Thursday, July 29, 2021

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: What Is- and Is Not in the Infrasture bill

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: What Is- and Is Not in the Infrasture bill:   David  Dayen,  American Prospect.  july 29,2021     Joe Biden got exactly what he wanted  on Wednesday: a bipartisan deal on infrastructur...

Friday, July 16, 2021

How to Fight the Right Wing Culture War Against Critical Race Theory

How to Fight against Right Wing Culture War on ‘Critical Race Theory’ – And Win


The latest culture war of the American right is an all-out assault on ‘critical race theory.’ Like all culture wars mounted by the right, it has two fronts – first, a discursive battle to define public perceptions of ‘critical race theory’ in ways that facilitate attacks on efforts to address racism in education, and second, a political battle to issue gubernatorial executive orders and pass state legislation that severely restrict how K-12 teachers in public schools and faculty in post-secondary public institutions can discuss and work on issues of racism in their classes and schools. Part of that second front is an effort to mobilize voters on the right with an appeal to white racial resentment. The two fronts work in tandem, feeding off each other; consequently, they must be addressed together.


To counter the attacks on critical race theory, we need to understand the discursive strategies that are being employed. I find the following image useful to describe how this discursive approach works: the right treats critical race theory as something akin to a public bulletin board on which it can post all manner of leaflets, flyers and manifestos with negative associations.[1] In the absence of a contrary discourse, these negative associations then define the public understanding of critical race theory.


Here’s Christopher Rufo, perhaps the leading figure in the attacks on critical race theory[2], explaining this discursive strategy in a couple of tweets:

We have successfully frozen their brand – critical race theory – into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category. The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think “critical race theory.” We have decodified the term and will recodify to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.


And here is Rufo’s discursive approach in practice, in a New York Post piece which is typical of this culture war approach. With rapid fire assertion after assertion and extraordinary leaps of logic, it links critical race theory to a veritable pot pourri of associations that most people – but especially white conservatives – would find negative: Marxism, Stalin’s gulags, Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the Khmer Rouge’s ‘killing fields,’ ‘identity politics,’ ‘Black Communism,’ ‘anti-Americanism,’ ‘intersectionality,’ ‘suspension of property rights,’ ‘omnipotent bureaucracy,’ ‘reeducation camps,’ and ‘race-based redistribution of wealth.’ There are more, but the point has been made. The targeted reader does not even have to know all of the associated phenomena – few who consume the New York Post will know what ‘intersectionality’ refers to – because there are so many negative associations that he will recognize. Nor does he have to have the same intensity of reaction of to all of the associations, since there will be a sufficient number that he finds abhorrent. The reader concludes, therefore, that critical race theory must be a political evil.


With this foundation, the piece then adds into the mix terms that are employed in actual efforts to address racism in education: “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion” and “culturally responsive teaching.” On their own, these terms would appear innocuous, even positive in many respects, but identified with a critical race theory already cast in the most negative terms, they become guilty by association. To strengthen this fabric of guilt by association, these terms are sutured into a now familiar appeals to white racial resentment that has been the stock in trade of Trumpism, with claims of ‘discrimination’ against white people and attacks on the ‘free speech’ of white people deemed ‘insufficiently anti-racist.’


This discourse concludes with a call to culture war arms: “This ideology will not stop until it has devoured all of our institutions… Critical race theorists must be confronted.”


What is an effective response?


Let’s start with what NOT to do.


1. Ignore the attacks.

Yes, culture war attacks on critical race theory are unsupported by logical argument and convincing evidence. Within a scholarly community, attacks like Rufo’s New York Post piece will garner no serious attention: their sheer intellectual dishonesty alone is disqualifying. But these attacks are not part of academic colloquia. If we have learned nothing else from the last decade, we should know that propaganda of this sort does not have to be logical or supported with evidence to be effective. It must be actively countered.[3]


2. Think that the attacks can be finessed with terminological shifts.

If the right makes a term toxic, why can’t we just shift to a different term? A variant of this thinking is now at work in education, where it has been suggested that we use the term ‘racially literate’ education, rather than ‘anti-racist’ education, to evade the attacks on Kendi’s ‘anti-racist’ book. Methods which propose a simple side-stepping of unfounded attacks have an obvious appeal, but by themselves they are ultimately ineffectual. If the larger discourse is left intact, it is a relatively simply matter to add any new term to it, and even to place that new term at its center. If terms with positive connotations like ‘equity,’ ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ can be sullied through association with the parade of politically negative terminology patched together by Rufo and others, any term can meet a similar fate. New nomenclature will only have efficacy if it is part of an overall approach which counters the discourse itself. 


3. Respond with ‘corrections of the record.’

An understandable reaction to a complete misrepresentation of a body of scholarship like critical race theory is to seek to ‘correct the record.’ While it is important to clearly state that the portrait of critical race theory drawn in these attacks is without foundation, it is a mistake to think that it is desirable or even possible to respond effectively to this sort of attack with corrections of the misrepresentations and distortions. The lies are legion, and while you are at work correcting the first, ten more will have been added to the list.


In this regard, it is worthwhile to put the attacks on critical race theory in political context. Over the last two years, there have been two dry runs for mounting a right wing culture war on the front of race and education: the attacks on the 1619 Project curated by Nikole Hannah-Jones and published by the New York Times and on Ibram Kendi’s book How to be an Anti-Racist. Neither of those attacks has been abandoned (witness the recent denial of tenure to Hannah-Jones, and the ban on teaching 1619 in proposed laws and executive actions), but instead rolled into the culture war on critical race theory. This shift in focus is because for this discursive strategy, critical race theory makes a much more inviting target. Both the 1619 Project and Kendi’s book are discrete texts, with actual arguments that can’t be entirely ignored and with authors who can speak authoritatively for what was written and what it means. By contrast, critical race theory is a body of scholarship on questions of race that can be found in dozens of fields of research, and in thousands of texts by hundreds of authors. (The closest analogue would be feminist theory.) If the object is to create a vast field of negative associations around a term which is unfamiliar to the target lay audience, it is far easier to do with critical race theory, because it covers a much broader intellectual terrain, and does not have a single, coherent argument or authors that can speak for it an authoritative way. That is why it is now the preferred target of the right wing culture war.


It is essential to keep foremost in mind what is really at stake in these attacks. It is not the reputation of actual critical race theory (or the 1619 Project or Kendi’s book.) Rather, the objectives of the right are twofold: First, there are political initiatives – the legislation and the executive orders – that seek to drastically limit teaching and learning about racism in public K-12 and higher education. Second and related, there are efforts to mobilize voters – especially conservative, white male voters – around a political project of racial resentment and antagonism. To the extent that a response is entirely defensive, seeking to restore the ‘good name’ of the targets of the discursive strategy, it is a losing stratagem that fails to engage on these key objectives.


What to Do:


1.    Go on the offense.

The most effective response quickly and concisely states that the attacks on critical race theory are without foundation, based on misrepresentations and out of context citations, and then quickly turns to counter the political objectives of the attacks on critical race theory – especially the attempts to restrict teaching and learning on issues of race. This discursive battle is not won on the defense; defensive interventions should be short, declarative and to the point, and followed by extensive offensive counter-attacks.


2.    Focus on what is really at stake.

Talk about the proposed laws and executive orders, and what they do. Demonstrate how they would directly impact what can be discussed in schools, colleges and universities. 


Examine how they would impede and inhibit efforts to make public schools, colleges and universities into welcoming and nurturing places for students of all races by addressing the obstacles which students of color face. Explain why, for example, these actions undermine a culturally responsive pedagogy which is so vital for students of color to see themselves, their experiences and their heritage culture in their education, as white students already do.


Discuss how these laws and executive orders seek to prevent a full study of American history by preventing the free and unimpeded investigation of the impact of racism on American government and society, starting with enslavement itself. Bring up concrete examples of what would be prohibited, such as the consideration of how slavery shaped the U.S. constitution with the ‘three-fifths clause,’ the ‘fugitive slave clause,’ and the design of counter-majoritarian institutions such as the Senate to give southern ‘slave’ states an effective veto over government policy, as well as the role of the Supreme Court in defending systemic racism for much of its history, such as in its Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson decisions.[4] Make the connections between that history and attacks on the right to vote and democracy today. 


Describe how topics such as the finally acknowledged Tulsa Massacre of 1921 and other acts of government-sanctioned violence against African Americans, including the lynching and rape that were pervasive under the Jim Crow regime, could be called into question. Explain how debates on the role of systemic racism and racial segregation in the economic subjugation of African Americans and other people of color – through job discrimination, restrictive housing covenants, redlining and the shaping of government programs – would be prohibited.[5] Make the connections between those practices and the vast racial wealth gap of today.


Talk about how consideration of the deep impact of systemic racism on criminal justice, education and health care would be restricted.[6] Make the connections between that history and the disparities we find in the COVID pandemic, policing and mass incarceration today.


Explain how the proscriptions written into these laws and executive orders could extend beyond the history of racism toward African Americans to include such matters as the Trail of Tears and campaigns of extermination against indigenous people; the Mexican-American war and forced deportations of the 1920s and 1930s; and the Chinese American Exclusion Act of 1882 and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.


3.    Remember who are trusted to make decisions about education, and why.

Right wing culture wars seek to mobilize populist resentment against intellectual and cultural elites. (Insofar as the right can bring it itself to criticize economic elites, it is only when ‘woke capital’ aligns itself with a position in defense of racial diversity or against voting rights restrictions.[7]) That is why academics and institutions like the New York Times have been selected as targets in the attacks on critical race theory. The resentment against cosmopolitan elites has been an enduring presence in American history, finding expression in such forms as the ‘Know Nothing’ movement; it resonates among parts of the American public who feel ‘left behind.’ But it is far from the totality of our history and the current moment.


Who do most Americans trust and have confidence in? In public opinion polling on the most trusted and distrusted professions, K-12 teachers continually rank at the top as most trusted, together with nurses and doctors – despite having borne the brunt of many right wing attacks, including during the COVID pandemic. College faculty do not rank as high, but still far outweigh groups at the bottom – elected officials in Washington DC and state capitols are among the lowest. This ranking reflects the fact that like health care, education is seen as ‘caring’ work that a person enters to help others.


So the question that needs to be posed is this: Who do we want making decisions about how public schools, colleges and universities address issues of racism – educators or elected officials? Would we rather that those who have studied how to educate our children and are experienced in that work, those who have the closest relationship with our children and care about them as individuals, make these decisions? Or would we rather that elected officials looking to gain political advantage and increase their power by stoking racial resentment and antagonism make those decisions?


4.    Make the argument for the freedom to teach and engage in scholarship as essential to democracy.

Most Americans accept that there will always be controversies about how to understand our history and society. The question then is: How do we want those controversies and disagreements to be addressed in our nation’s schools, colleges and universities? Do we want them to be freely debated and deliberated, with all ideas subject to criticism and made better by that process? Or do we want the government to be able to preempt that debate, deciding which interpretations should be taught and learned by prohibiting and censoring other interpretations? 


Disagreements over such matters are how our knowledge and understanding develops and grows. By contrast, the crass politicization of history and social science, with the use of propaganda to misrepresent and distort scholarship and learning such as we see in the attacks on critical race theory, is what authoritarian movements do. And state mandates on which topics and schools of thought can and cannot be discussed in schools are what authoritarian governments do.


At the core of this question is the ability of educators to educate their students into democratic citizenship. The mandate in the Texas law that a current controversy can only be taught "without giving deference to any one perspective" was manifestly written to hinder the ability of teachers to provide a factual basis and encourage critical thinking in discussions of who won the 2020 election and what happened on the January 6. Our political freedom and our democracy are inextricably intertwined with our freedom to teach and to engage in scholarship without being subjected to the political whims of would-be authoritarians in government.


5.    Make the connection between the struggle for freedom and democracy.

The story of the forward progress of American democracy cannot be told without according a central role of the Black freedom struggle. When that struggle moved forward – with the end of slavery, the Civil War amendments and Reconstruction, and again with the civil rights movement and the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act – so did American democracy. When that struggle suffered defeats – with the end of Reconstruction and the imposition of Jim Crow and de jure racial segregation – so did American democracy. We rise – and fall – together. To realize the democratic promises of its founding documents, of liberty and justice for all, the United States must embrace that freedom struggle.


Leo Casey,

Albert Shanker Institute

An update of this piece is in process. 




[1] There is a body of linguistic theory that explains this discursive process, one which makes “critical race theory” into an ‘empty signifier’ which can be ‘filled’ with a vast array of negative meanings in a chain of equivalences.  But one does not have to delve into that theory to grasp the fundamentals of the discursive strategy being employed.


[2] Rufo is a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute. He is partisan of Donald Trump, and was hired as part of the Institute’s conversion to full bore Trumpism. On that conversion, see Sol Stern, “Think Tank in the Tank.”

[3] I will not consider suggestions that the way to respond to right wing culture war is to join in it in some way, such as advocated by Ruy Teixeira for the Democratic Party in this New York Times article. I imagine that there is some theory of political triangulation lurking beyond such ideas, but in my view, such an approach is tantamount to surrender to this propaganda.

[4] These themes were addressed in the essays of Jamelle Bouie and Nikole Hannah-Jones in the 1619 project. The Texas law prohibits instruction in history that requires “an understanding of The 1619 Project." Moreover, it prohibits teaching that “slavery and racism are anything other than...betrayals of...the authentic founding principles.” 


[5] These themes were discussed in the essays of Kevin Kruse and Trymaine Lee in the 1619 project.


[6] These themes were discussed in the essays of Bryan Stevenson and Linda Villarosa in the 1619 project.


[7] See, for example, Marco Rubio’s New York Post op-ed, “Corporations that undermine American values don’t deserve GOP support.” 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Is Learning Loss Real ?


Does It Hurt Children to Measure Pandemic Learning Loss?

Research shows many young children have fallen behind in reading and math. But some educators are worried about stigmatizing an entire generation.

Ed. Is learning loss real


Over the past year, Deprece Bonilla, a mother of five in Oakland, Calif., has gotten creative about helping her children thrive in a world largely mediated by screens.

She signed them up for online phonics tutoring and virtual martial arts lessons. If they are distracted inside the family’s duplex, she grabs snacks and goes with the children into the car, saying they cannot come out until their homework is done. She has sometimes spent three hours per day assisting with school assignments, even as she works from home for a local nonprofit organization.

It all sometimes feels like too much to bear. Still, when her fifth-grade son’s public-school teacher told her he was years behind in reading, she was in disbelief.

“That was very offensive to me,” she said. “I’m not putting in myself, my hard work, his hard work, for you to tell me that he’s at second-grade reading.”

Ms. Bonilla’s experience illustrates a roiling debate in education, about how and even whether to measure the academic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s children — and how to describe learning gaps without stigmatizing or discouraging students and families.

Studies continue to show that amid the school closures and economic and health hardships of the past year, many young children have missed out on mastering fundamental reading and math skills. The Biden administration has told most states that unlike in 2020, they should plan on testing students this year, in part to measure the “educational inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

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But others are pushing back against the concept of “learning loss,” especially on behalf of the Black, Hispanic and low-income children who, research shows, have fallen further behind over the past year. They fear that a focus on what’s been lost could incite a moral panic that paints an entire generation as broken, and say that relatively simple, common-sense solutions can help students get back up to speed.




The Biden administration has told states that unlike in 2020, they should plan on testing students this year, in part to measure the “educational inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.” Credit...John Moore/Getty Images

“This isn’t a lost generation,” said Kayla Patrick, a policy analyst at the Education Trust, a national advocacy group focused on low-income students and students of color. “They just need extra support — in many cases, the support they probably needed before the pandemic, like tutoring.”

Others go further, arguing that regardless of what terminology is used, standardized testing to measure the impact of the pandemic is unnecessary or even actively harmful. Voices as prominent as the former New York City schools chancellor, Richard Carranza, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the state’s largest educators’ union, have encouraged parents to opt their children out of state tests during the pandemic. “We do not want to impose additional trauma on students that have already been traumatized,” Mr. Carranza said.

This week, the nation’s largest school system, in New York City, announced that parents would have to opt their children in to state standardized testing, which could lead to a smaller group of students taking the exams, and results that will be difficult to interpret.

Jesse Hagopian, a Seattle high school teacher and writer, said testing to measure the impact of the pandemic misses what students have learned outside of physical classrooms during a year of overlapping crises in health, politics and police violence.

“They are learning about how our society works, how racism is used to divide,” he said. “They are learning about the failure of government to respond to the pandemic.”

Mr. Hagopian said he believed that “learning loss” research was being used to “prop up the multi-billion-dollar industry of standardized testing” and “rush educators back into classrooms before it’s safe to do so.”

Some of the recent research has been conducted by outfits that create and license academic assessments, but other research has been led by independent scholars. Both types of studies show some students are struggling.

A preliminary national study of 98,000 students from Policy Analysis for California Education, an independent group with ties to several large universities, found that as of late fall, second graders were 26 percent behind where they would have been, absent the pandemic, in their ability to read aloud accurately and quickly. Third graders were 33 percent behind.

Those differences were equivalent to being able to read seven to eight fewer words per minute accurately.



Lara Uhrbrock, a tutor with Oakland Reach, said students mostly needed to brush up on forgotten skills.Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Heather J. Hough, an author of the working paper, said schools might need to provide extra instructional time to help students catch up. But she warned against an approach that focused only on academics, saying that young children needed recess, playtime and social time — some of which have been in short supply during the pandemic — to be able to absorb new information effectively.

“That is as critical to early reading development as the technical skills,” she said.

Another national study of more than one million students from Curriculum Associates, an assessment company, found that this winter, there were reductions of up to 16 percent in the number of elementary school students performing at grade level in math, and up to 10 percent in the number of students performing at grade level in reading.

While there are deficits across demographic groups, the gaps were larger in schools that serve predominantly Black, Hispanic or low-income students.

At least one large study found no decline in fall reading performance, and only modest losses in math. But testing experts caution that the true impact of the pandemic on learning could be greater than is currently visible. Many of the students most at risk academically are missing from research because they are participating irregularly in online learning, have not been tested or have dropped off public school enrollment rolls altogether. In addition, some students have been tested at home, where they could have had assistance from adults.

Debates about the extent of missed learning are more than academic. If remote school is actively harming children’s skill development, it becomes harder for teachers’ unions, school boards or administrators to argue that schools should remain shuttered as vaccines roll out across the nation, or should operate only on limited schedules.

Nationwide, about half of students attend schools that are currently offering daily, in-person learning. Federal data shows stark disparities. As of January, the majority of Black, Hispanic and Asian-American fourth graders were learning fully remotely, compared to a quarter of white fourth graders. And West Coast schools are lagging significantly behind in reopening.

It is not yet clear from research to what extent school closures have driven learning deficits during the pandemic, as opposed to the other upheavals families have endured, from job loss and housing instability to illness and lack of reliable child care. Many families continue to choose remote learning even where schools are open.




Almarie Frazier’s 12-year old daughter, Kamari, has been writing poetry in a remote tutoring program and studying science, while her 7-year old son, Wayne, is receiving small-group reading help via Zoom. Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

But some experts, like Ms. Patrick of the Education Trust, warn against continued online instruction, despite its popularity with a subset of parents and students. Research suggests that in-school tutoring from a highly trained teacher or aide, ideally one-on-one or in a small group, can help students who are behind catch up academically — services that could be paid for with the billions of stimulus dollars districts are set to receive from Washington.

In Oakland, nonprofit organizations have been able to provide some of the personalized academic support that parents say their children need to stay on track.

One group, Oakland Reach, provides remote tutoring, arts instruction and other services to hundreds of students, largely low-income, Black and Latino, including Ms. Bonilla’s children.

Almarie Frazier’s 12-year old daughter, Kamari, has been writing poetry in the program and studying science, while her 7-year old son, Wayne, is receiving small-group reading tutoring via Zoom. It has been a refreshing experience after months of frustration with the school district, Ms. Frazier said, in which online systems failed to accurately record her daughter’s assignments or attendance, forcing Kamari to stay up late into the night to catch up on schoolwork.

“There is still a disconnect,” she said of her relationship with the district during remote learning.

Lara Uhrbrock, a tutor with Oakland Reach, said that many students were behind but not irreparably so, and that they mostly needed to brush up on forgotten skills. Equally important was connecting with children and parents emotionally, she said, given the stress of the past year.

“You bridge the academics with a little bit of, ‘Hey, how are you? How is your day? Do you need something?’” she said. “They want to know you are invested.”

Dana Goldstein is a national correspondent, writing about how education policies impact families, students and teachers across the country. She is the author of “The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession.”


Children have learning loss.  Loss compared to what? Loss compared to state and national averages of children who attended school.  Yes, of course there is loss. 

Do you have a proposed solution?  How are you going to move everyone up to average?

Do poor and minority and English learners have more learning loss than others.  Yes, of course.  What is offered as an alternative ?

Lots of self serving programs and projects with no empirical evidence that they will compensate for learning loss.


Yes, children out of school lost out.

English learners and the poor lost more than did middle class kids. That is how our system works.

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Failure of School Improvement Grants


The Failure of the Obama-Duncan “School Improvement Grants” and Its Lessons for Today

By dianeravitch


A while back, I read a vitriolic article in a rightwing publication that expressed contempt for the public schools and congratulated Betsy DeVos for trying to cut federal funding for schools.

The article asserted that public schools are “garbage” and the government should slash their funding. A major piece of evidence for the claim that money doesn’t matter was the failure of the Obama administration’s School Improvement Grants program, which spent more than $3 billion and accomplished nothing. The evaluation of SIG was commissioned by the U.S Department of Education and quietly released just before the inauguration of Trump. The report was barely noticed. Yet now it is used by DeVos acolytes to oppose better funding of our schools.

The wave of Red4Ed teachers’ strikes in 2019 exposed the woeful conditions in many schools, including poorly paid teachers, lack of nurses and social workers and librarians, overcrowded classrooms, and crumbling facilities. The public learned from the teachers’ strikes that public investment in the schools in many states has not kept pace with the needs of students and the appropriate professional compensation of teachers. Many states are spending less now on education than they did in 2008 before the Great Recession. They reacted to the economic crisis by cutting taxes on corporations, which cut funding for schools.

Sadly, the Obama-Duncan Race to the Top program promoted the same strategies and goals as No Child Left Behind. Set goals for test scores and punish teachers and schools that don’t meet them. Encourage the growth of charter schools, which drain students and resources from schools with low test scores.

One can only dream, but what if Race to the Top had been called Race to Equity for All Our Children? What if the program had rewarded schools and districts that successfully integrated their schools? What if it had encouraged class-size reduction, especially in the neediest schools? Race to the Top and the related SIG program were fundamentally a replication and extension of NCLB.

When Arne Duncan defended his “reform” (disruption) ideas in the Washington Post, he cited a positive 2012 evaluation and belittled his own Department’s 2017 evaluation, which had more time to review the SIG program and concluded that it made no difference. The 2017 report provided support for those who say that money doesn’t matter, that teacher compensation doesn’t matter, that class size doesn’t matter, that schools don’t need a nurse, a library, a music and arts program, or adequate and equitable funding.

The Education Department’s 2017 evaluation shows that the Bush-Obama strategy didn’t made a difference because its ideas about how to improve education were wrong. Low-performing schools did not see test-score gains because both NCLB and RTTT were based on flawed ideas about competition, motivation, threats and rewards, and choice.

Here is a summary of the SIG program in the USED’s report that the Right used to defend DeVos’s proposed budget cuts.

The SIG program aimed to support the implementation of school intervention models in low-performing schools. Although SIG was first authorized in 2001, this evaluation focused on SIG awards granted in 2010, when roughly $3.5 billion in SIG awards were made to 50 states and the District of Columbia, $3 billion of which came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. States identified the low-performing schools eligible for SIG based on criteria specified by ED and then held competitions for local education agencies seeking funding to help turn around eligible schools.

SIG-funded models had no significant impact on test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment…

The findings in this report suggest that the SIG program did not have an impact on the use of practices promoted by the program or on student outcomes (including math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment), at least for schools near the SIG eligibility cutoff. In higher grades (6th through 12th), the turnaround model was associated with larger student achievement gains in math than the transformation model. However, factors other than the SIG model implemented, such as unobserved differences between schools implementing different models, may explain these differences in achievement gains.

These findings have broader relevance beyond the SIG program. In particular, the school improvement practices promoted by SIG were also promoted in the Race to the Top program. In addition, some of the SIG-promoted practices focused on teacher evaluation and compensation policies that were also a focus of Teacher Incentive Fund grants. All three of these programs involved large investments to support the use of practices with the goal of improving student outcomes. The findings presented in this report do not lend much support for the SIG program having achieved this goal, as the program did not appear to have had an impact on the practices used by schools or on student outcomes, at least for schools near the SIG eligibility cutoff.

What NCLB, Race to the Top, and SIG demonstrated was that their theory of action was wrong. They did not address the needs of students, teachers, or schools. They imposed the lessons of the non-existent Texas “miracle” and relied on carrots and sticks to get results. They failed, but they did not prove that money doesn’t matter.

Money matters very much. Equitable and adequate funding matters. Class size matters, especially for children with the highest needs. A refusal to look at evidence and history blinds us to seeing what must change in federal and state policy. It will be an uphill battle but we must persuade our representatives in state legislatures and Congress to open their eyes, acknowledge the failure of the test-and-punish regime, and think anew about the best ways to help students, teachers, families, and communities.

The findings of the report were devastating, not only to the SIG program, but to the punitive strategies imposed by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, which together cost many more billions. 

My first reaction was, Money doesn’t matter if you spend it on the wrong strategies, like punishing schools that don’t improve test scores, like ignoring the importance of reducing class size, like ignoring the importance of poverty in the lives of children, like ignoring decades of social science that out-of-school factors affect student test scores more than teachers do.

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Saturday, July 03, 2021

What Is Post-Trump Patriotism ?

 What Is Post-Trump Patriotism?

As Americans celebrate Independence Day, we asked social justice activist Dorian Warren where we are as a nation, and where we might be going.

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