Sunday, July 05, 2020

New Sacramento Bee Reporter Accepts and Uses Deceptive Claims of Data on"Personalized Learning " in Response to Covid School Closings

Sac Bee Reporter accepts and uses deceptive data on “  Pesonalized  Learning” schools response to Covid.  
Welcome to Sacramento. 

In the Bee Article  “ Lawmakers, advocates say budget hurts top schools, “   published in the Bee on July 5,  new  Bee reporter Mackenzie Hawkins makes a series of claims   based upon a fundamental, and highly partisan claims.  Hawkins has been at the Bee for 2 months. Prior to this position she wrote for the Yale News, which may have been a student intern position.   Note, recognize that reporters often do not write the titles of pieces. 

Hawkins  says, 
“But under this year’s education budget, lawmakers and education advocates warn, the state will abandon its traditional allocation formula in favor of a system that harms the very schools — disproportionately, charter schools and personalized education programs — that have performed best under pandemic pressures.” [ no evidence  provided of the last phrase… that have performed best under pandemic pressures]
“California’s public schools usually receive money based on a combination of the prior year’s funding and the current year’s average daily attendance — a metric that reflects not the number of students enrolled, but rather how many students show up each day. 
Historically, this has meant that if a student switches schools from one year to the next, the money to fund their education moves with them. That will change under budget trailer bills AB 77 and SB 98, which allocate next year’s funding based on attendance through February 29 of this year.”

This statement is inaccurate.  State funding of schools in California is based upon the Local Control Funding system, LCFF.    
The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was enacted in 2013. The LCFF was designed to be a more equitable system of funding, with the goal of providing additional funding for the highest needs students. These subgroups of students include English learners, low-income students, and foster children. If the student groups targeted for assistance make larger than a majority of enrollment, districts receive additional concentration money.
          Schools do not receive money sole  based upon Average Daily Attendance, as the reporter asserts.  They receive money based upon ADA and  the state also gives additional state funds to districts based on the number of low-income students, English learners, foster children and homeless youth they serve.
There is a significant difference between these two

Reporter Hawkins goes  on to say, 

“Proponents say the legislation preserves educational equity and ensures adequate funding in the most disadvantaged areas. But according to charter school advocates and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, turning an emergency measure into a permanent policy undermines school choice and forces top-performing schools to turn away students — often, those served poorly in traditional schools — looking for another option. “[There is no evidence for the  claimthat the funding would force top performing schools to turn away students because we do not know which are the top performing schools.]
“What the state is essentially proposing is we’re going to protect and essentially reward failing schools, and we’re going to punish schools that have proven that they’re performing well and successful in this COVID crisis,” Association of Personalized Learning Schools & Services (APLUS+) Director Jeff Rice, who represents 75 personalized education programs in California, told The Sacramento Bee. “While so many other public schools had to completely shut down their educational services, we kept them going without missing a heartbeat.”
Yes, that is their assertion.  They are correct that the schools stayed open.  But, there is no evidence that these were top performing schools, only that the schools were kept open.   The reporter stated this without analyzing the factual claim.   Yes, they kept the personalized learning schools going, but with no evaluation of their effectiveness.  No one knows if these on line connections were significant learning experiences,  or were they just on line efforts to cover up and/ or avoid social education?  We just do not know.  And,  no evidence that the "schools" are top performing.  The Personalized learning and Charter School folks  propose to change the allocation of funds and to stop the distribution based upon the current equity provisions of  LCFF.   That is, they would move money from current schools to their on line “ personalized” instruction.. what ever that is. 

The  writer makes the statement because advocates for charter schools, and the Charter School Development Center want readers to consider changes in  funding by ADA.  It is  more than unfortunate that  a Bee reporter  made this report without providing accurate, complete, and balanced coverage.   For coverage of LCFF  I recommend the news source EdSource.

The charter school advocates want to focus the discussion on shifting demographics caused by the Covid crisis and the closing of schools.  They want to only consider the changing enrollments.  However, that is intellectually dishonest.  The budget trailer bills were not drawn up based upon their assertion, they were drawn up based upon the agreed upon criteria of the LCFF that promote equity in funding.  

In the two months since the  California schools closed, a number of families have indeed moved their children out of public schools and into a network of charters.  They needed to “do something” with their children.  Many of these charters  had pre existing on line education programs.   These programs are substantially not evaluated.  The only measure being used is that parents moved their children. Moving children in a crisis does not prove that the schools are failing nor that on line personalized programs are “top schools”.    Now the corporate sector – with the Bee’s assistance- is seeking to gain funds by urging the legislature to  take  funds from public schools to fund these on line  coaching events.  

Here is a June research report on how the response to the virus is effecting K-12 schools.

There isn’t much research on the effectiveness of on line education.  What research exists concentrates on Moocs type courses that are substantially different than the individualized on line connections promoted  by this effort to reallocate funds by the charter developers. 
Here is an example of research on on-line learning

If any reader has evidence or research on the actual performance in this “personalized learning” in k-12 please share it.

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