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Saturday, May 12, 2012

More Pushback from Around the Country

Do you hear that sound echoing across the country?

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.



3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this important info and links.

Here's a letter from an attorney of the plaintiffs to the writer of the Education Week article (which is quite informative):

As lead counsel for the Renee plaintiffs, I have to take issue with your statement that "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 case was brought not by schools of education but by grassroots community organizations and children upset about the fact that so many of the low-income, high minority schools they and the organizations' members attend in California have disproportionate concentrations of teachers in training.

The "battle" underlying the case is between children and parents who want equal access to fully prepared teachers--by whatever route they come--and those who think it is ok to concentrate less than fully-prepared teachers in low-income, high minority schools. My clients have no issue with being taught in significant numbers by those from alternate route programs IF THEY HAVE GRADUATED and completed their training in how to teach. NCLB promised to give low-income and minority students equal access to fully trained teachers. The Department's regulation, and now Congress with its temporary provision, have given alternate route participants an end run around that minimum standard.

Fortunately, the Ninth Circuit yesterday re-affirmed the obvious--teachers in training are not fully certified and it was unlawful for the Department to allow their concentration in low-income, high minority schools for eight years before the passage of this temporary provision and it will be unlawful again in a little over a year.

In the meantime, those concerned about ensuring Congress NOT enact policies like its temporary measure in December 2010 but, instead, ones that promote the provision of fully prepared and effective teachers to all students are encouraged to join the Coalition for Teaching Quality, the nation's largest teacher quality coalition. The CTQ, formed in response to Congress' temporary reaction to the Renee victory, now counts some 86 organizational members representing an array of national and local civil rights, disability rights, grassroots and educator groups. See http://www.publicadvocates.org/sites/default/files/library/hqt_principles_and_signatories_11-18-11.pdf

--enough already

StopTFA said...

End of the 2012-2013 year? Aw gee, one whole year before the termination of this MGJ/Enfield abomination. Those driving this unnecessary, divisive initiative deserve to get fired or moved to a another district (I feel for Highline). I am glad that the judges who may, or may not, have been appointed by Gates/I mean/recent presidents, realize that declaring recent marketing or drama grads don't know diddly about teaching students in high poverty/high minority schools as highly-qualified even after five weeks of "intense" training, are looking out for those who need protection.

I will have a party when TFA leaves town. The TFA teachers who are in our schools now, you are welcome to stay as long as you care more for your students and our district, and less for your resume.

StopTFA said...

That was "declaring recent marketing or drama grads who don't know etc..."