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

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Two posts about the dangers for children of "anytime anywhere learning ecosystems


from Wrench in the Gears
April 24, 2016

Tracking Students: Google Rolls Out "Anytime, Anywhere"learning in Kirkland, WA parks this spring


Fast forward fifteen years. Imagine that the vision advanced by Knowledgeworks, the futurists at the American Alliance of Museums, the MIT Media Lab, Institute for the Future, and ed-tech impact investors has been realized. Neighborhood schools no longer exist. Buildings in gentrifying communities have been transformed into investment condominiums with yoga studios and roof-top bars. Those in marginal neighborhoods exist as bare-bones virtual reality warehouses where the poor are managed for their data. If you want the narrative version, you can read it here.

Click here to read the entire post


Navigting Whiteness: Could "Anywhere, Anytime" Learning endanger Black and Brown Students

This is a companion to a previous post I wrote about the implementation of the KiTE STEM challenge, a Google-sponsored digital learning contest being run in partnership with the Kirkland, WA park system this spring. Read part one here.
On April 12 Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested at a Starbucks coffee shop at 18th and Spruce Streets while waiting for a friend with whom they had a scheduled meeting. A bystander recorded the encounter, as the men had done nothing wrong and questioned the police as to why the arrests were made. Their experience has been widely discussed in national news. Today being a black or brown person in the public sphere is to be suspect and put at risk of arrest, deportation or even death.

I raise this within the context of appified learning ecosystems, because Philadelphia is a City of LRNG. Collective Shift has been promoting a system of “personalized” learning called Digital On Ramps where Philadelphia’s students, many of whom are students of color, would be sent out to navigate the city and earn skills-based badges.

Click here to read the entire post 

 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Investigative reporter who has covered Trump for 30 years says the evidence shows 'he is a traitor'

Investigative reporter who has covered Trump for 30 years says the evidence shows 'he is a traitor': The saga of President Donald Trump consists of several parallel and intersecting stories. This article was originally published at Salon There is the structural dimension. Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton was not entirely unpredictable or shocking. America’s crisis in civic literacy, political polarization, rampant anti-intellectualism, deeply embedded sexism and racism, greed, broken schools and weakened democratic institutions, as well as a hollowed-out public sphere where people confuse celebrity with human worth made the election someone …

Sunday, April 22, 2018

How did Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion High School go from an enrollment of 1,600 students to 292 students?


by Ken Derstine
The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools
April 21, 2018

The following is from testimony given before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on April 19, 2018.

Good evening,

My name is Ken Derstine. I am a retired teacher with 37 years of service in the School District of Philadelphia. I have attended almost all SRC meetings in the past few years, but I rarely give testimony. I am speaking today because of a flyer that was put out by your office last week. I found it to be so egregious in its claims that I have to speak on it.

I have given you a copy of this flier that apparently is being used in the Stawberry Mansion community. It is titled “Envisioning the Future of Strawberry Mansion High School”.

The very first paragraph is titled “Strawberry Mansion is NOT closing.” Apparently this is to reassure the community that Strawberry Mansion will not become an abandoned building, thereby contributing to a downward spiral like so many low-income communities that have lost their community school.

The next claim is that current students will graduate from Strawberry Mansion. You have already announced that there will be no ninth grade next year so that is not true for all students since what would have been the ninth graders will not graduate from Strawberry Mansion.

The next paragraph is headlined “Few students are choosing Strawberry Mansion now.” going on to point out that the school currently has 294 students. The implication is that the students and community are to blame for the schools current condition and the abandonment of it.In April of 1992, Strawberry Mansion had 1,600 students. The school was known for its science club named Science Force 2000 that won many awards. It had art and music programs. It had begun to revive its football team that had been suspended for many years. Heroic efforts were made to turn the school around with little support from the District. However, in May 2013 the school only had 435 students.



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Should the rich rule the schools in Philadelphia and beyond?


from the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools


The story of how one wealthy man engaged in secret negotiations with officials to impose his will on one suburban high school became front-page news for days. Commentaries expressed outrage about the district’s rushed vote to rename Abington Senior High School in exchange for a $25 million gift from billionaire businessman Stephen Schwarzman, along with several other conditions,  including changes in curriculum and technology. “Someone coming in with a lot of money can have a whole lot of influence over a public school,” warned one parent at a subsequent school board meeting. One Inquirer columnist expressed uneasiness  “that public schools could become beggars at the table of the uber-rich.”

To these suburban parents and pundits, we say: Welcome to our world.

In November 2011, the state-imposed School Reform Commission (SRC), absent any public deliberation, approved a multimillion-dollar grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In return, the SRC agreed to several conditions, including yearly charter expansion, implementation of Common Core standards, more school “choice” and testing, and permanent school closures. No one elected Bill Gates, typically portrayed in the media as just a very generous rich guy, to make decisions about Philadelphia’s public schools. But his mandates have had devastating and lasting effects on the district, much more than renaming one school.

Abington residents were shocked to learn of the district’s covert establishment of a foundation that would make decisions, rather than the elected school board, about how to spend money from donors. Here in Philadelphia, the Gates Compact conferred authority upon the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) “to provide funding …to low-performing or developing schools.” PSP has since raised tens of millions from a stable of wealthy donors; most has gone to charter schools, in keeping with Gates’ pro-privatization ideology.


PSP’s influence has grown in the last seven years: the group now funds and operates teacher and principal training programs, oversees a website rating all Philadelphia schools, and holds the district’s yearly high school fair. PSP’s money, like Schwarzman’s, always comes with strings attached, whether that means changing a school’s curriculum or a complete overhaul of faculty and staff, as its 2014 grant to two North Philadelphia schools mandated.

Meetings of the PSP board, where decisions about funding, curriculum, and staff training of public schools are made, are closed to the public.   This board, composed mostly of wealthy suburban businesspeople, often has more influence over city public schools than the residents do.

This practice of ceding public decisions to private investors on a large scale first reared its head in 2001, when Philadelphia came dangerously close to privatizing the entire district and handing over the reins to the for-profit Edison Schools founded by media mogul Chris Whittle.


Gates, whose Compact has been adopted in several other cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, and New Orleans, is just one member of what education writer Diane Ravitch calls the “Billionaires Boys Club” of corporate education reformers. Real estate developer Eli Broad is using his wealth and political power to stave off community opposition to his push to charter-ize half of Los Angeles’ public schools. The family of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, heirs to the Amway fortune, have used their billions to privatize public education through the unregulated proliferation of for-profit charters in Detroit and other cities throughout Michigan. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave $100 million toward then-Gov. Chris Christie’s 2010 plan to transfer Newark students from neighborhood schools to charters. Newark residents, who learned about this massive cash infusion when it was announced on Oprah, had never been consulted about what they wanted in the “One Newark” plan.

Abington residents were justifiably angry about the board’s intention to rush through a vote without full public disclosure.

Like the opioid crisis, it seems to have taken a less urban and more middle-class population to alter the media’s perspective on the damage inflicted. This appears to be a brushfire in Abington, while rule by the rich has been a fact of life for almost two decades in Philadelphia, where the less affluent, mostly minority community continues to be disenfranchised in matters of school governance.

Lisa Haver is a retired Philadelphia teacher and cofounder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools. Deborah Grill is a retired teacher and school librarian and a research coordinator for the alliance. appsphilly.net.

Friday, April 20, 2018

They've got trouble, up there in North Dakota.


April 20, 2018

He breezes into a Northern Plains town channeling Harold Hill, the slick huckster from the 1962 musical The Music Man. They’ve got trouble up there in North Dakota; but the trouble is with so-called“ factory” model education, not pool tables. The solution to this “terrible trouble” is of course laptops and tablets, not trombones. That’s no surprise, given that Governor Doug Burgum made his fortune selling Great Plains Software for a billion dollars to Microsoft, joined the company as a senior VP, and later served on the boards of numerous other software, predictive analytics, and cloud-based computing enterprises. Interactive map here.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Trump Nominee for Federal Court Mum on School Segregation

We know there are millions of unacknowledged white supremacists who do not support race mixing.  The evidence is all around us in policy and practices in housing, schooling, and even praying.  What we don't expect, however, is a Klan-friendly nominee for a federal judgeship who will not offer even verbal support for school integration
(CNN)Wendy Vitter, one of President Donald Trump's judicial nominees, refused on Wednesday to say whether a landmark civil rights opinion was correctly decided, triggering outrage and renewed criticism of the President's efforts to reshape the judiciary.

At issue was Brown v. the Board of Education -- a seminal opinion that held that state laws requiring separate but equal schools violated the Constitution.


"I don't mean to be coy," Vitter, who is up for a seat on the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, said at her confirmation hearing, "but I think I can get into a difficult, difficult area when I start commenting on Supreme Court decisions -- which are correctly decided and which I may disagree with." . . .

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Losing Our Humanity: A Toolkit To Talk About The Tech Takeover of Our Schools


From Wrench in the Gears
April 11, 2018

On Saturday, April 7, 2018 I had the good fortune to spend a day with education activists from across Massachusetts and beyond at the Boston Area Educators Social Justice Conference at Fenway High School in Jamaica Plain. My colleague, Worcester-based educator, Brian Leonard submitted a proposal for us to present on ed-tech that morning:
Losing the Human Connection: tech-takeovers in classrooms and schools
What is the role of technology in the classroom? How does technology affect child development and social relationships? Do children have a right to relationships with humans in education? Who profits from the commercialization of education and how can we defend our public schools from being consumed by commercialized tech-products that computerize education? How can we extend human and social relationships in the existential struggle against computer companies and machines? These are some of the questions we would like to explore with students and educators.
We wanted to model a meeting people could adapt for use in their own communities. We wanted it to be participatory and not require in-depth knowledge of Ed Reform 2.0 to pull off. The agenda we came up with features a welcome, read aloud, video clip discussion, group activity, and exploration of possible next steps. We hope people will use the tools provided to create spaces to engage in critical thinking about technology in the classroom and begin to counter the dominant narrative that disruptive “innovations” like “personalized learning” are beneficial to public education. If you have your own meeting, please get in touch and let me know how it goes!

Monday, April 09, 2018

Get Ready for Betsy's Propaganda on New NAEP Results

It's been thirty years or so since conservative thought leaders like Checker Finn and Diane Ravitch came up with the brilliant ploy to misuse NAEP test results from the "Nation's report card" as an ongoing cudgel against public schools.  The simple and elegant plan was to make NAEP's "Proficiency" cut scores unattainable by the majority of American students.  

By raising proficiency targets to the unattainable level, the scores would show most student not meeting "proficiency"standards.  This news, repeated every few years when new NAEP scores were published, could be used to demonstrate the failure of American schools/teachers and, thus, demonstrate the need for more and more testing accountability standards and assessments, along with the need for corporate and mayoral steering of schools.

Gerald Bracey and every other testing experts understood the scam, and Bracey had the courage to write about it and talk about it and try to make the public aware.  To no avail.  

The story of American public school failure became the ascendant meme, despite scientific evidence to the contrary (read Bracey's story of the suppressed Sandia Report, which was quashed by the U. S. Department of Education).

The fact that NAEP's fanciful cut scores remain unaltered today almost three decades later is a strong testament to the power of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the corporate education industry to shape policy.

And that is why this press release is now necessary (now more than ever) for all to read and to share with school boards, parents, teachers, and media folks.

NAEP TERM “PROFICIENT” IS MISLEADING

STATEMENT OF JAMES HARVEY

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

NATIONAL SUPERINTENDENTS ROUNDTABLE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEATTLE, April 9, 2018 – As the U.S Department of Education prepares to release the latest findings from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the American people should understand that the misleading term “proficient” sets a performance benchmark beyond the reach of most students in the world.

A detailed analysis released in January concluded that the vast majority of students in most countries could not demonstrate proficiency as NAEP defines the term.

The authors of the analysis, the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann League, linked NAEP’s proficiency benchmark to the performance of students around the world on international assessments such as TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study).

The report on this work (How High the Bar?) concluded that:
  • In no nation do even 40 percent of students meet the NAEP Proficient benchmark in Grade 4 reading.
  • Only one nation has 50 percent or more of its students meeting the Proficient benchmark in Grade 8 science (Singapore).
  • Just three nations have 50 percent or more of their students meeting the Proficient benchmark in Grade 8 math (Singapore, Republic of Korea, and Japan). 
Citing U.S. Department of Education documents, the report criticized the Department for misusing the term "Proficient." The term, as the Department acknowledges, does not mean performing at grade level. Surprisingly, according to the Department’s statements, it does not even mean proficient, as most people understand the term.

Roundtable and Horace Mann League officials have insisted that the problem can be addressed without lowering standards by changing the term “proficient” to “high.” Without such a change, they maintain, the misuse of the term will continue to confuse both the public and educators, as in the past it has confused U.S. Secretaries of Education.


CONTACT: JAMES HARVEY: Office (206) 526-5336
                                                  Cell    (206) 579-9272

******************************************

National Superintendents Roundtable
9425 35th Avenue, NE, Suite E
Seattle, WA 98115

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Fascism will be on our doorstep if we don't act immediately: Yale historian

Fascism will be on our doorstep if we don't act immediately: Yale historian: How close is President Donald Trump to following the path blazed by last century’s tyrants? Could American democracy be replaced with totalitarian rule? There’s enough resemblance that Yale historian Timothy Snyder, who studies fascist and communist regime change and totalitarian rule, has written a book warning about the threat and offering lessons for resistance and survival. The author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century talked to AlterNet’s Steven Rosenfeld. Steven Rosenfeld: Three weeks ago, …