Friday, June 02, 2017

Public Education Story Round-Up

From NPR Ed via Huffington Post, a very good blog post about the push and pull of What Do We Do About Public Education?
Educators of all races, from various ideologies, and committed to very different school policies are also split over fundamental differences as to how we in a democracy work with each other. The unraveling of the corporate reform coalition is due, in large part, because of the ways they treat people who disagree with them.

A National Press Club panel discussion clarified the positions of today’s three dominant schools of education policy. Shavar Jeffries of the Democrats for Education Reform embodies the neoliberal wing of the corporate reform movement. Andrew Smarick, from Bellwhether Education Partners, displays the new face of their former partners, conservative reformers. The panel also included an open and welcoming face of teacher-led school improvement, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association.
My favorite from this debate?
The NEA’s Eskelsen Garcia best explains how the test-driven, competition-driven reform alliance held together for nearly a generation. In the 1980s, conservatives would demand “Results!” Liberals fought for “Equality.” The contemporary reform movement took the shortcut of demanding “Equal Results!”

In other words, reformers chose to pretend that equal results could be produced on the cheap, without tackling the inequality which defeats so many of the highest-poverty schools. The stress of high stakes testing would somehow overcome the stress of poverty which undermines educational success. The segregation resulting from choice would supposedly undo the damage done by the history of segregation.
Nailed it.

Speaking of ed reform, one of the most persistent themes -one that Superintendent Nyland and Trump both like to say - is that education is the "civil rights issue of our time."  The Washington Post thought they would check in with someone who knows something about civil rights (and fights).  It's really important reading.
One of his critics is civil rights icon James Meredith, a U.S. Air Force veteran who was the first black student to graduate from the University of Mississippi, and who earned a law degree at Columbia University. In 1966, he planned a solo “March Against Fear” from Memphis to Jackson, Miss., to call call attention to racism in the South and encourage voter registration, but he was shot and wounded by a white gunman early on the voyage. Other activists completed the walk, and he was able to join them before they entered Jackson.
In 2014, Meredith launched the “American Child’s Education Bill of Rights,” a 12-point declaration of education obligations that he said the United States owes every child. (You can read that declaration here.) He said the country was spending too much money on standardized testing and “so-called education reforms.”
He says:
I am also familiar with conservative thinking and traditional Republican values. I identify myself politically as “black,” but I have campaigned for office as a Republican.

Today, President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are attempting to improve our schools with “school choice,” vouchers, charter schools, cyber-charters, privatization, putting uncertified “temp teachers” with six weeks training into our highest-needs schools, and shackling public schools to the mass standardized machine-testing of children.

This represents a doubling-down on a quarter-century of failed bipartisan efforts at education reform, few of which have a track record of success, even when measured by the dubious metric of standardized test scores. The achievement claims of Potemkin-style “miracle schools” rarely stand up to serious scrutiny. Education is an exquisitely difficult and complex system, and there are few magic bullets, quick-fixes or shortcuts.

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