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

Friday, June 07, 2019

If Vouchers Don't Measure Up, Just Change the Measure

I have thought for some time that the biggest threat to the hegemony of the testing accountability complex will come from the school privatization movement, whose own researchers know in dark center of their whoring hearts that charter schools and voucher schools more often than not produce lower test scores than the public schools they are replacing.

We have evidence that this now could be happening, as Trump's feds and states like Florida and Tennessee are beating the bushes to find any and all positive correlations between clean living, hard work, and voucher school attendance. 

An interesting piece from the Conversation, with good links, too:
For the past couple of decades, proponents of vouchers for private schools have been pushing the idea that vouchers work.

They assert there is a consensus among researchers that voucher programs lead to learning gains for students – in some cases bigger gains than with other reforms and approaches, such as class-size reduction.

They have highlighted studies that show the positive impact of vouchers on various populations. At the very least, they argue, vouchers do no harm.

As researchers who study school choice and education policy, we see a new consensus emerging — including in pro-voucher advocates’ own studies — that vouchers are having mostly no effects or negative effects on student learning. As a result, we see a shift in how voucher proponents are redefining what voucher success represents. They are using a new set of non-academic gains that were not the primary argument to promote vouchers.

How success is defined is particularly important now in light of the fact that Florida and Tennessee – which are both controlled by Republicans – have created new publicly funded voucher programs in May 2019.

In April, a large-scale study — conducted by voucher advocates — found substantial negative impacts for students using vouchers to attend private schools. . . .
Read on.

Friday, May 31, 2019

What the KIPP Model Has Spawned

If you know anything about schools based on the "No Excuses" KIPP model, you have probably heard the motto, "there are no excuses," "failure is not an option," success at any cost," and "KIPP is a family", etc.  

If you know more about these schools inspired by the "success" of KIPP, you may have heard something about student intimidation, humiliation, extreme disciplinary measures, ostracism, isolation.

And if you have read my book based on my research and two dozen interviews with former KIPP teachers who have decided to share their horror stories about working there, then you know about documented cases of abuse, where children were forced to sit outside in the heat or the cold for hours, students who forced to bark like dogs, wear garbage cans on their heads, stand in front of the student body and apologize for having to use the bathroom at the wrong time.  

You will be familiar with school leaders who pound tables, load children into U-Haul trailers, and even throw TVs through plate glass windows out of anger.

You will know something, too, of how students are prepped for VIB days (Visitors in Building) and how potential troublemakers have been corralled and taken the basement where they can't be seen by influential visitors.  

You will have read about the Ivy League banners that festoon hallways of elementary schools, and you will know that KIPP Model schools are laser focused on test results that will get children into college.  You will have some understanding of how parents choose to focus on the promise of college and economic success, rather than the suffering of their children and the stealing of their childhoods by corporate school leaders whose mission is branding and expansion of the school brand.

It will not be too surprising, then, for viewers to see the obvious influences between the KIPP Model and the T.M. Landry School in Louisiana.  Look and see.  Make your own list of similarities and influences.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Call it what it is: CLIMATE CRISIS

After Republican pollster, Frank Luntz, conducted some focus groups in 2002, he found out that "climate change" was a term that did not scare folks toward action nearly as much as "global warming."  Since the primary purpose of the Republican Party is to do nothing that might disrupt the massive revenue streams of fossil fuel corporations who pay for Republican politicians, Bush II led an effort to have "climate change" replace "global warming."

It is time for another semantic shift, and this one presages an existential shift in human consciousness as it relates to human-made warming of the Earth.  The new more accurate term is "climate crisis," and we have until 2030 to implement changes that may save life on Earth from annihilation.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Watch David Coleman, SAT CEO, Slither

After David Coleman served the Gates Foundation's most effective Common Core flunky-developer-and-promo-man, he was given a most cushy gig as head the College Board, a "non-profit" corporation with a billion "non-profit" dollars in the bank and generosity to its CEO, who is paid more than $700,000 a year. Not bad work if you can get it. (Besides, Coleman's annual 700K plus perks is a bargain compared to the former College Board CEO's $1.3 million.)

While the College Board does a lot of testing, its meat and potatoes is the SAT. Without the SAT, the College Board that we have come to know and hate would disappear and, as E.M. Forster remarked when fantasizing about the death of standardized testing, "no one would be a penny the stupider." 

Today the SAT follows its racist and classist trajectory that its been on from its inception, when eugenicists got together in the mid-1920s to rework the flawed IQ tests first given to GIs during WWI to determine which ones were the most fit to be gassed in the trenches of France.  

Today the College Board claims to have eliminated the early SAT's class and race biases, even though all the evidence points to the SAT's continuing perfect record in identifying those unfit, by family income, for attending the nation's best colleges.  See below:

Besides the near-perfect correlation between family income and SAT scores, family income also has other benefits for SAT test takers.  

Most recently, we've learned that middle children in middle class schools are much more likely to receive a 504S disability designation that allows them more time to take the SAT. In the interview below, you will see Coleman starring in his current role as the College Board's staunch advocate for the disenfranchised:

In case you missed that chart showing the 504S disparity between rich and poor schools, here is a capture:

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Let us pray. . . that DeVos and Trump Will Be Impeached

Along with the Trump-inspired lawless state house bills to lock up women and doctors for exercising their lawful rights regarding women's health, there are at least 10 states now pushing through more lawless Trumpian legislation to allow Bible study as part of the school curriculum.  

Not comparative religion or history or the Bible as Literature, but Christian Bible study.  

A clip from a good opinion piece at DC Report.org:
. . . .Counseling Today magazine argues, for example, that it has become necessary to lobby seriously to keep federal money for school mental health. The Trump administration’s federal budget proposal cut $8.5 billion from the Department of Education, including the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program. That program supported, among other things, mental health, school security and safety, community engagement—the kind of programs that would address the issues we hear after every school shooting. 
Instead, Washington Post religion writer Julie Zauzmer detailed the movement of church Bible classes from churches into public schools. She took us to Kentucky, where a new state law—one of several pending in other states —is encouraging public high schools to teach the Bible, not as part of a survey of religions, but as Bible study. 
Through a legislative effort Project Blitz, activists on the religious right, have drafted a law that encourages Bible classes in public schools and persuaded at least 10 state legislatures to introduce versions of it this year. Georgia and Arkansas recently passed bills that are awaiting their governors’ signatures. Among the powerful fans of these public-school Bible classes is President Trump. “Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible,” Trump tweeted in January. “Starting to make a turn back? Great!”
Do your part.  Support Americans for the Separation of Church and State. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Bernie Sanders K-12 Plan Falls Way Short

Bernie Sanders has received lots of attention since his announcement of a new education platform for K-12.  While the Sanders plan is the only plan among twenty-some-odd candidates with any real specifics, the Sanders Plan falls far short of addressing the basic needs of children, teachers, and parents who depend upon public schools in the U. S.

However, an article just published by Nikhil Goyal at The Nation offers a positive take on the Sanders Plan.  Let's look at a couple of specifics: first, his position on charter schools.
Sanders announced that as president, in alignment with the NAACP, he would ban for-profit charter schools and impose a moratorium on federal dollars for charter expansion until a national audit was conducted. An audit would reveal that there are indeed many progressive, student-centered charters, such as High Tech High in San Diego, Minnesota New Country School, YouthBuild Charter School in Philadelphia, and Compass Charter School in Brooklyn. And those shouldn’t be shuttered.
We have to wonder if Team Sanders knows that if all for-profit charters were closed today, still over 85 percent of U. S. charter schools would remain open.

As for the proposed moratorium on "non-profit" charter expansion that would remain in effect until a national audit could be conducted, such a moratorium would leave open around 6,400 existing charters, most of which are either entirely apartheid or intensely segregated, and most are based on a total compliance lockdown instructional model that no middle class parent would ever consider for her own child.

As for the value of a national audit for charter operators, the suggestion by Sanders is that if a charter school has high test scores and clean bookkeeping, then it should continue to operate and expand, regardless of how many millions of "non-profit" public dollars are being siphoned away to build corporate education empires whose managers decide how segregated and disenfranchised children will be culturally sterilized in the no-excuses KIPP Model charter schools.

We have to ask ourselves, too, if a national audit would ignore more fine-grained details that show how "non-profit" charter chains legally shortchange instructional budgets while padding management and administrative costs.  Would an audit uncover the many ways that corporate charter grifters legally take public money from children and their teachers?

A couple of charts from 2015 research paper by Bruce Baker and Gary Miron demonstrate what I'm talking about.  Table 3 below shows how Texas charter schools compare with a major urban district in terms of expenditures.  We can see, for instance, how KIPP, Harmony, and other Texas charter schools spend a smaller percentage on instruction and a larger percentage on administration and plant services, when compared to Texas public schools that serve the same students.

We see, too, how charters depend upon a workforce model that exploits new teachers who are burned through, discarded, and replaced by more beginners.

Table 6 shows who the real beneficiaries are of public's generosity to fund a separate school system in  America.

Remember, too, that over 60 billion public dollars go to charter schools every year in this country.

How long can we afford this kind of support for a handful of amateur non-educators who are clueless about the art and science of education or the needs of children?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

KIPP Menace Has Come to Baton Rouge

When KIPP first pitched its segregated brand of total compliance hell schools in Baton Rouge in 2001, the proposal was soundly defeated.  Now thanks to the arm-twisting of political hack and corporate lackey, Rolfe McCollister, the Baton Rouge School Board has downed a strong dose of the KIPP NOLA kool-aid, even though the three KIPP schools recently approved will drain away at least $34 million each year from public schools when fully operational.

Thanks to Evelyn Ware-Jackson for voting NO to bringing KIPP's unique brand of child abuse to Baton Rouge:
. . . . Evelyn Ware-Jackson voted no on KIPP:New Orleans' proposal.

Initially positive, Ware-Jackson said she was concerned after hearing from a handful of speakers who drove up from New Orleans to tell horror stories about how KIPP handles discipline matters there.

"I don't know who to believe," Ware-Jackson said.

Maria Harmon, co-founder of community organizing group, Step Up Louisiana, harshly criticized what she described as a system of indoctrination and public shaming at KIPP schools.

“I’m telling you now you don’t want this kind of program in your school district,” Harmon said. “It won’t benefit black children, not at all. The only thing it does is prepare them for prison.” . . . .

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Poorest School Kids in Warwick, RI Get Cold Sandwiches Rather Than Hot Meals

from the AP:
WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island school district will begin serving cold sandwiches instead of hot lunches to students whose families owe lunch money.

Warwick Public Schools says it is owed more than $40,000 from outstanding lunch payments and cannot afford to absorb the costs.

The new policy begins next Monday.

A local restaurant owner wrote on Facebook that the district twice turned down a $4,000 donation for the lunch debt.

The district responded in a statement saying it must treat all students equally and cannot single out which debts to reduce.

The district recommended the donor take applications and decide who receives the money.
Critics say such lunch debt policies shame children for something outside of their control.

Pending legislation would change state law making free hot lunches available for all students regardless of income.
Call this idiot: 
Superintendent of Warwick Public Schools
Philip Thornton, Ed.D.