According to ProPublica, "only two states require background checks for parents who choose to homeschool, and just 10 require parents to have a high school degree. Fewer than half require any kind of evaluation or testing of homeschooled children." (Homeschooling Regulations by State) Image used with permission.
If people like their local schools, regardless of what they think about schools nationally, they’re not going to be very likely to vote based on that issue...They’re not going to vote for someone just because that candidate is going to fix a problem with someone else’s schools.
-- Urban Institute senior fellow Matt Chingos in the LA Times (The problem with making education a campaign issue)
HBO's John Oliver picked up where others left off, pointing out how unprotected workers (ie, teachers, principals, parents, administrators) are against discrimination based on sexual preference in 31 states.
Via HuffPost. Or, watch an MSNBC segment on The Seventy Four, which has been criticized by the HuffPost for being a softball interview (which it was).
"Even while school-age children as a whole have become more diverse, most white students still attend largely white schools." Pew Center ("5 facts about America’s students) via BRIGHT
"Only 13 states have laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in K-12 schools, while Wisconsin protects students from discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity. So in a great majority of states, LGBTQ students have no explicit legal protections."
Good news, all of you concerned with crushing student loan debt (your own or the issue): According to this review in The Atlantic, Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Purity, features a main character who's faced with large loans and no obvious way to pay them off:
"Her mother broke off contact with her family before Pip was born, and Pip hasn’t been able to persuade her to reveal the truth about her past or the identity of Pip’s father. She’s burdened with $130,000 in student loans, lives in a squatter house in Oakland, and works for a company that fleeces energy consumers with misleading environmental rhetoric. Like her Dickensian original, she has the idea that if she were to discover her own backstory, something wonderful might happen—maybe even the zeroing-out of those student loans."
Author Franzen isn't particularly interested in education, but he and his work have come up several times here over the years. His 2010 book, Freedom, raised some issues related to Education, Parenting. There was the amazing speech he delivered at Kenyon in 2011 (Of Songbirds And Public Education) -- which prompted me to write perhaps the most sincere and least prickly thing I've ever published (Education Will Break Your Heart).
About 20 percent of NY students refused to take spring tests AP: About 20 percent of New York's third- through eighth-graders refused to take the statewide English and math tests given in the spring, the state's education chief said, acknowledging the opt-outs affected assessment data released Wednesday, which otherwise showed a slight uptick in overall student achievement... See also WSJ, Chalkbeat, EdWeek, NYT, WNYC.
News Corp. Planning to Sell Off Money-Losing Education Unit NYT: Amplify, the education division of Rupert Murdoch’s company, is in an “advanced stage of negotiations” with a potential buyer. See also BuzzFeed.
Labor Leadership Is Pushing Hillary Clinton, But the Grassroots Wants Bernie In These Times: “If you want to shape something, you get in before the primaries,” AFT President Randi Weingartensaid in defense of the endorsement. Weingarten, a longtime Clinton ally, is currently sitting on the board of pro-Clinton Super PAC Priorities USA Action.
Brown signs bills letting nannies' kids go to local schools AP: The Democratic governor signed without comment SB 200 by Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara, which permits the children of live-in workers such as nannies and maids to attend school in the districts where their parents work at least three days per week. An additional new law requires that schools have a set policy for investigating students' residency before hiring a private investigator to look into residency. It also prohibits students from being photographed or recorded by investigators and mandates an appeals process. See also District Dossier.
Charters transform New Orleans schools, and teachers Marketplace APM: One dominant symbol back then was a flag that read, "Class of 2014," the far off year these kids were expected to launch into college. To accomplish this with so many students so behind in their studies required teachers who could handle some very long school days. Bethaney, now 19, remembers teachers being at her charter deep into the evening. See also Part 2.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
States in red (like LA, MS, AL) have the earlier start times, while states in paler colors (like Alaska, Iowa, ND) start later. Via Huffington Post. Click here for the full story.
Former ProPublica writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, in School Segregation, the Continuing Tragedy of Ferguson, recalls of the inescapable truth that educators once acknowledged, and that we now need to remember. Children who attend the most segregated schools, Hannah-Jones reminds us, “are more likely to be poor. They are more likely to go to jail. They are less likely to graduate from high school, to go to college, and to finish if they go. They are more likely to live in segregated neighborhoods as adults.” Moreover, “their children are more likely to also attend segregated schools, repeating the cycle.”
Contributing to a continuing series by ProPublica and the New York Times on segregation, Hannah-Jones reports that “over the past 15 years …. the number of so-called apartheid schools — schools whose white population is 1 percent or less — has shot up. The achievement gap, greatly narrowed during the height of school desegregation, has widened.”
The national market-driven, test-driven school reform movement has downplayed the damage done by segregation. It’s choice-driven policies have actually increased the separation of students by race and class. And, This American Life’s The Problem We All Live With, featuring Hannah-Jones, begins with a mention of the research which explains why NCLB-type reforms have failed to improve schools serving neighborhoods with a critical mass of families from generational poverty. In doing so, it properly articulates the question that must be tackled before school improvement and other policies can promote racial justice and economic equality.
Accountability-driven reformers proclaimed their movement as the civil rights campaign of the 21st century, but they haven’t found a viable path towards school improvement. Competition-driven reformers derided traditional educators, who embrace socio-economic integration, early education, and full-service community schools, for allegedly making “excuses” and shifting attention away from the supposed real issue – bad teaching. But, This American Life has it right; reformers using competition-driven policies to improve instruction within the four walls of the classroom are distracting attention from the true problem.
There is no hokum that Diane Ravitch can write that will absolve her of her destructive support of this new slave trade... No monograph Karen Magee or S.O.S. soccer moms in Westchester’s leafy burbs can offer that trumps their doublespeak about educational opportunity for all…while they hoard it for themselves. -- NY-CAN's Derrell Bradford from a speech delivered yesterday at CCNY.
Note that this is far from the first time that slavery has come up in the education debate, most recently in a WNYC series this summer. See related posts on the topic: Slavery, The Holocaust, & NCLB (2008), What It's Like Being A 12 Year-Old (2015)
In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.— Dan Hodges (@DPJHodges) June 19, 2015
"In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over." -- Daily Telegraph commentator Dan Hodges via Wonkblog
Marketing research company eMarketer estimates that US retail back-to-school season sales will reach $831.33 billion in the months of July and August this year, "up 4.6% year over year and representing 17.3% of full-year retail sales." (Students Stuff Backpacks with Tech for Back-to-School)
Morning Video: Christie Swipes At Teachers Unions (Again), Missouri District Tries Integration (Again)
Here's Chris Christie's now-obligatory slap at the teachers unions from CNN.
But you really should spend your time listening to This American Life's latest podcast, about an unlikely and unexpected school integration experiment in Missouri. Streaming and download versions here.
Click "play" on this recent panel featuring TCF fellows Stefanie DeLuca and Halley Potter and L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy of CUNY discussing the nexus of race, housing, and education in America.
According to TCF's Potter, "segregation in housing and schools are intimately linked, and that we need to consider strategies that address both problems." She also notes that integrating schools doesn't really go far enough if classrooms aren't integrated, too, and choice alone isn't probably enough without equitable access to information and other supports.
Here's a chart comparing actual Loudoun County (VA) attendance zones to model zones that balance student demographics as much as possible and aren't "gerrymandered" in ways that exclude certain groups. Via EdWeek (New Tool Maps School Attendance Zones). Used with permission. Credit Teachers College Record.
This Matt Yglesias article and accompanying chart are going around today. In the piece, the Vox honcho makes the case -- too simplistically, according to some like Chalkbeat's Maura Walz -- that the housings costs of homes near high-performing public schools (top right quadrant) make them inaccessible to many middle- and low-income families, and that there are strong disincentives to letting more people live in those areas or dis-connecting school assignment and housing. Chart by Ginger Moored via Vox.
The New York Times reported that, on Wednesday, Atlantic magazine writer Ta-Nehesi Coates spoke with some Baltimore high school students.
Turns out it was Renaissance Academy in the Booker T. Washington HS building.
Check it out on Twitter, or click this link to watch Coates speak at the book launch event just afterwards (among other things about the privilege of having two parents when he was growing up).
"Over the past five years at least 28 students have been seriously injured, and in one case shot to death, by so-called school resource officers—sworn, uniformed police assigned to provide security on K-12 campuses," reports Mother Jones' Jaeah Lee (Chokeholds, Brain Injuries, Beatings: When School Cops Go Bad)
We've been through so much. Slavery. And once slavery ended, segregation. And once segregation ended, we’re still going through this today. What was all the hard work for? Why do we have to go through this again? -- NYC student interviewed in WNYC's latest story Being 12: Debating Race and Police
From tonight's PBS Frontline, Growing Up Trans: "It's much harder to be gender non-conforming than to be transgender," she says 11 year-old Ariel (born as Ian) about her experiences with bullying at school and her decision to go on hormone blockers.
Or, watch and listen about Swahili-speaking teens from Zanzibar who made a film about why they'll fail English (via NPR)
"From 2010 to 2014, parents had deliberate conversations with their children for, on average, only 3 minutes a day, and they read to their kids for 2.4 minutes per day (about one picture book’s worth)," according to FiveThirtyEight's look at the American Time Use Survey.
Watch this Washington Post interview with a college student who was recruited by Harvard to swim on the women's swim team but has transitioned and will now swim (and live) as a man. Or watch St. Louis area educator Tiffany Anderson who will be meeting with Hillary Clinton later today to talk education (via EdWeek). Or watch CNN Politics folks talk about Jeb Bush's swipes at Clinton and de Blasio over education.
Unfortunately, in cobbling together different funding sources and different types of preschools, the city has unintentionally reinforced barriers that keep rich and poor children apart, even in economically mixed neighborhoods. -- Clara Hemphill & Halley Potter in the NYT (Let Rich and Poor Learn Together)
If the purpose of school reform is improving education and not union-busting and privatization, reformers should do some soul searching after they read Robert Putnam's Our Kids. Had they known twenty years ago what Putnam documents today, would accountability-driven, competition-driven reformers have rolled the dice and sought to increase equity by holding teachers accountable for raising test scores?
Would they have believed that education failures produced by the stress of generational poverty could have been reversed by the stress of high-stakes testing? Would they have pretended that increased segregation produced by school choice could have been the cure for segregation created by economics? Had they recognized the importance of trusting social relationships, would reformers have demanded a basic skills testing regime that would inevitably degrade the learning cultures of poor schools and replace holistic instruction of poor children of color with nonstop remediation for primitive bubble-in tests?
I've long thought that conservatives like Fordham's Mike Petrilli, who now criticize value-added teacher evaluations, would be especially open to the insights of Putnam and others who help chart an escape from the constraints imposed by top-down micromanaging of classrooms. And, yes, Petrilli seeks to liberate some students from the social engineering known as "school reform."
Petrilli's How Schools Can Solve Putnam's Paradox offers support for Putnam and advocates for socio-economic integration like Richard Kahlenberg. He writes, "If loneliness, isolation, and extremely fragile families are big parts of the poverty problem, then connecting poor children with thriving families and communities can be part of the solution." Even better, Petrilli seeks to, "Build on the social capital that does exist in poor communities."
I think Petrilli's next proposal, "Build social capital by creating new schools," is weird, but he offers a reality-based disclaimer. He admits, "But the people who run these schools are often not from the community, and that creates inevitable conflicts. It’s also something of an open question whether these brand-new schools can create true social capital beyond their four walls."
There's a perception in some quarters that public schools within each school district are by and large equal in terms of how they're funded, and it's mostly charter schools that rake in the outside donations.
Well, this new piece from Catalyst Chicago (The price of fundraising) pretty much explodes that idea:
"For a select but growing group of schools in Chicago’s wealthier communities, parent fundraising has risen to new heights."
Last year, 8 schools raised more than $300,000 each. "Thirty brought in more than $100,000 and eight raised more than $200,000." One raised more than $600,000.
Much is being made of Caitlyn Jenner's transition and recent Vanity Fair cover, but gender non-conforming parents and children (and teachers) are slowly but surely making their presences known.
Above is a recent example. "My son went to school for 1st time in a dress 2day," wrote Vanessa Ford. In another tweet, she noted that her child is "joyful in a way unique to when he wears dresses" and that the school and classmates have been generally supportive.
When this happy image went around on Twitter yesterday, Jenn Borgioli Binis (aka @DataDiva) told us that @RaisingRainbow was 'a great resource to teachers in a chat on supporting transgendered students."
What kicked this all off (for me) this week was a personal narrative by Chicago-based education writer Maureen Kelleher about her own child's evolving gender identity and how she and her child's school are dealing with it.
Related posts: CA May Allow Trans Kids To Pick Teams (2013); Trans at 16 (2013); What’s So Bad About a Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress? (2012); Our Soon-To-Be Outdated Beliefs (About Education) (2009); Transgendered In The Classroom (2008); Bad Beef, Bad Hawaii, Cross-Dressing Kids...;
Branford Marsalis: "My students... all they want to hear is how good they are and how talented they are. And they're not... most of them aren't really willing to work to the degree to live up to that." via Vox Warning: NSFW language at the start of the clip.
Some Fieldston parents and NY Magazine readers may be concerned about the progressive private school's racial awareness program described in this week's magazine (Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?), but not everyone's quite so bothered by the effort.
As described in the magazine feature by Lisa Miller, the school asked elementary school kids to identify themselves by race and then separated them -- temporarily -- as part of a program to deepen the students' understanding of racism and differences. "It would foster interracial empathy by encouraging children to recognize differences without disrespect while teaching kids strategies, and the language, for navigating racial conflict."
The program is mandatory, and operates during the school day, and start with kids as young as eight. "In 45-minute sessions, children would talk about what it was like to be a member of that race; they would discuss what they had in common with each other and how they were different, how other people perceived them, rightly or wrongly, based on appearance. Disinhibited by the company of racially different peers, the children would, the school hoped, feel free to raise questions and make observations that in mixed company might be considered impolite."
Designed by Fieldston's Mariama Richards, the "affinity-group" program was meant to foster authentic conversation but it felt to some parents like a step backwards -- like segregation, like overkill. It wasn't a comfortable discussion in ethics class."This same parent who sends her children to Lower because she values diversity tends not to dwell on the fact that she has few close friends of color; that her neighborhood is almost entirely white; that her nanny or housecleaner or doorman has brown skin."
Racial and demographic diversity has long been a goal for progressive private schools, but mixing kids together is just a start. Efforts like these have been popping up in different places around the country. (My progressive private alma mater, Chicago's Francis Parker, just hired a director of diversity who seems like she's going to push the envelope for ostensibly liberal parents.) Fort Greene's Community Roots, a diverse progressive charter school, asked mixed groups of parents to engage in group activities outside of school in order to promote understanding and deepen classroom diversity.
See also this CNN segment featuring concerned parents:
The reaction so far to the article has been generally supportive of the effort at Fieldston:
Education writer Dana Goldstein, now at The Marshall Project, noted on Twitter that the piece "perfectly captures moment in which young(ish) progressive educators confront parents who hold old notions of "colorblindness." Once unusual, racial awareness programs (the invisible white backpack, etc.) are more commonly part of college than they used to be. "My demographic wouldn't be shocked if our kids were separated by race and asked to discuss it in "safe space," noted Goldstein. "We've been there."
Over at Vox, Jenée Desmond-Harris's post (Why a New York City school's idea to (temporarily) separate kids by race is smart) lists the many advantages of the Fieldston program, especially teaching the lessons that "ignoring race and racism doesn't make these things go away, and that white people have a racial identity, too."
Not everyone is a big fan of the approach being taken, however. Responding to the earlier NYT piece written by Kyle Spencer, New America's Connor Williams wrote a post titled The Limits of Talking About Privilege to Teenagers.
NYT editor Amy Virshup thought that the NY Magazine story might not offer much that readers hadn't already learned. "But @KyleYSpencer story on same topic ran in Feb., w/pix of real kids, not models. What's new?"
The issue of overkill -- not so much on the issue but perhaps the controversy at this particular school -- is also the focus of a recent blog post I wrote over at The Grade: Another Story About Fieldston’s Controversial Racial Awareness Program.
One thing I'd add is that it's not just kids who need more and better racial awareness programs but also educators and advocates. Teachers -- predominantly white and middle class -- need space and time to talk about and understand not only their students' backgrounds but also their own. And advocates -- reformers and critics alike, also predominantly white and college-educated -- would do well with more of the same.
Making sure that conference panels and speakers and attendees are more diverse is one step, as is engaging more diverse groups of stakeholders (not just mobilizing them). Panels about racial awareness or race-focused issues are good, too. But what about taking it one step further and doing a version of what Fieldston is doing and let adults engaged in education talk together in affinity groups and have some authentic conversations, too? I could see PIE, or TFA, or maybe the Shanker Institute or Century Foundation doing something like this. Or maybe it's already happening and I just haven't heard about it.
"Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson announced the creation of Head Start, the early education program designed to support the needs of low-income children and get them ready for elementary school. The NewsHour’s April Brown explores the legacy and efficacy of the iconic program." via PBS NewsHour. Or, watch this story about a girl being dragged behind a school bus (she's recovering), or Stephen Colbert's Wake Forest hilarious/insightful commencement speech.
In case you missed it, Wayne State University put this "Game Of Loans.... Interest Is Coming" image up on Facebook last week and it went viral pretty quickly. Hard to believe someone hadn't connected the show and the student loan phenomenon before (perhaps they had?). Insert statistics about loans and default rates at Wayne State here. Hat tip Robert Pondiscio.
More parents are fleeing to private schools with the hope of escaping the standards - whether they can afford to self-pay or they will come to support school vouchers in greater numbers. - Allison Hertog in HuffPost (Parent Opt-Out Movement: Engine of Common Core Unraveling?)
It's no easy job being smart and funny at the same time, and especially so when the topic is something as boring and controversial as standardized testing. But last night's John Oliver segment didn't seem to succeed at either task, and came off somewhat blinkered with its focus on the concerns of (mostly) white teachers and (mostly) white parents and students. Watch for yourself and let me know what you think:
As you'll see, there are some funny bits and great snippets -- Obama bashing standardized tests in a pandering campaign speech before the NEA, a dirty remark regarding the Common Core logo, a funny quip about teachers' inspirational class posters in the new age, a bit about value-added formulas coming from livestock prediction models (is that true?), the instructions on what to do if a kid throws up on a test (is THAT true?), the comparison of Pearson to Time Warner Cable, the pop culture references (Fight Club, etc.).
"I didn’t mean to cut him off,” said Bennett Middle School student Osman Yahya, 12, in a telephone interview with POLITICO. "I was just nudging him to get on." (POLITICO)
"Higher-earning consumers spend less on housing, food and health care. (They spend more total dollars in these categories, but because of their higher incomes, such purchases are a smaller share of their expenditures.) Transportation, however, takes up a bigger share of expenditures for those in the middle, and less for the lowest-earning households... Education follows a U-shaped pattern, taking up the largest share of expenditures for those at the bottom and top of the distribution." (WSJ: How Rich and Poor Spend (and Earn) Their Money)
"A majority of the states that have adopted Common Core won't use results to rate teachers this year. Of the 21 states that plan to use the tests as part of teacher evaluations in the future, many have already specified that the score will count for only a percentage of the evaluation." (Hechinger Report Stakes for “high-stakes” tests are actually pretty low).
Click the link and hover over each state for specific measures.
As for stakes for students: "Three states will use the test scores as some portion of a graduation requirement... Only three states will be using this spring’s Common Core-aligned test to regulate grade promotion."
All out war between kids and police pic.twitter.com/19y4YJ2Y5X— Erica L. Green (@EricaLG) April 27, 2015
Baltimore Sun education reporter Erica Green put herself in harm's way covering yesterday's protests and rioting, but in the process documented lots of what was going on. Follow @ericaLG for more of her images and impressions. Baltimore Sun reporter Liz Bowie was also posting images and updates, and EdWeek's Evie Blad was giving regular updates too.
Or, watch AFT head Randi Weingarten tell Pearson to stop spying on kids during online testing.
New York Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch says that "it’s been well over a year since I’ve had someone talk to me about instruction and curriculum. Everyone has talked to me about evaluations."
We are in the middle of a wonderful democratic moment as the Opt Out movement is poised to kill the high stakes testing vampire. And, even Tisch ridicules the idea that the test, sort, and punish school of reform can be saved by punishing parents who are standing up for their children. She says, “I would say to everyone who wants to punish the school districts ... Really, are you kidding me?”
But, Arne Duncan has even surpassed his previous political blunder of dismissing the concerns of "white suburban moms" whose kids might not be as brilliant as they think. He again demonstrates political sensitivity comparable to that of Southpark's Eric Cartman. As Chalkbeat's Patrick Wall reports, in As Opt Out Numbers Grow, Arne Duncan Says Feds May Have to Step In, Duncan now threatens to punish low-income schools in states which fail to hit participation rate targets.
The Education Czar demands, "Respect My Authorit-iii!"
Even better, Duncan reveals his lack of education judgment by asserting that his children aren't being injured by punitive testing mandates. After all, testing hasn't sucked all of the oxygen out of elite schools. Whether Duncan knows it or not, its under-the-gun, high-challenge schools that face the most pressure to impose drill and kill. He remains clueless about the inevitable ways that the toxicity dumped on teachers and administrators flows down onto the kids.
Duncan, the white suburban father, knows best. He, not moms and students, should decide how much of the joy of learning should be sacrificed in the name of bubble-in accountability.
Duncan's gaff is the best news since the announcement that 185,000 New York students have already opted out. He has just thrown more gasoline on the irreversible fire that is spreading through states that first adopted his extreme version of test-driven accountability.
My 13-year-old daughter leaves the house at 7:15 every morning and takes a smelly city bus to school* way uptown. It's like 8 degrees out, and it's dark and she's got this morning face and I send her out there to take a bus. I could send her in the Mercedes and then have it come back to get me, but I can't have my kid doing that. I can't do that to her. Me? I earned that f—ing Mercedes. You better f—ing believe it.
- Comedian Louis C.K. in the Hollywood Reporter
*Anyone know whether it's a public school he sends her to, and whether he opted her out?
Meet Kyle Schwarz, the Denver 3rd grade teacher who apparently started the #IWishMyTeacherKnew meme that has spread to at least 17 states, according to CBS News. Image via Twitter. @kylemschwartz.
Senate Attempts To Revise No Child Left Behind Measure NPR: A Senate committee begins work on a bill that would overhaul the education law. That measure — once considered a great uniter of politicians on the left and right — has since become a great divider. See also NPR
Parents Get An Earful on Opting Out of the State Tests WNYC: Last year, 1,925 students opted out, according to the city's Department of Education. In 2012, 113 students opted out of the tests, education officials said.
Some Parents Oppose Standardized Testing on Principle, but Not in Practice NYT: Even parents who are uncomfortable with the exams are discovering that it is hard to push the button on the nuclear option — refusing to have their own children take them.
Atlanta Judge Urges Talks on Sentences in School Cheating Case NYT: Judge Jerry W. Baxter said, he thought an appropriate sentence for educators convicted of altering test scores would mean sending them to jail. But then he had a change of heart. See also Washington Post: Judge urges Atlanta educators to accept plea deals in test cheating case.
Marco Rubio's education plan is pretty much like President Obama's Fusion: and Obama both support the idea of early childhood education. Rubio even said on CBS' Face the Nation that he thinks programs like Head Start, which Obama has championed, are well-intentioned.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Watch some Westchester County (NY) parents, teachers, and kids protest against testing above (click the link if the video isn't rendering properly, or read more about the event here). Or watch a DC school get ready for them (via PBS NewsHour) below: