The slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

Monday, August 21, 2017

AZ: Choice’s Lie

Arizona has always been on the forefront of school privatization. Right now, things are heating up as they follow the path of promoting vouchers through any means necessary. In their case this has involved starting small with who-could-object students (special needs, native Americans) used to pilot a program that legislators now want to expand. At the moment, voucher opponents may have won a chance to stop vouchers via ballot initiative, but it won’t be easy. Arizona is an ALEC-friendly state, and the Goldwater Institute has stage-managed the growth of charters and the rise of vouchers from right within the state.

Arizona is worth paying attention to because it has served as a little policy laboratory for conservative politicians and corporate interests. Harper’s Magazine just ran a profile of the state’s assault on public education, and you can recognize some of the techniques in play. Here’s Sydney Hay, from Betsy DeVos’s American Federation for Children:

When Hay started working on school choice reform, “It was a free-market argument, which of course pits Republicans versus Democrats,” she told me. She and her cohort have since found success by approaching vouchers as a social justice concern, she said. “In the beginning, it was, ‘Oh no, these are going to be the death of public school education.’ That opposition is pretty much over.

Sound familiar? Arizona has been a booming state for charters and wants to blossom its charter crop as well. And pay extra attention, because they did it without one of the favorite reformster talking points.

Arizona has public school open enrollment.

That means that no child in Arizona is “trapped” in failing schools just because of her zip code. And yet they have still sold choice as a rescue operation. True, schools are allowed to cap their open enrollment at capacity, but still, in the midst of everything else out there, it’s an impressive feat to sell charters as an escape to folks who aren’t even trapped in the first place.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: AZ: Choice’s Lie

Is Fighting Fascism really an American Tradition?

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

There have been a great deal of memes floating around on social media in the past week, many of them in response to the White Supremacist violence that took place in Charlottesville.

Many of these memes address white supremacy and fascism. However, as is the case with most memes, they tend to oversimplify reality and sometimes distort reality.

Take the meme here on the right. It says, Anti-Fascists disrupting a large gathering of white supremacists. The image clearly is from WWII, with the US military deploying troops, getting ready to do battle with Nazis. Now, it is possible that many US soldiers who were drafted into WWII, believed that they were fighting fascism, but that does not necessarily mean that the military and political leadership in the US was deeply committed to fighting fascists and disrupting white supremacy.

It is important for us to critically look at this history and…

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Trump Administration Disbands Advisory Panel on Climate Change

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Trump administration disbanded a federal advisory panel on climate change.

One way to deal with climate change is to pretend it isn’t happening, and to refuse to listen to any scientists.

The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning.

The charter for the 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment — which includes academics as well as local officials and corporate representatives — expires Sunday. On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting administrator, Ben Friedman, informed the committee’s chair that the agency would not renew the panel.

This is in keeping with the administration’s hostility to science. Remember this when you hear Secretary DeVos urging students to study STEM courses. She doesn’t mean it. She wants them to study religion…

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The ACLU figures out that carrying a gun isn’t a Constitutional ‘right.’

So the ACLU has drawn a line in the sand and decided in the wake of Charlottesville that ‘Constitutional carry’ will no longer be a behavior for which they will provide a legal defense. Their Executive Director, Anthony Romero, told the Wall Street Journal that if a group wants to march around carrying guns that are visible to the public ‘they can find someone else.’

shield             Talk about a collision of Constitutional principles – freedom of speech on the one hand, freedom to walk around with a gun on the other. And while the NRA has been keeping its organizational mouth buttoned up tight since the Charlottesville attack, sooner or later they’ll come out with a statement about how average, law-abiding and gun-loving Americans have the right to defend themselves with their guns when faced with the threat of violence from all those left-wing thugs.

Despite mutterings to the contrary…

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Illinois Senate Overrides Rauner’s School Funding Veto; Will House Save New Equity Plan?


This blog will take a 3 week, end-of-summer break.  Look for a new post on Thursday, September 7.

School finance in somebody else’s state seems like the ultimately irrelevant, boring, and “in-the-weeds” kind of topic. Except that what is happening in Illinois ought to interest us all because it is a microcosm of today’s ideologically driven, rancorous and dangerously divisive state politics.

In Illinois, discord between the General Assembly—both houses dominated by Democrats—and the far-right Republican Governor, Bruce Rauner, has left a statewide school funding crisis looming over the beginning of the school year. In July, the legislature overrode Rauner’s veto of the state budget, but then on August 1, Rauner vetoed part of the school funding distribution formula on which the budget was based. Gov. Rauner has the power in Illinois to veto or amend parts of a piece of legislation, and he used his “amendatory veto” on the school…

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Ohio Auditor Moves to Recapture Profits from ECOT’s Contractors and Overpayment to Sponsor


For years in Ohio all sorts of people have been siphoning off profits from online charter schools—the giants like ECOT, smaller online schools, and private companies with which the schools contract for management and curriculum. There have also been overpayments to nonprofit charter school sponsors, the organizations that Ohio pays as a percentage of any school’s enrollment to authorize the opening of the school and subsequently to oversee its operations.  Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the state pays the sponsors to pretend to oversee charter schools while they pad their operating budgets with state money.

Now, suddenly, Dave Yost, Ohio’s state auditor, has stopped looking the other way. In a story this blog has been tracking, the state has now halted a 2003 practice of paying online charter schools a per-pupil fee merely for providing 920 hours of curriculum per year.  Beginning in 2015, the state…

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Words of Encouragement for Writers

Live to Write - Write to Live

encouragement for writers Sand in your bathing suit is good for your writing.

Words of encouragement can help writers stick with penning words to the page. Here are some that have helped me.

“The most difficult and complicated part of the writing process is the beginning.”  ~ A.B. Yehoshua

Starting a project is like shifting into first gear on manual transmission. A writer often hesitates, stalls, and jackrabbits before gaining momentum. It’s all about starting over – and over and over, until you’re at highway speed.

“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes makes its way to the surface.” ~ Virginia Woolf

Call it dreaming, calling it procrastination, call it an excuse to complete a crossword puzzle: there is something to be said for allowing the brain to freewheel for a bit – without engaging the gears.

So today, I encourage all writers to forgive themselves…

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Mercedes Schneider: Stagnation in ACT Scores of New Orleans Charter Schools

Mercedes Schneider calculated the ACT scores for the charter schools of anew Orleans.

This is a statistic that State Superintendent John White doesn’t want you to know.

It blows away the myth of the New Orleans miracle.

The NOLA recovery Svhool District has been stuck with an average hovering in the 16s. Not at all impressive. Not at all “college and career ready.” …

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Diane Ravitch's blog

Mercedes Schneider calculated the ACT scores for the charter schools of anew Orleans.

This is a statistic that State Superintendent John White doesn’t want you to know.

It blows away the myth of the New Orleans miracle.

The NOLA recovery Svhool District has been stuck with an average hovering in the 16s. Not at all impressive. Not at all “college and career ready.”

She writes:

“Guaranteed admission to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) requires an ACT composite of 23. For Louisiana State University (LSU), it’s a 22. For both the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) and Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU), an ACT composite of 21 is preferred, but either an ACT English score of 18 or an ACT math score of 19 is required.

“The average Xavier University undergraduate has an ACT composite ranging from 23 to 28, with Xavier advertising an ACT composite of 24 necessary…

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