Sunday, September 01, 2013

Ed Reform; Surging and Faltering

The push is on to expand charters, TFA, student data and yet, more and more people (including some legislators) are finally saying, "What is going on here?"

A highly acclaimed charter group in NYC were found to be trying to push out a child with disabilities - it was recorded on tape. From the Daily News:

The tapes, a copy of which the mother supplied the Daily News, poke a hole in claims by the fast-growing Success Academy chain founded by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz that it doesn’t try to push out students with special needs or behavior problems.

Nancy Zapata said she resorted to the secret tapes last December and again in March after school officials used their “zero tolerance” discipline policy to repeatedly suspend her son, Yael, kept telephoning her at work to pick him up from school in the middle of the day and urged her to transfer him.

The News reported earlier this week that the Success network, which boasts some of the highest test scores in the city, also has far higher suspension rates than other elementary schools and that more than two dozen parents were claiming efforts to push their children out.

What do you hear on the tapes?

What school officials did not do, Zapata said, was provide the kind of special education services that her son’s individual educational plan, or IEP, requires.
“We’re technically out of compliance because we aren’t able to meet what his IEP recommends for him.”

In the tapes, however, another Success administrator is heard acknowledging that Yael’s tantrums are related to his speech disability.

“If they have those special education needs, you’re absolutely right that they need to be fulfilled,” an official replies, but then quickly adds that the network doesn’t offer smaller special ed classes in kindergarten.

In other words, lottery or not, kindergarten kids like Yael who need smaller classes should find a public school that has one.

This is absolutely what I expect to happen here in Washington State.

Here's an e-mail - from 2010 - Neil Ruddock at the Indiana Department of Education to a couple of guys about their 2011 Legislative Agenda.  Here are what he calls "highlights":
  • number one; appoint state superintendent of public instruction
  • Strip and replace’revamp of state law re: teacher evaluations
  • Professional Standards Board eliminated and responsibilities to DOE
From a state senator:
  • DOE to authorize charters as well as private colleges/universities;
  • Remove the student cap on virtual charters, as well as the restriction that virtual charters focus on students with disabilities
  • Removal of collective bargaining constraints and teacher/parent petition requirements from the “conversion charter” statute
  • Unused public school buildings provided to charters free of charge
  • Via the budget bill, provide support for charter facilities
  • Revamp of textbook adoption statute. The Department has developed language that would eliminate State Board adoption, but require DOE to issue a ‘recommendations’ list and thus provide support to school corporations that lack capacity for their own textbook reviews.  
Remember how the "conversion" were about transforming schools and giving parents "power?"  Not so much I guess in Indiana.

The Dallas News reports one charter misspent $3.5M on spa treatments and first-class travel.   The school's "superintendent" received nearly $250k in compensation and:

Conflicts of interest were pervasive at The Varnett Public School, the report found, noting that Superintendent M. Annette Cluff employed family members and owned a bus company and a real-estate entity that made money off the school.

Pushback from the LA Times over charter expansion. 

When voters passed Proposition 39 in 2000, they surely had no idea of the headaches it would cause Los Angeles schools. Most Californians probably never even noticed the wording about providing space for charter schools, and if they did, they had little idea of what a charter school was. The chief purpose of the measure was to allow school bonds to pass with 55% of the vote rather than the two-thirds supermajority required up to that point.

Now that the Los Angeles Unified School District has a little room to spare, charter schools — publicly funded, privately operated schools that are free from most district rules and state regulations — have been invoking the provision in the proposition that requires space for charter students that is "reasonably equivalent" to that in the district schools they would have attended. This usually means sharing a campus with a traditional public school. In most cases, the two must coordinate the use of playing fields, gyms, the cafeteria and other common areas. 

But the effects go beyond figuring out how to divide up library hours. The California Charter Schools Assn. has been in a legal battle to gain more from L.A. Unified. Under the formula that it says should be used to allocate space for charters — a formula backed by state regulations implementing Proposition 39 — each charter school student would be allotted more space than a district student on the host campus. That's because charter schools, which are often subsidized through foundation grants, tend to have much smaller class sizes. The charter schools contend that they should be given a room for each class, even if that class has 15 students while a classroom of the same size at the traditional public school might have 30.

Now that L.A. Unified will be getting significant new money from the state, it can afford to reduce at least some class sizes as well as expand art and science programs. Those will need space, and first priority should go to the traditional public schools.

Bottom line?

The advantages that charter schools offer deservedly make them an attractive option, but providing for charter students should not come at the expense of students in traditional public schools.

Teach for America shows that they are willing and able to push past fully-trained and qualified new teachers.  Kind of like what is happening at UW.

From the Wait What? blog:

Last Monday night, Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s faux superintendent of schools revealed that he had hired another 31 Teach for America recruits to staff Bridgeport’s schools this year.   Few, if any of the recruits come from Connecticut and none went to a Connecticut college or university to become a teacher.

Not only are TFA recruits paid at regular teacher salary levels, but in return for supplying the Teach for America recruits, Vallas committed the City of Bridgeport to pay TFA a “fee” of “$3,000 per year for the first two years a teacher is employed. 

It was only last May that literally hundreds of Connecticut residents earned their teaching certificates, after four or five years-worth of work, at UConn, Connecticut State University or one of Connecticut’s Independent colleges or universities.

“Over the past few years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the IB/M program among the top 25 teacher preparation programs in Elementary Education, Secondary Education, and Special Education. We are nationally accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education as well as the Connecticut State Board of Education.

In fact, the teaching positions that went to the out-of-state Teach for America recruits weren’t even posted as vacancies, meaning Connecticut residents never even had a chance to compete for the spots.

Imagine, we have Connecticut students, and their families, who were forced to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to go to college.  They took the right courses, they got the right grades, they completed their teacher preparation programs and they earned their teaching certification.  But when they graduated they discovered that they couldn’t even apply for a significant number of jobs in Connecticut’s public schools because someone had cut a deal to give dozens of those jobs away to out-of-state kids who didn’t even need to take education courses. 

This is quite precisely what UW College of Ed and Seattle University College of Ed students believe will happen to them.

Gates and others complain about "importing" more workers with bachelor's degrees and yet, at least in teaching, he and others would be more than willing to import those workers. 

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