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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Krash Course #10: NCTQ's Gradual Unmasking

With the release of the National Education Policy Center's 2011 Bunkum Awards, I feel the need to join in the spirit of NEPC's excellent work to highlight the gradual unmasking of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

Jim Horn warned about NCTQ here (February 2, 2010):
"To demonstrate that enough funding can buy exclusive rights to publish propaganda as research in the mainstream media, see this teacher bashing piece below from the AP, which treats NCTQ as a legitimate research organization, rather than as an advocacy group in support of charter schools and the corporate attack on the teacher preparation, teacher quality, and state teacher credentialing systems [emphasis added]."
Recently, I characterized NCTQ's assault on teachers and teacher education as a central player in the bully politics of education reform. Since then, the evidence is gathering, exposing NCTQ as partisan politics masked as scholarly evaluations of teacher education.

NCTQ's first report has already been thoroughly dismissed in a review from NEPC: "Benner’s critique finds fault at every level of the NCTQ evaluation, including development and interpretation of the standards of evaluation, sampling techniques, methodology, data analysis, and findings."

As well, Diane Ravitch, who sat at the table in the beginning of NCTQ, has confirmed NCTQ's bully politics:
"Since then, many institutions announced that they would not collaborate. Some felt that they had already been evaluated by other accrediting institutions like NCATE or TEAC; others objected to NCTQ’s methodology. As the debate rated, NCTQ told the dissenters that they would be rated whether they agreed or not, and if they didn’t cooperate, they would get a zero. The latest information that I have seen is that the ratings will appear this fall."
And Ravitch has exposed the partisan and ideological roots of NCTQ's masked agenda:
"NCTQ was created by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in 2000. I was on the board of TBF at the time. Conservatives, and I was one, did not like teacher training institutions. We thought they were too touchy-feely, too concerned about self-esteem and social justice and not concerned enough with basic skills and academics. In 1997, we had commissioned a Public Agenda study called 'Different Drummers'; this study chided professors of education because they didn’t care much about discipline and safety and were more concerned with how children learn rather than what they learned. TBF established NCTQ as a new entity to promote alternative certification and to break the power of the hated [emphasis added] ed schools."
Building on Ravitch's challenges to NCTQ's credibility, Anthony Cody has compared NCTQ to "[t]he 'Payola' scandal occurred in the 1950s when it was discovered that many of the DJs were routinely making decisions about what to play not based on the quality of the music, but on bribes they were receiving from record companies." Cody then offers an alternative to NCTQ's dishonest claim to be addressing teacher certification:
"Our schools of education ought to be in a position to think clearly and freely about the challenges our schools face. They are certainly not perfect, but their ability to take an independent stance on education policies and practices is crucial for us to avoid a complete groupthink. But this sort of ideological unanimity in support of 'obsession over data' is what our education 'reformers' apparently want, and the foundations driving the corporate reform agenda will do what it takes to get it."
But the most pointed challenge to NCTQ may be from Jack Hassard:
"The researchers of the NTCQ study are stuck in a 19th-century model of teaching, and simply want to hold accountable teacher education institutions to the principles and practices that teacher education rocketed through years ago. 
"But at the same time, the NTCQ study cleverly uses percentages and numbers in such a way to convince some that teacher education programs are inadequate, and need to be regulated in ways that satisfy their interests. If you look at their sources of funding, and the names of individuals who sit on their boards, you will see the conservative agenda in action in this organization. 
"My advice is to call them to task on this study. Tell them that their study in no way sheds any light on how assessment is taught in teacher education programs. The only light that is shed is on their own deficiencies as a research organization."
NCTQ offers no credible agenda or scholarship worthy of reforming teacher education. But this ideological think tank is a disturbing example of all that is wrong with the current education reform movement that has allowed people without experience or expertise as educators to perpetuate an education reform agenda through the weight of money, political influence, and media compliance.

While I agree with Anthony Cody that much in teacher education needs to be reformed, nothing coming from NCTQ or the myriad self-proclaimed reformers or the U.S. Department of Education or The Gates Foundation or U.S. News & World Report offers anything of value in that pursuit.

Wireless internet: A good investment for schools?

Is wireless internet a good investment for schools?
Sent to Seattle Times, May 30, 2012

Re: “Seattle construction levy may include wireless Internet for all schools,” May 28, 2012.

By the time voters in Seattle decide whether they want to spend $11.5 million (that’s about $200 per student) largely to install wireless internet in Seattle schools, wireless connections as we know them now will be different and maybe even obsolete. Remember ethernet?

The computer companies will be delighted to sell Seattle the newest hardware and software to keep the students connected. Again and again.

Why not spend the money on materials we know are of clear and lasting value?

Stephen Krashen

Original article: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2018307238_wireless29m.html

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Who Owns Stock in Pearson?

Sometimes the comments are more profound than the story:
Comment on CommonDreams to Valerie Strauss story on High Stakes Standardized Tests
The question, reported by the New York Daily News, referred to a story similar to the famous Aesop fable about the tortoise and the hare, but in this version, a talking pineapple challenges a hare to race. The rabbit wins, not surprisingly, as the fruit can’t actually move, and other animals, who have wagered on the winner, eat the pineapple, according to the paper. Students were asked some perplexing questions:
Why did the animals eat the talking fruit, and which animal was wisest? "
And someone actually paid a lot of money to have this test developed and administered?  I think that demonstrates how utterly stupid the premise of "standardized" testing actually is.  Just what qualifies Pearson as an authority on education?  And who owns stock in the firm?
When I was in eigth grade we had to pass a "constitution" test to graduate and go on to high school.  Somehow I think that's been more valuable to my life experience than wondering why the pineapple was eaten.  It's pretty obvious the other animals were simply hedging their bet.  Interestingly I wonder why they were even worried about the outcome since obviously the pineapple was immobile to begin with. Either they were hungry and liked the taste of pineapple or they were totally clueless and perverted. Much like today's Wall St.. Since the pineapple is not an animal it's not to be included in the last part of the question, and the other animals aren't identified....there can only be one winner: the hare.
Is my answer correct? I am thinking we'll never know.
show les

America can't wait until middle school!

Sent to the Columbus Dispatch, May 30, 2012

High school credit for middle-school courses is of course a step in the right direction, but doesn’t go nearly far enough (“Middle-schoolers get additional shots at taking high-school courses,” May 30).

Why wait until middle school? We should strengthen instruction in the earlier years as well. Back in 1998, I called for prenatal phonemic awareness training (published in the professional journal Reading Improvement), which, along with a more rigorous and extensive preschool program, should prepare children for high school credit classes much earlier than middle school.

Of course this increased academic load will require a longer school day. For a reasonable suggestion, please see O’Neal and Hicks’ paper in the Journal of Irreproducible Results in which they conclude that a 21-hour school day is optimal, with continuous classes and no breaks, except for two breaks for meals and one lavatory visit.

As US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said, “America can’t wait!”

Stephen Krashen
President, Society for Kindergarten Kalculus

Krashen, S. 1998. Phonemic awareness training for prelinguistic children: Do we need prenatal PA? Reading Improvement 35: 167-171.
O'Neal, R. and Hicks, L. 1991. The 21-hour school day. The Journal of Irreproducible Results, 36 (6): 17

Original story: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/05/30/get-ahead-credits.html

Crisis in PA Cracks Ed Privatization Scheme Wide Open

Some good journalism coming out of privatization scheme for Phildadelphia public schools. The lead is at the top of the article for a change:

The fiscal crisis facing our public schools is being exploited by a movement to privatize public education, break unions and subject students to high-stakes test-prep regimes.

The story is there, not buried way down, like it is in the NYT and the corporate owned media. Same scenario playing out all across the country as state budget woes are being used to cut public education spending and transfer funds to friends and cronies in the corporate, for-profit world, a world where earnings per share is worshipped at the expense of everything humane. Nothing like a financial crisis to get people to pay attention - the plan all along since the inception of NCLB was to privatize public education, break unions and keep the profits rolling in for the testing industrial complex and the profiteers like Pearson. The day of reckoning has finally arrived.

The good news is, people are slowly waking up and they aren't sure this is the way they want their children to be educated in a Race to the Top that generates a few winners, a monopoly in the testing business, and lots of losers including their own children who are reduced to nothing but a number.

Thanks to the dedicated teachers who have hung in there in the trenches there are still a few educated people around who can still discern the difference between fair and unfair, equal and unequal, stupid and intelligent. Despite the vicious attacks by business leaders and politicians who have scapegoated teachers and public schools for a financial crisis that was caused by them, there is no longer anywhere for the privatizers to hide.

After Bush and his regime trashed the economy and mismanagement the budget, states are looking for ways to save money and it's on the backs of the most vulnerable. Public education spending is being slashed and teachers are easy pickings when it comes to  austerity because after all, who, other than teachers know what it's like to live on a tight budget. 

It will be interesting to see what happens in PA. Will Penn cough up a few bucks to help educate the next generation, or continue to hide behind its non-profit status.

Hostile Witness

Make 'Em Pay

The fiscal crisis facing our public schools is being exploited by a movement to privatize public education, break unions and subject students to high-stakes test-prep regimes. But it is a crisis nonetheless — one that requires long-term solutions, immediate band-aids and, critically, a substantial commitment from Philly's largest stakeholders.
As I've reported, the state, whose School Reform Commission (SRC) has controlled Philly schools since 2001, has underfunded poor districts for decades. This fiscal year, Gov. Tom Corbett and the Republican legislature slashed nearly $300 million of Philly's funding. The district now faces a $218 million deficit for the coming year and a $1.1 billion cumulative five-year shortfall.
"We have a dysfunctional conversation here," Republican City Councilman Dennis O'Brien told the SRC last week. "We have a five-year plan [from the district] with no anticipated revenue from the state until 2016 or '17? What the hell is up with that?"
Sure: Corbett probably isn't eager to deliver aid to Philly. But the crisis is statewide: Upper Darby, Harrisburg, York. Philly could lead a movement.
Short-term solutions, though insufficient, are also critical. The city's funding debate has revolved around Mayor Nutter's controversial request that a recalibrated property-tax system pay out an additional $94 million. But deep-pocketed Philadelphia institutions could also help soften the blow. Penn (with a $6.58 billion endowment) hides behind its nonprofit status and pays no property taxes to the city. And unlike nearly every Ivy League school in the country, Penn pays no "payments in lieu of taxes," or PILOTs. In 2005, Harvard agreed to pay Boston $60 million in PILOTs over 20 years; Yale pays about $8.1 million a year to New Haven.
Already, a yearly investment of about $800,000 from Penn has turned West Philly's Penn Alexander School into a shining beacon in the troubled district. Imagine what a few million more dollars could do.
Nutter has said that Act 55, a 1997 state law, stripped the city of its ability to legally challenge nonprofit exemptions, and thus made it impossible to demand PILOTs. But in April, the state Supreme Court ruled that cities could hold nonprofits to a tougher standard. The city has indicated it will.
The city should make Penn pay now. And if Nutter had the gumption, he would lead a movement of mayors to demand that Corbett meet the state constitution's requirement to provide for "a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth."

Wide and Deep: High Stakes Testing Protests Escalate

From Valerie Strauss at WaPo:
Opposition to high-stakes standardized testing is growing around the country, with more parents choosing to opt their children out of taking exams, more school boards expressing disapproval of testing accountability systems and even a group of superintendents joining the fight.

Just last month I wrote about the growing resistance, noting that it wasn’t yet full-fledged but that it seemed to be picking up steam. It has and still is.

A national resolution protesting high-stakes test that was released in April already has support from more than 300 organizations and more than 8,000 individuals.

In Georgia, a group of school district superintendents, led by PelhamCity Schools chief Jim Arnold have started a petition calling on the state legislature to rethink its test-based accountability system. (Other superintendens on board include Danny Hawkins of Whitfield County Schools and Bill McCown of Gordon County Schools.)

That petition is based on a resolution that has been passed now by about 520 local school boards in Texas — including Houston, the home of the so-called “Texas miracle” that launched the high-stakes testing era. Those school boards represent more than 40 percent of the state’s students. It was the Texas education commission, Robert Scott, who earlier this year made news by saying publicly that the mentality that standardized testing is the “end-all, be-all” is a “perversion” of what a quality education should be. He recently announced that he was resigning.
Arnold was influenced by a petition started in New York by school principals protesting the state’s new educator evaluation system that used in part standardized test scores of students. More than 1,400 New York principals have signed it.

Then professors in New York launched their own petition against the state’s educator evaluation system, while scores of professors and researchers from at least 16 universities throughout the Chicago metropolitan area signed an open letter to the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and Chicago school officials warning against implementing a teacher evaluation system that is based on standardized test scores.
What’s the reason for the growing resistance? Actually, there are a number of them. Student scores on standardized tests have become the main accountability measure today for students, schools, teachers, principals, districts and even states. Assessment experts have warned that standardized tests are not designed for such purposes, but they are being used by reformers who either don’t believe the experts or are ignoring them.

Here’s more of what’s going on, from Monty Neill, executive director of the non-profit National Center for Fair & Open Testing, known ass FairTest:

*Testing errors, such as the notorious “Pineapple story” in New York and the “I have a secret” writing prompt in New Jersey have further roiled the waters. “Pineapple” was just one of more than 20 mistakes on the New York exams. The impact was intensified because New York’s tests are now kept secret. Until recently the state made its questions and answers public after administering them. Under its new contact with test-maker Pearson, however, they are secret, as they are in most states. Teachers face severe sanctions for revealing scores, but students and their parents have been revealing the flaws.

*In New York, parents are organizing to boycott the June administration of a “try out” test. Students will answer experimental questions so Pearson can select items for future tests, perhaps to be used in multiple states for more profits, as was “Pineapple.” The company already had included experimental questions on the May state tests.

Some parents opted their children out of the regular New York tests. In some cases, principals allowed the students to do schoolwork when exams were being administered, but in other schools principals threatened parents with truancy and child-endangerment laws. (Given that the tests have been known to increase fights in school, create emotional distress, and even induce vomiting, the real “child endangerment” is the testing.) Now, more and more parents, urban and suburban, are rising up to say, “Enough,” “No Mas.”

Opting out is not new. Boycotts grew in states such as Massachusetts when increased testing began under No Child Left Behind. Attaching high stakes to them, such as graduation and school sanctions, quieted the revolt. Students needed to pass to graduate and schools that did not test enough students would automatically fail. Still, in states such as Colorado, steady work by groups such as the Coalition for Better Schools has produced growing numbers of opting out parents. And in Snohomish, Washington, 550 parents held their children out, and they are working to spread the refusal to other communities.

*The national resolution has been endorsed by a variety of mjor national organizations have also endorsed the resolution. This includes education groups such as the National Education Association and National Association for Bilingual Education; civil rights organizations such as the NAACP-Legal Defense and Educational Fund and its Asian American counterpart, AALDEF; National Opportunity to Learn Campaign; religious denominations including Presbyterians; and more. The National PTA sent to its members a letter saying the resolution is congruent with PTA policy and urging locals to sign it.

You can see the list of signers – and add your endorsement - at the resolution home page http://timeoutfromtesting.org/nationalresolution/.

* In Florida, two county school boards voted to support the national resolution: Palm Beach (the nation’s 11th largest) and Saint Lucie.

* More media attention is being paid to the emerging testing revolt. In Florida, for example, stories have proliferated in newspapers and on television. Editorials and columnists have denounced the state’s testing policy. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal, CNN and MSNBC  are among the major outlets providing coverage (as well, of course, as this blog). Nat Hentoff headlined his column for Southern Standard, “Parents rebel against standardized tests.”

If this keeps up, even President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are going to have to notice.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer Reading in Champaign: An Easier and More Effective Way

Published in the News-Gazette (Champaign, IL), June 5, 2012

The summer reading programs in Champaign for high school students have a worthy and sensible goal: Increase interest in recreational reading. This goal, however, can be achieved far more efficiently.

The new program described by the News-Gazette (“Champaign high schools now require summer reading,” May 28) requires high school students to select among a small set of books on a given theme and read one over the summer. (Students can read a book not on the list, but it must be related to the assigned theme.) Research consistently shows that self-selected reading of books of genuine interest is much more effective in stimulating literacy development than assigned reading.

The program requires written responses to questions about the book when students return in the summer. Research consistently shows that writing summaries and book reports does not increase literacy development and can turn students off to reading.

Another summer program in the Champaign area, the Teen Summer Reading program, awards prizes for reading. Research consistently shows that rewarding people for activities that are inherently pleasurable can result in less interest in doing the activity. Rewards send the message that the activity is not pleasurable and nobody would do it without a bribe.

There is an easier and more effective way. Research also consistently shows that when interesting books are available, teenagers do indeed read them, as demonstrated by the success of Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games. This means that we need to make a greater investment in public libraries, often the only source of books during the summer for those living in poverty, with the goal of providing students with a wide choice of books to read, with no written reports required.

With the increase in poverty in East Central Illinois over the last decade (“Changes in poverty and how schools are affected,” News-Gazette, January 15, 2012), well supported libraries are of more importance than ever.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Original article: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2012-05-28/champaign-high-schools-now-require-summer-reading.html

Some sources:
Self-selected reading is more effective: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Heinemann Publishing Company and Libraries Unlimited; Lee, S.Y. 2007. Revelations from three consecutive studies on extensive reading. RELC Journal 38 no. 2, 150–70. For a report of a successful summer reading program based on self-selected, see: Shin, F. and Krashen, S. 2007. Summer Reading: Program and Evidence. New York: Allyn and Bacon.
Writing summaries and book reports; Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Heinemann Publishing Company and Libraries Unlimited; Mason, B. 2004. The effect of adding supplementary writing to an extensive reading program. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 1 (1): 2-16; Smith, K. 2006. A comparison of “pure” extensive reading with intensive reading and extensive reading with supplementary activities. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 2 (2): 12-15.
Prizes for reading: Kohn, A. 1997. Punished by Rewards. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. McQuillan, J. 1997. The effects of incentives on reading, Reading Research and Instruction 36: 111-25.Krashen, S. 2003. The (lack of) experimental evidence supporting the use of accelerated reader. Journal of Children’s Literature 29 (2): 9, 16-30.
Tennagers do read them: Krashen, S. 2001. Do teenagers like to read? Yes! Reading Today 18(5): 16. Krashen, S. 2011. Why we should stop scolding teenagers and their schools: Frequency of leisure reading. Language Magazine 11(4): 18-21.
Library the only source of books: Neuman, S. and Celano, D. 2001. Access to print in low-income and middle-income communities. Reading Research Quarterly 36 (1): 8-26. Krashen, S. Power of Reading.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The States: More Bully Politics of Education Reform

From South Carolina to New Jersey to Wisconsin—and all across the U.S.—universal public education is under assault by the bully politics of education reform.

In my home state of South Carolina, Governor Haley and Superintendent Zais, neither of whom have experience or expertise in education, are seeking to attack unions (although SC is a non-union, right-to-work state), increase education testing through adopting Common Core State Standards, deprofessionalize teachers through new accountability and merit-pay schemes, and cripple public schools by endorsing expanded choice initiatives.

Tractenberg details a similar pattern in New Jersey:
"Gov. Chris Christie wastes no opportunity to trash Newark’s public schools. His assaults continued recently at a national school choice conference, where he and odd-couple partner Mayor Cory Booker were featured speakers. "Aside from Christie’s well-known penchant for confrontation, there are two big problems with his attacks. "First, he insists on citing “facts” that are either flat-out wrong or cherry-picked to emphasize the worst in Newark’s schools. An education expert recently questioned why those promoting school choice often use the best charter schools to characterize all charter schools and the worst regular public schools to characterize all those schools."
The situation is even more grim in Wisconsin, home of the relentless Governor Walker:
"Walker is the archetypical bully. He has plenty of insecurities as a possible suspect in a John Doe case and as a college dropout--which necessitates his attacks on the 'liberal' academics. Self-esteem issues explain his need to repeatedly remind us how 'courageous' he has been and how he is like Ronald Reagan. Walker, like most bullies, yearns for status—which explains his national speaking tour. Most blatantly bullying is Walker’s 'divide and conquer' management style (openly advertised to one of his billionaire campaign donors)." "No group is better skilled at handling bullies, like Walker, than public educators. Teachers have much experience managing bullies in schools. We are trained in anti-bullying tactics. We have intervened in bullying situations and we advise our students on how to counter bullying. It is now time for Wisconsin’s teachers to embrace what we teach our students."
Steve Strieker, then, calls for a response in Wisconsin that every educator should heed: "Public educators must not be bystanders to Walker’s bullying." Part of the action educators must take is to identify the hypocrisy and lack of credibility coming from the current leaders in the call to reform schools along "no excuses" and corporate ideologies.

Bully Bravado Masks Inexperience, No Expertise, and Hypocrisy

Presidents, Secretaries of Education, Governors, and State Superintendents of Education historically and currently have used their bully pulpits to speak to and directly influence public education in the U.S. and in each state. In the twenty-first century, billionaires, millionaires, athletes, and celebrities have increasingly joined those political leaders by adopting education as their hobby. Among all of these elites, several patterns expose their combined failure to understand the problems facing and solutions needed for education—despite their elitist status that allows them power and prestige in the education debate. Those patterns expose these leaders' hypocrisy and lack of credibility and include the following:

• Most of these leaders experienced educational advantages unlike the schools they hope to create by dismantling public schools. Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, and Mitt Romney, for example, enjoyed the luxury of low student-teacher ratios, but claim class size doesn't matter (although class size does matter). The hypocrisy of the "no excuses" reformers reveals that these people living in privilege have a different standard for other people's children.

• Most of these leaders have never taught a day in their lives, and have no background in education other than their appointments and self-proclamations as educators. Sal Khan—like Duncan, Gates, and the governors across the nation—for example, has been anointed "educator" and "innovator" without having ever taught, without holding any degrees in education.

• Most of these leaders have either a weak or nonexistent grasp on the current knowledge and research-base for teaching and learning. Further, like Christie, when these reformers call on evidence, they either cherry-pick, distort, or misrepresent the data. Recently, Superintendent Zais (SC) discounted paying teachers for years of experience or advanced degrees since, as he claimed, those two characteristic do not correlate positively with higher student test scores. But Zais does endorse merit pay, value-added methods of teacher evaluation, charter schools, and vouchers/tuition tax credits—all of which have the same correlation with higher student test scores as his claim about experience and advanced degrees.

With these patterns in mind, educators must consider directly the situation in Wisconsin, where a recall highlights the power of action, and possibly highlights yet again the negative influence of passive educators.

Wisconsin, along with SC and New Jersey, is not just one state in the union, but a very real crucible of democracy. Educators and citizens across the U.S. must not ignore that an attack on public schools, public school teachers, and public school students is an attack on democracy.

Democracy is not just an ideal, it is an act of the individual fully committed to the community.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The coming deluge of tests

Published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, May 22, 2012

I wonder how many people are aware of the amount of testing that will eventually accompany the Common Core Standards (“State plans big changes to testing, instruction,” May 21). It will be more than we have ever seen on this planet, and much more than the already excessive amount demanded by No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Testing done at the end of the school year will be expanded to include all subjects that can be tested and more grade levels. As noted in Union-Tribune, there will be “interim” tests given through the year and there may be pretests in the fall to measure growth through the school year.

This means about a 20-fold increase over NCLB.

The cost of implementing these electronically delivered national tests will be enormous, bleeding money from legitimate and valuable school activities.

There is no evidence that all this testing will improve things. In fact, the evidence we have now strongly suggests that increasing testing does not increase achievement.

Stephen Krashen

More grade levels to be tested: PARCC document: http://www.parcconline.org/sites/parcc/files/PARCC%20MCF%20Response%20to%20Public%20Feedback_%20Fall%202011%20Release.pdf; Race to the top for tots: http://www.ed.gov/early-learning/elc-draft-summary. (For a reaction, see http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2011/07/stephen_krashen_race_to_the_to.html)

Interim tests: Duncan, A. September 9, 2010. Beyond the Bubble Tests: The Next Generation of Assessments -- Secretary Arne Duncan's Remarks to State Leaders at Achieve's American Diploma Project Leadership Team Meeting: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/beyond-bubble-tests-next-generation-assessments-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-state-l. The Blueprint, (op. cit.) p. 11. “U.S. Asks Educators to Reinvent Student Tests, and How They Are Given,” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/03/education/03testing.html?_r=1

Testing in the fall (value-added measures: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-statehouse-convention-center-little-rock-arkansas (August 25, 2010). The Blueprint (op.cit.), p. 9.

Testing in more subjects: The Blueprint A Blueprint for Reform: The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. United States Department of Education March 2010; Education and the Language Gap: Secretary Arne Duncan's Remarks at the Foreign Language Summit,":

Zero evidence it will work: Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1). http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v14n1/. Additional evidence in Krashen, S. NUT: No Unnecessary Testing. http://sdkrashen.com/index.php?cat=4

Monday, May 21, 2012

Glen Ford: Corporate Assault on Public Education + Dr. Ravitch's Comments

Barack Obama has far exceeded George Bush in corporatization of education in the United States. — Glen Ford

Master dialectician Glen Ford's speech "Corporate Assault on Public Education" draws out all of the historical and material conditions that have created the current crop of African Americans who serve the most reactionary sectors of the corporate education cabal. His peerless voice matched with his uncanny ability to narrate compelling facts like Cory Booker's deep ties to the arch-reactionary The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation make for a powerful and informative speech. This is required viewing for every social justice advocate engaged in the desperate struggle to keep the remaining public commons out of the clutches of corporate coffers.

H/T to Big Education APE.

In the space of less than 20 years, the public school privatization movement has emerged from the narrow, right wing fringes to dominate both major political parties. From vouchers to school choice to charter schools, the issue has divided even Black Americans, who were once public education's most fervent supporters. Glen Ford explains how this came about by wealthy individuals buying black politicians and promoting their careers, particularly Corey Booker.

Glen Ford is a veteran of more than 40 years in broadcast, print and Internet journalism. A former Washington Bureau Chief and White House, Capitol Hill, and State Department correspondent, he is currently Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report (BlackAgendaReport.com), a weekly magazine of news, commentary and analysis from the Black Left. Along with co-host Nellie Hester Bailey, Ford hosts and produces the weekly, one-hour Black Agenda Radio program on the Progressive Radio Network.

Sponsored by LifeLines and Peace and Justice Task Force of All Souls Church. Event May 9, 2012 Camera, sound Joe Friendly

Professor Ravitch posted the following commentary on her blog today regarding the video that is extremely apropos:

Several people sent me a video of Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report skewering Corey Booker, the mayor of Newark, and Howard Fuller of Black Alliance for Educational Options as sell-outs for a rightwing agenda. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdPACwRgw04

I must say there was nothing in the video that surprised me. Back in the late 1990s, when I was involved in three different conservative organizations, there was a concerted effort to find and promote black advocates for choice. The leaders on the right wanted to promote charters as a boon to minorities and the poor. The pitch was, "We are saving poor kids from failing schools." After all, they couldn't very well go to state capitols and say, "Please pass charter legislation so that we can get government off our backs." Or, "please pass charter legislation because we can't get vouchers."

So the strategists on the right devised a clever campaign that was irresistible to liberals and conservatives alike: Create privately-managed schools to save poor black and Hispanic kids. Republicans would like the privatization aspect and liberals would fall for the "save poor minorities" part.

It worked.

Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, and all the other contributors to Black Agenda Report have consistently been the most principled and acerbic critics of the corporate education reform agenda. Please donate to their site to keep it going, and share their site far and wide.

NYC Parents Infuriated Over "Valueless" Test

There's a lot of talk of VAM (value added measures) these days as the new tool and solution to closing the achievement gap. VAM is popular with corporate ed deformers because it's now obvious the ones being used over the past decade under NCLB  used to declare students, teachers and schools failures, have actually been a huge failure. Unfortunately for the architects of this brilliant education policy, the economic crisis is causing the entire testing craziness to crumble under its own weight. With huge budget gaps and deep cuts to programs, services, and teachers at the same time class sizes have increased across city and across the country, we might be in the midst of a perfect storm strong enough to blow the cover off these valueless, worthless, measuring tools and bogus formulas once and for all.

Today it has been reported that parents in NYC are the latest group to organize, protest and stand up to the child abuse being perpetuated by the explosion in standardized tests costing taxpayers millions of dollars and making their children anxious, sick and uninterested in school.

Meanwhile, as the income gap and achievement gap have widened into a gaping chasm between the haves and have nots throughout classrooms and communities -- as child poverty, homelessness, hunger, unemployment and health problems continue to rise, there is no longer anywhere for these valueless testers to hide -- it just doesn't add up.

 This great awakening of parents, not only in NYC, but all across the country, who see more standardized tests are clearly a stupid waste of time and money when there are so many more important priorities and needs. The economic crisis, Great Recession, depression, or whatever you call it, will quicken the demise of the testing industrial complex as more citizens demand the billions of dollars being spent be redirected to really improving education.

And, for those who still believe market driven education reform and competition is a good model for education, or business leaders and the politicians in their pockets should be dictating curriculum and pedagogy,  obviously they are not reading the business news. A few days ago, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt filed for bankruptcy but no worries there because they managed to magically restructure the $3 billion in debt. Hmmm...looks like a failing company to me.  Who will step in and shut it down and take it over, institute new management, fire employees, cut costs? Apparently, everything is just fine at the world's largest textbook publishing company. In fact, management states it does not plan to lay off any employees and the company's future is as bright as ever.

Parents, there's not much value there either.

Parents from Williamsburg to Riverdale say the state’s high-stakes standardized testing regimen is out of control and a serious threat to their children’s education.
Why have so many parents across New York City decided that this year’s state standardized tests are not merely distracting, educationally valueless and overly determinative, but also damaging, twisted and intolerable? How have they become this year’s radicalizing experience for thousands of new parent-activists determined to change the direction that education policy is taking in New York?

Last year, the threatened teacher lay-offs and across the board budget cuts galvanized organized opposition, and sparked the realization among tens of thousands of NYC public school parents that the governor and the mayor’s office do not hold the interests of “students first.” This year new parents are joining a growing and increasingly organized activist group that is opposed to high-stakes standardized testing. The parents and guardians of whom I write, from Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy and Park Slope in Brooklyn, East Tremont and Riverdale in the Bronx, Washington Heights/Inwood and the Lower East Side in Manhattan, and all over Queens, have independently concluded that high-stakes standardized testing is this year’s assault on quality public education. And we have had enough. So, what is it exactly about this year’s tests that have pushed us to the breaking point?

To start, one must recall that these tests come on the heels of the failure of the state to truly deliver on the settlement associated with a 17-year Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) battle on behalf of New York City public school children to receive equitable education funding. On top of this, we have witnessed at least four years of budget cuts that have directly hit our children’s classrooms.  
As an example, my son’s school in Washington Heights has lost nearly a million dollars over four years with little drop in enrollment. Because of this, the school lost the elementary school art and science teachers, a middle-school assistant principal and class sizes in the first and second grades swelled to 28 students. Other schools in our district, District 6, the birthplace of the CFE, have classes with 32 students sitting in them.  
In this context of growing class sizes and dwindling budgets, we’ve seen little evidence that the supports the city Department of Education offers our schools counterbalance the negative effects of the budget cuts. School Support Organizations that may be trying to work with teachers to differentiate instruction are rendered impotent in the context of large classes. Other losses are also illustrative. Again my son’s K to 8 is an excellent example; in the spring of 2010 our school was set to receive the second installment of a GE Fund grant to improve science and math instruction in the middle school.  
Instead we awoke one morning to learn that the grant, intended originally for upper Manhattan schools, had been rescinded by the Fund for Public Schools, and redirected toward training teachers in 80 city-wide schools how to teach to the “new and improved” science tests under development. Thus the parents at our school learned that funds that could have actually helped our children’s teachers teach science and math more effectively were spent instead on standardized test prep training.    
Yet the discontent of many parents was softened in recent years as we watched our schools lauded forstate test score increases; it seemed our children were achieving unprecedented gains in performance. When the state admitted that these gains were fictional, that there had been rampant score inflation, and re-set the proficiency cut-points, we learned how subjective, at best, and political, at worst, these tests scores were. Trust in the state’s ability to administer reliable tests began to crumble, as well as in the policies that had been imposed by DOE in the name of improving education.  

(Rest of the story here: 

Why Corporate Media is Ignoring Public School Closings

Where will those children find an education? Where will the teachers find work? Almost certainly in an explosion of private sector “charter schools,” where the quality of education -- from the curriculum to books to the food served at lunch -- will be sacrificed to the lowest bidder, and teachers’ salaries and benefits will be sacrificed to the profits of the new private owners, who will also eat up many millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies. - Ellen Brown
Ellen Brown developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. InWeb of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. She is president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org, and has websites at http://WebofDebt.com andhttp://EllenBrown.com