It's the sound of parents saying "Enough." And it is spreading throughout the country and I believe if parents stay strong and united, it will defeat this tide of ed reform and testing craziness that is really the problem with making strong academic outcomes for all students.
- In Missouri, from the Fired Up! website, a story of Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst group trying to create "grassroots" interest in her initiatives. Last Wednesday they held a luncheon. The invite went like this: Do you want get involved in the effort to improve Missouri schools?
Come down to The Fig Tree Café and Bakery to share some good food with other Missourians who care about education. Find out more about how we can keep great Missouri teachers in the classroom and increase the number of quality public schools in our state. Fired Up! says this: The funny part? No one showed up. Not one grassroots activist came. Event organizers were forced to cancel the luncheon.
But here's the real question: are you really grassroots if no one shows up? Can you call yourself a grassroots organization if you spend millions upon millions of Rupert Murdoch and Koch Brothers' money to advance legislation that attacks working families and even your astroturf activists don't show up?
Here's the thing, this isn't the first time Rhee and her Students Rhee First campaign has had such an epic "grassroots" failure. Back in Connecticut, her campaign tried to hold a huge rally for education reformers and... you guessed it, no one showed up.
- From Texas, the number of districts speaking out against the huge amount of state testing went up to 421. From Chron.com - From Alamo Heights to Anahuac, from Highland Park to Huntsville, from Katy to Karnes City, school boards representing a great swath of Texas have united behind a revolutionary concept: Making high school students spend 45 days of the 180-day school year penciling in little bubbles does not constitute a good education. The resolution was conceived in February, after Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott publicly acknowledged that testing has become a "perversion" of its intent. Stunned by the blowback to Scott, a group of North Texas superintendents began circulating a resolution thanking the TEA commissioner for recognizing the dangers of worshipping at the altar of the standardized tests:
"Whereas, imposing relentless test preparation and boring memorization of facts to enhance test performance is doing little more than stealing the love of learning from our students. … Resolved, that the board of trustees calls upon the Texas Legislature to reexamine the public school accountability system in Texas."
- Again, another report shows that charters - this time in three states, New York, Ohio and Texas - receive more funding than public schools of comparable size. This is largely due to private or philanthropic donations. Naturally, KIPP, one of the larger and better known charter groups, disputes this finding (KIPP has disputed nearly every single finding in every report that includes them.) The report concludes that the charter school networks studied in New York spend more per pupil—in some cases, a lot more—than nearby traditional public schools that serve similar populations and grade levels, regardless of the size of school. Achievement First schools, the authors say, spent about $660 more, or 5 percent more, than the regular publics; Green Dot spent as much as $1,500 more, or 11 percent more; and Success Academies spent an additional $1,000, or 7.7 percent more. KIPP spending was significantly higher—33 percent, or $4,300 more per pupil, than comparable traditional public schools.
One of the takeaways from those cost comparisons, the authors argue, is that the costs of scaling up these charter schools can be high. Reproducing the models for relatively small populations—200 to 1,000 students—may be feasible, if private or philanthropic donations help cover costs. But if the same services are to be provided for 10,000 to 50,000 students, "philanthropy may no longer be sufficient," they write.
- A new issue to get candidates on record about? Education. From Education News, a story about the worry that the next NYC mayor might be more - gasp! - union-friendly and less ed reform than Bloomberg. In fact, a political group has been formed by Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein to be a counterweight to the teachers union. “This organization is really going to represent a redoubling of efforts, new energy and serious resources, invested in making our schools great in a climate that may not be as favorable post-Jan. 1, 2014,” Mr. Lasher said. (source, NY Times)
- A new parent group, Save Our Schools New Jersey has grown to 7,000 strong. Their issues state funding and charters schools. What's interesting is not that these parents want to necessarily get rid of charters but they are furious that local control has been taken away. They want to know who is granting charters (the state of New Jersey won't tell them), the state assists in helping weak charter applications and want their concerns over the control of local district dollars being lost to state officials granting charters. There is legislation pending in their legislature to correct these issues.
- From Education Week, an update to the Ninth Circuit Courts ruling against the so-called "highly qualified" teachers under NCLB. A federal appeals court on Thursday chimed in again in a long-running
dispute over whether the No Child Left Behind Act permits so-called
intern teachers to be considered "highly qualified" under the law.
Underlying the case is a battle between the forces of traditional
teacher education, including schools of education, and proponents of
alternative-teaching programs such as Teach for America. The lawsuit was
filed by a group of California activists including California ACORN,
Californians for Justice, and groups of minority parents and children,
who argue that the Education Department regulation permitted a
disproportionate number of teaching "interns" to teach in California
schools with large proportions of minority and low-income students.
In its new ruling in Renee v. Duncan, the 9th Circuit panel pointed out that Congress's action, known as Section 163 of a 2010 appropriations bill, was only temporary, through the end of the 2012-13 academic year.