Saturday, January 04, 2014

National Ed News Knocks at our Door

Here are some stories from around the country that will have more and more bearing on what we are doing in Washington State.

From Ed Week, a top 12 list of stories from the past year.  The majority of them are about Common Core as the fight goes on.  Linked to Common Core (and you see this in story after story elsewhere) is student data privacy.  I also note the presence of a story on grading schools A-F which I predict will show up in this session of the Legislature.

Here's one from Bill Moyers about the "Snowden Effect" or we could just call it the canary in the coal mine.  For some reason the media chooses to listen to established (or paid for by, establishment) groups.  There are a lot of people out there, including this blog, going into the dark corners looking around.  That we only have a flashlight and not a spotlight doesn't mean we are wrong.  

These days, the establishment media all too often adopts an indifferent attitude toward how the public connects with what it publishes, content to merely be conveyors of information rather than providers of context, chroniclers of the powerful instead of champions of the powerless. 

That truly free societies depend upon a free press that does more than just finds the facts and tells the stories and calls it a day. They demand a larger commitment from journalists and journalism, a willingness to make the stories matter. To not just make a sound, but to be heard.

In advance of the upcoming charter applicant forums, a guest post at The Answer Sheet by Mark Naison who asks four basic questions of charter schools today:

In the past six years, have charters:
1. Narrowed the gap in educational achievement by race and class, whether measured by test scores, high school graduation rates, college completion rates, or  more holistic measures?
2. Helped to stabilize and improve inner city neighborhoods and protect them from gentrification, displacement and demographic inversion (moving the poor out of cities into the suburbs)?
3. Created a stable force of talented committed teachers in inner city communities, many of whom live in the communities they teach in?
4. Helped reduce neighborhood and school violence or disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in any important way?

These are great questions because so much of the "advancement" that charters have made is about growing in numbers and not in quality or output.  Have charters REALLY made a difference in any state or even a single district?  I haven't seen one study yet to support that.  

The Walton Foundation continues its march to privatize public education.  This story comes from the Schools Matter blog.  They quote from the Washington Post:

The Walton Family Foundation is pumping $6 million into a Washington-based group that promotes private school vouchers in D.C. and around the country — a donation that it hopes will double the number of students using tax dollars to pay private school tuition.

The foundation, created by the heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, is giving the money to the Alliance for School Choice, a nonprofit that has been promoting and lobbying for school voucher programs in D.C., Ohio, Indiana, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.


You can certainly shake your head and say it won't happen here but we've said that before. 

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