Teachers Work to Maintain Momentum from Education Spring, Keep Schools’ Needs in Front of Voters


Earlier this week, Phi Delta Kappa released its annual poll of the public attitudes toward public schools. PDK’s new poll indicates that last spring’s walkouts by school teachers in six states—West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky and Colorado—influenced public opinion.

Conducted in May, the poll uncovered unusual support for raising the salaries of teachers: “Among key findings in this report are the remarkable support for improving teacher salaries…. Two thirds of Americans say teacher pay in their community is too low; just 6% say it’s too high.  An overwhelming 73% say they would support teachers in their community if they went on strike for higher salaries, including about 6 in 10 Republicans.”  But fewer people say they would want their own children to become schoolteachers.

The CEO of PDK International, Joshua Starr thinks the poll reflects contradictory attitudes about public education: “On one hand, it’s the cornerstone of democracy…

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DeVos Neglects to Help Public Schools Serve Neediest Students while She Pushes to Arm Teachers


Last week while Betsy DeVos stoked an uproar about possibly letting school districts use federal funding for guns to arm teachers, the Senate quietly passed its version of an appropriations bill for the Department of Education in Fiscal Year 2019. The House hasn’t yet passed any kind of education appropriations, and we’ll have to assume that a continuing resolution or a federal shutdown will follow on September 30—the date when next year’s FY19 budget is supposed to be finalized.

With all the sensational talk about teachers packing guns paid for with federal dollars, it is calming to read the rather routine details of the funding that the Senate just voted to appropriate. First off, Betsy DeVos had recommended that the Education Department’s budget be cut, but the Senate bill increases funding  by about $500 million, raising the overall departmental budget to $71.6 billion.  Under the Senate appropriations bill, Title…

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Today’s Philanthropy: Giving Back While Perpetuating Inequality and the Power of Big Money


Although he died in 2006, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, longtime pastor of New York’s Riverside Church and a lifetime advocate for justice, speaks to our times: “Charity is a matter of personal attributes; justice, a matter of public policy. Charity seeks to alleviate the effects of injustice; justice seeks to eliminate the causes of it. Charity in no way affects the status quo….”

Coffin continues: “We comfort ourselves with the thought that because our intentions are good (nobody gets up in the morning and says, ‘Whom can I oppress today?’) we do not have to examine the consequences of our actions.  As a matter of fact, many of us are eager to respond to injustice, as long as we can do so without having to confront the causes of it.”  Charity “is desperately needed in an economy whose prosperity is based on growing inequality.”

The meaning of these words

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Why Full Service, Wraparound Community Schools?

Excellent! Two thumbs up on this concept.


I once had the extraordinary experience of visiting a full-service, wraparound Community School. The school was in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan and part of a network of public schools operating in partnership with the Children’s Aid Society of New York City, an agency which also houses the National Center for Community Schools.

My group visited this school right at the end of the school day, when children had transitioned to a marvelous after-school program funded by a federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. There was a community garden at the school, and some groups of children were working in the garden, while others were chopping vegetables from the garden as part of a cooking project.  Another large group of children were creating a dance program. Right in the school building were a medical clinic where children could get immunizations, and next door a dental clinic and…

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In Funny Column, Gail Collins Explains Sad Subject of DeVos’s Deregulation of For-Profit Colleges

Well, if all this deregulation ends of scaring off prospective students and drives them back to their local public community colleges, that will be a huge benefit to one and all.


The NY Times‘ Gail Collins puts into perfect perspective the subject of the Trump administration’s deregulation of for-profit colleges and trade schools.  She begins, “Today let’s talk about the evil deeds of Betsy DeVos… (O)ur secretary of education has been busy, working to protect for-profit colleges from their students… Probably the first secretary of education with a $40 million family yacht that’s registered in the Cayman Islands, presumably to avoid American taxes.”

Collins emphasizes the irony: “We keep being told that Donald Trump was elected because working-class Americans were worried that their kids wouldn’t be able to move up in the world.  And now DeVos is making it easier for those very same kids to be cheated when they try to prepare for a career.”

Here is Collins making very understandable the tangled background of DeVos’s recent action on the for-profit colleges: “The Obama administration worked very hard to…

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William Mathis: What Standardized Tests Measure and What They Can’t Tell Us

Standardized testing is at cross purposes with many of the most important purposes of public education. It doesn’t measure big-picture learning, critical thinking, perseverance, problem solving, creativity or curiosity, yet those are the qualities great teaching brings out in a student. – Randi Weingarten
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/standardized


Since 2002, when the federal No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law, American public schools, and later their teachers, have been evaluated by the standardized test scores of their students.  States have been required to punish the schools with the lowest scores—firing their principals or some of their teachers, closing the schools, or turning them over to charter schools.  But the idea that we can judge schools and judge teachers by metrics—by the aggregate test scores of their students—evolved long before the passage of No Child Left Behind—even prior to the publication in 1983 of the A Nation At Risk report that is said to have begun the wave of standards-based school reform. Perhaps it has been part of growing enchantment with our society’s advancing capacity to collect and analyze data.

Today it is becoming widely acknowledged, however, that the strategy of test-and-punish didn’t improve public schools, didn’t…

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Journalist’s Resource: Research on today’s news

Journalist’s Resource

Research on today’s news


Covering health research? Choose your studies (and words) wisely

Many of the most popular news stories about health research include overstated findings or substantial inaccuracies, according to a study led by Noah Haber, a postdoctoral researcher at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We asked Haber how to avoid these issues.

New insights on US voters who don’t have photo ID

Voters who cast ballots in Texas and Michigan in November 2016 rarely lacked a photo ID, but those who did were disproportionately people of color, two new working papers

The doctor will see you now: When the neighborhood is a patient
A partnership between Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and community organizations that treated an ailing neighborhood as a “patient” helped improve housing and quality of life in the area.

Some employers discriminate based on commute

Low-wage employers in Washington, D.C., discriminate against applicants with longer commutes
and those with stereotypical “black” names, finds a study by David Phillips, a research associate professor at the University of Notre Dame.

DeVos Cancels Gainful Employment Rule, Deregulates For-Profit Colleges and Trade Schools


In late July, the NY Times Erica Green reported that her newspaper had obtained a plan by the U.S. Department of Education to cancel the Obama Department of Education’s “gainful employment rule,” which has denied federal loans and grants to for-profit colleges and trade schools whose graduates were so poorly prepared they were unable to secure jobs by which they could pay off their sizeable student loan debts.

On Friday, Green followed up.  Now two weeks later Green documents that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has now formally implemented her plan to eliminate the Obama-era rule designed to protect student borrowers from for-profit colleges that had made inflated claims about job preparation: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formally moved Friday to scrap a regulation that would have forced for-profit colleges to prove that the students they enroll are able to attain decent-paying jobs, the most drastic in a series of policy…

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Beware Democrats Trying to Burnish the Reputation of Corporate School Reform

Bill Clinton and Arne Duncan and like-minded Dems were no friends of public schools then or now.


Suddenly Democrats who bought into corporate school reform seem to be worried that their ideas—underwritten in federal law for over fifteen years—are slipping out of the public consciousness and losing public support.  This summer as we approach midterm elections, Democrats who have enthusiastically supported corporate school reform are scurrying to burnish their own reputations and extend the life of their favorite education strategies by repackaging their ideology ahead of the November election to help elect state candidates sympathetic to their cause.

Some history: How did so many Democrats join with Republicans around a school reform agenda based on business-school incentives, high-stakes accountability and marketplace competition in the form of privatized charter schools?

For over two decades In Washington, D.C., business-driven school reform has been a bipartisan cause. Political leaders in both major parties have relentlessly pursued school reform dominated by a business-accountability strategy that was embedded in the language, philosophy…

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What Is the Legacy of Renaissance 2010 School Choice in Chicago?


On Tuesday evening’s PBS NewsHour, I was surprised as I listened to an interview about the tragic gun violence in Chicago last weekend to hear the speaker name public high school closures as among the causes. Certainly exploding economic inequality, poverty, lack of jobs, the presence of street gangs, and other structural factors are contributing to this long, hot summer in Chicago. But Lance Williams, a professor at Northeastern Illinois University, blamed Renaissance 2010, a now-20-year-old charter school expansion program, for today’s violence.

Professor Williams expressed particular concern about the phase out of neighborhood high schools: “(Y)ou’re seeing the violence on the West Side and the South Sides of Chicago because, about 20 years ago, in the early 2000s, the city of Chicago implemented some very, very bad public policy. The most damaging of those policies was the policy of Renaissance 2010, when Chicago basically privatized, through charter schools…

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