Should A Teacher Be Secretary Of Education?

Would she be a good secretary of education?

This is part of the value of having a clown car full of candidates for a Presidential primary: the contest becomes a primary of ideas, and certain notions gain traction by spreading across the field of candidates. Not that gaining traction means those ideas will ultimately prevail (a widespread notion among the 2016 GOP field was that Donald Trump was unfit to be President), but it’s still an intriguing process.

One up-and-coming education policy idea that was first proposed by Elizabeth Warren, but has now garnered wider candidate support, is the notion that a teacher should be the next secretary of education. At last count, four major candidates were supporting some version of the idea. It’s an arresting and appealing idea. Betsy DeVos is widely seen as a controversial opponent of public education, and in many education circles, predecessors like Arne Duncan were not much loved, either. Many teachers feel that the folks in DC just don’t get it, so the idea of someone from the trenches who would, presumably, get it–well, it’s an attractive idea. Now we have to ask–is it a good idea?

The devil, as always, is in the details …

Latest Michigan GOP road-funding scheme: Divert up to $10B in teacher pension funds by selling bonds to free up infrastructure cash 


But Michigan Republican legislature leaders are working on a plan to restructure the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System to pay for roads.

According to this July 7 article by reporter Chad Livengood in Crain’s Business Journal, at least one conservative economist is calling the plan is “dangerous,” while municipal bond research firm partner describes it as a “gimmick” which will likely be “strongly frowned upon in the market.”


A newspaper commits a cardinal sin, plus more NYT vs. Trump and Bryan Cranston’s kind words – Poynter

This is the Poynter Institute’s daily newsletter. To have it delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here. June 10, 2019 Good Monday morning, although it’s not such a good Monday in St. Louis. The beloved hockey team there, the Blues, did not win Sunday night — and it just might have been the fault of the […]

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Tom Jones

| June 10, 2019 at 12:54 am | URL:

Source: A newspaper commits a cardinal sin, plus more NYT vs. Trump and Bryan Cranston’s kind words – Poynter

Gary Rubinstein: Success Academy’s Curious Test Scores

Diane Ravitch's blog

Gary Rubinstein tries to decipher the paradoxical test scores At Eva Moskowitz’s controversial Success Academy.

For years, the No-Excuses charter chain has posted sky-high test scores, which skeptical observers attribute to the chain’s practices of exclusion and attrition.

However, Gary has noted this strange contradiction: SA students get high scores on state tests but low scores on high school Regents exams and on the exams for selective high schools in New York City.

Could it be that they do test prep for the 3-8 grade tests but have not cracked the code for the high school tests?

He writes:

Last year I wrote about how the top charter chain in New York City, Success Academy, only managed to have three students get between 52% and 72% of the questions correct on the Algebra II Regents…

Success Academy had 130 9th graders in the 2017-2018 school year.  Presumably most, if not…

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Carol Burris: Don’t Let Democratic Candidates Get Away With: “I’m Against For-Profit Charters”

Diane Ravitch's blog

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, writes here about the efforts by most Democratic candidates to avoid confronting the dangers of privatization:

When Democratic candidates are questioned about charter schools, many typically reply, “I am against for-profit charter schools.” Everyone cheers. Politicians have created a convenient (and false) dichotomy that says nonprofit charter schools are good, and for-profit charter schools are bad.

Don’t be fooled. There are now only 2 states that allow for-profit charter schools—Arizona and Wisconsin. California changed  its laws. 

However, 35 states allow for-profit Charter Management Organizations (CMOS) to run their nonprofit charter schools

40% of the charter schools in Florida are run by for-profit charter management companies. While the individual charter is a nonprofit, it can turn over everything from hiring, to curriculum, to financial management to a for-profit corporation. In Michigan, 80% of the so-called nonprofit charter schools are run…

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Peter Greene: The Essential Foolishness of the Fordham-CAP “Moonshot”

Diane Ravitch's blog

Peter Greene writes here about the “moonshot” to transform American education, co-sponsored by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the allegedly liberal Center for AMERICAN Progress. Peter points out that this collaboration demonstrates that both sides of the DC Establishment endorse corporatedceducarion reform (despite its manifest failure for the past 25 years).

He compares their competition to education’s version of the self-driving car.

He writes:

Do you mean something that’s promoted relentlessly but is still far off in the future? Or do you mean a program that faces major obstacles that tech-cheerleaders just sort of gloss over?

Perhaps you meant a tech-based solution that strips all participants of power and agency and gives it instead to a bunch of programmers? Or did you mean a new tech initiative that promises to make a bunch of people rich?

Or do you mean something that can fail with really catastrophic…

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Benton Harbor, MI: Commissioner Ron Singleton Reviews Options for District

Diane Ravitch's blog

This statement by Benton Harbor Commissioner Ron Singleton was posted on the blog as a comment:

I spoke with teacher and different members of our community to put recommendations for the department of education to consider. Here is a copy of the suggestions. We have to wait and see what happens, it’s to my understanding others have sent suggestions also, hopefully we will all Make an impact. Benton Harbor Commissioner Ron Singelton.

Action Plan Committee to Save Benton Harbor School System.

Ask the governor to appoint the University Of Michigan School Of education to administrate the Benton Harbor School district with the Benton Harbor School Board in an advisory capacity. The board is to learn and over time resume control. Be it understood the University Of Michigan will hire and fire educational staff, provide resources and do what is deemed necessary to have the students in the Benton Harbor School…

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Social-Emotional Learning’s Transformation of Schools is Worrisome

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is being pushed into public schools. It could mean many things, restorative justice, meditation, anti-bullying programs, and much more. But SEL is not just an add-on program. It’s whole-school systematic change from teaching academics to focusing on students and personality formation. Books and online programs galore are being written about SEL and […]

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Amash and the threat to the Two Party System

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

On July 4, 3rd Congressional Representative Justin Amash announced that he was leaving the Republican Party. This announcement has received a great deal of local and national media attention.

Much of the coverage about Amash’s decision to leave the Republican Party refers to his opinion piece from the Washington Post, but most of the coverage is speculative and doesn’t raise larger questions about the two-party political system that dominates US electoral politics.

WZZM 13 ran an interview with Amash on July 5th, an interview that did step outside the normal partisan boundaries, an interview that is worth watching. 

In this interview, Amash talks about his decision to leave the Republican Party, his response to the Trump administration and partisan politics. Party politics was one of the questions he responded to, by saying:

What frightens me is people turn into zombies. They go to Washington and they will be telling me…

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“Classrooms and Hope” — Mike Rose’s Reflection for the Holiday Weekend


If you care about children, it is pretty easy to get discouraged in a country where state budgets are shorting schools, where we celebrated the 4th of July yesterday with tanks, and where children are being warehoused at the southern border in unsanitary, unsafe, and frightening conditions.

It is the holiday weekend when we celebrate who we want to be as a nation.  Where is there something hopeful we can focus on in 2019?  The UCLA education professor and wonderful writer, Mike Rose contemplates this question in a blog post earlier this week: “What in our lives acts as a counterforce to the dulling and blunting effects of evil, helps us see the good, hold to it, and work toward it?”

Rose, the educator who wrote a book about a four year trip across the United States—a journey in which he visited hundreds of classrooms and observed teachers—answers his own…

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