Saturday, October 13, 2012

Education News Roundup

Well, look who's opting out of standardized tests?  Parents in NYC.  It's detailed here from the NY Times.

Ms. Chajet is one of a small but growing number of parent activists in New York City opposed to the system’s emphasis on high-stakes testing. Many of them took part in a boycott of the field tests in June, when parents at 47 public elementary and middle schools of the 1,029 tested had their children sit them out. In their eyes, it was a win-win situation: Children who skipped the field tests did not risk punitive action or potential harm to their school’s grade on the city’s progress reports, while their parents could make a statement against the tests. 

Change the Stakes, which has members in northern Manhattan, said it mailed outreach packets last week to each New York City school being tested. In the packet are informational materials in English and Spanish, including a form that parents can sign and deliver to their principal indicating their intention to opt out of the exam. 

When the latest round of field tests was announced, the parent board at P.S. 321 immediately called for parents to opt out — about 90 percent did last June — and Ms. Foote joked that the school was looking for the list of students who would take the test rather than who would not.

 However, the article goes on to explain that the test can also prevent a child from being promote -there's a big stick for you.

Speaking of testing, seems that the Pennsylvania Sec'y of Ed changed state test scores rules, without permission, to boost scores of charter schools.  

One part of this is key to I-1240: The change involved treating charter schools as if they are districts, not schools. This reduced the number of charters that failed to make adequate yearly progress.

 Keep in mind, every charter under 1240 would be its own district.

The chief legal counsel for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association said “the change might give the Legislature the false impression that charter schools outperform traditional public schools as they consider bills supported by Corbett to expand the number of charter schools and change how they are authorized in Pennsylvania.”

This info came out earlier this year via Ed Week but a new study shows:

While teacher satisfaction has declined to its lowest point in more than two decades, parent engagement is climbing to new heights across America, a new survey reports. And parent engagement turns out to be important for teachers as well as for students. 

In fact, it appears to play a key role for those teachers who are happier with their jobs, according to the"MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy," the 28th in an annual series commissioned by MetLife and conducted by Harris Interactive. Since the first time the survey series addressed the general issue of parent engagement this issue in 1987, there has been a significant decline in the proportion of teachers and parents reporting that most or many parents take too little interest in their children's education, fail to motivate their children so they want to learn, or leave their children alone too much after school. 

The report finds that there is room for improvement in parent engagement, "particularly for secondary schools and schools with larger proportions of high-needs students." 

Interesting article about "hybrid homeschooling" in  Ed Week in August 2012.   

“Parents usually design a patchwork quilt of different classes and activities for their children,” she said. “What I see is they sign up for various classes being held in various locations like science centers or museums or different places. They also add things like music lessons, art lessons, sports, or martial arts.”

Similarly, more home-schooling parents are developing formal co-ops, like the Inman Hybrid Home School program in Inman, Ga. Founder Holly Longino, a former health teacher at Carver Middle School in Inman, left public teaching to home-school her four children, but last year started the group classes a few times a week with five students and a handful of retired public school teachers. The teachers provide video lectures for students to use as well as in-class projects. Ms. Longino said some parents also take their children to courses at the local college and science museum, but would never consider forming a charter school.
“There’s a lot of freedom in home schooling,” she said. “I don’t ever want to be a school, because I don’t want to lose the parental control we have.”   (Editor's note - interesting that rather than embrace the allegedly freedom of a charter, this teacher worries about losing "parental control."
"The number of home-schoolers has more than doubled since 1999, to more than 2 million as of 2010, representing nearly 4 percent of all K-12 students, according to Mr. Murphy’s book.  
While conservative religious parents, predominately Protestants, still comprise the majority of home-schoolers, there has been an increase in the number of moderate and liberal families choosing to teach at home, and concerns about the social environment of schools, including bullying and teaching practices, have now edged out religious values (31.2 percent to 29.8 percent) as the top reason parents teach their children at home, according to Mr. Murphy."
I believe I mentioned this previously but Ed Week, in its Living in Dialogue blog, had a multi-part series on the Gates Foundation.  It's long but worth reading if you are interested in how the Gates Foundation works and how they form their ideas and what they push out into the world.

Gates' leveraged philanthropy model is a public-private partnership to improve the world, partly through targeted research support but principally through public advocacy and tax-free lobbying to influence government policy. The goal of these policies is often to explicitly support profitability for corporate investors, whose enterprises are seen by the Gates Foundation as advancing human good. However, maximum corporate profit and public good often clash when its projects are implemented.

The Gates Foundation, and Gates personally, also own stock and reap profits from many of these same partner corporations. In addition, the Foundation owns a profit-generating portfolio of stocks which would seem to work against the Foundation's declared missions, such as the Latin AmericanCoca-Cola FEMSA distributorship and five multinational oil giants operating in Nigeria. These corporate investments, now moved to a blind trust whose trustees are Bill and Melinda Gates, are collaterally supported by the Foundation's tax-free lobbying and advocacy activities.
Criticism of the profit-driven philanthropy agenda is muted by the fact that many of the Foundation's "advocacy" gifts are positioned to leverage control of policy analysis and news outlets. The Gates Foundation recently undertook sponsorship of the Guardian's Global Developmentcoverage, for instance, which now maintains a weary-but-compliant stance toward corporate domination of development aid. The Gates Foundation also literally dominates news coverage of Global Health issues.
The Gates Foundation favors a charitable model known as a public-private partnership, which appears at first to be an enlightened model for corporate engagement. For-profit ventures are "partnered" with the government for funding, to drive positive social change.
The problem is that apparent charities are actually spending public funds, often without our knowledge or consent, and public private partnerships in education have shown themselves to be vulnerable to outright fraud as well as wasteful insider dealing. There's no open or democratic mechanism to determine public benefit, or regulation to protect public education funding from financial pillage for services it doesn't want or need. 

Some for-profit corporations directly set up their own non-profit intermediary to divert government funding. For example, the Pearson Education Foundation is a philanthropy which is under investigation for its work as an intermediary on behalf of its parent corporation, global giantPearson Education, whose 2010 US sales totaled £2.6 billion (British pounds).
We have to confront the likelihood that the Pearson Foundation is actually representing the profit-seeking interests of the Pearson Corporation.
Is the Gates Foundation, to an unknowable extent, locking down control of a government-mandated multi-billion dollar marketing opportunity for Microsoft and other allies?
In spite of growing public resistance, the Gates Foundation has vowed to continue its fight to impose mandated national standards and tests. It has added data-driven teacher ranking to its program, based on statistical Value-Added Metrics (VAM), all with no demonstrated public benefit or democratic mandate.
Studies at UC Berkeley have refuted the Gates Foundation's claims for its metrics, as hasMathematica Institute's own study. Notwithstanding this, the Foundation has continued itslegislative campaigns in individual states, to force immediate imposition and implementation of its discredited ranking systems.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Daniel Golden described the entrenched Gates Foundation influence within the United States Department of Education in his Business Week story of July 15, 2010.  


Anonymous said...

Speaking of NY...this was very interesting reading:

"What the former chancellor of New York City schools' sleight of hand tells us about education reform."


-I was there

seattle citizen said...

Speaking of the New York Times, today's (Sunday) edition has an article about "Desaparecidos", students who have been "disappeared" from state tests.

Now, a couple decades back there emerged the tragedy of the "disappeared" in some conutries in Central and South America, those killed for their beliefs or activism against dictators.

Here we have students effectively "killed," their futures shattered, their lives torn apart, by a superintendent trying to get his performance bonuses by "disappearing" hundreds of low-scoring students from the Texas state test.

How much longer must we suffer the catastophic results of these tests?

How many more callous, greedy people, in their quest for more public tax dollars to line their pockets, will impact the lives of students?

Is this the future of public education? Students mere pawns in the cash-grab of edu-business profiteers and evil individuals?

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