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

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Latest Grades on School Funding

Tennessee has been at or near the forefront of education reformers' thirty-year crusade to come up with a cheap and easily-measured scheme to gauge education productivity.  In 1992, Tennessee formalized its chosen "accountability" strategy by writing into state statute Bill Sanders' value-added algorithms, which the wizened tobacco-chewing agricultural statistician had sold to the State as a "good and cheap" way to convince taxpayers that schools, teachers, and students were being held accountable for the millions of pennies that state politicians were demanding for K-12 education.  

The incredible story of value-added modeling (VAM), first researched by Dr. Denise Wilburn, was a core part of The Mismeasure of Education, our historical survey of American educational malpractice in the 20th Century. 

In being focused solely on educational improvements that required the State to do nothing whatsoever about the vast structural inequity and inequalities that influence educational opportunity or lack thereof, Tennessee became the darling of the U.S. Dept. of Education when it came time to try out the latest miseducative reform thought disorder for bribing and extorting better school performance as measured by racist and classist standardized tests.  

As a result, Tennessee has come to depend upon a continuing stream of federal grants to keep the state's school doors open.  It is this diseased kind of symbiosis that led Sen. Marsha Blackburn to step forward and offer a new home for the U. S. Department of Education in Tennessee, if Republicans can finagle a way to dismantle federal departments and move them out of DC.

For the past few years, the Education Law Center in Newark, NJ has published research on state levels of education funding fairness.  Having done next to nothing over the past 30 years to establish state accountability for school finance, Tennessee, which has a student poverty rate of 19 percent, remains near the bottom in school funding.  

Below are two snapshots that illustrate the vast differences among states.  I highly recommend reading MAKING THE GRADE 2019: HOW FAIR IS SCHOOL FUNDING IN YOUR STATE?

See p. 4 for everything between "A" and "F."

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Feinstein and Other "Democrats" Supporting DC Vouchers

Got this email from Pete Farruggio:

Just got this letter from California senator Dianne Feinstein (below) defending her support for vouchers, and revealing that she intends to interfere with the school system in Washington DC by co-sponsoring a voucher bill with a Republican. With her billionaire husband, she represents to me the state of the Democratic Party as the biggest obstacle to real change in the US political/economic system, as long as so many misinformed Americans support it.

Here's a local DC story about charter schools:

A charter school chain is trying to open a middle school Washington, D.C.'s Ward 8 and has enraged nearby residents in the process. 

Dear Dr. Farruggio:

Thank you for writing to me to express your concerns about vouchers.  I  appreciate hearing from you, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

I understand that you do not support the reauthorization of the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (Public Law 112-10), which provides funding to the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP).  DC OSP provides scholarships for students to attend private schools and provides funding for D.C. Charter Schools and D.C. Public Schools that serve students from K-12th grade.

Like you, I believe that all students deserve access to high-quality education.  However, I believe that a one-size fits all approach to our children’s education does not always work and that different school models may work better for different students.  Parents should have an informed and meaningful choice in their children’s education.  

On January 24, 2019, I, along with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced the “SOAR Reauthorization Act of 2019” (S. 213), which would allow families in the District of Columbia to continue to be able to choose their educational experience through the DC OSP program.  S. 213 would reauthorize funding for DC public schools, public charter schools, and DCOSP schools through Fiscal Year 2024.  The bill would also require an assessment of student growth and progress each year a child participates in the program.  S. 213 is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, of which I am not a member.

It is worth noting that I do not believe that our educational system should promote school choice at the expense of federal funding for students who attend public K-12 public schools.  You may be interested to know that when considering education reform through the Every Student Succeeds Act (Public Law 114-95), I voted against amendments that would have allowed federal funding to be used at private schools.

While we may have to agree to disagree on this issue, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind as the Senate considers S. 213.  I will continue to fight to ensure that students have all the resources they need to succeed in school and beyond.

Once again, thank you for writing.  Should you have any other questions or comments, please call my Washington, D.C., office at (202) 224-3841 or visit my website at feinstein.senate.gov.  You can also follow me online at YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter, and you can sign up for my email newsletter at feinstein.senate.gov/newsletter.

Best regards.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

College Board Is Selling Student Data to Selective Colleges

As a reward for his devotion to corporate power during the creation of Common Core, David Coleman was handed the plum job as CEO for the College Board, where his work to shape college applicants in the image desired by Bill Gates could continue, unimpeded.  

Now Coleman's greed has joined forces with the greed of America's richest universities and colleges to misuse student SAT data to enrich all participating parties. For just 47 cents each (payable to the College Board), colleges and universities can buy SAT records of Ivy League aspirants and invite them to apply, whether or not the students ever had a chance in hell to get in.

More applicants to say no to makes selective colleges look even more selective, thus raising the prominence of their brand, and it gives the College Board a half-buck per head, plus all the extra dough that rolls in from kids retaking the SAT when they find out that, oh, Columbia is interested in me??  

Diabolical? You bet. The Wall Street Journal has the story:
Jori Johnson took the practice SAT test as a high-school student outside Chicago. Brochures later arrived from Vanderbilt, Stanford, Northwestern and the University of Chicago.
The universities’ solicitations piqued her interest, and she eventually applied. A few months later, she was rejected by those and three other schools that had sought her application, she said. The high-school valedictorian’s test scores, while strong by most standards, were well below those of most students admitted to the several schools that had contacted her.
“A lot of the rejections came on the same day,” said Ms. Johnson, a 21-year-old senior film major at New York University, one of three schools that accepted her out of 10 applications. “I just stared at my computer and cried.”
The recruitment pitches didn’t help Ms. Johnson, but they did benefit the universities that sent them. Colleges rise in national rankings and reputation when they show data suggesting they are more selective. They can do that by rejecting more applicants, whether or not those candidates ever stood a chance. Some applicants, in effect, become unknowing pawns.
Feeding this dynamic is the College Board, the New York nonprofit that owns the SAT, a test designed to level the college-admissions playing field.
The board is using the SAT as the foundation for another business: selling test-takers’ names and personal information to universities. . . .