Diane Ravitch’s blog:Steve Singer – A Truly Horrible Idea, All Testing, All the Time 

Steve Singer, a teacher in Pennsylvania, writes here about the latest fad among entrepreneurs and politicians: competency-based education. At long last, schools will get rid of the annual high-stakes testing that provoked parents to opt out. In the new world of competency-based education, students will be assessed continuously, every day, as they work on their modules.

Here is how he begins: Steve Singer: A Truly Horrible Idea: All Testing, All the Time | Diane Ravitch’s blog

 From PR Watch: In “Extraordinary” Move, WI Supreme Court Fires Scott Walker Prosecutor to Stave-Off SCOTUS Review 

“What a mess this court has wrought!” Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson declared in the latest chapter in the state’s John Doe legal saga.

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s majority contorted itself to find a new way to protect both Scott Walker and the Court’s biggest supporters–not to mention itself–following its decision in July rewriting the state’s limits on money in politics and ending the “John Doe” investigation into Walker’s campaign coordinating with dark money groups.

Wednesday’s ruling was supposed to be a straightforward decision on a motion to reconsider, in light of additional evidence that Walker and his allies had violated the campaign finance laws that the Court upheld in July.

The Court denied that motion, but then (in a lengthy unsigned opinion) went further, rewriting its July decision to fire the Republican Special Prosecutor who had led the investigation, Francis Schmitz, making it harder for him to challenge the justices’ conflicts-of-interest by appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those conflicts arise from the fact that the same groups that coordinated with Walker’s campaign were among the majority’s biggest financial supporters, raising concerns under U.S. Supreme Court precedent about whether the justices should have heard the case at all.

“The miscalculation I made in this investigation was underestimating the power and influence special interest groups have in Wisconsin politics,” said Schmitz, a retired U.S. Army colonel and former counter-terrorism prosecutor.

The bipartisan John Doe probe has become a rallying cry for national organizations looking to overturn limits on money in politics, and for years has been subject to a legal and media assault, funded in part by the same groups that bankrolled the election of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority.

“My career in the military and as a federal prosecutor fighting violent criminals and terrorists did not fully prepare me for the tactics employed by these special interest groups,” Schmitz said in a statement.

Source: In “Extraordinary” Move, WI Supreme Court Fires Scott Walker Prosecutor to Stave-Off SCOTUS Review | PR Watch


ESSA Will Not Solve Anything

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the good parts or hate the bad parts. I’m not delighted to see social impact bonds tossed into the mix, nor am I pleased to see the doors opened here and there for performance based education.

I take a bit of pleasure in seeing the ways in which the bill makes extra effort to spank the secretary of education (who has been weirdly trying to save face by repeatedly saying, “Oh yeah, this is what we wanted all along”), and I’m quite happy with the various piecesparts that defang the Big Standardized Test.

It is a mixed bag, a shift of inches in mostly the right direction kind of.

I think Jeff Bryant said it best with, “Go Ahead, Pass Every Student Succeeds Act, But Don’t Celebrate It.”

Because here’s the problem.

The ESSA won’t actually solve a thing.

For the rest of this post – go here: CURMUDGUCATION

CURMUDGUCATION: MA: Boston’s Lying Problem


MA: Boston’s Lying Problem

Posted: 04 Dec 2015 11:27 AM PST

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is sad. He seems to be sad specificallybecause he is “taking heat”

But I think Walsh may be sad because of all the lying that’s going on in Boston.

About a month ago in Esquire, Charles Pierce said that Marty Walsh was going “full Scott Walker”

by first defeating an opponent of being a education reform “grifter” who was trying to destroy pubic ed. And then, Pierce said, Mayor Walsh dumped Candidate Walsh and worked out a plan to close down 36 of Boston’s roughly 120 school buildings, taking the BPS total to 90– all part of a cozy partnership with charteristas in MA.

Not so, said the mayor’s office. The Esquire article was untrue and unsourced

— in other words, Pierce was a lying liar who just made this stuff up.

But Pierce’s article linked right back to the blog of Mary Lewis Pierce

(no relation) who had filed the FOIA and posted the documents that showed the driving partnerships behind the mayor’s plan.

So somebody is surely lying. Maybe the blogger Pierce is lying about having the documents. Maybe she made them up. Maybe she never filed a FOIA request, or maybe when she did, somebody who sent her the documentation sent her fake documents. Or maybe Marty Walsh was lying about the allegations being untrue and unsourced.

And Walsh was also sad about that number 90. True, he intended to “consolidate” some schools

, but “closing” is such an ugly word. And he certainly wasn’t going to do whatever it is to 36 schools.

And that was perhaps true, because at the December 15 meeting of the (unelected) School Committee,

only 20 Boston public schools will be merged, closed or taken over by charters.

More here: CURMUDGUCATION: MA: Boston’s Lying Problem

OpenSecrets.org Newsletter: Lawmakers need little educating on student loans, and more …

Wellspring gives big boost to Judicial Crisis Network with $6.6 million grant

A secretive nonprofit that has given millions of dollars to conservative 501(c)(4) groups over the years sank more than $6.6 million into the Judicial Crisis Network in 2014, giving a significant boost to a group that has become increasingly involved in not only state judicial but also attorneys general races.

The donor, the Wellspring Committee, gave out nearly $8.3 million in grants last year, according to a new filing with the IRS, more than triple what it donated the year before. The sum was more than Wellspring has given away in any year except 2010, when it sent $8.4 million to like-minded organizations. That year, though, JCN and an offshoot group received just $400,000 from Wellspring, a sliver of what it got last year.

The bond between the two groups is strong — familial, even. Wellspring was founded and is still headed by Ann Corkery, a lawyer who for years has been involved in conservative fundraising and also helped launch JCN. Her husband, Neil, is JCN’s treasurer. Their daughter, Kathleen, is on Wellspring’s board, and the secretary-treasurer of the group, Michael Casey, is the son of one of JCN’s board members.

Click here to read the full article

Continue reading OpenSecrets.org Newsletter: Lawmakers need little educating on student loans, and more …

Victory in Court: Consequences Attached to VAMs Suspended Throughout New Mexico | VAMboozled!

Victory in Court: Consequences Attached to VAMs Suspended Throughout New Mexico

Posted: 03 Dec 2015 12:04 PM PST

Great news for New Mexico and New Mexico’s approximately 23,000 teachers, and great news for states and teachers potentially elsewhere, in terms of setting precedent!

Late yesterday, state District Judge David K. Thomson, who presided over the ongoing teacher-evaluation lawsuit in New Mexico, granted a preliminary injunction preventing consequences from being attached to the state’s teacher evaluation data. More specifically, Judge Thomson ruled that the state can proceed with “developing” and “improving” its teacher evaluation system, but the state is not to make any consequential decisions about New Mexico’s teachers using the data the state collects until the state (and/or others external to the state) can evidence to the court during another trial (set for now, for April) that the system is reliable, valid, fair, uniform, and the like.

As you all likely recall, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), joined by the Albuquerque Teachers Federation (ATF), last year, filed a “Lawsuit in New Mexico Challenging [the] State’s Teacher Evaluation System

.” Plaintiffs charged that the state’s teacher evaluation system, imposed on the state in 2012 by the state’s current Public Education Department (PED) Secretary Hanna Skandera (with value-added counting for 50% of teachers’ evaluation scores), is unfair, error-ridden, spurious, harming teachers, and depriving students of high-quality educators, among other claims (see the actual lawsuit here



Source: Victory in Court: Consequences Attached to VAMs Suspended Throughout New Mexico | VAMboozled!

How a Conservative-Led Australia Ended Mass Killings – The New York Times

Australia has had no killings of five or more since a 1996 rampage spurred a tightening of laws. Other forms of gun violence have fallen as well.

Mick Roelandts of the New South Wales Police in 1997, examining weapons that were handed over through a government buyback program. CreditDavid Gray/Reuters


Total intentional gun deaths fell by half in the decade after the 1996 restrictions were put in place, even as Australia’s population grew nearly 14 percent. The rate of gun suicides per 100,000 people dropped 65 percent from 1995 to 2006, and the rate of gun homicides fell 59 percent, according to a 2010 study by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University.

When the data in that study is updated to include the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as well as the numbers going back to 1968, several facts emerge.

Following the link to this source for more: How a Conservative-Led Australia Ended Mass Killings – The New York Times