more than token representation of a dissenting voice. School reformers have borrowed this modus operandi, even as the issues and orthodoxies have changed. And they have taken to greeting dissent--when it comes to Race to the Top, the Common Core, or other favored initiatives—by accusing dissenters of being contrary or unserious about school improvement.
Inconvenient critiques are seen as a failure to "get it." Back in the 1990s, my Harvard dissertation asked why urban reforms seemed to flit by with so little impact and argued that there were big incentives to focus on "doing something" rather than making reforms work. Brookings published it in 1998 as Spinning Wheels: The Politics of Urban School Reform, and it was well-received by reformers back then as a useful analysis. Two other presses had sent it to six education professors for review, all of whom uniformly hated it (Brookings had sent it to policy scholars). The ed schoolers argued that I didn't appreciate how important the various reforms really were or that I was reading too much into mere implementation challenges. Today, when I raise concerns about the urge to hurriedly "do something" on teacher evaluation or accountability, reformers complain that I don't appreciate the importance of the reforms or that I'm making too much of modest implementation challenges.
Faddism reigns. In the ed schools, something new would capture everyone's imagination, and we'd be off on a wave of exciting, fresh groupthink. Everyone just knew that multiple intelligences or portfolio assessment was the way of the future, and each time a perfectly sensible idea was twisted into a problematic caricature. This is one of the hazards of groupthink—it means that there are precious few firebreaks in the way of a raging blaze of faddish enthusiasm. School reform may have always been susceptible on this count, but groupthink has severely weakened its defenses against faddism. Today, reformers who've spent years deriding a focus on anything but reading and math scores have rediscovered age-old concepts like perseverance and character in shiny new wrappers—and responded by twisting sensible intuitions into goofy, worrisome proposals for evaluation and accountability.
Race, poverty, and privilege are the "right" way to think about school improvement. When the phrase "political correctness" first entered the lexicon in the early 1990s, ed schools were working to ensure that people had the "correct" understanding of certain issues, including the already-popular concept of white privilege. I was always struck that a remarkable number of discussions and gatherings on these issues would start with the proviso that "we never talk about these issues." To suggest that we actually talked about these issues a lot, or to argue that this kind of framing was divisive and destructive, was to be dismissed as ignorant, morally suspect, and blinded by privilege. Well, guess what? These stances and sayings have been much in evidence in school reform circles, as was abundantly clear in the reactions to Robert Pondiscio's column last month on the NewSchools conference.
Yep. It all feels eerily familiar. That is a huge problem for reformers. It has undermined the healthy competition of ideas. It has weakened the ability to sustain bipartisan cooperation. It has rendered the space less hospitable to young minds who may not share the current orthodoxy. I hope that school reformers will find ways to address this. After all, at the turn of the century, the "reform" community offered an alternative to the ed school orthodoxy. I don't know where today's disenchanted reformers might look for refuge. School Reform Is the New Ed School - Rick Hess Straight Up - Education Week:

The K-12 Records of Some Mentioned as Donald Trump Running Mates - Politics K-12 - Education Week

The K-12 Records of Some Mentioned as Donald Trump Running Mates - Politics K-12 - Education Week:
The K-12 Records of Some Mentioned as Donald Trump Running Mates


Real estate executive Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nomination for president, has done not a heck of a lot to flesh out his views and positions on K-12 education—trust uswe've looked andasked around a fair amount.
But at some point relatively soon, he's going to announce his pick for vice president, and a few names are consistently mentioned as top candidates to be Trump's running mate. Let's take a look a some of them and their statements and records on K-12.

Newt Gingrich 

Here's one thing you might not remember or know about: Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House and 2012 GOP presidential candidate, was actually pretty chummy with Thumbnail image for Newt-Gingrich-blog.jpgPresident Barack Obama's administration on K-12 issues, at least during the president's first term. Back in 2009,Gingrich offered to help the Obama's administration reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act by helping the House and Senate find common policy ground. 
Earlier that same year, Gingrich made a show of how he agreed with the Rev. Al Sharpton on a number of education issues, such as being strong on accountability and supporting charter schools. And none other than former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hopped on board the Gingrich-Sharpton edu-collaboration tour. Gingrich also praised one of Duncan's signature initiatives, the Race to the Top program, in 2011.
But let's return to Gingrich's most recent run for the presidency in 2012: Gingrich said he would sign a modified version of the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and seek entrance to college or the military. But Gingrich said his preference would be for only those young people seeking to enter the military to qualify for something like the DREAM Act.
In addition, during the 2012 campaign, Gingrich said he'd like to expand school choice and shrink the U.S. Department of Education. That view about the role of the Education Department was more consistent with his positions during his time in Congress than the love he sent the Obama administration's way during the president's first term. 
As speaker, for example, Gingrich backed a plan merging the federal education and labor departments, an idea its creators said would save $21 billion. And he backed efforts in the mid-1990s to create a school voucher program for the District of Columbia. Gingrich also made the pages of Education Week in 1995 for his support for (non-federal) programs that paid students to read. "We are trying to teach [students] that being a pimp or a drug dealer is not the only way to make money," Gingrich said at the time.

Ben Carson

Earlier this year, Trump said Carson, the retired pediatric neuroseurgon, would play some sort of important role with respect to education in his administration. (This was after Carson ended his own presidential bid. But what if Trump picks Carson as his vice presidential nominee, and not his education secretary?
Thumbnail image for Ben-Carson-Sept-2015-blog.jpg
As we've reported before, Carson, like Trump, has singled out American students' test scores as a prime example of how the country's public schools are falling flat on their faces. His solution? More school choice, block grants to make it easier for states to reward good teachers, and an easier-to-handle process for student loans, among other things. 
He has also questioned, at least briefly, the fairness of how property taxes are distributed to schools across the country.
And here's an interesting education anecdote about Carson that isn't about policy: In Gifted Hands, his autobiography, Carson describes getting a certificate at the end of 8th grade recognizing his academic achievement. The teacher at his predominantly white high school handed him his certificate, but what she did next hurt and angered Carson:
Then, to my embarrassment, she bawled out the White kids because they had allowed me to be number one. "You're not trying hard enough," she told them.
While she never quite said it in words, she let them know that a Black person shouldn't be number one in a class where everyone else was White.
... Of course, I was hurt. I had worked hard to be the top of the class—probably harder than anyone else in the schools—and she was putting me down because I wasn't the same color. On the one hand I thought, What a turkey this woman is! Then an angry determination welled up inside. I'll show you and all the others too.

Chris Christie

The New Jersey GOP governor has been a Trump backer for some time now after his own 2016 presidential bid fell flat. And it doesn't take too much digging to figure out Christie's education record.
At one time he was an ardent backer of the Common Core State Standards in the face of vigorous attacks from fellow Republicans. But as his own presidential bid began Thumbnail image for cchristie.jpg
getting into gear, Christie backtracked, and he eventually expressed opposition to them—not very long after the New Jersey state school board re-adopted the standards. (Earlier this year, the board renamed the standards and made relatively minor alterations to them.)
There's been no such ambiguity when it comes to Garden State teachers' unions: Christie just flat-out dislikes them. In fact, he said last year that teachers' unions deserve a punch in the face
Christie altered the state's teacher-tenure laws in 2012, making tenure harder to obtain than before. Last year, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the state's decision to skip payments to the state pension system for two straight years, a big retreat from a high-profile pledge Christie made a few years ago to shore up the state's retirement fund. And his attempts to get a handle on the Newark school district have proven to be controversial. 
More recently, Christie has said he'll require school districts to test the drinking water for lead in New Jersey's public schools, and that the state will pick up the tab. And he also wants to require districts to lease vacant space to charters, and to speed up the renewal process for high-performing charters in New Jersey.

Mary Fallin  

Like Christie, the GOP governor of Oklahoma has made some headlines because of the common core, and for pretty much the same reason. Fallin made a big speech at a National Governors Association confab at the start of 2014 in which she defended the standards against charges that they were a "federal program" or a curriculum being imposed on states from Washington.
Fallin.PNGRoughly five months later, Fallin signed a bill into law that immediately repealed the common core.
This year, Fallin was hoping to get a state-backed pay raise for teachers and shore up sources of K-12 funding, among other big education-related budget goals. Part of the idea was to help ease the state's teacher shortage. Instead, she walked away with not very much.
Although Fallin succeeded in shielding state school aid from getting slashed, her plan to broaden a sales tax to help pay for those pay raises fell flat. And her school district consolidation plan also ran into fierce opposition. 
In fact, opposition to Oklahoma's education policy under Fallin has gotten strong enough thatdozens of fed-up teachers (at least in part due to that failed attempt to raise their pay) are seeking seats in the state legislature this year. It's part of a broader trend in which Oklahoma Democrats say this year it's been pretty easy to get Democrats to run in elections. 

Bob Corker

The U.S. senator from Tennessee, also a Republican, doesn't have the long K-12 resume of his fellow Volunteer State lawmaker Sen. Lamar Alexander, the GOP chairman of the Senate education committee. But Corker's gotten some attention as a possible Trump VP pick—and he does have a plan for "improving education in America." electionslug_2016_126x126.jpg
What's in this plan? There are three main elements:
"Increased Teacher Pay." The one-time mayor of Chattanooga, Corker cited a bonus-pay program that helped attract high-performing teachers to struggling schools. And he also noted that he helped secure philanthropic aid to support not only free graduate school tuitions, but forgiveness on home loans.
"Advancing Math and Science Education." He cited his vote in favor of federal legislation fordoubling the amount of money spent on basic scientific research. Corker doesn't say so, but it's an apparent reference to a bill to increase research funding up to $43 billion—the legislation would have also created summer academies for math and science and new scholarship opportunities, among other things. One of the prime movers behind this bill was ... you guessed it, Alexander. 
"Reduced Student Loan Interest Rates." Corker has supported efforts to expand the Pell Grant program that provides student loans to students from low-income backgrounds and additional aid to certain students seeking a career in teaching.The K-12 Records of Some Mentioned as Donald Trump Running Mates - Politics K-12 - Education Week:

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Teachers Unions Are Pushing Back Against Draconian Student Discipline Policies - Working In These Times

Teachers Unions Are Pushing Back Against Draconian Student Discipline Policies - Working In These Times:

Teachers Unions Are Pushing Back Against Draconian Student Discipline Policies


San Francisco teachers rallied at their school board for Safe, Stable, and Supportive Schools. Photo: United Educators of San Francisco  

This post first appeared at Labor Notes.
Two kindergarteners are poking each other with their pencils. What starts as a game soon gets out of hand. With one child bleeding, the teacher brings them to the principal’s office. Later, she finds out both kids were suspended and sent home.
It’s not an uncommon scenario in today’s public schools. But as activists draw attention to high rates of suspensions, racial disparities, and the “school-to-prison pipeline,” the political winds are shifting. Policymakers at the federal and district levels have begun to demand fewer suspensions, especially for minor rule-breaking.
It’s an issue where not all teachers see eye to eye. But a growing number of teachers and unions are rising to the challenge, pushing their school districts to back up suspension bans with the resources to make alternatives really work.
A better way 
Elana Eisen-Markowitz, a 10-year teacher in New York City, is active in a campaign to introduce “restorative practices,” an alternative approach to solving student behavior problems.
The idea is that teachers and students meet to discuss the behavior and the root problems that might cause students to act out—such as stress, anxiety, or problems at home.
For instance, suppose a student yells and curses at a teacher in the hallway. Instead of removing the student from his next class or sending him home, the teacher would sit down with him. Both would explain their experiences of the incident. Often a parent or even a peer student joins the meeting, too.
This new approach requires a culture change. But in her experience, Eisen-Markowitz says, it’s more effective than punitive discipline.
“So rarely I’ve seen a suspension work, where a student returns feeling ready to learn,” she said. “I personally feel safer knowing I’ve had a face-to-face conversation, rather than [just] seeing them in the hall again and again.”
Eisen-Markowitz is pleased that New York has moved to limit suspensions for behavior issues and explore restorative practices—though she’s already questioning the city’s rollout. She stresses that teachers must have a say in planning and implementing a restorative practices program. It can’t be outsourced or dropped from headquarters.
Besides being a building rep (shop steward) for her union, Eisen-Markowitz organizes with the activist group Teachers Unite, a network of educators who are using and promoting restorative practices. Teachers Unite discourages outsourcing the topic to Teachers Unions Are Pushing Back Against Draconian Student Discipline Policies - Working In These Times:

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