Friday, September 02, 2016

Public Education Stories From Around the Country

It's not often you see public education and entertainment cross (but see John Oliver and charter schools) but now we have a trifecta of Donald Trump, Colin Kapenick of the San Francisco '49s and public education.  (For those out of the loop, Kaepernick did not stand for the national anthem in the last two preseason games he was in.  He said he was because the song is racist (and read that third verse - I honestly never did before this) and the nation does not have freedom for all.

In wades Donald Trump.  He addressed the American Legion Convention this morning and said  would be "promoting American pride and patriotism in America's schools." How? Via ABC News:
  • "We want young Americans to recite the Pledge of Allegiance," Trump said.  If reciting the pledge is the most patriotic thing we can ask of students, we may be asking them to do the  wrong thing.  Also, they really need to get rid of the "under God" part.
  • One country, under one Constitution, saluting one American flag. And always saluting it," he said.  Is the pledge a salute?  Or, as some believe, was he referencing Kaepernick staying seated during the anthem?
Want to see what a Trump presidency might push in public education?  For one thing, he says he'd get rid of the Department of Education.  I may not have liked Arne Duncan's work but to say the feds have no role in public education almost defies belief.

But take a look at what one of his closest advisors - Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey - wants to do in his state and you get an idea of what Trump would support.

From Slate:
“No child in this state is worth more state aid than another,” he said. He suggested equalizing per-student education funding across New Jersey so every public school, whether in a suburb or city, receives $6,599 in state aid per child.
This might sound like a civil rights speech—a plea to provide more opportunities to the neediest kids. In fact, if enacted, Christie’s proposal would amount to a huge giveaway to the children and families who are already thriving in New Jersey while hurting the kids who most need a leg up. With this plan, the governor hopes to lower taxes and end a state program that sends extra money to schools that educate at-risk children. Lest you have any doubt about whom Christie is trying to protect with his “equalization” plan, consider the fact that although his proposal would cut supplemental funding for poor children and English language learners, it would continue to send extra money to children with learning disabilities—a group, unlike the other two, that is majority white.
What's interesting is New Jersey has - from a court case - something called "Abbott school districts" that receive supplemental funding because of the income levels of their students.  
This system is considered a national model in getting resources to the kids who need them most. But Christie has always opposed it. When he came into office in 2010, he proposed more than $1 billion in education budget cuts, a move the state Supreme Court declared unconstitutional.
New Jersey is one of the top two states in the nation on academic performance adjusted for student demographics, meaning poor children there academically outperform poor children in every state except Massachusetts.  There is little doubt that extra funding for poor children drove those gains. While self-declared school reformers like Christie have long argued that “more money” cannot drive educational improvement, new longitudinal research shows higher graduation rates and higher adult incomes nationwide in places where courts ordered more school funding for poor kids.
Speaking of public ed and politics, a great article from Alternet about Hillary Clinton's running mate, Tim Kaine and how his views could influence her policy on public education
An education “reform” establishment that has enjoyed the complete support of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush may be getting nervous.

Politico education journalist at the DNC reported that Shavar Jeffries, president of Democrats for Education Reform, a policy group that has gotten used to getting its way in the Obama administration, said, “There was ‘anxiety’ within the education reform movement over the future of [the movement’s] priorities.”

In what may be the most revealing commentary about his education perspectives, an op-ed he wrote for his hometown Richmond paper, Kaine lays out an education agenda of increased personalization, relief from the testing mandates, richer and more varied curriculum, and support and autonomy for experienced teachers.  

Education journalists covering Kaine also never fail to include mention of his wife Anne Holton, who serves as Virginia’s secretary of education. As education journalists at The Washington Post explain, Holton “has worked to reform a standardized testing regime that had been criticized as unnecessarily time-consuming and onerous.”
Some interesting state from latest data from the U.S. Department of Education on our nation's public schools.  (The data will be available to the public by the fall.)  From the Washington Post:
The U.S. Education Department on Tuesday released a trove of data drawn from surveys of nearly every single one of the nation’s 95,000 public schools. This latest installment of the Civil Rights Data Collection, from the 2013-2014 school year, offers a sobering look at the wide disparities in experience and opportunity that divide the nation’s 50 million students.

Meantime, here are five eye-opening figures from the overview that the Education Department released Tuesday:

1. In the 2013-2014 school year, 6.5 million children were chronically absent from school, missing 15 or more days of school.
2. 850,000 high school students didn’t have access to a school counselor.  The national average is close to 500 students per school counselor; many student have no counselor at all.

3. 1.6 million students went to a school that employed a sworn law-enforcement officer, but no counselor.

4. Nearly 800,000 students were enrolled in schools where more than 20 percent of teachers hadn’t met state licensure requirements.

5. Racial disparities in suspensions reach all the way down into preschool: Black children represent 19 percent of all preschoolers, and 47 percent of all those who were suspended.  
Another good article with a list, this from the Huffington Post - Nine Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should "Unsettle"Us.
1. We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school.
2. We know that most of our students are bored and disengaged in school.  And, by the way, let’s stop pretending that we can solve the engagement problem by handing kids iPads or other technologies. Hand them more agency over their own learning instead.
3. We know that deep, lasting learning requires conditions that schools and classrooms simply were not built for
4. We know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success
5. We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.
6. We know that curriculum is just a guess.
7. We know that separating learning into discrete subjects and time blocks is not the best way to prepare kids for the real world 
8. We know (I think) that the system of education as currently constructed is not adequately preparing kids for what follows if and when they graduate.
9. And finally, we know that learning that sticks is usually learned informally, that explicit knowledge accounts for very little of our success in most professions


dan dempsey said...

RCW 28A.230.140

United States flag—Procurement, display, exercises—National anthem.
The board of directors of every school district shall cause a United States flag being in good condition to be displayed during school hours upon or near every public school plant, except during inclement weather. They shall cause appropriate flag exercises to be held in each classroom at the beginning of the school day, and in every school at the opening of all school assemblies, at which exercises those pupils so desiring shall recite the following salute to the flag: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". Students not reciting the pledge shall maintain a respectful silence. The salute to the flag or the national anthem shall be rendered immediately preceding interschool events when feasible.

Anonymous said...

I seriously doubt that the requirements of this law in regard to "in each classroom at the beginning of the school day" are being fulfilled in the SPS. More likely the legal requirement is ignored.

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks Dan, I knew there was a law in there somewhere. Still think the "under God" is illegal. (I remember a school board meeting where kids had come to perform. They stayed and we rose for the pledge. The stricken look on some of those kids' faces was priceless. They didn't know it. I never say the "under God" part.)

TechyMom said...

I think this ruling is still in effect

seattle citizen said...

Forced patriotism is not patriotism at all. It's the stuff of North Korea.

Christina said...

I understand recitation of the pledge of allegiance to be a voluntary act, and so does the ACLU of Washington

I'd hope the people in school standing or sitting in respectful silence would find something academic or otherwise constructive to do during the recitation.

Anonymous said...

This thread about the Star Spangled Banner drove me to look up the lyrics and the history. I did not know that Francis Scott Key was a slaveholder who wrote that blacks were inferior - nor did I know that units of escaped slaves had been fighting on the British side during the War of 1812, and that was probably what he was referring to in the 3rd stanza.

Crap. I like the anthem - the part that we sing at events - I just had no familiarity with the rest. And now I have to consider this in its context. I have had a shrug/it's his choice, I get it even if I wouldn't do it attitude about Kaepernick's protest - I just thought there were better ways to express it that would be less volatile and get a more open audience. But now, now by understanding that FS Keyes was a slaveholder, etc, I can see that this is more directly on point with his message and less a quickly fired off action than I thought. It does shift me from the shrug/whatever camp to the hmm/supportive camp.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Complicated, you picked the right name. History IS complicated. Not that we don't know, out and out, that many things enacted/done were utterly and completely wrong with slavery being the worst thing/best example.

Sometimes we are not taught all the information we should know (see the national anthem.)

Sometimes we don't really know how to process it except "that was then, this is now" which is no real answer at all.

I'm just recalling - not so clearly - something I read this week about a statue erected in Texas (?) for some guy who turned out to be a slave owner. They put some kind of new plaque saying something like, "This is what people thought then and times changed and thinking evolves/straightens up. We are better than this."

And that's where I come down on it - we are better than this. The minute "patriotism" trumps common decency, I'm with common decency. (And I note that many soldiers/vets are defending Kaepernick on the basis of the First Amendment which is one freedom our soldiers lay down the lives for us to exercise.)

Charlie Mas said...

I'm reminded how I felt when I heard Michelle Obama's statement about living in a house built by slaves. It made me realize that no other recent resident of the White House reported being troubled by this. We need to hear from voices different from our own. We need to hear from minority voices.

I now live in Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. Monument Avenue features statues of Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and J.E.B. Stuart. A major highway is the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway. Schools and roads are named after Confederate heroes. There is a Stonewall Jackson Shrine outside Fredericksburg. There is a large Confederate section of Hollywood Cemetery, and I see the Confederate flag flying all over the place.

Our history is rife with signs that we have not always lived up to our ideals. I am proud of those ideals and, while I am not proud of how we fail to realize them, I am encouraged by every new step we take towards them and I work to advance that march - in my community and within myself. I support the Blacks Lives Matter movement and I support Mr. Kaepernick's right to protest as he chooses.

As a member of a religious minority in America, I am quick to recognize people who insist that I show respect for their deeply held beliefs and symbols even as they refuse to show respect for mine. It has sensitized me to the inherent wrong (and irony) of forced worship of the flag and the anthem.

As other veterans have stated, we did not fight for the flag or the anthem but for the rights and freedoms of Americans - including the right to protest by disrespecting the flag and the anthem.

Anonymous said...

I support Mr. Kaepernick's right to protest the national anthem.

I also support the public's right to completely disagree with him, to not watch 49'ers games, and to not buy products from companies that endorse him. I support the public's right to continue to sing our national anthem as a sign of respect for our country and to encourage national unity.

Mr. Kaepernick can decide which is more important to him, the millions of dollars he makes for throwing a ball in the air, or his need to publicly express beliefs inconsistent with the majority of the American public. I don't care very much which he chooses.

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