Monday, September 23, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Sep 23, 2019

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


PA: Zombie Board Says Charter Free To Do Whatever The Heck It Wants

See the similarities with Indiana?

From Curmudgucation
The charter in question is Franklin Towne Charter. The charter has attracted attention in the past for a variety of reasons.

There's the time a fired principal filed a whistle blower suit, charging that he's been terminated because he pointed out that some Franklin Towne practices such as non-serving ESL students, serious nepotism, and billing the Philly school district for a non-existent all-day kindergarten program. Also, that they had lied to him in his initial interview in order to cover up their high principal turnover rate (it was only later that he learned that the Chief Academic Officer who helped interview him had been removed from the principalship because of outcry over shoplifting and excessive use of force against students). After a pattern of retaliation developed against him, he took it to the board president who allegedly replied, "You know we cannot move forward with you as principal."

Franklin Towne's CEO also pulled the old "rent the building from yourself" dodge, a great way to rake in those public taxpayer dollars (Franklin Towne was not the only charter to pull this stunt). You can (and they apparently did) make even more money by mortgaging the building to the hilt-- essentially extracting the equity value, converting it to cash, and sticking the cash in your pocket.


How a Minnesota Foundation Wasted $45 Million on a Failed Plan to Reform Teacher Education

From Diane Ravitch
Rob Levine, a Resistance-to-Privatization blogger in Minneapolis, reports here on the failure of the Bush Foundation’s bold “teacher effectiveness” initiative, which cost $45 million. All wasted.

The foundation set bold goals. It did not meet any of them.


One-third of Indiana 10th graders passed ISTEP in 2019. Find your high school’s results.

A great thing to ponder about both ILEARN and ISTEP is how the cut scores are decided upon. And what do those scores show or prove exactly? It also might be good to ponder the overall question of why we are wasting our tax dollars on these tests and how they are used against our public schools in terms of funding.

From Chalkbeat*
Low-income students saw a passing rate more than 25 percentage points lower than students who don’t qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.


Meet the Democrats Who Support the Betsy DeVos Agenda

Democrats at these meetings have included Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Michael Bennett, Former Secretaries of Education Arne Duncan and John King, Senator Chris Murphy, and for 2019, former US Attorney General Eric Holder.

From Diane Ravitch
Every year since 2014, Democrats who fervently support the privatization of public schools have gathered at a conference they pretentiously call “Camp Philos.”

Check the agenda of meetings present and past.

There you will see the lineup of Democrats who sneer at public schools and look on public school teachers with contempt.

These are the Democrats who support the DeVos agenda of disrupting and privatizing public schools.


Hidden dropouts: How Indiana schools can write off struggling students as home-schoolers

Charter Schools USA doesn’t seem to be a good choice for Indianapolis.

From Chalkbeat*
A Chalkbeat analysis of Indiana Department of Education data found that of the roughly 3,700 Indiana high school students in the class of 2018 officially recorded as leaving to home-school, more than half were concentrated in 61 of the state’s 507 high schools — campuses where the ratio of students leaving to home-school to those earning diplomas was far above the state average. Those striking numbers suggest that Indiana’s lax regulation of home schooling and its method for calculating graduation rates are masking the extent of many schools’ dropout problems.

“There’s no accountability or follow up or monitoring” of students who leave public education to home-school, said Robert Kunzman, managing director of the International Center for Home Education Research and a professor of education at Indiana University. “That’s clearly working against children’s interests.”


Want better readers? Spend less time teaching kids to find the main idea, ‘Knowledge Gap’ author Natalie Wexler argues

This is why teachers, not legislators, should determine how to teach Indiana's students. Excessive testing has caused (and will continue to cause) great harm to students. When we focus only on reading and math -- because those are on "the test" -- we're hampering our children’s ability to read by cutting out all the learning of background knowledge (science, social studies, the arts, etc.) that allows them to comprehend what they read. If you are not outraged about this, you are not paying attention.

From Chalkbeat
In the average public elementary school, third graders spend nearly two hours a day on reading instruction, according to a recent federal survey. That far outstrips any other subject, with math coming in second at around 70 minutes a day, and science and social studies getting about half an hour a day each.

Teachers may think this approach is the best way to improve students’ reading ability. But in her new book “The Knowledge Gap,” journalist Natalie Wexler argues against skimping on science and social studies and emphasizing specific reading skills. She says that this approach, paradoxically, hurts students’ ability to make sense of what they read. (Find an excerpt of the book here.)

She builds her case with cognitive science that suggests that once students have learned to sound out words — “decode” — the key to understanding a text is having solid background knowledge on the subject.

In other words, if you already know a lot about education, you’ll probably have an easier time making sense of articles in Chalkbeat than, say, in Foreign Policy.

The implication, Wexler says, is that schools should start teaching science and social studies content early and often. Wexler draws from the work of E.D. Hirsch, the University of Virginia professor and prominent advocate of these ideas.


Over 99% of Indiana voucher money goes to religious schools

From the Indiana Coalition for Public Education -- Monroe County
Since there are no financial reporting requirements for voucher schools, Indiana’s citizens have no way of knowing. Unlike public schools, which are held to transparency standards, private schools do not publish budgets and are not subject to public records requests. Neither are the private schools receiving vouchers audited by the State Board of Accounts. Are schools spending the money on teachers, curricular materials, and academic programs? Are they constructing new buildings, like the St. Nicholas School in Ripley County?

Are they directing some of it to the churches that historically supported them? Are they providing deserved benefits to their employees or outsized salaries for administrators? The legislators who lifted the voucher legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council model bill did not think the public deserved to know.


Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change Plead for End to Backlash Against School Choice

From Diane Ravitch
The backlash against school choice, the demand to halt charter expansion, comes from an outraged public that supports their community public schools.

Only 6% of the students in the U.S. attend charter schools, most of which perform no better than or much worse than public schools. An even smaller number of students use vouchers, even when they are easily available, and the research increasingly converges on the conclusion that students who use vouchers are harmed by attending voucher schools.

The claim that poor kids should get “the same” access to elite private schools as rich kids is absurd. Rich parents pay $40,000-50,000 or more for schools like Lakeside in Seattle or Sidwell Friends in D.C. The typical voucher is worth about $5,000, maybe as much as $7,000, which gets poor kids into religious schools that lack certified teachers, not into Lakeside or Sidwell or their equivalent.


Finally, Democratic candidates talk about education in a debate. But nobody raised this key issue.

From the Answer Sheet
Finally, after three debates among Democratic presidential candidates with scarcely a question about education, a moderator, Linsey Davis of ABC News, raised the issue Thursday night. She asked some good questions — even if some candidates tried to skirt them or stated as fact things that may not, in fact, be true...

Some important issues were briefly raised, such as when Julián Castro, the former housing and urban development secretary in the Obama administration, said that improving schools cannot be divorced from housing, health care and social policy: “Our schools are segregated because our neighborhoods are segregated.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) raised another key issue when he noted that the United States has one of the world’s highest child poverty rates, which is a factor in academic achievement.

But the one thing that nobody discussed onstage is what many public education activists see as the root of public education’s problems: the funding system, which relies heavily, though not exclusively, on property taxes. The obvious result is that poorer neighborhoods have fewer funds and more cash-strapped schools. Federal money intended to help close the gap hasn’t come close.


Indiana: West Lafayette Public Schools Sues the State for Taking Their Property and Giving It to Charter Industry for $1

From Diane Ravitch
Rocky Killion, superintendent of the West Lafayette, Indiana, public school district, is a fighter for public schools. A few years ago, he helped to launch an outstanding film about the extremist assault on the public schools by privatizers; it is called Rise Above the Mark, and it showcases the good work done in Indiana’s public schools.

Now Rocky Killion is suing the state of Indiana for permitting an “unconstitutional land grab.” The legislature passed a law in 2011 declaring that any unused schools must be sold to charter operators for $1. Rocky Killion says this is wrong. The schools were paid for by the taxpayers, and they belong to the district, not to charter operators.


Texas Charter Schools: Don’t Believe the Boasting and Hype

From Diane Ravitch
William J. Gumbert has prepared statistical analyses of charter performance in Texas, based on state data.

Charters boast of their “success,” but the reality is far different from their claims. They don’t enroll similar demographics, their attrition rate is staggering, and their “wait lists” are unverified.

Their claims are a marketing tool.

They are not better than public schools.

They undermine and disrupt communities without producing better results.

Yet Texas is plunging headlong into this strategy that creates a dual system but benefits few students.


Two excellent articles about the charter privatization industry from blogger Steven Singer.

Charter School’s Two Dads – How a Hatred for Public School Gave Us School Privatization

From Gadflyonthewall Blog
...Nathan and Kolderie proposed that schools be authorized by statewide agencies that were separate from local districts. The state had the power, not communities or their elected representatives. That meant charters could be run not just by teachers but also by entrepreneurs. And that’s almost always who has been in charge of them ever since – corporations and business interests.

This was the goal Friedman and the deregulators had been fighting for since the 1950s finally realized – almost the same goal, it should be noted, as that behind school vouchers.

From the start, this was a business initiative. Competition between charters and authentic public schools was encouraged. And that included union busting. Thus charters were free of all the constraints of collective bargaining that districts had negotiated with their unions. The needs of workers and students were secondary to those of big business and the profit principle.

Shanker eventually realized this and repudiated what charter schools had become. But by then the damage was done...

Charter Schools Were Never a Good Idea. They Were a Corporate Plot All Along

From Gadflyonthewall Blog
America has been fooled by the charter school industry for too long.

The popular myth that charter schools were invented by unions to empower teachers and communities so that students would have better options is as phony as a three dollar bill.

The concept always was about privatizing schools to make money.

It has always been about stealing control of public education, enacting corporate welfare, engaging in union busting, and an abiding belief that the free hand of the market can do no wrong.
*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.


No comments: