Monday, March 18, 2024

In Case You Missed It – March 18, 2024

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

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"Believing the pandemic brought harmful policy shifts, causing school quality to decline, [Hanushek] sees abandoning standardized test accountability as number one on his pantheon of bad moves. Teachers unions pushing for their preferred education policies seems wrong to Hanushek. After all, what do teachers know about good education? They are not trained MIT economists, like he is!

"...Learning-loss is not the big danger facing America’s students. The real danger is the likes of McKinsey, NWEA, CREDO and research leaders like Eric Hanushek."
-- Tom Ultican in Subterfuge and Learning Loss Baloney.


School Ratings and Rankings Cause Educational Redlining and Resegregation

Children, teachers, and schools are more than just the sum of their test scores.

From Jan Resseger
Having attended school in a small Montana town, where we all went to the same middle school and high school, and having parented two children who attended our neighborhood elementary and middle school and came together at our community’s only high school here in a Cleveland, Ohio inner suburb, I prefer the old and more radical solution to the whole problem of school choice driven by metrics published in the newspaper or school report cards. In fact, for the majority of families in the United States, neighborhood schools are still the norm. A system of neighborhood schools embodies the idea that parents’ responsibility is to help their children embrace the opportunities at the school where they are assigned.

As parents when my children were in elementary school, we used the PTA meetings as places to strategize about how we could better support innovations and special programs to make school more fun and challenging for all the students. A district-wide school support agency in our community provides a tutoring program for students who need extra help, and there is a community supported, district-wide music camp for a week in June when the high school orchestra director and his staff, along with a raft of graduates from the high school music program, help students from across the middle schools to prepare for joining the high school band and orchestra. People from across the school district turn out for the concert that culminates the summer music camp.

This kind of community involvement connects parents with the community’s public schools in a qualitative way. When people engage personally with a school, the teachers and the students, parents can learn so much more about a school than any metric can expose.


Subterfuge and Learning Loss Baloney

There is a widespread panic over "learning loss" from the COVID-19 pandemic. Tom Ultican talks us off the ledge...

From Tultican
Crazy pants Eric Hanushek claims COVID “learning-loss” could cost American students $31 trillion in future earnings. He burst onto the education world’s consciousness with his 1981 paper, claiming “there is no relationship between expenditures and the achievement of students and that such traditional remedies as reducing class sizes or hiring better trained teachers are unlikely to improve matters.” This played well with billionaires from the Walton family but had no relationship with reality. Likewise, his January 2024 “learning-loss” claims were straight up baloney.

Learning-Loss Reality

In the summer and fall of 2020, NWEA, McKinsey, CREDO and others produced unfounded analysis of looming learning-loss disaster caused by school closures. Since there was no data, summer learning-loss was used as a proxy, a bad one. In 2019, Paul von Hippel’s investigation threw great doubt on the 1982 Baltimore study that powerfully supported summer learning-loss belief. He showed using modern testing analysis, learning-loss was doubtful and in some cases, students gained during the summer. This data, used to trumpet a national education crisis, had no validity.

Unfortunately, billionaire-financed organizations, out to undermine public schools, do not care.


John Thompson: The Failure of “Fixing” Schools by Closing Them

Did school closures help students learn?

From Diane Ravitch
John Thompson, historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma, explains what happened when “reformers,” led by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, advocated for school closures.

He writes:

When non-educators watch Abbott Elementary, the television comedy, they are likely to find it hilarious, but I suspect it takes a teacher to fully understand the accuracy of its portrayal of the weird corporate reforms imposed on Philadelphia schools. But, recent research helps explain why many of even the most fervent advocates for test-driven, competition-driven school turnarounds now acknowledge their failures (even though they don’t apologize for them.).

The third-year premiere of Abbott gave a shout out to the respected journal, Chalkbeat. And, Chalkbeat is again reporting on failed turnarounds in Philadelphia, Tennessee, and elsewhere, as well as why former supporters of school takeovers are repudiating the reward-and-punish method for rapid, transformative change.

Chalkbeat analyzed the Philadelphia mandate, the 2010 Renaissance Initiative. It “strove to turn around about 10% of Philadelphia’s low-performing district schools by ceding them to charter organizations that promised to do better.” By 2023, however, “the Renaissance charter schools as a group mostly performed worse in standardized tests for elementary and middle schoolers than the district averages.”

Donna Cooper, executive director of Children First explained, “The goal was to prove that charters would work with any kid, not just about parents who were highly motivated to enter a lottery, and to show that a neighborhood school turned over to a charter organization would do better than if run by the school district.” But, “As far as I can tell, the data didn’t result in that.”


Kentucky: GOP Passes Bill to Nullify Parts of State Constitution to Allow Vouchers

From Diane Ravitch
State Senator Tina Bojanowski, teacher and legislator (@TinaforKentucky), tweeted:

KY House passes HB2, a bill to change our Constitution to allow vouchers and charters by creating an amendment that allows future legislation to disregard SEVEN sections of our Constitution. @kyhousedems


Fort Wayne Community Schools takes 'giant step forward' with planned early childhood center

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools’ quest to build an early childhood center on the city’s southeast side marked a milestone this week that should fuel the district’s fundraising efforts for the $14.7 million project.

The school board on Monday approved options to purchase two adjacent parcels totaling 3.5 acres at the northeast intersection of Queen Street and Werling Drive near McMillen Park from the city of Fort Wayne Department of Redevelopment and Village Premier LP.

The 26,700-square-foot facility will be part of Village Premier, a multiphase mixed-use project that broke ground last year, said Joe Giant, the city’s redevelopment administrator. He told the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission on Monday afternoon that the early childhood center will help combat the lack of child care in the city’s southeast quadrant.

Fort Wayne Community Schools prepares weapons detection expansion

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Fort Wayne Community Schools board agreed Monday to spend $1.4 million on weapons detection systems, but the district likely won’t expand its security screenings to every middle and high school until next academic year.

That’s because the Ceia Opengate weapons detection systems likely won’t be ready until late this academic year, said Matt Schiebel, executive director of safety and community partnerships.

Implementation is also dependent on having student advocates in place, because the devices require additional personnel, he said, referring to a new staff position funded by the Safer FWCS referendum.

FWCS piloted the weapons screening device at South Side High School, where no guns have been found this year, Schiebel said.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is essential; one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information, go to [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


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