Friday, February 28, 2014

Education Year of Action Revs Up

by Jeff Bryant
When President Barak Obama, in his State of the Union address, called for a “year of action,” he probably didn’t have this in mind.
An extensive and diverse coalition of forces opposed to the education policies pushed by his administration, and many state governors, is organizing on an unprecedented scale to spur a variety of protest actions, including street rallies, sit-ins, walk-outs, strikes, boycotts, and disruptive legislative actions and lawsuits.
It’s clear, last year’s emerging Education Spring that revealed a nationwide movement of diverse factions opposed to unpopular education policies has now developed substantial new organizational capacity and a more powerful voice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vergara V. California

Larry Ferlazzo

Vergara v. California is a carefully-watched court case that begins next week that attempts to eliminate fundamental teacher rights likes tenure and due process. It’s being financed by a multi-millionaire corporate reformer.
Here is what I wrote in the 2014 education predictions I published in The Washington Post:
The carefully watched court case in California against teacher tenure rules that is being bankrolled by corporate school reformers will result in an unequivocal victory for teachers unions, students and families — either by being dismissed or by a court-ruling against the plaintiffs. 
I thought readers might find it useful to learn more about the case, since it has national implications (you might also be interested in The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Both Why Teacher Tenure Is Important & The Reasons Behind Seniority-Based Layoffs). I’ll certainly be making additions in the future:

This Week In Education: Thompson: What Is the Real Intent of Vergara v. California?

This Week In Education: Thompson: What Is the Real Intent of Vergara v. California?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Computer Canard and Testing in California Schools

Many California school districts are rushing to spend money to add computers and internet access to schools in order to prepare students to take on-line computer assessments next year.
According to Diane Lambert in the Sacramento Bee, of Feb.19,  “Sacramento-area school districts have spent millions of dollars in the past two years upgrading their broadband connections and buying computers and other technology so thousands of students can simultaneously take the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, which will replace the former pencil-and-paper STAR test.
The computerized tests will measure how well students grasp the new Common Core standards, a set of national guidelines that California and 44 other states have embraced as the next big shift in teaching. “ Common Core  claims to stress  critical thinking, problem solving and the use of technology.”

Lets get real. Computers can and should be an important part of student learning, particularly above about grade 3.  But, buying massive amounts of technology in order to facilitate test taking- well that is another matter. The K-12 education software market in the U.S. reached 7.97 billion in 2011/2012.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Common Core Faces New Critics - New York Times

Al Baker
The Common Core has been applauded by education leaders and promoted by the Obama administration as a way to replace a hodgepodge of state standards with one set of rigorous learning goals. Though 45 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to them since 2010, resistance came quickly, mostly from right-leaning states, where some leaders and political action groups have protested what they see as a federal takeover of local classrooms.

But the newest chorus of complaints is coming from one of the most liberal states, and one of the earliest champions of the standards: New York. And that is causing supporters of the Common Core to shudder.

Carol Burris, an acclaimed high school principal on Long Island, calls the Common Core a “disaster.”

“We see kids,” she said, “they don’t want to go to school anymore.”

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

When the Pundits Misrepresent Public School Issues

By Jeff Bryant
Government funding for public schools has been cut so dramatically that now most states are funding schools less than before the recession.
Legend has, political disputes are supposed to be resolvable only when parties “meet in the middle” and shake hands on points of agreement that are possible.
But in the much-contested issue of “education reform,” only one of the disputing parties in the debate tends to be implored to seek compromise.
What this looks like in one of the nation’s largest school district, Los Angeles, came to the attention of many recently when a Facebook campaign led by a local teacher provided a cavalcade of photographs showing the deplorable conditions of that city’s public schools. “The images,” reported the Los Angeles Times, include missing ceiling tiles, broken sinks and water fountains, ant invasions, dead roaches and rat droppings.”

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Education Bill of Rights - James Meredith

James Meredith.
by Valerie Straus. The Answer Sheet.  Washington Post
Calling modern school reform “catastrophically misguided and ineffective,” civil rights icon James Meredith is launching what he calls the American Child’s Education Bill of Rights, a 12-point declaration of obligations that he says the nation owes every public school child.
The 80-year-old Meredith was the first black student to graduate from the University of Mississippi. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. placed Meredith first on his own list of heroes in his 1963 Letter From a Birmingham Jail:
“Some day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, courageously and with a majestic sense of purpose facing jeering and hostile mobs and the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer.”

In 1966 Meredith was  shot while leading a march that helped open the gates of voter registration to thousands of black citizens in the South. He later earned a law degree at Columbia University. In 2013, he was awarded the Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the school’s highest honor, and he is the recipient of the 2014 winner of the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Whatever happened to NCLB ?

 NCLB reaches 12 years.  Is it still an operative law?
Under  the No Child Left Behind  law (Public Law 107-110, 2001) 100 % of  students were to achieve proficiency in math and reading by 2014.  The law was due for re-authorization in 2009.  It has not been re-authorized.   Education Secretary Arne Duncan responded to criticism by  granting  waivers. At the time, he said, "America's most sweeping education law—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind—is outmoded and constrains state and district efforts for innovation and reform. The smartest way to fix that is through a reauthorized ESEA law, but Congress has not agreed on a responsible bill. “

By Valerie Strauss,  The Answer Sheet. Updated: February 3 

It’s the year that all U.S. public schools were supposed to reach 100% student proficiency. It didn’t happen, of course. The law under which that was mandated, No Child Left Behind, has crashed and burned, but, unfortunately, its worst ideas haven’t. Writing about this is Lisa Guisbond of The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, known as FairTest, a non-profit dedicated to ending the misuse of standardized tests.
By Lisa Guisbond
It’s 2014, the year all U.S. public schools were  supposed to reach 100% student proficiency, so said No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
No, you didn’t miss the fanfare.  One hundred percent proficiency didn’t happen. Not even close.  In fact, our classrooms are making even less progresstoward improving overall educational performance and narrowing racial test score gaps than before NCLB became law.
The problem is policy makers are still following NCLB’s test-and-punish path. The names of the tests may have changed, but the strategy remains the same. As the late, great Pete Seeger sang, “When will we ever learn?”
It’s not that the law’s proponents haven’t acknowledged – repeatedly — the law’s vast unpopularity and negative consequences, including the way it made schools all about testing. Back in 2007, Congressman George Miller, an NCLB co-author, said, “No Child Left Behind may be the most negative brand in America.” The retiring congressman said recently that the results from the federally mandated tests were intended to measure school progress and drive improvements. Instead, he said, “the mission became about the test.”

Eight districts in California have received waivers from NCLB requirements.
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