Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Monday, February 22, 2021
Everyone wants schools open, particularly teachers engaged online with disengaged children online. But teachers, being the selfish sort they are, would like live out their lives, rather than dying alone while a machine pumps air into their Covid-melted lungs.
The Biden Administration messaging on reopening schools that would be safe for teachers and staff has been the biggest mess I have seen from what, otherwise, appears to be a well-oiled machine on top of most of the chaos left by T---p. Yesterday's appearance by Jen Psaki did not help:
“The CDC is saying in order to be safe, there are a number of steps that can be taken. Vaccinating teachers is one of them,” Psaki said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” before listing an array of other measures, including smaller class sizes, separating children on school buses, providing personal protective equipment to schools and making testing facilities more available.
“Our secretary of education will work with school districts to implement that,” Psaki continued. “So [teachers] should be prioritized. But our science experts are saying it’s not a prerequisite and that’s the guidelines that we follow.”
Let's face it: school systems already crushed by underfunding do not have the resources for this "array of other measures." And they won't have the resources until weeks or months after the Covid relief bill is passed and signed by the President. So stop pretending, okay?
If Team Biden wants schools reopened, teachers protected, and parents happy, then sign an order to get money immediately to states to vaccinate teachers. States will do it if they have the money to do it. How could such a simple solution turn out to be so confounding!
Monday, February 01, 2021
More than 15 years before the Trumpers arrived in DC to initiate the latest "back to basic stupidity" era in all things social, cultural, economic, and intellectual, there was another Republican, George W. Bush, who had his own particular backwards fixation, which found its way into education policy in general and K-3 reading instruction in particular.
Following his appointment to the Presidency by the Supreme Court in December 2000, Bush's first big initiative was No Child Left Behind, and reading instruction was the centerpiece of that legislation.
In shaping NCLB reading policy, Bush leaned heavily on NIH neuropsychologist and self-declared reading guru, Reid Lyon, who viewed learning to read "the right way" as important for neural wiring as it was for academic success. In a 2002 speech, Lyon told a group of Maryland teachers that "[w]e have to realize that education has to take on the same importance as medicine. . . . Teachers are the best brain surgeons around, the best at developing the nervous system."
Lyon's enthusiasm for regimented phonics instruction as the best way to hard-wire receptive, convergent learners was matched by his animosity toward professional teacher preparation and research-based methods for teaching reading that go beyond . Just two months after Lyon spoke to Maryland teachers about the importance of their craft, he said this at a national policy forum: "If there was any piece of legislation that I could pass it would be to blow up colleges of education."
Five years later, however, Lyon was helping to launch a for-profit college of education focused on preparing reading teachers the way God and Reid Lyon intended (my bolds):
What I learned at NIH and what guides our course development at American College of Education is that children's brains can literally be molded, changed, by the teaching they receive. Our goal now is to close the gap between our science tells us about learning and what our teachers apply in the classroom. A graduate degree from American College of Education means that teachers know the science behind how children learn.
Despite five years and over $5 billion spent on Reading First federal discretionary grants that were used to cajole, pressure, and bribe school systems to adopt and implement direct phonics instruction methods, DOE's own research, in both the interim and final reports, showed that Reading First was a big flop. From the NCEE Final Report Summary:
The findings presented in this report are generally consistent with findings presented in the study's Interim Report, which found statistically significant impacts on instructional time spent on the five essential components of reading instruction promoted by the program (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension) in grades one and two, and which found no statistically significant impact on reading comprehension as measured by the SAT 10.
To add insult to Lyon's injury, a 2007 study by the federal "What Works Clearinghouse" found that the only reading program to pass muster in all reading domains was one that Reid Lyon and the Reading First goons had excluded for its lack of fidelity to the reductionist catechism preferred by right-wing code breakers. From Education Week:
Just one program was found to have positive effects or potentially positive effects across all four of the domains in the review—alphabetics, fluency, comprehension, and general reading achievement. That program, Reading Recovery, an intensive, one-on-one tutoring program, has drawn criticism over the past few years from prominent researchers and federal officials who claimed it was not scientifically based.
Federal officials and contractors tried to discourage states and districts from using Reading Recovery in schools participating in the federal Reading First program, citing a lack of evidence that it helps struggling readers.
The bankruptcy of current education reform initiatives is evident in ongoing attempts to resuscitate explicit, phonics-based methods that seeks to convert learners into compliant code breakers and rule followers, thus using neurological and behavioral patterning to influence children's brain functions. Phonics fanatics believe this can be done "during the reading initiation phase."
Part 3 will examine the latest efforts to impose the antiquarian science of reading in South Carolina and Tennessee.
Sunday, January 31, 2021
It's easy to make a case that Donald Trump was the least informed, least effective, and most racist President since Woodrow Wilson. And it is even easier to do same for his "utterly unqualified" Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.
NEW SUBSECTION . 5A. A school shall not utilize any United States history curriculum that in whole or in part is derived from a project by the New York Times, known as the “1619 Project”, or any similarly developed curriculum.
. . . a 2017 HuffPost investigation found that about one-third of Christian schools participating in private school choice programs used a curriculum created by these two publishers [BJU Press and Abeka] or a similar company called Accelerated Christian Education, amounting to around 2,400 schools. The number of schools using these company’s products that do not participate in a voucher program likely amounts to thousands more. (Voucher programs allow students to use taxpayer funds to attend private schools.)
If all this were not enough to boost her white pride polling numbers, Reynolds and her legislative counterparts want to do what they can to reestablish segregation in schools by allowing students "to transfer out of schools with a voluntary or court-ordered diversity plan."
Friday, January 22, 2021
Revised January 24, 2020
Prior to this week, the last time a Tennessee governor brought the General Assembly into Special Session to pass education legislation was January 2010, and it was all about getting more federal money to pay for the schools that state politicians are unwilling to support.
Responding to call by Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), the TN legislature quickly met in January 2010 and passed into state law the necessary policies that would make the state a shoo-in for a half-billion dollar federal grant to be provided by Obama's Race to to the Top (RttT). A core component of Tennessee's half-baked program was to use the money for a test score based teacher evaluation scheme, which added to Tennessee's reputation as an educational laughingstock.
Just this week, Governor Bill Lee (R), has ridden herd over another special session on education, this one ostensibly to address 1) what educational snake oil salesmen call the Covid-related "learning loss," and 2) the reading proficiency emergency at Tennessee's elementary schools.
Since "learning loss" scam is covered in this recent post, let me focus for a moment on Bill Lee's other manufactured crisis, reading literacy.
Less than two years ago, Lee's Commissioner of Education, Penny Schwinn was providing this spin on recent NAEP results for Chalkbeat:
Tennessee jumped from 34th to 25th in fourth-grade math and moved up three spots to 31st in fourth-grade reading, according to calculations provided by the state education department. For eighth-graders, Tennessee now ranks 30th in both reading and math, up from 38th and 35th, respectively.
Legislation introduced this week by Lee's team adopts an entirely different spin on reading proficiency by TN students:
(3) In 2019, Tennessee's third grade English language arts proficiency rate was thirty-six and nine-tenths percent (36.9%);
(4) In 2019, Tennessee's eighth grade English language arts proficiency rate was twenty-seven and one-tenth percent (27.1%); and
(5) In 2019, Tennessee ranked thirty-first in the nation in fourth grade reading proficiency and thirtieth in eighth grade reading proficiency.
A couple of things are notable about these claims. First, there are no third grade proficiency rates provided by NAEP. Grade 4 rates, check. Grade 8 rates, check. No grade 3.
Second, the mendacious and misleading NAEP proficiency rates cited by Lee's folks are simply wrong: 4th grade proficiency in 2019, according to NAEP, was 35%, and 8th grade proficiency was 32%.
The reason that Lee's henchmen want to mislead the public with manufactured scores for 3rd graders is explained here by Amy Frogge:
. . . here’s the biggest concern about the “learning loss” bill: It will require districts to hold back third graders who are not deemed “proficient” in standardized testing. (Proficiency rates can be manipulated by the state through cut scores.) If you google the term “Mississippi miracle,” you will find that Mississippi used this very same trick to create the appearance of a sudden increase on NAEP test scores. Holding back low-performing third graders creates the illusion of huge one-time testing gains, and implementation of the bill would take place just in time for the 2023 NAEP tests. This is not about best serving the children of Tennessee; it’s about gaming the system. Furthermore, the costs for holding back large numbers of third graders, as mandated by this bill, would be astronomical.
It's not as if we don't know the harmful effects of grade retention on children. We do. Even so, Lee up for, um, a presidential bid? in 2024, and he has consciously decided to sacrifice the welfare of Tennessee's poorest children, who inevitably will comprise the vast majority of 3rd grade failures, for the PR boost that he hopes voters will attribute to his miraculous education interventions, just passed.
Saturday, January 16, 2021
ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.As supporters of President Donald Trump took part in a violent riot at the Capitol, users of the social media service Parler posted videos of themselves and others joining the fray. ProPublica reviewed thousands of videos uploaded publicly to the service that were archived by a programmer before Parler was taken offline by its web host. Below is a collection of more than 500 videos that ProPublica determined were taken during the events of Jan. 6 and were relevant and newsworthy. Taken together, they provide one of the most comprehensive records of a dark event in American history through the eyes of those who took part.
Here is the link.
Sunday, January 10, 2021
Sunday, January 03, 2021
Curriculum Associates (CA) started in a garage in 1969 with four employees, and for twenty years the company marketed supplementary basic curriculum materials to K-12 school systems. In 1989, the original head of the company, Frank Ferguson, saw the testing accountability writing on the wall, and he expanded the focus of the company into the assessment market with the creation of TEST READY® Mathematics
Thursday, December 31, 2020
First the good news. Cardona's has deep experience as a teacher, school administrator, and state education commissioner. He understands public school culture, and he understands the challenges of growing up short on privilege.
Cardona will be the first Secretary of Education to understand the kinds of school environments and programs that allow English learners to thrive while becoming proficient in English and keeping up academically. As such, he is an advocate for bilingual and dual language programs, which have been shown by an established body of research to be the most effective and efficient strategies for educating English learners.
Cardona believes that all children and teens should have a voice in shaping their own schooling and not be forced in the college-for-all-regardless mold. Cardona will likely be an advocate for the kind of K-12 magnet schools where students attend based on interests.
Cardona will likely be a strong civil rights advocate and a supporter of integrated schools. We don't know, however, if he will be the first Secretary since the federal department was created to take seriously the research on the importance of racial and class integration, social capital, and diversity among faculty.
In addition, we don't know how how much Cardona is willing to focus on the importance of the education debt owed to the children of the poor, rather than being fixated, as most admins are, on the testing achievement gap, which has been used as a cudgel for 40 years to beat down teachers and children whose test scores don't live up to the world class expectations of white philanthropists but, rather, realistically reflect the disadvantage of living in a racist and classist society. In short, we don't know if Cardona will embrace accountability for the continued segregated living and learning of brown and black kids of this nation--embrace it with the same fervor that his predecessors at ED have clung to the corrupt racism of testing accountability.
And then there's the bad news of Cardona's obvious agnosticism in regards to charter schools, which is an admission that he likes things just as they are or likes them enough to embrace the status quo of 7,500+ charter schools, which are draining off $30 billion public dollars every year to operate an alternate segregated system of punishing corporate reform schools. Probably the most telling comment so far about Cardona's take on charters comes from a charter chain CEO:
“I haven’t found him to be pro-charter or anti-charter. It doesn’t seem like he’s focused on governance and structure. What he is focused on are great schools for kids. And I think just more broadly, I haven’t found him to be driven by ideology and politics,” said Dacia Toll, the chief executive officer of Achievement First, which operates the largest network of charter schools in Connecticut and also has schools in Rhode Island and New York.
Not a good sign.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
The latest executive order by troglodyte Trump tacitly admits that charter schools are *NOT* public schools. We all knew that, but it's nice when the vile privatizers tell on themselves. *
While it is good to see DeVos and Trump on the way out, there's little to hope for with Biden. It's already been announced that right-wing, neoliberal hatchetman Bruce Reed will be Biden's Deputy Chief of Staff, and the choice of seemingly apolitical Miguel Cardona is probably for a reason.
At the end of the day Biden was part of the second worst administration for education. The damage doltish Arne Duncan did prior to Trump is what opened the door for DeVos in the first place.
DeVos = Duncan + Dominionism *