"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, July 25, 2022

Why White Nationalist, Larry Arnn, Says Professional Teachers Are the "Dumbest"

In 2011 the neo-conservative website, Human Events, published its list of the ten most harmful books of the 19th and 20th Centuries.  Coming in at #5, right between The Kinsey Report and Das Kapital, was Democracy and Education by John Dewey.  While it may be obvious why wealthy white supremacists would flag Marx and Kinsey, why John Dewey, you may ask.  

The giveaway is in the title, of course, because Dewey's posited that the American democratic aspirations made explicit in the Bill of Rights and other founding documents might be achieved only through the practice of democratic living, which would include, of course, democratic schooling. 

Rather than modeling an embryonic form of democratic living, as Dewey would have schools do, elite paternalists like Arnn want schools to promote an extreme conservative mash-up of protestantism, capitalism, and jingoistic patriotism.  And since 2011, conservatism has become even more narrow, more strident, and more hostile to public institutions that promote democracy.  

The conservative movement has known for decades that the inevitable browning of America and the continued secularization of the Western world would eventually endanger America's 400-year rule by white protestant male elites, and so it comes as no surprise to see Arnn's employer, Hillsdale College, pushing hard to 1) seed its right wing corporate charter schools in as many parts of the country as possible, and 2) attack, diminish, and smear the concept and practice of public education whenever possible.

Before coming to Hillsdale College as President, Arnn spent 15 years as President of the Claremont Institute (1985-2000), which is the intellectual home of John Eastman, who most recently provided the "legal" argument upon which the 2001 Trump insurrection was based. Today Hillsdale serves as a training ground for future Institute "scholars" like Eastman and his fascist collaborators at Claremont.  

This closed circuit between Claremont and Hillsdale that Arnn now oversees constitutes the politically-indecent pseudo-intellectual circle jerk that remains one of the leading threat to American democracy and the rule of non-sectarian law in this country.

Arnn also serves as education advisor to Tennessee's governor, Bill Lee, who you will see in this video sitting quietly on the stage and sipping from his water bottle as Arnn entertains a closed-door meeting of like-minded crusaders with the most outrageous insults and lies about teachers, teacher preparation, and public education in general.  

Since Arnn's comments last month, Lee has said nothing to repudiate Arnn's insults. Last Wednesday Lee did say that he has conversed with Arnn since then, and that "he talked, and I listened." Sounds about right. 



Friday, July 01, 2022

DeSantis Delegitimizes Social Studies Teaching in Florida

Ron DeSantis is working overtime in Florida to become the next fascist darling of the white nationalist political movement that was awakened from its John Birch Society crypt and then enabled, emboldened, and set loose by the only president in US history to stage an attempted coup in order to remain in power after being rejected by the nation's voters. 

DeSantis has been a quick study in the dark arts of political thuggery, gangster tactics, and shameless bullying, and he has steadily embraced and codified at the state level much of the John Bircher agenda aimed to maintain political power and social control by the white Protestant capitalist male elite, in charge since Colonial Days. 

With the inevitability of brown and black folks moving to majority status in the U.S. (as they are NOW globally), and with the fact that public school student populations are already majority black and brown, the white nationalist push is urgent to purpose schools with Jim Crow 2.0 agenda of civic indoctrination and historical miseducation.

In order to align Florida's social studies curriculum with proto-fascist standards, DeSantis's henchmen had to look no further than pedagogical antiquarians at Hillsdale College, whose ultra-conservative ideology undergirds every facet of the Hillsdale College curriculum and the K-12 materials they have assembled and are marketing to every red state governor now intent that children should be steered away a factually accurate and inclusive accounts of history and civics instruction grounded in democratic principles and practices.

The Miami Herald has a great piece on DeSantis's indoctrination program now being pushed in professional development sessions across Florida, with some great examples of how the materials obfuscate, warp, and mislead teachers. Below are a few clips:

Teachers who spoke to the Herald/Times said they don’t object to the state’s new standards for civics, but they do take issue with how the state wants them to be taught. “It was very skewed,” said Barbara Segal, a 12th-grade government teacher at Fort Lauderdale High School. “There was a very strong Christian fundamentalist way toward analyzing different quotes and different documents. That was concerning.”

The civics training, which is part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Civics Literacy Excellence Initiative, underscores the tension that has been building around education and how classrooms have become battlegrounds for politically contentious issues. In Florida, DeSantis and the Republican-led Legislature have pushed policies that limit what schools can teach about race, gender identity and certain aspects of history.

Those dynamics came into full view last week, when trainers told Broward teachers the nation’s founders did not desire a strict separation of state and church, downplayed the role the colonies and later the United States had in the history of slavery in America, and pushed a judicial theory, favored by legal conservatives like DeSantis, that requires people to interpret the Constitution as the framers intended it, not as a living, evolving document, according to three educators who attended the training. 

“It is disturbing, really, that through these workshops and through legislation, there is this attempt to both censor and to drive or propagandize particular points of view,” said Richard Judd, 50, a Nova High School social studies teacher with 22 years of experience who attended the state-led training session last week.

Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article262941378.html#storylink=cpy

 

Thursday, June 30, 2022

On School Prayer: What Would an 18th Century Protestant Zealot Do?

Andy Spears has an interesting response to SCOTUS's lying majority decision this week to back the lying football coach:

Here’s the super short version: The Supreme Court basically ruled that public school employees may lead or participate in prayer with students, presuming of course said prayer is of a Christian variety.

Peter Greene explains more, including noting this particular clause of the decision in the Kennedy case:

In place of Lemon and the endorsement test, this Court has instructed that the Establishment Clause must be interpreted by “‘reference to historical practices and understandings.“‘[T]he line’” that courts and governments “must draw between the permissible and the impermissible” has to “‘accor[d] with history and faithfully reflec[t] the understanding of the Founding Fathers.’” 

Jesus, Mary, Mother of God. As with previous uses, this "test" can be used to roll everything back! Brown v. Board, here we come!

Read the rest here.


Friday, June 24, 2022

Maine Neutralizes Theocratic SCOTUS Decision on Schools

When the six-member American Taliban majority on the U. S. Supreme Court decided that Maine's state assistance to private schools (due to many students not having public schools available in rural areas) must include aid to religious private schools as well, many defenders of the separation of church and state were alarmed.  

As alarming as the 6-3 decision was, Maine anticipated a path around the ruling by preemptively passing a law that denies state assistance to any private school that discriminates against LGBTQ students--which, in essence, eliminate the hateful Christian madrassas that would otherwise use taxpayer funds to instill the same hate into children. Genius. 

Details from the NY Times:

. . . . Anticipating this week’s decision, Maine lawmakers enacted a crucial amendment to the state’s anti-discrimination law last year in order to counteract the expected ruling. The revised law forbids discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and it applies to every private school that chooses to accept public funds, without regard to religious affiliation.

The impact was immediate: The two religious schools at issue in the Carson case, Bangor Christian Schools and Temple Academy, said that they would decline state funds if, as Maine’s new law requires, accepting such funds would require them to change how they operate or alter their “admissions standards” to admit L.G.B.T.Q. students.

The legislative fix crafted by Maine lawmakers offers a model for lawmakers elsewhere who are alarmed by the court’s aggressive swing to the right. Maine’s example shows that those on the losing end of a case can often outmaneuver the court and avoid the consequences of a ruling. . . .

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Change in strategy

 It is obvious to me, from my experiences and from what others are saying, that the heavy phonics group is preventing any criticism of phonics. As you know I submit about one letter a day. In the last two weeks, none of my letters have been accepted, not even those to local papers. This has never happene to me before.

New Policy:
Previously I only shared letters accepted for publication. Now I will share them all. 
I will put them on this blogspot.
I will keep them short. 

The shutdown of publishing opposing views might be a sign that we are making progress.
We need to keep sharing our reactions, analyses. 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

ABOLISH THE SECOND AMENDMENT

 

Warren Burger became Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court under the first presidential term of Richard Nixon, who was, up until that time, the most conservative president in U. S. history.  Chief Justice Burger retired in 1986, and in 1991 he weighed in on the Second Amendment and how the firearms lobby has used it "to perpetrate the biggest fraud on the American people" that he had seen in his lifetime.

Another conservative Associate Justice, nominated to the bench by Nixon and nominated to the Supreme Court by Gerald Ford, believed that Second Amendment needs to be amended or repealed.  He believed that policy regarding firearms should be a legislative decision.

It is way past time to stop the marching for background checks and "red flag" laws and to commit to the abolition of the Second Amendment. Until that happens, American public schools (not the private ones where the wealthy send their kids) will continue to serve as slaughterhouses for mass murderers.


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Reading "Research" Presents More Questions Than Answers

Stephen Krashen recently noted that a "group called The74’s posted an outrageous but slick-looking column":  “Curriculum case study: How grade-level literacy doubled in just two months in a rural Tennessee District.” 

Dr. Krashen posted this comment following the propaganda piece:

Some questions and a comment

 

“Grade level literacy doubled in just two months”  meant that in the beginning of the year, seven first graders were reading at “grade level” and two months later 15 were. Thus, the spectacular headline is based on the improvement of only eight children.  What about the other children?

 

The usual definition of grade level is the 50th percentile. Did children move from the 49th to the 51st percentile or from the 5th to the 95th? We have no idea.

 

We also don’t know what kind of tests were used.  We are told only that it is based on the district’s “universal screener.” It has been established that instruction based on the “science of reading” involves heavy phonics. Studies show that heavy phonics results in better pronunciation of words  presented on a list but not in improved comprehension.


Only one case history is provided, a first grader who was “really behind and is now writing stories.” Is she the only one? 


Strong claims about “unprecedented rates of reading growth” should be made of sterner stuff. 

 

Stephen Krashen

Prof Emeritus, University of Southern California

Source: 

The effect of heavy phonics: 

Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive reading instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74. https://tinyurl.com/jc6x8mk

Friday, May 20, 2022

Make the School Day Longer?

  

Make the School Day Longer?            

Stephen Krashen.   (skrashen@yahoo.com)

Language Magazine May 2022, p.13

Languagemagazine.com

 

            Will extra time in school help children make up for instruction lost because of the pandemic? The research is not encouraging: Studies show that extending school time has no effect or a very small effect  on learning (Patall, Cooper,and Allen, 2010; Kidron and Lindsay, 2014). Blad (2022) noted that one elementary school in Atlanta had positive effects by adding 30-minutes to the school day, but the school made extraordinary efforts, e.g. two adults in every classroom, tracking, and ongoing analysis of test scores. 

            Increasing instruction time by increasing homework is clearly not the answer. In fact, homework may not help at all. Based on his review of the research, Kohn (2007) concluded that  “… there is absolutely no evidence of any academic benefit from assigning homework in elementary or middle school.  At the high school level, the correlation is weak and tends to disappear when more sophisticated statistical measures are applied.“

            I suggest we try a different path: Decrease school pressure and encourage pleasure reading. 

            In Stanovich and Cunningham (1993), college students who were more familiar with popular literature did better on a variety of tests of subject matter, including science, social studies, technology, and cultural knowledge, suggesting that those who read more, know more. In fact, familiarity with popular literature (including books and magazines but not TV) was a better predictor of performance on subject matter tests than high school grades. Of great interest is that those familiar with popular literature knew more about practical matters as well, knowledge relevant to everyday living, e.g. how a carburetor works, how many teaspoons are equivalent to a tablespoon.

            It is reasonable to hypothesize that knowledge we absorb from reading that we select ourselves lasts longer than what we learn from study. This was Plato’s view: “Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.”

            Let’s try providing more access to interesting reading material by investing more in libraries and librarians, and let’s try giving young people more time to read for pleasure by reducing homework. As Kohn (2006) has pointed out, “authentic reading is one the casualties of homework” (p.175). 

 

Sources

Blad, E.  2022.“Why schools see extra time as the solution for making up for lost instruction.” https://www.edweek.org/leadership/why-schools-see-extra-time-as-the-solution-to-making-up-for-lost-instruction/2022/03

Kidron, Y. and Lindsay J. 2014. The effects of increased learning time on student academic and nonacademic outcomes: Findings from a meta-analytic review. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs. 

Kohn, A. 2006. The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press.

Kohn, A. 2007. Rethinking Homework. https://www.alfiekohn.org/article/rethinking-homework/2007

Patall, E., Cooper, H. and Allen, A. 2010. Extending the School Day or School Year: A Systematic Review of Research (1985–2009). Review of Educational Research 80(3):401–436. DOI: 10.3102/0034654310377086 

Stanovich, K. and Cunningham, A.  1993. Where does knowledge come from? Journal of Educational Psychology. 85, 2: 211-229.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

New Study Reveals School Racial and Economic Segregation

 NEW STUDY: First-Of-Its-Kind Analysis Reveals Widespread Racial, Economic Segregation In U.S. Schools, Ranks Most Segregated Cities


Six decades after Brown v. Board, segregation between Black and white students remains very severe in 10 percent of metro areas, significant in others


The most severely racially and economically segregated metro areas include New York City, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Newark


(New York, NY) — More than six decades after Brown v. Board, many students across the country still attend schools that are heavily segregated, both racially and economically. A new, first-of-its-kind analysis, published today by The Century Foundation, provides a uniquely detailed look at the current state of school segregation across all U.S. metropolitan areas. The results are alarming: segregation is still persistent across the country and our biggest metropolitan areas see particularly high rates of segregation between Black and white students, and between those who are lower-income and more affluent. 


Accompanying the study is a new tool, produced in partnership with the Segregation Index, led by Ann Owens from the University of Southern California and Sean Reardon from Stanford University, that allows users to dig into just how severe segregation is in their area—and what causes are behind it. The School Segregation Data Dashboard, also published today, includes data from public and private schools in all 403 metropolitan areas across the country, presented in an interactive map that shows local segregation levels as well as larger trends across the country.


“While it’s no secret that many students still experience segregation within their schools, the severity of that segregation in many metropolitan areas is shocking, and should prompt policymakers to act,” said Halley Potter, TCF senior fellow and the study’s author. “Data is essential for addressing such a pervasive problem, and what we’ve learned from this new analysis is that segregation looks very different in New York than it does in California, and in every area in between. This level of data allows us not only to better understand the causes of segregation in certain areas, but also to determine how best to address it.”


TCF’s analysis measures segregation by race and ethnicity, as well as by income, using the variance ratio segregation index, which allows researchers to compare the difference between two groups of students in their exposure to students from one of the groups. For example, a variance ratio of zero for Black-white segregation means that every school in that area would have the exact same racial composition, and a measure of one means that Black and white students would be totally isolated. “Very severe” segregation exists, in terms of this study, in areas with variance ratios larger than 0.5, meaning they are closer to being entirely segregated than entirely integrated. 


Key findings from the study include:


National Trends

  • Metro areas have particularly high levels of segregation between Black and white students 

    • In 10 percent of all metro areas, Black-white segregation levels are “very severe” (variance ratios higher than 0.5), meaning schools are closer to being entirely segregated than to fully integrated

  • Segregation levels between white students and students of other races are less stark, but still significant across the country 

    • On average, the difference between the percentage of white students at the average white student’s school and at the average non-white student’s school in the same area is 21 percentage points

  • Economic segregation is also widespread, and students of color (Black students in particular) have higher average rates of poverty

    • The rate of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch is 16 percentage points higher at the average Black student’s school than the average white student’s school in the same metro area

  • School segregation is most extreme in the Northeast, where both racial and economic segregation are more pronounced

    • Segregation between school districts causes much of this regional segregation, and is the largest driver of segregation nationally 


Cities and Metro Areas with Most Severe Segregation

  • The New York City and Milwaukee metropolitan areas stand out as especially segregated 

    • The study includes six lists of the 10 most segregated areas across six types of segregation

    • New York City and Milwaukee appear in the ten most segregated areas on two-thirds of these lists 

  • Chicago, Newark, and Philadelphia also have high levels of segregation across many groups, appearing on half of the most segregated lists

    • Boston, Detroit, Oakland, and Los Angeles, among others, come in behind these cities, and rank among the top ten most segregated areas by several metrics

  • Segregation of different racial groups of students varies across the country

    • Detroit has the highest levels of segregation between white and all non-white students

    • Milwaukee has the highest levels of school segregation among Black and white students, while Philadelphia is most segregated between Hispanic and white students

    • California is home to the most segregated schools between White and Asian students (Napa) and white and American Indian students (El Centro)

    • The Newark area has the highest levels of economic segregation 


“These findings point to many different types, and severities, of segregation across our country, but they also reveal something essential for policymakers: much of our country’s segregation is driven by segregation between school districts,” said Ann Owens, associate professor of sociology at the University of Southern California and one of the leaders of the Segregation Index. “Solving this problem is particularly complex, as it will require conversations at all levels of government. Local leaders within a district have few tools to address segregation across district lines on their own—leadership to address interdistrict segregation must come from the state or federal level.”


While interdistrict segregation is the largest driver of segregation, and most prevalent in the Northeast and Midwest, other factors, such as segregation within districts and among private and charter schools, also contribute to segregation. The report and interactive map reveal the complex realities of segregation in U.S. schools, and should prompt policymakers at all levels of government to take action.



###


The Century Foundation (TCF) is a progressive, independent think tank that conducts research, develops solutions, and drives policy change to make people’s lives better. We pursue economic, racial, and gender equity in education, health care, and work, and promote U.S. foreign policy that fosters international cooperation, peace, and security. TCF is based in New York, with an office in Washington, D.C. Follow the organization on Twitter at @TCFdotorg and learn more at www.tcf.org.




-- 
McKenzie Maxson (she/her/hers)
Press Secretary
The Century Foundation
2000 M Street NW, 7th Floor, Washington DC 20036
C: 937.789.4606 @mckenziemmaxson

Friday, April 22, 2022

North Star Academy Students Are Fed Up with Racist Charter Schools

The dominant KIPP Model for racist chain gang charter schooling, i.e. "No Excuses," has spread to other charter corporations wanting a piece of the pie.  One of the largest knock-offs is the charter school corporation, Uncommon Schools.  

What black and brown students have found is that they are uncommonly racist and de-humanizing:

. . . . North Star Academy, which is part of the Uncommon Schools network of charter schools, is one of New Jersey’s oldest and highest-achieving charter schools. In the 2019-20 school year, 83% of North Star students were Black, 15% Hispanic, and more than 86% were economically disadvantaged, according to state data, yet the students routinely outperform their peers in wealthier districts on state standardized tests.

But like other so-called “no excuses” charter schools, North Star has long had a reputation for strict discipline along with its demanding academic program. In 2019-20, the most recent year with available state data, nearly 19% of North Star students received suspensions — a rate about six times higher than the average across New Jersey or in the Newark school district.

After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 drew widespread attention to anti-Black racism in all facets of American society, many young people took to social media to recount instances of racism at school. Current and former students and staff members at Uncommon Schools began sharing their experiences through an Instagram account called Black at Uncommon, where many described a school culture that felt overly controlling and occasionally unwelcoming to Black people. . . . .