Friday, December 22, 2017
Monday, December 18, 2017
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Gatekeepers: Philadelphia Education Fund Adopts New Paid Access Policy
December 16, 2017
Farah Jimenez is a member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission and current director of the Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF), a nonprofit that hosts monthly conversations on topics related to public education in Philadelphia. These days, if you want to attend one of their Education First Compact meetings, you’re going to have to jump through a lot of hoops. That wasn’t previously the case. Advance registration for meetings is now required, a policy put in place after Ms. Jimenez was hired in April 2016. When registering via the website, attendees are strongly encouraged to financially support the organization as either a series subscriber or by purchasing individual tickets. Corporate and foundation subscribers pay $750, while individuals pay $100; though there is the option to donate more.
Betsy DeVos Is Undermining Students' Rights Under the Guise of Deregulation
Friday, December 15, 2017
Money for what Mr. Kuhn? A Big Data, Future Ready Superintendent promotes funding equity at NPE.
December 14, 2017
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Sticks a Giant Fork in Steve Bannon @alternet
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Elmo isn't Gramsci for kids and the mythical soft bigotry of low expectations
This short essay was originally published on The Daily Censored on August 11, 2011. It would seem that all of the old works on that site are gone. That's unfortunate because I published a lot of work there. I had a teaser here linking to it, a practice I stopped doing precisely because I've learned from harsh experience that websites die and all the content is lost (like my At The Chalkface works). I was able to track down a reprint on Susan Ohanian's site, but her site is having issues as well. Ultimately, I was able to retrieve a copy of the reprint from the Wayback Machine.
I want to reproduce this last sentence from Ohanian's introduction, since she had such insight into why the essay was important:
“The hardline right wing may well love the vacuous phrase “soft bigotry of low expectations,” but let’s remember that education deform democrats love it just as much. It is mostly used to put progressive activists on the defensive.” — Susan Ohanian
Elmo isn't Gramsci for kids and the mythical soft bigotry of low expectations
“We address the soft bigotry of low expectations so that we may ignore the hard racism of inequity.” — John Kuhn
Although this footage isn't new and commentators have already discussed it, it deserves reexamination since it illuminates one of the core false tenets of the corporate education reform canon.
Amidst the bizarre assertion that Sesame Street is indoctrinating children in some sort of insidious left wing plot, reactionary Ben Shapiro says that:
"I talked to one of the guys who's at Children's Television Workshop originally and he said the whole purpose of Sesame Street was cater to black and hispanic youths who, quote unquote, did not have reading literature in the house, there kind of this soft bigotry of low expectations that's automatically associated with Sesame Street."
Ahhh — the chimerical "soft bigotry of low expectations." As opposed to the hard bigotry of the pervasive institutional racism underpinning our economic system, which facilitates the division of workers and submerses a majority in abject poverty in order to make a small minority obscenely rich. The very same minority, by the way, that supports privatizing public education via charters and vouchers.
The dubious phrase is beloved by the hardline right. The Birchers at the Heartland Institute  use the phrase with reckless abandon. Cato, Manhattan, Hoover, and all the other reactionary right wing think tanks repeat the phrase "soft bigotry of low expectations" as if it's the mantra necessary to permanently bring back the gilded age they all pine for.
Of course the nonsensical phrase isn't limited to fringe right-wing kooks that also think John Galt and Howard Rourke are historical figures. Many supposed-liberals, or at the very least Democratic Leadership Council party operatives, use the phrase as often, if not more often than their teabagging counterparts.
The vile billionaire hedge fund shyster Whitney Tilson uses the phrase incessantly. Remember too that the ever obtuse Tilson helped form two of the most virulent corporate reform and privatization pushing organizations in existence: Teach for America (TFA) and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). The latter, DFER, uses the phrase in its privatization propaganda. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has used the phrase. TFA's Wendy Kopp has had a lucrative career peddling the phrase. The snarling queen of Erasuregate, Michelle Rhee, cherishes such phrases. Los Angeles' poverty pimping opportunist Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proudly plasters the phrase on twitter.
The unprincipled construction "soft bigotry of low expectations" is typically credited to the Council on Foreign Relations's arch-reactionary Michael Gerson, who was the speechwriter for fraudulent Rod Paige's Texas Education Miracle co-fraud, George W. Bush.
Like all the philosophically threadbare propaganda from the right, the expression is vapid and vacuous, without any real meaning whatsoever, putting it right along with "no excuses," and "working hard and being nice." Professor Noam Chomsky best addresses these types of phrases:
"It doesn't mean anything... That's the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. Its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something: Do you support our policy?" 
The policy in question is to ignore poverty and demand a false accountability from all of poverty's victims. While there are countless works discussing this, a recent pair of essays by my Schools Matter colleague Professor P. L. Thomas, EdD, really get to the heart of this issue: Poverty and Testing in Education: "The Present Scientifico-legal Complex" part 1 and part 2.
Humane Expectations Devoid of any Bigotry
In my many years I've never come across an educator that had anything but "realistic expectations tempered with compassion and empathy" for their students, regardless of where they taught. Moreover, for right wing reactionaries to accuse hard working women and men that have dedicated their lives to educating inner city students of bigotry of any sort smacks of hypocrisy of the highest order. It's laughable on its face.
Of course compassion and empathy are foreign words to the rogues gallery discuss above, none of whom have ever taught in their lives. Well, with the exceptions of Wendy Kopp and Michelle Malkin — I mean, Michele Bachmann, er, — I mean Michelle Rhee (sorry it's so easy to confuse those three). Rhee is so devoid of empathy and compassion that one of the most enduring stories from her short stint as a TFA missionary is when she taped her students mouths shut with masking tape and then walked them to the lunchroom, bleeding lips and all. Kopp is seemingly less of a sociopath than Rhee, but it's clear her passion for fame and fortune outweigh any compassion she might have once had.
Access To Books
The other thing reactionary Shapiro gets entirely wrong before employing the hackneyed "soft bigotry of low expectations" nonsense, was to dismiss the Children's Television Workshop's catering to children that "did not have reading literature in the house." Access to books in the home is a major indicator of academic achievement and impoverished families have very limited access to books. This is a fact, and not something to be dismissed by a sniveling right winger threatening to "take them [Elmo and Big Bird] out back and cap them."
Another one of my Schools Matter colleagues, the distinguished Professor Stephen Krashen, PhD, has researched and written extensively on the subject of access to books. Here are a small sampling of his available short articles linking to longer works on the subject.
- Children of poverty and access to books
- IRA President: Access to books makes a difference
- Heroic First Book Marketplace Can't Do It All Get caught reading month?
- Policy: protect children from poverty before we discuss pedagogy
Given the staunch anti-intellectualism, lack of knowledge about all thing pedagogical, and academic aversion that whiny right wingers like Shapiro are known for, it's no wonder that he didn't get the whole importance of providing additional educational resources for children that "did not have reading literature in the house" like the prescient folks at Children's Television Workshop always have.
"True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity." 
Now that we're discussing these things, let's talk about the stark racism and classism stemming from the corporate education reform movement, which is orchestrated by the same plutocrats that aired Shapiro's television program. After all, those are the sort of things that vacuous phrases like "soft bigotry of low expectations" are supposed to distract us from.
 Heartland Institute is none other than Parent Revolution's sister organization. Word is that in addition to co-hosting school privatization forums that Ben Austin and Ben Boychuck formulate policy together.
 Chomsky, Noam. Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, Second Edition. New York: Seven Stories Press., 1991. pp. 25-26.
 Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th Anniversary Edition. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2009. p. 45.
Monday, December 11, 2017
Thursday, December 07, 2017
One Year Ago at Schools Matter: DeVos Will Make Democrats' Charter Plan Easier to ...
Wednesday, December 06, 2017
Jay Mathews' Sisyphean Defense of KIPP
For Jay's skinny-ties-and-white-socks generation of old privileged white guys, the allure of the KIPP Model has always been KIPP's false promise to dissolve the education problem of the disadvantaged without the need to implement expensive, unpopular (among whites) social and economic interventions that acknowledge poverty as a systemic cause for education deficits. Following a long tradition of racist social policy, the KIPP Model treats the multitudinous manifestations of poverty as resulting from cultural and character deficiencies among the poor, which must be stringently treated with abrasive behavioral solvents that break down the nasty residues left by poverty. In other words, cleanse the children's character/culture, rather than doing something about ending child poverty.
The KIPP Model's miseducative and racist whitewash is implemented by white-girl schoolteachers who are marginally prepared and tyrannically managed by white male overseers. Whether employed by Success Academy or KIPP or Uncommon Schools one of the other KIPP knock-offs, the KIPP Model claims to wash away the cultural grime of the poor, thus leaving behind middle class versions of black and brown children whose character has been fortified by pipe dreams of Ivy League colleges that, unbeknownst to them, remain the inherited intellectual preserves of the elite.
When a new book appears that is critical of the KIPP Model's callous disregard for democratic values, humane treatment of children, and responsible public accountability for the billions of public dollars sent each year to the KIPP Model corporate hell schools, Jay is quick to spin, defend, and, otherwise, try to upend any such criticism, whether empirically based or logically argued. He tried as much when my book came out last year (my responses here and here), and this week he has once again sprung to KIPP's defense following the publication this fall of another book that criticizes KIPP's dehumanizing and racist practices.
Try as he may, however, Jay has no way to refute the glaring fact that the KIPP Model embraces apartheid schooling for black and brown disadvantaged children. In responding to the observation that KIPP is "segregated by design," Mathews whines this week that KIPPs are "mostly located in low income neighborhoods where children need better instruction."
Indeed. Schools using the KIPP Model are intent upon making the case that segregation and poverty don't matter, and that test scores can be wrung out of the poorest and most isolated communities, thus proving that working harder and being nicer are all that is required to upend generations of institutional racism. KIPP, in fact, goes looking for these poorest communities when deciding upon new KIPP locations. For in poor communities of color, KIPP encounters the least resistance to inhumane practices that middle class parents would never allow, and in the poorest communities KIPP managers encounter minimal amounts of oversight and accountability. There they have free rein to impose their draconian and corrupt experiments.
It is in these poor communities that KIPP is free to exercise its extreme paternalism and zero tolerance programs that require total compliance among children and parents, where the goals of intellectual and ethical development are displaced by a rigid and isolating corporate character training that places blame for society's most egregious moral failures of the past or future at the feet of the most vulnerable children who are expected to blame themselves should they fail to live up to KIPP's expectations.
At some point, we may assume that Jay will stop pretending that his feigned stupidity will protect him from the culpability that he shares in KIPPs' crimes against children. Or maybe not.
Tuesday, December 05, 2017
This fundamentalist Christian group is being allowed into public schools to convert other people’s children
Education News That the Ravitch Camp Ignores
The Ravitch machine maintains a daily steady stream of articles critical of charters schools, standardized testing, and corporate education reforms. If you could discern Ravitch's actual policy positions from the articles she posts, you would think that she is resistant to corporate education reform, rather than functioning as corporate education's chief enabler and corporate union propagandist.
Diane's true colors, however, are easier to discern by the education news that she would rather we not see in the big stories that she does not report.
On December 2, Alternet published an important article by New York parent, Jake Jacobs, that lays bare Hillary Clinton's complicity in advancing the corporate education agenda during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Ravitch's own support for Clinton is well-documented, and the Alternet article is the kind of news that Diane would rather keep in the dark, for it reminds us once more of the complicity by NPE, AFT, NEA, FairTest, and the other corporate union satellites whose tight orbits around big corporate donors are well-defined and entirely predictable. Here is a clip:
“Donors want to hear where she stands” John Petry, a founder of both Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and Success Academy, New York’s largest network of charter schools, told the New York Times. Petry was explicit, declaring that he and his billionaire associates would instead put money into congressional, state and local races, behind candidates who favored a “more businesslike approach” to education, and tying teacher tenure to standardized test scores.
Monday, December 04, 2017
Thursday, November 30, 2017
KIPP Marketing: Apartheid Schools Help Empowerment
Many schools aspire for racial diversity. But that’s not quite the aim of the newest charter school in North Nashville. KIPP Nashville College Prep Elementary says it is embracing what is a reality . . . that students are primarily African-American, and instead of swimming against the current, it’s trying to turn cultural isolation into a positive.As this KIPP is using the same dehumanizing "no excuses" regimen that have earned KIPP the moniker, Kids in Prison Program, along with the festooning of Ivy League college banners, the NPR reporter seems to think there is something different going on, even though he's uncertain just what it is:
The differences are subtle. But they're everywhere.It is horrible to see this kind anticipatory set up for self blaming in KIPP middle schools, but to see this kind of positive psychology brainwashing used with disadvantaged kindergarten children is truly criminal. One has to wonder if these children get to sit on their "thrones" when they are isolated and humiliated "on the porch" for breaking rules, with their "MISCREANT" signs around their necks.
It's the college banners that hang in every classroom — they're all promoting historically black institutions. The murals on the walls show smiling black children, reading books while sitting on thrones. Kindergartners learn the new school song, set to a hip-hop track.
"All of the power is in my hands. I now can conquer the world," they sing.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
The Growing Influence of Jounce Partners
by Lisa Haver and Lynda Rubin
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools
November 24, 2017
1. After giving feedback and monitoring to the point of automaticity, have teacher(s) turn toward a wall in the room to practice the skill 10-20 more times (primarily used for multi-teacher PD sessions).
2. Frame as optimal practice because greatest number of reps can be achieved this way.
3. Emphasize the importance of every rep being executed perfectly and with exaggeration of nuances.
Monday, November 27, 2017
Weingarten: AFT "very much aligned" with TURN
Albert Shanker, who served as AFT president until his death in February 1997, had once been a champion of charter schools as centers of innovation, but by the early 1990s, Shanker came to understand that charter schools were quickly morphing into tools to corporatize and privatize public education. Although Shanker had hoped that charters would provide diverse progressive experiments that could help to integrate public schools, Shanker recoiled at the segregated, exploitative charters that embodied the preferred paternalistic model of corporate philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad.
Shanker's death offered an opportunity that Eli Broad would not miss to shape the future of AFT in Broad's image.
Broad was quick to provide several million reasons for AFT's new president, Sandra Feldman, to restore AFT's positive vision of charter schools and to embrace the agenda of corporate ed reformers. The implantation of the corporate cancer, The Union Reform Network (TURN), was the result of Broad's efforts, which then and now was led by AFT corporate mouthpiece, Adam Urbanski.
Like a disease eating away the union body that Shanker had built up during the previous two decades, TURN sought to make AFT and NEA into assets for advancing the corporate reform agenda. AFT President, Sandra Feldman did not disappoint the corporate reformers, as she embraced charter schools, as well as a steroidal levels of testing accountability that came with NCLB in 2001. She helped design NCLB, which was used to soften public resistance to the spread of more charters to replace the "failing" public schools.
Feldman was also an advocate for NCLB's utterly corrupt Reading First, which spent billions of federal dollars to promote programs that proved to be total failures in terms of improving children's reading skills and interests.
Feldman's successor, Charles McElroy, continued Feldman's policies during a transitional period from 2004 to 2008, and he helped to prepare the ground for the coming of Randi Weingarten, corporate reformers' choice to lead AFT for another generation of lucrative charterizing. The year before Weingarten was installed as AFT president, McElroy bizarrely testified that charters had helped AFT "accomplish the things we have been fighting for."
Since 1997, TURN has metastisized in 34 AFT and NEA affiliates, and the national TURN office lists Michael Mulgrew and Adam Urbanski among its leaders.
Before becoming Randi Weingarten's choice for AFT's Executive VP, Mary Ann Ricker served as president of St. Paul's AFT affiliate, which has been a hotbed of TURN activity since 2005, when Ricker became President of the local. For instance, Ricker was instrumental in establishing the Minnesota Guild of Public Charter Schools, a charter school authorizer created by the ST. Paul AFT local and funded in part by the national union, AFT. The Minnesota Guild has been responsible providing financial support for some of the lowest-rated charter schools in St. Paul. Read this piece to get the big picture on AFT complicity in Minnesota's charter industry.
So now it comes as no surprise that Randi Weingarten has come out with a full-throated endorsement of the TURN agenda, which would make the AFT and NEA more effective weapons of corporate education reform's war on public education:
Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, told In These Times she can recall when her former union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City, became a founding TURN member. At the time, she says, UFT was seen as a “risk-taking” local for joining this reform-minded coalition. Today, however, Weingarten says TURN is seen not as unusual—but as the standard operating procedure for teachers’ unions. She added that AFT’s values are “very much aligned” with TURN’s. Weingarten, and the union is proud to join with TURN to turn their ideas into reality.
The NEA did not return multiple requests for comment.Weingarten's announcement follows Diane Ravitch's recent endorsement of the TURN agenda. With such high-powered endorsements of the corporate ed agenda, we may expect to see, perhaps, the eventual awakening of the parents and teachers who have been lulled into supporting the enemies of the values that public education advocates hold dear.
Gambling With Our Futures: Big Data, Global Finance and Digital Life: Article and Resources
Sunday, November 26, 2017
Monday, November 20, 2017
KIPP Franchise Fees Worth $6,000,000 Annually to Execs
I know that $6,000,000 doesn't sound like a lot of money when we consider that KIPP schools collect over 600,000,000 public dollars each year to support KIPP's segregated and dehumanizing enterprises, but $6 million is almost enough to make payroll for the execs at the KIPP Foundation home office (and don't feel sorry for Mike Feinberg--he gets paid hundreds thousands more from KIPP Houston each year).
Of course, $6 million would also pay salaries for librarians for all KIPP's 90,000 students, none of whom now have real libraries.
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Indiana’s Sneaky SAT Agenda and the College Board
Huston went to work for the College Board in October 2012 , and Lewis Ferebee, the Indianapolis Public Schools supt., has been a member of the College Board’s board of trustees since November 2015.
In 2017, the College Board’s board of trustees was highly criticized by nonprofit governance experts for not doing anything to rein in “the College Board, which had about $77 million in annual profit and $916 million in revenue in 2015” and a whole slew of problems in 2016. As Reuters notes in 2016, there were “cheating rings in Asia that exploit security weaknesses in the SAT and enable some students to gain unfair advantages on the exam.” In 2016, a “massive security breach” exposed around 400 questions “for upcoming SATs,” and College Board members knew that a redesigned test “was overloaded with wordy math questions, a problem that handicaps non-native English speakers and reinforces race and income disparities that Coleman has vowed to diminish.” Lloyd Thacker, from the Education Conservancy, asked “What is the mechanism that holds them accountable? I’m scratching my head. There doesn’t seem to be a countervailing voice here at all.” Reuters found that many trustees were sent an email in 2015 telling them not to do interviews with the news outlet concerning the SAT.
In July 2017, San Diego's school board took legal action against the College Board “after the Advanced Placement tests of more than 500 of the city's high school students were declared invalid because their seats were too close together.” The College Board didn’t notify Scripps Ranch High, where the test was given, about its new seating arrangement protocol, according to the school, “until two days before the testing.”
The College Board has a history of questionable practices. In 2008, it settled with New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo’s office after an investigation found that the College Board was running a kickback scheme where “the College Board, which developed and marketed numerous products and services related to student financial assistance, gave significant discounts on those products and services to certain colleges which agreed to place the College Board's loans on their 'preferred lender' list. This effectively directed students towards loans that might not be the best or least expensive option for them." The College Board “is no longer a lender,” for other unrelated reasons, “although it continues to provide financial aid advisement services to students,” ABC News wrote at the time.
The College Board, too, came under fire for not giving better oversight when a cheating scandal in New York in 2011 led lawmakers to ask questions, and in June 2015, a printing error which gave some SAT takers extra time to finish sections of the test involved 487,000 students.
The College Board (and the makers of ACT) sell your children’s data freely. As the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy’s Rachael Stickland and Leonie Haimson write, students, while taking the SAT, may be asked to hand over personal information (which may include social security number, “grade point average, religious affiliation, ethnicity, family income, interests, citizenship, disabilities and more”) on an opt-in questionnaire and click a box which says they agree to be a part of the College Board’s Student Search Service. The College Board and ACT then sell some of the information to colleges and universities, which can use the data against students applying for admission.
According to recent information on the College Board website, the social security numbers, disability information, grades, scores, and parental income are off limits, but POLITICO in 2014 wrote that these marketed "profiles can include information about the students’ grades and academic coursework — and also religion, ethnicity, citizenship status and expected need for financial aid in college. The ACT also lets customers filter student profiles by family income, parents’ education levels and student disabilities."
POLITICO also stated that a woman from Illinois sued both the College Board and ACT for selling her personal information, but the case was dropped when it was discovered that the woman "had never even taken a College Board exam".
In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago rejected another lawsuit against the College Board and ACT (which a federal judge had thrown out earlier) which sought damages for the selling of personal information which may have included "name, address, sex, birthdate, school, grade level, ethnic group, email address, and intended college major." EdWeek summed up the verdict by writing that “The court said the plaintiffs could not show that the test organizations' profiting from their information deprived them of any economic value of that information.”
Although the College Board would not disclose how much it makes from such information, Stickland and Haimson, using POLITICO figures, estimate that “ACT’s profits generated from selling student profiles were approximately $15 million in 2012.” The College Board, according to information on its website, now sells student personal information at 43 cents per name.
A lot of Indiana taxpayer money will be wasted on SAT fees, if this issue goes through. According to Eric Weddle, the “state education department has estimated a $5 million cost for every high school student to take the SAT or ACT.” Although the actual cost of the changes being proposed is unknown, “the panel avoided answering concerns from local districts about the fiscal impact.” Bob Behning “suggested state agencies would put together budget requests for the General Assembly if additional funds are required.”